Archive for the ‘publishing’ Category

Painting The Writing Master by Thomas Eakins

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Kristen Lamb a savvy writer on any social media topic, and her latest post is no exception. It is a must read for any writer, whether traditionally or independently published. Even if you’re thinking of publishing your work, you’ll want to read this article.

First, Kristen Lamb talks about different kinds of platforms:

The Traditional Author

If you are agented and likely to be traditionally published, you have the backing of a publisher, an editor, an agent and people hired to help your books succeed. Thus, the burden of sales and marketing doesn’t rest solely on your shoulders. Focus on writing the best book you can write.

But, is a good book alone enough? No. And it never has been. How can I say this? I like to cite the BEA statistics of 2006. 93% of all books published (traditionally and non-traditionally) sold less than 1000 copies. So, for traditional authors, even with all those people working in your favor, the failure rate can be sobering of you rely solely on a good book alone. Historically, a writer had no control over changing these odds. Now, we have social media so we can help spark word-of-mouth. We are no longer forced to gamble, and that rocks 😉 .

Also, what we need to always keep in mind is that social media has changed demands placed on traditionally published writers. Many times the publisher will expect the author to help with her own marketing and promotion. This is easier to do if when your first book is published, you aren’t trying to pull a platform out of the ether.

For the traditionally published author, you don’t need to do as much. If you want to blog and tweet and Facebook, then go for it. I think the stronger your platform, the better. My opinion? Being traditionally published does have advantages.There really isn’t a need to have a social platform the size of a self-pubbed author unless you want one. A great author to follow who has THE BEST advice for the traditionally published author is Jody Hedlund. Another fountain of wisdom in this crazy world? Anne R. Allen. Bookmark their blogs and listen to every word they tell you. These ladies will keep your head straight.

The Hybrid Author

Some of you might fall into the traditional category. Ah, but you have a bit of a wild side that likes to write essays, poetry , short stories, death threats, or manifestos. Now, in the changing paradigm, there is finally a cost-efficient way of getting these types of works to the reader. Ten years ago, no publisher would have taken a second look at a book of poetry because it might only sell 500 copies. It just was a terrible investment with dismal returns for the publisher and even the author.

Now? Just e-publish. Those 500 copies that looked so depressing before, now are darn spiffy sales numbers if you’re keeping 100% and putting out only time, effort, and a minimal cash investment. So, if you are wanting to try your hand at selling some self-published items, you need to have a larger platform and a greater presence to drive those sales. Pay attention to Chuck Wendig. He makes the second-oldest-profession-in-the-world look good and is not above showing a little leg.

The Indie

Yes, for the sake of brevity I am lumping a lot of stuff together. Indie has a lot of different flavors and I highly recommend listening to Bob Mayer and Jen Talty. Take one of their workshops because they are the experts when it comes to all the different publishing options in the new paradigm.

If you are an indie author, you have the backing of a small independent publisher. There is the upside of not being completely all on your own. I am with Who Dares Wins Publishing and I am blessed with a lot of expertise I don’t even know if I have the smarts to learn.

But, we need to point of the pink elephant in the room.

As awesome as indie presses are, logic dictates that most of them won’t have the manpower to help us in promotion and marketing like Random House or Penguin. We don’t get book placement in major chain bookstores or WalMart or Costco. We need a VERY LARGE PLATFORM. Sure, the indie press will help, but the lion’s share of the burden is ours.

Many new writers are carving out a career path by starting indie in hopes it will lead to traditional publication. Yet, here’s the deal. NY will want to see high sales numbers. Our social media platform is critical.

The Self-Published Author

Some of you love being in control of all aspects of your career. Web design, book covers, uploading? No sweat. There have been some tremendous success stories that have come out of the self-publishing world—Amanda Hocking, H.P. Mallory and John Locke are three that come to mind. These folks didn’t already have a name branded by traditional publishing. They rose out of the nothing with their own hard work….but boy did they WORK.

I was blessed enough to meet H.P. Mallory and listen to how she sold a bazillion books in six months and I needed a nap. John Locke? He is a MACHINE. I read his How I Sold a Million Books in Five Months and I thought it could be retitled as How to Kill a Writer in Less than a Year. The amount of work, planning, strategy was incredible (and I say this with the utmost amount of respect awe and yes…jealousy).

Yet, I do need to point out that Hocking, Mallory and Locke have all since signed with traditional/larger publishers. I think there comes a point when the workload is too much to maintain alone and long-term, but that might just be my opinion. Would have to ask them.

Thus, when we start thinking about our writing career, we need to be really honest about how much work we can do. Too many new writers think that self-publishing is a panacea, that all they need to do is upload their genius and people will buy.

Um…no.

If we look at the self-publishing success stories, the harder they worked, the luckier they got. Same with indie. If you are considering any kind of publishing outside of the traditional route, then ask the hard questions.

Can you write and maintain a blog and a social media presence? Can you do guest posts and blog tours and contests and create groups? Can you do all of his without the quality of your books suffering? Can you keep writing more books? In indie publishing and self-publishing, it is becoming clearer and clearer that those writers who can turn out books and quickly create a backlist are the ones that are the most successful.

What is your background and what do you bring to the table? Do you already possess a lot of technical expertise? H.P. Mallory left a career in Internet sales. She built her own website and uploaded, formatted and designed covers for all of her own books. If you don’t have the tech savvy, do you have money to hire people to do it for you? John Locke did. What is your background? Both Mallory and Locke came from a background in sales. That is a driven and fearless personality.

If you are writing under three pen names because you fear your family will find out you want to be a writer, then this might not be the best path. Things like time, money, background and personality all need to be considered when it comes to tailoring the right platform to the right publishing choice.

It is a wonderful time to be a writer and the sky is the limit. There are all kinds of generous people willing to offer time, help and expertise. My favorites are Jane Friedman, Porter Anderson, and Bob Mayer. And if you are an unpublished writer?

Feel free to start with the Snuggie, but eventually? Yeah, you will have to hand it over lest it become your Lazy Blanket.

The above is only a part of Kristen Lamb’s excellent article, I would encourage you to read the entire thing. You can find it here: Beware the Social Media Snuggie — One Size Does NOT Fit All.

Joe Konrath broke his hiatus to, among other things, release some of his sales figures. I was amazed.

Joe writes:

Here are my latest royalty statement figures for my six Hyperion titles and my Hachette title, for Jan 1 – June 30, 2011. Paper sales are hardcover and mass market combined.

Whiskey Sour paper sales: $1450.00
Whiskey Sour ebook sales: $5395.00

Bloody Mary paper sales: $463.00
Bloody Mary ebook sales: $2591.00

Rusty Nail paper sales: $226.00
Rusty Nail ebook sales: $3220.00

Dirty Martini paper sales: $415.00
Dirty Martini ebook sales: $3370.00

Fuzzy Navel paper sales: $485.00
Fuzzy Navel ebook sales: $3110.00

Cherry Bomb paper sales: $224.00
Cherry Bomb ebook sales: $3864.00

Afraid paper sales: $1608.00
Afraid ebook sales: $12,158.00

My jaw made a popping sound as it hit my desk. I had no idea that writers could make that kind of money from ebooks compared to print.
You can read the rest of Joe’s article here: Guest Post by Lee Goldberg (and Konrath talks numbers)

These ten steps will help you painlessly jump-start your new adventure. Although most of these steps are very easy to accomplish, I believe that they will help you quickly lay the foundation for a successful self-published book. Now is your chance to go for it. Have fun.
– Joseph C. Kunz Jr

Joseph has written a great article. My favorite point is his last one: Start your next book.

1. Realize that this is a business: Self-publishing is a business. It can be your side-business, main business, or even be your hobby. But you must still run it like a business. That means you will need to learn the basics of management, marketing, sales, public relations, accounting, negotiation, etc.

2. Start your due-diligence: You must research what will be involved in self-publishing. Buy several of the most popular books about self-publishing, such as those by Dan Pointer and Robert Bly. Visit the popular self-publishing blogs, such as TheBookDesigner.com and Publetariat.com. Visit the biggest websites that can sell your book, such as SmashWords and Scribd.

3. Keep your current job: This will ensure that you will have a regular paycheck. It is also very important to keep building your resume. A good resume will help build your credentials and be your proof of your accomplishments. This will give you more credibility with your readers.

4. Discover your niche: In today’s terms, this means “micro-niche”. As a self-publisher you will most likely find the biggest success by narrowly defining your market niche. It is much easier to become an expert in a very specific market where it is much less crowded with big well-established writers and publishers.

5. Start with an ebook: This is the smartest way to get started. It is fast and inexpensive. It is the perfect way to dip your toes into the water and see how comfortable it is. Starting with an ebook allows you to feel out your market. It also allows you to make any changes or corrections well before sending your book to a print-on-demand printer and distributor.

6. Set-up your blog: Once you figure out what your niche is, start your free WordPress blog right away. This will get your creative juices flowing. It will also establish an internet home for you where you will show the world your expertise in your niche.

7. Get your spouse/partner on board: It is important to keep your family involved with a decision like this. Keeping your family informed and involved will help keep all of you happy.

8. Join professional groups: This will help keep you informed of what is going on inside your market niche. These same people might also become the market for your book. Professional affiliations also give you more credibility with your readers.

9. Advocate for your target market/audience: Nowadays, especially because of the internet, you can immediately start to show the world that you are an expert. Start writing for industry publications and websites.

10. Start your next book: Now that you have accomplished the previous steps, keep the momentum that you have built-up going. Keep improving your business model. Never stop learning about marketing and promotion. Keep enhancing your blog. Keep improving your first book. Start your next book.

Read Joseph’s article here: Jump-Start Your Self-Publishing Adventure in 10 Steps

On Thursday, the Writers’ Union of Canada released “A Writer’s Bill of Rights for the Digital Age.” … Demands include that

“the publisher shall split the net proceeds of ebook sales equally with the author”

and that

“when a book is out of print in print form, continuing sales in electronic form shall not prevent a rights reversion to the author.”

Author Greg Hollingshead, chair of the Writers’ Union of Canada, answered some questions about the bill of rights.

Read the article here: Writers’ Union of Canada issues digital “Bill of Rights”

Kristine Kathryn Rusch writes:

Traditional publishing is going to do just fine. Traditional publishing is going to find writer after writer unwilling to learn the business, writer after writer lining up for the “honor” of being published in lieu of actual money, and, if the traditional publisher is lucky, a few of those writers will become bestsellers.

The rest of those writers will become disillusioned. They’ll go to writers conferences and sit in the bar and kvetch about how impossible it is to make money at writing these days. They’ll talk about the way their publisher screwed them, and they’ll never ever ever take responsibility for the fact that they signed the boneheaded contract in the first place without a single attempt at negotiation.

They’ll give all of us professionals a bad name.

But it won’t matter. Because most of us professionals will only take traditional publishing deals when the deals are advantageous to our business. And the rest of the time, we’ll publish our own books.

We’ll have careers because we are responsible. And we’ve taken the time to learn the business of publishing as well as the craft of writing.

We’re professional writers—emphasis on the word “professional.” And these other published writers? The ones who take the crap deals and do a ridiculous amount of work for no pay?

Those people might be writers, but that’s all they are. They’re certainly not professionals.

Kris Rusch let loose this Thursday and wrote one of her best blog posts ever. She explains that she “had started with some namby-pamby crap that had nothing to do with the topic at hand” and then her frustration got the better of her.

Kris writes:

You see, I’m really getting frustrated. I’ve been doing these blogs for months now, pointing out the various problems with traditional publishing, talking about the changes and the opportunities presented by the e-book and POD revolution, and warning writers to watch their backs on contracts, on their work time, on compromising too much for too little return.

And then what happens? From the World Science Fiction Convention in late August until now, people who should know better have been telling me about their business decisions. That “should know better” refers not just to the decision, but to telling me about it. Because in every single case but one, they’ve contacted me after the decision was made, and wanted me to validate it or to pat them on the head and tell them they did a good thing.

One person even admitted they had “probably made a mistake, but it’s not that bad, right?” Well, it was bad. On the scale of business decisions in the last 20 years, it wasn’t Enron or even what’s going on with Netflix right now, but it was most certainly boneheaded and it certainly made me glad that my career wasn’t tied to that person’s.

Here’s what happened to occasion the ire that inspired Kris’ post:

Since the beginning of August, six different authors have talked to me, emailed me, or called me, asking my advice about a new “deal” that someone in their traditional publishing company offered them. (By traditional publishing company, I mean one of the misnamed Big Six [it’s not six, that’s wrong, but I’ve railed about it elsewhere to no avail]. i mean one of those publishing houses we’ve all heard of, whose books we all have on our shelves.)

These companies are telling their authors to write a short story or a novella (or short novel) that will be e-book only. The short piece doesn’t have to stand alone. It should be part of an ongoing series of books that the publishing house has under contract from the author. It’s a “loss leader” to get readers into the book series.

The publishing company plans to offer the e-book at a very cheap price or for free to establish interest in the series, and because that e-book will be cheap, the company says, it wants to keep its up-front costs low. So it really can’t afford an advance, but it will pay 25% of net on royalties when/if the e-book sells.

Now realize that these are the deals offered by major publishers to bestselling writers on bestselling series. No advance, and a crappy 25% of net on royalties—of a book that will probably be selling for free for only a short time.

Six writers that I know of have taken this deal, three from companies that are having troubles accurately reporting their e-book sales. Two of those writers told me they knew that, but it “didn’t bother them much.” Um…what?

I think that one of the key points here is that the authors didn’t get an advance from companies (these are all Big Six comapanies) who are known to underreport ebook sales. Kris continues:

But chances are, if you are truly a bestseller—and both contracts said in the book description, a story/novella/short piece “in the Author’s bestselling series”, so I’m not making any assumptions here—then your editor will sigh a little when you ask for an advance, and then pony up the money.

Because editors are smart and they know business and they were simply trying to do what their boss wanted, which was to get as many rights from you for as little money as possible.

And in the case of five of the six authors (I still don’t know what the sixth did), those publishers made out like bandits. These writers might see a few measly pennies on this deal, but I’ll wager you that the writers will not get the money they’re owed. After all, at least three of these deals were offered by companies who are being investigated for underreporting royalties on e-books. One of these deals comes from a company being sued for underreporting royalties on paper books.

These authors all knew that. And they still made a royalty-only deal with these companies.

See why I want to scream? Really and truly scream? Because it doesn’t make sense—not in any business world, not in any way. These writers gave their work away to a company that doesn’t deserve their trust. And at least four of these writers are slow writers. They can’t afford to give away anything, because it’s a goodly portion of their yearly output.

To read the rest of Kris’ article, click here: The Business Rusch: Professional Writers

Here’s the idea: You have an electronic book to sell but how can you show it to potential customers at, say, a convention? How can a bookstore sell your electronic book? It is stating the obvious, but ebooks aren’t like paper books, you can’t just hand the book to someone.

Sure, you can direct them to Amazon.com and say, “Well, just search on ‘Until Death’ … and maybe add ‘Karen Woodward’ so you’re sure to get the right ‘Until Death’ … I mean, who knew certain titles would be so popular! You’ll remember all that? Right?”

No. They won’t. The solution? Book cards! This is Dean Wesley Smith’s idea and I think it’s brilliant. I’ll let him describe it:

Each “book card” had two parts.

Part one was the plastic gift card the size of a credit card and the same thickness. The cover of the book is printed on one side, the code and instructions on the back. We used these cards alone for a sort of business card as well, since the cards had our web site addresses as well as WMG Publishing website address.

As you can tell from the image up to the left, these credit-card-sized book covers were way cool.

Dean cautions that,

For the next few years, until book cards become more accepted by bookstores, I do not see them being economically viable for an indie publisher to produce for every book for sale. It would take too long to return the printing investment.

But WOW are they great promotion. Worth every penny.

Let me say that again. On special books and for events, book cards are worth every penny.

He closes by saying …

Honestly, I see book cards becoming a major way for bookstores to sell electronic books in four or five years. It’s going to take traditional publishers to jump onto the idea to make it easier for indie publishers to get book cards into bookstores.

And book cards, packaged like gift cards, have a huge market in major supermarkets and other major retail stores besides bookstores, placed right beside all the other gift cards that have already gotten into those stores.

Electronic books are clearly going to be over 50% of all books sold within five years. This is a way to get those books into reader’s hands and thousands of new markets that paper books are too expensive and large to get into.

And from the author perspective, all I can say is that they are great fun. These are fantastic promotion.

Now it is up to traditional publishers to get this going. Cindie and I gave copies of these to many New York editors and a couple major New York publishers who really, really loved the idea.

First publishers have to train bookstores.

And then bookstores have to train readers that they can buy their electronic books in a regular bookstore.

It will happen.

Read Dean Wesley Smith’s entire article here: Book Cards Work.

Apple Inc. has been accused of price fixing.

Hagens Berman, a consumer rights class-action law firm, today announced it has filed a nationwide class-action lawsuit claiming that Apple Inc. is guilty of illegal price fixing related to the Agency Model for pricing e-books. HarperCollins, Hachette, Macmillan, Penguin and S&S are also named in the suit.

Read the rest here: New US Lawsuit Accuses Apple of E-Book Price Fixing