Showing posts with label self-publishing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label self-publishing. Show all posts

Thursday, January 24

How To Succeed As A Writer: The Value Of Failure

How To Succeed As A Writer: The Value Of Failure

We've all failed. Seth Godin believes that failing is good but that failing big is even better. Why? Because unless you're failing you're not really trying. (NexGen Interviews - Seth Godin)

But how does this philosophy apply to writers? That's something I've been thinking about lately. This morning I came across How to Become a Writing Rockstar: A Simple Guide. In it Henri Junttila asks: What is the goal of writing?

When we know what the goal is, perhaps he can understand how failure can help us. So, here's what Henri thinks the goal of writing is: To write authentically, to write honestly. "When you stay true to your quirky self, you are already a rockstar."

That echoes something Seth Godin said:
We should blow up the expectations of writing and say something worth saying and say it in a way that’s personal. It turns out that the internet, for the first time in the history of mankind, says to everyone, ‘Here’s a microphone. If you want to talk, talk. If you want to write, write. If you want to make a difference, make a difference.’ How horrible it would be to refuse to take your turn at the mic. (Why We Are All Artists: Seth Godin in Conversation – Part 1)
You might say, "Oh, but what if people don't like me! What if I release my work on Amazon and I get a bunch of 1 star reviews?"

1. Failure Shows You How To Get Better

Here's why failure is so important: it shows you how to get better. Seth writes:
Bob Dylan was booed off the stage in 1967 when he went electric. He was booed off the stage in 1974 when he went Gospel. He’s been booed off the stage since then and yet he still fills theaters. The Monkeys, on the other hand, have never been booed off the stage and they’re just an oldies act. Being booed off the stage is a key part of being an artist. (Part 1)
So, congratulations! Sure, you failed, but you tried something. And, as a result, you learned something.

2. Failure Is Safer Than Not Failing

What you did is actually a very safe thing. Seth writes:
I want to use the words uncomfortable zone [rather than "danger zone"] because it is, in fact, a very safe place to be because it’s not fatal. No one ever died writing a blog post. What we’re saying here is that for a while anyway, the safest thing you can do is to be as uncomfortable as you can stand to be. (How to become a Successful Writer: Seth Godin in Conversation – Part 2)
Your writing career is not over because you wrote and published a story that people hated (and I'm pretty sure not everyone hated it). Remember: YOU didn't fail, your story did. 

The key: Don't take failure personally.

Seth Godin puts it this way:
Most people who are getting started in writing do not have the confidence of a best-selling author. They are not comfortable sharing their work far and wide. They’re not comfortable saying, ‘I don’t have a publisher. I’m going to publish myself. Here, I wrote this.’ They would rather have the safety that comes from saying, ‘Well, I didn’t decide this was good. Penguin decided this was good.’ ‘I didn’t decide this was worth reading. Simon and Schuster decided it was worth reading.’

My argument is that all the things that feel uncomfortable are actually the safest things you can do. To every novelist who is complaining or bitter about all the publishers who won’t publish them, I say: Take your novel, make it into a PDF. It’s free. E-mail it to fifty of your friends.

If your novel strikes a chord, they will e-mail it to their friends and the next thing you know, a million people will read your novel for free. If a million people read your novel for free, you’ll have no trouble whatsoever selling your next one.

On the other hand, if the fifty people you sent it to don’t share it with anyone, then you haven’t written a good enough novel, and you should start over. But either of those paths is better than sitting at home complaining about the fact that you can’t get published. (Part 1)
We’ve just eliminated scarcity. There used to be scarcity of shelf space, scarcity of publishers, and scarcity of paper. All that’s gone. There’s unlimited shelf space, unlimited digital paper, and an unlimited number of publishers. You can’t continue to blame scarcity for the fact that your writing isn’t in the world.

You have to accept that putting your writing out there is no longer difficult. What’s difficult is getting someone who encounters your writing to share it with someone else. That changes the kind of writing you should be doing. You shouldn’t ever again be writing to please an editor. (Part 2)
Seth admits to failing:
I don’t consider it a good day unless I fail. I’ve written thousands and thousands of blog posts. Most of them aren’t that great. I’ve written books that didn’t sell as well as the publisher wanted. I’ve launched internet projects that have fallen on their face. I’ve had negotiations where I completely misunderstood what the other person was looking for, or they misunderstood me, and we walked away from each other.

The Key To Success As A Writer

Don't write to please everyone. If you do that you'll please no one.
If you’ve accepted that the rules of the game are that you are not willing to write unless everyone likes what you write, then you’ve just announced that you’re an amateur, not a professional, and that you’re probably doomed. Whereas the professional writer says, ‘It is almost certain that most of what I write will not resonate with most people who read it, but over time, I will gain an audience who trusts me to, at the very least, be interesting.’ (Part 2)
The power of the internet, for writers, is that we can find a small group of people who are interested in the same things we are, the the things we write about. Seth writes:
I was in Iceland last week ... and one out of every six hundred people in the whole country came to see me speak. This would be the equivalent of fifty thousand people seeing me in the United States, which has never, ever happened.

Iceland teaches an important lesson. It’s such a tiny place, yet it’s possible to have a café that succeeds. The café succeeds not because everyone in Iceland goes there, but because enough people go. Whether you live in New Zealand, Malaysia or the United States, the internet connects you to four billion people.

All you need to make a living is for four thousand to adore you. And you need forty thousand to be a hit. That’s forty thousand out of four billion! Those are really good odds! (Part 2)

The Bottom Line

If failure is okay (but mistakes are not), then is there anything you shouldn't do? Seth Godin says there is one thing you should never be: boring. He writes:
Whether you’re a writer or the maker of widgets, you won’t be able to keep going if you’re boring. (Part 2)

Seth Godin's Advice To New Writers

Seth Godin was asked to give advice to new writers. What should a new writer do? His reply:
There are three steps: write, ship, share. When you write and ship and share and you see whether or not it resonates, you will get better at what you do.

The more you write and ship and share, the more people will come to depend on what you’re doing and the easier it’s going to be to spread your ideas. At some point, people will come to you and say, ‘I’m not getting enough of what you’re doing. Here’s some money’, or ‘I’m not getting enough of what you’re doing. Please come speak to my group’, or ‘I’m not getting enough of what you’re doing. Please coach me so I can do it too.’ But none of that happens until you write and ship and share. (Part 2)
My Question: Are you convinced? Do you think failure is necessary for success?

Other articles you might be interested in:

- The Magic Of Stephen King: A Sympathetic Character Is Dealt A Crushing Blow They Eventually Overcome
- Ray Bradbury On How To Keep And Feed A Muse
- Fleshing Out Your Protagonist: Creating An Awesome Character

Photo credit: "Stupid garbage compactor ..." by JD Hancock under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

Wednesday, November 14

Amazon Lists: The New Slush Pile?

Amazon Lists: The New Slush Pile?

Today I read a provocative article in The Miami Herald: Self-publishing industry explodes, brings rewards, challenges.

According to Chris Kenneally publishers as well as agents are looking at self-published books on Amazon as the new slush pile.
As self-publishing took off, a funny thing happened. The big publishers began watching the sales of self-published work on Amazon, and started offering successful writers traditional contracts.

“Publishers have always had places that they’ve gone to find the next crop of big bestsellers,” Kenneally said. “And frankly I’ve had literary agents tell me that Amazon Lists is the new slush pile. That this is a terrific way to find out if they have an audience, if they work, if people are willing to pick it up and love it.”

The most noteworthy may be fantasy writer Amanda Hocking, who put the first of her 10 novels featuring trolls, vampires and zombies online in 2010, made an estimated $2 million over the next year, and signed a four-book contract with St. Martin’s Press by the summer of 2011 for another $2 million.
Oh how times have changed. It used to be that if a writer self-published no publisher or agent would represent her. Now that's where publishers and agents look for new and upcoming writers.

I don't want to sound like a mother hen, but keep in mind that not all agents are equal and if an agent thinks they can make money off your writing chances are you can too, and all on your own.

That's another thing that's changed. Today, more than ever before, writers can do it all themselves.

It's a weird but wonderful time to be writing in. Cheers!

(Thanks to Passive Guy for posting a link to The Miami Herald articles.)

#  #  #

Okay, NaNoWriMo! My word count is 24,013 words and I'm hoping to pass the midpoint and get to 26,000 today. It's starting to hurt, I'm feeling the grind. But we'll do it, we'll finish! :)

Other articles you might like:
- Serial Fiction: Is It Profitable?
- What's The Difference Between Paranormal Romance And Urban Fantasy?
- How To Earn A Living As A Self-Published Writer

Photo credit: "Fruity Happy Apple Breakfast Cereal" by Pink Sherbet Photography under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

Thursday, September 27

7 Common Self-Publishing Fears And How To Banish Them

7 Common Self-Publishing Fears And How To Banish Them

You keep telling yourself that you will write an ebook someday … just not yet. And it’s almost certainly the case that one of the seven common fears in this article is holding you back.

Staying stuck isn’t any fun, so let’s get right to it …

Fear #1: I’m not ready
This is the biggest worry I hear from bloggers: I’m not ready.

All too often, the bloggers saying this are more than ready.

They’ve been blogging for six months, or a year, or longer.

Or they’re subject matter experts.

Or they’ve been writing for years or even decades.

Even if the longest thing you’ve written so far is a blog post, you probably are ready (or at least a lot closer to ready than you think).

Tip: Pick a date when you will begin your ebook, however unready you feel. Put it in your calendar.

Fear #2: I don’t know what to write about
This fear comes in two forms:

I have no ideas at all
I have so many ideas, I don’t know which to pick

The best way forward is to ask your audience.

Give them a list of your potential ideas and ask them to vote on their favorites. Even better, ask them what they’re struggling with, using open-ended questions.

Tip: Though open-ended questions are always best, you can use SurveyMonkey to run a multiple choice survey — it’s free at the basic level, and quick and simple for your audience to use.
Great advice! Here are the rest of the fears:

Fear #3: Nobody will buy it

Fear #4: It won’t be good enough

Fear #5: I don’t understand the technology

Fear #6: I don’t have a big list

Fear #7: I hate the idea of marketing

To have your fears dispelled, read Ali Luke's entire article: How to Beat 7 Common Self-Publishing Fears.

Other links you might enjoy:
- Want Help With Editing? Try Free Editing Programs
- The Key To Success: 3000 Words A Day
- John Gardner: You Aren't Fooling Yourself, You Really Can Do It

Photo credit: Yuliya Libkina

Thursday, July 26

How To Increase Your Sales: 6 Tips From A Successful Indie Author

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Elizabeth S. Craig, a Penguin/Berkley author who has recently taken the plunge and self-published, writes about what has worked for her. These are her tips, paraphrased:

1. Use a loss leader
This is what grocery stores do all the time, they price one thing low, the loss leader--for some reason it's often bananas--to try and get customers in the door then they sell everything else at a normal price confident that the average customer will buy much more than the loss leader.

2. Release your self-published title about the same time as a traditionally published one
Many folks aren't going to be able to take advantage of the publicity push arranged by a traditional publisher, but if you have one then take advantage of it!

3. Use your real name for your self-published books
It's easier for fans of your traditionally published work to find your self-published work that way. Elizabeth writes:
I’ve made more money following a traditionally published release in my own name (i.e., the recent Quilt or Innocence release) than following a release with a pen name (the November 2011 release of Hickory Smoked Homicide as Riley Adams.) This tells me that readers are looking for other books under my real name.
4. Make sure everyone is on the same schedule
This point isn't so much about increasing sales as making sure there will be a book to sell! Elizabeth advises keeping in contact with everyone on your team (if you have one)--your editor, formatter, and so on--to make sure that they have time to devote to your book.  Elizabeth writes:
From a production standpoint, I’ve learned that I have to think ahead in terms of reserving editors, artists, and formatters. Last year I was ready to put my first self-published book through the production process and everyone I contacted was busy. This time I will contact everyone on my team before I complete my final draft.
5. Release a print version as well as an ebook
This will help keep your fans happy.  Sometimes folks are used to reading paper books and they don't want to change. Setting up an account at CreateSpace is simple and cost-effective so there's no reason not to. (I haven't done this yet because I don't want the bother, but I know I should.)

6. Write the book your readers want to read
If, for example, niche books are popular in your genre, then think about writing one, especially if you're at the beginning of your writing career and few readers know your name. For instance, if you're a mystery writer, cozy mysteries are popular and might be a good way to build an audience. Elizabeth writes:
I'm thinking that niche books with built-in, dedicated audiences (like cozy mysteries) tend to do well with self-publishing. It certainly doesn't hurt, in my observations, to have traditionally published books releasing regularly, either.
To read Elizabeth's entire article, go here: A Few Self-Publishing Thoughts and Discoveries

I hope you've found something useful in amongst these six points. If anyone has anything to add, please do!

Elizabeth's self-published books:
- Progressive Dinner Deadly (A Myrtle Clover Mystery)
- A Dyeing Shame (A Myrtle Clover Mystery) -- [July 26, 2012: Only $0.99!]

Elizabeth's traditionally published books:
-  They're all listed over on Elizabeth's book page.

Related reading:
- Self Publishing: 3 Steps To Success
- 10 Reasons Why Stories Get Rejected
- How To Find The Right Freelance Editor For You

Wednesday, July 25

Writer Beware: The Return Of The Vanity Press


I was first introduced to the idea of the vanity press by Umberto Eco in his book Foucault's Pendulum. Eco does an excellent job of explaining why vanity presses have such a bad name: they are the literary equivalent of carnies and writers are their marks.

Years ago, before I had discovered Joe Konrath's blog, I confused vanity publishing with self publishing. Vanity publishing strips the author of their money and gives next to nothing back while self-publishing--publishing ones book oneself--is a sound business strategy.

I used to think vanity publishing was dead, driven out by a tsumami wave of embowered writers publishing their own work themselves.

I was naive.

For the past week or so I haven't paid much attention to the ads on my site. I apologize. Over the past two days I've noticed many of these ads were for businesses offering to help writers publish their books.

At first I didn't think much of it. It can make good sense for a busy person to pay someone to help with certain aspects of publication--help with cover design, line editing, content editing, formatting, and so on. These services can sometimes cost as much as $1,000 dollars. (I'm not including the cost of a book trailer, website, and so on.)

What I've just mentioned is still self-publishing because, and this is the key point, the writer themselves uploads the finished file to the stores where it will be sold (e.g., Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, and so on). If a book is self-published it means the writer published it rather than paying someone else to, as in traditional publishing. Yes, in traditional publishing the money flows to the writer. The publishing company shares the proceeds from each sale with you, the writer, because they are the ones who shelled out the money to publish your book. They've earned it.

At the very least, even if you get someone to help you upload the file to, for instance, Amazon, it is very important that you are the one who controls the accounts. This gives you access to your sales figures. You'll know exactly how many books you sold at each place (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, etc.), you'll set how much each book will be sold for and the retail outlet will give you detailed royalty statements. No guessing involved.

Now, someone might say, "But, Karen, I just don't want the bother! I'll gladly pay someone to do that sort of thing for me. I just want to hand my finished manuscript to someone, have them take care of the formatting, the cover design, the uploading. I don't want to have to bother with all those different accounts--one with Amazon, one with Smashwords, one with Barnes & Noble, one with Kobo; my head is hurting already!--I just want someone to take my manuscript, do it up, publish it and then send me a check every so often."

Okay. Fine. But that isn't self-publishing. You have two options: go the vanity press route, which I do not recommend, or shop your manuscript to traditional publishers.

If self-publishing isn't for you--and there's nothing wrong if it isn't--then by all means don't do it! There are many reputable publishers out there and sometimes small presses will accept projects that larger ones won't. But please don't waste your hard-earned money by going the vanity press route.

How to recognize a vanity press: The company charges you to format your book and then also takes a percentage of each sale.

One vanity press I contacted was offering, for the 'mere' sum of $5,000, to set the writer up with a website--how generous! When I asked if that included a blog they said no, a blog would be $350 extra. Uh huh.

Sorry for nattering on about this. I'm steamed. It bothers me when folks try and prey on writers. I'm not against writers paying others for help--cover art, formatting, editing, and so on--but for a company to charge outrageous sums for these services and then to also want 50% of all sales ... Wow. That's chutzpah.

Related reading:
- Self Publishing: 3 Steps To Success
- Penquin's Purchase Of Author Solutions: Going To The Dark Side?
- International Writers And The U.S. 30% Withholding Tax: Getting It Back

Links to reputable tradespeople:
After I published my post I got to thinking, it's one thing to say, "Stop! Don't do that!" and quite another to provide a solution. So I went over to Joe Konrath's page and looked at who he gets to help him out with formatting his books, his cover art, and so on. You can go over to his page and get this information, but I know he wouldn't mind my including it here as well:

- Joe Konrath's cover artist
- Joe Konrath's ebook designer
- Joe Konrath's print designer

Joe's books look fabulous so I have no hesitation offering these links. If anyone knows of any links they'd like to add to this list get in touch with me.

Tuesday, July 24

An interview With Jamie Sedgwick: Tinker's War Coming Sept 15th

Today I'm doing something different. Jamie Sedgwick is one of the first people to leave a comment on this blog and one of my first contacts in the indie community. When I heard he was coming out with a new book I knew I had to have him over for a visit.

1. Hi Jamie, it's wonderful to have you on my blog. I've chatted with you through blog comments so often over the last few years I feel as though I know you. Please tell those who might be meeting you for the first time a bit about yourself and your upcoming book, "Tinker's War.” 
Thanks for having me, Karen. Your blog is such a constant stream of information that I check it every day just to what’s news! You’re doing a great job. 
Tinker’s War is the sequel to my novel The Tinkerer’s Daughter, which is by far my best selling book. One reviewer described it as a: “…fabulous combination of YA, Elves, social issues and steampunk, I know go figure but it worked.” That about sums it up. My Tinkerer series is a fusion of high fantasy and steampunk, but clever readers will also find the influence of Japanese anime. 
I approached this series with the main character -a half-breed elven girl named Breeze- stuck in my head. I’ve always been fascinated by the social and cultural clashes over race, and I think this subject lends itself nicely to fantasy. That doesn’t mean it’s the overwhelming theme of the story, but it’s integral to the main character. Take this character and drop her into a frontier setting (like early 1800’s America), add an industrial revolution and a political coup, and you’ve got The Tinkerer’s Daughter. There’s a whole lot going on.

2. How long have you been a writer? What made you want to be a writer? 
2nd grade. I remember the day. I had an assignment to write a one-page story, and our teacher discussed the fact that some people did this for a career. I already loved to read but it hadn’t clicked yet that someone wrote those books. I started dreaming about being a writer that day and in a way, I still do. The reality of being a writer is that it can be real work, but it’s the best possible kind. 
3. I never know which term to use, independent author or self-published. In any case, are you indie and, if so, could you say a few words about why you made that choice? If you could do things over, would you do anything differently? 
I think those terms are two ways of saying the same thing, but I will admit that the self-published moniker brings a certain amount of baggage with it. I think Indie is a nice way to say self-published, but this term also implies that the author has done a lot of homework in the publishing process, whereas self-published draws up images of vanity publishers and people who will pay any price to see their work in print. I think the term Indie implies a certain degree of professionalism regarding editing, artwork, etc. In my case, it also means that I filed for a business license and started my own publishing company. 
I made this decision out of necessity. Sadly, I couldn’t get published, mostly because I couldn’t get a second glance from any of the literary agents out there. I still have several hundreds of rejections stored on my computer and in paper files; rejections for books that have gone on to sell thousands of copies. I may not be buying a new house and paying cash like some Indie authors out there, but I do feel a certain sense of validation from my experience. I’ve proven to myself that I can make a real business out of this, and my books that didn’t fit “in a competitive marketplace” might actually have some life in them. 
4. I noticed you've given your website,, a makeover. Very nice! Let me ask you, do you think every writer needs a web-presence of some sort, whether that be a website or a blog or simply a webpage with information about their books? 
Thank you! I’ve gone through a love/hate thing with my website over the last few years. I became convinced at one point that blogs would replace websites completely for writers, and I shut mine down. I assumed that readers would want personal contact with writers and nothing else would suffice. I was wrong. 
What I have learned is that the majority of readers do not go to your blog and they only glance at your website. Authors who sell thousand of books rarely have more than a couple hundred followers. Even authors who sell millions never seem to get more than a couple thousand followers. That’s a tiny fraction of their market. In fact, most of those fans seem to be other writers, rather than readers. 
However, readers do expect a website because they consider it a sign of professionalism. Anything less and some people assume you’re an amateur. So the website’s back, but I’ve made sure to keep it very simple and streamlined. Links and info… what more do you need? 
5. One person who has influenced me and my writing is Joss Whedon, Buffy was the first character I remember feeling was a take-no-prisoners kind of person who happened to be a girl. Who are your artistic influences? What authors or cultural figures have inspired you? 
Whedon is a genius, no doubt about it. I’m a huge Firefly fan and I remember seeing Buffy in the theater and kind of staring at it with my jaw hanging open. For me, it was pretty much the first urban fantasy. It was like the next generation of The Lost Boys and I knew then that it was going to be something huge. 
Literarily speaking, J.R.R. Tolkien was my first influence. I started reading fantasy very young and I found The Hobbit at age nine. I devoured it and reread it several times before moving on to LOTR. Of course, I branched out from there and I was probably influenced in some ways by most of the fantasy writers out there. Over time, I did find that movies started influencing my writing almost as much as literature. I love the rhythm of film, and the way the story moves through the acts and keeps our attention with all these little tricks. I keep trying to find a way to integrate some of that energy into my writing. I’m not sure if I’ve succeeded, only the readers can make that decision. 
6. The publishing industry has changed radically over the last few years, what advice would you give to a new writer? 
New is a relative term, I suppose. If you’re really, really new, don’t go Indie if you haven’t gotten some feedback on your work. If you’ve cranked out some work and you feel that you’re ready to face public scrutiny for better or worse, (and you have a thick skin) then go for it. Of course, it’s still not a bad idea to submit to agents and publishing houses. Your chances are one in a million, but who knows? You just might be that one. In that aspect, I’d say follow your heart. 
If you do choose Indie, this is my advice as of right now, but bear in mind this business is subject to overnight change: Write short! Some of the most successful writers out there are doing their books as a series of novellas. If you can capture an audience in thirty thousand words, then you can probably write a new book every month or two. Then you can combine those into a novel-length collection and sell that as well. E-book readers don’t seem nearly as concerned with word count anymore, they want regularity. They want a steady stream of new material. 
7. Here's a fun question -- or at least it's supposed to be! Someone asked me this in an interview and it was a lot of fun to think about. If you could live in one of your fictional worlds would you and, if so, which one would it be? 
That is a good question. My answer is Hank Mossberg, Private Ogre, without a doubt. The setting is San Francisco (which is located less than an hour’s drive from where I live now), but there’s a magical undercity in a cavern beneath the streets, and it’s home to all sorts of fantasy and fairy creatures. The series tries to capture the feel of a pulp/noir detective story and bring that into a contemporary urban fantasy. Elven gangs packing sub machine guns, goblins who are pixie-dust drug dealers, and a stony-faced ogre representing the law… seriously, how cool is that? I have a feeling I’ll be writing that series for a while. 
8. When is your new book, Tinker's War, coming out and where can folks buy it? Also, are you going to have print copies available for purchase as well as digital? If you are coming out with a print version would you mind saying a few words about which POD solution you chose and why? 
September 15 is the official release date for Tinker’s War. It should be available in paperback and Kindle at on that date. I’ve pulled my distribution from other vendors in order to partake in Amazon’s Select program. I’ll probably stick with them through this year, and then reevaluate the program’s value. 
All of my full-length novels are available in paperback as well as e-book, and I publish them through Createspace. There are pros and cons to every P.O.D. service out there, but I found Createspace to be very affordable. They also allow me a great deal of control. Technically, it’s possible to upload and publish a paperback for less than $10 if you do it all yourself. They have a nice website that allows a complete overview of the process, so that you have a fairly complete idea of what you’ll get before you ever even order a proof. 
I do have plans to put out some hardcover work in the future, and I’m afraid that as they are now, Createspace will not be able to fulfill that need. But for trade paperbacks they’re hard to beat. 
9. Coming up with questions is hard work! Is there anything you'd like to say before this interview is over? 
You did a fantastic job, these were some great questions. Thanks for having me here! I would also encourage your readers to visit my blog if they like my books, and to follow it. Those who follow the blog and/or sign up for the newsletter get opportunities for special giveaways regularly. I’m currently publishing three to four novels a year, and most of my promotion goes right there. You’ve got nothing to lose, so swing by and sign up! 
Readers can find my entire collection at Amazon right here!

Thanks for all your kind words Jamie! My cheeks are burning. And thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to do this interview. I love your blog! You have eclectic interests and an addictive writing style. I'm looking forward to reading Tinker's War. Best of luck with the release, not that you need it!

Related links:
- Jamie's blog:
- Jamie's books:
- Jamie's website:

Thursday, July 5

Mystery Writer Elizabeth S. Craig's Reasons For Self Publishing

Don't worry, Elizabeth isn't saying goodbye to Penguin, but she has decided to write one book expressly for the purpose of publishing it herself. She writes:
It’s baffled me how acrimonious the traditional publishing vs. self-publishing debate has become. Emotions have run high in both camps and it seems to be centered around who’s right and who’s wrong.

I don’t think it matters who’s right and I don’t think it really matters what we choose to do with a particular book. We should probably just write plenty of books and experiment.

I’ve just handed in the fourth book of my Memphis Barbeque series to Penguin.

Now I’m writing a book to self-publish. I’ve self-published two other titles, but one was backlist and one was written for traditional publishing but didn’t sell. This is the first time I’ve written a book for the sole purpose of self-publishing it.

After that, I’ll be working on my 3rd book for the Southern Quilting mysteries for Penguin.

I couldn’t feel less-conflicted about it. I won’t try to shop the book I’m writing independently—it won’t be sent to my agent. I won’t agonize over the fact that I’m writing books for a traditional publisher and whether that means I’ll miss out on higher royalties.

Actually, it’s a real luxury to have more than one option. What’s a good approach for one book may not be right for another.
Exactly! I especially like this line: We should probably just write plenty of books and experiment. I couldn't agree more.

Read the rest of Elizabeth's article here: The Luxury of Having Options. Her wonderful Twitter feed is here: @elizabethscraig.
Elizabeth Spann Craig writes the Memphis BBQ mysteries (as Riley Adams) & the Southern Quilting mysteries (2012) for Penguin as well as the Myrtle Clover mysteries for Midnight Ink. (Taken from Elizabeth's Twitter bio.)
Cheers, and good writing!

Related reading:
- 5 Points To Ponder Before You Self Publish
- Amazon Award-Winner Regina Sirois & The Problems Of Indie Distribution
- How To Self Publish: An Introduction
- Kobo's Self-Publishing Portal: Report From A Beta Tester

Photo credit: Writers In The Storm Blog

Monday, July 2

Amazon's KDP Select, Kobo & PubIt: Joe Konrath & Blake Crouch Share Their Experiences

Joe Konrath published the post I've been hoping for ever since Amazon tinkered with its ranking algorithm. In his post, Exclusivity and Free, Joe is joined by Blake & Jordan Crouch, authors of Eerie, who share their experiences with various self-publishing platforms starting with PubIt!

Joe's post is a must-read for anyone who has self-published or is thinking about it. I'll summarize a few things here, but, really, head on over to Joe's site and read the original.

(Also, Black & Jordan Crouch are offering their book, Eerie, for free today (July 2), so head on over and pick up your copy.)

Here's the scoop:

Publishing platforms covered:
- Barnes & Noble's Nook/PubIt!
- Kobo's publishing program (Kobo is soon launching a self-publishing platform: Writing Life)
- Amazon KDP & KDP Select

Publishing platform that was the most flexible and author friendly: Kobo
What Blake had to say surprised me:
[I]n May, I had the opportunity to drop my best-selling title RUN into a Kobo promotion involving email blasts, coupons, and prominent placement on their landing pages. I could not have been more pleased with the results. RUN reached the top 10 on Kobo's overall list, stayed there for several weeks, and the rest of my catalog sold well in response. When you consider the size of Kobo's market share, the fact that I sold more books on Kobo in May than I did on Pubit! is astounding. It was only a few hundred dollars shy of beating Amazon for May, and it did beat Pubit! again in June. Even better, Kobo did not request exclusivity. Their writer-relations people are some of the friendliest, most proactive, responsive people in the business. Suggestions and requests I made last year were taken to heart. It's no secret that Kobo is on the verge of unveiling their own platform (Writing Life). If there is a company that could one day compete with the mighty Amazon, it's these guys. They're inventive, have far, far reaching plans to bring writers what could become the slickest digital publishing platform ever created, and they get that writers are customers. They listen. Best of all, my titles continue to sell and rank highly on Kobo's bestseller list, a month after the promos ended. I cannot say the same for Barnes and Noble. There is no other platform (aside from Amazon) where I've seen this level of "stickiness." If someone asked me what's keeping the majority of my titles out of KDP Select, I would have to say these guys.
That makes me more interested in hearing from authors who are testing out Writing Life before it's rolled out at the end of this month.

Pulbishing platform which sold the most books: Amazon
This was the least surprising thing Blake had to say. Every author I've talked to has admitted to selling more books on Amazon than on any other platform. That Kobo came close to Amazon's sales figures amazed me.

That said, Blake wasn't entirely pleased with his experiences with Amazon's KDP Select. He writes:
KDP Select opinion pieces are a dime a dozen. Amazon is still, hands down, the most lucrative platform for me. Even though the transition from free to paid sales appears to have weakened as of late, success stories like Ann Voss Peterson and Robert Gregory Browne are convincing enough for my brother and I to roll the dice and drop EERIE into KDP Select. I say this as someone who has had great success with free titles: they still make me nervous. I get the excitement of giving away 70,000 ebooks. The prospect of making new fans. But free, in the long run, is dangerous. It sets a bad precedent and level of expectation in the minds of readers. Am I a hypocrite for saying this while EERIE is free? Maybe. But if all the platforms did away with free, I'd be okay with that. As writers, we cannot keep going to that well. It will dry up. Kindles may be able to hold a gazillion ebooks, but readers can't read that many. The key is not being downloaded. It's being read.
This post is not going to end with a definitive conclusion on freebies and exclusivity. I'm uncomfortable with both concepts, even as I play the game. My sense is that the people who survive and continue to do well selling ebooks will be those who experiment, take risks, and adapt. We've said it before, but what worked yesterday, may not work today, and the possibility of a game changer (like KDP Select) is constantly looming. 
Publishing platform that has technical support staff from hell: Barnes & Noble's Nook/PubIt!
Although Blake and Jordan were "pleasantly surprised" by their books performance on PubIt! their sales rank was disappointing. He writes:

It [their book's sales rank] never seemed to correlate to a corresponding low rank. Even on days where we sold 400 books, our rank never dropped below 2000. I have no doubt this cost us many, many sales, a good chunk of money, and kept the book from every appearing on the BN bestseller lists. A real shame, because the marketing triggers that Pubit! pulled worked in a big way. The tech just wasn't there to support them, and their tech support staff just couldn't be bothered to give a damn.
But that aside, Pubit! clearly has some real marketing power, and the smaller window of exclusivity (as opposed to KDP Select's 90 day commitment) is a definite plus. When Pubit!'s tech support decides to follow the model of Kobo and Amazon and treat writers as customers instead of entities to be ignored, Pubit! could become a force.
Overall, Blake's experiences are encouraging. The promotions he ran with the various platforms worked and his book, in generally, ranked well.

Blake and Joe go on to discuss book pricing and the pros and cons of offering books for free. Joe just posted the blog, but already many authors have written in to share their experiences with various platforms and programs.

If you'd like to read Joe's post it's here: Exclusivity and Free
Read the comments here: Exclusivity and Free (Comments)

Related articles:
- Amazon Award-Winner Regina Sirois & The Problems Of Indie Distribution
- Amazon's KDP Select: Another Author Shares Her Experience
- Writing Life: Kobo's New Platform For Self Publishers
- Amazon To Acquire Dorchester Publishing

Photo credit: 3D Issue

Thursday, May 31

Promote Your Books In iBooks

I had read Bob Mayer's blog, Write It Forward, for a number of years before I took one of his workshops and I have to say, if you ever have the chance to see Bob speak in person, do it! You won't be sorry.

It's one thing to read posts about the publishing industry and quite another to have an animated author recount stories of his adventures in publishing, first as an author and then as a publisher. Although I loved his lecture what I found most helpful were his answers to questions posed by my peers.

Okay, back to business! Yesterday Jen Talty, co-creator of Cool Gus Publishing and frequent contributor to Write It Forward, posted about how to promote books in iBooks, a subject I knew nothing about. Rather than me natter on about what she said, I'm just going to let her tell you.
One of the questions I’m constantly asked when I present workshops on Indie Publishing is: How do we promote in iBooks? or How do we increase sales in iBooks? Its not an easy question to answer. One of the things I’m working on today for Cool Gus Publishing is to add links in our website to where our eBooks are available on other sites. We believe this is a good service for our customers and some people just want that easy “one-click” from Amazon or prefer to buy from Barnes and Noble, supporting the bookstore.

But working inside of iBooks is all together a different bird simply because its contained in iTunes.

Recently, Apple sent us a couple of PDF’s about how to promote and market using some of their tools. We got this email because we use iTunesConnect to load our books directly to the iBookstore. Here are a couple of things I think are useful and are not that difficult to use.

The Book Widget. You can actually do this for other products as well.

From Apple: “With Widget Builder, you can easily add interactive widgets to your website or blog. These widgets allow users to explore books and more from the iBookstore and iTunes.”

Go here to see builder.

Basically, you find the books you want, add them to your widget and then copy the code and put it where you want in your website.
For the rest of Jen's informative article, click here: Promoting your book in iBooks


Monday, May 28

Joe Konrath's Letter To The Department Of Justice

Joe Writes:
Dear Mr. Read,

I’m writing to you as the author of forty-six books--eight legacy published, two Amazon published (with three more on the way), and thirty-six self-published, all of which inform the views I express in this letter.

As you doubtless recognize from the mail you’re receiving, there is currently underway a letter-writing campaign coordinated by the Association of Authors’ Representatives, the Authors Guild, and other parts of the publishing establishment attempting to persuade you that the DOJ’s suit against five of the Big Six and Apple is without merit, and that the Agency model is, at best, good for everyone, at worst, harmless.

I’m writing to tell you that these organizations did not solicit the views of their members, that they in no way speak on behalf of all or even most of their members, and that (as I imagine is obvious) they are motivated not by what’s best for consumers, but by what they see as best for themselves.

I recognize that the heart of the DOJ’s suit is collusion, not high prices. But it’s clear that the legacy publishing industry’s strategy is to keep the prices of ebooks high so as not to cannibalize high-margin hardback sales. If the prices of legacy published books are kept artificially high it could be argued that my lower-priced self-published books are made more attractive by comparison, but I believe that a regime of higher-priced books is bad for the industry overall because it slows the growth of the global book market, which indeed hurts all sales. I also believe it’s obviously bad for consumers, especially lower-income consumers, who could buy more of the books they loved if those books weren’t priced so high.

When prices of media are high, they’re a barrier to entry. Many are avoiding buying an ereader because the ebooks they most want are $9.99 - $14.99. If prices came down, more Kindles (and Kobo readers and Nooks and Sony readers) would be sold. That widens the market, which leads to more ebook sales. This is good for authors, and for readers who can get more for their money.
Read the rest here: Joe's Letter to the DOJ

Go Joe!

I'd just woken up when I read Joe's post -- last night I stayed up late getting my short story A Night In The Country ready for publishing on Amazon -- but I hope I managed to write something marginally coherent in the comments.
Very well said Joe, but it was strange to see you write in a more subdued tone.

Anyway, I agree. One thing that has always irked me when folks complain about Walmart artificially lowering prices is that ... well, sometimes I think it's easy to lose sight of how cash poor some folks are, especially families. Getting something for 50 cents cheaper can make a difference.

Of course one doesn't need books in the same way one needs food, but -- and I hope this doesn't sound cliche -- books do feed the soul and, as I said, 50 cents (or less!) can make a dig difference.

Even though I think the Big-6 inflating the prices of books makes lower priced indie books more attractive, you're right. It hurts the book business and that hurts everyone. Writers, booksellers and especially readers.

In any case, wonderful letter Joe, thanks for sharing. :)
Of course now I'm looking at my comment about Walmart artificially lowering prices and thinking about all the mom and pop shops which went out of business because they couldn't compete against the big chain.

Is that what is happening with Amazon? Will the act of Amazon selling books for lower prices drive indie, or self-published, writers out of business?

No, I don't believe so. Amazon is the self-published writers' biggest business ally. That's true right now and I don't see why it would change in the foreseeable future. That said, Amazon isn't a friend to publishers who want to sell ebooks at inflated prices.

Some publishers complain that if they don't have the kind of monopoly control they need to do this, that they'll go out of business. Further, they say that if they go out of business that the world of publishing, the world of books, will be a poorer place and, ultimately, readers will suffer.

Personally, I don't buy it.

Yes, I do think that if publishers are prevented from fixing ebook prices artificially high, or if they are forced to give authors better ebook royalties (a topic for another post), that many of them will go out of business.

Let's say that's true. I believe that although some, perhaps many, publishers will fold that there will be many publishers who will survive and thrive. These publishers will be the new Big-X.

Publishing won't be dead, it'll just be different.

Further Reading:
17 More States Join The Class Action Suit Against Apple et al
The Fungibility of Books

"Joe Konrath's Letter To The Department Of Justice," copyright© 2012 by Karen Woodward.

Sunday, May 27

How To Find The Right Freelance Editor For You

India Drummond recently shared her experience selecting a freelance editor. Her methodology makes so much sense that after I read her suggestions I thought: Of course! Why didn't that occur to me? All the truly good ideas are like that, they seem self-evident after the fact but a complete mystery beforehand.

India Drummond's Suggestions On How To Select An Editor

1. Ask everyone you know this question: Do you have an editor you can recommend?
I thought this was a stroke of genius. Rather than asking for editors to recommend themselves, ask other writers to recommend editors whose work they liked.

2. Narrow this list down to 12 people.
How? Go and look at the website of each prospective editor. They don't have one? Cross them off the list. Their website looks unprofessional? Cross them off the list.

3. Write a letter to each prospective editor.
In your letter let them know that:

a. This is a professional relationship you would like to enjoy for years to come.

b. Ask your prospective editor whether they are familiar with your genre (if you write genre fiction), and its conventions. For instance, if you write romance novels you don't want your editor to complain that the happily-ever-after ending was predictable!

c. Make sure your prospective editor is available to edit your book. Sometimes editors have a full plate and can't fit in new work in a certain time period.

d. Ask for references from their clients.

e. Make sure your prospective editor is comfortable with your style of writing. For instance, if she is American would she be comfortable with you using British spelling and conventions?

f. Make sure your prospective editor understands what services you would like from them. What one person means by "copyediting" another means by "proofreading" and vice versa. Also, if you would like your editor to indicate when they found a paragraph wordy or confusing, you need to make that clear up front so she or he can give you an accurate representation of her fees.

g. Ask your prospective editor to recommend another editor if they feel your work wouldn't be right for them.

h. Ask your prospective editor what form(s) of payment he would accept.

4. Based on the replies your prospective editors send you, narrow the list down further.

For instance, India eliminated any editors whose grammar wasn't up to snuff, who did not wish to provide references, who simply pointed her to their website, etc. She also rejected any who wouldn't accept PayPal. I thought it was very smart of her to address this detail. How frustrating it would be to finish the arduous process of picking an editor, have them edit your manuscript and then find out she doesn't accept your preferred method of payment! I wouldn't have thought of this, so thanks India.

5. Check references.
Write to the authors your perspective editor gave you and ask them:
* What did you like most and least about working with her? (Gives them an opening to give something other than glowing praise)
* Does she communicate clearly about issues in your manuscript? (Very important!)
* How does she handle follow-up questions?
* Do you generally use all her recommendations, or do you take some and leave some?
* Would you say her main strength is flow, structure, pacing, grammar/technical, spotting errors…or something else? (This allowed me to find out if the type of editing I needed was the same type this person had received.)
* Is it easy to book a project with her, or do you find you’re having to be squeezed in around a busy schedule?
* What do you receive on a full-length manuscript? A report? A document with tracked changes, etc? If a report, how long/detailed is it?
* Do you recommend her and plan to use her again?
- Hiring a Freelance Editor
6. Ask your prospective editors for a sample of their skills
Each of India's three prospective editors agreed to edit the first chapter of her next book. She writes:
Honestly, I expected them all to come back with virtually the same results. After all, a mistake is a mistake, isn’t it?

Well, no, it isn’t. Editing is incredibly subjective.

I was truly surprised at the difference in the marked-up manuscripts I got back, but so glad I went to the trouble of doing this. As I said, all of the editors were qualified, but comparing these was very useful in making my final decision.
Wow! India went to a LOT of work, but I bet it paid off. After all, a writer's relationship with her editor is, arguably, her most important professional relationship.

By the way, Susan Helene Gottfried is India Drummond's new editor.

Thanks to The Book Designer for his May 2012 issue of The Carnival of the Indies for leading me to India's marvelous article. Cheers!

To read India Drummond's complete article (something I highly recommend!) go here: Hiring a Freelance Editor

Friday, May 25

Nathan Bransford On Self Publishing

Nathan Bransford writes:
There is no "us" vs. "them." Traditional vs. self-publishing is a false dichotomy. It's an illusion created by people who either have let their frustrations get the best of them or are trying to sell you something. We're all writers trying to figure out the best way to get our books to readers. We're all on the same team.

No, the traditional publishing industry is not a hive of retrograde monsters out to steal and eat your newborn children. No, self-publishing is not a gang of unwashed crap artists trying to poison the literary well forever.

Publishing is a spectrum of choice, from traditional publishers who pay you, will handle most things for you and assume all risk in exchange for certain rights to your book, to self-publishing where you handle everything yourself, pay your own way, and adopt your own risk. And there's a whole lot more choice in between those two poles.

What's the right way? There is no right way.
Read the rest of Mr. Bransford's post here: Traditional vs. Self-publishing is a False Dichotomy

I woke this morning, rubbed the sleep from my eyes, and trundled over to Dean Wesley Smith's blog where he raved about the fantastic post former agent Nathan Bransford wrote (Holy Smokes, Batman. I Agree With Nathan Bransford). And (as always!) he was right, it was a fantastic post.

In the past couple of months the flood gates have burst and record numbers of traditionally published writers have self-published their work. We're also seeing indie authors, even wildly successful indie authors, choosing NOT to go with one of the Big-6 publishers.

For instance, Hugh Howey, author of the runaway bestseller Wool, chose to continue to self-publish in the US and only sold Random House UK his overseas writes. Howey writes:
Now, this is still new enough to me to leave me in a daze simply from typing the words, but it gets even better: The same book--self-published, mind you--has been picked up by Random House in the UK for a major hardback release. And while domestic publishers have made offers that would have had me swooning mere months ago, I have chosen to remain independent here in the States.

I currently enjoy the best of both worlds: The ability to write what I want and enjoy the generous royalties inherent with self-publishing domestically, while also working with a major publisher overseas to hone my craft and produce the best physical books possible. Because of this avalanche of good news, I've been blessed by IndieReader to come here today and thank you all for turning what once was a fanciful dream into a mind-numbing reality. Yeah, I'm thanking you.
Hopefully Hugh Howey's success is only the tip of a very large iceberg.

Related articles:
- Hugh Howey Writes About The Phenomenal Success Of Wool

"Nathan Bransford On Self Publishing," copyright© 2012 by Karen Woodward.

Thursday, May 24

Hugh Howey Writes About The Phenomenal Success Of Wool

Everywhere I turn I read about the phenomenal success of Wool, an indie published series which has garnered unprecedented sales in the very short time since its release. Wool has been picked up by Random House in the UK and Ridley Scott (Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator) will be directing an upcoming blockbuster movie made by 20th Century Fox.

I don't know about you, but even when I'm daydreaming about hitting it big, I don't dream about hitting it this big. In a recent article for PW, Hugh Howey writes about his amazing success.
[A]n actual deal seemed a long way off, a fanciful dream. Who was I? A few months ago, I worked part time in the university bookstore, dusting the shelves and tackling shoplifters to pay the bills. How could someone like that, who spent his mornings and lunch breaks pecking away at his keyboard ever get mentioned in a press release along the likes of Scott and Zaillian?

Word of mouth, is how. Which is also the reason I've been able to quit that day job and write full-time. And it's why the film rights for that little story I wrote now lie in the hands of Hollywood giants.

Now, this is still new enough to me to leave me in a daze simply from typing the words, but it gets even better: The same book--self-published, mind you--has been picked up by Random House in the UK for a major hardback release. And while domestic publishers have made offers that would have had me swooning mere months ago, I have chosen to remain independent here in the States.

. . . .

My inbox lately has become sprinkled with missives from other independent writers asking me for any advice I might have. So I tell them what you have taught me: Please the reader. Write your best works for them; make those works affordable; interact with your fans; and take their feedback to heart. Without a single dime spent in advertising, a short story I wrote and didn't even work to promote climbed to the top of the Amazon charts. It drew the attention of Hollywood. It landed me an agent and half a dozen foreign book deals. All because of word of mouth. Because I happened to please you, and you told someone else, and they spread the word further.

The first WOOL story came out in July of last year. At just over 12,000 words, it qualified as a novelette, and not much more. I forgot about the story until it began garnering a slew of positive reviews that could muster only a single complaint among them: Where was the rest? They wanted more.

So I began writing more. I released the rest of the story in installments, something I'd always wanted to try, and I enjoyed the quick turnaround and the immediate feedback from readers. The entries grew as the series went along, until the fifth and final WOOL story was the length of a short novel. Once the tale was complete, I collected the five books into an Omnibus, which was when it began to really take off.
Read more here: How My Self-Published Book 'Wool' Became A Hot Movie Property

Further Reading:
- Wool: Indie bestseller to be made into blockbuster movie
- Ridley Scott’s Next Project Is Wool
- 20th Century Fox Takes Wool

- Wool

"Hugh Howey Writes About The Phenomenal Success Of Wool," copyright© 2012 by Karen Woodward.

Monday, May 14

Wool: Indie bestseller to be made into blockbuster movie.

Wool by Hugh Howey, a self-published title and current bestseller, was purchased by Century after a bidding war. Twentieth Century Fox will be making the movie.
Wool is described as "a high-concept novel set in a stark future; the air outside is no longer breathable, so the last community on Earth lives underground in an enormous silo". Since the author self-published Wool on, it has sold 140,000 copies through e-book within six months, and attracted 600 five-star reviews on the site, according to Century. The self-published edition is currently on sale on for $4.97, and on for £3.08. Century's own e-book edition of Wool will beavailable from June.
Read the rest here: Century wins latest self-publishing sensation

Thursday, April 5

How to purchase ISBN numbers in the USA

In an earlier article, I wrote about how to get a free Canadian ISBN Number, now I'd like to discuss how to purchase an ISBN number in the United States.

In the United States, all ISBN numbers are issued by Bowker. Here is a link that will take you to their website: Buy an ISBN number.

It is worth mentioning that only publishers can purchase ISBN numbers. If you'd like information on how to go about getting a US business license, here is the link for you: BusinessUSA.

At the current time, here is how much ISBN numbers cost in the US:

- A single ISBN: $125
- 10 ISBNs: $250
- 100 ISBNs: $575
- 1000 ISBNs: $1,000

Here is a link to the list of ISBN prices.
Good luck!

Sunday, March 4

Martin Picard: A genius at being remarkable

After I wrote my blog post, Seth Godin: The best thing since sliced bread, I talked to a fellow foodie about the importance of doing something remarkable.

Talk about synchronicity, just that morning he'd been reading a Globe & Mail article about Montreal chef Martin Picard's latest cookbook: Au Pied De Cochon Sugar Shack in which he has recipes for, among other things, squirrel sushi and beaver tail. Whatever you think about the cookbook, the chef has to be given credit for at least not letting anything going to waste. He stuffed the beaver with its own tail and organs and then cooked it with maple syrup and duck fat.

If that isn't a remarkable recipe then I don't know what is! Pretty much every recipe in the cookbook is ... well, insane remarkable.

But, you might wonder, what are his sales like? Here's what the Globe and Mail article had to say:
Yet this isn’t stunt cooking or a ironic postmodern art project. Mr. Picard and his collaborators printed 40,000 copies in advance of the volume’s release this week. If history is any guide, they will almost certainly need to do a second printing before long. The cookbook from Restaurant Au Pied de Cochon, Mr. Picard’s original place on Montreal’s Duluth Avenue East, has sold an estimated 50,000 copies since its publication in 2006. (Cabane à Sucre Au Pied de Cochon is available for $70 on the cabane à sucre’s website, as well as at better bookstores.)
Not bad. On top of all that, he is self-published and, as far as I can tell, only sells his book through his site and a few bookstores, Chapters among them.

- Squirrel sushi? 'That's a very, very good meat,' says Montreal chef Picard
- Au Pied de Cochon Sugar Shack on sale at Chapters.

Thursday, January 12

Seth's Big Ideas

I love Seth Godin's blogs. I may not always agree with him, but I usually come away with at least one tantalizing idea.

Here are Seth's big ideas:

* The launchtime for books is measured in years, this is often longer than the selflife of the ideas it contains. *

* Most book publishers do not effectively promote most of the books they publish. *

* That said, it's not easy selling books. It's difficult to get folks to read ANYTHING because reading takes time and, usually, it costs money. *

* Being a publisher is like being a venture capitalist. *

Publishers INVEST in writers; they give them an advance, spend time creating and selling the book and give printers money to produce the book. After doing all this, of course the publisher wants a large return on her investment.

Do you, as a writer, need the advance to live on? If so, then it makes sense for you to go the traditional route. If you don't, though, and if you're primarily interested in spreading your ideas, then self-publishing is something to look into.

The above is a paraphrase of some of the points in Seth Godin's article, Advice For Authors. So, what, according to Seth, is a poor author to do?
Build an asset. Large numbers of influential people who read your blog or read your emails or watch your TV show or love your restaurant or or or...

Then, put your idea into a format where it will spread fast. That could be an ebook (a free one) or a pamphlet (a cheap one--the Joy of Jello sold millions and millions of copies at a dollar or less).

Then, if your idea catches on, you can sell the souvenir edition. The book. The thing people keep on their shelf or lend out or get from the library. Books are wonderful (I own too many!) but they're not necessarily the best vessel for spreading your idea.

And the punchline, of course, is that if you do all these things, you won't need a publisher. And that's exactly when a publisher will want you! That's the sort of author publishers do the best with.
Isn't that always the way? The minute, the very second, you don't need something it will flutter into your hand.

Now if only I could think of an idea ...


(By the way Seth's article, Advice to Authors, was the first in a two part series. The second part, an article ALSO entitled Advice to Authors, can be found here.)

Wednesday, November 9

Joe Konrath on Self-Publishing

Joe Konrath has come out of temporary retirement a second time to talk about self-publishing, and I think that what he has to say is well worth reading, so I've re-printed some of it below.

I'd like to mention, though, that I don't agree with Joe 100% on this one. I'm still a huge fan of his but I think that self-publishing is one option among many equally viable ones. I agree with him that it's wonderful to have the option, but I don't think a writer is foolish to go the traditional publishing route. Not in the least! That said, I do think it's silly not to consider self-publishing when weighing one's options.

Okay, without further qualification here's what Joe sez:
I've always stated that is important to set reasonable goals in your career, and to separate goals (things within your power) from dreams (things that require a "yes" or "no" from someone else in order to happen.)

Your dream could be to get published by a legacy house. That means your goals should be to write a terrific book, then send out ten queries a month to top agents. If stars align, your goals can help you reach your dream.

Then, once you have a legacy deal, your next goal could be to write another book for that house.

But is this really a worthy goal in today's publishing climate? Is it even a worthy dream to begin with?

Many authors defend legacy publishing without fully understanding their reasons for doing to. They don’t back up their opinions. They don't feel they have to. For the past 100 years, we writers haven’t had a real choice if we wanted to earn a living–it was legacy or nothing. So we pursued legacy.

I see that attitude still being expressed, even though there is now a choice. And based on everything I know, having been on both sides of the issue, self-pubbing is a far better choice.
- read the rest here: Guest Post by Barry Eisler

Tuesday, October 4

Self-publish a coffee table book:

Want to publish a book that contains numerous photos? Then might be for you. The site is simple to use and, depending on what sort of book you want to create, will set you back around 20 dollars. You can then sell your book through's bookstore. You set the price and pocket the difference between the cost of manufacture and the sale price. There is also a monthly processing fee.

One downside to using is that you can only sell your book from their bookstore, so it won't show up on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.

All in all, worth a look.

The information in this article was taken from:
Self-publishing options: From Kindle Direct Publishing to

Wednesday, September 14

You Can Be a Successful Writer Without a Bestseller

To make a living at indie publishing, you must have a decent number of books and stories for sale.
This is the point Dean drives home in his latest blog post: The Money is All in the Numbers. Dean acknowledges that there are people like Joe Konrath and Amanda Hocking who have made a huge amount of money off of one or a few books in a relatively short period of time, but these good folks are the exception not the rule. Dean's point: you don't need to write a bestseller to earn a comfortable living as an indie writer.

Dean writes that
I have, at my last count, just over nine million copies of my books in print, yet I have never had any big splash. Just a book here, a book there, and a lot of books selling over decades. And none of that counts any ghost-written novel or indie-published title. (The number would be a ton higher if I counted those.) Just traditional novels through traditional publishers under one of my own names.
Traditional publishers, Dean says, make their money "not so much on sales-per-book ... but on numbers of different titles that are for sale". It is all about control. A publisher can't control whether one of their books will become a best-seller, but they can control how many titles they have for sale. The more titles they have for sale, the more money they will make month after month, year after year.
Some books lose money, some make more than expected. But the hope and goal is that the average over a line of books over a period of time will be around the 4% figure, give or take. If the book line loses money regularly, the editor is eventually fired or the imprint or publishing company is killed. Just business.
If these big publishers were only publishing one book (or even only one hundred books) per month, they sure couldn’t afford the big buildings.

Quantity in numbers of titles is everything.
Here's how all of this applies to indie writers:
Indie-published writers got all the money that publishers used to get for building those huge buildings in New York.  Instead of getting 14.8% on electronic sales (25% of 70% – 15%), that publishers were offering, we got 65-70%. Period. And we could put books on our own web sites for sale and maybe even make 100%.

And even more importantly to us midlist writers: All our backlist suddenly had value again. (This is huge!!!)
On top of that, indie writers have more freedom. Not only can we write what we want but we can also write to the length that's right for the story.
Even if you are a novelist. Remember the one-hundred-thousand word novel was an artificial creation of the publishing industry over the last forty years to justify price increases. Let your stories go natural lengths. You will discover that most novels are fine around fifty-to-seventy-thousand words. Sometimes shorter. Just write the story you want to write.
I have only discussed a few of Dean's points, I would highly recommend that anyone interested in writing or publishing go over to his blog and read his article, The Money is All in the Numbers.

Then, write, and build up that backlist! :-)