Showing posts with label traditional publishing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label traditional publishing. Show all posts

Thursday, April 4

Kris Rusch: Don't Accept A Book Advance Of Less Than $100,000

Kris Rusch: Don't Accept A Book Advance Of Less Than $100,000
Got your attention? Perhaps that title is over-the-top but Kris Rusch knows her stuff. She's been in the industry as a successful working professional for decades, as both a writer and an editor. So when Kris Rusch says, "Don't take a book advance for less than $100,000" my antenna perk up.

Kris writes:
Weirdly—from my perspective—I now believe that any writer who goes to traditional publishing for book advance of less than $100,000 is getting screwed.
"Weirdly" because even four years ago Kris worried that "new writers would give up on themselves too soon and go directly to self-publishing, hurting their careers."

The Advantages Of Publishing Your Own Work

As an example of the advantages of publishing your work yourself, of having control every step of the way, Kris writes about her book, The Freelancer's Survival Guide.
To date, the [Freelancer's Survival] Guide (and not its spin-off short books) has sold as many copies as it would have sold if it were traditionally published with the standard promotion given to a writing book or a low-level business book.

By now, if I had gone the traditional route, the Guide would have had only one edition, and would no longer be on any bookstore shelves. You might still be able to order it through an online bookstore like Amazon, but you might not. The book would most likely be out of print. It would never have had an audio version (ever), it would not have been available outside of the US, and it would probably have had a very crappy e-book edition.

It certainly wouldn’t continue to reach its intended market, freelancers who are or have started their own small businesses.
Kris' post, The Business Rusch: Four Years, is a must read, and it marks the anniversary of the 4th year of her blog.
Do you agree with Kris Rusch that unless a traditional publisher offers at least a $100,000 advance that a writer should walk away? What would it take for you to sign with a traditional publisher?

Other articles you might like:

- C.J. Lyons Discusses Whether Amazon KDP Select Is Worth The Price Of Exclusivity
- Chuck Wendig On Straight Lines, Story Structure And Why Storytellers Need To Be Unconventional
- A Pantser Turned Plotter

Photo credit: "la terrasse" by jenny downing under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

Saturday, December 22

Writing And Publishing in 2013: How To Survive And Thrive

Writing And Publishing in 2013: How To Survive And Thrive

I've been reading various pundit's predictions for 2013, what the New Year has in store for writers.

Today I was going to write about Mark Coker's predictions for 2013 and take a closer look at what future the large traditional publishers have, especially after they tied themselves to the millstone of Author Solutions.

Somewhere along the way, between draft and finished piece, I lost heart. Avarice isn't new or interesting; on the contrary, it's relentlessly depressing. That a business only cares about he bottom line is hardly news. So let's talk about things we--whether we're traditionally or independently published--can do to help ourselves, and each other, in the coming year.

What follows are my opinions. You may have different opinions and that's great! I'd love to talk to you and find out what they are. The fact is, I've changed my mind about a couple of things this year. That was partly a response to the world changing and partly a result of talking to other writers and being persuaded by the evidence.

1. Where Should We Sell Our Books: Is Amazon KDP Select Worth The Price Of Exclusivity?

Yes, I think so. In certain cases.

If you are a writer just starting out, you have no following. If no one has the slightest inkling who you are then I can't think of a reason not to take advantage of Amazon's KDP Select program.

That said, I believe it would be a mistake to put all your books into Select and leave them indefinitely. There is a lot to be said for not putting all your virtual eggs in one basket. Also, writers don't want to alienate any potential readers. We don't want to require them to jump through hoops to buy our work, and forcing readers to buy from only one store is a pretty big hoop.

If you already have a following, the benefit of Amazon's KDP Select program is going to be markedly less. If you are releasing the first book of a series or if you are branching out into a previously unexplored genre, you might think about releasing the book with Select to pick up a few readers. After the three months are up, though, you'd probably want to pull it out of Select and make your book available on all platforms.

Other articles on the price, and benefits, of exclusivity:
- Does Amazon KDP Select Drive Away True Fans?
- Amazon's KDP Select: The Best Long-Term Strategy?
- Amazon's KDP Select Program Has A Lot To Offer New Writers, But What About Established Ones?
- Kobo Becoming a Player for Self-Published Ebook Authors, Lindsay Buroker

2. How much should ebooks sell for?

I don't think you should price your ebook under $2.99.

You'll probably want to try experimenting to see what the best price point is for you. I think $2.99 is the minimum you should offer your ebook for, but the maximum is up to you. I've seen indie published books for as much as $9.99 selling relatively well.

That's not to say you can't make a book free, or dramatically lower its price, for brief periods of time as part of your marketing strategy.

Also see:
- Writers: How To Use Permanently Free Books To Increase Sales

3. Should I Blog?

The answer for me was: Yes!

Before I started blogging it was difficult to write every day. I knew that in order to get better one must write but it was difficult to find the "butt-in-chair" time I needed. When I made the commitment to post one blog post a day--then two--writing every day became part of my life.

Blogging Helps Newer Writers

I think blogging benefits newer writers more than established ones. Old pros have their community, they have their routine, and they've written well over 1,000,000 words.

1,000,000 Words And Competency

There's a notion that in order to learn to write saleable fiction one must first write 1,000,000 words. That's an approximation, certainly, but 1,000,000 words is ten 100,000 word books. That seems about right. But there's another way of looking at it: One thousand 1,000 word blog posts! If you did two 1,000 word blog posts a week by the end of one year you'd have written about 100,000 words.

Blog posts count toward your 1,000,000 words, so after one year, just by blogging regularly, you'd be 1/10 of the way there!

Your Blog And Serials

I can hear someone say, "But wouldn't it be better to use those 100,000 words and write a book?"

There's no reason blogging and writing fiction can't be combined. I think one of the big things in 2013 will be serials. Every week you could do one non-fiction blog and and one episode of your serial. Start building up an audience for your fiction writing, get more eyes on your blog, and then--when your story is finished--publish all the episodes on your ebook platform of choice.

A number of writers are taking up the challenge of writing serials. Recently I had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of one of them, Ben Guilfoy. Ben wrote an excellent article about his experience with the art form as well as how he structures a serial.

Here are a couple more articles on the subject of serials:
- Serial Fiction: Is It Profitable?
- Is Serial Fiction Profitable? Hugh Howey Says: Yes! Even With Absolutely No Promotion

To Be Continued ...

It turns out this post is going to be a bit like a serial! I try and keep my word count under 1,000 so I'm going to break off here and finish my list of 'things writers should do in 2013' tomorrow. (Update: Click here for the rest of the list: Writing And Publishing In 2013, How To Survive And Thrive: Part Two)

In all things, do what seems right to you. If something I wrote resonates with you, great! If not, that's fine. It was nice having you stop by, I hope you'll come again. :)

Other articles you might like:

- Writing Links: Blogs For Writers
- Ready. Set. Write!
- How Many Drafts Does It Take To Write A Novel?

Photo credit: "Another Pillow!" by CarbonNYC under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

Tuesday, November 6

The Random House & Penguin Merger: Good For Indie Authors?

The Random House & Penguin Merger: Good For Indie Authors?

Here's a headline for you: After Penguin and Random House merge into Penguin Random House they will have created "the biggest publisher in the world' [1].

According to The Guardian, the reaction to this news has led some folks to despair for the future of traditional publishing. They point to three trends in the book market:

1) Falling book sales

Book sales are the lowest in living memory. "Print sales are falling--down 11% in 2011, the trend continuing in 2012--while bookshops, both specialist and chain, are closing. Borders has gone, Waterstones is in turmoil, and independent booksellers the length and breadth of the country are vanishing. [1]"

2) Self-publishers & Amazon

Self-publishers bypass traditional publishing. With Amazon becoming a publisher in its own right and encouraging authors to not stray beyond the Amazon fold (Amazon KDP Select; True Fans & Select) they hope to increase market share. The more market share Amazon has the less there is for traditional publishing and their profits will continue to fall.

I think the fear is that Amazon will take over the publishing world and then turn into a frankenmoster that looks like a mash-up of the Big Bad from The Ring and Godzilla.

3) The death of reading

Some fear that declining sales of print books will mean people will read less. [1]

Why Indie Authors Are Not At Risk

Yes, traditional book sales are falling

That is, sales of books from traditional publishers through traditional outlets such as brick-and-mortar (or whatever they're constructed from) bookstores.

Is this a bad thing for writers? Well, first, writers are readers so NO, this isn't a good thing. I think that the overwhelming majority of writers love bookstores and take every opportunity to bask in their dusty glow.

Is this a bad thing for independent writers? Not necessarily. It depends quite a lot on whether (3) is true.

There's no such thing as a frankenmoster

People warned that once Walmart crushed all its competition its prices would skyrocket and, since it had crushed all its competition, we wouldn't be able to do anything about it.

That didn't happen.

People warn that once Amazon crushes all its competition it will raise its prices. After all other bookstores are nothing but splinters and digital mist it'll be the only game in town so we'll have no choice but to pay high prices for books or stop reading.

That won't happen.

Why? First, I don't think Amazon is going to be able to crush all its competition. Google Books, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Smashwords are just a few of Amazon's competitors and I don't see them going away any time soon. And, even if they did, another company would spring up, phoenix-like, from its ashes.

Second, even in the unlikely event that Amazon does crush all its competition this wouldn't be the end for writers or readers. Walmart hasn't raised it's prices to punishing levels and I don't believe Amazon would either.

People are reading more than ever

Folks are consuming more digital content than ever before. People are reading. They're reading blogs, Reddit, digital books. They're watching movies on their smart phones. And we aren't just consuming content, we're creating it too. We blog, we tweet, we use Tumblr and Reddit and Wattpad. And that's for starters!

Far from people reading less we are going through what Amazon calls a Renaissance of reading.

Yes, I'm talking about digital media such as electronic books as opposed to print books, though I believe that print books will always exist.

My Point

My point is that as long as readers exist, as long as folks want to have stories told to them, there will be writers. And screenwriters and playwrights.

And you know what? Folks will always want to have stories told to them. The day that stops is the day we've joined the Dodo in peaceful extinction.

What do you think of the new Putnam & Random House merger? Do you think this just postpones the inevitable or do you think they'll be able to make a go of it? 

Other articles you might like:
- How To Get Your Readers To Identify With Your Main Character
- More Writing Advice From Jim Butcher
- NaNoWriMo: A Survival Guide

Articles referenced in this article:
1) Penguin merger minuses could be pluses for indies, The Guardian.

Photo credit: "Bambi vs. Godzilla (211/365)" by JD Hancock under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

Monday, September 3

Orlando Figes, Award-Winning Historian, Wrote Fake Reviews

It seems that, ever since the New York Times article about buying reviews was published, the one which revealed indie bestseller John Locke had bought reviews, the floodgates have opened.

Every day a new writer with an, as Sir Humphrey Appleby might have said, 'a creative interpretation of the facts,' is brought to light. What is perhaps most notable about the latest dramatic revelation is that it doesn't involve an indie author. This comes from The Telegraph:
Orlando Figes, the award-winning historian, has admitted writing derogatory reviews about his fellow writers' work.
Apparently Dr. Figes even "threatened to sue a fellow historian for libel when his name was linked to the online reviews."

But not only did Dr. Figes rubbish the work of his colleagues, he heaped praise on his own:
The reviewer [Figes] meanwhile described The Whisperers, Prof Figes's latest book, in more positive terms.

"Beautifully written ... leaves the reader awed, humbled yet uplifted ... a gift to us all," he said.

A spokesman from Birkbeck College said of Prof Figes: "He's on sick leave and we're offering our support."
You can read the article here: Award-winning historian Orlando Figes: I posted anonymous reviews on Amazon. Thanks to the Passive Voice Blog for posting a link to this article.

I must admit I'm stunned by the apparent ubiquity of the problem; I'm guessing this could be the tip of a very big iceberg.

Other articles you might like:
- Book Promotion: Where's The Line?
- John Locke Paid For Book Reviews
- 8 Ways To Become A Better Writer

Photo credit: A miniature painting of the Baum des Todes und des Lebens (The Tree of Death and Life), by Bertold Furtmeyer for the Missal of Archbishop Bernard von Rohr of Salzburg, a handmade miniature manuscirpt commissioned by him around 1481 and now in the Museum of the Bavarian State Library (Bayerische Staatsbibliothek), Munich, Germany.

Thursday, August 16

Why Indie Authors Are Good For Publishing

Why Indie Authors Are Good For Publishing

A number of bloggers have linked to David Vinjamuri's article (Publishing Is Broken, We're Drowning In Indie Books - And That's A Good Thing) but it's so good I'm doing it too. To be honest, I wasn't going to read David's essay at first because it's LONG, but after Dean Wesley Smith recommended it I did and, yes, it was well worth the time investment. Here's an excerpt:

To understand the future of publishing we must examine three trends that have helped to rip it apart: eBooks, social media and low-cost self-publishing. But before that, we first need to understand the two big strategic decisions that traditional publishers made which left the door open for Indie books.
The two big strategic decisions traditional publishers bobbled were hardcover book pricing (too high) and publishers turning authors into marketers. If authors can write and market their own books they only need publishers for printing and distribution. This left a gaping hole which Amazon gladly filled.
By the end of the 2000’s, the elements existed for a revolution. A few gatekeepers tended an inefficient pricing model that consumers and authors both hated. A whole set of mid-list authors were increasingly not making enough money to write fulltime. And beyond that, a generation of new writers was growing up on social media. These writers are tempermentally less able to accept the gatekeeper model of publishing.
This led to the explosion of indie authors and ebooks that we've seen over the past couple of years.

A truely excellent and far-ranging article, you can read it here: Publishing Is Broken, We're Drowning In Indie Books - And That's A Good Thing.

Other articles you might like:
- Seth Godin on Creativity, Childhood and Heroes
- Amanda Hocking's Unusual Writing Schedule

Thursday, May 31

Chuck Wendig And The Maggot-Chewed Bad-Apples

A few days ago Chuck Wendig over at Terribleminds published a blog post, Revisiting The Fevered Egos Of Self-Publishing, that received quite a bit of mention on the internet. Why? Well, probably because it contained passages like this:
What you will find in the self-publishing (or DIY or “indie pub”) community is a handful of maggot-chewed bad-apples bobbing noisily in the barrel. They’re loud. They’re entitled. They’re oddly defensive (methinks thou doth protest too much). They often have books that look and read like they were written by a fourth grader on a high-test ADHD drug cocktail.
I find Mr. Wendig's posts endlessly amusing; the man certainly knows how to turn a phrase. That said, I'm a self-publisher and most of my writer friends are self-publishers, so being compared to a maggot-chewed bad-apple--while enormously entertaining in a self-nihilistic way--kinda hurt.

Well, it seems Chuck Wendig has adopted a softer tone since publishing his Fevered Egos post. He writes:
I’ve read many excellent books that exist only because the authors went that direction. I think self-publishing is part of what makes this time the best time ever to be a writer and a storyteller. I am, in fact, a self-publisher myself (though I favor a diverse “hybrid” approach).
- Self-Publishing And The Burden Of Proof
That's quite the turn-around.

Or perhaps not. In the invective filled passage it seemed to me that self-publishers were the "handful of maggot-chewed bad-apples" and the pristine, desirable, apples were the traditionally published folk. Not so, Mr. Wendig says.
The first and most troubling response is one I’ll get out of the way now: some folks seemed to believe I was giving all self-publishers the middle finger. Unless you’re looking to cherry-pick a bouquet of out-of-context quotes, you won’t find much evidence in that post of me smearing self-publishers.
- Self-Publishing And The Burden Of Proof
 I hope I didn't cherry-pick the quotation I gave--here's a link to the original article, the quotation occurs in the fourth paragraph from the top. In any case, it's good to know that Mr. Wendig doesn't believe all self-publishers are maggot-chewed bad-apples. (Only most? 50-50? The minority? But let us move on.)

Mr. Wendig finishes his article with a call to action:
[D]on’t be that guy. Don’t be the crazy person. Write well. Be cool. Put yourself out there. Work for the good of indie authors and not against it. Lead by example! “Independent” authors and publishers may be separate from one another, but that doesn’t mean they don’t affect one another.

The more good apples we have, the harder it is to see the bad ones.
I agree with Mr. Wendig's call to action, we would all do well to take it to heart. Don't be that guy. The one who uses swear words in place of rational argument, the one who uses their words to bully and put other people, often other writers, down. The one who thinks that he or she knows-it-all and feels obligated to put others in their place, whether through cajoling them like wayward children or calling them out like a school-yard bully at recess. Yes, fellow writers, don't be that guy.

As always, Mr. Wendig has written something entertaining and enlightening. I think we can all agree that, whatever else we may think, he is an excellent wordsmith.


Photo credit:

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