Posted on

Why Digital?

Paper is one of the oldest industries still going, and for good reason. There’s nothing like the feel of old book paper, or the appearance of documents that have survived the test of time. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most inefficient, outdated, and wasteful industries. Paper waste makes a few hundred million tons of waste in landfills every year. The traditional book publishing industry is likewise a dinosaur that demands millions of dollars in resources annually, just to function. Warehouses, distribution networks, retail space, and countless other seemingly minor necessities, combine to create a perfect storm of imperfect and unsustainable practices.

We place an emphasis on digital products for many reasons. Primarily, it keeps costs at a minimum, which means we can offer much more affordable products. There aren’t added costs for retailers, shipping companies, or packaging fees. Digital transactions are virtually instant and you can access your product as soon as you purchase it. You can store an entire library of books on a single device, whereas you can only carry one or two physical books.

Most home printers today have the capacity to create professional-looking products. Any images or files, that can’t be printed at home, can easily be sent to any major retail chain (such as Wal-Mart or Walgreens) for affordable printing. There’s little need to charge tens (or hundreds) of dollars more for a physical item, when the home user can access the same for a few dollars.

We occasionally offer physical products, but always in limited quantities.

 

Posted on

Writing Realities

 

So, you’ve written a book. Good for you! A book is most often one of the easiest things to start, and most difficult to finish. A good deal of people like to talk about writing, but only a fraction actually do it. This is a brief guide that will hopefully assist you on your way to writing self-sufficiency.

 

 

 

Before we begin, there are a number of things to establish.

  1. Professional writing is not for the faint-of-heart.
  2. Easy editing usually makes for difficult reading.
  3. If you can’t handle rejection, don’t write.
  4. Never have great expectations.

 

Realities

The reality is that only around 30% of writers actually make a their entire living from writing. The rest haven’t quit their day jobs. Literally. The authors you hear about on the radio or on television are generally the only authors you hear advertised. The authors who land the multi-million dollar contracts, are the only ones who land multi-million dollar contracts, and there are millions of authors out there.

Between 600,000 and 1,000,000 books are published yearly, in the USA alone, and every writer wants their book to achieve bestselling status. The financial figures do appear to be slightly improving as publishing technologies flourish, but the standard will likely apply for some time. If you are writing for money, you should choose another pursuit. Writers write. It’s in the DNA. We can’t stop it just because it isn’t profitable. If you are compelled to write even when faced with such astronomical odds, you are indeed a writer.

Most authors, who are fortunate enough to land on the bestseller lists, will spend the rest of their lives vainly trying to get their next title there. No one really knows the exact formula for calculating books for the major bestselling lists, and there are many schemes (such as “book laundering”) where writers buy their way onto them. Even bestseller lists, however, should be seen for what they are. Other than giving your book a little more visibility and boosting yours sales, traditional bestseller lists appear to be fairly obsolete. At least, they are operated in such a way as to confuse and confound all who monitor them.

Your publisher will help you market your book, as much as possible, but won’t hold your hand. Not even the major houses in New York can afford to give every author such attention, and there’s no real reason they should. They’ve already invested a great deal in getting your book published. They’ve already spent much more than you probably have, just getting your book ready to market. Their job is done. They have proven and shown their confidence and faith in your capacity as an author.

Now, it’s your turn.

Your book is a marketable product, and you are the CEO of your writing corporation. As the CEO, your product’s success is entirely dependent upon a number of factors, planning, research, and a bit of luck. Marketing and promotion are necessary, but you shouldn’t get obsessed with either. If your book is good, readers will provide more help than any publicist in existence.

 

Posted on

The “No” List

 

You should never, at any point, at any time, fall victim to con artists. Unfortunately, professional writing is rife with them. Here is a growing list of many common warnings for writers.

 

 

 

 

  1. Professional agents, publishers, and editors do not solicit.
  2. You will not be the next James Patterson, Stephen King, or Diana Palmer. Those authors worked in professional writing for years before ever reaching their status. Beware of anything that seems, “too good to be true.” It is.
  3. Professional publishers and agents pay you. You do not pay them. If they’re any good, they already have enough money coming in to pay the bills and produce your work. If they try to push you to pay for editing from someone they know, flee. If your work needs that amount of editing, they shouldn’t have accepted it to begin with.
  4. In writing, you do not show your “professionalism” or “seriousness” with your checkbook. You demonstrate it via your work.
  5. Avoid subsidy/vanity publishers. They will charge you a fortune for a sub-par product. They care more about your money than your work.
  6. Avoid agents or publishers that demand an up-front fee for anything. Avoid companies that demand you to pay an editor to obtain representation.
  7. Avoid contest mills, a.k.a. “profiteers.” These companies run dubious “contests” and make their money from entry fees. They’re most often to be placed in anthologies. The judges are anonymous or unheard of, the awards are dubious, and you’ll only see your work if you buy an incredibly over-priced copy.
  8. If you decide to pay for editing, research, research, research! Your editor should have a resume, client list, and should provide these upon request. They should have a lengthy history in professional writing. You should also look for those who have been published authors. Ask for references and use them. If they refuse to provide a resume, references, or client list, go elsewhere. If they are vague about their work, go elsewhere.
Posted on

The Publishing Process

 

The process of publication often seems mysterious. How does it work? Generally speaking, here is the order of how the modern publishing process moves.

 

 

  1. The author creates an introductory inquiry letter, called a “query.” This is usually after they finish the manuscript. In some non-fiction, you go through this process with only a book proposal before the manuscript is written.
  2. An Agent or Publisher accepts your work. An agent will look for a publisher.
  3. Your manuscript finds a home with a publisher.
  4. Publishing process initiates (6 months to 2 years).
  5. Your galley proofs arrive for your inspection.
  6. Once you have approved the proof, your book is released.
  7. After release, you work to market your book and begin the next.

It seems simple enough, but you would be surprised how incredibly complicated and needlessly confusing it can become.

Posted on

Promotion

Authors need to promote their books. Whether your publisher is Random House, or just Black House, you’re going to have to market and advertise. Big publishers reserve their marketing prowess for authors who commonly make 6- or 7-figure profits.

You should promote, to a point. It’s imperative to recognize that you are a writer, not a PR firm. Promotion and marketing becomes a problem when your role as a writer is overshadowed by it. This can be a very hazy and dubious area, as there are many con artists waiting to prey on unsuspecting writers. Questionable “marketing packages,” abound on the internet, and most are unclear as to what you actually get. There’s also the question if any of it helps, at all.

Some authors swear by marketing several hours a day. Others say it’s better to go on book tours, or virtual blog tours every now and then. We leave the mechanics up to you. What works for Author A, will not work for Author B, and vice versa. It is up to you to find which system gives you the best returns for your investment.

While you do need to get the word out, you don’t need a million dollars in air time, or to waste the next year promoting said book. Your greatest marketing tool, ever, will be your audience. Readers provide more efficient and successful marketing value than any promotional effort, and the best way to get readers is to create a good book. Far too many authors spend years trying to promote their last book, instead of starting on the next. With today’s technology, your book is going to get attention. If it does nothing more than appear on Amazon in ebook format, someone will look at your book.

With that said, these articles should help you market yourself as an author, and your book (links will become live as content is added).

 

  • Do I Market My Book, or Myself?
  • Web Site
  • Social Media
  • Printed Materials
  • Book Signings
  • Blog Tours
  • Free Books

 

Posted on

Advances

We do not offer advances. Advances are not “free.” They are not “pay.” They aren’t “gifts.” Payday loan companies do the same thing, just with higher interest rates. When an author receives an advance, he or she will not see a single royalty payment until the publisher has recouped the advance.

Your advance is based upon your work and your status. If you aren’t a celebrity or public figure, you will not receive the million dollar advances that such individuals receive. Most regular authors only get somewhere around $10,000 as an advance. It’s very rare that a new or unknown author receives any more than $25,000. J.K. Rowling’s advance for the first  Harry Potter book was $1,500.

To further illustrate, say Jane Doe lands a contract with Mega Pubilsher, and gets an advance of $10,000. That isn’t actually what she’ll get, as the $10,000 then goes to her literary agent, who takes 15% from that amount. Jane actually gets around $8,500.

The standard publisher royalty rate (15%) provides Jane with around $1 per book in royalties. So, she’ll need to sell around 10,000 copies of her book (so the publisher makes their advance back), just to see a single cent from royalties. The publisher doesn’t take the agent’s cut into consideration. If she doesn’t “earn out” the initial advance, and sell over 10,000 books, her next advance might only be $5,000, or even less, because her original title didn’t sell.

It is a punitive and oppressive process that serves no real purpose. We split royalties with authors, in print and electronic formats, at an even 50%. Our authors are paid twice a year, as is the industry standard. Authors are also free to order as many discounted copies of their books as they need, and can mark them up to whatever price they wish. They don’t receive royalties for their discounted purchases, but keep all monies made from selling the titles themselves.

Posted on

Should I Self-Publish?

Well, should you? This is one of the most common questions writers are faced with today, and for good reason. There has never been an easier time to find readers, to sell your books, or to just spread the word about your book. Many writers are doing it on their own and developing steady secondary incomes with their work. With that in mind, here are several considerations. Can it be done? Certainly. Can you do it for free? Absolutely. Should you? That is really the question to ponder.

Please note that you should do what your instincts tell you, no matter what.

 

 

  1. Self-publishing involves a learning curve.

 

Sometimes it can be a pretty big learning curve. You need to properly edit your manuscript, design a professional book cover, format it correctly, and then develop a professional “blurb” to place on retail sites such as Amazon, Createspace, or Smashwords. If you intend on hiring someone to do your editing or book design, be ready for a sizable investment.

 

  1. Self-publishing is still professional publishing.

 

Don’t think you will be given any mercy or special consideration. Readers will expect a product that is similar to works being put out by major publishing operations. Your covers will need to be appropriate, well-designed, and readable. Your finished product needs to be near-perfect. If there is a flaw, you will hear about it. Reviewers will let you know, and that will hurt your future sales.

 

  1. Self-publishing is still a bad word.

 

Many literary snobs are still out there, despite the fact that self-published authors have been featured many times in the bestseller lists. You should simply prepare yourself. They were there when ebooks first came out (those are only for amateurs and will never last). They were there when POD authors started getting their words in print (only for amateurs). Yet, here we are, 20 years later. Ebooks are still popular. POD printing is still popular.

 

  1. Not everyone should self-publish.

 

Just because you can do it doesn’t mean you should. If you’ve never been edited before, if you’ve never designed a book cover, or if you’ve never been criticized, you probably shouldn’t self-publish.

 

  1. What are the biggest problems with self-published authors?

 

The issues most readers of self-published authors complain about are simple. Bad editing and bad book cover design. Bad editing is the real culprit for perpetuating stereotypes related to self-published authors. It can’t be stressed enough. EDIT, EDIT, EDIT. Do not use spell-check, any spell-check for that matter. They are evil. Spell-check is just an early “autocorrect,” and has just as many problems. Ewe can spelt better won urea own, is spelled correctly.

Trust your eyes, not the computer. Read it aloud to yourself, print it out, get honest friends or relatives to look at it, whatever works, just do it. Never take editorial advice from those who want you to feel good. Find the sadists in your life, and let them have a look at it.

The next complaint is a lack of professionalism. Egos and arrogance can utterly annihilate an author’s career. For reference, research the Greek Seaman debacle, about a novel authored by Jacqueline Howett. Howett publically criticized a guy who reviewed her book, on his website, and thus her writing career ended. Her behavior made it into national newspapers and was discussed globally.

This is not to say her behavior was in any way appropriate, professional, or correct. It was not. It does prove how just one simple bad exchange, with just another reader, can wholly alter your professional life. She did not rob. She did not steal. She did not exhibit violence. She did not make threats. She complained. Let that sink in before you respond to any reviewer.

As a rule, never respond to reviewers, no matter how tempting it may be. Never get associates, friends, or relatives to “go after” reviewers. Consider their words if they’re logical and sensible, then walk away. If they just aren’t coherent, ignore. Reviewers can actually be a writer’s friend, and if we look on the bright side, a bad review is much cheaper than a professional editor.