Adventures In Editing, Part V

An insightful article which ends on an encouraging note especially for any writer who has received a letter of rejection.

You and Me, Dupree

editingOne day, Bantam publisher Irwyn Applebaum summoned me into his office and asked, “How do you respond when I say, ‘Tom Robbins’?” Without even thinking, I said, “one of the great prose stylists of his generation.” He said, “That’s what I thought. I want you to go out to Seattle and meet him. You might become his editor.” (Spoiler Alert: I did, and I did. But I’m getting ahead of myself.)

In past pieces in this series, I’ve tried to give you some idea of what life is really like from the editor’s point of view. I began writing “Adventures In Editing” because I rarely read about that aspect of the publishing business, and the little I did read described only a cookie-cutter, stereotypical, author-v.-editor relationship that tended to come from the author’s side of the negotiating desk: much of it seemed to emanate from Writer’s Digest

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Sparkle and Fade: The lifelong question of the author (Tuesday Two cents)

Iona this is great advice for new authors and a much needed reminder for established writers.

readful things blog

I keep seeing various forms of the same question being asked on blogs, in forums and personally from authors. Please note, that I did not say INDIE author, I simply said author.

CHARLES

I really am picking on you, and all the other authors out there. Mostly you.

So, this question goes a little something like this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I have done everything I can to keep my sales going, but it

seems like they have just fallen off. I have settled into a

pattern of selling very few copies each day. I can’t figure out

where I am going wrong. Has anyone else had this

experience?”

I would like to dissect these statements and eventual question and offer my take on the situation. So here we go.

 

So you published a book right? Yep. Good on you! Hours of slaving away behind a computer…

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Hedge Your Bets

Hedge Your Bets and Buyer Beware

The scamming of writers by shady publishers is a well known practice, too well known by those who have misplaced their confidence in these con artists.  It can never be stressed enough BUYER BEWARE. Allow me to add AUTHOR BE AWARE.

Do your homework and know who you are doing business with.

Do not get anxious. Anxiety leads to irrationality and in turn leads to bad decisions.

You do not have to accept that ‘all or nothing’ deal. The traditional publishers are hedging their bets, make sure you do the same.

This reminder comes on the heels of an article by David Gaughran about the exploitation of authors by brand name publishers. David writes, “The scammy vanity presses are owned by traditional publishers who are marketing them as the “easy” way to self-publish – when it’s nothing more than a horrifically expensive and terribly ineffective way to publish your work, guaranteed to kill your book’s chance of success stone dead, while emptying your bank account in the process.”

Instead of rambling my own sentiments I suggest you check out The Author Exploitation Business. David is a reputable source. I would also encourage you to spend a little time reading through his archives if you haven’t already and please feel free to share any source that has made the Indie world a better place to be.

 

Indie’s Continue Rising in the Ranks

Here is an interesting article from Forbes online magazine that should leave most independent authors/publishers smiling or at least hopeful.

When the Self-Published Authors Take Over, What Will Publishers Do?

April 30, 2013 |

In 2011, of the $14 billion trade publishing industry, roughly $100 million of it was self-published books, according to data presented at Digital Book World 2012. Less than 1%. A drop in the bucket. In 2013, the numbers should look quite differnt.

In the first four months of the year, we’ve had four weeks where a self-published title was a No. 1 ebook best-seller. Last week, both the Nos. 1 and 2 spots were self-published ebooks. This week’s best-seller list brings fresh challenges to the dominance of traditional publishers.

While David Baldacci’s The Hit (Hachette) retook the No. 1 spot from self-published author H.M. Ward, five of the top ten best-selling ebooks this week were self-published. For those of you who weren’t math majors, that’s half. Six of the top-25 best-selling ebooks were self-published: 24%.

When the top-two ebooks were self-published last week, publishing consultant Mike Shatzkin said, “This is another benchmark moment. The number of small- and self-published books achieving real commercial success will continue to rise; the gatekeeping role of established publishers will continue — gradually and then, sooner or later, suddenly — to fade to relative irrelevance.”

Perhaps the question is, are we in the “gradual” phase or the “sudden” phase in this transition? And what does this mean for publishers?

Some of the larger publishers are making moves to get involved in the self-publishing revenue streams:

– Offering their own self-publishing services (Simon & Schuster, Penguin, F+W Media [my employer], to name three).
– Buying books by self-published authors that have already shown strong sales in an attempt to boost them to even higher sales (See Hugh Howey’s Wool, Jennifer L. Armentrout’s Wait for You).
– Offering new business models for authors (Random House’s new suite of imprints, including the controversial Hydra, show that publishers are still figuring this out).

But when it comes to capturing these new revenue streams, it might be like trying to use a mop bucket to catch a breaking wave.

The top-five ebook best-sellers from this week might tell the story better than I can:

1. The Hit by David Baldacci (Hachette)
2. Damaged by H.M. Ward (Self-published)
3. The Bet by Rachel Van Dyken (Self-published)
4. Whiskey Beach by Nora Roberts (Penguin)
5. Twisted Perfection by Abbi Glines (Self-published)

See the rest of the top-25 ebook best-sellers this week.

Pricing

One other wrinkle in this precipitous rise of self-publishing is pricing. The average price of an ebook best-seller is lower now than it has ever been: $6.58. Part of the reason is that the six self-published titles on the list are each being sold for $0.99 or $3.99. If those six titles were taken off the list, the average would be about $8. Read more.

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Piracy vs. Publicity

I realize piracy is real but please don’t un-publish your e-book to “teach them a lesson”, it is like cutting your nose off to spite your face.

This thought comes after listening to a couple of writers rant about their books showing up on a pirate website. They receive no royalty from those sales and were understandably irate but removing the titles from legitimate retailers will not change the status of the pirated book guys.

Piracy is not a new thing and it will never go away, we must accept that fact, but we can learn to look at it in a more positive light.

A couple of years ago Neil Gaiman spoke about piracy. I’ll leave you with the video.

Authors Encouraged to Think Like Entrepreneurs

UK, USA or elsewhere Roger Tagholm’s article is recommended reading for Indie’s.

At LBF, Authors Encouraged to Think Like Entrepreneurs

By Roger Tagholm

Orna Ross is all smiles after self-publishing.

Orna Ross is the founder of the Alliance of Independent Authors

LONDON: If any talk emphasized just how much we are in a new world now, it was the Author as Entrepreneur session on the final day of the London Book Fair. Here, authors Orna Ross and Polly Courtney talked about why they decided to walk away from contracts with Penguin and HarperCollins and go down the self-publishing route — and each offered advice for those wishing to do the same.

Why They Walked

For both of them, it was the lack of creative control and the mismatch between their vision of their work, and that of their respective publishers, that caused them to walk. “I got a deal with Penguin after 54 rejections,” Ross told the standing-room only session full of new writers and small presses. “I thought ‘great, this is it, the golden ticket.’ But where I saw my novel as an Irish family story set against the Easter uprising, they saw pink and chic lit.”

Courtney’s experience with HarperCollins was similar. “I tried traditional publishers with my novel Golden Handcuffs in 2004, but they turned it down. So I decided to publish it myself — successfully — which led to an approach from HarperCollins. But their packaging for my second book was completely wrong, so I walked out.”

Scroll forward a few years and both are passionate advocates of self-publishing, with Ross taking her enthusiasm to another level and founding the Alliance of Independent Authors last year “because I decided everyone should be doing it like this.”

Polly Courtney is best known for "firing" her publisher Avon for their "demeaning" book covers.

Polly Courtney, a former banker, is known for “firing” her publisher Avon for their “demeaning” book covers.

Ross’ enthusiasm for self-publishing is infectious. You have the feeling she could talk a traditional editor into resigning and joining her. Among its attractions, she says, is the greater number of chances it offers new writers.  “With traditional publishing, you have one chance. But we can step away from all that now. It’s tragic how many good writers have given up.  Now, if you take a positive, entrepreneurial approach, if you engage with your readers and listen to them, you’ll find they stay with you. Your readers will give you more time than a traditional house does. You can test your product with them – they won’t expect you to get it right first time.”

Engagement with social media was essential with Ross observing: “sales and marketing can be as creative as writing the book itself. You can talk about your ideas online, put your covers out there. That way, people feel they have some ownership and may even want to buy a premium edition.”

Self-publishers Still Need Help, But…

Both felt that some third-party help was important, and that money spent on the writing process — a good editor to shape the work, for example — was money well-spent. “There are seven stages to self-publishing,” said Ross. “The first two are writing: first draft, second draft; then editorial help; production — e or p?; marketing; and sales. You have to decide which of those you want do. But this is a hugely creative time now. With traditional publishing, the commercial overtook the creative. Now, I think that indie authors, indie bookstores and indie publishers can come together to make partnerships.”

With the ranks of self-published authors growing by the day across a variety of platforms, there have been some well-documented success stories, from Amanda Hocking to Stina Holmes (who apparently told Ross “I don’t know what to do with all the money”).

Ross offered some very specific advice here. “When you do well, traditional publishers will come calling. When this happens it’s very important to be aware of what you have achieved. A lot of people are very happy to have this offer of help from a publisher, and some people feel they need that validation. But it’s very important that you hold on to your ebook rights. Yes, by all means grant print rights, but you need to think very carefully about your ebook rights. You’ve worked very hard to build that platform and you must realize the value in that. If they do want e-rights as well, they really need to be paying for them.”

**The only thing I might add is in regards to Orna’s comment and readers, “You can test your product with them – they won’t expect you to get it right first time.” Beta readers, okay but if a consumer is purchasing your product they will absolutely expect you to get it right before they buy it.  You can follow this link to Publishing Perspective to view the article and comments.

Self-Publishing Grabs Huge Market Share From Traditional Publishers

David covers some useful information regarding B&N along with Indie trends.

David Gaughran

godzillBarnes & Noble re-launched PubIt! this week as Nook Press, a largely superficial makeover which failed to address some fundamental problems, like restricting access to US self-publishers only, and introduced new howler: updating existing titles causes the loss of all ranking, reviews, and momentum.

There were only two noteworthy things, to me, about this launch. First, the PubIt! brand had been closely associated with Barnes & Noble. This re-launch seems like an attempt to tie the Nook Press brand to their subsidiary Nook Media, probably in advance of a sale (Barnes & Noble already sold a stake to Microsoft, and a smaller slice to Pearson – Penguin’s parent company but maintain a controlling interest in Nook Media).

This re-launch is full of things that sound great in a corporate press release (innovative editing tools!) that most professional self-publishers won’t really care about, which makes me further suspect this is more…

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