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Posts Tagged ‘Self-publishing’

Before you self-publish, count the cost!

In Guest Blogger, Self-publishing on July 29, 2012 at 12:01 am

When I decided to go the self-publishing route, I made a list of every possible expense item. I researched my options, concentrating on the cost of each item. Ask my wife, I’m a cheapskate. Should I pay for a line-by-line edit? Do I try to format and publish without help or use an AuthorHouse or iUniverse? What marketing tools will I need? Will there be extras required such as business cards and bookmarks? What about the expense of purchasing my books for book signings?

Guest Blogger Author Bill Wetterman on Amelia Curzon's Blog - 'Carte Blanche'

I found so many program offerings. I can’t possibly discuss them all. Suffice to say, the cost ranged from literally zero to over ten thousand dollars. I’m not technically savvy. So, zero was out. Ten thousand dollars isn’t in the realm of possibility. No, I decided on seeing if I could do wide-distribution, both eBook and paperback, for a thousand dollars or under.

The more I can do myself, the less I’ll spend. I chose a package from Book Country, a division of Penguin. New York publishers are buying or creating printing companies to grab a share of the Self-Publishing market. The cost with Book Country to-date is worth the return.

A huge decision was line-by-line editing. On a thousand dollar budget for an 81,000-word novel, a line-by-line edit is far too expensive. I had some resources to my advantage. A dear friend, who is a grammar specialist and avid reader, helped me. A text-to-speech program that read my novel to me identified errors, and my patience, editing repeatedly, factored in. The book is as solid grammatically as I could make it.

Research Permissions and Obtain Them

Not all that says free is free. I couldn’t see a neat photo online and decide to use it. I had to get permission. There was heavy research involved to find out what I could use free and what I couldn’t. My book cover and my book trailer were excellent examples. A free photo has limited use. So even using a free photo website, I had to be prepared to spend money.

If a photo was just going in a YouTube trailer, I paid the contract price for limited use. There are standard contracts, extended use contracts, and multi-user contracts. The globe and gold bars photo I use in the trailer costs more than the other photos, because I use it on the book cover, my business cards, and bookmarks, as well.

I used Mahler’s 1st Symphony in my trailer. Mahler’s been dead for a century, surely he won’t mind. Ah, not the case, production companies have copyrights. Performing artists have copyrights. You have to submit your intent to use their work and receive permission. All totaled, I paid right at one-hundred dollars to clear all of the copyright agreements. I have peace of mind. I did the right thing.

When I self-publish, I have the responsibility for everything. I can’t point the finger and say, “The publisher missed the word ‘form.’ The word should have been ‘from.'” Sorry, not the publisher’s fault. The buck starts and stops with me.

Read the contracts and know your rights.

I created everything I could myself. Then I picked a package that provided the rest. I needed to know my rights. What do I own the rights to do? What rights does the publisher own? Like, can I set my own prices?

I have a friend who went with a recognizable POD publisher. That publisher set the price of the paperback and the hardcover books. My friend had no say. She was priced out of the market range and had difficulty selling her books, except for the meager few free copies she was sent. Who is paying $22.00 for a paperback and $33.00 for a hard copy today? She has changed publishers now, but that’s a hard lesson to learn.

In my case, the calculated the publisher’s cost, plus shipping, as a zero profit figure. I was then able to price both my eBook and paperback with a reasonable margin. However, pricey extras will kill you. I compared one (they shall remain nameless) publisher’s low-cost option to their first step-up program. The difference was $800. What did the author get for $800? The author’s book was made available in an overpriced hardcopy book, one-hundred copies of promotional materials, and the Look Inside the Book feature on Nook and Kindle. You can design and have all the promotional materials printed for around $160. Many publishers offer the Look Inside the Book feature at no charge. Remember, overpriced hard copies don’t sell.

I shopped around. Read the whole contract and all the instructions before I signed up. How many books do I have to sell to earn the extra $800.00 in profit? The add-ons can go as high as $10,000. It’s only money. Right?

Here is a book trailer I designed myself through Windows Movie Maker. Here’s the trailer if you haven’t seen it. Room 1515 – YouTube

The pluses of self-publishing:

Advantage 1: Your book will be available in a matter of weeks, not a couple of years. Unless you are a celebrity, you will search for months, maybe years, for an agent. The agent is not a magic genie. He or she may never sell your book to a publisher. Once the book is sold, you will get in line with the publisher’s schedule, an average time of another year to publication.

Advantage 2. Timeliness: If you’re writing about a hot topic or in a hot genre today, will that genre or topic be so hot two to three years from now? One month, I think you’re safe. Three years, you’ve missed the bus. Fact: eBooks have changed the ballgame. Today, to publish in one month is a reality.

Advantage 3: Control and Rights: A well-researched, self-published author retains the rights to the product and its uses–foreign sales, movies, and television. Note: The percentage of self-published books made into a movie is minuscule. The author controls the content and the cover design. There is no editor demanding you rewrite whole sections of your book.

Note: This could be a real negative if you’re a lousy editor. lol

Self-publishing has vastly improved over the past decade. The quality of the printed books, the formatting, book cover design, and feel, give self-published books the look and the pricing of royalty publishing. Depending upon how much you can do for yourself, you should reap a greater profit.

Niche books sell the best. Non-fiction religious books have a nice built-in appeal. Books on self-improvement do well. How-to books can be winners. In fact, books on self-publishing are among the biggest self-publishing sellers. Fiction writers have to be able to find and reach their audience. Unfortunately, this is a huge problem, since genre writers can find each other far easier than they can find readers. Hence, we receive and delete thousands of emails a month trying to sell each other our stuff.

If you are a serious author, you must have patience. Don’t expect to sell a thousand copies the first month. In 2006, Publisher’s Weekly estimated the average book sold 500 copies in the first year. With today’s economy, the average has dropped to closer to 250, and less than 3000 in its lifetime. Put your book out on the market and market consistently and persistently.

Okay, if you are consistent and persistent, self-published authors have an advantage. The publisher can’t Backlist your book for poor sales. Typical houses pull novels off the shelves after eighteen months. A new author needs more than eighteen months to build a following, a platform, and generate a readership. The lifespan of a self-published book is unlimited. Score a point for self-publishing. Don’t give up.

The minuses:

#1: Market everywhere and in every medium you know how to use. Self-Publishing is not for the shy. I call this shameless marketing. Authors tend to hold back, fearful to promote themselves. If you are uncomfortable marketing, don’t self-publish. Having said this, marketing to other authors is a useless endeavor. Don’t you cringe when some author you don’t know asks, “Follow this link and like my author page.” Reach out to readers—not authors.

#2: The rising cost of printing hurts the pocketbook. After publisher and distributor costs, the author typically receives 30 percent of the net. The more pages in the book the higher the printing cost. I priced my paperback at $14.95 to hit a reasonable percentage after everybody took his or her cut. Any higher would have priced me out of the market.

#3: Don’t believe the myth that being on the bookshelf at your major bookstores means you’ll make more money. First, self-published authors rarely have their books in bookstores. The industry requires certain standards be upheld. The ability to return unsold books looms large. Your publisher won’t print a book until it’s sold. The bookstore won’t stock books unless they can return them. A few POD companies offer a Book Buy Back program. You pay for the cost in your contract with the publisher–$600 to $800 dollars. What if distributors and bookstores ignore your book anyway? You are out the money. Your best avenue for both eBooks and paperbacks are Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, Kindle, Nook, Sony, and like venues, not bookstores.

#4: I’m sorry folks. Readers still believe self-published books are inferior in quality. With the exceptional training and coaching available today, the quality has improved I believe honest reviews by our peers is necessary. Example: A friend of my published a book. Three months later the book had twenty-plus five star reviews.

Does this happen in the real world? 

James Patterson never got twenty-plus five-star reviews. My friend admitted having friends and family review the book. So there you go. I’ve rated twenty-three books on Goodreads. I gave five stars to four books. Self-published authors need to give honest reviews for each other and the industry. If we don’t improve our quality, the perception will continue and rightly so.

#5: Let’s end on an upbeat. A nice author advance from a traditional publisher used to be a major reason not to self-publish. Not today, this perk has grown smaller and smaller. When offered, the advance is likely to be a $1,000 against future sales.

Again, Amelia, thanks for letting me contribute to you blog.

Now for shameless marketing. To buy my international thriller, Room 1515, click on one of the links below.

Buy at Amazon

Buy at Barnes and Noble

Blog: The Heart of a Novelist

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Guest Blogger Bill Wetterman – First posted July 29th,2012 

Challenging The Market

In Guest Blogger, The Book Market on June 17, 2012 at 12:01 am

A huge welcome to my guest Blogger for the week, Michael Madden.  Michael shares his views on the traditional publisher’s stock response of: “There is no market for it”

As an aspiring author I have received numerous rejection letters, as I am sure many of you have. Some are standard “No thanks” type responses, whilst others are along the lines of “It’s not really for us but good luck elsewhere”. Another one that I have encountered is “There is no market for it”, and whilst the publishers and literary agents are quite happy to stick with their cosy, established markets, I believe that these assertions should be challenged.

I produced the children’s picture book “Ole And Zac And The Port Of Tumbattle” almost by accident. The story was written during a rainy holiday in Barbados, and I completed it by getting local schoolchildren to do the illustrations, with all proceeds from the finished book going to the school charity.

Author Michael Madden - Guest Blogger on Amelia Curzon's Blog - "Carte Blanche"I did not write the book with a market in mind, and was not surprised when it was rejected (“too long for a picture book”), but I was not too disappointed either. Self publishing “Tumbattle” taught me a lot. I learnt about typesetting, proof reading, editing. It also taught me more about Dr Seuss, and how clever Theodore Seuss Geisel really is.

My next venture was an adult orientated humorous novel entitled Stags! I had it professionally critiqued, and whilst they made a few suggestions the overall view was that it was well written, the humour was well constructed and the characterization was believable. The only problem was the lack of a market, and they pointed out that the genre of “laddish fiction” no longer existed since the days of Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch. I was, and still am, determined to challenge this, as I believe that not only is there a male market out there, there are more and more women listening to and watching traditionally male comedians such as Frankie Boyle and Frank Skinner, thus challenging previously accepted stereotypes. As soon as I have the marketing budget, I will put my fully constructed marketing plan into action!

That brings me on to my latest challenge, Mmm…No1…Cookbook was released in May 2012. Originally I devised the cook book so that I could have all of my recipes in one place, on the Kindle. My wife, however, had other ideas. She wanted the paperback in every bookshop, and she set about taking photographs of a large pan of paella for the cover. The challenges came in thick and fast. “No one reads a Kindle in the kitchen”, “You can’t have a cookery book with no pictures”, “There’s no market for it”.

Slowly but surely these challenges were offset by opportunities. A recipe on Kindle provides a ready made list of ingredients with which to go shopping. The lack of pictures is not really a problem. The appearance of most of the recipes in Mmm…No1…Cookbook is either self evident or does not really matter. The last time I looked there were 777 items listed in the UK Kindle store under the term “Cookery Book”. If the search is widened to all departments that hit count rises to over 91,000. Some might interpret those figures as meaning there is little or no market for a Kindle cookery book, however, the more optimistic of us would certainly see that as a huge gap in the market.

When a literary agent or publisher says there is no market for a genre, that probably means that there are no books written in that genre which then leads to no more books being written in that genre. It’s a self fulfilling prophecy, and one that self published authors should not be afraid to challenge.


Michael Madden lives in the Peak District in England, and has worked for many years in the IT industry, as a result of which he has been quoted in publications as prestigious as the New York Times. He has self published three titles, the children’s picture book “Ole And Zac And The Port Of Tumbattle”, the adult humorous novels “Stags!” and “Mmm…No1…Cookbook”, a cookery book aimed at Kindles. He also writes for local journals and newspapers, on subject matter ranging from Olympic hopefuls to Narrow Boats, and even a preview and review of a performance by rockabilly legend Sleepy Labeef, that included an interview with the singer himself.

You can read my blog at http://www.mmm-number-1.blogspot.co.uk/ and visit my website at http://www.michael-madden.co.uk/

Mmm...No1...CookbookMmm…No1…Cookbook byMichael Madden is now on sale as an eBook and in paperback

“Just a little bit ” by R.T. Kaelin

In Guest Blogger, Respect on June 10, 2012 at 12:01 am

This week my guest is acclaimed Fantasy author, R.T. Kaelin. who talks about the respect we need to gain as writers, and where that respect has to come from within the industry.       

Confession time.  

When presented with the guideline to write about an issue about which I am passionate, I was perplexed. While I could do a post on my strong political convictions, I am unwilling to commit career suicide and alienate half of the people reading this. Therefore, I will not touch the topic with a hundred-and-ten-foot pole.

I could have discussed my passion for writing and storytelling in general, but this is a blog post, not a novella.Author R.T. Kaelin - Guest Blogger on Amelia Curzon's Blog - "Carte Blanche"

I considered focusing on a subset of writing—self-publishing and the correct manner in which to do it—but I have written about that extensively at various outlets. However, recent experiences inspired a tangential subject regarding self-publishing, so here we are.

Respect.

It is a difficult thing for any author to gain in this industry, but if the qualifier ‘self-published’ precedes your name, it is thrice as hard.

Many people imagine the life of an author to be one of isolation, a lone sole sitting in a dark basement or a sun-strewn office in his or her mountain chalet, punching away at the keyboard, bringing stories to life. The moment ‘The End’ is typed, off the manuscript goes, book printed, accolades bestowed, parades ensue.

That’s how it works, right?

The truth of the matter is very different. Authors are not solitary creatures. We chat. We email. We network. We do everything anyone else does in any industry. Also, like in any other industry, one of the things for which we all strive is the respect of your colleagues. Don’t get me wrong, I want to earn the respect of every one of my readers, I love hearing from them. But gaining the approval of professionals is key if you wish to advance your career. And there are a lot of professionals involved with producing a book.

When you are wandering about the bookstore (or Amazon) and you pick up a book, what are the things to which you most likely pay attention?

The cover and title? Most likely.

The short synopsis or review blurbs? Probably.

The author’s name? Perhaps.

What about the publisher or imprint, the editor, the copyeditor, or the author’s agent? I doubt it. I mean, I do now, but before I started writing? Never. Not once.

Yet those are the people who will help make or break an author’s career. Before readers on the mass scale can ever have a chance to enjoy a book, the author needs the respect and approval of dozens of people within the industry. And that often starts with gaining your peers’ respect first.

While I have learned much in my journey as an indie author, the thing that I think has surprised me more than anything is just how important it is to cultivate the respect of your fellow authors. However, do not expect instance acceptance into the community. With self-publishing, anyone can put out a book now, sans editor, copyeditor, agent, or publisher. Often, this is what many people do and it shows.

Some authors, when they discover I am indie, are standoffish, believing I am one of the many who do not take the craft and business aspect seriously. Others are curious, non-judgmental, and let the writing speak for itself. Luckily, there are more of the latter than the prior.

In the past two years, I have had the pleasure of meeting, having dinner with, picking the brains of dozens of established authors, a few even NYT bestsellers. The experience has been invaluable and has proven to me just how much I crave the respect of them all.

Case in point. This was my second time as an author at Origins, a gaming convention held in Columbus, Ohio. Along with the thousands of games, books about games, game paraphernalia, and seminars about games, there is a four-day authors’ track where fans, readers, aspiring writers can attend panels on any number of topics about writing craft. I sat on a dozen this year and learned twice as much from my fellow writers as I imparted to any of the attendees.

A tradition at the end of any convention is for authors to exchange books with other authors. So, last year, I gave everyone a copy of Progeny, heart in throat. Readers had enjoyed what I had done, but this felt a little like I was high school quarterback tossing with NFL MVP Tom Brady.

Something else I have learned is that you never, and I mean never, ask another author, “How’d you like my book/story?” We all have personal preferences, opinions, and what we like. I am not a big horror fan. Yet I know a few good authors who write horror. I can appreciate the artist, even if I do not care for the art. This is why you do not ask for an opinion. It is best to sit back and let others voluntarily offer their thoughts.

Which is why when a veteran author who has published thirty novels, pointed to my book during a panel about storytelling at Origins and told the audience, “You should all read this. This is a really good book,” I started to glow like the equatorial sun at high noon.

Later, after signing my Origins short story anthology, she handed me back my copy, looked me in the eye, and said, “And I mean what I wrote. I don’t say it lightly.” Curious, I flipped open to her story and signature and found this: “R.T. – You will hit the big bestsellers list.”

At that point, the glow was so strong I might as well have been standing on the surface of the sun.

Respect. I had earned it.

R.T. Kaelin  is a loving husband, father of two, and a lifelong resident of Ohio. His first novel,Progeny, The Children of the White Lions has garnered critical acclaim and reached #34 bestselling at Amazon for Epic Fantasy. He has also published the Terrene Chronicles, a series of twelve short prequel stories and is currently editing book two in the series, due out in the fall of 2012. He is a contributor to Fantasy Faction

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