Archive for the 'Progress Toward Publication' Category

The Death of Traditional Publishers? Final Post: Entrepreneur Jimmy Thomas

Last week I posted about the new entrepreneurs that will rise as traditional publishing descends. One of those entrepreneurs is cover model, Jimmy Thomas of Romance Cover Novels. He is a very, very busy man, but I finally pinned him down for an interview about his unique and brilliant business:

How long have you been creating and selling your own cover photos?

Almost a year. On the 1-year anniversary date of the launch of my site, I will be having a 50% off ALL my images for the entire day! That date won’t be revealed until a few days before, as I don’t want to lose sales until then. (Hint: it’s next month!)

What made you decide to do so in the first place?

I’ve always shot ‘couples’ images, from fitness, lifestyle, editorial and stock, to romantic, sensual and erotica for the past 12 years. I wanted to be on more romance novel covers since I’ve always had the knack to pull off that style.  So between that, and getting involved in the romance novel industry back in 2002, I figured why not make it happen, instead of waiting for it to happen.

Are you able to track who buys them? If so – have you seen any market shifts? Like paper to e-pubs to individuals? Or surges in purchases?

Yes, I know who buys my images and I keep very good track of everything. I’m a perfectionist so to keep sane, and for business sense, I make sure I know my biggest buyers, which publishers I have more covers with, authors, cover artists, etc.  As for e-publishers vs. print publishers, it’s about equal. (All the print publishers now put their print books out in e-format anyway; either at the same time if a well-known author, or they wait until the e-formats sell enough to take it to print.)  As for surges in purchases, no, it stays pretty steady.

Do you know of any other models doing the same thing?

Nope, none. It’s not something that just anybody can do. And again, I have 12 years experience in creating all ranges of very marketable ‘couples’ images. I have many participating photographers who have signed my contract and over 175 female models wanting to shoot. I’m a web designer so I have control of my site and editing the images, plus I have a knack for directing, producing, wardrobe, what looks good, what makes something look better, etc.  I just don’t see others coming around having all of the same abilities.  Plus, I already have the head start if someone does!

Have you considered creating your own “stable” of models and photos – expanding your services by taking on others on a percentage basis?

I will be, once I’m on more covers than John DeSalvo (1,600 will clear the air, but I’m targeting 2,000 by next Romantic Times Booklovers Convention – April 2011).  Then yes, I will allow any photographer or model, who has rights to sell and publish their images, to submit them to me. If I find them suitable for novel covers, I’ll post them for sale..  RomanceNovelCovers will be then be THE only site everyone will go to for those types of images.

Do you realize how “cutting edge” you are?

While trying to stay humble… yes, I do. *wink* But I don’t mean me personally as a model or my look, but because of my combination of abilities that allow me to create and run RNC! 😉

The beta version of Goodnight Publishing’s website is up: http://www.GoodnightPublishing.com Would you like me to list you as a resource?

Yes, I’d love to have you list me as a resource for their cover images!

THANKS, Jimmy!

Thank YOU Kris!

~~~~~

And now we have – July.

I will be taking a much-needed break for a few weeks. Who knows what the publishing world will stir up in the meantime? Please subscribe so you don’t miss whatever comes next; and thank you for your support and comments thus far. I appreciate every one of you! Kris 🙂

The Death of Traditional Publishers? Part 12: Unveiling A Business Model that Didn’t Exist – Until Now

I am about to take a huge and scary plunge. I’m going to reveal my secret.

During the past year I have been actively exploring the world of independent publishing. The reason is simple: while my writing itself has been praised, the setting of my American/Norwegian historical trilogy doesn’t fit into publishers’ “kilts & dukes” boxes. (See Jerry Simmons’ June 17th post here about “safe” trumping “new.”) So my choices were to:

1. bury the books, or

2. hope that the manuscripts I have – which DO fit the “boxes” sort of – sell to publishers, and generate enough interest that the publisher might take a risk on them, or

3. publish them independently and let them stand on their own.

With my agent’s blessing, I’m taking the trilogy directly to the readers. But the issue I have with 99.9% of self-published books is that they look… well… unprofessional. Cheesy. They use ugly or mismatched fonts, over-use bold lettering, or don’t have a sense for how a page should LOOK. It’s like these authors have never read a book!

But to be fair, so do some print-on-demand books from some established e-publishers! Editing there, too, is an issue. Because e-books are cheap, somehow that translates into shoddy work.

Readers deserve better.

So, I decided to find a way to give it to them: GOODNIGHT PUBLISHING.

I soon realized that I have no interest in getting in between an author and their royalties. Or an author and their rights to their books, for that matter! So Goodnight Publishing is NOT an actual publisher, per se. But it fills a need that no other company does that I know of. It begins with:

  • Manuscripts being evaluated by professional editors before they are accepted.
  • Once accepted, the author will either learn how to do all of the following tasks themselves, or take training classes through the Goodnight Publishing website ($15 per class per 30-day instructional window).

Authors are asked to:

  1. Sign up for a free account with Amazon’s Create Space – for their POD copies – procure a free ISBN through them, and determine the physical properties for their book(s).
  2. Format their manuscript per the selected properties, or have it professionally formatted (classes and/or references provided).
  3. Edit their manuscripts, or have it professionally edited (references provided).
  4. Design their own book covers, or hire a professional designer (classes and/or references provided).

Now, this is where the genius of Goodnight Publishing kicks in: when the book itself looks professional and the proof is approved, the author will be given permission to add the TRADEMARKED logo for Goodnight Publishing.

  1. The book now has Goodnight Publishing’s logo printed on the back, spine and the title page.
  2. Goodnight Publishing’s website address appears under the logo.
  3. All book covers will appear on Goodnight Publishing’s website.
  4. Readers who go to Goodnight Publishing’s website will see all the other authors “published” by Goodnight Publishing. Just like any traditional publisher’s site.
  5. For their first four books on the website, authors will pay $2 per month for one live link from their book cover, or $3 per month for two. (Their fifth book will be linked for free.)

These live links can send readers to the author’s website, Amazon or another site for purchasing, to YouTube for their book trailer (classes and/or references provided), their blog, etc. Wherever they choose. By being listed on a publisher’s site along with other authors, the author gains legitimacy in the eye of the reader. Readers don’t care where royalties go. They just want to be able to find more books.

More key points of genius:

  1. This business model exists to enable the independent author to present their works to readers in a professional manner.
  2. Authors retain all rights to their work.
  3. There are no contracts.
  4. Live links are prepaid for 12 months (renewable/non-refundable) and pulled when the payment expires. However, the cover stays on the site. That’s good for all of us.
  5. No manuscript will be refused or removed because previous ones haven’t sold well. Each book stands on its own.

Because – this process is not about selling books. It’s about authors linking arms to BUILD READERSHIP. Long term goals are realistic, overnight bestseller is not.

Goodnight Publishing will accept submissions from all genres, but I do confess an affinity for Historical Fiction and Romance.

Do you have a manuscript that you would like to take on this path? Are you willing to do the work? Then get ready:

Submissions will be accepted beginning August 1, 2010 at www.GoodnightPublishing.com

The Death of Traditional Publishers? Part 11: Spawning New Entrepreneurs!

In the new world of “Author-Straight-To-Public” publishing, tasks done by the traditional houses now fall on the author. But few of us are graphic artists/video competent/promotional whizzes. And we have already discussed how impossible it is to successfully edit our own work!

This is the moment when energetic go-getters will sit up and say, “But I AM a graphic artist/video competent/a promotional whiz/an experienced and competent editor! I should offer my services!”

Bingo.

Let’s say I want to independently publish my Ecuadorian same-sex vampire historical time-travel epic because – at 250,000 words – I’m having a hard time convincing the NY publishers to take a chance on it. Where do I start?

Obviously, the first thing is to get it polished. Enter ENTREPRENEUR #1: Independent Editors! For a fee (a penny a word is what I’ve seen bandied about) they will edit your manuscript and clean it up. Make it shine. Worth every – literally – penny!

Next, I need a cover. If I don’t have any art background, or am not techie enough to do it myself, I’ll want to hire someone to design it for me.

Enter ENTREPRENEUR #2: Freelance Book Cover Designers! These professional artists will design your cover to match your expectations – and your actual characters. Here are two I have met, though there are many more out there: Anastasia Rabiyah: www.rabiyahbooks.com and Dawne’ Dominique www.dawnedominique.com (Contact info is on their websites.)

But what if I DO have some skills? Where can I get the components to put together my OWN cover? Enter ENTREPRENEUR #3: Freelance Cover Models! Okay, I used the plural here. But honestly, the only one I have found (Do you know of others? Please share!) is Jimmy Thomas.

On his site, Romance Novel Covers Jimmy poses both alone and with female models in a variety of costumes and settings. Don’t be put off by the name: professionally shot, the photos are perfect for a variety of genres! And they are very reasonably priced.

Brilliant, Jimmy.

Now that I’m edited and have a cover, I can upload to CreateSpace, Kindle, Nook, iBooks (But only if I own a Mac. In typical Apple fashion they aren’t playing nicely with others), and Smashwords (who covers ALL formats – even iBook. So there.) on my own. But how do potential readers know I’m worth it?

ENTREPRENEUR #4: Freelance Reviewers! There are a ton of blogs and websites that will review your book for free. One, however, takes it a step further: Apex Reviews. For a very reasonable fee, they will review your book, create a trailer, and post it everywhere.

Speaking of which, ENTREPRENEUR #5: Book Trailer companies! A caveat to this: most of their prices are so high that I’m not sure they drive enough traffic to justify the expenditure. But you CAN make your own trailer very simply with PowerPoint and a conversion program.

Which brings us to ENTREPRENEUR #6: Teaching Other Authors! I teach classes on creating your own Book Trailer through Savvy Authors (Check it out if you are interested!). MANY authors teach classes through a variety of websites! And we all make a little money doing it. But the entrepreneurs RUNNING the classes? They make a lot.

Are you getting the point? If there is a corner of the publishing market that independent authors need filled, quick-acting and skilled entrepreneurs can jump in… ARE jumping in.

Is there an unmet need that you have as an author? Post it here and we’ll see if anyone can help… Or start a business! 🙂

The Death of Traditional Publishers? Part 10: Why It’s So Hard to GET Published by Jerry Simmons

Kris says: In light of all the changes in publishing, I asked Jerry D. Simmons of Nothing Binding to give us his take.

It’s probably hard for any writer to believe that large New York based trade publishers are constantly on the lookout for new product (books). In fact, it’s crucial to the life of a trade publisher to have a constant influx of new product, i.e. new titles, new authors, possibly even new categories. Publishers need product to keep their seasonal lists fresh and well rounded. This means they cannot simply publish best-selling authors, the kind that everyone sees on the New York Times bestseller list. They need to publish a complete list of books.

And booksellers are always looking for what’s new, too. When a publisher presents their list to a book buyer, the typical first question is: what’s new? Books by John Grisham, Danielle Steele, Stephen King and the other well-known authors are exciting but also very predictable. They will sell a predictable number of copies and that of course is a very good thing for books sellers. They need these authors to bring customers into the stores and to generate a large number of sales. But they also need the next sleeper, the newest and different title that has the potential to rise from the bottom to become the next big book.

Agents, too, are always looking for new books and new authors because their existence depends on it. So if the publishers and agents are on the hunt for new and different, why is it so hard to get published? Certainly the intensely competitive nature of the publishing industry is one answer, but the truth is that your largest trade publishers (Random House, Simon & Schuster, Harper-Collins, Penguin Putnam, Holtzbrink and Hachette) are risk averse!

In other words they want new, but safe. They’re looking for different, but the same. Make sense? Of course not, and this is why getting a contract to have your book published is so hard and why recognizing these titles are so difficult.

Publishers today are not willing to take financial risks on books that are not reasonably predictable. A first time author of a romance or mystery novel for example, depending on the writing, will sell a predictable number of copies. Books on cooking, business or other related non-fiction categories, for example, will sell a predictable number of copies. Manuscripts that are new, different, and predictable, yet offer the slightest possibility of breaking out of the mainstream, are what they want, what they desire, and what they are constantly seeking.

Because of this, every writer should have a thorough grasp of their genre. Who publishes the titles in their category, which are the best-selling authors, how are they packaged, priced, etc. Then you must ask yourself: how is my writing unique? What makes my book new and different? If you’ve read most of the best-selling authors in your category and you can provide a good answer, then you have what publishers and agents need.

Now you must aggressively market yourself to the agents and be confident enough in your work to say, ‘my writing is new and different’. It is also critical that you have a basic understanding of the business side of publishing and a good idea of what is happening in the marketplace. To summarize, you must write something that is new and different, you must be confident, have a basic understanding of the business, and knowledge of the marketplace, all of which are possible! Who said getting a book published was difficult?

~~~~~

Jerry is a 32-year veteran of publishing, 25 in New York with Random House and the former Time Warner Book Group as Vice President, Director Field Sales. His sales division generated hundreds of millions of dollars in book sales across the United States and Canada.

Over the years he has worked on thousands of New York Times bestselling titles and hundreds of New York Times bestselling authors including James Patterson, David Baldacci, Sandra Brown, Nicholas Sparks, Nelson DeMille and Michael Connelly.

Founder of www.WritersReaders.com Jerry’s eNewsletter “TIPS for WRITERS from the PUBLISHING INSIDER” is read by thousands of writers in over 24 countries. He is also the founder of the free online marketing platform and resource for writers and authors www.NothingBinding.com. In 2009 Jerry launched the INDI Publishing Group, establishing a new publishing model for publishing while creating opportunities for writers choosing to publish independently.

His book, WHAT WRITERS NEED TO KNOW ABOUT PUBLISHING is described by the #1 New York Times Bestselling author Sandra Brown as “The good, the bad, and the ugly aspects of book publishing, told in a straight-from-the hip manner. New writers take note.” New York Times bestselling author Allison Brennan said “The information was absolutely incredible! I would recommend your book to all aspiring and new authors.”

You can reach Jerry via email Jerry@WritersReaders.com or direct to his office via phone 623-556-2751. You may quote from or use this article all or in part, under the condition that the author, Jerry D. Simmons, and this web site, www.writersreaders.com are referenced.

The Death of Traditional Publishers? Part 9: The Rebirth of Print Books!

Every major publisher and bookstore should be preparing right now for the future. It will make sense to begin to launch books with a no-inventory strategy, and to encourage sales and move stocks of current press runs with returns allowable. The idea of printing and distributing on speculation and consignment will make less sense as the print market diminishes in its overall share.

There’s an inevitable downward spiral of brick-and-mortar retail inherent in this forecast because sales are moving online. The nearly-limitless online selection – for both eBooks and print –  plus the ability to shop in your jammies, have been increasingly powerful magnets since the day Amazon opened its virtual doors.

In fact, by the end of 2012, half of all book sale potential could be reached without requiring local inventory, shipping, or revenue collection, beyond digital distribution and its print-on-demand partner.

So what’s a bookstore to do?

The GOOD news is: the paper book will never disappear. But the HOW is going to be radically different. Enter The Espresso Book Machine by On Demand Books.

I read about this transition a couple years ago. In the near future, forward-thinking bookstores will have shelves of book covers – much like a video store has shelves of empty DVD cases. Buyers will pick up the covers, read the quotes, the back-cover blurb, the reviews. Probably a chunk of the first chapter. If they like what they see, they’ll take the cover to the cashier, pay for the book, and in a few minutes, the book is handed to them LITERALLY right off the press.

Now, I have very little faith that bookstores will overcome their greed and roll the stocking-shipping-and-returning savings into the cost – BUT THEY SHOULD! And they might. It would certainly beat shuttering their doors!

What I do know is that any author whose book is on Amazon, for example, should be available in any bookstore through this method. Log on, select the file, hit print, go.

Could the print future look any brighter? Can you see the genius in this path? Why aren’t bookstores starting the transition? Ordering these machines NOW and making all CreateSpace (and all other indie-publisher) authors available today? The more unique books and authors that are available – without the hassles and expenses of the traditional system – the more books a bookstore will sell. And the customer’s choices are expanded exponentially.

Harvard University has taken the step. Harvard Book Store’s new Espresso Book Machine turns PDF files into a high-quality paperback book in minutes. Genius, I say! …Well, it IS Harvard.

And a year ago, Blackwell Bookshop on Charing Cross Road in central London took the step as well. And think about this: NO INTERNATIONAL SALES or FORMATTING ISSUES! E-files fly across The Pond at the speed of internet – in both directions! Shoot, how about Australia and back?

After the machine itself, the only costs are the actual paper and ink. Think about that in a world increasingly desiring to be “green”! Think about the costs of print books going DOWN not up! And think about more of that money going to the AUTHOR.

I’m positively giddy over the prospect. Aren’t you?

The Death of Traditional Publishers? Part 8: The Date of Their Demise

Michael Shatzkin, a respected book industry consultant, weighed in with an interesting article about how soon the publishing crash could come. His analysis is fairly solid and he sees a “serious disruption” in book distribution as early as November, 2012.

The latest game-changers are Apple’s iPad – which reached the 1 million sales mark in only four weeks – and the now-available iPhone 4.0.

This new generation of iPhones (and iPod Touches) all have a built-in version of iBooks, Apple’s book-reading software. This will add over fifty million eBook readers to the market, with readers being able to order books from anywhere at any time.

This will be a slow, steady and serious blow to brick-and-mortar stores. Predicting the death of traditional publishing, he says, is not a case of figuring out how it will happen, it’s a matter of pinpointing the when.

Early last month, Simon & Schuster announced that first-quarter sales from its digital division had more than tripled, to $12 million, and now account for nearly 8% of income for the publishing house. If by the end of 2012, 25% of sales for a new book are digital, then about half of new book sales will be made through online purchases. Print books are never going to go away; but the current distribution model will.

Shatzkin believes that once eBook sales hit 20-25% of total sales, print run numbers will fall to a point where the current system for sales will break down. Currently books can be returned for credit, so for every book sold, two are printed. EBook sales will create smaller print runs, driving up the per unit cost, forcing higher prices which, in turn, will kill sales. Game over.

The monthly release of eBook sales figures by the IDPF provides a regular reminder about how fast this market is growing. Project the curve into the future and think about the implications!

Author Michael Stackpole thinks the transition will be sooner: he says June 2012. He believes the most serious blow will be dealt in December 2011, when a second wave of tablets becomes the hottest holiday gift item.

The second point which propels Stackpole toward his conclusion is the ease with which authors themselves are able to create and market eBooks: “In just over an hour, I converted a 192,000 word novel into an eBook. Putting the book up for sale in my website’s store, and blogging about it on Twitter and Facebook to let readers know it exists, was work of a morning. And the cost to me of capitalizing story inventory that would otherwise sit idle is, well, a morning’s work.”

He knows that authors can easily produce eBook versions of any length: anthologies, novels, novellas and short stories. Authors will make far more on those eBooks through direct sales than publishers are offering, even with their inflated (and sale-discouraging) pricing.

There is no incentive for authors to sell those rights to traditional publishers which means, in the fairly short term, publishers run out of material to sell. Their backlists will vanish as authors sell the books themselves.

If these men’s estimates are right, we are only two years away from a publisher (or author) being able to reach half the market for a book without inventory/monetary risk! And that disruption could take place before many books under contract now will reach their publication date.

I’ll conclude with Michael Stackpole: “2012 could be a year of disaster, not because of the Mayan calendar, but because of traditional publishing’s inability to deal with the impact of technology, and their arrogant refusal to adapt. As long as publishers cling to the belief that they’re the only game in town – employing a business model that has not significantly changed since the early 1800s – it’s a matter of when, not if; and that when fast approaches.”

(By the way – if you haven’t done so, would you please click on the “HELP” tab and vote for a book cover? Or tell me where I can find blond male cover model photos? All the standard sites that sell photos have the SAME men! THANKS! – Kris) … (And subscribe to this blog if you haven’t already – big stuff is coming by the end of the month!)

The Death of Traditional Publishers? Part 7: OTHER Editorial Tasks & The Author’s Responsibility to Their Customers

Writers should already know that they cannot expect a publisher’s editor to extensively line-edit their works, as editors did decades ago. And we already know that a good number of traditionally published books – all of which were professionally edited and produced – aren’t of particularly high quality. E-pubs tend to drop the bar even lower, sad to say.

It makes me want to pitch books across the room. In my pre-Kindle days, I waited 6 months from release until a friend’s e-book went to print. POD print, that is. I paid WAY too much ($28) for a copy from Amazon, but I wanted to be supportive. When I read the book, I realized that I never want my name associated with that (large & successful) e-publisher. The plot was a copy of a best-seller and the editing was horrific.

My last blog guest made it perfectly clear that an author can not successfully edit their own work. So what’s a new author to do? ESPECIALLY a new author striking out on their own?

Let’s assume your manuscript is completed and you have combed through it many times already. You have critique partners – other writers – who have evaluated your plot and characters, plus their goals, motivations and conflicts. Your grammar, punctuation and spelling have been checked. You think it’s finally in good enough shape to put it “out there.” How can you get it ready for print?

The answer, in my humble opinion, is to:

1. Print 3-4 copies in the form the book will ultimately take.

I learned when publishing my “Primer for Beginning Authors” that it does no good to proof a book that is not in book form. Wasted effort.

2. Recruit a battery of beta-readers.

I ordered 4 copies of my debut novel – “A Woman of Choice” – and gave it to 4 friends to read. (They cost $5.05 each – comparable in cost to printing the 103,000-word manuscript at Office Max.)

When they found a mistake, they were to mark it, dog-ear the page, then keep going. Mistakes could take any form: typos, scene breaks that fell at an awkward spot on the page, action descriptions that didn’t make sense, etc.

When I got the books back, 25% of the pages had mistakes on them – in a manuscript that I thought was clean. And here’s the kicker: they all found DIFFERENT mistakes!

3. Do it again.

I tweaked the cover, adjusted lines on the pages so the scene breaks didn’t overlap the top or bottom of a page, fixed every skipped or repeated word, adjusted the font size to be more pleasing, clarified actions described.

Then I ordered 4 more copies. 4 different friends got the fixed copies.

And they came back with 10% of the pages dog-eared, marked with mistakes that were missed in the first round. And again, they all found different ones. *sigh*

4. Do it yet again.

Ditto on the changes. But this time I only ordered 2 copies. And they went to 2 different friends.

But I already spotted 2 mistakes myself. Really? REALLY??

5. Do it again, for hopefully the LAST time.

I have 2 more friends waiting in the wings for Round Four.

Does this process take time? Yes. Is it worth it? You bet it is! I don’t want my books to look shoddy either in print or on e-pub. I don’t want to give anyone reason to say, “You can totally tell she published this herself.”

I am setting about building a readership. I respect those who spend their money to take a chance on me and my stories. I want to give them the best experience possible, whether the book is electronically, independently or traditionally published. Even if they only paid $2.99 for the e-book.

Because I’m in this for the long haul.

And the long haul demands that I go the extra mile. That my books are extensively proofed. That I listen to critique. That I give 100% effort to creating a quality product.

I wish all publishers felt as strongly about this as I do. Then I could stop throwing books across the room.

An Off-Cycle Post RE: An Exchange with Romance Writers of America Regarding Shifts in Publishing

Being a wheel that simply cannot keep itself from squeaking, I decided to ask RWA to clarify its stance on “published.”

RWA has very justifiable qualifications in place before they will consider an author legitimately published. These guidelines are intended to protect authors from mills and vanity presses whose main source of income is the author’s own pocket. They prey on the hopes and dreams of new writers and are despicable in my view. No author published through this route is adequately vetted, can recoup their investment, nor will their book sell in any numbers.

That said, new avenues in independent publishing (e-publishing on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords with no-minimum-purchase, print-on-demand options for paperback copies) have opened up which are NOT the same sort of thing at all. So I went to the RWA site, copied out their criteria, added my own observations, and sent it off. Here is that email:

From: Kristin Tualla
Sent: Thursday, June 03, 2010 7:08 PM
Subject: Question about Vanity Presses & PAN

My question specifically targets CreateSpace, Kindle, Smashwords & Nook. Here is what the RWA website says about qualifying for Pan (Published Authors Network) with my questions/comments in CAPS:

Eligible Novel: A work of Romance Fiction of at least 40,000 words (as determined by computer word count) that is offered for sale in a readable or audio format to the general public by a publisher, for which the author receives payment as stipulated in a written contract from a publisher WOULDN’T THIS BE THE ROYALTY AGREEMENT?

and for which the author does not participate in the costs of production in any manner including but not limited to publisher assessment of a fee or other costs for editing, preparation, and/or distribution. NONE OF THE PUBLISHERS I LISTED CHARGES THE AUTHOR ANY FEES TO PUBLISH THEIR MANUSCRIPTS. ZERO. ZIP. NADA.

A novel does not qualify if the publisher withholds or seeks full or partial payment or reimbursement of publication or distribution costs before paying royalties including payment of paper, printing, binding, production, sales or marketing costs. NONE OF THE PUBLISHERS LISTED CHARGE ANY FEES, NOR DO THEY WITHHOLD PAYMENT. IN FACT, THEY PAY FASTER THAN TRADITIONAL PUBLISHERS DO, AND SALES NUMBERS ARE IMMEDIATELY AVAILABLE TO THE AUTHOR AT ANY TIME.

The work must not be exclusively promoted and/or sold by the author or have distribution that is primarily directed toward sales to the author, his/her relatives and/or associates. MY NON-FICTION CRAFT BOOK HAS SOLD 99% TO COMPLETE STRANGERS AND I EXPECT MY NOVEL TO DO THE SAME. THE BOOK IS PROMOTED ON MULTIPLE WEBSITES. THE PAPERBACK IS ON SALE IN INDEPENDENT BOOKSTORES, AMAZON.COM AND B&N.COM, AND THE E-BOOK IS ON THE PUBLISHER SITES LISTED ABOVE, PLUS GOODNIGHT PUBLISHING AS THE FIRST OFFERING FROM THIS LABEL.

So, can authors qualify for PAN using these publishers if they make $1000.00 in royalties a 12-month period? It seems to me that they should be able to, based on the criteria listed. Thank you for your time!

Their prompt and encouraging reply:

From: Carol Ritter
Sent: Friday, June 04, 2010 9:26 AM
Subject: Re: Question about Vanity Presses & PAN

Hi Kris,
Your email sent to RWA’s info@ email address was forwarded to me. Staff does not create policy, we merely follow the policies approved by RWA’s Board of Directors.  I will forward your email to RWA’s BoD today so that they may discuss your questions regarding Eligible Novel, Vanity Presses and PAN membership. Their next scheduled meeting is on July 26, 2010.
(Kris says: this meeting will be held at RWA’s Annual National Conference.)

Sincerely,
Carol Ritter
Professional Relations Manager
Romance Writers of America

And my reply to her, sent today:

Thank you, Carol!

There are – admittedly – some horrible presses that feed on the uneducated and charge authors $500-$4500 to “publish” them. These predatory Vanity Presses must remain excluded in the category created for them by RWA.

But with the rise of Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords (with CreateSpace or Lulu as the printer of POD paper copies) where the author is not charged any fees, publishing has shifted yet again. If an author uploads a manuscript – and makes $1000 or more in a year with royalties – it would seem that they should be considered legitimately published by RWA’s standards. After all, the public considers them published, and has spoken with their wallet.

I await the decision with an active blog’s worth of readers behind me. We are all curious as to what the ruling will be!

~~~~

So, readers, I will give you the response as soon as I received it. If you don’t already subscribe to this blog, please do so  – you don’t want to miss it!

The Death of Traditional Publishers? Part 6: The WYSIWYG Conundrum a.k.a The Solid Cloud by Richard Adin

We’ve had this discussion about the value and importance of professional copyediting but it seems that it’s a topic that just won’t die in the eBook Age. As I have noted before, too many authors believe that they are capable of doing everything themselves while producing a superior product. I admit that out of 1 million authors (in 2009, more than 1 million books were published) there are a handful who can do it all themselves and even do a very credible, if not superb, job — but it is only a handful.

Like writing, editing is a developed skill. That is, experience brings a higher level of editing quality — just as an author’s second novel is often better written than the first as the author’s experience grows. There is a significant level-of-quality difference between a well-experienced professional editor’s skill set and a nonprofessional editor’s skill set.

When we look at a sentence, we see what we expect. When we look at thick clouds, they look solid enough to walk on (do you remember being a child and talking about how someday you were going to walk among and on the clouds?), but as we know, our expectation that they can support us is a false expectation.

BUT, what we see is not what we get — the WYSIWYG conundrum!

The same is true of words on paper (or computer screen). We often see what we expect, not what is really there. If we always saw only what was really there, we could turn out perfect manuscripts every time. But the truth is that if you hand a manuscript to 5 different people, each of the 5 will find something that the other 4 missed.

Think about eyewitness identification. This is a field that has been explored by scientists for decades and the conclusion hasn’t changed: eyewitness identification is one of the least-reliable forms of evidence because the eyewitness has certain expectations that unconsciously get fulfilled, even if those expectations deviate from the facts. (If you haven’t watched it recently, I highly recommend Twelve Angry Men with an all-star cast led by Henry Fonda.)

Professional editors provide a dispassionate look at an author’s work. They provide a skilled, experienced eye that is trained to find the kinds of errors that the author, who is intimately familiar with the manuscript, will miss. A good author lives with his or her manuscript for months, lives with the characters, and lives with the plot. The author knows how the heroine spells her name and whether or not she is left-handed, the color of her eyes, and all the other important details. Consequently, it’s not unusual for an author who is self-editing to miss the misplaced “r” in Matra because the author expects to see Marta. We have trained ourselves to see it as it should be.

It is this role that the professional editor, the “indifferent” or “dispassionate” set of eyes, fills. The professional editor can stand back — aloof — from what the author has lived with and can note the misspelled or changed name, that in 20 other instances the heroine was left-handed but now is right-handed, the sentence construction that the author understands but the reader doesn’t. If nothing else, this last item can be the most valuable service the professional editor provides an author — making sure that the story, the plot, the characters can be followed by the reader.

Authors tend to forget that most readers read a novel once and then never look at it again. Novels are intended to entertain, which means non-intense reading. The reader doesn’t want to have to spend time trying to follow the storyline and certainly does not want to study the text to make it understandable.

But the author rarely is capable of standing in the reader’s shoes. The author knows where it should be going and expects it to go there; the reader doesn’t know, doesn’t have the intimate knowledge needed to draw everything together in some logical fashion. The author’s job is to draw it all together for the reader, but if the author can’t stand in the reader’s shoes, the author can’t honestly judge how well he or she has accomplished that task. The professional editor can, because the professional editor is disinterested; there is a difference between one’s passion and one’s job that enables one to stand back and look objectively at one’s job but with bias at one’s passion.

Professional editors bring many skills that are complementary to the author’s skills to the table. These skills cannot be brought to bear on the project by the author because the author cannot separate him- or herself from his or her writing. The author suffers from the WYSIWYG conundrum: the author sees what the author expects to see.

The authors who recognize this conundrum and who take steps to have their work professionally edited are the authors who enhance both their readers’ enjoyment and their likelihood of success in an overcrowded marketplace.

Success is much more than the number of downloads of free or 99¢ eBooks, especially when there is no way to know how many of those downloads actually were read or well thought of. Instead, success is having readers clamor for your books, talk about your books, express a willingness to pay a higher price for your books — all things that a professional editorial eye can help an author achieve by preventing the kinds of mistakes that turn readers away.

~~~

Rich Adin is a professional editor and the owner of Freelance Editorial Services, which provides editorial and production services to authors and publishers. He also authors a blog at An American Editor. The above article was written specially for Kris Tualla’s Author & Writing Blog and is printed here with permission.

The Death of Traditional Publishers? Part 5: The Game Changer – by Robert W. Walker, continued.

Recently Ellen DeGeneres gave away free Kindle readers to her entire audience for their summer reading. Not long before that, Kindle sales spiked for Mother’s Day. And prior to that, Easter. And prior to that a whopping three million in sales for Christmas! This is a huge audience for writers, and it is growing every day.

Meanwhile USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, and The Huffington Post, along with every major news outlet (and Ellen DeGeneres!) are all talking about The Kindle Revolution and the looming demise of traditional publishing as we know it. However, traditional publishers move like glaciers when it comes to a new idea, and they have scoffed at eBook publishing and denigrated it for over thirty years. But with the advent of the state-of-the-art Kindle reader, “the times they are a-changing.”

In this month alone—and there are seven more days in the month—I have sold seven hundred books from my various series on Kindle.  In all my thirty years in traditional publishing with paper books, I never sold these kinds of numbers in one month out of brick-and-mortar stores. Why not?

Paper publishers limit their advertising dollars to one percent of one percent of their writers. They use those dollars to make mega-stars of celebrity authors like Sarah Palin, as well as promote others who correctly have earned their status, but no longer need the promotion: Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Janet Evanovich, Nora Roberts, and more. But where one King is crowned and given huge budgets for advertising, 1500 other authors are “promoted” as I was—put quietly on the shelf in the hope someone finds them.

With my Kindle books I have no one to blame but myself if they fail. I write the copy and the book description. I write the ads. I do the PR and the marketing. Decide on title, size of my name on the cover, the cover art, the book design, price (so important now!), and publication date.

In the past, when a book died on the shelf, it was my numbers that failed—despite the fact all of the above was done by the publisher. I had virtually no input on the committee decisions made about my books, but I was ultimately the one “at fault” in the end if my sales were punk. But now, I am responsible for it all—and I accept that responsibility gladly.

I began publishing Kindle titles at the urging of my best friend, Joe Konrath who has blogged extensively on the NEW economics created for both authors and readers since the advent of Kindle publishing. Joe’s blog—A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing—is filled with great information on this subject. (Kris says: I have asked Joe to chime in here. Still hoping!)

Any aspiring author interested in more information should look into:

Some other important observations:

  1. My wife, Miranda Phillips Walker has her suspense novel, The Well-Meaning Killer, on Kindle. And as an RN, she has published a seven-page information-filled tale about how to kick migraine headaches! Authors can publish eBooks of any length, because with eBooks there is no page limit or requirement!
  2. Book descriptions are extremely important to sales. They should be interesting and exciting, enticing prospective readers to buy. They should fill in the traditional Five W’s – who, what, where, when, & why. An author’s blurb must be the best short story they’ve ever written!
  3. High quality cover art is critical. My son is a graphic artist; his company is http://www.srwalkerdesigns.com For a sample of his work go to Amazon.com and search for Robert W. Walker to see 44 examples! (Kris says: Jimmy Thomas is a romance novel cover model with a brilliant business plan. More on him and other new entrepreneurs later – I promise!)
  4. Publishing on Kindle is free.
  5. Before you publish, get a good, professional editor (see below) to vet the manuscript you wish to publish. There are many freelance editors available online. I put nothing on Kindle that has not first been heavily edited!

Robert W. Walker — Download 20 pages of Children of Salem FREE at: www.robertwalkerbooks.com

Kris says: Enjoy your Memorial Day holiday! On June 3rd I’ll post an article by Richard Adin – author of “An American Editor” blog – about the importance of professional editing. See you then!


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