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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Self-Publishing, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. How will you publish your work in progress? The results!

With the obvious caveats that this isn't scientific, different audiences, etc., here are the results! How are we planning to publish our work in progress? Let's find out.

After very similar results in 2013...


And last year...


We have a bit of a change this year! The number of people planning to self-publish and not even considering traditional has risen from 10% to 15%:


Though the people who are still planning to go traditional first is still roughly the same.

What do you make of these results? Will these approaches change over time or have people solidified into traditional and self-publishing camps?

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2. How do you plan to publish your work in progress?

Is self-publishing on the ascent? Do people still want the imprimatur of a publisher?

Let's find out. This is the third annual poll. How do you plan to publish your work in progress? Are you a die-hard traditional or self-publisher? Will you consider one or the other depending on circumstances?

Poll below. Please click here if you are reading via e-mail or a feed reader.


Create your own user feedback survey

Art: Richard March Hoe's printing press from History of the Processes of Manufacture by A.H. Jocelyn

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3. The Weekend Writer: New Writers, Please Look Before You Publish

I began the Weekend Writer project a little over two years ago, because I was upset when a friend from high school was being pressured by a salesperson from some kind of pay-to-publish company. Last month in my local newspaper, I read about someone who had just published her first book. She had considered self-publishing, she said, but thought it was too expensive. Then she found a traditional publisher interested in her subject.

I had never heard of this publisher, but I'm not queen of the publishing world. I haven't heard of everybody. So I googled the name. Guess what? It was a pay-to-publish company. There's nothing wrong with that. Some self-published writers do use them. The issue here is that according to the interview this woman gave to the paper, she didn't know. She thought this company was a traditional publisher. A librarian friend who had seen the article said, "Isn't she going to get a bill at some point?"

What makes this story more disturbing is that when I googled the company name, the fourth site that came up was one at which writers who had paid the company to publish for them were reporting problems they'd had. We're talking a pay-to publish company with unhappy customers.

Don't Rush To Publish


You hear the expression "rush to publish" now in relation to self-publishing authors who want to get their book out right away. Speaking from experience, I can say that preparing a manuscript for publication can be nearly as much work as creating it in the first place. Writers need to learn nearly as much about publishing these days as they need to learn about writing. The difference between traditional vs. self-publishing seems as if it should be the very minimum writers should know. However, I've heard of other authors being asked questions by self-publishing authors that indicated that those particular self-publishers didn't have even a basic understanding of what traditional publishers do.

Wouldn't you know it, I have covered this issue here before: The Difference Between Traditional Publishing And Self-Publishing. If you are a new writer beginning to think about publishing, please read it.

But Let's Add To The Confusion


The line between traditional and self-publishing has become wobbly because some major traditional publishers have added self-publishing services, and many of them are all using the same company to provide those services. Check out Author Solutions and Friends: The Inside Story by David Gaughran at Let's Get Digital.

The bottom line here, folks, is that writers who plan/hope to publish need to educate themselves about publishing.

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4. So you want to write a children's book?

As a publisher, I subscribe to a lot of book publishing and marketing newsletters. Yesterday, I received the following email from two of those newsletters:

Ever wanted to write a children’s book?
If so, publishing your work as an e-book on Amazon’s Kindle platform is a great way to go – and now is a great time to get started.
The children's e-book market is up 475% this year alone, which makes it one of the fastest-growing book categories on Amazon.
Plus, once you know a simple formula, children’s books are one of the easiest types of books to write.
To discover how to get started writing and publishing your own children’s e-books, join Steve Harrison for a free webinar this Wednesday, April 1. (link redacted)
Steve will be interviewing an author who wrote a silly little 26-page Kindle children’s book in less than seven days, which, more than two years later, still produces more than $1,000 in royalties each month!
The idea that anyone can write a children's book using a "simple formula" is offensive and misleading. Writing a good children's book is not easy, it's hard! It takes dedication, hard work and a willingness to educate yourself about children's writing.

A common misconception is that writing for children is easy, because the writing in children's books appears simple. But that simplicity is deceptive; it takes skill and experience to know how to write for children in a way that's appealing without talking down to them. Writing good children's books is harder than writing good adult books. That book your children beg you to read every night? It was probably the result of many rounds of edits trying to get exactly the right words and the right tone. Of course, good adult writers do the same thing, but they don't have to agonize over every word, every sentence the way children's writers do.

Simplicity is hard! Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, is one of the most well-known and beloved children’s writers. The seemingly simple rhyming text of his stories has fooled many writers into thinking that it’s easy to write such books, but Geisel labored over each book, writing and rewriting, sometimes for a year or more.

Encouraging people to write a "silly little" children's book using a "simple formula" does no one a service, least of all the writers themselves. The marketing copy above leads people to believe that fame and riches are just around the corner and easy to achieve, when in reality nothing could be further from the truth. There are thousands of new children's books published every year, probably even more than that when you count all the self-published books. Many of those will languish in obscurity, many others will sell a decent number of copies and sit solidly midlist, and very few will sell a large number of copies. I personally know many, many children's authors, both traditionally published and self-published, and very few are getting rich. (Actually, I don't think any of my author friends are rich. If you are, let's talk!)

If you want to write a children's book, great! I admire anyone who pours their heart, soul, time, and effort into writing a book. But don't do it in expectation of making money. Yes, you might get lucky like the author mentioned in the ad above, but that's the exception, not the rule, and unless you are very, very lucky you won't achieve that. There is no magic formula that guarantees success - believe me, if there were, the big publishers would be using it! If you're going to write for children, do it for love, not for money. For most authors I know, the letters they receive from children mean much more than the royalty check. There's nothing wrong with wanting to make money from your writing, but if you go into it with that as your primary goal, there's a good chance that you're in for disappointment.

As a book blogger and Cybils Awards organizer/judge, I'm active in the children's book blogging community. Self-published books have developed a bad reputation in the community, and many bloggers now have review policies that exclude self- or indie published books. For years, I've advocated for indie publishing among my peers. Authors self-publish for many reasons, and self-publishing by itself is not an indicator of the level of quality. Self-publishing gives a voice to those who are disenfranchised by the traditional publishing industry. As one of the leaders of the Cybils Awards, I continually advocate to keep self-published books eligible and judged fairly and impartially. There are excellent self-published books, and a few have even been finalists or winners in the Cybils Awards.

But I sometimes feel that advocating for self-publishing is an uphill battle, when for every excellent book there are hundreds of others that are poorly done. People like Steve Harrison are making the situation worse by encouraging people to take the easy road, to produce more dreck that will further drag down the reputation of self-publishing. Not only that, but it misleads authors to believe that there is an easy road to success. There is no easy road that guarantees success! You might get lucky, but then, someone wins the Publishers Clearing House, too.

If you want to write a children's book, go for it! But rather than looking for easy formulas, take the time to learn what makes a good children's book. To start with, read a great many children's books. (If you have children, this isn't hard!) Read them critically, with an eye to what works well and what doesn't. (I've learned so much about children's books from nearly ten years of reviewing them for the blog, and nine years of being a Cybils judge). Read books about writing children's books. Take classes from reputable institutions or teachers. Join the Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and your regional chapter of it. Attend writing conferences. Join or form a critique group. Check out any potential agents, publishers, promotional companies, contests, and more on the excellent Preditors and Editors.

One of my good friends, Anne Boles Levy, has her first book coming out in August, a YA fantasy published by independent publisher Sky Pony Press. For Anne, it's been at least a fifteen year journey: writing, editing, revising, and submitting the book. Anne works regularly with a critique group that includes multiple award-winning authors; I believe that the group has been working together since before any of them were published. During that fifteen years, in addition to writing Anne also invested a lot of time into things that helped her to be known in the children's book community: blogging, attending conferences, and even founding a children's book award. None of that guarantees any good reviews, of course, but it does mean that Anne has a better than average chance of getting bloggers to take a look at it. I haven't yet seen the book (although I can't wait!) but I assume that all the work she put into writing it has paid off in the form of an excellent book.

Now, I'm not saying that everyone needs to invest fifteen years. That's a lot of time to wait to achieve your dreams. But I am saying that true success does not come overnight in most cases, and if you want to succeed, you need dedication, perseverance, hard work, and a willingness to learn.

Don’t give in to the siren call of get-rich-quick schemes. Instead, invest your time and money in learning the craft and trade of children’s writing and publishing.

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5. Should you self-publish or traditionally publish? 7 questions to ask yourself


To self-publish or traditionally publish. That is the question.

Whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of agents and publishers or to take arms against a sea of books on Amazon, and by being among them, rise above? To die, to sleep (oh wait you won't), to sleep perchance to dream of fame and riches... aye there's the rub.

Ahem. Sorry.

So. You have yourself a book. Should you just go ahead and self-publish and see how it does? Should you try your luck with agents and publishers? Should you try agents and publishers first and then self-publish if that doesn't work?

Having traditionally published the Jacob Wonderbar series and self-published How to Write a Novel, I've seen both sides of the publishing world.

Which way should you go? Here are seven questions to ask yourself:

1) Is your book a niche/passion project or does it have broad, national appeal?

In order to attract a traditional publisher, especially one of the major ones, you're going to need to have a book that fits squarely into an established genre, is of appropriate length, and has mass commercial appeal.

Be honest with yourself. Is your book something that has broad, national appeal or is a niche? Is it a potential bestseller or something you just wrote to, say, have your family history recorded for posterity?

If it's hyper-specialized you might want to either try for a similarly specialized publisher, or just go ahead and self-publish. And if it's a passion project without commercial potential you're probably best-served going straight to self-publishing.

2) How much control do you want over the publishing process?

If you go the traditional route, you'll have an agent who will likely want you to edit your work before submission. You will (hopefully) have a publisher who will want you to revise your work. You won't have approval over your cover, and you'll probably only have mutual consent on your book title, meaning if your publisher doesn't like it you'll have to think of a new one that you both can agree upon. You'll probably have limited control over how and where your book is marketed.

Traditional publishing is a group process and you absolutely cede some control over your book. This can be a good thing, chances are you're dealing with experienced people within the publishing industry who are experts in their fields, but you may be frustrated at times with decisions you don't agree with.

Meanwhile, with self-publishing, everything is up to you. Edits, cover, title, fonts, marketing, whether or not you want to include that stream of conscious sequence about the philosophical implications of of cotton candy... all your choice.

3) How much does the validation of traditional publishing matter to you?

The stigma surrounding self-publishing has largely dissipated, but it's not gone entirely.

And there's still something gratifying about doing something as hugely difficult as making it through the traditional publishing process, having your work validated by professionals, and being paid for your efforts. The names Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster... they still matter to many people.

Success is success, and in the end it's the readers who are the ultimate validators. Do you want the validation that comes with traditional publishing? Or are you cool going straight to readers?

4) How important is it for your book to be in bookstores and libraries?

While you might be able to strike up some individual relationships with local bookstores and libraries as a self-published author, the surest route to bookstores and libraries is through traditional publishers, who have wide distribution.

Do you care about being in bookstores? Are you writing in a genre, like books for children, where libraries are super-important? If so, you might want to pursue traditional publication.

5) How capable are you at self-promotion?

There's no guarantee that a publisher is going to adequately promote your book, but they'll at least give you a bit of a boost at bare minimum.

If you self-publish, you're entirely on your own. You don't necessarily have to be a social media maven or a celebrity in order to give your book the boost necessary to generate crucial word of mouth, but you're going to have to do something.

6) Can you afford to invest money in your book?

Say what you will about traditional publishing, but one great thing about it is that it is not very cost prohibitive. You might incur some postage sending your manuscript around or if you choose to pay an editor before pursuing publication, but agents don't charge you until they get commission for selling your book, and publishers pay you.

Self-publishing similarly doesn't have to be hugely cost-prohibitive, but there are a lot of tasks involved in self-publishing, such as generating a cover, editing, copyediting, formatting, self-promotion, that you're either going to have to spend the time to do yourself or pay someone to do for you.

Depending on how much time you have to spend and your level of expertise, you may end up spending a thousand dollars or two to effectively self-publish. Can you afford that? (And you shouldn't necessarily assume you're going to get it back).

7) How patient are you?

Choosing traditional or self-publishing isn't necessarily an either/or decision. You can absolutely decide to pursue traditional publishing first and fall back on self-publishing if you so desire.

But even in the best case scenario, traditional publishing can take forever. It can take a year or more to query agents, and then a year or more to find an editor when you're on submission to publishers, and then even if you get a book deal it can be a year or two after that before your book comes out. It can very easily add up to two or three years or more after you finish your manuscript.

Meanwhile, when I finished How to Write a Novel, it was up for sale a few days later. Self-publishing is practically instantaneous.

Are you the patient type? Do you want to cut to the chase? That can perhaps be the most important factor of all.


How did you decide whether to pursue traditional publishing or self-publishing? Did I miss anything?

Art: Le tour de la France par deux enfants by G. Bruno

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6. Warren Adler Discusses the Future of Publishing

Warren Adler, author of the bestselling novel and film The War of the Roses, has been self-publishing through his imprint Stonehouse Productions for years and has found it quite successful.

He is currently developing the Hollywood sequel to The War of the RosesThe War of the Roses: The Children, along with other projects including: Capitol Crimes, a television series based on Adler’s Fiona Fitzgerald mystery novels, as well as a feature film based on Adler and James Humes’ WWII thriller, Target Churchill, in association with Myles Nestel and Lisa Wilson of The Solution Entertainment Group.

GalleyCat caught up with Adler to discuss how publishing has been evolving and where it is going.

GC: How has self-publishing evolved?
WA: The Internet has opened up an arena in which people’s latent desire to be noticed, and to communicate their thoughts, opinions and alleged talents to others, has spawned an explosion of creative expression of epic proportions.

Publishing technology led by Amazon has blasted open those gates, and any writer who can put words on a screen can, with little effort and expense, offer a book for publication, joining an endless cyber shelf along with every popular and classical author on the planet.

Some few in various categories have found a market for their efforts. The overwhelming majority has not, except for sales to devoted friends and relatives. For some, this is satisfaction enough. For those who have fantasized of achieving instant fame and fortune, it has been an exercise in disappointment and frustration. Nevertheless, like the impossible odds of winning the lottery, a very few have exceeded beyond their wildest dreams, and have encouraged more and more to enter the fray.

GC: Is the market-oversaturated?

WA: As long as there are no limits on the offerings, and there is infinite cyberspace to accommodate anyone who chooses to create a book, the market will expand exponentially. Indeed, no eBook will ever go out of print and the numbers will continue upward.

Amazon is clearly able to profitably absorb the flow, and as others like Apple, Kobo, and perhaps Nook expand their capacity, the market will proliferate endlessly. Screening attempts, meaning subjectively picking the wheat from the chaff, which was once exclusively the work of selected print publications and reviewers is now in the hands of a vast array of self-appointed recommenders and critics who have collectively become \"the screeners.\" They offer milliseconds of opinion plucked from the infinite swamp of review offerings.

GC: What do you think of Amazon reviews?
WA: There is the phenomenon of the starred review, which has become, despite being dubious, largely an unreliable and non-transparent source, a kind of pop standard critique of a book’s worth. I often wonder how the Bible might score on this standard. \"A bit wordy, too many names and undefined characters and plot lines.\" One star.

The opposite of infinite is finite. Need I discuss the fact that the readers of books are finite and, by most accounts, shrinking.

GC: How can authors get noticed in this landscape?

WA: A cottage industry has grown up around the premise of authors getting noticed, all of which advocate the same basic ideas. Engage with potential readers, blog frequently, create a fan base, stay in touch, seek speaking engagements, attempt to get into readers clubs, send press releases, engage professionals for PR and advertising, try for television and radio interviews, send postcards, do videos and podcasts, find creative ways to keep your name out there. These ideas work for notoriety, although sales are never guaranteed.

Of course, for many the grand prize is to get your book adapted for television and film, the longest shot of all. If the adaptation is an enduring hit, then it will be very helpful to book sales. If it is a flop, it won’t be much help. Besides, if you’re lucky enough to get a production, the chances are that it will happen long after your book is launched – this has certainly been my own experience.
The secret to all this advice is consistency and repetition, requiring a serious commitment of time, effort, and money.

GC: What do you expect in the future of book publishing?

WA: With shelf space diminishing in brick and mortar stores, and infinite cyber book \"shelves\" proliferating with endless books in all categories, a number of scenarios suggest themselves:

1. Random House or a competing company, in self-defense, could buy up Barnes and Noble’s stores and other chains still existent around the world and set up their own combination of brick and mortar and cyber stores.

2. Amazon could buy Barnes and Noble to complement its already formidable hold on the market.

3. Amazon could set up its own bricks-and-mortar chains and create some creative ways to use its POD operation in some shelving mechanism yet to be developed.

4. Authors with some recognition and respectable output in the past and with some subjective compatibility will form their own publishing companies as individuals or collectives and pool their resources in an effort to market their work, not only in books, but in all media worldwide.

Authors are particularly at risk in this new environment and, as one of that tough and irascible breed, I wish I could offer a comforting look into the future. Writing is our calling. No matter how conditions change in the marketplace we will soldier on no matter what.

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7. Novel vs. Illustrated Children's book - a world apart

When I set out on this new publishing adventure, I didn't realize it was going to be such a different adventure.  Putting together and publishing an illustrated children's story is a very different experience than publishing a coming-of-age novel.  In fact, one has very little to do with the other.  Let me count the ways:


  1. With a novel, you paint a picture with words.  Lots of words.  With an illustrated children's book, you paint a picture with words, but it also needs real pictures.  And because I am by no means an artist, I can only hope that the illustrator sees what I see (or sees better than I see).  Finding the right artist is of the utmost importance.  And because the story is under 600 words instead of 90,000 words, every word is heavily weighted.  Add to this the fact that the text in this case rhymes… and that some words have no rhyming friends, this is HARD!  And a great challenge.  
  2. There are lots of options for self-publishing a novel.  Createspace. Lulu.  Ingram Sparks.  The list goes on.  When it comes to self-publishing a full-cover book, the list is significantly shorter: Ingram Sparks.  That's one company.  One option, at least in the POD (print-on-demand) market.  Because I live in Germany, it's really my only option.  I can't order 5,000 copies of the book from an offset printer and store them in my garage and offer people autographed copies and send them out when they're ordered and go around to bookstores begging them to carry my book.  No, I will have to rely on the worldwide distribution and shipping options offered by Ingram Sparks.  Captive customer I am.
  3. Ingram Sparks is significantly less user-friendly than Createspace, and it's significantly more complicated to get an illustrated book print ready.  The IS manual for preparing the PDFs is overwhelming.  Welcome, Elance.  It is there that I hope to find someone who has done this before and who will do this for me for a reasonable price.  If they manage the first version (English) correctly, they will get the job for all the other versions.  Incentive for them to do a great job, I hope!  But I'm really nervous about this part.  
  4. Ingram Sparks is slower than Createspace.  I will actually have to wait a few weeks for the print version once they have everything.  Which is still significantly less time than I would have to wait if this were being published by a traditional publisher.
  5. It costs a heck of a lot more to self-publish a full-color book.  Thus the Kickstarter campaign.
  6. If this book is going to be available for tablets, I'll also need someone to convert it to ePub.  Some things are really beyond my capabilities. 
  7. I'm used to doing things myself.  Instead of being a one-woman show, from the writing to the cover art to the formatting and technical details, I now need a whole team:
    1. Me, writer and project manager
    2. Solongo Drini, illustrator
    3. Translators (who knows how many there will be?)
    4. Layout person from Elance
    5. And let's not forget my editor-support team-inspiration, my husband :)  He was there for me with the novel, too, so I guess I was actually not a one-woman show, but a one-couple show.  Because yeah, I quilled the cover, but he took the pictures, fixed the lighting, moved things around… basically made it all look good. Because people do judge a book by its cover.

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8. A new project!


So…. Things slowed down in the writing department.  I did write a second novel, and have been trying to shop it to agents. There has been strong interest, but still no bite.  I haven't given up, but I'm taking a break. The constant rejections are tough to take.  

Quite a few years ago, I wrote a children's book about the winter solstice.  I really liked the book - it also had some strong interest when I shopped it to agents, but again, no bite.  It's in prose, which is a little bit of a hard sell right now.  One publisher I applied to directly loved it, but they were worried that since it took place in Central Asia, they weren't going to be able to find an illustrator who would make accurate depictions of the people and environment.  I so went into Internetland and found one.  And ever since then, I cannot imagine this story without envisioning her artwork.  

But it costs a lot of money to pay an illustrator.  


But I couldn't stop thinking about it.

When I ran the idea past Levent, my sounding board and best advisor, he suggested that I run a Kickstarter campaign to fund self publication and illustrations.  Best. Idea. Ever.  A Kickstarter campaign will both help me gather some financial support and help me publicize the book.  Kickstarter takes 8-10% of the money you gather, but in return you get great publicity and help in small amounts from friends, family, and also strangers.  Above a certain donation amount, funders will also receive a copy of the book (or two, or three, depending on how much they donate).

After this brilliant idea was planted in my head, I had to ask the illustrator if she'd be interested in working with me on this.  She had a baby a couple of months ago, so I anticipated rejection and also put up a job offer in Elance to see what other illustrators were out there and what they would charge.  There are some awesome - and awful - illustrators out there.  BUT my first choice illustrator (I won't mention her name yet) accepted the project, so it's a go!!!

I'm working on final revisions of the text, and we're working together to design the cover so that we can begin the campaign.  

I plan to get the book reviewed and also promoted by Kirkus this time around, and really do a promotion blitz.  I'll also apply for prizes and awards.  There are so many out there, and I have to believe that this book will stand a chance.  Believe it or not, lots of awards go unawarded because they don't get applications.  

This book is not going to make me rich.  Rich authors are few and far between (much to Levent's chagrin).  But I really do believe that my story combined with the amazing illustrations (they will be amazing, trust me) will be read to children at bedtime in the winter, when the days are dark and short, and the nights are darker and long.  I'll keep you all posted on the progress!

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9. Andy Runton’s Owly Books is going self published

2636017 owly and friends reading Andy Runtons Owly Books is going self published
When IDW acquired Top Shelf a few weeks ago, there was much talk about creators like Alan Moore staying around, but Top Shelf’s Chris Staros made it clear that he had discussed the move in advance with his top creators.

One much liked book that Top Shelf published for about a decade is Andy Runton’s Owly series, a steady seller that helped establish kids content in the indy world long before it was fashionable. However, as noted by Johanna Draper Carlson, Runton tweeted that he would be self-publishing Owly going forward.

I reached out to Runton for more information and he explained that this had aboslutely nothing to do with the IDW deal. His contract with Top Shelf actually ran out last year, and he had made plans to self publisher starting then. “I’ve been thinking about self publishing for a long time and have gotten some great advice from Terry and Robyn Moore,” he told The Beat. However, a series of personal setbacks put this on hold for all of 2014, and he has no firm publishing lans yet. Hopefully, we’ll see Owly coming back in 2015, and Runton back on top form.

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10. Try, Try Again

So this week I sent out six new agent queries. I'll do more next week; it takes a lot of time to explore agents and pick those who you think will connect with your writing. I feel good about it, even though statistically speaking I likely won't end up with any of them as my agent. I am pretty sure I'm not the only one who gets frustrated by this merry-go-round of submissions and rejections. Why do we keep doing it?

I'll tell you why I keep doing it. I am not interested in self publishing. I have nothing against it, per se. It gains more and more credibility every year as a viable path. But I want to write. I don't want to negotiate contracts, pay for my books to be printed, market all by myself. I just want to write my books. So I keep doing it. (I will say that most of the self-pubbed books I've read have not been of the same caliber as traditionally pubbed books. This isn't to say it's not possible, but traditional publishers have teams of people who work on your book. It's bound to improve the quality of the thing. I should also add that I edit for self-publishing authors, and I think those who hire an editor end up with a much better book.)

I have several friends who were almost at the end of their proverbial ropes when they finally signed with an agent and sold one or more books to traditional publishers. Their stories lift my spirits when I want to give up.

Here are a few of things I've learned over my many long years of writing, submitting, being rejected, and trying again.

1. If the same work keeps getting rejected, maybe it's time to set it aside and work on something new. I know for a fact that each book I write is better than the last. And every time, I think this one is it, until it's not. Each one teaches me something I didn't understand before. So don't put all your eggs in that one basket.

2. I am confident that I am a good writer. Maybe even a great writer. I know this because I go to a lot of workshops, conferences, retreats, and critique groups with professionals, and they tell me this. Also because I've been practicing for a very long time. Also because I read by the ton, and I know what's out there. Also, because I have no ego left, so I can assess my own writing in a fairly unbiased way.

3. It's a good thing that some of the agents and editors I've submitted to have rejected me. As mentioned, I been in this rodeo quite a long time, and I've seen the big stall that can happen to a writer with an agent who isn't right for them. Inevitably, that partnership ends, and one has to start all over. As I have gotten to know some of the agents I once thought would be perfect for me, I cry happy tears that they didn't sign me.

4. Agents are just people. Very fallible people. Very nice people. Professional people. But there is nothing to be afraid of. I have given up the role of sweet little author who needs the help of an agent (if that ever was me), and I have started being completely myself when I query and submit. I tell people straight out what I want, what I'm willing to do, and what my vision for a particular book is. I am too old to tiptoe around, hoping my good behavior will get me in the door. You know that saying about well behaved women rarely making history? That.

5. Even when nothing happens, something is happening. I spent the last year hoping to nail down a particular agent. She asked for fulls of two manuscripts, read them, sent back copious editorial notes. I spent two months revising one manuscript per her notes, resubmitted at her request, and waited. For six months. Nothing. All my writing friends said to move on, which I am doing. But that was a good experience, because it gave me more confidence, revision notes to work with, and some good revisions came out of it.

6. Never, ever sit around and wait for that reply. Be working on new things and revising old things and researching and everything else. It gives me so much energy to be working on the next, new, shiny manuscript that I can forget there is ever one making the rounds out there. It keeps me from obsessing or worrying. It keeps me moving forward and writing better books.

I wish us all the best luck this year in achieving our writing and publishing dreams.




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11. 18 Months of Indie Publishing


MERRY CHRISTMAS!

PB&J: Picture Books and All That Jazz: A Highlights Foundation Workshop

Join Leslie Helakoski and Darcy Pattison in Honesdale PA for a spring workshop, April 23-26, 2015. It's a great Christmas present to yourself or a writer friend! Full info here.
COMMENTS FROM THE 2014 WORKSHOP:
  • "This conference was great! A perfect mix of learning and practicing our craft."Peggy Campbell-Rush, 2014 attendee, Washington, NJ
  • "Darcy and Leslie were extremely accessible for advice, critique and casual conversation."Perri Hogan, 2014 attendee, Syracuse,NY


About eighteen months ago, my writing career pivoted: I decided to commit to self-publishing my work. I’ve not talked about it much because I’ve been so busy being an author and publisher, but I’m going to take time to reflect on the experience and look toward the future.

WHY INDIE PUBLISH?

There are many reasons why I decided to go this direction but in the end, it’s a question of creativity. For many years, I’ve felt hobbled by the traditional publishing world because I can and do write a lot. Independent publishing offered me a chance to write and publish many titles in a short time period. It’s also offered me the possibility of creating a steady monthly income.

Setting Up an Indie Publishing Company

When I committed to funneling all of my work though my own publishing company, I had to make business choices.

What type of company? Self-proprietorship, C or S Corporation. Name of company?
Buy a domain, set up a website, open a business bank account, get a local business license, get a sales tax ID, etc. Don’t discount the business side of indie publishing; but don’t fear it, either. There’s lots of help for these business decisions. In the end, I set up MimsHouse.com — go take a look; I’m excited about this opportunity.

Then, to work! The first eighteen months have been about three things: production, distribution and accounting. I’m assuming that writing is always happening in the background, for it is, in fact, the foundation of everything else.

Accounting. I’m using QuickBooks and this is the hardest thing I do. I just keep plugging away at learning good business accounting and long for the day when I can afford an accountant.

Production. The first question to answer is formats. I decided to try every format possible: paperback, hardcover, eBooks. That sounds easy enough. Ha! It’s complicated. After 18 months, here’s my current configuration.

  1. Createspace.com paperback in two versions. One version is with my own ISBN and is for general distribution; a second version is with a Createspace ISBN and I only enable it for distribution to Baker and Taylor.
  2. LightningSource.com (NOT Lightning Spark which is the only section of the company currently open to newcomvers). I currently do paperback and hardcover books here.
  3. eBooks. OK, this is where it gets tricky because each platform wants a version for their proprietary platforms. Currently, you’ll find my ebooks on Kindle, iBook, Nook, Kobo and various educational publisher’s platforms.

File production for the print and ebooks varies depending on the type of book. Also, technology changes every six months or so, which means that each time I come back to produce files, I have to reevaluate previous production methods to see if they are still the best, are compatible with the current ebook and print standards, and are the most cost-effective.

  1. Novels that are mostly text-based or short chapter books with b/w drawings. I create the book in MSWord, making sure to be very strict on the style sheets. Word exports to print quality Adobe pdfs for printing on paper. I use Jutoh to convert these to ebooks.
  2. Color picture books are laid out in Adobe InDesign, which a access via a $20/month subscription; the October, 2014 update to InDesign has made export to ebooks simple. I mean VERY simple. I tried the mid-year release of Kindle Kid’s Book Creator program and found it easy to use; however, there are two main problems with it. First, it only creates the .mobi files for Kindle, and I still had to create epub files for other distributors; second, it creates a bloated file which means you have huge download costs from Kindle. At 70% royalty, they charge the publisher $0.15/MB download fee, which amounts to a “printing cost.” A file created with the Kindle Kid’s Book Creator program is easily 6-8 MB, or $0.90-$1.20 per download. You have two choices: charge a lot for the book or drop to the 35% royalty which doesn’t charge a download delivery fee.

    Examples:
    $2.99 at 70% payment, 8MB file
    $2.99 x 70% = $2.093 – $1.20 delivery fee = $0.893/book
    $2.99 at 35% payment
    $2.99 x 35% = $1.0465/book (NO delivery fees at this rate)

    InDesign, on the other hand, takes the same book and creates files of 3-4MB.
    $2.99 at 70%, 4MB file
    $2.99 x 70% = $2.093 – $0.60 delivery fee = $1.493/book

    My choices, then are to profit $0.89, $1.05, or $1.49 for each eBook priced at $2.99.

    InDesign’s smaller file sizes mean money in my pocket, AND flexibility in what I charge. I could drop prices to $1.99 for a sale and still make a profit of $0.79/book; it’s my choice.

Math. It runs the business and it affects production methods!

Illustrations. Another problem of production has been obtaining illustrations for my color picture books. Fortunately, the first couple books were done in a joint business arrangement with Kitty Harvill. Since then, I’ve had to find funds to pay illustrators. Behance.net has been a great place to find new illustrators. That is Adobe’s social media site for artists, where they post their portfolios. Ewa O’Neill’s debut books will be out in February; and Rich Davis, a local longtime friend and amazing illustrator, struck a deal for b/w line drawings for my short chapter series. So, I drew from friendships and from an artist’s social media site to find quality, exciting art. This has been one of the most creative and fun parts of the process, to work with some great talents to produce amazing books. I’ve learned a lot about being an art director and working with artists—it’s just fun.

GGG-ACXCover250x250


AudioBooks. Amazon’s ACX program is in its infancy, but it offers authors an entre into the audiobook world. By hooking you up with a group of narrators who will audition for your book, you have control of the process and can end up with some exiting audio books. It’s hard to say which is my favorites: I love the actress Paula Bodin’s reading of my novel, The Girl, the Gypsy, and the Gargoyle; she truly brings the story to life. Monica Clark-Robinson brings her acting skills to the production of Saucy and Bubba, which is especially exciting because she’s a local actress and author. Josiah Bildner knows how to crack a joke! His narration of the Aliens Inc, Series, Book 1: Kell, the Alien shows his genius in timing of comedy.

Distribution. The third piece of the puzzle for the last eighteen months has been distribution. This means I’ve had to think hard about where my books might sell. Who is my customer? Where does that customer already buy books? What price points do they want/need/like?

Because I mostly write children’s novels and picture books, eBooks haven’t been as big a factor (though, I think that is changing in interesting ways). My customers are parents, teachers, and school librarians. Teachers and school librarians buy from education distributors, rather than from the trade markets. They can and they do buy from Amazon, B&N and other online places, of course. But the bulk of their budget is spent at places that cater to their needs.

I’ve picked up distribution from Follett School Solutions, Mackin, Permabound, and Child’s Plus. The first three also have emerging eBook platforms which I think will become increasingly important. It means more production work because they want yet another format! It’s just a different type of pdf to export, but it means another step.

Pricing. Also, this sales channel brings some challenges in pricing. 1-to-1 pricing means a school building buys one ebook and has the rights to put it on one device only. 1-to-many pricing means a school building buy one book and has the right to put it on an unlimited number of devices.

Naturally, educators prefer the 1-to-many pricing structure; but this is so new that there’s no best-practices standards on how much extra to charge. You don’t want to leave money on the table; however, you want the pricing to be attractive.

I’m told that some publishers are asking 2x, 5x or even 15x the 1-to-1 price. But no one really knows what price structure will work. For a Newbery Award winning book, you could likely charge 20x—which in effect gives a full class set to a school building—and educators will gladly pay it. In other words, the popularity of a title, the likelihood of its use as a class set, and factors such as this should determine the 1-to-many pricing.

Also interesting is that the school pricing tends to stay at or near the suggested retail pricing, with few discounts. Translation: you’ll make more per book.

The first eighteen months have been busy. I’ve learned to pace the writing with production and marketing efforts. I’ve set up production protocols that allow me to be efficient in putting the books into multiple markets. And I’ve picked up distribution from education publishers, while also making sure I cover the digital and print distribution channels.

2015 NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book.

2015 NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book.



Marketing. Because I come from the traditionally published world, I also decided early on that I would submit books for awards. That meant Mims House joined the Children’s Book Council, which gave me access to a variety of programs. In November, 2014, I learned that my nonfiction picture book, Abayomi, the Brazilian Puma: The True Story of an Orphaned Cub was named a 2015 NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book.

I was ready. I already had the book in distribution to all major channels, including education distributors. Immediately, I sent press releases to those channels—and sales have picked up. I expect that early next year will bring even more sales for this award-winning book.

Someone once said that marketing means you produce demand for your books. You do that first and foremost by writing and publishing a great book. After that, you have to break through the noise and get noticed; and then you need to keep the book in the foremost of your customer’s mind for as long as possible.

Marketing is what I’ll focus on for the next year. I’m trying everything from online ads to awards programs to social media blasts. Ask me at the end of 2015 what I’ve learned about marketing.

WHAT I’VE LEARNED IN THE LAST 18 MONTHS

  1. Indie publishing is refreshingly creative. It’s not about control for me, though, I hear that sentiment often. Instead, it’s about creativity. It’s opened creative channels for me in the production of the books; and it will continue to challenge my creativity in marketing. Both of those have challenged the foundation of selecting stories to write: I now start out with a stronger consideration of audience. I like how the creativity builds as I engage in more aspects of the book production, distribution and marketing. Working with creative artists and audio narrators is inspirational, too.
  2. Patience is crucial. I went into this with a long-term perspective. As an indie publisher, I am a small business owner. In the U.S., most small businesses fail in the first year; most don’t make a profit until their fifth year. From day one, I had books in distribution so I’ve made money. I sold a website domain for a nice profit and that added to my reserves. Financially, the cost to enter this business is extremely low, and it’s been easy to build up the income levels.

    Still, patience is crucial because as an indie publisher I can’t afford the book launch splash; instead, I must rely on a slow growth of a title as word-of-mouth grows. You hear stories of fantastic sales of ebooks—but that’s rarer for children’s books. It’s just a different market, and I constantly remind myself that I am building for a future so I don’t need to be impatient.

  3. Try everything. Test everything. This year, I’ve said YES to everything I could. I’m testing to see where and how I can reach an audience that likes and will buy my work. I’ve done Facebook ads, GoogleAdwords, displayed at various local and regional events, set up a sales channel on my own website, and much more. I don’t have lots of capital, so I’m careful in choosing where to put effort; but my attitude is to try something new if at all possible. Take risks.
  4. Write. Through all of this, the writing remains. It’s the foundation for everything else.

CHALLENGES AND PREDICTIONS FOR 2015: Indie Books for Children

  1. Pay attention to the education market. The education market for ebooks is poised to explode; I hear of more and more schools going 1-1, or one ipad/tablet for each child. I think the education distributors such as Follett, MackinVIA, and Permabound are going to be players, but also look for the sleeping giant, Apple, to come on strong. Since the iOS8 update this fall included iBooks as a native app, I’m moving many more books on Apple than on Kindle. It’s going to be a wild ride as companies jockey for position and as the pricing structures shake out. I’m working hard to put more books on the iBook platform; see my author page on iBooks.
  2. Hard work. Indie publishing will continue to expand, but I think the boom of 2008-2014 has played out. Now, you’ll have to dig in and work harder to get noticed. It’s only limited by your imagination, your work ethic and a bit of luck. And beware of rip-offs who promise to make your book a best seller!
  3. Change is inevitable; be ready to adapt or pivot. 2014 saw a rise in the subscription model of selling books and a host of startups that touted one way or another of promoting, marketing and selling books. Inevitably, most of these will fail; but no one knows which will fail and which will succeed. You’ll have to pay attention to the unfolding events and take advantage of sales opportunities as they arise.
  4. Global media company. One interesting idea is to consider myself a global media company. This year, I did an online video course of 30 Days to a Stronger Novel to accompany a book’s launch. And illustrator Kitty Harvill, who lives in Brazil half the year, is working on a Portuguese translation of Abayomi, the Brazilian Puma. (If it goes through that will be my 9th language! English, Spanish, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Arabic, German and Taiwanese Chinese.) Will the digital world allow for an expansion into other media and a global market? Of course. It’s a question of how to approach it. It’s one area I’ll be paying attention to in 2015, whether or not I actually make direct moves on either front. I’ll be reading anything possible about the expanding German market, and perhaps experiment (Try anything!) with more video or audio.
  5. One key to success: own your own audience. You’ll see less emphasis on social media activity such as growing a Facebook Fan page. As the major social media companies work to expand income, they continually change the rules. In essence, they own your audience, not you. Instead, smart authors will build their own mailing lists of loyal fans who want to hear about new releases. Get the Fiction Notes newsletter and the MimsHouse newsletter here.

In the end, all of us in publishing are asking one question: How can I put more of my books into the hands of the right audience in the most profitable manner? We’re answering that in a myriad of ways. How do you answer that question?

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12. Self-Publishing Tips - #WriteTip - #IndieAuthor



Today I want to chat about self-publishing and share a few of the steps needed before publication. This does not cover everything, but it should be enough to get you started—should you choose to self-publish your work. I bet to a lot of you, it will seem overwhelming, and it is hard work.
Okay, first off I would go to goodreads, Amazon, and even do a Google search on the book title that you’ve chosen. You want your title to be unique and standout. You definitively don’t want to use one that’s already taken, because when potential readers Google your title, you want to make sure that they don’t go to another author’s website and buy their book instead. My novel, “BEAUTIFULLY BROKEN” was published in 2011, and since then I have seen numerous books published with the same title. If you come across a title that is the same or very similar to yours, then I highly recommended changing it. 
Be prepared. You’re going to need extremely thick skin once you embark on this journey. Readers and reviewers can be brutal. Not everyone is going to love your book. And sales might be slow at first. It takes time and patience to build a following. 
Now, are you positive that your book is in the best shape possible? Because the first 50 pages will either keep a reader turning the pages or putting the book down, so I suggest using  this amazing online editing software: AutoCrit Editing Wizard. to clean up your novel.
Then PLEASE hire a professional editor! If you think that you cannot afford it, think again! There are many really wonderful editors out there that are not overly expensive. One of the reasons that self-published authors are getting a bad rap is because they are publishing their work before it's ready. Have I made this mistake? You bet. Now I hire at least two editors to critique my work before sending it out into the world.
Read my story here for inspiration HERE  and this blog post on my own writing process HERE
Here’s some good advice to take to heart…
  • I suggest joining some writing groups and forums, and then posting your first few pages for feedback.
  • Get at least two really good critique partners and some beta readers (NOT friends or family) to offer constructive criticism as well.
  • And study the craft of writing fiction, there are a ton of great books out there that can help.
  • Read, read, read! Read every book you can find in your genre.
  • Also, I would start following other writer’s blogs. I have found some really great writing tips from blog posts that improved my writing.
Next, you’re going to need a book cover designed. I recommend Rachel at “Parajunkee Designs.” Do NOTcreate a cover yourself. Rachel is reasonably priced and she even has beautiful, professional-looking premade covers that you can buy from her website: http://parajunkee.net/  She also designs book trailers, promo materials, and does blog tours. (A word of warning, always research a designer before hiring them. Get references and do a Google search of their name. I learned the hard way, so don't make my mistake. The one time I worked with someone other than the talented Rachel, it was a nightmare. I did finally get a beautiful eBook cover, but the print cover looked shoddy. The designer claimed to be a perfectionist, but didn't bothering proofing the final cover before sending it to me. If you design something, you'd think you would want it to look flawless, because it is a direct reflection on your business. Oh, well. Live and learn.) 
Another excellent book cover designer that I recently discovered is Cassidy Hammermeister. Anyone interested in contacting him about design work can via his website.
Now you’re going to need to have your manuscript formatted into an eBook format to upload to places like Kindle Direct and NOOK Press. I highly recommend using Bookow.You pay a one-time fee, its super easy to use, and it formats your Word doc within seconds into a perfect eBook format and/or paperback edition for Amazon’s CreateSpace. 
At this point, you’re going to need a professional-looking blog designed to showcase your work, I recommend Blogaholic Designs  The designs are stunning and her prices are pretty unbeatable. 
You’re also going to need a Twitter account, Amazon Author page, and a Facebook page to start. Once, you get all these things accomplished, then it is time to publish your book. Of course, after that you'll need to start marketing your novel, doing a book blog tour, and contacting book reviewers.
Well, that’s it for now. If you’re determined and serious about being a writer, then these steps will put you on the right path toward publication. ;-)

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13. Three Predictions for eBook Sales in 2015

Ebook sales–will they remain stable, go up, or as […]

The post Three Predictions for eBook Sales in 2015 appeared first on aksomitis.com.

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14. Being a Real Person Sheena Wilkinson



I’ve just become Ireland’s first Patron of Reading. Trinity Comprehensive School, Ballymun, is a north Dublin school in an area which was, in the past, a byword for deprivation. In recent years, Ballymun has been the subject of a huge regeneration programme, and it’s a place where I have been welcomed since I did my very first school visit there four years ago.

This was drawn by the principal, Ms Fran Neary.




where it all started 
In 2011, my first novel, Taking Flight, had just come out, and I’d only done a few local visits in Belfast schools. I was a fulltime teacher so I wasn’t nervous about talking to teenagers, but when the invitation from Trinity Comprehensive came in, it felt different. It was the first time I realised that readers outside Northern Ireland would connect with my characters. Joe Kelly, Trinity’s wonderful librarian, assured me that his pupils had liked Taking Flight‘because it seemed so real to them.’

That was the first of many visits to the school. I’ve done lots of talks and workshops in the library which is, like all good school libraries, central to the school, promoting literacy in its widest sense. I think I kept being invited back because I’m unpretentious and realistic. Earlier this year Joe and I decided to formalise the relationship by designating me Trinity’s Patron of Reading. I’m sure readers of this blog are familiar with the PoR scheme. It’s an excellent way for schools to connect with writers, and for writers to connect with readers. When I attended a ceremony in Trinity last month to mark becoming its Patron, one of the things I promised to do was to use my December ABBA post to celebrate being Ireland’s first PoR.
me on a school visit -- unglamorous but real 

In the last week, however, my thoughts have also been exercised by the furore over ghost-writing, transparency, and celebrity culture. There’s been a lot of nonsense in the media, as well as a lot of good common sense – not least here on ABBA: thank you, Keren David.

How does this link with the PoR scheme, and with school visits in general? I think the most important thing about authors visiting schools is that they make things real for the pupils. As a child, I had little concept of my favourite writers as actual people. The books just sort of appeared in the library, as if by magic, though I gleaned every little snippet of biographical information I could from the dust flap. When I wrote to Antonia Forest and she wrote back it felt like the most exciting thing that had ever happened anyone – to have a letter written by the same hand that had written the Marlow novels. (And I should point out that I was 23 and a PhD student at the time.)


the book that drove me mad
What I always emphasise on school visits is that writing is a process, and often a fairly torturous one. I don’t pretend to write quickly and easily. I show the pupils the whole journey of a novel, from notebooks with rough planning, through printed-out and much scribbled over drafts, to the final book. I’m not precious – I tell them about the times when it’s been hard; I show them a six-page critique of an early draft of Taking Flight, and point out that there is a short paragraph of ‘Positives’ followed by five and half pages of ‘Issues to Consider’. I tell them about going to an editorial meeting to discuss Still Falling, and how my editors spent five minutes telling me what they liked about the novel and 55 minutes telling me what wasn’t working.

I’m not trying to put kids off. I always emphasise that making things up is magical, and seeing your ideas develop into actual stories that people read is the best thing in the world. But I do let them see that it involves a lot of hard work.

Nowadays I think that’s even more important. I once shared a platform with two children who had self-published. It was a ridiculous, uncomfortable event: there I was talking about hard work and rejection and editing and how hard it is to get published, and there were these two little pre-teen moppets with their shiny books. The primary school audience, who won’t have known the difference between self-publishing and commercial publishing, probably thought I was some kind of slow learner. But I least I told them the truth.

Honesty. I think we need more of it. I’m so proud to be Ireland’s first Patron of Reading, and I intend to keep on being honest about writing as a magical, but difficult craft.
Trinity Comprehensive School, Ballymun.



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15. H.M. Ward Says Kindle Unlimited Crushed Her Book Sales

2014HMWARDHOLLY-thumbAmazon’s real-time experiment with the livelihoods they have provided to their exclusive self-published KDP authors through Kindle Unlimited (KU) continues to draw concern on online forums. The most recent scrutiny stems from a post by bestselling author Holly (H.M.) Ward on Kindle Boards from the Friday after Thanksgiving, which continues to draw follow-up remarks.

Ward said that her Amazon income dropped substantially when she participated in Kindle Unlimited: “[I] had my serials in it for 60 days and lost approx 75% of my income [from KDP]. Thats counting borrows and bonuses. My sales dropped like a stone. The number of borrows was higher than sales. They didn’t compliment each other, as expected.” She added, “I planned on giving it 90 days, but I have a kid in the hospital for long term care and I noticed my spending was going to exceed my income–by a lot. I couldn’t wait and watch thing plummet further. I pulled my books. That was on Nov 1, & since then my net revenue has gone up. I’m now at 50% of where I was pre-KU. During the time I was in KU, I had 2 new releases. Neither performed vastly different than before. They actually earned far less (including borrows).”

Perhaps more resonant for self-published authors broadly, she wrote, “This model needs to be changed for it to work. Authors shouldn’t be paid lottery style.” (In the current system, Amazon decides, retroactively, how much money to allocate to authors for each KU borrow. The amount paid per borrow has been dropping since the program launched in late July.)

In follow-up comments, Ward added, “That’s why I posted this info. I assumed I was the only one. I thought I was too stupid to make KU work, but both months I was an ‘All Star’ so something just doesn’t work. Plus other heavy hitters starting talking, telling me a similar story. The model itself is flawed….I have 60+ books, lots of new titles, and if I’m at the top of the KU list for the entire 60 days I was enrolled and lost a LOT of money, then something is wrong with the model.” (By our own data, Ward has had 12 works appears on bestseller lists during 2014.) She also indicated the KU experience affected all of her titles at Amazon, even the ones that were not part of the subscription service, “because buyers changed into borrowers, who in turn did not spend money on my other titles.” And “Ditto on audio sales. They’ve vanished.”

A number of other authors joining the forum tell stories similar to Ward’s, though there are also authors who say that KU has increased their net earnings. One common belief is that the current KU economics favor short works — “KU has allowed for shorter works to steal marketshare from longer works, pushing them out of sales rankings, search result rankings, also boughts, top 100 lists, and overall visibility. You think I’m wrong? Go read any of the popular erotica forums, those writers are cleaning up like it’s 2012 again.”

Self Published authors. We need to keep our eyes open for more info on this subject.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: need to know, publishers, Publishing Industry Tagged: Amazon Kindle Unlimited, H. M. Ward, Self-Publishing

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16. The Pros and Cons of Self-Publishing for Children's Book Authors




 
It's difficult for any writer to get published by a traditional publisher, whether you write for adults or for children. That's why more writers than ever are turning to self-publishing. But before you jump on the bandwagon, especially if you write for children, it's helpful to find out more about self-publishing.
Check out the recent post by guest blogger Sangeeta Mehta on publishing expert Jane Friedman's blog. Mehta, a former acquiring editor of children's books at Little, Brown and Simon & Schuster who runs her own editorial services company, interviewed agents Kate McKean and Kevan Lyon for answers to key questions on self-publishing children's books.
Here are some highlights:
Kate McKean: “The anecdotal evidence I’ve seen, however, is that the more titles a self-published author has up, the more visibility they can possibly garner.”
Kevan Lyon: “I do believe that YA writers probably have an edge over middle grade writers in the indie publishing world.”
Kate McKean: “For picture book writers, the cost of producing the book is one hurdle, and distributing it is another bigger hurdle.”
Kevan Lyon: “Self-publishing a full-color print picture book can be very expensive with little room for a profit margin, especially without distribution.”
Click here to visit Jane Friedman's blog for the complete post.
What do you think about the pros and cons of self-publishing? Please share your experiences.
Hope you enjoyed this post! To be notified of future updates, use the subscription options on the right side bar.


0 Comments on The Pros and Cons of Self-Publishing for Children's Book Authors as of 11/25/2014 11:26:00 PM
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17. Books Without Boundaries

If Bill Gates said it, I tend to believe it. The software tycoon-turned-philanthropisthas been proven right on just about everything. (If you forget the Zune and that CTRL-ALT-DEL thing.)

At the dawn of the internet, Gates published an essay that started off with this line: “Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet.”

The name of the essay? “Content is King”.

His 1996 prediction – made during the prehistoric online period of dial up modems, AOL and floppy discs – came true. From cat videos to eyewitness reports of government crackdowns– and billions of terabytes of everything in between — ours truly is the age of information on demand. As predicted the revenue followed, from eCommerce purchasing to monetizing traffic through advertising. Over the years Gates’ truism about the value of information has been stated and restated with almost religious fervor.

Yet the explosion of information is only half the story, and that’s where Blue Ash Publishing comes into play. Anyone on the planet has the potential to create the most eloquent, breathtaking, astonishing, even life-changing content. But without an audience – or more precisely the means to reach it — this rich content will never be fully appreciated.

Enter the new king – distribution. Some have likened the concept of distribution as the ‘queen’ to Gates’ king content. To rephrase the slightly sexist expression, in this family it’s the queen who “wears the pants!” Call it what you want — transmitter, network or bullhorn – it’s the vital infrastructure to broadcasting your message. Without distribution there is no discovery — no matter how brilliant the content.

Authors depend on Blue Ash Publishing for self publishing ebooks and many things but especially distribution. We’re the pipeline to help them find their readers. Just last week that pipeline just got a whole lot bigger with millions of potential new readers on the end of the line. Our retail store network leaped from 12 to over 60 retail stores around the globe.

We’ve been covering the majors for years including Amazon, iBooks, Kobo and all the majors. Now our authors’ books are featured in stores such as Spanish eBook giant 24Symbols, Waterstone from the UK and eChristian.com.

One of the reasons authors choose Blue Ash and its distribution engine BookBaby is what I term our “books without boundaries” approach to retail store distribution. We’ve been at the forefront of eBook globalization and for good reason. After all, it’s called the World Wide Web, not the Internet of the United States! The physical logistics of print books didn’t allow for such widespread international audiences for most authors. Digital truly changes everything.

I predict it won’t be long until the international English-language eBook market easily surpasses the US market. Some numbers shared by the Ebook Bargains UK (EBUK) newsletter illustrate why I’m so bullish on the global market.

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Let’s span the globe According to EBUK, there’s upwards of 75 million English speakers in the Philippines as we’ve mentioned already. Over 40 million English speakers in Germany. 30 million in Bangladesh. 30 million in Egypt. 25 million in France. 20 million in Italy. 17 million in Thailand. 15 million in the Netherlands. 15 million in South Africa. 12 million in Poland.12 million in Turkey. 11 million in Iraq. 10 million in Spain.

In just India, Pakistan and Nigeria, the number of English-speakers exceeds the entire population of the United States! Then there’s Brazil, Sweden, Kenya, Cameroon, Malaysia, Russia, Belgium, Israel, Zimbabwe, Romania, Austria and Greece, all with between 5 and 10 million English speakers each. That all adds up a lot of potential readers in every corner of the planet. Blue Ash Publishing is your ticket to get your book out there.

Whether you’re ready to take that journey now or need some inspiration, we’ve put together a helpful new guide to get your through the process. It’s called Self Publishing 101: The Quick Start Guide for Writers. It’s FREE from your friends at Blue Ash and you’ll gain knowledge about such critical issues as:

  • Proven eBook pricing strategies and tactics
  • Why authors can’t skimp on editing or cover design
  • How metadata is vital to your online sales success

Whether you’re a rookie or an experienced pro in the eBook world Blue Ash Publishing’s newest guide has something for everyone who needs ideas how to create, price, sell and how to promote your eBook.

Click here for your free download.

 

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18. A Book in 30 Days: What Writers Can Learn From Rapid Publishing

https://www.flickr.com/photos/katiekrueger/2351656805/in/photolist-4zNRCZ-5h2Q8H-4AHgwP

“Fast Fingers” by Katie Kreuger via Flickr. (Creative Commons licensed image)

BY AMANDA L. BARBARA

The Internet has brought about a new age of experimentation in publishing, and stepping into the literary laboratory is the prolific storytelling duo, Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant.

The authors’ recent project, “Fiction Unboxed,” was a crowdfunded experiment in writing and publishing a book live in 30 days. Platt’s and Truant’s goal was to give aspiring authors and fans of their popular podcast a look behind the curtain at their writing process.

Platt and Truant are no strangers to writing quickly. They wrote more than 1.5 million words in a year and continue to publish fiction at a breakneck pace.

For “Fiction Unboxed,” they started without any characters, a plot, or even a genre in mind and careened into publishing a book in front of a live audience. This project had nearly 1,000 backers and overfunded at $65,535. Backers got to see the authors’ story meetings, watch them hammer out the plot, write, and edit the final draft.

It’s easy to see the appeal in writing a book quickly. Platt’s and Truant’s method meant they could start earning revenue from their published book right away and get to work on their next project.

But what about the average writer who isn’t used to cranking out a story at such a fast pace? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of rapid writing.

The Benefits of Writing Fast

There are a number of potential rewards to producing and publishing quickly, including:

  • Reader engagement. “Fiction Unboxed” generated an enormous amount of engagement among indie authors, the duo’s nonfiction audience. But even for fiction writers, publishing quickly can help maintain readers’ interest in your work. The New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout has cultivated an enormous fan base due to her ability to quickly produce more of the books her readers love on an accelerated timeline.
  • Exposure. Doing something out of the ordinary is a great way to get noticed as an author. Platt and Truant used their writing process to create a highly shareable and marketable product that gained a lot of attention simply because it had never been done before.
  • Momentum. Writing quickly obviously helps you produce more work, but it also helps you gain traction from a publishing and marketing perspective. The more you publish, the more chances readers have to discover your work, and a new title can provide a boost to your entire catalogue.

Potential Drawbacks of Rapid Production

While there are a number of benefits to writing and publishing quickly, Platt and Truant are experienced writers who understand the publishing process. They know what they can reasonably accomplish, and they have a team in place to help with other aspects of book production, such as audio and cover design. 

Producing a book in 30 days probably wouldn’t work for a less experienced writer. If you’re thinking of giving yourself an ambitious deadline, proceed with caution to avoid these pitfalls:

  • Lower quality: The duo’s final product, a YA Steampunk novel called “The Dream Engine,” has a 4.8 rating on Amazon. But for new authors, a tight deadline may not leave enough time for professional editing and cover design, which could result in a lackluster book.
  • Public failure: “Fiction Unboxed” was a risky endeavor. What if they hadn’t completed the project? What if the book flopped?

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While you shouldn’t let fear hold you back as a writer, always consider how readers will receive your book.

“Fiction Unboxed” was a fun experiment, but the underlying message isn’t that you should try to write a book in 30 days. Platt and Truant wanted to show writers that storytelling doesn’t have to be a painful process and that with practice, good stories can be written quickly.

Most importantly, you have to do the work. Platt and Truant haven’t produced so many books by sitting around waiting for inspiration to strike — they’ve done it by hitting their word count day after day. Hard work is something they stressed in the book that inspired the project and in “Fiction Unboxed” itself.

There’s no one process that works for every author, but you shouldn’t be afraid to try new things. Just keep writing, and the words will come.  


Amanda BarbaraAmanda L. Barbara is vice president of Pubslush, a global crowdfunding publishing platform for the literary world. This platform is bridging the gap between writers, readers, publishers and industry leaders. Follow Amanda on Twitter and Google+.

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19. Why I don't want to self-publish again

(Kate Wilson of the wonderful Nosy Crow asked me to write a guest post for her on my experiences of self-publishing as a published author. For your info, she didn't know what those experiences were, so there was no direction or expectation. I have re-posted it here, with permission. Note that this is personal experience, not advice.)

Many writers, previously published or not, talk excitedly about why they enjoy self-publishing. Let me tell you why I don’t.

I’ve self-published (only as ebooks) three of my previously published YA novels and three adult non-fiction titles which hadn’t been published before. From these books I make a welcome income of around £250 a month – a figure that is remarkably constant. So, why have I not enjoyed it and why won’t I do it again?

It’s damned hard to sell fiction! (Over 90% of that £250 is from the non-fiction titles.) Publishers know this. They also know that high sales are not always about “quality”, which is precisely why very good novels can be rejected over and over. Non-fiction is easier because it’s easy to find your readers and for them to find your book. Take my book about writing a synopsis, for example; anyone looking for a book on writing a synopsis will Google “books on writing a synopsis” and, hey presto, Write a Great Synopsis appears. But if someone wants a novel, the chances of finding mine out of the available eleventy million are slim. This despite the fact that they had fab reviews and a few awards from their former lives.

But some novels do sell well. So why don’t mine? Because I do absolutely nothing to sell them. Why not? Well, this is the point. Several points.

First, time. I am too busy with other writing and public-speaking but, even if I weren’t, the necessary marketing takes far too long (for me) and goes on for too long after publication: the very time when I want to be writing another one. This is precisely why publishers tend only to work on publicity for a short while after publication: they have other books to work on. We may moan but it has to be like that – unless a book does phenomenally well at first, you have to keep working at selling it.

Second, I dislike the stuff I’d have to do to sell more books. Now, this is where you start leaping up and down saying, “But published authors have to do that, too!” Yes, and I do, but it’s different. When a publisher has invested money because they believe in your book, you obviously want to help them sell it. But when the only person who has actually committed any money is you, the selling part feels different. It’s a case of “I love my book so much that I published it – now you need to believe in me enough to buy it.” I can’t do it. Maybe I don’t believe in myself enough. Fine. I think books need more than the author believing in them. The author might be right and the book be fabulous, but I tend to be distrustful of strangers telling me they are wonderful so why should I expect others to believe me if I say I am? And I don’t want to spend time on forums just to sell more books.

Third, I love being part of a team. Yes, I’ve had my share of frustrating experiences in the course of 100 or so published books, but I enjoy the teamwork – even though I’m an introvert who loves working alone in a shed; I love the fact that other people put money and time and passion into selling my book. It gives me confidence and support. They won’t make money if they don’t sell my book and I still like and trust that model.

And I especially love that once I’ve written it and done my bit for the publicity machine and done the best I can for my book, I can let it go and write another.

See, I’m a writer, not a publisher. I may love control – the usual reason given for self-publishing – but I mostly want control over my words, not the rest. (That control, by the way, is never lost to a good editor, and I’ve been lucky with genius editors.) So, yes, I am pleased with the money I’ve earned from self-publishing and I love what I’ve learnt about the whole process, but now I’m going back to where I am happy to do battle for real control: my keyboard.

It’s all I want to do.

Nicola Morgan has written about 100 books, with half a dozen "traditional" publishers of various sizes from tiny to huge. She is a former chair of the Society of Authors in Scotland and advises hard-working writers on becoming and staying published, and on the marketing/publicity/events/behaviour that goes along with that.

She has also just created BRAIN STICKS, an original and huuuuuuge set of teaching resources about the brain and mental health.


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20. Laurie Wallmark – Writing Books for Children

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Do you have an idea for a children’s book? Would you like to share your story with children around the world? Well, Laurie Wallmark is teaching
WRITING BOOKS FOR CHILDREN at Princeton Adult School.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThurs 7:00-9:00pm

October 2 – November 6

In this course you’ll explore: the many joys of writing for children; types of children’s books; elements of a great story; tips to make your writing sparkle; traditional vs. self-publishing; printed books and e-books; avoiding scams, and much more.

Here is the link to sign up.

Share it with your friends who may be starting out on their path to publishing.

Most of you already know Laurie, she was a wonderful Assistant Regional Advisor while I was Regional Advisor for the New Jersey SCBWI.

Here is a little bit about Laurie you might not know:

Laurie is pursuing an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts. She has written numerous articles and stories in children’s magazines (Highlights, Spider, Cricket, and others). Her debut picture book, Ada, will be published by Creston Books in 2016.

Visit Laurie’s blog entitled “All News, No Schmooze: News and Notes for Busy Children’s Book Writers” at http://www.lauriewallmark.blogspot.com.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Author, children writing, How to, need to know, opportunity, Process, Publishing Industry, Self-publishing Tagged: Laurie Wallmark, Princeton Adult School, Writing Boooks for Children

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21. Indie vs. Self: What's the Difference

By Julie Daines

There's a lot of confusion out there about indie publishers and self-publishers. Let just get straight to the point. Here is this:

From Judith Brileson AuthorU.org (June 2014)

Don’t Confuse Independent Publishing with Self-Publishing

Indie, Independent and Small Press Publishing Are So, Soooooo Different from Self-Publishing, Vanity Presses and Pay-to-Publish “Publishing”  
I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a zillion times: yes, dear author-to-be (and those already published), there is a difference between self-publishing, vanity presses, pay-to-publish, a small press, and independent publishing. Don’t mix them up. Don’t get confused.
She quotes Wikipedia: 
The majority of small presses are independent or indie publishers, thismeans that they are separate from the handful of major publishing house conglomerates, such as Random House or Hachette. The term ‘indie publisher’ should not be confused with ‘self-publisher’, which is where the author publishes only their own books.
  Defined this way, these presses make up approximately half of the market share of the book publishing industry.
This is a great article if you're confused about any of these terms. Go and check it out.
Unfortunately, I feel the term independent publishing (Indie) is going the same way so many words have already gone--Verbicide. It is used so frequently in the wrong sense that it's original meaning is becoming lost.

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22. Self publishing 101: Where to Begin?

“How do I get my eBook on Amazon?”
“Do I really need both printed books and eBooks?”
“What price should I charge for my eBook?”

There’s never been a better time to be an author. It’s an oft-stated truth, as the digital technology driving the publishing revolution now enables creative people around the globe to develop and market content in truly unique ways.  But with anything new and unfamiliar, questions are sure to follow:

“Can you help me design a cover for my book?”
“How much money can I make from my eBook?”

The stigma of failure that used to be associated with self publishing is a thing of the past.

Digital delivery systems such as Apple’s iBooks and Amazon’s Kindle bring your readers right to your doorstep. Gone too are the old barriers that kept self published authors from seeing their words in print. Digital printing and POD (print on demand) have expanded writers’ horizons. New mediums are being invented and old ones are being re-invented. New devices are being created at unprecedented rates.

“What’s an ISBN?”
“How can I distribute my book to Europe and other regions?”

With all the rapid changes in publishing swirling around, there’s another less-stated truth: there’s never been a more confusing time for authors, especially the ones who have chosen to self-publish. The process of taking your finished manuscript and putting it into the marketplace can be daunting for even the most tech-savvy author.

That’s one of the reasons why Blue Ash Publishing was created. We believe that self publishing doesn’t necessarily mean going it alone. Authors can rely on the resources of two publishing industry heavyweights – Writer’s Digest and BookBaby – who have the experience and knowhow to answer all the questions posed above – and then some!

The two companies that comprise Blue Ash provide everything an aspiring author needs to take their work directly to the marketplace. Blue Ash publishing packages are powered by BookBaby, so you can sell your eBook in the world’s biggest online bookstores — including Amazon, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and beyond. BookBaby is the sister company of CD Baby, the indie music powerhouse that’s helped musicians sell their music around the globe.

Meanwhile our writer’s resources are powered by Writer’s Digest, giving you access to their wealth of marketing and educational information. For more than 90 years, the experts at Writer’s Digest have been creating books, magazines, competitions, conferences and distance education materials for writers who want to polish their skills and hone their craft.

By providing answers to all your questions and taking care of the heavy lifting for all technology issues, we help writers concentrate on what they do best: Writing.

To help authors get a jump start on their self publishing efforts, we’ve put together a Blue Ash Publishing guide called:

Guide CoverSelf Publishing 101 – The Quick Start Guide for Authors

It’s free to any author thinking seriously about pursuing the path of self publishing. The guide is available for download HERE.

 

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23. The Body Electric: An Interview With Author Beth Revis!

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My friends, I am in COUNTDOWN MODE. Beth Revis’s new novel The Body Electric is nearly with us, and it’s so close I can taste it! October 6th, you are so close! From the NYT bestselling author who catapulted us into space with Across The Universe, this is a new story that answers the question: what happened on earth while the Godspeed was making her way to a new world? Bring. It. On. I’ve already ordered my limited-edition copy! And today, I’ve got Beth here with us to answer all our burning questions!

But first, a little about The Body Electric…

The Body ElectricElla Shepherd has dedicated her life to using her unique gift—the ability to enter people’s dreams and memories using technology developed by her mother—to help others relive their happy memories.

But not all is at it seems.

Ella starts seeing impossible things—images of her dead father, warnings of who she cannot trust. Her government recruits her to spy on a rebel group, using her ability to experience—and influence—the memories of traitors. But the leader of the rebels claims they used to be in love—even though Ella’s never met him before in her life. Which can only mean one thing…

Someone’s altered her memory.

Ella’s gift is enough to overthrow a corrupt government or crush a growing rebel group. She is the key to stopping a war she didn’t even know was happening. But if someone else has been inside Ella’s head, she cannot trust her own memories, thoughts, or feelings.

So who can she trust?

Beth, welcome! In Across The Universe and its sequels, you took us into space, trapped us on claustrophobic ships and landed us on incredible new planets. Tell us about your inspiration for The Body Electric! Where did this story start? A dream? A musical clip? Plain, old-fashioned brainstorming?

I first started getting the idea for The Body Electric while writing Shades of Earth, the last AtU novel. Amy and Elder have a little interaction with Earth, and it’s not positive. It made me start thinking: what was happening on Earth while Amy and Elder were in space? How did Earth change to become the kind of place where the events that happened in Shades of Earth happened?

Of course, I was also influenced by a lifetime of reading and SF movies–especially the works of Philip K. Dick. There are hints of Total Recall and Blade Runner in this book.

beth revis headshotThat’s insanely cool, and I think it’s a question more than one reader has wondered about– I certainly did! So, if you were transported into your book, which scene would you most want to reenact?

NONE OF THEM OMG EVERYONE IS ALWAYS ABOUT A CHAPTER AWAY FROM DEATH IN MY BOOKS. I want to stay right here, pants-less and on my couch, thank you very much.

That is a point very well made. On to other things! Your decision to self-publish The Body Electric has given you a lot of freedom to release and promote the book exactly the way you want, from getting hands-on in cover design to the choice to include amazing swag with your limited-edition paperback. Can you tell us a bit about that decision and your journey?

I did not come to self-publishing lightly, although now it seems like the clear, obvious choice. My agent helped me a TON in making this decision and in realizing the potential I had with doing this book exactly the right way for my readers. A big part of my motivation to self publish came from wanting to thank the people who made my career what it is: my readers and indie bookstores. So I made the Limited Edition–it has 30 pages of extra content, full color art cards, a coupon for an ebook copy, swag, and more. And I was able to choose the price, and keep it at $14.99. And the Limited Edition is only available from my local indie bookstore, but the Special Edition–with all the same content, minus the art cards and my signature–is available from any bookstore in America.

Of course, the book is available in lots of other formats: a cheaper paperback available through Amazon, e-book editions, etc.

The freedom of this has been amazing. I love having such a voice in every aspect, from the cover design, to the price, to literally everything. It’s been so freeing.

Seriousness aside: Pub Brawl!!!!! What weapon are you wielding?

My weapon is Jayne from Firefly. I win.

Yes, yes you do. I have nothing to add on that count. What are you reading right now?

I’ve just started reading The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone by Adele Griffin. I’m so jealous I didn’t write this book. It’s been brilliant–an engaging plot, crafted masterfully. [Amie: On Beth's recommendation I've just picked up a copy, can't wait to get stuck in!]

Beth, thank you so much for visiting! We can’t WAIT for The Body Electric!

Beth Revis is the NY Times bestselling author of the Across the Universe series. The complete trilogy is now available in more than 20 languages. A native of North Carolina, Beth’s new science fiction novel for teens, The Body Electric, will release October 6, 2014. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or Instagram.

amie165c-twitterAmie Kaufman is the co-author of THESE BROKEN STARS, a YA sci-fi novel out now from Disney-Hyperion (US) and Allen & Unwin (Australia). Book two, THIS SHATTERED WORLD is out in December! Her new trilogy will start with ILLUMINAE, coming from Random House/Knopf in 2015. She is represented by Tracey Adams of Adams Literary. You can find her on Twitter or on Facebook, or visit the These Broken Stars website for exclusive sneak-peeks and contests. Amie lives in Melbourne, Australia, with her husband and rescue dog.

 

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24. Advice for Indie writers from Indie publishers

If you’re considering going the self-publishing route, go to this article full of insights from writers who have been there. And then go to my website for how I can help writers publish strong books. Here’s an excerpt from Self-Publishing Stars Speak Out by Betty Kelly Sargent:

“Before you do it, take time to understand why you’re doing it, to research your opinions, and to hire experts if needed to help you achieve your goals. Take enough time to produce a product that’s worth your reader’s time and money.” Jane Friedman

For what it’s worth.

Ray

© 2014 Ray Rhamey

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25. An Obsolete Career

I was recently at an event where I was told, rather snidely, that I'd better be out looking for another job since it won't be long before literary agents are obsolete. This isn't the first time in the past few years I've heard a statement like this. It's also ironic since BookEnds has been growing and growing with each coming year.

I'm not a fan of a black and white world. I feel blessed that I can see the blue in the sky and the green in the leaves. I like to look at the world that way as well. There's a lot more than just do it this way or do it that way. There are a lot of other colors to consider.

There are a lot of authors who are having great success self-publishing. I'm thrilled for them and I commend them for the work they're doing because, who are we kidding, it's a hell of a lot of work to self-publish successfully.

There is no doubt in my mind that agents have and will face challenges brought on by the changing face of publishing. That we'll all experience a moment when an author decides that she no longer needs us. Heck, that happened well before self-publishing anyway. That being said, there are just as many authors out there who really don't want to be business owners. That's also why people outside of publishing continue to go to work for corporations. Not everyone wants to deal with all of the details that owning a business entails. Some people just want to crunch numbers or write the book and let someone else deal with payroll, IRS census forms, hiring, firing, and banking.

I feel pretty confident that I'm going to be around for a long time, at this desk, selling these books. Authors will come and go, agents will come and go, publishers will come and go, but in the end we're all shooting for the same goal. We want great books to be read. So let's stop predicting the end of everyone else's career and instead applaud each other for whichever path we've chosen to take.

--jhf

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