Saturday, May 31, 2014
Saturday, May 24, 2014
As time passes there are fewer and fewer bookstores in which I can do signings. Social media is nice, in fact essential, but I crave the personal interaction with readers.
Also, I've never had much success at book fairs, where I'm one of dozens of writers talking about their books. Most attendees can only buy one or two books and in a room full of authors that slants the odds against me. Plus, many people are overcome by the variety of options, or feel they're being unfair if they buy from one and not others. Paralyzed by indecision or guilt they may decide not to buy any books. And how memorable can I be to readers who talk to a dozen authors that same day?
At local festivals and craft fairs I stand out better because I'm usually the only author in the place. Yes, I have to set up a tent and table, but then I'm in a relaxed atmosphere. The folks I see neither feel pressured or guilty when they stop to chat with me. I usually do as well at these events as I would at a book signing in a book store, and I just might spot a perfect gift for someone's birthday or Christmas.
The Middletown Festival was a good time, and profitable. The low point? Well, the live entertainment left something to be desired. The high point? The fellow who sought me out because he heard I would be there. He had bought his dad one of my books for Christmas. Dad loved it so much he needed to get more of my work for future gifts. Of course, I was happy to oblige.
Is it worth the time and energy to sign ten or twelve books in an afternoon? To me, it's worth it to reconnect with even one fan, and maybe make a couple new fans. I think every indie author or small press writer should give it a try!
Saturday, May 10, 2014
Sunday, May 4, 2014
One of the biggest changes the publishing industry has had to face in the last decade or two is the rise of a variety of formats in which a book can be published. Since Amazon launched twenty years ago the e-book has come into its own. That fact has been a book for self publishers and small presses, but it has also made publishing a bit more confusing.
The publishing business was already confusing when all books were paper. A publisher would sell books to bookstores at a specified discount. Each time a book was sold the publisher would pay the author a certain percentage of the price. The bookstore discount was pretty consistent at 40%, and cover prices for hard covers, trade paperbacks or mass market paperbacks were also pretty consistent. For those reasons, author royalties were also pretty consistent across publishers.
Of course this process continues. But now that author or publisher can also distribute this book for use on the iPhone, iPod Touch, Amazon Kindle, Sony Reader, Barnes & Noble Nook and probably some devices I haven’t thought of. Each requires a slightly different format and pays a different royalty. If a publisher is handling these books, the company has to take those various royalties into account, which means that royalties to authors is not consistent from one publisher to the next. In the future a standard may well appear, but at this point both authors and publishers are still figuring out what seems fair and profitable.
AND there are variations on these variations. For example, if you give Amazon.com exclusive rights to your e-book you can get 70% royalties and even get paid when people just borrow your book. Otherwise your royalty will be just 30%, but you may actually make more if people with other e-readers buy your book.
Beyond that, each publisher (or self-publisher) sets the price for his or her book and there is no consistency there either. I’ve seen e-books available for 99 cents and for 12.99. One can assume the lower the price the more books sold but how do you establish what price will bring the publisher the most money?
If you choose to self-publish, good luck deciphering the new world of publishing. If you find yourself trying to figure out whether or not a publisher’s contract is fair to you, just now that the publisher on the other side of that contract thought long and hard on the decisions that, he hopes, will lead to a profit for him and for you… but that noboby has it all figured out yet.