Sunday, June 26, 2016

How Shall I Publish?

As I said last week, When your manuscript is finished and polished, you might want to submit it to a major publisher, small presses are also an option, and for some self-publishing might be the right choice. What’s the difference? Here are some thought might help you choose.

Of course, one of the biggest differences between the publishing options has to do with the money. A publisher has to invest in the books they choose. In the case of major publishers, authors get a nice advance against projected royalties. Once the advance is earned the author gets a pre-determined percentage of the money on further book sales, usually around 8 percent, although some companies will give you a percentage of the net (their profit) instead of the gross (cover price.) Those royalties will be paid quarterly or semi-annually, with a certain amount held back against returns.

Some but not all small presses pay advances just as described above, but in every case they make the investment to get your book printed, shipped and sold. If you self-publish, you invest your money into the project and receive all the proceeds after the book store and distributor take their cut.  

When you submit to a major press your book is one of thousands they see every year. That’s not to say yours can’t rise to the top. Naturally the quality of your writing could make your book the one they choose to publish, but that’s not the only factor. Their acquisition team will consider your story’s sales potential and how well it matches their style. Luck will play a part too. You could be pushed aside if they already have something on their schedule that is very similar to yours, if they’ve already filled the year’s schedule, or if the subject matter just isn’t what they think is hot right now. As you can see the timing can matter in ways you have no control over.

If you decide to aim at a small press, quality, sales potential and matching the publisher’s style will still be major factors. But in most cases your book will be considered on its own so luck is less of a factor and you, the author, are more important. The small staff will often reject even a great book if they sense that they won’t be able to work with the author. The more excited you are about your book, the more you ae willing to accept edits, and the more likely you are to be a strong partner in the marketing and promotion of your book, the more likely you are to be offered a contract

Naturally if you choose to self-publish, the only person you have to convince is you. If YOU think your book is good enough, and will sell enough, you can publish it.

There are lots more differences between the three publishing options, and I’ll talk about them next week.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Publishing Then and Now: New Options

While presenting at a writer’s conference today the Intrigue Publishing crew talked about the publishing options available to writers today. At one time self-publishing carried a huge stigma, and the bigger your publisher the better. This is no longer necessarily true. What changed? Well, if you will allow me to wax nostalgic for a bit, let’s compare today’s publishing landscape to the situation 20 years ago.

THEN – books were hard cover and paperback.
NOW – ebooks are the choice of many readers.

THEN – books were sold in bookstores. .
NOW – books are sold in Walmart, Target, drug stores, Costco, and on line. is the world’s biggest book seller. Plus there are ibooks and ebooks for several platforms.

THEN – Printing was an expensive process
NOW – Printing is inexpensive and the print on demand process means you can make books one at a time if you want. Plus, e-books cost practically nothing to create..

THEN – Authors sold books to agents, who sold to publisher, who sold to bookstores, who sold to readers.
NOW – Thanks to the internet, authors have the option to sell directly to readers

THEN – There were many large publishers to submit to.
NOW – There are few big publishers, but lots of small publishers, vanity publishers and Print on Demand publishers.

THEN – big publishers maintained mid-list authors who could build a readership over time.
NOW – big publishers only want blockbuster writers.

THEN – It was very hard to get published, but there were lots of book buyers
NOW – It’s never been easier to be published, but never harder to sell books.

So how does a writer decide if he wants to be published by a major imprint, place his or her book with a small press, or self-publish? There are a lot of factors to consider. For example, there's the question of submissions.

To get your manuscript considered by a major publisher you must have an agent. Random House and Simon & Schuster only accept manuscripts submitted by agents. Once your agent submits to them months could pass before there is a response. In contrast, small presses do accept and in fact generally prefer un-agented submissions and will respond in weeks. Of course, if you choose to self-publish, you don’t have to submit anything to anyone. When you think your book is ready, you can put it out there.

But there are several other factors to consider before making the choice. I’ll get into many of them next week.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

More Great Web Sites for Authors

Last week I shared some of my favorite sites that I think are helpful to writers. Here are several more. Check them out and decide which ones you want to bookmark.

Writer Beware was the first author-focused web site I got turned on to. This is the place to check out every publisher, Print on Demand company, agent or publicist you might be planning to do business with. They are effectively the Better Business Bureau for writers. And if anyone in this business takes advantage of you or fails to live up to what they promised, this is where you report it. 

If you want to tell your stories and get them into the social media workd, WattPad is a good place to start. It just might be the world’s largest community of writers and readers. Members can post - and read - original stories. You can get a conversation going and network in order to build buzz and extend your platform.

As its name implies, the Alliance of Independent Authors is an organization dedicated to indie authors. It’s a good place to find realistic marketing advice, its blog is very active, and it hosts events from time to time.

Another good place to find useful blogs is Digital Book World. Genuine experts in both publishing and marketing post here. Once you sign up you get a daily email sign up and every day you’ll get a daily email full of publishing news and useful links, especially for indie authors.

BookLife is a rather formal source of indie news and education. It has a broad view, as you might expect for a sight sponsored by Publisher’s Weekly.  

Galley Cat is a somewhat less formal source for publishing news, but nonetheless a very valuable site.  

Probably the most thorough newsletter tracking publishing changes, significant sales and the latest news of the business is put out by Publisher’sLunch. This one comes in two forms. You might want to stick with the free version, but for $20/month you also get access to an extensive database of valuable info.  

Writing is as much a business as a craft. Staying informed about that business is vital if commercial success is among your goals. And that can start with any of the links I’ve shared in the last two blogs. 

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Best of the Web for Writers

The internet is filled with resources for writers that are even more informative than my blog. Most of these websites are most valuable to the independent author or the writer working with a small press. If you’re a writer, you will want to check these sites regularly, and some you should bookmark.

I’ve talked about Goodreads before but it has to be high on this list. To readers it’s a social network, but for writers it’s a valuable tool for building your platform. If you don’t have a profile there you need to create one. You’ll find it easy to network with authors, reviewers, and most importantly, with readers.

Another web site worth visiting belongs to The Independent Book Publishers Association. The IBPA is a wonderful organization that, despite its name, is very valuable for writers. There is a registration fee, like any other association, but I think it is well worth it to get the great magazine, sit in on the informative webinars, and have the chance to attend the annual conference.

Have you seen Write On by Kindle?  What’s cool is that you can both give feedback to others and get support yourself every step of the way through your creative process. As part of a virtual critique group you can read the writing of other authors and offer helpful feedback. Then you can post your own writing and hear from others about it.

Another bustling online community called SheWrites is only of interest to half of us. More than 27,000 authors have joined, and they range from seasoned pros to eager beginners. This is another opportunity to build a profile, then build a network, share your writing and wait for valuable advice. And you’ll find wide ranging discussions in the forum.

Christina Katz’s’ Writing and Publishing School blog is called Prosperous Writer. Her focus is generally on helping writers stay on track and follow through when they are tempted to give up. There are other cool features, like the “Writer Mamas” section aimed at mothers who want to give both their children and their writing enough time.

Kindle Boards / is a site hosting a series of conversation strings. There is really a ton of valuable information here about ebooks, promotion and publishing in general. Just be sure to spend your time on the most current and active conversations.

Next week I’ll point out some more valuable websites for writers to check.