Archive for December, 2011

E-Books and a cup of coffee…

Earlier in one of my post, I mentioned that e-books are more of a commodity than print books. You don’t have to store your e-books in a physical space in the house, you don’t have to wait for long to buy them (so they are more of an impulse purchase) and there is no maintenance of cleaning them or discarding old books.

For these very reasons, readers have less emotional attachment to their e-books. E-books are more of a commodity than print books ever were. Gone are the days when consumers kept the same books for years, even generations. Given today’s scenario, readers know that a book they purchase from one e-bookstore can be read on a particular device or its related apps. Tomorrow if they switch devices, they are ready to discard those e-books, and either buy different versions of the same book or new books altogether.

In this situation, readers are also willing to pay lower prices and buy books from unknown authors. An e-book is much like a good cup of coffee. Some readers will buy generic brands and enjoy lower prices and others are willing to pay higher prices for a better brand. Just as a consumer will throw away a disposable cup once a coffee is finished, readers are also willing to discard their old e-books once they shift a device or purchase a newer model. Sure, some companies do offer cloud coverage where your e-books can be re-loaded but most readers will not download the same books, or if they have purchased directly from the publisher or the author, they might not bother to download the same books again. If I have a downloaded library of a hundred books or more, I am more than likely to forgo half of them if I change my e-reader.

In the next decade, the paperback will become the new hardcover and those readers who want to collect print books will buy the paperback version to keep in their house, and e-books will become the norm.

So what does have an author have to do to get ahead in this scene?

Funnily enough, same as ever: Write more, write good stories and build a brand. Over time readers may forget the title of your books but they should not forget your name. Whether it’s e-books or print books, a writer’s job is essentially the same—and that is to entertain readers with beautiful stories and characters.

So to all you industrious writers out there, a Happy New Year and best of luck for the future!

 

E-publishing in 2012

New Year is just around the corner. Everyone’s thinking of new year resolutions. Generally, I don’t make any resolutions. If there is any change to be made, I would rather do it whenever the time is right – and not wait for the start of another year.

For an author, the times are both exciting and hard. Self-Published J.A. Konrath claims to have sold 7000 e-books in 36 hours. Wow! For a moment I was thinking what it would be like if those were my sales figures. I intend to have those sales numbers – but it will take more than the one high fantasy e-book The Black Orb I have out right now.

So I plan to write quickly now. Honestly, I am confused about my future mode of publishing even now. If the book turns out to be bigger than 80,000 words, I’ll submit it to agents and publishers. If it’s smaller, I will submit to digital publishers because they are more flexible about word count and genre. For me, the priority is to have more and more books out. The more I have, the potential to make more money is mine.

I don’t see myself self-publishing – not because it is not a great option but because I don’t have the time to be a one-man industry. By choosing a digital publisher, I don’t have to design the cover or hire someone to do it, I don’t have to hire an editor and worry about converting books to different formats and uploading them. There is a certain comfort with a publisher – and Uncial Press has treated me very well. I am happy with them.

So my plan is simple. Write every day. Write fast and pay attention to the story. Let’s see how 2012 turns out.

To all those who are reading my blog, a very happy NEW YEAR and may all your dreams come true in the coming year.

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Literary Agents: Friends or Foes?

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How to sell your story?

Anyone who has been writing for a number of years knows how hard it is sell a story. Sure, publishing has been made easy by the phenomenon of self-publishing, but selling a story is as difficult as ever. Earlier, writers would hone their craft for a number of years and finally become good enough to sell a few short stories or novellas to magazines. After a few more hard years of loving labor, they would sell a manuscript to a print publishing house. Most writers who have been working for decades now went through this same path. Nora Roberts wrote for three years before she sold her first manuscript. Dean Koontz, Stephen King, and every other famous writer paid their due.

In today’s world, selling the first story has taken on a new meaning. Leaving aside self-publishing, today’s writer has to do pretty much the same thing. Of course if you are self-publishing, you can do it for the first ever story you write, whether it’s a short, a novella or an epic novel. If you are thinking of self-publishing, do read this old post I did on Self-Publishing may be too easy.

If you are one of those writers holding out for an elusive print contract with one of the big publishers, here are a few things you can do before you get to that point:

1)      If you have written a story that doesn’t fit in a particular genre or has a smaller word count, you can submit it to one of the many digital publishers. In e-books, readers don’t seem to care so much about work count, and hence digital publishers accept all genres of books with varying word counts, provided they are well-written. I published my fantasy novella The Black Orb with Uncial Press. Here is a list of Digital Publishers for you to start pursuing.

2)      Make a website, start a blog or write articles. Make a twitter account. This will form the foundation of your web presence which is absolutely essential for a digital publishing career.

3)      Join a critique group. Get your stories critiqued before submission.

4)      Write, write more. Soon you will graduate to bigger stories that will fit the needs of a publishing house.

5)      Understand the business of publishing. Subscribe to blogs of writers, literary agents and publishers. Gain information.

The journey to publishing isn’t going to be easy for anyone. And if it’s too easy, it’s probably not worth undertaking. Enjoy the process. Love the craft of writing – because if you don’t love it, why do it?

If you write fantasy, you can check the free first chapter of my novella The Black Orb at the publisher’s website. It’s a good read, and a labor of love.

 

Literary agents – friends or foes?

I have been subscribing to a lot of literary agents blogs recently, and reading them got me thinking about the interesting relation writers seem to have literary agents. With the advent of self-publishing, more and more writers are shunning literary agencies and publishing their novels, print or digital, on their own without any outside help.

However, it seems to me that more and more literary agents are opening their inner sanctum to writers. They are offering advice through blogs, giving suggestions, cold data and hard statistics. Nathan Bransford was perhaps the first to start this approach (he is now a published author but still gives good information on writing and publishing), and but now many others are connecting with published and unpublished writers and building an agent platform.

If you are an aspiring writer, I would really advice you to read everything on Nathan’s blog, and watch this interview with Rachelle Gardner who is a literary agent with WordServe Literary Group. She has a wonderful agent blog roll that gives links to other agents who blog.

A few important tips I picked up from her blog as well as others I read over the last week:

1)      Writing is a personal endeavor, but publishing is a business and every aspiring writer has to understand that if he/she hopes to get published.

2)      You might be getting rejected because your work is not good enough yet or simply because you are writing something which doesn’t have an appropriate fit, word count, genre, etc.

3)      No writer can hope to survive without social media, but fiction writers don’t need a platform as much as non-fiction writers do.

4)      Your priorities as a writer are different from the priorities of a publishing house or an agent. An agent will always do work connecting to existing clients first and will look at incoming queries in their spare time. Same with publishing houses.

In today’s world, this means that a writer has to be savvier than before. We have to understand the publishing business, use of social media, etc as well as develop our craft of writing. On the other hand, we have more options due to self-publishing or the rise of digital publishing. I published my novella The Black Orb with a digital publisher Uncial Press because no big print publishing house is going to take a chance on a fantasy novella, but digital publishing doesn’t place so much emphasis on word count. I have already sold another fantasy novella, and hope to finish a series soon that will have the appropriate word count to be accepted by a big publishing house.

As writers our future is in our own hands, but it pays to have literary agents and publishers who are willing to share their experience and knowledge to guide us to the path that is most suitable for our needs.

Have you had a good/bad experience with a literary agent? Do you feel you need to have a literary agent before submitting your manuscript to a publishing house?

Related Posts:

Are book bloggers the new gatekeepers of publishing?

Writing will break your heart

Do Author Blogs sell books?

 

Are Book Bloggers the new gatekeepers of publishing?

There was a time when agents where considered the gatekeepers of publishing. Even now most publishing houses refuse to look at a manuscript until it is recommended by an agent. With the arrival of the self-published author, the gate-keeping duties have shifted to book bloggers. In today’s world, no author can hope to make an impression on the reading community and even on publishers until she has the support of a few book bloggers who have all read and reviewed the book and given favorable comments.

When book bloggers enjoy reading a book, like true book lovers, they will rally behind it and spread the word about the author. Case in point: Amanda Hocking. Her first and subsequent books were so well received by the book bloggers that they became the driving force behind her writing career.

From an author’s point of view, book bloggers are a scarier breed than agents. At least with an agent, at worst you will receive a private confidential rejection letter/email but with a book blogger, a bad review (should they hate the book) is going to be up on their website as well as various sites such as twitter, Good Reads, and possibly Amazon also. In a way, book bloggers are tougher gatekeepers than agents. Their reach is phenomenal and permanent.

I recently did a guest post on the blog Once Upon a Time about What do Authors want from Book bloggers, but here a few tips for the new author who is getting ready to submit to book bloggers:

1)      Do read the review policy of each blog before submission. Book Bloggers are swamped with requests, and your book stands a better chance of being accepted if the genre of your novel matches the preferences of the book blogger. Also, if the bloggers accepts the request but generally hates the genre you write in, you will end up starting off at the wrong foot. A blogger who doesn’t like urban fantasy but accepts your urban fantasy anyway is apt to not gush about the book in the review.

2)      Address the blogger by name, if possible. That makes it personal and lets them know you actually researched them before approaching.

3)      If the bloggers doesn’t read e-books, and yours is available on kindle only, don’t send a request for review.

4)      State the genre, word count, format available and name of your book in the first paragraph. Put the blurb in the second paragraph so they can get an idea of whether the premise sounds intriguing.

5)      Don’t write a long winding history of what inspired you to write the book, or give details about your background. If you have a blog or website, give its address and if the blogger is so inclined, he/she will check out your background.

6)      Use the last paragraph to state if you are open to a giveaway, guest posts and author interviews if they have space. Many bloggers who don’t have time for a review might have time for guest posts or author interviews.

7)      Once the review is up, paste a link to it on your site, tweet about it and publicly promote it on all social sites you use. If you notice, all my author interviews on other blogs have been linked to from my Bio page, and my Resources for Writers page contains all the guest posts (as well as writing articles I write) with appropriate links. This not only gives the bloggers a link to their site (which hopefully will help their google rating) but any writer who is researching my blog might hop on theirs for a look.

8)      Make sure you send a thank you email to the blogger, whether you got a good review or a bad one. If you get a bad review, don’t engage in a public or private war. Accept gracefully that not everyone who reads your book is going to like it.

If you liked this post, consider leaving a review for my high fantasy e-novella at Amazon USA and Amazon UK where the e-book is available for purchase. You can read the first chapter for free at my publisher’s website (Uncial Press).

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The scary thing about Reviews

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Guest Post at All Things Book: Building a Book Blog

The scary thing about reviews…

For an author, nothing is scarier than sending your book out for review. Self-published authors especially need to plunge themselves in these murky waters because there is no publisher doing this for them.

No matter how prepared you are to receive negative reviews or criticism, you can never be prepared enough. Sure, we tell ourselves that art is subjective…and books are a form of art. Some people who read would like it, others would not. Still, the most difficult thing is to accept gracefully the reviewer’s point of view, and move on to the next project.

It’s nearly impossible not to cringe when someone points that the flaws in the plotting or characterization. A reviewer might find it hard to identify with the very characters that seem so alive in your mind. You are thinking, “How doesn’t he get it?”

Well, that’s the thing about books, movies, paintings, etc…the beauty lies in the eye of the beholder.

The good thing is that one bad review will not kill your book, unless it’s the only review you’ve managed to get. Try to get as many reviews as possible. A diversity of reviews will help in three ways:

1)      It will show that your book has been read by many people (giving it a public stamp of approval).

2)      It will average out the bad reviews

3)      The greater the number of people who read your book, the higher your overall exposure.

Have you dealt with a bad review? How did you handle it? Leave me a comment. I love to hear from fellow writers.

Also, The Black Orb, my fantasy e-novella, is available from Amazon USA and Amazon UK. Feel free to leave a review on those sites.

 

Another Self-Publishing Success Story – Darcie Chan

Darcie Chan, a self-published author, has sold more than 400,000 copies of her e-novel The Mill River Recluse. Now, she is flooded with publishing offers from reputable publishers. The novel had originally been rejected by many publishers and agents. You can read her full story here.

This episode just goes to prove that publishing houses are lagging behind in spotting new talent. Why? The reasons are many:

1)      The start of self-publishing has given writers the freedom to publish their books NOW rather than wait 6 months for a publisher to consider their proposal.

2)      Publishers use agents to filter out writers who are not yet ready for publication or they use assistants to read the slush pile. This job of reading the slush pile actually is the main feeding source for the publishing industry. By not giving importance to their submissions, the experienced editors fail to pick out the gems which later go on to do extremely well in the world of self-publishing.

So many writers I am interacting with are just not bothering to submit their manuscripts to publishing houses, big or small, anymore. Why would they? Self-publishing gives you the option of publishing a number of your stories within a short span of time while in publishing it may take more than two years from the date of submission until the novel is ready for sale. Most serious writers, who are writing more than two books a year, just don’t want to wait that long.

If Amanda Hocking’s success was not a wake-up call for the large publishing houses, Darcie Chan’s story should definitely be one. It’s time for publishing houses to reorganize their submission processes, and start nurturing the talent that’s the lifeblood of the business of publishing.

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List of Digital Publishers

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Writing a standalone fantasy fiction novel

A standalone fantasy story is one of the easiest to write. It doesn’t require a writer to build an elaborate history of the land or develop a highly intricate magic system. The story is carried on the protagonist’s shoulder who has a unique urgent problem that is solved at the end of the story. The writers usually don’t go back to the same protagonist or setting. The benefit of writing fantasy fiction for beginner writers are many; it’s easy to focus on one character and develop him to his full potential, no back story or history of the land to worry over and a fast-paced story that comes to its natural conclusion.

The main elements of a standalone story are: a powerful and intriguing hook, an interesting character, a well-developed magic system and an evil villain.

All new writers should start by writing a standalone story because it gives you good practice for developing character, settings, magic systems and plot. A standalone story can be a short story, a novella or a novel. Its only requirement is that it comes to a satisfying conclusion and doesn’t leave the reader hanging in the end.

A good example of a standalone story is my fantasy novella The Black Orb. Here is the story’s blurb:

Aria helps support her older brother, who is one of nature’s innocents, by running cons and picking pockets. When he disappears, she fears he has been taken by the minions of the Queen of Azmeer, to be enslaved in her army of conquest. While seeking word of his fate, she narrowly escapes capture herself, aided by a sharp-spoken old man who appears to have strange and magical powers. Bikkar claims to know how she can free her brother and at the same time defeat the Queen’s potent weapon, the Black Orb, which sucks power from magicians. Only after Aria and Bikkar find Marcus an enthralled bed slave of the Queen, does the old wizard reveal that just one device can defeat the Black Orb and only Aria can wield it. But first they must escape the stone warriors who pursue Bikkar. And then Aria must die, for no living hand can wield the powerful Dragon Claw.

You can read the first chapter for free and buy the book from Amazon Kindle USA, Amazon UK as well as the publisher’s website.

Also, I have done a guest post on Are Social Media sites all that Effective at Amloki blog, a must read for all self-published writers who are doing their own promotion.

Related Posts:

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Creating a Fictional Setting for a Fantasy Story

 

Common Mistakes the writers make in the First Three Pages

 

 

 

 

List of Digital Publishers

Self-publishing may be a fast and accessible option for so many new writers, but I thought it would be a good idea to compile a list of digital publishers who are doing a fantastic job selling e-books through various online retailers, including Amazon, as well from their websites. Some of the publishers on the list also take out print books, but in the world of digital publishing, their books have been seen on best-selling lists of online retailers, such as fictionwise.

Since my first e-novella The Black Orb was published by Uncial Press, I’m going to start the list with them, and move on to others. This is not a complete list but is meant to provide an author looking to submit his/her manuscript to digital publishers with a starting point. You can read one of my earlier posts What your online Publisher will do for you to get an idea of the services they provide for their authors.

Uncial Press: Digital only publisher. They have a good reputation, especially in terms of giving a fair contract to their authors, and the editor Judith is a dream to work with.

E-reads: Accepts only previously published commercial fiction but the rights should be with the author.

Imajin Books – Mostly e-books. They accept young adult adventure/suspense/paranormal, mystery/suspense, vampire, paranormal and horror. Word count from 50,000 t0 150,000.

Lyrical Press – Looking for erotica and romance

Resplendence Publishing – They accept romance of various word counts.

Loose Id – Erotic romance and all its sub-genres are accepted.

Amber Quill Press – Erotic romance and GLBT but by invitation only.

Changeling Press – Erotic fiction and romance with heat.

eXtacy Ebooks – They have different lines for romance with heat and YA and Children books.

Highland Press – No erotica. Interested in Christian, Inspirational and family stories.

Whiskey Creek Press – e-books and paperbacks. They are open for submissions in all genres.

Mundania Press – For the past one year, they have been closed for submission.

Samhain Publishing – Romance and Horror Lines.

Excessica Publishing – Closed for submission in 2011

TTA Press – No submission guidelines on the website but they have a contact form for submissions.

Renaissance Ebooks – Accepts erotica in all genres such as fantasy, science fiction, etc. e-books only.

Red Rose Publishing – They accept interracial, multi-cultured, holiday themed, gothic and horror.

Carina Press – Harlequin’s digital imprint. Accepts almost all genres except literary fiction, young adult, inspirational stories and women’s fiction and family sagas.

Cobblestone Press – sensual and erotic romance novels and short stories.

The Wild Rose press – only romance.

Ebooksonthe.net – All genres, except for small children and non-fiction

Torquere Press – Focuses on GLBT romance exclusively.

Synergbooks – Accept all genres, except erotica.

Calderwoods Books – closed for submission when checked in December 2011 but may reopen. They do  accept previously published books.

Some publishers of e-books are missing from this list because I came across a few complaints against them by authors, but by no means have I completely checked these publishers. If you are planning to submit to them, I recommend you do a complete research before submission.

Also, do check out my author interview at Rai29BookReadNReview Blog. If you are an author, looking for reviews for your published book, guest posts or author interview, it’s good blog to explore.

UPDATE: A fellow Good Reads author has recommended Books To Go Now, her publisher of e-books. They are accepting short stories, but seem to be confused about the word count (they have given two different word counts which they are accepting). Might be a good bet for short stories and novellas.

 

Related Posts:

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The things your e-Publisher would do for you

Interview with Janiera Eldridge, Author of Having Fun while Saving Money

Bringing you another author interview from the non-fiction write Janiera Eldridge. Her book Having Fun while Saving Money is doing very well on Amazon.

Over to Janiera.

Bio: I’m 20 years old and not always sure where I want to go in life but all I know is that I love to write! I’ve worked as a freelance writer for the past 2 years which mixes what I love to do with something I have to do, work! I write entertainment news when I’m not reading or studying at Entertainmentparadise.net.

Even though my first book is non-fiction my next book will be fiction. There are a lot of crazy characters in my head just dying to get out! I’m a reading and movie addict and nothing makes me happier than a good book or movie (except for the love of my wonderful family). I’m currently pursuing a business management degree although my dreams to make a career in writing will never fade.

 

Q) Tell us about your book, Having Fun while Saving Money?

A) Having Fun While Saving Money is a book that gives readers tips and tutorials about how to save money and have fun. The great thing about this book is that it doesn’t require you to have a lot of money in order to save and have fun. It also does not talk down to the reader by making them feel guilty that they haven’t been saving money. Everything about this book is about having fun so there is no pressure about using these methods.

 

Q)  What motivated you to write this book?

A) With the economy being in the state that it is in I really wanted to provide people with the knowledge I had about saving money when their having fun. I know from firsthand experience that with the economy being down and financial troubles it is hard sometimes to find ways of entertainment without spending a lot of money.  I’ve researched and found ways to have fun for really low prices and I wanted to share those ways and help people.

 

Q) What was the greatest difficulty you had while writing this book?

A) The greatest difficulty I had when writing this book was not some of the research that went into it but finding my own voice. I was not sure if I should make the book formal or conversational. In the end I‘m glad I went with a conversational tone because It gives the reader the feeling that they are actually engaged in a conversation rather than just reading words.

 

Q) What are the absolute essential writing tools you need to write?

A) When I’m getting ready to write I have to have my laptop, favorite drink by my side and some good music for inspiration.
Q) Why did you choose to self-publish Having Fun while Saving Money?

A) I choose to self-publish Having Fun While Saving Money because it was a very personal book to me and I wanted to share the message in as direct a form as possible.  I really didn’t want anyone telling me what should or should not have been included in the book. This book was filled with my personal tips and I wanted to deliver them directly to the reader in my own voice. I plan on having my fiction book published however.

 

Q) What are the three most important suggestions you’ve given in this book to your reader?

1) Always comparison shop when you’re looking to buy books, DVDs and Music. I show them websites where they can comparison shop on and it can really get them some huge savings.

2) The best way to save money is to always be on the lookout for great deals.

3) Having fun does not have to be expensive; you just have to think outside the box. This book will give you plenty of ideas.

 

Q) How do you promote this book?

A) I have a very strong social media following so I used social media to express how this book would help people have fun without spending a lot of money. I’ve been talking to people individually about how this book can help them as well as posting it on social media. I also have given away copies through contest and in exchange for reviews to get the word out about the great quality of the book.

 

Q)  I’ve read on your blog that you’re writing fiction now, why the shift from non-fiction to fiction?

A) Writing fiction is really where my heart is at. The only reason why I wrote this non-fiction book is because I was really passionate about the subject. I do not think that my heart could be more passionate about any other non-fiction subject. My new project will be a book with a new spin on vampires.

 

Q) What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

A) It has been said over and over again but I would tell them to never ever give up. If you have a story that you believe in tell it, shop it around and don’t give up until somebody says yes to you. Never be afraid of rejection, many authors have been turned down but the one they received totally changed their lives so you should never ever give up on your dreams.

Buy Having Fun while at amazon.comsmashwords.com or Goodreads.com

 

You can contact Janiera at:

Her blog: This is From my Heart, Twitter: @lazenbeauty, Facebook: Having Fun While Saving Money and Goodreads:Author Profile

 

 

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