Posts Tagged ‘business of publishing’
Long ago, I predicted that eBooks would be reduced in price. You can read that post ‘eBook pricing and Format’ here, and related posts here and here. That time has come now. Amazon has already started a kindle matchbook program according to which you will be able to buy a digital book at a discounted price if you have a print version (purchased from Amazon, of course). The famous Apple court case is also going to force apple to reduce its eBook prices.
I have been running a pole on my website. Out of the 308 people who have voted, a whopping 96% feel that an eBook should be priced between 1 and 5 dollars. Frankly, I think it’s a decent price for an eBook. It only costs the publisher or a self-published author to produce the first book.
The main costs are:
1) Copyright of the book
3) Cover design
Once a book is produced, a publisher or self-published author does not need to make extra copies. It does not cost them anything to produce new copies. (As opposed to print books where each copy costs money in terms of printing costs).
So why should this cost benefit not be passed on to the consumer?
And let’s not forget that there is no shelf-life for a digital book. Unlike a print book that is going to be relegated to the back shelves, and returned if not sold, the digital book can keep on making money forever. The book will continue to make money as long as it remains published.
Of course, an author and publisher can jointly decide to price a book higher, if the author has a large fan following and knows that he or she can continue to sell at a higher price point. But for new authors and for self-published authors, it is important that the book be priced below 5 dollars so that the readers are more willing to take a chance on it.
So this is another one of the old posts that were lost due to website hack.
Recently I saw a thread on Goodreads in which a digital publisher had given their submission guidelines, and links to their website. Many authors, I am sure, would be willing to give any publisher a try, but the rules that apply to traditional publishers apply to digital publishers also; not all publishers are equally good.
I have done some posts before about digital publishing (part 1, part 2, and part 3), and there is even a list of digital publishers to start you off here.
If you are not yet ready to give self-publishing a try and wish to sign with a digital publisher, here are a few things you must keep in mind:
1) Check the publisher’s books on Amazon and see what their ranking is. It will give you a good idea of sales. If you wish to get an idea of how ranking is related to sales, Theresa Regan did a sales ranking chart which is quite accurate. If their books are not selling well, it’s likely yours will also not.
2) Analyze how much marketing and promotion they do for their writers. Do a google search on their writers, and see if the publisher is doing anything.
3) Check how they are pricing their books, and if the pricing is appropriate for the word count. A 20,000 word short story should not be priced equally with a novel. A digital press should price their books competitively with self-published books.
Some digital presses are doing well, but others are not. Since you are likely to get a lower royalty on your book (compared to self-publishing), you don’t want to be stuck with someone for a few years who is not going to market or promote your book. (And most of them don’t make much of an effort.)
There are some digital publishers who have extremely stringent requirements for submissions. I saw the website of a press who wanted their authors to hire an editor and polish the manuscript before submitting it to them. If an author is going to make the expense of hiring an editor, I say he would be better off self-publishing. Why submit to a digital press then?
If you are considering self-publishing, please feel free to scroll through my older posts to get an idea. Two of the best authors who give information on self-publishing are J.A. Konrath and Lindsay Buroker.
Bringing you yet another lost post, an author interview – this time with a sci-fi thriller author, Graham Storrs. His novel Timesplash was re-released by Momentum, a digital imprint of Pan Macmillion Australia.
Q. Tell us a bit about your science fiction thriller novel Timesplash?
For nearly a decade, jumping back in time wasn’t taken seriously by mainstream science. In fact, it started out as something underground, edgy and cool. The ultimate extreme sport. Then Sniper took it all too far and people started dying. Scarred by their experiences in the time travelling party scene, Jay and Sandra are thrown together in what becomes the biggest manhunt in history: the search for Sniper, Sandra’s ex-boyfriend and a would-be mass murderer.
The novel is set in the near future and it is a fast-paced techno-thriller. I’ve tried to fill it with great characters, a sprinkling of romance, and a high-adrenaline story – all the things I like in a book. I’ve also created what jaded readers of time travel stories might be a bit sceptical about – a new and intriguing take on time travel. In the end, though, Timesplash is a very human tale about finding bravery through fear, and never giving up.
Q. What inspires you to write science fiction?
I love ideas, I love science and technology, and I love thinking about how they will affect us. I suspect most science fiction starts with the writer saying, “Wouldn’t it be cool if…?” Then they start thinking about what that would mean for ordinary people caught up in whatever big change they see coming. I read a lot of popular science books and magazines and try to keep up with current developments across dozens of fields. The wonder and excitement I feel as we peel away the layers to reveal the underlying truths about the world, definitely fires my imagination and keeps me constantly inspired.
Q. Do you plan to release more sci-fic thrillers with the same characters? Or is each of your stories a stand-alone novel?
You know, I wrote Timesplash as a stand-alone novel. As soon as it was first published, readers started asking when they could buy the sequel and my story was always that there was no sequel planned. Then this deal with Pan Macmillan came up and they too asked me for a sequel. So I sat down with a pencil and paper for nearly a week, brainstorming and sketching ideas, drawing mind maps and exploring possibilities and, to my amazement, I found a great idea for a second book. I truly hope I wouldn’t have said yes to the publisher if I hadn’t found a really good premise for book 2 but, fortunately, I don’t have to worry about that.
I wrote the second Timesplash book across the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013 – I’ve only just finished the editing process with the publisher, even though it is due for release on July 1. It is called True Path and, like all good sequels, takes everything to the next level.
Q. You first self-published Timesplash, and later chose to publish it with Macmillion’s digital imprint Momentum. What was the reason for this switch?
I’ve never really wanted to self-publish. I don’t like the mechanics of book production and the hard slog of marketing a book. I’d much rather someone else did that. I published Timesplash with a New York small press in 2010 and it was a dismal failure. I was pretty upset about it and swore off all small publishers, got myself an agent, and targetted only the big-name publishers. Meanwhile, I got my rights to Timesplash back and self-published it because, well, I thought it had had its chance at the big time yet I didn’t want to leave it on my hard disk never to be read again. So I put it out there and was astonished that it started selling. In fact, it sold very well indeed. So well, that my agent started using the sales numbers to impress publishers. When Momentum read the book, they just loved it and we had a deal signed within weeks.
Q. How was your self-publishing experience?
I don’t think I’m temperamentally suited to selling – and that’s what self-publishing comes down to. Writing the book is the enjoyable part (even editing it can be fun, I’ve discovered, with the right editor), production (getting the layout right for the various self-publishing platforms and getting a cover design, etc.) is a pain in the neck but it doesn’t take too long. Then you get the book up on Amazon and the other retail sites and the real misery starts – selling, and more selling, and then more selling.
It’s true that, even if you’re commercially published these days, you have to do some of your own selling, but at least it’s not all on your own shoulders, at least someone else is sharing the burden.
So the experience was very mixed. I like all the control I have as a self-publisher (I’m still self-publishing short stories and collections) and, for a control freak, it’s hard to hand that off to a publisher – especially when your whole career as a writer depends on it! And the success was fantastic. Watching the stats from Amazon (obsessively watching, I should say) and seeing 400 books a day being bought is a wonderful feeling. Yet, in the end, I would much rather live without all that stress. I want to write, I don’t want to be a publisher or a marketer.
Q. What is your writing process? Do you do an outline first?
First comes the idea, the premise for the book. I work hard on making sure the idea is right, that it is strong enough to carry a whole, book-length story, that it is saying something I feel is important or worth people’s time and energy to engage with, and that it is going to support the involvement and development of strong, active characters as they work through their individual stories. I have ideas all the time, but ideas good enough to spend six months or a year exploring in detail as I write a novel are much more rare.
Then I do outlines, I do character biographies, I do some detailed world-building, work out histories (often future histories!) and I think a lot! It’s not the detailed kind of outlining that you see in some writing texts, or that a tool like Scrivener is there to support. It might only amount to a few pages of text in the end. Its main purpose is to get me started in the right direction and to convince me that there is enough material for a good book.
Then I start writing and all kinds of magic happens, new ideas start weaving their way through the Big Idea, characters take on depth and interest I hadn’t expected, and the plot elements start to become more elaborate and densely interconnected. I have no idea how this happens or how I could get all this richness on paper without actually writing the book, but I’ve written enough books now to feel confident that the magic will happen and that I can trust it.
Even so, I have a great many books I’ve begun like this and still, usually at the twenty-thousand-word mark, have set aside because they weren’t going well, or weren’t maintaining my interest.
Q. Who is your favorite author?
I don’t have one. There are loads of writers I admire and plenty I know I will enjoy whatever they’ve written, but there isn’t anyone I could point to and say, “She or he is my favourite.” In science fiction there are writers like Ursula K. le Guinn, Ray Bradbury, Greg Egan, Greg Bear, Gregory Benford, Isaac Asimov, John Wyndham, J. G. Ballard, James Blish, Brian Aldiss, Sherri Tepper, Alastair Reynolds, Kurt Vonnegut, C.J. Cherryh, and many others. Outside of sci-fi are Daphne du Maurier, Aldous Huxley, Michael Frayn, Graham Greene, Margaret Atwood, Anton Chekov, William Shakespeare, J.D. Salinger, Robert Goddard, Edna O’Brien, and stacks more.
Q. Any advice for new writers?
No, I haven’t. All new writers are different, start from different places, are going different places, and are working in different fields in different ways in different media. I can’t imagine any advice that would be useful to such a heterogeneous group. People tell writers to persist and to perfect their craft and so on, but that’s like telling a pole vaulter to keep vaulting and to use a long pole – so obvious, it’s useless.
The only thing I might say to a budding writer who wants to be published – or to anybody, wanting to succeed at anything involving selling products to large numbers of people – is that it’s harder to succeed if you do it alone. Writers don’t always get this. They think writing is a solitary pastime. Well, it is, but publishing is not. Publishing is a vastly collaborative effort that not only depends on teams of people working together but on wide networks of affiliated people talking to one another, meeting at conventions, mentioning things that help each other along, and generally supporting and encouraging one another. I’m introverted to the point of being troglodytic, but I have to admit that any success I’ve had is directly traceable to the efforts I’ve made to socialise with fellow writing professionals.
And, with that in mind, I’m always happy to hear from new people.
Readers, chat to me on Twitter, or visit my blog. If you’d like to hear more about Timesplash and its sequel, visit my author page on the publisher’s website, or my Amazon author’s page.
Sabine’s Note: Since this interview was originally posted in July 2013, Graham’s second novel True Path has also been released. Also, here is a link to an interview Graham did with me on The Demon Mages.
Having lost a bunch of posts since the publication of The Demon Mages, I am now in the process of putting things back together. After I self-published The Demon Mages, I did a number of posts on KDP select promotions (which I will try to put back together later) and how I managed to catapult The Demon Mages to No 3 position on the epic fantasy free list on Amazon.
While I search for those lost posts, here is a link to a guest post I did on My Ebook Journey about digital publishing.
And also, here is a re-post on KDP select:
The KDP select program can be quite useful to new authors who are looking for some extra exposure and visibility for their books. During a two day free run at Amazon, The Demon Mages peaked at No 3 in the sword and sorcery free fantasy list, and No 5 at epic fantasy free list. It also got listed in epic fantasy categories in UK, Germany and France.
As promised, here is a look at the free books lists that were helpful in making my KDP select program a success. But before that, let me add that I didn’t spend any money in advertising and promotion. Instead I used the Author Marketing Club site to check the various sites. If you are member at Author Marketing Club, you can use their tool to submit but if you are not a member, you can still open each site individually to submit.
Also, if you want to save time, you can pay 40 dollars at ebookbooster and they will submit your book to 45 sites. Or you can check the sites they list and submit yourself. It will take a long time, and you will need to be a bit organized but it’s worth the effort.
I submitted my book The Demon Mages to about 50 sites that list free books and only a few of of them actually listed it, but it was enough to boost the book to the top 5 on the free fantasy lists. Here are the sites that featured The Demon Mages:
Free book Dude
If you are an author looking to promote your book on KDP select, I wish you the best of luck.
Once you have accumulated about twenty rejections on your first story, it’s time to move on. You may keep working on that story and re-submitting it, but it’s better to start a second one. In six months you will have another completed story to submit, and you will be slightly better at plotting, characterization and dialogue. Always start writing a new story soon after submitting the last one.
Do you have any publishing tips you would like to share in this blog? Leave it in the comments, or contact me and I will post it here along with your name and a link to your blog.
Your first story probably will not sell, and second and third might not also. It’s nothing to get disappointed about. Writing has its own learning curve, and the more you write the better you will become. As you write more and more in the same genre, your stories will become increasingly original and complex. Don’t give up despite rejections.
Do you have any publishing tips you would like to share in this blog? Leave it in the comments, or contact me and I will post it here along with your name and a link to your blog.
Generally people think writers sit for hours lost in complex thoughts as they spin tales worthy of publication. The reality for most writers is far from true. New writers who are just starting on their publication journey tend to have day jobs, or in my case three kids. Writing time has to be carved out of a full daily calendar of jobs, chores and obligations.
On a normal day I might take an hour out while the youngest takes a nap to write. The laptop is always on so that if I get even fifteen minutes during the day I can blog, twitter, peek into Goodreads or check my email. When the story is about to finish I might stay up late to work at double speed to ensure I complete it in time for submission.
Most writers do the same. A few are the ones who have reached that stage of success where they can devote their entire working day to writing and publishing activities. They might even have offices in their home where they spend the day hours pounding at the laptop or giving approval for the galleys or cover art. The luxury of devoting every day to their career is an achievement.
It’s a success they have earned.
And yet even the most famous of writers may have an unglamorous life. He can walk into a restaurant and not be recognized. He can sit with his laptop at a coffee shop and no one will pay any attention. Most of a writer’s struggles and triumphs are internal. And yet it all stems from a deep, abiding love for storytelling.
The urge to write compels all of us to keep at it even when met with continuous rejection and failure.
The road to publication is paved with rejection letters. So if you are on the path to publication, hold on to that thought, and don’t give up. You will get there one day – and until then, happy writing!
Are you writing in your spare time?
Writing will break your heart?
It’s that time of the year again; a new beginning. Fresh goals. In order to set new targets for the coming year, one needs to foresee the future. The publishing industry has been rapidly changing for the past five years due to the invention of tablets and e-readers. It’s a wonderful technology that’s shaping the future of reading for generations to come.
Here are my predictions for some things that might happen in the publishing industry in the years 2013 and beyond:
1) More mergers will take place between established and big publishing houses in order to cut costs and to gain economies of scale.
2) Bigger publishing houses will open new digital imprints, such as Random House and Harlequin have already done. This will give a wonderful opportunity to those writers who are not as yet ready to self-publish. Digital imprints have lower costs, can provide a greater variety of genre fiction to readers and provide solid editing and marketing supports. Publishing market share will be won and lost in the e-publishing world in the next five years until things settle down.
3) E-book prices will reduce. Established writers might still be able to claim 7-8 dollars but as more and more digital imprints crowd the shelves, newer writers (self-published or digital publisher published) will have to sell at 2-4 dollars range in order to capture the readers.
4) Print publishing will reduce until its share of the market is about 20%, and no more. E-books will be the norm and print books will occupy a niche market.
5) Print bookstores will close. E-bookstores will also close, as e-market consolidates around a few big established players such as Amazon, Nook store, Kobo and iBookstore. All e-book stores will start to carry self-published books in order to offer a greater variety to readers.
All these changes indicate that the time is ripe for a writer who wishes to establish his identity. Write, write and write, without compromising on quality. Sell, sell and sell. Even if you make no headway in the beginning, persistence and patience will pay off.
When you start writing the first book there is a dream that one day it’s going to be available in book stores. Of course there is the possibility that it might get rejected a few times before finding the right publisher who will see its worth and decide to publish it. The first rejection letter is a blow to the soul, but it makes you feel brave and courageous. Not everyone has the guts to put their work out there, you console yourself. Eventually someone will see what you envisioned and the manuscript will translate into a published novel.
After the first rejection letter, you feel like a real writer. You are out there in the professional field, getting feedbacks and opinions. You are doing something, and there is the chance that you will achieve your dreams.
But things change…slowly.
What happens when your work is consistently rejected? How does it feel after the second rejection letter on the first story, or the tenth rejection letter on the fifth story? At what point do you stop feeling like a to-be-successful author, and start feeling more like a failed writer?
Will you ever make it?
It is during these particularly tiring days that you, dear writer, must be your own beacon of hope. So what if no one has recognized the worth of your work. One day someone will. Your job is to work hard, and continuously try to improve your style and voice. After all, practice makes perfect. You will fail only when you stop trying. Till you try, you remain a work in progress.
And don’t limit yourself to one particular genre, or a particular type of story. Be brave and take up new challenges. Write in different genres, write short stories and long novels. Always do something new and different. There are not many writers who can claim that they sold their first ever story, but there are many who will tell you that it took ten years, or the tenth story that finally got sold.
Be your own motivating force.
Are you Writing in your Spare Time?
Are writers Writing or Selling?
So today I stumbled upon Fantasy writer Rick Riordan’s blog. If you don’t know Rick, he is the writer of the extremely successful Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series. I have recently read the fourth book, and can personally vouch for the series. He is a great writer.
So anyway, on 26th January 2011, he wrote a post on Top five Misconceptions about Writing. It was a pretty long post, but one sentence struck me as amazing… “No book has ever been written because the author had spare time to write it.”
I not a famous writer (yet) and people still ask me as to how I find the time to write? Sure, I am a stay-at-home mom, with no less than three kids, and life’s a constant juggling act. Still, I don’t find the time to write. I MAKE the time to write.
Sometimes I do it when what I really want to do is to watch my favorite movie on tv. Sometimes I do it when I should be sleeping. There have been times when I have gotten up early to write while the kids were sleeping. I have given up reading a book in order to write.
Writing is not something I do when I have spare time. I do it because if I don’t write for a few days, I feel incomplete. I enjoy writing. It’s a part of my life. And I can’t give it up, just like I can’t give up reading, eating or sleeping. I write for myself. I write because it makes me feel good to see the words on the screen. I take pride in finishing one chapter after another until the entire story is there waiting to be told to someone else. I love editing because that’s like adding complicated layers that enhance the story.
So, dear writer next time someone asks you as to how you manage the time to write, tell them that you write from the heart and it’s not time you need but love.
Guaranteed Writing Success – What would you do?
Writing will break your heart