Syndication! YES!!

Thank goodness today is Friday! I’ve been holding onto this news all week…

The W.I.N. at Writing blog has been syndicated!!! I was approached last week by the Books Editor of Before It’s News, a web-based news portal that gets 10s of 1000s of visitors daily. The Books Editor asked if I would be willing to allow them to syndicate my blog and pull my feed for the Books section of their site. Well you know I said “heck yeah!” It is truly a honor and a blessing to know that my articles are found to be news worthy by my readers and that Before It’s News feels like the information found here can be beneficial to many more people. Thank you to Sebastian Clouth, Books Editor, and Before It’s News for finding the value in my blog.

Now that W.I.N. at Writing has been syndicated, I would love to start having a guest blogger once a month to write an article either on the topic of self publishing or memoir writing. However, if you’d like to submit an article on another topic related to the writing industry, I would be open to hear your suggestions as well. I am currently developing this part of my blogging life; but, if you are interested in being one of my guest bloggers in the future, please post a comment below and we will connect and get you scheduled.

On another note, the Inspired & Independent Book Club officially kicked off today! It’s not too late to join us in this month’s book reading — Chasing Superwoman: A Working Mom’s Adventure in Life and Faith by Sarah DiMickele. The Book Club has divided the book into 4 easy-to-read sections and one section is read each week. We then post our thoughts on that week’s section, with no spoilers if you read ahead, and at the end of the month we give a summary of our reading experience with the book in its entirety. Hop on over and join us. Christine and I have already posted our thoughts on the first week’s reading section.

Lastly, today is Day 1 of CampNaNoWriMo. I am doing CampNaNo this year, at least the June camp…haven’t decided if I’ll do the August camp as well. That’s 50,000 words written in a 30 day period. I am in a cabin with 5 others and we will be supporting and cheering each other on throughout the next 30 days of intensive writing. I hope to be able to finish my first draft by the end of camp, which I’m sure will be more than 50k words. That’s my goal so that I can then start the editing process and get this book published by the end of the year. If anyone is willing to read the finished first draft manuscript sometime in July of this year to give me your input, please let me know.

Whew! Lot’s of news for Friday Frivolities… More is better, so I ain’t complaining LOL!!! Have a GREAT weekend and I will “see” you all on Monday!

Advertisements

Hangouts on Google+

For today’s Thursday Themes, I thought I would take a moment to briefly discuss Google+ Hangouts. I say briefly because I am just learning about them myself…

One of the daily challenges for the Author Platform Challenge by Robert Lee Brewer that I’m running from my blog this month is to create a Google+ account for yourself. You must complete it fully — add your picture, bio, website, etc. — in order to ensure that this place to find you on the web is complete. After I completed the task of creating my account and updating my profile, I began to peruse what Google+ had to offer and think about how I could incorporate this social network into my writing life.

Then I stumbled upon Hangouts and I started digging deeper. Hangouts are essentially a private video chat room that you can invite your Google+ friends to and discuss whatever. You are able to connect up to 9 people via video and I believe others can participate in the chat by typing (those who don’t want to be on video, and those folks who join after 9 video connections have already been made). Hangouts also gives you the ability to allow “Hangouts On Air” which streams your video broadcast live on both your Google+ profile page and your YouTube channel. It’s a really neat feature of the site and I believe it can help a writer tremendously with building her platform and marketing herself.

Some of the uses for Hangouts, especially Hangouts On Air, that I have come up with include:

  1. Holding a virtual book reading of sections of your book.
  2. Holding a virtual discussion about your book or some aspect of your book.
  3. Holding webinars on industry topics such as self publishing and memoir writing.

The list goes on and on. I intend to use Hangouts for the Inspired & Independent Book Club so that we can meet at least monthly to summarize the book we’ve been reading together. Book clubs are so much more fun when you can get together in person and discuss the work. This will be a really great experience to add to the Book Club.

If you’d like to connect with me on Google+ or any of the social networks out there, I can be found:

Time to share…
Do you have a Google+ account? If so, do you use Hangouts/Hangouts On Air? How do you/would you use the Hangouts feature in your writing life?

Jackie Collins: Why She Chose to Self Publish

I read a great article recently about author Jackie Collins recently making the decision to self publish. She has a couple of reasons, but the one reason that struck me most:

“But times are changing, and technology is changing, and I wanted to experiment with this growing trend of self publishing.”

‘Nuff said… Ms. Collins hits the nail on the head. The trend is moving toward self publishing for many many many authors, both those already published and enjoying successful writing careers and those of us aspiring to get there.

Whether you decide to pursue traditional publishing or if you go down the self publishing path, I believe all authors should have at least one experience in self publishing. If you take the time to publish a work yourself, then you will have the clearest understanding of the publishing industry. You will know what it takes to get a book from finished manuscript in Microsoft Word, to a printed and bound work that is saleable to the public, as well as what it takes to get that now printed book sold and up on the ratings list.

Why would you want or need this information? Because information is power. Knowing the ropes and how to navigate them puts you in a very powerful position. You may get picked up by a traditional publisher. As a newbie, you wouldn’t know all the ins and outs and what you should negotiate for in your contract. But if you have experienced the process, then you have more information to use when negotiating that part of the contract. You have also had to push a book 100% by yourself — you are the publisher. What you learn while marketing your book and getting the sales numbers up is also invaluable information. Information that can then be used during contract negotiations with a traditional publisher…

So, get published. Self published. And learn the industry to its fullest extent. Place yourself in a position of power. The big boys of traditional publishing have done it for years. Now you can learn what they already know and use it to your advantage. Just like they have done. You should always be willing to learn something new in the industry and have it in your arsenal. It can only further your career. “Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave…”

If you would like to read the full article on Jackie Collins and her thoughts on self publishing, visit the Association of Independent Authors site. Not only for the article, but for the wealth of information that the site offers. The specific article can be found here.

Time to share…
What are your thoughts on what Ms. Collins had to say about her choice to self publish? Do you believe this is valuable information to have — even if your choice is to traditionally publish?

Self Publishing Options Today

With the advent of the digital revolution and the de-stigmatization of self publishing, the world has opened up to a slew of self publishing options. Print On Demand (POD) services and companies have multiplied exponentially. Book distributors such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble have either implemented or greatly enhanced their self publishing arms, with Amazon’s CreateSpace being one of the most well known and highly used self publishing service. Many authors are no longer trying to break down the doors of the big publishing houses to get published and are opting to self publish. Today we take a look at a few of the services available and what they offer.

CreateSpace
This is Amazon’s self publishing service. CreateSpace allows authors to upload their completed manuscripts and book covers and have their books printed on demand through Amazon. Authors also receive an eStore for their book, as well as distribution through Amazon’s distribution channels. Your book will obviously be on Amazon’s shelves, but can also receive national and international distribution through the Expanded Distribution option. You have the choice whether you want to use an Amazon ISBN or use your own*. One word of caution: using Amazon’s ISBN limits your ability to take your book elsewhere for distribution. My advice is to always obtain and use your own ISBN if you are going to self publish, no matter which service you use. You want to keep as much control over your work as possible. However, you must use an Amazon ISBN to be distributed to their Library and Academic channels.

For books purchased through your eStore, Amazon takes 20% plus fees; purchased through Amazon.com and they take a 40% share plus fees; finally, if you use their Expanded Distribution option, when your title sells they take a 60% share plus fees. Let’s look at an example book, paperback with 250 black and white pages, printed at the 6×9 trim size:

eStore: 20% + $0.85 fixed charge + $0.012 per page, these are CreateSpace charges. On a $14.99 book, that’s $3.00 + $0.85 + $3.00 for a grand total of $6.85 that Amazon takes out of your list price. This leaves you with a net royalty payment of $8.14, or roughly 55%.

Amazon.com: 40% + $0.85 fixed charge + $0.012 per page in charges. That’s $9.85 for them and $5.14 for the author, or roughly a 35% royalty rate.

Expanded Distribution: 60% + $0.85 fixed charge + $0.012 per page for a total of $12.85 to Amazon and $2.14 to the author. That’s just under a 15% royalty rate for the author. This service also comes with a one-time $25 per book fee to setup the service. *There are some limitations regarding using your own ISBN, so please be sure to read the information carefully.

This information is available on Amazon’s CreateSpace website and can be found here. This is their print services. To publish to Kindle, Amazon’s e-reader, you must go through a separate process with separate costs. Information about publishing to Kindle can be found here.

PubIt!
This is Barnes & Nobles’ self publishing platform.  This platform publishes your book in electronic format for the Nook — B&N’s e-reading device. According to their website, “PubIt automatically converts your digital files for viewing on NOOK, mobile, and computing devices.” Authors/publishers can upload their finalized manuscript to the PubIt service, which will format the book for publishing on NOOK. Their FAQ section has this question and answer:

  • Where are PubIt NOOK books sold? PubIt NOOK books are available for sale on BN.com, NOOK book reading devices and NOOK software for iPad, iPhone, Mac, Android, and PC.”

They have a two-tiered royalty rate:

  • For ebooks with a list price between $2.99 and $9.99, the author/publisher receives 65% of list.
  • For ebooks with a list price at or below $2.98 or greater than $10.00, the author/publisher enjoys 40% royalty.

This information is available on B&N’s PubIt website, which can be found here. If you would like to sell print books through B&N, that’s a whole different animal and process, which can be found here.

Lulu
Lulu is another well known self publishing operation.  For me, their website was not as forthcoming with information and pricing. In frustration, I finally gave up trying to track down true royalty rates — I’d never get this post written if I didn’t… However, I did learn that if you use your own ISBN, Lulu will then charge you a $75 fee for their GlobalReach distribution service. This gets your book on Amazon, B&N’s, Baker & Taylor, and other widely known booksellers shelves. It also gives brick & mortar stores the opportunity to order and stock your work on their physical shelves. Their other distribution service, which is free, — ExtendedReach — cannot be used if you use your own ISBN number. They only offer this service if you get a Lulu provided ISBN. Remember what I said about ISBNs in the Amazon paragraph…

With some digging, I was able to find a “How much will my book cost?” question/page. It can be found here and it lists Lulu’s production costs. Then, I was able to find their “Retail Price Calculator.” Here is where you go to price your book, but you need to determine the amount (in dollars) that you would like to see as your royalty. Input that number, the number of pages in your work and a few other key pieces of information and the calculator does the rest. Using $8.14 — the amount of royalty money you would receive using CreateSpace and selling through your Amazon eStore — Lulu then prices your title at $33.35. No, I didn’t mistype that: $8.14 author/publisher royalty, $2.04 Lulu fee, $6.50 manufacturing cost per unit, and retail markup of $16.68. Maybe I am misunderstanding how this calculator is used, but I don’t think I am…

* * * * *

I could go on and on listing possible self publishing services. There’s iUniverse and SmashWords, and a whole host of others… However, to give you just the tip of the iceberg should be enough for me to get you to put your researcher’s hat on and start comparing notes. If you are thinking about self publishing — print or electronic format or both — then you first need to do your homework. Don’t hop on the first bandwagon that drives past you. Weigh your options. Keep your goals in sight. What are you trying to accomplish by publishing? Will your book be best served in print, electronically, or both? What are your distribution goals — how far and wide of a reach do you want? Are you ready to sell books out of the trunk of your car, after paying manufacturing costs and buying your own books?

There is no “one size fits all” in the self publishing arena, just as there are none in traditional publishing. Each written work has its own merits and strengths to sell copies. Each work has a target audience and the author has thought about how best to reach that target (and if you didn’t, you better!). Not everyone has a Kindle, Nook, or other e-reader; nor does everyone wish to read their books electronically. Most of what I read is in e-format, but I honestly would prefer a book in my hand. I purchase e-books for the travel convenience — I am a daily commuter… Do your research and don’t just run to Amazon because you heard they offer 70% royalty (that’s actually a Kindle royalty rate, and it comes with lots of “if’s, but’s, and and’s” before you can get that rate).

Self publishing can be a great alternative to the traditional publishing arena. The stigma of self publishing is not what it used to be. You can hold your head high and proclaim you are a self published author without people giggling in the background, thinking you’ve “bought” your way into being a published author. However, just like you have to do your research to be traditionally published — what publishers are looking for your type of manuscript, finding and securing a literary agent who is also looking for works in your genre, etc. — you have to do some to get the best bang for your buck in self publishing. Although most POD and e-book providers offer their services for free, it’s still at a cost. It takes your time and sometimes great effort (formatting, proofing, reformatting, resubmitting, etc.) which are dollars and cents. Every second you are not writing is another penny that you aren’t earning. Self publishing puts you in the driver’s seat, taking time away from your writing. Know which destination you are headed for and what their process is before your manuscript is finalized so that there is no delay in self publishing.

My Thoughts on Self Publishing

“Traditional publishing is dead, a victim of its own self importance. Writers of the world, step over the carcasses of the troglodytes. A new world awaits, and it’s all about you.”
Dan Poynter, Self Publishing Manual, Vol 2


I couldn’t agree with this sentiment more…

There has never been a question in my mind about which publishing route I would take. Traditional versus Self Publish. I always knew I was a self-publishing kind of girl… I am definitely a DIY’er and self publishing simply falls right in line. I am also a bit of a control freak. To turn the manuscript that I slaved over for months or years and have someone who is not in my head proceed to butcher — I mean edit — it into what their opinion of what my message should be gives me the willies. My editor works with me to massage the manuscript into my vision, not hers…

I started writing many many years ago. When I started, one of the first reference books I purchased was Dan Poynter’s original Self Publishing Manual. It became my publishing bible. Sadly, I cannot find my copy so the other day I went on Amazon to pick up another. I was elated to find Mr. Poynter had written a sequel, which the opening quote to this article was taken from. Being in eBook format. I squealed as I waited for the lightening fast transaction to complete so I could go from receipt onscreen to eagerly devouring the pages in my cloud reader app. I did buy the original as well, but it’s only available in print version (or Smashwords, which I didn’t want to deal with)…

To read just a few pages into the sequel and come across such a perfect gem of a quote couldn’t have been better. Mr. Poynter makes an emphatic, no nonsense statement on what’s happened in the publishing arena and why. So true that the traditional publishers harmed themselves by not embracing the digital revolution. They blew that new fangled toy called “the Internet” off as a passing fad that would never be able to touch the big boys.

Not only did the Internet age revolutionize the way books were sold (online v bookstore shelf), it gave new options to both authors and readers. Authors now had the ability to create and nurture their own relationships with book distributors. The advent of Amazon opened doors unimaginable to many. And then someone created digital books…

Traditional publishers were already scrambling to embrace technology. They realized that they needed to bring their catalogs online and quickly. The ease and convenience with which readers were now able to purchase was unmatched, and they never saw it coming. Meanwhile, the digital revolution had begun its progression to the next phase in making reading and buying books easier. The electronic book. Now patrons could purchase a book and start reading it virtually instantly. No more waiting for packages of books to be delivered. They had already all but abandoned trips to the bookstore.

Many smaller traditional publishers could not weather the storm and either folded or were absorbed by a larger publishing house. We ended up with a handful of power houses — publishing houses so large and with such deep pockets that they just knew they could continue to pay little attention to the writing on the wall. Pun intended. They made minor changes simply to have a finger in what was happening, but felt it worth not much more of their attention than that. And they continued to play god in the lives of authors and aspiring authors. They continued to operate like they had all the keys to the castle.

All the while authors and those writers who continued to be rejected made a new discovery — self publishing with ease minus the previous stigma. The advent of the Internet and all the changes it brought about caused a very pleasant turn of events for the self publishing arena. The stigma normally associated with being a self published author was greatly diminished and swiftly vanishing. More and more authors, including nationally recognized best selling authors, were considering and choosing to self publish. And the big boys never saw it coming…

They never thought the Internet would make much impact on the way they did business.

They never thought their loyal customer base would ever change with the tide and start purchasing online.

They never though the invention of the eBook and eReaders would have much impact. People were used to having, and wanted to continue feeling, a “real” book in their hands…

They never thought they would be de-throned by technology.

And their actions, or lack thereof, caused them to be “a victim of its own self importance.”

Dan Poynter said it best. I imagine a publishing world where the coin has been completely flipped in the very near future. Where self publishing is the norm and traditional publishing is the exception. Where writers turn to traditional publishing so they won’t be literally “starving artists” — they will be able to live off the advance given when traditionally published. Where traditional publishers will have to offer all authors advances and better royalties just to get them to sign. You know…much like how the world of self publishing used to be and the author paid hefty fees to get their books published. And then they were labeled. They had “bought” their book publishing. They weren’t good enough to be picked up by a traditional house…

Now the label will be for traditionally published authors. They’ll be labeled as “sell outs,” but only because they chose not to fully live the writer’s life and be a starving artist. It will be a fun label; not one in which their book sales will be hurt for the benefit of the big boys. Their prose won’t be marked substandard simply because they didn’t self publish, as self published authors used to be labeled because they chose to self publish.

Self publishing is here to stay. It’s no longer taboo to be a self published author. Yes, we all still aspire to be “picked up” for now — why wouldn’t any author? However, technology has greatly leveled the playing field and allowed more good authors to release their works. It also created a much larger pool of poor writing to sift through; but that’s an article for a different day…

Time to share…
What is your take on self publishing? Does it still carry the old stigma of being a substandard writer who couldn’t get picked up? Do you plan to self publish — even if you will also attempt to be traditionally published?

Dan Poynter is a well known author and known by many for his Self Publishing Manual. He runs Para Publishing and has a website that offers a wealth of information to authors and aspiring writers. Visit Mr. Poynter at Para Publishing by clicking here.