Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

12/28/2012

Beware of ‘Author Services’ Shops in 2013


"Need some author services, buddy?"

“Need some author services, buddy?”

The burgeoning self-publishing world has exploded a need for so-called ‘author services’ — you know, the services that used to be provided by the traditional publishers (TPs) if your manuscript was chosen from a gazillion other entries. Services such as editing, proofing, book production, packaging, and distribution, as well as back office tasks such as accounts receivable, accounts payable and year-end tax reporting.

These ‘author services’ shops exist now to some degree but will propagate wildly in the coming year.

So, before you spend ANY money (and most probably needlessly) heed this insight from Smashwords founder, Mark Coker, in this article by Jason Boog:

Mark Coker Predicts: ‘More money will be made in author services than in book sales.’

In his 2013 Book Publishing Industry Predictions, Smashwords founder Mark Coker included this warning for aspiring writers: “In the self-publishing gold rush, more money will be made in author services than in book sales.”

All independent writers need to remember this advice as we head into the new year. We asked How Much Should Self-Publishing Cost? in November and received a wide-range of responses. Indie authors can pay everything from nothing to $50,000 in an effort to publish their work.

Here’s more from Coker: “With the shift to self-publishing, writers must carry the publishing burdens once borne by traditional publishers, such as the cost of editing, proofing, book production, packaging, and distribution, as well as backoffice tasks such as accounts receivable, accounts payable and year-end tax reporting … With this burgeoning demand for professional publishing services, thousands of service providers will open up virtual author services shops in 2013. The challenge for writers is to procure the highest quality services at the lowest cost. Plenty of scamsters and over-priced service providers will be standing by to help.” 

Coker also included two tips for keeping your self-publishing work at a respectable cost. Here is his first tip:

As I write in Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success, pinch your pennies.  As a self published author, you’re the publisher.  You’re running a business.  The lifeblood of a business is profit, because profit generates cash.  If you run out of cash, you go out of business.  Since profit equals sales minus expenses, and sales are difficult to predict and often minimal, it’s important to minimize expenses.  DIY as much as possible, especially when you’re starting out. Invest your sweat equity (your time and talent) first.  If you can’t afford editing, barter for editing, and leverage beta readers.  Once you start earning a profit, then carefully reinvest.  Never borrow money to finance your ebook publishing adventure. Never spend money you need to pay the mortgage or to put bread on your table.

Read and learn more

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06/14/2011

Are Some Editors Too F**king Uppity?


Slash & Burn Editor

It seems some editors have admitted to canning a complete manuscript sent to them because they found a “technical” (grammatical) error on the first page!…Damn! Christ, in his second coming, wouldn’t stand a chance of surviving another crucifixion with these excessively puckered wordsmiths. 

I feel that correcting these type of technical, grammatical errors is actually part of the goddamned editors job. Hell, editors that judge the whole manuscript content based on an incorrect word structure or phrasing mistake (of which, by the way, all the past, great authors were guilty) are simply lousy at their perceived function in life.

Having said that…here is an editors view by Ann Patty in Publishing Perspectives that cocked my trigger and with which I respectfully disagree in part:   

Learn the F**king Rules! 

Dumb errors in books and e-books are becoming more commonplace — but do overstretched publishers give a damn?

I was delighted to see the New York Times article last week about Johnny Temple’s success with Go the F*ck to Sleep. In this era of groupthink at the large publishers, it’s cause for celebration when a small house such as Akashic Books not only succeeds with a bold bet, but even manages to hang on to the property when the corporate sharks circle. Alas, my delight turned to consternation when I read the verse quoted in the article.

“The cats nestle close to their kittens,

The lambs have laid down with the sheep.

You’re cozy and warm in your bed, my dear.

Please go the ____ to sleep.”

Even my Word program, as I typed the above, knows that the second line should read “The lambs have lain down with the sheep.” Such a mistake, with a word whose meter and rhyme is incidental in the line, in poetry!

In my many years as an editor, the most frequent lesson I’ve had to impart to writers — from fledglings to award winners to mega-bestsellers — is about the difference between the transitive verb lay, laid, laid and the intransitive verb lie, lay, lain. Some authors get it; some never do, even after eight or nine books. That’s why there are editors and copy editors and proofreaders, right?

Where was the editor on Go the F*ck to Sleep? Where was the copy editor, the proofreader? How did that laid slip by them? Isn’t it their job to protect the writer from such an embarrassing mistake?

Read and learn more

01/13/2011

Decoding the Business-Side of Being an Author


Online booksellers are continuously working on new platforms that make the publishing and selling of books easier for authors of all grades. Amazon and other onliners have come up with all kinds of dashboards that give author-clients instant, realtime info on their books’ sales, campaigns, visits, sample reads, etc…Data that traditional publishing furnished to its authors much more slowly and with less detail through BookScan.

Sarah Lacy of TechCrunch wrote the following article giving more details:

First Amazon Took Down Booksellers…Are Publishers Next?
  
It’s not that Amazon set out to destroy small book stores. They just offered a better option for a large number of people. Now, Amazon is increasingly offering small features here and there that taken together may start to make a traditional publisher a lot less necessary for authors.No one is more shocked by that sentence than I am. While I’ve jumped firmly from old-media to new-media when it comes to articles and videos, I’ve remained a big believer that self-publishing via eBook isn’t yet a viable option for most authors, assuming you want a lot of people to read your book. It’s just not personally satisfying either. A book is something I spend years of my life writing– usually for a comparatively small amount of money — and I want to hold it once all the pain is over. I want it to sit on my coffee table.  I want it reviewed in the New York Times. And I want to walk in a book store and see it on the shelf. In most cases, only a traditional publisher can do that for me.

Don’t get me wrong–  I’m sure I will sell more eBooks than physical books this year and over my lifetime. But without the vetting, marketing, distribution and clout of a major publisher, I doubt I’d sell many of either. The first question anyone asks an author is, “Who’s publishing you?” Much like how the WashingtonPost.com relies on the brand and legacy of the Washington Post, unless you are a huge name, you need the anchor of a “real book” for your eBook to do well and be taken seriously. That’s just reality.

But it won’t always be reality, and Amazon has quietly been doing small things on Author Central to help authors take more control. My second book comes out later this month, so I’ve been taking a close look at the services Amazon offers to authors. It’s changed dramatically since my last book was published in 2008.

Read and learn more

 

08/24/2010

Best-selling Author Dumps Traditional Publishers


The publishing and book world is ABUZZZZZ with the news that Seth Godin, a top selling marketing author, is dumping his traditional publisher because they take too long to get his product to his readers AND he has developed a close enough relationship with his readers, through his online blog, that he feels he can sell directly to them and dispense with the laborious publishers.

Phew! That was a long and laborious sentence, I’m out of breadth…It says a lot though:

First, it points out the importance of blogs to establish an author’s online platform and relationships.

Second, life is too short to waste it jumping through the traditional publishing hoops.

Third, the internet can tell you just who your readers are (and provide better tracking).

This from Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg of the Wall Street Journal:

In a significant defection for the book industry, best-selling marketing author Seth Godin is ditching his traditional publisher, Portfolio, after a string of books and plans to sell his future works directly to his fans.

The author of about a dozen books including “Purple Cow” said he now has so many direct customer relationships, largely via his blog, that he no longer needs a traditional publisher. Mr. Godin plans to release subsequent titles himself in electronic books, via print-on-demand or in such formats as audiobooks, apps, small digital files called PDFs and podcasts.

“Publishers provide a huge resource to authors who don’t know who reads their books,” said Mr. Godin in an interview. “What the Internet has done for me, and a lot of others, is enable me to know my readers.”

It’s unclear how many, if any, best-selling authors will follow Mr. Godin’s lead. However, his departure from Portfolio, an imprint owned by Pearson PLC’s Penguin Group (USA), comes at a critical juncture for the industry. With many new titles spending less time on best-seller lists and in bookstores, publishers are increasingly dependent on brand-name authors such as Mr. Godin to deliver significant book sales.

Read more http://alturl.com/keqy6

07/15/2010

Big-Name Authors Sign Directly with E-book Retailers


Is big publishing getting the boot ?

At first, lesser-known and newbie authors were signing with E-book retailers; but now big-name authors are joining the trend and by-passing the middleman traditional publishers and signing directly with eBook retailers like Amazon, Smashwords and other companies !
More and more established authors are signing on the digital, multi-media publishing bandwagon…The latest is Ryu Murakami, author of Coin Locker Babies among others.

This report from the Wall Street Journal by Yoree Koh goes into more detail:

Ever since the arrival of the slim and snazzy electronic book devices, the magnates of the traditional publishing industry have feared the worst: that precious big-name authors might sign directly with e-book retailers, relegating the old-school publishers as the dispensable middleman.

Let the nightmare begin. Novelist Ryu Murakami plans to release his latest novel exclusively for digital bookworms through Apple Inc.’s iPad ahead of the print version. Mr. Murakami, the acclaimed author of over 15 novels including “Coin Locker Babies” and “In the Miso Soup”, replaced the publishers with a software company to help develop the e-book titled “A Singing Whale,” or “Utau Kujira” in Japanese. The digital package will include video content and set to music composed by Academy Award winning composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, according to the Japanese business daily Nikkei. The newspaper reports the e-book will cost 1,500 yen ($17) and will be ready to download pending Apple’s approval. Apple Japan and Mr. Murakami did not respond to requests for comment at the time of publication.

Mr. Murakami’s decision is the latest step taken by well known authors in re-writing the business model of the publishing industry – but it’s a step beyond what others have done. In April, the master penman of suspense, Stephen King, released the e-book edition of his newest work “Blockade Billy” one month before the hardcover version published by Scribner, an imprint of New York publishing giant Simon and Schuster, hit retail outlets in the U.S. and Canada. Mr. King also published a story, UR, exclusively for Kindle, the popular e-book reader produced by Amazon, around the time a newer version of the device was released in February 2009.

In December of last year, Amazon scored another success when business guru Steven Covey granted the online retailer exclusive e-book rights for two of his best-selling books for one year. Until recently, Mr. Covey’s move to shift older titles, also known as backlist titles – the warehouse of past best-selling books with strong staying power that provide publishers a steady revenue stream each year – to the digital sphere has been the more common rebellion among successful wordsmiths. Brazilian writer Paul Coehlo and the estate of the late American novelist William Styron also moved the rights to sell e-book editions of older works to Amazon.

But in offering fresh material only in an electronic format, Mr. Murakami’s plan has basically removed the traditional book publisher from the calculation entirely. Mr. Murakami’s past novels have been published by venerated Japanese companies like Kodansha. The company wasn’t immediately available for comment. The new equation, in theory, would give authors a bigger chunk of royalties. Mr. Murakami said his initial goal of 5,000 downloads would cancel out the investment costs, and if the plan is approved, Apple will receive 30% of the revenue with the rest to be parsed among Mr. Murakami, Mr. Sakamoto and the software company, according to the Nikkei.

UPDATE, 14:05 p.m. JST: Kodansha, Murakami’s publisher responds, saying it’s talking to the novelist about releasing a hard copy version of “A Singing Whale”, though nothing has been finalized.

Read this post in Japanese/日本語訳はこちら≫

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