Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

01/25/2013

Self-Published Authors To Traditional Publishers: “You had your chance.”


“You should have treated us better”

Today Traditional publishers (TPs) are actively seeking self-published authors who come with their own following and fan base — a complete 180 degree turnaround from just a few months ago (or is it a few years ago now?)

But, due to freedom-from-hassle and time-saving publishing platforms on scene today, many writers are actually turning down the TP publishers after they DO proffer a contract deal — Too much loss of newly acquired control I would say 🙂

Could it be the big publishing houses are now beginning to lose some of their established contract writers due to diminishing operating budgets? And, if these last vestiges of revenue-generating talent do leave — what the hell would the TPs do ? They better develop a constant stream of incoming new talent  — but, if the new talent is beginning to flip them the finger for past abusive policies (not to mention their new, tech-endowed power), the talent stream will dry up and the TPs will just fade away.

They had their chance.

, a contributor to the Good E-Reader blog, posted these insightful thoughts on this subject:

The Self vs Traditional Publishing Debate Continues 

While authors and industry experts on both sides of the table have almost come to a consensus that there are benefits to both self-publishing and traditional publishing, it almost feels as though some more hardcore fans of either side still won’t lay to rest their original sentiments about the other camp. Publisher’s Weekly took note of a recent promotion by Amazon of a traditional-turned-indie author, what some in the industry are now referring to as a hybrid author, and the tone of the original announcement by Amazon is almost inflammatory.

Amazon posted the publishing journey of author Vincent Zandri, who admittedly had a rocky start in what was almost an illustrious traditionally published career. After being promised a $250,000 advance, a number so high compared to some advances now that it’s almost laughable, his novel never went where he thought it would because of cost-cutting in the traditional publishing industry, especially within the major publishing houses. His book was published with little fanfare, and the sequel was never even released in hardcover.

Amazon’s post went on to explain how the Kindle Direct Publishing option became a lifesaver for Zandri, who met up with a smaller publisher who bought the rights to both of his books and republished them via Kindle. And while this story has a happy ending for Zandri and his writing career, it ultimately feels like more of the finger-pointing that once kept self-publishing and digital-only published authors away from the cool kids table in publishing.

Now that the traditional publishing industry is beginning to embrace self-published authors, seeing them as a talent pool of writers who come complete with their own firmly established followings and fan bases, it almost feels like the self-published authors want nothing to do with the industry they once couldn’t join. While acknowledging that a high number of hybrid authors are still hoping to be “discovered” and picked up by a traditional publisher a la Amanda Hocking or Tina Reber, it’s beginning to look as though the self-published authors are collectively telling the industry that once wouldn’t let them in: “You had your chance.”

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10/31/2011

Varied Results From Self-Publishing – Inside Some Money Numbers


Can I Make Money by Self-Publishing 🙂 ??

As most people can surmise, your success (at least initially) in digital self-publishing is directly related to your fame as an established author. Some with a rep can bring in rather large sums with an e-book.

Newbie authors, however, face another reality …  A reality with graded success … BUT, with talent coupled with diligence, the newbies will soon attain a following and hence become famous incrementally until they, too, will master larger profit sums. In the meantime, they can enjoy making at least some bucks while getting their written work published and read. 

You might call digital self-publishing today a somewhat paid query letter with benefits … Beats the hell out of outright rejections by some third-party gatekeeper, huh?

This from Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg in the online Wall Street Journal:

Secret of Self-Publishing: Success

Authors With a Following Make Money Going It Alone, but It’s a Slog for Others

Self-publishing these days is increasingly a tale of two cities.

There are established authors, like Nyree Belleville, who says she’s earned half a million dollars in the past 18 months selling direct rather than through a publisher..

Then there are new authors, like Eve Yohalem. More than a month after self-publishing, she has grossed about $100 in sales— after incurring costs of $3,400. She said she’s in no rush, though.

Vanity presses have been available for decades. But thanks to digital technology and particularly the emergence of e-books, the number of self-published titles exploded 160% to 133,036 in 2010 from 51,237 in 2006, estimates R. R. Bowker, which tracks the publishing business.

Amazon.com Inc. fueled the growth by offering self-published writers as much as 70% of revenue on digital books, depending on the retail price. By comparison, traditional publishers typically pay their authors 25% of net digital sales and even less on print books.

For some established authors, these terms can make self-publishing a financial home run. Ms. Belleville, for instance, a veteran romance author who wrote for seven years under the pseudonym Bella Andre and a year as Lucy Kevin, self-published her first e-book in April 2010. She has since cumulatively sold 265,000 units of 10 self-published titles, most priced between $2.99 and $5.99. Her total take from those 10 titles since last April: in excess of $500,000 after expenses, she says. Previously, the most she ever made from a book was $33,000.

Self-published women’s fiction writer Darcie Chan has seen her new work, “The Mill River Recluse,” hit No. 5 on The Wall Street Journal’s list of digital fiction bestsellers for the week ended Oct. 23. Ms. Chan priced her novel about a secretive widow living in Vermont at 99 cents, and says she has sold “hundreds of thousands” of copies since it went on sale on Amazon in May. The book, also carried by Barnes & Noble Inc. and other e-retailers, was previously rejected by major publishing houses.

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06/21/2011

First Truly Indie Published Author Sells One Million E-Books on Kindle Direct Publishing


Self-Published Author John Locke

John Locke is the eight author to join the Kindle Million Club, but the very first independently self-published author to do so. Of course, the other seven members are all big-name authors: Stieg Larson, James Patterson, Nora Roberts, Suzanne Collins, Michael Connelly, Charlaine Harris, and Lee Child.

Details in PC Mag by Leslie Horn:

For the First Time, a Self-Published Author Sells a Million Kindle eBooks

Amazon is marking a milestone for its self-publishing platform today. John Locke has secured his status as the first independently published author to sell more than a million Kindle e-books using Kindle Direct Publishing.

Locke is the eighth author to become a member of what Amazon calls the “Kindle Million Club,” joining other big-name authors like Stieg Larson, James Patterson, Nora Roberts, Suzanne Collins, Michael Connelly, Charlaine Harris, and Lee Child. Locke, however, is in a bit of a different league, considering he’s the first indie author to join the group.

“It’s so exciting that self-publishing has allowed John Locke to achieve a milestone like this,” vice president of Kindle Content Russ Grandinetti said in a statement. “We’re happy to see Kindle Direct Publishing succeeding for both authors and customers.”

Locke has written a total of seven international best-sellers, including such titles as “Saving Rachel,” “Wish List,” “A Girl Like You,” and “Don’t Poke the Bear.” He’s also penned a how-to guide for self-published authors like himself called “How I Sold 1 Milllion eBooks in 5 Months.”

“Kindle Direct Publishing has provided an opportunity for independent authors to compete on a level playing field with the giants of the book selling industry,” Locke said. “Not only did KDP give me a change, they helped at every turn. Quite simply, KDP is the greatest friend an author can have.”

Locke’s Web site claims that every seven seconds, somebody somewhere in the world is downloading one of his books.

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11/29/2009

The Keys to a Barnes and Noble Book Signing


Getting book signings at major bookstore chains is a real plus in marketing and selling your book. However, if you are self-published or have a print-on-demand (POD) book, it is more difficult to arrange these type of book signings.

But, do not despair! There are ways around the obstacles to obtain major bookstore signings AND other means available to you: independent bookstore signings and speaking engagements with backroom sales that allow you to keep more of the retail price, to name two.

Sallie Goetsch, a writer and small business consultant, has written an insightful article on ezinearticles.com explaining how to best obtain book signings, what the major chain book stores have to go through to provide you with one and what you need to have in place to land a major signing. I present her article here for your information:

Dan Poynter wrote in Successful Nonfiction that authors should never host autograph parties. Instead of merely signing their books, the thing to do was offer “mini-seminars.” In an August 27th, 2006 interview with Tee Morris for “The Survival Guide to Writing Fantasy,” Annie Hololob, Community Relations Manager for the Harrisonburg, VA Barnes & Noble, confirms the value of making your book signing into an event. (Tee himself apparently has a habit of staging sword fights during his book signings, which definitely livens things up.) If you want to have an event at a Barnes & Noble, the Community Relations Manager is the person to talk to. This is the person who knows whether the store’s customers are the right market for your book, or whether you’d do better at a store in a different city. (My local Barnes & Noble, for instance, doesn’t even have author events, just a children’s story time.) This is the person whose good side you want to get on.

There are two important things you need before you start assembling your press kit and cultivating the CRM at your local Barnes & Noble, however. Without them, there’s no way the store can carry your books. Large chain bookstores have to operate by certain rules in order to stay in business, and those rules may exclude you and your book for reasons that have nothing to do with your merits as a writer.

Distribution

In order for BN to order, stock, and sell your books, they have to be available through a wholesaler or distributor such as Ingram or Baker & Taylor–one BN already has a relationship with. That means BN can buy the book at a wholesale price, usually 40-60% off the cover price, without going to extra trouble to special-order it. If your book is traditionally published, there should be no problem with this. One of the reasons for choosing to go with a major publisher or established small press is that they are already BN Vendors of Record. The traditionally self-published, those like Dan Poynter who start their own publishing companies, can become Vendors of Record by filling out the BN Publisher Information Form.

The authors who run into real trouble in the distribution department are those with POD books. These books may be good-looking and high quality. They may even be available through Baker & Taylor or Ingram. But unless ordered in very high quantities, they are offered only for the retail price. BN’s standard order when dealing with a new publisher is two copies of every title. Even an order of 30-50 books for a signing isn’t going to provide enough of a profit margin to make it worth the bookstore’s while. And because Print on Demand books are literally printed only when ordered, each copy is much more expensive to produce than a comparable mass-produced book.

Returns

The other thing that keeps POD books-and their authors-out of chain stores like Barnes & Noble is the lack of a returns policy. Bookstores expect to be able to return all unsold books to a publisher, and not to pay the publisher for any of the books until after they sell. Unsold books aren’t even returned intact: the covers get ripped off and they’re sent away to be pulped. (I kid you not. I was horrified to learn this, even after reading all those warnings about not buying books without covers.)

POD houses don’t warehouse books and can’t provide that kind of returns policy, and very few self-published authors are going to want to. But no matter how barbaric a practice pulping is, it’s a fact of life at all major book outlets, and Barnes & Noble didn’t invent it. Nor does a Community Relations Manager have the power to bend the rules about this, however flexible s/he may be about the form your signing takes if you can meet the store’s requirements.

Alternatives

If you’re a self-published or POD author and touring the major chain bookstores is something you can’t live without, you can try to interest a traditional publisher in your book, though you need to make sure that you really own the book in its current form before you do this. (Most POD houses lay claim to the final, formatted version of your book, though the content remains yours.)

Or you can skip Barnes & Noble altogether and hold your book events elsewhere. Independent bookstores are often in a better position than large chains to take a chance on an author, though they, too, need to be able to buy the books at a low enough price to make a profit. Public libraries are almost always willing to accept the donation of a book or two and host a reading.

And, of course, if you make your living as a speaker, back-of-room sales may be your best bet and an opportunity to take advantage of the plus side of self-publishing and POD: getting to keep a far greater percentage of the book’s retail price.


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