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How to Navigate a Book Contract

Have you ever actually seen one of these things? I’d describe it as lengthy, full of legalese and well to be honest, intimidating which is precisely why I’m going to provide you with an article to help you navigate!

Morris Rosenthal (http://www.fonerbooks.com/contract.htm) shares tips and advice to help you navigate the contract, before you sign. Click on the link for the full article and to watch videos (for a more personal flair!):

“Grant of Rights

Here the author grants the publisher the right to publish the work, as protected by copyright law. For most authors this means the exclusive worldwide rights, including all derivative works, etc. While it’s not in the interests of the author to give up anything without negotiation, the publisher is frequently in a better position than the author to exploit these rights (such as publishing translations), which will result in further payments to the author. If the author believes the work is likely to become a smash TV hit or the next big Christmas toy, the derivative rights could be the plum of the book contract.

Competing Works

Many non-fiction publishers try to get an author to commit to a non-compete clause. In a non-compete clause, the author agrees not to produce another work that competes with the title under contract without prior permission of the publisher. It’s usually not in the interest of an author to write books that compete with each other, since this fractionates the market and may cause both books to fail. Experienced authors will not sign a contract with a non-compete clause, and publishers aren’t going to promise not to publish books that compete directly with the author’s, so it’s just a bad deal. If the publisher insists on a non-compete from a new author, it should at least be narrowed to the point that the only way to violate it would be to write an essentially identical book. If you’ve signed a book contract with a non-compete, it’s worth talking to a lawyer to find out just how limited you really are.

Author’s Warranty

The author is asked to guarantee that the work is actually theirs to sell, not plagiarized, stolen, or already sold to another publisher. This includes rights for any materials or illustrations in the book that the author didn’t create. A paraphrase of the final line in this clause goes something like: “This warranty goes on forever and we’ll dig you up to pay our legal fees if we get sued.” This is really scary stuff because the author could get stuck paying NYC lawyer fees for a frivolous suit. While publishers will rightfully insist on an author’s warranty, the language should limit the author’s liability to pay the publisher’s legal costs for something that isn’t the author’s fault. Keep any permissions you get from contributors in your long term files and keep your fingers crossed.

Manuscript Preparation

The deliverable of a publishing contract is the manuscript, which is outlined here in size and content, including counts for the number of pages, words and illustrations. Acquisitions editors can be very casual about this description, even if the author has a pretty exact idea what the final numbers will be, primarily to maintain the maximum flexibility. There’s no reason they shouldn’t agree to describe the book as exactly what the author has agreed to write. The actual form of the manuscript is also detailed here, normally a Word file is required, though a couple printed copies and any artwork may also required. If the book will have an index, some reference to how that index will be prepared is often mentioned here or in a later paragraph. Authors shouldn’t be asked to pay the expense of creating an index, but some book contracts casually charge a couple thousand dollars against author royalties, or several dollars per book page. While the author should be willing to create an index if requested, paying the publisher to do it is ridiculous, and this language should be stricken from the contract.

Viability and Publication Delay

The publisher will also include language granting them the right to reject the manuscript the author presents, and either requiring changes or canceling the book contract. Determining the fitness of a manuscript for publication may sound like a subjective judgement, but a book contract should contain some description of what makes a manuscript “fit for publication” to allow the author to contest the issue if the publisher cancels the book after the manuscript is submitted. Some books are years in the making, and the more time an author invests in a work the more important it is to nail down the conditions that must be met for publication. The author should also seek some language limiting the publisher’s right to make changes beyond routine copy-editing without the author’s approval. If the book is cancelled for any reason, the author should retain the advance money paid, and the full rights to the work should revert to the author for potential sale elsewhere.

Copyright

The publisher will often seek to register the copyright in place of the author. There may be some financial benefit to the publisher in owning the copyright if somebody actually infringes on it, since the proceeds of a lawsuit might then go to the publisher and not the author. However, the author has already assigned the rights to publish the book at the beginning of the contract, so even if the author retains the copyright, it doesn’t mean the book remains the author’s property. For what it’s worth, the professional author’s organization I belong to strongly recommends that authors retain their copyrights.

Proofing and Editing

The publisher will reserve the right to make revisions, which will ideally be subject to the author’s approval. Whether or not that approval is required, the author must promptly review revisions for errors. Publishers also establish a level of changes which they will allow the author to make in the final stages of production, often 10% or 15% of the cost of preparing the proofs, above which the author will be charged against royalties. That may be fair if the author is trying to substantially rewrite the manuscript late in the production process. However, there should be no fee for correcting problems that are due to the publisher or their outsourced book designer introducing a large number of errors, whatever the cost. When an outsourced book designer ruined a book of mine such that every page had to be redone, the publisher “generously” agreed not to charge for the rework.

Publication

The primary thing separating a trade publisher from a subsidy press is that a trade publisher undertakes to pay the publication expenses of the book. The publisher will seek language that allows them to publish the book in the time that suits them, but authors should obtain some upper limit on this. It’s entirely normal for publishers to miss their target dates by more than a month, in part due to a constant turnover of employees, but they should be willing to set a date at which the manuscript will revert to the author if they fail to publish. If the publisher wants a clause that would return any advances paid in this case, it should be dependent on the successful sale of the manuscript to another publisher.

Royalties

This is usually the longest section in the book contract, and describes the division of the money, provided the author hasn’t written the book for a one-time payment in a work-for-hire arrangement. There’s no real standard for domestic royalties, which is the most profitable segment of sales for most authors. It depends on the genre of the work and the publishing house. Ignoring super-star authors who write their own tickets, the best rate most writers can hope for is 15% of the cover price of trade hardcover books, with this percentage being achieved only after a certain number of copies have been sold. Many segments of the publishing industry have successfully changed that maximum to 15% of publisher net, which amounts to less than half the cover price. The lowest royalties I’ve heard of are less than 5% of net in genres like romance literature, where the publisher may even own the rights to the pen name under which the books are published.

It’s common to set a number of steps with which the royalties escalate, setting a lower rate for the first 5,000 copies, a higher rate for the next 5,000, and only reaching the maximum rate after 10,000 or more copies have been sold. These break points may be one of the easier issues to negotiate. I’ve found it easier to move the break points, even eliminating the lowest category, than to increase the final royalty. Make sure you understand what books are actually being counted towards the royalty steps. In contracts I’ve signed, only the domestic full price sales have counted, which means that as much as half of my sales haven’t counted toward increasing my royalty.

Advances

One thing that should be included in any trade publishing contract is an advance against royalties. Advances are traditionally intended to support the author financially while they are in the process of writing the book. Advance payments may be split into multiple phases, with a payment for signing and further payments for reaching milestones in completing the contract requirements. Some publishers may spread partial payments over the whole proofing process, even all the way up to the publication date. Many publishers pay their bills so slowly that an author in a hurry may submit the final manuscript before receiving the signing payment. If the publisher cancels the book contract at this point, it may prove difficult or impossible for the author to obtain any advance money, as ownership is nine-tenths of the law. The lowest advance I’ve been offered by a trade publisher is $2,000 (split over four payments), the highest was $13,000.

Publishers can actually be very flexible on advances, which they use to try to lure authors into signing bad book contracts. Since so many writers live a hand-to-mouth existence, the promise of an extra few thousand dollars up-front may lure them into signing a contract with a lower royalty rate or longer escalation schedule. It’s always a gamble, and many trade authors never see any ongoing royalties because their books never sell enough copies to pay back the advance. Some authors and agents even feel that if the book does pay back the advance, it just means that they failed to negotiate a high enough advance to start with. I’m always optimistic that my books will sell, so I prefer a higher royalty to a larger advance, but if I thought I could get $100,000, I might sing a different tune.

Try not to sign any publishing contracts with cross-accounting schemes, where payments due on one title may be charged against debits from another of your titles by the same publisher. Authors are under no legal or moral obligation to make sure a publisher never loses money on a book, it’s part of the risk they undertake in claiming the lion’s share of the income. If you have signed a cross-accounting clause in a contract with a publisher and they want another book from you, you can probably get them to leave it out of the new book contract and modify the original contract so that the clause no longer applies. Otherwise, take the new title to another publisher. A cross-accounting clause shouldn’t be viewed as a deal-breaker for a first book, since it has no impact unless you go on to write more books for the same publisher or the book goes into edition.

Foreign Sales

Publishers will always establish a different royalty schedule for foreign sales. The rate may be a little lower than the domestic royalty rate, but it shouldn’t be a mere fraction. Publishers have been successfully sued for selling their own books to foreign subsidiaries at drastically reduced prices in order to reduce author royalties. It’s best for the author to have foreign royalties based on the cover price, since overseas net is so easy to manipulate.

Deep Discounts and Book Clubs

Publishers sell books into different outlets at different prices, and when they earn less they like to pay the author less. There’s no reason the author should agree to such an arrangement, but it’s become quite standard, and the best most authors can hope for is that both parties share the pain equally. It’s in the interest of the author to limit special pricing as much as possible, since the royalty will be greatly reduced while the special sales may cannibalize the author’s domestic sales. Authors should pay special attention to deep discount clauses, which allow publishers to sharply reduce, even halve author royalties, if the sale price falls below a set percentage of the cover. This creates a situation where it’s actually more profitable for the publisher to sell books at the deep discount than just above it, since the reduction in the author’s royalty more than offsets the amount of the reduction in the selling price.

Sale of Rights

Publishers who acquire the exclusive international rights for a book will set a royalty schedule for when those rights are sold to third parties or their own overseas subsidiaries. Splits of 50/50 on net receipts are common, though some publishers try to get authors to agree to base the split on the domestic royalty schedule, amounting to a quarter or a fifth of the amount a 50/50 split on publisher net would generate. Foreign rights are sold so cheaply for most books, sometimes for as low as a few hundred dollars, that anything less than a 50/50 split barely produces pocket change for an author. Translation rights for some of my own trade published computer books have been: $1,300 for a Chinese translation, $595 for Arabic, $2000 for Russian, $450 for Polish.

Payments

The book contract establishes a schedule for when the accounting is done and payments are made. Quarterly royalty payments are normal, though they will lag the actual sales period by a month or two. Some publishers still push semi-annual payments, with royalties for the January 1st through June 30th period being due before September 30th. Some publishers may agree to pay within 30 days of the end of the accounting period. Authors should try to have a clause inserted that allows them to have an independent auditor check the publisher’s accounts.

Reserve Against Returns

Publishers usually insist on a clause allowing them to establish “a reasonable reserve against returns.” The intention of the clause is to protect the publisher against paying the author for books that are sitting on store shelves but may eventually be returned to the publisher. It’s best to have this “reasonable reserve” spelled out, both in terms of the percentage of total sales to be held in reserve and the length of time for which the publisher can hold the money. A 20% or less reserve may be viewed as reasonable, though some publishers attempt to hold out for much higher amounts. The reserve retention period will likely be a year or longer, though two years is probably the longest period that can be justified by market economics. The main risk for the author is that the publisher goes out of business and any sums owed the author are unrecoverable.

Author’s Copies

The author can expect a dozen or more free copies of the book to give to friends and family. Publishers should always be happy to provide free review copies of books and may offer to take care of the shipping and handling. There is often the option for the author to buy more copies at a discount, though these books won’t be counted towards the author’s royalties and there may be restrictions on selling them.

Revised Editions

Publishers will insist on the right to publish revised editions of the work. The author should insist on the right to do those editions. The publisher will want the right to get another writer if the original author is unavailable to do a new edition on a reasonable time schedule after the publisher requests it. However, the original author or heirs should continue to receive royalties. These royalties will be at a reduced rate, and the author should try to negotiate that the reduction be based on the extent of the revisions. The author may also seek to negotiate the right not to have later editions published under the author’s name if the author doesn’t participate. An open-ended clause that would allow the publisher to spend profligately on producing a new edition and debit the amount from the author’s royalties should be avoided if at all possible.

Out of Print

A book is only out of print when the publisher declares it so and updates the ISBN record to reflect this fact. It may also be considered out of print for the purpose of reversion of rights to the author if it is no longer available from the publisher in any edition. The author may have to go through a set procedure, such as requesting in writing that the book be reprinted and waiting a pre-defined time period, but afterwards the rights should revert to the author. One of the problems with print-on-demand is it allows publishers to keep books in print indefinitely when availability is the only test. The author should seek to clarify this contract language as much as possible, setting a minimum number of books sold or moneys earned in consecutive royalty periods, after which the book will be deemed out of print.”

Write, write, write!! (Evin – http://www.mrgurupublishing.com)

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Rejection to Pulitzer

I will share the fact that I am a fan of Civil War books, movies and literature. I love reading about the Civil War, Abe Lincoln and so forth. It’s just something about that time in history that draws me to it.

Imagine my delight when I found a copy of, “The Killer Angels” by Michael Shaara while browsing a used book store last weekend. Not only that, but I also happened upon the sequel, “The Last Full Measure” written by his son, Jeff Shaara. Let’s just say that I left the store with both of them securely in my bag and well, I guess I should also thank my wife because in reality, she is the one that happened upon them. 😉

I’m not sure how familiar you are with “The Killer Angels” but this book, written in 1974, won the Pulitzer in 1975. Let me not forget to add however that it was originally rejected by 15 publishers. Yes, 15. No worries though. Besides eventually being picked up and published by Random House, Michael Shaara’s book is also responsible for the movie, “Gettysburg.” Yeah, you’ve probably heard of it. It was based off of “The Killer Angels.” Yeah, that’s right. Should I also add a “BAZINGA!” here (not certain on the spelling, but if you are a fan of The Big Bang theory, then you’ll get it.)?

If you are interested to read more, you can find some good info here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Killer_Angels.

Unfortunately Michael Shaara passed away in 1988 at the young age of 60 however his son Jeff and daughter Lila have graciously continued the Shaara legacy.

Just another great success story. (Evin – http://www.mrgurupublishing.com)

 
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Posted by on April 11, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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You got game…writing game

I’m going to start this post by saying that sometimes, when I really think of all of the unused and/or unrecognized talent out there, it makes me sad. Okay, not sad to where I’m going to cry or anything like that (I’m a big boy), but sad in such a way that I realize some people aren’t living up to their full potentials.

Think of the author who has worked extremely hard on a novel, only to submit it to agents and publishing houses in which he/she never receives a response. Some would stop at that and would think, “My novel apparently isn’t good, so I must have no talent at all. I quit.” The thought might be harsher than that, but you get the picture.

Below, I am sharing some famous books with you. You’ll probably recognize most, if not all. The number next to each book is how many times that book was originally rejected (from Maeve Maddox – http://www.dailywritingtips.com/famous-books-rejected-multiple-times).

Auntie Mame, Patrick Dennis (15)
Carrie, Stephen King (30)
Chicken Soup for the Soul, Jack Canfeld and Mark Victor Hansen (140)
Diary of Anne Frank (16)
Dr. Seuss books (15)
Dubliners, James Joyce (22)
Dune, Frank Herbert (23)
Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell (38)
Harry Potter book one, J. K. Rowling (9)
Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Richard Bach (18)
Kon-Tiki, Thor Heyerdahl (20)
M*A*S*H, Richard Hooker (17)
The Peter Principle, Laurence Peter (16)
The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot (17)
Watership Down, Richard Adams (26)
A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle, (26)

 

Familiar with John Le Carré? Taken from the website as the titles and numbers above: Pushcart’s Complete Rotten Reviews (1998), Edited by Bill Henderson and Andre Bernard. (“You’re welcome to Le Carré; he hasn’t got any future.”)”

Kind of brings a tear to your eye, doesn’t it? (Evin – http://www.mrgurupublishing.com)

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Is talent born?

I wanted to continue on with the theme I began yesterday on whether or not we are born with our talents, or whether they are learned.

I found an article by Cherry Woodburn that I’m going to share:

There’s a wonderful PEANUTS cartoon by Charles M.Schulz that features Sally Brown


Sally. Image from Peanuts Wiki

complaining to her teacher about the “C” she received on her coat hanger sculpture.

She asks the teacher several questions about how her work was judged. Here’s one of them.

“…was I judged on my talent? If so, is it right that I be judged on a part of life over which I have no control?”

I love this cartoon. (found in Future Force by Elaine McClanahan and Carolyn Wicks) It’s funny and includes powerful lessons.

For example, when Sally says that she has no control over her talent, she really thinks she’s trumped the teacher. Many of you might have had the same reaction. However, that – what I’m going to call – limited thinking is part of  a fixed mind-set that most of you were raised with and can keep you stuck and not doing what you really want to do.

The fixed mindset says that “talents and personalities are more or less inborn, carved in stone, as compared to a “growth mindset that believes success is a result of effort as much as or more than aptitude.”

For example, if you believe that you weren’t born with the talent for writing and you believe in a fixed mind set, why would you attempt writing a book or articles? You’d believe you were doomed to fail. That’s the same thinking as Sally Brown’s belief that she could do no better on her sculpture because she wasn’t born with a talent in sculpture/art. However, if Sally had a growth mind-set, she would realize she could become a prize-winning coat hanger sculptor if she:

  1. started to practice making sculptures consistently for a period of time every day
  2. took classes to learn techniques and the best coat hangers to use
  3. hired a coat hanger sculpture coach

By the same token you could become a successful writer (or something else you want to do) if you deliberately set aside time every day to practice writing; if you remained consistent in that practice over a lengthy period of time and if it’s something you really want to do.

I’ve read many articles that refer to Tiger Wood’s natural talent and athletic ability. Perhaps those things are true, I don’t really know. But what I do know is that he had been practicing golf virtually every day, for hours, for 15 years before he became the youngest ever winner of the U.S. Amateur Championship.  Woods still practices up to 8 hours daily.  It’s the practice and effort that makes him a success.

As long as you retain a fixed mind-set you’re destined to limit yourself to work that you think you can do naturally, easily. You’ll be less willing to try, try, try again in the field you want to work in or play in. You won’t struggle at something believing that it’s about innate talent rather than practice and effort.

On Saturday, I overheard with sadness a young woman telling a kid “She took Japanese and it was so hard she had to quit in two weeks.” Had to quit because she was struggling with learning a foreign language after only two weeks of effort. <sigh> These kind of statements aren’t just said to children, I hear adults saying it about themselves all the time. “I can’t draw, I just have no talent for it.” “She’s a natural at writing, wish I were.” “I don’t know how to run a business on-line so I’m sticking with what I know.”

Stop limiting your possibilities, just get out there and fail and fail and fail until you learn how to do what you want to do. Practice doesn’t make perfect but it sure makes you better.

Have a good one! (Evin – http://www.mrgurupublishing.com)

 

 
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Posted by on April 9, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Are we born with our talents?

I’ve often wondered this and have decided to make this my topic of the week (something new I’m going to try!). It almost seems as if some of us have certain talents almost from the day we are born. I remember watching a talk show on which they had a little boy. I can’t remember his exact age, but I don’t think he was over 6. This kid could play the piano like he’d been playing for over 20 years. He was amazing. He’d had piano lessons but shouldn’t have even been close to the level he was playing.

It’s the same with writing or any other talent really. Are they learned or are we simply born with them?

I’ve read that we’d be shocked if we were to see some famous author’s writings pre-editing. That being said, maybe it’s just the good story telling that some of us have, while others have the ability to both write and tell a good story? Am I making sense here?

I’ll use myself as an example here. I’ve written and published articles. I’m also a short story writer. I can whip up a short story like you wouldn’t believe. I always excelled at writing, specifically creative writing as a child in elementary school. My professional background is filled with corporate writing types of jobs like technical writing, instructional design, marketing writing and so forth. I cannot, for the life of me, seem to write a novel. Was I only born with the talent to write short stories and articles?

What is your take and belief on all of this?

Curious minds want to know. (Evin – http://www.mrgurupublishing.com)

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Indie Author of the Week

It’s Friday! In addition to hearing me shout out a huge, “TGIF!” you get the gift of finding out who my Indie Author of the Week is. It is….*drum roll*….Michelle Proulx!

Taken straight from Amazon, “Michelle Proulx was born on the market moon of Vega Minor where she spent her formative years reading, writing, and gambling at illegal underground jsgarn fighting rings. While en route to Alpha Centauri, Michelle crash-landed her space yacht on the planet Earth. She now lives in Canada and divides her time between observing the local fauna and repairing her star ship.”

Visit her website — http://www.michelleproulx.com — to learn more!

Her début novel, Imminent Danger And How to Fly Straight into It, is an award-winning Teen / Sci-fi / Romance novel. Check it out today, and get swept away in a galactic adventure of truly cosmic proportions!

Buy her book here: http://www.amazon.com/Imminent-Danger-How-Straight-into/dp/147596546X/ref=la_B00B5G0N9Q_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1365171544&sr=1-1

Oh, and TGIF! (Evin – http://www.mrgurupublishing.com)

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Amanda Hocking – An indie mega author

I would imagine that most of you have heard of Amanda Hocking. If not, stop what you are doing and Google her. Right now! You will find that she is an indie wonder and should be an inspiration for all of you who are working hard on your novels. Although this is an older interview (2011), I thought it would be a great read.

(Tonya Plank – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tonya-plank/meet-mega-bestselling-ind_b_804685.html):

Amanda Hocking is really something of a wunderkind. At only 26 years old, the Minnesota native has written a total of 17 novels. Since self-publishing eight of those books in April 2010, she’s sold over 185,000 copies, making her indie publishing’s latest star. Most of us are familiar with J.A. Konrath, who, after self-publishing several of his unpublished novels in ebook form and realizing how much more money he could make on his own than with a traditional publisher, became indie publishing’s most vocal champion. But many are quick to point out that Konrath had already been traditionally published when he decided to self-publish, so he already had an established fan base. Hocking, on the other hand, was an unknown, until April 2010.

Here is my interview with Ms. Hocking.

TP: You write a couple of bestselling series – young adult paranormal romance and urban fantasy. Can you give us an overview of those series, what they’re about and their themes?

AH: I have three series out now – My Blood Approves is the first one I released, and it’s about vampires in Minneapolis. There are four books in that series, plus a novella. My other series, the Trylle Trilogy, has the first two books out now, with the third book coming out soon, and that’s my best selling series. Hollowland is the only book I have out now in a series about zombies. This one has a really tough heroine, but it’s still romance-y.

TP: You began self-publishing these series in April 2010, correct? How many copies have you sold at this point?

AH: As of Tuesday, January 04, 2011 at 9 PM, I’ve sold over 185,000 books since April 15, 2010.

TP: And are the sales a combination of ebooks and print books?

AH: Yes, they are, but the majority is ebooks through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I’ve sold about 2,000 paperbacks since October, and prior to October, I sold maybe 20-50 paperbacks.

TP: Where all are your books available?

AH: All eight of my books are available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Several of them are available at the iBookstore and Sony ereader stores, but I have to upload them through Smashwords there, so it takes longer to get them uploaded there. All my paperbacks are available through Amazon only.

TP: How long did it take for sales to really take off?

AH: I published to Kindle in April, and I haven’t sold less than 1,000 books a month since May. So my sales took off somewhat quickly. They didn’t really start to explode until November. I published the second book in my Trylle Trilogy mid-November, and my sales really began to take off after that.

TP: When did you begin writing, and what inspired you to become a writer?

AH: I was always writing. When I was a little kid, before I learned how to write, I would tell stories. But as soon I as capable, I started writing. I filled notebooks and notebooks until I got my first computer when I was 11. It never really occurred to me that I would do anything else.

TP: Who are your favorite writers, or filmmakers or artists, or anyone else who inspires your writing?

AH: I think I draw most inspiration from writers like Richelle Mead and filmmakers like John Hughes. They both really understand the experience of being a teenager and how insistent and intense everything feels, but they’re also smart, savvy, and fun.

TP: Have you been published before or done any previous writing, or is this your first experience being published?

AH: This is my first experience being published. I did publish books through Lulu prior to going to Kindle in April, but I sold zero copies. I did it so I could get copies of my books for my mother to read, but I didn’t think self-publishing was a viable option. The first I ever sold a copy of anything I’d written was in April 2010.

TP: Do you have any “training” as a writer? Did you take any workshops or college classes?

AH: I’ve taken every writing class I’ve had available. I took classes in high school, and I took English and writing classes in community college, but I dropped out of college. I also attended a local writing workshop two years ago.

TP: What made you decide to self-publish? Did you try to go the traditional route at all or did you know from the get-go you wanted to be an indie?

AH: I tried to be traditionally published for about eight years. For years, I’ve listened to a lot of indie music and watched a lot of indie films. In high school, I was obsessed with IFC. But when it came to writing, I never thought it would possible to go that way.

Everything I’d heard about self-publishing is that it was impossible to make a living, reach readers, or produce a quality product. But last year, I heard about how some other authors like Joe Konrath and Karen McQuestion are doing well with ebooks. So I thought that I had nothing to lose. I’d written about 12 books when I decided to self-publish, and I thought it would be better than them sitting on my computer. Worst case scenario, nobody would read them, and that’s what was happening anyway.

TP: You’re so young and you have such an extensive body of work already! What is your daily writing routine?

AH: I don’t really have one, haha. I haven’t exactly figured out how to get into a writing routine yet. I’ve always kind of wrote when I wanted to. Once I get the idea in my head and get it outlined out, I usually just sit and write until it’s done.

So much has happened so quickly, it’s really hard for me to have established a routine yet. Most of my day is spent on the computer, though.

TP: Do you have a day job, or did you have a day job before you became a bestselling author? Or did you start writing right out of school?

AH: I worked full-time in group homes for people with disabilities for the past five and a half years, so the majority of my writing was done then. In high school and right out of high school, I worked as a dishwasher, and then I went to work at the group home. I always wrote in my spare time, but I had to pay the bills, so I had to keep my day job. Until August 2010. That’s the first time I made enough money off my writing that I didn’t need to work anymore, so I’ve been writing full-time since then.

TP: What has been your strategy for marketing and publicizing your books?

AH: I didn’t really have a strategy. I think one of the advantages I have is that stuff considered marketing is stuff that I do a lot anyway. I’ve been active on social networks and blogs for years.
I also send ARCs [advance review copies] out to book bloggers. Book bloggers are a really amazing community, and they’ve been tremendously supportive. They’ve definitely been a major force that got my books on the map.

When I first published, I did do a bit of promoting on the Amazon forums, but they’re not really open to that, so I haven’t really interacted there much at all in months. I hang out Goodreads, Kindleboards, Facebook, Twitter, and I blog. And that’s about it.

TP: How do you handle the editing? Do you hire your own editor or do you use beta readers?

AH: I’ll be honest – when I first started publishing in April, I thought my editing was fine. The first book I published – My Blood Approves – had been read by me about fifty times and also read and edited by about twenty other people. So I thought that all the grammar errors would be taken care of. But I was wrong.

Since then, I’ve tried to utilize beta readers and hire people. But so far, people are still finding errors. It’s not from lack of effort on my part, though.

I am now looking for a professional editor – as in the kind I would get if my book were to go through a publishing house. What I find most frustrating about editing and being indie is that everything else I can do myself. Writing, covers, marketing, etc. But I cannot edit properly myself. It’s just not possible.

TP: You’re now published by a traditional publisher in at least one European country, right? Have any of your books been released there yet?

AH: I haven’t been published yet. I’ve had some offers and some deals made, but the books haven’t officially been printed or put on the shelves yet. I am really interested to see how it all goes when it’s done.

TP: You’re now represented by a literary agent, correct?

AH: Yes, I am represented by Steve Axelrod. He became my agent in August, after I’d been approached by foreign publishers.

TP: What are your publishing goals at this point? Do you want to continue self-publishing here in the U.S. while your agent works on selling the foreign rights to your books?

AH: I don’t know what my goals are right now. Everything has already far surpassed my original goals, and it’s hard for me to figure out what can happen next. I do plan to continue self-publishing, but I’m not turning my back to traditional publishing.

As amazing as this ebook revolution has been, it’s still only 20-30% of the market, and I’m not going to ignore the possibilities to reach the other 70-80% of readers. However, it is hard to compete with what my books are already able to do with Kindle and PubIt.

TP: What are you working on now; do you have any soon-to-be-released books?

AH: The third and final book in the Trylle Trilogy will be out very soon (before January 15th). But that’s the only thing I know for sure right now. It’s really hard for me to set release dates, because I can publish whenever books are ready. So it just depends on how long they take to get ready. But I have many more projects I’m working on.

TP: What has been your most memorable experience in publishing so far? An early review or fan letter, getting contacted by the European publishing house?

AH: I’ve gotten several emails from wives and mothers whose husbands are gone because they’re soldiers and marines. Those ones I think really strike me the most. These people are sacrificing so much, and they’re using something I wrote to escape for a minute. And that really puts the pressure on me to put out something that’s worthy.

TP: What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

AH: Write a lot, but read even more. Learn to be open to criticism. And research as much as you can before making a decision about where you want to see your writing career. The internet is filled with information that will help you become a better writer and make better decisions about publishing.

For more information on Ms. Hocking’s books, visit her website, or her author pages on Amazon and Smashwords. Her books are also available at Barnes & Noble.

You can do it too! (Evin – http://www.mrgurupublishing.com)

 
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Posted by on April 4, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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