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Indie Author of the Week

Wow…it’s Friday already? TGIF, my friends!

Our Indie Author of the Week goes out to Marie Force. Although previously published by traditional publishing houses such as Harlequin, she made the NY Times e-book bestseller list on March 6th.

 

As stated on http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2013/an-interview-with-indie-ny-times-bestselling-author-marie-force/ written by Bob Mayer:

 

An Interview with Indie NY Times Bestselling Author Marie Force

 

Indie author Marie Force debuts on the NY Times e-book bestseller list on 10 March at #6 and the combined print/e-book list at #11 with her indie-published book, “Waiting for Love,” book 8 in her popular McCarthys of Gansett Island Series.

 

She is the best-selling, award-winning author of 25 contemporary romances, including The McCarthy Series, the Fatal Series with Harlequin, the Treading Water Series and numerous stand-alone books. Her new series, The Green Mountain Series, is coming from Berkley in early 2014.

 

You sold your first book to a traditional publisher in 2007. Less than six years later, you’re one of the bestselling authors in romance. What do you think is the single most important key to your success?

 

Self-publishing is the single most important key to my success. The ability to release books frequently has helped to raise my profile with readers in a way that never would’ve happened without direct publishing access to Kindle, Nook, iBookstore and Kobo, in particular. I also credit Facebook with giving me a daily conduit to readers who have supported me throughout my career and continue to do so today.

 

You’ve said that “No one was interested in these books except my readers,” regarding some of your titles. Is that what led you to self-publish?

 

Yes, exactly! One of my favorite stories involves the Big Six house that rejected my book “True North,” with the reasoning, “No one wants to read about a super model.” Those eight words changed my life profoundly. They were the catalyst that drove me to try something new. “True North,” the story of an unlucky-in-love super model who finds love on a two-week vacation in her small Rhode Island hometown, was the first book I self-published. Since it went on sale in November of 2010, it has sold more than 50,000 units. I guess a few people want to read about a super model…

 

Would you ever go back to traditional publishing completely?

 

Barring major changes in the programs offered by participating retailers, I can’t imagine any scenario in which self-publishing is not a part of my overall picture.

 

How do you handle the workload of not only writing the books, but all the other aspects of being incredibly successful in indie-publishing?

 

The workload is a bit staggering. I won’t deny that. I work seven days a week, three hundred sixty-five days a year. A day “off” usually consists of three or four hours of work in the morning, followed by household stuff that gets neglected while books are being written and published. I’m in the midst of the most intense writing cycle of my career right now, with a Fatal book due to Harlequin March 15, two books due to Berkley before August 1, and another McCarthy book promised to readers, hopefully by the end of the summer. I’ve also got readers clamoring for a fifth book in my Treading Water Series, which is a very nice “problem” to have, but there’s just no wiggle room in the schedule this year. “Treading Water,” book 1 in that series, was my first book and is very close to my heart because it started everything. I find it funny that I’ve reached a point in my career where writing a new book in that very beloved series is just not possible at this time. Back in the day, that scenario would’ve been unimaginable to me.

 

Getting back to your juggling question, I hired a full-time assistant in January, and she has saved my life. I also have a part-time employee, who helps primarily with my e-Book Formatting Fairies business. We format and prepare books for other authors pursuing self-publication. So we’re busy, but it’s the best kind of busy.

 

When did your career begin to take off? What do you attribute your success to?

 

My career got a nice boost from a freebie offered by my first publisher in February of 2011, and I’ve been on a roll ever since then. Releasing the first three McCarthy books, “Maid for Love,” “Fool for Love” and “Ready for Love” in April, May and June of 2011 also helped to give me a big boost. I had four more McCarthy books out in 2012 and offered book 1, “Maid for Love,” as a freebie for the last half of 2012. I had more than 500,000 downloads of that freebie and hundreds of thousands of sales of the subsequent books in the series. “Waiting for Love,” book 8 in the McCarthy Series, is the one that just hit all the major bestseller lists in February. It was a slow build that finally paid off in a big way. I now have 16 self-published books and nine traditionally published books, with more of both coming. Without a doubt, free books have changed the game for me numerous times and contributed greatly to discoverability with digital readers.

 

How do you think your readers found you?

 

It was a combination of things. As I said, free books helped enormously. I’m also very visible on Facebook and run about 30 reader groups—one for each series, one for each book and an overall Marie Force Book Talk group, all of which are very popular with readers. The McCarthy Reader Group just welcomed its 5,000th member, which was another amazing milestone in a month full of them. The readers who hang out with me on Facebook are great about spreading the word about my books to their friends and families, which has also helped the cause. I push my mailing list at every possible opportunity and have seen that grow by many thousands in the last year. Finally, I make an effort—with the help of my assistant—to make sure that every reader who writes to me gets a reply. As time has gone on, this has become increasingly time consuming, but it’s a very important part of what we do every day. Readers are everything, and we never forget that for a second.

 

You recently just hit the NY Times list. What did you do to achieve this goal and how do you feel about it?

 

Yes! My first time on the New York Times list! What a thrill! I tend to be low-key about things that other authors get very excited about, such as contests and the like. I always thought if or when I ever hit the Times list, I’d check that box and move on with my life. Well, it didn’t happen quite that way… Turns out, it was a VERY exciting day! The book sold astonishingly well the first week, so I suspected it might hit the extended list, which would’ve been lovely. But to see it at no. 6 for ebooks and no. 11 on the combined print/ebook list was way beyond thrilling. Then to score no. 15 on the USA Today list and no. 6 on the Wall Street Journal ebook list was triply exciting. In the last two weeks, I’ve learned that “New York Times Bestseller” are words everyone understands, whether they are in our business or not. One of the things that was instrumental to making the list was being allowed to offer “Waiting for Love” for pre-order at several of the major retailers, who are beginning to allow a few indie authors that privilege. And it is, indeed, a privilege that they trust me enough after 16 indie books to know I will deliver the book as promised, on schedule with no drama. Those advance sales truly made the difference in hitting the bestseller lists, and I’m grateful to my retail partners for making that opportunity available to me. It was also a huge thrill to share the bestseller moment with my husband and kids as well as my widowed dad, who was almost as excited as I was. That was a very happy moment in what’s become a lovely career.

 

We noticed you were added to the RWA honor roll with a self-published title. What does this mean to you? Have you entered the RITAs?

 

Well, to be honest, the RWA Honor Roll status would mean a lot more to me if I were allowed to enter my bestselling book in RWA’s RITA contest for published authors. As it stands right now, the RITA is not open to self-published books, but I hope to see those rules changed before too much longer. Although I’ve never been validated by contests, I don’t like being told I can’t enter my book in a contest because of the way it was brought to market, especially when it has done so well. There’s something offensive about that, and I know I’m not alone in feeling excluded from one of my professional organization’s premier programs. I’m hoping that with several prominent self-published authors in leadership positions on the RWA board this year that we might start to see some of those final barriers to participation crumble. Self-publishing is here to stay, and I believe it won’t be long before more authors are self-publishing than are pursuing the traditional path. Yes, I have entered books in the RITA in the past, and have two Fatal books in the contest this year.

 

What top three things do you view as critical to success as an author with the publishing landscape changing so quickly?

 

Job one in my world is quality. Every one of my books undergoes rigorous beta reading, copy editing and proofreading as well as other quality control steps. My covers are professionally designed, and my ebooks are interactive with live links to purchase other books that are customized to each individual retail platform. We also produce print versions for each of my books via CreateSpace, and they are popular with readers who still prefer print. We’re now bringing all my self-published books out in audio format, too. A lot of steps are involved with professional self-publishing, and no corners are ever cut.

 

Job two is quantity. The authors who seem to be doing the best in the digital space have one big thing in common—we’re all prolific. We produce numerous high-quality books each year, and we keep readers happy because they don’t have to wait six months or a year for our next book. With so many things competing for consumer attention, keeping the product coming is critically important to building—and keeping—a readership.

 

Third would be listening to readers and giving them what they want. My readers are very vocal about what they like and don’t like in my books. Fortunately, there is more of the former than the latter! LOL! They desperately wanted resolution of a story begun in “Marking Time,” Treading Water Series book 2, which led me to write, “Coming Home,” book 4 in that series. “Coming Home,” released on 12.12.12., has done very well and has made them happy, which is so important to me. I’m thankful for every one of them, and I try to show them that in every way I can. They’ve also given me some damned good ideas. I plan to write a special Gansett Island book called, “Gansett After Dark,” based on a suggestion a reader made months ago. It was a brilliant idea, and I’m looking forward to writing that book.

 

If you’ve done so well as an indie author, why continue to go the “hybrid” route with traditional publishers?

 

For one thing, I was with Harlequin’s Carina Press for my Fatal Series before I began self-publishing, so it made sense to continue the series where it began. Harlequin will begin publishing the Fatal books in mass-market paperback under the HQN imprint later this year. Since a big portion of romance readers are still interested in paperbacks, I was anxious to get back into print and to have wide distribution for the first time in my career. Harlequin has worked really hard on the Fatal Series (and given me some awesome covers!), so I’m enjoying my stay with them. Berkley provided an opportunity to put a contemporary series into mass market print in addition to ebooks, which was part of an overall strategy to make sure I’m hitting all the available markets—ebook, print, audio, etc. My agent, Kevan Lyon, has been very supportive of my self-publishing pursuits and has worked closely with me to make sure I’m moving in the right direction on all these fronts. At this point, everything is an experiment, and I’m willing to try a number of different strategies to see what works best.

 

Are you having fun yet?

 

I’m having fun every day, and I’m just getting started. This is the best time EVER to be an author, and I couldn’t be more excited about the future!

 

So what are YOU waiting for? Go forth and conquer! (Evin – http://www.mrgurupublishing.com)

 

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Interview with Dean Koontz

Happy Monday! Regarding the title of today’s post…how many of you thought that I actually interviewed Dean Koontz? Let’s see a raise of hands. Just kidding but, I do wish I had been the one to conduct the interview however I’m not quite that famous or well known in the industry. Not yet. So in the meantime, I have found an interview for you to enjoy. I think we can learn a lot from famous authors and how they got their starts. Taken straight from http://www.deankoontz.com/writing-qa/:

You had an agent in your early years tell you that you’d never be a best-selling writer. Did that discourage you or make you more determined to succeed?

 

I have more self-doubt than any writer I’ve ever known. That is one reason I revise every page to the point of absurdity! The positive aspect of self-doubt – if you can channel it into useful activity instead of being paralyzed by it – is that by the time you reach the end of a novel, you know precisely why you made every decision in the narrative, the multiple purposes of every metaphor and image. Having been your own hardest critic you still have dreams but not illusions. Consequently, thoughtless criticism or advice can’t long derail you. You become disappointed in an agent, in an editor, in a publisher, but never discouraged. If anyone in your publishing life were to argue against a particular book or a career aspiration for reasons you had not already pondered and rejected after careful analysis, if they dazzled you with brilliant new considerations, then you’d have to back off and revisit your decisions. But what I was told never dazzled me. For example, I was often advised, by different people, that my work would never gain a big audience because my vocabulary was too large.

 

It’s been said that writers reveal their own struggles, fears, dreams, etc. through their work. Which of your novels reveals the most about you?

 

Everything I believe about life and death, culture and society, relationships and the self, God and nature–everything winds up in the books, not in one more than another, but equally, title after title. A body of work, therefore, reveals the intellectual and emotional progress of the writer, and is a map of his soul. It’s both terrifying and liberating to consider this aspect of being a novelist.

 

I’ve read that you will rewrite a page until it’s right before moving on, sometimes redoing a draft thirty or forty times. This must make for a slow process. Approximately how long does it take you to write one novel?

 

I work 10- and 11-hour days because in long sessions I fall away more completely into story and characters than I would in, say, a six-hour day. On good days, I might wind up with five or six pages of finished work; on bad days, a third of a page. Even five or six is not a high rate of production for a 10- or 11-hour day, but there are more good days than bad. And the secret is doing it day after day, committing to it and avoiding distractions. A month–perhaps 22 to 25 work days–goes by and, as a slow drip of water can fill a huge cauldron in a month, so you discover that you have 75 polished pages. The process is slow, but that’s a good thing. Because I don’t do a quick first draft and then revise it, I have plenty of time to let the subconscious work; therefore, I am led to surprise after surprise that enriches story and deepens character. I have a low boredom threshold, and in part I suspect I fell into this method of working in order to keep myself mystified about the direction of the piece–and therefore entertained. A very long novel, like FROM THE CORNER OF HIS EYE can take a year. A book like THE GOOD GUY, six months.

 

You are one of the most prolific fiction writers of our time. What keeps you going?

 

In addition to the enchantment with language and storytelling, there is the fact that I wouldn’t know what the hell to do if I were not doing this. Some leisure is fine, but not an unrelieved diet of downtime. I’m also writing to ensure that our foundation–which focuses largely on organizations for the severely disabled, critically ill children, and dogs–will be deeply funded and able to support those organizations long after Gerda and I are gone.

 

You are known as perhaps the hardest working novelist of our time. To what do you attribute your work ethic?

 

Two things. First, I am enchanted by the English language, by its beauty and flexibility, also by the power of storytelling to expand the mind and lift the heart. Language and story offer possibilities –intriguing challenges–that I couldn’t exhaust in many lifetimes. The work is joy when it’s going well, even when it isn’t. Second, I believe that talent is a gift and that it comes with the sacred obligation to polish and grow it.

 

As a young writer, did you encounter rejection?–Allison, Pennsylvania

 

I sold the first short story I wrote. Then I received over 75 rejections before making another sale. My first four novels were never published. Later, after I’d been selling genre fiction routinely, I wrote a mainstream novel, ALL OTHER MEN. Editors sent me enthusiastic letters about it, said they loved it, but turned it down because they felt it was too disturbing and too avant garde to be commercial. But let me get to the heart of your question: young writer. There seems to be an implication here that I’m no longer young. I am as young now, Allison, as I have ever been, and not because of any form of dementia. I am young because my work keeps me young and the daily wrestling with our beautiful and supple language keeps me limber and youthful, as well. You may think that is bullshit, and it is, but it’s a sincere kind of bullshit.

 

How important were college creative-writing courses to your success?—Alberto, Washington

 

I’m sure that the right teacher, in a well-designed course, can be a great help to beginning writers who are trying to find their way, but I have no personal experience of that. I found my own way by doing two things. First, I read 150 books a year, sometimes more, (very little TV, later no blogging, no e-mail, that’s how), fiction in all genres, contemporary novels but also the classics, poetry, and a variety of nonfiction. Second, I revise every page of a novel twenty or thirty times, whatever it takes, before moving on to the next page. This line-by-line immersion focuses me intently on language, character, and theme. I began this ceaseless polishing out of self-doubt, as a way of preventing self-doubt from turning into writer’s block: by doing something with the unsatisfactory page, I wasn’t just sitting there brooding about it. I have more self-doubt than any writer I know, which seems healthy to me, and now this method of working, this line-by-line immersion, no longer seems arduous; instead, it delights me. While my conscious mind is on the micro world of a single page, my unconscious is always working on the macro world of the entire novel.

 

When did you decide you were destined to be a writer? At what point in your life? —Marcy, New Jersey

 

After a devastating ankle injury forever ended my ice-dancing career. Actually, nothing is destined. Everything depends on the unstinting exercise of free will, and hard work.

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

 

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Indie Book of the Week – Free Kindle Download Today

It is that time again, folks…time for the “Indie Book of the Week.”

Click http://www.indieauthornews.com/2013/04/new-indie-book-release-deliverance-jennie-marsland.html to download your copy today.

As advertised on, “Indie Author News:”

New Indie Book Release: Deliverance (Jennie Marsland)

New Indie Book Release:
Deliverance – Jennie Marsland –
Historical Romance (April 2013 – 273 pages)

Deliverance is a historical romance set in Canada in 1917. It’s a sequel to the Author’s 2011 release, Shattered. The hero is a returned WW1 veteran who has gone AWOL to avoid being sent back overseas, and the heroine is a returned Red Cross nurse.

About the Book
Autumn 1917

Carl O’Neill is on the run from the Army and himself. Returned from Europe on recuperative leave, he’d rather die than go back to the trenches. He assumes a dead man’s name and leaves his home and family behind him, only to be dumped off the train in the small prairie town of Mackenzie, Saskatchewan. Seriously ill and stranded, Carl has no choice but to confront the demons that drive him – and his growing feelings for the former Red Cross nurse who saves his life.

Naomi Franklin is no stranger to secrets and personal demons. Struggling with the trauma of rape and her experiences in a front-line field hospital, Naomi can’t bear to close the eyes of another young man whose life has ended far too soon. She’ll nurse the stranger who lands on her father’s doorstep and then send him on his way. But looking into Carl’s blue eyes makes her feel like a woman again, while the all-too-familiar shadows behind them touch her heart. When both their lives come crashing down around them, can Carl and Naomi overcome secrets and lies to find each other again?

About the Author
Jennie Marsland is a teacher, a painter, a musician and, for most of her life, a writer. She fell in love with words at a very early age and the affair has been life-long. She enjoys writing songs and poetry as well as fiction.

Jennie is a history buff as well as an unashamed romantic. Glimpses of the past spark her imagination, and she believes in happily ever after.

A resident of Halifax, Nova Scotia for the last thirty years, she lives with her husband Everett and their outrageously spoiled Duck-Tolling Retrievers, Chance and Echo.
 

TGIF! (Evin – www.mrgurupublishing.com)

 
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Posted by on May 3, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Self-Publishing = More Control

It’s definitely not rocket science to realize that when you self-publish, you keep control of your own book and well, the sky is the limit at that point. It makes me proud to see more of our “big name” authors also choosing to self-publish. Check this out. This article is straight for the New York Times, written by Leslie Kaufman, published April 16, 2013 –  (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/17/business/media/david-mamet-and-other-big-authors-choose-to-self-publish.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0):

New Publisher Authors Trust: Themselves

When the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and author David Mamet released his last book, “The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture,” with the Sentinel publishing house in 2011, it sold well enough to make the New York Times best-seller list.

Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and author David Mamet is planning to self-publish his next work.
This year, when Mr. Mamet set out to publish his next one, a novella and two short stories about war, he decided to take a very different path: he will self-publish.

Mr. Mamet is taking advantage of a new service being offered by his literary agency, ICM Partners, as a way to assume more control over the way his book is promoted.

“Basically I am doing this because I am a curmudgeon,” Mr. Mamet said in a telephone interview, “and because publishing is like Hollywood — nobody ever does the marketing they promise.”

As digital disruption continues to reshape the publishing market, self-publishing — including distribution digitally or as print on demand — has become more and more popular, and more feasible, with an increasing array of options for anyone with an idea and a keyboard. Most of the attention so far has focused on unknown and unsigned authors who storm onto the best-seller lists through their own ingenuity.

The announcement by ICM and Mr. Mamet suggests that self-publishing will begin to widen its net and become attractive also to more established authors. For one thing, as traditional publishers have cut back on marketing, this route allows well-known figures like Mr. Mamet to look after their own publicity.

Then there is the money. While self-published authors get no advance, they typically receive 70 percent of sales. A standard contract with a traditional house gives an author an advance, and only pays royalties — the standard is 25 percent of digital sales and 7 to 12 percent of the list price for bound books — after the advance is earned back in sales.

ICM, which will announce its new self-publishing service on Wednesday, is one of the biggest and most powerful agencies to offer the option. But others are doing the same as they seek to provide additional value to their writers while also extending their reach in the industry.

Since last fall, Trident Media Group, which represents 800 authors, has been offering its clients self-publishing possibilities through deals negotiated though online publishers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, in a system very similar to the one ICM is setting up. Robert Gottlieb, chairman of Trident, says that 200 authors have taken advantage of the service, though mostly for reissuing older titles, the backlist.

Another literary agency, InkWell Management, has helped the romance novelist Eloisa James reissue many of her backlist titles, as well as her newer books overseas, this way. She usually turns out her best sellers through HarperCollins, and in a telephone interview she said she would not leave Harper completely because she loves her editor. But she added that published authors talked about the “self-pubs” all the time and had learned a lot from those writers’ efforts.

“They treat it like a small business,” she said, “and they are geniuses at discoverability.”

Sloan Harris, co-director of ICM’s literary department, said his agency signed a deal with a company called Argo Navis Author Services, a self-publishing service created by the Perseus Book Group, because he decided it was time to give his clients more options than the standard big publishing houses.

For certain clients, Mr. Harris said, self-publishing “returns a degree of control to authors who have been frustrated about how their ideas for marketing and publicity fare at traditional publishers.” Both Mr. Harris and Mr. Mamet said that the big publishers focused mostly on blockbuster books and fell short on other titles — by publishing too few copies, for instance, or limiting advertising to only a short period after a book was released.

“Particularly for high-end literary fiction, their efforts too often have been very low-octane,” Mr. Harris said of the traditional publishers.

Although Mr. Mamet will be the best known of the agency’s clients to use the new service, he is not the only one: two older books by ICM clients that have gone to backlist, “Searching for Bobby Fischer,” by Fred Waitzkin, and “Ghosts of Mississippi,” by Maryanne Vollers, will also be reissued this way.

And Mr. Harris said more would come. “We will pay ever more attention project by project, author by author, as to what our options are,” he said.

If an author self-publishes, what, then, is the role of a literary agency? Mr. Gottlieb of Trident said it made sense for his clients to self-publish through the agency, which charges a standard commission on sales, instead of going directly to Amazon themselves because the agency brought experience in marketing and jacket design. It also has relationships with the digital publishers that give their clients access to plum placement on sites that self-published authors can’t obtain on their own.

Welcome to a great day in the world of writing and publishing! (Evin – http://www.mrgurupublishing.com)
 
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Posted by on May 2, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Dog Eat Dog

For lack of a better term…yesterday I was flamed on a popular social networking site. Suffice it to say, I was flamed for offering advice to an author. I mentioned pricing in the comment and was not aware at that time that mentioning pricing in the group was not allowed. I do not use that as an excuse however because I should have made myself aware of the group rules.

Another group member decided to flame me, letting the group know that due to the low cost I was charging a client, that my editing was horrible and I was only ripping the client off because his/her book would need an additional edit due to the horrible edit I was going to give him/her.

I emailed this individual privately to take it off the board because I ashamedly let myself get into a flaming war in the group, for everyone to read. The response from this person was calling me foul names using language that I won’t even attempt to use here.

I let this get to me because for one, this person knows nothing about the quality of work I do. Secondly, I’m wondering to myself as to how an adult could act this way. At first, I wanted to hang up the towel and leave this business. See, Sapling is a part-time job for me at the moment. Writing, publishing and anything to do with books has always been a passion of mine. I began writing creative stories as early as grade school. I always excelled and received very good grades in my creative writing and English classes.

I’ve always wanted to me a writer, but never took any advanced classes because like many, I grew up hearing, “You’ll starve. Only a very few make any real money in it.” As a result, I set off in a completely different direction and have worked in many different positions. Currently I work full-time as a technical writer, which is now a position I’ve worked in for over 10 years. It’s writing, but maybe not the type that most people think about when they think of a writer. I have a graduate degree in education, primarily adult education. Now at the age of 40, I am working on my first novel and wondering if I should actually take some of those advanced writing courses. I do write and sell articles and have written numerous short stories but have yet to have any of my actual stories published.

I’ve gotten off track here. I wanted to throw in the towel yesterday and leave the world of publishing. Why? Because sometimes it’s dog eat dog. I wondered further last night however as to what would happen if a majority of people in this business decided to throw in the towel, simply because of the derogatory comments of one person (or even more for that matter). Heck, this could be said for anything and anyone’s dream really. Very few come without sweat, blood and tears from time to time. Most people fall flat on their backs before truly succeeding in something. Although not really verified, I’ve always heard how Stephen King has decorated one wall of his office with rejection letters by various publishers. Just imagine if he had let those drive him away from his dream.

So I want to tell all of you…yes, there will be times you will want to give up. There might be flaming and hateful words. There might be someone out there telling you that you are not good enough, or that you need to find a “real job.” Don’t listen. If this is what you want to do, don’t listen because at the end of the day, YOU are the one that has to look at yourself in the mirror and YOU are the one that knows what you dream truly is.

Go forth and conquer, my friends. (Evin – http://www.mrgurupublishing.com)

 
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Posted by on May 1, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Cover Design

Hello and a beautiful Tuesday morning to you all. Today’s topic is none other than cover design which I personally feel is a topic I probably haven’t covered enough, if ever.

I will begin by saying this….I always feel you should have your cover professional designed unless you are a graphic artist or know someone who is. Why? Your cover is the first thing potential buyers will see. Chances are that it will go right back up on the shelf if it doesn’t look professionally done. I’m not just talking about the actual artwork itself, I’m talking about the decision as to what should go on the cover and so forth. The professionals are trained with this knowledge, so I say to let them do their job!

On the flip side however I know that cover design can be expensive and well, not all of us have enough to drop on a professional cover right off the bat. So…keeping that in mind I have found an article that will hopefully help.

This article is titled, “Judging a Book by Its Cover.” Unfortunately I am unable to find the author of this article however if you’d like to view it, please click http://www.completelynovel.com/self-publishing/writers-toolbox-cover-design. You will also be able to view a video. Enjoy:

 

“The cover of your book is very important so it’s definitely worth spending some time on. It is probably one of the key areas that self-published writers fall down on. If what you have produced doesn’t look great on the outside then people are going to be much less likely to take a peek inside.

The cover of your book is the first thing people will see – so you want to make sure that it looks professional. Bear in mind the people that it will appeal to: what kind of image would draw in the right readers? Whilst we would always encourage you to be creative and original, you should be mindful of your customers and remember that if someone is looking, for example, for a crime/thriller, there is a certain type of cover that will attract their attention. Emma Barnes, the co-founder of the award-winning Snow Books offers some excellent advice on this theme on the Snowblog. She stresses the importance of a cover positioning a book in its genre:

“Take a copy of your book cover into the store, go to the relevant shelf and see if it fits. Does it stand out? If it does, it’s probably wrong. The blurb and the cover and the writing is unique, but the only way the reader will discover it is if the packaging explains, at a subconscious level, what the words are about. You wouldn’t expect to open a cornflakes pack and find pasta, would you? Same deal.”

Scott Pack, the head of the innovative publisher The Friday Project and a former book buyer at Waterstones also has some great tips on cover design in this short video.

Diy cover design

You don’t have to be a graphic designer to create some great results if you have the time and the tools to do so. Perhaps the most important and striking part of a cover is its main image. Take your time to select a good photo and your job will be half done. For even more professional results, programs such as Adobe Illustrator are great for creating graphics. Adobe Photoshop or its free alternative Gimp are excellent for manipulating photos to make them look great.
Although Gimp has a useful online users’ guide, it and the Adobe programs are quite complicated and will require quite a lot of time to learn to use them properly. If you are after a quicker solution it might be worth using a program you are more used to such as a word processor or a simple graphics application. With a bit of time and effort you can produce good results yourself.

Titles – big and bold!

The best book covers, particularly those that are going to be seen as thumbnails on a computer screen as well as across the floor of a bookshop in hard copy, should have a large, easy-to-read title and author name on them. This makes it much easier for the reader to identify the book.
Emma Barnes (of
Snow Books) has some excellent advice on titles: she warns against covers where the title looks “plonked” over the background image. The font and the text spacing and position should be integrated with the image. She also has some helpful rules of thumb to make sure your cover typography observes the conventions of the genre.

Finding Images for your book cover

Perhaps you have a great photo that you think would be perfect for the cover? You can use programmes such as Adobe Photoshop, widely used by professional designers. If you are looking for a cheaper option, there are a few web-based photo editors that you might like to try:

Image Resources

If you don’t have exactly the right photo, remember that the internet has some great archive images that are a great resource. Some you will need to pay for, others are free. If you do use someone else’s image, just check that you have permission to do so! Make sure you get an image that is 300dpi as this is the standard resolution used by printers. To get a decent sized hi-res version of an image on these websites you might only need to pay £5 or less, so it’s definitely worth investigating.

How CompletelyNovel can help

If you publish your book yourself on CompletelyNovel, you can use the CN cover creator for free. If you don’t have your own complete design, you can either choose from a selection of stock images or you can upload your own picture and then add the text.”

 

Get to it! (Evin – http://www.mrgurupublishing.com)

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Should You Risk It All?

I’m certain this is a question we’ve all had at some point in our lives. Whether it’s over a romance, a career or merely selecting what to have for dinner, we’ve all encountered it. If not, we most likely will.

I think of writers when I think of this however it really applies to anything. This is a long article written by Paul Graham but worth the read if you can get through to the end (http://paulgraham.com/love.html):

“How to Do What You Love –

To do something well you have to like it. That idea is not exactly novel. We’ve got it down to four words: “Do what you love.” But it’s not enough just to tell people that. Doing what you love is complicated.

The very idea is foreign to what most of us learn as kids. When I was a kid, it seemed as if work and fun were opposites by definition. Life had two states: some of the time adults were making you do things, and that was called work; the rest of the time you could do what you wanted, and that was called playing. Occasionally the things adults made you do were fun, just as, occasionally, playing wasn’t—for example, if you fell and hurt yourself. But except for these few anomalous cases, work was pretty much defined as not-fun.

And it did not seem to be an accident. School, it was implied, was tedious because it was preparation for grownup work.

The world then was divided into two groups, grownups and kids. Grownups, like some kind of cursed race, had to work. Kids didn’t, but they did have to go to school, which was a dilute version of work meant to prepare us for the real thing. Much as we disliked school, the grownups all agreed that grownup work was worse, and that we had it easy.

Teachers in particular all seemed to believe implicitly that work was not fun. Which is not surprising: work wasn’t fun for most of them. Why did we have to memorize state capitals instead of playing dodgeball? For the same reason they had to watch over a bunch of kids instead of lying on a beach. You couldn’t just do what you wanted.

I’m not saying we should let little kids do whatever they want. They may have to be made to work on certain things. But if we make kids work on dull stuff, it might be wise to tell them that tediousness is not the defining quality of work, and indeed that the reason they have to work on dull stuff now is so they can work on more interesting stuff later. [1]

Once, when I was about 9 or 10, my father told me I could be whatever I wanted when I grew up, so long as I enjoyed it. I remember that precisely because it seemed so anomalous. It was like being told to use dry water. Whatever I thought he meant, I didn’t think he meant work could literally be fun—fun like playing. It took me years to grasp that.

Jobs

By high school, the prospect of an actual job was on the horizon. Adults would sometimes come to speak to us about their work, or we would go to see them at work. It was always understood that they enjoyed what they did. In retrospect I think one may have: the private jet pilot. But I don’t think the bank manager really did.

The main reason they all acted as if they enjoyed their work was presumably the upper-middle class convention that you’re supposed to. It would not merely be bad for your career to say that you despised your job, but a social faux-pas.

Why is it conventional to pretend to like what you do? The first sentence of this essay explains that. If you have to like something to do it well, then the most successful people will all like what they do. That’s where the upper-middle class tradition comes from. Just as houses all over America are full of chairs that are, without the owners even knowing it, nth-degree imitations of chairs designed 250 years ago for French kings, conventional attitudes about work are, without the owners even knowing it, nth-degree imitations of the attitudes of people who’ve done great things.

What a recipe for alienation. By the time they reach an age to think about what they’d like to do, most kids have been thoroughly misled about the idea of loving one’s work. School has trained them to regard work as an unpleasant duty. Having a job is said to be even more onerous than schoolwork. And yet all the adults claim to like what they do. You can’t blame kids for thinking “I am not like these people; I am not suited to this world.”

Actually they’ve been told three lies: the stuff they’ve been taught to regard as work in school is not real work; grownup work is not (necessarily) worse than schoolwork; and many of the adults around them are lying when they say they like what they do.

The most dangerous liars can be the kids’ own parents. If you take a boring job to give your family a high standard of living, as so many people do, you risk infecting your kids with the idea that work is boring. [2] Maybe it would be better for kids in this one case if parents were not so unselfish. A parent who set an example of loving their work might help their kids more than an expensive house. [3]

It was not till I was in college that the idea of work finally broke free from the idea of making a living. Then the important question became not how to make money, but what to work on. Ideally these coincided, but some spectacular boundary cases (like Einstein in the patent office) proved they weren’t identical.

The definition of work was now to make some original contribution to the world, and in the process not to starve. But after the habit of so many years my idea of work still included a large component of pain. Work still seemed to require discipline, because only hard problems yielded grand results, and hard problems couldn’t literally be fun. Surely one had to force oneself to work on them.

If you think something’s supposed to hurt, you’re less likely to notice if you’re doing it wrong. That about sums up my experience of graduate school.

Bounds

How much are you supposed to like what you do? Unless you know that, you don’t know when to stop searching. And if, like most people, you underestimate it, you’ll tend to stop searching too early. You’ll end up doing something chosen for you by your parents, or the desire to make money, or prestige—or sheer inertia.

Here’s an upper bound: Do what you love doesn’t mean, do what you would like to do most this second. Even Einstein probably had moments when he wanted to have a cup of coffee, but told himself he ought to finish what he was working on first.

It used to perplex me when I read about people who liked what they did so much that there was nothing they’d rather do. There didn’t seem to be any sort of work I liked that much. If I had a choice of (a) spending the next hour working on something or (b) be teleported to Rome and spend the next hour wandering about, was there any sort of work I’d prefer? Honestly, no.

But the fact is, almost anyone would rather, at any given moment, float about in the Carribbean, or have sex, or eat some delicious food, than work on hard problems. The rule about doing what you love assumes a certain length of time. It doesn’t mean, do what will make you happiest this second, but what will make you happiest over some longer period, like a week or a month.

Unproductive pleasures pall eventually. After a while you get tired of lying on the beach. If you want to stay happy, you have to do something.

As a lower bound, you have to like your work more than any unproductive pleasure. You have to like what you do enough that the concept of “spare time” seems mistaken. Which is not to say you have to spend all your time working. You can only work so much before you get tired and start to screw up. Then you want to do something else—even something mindless. But you don’t regard this time as the prize and the time you spend working as the pain you endure to earn it.

I put the lower bound there for practical reasons. If your work is not your favorite thing to do, you’ll have terrible problems with procrastination. You’ll have to force yourself to work, and when you resort to that the results are distinctly inferior.

To be happy I think you have to be doing something you not only enjoy, but admire. You have to be able to say, at the end, wow, that’s pretty cool. This doesn’t mean you have to make something. If you learn how to hang glide, or to speak a foreign language fluently, that will be enough to make you say, for a while at least, wow, that’s pretty cool. What there has to be is a test.

So one thing that falls just short of the standard, I think, is reading books. Except for some books in math and the hard sciences, there’s no test of how well you’ve read a book, and that’s why merely reading books doesn’t quite feel like work. You have to do something with what you’ve read to feel productive.

I think the best test is one Gino Lee taught me: to try to do things that would make your friends say wow. But it probably wouldn’t start to work properly till about age 22, because most people haven’t had a big enough sample to pick friends from before then.

Sirens

What you should not do, I think, is worry about the opinion of anyone beyond your friends. You shouldn’t worry about prestige. Prestige is the opinion of the rest of the world. When you can ask the opinions of people whose judgement you respect, what does it add to consider the opinions of people you don’t even know? [4]

This is easy advice to give. It’s hard to follow, especially when you’re young. [5] Prestige is like a powerful magnet that warps even your beliefs about what you enjoy. It causes you to work not on what you like, but what you’d like to like.

That’s what leads people to try to write novels, for example. They like reading novels. They notice that people who write them win Nobel prizes. What could be more wonderful, they think, than to be a novelist? But liking the idea of being a novelist is not enough; you have to like the actual work of novel-writing if you’re going to be good at it; you have to like making up elaborate lies.

Prestige is just fossilized inspiration. If you do anything well enough, you’ll make it prestigious. Plenty of things we now consider prestigious were anything but at first. Jazz comes to mind—though almost any established art form would do. So just do what you like, and let prestige take care of itself.

Prestige is especially dangerous to the ambitious. If you want to make ambitious people waste their time on errands, the way to do it is to bait the hook with prestige. That’s the recipe for getting people to give talks, write forewords, serve on committees, be department heads, and so on. It might be a good rule simply to avoid any prestigious task. If it didn’t suck, they wouldn’t have had to make it prestigious.

Similarly, if you admire two kinds of work equally, but one is more prestigious, you should probably choose the other. Your opinions about what’s admirable are always going to be slightly influenced by prestige, so if the two seem equal to you, you probably have more genuine admiration for the less prestigious one.

The other big force leading people astray is money. Money by itself is not that dangerous. When something pays well but is regarded with contempt, like telemarketing, or prostitution, or personal injury litigation, ambitious people aren’t tempted by it. That kind of work ends up being done by people who are “just trying to make a living.” (Tip: avoid any field whose practitioners say this.) The danger is when money is combined with prestige, as in, say, corporate law, or medicine. A comparatively safe and prosperous career with some automatic baseline prestige is dangerously tempting to someone young, who hasn’t thought much about what they really like.

The test of whether people love what they do is whether they’d do it even if they weren’t paid for it—even if they had to work at another job to make a living. How many corporate lawyers would do their current work if they had to do it for free, in their spare time, and take day jobs as waiters to support themselves?

This test is especially helpful in deciding between different kinds of academic work, because fields vary greatly in this respect. Most good mathematicians would work on math even if there were no jobs as math professors, whereas in the departments at the other end of the spectrum, the availability of teaching jobs is the driver: people would rather be English professors than work in ad agencies, and publishing papers is the way you compete for such jobs. Math would happen without math departments, but it is the existence of English majors, and therefore jobs teaching them, that calls into being all those thousands of dreary papers about gender and identity in the novels of Conrad. No one does that kind of thing for fun.

The advice of parents will tend to err on the side of money. It seems safe to say there are more undergrads who want to be novelists and whose parents want them to be doctors than who want to be doctors and whose parents want them to be novelists. The kids think their parents are “materialistic.” Not necessarily. All parents tend to be more conservative for their kids than they would for themselves, simply because, as parents, they share risks more than rewards. If your eight year old son decides to climb a tall tree, or your teenage daughter decides to date the local bad boy, you won’t get a share in the excitement, but if your son falls, or your daughter gets pregnant, you’ll have to deal with the consequences.

Discipline

With such powerful forces leading us astray, it’s not surprising we find it so hard to discover what we like to work on. Most people are doomed in childhood by accepting the axiom that work = pain. Those who escape this are nearly all lured onto the rocks by prestige or money. How many even discover something they love to work on? A few hundred thousand, perhaps, out of billions.

It’s hard to find work you love; it must be, if so few do. So don’t underestimate this task. And don’t feel bad if you haven’t succeeded yet. In fact, if you admit to yourself that you’re discontented, you’re a step ahead of most people, who are still in denial. If you’re surrounded by colleagues who claim to enjoy work that you find contemptible, odds are they’re lying to themselves. Not necessarily, but probably.

Although doing great work takes less discipline than people think—because the way to do great work is to find something you like so much that you don’t have to force yourself to do it—finding work you love does usually require discipline. Some people are lucky enough to know what they want to do when they’re 12, and just glide along as if they were on railroad tracks. But this seems the exception. More often people who do great things have careers with the trajectory of a ping-pong ball. They go to school to study A, drop out and get a job doing B, and then become famous for C after taking it up on the side.

Sometimes jumping from one sort of work to another is a sign of energy, and sometimes it’s a sign of laziness. Are you dropping out, or boldly carving a new path? You often can’t tell yourself. Plenty of people who will later do great things seem to be disappointments early on, when they’re trying to find their niche.

Is there some test you can use to keep yourself honest? One is to try to do a good job at whatever you’re doing, even if you don’t like it. Then at least you’ll know you’re not using dissatisfaction as an excuse for being lazy. Perhaps more importantly, you’ll get into the habit of doing things well.

Another test you can use is: always produce. For example, if you have a day job you don’t take seriously because you plan to be a novelist, are you producing? Are you writing pages of fiction, however bad? As long as you’re producing, you’ll know you’re not merely using the hazy vision of the grand novel you plan to write one day as an opiate. The view of it will be obstructed by the all too palpably flawed one you’re actually writing.

“Always produce” is also a heuristic for finding the work you love. If you subject yourself to that constraint, it will automatically push you away from things you think you’re supposed to work on, toward things you actually like. “Always produce” will discover your life’s work the way water, with the aid of gravity, finds the hole in your roof.

Of course, figuring out what you like to work on doesn’t mean you get to work on it. That’s a separate question. And if you’re ambitious you have to keep them separate: you have to make a conscious effort to keep your ideas about what you want from being contaminated by what seems possible. [6]

It’s painful to keep them apart, because it’s painful to observe the gap between them. So most people pre-emptively lower their expectations. For example, if you asked random people on the street if they’d like to be able to draw like Leonardo, you’d find most would say something like “Oh, I can’t draw.” This is more a statement of intention than fact; it means, I’m not going to try. Because the fact is, if you took a random person off the street and somehow got them to work as hard as they possibly could at drawing for the next twenty years, they’d get surprisingly far. But it would require a great moral effort; it would mean staring failure in the eye every day for years. And so to protect themselves people say “I can’t.”

Another related line you often hear is that not everyone can do work they love—that someone has to do the unpleasant jobs. Really? How do you make them? In the US the only mechanism for forcing people to do unpleasant jobs is the draft, and that hasn’t been invoked for over 30 years. All we can do is encourage people to do unpleasant work, with money and prestige.

If there’s something people still won’t do, it seems as if society just has to make do without. That’s what happened with domestic servants. For millennia that was the canonical example of a job “someone had to do.” And yet in the mid twentieth century servants practically disappeared in rich countries, and the rich have just had to do without.

So while there may be some things someone has to do, there’s a good chance anyone saying that about any particular job is mistaken. Most unpleasant jobs would either get automated or go undone if no one were willing to do them.

Two Routes

There’s another sense of “not everyone can do work they love” that’s all too true, however. One has to make a living, and it’s hard to get paid for doing work you love. There are two routes to that destination:

The organic route: as you become more eminent, gradually to increase the parts of your job that you like at the expense of those you don’t.

The two-job route: to work at things you don’t like to get money to work on things you do.

The organic route is more common. It happens naturally to anyone who does good work. A young architect has to take whatever work he can get, but if he does well he’ll gradually be in a position to pick and choose among projects. The disadvantage of this route is that it’s slow and uncertain. Even tenure is not real freedom.

The two-job route has several variants depending on how long you work for money at a time. At one extreme is the “day job,” where you work regular hours at one job to make money, and work on what you love in your spare time. At the other extreme you work at something till you make enough not to have to work for money again.

The two-job route is less common than the organic route, because it requires a deliberate choice. It’s also more dangerous. Life tends to get more expensive as you get older, so it’s easy to get sucked into working longer than you expected at the money job. Worse still, anything you work on changes you. If you work too long on tedious stuff, it will rot your brain. And the best paying jobs are most dangerous, because they require your full attention.

The advantage of the two-job route is that it lets you jump over obstacles. The landscape of possible jobs isn’t flat; there are walls of varying heights between different kinds of work. [7] The trick of maximizing the parts of your job that you like can get you from architecture to product design, but not, probably, to music. If you make money doing one thing and then work on another, you have more freedom of choice.

Which route should you take? That depends on how sure you are of what you want to do, how good you are at taking orders, how much risk you can stand, and the odds that anyone will pay (in your lifetime) for what you want to do. If you’re sure of the general area you want to work in and it’s something people are likely to pay you for, then you should probably take the organic route. But if you don’t know what you want to work on, or don’t like to take orders, you may want to take the two-job route, if you can stand the risk.

Don’t decide too soon. Kids who know early what they want to do seem impressive, as if they got the answer to some math question before the other kids. They have an answer, certainly, but odds are it’s wrong.

A friend of mine who is a quite successful doctor complains constantly about her job. When people applying to medical school ask her for advice, she wants to shake them and yell “Don’t do it!” (But she never does.) How did she get into this fix? In high school she already wanted to be a doctor. And she is so ambitious and determined that she overcame every obstacle along the way—including, unfortunately, not liking it.

Now she has a life chosen for her by a high-school kid.

When you’re young, you’re given the impression that you’ll get enough information to make each choice before you need to make it. But this is certainly not so with work. When you’re deciding what to do, you have to operate on ridiculously incomplete information. Even in college you get little idea what various types of work are like. At best you may have a couple internships, but not all jobs offer internships, and those that do don’t teach you much more about the work than being a batboy teaches you about playing baseball.

In the design of lives, as in the design of most other things, you get better results if you use flexible media. So unless you’re fairly sure what you want to do, your best bet may be to choose a type of work that could turn into either an organic or two-job career. That was probably part of the reason I chose computers. You can be a professor, or make a lot of money, or morph it into any number of other kinds of work.

It’s also wise, early on, to seek jobs that let you do many different things, so you can learn faster what various kinds of work are like. Conversely, the extreme version of the two-job route is dangerous because it teaches you so little about what you like. If you work hard at being a bond trader for ten years, thinking that you’ll quit and write novels when you have enough money, what happens when you quit and then discover that you don’t actually like writing novels?

Most people would say, I’d take that problem. Give me a million dollars and I’ll figure out what to do. But it’s harder than it looks. Constraints give your life shape. Remove them and most people have no idea what to do: look at what happens to those who win lotteries or inherit money. Much as everyone thinks they want financial security, the happiest people are not those who have it, but those who like what they do. So a plan that promises freedom at the expense of knowing what to do with it may not be as good as it seems.

Whichever route you take, expect a struggle. Finding work you love is very difficult. Most people fail. Even if you succeed, it’s rare to be free to work on what you want till your thirties or forties. But if you have the destination in sight you’ll be more likely to arrive at it. If you know you can love work, you’re in the home stretch, and if you know what work you love, you’re practically there.”

 

Get out there and get ’em! (Evin – http://www.mrgurupublishing.com)

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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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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Will Printed Books Fly Away with the Dodo Bird?

I’ve wondered about this over the past couple of years. Will our great grandchildren look back at printed books and laugh, wondering how archaic it must have been to hold a book in hand and turn *gulp* paper pages?

Let’s face it. E-books are easy. They are available for instant download, can cost only pennies compared to new release print books and they save trees.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m an old fashioned guy. I love to hold a book in my hand. I love the way they smell (yeah, I’m twisted like that), the way they feel and the way they look lining my bookshelves.

I found an article online written by Josh Catone (http://mashable.com/2013/01/16/e-books-vs-print/) which contains his thoughts on why the printed book will never die:

“Measured en masse, the stack of “books I want to read” that sits precariously on the edge of a built-in bookshelf in my dining room just about eclipses 5,000 pages. The shelf is full to bursting with titles I hope to consume at some indeterminate point in the future.

It would be a lot easier to manage if I just downloaded all those books to an iPad or Kindle. None are hard to find editions that would be unavailable in a digital format, and a few are recent hardcover releases, heavy and unwieldy.

But there’s something about print that I can’t give up. There’s something about holding a book in your hand and the visceral act of physically turning a page that, for me at least, can’t be matched with pixels on a screen.

Yet the writing appears to be on the wall: E-books are slowly subsuming the printed format as the preferred vehicle on which people read books. E-books topped print sales for the first time in 2011, a trend that continued into 2012. Just this month, Bexar County, Texas announced plans for the nation’s first electronic-only library. A recent study from Scholastic found that the percentage of children who have read an e-book has nearly doubled since 2010 to almost half of all kids aged 9 to 17, while the number who say they’ll continue to read books in print instead of electronically declined from 66% to 58%.

The hits keep coming.

For those who prefer their books printed in ink on paper, that sounds depressing. But perhaps there is reason to hope that e-books and print books could have a bright future together, because for all the great things e-books accomplish — convenience, selection, portability, multimedia — there are still some fundamental qualities they will simply never possess.

Books have physical beauty.


 

That’s not to say that electronic books can’t be beautiful — as a medium, e-books are still new and designers have yet to fully realize their potential. But for paper books, we’re already there. As Craig Mod points out in his essay “Hacking the Cover,” the book cover evolved as a marketing tool. It had to grab your attention from its place on the shelf. For that reason, the best designed covers were often beautiful art pieces. Not so in the digital world.

“The cover image may help quickly ground us, but our eyes are drawn by habit to number and quality of reviews. We’re looking for metrics other than images — real metrics — not artificial marketing signifiers,” he wrote. And though that might eventually free book designers to get more creative with their designs, you can’t display a digital book, even if you wanted to. Any electronic book that boasts beautiful design, does so only ethereally.

Author Joe Queenan, in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece, argued that e-books are great for people who care only about the contents, have vision problems or other physical limitations or who are ashamed of what they’re reading.

But for people who truly love books, print is the only medium that will satisfy.

“People who need to possess the physical copy of a book, not merely an electronic version, believe that the objects themselves are sacred,” he wrote.

“Some people may find this attitude baffling, arguing that books are merely objects that take up space. This is true, but so are Prague and your kids and the Sistine Chapel.”

“Some people may find this attitude baffling, arguing that books are merely objects that take up space. This is true, but so are Prague and your kids and the Sistine Chapel.”

Web entrepreneur, designer and novelist Jack Cheng, who recently funded the printing of his book through Kickstarter, told me that printed books just offer a more robust experience to the reader. “I feel like with e-books, you often just get a meal on the same white plate as all the other meals,” he mused. “But a nice hardcover is like having a place setting, having dinnerware selected to suit the food. The story is still the main thing you’re there for, but the choices around it — the paper stock, the way the book is typeset, the selection of fonts — they add their own subtle flavors to the experience of that story.”

Books have provenance.


 

Your favorite books define you, and digital versions don’t seem to impart connections that are quite as deep.

Queenan again:

Books as physical objects matter to me, because they evoke the past. A Métro ticket falls out of a book I bought 40 years ago, and I am transported back to the Rue Saint-Jacques on Sept. 12, 1972, where I am waiting for someone named Annie LeCombe. A telephone message from a friend who died too young falls out of a book, and I find myself back in the Chateau Marmont on a balmy September day in 1995. A note I scribbled to myself in “Homage to Catalonia” in 1973 when I was in Granada reminds me to learn Spanish, which I have not yet done, and to go back to Granada.

This piece of the experience doesn’t translate to the electronic format. Someday in the distant future, maybe David Eggers’ Kindle will be sold by Bauman Rare Books on Madison Avenue, but it’s unlikely that digital books will ever be personal artifacts the way that their physical counterparts can be.

“I think print and paper has a lasting value that people appreciate. Pixels are too temporary,” said Praveen Madan, an entrepreneur on the Kepler’s 2020 team, via email. Madan and his cohorts are attempting to reinvent the business model for independent bookstores, including ways to sell and offer services around e-books. “Books have been around for a very long time and people have a deeper relationship with some books than most digital content,” he said.

Printed books are collectible.


 

They possess the quality of scarcity, which means that your copy is unique on some level. For readers who truly love a particular book, an electronic facsimile is not an adequate replacement for owning a physical copy.

“There are books that I need bound and sitting on my shelf. I need a copy of Fahrenheit 451. That book is important to me,” author Rob Hart, the website administrator for digital imprint Mysterious Press and class director at LitReactor, told me. “Digital technology is funny — you own an e-book, but you don’t … You’re paying for the right to access data.”

Cheng has also felt the draw of books as collectible objects. “Personally I’ve gone out and purchased hardcovers of books I first read on my Kindle because I wanted them in a more tangible form,” he explained.

“Having a hardcover on my shelf is like having a print by one of my favorite artists on the wall.”

“Having a hardcover on my shelf is like having a print by one of my favorite artists on the wall.”

He predicts that print might have a future similar to vinyl.

“The physical artifacts are beginning to feel more precious, more like gifts. And I can see publishing going the same way,” he said. “Maybe what we’ll lose to digital publishing are the cheaply produced mass market printings on poor quality paper. And what we’ll gain is a new appreciation for well-designed, higher-quality hardbacks, like the ones folks at The Folio Society are putting out.”

In a surprising flip of the traditional publishing cycle, Random House’s Doubleday recently announced plans to print hardcover versions of E.L. James’ bestselling 50 Shades of Grey trilogy, even though electronic and mass market paperback editions have already sold 65 million copies. Why? Reader demand. You just can’t collect an e-book.

Books are nostalgic.


 

The PBS website MediaShift recently asked a group of book lovers in Chapel Hill and Durham, N.C. which they preferred: printed or electronic books? Those who preferred printed books cited things like the smell, the feel and the weight as reasons.

“Paper books don’t get replaced by e-books, because there’s just part of the experience you can’t reproduce,” said one man. (Of course, nostalgia is generational.)

But if e-books just replace mass market paperbacks, as Cheng predicts, will books become merely art pieces? Some pundits think so.

Writing last year in Slate, Michael Agresta argued that printed books will only survive as art. Books are no longer a good “vessel for text,” he wrote. “Bookshelves will survive in the homes of serious digital-age readers, but their contents will be much more judiciously curated. The next generation of paper books will likely rival the art hanging beside them on the walls for beauty, expense, and ‘aura’ — for better or for worse.”

In some ways, Agresta is correct. It would be smart to bet that print sales will continue to decline, while e-book sales will continue to rise. Most people will own fewer printed books, and those they do own may very well be beautiful collector’s editions, like the 50 Shades hardcovers, meant for display.

But it’s a mistake to assume that this is a case of the MP3 replacing the CD, or the CD replacing the cassette.

E-books are not simply a better format replacing an inferior one; they offer a wholly different experience.

E-books are not simply a better format replacing an inferior one; they offer a wholly different experience.

Brian Haberlin is one of the co-authors of Anomaly, an ambitious printed graphic novel, augmented by a smartphone app that makes animations leap off the page while you read. I asked why he chose to print the heavy, unwieldy and expensive hardcover edition. His answer was simple: “Because books are cool! I love print, always will. I love digital, always will. But they will continue to be different experiences. It’s a different texture, a different experience and that alone warrants their existence.”

Yes, Anomaly is one of those beautiful, collectible art pieces. But it also highlights why print is here to stay. The experience of reading Anomaly on your iPad is vastly different than the experience of reading the printed version. The story is the same, but the medium affects the way you read it. It’s not totally unlike the difference between watching the movie version of Les Miserables and watching it performed live on stage.

There may come a time when we look at electronic books and printed books as similarly divergent mediums.

In a recent Fast Company column titled “The Future of Reading,” author and comedian Baratunde Thurston made a compelling case for why books might just be better in electronic form. Superior annotation tools, easier discovery, interactive content and shared reading experiences are just some of the things made possible because digital publishing has allowed us to, as Thurston put it, network our words “and the ideas they represent.” For Thurston, this is an either-or scenario. Digital books or printed books. And while he lamented our diminished attention spans — the result of distractions embedded in the digital format — he concluded that it’s all worth it because of the great things e-books can do.

But the choice between e-books and printed books is not a zero sum game. Print books do not have to disappear for e-books to flourish, and e-books don’t have to be the only choice.

“Printed books are for people who love printed books. Digital books are for those who love digital books,” Haberlin told me.

Maybe it’s just that simple.”

 

Turn those pages! (Evin – http://www.mrgurupublishing.com)

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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The Genre

I picked up a science fiction book in a used book store on Tuesday (one that I ended up buying). I normally don’t read much sci-fi however looking through it really made me think. I was thinking about how difficult it would be for me personally to write sci-fi. I’m more of a mystery, suspense, paranormal type of writer. My mind just doesn’t tend to come up with any good sci-fi material.

I’ve watched enough movies and television series that I’m surprised I can’t write within that genre. It really makes me wonder what makes us as writers, able to create stories within specific genres. Would I be able to write a sci-fi novel even if I tried?

I found an article written by Cliff Daigle on About.com (http://fictionwriting.about.com/od/genrefiction/a/How-To-Choose-A-Genre-For-Your-Novels.htm) and this was his perspective on choosing a genre:

“The choice of genre is a pretty straightforward process for some writers. They love writing one kind of thing, and that’s what they focus on. For the rest of us, this can be a difficult decision to make.

Why Choose?

The easiest choice to make is not to choose at all. By choosing to stay open to writing in any genre you are free to pursue any idea that grabs you. You could write a gothic horror novel, followed by a techo-thriller.

So why choose if by choosing you limit your options? It all comes down to marketability. When a publisher buys your novel what they are really buying is you, the author. They want to know that they can build a platform, a brand, around you and your writing. They need to believe that there will be more books, similar to the first, on the way. That means sticking to one genre.

Imagine pitching a fantasy novel to a publisher. They ask if you have other novels either finished or in-progress. You tell them that you also have a romance, a western, and a collection of hard-boiled crime stories. Does this help you sell your fantasy novel? Not at all.

If all your other books, stories and works-in-progress were in the fantasy genre, then you’d be that much closer to a sale. It might sound shallow, but it does make sense.

Other Benefits Genre Choice

Sticking to one genre has a few other advantages as well:

  • Constraints breed creativity. Sometimes having some rules to write by actually makes you more creative. When you can write about anything it can be difficult to know where to start.
  • You look more professional. It’s important for publishers to see that you understand the need to build a platform and that you’ve started on your own. The more confidence they have in your willingness to market yourself, the better.
  • You become known as an expert. The more you write in one genre the more people see you as an authority in that area.
  • It’s one less choice to make. As a writer building a career your life is filled with endless choices. Now you have one less!

How to Choose

The most obvious way to pick a genre is to write what you like to read. If you mostly read romance, then write romance. Most of us read in several genres, and that can make it tricky though. Do you choose the one that seems the most marketable? The one you think is the most fun? Flip a coin?

This is ultimately a personal choice, but there are a few techniques that can help you choose:

  • Make a pros and cons list. The classic decision-making tool. Write down the good and bad reasons to write in each genre and see how it shakes out.
  • Go with your gut. After thinking about your options for a while, sit quietly for a while and listen to your intuition. Forget about marketing, or what your friends will think, what does your heart tell you to write?
  • Pick the most marketable genre. This is tricky since it’s almost impossible to guess where the market is going. That said, you may be choosing between writing in a super-niche, micro-market, and something more mainstream. If you truly feel that they are equally-weighted in every other way, then maybe go with the one you think you can sell.

As you examine potential genres pay attention to the ones that attract you, but scare you at the same time. If you’re excited to write in a certain area, but afraid that you won’t be able to do it, then seriously consider choosing that genre. Often what you fear doing is what you need most to grow as an artist.

When to Choose

Do you really need to choose right away? It probably won’t hurt.

If you are writing in several genres, you will have to pick one once a publisher agrees to publish one of your novels. And since your off-genre novels won’t do much to help you sign a deal, you might as well choose as soon as you can.

Can I Change My Mind?

Sure. Once you’re established you can start to work in a new genre if you like. Many successful authors write in multiple genres. They didn’t start out that way, though. They mastered one genre at a time, building a fan-base and a catalog before moving on to something new.

Of course if you’re prolific enough to be shopping multiple books in multiple genres you can always use a pseudonym to brand each genre separately. It’s certainly not an easy way to start out though!

The Bottom Line

As critical a decision as this is, it’s important not to let it paralyze you. The worst thing you can do is use your indecision about genre as an excuse not to write. If you really need to write something off-genre, then go ahead. Just make the choice as soon as you can, and keep the words flowing in the meantime.”

Decisions, decisions (Evin – http://www.mrgurupublishing.com)

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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