Traditional Publishing

30398113807_cb49d1867f

 

Forty-five percent of book sales on Amazon last year were written by self-published authors.

That’s getting close to half—and predictions are for that number to keep going up. 

Still, there is an honor attached to being accepted by a traditional publishing house. These authors are viewed by some as being “real” authors—although that viewpoint is rapidly changing.

There are not as many big publishing houses as there used to be, making it even more difficult for a writer to get a book deal from a publisher. If they do, it makes it all the more prestigious. 

So, what is it that a publisher might do for an author that they cannot do for themselves?

Well, first of all there’s the imprint of the publishing house on the book cover that is akin to getting a gold star on a spelling test in elementary school (at least that’s how it was “way back when” at the school I attended).

Then, there is the fact that major publishers pull a lot of weight with the brick and mortar bookstores and are much more likely to get their authors actual shelf space.

Finally, traditional publishers may get some of their most popular authors cash advances in some cases and they often have in-house editors. 

In days-gone-by, traditional publishers did a lot of marketing for their authors, but don’t count on that in today’s world. These writers are finding the greatest responsibility for advertising their books is being placed on their very own shoulders.

So, I ask, again, what is it that a traditional publisher might do for an author that he/she cannot do for themselves?

In my humble opinion, not much.

However, if you are young and have time on your side so you can afford to wait for a traditional book deal and/or the points I’ve mentioned are important to you, then by all means polish up your query letter.

We’ve talked about the query letter before, but for those who haven’t been following this blog for a lengthy period of time, I will touch on the subject next week.

 

Advertisements

It’s Decision Time

43268665132_58f42a6d8e

 

Will you self-publish or seek a traditional publisher?

These are two different roads, to be sure. You may choose to self-publish if you want to retain more control in the process. Along with that is the fact that you will also do most of the work yourself, which includes the cover, interior formatting, obtaining your ISBN’s, marketing, etc. One hundred percent of the financial burden will be yours, also.

The internet is full of self-publishing options, so read everything you can about them. Talk with other authors. Ask what they chose to do—and if they would do the same thing, again. 

Some of the options offer as little or as much guidance as you’d like and vary widely in costs. Your budget, time available to work, and your technological abilities may dictate which is the best course of action for you.

I published my first three fiction books through Author Academy Elite. You can find out everything about Kary Oberbrunner and his team on the internet. Sign up for a free webinar to determine if this—or a similar self-publishing group—is the course of action for you.

My two interactive picture books for Alzheimer’s patients, I Remember the Seasons and I Remember Bible Stories were totally self-published under my own imprint, Connections Press. 

I made both decisions by listing the plusses and minuses of each option. I weighed them until I was sure that one was the best choice for my situation.

Once I made my decision, I moved ahead quickly. I got the job done.

I still go through the same process each time I am ready to publish a new book. Things in the industry change, my skills improve (or at least I’d like to think they do) and finances are always a consideration. I use what I’ve learned to help me make the best decision for each book.

Next week’s blog post: traditional publishers.

How Much Do Dreams Cost?

 

26750426209_ac05df060e

 

I spent almost every day last week gathering information for my accountant. I needed receipts and various other kinds of documentation for both our personal tax returns and those for my business.

I DO keep receipts in separate folders. However, according to my accountant, those of us in the business of writing, need to keep a monthly ledger of expenses (publishing costs, marketing, office supplies, and so on) and deposits (sales would make up the bulk of this income).

This habit makes tax time so much easier than tackling it all at once—as I did.

It’s also much easier if you have a credit and/or debit card for personal  AND a completely different one for your business (which, thankfully, I did). We also need separate checking accounts.

Not only are these habits essential for taxes, they also are eye-opening when it comes to seeing in black and white—and maybe red—just how well our businesses performed over the past year.

Just as I claimed when I was a classroom teacher that  “no one goes into the educational profession to make money,” I have realized the same holds true for writing.

Teachers teach largely because of their love for children and writers write out of a passion for communicating the written word.

I have learned to embrace this truth so that I am not so discouraged when I look at the bottom line, realizing the hourly rate for which I have been willing to work in order to achieve my dream.

After all, one cannot put a price on dreams…

Spend Until it Hurts

32096566364_99f2574c8d

 

I promised to address the subject of a marketing budget this week.

Delving into it, I discovered a frightening truth: how much money to allocate for marketing simply depends on how much you have and how famous you are.

The more your name is recognized, the less you’ll have to spend on marketing.

Do you think Stephen King has to spend much, now that his name is a literally a “household word?”

Nope.

He has people searching the internet and bookstores for his newest releases. They fly off the shelves the minute they are available for sale.

So, what I can tell you about a marketing budget is this:

Spend until it hurts.

Spend it when you can least afford it because that’s when you most need it.

When you’re rich and famous, you can sit back and rake it in…without spending a nickel.

Sharing Good Advice

Uruguay, Montevideo:   Inside a bookstore.

I recently went to another writing conference. One of the speakers, best-selling author Jennifer Ashley, offered her perspective on what sells books (and she should know because she has written more than 100 of them). I’ll share her TOP THREE ideas:

First, connect with your readers. She says the best way ISN’T Facebook, Twitter, etc. It is, in her opinion, good writing. So, she says to focus on your writing 90% of the time. The other 10% can be devoted to marketing.

Secondly, you must have an Intriguing Premise, so followers will want to read/learn more.

Finally, write about iconic characters, such as firemen, policemen, and cowboys.

I hope these little nuggets are useful to you, especially to those of you who may be choosing characters for a new book, considering the message you want to get across, or facing a marketing vs. writing crisis.

Brand+ Platform = Successful Marketing

27227677773_5a084bf604Two things (besides great writing) make an author appealing to agents, editors, publishers, and readers: Brand and Platform.

Differentiating one author from another, they make them visible on all of their communication channels.

(My last blog dealt with branding. If you didn’t happen to read it, you can find it archived on www.brendapoulos.org).

The author platform is how an author is currently reaching an audience of readers, or their plan for doing so.

An author must be VISIBLE and INVOLVED on the social networks to stand out among the masses.

So, a platform (the plan for visibility as a speaker, business owner, blogger, website owner, podcaster—as well as a presence on Twitter, Facebook, etc.–is what an author uses to prove that their books will sell.

Both Indie authors, as well as traditionally published authors, must show a willingness to put in time and effort into marketing themselves online.

So, when should an author establish their platform?

“Yesterday” is a great answer.

That’s right.

Since building a platform takes time, experts tell us authors need begin even before they have a book ready to publish.

Most people are on Facebook, so that may be a logical place to start.

Experts tell us that having one’s own website is ESSENTIAL—and there are quite a few that are free, including WordPress and Weebly.

After that, the sky is the limit.

Put in the time.

Reap the rewards.

Remember:  Branding + Platform = Successful Marketing

 

Authors: Introverts or Extroverts?

So often we think authors must be introverts, since writing is such a solitary, introspective endeavor.

Public speaking seems to be more in line with what an extrovert would do. After all, they thrive in environments full of people—malls, cafes, concerts, conferences.

Actually, it seems there is no direct correlation between being a writer and being an introvert or an extrovert.

Sure, if given a choice, introverts may rather express their ideas in writing than in speech and extroverts more often enjoy taking to the stage.

But, for both, writing provides a way of expression, although perhaps a more comfortable medium of expression for introverts.

 

27626409046_4216b88b2c

 

There is also a third category, called ambiverts, striking a balance between these two extremes. This personality trait includes the qualities of both introversion and extroversion.

I am convinced that the longer a person writes, the possibility of him/her becoming anambivert increases. After all, introverts find that much of their career depends on marketing, publicity, and teaching opportunities. Extroverts realize that even though they thrive on social contact, they must still spend a good deal of their time working  alone.

Of course, people retain their basic personality type, but environment and heredity both play a significant role in the blending of these two types into one super type—the best of both worlds—the ambivert.

A hybrid. A super communicator. A writer.