“The Truth About Publishing”

“The Truth About Publishing”

The title has been borrowed from Ian Irvine’s website, which all of you should thoroughly read.

So a lot of writers go into publishing believing they have realistic expectations (I am not talking about the ones who go in and think they’ll be bestsellers or millionaires because they’re with a major publisher). I, too, thought I went into publishing with realistic standards, until I realized my standards weren’t realistic at all, which did depress me for a few days–but I was also depressed about something major that happened in my ballet life; however, rest assured, I haven’t quit ballet, and it didn’t have anything to do with my questioning whether or not I was good enough to continue on doing ballet. So two depressing things thrown at me made me feel depressed again–and heartbroken, mainly a bunch of pointe shoes stabbing my heart. Monday and Tuesday, I didn’t even get out of bed until 10:30, and I just could not bring myself to write. I’ll tell you that ballet was the biggest part of it, though. Publishing was only a small factor. But this post is not about ballet. (I know I deviate a lot, don’t I?)

This post is about having to almost severely lower our standards for what we should expect in terms of book sales and publishing itself: with both small and large presses. I know I have had to lower mine, and I have found myself being able to accept selling X number of books per month; however, I do expect that as I go on, I should be selling more. I have high expectations for a reason, so that way I can strive toward where I want to be. Thus, I am going to use Mr. Irvine’s article to highlight some major points about the truth in the publishing world, a truth that even veteran authors seem to have become jaded to. So you can read the article, but I’ll just make it easier for you by highlighting the major stuff.

  1. You’re not considered published until you’re in print. Sadly, a lot of authors get their hopes up that when an editor falls in love with their manuscript, that they are considered published authors. I think I considered myself a pre-published author upon inception to AEC because I knew any number of things could happen, like, for whatever reason, they could drop the project. Obviously, that didn’t happen. But, in short, and this is for both small and large presses, if your editor gets fired or leaves the job, and your manuscript is passed on to another who hates it, don’t expect publication. Having an agent or a publisher doesn’t guarantee anything. I know one person whose agent never found a house for her book. Unfortunately, I haven’t heard from this person in a while, so I’m not sure what happened, but her book seemed awesome. In any case, I want you to be downright realistic upon landing an agent or a publisher because ANYTHING can happen that could lead to heartbreak, for whatever reason. Sometimes an editor puts too much hope in a manuscript and the sales department thinks it’ll be a liability, and, just like that, your chance at publication is gone. Read Lesson 10A for more detail.
  2. Print runs. I can’t say too much on this because I have no idea how much Lightning Source prints for my book, but even with a major publisher, you’re an unknown author with no platform, so don’t expect a large print run. A great author could get a 200,000 run, and you’ll receive an astonishingly low number. Read Lesson 11 for more detail.
  3. You might hate your book. This often isn’t so with a small press, because author, cover artist, and publisher work hand-in-hand to create a cover that satisfies all parties. My former contract manager had her own ideas, my publisher had his own ideas, and I had my own ideas, and all of our ideas copulated and made something wonderful and awesome. Unfortunately, for those at a large press, you generally have no such input on the cover art process, unless you’re a big-time person, like John Green, who is a RARE commodity in publishing. So there is a chance you might hate your cover, and essentially you’ll be embarrassed by it and absolutely terrified to have it on the shelves–or anywhere, for that matter. Read Lesson 12.
  4. Uh…promotion. For big presses, your book might only end up in a book catalogue as far as promotions go: for a newbie author with no established sales record. If a publisher can’t stock your book in a bookstore, chances of sales are low. Remember, there is limited shelf space, and it costs money for your book to be in stores. If you are stocked, book quantities may be low, and your book might be facing spine out. At my B&N, bestsellers make up the brunt of the YA shelf space–or bestselling authors, at least. For a small press, the only person who is probably going to make it in a bookstore is someone who is a bestseller, often with a big publisher previously, because that bestseller alone bolsters that small presses’ brand. But don’t be impressed. Until a small press can get a non-bestseller book into bookstores, then, in my opinion, you can be impressed. Read Lesson 13.
  5. Read Lesson 14. I can’t explain this point that well.
  6. Book reviews. Veteran authors like to tout that books with big presses are going to get reviewed by something big and awesome. Unfortunately, a good amount NEVER get reviewed. Even a great review usually doesn’t bolster sales. Newbie writers simply don’t have the audience to warrant a review by some big newspaper or other review source. One review in a big-city paper could bolster sales, but that’s no guarantee. Really, it’s an ego boost. Read Lesson 15.
  7. Sales. Drop your expectations. Now. Especially drop them with a small press. 15,000-40,000 of mass paperbacks are good with a big press, but most books aren’t going to sell that much. With a small press, selling 1,000 in a year is basically an invitation to a ritzy party. There is also some myth out there that says if you write a trilogy, by the third book, you should be doing well. Not true, at least for some. Your second book will probably not sell as good as the first, at least until you can get a lot of people to love your first book who will then read the second, love the second, and will buy the third. Otherwise, your series will be in trouble. I mean, you can make more sales combined, as well as money, but you ultimately want a successful trilogy. Believe me. I have this fear. I have 51 reviews so far for When Stars Die, and most love it, but there are a tiny few who will not stick around for the sequel. Read Lesson 16.
  8. Literary awards. If your book is literary in nature, really, don’t expect great sales from this because it doesn’t fit with popular tastes. In fact, and I can’t remember where I read this, bookstores were reluctant to stock John Green’s TFiOS because of its pure literary nature. So having a literary award is great and all, but, again, it’s simply an ego booster, not really bought by the public but those in academia. Read Lesson 21.
  9. Years. I have to constantly remind myself that I am not one of the lucky 5% whose book ran out the gate as a bestseller. It’s especially harder with a small press. Even so, you can still find success. It just takes years. Stephen King took years. Look how big he is now. The authors that persist and sweat despite the initial lousy sales are the ones who make it. I had to remind myself that yesterday because I was frustrated with my own sales. And years can pass by much faster than you think. I mean, I don’t want them to because I don’t want my days to speed by, especially because every moment in life is precious, but, again, years go by us at light speed. Before you know it, your persistence could make you as big as Stephen King. Read Lesson 22.
  10. Success. When you do become successful, that’s probably more stressful than being not successful, because now you have to work even harder to stay successful, to make your fans happy, to make your publisher happy, and so on and so forth. Read Lessons 22, 23, and 24.
  11. Royalties. Holy monkey riding a banana. This is my first time reading this, and I am now BLASTED happy about my royalties. Granted, this takes into account possible agents in other countries. Also, I’ll admit that I wished the chart showed more, such as how many books sold to earn said royalty amount. In any case, read lesson 30. Net profits are a good thing with a small press. Trust me on this one.
  12. Just read lesson 30A.
  13. Changing publishers. After reading this, I realized sending ASO off to another publisher isn’t exactly as great of an idea as I thought, especially because I don’t have a good reason, other than AEC having their hands full with The Stars Trilogy (and they probably won’t get the book until 2015–or 2016–anyway!). My PA wasn’t going to talk me out of it, but she thought it strange, too. Now, however, I understand. The explanation presented in Ian’s lesson isn’t why I think it’s a bad idea. It’s just my own reasoning, and why I think it is a bad idea for newbie authors or those with small presses. My publisher is a brand. My book is under that brand. People who subscribe to AEC and are supporters of AEC and buy my book under that brand will expect more from me under that brand, especially if they become my fans. If I publish my book under another brand, there is a high possibility that it could do worse because it is not under my publisher’s brand, nor will it be in their newsletter. For example, if I got accepted by Spencer Hill Press, they’ll include my book in their newsletter; however, my fans will not know I have this new book under a new brand unless they’re actively seeking new books from me that are not in my trilogy. Readers can be fans of a trilogy, so they might expect something similar from an author for another book, as each publishing company caters to a certain taste. For example, I loved Libba Bray’s A Great and Terrible Beauty Trilogy, but I haven’t bought another book from her since that trilogy, because her other books are not in my range of taste–although I will buy The Diviners eventually because it’s closest to her first trilogy. It explains why there are authors who have books with different publishers, but one book is doing a lot better than some other book. It also explains why a certain press has a bestselling author whose book isn’t even selling in the midlist range. Those fans probably just don’t know about it because that brand isn’t in a bookstore! Anyway…for the other reason, read lesson 31.

After reading all of this, especially Ian’s entire article, if you’re discouraged and want to give up, you probably weren’t meant to be a writer. In fact, this article encouraged me because it made me realize that I AM NOT ALONE. And that is always heartening, isn’t it?

I have no idea what my next post will be, but consider me The Dancing Writer, Undercover Agent for All That is Publishing.

Publishers DO Market Books

Publishers DO Market Books

This is going to be a short post.

Lately there has been a myth among the self-publishing community that publishers do not market books, and because of this many feel they might as well self-publish. Now let me say that self-publishing, in my opinion, shouldn’t be used as a last resort, because that is insulting to self-publishing itself nowadays. But it should also not be used because you think having a publisher isn’t going to add any value you to. (In reality, we should just ditch the term self-publishing and just go with the indie label, which I think many are doing anyway.)

Rachelle Gardner is an excellent voice among the publishing community. I do not like to read articles from self-published authors that tout self-publishing as the way to go, and I do not like to read articles from experts in the publishing business who say self-published authors are doomed to fail and are only adding to the crap storm of books burying all the gems.

But she is an excellent voice because she is both in favor of self-publishing and traditionally publishing. So you can read her article here. This is also an argument for small presses, because they do marketing, although they may not be able to do it in the way legacy publishers can.

Marketing After a Book’s Release

Marketing After a Book’s Release

Preface: I just want to give all of you a bipolar update, basically. It seems my mood has stabilized, and there is a summer going on in my head. I will admit that yesterday I was manic, but I believe I induced that mania by eating too many espresso candy beans, so I’ll have to be wiser about caffeine in the future; however, it wasn’t dangerous mania. It was more of the go-go-go type of mania, where slowing down just annoyed me, and I just wanted to listen to loud music, talk all the time, move constantly, and act, well, like a teen on meth, basically. But, for once, I did not crash from this mania. I generally crash into depression, but I just slowly wound down, got tired–for once, not irritable–and just went to bed knowing I was no longer manic but feeling like I could wake up early and not sleep in. And I did wake up early: 8:30. I could have woken up earlier, but I’ll probably have to cut down my sleep meds, as I had to raise them because depression makes it difficult to sleep, even with meds. I think the higher dosage also makes me dream tons load, but I was actually dreaming good dreams last night, instead of nightmares. I am so getting off topic, but one of my dreams was about this ensuing flood that was coming, and the water level kept rising, but, for some reason, I felt so heroic throughout the whole dream because I was the one leading everybody to higher ground. In any case, without further ado, here is my post about marketing…finally.

marketing-mix-four-ps I thought this would be a cute graphic to start off with.

I consider myself a very marketing-minded person. I realize that marketing books is an enormous passion of mine. I love it. It’s fun. My publisher can do marketing and take care of the business aspect of things, too, and I can do marketing myself because When Stars Die is my baby, so why wouldn’t I be happy to market it?

In any case, let’s start with those four words over there. My publisher took care of basically all four of these, but especially price and place. He set the price of my book based on what he believed to be a competitive price, and people don’t seem to mind this price because, again, the book is out of stock. He also chose the places this book would start at, such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble–online. But he also chose his wife’s store to put AEC’s books in. He is also encouraging me to go to The Book Tavern downtown to establish a relationship with the business owner so he isn’t making a cold call about getting my book in stores. There are also some other things about place, but those are a surprise and a work-in-progress.

I mainly provided the product, but my publisher also helped to whip that product into shape. A product’s quality is the NUMBER ONE thing when it comes to marketing, and without my publisher, the quality of my product wouldn’t exist. If you have a crap product, no amount of publicity is going to help that thing. He also helped with promotion, through press releases, encouraging of ARCs, social media, an anthology, among a few other things. But for the promotion, I just took off from there like a steam train because it’s my book, I love it, I love my fans, and I want to be out there, out there, out there. I am proud of my book, and so of course I’m going to parade it around like it’s my kid who just won a Nobel prize for discovering magnematter (a total hint at Raymond Vogel’s ‘Matter of Resistance.’ Seriously, people, get the book).

First off, marketing a book is not like marketing Coke (not the drug, you gutter rat). When you see an ad for Coke on television, you aren’t going to immediately go out and buy a Coke. However, if you see the ad enough times, your brain subconsciously picks up the messages within the advertisement. Your brain registers how great Coke is, what it can do for you, this for you, that for you, ect., so the next time you go to the store and want a drink, you’re more apt to pick up a Coke. Now we all have our drink favorites. I prefer Sprite myself, but if there is Coke in my fridge and no other drink, I will drink that Coke, and I’ll eventually find myself wanting another Coke. For example, I bought some berry vodka a few weeks ago (I don’t think I’ll ever be drinking alcohol again. I think even a little alcohol will sink me into a depression), and I bought Coke for it because I REALLY wanted Coke after having drank it so much from it being in my parents’ fridge. So, essentially, because Coke is primarily in my parents’ fridge, that fridge is basically advertising Coke to me constantly, which sounds silly, but the more you see something, the more apt you are to buy it because you’ve heard so much about it. So even though ads have become white noise to us now, our brains are still picking up on these ads, and whatever ones our brains remember the most, those ads are likely going to be the products we buy. We may think we buy something simply because we’ve been perusing the shelves and have seen it, but most of us have likely seen it in an ad first. I know my favorite clothing line, Princess Vera Wang, is at Kohls’ stores, but I first saw it in a magazine and thought the clothes were cute. So it’s now my favorite clothing brand.

Unfortunately, advertising books is not like advertising Coke. For one, you don’t see ads of books on televisions or billboards, unless you’re James Patterson. You may see them on Google, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Goodreads, but you’re likely to not even click on them. They’re just white noise to you. So why are ads still being used? Many try to use ads for branding, trying to treat it like Coke, but since these ads are primarily online, no one is going to click on them. Perhaps 1 out of every 100 or 1000 will do it, but those ads are VERY avoidable. Apparently Google ads will work, if you know how to use them, but for those of us who can’t pay for someone to teach us how to use them, we can think of more creative, fun ways to create exposure. We as people don’t like ads. We hate them on our Youtube videos, so we skip those. If we can skip an ad, we will. However, it is primarily the big books that get the ads, so advertisements probably work for those books because they remind people that this popular author’s book is coming out, but ads won’t work for someone who has just started out, like me, so I have to think of other ways to promote myself. Books are not like advertising Coke because, for one, reading is down, competing with other popular forms of media, and people are mainly buying books now through word-of-mouth, or for books that are similar to the previous books they’ve just read.


So what did I do to advertise my book before and after its launch? I set up a cover reveal with Lady Amber, did a bunch of interviews, sent out ARCs, and my publisher sent out some press releases before the book. Now the marketing for the sequel of the second book is going to be MUCH stronger before the launch, but this post will primarily concentrate on what I did on the launch date and after.

So on the launch date, as you know, I bought a blitz from Juniper Grove. This created enormous exposure for my book, and, really, as a first time author with a first book out, you want exposure, exposure, exposure, so that way you can build yourself up like Coke. My publisher also sent out a press release that received enormous attention. There was also a basic press release from YA Interrobang, where my book was with the likes of Veronica Roth’s, Allegiant–so, in that way, I was very lucky. I also won a free three-hour launch party, so I was also lucky, but I won’t have to worry about finding launch parties in the future. So all of this happening on my launch day just skyrocketed exposure to ungodly degrees that I can’t even tell you how many people must know about my book–or, at least, remember it.

But, after the launch date, I also bought a blitz from YA Bound, which still kept the exposure going. It also helps that I have an e-ARC with them for a month, so the adds have been continuing on Goodreads, even though they have been small–however, I have near to 500 adds, and I expect this number to REALLY rise once the e-book is out. What helps exposure even more is having only ONE print book to give away on Goodreads. You should only ever have one on Goodreads so you can use the rest of your print books for more exposure elsewhere. I gave away two print books during my launch party, one will be given away on a blog with good exposure, and another one will be given away during a radio interview I have in December–so, exposure, exposure, exposure. I also have a lot of interviews and guest posts happening during this month, and hopefully I’ll have a radio interview at the end of this month, if things go according to plan. I am also going to go to my local bookstore downtown and talk to the owner about getting my book in that store, and I will then refer him to my publisher. Also, I know When Stars Die was bought at my publisher’s wife’s bookstore, and the person who bought it loves it, and my publisher told me she just couldn’t stop gushing about it, so that really helps.

Another thing I’m doing to keep this exposure going is library visits and school visits. They are not set up yet, but a creative writing teacher at a high school where I live does want me to visit her creative writing class. Another teacher who I knew in my high school also wants to set me up for his economics class (about branding and all that, especially as it relates to my book), and two other English classes. He also wants to refer me to other high schools in the area. My publisher will be giving me materials to help me out with these things. And I should be having a book signing whenever, a radio interview in January, a big read-long on Goodreads in January, among a myriad of other things I’m going to continue to do to keep my book out there and continually increase exposure. And if all goes well, things for me are only going to keep increasing from here. I know it’s a lot on me, but it’s the job of an author, too, to keep marketing. Even if you’re with a big press, you need to also keep marketing your book thereafter. It is YOUR book, after all, so why wouldn’t you want to do everything possible to get it out there? It’s silly to just stagnate.

One last word: Spamming your book will not work. I see lots of others do this on Twitter and elsewhere. Also, I have noticed Facebook author groups where advertising is encouraged do not work. I don’t think they will ever work, so don’t even try. You need to be a lot more creative in getting your book out there. Hopefully I’ll eventually attend conferences and all that, as I know that will help, too.

Do you guys have any questions for me? Also, for readers, what has made you buy a book? 

Review of Juniper Grove Book Solutions and YA Bound Book Blitzes

Review of Juniper Grove Book Solutions and YA Bound Book Blitzes

Unknown-1 Unknown Yeah, yeah, I said I was going to do a post on marketing, but I thought it was more pertinent to do a review of these two things that I used to help gain exposure for my book. Both services were $30.00 each to basically blitz my book.

I will start with Juniper Grove Book Solutions first. Juniper Grove Book Solutions was a one day blitz that included 17 bloggers (they do 15-20 bloggers). On the first day of the blitz, I was not paying attention to exposure because I had other things going on that day, like school and a launch party later that night; however, when I looked at what type of exposure it had created the next day, I discovered 81 Goodreads adds. I also discovered that there were about 400 entries–I believe–into winning an e-ARC of my book, When Stars Die. As the week continued, I discovered that the exposure was still continuing because I managed to receive about 15-20 Goodreads adds a day for about a week. So instead of the blitz feeling like a one day deal, it felt like an entire week. At the end of the e-ARC giveaway, I had over 1200 entries, which was astonishing to me.

I will be using their services some time in December to help blitz the e-book giveaway of When Stars Die. This made me realize that A LOT of people were interested in reading my book–which in turn made me realize just how much buzz and exposure Juniper Grove had created–except, this time, I will be giving away a $25.00 gift card instead.

As for YA Bound, as I said, this was also a $30.00 blitz. The website recommended that I do it for a week for increased exposure; however, on the first day of the blitz, I noticed very little exposure because there wasn’t much of a jump in my Goodreads adds or Twitter followers or even Facebook likes (which I use to assess the amount of exposure my book is receiving). I also didn’t see too many bloggers doing the blitz that day (which could be inferred from the Tweets that the bloggers do to help advertise the e-ARC giveaway of When Stars Die). However, I did notice the second day that exposure was picking up to include about 15 Goodreads adds per day. I was pleased with this, as it did continue throughout the week.

Even so, there was one day where the exposure was pitiful, and I found out this was because the blogs that were blitzing that day had pathetic exposure themselves, having only about 5 people who were following their blogs. I was very displeased with this and felt shorted as an author. Even though it was only $30.00, the week-long tour promised increased exposure, and I didn’t exactly see that. At the end of the tour, I had about 900 entries into the e-ARC giveaway, which is good, considering it will be going on for a month. However, compared to Juniper Grove Book Solutions, I felt I had far more exposure with When Stars Die with Juniper Grove–and that was only one day! Keep in mind, too, that YA Bound brings on far more bloggers on board, the website promising 70-100 bloggers, compared to the 17 bloggers I had for Juniper Grove. I even had excerpts of my book posted with YA Bound, which I did not do for Juniper Grove.

I suppose I was satisfied with YA Bound, but I do not think I will be using them for blitzes in the future; however, YA Bound does do free cover reveals for YA books, and I know I will be using YA Bound for that.

Even if you’re traditionally published or with a small press, I do recommend Juniper Grove to really increase your exposure, along with the marketing plan your publisher has laid out for you. I think I will also be using Lady Amber for the e-book release of When Stars Die. Exposure doesn’t mean sales, but it does create a brand for you, so that the more people see your book, especially the cover, the more likely they are to prioritize your book when choosing which books to buy.

UPDATE: I have changed my mind about YA Bound. They are a good service to use. The adds I was seeing were adds that occurred on the first day of the print giveaway, which was VERY successful with exposure.


The Reality of What Indie Authors Make–It Isn’t What I Thought It’d Be

The Reality of What Indie Authors Make–It Isn’t What I Thought It’d Be

I added this old man in for laughs.
I added this old man in for laughs.

Rachel Thompson recently addressed the topic of the reality of how much indie authors can truly make. I apply this to people who are even traditionally published, be it with a small press or big press. First-time authors end up finding out that they have to use their advances to pay for the marketing of their book, but with the proliferation of the internet, there are some cheap alternatives to actually get your book out there, and there are plenty of authors who have found success with the internet alone.

Now I don’t know what sales on my book are, but they might be low, and they might not be. I’m just starting out, so I hope to get to where she gets one day. I mean, really, the reality she seems to posit is actually fairly good, compared to the reality of most indie authors, which is actually much lower for the average one. But I suppose you just have to be business-minded to find success with this market, and I am not–hence, why I have a publisher.

Rachel Thompson, on the other hand, uses much of what she makes to pay for travel to conferences, conferences, Google Adwords (which is such a difficult thing to use that her husband has made a business around it), still having taxes taken out of what she makes, paying money to market her social media effectively, editing of all books (which is understandable, considering she is indie), and the fact that she still has to have a day job–which, well, most authors do.

Okay, so let me break it down for you on the figures Rachel Thompson puts forth. She makes 36,000 dollars per eighteen months, which is about 2,000 dollars a month. Me being with a press and all, I could live off 36,000 dollars a year, 2,000 dollars a month, considering where I live, too–this is assuming I’m not having to sink money into marketing costs myself–also, the fact that I will be getting married to someone who makes about that much money, so our incomes combined would allow me to be a full-time writer. I actually use some of the money I make at my part-time job to pay for blitzes and other things that help increase exposure, as well as my publisher helping out with the marketing aspect of my book.  So perhaps this post is preaching more toward people who are with small presses or traditional houses, where they don’t really have to sink too much money into their own books.

In any case, after all costs, Rachel is left with 7,000 dollars, which isn’t even the average advance a first-time author makes. In fact, a 7,000 dollar advance from a house is pretty darn good. She says this covers 3.5 months of rent, but if she’s working another job, she still seems to have 7,000 dollars left over.  She admits she isn’t complaining, but when I was going into her article, I expected the figures to be abysmally low for an indie author, and they’re apparently not.

I suppose what I’m trying to say is that I would kill to make 2,000 dollars a month for my book, even if I did have to sink it into the marketing of my book. If 7,000 dollars were left after it all, that’s extra money to me, extra money to do whatever the heck I wanted with–an advance, essentially. Now I will admit that money is not my priority, but I do want to make money off my books so I could eventually go full-time. However, I may never go full-time because there are other things I love, like editing and PR and all that, and I don’t think I could quit those, even if my writing alone afforded me to.

All in all, I thought the figures she would posit would be much lower–which is the whole point of this article. To me, she is very successful, money-wise, to be making 2,000 dollars a month, even if most of it has to go toward the marketing of herself and her books.

Now tomorrow I will talk about how much I do love marketing my own book–and how all authors, even with big houses, should do so. After all, that book is their baby, so why wouldn’t they want to help out with marketing it? You can’t rely on your house alone to do so. 

***In Other News***

There is a cover art contest going on–I think it is, you can’t really see the covers–and I would love it if you could all vote for When Stars Die. The top ten people will receive something awesome. So just click here. Thank you!

Why People Who Self-Publish Are Very Privileged

Why People Who Self-Publish Are Very Privileged

To start off, let us assume that all people who self-publish are sinking at least $1000.00 into their projects so that they are able to compete with traditionally published books. This would include editing, cover designing, formatting, and a little bit of marketing, plus buying copyrights and ISBNs.  

With the explosion of self-publishing in recent years, authors have taken the business of publishing into their own hands, turning what was once a stigmatized route into a route that takes just as much work to finalize a book as the traditional route takes to create a publishable product. But with this new route are proponents who believe that every writer should turn his/her back on traditional publishing in favor of going the self-publishing route. They cite such reasons as being able to keep one’s copyright, having full control of everything, the results being faster, no gatekeepers, making more money, and getting paid much faster, among a myriad of other reasons. While a lot of these reasons are viable, they also come from a very privileged standpoint from people who can afford to self-publish without having to sacrifice the food on their families’ tables. The fact is, for a self-published book to compete with traditional books, you have to sink some money into it, and not everyone is privileged enough to be able to afford this option, which is why the traditional route will always be a viable option for those who have to live paycheck to paycheck or for those who can’t scrap enough money together to go this route. Some people are lucky to know others who can do it for free, but for everyone else, receiving the services necessary to put together a decent book is going to come at a price.

At one point I wanted to self-publish When Stars Die because I did want control of my book. However, my research yielded I would have to spend a fortune (for me) to make this dream come true. Currently I have quite a bit of money in my account, but it took me half a year to scrap together that amount of money without having to sacrifice ballet–which is a sacrifice I refuse to make. But during that half year, I managed to land a contract with AEC Stellar Publishing whose royalties are about the same as if I were to self-publish. The only difference is I don’t have to sink near the amount of money into it as I would if I were to self-publish, so I don’t have to worry about making back all that money and more that I sunk into the project. So now I get to use that money on giveaway swag for my book, which is a privilege I would otherwise not have been afforded without being with a small press. So instead of picking up more work hours to make my self-publishing dream come true, I was able to spend more of that time writing and doing ballet, which is a privilege AEC Stellar Publishing allowed me to have.

Self-publishing, in my opinion, is for the business savvy mind or the author who already has a large platform. Most writers are not business savvy, and to gain a large platform takes years. I am certainly not business savvy, and I simply have a burgeoning platform. In fact, AEC Stellar Publishing has made me realize that self-publishing is not for me because I am way too close to my book to decide what needs to happen to it. I can weigh in on it, but I need the approval of a professional. Christine Braden and Raymond Vogel have come up with some awesome ideas for cover art that I would not have been able to think of without their help. They know the business of publishing and cover design and I don’t. I am just too close to the book to accurately judge what types of covers will draw a readership to my book–but they know because they are business savvy and were the readers of my book. And the fact is, most authors who go the self-publishing route aren’t the best judges at what covers should be used for their books. Most self-published book covers are terrible because the authors either design them themselves or do get a book designer but end up describing a poorly thought-out design that they don’t let their potential readers weigh in on. But then there are also a number of beautiful covers for self-published books for authors who really know what they’re doing. And then some authors get lucky with their covers.

I am not one of them.

Now it is possible to make more money self-publishing than traditionally publishing, but you have to have a fairly large platform and a little bit of luck to do so. Most self-published authors are not going to make a lot of money right at the start. Then many never do make that money because they are not business-minded and don’t devote the necessary time to marketing their books that they should. It is also difficult for self-published authors to justify prices higher than $2.99. Sometimes it’s even difficult for them to justify $2.99! As a reader, I can’t take 0.99 cent books as seriously as $2.99. Sometimes the author doesn’t care about money and simply wants to use that price point to develop a readership if there is a sequel, but $2.99 tells me the author has enough confidence in his/her book, and so I am apt to spend more money on a well-packaged self-published book than I am 0.99 cents. And I have. I have bought more $2.99+ books than I have 0.99 cent books. In order for me to spend 0.99 cents on a self-published book, I either already have to know you or need to be convinced by a large number of reviews to do so.

With the traditional route, you receive your advance as well as a royalty paycheck. You aren’t paid as often, and don’t get a whole lot, but if your first book sells well, your ensuing advances are going to be more. ALSO, by going the traditional route and receiving an advance, you can use that advance to self-publish your next book because your traditionally published book has helped you build that audience necessary to do well with self-publishing–let’s assume, in any case. So it’s very misleading to claim self-publishing can make you a lot of money, when this is flat out untrue for the majority. The majority of traditionally published authors don’t make a whole lot of money, either.

The traditional route exists for those authors who simply do not have the time to become business savvy in the world of publishing or who simply cannot afford it and won’t be able to afford it in the near future. People who self-publish need to realize what a privilege it is to be able to do so because it is. How awesome is it that you’re able to go at it alone (being able to choose your own editor and everything) AND be able to afford it? So to demean the traditional route is to demean all the writers who went that route because they know self-publishing is not for them for a multitude of justifiable reasons.

The Argument of Non-Compete Clauses in Publishing Contracts

The Argument of Non-Compete Clauses in Publishing Contracts

There is an interesting article that I found at the Passive Voice’s blog that I think you guys should check out. I recommend reading it in order to really understand this blog post. In short, it talks about the non-competitive clauses found in some publishing contracts that forbid the author from self-publishing on the side, considering it the author competing against his her own traditionally published book. The article arguing in favor of non-competitive clauses was from Rachelle Gardner, a literary agent I very much respect, but I think she left a lot of holes in her argument this go around because the landscape is very much changing.

A contract with a publisher is not like a contract with an employer. With an employer, you’re often assured either an hourly or salaried wage and receive benefits on the side, like health insurance. A contract with a publisher basically gives the publisher permission to publish your book and do everything to ensure the quality of the book as well as do whatever is necessary to make money off said book. When you sign that contract, you are not signing your writing career to them; you are simply signing your book to them.

Publishers should not be threatened by their clients self-publishing their own books on the side.

Your writing career is your career. Not anyone else’s.

I’m going to find two arguments I find interesting that Passive Voice points out. One is that publishers are afraid that the author will devote more marketing time to the self-published work than the traditionally published work. I suppose there is some legitimacy to this fear, as marketing is the only way a book can be discovered. But at the same time, where a book is distributed is probably 50% of the marketing pie–or more, or less: I don’t claim to be a marketer. Since B&N is a huge book distributor, that traditionally published book is already going to be seen by the thousands of eyes that walk by it. A self-published book, on the other hand, takes a lot more work to market because it is often only ever online or in the author’s local bookstores. So of course they’re going to have to work harder to market their self-published books because that traditionally published book is already being marketed by virtue of being in a chain bookstore. And print sells more than electronic, so it’s kind of  a ridiculous fear. Also, interest in the author’s self-published book will yield interest in the author’s traditionally published book–so in essence, these books are marketing for each other, and the author is receiving a boost in his/her career. And, while I’m at it, the author may not even need to devote so much time to marketing the self-published book because the traditionally published book can be doing the marketing for him/her!

I’m self-publishing those Sister Evelyn installation pieces to give a boost to When Stars Die. So far, my publisher is not threatened by that.

If publishers don’t want authors to publish their own books, then, as is argued, publishers shouldn’t publish other books so they can put all of their marketing efforts on to the author restricted by the non-compete clause. It’s an extreme argument, but it has a good point.

Publishers don’t control authors’ careers. Authors control their careers. A book contract is a book contract, not a contract that makes you an employee of the publisher. If I were an employee of my publisher, the individual books would not need to be contracted.

The next argument I find interesting is this:

The publisher is working hard to position you in the market a certain way, and to maintain a level of quality for which they want you (and themselves) to be known. If you self-publish, they lose their ability to have input into the quality of your work, or the branding. This  can not only reflect negatively on them, it can create confusion in the reader (who sees different kinds of books with your name on them) which can lead to lower sales.

Now I’m not going to be snarky. I very much respect Rachelle Gardner and snark, to me, would mess with that respect. But I will point out that readers do not care who publishes the books. Only writers and publishers and other publishing elites care. Readers are going to be ecstatic to see multiple books come out by an author. I highly doubt they are going to be confused. They might be confused about why they can’t find some of your books in stores, but they’re not going to really care because all your titles are going to be together under your author page. I’m not sure where Ms. Gardner gets the idea that this will lead to lower sales. It’s like saying that me publishing another book after When Stars Die can lower the sales of When Stars Die, so I shouldn’t publish another book for a very long, long time, or perhaps never again. Maybe that is a very poor simile, as the self-published book money goes only to the author and distributor but the traditionally published book money goes mostly to the publisher, distributor, whatever else, and a smidge to the author, but books can market each other!

If I love your self-published book and find your traditionally published book in stores, I am more apt to buy it. So I am speaking strictly as a consumer of books, not a marketing expert (again, I’m not one). If I love one of your books, I’m going to want to keep an eye out on you and see what else you release. Plain and simple.

I would take a gander at the comments too in the linked article. They are very interesting and prove many of my above points.




Writerly Insecurities Never Fade

Writerly Insecurities Never Fade

Licensed for CC use

Many writers dream for years about the elusive book contract. They think, ‘If I had a book contract, everything would be so much better. I could breathe easy because I’d have a contract, an assurance of publication.’ But it doesn’t work that way at all, especially when you realize the work doesn’t end when your book is bound and put in digital stores or bookstores.

The insecurities have just begun.

I knew I wouldn’t be able to breathe easy, even with a contract. It’s still a dream come true, and I’m still so super happy. But now I know my book needs to sell well, and I don’t want it to sell well just for the money. I want it to sell well because I poured every part of myself into this book, and by gosh darn it I am going to strive to make sure a lot of people read it. My new dream is to now become a bestseller, someone known for writing emotional stories with inspiring characters. I will keep writing to achieve that dream, and I will keep writing after.

Yet I have my insecurities. No matter how much pre-sale marketing I do, there is still a chance my book may not sell well. The market is so fickle, so unpredictable. For example, my job is a marketing trainee. Currently we’re giving away a Fiat 500. We use these giveaways to lure in potential homeowners who may be interested in our products. I try to set appointments with them, and if they demo, I get six dollars. If they sell, I get .5% (which is a good amount considering the price of our products). Some days I can get 5 appointments because people are just really interested in signing up for the Fiat. Some days I make 0 because people have such a nasty attitude toward this tiny car. Not even constant persistence can change a 0 to a 1. See how fickle the market can be?

I know the best way to sell your book is to make sure it’s the best darn book possible, but even with that, there is still a chance it may not sell well, and this does scare me to a certain degree. I want to sell well. I want my book to be remembered. I don’t want it to disappear into oblivion in the digitalverse. I also know the best thing I can do is to keep writing, but then there are some writers who have book after book published and they still can’t crack below a 500,000 Amazon ranking. I don’t want to be that. Not by a long shot.

So just because you have that contract and your book is on its way to being published doesn’t mean you can relax. You have to get that book selling and you have to keep writing. I also sometimes think, “What if this is the only book I can do right? What if all my other books fail? I don’t want to be a one-hit wonder.” Even so, I press beyond the insecurities with the attitude that I am going to make something happen because I am me, The Dancing Writer, and I never give up. Giving up is not how I got to where I am today.

In other news, don’t forget the double book giveaway I am doing on my blog! You must be following me and you must comment on the blog post to be entered. You can find the post here.

The Madness of Pre-Release Marketing

The Madness of Pre-Release Marketing

Under CC License

I don’t have an official release date for my book yet, so I know there isn’t a whole lot I can do book wise (like set up blog tours, interviews, post excerpts, ect…) I know my contract manager is going to be in charge of the bigger marketing stuff, but I know I need to take charge of the social media marketing right now. And let me tell you, it isn’t easy. I think I have mentioned before how writing the book is the easy part but marketing the book is the hard part.

So why am I so hellbent on doing pre-release marketing when I don’t even have a date yet? I am aiming to be a bestseller. Perhaps it’s a slightly unrealistic goal, but I figure the higher I set my goals, the harder I’ll work, and in the end, at least I can say I worked hard and I won’t feel like I shorted myself by not doing all that I can. The market is fickle, after all. What’s considered a bestseller one year may not be the next year. Plus, reading is, unfortunately, in decline, and while I don’t understand why people won’t give reading a chance in favor of movies and television shows, all I can do is write the best damn book possible and market the hardest that I can.

What am I doing to get the ball rolling? For one thing I’m updating this blog several times a day to garner more followers and traffic. I also make sure my posts are interesting and that they start a conversation with readers so that way it is easier for them to comment and feel like they are participating. I give out writing tips through my posts, I will talk very personally about my life, and I am really going to get started on doing guest blog posts and interviews. I also want to do more book reviews, but it’s been difficult trying to find the time to read this past week. Next week might be easier.

I am also starting giveaways. Coraline brought in a good following and some decent participation. Because that did well, I think doing a weekly giveaway will be perfect. After all, they’re free books and no one has anything to lose–unlike my marketing job at Southern Siding where we will call the crap out of you if you are a homeowner and sign up to win the car. But that’s a different story. Plus, giveaways allow me to connect with more writers, and meeting new people for me has always been fun. I also love it when people are surprised they won something, especially people who have never won something or think they’ll never win.

Talking some about When Stars Die never hurts either. I’m doing character interviews and will eventually reveal a good summary of what my book is about. Also, I’m beginning to talk more about the current book I’m working on, Stolentime, because I want that to be my next book before When Stars Die’s sequel.

I also occasionally update my Facebook page (I need to do this more), and I participate on Twitter where I do get a good amount of followers each day. I’m also going to do my best to figure out how to use Tumblr to reach out to my intended audience. Last, I participate on writers’ forums because that is where you can meet new writers, engage in topics of interest, and put up topics that allow you to advertise things. I do YALITCHAT, AbsoluteWrite, and Writer’s Carnival. Any more, and I think my head will explode.

As a final closure to this topic, I want to remind you guys that I am giving away two books this week: Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book and Shannon Thompson’s Minutes Before Sunset. You must be following this blog to be considered and must leave a comment to be entered. You can find the post here.

Interview With Writer Shannon Thompson, Author of Minutes Before Sunset

Interview With Writer Shannon Thompson, Author of Minutes Before Sunset

Autumn Fog Photography
Autumn Fog Photography

Everyone, say hello to Shannon Thompson! I decided to interview her not only because we will be helping one another in AEC Stellar, but also because I read the chapter one of her novel and absolutely loved it. You can find it in here in my lit magazine. It is in issue 9. Read it. It will hook you if you are a fan of young adult. You can find her here. Enjoy!

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. I was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania on June 23, 1991. Since then I’ve lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Green Bay, Wisconsin, Atlanta and Alpharetta, Georgia, and Stilwell, Leawood, Overland Park, and Lawrence, Kansas. I’ve been writing ever since I could pick up a pen (I’ve always disliked pencils ability to disappear over time) but I began taking my passion seriously at 11 when my mother suddenly passed away. At sixteen, my first novel, November Snow, was published in her memory. My second novel, Minutes Before Sunset, will be published May 1st by AEC Stellar Publishing. It is dedicated to my college roommates, Megan Paustian and Kristine Andersen, because the time we had together is very precious to me. Unfortunately, Andersen passed away in October, 2012. It brings me a lot of happiness to be able to dedicate my work to my loved ones, including my father and brother (not to mention my fat cat, Bogart—named after Humphrey Bogart, my favorite actor.) And I have eight other novels in various publication stages. I’m very excited to move forward in my career, but I’m even more excited to be able to help others follow their dreams!

2. What inspired November Snow? Minutes Before Sunset? Both my novels had very different inspirations, but they ultimately came from my dreams. As a child, I suffered from vivid nightmares and night terrors. I didn’t really understand, so my mother taught me to cope by turning my nightmares into stories. “November Snow” is purely based on one nightmare I had shortly after she died. It was very violent and had very young children in it. I imagine it happened due to the depression I was going through. But “Minutes Before Sunset” happened years later. I was in a very dark time in my life, and, without going into details, I began having a series of dreams. These involved a boy simply coming to visit me at night. He’d talk to me, ask me if I was okay, and we’d talk until sunrise about how I was coping and what I was going to do. Once I got out of the bad time of my life, the dreams halted, and I was saddened, because he seemed very real to me. Despite the insanity that can come within a blurred reality line, I decided I had to cope with losing him as well. So I created an explanation, even though I know, upon reflection, my mind created a person in order to protect itself during a hard time.

3. I read that you’re also a poet. What inspires your poetry? I am! I was in the poetry collection, Poems: a collection of works by twelve young Kansas poets, which was also dedicated to my late roommate. Poetry brings out a different kind of inspiration than my fiction writing does. It’s harder for me to figure out what inspires it though, because I still consider myself a very young poet. I’m still experimenting to find my voice, but it’s definitely helped me with my other types of writing! And I love writing and reading poetry on a regular basis.

4. What inspires you as writer in general? Everything between life and death. I hate to sound so dark by saying my own mortality pushes me forward, but it ultimately does. I’ve known (very seriously) that life isn’t guaranteed at 11, so, ever since then, I wake up every day, striving to be inspired and to inspire. The world is new to me every time I open my mind to it.

5. What is your favorite genre and why? That is very difficult! I can’t pick that for reading, because I love reading everything. I mainly love memoirs, young-adult fiction, fiction, and poetry. But I love writing young-adult fiction the most. I enjoy the simplicity of it, meaning the innocence of characters and how much room they have to grow. I also like it because of the audience I write for. My goal is to create stories with capable characters (not perfect, but characters willing to learn and value morals and question life) so they can relate to the struggles while learning possibilities of what maybe they can do, no matter if I write fantasy or not. Within genres, I definitely like fantasy and science-fiction, because I love how limitless it can be.

6. What writer(s) inspire you the most? I have so many, but my young-adult authors include Meg Cabot and Cassandra Clare, while my poets revolve around Ernest Hemmingway, Edgar Allan Poe, and Sylvia Plath.

7. What about AEC Stellar Publishing made you go with them? I love how in-tune they are. They really wanted to make sure my ultimate art message didn’t change during the process. They’re really open to the artist, and I love how much control they allow the author to have in the ultimate decision process. My managers, Ray Vogel and Christie Heisler, are so sweet and very passionate about writing!

8. When you graduate college, what are your plans? I graduate in December, 2013 with a B.A. in English from the University of Kansas. I hope that I can continue writing novels, but I’ve always had other plans in place. As long as I’m doing something with writing, editing, and/or reading, I am happy.

9. Anything else you’d like readers to know? I have a website ShannonAThompson.com that includes more information about my novels. I have extras (maps, music, fan art, and more) but I also post regularly on my blog about writing tips, publishing/marketing, and reviews. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me on either this website, Facebook, and/or Twitter! I’m here to help others follow their dreams

10. What are your other hobbies? I’m always reading and writing, including journaling, but also run, play with my cat, and drink a lot of coffee! And I love traveling, and talking, talking, talking, and talking. I’m never disappointed to meet new people and learn about their lives. I’m fascinated by psychology and all topics like it. I also love the History Channel and murder shows, but I don’t watch a lot of T.V. because of how never-ending it is. I’d rather watch a movie (like my favorite, Casablanca) or write.