e-publishing services

Brooke Warner & Self-Publishing; HarperCollins Takes Back Publishing; Rugby Jocks

Brooke Warner & Self-Publishing

This past week I had a nice e-mail exchange with a new writer whom I met through discussing something blog related. After we finished discussing the blog related issue he mentioned something about self-publishing a book and how he plans to go about doing it. The book sounds fascinating and it’s LGBT related. But when I saw what he was looking into with regard to self-publishing I had to send him a few links to show that there are a few questionable things out there and writers…especially new writers…should really do a thorough fact check before handing over large sums of money to self-publish. But there are also some great ways to go about self-publishing with some services, and using a service that provides advice and the creative collaboration most writers need.

It’s often hard for me to remain objective about self-publishing because when I did it with my first novel, Chase of a Lifetime, I came to self-publishing with years of experience. I already had over 100 books out with publishers and I had contacts that ranged from cover artists to good copy editors. My partner, Tony, handles all the tech details and distribution. So I knew exactly what I was getting into and I knew how to get a book out thanks to past experience. But when I write posts like this I’ve learned I have to step back and think like a new writer who is learning all these things for the first time. And when I read this article about Brooke Warner, a writing coach, I thought I’d share for any new writers who might be interested in self-publishing but also need a collaboration.

From Galleycat…

My number one tip for self-pubbed authors is to make sure they have a team. Self-published authors need an editor, a designer, and a marketing and/or publicity person. When it comes to self-publishing, authors shouldn’t go it alone, nor should they try to reinvent the wheel. There are so many good experts out there who will help ensure that you have a beautiful finished product. Don’t try to do it all yourself!

If you have never been published before and you are thinking of self-publishing, it’s a good article and you can read more here. As I said, I tend to be a complete control freak with my own self-published books, but I’m not doing it completely alone. I do have a team that I outsource on my own. But I already had the contacts and I knew exactly where to go.

In the same respect, I’m not saying it’s impossible to self-pub a quality book all by yourself. One of the self-published non-fic authors I admire most is Joe Mihalic. He’s not just another pretty face, far from it. I’ve posted about him before, here, several times. Joe wrote No More Harvard Debt and he did it all by himself from what I gather. He maintained popular a running blog with the same title you can read here. He even gets into his self-publishing experiences. And he did it alone at a minimal cost. He also wrote and pubbed several damn great books. Other self-pubbed authors have done this, too.

So it’s really up to the individual. In some cases, writers like Joe Mihalic can produce a quality book that helps people without the help of an e-publishing service. But not everyone works the same way and there are some people who do need some kind of collaboration. I think what Brooke Warner has to say is interesting and I don’t mind linking to her, which I don’t do often. Her web site is professional, I didn’t see any red flags that would make me wonder, and she seems to be all about the writer. I can also tell you this from experience. Even though I outsource when I self-pub, I still feel the heat when it comes down to the final release. And I often wish I had the same collaboration (I miss it and crave it) with my self-pubbed books that I always have with books I have out with publishers. It gives you piece of mind.

Back to my original point, there are things out there with self-publishing that are questionable, and nice people are getting ripped off all the time. I wouldn’t share anything I wouldn’t seriously consider myself.

You can read more about Brooke Warner here at her web site.

 HarperCollins Takes Back Publishing

This next piece to which I’m linking talks about Charlie Redmayne, new boss at HarperCollins, who wants to aggressively take back publishing from the pioneers of digital publishing. I think this includes e-publishers and self-pubbed authors.

Now three months after returning to HarperCollins to become its chief executive, Redmayne will deliver a brisk message at an industry conference on Thursday, warning publishers against letting digital rivals steal their role – storytelling.

Publishers have allowed competitors to jump in, he says, whether they are startup companies producing apps or authors publishing their novels on Amazon. Now they “need to take that space back” by producing content for games players, tablet computers and other devices.

It’s an interesting article, but it’s slanted in some respects. It makes it all sound like these evil self-pubbed authors and start up e-presses we’ve been seeing in the past ten years have been trying to take over publishing. And that’s not the case at all. What’s been happening is that writers who would never have had the chance to get published ten or twenty years ago have found a readership and careers through digital publishing. And readers, most of all, have been able to find affordable books when big publishers were sticking it to them with digital book prices that ranged from 9.99 to as high as you want to go. I paid full price for a non-fic autobiography two years ago, $14.99, in digital format. It sucked, the author has a new book out with a large publisher, and I’m not spending that kind of money again.

But more than that, while those in trad publishing with big publishers were still taking summer Friday’s off and trying to keep publishing known as the slowest industry in the world, the pioneers of digital publishing have been working seven days a week to produce quality e-books for readers at a fraction of the cost. I price my self-pubbed novels at .99 for readers, and I will continue to do that for as long as I can. My e-publisher prices my full length novels at $4.99 on the web site. I just finished reading and reviewing James Franco’s new novel. I paid $5.99 for the digital version. It was published through Amazon. So if HarperCollins wants to “take back” publishing they’d better start looking at more than one issue, including book prices.

You can read more here. In any event, it does sound like Redmayne is going to make a few well needed changes, and it should be interesting to see the results a few years from now. I’m not anti-publisher, not by any means. I’m hoping big publishers do start making changes. But I don’t think it should be about taking publishing back. I think it should be more about figuring out why the pioneers of digital publishing have left them shaking their heads in wonder.

Rugby Jocks

It seems as if everyone’s making a calendar this year, and with nude young jocks in locker rooms.

Thought Dieux du Stade’s calendar was the be-all, end-all of hot rugby calendars? Then you haven’t seen Britain’s Sheffield Hallam University jocks. These more amateur, less-styled fellas hit the showers, the bar, the lounge, and the streets to bring you their goods. Appreciate them, won’t you?

You can read more here. It’s worth the trip. There are photos.

Amazon/KDP News; Global Fund; Why I Don’t Promote Some KDP Authors

Here’s the latest Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing news (KDP) about the Global Fund for those enrolled in KDP select. Below that I’ve posted a few things from the KDP newsletter.

The rest of the newsletter is about other KDP authors who write fiction, one of whom I’ve read before, who has had some success. But I don’t feel the urge to promote any of them. I also know one of them self-published in several places, including Amazon, through a literary agent’s e-publishing service and there’s nothing wrong with that. If you can get a deal like that I say take advantage of it and run with it. And more power to you. But since I did self-publish alone, without anyone’s help, and I figured it all out on my own and not with a literary agent who has connections and knows her way around publishing, I don’t feel the need to promote someone who does have that advantage…and doesn’t talk about it openly in public, eh-ver. I’m on the fence about whether or not that actually is self-publishing, because these e-publishing “services” aren’t much different from small e-presses. I could start one myself if I wanted to, and I just might do it in the future.

Don’t get me wrong. Anyone who reads this blog knows I’m the first to promote authors I don’t even know, who don’t need the promotion and will probably never promote me (John Irving for one). But I do draw the line sometimes, and sneaky self-promoting authors who need to get over themselves is just about where that happens (smile). Sorry, you know I never mention names when it comes to things like this. The fact is that some authors will stop at nothing to make a buck. Why give someone who doesn’t deserve it more free promotion? I will say it’s no one who writes gay fiction, gay romance, or anything male/male romance. 

From my inbox:

Since you are currently enrolled in KDP Select, we wanted you to know the total bonus amount is increasing for the global fund. A $2.2 million bonus, over December 2012-February 2013, will be added to the regular monthly fund amount. For January, the global fund is now $1.7 million in total, up from $1.4 million. The remainder of the $2.2 million bonus amount will be paid on top of the regular fund in February.

Remember, you will earn your share of the fund amount every time your book is borrowed from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library on Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de and Amazon.fr.

As side note, I didn’t actually know too much about the Global Fund, and I really took advantage of KDP Select because I believe in book sharing and I like to think e-books can be shared at least a litte like print books are still being shared.

And here are some of the more important things for the most recent KDP newsletter, via my inbox:

As we start 2013, we are grateful for all our KDP authors! We are excited to continue expanding globally and developing new features on your behalf. Here are some highlights from the last year:

  • Kindle Format 8 launched, Amazon’s next generation file format offering enhanced features.
  • KDP released impressive author stats and milestones for KDP Select-enrolled titles being borrowed from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.
  • KDP launched in India, making books published through KDP available in the Kindle Store for India.
  • Kindle Owners’ Lending Library launched in the UK, Germany, and France offering authors enrolled in KDP Select expanded reach in Europe.
  • KDP launched in Brazil, Canada and Japan, helping authors publish their books in their native country and language. Check out the new KDP sites: kdp.amazon.com.br, kdp.amazon.ca, kdp.amazon.co.jp.
  • KDP Select adds $1.5 Million Holiday Bonus to the global fund for authors.

Thanks again for a great year. Best wishes and much success to you in 2013!

Here’s a link to a few promotional tips that too long to post here. Some look interesting, though mostly boiler plate. I haven’t tried any so don’t quote me. But what doesn’t work for one might work for another.

https://www.createspace.com/en/community/community/resources/blog/2012/12/27/two-not-so-typical-resolutions-for-writers

And here’s some advice from a KDP author that’s not bad.

Guy Kawasaki, tech guru and author of APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur-How to Publish a Book, shares his five tips for independent authors.

1. Write for the right reasons. Writing is an art form,http://cts.vresp.com/c/?Amazon.com/196670beec/7a9dfa5b8b/16945e5a7c and a book is an end in itself—don’t write a book


Your Voice: KDP Author Guy Kawasaki

  solely because it is a means to an end. The good reasons to write a book are the desire to enrich people’s lives, to further a cause, to achieve an intellectual milestone, and to get something off your chest. The bad reasons are to make a lot of money or to increase your consulting or speaking business.

2. Build your marketing platform. The hardest part of making a book successful may be marketing, not writing, it. Unless you have a great publicist with a powerful publisher, you are the “vice president of marketing” of your book. It takes a year to build a marketing platform, so get started at the same time as you’re writing. If you wait until your book is done, it’s too late. My recommendation is to spend two hours a day writing and one hour a day on Google+, Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.
3. Hire a copy editor. If you’re going to self-publish your book, the worst way to try to save money is by not hiring a professional copy editor. Copyediting is a specialized and refined skill—to use a medical analogy, only a fool would self-diagnose and self-medicate in an emergency. The goal is to produce a book that is as good as, or better, than a book from a large traditional publisher. You cannot do this without a professional copy editor.
4. Test your eBook. In a perfect world, what you upload from Word and what online resellers deliver as an eBook would match. Every page, image, line break, and font would be right. This isn’t a perfect world. The bugs and glitches that can appear because of the conversion process from manuscript to eBook will shock, depress, and enrage you. You need to test your eBook on every platform that people will read it on: computer, tablet, reader, Macintosh, Windows, Android, and iOS. Don’t assume that any conversion process is 100% accurate.
5. Never give up. There are qualities that every published author shares: first, they wanted to give it all up. Second, they didn’t give it all up. Writing a book is one of the most difficult tasks in life. Fortunately, or maybe because it’s so difficult, it is also one of the most rewarding tasks in life. When you feel like you can’t type another word, can’t re-read another draft, and can’t face another rejection, remember that every author goes through these phases. It’s only the successful ones who never give up.

If Your Literary Agent E-Publishes Your Book Through Their E-Publishing Service Are You Still Considered Self-Published?

If your literary agent e-publishes your book through their e-publishing service are you still considered self-published is an interesting question. But before I get into this I’d like to get one thing out of the way. Literary agents have been quietly introducing e-publishing services to their clients. They don’t call it self-publishing services, they call it e-publishing services. There has been a great deal written and discussed about this with regard to conflict of interest. I’m not getting into that here. Frankly, I’m on the fence about it.

What I’m talking about has more to do with what is actually considered self-publishing. When I started my own self-publishing venture with Ryan Field Press last spring and self-published “Chase of a Lifetime,” “Jonah Sweet of Delancey Street,” and “Chase of a Dream,” I wrote about it openly and told my readers exactly what I was doing, how I was doing it, and what my motivations were for doing it. You can read these posts here. And if anyone has any questions I’m more than willing to answer them because I’m not hiding anything from you.

What I didn’t do with my self-publishing venture was contact a literary agent and ask her if I could use her e-publishing services. My motivation with this was that I wanted complete control and I didn’t see the need to pay a fee…or to have an agent take 15% off the back end of my self-published books. It would have been much easier for me to submit my books to a literary agent with e-publishing services. I wouldn’t have had to deal with all the business issues, I wouldn’t have had to worry about formatting, and I wouldn’t have had to hire a copy editor or cover artist. In other words, from what I’ve gathered, literary agents who offer e-publishing services do all these things for their clients/authors.

But the tricky thing is that not all work the same way. One fairly young literary agent offers e-publishing services in two packages. One package includes everything, from editorial to distribution and the other package just offers distribution. I can’t single anyone out because it seems they are all doing it differently (and very quietly for some reason)…but my point here again is are these authors actually self-publishing if they are going through an experienced literary agent who is offering e-publishing services that do basically everything an e-publisher would do?

There are few interesting situations that confuse me about all this a little. Last night I was checking out a few books by published authors who recently claim they self-published .99 e-books. I went to Kobo to see who they listed as the publisher, and then I went to Amazon to see who they listed as the publisher. On Kobo they listed a literary agent who offers e-publishing services and on Amazon the author listed her own name as the publisher. So who is actually the publisher…or self-publisher? You see where I’m going with this.

Interesting. And it’s a detail I wouldn’t have overlooked when putting up the product description. In this case, it’s a huge mistake (and dumb) to overlook that kind of continuity. I want to know who the publisher is, and if I see two different publishers for the same book on different web sites I’m going to question this.

In my case, you can go from Amazon to iTunes to Smashwords and you’ll see Ryan Field Press listed as the publisher with my self-published books. I did it the hard way and I have the proverbial scars to prove it. I’m still dealing with issues regarding Kobo and a few other web sites. But with the three novels I released this past spring I consider myself a self-published author. I wrote the book, hired a copy editor, hired a cover artist, and then I pushed the buttons to self-publish those books. My partner, Tony, did a lot of the technical work, but we worked as a team and he’s just as much Ryan Field Press as I am.

There are, indeed, e-publishing sevices out there that self-published authors can hire to do a lot of the technical work for them. For those who are not tech oriented but are interested in self-publishing I recommend looking into those services. From what I’ve seen the author pays a flat fee and that’s it. These e-publishing services are not literary agents. You don’t have to be their client or query them to use their e-publishing services. All you have to do is hire them as a service. In this case, you’re still a self-published author and from what I gather your name/press will be listed as the publisher.

But I’m not sure about about an author who uses her agent as an e-publishing service and then lists the e-publishing service as the publisher. I guess I’m on the fence about that as well. And that’s because I self-published my books with Ryan Field Press alone and you can check that out wherever you see my books for sale. But when I see an author claim she’s self-published her books and then I see the name of her literary agent’s e-publishing service listed on Kobo as the publisher, I have to wonder if that’s really considered self-publishing…and is the agent a literary service for e-publishing or is the agent an e-publisher?

And how fair is this to all those hard-working authors out there who have been self-publishing that hard way like I’ve been doing it? I have twenty years of experience in getting my fiction published with traditional publishers. This gave me a slight edge over an author with less experience. But even with my experience I found self-publishing ALONE to be difficult.

All interesting questions I can’t answer in this blog post without more information. The problem is finding this information because so many are so silent about it. One literary agency who started a venture like this actually shut down her blog and moved to Alaska. I’m only joking about Alaska, but the blog went dead fast when readers started asking questions.

In any event, Ryan Field Press might venture into this happy little arena next year and join all the fun. Why not? I’m not a literary agent and there would be no conflict of interest. I’m not hiding anything, I’ve never been anything but honest about what I do, and I have no reason to be quiet about it. I would offer e-publishing services to a select group of authors who are interested in using my e-publishing services. But no tricks and gimmicks, I promise. If I do it, I’ll post about it openly and answer any and all questions. I’m just not sure if I would be considered an e-publishing service or an e-publisher if the books were distrubuted under Ryan Field Press on Kobo.