e-publishing

Self-Published Millionaires; Rush Limbaugh/Pope Francis; Mr. Transman 2013

Self-Published Millionaires

This morning I looked at my inbox and found an e-mail exchange between Tony and someone at allromanceebooks.com about a customer who had an issue with a self-pubbed e-book. Long story short, she/he couldn’t download the e-book with Word because of Mac issues and HTML issues on her/his end, which rarely ever happens. In fact, it’s never happened before. But we all know that anything can happen and usually does eventually. And even though it’s the first time this situation happened, it’s not the first time an isolated issue has come up and thankfully Tony and I know how to deal with it from a tech end and a customer service end.

But most authors don’t know how to do these things. And they go to e-publishing services that offer tech assistance and other things that can range from developmental editing to marketing/promotion. The article to which I’m linking now talks about how the majority of people in e-publishing/self-publishing today are making money with services for authors, instead of the authors themselves making money. It’s a tricky article because they also mention authors like Amanda Hocking who became what’s been dubbed a .99 millionaire because she allegedly started the self-publishing boom after her books took off. But for the most part, very few authors are making that kind of money, and even fewer are getting a return on their investment to self-publish…which on average seems to range from one to two thousand dollars.

Before this boom, authors such as Hocking and Bella Andre, another successful self-published author, did all the work of creating, editing, formatting and distributing e-books, often slogging through complicated technical manuals and getting stuck for days or weeks on complex software problems.

A lot of authors do this themselves, and they do it for control reasons. But what’s really interesting is now that she’s been so successful, the article says this is what Andre spends each year.

Andre estimates that she spends $60,000 to $80,000 a year creating and promoting her books, employing about a dozen freelancers for various parts of her operation. Each works up to 10 hours a week for her.

What the article fails to mention are things like genre specific authors and books. For example, anything like LGBT that doesn’t have a mainstream audience. We didn’t jump onto the e-publishing bandwagon to be the next Andre or Hocking. We learned how to self-pub because we didn’t have any other alternatives. And even more important, authors who have been around in trad publishing and now consider themselves hybrid authors because they self-pub and trad pub, got into self-publishing because big publishers were screwing them over with royalties and because they wanted to get out of print backlists into the market again. Another huge issue the article doesn’t mention is that it’s not simple to self-publish and e-publishing services deserve to get paid for what they are doing. No one works for free…except maybe the author. But no one is twisting any author’s arm to self-publish. Last I heard authors are more than willing to admit making money is not on the top of their list of reasons why they self-publish. Think about it this way: water is free at your kitchen sink; millions of people pay for bottled water in spite of this and the companies bottling water are not twisting anyone’s arm to buy their product. It might not makes sense to me to pay for water, but it does to many people.

So the entire concept of self-publishing goes far deeper than the content of this one little article. And not everyone is self-publishing because they want to be the next .99 millionaire. But in a general sense there are a few good tips at the end of the piece you can check out here. In the same respect, they might be so basic I think everyone already knows them anyway. My advice would be to learn how to keep your costs down as much as possible, and if you can learn how to do something on your own, do it and get that free water. If you can’t, and you know this, find an e-publishing service you trust who charges fair prices for the services being offered. You can google this information with a simple search and compare one to the other very easily nowadays. You just have to know there are no magic secrets to making millions in self-publishing. I wish I could say it’s all about writing good books, but that’s been disproved with one or two bad self-pubbed books that made millions. Sometimes you need a little luck, too.

The most positive thing I can say is this: now you can do it. Now you can self-pub and get your book out there. You couldn’t have done that fifteen years ago without spending thousands of dollars on publishing the print book alone.

Rush Limbaugh/Pope Francis

I keep seeing these comments and pieces about Rush Limbaugh and Pope Francis all over social media and I really haven’t been paying much attention to them. Rush Limbaugh means about as much to my daily news radar as spending the holiday season on the moon does. He’s a pundit…ugh…who gets paid very well for doing what he does. He knows how to manipulate and sway people in one direction. He also knows how to get them angry with some of the most insignificant topics. If he’d been alive in the old Wild West days he would have been a snake oil salesmen. To be fair and objective, and to remain bipartisan, Limbaugh is about as creepy and disgusting as that other liberal creep on MSNBC I can’t remember offhand.

The Pope, however, is one of the most powerful, spiritual, respected figures in the world. Even if you aren’t Catholic, you know the significance of his position on a global level. Nancy Reagan once said that in all her years at the White House her most impressive experience was meeting the Pope. She’s not even Catholic. The Pope is not a pundit at Fox News or MSNBC hawking for ratings. He’s The Pope. So I don’t even see how Rush Limbaugh…or any other commercial American pundit for that matter…should even be associated with the Pope. But this is what’s been happening.

Rush Limbaugh is going after Pope Francis just in time for the Christmas season.

The outspoken conservative pundit blasted the Pope this week after the pontiff released a new 50,000 word document, titled “Evangelli Gaudium” (The Joy of Gospel), calling for church reforms and criticizing certain ideas of capitalism.

Talk about putting a spin on something. I don’t even know where to begin. The Pope is not an elected government official. He’s the Pope. What part of that Rush doesn’t understand passes me by. And if you are a serious Catholic and you believe that Catholicism is the one true religion, it makes Rush and the American Christian right even less significant on a global level. In other words, what the Pope does, and what the significance of his position is, goes so far beyond American politics it’s not even worth trying to compare the two.  Unfortunately, Limbaugh is the Ugly American stereotype who just doesn’t know any better.

Mr. Transman 2013

This is a competition held in Brooklyn for female-male transgenders.

 Set to take place at The Knitting Factory in Brooklyn, New York, on Thurday, Dec. 5, Mr. Transman will bring together five individuals to compete for the title through the categories of Platform, Swimsuit, Interview, Talent and Evening Wear. The “female-to-male competition” will be judged by a panel of trans and queer personalities, including Juliana Huxtable, Merrie Cherry, Glenn Marla, Kit Yan and reigning Mr. Transman Teddie B Glaze.

All I can say is you have to check out the photos. Some of these guys are gorgeous. Trust me.

Bloomberg Article on Self-Publishing: Pure Manure; 15 Percent of All E-Book Reviews Will Be Fake

Well, the Bloomberg article on self-publishing isn’t pure manure. It’s just misleading to most writers who might be thinking about self-publishing. And If I had read something like this a year ago I might never have self-pubbed anything on my own. So I decided to add a few things I’ve learned.

When I posted that I was getting into self-publishing last year around this time I made a point of saying it was going to be a humble venture. One year later, four self-published books later, it still is a humble venture. At least it is compared to self-pubbed books released by some others. But, in the same respect, I managed to hit several best seller lists with all of the books, and all did better than I expected them to do. So, if nothing else, at least that should qualify me to speak on the topic of self-publishing to a certain extent. I’m not claiming to be an expert. I’m only sharing the things I’ve learned first hand…and I’m still learning now. And, I didn’t use a literary agent’s self-publishing service. I did it alone…I’m not holding back the complete truth like some who claim they self-publish.  

Just because I came from a twenty year background of getting published with both traditional publishers and e-publishers it didn’t make self-publishing any less intimidating for me than an unpublished author. It’s new territory and you’re on your own. In fact, I think that was the scariest part for me. There was no one to lean on.

The Bloomberg aritlce is long, so I’m going to go over each section and commenting on what I think it misleading…or sound advice. Again, this is just my opinion and the only reason I’m offering it is because I don’t like to see writers spend more money than necessary. I also don’t like to see them get discouraged by articles that often don’t make sense…or are written by people who really don’t know what they are talking about.

Beyond Vanity

The really explosive growth has come in e-books, which went from 7,000 to 87,000. “Not long ago if you said you self-published you weren’t taken as seriously as other authors,” says Beat Barblan, a director at Bowker. “That’s no longer the case.”

It starts out okay, not argument here. But there’s more to come.

Dotting the I’s

$1,460: Price paid by Pandl for editing, proofreading and structure suggestions; self-published author Sander Flaum, who wrote “Big Shoes: How Successful Leaders Grow into New Roles,” paid $500.

This section basically gets into the cost of editing. But the ambiguity of this section boggles my mind. Yes, you can pay $1,460 to have your self-pubbed book edited. You can pay $4,000 for that matter. There’s no set rule to what editors charge and I’m not even going there.

However, you can also find editors willing to work for less. You can also partner with some other writer you know and edit for each other. And frankly I would recommend a copy editor or a proofreader more than I’d recommend an editor. That’s how I did it. One of the reasons why I love self-publishing so much is because I don’t have to listen to an editor. I get to call the shots, not the publisher or editor. And I get the control.

But more than that, a lot of the mistakes in self-pubbed books come more from bad formatting than bad editing. And, if you don’t want to pay an editor or a copy editor, you can do it yourself and save tons of money. I’m not of the school that thinks all authors need editors. Some do; some don’t. It all depends on how hard you’re willing to work, and if you can take the stress of editing your own work. It’s not easy, but not impossible.

Covers That Pop

$200: Price Freethy paid for a book cover design (that was not used)

$1,600: Price Julia Pandl paid for an early book cover design ($200) and interior design ($1,400).

I really smiled at this part, and not just because they used the word “pop.” Of course covers are important. However, if you don’t want to pay a cover artist you can get free software to create your own covers. Again, this is all about how hard you’re willing to work at it. I’ve tried my own and I’m by no means a tech genius. I’m actually a tech dummy and I learn as I go, gaining knowledge about what I need to know at the time. Google is your friend.

There are also excellent cover artists out there willing to create good covers for less than $200. I know this because I’ve used them myself. Frankly, I don’t think $200 is over the top to charge for a cover. But I think that would be my top end limit. And look at it this way, do you really think e-publishers are paying their cover artists $1,600 per cover? I doubt that highly. And if they are, I’m in the wrong business.

The Printed Book

$8,800: Cost to print 1,300 copies (240-page book) with shipping – Julia Pandl

Though probably true, it’s still pure manure for today’s serious self-pubbed author. First, unless you’re only interested in publishing print books for your friends or family (I understand this), you would be better served catering to the digital market instead of the print market. The article goes on to mention getting your print book into bookstores and distribution. But with the state of affairs brick and mortar bookstores are in right now, why spend almost nine thousand dollars on producing print books?

And I self-pubbed all my digital books for free. So did this excellent author. It wasn’t simple. It took weeks of learning how to read HTML and convert. But it’s doable if you don’t want to pay anyone else to do it. If you aren’t comfortable with that, there are e-publishing services out there you can hire. Prices vary and nothing is set in stone right now. But most I checked out were affordable.

And, writers like me are always willing to offer advice in private. I’ve done that with more than a few authors who got confused while they were self-publishing. There are also blogs and posts written all over the Internet by other authors who’ve self-published and didn’t pay a dime to do it. Most don’t mind sharing their experiences. Tony is doing it right now for an older friend of mine who is self-publishing spiritual new age books on Amazon. Don’t be shy about asking for help.

The Readers

Part of the decision on whether to go the e-book route may have to do with your choice of topic.

This part honestly didn’t even make sense to me. I asked Tony if he downloaded any software to pub my books and he said he didn’t. The trick is learning how to convert Word docs into HTML. I’m not going into detail here because that would be another post, but it doesn’t cost that much…if anything…to do this. And, as I said, you can always look for an e-publishing service who is willing to do this. Tony and I have played with the idea of starting one ourselves. We’d like it to be affordable and something that would debunk all the rumors going around about self-publishing.

You Book’s ID

If you want to sell a printed book, you need an ISBN.
$125: Cost for one ISBN — Bowker

If you self-pub a digital book on Amazon you get what’s called an ASIN: B007R6POYM . Or, you can go to Smashwords and the ISBN will cost you ten dollars…or free. This one is my number for Chase of a Lifetime on Amazon. It did NOT cost $125.

So this one only matters if you’re self-pubbing print books. And I honestly don’t see why any new author would go that route nowadays.

Kudos Search

This one is very entertaining.

There are reviewers out there who, for a fee, will read your book and write a review. Some authors create fake accounts and give themselves high ratings while assigning lower ones to rival books. Jenny Sussin, a research analyst at Gartner Inc., says by 2014 as many as 15 percent of all e-book reviews will be fake, as authors and marketers pay for positive reviews.

I read this part a few times. I’m sure they’re not suggesting self-pubbed authors pay for reviews and start sockpuppet accounts to push their books…or review their own books with five stars. I’m sure they wouldn’t suggest self-published authors rate other authors lower either. At least I’m hoping this isn’t true.

Because if you do that you’re an idiot. Plain and simple. It always catches up to you and then you’re really screwed.

$550: Price to get a review — Kirkus Indie Reviews

Waste of time…and this comes from a friend who has been a NY literary agent for over thirty years.

Let the World Know

$2,300: Website for a book, including PayPal link — amount paid by Rick Spier, author of “The Legend of Shane the Piper: A Novel Memoir”
$45: 250 color bookmark business cards — Staples
$100: Press release printing — Staples
$300: Facebook advertisement — Facebook
$1,000: Direct mail — Julia Pandl’s cost


Of course you have to let the world know, but social media, last I looked, is free. From facebook to twitter to blogging, it won’t cost you a dime to promote. And then there are yahoo groups and other forums as well. If you really want to promote online aggressively there’s no limit as to what you can do. And it doesn’t have to cost you a dime. I’ve watched one romance author in particular over the years build a platform and readership just through blogging. I’ve seen other do it in different ways.

But also tread with care, because there’s a fine line between aggressive marketing and obnoxious marketing. You don’t want to turn people off with spam that says, “Read My New Book.”

Get the Book Out

If you publish an e-book, distribution is as simple as uploading your manuscript to, say, the online bookstores of Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.

So far, this is the only part that makes sense to me. You do need to distribute your e-book in as many places as you can. But being that Amazon rules right now and most e-books are sold on Amazon, you can take your chances and just sell from them. There’s the Amazon lending program, that will lock you into Amazon for three months. I’ve done it and I’m not totally against it. For new self-pubbed authors sticking with Amazon in the beginning might be the best way to go as you’re learning the ins and outs of e-book distribution.

But that’s a key factor: learning the ins and outs. When you self-publish you’re not just an author anymore. You’re also a businessperson taking on all kinds of other responsibilities. And if something sounds too good to be true, or too expensive, it probably it. Don’t get suckered.

The One-Stop Shop

$5,000 – $6,000: Includes designing hard-copy book (printing costs an additional $5.40 per book) and creating e-book versions. Discounts depending on volume — IndieReader

For those who don’t want to get into all the small details of self-publishing, there’s nothing wrong with this. But you don’t have to do it to self-publish successfully. Not by any means. That’s a lot of money for most people, and the odds are you’ll never get it back. So, thinking like a businessperson, as you should be, you want to know that what you invest will at least come back, with at least a small profit.

I would like to state that most of the facts in this article are things that can’t be disputed. You can pay anything you want…or anything someone charges you…to self-publish a book. You can spend thousands on covers, editors, and marketing services that you may or may not ever see again. But if you self-publish like I did, and take the time to really learn how it works and how e-books are formatted and designed, it won’t cost you much at all. And my overall point in this post is to show you how much it all varies so no one takes advantage of you and sells you a bill of goods you might not need.

 

Lori Perkins Talks About E-publishing

I’ve been following Lori’s blog for at least six years now…might be longer. We’ve worked together in a strictly author/editor/publisher relationship many times, and she’s been responsible for having the final say with a few of my titles at Ravenous Romance. She also helped brainstorm the concept of the Virgin Billionaire series when I wasn’t even sure I wanted to write the first book in the series. I’ve posted about how that book freaked me out many times.

And now, Lori just wrote a great post about e-publishing you should check out. This isn’t someone just blowing smoke up your butts either. There’s a lot of that going around these days. This post is based on personal experience and facts that I know Lori has learned first hand through a great deal of hard work, not to mention hard knocks.

You can get there from here.

Here’s an excerpt:

Ebooks now outsell mass market titles, practically putting paperbacks out of commission. Borders went out of business completely. But more and more people are reading, and that includes a whole new generation of readers who now consider reading entertainment again.

Guest Blogging, E-publishing, and Facebook Manners

I’ve been amazed by the lack of understanding when it comes to e-publishing. So I’m guest blogging today over at Rebecca Leigh’s with a follow up to a post I wrote last week. The link is here, and check out Rebecca’s list while you’re there. She’s been in a few excellent anthologies and she’s an upcoming author with a lot of promise.

The second part of this post is about facebook manners. I have two facebook accounts: one for work related publishing posts, and another for personal family oriented posts. I try not to combine the two because I don’t think readers are interested in my Aunt Bessie’s pot roast, and I know for a fact Aunt Bessie isn’t interested in steamy m/m romances (smile).

Though my experiences on facebook and all the social networks have been positive, there’s always that one “friend” who doesn’t know where to draw the line. I have a lot of patience; I’ll go the extra mile and give the benefit of the doubt. But when it becomes abusive comments, I won’t think twice about blocking a facebook friend from my account.

It happened this week. A book reviewer who has been kind to me with reviews started posting unusual comments on all of my posts. At first, I thought this facebook friend was just being campy and sarcastic. But it started getting obnoxious, to the point where I was embarrassed for him (Where is this coming from?). But I didn’t say anything. I tried to be polite. And then last night I “shared” a post with an author I know fairly well. It was one of those harmless facebook posts that authors do to promote their books to readers all the time. It wasn’t one of my books, but I’d read this one and wanted to help the author promote it. Within ten minutes this book reviewer/facebook friend started posting obnoxious comments on the thread and I was forced to delete them, and then block this person from my facebook page.

I hated doing it, but there’s a line that shouldn’t be crossed…even when it comes to camp and sarcasm. If I get backlash from this and I start seeing bad book reviews from this reviewer, I’ll live. Because submitting to this kind of obnoxious behavior on facebook or anywhere else just isn’t worth it.

All About E-publishing!!

Today I did a guest blogging stint over at Rebecca Leigh, here. I wrote a post that I hope answered a few questions about e-publishers. (Huge thanks to Rebecca Leigh!)

But after reading two agent blog posts this evening, I’d like to follow up on my guest blogger post right now.

These agents went into detail describing the differences between traditional publishing and self-publishing. But they failed to mention one important factor that all authors and potential authors should know about. And that’s e-publishers. They made it sound as though the only alternative to traditional publishing is self-publishing and they totally left out e-publishers.

But there is an alternative to traditional publishing and self-publishing. And that’s submitting your work to an e-publisher. I come from a background of working with traditional publishers, and when I decided to make the switch to e-publishing I wasn’t sure what to expect. But what I found was not all that different from traditional publishers. It’s just as professional, if not more because authors are treated very, very well.

I’m contracted to do a certain amount of books, just like with a traditional publisher. When I submit the finished books, they then go to an editor, and then to a copy editor, and I don’t pay for these services either. When the books are released, my e-publishers work hard to distribute and market, always helping me along the way, all over the world. I get letters from readers in places I’ve never even heard of.

So e-publishing isn’t all that different from traditional publishing. And self-publishing is not the only alternative to getting your book published when traditional publishers turn you away based on purely subjective reasons.

I thought it was important to post about this, especially while the publishing industry is going through so many changes and no one knows what to expect next. And trust me, those who are hanging on to traditional ways, aren’t going to tell you what I just did. For some reason, whenever they talk about e-publishers the words seem to stick in their throats and they start choking (huge smile).