self-publishing services

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.

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.