Category Archive: publishing

Aug 12 2014

Amazon & Hachette, What’s the Deal?

amazonLogohachette_book_logo

 

I got the email. The one from the Amazon’s Book Team, urging me to write a letter to the CEO of Hachette Book Group (HBG) to remind them that e-books are not paperbacks or hardcovers and shouldn’t be priced as such.

Here are just a couple of the points I will make in this post:

  • This issue is not about authors or publishers but about the consumers, the readers. Even though some Hachette authors are affected, Amazon and Hachette seem to forget that this is about readers who buy e-books. Happy readers make happy business and a profit for author, publisher and retailer. Readers want low prices. Eventually, readers will not buy high priced e-books and Hachette will be forced to adapt to publishing’s changes or fail.
  • Although Amazon is strict about carrying e-books with low prices, maybe the way they are going about it is all wrong. Yes, I agree e-books should be priced lower than physical books as there are no warehouse costs, shipping cost, printing cost, etc., to offset. However, is preventing preorders and sales of these overpriced books the best tactic? Maybe, if that compromises your brand as the largest online retailer with the lowest prices. Read on.

So what’s up with Amazon?

Amazon wants to be the next Walmart and cater to their online buyers by guaranteeing low prices. Amazon’s mission is “to be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online, and endeavors to offer its customers the lowest possible prices.” As a bookstore this goal helps them beat out the competition, driving more readers to Amazon.com for low priced reads. How can they brand themselves as a “customer-centric company that offers its customers the lowest possible prices” if they are distributing digital books priced as high as the paperback?

So their statement to Hachette, in my words, are “You want me to help sell your books? You gotta play by my rules. Because I don’t want you exploiting my customers and taking advantage of them by charging them ridiculous fees.” Because even though Amazon gets a piece of the earnings of each e-book sold (30%), they’re reminded of their brand and their mission, the thing that makes them the go-to place for e-books and, well, everything else. Low prices. That’s essentially their thing. And they seemingly care a lot about their customers to prevent the sale of some titles to ensure their customers aren’t being overcharged.

Is this right? That’s the main question. And the answer varies from “yes” to “no” to “I don’t know and don’t care,” depending on who’s most affected by their tactics.

Why shouldn’t publishers play by Amazon’s rules?

Seems like a simple business maneuver (or bullying, depending on who’s talking). Want to work with me? Abide by my rules. Amazon is a business. The way they build their brand is by offering books at a low cost. I said it before, but it bears repeating. This is the difference between Amazon and Barnes and Noble, for instance. Barnes and Noble lists books at the price the publisher chooses. Amazon lists books at the price the publisher decides IF it’s a favorable price for their customers.

So what’s up with Hachette?

Maybe Hachette is a little behind the times. Maybe they don’t understand how publishing has evolved. Maybe they do, but don’t care. Maybe they’re just greedy and it’s all about money, money, money. Who really knows? In response to the letter by Amazon, chief executive of HBG, Michael Pietsch, had this to say:

“Unlike retailers, publishers invest heavily in individual books, often for years, before we see any revenue,” he wrote.  “We invest in advances against royalties, editing, design, production, marketing, warehousing, shipping, piracy protection, and more. We recoup these costs from sales of all the versions of the book that we publish—hardcover, paperback, large print, audio, and e-book.

“While e-books do not have the $2-$3 costs of manufacturing, warehousing, and shipping that print books have, their selling price carries a share of all our investments in the book.”

The bottom line is that Hachette wants to charge high fees for their e-books and that doesn’t fit with Amazon’s business model.

So what if Hachette said, “Screw you, Amazon,” and only sold their books through other online retailers, leaving Amazon in the dust?

They would probably lose money from Amazon’s customers, or face complaints from readers who prefer Amazon’s one-click buy now convenience, and enjoy adding to their collection of books on their Kindle readers.

So what if Hachette lowered they’re e-books on Amazon.com?

Hachette would be forced to lower prices of their e-books at other retailer’s sites too. Otherwise readers would flock to Amazon to get the lower priced books, which is good for Amazon and good for Hachette because it’ll probably increase  sales from Amazon, but the sales will come from lower priced books. Meaning less profit for Hachette (not so good from their point of view).

But money is the name of the game.

Greed aside. Money keeps a business afloat. Sure. Plenty Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) authors, including myself, complained about the royalty difference when pricing our books. KDP authors can select from two royalty options.

E-book priced at $0.99 – $2.99 = 35% royalty to the author

E-book priced at $2.99 – $9.99 = 70% royalty to the author

*$0.00 (FREE) e-books are only an option for Kindle Select participants = books are exclusively sold from Amazon

*All e-books to be priced under $9.99 

Here’s a more detailed explanation at this link.

OK, let’s think business here. Amazon crunched numbers to make sure when every book sells, they make a profit. Makes sense from a business standpoint, right?

I used to wonder, if Amazon really cared about the customer why not add to their database of free e-books by making it easy for KDP authors to upload free reads. I still have a book on Amazon (not enrolled in Select) that is free everywhere else, even Amazon UK and CA, but is still listed at .99 cents on Amazon.com US and other countries. This is so because Amazon uses price matching. If another retailer (competition) provides the book for free Amazon will (usually) do the same to stay on top of the competition.

However, by (definitely) offering the free option to books that are exclusive to Amazon through Kindle Select, they now eliminate the competition of Select titles altogether. As frustrating as this can be to authors not enrolled and want to distribute free e-books on Amazon, including myself, I get it. Business, remember?

Hachette—who I am not familiar with as a business, and never worked with—have an agenda and a profit to make too, to recoup the overall cost of producing the books, as stated above by the chief executive of HBG. If they make bad decisions by overcharging for e-books, over time, those mistakes will correct themselves one way or another. Readers will stop buying overpriced e-books, Hachette will be forced to adapt to the times, or buckle.

Bottom Line

Amazon must learn that although they are currently big and bad in the book industry, they are not the face behind a publishing revolution and they shouldn’t strive to be. They should do what they do best and provide e-books at a value by focusing on the consumer’s wants, but not tossing them in the middle of legal negotiations. Is going public really going to change the fact that these two companies want to do business together but can’t agree? How is a letter from little ol’ me to the CEO of Hachette going to change his or anyone’s opinion, especially if what I say is:

1) Bullet points at the bottom of their lengthy email Amazon prompted me to say

2) Things Mr. CEO already knows

Bestselling Hachette authors placing a $100k ad against Amazon in the New York Times, and Amazon mass emailing all of their readers, is simply putting us in the middle of a war that none of us deserve. The folks choosing sides are most likely the ones directly affected by the Amazon-Hatchette battle. Those on the fence are most likely the ones thrown in the middle and have nothing to do with either parties.

Frankly, both sides are publicly presenting themselves as unprofessional. To go so far with their tactics to start a war over the rights and wrongs of e-book pricing. What should have been a private matter has now spiraled into authors and readers and others in publishing from all over, taking sides and pointing fingers. When if only Amazon and Hachette focus on the reader’s wants (which is a huge factor to consider in the publishing industry) this war would have been nonexistent.

This has been my two cents. Mind sharing yours?

[Image credit: Claudio Toledo]

Nov 26 2013

Getting Started: Cover Art for Self-Publishers

Blank white book(Updated 1/26/14 with more cover artists below)

In an article by Terri Giuliano Long on IndieReader.com, founder of Smashwords, Mark Coker, says, “Our brains are wired to process images faster than words. When we see an image, it makes us feel something.” A great cover can “help the reader instantly recognize that this book is for them.”

We all know how important good cover art is for a published book. It’s even more important for self-published authors when competing with traditionally published books on the market.

The perfect book cover does three things:
  1. Grabs attention
  2. Gathers further interest
  3. Gets the sale

Getting the sale usually depends on other factors such as: genre, price, back cover description, interior quality, etc. However, a great book cover should get you one step closer to a sale.

 

Where to Start

Start with writing down your book cover goals and ideas. Depending on your book’s genre and audience, you should have specific goals in mind when planning your perfect book cover.

Erotica: Do you want to portray a specific scene from the story? Do you want sexy cover models? Do you want the mysterious bookstore-appropriate cover like the Fifty Shade books?

Romance: Do you want the hero and heroine to attract your readers? Want silhouetted images or specific body parts so not to throw off your readers and their interpretations of your characters? Would a pretty rose or other object better signify your book’s message? What about colors, does red match the personality, theme or mood of your book?

After you have an idea of what you want to portray, you start looking for a professional cover artist.

Professional Cover Artist

Sure, you probably can whip up a book cover over the weekend using GIMP or some other free graphic manipulating software. But unless you are a skilled graphic designer or a pro with Photoshop you should probably look to someone who creates book covers for a living to assist you.

Cover artists are professional not only because they know how to manipulate images and graphics, they also understand book covers and the genres they create them for. They have specific ideas about the right kind of feel for the genre, the perfect placement of text, fonts and images, they use the highest resolution of the perfect stock photos, and more. Some may even design promo material for you (bookmarks, Facebook headers, etc.) which will come in handy when marketing your book.

Are you still in control?

Of course, you are in control of your book cover. You provide very detailed descriptions and examples of what you desire for your book cover to the cover artist, and they try their best to deliver, usually not stopping until you are absolutely satisfied with the cover. Some cover artists have limits to the amount of revisions you can make, which is understandable if you consider they have other clients and projects to tend to as well.

Will you own the cover rights?

Yes. If you are a self-published author, you are paying for the full rights to use the book cover in any way you please, provided the cover artist acquired the necessary stock photo rights. Still, I would advise you to clarify this with the designer ahead of time.

Aren’t the pros expensive?

It depends on who you work with, your exact needs, and your budget. Sure, a full cover wrap is more expensive than an e-book cover, because you only need a front cover for an e-book as opposed to the front cover, back cover, and spine for a POD paperback. Custom book cover designs cost more than a pre-made cover design. Higher resolution photos cost more for the cover artist, so in turn, they’ll cost more for you. It all depends on your needs.

You said, “Pre-made book covers?”

Yep. You can get pre-made book covers for as low as $25 through some cover artists. The best book cover designers have an online portfolio where you can browse covers through genres or themes. But remember, it’s on a first comes, first served basis. In other words, once a particular book cover is sold, it is gone forever. And although they are pre-made, the artist will still customize the cover with your author name, book title, series title, tagline, etc. For authors with a low budget or debuting, using a pre-made cover can be your best bet.

Finding Professional Cover artists

Finding a professional book cover designer is as easy as Google. Below is a list of a few I’ve either worked with or checked out myself.

Variety of genres.

Art by Karri | http://artbykarri.com/ | Prices starting at $45
RomCom Pre-Made Book Covers | http://www.romcon.com/pre-made-book-covers | Prices starting at $125
Farah Evers Designs | http://www.farahevers.com/ | Prices starting at $50
Mina Carter Designshttp://art.mina-carter.com/ | Prices starting at $40
Cover Art Collective | http://www.coverartcollective.com/ | Prices starting at $30 (This link also lists 10 other book cover designers)
Amazon.com KDP Cover Creator | https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/signin | When publishing on the KDP platform you now have an option to create your book cover complete with images and templates | currently priced at FREE
Selfpubbookcovers.com | http://www.selfpubbookcovers.com/index.php | prices at $69
Mallory Rock (Graphic Artist & Interior Formattor) | http://www.malloryrock.com/ | prices (must query)

 

Suggested by blog readers & visitors:

 

Scarlet Tie Designs Pre-made Book Covers | http://scarlettiedesigns.weebly.com/ | Prices starting at $30
Meredith Orioli – Graphic Designer |  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Meredith-Orioli-Freelance-Graphic-Designer/1430358920512362?ref=hl | Prices (must query)

 

You know some great and affordable book cover artists? Let us know about them in the comments.

 

When it comes to cover art, this post will help you get started. Now you know what to expect, where to look, and what to budget for your book cover design. Is there anything you would like to know more about? Let me know in the comments.

 

[Image credit: Oh, Chrys!]

Jul 03 2013

How to Be a Great Guest Blogger

keyboardtypeIn the writing industry, authors often guest blog on an independent book blogger’s blog to promote their latest book release. In the freelancing industry, writers are propositioned or paid as freelance writers to share their expertise on a blog. No matter which tier you fall under, it’s always best to leave a good first impression. It doesn’t matter why you guest blog, but by applying these courteous and memorable steps, you increase your chances of getting invited back to the blog and making a good first and last impression.

1. Thank the host.

Remember, a simple “thank you” is still a universal courtesy of appreciation. Any chance you get, in the initial email, the comments of the blog, or even in the post itself, thank your host for inviting you to their blog, or for featuring you and your post that day, etc. Being sincere can get you far, however, thank your host even if you just want to turn on the charm.

2. Encourage comments, feedback and engagement.

Don’t just sell, sell, sell, and blah, blah, blah. Welcome feedback. At the end of your post, ask your audience questions. Show your personality. Ask them to share your post with their friends and followers. And join the comment discussions, which bring us to…

3. Reply to comments.

This is a big one. How rude is it to have your guest post go live and you’re nowhere to be found when the comments start rolling in? If you did a good job you should expect comments. Naturally, commenters expect a reply. They’re talking to you, about you or your work, so show your gratitude for their time and their comments by responding to them.

4. Share the blog post. Spread the word:

You’ve asked your audience to spread the word, so jump on that bandwagon and share too. Bring in more readers for your host as she brings in more awareness of you, your product, or whatever else you have to offer. Plus, the more people who know of your post, the more exposure, right? So don’t forget this important step.

5. Research. Familiarize yourself with the host’s blog.

• Become a regular reader.
• Engage with the blog by sharing posts, leaving comments, and signing up to the newsletter.
• Know the subject matter, the mission, the average post lengths, and the personality of the blog.

6. Research. Know your target audience.

No matter if you’re blogging to promote your latest book or as a paid gig, you must always be aware of who you are speaking to. Know your audience. Hopefully you’ve done your research before arranging a guest post spot. Questions I’ve asked myself about this blogs: Are you speaking to professionals or amateurs? Published or unpublished authors? Indie published or traditionally published? Fiction writers or non-fiction writers?

Now ask yourself, does the blog target a specific group, age-range or education level? You’re more successful at reaching your goal if you know who you’re talking to and how best to get them to listen to your message, by doing your research.

7. Make being a guest easy for your host.

• Hit or beat deadlines.
• Provide all information, links, images, etc., your host needs.
• Have questions? Ask them sooner rather than later.
• Give your host the time she needs to respond to your emails and to handle any concerns.
• Send reminders if need be.

8. Smile for the camera.

Registar a Gravitar (a Globally Recognized Avatar) with an updated bio pic for Gravitar enabled website, such as WordPress, for comments, and/or supply the host with an updated pic of yourself to incorporate into the blog post. People want to see the person behind the post. They want to see who’s “speaking” and who they’re speaking to when commenting.

9. Learn the general rules of blogging and the rules of the blog.

• Learn and follow the host’s rules and guidelines.
• Learn the proper way to reply to commenters, how to engage with your audience, and write for your audience.
• Learn how to format posts, how to write engaging headlines, etc.

10. Be yourself and have fun.

Most importantly, yep, be yourself. Show your personality and go into it with positive thinking. If you think of guest blogging as a chore, guess what, it becomes a pain. This can result in you slacking off on one or more of the above tips and not having a good experience or results.
If you have a chance to guest blog go into it with excitement. This is your chance to get the word out about what you have to offer. Apply the tips above and don’t be surprised when your host welcomes you back with open arms. Do you find this information helpful? Please leave a comment and tell me so. And feel free to share.

 

Image credit:espensorvik

Mar 07 2013

Basic Facts about Self-Publishing Every Author Needs to Know

chart

Recently, I’ve come to realize some authors are simply confused about the self-publishing business. Many are holding onto some of the popular misconceptions, while others have the whole business of self-publishing completely wrong, thinking of self-publishing as a last resort, or for books that can’t sale. I think there are plenty of authors out there who are missing out on this option of book publishing because of the longstanding misconceptions about it.

Misconceptions:

  1. You have to pay to self-publish
  2. You self-publish when you can’t sell the manuscript to “real” publishers
  3. Self-published books are poor quality
  4. Self-publishing costs too much money
  5. Self-published books don’t sell
  6. Self-publishing means no physical books
  7. Self-publishing is a hobby and is not a business

The Facts:

  1. Self-publishing is FREE. If you pay to get your book published that is called Vanity Publishing or Subsidy Publishing. From my experience, this form of publishing is just another way for people to take advantage of novice writers. Yes, I fell into that trap at the beginning of my career. However, I learned from that. You should not have to pay to be published.
  2. Self-publishing is not a last resort for many. You self-publish when you decide you want to make more money on your sales, make your own creative decisions, and become your own boss (because as soon as you sell your first book you are legally considered self-employed).
  3. Self-published books are comparable to traditionally published books when it comes to quality. Not ALL self-published books are poor quality and full of errors, though a lot are. Only because it’s become so easy to self-publish that more people are exploring this option and they’re doing it more often (faster). So pretty much anyone could do it, which means some writers who don’t develop their skill or don’t see a need to purchase great cover art or editing services click “publish” much sooner than they should have. However, we shouldn’t assume all self-published books are crap, just like we shouldn’t assume all traditionally published books are perfect.
  4. You could self-publish at no cost. However, self-publishing does require financial investment if you want to sell your book, but the return could be much greater if you know what you’re doing. You are responsible for cover art, formatting, editing, marketing, and marketing materials (i.e., website hosting, bookmarks, business cards, etc.), however, in most cases you earn a higher percentage of royalties (i.e., up to 80% on Kobo, 70% on Amazon DTP, 60% on Smashwords, 60% on ARe and Omnilit, and 40% on Barnes and Noble’s PubIts!). Which means more money back in your pocket. Also, keep in mind, being traditionally published requires an investment too as you are now required to market your book.

    publishingChart

    *up to or varies

  5. Self-published books sale very well. Sometimes you have no idea if the book you just purchased was traditionally published or self-published. Sometimes just browsing Amazon a book jumps out at you and holds your interest. In fact, a lot of the books sold on Amazon and on other online bookstores are self-published books. This is the case because of the increasing amount of authors who are turning to this option.
  6. You can acquire physical copies of your self-published book. With print on demand (POD) services available to indie authors, it is now easier and faster than ever to get your book into print and to print out as many or as few physical copies of your book as you want whenever you want. Amazon’s Createspace is a popular and free POD platform as is Lulu. They just deduct a percentage from each sale.
  7. Self-publishing is most definitely a business … if you choose. Sure, some people self-publish their family’s cooking recipes into a cookbook just for family members and close friends, some self-publish their book of poetry just to have a personal memento to pass down generation after generation. Yes, for some, self-publishing is a hobby and nothing more. But for many others, it is definitely a business. And for a handful of authors, it’s their livelihood, their means to make a living, for such indie authors as; J.A. Konrath (thriller writer), Amanda Hocking (YA, paranormal author), and Hugh Howey (science fiction author).

What Self-Publishing is NOT:

Just like traditional or e-publishing, self-publishing is not:

  • A get-rich-quick scheme. You cannot publish a book and become a bestseller within a short amount of time without working hard on promotion, platform, and investing money on marketing and materials.
  • A fast path to superstardom. You will not become famous and be interviewed by Oprah within a short amount of time without working on your craft, learning the business, and putting in hard work.
  • A means to quit your day job. Because of the reasons above. Don’t quit your day job until you are making a steady amount of money to cover your living expenses and you are consistent for more than a few months. In fact, I personally, would not rely solely on writing as a single source of income because it is so inconsistent. One month you can make 5000 sales the next only 1000. The success of a book varies and sales are unpredictable.

What Self-Publishing Requires:

You will not become rich and famous overnight. Self-publishing, like any business, requires:

  • Hard work (blood, sweat and tears)
  • Skill (knowledge, education, know-how)
  • Investment (time and money)
  • Concentration (focus, planning, strategy)
  • Willpower (determination, mental strength and perseverance)

Some Benefits:

  1. You make ALL the creative decisions. From cover art design, to the font of the interior text, to the release date. It’s all you.
  2. You control the sales price. You can set a price and change it at will. You can even set the price to free (with some distributers).
  3. You earn more money. You make a higher percentage back on royalties.
  4. You keep ALL rights. The rights to your book including digital, film, audio, etc., are yours forever.
  5. You take all the credit. If you do become a bestseller and sell your film rights to a major movie company, you can bask in the joy of doing it all yourself.

Some Drawbacks:

  1. You are responsible for everything. You have to correctly format your book, upload your book, proof it, set prices, manage prices, market it, promote it, and the list goes on. Remember, it’s all you.
  2. You must invest. You pay for cover art and editing (and sometimes formatting if you choose). With traditional publishing and e-publishing, the publisher pays for cover art and provides editing free of charge. “Free” unless you take into account that they’re getting 50-90% off of your sales. *You are “technically” paying for these services including; marketing, distribution, formatting, etc.
  3. You market solely. Sure, you must market your book if you are traditionally published or self-published, but self-publishing means you are doing it all on your own. That means, you must balance out marketing your book, working the day job, raising the family, writing your next book, managing an online social profile, branding, etc., with little or no help unless you pay for marketing services out of pocket.
  4. You take all the blame. If something goes wrong, you have no one to blame but yourself.

I can go on and on about self-publishing, and I will touch on it again in forthcoming posts. What about self-publishing interests you or horrifies you? What questions do you have about self-publishing? I’ll do my best to answer in a future post.

What about self-publishing are you most interested in?
What would you like to know more of regarding self-publishing?

Apr 24 2012

Confessions of a Lonely Writer

I come from a huge family. My family is so huge you’d expect a member like me (with what I would call a decent amount of talent in the literary, visual and performing arts) to get a little recognition from them every now and then. Admittedly, good news doesn’t travel much around the huge family circle. Unfortunate, I know. I’d liken the experience to a bad reality TV show where there’s constant drama and unbelievably high ratings.


Friends? Only back in elementary and high school. At sixteen my social life drastically changed when I had my first daughter. Suddenly, my friends and I didn’t have much in common anymore.

Soon after was the death of my social life.

And now, as a writer ( a lonely job) I long for that pat on the back once in a while. That “Good job” or “Congrats!” (Hell, I even crave a decent adult conversation with someone other than my husband from time to time.) “I’m proud of you” and “Keep up the good work” are rarely passed around in my huge family. Growing up I barely heard those words unless it was from my Language Arts teacher. Eventually, I learned to accept it.

I read about the sister and wife of my favorite Sci-Fi author, Hugh Howey, and how they are his support system. They help him with book readings and events, critiquing his works in progress and who knows what else. I long for such a system. If only I had that kind of support with my first published book.

Indeed, my writing journey has been a lonely one. I had to teach myself about publishing the hard way, through trial and error. Oh, I have my share of regrets.

My earliest dream? To see my name on the cover of a book. I started writing short horror stories in elementary school, but my first novel was completed in 2005. Three’s a Crowd: The Beginning, an MMF erotic romance. The results? An embarrassment. The whole experience was a nightmare that I only realize NOW.

I’d been HAD by a vanity press. They charged me hundreds of dollars that I borrowed from one of my sisters and enthusiastically paid them to publish what I now dub “an utter piece of crap.” I was completely oblivious  to my own writing errors and desperate to have my book in print that I never questioned why a “publisher” would publish something so severely unedited. (Literally my first draft!) Until later when I figured out it wasn’t my best work.

I put out a revised and extended version in 2008, (and continued the story after the book as an online serial for free here: www.threesacrowd3.com) after writing two other novels and publishing them all through the same vanity press. Thousands of dollars lost! Finally, in 2011, I was humiliated enough to have Three’s a Crowd: The Beginning discontinued. I mean, I’m trying to make a name for myself and build a decent platform. And although my dream was to have my name on a book cover, I no longer wanted my name on THAT book cover.

Where was my support system and why weren’t they looking out for me? I realized I was alone in that endeavor. Still am.

Now, I highly despise vanity presses learned so much. It took years of making mistakes and learning from them, but now I understand the publishing business and how it works.

Some of what I’ve had to learn the hard way:

·         Research publishers before submitting

·         Research everything before making a commitment including topics and the facts for my stories

·         Respect feedback from editors and readers

·         Take criticism like an adult

·         Keep improving  my writing skills with every book I write

·         Continue to read, write and learn about story writing and book publishing

·         Do not expect perfection but work towards it anyway

·         Keep reading, writing and learning

·         Do not expect to have a team of family and friends behind me, pushing me and urging me on. To only depend on myself, and the people who choose to stand behind me, to get ahead and succeed.

Overtime, my up-and-down experience with writing and publishing has showed me that even without a support system I can make my dreams come true. I currently have 14 books for sale with my name on them. I may be a lonely writer but I appreciate the rewards even more knowing I’ve made it so far by myself.

Mar 20 2012

Inside the Mind of a Self-Doubting Writer

  1. Wow. What a great idea! I can’t wait to start on this story. But, wait. How can I make it original without making it suck?

  2. I know! I’ll write a cast of diverse characters, no cookie cutter stereotypes. Plus, my voice and style of writing would lend to the story’s uniqueness.

  3. Wow, I impressed myself. Gotta tell my honey how many words I wrote today and update my Twitter and Facebook pages with the news.

  4. Gosh, I’m tearing through this story. I’ve written so many chapters and even added a few good twists. This is gonna be brilliant! Progress is going great! I can’t wait to share this story with the world. People are gonna love this.

  5. But what if they don’t? What if they don’t like the direction I took the main character? Gosh, maybe I should go back and further clarify why the character made that decision.

  6. While I’m rewriting the scene where the main character makes an important decision, I might as well reread the entire thing to make sure the story’s unfolding the way I envisioned.

  7. Okay, now I’ll continue writing where I left off … but later this evening, after I make dinner and put the kids to sleep.

  8. The kids are fed, full and asleep but I woke up pretty early today. I’ll go to sleep now so I can get up early and write more of the story tomorrow before work.

  9. I got about an hour before I get the kids off to school this morning. Might as well check my emails and see what I missed on Facebook and Twitter before I start on the story.

  10. Darn! Where did the time go? I’ll finish writing the chapter of my story by tonight, no excuses.

  11. Well, now it’s a little late but I have the time to look over the last few chapters I wrote to remember where I left off.

  12. Ugh! I wrote that?! I must’ve been tired or something. This is not going the way I thought it would. It’s nothing but chapters and chapters of crap. No one’s gonna want to read this mess! Why am I wasting my time? The characters are obviously stereotypes and my voice and style seem too sophomoric.

  13. Ooh. I got another cool idea. But this idea will be great as a different book with different characters.

  14. Now how can I put my twist on it and make it truly my own? Well, before I get into this new story maybe I should finish writing the other story first.

  15. *opens story and stare blankly at the screen*

  16. I’ll start the new story now and work on the other story tomorrow. *closes story and opens blank document*

  17. But what if no one likes the premise of the new story? The characters seem kind of blah, the setting is overused … this will never work.

  18. Oh, wait! Honey read over the few chapters of my other story and liked it. Maybe I should put all my attention into that story again. But Honey isn’t familiar with book publishing or the market. What if Honey was just being nice and the story really sucks?

  19. I’ll have one of my author friends look over it and give me their feedback. They understand the book world and will be honest with me.

  20. They liked it and even gave me some useful feedback on how to make it even better. I can’t wait to start working on this story again. This is brilliant! People are gonna love it!

Mar 13 2012

Questions I’ve Been Asked Pertaining to Writing & the Candid Answers: Part 2

I’ve been asked a variety of questions over the years. Some questions been asked multiple times, some are a little odd, some are simple and only people not involved in the publishing business would seek the answer.  So below are some of those questions with simple, detailed and honest answers. You can find part 1 here.

Where does your cover art come from?

Simple answer:Skilled cover artists using royalty free stock photos edit the photos to make tantalizing book covers.

Detailed answer:The publishing house usually has cover artists on board to craft their covers for them. If I’m indie publishing a title, I’ll “hire” a cover artist to design cover art for me. Each artist uses their own graphic editing software (like Photoshop or Gimp) and royalty free stock images to create sexy cover art. They usually work closely with you to try to design the cover as near to your vision as possible.

How do you get paid and how much?

Simple answer: See below

Detailed answer: I get paid royalties either quarterly or monthly by the publisher of the book, and it’s usually a small percentage of the cover price. I’m paid out either by check, direct deposit into my bank account or through Paypal. For paperback titles, I receive 20 percent of the cover price for each book sold. For the same titles published through Kindle Direct Publishing *I receive 70 percent of the cover price of each book sold.

*The cover price of e-books is always cheaper than the paperback copies, as it should be (IMO). Every publisher offers different amounts of royalty percentages. There’s no standard.

Do you just call your publisher when you want them to publish your book?

Simple answer: No.

Detailed answer:With the success of digital books and electronic publishers, e-mail is the better, quicker and preferred choice of correspondence between author and publisher nowadays. Also, being published with a particular publisher doesn’t exclude you from having to submit to them. In my experience, you may be assigned an editor but just because you’re an in-house author doesn’t mean they’ll publish whatever you got. You still have to write and format your work to the publisher’s guidelines and they can ask for revisions before offering another contract. The good thing about being an in-house author is that usually you don’t have to query, you submit your work to your very own editor and it’s likely they’ll accept subsequent manuscripts from you since they’re familiar with your writing and professionalism.

Do you have an editor?

I believe this question was referring to a copy editor instead of a submissions editor at a publishing house.

Simple answer: When my book is published through a publishing house such as Breathless Press, that publisher assigns me an editor. Otherwise, If self-publishing, I have to pay for an editor myself which could be very expensive.

Detailed answer:At the start of my career I thought I knew it all (a common amateur belief). Now, I understand the value of a good editor. Editors are great to not only find typos or grammar mistakes I’ve overlooked, but to help make my work as polished as possible. Editors are great for helping eliminate redundancies, craft believable dialogue and characters and find other ways to make my manuscript crisp, polished and ready for the market. If I’m publishing an indie title and don’t have the privilege of working with an editor from a publishing house, I now consider paying for one.

Are there questions you have that are not listed and you want the candid answers to?

Mar 05 2012

Paypal Prohibits "Obscene" Content

No, I don’t write erotica with themes of incest, pseudo-incest, rape for titillation, underage sex or bestiality. However, even though erotic fiction with those themes does not appeal to me, there is a market for it. A huge market for it. And just like other readers, if the content of the story does not amuse me, I don’t read it. Simple as that.


But now, PayPal is cracking down on publishers and websites that publishes and sales said books. Paypal warns if publisher continue to sale those books with “obscene content,” Paypal will deactivate publisher’s account. You may wonder why a company would threaten to deactivate so many publisher accounts like Smashwords.

“Paypal doesn’t want to have to pay Visa and MC for carrying “high risk” accounts on their books.” Erotica writer Selena Kitt writes on her blog. And what’s considered high risk for Paypal? Erotic books that contain the themes listed above. “Sites that carry high-risk material have to pay the high-risk costs of doing business. If you’re going through Paypal, you don’t have to pay that. Until Paypal catches you. And then they insist you take down your high-risk content or lose your account.”

So it’s the major credit card companies behind it all.

As a writer of erotica and erotic romance what I take form this is the major credit card companies saying… “We’re not supporting your icky imagination and if you force me to associate my name with your obscene fiction, then we can’t be friends anymore.” … That’s how I read it If it’s really about the money or not.

No matter my personal views on erotic books with those “questionable” themes (incest, pseudo-incest, rape for titillation, underage sex or bestiality), they’re still legal to write about. I am not a person to condone the suppression of published material. We’re adults. We should be able to write, read, and buy the kind of fiction we desire without someone or some group making it difficult due to their tastes.
Mark Coker, founder and CEO of Smashwords, had this to say about Paypal’s crackdown. “PayPal is asking us to censor legal fiction. Regardless of how one views topics of rape, bestiality and incest, these topics are pervasive in mainstream fiction. We believe this crackdown is really targeting erotica writers. This is unfair, and it marks a slippery slope. We don’t want credit card companies or financial institutions telling our authors what they can write and what readers can read. Fiction is fantasy. It’s not real. It’s legal.”

It concerns me. What will they target next in erotica?

Gay sex? Threesomes? Sex out of wedlock? Erotica in general?

What do you think about the crackdown?

Feb 24 2012

Embracing Rejection Instead of Fearing It

All writers experience publisher/editor/agent rejection at one point in their writing careers, but serious writers learn to embrace that rejection and use it to improve their writing.

 

Here’s how:

 

Don’t let it hinder you

 

Just like that cutie in high school who never knew you existed. If only you could’ve built the courage to plop your food tray down at his table, slide in beside him and say, “Hi,” things might’ve been different. Instead, fear held you down at the table in the corner with the rest of the unpopulars as you watched big-busted Kyla sit down beside him and start a giggle-laden conversation. What, just me?

 

Fear keeps you from trying because you’re uncertain of the results. And the ultimate fear for writers is … what if they don’t like my writing. And instead of finishing the novel, you put it on the back burner because if you finish it then you’ll want to share it. And what if they think it sucks?

 

You want to get it published, but you’re afraid of submitting it because you’re writing sucks compared to other writers. What if publishers think you have no business writing even grocery lists?

 

They accepted and published your novel, but you’re afraid to market it because reviewers and readers could be harsher than any editor. What if they hate your book so bad the only sales you get are from readers who buy your book for the satisfaction of watching the book burn ritualistic style, and in your backyard, nonetheless?

 

Own up to the fact that you will be rejected one way or another, sooner or later, and make sure every time you …

 

Learn from it

 

A (sort of) nice thing to take away from being rejected by a publisher, editor or agent is that sometimes you get a valued piece of written inscription known as a personalized rejection letter. Sometimes the editor will explain why the manuscript was rejected and sometimes she will even give you pointers on how to improve it, leaving you with the decision to fix it and move on (or resubmit) to another publisher without making any changes at all. Whichever you choose, the point is … you’re moving on (or revising and resubmitting) and trying again.

 

You may get rejection after rejection and no explanation for it. Which isn’t unusual but if your work is continually getting rejected it’s time to change your tactics.

 

  • Rewrite the query letter. Sometimes tweaking the query letter is all it takes. Since the query is the first hint of your writing skills the editor encounters, it’s important that it’s just as polished as your manuscript.

 

  • Have someone else look over the query letter and manuscript. Sometimes it’s difficult for you to see your own mistakes and typos, or if something needs clarification.

 

  • Double check and follow the submission guidelines. Make sure the publisher publishes similar books in your genre, are open for submissions, accepts from author or agent, etc.

 

  • Be professional. No emoticons, text-like abbreviations or usage of slang in your query letter or any written correspondence between you and publisher/editor/agent.

 

  • If all else fails … focus on writing your next novel. Don’t spend too much time rewriting and submitting the same manuscript. Move on to your next novel which should be written better than your last. You should keep learning your craft and improving.

 

Know it’s not the end

 

Serious writers understand it’s not the end of your writing career or the end of rejection. There will be more rejection letters just as long as you keep writing and submitting manuscripts. Rejection is a huge part of being a serious writer.

 

Imagine plopping your food tray down next to that cutie in high school and he turns to you with a look of disgust on his face. Your worst fear, right? Hey, you knew it could happen, at least you can say you tried and that you learned to never go that route again. (Next time you’ll catch him at his locker after school.)

 

So embrace rejection instead of fearing it and use it to improve your writing.

 

 

May 06 2011

Judy Mays: Erotic Romance Writer Outed

(Excerpt from Barbara Vey — May 5th, 2011 link below)

Last week the earth shattering news hit that high school teacher Judy Buranich writes erotica as Judy Mays. Horrors!! An English teacher who writes. It’s almost embarrassing to read the news accounts of the outing. A parent came forward because she felt erotica “is unethical, totally unacceptable. Period. It just sort of sickens and saddens me to know everybody’s sort of looking at this like, hey, this is OK.” I hate to break it to you parent, but erotic is ok. It’s not illegal. Lots of people obviously like it because there’s definitely a market for it. We even do book blurbs on them here. So I contacted author Judy Mays and asked for her side of the story.

Read the rest HERE!