Viewing entries tagged
self-publishing

Fit Matters: Q&A on Finding the Right Editor for Your Book

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Fit Matters: Q&A on Finding the Right Editor for Your Book

Recently, I had a great exchange on Facebook with author George Pearson. An author of two books and currently working on a third book, his books are written for the Christian market. However, the criteria George and I discussed for finding the right editor for his work is applicable for authors of various genres and topics.

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Writers Are Healers: When's the Last Time You Used Your Power?

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Writers Are Healers: When's the Last Time You Used Your Power?

Writers have a unique weapon at their disposal that can bring healing to the world. That weapon is the written word. Just like any weapon it can be wielded for good or evil. The right word at the right time can have a huge impact if only on one reader at first, transforming them into a force of change and compassion and producing a ripple effect that can ultimately impact entire cultures and societies.

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Costs to Consider When Preparing to Publish Your Book

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Costs to Consider When Preparing to Publish Your Book

As an independent author, you need to fully consider how much money to budget to get an industry-competitive book product to properly represent you and your message. This post will give you an idea of what to expect from the beginning and will help you navigate the best and most financially appropriate direction for publishing your book.

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Write to Your Strength: An Editor's Rant with 6 Tips at the End

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Write to Your Strength: An Editor's Rant with 6 Tips at the End

You have it going on over here: platform, credentials, consumer interest, consumer demand, passion, knowledge, and credibility. But you insist on writing over here in the land where nobody cares, where they have "been there done that" so many times that the books on that subject are on sale at Dollar Tree, where if this lukewarm topic of a book is somehow published the market will spew it out of its mouth, where if one more sentence is read someone is going to jump...

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You Should Probably Self-Publish If…

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You Should Probably Self-Publish If…

When your desires and expectations for certain parts of the publishing process exceed a traditional publisher's ability to meet them, self-publishing may be a great option for you. Read about 10 signs indicate self-publishing may work better for you than traditional publishing.

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Beyond a Love Affair: How I Went From Loving Books to Writing Them

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Beyond a Love Affair: How I Went From Loving Books to Writing Them

I ventured out and tried something different on my blog today and let you hear from one of my dearest friends Becky Van Volkinburg, who just became a published author. Becky and I have sang together, cried together, prayed to gather, dreamed together, vented about "stuff" together... I am so proud of her journey and I wanted to share it with you today.

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What Good Are Agents for Indie Authors?


Just the other day, I posted a comparison of what an indie author would need vs. what an indie musician would need to make their project available to a waiting audience. At the top of the list, I had “manager” for the indie musician and “agent” for the indie author. There was one comment from Vanessa O’Loughlin 
of www.inkwellwriters.ie that said:
"Your Key Player list though is pulling on both self-publishing and traditional publishing, which may be confusing for some writers. If you are self-publishing, you don’t need an agent.”
While I had to rethink what I had said and respond to her comment with what I intended to say, I have since mused over what services an agent may indeed be able to provide an indie author.

Vanessa was right in part, but in a #litchat Twitter discussion today, @JulieBritt asked a brilliant question: “What about selling movie, TV, or technology-not-yet-invented rights. How do you do that without an agent?”

One answer, of course, is simply that you can do whatever you need to do to get your book into the venues and formats you desire without having an agent, but do you want to venture into that without a professional guide?


Many writers want to be able to focus on the creative part of their work without having to focus so much on the business aspects. I understand that this is largely impossible these days, but that’s where my Heavy Hitters for Writers list really shows its value. A writer really should find ways to delegate some of the publishing responsibilities to their network. It actually takes a village to raise a good book (or music project). Publishing companies have teams of people on hand to make one book a success. How much more for the indie author?

Who would fill the top slot of managing an indie writer's career if not an agent?

This is how I understand it from a music perspective: I may not ever want a traditional recording deal, but it is wise for me to acquire an industry-savvy manager who can guide me through making the best decisions about performance contracts for live shows, TV appearances, and compilation projects; commercial endorsements or movies; merchandise, image, and branding; and what venues to perform in. And then he'll even be my muscle when it comes time to collect honorariums, royalties, and other fees. So my need for a manager goes beyond me wanting to be represented in front of record labels; he is there to support me in all my music endeavors. Of course, I am taking responsibility to educate myself and obtain the best basic information I can, however, I don't have to do it all myself.

Just the same, agents have a specialized knowledge of the book publishing industry that covers everything from pointing out content issues in a book to protecting intellectual property rights to helping a writer plan a long-term writing career. But, traditionally, agents are there to represent authors who will eventually go the mainstream publishing avenue by selling their manuscripts to publishers.

So here’s my question: as the book publishing landscape continues to evolve and the quality of self-publishing changes connotations and takes on a more credible indie feel, will agents make themselves available to indie authors to help them navigate derivative product and multimedia options for their books? Will it ever be necessary for an author who is indie by choice to acquire the services of an agent?

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Who Says You Need a Publisher?

Yeah, yeah, yeah… I know. I work for “the man.” But some recent happenings in my life got me thinking…

If in music, unsigned can equal indie, and, in car sales, used is now preowned, then what will happen with the term self-published?

Because of the parallel life that I lead as an “unsigned” recording artist, I often run smack dab into crossover experiences that literary writers have. I think that may also cause me to respond in a more careful way when I review their work as a book editor. I feel blessed being able to see both sides of the journey.

Sometimes I wonder why so many writers appear desperate to be published by a publishing company, when there are just so many other options to getting their message out to the world. Traditional publishing is changing in such a big way these days, and in ways so similar to how the music recording industry changed. From fixed media like tapes and CDs to digital media transferers such as Napster, Rhapsody, iTunes, and MP3s streaming from the artist’s Web sites—from print books to e-books (and just the other day I saw an author offering readers a free read of their book “streaming” on their Web site), how can we except the big frown from “them” about the validity of self-publishing?

Just as consumers think that somehow they are of a special breed when they find a new indie recording artist, readers are going to begin to find it very cool to discover a new “indie” writer. However, quality makes all the difference. Put some money, time, strategy, research, networking, and hard work behind it and who will know the difference between a self-pub and traditionally pubbed book on the shelf or on iBooks?

Come to think of it, that may be why aspiring recording artists and literary writers are looking for record companies or traditional publishers to discover them—they don’t want to put in the work. The irony of it all is that, even if you do land a recording or publishing contract, you will still have to put in the work to build your brand and build a following. The difference in the end is who earns the larger return—you, if you self-pub or go indie; or, the sponsoring company.

Making Your Way
The same way I find myself “making my way in the world today” (I used to love that show Cheers) as a singer is the same way an author can make their way—and it will take everything you’ve got. There are certain positions I need to fill (or have filled) in order to have my music reach the ears of my audience. These are the same people a writer would need to employ in order to have their book reach their intended audience. I think the only drawback to actually being a “self-published” author is the stigma. But what did it look like for unsigned recording artists a decade or more ago when they sold their music out of their car trunks? Not so hot.

But with new technological advances, digital publishing companies, iBooks and Amazon self-pub options, and the services of professional free agents such as editors, designers, Web masters, publicists, and so on, why do you really need a publishing company? You can be “hot” without them, if you work it.

I’ve figured that as a musician, I actually don’t have to sit around and wait for a record company to discover me. If it’s about the money, I’m obviously not very smart because 1) advances are not given out like candy anymore, 2) if I do get an advance everything I earn (royalties) goes first toward paying back my advance, and 3) the work that I slaved over isn’t even mine—EVER! The recording company maintains the ownership and all the rights to the music I create under contract with them. This is somewhat different in book publishing, depending on how you work your contract. Some allow you to have your rights back after so many years.

What You’ll Need
I mentioned a bit earlier that there are some key people I need in my corner to make a successful run at being an indie artist. I want to share those with you, because if you are a writer you may find that these same people could make your dreams come true faster than waiting on an “accept” letter from your dream publisher—and you may already know them.

Key Players for a Musician*
Heavy Hitters for a Writer
Manager (to represent me and help me navigate the music industry)
Literary agent (to represent you and help you navigate the book market)

Booker (for getting me shows, gigs, appearances)

Booker (for speaking events and signings)
Distributor (getting the music out in the desired channels)

Distributor (help for getting your book in stores)
Web designer (artist web page)
Web designer (author web page)

Web master (online store and other Web necessities)
Web master (online store and other Web necessities)

Graphic artist (logos, CD covers, press kit, posters, etc.)
Graphic artist (book cover design, one sheet design, press kit, brochures, business cards)

Publicist (press releases, media contacts, promotion)
Publicist (press releases, media contacts, promotion)

Photographer
Photographer

Recording producer (CD concept, song selection, booking musicians and studio time, song design and arrangement)

Book editor (developmental editing/outlining)
Recording engineer (to run recording studio sessions, mixing and mastering for flow and consistency of sound levels within and between songs)

Book editor (substantive, content, line editing, proofreading)
TV/film camera crew (music videos, YouTube videos, footage from live shows, interviews, or other appearances)
TV/film camera crew (book trailers, YouTube videos, promo videos, footage from speaking engagements or appearances)

TV/film editor
TV/film editor

Attorney
Attorney

Accountant
Accountant

You will also need to begin to use your network to help you connect with book reviewers and bloggers, conference coordinators for speaking engagements, bookstore owners for signings, radio station managers or BlogTalk radio hosts for interviews, and any other venue or resource that could help push your brand. Should you choose to buck the system and go all “indie writer” on us, you will have to do for yourself (with help) what a publisher would normally do for you. Are you up to the challenge? I’m going for it on my end.

I mentioned earlier that the only drawback to being self-published nowadays is the stigma. Is that true? Or do you think something else is involved? Does a writer really need to be published by a traditional publishing house?

What’s a cool new term we can use to change the negative stigma of self-published?

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*List “Key Players for a Musician” is adapted from Randy Chertkow and Jason Feehan’s The Indie Band Survival Guide (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2008), 21.

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