Just writing a book is sooo last century…

Two big changes in publishing over the first few years of our Glorious Future:

1 – the book is just another format.

2 – we are all marketers now.

Beyond big, vague truths like the pair above, no one really knows what to do next – but there are a lot of opinions, and most of those opinions find their way to the internet.

Here, then, are some relevant links:

Author and futurist Brenda Cooper wonders if e-books are forcing better book design.

Spiegel Online reports about an app to make reading e-books more social. (I thought the point of reading was so I wouldn’t have to talk to you people…)

Writer’s Digest lists 50 Simple Ways to build a Platform in 5 minutes a day. (You can’t do all 50 in five minutes – but they’re all theoretically 5 minute things.)

Mashable presents a big infographic on inbound vs outbound marketing

Finally Breadpig brings us ful circle with 3 Startup Lessons from XKCD and Sunday Morning Breakfast Cereal.

On the subject of webcomics, I’ve started one: sillypenguin.com

 

Self Marketing Links and Notes

The single greatest factor cited by people who buy books is recommendations from a friend (most common) or a reviewer.

You can give out copies of your books to friends on condition that they review it (good or bad) on Amazon. Outside of that, your only possible way to influence friendly recommendations is to write the best book you can.

Getting people (with platforms) to review your book isn’t much easier, especially if you are self-published. Here’s a few sites that might help:

Net Galley: [http://www.netgalley.com/]

“NetGalley delivers secure, digital galleys to professional readers. If you are a reviewer, blogger, journalist, librarian, bookseller, educator, or in the media, you can use NetGalley for FREE to read and request titles before they are published.”

Bill and Steve Harrison’s Reporter Connection

[http://www.reporterconnection.com/join/?11526]

A database of reporters looking for stories and publicists (that’s you – now) looking for reporters.

Maestro Market [https://www.maestromarket.com/]

“Maestro Market is a new way for people to engage with talent and for talent to offer themselves in ways that feel right and are interesting.”

In practice, it works a lot like LinkedIn.

E-book publishing program from the University of Hard Knocks

A few years ago, I taught myself how to write a novel by writing a novel. My purpose was to demonstrate to myself that I could start and finish a long work and secondly, see if I could interest an agent.

After going 0-[embarrassingly large number] in trying to interest an agent, I’m done with that phase. I had a few request the entire manuscript, and then pass for various reasons, none having to do with the quality of the writing. (I’ve had nothing but positive feedback on that aspect). The novel, however, does not fall into a readily marketable category.

The Beanstalk and Beyond   is the story of Jack, as supposedly adapted from his autobiography. Re-written folk-tales of any quality do not pass for high fantasy. A 13 year old protagonist is too young even for middle-grade readers (and obviously too young for YA). Actually, I intended the book for adults – though it is PG enough to pass for middle-grade if it has to.

So I have decided to use this work to teach myself how to self-publish; to make all my rookie mistakes before there’s any real money on the table.

Here’s what I learned in just the preliminary research:

q      Good cover art is as important as a good book.

q      There are 7-12 major distribution channels, each with their own format requirements and royalty structures.

q      If you’re going through a distributor, expect to cough up 30-50% of the sale price.

q      Most novel-length e-books sell for $2.99 (and so will mine)

q      If you’re willing to do your own formatting, you save about $100 per distributor. (This is a must for me – and a deliberate part of the learning curve).

I started with C-net’s primer on How to Self-Publish an E-book, by David Carnoy. [http://reviews.cnet.com/how-to-self-publish-an-e-book]

And start following thriller author Jack Konrath’s Newbie’s Guide to Self Publishing

[http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/]

Finally, the Amazon tutorial page (because you know you’re going to end up there eventually…) [https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/help]

So one more good round of editing, and procuring good cover art are in order before I start grappling with code.

Will update here whenever I move forward.

Curious about the book? The proto-website is here. [http://padegimas.wordpress.com/current-fiction-project/the-beanstalk-and-beyond/]. Consider that a rough draft. When the book is actually out I’ll need something several orders more professional.

Some Good Advice From Direct Experience

Making money from creative writing is not for the weak of stomach or thin of skin.

I recently did a real-live book event for 5 Star trails Flagstaff and Sedona. More on that in my alternate blog: Are We Lost Yet?

Book signings and presentations are one of the few vestiges left from Olden Days. It still wasn’t easy writing for money back then, but it was simpler.

The simple formula of write-submit-get paid is increasingly obsolete.

I am old enough to have worked a bit in olden times, when you had an idea, poured through your recent copy of Writer’s Market to find an appropriate publication, pitched the idea in a query letter, got an assignment, spent a month crafting your 2000 word masterpiece, saw it in print, and got paid about a week’s wages for it. If you landed such stunts often enough, you could make a living just from writing.

Sure, rejection rates were 90%, but ten cents/word was considered low-ball wages. (So you know, most “content writers” nowadays would be thrilled to see 10 cents a word in up-front cash). And there was a viable reprint market. You could sell an article two or three  or ten times.

There’s no reprint market on the internet. Once its up – it stays up. Unless you’re me.

Here’s some good advice from direct experience: write your blog in a word processor, and paste it into the WordPress interface (or whatever).

I have a lead on a gig writing for a basketball blog. I have done this sort of thing before, but it’s been awhile. Meanwhile, every single post I’ve written for any of those sites is off the internet. BUT the ones I drafted in Word are still on my hardrive. So I have that – for whatever that may be worth.

This is what has become of Phoenix Suns News – the site I used to write for.

I dare you to read any of those articles all the way through.

Do people get paid to write that sort of drivel?

Maybe. A bit.

When I started out as a writer, the logistical realities of typewriters and snail-mail and actually doing research in libraries limited the number of folks willing to commit to writing an article.

Then again, magazines made show-biz seem stable by comparison, even in their glory days. For every magazine that has imploded, though, a hundred websites have sprung up to replace it. And a thousand people tap at keyboards to fill those sites for every old-timer that once researched articles via microfilm.

The simple days are gone. The demand remains. People who can write good articles – articles that you will want to read – are still few and far between, and now separated even further by gigs and gigs of drivel and clutter and spam. So what hope s there? Lots.

But you need sturdy guts, thick skin, and good copy.

And now some better advice from people who know what they’re writing about:

Kristine Kathryn Rusch  (whose entire body of work on this subject is worth reading) on Playing to Win

Our recommended regular site to visit Wordcount on Thinking Big.

It can be done, fellow scribes, but not by just any old hack. The first step is realizing the collapse of The Old Ways is nothing but opportunity.

Publishing isn’t dying – it’s just going insane

The New York Times Books section recently cited a Bookstat  survey showing that publishing in general is actually expanding, despite the recession, and the supposed growing illiteracy (or indifference) of the population in general. According to NYT:

BookStats, a comprehensive survey conducted by two major trade groups that was released early Tuesday, revealed that in 2010 publishers generated net revenue of $27.9 billion, a 5.6 percent increase over 2008. Publishers sold 2.57 billion books in all formats in 2010, a 4.1 percent increase since 2008.

They add:

“We’re seeing a resurgence, and we’re seeing it across all markets — trade, academic, professional,” said Tina Jordan, the vice president of the Association of American Publishers. “In each category we’re seeing growth. The printed word is alive and well whether it takes a paper delivery or digital delivery.”

Much has been maall over the internet about the contributions of electronic publishing to this growth. Techland, for one, citing the same survey data, notes a growth of 1247% – yes, that’s right – in e-book sales. They explained:

Revenue on e-books reached $878 million in 2010, with sales hitting 114 million copies in that year, an increase of 1,039% over 2008 sales. Part of that growth comes from customers going from store shopping to online shopping: Online spending rose 55.2% between 2008 and 2010, according to the survey, with sales growing 68.6% in the period of the survey.

This growth is particularly evident in genre and YA fiction, where there are basically no rules anymore. Once upon a time, way back 15 years ago, you wrote your novel, shopped it to agents, who then (if you were luck) shopped it to publishers who then (if you were really lucky) bought it, and it ended up on the shelf of all the major bookstores.
You can still go that way. But recently, man more trails have been blazed up the mountain. They aren’t any easier, but they are different.
Cyndy Aleo, writing for GigaOm, recounts her visit to ComiCon, and what three very different authors, both in content and route t publishing, told her about the future of publishing.
The one theme that came up on virtually every panel was how much things are changing in the industry, but each author seemed to have a unique take on the effect of those changes.
The authors in question are self-published  Morgan Rice, and traditionally published authors Cindy Pon and Tahereh Mafi
The links goes to part I of a 2 part article.

 

 

Tropes and Cliche’s some compendiums

Even though most cliche’s rise from truth and most tropes rise from what has worked before, writers wishing to produce original fiction should avoid them – or at least use them fully informed.

Here are some interent guides to cliche’s and tropes:

From the Statemaster Encyclopedia: List of Stereotypical Characters in Drama

And the grnadmaster, wiki-styled TV Tropes (which also applies to written literature).

Literature Tropes [TV tropes originating from books]

Literary Tropes [Tropes having to do with writing books]

WARNING: TV Tropes can be very addictive. Don’t start in unless you have some time to kill.

Links of Interest

In no particular order:

Those of us who’ve been around long enough to remember actually mailing manuscripts may struggle with the new, ocean of online publishing (which is both wider and more shallow than the one we used to sail).

Michelle V Rafter of Wordcount rounds up some re-training resources.

Mark Coker of e-publisher Smashwords, has a few strong words of warning about the newish scam of private label articles.

The SFWA has reprinted an updated version here.

Micro Niche Finder isn’t the only operation promoting these shady private label rights articles. There are dozens of others. Their insipid content is popular with SEO scammers who use multi-level marketing schemes and affiliate programs to confuse Google’s search results by polluting the web with vapid ebooks, blogs and websites featuring this content.

If you’re a real author, this content makes it more difficult for your readers to find you on Google.

Last, we go back to that relic from last century, the ongoing debate among snobs of literary fiction vs genre fiction, and the hazards of mixing genres in general. Justin Allen, whose work routinely crosses multiple genres (but none of them “literary”, despite his MFA) breaks this and many other factors that control our “zombie feet” in the bookstore down in three parts:

Part 1 at SF Signal

Part 2 at Debuts  & Reviews

Part 3 at Grasping for Wind

[From part 3]

The thing is, if you write between genres you are pressing the buttons of prejudice in not one group, but in many groups, and maybe in all groups! You take the chance that bookstores are going to shelve you in a place where the readers who might have loved your work will be unable to find it (their zombie feet having taken them to some other section of the store). You inflict cover problems on yourself and your publisher, making it difficult to know how exactly to attract the eye of potential buyers (should it have a fantasy cover – metal bikini and all – or a romance cover – shirtless man embracing lady love on beach? It can’t be everything!). Reviewers on all sides may object to the very heart of your project, because they dislike one aspect. Others might make the assumption that it was never meant for them, and so not give it the time of day. You may, to make a long story short, find yourself slipping between fan-bases, and so between the cracks.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.