Many years ago, I found myself driving to Miami at 95 mph with Hunter Thompson in the passenger seat putting away a bottle of Pinch, 12 iced bottles of Heineken, and a fair amount of Peruvian Marching Powder. I had been told to place guests for this program in locations where they would feel comfortable so I had ordered a 6 man crew to set Hunter up in a bar. Ten minutes before we hit air, I was told by New York that it looked too much like a bar, so we changed everything. As soon as Gonzo had done his live shot, I ordered a limo to take him wherever he wanted to go, carefully cleaned my rental car, and disappeared. Mr. Thompson took the limo to Atlanta at a cost of $500 where someone else, I guess, wasn’t a “gutless weasel” and would restock his supply of nose candy.
The point is that, for 40 years, I worked in network TV news where our mantra was “failure is death.” No matter how strange, expensive, or difficult; there was always a way to get the job done.
When I wrote my first novel, I played the game—wrote perfect letters to agents, waited 2 years for my agent to find a publisher, waited 18 months to be published, wrote the sequel two years ahead of schedule, and created a massive social media marketing machine. Six weeks after my book “Courier” was published, the publisher, Exhibit A, was wiped out in a drive-by acquisition.
On New Years Day 2015, I did a self-evaluation: my name was gone from my agent’s website (which I took as a sign,) the company that now owned my book was planning to mulch the paperbacks, my eBook had simply vanished, two PR companies had provided very little at great expense, social media was less expensive but equally worthless, and I was staring into the abyss of the “self-published author.”
Oh, and I didn’t have a “day job.”
So, I became a publisher.
Learning was a familiar process from my TV days, one I used to describe as “figuring out the dimensions of a room by running around blindfolded and smashing into the walls.” I got a Kindle version of “Courier” up in 3 hours and replaced it with a readable version two days later. I bartered t-shirts for the rights to the cover art from the wonderful Brit who’d done the original. I slugged away at IngramSpark’s format requirements with the help of a friend from high school and had a paperback up in two weeks. I completed and published a fantasy/satire titled “Day of the Dragonking” by April Fools Day (which seemed appropriate,) and rewrote, re-edited and published “Warrior,” the sequel to Courier, on July first.
What I do best is write, so I’m writing as fast as I can: editing a wonderful non-fiction book by a Japanese film cameraman who was the best news shooter in Vietnam and have both a private eye series set in 1930’s Manila and a YA dystopian in the works.
I learned that most of what I knew about marketing was wrong. Advertising seldom works, mechanically plugging books on Twitter, Facebook, and blogs doesn’t work, and radio and online podcasts are fun but that’s about it. What works is getting readers to learn about an author, like the author, and tell their friends about the author so that means book giveaways, honest reviews, and real blogs. The Starred Review that PW gave my second book was fantastic because it not only bolstered my personal sense of worth as a writer but also raised our visibility in the eyes of other reviewers. On the other hand, I still need to learn the equivalent of an entire MBA about distribution and wholesale marketing.
To my surprise, my British PR guru has discovered that Westerns are a consistent seller so we have quite a few of those and are very excited about A. R. Arrington, our new-fangled old-fashioned success story. Along with A.R., we have a group of promising new authors whose work ranges from children’s books to Texas Romance, a global team of freelancers who can do just about anything, and Great Expectations of going into the black by New Year’s Day 2016.
–Don’t spend money you don’t have unless you really have to—like getting a great cover, for instance.
–Hire a bookkeeper. FAST. Fiverr has great people from all over the world
–Listen to readers and don’t mistake your own preferences for the desires of the market.
–Pay your subcontractors quickly and completely—the same goes for your authors’ royalties.
–Realize and remember that publishing right now is like William Goldman’s description of Hollywood,
“Nobody knows nothing.”
Date: April 27, 1966
Place: ABC News bureau on the 6th floor of the Caravelle Hotel in Saigon.
“How do you do, sir? I’d like to introduce myself. My name is Yasutsune Hirashiki—just arrived from Japan.”
Well, my initial greeting went very well. I shouldn’t have been surprised–after all I’d been practicing it for days.
The man with the mustache gave me a smile and a handshake. His name was Jack O’Grady, the bureau chief for ABC News Saigon. He wasn’t all that tall, just a bit taller than an average Japanese.
“Welcome to Vietnam! New York told me you were coming. They said you were a damn good cameraman.”
He went on to tell me that he’d screened the demo reel of film clips that I’d sent to New York weeks ago and that he was struck by the creativeness of my photography.
That sounded good.
“I’m ready to work, sir. When shall I start?” I said.
“Well, this week is very quiet, so why don’t you check with us next week?” He replied.
What? I hadn’t expected that. Did he just say that I didn’t have a job this week but I might have a job next week. But only if it was busy?
I was sure he was mistaken. I had a letter from Jack Bush, the executive in New York who hired camera crews around the world for ABC. He had very clearly said that I should quit my job at a Japanese local TV station and fly to Vietnam where a job was waiting for me.
This is what I’d wanted for years. I quit the news cameraman job where I’d spent the past ten years, packed up everything I owned, and came to Saigon to join ABC News–one of the mighty American News Networks.
Clearly, this O’Grady fellow hadn’t gotten the message.
I hadn’t practiced this speech but I believe my English was very clear. “Mr. O’ Grady, I was hired by New York as Saigon bureau cameraman. According to New York’s instructions, I quit my job at a Japanese TV station, and come here to work.” I said.
Mr. O’Grady patiently listened to my terrible English and said, “Show me the letter.”
I gave it to him. He read it, smiled, and said, “Look at this line.”
He then ran his finger along the line of incomprehensible English words as he carefully read them to me. “It says that you will have a chance if you go to Saigon but there the word ‘hired’ isn’t in here. We will give you a chance. Come back and check next week. If it’s busy and we need a cameraman, we’ll send you on an assignment and you’ll have a chance to show us your work.”
I was in shock. He was right! Being Japanese, I had translated the letter with a dictionary and only paid attention to what I thought was the important parts of the letter.
Quit. Go to Saigon. Have a chance.
Far too many writers build an audience of the WRONG people. As a writer, you craft a work that is meaningful to you, and you wonder how you will connect it to the world. So you begin engaging with people online and off, telling them about your writing.And guess what? Guess who is MOST interested in this journey you are on? Readers? Nope. Oftentimes, it is other writers.So we do what feels validating and welcoming: we join amazing communities such as WriterUnboxed.com. We forge relationships, we grow our platforms with people who want you to succeed as a writer.But therein lies the problem.
In other words: YES, engage with other writers. But don’t stop there.
Every single week, learn more about who your readers may be. Engage with them in tiny ways online. And off. Learn what it is about your writing that cuts to the heart of why your ideal audience readers. Discover what it is about one of your stories or books that jumped out at people.
How do you begin engaging with readers? Just a few ideas:
- Read. Read books similar to yours, if possible. Engage as a fan would. Leave reviews online, recommend books, consider who else is doing the same.
- Understand what other books are like yours, especially those published in the past 5 years. Where are they shelved in bookstores, how are they displayed, what comes up in “People who who bought this also bought…” in Amazon?
- What is the language that other readers used again and again in reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, LibraryThing, and other sites?
- Who are these readers – specifically? See their Goodreads profiles, understand what else they read.
- Talk to readers. On social channels, follow them, comment on their updates, and learn about them. Engage as a fan of similar work, not an author trying to promote your own books.
- Develop a group of beta readers.
- Everywhere you go, ask the person standing next to you: “what do you like to read?” Then ask why.
- Join book clubs, attend events at bookstores and libraries – do anything possible to chat with other readers about why they read. Study the expressions on their face, the cadence of their voice as they talk about reading.
- Talk more about other people’s books than your own.
- Create profiles of your ideal readers. Create lists of where you can find them online and off. Go there. Often.
- Craft messaging that gets readers interested in your writing. Test this again and again, both in person, and in digital channels. Revise constantly.
The book industry data and services provider has launched SelfPublishedAuthor.com, an information, advice and resources portal with information on self-publishing books and ebooks.
In February, Bowker partnered with DCL and Vook to offer its customers who purchased ISBN numbers ebook production and distribution options. In May, Bowker teamed up with book publicity firm Smith Publicity to offer public relations services.
The new site seems to be a culmination of Bowker’s strategy to enter the self-publishing market. SelfPublishedAuthor.com features blog posts with advice for authors as well as a self-publishing checklist, which includes links to Bowker-owned services, like ISBN purchasing, as well as Bowker-affiliated services, like ebook distribution from Vook.
Bowker Launches SelfPublishedAuthor.com
Web resource connects indie publishers with advice and resources tailored to their needs
May 20, 2013 (New Providence, NJ) – ProQuest affiliate Bowker® has launched a new web resource to guide independent authors to success. SelfPublishedAuthor.com offers tools, advice, and resources for navigating the publishing process, serving a burgeoning market of authors who are bypassing the traditional publishing route to take total control of their book projects.
“Bowker has tracked extraordinary growth in the number of self-published works over the past five years,” said Beat Barblan, Bowker director of identifier services. “There are thousands of authors who need access to advice, guidance and resources. SelfPublishedAuthor.com is designed to be their partner, helping them bring their books to market in the most effective way.”
Bowker, the official ISBN agency for the US and its territories, is uniquely suited to work with independent authors. Its MyIdentifiers® website, where publishers can purchase ISBNs, is often the first step in the publishing process, and has grown to include connections to a wide variety of publishing-related services. Now, SelfPublishedAuthor.com complements it with industry advice and perspective, marketing tools, referrals to partners who can help independent publishers and a calendar of events specifically for self-published authors.
“We’re committed to being a comprehensive, practical and valuable resource that helps publishers build connections with the right partners and the right audiences,” said Mr. Barblan.
To learn more visit http://www.selfpublishedauthor.com.
- Partnerships Help Self-Published Authors (goodereader.com)
- Publishers’ online communities to double by 2015 (whattheythink.com)
- Publishing … and Other Forms of Insanity: Despite Gains Made by Digital Books, Paperbacks Remain Most Popular Book Format (getmerewrite.me)
- Why self-publishing is becoming a popular alternative (liquid-state.com)
- Self-Publishing 101 – Bringing Your Baby Into The World-Part 2 (confessionsofaliterarygoddess.wordpress.com)
Every writer on CompletelyNovel has the option to order proof copies of their work at cost price so that they can thoroughly check their book before it goes public. We’re seeing many of our authors do this and it’s something we are really keen to encourage!
If you are self-publishing then proofreading your manuscript is a really challenging task and you’ll kick yourself if you find a mistake after you have told everyone about the book.
No matter how many times you have read through your work it’s amazing how often errors can sneak through to the final stages. The problem is that you are so familiar with the text that you see what you think you have written rather than what you actually wrote. For this reason, at the very least it’s good to ask a few friends to help you proofread.
Don’t forget to carefully proofread the cover, copyright and title pages as well as any indices, tables of contents and dedications. We have noticed that mistakes in these areas happen surprisingly often!
So, short of hiring a professional proofreader, what else can you do to make sure that your book is as close to perfect as you can possibly make it?
Here are 10 tips for proofreading your book:
Put your writing aside for a while. This allows you to see things with fresh eyes that are more likely to spot errors.
Look at your weaknesses. Do you regularly misspell or repeat words? Do you make particular grammar or punctuation errors? If you are aware of these weaknesses you can take extra care to search or spot them.
Try proofreading backwards! To spot typographical errors, read your work from the end to the beginning, either word by word, sentence by sentence or paragraph by paragraph. This disconnects your mind from the content and helps you focus on the text. Particularly useful for checking the cover.
Watch out for those pesky contractions, apostrophes and homonyms.
Run the spell check to catch any obvious errors. However, don’t rely on this alone as it can’t always be completely accurate.
Highlight all punctuation marks so that you can evaluate each one for accuracy.
Proofread a printed version of your work. People read differently on screen and on paper, so print out a copy of your writing, either on paper or into a book using CompletelyNovel.
Get someone else to proofread it. A fresh pair of eyes is a great way to spot errors.
- 5 Tips on How to Maximize Proofreaders Performance and Productivity (innovatonic.com)
- The best way to improve Your own Punctuational along with thesis Proofreading skills (dissertationeditingserv.wordpress.com)
- Copywriting. Editing. Proofreading. (oliviazan.wordpress.com)
Get Carla King’s new e-book on self-publishing!
Self-Publishing Boot Camp Guide for Authors: Step-by-Step to Self-Publishing Success
At every writers conference or self-publishing panel the question that almost always inevitably comes up is: “How much will self-publishing really cost me?”
Because the book publishing industry is one of the last industries to go digital, it’s going through a quick transition. As a result of this shift, authors no longer need to go through the traditional gatekeepers to publish high-quality books and are instead moving toward self-publishing. Launching a book is like launching a startup. Putting together a quality book involves not just writing it, but getting it edited, then formatted, designing a cover, and having a marketing strategy around it.
Below, I break down the costs of how much professional services will cost you for a high-quality book.
(For the purposes of calculation we’ll assume you have a manuscript that is 70,000 words.)
1. Developmental editing
Once you’ve written your book, a developmental editor is important. Many authors think they don’t need an editor. Everyone needs at least some type of editor. Not having an editor is like not QA’ing a software product or not testing a drug before it goes out into the marketplace. An editor will evaluate and critique your manuscript, suggest and provide revisions, and shape it into a smooth, workable piece. They’ll look at the big picture and make sure everything flows and is consistent.
1-5 manuscript pages/hour for a manuscript page that’s 250 words, according to the Editorial Freelancers Association.
$45-65/hour based on the experience of the editor
70,000/250 = 280 pages
280 pages /5 pages per hour = 56 hours
Low end is 56 x $45 = $2,520
High end is = $18,200
- PBS MediaShift Joins the Journalistic Migration Into eBook Publishing (the-digital-reader.com)
- eBooks Might Save Newspapers, News Outlets (goodereader.com)
- E-book publishers must provide flexible access to avoid ‘Media Hell’ (nextlevelofnews.com)
- Children’s Book Publishing In A Nutshell (willterry.blogspot.com)
- Who Do You Need to Read Your Manuscript? (invisibleorder.com)
Diaries, the original social media: How our obsession with documenting (and sharing) our own lives is nothing new » Nieman Journalism Lab
If you’ve ever kept a diary, chances are you probably considered that document private. As in,
MOM I’VE TOLD YOU A MILLION TIMES MY DIARY IS PRIVATE SO DON’T FUCKING READ IT AGAIN PS THANKS FOR CLEANING MY ROOM IT LOOKS NICE
But that wasn’t always the case when it came to personal journals. At least, not according to Lee Humphreys, a communications and media researcher at Cornell.
Humphreys led a conversation this week with Microsoft Research’s Social Media Collective on historicizing social media practices. Humphreys argues that, through journals and diaries, people have been recounting their daily activities and reflecting on them for much longer than Twitter and other social media platforms have been around.
But through her research, Humphreys found that it’s only been in the last hundred years that journalling has come to be considered a private practice. In the late 19th century, she says visiting friends and relatives would gather together and read each others diaries as a way of keeping up to date and sharing their lives. Journals were also kept in early American towns to mark and record important events: weddings, births, deaths and other events of community-wide importance.
“You don’t get a real sense of personal, individual self until the end of the 19th century,” Humphreys told the Cornell Chronicle in 2010, “so it makes perfect sense that diaries or journals prior to that time were much more social in nature.”
I’m still stuck on the question of “Why Blog?” but I guess, if you have the Urge to Blog, you might as well know the quickest way to do it. (aside from mechanized theft, that is. Or is that simply called ‘aggregation’?)
Over the last few days we’ve been tackling the problem of ‘not enough time to blog’ that many bloggers struggle with. I started by sharing 7 tips for busy bloggers on how to find time to blog and then had 14 of my blogging friends share a little about their blogging routines.
When I asked these 14 bloggers about their routines I also asked if they had any tips for other busy bloggers. I’m glad I did because collectively they give some great insight below.
There are many ways to kick off your promotional blog tour. You can:
Hire a publicist to nab spots on popular blogs.
Hire an established and reputable book blog tour company (NOTE: There are unscrupulous companies that claim to get gigs for their clients on dozens of blogs, many of which lack a meaningful audience or are owned by the companies themselves).
Set up blogging dates yourself.
One of the hardest parts of self-publishing is generating a good cover, either for paper books or digital ones. Places like Createspace and Lulu, among others, already have “cover wizards.”
Yeah, and Createspace is owned by Amazon. Do they think their covers suck?
Contrary to recent reports, I am not the story of self-publishing.
The story of self-publishing is Jan Strnad, a 62-year-old educator hoping to retire in four years. To do so is going to require supplemental income, which he is currently earning from his self-published novels. In 2012, Jan made $11,406.31 from his work. That’s more than double what he made from the same book in the six months it was available from Kensington, a major publisher. He has since released a second work and now makes around $2,000 a month, even though you’ve never heard of him.
Forgive me if I sound a little exasperated.
Hugh Howey wrote a thing at Salon and it’s a very interesting article and you should go read it. It is, in my probably-not-that-humble opinion, a fascinating mix of artistic wisdom and business fantasy where anecdotal evidence once more becomes artisanal data and we are told that because you can meet 100 very successful self-published authors that is now officially the way to go and oh, by the way, it’s totally the future of all publishing ever.
I distrust fortune-tellers, to be honest.
Mostly because it’s made-up horseshit.
SNSFW but quite funny (and sadly, true)
First, you can’t just be a writer. Self-publishing is… gasp, not the same thing as writing. This fellow took his unpublished work, hit the publish button, and then leaned back and waited for the trap-door to open above his head and spill a fluttering rain of sweet, sweet cash on his naked body. Yeah, whoa, buddy, you actually have to commit more work than that.
In the past few weeks I’ve received queries from several writers about my editing services. “How much do you charge to edit a 110,000 word novel?” and “What will it cost to copyedit my nonfiction book. It’s about 300 pages.”
These seem like perfectly reasonable questions, don’t they? The problem for me, as an editor, is that they are too vague. Editing is a very broad term that covers every function from development through line editing to proofreading—soup to nuts in editorial services, so to speak.
When you’re on a budget (and really, who isn’t?), it’s important to plan for your upcoming expenses. Your editorial budget should not be an exception! All writers who publish—traditionally or through self-publishing—are going to have to buy some level of editorial services. When you plan to seek an agent or query publishers directly, you should use at least one professional editor before you submit…
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A very good analysis of a very common dilemma
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Blog tours are all the rage right now for indie and traditionally-published authors. My advice: think it through, and then talk to other people who’ve done them, and think it through again.
I’d heard mixed reports about them, and decided to try one myself. Now I wish I hadn’t wasted my time.