Your Beliefs Create Your Reality! Part 4

This is a very special unplanned segment.

For those who are not among my handful of followers, I am the author of the book Ms. Creant: The Wrong Doers! pictured above. At the beginning of 2017, I started this new blog series which explores how all of us are, at the very least, influenced by what we believe to be true or in the worst cases, completely handicapped by those beliefs. The message of this new awareness campaign is pretty simple:

We must question our beliefs or we fall victim to them.

This special segment is not about society or humanity as the others are. This one is about me. Unless you have read my book, you probably do not know much about me so I will give you some insights.

In 2007 I was injured in a workplace accident which, according to the various medical experts who evaluated me, has left me with a significant permanent physical impairment. Their collective prognoses did not paint a pretty picture of my future:

  • Daily pain worsening as years pass requiring ongoing ever-increasing prescription drug intake.
  • Limited ADL’s (activities of daily living)—worsening over time.
  • Eventual loss of mobility leading to other associated health problems.

There were more but you get the idea. I was faced at the time with what appeared to be only two choices:

ACCEPT or REJECT.

It appeared I would either have to BELIEVE and submit to THEIR FUTURE for me, or I could deny their findings and fight. I was never one to place any faith in authority figures and throughout much of my life I had always rebelled against them. For years I chose DENIAL and that did not work out so well as I endlessly suffered with re-injuries. These long recovery periods are where I began to write what I thought would be a short memoir to leave to my young nephews who were already repeating the mistakes of my younger days. The more stories I wrote, the more obvious my own repetitive behaviors became to me. I was creeping up to the edge of awareness or an awakening without knowing it. I would then spend a year researching a great many academic disciplines as I sought to unravel the mysteries of human behavior.  When I wrote The End for the first time years later,  I was already AWARE I had always had a third option where my CHOICES were concerned. I could have chosen to LEARN MORE. Since that time, every decision in my life has had three ways it could go:

ACCEPT, REJECT or RESEARCH.

Had I BELIEVED the medical experts, by now I would probably have:

  • become a prescription drug addict.
  • significant organ damage resulting from the continual drug use.
  • liver, kidney and heart problems which would of course be treated with still more prescriptions.
  • an inability to feel when I am at the threshold of overexertion so recurring injuries would have been far more frequent; thereby furthering my level of disability.
  • a brain chemistry so impaired that writing anything remotely cogent would be unlikely.

Fortunately in my youth, I somehow absorbed the importance of possessing the ability to learn; courtesy of the Canadian public education system.

Knowing how to learn is everything!

This brings us back to the present and closer to the special part I promised.

When I began my journey as an author, there were a huge number of things I could have BELIEVED which could have made me quit:

  • “Major publishers will not accept queries from first-time authors without agents.” This turned out to be true so I pitched the smaller ones.
  • “Publishers will not accept queries from non-fiction self-help authors lacking a PHD.” This turned out to be true but I had a problem with the idea that only PHD’s are capable of rational thought or original ideas. It is elitist and it does not explain why people with advanced  degrees have always sought me out when they needed a new perspective—so I pressed on.
  • “Agents will not take on new writers who do not have a substantial writing portfolio and author platform.” This turned out to be true so I began building one.
  • Publicists: “We are looking for a PHD as well, unless you are an entertainer.” I was unsure how those two equated so I moved on.
  • I amassed a large collection of rejection letters from both agents and publishers which led to the idea of self-publishing as an indie-author.
  • “Indie-authors need to build a massive following over a multitude of social media platforms for their book to even be noticed.” This may be true but I only march to the beat of my own drum and I have little desire to be another dancing monkey.
  • “There is no point in sending out press releases if you are an unknown author.” I sent them anyway.
  • “The mainstream media will ignore indie-authors.” There was evidence to support this belief.  Several major book critics and newspapers do not allow submissions of self-published titles. However . . .

Not being quick to BELIEVE has created my new REALITY.

 

THE REAL DEAL COVER REVEAL!

The book is scheduled for release later this month. . . fingers crossed.

I still remember the immense feeling of accomplishment I had the first time I wrote The End almost two years ago. Since then, I have written those same words on two other occasions; both times in the same work. I added Chapter 9, wrote The End and sent my manuscript off to an editor. Her recommendations led to the creation of Chapters 10 & 11 and once again, I wrote The End.

Writing a book is like having a pet or a child–just because you have one does not mean you job is over. In fact it is just the beginning. The journey will test you, possibly break you and will definitely change you. I was as naive as they come as I began to learn the ropes of the publishing game.

I actually thought it was about the work.

A veteran of the publishing game told me, “If War and Peace was written today, Leo Tolstoy would not get a publishing deal.” I rejected this advice only to spend the next year proving his opinion to be correct.

I found out the following:

  • Publishers do not want to read query letters– especially from new previously unpublished authors–so the largest of them sloughed the task of reading off on the Agents.
  • Only authors represented by an Agent can pitch the few remaining large publishing houses.
  •  Agents do not want to read query letters– especially from new previously unpublished authors–because they know it is a tough sell and they like an easy lay.

It is here where you must decide the future of your work that you invested three years of your life into. Shelve it and get on with your life or take the road full of potholes into the world of self-publishing. I did the latter.

I found out the following:

  • FAR TOO MANY alleged “Author Services” companies are owned by or related to the big publishers that would not even give your book a chance.
  • The ones that are not related to the big publishing houses are arguably scammers, there to exploit every naive indie-author who comes along with a dream.
  • They try to charge at least three times the going rates for their services which NEVER GUARANTY ANY SALES or even placement of your book where readers can see them.

It is here where you must decide on the product(s) you wish to produce professionally vs. taking a DIY approach to publishing your work. It is also here where you must decide how you will reach the book buyers of the world.

There is a giant corporate umbrella over the entire book publishing industry. Indie-authors, like raindrops, just bounce right off.

I found out the following:

  • Amazon owns CreateSpace, Kindle Direct Publishing and BookSurge so they CONTROL your work from the time you upload your manuscript to the time they produce your print-on-demand first edition. You will be FORCED to comply with their rules for playing their game in their backyard. This is a corporate monopoly. These rules are not in your best interests but their’s. Amazon invented an ingenious system featuring a ridiculous RETURN POLICY where they produce and ship books only to have them returned and destroyed. They proceed as though Amazon is the only place you need to be, when in reality being an Amazon Indie-Author is the equivalent to being a fart in a hurricane–someone might notice you briefly.
  • Most of the world’s largest chains of brick and mortar book stores learned from Amazon’s success. They have now created their own return policies and DISCOUNT POLICIES, allowing them to have inventory–essentially on consignment–that they can price so low some unwary authors have actually LOST MONEY on each book sold. They make the poor indie-author SOLELY responsible for paying for producing books to sit on their shelves. The unsold inventory at the end of the term of the agreement is returned IN ANY CONDITION to the author so long as the author PAYS THE SHIPPING COSTS.
  • OF COURSE THERE WILL BE UNSOLD BOOKS because you will never make it to the front window or the front table, nor will your cover ever be facing out so customers can see it. This treatment is reserved for best-selling books from the big publishers who practically run these chains because they have been in bed with each other for decades.
  • It is a volume based business. Ingram produces and distributes books for many large publishing houses. Their Lightning division services the small publishers of the world at a higher cost per book, while their Spark division charges still more to indie-authors. This results in lower royalties for the indie-author if they want to keep their retail prices comparable to offerings from the major publishers.

You are required to BUY your way into a carefully guarded marketplace.

The message is clear. The largest companies in the publishing business do not share well with others. They both own and simultaneously dislike the indie-publishing trade. J. K. Rowling taught them a badly needed lesson. You cannot keep a good writer down.

I found out the following:

  • Social media is a quagmire which does not sell many books relative to the TIME INVESTMENT.
  • There are a great many independently operated book stores that will support an indie-release.
  • There are a great many book expos which are not too expensive to have your book showcased in.
  • There are still a great many libraries on the planet.
  • Reviews sell books.

Long ago in one of my earliest blog posts I stated, “I do not wish to be selling books out of the trunk of my car.” I now understand the indie-authors who do.

Much love.

E. A.

Question: Why do books need to be returnable?

Answer: To protect the few remaining major traditional publishers.

ATTENTION INDIE AUTHORS! This one is for you.

 

I am actually entertaining not being listed on Amazon because of their return policy.

I will not support their READ AND RETURN policy.

I will not support their PIRATE AND RETURN policy.

By rebelling against “the man”, it will hurt my sales by REDUCING EXPOSURE to my book in the world’s largest online book retailer.

AM I NUTS?

The jury is still out.

IS IT CAREER SUICIDE?

My career as an author never had much of a chance. I just did not know this when I began the journey. I thought I was getting into the business of writing.

When I finally gave up on finding an agent or publisher for my book, I began my journey into self-publishing which is a misnomer. You cannot successfully self-publish if you wish to be taken seriously. I wrote a serious book which delves into serious subjects—albeit in a non-serious way—that I wanted to be taken seriously. Ms. Creant had to come out in e-book, large print paperback and large print hardcover in order to have any chance of SUCCESS.

I re-labelled myself as an indie-author.

I was “thinking green”, and as such, I have a huge issue with the WASTE of returned books. I chose Print On Demand for environmental reasons, but I now see it for what it is–a way for the publishing industry to print a huge number of books without taking any responsibility for returns. They put this squarely on the poor indie-author.

THE SELF-PUBLISHING & INDIE PUBLISHING GAMES ARE RIGGED!

IT IS DESIGNED TO KEEP YOU FROM COMPETING WITH MAJOR PUBLISHERS IN THE STORES THEY CONTROL.

THE COST OF YOUR POD BOOK IS MORE THAN TWICE THE COST OF THE SAME BOOK TO A HIGH VOLUME MAJOR PUBLISHER.

The low initial pricing of my POD books to my readers has already eliminated any chance of my books being picked up by any mass merchants–GREATLY REDUCING MY CHANCE OF SUCCEEDING. The discount I offer to bookstores is deemed too low. If, on the other hand, I were to raise my retail price to accommodate their huge discount, it would price my books out of the rational book buyer’s price range and into the stratosphere–ENSURING TINY SALES NUMBERS.

Additionally, I would have to accept the retailer’s RETURN POLICY on unsold books; many of which would be dusty and damaged. I WOULD HAVE TO PAY THE SHIPPING COSTS to have the books returned to me, rather than trusting that those books would be “recycled”, which is the word they throw around, but unsold books from large retailers regularly end up in landfills. THEY REFUSE TO DONATE THEM TO SCHOOLS, LIBRARIES OR THE UNDER-PRIVILEGED because it would hurt the sales of the big publishers they are in bed with. Instead, they again put this on the poor indie-author. It is the same reason why food stores do not donate to food-banks. They want YOU to buy the food donations which the food store profits from. They further encourage you to buy and donate food by having a food-bank donation bin in their stores, but I digress. . .

Are e-books the answer?

NO!

  • As an e-book only author, you reduce your number of potential readers by 70%.
  • Your book will not qualify for prestigious literary competitions and awards.
  • Your book will not be reviewed by the most trusted literary critics.

So what is the answer to SUCCESS as an indie-author?

1) GIVE UP THE DREAM OF BEING A WRITER.

2) Set up a business to SELL your books.

3) Be conscious of your time and/or money invested vs. the REVENUES generated from the activity. Social media is the equivalent of a printed flyer delivered in your mail. You can expect only 3% of those followers you reach to buy your book.

4) You must TARGET book sellers, book buyers; reviewers etc. and REACH OUT to them.

5) You must INVEST in putting out a quality product. This requires: Editors, cover designers, interior layout specialists, ISBN management, Copyright management, royalty management, e-book formatting, Point Of Sale site management, social media site management, e-mail services, marketing strategies, merchandising specialists, publicity specialists and perhaps a mailing company. THIS IS WHAT GOES ON INSIDE A LEGITIMATE PUBLISHER.

6) IT WILL BE A FULL-TIME JOB!

I will pay for nine of the thirteen listed which leaves me to wear four hats without even considering the administrative side of any business. I am considering an online store of my own on ebay or Shopify at a minimum cost of $10.00 / month.

My twenty plus years as a business person tells me I have only a 50/50 shot at SUCCESS, and it will have little to do with my capabilities as a writer. My experience also tells me that it will be a long slow climb to a respectable sales level without those major retailers.

It worked for J. K. Rowling. It might happen for me.

Lightning might strike twice.

E. A.

P.S. Hello to my feeling forgotten friends on WordPress.

The book is about 30 days away from its release date so I have been swamped.

Look on the upside, if my book tanks, you will be the first to know as I will post my farewell here.

😀

 

Blog 5.2 Everything I know… so far.

I was SO young and naive just 18 months ago, so rather than a total rewrite, I added present day comments in parentheses.

I NEED A QUALITY PUBLISHER BECAUSE:

THIS INDUSTRY IS ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS. Building relationships takes time. I would rather build a SINGLE SOLID RELATIONSHIP with a publisher, than try to wear at least 7 hats unsuccessfully.

While I could self-publish with a very high royalty, I would ONLY have a book in print and be left to pretend that I am capable of being a DISTRIBUTION CENTER. (I self-published with Tellwell and the distribution is handled by Ingram Spark.)

While I am capable; as a “one man band” SALES ORGANIZATION, initially I would have to sell 200 books a week to live off the proceeds of my book, leaving little or no time for anything else. The idea of selling books out of the trunk of my car is not appealing, nor is what I signed up for. (I am in the process of sketching out an affordable marketing plan which includes some door knocking, but it will take much longer to penetrate the market, doing everything myself.)

I could expand my PLATFORM much faster with a book deal, than on my own. (This is already turning into a full time job, even though the book is 60 days from release as of the date I wrote this.)

I need their PUBLICITY people. While I could develop these relationships on my own, or pay out of my own pocket for such services, it again would be much faster for a company that does this every day. (Yes, sadly I will invest more money still to launching the book properly.)

I need their OVERSEAS CONTACTS. It would take a very long time to develop these on my own. (Ingram will get me listed almost everywhere, but it will take a very long time to reach reviewers and store buyers on my own.)

I need their DISTRIBUTION CHANNELS. It is rare that an “indie” author makes it into the educational market, large bookstore chains, or gets their book into libraries outside of their own backyard. These three revenue streams alone represent literally thousands of outlets and tens of thousands of books purchased. Without that widespread VISIBILITY there can be little hope of widespread success. To make things worse, the big bookstores are mostly interested in VOLUME. They are looking for immediate sell-through, and often want a money back guaranty and/or ask for books on consignment . . . even more out of pocket expense to us. (Also, their shrewd buyers ask for the biggest discounts from indie authors, because they know we are desperate.)

I need their MERCHANDISING experience and their RELATIONSHIPS. A quality publishing representative can place the book in the window, or at the entrance of the store, or in high traffic areas, and have the book “FACED” with multiple copies on the shelf. (About the only time this will happen for an indie author is if they are doing a book signing event, and once the day is over, so to is the special merchandising.)

When a publisher says that your book will not be in print for a year, it is a VERY ACCEPTABLE amount of time CONSIDERING THE WORK INVOLVED. (Revisions, editing, cover design with revisions, interior layout with revisions, multiple e-book formats, ISBN, Amazon listings, Ingram Spark listings, pre-release promotion etc. all take time. In my case, more than six months.)

Question: So what does the publishing world want from me?

Answer: A sure thing!

To have a shot at a BIG publisher you must have an AGENT. I am told that agents will pick up anyone that shows some talent, but more importantly they pitch COMMITMENT TO SALES. Top pro-editors can take a decent story and make it great. That is why the publisher pays them big money. Being with a respected agency means you get pitched in the brass ring; a world with large advances so you can write rather than wear several hats at once.

Question: So how do I get an agent?

Answer: With a high quality product.

I can tell you from first-hand experience that your query letter alone will not get their attention as a previously unpublished author. It might have once upon a time, before the “indie authors” clogged the system. Now a lone query will get you a polite rejection letter as fast as the mail system can work.

I am proud to say I have been rejected by ALL the finest agencies in New York.

I sent out a premature query before I had a handle on the industry, to “shake the tree to see what fell out”. In a word: NOTHING. In that first query, I later found a punctuation mistake, as well as a sentence which could have been better structured. I tend to end sentences with prepositions when I speak, and I also write that way. I DID NOT CONSIDER THE LEVEL OF THE READER.

This ain’t no blog yur riting.

This may be the single most important letter you will ever write, so make it nothing less than perfect, and have other scholarly types CONFIRM THAT IT IS PERFECT BEFORE YOU SEND IT.

I now treat the agents like a publisher that I would pitch directly, as I am an unpublished author without an agent. In other words, I am a nobody so I treat them with a lot more respect.

Without giving away all my secrets, consider sending them some SALES TOOLS. They need to SELL YOU to a publisher; not just your book. Ideally, they should believe in the product they are selling. Agents need to formulate a sales pitch in their mind for a specific buyer, before they will consider representing you. They look at 1500 query letters a year- that is 5 per day. YOU MUST IMPRESS THEM. (It also helps if you can give them an easy sales pitch. “This new author has a MS that is edited, and they have been engaged in pre-release promotion for the last twelve months. They have a large online presence with a great many followers and they are easy to work with.)

When a literary agency does not get back to you quickly, you still have hope.

F. Y. I. A REAL AGENT NEVER ASKS YOU FOR MONEY. They get paid from their percentage of your royalties.

After waiting 30 days start pitching publishers directly.

I may have landed in the “slush pile” as they call it, of several agencies. That is a stack of “made the cut but I have no time” queries that an agent puts aside until they hear the right words from a buyer (the publisher).

In my non-fiction genre, I have 64 targeted potential publishers that I will do business with. Only about 10 of those demand agency representation.

ALL OF THEM ARE ACTIVELY SEEKING BOOKS LIKE MINE.

I did the research and targeted them simply. Who is known for the largest advance; who is known for fair royalty rates both here and abroad; who can get a book out the fastest; who puts out the best product, but most importantly: WHO HAS THE BEST MARKET PENETRATION? In other words, you see their books in any bookstore nationwide. One in particular made my “A” list by mentioning they like “controversial”.

In the beginning it is the publisher that is doing you a favor. However, when your book takes off, it will be seen that it was you who did them a favor, by targeting that publisher. The perception dynamic changes with success, and egotists may once again have to go looking for a publisher. Granted, it will be much easier for them on their second go-round, especially if they had a best-seller in their past.

Everything in my past business dealings tells me to cultivate multiple offers, but an author must be aware of THE GIANT UMBRELLA WHICH COVERS MOST OF THE PUBLISHING INDUSTRY. The big 5, as they were once known. is really more like the big 3 now with merger and acquisition activity, and the mega-publishing companies reach down to many of the smaller publishers. So, if you pitch more than one under the same umbrella you will upset them, because you have wasted someone’s time.

So what does a publisher want besides a sure thing?

They need a long-shot worth betting on.

You must exhibit professionalism. It should be evident everywhere you are; in person, in your presentation materials and online.

As some of you know, I have struggled with the learning curve of the non-windows based sites like Facebook, and have complained openly about my misadventures. Facebook now does what I want and I PERFORM PAGE MAINTENANCE WEEKLY. Tweets and Blogs keep my status updated, so in theory I could just walk away from it. If I did that, my feed would become cluttered with new people who I became friends with, as well as my more ridiculous tweets that also add to the clutter. I edit my timeline to get rid of the crap, because you never know when someone in the publishing industry is stalking your page.

You must ask yourself, What would a publisher or agent think if they visited my page?

My latest adventure was with the AiA (Association of Independent Authors) site. I joined for free and created a rudimentary site leaving an apologetic “under construction” post stating that I would be working on it. The other day I got back to it and made it fairly professional. I spent a great deal of time reviewing 10 of their 26 pages of members in my quest for friends, only to find that about half of the members have next to nothing on their page. They obviously joined so they could put it on their resume, with no intention of developing the site. THIS IS NOT PROFESSIONAL. It shows an agent or publisher that YOU ARE SOMEONE WHO DOES NOT FOLLOW THROUGH.

THE PITCH:

I begin with a polished Query Letter addressed to a specific individual where possible. This serves as a cover letter to a far more comprehensive package which includes:

  • An Overview
  • A Competitive Title Analysis
  • A Chapter Outline
  • My Platform
  • An Author Background Information page

Being a successful author may be more about the words we write AFTER the book is done.

In my case this becomes a stapled booklet. If your query does not hook them initially, their curiosity will have them at least skimming the contents of the booklet, and they will be less likely to just trash it. They get thousands of queries a year.

I INVEST $3.00 to $5.00 in postage + ink, paper, envelopes, and the time to prepare all of these materials TO SHOW MY COMMITMENT to this endeavor, and SEPARATE MYSELF FROM THE COMPETITION. I have received positive feedback for my presentation materials over the years, so why not.

If the whole “book thing” tanks, I only blew about $300.00 to find out that I cannot crack the top 10% of publishers, and ONLY THEN will I entertain self-publishing. To me, self-publishing still sounds like the vanity presses of old. It allows you put a book on the mantle for your friends to marvel at, while it forever reminds you how you wasted years of your life trying to be an author. (Oh, this may be a self-fulfilling prophesy, were it not for the fact that I have always planned to move on to other things, once this book is launched.)

You want to make the job of the publisher as easy as possible while keeping their costs as low as possible.

YOUR PLATFORM:

For those readers not familiar, it is publishing industry terminology or jargon that has many interpretations. It can be thought of as a symbolic raised platform for you, the speaker, giving talks (presumably about your book), or a declared policy (usually associated with a political party).

For an industry of wordsmiths they really blew it on this one. Where there is vagueness there is opportunity. (Ask any lawyer.)

I prefer to think of it more a LAUNCH PLATFORM for a Saturn 5 rocket- the biggest rockets ever launched. Your book is the rocket. You are the astronaut.

Who was the first man to walk on the moon? Almost everyone knows, if you do not get him mixed up with John Glenn.

Who was the third man to walk on the moon?

Pete Conrad is not a household name because he had a less of a platform. His achievement was just as incredible as those of Neil Armstrong but without the same press or notoriety.

This leaves the bulk of us starving writers to try to build our platform in the low-cost or no-cost world of online media. (Our time should be worth $25,000.00 per year, but we will leave this for another post.)

In the advertising world,

“The medium is the message.”

This incredible quote from Marshall McLuhan reminds us that one fifteen second Super Bowl TV spot will outsell an entire year’s worth of related online marketing efforts.

Initially, the celebrity author will launch powerfully due to media hype, but they only have a single stage rocket and rarely, if ever, achieve escape velocity.

A REAL WRITER (like all of us, we hope) has a second stage rocket which will get us into orbit. We have more STAYING POWER and some of the book publishing industry continues to EMBRACE THIS. Year in and year out, our books sell, while the celebrity book becomes a distant memory.

The top three percent of us write so well, they have a third stage to their rocket, which will take them to the moon.

We know this much: a platform includes aspects of a resume and aspects of a marketing plan without actually being either. It should tell a publisher not only how committed you are to making the book a success, and the skills you possess to make that happen. It can also outline your comprehensive marketing strategy. It is here where you could indicate any SPECIAL CONTRIBUTIONS you can make that may SAVE THE PUBLISHER TIME AND MONEY. This makes you interesting.

What should go in your platform description?

Anything and everything you have that shows the publisher HOW POWERFUL YOU ARE and what makes you SPECIAL, DIFFERENT AND UNIQUE.

Where are you in the media? Are you on TV? Are you on the radio? Are you in newspapers? Are you in magazines? Are you lecturing? Are you a professional public speaker? While I can say that I ONCE WAS to the last four; currently I am not, so I wield little power these days.

Any publisher will be happy to publish a book from a top TV star- especially the ones that misbehave publicly. The sad truth is that much of the book publishing industry has climbed aboard the tabloid journalism train, selling sensationalism. It is the fastest and easiest path to unit sales. They have forgotten that the “bad boy” actor was made famous by the creators and writers of his popular TV series. He was FED HIS LINES and merely performed someone else’s words.

How are you SEEN ABOVE THE CROWD? What makes you special, different and unique in terms of VISIBILITY? How are you HEARD ABOVE THE CROWD? How loud is your voice? Are you AUDIBLE? What is the SIZE OF YOUR CROWD?

While PUBLICITY is very important these days, we have other things about ourselves TO SELL a publisher on. You must ask and answer the following question for yourself.

What can I do?

In my case I have decently edited the work. I can produce a basic index and reference for them and have created cover art. Additionally, if they are willing to coach me, I could reproduce the entire text in any format and size, inserting page numbers for a complete interior; again saving them work. They would not need to invest in any online marketing of the book, as I can manage that part for them.

Cover, editing, page layout, Table of Contents, Preface, Forward, Afterword, About the Author, Reference Listing, Index (non-fiction) all take work off of their plate.

Show everyone in the industry that you are WILLING TO WORK FOR THIS.

Pitch the best things you bring to the table while subtly downplaying your weak areas. I pitch a quality product, knowledge, experience, professionalism, a cooperative nature, and the idea that DOING BUSINESS WITH ME, MIGHT JUST BE FUN. I am offering the publishers SIX POSITIVES to offset my one negative of being new to online PUBLICITY.

Publishing stats are often used by the “self-publishing” company’s salespeople to strike FEAR and DOUBT in your hearts and minds, in order to create an opportunity for them to SAVE YOU from the INSURMOUNTABLE world of publishing. Statistics can be spun in a positive or negative way, depending on whether you see an impossible hill to climb, or an opportunity for an adventure.

I suspect, as with ALL things in business, that those who DO THE WORK get noticed, and those whose work is above average advance. Why should the publishing industry be any different from any other industry out there?

Is the cup half full or half empty? These statistics will test your resolve.

130 million books are now in print. Can you be noticed?

About 275,000 new titles are published each year. Can you be one of them?

Approximately 50,000 of those are fiction.

About 50% of those fiction books fail to give the author a living, but it also means that 50% DO MAKE A LIVING. Do you BELIEVE that your book is in the top 25,000?

90% of new authors fail to find an agent by sending a query letter alone. That means 10% PULL IT OFF. Can you be in the top 10%?

If you have it all together with a unique product you are really only competing with the top 10% of authors looking to get a book into print this year, but you are playing in the big leagues.

If I did not BELIEVE that my book deserves a spot in that top 10%, I would not be doing all this. Fortunately my genre is fairly small, with some really uninteresting writers. I would hate to be a fiction writer up against Ray Bradbury.

If I have it all wrong, you will be able to say “I told you so.” until the fall of 2017 when I may pull the plug on all of it.

“Fortune favors the bold!”

I encourage “indie authors” to step up their game, and not take the easy “self-publishing” route. I have twenty years in business, communications, and marketing under my belt, but I cannot “wear all the hats” on my own, that a publishing house does, and still succeed. Self-publishing is for the most part, for those that wish to book up on the mantle for visitors to be impressed by. It is an EGO DRIVEN exercise a not a BUSINESS DRIVEN endeavor. You may impress your friends by handing them your “self-published” book, but getting noticed in the global market will be left TO YOU ALONE, or people that you must pay handsomely as only a VERY FEW of us have a clue how to crack the global egg.

I want to write books. I want to talk about my books. I do not wish to be a publisher because I know how difficult that business is. I also know I would take years to accomplish what they do in one. MOMENTUM would be lost. I would be endlessly responding to one shipping crisis or another, without being able to FOCUS on promoting the book.

I DO NOT BELIEVE that the ENTIRE book publishing industry is looking for “an easy lay” as the self-publishing companies would have us believe.

In fact, I am betting the other way.

(Well, boy was I wrong!)

My book:

Ms. Creant: The Wrong Doers!

Life With Women: The Long-Awaited Instruction Manual.

… talks of relationships, health, life, biology, philosophy, sociology, theology- even physics as well as the idea that NOT EVERYONE IS ON THE SAME PAGE.

This is the end of serious topics for at least three weeks.

Find a reason to laugh today.

E. A.

Blog 5.1 Everything I know… so far.

What do books, music, TV and films have in common?

Someone has to gamble on them.

The publishing industry as a whole gets kicked around by “indie authors” an awful lot these days- in some cases, rightly so. A “good read” should always get published, or at least be picked up for distribution. As an industry, we owe that to the book-buying public. There are just too many “B-grade” books on the shelves these days from “one hit wonder” authors who received a multi-book deal.

No industry survives without paying attention to the buying public.

Some publishers will make the case they just could not afford all the staff necessary to do all the query reading. They are right, but there is a free resource for the feedback they need- their retailers. They often overlook these “recommends” in favor of continuing to back a “one hit wonder” who is now on book four; ever clinging to the success of a “debut album” in the hope that more hits will follow, just as with the music industry.

QUESTION: Why do both the publishing industry and the music industry do this?

ANSWER: R. O. I. (Return on Investment)

Both industries sink large sums of money into what boils down to a bet on a horse. They pay signing bonuses (advances), production costs, promotion costs, and distribution costs UP FRONT in the hope that they have backed a LONG TERM WINNER like Elvis or The Beatles or The Rolling Stones. They typically put out a VERY HIGH QUALITY PRODUCT. Even with these huge names, only one remains today. Yes, there are many other names just under those, but they often break even or just pay bills and are more quickly forgotten.

The two industries employ teams of expensive specialized people in order to accomplish this lofty goal. Both industries take a gamble, a leap of faith or outright RISK to produce the next “BIG thing”, just as with the film industry. Yes; let us drag in the film industry too.

The problem with a debut book, album or film is the talent’s first work is a “best of” product from the author, musical act or director. These people worked years or perhaps their entire lives on the refinement of their this initial SINGULAR PRODUCT.

Mark Twain, The Rolling Stones and Steven Speilberg are ANOMALIES and not the norm- they do not even come every generation, but THE GAMBLER NEEDS TO BELIEVE IN HIS HORSE.

Digital technology has hurt two of the three industries.

Film has not suffered because the movie going audience has high expectations for their audio-visual experience. Digital special effects have enhanced the film experience, but are far too expensive for the “indie film producer” to entertain. Independent films are celebrated because of their innovative low-cost solutions, while putting out a noteworthy product. TV screen writers take note. You must pitch economy and value of the production- not just a story.

The music industry has suffered tremendous losses. Everyone knows about illegal downloading of music so I will not bother delving into it here. The album market is in its death throes. The single song download means the record company only receives 10% of the revenues they once did, and they now have only 10% of what they are accustomed to keeping in the bank. Sure there are some artists who can get as many as three singles from ten songs but they are rare. The record companies just do not spend money like they once did.

They are in SURVIVAL MODE.

They have battened down the hatches to ride out the storm by cutting back everywhere. There are few new signings, few sponsored tours, layoffs, and restructuring throughout every aspect of the once rich industry. The “indie music scene” has an abundance of talented players and performers, but continually pumps out badly recorded, badly engineered, badly mixed, and badly mastered products, and they wonder why they cannot sell it beyond their core fans. Additionally, the sheer volume of indie artists producing crap on “home studio” gear, do nothing but create “noise” which masks the true talent that is out there.

I could almost copy and paste the above paragraph and just substitute out a few words here and there, but I will earn my pay.

Authors are not rock or pop stars. They never have been. Their earnings are rarely even close. J. K. Rowling might be the only exception these days, and if we take away her movie deals, even she would not be close. We sell books, e-books and audio books. J. K. may get an appearance fee here and there, but nothing compared to a top music act on tour.

In essence we have ONE REVENUE STREAM. We sell words. We do not perform those words. This is why the publishing industry has never been as rich as the music industry. More people in North America buy music than buy books, by quite a large margin. The book publishing industry is MUCH SMALLER than the music industry, and it is suffering too.

How do they hedge their bets these days?

In music, the record companies have been backing proven horses for decades. Deep Purple’s Machine Head album featuring the song Smoke on the Water was not a debut album for the band, but just their North American debut. Additionally, I believe that Metallica sold something like 40,000 albums off the back of their truck, before they signed with a record company.

These were “sure things” to invest in.

The book publishers hedge their bets by narrowing their focus to textbooks and children’s books, as that is the core of their business. In other words, the least risky and most profitable. They publish fiction from well-known authors and non-fiction from celebrities and doctors- whether they can write or not. Ghost writers are often employed.

The prevailing attitude is one of “Why gamble when we can invest.”

They are playing it safe.

The MEGA-PUBLISHERS have streamlined their operations and craftily removed all the query reading by having an AGENTS ONLY SUBMISSIONS policy putting the job of screening out all the crap squarely on the literary agents; and crap there is. The big name players reduce their risk further by LIMITING NEW UNPUBLISHED AUTHORS TO 10% of their yearly offering to the book-buying market.

I have recently seen a plethora of $1.00 or even FREE e-books primarily in the fiction genre. They had bad covers; bad interiors, bad editing, and some even featured bad writing. They had next to no publicity, no reviews, no press, and the “indie author” wonders why there have not been any sales. It is very sad these authors have become so desperate to get noticed that they will give away their work, but the cause is “indie publishing” where ALL THE RISK AND ALL THE COSTS ARE INCURRED BY THE AUTHOR.

The major publishing houses own some of these so-called “indie” publishing houses, so do not think you are a true “indie author” until you know everyone who is sharing your money. There is an opportunity to be “discovered” with one of these affiliated “indie publishers” if the editor loves your book. It could get “kicked upstairs” so to speak, and you may have to go scrambling for an agent to deal with a publishing offer. This is rare.

I can create a respectable e-book these days without the need of an editor, publisher, cover designer, social media team, sales team, warehouse, merchandiser, promotions department or publicist. I can send a PDF out for conversion to Kindle and place that on a server and start selling books next week for $9.95 and I will make about $5.00 a book.

Sounds great but it is doubtful that anyone will ever find it.

At a book a day, I would expect an average yearly income of $1825.00. I cannot retire on this.

Question: So how do we sell more books?

Answer: PROMOTION.

This does not mean giving your product away for $1.00 or even for free. It means you must create interest in YOURSELF as a writer, in order for people to become interested in your book.

You must BUILD RELATIONSHIPS with magazine and news editors, publishers, the media, bloggers, tweeters, people on social media site,s and people on relevant association sites. You must have reviews and be EASILY FOUND on the web through SEO (Search Engine Optimization) categorization and tagging techniques. You must appear as though you are capable of being put in a chair across from Oprah without embarrassing either yourself or the publisher. The publishing industry refers to all these self-promotion activities as being part of your PLATFORM.

Question: Can E. A. Barker instruct you as to exactly how to do all of this?

Answer: ABSOLUTELY NOT! (Some of it maybe.)

At the beginning of this blog, I said I would tell you everything I know. I do not know everything yet, but I LEARN about each area every day by WORKING AT IT. After 30 days of massive frustration with Facebook, I finally conquered it. I was able to take what I learned to WordPress, and in less than a week I had it doing what I wanted. I took those combined lessons to the AiA site, and had a nice page in less than a day.

The more KNOWLEDGEABLE you become- the better and faster you become. Your skills are honed and you work like a well oiled machine.

YOU ARE PAYING YOUR DUES!

Hype aside, here is where I really am after 18 MONTHS OF EFFORT and usually WORKING 7 DAYS A WEEK on it:

√ Copyright

√ ISBN

√ Index

√ Reference

√ Alpha readers: Very positive feedback so far. (Surprisingly)

√ Pitching Publishers directly: Only one request for chapters from a sketchy publisher.

√ Pitching Agents: 7 still out there who have not said no.

Website: URL only so far. No time or money for this at present.

Amazon store: after the website, promo goods and book is in print.

2 rounds of revisions remain with the publisher for the interior.

Promotional products for sale: not until site is up.

√Daily Tweets: but have yet to get a handle on building followers.

√Weekly Blogs: but have yet to get a handle on building followers.

√Sneak Peek of book on-line

Monthly e-mail blasts: This will soon be a reality.

YouTube book trailer: Time and money again. I refuse to put up phone-made crap.

Facebook Author page: Is new and growing steadily with some great people.

√AIA Association of Independent Authors: A minor presence there.

IndieWriteNet.com: Not yet.

FromTheAuthors.wordpress.com: Not yet.

√ The Coalition for Independent Authors

Canada Council for the Arts: Not yet.

Grants and Contests: Not yet.

12 / 25 or almost halfway to where I want to be, with WHAT I KNOW currently. Unfortunately, with each new exploration comes more stuff on your “to investigate” list, which in turn creates a larger “to do” list.

Blogus-Interruptus:

To be continued next week.

My book:

Ms. Creant: The Wrong Doers!

Life With Women: The Long-Awaited Instruction Manual.

… talks of relationships, health, life, biology, philosophy, sociology, theology- even physics, as well as the idea that CHALLENGES MUST BE MET HEAD ON.

Hug someone who needs it.

See you next week.

E. A.

Blog 4: Signs of spring- an intoxicated tirade.

I just had a large two-fingered scotch on the deck today. The temperature was fifteen degrees Celsius or almost sixty degrees Fahrenheit at lake level with a bit of wind.

Thirty-eight words in and I have used spell-check twice and a dictionary once. This cannot bode well for the rest. Undoubtedly, my first attempt at impaired blogging will be a challenge so we will see how it goes from here.

I remember many years ago making recordings in my recording studio while the band was impaired. We thought we had “rocked out”, but the taped evidence reviewed the following day proved otherwise.

I can hear kids in a playground not far away. I just saw my first chipmunk. There are song birds again. I just came back from a long walk, and am rewarding myself for something not yet apparent or accomplished.

My day was mixed with both failure and success; having lost an important paying gig, but having very few issues with my ever expanding network of social media addicts.

It was a null day.

My twelve year old liquid friend and I sat out there for some time… mostly listening. Kids and birds aside, I noticed an ever-present high pitched whine or ringing in my head. I have not been near anything loud for some time, so I am not sure of its source or cause. It could be the universe down-loading these ideas into my head.

There is a damnable kid on a dirt bike interfering with the sanctity of my happy hour.

I think I will pour another.

The air is heavy with ozone. It is a Thursday afternoon. I do not typically touch “the stuff” until Friday evenings, so what is the deal?

I have had two verifiable concussions in my life to date; perhaps that explains the ringing. Perhaps it is a brain tumor, or perhaps it is just the result of an elevated heart rate from the exercise mixed with alcohol. I really do not care.

My back pain which has been nagging at me all week has magically disappeared, temporarily at least.

A friend just dropped by on his ATV to swap a few stories about vehicles, their manufacturers, emissions, the government and run-ins with the law. It was a nice diversion.

I just processed a thought: just 200 more words and I have a blog post.

Do I have some unspoken responsibility to put out a minimum of 500 words per week to a group of people who do not really know me, in order to garner some form of favor with some publisher that has yet to make their presence known?

I am having trouble spelling words or at the very least- typing them.

If TV and movie stars can get into hot water by Tweeting when they are impaired, then why can we not allow a relatively unknown author to write a blog in the same condition?

Who is he hurting?

An appropriate answer would be: himself, his reputation, his professional credibility, and the impeccable reputations of all “Indie Authors” around the world.

I do not think so.

We writers, as a very large group, do not get noticed because WE ARE ALL TRYING SO DESPERATELY TO CONFORM to some theoretical ideal of what a writer should be, in order to gain the interest and APPROVAL of a major publishing house that in all likelihood will never read this crap anyway.

At 575 words, I have done my duty. Now 577- now 579. FYI, it is impossible to publish an accurate word count while continuing to write.

We authors should be celebrating and promoting our individuality.

I assure you that you will get the attention of publishers as a non-conformist. Have a sharp edge. Have a style. Be bad. Be special. Be different. Be unique. Be noticed. Be a ROCK STAR! I have known several throughout my life and I assure you that there was not a single ORDINARY thing about them.

I am sure that this blog will get me on a list of sites that are NOT KID FRIENDLY and some code writing dork will be more than happy to keep this away from the impressionable minds of our youth. So be it.

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS BAD PUBLICITY otherwise there would not be a thousand pictures of nude actresses on the internet that “coincidentally” are “leaked” just prior to their film release.

Hemingway, Joyce, Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Poe, Williams, Chandler did this full time and they still sold books, so I should be forgiven for my minor lapse. Besides it could be worse, I could have followed in the footsteps of writers like: Cocteau who did Opium, King who did Cocaine, Dick who did Speed, Burroughs who did Heroine, Kerouac who did Benzedrine, Stevenson who did Cocaine and Thompson who did Acid.

My book:

Ms. Creant: The Wrong Doers!

Life With Women: The Long-Awaited Instruction Manual.

…talks of relationships, health, life, biology, philosophy, sociology, theology, genetics- even physics as well as HOW ALCOHOL SOMETIMES WORKS AS TRUTH SERUM.

I would like to thank the unofficial sponsor of this blog: George & J. G. Smith Ltd. makers of The Glenlivet and other fine products.

I see an endorsement deal in my future.

See you next week.

E. A.

Blog 3: What is it all about anyway?

After a ridiculous amount of rest I am back in the “writing chair” at 5:45 a.m. on a Monday morning. I was a couch potato yesterday afternoon and throughout the evening watching DVD’s.

Having a smoke out on the deck a few minutes ago, I thought about writing something on the need for global consciousness, but I think I need to be more awake for that.

Drinking my first cup of coffee and writing in a semi-conscious state, I wonder why I am so driven to be putting down still more words. You see, I am about a month ahead on my blogs and tweets so there is no real need for this.

Am I about to be run over by a beer truck? Is this the universe’s way of making that moment more palatable? So when the end comes, I can say that I have left behind some good words for all of mankind. But these are not those words. These are idle ramblings at best, I think. Or are they? Perhaps allowing your semi-conscious mind to spew words all over a page is therapeutic or beneficial in some way. I have no idea.

In actuality, I rarely drink beer anymore. That saying was from my youth. A more appropriate saying today would involve a single malt scotch truck or a fine bourbon truck, but they do not have the same impact and probably do not exist. Speaking of impact, I am almost certain a truck will be involved in my demise.

The universe has bigger things to deal with than one writer of millions, on a tiny planet of billions, in one galaxy of millions, in one universe of an indeterminate number existing in some of at least eleven dimensions.

THERE IS THE REASON!

I feel small. I fight to rise above the crowd and be noticed before I die. I would give my life meaning. Not that my life has been without meaning to this point, as I know that I have had a mostly positive impact on those who have known me; but more like it still is not enough of a legacy.

O.C. D. – O. C. D. – O. C. D! What is the difference between a compulsion and being passionate and driven? There is probably a very fine line between the two where I tend to hover. I have previously admitted that I have a touch of O. C. D. Occasionally, I catch myself counting steps as I walk. I do try to keep a semblance of order in an otherwise chaotic life. There IS a correct arrangement of, and place for things and that is okay.

For me O. C. D. has a different meaning: O. C. D. acronym- Obsessive COMPLETION Disorder.

“Finish one thing before starting another!” are a few of my father’s words that actually stuck. I am a completion addict. My behavior proves it. I reward myself for the completion of milestones with cocktails, cigars, dining out, and massages.

Multi-tasking requires splitting your focus, and therefore produces a lesser quality product. I am surprised that employers encourage this. Getting everything done will not improve the bottom line as much as getting everything done WELL- even if it takes longer. I will argue further, that getting most things done well without completing everything is also better for the bottom line.

Do not create a work environment which encourages your people to strive for mediocrity. Many employees will do this naturally anyway. Any of them who say “It’s all good.” are really saying that it is all fair to averagely mediocre.

I don’t like my breakfast cereal, but I am either too cheap or too lazy to get a better one. I hate waste so I will keep on eating it.

I am on my third cup of coffee, one-hundred and five minutes into this, and I still do not know what I am writing about or why. Do any of you?

I envy writers who have a block and can spend a month staring at page 1. I would use that as an excuse to take a vacation.

My book:

Ms. Creant: The Wrong Doers!

Life with Women: The Long-Awaited Instruction Manual

…talks of relationships, health, life, biology, philosophy, sociology, theology, genetics- even physics as well as our MORTALITY and NEED FOR LEGACY.

I am going for a massage.

See you next week- hopefully with more answers than questions.

E. A.