Gather ’round kids, so cocky Uncle E. A. can tell you a story.

Cocky? Cockier? Cockiest?

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While I don’t live in the United States of America, Canada and most countries in “the West” do share common legal approaches. My OPINIONS should not be considered legal advice, but should make for a good starting point for those of you who have been witness to the latest travesty in indie-authordom. Unless the reprobates currently running the U.S.A. have completely flushed America down the proverbial turlet, then what I am about to share with you will probably still be upheld in their courts.

What is a Trade Mark?

I rarely use Wikipedia as a source, but they did offer a sound definition in this case.

“A trademark, trade mark, or trade-mark is a recognizable sign, design, or expression which identifies products or services of a particular source from those of others, although trademarks used to identify services are usually called service marks. The trademark owner can be an individual, business organization, or any legal entity. A trademark may be located on a package, a label, a voucher, or on the product itself. For the sake of corporate identity, trademarks are often displayed on company buildings.”

IF some poor misinformed soul did want to Trade Mark the word cocky, they are completely within their legal rights to do so. HOWEVER, as no person or corporate entity may hold title of a commonly used word, the Trade Mark office requires that the word in question be presented in an original form, a.k.a. artwork and even a custom font or in an existing font USED WITH WRITTEN PERMISSION.

You can Trade Mark a LOGO containing a word, but not the word itself.

We might as well cover all the bases while we are on this ridiculous topic.

What  is a Patent?

“A government authority or license conferring a right or title for a set period, especially the sole right to exclude others from making, using, or selling an invention.”

So unless the individual in question INVENTED the word, they can’t go down this road.

What is a Copyright?

“The exclusive legal right, given to an originator or an assignee to print, publish, perform, film, or record literary, artistic, or musical material, and to authorize others to do the same.”

Every time a writer PUBLISHES, they are protected by Copyright law. HOWEVER, we live in an age where everyone sues their neighbor over the slightest thing. Thanks for that America. This translates into a shit pile of lawyers making money on every tiny fender-bender or slip-and-fall. Authors would be well advised to actually get Copyright protection in their own country at the very least, as it carries a bit more weight than a mere publishing date.

Can you Copyright a word?

Yes, if it is the title of your work and no one has ever used it before. HOWEVER, this only protects the Copyright holder from having others use the EXACT SAME TITLE. It does not give the Copyright holder EXCLUSIVE rights to the word.

pexels-photo-726478.jpegWhat is a frivolous lawsuit?

They are not called “sharks” for nothing.

“Is the practice of starting or carrying on lawsuits that, due to their lack of legal merit, have little to no chance of being won.

Yes kids, this is probably what is going on here. Some law firm is exploiting this poor author knowing full well the case has no chance.

So why is Amazon allegedly pulling down books with the word cocky in the title or in the key words?

There are any number of possibilities. But first, why am I not worried about using the word Amazon in this piece? It’s simple, they don’t own the word—just the presentation of the word as a Trade Marked corporate logo in context with a certain type of business. The Amazon river was there long before the company, and it will be there long after the company is gone.

  1. Indie authors are not that important to Amazon as they represent only 16% of the company’s total book sales. (See the Publishers Weekly article.)
  2. Lawyers are expensive; even to a corporate giant. There is no upside for Amazon to challenge the alleged letter sent from this author’s law firm. It is easier, and w-a-y cheaper, to just piss off a few inconsequential indie authors than it is to wage a legal battle on their behalf.
  3. A less likely, but plausible reason might be that some middle manager panicked when the legal notice arrived on their desk, causing them to make “an executive decision” without running it up the flagpole first.

Smashwords and Ingram Spark are looking better and better, aren’t they?

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If and when . . .

. . . I get a cease and desist order telling me to take down this blog because it contains the word cocky, I will have my lawyer fire one back telling them what a cocky prick I am, and that I suggested ‘they should all have intercourse with themselves’. Of course what I would actually say to my lawyer in this hypothetical instance would be: Tell them they can all go f*ck themselves.

And here kids is the moral of the story.

A frivolous lawsuit is there to incite an EMOTIONAL RESPONSE. My lawyer is there to START A NEGOTIATION, as is the lawyer of this author. My lawyer will water down my message to make me appear more reasonable so A RESOLUTION CAN BE REACHED.

Both authors pay.

Both law firms get paid.

Amazon was the only one to make a good business decision.

As usual, my mind is questioning the motivations involved here. Is this a PR stunt? Did the-powers-that-be create a new distraction just for indie authors so we won’t pay attention to a US administration just itching for a war with anybody? I guess time will tell. Until then, stay cocky everyone.

 

 

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Of Squirrels and Airplanes

It’s been a long, long, long time since I have had a day like this-literally years since I published a slightly impaired blog titled: An Intoxicated Tirade, or words to that effect. A conscientious blogger would create a link, but I don’t care.

Life as a struggling author is tough, and full of duties and obligations. Today was different though; I fulfilled all those daily tasks by 2:00 p.m. on a sunny and warm Sunday afternoon which allowed me a shopping trip including a visit to the liquor store.

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It should be noted that I mark the return of warm weather with a cocktail we Canadians call a Caesar-made from tomato/clam cocktail, vodka, and spices, including salt, pepper, celery salt, Worchestershire sauce (Did you seriously expect me to spell it right?) and Tobasco sauce. (Ditto.)

I spent TWO magical hours alone with my thoughts (and the booze) in direct sunlight which has always been my drug of choice when I needed to re-energize and refocus. There was a part of me who screamed I should have a book with me or what will the neighbors think? F*ck ’em.

ancient-arched-window-architecture-532902I moved to this neighborhood to be amongst the poor and down-trodden. Granted, houses in this area sell between one and two million dollars, but that does not mean the people here are rich; they just have good credit. As property values have gone from ridiculous to insane while I have been here, it led me to think about the retirees on a fixed income being displaced because they could not keep up with their property taxes as their property’s value exploded, forcing many to take out equity loans just to keep their homes.

After the second drink, I noticed a deep exhalation that I am certain has not been a part of my existence for some time. Some people meditate to accomplish this state-of-being, but I have not been making the time for any spiritual journeys of this nature lately. I am just too damn busy.

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So, about the squirrels . . . Ever notice the squirrel who is busting his (or her) ass (Who can tell?); digging up chestnuts and running across a busy street to bring home the bacon? He/she is unlike the other squirrels who have trained humans to feed them, and who unknowingly have become reliant on their trainees. I respect the hustler’s choice. I hope he/she doesn’t get squished by one of the vehicles travelling much too fast in our school zone.

It occurred to me upon sipping my third drink, I could really use more days like this. This prompted a revised want ad stolen from my book.

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WANTED: A good woman.

  • This old dog is tired and in need of a porch to sleep on.
  • Please send photo of your porch.
  • Applicants with a wrap-around-porch will automatically advance to the next round.
  • A porch swing will score bonus points.
  • If you have both a wrap-around-porch and a boat, you are gold. Please send photo of the boat as well.
  • If your porch overlooks a unicorn ranch, it is important you include this information.

Dinner Update: One part is burnt, and one part is still frozen. Balance is key.

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On to the airplanes-you can’t help but notice them while you are positioned to be face-first into the setting sun in the West, which coincidentally, is also where our airports are, relative to where I live. There are fast-movers, a.k.a. military stuff, at serious altitudes leaving twin contrails. Those are our F-18s. I did however see a fast-mover with a single contrail; I hope we didn’t buy one of those piece of sh*t single engine F-35s.

FYI: The texture of my chicken patties can be best equated with cutting cardboard with your standard cutlery. And again, I don’t care. Two hours of direct sunlight and four cocktails will do that to a person.

My man-bun-daddy neighbor with way too many health issues for his age and I just talked about using some of our more useless neighbors as food when the apocalypse comes. I suggested a barbecue sauce.

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What are the passers-by thinking as they acknowledge my smile, nod, or wave as I sit in my lawn chair basking in the sun? Are they jealous of my leisure time inactivity, or do they think I am hurting property values in the neighborhood? At the moment, I can confidently state I don’t give a flying f*ck about what others think.

One neighbor who regularly parks her car in front of my house chatted about her court day with our street’s bandit parking cop, and how she was kayaking on a river today. She does lead an interesting life.

autumn-beautiful-blur-658945I chatted briefly with my hot neighbor about how confusing this time of year was for her when it came to choosing what to wear. She was in sandals and a sweater coat. I suggested she remove the coat.

I saw some kids playing road hockey while armed with squirt guns. I guess I didn’t get that memo.

Birds chirping; the sounds of motorcycles and children at play; and the guy with saws. Dude, give it a f*cking rest already.

I thought up a killer book idea, but I’ve thought that before . . .

Much can happen in two hours if you go outside to figuratively stop and smell the flowers.

I admit I have been neglecting this blog, but sh*t happens. My Ms. Creant site blog has kept me busy with a ten-ish part series on the book publishing game. If you are a soon-to-be-published author not picked up by the big 5, you would be well-advised to tune in.

It’s now 10:30 p.m. and my nightcap is almost gone.

Ever notice how I only use contractions when I’m drinking?

Talk soon.

Manifest Destiny? How is this still a thing?

Man·i·fest Des·ti·ny

noun

the 19th-century doctrine or belief that the expansion of the US throughout the American continents was both justified and inevitable.

Back in the day:

You fought.

You lost.

You got over it!

Well, mostly.

Germany and Japan did, and look at them now. They are shining examples of “team players” who became allies, and as a reward they get to share in the “American dream” just a few generations later.

Conquered peoples need time to adjust to their new reality. This is best done by firstly assisting them in rebuilding; it keeps them busy and takes their mind off what being conquered actually means.

  • Of course, rebuilding does not come cheap so the first order of business is to infuse the conquered country with the necessary cash—enter the international banking cartels. An indebted country is a “team player”.
  • In order to do all this building, they will need a great many automobiles that burn fossil fuels—enter the automakers and oil companies.
  • A conquered populace is likely to be malnourished and in need of medical attention—enter the food, drug, and water purification companies.
  • Next, you will want to indoctrinate them into Western culture a.k.a. The New World Order. This must be done VERY SLOWLY so as not to alert them that it is happening.
  • Of primary importance is letting the conquered people BELIEVE their culture has remained intact. You allow them to keep their religious beliefs; language; a form of government which seems familiar; a carefully controlled perception of freedom and national identity; national sports, and other forms of entertainment which help to keep them distracted when they take some time off to recuperate from their building job.
  • You will want to “stimulate their economy” by investing in building projects, and what better way is there than to build new types of houses of worship, new sporting arenas, and foreign owned places of business—not to mention banks—so many banks. Do not underestimate the need of all these different houses of worship as there is no better way to keep the populace divided than through religious ideologies.
  • Schools are the key to producing the next generation of “team players” and legislation should be drafted which makes attendance in public education mandatory. The last thing we want are unindoctrinated free-thinking individuals.
  • All these building projects acclimates the conquered people to the idea that foreign investment and control means steady employment. Being conquered doesn’t seem so bad when you have some extra money in your pocket.
  • You will want to encourage other forms of escapism as well. The very first imports should be alcohol and drugs because, as everyone knows, addicts are not capable of, nor interested in, civil uprisings.
  • In just three to four generations, everyone who was present during the war will be dead from natural causes. If you wish to expedite this, just keep veterans impoverished by red-tape and over-priced medications, while delaying medical procedures for as long as possible. The sooner they are gone, the sooner a new version of historical events can be introduced without any opposition from first-hand witnesses. Do not worry about the tiny number of aware researchers who came later as they can be branded as conspiracy theorists by academics and media loyal to the system. Eventually, we will have our publishers remove these old “outdated” history books from their catalogs.

This has an eerily familiar ring to it.

Was western civilization conquered economically without a fight and nobody told us?

 

Your Beliefs Create Your Reality. Part 9

Awareness is only for people who can work a problem.

So far in this series, we have explored a number of topics, all of which are influenced by what we CHOOSE to believe or by the beliefs handed down to us, which we ACCEPTED because we TRUSTED the source.

Here is a recap:

  1. Is America as DIVIDED as we are being led to believe?
  2. As parents, are we CONSCIOUS of what beliefs we are instilling in our children?
  3. Are we AWARE?
  4. Two dimensional thinking: There is a third alternative to ACCEPTANCE or REJECTION.
  5. Can what we believe affect our HEALTH?
  6. COPING is directly related to our beliefs. Choose wisely.
  7. One of my very limited number of beliefs: The Internet is bad! Yet here I am on it—the irony.
  8. Are good people disappearing or do we just have to be less JUDGMENTAL?

Can too much knowledge and awareness be detrimental?

YES!

There exists in about 10% of the population, a desire to know the TRUTH of what mankind is; our place in the universe; our destiny etc., which leads me to one of my favorite sayings:

Do not ask a question if you are not prepared to hear the answer!

“The truth will set you free” ONLY works for a very few among us who are capable of coping with the truth of what is. These people have disciplined minds and a broad scope of knowledge which is not found in compartmentalized academic institutions. Academia can still teach us a great deal about how to perform solid research, but once you look at any one discipline, it becomes immediately apparent that doctrine is being adhered to.

Only a BALANCED mind should attempt such a journey.

You will need a fundamental understanding of a great many academic disciplines, if you are to find the answers you seek without being “led down the garden path” by the myriad of intellectual booby-traps which have been carefully placed in EVERY FIELD you will explore.

  •  Philosophy will help you to remain calm and centered as you uncover the disturbing. It is also the best place to learn about morals, ethics and scruples without BIAS.
  • Psychology will help you to control your thoughts, and it lets you see how others have been attempting to do this very thing—and on a vast scale.
  • History has documented all the important human, political, and economic events, but NEVER lose sight of the fact that most history books (and all books in other disciplines as well): were written by the conquerors; were subjected to an academic review process; are part of an ONGOING editorial process within the publishing house with each new edition; and may have been released purely as a propaganda piece to throw the unwary off the scent.
  • Theology—NOT Religious Studies—viewed with the eyes of a historical researcher.
  • Biology and Genetics will show you the inner workings of humans and what drives them.
  • Astrophysics and Particle Physics, if for no other reason than they are getting closer everyday to: “The Theory of Everything”.

You will need all of this, PLUS a solid understanding of yourself, to be able to wade through the obfuscation. There will be days where you close a reference book after days of reading, and say to yourself:

“Well that’s bullshit, if I ever did see it.”

Hint: Don’t waste your time studying Economics because it is all lies—and so far as Political “Science” is concerned . . . you might as well enroll in Theater Arts.

When young impetuous people ask me for the answers, I tell them one of two things:

“YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!”

or:

“Follow the money.”

The second is for the few who I believe could benefit from such knowledge. I have followed the money, and thus far, I have thoroughly researched two hundred years of human history. I assure you, you will not like my TRUTHS.

So, should the majority remain just one of the oblivious huddled masses?

No!!!

Anyone can become more than they are.

There are a great many levels of awareness. The key to a better life is to know some “TRUTHS” which will assist you in making informed choices for you and your loved ones.

Become aware of ONLY what your psyche can handle.

You may have to work on yourself before you can “level up”.

Not everyone can be a Fox Mulder.

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.

 

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.