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.

😀

 

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Blog 21: “Shit to avoid doing on Social Media”.

A concept created by Author Angora Shade.

 

Actors are famous; some with millions of LIKES and with FOLLOWERS numbering in the hundreds of thousands on social media sites. Meanwhile the writers that supplied their lines remain mostly unknown.

That is the world that writers live in.

In an often vain attempt to be noticed, Authors are required to have an online presence that includes (at a minimum) the following:

  • Tweeting daily.
  • Updating their Facebook status frequently.
  • Blogging weekly.
  • Maintaining a website.
  • Being an active participant in many organizations and groups.
  • A book trailer on YouTube.

For most, the commitment to social media is over twenty hours per week of a writer’s time, assuming they did not get drawn in- endless surfing. You see writers are inquisitive by nature. We wish to experience new ideas that make us think. We may later write using this new found inspiration. We also want our words to affect others. There is a certain power that we feel when others are moved by our words. It can be a teachable moment.

THIS IS THE TRAP.

We cannot stop ourselves from commenting on interesting posts and we cannot stop surfing for those posts. If we stop, we might miss something that could have changed a life or gone viral. We are like kids begging to stay out later. Surfing social media can become addictive. If you are not careful, you will find yourself unwashed, in three day old underwear, still looking for the next opportunity to contribute. Books do not get written or published that way.

I have made many mistakes in my short time immersed in social media that I will now share.

1) DO NOT OPEN YOUR SITE UNTIL YOU KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING. I bombarded my early followers with friend requests over and over again. Bless them for sticking with the newbie.

2) DO NOT ATTEMPT TO ALTER THE THINKING OF OTHERS. I am well known for my anti-substance abuse stance, so in one post I questioned Australia’s idea of legalizing or decriminalizing drugs harder than pot. The group that posted seemed to think that by making these drugs more available it would remove the burden on law enforcement, reduce the backlog in the courts and empty the prisons ultimately saving tax dollars because drug treatments are cheaper. They kind of missed the point that habitual drug users do not wish to be treated. Always one for being philosophical, I suggested that “Mankind makes enough mistakes without being intoxicated.” If it was a jail, I would have been gang raped. Their responses ranged from “Your parents should have used protection.” to “Go f@ck yourself.”

3) DO NOT PRESUME THAT YOUR ON-LINE “FRIENDS” ARE LIKE YOUR REAL-LIFE FRIENDS. I think of writers as well educated thinking people in search of noble things like awareness and understanding. The ones I have associated with in real life have open minds, have journeyed into their inner selves and who freely engage in friendly banter that may include jest. They are witty. They understand and appreciate sarcasm. Recently, an author that I had conversed with several times on-line, posted the results of one of those “Who is (Her Name)?” tests that came back as being perfect in every way imaginable. You are smart, beautiful, sexy, an amazing lover… yada, yada, yada. The photo on her page (if actually her) was of an extraordinarily attractive woman. I was sarcastically questioning this personification of perfection and was almost immediately swarmed by others on the post. I was told that “If I had nothing nice to say, that I should say nothing at all.” I attempted to explain that my comments were a tease but to no avail. The Author told me that “she would be happy to stick her eight inch heels up my ass.” I had run into someone with a “mirror mirror on the wall…” complex who believed her own press. She obviously has some self-esteem issues that manifested in her oversensitivity. Her worshipers- presumably readers, would not allow a non-worshipper to talk to their goddess in that way. None got the joke and that is the moral of the story. The UN-FRIEND button was used on this occasion.

4) DO NOT PLAY DEVIL’S ADVOCATE. Recent world events have polarized many people into “for” and “against” and neither is willing to look at the opposing viewpoint nor are they interested in finding any common ground. It does not seem to matter whether the group is talking politics or religion- there is no give in their stance no matter how inhumane or ridiculous that stance may be. Do not waste your precious time.

5) DO NOT ATTEMPT TO EDUCATE EVEN WHEN IT APPEARS THEY ARE ASKING FOR HELP. Offering up unsolicited advice is never welcomed in the “on-line community”. Despite your “friend” status, you are a stranger and they probably do not know anything about you. When you are asked, you must weigh your words carefully- remembering that people tend to ask for your input to help them be more comfortable with a decision that they have already made. They are looking for peace of mind and not looking for answers that may require them to strike off in a new direction.

6) NEVER ENGAGE IN CONVERSATIONS AFTER MIDNIGHT- ESPECIALLY ON WEEKENDS. People get hammered and go on-line thinking that they are smarter and more communicative when they are in that condition. These are the same people that use liquid bravery to meet others in bars. In either place the results are the same. Incoherence and impaired cognitive function does not make for good conversation. The key to identifying them is by their tangents. I say “The dog is red.” and they come back with “You don’t like dogs that read?” Do yourself a favour and log off right there.

7) DO NOT ENCOURAGE ON-LINE CRUSHES. You do not know if this person is real or an axe murderer serving a life sentence. All you have is a profile that they wrote.

8) DO NOT BELIEVE ANY POST ON THE INTERNET. So far I have seen a city in the clouds, a massive underground ancient city, more blurry UFO’s and apparently there are four different species of aliens that are running everything. Research everything to establish whether what you read is fact or fiction.

9) REMEMBER WHY YOU ARE THERE. For most of us, it is part of the job. Do not let your addiction get the better of you and do not let some fools take the fun out of it for you.

10) IF YOU NEED TO RANT; DO IT IN YOUR BLOG. Your blog readers probably enjoy your personal views but Facebook, Twitter and YouTube should not be used for rants unless they are comedic.

SOCIAL MEDIA IS ABOUT FLUFF.

If you want to be on-line without any grief, simply do the following:

  • Keep things light.
  • Be encouraging.
  • Tell people what they want to hear.
  • Never get involved in controversial posts.
  • Post pretty pictures.

It is not what good friends do, but that is the point.

When you have put in your twenty plus hours a week on social media, sit back, pour yourself a stiff drink and weep for humanity… but for the sake of all that is holy, do not go back on-line.

 

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 EACH OF US MUST ANALYSE OUR RELATIONSHIPS.

 

Go make some friends… ideally in the real world.

E. A.

 

 

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 1: Where did it go?

My first blog: where did it go?

Anti-social media bit me again.

Let us first make it clear that I am no dummy, having successfully worked with over 200 different software programs in my life to date. Most were INTUITIVE after only the most minor tutorial, and I was working comfortably after about an hour at most.

After putting some 40 hours in on the creation of a Facebook Author Page, which I am told is required by the Gods of Publishing, I accomplished the following:

I inadvertently launched 3 pages that had different friends in each.

I sent out friend requests to people multiple times.

I gave up on the attempt to manage the different security levels for public, friends of friends, friends and only me.

Now after scrapping it and starting over, I have accomplished what I WANTED TO ACHIEVE, instead of what some BRAIN DEAD CODE WRITING DORK thought I should have. My Facebook page has pretty pictures, a bit about me, a bit about the book and everyone is a friend. If Facebook had a Facebook page would they get any LIKES? Enough said.

Armed with only the most rudimentary fundamentals learned in my frustrating venture into social media via Facebook, I endeavored to take on the next step to appeasing the Publishing Gods: blogging.

After a bit of research, I decided that WordPress was the correct avenue for my endeavor despite WARNINGS that while powerful, it could be very complex. I was cocky having recently faced-off with Facebook and won. I had an account set up in no time, picked a style and started writing a heart-felt blog about completing my first book.

ALL MY PREVIOUS TRAINING HAS TAUGHT ME TO SAVE; SAVE; SAVE so I created a draft and saved as I went.

I read the bar at the top of the page that SEEMED TO INDICATE that it would only be published when I confirmed it through my e-mail. Once I finished my editing of this 384 word masterpiece, I decided to add a pretty picture as well. It all seemed simple by comparison to my Facebook experience. In fact there was a certain commonality in the tools and icons that should have raised the hairs on the back of my neck, but unfortunately I missed the warning sign.

Here is what I actually accomplished:

My draft is fracking gone!

The picture is there.

I went home to ponder my next move over some Jack Daniel’s and wrote this rant instead of attempting to regurgitate the lovingly crafted lost blog. When I calm down I will attempt to reassemble those thoughts for you.

I do not think that the BDCWD’s get the KISS acronym. For those not familiar with this STANDARD BUSINESS PRINCIPLE, it means “Keep It Simple Stupid”. Quality website developers strive for this daily. They ask questions like:

What is the simplest way of achieving this goal?

            Can we shorten the number of steps?

            What percentage of users will use this function?

            Does this really need to be there?

            Are we valuing the time of visitors to our site?

            Is what we are creating user-friendly and intuitive for the average windows user?

            “Just because you can do a thing… does not mean you should do a thing!”

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 all important need to KEEP A CLEAR HEAD IN ORDER TO MAKE GOOD CHOICES.

The BRAIN DEAD CODE WRITING DORKS that I know ALL smoke pot.

This explains a great deal of what I have encountered in social media sites thus far.

Let’s hope that a week or so from now, Twitter will do better.

E.A.