Monday, February 24, 2014
Many people use the term "self-publishing" to describe any books that an author releases outside the traditional publishing industry. Some people use the terms self-publishing and "independent publishing" interchangeably. I feel there is an important distinction between the two industries and while one isn't better than the other, some writers are more suited to one than the other.
The Characteristics of Self-Publishing
To me, self-publishing is an organic process that grows like a flower or a tree:
- The writer decides to write a book and then explores the experience of releasing it into the world.
- The writing itself is often done by a discovery method or "pantsing" (See Plotting vs. Pantsing).
- The post production process (See The Four Stages of Novel Development) is cobbled together ad hoc. The writer either figures out how to do everything on their own (the “self” in self-publishing) or friends and family are recruited to do this work for little or no cost (See the Gift Every Writer Can Give Their Friends and Family)
- The marketing is limited to narrow social media blasts with little no sustained connection with potential readers.
- Additional books may or may not be produced. If they are, there might not be any consistency between books, or any improvement in the post production or release process.
- If a traditional publisher shows interest, the self-publisher will accept that deal as a chance to focus on writing and outsource the other aspects of publishing.
- A self-publisher is often unincorporated or acts as a sole proprietorship.
- The self-publisher focuses primarily on her role as a writer.
The Alternative of Independent Publishing
By contrast, I see independent publishing as a strategic process that is identical to a business, except for the normally small size:
- The writer decides to write a book and then creates a long term publishing plan (See What is Your Publishing Plan?).
- The writing itself is often done by plotting according to a specific production schedule (See Why Do We Word Count?).
- The post production process (See The Four Stages of Novel Development) is a coordinated team approach. The writer hires professionals for the editing, cover design, formatting, and any other aspect where she doesn't have expertise. (See Just How Much Does It Cost to Release a Book?)
- The marketing is ongoing, seeking to build connections with potential readers and other writers even when there is no book actively being pushed.
- Additional books are essential. The subsequent books will share a consistent look and feel. They will be released according to an established schedule. As each new book is released, the craft and post production process is improved. (See Overnight Success in Ten Books or Less)
- If a traditional publisher shows interest, an independent publisher will reject that deal unless it fits in with the strategic goals.
- An independent publisher is often incorporated as an LLC for tax and payment purposes.
- An independent shifts their focus across four different roles.
The Four Roles of an Independent PublisherAn independent publisher has to be a writer, a corporate manager, a salesman and an experimental social scientist. Each role focuses on a different side of the process and strives to answer a different (but related) question.
- As a writer, the independent needs to deal with idea development, research, writing, and editing. The main question for the writer is 'What books are being written?'
- As a corporate manager, the independent needs to deal with budgets, selecting and monitoring the post production team, beta reading, cover design, release scheduling, revenue collection and performance evaluation of each book. The main question for the manager is 'How can we produce the best books at the lowest cost?'
- As a salesman, independents handle distribution control, sales copy, marketing, reviews and advertising. The main question here is 'How can we sell the maximum number of books at the lowest cost?’
- As an experimental scientist, the independent deals with the constantly shifting playing field of publishing. He needs to research each aspect of the business, develop theories on what will improve all the other aspects of the business, and test those theories in the real world. The main question here is 'Why do some things work and others don't?'
Whether you use the self-publishing or independent publishing model is a matter of taste, time and personal goals. Some writer's need the structure of independent publishing; others don't want to deal with the inherent tension that comes from the changing perspectives of independents. Success is not guaranteed with either method. Ultimately it is our individual writing goals and not our method that will define our writing (See How Do You Define a Successful Writer?)
Monday, February 17, 2014
I'm currently looking for advanced reviewers for my novella, The Art of Seduction from February 18, 2014 to March 10th 2014.
If you're not familiar with the advance review process, don't worry. All that means is that you get an early copy of the book in exchange for an honest review that you post on Amazon or Good Reads. It doesn’t have to be a five star review. An honest assessment of your reaction is better for other readers and the author.
Advanced reviewers for this book will receive a free copy of A Taste of Honey as a thank you for your support.
If you enjoy crime thrillers or spy stories, consider this premise:
The Art of Seduction: A Taste of Honey Book Two
Nikki Sirene is a spy who uses her sexual charms to steal secrets. Her latest target is Manuel Cruz, an Argentine shipping magnate who might be using his company to smuggle weapons into Mexico. Nikki's mission is to get close enough to the womanizer to get access to his shipping records.
Seducing this kind of man is easy for Nikki, but dealing with his paranoid business partner and mysterious wife create complications and problems she couldn't anticipate.
As threats emerge from all sides, will Nikki remain the hunter or will she become the target?
Note: This is episode two of A Taste of Honey. The story began in Book One: Anything for Love and will conclude in Book Three: The Screams of Passion.
If you're interested in being an advanced reviewer for this book, please send an e-mail to email@example.com and I'll give you all the dirty details.
Thanks for playing.
One day you decided you were going to write a book. You came up with a story, changed it, fought with it and after a long struggle you finally reached the words “The End”.
Then you realized it was only the beginning. You edited it over and over again. You got feedback from beta readers. You got a proofreader and a professional editor. You got a cover designer. You wrote promotional copy. You found early reviewers. One day you released your story out into the world in eager anticipation for the world’s reaction.
This essay is about responding to that reaction.
Of course, I’m using “the world” as a dramatic device. In the vast majority of cases only a miniscule segment of the world’s population will have any knowledge or interest in your book, even if you sell a million copies. Out of seven billion people on the planet, only a select few will notice your book. But their reaction can be magnified out of all proportion depending on how you deal with it.
Their Four Responses
People will either love, hate, forget or ignore your story. These responses are based on a variety of factors, only some of which will be in your control. A reader might love your story because it reminds her of some aspect of her own life. She might hate it for the same reason. While you can’t predict how an individual reader or a group of readers will respond to your work, there are a few things you should keep in mind when these responses come.
If people love your story and tell you about it in reviews, emails and social media posts, take the time to thank them for their reaction. Fans are extremely valuable to an independent author (See Champions, Tastemakers and True Fans). Creating a personal connection with each of them is the best way to build a base of support that will buy your next book. It also helps to have another story available for them to read, because once a reader finds an author and characters they love, they will look for more stories. Keep writing.
If people hate your story and tell you about it, you need, as much as possible, to not see the attacks on your story as attacks on you. As writers we are mentally and emotionally connected to our work. It is difficult to see a distinction between ‘this story sucks’ and ‘this writer sucks’. (See Learning to Love the Bad Review) But there is no point in getting into an online war of words with a bad reviewer. You won’t be able to change his mind about your book and you’ll probably alienate other people who see your defensive reaction. More importantly, focusing on a negative review will take energy away from efforts you could be putting into your next book.
If people forget your story, it is likely that they never bothered to react to it one way or another. There isn’t much you can do with this group except write the next story and try to bring them back as a repeat reader. A silent repeat reader, or even a one-time reader, isn’t as good as a vocal fan, but it still worth having them in your corner.
If people ignore your story you might feel lost. You won’t know if there is some technical problem that prevents people from buying it or some problem with your pricing, your cover, your description or some other factor that you can’t think of. You might start to feel isolated, as if the entire effort to put out a story was a complete waste of time. What’s the point of releasing a book if no one is going to read it?
Just remember that selling your work is not always a direct reflection on the quality of your work. People can’t decide a story is bad if they’ve never read it. It is impossible to read it if they ignore it or have never heard of it. You might need to change your sales and marketing strategy. You might need to improve your sales copy and cover design. You might learn lessons that you can apply to your next book. But under no circumstances should you stop writing. A successful writer isn’t just defined by sales (See How Do You Define a Successful Writer?) and the book that is ignored today can find a new audience when your next book comes out.
Your One Response
No matter how the public reacts to your work, you need to keep writing. It does you no good to be controlled by the fleeting moods and attitudes of your readers. You can be aware of them. You can respond to them in a polite and professional manner. You can take them into account in your future marketing plans. But the only way to fail as a writer is to stop writing. Public reaction, positive or negative, can’t stop you unless you give into it.
Monday, February 3, 2014
A Taste of Honey
Book One: Anything for Love
Note: This book is episode one of A Taste of Honey. It originally appeared in the 2013 anthology Smooth Operator. Nikki's story will continue in Book Two: The Art of Seduction which will be available in March of 2014.