Sometimes as writers, we have to wait on others to progress with our current works in progress. When you are waiting for the copy edits from your traditional publisher, for example, is one instance of this. We play the waiting game when we send in submissions, anticipate our advance reading copies, or expect our edits to come any day. It’s part of the game. What you need to do during this time of inactivity is to either work on your next project or focus on marketing strategies.
As part of my goals for this year as mentioned in an earlier post, I plan to have five releases. Two of these objectives have been met. Silver Serenade came out in a revised ebook edition and Died Blonde made a revised paperback debut. What about the rest?
I’m waiting on my developmental editor for Trimmed to Death, the next Bad Hair Day mystery. I’m waiting on my narrator for the audiobook edition of Body Wave. I’m waiting on my cover artist for the expanded second edition of Writing the Cozy Mystery.
Am I planning a marketing campaign for any of these projects or working on the next creative endeavor in the meantime? Sorry…but no. This break comes at a good time. Our daughter is getting married. My spare moments are taken up with researching bridal shower venues and mother-of-the-bride dresses. This is a big reason why you’re not hearing from me so much on this blog at present. If you like, I can discuss the restaurants we’ve visited and the beautiful dresses I’m seeing, but it’s not writing advice. It is life experience. Depends on which journey you want to read about here.
I’m not totally lazing about, however. I have been preparing three PowerPoint presentations for upcoming events. See my Appearances page if you wish to know where I’ll be speaking. And I’m revising Keeper of the Rings, an earlier science fiction romance. So I am still being productive even if it’s not on the three projects above.
Things are bound to get more intense as the nuptials get closer, so I might have to put off one of my planned releases until later in the year. A book release requires a lot of effort if you mean to send out review copies, write blogs for blog tours, plan launch parties, and more. And all of these three projects will require special attention in that way. So their releases will have to be spaced out accordingly.
What do you work on while you’re in a holding pattern for your current project?
At the Florida Romance Writers Cruise Conference, Penny C. Sansevieri spoke about how to sell more books by optimizing your book description on Amazon. Penny suggests your book should be available in as many formats as possible, including ebook, print book, audio, bundle sets, and spin-off series. You can offer your superfans exclusive content, such as cut chapters, behind-the-scenes details, or sneak peeks at works in progress. Keep telling readers why their reviews are so important. Put a message about reviews right after the story ends and before the rest of the back materials. Offer incentives, such as “The first 50 readers to review the book get a logo tote bag.” Or, say that the price to get into your exclusive reader group is a review. Make sure your website is professional and updated often. Amazon algorithms work on categories, search terms, and reviews. Pay attention to the keywords in your book’s description. These keywords and the book categories are your metadata. Try http://Ubersuggest.org as a keyword tool. Narrow your category to stand out. Better a niche category than a broad one. The lower your Amazon sales rank, the better your sales. Sales ranks vary by category. On your Amazon book page, look at the sales ranks for categories and see which numbers are lower. Don’t look at recent releases.
Find fifteen keyword strings. Look for keywords in reviews. Use these as keyword strings and in your book description. Themes can also be used as keywords. Add the keywords to your website metadata. Where to Use Keywords: Title, Subtitle, Book Description, and at your KDP Dashboard. Write to Amazon Author Central to make changes regarding data on your publisher-uploaded books. Make sure your print and ebook categories match along with the book descriptions. The search rank improves when a print copy is available. It doesn’t matter if this print edition sells or not. Also, it’s better not to upload the print and ebook at the same time. Let there be a short interval between releases. In the Amazon book description, you can use Bold, Italics, and Bullets. Don’t have a big block of information. Keep paragraphs short at two or three sentences maximum. The first sentence should be a headliner to grab attention and can be bolded. Don’t use caps. Spell check your work. Mention the book is part of a series. Include review quotes with proper attribution. Update your book page with awards and review blurbs. Mention special discounts or book promos. Make sure your bio complements your book. It should relate to your writing credentials or the book’s topic. If you have a choice, don’t do your description update in Amazon Author Central because it’s shorter than the one in KDP. Don’t do ebook promos until you have at least 10 reviews. If you do a Kindle giveaway, start with 3 days and not all 5 at once. After your campaign ends, keep the book at half price for at least a day more. Don’t put “bestseller” on your Amazon book title unless you are prepared to verify this claim. The shorter the pre-order period, the better. Lower your book price at launch to garner reviews and to attract impulse buyers. Disclaimer: Any errors are due to my misinterpretation. For more information, visit AMarketingExpert.com CLICK TO TWEET Coming Next: Sleuthfest 2017 Review
Hugh Howey: The Publishing World is Changing. How Can You Keep Up? Novelists, Inc. Conference Day 2, St. Pete Beach Oct. 2014
Hugh Howey began his presentation by showing slides on “A history of storytelling.” The order goes this way:
The first cubicle workers, i.e. monks transcribing by hand
Offset and digital in 1990
Electronic publishing 2007
He recommends reading “The Storytelling Animal.”
Bar codes revolutionized sales in that data could be tracked. This led to massive discounting. In 1995, Amazon went live. In 2014, indie bookstores see a 20% growth in openings since 2007.
Book selling is like the game: scissors, paper, rock. You have the big-box chains, online retailers, and indie bookstores. Amazon beats the chains. Indies beat Amazon on their location, curation, and community. Publisher profits have risen, but digital is subsidizing print. Business costs and author royalties for digital are much less for publishers and their profit margin is up. So digital is saving publishers, and Amazon is saving indie bookstores.
There’s less downtime between reads for readers. They want immediate downloads. The guilt of the TBR pile is gone. Clutter is no longer a dissuasion for buying more books.
Digital includes e-books, audio, and print-on-demand books. “I can’t stress enough how crazy audio is, and that’s part of digital.”
Three variables determine author income: the number of titles sold, the price of the title, and the author royalty rate.
Romance is the bestselling book genre in terms of author earnings. Mysteries and thrillers are next.
Self-published royalties surpass traditionally published royalties. Digital is about 70% of the market. 40% of print sales now are on Amazon, not including print-on-demand.
Publishers are more profitable as the cost of production and distribution has gone to nearly zero. Big bookstores are going under while Indies take more of the market share. Expectation and output paths are converging, such as author platform and professional book production. The number of people making a living at writing has gone up from tenfold to fiftyfold. The chances are slim but it’s doable to make it as a writer.
Publishing is moving to the West Coast. Amazon, Google, and Apple will become prominent publishers along with other tech companies. Indie bookstores will survive. The real threat is the decline in recreational book reading.
Who will survive?
Publishers who pay well and price their books right
Retailers who curate well
Anyone who aids discoverability
Partners who increase distribution
Freelancers who raise quality
Toolmakers who increase quantity
Locales that create an addictive book culture
Note: Any errors in this article are due to my interpretation.
Coming Next: Empowering Authors with Amazon Independent Publishing
We continue with my recap of panels and workshops at SleuthFest. These are my interpretations and notes, and any misstatement is my error. Photos are viewable from my Facebook Page. Like my page, then click on Photos, Albums, and SleuthFest 2014.
Editors Roundtable with Neil S. Nyren, Shannon Jamieson Vazquez, Deni Dietz, Matt Martz and moderated by P.J. Parrish
How have the changes in publishing affected you?
Matt said social media tools can take up a lot of time and become distracting. However, electronic submissions are great. “Queries written like tweets don’t fly.” Be professional in your queries.
Shannon mentioned that e-mail has revolutionized multiple submissions like the Xerox machine did earlier. E-books are growing.
Neil said e-books are a big change in our business. If you plan to save self-publish, please make sure the book is ready. Respect the reader. Hire a professional copy editor to edit your work and a professional artist to design your jackets.
Kristy (aka P.J. Parrish) warned listeners to be careful of typos especially if you get your backlist scanned.
Is the editing process gone, or how has it changed?
Matt said, if an editor has to dig in deep to line edit, then he probably shouldn’t be working with you. An editor works on tone, pacing, developmental issues, and broader strokes.
Shannon said there’s no one way to do it. “I red-line the hell out of a manuscript. We’re working to make the book the best it can be.” She’ll spend at least two weeks on a manuscript. Altogether, a book might take her five to six months for the different stages.
Neil gives the manuscript a complete first read and then sends the author notes on what works and what doesn’t.
Deni said historical mysteries take longer to work on due to the research involved. She works with three associate editors. She advises writers to learn your toolbar and track changes. The days of sticky notes on manuscripts are over. Formatting is very important.
Also, there is a misperception that if it’s wrong, an editor will fix it. That is untrue. Deni will do brief edits as she reads through the work and then sends it back to the writer for corrections. She believes that if someone doesn’t show you what’s wrong, how are you going to learn?
If the writing is dazzling, but the story is not compelling, Neil said that’s called an “MFA” [Master of Fine Arts] manuscript.
Where do most books fall apart?
Shannon says this happens for her between pages 1 and 150. The book gets off to a good start but gets tangled in subplots, or else the story peters out. Or the solution isn’t what she’d expected.
Deni said sometimes this happens in the middle or at the end because the writer is anxious to finish. Or else there’s a Too Stupid To Live moment. But that’s fixable, so don’t despair.
Neil looks to see if the author has control of the book from the very beginning. He says a good agent should know an editor’s particular taste.
You will learn more by writing a book, putting it in a drawer, and starting a new one than by working on that same manuscript for years.
How often do books come out?
Shannon said romances are at the forefront of three month back-to-back book releases but not mysteries. Deni said her house puts out one book a year due to reviewers’ lead time.
Short stories and novellas are making a comeback with e-books, according to Shannon. Nobody is buying short story collections, but they can be used as teasers for book-length novels. Neil pointed out pricing on a short story could be $.99 or free, while a novella can be sold for $2.99.
What about print-only deals?
Matt said it’s not much of a partnership if the author retains e-book rights.
Neil adds, “We’re giving up the potential, so for most people print-only deals won’t be a possibility.”
Deni said Five Star will not take a self-published book.
Shannon said they would consider buying e-book rights from self-published authors, but you would have to take your book down at the online sites where you have it on sale.
I started out my writing journey and went to RWA Nationals after finishing my first novel. I learned my writing sucked. I tried to fix it, but I’ve never sold those earlier books. To me, life is about growing and moving forward. I wrote more and decided that I had enough of waiting a few years with nothing happening. I decided to self-pub, and I chose a faux name writing as Greta Buckle. Victoria, my name, was reserved for traditional publishing. Then I discovered self-publishing wasn’t the only alternative path. Small press was another viable option.
It’s a relief to go small. And I’m glad I chose this route.
I paid someone to edit Mything You. I love the story, but that editing wasn’t nearly as brutal as the Zoastra Affair. I rewrote that novel so many times my head spins. My editor corrected me on so much that my writing will never be the same. The growth and care I received from Soul Mate Publishing is something I’m grateful for experiencing. These were real editors who told me I needed to work on my craft, and I wasn’t paying for their services. If my editor said “rewrite,” I had no choice. I had to think deeper. Change. Say yes.
And I couldn’t ignore it.
Publishing is a business. Amazon is so profiting off indie authors, and Amazon cares more about Amazon than it does me. Play the game and play it well. But let’s not forget there are people out there also looking to make money WHILE publishing a good book that is not Amazon. I’ve learned more from editing than I did in a year of independent publishing. And I can focus on writing, not everything else it takes until the media giant takes 100% of all profits.
Small Publishers can answer the phone, and listen and help. Publishing is a business and it’s not all about you controlling everything. What are you willing to trade? I want my time to write. Don’t jump into one type of publishing because it’s easier than the other. There are pros and cons to everything. With publishers, there is time to write.
The Zoastra Affair, December 2013, Soul Mate Publishing Chaperoning Paris, 2014, Soul Mate Publishing Borrowing the Doctor, 2014, Soul Mate Publishing Mything the Throne, 2014, Double Dragon ebooks. Electing Love, 2014, Soul Mate Publishing
Oh, and special thanks to Nancy Cohen. She’s the newly elected President of Florida Chapter Mystery Writers of America as well as Vice President of Communications for Florida Romance Writers. I just chose to be Vice President of Programs for FRW, and I can’t imagine where she has the time. But besides all that, she’s a good person with a positive attitude. She’s one of the people I’m most thankful for in real life for knowing. She’s amazing.
The Zoastra Affair by Victoria Pinder Published by Soul Mate Publishing
Science Fiction Romance
YouTube Trailer: http://youtu.be/Buah-LGT4tA
A hundred years from now, Earth is a trading partner with alien beings, mostly humanoid. However, going into space brought forth an unknown enemy who attacks Earth at will.
The Zoastra are part of the Earthseekers, an organization originally designed to go into space. Its new mission is to find Earth’s enemies.
Ariel is stuck on a Victorian planet and steals Grace’s body and life to get off the planet. Grace must get her body back before Ariel bonds with Grace’s husband, Peter. Then there is Cross, the man on a mission to find those who killed his family. Ariel is attracted to Cross, but she’s stolen someone’s life.
I’m going to have to steal someone else’s body to get out of here.
“Ariel, are you listening?”
Ariel Transcender stared dumbfounded at the mother superior of her prison, a/k/a Aulnale School for Orphans. “Yes, mistress.”
She had no idea what happened, though she pasted a fake simpering smile of appreciation on her face. Ms. Rochelle walked away.
A few minutes later, Ariel looked out the window again, tuning out Rochelle’s mind numbing lecture on what was proper behavior when near a man. The boarding home on this planet gave the stupidest lectures of the galaxy. Her lips curled into a sneer. Women were not excited to be bound to men.
Could I do this to someone else? Do I have any other choice?
Lenchena, the teenage girl who’d stolen her adult body and taken off on Ariel’s ship, needed to be found. And Ariel refused to listen to the daily drivel about always listening to a man.
About the Author:
Victoria Pinder grew up in Irish Catholic Boston before moving to the Miami sun. She’s worked in engineering, after passing many tests proving how easy Math came to her. Then hating her life at the age of twenty four, she decided to go to law school. Four years later, after passing the bar and practicing very little, she realized that she hates the practice of law. She refused to one day turn 50 and realize she had nothing but her career and hours at a desk. After realizing she needed change, she became a high school teacher. Teaching is rewarding, but writing is a passion.
During all this time, she always wrote stories to entertain herself or calm down. Her parents are practical minded people demanding a job, and Victoria spent too many years living other people’s dreams, but when she sat down to see what skill she had that matched what she enjoyed doing, writing became so obvious. The middle school year book when someone wrote in it that one day she’d be a writer made sense when she turned thirty.
When she woke up to what she wanted, the dream of writing became so obvious. She dreams of writing professionally, where her barista can make her coffee and a walk on the beach can motivate her tales. Contemporary romances are just fun to write. She’s always thinking who’s getting hurt and whose story is next on the list to fall in love. Victoria’s love of writing has kept her centered and focused through her many phases, and she’s motivated to write many stories.
Member of Florida Romance Writers; Contemporary Romance; Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal chapter of RWA; and Savvy Authors.
A new author recently asked me what steps she should take to publish the book she’d just finished writing. My first reaction was to wonder what draft number she’d completed. How much editing had she done? Then, how many independent readers had she found?
It was more than 25 years ago when I wrote my first book. I thought it was really good…my wife thought it was good…at least, that’s what she said…and, yes, we are still married. Then, I joined my first critique group, a small band of seasoned writers who’d been writing and traditionally publishing mysteries for many years. Did they dislike it? No, they hated it. Adverbs, adjectives, too much exposition, not enough action…I thought the list would never end. Undaunted, I went back and rewrote again and again because there were no other options. At one point, I became desperate to better understand their critiques and used three colored highlighters to mark my draft. Blue was for exposition, yellow for dialog, and pink for action. Imagine my surprise when my page turned into a sea of blue with smatterings of yellow and pink. It was time to rewrite—again.
Over the years the need for those highlighters gradually faded, however, my need for solid critiques from tough readers hasn’t lessened. One of the best things writers can do is to join a critique group. But, assuming you’ve already done that, how do you get that completed manuscript read and edited?
Pay for an editor
There are thousands of “editors” out there who will tailor their services to what you’re looking for. A good editor is worth every penny; a bad one, a waste of money. One option for checking out a prospective editor is Preditors and Editors (pred-ed.com). Another option is to just ask other writers, get a name, then call or email the editor and conduct an interview. After all, this is a job and you’re the boss. If the editor tells you that she worked with someone on a particular book, go find a copy and look for an acknowledgement.
If you don’t have the money for a professional editor, or if you want others’ opinions before you start spending money, think about a manuscript swap. The easiest way to find people who would be willing to swap manuscripts is to go where they hang out. Today, that can be as simple as joining a writing organization such as Sisters in Crime or Romance Writers of America. Recognize, however, that a swap is a swap. It means you’ll be doing a lot of editing of other people’s work, which is good because seeing other people’s mistakes makes it easier to spot our own.
Find beta readers
The most difficult challenge of all will be to build a network of people who will read your work and critique it before it goes to publication. This network doesn’t include your mom; she’s going to love what you wrote. It doesn’t include your best friend because only one of two things can happen: you’ll lose a friend or you’ll just get a “nice job” for feedback. I’m not sure there is a best way to find beta readers. It seems to be one part pure luck and one part perseverance. However, I recently discovered a friend who has read both of my books and considers herself an excellent proofreader and critic of crime fiction. Guess what? She’s getting the next manuscript to review before publication and a signed copy of the book afterwards as a thank you for helping me out.
One of my favorite questions lately to ask writers is, how do you want readers to remember you? Do you want to be remembered as a writer who put out lots of mediocre books or a few good ones? I’d rather be in the latter group. In the end, I think the extra time is worth it.
How do you feel about the quality of books being published? Is it going down? Do you have tips about how to get a manuscript reviewed that I haven’t covered here?
About Terry Ambrose
Terry started out skip tracing and collecting money from deadbeats and quickly learned that liars come from all walks of life. He never actually stole a car, but sometimes hired big guys with tow trucks and a penchant for working in the dark when “negotiations” failed.
In Terry’s new release, License to Lie, a criminologist and a con artist learn that with $5 million and their lives on the line, you can never trust a soul…even your own. T. Jefferson Parker, author of The Jaguar and The Border Lords said, “License to Lie is fast and well written, almost sure to satisfy discerning readers of thrillers.”
Learn more about Terry on his website at terryambrose.com or on his Facebook author page at facebook.com/suspense.writer.
Newbie writers often ask, how do you know when to stop revising and send in the work? There’s no easy answer as each of us goes through our own self-editing process. Revisions are never done. Every time you read through your work, more things pop up to fix. So when should you quit? When the story is as good as you can make it for now, and you’ll plotz if you have to go through it one more time. But all is not lost. You’ll get another chance to make corrections and tweak your phrasing during the editing phase.
Finishing your manuscript and doing second or third drafts is only part of the equation. Once your story is finished for good, you need to go back to your synopsis. Why? The story probably branched out in new directions since you began, and you need to update this important marketing tool.
You should also check through the submission guidelines and format your work accordingly. Different publishers prefer different fonts and line spacing. So get it right before you submit anything.
Check your front and back end materials to make sure everything is there. Besides the title page, in the front may go any endorsements you’ve gathered, dedications and acknowledgements, world building details like maps or casts of characters. At the end go your biography, author’s note if any, and any bonus materials like recipes in a culinary cozy. Again, see if your publisher requires anything else.
Once you have accomplished all these tasks, then you are ready to submit. Does the publisher want you to attach any ancillary materials, like cover art sheets or permissions or cover copy blurbs? This may come before or after a sale. Be certain you have these forms filled out.
Then write your cover letter and send the submission.
Here’s a quick checklist:
· Proofread your final draft for timeline consistency, character continuity, repetitions, word choices, spelling.
· Verify any research as necessary.
· Check all loose ends to make sure you’ve solved them by the story’s finale. You may want to review your plotting notes to see if you have left anything out.
· If a series, include a hook for the next story.
· Write a reader discussion guide during your final draft.
· Jot down blog topics for your blog tour.
· Rewrite your synopsis to match the finished story.
· Format your manuscript according to publisher guidelines.
· Prepare requested ancillary materials to attach with your submission.
· Submit your work and cross your fingers.
I am in this phase now which is why I’m not blogging too often, posting on FB, etc. Getting the book done amidst the holiday frenzy is taking my total concentration. I’ve gone through the manuscript, so now I have to format it to the publisher’s guidelines and fill out the required forms. Then I’ll send my baby out into the world.
Is there anything you would add to this checklist?
How does a writer devise a name for a character? First, we can’t choose a name similar to the other main characters or you’ll run into people named Maria, Marilyn, and Merle. It gets confusing for the reader. So that eliminates certain sounds and letters. The character’s ethnic heritage or her role in the story may influence your choice. For example, I can’t proceed with plotting my next romance without obtaining a name for my heroine, but so far, nothing has struck my fancy. The story is based on Norse mythology so that gives me a place to start. I looked in The Writer’s Digest Character Naming Sourcebook by Sherrilyn Kenyon, an excellent resource that lists names by nationality and gives their meanings. Then I drew up a list of Norwegian female names that caught my interest. I narrowed these down to selections with a certain sound I wanted.
To visualize my characters, I cut out pix from magazines like TV Guide and Entertainment Weekly. So here is my heroine. She’s the perfect counterpart to my serious, brooding hero, Lord Magnor.
My female name choices:
Dagny (joy of the Danes)
Kelci (from the ship’s island) Kelsey
Mildri (mild and lovely)
Randi (lovely, goddess) Ragnfrid, Ragni
Brief character sketch: Heroine sculpts mythical figures of trolls and fairies out of natural materials and sells them online. Owns a pottery studio, wants to open a gift shop, and maybe teach children arts and crafts.
Other Women in the series: Nira, Jennifer, Lianne, Algie
Men: Zohar, Paz, Magnor, Dal, Kaj, Yaron
If I name her Dagny, I can’t call her Dag for short because one of the established heroes is Dal. So I have to keep in mind these other people when I choose her name. Mildri is cute but maybe too mild for her. Kelsey is too ordinary, although Kelci is a different spelling that might work. Ragni? Call her Rage for short? Hey, that might do. She looks kinda angry at the world, doesn’t she? I can’t nickname her Rag with a soft “g” because it would sound too much like Kaj.
What do you think? Who does she look like to you? Any other suggestions? What means do you, the writer, use to determine your character names?
“Brainstorming on the Beach” Conference with Novelists, Inc.
Lucienne Diver, Literary Agent
Angela James, Executive Editor, Carina Press
Brian O’Leary, Magellan Media Partners
Sue Lange, Book View Café
Barbar Keiler, Author
Chris Kenneally, Copyright Clearance Center
Lou Aronica, Publisher, The Story Plant
J.A. Konrath, Author & Blogger
Here are my notes, keeping in mind this is what I heard and my interpretation.
Lucienne: Unless you have an audience or a platform, you need a publisher. And to reach the broadest possible audience, you need a publisher to put your book into the different formats.
Chris: Digital publishing offers you a chance to experiment with a novella or a short story.
Google editions may discourage piracy because people won’t share their Google accounts.
Lou doesn’t advice just putting your book up on Amazon. They don’t put effort into marketing individual books. Plus with so many formats, going with a publisher is better.
Joe Konrath believes consumers feel less toward digital copies than toward works in print.
Agency Model: Publisher gets 70%, Amazon gets 30%, publisher sets price. Out of the publisher’s share, the author may get 25% and their agent gets 15% of that money.
Barbara: How will mobile phones affect the art of writing? Will readers have patience for paragraphs longer than 3 lines? Will description be tolerated or will it be replaced by a video clip? Will the Twitter novel become popular? How about turning off your cell phones on airplanes? Does this mean you can’t read during takeoffs and landings? People with shorter attention spans will want shorter books.
Brian: Re contract clauses and reversion of rights and subrights, try for a shorter term, like 3 to 5 years, after which these items are negotiable.
Publishers have to agree on terms of sale with eReader device providers in order to offer their stock in that format.
“Windowing” is when a hardcover comes out then the eBook comes out xx weeks later. You have to market the book twice when this happens so it causes the author more work. This also may happen with books that release in the U.S. market and later in the foreign markets. You lose sales momentum.
Nancy Cohen and Five Star Editor Denise Dietz
Write more good books and write quickly.
Don’t be overwhelmed by the marketing aspects.
Spend time selling your book. Work it into your calendar.
You don’t need an entire social media strategy. Start with just one thing.
You can reinvent yourself. Don’t be frightened by the prospect; be excited by it.
Be transparent for your readers; let them see who you are.
You can find a smaller, devoted audience without a blockbuster mentality. This can be artistically liberating for writers.
Follow you own path while keeping in mind all your options.
“Brainstorming on the Beach” Conference with Novelists, Inc.
Annette Mahon, Nancy Cohen, Cynthia Thomason
Here are my notes, keeping in mind this is what I heard and my interpretation.
Lou Aronica, Publisher, The Story Plant
Donna Hayes, Publisher and CEO, Harlequin Enterprises
Al Zuckerman, Literary Agent and Founder of Writers House
Carolyn Pittis, Senior VP, Global Author Services, HarperCollins
Heather Graham, NYT Bestselling Author
Alan Kaufman, Literary Attorney
Loriana Sacilotto, Executive VP, Editorial & Global Strategy, Harlequin Enterprises
Angela James, Executive Editor, Carina Press
“Publishers are moving toward digital publishing because consumers want it.” Ereaders will be hot over the holidays.
A digital world offers no returns, no print production, and a different distribution avenue. It’s a very big opportunity for writers and publishers. Genre readers have adapted to the technology faster than others.
Neilsen Bookscan (if I got this right) reported $40.6 million eBook sales in one month. The Kindle is responsible for this explosion.
The competition, i.e. B&N, Borders, Amazon, and Google, are growing awareness of this product. What will really shake things up will be Smartphones. This is the next big opportunity. People who don’t own dedicated eReaders will have global Smartphones. Even eReaders may disappear in favor of these devices. The deciding factor is how long brick and mortar stores stay open.
See this article “Verizon Wireless Brings Kindle Experience to Android Smartphones and Other Devices” at http://bit.ly/9LypQG
Lou: He doesn’t distinguish between print or eBook writers and publishing houses re prestige. Readers want interaction with writers. You must connect in some significant way with your readers. The only way you can stand out from the pack is to market yourself, no matter the publisher or the format.
Regarding whether you should self-publish or go with an epub, Lou reminds you that epubs can manage the different streams of income. Convenience is a major factor to going with an epub for now. If eBook sales equivocate to print sales, perhaps these epubs should begin offering advances.
Print publishers have to set up a new infrastructure while maintaining their legacy print operation, but there may be casualties as their margins are very small.
Angela: Digital first authors may choose to go with an epub because they want to write something different or they want to start out in a smaller market. It doesn’t mean they’ve been rejected by the major houses as many perceive it.
“You don’t want to just publish a book. You want a career.” Authors are small business owners and have to market themselves.
Carolyn: How do pubs and authors collaborate together as partners in a new business model to sell more books? The major houses have to figure out how to reduce costs on the print side while increasing their investment in digital. Readers care about what reviewers think and what their own friends like. They care about a good story. She believes too much technology (i.e. enhanced eBooks) may interfere with this experience, at least for fiction. It might work better for nonfiction.
Alan believes things may look similar in five years if the general trade publishers acquire the eBook publishing houses. Then those pubs may in turn be acquired by Google.
“Publishers act as gatekeepers. This is their most important function. If they aren’t around to do that, who knows what’ll be out there?”
Harlequin is already ahead of the game because it has Carina Press. Angela says other issues like DRM and pricing will change the landscape.
Other issues mentioned in the panel were consumer pricing and the strong trend toward price reduction, demographics and the behavior of younger readers and their purchasing habits, and the foreign market which is hungry for content.