Reward Or Punishment? I Can’t Decide.

The dream of being traditionally published … we all started with it.  It was the place where we saw ourselves, our work … a place on the shelf at Barnes & Nobel, a write-up in a big-time heavy hitting magazine like Publishers Weekly.  An advance, some royalties, maybe a multi-book deal. An agent who adores you, an editor who understands you.  The ability to slough off the workday grind for a slower paces of life, 9-5 spent in your pajamas instead of a suit.  A full-time job telling stories and then talking about those stories.  We, as authors in the prenatal stages of publishing, romance the ideals and rewards of being “traditionally published”.

Don’t think … for one minute … the Big Six and all their minions don’t realize that, even in the face of this digital publishing revolution.  Sure, some Indies become wildly successful … they are the ones we romanticized after the traditional publishing well has dried to nil, they become deities and are idolized for their unconventional, screw-em’ success.  But, even those Indies after selling millions tend to agent up and go trade … not all, but some.

All of this sums up the reason there is an ABNA (Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award).  It’s the reason why Amazon, the hub for many self-published, hosts a contest through their CreateSpace imprint each year.  10,000 entries whittled down to 2 winners through various milestones, ending with a grand prize of $15,000 (by way of an ‘advance’) and a nonnegotiable contract with Penguin.  Yea … ish.

The Passive Voice, a highly legal-eagle minded blog, broke down the downfalls of this contest in a series of “gotcha moments”, which you can read all about: here

The bottom line, the Achilles heel, of the ABNA is in the prize … leading me wonder, is it a reward or a punishment for writing a good book?

No author should ever be asked or, worse yet, required to sign a stock contract.  Agents will tell you that as gospel all day long, a good agent will fight the terms to land you a much more lucrative, long-term deal.  The first draft of a contract to publish is never, ever favorable to the writer.  Actually, that’s why there this little thing called negotiation. But, if you win, you’re bound to sign on to what terms are handed forth.  There is zero wiggle room … and what that means to the writer… no one knows.  Penguin has not made a sample contract of terms available, so what you agree too by signing up for the contest is cloaked under nondisclosure.  And that could mean is any number of things.  You may not be able to publish another book, either self or otherwise, for years.  You may end up with a nominal royalty rate that will never outsell your advance, essentially capping the potential of your book by terms you can’t control and ending the dream of making a livable wage off of it.  Worst case scenario: Penguin has control of not only over your book … but you as well.  They’re effectively stepping up and into the spot light as your boss.

Let’s address the whole nondisclosure thing for a moment.  It’s not uncommon when you’re working on a deal to have a nondisclosure cap put on the proceedings.  Penguin has stepped this up by saying that … if the author makes it further into the contest, they must remain hush-hush about their advancement.  Why?  The Passive Voice speculates it’s because Penguin doesn’t want to draw attention to the novel or the novelist.  But, WHY? Because, even if you don’t win the contest per say, Penguin reserves the right to acquire your book anyway.  They actually grab FIRST and LAST right to bid on your novel.  If you win the whole, you’re automatically on board … if you don’t, but they liked it anyway, they can approach you and try to woo you independent of ABNA.  But, imagine for a moment that you’re in the acquiring department of Harpers & Collins or Little, Brown … there is this book … and it’s a serious contender for a big award … you’d be stupid to let the chance of a best seller slip through your fingers.  Penguin wants to stunt them where they stand … if they don’t know about you because you’re not talking and Penguin’s not talking and nothing is being broadcast … get where I’m going with this?  It’s another form of holding a writer hostage.

Signing up for ABNA without the proper awareness is a dangerous, slippery slope.  I’m not saying don’t … I’m saying do if it works for you and you have all the pros and cons hammered out.

So … with that said … whose jumping on the ABNA train bound for publication?

 

 

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What To Expect When You’re Expecting

 No … silly writers … this isn’t a pregnancy post!  This is a business post.  I want to discuss what you should expect when you’re expecting something book related … anything book related.

As a writer, an independent writer, you’re not just writing books for the sport of it … you’re running a business.  You’re producing a product in your bed or office or at the kitchen table.  It’s a product that will be bought and sold for years to come and it should, in a perfect world, rise up to meet your expectations of it.  And, chances are, you’ll end up outsourcing some of the tasks involved in the production of that product.  It’s the loss of control that’s extremely hard …

For me, this was equal parts of exhausting and rewarding. When you hand over your vision as well as your money, you are taking a chance — no one knows that better than a virgin-writer with no real connections and zero experience. There are no lily-pads in your pond to hop from. As I prepare to get the second book really moving, and align myself for the best success possible in terms of time management and output, I think taking a hard look at what to expect when you’re expecting is a pretty important thing.

I’m pretty much a pacifist.  I’m easy going, I try my hardest to be nice to everyone I meet and I’m fairly level headed in terms of my expectations.  I might go so far as to say I have a perfectionist streak in my ideals … but I’m not impossible please.  Many, many of my business dealings were amazing, having the resources at my finger tips to ask the important questions and establish a bell-curve of expectations was priceless … but it wasn’t flawless.  I was new, green and fumbling as I like to say, and I had to learn a lot of things … hard things … but with any education, there is growth and … believe it or not … I’m actually sort of thankful for the moments that had me pulling my hair out, because they taught me more for the next endeavor.

1. The people you hire actually do work for you!

I can remember one instance where I was working with someone … going back and forth, “yesing” and “noing” a certain thing over and over and over again … it started to feel like a tennis match of sorts, with this certain thing bouncing between us with no points being scored.  The fun of it was lost in the inability to match up our minds and communicate effectively.  In the end, the person I was working with just e-mailed a few options and pretty much threw her hands up in the air.  That was discouraging.

When you’re paying someone to do a job, what you get in return for your money should be what you were expecting and nothing less than that.  If you’re sensing a mental break-down, either from you or your contractor, take a break.  Shoot off an e-mail and be nice about it, explain that you’re going to take 12 or 24 or 48 hours to think it over.  In the grand scheme of things, the cooling off period won’t make a difference in the timeline … but it may make all the difference in the end result.

Don’t be afraid to say “that’s not quite right” … it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.  When you’re working over e-mail, things can get lost in the communication process, and that’s not really anyones fault.  If you can disguise a criticism as a kudos … even better.  Pick one thing you love and start with that.  Remember to say thank you … that’s important!

Let your contractor know, upfront, what your expectations are.   Don’t roll in during the 11th hour with X,Y&Z … be concise upfront and hopefully, in return, you’ll get the same.

2. Be kind … but firm …

This is sort of piggybacking off of point number one.  But remember, the people you’re working with have lives too.  Be aware that people get sick … that accidents and emergencies arise.  If something like this happens, because it does happen, be nice about it … but let them know that you’re still expecting the work done by such-and-such a date.

3. Work out a contract … and don’t be afraid to ask for a signature!

As a writer, you’ll be asked to sign contracts all the time.  Have one to offer back in return.  It’s an extra step, I know, but when you’re working online with someone you don’t know and you’re sending them your money and freely discussing a novel that isn’t copyrighted, it’s smart to safe guard yourself.  There are tons of online resources that will help you flesh one out … but use it, and keep them filed away by book (if you have more than one).

The primary thing to remember on this front is that until you have some safe guard, you’re wide open.  If you don’t mind that, don’t worry.  For me, however, I worry and so I mind.  I didn’t have contracts on the first go around, I signed some, but never had one in return.  I’ll be a better business woman the next time around.

Key components to remember if you’re going to draw up a contract are:

1. All business dealings should be kept quiet.  The world is a small place.  One disgruntled contractor could sour your good name.  People do this all the time in the name of privacy … you should too.

2. What does the purchasing said work entitle you too?  For a cover … that’s easy.  You want access to use the cover for any and all book related events and swag.  Don’t be blindsided by limitations.

3. Speaking of covers … companies like Createspace has minimum DPI’s you need have for printing … the magic number is 300.  Make sure your artist is aware of that can can create a cover using that as a launch pad.

4. Confirm the price up front.  Whatever the service, make sure that you have a base line fee that won’t be changed last minute … those sort of surprises are awful, even when it’s not that much money.

5. Have an opt out!  This is an uncomfortable thing to approach … but the truth is, people do misrepresent themselves.  If you have the feeling you’re getting run-around or the excuses are piling on, have a built-in escape hatch.  Spell that out.  A settlement fee a portion of the cost is fair … but don’t feel trapped by someone else … ever!

6. Anything else that creates worry or stress for you.

4. Establish a timeline 

My first time looked a lot like a hot mess.  I was a mess.  No directionality at all.  This time around, my timeline tentatively looks like the below:

-Write (MS finished and self-editted by April)

-In Appointment with Editor NOW — as in January.

-Converse With My Cover Artist Mid-Feb for image for cover

-Book Goes To Editor In April

-Book Returns In May/Make Corrections

-Apply For Copyright

-Book Goes To Formatter In June/Cover Artist Does Spine and Back

-Book Is Published in July

Will those dates change?  OF COURSE THEY WILL.  But, it holds me accountable to a time table.  I obviously don’t have a publisher breathing down my neck for my next book … and to keep it sort of organized, I set the goals and reward myself if I finish on time or better yet, ahead of time.  Expect set backs but learn to be your own boss, hold yourself accountable.

5. Be calm in the face of crisis

When I was writing THE MILESTONE TAPES I realized that I had totally and completely plagiarized an entire chunk of the book.   Sucks to be me.  That was what I consider a crisis.  But, I did the old … keep calm and carry on … thing.  It worked out fine … but just know, shit will happen … be okay with that, be prepared for that.

So … writers … be excited when you’re expecting … but be smart about expecting as well!

P.S: Don’t forget to enter THE MILESTONE TAPES GIVEAWAY!!

 

 

 

 

 

“I’ve had it for 90 seconds … and I’ve already published a book!”

Apple's Epic Fail

A lot if this and that has surrounded Apple’s announcement of iBooks Author in the last, oh, 24 hours.  But, before you get way too excited, there are some huge caveats that cripple the viability of this free software.

Apple is innovative … I’m an Apple fangirl through and through.  I own an iPhone, my husband has taken over my iPad, I write on an Air that recently replaced my Pro.  I have zero qualms when it comes to the utterly beautiful machines Apple produces and the software that accompanies them — heck, Garage Band taught me how to play two cords on my guitar.

There is plenty of software for the writer … Scrinever (or whatever), Storyist, good old fashion Word, Pages … the options are limited only to how much you want to spend, and free is always going to be a front-runner.  But iBooks isn’t free, as in free-free.

iBooks has a few things going for it, one being the instant format for books that are otherwise complex, like research manuals or math books.  It allows the author to invite a reader on an interactive ride through their work, which is, without a doubt ground breaking.  It also boasts a beautiful interface … as do most applications from this heavy hitting company.  iBooks essentially takes the task of writing and spins it on it’s pretty little creative head.

… BUT …

Buyer beware.

iBooks has some pretty sneaky ways of manipulating the author.  The grandest being that the AUTHOR doesn’t own the work … Apple does.  Of course, Apple will pay you … but, only if they agree it’s publishable … and if it’s not, and you decide to say “f-em … what do they know” … then be prepared to give your work away for free because you simply cannot sell it anywhere else.  Nope, sorry.  Not Amazon, not Smashwords.  You, the writer of this original context, will be crippled by Apples end-all/be-all judgements.

Of course, from what I’ve read, you have the option to export your work elsewhere to another writing software … but … strike all that beautiful formatting, because it will vanish before your eyes.

But, what really sealed iBooks fate on my end was the review left by one user whom shall remain names … he said, and I quote …

“I’ve only had it for 90 seconds and I’ve already published a book.  Incredible” (and 77 out of 120 agree with him)

No, not incredible.  There are a lot of choice words that can be used for what this guy did in 90 seconds … but incredible fails to be one … epically fails, actually.

Incredible is writing a book with merit.  Incredible is taking the time to produce a product worthy of production … can that honestly be done in 90 seconds?  I think not-so-much.  What are we pushing here?  Steamed rice.  You can’t even cook a Cup o’ Noodles in 90 seconds for crying out loud.  I’m pretty horrified actually.

The product detail from Apple reads like this:

Now anyone can create stunning iBooks textbooks, cookbooks, history books, picture books, and more for the iPad.  All you need is an idea and a Mac.  Start with one of the Apple-designed templates that feature a wide variety of page layouts.  Add your own text and images with drag-to-drop ease.  Use multi-touch widgets to include interactive photo galleries, movies, Keynote presentations, 3-D objects, and more.  Preview your book on your iPad at any time.  Then submit your finished work to the iBook store with a few simple steps.  And before you know it, you’re a published author!  

::deep sigh::

I have to look at this … this “software” … as a giant step backwards.  One that makes really sad.  I can tell you whats coming without the benefit of a crystal ball or premonitions … highly unedited books, sloppy writing, and overzealous drag-and-drop users who will grow spiteful with time when their “90-seconds-or-less-book” is rejected … which probably only means they’ll start showing up on Amazon and Smashwords.

This is a sad day for those of us who actually take this whole writing thing seriously.

 

 

 

 

 

Publicity and All That Jazz

I’ve been a bad blogger lately … and I’m sorry.  This blog has been painfully slow as I try to balance writing my second novel with putting the finishing touches on The Milestone Tapes.  I apologize and I’ll try to be better.

Before we jump into this latest post, I have a little housekeeping to do.

1. Please, please, please remember to sign up for the The Milestone Tapes Giveaway!  We have just under a month left!  More information can be found here under the “books and events” page!  Thanks for your continued support as we round third towards home.

2. I’ve finally, thank you Jesus, broken the curse of writers block.  Abandoning my initial idea allowed me to tell a story I’ve been haunted by for years.  Like with THE MILESTONE TAPES, IN THE AFTER will hit close to home for me as I explore what it means to really be a friend in the darkest of hours.  IN THE AFTER, unlike with THE MILESTONE TAPES, is a morbid story that will ping directly into current events and hopefully put a looking-glass over the definition of spousal abuse and the ricochet effect it has on relationships.

Okay … now, onto the topic …

Yesterday I posed a question on the Kindleboards about whether a new author would be better served going Select or if they should branch out into the wider distribution of B&N, Smashwords and the like.  I also mentioned that I had hired a publicist to work with me on the launch.

While some people stayed on topic, hashing out the highs and lows of Select … others broke off into the idea of a new author using a publicist to spread the word of their release.

I was told that with one novel my success will be nil and that it’s only with the what I do next that I will see what kind of author I meant to become … of course, I’m paraphrasing, but more or less, that was the gist.  That, rather than investing time and money into my first book, I should be killing myself for the second — dedicating every waking minute available to seeing the second novel through to completion.  Of course, this was from authors will multiple books in their signatures.  I was told that I should just publish, publish, publish … and if, in a year or so, I decide my work reads as “amateurish” … I can always pull particular works down.

…Ummm….

As I’ve said … over and over again … I’m not a seasoned vet, rather, I’m a first timer with no back-list and yes, that puts me a real disadvantage.  Everything I publish will be from the moment, and I will give to it all I can manage.  I won’t ever have the luxury of being a fast and furious author.  If I can publish one a year, I’m doing good.  Each book will come from its own place, literary fiction doesn’t lend itself well to sequels by the nature of it being.  And, the audience of literary fiction is an interesting bunch itself.  There is a set expectation of a book that is written for the genre … and it’s different from YA or SciFi or Romance.

So … let me tell you why I’m still going ahead as planned …

THE MILESTONE TAPES, draft one, was finished in August — or rather — five months ago.  I’ve held on to it now for longer than it took to write.

The editing of THE MILESTONE TAPES was completed November — or rather — nearly three months ago and I’ve still kept it to myself.

The cover, number two that is, was finished in November as well, for three months I’ve stared at it.  But, cover number one was completed in October.

The formatting for THE MILESTONE TAPES was finished earlier this month — I have the proof in hand and it’s flawless, but still, I haven’t clicked “publish”.

Why?

Because it’s not ready. The book in and of itself is as good as it ever will be … and its publishable material.  As I write this entry, the truth is, I could be a published author.  I could have had THE MILESTONE TAPES up for sale for nearly a week now.  Heck, I could have slapped a cover on it and it could have been for sale months ago … but that isn’t my style.  That’s not what I wanted for this story and it won’t be what I want for any story that shall follow… and that’s not how I’m going to step into the publishing world now or ever.

When a Big Six publishes a book there is hoopla.  It gives an author — new or old — a presence.  This mantra of letting the pot boil is one that was honed by trial and error.  They obviously know what works when it comes to launching a book and meeting sales quotas.  I, do not.  But, to my credit, I’m a researcher.  I was a reader long before I was a writer and I that sort of branches out into my quest to get it right.

The irony is, is that when an indie author grumbles about poor sales … the first thing that is often suggested or commented on is promotion.  Why?  Because it’s a way to get the word out, inspire interest, cultivate excitement … as the Big Six regularly do.  In the case of sluggish sales, either the author didn’t do enough or didn’t manage to target the correct areas.  But, in my mind (and to quote Larry the Cable Guy) … that’s like checking on your burgers after they’re burnt.  It’s an after the damage is done kind of thing.  New books have a short shelf life before they become old books.  Strike while the iron is hot is my personal philosophy.  Make as much of that moment as you can, give yourself every opportunity possible and you’ll never wonder what if.

With all of that said, I also know that everyone is on their own journey.  That what works for one may not work for another.  So, rather than make blanket statements about what you must do … I think it’s more pertinent to encourage all options.  Success comes in many forms … and that path too it is often different and designed by an individual.

So … now it’s question time … as a new author, what did you do to spread the word?  🙂

 

 

 

“In Two Months You Will Reach Your Goal”

That was what my fortune cookie said this evening … but, let’s go back to start …

Nine months ago I sat down at my computer to write a book.  Today, on my doorstep, the official proof arrived.  No more spiral bound Kinko’s mock-up, no more hypothetical printed pages scaled down on my computer for review … no, it was really real with a pretty gloss cover and hundreds of creme pages with my name on the cover.  It was really wild moment, opening the brown cardboard box and unearthing the finished product.  A surreal moment … one I’ve waited for a long time.  And yet, it was strangely bazaar … as I held it in my hand for the first time, I was overcome with this feeling of being introduced to something you’ll love for the first time.  You see, I know my book, I just didn’t know it like this.  This is different … and it’s spectacular to me.

And then it was as if my hands grew vines around the book.  I wandered from room to room in my home with it, I couldn’t put it down.

We celebrated the way one does on an icy winter night with the first real snow of the season blowing hard outside … we ordered in.  Chinese food.  Mark walked out with the two fortune cookies and told me to pick … and tonight, instead of playing our ritual game of “in bed” we’d play “with my or your book”.

I suddenly felt like I was making a huge decision … way more serious than dessert should ever be.  But, I played along, mulling over my choices for a solid minute before picking one of the plastic wrapped cookies.

I broke it open … and inside it said … in two months you will reach your goal.

Prolific, right?

Because in two months my book will be published.  I’ve said March all along.  I wanted to give myself the balance of a year to be really ready … to be secure and ready.

Today was a beautiful day … and I look forward to two months time.

 

 

 

Streetlight Graphics … An Enlightening Experience

One of my favorite things about being a writer while simultaneously running a blog is being able to connect others like myself with really amazing industry professionals.  If I had been a true DIY author I wouldn’t have had the time to blog nearly as often as I do … or, worse yet, start this blog at all.  It’s been a true win/win for me … and now, I get the chance to offer up another amazing recommendation.

Formatting is for some (maybe most) the hardest part of the process.   When you consider how many separate formats you need for each individual platform, plus the specifications of a print book … it’s no wonder this no-small-feat has had some pulling their hair out by the root.  And I was almost that girl …

Then, I met Glendon Haddix.

Mr. Haddix came with glowing recommendations from other authors, those that worked with him in the past and those who had yet to use him — his reputation in the writer community is stellar.  He is a trusted, respected resource — one that every indie should know.

Haddix owns Streetlight Graphics  a true soup-to-nuts shop for the indie author looking to simplify the process of publishing a book.  In his own words,“Our primary mission is to provide an affordable, customer service oriented, one stop shop for authors to get all the independent publishing services they need so they can spend their time doing what they love…WRITE!” 

How nice is that?  The ability to just write?  After all, that’s what we want to do … but it’s all the other things that simply get in the way of that craft.

Streetlight Graphics was born from a true need … the ability to be a trusted partner in the process of publishing for the fledgling or seasoned writer.  With the company, an author can commission not only formatting services for print and multiple eBook platforms, but cover art, banner ads, logos … just about anything your little indie heart could desire.

My personal experience goes like this …

I knew nothing about formatting, only that I couldn’t do it myself.  Having considered using a big box company like CreateSpace, I was pushed (and not so gently) towards Streetlight Graphics. “Get a quote!” some authors said … while others couldn’t believe I’d spend $300+ when I could easily accomplish the same thing with a private small business for a lower price.

It was on their advice, I reached out.  From the first e-mail exchange Glendon was wonderful.  His kindness and patience were evident from the amount of time he took to answer my questions and address my concerns.  But, it went far further than the commissioned work of formatting, he became a sounding board of sorts for other matters that arose.  If I forgot something … he’d remind me.  He went over my manuscript again as as sort of “oops detector” and sent it back to me with a few small changes.  Every step of the process was painless and professional and easy … working with him was truly a pleasure.

Then panic struck.  I had an issue with my cover … not only did Glendon take his time, without asking for a single cent more, to create a new templet for my cover artist … he patiently walked me through understanding the process so that I could not only forward the information on, I could resource it myself.  That, right there, is the measure of someone who views your success as his own.  That is someone willing to go the extra mile for a client … and that is why I’m sure we’ll work together again in the future.

It may sound simple-minded, but it’s true … the people you surround yourself with matter.  Your options, as an independent, are as deep as they are wide.  There are times when it seems like everyone and their brother are peddling promises and services.  But to find that one person who really understands you and the process in the same breath, it matters and it’s rare.

So, I’m shamelessly plugging Streetlight Graphics … If you’re looking for a cover artist, or a formatter or maybe you need a banner or logo … reach out Glendon, I promise, you won’t be disappointed.

“Obviously You Don’t Care!”

An interesting take on the new KDP Select Program was raised on the Kindle Boards Forum … by a Nook user.

In the past few weeks, this Select program has gone from very hush-hush with secretive terms and confidential phone calls to loud and proud.  We now know the terms of the agreement, the limitations and the benefits.  While no official cheques have been written by Amazon, we have numbers in terms of “lent” books … which are more than just a little impressive.  Some authors are seeing lending numbers garnished from a singular hour match what they did on B&N in an entire year for a single title.  Like I said, impressive.  As for what percentage those numbers will win them from the $500,000 pool … that’s still TBD … but it’s a bright light, and I look forward to hearing from the brave souls who gleefully publish their numbers.

And for me, with this new information, it’s become an increasingly difficult decision to make … spread the love or give it all to Amazon?  What’s a girl to do?

So, that brings us to this Nook User (we’ll call her Nook User for the duration of this post).  What makes her take so interesting is this … she’s not an author, she is a reader — a very brave reader who came out of lurking to write an open letter to the authors who post there.  She is our target market, the reader with the open mind, and rightfully so, she guessed that her opinion would matter.  She clearly stated that she uses a Nook by choice — leaving me to guess no one from B&N has put a gun to her head.  And, as you can probably guess, she has great issue with Amazon’s new “take all” strategy.

Nook User uses Amazon.com and it’s Kindle Store as a shopping tool.  She’ll research the books on Amazon’s much friendlier site, and then — with list in hand — head over to B&N for purchases.  She has a well oiled system to her buying … and when a to-be-bought book that was listed on Amazon fails to appear on B&N she feels like “obviously you don’t care!”

It’s an interesting take, right?  To think that if your book isn’t widely available your actions are perceived as careless … thoughtless … insensitive.  After all, you’re making a business decision … but for others, those that want to read your work, it’s personal.

In my opinion no one single reader is more important than the next … I say that as a reader and as a writer.  That the sum is truly greater than its parts.  Amazon has always been a much friendlier place for authors than it’s brick and mortar counterparts — and even its online competitors.  The lending program is proving to be a valuable tool, reaching new readers who will borrow a book from a new author whereas they may not make the decision to “pay” for the chance otherwise. Likewise, Amazon understands business and the business of writing books and in turn, give the writer a nice compensation.

But still …

I do care.  I care a lot.  Which is why Nook User’s post earned its own place on my blog.

My first eReader was a Sony 505 … or something like that, I can’t remember.  I wanted a Kindle … but Oprah had gone and made it the hardest and hottest grown-up toy of the season.  The backorder log was months deep and I would have had to wait forever for an Kindle of my own.  It was hard decision, but I decided to give up my place in line and buy a much more accessible Sony.

It was a beautiful eReader … a glossy powder coated blue metal device.  The case had a built-in light that, when folded down, covered the whole screen.  I was so excited to have it.

And, like Nook User, I found an easy way to find books I wanted to read … I went to Borders.  I would make short lists, come home, log into my account and try to find the books.  This was still the dark ages of ePub, and 90% of what I wanted to read wasn’t for sale through Sony.  Unlike Nook User, I did deviate from my eReader and simply supplemented my Sony by buying hardcovers and paperbacks.  What I’m trying to say is that, I understand, I’ve been there.

But, I never felted slighted by the authors for not publishing their books with ePub.  No, I understood that businesses make decisions based on what works for them and eBooks, at the time, were still a sluggish yet proven venture.

I eventually popped on the Kindle 2 and sold my Sony after spending some time on the Amazon site and realizing what an opportunity I was missing.  It changed for me then, I started ONLY buying e-editions of books … and rarely would I go for a paper version.  So, in that instance, again … I understand.

My point is … I get it.  I know that, in a perfect world, every book would be available in every format, but it’s not always the sagest business decision to do that.  And as an author I’m half writer half, business woman.  I have to look at the bigger picture to make the best decision … it’s really as simple as that.  It’s not that I don’t care … it’s that I care too much.  I care about everything.  I care about sales and readers and marketing and profit/loss … I care about my image and availability and the economy and the market.

But, there is a happy medium.  There is a solution …

PDF.

My decision in regards to KDP Select remains unmade in this moment.  But, I have scrambled my brain around making it fair … fair for everyone.

KDP lends the books to users for free.  Android users, iPad users … anyone with the Kindle app can pounce on the lending option.  It gives someone the opportunity to take the chance … and I think that paying that forward in the spirit of fairness is the best.

So … this is my personal solution …

If I decide, in the end, to make my book exclusively linked to Amazon … in essence shunning myself from readers of B&N and Apple, I will offer free PDF versions of my book for those unable to access it with their chosen provider.  I will set a pre-determined number of “free copies” … and when they’re gone, they’re gone.  Like with Amazon, I will run the promotion for 90 days and reevaluate things at the close.  It will allow me to be as fair as possible while still playing by the Select rules.

So, Nook User, I care.  And I consider your feelings and opinions very important … and you’re right … books are for reading.  So, no matter what I decide … anyone who wants to can read it.

 

 

 

 

Do You Ever Worry?

Sometimes the icy finger of dread creeps down my back … like, for instance, when I read the “disclaimer” my formatter added to my manuscript on my behalf spelling out that this book was a work of fiction — that characters, places, themes and the like are of my own wonderings and not based off the real life happenings of others …

But still … we live in legal times.  People can be “sue happy” at the glimmer of a windfall and this is true whether you’re insanely successful or selling merely two digits worth of stock.

I can say — in all sincerity — my book was totally made up.  My characters, save for Jenna who has mother’s spirit, are fictional beings living in the land of make-believe.  But, that doesn’t mean someone somewhere someday might not think otherwise.

We hear about it all the time.  And it’s not just the instance in which a story might strum the strings of another’s reality … sometimes it’s simply your book seeming to them a lot like their book — a book that may or may not be published, a book that may or may not be copyrighted … sometimes, it’s simply a matter of them having the idea and nothing more.

Stephenie Meyer was sued a few times over for her saga.  Once, before the finishing of New Moon … a college friend watched the Twilight movie and felt that the story was actually her’s … one that seemed to have many, many similarities to a short story she wrote in college.  Another, was after the release of Breaking Dawn when a relatively unknown author claimed that some scenes of the fourth installment were plucked directly from her own works — works that she had posted online over time but never traditionally or self published — like, the wedding scene or when Bella and Edward do it on the beach.  To her, those moments belonged to her book … and Stephenie Meyer with all her money was the “bad guy” … the thief … she was accused of plagiarism.

The internet has made being an author a dangerous place.  And the novelty of “no original idea” has taken a sharp right turn.

Can you protect yourself?  No.  Not from what I’ve seen … not from what I’ve looked up.  Save for a little blurb on the story being a work of fiction through and through, you’re screwed.  If someone wants a slice … if someone feels wronged by you and your writing … tough shit — that is, tough shit for you.

Thoughts and ideas are not gadgets and things … you cannot patent them … and that works both ways.  While someone may not be able to patent their idea that they never did anything with … you, as an author, cannot patent it either.  However, you can copyright it.  File it with the Library of Congress.  But, it’s not a fool-proof safe guard … loop holes, legal loop holes, exist.

And it’s worrisome, because whether you make bucketfuls of cash or not … you may someday find yourself served.

Do you ever worry?  How do you protect yourself and your work?

 

 

 

No Back List? Big Problem …

In the publishing “real world” … the land of Penguin and Little, Brown, Random House, Harper Collins … authors generally publish one book a year.  Some, like James Patterson (with his writing partners who probably do most of the work) can publish more frequently.    But, it’s fairly normal for a new release to burst onto the scene everything 12-18 months.  I know I’ve been waiting for Gillian Flynn to follow-up Dark Places for almost two years now — which will be her third release.

But, with an Independent Author, the back list seems to be a crucial component in the true, measurable success.  It’s fairly basic … fans find an author, read a book and want more.  Obviously, if an author has several completed works available, the visibility of that person can grow … and there is no lag.

But, for me, my first book is literally my first book.  I have no back list, no completed series, nothing really to offer outside of my initial release.    The Milestone Tapes isn’t a story that lends itself to a series … I have to start back at jump street.

My second book … as of today … is the sum of about 3,000 words.  Because I’m pretty certain my genre requires a minimum of 75,000 words, I’m obviously nowhere near done.  And with no back list, I’m starting to worry about a big problem looming.

My plan has always been this … sink a lot of my money into PR.  Get my name and voice out there.  I always assumed that while the first book was away … being polished and taken care of … I could commit to writing my second.  It was a good plan … but totally unrealistic.  I still had to really work towards getting the book ready with a million little fine details that only I could take hold of.

Now, I’m faced with no back list … and nothing concrete to follow.

My choice is this

1. Hold The Milestone Tapes until I’m done with the second book.

2. Go forward and then write like a lunatic and hope that within six months I can publish book two.

So, if you’re an author … tell me …how did you plan for release number one?  What did you think about following the first release?  What was your game plan?

 

 

 

 

Whoa … Hold On A Minute

So … everyone kind of knows, you need to copyright your works.  It protects you … your book … and your “intellectual property” from less savory characters.

But, no one ever told me oh, you should probably file the copyright as soon as you finish editing. 

Currently, the copyright department is running 3 months for electronic filing, 10 months for snail-mail filing.  And while you can absolutely publish without … why would you?

This is a PSA … if you finish editing, the moment you receive the file back polished and ready to go … FILE YOUR COPYRIGHT!!