Category : Self-Publishing

  • April 22, 2014

    If you could sit down to dinner with a literary agent…

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    Imagine this: You get to sit down to have dinner with the literary agent of your choosing. You can ask anything you want? So… what would you ask? I’ve been taking the entire month of April to let people send in the questions they’ve always wanted to ask a literary agent. Recent questions include…

    A friend of mine in our writers’ group asked me if she can be sued if she uses the name of a real town — i.e., Witch Hazel, Oregon, in her novel. Is that true?

    Okay– I’m not a lawyer, so I’m not giving you legal advice. If you need legal advice, go talk to an attorney. What you’re getting is my take as an agent… Sued? For what? No. You can be sued for defaming or libeling someone, but you can’t be sued for simply using the name of a town. Does she think she can’t say, “The plane flew to New York”? (But thanks for the call-out to my hometown of Witch Hazel!)

    It’s my understanding that publishers will often pay higher royalties for hardcover than softcover. Why is this?

    It’s true. The standard book contracts pays 10% of the retail price on the first 5000 hardcopies sold, 12.5% on the next 5000 copies, and 15% thereafter. A trade paper pays a flat 7.5%. The cost of the hardcover is higher, the production costs are a bit higher, people are willing to pay more, so there is more money to divide. Thus the royalties are higher. (By the way, most CBA publishers pay on net contracts, so it’s a bit different.)

    I’d like to know what goes on in a Pub Board meeting, and why does it sometimes take so long for them to make a decision on a book?

    The pub board is where a decision is made to publish or not publish a book. Usually it includes the editor presenting the project,

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  • April 17, 2014

    Thursdays with Amanda: How to Become a Hybrid Author, Part 2

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    2014AmandaAmanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent. Her author marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

    Last week, we continued our discussion on Hybrid Authors by looking at what steps published authors should take if they want to become one. But what if you aren’t yet traditionally published? What’s the protocol for a self-published author who wants to cross over into the traditional publishing market?

    HOW SELF-PUBLISHED AUTHORS BECOME HYBRIDS

    There is lots and lots of advice out there as to how to hit it big time with self-publishing. From everything I’ve read, I’d say the common threads are:

    • Romance sells best
    • Covers matter
    • $0.99 to $2.99 is the ideal price range for ebooks
    • Authors do better when they start with a bang and release a bunch of books simultaneously
    • Authors keep their readers coming back by releasing new content every few months
    • Marketing becomes an author’s day job

    So there you have it. The super duper condensed version. I won’t waste your time by expanding on what can be found plastered all over author sites and forums, but instead I’ll focus on what’s appealing to publishers and what would make them bite.

    Publishers in New York aren’t easily impressed by sales numbers. Many times they say that ebook or self-pubbed sales aren’t large enough to warrant traditional publication. And then when those sales numbers are large and impressive, you many times find them saying that the author has fully tapped the market and there is nothing more the publisher could do.

    So there seems to be this sweet spot…this magical sales range that is large enough to warrant publisher attention and small enough

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  • April 16, 2014

    If I could sit down with a literary agent and ask ANYTHING…

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    This month I’m trying to get to all the questions people say they’d like to ask an agent, if they could just sit down with him or her for a few minutes and talk privately. Here are questions that people have asked recently…

    Are the low costs of e-books costing authors money?

    Sure. I mean, if a retailer sells a book for $20, the royalty is higher than if he sells it for $10. The average e-book is way down — many below $5, and often you’ll see specials where the books are 99 cents. That doesn’t leave much for an author. The argument is made that people want a deal, and the low prices build readership by finding readers who will spend a dollar or two without even thinking about it. And I think that’s true, to a point… but at some point, we have educated readers that they only need to spend a buck or two on a book, and that means the only people really making money are the bestselling authors.

    I’m thinking of setting up my own publishing company. Do I need to trademark or copyright the company? Is there a contract template for doing that?

    If you’re just doing it to keep the words “Amazon Publishing” off your title page, then create a business name, do a search to make sure the name & domain are available and not a copyright infringement, and start a bank account in the name of the company. In some states you’ll have to register the company name, so check your local laws, or talk with an attorney if you have greater legal questions. (For the record, I’m not an attorney, nor am I giving you legal advice.) You can find people willing to sell you all sorts of business-planning materials, but most authors who start their own companies simply start them online with a domain name and a bank

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  • April 10, 2014

    Thursdays with Amanda: How to Become a Hybrid Author

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    2014AmandaAmanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent. Her author marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

    A couple weeks ago, I shared one of my oddities…whenever I hear “hybrid author” I can’t help but think of the movie Underworld. As silly as the post was, I stand by it 100%. The similarities between hybrid authors and the vampire-werewolf hybrid depicted in the movie are shockingly and hilariously real, folks. Real. Real. Real.

    And hybrid authors ARE taking over in a weird sense. They may not be the majority (yet), and all of them certainly aren’t millionaires, but they’re happy. And they’re profitable. And that’s a major WIN, folks. A huge win.

    So how do they do it? How do you become this mystical creature? This Hybrid Author?

    It looks a bit different for everyone, but for authors who have started on the traditional side and are considering making the leap, here are some thoughts…

    HOW TRADITIONAL AUTHORS BECOME HYBRIDS

    First, you need an author career with some sort of momentum. Maybe you have a couple books that are contracted or maybe you have releases lined up every six months or every year for the next few years? The logistics don’t matter so much as the fact that you are publishing with a traditional publishing house (one that can and does get books into bookstores) and will continue to do so.

    When you have this, here’s how you make the switch…

    1. Take a look at your contracts. Look specifically at the Non-Compete clause. You don’t want to end up in a situation where your publisher feels as though your self-pubbed books are competing with

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  • March 27, 2014

    Thursdays with Amanda: How the Movie “UNDERWORLD” Perfectly Portrays Today’s Publishing World

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    2014Amanda

    Amanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent. Her author marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

     

    Have you seen Underworld?

    In this rather awesome and yet equally terrible movie, the vampires and the lycans are at odds (duh). The vampires are snooty and privileged and literally SLEEPING UNDERGROUND while the world passes them by.  The lycans, on the other hand, are rule-breakers and thugs. They do what they want and for obvious reasons don’t get along with the vamps.

    There is a particularly attractive lycan-hunting vampire girl who is tracking a lowly human that most women my age would know as Ben from Felicity. Ben from Felicity is being followed by lycans, and the hot vamp chick wants to know why. The truth is soon revealed when the lycans bite Ben from Felicity and turn him. By now the hot vampire lady is torn! She has grown to care for Ben from Felicity, and how can she love her enemy?! She eventually decides to get over herself and love him anyway, but then he is once again injured and near death (wimp). She does what she has been warned not to do and bites him, thus making him both vampire and lycan–a creation that is rumored to be stronger than either species. They call him a hybrid. Eventually, he is able to bring about peace between the clans.

    So why do I bring this up? Why walk you through the ENTIRE movie premise?

    Because it adequately portrays what’s happening in publishing, and every time I hear the term “hybrid author,” I immediately think of Ben from Felicity (and I wanted you to

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  • March 20, 2014

    Thursdays with Amanda: Respecting Your Art

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    Amanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent. Her author marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

    An old college friend was telling me a story about a potential client he was talking with. This friend of mine does freelance editing and proofing (he proofed my book, The Extroverted Writer), and so he is regularly courting new clients, trying to meet their expectations while also sharing with them the reality of the business.

    This particular client of my friend’s was one of those type A, demanding, bull-headed types. You know who I’m talking about…a real-life Miranda Priestly or Bart Bass. Shrewd. Demanding. With no concept or concern for how much work it takes to produce a quality result.

    The client had a 58,000-word manuscript that he wanted proofread, but the real kicker was that he wanted the project done in two days. When my friend pushed back and told him that, with a full-time job and other responsibilities on top of his freelancing gig, there was no way he could get it done and done well in that timeframe, the guy refused to accept such an answer. Said something about how it HAD to be ready for publication and how there was NO ROOM FOR AN EXTENSION.

    My friend politely turned the project down.

    I used to edit and proofread for a publishing company. They’d hand me a fiction manuscript, give me a week’s worth of time, and then a month later a check for a whopping $150 would hit my account. I had gotten the job after hearing that they needed someone to edit and proof for under $200 a pop. I had

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  • February 22, 2014

    Author Earnings, Amazon, and the Future of Ebooks

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    There has been a ton of discussion over a report on author earnings  by ebook authors (which you can find here: http://authorearnings.com/the-report/), the response to it (http://tinyurl.com/pcebsd5), and the responses to the responses (two of the best are http://tinyurl.com/kbjts5s and http://tinyurl.com/omkjz6v ). If you follow this discussions in our industry, you already know what’s going on: successful self-published author of Wool, Hugh Howey, did a bunch of research and came to the conclusion that self-published authors are selling more books and making more money than those publishing with traditional publishers. It was quickly pointed out that there were some problems with Howey’s work — he sells his books on Amazon, did all his research on Amazon, and (surprise!) came to the conclusion that Amazon is a great place to do your ebooks. Nevertheless, there were really some interesting things that showed up in his research:

    —Indie-published ebooks have generally higher ratings on Amazon than Legacy-published ebooks.

    —Indie-published ebooks generally cost less than Legacy-published ebooks, possibly leading consumers to the sense of getting better value from indies.

    —Indie-published ebooks may be outselling Legacy-published ebooks (this is more inferred than proven).

    —Indie-published ebooks constitute a larger percentage of books sales than we’ve been led to believe in the past (Howey estimates it’s more than 50% of all book sales, though his methodology lacks stringent validity testing).

    —Indie-published authors of ebooks are earning more per book than Legacy-published ebook authors. (Though his argument that Indie-published authors are making more overall is based on very shaky evidence.)

    It’s all fascinating stuff, and I believe his conclusion that publishing’s brightest days are ahead is spot-on. As an agent, I’ve never felt I was one of the people who needed to protect the status quo — the fact is, I believe in authors self-publishing.. Unfortunately, the debate that arose after Howey released his findings was considerably less than insightful. It’s become a fairly

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  • February 12, 2014

    Self Publishing as Amway

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    BY CHIP MACGREGOR

    I’m one of those agents who believes in the future of publishing. I respect the past, but I understand that the old way of doing things won’t work today — everything has changed, we’re in a state of revolution, and people who want to make a living in this business will have to adapt or die. I know that’s true of agents, who must change the way they’re doing things if they expect to make a living in 2014. I think that’s true of publishers, who are big and successful for a reason, and who will continue to try to change their models to remain in business and make money. And I believe it’s also true of authors, who simply have to accept the world has changed and look to the future with a new plan.

    The old plan for most authors was clear: write a great book, find an agent, and let him help you land a deal with a publisher. Most authors relied on an advance to make a living, and the full-timers tended to live from one advance check to the next. Royalties were great, when they showed up once or twice per year, but could barely be counted on. The power was in the hands of publishers, and there were a number of middlemen (distributors, retailers, agents) intruding on much of a relationship that SEEMED like it should have been simply “author-to-reader.” In that old system, the roles were clear: the authors wrote books, the agents negotiated books, the publishers produced books, the marketers promoted books, the distributors provided books, and the retailers sold books. Sometimes it didn’t seem fair — as though the authors who were churning out the art didn’t have much control, and were at the mercy of a sometimes fickle or arbitrary system.

    Then things changed. Amazon came along and, in essence, removed many of the middlemen. An author

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  • January 9, 2014

    Thursdays with Amanda: I’m an Agent and I Self-Published

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    Amanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent. Her author marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Today, it is on sale for $2.99…check it out!

    Hi. I’m an agent and I self-published. Nice to meet you.

    It goes without saying that when you’re in a certain industry and then specifically choose to do something within that industry but without following industry expectations, it’s going to raise some eyebrows. I mean shouldn’t I be on the side of TRADITIONAL PUBLISHING?! Shouldn’t I HATE Amazon and CreateSpace?

    Maybe. But I don’t.

    I hadn’t faced much interrogation over my self-pubbing decision until I had lunch with an editor a few months ago. She looked me straight in the eye and asked me why I didn’t traditionally publish. And I knew the question was more than that. It was her asking me why I avoided giving her and her industry my business and instead hopped over to Amazon, the bully on her playground. Was I indicating that I didn’t trust their skills? Was I showing my true colors? Was I making a statement?

    There are a number of reasons that I chose to self-publish. Sadly for all of you readers looking for a dose of entertainment, none of those reasons are malicious or argument-inducing. But still, it’s time to talk about it. It’s time to share why I published the way I published…

    1. I needed it NOW. I began work on The Extroverted Writer last January. I had effectively established as an agent and deveopled a following, particularly with my marketing advice. But how long was this image going to last? Was I going to tire

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  • January 1, 2014

    My Publishing Predictions for 2014

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    I sometimes hate reading people’s predictions for the new year, since they tend to be incredibly safe (“a new author will arise and start selling well”) or so obvious a moron could have guessed it (“it will rain a lot in Oregon”). But I enjoy the notion of trying to guess what will happen, since I’ve spent my life in this business, and I tend to try and stay ahead of the curve. So here are my un-safe, non-obvious thoughts on what may happen this year…

    1. Amazon is going to start a chain of stores. Maybe it’ll be in airports, maybe they’ll start micro-stores like the kiosks you see selling headphones and chargers in airport terminals, but Amazon NEEDS to find an outlet for their Amazon-branded books. No brick and mortar store will touch them, and they need a presence in paper somewhere.

    2. Barnes & Noble is going to be sold but remain in business. Okay, I don’t have ANY insider information, even though my wife worked for them for years. We all know B&N is struggling. They may sell off their Nook business (and I’m a huge fan of my Nook, as I’ve noted on this blog several times), but I don’t think America’s largest book retailer will go under. Instead, I’m wondering if the good folks at Microsoft (who propped up the Nook with an infusion of cash two years ago) might buy the entire chain. Someone will.

    3. We’re going to see a bunch of publisher mergers. Hear me out: the rise of ebook readers led to a flood of category novels. That in turn led to the creation of countless smaller publishing houses — start-up companies that focused on one genre. But with ebook sales gone flat, and dedicated e-readers failing due to tablets, a bunch of those semi-successful smaller houses are about to be taken over by the Random Houses and HarperCollins of

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