Category : Self-Publishing

  • November 19, 2012

    Career Planning in the Wild, Wild West

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    While on an agent’s panel at ACFW in September, I sat next to Lee Hough, one of the smartest and hardest working agents in the business. While we all fielded the typical questions we get as panelists, someone asked a question about the current state of affairs in publishing, and how agents are faring.

     I tend to take a positive, entrepreneurial, and philosophical approach when answering questions about the challenges of publishing.

    Lee, however, hit the mark when he said “It’s like the wild, wild west out there right now.” His summation about the new landscape of publishing has really stuck with me. In fact, it’s a new constant on the landscape of my daily work life these days — right alongside MacGregor Literary’s long-standing company philosophy that “good is always better than fast.”

    As positive as I try to remain, I’ll admit, it’s felt exceptionally difficult to place books and find homes for authors these past few months. Even with the successes I’ve enjoyed this year in spite of it all, it feels like I’m on more uneven ground than ever. And I know agents aren’t the only ones who feel this way.

    Marketers are constantly scrambling to orient themselves to what it takes to get readers to buy in a noisy online environment. Sales teams are faced with succeeding in spite of the literal crumbling of their brick & mortar customer base. Publicists are being asked to do more with less. Editors are overworked. Authors are no longer just invited by publishers to help market their books, but are expected to do so. In fact more and more, the strength of an author’s proposal is weighed as much for the type and number of readers they bring to the table as it is for the quality of their writing. Maybe more.

    Top that off with the consideration that authors are not only competing with other authors for

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  • April 19, 2012

    Thursdays with Amanda: How to Hit the Kindle Best Seller List

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    Amanda Luedeke Literary AgentAmanda 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.

    Amazon’s KDP Select program (part of their Kindle Direct Publishing platform) comes with a lot of strings. First, the author must agree not to have their book published elsewhere for a period of 90 days. Second, they must agree to have their book be part of the Lending Library Program. And third, they have to be ok with the fact that there’s no set structure for payment of titles lent out through the Lending Library. You basically just get a portion of the money pool based on how many books you lent in comparison to the total number of books lent (quite a mouthful).

    In exchange for all of this, you get 5 days to offer your book for free on Amazon.

    Is it worth it? Absolutely. But only if you’re smart about it.

    Amazon is designed in such a way that the more an item sells, the more air time it gets. And the more air time it gets, the more it sells. This happens through their recommendation program (that list of Amazon Recommendations that appears at the bottom of a product page) and their “Customers who bought this also bought…” program. When your book hits these promotional venues, it can find fans who never knew you or it even existed. And if priced right, shoppers will throw your book in their cart, assuming that since they like Joe Schmoe, they’ll like you.

    So what does this have to do with KDP Select? Everything. KDP Select is the quickest way to get your book air time. When it gets air time, it will start selling. And when it starts selling as few as 300 or 400 copies a

    Continue Reading "Thursdays with Amanda: How to Hit the Kindle Best Seller List"
  • April 19, 2012

    Thursdays with Amanda: How to Hit the Kindle Best Seller List

    by

    Amanda Luedeke Literary AgentAmanda 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.

    Amazon’s KDP Select program (part of their Kindle Direct Publishing platform) comes with a lot of strings. First, the author must agree not to have their book published elsewhere for a period of 90 days. Second, they must agree to have their book be part of the Lending Library Program. And third, they have to be ok with the fact that there’s no set structure for payment of titles lent out through the Lending Library. You basically just get a portion of the money pool based on how many books you lent in comparison to the total number of books lent (quite a mouthful).

    In exchange for all of this, you get 5 days to offer your book for free on Amazon.

    Is it worth it? Absolutely. But only if you’re smart about it.

    Amazon is designed in such a way that the more an item sells, the more air time it gets. And the more air time it gets, the more it sells. This happens through their recommendation program (that list of Amazon Recommendations that appears at the bottom of a product page) and their “Customers who bought this also bought…” program. When your book hits these promotional venues, it can find fans who never knew you or it even existed. And if priced right, shoppers will throw your book in their cart, assuming that since they like Joe Schmoe, they’ll like you.

    So what does this have to do with KDP Select? Everything. KDP Select is the quickest way to get your book air time. When it gets air time, it will start selling. And when it starts selling as few as 300 or 400 copies a

    Continue Reading "Thursdays with Amanda: How to Hit the Kindle Best Seller List"
  • March 12, 2012

    How do you negotiate a book contract?

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    Kevin wrote to say, "I'm about to negotiate my own book contract! What is important for me to know?"

    If you're at the stage of negotiating your own publishing contract, congratulations. It means you've created a strong proposal, shopped it to publishing houses, and found an editor interested in your work. Those are huge hurdles, so you've already done well. Now what's going to happen is that the publisher is going to approach you with some details and numbers. Let me offer a handful of thoughts for you…

    1. Have a Plan. A contract negotiation isn't just a bunch of random conversations, helping two people move things forward. It's one piece of a larger discussion about your book — how both sides view its value, what it will pay, how it's going to be produced and marketed, etc. Therefore, do your homework before you go into the negotiation. You should have researched what the market is paying (so you get a fair deal, but you don't ask for the moon), you should know what rights you want to keep or give away, and you should have a familiarity with the issues that will be involved in a publishing contract. All of this takes time (and all of this is why authors get agents who, presumably, know this stuff).

    2. Take a Positive Approach. Too many people seem to have learned all their negotiation strategies from watching television dramas — the two high-powered lawyers point fingers, pound the table, make demands, and generally act like jerks. That's not an approach that's going to work very often in publishing. From my point of view, you have to develop a relationship with the person you're going to negotiate with. That way there's a sense of trust on both sides. You really want to establish some rapport with the person you're negotiating with, so that you both keep in mind the big picture

    Continue Reading "How do you negotiate a book contract?"
  • March 12, 2012

    How do you negotiate a book contract?

    by

    Kevin wrote to say, "I'm about to negotiate my own book contract! What is important for me to know?"

    If you're at the stage of negotiating your own publishing contract, congratulations. It means you've created a strong proposal, shopped it to publishing houses, and found an editor interested in your work. Those are huge hurdles, so you've already done well. Now what's going to happen is that the publisher is going to approach you with some details and numbers. Let me offer a handful of thoughts for you…

    1. Have a Plan. A contract negotiation isn't just a bunch of random conversations, helping two people move things forward. It's one piece of a larger discussion about your book — how both sides view its value, what it will pay, how it's going to be produced and marketed, etc. Therefore, do your homework before you go into the negotiation. You should have researched what the market is paying (so you get a fair deal, but you don't ask for the moon), you should know what rights you want to keep or give away, and you should have a familiarity with the issues that will be involved in a publishing contract. All of this takes time (and all of this is why authors get agents who, presumably, know this stuff).

    2. Take a Positive Approach. Too many people seem to have learned all their negotiation strategies from watching television dramas — the two high-powered lawyers point fingers, pound the table, make demands, and generally act like jerks. That's not an approach that's going to work very often in publishing. From my point of view, you have to develop a relationship with the person you're going to negotiate with. That way there's a sense of trust on both sides. You really want to establish some rapport with the person you're negotiating with, so that you both keep in mind the big picture

    Continue Reading "How do you negotiate a book contract?"
  • March 5, 2012

    Conspirators R Us

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    If you're a regular reader of my blog, you doubtless understand this blog is, at heart, a "publishing journalism" site. Things happen in the publishing industry, and I talk about them. There are lessons for writers to learn, and I share them. Other people have opinions, and I let them offer their thoughts. That's why I found it interesting that a publisher is threatening to sue me. 
     
    You might have heard the news that Wine Press Publishing, a vanity press in the state of Washington, is in a battle with the former owner of the company, a woman named Athena Dean. You can google the topic to get all the details, which is how I found out about it. The argument basically comes down to the former owner claiming she was treated badly by a group she believes is, more or less, a fundamentalist church that has taken over the company. The current situation is an interesting study in business ethics and church governance and arcane theology, but you'd have to go somewhere else to find the details, since I've never blogged about it before. I haven't said anything about it on my corporate website, either. Nor have I written about it for any other magazine, e-zine, or journal. I could have — I mean, I'm a trained journalist, talking about the publishing industry, and the allegation that a big company that's very involved in Christian publishing has acted unfairly toward employees or tried to intimidate people is news. But I didn't. Not because I was afraid to (and yes, I've heard a couple people warn that Wine Press has used lawyers and intimidation tactics on others in the past), but because I wanted to wait and see what the facts brought out. I don't have a dog in this hunt — but I'm very interested in the hunt itself and the story surrounding it. 
     
    My sole
    Continue Reading "Conspirators R Us"
  • March 5, 2012

    Conspirators R Us

    by

     

    If you're a regular reader of my blog, you doubtless understand this blog is, at heart, a "publishing journalism" site. Things happen in the publishing industry, and I talk about them. There are lessons for writers to learn, and I share them. Other people have opinions, and I let them offer their thoughts. That's why I found it interesting that a publisher is threatening to sue me. 
     
    You might have heard the news that Wine Press Publishing, a vanity press in the state of Washington, is in a battle with the former owner of the company, a woman named Athena Dean. You can google the topic to get all the details, which is how I found out about it. The argument basically comes down to the former owner claiming she was treated badly by a group she believes is, more or less, a fundamentalist church that has taken over the company. The current situation is an interesting study in business ethics and church governance and arcane theology, but you'd have to go somewhere else to find the details, since I've never blogged about it before. I haven't said anything about it on my corporate website, either. Nor have I written about it for any other magazine, e-zine, or journal. I could have — I mean, I'm a trained journalist, talking about the publishing industry, and the allegation that a big company that's very involved in Christian publishing has acted unfairly toward employees or tried to intimidate people is news. But I didn't. Not because I was afraid to (and yes, I've heard a couple people warn that Wine Press has used lawyers and intimidation tactics on others in the past), but because I wanted to wait and see what the facts brought out. I don't have a dog in this hunt — but I'm very interested in the hunt itself and the story surrounding it. 
     
    My sole
    Continue Reading "Conspirators R Us"
  • January 27, 2012

    From Amanda: How to Format Your Manuscript for Submission and Kindle Upload

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    Amanda 2 CropAmanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent.

    First, I'd like to say I'm sorry for missing my post yesterday. I had some personal things come up and just didn't get around to it. So, we're going to take a slight detour this week, since I know there are a number of people who tune in specifically on Thursdays to hear about building author platform. And, well, we don't want them missing the next installment, now, do we?!

    So for today, I'd like to share links to a batch of really helpful tutorial videos my author, the fabulous Jill Williamson, put together. They cover everything you need to know to format your manuscript for submission.

    Formatting a Manuscript, Part 1: Page Set Up and Text– http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=boP5po6aMDk&feature=related
    Formatting a Manuscript, Part 2: Page Breaks– http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9nU1iv2v95s&feature=related
    Formatting a Manuscript, Part 3: Paragraphs– http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TwqvmdWDJto&feature=related
    Formatting a Manuscript, Part 4: Cleaning things up– http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNOj9ZR88E8&feature=related
    Formatting a Manuscript, Part 5: Page Numbers– http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UOuihsC7SyY&feature=related
    In addition to this, Jill put together a series of videos for formatting your manuscript for upload on Amazon as a Kindle ebook.
    Formatting Your Manuscript for Amazon Kindle–PART 1– http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RU2kprKRrGY&feature=related
    Using Mobipocket to Format Your Book For Kindle–PART 2– http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e4szEhEhHy4&feature=related
    They're short and to the point…excellent references for anyone getting ready to do something with that polished, perfected manuscript.
    Do you know of any tutorials to add to this list? Tell us about them!
    And tune in next Thursday when we get back to our discussion on building platforms…the topic? Platform-building blogging. See you next week!
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  • March 9, 2008

    Resources for Writers

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    I’ve got a bunch of notes and questions regarding writer resources, so let me try to get to several of them today…

    On MONEY: Patricia wrote to say, "Thanks for your recent blog post about earning money. So if a book doesn’t ‘earn out’ its advance, is the balance applied against the next book?"

    It is if your contract is cross-collateralized — that is, if all your various book advances are "basketed" into one deal. If not — if each book is on a separate contract — then no, your advance cannot be applied to your next book. 

    On REMAINDERS: DeeAnn wrote me to ask, "What does it mean to ‘remainder’ a book?"

    That’s when the publisher sells the remaining copies of your book to a book wholesaler for less than the cost of printing. It commonly happens when your book is going out of print, or when they’re down to the last 1000 copies or so, and the publisher wants to be rid of them. The books might have cost $2 to print, but they’ll sell them for $1 apiece to somebody who will buy the entire remaining stock, just to get them out of the warehouse.   

    On SELF-PUBLISHING: Gene wants to note, "The latest issue of Writers Digest is filled with ads for self-publishing. I’m on my second agent, still trying to get  published, but it takes SOOOO long. How can you convince me not to go to lulu.com and have my book for sale on Amazon tomorrow morning? When will the traditionalists speed up the process?"

    You’re right — there are a ton of self-publishing companies. Some are good, some are not. Be careful. The problem with self-publishing is not the speed, it’s the sales. If you write a book, you have to make sure the book is good (and if publishers are all turning you down, there could be a message there, Gene). You also

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