Archive for the ‘Indie Publishing’ Category

PRE-ORDER GHOST HOLD NOW

Yes, it’s true. You can actually pre-order GHOST HOLD: BOOK TWO OF THE PSS CHRONICLES in both e-book and paperback formats now, three months before its September 2013 release.  But don’t delay, because this offer only lasts this month JUNE 1ST-JULY 1ST 2013.

How is this possible, when Amazon doesn’t let Indie Authors create a pre-order feature through them?

Thanks to the magic of KICKSTARTER, an extremely reliable crowdfunding site which allows me to put GHOST HOLD up for pre-order and simultaneously raise the funds to produce the book at the highest quality level possible.

ripleypatton_ghosthold_ebook_final

Not sure about crowdfunding? Well, if you’ve read and loved GHOST HAND, that is exactly how the book was funded and produced. And every backer got the book they’d hoped for AND the satisfaction of knowing they’d helped make it a reality.

If you’ve been eagerly awaiting the SECOND BOOK IN THE PSS CHRONICLES, I encourage you to consider backing the GHOST HOLD Kickstarter Project today. Backing is very simple and only involves signing up with Kickstarter and having an active Amazon account (or creating one).

SPECIAL BACKER PERKS

Backers were the first to see the new Ghost Hold Cover at its release on June 15th.

Backers of the project will also receive a sneak peek of chapter 1 (already released), chapter 2 (at $2000 mark) and chapter 3 (final goal $2,500) of Ghost Hold.

WHAT IF THE PROJECT DOESN’T MAKE IT?

Well, it’s possible, but not probable. Last year, GHOST HAND obtained 110% of its funding, and GHOST HOLD is already ahead of the game in that regard. In only the first six days, GHOST HOLD is already 39% funded. Projects which are this funded this early, are 93% likely to make their goal.

But, if everyone assumes it will make it, or that other people will pledge so they don’t need to, it could fail.

If that happens, the publication of GHOST HOLD might be severely delayed as I seek out other ways to acquire the funds to do it right.

So, if you want GHOST HOLD as soon as possible, please back the project, even if only for a little, because every dollar counts.

Thank you so much for all your amazing support.

Ripley Patton

 

 

When Agents Fail

 

Of course, the idealistic dream of traditional publishing goes like this; Writer meets agent. Agent loves book. Agent sells book in high-stakes auction. Publisher makes book. Book sells millions.

And sometimes it happens like that. We’ve all heard those stories, J. K. Rowling being the most current and over-worked one.

But what about when the dream doesn’t go like that?

Of course, the theory is if your book doesn’t get nabbed up and put through that process, then it just wasn’t meant to be. There wasn’t a market for it. Or the book wasn’t good enough. You should go write another one, or several more, and try it all over again in a few years.

But there is another scenario that isn’t talked about much. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever read a blog post about it. What happens when your book begins that process and stalls somewhere along the way?

When The Publishers Aren’t Biting.

For example, I had a friend who landed an agent for her novel in August 2010. I was thrilled for her, and watched her blog with bated breath. There were a few posts about edits and revisions. But her last blog post was November of 2010. Since then she’s completely dropped off the map. No news about her book. No news about its progress. No news about other projects she might be writing. If I had to guess, I’d say that her agent didn’t sell her book, and that she’s discouraged and doesn’t want to talk about it.

Sometimes agents fail, but the onus of that failure somehow falls on the author, not the agent.  As writers, we’ve been taught to worship the “traditional” publishing process. Therefore, it can’t be the process that has failed, it must be we who have failed. If it has worked for other writers, but it hasn’t worked for us, then there must be something wrong with us.

When The Agent Gives Bad Advice.

Here’s another example. I have a friend who pitched a book at a Con and a publisher was immediately interested. They asked for the full manuscript, and she later got “The Call.” So, like any good writer, she went seeking an agent to help represent her interests in her book deal. She aimed high, because, hey, she already had a publisher and that is an agent’s dream. And she landed a VERY high profile agent.

But the agent really felt like she could get a better deal with a better publisher. She encouraged my friend to shop her book around. Two years later, they had no other offers, and when they went back to the original publisher of interest they said, “No thanks. That ship has sailed.”

My friend lost her book deal. Her agent completely failed her. But she doesn’t talk about it and would never mention it publicly because it would hurt her career to mention how a prominent agent failed her. I’m not sure I understand why it works that way, but it does. Thankfully, my friend is working on a new book now that she is planning to self-publish, for obvious reasons.

Think these are just flukes? Want to believe that surely if you land an agent, they will do their job, and you will do yours, and all your writerly dreams will come true.

When the Process Breaks Down. 

I’d like to tell you about another writer friend of mine. He landed an agent several years ago and had all kinds of work coming down the pipe. Novels. A collection of short stories. But at some point, everything started falling apart. He had a disagreement about editing on one project and the whole deal was dropped. Another project was postponed indefinitely because the editor left the publishing house mid-way through the project. None of these were problems with the books my friend had written. They were roadblocks in the traditional process. But my friend got so depressed and discouraged he actually stopped writing. He stopped writing for good. Well, that only lasted about five months, because a writer is a writer, but the point is- the process wasn’t working the way we’ve all been told it would. The fairy tale way. The J. K. Rowling way.

Finally, I will tell you about another writer friend. And yes, I have a lot of writerly friends, and I’m not making any of this up.

When the Books Don’t Sell. 

I have another friend who landed an agent and a three book deal. She was over the moon, and I was over the moon for her.  The first book was written and quickly went to print, but the second and third had to be pumped out at a very fast pace, and as the mother of small children, my friend found that very challenging. But she did it. She put her nose to the grind-stone and wrote for all she was worth for several years.

But during that first year, her first book didn’t sell very well. It didn’t sell terribly. It just didn’t jump off the shelves like the Big Six hope their books will. It was a good book in an unusual genre. It just hand’t found it’s audience yet.

The publishers were disappointed. They began to pull their promotion time and effort from the book, even as I my friend slaved away on the second and third book in her series. She was busy writing books and neglecting her family for something the publisher had lost its faith in. She was contractually obligated to write, and the publisher was contractually obligated to publish her, but the very heart and soul and joy of the process had been squashed out of it.

My friend became very discouraged about her books and her writing career.  She did finish all three books and is now trying to regroup and decide how to proceed in the future. How to avoid trapping herself again in a scenario where the impatience of a publisher could crush her motivation, and heart, and future book sales.

When the Dream Isn’t Sweet.

Now, I am not saying any of this will happen to you, or that you should not seek an agent or go the traditional publishing route. I am also NOT saying that I consider any of my writer friends failures. I DON’T. I do believe that the system they trusted and expected to support them, didn’t. What I AM saying is, “Sometimes the dream is sweet. And sometimes it isn’t.” I would rather writers go into any publishing scenario with their eyes wide open, than to think that getting an agent is the answer to everything. And for some reasons, writers don’t talk about the negative side of the traditional route because we all think it will jinx the magic for us or something.

The truth is publishing is changing. I suspect that the scenarios mentioned above happen more than we know, and are perhaps happening more and more often.

I don’t know all the perils of self-publishing, because I am only on the beginning of that road. However, when I look at the scenarios above, many of them could be avoided by self or indie publishing.

I do know, for myself, control is important. I intend to be the captain of my own destiny.

And I’ll try to keep you posted on how that works out.

 

What do Traditional Publishing and the Musical Annie have in Common?

More than you might think.

Image that you spent two years making something amazing, and beautiful and important. Imagine that is was a part of you, that you carried it around inside of you and it grew out of your life and your experiences. Imagine that you labored long and hard reworking and perfecting it, making it the best that it could be, and you’ve finally given birth to it. It is now a living, breathing reality. A finished manuscript.

Now imagine that as soon as it is born, you take that manuscript to the nearest orphanage (a good one, you know, because you researched it on the internet) and you dump it on the steps and you walk away from it, leaving it for someone else to name, and dress, and hone, and own, and raise.

First, you’ll be lucky if they take it off your hands, this most precious possession of yours. It may not be the kind of thing people want these days. It might be the wrong color, or flavor, or genre, or length. They may give it back and say it isn’t good enough or it just isn’t “what they are looking for at the moment.” They may tell you to put it back in your womb and work on it some more. But hey,  you treated it like something you didn’t want, so now they can too. It’s not like you could raise it yourself (or you would have), so you’re sort of at their mercy.

If they do take it, they’ll pay you a little something. A token payment. Something to assuage your guilt, but you’ll have to pay them back later when the book grows up and starts making a living. This isn’t indentured servitude, even if it sounds like it. That sort of thing is clearly illegal. This is called Royalties and, as you can see by the name, you should like it.

So, now they have your baby, but don’t worry. It’s going to be an “open” adoption. You will get to see your book occasionally. They might ask your advice on the title or the cover, but they probably won’t take it. You see, their marketers know best. The best way to make a book is to make it like all the other books out there that people like. Not too original. Not too different. This is a big orphanage and they don’t like to take risks. Their job is to move books, and move them when they’re still young, and new and cute.

Eventually, out your book goes into the world. Your name is on it, but it doesn’t actually belong to you anymore. You don’t get to set the price. You don’t get to choose where it sells and how. You don’t control how it is marketed. Sure you can drum up some promotion yourself. In fact, you better, because the orphanage has a whole lot of other babies coming down the chute and yours is already fading into the background. And as far as any money that book makes, you get a very small slice of the pie.

If your book is very fortunate, and it gets adopted by someone like that rich guy in Annie, (also known as the New York Times Bestseller List) obviously you have made a good choice in not raising it yourself. Your book will be the poster child for adopted books, and you will be the poster author. Everyone will look at you and say, “See, the system really works,” and there will be a rush of bright-eyed new authors hurrying out to dump their books on the steps of orphanages everywhere.

But more likely, your book will sell poorly to moderately well, especially if you are a new author and it is your first book. A book, and more importantly, a writing career, is like any worthwhile thing. It takes time to grow and mature and build it’s appeal. So, it is possible that your book will languish in the orphanage of low sales for a time, and that is a death knell for any book raised in traditional publishing. They don’t have much time or patience for that sort of thing. If your book doesn’t sell like gang-busters right away (generally, in the first month. Definitely, in the first year), then I hate to tell you this, but they are going to bury your book. Your child will not be Annie. It will be all the other kids in that orphanage that are probably still there. They are going to stop printing your book. They are going to stop marketing it. They are going to take the copies back from the bookstores, and yank their covers off, and give them away for free.

They are going to kill your darling with no more thought or remorse than any big corporation whose job is to make money, not nurture books. Oh, don’t get me wrong. Big publishers do nurture the “Annie” books that pay them big dividends right away. Dividends they can show share-holders and investors. But their primary goal is not to nurture your career or book. That is always secondary to their own business interests.

For years now, adopting out our books and putting ourselves at the mercy of the “orphanage steps” has been the only option writers have had, because we just didn’t have the resources to raise our books ourselves. And then when we finally did, we were told that real writers don’t do that. Raise your book yourself? How mundane. Obviously, only the poorest and most desperate of writers would stoop so low.

But recently all that changed.

Now, imagine a world where you could raise your book yourself. Not just one book, but an entire family of books. A world where all the resources you needed were at your fingertips. The same cover designers and editors and marketers that the big publishers uses, you can find them on the internet and hire them. And this time you actually get to have control of the people you are hiring to produce your book, rather than them keeping you out of the loop.

That same “loan” or advance you were going to get. You can give it to yourself, or source it from friends and fans through venues like Kickstarter.

Those beautiful, shiny paperback books and slick e-books? You can have them made yourself.

The book title. You get to choose it. The cover. You get to help design it. The marketing and promotion. Yes, you have to  get to do it.

If your book sells a million copies right out of the chute, Yay for you. You get to keep a majority of the money (instead of a small stipend). And, you still own the rights! Forever.

If your book takes a while to build an audience, there is no one breathing down your neck threatening to pull that book from production. No one discouraging you to write the next book in that series. Or pushing you to write it too fast. No one steering your career in the direction they think it should go, instead of the direction your writerly heart wants to go. No one saying you can’t write in another genre, or you can’t endorse that, or you can’t sell your book in that venue.

And yes, the down-side of raising your own books is that the responsibility ultimately lies only with you.

The good news is, if your books aren’t doing well, you have the control and power to change whatever you want without asking anyone’s permission. You get to learn how to raise your own baby the best way you can as you both travel the journey together.

Will that take more work than adopting your book out? Undoubtedly. Will it be more rewarding and fulfilling. I think so.

For myself personally, I was the most depressed I have ever been in my writing career when I started “farming” my baby out to agents and publishers. And of all my writerly friends who have published traditionally, I can honestly only think of one who is openly happy with the outcome.

Contrast that with this. Of all the people I know who have indie published, I haven’t heard one say they were unhappy they’d gone that route. Maybe that is simply because when we choose something and we have control over it, that choice belongs to us. We have OWNERSHIP of it, and that alone makes us happier with the outcome. I don’t know.

I can tell you this. Since I have decided to indie publish my YA novel Ghost Hand, I have been more excited about the project than ever before, more excited than when I was writing it (and that was pretty exciting). I had a blast helping design the cover. I have enjoyed networking and  researching the resources. I feel like the fate of my book and my writing career is in my hands, and they are capable hands and becoming more capable daily. I am confident that I am currently building and investing in skills and knowledge that will serve me for my entire career. A career I will direct and control in my own time and in my own way.

Is raising my own child and grabbing control of my own fate worth trading 12.5% royalties for 70% royalties?

Seems like a good trade to me.

What do you think?

Stay tuned for the next post in my Indie series coming soon: When Agents Fail.

 

My Declaration of Indie-Pendence

 

Many of you have probably noticed a trend in my blog posts lately. A series about Kickstarter. Frequent posts about self-publishing. Introspection about the usefulness and quirks of social media. You might have been thinking that it wasn’t just coincidence. You might have been wondering what was going on behind the scenes with Ripley Patton and her YA novel Ghost Hand. At least, I hope you’ve been wondering.

And I couldn’t think of a better day to make this announcement.

I am going Indie. 

Now, some of you will know what that means. A few more of you will think you know what it means, and some of you are still going “Huh?” but that’s okay. I am perfectly prepared to tell you what it means to me. And what it DOESN’T MEAN.

1) It doesn’t mean I am throwing in the towel or giving up on my book or my writing career.

2) It doesn’t mean I wasn’t a good enough writer to make it with a traditional publisher.

3). It doesn’t mean I am going to produce a shoddy book with a bad cover and poor editing that no one will want to read.

4) It doesn’t mean I’m happy to wallow in obscurity forever because I didn’t have the balls to navigate the broken gatehouse that traditional publishing is fast becoming.

At the very basic level, it means that I am going to publish my book myself. Yes, that dreaded compound word “Self-Published” which many writers consider a death knell.

So why am I doing it?

There are so many reasons, probably too many to list, but I have decided to do a blog series on the primary reasons I am declaring my Indie-pendence. And reason Numero Uno is:

TIMING

They say “Timing is everything.” I’m not sure if it’s everything, but it certainly is A LOT. I am pretty confident that I could get my book Ghost Hand published the traditional method eventually. It has had some agent interest. Published authors have read it and thought enough of it to refer it to agents (several times). But, even if I found an agent tomorrow, it would take them months to years to shop Ghost Hand around. Then, once a publisher picks it up (If a publisher picks it up) it would take a year or two before it was ready to be published.

AT the minimum, it would take 18 months before Ghost Hand would see the light of day if I go the traditional route.

I have done the research and begun to lay the groundwork, and I could publish Ghost Hand as a quality Indie book (with a professional cover, a professional edit, and file conversion) easily by the fall of 2012 (about three months from now).

So, you might ask. What’s my rush? Good things come to those who wait, right? Doesn’t it take a long time to make a good book? Yes, it does. It takes a long time to write a good book (two and half years for Ghost Hand), but the truth is it doesn’t take that long to publish a good book anymore. Thanks to technology, books are faster to create than ever before in history. But the old machine of traditional publishing is still a slow moving dinosaur. It hasn’t caught up with technology. And while I waited that 18 months for my book to get made, I would be losing 18 months of potential sales from Ghost Hand.

The rush is this- I have been writing fiction and honing my skills for seven years (See, I’m in a huge hurry:) and made less than $1500 total. My family and husband have patiently been waiting for my writing to bear financial fruit. The economy has taken a hit, and so have we, and I honestly don’t know how much longer I can write without any income and keep justifying that. Writing is what I love. It is my soul’s passion, and I would do it even if I never made another dime. But a dime would really help. A dime this year, not three years from now.

It is time for me to make money writing.

Another issue of TIMING is what is happening in the publishing industry right now. You might not be aware, but there is a Revolution going on around you. A revolution of the way books are created and distributed. An e-book revolution.

E-book sales in January 2010 accounted for 10% of all book sales. In January 2011 that was almost 25%. While I don’t believe (or hope) that paper and hardback books will ever disappear, the wave of the future is e-books, and e-book sales are expected to explode on the global market over the next year or so. In New Zealand, a new paperback costs $25. A new hardback upwards of $50. Can you imagine what will happen when New Zealanders start buying e-readers (which they have) and discover they can get books for 99 cents to $5. And there are countries all over the world that are going to discover that.

Yes, traditional publishers are publishing e-books too, not just Indie authors. But the truth is their attitudes about how e-books should be published, the rights for the author, and the financial cut for the author are outdated, arcane, and frankly, not fair. Traditional publishers want the rights to their author’s e-books forever. For that forever legacy, they are willing to pay authors 25% of the royalties on an e-book it cost them pennies to produce.

An Indie author, on the other hand, usually gets a 70-85% cut of the royalties from their self-published e-book, AND they still own the rights to it forever- for their kids and their grandkids to make dividends off of.

I honestly don’t know if there is a better time to get into Indie e-book publishing than right now.

We are on the verge of a revolution, and I know which side I want to be on THIS TIME.

You see, during the American Revolution, my family were Loyalists. They were all for staying under the reign of the English and had to move to Canada out of embarassment after the war was over.

But this time, I want to be on the rebel side. I want to be on the side that is taking risks. The side of the New World of publishing. A world that isn’t stuck in and impeded by an old paradigm of royalty and monarchy and the way things have always been done.

I want to be on my own side.

And I want to win.

Stay tuned for part two of my Indie Series: CONTROL

 

Six Hidden Costs of Self-Publishing

Everyone knows that publishing is cheap these days. Technology has afforded us a wonderful advantage. Books can be created electronically without all the trappings of dead trees, and paper, and ink and a printing press. Once, long ago, the printing press revolutionized the world. That day has come and gone. A new day is here.

What is that new day? Printing and publishing can be done by anyone, anywhere with use of a personal PC and the internet. That is all it takes, and it is virtually free. But is it really free?

Well, while it is true that anyone can type up a story or novel on a word processor and immediately post it to the internet or run it through a publishing venue like Lulu or CreateSpace for free, what you generally get with that method is a product worth what it cost to make–Nothing. There is an old adage that says, “You get what you pay for,” and in this case, it holds true.

That is not to say that the cost of publishing hasn’t reduced significantly. It has. But producing a quality product is never free. There are costs to self-publishing, just like there are costs to traditional publishing, and it pays to know ahead of time what you’ll be paying for. To that end, I’ve produced a list below of common costs of self-publishing and each one’s average expense.

1. Cover Design – $200-$500

 Maybe you are a writer who just happens to have a degree in graphic design. If that is the case, you can probably do this yourself. But doing it yourself without any know-how or experience can land you with a very poor cover. And covers sell books (or they don’t). Every successful indie author I’ve read counsels self-publishing writers NOT TO SKIMP on the cover. Pay someone to do this if you don’t have the skill.

2. A Professional Edit – $800-$1000

You may be a good editor of your own work. You may even have friends who are good at copy editing. If so, by all means, use their expertise. But nothing makes a manuscript shine like an objective edit, and by “objective” I mean someone who doesn’t know you or have any stake in your book.  To have a novel-length manuscript professionally edited takes about 4-5 weeks and costs a good wad of cash, but it is well worth it. Again, EVERY successful indie author I’ve read says “Don’t skimp on the professional edit of your work.”

3. ISBNs – $150-$250 

An ISBN is an International Standard Book Number- a ten or thirteen digit number that all books have (traditionally) for sales identification and cataloging by book stores and libraries. Now, interestingly enough, in many countries ISBNs are free. After all, it is just a number. It doesn’t cost anything to generate or produce it. Someone, somewhere, pushes a button and a data base generates an ISBN (or a batch of them) that isn’t in use. And numbers are infinite so it isn’t like we are going to run out of ISBNs any time soon. But in America, there is a monopoly on ISBNs. Only one company “owns” and issues them, and they charge a lot for a few little numbers.  The company is called Bowker and they charge $150 dollars for a single ISBN. Of course, the numbers get cheaper if you buy them in batches. You can get 10 for only $250, 100 for $575, or a 1000 for $1000. In case you didn’t notice, this pay scale is a direct effort to gouge indie authors who can’t afford to buy big batches.

Now, you might argue that you can get an ISBN free through CreateSpace and some of the other self-publishing venues. And that is true, but as always, you get what you pay for- Nothing. The ISBNs offered by CreateSpace belong to them, not you. They are the registered publisher of your book if the ISBN was issued to them by Bowker. If you decide to publish your book elsewhere or in another format, you’ll have to get another ISBN because CreateSpace owns the one they “gave” you.

4, Business Costs – $50-$300

If you are going to self-publish, it is a good idea to publish under an “Imprint” or company name, rather than your own. First, it looks a little less narcissistic and more professional than having a book by Joe Brown published by Joe Brown. Second, creating an imprint and registering yourself as a sole proprietorship business can protect you financially and help you come tax time.  Depending on your location and the laws of your state, costs to set up an imprint business vary. You will also probably want to register your company name and have a logo designed to represent your book imprint. It is also a good idea to open a separate bank account for your business.

5. File Conversion – $50-$80

While it is true, you don’t have to kill trees to make books anymore, you do have to convert a few files. Your e-book has to be formatted to fit a Kindle, and a Nook, and an Ipad.  There are a few programs out there that will do this for free. PressBooks is a new one on the scene, though I haven’t tested it. And file conversion can be learned, if you have enough hair to tear most of it out. But most  successful indie authors pay to have someone in-the-know convert their files for them.

Again, you may point out that CreateSpace and other publishing venues will convert your files for you for free. Yes, they will, and again, you get what you pay for.  They will convert your work and post the files directly to their website, but they will not give you copies of those converted files. The converted files belong to them. You take your book somewhere else to sell it and you have to convert those files again.  Better to pay someone and own the converted files of your work.

6. Printing Books – $600 – $800 for 100. 

Now, maybe you’re only going to publish your book as an e-book, but most authors I know want to hold their book in their hands. They want to see it for real in the real world.  They want to put it on a book shelf and give it to their friends. Plus, it is always a good idea to have some review copies to give away or to take to Cons.  Most authors publish some print copies of their books. And that isn’t free. Depending on what publishing venue you choose and the size of your book, the average cost is about $6-$8 dollars a book, not counting shipping costs.

 

So, as you can see, self-publishing isn’t free. On the lower end of the scale, indie publishing a novel is going to cost you around $1,850. On the upper end, it would cost you close to $3000. Not free, but still a low-level investment for something that will always be yours and can pay you royalties for a lifetime.

Have something to add? Think I’ve missed one of the hidden costs of self-publishing. Please add your comments and wisdom below.

 

ABOUT ME …

Ripley Patton lives in a 22-foot camper in the woods of Southern Illinois with a cat named Lemmy. Her two young adult children, a daughter and a son, are her favorite people. When Ripley's not out exploring nature and getting her hands dirty, she's usually reading or writing a book.

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