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Sunday 31 May 2015

Looking on the bright side

A lot of the chatter lately has been about the pitfalls facing independent self publishers, but what about the positive aspects of the challenge. How do I get my book out to the world, and I may have briefly touched on this in earlier blog posts.

No apologies for going back to it, whatever the pitfalls and snare that lay in wait for the unwary, the mission remains the same, to transfer the manuscript from the dusty shelf on the bookcase to the reader somewhere in the world, everywhere in the world.

A time worn piece of advice to writers slides along the lines of write about what you know, I'm not gainsaying the advice but letting the imagination run riot and extrapolating beyond what you know can be useful - research helps to spread the story base a bit further.

I'm working more on what happens after the story is written, and as mentioned earlier, the negative stories are rampant across the Internet, and bloggers like myself spread the doom and gloom. Ostensibly to pass on the wisdom of others, but honestly, there is always a feeling of there but for the grace of God...

I have so far escaped the clutches of the predators for a very simple reason. I haven't the money to chuck at the situation and I say so far deliberately. I am not immune to the wiles and machinations of the predatory characters out there.

My money is as good as anyone else's and just as vulnerable; and cold calling, hard selling and
mis-selling are the stumbling blocks in my way as much as any other writer, and it doesn't take long to stretch the bank balance beyond its limits.

A colourful statement may look pretty but there are some things, and my bank statements is one that ideally should be black and white.

I'm doing it again, slipping down the slope of negativity,

The book is done, editing and proofreading are sorted and the cover image is ready to proclaim your work to the world, so where do we go from here... the road to publication starts, actually, scrub that, the road heads off in a new direction.

Research is the key, always, check the details, follow your hunch and never, never disregard that feeling in the pit of your stomach. You know the one, it goes flip-flop and gurgles embarrassingly at quiet moments.

The choice is becoming wider, the traditional road is always there, via an agent or direct to the publisher,
Follow the submission guidelines and go for it, The Vanities (still awaiting the bonfire that will commit them and their charlatan ways to history) remain to snare the unwary, and the myriad variations of Assisted, Hybrid, and Supported publisher are waiting in the wings, and beyond them is the independent self-publisher.

Hugh Howey and Amanda Hocking have been instrumental in changing the perspective, the established view that the self-published author is the lost, lonely desperate soul with book sales that reach out to friends, workmates and whatever surviving generations of the family remain, or digitally as a free download are hoovered off the web in their hundreds (but do the downloaders ever read them?)

The Internet has definitely thrust the power of publishing into the hands of the people,The argument against the democratisation of publishing was that a torrent of badly produced rubbish would swamp the literary world and it is true, up to a point, 

There is also spirit, courage and sheer bloody minded determination. To write off all the self-published as unworthy is itself unworthy. The tradition of self-publishing has its own luminaries among the greats of literature (and who the put the naysayers in charge anyway?)

The Self published author is in illustrious company, the epitome of the DIY publisher is the poet William Blake, who self-published some of his best known works, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell; Songs of innocence, Songs of experience. He wrote the text, designed the illustrations and engraved them on to copper plates for printing. Jane Austen suffered rejection by publishers and after reworking Sense and Sensibility went the vanity route and paid Thomas Egerton to publish the book.

They are not alone; Mark Twain, Marcel Proust, Bernard Shaw, Edgar Allen Poe, Anais Nin,   Beatrix Potter self-published the Adventures of Peter Rabbit, Joyce Joyce did the same with Ulysses. Charles Dickens followed suit with A Christmas Carol, after a dispute with his traditional publisher over the sales of Martin Chuzzlewit

Virginia Woolf, and her husband, Leonard Woolf solved the problem by becoming their own publishers and established the Hogarth Press, a road followed by some of their contemporaries.

There is always dross around the gold, and the idea that the traditional publishing has a monopoly on the gold is ridiculous. They have no more guarantee the material they publish is gold than the rest of us. I always find Mark Coker's analogy of throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks, a useful image. The stacks of remaindered books, and bookshops is a testimony to the unpredictability of the literary world.

There is a strange alchemy involved in a successful book, and sometimes the missing ingredient is time, giving the book time to reach out and make contact. An advantage the eBook has over the traditional print format, and the hybrid, the print book that survives the frequent purges of the book shop shelves. Print on Demand.

Traditional print requires an immediate reaction, if the marketing fails to hit the sweet spot and the copies are not flying off the shelves as fast as the books are stacked up then the slide to oblivion can begin within weeks of publication, shelf space is so tight.

Print on Demand requires no shelf space, the storage is counted in Kb or Mb, not inches or centimetres. There is no limit to shelf life, so the book remains permanently available. For the independent the marketing can be an ongoing process, tweaked and adjusted to suit the current circumstances.

We are not restricted by the physical shelf life of the bookshop, where the current best-seller is always on the point of being nudged out of the way by the next best thing. We have time; to build our platform and develop our strategies.

Monday 18 May 2015

New Kid on the Block?

The newbie author entering the world of writing and publishing must feel like the new kid who's just arrived at a new school half way through the term, All around are people who know people,,cliques of friends and shared interests. Unlimited agendas, some up front and in your face, others tucked away hiding like dark secrets, revealed only by the results of action, never spoken.

A bewildering array assaulting the senses, and somehow, somewhere, the newbie has to start establishing themselves in the midst of this apparent chaos. Chaos it is, the dynamics of the relationships are spinning beyond the newbies reach, then after a few tentative steps the first contact is made.

Sunday 10 May 2015

The Target for tonight!

It's what you are aiming for, the target is to find a publisher, someone who will travel with you and share the journey from manuscript text to published novelist.

Sounds straightforward, and it should be, but as ever there are the unscrupulous, devious and downright nasty characters in the big bad world out there!

Wednesday 6 May 2015

Missed that one!

Wrapped up and put to bed, but with more to come, and for a moment I thought it might be while longer before I unwrapped the Author Solutions saga again, until I realised I had missed a couple and David Gaughran posted the Inside story of Author Solutions and Friends. Alongside a timely reminder of some of the practises listed in a blog by Emily Suess; the list below is by no means comprehensive;
  • Non-payment of royalties
  • Making out-of-print works available for sale without the author's consent
  • Excessive mark-up on advertising and review services
  • Failure to deliver marketing services as promised
  • Breach of Contract
  • Informing the customers that add-ons will cost hundreds of dollars and charging their credit cards thousands
  • Shaming and banning customers who go public with their stories