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Sunday, January 22–Panel Members:

  • Phil Sexton–Moderator of Panel; Publisher, Writer’s Digest
  • Karen Cooper–Publisher, Adams Media
  • Michelle Howry–Senior Editor, Touchstone (an impring of Simon & Schuster)
  • Donya Dickerson–Senior Editor, McGraw Hill

A. What is the most common mistake writers make in nonfiction proposals?

  • Too much emphasis on the manuscript.
  • Not enough evidence of need. Why does this book need to be in the marketplace?
  • Not enough emphasis on the author platform.
  • Not enough competitive analysis. Need to do research: a) Where will this book go on the shelf in Barnes & Noble? b) How does this book contrast with competitive titles? c) What does this book provide that no other book does? Check publicity volume of competition and occupied shelf space in bookstores. Also check Book of the Month Club offerings and other visible signs of a book’s sales/popularity.
  • Writer is not realistic about competition for books by a “new author.” In proposal/query, presents him/herself as “the next ___________ (fill in the blank with a famous author’s name).” This approach brands the writer as inexperienced and unrealistic. Instead, the writer should answer: a) Here’s how my book fits into the market, and b) Here’s how my book differs …”

The approximate length of a nonfiction book proposal should be thirty pages, not including any sample chapters.

Include suggestions about where book could be sold outside of the trade (ex., Walmart, Costco …) Research should include publishers and where they sell.

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B. How important is the author’s writing in nonfiction?

  • Depends on the imprint, the book idea, and how hungry the editor is for an acquisition.
  • Authors should not have someone else write the proposal. Both the manuscript and the proposal need to have the same style. Editors can tell if they’ve been written by different people.
  • Editors/publishers vary regarding how important the writing is. If the concept is great, the quality of writing is not as important. Writing can always be beefed up through input from agents, editorial staff, or even ghost writers contracted through publishers.
  • The author’s platform plays a role in how important the writing is. The more the author already has in place to help sell the book, the less important the actual writing becomes.
  • Editors differ with respect to the weight applied to a) good writing, b) promotion, and c) platform.

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C. How has the view of self-publishing changed?

  • All three editors said they would enthusiastically look at proposals that included self-published books.
  • Writers should keep in mind that, if an author is doing well with self-published book saes, then there is a strong case to be made for not going with a traditional publisher.
  • However, publishers can offer access to additional distribution channels, unique book promotions, etc.

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D. What is the most compelling proposal you ever received, and why?

  • Wreck This Journal. Original proposal was a mock-up that was intended to be torn apart (as is the final product). Sometimes editors have to do a hard-sell job with odd ideas like this one, when channels like Barnes & Noble and Amazon have decided to passed on a project.
  • The Starbuck’s Experience. Author had gained full access to Starbuck’s operations. (The publisher was instrumental in changing the title from the original.)
  • The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook. Author had secured permission from J.K. Rowling to use the Harry Potter name.
  • Retail Hell. The proposal came in as a self-help book. The publisher reworked it into a memoir.

Editors and publishers want authors who are cooperative and willing to listen, who respond positively to input, and who want to work in a partnership to produce the best quality book possible.

–Cheri’s Note: I’m now studying up on how to write a nonfiction book proposal. I will keep you posted on what I’m learning and how the process unfolds once I actually begin writing the document.–

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(Cheri’s Note: Not only is Barry Eisler a successful author  of an impressive stream of thrillers (traditionally published), but he also made publishing history in Maarch 2011 by turning down a $500,000 two-book deal with St.Martin’s Press in order, instead, to published his next novel electronically. That next novel, Detachment, was released in the fall of 2011, and you can read all about the story at:  http://www.npr.org/2011/10/07/141116856/barry-eislers-detachment-from-legacy-publishing. Hearing him speak at the conference was a huge treat!)

Day #2, Keynote Address: The New World of Publishing, and What It Means for You–Barry Eisler (www.barryeisler.com— Eisler directed us to his Web site’s section “For Writers” and then to a sub-section “Resources for Indie Writers.” I checked this out, and the information is both useful, easy to reference, and comprehensive. Anyone considering launching out in the DIY direction would benefit greatly by visiting this site. Thanks, Barry!)

Despite all of the changes taking place daily in the publishing industry, one thing has not changed. Readers still love to read and are willing to spend some amount of money to get their hands on good books.

Writers are their own CEOs. And being your own boss carries with it the responsibility of writing the best book possible (and the best edited).

Even when they’ve written the best book possible, writers need to understand the realities of the publishing world in 2012.

  • Even with a great book, making any measurable amount of money with the endeavor is not a good bet.
  • 93% of all published books (and this includes cookbooks, self-help, history, politics–everything) sell less than 1000 copies over the life of the book!
  • The average book only sells 83 copies over the life of the book.

The most important thing to Eisler is getting his books into the hands of readers as expeditiously as possible. (Traditional publishing can add years to this process, especially if the writer is new/unknown.) So, what has changed in the publishing world due to the onset (or onslaught) of digital publishing?

  • Paper books require a distribution partner, and that role has traditionally been filled by traditional publishers, which is one reason why publishers’ contracts with authors typically specify an 85% take of the book sales for the publisher.
  • Digital books, however, do not require a distribution partner. Consequently, Indie writers are now on a level plaing field with huge publishers.
  • Amazon was the first company to offer authors a direct-to-consumer marketing plan.
  • Writers now have choices regarding how they get their work into the hands of readers.
  • This, according to Eisler, makes authors the number one players in the new world of publishing.

(Eisler’s remarks were relatively brief. You can find a ton of extremely useful information “For Writers” on his Web site: www.barryeisler.com. )

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Day #2, Session 3: Seven Secrets of Successful Self-Published Authors–Keith Ogorek, Sr. VP of Global Marketing with Author Solutions. (Full disclosure: Author Solutions is the parent company of iUniverse, Inc., which has been my publishing choice for both of my novels. They helped me create beautiful products, by the way–and my second novel, Separation of Faith, is winning accolades for both the editorial quality and the production quality/cover design. Although I had a lot of input on the book’s appearance both inside and out, the iUniverse staff deserves most of the credit for those elements. And I learned a huge amount from them during the process, which will be of enormous help if I move forward with my own e-book.)

  1. Know the Target Audience. Picture the target audience–gender, age, interests, and where they go for information.
  2. Believe in Your Work. The main goal of publishing a book is to impact people in some manner through your writing. Know your strengths, and promote them.
  3. Set Deadlines for Yourself. Deadlines are important from the time the first inspiration for your book arrives in your head. One of the most important is the date you want to hold the first copy of your book in your hands. Then work backwards to set interim deadlines, coordinating with your publisher (traditional or promoted self-publishing) or with any organization helping you to make sure you understand all of the steps involved with the publishing process. Then set promotional deadlines after the book is released, marketing wherever possible at birthday or holiday parties, speaking engagements, etc. (For both of my novels, I set up a table any place I could get permission–restaurants, libraries, local fairs/festivals. You won’t believe how easy it is to find people willing to give you a little space to sell your work. But you have to be “out there” asking for the permission!)
  4. Create Timelines to Meet Your Deadline(s). Work with someone who’s familiar with the publishing process as you establish milestones. Understand all of the steps involved. Completing the manuscript is first and foremost, if you’re writing a novel. Lots of new writers tend to forget that the book should be finished before you begin any of the next steps. (Nonfiction can vary with respect to whether or not the manuscript needs to be finished first. Some agents/editors focus on the writing while others focus on the book idea and proposal. Obviously, if you’re going the DIY route, the manuscript needs to be finished before you start worrying about anything else.) Once the book is finished, then proceed with editiing, submission (whether you’re pursuing a traditional path or one of self-publishing), design (interior and front/back cover), revisions, printing. Understand the list of tasks within each of these steps and make sure every task is plotted on your timeline.
  5. Understand Your Goals & Options. There are basically three options for getting your work into print: a) traditional publishing, b) DIY self-publishing, and c) supported self-publishing. (iUniverse, Inc. is an example of a supported self-publishing organization.) Key differences: a) who own the content, b) investment of time & money, and c) speed to market. (Traditional publishing can take as long as three or more years to get your book into the hands of readers–and that’s after you’ve secured an agent! Once the agent finds an interested editor who then successfully sells your book up the food chain in his/her publishing house, time to market can still be as much as two or more years.) Which option is for you? That depends on your talents, level of commitment, and patience. Also, keep in mind that self-publishing a book to get started and begin putting your work in readers’ hands does not eliminate the traditional publishing option down the road, especially if you’re able to demonstrate success with your marketing. More and more agents are looking at self-published books to validate an author’s work. Social media helps develop a following/establish your position as an expert. Understanding your target audience is key. A blog should be your social media centerpiece. To enhance your blog, interview other bloggers for posts, or bring others into your blog as guest bloggers. Facebook and Twitter are critical as well. Use all social media to provide real-time updates on events and news related to you and your book(s). Use tags effectively.
  6. Put together a Marketing Plan before Publication. Include a video about the book. (Video book trailers have become common and important. YouTube has plenty of examples with a simple “video book trailer” serach. Another interesting idea (especially if you’re doing any form of self-publishing that affords you control over the book’s cover) is to use your blog/Web site to sponsor a contest where your followers vote on book cover ideas. Offer three options. Otherwise, your marketing plan should begin promoting your book before you actually have a book to sell. If possible, give readers the opportunity to pre-order. Once the book is released, schedule yourself into every venue that will give you time and space. Send press releases to all local media. Remember that readers will not buy your book if they don’t know the book is there. (Cheri’s Note: Here are a couple of links that might be useful. Free & Low Cost Book Marketing Links: http://www.thewriterssite.com/direct_pages/marketing.html.  Book Marketing with Free Giveaways: http://www.bookbuzzr.com/blog/book-marketing/how-to-market-your-book-with-free-giveaways/. BookDaily free promotion: http://www.bookdaily.com/lndpg/lndpgv1. Even if you’ve already been promoting a book for awhile, these links might give you a fresh shot of inspiration [if you haven’t found them yourself].)
  7. Plan a Book Launch Event to Celebrate the Publication. This can be a great motivational occasion (something I can attest to, from my own experience). To save money, combine your book launch party with things like family reunions, speaking engagements, church events, etc. (Cheri’s Note: Whether you hold the party at a reunion or as a separate occasion in a hotel meeting room, just have a book launch party somewhere! I’ve known self-published writers who opted not to have any sort of launch event, and most of them struggled to get the book off the ground. You need to build a “buzz” about your book, and nothing does that better than your being there in person with a crowd of folks to celebrate the launch of the work you’ve labored for years to create!)
  8. Before Deciding on a Self-Published Option, Ask Yourself These Questions: 1) Is there a book out there just like mine? 2) Is there an audience for a book like mine? 3) Can I sell this book on my own? 4) How will I garner publicity for my book? 5) Can I create professional packaging on my own? 6) What good does it do to die with a manuscript in my drawer? 7) How many people would you say you have to impact with yor writing before you would say that publishing was worth the effort?

For more information on this subject and presentation, and on the presenter’s input from the conference, go to: www.indiebookwriters.com.

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Note: All of my notes from the Saturday and Sunday sessions are forthcoming. Here’s what I’ve been able to put together so far. Also, since you’ll only be seeing summaries of the sessions I attended, the WDC staff said that there will be some sort of summary on all of the sessions posted on the conference site at http://www.writersdigestconference.com/ehome/27962/home/?&. I just checked, and they don’t have anything posted yet, so mine will have to do for the moment. 🙂 And I will get them up for you as quickly as I can.

Saturday, January 21–Session #1: E-Book Publishing 101–Jane Friedman, Media Professor and former editor of Writer’s Digest Magazine (This session was of huge interest to me because, even though there was a bit of agent interest in my nonfiction book during the Pitch Slam, I’m still leaning heavily toward the e-pub option for at least that next book. Not only am I excited about the potential of that option, but I really want to learn firsthand what’s involved and how it all works.)

E-pub vs Print on Demand (POD)–author has full control of pricing, cover, etc. with E-pub. Author control varies and can be very limited with POD.

What about author rights with e-pub?

  • Copyright is secure
  • Author has full rights re: publishing & distribution except for new Apple rules (covered below).
  • Authors are not killing future chances with traditional publishers if they go e-pub. Might have been true in the past, but no longer.
  • All rights are the writer’s to sell.
  • Caution re: possible exception(s)–Authors previously published with traditional publisher need to check their contracts for rights on existing titles.

Major e-book retailers, devices & formats

  • Kindle (mobi format)–50-70% of the market
  • B&N Nook (epub)–20-30%
  • Apple iPad & iPhone (epub & the newly announced iBookAuuthor, which is only readable on Apple devices–more later)–less than 20%

These three are the main devices and formats. The others on the market are:

  • Sony (epub)
  • Kobo (epub)
  • Desktop/Laptop (PDFs)

Writers going the e-pub route are working with distribution channels and retailers rather than with publishers. Distrib/Retailer options:

Single Channel (Fomatted to work on only one device) versus  Multiple Channels (Push books out to all single channels)

  • Kindle                                                                                           BookBaby (This one looks really interesting, by the way.)
  • B&N                                                                                               Smashwords
  • iTunes                                                                                            PublishGreen
  • iBooksAuthor*
  • GoogleBookStore
  • Scribd

*The new iBooksAuthor will only work on Apple devices. More in a minute.

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Most distribution services and retailers will accept Word documents.

  • Smashwords: takes MS Word. Free to publish. Author keeps 85% of the net. No Kindle distribution, however. Would need to publish on Kindle separately.)
  • BookBaby: Free conversion from Word, HTML, RTP, Apple Pages, plain text. $99 to publish plus $19 annual fee to sustain. Author keeps 100% of the net.) Also offers print service option plus add-on services for ISBN and cover design.
  • PublishGreen: Converts from MS Word, PDF, InDesign. $399-$999 for “full service” package. Author keeps 90-100% of the net.

When is it better to prep your own e-book files? When you:

  • have text-driven work.
  • are not scared by HTML, CSS, and/or MS style sheets. (Guess this answers the question for me. 🙂 )
  • plan on offering PDF versions of your book.

Formatting & Conversion Definitions 

Conversion is an automated process and = exporting files from one format to another without any editing or styling.

Formatting is a manual process and = editing & styling to “look good” on e-reading devices. Process also corrects things that got messed up during the conversion process.

If you’re comfortable doing these things yourself, here are recommended programs: SIGIL for Formatting and CALIBRE for Conversion. (I am definitely not going to be worrying about this. I’m looking at BookBaby. They had an exhibition table at the conference, and once I get through the last of my treatments, I’ll be following up with them for more detail.)

DIY (Do It Yourself) Formatting Tools:

    • Scrivener–$45
    • PressBooks–free. WordPress based, exports e-pub files.

iBooksAuthor. Newly announced by Apple. Limited to iOS devices for both reading as well as sales (iBook format). Free but limited to Apple products and can only sell through Apple bookstores. Beautiful program, easy, drag-and-drop. But exclusive to Apple products and distribution. Industry had hoped that iBooksAuthor would also create e-pub format. Didn’t turn out that way. If you’ve already created a book for sale/distribution elsewhere and then decide to use iBookAuthor for your e-book, you can continue to sell that book everywhere. But if you use iBooksAuthor for your first effort to publish a given book, your Apple agreement will state that you cannot sell that book through any other channel that iBookstore.

  • VookMaker–forthcoming. Not an Apple product but will be similar to iBooksAuthor in terms of being user friendly with drag-and-drop, etc. But this one is expected to support multiple sales channels.

Again, if you opt to do your e-book with a company like BookBaby, you don’t have to worry about any of these Conversion and Formatting tools and programs. 

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Three biggest factors affecting e-book readership base: (These all seem so obvious that I’m wondering if I missed something.)

  • Price
  • Cover
  • Readership Base

Kindle currently represents 60-70% of all ebooks.

An author’s Amazon Page may very likely be the first and only page a reader looks at. Reference: www.DigitalBookWorld.com — see article by Carolyn McKray on optimizing an author’s presence through their Amazon Page.

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“Sweet-Spot” Pricing for Novels:

  • 99 cents drives volume and Amazon rank, for which Amazon pays 30% royalty.
  • Amazon pays 70% royalty on books prices from $2.99-$9.99.
  • Authors who are getting the hang of things will switch off their pricing between 99 cents and $2.99.
  • The lesser known the author, the less you should charge.
  • If you have a series, consider starting with a loss leader (99 cents to start).

For nonfiction, study what your competition is charging. Go to the Kindle store and drill down to your category to start your analysis.

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Cover: First and most important impression. Needs to look good in thumbnail.

ISBNs:

  • Not mandatory for Kindle.
  • Required for distribution through iBookstore.
  • If you’re going the full DIY e-pub route: ISBN.org to buy ISBNs–$125 (cheaper per unit the more you buy).

Online marketing is critical for e-pubs. Draft a marketing plan and include an in-depth online and social media presence.

Some resources to further pursue research on the e-pub option for your book(s):

Here’s a link for a copy of this entire presentation: http://bit.ly/2012wdc

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Well, there you have it–one of the reasons I’m taking so long to get this stuff out to you. But since this particular topic is of such intense interest to me, I’m hoping that some of you will feel the same way, and I want to make sure I’m sharing as much detail as I captured. And because this one is so extensive, I’m going to publish this post separately, finishing up the other Day #2 sessions in another post. (They’re all shorter, by the way.)

P.S. I entered Separation of Faith again today in the latest Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA) competition, which began accepting entries today. Last year the book made the first cut. We’ll see what happens this time around. If you’re interested, this is really a fun contest, and it’s free! Check out the details at: http://www.amazon.com/Breakthrough-Novel-Award-Books/b?ie=UTF8&node=332264011.

Hope your week is off to a good start! See you again soon.

 

 

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Priorities

All too often, with the legions of tasks and issues filling up the minutes of our lives every day, the truly important stuff can be momentarily overlooked or even forgotten altogether for embarrassingly extended periods of time. In the crush of 2011, I know this has been true for me. So, on this Thanksgiving–and not just yesterday on the actual holiday, but at frequent intervals throughout the entire four-day weekend–I’m making a point of reminding myself of how extraordinarily grateful I am for the following:

  • Despite a somewhat challenging list of health issues with some of us, key members of my beloved family are all still here.
  • And I am still here.
  • So are my cherished friends–some going back 20, 30, 40 years or more, and others who’ve come into my life in the last decade.
  • Memories of family members and friends who’ve gone ahead remain strong and empowering.
  • In these times of heavy financial stress, all of those I love have a roof over their heads and food on their tables.
  • So do I. And given the millions of people across our country who are missing one or more of those life essentials, I am unbelievably grateful but also feel the need to do something to help those who are suffering. Each of our communities offers a range of options for any of us looking for a way to “give back.” I’m grateful for those individuals who devote their own lives to keeping such options available.
  • Personal medical challenges are being met with the awesome skills of my physician team coupled with amazing advances in science. (And I pray that the time will come soon when every single person will have equal access to the same skills and advances. No one should suffer needlessly, die prematurely, or go broke because they get sick!)
  • My writing continues to unfold, and I still have great hope for happy surprises in 2012! To all writers out there: No one is going to live our dreams for us, so we can never stop or give up. Whatever we can see in our imaginations, we can make happen. But if we stop because we’re discouraged and/or tired of the drill, the dream stops too. So, the first thing we need to say to ourselves each day is, “Write today! Write something today!
  • There’s a little voice inside my head–which can be incredibly annoying–that is never silent and keeps saying, “Get up! Keep going!” And, in those moments when I feel like saying, “Why don’t you get up, if you think it’s so easy,” I somehow discover that my feet are on the floor and I’m moving forward. Such strength comes from a different source or place for each of us, depending upon our individual beliefs. Acknowledging that strength and power will not only keep us going as writers but as participants in life as well. I’m very grateful for that realization and immeasurably humbled as well!

Happy Thanksgiving once again to each of you and to those close to you as we now move officially into the holiday season!

NEWS FLASH! 2012 Writer’s Digest Conference Scheduled in New York City January 20-22!

Those of you who’ve been following this blog for awhile know that the first Writer’s Digest Conference held independently from Book Expo America took place in New York City in September 2009 and was the source of my original epiphany. The entire direction for publishing my second novel changed as a result of that conference, and this blog was launched on November 4, 2009 as a direct consequence of what I learned there.

If you’d like more detail on that epiphany, please check out the Blog Launch Posting at https://cherilaser.wordpress.com/2009/11/04/hello-world/.

During last year’s conference (WD‘s second), I blogged while I was there. If you’re interested in my bird’s eye view and perspective, you can find those details beginning at https://cherilaser.wordpress.com/2011/01/21/writers-digest-conference-day-1/ and then in the eight consecutive posts thereafter.

Is your interest peaked? I honestly believe that this is one of the best, if not the best, conferences for all writers, but especially for writers in search of both the truth about the publishing business as well as guidance. Here are some links for you to explore about the highlights of the 2012 conference coming up this January:

Despite the fact that I will still have one chemo round left to go and might not be feeling at the top of my game, I wouldn’t miss this event! And I’m already registered! So, if you decide to attend, please let me know. I’d love to meet you while we’re there!

Progress on My Write-a-Thon to Complete My Next Book’s Draft in 26 Days

Well … I cannot tell a lie. (This is for my nonfiction project centering around my breast cancer.) I was supposed to begin the actual writing part of the process on November 1 (see initial details on my 26-day project in my post at https://cherilaser.wordpress.com/2011/10/12/publishing-cancer-journeys-merge-in-earnest/). However, I actually began the writing-the-book portion on November 13. And I haven’t been following the “script” line for line each day.

Before I began this project/method/experiment, I had already written four chapters of this new book, and I had outlined my vision of how the chapters would flow. But the excercises in the first half of Write-a-Thon by Rochelle Melander helped me look at the work I’d already done from a different perspective. Consequently, when I began focusing on the book, I realized that a lot of organizational changes needed to be made. Some of the chapters I’d envisioned were no longer relevant (or, more importantly, interesting), while other topics emerged as significant.

For example, I had not planned to spend any time at all on treatment options, because every woman’s situation will be different and, more importantly, I’m not a doctor. (The primary target audience for this book will be woman who’ve just been diagnosed with breast cancer.) However, I am now going to spend a chapter on chemo–not on the chemo itself but on the impact that the process of going through chemo can have on the woman’s life and on the lives of those around her.

Making this even more complicated is the fact that I did not have chemo for my breast cancer. Instead, I’m on a drug called Arimidex for five years (three and a half more since I’ve already been on it for almost 18 months). But I am going through chemo now for this newest cancer (see info on my weird situation in my post at https://cherilaser.wordpress.com/2011/10/12/publishing-cancer-journeys-merge-in-earnest/ )–and I’ve discovered that what women go through as a result of chemo is fairly universal, regardless of the type of cancer she’s fighting.

On that note, one entire chapter of this new book will be about hair! 🙂 Without giving anything away, just let me say OMG! This entire “hair thing” has, without question, been the worst part of the whole experience for me to-date. My own hair is now completely gone, and although you’ll never see a picture of me bald, I am including at the end of this post a few photo angles of me with my “new hair.” You can compare this “updated me” with the last photo I posted of me with my real hair at  https://cherilaser.wordpress.com/2011/10/25/new-take-on-where-do-you-see-yourself-in-five-years/ (scroll to end of that post). And, in summary, the minute I was able to look at myself in the mirror and see “me,” my emotional equilibrium returned, and I felt immeasurably better. The many steps along that journey will be in the book. Just let me say at this point, though, that I had no idea how unprepared I was for that aspect of chemo–and I’m hopeful that what I’m writing will help at least one other woman navigate those steps with substantially less trauma than I put myself through over almost two months.

Another Interesting WSJ Article on Self-Publishing

On October 31, one of those cherished family members I mentioned at the beginning of this post sent me a link to “Secret of Self-Publishing: Success” by Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg in the Wall Street Journal. Any writer considering/exploring self-publishing as an option will find this of interest, whether you’re a new writer trying to decide which way to go for your first book or whether you’re an established writer who’s curious (and brave).

This is just the one more perspective now that self-publishing has become a legitimate path for authors of all genres to get their work into the hands of readers. I’ll be interested to hear what you think: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203554104577002230413747366.html.

Okay–Here Are My “New Hair” Pictures

Keep in mind that none of this is growing out of my head!

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend! I’ll be watching “It’s A Wonderful Life” and putting up my tree! 🙂

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This week the publishing industry sizzled with the news that bestselling author Barry Eisler turned down a half million dollar advance from St. Martin’s Press for his latest book, in lieu of self-publishing the book.

“He did what?” you ask.

I know. For all of us “wannabes” out here, making a decision like that one sounds like pure insanity! And Eisler’s unprecedented choice has sparked animated dialogue across the world of writer discussion boards. He explains his reasoning in a fascinating conversation with his friend and fellow author Joe Konrath (http://barryeisler.blogspot.com/), which I highly recommend reading for any writer who’s chasing the Dream. (The conversation is quite long, but hanging in there will pay off with a ton of insightful information.)

Basically, and in a paraphrased nutshell, Eisler’s decision was based upon his belief that signing away his ebook publishing rights would, in the long run, cost him a lot more money than half a million. You can check out all of the details behind this rationale yourself through the above link. But the point that loomed beyond all of the resultant noise in the publishing community was the burgeoning significance of the ebook technology when paired with the increasing relevance and acceptance of high quality self-published work.

Of course, none of those advancements would be possible without ereaders (Kindle, Nook, etc.), and that’s what I want to talk about for a minute this morning. Given the fact that I was a super-latecomer to the importance of the social media world and the associated tools and technology, there will be little surprise in hearing that I was also one of those writers/readers who felt umbilically connected to the physical elements of books. There was just “something” about the sensation of the cover and pages against my fingers, the smell of a book upon opening for the first time, the sense of satisfaction when placing a book I’d finished reading on my bookshelf, along with the dozens of others already crowded into that space.

Please don’t misunderstand and think that there was some sort of block in my head against advancements in technology. If you’ll search this blog site for “netbook,” you’ll come up with a number of posts where I wrote about the value of my “mini” and how the small size and portability enabled me to complete my second novel several months sooner than I’d anticipated. And last Christmas, when I received the glorious gift of an iPad, I thought I’d surely arrived in heaven. I also thought I’d solved the ereader issue with the iPad after acquiring the Kindle app in conjunction with the iPad’s own bookshelf. What I would soon learn, however, is that the glory of the iPad is that it’s actually a full computer in a tiny, relatively inexpensive package. But it’s really quite large–heavy and combersome–when the screen is being used to read a book.

Consequently, when I (an author of two novels struggling to reach readers) was asked if I owned a Kindle (or some other ereader), my typical response was, “No I don’t, and I doubt that I ever will.” But I found myself growing increasingly uncomfortable with that answer once both of my novels became available on Kindle and the rest of the ereader options–and then especially ill at ease during a speaking engagement recently when several individuals in the audience began asking operational questions about the Kindle. Many in that group believed that they had to own a computer in order to have a Kindle, and thank God I at least knew that wasn’t true. But beyond that point, I was an idiot.

So, for the sole reason of educating myself and no longer putting myself in the position of looking and sounding uninformed on such a critical element of my own professional field, I broke down and bought the newest Kindle (six-inch reading device with free wifi and 3G. (Go here to read about all the feature details: http://www.amazon.com/Kindle-Wireless-Reading-Display-Generation/dp/B003FSUDM4/ref=sa_menu_kdp32.)

And then, within a week of receiving my Kindle, an amazing thing happened. I was converted as a reader. My resolute need for the tactile experience of feeling the paper as the pages turned was replaced by the fact that I was reading more. My tiny little Kindle fits in every handbag I own, without taking up space or adding any noticeable weight (at a mere 8.7 ounces). After needing an extra bag to lug around the mega novel I’m currently reading (Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes–nearly 600 pages) while sitting in waiting rooms for a series of doctor appointments recently, I ordered that same novel for my Kindle–ordered and paid for the book right on my Kindle, and within a matter of seconds, the entire 600 pages had been downloaded and were ready to read. Now, a week later, I’ve read 67% of the book (according to my Kindle tracker).

And … I can read with one hand–that’s holding the Kindle and turning the pages, all with one hand–while scarcely feeling as if I’m holding anything at all. There’s no “power up” time. Just flip the switch to “wake up” the Kindle, and there’s your book. The pages turn with the gentle press of the page-turning “bar.” And if you turn the wifi off (which you don’t need to have on in the first place, unless you’re buying something else from the Kindle Store), the battery charge will last for an entire month.

For some reason, I also seem to be reading faster. I don’t know if that’s because the font size can be adjusted up or down, or because reading has just become so completely effortless. But the number of words I’m reading per minute is definitely on the rise.

And now the stack of “real” books on my bedside table awaiting my attention will all soon benefit a local hospital or shelter, because each one is going to be on my Kindle very shortly. I can have about 3500 books on my Kindle, if I so desire, not to mention newspapers, magazines, games like Scrabble, card games, audio books, and more. And the fourteen books currently on my bedside table–retail prices ranging from $14 to $27, or an average of about $20–can all be brought into my Kindle for less than $100. (This assumes, of course, that each of the book’s publishers has been savvy enough to enable the ebook option.)

And someone–either the traditional publisher or the self-publishing author–is making a lot more money on the ebook version that the one in print. There’s virtually no distribution cost, and the royalty percentages are 2-3 times higher than print royalties. (Link to the Eisler-Konrath conversation earlier in this post for more specifics on the money end of ebooks and how that influenced Eisler’s decision to pass up the half million dollar advance. I don’t know. No matter what he says–and I do understand his perspective–I still sort of choke when saying that an author passed up that kind of money, whatever the reason. Plenty of controversy there, for sure!)

As sort of a shallow sidebar topic, there are all sorts of fun and extremely inexpensive accessories for the Kindle (and other ereaders) that allow each of us to personalize our reading devices. I fell for the Kindle cover with the built-in reading light. And the “bling girl” in me went absolutely crazy for the protective and decorative “skins” offered by a company called DecalGirl. My Kindle is white, but I’ve dressed things up, as you’ll see in the pictures included in this post. The “skins” are easily peeled off and saved for reuse to enable variety, and they really do add a lot of pizzazz, if you’re into that sort of thing.

The most important part of the experience, though, is the reading. And because of my Kindle, I’m doing more of that at a faster pace than ever before in my life. Gone with the Wind and hundreds of other books that same size can be with me at all times, enabling me to read whenever there’s even a five or ten minute period of dead time in a day.

Real books–the way they look, feel, and smell–will always hold a special place in my life and heart. And my copies of many classics will remain on my bookshelves forever. But as a reader–and especially as a writer–I’m more excited about what I’m reading (the number of books I can get through in a month) than I ever dreamed I would be. For once, I’ll actually be able to finish bestsellers while they’re still current. And no less important to me is the fact that the more I’m able to read, the more my own writing will continue to improve.

So, if you’re one of those who’s starting to think about jumping into the world of ereaders, fear not! “Real” books will always be there for you to savor, no matter what you might hear being predicted. But if you’re looking for the sheer power and ability to get a lot of reading done, way beyond what you’re normally able to accomplish, go ahead and make the leap! You won’t believe how much fun the reading world is in here!

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P.S. (after the original post): One of my blogging buddies (Jacqui at www.worddreams.wordpress.com) asked me about the setup, wondering if getting up and running is complicated. The answer is that the whole process is quite simple, and there are very few steps involved.

You need to charge your Kindle, which only takes a few hours. (I plugged it in to charge overnight, but the thing was fully charged before I went to sleep.)

Amazon will already have your account information for all purchases (books, magazines, newspapers, etc.), unless you want to change a payment method. (You don’t need to worry about a shipping address, of course, because everything you buy will go directly to your Kindle in a matter of seconds!)

A very small booklet is enclosed in the Kindle package that introduces you to the operational buttons and the basics. And the list of Menu options on the Kindle screen is not very long. Exporing each one will lead you into the rest of the things you can do with your new little miracle device.

The most important part of the setup, though–buying and downloading your first book to read–will only take about two minutes–maybe even only one! You’ll spend most of your time browsing through the Kindle Store, going absolutely nuts over what is now available to you!

If you decide to enter the Kindle world, please let me know. I’d love to hear about your experience(s)! 

  

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This Will Be Quick …

…but important 🙂 !

First, I hope the holiday season is unfolding in a fashion that’s not too crazy for you. There’s such a frenzy that can overtake us, and some people truly love the chaos. I love the spirit, and I used to love the madness. But now, in the midst of the frenzy, I’m doing my best to hang onto the spirit and not let the rest get under my skin. So far, the jury isn’t in yet on how that’s working out for me. Hope you’re happy, though, no matter what side of the zaniness you prefer to be on.

Meanwhile … Separation of Faith is on Kindle–At Last!

The headline basically says everything. Here’s the link: http://www.amazon.com/Separation-Faith-Novel-ebook/dp/B004EYT2UM/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&qid=1291750767&sr=1-1Please let me know if there are any problems since this just came online.

The Truth About Cinnamon–Second Edition

This morning UPS delivered the soft cover printer copy of the newly edited Second Edition of The Truth About Cinnamon. Yay! This effort has taken over a year, and there aren’t words to express how happy and relieved I am that the process is almost complete. Amazon hasn’t yet updated the site with the new information, but I’m told that anyone who orders a copy now will receive the new version.

To be certain, however, if you’re checking, scroll down to Product Details and look for the copyright date. The original was December 2, 2003. You’ll want to see 2010. Hopefully, everything will be updated shortly.

Getting the new version of Cinnamon back on Kindle is going to take awhile, though, (based on the experience I’ve just had getting Separation of Faith on Kindle–now available). I’ll keep you posted.

Great Listing of Publishing Options for You!

In the process of working this month with a new editing client, who’s struggling with her choice of a publisher, I came across this unbelievable list printed by Writer’s Digest. If you’re looking for an alternative to traditional publishing, but you have no idea where to go or start, your answer will be in this list somewhere, no matter what kind of book(s) you’re hoping to publish.

The list is incredibly comprehensive and includes all of the important detail you’ll need to at least narrow your search. Let me know what you think: http://www.writersdigest.com/article/directory-of-self-publishing-companies.

Huge Endorsement for Separation of Faith

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been blessed to receive a much hoped for endorsement from a former Miss America I met while doing research for Separation of Faith in Kettle Falls, Washington. Here is the full text of her endorsement:

Cheri Laser has written an unbelievably amazing story in Separation of Faith. First, having grown up in Kettle Falls, I can tell you that this novel not only captures the beauty of the area but the flavor and pulse of the community and people as well—and especially the history. The storyline is unique and interwoven, compelling you to turn page after page. And the plot takes you by surprise, pulling you into an emotional journey that makes you laugh and cry, leaving you wanting more on one hand, and yet, on the other, ending with a sense of completion—with a feeling of hope.

I highly recommend Separation of Faith for every reader who loves rich, authentic characters that travel through layers of history into contemporary times, while encountering intrigue, suspense, sorrow, and redemption.

Fiction lovers need to discover this novel and this new author—and I’d really like to see a sequel to Separation of Faith!

–Carolyn Sapp, Miss America 1992

For me and for what I’m trying to accomplish with this novel, this development is huge, and I am so grateful! A new press release containing the endorsement is being prepared for all media (newspaper, TV, radio) as well as bookstores, Chambers of Commerce, libraries, etc., not only in Kettle Falls and the surrounding valley towns but also in Spokane, the largest anchor city on the eastern side of Washington state. (Seattle is on the western side.)

And … in addition to the endorsement, the town of Kettle Falls has been celebrating something called Town & Country Days every year in early June for about a century. The event brings in thousands of people, and I will have a vendor booth there for Separation of Faith in June 2011. Best of all, Carolyn Sapp has said she’ll be there with me for the weekend to help me promote the novel at the festival. Given her unbelievably busy schedule, I am so thankful for her support and encouragement, and to tell the truth, I’m sort of looking upon this whole thing as my “Oprah moment.”

All of you will definitely be kept in the loop for the excitement, pictures, and great vignettes that are sure to develop as we move forward into the New Year and toward that Kettle Falls experience already filling me with anticipation!

Next Week I’ll Be in Atlanta …

And I’ll write to you from there, if not before.

Meanwhile, happy holiday preparations, with as much or little frenzy as you want surrounding you!  

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