Tag Archives: indie author

Giving A Voice To Indies

A new organization is being formed which is aiming to give a voice to indies – the Indie Author Support Network. The idea was proposed by indie author Marie Force, and it’s still at the very earliest stages, but what I’ve heard so far is very promising indeed – particularly that it will be exclusively focused on high-level advocacy and interfacing with retailers on issues which concern indies.

I’m not a member of any writer organization. I joined one here in Ireland when I first returned home, but didn’t renew after they wouldn’t even take the most basic stand against a local publisher who wasn’t paying his authors.

I know people join organizations for lots of different reasons, whether that’s continuing education or competitions or even just the social/networking aspects at conferences, which are desperately needed in such a solitary profession, and I think those needs are pretty well met with the various genre-focused organizations out there, and NINC too. However, advocacy has always been of most importance to me and I think there is a critical need right now for a very focused group which specifically speaks to the rather curious set of issues that indies are dealing with in 2018.

And most of these issues stem from, or are exacerbated by, a lack of representation. We are a huge chunk of the market now, but we don’t have a seat at the table or a voice in the room.

While I’m a huge respecter of the work Victoria Strauss and the rest of the Writer Beware team have done on behalf of all writers (and the SFWA in setting that up and its partner orgs in helping with logistical support), as well as the work that the Alliance of Independent Authors has done in building an all-encompassing indie writers’ organization, I think there is a very specific gap right now for a group exclusively focused on high-level advocacy for indies, one where institutional energy is all directed towards that one task.

Over the last couple of days, Marie Force has been gathering expressions of interest to form just such a group, one that would interface directly with retailers. She has already spoken with KDP about dealing directly with the group on issues of common concern, and they seemed very positive about the idea.

Despite some rumors flying around, there is no specific agenda in place yet – the organization is still being formed and that conversation is yet to be had. That said, there are a whole bunch of issues right now that such a group could conceivably tackle.

(These are my own personal opinions/priorities/preferences, of course.)

A lot of the issues today stem from Kindle Unlimited. I’m not pro- or anti- KU personally. My books are wide, but I manage marketing for someone else who is all-in with KU (and does very well out of it too). But there’s no doubt that KU has had a dramatic impact on the market and raised issues which need to be addressed.

There is a chronic lack of transparency in the program – leading to issues like authors getting page reads retroactively reduced, with Amazon refusing to furnish any kind of reasonable explanation for same.

The compensation system at the center of KU is a relatively new model in publishing, and it has had many unpleasant side effects such as making the Kindle Store a giant target for various scammers, and Amazon’s response seems to vary between doing nothing and allowing things to spiral out of control, to nuking from space and hitting a lot of innocents.

Amazon’s TOS also needs to be a whole lot clearer on a range of things, so authors have absolute clarity about what is permitted and what isn’t. And there needs to be some kind of proportionality in any sanctions handed out – right now we have the crazy situation where an author who openly admitted to clickfarming his way to #1 gets the same sanction as an author who did nothing wrong but was targeted by a third-party.

The one-size-fits-all punishment of rank-stripping seems too onerous for the latter and too light for the former (IMO, YMMV).

On a personal level, I feel like many of these issues were flagged by the author community when KU first launched, and if we had a voice in the room back then, perhaps many of them could have been avoided too.

There are a lot of organizations out there already doing great work in various fields, but this feels like the right idea at the right time, something that isn’t necessarily in competition with the likes of NINC or RWA or anyone else, but a really focused group exclusively dealing with indie author advocacy.

And if you are interested too you can join Marie Force’s Facebook Group – the Author Support Network – or express your interest at IndieAuthorSupportNetwork.com. Marie Force is looking to gather expressions of interest from 1,000 indie authors before April 30 to see if this idea has legs (and she was halfway there after just 12 hours).

I’m excited to see where this goes.

Source: https://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/2018/04/22/giving-a-voice-to-indies/

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The Changing Politics of the Self-Publishing Stigma #indieauthor #writer #selfpublish #author #FED_ebooks

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Sticks & Stones: The Changing Politics of the Self-Publishing Stigma

Written by Terri Giuliano Long for indiereader.com

Bookselling This Week just reported that brick and mortar booksellers are making it easier for self-published authors to garner coveted shelf space in their stores. With indies crossing into this and other territory usually staked out by the traditionally published, the battle between self-published and traditionally pubbed authors has heated up. Rumor has it, one big-name author even resorted to rallying fans, fuming about the deleterious effect eBooks have had on her income. Another traditionally published author went so far as to refer to self-publishing as “literary karaoke.”

The lines, it seems, have been drawn.

The “literary karaoke” slur notwithstanding, the stakes are less about the quality of indie books and more about the money indies are grabbing from their traditionally pubbed brethren. From the outcry, you’d think self-publishers were stealing and eating their babies—and, in a way, maybe they are.

While traditional publishers have seen an increase in overall profits, their mass-market and hardcover segments have been hard hit by burgeoning digital sales. According to the Association of American Publishers (AAP), in 2011 e-book sales rose 117%, generating revenue of $969.9 million, while sales in all trade print segments fell, with mass-market paperbacks plunging by nearly 36%.

As sales decline, industry leaders worry that some houses may focus on the more profitable hardback format, publishingFirst Edition Design Publishing paperback editions of only their highest grossing titles. For conventional authors, especially mid-listers, this would be a significant blow. As Rachel Deahl reports in Publisher’s Weekly: “ . . . the shift will kill the much-needed second bite books get at the marketing and publicity apple.”

If e-books are causing the ruckus, why focus all the ire on indies?

Fact is, most people buy a book for one reason: they want a good read. Assuming the book delivers, they don’t care who published it; many don’t even notice. With publishing cachet exerting less influence on purchasing decisions, price has become more of a factor. In a depressed economy, it’s only natural to look for a deal—and indie authors offer one. With greater flexibility and lower overhead, self-publishers can afford to sell their e-books for a fraction of the price charged by large publishers.

Now, in addition to declining paperback royalties, traditional authors face stiff competition from inexpensive self-published e-books. No wonder they’re angry.

Nevertheless, casting aspersions by aggressively promoting the indie stigma is unfair – and unwarranted. “The idea that all self-published books are sub-standard is erroneous,” says literary agent Jenny Bent, founder of The Bent Agency in Brooklyn, New York. Will Clarke, one of Bent’s clients, self-published his first two books, “Lord Vishnu’s Love Handles” and “The Worthy”. After Simon & Schuster republished, Bent points out, “he got a full-page rave review for both of them in the New York Times Book Review.”

Self-Published Books ”Refreshing and New”

Naomi Blackburn, founder of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Book, a 400-member Goodreads book club, believes self-publishing has opened the door for new voices and given readers a far greater selection. Ranked #29 on the Goodreads list of top reviewers in the U.S. and #35 globally of all time, Blackburn reads nearly a book a day. She’s grown tired of traditional publishers “shoving dried-up authors down consumers’ throats and subjecting readers to substandard work, especially if they find a ‘cash cow.’” These days, Blackburn veers toward self-published books or works put out by smaller houses. “I usually find the works to be refreshing and new,” she says.

If bestseller lists are any indication, and surely they are, then millions of readers are following in Blackburn’s footsteps. Nowadays, indie titles regularly crack—even top —the NY Times and USA Today bestseller lists. John Locke, Barbara Freethy, Gemma Halliday, and Amanda Hocking have all broken into the million-plus sales club, and well over 100 indie authors have sold more than 50,000 books. No, gorilla-size sales figures do not guarantee the quality of an indie title, any more than huge numbers indicate the quality of a conventionally published book. The numbers do suggest that readers see value in indie books and they’re purchasing indie titles in droves.

Which is perhaps why some offenders have resorted to bullying, aggressively promoting an indie stigma that ceased to be unilaterally credible (if it ever was) around the time The Shack—an indie publication—sat for approximately 172 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list.

With millions of indie titles on shelves, some are bound to be lacking. Sometimes, says Jenn, a book editor and blogger, also known as “Picky Girl,” the lack of quality is immediately evident. “A cover that looks childish, out of date, or amateurish often speaks for the story it houses.” By publicly decrying the need to perfect their craft or bragging about writing and publishing quickly, Indie authors make themselves easy targets, says M.J. Rose, bestselling author and owner of AuthorBuzz.com. “Self-publishing shouldn’t be an excuse to not do the hard work,” Rose adds.

True enough. But not all traditionally pubbed books are Pulitzer-worthy either. The difference is, when a traditional title garners negative reviews, only that book gets panned. No one cites examples of poorly written traditionally published books to support any conclusion about all traditional titles. Besides, lousy books are a non-factor anyway. Readers don’t talk about books they don’t like and retailers don’t put poor selling books in recommendation queues, so the books languish on the shelves.

Nor is it true, as detractors claim, that it’s impossible to separate the chaff from the grain. Jennifer, the blogger at Books, Personally, finds the best indie reads through her Twitter network and blog. Like Jennifer, readers can use their social networks to find fab indie titles. They can also peruse reviews on reader sites like Goodreads, ask their friends for recommendations, or rely on reviews posted by a favorite book blogger. For the most popular current titles, readers can check the IndieReader “List Where Indies Count,” a list of the top 10 best-selling indie books, updated weekly.

Today’s Indie Authors Choose to Self-Publish

No question, traditional publishers play an important role in the publishing world. Still, for better or worse, the days when they were the sole gatekeepers are behind us. Today, rejection by traditional houses says little about a book. “Some wonderful books [are rejected] for various reasons—nothing to do with quality,” says Jenny Bent. A publisher may reject a book because it doesn’t fit into a clear category. A traditional house may also turn down a book if it doesn’t have an obvious audience or if the author has too small a platform or a poor sales track with previous books.

In the old days, determined authors turned to self-publishing—or vanity presses, as they were called—as a last resort. Serious authors, concerned about being black- balled, dared not self-publish. As a result, talented authors like John Kennedy Toole, whose posthumously published masterpiece, “A Confederacy of Dunces,” won a Pulitzer Prize (1981), went to their grave believing their work did not measure up.

Today, many talented authors choose the self-publishing route and they do it for a variety of reasons. Jackie Collins recently shocked the literary world with her announcement that she planned to self-publish a new, rewritten version of her novel “The Bitch”. “Times are changing,” Collins said of her decision, “and technology is changing, so I wanted to experiment with this growing trend of self-publishing.”

Industry superstars like New York Times bestselling authors Barbara Freethy and C.J. Lyons use self-publishing platforms to market their out-of-print backlists. Other authors are drawn to self-publishing because of its flexibility, the ability to publish within their own timeframe, for instance—perhaps to leverage topical interest or mark an anniversary. Others authors self-publish out of a desire for artistic control.

Self-publishing can also be a practical way to build an audience. Today, publishers expect authors to have a solid platform. By self-publishing, emerging authors can build the fan base necessary to attract a traditional publisher for their next work. Other authors, long-timers as well as newbies, feel they can make more money on their own. At $2.99 a pop, authors earn nearly $2.00 on every eBook sale. Even at 99¢, with average royalties of 33¢ to 60¢, earnings on a hot-selling book can quickly out-pace the meager advance offered to all but the superstars by a traditional house.

These days—insult-hurling aside—traditional and indie authors are more alike than different. Mindful of their increased scrutiny, self-publishers take full advantage of the myriad professional services available to authors. Indies hire experienced editors to copyedit and proofread. For their cover and interior designs, some work with the same graphic artists who design for the traditional houses. Professionals are available and widely used to covert documents to digital and paperback formats, and POD printing has gotten so good that, to the typical untrained eye, print-on-demand books are virtually indistinguishable from books printed on an offset press.

Literary agent and publishing consultant Joelle Delbourgo, founder and president of Joelle Delbourgo Associates, Inc., formerly a senior publishing executive at Random House and HarperCollins, says some self-publishers go a step further and work with a professional publishing partner, a strategy she recommends. A publishing pro with a track record of success can bring an author to the next level, Delbourgo says.

For a few years, Bethanne Patrick, a publicist and media consultant also known as “The Book Maven,” creator of the global reading community Friday Reads, was skeptical of self-publishing. Through her work in social media, Patrick has read more indie titles and gotten to know writers who’ve chosen to self-publish. More and more indie authors, she’s noticed, seek the advice of freelance editors, publicists, and marketing consultants—and she’s intrigued.

As well-educated and experienced writers—emerging authors who’ve honed their craft as well as established and traditionally published authors—increasingly opt to go the indie route, the bar is rising. As with indie musicians and filmmakers, indie authors bring new life to an evolving industry. Today, readers have access to a wealth of funny, poignant, brilliant voices of talented new authors from around the globe—voices that, just a few years ago, might have been silenced by the old guard.

The opportunity to self-publish—to publish their books their own way—has given both emerging and established authors more freedom than ever before. So, yes, now thatreaders choose which books to purchase and support, dollars may shift and some traditional authors may be forced to give up a slice of the pie. Change is never easy; inevitably, there are bumps and bruises along the way. But, like or not, indie publishing is here to stay. And the publishing world will be all the richer for it.

Terri Giuliano Long is a contributing writer for IndieReader and Her Circle eZine. She has written news and features for numerous publications, including the Boston Globe and the Huffington Post. She lives with her family on the East Coast and teaches at Boston College. Her debut novel, “In Leah’s Wake,” began as her master’s thesis. For more information, please visit her website. Or connect on Facebook,Twitter or Blog.

First Edition Design PublishingFirst Edition Design Publishingbased in Sarasota, Florida, USA leads the industry in eBook distribution.They convert, format and submit eBooks to Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble, Sony, Google, Kobo, Diesel, 3M, Ingram, Baker and Taylor, Nielsen, EBSCO, scores of additional on-line retailers and libraries, schools, colleges and universities. The company also has a POD (Print On Demand) division, which creates printed books and makes them available worldwide through their distribution network.

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Quality Books Take Time #FED_ebooks #Author #Writer #Indieauthor

Quality Books Take Time

Source: www.rachellegardner.com

By: Rachelle Gardner

Back in the early ’80s there was an ad campaign for Paul Masson wine where Orson Welles famously uttered, “We will sell no wine before its time.”

The message was powerful; it conveyed, “We care so much about producing the highest quality wine that we refuse to rush the process. We won’t try to bring it out faster to increase profit. We won’t skimp on the craftsmanship that makes our wine so good. It takes time, and we will give our wine the time it needs.”

I couldn’t help thinking about that as I considered what I wanted to say today about the time and craftsmanship it takes to write a high quality book. I’m not talking about a book that everyone has to love. I’m talking about a book that has the basics: a solid story, well-developed characters, conflict that engages the reader, a satisfying resolution, well-crafted sentences and paragraphs, literate use of words, and a lack of typos and other egregious, noticeable errors. Even if it’s non-fiction, the basics apply except instead of characters, we need well-developed ideas.

With the proliferation of self-pub, online retailers are flooded with books that contain almost none of those basics. Books that scream “vanity” and “I just wanted to get rich quick.” Books that say, “I was too impatient, or too arrogant, or too ignorant, to either learn the very most basic writing techniques, or to get an editor’s eyes on this before it went public.”

I’ve said many times — I’m in favor of self-pub and e-pub and all the various ways writers now have to get their words out there.

But here’s the truth:

If you don’t pay attention to the quality control of your work, you’ll kill your writing career before it even starts.

Readers are not stupid. They may be downloading 99¢ e-books like crazy right now. But they’re already starting to figure out that something’s not right. Many of these books are poorly written and desperately need editing. (Even Amanda Hocking’s Trylle series, originally self-published, went through extensive editing at St. Martin’s before they re-released it.)

So why should you care? It seems many have the attitude of, “Why should I spend all that extra time and money on editing when people are going to buy it anyway?” Here’s why I think you should care:

If you self-publish a book that sucks, you may permanently lose potential readers.They pick up the book, it’s poorly crafted, they don’t like it — and they cross your name off their mental list of good authors. Down the road, perhaps you’ve become a better writer, perhaps you’ve finally decided to work with an editor, but unfortunately it’s too late for all those readers who are already convinced your books aren’t worth buying. Why risk that? Why not take the time to make sure your work is ready?

This idea of taking the time to properly craft a book applies to those in traditional publishing as well. Many of my clients become frustrated with me because I push them to make their proposals better and better; I may push them to write more chapters of their non-fiction books, I may push them to do a complete revision on a novel before submission. They’re anxious. They just want to get it out there. But I don’t work that way. I will sell no wine before its time.

I believe we need to keep holding books to a high standard. I want us all to keep insisting on quality reading material, not settling for whatever someone could slap together and impatiently upload to Kindle with barely a lick and a promise.

One of the main arguments writers use for self-publishing is the speed at which they can get their books up for sale. They’re proud of themselves for circumventing the laborious publishing system that — yes — takes forever. But many of them have nothing to be proud of. I’ve bought and read numerous self-pubbed books now, and in general the quality isnoticeably inferior to what most traditional publishers are putting out. (And all of those self-pubbers who are doing it poorly are giving a very bad name to the handful who are doing it well.) Many are sacrificing craftsmanship for speed.

It’s a trade-off that diminishes us all.

I say, let’s commit to selling no books before their time. Are you with me?

Update: Since so many people are mentioning in the comments that it’s hard to know how to find an editor, I wanted to give you a couple of resources. The latest post by Victoria Strauss on Writer Beware is about how to vet an independent editor. Also, I have a list of freelance editors here on my site.

© 2012 Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent

First Edition Design Publishing http:www.firsteditiondesignpublishing.com, based in Sarasota, Florida, USA leads the industry in eBook distribution. They convert, format and submit eBooks to Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble, Sony, Google, Kobo, Diesel, 3M, Ingram, Baker and Taylor, Nielsen, EBSCO, scores of additional on-line retailers and libraries, schools, colleges and universities. The company also has a POD (Print On Demand) division, which creates printed books and makes them available worldwide through their distribution network.

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