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Archive for November, 2012

Charles Dickens began his classic novel, A Tale of Two Cities with the line, “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.”  Depending on your point of view and current position, that line might  describe what is happening in publishing today. For authors, it really is the best of times because there are more ways to get published than ever before. If you work in traditional publishing, you might think it is the worst of times as the industry goes through a transformation similar to what has already taken place in the film and music industries.

Over the weekend, I read an article by Stephen Marche in Esquire magazine where he offers that this is the absolute best time in history to be a writer. His opening statement declares that writers are whiners, but right now they have nothing to complain about.  To read the complete article, you will have to pick up a copy of the magazine on the newsstand, because it is not online yet, but here are few of the key reasons for his claim.

  1. Celebrity authors command more money than ever before. J.K. Rowling is a billionaire. Tom Wolfe got $7 million for his last book. By contrast, Charles Dickens total earnings in present value was around $10 million.
  2. Small presses are putting out more good books than ever before. In 2010, the National Book Award and the Pulitzer for fiction went to small publishers.
  3. Self-publishing has lost its stigma. Books like 50 Shades of Grey have helped demonstrate authors can take control of their own publishing futures and generate great results.
  4. It’s not just the novel. Essays are making a comeback as well. Good writers can use blogs and online content hubs like the Huffpost to practice their craft and get read.
  5. The e-reader is creating a new market, not destroying an old one.  People with e-readers read more books than people who don’t have the devices, and on average American adults read seventeen books in 2011. That number has never been higher since it started being tracked in 1990.

In summary,  Marche suggests that we are in the midst of a massive rebirth of reading which means there is more opportunity for writers. His closing line in the article says, “The whining by writers is not just untrue; it’s becoming embarrassingly untrue. New advice: Be grateful. Revel.”

What do you think? Is it the Golden Age for Writer? Use the comment section to let me know if you agree or disagree with his claim.

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Authors today have more ways to get published than ever before, and while that is exciting news, it can also be the source of much confusion. In fact, many authors are overwhelmed with the seemingly endless menu of options for publishing.   They are also not sure which is the best way to get their book to market.  To clarify the options that exist today and help authors make a discerning decision about their publishing choice, I wrote a white paper called, The Four Paths to Publishing. 

Here is an excerpt that lays out the premise for the paper.

The past four years have brought about more upheaval in the publishing industry than the previous 400 years combined. From the time Gutenberg invented the printing press until the introduction of the paperback about 70 years ago, there weren’t many groundbreaking innovations. However, in the last few years, the publishing world has undergone an indie revolution similar to what occurred in the film and music industries.

With the introduction of desktop publishing, print-on-demand technology, and the Internet as a direct-to-consumer distribution channel, publishing became a service consumers could purchase, instead of an industry solely dependent on middlemen (agents) and buyers (traditional publishers). In addition, the exponential growth of e-books and digital readers has accelerated change, because physical stores are no longer the only way for authors to connect with readers.

While these changes have made now the best time in history to be an author, they have also made it one of the most confusing times to be an author. Not that long ago, there was only one way to get published: find an agent; hope he or she would represent you; pray they sell your book proposal to a publisher; trust the publisher to get behind the book and believe in the project; and hope that readers would go to their local bookstore and buy your book. This description of traditional publishing (or what some now call legacy publishing) is still a viable path for authors today, but now there are three other distinct paths an author can pursue to get published: DIY, General Contractor, and Publishing Package. Each of these could be appropriately labeled as self publishing, but each offers distinct advantages.

It is available to download for free on the Author Solutions web site or by clicking here.  Use the comment section to let me know what you think. Do you agree with my assessment of the industry? Do you find the identification of the four paths helpful? I look forward to hearing your thoughts about the paper.

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A few weeks ago I had the privilege of speaking at the Writer’s Digest West Conference in Hollywood. I did a presentation titled, 7 Secrets of Successful Self Published Authors and was a panel member in the session Self Publishing in the Real World – What to Expect, What to Do, and How to Do It. I always enjoy these opportunities because I am able to bring clarity to writers and authors who can be overwhelmed and confused by all the changes taking place. Plus, I get to hear what authors are currently thinking. That is why I especially enjoy the Q&A period.

From conference to conference, I hear a lot of the same questions, but every once and a while, someone asks a question I have not heard before or asks it in a manner  that frames the issue in a different way.  At this conference,I heard two questions which I not heard expressed previously.

The first question was from an author who had a book about to go live and she asked in a somewhat exasperated tone, “What am I missing?” The reason for her question was she had been reading and preparing to launch her book and was a bit overwhelmed by all she had to do. It left her doubting whether she had missed something. Was there something she was not doing that would cause her book to be a dud?. I found the question fascinating because it illustrates the challenges many authors are facing today.

As I have shared in this blog, there are four paths to publishing today. One of them is what I call the General Contractor path, which means an author can hire a number of independent contractors to do the work of getting the book into the market.  That is the path this author was pursuing, and as her question suggested, it can be overwhelming.

The chart shows the tasks needed to get a book into the market,and as you can see there is a lot to do. That is why some authors prefer a publishing package or traditional publishing path.  In a few days, I will be releasing a white paper that provides greater detail about these publishing paths, but her question was very timely.

The second question that caught my attention was offered by a gentleman who had given his manuscript to eight different editors or agents asking for opinions. All eight gave a different critique and the range of responses were all over the map. His question was, “How do I know which editor is right?”

He was clearly frustrated, but again, this question illustrates one of the challenges  authors are experiencing as changes are taking place in publishing.  That is why I did a post a few months ago asking Alan Rinzler advice on selecting an editor.  He offered six tips on finding an editor that you can read by clicking here. I think you will find it helpful.

Drawing from Alan’s suggestion, I told the author he should make sure he is taking advice from an editor that knows his genre and also one that offers suggestions that still allow the book to be written with his voice.  I think it helped him narrow down the editors he would follow up with, but it does point out that too many opinions are not as helpful as one qualified critique.

Perhaps you have some questions about your publishing options. If so, feel free to use the comment feature to send them my way. I will do my best to answer them for you and help you chose the best path to becoming a published author.

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