Category Archives: Book Shepherd

How Should I Publish? New York or On My Own? What Should I Do?

Should you publish to enhance your credibility, reputation … or just launch into a new stage of your career … or a new career.

                       

Not a week goes by that these questions don’t surface via email or a phone call:

  • Should I try to sell my book to New York?
  • Should I self-publish?
  • What’s the difference between the two?
  • What should I do?

Fair enough … all valid questions … all important. Without writing a full chapter for one of my books, let’s address these.

New York, New York
Before you decide that New York is your route, you need to ask yourself why you want to publish via New York. Do you know how many books are typically sold via New York? Do you know how much money you will net in royalties? Do you feel that you may be tainted if you don’t publish with a New York publisher? Could it be your ego speaking?

Truth be told, many, many authors feel that New York has greater credibility. Maybe—maybe it doesn’t matter. The better questions you need to address include: Who is your market? How are you going to reach out to them? Are your buyers going to go to book stores to find you? What is your game plan? Better yet, do you have one?

More times than not, authors come away a tad sour from their New York experience—they thought it would be so much more—that the publisher would pitch and market the book everywhere; sell gazillions of copies; get them a blizzard of media; they would make oodles of money; it would be so much fun; and all would live happily ever after.

New York will produce, print and publish your book approximately 18 months after you sign the contract. It promises to do all that via the contract you sign. New York also brings distribution channels—that doesn’t guarantee you are going to be in a book store. And that’s just about it.  Authors must understand that in the great majority of cases, they—not a publicist supplied by the publisher—are going to become the PR and marketing pros. Publishing with New York means that you aren’t fronting the production fees for your book—which could easily run into the thousands of dollars—but that’s where the book stops.

The average author with New York sells around 500 books these days—it’s why, if they take a book, the advances are quite small. Oh, the big names of New York Times bestseller status do get advance dollars—but they are in the minority. Most authors, especially first-times are looking at the dregs. And that 500 copies sold only produces a few thousand dollars.

 

 

Or Not …

Why would you consider taking another route … the route where you do it yourself? Start with:

Timing. If the traditional New York publisher’s round-trip for publishing a book is 18 months, the self and independent routes are far more attractive. Once an edited manuscript goes to layout, timing is a few weeks and printing another four (offset is four-five weeks, digital less than two weeks, POD a few days), an author is looking at printed books arriving in less than two months. Much more attractive, especially if there is an event that the author can be selling books at—meaning full, or close to, full retail price.

Quality. It’s morphed—New York has cut corners—from paper quality to even the amount of glue used for perfect bound books. Authors, using the vast networks available to them via the independent publishing route can discover a variety of pros to assist them. Yes, you pay upfront … but shop, negotiate where you can, make sure you check references and get samples of work before you sign anything.

Control. If wanting the final say of what the cover design is; if approving what the interior looks like; and if specifying time lines are important to you—than being in control is something that plays in your court. When you self and independent publish, think of yourself as the general contractor. Yes, it takes work … lots of it … but the pay-off and satisfaction can be significant.

Money. If you put together your Platforms and Marketing Plans—are committed and see the publishing process as a business, the money can be significantly greater publishing it yourself versus with New York. When you sell any books directly to a buyer, you get the money … also directly. If you want to make a living via authoring, learning how to publish yourself—either in the “self publishing” or “independent publishing” route—can be lucrative.

What Should You Do?
Don’t think of New York as an either/or option. You can do both, and it may make sense to just that. In fact, one strategy is to publish on your own, do well with the objective of getting an editors attention in New York, who in turn makes an offer. Not an uncommon thing for a successful self or indie publisher/author to receive.

Start your learning curve today. Get involved with legitimate publishing groups. Join them, attend their meetings. Meet and schmooze with other authors—what worked, what didn’t? Who did they work with that they would work with again and who would they avoid? Look at their books? If they are eBook authors only, same questions.  Most important, understand whatever option you choose, this thing called publishing is a business. There are expenses/outgo … and the ultimate goal is to have income/revenues.

For me, I started with New York in 1979 and 18 of my 30 books have been with them. It’s been a long journey. I learned a lot. But it wasn’t until I started publishing on my own in 2000 that I began to really know publishing … and know it well, I do. Would I publish with New York again? Maybe. Maybe not. Right now, I like the Control, Quality, Timing and Money options.

  Judith Briles

 is the Author and Publishing Expert, The Book Shepherd (www.TheBookShepherd.com) and the Founder of Author U (niversity (www.AuthorU.org), a membership organization created for the author who wants to be seriously successful. She’s been writing about and conducting workshops on publishing since the 80s. Judith is the author of 30 books including Show Me About Book Publishing, co-written with John Kremer and Rick Frishman and a speaker at publishing conferences. Her next book, Author YOU: Creating and Developing the Author and Book Platforms will be available fall 2012. Catch her radio show, Your Guide to Book Publishing on Thursdays at 6 pm, EST. http://rockstarradionetwork.com/shows/yourguidetobookpublishing

Follow @AuthorU and @MyBookShepherd on Twitter and do a “Like” at AuthorU and TheBookShepherd on Facebook. Join the Author U LinkedIn group and add your voice. If you want to create a book that has no regrets, contact her at Judith@Briles.com.

 

Book Publishing: Eat, Prey & Kind of Love …

Eat, Prey & Kind of Love …

First of all, I have to tell you . . . I did not like Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Eat, Pray, Love. Oh, there’s no question that the author is talented. It’s well written—about a married women who doesn’t want to be married. She’s got to do a re-direct on her life to find herself, so she’s taking a year off and schmoozing, speaking Italian and eating in Italy, praying in India, and loving in Indonesia.

Did I mention she does love her husband, David—the one she doesn’t want to be married to? What scares the hooey out of her is having a baby—something that, in the early days of their relationship, they agreed they would do when the big 30 hit. Fast forward to now; it’s approaching and our author is a blabbering mess.

Here’s what I didn’t like about the book and the author: she did not communicate to hubby that babies weren’t her forte and that it wasn’t going to work for her. Then the two could have come to closure instead of her dumping him for a new language, some pasta, and eventually meeting a guy who wasn’t interested in increasing the population.

What’s this got to do with authoring and publishing besides the book itself? Everything. Let’s start with clear, effective communicating, which is what many of the iUniverses, AuthorHouses and those who package publishing projects don’t do. My favorite thing about AuthorHouse is the coining of the word “authorcentric”—it’s a very cool word and one that I embrace. I wish AuthorHouse did. Then there’s iUniverse, which claims to be the champion of “supported self-publishing.” What’s supported self-publishing? Per iUniverse (via its website):

Self-publishing your book with the support of iUniverse is a professional, affordable, and fast way to get your book into print. Compared to publishing on your own, it costs you control of some aspects of the publishing process, but only in exchange for less hassle and expense. iUniverse professionals with book-publishing expertise will educate and guide you through the entire process for an affordable price. Supported self-publishing also enables you to test your marketing abilities and learn about the publicity process without emptying your bank account or making it your full-time career. And, because you control the rights to your book, you can get started with supported self-publishing but move to a traditional publisher—or choose to self-publish on your own—after you have experience and a track record.

Let’s look at the folks at AuthorHouse via its website:

AuthorHouse has grown into the largest self-publishing company in the world – responsible for helping more than 40,000 authors publish more than 60,000 books. AuthorHouse allows you to maintain creative and financial control of your book while receiving all the personalized attention and support you need – from publishing to promotion and everything between. AND AuthorHouse has  print-on-demand service that combines high-quality production with speed to market. Plus, formatting options and distribution capabilities can help set your book up for selling success.

Each boasts about its marketing services (very expensive), low cost entry into publishing for the author, generous payments (really?), distribution capability, etc., etc. AuthorHouse and iUniverse are just two of the many, many who proclaim themselves as “self-publishers” but who are, in reality, Vanity Presses. Period—nothing more, nothing less. They are huge and have a literal boiler-room approach, just like a hounding credit collection agency would—dial and re-dial … “If you don’t respond by today at two, our special offer will no longer be available … blah, blah, blah.” They eat, prey (on writers), and probably just love themselves. Communicate clearly? … nope. It’s grey everywhere.

They all use a POD model—which I’m the first to admit has a spot where it’s the right method for a quick print or end of life. But for the serious author/publisher, the one who intends on making money with a pBook format, this is a pass.

Self-publishers who are truly serious about their books and being successful need to step, no run, away from the term self-publishing. It no longer fits. The correct term is small press or independent publisher. Use it. Embrace it. Wear it with pride.

 

Judith Briles is known as The Book Shepherd (www.TheBookShepherd.com) and the Founder of Author U (niversity (www.AuthorU.org), a membership organization created for the serious author who wants to be seriously successful. She’s been writing about and conducting workshops on publishing since the 80s. She’s the author of 28 books including Show Me About Book Publishing, co-written with John Kremer and Rick Frishman and a speaker at publishing conferences. Follow @AuthorU and @MyBookShepherd on Twitter and do a “Like” AuthorU and TheBookShepherd on Facebook.  If you want to create a book that has no regrets, contact her at Judith@Briles.com.

 

 

Book Publishing: It’s Not a Fad … It’s a Trend-Skipping NY

 

Book Publishing: It’s Not a Fad … It’s a Trend

A distinct trend has surfaced with book shepherding clients I’ve worked with this past year. These successful, traditionally published authors are choosing to bypass New York. Yes, if they offered their ideas, their manuscripts to the traditional publishing community via their agents, the odds were extremely high that they would receive a hefty offer to publish the new book. Yet, these authors chose not to. Why?

For years, I’ve been talking about the four primary reasons I left traditional publishing: control, quality, timing, and money. Their reasons matched mine. What publishers do in support of authors has declined to a minor fraction of just 10 years ago; in fact, most have turned into quasi printing houses that include cover design and minor editing only. Marketing has been pushed to the author with the expectation that if an advance had been paid, it would be used to promote the book. Publishing corners have been cut from the quality of paper and covers to the amount of glue in the spines. And authors have awakened to the fact that publishers are leaving a lot of money out of their pockets.

Just as kids grow up, express their independence, and get their drivers licenses, authors now want the keys to the publishing car. And it’s long overdue.

That’s where Author U comes in. You have the keys—with your hands on the wheel, you can go anywhere. The “anywhere” will be based on your platform, your vision, and your commitment. Along the way, Author U will introduce you to pit stops that will fuel your journey. You just have to keep refueling in the process. That’s where the Author U community comes into play along with the variety of programs that are available—some in person, others via computer.

Throughout the summer, the Tech Tool Box, Monday Evening Salons, and Webinars R Us have been active—book creation and book marketing don’t take vacations. Participating in them gives our members the up-front and personal attention by the presenters to dig down, learn the concept or tool, and implement them. Webinars have plenty of seats; Salons and Tech Tool Boxes are limited, with each being sold out. Make sure you check the dates and topics for each within The Resource newsletter and on the Author U website and sign up early.

The rest of the Author U year has been planned. Dinner and a Program will return on September 15th with presenter Jon Tandler focusing on all things legal in the publishing world—come with your list of questions. October 22nd will be a Saturday BootCamp that reveals a variety of “how-tos” in creating an Internet Book Launch, identifying the right partners, and the creating of gifts and prizes and special websites to funnel it all through. On November 17th, Steve Stone will deliver a Multi-Media Internet program with wonderful goodies to add to your website.

Author U starts a new tradition and will be going to the Holiday Mart sponsored by Denver’s Junior League in October. Participating members will have the opportunity to sell their books to thousands of pre-Holiday shoppers that are attracted to the event every year.

There’s lots on the Author U Highway … choose which pit stops will supply the fuel that you and your book needs.