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Posts from the ‘publishing’ Category

Jane Friedman’s new ‘Key Book Publishing Paths’

Since 2013, I have been annually updating this informational chart about the key book publishing paths. It is available as a PDF download—ideal for photocopying and distributing for workshops and classrooms—plus the full text is also below One of the biggest questions I hear from authors today: Should I traditionally publish or self-publish? This is an increasingly complicated question to answer.

Source: The Key Book Publishing Paths: 2019-2020 by Jane Friedman

I’ve been reading Jame Friedman’s blogs for a long time. She knows her stuff. The explains it clearly. And it’s always on point when applied to the kinds of questions and concerns aspiring and emerging writers have about the business.

There seems to be a misconception that one either has to self publish or try to first his or her way into a conglomerate publisher like HarperCollins. This post explains that there are a lot of choices in between those options.

–Malcolm

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Learning from agents (yes, agents still exist)

If you want to learn about the business of books, it helps to be hungry. Not only hungry to learn, as the expression goes, but also just plain hungry, literally—it helps to have an appetite. Or an expense account. Ideally both. Because no matter how much the world of publishing has changed over the past hundred years—and, boy, has it changed since the days of Blanche Knopf, Horace Liveright, and Bennett Cerf—some things remain the same. It is still a business of relationships; it still relies on the professional connections among authors and agents and editors and the mighty web of alliances that help bring a work of literature out of the mind of the writer and onto readers’ screens and shelves. And those relationships are often sparked, deepened, and sustained during that still-sacred rite: the publishing lunch.

Four Lunches and a Breakfast: What I Learned About the Book Business While Breaking Bread With Five Hungry Agents

This is an interesting article by Kevin Larimer on the Poets & Writers website. It’s worth reading, I think, in spite of its length because many aspiring writers who want their books considered by mainstream publishers and reviewers forget that agents still exist. They are your route to big publishing. Yes, I know, in an era of Kindle Direct Publishing and CreateSpace, nobody thinks about agents or the standard methods for approaching major publishers.

Yes, publishing is changing, but one thing that hasn’t changed is that if a writer publishes his/her book, s/he will never find it on the New York Times bestseller list or reviewed by Kirkus or in the local Barnes & Noble store. Take that to the bank. So, from time to time, a reality check can be a good thing just to see how you would approach publishing if you seriously wanted a six-figure book deal and more movie options than you could shake a stick at.

Malcolm

People often ask if authors compete with each other

Sort of, kind of, maybe, if we’re up for the same award, but usually not.

In fact, if Amazon (or some unbiased guru) tells me that if I like book ABC, I will probably like book XYZ, I’ll probably take a look. Sure, I know Amazon wants me to buy more than I can afford to buy. But, if another author is writing books that Amazon thinks are competing with mine, I will probably want to read them. Why? I write the kinds of books I like to read, so if anyone else is doing it, I want to find their books.

Sometimes I’m surprised. I was looking for magical realism books this morning and found one on Amazon that came from an author I’d never heard of from a publisher I’d never heard of that had almost 4,000 customer reviews. After getting rid of a few initial feelings of jealousy, I wanted to find out how they did this. Usually, 4,000 customer reviews is something you expect for titles by famous writers. So how does somebody “come out of nowhere” and get that kind of response?

Unless one is a very avid magical realism reader and buys every new release, I doubt that my books are competing with this book. I have a feeling that I’m going to read this book. But first, I want to know how 4,000 people found out about it and took the time to post a review. Most people don’t review the books they read, so if 4,000 is a fraction of the book’s total number of readers, wow!

As writers, our first duty is telling stories. After that, the whole business falls into the black hole of marketing and promotion. So, when we see somebody who is successful, we want to know how they did it. We learn from each other, sometimes at conferences and panels and workshops, and sometimes through information on authors’ websites and interviews. Chances are, we will never be able to duplicate another author’s road to success exactly–or even inexactly. What s/he did, is probably so closely linked to who they are, where they are, the hundreds of choices of a lifetime they have made, that there is no way to “become them” and “do what they did.”

Perhaps we’ll learn one tip or a hundred tips. If so, we’re a little better off than we were before!

Malcolm

 

 

KDP Print vs. IngramSpark 

“Last month, I wrote a refresher post comparing Smashwords and Draft2Digital. This month, I think it’s probably time for a refresher post comparing KDP Print and IngramSpark. First up, KDP Print Own…”

Source: KDP Print (formerly CreateSpace) vs. IngramSpark | Celebrating Independent Authors

This handy overview lists the pros and cons of both routes of taking your book into print. Self-published and small-press authors have many decisions to make about production, publicity, and promotion, so finding this kind of information cuts through the chaos.

The author has also written an article comparing Smashwords and Draft2Digital here.

–Malcolm

Making Free Book Trailers with Lumen5

“When was the last time you had fun doing book promotion? I know; not my favorite thing, either. However, that was before I discovered Lumen5.com.”

Source: Make Free Book Trailers with Lumen5 – Indies Unlimited

Author Melissa Bowersock provides a handy introduction to Lumen5 that you can use to get started making book trailers for your books. Fortunately, my publisher does this for me. But some of my books are self-published and somehow, I hadn’t heard of this app.

I think book trailers, along with author websites and updated Amazon author’s pages are among the promotional techniques that help indie (the word now means self-published) authors sell books. It’s part of your platform.

–Malcolm

P.S. Bad news for Georgia’s independent authors. The Georgia Writers Association has announced that it is no longer accepting self-published books in its annual author of the year competition.

Publishing via IngramSpark 

“As you may have heard, Createspace is being absorbed by KDP Print. Many folks expressed interest in finding a different publisher/distributor for their print books. Indies Unlimited has had articles comparing different paperback options and explaining how to move books from CreateSpace IngramSpark, but we haven’t had one yet that shows you how easy it is to publish directly to IngramSpark.”

Source: Publishing on IngramSpark Is Easy ‹ Indies Unlimited ‹ Reader — WordPress.com

This post offers a helpful step-by-step tutorial for uploading your manuscript, including screenshots. If you’re looking for a viable alternative to CreateSpace, this post is well worth checking out. My publisher uses Ingram and I’m happy with the way my books are printed. The option of offering standard bookstore discounts and returnability is a strong point, in my view, for using this platform.

–Malcolm

Book Bits: Workplace abuse, In memoriam, literary forums,’Wrinkle in Time’ movie, stolen books

It’s getting more and more difficult to talk about books, publishing, and authors without straying into political issues that often have a very polarized reader-base.  Some people believe CNN 100%, while others believe FOX 100%. I’ve more or less stopped posting anything political on my Facebook page because it always ends up with people shouting at each other. Sexual harassment is one of those issues. I mention this here because Publishers Weekly ran into a few snags with a recent article about sexual harassment in our business (Item 1). Maybe they’ll get it sorted out this time.

  1. IssuesLetter from the Editors: Covering Sexual Abuse in the Book Business, By Jim Milliot, Rachel Deahl, and John Maher – “The difficult nature of covering the subject hit home on December 5, when we ran a story announcing the resignation of Giuseppe Castellano, executive art director of Penguin Workshop, following claims of sexual harassment by actress and comedian Charlyne Yi. The article we published was intended to be a balanced account based on verifiable facts. Not everyone agreed that it was. Some readers expressed frustration that we put too much emphasis on Castellano’s account over Yi’s.” Publishers Weekly
  2.  News: Notable Literary Deaths in 2017, by Emily Temple – “This has not been the best year. In addition to, well everything, we lost a number of literary luminaries in 2017: beloved novelists, champions of the written word, legendary editors, and genre-defining journalists.”  Literary Hub
  3. One of the new forums focusing on book and writers.

    News: The Tale of Two Literary Forums, by Malcolm R. Campbell – “If you were out on the Internet in the 1980s, you probably remember that CompuServe was a major ISP, providing e-mail and forums for millions of users. In those days, almost every hi-tech company, whether hardware or software, had a forum staffed in part by representatives of the company to help people with bugs, usage issues, and other information. In addition to these forums, CompuServe also maintained forums for pets, religion, political discussions, hobbies, and literature.” Malcolm’s Round Table

  4. Film: Hollywood’s Once and Future Classic, Hollywood’s Once and Future Classic, Why it took 54 years to turn A Wrinkle in Time into a movie, By Eliza Berman – “A Wrinkle in Time, a Disney movie based on Madeleine L’Engle’s 1962 novel of the same name, will come out on March 9, 2018. The film brings to life the story of Meg Murry, a gangly adolescent who travels across dimensions to rescue her scientist father. Meg is guided by a trio of guardian angels collectively called “the Mrs.” The book, and the movie, is about what it means to be a source of light in a world in which darkness seems only to proliferate. It also makes the case for thinking independently when conformity is the norm.” Time Magazine
  5. Quotation: “When I see a store, I MUST GO IN. I’m a sucker for books, but indie bookstores take that up a few levels because they’ll curate for me. I go in saying I want to learn about some obscure topic and they won’t look at me as if I’m from Mars! Instead it’s almost as if I see my own curiosity reflected back at me, and they share it instantly. I’ve had that same experience happen in multiple cities, so I think it’s common to independent bookstore owners and I love them for it.” – Author Jessee Mecham Shelf Awareness
  6. Review: THE ICE HOUSE – Home is a long way from here, by Laura Lee Smith, reviewed by Thane Tierney – “The Scots didn’t invent stubbornness, but they perfected it, raised it to a high art where irresistible force and immovable object are sometimes locked like two neutron stars in a perilous dance. So it is with American immigrant Johnny MacKinnon and his Scottish son, Corran, in Laura Lee Smith’s second novel, ‘The Ice House.'” Book Page
  7. Lists: The Ultimate Best Books of 2017 List, by Emily Temple – “It’s the end of the year, and everybody has an opinion. And of course, where there’s an opinion, there’s a listicle. The river of Best of 2017 lists can be exhausting this time of year, so as a public service, and because my math skills are always in need of a little exercise, I’ve created a streamlined master list of the books that the most people loved this year.” Literary Hub
  8. News: Cat Person author’s debut book sparks flurry of international publishing deals, by Alison Flood – “Following her viral short story hit, Kristen Roupenian’s You Know You Want This has been sold to Cape in the UK, with the US auction said to be topping $1m.” The Guardian
  9. ReviewLITTLE LEADERS: Bold Women in Black History, by Vashti Harrison ; illustrated by Vashti Harrison (Age Range: 6 – 12) – “Visual artist Harrison introduces 40 trailblazing black women from United States history in this inspiring volume for young readers…Perfect for exploring together at bedtime or for children to browse independently, a gorgeous invitation for children of all backgrounds, and especially for black girls, to learn about black women who were pioneers.” Kirkus Reviews
  10. News: Indie Bookstores Tell Us About Their Most Stolen Books – Which volumes walk out the door most often, and why? by Jo Lou – “Independent bookstores are magical, endangered places. Stealing from these small, often struggling establishments is a mortal sin and the Book Gods will smite you. If you must kidnap books (which you shouldn’t, because libraries exist) then steal from big box stores instead.” Electic Lit

Book Bits is compiled randomly by Malcolm R. Campbell, author of paranormal, contemporary fantasy, and magical realism novels and short stories.

Getting Started with KDP, Smashwords, and CreateSpace

“A note before we begin: All of the sites request some of the same information, so you will need to have it handy. They will ask for your name, your address, your email address, the password(s) you want to use, and some very basic financial information: your Social Security number for US residents, and the routing number and account number for the bank where you want them to deposit your royalties. And okay, another note – each will have different requirements for

Don’t be afraid. We’re here to help.

book covers, so make sure to read those on the respective sites.”

Source: Indie Author 101: How to Get Started with KDP, Smashwords, and CreateSpace – Indies Unlimited”

Good information here for authors who are just starting out in the often-confusing world of self-publishing.

Kindle, CreateSpace, and Smashwords are basic to your sucess.

–Malcolm

My novels and short stories are primarily released by Thomas-Jacob Publishing. However, with information such as Lynne Canwell discusses in the post, I send some of my work directly to Kindle.

You might just win a Kindle Fire Tablet if you sign up for my publisher’s newsletter

tjlogoThomas-Jacob Publishing is starting a newsletter to help its adoring readers keep up with upcoming books and events. Since this is my publisher, I hope the readers are adoring. I’m proud of our catalogue, featuring books by:

  • Malcolm Campbell
  • Melinda Clayton
  • Tracy Franklin
  • Michael Franklin
  • Robert Hays
  • Smoky Zeidel.

Okay, moving onto the Kindle Fire Tablet. Click on the graphic below to go to the newsletter signup page. Just a few fields to fill out and then you’re done.

The first place winner of the tablet and the two second place winners of a free paperback from Thomas-Jacob’s list will be selected in a random drawing August 17th.

TJnewsletterpromo

Good luck in the drawing!

–Malcolm

 

Do Million Dollar Debuts Give Writers Hope?

Nope.

Sure, if we were the ones getting a million dollar advance from a major publisher, we would feel hopeful about our future.

Otherwise, the feeling is one of despair.

bestsellerSure (sorry to use the word again), there may be some sour grapes behind our feelings when we read articles like Betting Big on Literary Newcomers.

After all, with the promotion, glitz, buzz and hoopla behind a book with a million bucks behind it, we could skip all the years of being anonymous, of writing novels many people like but that still don’t have the clout to get editorial reviews, of being asked what we’ve written and then getting a blank stare when we list a few of our novels.

As Jennifer Maloney writes in the Wall Street Journal article about betting big, “Social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads have contributed to a culture in which everyone reads—and tells their friends about—the same handful of books a year. It’s increasingly a winner-take-all economy, publishing executives say. ”

That’s the why behind our despair when we read about such huge advances. If your book is not one of these books, or if you’re not already a big name author, you book basically doesn’t exist in spite of all the blog tours, Amazon sales days, and GoodRead giveaways.

Our argument–as the writers down in the steerage section of the publishing ocean liner–has always been that literature would be better served if that million bucks were dedicated to the promotion of, say, ten books for one hundred grand each, or maybe twenty books at fifty grand each rather than being lavished in an advance to one person. That million doesn’t include the advertising budget.

Sometimes BIG BOOKS turn out to be really good, even wonderful. But they’re bad for literature because–like black holes–they suck all of publishing’s efforts into a small minority of what’s out there. We understand, of course, that publishers claim that the profits from big books help fund little books. Maybe, but I never see any evidence of it.

The authors who write the books that jump into the stratosphere like this worked just as hard as the authors who didn’t. But their work is being turned into a fabricated event. Big advance = lots of buzz = justified large promotional and advertising budget = high sales and many articles and book reviews. The publisher has paid to put the book on top from the starting gate.

Yes, I read these books when the critics have good things to say about them. I’m tempted like everyone else to the books I hear about. Unfortunately, like everyone else, I miss the books I don’t hear about because no advertising or promotional budget brought them to my attention.

What a shame.

–Malcolm