Tag: <span>publishing</span>

Setting Goals

From the moment I started novel writing, my goal has been to become a published author.  But it’s only over the past couple of years that I realised what I really meant was, I wanted to be published by one of the “big five” publishers.  I’m sure I’m not alone in that.  Most writers, for a long time, will have had the same goal in mind.  Self publishing was for those who “failed” at being accepted by the big five.  Self publishing was dirty, and the big five were the only goal that any “serious writer” should be aiming for, with small presses falling somewhere in the middle of the scale.

Then came the breakthrough of e-book self publishing.  More and more people were able to get their work out there without needing to go through any publishing house, not just the giants.  And with that came an overwhelming amount of bad writing – not all of it, possibly not even most of it, but enough that it still kept self publishing as an entity to be shunned by those “serious writers” with their serious goals.  Big name authors, and the big five, were vocal in bashing the self published ebooks, saying they were drowing out the “real” talent and should be shunned accordingly.  That alone should have been a warning bell for us all, that a publisher would be denouncing a technological advancement in publishing.  But, I still held onto my goal of being published by one of the big five. That goal was the ultimate in writer goals, the dream of all dreams…

But recently I’ve been rethinking all of that.  I’ll start off by saying I’m not a big reader of ebooks.  Not because I think of them as lesser things, but because I love holding a paper book in my hands.  E-readers just aren’t the same as feeling the crisp paper as you turn a page, running your fingers over the cover to feel the shiny and matt finishes, with raised lettering of the title. There’s something intimate about it, a softness that ereaders just don’t have.  I’ve never been against ebooks for everyone else, but for me they just aren’t at a point yet to compete with the comforting feeling of reading a paper book.  And I think that had a lot to do with my mindset about self publishing for a while, because I want my work to be available in print format as well as being an ebook, and the only way I could see that being feesable was through the major publishing houses.

But that isn’t true any more.

My focus and drive for my writing has been wavering, ever since I started to wonder more about self publishing vs submitting my work to agents and publishers (when the time comes for that).  My goal of becomming a published author was wavering because really I’d been thinking “become a published author through one of the big five publishers”.  Every self publishing success story, every article or blog post that talked about the advances in self publishing, had shaken my goal without me realising it.  But it’s only today that I realised: I haven’t been doubting my goal overall, I’ve just been doubting if traditional publishing is really the way to go.

As I said, I want my work to be available in paper as well as ebook format, and the doubt surrounding the paper side of things from a self publishing point of view had made my goal uncertain.  Not because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be published – I still want that – but because I wasn’t sure how I want to be published, because I didn’t have all the information about both options.  Well, now I have a lot more information and it’s really helped my goal become a firm point in my mind. No wavering, no uncertainty.  I know I want to be published.  But now I realise that no matter which way I decide to go – traditional or self publication – I don’t have to “settle” for anything.  You can publish print books as well as ebooks through self publication, and on the flip side of that some authors are starting to retain their e-rights through the big five publishers.

Self publishing isn’t the lesser form of publishing.  A self published author can take charge of their work, and not settle for second best when it comes to paper books, marketing and distribution to brick-and-mortar stores.  Things have changed in the world of publishing, and people’s outlooks are changing as well as their buying habits.  It’s important for us as writers to get all the information we can so that our goals can be unwavering, and our focus devoted to writing (and editing!) the best books we can.

I’ll talk about the different research that I’ve done, and my findings, on future blog posts.  And more importantly, keep working on my first draft so that I can get to the stage of reaching my now firmly planted goal!


Marketing vs Writing

Last month I read an article in The Telegraph about author John Locke and how he had already sold over 1 million self published ebooks.  The article starts by saying that he “publishes and promotes his own work” but I think the key word there is promotes.

When I first read the headline I thought “Wow, how did he do that?” followed very closely with a tinge of jealousy.  But reading further it becomes very clear that he was much more focussed on the marketing than anything else.  He talks about not having a big marketing budget, but in the electronic age who really needs one?  Facebook pages, blogs, Twitter, Linked In…. there are so many ways to start the ball rolling with word-of-mouth without any words actually leaving anyone’s physical mouth.

John Locke says that when he found out Amazon pays 35% on ebooks priced at 99c, he was over the moon!  He’s been in commission sales all his life and anyone in that line of work will know that 35% really is, as he says, “like a license to print money”.  He’s obviously very talented at marketing but from the reviews of his books it seems that really is his focus and the writing tends to be sub-par.

The one thing that grabbed me right away is that he has a book out now called “How I sold 1 million ebooks in 5 months” and at the end of the article there was mention of this as a way to “find out how he did it by buying the book”.  On his blog, his posts end with similar phrasing such as, “You know how I’m celebrating? By making my marketing system available for everyone who wants to duplicate, or exceed my achievements. I wrote it all out, step-by-step. Everything I tried that didn’t work and everything that did. I’m charging $4.99 for this information via eBook, $9.99 paperback. I hope you’ll consider it a bargain, since I spent $25,000 for information that didn’t work.”

He follows the hookline closely with, “You know when my friends finally considered me an author? When I started making serious money from book sales! And no matter how nice your friends and family are, you know in your heart they’re not going to consider you a real author until the royalties start pouring in.

It’s very strong imagery, that you aren’t a real author until you earn royalties and that you won’t earn royalties unless you buy his book.  As a writer, it just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

It’s the same kind of marketing as all of those adverts on the web saying things like “I lost 6 stone in a month!  Click here to find out how!” and then you get taken to a page roping you in and at the end it says “You can find out how to do it too!  It’s all in my new book priced £39.99…”.

He seems to be very much all about the profit, which can be a big motivation for people to want to be a writer and marketing is definitely a large part of becoming a known author.  But taking the focus off the writing and putting more time into marketing the work, just makes me concerned that this kind of thinking will come back to bite new authors who focus on writing first.

Writers Beware

I was shown a link today for the blog of a budding writer.  She wrote about her road to publication and, to sum it up, how even though the road had been filled with rejection she ended up getting an agent and a book deal all in one day after self-publishing an ebook recently.  There were a couple of things in her story that seemed a bit strange to me – mainly the fact that the agent who contacted her then proceeded to sell her book to a publisher within a few hours and without a contract ever being signed between the agent and the writer.  I assumed she left that part out for legal reasons.

However, it turns out that my assumption was wrong.  She has just made a new post to say how the whole thing was a scam.  Not from her, but that she was scammed by someone pretending to be the agent in question.  She only found out when she called the agency to discuss some things and they let her know that they had recently been hacked and that they had no knowledge of her or her supposed contract.  I’m not going to link to her blog here because I’m not certain if she really was scammed, or if it was a publicity stunt to get more viewers to her blog with key phrases on the original post like “how I got published in one day!”.

If it really did happen then I feel for the girl, that must be a horrible thing to feel so elated and then so crushed in such a short amount of time.  But it’s a good lesson to everyone out there, to make sure that you are 100% certain of who you’re dealing with.

My writing isn’t at the query stage yet so I won’t be approaching agents for at least the next few months.  It’s a scary thing though, that there may be people who are doing these kinds of scams.