Category Archives: Self-Publishing

Does Convention Visibility Matter?

In the past few weeks, I’ve seen many successful writers make mention of the issue of visibility – the connecting of interested reader with published story.  These writers were not happy with their current visibility, and all commented about how difficult it was to know what would and wouldn’t work to increase success.  And these writers are trade-published, having the same conversation self-published writers have every day.

Gen Con’s Writer Symposium was quite educational in that regard.

A panel on how to get reviews was very specific in how writers were to approach reviewers, with all emphasis on demonstrating proper etiquette and expecting nothing in return.  The writer should submit a request.  The writer shouldn’t expect a response.  One panelist stated publishers didn’t do the reviewer-approaching for most writers anymore and the other panelists nodded agreement.  The consensus was that all but the most-publicized writers should expect to actively seek and collect their own reviews.  Whether the trade-published author was expected to send the reviewer an ARC and/or eARC at their own cost wasn’t clear to me.

As the panelists went into greater detail on the methods of gaining reviews and properly reacting to reviews, I was thinking to myself it was great information.  I’d love to approach other reviewers and–fingers crossed!–achieve a little positive visibility.  Here was the roadmap, right?

Nope.

Continue reading Does Convention Visibility Matter?

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A Window To Kindle Scout Perspectives

CliffWindowI really didn’t want to blog about Amazon’s Kindle Scout—I’m not interested in the good/bad debate—but I do think the conversation about the program is highlighting perfectly the business divide between self-publishers and (most) hybrids, and those who are focused solely (or overwhelmingly) on landing or keeping a contract with a “traditional” publishing contract.

In short, as Jim Hines says, Kindle Scout crowdsources the slush pile.  Writers submit their work and are encouraged to publicize their participation.  Readers nominate their favorite books.  The books with the most nominations are “more likely,” in Amazon’s words, to be reviewed by Amazon.  Amazon will then select the books it wants to publish.

I emphasize that last point because some have wrongly claimed Amazon will publish books with the most votes.  Nope.  Votes garner attention, not contracts.

My intent isn’t to rah-rah for or against Kindle Scout, but to look at why different writers with different perspectives have different reactions and opinions.  Personally, I want to see what shakes out in the next three months before I make a decision.

One issue that has caused a minor stir is that writers who enter Kindle Scout agree, at the moment of entry, to the contract terms.  To my knowledge, that’s similar to many contests.  I don’t believe the contracts for Glimmer Train’s competitions are negotiable, for example, but I’m willing to be corrected.  I’d also be interested in knowing if past contracts offered under contests like Warner Aspect’s First Novel Contest were negotiable.

I personally don’t much like things I can’t negotiate–my knee-jerk hang-up.  I’d love to see, say, SFWA and RWA look at the terms and make professional recommendations to Amazon.  For example, I’ve seen some opinions on the Scout indemnity clause that make me wonder enough to want the opinion of a pair of legal eyes, as well as a comparison to trade-publishing’s indemnity clauses.

On the other hand, the contract terms are right out in the open.  There aren’t surprises.  You either like them or you don’t, and if Amazon doesn’t select your work within 30 days, you’re still free to publish it on your own.

In contrast, Amtrak’s recent contest rules stated all submitted materials became immediately the property of Amtrak—including the work of those who didn’t win.  Many writers—self-published and trade-published—spoke out against that rule.  And many writers decided the mere chance of winning a train ride was worth losing exclusive rights to their submitted work.  As far as I could tell, those sides didn’t fall along self/trade lines.

So what about the Kindle Scout issues that do?

Continue reading A Window To Kindle Scout Perspectives

Serpent Heart

SerpentCoverApril2015

Less than a month ago, I discovered a novella I’d written — and thought lost forever — many years past.

By this weekend, I’ll start rolling it out through distributors.  It’ll show up at Smashwords first (since it takes a couple days for them to get it out to other sites), then Amazon and Nook.  As soon as it goes live, I’ll post the opening scene, too.

In the meantime…

Shiny cover!  And a blurb!

Azim, son of the deposed warrior-prince of Tirhaj, dreams of winged serpents commanding him to retake the city of his birth. But no one will fight beside an impoverished, untested seventeen-year-old until a wealthy patron sends Azim off with coin, warriors, and the assurance of victory. But Azim didn’t consider possible betrayal and contempt, and his sister Aaminah never expected to fight a battle of her own against the conqueror’s son.

Trapped by failure and weakened by treachery, bowing to defeat is their best hope. Yet still they hear the serpents call — in dreams, in visions, and in reality.

Seek, Hearts of Tirhaj. Seek, remember, return…


If Self-Publishing Is On Your Mind

… and if you’re worried about doing it “right,” check out When You Are Your Own Publisher over at Jaye’s blog.

Don’t let fear of making a mistake keep you from reaching for accomplishment. Mistakes are fixable. Far more fixable in self-publishing than in trade publishing. A certain level of anxiety is good–it pushes us to check and double-check, to put our best work forward–but too much anxiety leads to really bad decisions.

Reviewing Reviews

After hanging around writers in various states of publish for the last twenty-plus years, you’d think I’d have internalized the “Don’t read your reviews!” advice.

After hanging around me for not too long, you’d see I can be quietly and subversively hardheaded about certain pieces of advice.

I do indeed read my reviews (a simple process these days, since I don’t get that many).  And I consider what they mean, individually and collectively, about how I’ve connected with readers.

That phrase—connected with readers—is the foundation of my review-reading mindset.  It isn’t about judging “quality;” it is about understanding if what I produced matched the readers’ expectations.

Continue reading Reviewing Reviews

An Additional Piece on Author Solutions

David Gaughran takes on the Author Solutions situation again, this time from the perspective of their participation in a Canadian book festival.

The festival’s stance boils down to, “Well, writers should know to investigate them first.”

Here’s the deal: Writers trust writers groups and book festivals.  They assume there is a basic ethical standard that would keep said groups from inviting and supporting known scam artists to stand beside professionals at their events.  They assume said groups wouldn’t want their own professional image tarnished.

Increasingly, alas, it’s the assumption of shared basic ethics that permitting companies like ASI to hook new writers with the full support of publishers and book festival organizers.  “Sure, ASI is ripping people off, but we’ll keep endorsing them as Super Cool, and blame the writers who fall for it!”

Go read the article and marvel at the book festival response.

 

On Self-Publishing: An Informed Article

From Forbes, The Future of Self-Publishing:

There is a steep learning curve to self-publishing, and it’s one that not every author wants to, or is able to climb. If you have a traditional publishing deal and you’re happy with it, why would you want to take on all that extra work? As Abercrombie says, publishers can do all that for you.

However, going the traditional route doesn’t come without its own overheads. As a fledgling author seeking a deal, ie is at the same point in their career as the newbie self-publisher, one has to learn how to write compelling synopses of your work, how to write a query letter, figure out which agents are accepting unsolicited manuscripts and how to format that manuscript appropriately.”

And how to adapt to the submission preferences of each agent, track responses or lack thereof, remain up-to-date on agents that are considered good and reputable, perhaps invest in conventions and workshops in order to meet and hear directly from attending agents and editors…

The article also points out how self-publishing processes will adapt and develop to better serve the market, and many self-publishers will manage that learning curve just fine.