Friday Conversations With A Self-Publishing Writer 9/13/13

Today’s blog may sound a bit technical as my thoughts have turned to the importance of having your work published. The old adage is true: Everyone has a story to tell. There is another saying that is equally true: Everyone is not a writer. And, some of the books that reach the shelves and/or the internet—whether published in the mainstream or self-published—should not be there. The author may have had the best idea on the planet, but could not communicate it well, or chose a genre that does not fit the subject material. Thus the positive impact of the book is lost. Here is where a ghostwriter can make a world of difference.

Finding the right ghostwriter to assist you is likened to finding the right marriage partner. Although this writing relationship may not exist for a lifetime, the connection between writer and ghostwriter must be compatible. Here are a few things to look for when discussing your project with a potential writing partner:

1) It is preferred to meet with and interview the ghostwriter in person. However, if this is not possible, telephone conversations can provide you with enough information to make your selection. I have successfully worked with several clients long-distance yet we have never met in person.
2) Ask for information about their past projects. If referrals are available—authors who will talk with you about their experience with this ghostwriter—this is the best resource.
a. Responsibility and reliability are two key components in a writing partner. When talking with referrals, ask about the timeliness of the ghostwriter’s production work.
b. Your budget is important, too. Although the former clients may not choose to reveal their personal payment plan, you can ask them if they felt they received poor, fair, good or excellent value for the amount paid.
3) As you talk about your project, listen carefully to the ghostwriter’s responses.
a. Are they knowledgeable about your genre of choice?
b. Do they actually hear what you are saying?
c. Do you find it easy to talk with them—as if you are already friends?
4) As the author of your project, you have a distinct writing voice. If you have quickly established a comfortable rapport with the ghostwriter, chances are good that they will be able to identify your voice and use it to enhance your project. This is vital to the authenticity of your book. When you are asked to a book signing and/or speaking engagement, it is essential that you speak in the voice of the book.
5) Your writing partner must have an excellent “handle” on the English language.
a. Grammar, sentence structure, and punctuation all hold a valuable place in communicating with the reader. However, I’m one of those people who believe that the concept of communication is the key component in the use of grammar and spelling skills. This skill must be used in maintaining the author’s voice throughout the book.
b. If you are writing a technical document for publication at the university-level of academia, you definitely need a ghostwriter who has that experience.
c. If you are writing in the genre of historical fiction, romance, mystery, science fiction, memoir, pet stories, cookbooks, etc. then the ghostwriter who loves language for its communication value is the preferred choice.

Bottom line: Harmony between author and ghostwriter is essential and produces excellence.

Royalene ABOUT ROYALENE DOYLE: Royalene Doyle is a Ghostwriter with Outskirts Press, bringing more than 35 years of writing experience to authors who need “just a little assistance” with completing their writing projects. She has worked with both experienced and fledgling writers helping complete projects in multiple genres. When a writer brings the passion they have for their work and combines it with Royalene’s passion to see the finished project in print, books are published and the writer’s legacy is passed forward.

Friday Conversations With A Self-Publishing Writer 8/30/13

From my perspective—over 50 years of living with the writer-within—I’ve come to greatly appreciate the freedom that self-publishing offers.  When ideas, plots, characters and scenarios flow so quickly, there are literally flying pages circling around you.  That is the time to slow down and find a home for at least one of your favorite pieces; the time to develop a relationship with a publisher or self-publishing press; the time for readers to have access to your best work.

The majority of writers I know seem to possess an extra DNA molecule, a dominant genetic inclination to create volumes of pages that literally bleed their ideas onto paper.  Yet only a few—within this circle of friends—are published.  Instead, most have a large file of politely phrased reject letters.  For some, this file has created a trapdoor in their minds; when they fall into it, they wonder what—if anything—will ever happen to all those masterpieces.

Enter the self-publishing press—stage right.  Gone is the stigma of self-publishing.  A new pride now comes to the authors who take that step and release their books to the readers of the world.  The doors are now wide open to every author in every field of writing.  And, other creative industries are watching, especially agents looking for the next Stephen King, Ted Dekker, Dan Brown or Debbie Macomber.

Sometimes when I talk with writers I hear a slow release of energy as they express their doubt that their particular project(s) will ever be published.  Then we leave the topic of publishing behind for a while and share the stories: the stories of their writing lives, the development of their manuscripts and the heart behind the imaginings that push them to write the stories.  Once a writer realizes that their works are meant to be published, the progress to reach that goal becomes much easier.

Personally, I enjoy working with new authors or writers whose lives took a turn and they are just returning to their projects—writers who present me with artistically written materials in the genres of children’s books, young adult fiction, historical fiction, science fiction and especially Christian fiction and nonfiction.

Have I ever had to respectfully decline a project?  Only twice.  The gift of writing does not come to everyone in spite of the old saying that “every living soul has a great book manuscript in their desk drawer.”  The words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs, pages, must flow and offer the reader either excellent information or a moment of vision into another perspective, another life, another world.  What a gift to the ghostwriter who can be part of that!

Royalene ABOUT ROYALENE DOYLE: Royalene Doyle is a Ghostwriter with Outskirts Press, bringing more than 35 years of writing experience to authors who need “just a little assistance” with completing their writing projects. She has worked with both experienced and fledgling writers helping complete projects in multiple genres. When a writer brings the passion they have for their work and combines it with Royalene’s passion to see the finished project in print, books are published and the writer’s legacy is passed forward.

Top Four Reasons to Self-Publish: Part 4 – Rights

Last month, I did a series on the most popular questions self-publishing authors ask. The posts were such a hit, I’ve decided to do another series this month. Each week in August, I will discuss one of the top four reasons why you should self-publish your book.

This week, I’ll discuss book rights. (In case you missed the last three reasons, be sure to go back and view those posts: Control, Money, and Trade and Distribution.)

As a self-publishing author, you maintain all rights to your book. This gives authors the freedom to sell or keep the rights as they see fit. However, it is important to note that self-published books will be considered “previously published” if the author later chooses to sell the book to a traditional publisher.

Owning book rights such as translation rights and film rights can have a significant impact on an author’s profitability.

Authors who use traditional publishing firms often give up most of the book rights but are usually entitled to a small percentage of the profit if the firm sells the rights to someone else. Self-publishing authors have the opportunity to choose if and how to sell their book rights to ensure they are getting the best deal possible.

I’d love to know, how has owning the rights to your book influenced your publishing decisions?

ABOUT JODEE THAYER: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Jodee Thayer works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps and publishing consultants; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process in order to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Jodee Thayer can put you on the right path.

Friday Conversations With A Self-Publishing Writer 8/23/13

 

Quite some time ago—back in the ‘90s—one of my close writing friends and I debated the benefits of mainstream publishing versus self-publishing. At that time we both walked away in agreement that the established publishing houses did, indeed, have an edge over the self-publishing presses. Yet, just recently, we discussed that issue again with the eye-opening conclusion that the self-publishing industry is winning this race big time—especially as writers find it necessary to retain control of their work.

Within our sphere of writer-acquaintances we knew of two authors who had published in the last year—one with a semi-major publishing house and one with an established self-publishing press. The “house” author had signed his contract two months shy of three years before his book reached bookstores. The ebook and online presence came along much later. The “press” author held her finished book in her hand 98-days after submitting the manuscript with immediate availability to bookstores, ebooks and online book sites.

That comparison alone has brought many new champions to the field of self-publishing. However, in the case of these two authors, the big factor for me was their levels of stress throughout the publishing process. The “press” author experienced a few hiccups over those 98 days, mainly caused by the learning curve of self-publishing terminologies. The “house” author found himself dealing with three different editors over that long period of time, each with their own “read” of how the book should be “strengthened.” He often felt as if he was defending himself and the way he had created his characters and storyline. That was major stress.

As my work with authors expands, I understand and appreciate that most writers—whether published authors or not—experience a form of travail in the creation of their works. Even though their objective is to publish, the release of those pages can be traumatic. So it has become my goal to do what I can to ease the pain.

Rarely, these days, do I recommend that an author seek out a publishing “house.” From my perspective the benefits of self-publishing far outweighs what little prestige remains in being identified with any of the mainstream publishers. The process of self-publishing is quick, almost painless, and greatly satisfying when Readers begin enjoying the author’s book and add reviews that reflect their appreciation. Plus, the freedom that comes with this quick-release self-publishing, immediately makes room for the next creative endeavor.

Royalene ABOUT ROYALENE DOYLE: Royalene Doyle is a Ghostwriter with Outskirts Press, bringing more than 35 years of writing experience to authors who need “just a little assistance” with completing their writing projects. She has worked with both experienced and fledgling writers helping complete projects in multiple genres. When a writer brings the passion they have for their work and combines it with Royalene’s passion to see the finished project in print, books are published and the writer’s legacy is passed forward.

Top Four Reasons to Self-Publish: Part 3 – Trade Discounts and Distribution

Last month, I did a series on the most popular questions self-publishing authors ask. The posts were such a hit, I’ve decided to do another series this month. Each week in August, I will discuss one of the top four reasons why you should self-publish your book.

This week, I’ll discuss trade discounts and distribution. Unlike traditional publishing, self-publishing allows authors to choose the type of distribution that is appropriate for their material and marketing goals.

When thinking about distribution, it is important for authors to understand how the process works. For starters, “trade discount” is an industry term for profit margin. This rate impacts who buys and sells your books as well as the profits you will make off of your book.

For instance, shelf space in a brick and mortar chain bookstore has very specific requirements: the books must have a very high trade discount (50% to 55%). Therefore, if you buy a book at one of these bookstores  for $14.95, 55% of the retail price ($8.22) is divided between the store and the wholesale distributor for their profit. When you subtract the $8.22 from the $14.95, you are left with $6.73. This remainder covers the cost of the actual book. The balance that is left after the price of the book is the author royalty. Typically, authors receive very low royalties in these scenarios.

In addition to needing a high trade discount, authors also need to provide the bookstore with a “Retail Returns Program.” This program allows the bookstores to return books to the wholesaler and get their money back if the books do not sell. You must provide this program to the retailers, but having it is no guarantee that they will agree to stock your book.

Conversely, authors that elect to focus on internet sales may select a much lower trade discount as the internet book sites do not require as large of a profit margin. So that same $14.95 retail priced book under a 25% trade discount would look like this mathematically: $14.95 – $3.74 (25% of the retail price) = $11.21 – the actual cost of your book = your royalty. Obviously, $11.21 is a larger number than $6.73. Therefore, your royalty will be greater if sold by an online distributor, assuming the cost of your book remains the same in each equation.

Freedom to choose your trade discount and distribution center is just one of the many perks of self-publishing. To learn more about trade discounts, check out Cheri’s post titled Trade Discounts 101. It provides a great overview of industry standards and questions to ask yourself before setting your discount.

ABOUT JODEE THAYER: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Jodee Thayer works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps and publishing consultants; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process in order to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Jodee Thayer can put you on the right path.

Top Four Reasons to Self-Publish: Part 2 – Money

Last month, I did a series on the most popular questions self-publishing authors ask. The posts were such a hit, I’ve decided to do another series this month. Each week in August, I will discuss one of the top four reasons why you should self-publish your book.

This week, I’ll discuss one of the most popular reasons authors choose to self-publish: money. (Check out last week’s post on control.) There are two things that are unique about self-publishing in relation to money.

1) The author sets the price.

The price of your book influences the profit you make and how well your book sells. Different authors have different pricing strategies, and you need to give this decision a lot of thought. Rather than a publisher deciding the value of your book, you set the price based on your goals and personal situation.

2) The author earns100% royalties.

If you talk to authors who use traditional publishing firms, royalties are a hot topic. Many authors are unhappy with the royalty rate (which is often in the single digits). Self-publishing authors enjoy 100% royalties. Yes, 100%. Whatever you earn from your book is yours to keep. This reason alone is why many writers choose to self-publish their work.

I’d love to know, how has price and royalty influenced your publishing decisions?

ABOUT JODEE THAYER: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Jodee Thayer works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps and publishing consultants; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process in order to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Jodee Thayer can put you on the right path.

Top Four Reasons to Self-Publish: Part 1 – Control

Last month, I did a series on the most popular questions self-publishing authors ask. The posts were such a hit, I’ve decided to do another series this month. Each week in August, I will discuss one of the top four reasons why you should self-publish your book.

The first reason I’ll discuss is my personal favorite: control. Self-publishing allows the author to control the entire process: the manuscript’s content, the cover design and copy, even the selling price. This is a completely different experience than if you  use a traditional publisher.

With traditional publishing, the editor or publishing firm calls all the shots. They decide how your book should read. They choose what it will look, when it will be released, how much it will sell for, etc.

While there is nothing “wrong” with the traditional publishing route, many authors cherish their work so much they can’t stand the thought of someone else being in control of their project. Others want the creative freedom to express themselves and to take chances.

Control is the number one reason why famous authors who have previously published with traditional publishing companies are choosing to self-publish their books.

The Huffington Post recently interviewed six popular authors who switched to self-publishing because they wanted control. You can read the interview at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/16/why-traditionally-publish_n_2487464.html.

I’d love to know, how has the need for control influenced your publishing decisions?

ABOUT JODEE THAYER: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Jodee Thayer works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps and publishing consultants; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process in order to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Jodee Thayer can put you on the right path.