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Nathan Bransford, who worked as a literary agent and then turned author, hosts Nathalie Whipple on the subject of the difference between "legacy" (traditional) and indie (self) publishers. The article explains the basics without going into too deep a discussion of why an author would choose one form of publishing over another.

The bottom line is that we are in the midst (or perhaps the end) of a period of time when most authors who went indie didn't have a choice. They were dropped by their traditional publishers or their advances went down past the point of sustainability or some other reason that caused them to look elsewhere. If they were going indie, they had to figure out how to get the same professional level of editing and book production that we take for granted with traditional publishers. Now that's happened -- which is not to say that there are no sloppily produced, unedited self-published books, but that there is an emerging understanding of how to do it right. This includes more readily available resources. Promoting self-published books takes an enormous amount of time and energy, that many authors feel could be better spent writing the next book. But it may not be necessary to perform every function of a legacy publisher by yourself.

When Book View Cafe (the online writer's cooperative) was founded over 5 years ago, we concentrated on epublishing our out of print backlist books. These had already gone through the editorial process and while they needed proofreading, they were essentially ready to go. Gradually we created internal procedures (a consensus understanding leading to a publication checklist) that enables us to not only put out quality original ebooks, but printed editions as well. (This latter is still in process, but I'm confident that there will soon be a BVC POD imprint.) We have contracts with audiobook producers and library distributors. We did this collectively, pooling our skills, but many of these opportunities are available to single self-published authors as well.

It will be fascinating to see what the next 5 years brings.

Self-publishing vs. Traditional: Some Straight Talk | Nathan Bransford, Author
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My friend Mary Rosenblum calls herself a "literary midwife." She's not only an amazing writer but has taught writing for many years and now offers a variety of editorial and publishing services, and a cool newsletter, The New Writer's Interface.

We talk about keeping a balance in our lives between work, love, and play. Sometimes they all come together, with love at the center. Mary tells a story of how she edited and published a collection of charming stories her neighbor wrote about a cat:


Norm stopped me on the street a few weeks ago. “I hear you help writers publish books,” he said hesitantly. “My wife wrote this children’s picture book a long time ago. People said she should publish it but she never did.” I was already gathering up the gentle excuses; too many clients, not enough time, I don’t really work with children’s picture books…  I didn't want to take his money to edit the 'best seller' I was willing to bet he expected.

“She’s really depressed,” he went on. “She hasn’t smiled since she went in [the nursing home].  I don't care what it costs to publish it,  I’m hoping this will cheer her up, give her something to feel good about.”

My little tower of excuses came tumbling down. “Uh, sure.” I did not gulp. “Let me come take a look at it.”

Books can mean so many things, including ways of telling the stories of our hearts, remembering our lives, honoring those we love.

Read the whole story here.

deborahjross: (Shield #1)
Chris Dolley on Book View Cafe -- how we got started, how we work cooperatively, our successes and challenges.

We find that cooperation works surprisingly well. Part of this comes down to our selection procedure where ‘plays well with others’ is seen as an essential prerequisite to membership. Plus volunteering is catching. When you see people giving up their time to help you with your book, guiding you through the maze of book production and giving you marketing tips that you’d never even thought of…you feel compelled to return the favor. As one of our newer authors said recently, “This place *rocks.* I’ve never been so supported in my writing career!”

An Author-run Publishing Co-op With a Record of Success | Publishing Perspectives
deborahjross: (Shield #1)
[ profile] dancing_horse and other writers hold forth on crowdsourcing:

"To use a severely overused word, this is a game-changer. For writers with established midlist careers and a dedicated fan following, it is possible to bypass the agents and publishers altogether and go direct to the readers. The readers judge, up front and in person, whether they want to throw their money in the pot—and if so, how much. ...What it does that has not been possible in all the time I’ve been in this business is let a small group of readers and fans support writers whose work they want to read. It’s a godsend for writers whose publishers have let them go for lack of sales; who have written series that were cut before completion; who have written projects that don’t fit the larger schematics—too odd or niche or cross-genre— but that do indeed have an audience waiting for just that kind of thing. Like space opera by a Female Fantasy Writer who isn’t a twentysomething."

MIND MELD: What Crowd Funding SF/F Novels Means for Authors and Publishers - SF Signal
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This seems to be the season for great author interviews - yesterday [ profile] desperance and today, [ profile] dancinghorse:

Author Interview Special Edition – Judith Tarr, American Fantasy Writer | Ideas Captured

She says: Write what’s in your heart to write. Don’t try to write to market, or let anyone else dictate what you write. Of course you will listen to input at the revision stage, but when you decide on a subject–that should be all you.

Ah, balm to the heart of any writer struggling which all the howls and shrieks about "the market" and how to play that game - that drown out that precious inner voice.

This leads me to a moment of appreciation for my agent. Judith says she used to run ideas by hers and get advice/feedback on where the market was likely to go. Certainly, that's a common and accepted discussion. Agents must feel a great deal of frustration when they love an author's work and can't find a home for it in traditional publishing. But it's not a conversation I typically have with mine. I don't know if that's because of how this particular agent works, or our own history, or that I have not had occasion to ask (in the last decade, when I've been focusing on the Darkover series).

I just turned in my original epic fantasy - The Seven-Petaled Shield, all 3 books of it, completing the first round of editorial revisions - and opened a conversation about where to go from here. Whether to stay within this subgenre or branch out into something I haven't tried. We talked about the risks of writing more books in a given world or type of story when we won't know how well the first books do for some time (although that information is easier to come by now than years ago, when you had to wait through several royalty statement periods). Here's what he said:

"... the fact is that this what you are best at, what you love to do, and you have a rich world crying out to be further developed. Trying to write in other fields, genres, and formats which you aren't committed to deep down is probably not going to result in a book we can sell."

In other words, he gave me Judy's advice: write from your heart and passion.
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A great podcast interview with Betsy Wollheim of DAW Books! (It's about 30 minutes long.) I loved what she said toward the end about why she's optimistic about the future of publishing.

Episode 52 of Speculate!-Betsy Wollheim Editor Interview | Speculate!
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Jennifer Laughran, an agent at Andrea Brown Literary Agency, offers some thoughts on new writers and series:

Lots of unpublished writers query and say something like: "This is the first book in a series. Books 2 and 3 are complete, I am working on book 4 now!"

This makes me sigh. I read that and see a person who is stuck completely on one story, who is not ready to be flexible and diversify, learn and grow. Not to rain on your parade, but... what if Book 1 is actually fundamentally flawed and you are building a house of sequels on a shoddy foundation? What if it never finds a home? Then all the energy that you spent on sequels is wasted, when you could have been off finding more stories and inventing even more awesome worlds.

The other day a very nice Twitterer inquired during #AskAgent something like (paraphrasing): "I've had book one out on submission for some time... when should I start querying agents on book 2?"

Not to be mean, really, but what's the point? Nobody can take on and sell JUST book 2 if it has to be a series. And nobody has picked up book 1. Sooo....

"Well, I'll just self-publish then!"

Jennifer Represents...: How NOT to write a series, OR, Don't put all your eggs in one basket.
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Here's what I'll be up hanging around, chatting... Please do say hello to me or come to one of my panels. (I'm on one with my husband, [ profile] davetrow, always an adventure in hilarity, not to mention a whole bunch of other amazing and cool peeps.)

Growing Artistically Through Crisis on Friday from 2:30 PM to 4:00 PM in
Lafayette (with Angelena Kyzar). For any artist, a discussion of the process of expressing our life crises and traumas into the media we create.

Ghostwriting -- Literally! What's it Like to Pick Up a Deceased Writer's Pen? on Friday from 4:00 PM to 5:30 PM in Ballroom D (with Kevin Andrew Murphy, Brandon Sanderson, Diana L. Paxson). Many of our favorite authors were in the middle of writing something when they passed away. What's it like to pick up a deceased author's pen? Is it more important to create the author's intent, or is it ok to add your own style when you're now the one doing the work.

Young Adult Fiction: More that Blanking-out the Sex on Friday from 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM in Camino Real (with Clare Bell, Ann Finnin, Diana L. Paxson). Young Adult Fiction is a rapidly growing sub-genre. What does it take to write YA, and how is it different from either children's or adult fiction?

Location, Location, Location -- Setting your Story in a Science Fiction World on Saturday from 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM in Lafayette (with Chaz Brenchley, Clare Bell, T.S. Luikart, Allison Lonsdale). Your character has to live somewhere, and that somewhere needs to support the story. It's embarrassing to have a great scene all written involving bikini- or Speedo-dressed people, when they all live in the first permanent settlement on the Moon, and only landed yesterday....

Book View Cafe and ePublishing on Saturday from 2:30 PM to 4:00 PM in
Ballroom D (with Irene Radford, Chaz Brenchley, Dave Trowbridge, Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff). Book View Cafe members discuss their experiences with this authors' co-op and ePublishing.

Once Upon a Time, Brothers Grimm, Fables, and Other Looks at the Modern
Fairy Tale on Saturday from 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM in Bayshore (with Kevin Andrew Murphy, Sandra Saidak, Kay Pannell, Lon Sarver, D.M. Atkins, Elwin Cotman, Eytan Kollin, Diana L. Paxson) These are not your grandmother's fairy tales or even your mother's. They show the story behind the story and more. Explore the new look at Fairy Tales in the Modern Age.

The Evolution of Female Characters in SF and Fantasy on Sunday from 1:00 PM
to 2:30 PM in Ballroom D (with Juliette Wade, Veronica Belmont, Daryl G. Frazetti, Brandon Sanderson, Diana L. Paxson). From damsels in distress to sword-wielding, gun-toting, and military masterminds, have women found their place, or are they 'feminized' men? Do the women truly reflect the changing attitudes of the roles of women?

Authors: Stop Blocking Your Own Potential! on Monday from 11:30 AM to 1:00
PM in Winchester (with Tony N. Todaro, Leslie Simon, Brandon Sanderson). For years the publishing industry has pushed and pulled authors into marketable categories that they can quantify, but today's readers are looking for something different. As long as you believe in your work and the enjoyment that it brings to you and those like you, give it to the masses. Figure out who you are, what you want the world to see, and commit to it! Then figure out how to reach people like you and go out and sell books!
deborahjross: (prancing horse)
For this last year, I've been linking to Laura Anne Gilman's excellent series on Book View Cafe, Practical Meerkat's Useful Info for Writers. These were not "how to write" blogs, but invaluable perspectives on publishing -- and how it's changing! -- careers, professional relationships, care of the writerly ego... in other words, what we all need to know to survive and perhaps flourish. Now she's complied them into an ebook, available from Book View Cafe in the usual multi-formats, for only $2.99.

Practical Meerkat’s 52 Bits of Useful Info for Young (and Old) Writers
(Writing Advice)

The skinny: Writing is a craft. Publishing is a business. Today's world requires you to understand both.

*Knowing When Not to Complain (and how to do it)
*Bar Schmoozing with the Big Dogs (even if you don't drink)
*Dealing with a Difficult Editor/Agent... and much, much more!

Laura Anne Gilman has been an editor since 1990, including 7 years heading the Roc SF imprint for Penguin. As a writer, she has twenty-five novels and forty+ stories to her name. A freelancer since 2003, she hasn’t starved yet. She figures all this gives her the ability to talk a bit about the industry.
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From, an editorial by Aaron Gilbreath, who works at Powell's in Portland OR (one of my favorite bookstores!) Time for book publishers to fight dirty -

"Publishers should tantalize consumers by evoking books' sensory pleasures: the smell; the feel in your hands; that crisp, appealing crinkle of a turned page and smooth snap of a dust jacket. Publishers should elicit the joys of "curling up with a book," the satisfaction of seeing your library on a shelf in your bedroom — the years of your life marked by rows of colorful spines, the pages covered with marginalia. To do this, publishers could borrow vinyl enthusiasts' lines like, "Records have a certain smell. You can't smell an MP3," and, "I associate certain records' smells with a certain summer, a particular girlfriend." Audiophiles also discuss fidelity, how records sound undeniably better than MP3s. Surely there's a book analog waiting to be developed."
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From Ingrid Sundberg's blog: Let’s Make a Deal: An Editor/Agent Mock Negotiation


The Agent: Submits a client’s book to a variety of appropriate editors around town.

The Editor: Is excited to see a submission from this agent in her mail box. She’s a good agent and often sends great work! She decides to read it as soon as she can.


The Editor: Reads the book and gets very excited about it. She’s so excited about it that she calls the agent and lets her know that she is putting together an offer!

The Agent: Calls all of the other editors she’s submitted the manuscript to and lets them know that she has an offer coming in on said book, but she would still like to give the other editors a chance to take a look at the work and see if they are interested.

The Editor: Takes the book to an editorial meeting and shares it with the team. They discuss the viability of the book. This is a first time author, but she thinks they should put together a competitive but modest offer for the book. The editor then runs a profit and loss statement on the book to find out the numbers. In the profit and loss statement they estimate that the book will sell between 2000 and 5000 hard cover copies, and 5000 to 8000 paperback copies. With those kind of numbers the editor knows that the highest advance she could offer is about $17,500, but she’d rather start low – somewhere around $12,000, hoping after they negotiate they will land in the ball park of $15,000.

Keep reading...
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One of the blogs I follow is Book Ends, LLC. Today's posting is by Jessica Faust's client, author Kate Douglas. I almost fell over laughing when I read:

I’ve made no secret of the fact it took me forever to get my first New York contract. Even after I signed with Jessica, the running joke was that the best thing about having an agent was the fact she could get me rejected a whole lot faster than when I was submitting on my own. I was used to waiting a year—Jessica was getting rejections within weeks!

Luckily, I discovered I’d signed with an agent every bit as stubborn and hard-headed as I am, and eventually she got the right manuscript in front of the right editor at the right time.

The rest of the article is here.
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Laura Resnick discusses self-publishing, vanity presses, and professional publishing. Much of this I've read before in one form or another, particularly in blogs on the Harlequin s/c/a/m DellArte line. But Laura has a wonderful way of cutting to the chase. This reminds me of a time when I was doing a book signing and a young man informed me that because I was commercially published, I had completely sold out to the system.

The argument that self-publishing offers artistic freedom is most often an excuse used to rationalize the lack of dogged, enduring, committed persistence that is--the single most essential--ingredient (more so than talent, frankly) needed to break into publishing as a writer and to maintain a career in this--highly-- competitive profession.

“Artistic freedom” is also an argument used to evade acknowledging the very real possibility that an aspiring writer’s work simply might not be ready for professional publication yet. Writing a novel is not a natural talent that flows freely from your muse-blessed fingers. It’s a difficult craft that takes years of dedicated practice to develop to a professional level. Not working enough on their craft is one of the two most common mistakes made by aspiring writers.

The--other--most common mistake of aspiring writers is not educating themselves about the highly competitive, demanding profession that they aspire to enter—which is precisely why so many aspiring writers misunderstand the crucial differences between a PUBLISHING business model and a PRINT business model. And also why a percentage of aspiring writers fall prey to costly vanity scams.


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Deborah J. Ross

May 2017

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