Tag Archives: Publishing

Self-pub or Traditional?

One of the biggest questions facing authors today is whether to go indie or pitch their work to a heritage publisher. In 2013, the Big Six (now the Big Five) commanded 89.6% of the titles in hardcover editions. That is a big chunk of the game.

Always remember that if your pitch to publishers fails, you can always self-publish. And nowadays, you can self-publish and still approach publishers with the same manuscript. So your options aren’t actually either-or. Nowadays, it’s a matter of how many paths you’ll take to publishing rather than which single path you’ll chose.


Self-Pub Unit Closes

WinePress Publishing, a Christian self-pub company, has closed. It was plagued recently with complaints from authors and accusations of fraud. It has directed its authors to try Amazon for republishing their books.

When you’re deciding which printer or self-publisher to use for your books, be sure to check out the company closely or rely on a referral from someone in the industry or a fellow author. Keep your intellectual material and your career safe from this kind of upheaval, and avoid any interruption in your efforts to reach readers.

Ebook Pricing: $200 and Up

Most ebooks tend to be priced around $3.99 for self-published works and $9.99 for traditionally published works. Occasionally there is the need to price an ebook at a higher point.

The idea is that the information contained in the books is from a specialized arena. Accessing the information requires research and expertise beyond a usual layperson’s reach. Thus the content is worth more when it is compiled into an ebook.

Some examples include Moroccan Math Secrets at $200 and Quay Walls at $247.96. If you’re a public speaker or have specialized knowledge, consider producing an ebook that you can price above the usual market rate for fiction and mainstream nonfiction. The income you generate could be well worth the effort.

Amazon Launches Christian Imprint

Amazon’s new Christian imprint will specialize in faith-based fiction and nonfiction. Brilliance Publishing will launch its first title this month. Authors include those who started out in self-publishing, and several titles will be launched with collaborative support from Christianity Today. 

What Netflix Can Teach Publishers and Authors

Netflix has been on a roll. Originally considered something of a rube among Hollywood types, the individual responsible for its success has proven that new ways of thinking, and servicing viewer’s desires and needs before any other metric, is the path to success these days.

Netflix did everything “wrong,” according to film’s old guard. It released a full season of episodes all at the same time to allow for binge viewing (which subscribers wanted), it paid top dollar to lease items that others would have taken only if they could own (again to serve their subscribers regardless of the way others would have made a deal), and they bought new concepts without forcing the producers to make a pilot (taking a chance again to give viewers what they want).

Publishers could learn from all this. Release books faster (because that’s what readers want), allow authors to maintain ownership (serve readers no matter what the old deals looked like), and take chances on unproven concepts (because again, readers want unique, fresh ideas from authors who haven’t yet “proven” themselves with big publishers).

Authors, too, can learn from Netflix. Although the company is willing to take risks and try new things, the concepts they’ve bought have had a strong level of professionalism built in. Actors have been sought out who are clear viewer favorites to attract viewers to those fresh concepts. All the deals made have also been for concepts that have fully written scripts, professional people already on board, and “bibles” or dossiers that outline the fictional world’s details in full.

For authors, this means having a full and polished manuscript ready to go, professional assistance from editors or pitch consultants, and a fully developed idea about their audience, publishing trends, and the author’s potential or actual platform (which is all wrapped into a book proposal, the author’s bible).

Publishing Trends: Christian

Texts that deal with Biblical information and themes have long been popular with readers. In fact, publishing a Bible often anchors a publishing house with a text that continues to generate sales year after year.

This leaves the arena wide open for authors writing Christian-based works. In addition to novels that deal with spiritual topics, the nonfiction area is strong. Topics can be academic in nature or geared toward mainstream audiences reading at home on their own.

Keep an eye on titles that are coming out to determine which publisher is best for your Christian work.

How Publishers Determine the Bottom Line

Pitching your book to a publisher has always involved more than simply the book itself. All along, publishers have been interested in the author as much as the author’s ideas. That’s because readers want to purchase a specific person’s books more often than one from someone they don’t feel like they know.

Additionally, the publisher runs calculations about the book when deciding whether to make a contract offer. The calculations include typesetting, cover art and printing costs, the interest they’ll pay on the money they’ll spend until the book begins to generate revenue, the projected revenue, and subsidiary rights. All that calculates the potential or projected return on investment.

The desired ROI, by the way, is about 8 percent. Less than that and publishers don’t want to bite.

Book Agent Info

Katie Reed of Andrea Hurst & Assoc wants areas of YA fiction. Especially interested in commercial works with a compelling hook and a protagonist who battles real life issues, soft sci-fi, and fantasy.

Also accepts commercial and literary adult fiction for book club women’s, soft sci-fi, fantasy, suspense/thriller, and contemporary romance.

Nonfiction needs: memoir/biography, self-help, crafts/how-to, inspirational, and parenting.

Book Publisher Info

Ripple Grove Press is a new children’s picture book publisher. Authors should submit a cover letter with the story summary, age range for audience, brief bio, contact info (all the information in a submissions packet), and a PDF of the manuscript. 

New Publisher Info

Shebooks, http://www.shebooks.net, launched as a new publisher. It focuses on books written by women for women. All its titles are available on a subscription basis, so be sure that kind of payment structure is acceptable to you before submitting.

Self-pub Serves Fiction Authors

Bowker found that most authors looking into self-publishing are going to bring fiction to the market. That makes sense because only 25% of the titles produced by traditional publishers are fiction. When so small a door is open to authors, they have to turn to other avenues if they want to reach readers.

Oddly, though, readers polled by various organizations say they prefer reading fiction at a rate of 77% to 78%, leaving a very small number that prefer reading nonfiction.

It seems that indie publishers are giving readers what they want.

Trends: Novella

Recently there’s been some chatter about novellas. For a long time, novellas were shunned by all but literary publishers. Too short, it seemed, translated into too little interest by readers. Of course, there was the biggest problem: novellas were not terribly economical to print. That impacts the bottom line, and that means more pushback from publishers.

The trend has been increasing judging by what I’ve been hearing from agents and publishers alike. They want longer books (fiction and nonfiction), and the 50,000 word minimum is being held to more strongly than ever before. This makes sense in a time when publishers are trying to trim every penny to enhance their waning profits.

But organizations that have been keeping tabs on self-publishing are questioning this wisdom. They note that when publishers do take on novellas, they are marketing them as novels so as not to undermine the work in readers’ eyes. Also, they’ve noted that genre works are seeing success as novellas.

This is in part due to self-publishing successes. Authors write what they write…they honor the story itself without having to worry much about lengths and economies of scale if they are self-publishing. Readers are interested in the story, not whether it’s long or short, or which publisher it might have come from.

Novellas, then, might find that they will receive a greater amount of respect from traditional publishers in the future. This will take a year or more to sink in, though. For now, consider your length when approaching traditional publishers. Aim for that 50K minimum to ensure you aren’t rejected on length alone.

Book Publisher Info

Ripple Grove Press is looking for picture-driven stories for children aged 2-6. No early readers, middle grade, or YA manuscripts. No religious or holiday themed stories. Desires unique, sweet, funny, touching, offbeat, colorful, charming, different, creative ideas.

Is E-publishing The New Focus for the Big Five?

As brick-and-mortar stores fall and ebook sales grow, a lot of chatter has been going around about whether this is the new focus for the top publishers. Even agents no longer assume that print will be part of their clients’ deals.

Pressure on publishers to release books more quickly as well as to keep an eye on profitable releases is a major driver. Authors fear that with a smaller investment from publishers, the publishers won’t feel that marketing is as necessary as before.

Since these days the main benefit publishers can offer is the ability to get books into stores, it’s a tricky situation for everyone. What are your thoughts?