Getting Published - Your Questions Answered

Discussion in 'Writing' started by Tim Stretton, Jun 24, 2009.

  1. kissmequick

    kissmequick bingley bingley beep

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    The US has a lower rate than the Philippines too. :D

    ETA: need to do my maths better!

    Right so 496000000 people in China have internet, at 34%. The population of China is 1.3 billion. Which leaves a lot of people that need print books. Even in the US, where you have just about 80%, there are millions of people who don;t have access, and so will need a print book. Then ofc you have those people who just plain old prefer print.


    That is one hell of a lot of people you can't sell to if you don't do print.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2012
  2. N. E. White

    N. E. White tmso Staff Member

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    You know. I'm all for going digital. Really, I am. But this discussion has re-opened my eyes to print.

    I know I'm not good enough (yet (I hope)) to snag a publishing contract with a small or big press, but I did want to start self-publishing and had thought I'd stick to e-publishing.

    But you know, the only person likely to read my stuff is my mom. And guess what? She doesn't have an e-reader. Guess I better start looking into CreateSpace services...
     
  3. kissmequick

    kissmequick bingley bingley beep

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    Hey now, there's still a lot of people who are buying e!

    But it won't see the death of print - at least until more of the world can access books that way. Until then, having both options increases the amount of people who can/will buy your book.
     
  4. sullivan_riyria

    sullivan_riyria Creator of Worlds

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    Like .... me! I had an agent that shopped the books for over a year and got no traction. When I went back a second time (when I was selling 1,000 books a month) we got 7 (or was it 8 forget now) publishers expressing an immediate interested and a pre-emptive six-figure offer. And that wasn't even the height of my self-publishing success. Later months climbed to 2,600, 9,500, 10,500, and 11,500 books per month. That's more than some titles sell over their entire in print lifetime.

    I've said it before and I'll say it again - the chance of self-publish success is the same as traditional success. If you count all the query rejections and all the poorly written self-pubed works it's the same 1% that make it in either case. I contend that if your story is solid, and you don't give up - you'll make it by one path or the other -- or in my case...sometimes both.

    Exactly what I've been saying for years.
     
  5. kissmequick

    kissmequick bingley bingley beep

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    Indeed - you were one of the self pubbers I was thinking of :D

    Indubitably.

    As you say, a good solid story is what counts, either way. If you can write original characters/plots, competent and grammatical prose, you are in the top 10% of slush (I won't comment on self pub here because I have little experience in that side). So that means instead of a one in a hundred chance of being the book that gets picked up, it's more like one in ten. If you've got an eye on what's selling in your genre and what's not, and your prose is more than competent (AND you've managed to write a query that does your book justice - not easy! Harder than the damned book!)...really, it's only a matter of time.
     
  6. KatG

    KatG The Bony Hand of Death Staff Member

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    Yes, but even though it's a large group of people who need to be served by paper, it may not be enough to keep the paper market going if the paper market continues to have problems with vendors, etc. It's possible that booksellers are going to have to give up the consignment returns system of paper. But again, a lot of the problems the paper markets are having have nothing to do with e-books and started long before 2005. So we really don't know which ways things are going to develop. An e-book market only is unlikely unless society drastically changes, especially as they are kicking more and more people off the Internet in the prime e-book markets. But again, if it happened, it would indeed be like cutting off your nose to spite your face, in my view. Given that a lot of independent bookstores are actually doing well right now, I'm hoping that's not the road we'll get.

    Absolutely true, in my view. It is always a pyramid shape in books.

    Well no, you don't know that. Nobody does. There is not a monochrome "good enough" stick. Nor do you know that the only one interested in your book would be your mother. (I'm already interested in the giant bat and the historical politics of your work.) A lot of people make pronouncements about the market but it's all gambling. You have to try to find the path that will work best for you, plus all the uncontrollable factors of luck that are involved.

    As we always note, fiction authors don't directly compete with each other, even in submissions. It's a symbiotic market, with successful books bringing in more readers, those readers browsing and demanding variety, and growing the market for more books from both large and small presses. The larger books can grow their audience, the more vendors they can get to sell, the more fiction authors we have.

    It's not a matter of good and bad, commercial formula versus experimental, new versus old. It's a matter of need and interest coming together with luck and sometimes economics. If the enthusiasm in-house is not sufficient, if economic factors or business factors particular to the publisher put a crimp on what they can take on, if the editorial interests of the particular publisher are going in another direction and if potential interest outside of the publisher is not much in evidence, publishers may or may not take the gamble and buy something. If they've got money, room and enthusiasm for a new author or mid-lister who they don't think will bestseller but might eventually after building an audience for a bit of float time and they think they can afford that time, then they may take those people on. But if the enthusiasm isn't sufficient and there are factors that are less favorable, they may pass even if it's a book that some of their editors really like.

    That's what happened to THEM with some publishers, for example. There was enthusiasm but the editors who liked it were not able to get enough interest in-house, to build enough of a coalition in support of the work for the people in charge of the wallet strings, who were not as enthusiastic, to feel comfortable taking the gamble. If THEM was a high or growing seller (as opposed to just a mid lister or new person as he was,) then that, they were saying, would have been sufficient evidence of potential outside interest in the work to maybe overcome the more tepid enthusiasm in-house to take the gamble and see if they could do something further with sales. Even without that, some houses may take the gamble and run the book on a low slot and see if audience build-up can occur. But if THEM's submission hit at a time economically -- and there's been quite a few pockets of that over the last twenty, twenty-five years -- when things are sunk for that publisher, they have a lot of inventory already bought in that area of the field, etc., then they'll only bite on something new that they have lots of in-house enthusiasm for.

    And it's subjective and it's not according to a monochrome set of formulas that all editors and publishers use. And any book, groups of people will dislike it and others will like it. So you're going to see a lot of books on a publisher's list where you think they're awful and how could they buy that instead, but it's chiefly about connection to the material and a gamble on others connection and word of mouth happenning. They guess at market stuff but they have a high frequency of being wrong, and they also know that stuff they are putting out that they like but licensed for cheap and did not much effort with and were only expecting modest sales from -- like say Harry Potter -- can turn into runaway hits on word of mouth. (Again, I encourage everyone to read this Salon article:
    http://www.salon.com/2012/03/18/the_...a_blockbuster/ )

    I had this happen a lot when I was agenting and when I was working with authors as a freelance editor. I had a horror novel that the editor loved but others felt was not as much of a horror novel as an adventure thriller and thus did not fit their horror imprint and they couldn't fit it elsewhere, so they passed. I had a mystery series that one publisher and its mystery editor were very interested in, but they had inventory up to their hips and it was during a blood-bath period in the mystery market because of the wholesale problems where mid-list authors were getting passed on and new authors could only come on board if they thought it would fly high right out of the gate. The editor thought the series would build a good audience, so said come back to us later when things were better for them. The series sold instead to another big house that had started a paperback crime imprint and so was buying quite a lot of new stuff. It's not a one size fits all market and never has been. And it's not school where you get rewarded for writing the best essay and it's not Hollywood where you get a deal for nothing because of your relatives or they apply a three act formula. It's a weird, hair-pulling world of "feelings" and gut instincts on which very small amounts of money relative to other industries is wagered for equally small profits.

    Which is why I don't really see e-books killing off other forms "just like the music industry." The music industry is so vastly different with so many other factors and multi-products attached to the recorded music and completely different business procedures and gobs and gobs of money that publishing will never have, that it just really doesn't scan. But this seems to be part of the hype used to market things in the electronic business that e-books is of course dipped into.

    It looks like Apple is doing well with its new iPads (upgrade that tech, spend more dough! :) ) and that should keep Amazon on its toes, which is better for the market. I just am hoping to see more players in the next five years. Sony actually was the one who broke the retail market open and I'm curious to see what they'll do and Samsung is doing interesting things. We are now sitting here watching the cellphone and cellphone wireless service wars as a part of the book publishing business, as having an effect on them. This is something that Japan had going on ten years before the West with e-books on phones and elsewhere, but we weren't sure if it would take outside of Asia. So it is going to get interesting and it's a lot more complicated than people keep insisting. It's really not Star Wars. And there is the issue that more and more of the population is being cut off from information and tech that are increasingly important in the society. And of course, how we keep the electricity on, etc.
     
  7. kissmequick

    kissmequick bingley bingley beep

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    All I'm saying is that big print pubs need that print. It isn't going away any time soon, because they (as opposed to say self epubbers, or e-presses) need to consider that market, because they are large. For instance, I read somewhere that Harlequin sells a book every second. Now, if they restricted their market ( and I don't know what their sales are outside teh western English speaing world, but I know they have one) then they restrict their sales. Which would be , well, stupid.

    If you boil it down to that, it isn't complicated at all. It's very very simple - how do I make my books accessible to the most people? So that I can have the most sales? I put my books out in every damn format that is available - print, e, audio. Whatever. Now there is the choice in how to 'read' a novel, if you don't take up that opportunity, you'd be, well, a bit daft. Because the consumer decides.

    The consumer always decides and ofc that is what drives the Big Six. They may be a little slower on the uptake, but they want sales). So they think, what does my reader want? (in a story) How do they want it? (format). They ARE thinking about these things. Because they want to stay in business. (some are more...resistant than others perhaps, but I've seen that more in agents than pubs.)

    ETA; there are ofc many reasons why a book that people in house love doesn't get picked up. But the reasons are so complex even for thosein the business, it's actually probably not worth wringing about. Because if you do you'll send yourself mad - same as in many, may other businesses.

    If it comes to the wire, it;s not the writing that is the problem usually - it's 'too like that other book we have coming out' or whatever. Some books do fall through cracks. But good writers (if they remember to stay determined) usually prevail.
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2012
  8. KatG

    KatG The Bony Hand of Death Staff Member

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    There's also the fact that publishers got burned for rushing into and making bad mistakes on electronic publishing before, back in the 1980's, only to see that market disintegrate and they lost a lot of money, fired a lot of people. So most of them are trying not to do anything stupid this time and figure out exactly what's going to work for them over time, despite the pressure to instantly digitize backlist, etc. The additional costs for e-books are mostly additional labor, and tech labor and so they're taking it slow, and they're trying to get a lot of deals with as many different vendors as possible.

    The clash of the weird, counter-intuitive book publishing with the hyperspeed, hyper-marketing focused electronics industry has seemed to produce the idea that book publishing is a dinosaur that will be buried. I've maintained that believing the electronics industry is interested in greatly changing or burying the publishing industry is a highly idealized idea. Publishers are a great deal more interested in what's going on with textual data industries -- magazines and newspapers who also sell on consignment -- that's how books ended up doing the same because they were sold together -- than they are in what happens in the music industry. There are a lot more parallels there, though the industries again are different and very different re fiction publishing. But a lot of the technical issues are the same since it's all text.
     
  9. AZimmer23

    AZimmer23 Things Fall Apart

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    Interesting and slightly terrifying blog post by Aburt over at Critters.org regarding eBooks and the DOJ.
     
  10. KatG

    KatG The Bony Hand of Death Staff Member

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    The lawsuit isn't about the amount for e-book prices or the agency model. It's about whether the publishers met with each other and with Apple to decide collectively what all the e-book prices would be set at -- an anti-trust price fixing violation because they are colluding with each other. The suit does not include Random House. Three publishers settled with the government because they didn't want to get into a deeper legal wrangle on it. That settlement may have involved terms that effect e-book pricing but we don't really know. Macmillan was the first publisher to deal with Apple and then wrangle with Amazon. The other publishers didn't need to collude, just sit back and see what Macmillan did, which they did, which is not a violation. Macmillan has decided to fight the suit. Apple may have made a presentation to publishers about doing business with Apple that is being touted as a price fixing meeting. The charges against Apple aren't going to stick because Apple has been using the agency model for many things for quite some time. While Amazon might possibly benefit from the lawsuit, it seems unlikely that they had enough juice to get the DOJ to bring it. It is more likely that Apple's electronic rivals actually brought pressure on the DOJ.

    Regardless, the agency model is extremely common in retail and isn't going anywhere. Amazon's share of the e-book market has dropped from 90% to about 65% of the market in the first five years of it, which was to be expected in an emerging market. They've held on to that much because they bought up some of their minor rivals and because of their advantage in being able to go global with relative speed. In small press and indie publishing, Amazon's monopoly remains higher -- 80-90%, which is what the columnist is dealing with. Barnes & Noble's share of the market is growing, somewhere between 20-30%, but they are limited largely to U.S. sales. Other companies that have large markets in other parts of the world, such as Asia, are now expanding globally, including into Europe and North America. Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten bought Kobo off of Indigo bookstores, which still remains a business partner on Kobo. Kobo's e-reader and apps had a large chunk of Canadian e-book sales, a tiny slice of the U.S. and a growing presence in Europe. Rakuten is using the Kobo platform globally in its markets in places like Brazil, Germany and China. And Kobo is being sold in the U.S. through companies like Best Buy and Walmart. So the global edge Amazon had is rapidly going bye-bye.

    The big thing is digital data, not e-books, but e-books will grow and keep a position as part of digital data sales. Amazon is doing well on video digital sales, but it has a long way to go to catch up to Apple or the major electronic telecommunications firms. I'm not sure that Amazon can really become the Walart of the Internet successfully and globally. Even Walmart is in trouble domestically.
     
  11. kongming

    kongming www.voxnewman.com

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    Just spent a good couple of hours reading this thread in between work. Great discussion guys. It was illuminating
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2012
  12. Moonlord

    Moonlord New Member

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    I am a new member and I find this thread amazingly useful. It summarizes the steps in a clear way and advice from established and new writers is very enlightening. Thanks heaps and keep up the good work. That was very encouraging.
     
  13. EllaihMoos

    EllaihMoos Registered User

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    Actually, my course is Accountancy, but I love reading and writing. I have some writing story that only here at our house, my friends told me to publish it, but I told them not now. I need some boost to publish that. Maybe, your work can inspired me to publish my work too. There are many websites now that can help writers like studygeek.org there are lot of fresh information that they can give for the beginners.
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2013
  14. Donutz

    Donutz Curmudgeon in training

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    Just been paging through this thread. It's a bit old, but I figured I'd necro it in the hopes that it might generate some new info. I've just recently started buying e-books off Amazon and I'm absolutely sold on the whole kindle experience -- maybe partly because my eyes aren't what they used to be:cool:.

    Aaaaaaaanyway, one of the things I've noticed is that a lot of e-books are self-published (and I've bought a couple that, um, maybe shouldn't have been). Anyone have some quick pointers to an overview of the self-publishing process for e-bookery?
     
  15. Edward M. Grant

    Edward M. Grant Registered User

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    1. Write, edit and format the book.
    2. Convert to PDF.
    3. Convert to EPUB.
    4. Create a cover.
    5. Upload the PDF to Createspace for a print book.
    6. Upload the EPUB to Amazon for an ebook (and any other sites you want to sell through).

    OK, the print part is optional, but, unless you'll have to pay a lot for cover and formatting, there's no good reason not to use one of the print-on-demand sites (Createspace, LSI, etc) for a print book for those who prefer paper. I suggested Createpsace, in particular, because it's free and hooked into Amazon. Just don't expect to get more than 1-5% print sales relative to ebook sales.
     
  16. Donutz

    Donutz Curmudgeon in training

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    Hah. Thanks, I guess I deserved that :rolleyes: . Maybe now something lower than the 1000-mile view? For instance, a couple of questions immediately come to mind: 1) what the heck is EPUB? (Yeah, I know, google is your friend. But the question did come to mind) and 2) should you let Amazon know you're uploading something to them? :p Seriously, I'm assuming there's some kind of negotiation that goes on, a percentage is settled on, they may or may not want a payment up front for the privilege, etc.

    As an aside, I've only bought ebooks from amazon so far. I noticed earlier in this thread that someone mentioned amazon's market share dropping. So what are the other good sites? I'm afraid in this context amazon is still the 800 lb gorilla.
     
  17. Edward M. Grant

    Edward M. Grant Registered User

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    It's an ebook format. Technically, it's HTML and CSS (two web formats) packed in a .zip file.

    You can upload .doc files to Amazon, but I've found the best way is to upload .epub, as it just converts that to its own format. In theory, .mobi should be better, since that's basically what Kindle book format is, but I found it did worse at convering my .mobi files to Kindle format than .epub.

    Free programs like Calibre can do this, but I use a script that automatically converts LibreOffice documents to .epub for me.

    You need to set up a publishing account there. I think it's kdp.amazon.com?

    At one point they had pretty much the entire market, but last I heard they were estimated to be more like 60%. However, that's all ebooks, and may just indicate that more people are buying trade-published ebooks from other sites like Apple. Some months I've sold more books on other sites than through Amazon, but my best Amazon month was literally 50x better than my best month at any other site.

    Edit: it's also worth noting that I was talking about the US market, and in some other countries Amazon has a much smaller presence in the ebook market than they do in America.
     
  18. KatG

    KatG The Bony Hand of Death Staff Member

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    Amazon is still the 800 lb gorilla when it comes to e-self-publishing, about 90% of the market still probably -- which is a real problem for self-publishing, but there it is. (They are at about 50% of the total e-book market.) You will be setting up an account with Amazon as essentially a publisher on the self-publish framework. You will be making Amazon your business partner in Kindle file distribution as a producing vendor. You will have to accept an agreement which gives Amazon total control of your book for their marketplace. You cannot offer another site lower prices or do promotional free giveaways on other sites, as Amazon will automatically set your Kindle price lower or for free. They can in fact make your book sell for free any time they want, price comparison or no. It would be a good idea to look at the terms just so you are familiar with them, especially concerning their Prime program and other stuff, but there's nothing to negotiate -- you accept the deal or you don't. You can pay them money for various extra services. They will take 30-50% of your sales, depending on what price you are setting the e-books to sell at. The contract allows them to change these terms at any time.

    That being said, the self-pubs are still useful to Amazon for now, so it does give you a large, easy platform to enter the market and sometimes some promotion, especially if you do get word of mouth and start selling high enough. And I've been told the folks at Amazon are fairly good at walking you through all the tech and such. Don't know how good they are on the accounting and paying, but I haven't heard any real widespread problems on that end.
     
  19. Donutz

    Donutz Curmudgeon in training

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    So I've registered at amazon now, which is pretty funny (to me anyway) because I don't have anything to publish yet. Oh well, optimism is eternal I guess. ;)

    I haven't really found any indication of why there's a 70% royalty level and a 35% royalty level. They go into great detail about how you calculate your royalties at each level, but don't really explain why the heck you would pick the 35% level (golly gee, Brenda Sue, let's us picks THIS one cuz everybody else is shore enough at teh other one. Hee-yuk)
     
  20. KatG

    KatG The Bony Hand of Death Staff Member

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    You might do so if you are doing certain kinds of books, such as one with illustrations and need the e-book not to be radically lower in price than print editions you are doing that have to cover more costs. Or if you are working with other sites where you can't have the e-book price super low. If you need to price your e-book higher, that's where you take the split where you get less.

    Understand, Amazon may call it a royalty, but it's not a royalty. It's a proceeds split. Amazon is not your publisher. You are not in partnership with them. They are a vendor who digitizes your file (product) into their DRM format for their system, and lets you sell off their platform in that format. They are allowed to do almost anything they want to with your product in their marketplace in that selling and change the terms of the split, etc., at will. It also does accounting and fullfillment as a vendor. And it gets a fairly large split of your proceeds for those services and access to their customers.

    That being said, it's the main game in town for e-books at the moment and people can make money on it in sales. Given the lesser costs in the production of just one or a few e-books and only selling them in one or a couple of places, the proceeds split can work, especially on shorter fiction projects. There have been inklings that Amazon may be squeezing their self-pubs a bit more -- they upped their cut of the proceeds for audio book editions from self-pubs. But right now, they still find the large pool of self-pub authors useful, so it can be a good deal.