Mark Noce’s Publishing Journey

Hi everyone! Welcome to my regular guest feature! Today, Mark Noce is here to share his publishing journey with us. 

Take it away, Mark!
Thanks, Misha for having me here! I’m pumped to have my debut novel, Between Two Fires, coming out with St. Martin’s Press this August, and I’m here today to share a little bit of what my “journey” to this point so far has been like.
I love reading and writing historical fiction, double-majoring in both History and English in undergrad before getting my Master’s in English. To improve my craft further, I started attending the San Francisco Writer’s Conference about five years ago. I learned a lot, became a better writer and eventually got my super fantastic agent, Rena Rossner of the Deborah Harris Agency. This February I’ll be a guest speaker for the second year in a row at the very same San Francisco Writer’s Conference I used to attend as a budding writer. Needless to say, I’m pretty stoked.
But of course, it wasn’t all a bed of roses. I wrote plenty of other manuscripts before Between Two Fires and got plenty of rejections along the way before I found my niche. Now I’ve got a two book deal with Thomas Dunne Books (an imprint of St. Martin’s Press and Macmillan) and my editor is the head of the imprint himself. But guess what? Rejection is still part of the game. I still run through lots of drafts that my publisher either likes or does not like, spending a good deal of time making each chapter shine until we can’t possibly do another thing to improve it. I’d liken it to pulling rabbits out of hats, except it isn’t magic. It’s a lot of darn hard work. But it has a happy rainbow at the end of the tunnel when I’m left with a great story of which I couldn’t possibly be more proud.
So what’s this Welsh epic of mine all about? Below is a blurb about Between Two Fires, and I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I have. You can pre-order Between Two Fires on Amazon or add it to Goodreads! You can also connect with me via marknoce.com, my blog, Twitter or Facebook.
Thanks again Misha for having me!

Between Two Fires
Saxon barbarians threaten to destroy medieval Wales. Lady Branwen becomes Wales’ last hope to unite their divided kingdoms when her father betroths her to a powerful Welsh warlord, the Hammer King.
But this fledgling alliance is fraught with enemies from within and without as Branwen herself becomes the target of assassinations and courtly intrigue. A young woman in a world of fierce warriors, she seeks to assert her own authority and preserve Wales against the barbarians. But when she falls for a young hedge knight named Artagan her world threatens to tear itself apart. Caught between her duty to her people and her love of a man she cannot have, Branwen must choose whether to preserve her royal marriage or to follow her heart. Somehow she must save her people and remain true to herself, before Saxon invaders and a mysterious traitor try to destroy her.


Thanks for stopping by, Mark! Anyone else interested in being featured on my blog? If you are, please mail me at mishagericke(AT)gmail(DOT)com with “Thursday Feature” in the subject line. 

Have a lovely day! Don’t you just love this book’s cover?
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Terry W. Ervin II on Getting Your Books in Front of Readers

Hi everyone! Today I’m welcoming Terry W. Ervin II to the Five Year Project. Today’s a bit of a long post, but chock full of information, so I’m just going to let him take over from here. 

Getting Books in Front of Readers
With literally millions of novels out there, it’s a challenge to get attention…to get a book in front of potential readers. Sadly for anyone reading this, I don’t have the magic, or silver, bullet. There isn’t one proven method, or combination of actions and activities, that will offer success in this endeavor. Even worse, the market, technology, reader preferences and methods of finding books to read is continually changing.
But don’t despair…and don’t stop reading this post.
There are some things based on my experience that can make a difference—a positive one.
Experience? You might be thinking, who is this guy? He isn’t a NY Times Bestseller. That’s true, my individual novels don’t sell in the hundreds of thousands. They sell in the hundreds and thousands. This guy’s novels aren’t in the top 1000 on Amazon. That’s true, for now. But I’ve had novels that closed in on the 2000s, for a short while before fading. Nevertheless, if Steven King or Hugh Howey say something that contradicts what I recommend, definitely give their words significant weight.


I think number one as far as a book (or books) getting noticed is to write and publish. Get your work out there. The best advertisement for a previous book is a new one.
If you submit a novel to publishers, while you’re waiting for that novel to find a home, write another. If you self-publish, don’t wait to see what happens with your first or most recent novel. Get another one out there for readers to get ahold of. A second novel, in essence, doubles your chances of finding readers. If it’s a series…you need to keep those that have found your works happy and interested. Beyond that, some readers don’t want to ‘invest’ in a single book author.
But just having a book out there isn’t enough. It has to be a good book, sure. But it needs a good cover. People do judge a book by its cover. It has to work both full size and as a thumbnail. If someone sees it as an ‘also bought’ or while browsing in some other fashion, if it (the cover art/title/layout) doesn’t catch a potential reader’s attention in some manner, he or she will move on and never ‘discover’ your work.
That means you have to check out the types of covers a publisher provides, especially in your genre, before you submit to them. (That’s just one bit of criteria to consider, but really determining publishers to submit a manuscript to is a whole separate article). If you self-publish, be professional. Hire someone skilled and experienced, just like you would an editor. It’ll increase the odds of your book finding readers.

Get reviews. What others say will echo louder than what you, the author says, or what your publisher says. Word of mouth is important, and reviews are a form of word of mouth, and will further entice readers considering investing time and money in your book.
Reviews from reviewers, reputable ones online, are difficult to get. Reviewers with a wide readership, and even trusted ones with smaller readerships are inundated with requests. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.
Reviews at Goodreads, and Amazon and B&N, and wherever your books are available, make a difference. Real reviews. Avid readers who use such reviews as a measure of a book’s quality to gauge whether it’s something they want to read…well, they invest at least enough time to make a few clicks and check out who the reviewer is. They especially take note if a reviewer has one review on Amazon, and it’s for your book. That one is discounted, and may actually count against an author—fair or not.

Ask your avid reader friends to give an honest review, especially if they write reviews on a regular basis. At the end of your book, ask the reader to post a review. If you sell copies at author events, ask a customer to write a review, especially if they enjoyed it. Yes, reviews from folks you don’t know and have never met do show up, but it’s only a small percentage of those that actually read the book. And if the book sells very few copies…that means few reviews, helping to pave the way to obscurity.
As an author, networking with readers can be dicey, especially online. Reader forums, for example, are very wary of authors self-promoting. More than a few bad apples have largely poisoned that well. The same thing with writer forums. And oversaturation of ‘buy my book’ sort of Tweets, well, they are not productive and can prove to be counterproductive. Having a Facebook page where people opt in? That can be a good place for a community of interested readers to interact with an author. But again, it’s not a place to try to ‘sell’. Readers who’ve built an online relationship with an author are more likely to talk about your works to their friends.
Again, someone else saying nice things about your work means more than you saying it yourself. If someone tweets, or posts or reviews…that will carry much more weight.
There are email lists and use of free ebooks and other promotional maneuvers…but that is fodder for another lengthy post, that someone else might want to write?

Finally, get out there. While it might happen that you can sit at home and play hermit and, despite this, your novel catches fire…that is very very much against the odds. Luck isn’t a strategy. Yes, luck can be a factor, but setting yourself up so that you cross paths with a bit of luck…that’s more of an objective to shoot for.
Go to book fairs and festivals, if you have print copies. Present at local libraries, talking about genres or the publishing business, or working with artists…or whatever you feel is one of your strengths to share. Visit forums, with maybe a link to your blog or website—probably not to an Amazon buy page—in the signature file. If folks at the forum(s) find your comments and input interesting, they might on their own try to discover more, and follow that link.
At those events and forums, network with the other authors. Exchange business cards and emails and knowledge. Offer to do interviews or the like on your blog or share on Facebook, or retweet something. Do this without an expectation of reciprocation. But if reciprocation occurs, your work will be out there, in front of eyes and potential readers…and, well, someone else is saying good things about your works, or offering a platform for you to provide some value to the visitors of that platform, be it a blog, a forum, a writer’s group, or a book club.
That’s the sort of thing I’m doing here. I was provided an opportunity by Misha to write an article for the readers of her blog. She suggested the topic, and it was within my realm of experience to provide an article to cover it, or at least that’s my belief.
…And if you’ve made it this far, you read the article. Thank you.
…And I hope you both enjoyed it and found it interesting and potentially useful.
…And I also hope you’ll click to learn a little more about me and my works available…and if they are something not directly of interest to you, share with others who you know it might be.
…And if you don’t? That’s okay too, because the main point of this article is assisting writers in ways to get their books noticed…not to sell my books. The hard sell is for persistent telemarketers and pushy used car salesmen, right?

Bio:



Terry W. Ervin II is an English and science teacher who enjoys writing fantasy and science fiction. His First Civilization’s Legacy Series(fantasy) includes Flank Hawk, Blood Sword, and Soul Forge.
The Crax War Chronicles, his science fiction series, includes Relic Tech and Relic Hunted (his most recent release from Gryphonwood Press).

In addition to writing novels, Terry’s short stories have appeared in over a dozen anthologies, magazines and ezines. Genre Shotgun is a collection containing all of his previously published short stories.

To contact Terry or learn more about his writing endeavors, visit his website at www.ervin-author.com and his blog, Up Around the Corner at uparoundthecorner.blogspot.com

Rachel Pattinson on Why It’s Great to be an Indie Author

Hi everyone! Sorry for my prolonged silence this week! I’m really in crunch time with my publishing at the moment, but I’m pushing to get the books out this weekend. Don’t worry, though. Today, I’m leaving my blog in Rachel Pattinson’s capable hands. 

Before I go. Just want to point out the irony of the subject, because at midnight last night, I needed to remember that indie authoring is awesome. 😉

Take it away, Rachel.



Four reasons why it’s great to be an indie author


First of all, thanks for having me today, Misha!

Writing can be a lonely job. Especially if you’re an indie author. You don’t have the support of a giant publishing house behind you, you’re not getting paid millions of pounds to write and you’re still stuck in your day job for the foreseeable future. Let’s face it: in our lowest moments, everyone has those days when they’d rather just quit this whole writing business and become a hermit instead.

Well today, I’m here to spread the indie author love and tell you why being an indie author rocks. Here are my four reasons why you should be celebrating the fact that you’re an indie author:

1. You wrote a book
Okay, so this isn’t strictly reserved for indie authors, but I think a lot of indie authors don’t give themselves enough credit. Can we all just stop for a moment please, and recognise the fact that you wrote a book. An actual book. With actual words. That actual people can read. At some point you took all those weird little thoughts that have been swirling around your fantastically weird* brain and you’ve made something out of them. This is such a massive achievement and you should be shouting it from the rooftops. I’ve read a lot of blogs and articles from authors (whether traditionally or indie published) who say that it’s always been their dream to write a book. Well guess what? Give yourself a great big tick – you’ve accomplished that dream.

*this is in no way a bad thing. Weird brains are awesome. We wouldn’t be writers without them.

2. You get to keep creative control
I’ve heard horror stories about authors being forced to change every little thing about their books in order to fit in with what their editor/publisher/agent deems to be ‘marketable’. Or they’re expected to sign over all their rights to the highest bidder, regardless of what the author actually wants. But I like to think of the publishing world as a load of people frantically trying to find a needle in a haystack. No one really knows whats going to happen. No one really knows what the ‘next big thing’ will be. Yes, people can make educated guesses on what readers might like, but who would’ve thought that erotica based on Twilight fan fiction would’ve turned out to be such a huge success? Or Twilight itself for that matter? True, most indie authors don’t have thousands of pounds to spend on marketing campaigns, but my point is that no one can really predict the future, and no one can tell you with 100% certainty what readers will or won’t like. Want to write that book about cake-loving aliens? Or a mash-up between GoT and Terminator with a handful of Jurassic Park thrown in for good measure? Go for it. I’m not saying it’ll sell. I’m not saying it won’t. I’m saying that you should be writing whatever it it you want to write – no one else. And that’s why I love being an indie author. I can write what I want – if it works, great! If not, well then, I’ve learnt a valuable lesson and I can keep moving forward with my writing. And the cherry on top of the cake is that as an indie author, you also get to keep all your rights to your novel. Boom.

3. You can work at your own pace
It’s up to you how much (or how little) you write. Want to release one book a year? Or churn out five in six months? It really is up to you. You’re in control of your writing and your time – which can be a good or a bad thing, depending on how you look at it. It’s good because if you suddenly get busy at work, or you’re dragged out of your writing cave by your significant other to interact with real people instead of the ones in your head, it doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. You don’t have to answer to anyone and I find this an incredibly liberating thought. It’s up to me how much I write. My writing career is entirely in my hands – and I rather like the thought that I don’t have any kind of boss to answer to. On the other hand, if you’re a huge procrastinator (like me), this probably isn’t such a good thing. But hey, at the end of the day, your time and your writing is still your own. So go forth and write prolifically! Or not. Whatever, it’s all cool.

4. An awesome indie community

I’ve saved my best point for last. There is no way I ever would’ve had the courage or confidence to keep writing if it hadn’t been for the wonderful indie author community. Without their support and encouragement, I never would’ve had the confidence to self-publish my book. I honestly think that indie bloggers, reviewers and writers are the best bunch of people ever – each and every person that I’ve reached out to over the past few years has been friendly, welcoming, supportive and cheered me on every step of the way. I can’t thank them enough. They do amazing work every single day, simply because they love to do what they do, and I hope to be a part of this community for a long time to come. Being an indie author rocks, because you know that no matter what, you have the support of the whole indie community behind you.

So, in conclusion, if you want a career that involves tears, tantrums, throwing your laptop across the room in frustration, becoming addicted to tea and sugar AND YET being able to write about fantastical worlds every day, and having the support of a truly fantastic bunch of readers and writers, then indie publishing just may be for you. There’s a whole lot more to indie publishing than what I’ve listed here, but if you’re an indie author and you’re having a bad day, just remember this: you rock.

Now go and conquer the world.

About the author



Rachel Pattinson graduated from Oxford Brookes University with a BA Hons in Publishing Media. Born and raised in the north of England, she shares a love for anything to do with tea, cake, bread and butter, rain, the dark, lakes, fells and Lord of the Rings. She now lives in Norfolk with her partner in crime and is currently working on several new projects. Her debut novel Synthetica is available now from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.


If you fancy a chat or have a query, you can contact her on her blog, Rachel’s Ramblings.

Email her at: rachelsramblingsblog[at]gmail.com.

Or follow her on Twitter at: @REPattinson1

Add Synthetica to your TBR on Goodreads!

A to Z of Things Writers Should Know About Writing: Rejection

Hi all! Welcome back to another installment of A to Z of Things Writers Should Know About Writing. Today I’m writing about something that all writers must get used to.

Rejection.

It’s totally a thing.

And it can be devastating. I mean, we create our stories. We spend weeks, months — even years — to write them, edit them and polish them until they’re practically begging to be published. Or so we think.

Until we keep hearing the same thing again and again: No.

No.

No.

No.

No.

Oh, these “no’s” take a million different forms when we’re querying. Anything from a form rejection (which can and has come in in less than a minute from sending) to personalized rejections that can and do make us feel like we missed it by a tiny fraction — which might be worse than a form rejection.

Even when we finally get a yes and get published, or if we decided to go the self-publishing way, there is still rejection to be found.

Readers might not like our stories. After everything we went through to put a story before them, they might simply not like it. And that really hurts. Arguably, even more than the agent and publisher rejection.

Readers are, after all, the reason why we publish. (Not why we write, mind you, but publishing’s another animal entirely.)

We publish because we want people to read our work. More than that, we want people to like our work. And getting a “no” in any form (even if it really wasn’t meant that way), it hurts.

So what do we do? People always speak about writers needing thick skins. But as I thought of this post, I realized that a thick skin really isn’t the thing. See, when we write, we actually revealed our souls in our writing. Our stories are part of us. So having them rejected in any way just won’t stop stinging any more than a slap to a face would.

No. I think we really just learn how to breathe through the pain. We feel it. We learn how to deal with it.

And you can learn how to do it too. Start by accepting critiques on your work without letting yourself feel personally insulted. Cultivate a habit of learning what you can and knowing when a rejection means something.

Yeah, I know that this might sound stupid, but it really isn’t. Really, it comes down to realizing that, although our stories are personal, differing opinions about those stories really aren’t. It might feel that every person who doesn’t like our story that much is really insulting us as much as it.

That’s just not true. Honestly, I don’t even think the reader ever thinks of the writer when he/she reads. Which is how it should be.

So learn to realize that although the story is part of you, the rejection isn’t aimed at you. You’ll be a much better writer that way.

Anyone want to share war stories from querying/publishing trenches? Got tips?

Nick Wilford on Joining Writers’ Networks Online

Hi all! Today, I’m welcoming one of my oldest blogging friends as part of his blog tour. Take it away, Nick!

Thanks, Misha! As writers and bloggers, we all know it can be hard to push ourselves and our stories out there in the social media world, but the rewards can be immense. I don’t think it’s like we imagine before starting either – at least, not for me. Today I want to talk a little about how we take those baby steps into declaring ourselves as a writer online and what motivates us.

My collection features four short stories and one flash piece alongside my novella A Change of Mind. Four of these saw their first outing some five years ago now, on the critique website ABC Tales.

I actually came across this site by accident. I’d just written my first novel over a two and a half year period and I had sent it to an editor to have a look at. During this time I had not done a jot of social networking in terms of calling myself a writer – I was on Facebook, but barely, so I wasn’t really socially active online at all. I was a classic lurker – every now and then I would Google “writers’ websites”, come across a few forums, skim a few posts, shut them down again and that was it. My sister just happened to have a connection to an editor in London and told me she was willing to have a look at my book. So I sent it, but it would be a year before the reply came. So I brainstormed and wrote a lot of short stories – at least I’d done this before, unlike a novel.

I never gave a thought to anyone critiquing my stories. I didn’t have anything to lose, I just thought I’d write them and submit to places, but I had quite high hopes. Naïve, just a bit? I did many searches for magazines and websites and had already submitted to some when I came across a listing for ABC Tales, which said anyone could publish there just by uploading their story. Well, that sounded good to me. I clicked across and found pages where each story constituted a thread with comments underneath from the community. Ah – there was more to this than met the eye. Perhaps it might just be a good idea to get a little bit of feedback!

The standard of the postings was overall very high, and I felt a little intimidated. Nonetheless, I left a few tentative comments and suggestions on stories before posting my own. Again, with no expectations, but I was pleasantly surprised by the responses because I wasn’t sure my stories were up to much at all. For the first time, I saw the value of making writerly connections online, and I thank those kind contributors. I would still recommend ABC Tales to anyone.

Six months later, I got my first true publication, in Writer’s Muse magazine, but it would still be another year before I started my blog. This was after I had received the feedback from the novel editor, which advised my book would need an incredible amount of work. Yes, all helpful, but I was wringing my hands over this deconstruction of my baby after I’d received favourable responses to my shorter work. I wondered if I was meant to write novels at all. Eventually I started another one, and shortly after that I started my blog in order that I could talk to people about it. And I’m still here talking to you about it today.

What was your route into your writerly networking life? What was your motivation for doing so, and have those motivations changed at all?


Title: A Change of Mind and Other Stories
Author: Nick Wilford
Genre: Speculative fiction
Format: Ebook only
Page/word count: 107 pages, approx. 32,000 words
Release date: 25th May 2015
Publisher: Superstar Peanut Publishing

Blurb:

A Change of Mind and Other Stories consists of a novella, four short stories and one flash fiction piece. This collection puts the extremes of human behaviour under the microscope with the help of lashings of dark humour, and includes four pieces previously published in Writer’s Muse magazine. 

In A Change of Mind, Reuben is an office worker so meek and mild he puts up with daily bullying from his boorish male colleagues as if it’s just a normal part of his day. But when a stranger points him in the direction of a surgeon offering a revolutionary new procedure, he can’t pass up the chance to turn his life around.  But this isn’t your average surgeon. For a start, he operates alone in a small room above a mechanic’s. And he promises to alter his patients’ personality so they can be anything they want to be…  

In Marissa, a man who is determined to find evidence of his girlfriend’s infidelity ends up wondering if he should have left well alone. 

The Dog God finds a chink in the armour of a man with a megalomaniacal desire to take over the world.  

In The Insomniac, a man who leads an obsessively regimented lifestyle on one hour’s sleep a night finds a disruption to his routine doesn’t work for him.  

Hole In One sees a dedicated golfer achieving a lifelong ambition.  

The Loner ends the collection on a note of hope as two family members try to rebuild their lives after they are torn apart by jealousy.

Purchase Links:


Meet the author:


Nick Wilford is a writer and stay-at-home dad. Once a journalist, he now makes use of those rare times when the house is quiet to explore the realms of fiction, with a little freelance editing and formatting thrown in. When not working he can usually be found spending time with his family or cleaning something. He has four short stories published in Writer’s Muse magazine. Nick is also the editor of Overcoming Adversity: An Anthology for Andrew. Visit him at his blog or connect with him on Twitter or Goodreads.

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I knew I’d use my economics studies at some point: My Perspective on Paul Krugman’s Article and Amazon’s Announcement

Today I read this article by Paul Krugman. He’s one of the giants in Economics. One of the rock-stars, so to speak. He won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2008.

And, believe it or not, economics still interests me, so when his name popped up on my Facebook Timeline and I saw that he’d written about the whole Amazon/Hachette dispute, I immediately clicked over to read. 
My response can be summed up as follows: 
“We are not amused.”
Now before I launch into why, I must warn you that this is going to dig into economics a bit, but I’ll be trying my best to keep things jargon-free or at least to explain things so we’re all on the same page. This will be a long post (because I could take all week to write about this but don’t want to), but I do hope at least some of you will bear with me. 
First, let me define a few things (although I will be simplifying things so as to hopefully not bore everyone): 

Market Efficiency: 

A market condition under which all prices reflect all market information. Since I’m not writing an academic article, I’m just going to come out and say that this is the fair market condition. Every supplier knows what their clients want, and how much they’re willing to pay for it. Each client knows what each supplier in the market for a specific product sells, what prices the suppliers are selling at and which product’s price will match his/her specific value for the product. 

Today’s product up for discussion: Books. 
In an efficient market, prices are determined by supply and demand. Supply and demand are both determined by price and quantity. So for every dollar price increase, suppliers are willing to produce more units of a product. Clients, on the other hand, buy more for every dollar price decrease. 

Equilibrium Price: 

At a specific price, all books will be sold to everyone who wants that book. There will be no surplus or deficits in books. This price, known as the equilibrium price, is where the most books are sold to the most people.

If you increase the market price, more books are produced, but fewer people are willing to buy them. (Which results in say… paperbacks being pulped. But I’m getting ahead of myself.) 
If you decrease the price, more people will want the books (come on, don’t tell me you wouldn’t buy five books if a shop declared a half-price sale on everything), but fewer people will be willing to publish, because the profit might not be high enough. 
Which brings me to Amazon’s Announcement on what its dispute with Hachette is about:

Price Elasticity: 

The increase/decrease in quantities isn’t related to price on a one-to-one basis. Let’s assume that a book costs $2. If a book price could increase with one dollar, a publisher would most probably produce more than one book extra. If a book price decreases by a dollar, readers will probably buy more than one book extra. 

Ever walk into a shop to buy one book, only to find that everything is marked down to half price? Will you only walk out with two books? I wouldn’t. I’d probably walk out with as many as I can carry/afford. 
This is what Amazon is blaming the dispute on. They (quite correctly, in my opinion) surmise that more people will buy books at a slightly cheaper price, which will result in everyone on the supply side making more money. This basically comes down to the argument that it’s better to sell a thousand items at $1 each, than one item at $100. 
“But,” one might say, “if the equilibrium price has been reached, messing with it will result in either the supplier or the client losing.” 
Here’s the thing, though: We’ve never reached the equilibrium price in the first place, because the publishing market isn’t efficient. But I’m still getting to that point. 

Middlemen: 


Because I think you need a bit of a rest from reading, and because this guy explains middlemen and what they do in a market better than I do, I’m going to ask you to watch this.

To link this back to my argument: Middlemen are proof that the real world is, well, real and my nice ideal of an efficient market isn’t all that realistic.

See in the real world, book suppliers don’t have access to their clients. (I.E. Readers) And the clients have no way to actually know all the awesome and amazing books that are out there to read. Middlemen’s jobs are to bring books to the readers and readers to the books. They then charge a price for this service, paid for by either the client, the supplier, or some combination of both.

But this is where I’m going to rock your world. It’s also where my main problem with Krugman’s article comes in.

Krugman sees Amazon as a monopsony (a buyer that buys so many products from a supplier that it can in fact determine the price at which it buys from the supplier, most often to the supplier’s detriment.) This, I think we can all agree to be true, to an extent.

Amazon is a middleman. It connects the publisher to the readers, by creating a place where a huge amount of readers go to buy books. Because so many readers buy through Amazon, Amazon is now in a position to charge more for its service, and Amazon wants to make books cheaper while Hachette doesn’t. Which, from Hachette’s point of view, is to Hachette’s detriment. (An yes, I can admit that they’re not wrong.)

However, Krugman has basically made a big mistake by saying the following: “By putting the squeeze on publishers, Amazon is ultimately hurting authors and readers. “

My problem with this comes down to a fact that everyone seems to forget:

The publisher isn’t the supplier. The author is. The publisher is yet another middleman. 

A middleman who’s out to increase market efficiency to everyone’s advantage.

You hear that sound? Like distant thunder? Yep, that’s the sound of disillusioned authors everywhere laughing.

Why? Let’s look at some market realities, shall we?

Monopsonist: 

A buyer that has so much market power that it can influence the market price. This is because it can threaten to stop buying from a given suppler if he/she/it doesn’t lower prices.

Pretty much since the first printing press was invented, people who’ve wanted to be widely read wanted to be published. After all, the more copies of something exists, the more people have a chance to read them. As time went on, publishers started gathering readers as well. People liked reading high-quality books and if a publisher was known for producing those, people kept buying from them.

Which is a dream come true for any writer. Not only does the writer now have a chance to see his works printed in volume, but there are actually people who want to read them.

However, there are many writers, and only a select few publishing houses with access to nice, big readerships. Readerships who would not read something unless it was, let’s say… printed by the writer him/herself.

This resulted in publishing houses being able to cherry pick what they thought would satisfy their readers’ wants/needs. Then, these few publishing houses became fewer. Some picked the wrong cherries. Others melted together into fewer, bigger publishing houses with more market power.

Who lost here? 

The author. Industry standard at the moment is 25% royalties. Which means that they are paying 75% of profits from books they wrote for covers, editing, printing and distribution. They actually make less, because there’s a third middleman, the agents, which our big publishers force on writers. (“If you don’t have an agent, we ain’t even looking at your book.”)

The publishing houses offering bigger loyalties don’t have enough market power to actually be of much use to a writer. Yes, it’s getting the book published. But read? Not so much. And besides, these guys aren’t the ones Amazon has a problem with. Because most of them already seem to understand the value of selling books for cheaper. Especially e-books.

Ah. Yes. E-books. See Amazon wants publishers to decrease prices on e-books. Not all books. e-books. Where there is no technical cost to carrying copies. Because there are no copies to carry. No printing costs. No warehousing. No transport. And yet big publishing houses usually charge more for them than physical books, and give writers the industry standard of: 25% royalties.

Yep. The same amount as for print books. But the expenses are less.

Which means that basically, big publishers created market ineffiency in order to benefit themselves.

But wait. There’s more.

Oligopoly: 

A market condition where the market or industry is dominated by a small number of sellers. These sellers have market power to influence buyer activity and price, since it’s easy for a few companies to band together and collude to fix prices.

So big publishing charges 75% of a book’s net price for covers, editing, printing and distribution. Marketing? Weeeeeeeelll…. No. See they put all their money together, and then decide who to spend their marketing budgets on. They choose which books gets displays in stores. They choose which books gets placement at airports and other premium selling spots. They choose which book gets the big mural at underground train stations in London and which ones get advertised in big readership magazines.

In other words: These companies influence which books get seen by their readership. Which means that the readership thinks they’re seeing everything out there to buy, but really, they don’t.

On top of this, the publishing house artificially inflates the price as described above. (Google Agency Model.) Or even worse, the big publishing houses collude.

So what this means is that publishing houses actively withhold information from their readers through manipulating which books the reader is aware of, and further adds to this by not charging the equilibrium price. In fact, they’re not even trying.

This results in readers losing, and either buying fewer books or not buying any books, because they don’t see anything that appeals to them. And because they’re less likely to find something where the price matches the reader’s perceived value for the book.

Who loses here? Actually… everyone. Readers lose for the reasons stated above. Writers lose because the potential amount of books sold isn’t realized, which means they’re not making the money they could have. (Even Lee Child and James Patterson.) Amazon loses for the same reason, because they can charge selling costs on fewer sales. And so do the publishing houses.

Why then, would publishing houses continue to act to their own detriment?

A move toward market efficiency and why this is unattractive to Hachette and publishers like it. 


First, I want to say that I don’t for a moment think that Amazon is the guardian angel to all writers everywhere. I know that they’re motivated by their need for greater profit, not for some particular goodwill toward writers.

However, Amazon has been leveling the playing field between publishers and writers. They’ve collected a huge amount of readers to themselves. And then basically gave writers free direct access to those readers. This in itself has brought about a huge and long over-due innovation in the publishing industry.

Yes, the traditional industry is still cherry picking, but those who didn’t get picked simply went to Amazon and got published anyway. And Amazon, through their use of algorithms, keywords and search engines made it possible for readers to be more likely to find the book they want to read, even if they never knew it existed.  They’re creating ways for authors to at least try to get books before their readers. Something that cannot be underestimated, but that publishers aren’t at all that keen on. You see that bit where Krugman talks about Amazon being able to kill the buzz for a book?

Publishing houses have done this through spending one book’s income on another’s marketing, and then blaming the author of the former for not writing a good enough book and then all but destroying that author’s career. And for good measure, holding onto the book rights forever, just in case the author wanted to sell it elsewhere and actually make money with it.

Before, authors had to sigh and say “oh well.” Now, they don’t. Now, they can buy their own covers. They can find their own editors (who often free-lance with big publishers as well). They can hire their own PR firms. And they can publish both e-copies and paperbacks on their own terms.

Amazon brought in print-on-demand, which means that only the amount of paper books that are wanted at a specific price need be printed.

Which means that publishing houses, once in a position of supreme bargaining power, aren’t actually as necessary to writers to be published and seen.

Which means that more and more people aren’t even interested in being traditionally published any more.

Which in turn means that publishing houses are clinging more to their industry standard royalty rates. They thereby “maximize” (and I use this term loosely) their profits by taking their own profit and most of the value taken from readers and writers, while delivering less and less of the benefit they might have had before. Marketing money? Gone to cover over-heads. Huge advances to help author cash-flows as they write the next one? All but gone, or otherwise part of a punitive system where authors who don’t even get marketed, get dumped and made out to be bad writers if they don’t earn out their advances. Editors? Still there, but I can find quite a lot of them by googling. What’s more, writers can hire more and more of them as publishing houses lay them off to lower overheads.

My point and the elephants in the room. 


I’ve been watching what’s going on for a while, and what I’ve seen and experienced have turned me off traditional publishing. However, from what I’ve written above, I want to point out the following:

Elephant #1

No matter how many times Paul Krugman and other traditionally published writers might call Amazon wrong, it doesn’t make Big Publishing Right.

Elephant #2

Amazon isn’t the cancer destroying the publishing industry. The publishing industry’s unwillingness to innovate is.

Elephant #3

The sooner publishing houses realize that writers now have more bargaining power and act accordingly, the sooner everyone wins.

Elephant #4

There will be a point where no one will be willing to pay 75% of a net book price for what will basically amount to the old publishing world’s diminishing prestige and validation that no longer means anything to the readers.

Elephant #5

No one wants Amazon to be the only connection between writers and readers, but it’s obviously happening.

Elephant #6

Amazon is starting their own publishing imprints. These imprints offer services AND higher royalty rates. If publishing houses want to survive, they should stop blaming Amazon and start competing with them.

 Elephant #7 

Competition between Amazon and Publishing houses benefit everyone. Amazon will get those lower e-book prices. Writers get more sales. Readers buy books they want for prices they want and those publishing houses who are able to efficiently do their jobs while turning a profit will survive. Unlike the current ones who refuse to budge off their own business models. Those are doomed to fail thanks to the vicious cycle they refuse to get out of.

Elephant #8

The sooner writers realize that they should start pushing more to call the shots, the better for all of us. Assuming that big publishing dies. Amazon will be alone to shove us around. Alone, we’ll be easily shoved. Together, on the other hand… Honestly, I’d prefer a perfect market, but given that we could end up with Amazon as a full-blown monopoly, we need to figure out how to balance market power.

Because:

Elephant #9

Amazon isn’t writers’ big savior. But then, neither are publishing houses. Clearly.

To those of you who actually read to the end. Thanks so much for reading! Let me know in the comments if you have any thoughts/questions. 

And… she’s really really back.

Aaaaah. May’s here. And with it, I hope, a positive outlook and more productivity.

Why? Well… I came to this decision over the weekend regarding my War of Six Crowns series. So yes, I have two novels in the pipeline to get published.

But wait, there’s more. I’m also going to publish Birds vs Bastards. Before this year is out. Madness, you might say, but really, it’s publishing ready right now. (Or I wouldn’t have been willing to query it before.) I’m just going to take a few more months to make sure everything is just so.

But there’s even more. I took the past few days off to take stock after my depressed gripe from Friday. Bad news is that no, I probably still won’t achieve most of what I planned for this year. Good news is that this doesn’t set my five-year goals back at all.

See… I extended my timelines to 2018, and at the rate at which I can finish projects (and have been completing them in the past), I’m capable of getting out up to 26 (yes 26) titles before December that year. That’s a staggering amount, and I realize it isn’t all that realistic. Thirteen books, however… very very in the realm of possibility.

So now, the goal is to produce somewhere between 13 and 26 high-quality books in the next five years. Why? Because I can. And because I know that the more I produce, the more possible the goal at the top of this post ($7500 in royalties per month for a year before end 2018) will become.

Will I do it? Who knows? But man, am I going to have fun trying. After all, I won’t have anyone telling me what I can’t do.

Yes people. This kid is going self-publishing on you, and she’s going all the way.  More on this later.