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.
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!
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.
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.
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?
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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:
No matter how many times Paul Krugman and other traditionally published writers might call Amazon wrong, it doesn’t make Big Publishing Right.
Amazon isn’t the cancer destroying the publishing industry. The publishing industry’s unwillingness to innovate is.
The sooner publishing houses realize that writers now have more bargaining power and act accordingly, the sooner everyone wins.
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.
No one wants Amazon to be the only connection between writers and readers, but it’s obviously happening.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is going to sound weird, but I’m so glad that I went through that nightmare with my former publishing house.
In terms that we writers all understand, that was the dark of the night. The moment when I was at my absolute lowest. That bleak time when I wasn’t sure if I could carry on. Where I had to take stock and somewhere, somehow, find the strength I needed to keep going.
You know what? That’s exactly what I did. And what I realized is this. I love writing. I write just for the hell of it. I write it’s because my passion. But I’m not going to allow that my loving a story I wrote will enable someone to bully or exploit me or push me around in any way that I don’t want to go.
So in the interests of that, I’m changing the way I’m looking at the publishing business. Before, I just signed when I got the offer because the contract seemed fair and I didn’t feel I had bargaining power. Now… I’m saying screw it.
From now on I’m having an attorney going over ever publishing contract I might sign with a fine-toothed comb. And if I don’t like something, I’m going to ask for it to be changed.
You know why? I’m a writer. I face monsters and insecurities and all sorts of darknesses within my own soul in order to create books. And
But no one will respect me if I don’t respect myself. And respecting myself means standing up for myself and acting like the powerhouse I know is lurking within me.
You know the thing about powerhouses? They keep moving forward to bigger and better things.
Oh my gosh, you guys!
I’m not going to lie.
The past few weeks has had me the lowest I’ve been in a long time when it comes to my writing.
I mean, being treated the way I am – by people I am supposed to trust – just really demoralized me. I mean… what’s the point of spending years on preparing books for publishing, only to experience a loss of control over those books I never expected?
But you see, here’s the thing. I want my books read, yes. And I do deserve not to have a publishing house treating me like shit. But neither publishing, nor editors’ compliments, nor good reviews are why I am in this gig.
No. It’s not about preparing books for publishing at all. It’s about writing.
And I write because I love it. I love my characters. I adore letting myself submerge into worlds of my own creation. To me, writing is almost a heightened sense of being. And nothing.
Gives me the same buzz as something happening in a book I’m writing that I didn’t see coming.
That’s why I write. If no one in the world sees the next thing I finish, I’ll be disappointed. And when people screw me over, I’ll be furious. I’ll do everything I possibly can to defend my rights.
But the point is that I’m not letting these people define my life to the extent where they negatively affect my creativity. They’re not worth the aggravation.
So that’s what I’m doing. I’m letting go of my anger. I’m focusing on refilling those creative wells. And I’m getting myself to where that desire to write and perfect what I’ve written outstrips everything else.
Because that’s what I want to get back to. The pure joy that comes from doing what I love. And a distance and clarity I’ll need to keep the story I love from being exploited in ways I can’t allow.
When I can do that, (and note, I’m not saying “if”.) I can really say that I’ve become a pro at my job.
Because pro writers don’t sit forever, dwelling on the negatives and blaming them for why they can’t write. They write. They create. They edit. Despite all the shit that might fly around them.
So, ladies and gents. That’s where I am. Right now I’m going a bit of thoughtless creativity in the form of crochet (tip from experience: repetitive actions calm the mind and allow perspective from difficult events.). But as of tonight, I’m going to get myself back into writing mode. Even if it’s just random prompts by the hundred.