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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » E - publishing: your experience wanted (Page 1)

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Author Topic: E - publishing: your experience wanted
MartinV
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I'm giving serious thought of e-publishing my current WIPs. I would like to know the details, legal in particular. Let's say my novel is complete, ready to be sent out. How do I proceed? Normally I would be hunting for an agent but with e-publishing I'm confused.

If anyone here has any experience with it, short stories or novels, I would like to hear them.

[This message has been edited by MartinV (edited February 11, 2011).]


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Pyre Dynasty
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Are you talking about self-epublishing or being published electronically by a company. The second way should work in much the same way as it always has.

Here's a less than helpful venn diagram and discussion about it: http://www.schlockmercenary.com/blog/epub-selfpub-venn


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Reziac
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Smashwords has a bunch of info up about how they work it -- probably about as good as it gets if you don't have a traditional publisher backing the e-publication.

http://www.smashwords.com/about/how_to_publish_on_smashwords

There's another fellow who was doing print-on-demand with a 50% royalty to the author, but damned if I can recall the sitename. He was trying to do it right, tho, not being a ripoff or pay-to-play vanity press.

The problem from the reader's POV is sorting through all the e-pubbed kark.. doesn't matter how dreadful it is, there'll be SOMEONE who gives it a hot review. And the problem from the author's POV is... how do you get noticed among the piles and piles of e-pubbed kark??

Seems to me the best way to get noticed and elevated above the dunghill is the "free samples" approach, using every means available -- including usenet, filesharing networks, etc. -- while making sure every sample directs readers to your point of purchase for the whole work.

And while many authors have noted that even unauthorized "free samples" increase sales, and while your royalty cut is much higher on purely e-sales, all e-sales combined are still only about 2% of the market.

Yeah, I know, not very helpful.


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Josephine Kait
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Here’s a related question. Does anyone know if you self e-publish, can you still traditionally publish later?
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Meredith
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It so happens that Nathan Bransford has several links on his blog today addressing just this issue. Including one example of very successful e-publishing.
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Reziac
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quote:
Here’s a related question. Does anyone know if you self e-publish, can you still traditionally publish later?

My grok is that once the "First Rights" (any publication) have been used up, most trad-publishers won't touch it. That includes posting your book on your own open-to-everyone website.

However, I think that's liable to change, as more authors get frustrated with the long slow process of traditional publishing and go to e-pub as a quicker route to the world. Eventually I think trad-pubs are going to start reviewing the better self-pubbed manuscripts and offering them broader-publication (as dead-tree or wide-marketed e-book), because otherwise those higher-potential money-makers are going to escape them entirely.


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Reziac
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Article and a bajillion comments:

http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/?p=2354


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KayTi
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quote:
And while many authors have noted that even unauthorized "free samples" increase sales, and while your royalty cut is much higher on purely e-sales, all e-sales combined are still only about 2% of the market.

I don't think this number is correct, and the anticipated growth of the ebook market is stunningly high. Double digits, many years, crazy.

Martin, you're going to have to research this and decide if it's for you. My suggestions for where to go for research -

Read author JA (aka Joe) Konrath's blog
Read author Dean Wesley Smith's blog - in particular the "New World of Publishing" articles.
Read indie sensation author Amanda Hocking's blog - in particular a post called "An Epic Tale of How It All Happened." She just posted today with a link to a lot of her suggested resources. She has sold more books in JANUARY than most New York Times bestsellers can hope to sell in a year. Read what she suggests, you'll get a better handle on things. True, not everyone's going to hit the market sweet spot she did, but she's been very generous with sharing her resources and experiences.

The thing I keep hearing that has me scratching my head is people stuck in an older mentality around ebooks. While you (or her, or that guy over there) might not have an ebook reader, they are quickly coming down in price to the point where the people who already have the disposable income to spend buying books (versus those who might be limited to library loans and occasional book purchases) are flocking to ebook readers like moths to a flame because the readers make their lives *simple.* Young people are flocking to ebook readers (even if only on their cell phones) because they do everything on a screen of some sort, it's a very natural interaction for them. My dad has an iPad and uses it to read his door-stop style books (I don't know what he's reading on it now but Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead is one of his favorites and clocks in at what - 1k pages? When he loads it on his iPad, the iPad doesn't weigh any more than it used to...and he still has his solitaire game he likes to play, too.)

It's changing *EVERYTHING*

This is a good time to be a writer. I know you live outside the U.S. and I've heard some pretty impressive things from indie authors about their overseas sales, too. I think the market is exploding. Great time to epublish your own titles if you have the time to put into making a great cover, formatting the document properly (smashwords will guide you step-by-infinitely-small-step) and uploading it to the various sites (amazon, barnes and noble, smashwords.)

Good luck!


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LDWriter2
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I noticed this thread and decided that this post on Dean's blog may have some relevance here. I noticed someone posted a link to another of his posts on e-publishing. Dean has three recent posts that deal with different areas of this subject. Author time, cash flow, and speed of writing. I don't know which one is listed in the above post. You can find the other two in the column next to the posts, recent posts.

http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/?p=3249#comments This one is about time.

I agree with Kay Ti about this is an exciting time but I will add that for me it's also an unsure time. I have to decide which way to go and as I have said a few times, find someone to edit my stuff. And I would also have to look into how to do covers, because evidently in e-publishing they are more important than in traditional publishing.

To answer someone's question about your ebook going to traditional paper publishing. All I can say is that it has happened a few times already and a couple of pro writers expect that it probably will happen more and more. No one knows for sure yet but it looks like it they could be right.


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MartinV
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I've already started reading Smashwords FAQ and info. A cover seems reasonable but where to make one? I'm not an artist, not with a pencil anyway.

I think the novel I'm currently writing is a good candidate for epublishing. While I have a few agents already written down for querying, I have to consider epublishing as an option.


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izanobu
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Also, with a novel, a traditional publisher will touch it after you've published it if it is doing well. There are many examples of people e-publishing and then getting offers from publishers. The previously mentioned Amanda Hocking recently turned down a print deal. You don't really "use" up the rights by self-publishing. Short stories are a different matter, however. But with novels, I wouldn't worry too much about it.
Of course, you have to sell well and have a great book. And if you're selling well you might not want the print deal anyway depending what the publisher offers.

I, personally, think the best thing is to do both. Query novels and publish them.


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Meredith
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quote:
I've already started reading Smashwords FAQ and info. A cover seems reasonable but where to make one? I'm not an artist, not with a pencil anyway.

Yeah, the cover's one of the sticking points for me, too. I'm almost at a point where I'm ready to try this out in a small way, with one or more short stories. But the cover . . .


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Foste
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I'd like to chip in, as I thought about this myself.

I think market research is crucial, i.e: If an ebook is published on the net, and no one is around, does it make a sound? (skimpy analogy. Haha!)

And for the cover I have a couple of art-savvy friends who love or pity me enough to do it for me.

[This message has been edited by Foste (edited February 12, 2011).]


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posulliv
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You might also want to look at Kristine Kathryn Rusch's take in these posts regarding the changing market and beginning writers. The comments are worth a read too.

http://kriswrites.com/2011/02/03/the-business-rusch-beginning-writers-changing-ti mes-part-16/

http://kriswrites.com/2011/02/10/the-business-rusch-beginning-write rs-again-sort-of-changing-times-part-17/

[This message has been edited by posulliv (edited February 12, 2011).]


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Reziac
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In DWS's blog comments, Laura Resnick makes a very good point (which I've considered for real estate as well) -- handling your contract through an agent is a lot more expensive, over the long term, than using a specialty lawyer ONCE, and in today's market, there's probably little advantage to using the agent. The agent feeds at your trough for as long as the contract lives; the lawyer feeds once and ceases to be an ongoing drain on your income.

Kris Rusch makes good points about how the economy of scale is completely against the new or midlist writer. When publishers can't make money on anything but best-sellers, nothing but best-sellers (or what they believe can be pushed to that position) will be published. This means that journeyman authors can no longer make a living writing. Holly Lisle has a good article about that here:
http://tinyurl.com/3844auy
(Unfortunately Holly's midlist revival project was killed by an unscrupulous person's actions.)


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KayTi
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quote:
Yeah, the cover's one of the sticking points for me, too. I'm almost at a point where I'm ready to try this out in a small way, with one or more short stories. But the cover . . .

I have a friend who is doing covers, offering a special in February for the first ten authors who contact her. Her site is called The Cover Counts.

Additionally, doing a cover yourself isn't too hard. You can create one in powerpoint or a similar tool (there are many freeware or almost free simple drawing programs on the web, too.) Find an image that you either pay for the rights to use, or is free to use in an adapted way (because you'll be changing it for your purposes.) Size it properly (roughly 5 inches across by 7 inches tall, but google book covers to figure out the proper dimensions in pixels and dpi and all that fun stuff. That you usually set in image properties on the slide or in the drawing program.) Then put your title any your name in large, easy to read font. Remember the ebook searches return tiny postage-stamp sized covers (and from an ebook reader, many return only black/white/grayscale images - so check yours in b/w to be sure it's still legible.) You can combine a few images together to make something work for your book/story concept, or farm it out to someone who you pay to do the adapting. Most of the self-published covers I've seen lately are more along the lines of photos or stock images recast as book covers, versus huge expanses of original art. But of course there is a range.

Either way, good luck. It's a different pool, but a fun one to dip your toes into!


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MartinV
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Well, I'm divided. When I write this thing I'm working on, I want to sell it. Should I try sending it to an agent or put it up on smashwords? If I do, for how much?

I'm not expecting people to answer these questions for me but they are making my nights much shroter.


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Foste
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First, I think that's nothing to lose sleep over.

Even if you self publish one novel that does not exclude traditional publishing of another one later.

Just make sure you are well informed of the industry and that your work is top notch!


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bobbyshane
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Here's a very interesting blog Anne Rice linked to on her facebook... it makes a really good case for self publishing... a really good case:

http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2011/02/numbers-game.html


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KayTi
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Bobbyshane's link is to JA Konrath's blog. If you're thinking about independently publishing, you should really read what he has to say to understand at least his point of view (not everyone will agree with it, but indies should all at least read it. I happen to agree with him on a lot.)

Good luck, martin!


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LDWriter2
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MartinV as I have stated before I am in the same boat. I will be finishing revising a novel, maybe by the end of March, and even though it will need a reader or three, I will be needing to decide what to do with it.

I want an actual physical book I can touch, at least with my first book, so e-publishing would be out but there is POD-print on demand-and the impression I get is that I can do both. That would take care of that desire.

As I have been learning there are pros and cons to each way-traditional and e-publishing-but right now it sounds like the easier and better way is the new way except with the number of sells and the fact that you have to do everything yourself. But the number of sells for e-books are in the way up. But on the other hand choosing the right cover can be a problem. And not only right one but one I like. Some of the covers I've seen for e-books and e-stories I wouldn't want to use. I saw an ad in my Writer's Digest Newsletter for a group that does covers but they charge a couple hundred dollars. Of course on yet another hand would the POD publisher take care of that? All things I need to check into when the time comes.

But I would e-publish short stories in a blink if I can find the time to clean up the nitpicks. That might be the only way for me to get another story published.

And I add that there is still more prestige and the joy of seeing your books in a bookstore with going the traditional way.

[This message has been edited by LDWriter2 (edited February 20, 2011).]


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MartinV
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Konrath's page links to Michael Stackpole's blog. He writes about BookBrewer, a service that looks similar to Smashwords, at least to my eyes. So what is the difference between BookBrewer's and Smashwords' offer and why is BookBrewer so dangerous?
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LDWriter2
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I just skimmed Konrath's post and read the first part of Stackpole's column. First I want to say that Dean Wesley Smith seems to have very similar conclusions as Konath put forth. Interesting. Second from the part I read of Stackpole's column I can see why he doesn't like BookBrewer. It does sound kinda like one of the new rackets certain not so honest agents set up.

Of course there is also the problems Borders is having now too.

Oh yes Stackpole isn't the only pro who uses that statement that money flows to the writer not from the writer.

Almost should be placed on a poster or T-shirt or mug.

[This message has been edited by LDWriter2 (edited February 20, 2011).]


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Reziac
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From BookBrewer's site:

quote:
Import posts from your site or blog, or copy/paste from a manuscript. Edit content and drag it into chapters, then congratulations ... you're an eBook author! Pay as little as $19.99 to get an ePub file to distribute on your own, or $89.99 to have us send it to major online stores along with an ISBN we assign for you (a $125 value).

See also http://bookbrewer.com/content/frequently-asked-questions

Their royalty cuts seem out of line compared to other ebook routes. And paying $200 extra to get a DRM-free file??!

I'd say it looks like someone figured out how to get free money out of people enamoured of their Deathless Prose. My guess is these will be zero-sales works (or will never exceed the $25 payment threshold), so all the profit is in the upfront fees.


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LDWriter2
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Speaking of getting the ebook right
Writer's Digest is having a webinar on that subject if anyone is interested.

Edited by Kathleen to remove the broken URL--see link in next post, please.

[This message has been edited by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (edited February 21, 2011).]


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Reziac
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Writers Digest shrunken link (as posted it's broken):

http://tinyurl.com/45vukll

(I hate UBB's awkward URL thing too!!!!!!!!)


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LDWriter2
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Thanks for the assist but how do you do those tiny links?
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KayTi
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@LD - you go to the site and then paste in a long URL, and the site will spit back a tiny one (there's tinyurl and snipit, as well as bit.ly but I've never used the last one.) Most also offer browser add-ons, so you can put the tiny (or snip) feature into your toolbar and just one-click from a site to get a pop-up with the shortened URL.

Additionally, it's VERY easy to insert a link like this one for tiny url into a Hatrack post.

Works the same as any other set of tags in a post here. You have to use the straight brackets to enclose an instruction. For a web address the instruction is "URL=" (all caps.) Afterwards, you have to close out the instruction (basically tell the computer to stop displaying whatever special thing you've told it to display) which you do also in the straight brackets, instead of "URL=" now it's "/URL" (forward slash URL)

The specific format of the URL will look like this:
Left straight bracket
URL=
pasted URL address
right straight bracket
the words you want to be underlined and to act as the link
left straight bracket
forward slash
URL
right straight bracket

Make sense? If not, I apologize.


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KayTi
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Oh, and back to MartinV's point - when I put up a story on smashwords, Barnes and Noble's pubit, or Amazon's kindle platform, my cost outlay is zero. It costs me nothing to self-publish my stories. They make their money when I make my money.

If I've put any money into the story ahead of time, that's my own cost (e.g., paying someone else to do a title for me), but the sites themselves do not charge for their use. POD is different (print-on-demand, that's putting your books out in print. Because there's a physical object, you do have to pay to create the proof and other administrative things. My understanding is this cost is well under $100US for a title (I've heard around $50, about 40 for the professional rate on Createspace, plus $10 or so for your proof.)


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LDWriter2
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Okay got to try that next time. Maybe I will find something to experiment but since the link was broken would it have worked to do that on hatrack?


Pardon me for changing the subject but Hey, just thought of a title for a story maybe I'll send it to Dean Wesley Smith since he likes to write stories from titles, I very rarely do it that way. Or if anyone else wants to try it that way. Probably be a fun story.


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Reziac
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Since I can't remember that UBB's code isn't quite the same as normal HTML, to wit
======
[
URL=
http://www.example.com/
]
example
[/URL]
=======
(I wonder if the code tag is going to work how I want? A: No. Now fixing.) Everything between the ==== marks should be one continuous line, no spaces.

... I have a bookmark on my toolbar, which sends the current page to TinyURL and automatically produces the desired short link. The bookmark is:

javascript:void(location.href='http://tinyurl.com/create.php?url='+location.href)

Obviously to work it requires javascript.

Most forum software is kinda stupid about displaying long lines, so you get either broken links or sidescrolling from hell.

[This message has been edited by Reziac (edited February 21, 2011).]


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LDWriter2
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Okay found one to try. It fits the topic too.


http://tinyurl.com/4rxrt8p


I tried it and it worked for me. Interesting if long post about surviving the publishing storm .

[This message has been edited by LDWriter2 (edited February 21, 2011).]

[This message has been edited by LDWriter2 (edited February 21, 2011).]

[This message has been edited by LDWriter2 (edited February 21, 2011).]


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LDWriter2
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Okay let's see if this works


Same link

Okay it did...thanks.

[This message has been edited by LDWriter2 (edited February 21, 2011).]


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Reziac
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BTW you can kill off the surplus "Message edited by" lines, too, if you edit a post more than once.


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LDWriter2
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Really?? hadn't thought about it since I see them on other posts.


Hmm, I may have just figured that out


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LDWriter2
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Thought this blog post from Dean Wesley Smith might be appropriate for here.

Maybe it should have it's own thread but it deals with e-publishing as a business


Business


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Jeff Ambrose
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I'm epublishing full time, meaning ALL of my stories. Lots of fun, lots of mistakes, and also lots to learn.

There's a lot to think about, and Dean Wesley Smith's blog is, in my opinion, a great place to start. He just posted the first post of a new series about becoming a publisher. Go and read it now.

Remember, if you publish short fiction, once you epublish it, you're done with it unless an editor were to make a request.

But with novels, there's no reason not to epub them and then send them out to editors.

My one piece of advice I'd give -- and this is what I'd give to myself if I could go back a few months and start over again -- is to take a month and think long and hard about what your goals. I got excited, jumped in, and now have spent a few weeks cleaning up some of the mess I made. Luckily, it was only two months of mess, and not a year's worth, but still. I'd strongly recommend you read all of Dean Wesley's Smith's posts on Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing and the New World of Publishing -- and read all the comments, too -- and get a game plan in order.

I pretty much see my 2011 Indie Year (as I like to call it) as one big experiment. I want to see what happens. My goal is to get 52 new titles up (novels, short stories, collections) by December 31, 2011. That should give me a pretty good idea of the possibilities. Of course, I take the view that all my titles are going to fail and selling only a minimum per month, so they more titles I have the more money I'll make. It's the only sane view to take in this business.

Right now, my plan is to return to traditional submissions in 2012. That WILL be the case for short fiction, but I'm not so sure about novels. The fact is that publishers are become very unwilling to give new writers reversion rights, and writers are getting screwed big time with ebook royalties; this means that while I might sell three novels for $20,000 today, I might end up loosing hundreds of thousands over the course of the next thirty years, and I guarantee you I'll need that long-term income far more than I need the extra 20 grand today. So I want to see how things shake out there before I go the NY route.

Hope this helps.


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LDWriter2
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Right now my goal is to only put up two sets of my older stories and maybe a couple of individual stories but it's tempting to put up all three novels I am working on. I probably will end up doing one for sure, because it might be only 60,000 or so words. One is going to be around 90,000 and I may try that one the traditional way. The third one is up in the air right now.

But besides the sets of stories I haven't decided yet. But in either case I will need, as I have mentioned a few times, outside help with the covers and copy editing. Both will cost money. How much is the issue. Dean discusses that and a couple of other needs. Really thought provoking post he has there.


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LDWriter2
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Not sure if this fits here or in the new 99 cent thread or both but this short Jim Chines blog post about Amanda Hocking' success, who I need to check out, is worth reading.

Success


Boy before this discussion I never heard of her or that other guy with the Klingon sounding name. All the more reason to get an e-reader.



[This message has been edited by LDWriter2 (edited March 10, 2011).]


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MartinV
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I only write novels. I can't seem to get myself to write anything shorter than 50k. Dean Wesley Smith says that writers should balance between traditional publishing and epublishing. I don't know if I will know what novel to publish which way.
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LDWriter2
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More about the benefits of e publishing. And a warning


Trust me



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Josephine Kait
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Thanks for the link. That was... enlightening.
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LDWriter2
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Okay here's a conversation between three writers about agents and how to pay for e-publishing books.


http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/?p=3707#comments

Interesting and informative but I think part way through the started pretty much repeating themselves even though using different words.


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Meredith
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If you haven't already, check out Nathan Bransford's post for today. In fact, for this whole week. But today's was very interesting in finding a way to finance doing a good job of e-publishing for those of us on very tight budgets.
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muranternet
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[quote=Jeff Ambrose]But with novels, there's no reason not to epub them and then send them out to editors.[/quote]

Can you expand on this? Doesn't epublishing a novel make it less attractive to a trad publisher?

Along those same lines, I'm interested to know if there is a good way to epub with a simultaneous print pub, for people who like physical books, even something as simple as epub + a POD option, if it doesn't turn out too badly. Or is there an epub service that includes print and actually has a brick & mortar distribution channel?


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Jeff Ambrose
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@ Muranternet --

My understanding is that a self-published novel won't pose any problem to an editor who wants to buy it. There are several indie writers who have switched over, Amanda Hocking being the big name. Either editors will like it and want to buy it, or they won't. Now agents, from what I hear, are very much opposed to self-published novels. But, then, why any unpublished writer would even want an agent is beyond me.

Yes, you can self-pub and do POD. Look into CreateSpace; many indie writers use it.

In terms of getting your books into brick and mortar stores, that's a whole different ball game, and one I can't comment on. I suggest you jump over to Dean Wesley Smith's blog for an answer to that question.


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Wordcaster
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I didn't want to post another topic... On another forum, I was reading from a writer of MG books that she had sold thousands of copies of her book in hardcover and sold less than twenty e-books.

I wonder how reflective that is of MG readers. I bet it's not too far off. Perhaps my thought of maybe e-publishing my MG books is a bit short-sighted.


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Meredith
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With MG, you've got two issues, as I see it.

How many of them have a reader? Many probably have a phone, but how many books would you really want to read on that screen? Access to the computer may be limited for good reasons. How many eight to twelve year olds have a dedicated e-reader? (That number will grow.)

And the real issue with MG is the gate keepers. Eight to twelve year olds don't have credit cards (at least, I hope they don't), so Mom or Dad has to buy the e-book for them. So, how do you reach the people who can pay and convince them your book is the right one for little Johnny or Jenny?

That's just my limited view of the world right now. I have no data to back up those opinions.

[This message has been edited by Meredith (edited April 09, 2011).]


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redux
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Here's an interesting article from the New York Times titled: "E-Readers Catch Younger Eyes and Go in Backpacks." E-books for YA readers are definitely taking off while MG seems to be gaining some momentum.
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KayTi
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Thanks for that article link, @redux. Confirms what I have been thinking, which is that ereaders will trickle down to kids sooner than later (think how quickly kids became a target market for iPods. First it was a product just for geeky audiophiles, but before long it was an everykid type of device. And given that kids read almost as much as they listen to music, particularly before they hit the teen years...)

I dug further and found a bunch of articles talking about how the Nook Color is super popular, 3M in sales already and it's only been out since November. It's the second most popular tablet-like seller (second to the iPad.) Very very interesting. Most say it's not a very powerful tablet, but a very powerful eReader, but it also is an interesting device for kids, as a hybrid/more locked-down device than an iPad. Plus the digital ink Nook and Kindles are still out there at sub-$150 prices. iPods were in that range when they first came out (anyone remember those days?)

At any rate - I think the proliferation of ereading devices in families (with geek families like mine considering upgrades and hand-me-downs of old tech to the kids) and the lower price points and more powerful features available means more kids will have access to more ereaders (or ereading software on their phones.) I was noticing just yesterday how really ANNOYING the pricing is on many ebooks in the MG/YA market. Super expensive, which is ridiculous given that many of them are much shorter than adult fiction priced comparatively.

So...this is an opportunity for us writers of YA/MG fiction, as we can put our ebooks out with very competitive prices (I'm going to start at 4.99 for my novels) and play the pricing game as a way to be appealing to readers. If you think about it as a slow build of the market as ereaders trickle down, you'd have first mover advantage by putting your ebooks out soon, so they are already THERE when the holiday season rush comes at the end of the year. You can have the opportunity of a good 6 months to build interest, garner positive reviews, etc. Pretty good timing and strategy, in my opinion...


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