Friday, December 30, 2011

If You Are Going To Publish Your Own Work...

As I said in my previous post, the digital explosion in Ebooks has certainly created many an opportunity for those who want to get their feet wet. But first let me make this clear. It still is an excellent idea to attempt to publish your material via the "traditional" method of query letter ---> agent ---> publisher. However, whereas 3-4 years ago I would not have put caveats in that statement, today with just a cursory look around and reading the material that comes in, there is a big difference. So as not to disappoint my old readers of this blog I still do not follow the tried and true path, and I will just give some impressions here, before my next few posts which will try and explain in a step by step method of exactly where and how you can publish your E books. The three dirty words here are:

1. Self-Publish
2. Vanity Publish
3. Indie (a fairly new buzz term or old depending upon what you consider new and old!)

Now Down To Some Pointers & Observations:

1. Agents are more bitter about the business then they were a few years ago. The model they are used to has gone topsy-turvy on them and they are scrambling to keep up. 

What does the above mean? 
It means still the best way to be published is the old query letter--->agent--->publisher route. I will not argue with that point. It is definitely the way to go if you can. 

[As an aside, and I am sure I am not the first person to say this, the fact that some agents and publishers today still "demand" snail letter queries and snail mail ms. is just ludicrous (and a few more choice adjectives can be put here, none of them endearing). But it does show how deep the publishing industry is entrenched in its own hype.]

However, the ability to write electronically - even just doing a blog post, has turned the writing world on its head. We consume more "information" whether needless or important, than any generation before us. We Facebook, Goggle+, Twitter, Blog, LinkIn and everything else you can imagine. Thus the actual "act" of writing a book is also part of this scenario.

The following may seem a digression but please follow. Any book on telling you how to sell and market your work, will tell you that even after you have a contract with a publisher, you will need to do a lot of your own self PR, unless you are a major league author, and even then - you still have to do it.

That little fact has come back actually to bite both publishers and agents in the good ole' backside. Technology passed them. People who know technology moved way faster than agents and publishers. So it was not a big leap of intelligence to say:

"I have to suffer this agent route, where half of them do not bother even answering me. I have to suffer the fact that my query letter must be one page, printed, sent in an envelope, and then wait 4 months for an answer. Then I have to wait until the agent does find a publisher. IF they find a publisher. Then I have to wait another year before the book may come out, if it is not cancelled. Then I have to market my own book which I have to do anyway if I self-publish. So forget that!"

Thus Ebook publishing, with self-publishing, indie, vanity publishing, whatever you want to call it was born. And it is exploding. Because there are now blogs, forums and web sites which actually recommend books to people. Books no one would have ever knew existed before. And these blogs and Facebook groups, and Lord only knows who else, do NOT look at who published they look to see if people actually read and liked the book to give their recommendations.

Agents and Publishers both, do not yet know what to make of this revolution. They do not know yet how to produce a "financial model" in which they can co-exist with the new technology.

One thing is clear. Beforehand the role of Agent was akin to God. Now they are not even ministering angels. Before they could be very picky, not answer email, let queries languish on their desk for months and months, or just junk them - and make an extremely good living. Now they have to figure out just how to fit into this model, where slowly, though not very slowly, they are being tossed aside for the direct route. They now have to rely on agenting and negotiation of rights that go beyond the scope of a digital book.

Why? Because most people reading this, can do more in "electronic PR" than any agent can. Because any person can learn or hire an SEO expert, take their book, whether it is junk or not, and upload it to a myriad of places for sale or free. They can "brand" their name better than any publishing house or agent can do at the moment. In other words the sanctified, mysterious and snobbish world of "Publishing" is slowly being taught a lesson or two in what happens when you wait too long and do not follow what is going on around you.

Writing is a lonely experience. Some, the lucky ones, manage to go that agent-->publish route without much frustration along the way. Others can rely on their names having already been "made". Some, each year will find fame and fortune and satisfaction in this route. And it surely is the way to go if you have time, patience and are very lucky.

Make no mistake. Go the electronic route by yourself and you still have a 99.9% chance of being delegated to oblivion. That is simply fact. 

But it still gives you another option. And that option, once shunned, has certainly entered the world of legitimate.

In the next posts, I will share some of the experiences I have had with publishing and the actual HOW-TO of how to publish on Kindle, at the very least. 

Meantime of course, I have do my own PR.

So..."Ancient Tales, Modern Legends" has had really good success so far. The books are priced @ $1.99 in the USA. (Other countries Amazon adds VAT etc.)

Ancient Tales, Modern Legends

A Tale That Is Told - Part I (The Chronicles Of The Children Of Heaven Series)

Please remember to write a review as well!

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Sunday, December 25, 2011

"Ancient Tales, Modern Legends" Published

I guess when you write and have been doing so for so long, it becomes part of your genetic makeup. Until 2007, this blog was fairly well read, actually more than "fairly" and enjoyed quite a following. But around that time, as my last post explained some 3 years ago, I moved towards Virtual World Technologies. Time goes on. You follow the path that either you create or leads you.

During this time the Digital World of print exploded. I stood on the sidelines, reading, researching and listening. I was never skeptical about it. I know that children growing up today for the most part, will lose that wonderful feeling of turning the pages of a real book. Yet, this too has its positive side, in that so much more information becomes available to the person when they are working on a digital format.

Yet, I was a bit wary of jumping into the "find the agent -- get the publisher" fray again. Having been burned so many times it is difficult to be positive about such things. Then a couple of months ago, one of my short stories, through my agent was bought and published by Istoria Books for publication in ebook format. They put "A Pot Of Gold" in their Lunch Books Series Volume 4 and once again I started paying attention to the digital world. You can see it here: 

Which of course got me thinking. Which of course caused a small coal still burning deep inside to write and write to flare up. And as time went on that flare became a small fire. Friends, family and colleagues gently nudged me to enter the world of ebook publishing. I put it aside for as long as I could ignore those inner voices. Then one day I said to myself, "let me just see how difficult or easy this is to do".

For someone used to technology I found Amazon's KDP very intriguing. It had a lot of positive sides, and I felt that it would be a good starting point. So I read their documents (more on those in a later post as their documentation is not complete), but I jumped in. I decided the time had come to enter this world. Too much was languishing on my hard drive. Too many years of writing and writing and writing, were sitting there, with no place to go. Maybe it was all just plain horrible. Maybe it was good. Maybe it was mediocre. And maybe it was excellent. There was no way for me to really know.

I would never have taken this leap if it was the old scam of charging the author to read their work. But this was Amazon and could be trusted and it is totally free. I found all the right reasons in the right environment to go ahead. Yet still, as many of you will say, what if you wait for that agent and the publishing contract? It was and still is a question that each person must answer for themselves. I assumed it would not happen. Manuscripts mailed out languish or are never read on some desk of a publisher or agent. Rejection letters pile up. It wears you down. And even if you do have an agent, that is just part of the battle.

The digital world allows us to a great deal that would have to have been done by professionals just ten years ago. Not only the actual creation of the book, but promotion, marketing, public relations can all be done if you do know how to use and manipulate the electronic byways in the correct way. Of course, the real thing is to write, not to spend time on Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In and using programs to create ebooks. However, as I realized in the old cliche - you just have to start somewhere.

I knew I would return to "Cobwebs Of The Mind". I actually enjoyed writing this blog. It was fun. People read it. They sent in letters asking why I had stopped. Actually, I had all the puzzle pieces. The question was did I have the strength once again to put them together and implement them correctly.

So I took my collection of short stories, "Ancient Tales, Modern Legends", sans "A Pot Of Gold", as it had just been published, went over it and began the process. To be honest once your book is ready and you know what you are doing, this process should take more than a couple of hours from beginning to end - the end being it is up on Amazon or Smashwords or Google Books. IPad is a different animal but then again you can use Smashwords for it. Running ahead of ourselves at the moment. I took a week, which was mostly an inner psychological fight, "why do it?".

Today the short story collection "Ancient Tales, Modern Legends" is up on Amazon. If anything, I enjoyed the actual process. Yet, as anyone who has been through it will tell you, once you start, there is a great deal more work all the time. For now, I will apply the social networking skills to try and move the book in the Kindle format.

In the next few posts I will share the process with you so that we can combine writing with the necessary and required skills of technology.

If you can afford to, and desire it, get the Kindle version of "Ancient Tales, Modern Legends". I think you will enjoy the read with 12 short stories, in approx. 320 pages (in Kindle format there really are no pages). Please also, pass this information on to others, and if you do leap in and buy it, leave a review. (I think you are required to wait 48 hours after purchase to post a review.)

Well I guess this means Cobwebs of the Mind is back. Not such a bad thing. Not such a bad thing at all. :)

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