Some good advice here for authors.
The hard work isn’t over when you type “The End” on your final draft, nor does it finish after months of editing.
If you’re a writer who wants to see your manuscript published traditionally, you’ll need to work on a submission package for agents and publishers. If you want to give your MS the best chance of standing out in the slush pile, that should include avoiding these 6 submission mistakes.
Not Checking It Every time You Submit
You might think it’s over the top to double-check a submission before hitting send if you’ve read it a million times and know for sure it’s correct, but you know what? That’s what the typos want you to think.
Those little gremlins are always there, tricking your eyes. I sent off three submissions last week, and on the third one, I still found a typo even though I was positive the…
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Useful info from Don Massenzio on using ACX for the creation of audiobooks. I have several audiobooks which are with the royalty share option, so I did not pay anything for their production. I also placed a sample of my manuscript online for audition, and on average had to wait about 2 -3 weeks before somebody read it.
In a recent post, I described the process for striking out on your own and recording an audiobook. As I mentioned in that post (found here), I originally went down this post and didn’t like my result because of the quality of my voice.
The route that I took instead, was to use a professional voice actor and create my audiobook through ACX, Amazon’s audiobook platform.
This three part series will describe, in some detail, the process that I went through to create my first of two audiobooks. I hope you find it helpful.
Step 1 – The Platform
This part of the process turned out to be a no-brainer. I was skeptical at first, however, because I had tried the exact same tactics in the past with no positive results. The overwhelming suggestion for a platform was to use acx.com. ACX is another one of those content publishing companies…
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Last week I was surprised when I decided to submit a tweet for December’s #PitMad exercise. I had sent a few tweets in the past, but they had never been favoured by any agents. However, to my surprise, within a short while of sending my tweet, it was liked by somebody I assumed was a literary agent.
Having been stung in the past by a few small publishers eager to make a fast buck, I decided to do my homework and check this person out. I found out the ‘agent’ who liked my tweet is actually an ‘acquisitions editor’ from yet another small publishing company, where there is a distinct overlap between the authors and the staff members..
The write up by Victoria Strauss on the threaded view in the Absolute Write forum says it all really:
I just reviewed an I……. W…. contract, and it’s pretty bad. Among other problems: an agent-of-record clause that empowers the agent in ways that may exceed the actual author-agent relationship; editing clauses that empower the publisher to edit and make abridgements without the author’s consent (the author’s only recourse is to walk away); vague language that makes it hard to figure out the meaning of some of the clauses, including the actual term of the contract; and language that empowers the publisher to bill the author for unspecified editing and production costs if the publisher decides the author is in breach or has missed a deadline. There’s also language that suggests that they compensate “referral agents” for sending authors their way.
I……. W…. appears to have published just 10 books since its 2016 startup. This is a really, really slow publication schedule–kind of hard to understand, given that there’s a pretty big staff for such a small press. The publishing schedule is also troublingly irregular, with several months’ gap between releases in some cases. For instance, they released a book in November 2016, then nothing until March 2017, and then nothing until August. It’s just not very professional.
The books’ Amazon sales rankings are dire, especially the Kindle rankings. Doesn’t look to me like a publisher that’s putting a lot of effort into marketing and promotion.
So authors, beware when you take part in #PitMad next time. It’s not always literary agents who favour your tweets; sometimes it’s an ‘acquisitions editor’ from a small publishing company that Victoria Strauss has already checked out and given the thumbs down to. You need to do your homework and find out if it’s worth sending off that manuscript you’ve worked so hard to create, or whether it’s better to self-publish.
From what I can tell by using a print-on-demand publisher/distributor like Ingram Spark and then registering my books with Nielsens, it’s only the same thing that many small publishers do anyway, and so you might as well pay Ingram’s fees, do it all yourself, and be your own small publisher and cut out the middle man/woman/person/ who is after a slice of your royalties. Nielsens then add your books to Gardners, and hey presto, your books are then able to be seen by buyers from the big bookstores. I’ve sold far more paperbacks via Ingram and their Advance catalogue in the past couple of months than any other sites where my books are on sale (one morning I checked my Ingram dashboard and I’d sold 27 books overnight!).
Of course I’m sure that there are wonderful small publishers out there who do care about marketing your book, and who do not want you to sign away the rights to your work for 5 years or more. Also I’m after the one whose top priority is not how much money they can make from my work. As I said before, I’m sure there’s a lovely small publishing company out there – it’s just that I haven’t met them yet.
I’m still going to increase the word count on my story and send it to a few chosen literary agencies. I’ll even take part in the next PitMad exercise on 7th March. You never know, a bona fide agent might even ‘like’ my tweet!
Some interesting information here from Nicholas C. Rossis on ten reasons why people buy a book.
People judge a book by its cover. However, as every author knows, that’s not the only thing that makes them buy a book. Tucker Max recently explained in The Writing Cooperative what else influences their decision in a post we should all bookmark. As he points out,
Almost every potential reader will judge whether or not to buy and read your book before they have read one single word inside the book.
He then continues to explore the unconscious process of choosing whether to buy a book or not, breaking it down into a handy list, listed in order of what readers will consider, from first to last:
- The title of the book
- The recommending source
- The book cover
- The book description
- Editorial reviews
- Customer reviews
- The author bio and picture (depending on where the picture is placed)
- The length of the book
- The book text itself (the “see inside” function…
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A thought-provoking post from Don Massenzio. IMHO I don’t think it matters how old you are when you start writing. I think the older you are, the more experiences you’ve had to write about.
When I jumped into the indie author scene, it was a calculated risk. Like I do with a lot of decisions, I looked at the pros and cons.
- There are a number of platforms that are easy to publish your work on for little or no cost (Amazon, Nook, Smashwords, etc.).
- The royalties for sales are pretty decent. If you price a book on Amazon over $2.99, for instance, you will get 70% of what you sell.
- You can write at your own pace in whatever style you want.
- You can directly interact with your readers through many vehicles (blogs, mailing, lists, social media, author signing events).
- There is a fairly organized community of independent authors and you can learn from others and help others that are just getting started.
- My writing would be judged directly by the readers and not some low-on-the-totem-pole publishing house employee looking for the…
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Thanks to Susan Violante for this info on promoting books in bookstores. Three of mine will be in a Waterstones’ store on the Isle of Wight in January. It’ll be very tempting to visit the store in January, but on this advice I think I’ll just stay on the mainland…
Susan Violante Managing Editor
By far the hardest thing an author has to learn to do when their first book comes out is promoting. I was lucky in that I had worked in retail in my younger years, so all I had to do was tap into my long-forgotten sales persona to sell myself to bookstores and other businesses where I hoped to do book signings or have them carry my book. Even so, I made a number of mistakes. Some molded the way I do things now…others I rather forget because they were embarrassing, but they do bring laughter to others when my husband tells the stories…Either way, mistakes are how we humans learn so don’t be discouraged by them. Below are some things I learned not to do whether through my own mistakes or those of others:
- Don’t expect to be seen by the Manager or Buyer of…
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I’ve discovered another way of increasing clicks on products linking to Amazon Associates, and therefore possibly augmenting any payment.
Instead of just plonking the code for a banner on website pages, this post explains how to use text URLs on blogs, which usually receive more clicks.
If I want to advertise a product such as my memoir, I would use the shortened Amazon URL of the book (cut off just before ‘ref’) and then add ?tag= and lastly add my associate ID stevieturner-21. Simple isn’t it!
Recently some good news: My local branch of Waterstones on the Isle of Wight is going to add 3 of my books to their Local Interest shelf in January. I had taken copies of Revenge, Lily: A Short Story, and The Donor in to the manager earlier in October to enquire as to whether he would be interested in displaying them, as all 3 feature the Island in some way.
Getting an agreement from a store manager to display your books is also the hardest part, and you’re on your own there I’m afraid. If you take a look at Waterstones’ own application form, it’ll say for authors not to bring their books into the stores as they only work through buyers, but I hadn’t read this when I took mine in as I didn’t go via this route!
I found that books with local interest fare rather better at getting accepted, and I mentioned to the manager our holiday home on the Island and how I have a big interest in Island history. He was happy to check my books out. When I made a follow-up phone call, he was quite chatty and confirmed he’d like to display them early in the New Year.
This started off another train of thought; if there’s any interest in my books from readers and supplies are needed, what would I have to do in order to get copies of my books onto the Waterstones’ system? I asked the manager, who kindly replied that I’d need to register on the Nielsen ISBN store as a new author, purchase an ISBN for each book, and then register my titles and their new ISBN numbers with the Nielsen Title Editor when they send me new log in details. After this I’d need to fill out and send off an application form to wholesaler Gardners Books Ltd (Waterstones buy from Gardners) and then find a distributor. Gardners also supply other bricks-and-mortar stores.
I then asked on Facebook for recommendations for a print-on-demand distributor who would print my books when Gardners sent an order. The favourite one seemed to be Ingram Spark, and so I registered with them and started to add my titles.
So …first things first. I registered as a new author on the Nielsen ISBN website, and purchased a block of 10 ISBNs for £159 (it was cheaper in the long run than buying individual ISBNs). Ingram Spark also generate barcodes for free, and so I did not need to buy any from Nielsen’s. Ingram Spark will also email you a cover template with a barcode added if you send them the ISBN number, the page count and price etc. I then paid a $49 cover/manuscript setting-up fee per book on Ingram Spark.
More expense – I then had to upgrade my 10 paperback covers to fit Ingram’s specifications, and to ensure the back of the covers showed Ingram’s barcode, and so again asked for recommendations. Maria Lazarou’s price at Obsessed by Books Designs was very reasonable for 10 back covers/jackets, and she is super-helpful. Also I had used Laura at LLPixDesigns in the past, and she made a new jacket/front cover for ‘Lily: A Short Story’. Thanks to those concerned for all the recommendations I had for POD distributors and book cover designers.
I then registered on the Nielsen Title Editor website and filled in their registration form. I added the name of my organisation (Stevie Turner) and the number of one of the ISBNs I had just purchased (I was pleased I had previously sorted out a P.O Box address a few years’ ago for my mailing list, although you can use your own address if you don’t mind it being visible online). I then waited for a few working days until their editors could process my form, and hey, ho, was then issued with a user name and password for the Nielsen Title Editor website so that I could add my books (use the Chrome browser for this). I then filled in a Gardners application with all my details and sent it off. Nielsen’s confirmed that they would send details of all my books to Gardners, and so I didn’t need to register all the books again with Gardners.
My books started to appear on Gardners after about a week or so, and therefore were then available for ordering via Waterstones. Ingram Spark help with marketing, for a fee of course, and include your book in their ‘Advance’ catalogue that they send out to stores, and for another fee Gardners will advertise your book, but basically you still have to do all your own marketing. Hopefully later in the New Year when all my books are on the Gardners’ system I might even be able to get my local branch of Waterstones to stock them as well.
This is my project at the moment – to get all my books onto the Gardners system eventually. At the moment ‘Revenge’, ‘The Donor’, Lily: A Short Story, and ‘A House Without Windows’ are all available on Ingram Spark. Nielsen’s have the four titles on file, and I’ve already made 4 sales. I’ve learned to be patient, and am ever hopeful that all my books will be up and running on the Gardners system by December next year after I’ve saved up some more money!
Of course, getting my books into Waterstones doesn’t mean instant sales. They may or may not sell, so I will update you all later in 2019 as to whether it’s all been worth it or not. So far I’ve only sold 4 books, but they say you have to speculate to accumulate, and at the moment it’s mostly speculation…
Here you are then… in a nutshell, the system works like this (good luck):
- Find a Waterstones’ manager willing to display your books (don’t give up!).
- When you have a willing manager, register on the Nielsen ISBN store as a new author and buy either one or a block of ISBNs. If you do steps 2 – 9 without finding a Waterstones’ branch to take your books, then you might be paying out a lot of money for no reward.
- When you receive new log in details from Nielsen, register on the Nielsen Title Editor website and add your books. You have the choice to pay extra for an enhanced book service (£145 for a year’s subscription for 10 books).
- Find a POD distributor, upgrade your book covers with their barcodes (you can choose as to whether you add the price of the book on the back cover or not) and pay their set up fees to add your book (s). You can also pay $85 to have your book listed in their ‘Advance’ catalogue which is sent out to stores.
- Fill in a Gardners application form with all your details and send it off. If you’re using a POD distributor like I am, then that’s all you have to do. Gardners won’t set up a trading account with you, because any royalties will come in via Ingram Spark.
- When Waterstones places an order for your book, the order will be received by Gardners.
- Gardners then order from your distributor, in my case Ingram Spark.
- When the book is delivered to Gardners, then they supply Waterstones.
- Ingram Spark take care of the invoicing, and you just sit back and wait for your royalties to flood in (ha ha)!
Unfortunately I don’t know how all this works in the US. Perhaps one of my US friends can check out the system and write a blog for American authors?