Category Archives: Agents and Publishers

Issues related to Literary Agents, Pubishers, etc.

What Does It Take to Make a Living as an Author?

THIS POST IS FOR WRITERS:

I must admit that reading articles by authors who say something along the lines of, “With 18 books now out and available, I hope to one day make enough money as an author to quit the day job.”

Uh… what?

I just read an article where an author says something like that, and I can’t help but think that the individual in question is doing something wrong. Are the books poorly written? (I don’t know.) Is the author writing in some obscure genre? (No.) Does the author have a simply awful deal with the publisher? (I don’t know, but only half the author’s catalog is with a publisher, and the rest are self-published.) Does the author spend absolutely zero time and money marketing the books he/she has worked so hard to produce? (I don’t know.)

Something just isn’t right here. It could be any number or combination of factors holding this author back, but a little self-analysis is really called for.

To be honest, I could never get to 18 books if my first 17 weren’t selling and making me at least a modest living. What’s my magic number before I would think about hanging it up? That’s a hard one, because the marketplace is a different animal than it was 20 years ago.

Once upon a time, everyone expected authors to hit their sales stride by the time their third book released, or perhaps their fourth. Few authors received a deal for their fifth book if their first four weren’t making money. (Hell, sometimes they wouldn’t get a deal for their second book if their first one wasn’t at least a modest hit.) Now, it’s one thing for a traditional publisher to make money, and another thing altogether for the author to be making a living off the same books, given how crappy some of those traditional publishing contracts are for authors. Still, the third or fourth book seemed an appropriate time to tell the boss, “I quit!”

Nowadays, with the eBook and self-publishing revolutions, in which me, you, your neighbor, your neighbor’s uncle, and your neighbor’s uncle’s dog are all publishing books, the equation seems to have changed for most. It’s much harder to get noticed in the first place, and to go through that brand-building process, now that we’re all competing with 93,274,561 other authors (rounded off to keep it simple).

At Evolved Publishing, for example, we now have authors with four to five books out who are still looking to get over that hump. I believe they’re close, and certainly the genres they write in play a big role, but it looks as if they’ll need those sixth and seventh books to make that leap. In most cases, I believe six books might be the target number, but all six must be in the same genre, and therefore appealing to the same audience. In other words, if you’re writing in multiple genres, you need six books in each of them. Also, it helps if it’s a genre that sells well. If you’re writing literary fiction, as an example, you’ll have a tough row to hoe. Or if you’re writing children’s picture books, the magic number might well be ten to twelve just to get your catalog rolling, as parents tend to gravitate to authors who have a large catalog to offer.

Of course, that’s just an estimate based on empirical evidence I’ve seen and heard in all the discussions out there, and based on actual numbers I have for some twenty-five authors. Every individual experience is different. Some get lucky and hit it big with book number three or four; others are still struggling at six or seven. And when it finally happens for an author, the whole of their catalog will take off all at once–like zero to sixty in a split second… after revving the engine for years.

Additionally, you must build your brand as an author, and that means spending time developing your following–social media, website, advertising, special promotions, perhaps even a free eBook to get folks: A) knowing who you even are, and; B) excited about your work.

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The point I want to make is three-fold:

If you only have one or two or three books out, and they’re not selling, it may just be an indication that you haven’t yet hit that magic number where readers sit up and take notice. Keep going, and keep being careful to produce good work.

If you have eighteen books out and they’re still not earning a living for you, something is amiss. Frankly, your work may not be good. Sorry to say it, but there you have it. A lot of folks are publishing garbage these days, but they can fool readers for only so long. The consumer always catches up in the end.

Writing is the most important thing you do. Keep building that catalog, as it’s essential to your eventual success. However, you can’t ignore completely the marketing of your books and your brand. It’s a long slow grind, building your brand; you must start early and keep at it throughout your career. You needn’t spend hours a day at it, but at least a few hours a week is a good idea.

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If you lack patience, perseverance, and a thick skin, embrace your day job with a new gusto and stop torturing yourself over being an author. If you possess those qualities, however, and you’re producing good, professional-grade work, then just keep on keepin’ on. Your day is coming.

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The Future of Publishing – One Man’s Perspective

THIS POST IS FOR READERS and WRITERS:

The discussion of the publishing industry and its place in the future continues to rage on the interwebs. The Amazon/Hachette debate has really fired it up a notch, and folks are screaming from both sides of the debate.

The latest piece to get me going was Why We Need Independent Bookstores More Than Ever on the Publishing Perspectives website. I felt the need to weigh in on the conversation, and did so as follows:

~~Hi, I’m a buggy maker. You know, as in horse and buggy? I believe we must stop immediately this move toward automobiles. Oh sure, Ford claims they’re doing it just to help people move about from Point A to Point B more quickly, and to provide convenience and productivity to their lives, but I know the real reason: they’re trying to put me out of business and become a monopoly! Please help! We must stop Henry Ford before he takes over the world! We buggy makers must stick together to beat back this demon.

~~I’m truly fascinated that publishers are choosing to fight technological advances, rather than adapt to them to make their businesses safe and profitable well into the future. It’s so damned shortsighted. Their stubbornness will be their undoing, in the end. Only those willing to adjust in a way that’s fair to both authors and readers will survive.

~~Barnes and Noble is dead. They may still be kicking, but that’s just residual nerves and muscle twitches. The mega bookstore, know also as bookstaurus megalasaur, is extinct. And independents? They’re most likely going to survive as Joe’s Garage, Coffee Shop & Bookstore, or something like that. Stores dedicated solely to the sales of books are on the way out, lest they be high-end collectors’ shops.

~~So time for the publishers to wake up and smell Joe’s coffee. Stop kicking and screaming and clawing at the big bad Amazon, and offer consumers a fair alternative. Compete. Or die.

Anyone who thinks print books will remain the dominant format for readers for more than a few years down the road, should immediately visit their neurologist for an MRI… or their psychiatrist. The Star Trek-ification of America (and soon the world) is well under way. Kindergarteners are now getting tablets to read on in some districts, and today’s youth are accustomed to doing virtually everything online; reading eBooks will be second nature to them.

The traditional publishing model is simply no longer viable, but I suppose it’s no mystery that they are unwilling to go gently into that good night. The sad part is that they needn’t die; they need only evolve to accommodate the new market paradigm. I say this as someone who co-founded and now runs a hybrid small press publisher, Evolved Publishing.

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When we first formed EP, we did so with a couple of driving forces in mind: 1) Where is this market going in the next 10-15 years? 2) What sort of publisher would we want to affiliate with as authors?

The first question was critical for obvious reasons. We naturally wanted to form a business model that would make sense given the new market paradigm; we didn’t want to be obsolete in 5 years. The second question was critical because we viewed our primary competition not as traditional publishers–whom we fully expected, quite frankly, to self-destruct at some point–but rather the burgeoning self-publishing option.

And so we moved forward with a few key points in mind:

  • eBooks are the future of reading.
  • As happened in the music industry, everything would move to the internet.
  • Consumers would find new, cheap options, meaning pricing pressures would be a big part of our business.
  • Content would be king, meaning we had to attract quality independent authors who produce quality books.

First Bullet Point Above: Yes, we offer print books, but not via traditional typesetting. Rather, we offer high quality POD (Print-on-Demand) books to keep our overhead costs to a minimum, and to thereby offer both authors and readers the best possible deal.

Second Bullet Point Above: In addition to eBooks and POD paper books, we also offer audiobooks and foreign translations where it makes sense, and again, we keep overhead to an absolute minimum. Furthermore, we all work from home offices – no buildings, no high overhead related to those costs. We live in an electronic world – the internet age. The office building is simply not needed.

Third Bullet Point Above: Whoever it was in traditional publishing (and yes, they all colluded) that thought it was fair to consumers to price eBooks, for which the production costs are so low, higher than paperbacks, for which the production costs are so high, simply missed the boat. This is grossly unfair to consumers, and the backlash was inevitable. Now, there’s something to be said for the value of “content”–the author’s hard-fought battle to create the book, and all their blood, sweat, tears, and talent–and pricing an ebook with fair author consideration in mind. Still, the actual “production” costs are limited, and so the ultimate price should be almost entirely about content. At EP, almost all of our eBooks are priced at $2.99 to $4.99–only a few exceptions. You’ll never see an eBook from EP priced at $12.99 or $14.99. Ridiculous!

Fourth Bullet Point Above: We must have great content to offer readers. That means that our guiding philosophy at EP is absolutely critical: Quality is Priority #1! Every book must be written well, edited well, and presented (formatted) well. Period. Especially in the new wild wild wild wild wild wild west known as self-publishing, quality matters. The gatekeepers can still serve a valuable function for consumers, and we at Evolved Publishing seek to provide readers this simple assurance: if you purchase one of our books, you’ll get a professional product.

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Make no mistake about it, folks, traditional publishers set up their business model with only one thing in mind: themselves. Unless you end up being one of their mega-superstars, you can expect as an author to be treated with a certain amount of contempt and unfair financial consideration. Don’t get me wrong; as a business owner I understand the value of profit! We can’t stay in business without it. But fair is fair, and traditional publishers have abused most authors for far too long. Well, now that the market has evolved and authors have new options, and consumers have new options, traditional publishers are going to pay a dear price.

At Evolved Publishing, we recognized first and foremost that the authors are the stars of the show, not us. Without the extraordinary authors we’ve attracted to EP (too many to name here without leaving someone out), we would not be what we are. How do we attract them? For one, we pay them a fair, even attractive royalty rate. After all, they don’t have to publish with us; they can publish themselves. Second, we provide them with first-rate editing, excellent cover art & illustrations, and professional formatting. Third, we work to coordinate group marketing activities that are more about sweat and muscle than they are money invested. Finally, we give them an enjoyable team environment where we all interact and work with one another in a respectful and mutually beneficial way.

Why don’t traditional publishers do this? What is stopping them? Seriously, I’m not trying to give away any secrets here; I believe we have a lot to offer authors and I’m willing to stand by our reputation in the face of new competition. I just don’t get why traditional publishers still fail to understand what is required to treat their authors–ALL of their authors–well.

Look, it’s a tough marketplace out there; we can all be honest about that. For every writer that makes a living as an author, a thousand more must toil away at their day jobs while they pursue that dream. It’s tough! As a result, treating authors well, affording them the respect, dignity, and financial consideration they deserve, is more important than ever. Furthermore, giving them a place where they can inspire one another, cry on each other’s shoulders, commiserate and celebrate and motivate, is especially important. The days of leaving authors to drift alone in the wilderness is behind us, as publishers, because there’s now a name for that: self-publishing. Want to be relevant as a publisher? Here’s a crazy idea: service your clients!

Geez, I’m so sick and tired of the establishment clinging to their spoils as if they were the Gods of publishing, and the rest of us mere mortals created to do their bidding. But you know what? I’m also just about over it. Seriously, they don’t matter anymore. A new day has dawned.

If you’re an author looking for a home where you’ll be treated fairly, even if you’ve previously self-published to less than satisfying results, you should give Evolved Publishing a look. Just go to the website and surf around, and discover for yourself what we’re all about. Of course, you’ll eventually need to go to the Submissions Page.

If you’re a reader looking for quality books at a fair price, you need to stop by and check out our Catalog, because we have some seriously excellent books from some seriously talented authors. As an avid reader, you do yourself a disservice by not checking out some of the amazing works we have available.

I shall now step down from my soapbox. 🙂

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The Future of Publishing: How to Survive and Prosper as an Author outside the Big 6

Another guy with an opinion about this crazy industry. Yeesh!

[Revised/Reposted from original May 2, 2012 post at www.EvolvedPub.com]

As Publisher and Executive Editor at Evolved Publishing (linked above), I’m regularly asked by folks to weigh in on the state of our industry, so here goes. (Fair warning: you might want take that BRB and freshen up that cup of coffee before you continue.)

I spend a lot of time gazing into my crystal ball, opaque though it may be, to figure out what the future holds for us small fries trying to find our way in the mighty, mighty world of publishing. I’ve been doing that since long before my partner D.T. Conklin and I decided to open up shop as Evolved Publishing. Now, I must keep my finger on the pulse not just for myself, but for the fine and talented authors, editors, and artists who’ve joined our team – 15 authors, 7 editors, 7 artists, and more coming soon in every category. It’s early in our collective effort, but the train is gathering steam.

We offer an alternative to both traditional publishing, often referred to as The Big 6, and the self-publishing option – we offer a hybrid small press model. Since getting picked up by The Big 6 (assuming you would even want to given the current market dynamics) is akin to winning the lottery, I’m going to skip right past them and talk about the “indie” options: self-publishing, or a small press like us.

Self-publishing enjoyed a boost in credibility after the eBook revolution made it easier, even financially attractive, to self-publish rather than pursue traditional methods. Some reputable authors chose the self-pub route with fair success, and soon everyone followed suit. No… really… I mean everyone. Based on the 8.2 trillion blogs to which I subscribe, the comments left there, the social media buzz, and the latest gossip from my neighbor’s poodle, there are now approximately 4.3 billion self-published authors. Okay, maybe it only seems that way.

This David versus Goliath picture does not, as you might expect, represent us (upstart small press publisher) versus them (The Big 6). In fact, I intended it to represent them (self-pubbers) versus them (self-pubbers). Yep, individually, a self-pubber is the underdog, David. Collectively, they are the brute, Goliath.

As thousands upon thousands of self-pubbers flood the book markets with a tsunami of new material, authors and readers alike are shaking their heads and wondering, “What the devil is going on here?”

I’ll confess to something of a love/hate relationship with self-pubbers. I love their entrepreneurial spirit (for those who actually treat it like a business, which it is), their willingness to say, “Go spit!” to the train wreck that is traditional publishing (Hey, this is just me editorializing.), their daring attempt to walk the tightrope from which 99% plummet to their deaths. Yet I hate that such a high percentage of self-pubbers give short shrift to their profession, and publish substandard work.

I particularly love the self-pubbers who do it right: professional editing, professional covers, professional websites, professional self-promotion and marketing. Are you noticing a theme here? Unfortunately, even the professionals, given their self-publishing label, must suffer under the reputation driven mainly by the non-professionals. The early pioneers, and the traditional mid-listers who made the jump, have been able to defeat that reputation to some extent. The John Q. Nobodys lost in the sea of fellow John Q. Nobodys, however, have had less than stellar luck at combating the label.

Indeed, one of the reasons we formed Evolved Publishing in the first place, with an unwavering insistence that Job One = Quality, was that we didn’t want to be lumped in with people taking shortcuts. And let’s face it: a significant percentage of self-pubbers take shortcuts, and the people they probably hurt the most – aside from their selves, of course – are the self-pubbers doing it the right way… professionally.

Well, technically savvy book consumers are starting to figure all this out. They’re getting burned too often by $2.99 offerings, $0.99 offerings, even FREE offerings, and they’re getting frustrated. Yet what is an indie author to do?

The Fads

Well, we’ve learned a bunch in the past year, not the least of which is that last quarter’s brilliant idea is this quarter’s old news – and next quarter’s Dodo Bird.

It has always struck me as ironic that in an industry driven by highly creative individuals, the business aspect of the industry is one giant exercise in, “Hey, let’s do what that guy did.” Someone finds something that works, and then thousands – nay, tens of thousands – of people rush in to do the exact same thing.

We saw it with social media: Want to be a successful author? No worries. Just build a strong social platform and you’ll sell thousands of books.

We saw it with $0.99 pricing: Want to establish yourself as a mover and shaker in this marketplace? No worries. Just price your books at $0.99 and watch your career soar.

We saw it with Amazon’s KDP Select Free Days: Want to develop momentum for your book, and then sell thousands of copies afterward? No worries. Just put your book up for free for a day or two or five, and then watch your paid sales go through the roof. This is the newest fad, of course, and it started fading just four months in.

All of those tools remain viable components in our toolbox, but they no longer provide the “instant sure thing” they once did for some. Indeed, we’re now seeing that today’s big idea fizzles within a few months, overwhelmed by the rush of thousands of people chasing the same pot of gold, only to find that when they finally pursue the end of that rainbow, the sun has set.

Today’s ingenious marketing idea becomes little more than a fad. And fast.

Back to the Basics

Some things become increasingly clear every day:

  1. Quality Catalog: that simple concept drives the train. Without it, indie authors are sunk.
  2. Fads come and go, offering only short-term opportunities, but business fundamentals are forever.
  3. No one strikes it big with one book. Few do it with two books. It’s a long road. This business we call writing is a slow grind – always has been – and it requires hard work, determination, and more than a little perseverance.
  4. Quality Matters: this should be first, second and third on everyone’s list. Staying power requires an absolute commitment to quality.

We all got caught-up in the excitement of the eBook Revolution. We saw numbers by the early pioneers and thought, “Man, I want a piece of that!” Now, that excitement is winding down, people are coming back to reality, and the marketplace is reasserting itself.

Are there sufficient consumers to support 50,000 new authors? No. At least, not if we mean by “support” that authors earn a comfortable living as authors, or even a reasonable part-time income sufficient to the work that goes into it. Already, self-pubbers are seeing their sales numbers dwindle, and are increasingly complaining that they’re losing money, falling back into the old “Vanity Publishing” mode. Even some of the “stars” are experiencing declines of 40-50% during the most recent few months. Yes, summer is a bad season for books sales, but it’s more than that.

Indeed, even long-established pros have suffered the effects, dragged down by the entire market dynamic. The difference for them, of course, is their reputation, ready-made audience, and a staying power self-pubbers don’t have. As more consumers run away from self-pubbers, those old pros will be the first to benefit.

What does it all mean, and how do we counter it?

Frankly, we counter it by doing what we do, and by grinding it out for the long haul. We counter it by becoming those old pros.

Surviving the Mad Rush

The eBook Revolution encouraged a mad rush into the marketplace by newcomers. Hey, now it was easy and cheap – really cheap for those willing to compromise on quality, meaning the majority. The result? Writers first dumped hundreds, then thousands, then tens of thousands of substandard books into the marketplace, competing for a far-too-finite number of customers, selling for $2.99, then $0.99, and ultimately free, all in a desperate attempt to be that which they always dreamed of becoming: an author.

Yet those who succeed as authors have always been few – the true professionals producing high quality work – and despite the initial excitement of the eBook revolution, this will be true again.

If we are to be successful authors, we must continue to separate ourselves by providing books that aspire to and reach high professional standards. We must continue to write, each producing at least one book per year (two should be your goal, if you plan to do this for a living). We must continue to hone our craft, to learn, to keep our finger on the pulse of the industry we hope will support us. We must be professionals.

Reasonable Expectations

Part of that mad rush, of course, was the expectation that we were all immediately going to start selling thousands of books, making a mint, living the good life as authors. Well, now that we’ve all been dealt a dose of reality, we have an opportunity to take a deep breath, re-examine what we’re doing, and plan for the next positive steps.

Authors who make (net) even $5,000 their first year as authors are rarer than you might like to believe; nonetheless, it’s true even in the traditional publishing industry.

Most authors kick into second gear starting in year two, and then build speed through year three and beyond. This assumes, of course, that said author continues to produce good work. This is nothing new; it’s always been that way. The problem, if we may call it a problem, is that so many thought the eBook Revolution would change that, and bring us our riches more quickly.

Not so. It remains a “process.”

That’s one of the toughest things for writers to settle on: to stop worrying about what book one is doing, and get about the business of writing book two. Then, stop worrying about what book two is doing, and get about the business of writing book three. And so on.

In this age of instant gratification, and where most of us are accustomed to punching a clock or working on a regular salary, knowing precisely what’s coming in the next paycheck, it’s a hard thing to say, “Never mind that. Just get back to work.”

Yet history tells us that until you get book three to market, with each of the three a quality product, you’re probably not going to make a living as a writer. Even then, if you must fight to establish your reputation because of who’s publishing (or not publishing) your books, the odds are against you. It also tells us that when you hit that stride, achieving your “overnight” success, the whole of your catalog will rise at once. In other words, if book three or four is your magic bullet, books one and two will also sell better from that point on. The rising tide carries all boats.

So don’t obsess over the fact that you’re only selling a copy or two a day (or less) of your first book. Obsess over completing your second book, and then your third book, and so on. And those numbers will rise. It’s not magic. It’s just the business.

Investing in Your Field

I tread into this section with a warning: it may sound a bit preachy. Please bear with me.

As authors, we are all businesspeople. There’s no escaping that fact, so we must embrace it. That doesn’t mean you need to invest many thousands of dollars to get your career rolling. Indeed, I have my doubts about the potential payback of huge investments, if they don’t get you to your ultimate goal: quality catalog. No business survives for long that invests $2 in order to gross $1.

However, there are things we can all do that will make a difference in the end, and we should do some of those things sooner rather than later – a quality website, for example, with a blog that offers interesting, funny, poignant, or informative content (all of the above is a dream come true). Do you need a bunch of bells and whistles? Well, that would be nice, but so long as it’s functional, clean and professional, it’ll do. If you can do more, you should.

Learn your craft. This is a profession, like so many others, that requires a continuing education. The moment you stop growing as an author, you start dying as an author. I’ve been studying this crazy craft for 35 years, and every time I learn something new, I realize I have much more to learn. Read about writing; not only for the instruction, but for the motivation. I’ve read some 90 books on the subject, and untold thousands of articles, and any time I feel I’m slipping into a rut, I search for another piece to help pull me out of it. I love these books for the way they re-energize me and kick me in the keester.

My only advice here is that you choose your sources carefully. Just because someone has published a book (let’s face it; anyone can do that nowadays), doesn’t mean they’re an expert. Follow recommendations and trusted sources. Of the thousands of blogs out there, for example, many are valuable, many are confused, and many are just plain wrong. You would do well to start at a place like Writer’s Digest Books. I could also make any number of recommendations, as I do right here at this website (lower right margin of Home page).

Read your genre, of course, but reach beyond that. Stretch your wings and fly through some other genres. Don’t skip the classics. You’ll learn a lot.

There! That wasn’t too preachy, was it? I just wanted to emphasize here that part of being a professional businessperson is keeping your finger on the pulse of your industry, and being an expert in your field. Doctors do it. Lawyers do it. Accountants do it. Well… you’re an Author, so just do it.

The Long Road

The market is undergoing some rather severe adjustments. Frankly, many self-published authors are feeling the terrible squeeze. How do I know? Well, lots of them are blogging and commenting about it, of course, but more than that, several of them have recently inquired about joining Evolved Publishing.

Indeed, we’ve temporarily closed to submissions because we’re growing so fast that we need time to catch up, organizationally. (NOTE: We’ll likely start accepting submissions again in mid-October.) Will all those authors be great fits for us? No, but a few will, and new authors are inquiring with far greater frequency nowadays – most of them the aforementioned previously self-published. Indeed, three of our four most recent author additions fit into that category, and it’s likely that a high percentage of our next several additions will, too.

It’s not surprising, really; after all, we formed Evolved Publishing precisely because we dreaded going down that self-publishing road, fearing where it would lead.

We must all be realistic about the hard work, dedication, and patience required to succeed in this business. Historically, 94% of “published” authors fail and drop out (or resume their day job), and 99.8% of “self-published” authors fail. Even in the face of that, and although it’s impossible to provide guarantees in this business, I remain guardedly optimistic. The marketplace is trying to sort itself out right now, suffering the shock of that tsunami of new authors and books. Over the next year or two, it will find its equilibrium, and authors who’ve developed a strong reputation for quality work, and built their catalog, will be poised to prosper where others fail.

More self-publishers will be dying off over the next couple years, as they fail to make any money, and decide that being a Vanity Publisher isn’t worth the time, energy, money, or heartbreak. I say that not with glee, for I wish sad tidings for no one. I say it merely to indicate what’s happening in the marketplace.

The technological bubble that is the eBook Revolution is about to burst, because, like all economic bubbles before it, it grew too fast, too big, too out of control, and with no regard for natural market forces. It’s already starting. That’s not to say there won’t continue to be excellent opportunities for those who survive. Indeed, I think there will be fantastic opportunities.

First, however, the market must shake off the rapid excesses that have formed. Then consumers will do what they’ve always done: they’ll find the true values, “value” being a variable ratio of quality-to-price (Value = Quality:Price).

Want to survive and prosper on this long road? Then give book buyers the value they demand for their hard-earned entertainment dollars.

We at Evolved Publishing happen to believe that a well-coordinated team is likely to give us a better chance at success than trying to go it on our own. However, even if you choose to be that bold, daring entrepreneur blazing your own trail, just keep your eye on the prize, and remember that you must be the one thing too many in this business fail to be: professional. Then… write! And write some more. And never, NEVER compromise on quality.

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My Take on the Indie Publishing Industry

Today, I put on my hat as Publisher and Executive Editor at Evolved Publishing, and posted a rather lengthy piece on the state of our industry, and how aspiring authors, or emerging authors, or floundering authors, can still make a go of this business. Come on over and take a look.

It’s not all kittens and roses, but it’s an honest assessment.

The Future of Publishing: How to Survive and Prosper as an Indie

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Podcaster Timothy C. Ward Interviews Lane Diamond and D.T. Conklin of Evolved Publishing – Part 2

This is the second in a 2-part interview series by podcaster and aspiring author Timothy C. Ward, who was kind enough to sit down and talk to us about our business, about our authors and books, about why we do what we do.

I think this one is a little more about me as author and editor, and about my novel, Forgive Me, Alex.

We sure appreciate Tim’s taking the time give us this opportunity, and I hope you’ll stop by and enjoy our conversation.

AudioTim 26: Lane Diamond, Author of Forgive Me, Alex

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Podcaster Timothy C. Ward Interviews Lane Diamond and D.T. Conklin of Evolved Publishing

Podcaster and aspiring author Timothy C. Ward was kind enough to sit down and talk to us about our business, about our authors and books, about why we do what we do.

We sure appreciate Tim’s taking the time give us this opportunity, and I hope you’ll stop by and enjoy our conversation.

AudioTim 24: Lane Diamond and D.T. Conklin of Evolved Publishing

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Quality Matters

As we’re kicking off our Evolved Publishing effort, I’ve been interested–and confused, and frustrated, and saddened–by several online discussions about the need for, and efficacy of, independent editing of an author’s manuscript.

As Kristine Rusch so often states (you should be following her KrisWrites blog, by the way), self-published authors need to think more like independent businesspeople—because that’s what we are.

Certain universal rules apply to business, and here’s one of the biggies: VALUE sells. The variable equation for VALUE, assuming a constant need or desire, is a simple Quality:Price ratio.  The first variable in that equation is… well, the first part.  Fail there, and the second part becomes irrelevant.

No matter how attractive your price, you, Dear Seller, will not persuade most potential buyers if your quality has not met at least minimum standards in a past sale, or if you’ve established a reputation for poor quality.

This applies when you sell a car, a refrigerator, a pair of shoes… or a book.

Sure, you may get customers to buy your product once, but disappoint them on your quality obligation, and those customers will never buy your product again.  Authors make a living when they generate positive word-of-mouth and a steady stream of loyal book buyers (repeat customers).  Fail to deliver quality, and your business is finished almost before it begins.

Many self-published authors say, “But I just can’t afford an editor.”  Most such authors doom themselves to failure.  Listen, if you, as an aspiring author, have no money to pay an editor the full fee up front, then work with them on a smaller up-front fee + commission basis, or on a larger, straight commission basis.  Get creative, but be prepared to be generous to an editor (or cover artist, or anyone else who assists you on a commission basis) who is willing to assume that risk.  And make no mistake: they’re taking a big gamble.  If your piece doesn’t sell well, they just worked for nothing.

The evolutionary state of the publishing industry offers many challenges, to be sure, but also many opportunities.  Be creative in your approach.  Come on, you’re a writer, an artist!  Draw on all that creativity when approaching the business aspect of your writing career.  Don’t take the easy, cheap, lazy (or all of the above) way out.  Don’t doom yourself to failure.

Do you need an editor for your book?  Yes.  Every writer needs an independent, objective pair of eyes to weed out their nasty little habits, those recurring bugaboos to which we’re psychologically blinded, even if we think we know what we’re doing.

Resist this temptation: “Hey, I’m a good writer.  I’ve studied.  I’ve learned.  I can do it on my own.”

Your book will be the worse for it.  I promise.

No business survives for long that does not offer VALUE (Quality:Price).  A robust quality assurance program is essential to all businesses, and your business as a writer is not unique, not immune to that requirement.

We at Evolved Publishing are trying to work as a team, an authors’ cooperative, to assure first ourselves, and ultimately our readers, that we have produced a high quality, professional product.  Perhaps we’re a good fit for you.  Perhaps not.

But please… don’t dash your dreams on the rocks by clinging to the stubborn insistence that you can do it all on your own.  A well-coordinated team always outperforms the individual.  Always.

And quality matters.  Always.  Especially when you’re competing as a raindrop in a hurricane of options.

http://www.EvolvedPub.com/

‘Til next time, and as always, remember: To write well, you must work hard.  To succeed in this tough gig, you mustn’t be lazy (or discouraged).

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