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Thursday, March 24, 2011
The big publishing world is imploding, while independent publishing is exploding.
Major-Publishing-House Authors are turning down $500,000 advances and deciding to self-publish while Big Publishers are scrambling to launch self-publishing divisions.
The Emperors’ New Imprints
A few weeks ago Berrett-Koehler got in line with Writer's Digest, Hay House, Harlequin, and Thomas Nelson and began using megalith pay-for-publishing service machine Author Solutions to start their own "Self-Publishing Imprint." The reality is, like with all of the other middleman companies, it's not true self-publishing, and not very transparent. Much on their "services" charts seems over-priced and preying on the false hopes of writers while padding their own pockets. I'm sure AS is a fine company (they also recently purchased AuthorHouse, iUniverse, Trafford, Xlibrius, and Wordclay) but I think this new hybrid of major-publisher-self-pub-division is giving writers one more confusing option.
True Transparent Self Publishing
Putting your company's name and logo on the spine, getting paid directly by the distributor, ordering books direct from the printer at cost, having your own eBook accounts with Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords -- that's transparent, going straight to the source.
This week M.J.Rose wrote, "Self-publishing still entails many things many of us aren’t interested in. We would rather not run a business. Don’t want to be entrepreneurs. We want the best that a publisher offers."
I thought, Wow, that’s the Wyatt-MacKenzie Imprint Program...
An Imprint of Your OWN
I agree completely with Ms. Rose, she succinctly gave the reason for launching my Imprint Program four years ago. After consulting with authors for a decade, and traditionally publishing authors myself -- my Imprint Program was the perfect synthesis of the two and embodied transparency.
No, we don't have a fancy chart comparing our "packages" (which I seem to be asked a lot about lately, "Where's your chart?"). We include it all and more. We're we'll-do-it-for-you consultants, not middlemen. We love helping writers make beautiful books, and we use our hard-won experience as an independent publisher to teach them the best way to do...everything.
Our Program helps you establish an imprint of your very own. You are only under our umbrella, but still have complete control, forever. We help you launch your own independent press without all the "hassles" of the "publishing stuff."
Barry Eisler: (recently turned down a half-million dollar publishing deal to self-publish) "And that the question -- “Should I self-publish?” -- was going to be asked by more and more authors going forward. And that, over time, more and more of them were going to be answering the question, “Yes.”
YES! You can publish yourself...
But, here are 12 important items (in my worn-out-publisher opinion) you should have (even if you go straight to eBook!):
1. Your Own Account with Distributors. LightningSource for on-demand international distribution of printed books to all online retailers and special-order through brick-and-mortar bookstores. (This empowers you to get paid 100% of sales directly, check sales anytime, and order books at cost.) Kindle, Nook and even Smashwords for eBooks. (And understand what is required for formatting and selling eBooks, including Apple iBooks, as well as audiobooks through Audible.com).
2. YOUR publishing company name and logo on the spine and title page not a paid-service company or division.
3. Professional Editing, Copy-Editing and Proofreading (at whatever level is needed).
4. Professional Cover Design -- that can compete in the market and builds your author brand, including a savvy back cover and compelling spine.
5. Professional Interior Layout -- with brand positioning in mind, and assistance with all necessary registrations and copyright page inclusions (ISBN, LCCN, BIP, CIP) plus organization of frontmatter, backmatter, and indexing.
6. A Marketing Plan that starts with setting the publication date (and knowing what considerations that entails) and includes advance review copies for endorsements, industry reviews (know which can be paid for, and the actual cost), and to fulfill the media schedule month to month. Including the creation and distribution of a press release to a massive audience through PRWeb at cost, and listings in catalogs at cost.
7. Book Industry Cliff-Notes -- an understanding of how the book industry works, distribution, what it means to be on a bookstore shelf, how to interact with booksellers, and a general knowledge of purchase orders and the ease of personal order fulfillment using LightningSource.
8. A Publicity Education -- how to pitch, what to pitch, when to pitch, why to pitch, and how to find who to pitch -- to get yourself in the media. (Before wasting thousands of dollars on a publicist or a conference, know how to get it for free, the way publicity is meant to be.)
9. A Media Kit -- to back-up pitches (both online and print), complete with a press release, sell sheet, author Q and A, speaking points, author bio and photo, book cover and back cover art, excerpts, and video.
10. A Social Media Presence -- with consistent visuals, and a comprehensive strategy for using twitter, creating a facebook author page, use of blogging, a video youtube channel, and book-community sites. This should extend to a dynamic Amazon listing with an author central page and killer Amazon reviews and a "Search Inside" option if you so choose.
11. Marketing Items -- all custom to match everything else you are doing: bookmarks, business cards and/or postcards emblazon with your social media links; (the printing of which can be done for $15-$30 for 1000 items, don’t let those author services charts fool you.); posters and big banners for events and visibility; plus creative s.w.a.g. (t-shirts, hats, mugs) and strategies to use effectively; as well as beautifully designed print and banner ads along with where to successfully run them.
12. Alternative Editions -- understanding the options and opportunities, including eBooks and audiobooks, alternative formats, licensing, private-labeling, large quantity sales, catalogs, book clubs, foreign rights, translations.
* * *
All of the above is included, with special care and attention to our authors, in our Imprint Program with the exception of editing and indexing (our team members will provide direct quotes), or the cost of paid reviews, ads, or printing of marketing items (but we'll get you all set up directly, and save you hundreds of dollars.)
There are many publishing options facing writers -- some will feel more comfortable with a large corporation acting as a middleman forever, while others will want to take control with true self-publishing and position themselves safely for the future of this publishing explosion.
I'll leave you with two webinars I listened to this month:
- DigitalBookWorld.com presented "The Evolution of Self-Publishing"
- Writer's Digest presented "The Borders Dilemma, What the New World Order of Bookselling Means for Writers" [click to download]
I personally liked this comment I heard from Publisher's Weekly:
“[In the past] we drew lines in the sand of the hierarchy of publishing. The lines have blurred. Self-published books are getting better-looking, it's hard to tell. How do we deal with self-published authors? We adapt.”