Friday, December 28, 2012

The Business of Publishing

What do I really know about business? Nothing really, just the logic of following the money. My first book was published through AuthorHouse - they are a subsidy publisher. Until recently, I always concentrated on the 'publisher' part of that label, and that was further helped by the 'Author' in the company title. Recently, I learned that I may have been grossly mistaken in my assumption. I never really could understand why they never did any advertising. I mean, they already had this awesomely long list of email contacts, all they needed to do was send out a monthly newsletter, but that's not what AuthorHouse concentrates on; they are merely a service agency.

Five years ago, I paid them nearly $12,500 for my book. I knew from the start I was going to have trouble promoting so $4,000 of that was for the best advertising valet (that's how they promoted it on my contract) AuthorHouse had to offer. For my mega$$$, I got a single mass email notification to all the people on their awesome list - yeah, I said single. To her credit, she also turned me on to Facebook and Twitter, but she did nothing else to help me get my book sold.

Am I being strange when I expect some sort of results for my $4,000?

Logic tells me to follow the money. They do it on TV all the time. Want to solve a crime? Follow the money. So, for $12,500 I got a cover (I recently paid $100 for a cover), I got a copyright number (I got one for free a while back), I got an ISBN number (I found a place where I could get one for like $50), My book was edited (yeah okay, that one costs a bit - my editor would do this book for $1,119.34 as it stands today), and my finished document was converted to a publishable gallery pdf. So, for all that, my $12,500 was a bit pricy, but it's the $4,000 price-tag I'm having such an issue with.

$4,000 for sending out a single mass email - the rest I got only because I got no results from that email so I called and complained, only then did she suggest Facebook and Twitter. She didn't tell me what to do with those sites; I had to figure all that out myself.

Why am I complaining about a five-year-old business decision? Recently, AuthorhHouse contacted me - they do that from time to time - about once a year or so - My new advertising 'valet' wanted to tell me all about this new thing he had to offer me. AND he was offering it to me for the discounted price of only $7000. Since I have already invested $12,500 into my book, for only and additional $7000, he would guarantee my book would be read by no less than five agents. Did you catch that incredible offer? He was going to guarantee that five agents would read my book - that's all. Well, actually that's not all for the $7000, but that was all when it comes to the agents. There's no way anyone can guarantee that an agent will take me on and promote my book to a big publishing house.
I would also get:
1 - A professional query letter writer would write up the query to those agents.
2 - I would get a one-time listing in two of the biggest book distributor's catalogs (one of them is Ingram where I should already be listed).
3 - I would get a single multi-author slot on the New York Times Sunday Book Review (I just looked them up and didn't see much there from AuthorHouse. Don't get me wrong, there were some listings, just not much, and I had to do a word search to find it)
4 - I would get a radio interview by Stu Taylor (I'm really bad with names so I don't know who this guy is). His radio programs are Equity Strategies on the Business Talk Radio Network, Equity Strategies (a different show) on the Radio America Network, and Stu Taylor on Business aired in Boston. Hmmmm Maybe he does a regular author interview thing, but I certainly never listen to those kinds of programs, though I suppose a lot of people do.

Now, I know advertising costs money, and sadly I just don't have any money to spend. However, the way I see it, if you're going to invest money in an advertising company, it is reasonable to expect some kind of return on your investment. A total of 21 books were sold through AuthorHouse during the five years of my book's life. 20 of those books were bought by my sister when I sent her the link after it was finished and available; she bought them for Christmas presents that first year (2008). Outside of that, despite all my advertising, AuthorHouse sold no more books of mine - 0 sales - whereas 69 books were sold from probably Amazon, but my statements don't specify. Now I didn't have internet until 2010, so other than those first 21 books, only one other book was sold before 2010. From then until now 13 more books were sold.

Early this last spring, AuthorHouse released my book as an eBook (without informing me, but that's minor). Also early this last spring, I had another book come out through Bucks Country Publishing with a much better cover, if I do say so myself. My second book was a pretty good hit, though sales were mostly eBooks. Since I also advertise my Amazon Author page where both books are listed, I believe people who liked my second book decided they could afford the $3.03 for my first book in eBook format. 38 of those sold during the last quarter, and not through AuthorHouse.

Follow my logic. Do you think AuthorHouse has shown me enough return for my $4,000 in advertising to warrant another $7000 investment, whatever they offer? I don't. The offer is good, the plan is good, but the price is simply too much - I can't afford it anyway. The guy I talked to kept saying that it wasn't the money, that it had nothing to do with what I'd already paid, and that advertising costs money (I'm paraphrasing), but all I can do is follow the money. I paid them $4,000 specifically for advertising and over the last five years they made me just a little over $40. Or we could look at it this way; if I pay myself a round figure of $2 per book (I get less than that for sales through Amazon, and I get a little over $1 for an eBook) and include ALL sales, I made $180 over the last five years. Break it down and that means I pay them $22 so I can make $1. In case you hadn't guessed yet. I'm firing this advertising agency. Wouldn't you?

Friday, December 21, 2012

Life is a Circle

In the newness of our time, we swim
In the first quarter of our time, we crawl
In the fullness of our time, we walk
In the last quarter of our time, we rest
Life is a circle
We rest, that we might remember how to swim

Death walks at our shoulder
He reaches for some of us sooner than others
The touch of Death can be a quick slap
The touch of Death can be a slow caress
Life is a circle
Rest, ye weary soldiers that you might remember how to swim

God is our Lord
His plans for us are a complicated weave
In His wisdom, He plucks one from here that He may place one there
Sometimes the thread of our life needs must be short and sometimes long
Life is a circle
Swim the long strokes that your next thread will hold God's weave

In the dawn of our time, we curl in the security of our womb
In the morning of our time, we learn to laugh and cry at our world
In the noon of our time, we learn to rile and rage at our life
In the evening of our time, our touch has been felt
Life is a circle

 It is time for us to teach the young to laugh
It is time to shed a tear for all those we have lost
We shed a tear so that we may remember how to swim
For without tears, there is no swimming

By Anna L. Walls

Friday, December 14, 2012

One Foot in Front of Another

Most days lately, I have a chunk of the day between when my computer's battery runs out and when we start the generator, to read whatever books I have around here. Some of those books I've received from fellow authors most of whom I met on Facebook. Most are books that have been around here for a while. I just don't get to a bookstore very often. One thing I've noticed in nearly all of them is the varying degrees of attention to one important detail. You wouldn't think it's all that important, but if you ask me, it's one of those subliminal things that can really trip us up if we're not careful.

What am I talking about?

The order of events. No matter what kind of events you want to talk about, it's vital they happen in order. Just try to picture yourself walking across the living-room putting your front foot in front of your back foot - that might be fine for the very first step, but it will certainly hang you up by your heels if you try to do that with any following steps. Last time I checked, to make it across the room, the back foot needed to go in front of the front foot in order to make progress across the room.

This order applies to nearly everything we do. Words are strung along in a particular order as dictated by the language you speak, but there are many things you might not be so aware of that also follow an order. You notice, see, and look at things all in something of an order too. First you notice something, say, out of the corner of your eye, then you turn your head to locate it, and then you actually look at whatever it is, and maybe study it in detail, if it's interesting enough, not that every step needs to be included, but you just can't study some object and then notice it a few moments later.

Okay, so I'm getting just a little too obvious in my examples, but I'm hoping you are getting my point. At the moment, I'm reading a book where the writer has a very coiling style to the way he tells his story. It's all good; as his characters go round and round in their path through the story, they are moving forward, but everything they do or think is generally hashed out in one manner or another at least once or twice before the actual action takes place. It's not quite repetition, something I advise against if I have the opportunity, and yet it is. His story line is more like a spring someone has flattened out across a table. To help you visualize this, lets take a spring from your mattress and then drive the car over it, and lets assume the spring remains flat after the car has gone on. This style took some getting used to, but the story is one I'd read again so it's pretty good. However, if his style was slightly less coiled, the book would be less than 725 pages long.

Why do I mention this book if I'm not going to review it?

Because of his coiling style, he sometimes gets his order of events - whatever they are - kinda turned around. I've only noticed it a handful of times, so he's pretty good at keeping things in order, but it did trip me up a time or two, and made me go back and read a passage through again. Yeah, I'll do that sometimes, if something gives me an unexpected swing. So, my advice to all you budding authors out there, pay attention to the order of events. Even things that don't seem to matter, can end up making a difference to the overall picture.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Meet S.M. Boyce

Blurb: Ourea has always been a deadly place. The lichgates tying the hidden world to Earth keep its creatures at bay—for now.

Kara Magari ignited a war when she stumbled into Ourea and found the Grimoire: a powerful artifact filled with secrets. To protect the one person she has left, she strikes a deal that goes against everything she believes in. But things don’t go as planned.

Braeden Drakonin can no longer run from who—and what—he is. He has to face the facts. He’s a prince. He’s a murderer. He’s a wanted man. And after a betrayal that leaves him heartbroken, he’s out for blood.

To survive, both Kara and Braeden must become the evil each has grown to hate.

Meet S.M. Boyce: Boyce is a fantasy and paranormal fiction author who likes sarcasm and cookies. By all means check out her author page on Amazon, and on Barns and Noble.

In her own words...

Anything that’s worth doing is a little scary. It’s a little intimidating. It’s a challenge, but it’s worth it in the end for whatever reason.

That’s been my experience in the publishing world. For me, being a career author was my dream, and now I’m living it.

I never thought writing the book would be the easy part, yet here I am: two years of platform-building, six years of plot design and world building, and a host of blurred successes and mistakes later, I’m published. I’ve been a published author since October 15, 2011. And it’s awesome.

It’s no cakewalk, either. I’ve made plenty of mistakes, mishandled a few email correspondences, and lost followers. But I’ve also gained invaluable contacts in the publishing industry, sold novels to complete strangers, reached the Amazon Top 100, and even designed a blog exclusively for authors to discuss the technical aspects of our craft (Boyce’s Guide to Writing). I’ve inspired others, I’ve been inspired by others, and I’ve pushed through.

The tricky part when it comes to writing a book is that there’s no right way to do it. There’s no guaranteed way to market yourself and no right way to find followers. There’s plenty of wrong ways to do it, but there’s no set right way. If you want to take a look at my thought process, feel free to check out my writing and editing process and the timeline to publication. Hope those posts help, but we ultimately all do it a little differently. The trick is to find your way.

Bottom line, though, is that success as an author isn’t possible without the fantastic people who read my books. The authors, bloggers, and readers who have reached out to say hi make my day every time. So thank you for reading my books, for reaching out, and for being awesome.

A little hope for the road [by S.M. Boyce]

With the holidays fast approaching and the cold already here, I wanted to give you a little hope to help you through scraping the ice off your front windshield.

It's easy to lose hope, especially in the winter: it's dark most of the time and cold all day long. It's easy to forget how wonderful you are, or what you bring to the table. I think we all push ourselves too hard nowadays--we're striving to achieve, to be better, to succeed in something before we die. We sometimes lose track of the why. Why bother?

It's in those spiraling moments that we need a trampoline--something bouncy and a little soft. Sometimes, we're just not strong enough on our own to remember what makes life so beautiful, or precious, or funny as all hell. So we need some help.

The trampoline can be a person. It can be the teddy bear no one knows you still have. It can be a solo hike through a forest, or an hour spent looking at adorable pictures of cats. It can be an evening laughing over dinner with a good friend.

Trampolines--and the hope that comes with them--are everywhere.

I'm analytical. So when I'm low, I write a list. It's just for me. It's a list of everything I'm good at doing. Things I know I can do well. It ranges from the big to the small, and it's just for me. I'm not allowed to be modest when I write it, because that can turn into self-deprecation that makes me start to spiral again. But here's the truth: we're all amazing at something. A lot of us are amazing at several somethings, and it's easy to forget. It's easy to lose hope in ourselves and forget to love who and what we are. And if we can't love ourselves, we can't love anyone.

Treat yourself today, whether you're low or not. Write a list of everything you can do well, whether you have a sweet laugh or can pick up socks with your toes. You don't have to be the best in the world at it, but you're good. Works for me. Write it down.

There's always hope. Sometimes we just need help remembering where we left it. Hold on tight. You'll get through the low spots. And love yourself, damn it. You're awesome.