Tag Archives: Indie

Indie Books are the Best Christmas Presents

Indie Books are the Best Christmas Presents

By Rebecca Besser

You’ll see many of us authors offering up our books as great Christmas gifts. And I know when you see us doing it, you’re thinking that you don’t know if the person you’re thinking about giving the book to will like it. So, I thought I’d write this article to help you pick the right book for the reader on your Christmas list!

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Reason #1 to give an Indie Authors’ book to the reader on your list is that they aren’t likely to already have the book.

Why? Does the book suck? No. Most Indie Authors are either new authors or authors that have been around for a couple years, but aren’t well-known yet. They generally have some really cool, interesting books that aren’t popular to the masses. This means that their writing and books haven’t reached that many hands yet. Usually each Indie Author has a small to medium pool of loyal readers, but they aren’t usually more than a couple hundred to a couple thousand of the millions of people on planet Earth. That’s not for a lack of trying or even because of low quality work, or anything like that. It’s just hard to get people to pay attention to your book that isn’t in a brick-and-mortar book store or on the shelf at the local grab-all store. They are, however, plentiful in online markets like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, etc. You can find a lot of ebooks and paperbacks from marginally well-known Indie Authors at those outlets.

Reason #2 to give an Indie Authors’ book to the reader on your list is that you’ll introduce them to a new author.

I know you’re thinking that new authors can be scary or uncertain. I mean, what if the person you buy the book for doesn’t like it? There are a few ways to kill that uncertainty and make you a great book gift giver.

If you know who the person’s favorite author(s) is, you are in for easy shopping. Find out what genre that author writes and then look for books in the same genre; it’s really easy to do on Amazon. Why Amazon? Because after you’ve found the genre you want (which is fairly easy on that site), you can then use the “Look Inside” feature to read the first couple chapters of the book to check for quality of writing. You can also read through the reviews left by people who have already read the book. (Note: When dealing with a lot of reviews, throw out the best review and the worst review and focus on the middle reviews. This is where you find the most truth. If most reviews are negative, pass on that book. Also note when the book was released. Sometimes newly released books have less reviews because people haven’t finished reading the title yet, so newer books may still be really good, but have less reviews. Then look at the quality of the reviews overall.) Once you’ve narrowed down a couple of titles, check out other books by that author to see if their other books are getting decent reviews. That should give you a good idea of what authors are worth checking into further.

Once you’ve found a couple of authors, check out all their books to see if they have a series, because if you decide to buy something buy that author as a gift, you don’t want to give the book that is in the middle of a series, you’ll want to start with book one. You’ll also want to see if the author has other books that will appeal to the person you have in mind, or a book you didn’t know about that might be liked more than the one(s) you’ve already researched.

Reason #3 to give an Indie Authors’ book to the reader on your list is that the storyline will more than likely be more original than mass market books.

Originality is a big thing with Indie Authors. Sometimes the reason an author is an Indie Author is because they can’t find a mass market press that’s publishing their subject matter. It is often because Indie Authors are trying to create something new in their genre of choice.

Usually this is true. I say usually because there are some writers who don’t have original ideas and just try to copy someone else’s story. Unfortunately, this happens all the time. So all that stuff you went through checking out authors in reason #2 comes in handy.

From reading the first chapter or so of a book with Amazon’s “Look Inside” feature, you should have a decent idea of whether the book is boring and unoriginal. The summary of the book will as well.

General rule, look for subject matter you haven’t seen much of before. Or something you have heard of before that’s looked at in a different way, or expressed from a different angle.

Reason #4 to give an Indie Authors’ book to the reader on your list is because you can often get a signed copy of the book by contacting the author directly.

Unlike mass market authors that don’t have any contact information easily found anywhere, Indie Authors have blogs, Facebook pages, and are easily found on social media or through their website. Often, if you contact them through one of these channels and ask to buy a signed copy of the authors’ work, they’re more than happy to provide that option.

This allows you to get a customized gift for the reader on your shopping list. You can have the book signed to them. Not only did you give them a book, but you gave them something special and personalized! That’s usually a huge thing for presents.

Reason #5 to give an Indie Authors’ book to the reader on your list is that you don’t have to give it to them directly.

That might seem confusing, but let me explain. Say you do all the research I suggested in reason #2 and you find a bunch of books you think the person might like. At that point you might be unsure of what to get and that’s understandable. There are a lot of options and you want to be a great gifter.

So, here’s how you can be a great gifter without actually giving a specific book: make a list of the authors and books you found that you think the reader would like and give them the list with a gift card!

This is a great option for a reader that has an e-reader. Why? Because they can get a few of the books you suggest instead of one. They will more than likely at least look into the Indie Authors you suggested. And, possibly, they could grab a paperback from one of the authors they already like and maybe an ebook from a new-to-them author from the list.

That makes the giving of a gift card personalized and it still gives them options, if you’re unsure.

Reason #6 to give an Indie Authors’ book to the reader on your list is that you’re helping out an author, not feeding the big publisher machine.

If you’re someone who likes to buy from local, privately owned shops, stores, or businesses, that’s what Indie Authors are in the publishing world. Most of the time, Indie Authors are making little to nothing off their work because they aren’t well-known by the masses. That’s right, not all authors are making big money. A lot of them have full-time day jobs, most of them have families, and a few depend on their writing to support those families if they’re lucky enough to make what they need.

What am I saying? You would be making a purchase that matters to a person. The sales Indie Authors get are a big deal. They are truly, deeply appreciated. So, not only are you buying a book that someone you love might enjoy, you’re helping support small business. You’re helping people and families.

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I hope this article has explained how and why to buy the reader on your Christmas list an Indie Authors’ book, and I hope if that reader enjoys dark fiction (zombies, creatures, horror, thrillers, suspence) that you’ll check me out as one of the authors you’d like to gift to that reader.

You can find me and my titles on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/Rebecca-Besser/e/B004V3IIC4/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1480606749&sr=8-1

If you have any questions about my books, please feel free to contact me (I have a few on-hand I can sign):

Rebeccabesser.com

Rebeccabesser.wordpress.com

Twitter & Instagram: @BeccaBesser

Facebook: Author/Editor Rebecca Besser

 

©Rebecca Besser, 2016. All rights reserved.

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It’s Business – Leave Emotion at the Door

Recently I’ve been disgusted with the small/indie press scene. It’s clouded with people who are running businesses that know nothing about running a business. For me, it’s painful to watch and experience.

I’ve pretty much stayed out of the Permuted Press “scandal” except to share information so authors who were thinking of submitting to them in the future could make an informed decision. I haven’t stated what I actually thought… So, here goes.

Note: I’m using PP as an example because it’s current and relevant. The way they handled things leaves a lot to be desired and could have been easily avoided. Plus, they were supposed to be one of the “better” medium to large indie presses for the apoc/horror genre.

They handled everything badly and in the wrong way. Firstly, as a “professional business” with their reputation, they should have been wiser about their acquiring and release scale/schedule. Supposedly the people that work there are familiar with the publishing world and how it works – they sure as hell didn’t show that in any way. If they wanted to grow, they should have started acquiring at a smaller scale and slowly (over maybe 3-5 years) increased their releases by a few books each year. This would have given them time to release each book properly for quality and marketing, and for them to start making their money back on the books they’d invested in. What they did, throwing books out right and left without even notifying some of their authors of release was just downright stupid sloppiness.

And, as far as the “option” for ebooks only they exercised in their contracts…they could have handled that entire situation better. It’s all in the wording and how you present things to authors that matter. Say something the wrong way and you’ll be hated forever. Be strategic and calm, in a way that makes sense and they’ll continue to follow even if they don’t entirely agree. Authors are passionate about their work; it’s part of them, in a way. It’s easy to get them upset if they feel like you’re treating them unfairly. And keep in mind, most authors don’t understand contracts completely and get overly excited and agree to things they shouldn’t, which is also prominent in the PP scandal. Authors were promised things, but those things weren’t delivered because the contracts said differently. Emotions played too much into the signing of many contracts (I believe), and is why so many authors got so upset.

Instead of springing the information on the authors a couple months in advance that after a certain date all titles will be released as an ebook until a certain amount of time (like 6-12 months) has passed, or a certain number of sales, and then the paperback will be released, PP just up and announced all of a sudden that they would only be doing ebooks unless the title was a bestseller. They basically sprung it on their authors from nowhere. Some didn’t receive an email at all and found out about what was going on via social media (epic business fail there, PP). They also said they would retain all the print rights whether they decided to use them or not, which, according to the contract the authors signed, they have the right to do, since PP took all rights.

The entire “ebook only” decision was based on the excuse that POD books cost the company too much. Just an FYI, paperbacks were to be print-on-demand, so it’s not that much of an investment from the publishing company. It’s not like they were printing 10,000 copies that were sitting around somewhere. The most cost you have on POD as a publisher is time in re-formatting the cover and inside of the book, plus the ISBN cost. That’s pretty much it. While it’s not a big deal, it would cost a lot to do all this for around 100 books versus the around 20 they’d been used to. Their eyes were bigger than their stomachs, and the business’ management is a joke.

I had a multi-book offer from PP at the end of last year, beginning of this year. I walked away from it because they wouldn’t negotiate with me for what I wanted. I never even made it to the contract phase, and I know I wouldn’t have agree to their terms, so I’m glad I didn’t waste my time or theirs. Now, I’m glad I was smart about things. I had talked to four literary agents about the deal I’d been offered (via email and on the phone). They all told me what I should have been getting, that I wasn’t being offered money wise. All of them told me to walk away unless the deal improved. I’m aware that most authors don’t have the opportunity to have the guidance I had when considering a contract/book deal. I wish they did.

I’ve had another issue with an indie press recently that really has my faith in indie presses shaken. I had signed on with a small press that offered pretty good royalty rates and was excited to have my books with them. However, the owner recently had a public emotional outburst (complete with significant other chiming in), lashing out at the press’ authors because of financial problems.  They wanted their authors to re-negotiate their contracts so that the authors would pay part of the cost for the publication of their books. Most of us said we wouldn’t and then were insulted. The press had a contract with the authors already. The authors didn’t need to re-negotiate. The press wanted them to for their own comfort because they couldn’t manage their finances. Not the authors’ fault, even though they were getting blamed in a “bitch-fit” display by the business owner.

Needless to say, I pulled my contracts and decided to go the self-publishing route. I wanted far away from the toxic emotional public outbursts that have no place in any business. I have no desire to be involved with anyone’s drama. Besides, why would I want to have my books with a publisher that might not even be around anymore when the books are supposed to be released? Why would I jump on a boat that’s already sinking? And, if the press is going to restructure to the point of the author paying part of their own cost, why shouldn’t I just self-publish and keep all the income for myself? I would rather stand on my own instead of be part of a vanity press that charges authors to be with them.

Unlike most authors, I know how to format print and ebook titles. I know how to format book covers. I know how to edit. I’ve done all these things before for myself and other small presses I’ve worked with. I’m not stuck anywhere because I can’t put a quality title out on my own.

Watching these train wrecks in action has made me want to self-publish, when that was never my first route before. But, since I have the skills to do it, I might as well. I don’t feel I can rely on any small/indie presses right now. Hopefully someday something will improve.

(Note: The information in this post about Permuted Press has come from the various posts of author who have come forward about what happened, including personal friends I know who are published with them. And, from personal experience, as far as my offer from them.)

 

@Rebecca Besser, 2014. All rights reserved.

Out of the Shadows – Be Seen and Build a Platform

Some people won’t jump into the Indie Writer movement. They’d rather keep all their writing for the higher end publications… You know, the publications that pay full price for everything. Now, granted, there’s nothing wrong with that, we should all strive to get the best for ourselves and our writing. But for that to make a difference, you would have to be published with those higher end publications constantly. You’d have to have a column in a widely read magazine/newspaper or something, and be turning out something weekly that would have to appear before readers. That’s not going to happen, but for a few. And no one is going to hire a nobody for that job, unless you were birthed into the world through shiny, glittery unicorn poop.

So unless you’re some major guru, and we all read those publications, you aren’t going to build a name for yourself or gather fans/a following if you can’t get your writing out in front of the reader.

You can sit on your writing unless the exact publication you want is willing to take it on, or you can work with what you have. There’s nothing wrong with doing a “for the love” publication or throwing a short story at an anthology once in a while to gain some readers.

At least the Indie Writer is out there building a platform, gathering fans and readers, having a blog that someone actually reads, and a social media profile people actually want to follow and interact with. You know what? Those big publications you’re after will want you to have those things (with decent numbers) when they take you on. They’ll want you to show them that people like you and your work. They’ll want to see that you have fans and a following.

Sitting on your hands (and all of your writing) is not going to get you in front of the masses.

Oh, it may if you’re super lucky (see unicorn poop reference above), or have the best writing in the universe. But, with the way the economy and everything is working against everyone today, what are the chances of you being the “chosen one” for that big publishing house? Especially when you haven’t been building a platform/name for yourself?

Not very likely.

You can ask anyone who has been published with a bigger publishing house, who has an agent, and they’re going to tell you you’ll need the platform. And, if you get picked up without having one, you’re going to be told really fast that you need to build one.

Why not start building your name now, while you’re waiting?

Did you know that if you’re an Indie Writer or self-published writer and you sell or give away thousands of copies of your work, it will increase your chances of an agent or big publishing deal? Yes. It’s true. You know why? Because you’re not invisible and people want what you’re putting out into the world. Granted, that happens about as much as being the magical “chosen one,” but you’re not completely invisible to the world if you’re getting a few hundred readers to read your stuff.

At least someone will know your name. At least someone will have read your story(ies). Keeping them all to yourself is doing absolutely nothing for you.

I believe it’s better to stand up and be noticed, even a little bit, rather than sit in the corner and be invisible. You don’t get any fans that way. No one is going to ask you to dance and sweep you off your feet (agent/publisher) if they don’t even know you exist.

Another thing you’ll bring to the table when the time comes for that big contract, if you’re in the Indie Writer movement… You’ll have a general idea how publishing actually works. You’ll have seen various types of contracts. You’ll have worked with various editors. You’ll understand the professionalism and respect that go into the transactions of publication. You’ll know what to expect and have a realistic perception of the reality of what writers do, what editors do, and what publishers do. How are you going to get that experience waiting for just the right deal to come your way? Sitting in the corner, knowing nothing?

The point of this post? Yeah, you’re awesome with all your good writing, but no one can see you unless you stand up and show yourself and what you can do. Readers want to see you. And agents and publishers want to see your following. So, against the risk of staying a no one forever, throw something out into the world and build your platform.

Stand up! Make some noise! Show the world what you can do, and what you can be. Don’t keep thinking good things are going to come your way when you’re not trying to build yourself a platform and a name. All the experience, and networking, will help you in the long run. I promise.

 

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©Rebecca Besser. All rights reserved.