Tag Archives: self-publishing

Self-Publishing – The One Author Show

Self-Publishing – The One Author Show
By Rebecca Besser

Life doesn’t always go as you plan. Take today for example… My plans were to go grocery shopping, write a blog post, and work on my taxes (it’s more involved when you’re self-employed). Guess what happened? My son’s pygmy goat decided to have twins…today (Saturday). Guess what that means? That I spent most of the day sitting in the cold barn. I have the smallest hands, so if the goat has issues, I’m the ones that gets to “go in” after it. There were minor issues, so I did a bit of going in and pulling. But both the babies are out and seem to be doing great.

Obviously I worked in writing this post. I also managed to do a bit on my taxes. But groceries will have to wait until another day. Not to mention all the other little things I’d had planned for the day that weren’t big enough to make it on the actual “to-do” list.

That’s how life goes, especially for an author with a family. Especially an author with a family that’s running a small farm. There’s always someone needing something… Your child’s sick, your spouse needs you to run an errand, you have to make a call about something, you have to check on animals multiple times to make sure everything’s okay, you have to help with your child’s activities, you have to go to your child’s school for one thing or another, you have to try to take care of yourself…you have to handle life.

What does that mean for an author? It means your schedule gets blown to shit sometimes. What does that mean to an author who self-publishes? Your book(s) get pushed back until you get time to do the writing, editing, cover, formatting, etc.

I had a book planned to come out in October. It didn’t. I intend to have it available by the end of February. How did that happen? The beginning of October is our county fair where my son shows animals. So, that’s a week of limited time for anything other than that. Then, there’s recovering from everything that got pushed back because of that week. Then my son injured himself and was on crutches for a little while. Then there was Thanksgiving and my son was sick. Then I was sick. Then we were in a car accident. My son had a birthday. Then my son and husband were sick. Then there was Christmas. Are you seeing how just living can suck the life out of life? LOL

I’m not complaining. I’m just letting you know that authors are humans too, with lives. Unfortunately an author’s life can’t always revolve around books, no matter how hard they try to make it revolve around books.

But, since I realized all my flaws in planning, I’ve made changes to remedy that. (More about that in my next blog post.)

Regardless, with all that going on, a self-publishing (sometimes) author like me gets behind. Because writing a book takes a lot of time. Editing a book takes a lot of time. Creating a cover for a book takes a lot of time. Formatting a book takes a lot of time. And when you self-publish, all the quality of the work is on you (even if you have someone help you with any step(s) of the process).

When you’re doing it all on your own, it takes a lot of time that has to be worked in and around…life.

 

©Rebecca Besser, 2018. All rights reserved.

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Writing – Personal VS Professional

Writing – Personal VS Professional

By Rebecca Besser

 

Yesterday I posted about having inner peace as a writer and how a writer shouldn’t base their creative worth on book sales (Giving Up – Writing Isn’t An Option).  In no way did I mean by that post that writers shouldn’t get paid and shouldn’t seek to get paid. Because I believe all artists should be paid for their work.

Being paid for your work and book sales are two different things.

An article writer, for instance, gets a flat rate for their work or gets paid a rate per word – this rate of pay has nothing to do with later sales of the publication.

As far as book sales, advances or signing bonuses a writer gets paid for their book are merely royalties paid in advance in the hopes of the publisher making that money back from book sales. A writer makes no more money until the sales of their book have exceeded what they’ve already been paid in advance. Then they receive royalties (a percentage of sales that was agreed upon in their contract).

For writers that self-publish, they hope to get what they put into their book as far as editing and cover cost, etc., back through royalties earned from book sales, because they are author and publisher. This leads to self-published writers getting discouraged easily, because they’re all in and not making their money back when there are little to no sales.

Not placing your value as a creative artist on book sales does not mean that you shouldn’t get paid for the skilled work you do. You can control what you agree to write for as far as advances and per word rate by agreeing to those terms. You cannot predict sales or force anyone to buy your books later or if you self-publish. That’s always a gamble. Many marketing strategies can be tried, but none of them are a guarantee.

You can determine (to an extent) the worth of your work when you agree to terms, but you can never control sales. You can’t base your worth on something you can’t control. You can determine your work’s worth on terms you can negotiate through a paying market/publisher. You have the right to charge for your skill and your time.

Writing is a business once you seek publication through a market where you make money or self-publish a book for which you charge money. And that’s a choice – the choice to be a professional writer. You are choosing to be in the writing business, that you want to be paid for your skill and time.

But there’s another choice…

There are many writers who only ever seek to write for personal reasons. They’ll post on their blog or through non-paying markets, or give their books away for free all the time. That’s “personal” writing. Some make money eventually, once (or if) they get enough attention and someone offers to pay them, but they don’t seek out payment for what they write.

There’s nothing wrong with either option as long as you’re happy. You just need to understand the difference. And respect that people have the right to choose their own path.

The fact that I sought out and now have an agent speaks clearly for the path I’ve chosen. 😉

 

©Rebecca Besser, 2016. All rights reserved.

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.