Author Truths for Beginners (Part 7)

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There are SO many snake-oil-selling salespeople hovering around and feeding on unsuspecting authors that it would be laughable were it not for the authors who get taken for thousands each year by charlatans with lawyers or marketing packages that yield nothing.

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Here is my List of Hungry Zombies Authors Should Avoid:

a) Social media campaigns run by third party promoters who promise your book will be seen by their 100,000 followers, twice per day, seven days a week . . . If by being seen they mean scrolled right over, then there is at least some truth in their claims. It would be interesting to see how many fake followers they have, but who has the time. My Bullshit-o-Meter 5000 is humming.

b) ANY and ALL so-called reviewers who ask for money.

c) ANY and ALL so-called reviewers who ONLY accept print books for review. Some demand multiple copies. You will pay for the books and shipping, only to “mysteriously” begin to see used versions of your book appear on your book’s Amazon page, eBay or craigslist. If reselling your book isn’t already bad enough, they don’t review it either. This group fracked me out of hundreds of dollars. Don’t let it happen to you no matter how legitimate they may appear. They are scammers, plain and simple.

d) ANY and ALL so-called Book Awards asking for money.

e) ANY and ALL so-called Book Awards who ONLY accept print books for review. Some demand multiple copies. You see where this is going. There are a few that will give you the award by refining the categories down until you are the only one left in it, but you will probably have to buy into multiple categories—each with its own entry fee—to be sure of becoming an Award-Winning Author.

stock-photo-gold-winners-trophy-with-golden-shiny-stars-721703176Legitimate and meaningful book award organizations have a nomination process which begins with your book being referred to them by a trusted party. You probably will not even know this has happened until

THEY CONTACT YOU.

Hell, if you send me fifty bucks, I’ll give you my exclusive and very prestigious sounding award (because it is in Latin) that will make you an

Insignes Literatura Winning Author

You don’t even have to send me your book, just the money. If you get nine of your author pals to send money as well, I will build a website to legitimize the whole thing to the casual observer.

f) The We Will Handle Everything for You Publicity / Marketing companies will usually do what they claim, as long as your checks keep clearing. Typically, you will find options to suit any wealthy person’s budget, ranging from a basic book launch for $500.00ish to the Hillary plan in the tens of thousands. So, if you have a foundation with your name on it, you are good to go, but no matter which plan you choose, your royalties will never cover the costs. Publicists are for those people who write books to create a secondary revenue stream in support of their primary occupations. The best examples these days are politicians, scientists and celebrities who wish to stay in, or return to, the limelight. These publicity companies are often promoters of trade shows. Do not exhibit your book in EXPOs if you will not be there to network. I rolled the dice on this expense for a $0.00 return. It’s the equivalent of putting your book on a shelf in the Library of Congress for five days; nobody knows you are even there.

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g) ANYBODY who is selling you on the DREAM instead of tangible proven services. Their pitch usually goes something like this: ‘It happened for E. L. James and J. K. Rowling . . . so it can happen for you.’ This one has been known to break the Bullshit-o-Meter 5000.
These examples are anomalies. Forget about them.

h) ANYBODY who is trying to tell you to give away your work for nothing or next to nothing. There are more and more sites popping up everyday promising us that if we pay a small membership fee, mark our books down to where we no longer receive a royalty, and play well with others on the site, we MIGHT get a bunch of new reviews which COULD cause an upswing in sales even after the promo-period ends. My Bullshit-o-Meter 5000 has smoke coming out of it.

If any readers are willing to show me how any of the above mentioned actually grossed more royalties than they cost in either time or quatloos, I will happily print a retraction.
There is no magical formula that will sell any book to every person for little or no money. Marketing is mostly about common sense, or at least it was until the Internet came along.

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Author Truths for Beginners (Part 5)

Doing the work is not optional.

In order to eat occasionally, keep a roof over my head, and keep the dream alive of one day being able to afford cocaine, I work with a variety of very different people who are mostly artistic types who were forced into becoming entrepreneurs. Most fiction authors and performers are creatives—right brain thinkers—who by their very nature have difficulty with the structured environment needed to run a business. In meetings, you can actually see their eyes glazing over as their brain’s dominant right side takes them to a daffodil covered sun-bathed meadow where unicorns run free, and where fairy dust falls from rainbows in an otherwise pure blue sky.

pexels-photo-255339.jpegStarving artists have always existed for a reason.

Artists want to work at their craft to the exclusion of all else. They are only interested in what moves them on an artistic level. This is why they have been exploited throughout history. When it comes to creatives, the more talented they are, the worse they are at focusing on the real-world DETAILS that will give them a fighting chance at success:
Budgeting
Cover photos and graphics
Titles
Subtitles
Blurbs
Author bio
Bibliography
Interior layout
Fonts
Meta data
Categories
Keywords
SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
BIC & BISAC subject codes
If you are already phasing, you are probably destined for greatness.
Branding
Image building
Distribution
Marketing
Advertising
Promotion
Events
Appearances
Interviews
Press releases
Publicity
Revenue streams
Websites
Social media management
E-mail campaigns
Targeted marketing strategies
You get the idea.

It’s business-y stuff.

pexels-photo-450271.jpegMany of the authors who come to me for a little help in some of the areas above, are wildly prolific writers who crank out books almost as fast as it takes me to write a blog like this. While I admire and envy them for being singularly focused on the best part of being an author—writing, I can usually see where they have taken shortcuts which hurt the quality, sale-ability, and visibility of their book(s) and or brand.

Haste makes waste!

I wonder if there is such a thing as publishing addiction? I can see how it could happen, and it would explain authors who rush to publish without doing all the work. The best I have felt in decades came as a result of typing The End for the first time. I poured a scotch, lit a cigar, and sat back to bask in the afterglow of my tremendous achievement; fantasizing about the possibilities . . . it was wonderful. Anything wonderful can be addictive. What if premature publication is actually the root cause of indie and small press books remaining in the weeds?

Premature publication is just like premature ejaculation.
In both cases, people are left wanting.

pexels-photo-256658.jpegControl your excitement!

You must put a long list of things in place before you announce your book to the world. One example of major impotence is most influential reviewers want an ARC or galley copy three months prior to the release of the book. [The typo stayed because it absolutely killed me when I saw it. My subconscious is hilarious.] Skipping over this step is the equivalent of saying: Reviews do not matter, it is the size of your catalog that counts.

That’s just nuts!

Reviews drive this business!
Reviews open doors.

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The top influencers in the industry are not the reviewers you might expect.
Follow these links to find the truth:

www.slate.co

fictionadvocate.com

www.thebookpeople.co.uk

You are only as good as the QUALITY AND QUANTITY of the reviews of your last book.

That is why I will not self-publish another one. There are just too many barriers which are designed to keep indie-authors in their place, which by the way, is anywhere outside of the mainstream book marketplace. Upcoming segments in this series will touch on a few examples. Stay tuned.

Author Truths for Beginners (Part 4)

This is a pay-to-play game.

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It is theoretically possible to publish your book without paying out for services, but you would be a fool to try.

  • Yes, you can write your own blurb, but it probably won’t help a reader reach a buying decision.
  • Yes, you might be able to edit, but you will miss mistakes in your own work.
  • Yes, you might be able to create a cover, but it probably won’t attract readers.
  • Yes, you could learn how to format the interior, but there is a huge time investment required.
  • Yes, you could learn to upload your book, but accuracy is crucial if your book is to be found in searches.
  • Yes, you could attempt free promotion of your book on social media, but the time investment to cultivate readers is staggering.

Newbies who try to DIY their book ultimately fail because they will never get any of the above six points exactly right. All these errors compound to create a book that will never have a chance at success.

Where ever there are newbies, there will be exploitation.

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Somewhere in one of the Big Five publishing houses, there is a wealthy person sitting in a corner office  who got there by asking the following:

“What if there was a way to get authors to pay us instead of the old-fashioned way of doing things where we pay them?”

Self-publishing has been around just about as long as the printing press. A press was expensive and the owners of them needed to keep them running as many hours a day as possible. They quickly figured out they could make money from wealthy people who thought they were writers. The Vanity Press was born.

The digital e-book has brought about a resurgence in vanity publishing by making the author dream affordable to all but the poorest among us.

Let’s look at who will make money from you if you choose to self-publish. We will assume you do not possess any of the skills required, and have nothing to barter with. We will also assume a 50,000-word novel.

At an absolute minimum, publishing an e-book will require the following:

  • Editing. If you think you don’t need this, think again. Any editor worth their salt will charge at least $300.00 for a single pass.
  • A cover. If you spend $100.00 or less using modified stock images you did well. Avoid anything too cheap unless you want to lose sleep at night over rights infringements. Paying anything less than $250.00 is a good price for original art work and graphic design.
  • Interior formatting. Anything around the $500.00 mark is a score. $975.00 is the most you should pay a top professional.
  • File conversion should run you at least $40.00
  • Copyrights begin at $80.00 and climb by country.
  • A single ISBN is $125.00 but you can get ten for $250.00 so you will have to make the call based on how many books you plan to publish.

$1145.00 is what a SEMI-PRO first offering e-book will cost to publish, and we haven’t even talked about thorough editing, printed books, distribution or marketing yet.

Do not be seduced by predators.

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PAY NOTHING TO ANYONE until you have checked out a number of their references.

Negotiate a deal to pay 50% up front with 50% upon completion by a set date you can both live with.

Hire on a trial basis whenever possible. It is better to pay a new editor for one chapter, to find out if you like their work, than it is to pay them to edit your entire book only to discover too late you do not like their changes.

Be exceedingly cautious if you choose to package all of this in what is now termed an Author Services company. In my experience, they either underperform or gouge for their services.