Author Truths for Beginners (Part 9)

And the winner is . . .

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NOT YOU!

Indie-authors cannot hang out with the cool kids.

Back in Part 7, I covered the book awards available to indie-authors, but there are other concerns about self-publishing which you should consider before investing in this game.

I was SO naïve going into this, I actually believed success would be about carefully edited quality words being packaged in a book worth keeping in a library. While all the these are important, the truth is self-publishing takes you out of the game. There are a number of mostly invisible barriers to keep pesky new authors out of the gated community of the mainstream publishing world.

They have carefully barricaded themselves in.

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They are fearful, so they created an uneven playing field to keep us out:

  • If you want to make any royalties at all, your self-published print-on-demand paperback or hardcover will be priced higher than similar offerings coming out of Ingram, even though you published with Ingram Spark. Being “a little pricey” is enough for many bookstores and libraries to look to lower cost books from better known traditionally published authors.
  • Many mainstream publications will not review indie releases.
  • Some mainstream publications will not review foreign releases.
  • Legitimate literary awards will not consider indie releases because they did not go through an editorial selection process.
  • Libraries tend to favor homegrown authors when selecting books and they often are influenced by opinions from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, Library Journal, or Booklist—most of which pay little attention to indie-releases.
  • If you publish using an AMAZONIAN COMPANY to produce your POD books, it is doubtful you will ever make a sale in a non-Amazonian brick and mortar bookstore. I begged two different neighborhood bookstores to order a friend’s book for me but they refused. They would rather pass on a sale than support the entity that is crushing them. The hostility level is that high.

Sad indeed.

© 2018 E. A. Barker

Who is E. A. Barker?

‘I am a just a boy…
Standing in front of a bookstore…
Asking them to love me.’

All kidding aside, I am an occasionally serious researcher who wrote a book about life with women, without having much of the needed foreknowledge of the book biz I shared with you here. Due to unforeseen circumstances beyond my control, I also did not have the working capital necessary to execute the most basic of marketing strategies like the ones outlined in this blog series. Now, I try to help others avoid the mistakes I made. My book echoes that goal as well.

Ms. Creant: The Wrong Doers! is an entertaining non-fiction book chronicling everything we are not taught, but need to know.

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The large print 8×10 paperback and hardcover versions of Ms. Creant are available through bookstores and libraries around the globe from Ingram Spark.

ISBNs
978-1-77302-134-8 (Hardcover)
978-1-77302-132-4 (Paperback)
978-1-77302-133-1 (e Book)

The e-book options are many, and all can be viewed at:

http://mscreant.eabarker.com

My website is also the place to find the most comprehensive list of reviews.

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Author Truths for Beginners (Part 8)

Welcome to BOOK MARKETING FOR BEGINNERS with E. A.

Where all your dreams can come true . . .

but probably won’t due to limited budgets or effort.

pexels-photo-459971.jpegRule 1:
Neither you nor your book is worthless.

I hope you are taking notes because you will be tested on this. There are a huge number of people who will tell you this, usually so they can make a buck from you. If you have to give your work away online, as SO many people claim, then maybe the online marketplace is not where we should be trying to sell our books. My hardcover goes for $39.99 and it continues to sell here and there with me doing next to nothing these days to encourage those sales. My big large-print paperback still pulls in $24.99. So, how is it that we must entertain 99¢ or even free e-books?

I have a theory.

pexels-photo-288477.jpegImagine the aforementioned rich publishing executive sitting in their corner office high atop one of the BIG 5 publishing houses. Both they and their stockholders are worried by the ever-increasing number of indie-author e-book offerings that are priced roughly 66% lower than what the BIG 5 would like to be selling their e-books for. Pictures begin to coalesce in their mind . . .

They must go.

There are too many of them to kill . . . unless we could get them all in one place . . . Nah, we’d never get away with it, and the hit-squad required would make the venture cost prohibitive.
What if we created sites to take a pile of money from indie-authors using our industry people? Then, what if our people were somehow able to convince them that making NO money from publishing was a step in the right direction for their careers?
If they were all disheartened and broke, would they quit?
“Jane, get in here. I need you to take a memo.”

pexels-photo-206527.jpegYou may want to sit down and be drunk, or high, or both for these next few facts . . . this from a guy whose book takes a tough stance on escapism. What a fracking hypocrite!

According to statistics:

  • The average book will sell less than 250 copies. As soon as mine hits 251, I’m outa-here. I will be able to hold my head high and be able to boastfully state: I was an above average success as an indie-author. Whoever I am bragging to does not need to know the truth of it.
  • Each year there are more than 600,000 new books published to help to bury yours.
  • Each year the aging segment of the populace that still buys and reads full-length books shrinks a little more. Even novellas are a bit long for some younger readers. Enter the novelette.

The wealthy retired baby-boomers won’t last forever so if you are going publish a meaningful book, you had better hurry.

pexels-photo-221164.jpeg“What about groups and events on social media sites?
Won’t they help us reach readers?”

I would be lying if I said no, but we must put a VALUE on each of those based on our time spent preparing as well as the time spent on the activity. It goes to optimizing your time and the most PROFITABLE use of your time. If you won’t work for under $10.00 per hour anywhere else, why would you on social media?

In marketing:
COST vs. RETURN = VALUE

  • COST: whether expressed as hours devoted or in dollars, quatloos, whatever.
  • RETURN: your royalties.
  • VALUE: a measure of effectiveness expressed in PROFITS after deducting costs.

Yes, you read that right.

Your investment in marketing is supposed to sell at least enough of a product at a high enough gross profit to cover costs. Crazy, right? Would you stay with a Real-estate Agent who keeps telling you to lower your asking price until it’s lower than what you paid for your house? Sadly, some people will listen to so-called experts, but you are an author, ergo you is smart.

“But isn’t marketing expensive?”

So is that designer coffee you are drinking.

For about what you spend in a year on designer coffee (or tea or smoothies) from specialty shops, (+/- $5000.00) you can have a pretty solid book marketing plan that will not only begin to pay for your coffees again, but could do much more. It will depend on your reviews once the book is off and running.

If you self-publish or are published by a small press, make sure you have a marketing budget, however small, to get things rolling. Be aware, you must commit to your marketing plan for up to one year after your release, depending on whether your reviews warrant continuing.

Author Truths for Beginners (Part 7)

You will need my revolutionary new Bullshit-o-Meter 5000!

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Order before midnight tonight and I’ll also send you my HOW TO BECOME A RICH AUTHOR video with the same super deep discount, subtitled:

There Is One Born Every Minute & How to Fleece Them.

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.

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.