Tag Archives: money

Dear Lendink

 

I don’t claim to know all the ins and outs of how this book business works, but I do know that I am offended on your behalf. Recently, your site was shut down because a group of authors decided you were a pirate. I visited your site. I read your FAQ page. I did some research and as far as I could discover you were doing exactly what you said you were doing.

I did NOT see any signs of a wooden leg, a hook where your hand should be, or a skull and crossbones flag hanging anywhere on your site. Nor did I see an eye patch, though you might have looked quite dashing in an eye patch.

I would like to take a moment to say thank you. Perhaps this is too late, perhaps not. I sincerely appreciate what you were trying to do buy leading readers by the virtual hand to the actual buy pages of the books I write and publish. I am constantly looking for new ways to market our books that do not require more time than I have to give. You did that, willingly, and legally, and you were cast out for your efforts.

::hangs head in shame:: I am sorry that not everyone felt the need to give you the benefit of the doubt and to take the time to figure out that you were acting on behalves and in fact doing us a FAVOR.

I would like to let you know that should you get your site back up and running, you have my permission to LEGALLY promote my books on your site. This goes for anyone who wants to LEGALLY introduce readers to the books of Echelon Press. Don’t steal from me, don’t distribute or lend our books without ensuring that the authors and I are being full compensated within our legal rights. But by all means, if you want to post covers and links to where readers can BUY our books LEGALLY, you have my blessing and my supports.

I am certain I am not the only one angered at your mistreatment. You can find another supporter at the blog of April L. Hamilton. http://aprillhamilton.blogspot.com/2012/08/congratulations-you-killed-lendink-and.html

Respectfully,

Karen L. Syed

 

 

 

 

What was Satan Thinking?

 

First, let’s be clear on what I mean when I say POD books. This term has become so misused and misunderstood that it has actually resulted in lost sales for many. This doesn’t need to be the case.

POD stands for PRINT ON DEMAND. You’ll notice the word PRINT. Not publish or promote, PRINT!

POD is the process used by PRINTERS to eliminate the need for excessive runs of print copies. The printer simply waits until there is an order and then prints the specific number of copies ordered, removing the immediate potential for wasted paper.

I’m not sure why POD books have received such a negative reputation, but most booksellers and librarians, and now due to the overwhelming number of authors arguing about it in public forums, readers equate POD with lower quality books. This simply isn’t the case.

For over a decade, a multitude of publishers, both big and small, have been using the POD method for fulfilling orders.

The quality of the written word is determined well before the actual book ever goes to print, thereby eliminating the misconception that POD books are “bad.” It needs to be understood by all that POD, the method of printing does not account for the number of poorly written and edited books being sold in the market.

The biggest problem with the misunderstanding of POD is the ability for companies and authors to market and promote the books. However, with the proper education within the retail (and library) industries, bookseller and acquisition librarians could not only increase their potential sales and titles available, but could increase the variety of stories available to their readers.

Readers crave originality. They are tired of reading the same recycled stories by the same authors. Yet, they are deprived of any freshness in their choices, because the larger and more traditional publishers are reluctant to take any financial risk on the newer and more exciting stories written by unknown or new authors.

I would encourage everyone in the book industry to educate themselves and to recognize the value of POD books and to acknowledge the potential for increased sales. Give new authors a chance to prove that they have writing skill and the ability to tell a good story, no matter how many copies of their book is printed at one time.

Furthermore, consider the environmental impact of POD books. A traditional publisher may print 5000 copies of a paperback novel by a new author, and only sell 1500 of them. This means that the remaining 3500 unsold copies will be put into waste. Had the publisher used the POD process to print those books, they would have simply printed the 1500 copies as the orders came in and eliminated the waste. If you did this for 10,000 books in one year, imagine how much paper would be saved and thus less trees.

Bottom line, POD is not the work of Satan. It is simply a process used to print books in smaller quantities. Sorry, Dude, you don’t get credit for this one.

My final point refers to the availability and returnability of books produced using the POD process. The status of returns is not determined across the industry, it is determined by the specific publisher or author. This means that it is an unfair assumption for a bookstore not to carry a POD book, without first determining its returnability status.

We all have choices, but when we make a choice, that doesn’t give us the right to complain when that choice cause a problem.

I hope that after reading this post, more people who speak ill of the POD process will reconsider their “choices” and give authors a fair chance to sell books and entertain readers.

Will you?

Originally published at ©Life as a Publisher by Karen L. Syed
This can be reproduced in it’s entirety with no additions or corrections.

 

Good Money Gone Where?

Okay, I had a couple authors come to me today and ask about advertising and what to pay and where. Let’s clarify a few things. I am not one for flushing money down the toilet.

Promotion: the act of furthering the growth or development of something; especially: the furtherance of the acceptance and sale of merchandise through advertising, publicity, or discounting

Advertising: the action of calling something to the attention of the public especially by paid announcements

Publicity: a: an act or device designed to attract public interest; specifically: information with news value issued as a means of gaining public attention or support

b: the dissemination of information or promotional material

c: paid advertising

As an author it is imperative that you do something. If you do a combination of either of the latter two, you are automatically doing the first. It simply isn’t feasible or sane to think you can sell books without doing something, whether you pay for it or not.

The question is, when do you do what? I have some strong opinions on this and you can take them or leave them.

I am not a huge fan of advertising on the whole, but there are situations when I think you can get some value from paying to be seen. Newspapers/Magazines, not so much. Readers/consumers have become desensitized to advertising, so a general ad to sell books in a newspaper/magazine is useless because you are competing with beer, bras, boats, cars, houses, politicians, etc. Those are the things people expect to see and notice in the newspapers/magazines. Books probably don’t even garner a glance.

If you want to make an ad pay off for you, then make certain you focus on your specific market. The point in question today is, what is the benefit of advertising in a conference/convention program/newsletter? The answer is targeted marketing.

The people (consumers) who see the ad in a con program are at the con because they read/write/love books. It is simple. They will go through that program page by page to see what is in it and what they can do or get from that con. They want to get the biggest bang for their buck, just like us. Do you have to be at the con to benefit? No way. Sometime better if you are not. It takes the pressure off the consumer if they can’t buy right now. They don’t have to deal with the guilt.

As a rule, when I go to a con I use that program the entire time I am there. That means I open and close and peruse that thing a gazillion times over the course of 3 or 4 days. Each time I open it, I see the things printed in it, including the ads. Have I ever bought anything from a program ad? You bet. I have found books in a few by authors I never would have heard of had I not seen them and their books in the program.

How much is too much? This ad that brought up this question is costing each author $80.00. The ad will be seen by a minimum of 200 people, people who are actually looking. You figure that each of them may see the ad 3 times. This makes your price per view (600 views) .13333333 (and so on). To me, that is not bad. If you did a Facebook ad, you might be looking as high as .50 per view with no guaranteed views. Ads can be very expensive. Want to see if your heart is still beating? Check out the ad rates for Publishers Weekly. I’ve seen ad rates for con programs go as high as $1200 for a business card sized ad. I’ve seen higher, but my eye twitches to think about it.

I don’t do a lot of program ads, but I very carefully select the ones I do. The key is trial and error. Nothing happens overnight. If you are expecting to put an ad anywhere and see immediate results, then you are insane. I mean seriously insane.

Now, a quick note about publicity. This is generally free. How do you get publicity? You make news. What kind of news? Whatever kind you can. I have been criticized for saying this in the past, but go out and do something to make you look good. Self-serving? Hell yes, but it also serves a purpose. Here are some potential Press Release headers that might give you ideas.

*Local Author Serves Christmas Dinner to the Homeless*

*Teen Author Runs Half Marathon to Benefit Blood Cancer Research*

*Local Author Gives Writer Workshop at Local Middle School*

*Local Author Gives Free Writing Workshop at Local Library*

*Local Author Walks to Benefit American Heart Association*

Get the point? Sure, you may be doing those things just to get publicity, but this is a two-sided coin. Anything you do in your community (or any community) to get publicity probably also has a benefit to the community. I honestly believe it is okay to get something back if you are actually giving.

Organize a Chili Cook-Off at your church or YMCA. Get 20 friends to walk 10 miles and donate the pledges to a local charity. Spend a day at your local animal shelter on their adoption days. You are doing a public service and there is NOTHING wrong with writing a press release to let people know you are doing it, then have done it. It takes some effort, but we all know that what you give, you get back tenfold. Karma ain’t just a bitch, she can be kind.

Authors should be sending out at least one press release a month. The first few might not hit, but after they see your name and releases a few times, they will take notice. Just be patient and be active. Sitting back on your laurels will do nothing but make your butt spread wider.

Promotion is the key. How you do it is up to you, but if you want to sell books, you better be willing to do something, or you might as well grow rocks.

Authors Held at Gunpoint

I received a note from a friend recently that asked me a very disturbing question. She wanted to know if I would offer my opinion on whether or not I thought she should pay to have her books reviewed.

It seems there is an independent bookstore that requires “certain” authors to have their books reviewed by this specific service in order to be carried in their store. They have been carrying the author’s books, but now have decided that they will remove the books unless the author meets this new requirement. Furthermore, the author must PAY to have those reviews done.

Once the reviews have been done, the store will then take the books into the store on consignment only. It would seem that the store also receives a fee for the books reviewed.

Now, I fully understand that some stores (mostly chain stores) charge for shelf placement, but even under those circumstances it is prime shelf space, not the difference between in the store or not.

Is it just me or have the chances for an author actually selling books become as dangerous as driving through gang territory? There seems to be a constant barrage of bullets flying from all directions determined to take out the authors that some booksellers deem unworthy.

What of the readers? Don’t they deserve to choose the books they want and not have to settle just for what booksellers tell them the should read?

A Word to the Wise

Okay, for those of you who have recently had some kind of interaction with me or one of my staff at Echelon Press, please read this in the spirit it is intended. How is it intended? It is a gripe, not a rant. I am not angry, I am just frustrated. I don’t dislike you, but I did experience moments of annoyance with regard to you if you did what I am about to discuss.

Free editorial service. Yup, there I said it. When you submit your work to a publisher it it supposed to be the very best that it can be.

  • It should not need to be reformatted to fit our guidelines.
  • It should not need to be spell checked by our editors.
  • It should not need to be grammar checked by our editors.
  • It should not need to be rewritten to resolve major issues.
  • It should not need to be rewritten to resolve minor issues.
  • It should not need to be rainbowed (some of my auuthors call that the great was, were, that hunt)

Seriously. This is how MOST of the manuscripts we are getting have to be addressed. I understand and will accept some flaws, you are after all human. But let’s be serious folks. It is NOT an unwritten rule that you must send a fully edited manuscript to a publisher for consideration. It is written all over the place. 90% of our submissions need to be 50% overhauled.

Now, the free part. My editors are very considerate. I have always had a policy that if your work is rejected, you know exactly why. This means notes, suggestions, advice. You can take it or leave it. But I feel that it only serves to help the author better his craft. It is a courtesy.

Well, it seems that Echelon has gotten a reputation for being really easy! We have had an influx of authors who submit to us, I should say submit work that needs serious work, with the notion that we will edit it. Okay, we will HELP.

But those same authors are getting all kinds of input and help with revision suggestions, notes on grammatical and spelling errors, stuff like that BEFORE they have a contract. Okay, that stops here! Right now. From this point on, Echelon will only give editorial comments and the like on contracted materials. Why?

In the last month, we have had about a dozen submissions where a pending offer was made, the editor began working with the author, time was spent, MONEY was spent, and then when it came time to actually sign and mail the contract, the author decided to go with another publisher or in the case of five different authors, they decided to self-publish.

For pete’s sake people, you can’t make this decision BEFORE you submit and get a gander at our contract which is not for public viewing? You wanna self-publish, good for you. And I don’t mean that in a snarky way. If you are willing to make that commitment and follow through, then I applaud you. Sincerely. But do I have to pay the price?

I am, after all, a publisher, not a FREE editorial service. I have to pay my editors and when you get their work and then don’t sign the damn contract, I still have to pay them, or they quit. Are you following what I’m saying?

For those of you who fit this bill, I’m really not mad, but I am disappointed because we do put a lot of work into what we do, and when it is for nothing, that means you have taken the time we could have been devoting to someone who really did want to be published by us.

Be courteous. Is that too much to ask?

You’ve Got to be Kidding!

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Okay, I have been participating in a thread on the Murder Must Advertise Yahoo group about what authors think their publishers should do. This morning, after much deliberation, I went ahead and posted some of the things I, as a publisher, do and some things that I won’t do any more.

I had someone ask me privately (concerning a different post) why I get so frustrated and complain about my authors when they work so hard. This question actually came from one of my authors. They also wanted to know why I don’t do more for my authors. It seems to them that I make excuses for not doing things. Okay, fair enough. I answered, even kindly since this author has sold a total of 113 books in the last year.

But this made me think. How come my excuses are bad and an author’s are not? With that in mind, here are the last ten excuses I have received from authors hen I asked them about their personal marketing efforts. They are in no particular order and are very real.

  • I have  family and I have to put them first. I don’t have time to call stores or travel around for nothing.
  • No one is going to come to a books signing anyway so I don’t bother.
  • I wrote the book and am writing my next one for you, so the least you can do is market it for me.
  • I sent out 100 post cards when it first came out and no one contacted me back, so I am not going to waste my time or money.
  • I didn’t get in this business to be a salesperson. I am a writer and have no desire to have to sell.
  • All of my money goes on my family, I never expected to have to pay to market my own book.
  • The economy is really bad and people are not buying books anyway.
  • I work a full-time job, take care of my family, and I need down time. That doesn’t leave time for me to market, that is why I got a publisher.
  • It would seem to me that you would have a lot more time to market my book since you don’t work a full-time job. (this is my personal favorite)
  • If I market it myself, why do I need a publisher?
  • Bookstores and libraries never pay attention to the author, all that marketing stuff has to come from the publisher.
  • No legitimate author does their own marketing.
  • I don’t know how to find readers. If you find them for me, I will talk to them.
  • Nobody sells books from promoting on the Internet, it is a huge waste of time.
  • Social networking is not going to reach readers. It never does.
  • If you want your business to succeed, you are going to have to prove to your authors that they should even bother with you.
  • It is not my responsibility to fund your publishing house.

Okay, more than ten, but I was on a roll. This doesn’t even touch the list. I would very much like to make a very general statement to authors.

IT IS YOUR BOOK!!!!