Monday, April 15, 2013

A Bird's Eye Perspective: Traditional Publishing vs. Self-Publishing

So the question was asked, as it gets asked quite often…which is better, to publish through a traditional publisher or to self-publish? There may be pros and cons to both sides, per say. So let’s start with the pros of self-publishing, shall we.

You have full creative control of the content
You keep more profit
You also control whether your work gets published
Less waiting time to publish
You get to market it the way you see fit and get it in the hands of your target readers….more on this in a bit.
Notoriety from friends and family now that you are an accomplished author

With technology today, it’s possible for anyone with a laptop or a desktop to tap and keystroke their way to a novel, short story, poetry piece, etc. and put it out there for the world to view, admire, and gobble up with anticipation of the next alluring piece that you pen, right? Um, well, that is partly true.  Now, let’s take a look at the cons.
You have to market it aggressively. You have to market it aggressively and did I mention that you have to market it aggressively?
Limited distribution
Low stock if any book copies in bookstores
Less profit than you bargained for

One question before we go any further, how many authors do you know that didn’t try to get published traditionally before going the self-published route? Most authors want to be published traditionally but have not yet had the chance to be picked up by a publisher for a myriad of reasons.  Again, with technology, you no longer have to wait. Along with not waiting, honing and perfecting your craft more, and continually writing, self-publishing does offer the benefits of getting out there, but how far can you really get out there.

Sure, we’ve all heard the success and sensation of Amanda Hocking and John Locke (who previously was traditionally published and established). The truth and reality is is that most self-published authors sell less than 200 books after going through all of their friends and family, while the traditionally published average sales range from 3000 to 4000 books.

One big hurdle is that you need to know who your target market is, where to find them and how to reach them. A traditional publisher has an advantage in this department. Yes, it is true that most publishers don’t go all out to market for you (unless you are a an author at the top of the echelon and by this time, you don’t need to be marketed as much because you already have a thriving fan base waiting for your next piece of work). 

So this means, you will spend more time than you imagined marketing your book. If you have a marketing background, it can make the job less stressful, but most authors don’t. You will get some sort of marketing help; however, you will carry a lot of it on your shoulders. Having a publisher that has a dedicated marketing representative and events coordinator that works to get you seen is a huge plus and not to mention a money saver on your part. There may be a couple of these publishers out there, usually smaller presses, but their funds are more limited. Nonetheless, you will get more personalized attention in this department.

Then there is the question of distribution. Most booksellers won’t order books from self-published authors. There are independent bookstores that may take a chance, but your goal is to have your book in as many bookstores (and selling) as possible. Having this connection is a necessity or you will have a very limited distribution circle outside of the online community. Yes, you have the opportunity to publish and distribute your e-books online through Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, and other outlets, but not much in the brick and mortar stores. 

Overall looking at it from the traditional publisher’s side is about money, it’s a business.  Not only it is a business, but to be successful at it and make the money to sustain the business, it needs to have great authors that can churn out the books that readers love will review your books, spread the word and help the bottom line…make you money as well. 

With this said, check out our website and view the submission guidelines and what we do in the way of marketing for you. If interested, submit a query. You never know, it may get accepted.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Recipe For A Best Selling Novel …According to Best Selling Author Dean Koontz

Let’s face it; we all think we have a story inside of us to tell. There are some of us that have been told “you should write a book and tell your life story.” Many of us think that we are sitting on a best seller! Is there really such a thing of just getting it right every time you pen your next great novel? Are you writing what you would want to read or are you putting rigid constraints on yourself and writing what you think people want to read; hoping to hit that sweet spot? We all dream of the six figure advances, the mindless spending of penned earned money on the once dreamed of home, cars, clothes, etc. Paying things off in cash, being debt free….well, you get the picture, and you probably carry that mental image around with you on a daily basis back and forth to work which makes that dream even more desirable and your current life and reality the lesser.

So how are you to be transformed into this mega writer? Well, bestselling author Dean Koontz sat down with Beliefnet and has some tips worth mentioning that could possibly lend a hand and push you on your way to the top. He is worth an ear seeing as though according to Beliefnet’s editor, he was reported to have annual sales of at least $24 million. But remember, as authors, we all have our own way of writing and there really is no wrong or write (and yes, I meant to say write) way to go about this, but it won’t hurt to take in these suggestions. Who knows, maybe you could be the next best sensation!
Here are his tips:
1. Your writing should be personal to you. It should come from deep inside of you. (Well, so much for writing what you think people want to read, or mimicking.) Zombies may be in now, but who knows what will be in in 4 or 5 years from now. You will struggle trying to tap into a market you are not really interested in.
2. Drop the outlines; they hold you inside the box. We as authors love to think outside the box and outlines don’t seem to support that line of thought.
3. Get rid of the self-doubt. Nothing like self-sabotage, huh?
4. Love the language and fill your writing with metaphors, similes, and other figures of speech. In other words, be more than one dimensional and flat. Be vivid in your writing, enrich it and be colorful. That may be a challenge for some and easy for others.
5. Write with passion. Write what you are passionate about. See tip #1.
All of these tips are awesome pieces of advice. Challenge yourself; push yourself to higher aspirations in your writing. You may surprise yourself when you just let go and flow freely.

Reviews, Reviews, Reviews!

Your life, blood, sweat and tears you have poured into your book needs to be acknowledged, right? You want people to know that you have crafted an awesome story. One filled with action, romance, adventure, suspense, or whatever the theme or genre it falls in. One word or a few words about your book is what can help sustain and help you gain momentum, an audience, or a following. Reviews can be an extension; the lifeblood of your work. Just as a food critic rates a restaurant, reviews can make or break you.

In the business world, Google heavily weighs reviews, along with other components; in its algorithm as far as user queries are concerned, and serves up its most relevant findings. As a professional Marketing agent, stressing getting reviews ranks high on my list. Most people trust what others have to say about a product or service….and your book. If you have great reviews, your book most likely has a great chance to be purchased. If you have no reviews, people may pass you up for fear of not wanting to spend their hard earned funds on an unknown author. With the deluge of self-published works, which some may view as being under par (which we cannot say this is true), or a small press author, the odds are stacked against you from the start. However, you have to start somewhere right?
So, to make it easier to gain reviews quickly, here are a few tips:

Provide QR codes on the back of or inside the covers of the book, catching the reader while they are still “into” your book.  Readers are probably more likely to leave a review right after finishing the book as opposed to writing a review days or weeks later. Catch the readers while they are hot.
Reviews being left in multiple locations is a plus as well. Providing a few links can optimize your chances of getting a multitude of reviews at various locations, thus taking up more real estate in searches and platforms.

You can also ask the reader by including verbiage with the QR code, to refer your book to a friend. If they are willing to do a review right there on the spot (assuming they loved your book), they may also be willing to share your work with a friend via an email, word of mouth, or even send a message or post their thoughts on Facebook.

Provide links to your Goodreads profile for reviews. If you don’t already have a profile, get one. This is another valuable source for “sharing” and reviewing information about your book.

Reviews are not the end all or be all, but they are great indicators for others to follow and can pique curiosity for the roaming reader searching for their next read. Writing and publishing the book is the easiest part, marketing it is another monster. However, as an Urban Prints Production author, we lessen the stress on you and carry a lot of the marketing duties for you, leaving you to do what you do best!