Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Safety net for the memory banks

Writing a series, I've read and discovered first hand, is a bit tricky. It's not just the effort required to continue the story's characters and their adventures, but to ensure additional books make sense for the reader who did not have the pleasure of devouring your debut book. Many authors, myself included, wrote the debut several months, maybe even a year or two prior to the next in a series, and it's a challenge to keep track of all of the details that were sweated over while making that first masterpiece. (What was that minor character's name? Was it Tyson or Tyler, and did he have blue or brown eyes?)

To keep my memory banks, faulty as they're becoming, from experiencing a full melt down, I have resorted to a tried and true method. The good ol' spiral ring notebook. Never crashes. doesn't break if I drop it. Page never freezes up - I can turn 'em as fast as I want. I can make as many files/categores as I need ( sticky notes are a wonderful invention), and I can check up on details in the notebook at the same time that I am typing my manuscript  - no fancy split screen needed. Best of all, just handling the thing takes me back to the times of junior high Creative Writing classes - where a binder full of spiral ring notebooks bulged with my imagination caught on paper - and there's still a subconscious thrill of opening the notebook's cover, a sense of one about to be taken away into a very pleasant place. Sadly, a computer file just doesn't do that for me.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Adapt and Survive - Tsunami of Change in the Publishing World

Since I entered the writing arena in 2009, things have changed in the publishing world at a dizzying pace.
  1. Ereaders a few years ago were pricey - picked up by mostly techies. Then several models were released - the Nook, the Kobo - and Kindle expanded its available servies into countries other than the US. Sony released newer versions of its ereader. Ereader price wars broke out.
  2. Authors, tired of wait times and low royalties and loss of control over their projects, started to look at self-publishing and the numbers of sales that ereaders were producing. 
  3. Digital publishing became available for the common writer, as many self-publishing and assisted self-publishing options became available and the resulting books and ebooks were of good, possibly even great print quality (read: as good as a traditionally produced book).
  4. Agents continued to turn their noses up at those who dared to go the self-pubbed route, touting it as a last resort for desperate writers, until ebook sales took off with many dozens of authors making a reasonable living off their ebook versions.
  5. Agents began to scout through Amazon for authors and their "tested" books - those that had proven their worthiness by either great sales or great reviews, or both.
  6. Agents and self published authors began to work together, obtaining traditional deals that gave the authors and their "proven" books a far greater distribution pathway.
  7. Ebook sales outpaced hardcover sales and royalties for self published projects left the traditional royalty rates in the basement.
  8. Ereader sales exploded, suggesting that the sales numbers for ebooks are also going to increase dramatically.
  9. Some ebook authors turned down agents' offers for representation ( yes, TURNED DOWN!)
  10. Agents are still authors' best route for foreign rights and film rights - authors do not have much experience in contract negotiations/royalties in these areas.
Stay tuned for the continuing saga of publishing changes for 2011!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Too Much Information and Yet Not Enough

While I was finishing up my first manuscript (2009), self-pubbing was coming into its own. There were a few  choices out there and they were getting positive publicity. As a technologically challenged newbie without any tech savvy teenagers left at home to rely on to help me through this vast new wonderland, I made two decisions: one, to self-publish because of the higher royaltes (20% at the time vs. 7-10% from a traditional publisher), and two, to use an assisted self-publishing company, as I had no idea how to format, get an ISBN, set up social media sites, or build a platform for myself.

I was pleased with the results. My debut novel, "Quintspinner - A Pirate's Quest" was shortlisted for 2010 Sask Book Awards for Best New Book, and it has gathered 4 and 5 star reviews.

In the time since, self-publishing options have exploded faster than a head count at a rabbit farm in the spring, and now I face a new dilemma: which self-publishing path to go on this time? Soft covers as well, or ebooks only? CreateSpace, directly to Kindle, to Smashwords? Every day I have favorite blogs to read and learn from, but the information put forth is so abundant that I wallow in confusion still. Which has the best distribution? Which gives the best payback to an author? Which is the most use-friendly? Should I upload to a combination of sites?

What has been your experience? What have you chosen to do and why?