Six Days Left to Nominate My Novel on Kindle Scout

Well, I’ve set out on this new adventure, dangling my new novel in the hybrid publishing arena called Kindle Scout. After six more days – May 15 – the experiment will be over and I’ll get to see how worthwhile it was.

You can nominate my novel HERE!

What could your nomination mean? It could help me land a publishing contract with Kindle Press. That’s pretty cool.

It remains to be seen if the Kindle Scout model will be a long term viable one or not. I’m sure the traditional publishing houses are watching it closely, as I’m sure they watch closely whenever Amazon does anything, seeing how Amazon is the juggernaut that has upset the whole industry.

It’s an interesting mix: the author is in charge of the editing and book design process while Kindle Press would be in charge of the publishing and marketing of the chosen books. The upside for authors is that they have pretty much final say concerning editorial issues. That gives the authors a lot of creative freedom, and I’m pretty sure every author loves that.

The royalties through Kindle Press are at 50%, smaller than if an author self-publishes, but most likely that would be a non-issue with supposed increased sales easily making up the difference and then some.

For an author like myself, there very little downside in going the route of Kindle Scout. I suppose the downside would not being chosen for publishing, but that would simply be a minor setback, and only a pause of 45 days in the grand scheme of things – a small price to pay for a chance to land the deal.

Either way it’s good news, because this book I’m excited about is going to be released this summer one way or another.

Get ready, everyone. “A Love Story for a Nation” is almost here. Please check it out on Kindle Scout.

ALoveStoryforaNation Cover LARGE

An Indie Author Ready for the Future of Publishing

Literary agent Andrew Lownie in THIS article recently stated that he believes that nearly 75% of published books within then next 5-10 years will be self-published. This announcement has certainly turned the writing blog-o-sphere on its nose with both excitement and scorn. Of course, this is mere conjuncture, but even the pronouncement has some broad and interesting ramifications. First off, this is from a literary agent who understands the workings of the traditional publishing field, and, clearly, he sees it as in decline. Even if the claims are vastly overstated, it serves as an illustration that more and more traditional publishers are going to stick to tried and true formats with tried and true authors. It will be even more difficult for unknown authors to be discovered.

However, will being discovered even matter anymore? Self-published authors will need to build themselves up, establishing their own author brand and inching into the readers’ consciousness. There won’t be discoveries any more but rather breakthroughs, like what we see currently when an indie author finally finds a large audience. It’s happening more and more, and the squeeze on the traditional publishers must be troubling to those who still have large conference rooms with mahogany tables.

Recently, I was reading about an indie author has has broken-through and sold several hundred thousand books up to this point. He went on to say that, before he had a large following, he wasn’t interested in spending years trying to find a literary agent and then finally getting a poor advance on a publishing deal. In his mind, the hours and rewards of a traditional publishing deal just aren’t worth it anymore. He kept writing, went indie, and made it.

I can identify with that – except the ‘made it’ part – not yet! But there more and more compelling reasons not to put in a tremendous amount of time trying to find an agent and trying to break into traditional publishing. Perhaps serious self-published authors will find it to be more to their benefit to concentrate on their writing, write great books, meet readers on-line, network, write more great books, be available, build your platform, and strive forward in the work you love to do.

The market is moving in our favor, but nothing will ever be handed to us. And that’s a message I take personally. I am devoted to being the best writer I can, and to tell the very best stories that I have within me. I hope there are readers out there who enjoy coming along for the ride because this indie author is ready for the future of publishing.

I am not chaff. I am a serious writer, thank you.

Elitism always frowns on democratization.

I was reading an article which quoted two well-known mainstream authors, who gave their thoughts on the changing face of the publishing industry. One of them said that the traditional publishing model – with all our familiar and well-loved gatekeepers including literary agents and publishing executives (wait, scratch that “well-loved” comment) – was necessary to, and I quote, “separate the wheat from the chaff”.

This smacks of elitism, does it not?

First, let me say that I am not offended or threatened by that comment at all. People can say whatever they want about indie writers who skirt around the traditional publishing model to fulfill their life-long dreams. I’ll just politely disagree.

Second, I am not chaff. Here are the reasons I am not chaff.

I’m not chaff because chaff flies away in the wind and is never heard from again. Well, sorry, super-talented-top-of-the-line author, but your metaphor fell flat on its face. Indie authors aren’t going away. In fact, you’ll be hearing a lot more from us. Smashwords has predicted that 50% of book sales by 2020 will be from indie authors. That’s sounding a lot like wheat, not chaff. Even if their numbers are a little skewed, the trend is undeniable.

Another reason I’m not chaff: I’m a serious writer. I approach my craft with as much dedication and care as anyone. I may have a day job, but writing is not a casual pursuit. I didn’t become a writer because, “Hey, now anyone can be a published author.” No. I write because I am compelled to write. I write because I am full of stories, and as long as I have stories, I’m going to write them down. Writing is not a vain pursuit. I, too, craft stories, and I wrestle with characters and fret over plots. I think of symbolism and foreshadowing. I have a voice. I have creative thoughts. I have a passion. I am an indie writer.

I can’t speak for every indie writer. I suppose there are all kinds of them who write for a million different purposes. I suppose some wish for fame and money. I would imagine some craft their stories better than others. For whatever reason people write, there is finally a leveling of the playing field that enables readers to have unprecedented choice. This is what is getting the traditional higher-ups all in an uproar.

When Miss Hot-Shot Writer goes to the store to buy something, does she prefer a limited selection or a wide variety? I think we know the answer to this. The book world is no different. Choice is a good thing. It’s the democratization of the book industry. It is putting power in the hands of the readers, and they are, more and more, choosing books which are quality reads at affordable prices. No longer are readers forced to buy $27 hardcover copies or wait a year for the “cheaper” paperback variety. The only people I see complaining about this are those who want you to buy that $27 hardcover.

You can call me ‘chaff’ if you want. I don’t mind. But I’m not the one bemoaning a change. That chaff just might miraculously grow roots and pull off the unexpected. Everyone will be better for it.


What are Traditional Publishers doing to Promote their Talent?

Every once in a while, I like to look at books or authors on-line and try to determine what marketing and promotion approach that they are taking.  I like to see how well their books are selling and try to guess why they have or have not been successful.

I came across an author I was not familiar with who just released his third novel a few months ago via Penguin.  He previously had a hit book (or at least semi-successful) with a different publisher, so I was curious how he was doing with his new gig.

His new novel has been out for 4+ months, it has only 3 reviews on Amazon, it’s sales on Amazon are dismal and its Kindle selling price is over $12 per ebook.

Am I missing something here?

What actually is Penguin doing for this author? Are they even promoting the book at all? What’s the point of signing someone on and then not putting all one’s resources behind the book launch. Shouldn’t a traditional publisher have all the where-withal to get the word out and sell books?

Like I said, am I missing something?  Perhaps I am. Maybe they don’t want to sell books through Amazon?

Actually, seeing what is happening to this author makes me proud to be an indie author. I get the fruits of my labor – however big or small that may be. I get as much out of it as I put into it. The options are limitless, the rights are all mine as are the decisions of when to release, what to release, and at what price point.

I’m not talking down the traditional publishers. They have their own way of doing business and they make money how they want to.

But at the moment, I’m glad to be independent. It doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t ever listen to any offer if a traditional publisher came by. What’s the harm in listening, right?

But I’m happy to move forward doing things my own way.

Go indie!

Finding the Right Book Title

Some book titles just write themselves; they are so obvious that there could be no other title which would mean as much.

My novella was about a spy named Blue. Super easy title: Spy Blue

My first novel was titled after the translated meaning of one of the main characters, plus served as a symbolic backdrop for the unfolding life of Martin. Title: Beauty Rising

My second novel is about a recluse storyteller. Title: The Recluse Storyteller

My third novel ….. I don’t know what to title it. I have one possible title I’m toying with, but it has certain connotations which I’m not sure would be attractive to all readers. Another title was suggested, but I’ve discovered at least three other novels with the same title. I don’t want to do that.  My third and fourth ideas aren’t very appealing either.

Honestly, the cover and title must sell it to the reader immediately no matter how unfair that might seem. I always thought Hemingway chose the best titles for his books –  To Have and Have Not; For Whom the Bell Tolls (quote from John Donne); The Sun Also Rises (from Ecclesiastes); etc … always memorable, quotable with a literary quality about them.

Traditional publishers typically have the final say of what a title will be based on what they think will connect with the audience. Here’s an interesting anecdote concerning the novel Shoeless Joe which was turned into the film Field of Dreams. (BTW, you can learn more about the naming of the movie by getting the 10th Anniversary DVD which has a wonderful from script to film special about the movie.) When the movie was getting close to being released, the focus groups told the producers that they didn’t like the name. They thought it was confusing and was about a homeless guy or something like that. They had no idea it was about Shoeless Joe Jackson, the famous baseball player who helped throw the 1919 World Series. So the producer approached novelist W.P. Kinsella and told him that he was sorry but they needed to change the name of the movie. The novelist said in surprise that it was OK, because the publisher was actually the one that gave it the name Shoeless Joe. Then the producer asked him what the original name was. He said “Dream Field.” A match made in heaven – Field of Dreams was born.  (This also shows that you shouldn’t mess with writers)

So here’s hoping as I put the finishing touches on the novel and try to distill the themes and plot into a quotable phrase that something perfect will jump out at me.

Writers and Restaurateurs: Same Same

A restaurateur requested of some patrons to add their honest restaurant reviews to Trip Advisor to help build word about the relatively new restaurant. Hmmm. There must be a parallel between restaurants and writing. Let’s explore.

Imagine if there was a industry-wide restaurant review system where a group of food raters would tell the entrepreneurs if their food was good enough with which to open a restaurant? What if a wannabe restaurateur had to submit each dish to the committee for them to taste and approve and then only a small percentage, completely at the discretion of the committee, would be allowed to sell to the public?

Of course this sounds ridiculous. Who are these raters to tell people what they will like or what should be offered to sell in a restaurant?

But isn’t this exactly how the traditional publishing industry has been controlling the written word all along? There are the experts, the publishers, the agents, the editors who exclusively have the knowledge about what will sell and what won’t, about what is good writing and what isn’t.

In a restaurant, the ‘proof is in the pudding’ so to speak. If a patron has good food and a good experience, then word will spread, notwithstanding some hoity-toity newspaper food critic. Taste and experience is supreme.

Much to the chagrin of the stiff-coats at the traditional publishers who snub their noses at most fledgling writers, that’s also the new way of the publishing industry.  Writers no longer have to jump through hoops, but they can take their ‘wares’ directly to the ‘consumers’ and if it’s tasty, then they have a success on their hands.

Let the people decide! Let the restaurant patrons decide if a restaurant will sink or float.

Let the readers decide if an author is worth reading or not.

What a great time to be a writer!

Which restaurant tonight?