Category Archives: business of writing

So-True Post: Some Hard Facts about Publishing

Soooo many books! Why write one more?
Soooo many books out there

Over at Writers in the Storm, guest blogger Tasha Seegmiller writes not to offer a “downer,” but instead, to help people align their expectations of writing a little better.”

This column reminded me how I’m constantly surprised by some of the questions aspiring writers ask on self-help Facebook sites. Yesterday, is grammar important? Today, should an author get a web site? This column offers some advice I think everyone hoping to publish needs.

Me included. Realizing that writing is a business—never a comfortable home territory for me—but also that it really has to be something you just can’t help doing: These are the reminders I need.

A while back, in answer to a post on the pros and cons of self- versus traditional publishing, I wrote “What It Was Like for Me,” an account of my own experiences being traditionally published. Even though my encounter with the realities of publishing happened quite a long time ago, I still found that Seegmiller’s take resonated. It was ever so, and I didn’t know enough then to negotiate this strange and daunting space.

Follow good blogs and wonderful people like @JaneFriedman. As Seegmiller says, educate yourself. So you’ll be more ready than I was.

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Filed under business of writing, inspiration for writers, looking for literary editors and publishers, Money issues for writers, Myths and Truths for writers, Publishing, writing novels

Questions to Ask Your Publisher Before You Sign the Contract – by Jane Friedman…

There are a few folks I consider treasures for the #writingcommunity. If you’re not familiar with Jane Friedman, take the time to learn about her. (And make sure you subscribe to Chris the Story Reading Ape, a terrific curator of posts we all can use.)

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

Over the weekend, you might have seen a writing-and-money topic trending on Twitter, #PublishingPaidMe, where authors started publicly sharing their advances. Such transparency is long overdue and—in this particular case—is meant to reveal stark differences between what Black and non-Black authors get paid.

Amidst these tweets, I saw a repeated call to action for Black authors: Before you agree to a deal, ask your publisher about their marketing and promotion plans for your book. Ask how they plan to support you.

Ask, ask, ask. (Because their support falls short of where it needs to be, and publishers have to be pushed.)

To assist with that call to action, I’ve collected and expanded information from my past books and articles to help authors ask questions of their potential or existing publisher. I’ve tried to also include indicators that will help you notice and challenge unhelpful answers. If you have an…

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New “Latest”: Internet Archive to End “Emergency Library”

If you haven’t been following this issue of interest to writers, you can catch up with posts on the Internet Archive and its practice of scanning and giving away copyrighted books for free, here and here. Claiming the cover of the pandemic, the IA actually expanded its practices by eliminating limits on the amount of time “borrowers” could keep books they download and other provisions. Last week, major publishers sued the Archive, and this headline on the Internet Archive’s response to the lawsuit popped up in my New York Times feed today.

Pirate ship coming for your books
Book pirates?

Note that the decision to end the “Emergency Library” supposedly designed to increase access during lockdowns does not affect the IA’s usual practices of buying a book, then scanning it and distributing it for free.

You will need to decide on your own to what extent you want to defend your own copyrights. I was able to get my republished ebooks taken off the IA, but I found that fighting the myriad other book pirates who either have or claim to have my books available for free was a losing effort. Is Neil Gaiman right that we might as well embrace the unauthorized distribution of free books?

One wrinkle I discovered is the existence of an international protocol that does authorize the distribution of free resources to print-disabled readers by appropriately designated sites. Whether IA is one of these appropriate sites is debatable.

The Victoria Strauss posts I link to provide takedown-notice templates and other ongoing discussions of this problem. I’ve linked as well to Chuck Wendig’s statement on the IA’s practices.

Use these resources in any way that works for you. Let me know what you decide.

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Filed under business of writing, Copyright for writers, Free Books, Money issues for writers, writing novels

Latest on Internet Archive/Copyright Infringement

With so much going on, don’t lose sight of what’s happening to your books. Not everyone agrees that having free books going out *freely* is bad for writers, but you at least need to be able to choose. Victoria Strauss again reports on the Internet Archive and its copyright infringement via its “Emergency Library”—now being challenged in court by major publishers. Her post on Writer Beware lists a number of past posts and resources. Check it out.

A digital eye on your text

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Filed under Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, business of writing, Copyright for writers, ebooks publishing and selling, Free Books, indie publishing, Marketing books, Money issues for writers, Self-publishing

Amazon Is NOT Your Publisher

I’ve also found that members of one of my writing groups struggle with this distinction between publishers, packagers, and distributors from Sarah Bolme. There’s also some great information about Amazon’s imprints. Enjoy!

Marketing Christian Books

I am surprised by the number of indie and self-published authors who tell me that the publisher of their book is Amazon, Kindle Direct Publishing, or IngramSpark.

Amazon is NOT your publisher.

It is clear to me that these authors do not understand the difference between an author, a publisher, and a publishing platform.

Authors and publishers have distinct jobs. These jobs are as follows:

Author’s job:

  • Write a manuscript
  • Engage in marketing to assist sales

Publisher’s job:

  • Edit the manuscript
  • Create a cover
  • Lay out the book
  • Secure a printer
  • Assign an ISBN
  • Access distribution for sales to retail and other channels
  • Engage in marketing to ensure sales

Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is neither an author or a publisher. It does not write, edit, lay out, or create a cover design for your book. What KDP offers are services.

They offer a cover design template, an ebook conversion program, printing, distribution for sales, and…

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More on Internet Archive’s “Emergency Library”: Are They Giving Away Your Books for Free?

This long piece from Publishing Perspectives provides detailed information about the debate over whether Internet Archive is within the law to copy or upload copyrighted material and give it away for free. Apparently the site’s latest ploy, an “Emergency Library” triggered by the COVID-19 situation, has attracted the attention of a Congressional committee, so changes may be coming.

A library shelf with many colorful books.

Within the Publishing Perspectives article is a link to an Authors Guild piece that contains directions for finding out if your books show up for free on Internet Archive as well as a form takedown notice you can use.

I’ve written before about my travails trying to find and challenge every rogue site that claimed to be selling my books; I came to agree with Neil Gaiman that just maybe, free books equal free publicity. I’d successfully claimed my rights to King of the Roses from IA, but had not searched their site for Blood Lies. This time around, though, I did feel motivated by this rather audacious behavior on IA’s part to search for both books. Couldn’t find either. So for now, I’m safe on that front.

However, each author must make their own decision about whether to leave their books in IA’s hands for the duration. The Publishing Perspectives piece gives you the information you need for your own choice.

Stack of many books

Check this post, too, to learn about the Marrakesh Treaty, which governs the provision of materials to people who are print-disabled. I was glad to learn about this. You might find it interesting.

Update me on what you decide, and how your actions work out.

 

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Filed under business of writing, Copyright for writers, Free Books, Money issues for writers, writing novels

How Should We Think about Book Piracy in the Age of COVID? Wendig’s Take.

Here’s Chuck Wendig’s take on the decision by Internet Archive (as he points out, already on the hook for stealing and distributing copyrighted work) to provide books for free even if they are, indeed, copyrighted because people need books more than ever now. Wendig’s piece provides not only his take, elaborating on a comment that aired in a show on NPR, but also links to a response from the IA, so you can decide what you think. There is also at least one comment that takes a different stance.

Pirate ship coming for your books

I first became aware of IA’s activities through Victoria Strauss’s indispensable Writer Beware. I tracked down one of my books on IA and sent a takedown notice; supposedly they honored my request. I shared my experience on this blog (link below), then subscribed briefly to a service that promised to find all such theft of my work.

Let me tell you, that was a waste of time. The app found instance after instance. In every single case I tried to track, it was impossible to file a takedown notice. There would be no contact information, no claim of ownership, no one to protest to. Possibly, with stronger computer skills and oodles of time, I could have found the culprits. Some of these sites had takedown-notice forms, but when I sent them, they returned error messages. Long story short, I gave up.

However, one notable outcome was an exchange with a poet who is print-disabled (in his case because of vision issues), who told me about the Marrakesh Treaty, which allows “allows authorized non-profit sites to post—without permission—works for “blind and print-disabled” persons.” This was new information for me, as I suspect it will be for others.

This link will take you to the one of the later posts in my sequence about Internet Archive and book piracy, back in early 2018; there’s a link in the post to the Marrakesh Treaty, and you can read the comments from my reader. All the posts are filed under “Copyright for Writers” and can be accessed by searching for “Internet Archive.”

In any case, I also found myself consoled by an argument from Neil Gaiman that book pirates are really just helping you find readers for your work. If that claim raises eyebrows, well, maybe it should. Or not. The post contains links to several back-and-forths on whether we should be up in arms or opening our arms.

This is a fraught issue in this time of the cholera, as Wendig’s discussion shows. I probably will adhere to my non-action process for now.

If only those freebie readers would leave reviews. . . .

 

 

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Filed under business of writing, Copyright for writers, ebooks publishing and selling, Free Books, Money issues for writers, writing novels

Here’s a List of Online Pitch Fests for 2020!

Book publishing success--butterflies hovering over an open book

Interested in trying out an online pitch via Twitter? Some people find this process rewarding. Here’s a list of pitch fest dates I just discovered on Victoria Strauss’s Writer Beware site (check out her warning about due diligence when responding to an agent or editor after an online pitch).

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If You Do Online Pitchfests—Writer Beware!

Here’s a warning from Victoria Stauss’s Writer Beware about the kinds of publishing predatorsmeeting an oncoming car on a dark road with a full moon overhead--navigate online pitchfests safely you may encounter at #PitMad or other digital pitching events. The sponsors of these events always encourage writers to check agents and editors carefully before submitting. Strauss’s example here contains plenty of red flags, but not all may be as transparent.

Thanks again to Writer Beware for keeping our eyes open.

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How to add categories to your book on Amazon

Big word "book" in "letterpress."

Wow! I’ve been waiting for this information for ages. Join me in trying it, and let me know how it works for you!

deborahjay

Have you ever noticed that some books seem to be in lots of Amazon categories, and not just the two KDP allows you to choose when you publish your book?

Did you know you can add your book to more categories simply by contacting KDP support? You can have it in up to 10 categories, making it much more likely people will come across it when they search their Amazon site.

But why would I want my book in more categories?

Put simply, the more categories your book shows up in, the more people will see your book on Amazon.

Your book will show up in every step of the category pathway, for example, if one category path for your book is:

Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks>Science Fiction and Fantasy>Fantasy>Action & Adventure

your book will show up in each of the categories mentioned. Ideally, you want your book to…

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Filed under Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, business of writing, ebooks publishing and selling, genres for writers, indie publishing, Marketing books, Publishing, Self-publishing, Tech tips for writers, writing novels