Monday, July 29, 2013

Why You Should Definitely Create a Paperback for Your eBook

I've observed, recently, that some authors don't bother creating paperback versions of their books. This surprised me, especially given that they were publishing in standard genres and not something that might merit such discretion (ie, erotica). Apparently, they felt that there wasn't enough potential for sales from that format to warrant the time needed to create the paperback file. While I’ll admit that some investment of time (and probably a little bit of $) is necessary, I’m still a bit boggled at the idea of not making the effort. I mean, if you were selling T-shirts, you wouldn't produce only one size. So, why would you not take advantage of a potential revenue stream by producing your book in only one format?

Because, gosh darn it, I'm worth it! ;)
My first novel (Multiples of Six) is now available in 3 different formats, thanks to recent work with ACX. And, while the audiobook was a bit of a bonus effort, I never had a doubt about creating the paperback version. In a world where ebooks are beginning to dominate, there is still a significant traditional readership market to be had. It might just be a matter of going out and getting them the old fashioned way, but that’s part of the fun!

I've probably given away as many paperbacks as I've sold. I’m hoping that changes this fall, but I won’t hold my breath. It’s not a big deal. To me, the paperback is a marketing tool for the independent author. It’s a means with which to put something tangible in readers’ hands. Some people need that. Some people need to see that stack of paper and the accompanying look in your eye that says “I've crafted something that I think you’ll like.” Only then are they willing to give it a shot.

There’s something also very personal about having a paperback copy of your book created. Sure, it sniffs a bit of the old vanity presses, but today's self-publishing is a completely different animal. You're an entrepreneur now. You worked hard to get where you are. And, even if you can count on two hands the number of paperbacks you've sold in two years (like I can), it’s a physical memento of what you've accomplished. It’s your trophy. That’s how I treat it, at least. I don’t expect anyone else to give me one, so I made one for myself.

Personally, I use CreateSpace for my paperbacks. While there is some monetary outlay at the beginning (cover creation, ISBN), additional cost is entirely up to the author. You can purchase copies at a significant discount and in any quantity you desire. My paperback is listed at $12.95 through Amazon and B&N and they regularly discount that at 10%. However, I can purchase for <7$, which allows me to discount the retail price and still make a little bit in the end. The quality is good, the shipping is usually timely, and their affiliation with Amazon makes it simple to link with the ebook.

If not publishing in multiple venues (eg, other than Amazon) is leaving money on the table, then publishing in a single format should be considered the same. In order to maximize your opportunity for income, you should leave no stone unturned. If you're on the fence about paperbacks, go for it. You'll be happy you did and you'll have a nice addition to your bookshelf.

I think the more formats, the better. What say you?

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Finishing a First Draft

It's coming... really.
Let's just say, I've got a sketchy track record of completing first drafts. When I first wrote Multiples of Six, it took me 5 years, on and off, to complete the first draft. But, during that time, I also managed to crank out a 63,000-word YA fantasy in a matter of 6 months (not published). So, when it came time to put together the first draft of Multiples follow up, Divisible by Six, I was feeling pretty confident. So confident, that I made promises of 6-10 months. That was obviously a mistake. Two years later, I'm finally finished with the first draft. Yeah, I might've oversold it by 18 months or so. My bad.

So, what is it about the thrillers that bogs me down? Well, right off the bat, it's a much more complicated plot scheme. Multiples had 2 distinct plot lines. Divisible ramps it up a notch with 4. Four plot lines that have to intertwine and come to a resolution (of sorts) by the end of book 2. It was a first for me. Most of the other stories I've written have been fairly straightforward linear plots from the perspective of 1 or 2 characters, tops. Four was a pretty big jump.

But, the mere complication of the plot wasn't what slowed me the most. You see, and it shames me to admit it but, I'm a lazy writer. Not in the sense of form and function, but in the sense that I need someone to stand over me and crack a whip. I'm too easily distracted and even more so when the writing doesn't come easy. I overcame this recently by finding a group (which I detailed in a past blog) to act as my whip. It's just a group that meets to sit and write, but it was exactly what I needed. It gave me two islands of time during the week in which to focus solely on my writing and it accelerated my completion time immensely.

Writing a novel is as much about story creation as it is about putting one word after another until it's finished. You can have brilliant ideas pouring out every orifice in your body, but unless you take the time to crank out the words, all you have are ideas that might be good stories. I definitely envy my colleagues who can regularly crank out a novel every six months. Maybe I'll get there some day. For now, I'm just content with the good things I've got going on. I'm looking forward to getting Divisible finished up soon and the trilogy's finale, Power of Six, started.

Have you struggled to finish that first draft? Would love to hear about your experience.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

A Return to Truly Social Networking

Isn't it redundant anyway?
Remember when the term "networking" had everything to do with being social, but nothing to do with online "social networks"? It wasn't that long ago (Friendster [Facebook's grandfather] started in 2002). Nowadays, though we appear to be "connected" to more people, for the most part, we are further away in terms of "connectedness." In my arsenal of connectivity, I have 2300 Twitter followers, 3600 Pinners following my boards, 317 Facebook fans, and 80+ blog followers. Now, assuming some overlap, there may be ~4k-5k folks I'm "connected" to. Out of that, there are perhaps two dozen I recognize immediately through various online networks (outside of friends and family, of course) and consider colleagues who converse and share thoughts. That's a pretty poor ratio, methinks, but probably not a rare one. We like connecting, but conversing and actually making a connection is a very different thing. Are you tired of it? Well, guess what? The old-fashioned method still works.

Who needs to network in person?! That's pretty much how I thought of it when I first self-published two years ago. At the time, I didn't think that actually rubbing elbows with fellow authors was anything more than self-congratulatory excess. It couldn't possibly produce the same results that being connected to thousands of followers could. And, until this year, I had done very little in terms of getting out and meetin my fellow authors.

Then, back in March, I stumbled across and found a local writers' group whose sole purpose was to get together and write. Plain and simple. It might sound strange, but it's exactly what I needed. A place to go and be surrounded by others quietly tapping away on their keyboards. I've met some wonderful folks and, in the process, was directed to another group of local authors.

The New Jersey Author Network is a group of traditionally- and self-published authors from around The Garden State. It's goal is to connect local authors with local reading groups and libraries. By doing so, it provide authors with opportunities to sit on discussion panels as well as potentially present on topics related to writing and publishing. It also seeks out book stores where authors may be able to have signing events. Membership is free and while there are members who are more active at pursuing opportunities, all members are encouraged to go out and create the kinds of events they want to attend.

Since joining a few months ago, I've attended one signing event, have another set for August, and will be conducting my first industry topic solo presentation in September. Outside of the group, I've also scheduled another two signing events for September and October. I've also agreed, tentatively, to be on an independent publishing panel in the Spring of 2014 (check out my schedule of upcoming events here). While most of these events are open to outsiders, the group has certainly made these opportunities more easily accessible. It has also inspired me to seek out potential opportunities at my local library.

So, get out there and rub a few elbows. Trust me, it won't take anything away from your "lone-wolf" author persona. As independent authors, we need to be open to as many networking opportunities as possible. Besides, you might meet some great people and, equally important, you might find some new channels through which you can market your writing.

Have your own story about traditional networking success? Please share!