Posts in "publishing" category

10 Crowdfunding Platforms for Writers

CrowdfundingforWritersWhy not get people to support you while you write your book, instead of waiting until afterwards? 

This is called crowdsourcing or crowdfunding, depending on whether you are using the crowd for money or for support. 

But how does one go about crowdsourcing? There are many ways and the steps are simple.

First, determine what kind of “crowd” is right for you. Consider your readers, Facebook friends, LinkedIn connections, or any other group who is ready to help you flesh out new creative content. For instance, if you are looking to grasp your reader’s attention, you might consider reaching out to authors and/or bloggers in your genre who would offer you insight.

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How to Get Your Novel Published (And Spark Bidding Wars)

How to get publishedCongratulations! You’ve put together a wonderful collection of words, and now comes the scary part: can you get it published?

Unfortunately, there’s no simple 5-step plan to publication, but there are great guidelines that I’m going to reveal to you that will help you on your way.

Pick Your Sub-Genre and List “Comps”

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20 Independent Publishers Who Won Literary Awards

The BestIndepdentPublishersMany writers, after having published a book with a big house, prefer to publish with independent publishers. You get more individualized attention with independent publishers, and you don’t get lost in a huge cog of a corporate machine.

In fact, there are actually many reasons as to why looking for an independent book publisher might be the better option. For example:

  • Potentially shorter process
  • More creative control
  • Higher Royalties

If that doesn’t convince you, here are 20 independent publishers who are very successful and won literary awards.

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33 Writing Contests for Teens (Publication & Cash)

PRACTICEIn a world where J.K. Rowling’s manuscript of “Harry Potter” was rejected 12 times and Kathryn Stockett’s manuscript of “The Help” was rejected 60 times, it can be easy to become despondent about publishing your fiction, even more so for teenage writers aching to voice their thoughts to the world.

However, there’s an abundance of writing competitions year round for teens and writing contests for high school students  — you just need to know where to look. 

Here, I compiled a list of 33 writing contests for teens. Genres include: fiction, poetry, nonfiction, screenplays, and plays.

Some of these contests may sound like the competition is too stiff, especially if the organization receives thousands of submissions every year. But speaking from personal experience, you never know unless you try. Rejections will pile up for young authors, but so will acceptances accompanied by whoops and fist pumps.

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Publishing: Editors Speak Out at the LA Times Festival of Books

Publishers at Festival of Books  I'm here at the Publishing: Editors Speak Out panel at the LA Times Festival of Books. All of us in the front row are laughing, because it feels like we're in an orchestra pit — the stage is that elevated in Broad 2160.

I'm a bit fearful because publishing panels can turn into zombie attacks — all the unpublished authors storm the gates and try to use their dull pitches to tear into the flesh of the poor defenseless publishers. I've already been accosted by several of the Desperate, as my media badge works like blood in the water. "This needs attention," one woman said, and handed me a piece of paper the size of a stamp. Great pitch, wow, I'll make sure to look up info on that book.

The panel is moderated by Sara Nelson, Books Director at Oprah magazine, and the publishers are Eli Horowitz of McSweeney's, Sarah Crichton of Sarah Crichton Books, an imprint of FSG, and Jack Shoemaker, editorial director at Counterpoint, where he's edited such authors as Wendell Berry.

The panel started with Nelson asking how many writers were in the audience, or people with a book. Virtually everyone raised their hands.

The discussion started with the responsibility of editors.

Jack Shoemaker: "The best editor can adopt the voices of the writers they edit."

Sarah Crichton: "The editor must be an advocate in-house — with the marketing department, especially."

Eli Horowitz: "Even if I know I'm going to accept something, I'm going to call the writer and pretend I'm indecisive to see how they''re going to work with me."

Eli Horowitz: "[Authors] do like being edited, but they don't like being caught in the machine. Editor should constantly be deflating their author's expectations."

Then the conversation turned to discussing the role of time in publishing.

Jack Shoemaker: "The publishing house is working too fast these days, publishing too many books."

Jack Shoemaker: "Books are getting fatter, and that's because editors don't have enough time to edit." 

Reminds me of the quote from Mark Twain: "I would have written you a shorter letter, but I didn't have the time." It always takes more time to write shorter things, and we often don't take that time.

Jack Shoemaker got interviewed by Narrative Magazine, and he complained they didn't edit it. He was expecting a draft, and instead they online medicine onhealthy just published the whole thing verbatim, taking up lots of space on the internet. "Things can always be made better by shortening them."

On Technology:

Sara Nelson: "Nobody on this panel believes that technology is the end of publishing. But it is changing the way we publish."

Eli Horowitz, on why they haven't done e-books: They try to make an object that people want to own. "We don't want to make an uglier, more disposable version of [the book]."

Sarah Crichton: "In five years, 50% percent of our sales will be through Kindle, Nook." 

Jack Shoemaker disagreed: "Actually Random House thinks 20% will be electronic in 5 years."

Jack Shoemaker: "We used to think 28 minute attention spans would mean people would read more short stories. Now people can barely read jacket copy or captions for a photograph. The electronic book is like an item in the Sky Catalog, like the dog bed warmer. The relationship of a Kindle to good reading is like the relationship between an inflatable sex doll and good sex." He added, "But if I was buying graphic novels or comics right now, I would be enormously excited about the iPad."

Audience Question — How do I get a book published?

Eli Horowitz: "You have to send the manuscript to us." (laughter)

Sarah Chichton: "I've never signed someone who didn't have an agent or who wasn't referred by one of our existing authors or who I didn't know personally."

Jack Shoemaker on the odds for getting a book published: "We received 14,000 submissions, and we published 2 over-the-transom books."

Eli Horowitz: "For us it's about half — half agented, half un-agented."

Audience Question — How necessary is it to have a platform?

Sarah Crichton: "90% of people in New York say you need a platform. But I think the best platform is a great book."

Jack Shoemaker: "I like platforms better than 'brands.' Brands just makes me think of cows."

Eli Horowitz: "I would say that it's the most important thing."

Sara Nelson: "But there's no such thing as a platform in fiction. It's mostly for nonfiction."

Audience Question — How much do you pay attention to the cinematic marketplace?

Jack Shoemaker: "Whenever we publish a book we get about 12 queries from people optioning for the movies."

Sarah Crichton: "It only works for certain genres. YA works very well, like Gossip Girl."

LA Weekly

LAWeeklyBIGI used to enjoy the LA Weekly on a regular basis — consult it for book readings, check out the interviews of literary folk and/or original fiction in its pages, find out how local politicians were squandering money and cultivating corruption. But alas, as Marc Cooper describes in great detail in LA Weekly: The Autopsy Report, the paper is falling on hard times. Or rather, it has taken a long slide down the crapshoot.

Don’t read the report — no, seriously, do not click that link — unless you care about weeklies, LA Weekly in particular, you have a strong enough stomach for publishing woes, and you aren’t afraid of an extended behind-the-scenes history of the magazine.

Quotes of the Day

The New York Times has an lively, quote-filled and entertaining article in the recently created genre of Depress-Lit: All terrible news about the publishing industry, all the time. It’s “Puttin’ Off the Ritz: The New Austerity in Publishing.”

What amused me were the quotes. The first, from the literary agent Amanda Urban, who represents Cormac McCarthy and Toni Morrison:

“Books can only support a certain retail price,” she said. “It’s not like you have books that can be Manolo Blahniks and books that can be Cole Haan. Books are books. A book by James Patterson costs the same as a book by some poet.”

Did anyone else find it funny that “some poet” is tossed in so dismissively at the end? I’m not a poet or the son of a poet, but I think it’s very telling that the novelist Patterson gets generic canadian pharmacy named, while “some poet” is thrown in anonymously, effectively grouping everyone in the genre as unknown. Which, granted, is somewhat true (excepting Billy Collins). But still amusing.

Second, this one from Robert S. Miller, president and publisher of HarperStudio:

“‘The two biggest sucking sounds on profits in our business are on advances and returns,’ said Robert S. Miller.”

Returns? Returns I understand. It costs a ton in shipping and pulping. But categorizing what you pay authors — who provide the product that the business is based upon — as a “sucking sound on profits” is either bad faith or terrible judgment when speaking to a reporter. Now yes, I understand that Miller meant guarding against enormous advances that are not recouped, but please, speaking as an author, I would prefer not to be labeled a sucking sound of any kind.

Everyone Can Do More (Much More)

Wonderful discussion about the multi-faceted responsibilities of the writer/reader going on at Blake Butler’s blog, the Ploughshares blog, and Emerging Writers Network. Lots of reader commentary, so go read and add your two cents.

New Publishing Routes Are Really Quite Old

So HarperCollins made big news with the creation of a new division that is trying out “new” techniques in selling hardcover books. The most salient news is that they’ll eliminate advances in favor of higher royalties on the back end. Read: a kind of profit-sharing. From what I know of corporate accounting, though, mostly through the movie industry, is that when corporations promise money on the back end, authors should smile nicely, then try to grab as much as possible as soon as possible. Because it’ll all be fuzzy math. What makes me so suspicious is that some sources have reported that the profits will be split 50/50. To go from 15% to 50% sounds dubious enough to have all kinds of catches and caveats hidden in the small print. Nonetheless, if the math could be worked out properly, and a more realistic rate such as 20% was offered, then this wouldn’t be a disaster for writers.

But despite the media hoopla, this no-advance-but-higher-royalties stratagem is hardly new. In terms of the whole financial spectrum of how authors are reimbursed, small presses operate on a similar plane: miniscule to very small advances, with standard royalty rates. Or, for another example, go to mid-level publisher, MacAdam/Cage. MacAdam/Cage offers non-existent or extremely small advances, yet does a wonderful job promoting their authors and ushering them through their career. While MacAdam/Cage’s inner financial cogs and wheels aren’t entirely visible to an outsider, their model seems to be working quite well both for authors and publishing house. So the only thing real news is that a major publisher is adopting this route.

My only complaint is that it didn’t come sooner. In the broad sense of things, this advance-reducing move is the appropriate counter-measure for an industry that began by offering sensible advances but yet in the last few decades has escalated into offering inflated numbers to land writers of dubious marketability and talents. I would guess that this current pendulum swing will be too far — that in order to counter gigantic advances, advances will shrink too far — but I still argue that smaller advances across the board, rather than a culture of poverty-or-superstar-writer, would benefit, in the long run, the mid-list writers.

One other proposal of the new HarperCollins division is to stop giving chains money for advantageous placement of books — a practice online pharmacy usa that essentially amounts to a bribe to place the book on the round table at the front instead of hiding it in the general section. Yes, please stop it, yes, please yes. Please stop this senseless waste of money. This is one of the more despicable practices in the publishing industry, one that rewards well-funded but often mediocre books, and creates a culture teaching the importance of baksheesh rather than the importance of quality. Spend the money on any other kind of marketing, anything but this. [Sidenote: I think it would be wonderful for laws to be passed that alert consumers, something like a mandatory sign at those round tables in chains that warn that the books here are only present because publishers paid the big bucks, and that their placement does not confer any kind of notion of quality, and certainly not that any employee actually read and enjoyed the book.]

The last proposal is to stop accepting remaindered books. This seems like a great idea — for publishers, although not for booksellers — and although I have no idea how they would get books into stores without offering to remainder them, they can go ahead and give it a try. They’ll most likely give up within a few months or a few titles.

What I really want, as a writer, is to have my work read. It would be depressing to receive a huge advance and then to have sales flop. It would also make it extremely difficult to sell a second novel. So overall, I’m in favor of a model that offers small to moderate advances with decent royalties. My only fear is that with no royalties, publishers would feel even more free to abnegate their responsibilities as gatekeeper and simply publish a huge number of novels and see what flies. But the costs of copy-editing, setting and printing still would represent some kind of investment, and, in addition to that, the expenses of marketing. If the publisher is willing to properly fund the marketing of the book, then that is the biggest signal that they believe in it. The only larger gesture of belief would be . . . well, a huge advance.

UPDATE: The Millions also points out that on the British side of things, MacMillan New Writing has a similar business plan.