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Author Nancy J. Cohen discusses the writing process and life as a Florida resident.

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Posts Tagged ‘Nancy Cohen’

Author Collaborations

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on November 21, 2014

Author Collaborations
Novelists, Inc. Conference St. Pete Beach Oct. 2014

A collaboration might consist of a single book containing a bundle of novels or novellas by different authors. The main benefit is that more experienced authors will draw attention to newer authors. It’s a cost-effective way to produce a print version of shorter works. Promotional duties will be shared among the authors. And you can learn the indie publishing process along the way.

Consider the following in drawing up an agreeement:

Distribution of royalty: How will the money be split and on what basis?
Production costs: What will each author chip in?
Format: E-book? Print? Who decides?
Distribution channels: Who decides which book retailers/outlets?
Exit strategy: How can an author withdraw?
Termination date for bundle: When will it be taken off the market?
Who administers each vendor account? Ideally, each writer should have password access.
Will you set up an LLC or Corporation? This could protect against lawsuits.
Can a single author sell her book outside of the bundle, or does the bundle have exclusive rights?
Who coordinates promo efforts?
Who spends how much on publicity?
Who controls the bank account?
Who issues 1099’s or payroll expenses? Who keeps and distributes these records?
Will the group hire an accountant?
Who is the backup for the prime member?
Is the bank account accessible to other members? It should be.
Do members wish to see copies of receipts?
Who gets the vendor reports? Every author should get one.
Will each author forgo publishing new works within a certain period of time to avoid competition? Or will new works outside of the bundle be allowed without restriction?
Will the bundle be copyrighted? If so, who will register or own this copyright? The LLC or Corporation can own it if you have one. If a book bundle is copyrighted under a Corporation, you’ll want to mention that, upon dissolution, the copyright for each respective title is assigned to the individual authors.
Who owns the cover art? Who can use the cover art?
How will disputes be handled– through mediation, arbitration, or lawsuit? And in which state?
If your book is pirated, will it be dealt with or ignored? Who will be responsible?
Will you get media or publisher peril insurance? If you don’t have an LLC or Corporation, you can get this but it can be difficult to obtain.
Consider that if a bunch of books is written by different authors under one pseudonym, all the authors could be sued under that name.

An author spoke about her box set. She had a one-page letter of agreement with her partners. She advises you to determine your goals. Is it to hit a bestseller list? Or do you wish to raise publicity for your book? What is the term limit for your box set? How much will it be priced for? What are the consequences if one member wishes to withdraw? In her case, the person withdrawing would pay for reformatting unless more than half of the members wanted out. They decided who would report sales and when, who would collect money and pay them their portion. They decided that all members would make decisions together. They agreed on a price to pay for ads. Disbandment was set for 45 days after the book went on the market. One concern she mentioned is that if the person who manages the money puts funds into her personal account, who else has access?

Publishing each other’s work in a co-op is another type of collaboration. Book View Café was cited as an example.

Regarding box sets, you need to determine the order involved. The first and last titles are premium. Should they be listed alphabetically, or should the bestselling author get the top spot? Are you allowed to sell your books individually if they’re in a box set with other authors? Are they going to be backlist titles or new titles?

Thinking these things through and discussing them with your partners ahead of time will avoid conflict down the road.

Do you have any considerations to add?

 

Posted in Business of Writing, Conferences, Self-Publishing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Literary Estate Planning

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on November 18, 2014

Literary Estate Planning
Novelists, Inc. Conference St. Pete Beach Oct. 2014

Copyright is for life of the author plus 70 years. You have physical assets as well as digital assets. Be aware that it can be a violation of federal or criminal laws for friends or family members to take over your online accounts. Think about what happens not only when you die, but also if you become disabled.

If you’ve done nothing and you die, the state will have an intestate succession. The statute says who inherits your assets. Your options are to gift your intellectual property, copyrights, and physical assets in your will.

Your literary attorney can work as a consultant with your family estate lawyer. If you grant items to people in your will, the recipient gets everything. Who can step into your shoes when the time comes?

An alternative is to set up a legal or corporate entity. An LLC, S or C Corporation are the options. The corporate entity could have perpetual existence. If the Corporation owns the copyright, it can affect the term of copyright.You could make your children the shareholders. But then they would run the company. Can they manage it all in agreement with each other? A third choice, and the best one, is to create a trust. You can separate the management from the revenue. The trust would be managed for the benefit of your beneficiaries. You can assign one person as trustee to manage the following, which are examples only:

Published books
Unpublished manuscripts
Rights to hire editors and other ancillary help
Management of digital assets
Rights to negotiate contracts and subsidiary rights (as well as the right to refuse offers)

This allows your identity, as the author, to continue. The trustee does not have to be the beneficiary but then he should be compensated. There are tax consequences if the trustees are the beneficiaries. It’s also important for you to have an inventory. List your book titles, contracts, termination dates, agent information, revenue sources, and location of assets. Joint works need to be explained, and you should have a written agreement with collaborators. Consider contracts with cover designers. Do you own the covers to reuse as desired?

In a trust or will, it shouldn’t be so detailed as to list individual titles. It should be broader and more encompassing to cover intellectual property. Authorize the trustee to hire an agent, formatter, publicity person, cover designer, etc. Set up a procedure for beneficiaries to select new trustees so the trust can continue.

Any publisher will freeze your account upon your death. The executor needs to provide court documentation that he is authorized to collect money. But for digital property, this might not work. Federal laws make it difficult for a third party to take over your digital accounts. Only nine states have statutes to deal with this issue. So appoint a person in your will or trust to access and manage your digital accounts. You’ll also want a power of attorney in case you are disabled.

Put the bank account where your royalties go into your trust, and put the trust name on the bank account. For a DBA, put this in your will or trust as an asset to be passed on.

If you donate your materials to a library or school, talk to them to make sure they have adequate resources to preserve your collection.

Note: Any errors in this article are due to my interpretation. This post does not constitute legal advice. Please consult your own literary attorney for your personal situation.

Contest Alert

Last Day! Win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card or free ebooks from Booklover’s Bench authors in our November contest: http://bookloversbench.com/contest/

1000 Thriller Giveaway: Enter to win a new book every week for a year: http://www.thebigthrill.org/1000-thrillers/

HANGING BY A HAIR is up for a Readers Choice BTS Red Carpet Book Award in the Mystery category. Check it out and vote here: http://btsemag.com/redcarpet/2014_ReadersChoice_Mystery.html

Posted in Business of Writing, Conferences, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

Amazon Independent Publishing at Ninc

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on November 13, 2014

Empowering Authors with Amazon Independent Publishing
Novelists, Inc. Conference Day 2, St. Pete Beach Oct. 2014

Several representatives from Amazon Independent Publishing spoke at the Novelists, Inc. Conference. They said they’ve seen consistent growth in print and Kindle books over the past few years. The Kindle growth curve exceeds print. This is a global trend as well. The adaptation to digital, when it occurs, happens fast across the world. The percentage of books sold online compared to brick-and-mortar stores is rising steadily.

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Digital creates discovery through dedicated e-book readers. Kindle owners buy four times more books than before they owned one. “What’s old is new again.” Digital creates incremental demand. We release older titles, and Kindle sales of all our books increase along with print editions. In 2013, there was 90% device ownership in the U.S. with 32% of these being e-readers and 42% being tablets.

At a bookstore, you have to worry about how your book is placed and where customers can find it on the shelf. Online, you’re concerned with how customers hear about and find your books. How can your book stand out against other content? Books have to compete against all other entertainment products and pricing. So how can we grow the mind-share of people who read books?

What’s next? Global marketplaces are another focus. So are opening Kindle stores based on local experience. Reading experiences such as Kindle Voyager and Kindle reading apps. To drive discovery, we have Amazon Author Central, Goodreads, Kindle Daily Deal, and Kindle Countdown Deal.

The Author Experience
Ease-of-use with KDP, Createspace, and Audible
Better tools with a pricing tool and now a Kids Book Creator
Reimagined content through Kindle Worlds and Kindle First Day One
Author lifestyle support with Kindle Scout, WriteOn, APub, indie platforms

The Customer Experience
New models such as Kindle Unlimited
Wider functionality such as #AmazonCart
Global and Local

KDP
Benefits are that it’s easy to enroll, fast to market, global reach. Author maintains control, retains full rights, keeps up to 70% royalty. You can use KDP to publish in territories where you have the rights. The new reporting dashboard launched in February. An order is different from a sale that has cleared the bank. You can retrieve up to 90 days of data. The pricing tool suggests how much you should price your book based on various data.

Pre-order means you can promote your book up to 90 days before the launch. This helps to build sales rank. You should put a link to the next book in your series at the back of the book if possible. 10 days before, you must present the final file. There is a three day block out period prior to launch where you can’t make any further changes.

Series Promotion
Improved search and browse feature.
Be sure to put your info in the metadata.
New series landing pages for the whole series so you can see your books in order.
The next in series will appear as a buy button on devices at the book’s end.

KDP Select means you can attain higher royalties, reach new audiences, participate in special promotions. This includes the Kindle Lending Library, Kindle Countdown Deal, Kindle Unlimited. KDP books do hit the bestseller lists. Authors get paid from a global fund and can earn All-Star bonuses.

Kindle Daily Deal leads to 3000 times more sales. There’s a lasting effect. One day later, there is 110 times sales. At seven days, it’s 18 times sales. At fourteen days, it’s 5 times more sales, and at thirty days, it is 4 times more sales.

On the Kindle Countdown Deal, you get up to seven promo days. The book must be at least one dollar off the list price. There’s a countdown clock on your Amazon book page. Your book is also listed on the KCD landing page and it’s based on ranking where your book appears.

Kindle Unlimited costs consumers $9.99 per month, and this includes audio books. The Kindle Matchbook program means if you buy the new print book, you can buy the Kindle book for $2.99 or less.

Createspace offers global reach, 24/7 customer service, Kindle conversion, industry-leading royalties, free Cover Creator tool, forums, blogs, articles and videos as publishing resources. Professional services of editors and designers are available if needed. Your share of the list price: Createspace 80%; Amazon 60%; Expanded Distribution 40%–all minus a manufacturing fee.

How to Maximize your Success: Use Metadata. This can consist of keywords in terms of genres and categories that are visible at the bottom of the Kindle detail page. This metadata should be consistent across all locales.

Your Amazon Author Central page includes a book list with cover images, author photo, bio, Twitter and blog feed, videos that you upload. Readers will also see recommendations for similar authors. You can get your sales data and ranking on Author Central. Make sure your books are on Goodreads and you have an active presence there.

How to Get Reviews? Offer promotions such as permafree, KCD, etc. Publish in multiple formats, i.e. print, e-book, audio.

Author Platform: Keep up with Goodreads, Amazon Author Central, social media, email lists. Consult with other authors on ways to attract readers.

Note: Any errors in this article are due to my interpretation.

CONTEST ALERT

Win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card or free ebooks from Booklover’s Bench authors in our November contest: http://bookloversbench.com/contest/

1000 Thriller Giveaway: Enter to win a new book every week for a year: http://www.thebigthrill.org/1000-thrillers/

HANGING BY A HAIR is up for a Readers Choice BTS Red Carpet Book Award in the Mystery category. Check it out and vote here: http://btsemag.com/redcarpet/2014_ReadersChoice_Mystery.html

 

Posted in Business of Writing, Conferences, Contest, Marketing, Self-Publishing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Changes in Publishing: Who Will Survive?

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on November 10, 2014

Hugh Howey: The Publishing World is Changing. How Can You Keep Up?
Novelists, Inc. Conference Day 2, St. Pete Beach Oct. 2014

Hugh Howey began his presentation by showing slides on “A history of storytelling.” The order goes this way:

Oral tradition
Written tradition
The first cubicle workers, i.e. monks transcribing by hand
Movable type
Offset and digital in 1990
Electronic publishing 2007

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He recommends reading “The Storytelling Animal.”

Bar codes revolutionized sales in that data could be tracked. This led to massive discounting. In 1995, Amazon went live. In 2014, indie bookstores see a 20% growth in openings since 2007.

Book selling is like the game: scissors, paper, rock. You have the big-box chains, online retailers, and indie bookstores. Amazon beats the chains. Indies beat Amazon on their location, curation, and community. Publisher profits have risen, but digital is subsidizing print. Business costs and author royalties for digital are much less for publishers and their profit margin is up. So digital is saving publishers, and Amazon is saving indie bookstores.

There’s less downtime between reads for readers. They want immediate downloads. The guilt of the TBR pile is gone. Clutter is no longer a dissuasion for buying more books.

Digital includes e-books, audio, and print-on-demand books. “I can’t stress enough how crazy audio is, and that’s part of digital.”

Three variables determine author income: the number of titles sold, the price of the title, and the author royalty rate.

Romance is the bestselling book genre in terms of author earnings. Mysteries and thrillers are next.

Self-published royalties surpass traditionally published royalties. Digital is about 70% of the market. 40% of print sales now are on Amazon, not including print-on-demand.

The top 20 Amazon bestsellers in each category:
Mystery/thriller: 4 audio, 1 hardcover, 1 paperback, 14 e-books
Science fiction/fantasy: 5 audio, 15 e-books, no print
Romance: 20 e-books
Fiction/literature: 4 audio, 1 hardcover, 1 paperback, 14 e-books
History: 2 audio, 7 hardcover, 4 paperback, 7 e-books
Teen: 1 hardcover, 5 paperbacks, 14 e-books

Publishers are more profitable as the cost of production and distribution has gone to nearly zero. Big bookstores are going under while Indies take more of the market share. Expectation and output paths are converging, such as author platform and professional book production. The number of people making a living at writing has gone up from tenfold to fiftyfold. The chances are slim but it’s doable to make it as a writer.

Publishing is moving to the West Coast. Amazon, Google, and Apple will become prominent publishers along with other tech companies. Indie bookstores will survive. The real threat is the decline in recreational book reading.

Who will survive?
Publishers who pay well and price their books right
Retailers who curate well
Anyone who aids discoverability
Partners who increase distribution
Freelancers who raise quality
Toolmakers who increase quantity
Locales that create an addictive book culture

Note: Any errors in this article are due to my interpretation.

Coming Next: Empowering Authors with Amazon Independent Publishing

Novelists, Inc.

CONTEST ALERT! Win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card or free ebooks from Booklover’s Bench authors in our November contest: http://bookloversbench.com/contest/

 

Posted in Business of Writing, Conferences, Marketing, Self-Publishing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 19 Comments »

BookBub Explained

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on November 6, 2014

BookBub is a popular reader subscriber service where you can promote your book for a fee. They have four million subscribers. Its readers are 84% women, the majority over 40 years old. 37% are retired. 58% are empty-nesters. 59% read four or more books per month. The devices they read on? 49% Kindle, 26% Apple, 15% Nook, 10% Android. Most use tablets, then e-readers, and then cell phones. 29% read non-genre material. 32% read mysteries and thrillers; 25% read romance; 14% read science fiction and fantasy. 95% of readers have purchased a book from an unknown author because of an e-book promotion. 63% have gone on to order more books by an author due to a price promotion.

When a book goes from $.99 to $2.99, there is a 50% drop in sales. But 77% of subscribers will purchase full price books.

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Why feature a book on BookBub? Readers get hooked on your work and they recommend books to their friends. 65% of readers tell their friends about books they discover. What results can you expect? A spike in sales during the promotion. 381% was the average increase. Average downloads are 29,500. 91% of authors have an increase in sales after the promotion when their book goes back to the regular price. There’s an average 73% increase in reviews and 81% increase in sales of related books.

Mysteries have the biggest subscriber list. If your book is free, you’ll pay $320 for a BookBub ad. Under one dollar, you’ll pay $640. If your book is priced from $1-$2, you’ll pay $960.

Go here for pricing in other genres: https://www.bookbub.com/partners/pricing

To submit a book to BookBub, fill out the form online. An editorial team selects the titles. You will get assigned an account representative. If selected, your date and category will be confirmed. Make sure your deal is available across all retailers on the sale date.

Requirements include discounting your book by at least 50% off the list price. It must be a full-length book. This should be a limited time offer of 30 days or less. The editorial team will make sure this is the best deal available for your book and that the work is error-free. They do not feature new releases, because they look at the overall platform and pricing history. No novellas or short stories. Book lengths are specified on their site. The same author may submit a book once every 30 days. The same book may be submitted once every six months.

Next the book goes out for quality assessment. Here the team will look at reader reviews, professional cover design, and cover tropes. For example, dogs do well on covers but motorcycles and tattoos do not. They’ll also look at critical reviews, formatting, and author accolades such as quotes from other authors. This is all part of your platform. BookBub receives over 200 submissions per day. The editors will compare your book to others in the same category that come in at the same time. They advise you to study books in your category on BookBub to see the average number of reviews. Only 15% of submitted books get accepted.

Be sure to put your quotes from other authors on your Amazon author page as they will look for these. Or you can include author quotes in your comment box when applying. They’ll also look at sales data from an author who has applied there again to compare this title to other BookBub books, so you’re not ensured a spot even if you’re a repeater.

Eventually they may make stats available to authors. As for distribution routes, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple are currently more popular than Kobo and Google.

Trends in subcategories that do well are also examined. For example, in historical fiction, American history and World War II do well.

Regarding box sets, reviews on individual books are viewed, rather than the box set itself. Books can be older but the box sets can be a new release.

For the selection process, they compare books and pick the best price and platform. Spots for discounted books are more competitive than for free books. Make sure you have your book available at as many retailers as possible, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Google Play, Kobo, and Smashwords. This is especially important if you don’t have enough reviews or a bestseller status to tout your platform. Google Play subscriptions are growing.

60% of indie books and 40% of traditionally published books are selected. These have an average of 140 reviews.

Tips for submitting your book

Be flexible with timing. Be available whenever they have an opening. Sell yourself in the comments section with your reviews, author quotes, sale figures, bestseller status. Resubmit at different price points. Be open to different categories. Promote when your book is at its best. Optimize your product page. Add more retailers. Continue to submit and try again. The beginning of the month sees a ton of submissions.

If you get selected, set your prices as far ahead as possible. Notify Amazon about the date for a price match. BookBub will do permafree, but put it on sale first at a retail price to get baseline stats.

A UK edition just launched. You can add them for a 5% fee to your BookBub promotion. Soon you’ll be able to just get UK promotion and they have 100,000 + subscribers.

How to be successful

Determine your goals and choose a pricing strategy based on these goals. Price as low as you can to attract new readers. Time the promotion strategically, i.e., seasonal books. Make sure your book is discounted in time. Optimize the back matter in your books and include links to your other titles and your newsletter. Spread the word. Measure the results.

Follow @bookbubpartners on Twitter

Note: Any errors in this article are due to my interpretation. This is from the BookBub session at the Novelists, Inc. Conference St. Pete Beach. Also please note that I have not used BookBub myself so some of you can chime in here about your experiences.

Novelists, Inc.

CONTEST ALERT! Win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card or free ebooks from Booklover’s Bench authors in our November contest: http://bookloversbench.com/contest/

 

Posted in Business of Writing, Conferences, Marketing, Self-Publishing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , , | 28 Comments »

The Future of Publishing, Part 2

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on November 3, 2014

Session Four: The Future of Publishing, Part 2
Novelists, Inc. Conference St. Pete Beach Oct. 2014

If you have a better sense of what you have going in to your career, you have a better chance of coming out where you want. You should have an audio book, because people are busy and commuting.

Globalization means growth in market places around the world. There is a huge global market for English language books.

What’s coming? Specialization of content, shorter content, fan fiction, micro-content. People are reading but not necessarily a novel. They read blogs, Facebook posts, and other material. We need to figure out how to monetize these things.

Another futuristic innovation might be micro-transactions where the reader clicks a button to send a dollar to an author. There will be more collaborative efforts like ACX, translations, and author collectives. Another trend might be personalization in how content is served. We need to be ready to embrace change and accept opportunities as they arise.

There’s a shift of empowerment toward authors because of technology. This is the slowest the change will go as it is right now. But you, the author, must continue to produce the very best book you can, or nothing else matters.

books2

What authors need is data about what readers want and where to find them. The Book Industry Study Group collects book data. How do we turn this data into usable information for our careers? New retail models are coming. The digital disruption is going to be very destructive. Agents may go away [or they can be useful for subsidiary rights]. On the other hand, things are changing and that’s frightening, but they’re going to move forward.

When will there be an “Authors United”? Authors should use their scale to push our issues.

Brick-and-mortar booksellers have a disadvantage when a hardcover sells for nearly $30 and an e-book sells for $9.99. Retailers are concerned about surviving this price differential.

Windowing your release dates is crazy because readers will buy books in all formats. Your book should be released at the same time in e-book, paperback and hardcover. These are not different audiences.

We haven’t seen peer retailing emerge, and we need to be prepared. People communicate around the world in E-commerce. We need to be ready to sell directly to readers and to analyze the data on discount sales and on what platforms people want to receive their books.

Check out Wattpad, Payhip and Hugh Howey’s authorearnings.com

Note: Any errors in this article are due to my interpretations. As many ideas flew back and forth during each session, I mention what I gleaned from the panels, and you can take from it whatever serves your needs.

So what trends do you predict? And how are you preparing for them?

See all of my Photos in the Ninc album on my Facebook Page 

Coming Next: BookBub

Posted in Business of Writing, Conferences, Marketing, Self-Publishing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Rights for Authors

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on October 31, 2014

Session Three: Rights: Yours, Theirs and Ours
Novelists, Inc. Conference St. Pete Beach Oct. 2014

What will bring back the career authors who have more sales and control with indie publishing? “The job of the publisher is to provide the author with a platform. Print books are essential to this,” said one speaker. “It’s our job to help you amplify your voice to readers. Readers want to connect with the author. Finding a social media audience should be up to the publisher.” But another panelist said authors are often expected to show up with a platform.

IMG_1077  P1030899

Publishers are reluctant to buy books previously indie published. There’s a price differential from a $2.99 indie e-book to a $7.99 e-book with a  traditional publisher, and readers balk at the difference. The customer is also different going from digital to bookstore. You’re selling to a completely different audience.

More transparency and true negotiations are needed to attract writers back to traditional publishing. What we need are term limits for authors to get their rights back. The out-of-print clauses for publishers are operated from a sense of fear that something they let go will take off and become a bestseller. Publishers need to brag about their good contract terms instead of being afraid of the competition. They need to show more transparency regarding the terms they offer.

It’s useless to get specific marketing promises from a publisher. Technology changes as you go along, and some of the activities promised may be based on sales figures. That type of legal detail is a waste of time and energy. But you should have these conversations outside of the contractual agreement.

Publishers are interested in what kind of future you, as the author, can project. They’re not interested in your backlist as much as your frontlist when they seek to acquire you.

The non-competition clause was discussed. Is it really necessary? Authors say it’s a career destroyer. They don’t believe they’ll cannibalize their own work as publishers fear. Publishers are worried about saturating the market. Print books need time to get into bookstores. They worry about quality control with self-published works that authors might offer in between traditionally published novels. Authors would love to be hybrids but not to the detriment of making a living if they can’t publish a new book for a certain number of months as per their contract.

The big five are pretty much not taking print rights only and letting authors keep their e-book rights. E-book royalties produce a huge profit margin for publishers.

Publishers are going to look at a successful indie author to see if she’s peaked. Could she benefit from transitioning to traditional publishing to pick up a new audience? You can’t assume your track record will carry over. It will not work for your backlist only. You need new books as well. How can the publisher use this backlist to carry you over from one world to another?

Regarding the 25% net royalty for e-books that is standard for traditional publishers—is the overhead in their fancy New York offices really necessary in the digital age? Publishers make a profit even before the author earns out an advance. Successful authors can still get a raise on their advances.

Note: Any errors in this article are due to my interpretations. As many ideas flew back and forth during each session, I mention what I gleaned from the panels, and you can take from it whatever serves your needs.

See all of my Photos in the Ninc album on my Facebook Page 

Coming Next: The Future of Publishing, Part 2

 

Posted in Business of Writing, Conferences, Marketing, Self-Publishing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

The Future of Publishing, Part 1

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on October 29, 2014

Novelists, Inc. Conference St. Pete Beach Oct. 2014

The Novelists, Inc. (Ninc) conference is the only writers’ conference focused solely on the business of writing. To become a member, you must show proof of two published novels. This is not the place to promote your work, pitch to agents or pick up new fans. It’s primarily a learning experience. You go here to learn what’s new in the business, what’s to come, and how to approach the many aspects of running a small business in the publishing field.

Of course, meeting old friends and making new ones is the benefit of any conference and this gathering was no exception. People came from across the country, enjoying the perfect Florida weather and beachfront setting.

Photo 1: Nancy J. Cohen, Annette Mahon, Carole Nelson Douglas, Laura Resnick
Photo 2: Nancy J. Cohen, Terry Odell, Karla Darcy

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Photo 3: Donna Andrews, Carole Nelson Douglas, Nancy J. Cohen
Photo 4: Sophia Knightly and Nancy J. Cohen

Tradewinds Resort

First Word Thursday: The Future Of Publishing, Part 1

Any errors in this article are due to my interpretations. As many ideas flew back and forth during each session, I will mention what I gleaned from the panels, and you can take from it whatever serves your needs.

Nine industry guests discussed the partnerships between authors, publishers, and agents. Journalist Porter Anderson moderated.

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A partnership is a power relationship. Consider where the power lies in each transaction. Ask yourself what your skills are, what partners have complementary skills, and who has the scale to utilize these skills to your benefit. Partnership implies equality, but at the end of the day, it’s your business and what you, as the author, have created. You want partners who can connect your book with a wide audience in new ways. Also, know the financial health of your potential partners.

One speaker was concerned that companies with enormous “scale” had their own agendas. They focus on profits rather than on promoting each title in a sustainable way. Publishers are making more profits today and more margin on e-books even when they say they’re hurting. Incumbents like the Big 5 are the least likely to innovate.

As an author, try to retain as much control as possible. Allow for new avenues to explore but examine them from all angles. With the advent of new technologies, look for shorter terms in your contracts so these new models can be tested and evaluated.

The key to partnership is mutuality. Traditional publishers must be more willing to let their writers go, because once your titles go backlist, you lose the mutuality. Print on demand and e-book publishers should not keep a book in print unless the author is making real money.

Competition drives innovation. Google could become a viable competitor to Amazon.

The most important relationship an author has is with his readers. What you write has to connect with your readership. Write consistently. Target your audience and determine how to reach them. Continuance between the author and reader is important whatever the distribution route. Unfortunately, often authors talk to other authors and sell to other authors. Focus on your readers.

Bringing back the mid-list has been the biggest benefit of digital publishing. However, there’s a glut of writers out there, so the solution is to increase demand. Society and culture need to make reading a valuable pastime. Let kids read fun books instead of classics in school. Every one of us should be involved in turning people into readers. How to sell books in a sustainable way is a critical issue.

One of the keys to self-publishing is for bookstores to open to indie authors. The recent deal between bestselling author Barbara Freethy and Ingram is encouraging.

BookLamp analyzed the contents of a book and gave recommendations to readers based on the text. (This startup has been bought out by Apple.) Authors collectively have power and should ask more questions about their data.

A discussion came up on the pressure for authors to produce more and faster in the digital age. Quantity should not be versus quality.

The author on the panel spoke about how iBooks is her number one retailer. She is totally self-published. After taking years to write her first few books, she put them all up at once. Now she’s a self-sustainable, bestselling author. She has an international Street Team that helps spread the word about her books. Her encouraging words: “You can make a living without being a household name.”

What do international readers want? Amazon is starting to look at the translator marketplace.

Coming Next: Yo! Here I am! Buy me!

See all of my Photos in the Ninc album on my Facebook Page 

Posted in Business of Writing, Conferences, Marketing, Self-Publishing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , , | 31 Comments »

SinC-Up Author QandA

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on September 15, 2014

I’m participating in the Sisters in Crime blog hop. Bloggers do not have to be members of Sisters in Crime, and there is no schedule to follow except to post in September. If you want to join in, visit: http://www.sistersincrime.org/BlogHop

SincMemberStamp2014revised

So now to my Questions:

If someone said “Nothing against women writers, but all of my favorite crime fiction authors happen to be men,” how would you respond?

For me, the opposite is true. I read almost exclusively female mystery authors. Why? I like to identify with the heroine in a story, and so I prefer a female amateur sleuth. These stories are most often written by women but not always. I also prefer limited third person viewpoint in a whodunit so I’m in the sleuth’s head the whole way. This applies to a traditional mystery, not suspense or thrillers, where multiple viewpoints are common. Generally, I read cozies in the mystery genre. If I were reading a thriller, the writer’s gender wouldn’t matter.

What’s the best part of the writing process for you? What’s the most challenging?

The best part is when I’m midway through a story, and it just starts to flow. That’s when I feel as though I’m channeling the story. It’s in my head, and I just have to write it down. Beginnings are the hardest part because I don’t know the characters well enough yet.

What books are on your night stand right now?

Often I’ll read several books at once, picking up the one I’m in the mood for at the time. So now I have three different genre books on my night stand:

Severed Souls by Terry Goodkind is the latest installment in his popular epic fantasy series.

The Raven’s Wish by Susan King is a historical romance I pulled off my shelves.

Naughty in Nice by Rhys Bowen is a historical mystery in her Royal Spyness series.

As per the blop hop instructions, I am tagging author Terry Odell at http://terryodell.com/terrysplace/. Terry writes mysteries and romantic suspense and always posts useful information on her blog. She shares her notes from conferences and offers instructional writing articles along with recipes, interviews and other fun stuff. I always learn something from her posts.

If you Tweet, please use #SinC-up or #SinCBlogHop and include @SINCnational

Posted in Author Interviews, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , | 7 Comments »

Blogging Made Perfect

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on September 12, 2014

So you want to write a blog. Or you already have a blog but want to increase your subscribers. What now? Here are tips on getting started and attracting followers.

Define Your Purpose.

Do you wish to share news about your work? Be recognized as an expert in your field? Build a community? Engage with readers? Have other writers look to you for advice? Share information relevant to a special interest?

Determine Your Goals.

Do you mean to increase book sales? Have a substantial number of followers? Get a number of comments on each blog? Have folks reblog your posts? Receive requests for guest posts?

Set Parameters.

How often do you intend to post? What days of the week are best? What time during the day will more people likely read your post? How long should each post be?

Brainstorm Topics.

When you’re writing a book, jot down blog topics related to your theme, research, and writing process. These will be useful either to show your story in progress or to provide fodder for blog tours when your new release comes out. Meanwhile, determine what readers want to know and address these topics. What information can you share with others that might be useful? How can your content add value to people’s lives? In what way can your personal anecdotes inspire others? Some authors set certain days for specific blog topics. For example, one day they might post recipes. Another day they might bring in a guest blogger. Excerpts, book reviews, or trivia related to a particular hobby or personal interest might fill in other slots. Or you might wing it, writing posts as they come to you. Just keep in mind the image or brand you wish to project.

Acquire a Site.

When you’re ready to start, register at WordPress.com or Blogger.com for a free site. Or add a blog to your website. Become familiar with the features and start posting.

Link Blog to Your Social Media Sites.

Not only should visitors be able to tweet and share your particular article around the Web, but your posts should be automatically tweeted and sent to your Facebook pages. Check your Settings for how to enable these features or ask your Web designer to add the proper Plug-In. Get Share Buttons at http://www.sharethis.com or http://www.addtoany.com Add your blog to Networked Blogs, http://www.networkedblogs.com. Some authors use Triberr to raise their visitors: http://triberr.com/landing/bloggers.

What Pages Should Your Blog Site Contain?

Keep in mind that visitors to your blog, if separate from your website, might not visit you elsewhere. So consider what tabs you’ll want to have. Here are some suggestions: Home; About (Bio); Appearances; Book Trailers; Books List; Contact (your email); Contests. In one sidebar, you can show your book covers. In lieu of this, you can use a rotating carousel or slide show from Amazon. Sidebars can also contain a Blog Roll, Search box, Subscribe button, Social Networking Icons, Live Twitter feed, and RSS feed button.

Include Photos in your posts.

Photos will draw more hits, but be careful of copyright issues. Upload your own photos. Buy photos at royalty-free sites or at least make sure you provide attribution. Many writers skirt this issue, but you do so at your own risk.

Tag your Posts.

Use tags and categories with keywords to drive traffic to your site. Tags are for individual posts while categories classify your topics.

Avoid Messy Code Issues.

Write your blog in Word or another word processing program to keep your files on your hard drive. Then copy and paste each blog to Notepad or Windows Live Writer. These eliminate messy code issues. Download Windows Essentials for free from Microsoft. This includes Windows Movie Maker (for DIY book trailers), Photo Gallery and Live Writer. http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-live/essentials

Offer a Blog Roll.

Ask other authors for a cross-exchange of links. More links leads to more traffic.

How to Gain Followers

*Post often. Some people set themes, like “Recipe Monday” or “Guest Blogger Wednesday” or “Photo Friday.” Be consistent in your approach. If you prefer to blog randomly, still do so two or three times a week. Keep your material current.
*Have a clear and catchy headline.
*End your post with a question to stimulate discussion.
*Don’t use your blog solely to promote your books. You’re building a community of readers who want to get to know you, or else you are establishing yourself as an expert by offering useful material. Share new release info, reviews, contests and such sparingly.
*Comment on other people’s blogs.
*Invite guests who have a following.
*Always respond to comments and respect others’ opinions.
*Offer giveaways to commenters.
*Evaluate results. If you get a lot of comments on certain types of posts, steer your blog in that direction. Be responsive to readers. Note what engenders interest and what does not.
*Be careful what you put out there. This is a public post. Avoid politics, religion, and any mention of personal business or issues you don’t want to share.
*Always be respectful of other industry professionals.
*Link to other authors and favorite pages as appropriate to help spread the word about their sites.

Index Your Blog

When your blog is a few years old, you might want to reblog an article. Keeping records of the topics, categories, and dates will help you retrieve these files. I suggest you write your blog in Word and save the posts by month and year. It’s imperative to keep your own blogs on your computer so you don’t lose them if there’s an online snafu. Then keep a separate file that’s an index so you can quickly search topics.

Blog Hops

Blog Hops pool you with other authors. Study your listserves for these opportunities or get one going with your author friends yourself. What is it? Each author posts a blog about an agreed upon topic with links to all the other bloggers on a particular day. Offering a prize for commenters will bring people to your sites, and hopefully you’ll gain new readers from among these other authors’ fans. Participating in a blog hop will broaden your exposure.

Blog Tours

If you wish to do a blog tour, determine if you want to do guest posts, author interviews, or have the site offer a review or book blast. Then solicit hosts by asking other authors if you can guest on their site. Make sure you study their slant and offer an appropriate topic. Write your guest posts and assign each one to a host. To attract readers, offer a grand prize drawing from all commenters, a prize on each site or a Rafflecopter contest. Publish your tour schedule on your website and broadcast it on your social networks. Be sure to show up the day of the posting to answer comments. OR hire a virtual tour company if you don’t wish to DIY: Goddish Fish Promotions http://www.goddessfish.com, Great Escapes http://www.escapewithdollycas.com/great-escapes-virtual-book-tours/ (Free Cozy Mystery Tours), Bewitching Book Tours (Paranormal Romance), http://bewitchingbooktours.blogspot.com/, Buy the Book Tours http://www.buythebooktours.com/#axzz2OqJtoGjs , Partners in Crime http://www.partnersincrimetours.net/

What other tips would you add?

 

Posted in Business of Writing, Marketing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , , | 12 Comments »

 
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