ReBlog: Copyright Infringement: A Warning to all Authors

My novella, Couillon, is there, linked to Kobo, with which/whom I do not have a contract. My novella is also available for “download”. General eBooks on Twitter, @General_EBooks, says they’re just doing free advertising. I disagree. Please check your books to see if they’re listed at http://www.general-ebooks.com/. I’ve also reported copyright violations, TWICE, with no feedback whatsoever.

Short of bringing in a lawyer, the best thing I can do is spread the word.

blindoggbooks

I would like to share a letter sent to me by a fellow independent author, who wishes to remain anonymous, about a website claiming to be promoting independent authors, when in reality it appears that they are offering free downloads of the work of dozens of us.

If you are an author, independent or otherwise, I urge you to read this letter and investigate the site yourself. Find out if your work is posted there and take appropriate action to have it removed, or, at the very least, make sure you are willing to grant permission to the site owners to list your work.

Making money as an independent author is difficult enough without pirating sites giving our work away under false pretenses AND without our permission.

Please share, tweet or reblog this post in order to spread the word through the independent author community and, hopefully, put some pressure…

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Very Inspiring Blogger Award

Today, I received notice from VikToryArch that I was nominated for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award for my 3 Biggest Reasons It’s Good to be Indie post.

 

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First let me say thank you, VikToryArch.

But with the nomination comes the duty to display the award and pay it forward to fifteen other bloggers whom I admire. I choose not to enforce the chaining part of the requirements on those I nominate. It’s their decision whether to continue the chain. Or not. I’m perfectly happy either way.

This is just my way to say thank you for entertaining me and inspiring me.

So here we go.

These links will take you to sites by friends and authors who inspire me.

Old friends

Lisa Poisso

(my editor and friend)

Scott Wyatt

Martin Hengst

including his latest post:

5 Tips for Success as an Indie Writer

S.A.Molteni’s And So It Begins…

Gisela’s Straightforward Blog

Melissa Bowersock’s Wordlovers

Indies Unlimited

which hosts a ton of authors and great information

and

Master Koda

And some new friends

Bob Mayer’s Write on the River

JRBarker 101

Books are Delicious!

toofulltowrite

Often Clueless, Always Shoeless

(stole her idea for character interviews)

Daily (w)rite

Elodie Under Glass 

(not about writing, but great place for writing ideas)

and #16 — yes, I’m cheating — VikToryArch (back’atcha)

ReBlog: Ten Ways to Increase Traffic to Your WordPress Blog

Great article on how to draw more traffic to your WordPress blog.

Books are Delicious!

Yesterday, was my blog’s one-month blogaversary and the biggest surprise of my day was logging in and seeing that Books are Delicious had reached 600 followers.  Winter Bayne and Ameliaormia have asked me how I managed to get so many followers so quickly and wanted to know if I had any tips. I’m no expert, but here are some of the things I have done to increase traffic to my blog.

1897710_10152398869302533_1366704020826944618_n This Bitstrip my husband made shows just how persistent I can be.

1.Be a Follower: Find blogs similar to your own and follow them. Whenever I see a list of book bloggers or author blogs, I always check them out and add the ones I like. I will also go to the WP Reader and run a search for ‘book reviews’ and ‘author’ to find new blogs that interest me. In addition to finding great new blogs, many of…

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3 Biggest Reasons It’s Good to be Indie

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about this desire to be chosen by an agent/publisher. There are nights when I beat myself up, when I wallow in self-pity [I am notorious for that, but at least I’m self-aware] because I couldn’t get an agent to represent me and my novel. To have chosen to go down the indie route because I couldn’t get an agent at times feels like a cop-out, like if I’d just tried a little harder then I would have been good enough.

But during those dark nights, when the wallowing gets extreme, I tell my self the following:

I wrote a good book, a quality book, and no matter what these agents think, it’s worth publishing.

And then I think, why would I want to go down the traditional publishing route anyway? I’ve never been known to embrace the norm, to fit in the box whether at work [ask my managers, if you don’t believe me] or in relationships. Or in writing. I don’t want to be normal. I want to be more, better. I want to live my life, not a life that fits someone else’s standard. I want to live outside the box. To be unique, authentic. Different.

So why this desire to be normal publishing wise? We’re told, time and again, that vanity press, that self publishing is only done because you’re not good enough to be a real author. But I’ve found that isn’t true. I’ve read Indie books that surpass many of the traditionally published books on the market. And yes, the indie world still has a lot of growing to do, but that doesn’t diminish my work. I’m an individual and should be treated as such.

I’ve found that there are three reasons that it’s good to be indie, publishing and lifestyle wise:

(1) I get more.

Somehow, even though I’ve managed to annoy my management, sometimes to the point that they loathe me, I’ve always worked hard and have a reputation of delivering what I say I’m going to deliver. And I make a very good salary in my big Corporate America life-style. But I also have the satisfaction that I won’t sell out, won’t deliver my soul up for better pay or some manager’s fleeting approval.

So why would I sell my soul to a publisher? Why would I want to get 7% of my royalties, which is what the traditional publishing route would net me, when I can get up to 70% of the royalties? Especially when with a traditional publisher, I’d have to do most of the work anyway. Gone are the days of the big promotions for new authors. So my book wouldn’t do any better, sales wise, than it is now.

If I was a purely business oriented person, I’d say that the traditional route ROI is crap. I write a book. I set up my social presence and much of the advertising. I do all the things you, Mr. PublishingHouse, don’t want to do for a new author. And you give me 7% of the sales? That’s not a smart investment.

(2) I control everything.

Yes, I am a control freak, but in this case, it’s a good thing. My manuscript isn’t sitting at the bottom some agent’s or some publisher’s I’ll get around to this one day pile. No delays due to re-formatting or waiting for an interior design person, one with low enough status to rank working on a newbie’s book. I control how fast my book goes to market.

I control the number of words, the editing, the title, the cover, the design. I control what percentage of the royalties I’ll get by deciding how the book will be distributed.

There are no long-term, dead-end contracts. If I want to pull my book from X distributor, I can do that.

I control everything, but mostly I control how successful I am.

(3) I own the rights.

Does this need explaining? In the case of publishing, if I pitch the story to a movie house, it’s mine to do so. And if I do so, I get the proceeds from the sale, not a small portion of them. There are a hundred other examples. Basically, if a publishing house has the rights to my book, I control little or nothing.

In life, I own my success and failure. I own my soul.

Not one of these reasons indicates that an indie writer will have an easy time of it, that they will be an instant success, that they don’t have to edit or produce quality work. Writing is hard work. Why would anyone think that publishing is easy?

But what the reasons do indicate is that we newbie authors should get more for the work we’re doing, we should look for the best ROI.

So you see, it’s good to be different, to be indie.

Authors: Established vs Newbies

I’ve been following the Amazon/Hachette melee, and maybe because I’m a new author, I am leaning toward Amazon’s view of the world. No, I’m not in favor of monopolies, and Amazon is heading that way, but I’m also not the least bit happy about the way new authors are treated by the traditional publishing industry.

My view of the world is that there’s a double standard when it comes to established, well-known authors versus new authors.

Some of it I can understand.  I can see that a publisher may not want to take a risk on a thousand page novel by a new author, one which may tank after they’ve made a major investment in physically creating a tome that size. Most new authors start out with a novel significantly less than 125K words [approximately 400 pages], and so I had a hard time selling An Untold Want to an agent. In fact, I never was able to get an agent to represent me. Several specifically said they wouldn’t even consider a manuscript with more than 90K words from a new author. One agent told me to cut it down to 85K words and then come talk to her. She wasn’t offering me a contract up front. No, she was just saying she would possibly consider it if I cut my novel in half. I passed on that offer.

Some of the issues I don’t understand, like quality of writing. Awhile back I did a review of The GoldFinch. If a newbie author had submitted The Goldfinch to a major publishing house, let’s just say Hachette, that author would have been laughed out of their office.  The book is long and convoluted and badly edited. And yet, the publisher is pushing it. And it won a Pulitzer. Yes, it has some beautiful prose and is an interesting story, but it would never have seen the light of day, a book that won a Pulitzer would never have been published if it had been written by a new author.

Agents and publishers expect newbies to come to them with a complete, fully edited manuscript. With a social presence already in place. From what I’ve read, in multiple articles from well respected news outlets, publishers now only focus on supporting their big draw authors, the J.K. Rowlings and James Pattersons of the book world. If I were to get a contract with Hachette today, I’ve no doubt that I would have to do a large majority of the advertising myself.  So for a whopping 7% of the sale price [yes, that’s what new authors tend to get from publishing houses], I would get to do 70% of the work, not including writing the novel.

When I couldn’t get an agent, [Your book is too long. Your book doesn’t fit our genre. Your books just wasn’t for us.] I went down the indie route. By self publishing with Amazon, I get 70% of the royalties and I own the rights to my book. Yes, I did all the work, but the ROI is significantly better than if I’d gotten an agent and gone down the traditional route, say with Hachette.  There are tons of agent/publisher horror stories out there. My favorite, the one I tell myself at night when I’m trying to boost my ego about why an agent wouldn’t want my book, is that many authors finally get an agent only to have their books placed at the bottom of a huge pile of I’ll get around to this later.

The Huffington Post posted a great article that sums up the indie versus traditional situation: Are There 5 Reasons to Stick With Major Publishers? No, There Are Zero Reasons

Just to be fair, there is a down side to self publishing. Indie books are still considered substandard. All self published authors are lumped into a huge ball of what appears as mediocrity. Those who do the work to polish their novels are pulled down by those who don’t. Even I shy away from indie authors because I’ve paid for too many books that were badly written. I wrote about this phenomenon in my post Do Yourself a Favor: Edit Your Book. Too many new authors write what is in essence a first draft and then rush to publish it. As one web article said, we are drowning in indie books, and my take is that many of them are sub-par.

With that said, the best reason to be an indie author is that I’m in control of how successful I am. I can edit or not. I can create a great cover. Or not. I can do what I want, but what I do is in direct relation to how successful I am. I am not waiting on someone else to promote my book.

IU Featured Book Promo

My novImageel, An Untold Want, was listed today as a feature book on the Indies Unlimited website. The IU folks are great to work with, and if you’re serious about being an indie author or are at a loss as to where to find like-minded people, I think you couldn’t do better than the Indies Unlimited group.

They have helpful pages on everything from how to write a book blurb to how to format jpgs.

Take a look for yourself, starting with my featured novel:  IU Featured Book: An Untold Want

Book Blurbs are Hard

AUWJust recently, I queried Indies Unlimited about listing my book as one of their Featured Books. Everything about my book passed muster with flying colors [cover, reviews, author pages, preview], everything except the book blurb. Kat, who has been very helpful, said that my book blurb is confusing. And to be honest it is/was. Mostly because I know what the book is about, but condensing it down into 200 or so words is more difficult than I imagined.

The problem is that An Untold Want is a women’s literary novel, not a romance, nor is it a urban-fantasy, even though it has witches and ghosts. And a young suitor.

Maggie is the main character, and she has issues, with everything, especially her family heritage. She grew up in a world where gossip is truth, and image is everything. Witch is not the story. It’s a factor in the story. Same when it comes to romance.

So I don’t want to represent it as an urban-fantasy[or romance] novel. Yes, there are witches. Yes, there is a relationship, actually several of them in the book, but calling it an urban-fantasy or romance novel is missing the mark by a long shot, and misleading the reader. It’s about three women finding their self-worth. The romance and witches are elements used to make it a deeper, more well-rounded story.

I’m frustrated with myself, with how difficult it is to put all that into 200 or so words, to get the tone just right so that the potential reader will want to purchase it and be happy with their purchase. You see, I bought into the whole idea of cross-genre books that people like Donald Maass are pitching, because it sounds like the best of all worlds, but in general the reader population hasn’t really bought into it.  They see witches and think urban fantasy.  Same when it comes to romance.

So how do I write a book blurb that expresses all of that without putting off the reader, without it coming across as boring or condescending? I can’t write: This is a book about witches and love, but it’s not about witches and love.

Today, I contacted Lisa, my editor and friend. We reviewed the advice Kat gave me, which Lisa backed wholeheartedly, and we worked on re-writing my book blurb. I’m on about my tenth re-write, with Lisa, as she says, adjusting my direction.

This is what I’m going to submit to Kat:

Being born into a family of witches in a small Georgia town is more than enough to brand Maggie MacAllister a social pariah. In the fifteen years since she came home from college with a PhD, baby Liz, and no husband, she has withdrawn from life, from a world where gossip is truth and image is all that matters.

Maggie just wants a normal life, maybe even a husband, but everyone knows that any man who falls for a MacAllister woman dies in the prime of life. So, even though Maggie sees herself as a rational, science-minded person, her family and its history weighs on her, colors her life in deep shades of loneliness and self-doubt.

When a medical emergency befalls her daughter, Maggie is forced to examine the choices she has made. Forced to let others into her rigid, cloistered lifestyle. Forced to recognize a potential, and younger, suitor. But will she be able to overcome her fear of what others think of her and accept her heritage? And if she does, will she be able to protect the people important to her from the small town dogma and drama and still find happiness?

If,  for whatever reasons, you’re having the same problems:

Lisa is now taking new clients if you’re looking for someone to help you polish your book [or book blurb], and the Indies Unlimited reference on writing book blurbs,  The Blurb Doctor is In, is an excellent starting place.