Thursday, 26 April 2018

Indie author vs Traditional Publishing - which to choose?

It is a question asked many times, by many people, many times a day.

Independent author publishing vs traditional publishing; which is best?

I'm tempted to go 'Harry Hill' on you right now, and say,
"There's only one way to find out. Fiiiight!"
But that would not be terribly helpful, no matter how amusing.

So? How do you decide which is better?
There is no right or wrong here. Both have their merits and their pitfalls. At the end of the day, it comes down to personal preference.

I'm an indie author, as you probably know by now.
I'm loud & proud to be so. It was a choice for me. My own reason is truthfully because I'm a control freak. I didn't want someone tearing my book apart, and applying their own formula to it, and taking most of the proceeds.
If/when I achieve best seller status, I want to be able to say, "I made that."

But what are the pros and cons?

Indie Authors

This is probably the hardest path, judging solely on the fact it's the one I chose, and I always seem to choose the path of most resistance ;-) 

You are in charge of your own destiny, but this is very much restricted.
You dictate the content of your own book.
You say when, where, how much. 
This in itself can be overwhelming. 
Let's take ebooks only (paperbacks become even more complex): 

Do you publish via Amazon KDP? Well, they hold the market share, so that seems sensible.
Ah, but then there's the KDP Select option, which gets your book in Kindle Unlimited (susbscribers then get your book for free, as they pay one monthly fee). 
Ah, but that means your ebook has to be EXCLUSIVE to Amazon. And there's many other platforms out there. 
Do you remain out of that and 'go wide'? 
I'll probably do a whole blog post on this alone at some point. 

And how much do you charge? 

You employ your own editor, proof reader, cover designer etc. But this is costly. You have to pay upfront, and it all mounts up. 
And yes, ideally, you do need all these. At the very least, a proof reader, as it's virtually impossible to spot all your own errors. You know what you know, and your brain knows what you meant to write. 

You are responsible for all your own marketing. This is both good and bad, really. I enjoy it. 
Having an 'online presence' is vital. This means creating, maintaining, and regularly interacting on many social media platforms. 
You have your own blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, Amazon author page...the list goes on. 
This really eats into your precious writing time. 

You will also find many doors are closed to you. The major newspapers/magazines/blogs don't review indie authors.
Brick & mortar book shops are virtually impossible to get into. If you use print-on-demand for your paperback, the costs are high, and the stores like a 55% wholesale discount, which prices you out. 
Waterstones have a process. And when I can face looking at it again, I'll write a blog post on that. There's many many hoops to jump through. And you're unlikely to succeed, but there is a teeny weeny glimmer of hope. 

At the end of the day, it's your book your way.

Traditional Publishers

OK, maybe traditional publishing is the solution. All of the above sounds like very hard work. 

If you get into one of the 'top five' success seems guaranteed.
Well no, of course it's not. But maybe you have a marginally better chance. 

The top publishers now require you to have an agent to even approach them.
They are another layer of gatekeepers, another round of applications, with possibly many rejections. This can be really tough to take. 
Bear in mind, even JK Rowling was turned down by multiple publishers though. 

There are many authors applying for their perceived golden ticket, but only a very few places are available. Even if you want to get in, you may not be able to gain access.

But if you do get through the double gateway, you then have a lovely contract, with hopefully an advance. 
NB NEVER ever pay someone else to publish your book. They are vanity publishers, and won't make your dreams come true.

They have their own editing teams etc. They can take care of a lot of this for you. (*sigh of relief*)
However, it's still up to you to make the changes. And you may not agree with what they have to say. 

And you still have to do a lot of your own marketing. They don't have the resources to do all this for every author on their books. They may be able to assist, and maybe you'll get the opportunity to be reviewed by the big hitters. But not necessarily. 

The choice is yours, at least, which to go for.
Obviously, the choice of acceptance by trads is in their hands.

Just know this;
Whichever door you go through, and path you walk down, it is not easy. But it just may be worth it.
Success is never guaranteed, but a lot of hard work is.

As I have said before: write because you love it.

Always in love & light,

Thursday, 19 April 2018

How to Beat Writer's Block

Writer's block - it's a common complaint.
I see many asking how to overcome it, their pitiful pleas are plastered across pages and forums.

So, you want to know how to overcome it?
Shh (*puts finger to lips, and eyes the room suspiciously*)
Come closer.
It's a secret.


"What?" I hear you cry indignantly. 

OK, OK, calm down. 
Here's the thing...

By naming it "Writer's Block" you are in fact putting a block on yourself. 
That very word brings images of brick walls slamming down in my brain, imprisoning me. 
(*pulls on collar*) So claustrophobic!

Help! I'm blocked. Trapped in. No escape.


It is not a block at all. Take a deep breath with me.
and out...pheeewwwww

OK, so it's just a "ponder point".

Maybe you've written yourself into a corner? My dark elf made me do that, and I've still not forgiven the little git.
Perhaps you've been writing happily, and all of a sudden the thoughts stopped.
Did your friends stop talking to you? You know, those little character voices in your head?
Whatever the symptom, do you remember the words on the front of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy"?


It is but a moment in time. This too shall pass.
Take yourself away from your laptop/typewriter/writing pad.
Go make a cup of tea (or other beverage).
Take a walk outside. I hear your shocked gasp. Yes, the outside is still a place, and you ARE able to venture out into it.
Go horse riding, swimming, play a musical instrument, sing, dance, draw, have a bath, read. Whatever.
"And now for something completely different" (as the Monty Python boys said).
Distract your mind. Do something fun. Something for YOU. Set yourself free.

If you continue to sit still, running your fingers over your face and/or through your hair, you'll drive yourself crazy.
When you're in a hole, stop digging.

Honestly, it is NOT a block.
You can and will get through this.
The words will flow once more.

This has been a TL service for all the suffering writers out there.
Thank you for listening.

I'd love to hear some of your distraction techniques.

Always with love & light,

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Free books - traditional and indie authors

Extra extra, get your free books...! 

No, I'm not offering. Sorry. 
Instead, you will find my ramblings on the topic of free books. 

Now, I see a lot of indie authors moaning how it's us against them, with 'them' being traditional publishing houses.
But as we continue down this path of free access to publishing, this is becoming less and less the case. 
Trad pubs are struggling too. 

OK, they have bigger advertising budgets. And sure, they let celebrities publish through them; they come with their own publicity. I can't blame them. 
But make no mistake, they are finding times tough too. 

The biggest challenge facing us all is the free book. 
As I was scrolling through Amazon, I realised just how large this problem is. 
Here's some actual screen shots, spanning different genres. Do you see how often the word free crops up in people's searches? And that's without typing the word free into my search! 

There are companies with massive mailing lists, eager to tell their subscribers of free (or heavily discounted) books. 
Authors sign up to this, often paying for the pleasure, eager to get more exposure for their hard work. 
Readers rub their hands in glee at the marvellous amount of books they can get. 
It's all harmless, right?

But here's the thing. 
How much value do you place on a book you got for free?
Did you just download it because it was there? And now it sits, unloved, on your virtual Kindle (or other ereader) shelf? Will you ever read it? And if you do, will you review it? 
Most won't. 

But more than that. The book was fairly and competitively priced to start with. 
ALL authors work hard at getting their price point right. 
It may be free to press publish on the likes of Amazon, but once it gets bought, they take their cut out of the royalties. 
And then there's all the other hidden expenses; the editor, the cover designer, the stock images, the marketing campaigns etc. etc. etc. 
It all adds up. And authors usually have to have a full time job, just to keep the roof over their head. 
Very few have the luxury of being a writer full time. 

And readers then come to expect free books all the time.
"What? Pay for a book? No. I get all mine free. What mug would pay?"

Writing is hard. It takes blood, sweat and tears. We authors pour our souls onto the page. 
The immense amount of work can take months or even years. 
Oh, if you only knew the agonies we suffer. The crippling self doubt which takes over. The arguments we have with our characters as they start behaving in a way we didn't expect. 
Not that I'm complaining. I love writing. 
But many call their books their book babies. We nurture, care for and love our creations. 
We press publish and offer you our innermost thoughts. They get laid bare for you.

And yet you don't want to pay even $2.99 for all this? 

Let me ask you? How much did you spend on your coffee today?
Hm? A little over $3 or £3, was it? 
One little coffee. How long does it take you to drink that? 
Now, how long does it take you to read a book? 
Oh, but you could buy a book for the same price? That seems like good value now, doesn't it?

Would you walk into a coffee house and demand a free coffee? Would you? 
Fancy a free outfit from your favourite clothes retailer? 
Or perhaps you'd wander into an art gallery and demand a free painting? 
No, I thought not.
So why do you expect free books?

Incidentally, coffee is another large expense for authors. It is often considered writer's fuel. 

So go on, buy us a coffee. Pay the reasonable, original price for our books. Please.
Then we can afford to keep writing more. Everyone wins. 

This has been a public service announcement on behalf of all kinds of authors everywhere. 
Thank you for listening.
(opinions are all my own, and I do not represent any others). 

Always in love & light,