On Becoming Published

English: Logo of french publisher Léon Vanier
English: Logo of french publisher Léon Vanier (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Writers have more options today than ever before to get their work “out there.” In addition to the conventional route, utilizing agents and query letters to established publishing houses, there now exists a host of small presses that are willing to take on new authors.

However, not all small presses are the same. A potential choice should be researched and evaluated before submitting one’s work. For example, one distinguishing feature about a small or indie press is that they rarely, if ever, offer to pay the author an advance. There simply is not enough money to allow for that. And be forewarned—if  during your inquiry to a potential publisher, you learn there are fees involved, you should look elsewhere. Requiring the author to pay for anything, whether it’s cover design, editing, etc., is a dead giveaway that the operation is a vanity press or a self-publishing service. Some examples are AuthorHouse, iUniverse, Xlibris and Trafford. They try to disguise their identity by referring to themselves as indie publishers. Not true.

Do your homework and Google the publisher before making your final decision. Investigate whether or not there are any complaints associated with the company. Often times the complaints will appear on authors’ websites or blogs. A good resource to find any negative information is Writer Beware. If the publisher is new, or has published very few books, that should raise a red flag for you to avoid them. Check out the publisher’s website. If the site focuses more on promoting itself rather than its books and authors, that’s a good indication they are trying to attract clients.

Check the potential publisher’s pricing for printed books. If the pricing is above the norm, steer clear. Ebook pricing remains somewhat unsettled, but $9.99 seems to be the industry standard. Small presses combined with feedback from ereaders, seems to indicate a price point somewhere between $2.99 and $3.99 to be the most attractive.

Ensure that you check to see if your potential publisher has a distribution network, and that the books are available on Amazon and other major online vendors. Ingram or Baker & Taylor are the conventional wholesalers for printed books.

Marketing is important. Once your book is published, how will you get the word out that your book is published ands available for purchase? Most indies expect the author will do the bulk of marketing, by attending book fairs, signings and conventions. However, check to see if your publisher makes ARCs available (advance reading copies) to potential reviewers and endorsers. Including favorable reviews and blurbs by established writers, reviewers and celebrities will help with advertising and make your book more credible.

Many authors discover that writing the book is the easiest leg on their journey to becoming a published author. The challenge then becomes one of getting your book into the readers’ hands. If you’ve already encumbered that process by choosing the wrong publisher, you may have to go back to square one.

Printed Book or Ebook?

English: A woman cuddling a pile of digital de...
English: A woman cuddling a pile of digital devices: laptops, smartphones, tablets, ebook readers etc. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What’s your favorite method of reading books, print or on electronic reading devices? The book industry is still in a quandary adjusting to readers’ preferences. Ebook sales are up 43%, which is very good growth. However, compared to the previous three years of triple-digit increases, that number indicates a leveling off in digital book sales.

Sales numbers released by the Association of American Publishers and the Book Industry Study Group, indicate 457 million ebooks were sold last year. However, that number is lower than the number of hard covers sold—557 million.

I prefer the printed word. I enjoy holding a book and physically turning the pages—particularly if the book is one that I’ve written. Being able to turn back quickly to a particular chapter or section is much easier with a printed book. I can also easily determine how long a chapter is . . . do I want to start reading the next chapter if it happens to be a long one?

On the other hand, the eReader allows me to read several books at a time, without carrying the actual books around. This feature is particularly convenient when travelling. Moreover, when I finish reading a book, I simply open up another on my reader.

Obviously, reading a book in print or electronically is a personal preference. I know people who scoff at the notion of ebooks, pontificating about the importance of maintaining the integrity of the written word. Still others wouldn’t trade their Kindle, Nook, or iPad for the world.

My guess is this bifurcation of reading habits and the battle over preferences is far from over. As for publishers, it’s clear that they need to have one foot in each world.


Kindle 3 moved all major operates to the botto...
Kindle 3 moved all major operates to the bottom. No comments on this point. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The electronic age has allowed writers to sit in the publishing driver’s seat, rather than the publisher. Traditional publishers have seen their revenues decline, along with brick and mortar book stores, with the advent of self-publishing and ebooks. Some self-pubbed books have even hit the best seller list. Whereas rejection letters used to mean the end of the road for many writers. Now, self-publishing is a logical alternative for a writer to ensure his work becomes the printed word–or perhaps the electronic word.

Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is one way to become published. Whether it’s a novel, short story, or poetry, KDP allows the writer to make his own decisions and set a price. The royalties are more author favorable as well with KDP, with 70% paid to the author. I recently tested this process, creating my own anthology: The Nightstand Collection. The process was simple and intuitive, and the finished product was professional.

On the other hand, self-publishing companies have sprung up overnight, like mushrooms in the forest. As with anything else, there are reputable companies to do business with and others who will offer more than they can deliver. Many will publish your book, at a hefty price, but the end result may not be something you can be proud of. Most do not offer editing, or cover design, without which your labor of love becomes simply a dust collector.

Top Consumer Reviews takes a quick look at the best self publishing companies: http://www.topconsumerreviews.com/self-publishing/ If you are interested in examining this process, please take a moment to read this informative article.

Police Week

If you have not had the chance to attend any of the ceremonies at the Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, D.C., you have missed out on meeting a superb group of individuals. The Candlelight Ceremony in particular is moving and profound, as tribute is paid to our fallen heroes and their families. My article this month on Officer.com relates to the Memorial and the heroes who have given all. Please take a moment to read it: “Why I Became A Cop.”National_Law_Enforcement_Officers_Memorial_Lion