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The Publishing Ladder


This post comes as part of a response I made to ‘And the Winner Is…Self-Publishing’ a post by Jessica Vealitzek (http://jessicavealitzek.com/), which was regarding the route to publishing written work.

My comment:

‘I think not enough personal journeys in this area are documented (regarding people’s experiences with trying to publish work); so many people just need good and honest advice on this (the route to publishing) to save wasted time and frustration! Oh, I have a question; do you know whether there is a ‘collective’ of writers who are looking to be published? What I mean is, other people in similar situations who want to get published, and who can pull together pooling their resources; knowledge, contacts and abilities, which could aid a publishing objective?? Does that make sense or am I rambling?? It would be like a group of people working together for a common purpose; making a website to put the work on, to do the advertising and networking to get interest for ALL of their work?? I don’t know, might be a crazy or illogical idea, but more minds might be better than one to unravel the publishing conundrum; on-line or via a traditional route! More voices shouting out louder surely have to be heard! I don’t know! Just a thought I came up with!’

I then posted another response to Jessica stating I would do some research into the above, to check if such ‘support’ was out there for writers. To be honest I wondered whether my take of a ‘collective’ of writers wasn’t just ‘independent publishers’, and the beginnings of what we recognise as traditional publishing houses.

Anyhow, I have managed to complete some research, and found some links regarding ‘collectives’ or ‘cooperatives’. I have also looked at what advice is out there for people who are trying to get published, and the ‘pros and cons’ of the online publishing route too.

AUTHOR COOPERATIVES:

1: http://authorselectric.blogspot.co.uk/

2: http://awesomeindies.wordpress.com/
There are hurdles in place for wannabe writers on this site; jump over these and then they may consider reviewing your work.

3: http://www.wordswithjam.co.uk
Submissions for short stories with a word limited of 2500, but they also look for new article writers for their blog.

4: http://www.bookviewcafe.com
Members only publishing cooperative.

5: Yahoo groups: for example there are Indie Authors Forum and Indie Romance Authors – these offer tips/tricks for one another’s work.

6: http://www.rockitreads.com/
All genre Romance; for work that is self published and on-line already.

7: http://thirsteditions.com
Closed to submissions, no unsolicited manuscripts; ummmm, this sounds familiar!

8: http://www.leagueofextraordinaryauthors.com/

9: http://allianceindependentauthors.org/about.html
Seems to be most inclusive site; they encourage new authors, give advice and will review their work. Yippee!!

The author cooperatives I have read about, and discovered through my research are not really an open forum for the everyday writer struggling out there. They are closed shops; where you would have had to have been a member from the beginning, been in on the formation of the cooperative. In other words, author cooperatives do seem to me to be a branch of independent publishing. They will only promote their own work, and are not really willing to share their knowledge or give advice and tips to other writers.

I must admit I am more frustrated by discovering this, and disheartened somewhat. I am aware there are an abundance of people writing, and possibly too many to ensure that they all get published. I am aware that masses of time and resources have to go into the; proof reading, editing, providing advice and tips and even promotion of work, and passing on author’s work to possible publishers. Yet, surely there could be some services dedicated to this, and this alone; to enable more new author’s to actually get published in one format or another!!

So if there are no open cooperatives that authors can join, then where is the progress?

What are the options out there for help, support and advice for wannabe authors?
The answer, well, there doesn’t seem to be much of any of that available.

Why is it so difficult for ordinary people to get on the ladder of being published and then achieve their goal?

The Ladder of Success

Perhaps it is because writing is comparable to the art world. Experts deem one type of art is the only one correct, and therefore the only one worthy of the title of art, of accolades and praise. Yet, isn’t there beauty in all art? Writing is the same as art; freedom of expression, individuality and passion. Whose job is it to say what is valid? Who has the sole authority to sanction what is good enough, and then dismiss every other writer, novel or a piece of work? These experts only know the genres or work they are familiar with; it is only their individual opinion after all! That doesn’t mean what is being written outside of these opinions, labels and boxes is wrong or not a valuable piece of work. There is surely volumes of written jems going unnoticed, all because of stringent rules and guidelines and people’s opinions; oh, not to mention the fact that there are not enough people willing to read new writers work or offer any help.

People always say that you can only write from your heart, about what you know, to please yourself; but still these publishing hurdles stating what work is acceptable are placed in the path of potential writers. You have to face word limitations, genre limitations, plot limitations, structure limitations and so on and so on. How is this art? How is this expression?

I am no literary critic, my degree is in Politics not English Literature, I am no expert on how to write a novel; so does that naturally mean any work I produce won’t be valid? I have no one to direct me, no place to go for advice and I don’t have any relevant networks in the publishing world to call a favour from; so that means I haven’t a cat in Hell’s chance of getting anything published?

Maybe I need to begin my own author’s cooperative!!

Having somewhere people can get information from; clear and simple advice which is free and honest, hints and tips to move themselves, and their work on and into the publishing world is essential!!!!!

Yet, it doesn’t seem to exist! What I have been reading about the publishing world and even the ‘cooperative’ world is confusing and conflicting. There are opinions, and lots of them, from people who already have the deal sown up. Yet, these people aren’t willing to share, to help others even try to get on that ladder that they have already climbed!!!! WHY???

THOUGHT OF PUBLISHING ON-LINE?

There are so many hurdles and gatekeepers to the knowledge, and advice you require to move on with your quest to publish. How can you over come no support or advice? What do you do to get noticed, to get popular and published?

Well, many see self publishing a route to change the goal posts set by traditional publishing houses. Online is an option to open the fair playing field and create the equitable, even for the most ordinary of author’s running around about their daily business, and 9-5 work routines!

In fact a growing number of authors have decided to become editor, designer, marketer and sales director for their own ebooks. In return for this hard slog, instead of a modest advance, plus the 8%–15% royalty from a traditional publisher, a self-published author may enjoy royalties of 70% that is if their book is sold at a certain price (£1.49 to £7.81) on Kindle.

Self-published authors can also see their ebooks in high-street shops too. Apparently Waterstones recently made a deal with rival Amazon to sell Kindles and ebooks through its 300 stores.

Yet, it is still the case that the MOST successful self-published ebooks spring from POPULAR and ENTRENCHED genres with large online communities such as; fantasy, erotica, chick-lit, horror and crime thrillers.

To be noticed you need to stand out online. Keywords rule the day; tags and search engine optimisation has never been more important. Distinctive is good, but baffling is not.

If online is the way to break the publishing mould then every author SHOULD create a website (well, that is what the experts advise). An online presence being essential for a new author, because when people buy your book they want to find out more about you. A website is seen as the essential sales and marketing platform. This might be part a parcel of the serious self-publisher.

Another element to be being serious and professional when it comes to self publishing is recruiting the help of external editors, proofreaders and especially cover designers. Is this what ‘self publishing’ means? Well, if you want to make on average 34% more from your ebook sales, yes, you’ll recruit! So merely writing, and completing your book isn’t the end of the fight; production and marketing are still waiting for the next bout to begin.

You see readers care about formatting and proofreading. Sloppy work will get mentioned in any reviews and it will hurt your sales. Although help need not be expensive, why not get potential readers to proof read your work?!

Still, do you know who to go to for help with your website, proof reading, editing and graphic artwork input for that cover?? Seems like its more calling on who you know, or researching and hoping there will be help out there for a nominal fee.

ISN’T THIS ON-LINE PUBLISHING SUPPOSED TO BE EASY?!

After all of this work, how then do you get interest in you and your work from on-line communities? How about sending a review request document to bloggers who have written reviews about books in your genre??? Choose THE most relevant bloggers. Treat it like a sales pitch, and a personalised request is the most persuasive; so is one including details about your book and links to any previous reviews, Twitter feeds and websites to encourage the bloggers interest. Offers of interviews or guest blogs may also work in your favour to provide marketing for your work.

Are you wondering how to find the right audience online though? Well, there are ways and means to get anything, for a price. Marketing software called Tweet Adder enables you to make contact with people who follow other authors in the same genre as you.

Yet, isn’t promoting yourself or your product via Twitter merely spam? There is a fine line yes, and the information on the etiquette of this is conflicting (what a surprise)! Some experts say it is appropriate to promote your work 5 times a day, but others say once an hour. So, depending on your view this marketing technique alone could become a full time job!

It is up to you how far to take the online networking though, as a recent Verso survey estimated that barely 12% of books are discovered from social networks. 50% are still discovered from the old fashioned word of mouth, or personal recommendations.

OK, then what about freebies?? How about giving your ebook away FREE online for a limited time only?? Crazy, yeah? No, as this trick could boost sales once you sell it at its intended price.

SO, THE FUTURE IS BRIGHT, THE FUTURE IS ON-LINE?

The future seems to be one where authors will prove their merit in the self-published world of the internet, before they are snapped up by mainstream publishers. Maybe for some, yet not all self publishers are making it ‘big time’ I.E earning more than say a person could in a ‘normal’ 9-5.

A survey of 1,007 self-published writers, by the way it is one of the most comprehensive insights into the growing market to date; found that while a small percentage of authors were bringing in sums of $100,000 plus, average earnings were just $10,000 a year in 2011. In fact LESS than 10% of the survey earned LESS than $500.

Apparently, if it is the big money you want then you SHOULD focus on self publishing Romantic fiction. Romance authors earned 170% more than their peers, while authors in other genres fared much worse; science-fiction writers earned 38% of the $10,000 average, fantasy writers 32%, and literary fiction authors just 20% of the $10,000 average.

More statistics of success for you; if you are female, educated and in your early 40s great news, ebook success could be yours! Top earners who could live off their earnings were 68% female and 33% of these had a degree. High earners also dedicated more of their time to their writing, churning out 2,047 words a day. Money makes money, perhaps!

ANSWERS PLEASE!!!!!!

Sorry, no REAL answers, and no REAL comprehensive advice or support. It is all a bit vague, and confusing. Negotiating the myriad of the ‘shoulds’ and ‘musts’ of the publishing world are difficult. Whether on-line or via the traditional publishing houses, the obstacles seemed not to have really changed; different settings, yes, but the hoops and hurdles remain the same!

The language of publishing is shrouded in secrecy; how, when, what, who, blah and blah, it is just not quantified enough. It’s an unknown and closed circle of information, there are no guarantees, and little communication; really no one wants to help. I would like to see the doors to being published opened to the normal people, give them a chance too!!! I wish I could make my own cooperative, where advice and proof reading options could be available, but I don’t have the expertise! I am infuriated by the lack of clarification, support and publishing opportunities available to new writers; I wish I could change it!! The doors shut outweigh the doors open, and it’s about time this changed.

What I mean is; if you wanted to be a Doctor or Teacher or another type of professional, would the career path and way to achieve your goal be so uncertain? Would the doors be closed and the chances of success so slim? Would it be shrouded in mystery, confusing, surrounded in baffling opinions and information? Would it be the case that plenty has been documented about the career, but not enough, not the exact of how to actually achieve it!

No, I don’t think so.

There would be the help and support required; there would be information available which is clear and concise. The routes of how to begin that career would be set out for all to see.

Wanting to be a writer is akin to wanting to walk on the Moon; it’s a great pipe-dream, but what is the likelihood of that ever happening? Ummm, about a billion to one I think!

Understand what I mean?

Copy Right Notice:
© Bex Houghagen and The Savvy Senorita, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bex Houghagen and The Savvy Senorita with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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4 thoughts on “The Publishing Ladder

  1. Hi Saavy – you’ve done a lot of research! I think I mentioned this on my site–you should check out She Writes. It’s the first online writing community I joined. It’s free and filled with writers at various stages in their careers–some new, some well-established. It’s very supportive and if you have questions, many are willing to answer. Take some time to look it over and read about the various sub-groups you can join there. Let me know how it goes for you.

    • Hi Jessica,

      Thanks for taking a look. I did get a little carried away, hehe!!!
      OK, yeah, I have had a quick look at She Writes, and intend to spend more time checking the info out. It seems to be quite a good site, so thank you for that!!!!

      I will, oh, let me know how you get on with the self publishing too. Its interesting to read about people’s real experience. I am wishing you all the best!!!!!!!

      Bex

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