I’m a writer: Is it okay to scream for joy now?

“It’s an exciting time to be a writer.”

This seemed to be the buzz phrase at the NJRW conference I attended last weekend. Every other workshop, particularly those that spoke about the expansion of E-pub, self-publishing and the juggling for position of traditional publishing, seemed to hold this sentence in high regard.

After, reading an article about authors no longer being at the mercy of publishers, I began thinking about my options, and started to see the truth in those few words.

While I’ve mentioned that I would love to be published by a traditional publisher, I’m starting to see the possibilities of venturing into other avenues of publication, which may lead me back to that traditional path.

At one point, traditional writer’s organizations, such as RWA, didn’t acknowledge self-published authors as “true” authors. In all fairness and appreciation, RWA is an organization whose mission is, “to advance the professional interests of career-focused romance writers through networking and advocacy. RWA works to support the efforts of its members to earn a living, to make a full-time career out of writing romance—or a part-time one that generously supplements his/her main income.”

The organization didn’t believe that the author should “pay” for the publication of one’s book. I totally get and respect that.

However, as we all know, times are changing.

Authors are trying to broaden their readership, have control over their work and sell books where they can. Thank goodness, RWA was savvy enough to recognize that many of its members have gone the e-pub and self-publishing route, and support them. This is a good thing.

As I see it, I can remain a member of RWA and NJRW and be considered a “published” author, even if I self-pub. Granted, the author must make a certain amount in revenue from their self-publishing to be considered a true published author within RWA.

But even with that caveat, (which isn’t unreasonable) this new consideration gives an author the opportunity to get their books out, particularly when traditional publishing is slow to pick up and rejections are more than overwhelming.

If I decide to go the self-publishing route, I will follow two words of advice that often come with the, “it’s an exciting time to be a writer,” cheer—copy editor. I will secure the services of a copy editor who can go over my book with a fine tooth comb and offer suggestions that will make my book the best it can be.

I don’t want to publish crap. And I don’t want to try and sell it to anyone. IMHO, some of the books on the self-pub scene totally missed that important piece of advice.

Just tossing it out there on this Thursday afternoon.

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Thursday’s Toss: E-book settlement has publishing world in turmoil

Interesting article on the e-book settlement worth sharing.

E-book settlement has publishing world in turmoil.

The case, which alleges that three major publishers, Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers and Simon & Schuster conspired to limit competition in the e-book market, and fix the retail price, is enough to make my head spin.

Was it the “in desperate times you must take desperate measures” philosophy that made them think they would achieve their goal? I’m still trying to figure that one out.

And with all this “turmoil,” I can’t help but wonder where authors and pre-published authors, particularly those traditionally published, should take cover. Or should we seek refuge in the e-embrace of Amazon and Barnes and Noble?

Just tossing it out there.

Self-publishing and e-books: The new sheriff (and deputy) in town

For decades, self-publishing has been the dirty word that’s been swept under the tumbleweeds and kept locked in the back room of the saloon. And e-what?

But times …they are a changin’ and people—particularly progressive publishers—are taking notice. It’s good for some, not so good for others.

Between self-published authors and e-books, one can’t possibly look at the publishing industry the way it once was. From book covers to trailers to print-on-demand (POD), things on changing, and everyone wants in. Even traditional authors who are established are having their back titles published in e-book format. They see the potential.

One company enticing authors into seeing an even greater potential is PurpleBrainBanana, an online marketing company that develops high-end story graphics, to die-for- book trailers and marketing tactics worth remembering. The article touts, “how self publishers and authors notice a huge increase in online sales.”

With all the publicity, the battle lines for or against self-publishing and all facets of e-books are being drawn.

And while it’s dying down (somewhat), the recent shut down of LendInk, left a lot to ponder about the e-books, authors’ copyrights and contracts.

From the incident, it’s clear that traditionally published authors are trying to hold on to their royalties, and fight any form of–what they deemed to be–piracy, while those who believe in e-books and all it entails, are fighting for the right to read (and lend).

While the authors who shut it down disagree, supporters of LendInk, say the site has the capability to increase reader base and royalties, (particularly among Indie authors) and provides a way for the avid reader to continue reading. There was even rationalization about someone being allergic to the paperback books and e-books gave them the opportunity to read to their heart’s content.

Frankly, my head is bursting from the ever evolving self-publishing and e-book brouhaha. I’m a progressive traditionalist. I’d like to have my books published by a reputable publisher, earn royalties, distribute in mass market and dabble in e-book. (The techy in me, totally loves e-book!) I want it all and in this current climate, there’s too much from which to choose.

One thing is for certain, e-books and self-publishing are coming on strong, both barrels blazing and with reinforcements such as PurpleBrainBanana.com. I don’t think they’re leaving town any time soon.

I’m in a quandary, though. Perhaps, I need to visit the saloon, and finish reading my Google alerts—at least 100+ articles, so that I can make heads or tails of this growing debate.

What’s your take?

Getting the most out of your Author blog

For authors, whether you’re aspiring or established, social media has become the way to attract potential readers and yes, agents and publishers who may be interested in representing you. Although there is no agent or publisher involved, social media is also an Indie author’s best friend. It puts you where you need to be–connected to your readers.

At a past New Jersey Romance Writer’s conference, a group author friends and I were discussing our social media avenues. We all discovered that we were either blogging, active on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin or in the process of getting started.

This was great to see that many of us were doing what industry professionals suggest: Getting your name and brand out to the universe. You might ask, “How do I do that?”

One book, I found to be very helpful in answering that question is Christina Katz’s, “Get Known Before the Book Deal: Use Your Personal Strengths To Grow An Author Platform.”

IMHO, it’s a must have for any author writing or planning to write in the age of social media. Ms. Katz offers sound advice on growing your brand and building a platform, especially if you’re not published yet. And one way to grow your brand and build a platform is through blogging.

Let me sidestep and explain the brand and build a platform concept. If you think of Nora Roberts, Nicholas Sparks, or John Grisman, 9 times out of 10, you already know what kind of book you’re about to read, along with the theme and even some of their character types. It’s what they’re known for writing, it’s their “brand.” As authors, they have a strong, identifiable platform.

Now back to blogging. Nowadays, almost everyone has a blog. However, as an aspiring author or even an established one, are you getting the most from your blog?

A Writer’s Digest article, “16 Blogging Tips For Writing Fresh Content & Attracting Readers,” gives advice specific to authors who want to build a brand and their readership. As an author, there are a few things we should do, not only to separate ourselves from the pack of blogs, but to create a professional platform that will entice readers, agents and publishers.

Hashing through the e-hoopla

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been following publishing industry news about how romance giant, Harlequin, has branched out to self-publishing and e-publishing.

As a business communicator, I see how the world has adjusted, and still is, adjusting to the various means and trends of communicating (e-print, e-news, INTERNET, hello!). IMHO, it’s a given and bottom-line advantageous for corporations to rethink how they do business and communicate.

And as an aspiring romance author, I believe this holds true for any other company, with stockholders (i.e. publishers).

Don’t get me wrong. I believe in the standard publishing tradition of receiving an advance and royalties for one’s hard work and talent.

However, I am not opposed to having my work published by an only-digital publisher such as Samhain, Carina Press, Ellora’s Cave, and Loose ID–to name a few (although Samhain and Ellora’s Cave are doing print). These e-publishers allow authors who may never publish traditionally, the chance to have their work published and their talent displayed.

I’ve been following self-publishing and have friends who have gone that route and have become successful. They did so because they couldn’t find a traditional publisher (or agent) willing to take the chance on their work.

I’m sure we’ve heard plenty of stories how a self-published author, who was scoffed by traditional publishers, goes on to make millions. That’s great and I’m happy for them.

But I’m also happy for the author who, after self-publishing, receives accolades and (guess what?), an agent—after their book sold a few thousand copies. This is a monumental feat for pre-published authors who have developed personal relationships with the big “R”—rejection letters. It shows determination, confidence and resilience.

I’m not sold on publishers that offer to help “self” publish, but charge a large fee and want half the royalties (i.e. Harlequin Horizons, who have subsequently changed their name to DellArte Press). If I’m going to self publish, I’d like to do the work and reap the benefits.

As with anything, you have to weigh the good and bad. With self-publishing and digital publishing, you have to be aware of the pitfalls and disadvantages. Do your homework. Talk to people who have been through the process, just as you would talk to authors who have dealt with certain traditional publishers.

I’m not looking for millions. (But if they come, hey that’s a different story!) I’m looking for a nice bottom line that my business partners (agent, publishers) and I can enjoy. My main goal is to offer romance readers what they want—a story that makes you sigh, cry and beg for more.

Great Authors and Inspirers

As promised, a few pictures of a few friends and authors at RWA. These authors are just a few of my favorite people. Everyone was really great and down-to-earth. As I mentioned, RWA was exhausting and exhilarating. However, meeting some of my favorite authors added to the fun and an atomsphere of creativity.

Next year’s conference is in Tennessee, Grand Ole Opry country and I’m hoping to attend.

Pictured: Romance authors Kimberly Kaye Terry, Celeste Norfleet and Farrah Rochon take a break from RWA activities.Kim, Celeste & Farrah

2009-07-16 20.49.33Kimberly Kaye Terry and Candice Poarch smiling for the camera phone!