Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Converting Your Business Model to Self-Publishing Guest Post by Jaleta Clegg

Converting Your Business Model to Self-Publishing Guest Post by Jaleta Clegg

But first a note by Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Making the Leap from publishing through a publisher to self-publishing is a lot harder than simply starting out aiming to self-publish.

When I started out, I thought I'd enjoy publishing a fanzine.  I tried it -- nope.  As Dr. McCoy would have said, "I'm a writer not a publisher."

Today, those who have multiple talents from cover design to marketing, and from fiction writing to copy-writing, are spending their young years honing all these skills and building the social-network following to make them pay off.

All of this broad-ranging talent development will eventually change the world drastically, a change I look forward to eagerly.  This is the way things started out, long before the fixed-type printing press, and only later became so complex a writer couldn't do it all alone.

Today, there are tools, websites, indie-editors, indie-book designers, indie-publicists, and so on combining skills to circumvent the large Internationally Owned publishing houses.

Bookstores are morphing as fast as they can, looking for a way around the collapsing marketing chains.  Distributors and warehousing, trucking and delivery services are all going -- "printing" is a thing of the past, as most of the operations are now computerized, and printing presses consist of huge buildings streaming tons and tons of paper through to get printed.

Well, then there's CREATE SPACE and many other Print On Demand operations that can make paper books to order, rather than warehousing them.  Most bookstores can't afford to carry POD books -- the margins just don't work with traditional distribution discounting.

But Amazon can and does make a profit on POD.  It's all in the business model.

Many writers off the New York Times Bestseller list, in Romance, Mystery, Western, Historical, Science Fiction, Fantasy, and general fiction, have also abandoned the big publishers and are releasing their own backlists, sometimes along with new novels in their series, self-publishing through smashwords and other outlets.  You'll find me on that organization's website, too, in the dropdown of authors listed.

They organized to help them promote their novels -- you can find their SALE ITEMS listed on this page:

There is a seething ferment of change coming at us out of the FANFIC communities, and we'll talk more about that in December or maybe January. 

Meanwhile, listen here to a writer who has been working with a small press publisher, and finally had her career swerve into the self-publishing Indie business model despite all her best intentions. 

-----------GUEST POST BY JALETA CLEGG--------

Hi, I'm Jaleta Clegg and I'm a self-published author now. (Check out my site at http://www.jaletac.com)

I never wanted to be a self-published author. I have a lot of author friends who love it and wouldn't have it any other way. I respect them. But I never wanted to be one of them. I published my first three books and lots of short stories through small presses. Sure, there were shortcomings and things that weren't as I'd envisioned when I set out to publish. But I was happy, satisfied with the choice I'd made.

Then it happened. My current publisher called me up. "Your books are great. Everyone loves them. They get great reviews. But no one's buying them. We're going to have to let the rest of the series go."It was a business decision, one I support. But not one I wanted to live with. After spending a week agonizing over my options, I took a deep breath and dove head-first into self-publishing. I'd dabbled before with some short stories, got deeper with two short story collections last June, but this was over-my-head jump-in-the-deep-end-and-hope-I-can-swim.

I won't lie and tell you self-publishing is all roses and loafing around on sofas watching TV and eating chocolate. It's a business. And sometimes you have to make hard choices. You have to do paperwork. You have to be your own cheerleader. You have to be your own boss. That's hard work.

An author writes, right? Yes. A publisher edits, does cover design and interior layout, writes cover blurbs and advertising blurbs, makes contacts for marketing, and gets the book out where people can find it and buy it. They also deal with taxes and business licensing and a myriad other business things. If you're about to jump into self-publishing, stop and ask yourself this question, "Do I really want to run a business and be my own boss?" If you thought meeting a publisher's deadline was difficult and put the pressure on, it's a thousand times worse when you're the boss. If you aren't self-motivated, don't jump onto the self-publishing bandwagon. You're the one who will have to poke and prod yourself into getting the edits done on time. You're the one who has to run naked in public, I mean make contacts for advertising and marketing your book. (Can you tell this is one I hate more than the others?) You're the one who will have to track income and sales and figure out taxes. It will eat your life if you let it. It isn't just about writing a great story when you self-publish, it's about taking care of all the details that publishers get paid to deal with.

Don't assume you can do it all yourself, either. I'm blind as a bat to many of my writing faults. I need a good editor to help my books shine. I haven't found one I can afford on my own yet, so I'm trusting my beta readers more than I should. That's another myth people think about self-publishing: It won't cost me anything to get this out there. That's true if you don't really care about editing it or creating a really nice cover. Don't do it yourself unless you're sure you have the skills and expertise to pull it off professionally. That said, there are many websites popping up that cater to the self-published author. The cover for Kumadai Run is directly from http://www.selfpubbookcovers.com/ and it's beautiful. It also cost me a small chunk of change. It was worth it, in my opinion. I've done cover design before and it's very hard. It takes hours to get those photos and fonts just right. I'm happy to pay someone else to make it for me.

It shouldn't cost you a fortune to get your book out, though. A few hundred dollars at most, all of which you can write off as a business expense, provided you've set up a business for your publishing. You haven't? Watch out for the government, then.

Would I go back to the publisher? Probably yes, mostly because it simplifies my life. Maybe I just haven't been bitten hard enough by the self-publishing bug. Maybe I really don't mind turning over control to someone else so I can focus on writing more books and taking care of my family.

But that's out of the picture now. What publisher would want books 4-11 of a space opera series, especially when the first three haven't sold well? No one. I could publish them myself or let the series fade and die unfinished. I couldn't disappoint the few rabid fans I've got, so I bit the bullet and put book 4 out there with the rest to follow.

So anyone want to read a fun space opera adventure series with a strong female lead character and a whole cast of sometimes kooky characters? The Fall of the Altairan Empire series is getting good reviews, especially from people who loved the campy golden age pulp sci-fi stories of the 50's and those who just enjoy a good fun beach read with plenty of action. Check out the books at http://www.altairanempire.com

Or look for my short stories at http://www.jaletac.com. They range from science fiction adventure stories that tie in to the series,  to fantasy, to silly horror, to romance, and even a couple of weird westerns.And if anyone wants to trade books for website design, I could really use a website designer's help!
You can find me on Twitter as @Jaleta_Clegg or on Facebook as Jaleta Clegg's Altairan Empire series.

Or look me up on Amazon - http://www.amazon.com/Jaleta-Clegg/e/B0036WC0FC

Good resources I've found for self-published authors:
Covers - http://www.selfpubbookcovers.com/

Smashwords for ebooks - https://www.smashwords.com/
Createspace for paperbacks -

Kindle Direct Publishing for Kindle ebooks - http://kdp.amazon.com/

Supportive sites for indie authors:
Bestsellerbound - a wonderful community and a great resource.

Need help? Just ask. http://quietfurybooks.com/messageboard/index.php
Facebook has many many groups including the Science Fiction Romance Brigade and Author's Think Tank
BroadUniverse - supporting women authors of science fiction, fantasy, and horror - http://broaduniverse.org/

---------END GUEST POST BY JALETA CLEGG--------------------

All right, Jaleta Clegg has pointed you at a variety of resources.

Remember, no publisher DOES IT ALL THEMSELVES. 

The business model of publisher is that the publisher does almost nothing and makes a big profit doing it.  They out-source the specialty tasks, and hire "editors" to choose books that will sell well via the distribution channels the publisher has established.

Each publisher's imprint, and each line within a publishing house, is designed so that all the books are "the same but different" -- everything with a particular logo on it is designed to appeal to a specific market.  All publishers actually do is define markets, set up mechanisms for reaching those markets, and then feed product into the pipeline to those markets.

All editors do is conform the writer's product to the publisher's delivery channel's size and shape so it'll get to the reader the publisher targets (not the reader the writer targets; the reader the publisher targets.  You will sell well if your writing conforms to your publisher's delivery channel.)

If you are going to be your own publisher, you should be thinking in terms of the target market you need, how to reach that market, and where to get the individual Talents you need to package your merchandise to appeal to that market.  That is what publishers do - they package and deliver a uniform product. 

The more uniform the product, the more regular the delivery of it, the bigger the publisher's profit.  It's that simple.  Be your own publisher; pocket the publisher's share of what your book can earn. 

Think of this in two ways while researching: 
A) You are a writer looking at your publishing options;
B) You are a character in a novel about having to look at your publishing options.

Either way, you will learn a lot by clicking links in this post.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

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