Self-Publishing- Paying Your Dues?

http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/88bS58/publishingperspectives.com/2011/06/self-published-ebook-authors-earn-living/#

Starting from the bottom in any industry, we expect that we must pay our dues by interning or even working for free. As I am preparing to graduate college this semester, it is a truth I am coming to terms with. After reading this article, I began to wonder if such a system is not coming into play in the publishing industry, or the writing industry in general.

The publishing industry stays alive by selling new releases by established authors or genres. Taking a risk on a mid-list author or a very “different” book is a dangerous business move that, if it ends badly, could result in a major loss of money. Mid-List authors must look for ways to minimize that risk. In book proposals, they identify markets that exist for their book as well as point out the successes of books that are similar. In the aforementioned article, it is suggested that authors who do a respectable job as a self-published author may be able to find a publisher, a more exciting advance, and better contractual terms. It’s not a bad strategy, as long as the author chooses not to self-publish his most developed idea, saving it for round two.

This idea prompted me into considering other ways an author might pay their dues before soliciting one of the 6 major publishing houses. Blogging, an obvious conclusion, is one way an author may get their name out and publish material in a timely, accessible fashion. Even more successfully, some bloggers can literally transform their blogs into books and expedite their publishing journey. Of course, such authors assume much responsibility as the books editor and photographer, and are expected to use their existing fan bases as initial grounds for marketing.

Freelancing is another place to start. By writing articles for free or without a contract, it is possible to network within the industry and start building a reputation. The more bylines or clips an author can place on his/her resume, the more likely they will be able to find even more work and eventually be solicited by contractors or demand a higher payment.

Self-Publishing- Paying Your dues??

Self-Publishing- Paying Your dues??

http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/88bS58/publishingperspectives.com/2011/06/self-published-ebook-authors-earn-living/#

Starting from the bottom in any industry, we expect that we must pay our dues by interning or even working for free. As I am preparing to graduate college this semester, it is a truth I am coming to terms with. After reading this article, I began to wonder if such a system is not coming into play in the publishing industry, or the writing industry in general.

The publishing industry stays alive by selling new releases by established authors or genres. Taking a risk on a mid-list author or a very “different” book is a dangerous business move that, if it ends badly, could result in a major loss of money. Mid-List authors must look for ways to minimize that risk. In book proposals, they identify markets that exist for their book as well as point out the successes of books that are similar. In the aforementioned article, it is suggested that authors who do a respectable job as a self-published author may be able to find a publisher, a more exciting advance, and better contractual terms. It’s not a bad strategy, as long as the author chooses not to self-publish his most developed idea, saving it for round two.

This idea prompted me into considering other ways an author might pay their dues before soliciting one of the 6 major publishing houses. Blogging, an obvious conclusion, is one way an author may get their name out and publish material in a timely, accessible fashion. Even more successfully, some bloggers can literally transform their blogs into books and expedite their publishing journey. Of course, such authors assume much responsibility as the books editor and photographer, and are expected to use their existing fan bases as initial grounds for marketing.

Freelancing is another place to start. By writing articles for free or without a contract, it is possible to network within the industry and start building a reputation. The more bylines or clips an author can place on his/her resume, the more likely they will be able to find even more work and eventually be solicited by contractors or demand a higher payment.

What Film Can Teach Us About Books

What Books Can teach you About Movies

Hey guys! I hope everyone is looking forward to the Thanksgiving Holidays next week!

Because this blog is concerned with mid-list and new authors, I like to provide anything I find useful as a fellow student of writing. Though I would eventually like to write a book one day, I believe my writing has grown greatly by studying film and screenplay. I think an aspiring writer can learn from the movies.

I admit, at first this notion seems backward. As book writers and booklovers, are we not the first to say that movies ruined a certain book? Left out the best parts? Though movies cut out much material to tell a story in two hours, it is this focus that makes films worth studying. A film has to portray a plot completely, and save no room for fluff. As someone once said, a movie is life with all the boring stuff cut oit. Unlike a book, a movie does not spend a bulk of its time on showcasing scenery or diving into subtext. It does however, consist of a strongly constructed plot filled with characters that show us who they are. Actions move the movie forward, and such should be the case with any page-turner.

To me, movies illustrate a point Flannery O’Connor has made about writing, that “most people do not understand a story”. For the longest time, I don’t think I did. I had developed characters, scenes filled with emotion and reflection but that’s about it. Frankly, not enough happened in my stories.  My characters were not motivated, the circumstances never changed. In films, characters are always acting and the stakes always double within the plot.

Where can you study movies? Most colleges offer interesting listings in genre and screenwriting that maybe available to the community at large. Also, you can find film clubs or interest groups in your locale by checking Meetup.com. In addition, there are some great books about screenwriting, which I’ve listed at the end of this post. The author of one such screenwriting book, Syd Field, died this week. I recommend his book.

 

 

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5 Year Publication Plan to Success

In an earlier post, I mentioned how authors usually have a publication plan. As a new author myself, I thought I would try out this exersize. I found this tool to be very helpful, so I decided to include it in this week’s post as an example. Check it!

INTRODUCTION
This publication plan describes my needs and challenges in developing and publishing my young adult novel, Runt, within the next five years. Categorized by year, this long-range action plan will serve as a comprehensive guide that lists specific objectives, plans and actions. Overall, this publication plan provides an outline for my writing and publication progress in the upcoming years.

YEAR 1
Objective: Outline:
Plan: Create a comprehensive outline of the novel in 1 month.
ACTIONS:
• Week 1: Write a summary of the novel and character biographies.
• Week 2: Plot the known scenes of the novel.
• Week 3: Fill in the holes of the outline.
• Week 4: Create a chapter by chapter guide of events. Evaluate outline, looking for areas of improvement.
Objective: Research:
Plan: Answer the following pivotal questions and begin the book proposal.
ACTIONS:
• Who will buy my book?
What books are similar to the one I’m writing?
• How is my book special?
Objective: Construct Writing Schedule:
Plan: Create deadlines in order to complete the first draft of a novel in a year.
ACTIONS:
• Divide a calendar year by the chapter outline.
• Recruit someone to keep me accountable to my calendar.
Objective: Budget finances and time:
Plan: Determine how I will find time to write while holding a day job.
ACTIONS:
• List my expenses.
Determine how many hours I must work a week.
Designate the remaining available time during the week for writing.
Evaluate feasibility and make appropriate changes.

YEAR 2
Objective: Construct first draft:
Plan: Write the first draft.
ACTIONS:
• Adhere to weekly and monthly writing goals and deadlines.

YEAR 3
Objective: Construct final draft:
Plan: Revise the first draft.
ACTIONS:
• Divide a calendar year by the chapter outline to create a revision schedule.
• Copy-edit the manuscript.

YEAR 4
Objective: Obtain a publisher:
Plan: Market the manuscript and myself.
ACTIONS:
• Write a book proposal.
• Write an author’s profile.
• Network within my circles to find any industry connections.
• Mail off my manuscript.
• Evaluate offers.
• Select a publisher and negotiate a contract.

YEAR 5
Objective: Promote Book Sales:
Plan: Market the book.
ACTIONS:
• Develop an webpage for my book and myself as the author.
• Set up events such as book signings, speeches, radio and television interviews.
• Set up a book tour, if finances allow.

CONCLUSION
By composing my publishing plan, I now have a clear outline that will serve me in the next five years as I work toward my goal of publication. Approaching every year with a defined plan and executable actions, I expect to achieve every yearly objective and arrive at my end goal.

Class Post, Week 13

Background
Inmate involvement in prison arts programs, art-based projects, workshops or exhibitions, are statistically proven to reduce recidivism and may create opportunity for community enrichment. Through such prison arts programs which promote cathartic self-reflection, sentenced time can prove to be constructive and mutually beneficial for former law breakers and the community they initially committed offense against. However, negative connotations of prisoners and the experience of prison result in a lack of community support for these programs. As an attempt to increase support for prison arts programs nationwide, an emphasis on enlisting the community as partners in these programs is essential.

Community partners provide
1) Sustainability-Such art programs when state budgets cannot cover program costs.
2) Unity-Encourages a wider community composed of people from diverse backgrounds

Just Write NM can be considered as such a program. Just Write NM is a burgeoning non-profit organization located in Albuquerque, NM. Through its website (NoWrongJustWrite.org) that hosts text, audio and video from writers and performing artists across the nation, including inmates in Bernalillo County Jail, Just Write is a project that intends to use art as a way to “build community” amongst disconnected populations.

Goal
Increase awareness of Just Write NM, which may potentially result in increased participation from the community as well as funding.
One Measurable Objective to Achieve this Goal
Increase traffic to the blog, which hosts most of the content from those involved in the program.

Strategy
My two tactics for this strategy are
1) Blog contest- Have site visitors enter for a free book of featured writings from those involved in the program.
Such compilations were featured at this year’s ABQ Zine Fest and included artwork as well.
2) Collaboration. Ask those involved in the program to generate interest by posting the weekly writing prompt in their Facebook statuses. I’ve seen this tactic used by some UNM sororities. On the night of their ritual, sorority members post a mysterious phrase about knocking (“Do you hear knocking? Is that someone knocking?) I think posting the writing prompts would have a simulate effect (“What I do when times get rough” and “I Am…”)

SEO MUSINGS

Inappropriate sharing, keyword inclusion and poorly constructed blog posts are criticisms of SEO, or Search Engine Optimization. Despites these concerns, I think SEO has merits if used wisely.

I am new to social media, and perhaps this colors my perspective. As someone who wants to increase their blog’s presence, SEO is very interesting. It is great to know that certain keywords will help establish the topic of my blog. Also, if I generate content that lends itself to sharing, I can find more followers. However, it is important to be educated on SEO. For example, I will not misuse keywords. I will also not make fake accounts to share my own content. Frankly, that would be sad. I believe this use of social media would tick off audiences.

People can spot a trick. Trust can be taken away in a matter of moments and is very difficult to rebuild. I believe one will not be tempted to go to the dark side manipulation of SEO as long as they focus on being true to their blog’s purpose. I like Matt Gemmell’s view that SEO should be natural, growing out of content that is “trustworthy, genuine and relevant.” I will explain what these guidelines look like in the context of SEO.

Trustworthy-
Titles should relate to the subject of the blog post. They should not be keywords slapped over unrelated content. This would be misleading.

Genuine-
A blog that is only focused on being seen is one that is not focused on their purpose or connecting with their current following on a deeper level. Like cancer, they only care about growing. Such blogs have lost sight of themselves and their audience.

Relevant-
Posting often establishes relevance. A good blog listens to the environment around them and responds. Keywords throw on non-relevant material will not be sufficient or fool anyone for very long. The fake sharing of content is not a good way to attempt to make older material new again. The blog that is active will be seen as an informed voice, rather than a repetitive one.

Overall, I believe SEO can be effective, if used responsibly.

Self-Publishing

Self-publishing, at least to me, seems mysterious. It’s an alternative option; one that begs an author to change his/her stripes and become a marketer, designer and editor. But what are one’s options in self-publishing? In this week’s post, I want to share what I learned about the world of self-publishing.

Are You Ready to Self-Publish?
Before moving forward, let’s check our lists. Have you…
1) Researched- Have you looked at titles that deal with your subject matter? Have you investigated your book’s competitions? Publishing is hard, but it’s even harder to publish a book that goes head to head with one currently on the shelves.
2) Have you designed the cover and format of your book? Or, have you found a designer?
3) Is your book edited? Is it a camera ready copy? Are you positive?
4) Have you chosen a publishing platform?

Number 4 is the tricky part. In self-publishing, authors have three options: Vanity, Print-On-Demand, and EBook. Let’s explore these options more deeply.

Vanity Publishing, in which the author pays the publisher to print the book. This is an expensive option. The publisher takes care of the actual printing. The author does not have to store their manuscripts, but will be expected to handle marketing.

Print-On-Demand, in which the author prints his/her book. Such books must be presented in camera ready copy. Certain printers, such as book machines, will print such on demands book at a rate of $0.01 a page. The author has control over content and pricing in this option. However, the author also has to handle copy writes, ISBNS, shipping, and marketing. The authors may have to store these books themselves with this option, though they have the option to pay others to handle these tasks. In particular, this route could be very expensive.

E-Book, in which a book remains in a digital copy. This option has no upfront costs and easily incorporates graphics, audio and video. There are no page limitations or need for storage. This format enables easy distribution and gives the author a high earning potential. Of course, competitive pricing and marketing are concerns in this style of publishing.

Hopefully this post helped clarify some options for the aspiring, self-published authors! Good luck!

Class Post #7

What content categories do you and your friends like to see? (For instance, do you find yourself looking at a lot of lists on sites such as Buzzfeed?)
What type of content do you prefer? (enjoy reading blogs? What about watching videos or looking at infographics?)
Why do you like this content?
What kind of content does not appeal to you as much? How can that content be changed to be more interesting to you?

Content-wise, I defiantly prefer targeted content over the other options. I enjoy when my social media understands my interests and priories such news in my feed. I do not have much time to spend on the internet, so having my interests organized and prioritized is a huge time saver. Of course, my friends are not necessarily the same as me. Many of my friends prefer comedy and spend their time on sites like Chive.com or searching for viral videos. One YouTube channel that happens to be very popular with my friends is Jenna Marbles, a young comedic who takes a unique approach on debating modern issues like the Meaning of Halloween or Chivalry. Other friends like Pintrest, or List sites. When one is surfing the web, there is definite appeal of having one map that includes a collection of links. I find Twitter to operate in this way, which allows people to peruse a list of interests and select something to investigate further.

As far as content type, I love info graphics. To me, this form balances straightforward text with demonstrative, instructional images and increases understanding of complex topics. Info graphics also allow for color, art and creativity to be utilized. To me, these vidual aids are reminiscent of those found in textbooks, and are as effective. Info graphics are a more entertaining piece to study and learn from. One way info graphics can be enhanced is if they were embedded with links for more information in the area of the step/part. While info graphics provide much information, it is best to include as much of it as possible without muddling the visual artifact.

Video is one content type I discover issues with. I find one problem with video is that buffering can become annoying if the Wi-Fi signal is not strong. Of course, a compromise is to lower the video’s resolution in this instance, which muddles the information being presented. Also, one must look for headphones if they do not want to distract others while they watch the video. Also, plugins are commonly outdated which slows down the consumption of this media.

Writing for Comedy Television

Recently, I read two autobiographies of very successful comedy writers: Tina Fey’s “Bossy Pants” and Mindy Kaling’s “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me”? Underneath the entertaining tone and jokes, I found that both these books had interesting insider views on the industry of comedy writing. In this post, I’ve listed a few helpful ideas.

1)      Comedy Writers Know how to Act and make Time to Hone their Skill.

Tina Fey majored in drama. She worked long hours at a boring office job to afford improve classes. Though Kaling had a job as a babysitter, she and her roommate wrote a one hour skit in which they directed and performed. Because these two comedy writers knew how to deliver lines, they knew how to craft them. The beauty of being able to act and compose your own work is that you don’t need anyone else’s permission. You can write a skit that you can hope someone with power will supply the vision for, or you can do the imagining on you own and wait for no one.

2)      Comedy Writers Start Small

Fey traveled in a comedic group for years until she networked with the producer of Saturday Night Live. Kaling committed her time  and effort to her one act play until she met the producer of The Office. These comedic writers climbed the corporate ladder. Because they never stopped learning and practicing their craft, they were able to demonstrate their ability and love of their art.

3)      Comedy Writers are Resilient and take Risks

Fey agonized over writing the pilot of 30 Rock and was unable to get Baldwin to sign up as the lead until the last minute. Kailing tried to be a writer for other shows that fell apart before the pilot aired. Ultimately, 30 Rock became one of TV’s most unusual sitcoms, though was reluctant to change in order to appear more mainstream, a choice that caused the series to miss out on certain awards and audiences. Kailing was hesitant to do a remake of a successful British show worried how to pull it off

These autobiograhies really helped me discern ways to break into difficult industires, such as writing for televison. I’ll post other options such as this one in the weeks ahead.