Digital Publishing Naysayers

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Since I've been totally focused on finishing up my first Indie-published work, I'm hyper aware of anything to do with the self-publishing industry.

I hope to have my first ebook The Good Girl Conspiracy, (Book 1 of The Good, The Bad, and The Girly) available for download on March 11.

There! I have set the goal and carved it in digital stone. (If I wasn't bogged down with taxes, I'd have it up much sooner, but it's no use complaining about that because the rest of you have that same issue this time of the year.)

I've been reading a lot of Indie publishing blogs, and I'm as excited as these blog publishers about the possibilities for authors in this "outside the box" publishing. Of course, there were and are naysayers.

Here are a few because they're funny and short-sighted. These words exited the mouths of today's selection of learned folks within the last 10 years. Most of these people were talking about electronic publishing with a company, not indie publishing. However, many hold this belief, or worse, about indie publishing. There's a schism between traditionally published authors and indie published.

Rudy Rucker (I'm pretty sure this is Mr. Rucker Sr.), author, mathematician, computer scientist and philospher said: "Electronic distribution is more of a fall-back strategy for putting out a book that isn't deemed profitable enough to print. You hardly make any money publishing an electronic book."

Notes science fiction and fantasy author Anne McCaffrey said: "I wouldn't encourage new writers to start off publishing through electronic media... it still isn't wide enough for the readership they would need to get a good start."

Even Bill Gates weighed in with: "Intellectual property has the shelf life of a banana." He also said: "Some people read off of their Palms and Pocket PCs, but the real immersible reading experience takes a full-screen device." (Gee, I hope all the iPhone readers don't get upset with that declaration.)

Takeaway Truth

Nineteenth century author C. N. Bovee said: "There is probably no hell for authors in the next world - they suffer so much from critics and publishers in this." At least if one goes the indie publishing route, an author may succeed in reducing the hell by fifty per cent.

So You Want to Break Into the Publishing Industry?

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Good morning! Let's get a cup of coffee and welcome a Guest Blogger today whose topic is about breaking into the publishing industry. If you've wondered about the various opportunities in publishing, now's a good time to learn what's out there.




So You Want to Break Into the Publishing Industry?

This post was written by T. Hadley, who has also written about obtaining various accounting degrees online and is working towards becoming a forensic scientist.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the publishing industry can always expect to take a hit during times of economic downturn. Couple that with the rise of the internet and the subsequent demise of traditional print media and it's no wonder you always hear about newspapers folding and talking heads proclaiming the publishing industry dead. On the contrary, the industry far from dead, just changing, like so many other industries experiencing growing pains as they transition into a new, on-line, interactive world. Anybody may be able to have a blog but the public still turns to trusted sources for news and other material, and thankfully, books, business-to-business or "trade" publications, and textbooks still see the same if not better circulations as earlier in the decade. Here are 8 hot jobs in the publishing industry that ARE on the rise.

Graphic Designer

Graphic designers are in high demand for not only the layout of the publications themselves but that of the publication's website, and are often required to do extensive work on both. Graphic designers must be familiar with InDesign and similar layout applications, and must be able to create an intuitive, immediately eye-catching, and engaging interface for online content. Jobseekers with web design and animation experience will have an edge over the competition.

Market and Survey Researcher

Market and survey researchers find out what the public wants by means of surveys, focus group discussions, etc. They figure out how best to reach readers and what content they want to view, an increasingly important aspect of the industry because with so many options available online and in print, it is essential to find the audience that will keep coming back for more. Market and survey researchers report their findings to....

Advertising Sales Agent

Advertising sales are what fuel newspapers, magazines, and their websites, and so advertising sales agents are absolutely necessary to find the revenue that will keep these publications alive. Agents analyze findings from the market research department and present them to potential clients in the hopes they will buy advertising space in their publication and/or website. Commissions often make up a large portion of an advertising sales agent's earnings, and so this can be a tough way to go, especially in less than ideal economic times.

Writers for Trade Publications

It is increasingly difficult for writers to find steady, paid work, especially as most publications downsize or hire out work on a freelance basis, but one often overlooked though less sexy sector of the publishing industry that is hiring workers is the business-to-business or trade publication. These smaller publications cover stories and topics specific to certain industries and so only appeal to a small but stable audience, one with fewer (if any) options to receive their news. Writers for these publications may write for various magazines at once and may also be required to handle other tasks as well, and so should have some experience in layout, photography, and/or graphic design to help their prospects.

Public Relations Specialist

No one will read a book if they do not know it exists, and so it is the public relations specialist's job to get the word out and create buzz about new material. PR specialists devise ad campaigns in other publications, radio and television ads, etc., set up author interviews and promotional tours, and utilize any medium possible to reach their target audience. Increasingly experience and expertise with social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) is essential.

Textbook Writer

Textbook sales constitute almost half of the revenue generated by the publishing industry, and with more students (especially in higher education) than ever, the demand for new textbooks and revised editions of those already published does not look to diminish anytime soon. Generally professors or other experts in a certain field devise the content for a textbook, but oftentimes need help putting their thoughts to paper in a digestible, engaging way; this is where the jobs are, and so textbook writers should have knowledge of the field to translate highly technical talk into something that makes sense for a student.

Freelance Writer

More and more in today's business climate writers are being hired on a freelance basis. Publishing companies commission freelance writers to complete any kind of assignment, mostly short-term but also recurring columns, scripts, and books. Freelancer writers are self-employed and so have the freedom to handpick the assignments they undertake and also work on their own schedule. As a downside, jobs can be hard to find and so freelancing can be a tough way to make a living, particularly as an un-established or new writer. However, there are always jobs out there waiting to be found, and it is a good way to get published and create a portfolio to use when finding steadier work.

Webmaster

The area with by far the best job prospects, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is that of computer network, systems, and database administrators. With so many periodicals and other publications already online, and many books being converted to a digital format, it is absolutely essential to have a working, fluid, interactive, intuitive, and cutting edge website. Webmasters turn publishers and writers' ideas into online reality, and must be up-to-date on current technologies and innovations for implementation.

Video Promotion 101

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A lot of authors and regular business people are using videos to promote a name, product, or company. Of course, I'm assuming you have already uploaded the video to YouTube (since I told you yesterday about 3 apps to help you do this) and other public websites that host video clips.

What else can you do to expose your video to the world? Here are some thoughts on the subject.

Spread Link Around

1. Place a link or clip on your personal social networking page.

2. Place a link or clip on your website and your blog.

3. Place a link in your signature file for emails.

4. Place a link in your signature for groups and forums to which you belong.

Send CD/DVD

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what's a video worth? If you've made hard copies of your video, don't hesitate to pass them out. A lot of people still use CDs and DVDs. A jewel case of blanks is cheap. Here are some places to send the DVD/CD.

1. Include a disc in your press kit.

2. If you're donating items to a conference, include discs of your video.

3. If you're pitching yourself as a speaker, include a disc to the person who books engagements.

4. If you're doing a personal appearance (speech, workshop, book signing, etc.) bring some discs to pass out.

Takeaway Truth

Try these new promotional tools and find what works for you.

3 Apps Make Fast Video Upload

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Windows Live Movie Maker is something you probably have on your computer. If you don't, it's easy to get, and it's a free download. Thought it's a good basic program for editing videos, it may lack some of the tools you need to make your video hobby easier.

If that's the case, then you need a plug-in, a software app that's an extension created to make Movie Maker more user-friendly.

Here are 3 Apps To Improve Video Uploads and they're all from LiveUpload.

1. LiveUpload to Facebook lets you use Movie Maker to publish content directly to Facebook.

2. LiveUpload to YouTube lets you publish straight to YouTube.

3. LiveUpload to SmugMe lets you publish straight to SmugMe.

After you download each plug-in, open it to install it. Then start up your Movie Maker app, click on Publish>More Services, and you will see an option to publish to either Facebook, YouTube, or SmugMe, depending on which plugin you're using.

Takeaway Truth

The web has a wealth of resources to make your work easier and faster, and a lot of them are free.

Writing and Windows Wine

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In case you haven't figured it out, I'm up to my earlobes in a writing project. Couldn't get a blog posted today because of that.

However, my friend Frank sent me this jpg. I thought it was LOL funny so I wanted to share it with you. Don't you love it?

Takeaway Truth

A good laugh every day keeps the tiredness away. I'm going for that glass of wine now.

eBook Royalty Mess

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Report from Authors Guild Inc. This article is posted here with their permission.

E-Book Royalty Mess: An Interim Fix

February 11, 2011. To mark the one-year anniversary of the Great Blackout, Amazon's weeklong shut down of e-commerce for nearly all of Macmillan's titles, we're sending out a series of alerts on the state of e-books, authorship, and publishing. The first installment (How Apple Saved Barnes & Noble. Probably.) discussed the outcome, of that battle, which introduced a modicum of competition into the distribution of e-books. The second, (E-Book Royalty Math: The House Always Wins) took up the long-simmering e-royalty debate, and showed that publishers generally do significantly better on e-book sales than on hardcover sales, while authors always do worse.

Today, we look at the implications of that disparity, and suggest an interim solution to minimize the harm to authors.

Negotiating a publishing contract is frequently contentious, but authors have long been able to take comfort in this: once the contract is signed, the interests of the author and the publisher are largely aligned. If the publisher works to maximize its revenues, it will necessarily work to maximize the author's royalties. This is the heart of the traditional bargain, whereby the author licenses the publisher long-term, exclusive book rights in the world's largest book market in exchange for an advance and the promise of diligently working to the joint benefit of author and publisher.

Now, for the first time, publishers have strong incentives to work against the author's interests.

As we discussed in our last alert, authors and publishers have traditionally acted as equal partners, splitting the net proceeds from book sales. Most sub-licenses, for example, provide for a fifty-fifty split of proceeds, and the standard hardcover trade book royalty -- 15% of the retail price -- represented half of the net proceeds from selling the book when the standard was established.* But trade book publishers currently offer e-book royalties at precisely half what the terms of a traditional proceeds-sharing arrangement would dictate -- paying just 25% of net income on e-book sales. That's why the shift from hardcover to e-book sales is a win for publishers, a loss for authors.

The Pushback

The publisher's standard reply to this -- which we heard yet again after last week's alert -- is a muddle, conflating fixed costs with variable costs. Let's address that before we move on.

For any book, a publisher has two types of fixed costs: those attributable to the publisher's operations as a whole (office overhead, investments in infrastructure, etc.) and those attributable to the particular work (author's advance, editing, design). The variable costs for the book are the unit costs of production. These costs (print, paper, binding, returns, royalty) tell a publisher how much more it costs to get, say, 10,000 additional hardcover books to stores and sell them. The publisher's gross profit per unit (unit income minus unit costs) is the amount against which the author's royalties are traditionally and properly measured. With this sort of analysis, a publisher can compare the gross profitability per unit of, for example, a hardcover to a trade paperback edition.

Investments in technology change nothing. Publishers never argued, for example, that hardcover royalties needed to be cut when they began equipping their editorial and design staffs with expensive (at the time) personal computers, buying pricey computers and software for their designers, tying those computers together with ever-more-powerful Ethernet cables and routers, and hiring support staff to maintain it all. Publishers simply took their share of the gross profits from book sales and applied it to all of their costs, as they always have. What remains after deducting those costs is deemed the publisher's net profit. Similarly, authors take their share of the proceeds of their book sales and apply it to their overhead (food, clothing, shelter, and computer technology) and costs (their labor and out-of-pocket costs to write the manuscript). What remains is the author's net profit.

The proper question is this: how much better off is a publisher if it sells a book, print or digital, than it is if it doesn't? That is what we measured. We then compared that to the author's print and digital royalties per book.

Publisher's E-Gains + Author's E-Losses = E-Bias

Applying standard trade hardcover and e-book terms to Kathryn Stockett's "The Help," David Baldacci's "Hell's Corner," and Laura Hillenbrand's "Unbroken," we found that publishers do far better by selling e-books than hardcovers (realizing "e-gains" of 27% to 77%), while the authors do much worse (suffering "e-losses" of 17% to 39%). Publishers can't help being influenced by the gains; e-bias will inevitably drive their decisions.

Some simplified examples show how e-bias plays out in publishing decisions:

1. Promotional Bias. Assume a publisher is contemplating whether to invest a portion of a book's limited marketing budget in stimulating the sale of digital books (paying for featured placement in the Kindle or Nook stores, perhaps) or in encouraging print sales through a promotion at physical bookstores. Either way, the publisher expects the investment to boost sales by 1,000 copies. A sensible publisher would spend the money to promote digital books, pocketing an additional $1,570 to $4,170 on those sales compared to hardcover sales. Such a decision, however, would cost Ms. Stockett, Mr. Baldacci, and Ms. Hillenbrand $1,470, $1,570, and $670, respectively, in royalties.

2. Print-Run Bias. E-gains of 27% to 77% become irresistible when a publisher looks at risk-adjusted returns on investment, as any businessperson would. Once a book is typeset for print, the publisher must invest an additional $30,000 to have 10,000 hardcover books ready for sale, using the figures from our prior alert. Once the digital template is created and distributed to the major vendors, on the other hand, there is no additional cost to having the book ready for purchase by an unlimited number of customers. Even the encryption fee (50 cents per book, at most) isn't incurred until the reader purchases the book. In this environment a publisher is nearly certain to keep print runs as short as possible, risking unavailability at bookstores, in order to decrease overall risk and maximize the publisher's return on investment.

Publishers, in short, will work to increase e-book sales at the inevitable expense of hardcover sales, tilting more and more purchases toward e-books, and their lower royalties. Publishers, as sensible, profit-maximizing entities, will work against their authors' best interests.

An Interim Solution: Negotiate an E-Royalty Floor

This won't go on forever. Bargain basement e-royalty rates are largely a result of negotiating indifference. The current industry standards for e-royalties began to gel a decade or so ago, when there was no e-book market to speak of. Authors and agents weren't willing to walk away from publishing contracts over a royalty clause that had little effect on the author's earnings.

Once the digital market gets large enough, authors with strong sales records won't put up with this: they'll go where they'll once again be paid as full partners in the exploitation of their creative work. That day is fast approaching, and would probably be here already, were it not for a tripwire in the contracts of thousands of in-print books. That tripwire? If the publisher increases its e-royalty rates for a new book, the e-royalty rates of countless in-print books from that publisher will automatically match the new rate or be subject to renegotiation.

So, what's to be done in the meantime? Here's a solution that won't cascade through countless backlist books: soften the e-bias by eliminating the author's e-loss. That is, negotiate for an e-royalty floor tied to the prevailing print book royalty amount.

Turning again to our last alert for examples, here are the calculations of e-losses and e-gains without an e-royalty floor:

"The Help," by Kathryn Stockett
Author's Standard Royalty: $3.75 hardcover; $2.28 e-book.
Author's E-Loss = -39%
Publisher's Margin: $4.75 hardcover; $6.32 e-book.
Publisher's E-Gain = +33%

"Hell's Corner," by David Baldacci
Author's Standard Royalty: $4.20 hardcover; $2.63 e-book.
Author's E-Loss = -37%
Publisher's Margin: $5.80 hardcover; $7.37 e-book.
Publisher's E-Gain = +27%

"Unbroken," by Laura Hillenbrand
Author's Standard Royalty: $4.05 hardcover; $3.38 e-book.
Author's E-Loss = -17%
Publisher's Margin: $5.45 hardcover; $9.62 e-book.
Publisher's E-Gain = +77%

Here are the calculations with an e-royalty floor:

"The Help," by Kathryn Stockett
Author's Adjusted Royalty: $3.75 hardcover; $3.75 e-book.
Author's E-Loss = Zero
Publisher's Margin: $4.75 hardcover; $4.85 e-book.
Publisher's E-Gain = +2%

"Hell's Corner," by David Baldacci
Author's Adjusted Royalty: $4.20 hardcover; $4.20 e-book.
Author's E-Loss = Zero
Publisher's Margin: $5.80 hardcover; $5.80 e-book.
Publisher's E-Gain = Zero

"Unbroken," by Laura Hillenbrand
Author's Adjusted Royalty: $4.05 hardcover; $4.05 e-book.
Author's E-Loss = Zero
Publisher's Margin: $5.45 hardcover; $8.85 e-book.
Publisher's E-Gain = +62%

While this wouldn't restore authors to full partnership status in the sale of their work, it would prevent them from being harmed as publishers try to maximize their revenues. This is only an interim solution, however. In the long run, authors will demand to be restored to full partnership, and someone will give them that status.

Next time, Part 4 of this series will look at online piracy and book publishing.

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*A traditional industry rule of thumb was that the price of a hardcover should be five or six times the cost of production. (John P. Dessauer, Book Publishing: What It Is, What It Does. R.R. Bowker 1974, p. 92). To keep the math simple, let's assume that it's priced at five times the cost of production, that there are no returns, and that the bookseller pays the publisher 50% of the list price for the book. Of the 50% the publisher receives, subtract 20% for the cost of production (one-fifth the retail price) and the net proceeds are 30% of the retail list price. Split that in two, and one arrives at the author's standard hardcover royalty, 15% of the retail list price. (A current rule of thumb is that the cost of producing a hardcover is about 15% of the retail price, but the actual costs vary widely.)

Takeaway Truth

If you're eligible, join Authors Guild and support their efforts to support authors.

$10,000 Fellowship Closing Soon

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The James Jones Literary Society sponsors the First Novel Fellowship under the auspices of the Creative Writing Program of Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

This fellowship is given annually for a fiction work-in-progress by a U. S. Writer who has not yet published a novel. A selection from the winning work is published in Provincetown Arts.

The deadline is very soon so check it out today.

Type of work: Novels, novellas, and collections of closely linked stories

Judges: Bonnie Culver, Kaylie Jones, and J. Michael Lennon

Submission Requirements: First 50 pages of book-length manuscript plus 1-2 page outline

Prize: $10,000.00 fellowship

Deadline: March 1, 2011

Entry Fee: $25

Web site: www.wilkes.edu/pages/1159.asp

E-mail: jamesjonesfirstnovel@wilkes.edu

Entry Form: visit website for complete details

Takeaway Truth

Someone will win. Why not you?

Hard Work

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I've been working hard lately -- harder than usual -- because I've got a plan I'm implementing this year. Of course, it follows that hard work is on my mind.

Today, I've got a selection for you of my favorite quotes about hard work. I hope they'll inspire you or at least comfort you if you're tired from hard work of your own.


Basketball great Larry Bird said: "I've got a theory that if you give 100 percent all of the time, somehow things will work out in the end."

Anonymous (This guy really gets around, doesn't he?): "All the so-called secrets of success will not work unless you do."

President Thomas Jefferson said: "I'm a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it."

The articulate George Bernard Shaw wrote: "When I was young, I observed that nine out of ten things I did were failures. So I did ten times more work."

Gloria Pitzer, the Recipe Detective, said: "About the only thing that comes to us without effort is old age."

Charles Lazarus, founder of Toys R Us, said: "Hard work is the key to success, so work diligently on any project you undertake. If you truly want to be successful, be prepared to give up your leisure time and work past 5 PM and on weekends. Also, have faith in yourself. If you come up with a new idea that you believe in, don't allow other people to discourage you from pursuing it."

Takeaway Truth

Work hard. Play hard. Know when to do each.

Review: HT Make Money with Social Media

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Since so many of you are trying to establish a foothold in the Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. worlds, I know you're probably looking for some kind of book that will tell you simply and easily how to make those social networks work for you.

I read the Kindle edition of this book and reviewed it a few weeks ago on Joan Slings Words, my other blog. However, I think it may be of interest to readers of this blog too.

Title: How to Make Money with Social Media: An Insider's Guide on Using New and Emerging Media to Grow Your Business

Authors: Jamie Turner and Reshma Shah
Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 990 KB
Print Length: 224 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Up to 5 simultaneous devices, per publisher limits
Publisher: FT Press; 1 edition (September 20, 2010)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
Language: English
ASIN: B003ZUYIZU
Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars (43 customer reviews)

Disclaimer

I believe, as Danielle Steel once said: "A bad review is like baking a cake with all the best ingredients and having someone sit on it." I never want to demolish anyone's best effort so I carefully compose a book review.

Based on the long descriptive title of this book, I simply can't give the content of this book a glowing review. However, there's still a lot of basic information about traditional and online marketing that may make the book valuable to beginners.

Amazon Product Description

"Want to earn big profits from social media? Now, there’s an authoritative, up-to-the-minute resource you can trust–and use.

This in-the-trenches guide is written by experts who’ve developed money-making marketing campaigns for many of the world’s largest companies. Jamie Turner and Reshma Shah, Ph.D., combine practical strategies and proven execution techniques to show how to avoid crucial pitfalls that other companies have encountered, how to make the most of limited resources, and how to strengthen your brand instead of placing it at risk.

Turner and Shah present realistic guidance for setting objectives, assessing competitors, crafting strategies, selecting platforms, integrating social media into broader marketing programs, and effectively measuring results. Whether you’re a marketer, executive, or entrepreneur, this book will help you drive maximum business value from social media–starting right now."

Praise

The book is written in a conversational style that makes it accessible to just about anyone. Much information is presented about traditional marketing concepts, contrasting them with online marketing concepts.

For someone not currently on Facebook, Twitter, et al, the book is a primer that will acquaint the non-user with social media.

Room For Improvement

I'm afraid the book just doesn't live up to its title. The text is a bit redundant. Innumerable times, we are told that social media is a dialogue. That's repeated often, like sound bites from a TV infomercial. In fact, the text rather reminds me of an infomercial in that you're repeatedly told that you'll learn how to make social media work for you, but the concrete, step by step, details are never revealed.

Most of the book reads like a teaser: tells you what you're going to learn, tells you about traditional marketing facts, theories, and concepts, tells you why those don't work, tells you again that you'll learn about using social media, gives some generic information about social media, then seemingly repeats the process in the next chapter. You get pulled along, looking for the solid information that the title leads you to expect. Unfortunately, you never get a payoff of specific ways to make money with social media.

In Conclusion

There's no doubt that the authors know social media, but they don't effectively transfer that knowledge to this book. I think if the authors changed their slant and marketed the book to beginners that they'd get far better feedback and reviews.

For a beginner who wants to dip a toe into the pool of social media, this book would provide a good, general overview of the subject, enabling those new to social media to grasp the concepts and get started. Unfortunately, for someone who already possesses general knowledge of social media, this book just doesn't deliver what the title says.

Like I said, I read the Kindle Edition of this book. (Love my Kindle! I seem to get so much more reading done with this handy little device.) Want your own Kindle? Just click here.

Takeaway Truth

A good business book should be a treasury of easily assimilated knowledge, presented in an engaging format, that will help you achieve your goals.

3 Ways to Fight the Blank Page

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Have you ever known someone who wants to write but can't? Most people call that writer's block. I call it FiF, Frozen in Fear. The greater your fear; the greater your inability to write.

A lot of writers have heard of this but have never witnessed it. Most fear they might contract this as if it were a disease. Sadly, I have seen it in a few people who are excellent writers, but they no longer write. Fear gained a foothold in their brains.

What Fear Exists in the Hearts of Writers

The fear that defeats someone's dream is usually caused by personal baggage or bad experiences. Often, it's a combination of the two.

Personal baggage is what you bring to the party from the time you first understood words and attitudes from the people in your life. If, going in, you believe the deck's stacked against you, then it probably is. If you believe you'll never succeed, then you usually won't. Those attitudes affect you until the end of your life.

Bad-experience-induced fear usually results from getting battered by the uncaring vagaries of the world at large, and the publishing world specifically. You write. You submit. You get rejected. You tell yourself you suck, and there's no use in trying again, but you do. And the cycle repeats.

The kind of fear that overtakes a writer is when the personal baggage (I was told I was dumb from day one, and no one in my family even has a college education so I haven't got a chance.) goes into partnership with the bad trying-to-get-published experiences (I've written and submitted manuscript after manuscript, and I can't even get a personal rejection letter from an agent or editor.).

Writer's Block

The result of this joint venture is the growth of the power of the evil editor inside your head. The one who screams at you.

You're too old. Too young. Too uneducated. Too over-educated. Too conservative. Too freaky. Too out of touch with pop culture. Too unlucky. Too ahead of my time. Too behind in the times.

That's when it becomes hard to write. It's no longer a joy. You must force yourself to confront the blank page, and the blank page begins to win. Pretty soon you can't even think about writing because the chorus of why bother and you'll never make it is deafening.

The longer you allow this situation to exist, the bigger, harder, higher, and denser that block becomes until days, then weeks, pass without a written word. Weeks can turn into months, into years. I've seen it happen.


Defeat The Blank Page

The solution is to go forth and do battle with the blank page. Here are 3 ways to overcome the blank page -- to fight the battle each day and get words on paper. Do these in any order you wish, but start today, as soon as you finish reading this.

1. Get a plain text app that times your writing. Something like Write or Die (free download) is great for this. Set a 100 word count goal. Click start and just start writing. Don't make any corrections. You just want to get the words down before the alarm goes off. You can write anything as long as it's words, any words. They don't have to mean anything.The important thing is to spill them onto the screen, the blank page.

This trains you to just sit down and write without going through all the agonizing. By doing this, you free yourself to write garbage, crap, just words, and that breaks through the barrier that keeps you frozen. When you've got your 100 words or whatever, that's it. You can stop. Or you can keep going if the joy of seeing words pop up makes you feel refreshed. Save what you wrote or dump it. The choice is yours.

Do this everyday until you find yourself actually looking forward to it. Soon you may find yourself thinking about something you want to write and doing it. Without stress. Without worry about whether it will sell. You just put words down. And keep doing it every day until it's a habit.

2. Create a Mantra. Take a pen and paper and write this Mantra. Every morning and every night before sleeping, read your Mantra. Here's a sample one for you to use until you wish to edit it or write an original one addressing your personal issues

I am a richly talented writer. Writing is easy and fun for me. When I write, I am fulfilling my God-given purpose in life. When I write, I think only kind thoughts about myself and my writing. I believe in my ability to write good fiction. I possess all the skills necessary to write successfully. I am a richly talented writer.

3. Create a reward system. The reward depends on how long you've been a pacifist in the war of the blank page. If it's been a long time, then give yourself a big reward for fighting that first battle. Make a list of rewards. Do this right now. The first battle is the toughest battle of all. Every day you do battle and emerge victorious, reward yourself. Rewards can be anything from a Hershey Kiss to a bottle of wine, from an elegant writing pen to a book you've been wanting to read. You know what floats your boat so make a list today.

Takeaway Truth

Once you break through the wall, don't let a day go by without fighting the battle of the blank page. In fighting, you win the war. Day by day.

E-Book Royalty Math

6 comments:
Report from Authors Guild Inc. This article is posted here with their permission.

E-Book Royalty Math: The Big Tilt

To mark the one-year anniversary of the Great Blackout, Amazon's weeklong shut down of e-commerce for nearly all of Macmillan's titles, we’re sending out a series of alerts this week and next on the state of e-books, authorship, and publishing. The first installment (How Apple Saved Barnes & Noble. Probably) discussed the outcome, one year later, of that battle. Today, we look at the e-royalty debate, which has been simmering for a while, but is likely to soon heat up as the e-book market grows.

E-book royalty rates for major trade publishers have coalesced, for the moment, at 25% of the publisher’s receipts. As we’ve pointed out previously, this is contrary to longstanding tradition in trade book publishing, in which authors and publishers effectively split the net proceeds of book sales (that's how the industry arrived at the standard hardcover royalty rate of 15% of list price). Among the ills of this radical pay cut is the distorting effect it has on publishers’ incentives: publishers generally do significantly better on e-book sales than they do on hardcover sales. Authors, on the other hand, always do worse.

How much better for the publisher and how much worse for the author? Here are examples of author’s royalties compared to publisher’s gross profit (income per copy minus expenses per copy), calculated using industry-standard contract terms:

“The Help,” by Kathryn Stockett
Author’s Standard Royalty: $3.75 hardcover; $2.28 e-book. Author’s E-Loss = -39%
Publisher’s Margin: $4.75 hardcover; $6.32 e-book. Publisher’s E-Gain = +33%

“Hell’s Corner,” by David Baldacci
Author's Standard Royalty: $4.20 hardcover; $2.63 e-book. Author’s E-Loss = -37%
Publisher’s Margin: $5.80 hardcover; $7.37 e-book. Publisher’s E-Gain = +27%

“Unbroken,” by Laura Hillenbrand
Author’s Standard Royalty: $4.05 hardcover; $3.38 e-book. Author’s E-Loss = -17%
Publisher’s Margin: $5.45 hardcover; $9.62 e-book. Publisher’s E-Gain = +77%

So, everything else being equal, publishers will naturally have a strong bias toward e-book sales. It certainly does wonders for cash flow: not only does the publisher net more, but the reduced royalty means that every time an e-book purchase displaces a hardcover purchase, the odds that the author’s advance will earn out -- and the publisher will have to cut a check for royalties -- diminishes. In more ways than one, the author’s e-loss is the publisher’s e-gain.

Inertia, unfortunately, is embedded in the contractual landscape. If the publisher were to offer more equitable e-royalties in new contracts, it would ripple through much of the publisher’s catalog: most major trade publishers have thousands of contracts that require an automatic adjustment or renegotiation of e-book royalties if the publisher starts offering better terms. (Some publishers finesse this issue when they amend older contracts, many of which allow e-royalty rates to quickly escalate to 40% of the publisher’s receipts. Amending old contracts to grant the publisher digital rights doesn’t trigger the automatic adjustment, in the publisher's view.) Given these substantial collateral costs, publishers will continue to strongly resist changes to their e-book royalties for new books.

Resistance, in the long run, will be futile. As the e-book market continues to grow, competitive pressures will almost certainly force publishers to share e-book proceeds fairly. Authors with clout simply won’t put up with junior partner status in an increasingly important market. New publishers are already willing to share fairly. Once one of those publishers has the capital to pay even a handful of authors meaningful advances, or a major trade publisher decides to take the plunge, the tipping point will likely be at hand.

In the meantime, what’s to be done? We’ll address that in our next installment in this series.

Our assumptions and calculations for the figures above follow.


Doing the Numbers: Hardcover

To keep things as simple as possible, we assumed that for hardcovers: (1) the publisher sells at an average 50% discount to the wholesaler or retailer (2) the royalty rate is 15% of list price (as it is for most hardcover books, after 10,000 units are sold), (3) the average marginal cost to manufacture the book and get it to the store is $3, and (4) the return rate is 25% (a handy number -- if one of four books produced is returned, then the $3 marginal cost of producing the book is spread over three other books, giving us a return cost of $1 per book). We also rounded up retail list price a few pennies to give us easy figures to work with.

“The Help,” by Kathryn Stockett has a hardcover retail list price of $25. The standard royalty (15% of list) would be $3.75. The publisher grosses $12.50 per book at a 50% discount. Subtract from that the author's royalty ($3.75), cost of production ($3), and cost of returns ($1), and the publisher nets $4.75 on the sale of a hardcover book.

“Hell’s Corner” by David Baldacci, has a retail list price is $28. The standard royalty is $4.20; the publisher's gross is $14. Subtract royalties ($4.20), production and return costs ($4), and the publisher nets $5.80.

“Unbroken,” by Laura Hillenbrand has a hardcover list price of $27. Standard royalties are $4.05. The publisher's gross is $13.50. Subtract royalties of $4.05 and production and return costs of $4, and the publisher nets $5.45.

Doing the Numbers: E-Book

E-book royalty rates are uniform among the major trade publishers, but pricing and discounting formulas fall into two camps: the reseller model favored by Amazon (Random House is the only large trade publisher using this model) and the agency model introduced by Apple a year ago. (See yesterday’s alert for more information on these models.)

Under the reseller model, the online bookseller pays 50% of the retail list price of the book to the publisher and sells the book at whatever price the bookseller chooses (for bestsellers, Amazon typically sells Random House e-books at a significant loss). Random House frequently prices the e-book at the same price as the hardcover until a paperback edition is available.

Under the agency model, the online bookseller pays 70% of the retail list price of the e-book to the publisher. The bookseller, acting as the publisher’s agent, sells the e-book at the price established by the publisher, but the publisher is constrained by agreement with Apple and others to set a price significantly below that for the hardcover version.

The unit costs to the publisher, under either model, are simply the author’s royalty and the encryption fee, for which we’ll use a generous 50 cents per unit.

Here’s the math:

“The Help” has an e-book list price of $13 and is sold under the agency model. Publisher grosses 70% of retail price, or $9.10. Author's royalty is 25% of publisher receipts, or $2.28. Publisher nets $6.32. ($9.10 minus $2.28 royalties and $0.50 encryption fee.)

“Hell’s Corner” is also sold under the agency model at a retail list price of $15 list price. Publisher grosses 70% of retail price, $10.50. Author's royalty is 25% of publisher receipts, or $2.63. Publisher nets $7.37. ($10.50 minus $2.63 royalties and $0.50 encryption fee.)


“Unbroken” is sold by Random House under the reseller model at a retail list price of $27. Publisher grosses $13.50 on the sale. Author’s royalty, at 25%, is $3.38. Random House nets $9.62. ($13.50 minus $3.38 royalties and $0.50 encryption fee.)

Takeaway Truth

Join The Authors Guild if you're eligible and support their efforts to support authors.

The C Trio: Content, Community, Commerce

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I've been talking about making your website sticky and giving it charisma. Now, let's get down to specifics about how to accomplish this.

The Three C's

Meet the 3Cs, a trio of techniques you'll use to make your website popular and desirable, or sticky. Visitors will beat a path to your cyber door, and they'll return time after time. At least, that's what you hope to achieve by following the 3C Guidelines.

Internet's Identity

The Internet was created as a free resource for all. Long time users still expect this, but the younger generations, not so much. Even Net Vets have come to accept, albeit grudgingly, that websites sell: subscriptions, products, resource material, and information.

Content

You don't want your website to be about nothing but selling. You must first give if you hope to eventually sell. What you give is content that is of value to the visitor. Always think about how you can help those who visit your site. If you're a writer, then you want to give content that helps other writers as well as readers. Let your content address the needs of your visitors. So spend some time thinking about the people you want to attract. What can you help them with?

Maybe you maintain articles on the craft of writing for aspiring writers as well as a links resource. For published writers, you could offer link resources to help them get in front of readers or other ways to publicize their books. Perhaps you direct your visitors to other sites that offer writers' sites that are holding book contests. Maybe you post background information about your most popular title or discussion questions or links to book discussion groups.

Business people, other than writers, should also offer content of value to their visitors along with the chance to buy a product. For instance, if you're selling water filters, maybe you should have articles about contaminants found in tap water to explain why purified water is healthier. Or articles explaining why water is the better choice over soda or even juice. This content is information the visitor needs, and it supports the value of the product you sell.

Communications

Give your visitors a way to interact with you. Enable comments and reply promptly to them. If you have a huge volume of traffic, maybe add a bulletin board to your website. If you don't want to manage a bulletin board or pay someone else to do it, then make use of any of the popular social network sites like Facebook, Twitter, Blogged, or any of the others. Once you start drawing visitors in, maintain a daily presence if possible.

Always maintain a special email address, not the personal one you use for friends and family, so your website visitors can contact you privately. Set up Spam filters of course, but be prepared to respond to any legitimate email.

Commerce

The last element is one you may think applies only to business retailers on the internet. Businesses pay a lot of attention to successfully converting visitors into buyers. They offer discounts, bonuses, reward points, and special offers to entice a visitor to buy and to return at a future date to buy again.

Listen Up, Writers
Commerce isn't just for retailers. It's an element to which writers should pay attention also. You're probably thinking you agree if I'm talking about freelance writers who self-publish materials like reports, how to books, etc. to sell on their websites, but that published authors with books out in the stores don't have to worry about that. Wrong!

Install Those Links

Published authors should always have links on their websites that visitors can click to buy their books from multiple sources. Most authors aren't big enough to ignore the buying power at Amazon so even if you dislike some of their business practices, put a link to them. Also, place a link to your publisher, your favorite online booksellers, and especially a link to your favorite local indie bookseller if you're print published. If the indie bookseller doesn't maintain an active web presence, list their location and phone.

Takeaway Truth

Work on using the 3 C's, and you'll make your website more desirable sticky. A sticky website will bring more visitors and keep them coming back for more.

Be Mine, Valentine?

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Happy Valentine's Day!

Today, is the perfect day to show your loved ones how much they mean to you. It's also the perfect day just to say thank you to those who support and encourage you.

I want to thank My Followers, as shown in the right sidebar. Today, I celebrate you who follow this blog.

Gift For Followers

If you are one of My Followers, and I know who you are as of this morning, I have a gift for you. Send me your mailing address, and I'll send you a token of my appreciation for your support.

To receive your gift, email your mailing address to: Joan at JoanReeves dot com. In the subject box of the email, write: Real Live Person. In the body of the email, place your U. S. postal mailing address.

I'll be mailing the gifts out as soon as I receive your mailing address so don't delay.

Thank you for following this blog. I'm happy you find something here that helps you or entertains you. Hopefully, it does both.

Takeaway Truth

I appreciate your support. I'm yours, Valentine!

Booksellers

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I've been thinking about the Borders problem. So many bookstores have closed in the last 10 years.

Andrew Marr, last year in a Sunday Observer piece headlined, How intolerable life would be without books and bookshops, wrote: "Modernity has brought great comforts and freedoms, but it brutishly smashes down, too. The Internet (and this recession) is destroying fine old local papers. Higher booze prices and the smoking ban are destroying pubs. Similarly, we all know how hard the world of Amazon and Google has hit the small bookshop. Life without papers and pubs is an intolerable prospect. Would there be any point in leaving home at all if bookshops went too?"

Takeaway Truth

Buying from online bookstores is convenient and easy, but so is buying from a local bookseller. If there's one near you, stop by today and make a purchase.

Heads Up On Borders

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Is the venerable bookstore ready to implode? I guess we'll know soon. Media Bistro and GalleyCat both carried links to the Wall Street Journal report that Borders may file for bankruptcy next week.

Apparently, Borders has delayed payments to just about everybody last month so the prediction is that they'll be floating belly up amidst the other flotsam and jetsam in the economic river of despair.

Since their filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection might happen as soon as Monday or Tuesday, you better get out and spend those Christmas gift cards this weekend.

Wonder if we can chalk this latest business failure up to the rising popularity of eBooks? Maybe. Maybe not. Regardless, I'm sure someone will attribute it to that.

Takeaway Truth

In the words of that philosopher Bob Dylan: "For the times, they are a-changing."

Winning Book Covers Announced

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The winning book covers in the annual Houston Bay Area Romance Writers of America 2010 JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER Contest have been announced.

Watch for the 1st Place Winners on the inside front cover of the April copy of Romance Writers Report. In the meantime, you can view all the winning covers and see what booksellers think constitutes great book cover art.

SINGLE TITLE

First Place: Strange Neighbors by Ashlyn Chase

Second Place: Shut Up and Kiss Me by Christie Craig

Third Place: Missing Max by Karen Young

Fourth Place: Sugar Creek by Toni Blake

Fifth Place: The Icing on the Cake by Alison Kent

CONTEMPORARY SERIES

First Place: The Royal Affair by Gail Barrett

Second Place: I'll Be Yours For Christmas by Samantha Hunter

Third Place: Meltdown by Gail Barrett

Fourth Place: Stand-In Bride's Seduction by Yvonne Lindsay

Fifth Place: Skylar's Outlaw by Linda Warren

ROMANTIC SUSPENSE

First Place: Touch of Evil by Colleen Thompson

Second Place: 12.12.12 by Killian McRae

Third Place: Fatal Affair by Marie Force

Fourth Place: Storm Warning by Toni Anderson

Fifth Place: Nightwalker By Rhonda Print

HISTORICAL

First Place: Dangerous Highlander by Donna Grant

Second Place: Forbidden Highlander by Donna Grant

Third Place: Wicked Highlander by Donna Grant

Fourth Place: Defiant by Jessica Trapp

Fifth Place: The Irish Warrior by Kris Kennedy

SCIENCE FICTION/FANTASY/PARANORMAL

First Place: Kiss of the Rose by Kate Pearce

Second Place: Unchained: the dark forgotten by Sharon Ashwood

Third Place: Assassin's Heart by Monica Burns

Fourth Place: A Tale of Two Demon Slayers by Angie Fox

Fifth Place: Real Vampires Hate Their Thighs by Gerry Bartlett

SEXIEST COVER

First Place: Unbridled by Beth Williamson

Second Place: Primal Heat by Crystal Jordan

Third Place: Wolf Tales 9 by Kate Douglas

Fourth Place: Give Me a Texas Ranger by Phyliss Miranda

Fifth Place: The Alpha by Annie Nicholas

Takeaway Truth

Congratulations, winners! I'm happy for you.

Authors Guild Report on How Apple Saved B&N. . .Probably

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I received what follows in an email from Authors Guild.

They said: "Feel free to forward, post, or tweet. Here is a short URL for linking: http://tiny.cc/s6433." Since a lot of authors who aren't Guild members read this blog, I decided to post the content here so everyone could read the information.

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How Apple Saved Barnes & Noble. Probably.

Happy blackout anniversary! Where were you when the lights went out? We're sending out a series of alerts this week and next that look at the state of e-books, authorship and publishing to mark the one-year anniversary of the Great Blackout, when Amazon attempted to protect its near complete dominance of the rapidly growing e-book market through a stunning, punitive act against a publisher that dared to challenge its terms. (To see our account of this showdown as it happened -- posted last Groundhog Day -- go to The Right Battle at the Right Time.)

It was one year ago last Saturday that Amazon turned out the lights on nearly all of Macmillan's books, removing the "buy buttons" from the print and electronic editions of thousands of titles. Macmillan authors, many of whom had linked their websites to Amazon pages that were suddenly disabled and useless, found themselves cut off from readers who frequented the dominant online bookstore.

Amazon's stunning move was a preemptive strike, an attempt to keep Macmillan from going through with its plan to shift to an "agency model" for selling e-books. Macmillan, which immediately saw its online sales plummet, stood firm and prevailed: Amazon ended the blackout after a week.

The story of the blackout and its aftermath reveals much about the high-stakes device and format war that's reshaping the publishing industry. Last year's Amazon-Macmillan showdown was a critical battle in that war.

One Year Ago: Amazon's 90% E-Book Market Share

By last January, Amazon seemed destined to retain an overwhelming share of the e-book market. It then, by most accounts, commanded about 90% of the U.S. trade e-book market. Barnes & Noble had entered the game just two months before, launching the Nook in time, barely, for the critical holiday season. Few in the industry were optimistic about Barnes & Noble's e-book efforts, however.

Amazon's strategy, it seemed clear, was to leverage its formidable advantages -- including its dominance of the online print book market -- to all but lock up the e-book market. If it was successful, Amazon would control the equivalent of a vast online book club. Any publisher wanting to sell to the club would have to agree to Amazon's terms. This was an ugly prospect: book clubs tend to be resilient, but ultra low-margin enterprises for all involved, except the proprietor.

Amazon went all-in with the Kindle and its proprietary e-reading software. This commitment was most evident on Amazon's home page -- surely the most valuable retail space on the Internet -- on which it featured the Kindle nearly every day since its launch.

Amazon's most potent weapon in the e-book format and device war, however, was the strategy it deployed so effectively in its conquest of online bookselling: using its seemingly limitless financial resources to discount books at rates no competitor could long sustain. Amazon now pushed this tactic to a new level, routinely buying e-books at wholesale prices of $13 and $14 and immediately selling them at a loss, for $9.99. This not only built customer enthusiasm for the Kindle and e-books, but helped crush online and offline competitors that were selling physical books. Amazon could win the future as it finished off the past.

The prospects for Barnes & Noble in this environment were decidedly grim. Its net income had plummeted during the recession, falling 65% in two years. For Amazon, however, it was as if the Great Recession hadn't happened. Its revenues had grown 65% and its net income increased 72% over the prior two years. Its market capitalization, which had climbed past $55 billion (it stands at $77 billion today), towered over Barnes & Noble's $1 billion.

The e-book market, by all appearances, was for sale to the highest bidder -- the retailer willing and able to sell the most digital books at a loss. Barnes & Noble was in no shape to compete against Amazon in that game.

Then the game shifted.

Enter Apple

On Wednesday, January 27, 2010, Steve Jobs announced the launch of the iPad and the iBookstore.

Apple wouldn't sell e-books under the reseller model that Amazon had been using to lock down the market. (Under that model, the publisher sells e-books to a reseller at a discount of about 50%. The reseller can then sell the e-book at any price, constrained only by antitrust law and the reseller's ability to absorb losses.) Instead, Apple would sell e-books under the same "agency model" it used for iPhone apps. Under the agency model, Apple acts as the publisher's agent, selling e-books at the price established by the publisher and taking a 30% commission on each sale. To participate, a publisher would have to agree to a set of ceilings on e-book prices, generally $12.99 or $13.99 for new books. A publisher would also have to agree not to sell to others under more favorable terms.

If the agency model took hold, unfettered discounting of e-books would be out. Amazon would lose its ability to buy market share in a nascent, booming industry.

Five of the big six trade publishers (not Random House) allowed their logos to be displayed at Apple's iPad announcement. The next day, Thursday, Macmillan CEO John Sargent informed Amazon that it would be shifting to the agency model when the iPad was released. It appears that he was the first publisher to do so.

If there were any doubts about the stakes in this battle, they were erased the following day, when Amazon retaliated by removing the buy buttons from all Macmillan titles (with exceptions for textbooks and scholarly books, where Amazon faced stiff online competition). It removed the buy buttons from all editions -- not just the electronic version -- in an attempt to use its clout in the print book industry to enforce its preferred business model in the e-book industry.

Though the e-book market was growing fast, cutting off Macmillan and its authors from Amazon's print book market -- Amazon controlled an estimated 75% of online trade book print sales in the U.S. at the time -- was far more punitive than just severing Macmillan's ties to the e-book market. Amazon had used this buy button removal tactic before to punish publishers in the U.S. and the U.K. who fail to fall in line with Amazon's business plans, but it had never done so as boldly or comprehensively.

Amazon blinked, perhaps after consulting with antitrust counsel. After a one-week blackout, Amazon and Macmillan came to terms, and Macmillan could sell e-books through Amazon using the agency model. Four of the other big six would come to terms with Amazon on the agency model. Random House, the largest trade publisher, has chosen not to use the agency model, for reasons we will describe in the future (hint: Stieg Larsson).

One Year Later

Barnes & Noble is, unexpectedly, the biggest beneficiary of Apple's entry into the e-book market. With five of the big six trade book publishers using the agency model, Barnes & Noble was able to enter the e-book market based largely on its customer relationships and on technological innovation, rather than on its willingness to burn through capital to subsidize book sales. Its share of the e-book market has grown rapidly over the past year, approaching 20% of trade sales. Its introduction of the Nook Color reportedly gave it a substantial lift over the holidays.

Barnes & Noble still finds itself subsidizing sales of Random House e-books -- it generally matches Amazon's price on those titles -- but those costs appear manageable. Barnes & Noble faces substantial challenges, as do all physical bookstores, as publishing moves to its partly digital future, but it appears to have regained its footing. Should the agency model ever collapse, however, Barnes & Noble could quickly find itself at Amazon's mercy. Amazon's growth and profitability continue to soar, and its appetite for out-discounting competitors at any cost appears undiminished.

In the meantime, Apple is not standing still. According to numerous, but conflicting, reports Apple may be revising the terms for booksellers using iPhone and iPad apps as e-readers. We will be watching these developments closely.

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Takeaway Truth

Authors Guild is an advocate with teeth. If you're eligible for membership, join them.

Make Your Website The Bomb

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Want to make your website hot? Make it the bomb? Previously, I'd posted Make Your Website Sticky. Sticky is the word commonly used to describe a site that attracts visitors and makes them stay on site.

How do you accomplish this? Exactly what can you do to make your website appealing to visitors?

Right Techniques

Whether you're a writer or a business person, the techniques used to create a website that's desirable are the same.

If you're a writer, you want to create and maintain a website that web surfers, hopefully readers, will want to visit, want to stay there at length, and return time after time. If you're a business person, you want the same thing. Both of you are trying to sell a product.

Writer's Product

In the case of the writer, the product is you and/or your books. In the case of the business owner, the product is an item you retail on your website. You both go about it the same way with minor variations based on your identity.

What you want to do with your website is what Barnes and Noble did with their bookstores. You remember how book stores just sold books back in the old days? Well, Barnes and Noble changed all that by putting in coffee bars.

What this did was create a social atmosphere, a community. No longer was this just a place to go buy a book. Now, it was a place to meet friends over a cappuccino. Sure, you could browse books and gift items and buy, and the social atmosphere that was created encouraged all that.

More Opportunity To Buy

The longer you hung out at the coffee bar, the greater the chance that you'd think of another book you'd been intending to get, or someone would mention a book and you'd go find it. The coffee bar experience brought MORE people into the store, and they stayed LONGER. They made the store sticky.

How do you apply that methodology to website design? You use proven techniques like the 3 Cs: Content, Community, Commerce.

Takeaway Truth

Come back next week for a lesson on using the 3 Cs to make a website that will pull in the visitors and keep them there.

Website Updated

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Monday here at Sling Words is slow. Maybe because yesterday was the Super Bowl. I must say the game ended up being a lot more exciting than I'd expected. Though I didn't have an emotional investment in either team, I found myself rooting for the Packers.

I spent today wrapping up some loose ends from January and diving into February's work. One of those February projects was to finish the update of my website.

Highlights

Changes were made to each page -- new writer promotion products in The WRITE Way ads, links checked, some of my new book covers featured -- but you'll be especially interested in the new feature articles. Here's the Cliff Notes version of the update.

  • interview with author Jacqueline Seewald appears on Running With Words 
  • the newsletter has an entertainment piece entitled Me, Merlot, and Mr. Hottie: A Tale of Aliens and New Mexico Wine 
  • also in Wordplay, the subscription newsletter, is an article for writers Writing for Beginners & Pros: 5 Ways to Educate and Entertain
Takeaway Truth

Drop by for a visit any time.

Football on Super Bowl Sunday

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Since today is the BIG game, I'm giving you a selection of quotations from some of the games' greatest players and coaches.

Joe Namath, New York Jets

"Football is an honest game. It's true to life. It's a game about sharing. Football is a team game. So is life."

Merlin Olsen, Los Angeles Rams

"Football linemen are motivated by a more complicated, self-determining series of factors than the simple fear of humiliation in the public gaze, which is the emotion that galvanizes the backs and receivers."

Dick Butkus, Chicago Bears

"When I played pro football, I never set out to hurt anyone deliberately - unless it was, you know, important, like a league game or something."

Frank Gifford, New York Giants

"Pro football is like nuclear warfare. There are no winners, only survivors."

Roger Staubach, Dallas Cowboys

"Nothing good comes in life or athletics unless a lot of hard work has preceded the effort. Only temporary success is achieved by taking short cuts."

Terry Bradshaw, Pittsburgh Steelers

“I may be dumb, but I'm not stupid.”

Archie Manning, New Orleans Saints

"I never intended to stay in New Orleans, ... [But] along the way, New Orleans was really good to me. We were the only pro team in town. We weren't too good, but the fans were passionate about the Saints and extremely good to me and my family."

Coach Vince Lombardi, Green Bay Packers

"The Dictionary is the only place that success comes before work. Hard work is the price we must pay for success. I think you can accomplish anything if you're willing to pay the price."

Coach Tom Landry, Dallas Cowboys

"Football is an incredible game. Sometimes it's so incredible, it's unbelievable."

Coach Don Shula, Miami Dolphins

I don't know any other way to lead but by example.”

Coach Bum Phillips, Houston Oilers

"Winning is only half of it. Having fun is the other half."

Takeaway Truth

Let's go have some fun. Enjoy the game!

EZ Ways To Promote

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Here are 6 easy ways to promote your book, your name, your brand.

1. Befriend Amazon. Every time you order a book or anything at all from them, write a review and post it on the Amazon webpage for that item.

2. Spread your URLs around. Add to your signature on your emails and forums, but make sure you follow the rules. Also add your URLs to print media from business cards to stickers you place on every envelope you mail.

3. Start slow, get comfortable, pick up the pace. If you’re shy or new to self-promotion, start slow so you can get comfortable with the concept and the practice. Pick 1 thing and begin. That might be commenting in an online list or forum. Read what others say and add a comment if you have something germane to the discussion. It's like a cocktail party so get your chit chat on. When you're comfortable doing that, add 1 more thing. Don't lose sight of the need to have time to write.

4. Rehearse. Practice talking about your book. Do it in front of the mirror. Do it with your family. Set up a mock TV set in the den and have your kids interview you a la Oprah or Regis/Kelly style. Get comfortable talking about your book and yourself. This will pay off the next time you’re asked, “What do you do?”

5. Write articles and post them for free to some of the credible article sites online. You’ll have created an account there beforehand so you can write your bio and link to your website or blog, both if it’s allowed. When an article is used, your byline and linkage goes with the article. Be sure and choose an article site that has good content. You don't want to be associated with a site where the content is full of grammar errors or is scraped from other sites.

6. Tour the Internet. Ask your friends to let you guest blog and set up your own blog tour. Take the readers from one blog to the next as you move through the day or the week.

Takeaway Truth

There are many ways to promote that cost nothing monetarily, only a bit of time. When your promotion budget is low or non-existent, online promotion may make a difference.

3 Hot Drinks For Cold Weather

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Since the whole country seems to be locked in a freezer, let's all make a kettle of a warm, soothing beverage.

3 Hot Drinks For Cold Evenings

Spiced Cranberry-Apple Punch

Adjust the quantities depending on how much you want to make.

Into a saucepan, pour 2 same-size bottles of juice -- 1 apple and 1 cranberry. Add the peel of 1 orange, a few cinnamon sticks, and a few cloves if you like that taste.

Bring to a simmer. At this point you can serve it then reduce the heat to keep it warm. If you'd like to kick it up a notch, add a shot of any of these liqueurs: Frangelico, Amaretto, Cherry liqueur, applejack, brandy, or rum. The quantity depends on the quantity of juice you've used.

Old Fashioned Cocoa

I think the best cocoa is the recipe on the back of the can of Hershey's Cocoa Powder. You'll need the cocoa powder, milk, sugar, and a dash of salt. Make a cup or a batch using that recipe. When you bring it to a simmer, add a splash of heavy cream, stir. Turn heat off and add a splash of Kahlua. Again, adjust the splashes based on the quantity of beverage you made. Top with a big marshmallow.

Irish Coffee

Irish Coffee is my all time favorite. To make 4 cups, brew some strong coffee. Pour into cups and add 1 jigger of Irish Whiskey (I like Old Bushmills.). Stir, top each cup with a nice dollop of whipped cream. You can sprinkle with cinnamon and/or nutmeg if you like. I don't.

Takeaway Truth

Sipping hot beverages is a tried and true way to feel warm during the winter.

Punxsutawney Phil

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It's official. Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow this morning. That's supposed to mean that we'll have an early spring. Since today is the coldest day we've had so far, an early spring will be welcome.

However, I think we'll have to wait and see. In the meantime, I think I'll just watch one of my favorite Bill Murray movies, Groundhog Day, directed by Bill's buddy, Harold Ramis. Several networks are running it 24/7.

The movie also stars Andie MacDowell. Not only is this movie laugh out loud funny but also it's romantic and has a wise message that reminds us to make the most of life.

Takeaway Truth

Heartwarming movies make the most of cold nights.

8 Rules for a Happy Writing Career

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Tee fromCafePress.com/WriteWay
Let's start the new month with some Common Sense Rules that will help you have a Happy Writing Career.

1. Don't let other people's ideas about what constitutes literature affect your writing.

2. You must sell a product a buyer wants. Publishing is a business driven by the bottom line. Do the research to find out what publishers want to buy. How? Read widely, network, join professional writers' organizations.

3. Learn to want what the market wants. This is similar to #2 above, but it's more of a philosophical thing. My husband is an energy trader. One of the first things he said he learned is that you must want what the market wants. If the markets are moving up, then you must want to take a position that takes advantage of upward motion. If the publishing market is moving toward a particular genre, find something about that genre that really appeals to you. Then create your own niche within that genre.

4. There is no one way to succeed. What works for Nora Roberts, Stephanie Meyer, or James Patterson may not work for you. Learn what works for you.

5. Know yourself. In order to successfully create, you must know your abilities, aptitudes, desires, and commitment to your goal.

6. Don't be a literary snob. Every genre out there exists because there's an audience for it. Respect what other people write and read.

7. Don't think your words are carved in granite. Any agent or editor will tell you they're not. Learn to take editorial guidance without getting upset.

8. Writing should be fun. If you're not having fun, take a step back and figure out what's killing your joy.

Takeaway Truth

Print this list and post it over your computer as a reminder. Then go forth and write.