Contents of this Page
  • Popular Questions I've Been Asked & My Answers
  • Joan Reeves Visits Online
  • Links: Valuable Information Found Online
Since I've been fortunate enough to have had great success with my ebooks, the volume of my email asking for help has increased dramatically. I love helping writers, but I'm finding that the more I help, the less time I have to do my own writing.

This page is my attempt to give you answers without compromising my working time. I hope you'll find the answers you need. If you don't, then email me. I'll try to assist you as time permits. There's a lot of information here, so scroll down to take a look at the questions and answers.

Below you will find questions about book reviews, ISBN, copyright, and other aspects of being a writer. All of these questions have been asked of me more than once.

Questions I've Been Asked & My Answers

First, I'll get the hard questions out of the way. After these read the ones that really have to do with the writing business.

Will you read my query letter / chapter / manuscript / Book Description / Author Bio / or most anything else of which I'm uncertain?

No, I'm sorry, but I will not. As much as I like helping people, I am self-employed. That means that time is money. The time I spend analyzing your letter or chapter or manuscript or whatever is time I am not spending on my writing. I have a family to support so I must choose my family over you.

Will you answer questions as background for my term page, thesis, or whatever?

That's something I can't answer except on a case by case basis. Email me and describe specifically your project including the name of your course and your instructor. Tell me how my answers fit into your overall design for your paper. I'll get back to you with an answer.

Will you mentor me and teach me how to blog / write fiction / how to format / how to market and promote / how to get the kind of sales that you make?

Probably not. Again, I must choose to use my time for my writing. If I already know you, I may be inclined to sacrifice some of my writing time to help you. Otherwise, I offer my help by way of this blog and the many articles I write in RWA newsletters and such. There are many authors I know who offer a wealth of resources that will also teach you the elements you may need to learn, not to mention hundreds of books on the subject. However, don't expect any working writer to spoon feed you the information.

We like to help, but we learned all this the hard way after being pointed in the right direction. Consider yourself pointed. Become self-actualized. Start learning on your own. Read my blog. Read other blogs. Read books on writing. Read the kinds of books you want to write. Most authors, me included, respect those who work hard to learn the skills they need. We're much more inclined to help someone who first helps him/herself.

Who designs your book covers?

BlakeCreative at hotmail.com

Will you ghostwrite a book for me?

No, thank you.

Will you review my book?

My Book Review Policy

(1) I review books only if I have the time. If you send me your book, I assume no obligation or responsibility to review it.

(2) I post only those reviews that I can enthusiastically recommend and give 4-5 stars.

(3) If I read your book and don't feel I can recommend it, I will email you and tell you why. If I decline to review, and I am nice enough to take the time to tell you why, I do NOT expect to enter into a dialogue with you as to why I am such an idiot that I don't recognize how brilliant your book is and why my books are garbage, and who am I to think--well, you get the picture, right? If that happens, I will post a review and give my honest opinion.

Is there a difference between a publishing company like Avon and a publishing company like AuthorHouse?

Yes, and the difference is like night and day.

Avon is what is known as a royalty paying company. That means that they offer an advance against royalties that the book will earn. As the word advance implies, this money, or a portion thereof, is paid to you before the book is published. The underlying fact here is that they pay you.

AuthorHouse is what is commonly known as a vanity press. They use POD technology to print books that the author gets according to a contract. Their contract specifies how much you pay them. I'm certain you have heard the term vanity press, but perhaps you didn't truly understand what it meant. In recent years, the term has fallen out of vogue because so many good independent authors are publishing their own work, and, frankly, they don't like being labeled as those who use a vanity press.

Personally, I look at it as a "sticks and stones" issue. (For my foreign readers, that's a reference to the children's rhyme: Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.) One cannot stop others from hurling what they see as insults at those who are succeeding by a different path. The best policy is always to have enough information that you make informed decisions because there are many people and companies more than happy to take advantage of the unwary.

If one wishes to publish one's own work, there are many avenues to do it that do not involve paying rather large amounts of money if any. Self-publishing in print can be accomplished by using companies like CreateSpace, BookSurge, Lulu, and many more. These companies require you to either do all the publishing work like cover design, layout, format, etc. yourself, or to contract those tasks out either through their staff or a freelance expert.

In many cases, if you know how to do all those things, you don't have to pay anything. You only pay when you order books, and you pay the wholesale price. The books then are available for the public to order directly from this publisher.

If I want to be a legitimate writer, with whom should I publish?

In today's world, when excellent authors are self-publishing ebooks and using companies that offer POD technology to obtain print copies, I hesitate to use the term legitimate writer. However, I don't think the intent behind this question that I frequently get is to insult those of us who are treading the Indie Author path.

I believe that everyone who loves books and who has grown up reading books thinks of the people who write those books – the ones you buy in the supermarket, the discount store, in bookstores, and the ones you check out at libraries – as "real authors" or "legitimate authors." People who use these phrases are trying to insult anyone. They just want to know how do I become one of those people whose books are in the library or in the discount stores.

The short answer is that you get an agent and you submit to the publishing houses like Avon, Berkley, etc. until you get a book accepted, a contract offered, and a book published. As many writers have found, this takes an enormous amount of time, talent, skill, and a good measure of luck. This is the main reason so many authors have turned to independent self-publishing.

They just got tired of beating their head against the wall of New York publishing. There are a finite number of slots available for books to be published by the big boys. Sometimes you can have a really great book but if it doesn't reach the desk of the right person who "gets it" then your book will never get published.

The people who succeed by being independent self-publishing authors are those who have the skills needed to write a book that works. If you don't understand what that sentence means then you probably need to study narrative skills, read more widely, and write thousands and thousands of words before you attempt either submitting to agents and editors or to publishing your own work.

Do I need a copyright if I want to publish an ebook?

A creator of a literary work is vested with the copyright from the first word put on paper. You are not required to do anything other than post a copyright notice with your work i.e. Copyright 2011 by Your Name.

How do I write a copyright notice to put in my ebook?

As for the "script" used to make your copyright notice, you can follow what other authors do in their books or check out the sample in Smashwords Style Guide or just about anywhere. They're all fairly standard.

Do I have to pay for a copyright?

As said above, you already have the copyright if you create a literary work. However, there is a difference in holding the copyright (aka rights holder) and in registering the copyright. Those are two different issues.

Why should I register a copyright and how do I do it?

If you want to sue someone for infringing on your copyright, you must have registered the copyright. That's the only reason other than it's a good business practice for an author.

If you want to register your copyright, further action is required. Go to the website for the U.S. Copyright office, download the forms, fill them out, and follow the procedures as described there. They have an e-copyright procedure just for ebooks.

Will registering my copyright keep someone from stealing your work?

Unfortunately, no. Thieves don't care about copyright. However, if you discover your copyright has been infringed, then you want to file a "Take Down" notice as described by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Pirate websites make it hard for the rightful owner to do this. You must prove you own the copyright and possessing the Certificate of Copyright from the government office and sending them a copy is one way to do that.

How do you stop someone from stealing your work and posting it online?

I don't know of anything that will keep someone from stealing if that's what they are intent on doing. The only thing that will put a stop to the wholesale thievery that goes on is for the government to put some "teeth" in the DMCA and start levying fines against the criminals. If they don't do this, eventually there will be less and less people willing to use their time to create works--books, music, video games--if they can't make a living doing that.

What's an ISBN?

ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number. It's used for inventory control in book distribution. Book stores order by the ISBN. If you get an ISBN for a print book, that number is good anywhere in the world for that print edition.

Different ISBNs are issued for different kinds of editions i.e., mass market paperback, large print, hardcover, ebook, etc.

Do I need one for an ebook?

The short answer is: no. The long answer is that an ISBN can be issued for an ebook. Since digital publishing platforms each have their own inventory control system which they accomplish by assigning a product number to an ebook, they do not use ISBN for book distribution.

The Apple Bookstores are an exception. They require an ISBN. So does AllRomanceEbooks.com although they will issue a control number they generate through their system if one does not have an ISBN.

Look at any book on Amazon and you'll see a long number assigned to it. That's the product number. B&N PubIt's Nook has its own number identification system.

How do I get an ISBN if I want one because it's a good business practice for professional authors?

You can buy a set of ISBNs from Bowker for $250.00 for 10. Or you can upload your book to Smashwords and have them distribute to Apple in which case they will want an ISBN assigned, but Smashwords will assign you one for free or you can buy one for $9.95. For other Smashwords distribution, no ISBN is required.

If you take the free Smashwords ISBN, it can be used ONLY on that particular ebook published by Smashwords.

More information on ISBN available at this blog post: Understanding ISBN, 09/27/2011.

Will having a registered copyright and an ISBN make people think I'm a "real" author?

Having an ISBN probably won't make you look any more legitimate than you already do.

Most readers don't know anything about the copyright and/or ISBN issue as it pertains to writing as a profession.

Industry insiders will just decide that you tried to cover all bases and act professionally. However, writers who publish ebooks will know it doesn't really matter. Only the uninformed and less-knowledgeable writers may think you're the "real" thing.

The best way to be considered a real writer is to write a good book that readers will buy and to make sure the book is free of grammatical and format errors. This holds true whether you're trying to impress fellow writers, publishing industry professionals, or readers.

A final note on being a "real" writer. Belief starts within. Hold yourself to the highest standards so you know that you are publishing a good book. Don't spend a lot of time worrying about what others think of you. Their opinions should be of far less importance than your own.

How do I get an agent?

I'm probably not the right author to answer this question. However, the tried and true ways are usually how most authors go about the quest.

1. Go to conferences where agents participate and take appointments. Follow the protocols set up there to meet agents.

2. Follow whatever protocols agents specify for contacting them by mail or email.

3. Ask authors who have agents if they would recommend their agents. Never contact an agent by using an author's name unless that author has given you permission to do so.

4. Be professional. Always.

Should I try to publish through a publishing company or just go the self-publishing route?

If you can't answer that question for yourself, then you haven't been doing this long enough which means you don't yet have enough experience with how publishing works. You learn a lot by submitting to the big publishers.

You learn things like: how to write good business letters like query letters, how to condense your book to a synopsis of a paragraph or two, how to write a complete synopsis of several pages, how to format a manuscript for a print publisher, how to take a licking from rejection and keep on ticking, how to persist, how to revise your work and improve.

If you've been submitting a long time, chances are you've improved your skills and become a much better writer and a much more professional business person. Good writers must be both.

So, royalty publish or self-publish?

Examine your expectations and your reasons for considering each. My advice, if you are completely unpublished is to submit to the big publishers and/or agents first and learn as much as you can from the experience. If your efforts don't result in a publishing contract, and you truly believe you've written a book that can sell to readers, then become an indie author and publish it yourself.

I don't see these two routes to publishing as an either/or situation. Why can't you do both? Two chances to succeed instead of just one.

If I self-publish, should I do it by print or by digital ebooks?

There's no denying that it is much easier to sell ebooks than printed books that you have self-published. There are many people who still call print self-published books vanity books, but they don't tend to apply the label so much to ebooks.

Selling a print book that you paid to have published is a hard gig because most of them end up costing as much as a NYT bestseller's book. Readers don't mind paying $15 or $20 or more for a hardcover book by a NYT bestseller, but they probably won't shell that out for an unknown author's $15.00 softcover book. That's why you don't see too many -- or none -- self-published print authors on bestseller lists.

No following, no distribution, no promotion budget, and high price mean no sales.

More to come as I have the time.

Joan Reeves Visits Online

In addition to SlingWords, I'm also a regular contributor to Smart Girls Read Romance and Authors of Main Street. I also frequently Guest Blog. Here are just a few of the places where I have been interviewed and/or guest blogged.

My Incredible Journey from Print Published to Ebook on The Book Designer by Joel Friedlander.

Guest Author Interview: Joan Reeves by Susan Lute on SeeJanePublish.com.

Junk or Genius, a blog by Shawn Bird.

Interview with Joan Reeves by Kristyn Gansen on her website Romantic Love Books.

Interview with Joan Reeves by Dyanne Davis on her website.

Celebrating Joan Reeves Romeo and Judy Anne by Marilyn Brant on her blog, Brant Flakes.

Joan Reeves Can Write and Sell Ebooks Aplenty by Jason Matthews on his blog, EbookSuccess4Free.

Indie's Questions with Joan Reeves by Indie Bee Covers Blog.

Links: Valuable Information Found Online

These links take you to other blogs and websites where authors have posted valuable information.

Joan Reeves: Website Archives

Writer Resource Links by Author Expressions

Writing and Craft by Anne Marie Novark

Indie Publishing by Anne Marie Novark

Articles by Julie Leto

Articles by Cheryl Bolen

Articles by Holly Lisle

More to come as I have the time.

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