Anyway, let's start with her information on big publishers. She said when authors are given the opportunity to work with big publishers they generally receive an advance and a book deal, and publishers are hoping you will use that money to promote yourself. It would seem not only do authors have the heavy burden of weaving an intricate, compelling, interesting, can't-put-this-book-down storyline, but we must now be savvy in all things marketing. Emphasis on social media marketing folks. Gasp! Facebook, twitter, linkedin, myspace, websites, blogs etc. For those of you technologically challenged like I am, take it one step at a time and google "how to's" on everything. If I can do it, you can do it.
If you are wise with your advance then hopefully all of that self-promotion will pay off. This is no time for modesty people. Get excited about your amazing novel, novella, poetry, article or what have you, and light a fire under your soon-to-be ardent fan's fannies! (Say that five times fast) Once the sales of your books cover the (generous? :0) advance bestowed upon you, your royalties begin to roll in.
Big publishers have total creative control. The cover is their business, the editing is their baby, the blurbs and bios are regulated on your behalf and for those of you hyperventilating at the thought of losing said creative control, never fear. You do have more options. The upside to this total lack of control is what you have at your disposal. If anyone can get your name and your book out there it will be big publishers like Scholastic and Little Brown etc. Just having their name and logo stamped on your book gives a reader more reason to trust that your book will be worth their money and time.
Small publishers equals no advance...most of the time. Bummer. They are also in charge of all the publishing, editing, cover art and the contracting of those in charge of distributing your work. You might have a little more creative control, but that would depend on the people you work with. Once again you will be doing quite a bit of self-promoting and your resources will be limited to what your small publishers can offer. I must admit I wasn't sure I saw a huge upside to this, except for the fact that you will see your royalties right away...and most likely use them to turn around and market your material. Okay, that last part was a downer, but getting royalties right away sounds fun.
Jenni James mentioned she switched publishers and is using a small publishing house and a distributing group called Brigham Distributing. If you would like them to be in charge of distributing your work, use Jenni James' name (name drop) and see if they would be interested in helping you with that.
Both big and small publishers seem to be fairly close in the percentage of royalties they offer at the moment. Digital downloads (ebooks) are within the 25% range and print books are between 10-15%. These can fluctuate so pay attention to any contracts you sign and know what your options are.
You aren't just an author you're a business with a great product to offer, and quantity is important in any business you're a part of. Your fans want more than one great book to read so focus on giving them more of what they love. If you're in between novels and your next novel won't be published for a while consider writing novellas to tide your readers over. Blog about your latest projects and do articles on subjects your fans love. Edit one manuscript while writing another.
This is how Jenni was able to write her Jane Austen series, her fairy tale series and now this new series out for middle grade and a bit younger called Andy & Annie: A Ghost Story. My children and I read a chapter every night and they are really enjoying the series. The first book is only 76 pages long, so as an author you can see that this would be less demanding time wise and a fun way to reach readers who are interested in a book that they can finish in one sitting, especially those with serious schedule issues. The quality is still present, you simply have more products to offer your fans.
On to self-publishing. For all you type A personalities this might be the way you want to start out. Your profits are obviously much higher. You're looking at anywhere from 70-80% with ebooks; Smashwords, Barnes&Noble and Amazon will vary a little, and if you decide to get print versions of your books createspace offers anywhere from 40-60% depending on the venue they distribute to. You are on your own completely in the self-marketing category, although there are plenty of marketing tutorials on smashwords and createspace to guide you through the do's and dont's.
You will have full control over your cover design as well. Jenni suggestd a couple websites you can look at to find images that are right for your book. Visit stock photography and pic monkey or google pre-made ebook designs to see if any are a good fit for you.
You won't have an editor at your disposal unless you go out and pay for one, but self-publishing has the stigma of poorly edited manuscripts due to this very problem. Rewrite and edit your fannies out and once you think you've done all that you can do to your WIP send it to some beta readers and have them edit it as well. If you have the money, hire a professional editor to get the job done, and then once you've taken your edits and rewrites as far as you can go put the manuscript away for a little while and let it breathe. Go back to it and look it over one last time before putting it out there. Just remember, no one wants to buy a damaged product and your readers will be disappointed if they pay for something that is poorly written.
Another thing Jenni emphasized is the importance of an author's platform or how many people follow you. It really is necessary to build an audience even before you sign that book deal, and lately agents and publishers have begun looking for self-published authors who already have a large platform and presence on the internet. So if you're asking yourself, "Self, should I start a blog even though I haven't finished my book yet?" the answer is YES. "Self, should I create my own webpage with my name as the web address?" YES "Self, should I have several social media accounts that all link back to my web page so my rating on google will be higher and much more recognizable for readers, agents and publishers to find me?" Do I really need to answer that?
In the mean time, look for agents who will love your work as much as you do. Visit query shark and agentquery.com. You can also upload some of your work to wattpad.com where readers and agents alike tend to browse in hopes that they'll find something worth reading. Good content is key folks, so keep on writing and make your presence on the internet impossible to dismiss.
Inspirational quote for the day:
“Cheat your landlord if you can and must, but do not try to shortchange the Muse. It cannot be done. You can’t fake quality any more than you can fake a good meal.”
—William S. Burroughs