Archive for the ‘publishing’ Category

For the Sharp-eyed Reader

May 29, 2007

Some people are natural proof readers. They are the ones who read with a pen in their hand and correct the typos and missing words that they find in books. At small gatherings, these people always have some horror story about a printed book which was missing something.

I know the publishers attempt to be as careful as possible in the creation process. The majority of publishers have a series of checks and balances in this part of the process with the attempt to catch every error before the book is printed. Yet still mistakes slip through the process. Maybe the words are spelled correctly but something is missing in the context.

What action do you take (if any) when you spot such an error in a printed book?

Most authors and publishers are keeping track of such errors. When the book comes up for reprint. You can write the author or the publisher with a helpful tone saying, “Next time you reprint your book, you might want to fix…” During the rare times that I receive such a suggestion, I appreciate it and always thank the individual.

This morning I’m thinking about this element because I noticed an error in a printed book. It’s not necessary to tell you the book but it’s a beautiful hardcover which will hopefully go through many printings. It is a shame when it happens but the good news is that if you let someone know about it, it can be fixed. The choice is yours. Are you going to continue grumbling about the state of book publishing or be a part of the solution? For the error I spotted, I chose to do something proactive about it and write a kind and concerned note to someone in the publishing house who can get it fixed on the next reprint.

Take Your Best Shot

May 19, 2007

Next Tuesday night, May 22nd, I’m hosting a teleseminar with two literary attorneys. You will have a chance to take your best legal shot at asking them a question–and using some different technological tools in the process. I’m learning about these tools and this teleseminar will be my first experience to host such a seminar. Hopefully the first of many times.

Sallie Randolph and Anthony Elia are two of the top speakers in the area of the law for publishing and intellectual properties. In their newest book, “Author Law A to Z, A Desktop Guide to Writers’ Rights and Responsibilities,” they reveal straight-forward how-to advice in an easy to understand manner for anyone in publishing.

I’m telling you this because I’ve convinced Sallie Randolph and Anthony Elia to allow me to grill them during a LIVE 70-minute teleseminar on Tuesday, May 22, 2007!

Here’s the different twist: Rather than have the “content” come out of my head (or Sallie’s or Anthony’s head) for the May 22, 2007 teleseminar 5:30 p.m. PDT / 8:30 p.m. EDT, I decided to let you ask them a question.

Sound fair?

So, if you could ask Sallie Randolph and Anthony Elia ANY question you wanted about the legal issues related to writing and publishing, what would your question be?

Here’s your chance to ask Sallie Randolph and Anthony Elia directly and get registered for our call on Tuesday, May 22, 2007 (starts promptly according to www.Time.gov). Just use this link to ask your question.

If you register for the teleseminar, you will get a sample chapter from Author Law, A to Z.” You will receive 45 pages of invaluable information on publishing matters such as copyright, collaboration,
confidentiality and copyright in cyberspace. It’s all FREE if you ask a question and register for this teleseminar.

There’s more: I’ve convinced Sallie and Anthony to give away autographed copies of “Author Law A to Z” for three fortunate teleseminar attendees. You have to attend the FREE teleseminar to find out WHY Sallie and Anthony are doing this or WHO is eligible, so go ahead and ask Sallie and Anthony your question now.

Click on this link. After your question gets submitted, you’ll find out how to get phone access and webcast access to Sallie Randolph and Anthony Elia and me for our LIVE teleseminar, May 22, 2007.

One more detail: Whether you attend the teleseminar or have to miss it, a complete professional transcript from the teleseminar is available for $19.95. Just use this link to purchase the transcript.

Mysterious Bestsellers

May 18, 2007

If you have not seen it, make sure you catch this article from the New York Times several days ago called The Greatest Mystery: The Making of A Bestseller.

The article is interesting because reporter Shira Boss interviewed a number of key players in the book publishing business. My conclusion after reading it remains the same: while you can point to different variables and factors, it is impossible to predict how a particular book will land in the marketplace. Yes the author can be active and make considerable effort but the results are unpredictable.

What Triggers Someone To Buy A Book

March 27, 2007

Publishers and authors have been trying to solve this question for ages: What triggers someone to buy a book? It’s a combination of factors that involve timing, positioning and touching the reader’s needs. I confess I don’t have the ultimate answer but I do have a experience that I believe is worth recounting in this entry on the Writing Life.

I hold the electronic rights to Book Proposals That Sell and surveys have shown more than 81% of Americans would like to write a book and millions have actually written a manuscript. Get Published! (click this link to see how you can get a free copy of this how-to book) includes this statistic on page 60, “Finished manuscripts for an estimated 8 million novels and 17 million how-to books are lying in desk drawers all over the country, waiting to be published.” Now that is the kind of statement that strikes fear into the heart of every editor and agent (the folks who have to review this material!). So…there is a huge number of people who want to get published and don’t now how to do it.

From the reviews and other factors, I know Book Proposals That Sell is helping people achieve their dreams in this area. While the paperback still continues to sell, I’m also selling the electronic version. I’ve started an affiliate program with this book (and other products are coming). Every reader of these entries should be a part of this affiliate program. It takes two minutes or less to fill out the form and get your own link. Then you can recommend to others the book and potentially earn 50% commission from the link. I hope every agent and publisher and bestselling author will join this program and my goal is to improve the quality of submissions throughout publishing. Mark Victor Hanson calls this a BHAG or a Big Hairy Audacious Goal. At Mega Book Marketing University, Mark told us that a BHAG 1) inspires people to want to play. 2) it forces you to grow to achieve it.

A number of people have joined my affiliate program–including one highly visible book marketing expert. In the last week or two, several people have purchased Book Proposals That Sell using his affiliate link. After we get through my unconditional guarantee period of 60 days, I’m going to be sending this expert a check for these referrals.

Yesterday I took a few minutes to see what he was doing with my banners. He has a strong web presence and many different pages on his website. I discovered he was using my blinking banner on five different pages. I have no idea if it is the location of the banner, the words on the banner, the fact that it blinks or the terrific design. I just know it’s working and I hope other affiliates will use it as well on their own pages. And whether you use this blinking banner or not, do join the affiliate program and use your affiliate link to guide people to the page. (I know my banner here doesn’t blink–maybe it’s a blogger restriction. Go to this link and scroll to the bottom to see the changing banner).

Your link might be the trigger to get someone the publishing help that they need to take the next step in their own journey.

A Community in Change

March 26, 2007

Each month over six million copies of National Geographic are circulated worldwide. I’ve loved and read this magazine for years. I do not save them! Because of the beautiful production quality, many people have a hard time throwing the magazine away.

In the March issue, I was fascinated to read this well-crafted article from T.D. Allman titled, “The Theme-Parking, Megachurching, Franchising, Exurbing, McMansioning of America, How Walt Disney Changed Everything.” The article is online and gives a picture of how the Orlando community has changed with the arrival of Disneyworld. It shows the fluid nature of our culture and how it is constantly evolving.

The world of publishing is also constantly evolving and changing. It is a challenge (and somewhat impossible) for any of us to keep up. The key from my perspective is to continue growing in your communication ability and try different types of writing to see where you find your niche. Then when you find the type of writing that you do best, to write it with excellence and market it with excellence.

Of necessity, over the next few days these entries about the writing life are going to be more limited. I’m trying to complete a number of deadlines before I travel on Thursday to the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. It’s one of the oldest and longest running in the United States. I know my schedule says that it starts on Friday–and it does. Like many of these conferences, they want the staff to arrive the day before. It will be a busy time. I have not been to this conference for several years. In many ways, it’s like an old fashion family reunion and some place I’ve been going since the mid 1980s. Yes, there will be many people at the conference who are attending for the first time. Also there are a number of writers who plan to attend this conference if they can’t attend anything else in the whole year. From early in the day until late at night, this conference is full of activity.

If the weather is good, I often will make time to slip away from the conference for exercise and to visit one of my favorite spots with redwoods on the planet. There is something about walking or running through a bunch of redwoods that helps you have a proper perspective on where you fit into the universe and the sea of change around you.

The Value of Papers

March 25, 2007

Allow me to speculate about something for a moment within publishing. I doubt few authors realize the value of their paperwork when they are in the process of creating it. I’m talking about the numerous drafts of a novel or the various gyrations that a nonfiction book passes through during its path to completion. Or what about the correspondence between authors and well-known people for the gathering of endorsements and other parts of the business.

Several years ago, an author now turned agent talked asked me if I had a plan for donating my papers some place. I scoffed at the idea of my paperwork being valuable. Actually I’ve moved and sorted about three or four times since that conversation. Another one of my author friends told me that three moves equals a fire. I believe there is some wisdom in that statement since each time we move I pare down the extra paperwork from different projects. In other words, I toss them into the trash in the moving process. If I really stop and think about it, my files do have a few letters of correspondence with well-known personalities. In terms of single letters, they probably don’t have much value but the gathering of them might.

I started thinking about this matter from an article in today’s Book Section of the New York Times which profiles a true paper chaser, Glenn Horowitz. It showed me a different side of the publishing business which is active and viable yet rarely highlighted.

A Dose of Reality

February 16, 2007

Writers are creative people who are dreamers. Now there is nothing wrong with dreams and I’ve got them as well as the next person–and I’m working toward achieving these dreams every day.

In the midst of your dreaming, every now and then it’s good to get a dose of reality to spur you in the right direction.

I actively participate in a large online group of writers. This morning one of the writers in Florida put out some figures of a presentation from a small publisher (who was not identified and that’s OK because the information is widely applicable). Here’s a bit of what was written:

“They get an average of 35 book submissions every week. Agented and otherwise. That’s at least 1500 per year and they publish only 5-7 every year. That’s about 99.5% rejection rate. We asked about criteria for rejection. They take first 30 pages of your manuscript and give it to at least 5 independent “readers” who then suggest to the publishers which manuscripts to read in full. They also give advances, which means you sell them your book. When they decide to publish they go with traditional printers and print 5000 copies or so to have a very low cost and leave as much margin as possible for promotion and marketing costs. They announce a new title at least 6 months before it is scheduled and then send up to 100 copies of book to reviewers.”

In today’s post, I’m going to include most of what I responded to this post and maybe it will give you a healthy dose of reality and encouragement toward excellence:

As someone who has read these over the transom, unsolicited submissions sent to a publisher, I can agree with these percentages. It can be pretty discouraging–yet you need to understand that most of these proposals are untargeted, unfocused and incomplete.

As an acquisitions editor, I can only help you if your proposal is about 70 to 80% perfect. Most of them are about 20% and a few are in the 50% category. They are missing some critical element like the word count or the vision for the book or the competition or the author’s marketing plan (yes every proposal whether fiction or nonfiction needs a marketing plan from the author–and don’t tell me you will appear on Oprah and are willing to do interviews–people actually write that into their proposals and it’s their marketing plan). As a result, these proposals are sent back with a form rejection letter. It is not the editor’s responsibility to fix your incomplete proposal–that’ s your responsibility as the author.

Book proposals are hard work–plain and simple–and most people aren’t willing to do that hard work. They’d rather dream about their fiction getting published yet they’ve not done the hard work of learning their craft and practicing their craft in the PRINT magazine world (and building publishing credits). Why print? It’s a much more demanding form than online–anyone can put stuff online.

I guess the question is whether you will be one of those people who write a riveting proposal that gets publishers climbing over each other to get your project. Yes, it’s possible. I’ve had those proposals in my hand–and I’ve even written a couple of them.

I’m eager for writers to be successful and that’s why I put the energy into Book Proposals That Sell. Now if only more people applied the information to their own work…

And if you need any more reality about this business, then check out this publishing quiz from a great book called Putting Your Passion Into Print–and in particular notice the answer to question #9–which is another truth you should recognize. Sorry to be a bit cynical, folks. Maybe it’s the material that has crossed my desk recently. It IS possible–if you put it together in the right way and pitch it in the right manner at the right time. As I’ve said before–and it’s worth repeating here–every agent and every editor is actively looking for these top proposals.

Here’s a little challenge which was not included in my post to the other writers. It’s terrific to read these how-to-write books or attend a writer’s conference yet will you be in the small percentage of people who will actually take the information and apply it to their own project. Many people at the conference will be inspired and encouraged. Yet this encouragement is temporary until they receive the next rejection or get home to face their own challenges. The key is to practice the craft and do the hard work of writing with such excellence that your work is irresistible.