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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Travel Writer/Novelist Shares Audio Production Experience

Welcome to guest blogger Linda Ballou. She is a travel writer, speaker and novelist. I asked her to share her experiencing producing an audio book from her novel Wai-nani, High Chiefess of Hawaii, a book of historical fiction.

Free Audio Production for Your Book? . . . ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
By Linda Ballou

Friends kept asking me when would Wai-nani, High Chiefess of Hawaii be available in audio format. I wanted to comply, but it seemed a daunting task. Then I learned about www.acx.com.

It is an arm of Amazon that makes creating an audio book a snap. Just go onto the Audible site, list your book with the first chapter on the authors section of the site. Then go to the narrators list and ask for auditions from those that sound right for your book. I only wanted to hear samples of readers who were willing to work on royalty, rather than being paid an hourly amount for their work which averages about $200. 00 per edited hour. Audible gets 50% and all distribution rights in the shared royalty arrangement and the narrator and the author split the remaining 50%.


I requested auditions from several women who sounded right for my book. Within days there were links to sample readings of my work. I selected Christine Padovan who has received many awards for her narrations. I am very excited to have such a powerful ally in marketing and can’t wait to hear the finished product. Friends who love audible books will be able to listen to Wai-nani: A Voice from Old Hawai’i in 2014!
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  Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including the award-winning second edition of, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to get nearly free publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisher; The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor .

Monday, April 21, 2014

So Exactly What Is Hybrid Publishing?


The publishing industry changes constantly which means that authors must now decide between  self- or traditional publishing and all the hybrid options between those two. I’ve often said there is no one right path for publishing but may be only one (or at least one best path) for any given book or author. Now, there is a book from Dianne Sagan that will help with that decision and she has graciously given me an excerpt from it for my SharingwithWriters readers to peruse:
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Chapter One from The Hybrid Author
 Overview
By Dianne G. Sagan 
 
Writers choose varied paths to publication and success in their literary careers, each path unique but all sharing a common goal: to express our thoughts, tell a story and find readers. Both of these publishing paths have been around for ages, but only recently has the industry given those writers who publish both ways a name. We are called “hybrid writers.”
 
On February 12, 2013 at the first Author (R)evolution Day in New York City, the O’Reilly’s Tools of Change 2013 event began. Co-sponsored by Publishers Weekly, the conference was a full day of breakout sessions and discussions for authors, agents and independent author (or “indie”) service providers. The opening keynote speaker, Cory Doctorow, brought up the idea of multiple publication paths using today’s technology and evolving market, and he first coined the term hybrid author. Since then the term has received both increasing attention and greater respect. While this term originally applied to an author who chooses from both the traditional publishing path and the self-publishing path, I personally believe that there is much more to it than that and that there are more options for publishing written work today than ever before.
 
Twenty years ago a writer could seek a traditional publishing house through either personal query or a literary agent. If he used an agent then the writer worked through that agent to find a publisher for his book. At that time the only real alternative to a traditional publisher was for an author to pay a printer to publish his book, usually in small quantities, store them in his garage and sell them out of his car. These companies who printed books in exchange for a fee became known as “vanity presses” because they printed anything that the client paid for, as opposed to the legitimate publishers who put the writer through an acceptance process and produced professionally-edited, (usually) high-quality products to the market.
 
We now live in a vastly different publishing world, one that is in constant flux – changing the way things work and the way the industry looks on a month-to-month basis. We live, write, publish and read in a 24/7 world. I, myself, am a product of this evolution. I’ve dedicated the past fourteen years to writing professionally and followed the paths of both traditional publishing and self-publishing successfully. Other authors may be better-known today, but the books I’ve ghostwritten have sold thousands of copies, and six of them have achieved “Best Seller” status. I am a hybrid author.
The Merriman-Webster dictionary defines hybrid as something or someone “whose background is a blend of two diverse cultures or traditions; something that is formed by combining two or more things; something (as a power plant, vehicle, or electronic circuit) that has two different types of components performing essentially the same function.” Simply said, a hybrid is considered a cross or combination of two different things. Since we are only considering the term as it applies to writers and the publishing industry, I think it’s fair to say that our hybrid is a an author who combines two or more modes of publication.
The reality is that writers today aren’t limited to just two paths to publication. Today’s technology has made viable at least four viable publishing choices, according to many in the publishing industry. When we add to these publishing choices those authors who are capable of taking advantage of all four paths, you have what the insurance industry calls cafeteria options. We can have one entrĂ©e or several, one side dish or many, one dessert or all of them. It depends on what we want and how much time we are willing to dedicate to other facets of our craft. I believe that writing professionally is much more than just following a dream. It is a matter of learning the business side of writing and making informed business decisions about where, when and how our work is published. 
The first step is knowing what publishing options exist and what differentiates them from each other.~Dianne G. Sagan
 
MORE ABOUT THE BOOK
The above is an excerpt from The Hybrid Author© by Dianne G. Sagan.
The newly released book includes interviews with C. J. Lyons, Joanna Penn, J. A. Konrath, Hugh C. Howey, Barbara Freethy, Marie Force, Barbara Morgenroth and Jennifer Archer
 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dianne G. Sagan, author of 21 books, has been writing professionally for fourteen years and facilitating groups for 25 years. She’s authored ten nonfiction books as a ghostwriter, six of which are bestsellers. Her clientele includes writers from the United States, Canada, the UK, Austria, Oman, and Australia.
Ms. Sagan has traditionally published Christian fiction and women’s fiction. Her best known fiction works are her Women of the Bible series (published by Buoy Up Press, Denton, TX) and includes Rebekah Redeemed, The Fisherman’s Wife, Miriam’s Room and Mary’s Exile. She self-publishes nonfiction books on writing, including Tools and Tips for Writers and The Hybrid Author. Sagan’s works in progress include more Christian fiction with her traditional publisher and a new mystery series to debut soon. Dianne loves the hybrid author’s path and enjoys all its options.
 
 
----- Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including the award-winning second edition of, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to get nearly free publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisher; The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor .

Friday, April 18, 2014

Mini Rant on Paper vs. Digital Debate



Traditional or Digital: Who Wins?
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A reporter contacted me for input on traditional books vs digital. I couldn’t let my reply get seen only by his readers, because I think my retail experience adds something “to the conversation” (as everyone seems to be saying these days), though I think I prefer the phrase “to the debate.” The letter also serves as an example of a casual query—one in which there may have already been contact between reporter and author. Notice that even with contact already made, it is important for people to reintroduce themselves. Reporters are busy people. We want to make it easy on them.

Erik, I am the author of the HowToDoItFrugally series of books--one series for writers and one for retailers. I have nearly 30 years experience as founder and owner of my own retail chain and nearly two decades as a journalist and writer (Good Housekeeping Magazine, The Salt Lake Tribune, my own books and more.)

Those who see e-books and traditionally published books as a competition are way off base. Any retailer (see above) knows you give the customer what they want, when they want it and in the form they want it. You don't see the smart ones refusing to let people pay for things the way the want to pay for them, either.” Will you take a check?” they ask. The answer is always: “Any way our good customer wants to pay for something is good for us.” 

Traditional publishers are starting to see this and some e-book publishers are avid about digital production because they see the possibilities (and perhaps because they like the possible profit margin), but I know of no publisher that wouldn’t benefit by getting both streams of income. One of these book iterations is not going to win a contest as best (or better than!) any more than TV won over radio. Different readers find different formats for different needs, different preferences. Some like to have the same book in both iterations and, obviously Amazon realized this when they started their new Matchbook program.* 

It's time publishers just get over it and give their customers what they want, when they want it, and get profitable in the process.

*Note: Almost all my books on Amazon—from how-to books to poetry—are now available as e-books to those who buy the paper book. They get them--either free or at a greatly reduced price--with Amazon’s MatchBook. I see Amazon's new program as a way to thank my readers for their loyalty and—as an extra stream of income when I don’t mark the add-on digital copy as totally free.


 

CHJ
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Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including the award-winning second edition of, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to get nearly free publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisher; The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor .  Retailers will find my retail blog at http://frugalretailing.blogspot.com.  

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Making the Most of Book Reviews



Recently someone on one of the forums I frequent expressed the idea that readers are impressed by any review--good or bad. I responded to that “good or bad” aspect of reviews with a bit of a how-to on making the best of reviews--good or bad:

I've seen some authors weigh in on positive reviews with negative comments because they're sure the reviewer has an agenda (And that's a really stupid approach to marketing, if I do say so). I've also seen them dispute negative reviews and that isn't a much better tactic in terms of public relations.
 I’ve also seen them pay for reviews, apparently unaware that librarians and bookstore buyers don't give either paid-for review or Amazon reviews much—if any--weight. They may also be unaware that there are other ways to get reviews. Namely by asking their readers for them. Or asking bloggers for them. Or using alternative online review sites (like my http://TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com where you’ll find guidelines for submission in the left column).

That said, we all need good reviews and we can even make the bad ones work for us. We should keep the gems in any review to use in media kits, on our Web sites, etc. Yes, even negative reviews can sometimes be excerpted to find little jewel soundbites.

And as long as we're on the subject, I've heard that a good review on Amazon can up sales by 10%. I don't remember the source. I  suspect that reviews also help with Amazon's logarithms and whatever formula Amazon uses takes hold, they start sending out your book in their mass e-mails for suggested reading--obviously a very targeted advertising campaign we should all aim to be part of.

I also encourage authors to post reviews of others’ books on Amazon. It’s a lovely gift for a fellow writer in 2014.

Here’s a real upside to reviews. Since they have (mostly) moved from the pages of literary journals into the hands of amateur reviewers (meaning—sadly—readers!), we authors have more power over getting reviews for our books. We also can more easily determine how effectively good reviews can be used. There is always a risk factor with reviews, but even ones we might consider bad can be learning tools.
One technique I like is picking up little positive soundbites from a review. Say even a bad reviewer says the characters are dazzling. The author can then quote that one little tidbit in their media kit, their newsletter, their Website. It would look like this:
 "...dazzling..." ~ Kirkus Review
The ads for movies do this all the time. You can, too. 

So have at making the most of reviews. Just don’t pay for them.
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Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including the award-winning second edition of, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to get nearly free publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisher; The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor .

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Hot Off Publishers Weekly Presses! LA Times Concedes Indie Store Battle

I rarely post something on my blog before I run it in my SharingwithWriters newsletter but this news is important--something that will give indie authors insight in the battles being fought and won and maybe some ammunition to use when approaching an indie bookstore for a signing or other event (preferably something more than just a signing!)

IN THE NEWS:  Publishers Weekly made a big deal in an article where they touted a “win” for independent booksellers who wrangled a concession from the LA Times Festival of Books to include a buy button supporting local sales of books instead of exclusively linking to Amazon. Of course the LA Times preferred an Amazon button! They are probably part of Amazon's affiliate program and would reap a small percentage of every book sold that way! (Just as we authors can!). Still the indie stores deserve to be treated well considering their support of book fairs in LA and nationally. I just hope they turn that karma around and treat their indie authors well, too—because most chains certainly aren’t doing that. . .  yet!

Here’s the full link to the PW article. Here’s a link in case the embedded one above doesn’t work for you—this news is that important!
 
http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/trade-shows-events/article/61376-l-a-times-adds-indiebound-buy-button-for-festival-of-books.html?utm_source=Publishers+Weekly&utm_campaign=c6847f01ca-UA-15906914-1&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0bb2959cbb-c6847f01ca-304612053


Those of you who would like to subscribe to my newsletter before the next issue comes out may do so at http://howtodoitfrugally.com. The subscription form in in the upper right corner of almost every page of the site and you will received an e-copy of my much-loved Great LIttle Last-Minute Editing Tips for Writers full of wordtrippers and style-choice wisdom.

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Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including the award-winning second edition of, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to get nearly free publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisher; The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor .