Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Oh, all right. I'll bite.

So, there's this blog post over here that was pretty incendiary re: Agents and their "money grabs" with authors who are self-publishing and using the agency to do so.

It was a...something...enough blog post to make a bunch of agents really mad in a "NU UH!" Sort of way. Like in a way that just makes one shake one's head and think "you just. don't. get it."

One thing she said struck me as particularly "not getting it," here:
But they don’t know the right answers in self-publishing. There isn’t an agent out there that has the savvy that Bella Andre, Joe Konrath, and Amanda Hocking have in self-publishing. Not a one.

This woman points out that authors are talking about agents and "what they're doing." I wish authors would stop talking about their agents and start talking to them (just in general, actually)--ask questions about how things will be done and ask the agent to explain commission break-downs if there are increases. If nothing else, you have a good resource on this blog (here, here, here, here, and here on this topic, among others).

You have no excuse to not have intelligent questions on this process--ask them of your agent. And if you're feeling squeamish and, by god, if you feel like the agent you're talking to is a sleaze or a moron, go elsewhere. Or publish online yourself; we're lucky to exist in a world where that is totally possible.


Know also that knowledge of the self-publishing process is NOT step one. It's like Step .75. You get your book online and then what?

Amanda Hocking sold books by marketing books, and she researched marketing on Agent and Publishing Industry sites (and, by the way, is agented with a traditional book deal). All the moguls of self-publishing that people hold up as leaders of the MOVEMENT self-published and then spent thousands of hours, if not dollars, marketing the books.

If marketing is overlooked, whether you self-publish or you're going through an agency or ePublisher, there had better be marketing in place or all the "self-publishing savvy" in the world isn't going to get that book sold.

Agents know marketing. Just as many as are setting up publishing arms are setting up marketing initiatives to compliment them. And that is worth 15% just in and of itself.

It's an agent's full time job to deal with their clients' books, and it's not most author's full time jobs. It's a huge sacrifice that may never pay off, something, incidentally, that agents know well,
since we don't get paid until you do.

Writing Process

Writers out there, you baffle me.

I was at Books of Wonder last night for the launch of the DELIGHTFUL Arlaina Tibensky's AND THEN THINGS FALL APART, her literary-reference-and-comedy-filled YA contemporary.

She was answering questions and, as is wont to happen when writers get in a room together, someone asked her about how she writes, and how her characters develop. Charmingly, she said that her characters develop through her "making them do things." That they just sort of spring up one day, "wearing a cute little outfit." She also said that her book, once she gets an ending in mind, just sort of comes out, moving somehow in the direction of that ending.

Of course, for me, a non-writer, that all sounds very strange. Of course the characters don't literally spring up one day--you have to write them. But it's interesting shorthand for how it feels when a story is just right.

How does it feel for you? How, in the WORLD do you do it!?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Agencies with Separate Publishing Divisions

I got word recently that yet another agency has decided to set up a side-project to handle "ePublishing." This division will not serve (1) clients self-publishing themselves (no commission taken) or (2) clients who bring the agency ready-to-upload files that the agency then uploads and monitors for royalties/earnings (15% commission taken). It's for (3)clients for whom the agency will handle all aspects of the epublishing.

Sounds alright, right? That's got to be a lot of work!

Unless the agency has undergone some MAJOR personnel changes and hired cover designers and converters, the work of converting and designing the cover of the ebook will be done by outside freelancers.

AKA the agency has a list of a couple of people they know who convert books and/or design covers and they send your book to them, get it back a couple weeks later, then proceed as with client-type (2).

The agency has probably done extensive work on these projects, even the ones that are self-published, and even tried to sell it in many cases. They've certainly earned their 15%. But I'd be hard to convince that the agency is earning more than that 15%.

You should be hard to convince, too.

Ask a lot of questions before signing up for anything that involves more than a standard commission. Who's doing the work? Who's paying them? Get the facts, and you may feel that an increased commission is justified...or you might not.

Friday, July 22, 2011


Response to a form rejection in the slush today:
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Regretfully, I am unable to accept your rejection at this time.
Despite what might sound like a cocky attitude, I am, to the contrary, quite unique in that I have until recently refused to allow myself to be certain about any of the major areas of life. It has been my observation that most others are absolutely certain by the time they are twenty years old of their beliefs toward themselves, other indivdiduals and groups, religion, politics, relationships, social issues and everything else in life.

This makes little sense, as did the next several paragraphs on...some stuff. Then there was a note that let me know that the book was 90% ready to go and how I probably didn't see much of that.

Jaw. Drop. All this has done is inflate the count on my inbox. Please don't respond to form rejections. I know they seem callous, but with literally thousands of queries to read, they're necessary if I'm going to reassure you that your query was read. By a real person.

Sending me a response (and a long one at that) is just annoying, unfortunately--even a thank you is just upping that "Unread" count.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

I interrupt this broadcast...

OK, OK. We will get back to Facebook. But I just wanted to say real quick:

(I'm still telling you so)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Facebook: Importance

Facebook is the mother of all Social Media networks. Building a presence there is harder than on other platforms because Facebook utilizes all of the content that you might put on other platforms: pictures, blog-like notes, and tweet-like status updates.

Facebook has also really blossomed in the last little while. E-commerce through Facebook is starting to pick up (Facebook as another online retailer?? You want to be there). With one-in-every-eight online minutes spent on Facebook, some are saying that Facebook is the internet. It's the new "mall." A one-stop shop for shopping, news, friends' updates, and entertainment.

But isn't Facebook just for the kids? I mean isn't just for college students to post, then untag that pic of them doing a kegstand?


Here're some stats to illustrate:
  • Facebook has 750,000,000 users worldwide, 350,000,000 (50%) of which log in every day.
  • The average user has about 130 friends. That means that if you have a Fan Page with 50 fans, you're actually reaching, on average, about 5000 people every time you post.
  • Facebook is second only to Google in terms of daily traffic.
  • Over 50% of Facebook users are over the age of 35. There are about 30 million users in that age range just in the US.
  • Books are the third most-liked products on Facebook, after Movies and TV shows (wompwomp)

Most shockingly:
57% of people--all people--say that they talk more to their friends/family members online than they do in real life.

Bottom line, get on Facebook. But know, before you do, that Facebook isn't magic, any more than anything else online. You have to be smart about planning a strategy.

In the next post, we address how you should get on Facebook. Posting schedules, types of content, and the like.

Anyone out there already on Facebook as a Fan Page, not a personal Profile?


Friday, July 1, 2011

Facebook: Profile vs Page

In the comments section of the How-to-Social-Media yesterday, I saw someone reference "scrolling down to see vacation pics." They were talking about a Facebook profile page--where people can request and be approved to be your friend. But if we're talking about building your online brand, we're not talking about a Profile page.

Most people have a Profile page to connect with friends and family. It is NOT the type of page you want to set up as your "author" or public page.

If you're setting up any sort of public page: for your book, for you as an author, or any other sort of professional type thing, you want to set up a Facebook Fan Page. The differences:
  • People just click "Like" to gain access to a page; they don't have to be approved the way you would a friend request on your Profile page.
  • Your content should be related, although it doesn't have to strictly revolve around, the product or service you set the page up to promote. This means no personal pictures, no vacation uploads from your phone after your third mai-tai.
And Fan Pages, like a Profile Page, have some of the same tools to make your life easier:
  • You can import a personal blog, so that when the blog updates so does your Facebook.
  • All the same types of content is supported--you can add photos of, say, your book cover or a video of a reading or signing.
  • You can link out to your website or to a buy link for whatever you're promoting.
  • There is a "Wall" section where you and your followers can interact publicly, as well as messages where you can communicate privately.
Go here: to create your Facebook Fan Page--BUT WAIT.

Make sure you're doing so at the right time. If you don't have a book out in the next year (similar timeframe for other products: if you're not launching within a year, don't jump the gun), you probably don't want to start promoting it now--potential buyers will get fatigued. Twitter is a better, lower-commitment place to start if you're a couple of years out (we'll get to more on that).

Over the next few posts, we'll be talking more about Facebook, how to use it, and what its future looks like for commercial use. Stay tuned!!