Call for interviewees

Dear writer (yes, this post is for independent authors and writers specifically),

If you are interested in doing a fun written interview, please let me know (by e-mail, or in a comment to this post with a way that I can contact you).

You can find a sample of the questions here, so you know what you will be in for. I have tried to make the questions a bit different from a ‘standard’ interview.

I am looking forward to ‘hear’ from you!

Self-publishing and pricing

On the blog The Bliss Quest, a blogger who goes by Athena writes a lengthy, thoughtful post looking setting a price for her self-published book. After her last publisher offered her a contract that would only pay her 5% of the book’s cover price (and her editor actually told her “Writers don’t write to make money, they write because they must”), she started looking longingly at the 70% revenue that self-publishing would offer her, and trying to figure out just how many copies she would need to sell at what price in order to make back minimum wage for the time spent writing the book.

She was looking at pricing it at $6, but the problem she runs into is that a lot of the people she talked to who might be inclined to read e-books are cheapskates—they only want to pay $4.99 or less. Athena finds this rather frustrating—as she points out, depending on reading speed, $6 for a book is often less than $1 per hour of entertainment, and people pay a lot more than that for movies.

If writing (my book) does not pay for me to survive well enough to write the next one and the next one – I’m clearly in the wrong profession. If my writing can’t entice people to pay $1 an hour for entertainment – then I might as well be doing something else. If people will pay 12$ for a two hour movie like Transformers 3 or the newest haunted flick, but they won’t pay 6$ for a book – then I’m not doing my job well enough.

I can certainly sympathize. As an unknown independent author, the problem she faces is not just a matter of price, of course. It’s a matter of all the competition out there at all price ranges, and the competition for people’s time from non-book-related activities. And from an economic point of view, it’s hard to figure out how to reach the optimum point on a price-demand curve since every book is going to have a different appeal and thus different demand.

But the question of what price to set is one that every self-publishing author is going to have to face, and nonetheless it’s interesting to see Athena’s thoughts on how to approach it. Hopefully she can get some good advice from writers who’ve gone that way before.

(Via Teleread).

10 Things Readers May Not Know About Indie Authors

By  Todd R. Tystad, author of Blue Hill, stolen from Original article here.

Modern media has given birth to independent musicians and independent filmmakers and now to independent authors, more popularly known as indie authors.  In the spirit of the indie musicians and filmmakers that came before them, indie authors are now blazing their own trails outside the publishing establishment.  With this new category of artist, readers may be unfamiliar with what defines an indie author.  So, let’s get to know the indie author and why the breed is so rare.  This list certainly doesn’t define every indie author, just as no list could ever define every indie musician or filmmaker.  Every indie author is different from the next and that’s one of the many reasons they’re deemed independent.  Here’s a list of ten things you may not know about indie authors:

  1. The indie author is a dedicated reader, just like you.  She loves books and what she earns from her work is often put back into buying books, often from other indie authors.  She can’t help it because she fell in love with language and the printed word at an early age. Creating stories and sharing ideas through her writing is second nature and a life without books is unimaginable.  Reading and writing is just another necessary behavior, like breathing, eating, and sleeping.
  2. The indie author is a regular guy who goes to work, comes home, takes out the trash, feeds the kids, and walks the dog.  The difference is that when the day job and the chores are done, he summons up the creative energy needed to spin all sorts of tales with the hope of entertaining his readers.  It takes Herculean strength to create characters, build cities, and poetically describe feelings of passion just minutes after cleaning out the litter box, but the indie author can do all that and more.  He’s really quite remarkable.
  3. The indie author believes that books are a medium that will never grow old.  Storytelling will always be a part of the human experience and books will always be a way that we share our stories.  The form that books take has been changing, but the value of reading a well-written story never will.
  4. The indie author dreams that her main character will overcome every obstacle, slay every dragon, and fall in love in a way that has never happened before.  She has faith that true love will prevail and she knows that if you believe, anything can happen.  All she wants is for you to join her on her journey.
  5. The indie author is a renegade, a rebel, and a force to be reckoned with.  In quiet ways and armed only with language and some carefully laid-out ideas, he will not rest until he has delivered his story to his readers.  He sits for hours composing what he has dreamed of sharing and rejects the traditional publishing rules that tell him it must be done in a certain way.
  6. The indie author is the author you’ll be hearing about in the future.  She’s a rising star.   She knows that even if she becomes successful enough that the next computer will be newer or the paper more plentiful, she’ll still write with the same zeal that she had when she wrote her first book.  Read that first book now so you can say you knew her back when she first got started.
  7. The indie author is not a franchise figurehead leading a creative staff and an editorial team producing books by committee.  The indie author is an individual writer, toiling away in the early morning or late at night creating stories that emerge organically and are handcrafted with the love a parent has for a child.
  8. The indie author is inspired to be a writer, but is usually not inspired to be a marketer.  Since the task of promoting an indie book falls entirely onto the shoulders of the indie author, he must become an independent businessperson (by default and usually not by choice). Treat him kindly when he visits your doorstep selling his wares.
  9. The indie author is technologically proficient (also by default and also usually not by choice).  Indie publishing requires that he be expert in managing data, formatting, uploading, creating cover art, and interacting with various indie publishing websites.  If not, he must scrounge up the money to pay someone else to do it for him and that can often be a significant obstacle.  He sometimes wishes technology could be set aside so that all of the time he spends on technological proficiency could be used for writing.
  10. Most of all, the indie author is, in her heart, the defender of the independent spirit and the keeper of the faith.  As fresh ideas become more difficult to find, the indie author becomes more determined.  She has refused to be bound by the shackles of the establishment and she has no intention of backing down.  The indie author writes and publishes independently and, through her work, she helps to keep us thinking independently too.


The roaring mouse

Don’t worry, dear reader,

I have not lost all my marbles. Yet. I’d just like to point you to a new blog about books and indie authors, called “the roaring mouse”.

The publishing world is changing and the boom in e-publishing has allowed both small press publishers and self-publishers to gain greater exposure than ever before.

The Roaring Mouse aims to bring you the best selection of those books as reviews, interviews and features. You don’t have to look to the Big Six for quality literature, you can look towards the little guys.

The first book review at the roaring mouse is  Brother Betrayed by Danielle Raver. Added is an interview with the author. If you are interested in an example of epic fantasy, go have a look!

Smashwords interviews its authors

Dear reader,

to my delight I discovered the first of a series of interviews that Smashwords conducts with some of its successful authors. Allow me to share part of, and the link to the first one:

Smashwords Author Profile: Shayne Parkinson

(Mark’s note: This is the first in an ongoing series of Smashwords author profiles. The interviews are conducted by David Weir, a veteran journalist who has written previously for The Economist, Rolling Stone and The New York Times. We’ll profile a diverse range of authors who are achieving success distributing ebooks with Smashwords. Even if we manage to do 52 interviews in the next year [a goal], it means we’ll barely touch 1 in 1,000 Smashwords authors. Do you have a favorite Smashwords author? If so, consider interviewing them for your blog and support your fellow indie authors.)

When we caught up with Shayne Parkinson recently, she was just about to go outside her countryside home and tend to her sheep.

Shayne writes historical fiction set in her native New Zealand, a genre traditional publishers in her country considered too niche to take seriously. So she started to self-published with Smashwords starting in March 2009. Ever since, people all over the world have been discovering her books — one reader at a time.

And once they do, they became fans, often quite insistently (as she explains below) awaiting the next book in her series. These days, her books attract a truly significant global audience, and she sells more in a day now than she did in her first full year back at the start.

If you want to read more, please follow this link.

Traditional publishers should learn from self-publishers

Does self-publishing represent a threat to traditional publishers, or perhaps an opportunity? A number of people in the publishing industry seem dismissive of self-publishing writers or their numbers. But Philip Jones of FutureBook thinks that this is a mistake. He notes that readers who buy cheap self-published books will be spending time reading them that they might otherwise have spent reading more expensive works from traditional publishers.

What strikes me most about indie writers, however, is not what they write, but how they publish it. Konrath may be a ‘downmarket’ writer for some, but he is a first-rate publisher for many, as was Hocking: they wrote regularly, priced to the market, and promoted like hell. Heinze and Wilkinson may be looking for publishing deals: they just can’t be bothered waiting for traditional publishers to “discover them”.

Traditional publishers need to learn from these successes, if they are to throw off the irritating “legacy” tag some self-published writers hang around their necks.

He suggests publishers should be trying models similar to that floated by Macmillan New Writing (which is unfortunately closed for new submissions right now when it should be scooping up all the fresh “indie” talent it can). They should be building communities and courting the more successful self-published authors (as with Amanda Hocking).

All that makes sense, but the article’s close in which Jones suggests that badly-edited and poorly-presented self-published e-books will put readers off over time, and traditional publishers could improve their appearance, is actually rather amusing. I find myself wondering just where Jones has been over the last few years if he thinks that “professional” e-books are uniformly well-edited or presented. I’ve seen plenty of self-published works that were better than some pro-published for typos.

(Post originally appeared on Teleread.)

An eBook reader under the Christmas tree

Here is some interesting news, dear reader, as found on the website of The Daily Mail (follow the link for the full article):

“An eBook reader under the Christmas tree? Bad news –  publishers band together to hike prices higher than real books

  • Amazon’s ‘top selling’ list floods with cheap, self-published authors as publishers hike prices
  • Steve Jobs biography more expensive in eBook
  • Agreement forbids retailers from discounting
  • eBook prices inflated by 33-50 per cent

It’s bad news for anyone who has eBook readers such as Amazon’s Kindle, Kobo’s readers, or Barnes and Noble’s Nook sitting under the Christmas tree.
An agreement between six major publishers has seen prices rocket for many books worldwide – some of which are more expensive than the paper version.
The agreement includes major publishing houses such as HarperCollins and Penguin.
The agreement reportedly forbids retailers from discounting eBooks without a publisher’s permission.
It’s seen a huge surge in ‘self-published’ books as users of eBook readers turn to cheaper authors to escape rising prices. In the early days of eBooks, Amazon drove sales of its Kindle eBook reader by discounting heavily – leading readers to see eBooks as a ‘bargain’ version of their favourite reads.
But that seems no longer to be the case. Consumers are increasingly angry at being charged more for an electronic version that they can’t easily lend out or give away – even ‘lending’ schemes for eBooks tend to be tightly controlled and difficult to use.
The Kindle edition of this year’s eBook bestseller, Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs is $20.76 – the paper one is $17.49.”

This, for consumers, is bad news indeed. This getting into the open is bad news for the big publishers, as their scheme is transparent now. But the message in here is one I would like to emphasise with all my heart: If you are looking for a good book, try one of an independent author who publishes her or his own work. Indie writers, like I am, care for their readers and work at least as much as the well-known, established writers. Perhaps even more. And from personal experience I can vouch for the quality of their work. Of course, exceptions exist, but I have bought expensive books by ‘big’ authors that were a real turn-off for me as well.

So, dear reader, try an indie on for size for a change. Their book-prices are usually a lot lower too, which – in this time of financial difficulty – is good news.