Still Conflicted about Amazon

Still Conflicted about Amazon I’ve just finished reading Brad Stone’s The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon. I’m still processing what I learned, and checking other sources for differing perspectives, but my initial reaction is that this is an eye-opening, clarifying, sobering yet illuminating resource for anyone interested in publishing or business in general.   I approached this book the same way I’ve always approached Amazon: (1) as an Amazon customer, and (2) as a person employed by traditional publishing. The two perspectives leave me feeling a little whiplashed at times, since they induce two opposing views of Amazon.   As a customer, I’ve always been extremely happy. I’m a Kindle reader, a Prime member, and I use Amazon almost every day.   As a...
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Taxes and Writers

Taxes and Writers It’s April 15th, woohoo! One of my favorite days of the year. NOT. Awhile back I blogged about making a living as a writer (Part 1 and Part 2), so today we’re going to talk about the unfortunate side effect of getting paid for your writing. Yup, it’s…. Taxes. Disclaimer: I’m not going to thoroughly cover the topic of taxes for writers. I’m not a CPA and I’ve never worked for the IRS so I’m not even going to try to tell you “all about taxes.” I am, however, going to give you a few tips regarding MONEY in general as it relates to your career as a writer. So here are a few hints for you: 1. Treat your writing like a business. This is the most important thing I want to impress upon you about handling the financial aspect of your...
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What About the Readers?

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Jxuon9JmsKY/TdsZJLS_vmI/AAAAAAAAEfo/9BZLQYKbhIA/s320/volleyball+serve.jpg Most of you are probably a bit tired of reading about the e-book/self-publishing revolution, but today I’m going to jump into the fray with a question I’ve been thinking about. As traditional publishing is no longer the only or even the best option for writers to get their work published, more and more people will go the route of self-publishing their books. I’ve said before and I’ll say again that I don’t have a philosophical problem with this, and in fact, in private conversations I find myself encouraging some writers to go this route. But as I’ve considered the proliferation of self-published books that will surely grow exponentially over the next few years, I began to wonder: Who benefits from all of this? Surely not the reader, who already has thousands of...
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Royalty Rates

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_5cLmD8GqnKY/TPW7Z56gyyI/AAAAAAAAENA/K2nI6-m-als/s200/money.jpg I’ve written about royalty rates several times, and I usually avoid using actual numbers because royalty rates are varied across types of publishers, types of books, and book formats. But people keep asking me, so I’ll try to explain a little more clearly here. Royalty rates are calculated either on the retail (or cover) price of the book, or on the net price which is the price at which the publisher sells to the retailer (usually around 50% off). The big New York publishers always pay royalties based on the cover price. Most publishers in the CBA including the largest ones pay on net. Smaller publishers vary in how they calculate royalties. Most royalty rates increase according to the number of units sold. So a typical royalty schedule for a first time author with a mainstream...
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You Can Write for Love AND Money

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_5cLmD8GqnKY/TLu8nNH3eaI/AAAAAAAAEJw/_gEfxGodUEs/s200/Gnomes+cover+final.jpg Guest Blogger: Chuck Sambuchino You ever see Superman IV? You may have blocked it from your memory because the whole movie is just a drive down Awful Street. But as awful as it is, I think it has a connection to the world of writing. One fascinating thing about the movie is that Christopher Reeve wasn’t interested in making another Superman film (because knew it would suck—and suck it did). So if he knew Superman IV would suck and didn’t want to do it in the first place, how on Earth did that movie ever get made? Two words: Street Smart. Street Smart was a tight little drama script that Reeve had been trying to get off the ground for years. Some Hollywood producers told Reeve they would bankroll any picture of his choosing in exchange for doing Superman IV. He couldn’t...
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What About Market Research?

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_5cLmD8GqnKY/S9ZVtFFlJHI/AAAAAAAADvs/pXnSjELSS58/s200/marketresearch.jpg I’ve been asked this question several times by various people outside the publishing industry: Why don’t publishing houses do more market research? Most industries that sell to the public invest heavily in things like focus groups, surveys, and product testing. This is even done with TV shows and feature films. But it doesn’t seem the publishing industry engages in much market research. Why not? While many publishers do limited market research when they need an answer to a specific question, it’s not an area of huge investment nor does it drive publishing decisions in general. There are good reasons for this – it’s not an oversight or an accident. Here are my thoughts: → Primary market research is suited to a specific product, which wouldn’t be...
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Keeping Track of Things

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_5cLmD8GqnKY/S8Cw4MX6e8I/AAAAAAAADtc/AL8YXP8xY5E/s200/Data.jpg Yesterday I wrote about treating your writing like a business, and being professional about how you deal with the finances and tax ramifications of that business. Continuing along those lines, today I want to suggest a couple more things you can do to stay organized in your writing business. If you’re in the querying stage, you’re probably already keeping good records of that process. If you’re not keeping organized records yet, I recommend you start now! Many people create a simple Excel spreadsheet in which they track each query, when it’s sent, who it’s sent to, and the response. Record every single bit of activity, including whenever you send a follow-up, leaving nothing to memory. You can also join an online community like QueryTracker that helps you...
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Finances of Publishing:

Answering Questions from Last WeekI’m glad my two posts last week, How Do Book Royalties Work? and Is Your Book Worth It? seemed to be helpful. There were quite a few questions, a few of which I’ll try to answer here. Sara asked: If an author wants to help sell their own books (lectures, readings, etc), how does that work? Is there a price break for authors who want to sell directly (say for 100 books)? Is that considered helpful or what do publishers think of authors pushing their own books? A: Yes, it’s definitely a huge plus if an author is going to sell their own book! Many non-fiction authors are the driving force behind their own book sales because of their speaking engagements and back-of-room sales. The author’s contract with the publisher specifies the...
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Major Publisher Opens Subsidy Publishing Division

As you all know, yesterday Thomas Nelson announced they are launching a new imprint, WestBow Press, which will operate as a subsidy publisher. Lots of people are talking about it and I thought I’d weigh in with a few thoughts. *Please note, this is preliminary since I’ve only had a few hours to think about it. I’m sure I will have more to say, or my thinking may evolve, so I’ll keep you updated.* There will probably be some criticisms of Nelson’s move, but looking at the big picture of publishing, I think WestBow Press is a step in the right direction (and by the way, Nelson isn’t the first or only publisher to add a subsidy division). The reality is that technology is making it easier and easier for writers to bypass the traditional pubs and get their...
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