Category Archives: Publishing Venture

The War Against Self-Published Authors

A definite war has been waged against self-published authors. Sentiments that just because you can take pen to paper and hit submit does not make you an author. In a world when anyone with access to internet can submit a book, what exactly defines an author?

There has even been an argument over writer versus author in this article (Self-Publishers Should Not Be Called Authors, by Michael Kozlowski). The overwhelming amount of snobbery was clear, as it would appear the elite once again do not enjoy “indies” trampling their path. To summarize the article in a nutshell, Mr. Kozlowski states, “If you can earn your living from your writing, you are a professional author, anyone else is just a plain old writer.” The premise to most of this article is that self-published authors (or writers) have not honed in their craft and publish, for lack of a better word, crap.

Some would say that self-publishing is for those who don’t want to spend years on perfecting their art in an apprenticeship as stated by Ros Barber in this Guardian post (For Me Traditional Publishing Means Poverty. But Self-Publish? No Way. “…you will be very glad that the first novel you wrote was not the first novel you published, because it will now feel embarrassing and amateurish,” he states. Going on to state in one of his sections that “Self-Publishing Can Make You Feel Like a Fool.”

These are not the exceptions. I searched many different terminologies and encountered several different blogs, reports, and editorials waging battle against Self-Published authors. Take into consideration that many articles were first littered with self-proclamations of their success. After reading articles for hours, I, as a self-published author, felt more like a peasant at the house of the tax keeper begging for mercy. My place is not among the elite. Maybe that was their point: put us groveling self-pub writers, because we haven’t yet earned our stripes through multitudes of failure, in our order on the literary food chain. Can you say, accomplished writers eat their young?

By definition a writer is one who writes in a particular text. This can encompass all types of writers: journalists, screenplay, novels, blogs, reviewers, scientific findings, technical, email. An author is a writer of a book, article, or report. Which makes, by definition, a self-published writer an author. Are there variations of authortude? I would say so. As any person who takes a picture, selfie or otherwise, is a photographer, that does not make them a “professional” photographer. By definition, professional is defined as, “one engaged in a specified activity as one’s main paid occupation rather than as an amateur.”

To recap: anybody who puts pen to paper (or types) is a writer. I wrote an email. I sent a text. A writer who has written a book, article, or report is an author. I am a self-published author. A professional author makes their living from their writings. Nicholas Sparks and James Patterson are professional authors. I am a  registered nurse by profession and an author by passion.

So why the war against self-published authors? If there is one main theme that runs through the disdain of each article it is one I can relate to the most: poorly edited books. Yes writers, just because you can put pen to paper and easily upload to a publishing platform, does not mean you should. I’ve written on this topic several times, and if you read the comments of some of those articles named above, you will see a plethora of readers agree that poorly edited books have turned them off to self-published books forever. They go so far as to research authors before purchasing books, and I do mean some deep research is going into this.

“… we must all strive to put out the best.”

Readers are most certainly looking for the next best thing, and they do not feel that traditional publishing is the be all to end all in books. They are looking for progressive story lines. Stories that break the rules. They are tired of being dictated to by big publishing houses. They want you! But, as a writer looking to author a book you have the duty to produce remarkable well polished work; inside and out. Yes. Yes. Yes. Readers judge a book by a cover.

You don’t need to build upon failures in order to become accomplished, but you do need to know that self-publishing is not free, requires editing, requires the ability to take criticism, requires writes and rewrites until you want to throw your manuscript at a wall and never see it again. Sometimes it takes years and for others it takes months. Do not be that author that hits submit on a non-edited book, that took no criticism prior to publishing, just because the opportunity is there. These faulty books are damaging the reputations of self-published authors.

self-publishing-cartoonWith all that being said, for every article found on the internet bashing indie authors there is an article praising us. There may be a war waged against self-pub, but there is an army of accomplished and professional authors backing up our industry. We are not alone, but we must put our best foot forward. Sometimes our first book is a jumping off point, one that does not need to be published. I’ve worked with several new authors who bled through their  first book then shelved it. That was the learning curve for them, and they knew it wasn’t worthy of publishing, but it was momentum to do better next time, to learn from mistake after mistake. And some get that award winning novel spot on the very first time. We are all different in skills, in stories, in our failures, but we must all strive to put out the best. You only get one chance to make a first impression, make it your best. And remember, you represent a larger group: self-published authors.

Tania L Ramos, RN BSN and author
Follow me on Twitter, FB, and visit my website

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What Are the Arts? A Hollywood Standard

After spending more than my self-allotted time on Facebook today, the running theme was the Meryl Streep speech. This blog is not a political debate and I will not go into politics. However, I will discuss “arts.” Ms. Streep made a rather bold comment that has sent MMA fighters globally into an uproar, whether her intention or not.

Per Ms. Streep, “So Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners. And if we kick them all out you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts.

The question now begging to be answered is: What are the arts? Are the arts only limited to those on stage or in productions? Have we lost sight of what the arts are? Have the arts  evolved or devolved?

According to Oxford, art can be defined as 1) the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power. 2) (the arts) the various branches of creative activity, such as painting, music, literature, and dance. 3) a skill at doing a specified thing, typically one acquired through practice.

I would consider definition #2 to include artists, writers, poets, sculptors, singers/song writers, and dancers. In there I would add acting as well, as this is a dominant basis to portray stories through creative activity. That would be my opinion. Using the given Oxford definition then, Mixed Martial Arts, football, even culinary chefs would fall into definition #3, as they have honed into a special skill acquired through practice. This can also absorb definition #2, as a writer works at his skill acquired through practice: the art of writing. Similarly,  the art of song writing, the art of basket weaving, the art of sculpting, the art of dance, the art of fighting, heck even the art of war.

So here is my kick: as definition #2 (the arts) can easily dip into definition #3 (acquired skill), can acquired skill also be considered the arts? The definitions are so broad. Have you ever watched Tai Chi? The slow and fluid motions are almost poetic in nature and mesmerizing to watch. Would Tai Chi not be a creative activity defined as the arts? Again, the definition is quite broad and could not encompass every example of the arts, but instead gave the more prominent ones.

Glass blowing: the arts or an acquired skill; the art of glass blowing? Tai Chi versus MMA; is there a difference?

Definitions give to evolution in an ever changing world, but are the definitions variant through the eyes of the beholder?  A husband and wife go to an art museum. The wife is in awe of the sculptures and paintings, to her that is art. They walk into the next museum, an air and space museum, and the husband sees the curves, the mass, the depth of an old WWII fighter plane and says that is true art. Which one is wrong? Are they both correct? Couldn’t building a plane be considered a creative art? I’m sure the Wright Brothers would love to hear that argument.

My blog today was not to bash or trash, and definitely not to make a political statement, but rather to entice people to open their minds as to what is art and what are the arts. Are only the beautiful aspects to be considered art such as Tai Chi versus MMA? Are some form of the arts higher up on the evolutionary art ladder than others: slam poetry versus Hollywood movies? Is it art to portray a fighter in a movie but not to be a fighter? Is it art to portray a fighter pilot in war but not to be a fighter pilot in war?

Have we evolved or devolved our definition of the arts over time? And if all of Hollywood disappeared today, would the arts disappear with it?

I would love to hear your “non-political” input on what you consider to be the arts, or on Ms. Streep’s thoughts that without Hollywood there would be nothing left but football and MMA. Maybe the world could read the book instead of watching the film adaptation, but I’m a writer; I can dream.

Tania L Ramos, RN BSN & Author of the arts

Follow me on FB, Twitter, or my personal website for listings of books

Book Sale Advertising Cost

Not many things cause me to jump for joy, but today as I looked at my book stats on Amazon ranking, I noticed Be Still was ranked higher. How did I get sales? Facebook advertising. But that came at a cost of $30.00. One sale with a royalty of $1.75 at the cost of $30. This is marketing! Welcome.

I’m still not being condescending. As an author and entrepreneur, and non-marketing expert, I have had to experiment with several avenues of advertising. Next month I will try Pinterest as I have found that Twitter has not panned out at all (and was very expensive). Another marketer contacted me today stating they could get my books into the hands of 100 bloggers and reviewers and would only cost $3,500. I asked how many they would guarantee would actually leave reviews and/or blog review, they had no answer. Again, buyer beware.

As an independent author, I will continue to try different avenues of marketing. For now I will set my sights on preparing for the 2017 L.A. festival of Books coming up soon. I did find this venue to be great for making contacts and creating an email list. Sales weren’t fantastic, and I didn’t recoup my costs, but the exposure was fantastic.

Sales to date have been good however, much of that has come at a cost of trial and error. I try and bring what I learn back to my blog but I still haven’t found that ultimate trick to “find readers.” If you have advise on Pinterest advertising, I’d love to hear from you.

Tania L Ramos RN BSN

But Where Are the Readers?

After publishing, the real hard work begins. Post a link to your newly published book and you’ll get the obligatory responses and purchases from select friends and family. But there are well over three million books in publication, ready to be purchased or downloaded at any given time. What makes yours stand apart?

Of course you’ll need a social media presence, but be ready. Despite social media interaction, which may devour hours of the day, you may receive one or two, Hey wanna book swaps? Great to at least get ratings, maybe readings, perhaps a solid review, but those are few and far in between. Not to mention you are either buying their book or buying yours and gifting it to them. I’ve had sales off FB and Twitter, and lots of to be reads off Goodreads. Most of those well intentions come from other authors looking for reciprocity.

Where do you get the readers? The following? Some companies offer marketing. I have tried several and gained several new authors as followers. But where are the readers? Your best bet is book bloggers, but good luck getting on their reading list any time soon. The good bloggers are backed up at least nine months. I have tried independent small marketing firms, mostly because I like to support the Mom & Pops out there. However, I have been burned by a few of those and recently disputed a fee through PayPal for one such company claiming they will publicize my book to over 15,000 readers on their blog and even more across social media for $14.99/month. I paid and never heard from them again.

Being listed as a writer on Facebook, I quickly realized that I am now targeted for sponsored ads relating to writing, editing, publishing, and anything interconnected to the industry. I look through the ads, do my research, read the comments, look for reviews and find that most authors are greatly displeased with these services. After all, they can only guarantee exposure not sales. Writers have been targeted by pop-up companies and services in mass this year. Authors are a consumer targeted group.

Then there are free books. Many authors boast, and rightfully so, about giving away 10,000 books on a KDP free day. It’s all for exposure and the cost (but no profit) of gaining exposure. And somehow, and this is just me, I feel like the adage: Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free? I know those readers too. Many only look for free books and will not BUY anything indie. Many readers download free books from unknowns and don’t read them (bless the ones that do AND leave reviews…they are few). One friend shows me her Kindle with hundreds of free downloads, but she admits to rarely reading them, and often erases them to free up memory to download new free books. I ask why she downloads them and she proudly says, “I really do have good intentions.”

baseball1Writers beware! You will pour your heart and soul into birthing characters, plot, and story line. Some writers have only a family following. Some have a very small dedicated following. The greater majority sell under twenty books. This is in no way meant to be a downer but an insight into a whole new world that will take your hope and dreams and make you work harder than you ever thought possible. Many writers give-up, because marketing can consume your day, which in turn means you aren’t writing, which causes a bit of writer depression. There is a vicious cycle that consumes even the brightest of eyes. Those that succeed do so by sticking with their talents: write, publish, market, repeat. As Tom Hanks said in a League of Their Own, “If it wasn’t hard everyone would do it. The hard is  what makes it great.”

The best advice I have come across to date to sell more books is: WRITE MORE BOOKS.

If you have any great advise for indie authors or have a service you’d like reviewed, leave a comment below.

Tania L Ramos RN BSN

Follow me on TWITTER and FACEBOOK or visit my WEBSITE

NaNoWriMo Hangover

This is the 2nd year of my participation in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I am pleased to report this is my nine-year-old daughter’s first participation in the Young Writer’s NaNoWriMo, and her 1st win. This year we have won together.

Thousands of writers, young and seasoned, participate in NaNoWriMo every November. The quest for adult writers is to hit 50,000 words in 30 days. 50,000 has been deemed the minimal number of words to consider a novel, as opposed to a novelette or a novella. Authors from across the globe do this one month marathon for many reason, and to each their own.

For myself, I’m one of those people who loves a good challenge, but put accolades to be won in front of my nose and the competitor in me grunts and growls all the way to the finish line. I love trinkets, little charms, even digital, that show my accomplishments. A trophy for starting. A trophy for hitting 10,000 words. A little digital sticker for writing a specified amount of days in a row. Yep, those are my motivators. I should’ve been a Girl Scout, I would’ve been awesome.

nano-2016-winner

50,000 words, although technically a novel, has never been enough words for me. I’m usually fetal and crying on the cutting room floor when an editor says 118,000 words is just too much. “B-b-b-but, they are my babies. I can’t just cut 10 to 18 thousand words!” Well, with that bit of information, my NaNoWriMo marathon is only the beginning. But after one month of prep, one month if strict writing and focus, an awful lot of inappropriate words, and sheer seclusion from anything other than fictional characters, I am spent.

Plain and simple, the marathon for two years in a row has turned into the death of two stories. I’m just not fit to go on for another 50,000 (at least) words. Oye vay. Yet, there are those finish liners, those gold medal winners who go on and push forward through to completion. I salute you, and think there should be a digital NaNoWriMo golden book sticker for those writers whom complete NaNoWriMo AND actually keep writing their book to completion. Maybe then I would finish a marathon book. I do love my accomplishment awards.

Am I the only writer out there that suffers NaNoWriMo hangover? I’d love to hear your comments.

Tania L Ramos RN BSN

Follow me on TWITTER & FACEBOOK or visit my WEBPAGE for more

Why Giveaway Your Talent?

Many authors, painters, and sculptors get asked this question: Why is it so much? Newbies, you will want to read this.

Coming from a very artistic family, my brother was often asked why his paintings cost so much? I have been asked to give books away for free.There are several ways to gauge a cost: How famous is the creator? How much time went into creating this work? How much were the materials to create this work?

The one people most commonly will understand is how much material went into the work. They are more apt to understand a higher cost of something if, say a sculpture, was made of copper. The one people don’t usually understand is the value of time.

Almost all people are paid by time;  by the hour. You put in 8 hours at work and you are paid for those 8 hours. Of course, the hourly wage will depend on the type of work. Let’s just say that any indie artist is paid minimum wage (in CA that’s $10). As an independent author, writing a novel may take me 300 hours (that’s being generous). In theory, I should make $3,000. But nobody is paying me. My income comes from sales of books.

On average, an independent author receives about $2.00 from the sale of a physical book and $1.75 from the sale of an e-book. Those prices fluctuate depending on how they went about publishing, so +-$1.00 in either direction.

Here’s the math:

At a $15 dollar book, making only $2.00 royalty per book, I need to sell 1,500 books to earn minimum wage for my 300 hours. the average indie author sells 10 books. It’s a labor of love.

Here’s some more math:

I pay an editor $1500 to edit my book. I pay $100 to buy an ISBN for my book to be sold. I pay $500-$1500 to have someone professionally format that book. Then, I either publish on my own (Amazon) or go through a vanity press, in which you can tack on another $1,000 to $5,000 dollars. So recoup those costs, I’ve got to sell another 3,ooo+ books.

But wait! There’s more.

A book lost in cyberspace is just that: Lost. Now I’ve got to let people know this book is alive. As an independent author, I’ve got a few devote friends and family, a loyal stalker or two, but no huge fan base that jumps for joy whenever a new book comes out. So I have to start marketing. My latest Facebook ad cost $38.83 to reach 2,300 people total. But that’s just reach. I need clicks. I need purchases!! Of those 2,300 reach 171 clicked through to see what I’m selling and about 7 downloaded the e-book. I spent $38.83 for 7 sales and made about $10.

The question again: why does a book, painting, piece of art cost so much? Why can’t you float me a book for free?

Because it cost more than I may ever recoup and nothing is ever really free. Even if I gave the book for free, it actually cost me my soul. See below for my October royalties. In total there were 9 books or e-books sold (ignore the 19 I had an author order of 10 books in there). Total gross sales were $68.83 and royalties paid to me were $15.40. I made about a quarter of the gross or $1.71 average per book. Who else would work for that?

october-royalties

 

So why do it? I get asked that quite a bit. Why? Because writing is in my soul. This is what brings me comfort and peace. And if i could write for a living, I would absolutely do it. Once a year, maybe twice, I’ll get a great review, or someone who says that my story touched them or made them think. One person said she picked up the phone and called her father after ten years of being estranged from him, after reading my book Be Still. Yeah. That’s why. Happy reading and happy writing.

Follow me at Facebook and Twitter. For more information on my books visit the author webpage HERE

Tania L Ramos RN BSN

Ghost

As I walk this shadow side by side
A recollection of a friend of mine
Memories hung in light of dreams
Shadows are nightmares too, it seems

As I walk this shadow walk away
Never a shadow is here to stay
Voices hinge on secrets passed
Never shadows could ever last

As I walk this shadow to the ending light
The ghost beside me dies to night
A weary hand beside the moon
The walking shadow gone too soon

As I walk this shadow to no sound
The ghost of you looses ground
A ghostly shadow next to me
Your never shadow should will never be