Tag Archives: indie author

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
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Starring in Her 1st Professional Interview

Back in January I wrote that someone from Iuniverse contacted me about doing an interview. They said I did a lot of social media work, really worked up the book, and made myself known across different platforms. Well, that’s what us indie’s do, right? Of course I agreed to do the interview. How amazing is that? In the world of indie authors, that’s a pretty stinkin’ big deal.

A month or so later, I did the interview. It was all very nicely done, and the interviewer was a real sweetheart. Once it was wrapped up there was nothing to do but wait. And wait. And wait. Okay, just so you all know–and maybe it’s just me–but when I have to wait for something more than a minute, I assume something is wrong.

OH MY GOD!!! The interview sucked! I sucked! I looked hideous and they just couldn’t put that for people to see. I sounded dumb, or made no sense. They decided nobody wanted to hear my story. The lighting was wrong. Did I have a huge zit on my nose? Did I just mortify them to the point that my interview was laying on some editing room floor?

Eventually, I simply repressed the memory of any interview ever happening. Yet, a piece of my soul was shattered (cue dramatic clutching of the chest). Then, Sunday night, I was searching the pages of Iuniverse to find some info, and when I landed on one page I saw a video clip and thought, “Hmm, that girl looks like me.” The name was wrong (Tonia Ramon), it was close but oh so very not me. I took a closer look and yelped. It was me. What I found was that they didn’t just make one video about using Iuniverse, but turned it into two videos with the other about the importance of editing. Worry? Who me? Pshhhhaw. I knew it would be awesome.

So, please watch my videos; show some love and support, leave a comment on YouTube and let Iuniverse know that I’m kind of a big deal. 😀 Thank you all.

Tania L Ramos, RN and Author with 3 Minutes of Fame

Be Still by Tania L Ramos available on ebooks, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon
Life by Chance coming this holiday season

The Small Press

I was having a discussion with my publicist today, who also happens to be my best-friend, so we talk a lot.  We also argue a lot.  Or is it having a heated debate? Sometimes, we talk just to argue and prove our points and agree to disagree over Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Therapy ice cream. The topic of discussion today was publishing, and how I would go about it with my next book.

libraryI stated how unimpressed I was with the royalties I receive from Iuniverse.  Don’t get me wrong, they are exactly what I expected them to be, but it would be nice to see a bit more profit, considering how much is spent on a package.  Now, I do love that they do all the footwork and my book is available on every e-reader and in print form in soft and hardcover.  That is a big plus.  This leaves me time to write more.

He asked about small presses, as we thought of creating our own, but I have hit so many walls in trying to figure out where to even begin. I wasn’t really looking to start a small press for outside business, just one to set-up for my books, “TLR Press,” or something more spectacular.  But it seems like so much work on my end, so I looked into small press publishers, which seem to be so abundant in this day and age.

I spoke with two authors who went through small publishing presses and had two very different opinions. One stated she lost all rights to her book and the press had so many restrictions on what she could and couldn’t do, and the royalties were just  pennies more than what I was getting.  The second author loved the small press, but also stated she was only making a marginal increase in profit than I was.  They both clearly stated they were still in charge of all marketing, advertising, and publicity on their own ends.

I’m sure this book of mine will be done by end of February or early March.  The thoughts of which route to go are starting to edge their way into my head and this time I am at a loss. I can’t afford the assisted publishing route again, but will hold off on publishing to buy a package if this turns out to be the best avenue for me.

My question today is this: Total self-publishing, assisted publishing, or small press? If you have any links to blogs or articles please post them here. Or, if you have insights of your own, or stories to tell, let me know in the comments.

Tania L Ramos

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Calling All Free Press

I now have three months of marketing under my belt, I think that officially moves me from laymen to novice.  Whatever the terminology is there are a few things I have learned along the way–yes some of this may be repetitive.  Free press is good press, even when it is sample press.  Think about it; when people are giving things away free do you usually try it? Whether you liked it or not many people do not scoff at swag.  Case and point: weekends at Costco for free sample day.  Can you really pass on a free sample of smoked honey bacon? Me either. And I also don’t pass on free memberships, free trials, and free press.

Now I’m not claiming to be some professional publicist or marketer, as stated before I am a novice.  However, i have tried almost every offer that has come my way.  If it doesn’t work then I’ve lost nothing but time, but odds are a handful of people were exposed to my book in that time.  Today I am going to talk about free press releases, so if you’ve considered hiring an agent to do this for you, hold your credit card for a minute and read this:

I have run the gambit of free press release sites and sites that charge.  Is there a difference? Of course.  Sometimes you do get what you pay for.  Free press release sites often have upgrades, but if you are as broke as I am then contributing monetary funds back into a dwindling deficit (I live in the states) isn’t an option I can readily afford.  If it is between paying a mortgage or buying a lofty press release package then I choose PR package, however as a responsible parent and sole provider of my family I must think in terms of meeting in the middle. Since Wells Fargo will not give me free occupancy I must settle for free press release.  I have thus far used four different free agencies, the one I like best is PR Log–as far as free sites go.  Granted there are hundreds of them, but you really have to research it all out.

Some sites do not let you enter links, pictures, or video without purchasing a package.  Other sites allow one of these features at the starving moocher level, and charge to upgrade from there.  I have found PR Log to allow all three even on their free service.  Disadvantages? Well, you have to write your own press release complete with snazzy caption to captivate the attention of the masses.  Is that easy? No way, but if you don’t get the results you want then you try again–FREE.  Another great perk that many free services do not offer is stats.  PR Log allows you to see the stats on your press release, this way you can see through trial and error what works best.

What I have noted is that having a catchy headline that pertains to something pertinent in the news or media is best.  Find a way to tie in your caption to the news. For father’s day my caption entailed my book being a great story about a father-son relationship. For Independence Day, my caption spoke of how the men in my story were always at battle.  My last caption spoke of Lou Gehrig’s disease in order to try and catch a new type of audience.  I have six releases out in all through PR Log and found that the ones sticking with the times and the one specific to a cause had the greatest amount and quickest views.

Does that help my sales? Not really, but that is hard to say since I can only check sales through Amazon.  I have not seen a huge spike in sales through Amazon after the press release, that doesn’t mean the book is not being purchased through Barnes & Noble, Chapters, Nook, or Ibookstore.  What I do see is a spike to my book website and personal website along with new hits to my book trailer.  I have tested this by not doing any other pr work the day before or after sending out a release, and “the survey says;” the spikes come within 48 hours of a press release.  Awesome.

Here is why I suggest a free release over a paid release if you are on a budget: paying for a service does not and can not guarantee sales.  If you write a crappy press release and pay $350 for it, its just a crap shot release that will not receive hits…but you paid for it.  And usually your $350 is good for ONE press release only. So unless you have the most amazing caption and press body then all the money in the world will not get you noticed.  Try using some free press sites first and see what caption, keywords seem to work best. Then if you really have to pay for a top notch release at least you will have some science behind you.

Also, many paid releases go to more agencies: bigger, better agencies.  But I still say without a great caption it just doesn’t matter.  If you are on a budget do not break the bank to get one press release out.  And if you feel the absolute need to do it, then wait for optimum timing. Wait for that perfect peak time when Venus aligns with the moon and the world is talking about Zombie Democrats and your book happens to be about zombie democrats.  Then all you have to do is capitalize on what is already selling itself.  Timing is everything.

So have I tried a paid site? As a matter of fact I have–in the name of literary-moneyless-indie author science. I purchased a medium sized package that wouldn’t break me or my family, which offered one week of releases: one free standard release a day as well as two premium releases in a week.  The premium releases allowed more links, one picture, and one video and was sent to more agencies than the standard release.  I did not do any free releases that week, and did the premium ones on a Sunday and then the following Friday to compare them with the stats of free press releases.

Drum roll……..

No difference at all. Same amount of video and website hits as free releases and again no spikes on Amazon.  In all fairness I can not say that some sites are better or worse than others. I did not try PRweb which is supposed to be the pinnacle of paid pr sites, but I also can not afford to take a risk anymore.  Free is just as good as paid, but I suspect if you wrote one truly astonishing release then maybe purchasing a bigger package and hitting a wider audience would be wise. My end statement is this: there is free out there.  It might not equal an immediate sale but it equals views and exposure and free exposure is as good as paid exposure.  In your arsenal of publicity and marketing should be a press release at least once a month if not twice a month.  Can you afford to pass up free?

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Tania L Ramos is the author of When I Thought I Was Tough and Be Still. http://www.amazon.com/Be-Still-Tania-L-Ramos/dp/1475913494/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1338647151&sr=8-1

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Blog Tour Day 2 with Nerdy Book Review

Link to my interview by WordPress’ Nerdy Book review blogger: Author Interview: Tania L. Ramos.

Day two, hip hip hooray! Today I come to you from beautiful and scorching hot Las Vegas, NV where it is my oldest son’s 18th birthday. We will be bringing in adulthood by paying for him to jump over 100 stories from the landmark Stratosphere Hotel.  He may be pushed but I’ll never tell.

So day two is in full effect at Nerdy Book Reviews.  I met Liv via WordPress and have read many of her book reviews…even the steamy ones that make me blush.  She has had very honest reviews of books and was the only true book reviewer that I asked to join my tour.  I asked for an honest opinion as I have of everyone.  Unfortunately, she is a very popular gal and was unable to read the book in such short notice so she proposed an interview with a review at a later time and date.  I will post the review when she writes it, but for now enjoy a small question and answer session and be sure to read some of her reviews.

Thanks to Liv for joining me on my tour.  Be sure to click her link to read the interview and be eligible for a giveaway.

Tania L Ramos

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