Tag Archives: publishing

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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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

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

Presenting in DC

Last week I was excited to be given the opportunity to attend and speak at the National Council for Literacy convention in Washington DC. This came very last minute, down to the days, but I made it. For those who don’t know, DC is clear across the country for me. Thanks to Frontier airlines, I made the trip for $244 round trip, which meant I could drag my son along. Perk!

I spoke on Saturday at the convention to a small group from Vermont;  they were wonderful, friendly, and quite receptive. I then had the privilege to hear another group speak. It was fascinating to hear about so many literacy programs in the k-12 circuit. All-in-all, I was honored to be there to represent the High Desert Chapter of the California Writer’s Club DCB Memoir Project.

111The Dorothy C Blakely Memoir Project challenges seniors at a local high school to take on the task of picking a senior citizens, conducting interviews, and writing their memoir. They are given a once monthly class, put on by the HDCWC, to teach interviewing skills, point of view, and creating a memoir among other things. The memoirs are critiqued over the course of the program, until the final draft is turned in. They are then edited, and selected for publication. Not all memoirs are published. The HDCWC then takes the selected memoirs and  creates a cover, creates a template, and finally creates an anthology of the memoirs. The seniors graduate as published authors. In 2014, this project was recognized by the National Council for Literacy, and was presented as a literacy project in Washington DC…which I presented at.

This is a wonderful program, and I’m grateful to be a part of it. I love teaching.

Fun fact: Most the students who participate are NOT aspiring authors.

Tania L Ramos, RN

www.HDCWC.com for more info   To see last year’s memoir: AMAZON

 

Character Constipation

While I’m waiting to hear back from my book critique, I’ve been quietly working on another story. Reality is, there is a baker’s dozen of story line’s rattling around in my head. Is there such a thing as character constipation? Maybe I can coin the term. Yes, it is hash tag worthy. #CharacterConstipation

Tania L Ramos, RN and author

About Me

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

A Writer’s Missing Link

Man is in constant search of the missing link! Okay, not necessarily the “missing link,” but that one thing that bridges the gap between point A and point B. In my last post, I wrote that if you wanted to sell a million books, then write a million books and sell each one once. It was sarcastic, yes, BUT the point was that you have to think outside the box.

In my last post [An Empire of Books], I also said that you have to be prepared to become a marketer and publicist. This is true no matter what avenue your business is: writer, home-based business, even a non-profit organization. You may have the best to offer, be the nicest person, or wrote the book that will change the world, but if nobody knows then . . . nobody knows.

Case and point: In 2012 my book, Be Still was published and I became a marketing and advertising fool! I hit every media and outlet and sold lots and lots of books. My efforts continued into the first part of 2013 and I, of course, continued to see sales. Then I stopped. It was exhausting and I needed a break, and wanted to write. The results: one book sold in the third quarter.

Dilemma: I am flat broke! The economy is a bust. I no longer have droves of cash to toss into publicity, book shows, or buying ads. All my numbers were stagnant during my period of absence. My name was no longer out there and I was just another writer under the tag of One Hit Wonder. You see, when you fall off the planet as a new writer, so does your name.

Fix: Since I haven’t been at work, I decided to market and chat up my books again. I can’t always tell sales numbers until the quarter ends, but I can see numbers of hits to my YouTube trailer and book When I Thought I Was Tough. I used those numbers to gauge the results of using free social media. Keep in mind, my numbers had been the same for all of November and December 2013.

                         Before Social Media                   After 2 Days of Social Media

Book Trailer:        1,376                                            1,405
“Tough”Reads:    10,965                                         10,997
“Tough” Likes:     339                                              345
Blog Follows:        224                                              231

You be the judge. I worked day and night to post to Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, LinkedIn, and this blog. I wanted to see how much of social media caused a real effect on the numbers. Granted, number of views & likes do not equate to sales. However, it does equate to how many times somebody saw your name, your product, or service. I put in fulltime hours to boost those views, but I think it proves to show that you have to actually put in the work.

Is social media the missing link? Not at all. Hard work is. Go get your audience.

Tania L Ramos, RN and Author Who Found the Missing Link