Puddletown Publishing Group

Archive for March, 2011|Monthly archive page

68 Days and Still Counting

In Susan LS on March 11, 2011 at 2:34 am

As of today, Puddletown Publishing Group has been around for a little over two months. We’ve gone through the usual organizational challenges: form, storm, norm, reform. I’d say we’re into our second pass through the cycle.

But as we continue to find ourselves as a publishing house, we are also working like little maniacs. And it shows. On March 20th, just 10 days from today, we hold our first launch party. Four authors will be published that day, and hopefully three more that we’ve signed will join them in reading from published or soon-to-be published works.

I even bought something new to wear. After years of working in my home office, in jeans, sweatshirts, and slippers, I realized that I have to look professional. Hint: It’s red.

We’ve learned a lot in the last two months. Renee and I make a good team, we have complimentary skills, and we are only two women. We’ve learned that we need to let other folks carry part of the burden. I originally envisioned that I would know all parts of the business. But I don’t have time. Between reading, editing, and handling social marketing, I now realize that I can’t go without sleep. So we’ve got someone on board doing our e-book formatting and other stray tasks that need doing. We have graphic artists on the job. Someone is reading books for us and making acquisition decisions. And we’ll probably soon need someone to help with marketing.

As I said, we’re only two people.

But, in less than two weeks, we’re having a party. All of our authors will read, I’ll give a little speech, and there will be chocolate. If you want to know why, come to the party. (I will explain later since I know not everyone can come.) But here’s the details if you can:

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E-Books? So What’s In Them for the Authors?

In Susan LS on March 3, 2011 at 8:07 am

Well, lots. Now, remember from last post, I’m not talking about self-publishing. I’m not dissing it, I just think that the writing community has to build credibility for e-books by making sure that only quality e-books get published. If you can do that yourself, great. If not, maybe you should look for some help. But first, why would you want to e-publish your book?

Let me give you numerous reasons why you may want to rethink traditional publishing:

  1. Traditional publishing has controlled the gate for too long. Very few new authors get published, and if they do, very few earn out their advances.
  2. Even if you get an advance, chances are it will be miniscule. And it can be years before you see the first royalty check. If your book doesn’t get remaindered first.
  3. It takes a long time to find an agent, more time to make the rounds. If you’re lucky enough to get a contract, you’ve got a long wait until your book gets published.
  4. Then you may get 5 or 6 percent as your royalty.
  5. Unless you’re a best-seller, your book will only stay in stores about three months.
  6. Unless you are the next J.K. Rowling, you’ll still have to do most, if not all, of your own marketing.
  7. Publishers used to be in the business of selling books to readers. Now they are in the business of selling books to bookstores. And even the mighty Powell’s, with numerous floors covering a full city block, admits that they’re making their money on tchotchkes rather than books.
  8. With fewer bookstores, and more space going to cards, journals, games, toys, and other non-book items in the ones that remain, your chances of getting on the shelves, or staying there for any length of time, are getting slimmer and slimmer.

Now, a new model of e-publishing:

  1. E-books are the wave of the future. Even kids are getting in on the ride, and parents and teachers support this. Kids love gadgets. If it takes a gadget to get them to read, why not?
  2. Indie e-books are inexpensive. Since our overhead is low, we pass that on to the reader. While the Big Six have set roughly $9.99 as their low price, so as not to compete too much with their much more expensive trade paper version, indie e-book publishers can set their prices much lower and still make money. When we launch in March, our books in our initial catalog will all cost $4.99 or less. That’s one grande latte. People are more likely to buy a book for $5 than one at $10. And more likely to take a chance on a new author.
  3. Indie publishing royalties are higher. If you grant e-book rights to the Big Six, you’ll get 17.5 percent and your agent gets a cut. If you grant them to us, or folks like us, you’ll get a lot more. And here at Puddletown, our royalties go up with sales.
  4. You’ll never get remaindered. If your book doesn’t sell a kazillion copies the first month, nobody’s going to ship it back to be recycled. It will stay for sale as long as you want.
  5. E-books have an indefinite shelf life. Once it’s out there, it stays out there.
  6. Authors start making money sooner.  It takes us less than two months to get a book to market. Compare that to the year or more it takes traditional dead-tree publishing.
  7. If you don’t want to give up the dream, you don’t have to. Puddletown, at least, buys e-rights and POD rights only.  We’ll even give up POD rights if an author wants.
  8. We don’t lock you into an exclusive contract. Our contract is for one book, for two years. If you want to try your luck elsewhere, we’ll part friends.
  9. We know the importance of social networking to book sales, and we’ll not only help you set up your own campaign, we’ll do one for you off our platform. We have no front-, mid-, or back-list. Every book gets the same treatment. We realize that if you aren’t making sales, we’re not making money.
  10. E-book publishing is author-centric. We are in the business of making sure we all make money. Since our overhead is small and our time-frame is fast, we don’t have to wonder what’s going to be hot two years from now. Vampires hot right now? We can have that book out in a few weeks.  Alien swamp monsters the next big thing? We have an app for that.
  11. The Big Six can only see the BIG books, the ones with generic appeal. Editors are regularly overruled by marketing departments. If you’re quirky, or a bit odd, your book will probably never get sold traditionally.
  12. I write lesbian mysteries with a blind protagonist. My books will be marketed to the LGBT community and the blind community. The cool thing? For only a very small investment, we’ll be able to produce books that can easily be converted for use on Braille readers and computers. And we’ll also produce a recording. How many new authors get an audiobook right out of the box?
  13. I could go on and on. But the real hurdle we have to jump is the idea that an e-book is somehow not a real book and that being e-published is just not the same. Let me disabuse you of this right now.
  14. Yes, there are vanity presses posing as e-publishers. They want your money up front. Avoid these like the gimmick they are. Puddletown, and others like us, use the same system traditional publishers use. Even my book was sent anonymously to a reader who has never met me and never heard of me. She had to approve before I went any further. (She doesn’t like one of my books…I’m going to have to do some serious rewriting if I want that one published, even by my own company.)
  15. Once we accept a book, we do substantive edits, copy edits, send it back for rewrites, and edit some more. Our reputation is on the line as well as our authors’. We won’t publish dreck.  And, did you notice, we still didn’t ask for any money?
  16. We also pay for your cover  and all the other aspects of design, including POD formatting if you want some print copies for your mother and the other Luddites in your life. The only cost you have to pay is for your copyright. $37. Because you want to own your own book, don’t you? And you don’t pay that to us. It goes to the government.
  17. BTW, did you notice this? Some publishers are trying to buy all your rights, including  your copyright, for exclusive rights to your sequels. That means they own your book AND your characters.
  18. All we ask of our authors is that they participate in their own self-marketing, which we help them set up. They don’t have to, but that’s their loss. We don’t know their social networks and connections. If they choose not to use them, then they don’t make as many sales.
  19. Oh, and once we earn back our expenses, the royalties we pay start going up.

So do you want to spend years querying the Big Six, searching for an agent who may or may not do much to sell your book (and then takes 15 percent if it does sell), all for a measly 5 to 7 percent for a paperback or 17.5 percent for an e-book? Or do you want to publish within a short period of time and earn a whole lot more?

I consider Puddletown to be a hybrid publisher. We offer the same benefits as a traditional publisher: editing, design, marketing. We just do it faster and for the e-book and POD market.

Your choice. And the choice of the future.

P.S. We love bookstores and will be partnering with them to make sure they don’t fail. We are under no illusion that everyone will want to read books electronically. Which is why all our books have the POD option.

Why You Should Consider E-Books

In Susan LS on March 3, 2011 at 7:53 am

The dream of every writer has been to get published, and when we think publishing, we think traditional publishing with hardcover and trade paper, finally ending up in pocketbook at Safeway. But are you sure this is what you want?

Last year, Barnes&Noble and Amazon both saw the sale of e-books and e-readers overtake and surpass the sale of paper books. The mighty Powell’s, the largest indie bookstore in the country and possibly the world, just laid off 10 percent of its workforce and froze salaries and canceled 401k contributions for their remaining staff. They blame  e-books. Borders has fallen, or at least is struggling to get up.

I am fortunate to live near Powell’s, and it is my favorite place on earth. I’ve been going there since it opened. Which may give you some idea how old I am.

I was one who was never going to switch to e-books. I love the feel, smell, sound, sight of a book more than anything else. About the only thing I don’t like is that weird thing they do when dropped in the bathtub.

But as I approach 60, my body no longer likes books. In order for me to read, I have to take off my glasses, close one eye, squinch up the other, and hold the book about three inches from my face. I can only do this for about five minutes before it becomes tiring. I’ve tried all sorts of solutions, most involving my eye doctor, and finally had to admit that I couldn’t read anymore.

So I bought a NOOKcolor. I can now read anything available, and most of it is available. After several years of only reading on my computer (bumped up to 200 percent), I’ve read roughly four to five books a week since I got my NOOK. The NOOK is my first piece of adaptive technology and I suspect a hearing aid is not far behind.

But why should authors consider e-books? Well, there are several reasons, and I’ll put them in the next post. But first a disclaimer. I am not talking about self-publishing here. Not that I have anything against self-publishing, but most of the self-published books I’ve seen have serious flaws in writing, editing, structure, and just about everything else. Self-publishing, as it stands now, gives e-books a bad name.

Yes, some people, like Amy Rose Davis, produce beautifully written, well-edited, engaging self-published e-books. But the vast majority are, IMHO, garbage. If people want to self-publish, go for it. But for Pete’s sake, hire an editor. A real one. Not your best friend. Do it for yourself and for your craft. Because, folks, I have to tell you: e-books are where it’s at.

More at 11.