Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Show Me the Business Model


This morning I was awakened by a phone call. Richard Robertson, publishing consultant for Westbow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson Publishing was on the other end of the phone and he wanted to talk to me.

     This is the same Thomas Nelson Publishing founded in 1798 in Edinburgh, Scotland and began in a building located at 7 West Bow Street, publishing early editions of many top fiction titles, including Pilgrim's Progress and Robinson Crusoe and later releasing books by such authors as Jane Austen, Charles Dickens and Arthur Conan Doyle. 

     Needless to say I was unprepared for this call. As I shook the cobwebs from my head (I hadn’t had my coffee yet and I’ve been feeling ill recently) and listened to Richard’s voice in my ear, I began to understand his reason for calling me. At the mention of the Thomas Nelson Name, I began paying attention. I also realized I had added my contact information, only the night before to their website, indicating I was contemplating the idea of self-publishing my novel.

     After hearing that agents and publishing houses take months and years to reply to query letters, if they even ever bothered to, I was surprised by his quick response a mere 8 hours later. Like quite a number of publishers these days, struggling to stay afloat in the changing world of publishing, Thomas Nelson has created their own self-publishing division – Westbow Press, named after their original Scotland street address.

     Richard spoke at some length about the advantages of Westbow Press and their affiliation (of course) with their famous parent company. We had a very pleasant conversation wherein he informed me of the many famous authors (Steven King and John Grisham included) that began charting their course to success via the self-publishing model. He also forwarded several e-mails detailing their services and company information.

     While he spoke I was reminded that there are two very distinct business models regarding publishing. One model (traditional) has always made its money from READERS. Readers pay their twenty bucks for a tangible product – a book and an intangible product – a reading experience. They’ll either like a book or they won’t. Either way, they’re only out their $20.
     But self-publishing is a much different model. It is designed to make money from WRITERS. It is no longer about a mere $20. And it’s no longer about simply purchasing a product, knowing you might like it or you might not. Instead it’s about a writer’s lifetime of hopes and dreams. It’s about expectations that are often unrealistic. And it’s about laying down anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars for a product.  Not much different from selling me a computer to write my novel with.

     To me the difference between these two is HUGE. If the publisher has already made their money (from you following their model) why would they be motivated to expend more energy (to market your book - think time and money here) to sell more copies of your book?

     I can certainly see how a self-published book that does well in today’s world can help market you (as the author) to a traditional publishing house. Proving your worth as a viable and proven author with a built in platform (read audience base).

     I intend to pursue the traditional publishing model at this point in time and I believe that this distinction between the two models is important to grasp. I may change my mind about this, but if I do I will go into the arrangement knowing full well that my publisher will only be motivated to sell copies of my book if that’s how they make money.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Writing Real Dialogue

While continually working on my own manuscript and edits I have tried to be a voracious reader of other works. The idea being that the more often and varied my exposure to well written work, the better my own writing will become.

One of the things that I am noticing in reading from the stack of books by my bed and from dialogue contained in the variety of movies I watch is the importance of what I call “un-answered” dialogue. When real people talk, questions go un-answered. They answer questions with questions or even ignore them altogether. The best authors can thinly thread these INCOMPLETE conversations together so that the motivation of each evasive speaker remains apparent to the reader, even if undisclosed to other characters in the story.

Such dialogue scripting can reveal a great deal about the characters themselves, the status and depth of the relationship of those speaking, the importance each places on the subject matter and it also helps to create a backdrop to the drama being told. As readers, reason tells us that these characters must have cause or motivation for being evasive and avoiding disclosure.

An element of mystery creeps in through a backdoor and helps to sink that all important ‘hook’ that we authors desire to set with each and every paragraph, page, chapter and work, as we ratchet the tension and keep our readers turning to the next page. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Stuck in the Middle with You

Yeah, I know...It's a dog in a tree. That's me...DOG....Stuck in a tree! That's how I feel right now. I've got a fair amount of work, that I'm already aware of, to get my book polished up, edited and ready for submission to agents and publishers and yet I'm waiting for still more input from my readers. 

Bless their hearts, each one of them. They are doing me a great service and I love them for it, but it is difficult waiting, wondering what they are thinking. Is is a chore for them to read? Do they enjoy reading what I've created? 

Time will tell...if my "A Sacrifice of Time" worth the Time and effort.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Comments from my Beta readers are trickling in slowly, but I am encouraged with what I am hearing back from them. Most people are enjoying what I have written. This process is curiously similar to raising a child. Note: I said "raising" and not "giving birth".  

So much time and effort has been spent creating the setting, The sleepy enclave of Bayside, it's characters and then weaving a tale of intrigue. This "baby" still needs some work, but it is out there now for the eyes of others to judge in a raw form. Granted it's exposure is on a very small scale, but isn't that what you're supposed to do with a new born? 

I have discovered it is difficult waiting to hear from my readers. Do other authors struggle with this too?