Developmental Editor Speaks on Traditional Publishing

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Developmental editor Susan Mary Malone speaks on the Constant Changes of the Literary Field, covering both bright and dark sides of the changing landscape of literature.

Malone calls our attention to one aspect of the publication process that is often “neglected” — the writing itself. Authors often leave their manuscript to be taken care of by the agent/editor once it’s “done”. And indeed it is a traditional publisher’s responsiblity to oversee the entire publishing process, except for one thing: the writing is never done. While authors in traditional publishing have to wait anxiously for months before they can move on to the next step, Malone suggests that they should take the time to “focus on the book” by joining critique groups, working with an editor, and writing some more, perhaps not for adding to the quantity but reflecting on the quality of your previous drafts. She makes a final comment by saying:

“the publishing world is changing… it’s important we know what those changes are and what does it mean for authors. How will these changes affect my chances of publication?”

There’s no need to rush when it comes to publishing. And if I have learned anything from the discussions that I have with fellow authors/publishers since this site was launched, here are two things: (1) books doesn’t just sell themselves; the quality of writing should always be your priority thing, particularly if you intend to self-publish, and (2) don’t panic over “knowing nothing about publishing” as it is not going to help you get published. No one is born with a knowledge of the ins-and-outs of publishing, but it’s never to late to start learning, especially when it is so essential to the authors, because not only will it protect your rights, but it may also help you succeed in the highly competitive literary world.

Image Credit: Susan Mary Malone

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Kindle Self-Publishing Tips: Making Your Book More “Visible”

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Brian G. Johnson, author of Azon Bestseller, shares Kindle self-publishing tips and advice that will allow you to drive more traffic and thus make more sales. Talking from his experience as an “Internet Marketer”, Johnson elaborates on how to make your books more “visible” amid the ocean of books on Google and Amazon by explaining how the search engine works.

Please also be aware that some form of self-promotion of the speaker’s book is involved in this short video. While I have no intention at all to promote Johnson’s book per se, producing a tutorial video does seem to be a great marketing idea for self-publishing authors, especially if you are a Youtube savvy.

Video Credit: Brian G. Johnson

Publishing Facts: Featuring US & UK Publishing Industries

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Pete Klein writes about some Publishing Facts which features the U.S. publishing industry in 2014. He provides statistics about books being published and sold, as well as information related to traditional publishing, Amazon publishing, and Print on Demand (POD) publishing

Creative Industries UK quotes from Publishers’ Association website and reports a series of informative facts and figures about UK publishing industry, which is said to be “highly productive”, “highly successful in overseas markets”, and innovative.

 

Image Credit: DomGreco.com 

 

Perks, Pitfalls, and Paradoxes of Amazon Publishing

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Nina Shapiro discusses how Amazon has created a new model of publishing, and how this new model will impact the authors. Her article The Perks, Pitfalls, and Paradoxes of Amazon Publishing sheds light on the much controversial change that Amazon has brought to the publishing industry in the past decade.

The article begins with the publishing endeavours of an author, Megan Chance, who was convinced that she had fallen into the “vicious cycle common to the publishing world”. Having signed up with Amazon Publishing, Chance witnessed the Amazon team utilising all their online resources and making her latest book a great sale. But all success comes at a cost, and for Chance, it involves not seeing her books in stores, “sacrificing prestige in the traditional, New York­-based literary world”, and some recognition in the rest of the world, because Amazon’s publishing model is “almost entirely self-contained.” The model that Amazon Publishing created has not won the reputation that it aspired in more than a few ways, but it has proved “surprisingly profitable” for authors who seek self-publishing as an alternative to traditional publishing houses.

However, Shapiro points out that some authors realise the model is not working for them; “… the hurdles to success, especially in the self-publishing market, are getting harder by the day.” Stories of a few more authors with Amazon experience were discussed. With some part of the publishing world starting to call Amazon “monopoly”, some author organisations are even preparing to take it to court while others grow a more supporting voice.

Shapiro describes Amazon Publishing — and what it will achieve — as an unfolding tale. The division now seeks opportunities in not only self-publishing, but also “republishing out-of-print books”, and introducing foreign language books into the English literary world (via translations imprint Amazon Crossing). As Amazon Publishing declares more competition with major publishers, many wonder if “gold rush is over.” As  Bob Mayer, a publishing practitioner and writer, points out: “It’s the best time ever to be an author since there are so many options. But it’s as hard as ever to succeed long term.”

Image Credit: Morgen Schuler for Seattle Weekly 

The Life Cycle of A Book

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This picture illustrates the (traditional?) publishing process, which involves four major parties and twelve steps. If authors take the self-publishing approach, some steps (e.g. Agent) might be optional; if only e-book version is produced (whether on the author’s own website or under contract with publishing platforms like Amazon), then details of the Distribution step will also alter. In addition, the “Print on Demand” (POD) model is bound to have a great impact on the distribution process.

I personally think that these days it will be necessary to draw a direct link between “Writer” and “Book Buyer”/”Reader”. With online platforms like Goodreads, Amazon, and various blogging sites, writers and readers now can easily engage with each other in the life cycle of a book. Wouldn’t it be a great way to promote book sales if reading becomes more interactive?

Image Credict: International Book Promotion

Ursula K. Le Guin’s Challenge

Ursula K. Le Guin accepts the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters at the 65th National Book Awards on November 19, 2014.”

This video went virus within the online author/publisher community when it was first released. Now a discussion in retrospect, we can refresh our memories of how Le Guin informs us once again the “dangers to literature” and schools us on creative freedom. While our community need people who know the difference between “the production of a market commodity and the practice of an art”, we should also bear in mind that books, whose profit motive often conflicts with the purpose of art, “are not just commodities.”

At the end of the speech Le Guin says, “But the name of our beautiful reward is not profit. Its name is freedom.” Spirits of the writing and publishing community — a belief in resistance and change in “the art of words” — shall stay alive.  That’s really all we need to hear.

Video Credit: National Book

Source Credit: Write Through It, The New Yorker

E-Book Market Review: Guide to 2015

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Anita Lovett gives an overview of the e-Book market in 2014 and prepares a guide for the new year. The literary market share of e-books continues to grow, and Forbes reports that e-books “have dominated 30 percent of 2014 book sales”. E-book sales have expanded to more than 45 times larger in the past five years, with people’s willingness to buy e-books “on the rise”. Lovett then highlights 5 major details that authors and publishers should pay attention to, in order to succeed in the e-book market in 2015: book cover design, book description, book reviews, genre identification, and extensive revision and editing.

In addition, Darrick Dean holds a discussion about whether Book Price Wars will be the “publishing battleground” in 2015. Some are concerned with the situation where traditional publishers will lower prices in their competition with indie authors. However, Dean argues that first of all, “there is always competition” regarding book pricing; the key is to connect with audiences “with a strong, quality product.” With traditionally published books going cheaper, the authors earn a lower profit, which is why indie authors still have some advantages. He ends the discussion with a particularly thought-provoking sentence: “There’s room for all publishing models, but we are seeing a settling of which is good for whom.”

Image Credit: Anita Lovett & Associates

Changing Role of Literary Agents

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In the article Literary Agents: heroes no more?Bonie Santos introduces John Saddler’s class about the role of literary agents, and how this role has changed over the course of publishing history. She lists six major responsibilities of a literary agent, including bridging between authors and publishers, advising authors, and handling issues related to marketing and rights.

Various roles were introduced into the publishing chain from the early 17th century to the late 19th century, as illustrated in the picture above. Today, the necessity of literary agencies are challenged by the emerging e-book market, which makes their role less profitable, and by the digital technology that allows authors to directly reach their readers through self-promoting on social media. There have been concerns about the loss of status of literary agent, which may potentially put authors in disadvantage during negotiation with publishers; Jason Allen Ashlock urges fellow literary agents to “retain their heroic role, which is to protect authors”. However, this concern seems much less relevant if the authors take an alternative approach — self-publishing. I believe that in digital era, where there is challenge, there is opportunity, as indicated in the Chinese phrase for “challenge” (危機/危机, wei1 ji1). As for literary agents, they may wish to seek a brighter future in honing on their consultancy and networking services rather than simply acting as a representative during the author/publisher negotiation.

Image Credit: Kingston Publishing/MA Publishing team at Kingston University

Transformation of Academic Publishing in the Digital Era

Dr. Frances Pinter talks about the ways in which “academic publishing needs to transform itself to respond to the opportunities and challenges of the digital age” in a one-hour seminar at the University of Oxford.

Video Credit: The Oxford Internet Institute

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose / The more things change, the more they stay the same

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