John F. Harnish, Vice President Author Services
Some folks might think this is a trick question, sort of like which came first: the chicken or the egg. No writer wants to publish a book that goes splat like a broken egg as it hits the floor-never going anywhere except into the trash. Indeed there are a few writers who have invested many long months and even years in toiling to complete their manuscripts, only to chicken out and never submit their first effort at writing a book for publication. Such a waste it is to have invested so much time and effort in creating a relatively polished draft of a book that lingers incomplete in an endless state of unpublished limbo.
Dan Poynter, author of more than 125 books, is quick to explain to aspiring authors that all published books are always only 95% complete-there's always an elusive 5% of undoneness that haunts all authors. Even established authors with a long list of publishing credits have that nagging feeling to do a wee bit more tweaking of their written words or perhaps do yet another rewrite of the opening of chapter three. However, keep in mind the chaos factor: your changes to chapter three will flutter throughout the rest of the book and the ensuing storm is likely to plunge you into another complete rewrite of the entire manuscript. Yes, it's another dratful delay that will keep your book from being published and release for public consumption.
Late in the 1960s, I discovered freelancing magazine articles and stringing for newspaper wire-services could produce a rather lucrative revenue flow. For sure checks would be forthcoming when the assignment was completed prior to the deadline, within the required word count, and right on target with the assigned topic. Of course my always hungry agent would call to see how I was progressing. I didn't need her gentle nudging me along because I knew a check would soon be on the way because most of the terms of payment were upon acceptance of the piece and not the delaying terms of upon publication. I dare say there was only one time when my agent called to inform me that I had to do a rewrite. Ugh, I was less than thrilled being told I had to do a rewrite, but I was totally elated learning the rewrite was because the editor liked my article so much that they wanted me to expand the assigned piece to become a lead feature. Naturally for more money!!!
Now that's a rewrite with a purpose and a cash reward waiting at the completion of my efforts is an excellent incentive. My agent referred to me as her perfect word-smith because if the price was right I'd write on almost any topic. Indeed I shamelessly confess I wrote for the folding green, thusly, my agent would pass on assignments offering only a publishing credit-bylines don't put immediate cash in the bank account. However, with time permitting I'd write freely for the American Cancer Society, the Heart Association, Planned Parenthood, and various community betterment groups as my way of creating good karma by providing purposeful help from the donation of my talents.
Too many writers embark on doing a rewrite without a defined purpose in mind-except with the intent to polish their manuscript one more time, or maybe a friend read it and made the suggestion that you need to include more of this or perhaps less of that. Opinions are so subjective-another friend might remark you need less of this and more of that. Stop trying to write for the masses and focus on first reaching one reader with your wordsmithing skills. When your words resonate well with one unknown person, you're on your way to reaching a whole lot more folks with your creative efforts.
It would be easy for writers to avoid falling into the bottomless pit of overwriting and rewriting if manuscripts were like a Butterball turkey with one of those little thingies that pops out when the turkey is cooked just right. Sadly that's not the case. Thusly the writer needs to make the fateful determination that their book is as done as it can be and submit the book for publication. Serve up that turkey and feast on the juicy joys of your completed efforts as you banish once and for all any thoughts of doing another delaying rewrite.
After submitting your book for publication, I would strongly recommend paying a mere .019 cents per word for Infinity's copyediting service to provide the peace of mind that typos and grammar goofs have been professionally purged from your book. If you want more individualized help creating or completing your book, you might consider getting feedback from an experienced developmental editor offered in one of our advanced Book Genesis programs.
The proof books are specifically for you to read over to make certain the book is essentially just how you submitted it to Infinity Publishing a few weeks ago for publication. This is not the time to go changing this and that all around, such undertakings will only delay the publication and distribution of your book and you could incur additional expenses to facilitate making more needless changes. The odds are those changes aren't going to make a bit of a difference in the quality of the overall good read you are providing for your readers.
Give yourself the gift of closure with your book, pronounce it finished, you're at the end of the writing process, now get it published and out there so folks can buy your book and read your telling words.
First of all, this article validates much of the basic philosophy long held by Infinity Publishing which has always believed in the resilience of the nation’s independent bookstores and their ability to stay in business and go toe-to-toe with chain super-stores. The national chains are in bed enjoying sweetheart deals for deeply discounted bestsellers from major houses, whose intent of the super-discounts and making their famous authors available for book signings were clearly to out-price and upstage those nearby indies.
We have always stressed the importance of regional connections by encouraging our authors to schedule events in their local independent bookstores. The owners/managers know the value of community roots and the appeal of introducing a newly published author with books -- autographed for their customers. Niche market books have always sold well through indies, and Infinity offers a dazzling array of niche topics – fully returnable at a 40% discount is a good deal. Plus, we have authors in the store’s backyard poised to do readings.
It’s interesting to note that the chains and major houses who hooked up early on with POD publishing services haven’t done much that’s noticeable in support of the resulting books. Perhaps the universal fault in the business model was their impersonal approach with contracted and over-taxed authors.
By engaging in self-publishing through Infinity, the author retains all rights to the book and Infinity pays monthly royalties on every book sold – we earn our profit selling books to ever expanding niches and discount books to our authors who create and control the content.
The importance of increasing independent bookstore sales, coupled with expanding customer purchases of niche books from small presses and evolving publishers, demonstrates the ability of indies and small regional chains to thrive and profit under the giants’ shadow. They’re doing this by expanding their on-shelf selection of niche books, introducing new flavors of fiction, spreading out romance, and howling over a vast offering of how-to books. We live in fascinating times – and the happenings in our evolving branch of publishing are especially interesting. The content and course of the book in the market place is being returned to the control of the author to decide upon – and not the corporate bean-counters who have counted too long on formulated publishing to produce the over projected profit. Authors who know and care about the content, published by a cost-effective book publishing system, delivered to a customer-aware and author-friendly indie is a winning combination that’s producing increasing sales when the rest of the industry is rather flat.
-John F. Harnish
V.P. Spoken Books Publishing, Dave Giorgio, January 10, 2011:
Have you ever thought about self publishing your book? With the difficulty in finding an agent and a traditional publishing deal, it's become a more relevant question over time.
Book publishing has long been an industry controlled primarily by book publishers. These publishers have mostly taken books from agents they trust, evaluated them, and made a decision whether or not to go forward with that book.
That particular system was not flawless, but it had merits based on a degree of selectiveness applied to each book. After all, in that model, the publisher would be putting a lot of money behind the book and expect no less than a fair degree of sales in order to recoup its investment.
But things changed a decade or so ago. The Internet, digital publishing, and a bevy of new publishers came onto the scene allowing an author to publish a book without any of the traditional process.
Whether this is good or bad depends on your perspective. If you believe that there should be a gate-keeping process in place for books and authors, then you might find this to be a negative. If you value the freedom the new technology offers, then you'll see it as a positive.
But one thing remains clear: If you self publish your book, no one else will stop you from being either great or terrible. It is truly on the author to be as demanding of his or herself as necessary to create the best possible book. No one else is going to step in and tell you that your plot needs work, or the editing is flawed, or that your book is too long. These are all things you must decide for yourself.
It is for this reason that publishers in the "self publishing" industry have begun to offer editing services to authors. In fact, the company that I work for, Infinity Publishing, now has editing offerings that cover grammar and punctuation, as well as advanced editing processes that dig deep into the writing on a conceptual and structural level.
It's a wonderful time to be a writer, as the door has been opened for any author with a book in hand. In the movie “Spider Man”, the lead character, Peter Parker, is told by his dying uncle that ‘with great power comes great responsibility.” I think that's also marvelous advice for any of us pursing writing on a commercial level.
Director, Author Services, LinDee Rochelle, January 13, 2011:
Are you in a state of cerebral suspended animation? Hovering between the mind-numbing activity of the Holidays and any real motivation to begin work on your new book? Want a kick in the astral imagination to jump-start your New Year?
The news that isn’t news broke Tuesday—Earth’s shifting axis over the years should have caused reorganization of our astrological signs to accommodate. However, we humans simply plow our starry-eyed heads back into the sand and continue to believe—or not—in our 12-symbol Zodiac system, as is.
Before extremists ruin our fun and destroy thousands of years of predictions based on our Sun Signs, below are my purely pleasurable 2011 parlor-game predictions. Though tailored for each cosmic sign, feel free to wander through someone else’s horoscope and use what feels good!
L’s Annual Horoscopes for Authors
2011, Year of the Rabbit ~ in a word: Endurance
Capricorn (Dec. 22/Jan.19)–Shake off the leftover champagne bubbles, oh stubborn one! Though you have a reportedly dozen more years for your butterfly to emerge, rock that cocoon with new writing ideas: January is National Clean Up Your Computer Month; I’ll bet you have snippets of ideas floating around in there, ready for your muse to pounce on.
Aquarius (Jan. 20/Feb. 18)–This is an unusually clear year for you—use it wisely! Make your new-found clarity work for you and apply it to those seemingly crazy ideas you had last year. This year, they just might work! By July—Freedom from Fear of Speaking Month—you’ll be ready to tell the world about your new book.
Pisces (Feb. 19/Mar. 20)–Ah, the fish are restless, leaping in and out of the water. Settle down, dear Pisces, keep a steady hand on the wave and your writing will surpass anything you’ve previously published. April 10-16 is National Library Week; head over and nostalgically research the old fashioned way, and network with the librarians. Is there a speaking opportunity?
Aries (Mar. 21/Apr. 19)–The answer is blowin’ in the wind—the winds of change that is. Be prepared Girl & Boy Scouts! Remember, you create your future, and this is a good year for you to publish your musings and epiphanies of 2010. Start now and you could be prepared for November’s National Novel Writing Month—or even the Holiday buying season!
Taurus (Apr. 20/May 20)–Ah, 2011 is a powerful year for a powerful sign. Go forth dear Taurus and create! You haven’t had a truly new astrological adventure since 2000—it’s time. Stretch your writing imagination—February is Plant the Seeds of Greatness Month—open your mind to possibilities and publish with confidence that your story needs to be told.
Gemini (May 21/Jun. 20)–Hello double-trouble! Wonder what’s in store for your writing muse this double-one year? 2011 shall prove to be your most creative year in decades! It will be nose-to-the-grindstone, but you will be rewarded for your efforts. Think creatively with new ways to publish—June is Audio Book Appreciation Month—if you have one, market it—if you don’t, maybe it’s time!
Cancer (Jun. 21/Jul. 22)–My dear Crabby Cancer (just kidding!), your shell overflows with change. You’re at a turning point and it’s time to solidify your writing path. Weigh your options carefully with Libran concentration. Envision your future and make it happen, through your writing. If you haven’t considered converting your book to an e-Book, do it this year—and march it around the media pot o’ gold for March’s Read an E-Book Week (03/06-03/12)!
Leo (Jul. 23/Aug. 22)–Leo, Leo, Leo—can’t you think about anyone but yourself?! (Kidding!) Seriously, 2011 will find the kingly (or queenly) beast discontented and moody until your creative juices urge you to lead the way through the Emerald City’s field of flowers—somewhere around mid-May. A great time to take advantage of the May 8-14 Reading is Fun Week!
Virgo (Aug. 23/Sep. 22)–You’ve had a tough couple of years, Virgos, but put to use what you’ve learned since 2007. 2011 offers more stability (in your writing and life). Though you may share dreamy days with Pisces, this year is best served honing your marketing skills—new release or old, find a hook for your book and get it out there during September’s Shameless Promotion Month.
Libra (Sep. 23/Oct. 22 –Patience is prominent for you in 2011, pensive Librans. Reduce the clutter and bring your writing back into balance with inspired, but cautious and consistent steps. For others, the dog days of summer may be too hot to handle, but smart author Librans could make the most of Bad Poetry Day, August 18th and Weird Contest Week, August 16-19, and consider sponsoring a writing contest for your community. (Good PR.)
Scorpio (Oct. 23/Nov. 21)–Aha, we Scorpios are due to be impatient (what else is new) but inspired, as this year marks significant changes in life, based on our writing. The only Zodiac shapeshifter, we’ve been reinventing ourselves (again) since 2008—from the stinging Scorpion to the majestic Eagle (on our way to the peaceful Dove). Known for its magic, October is a great month to spread our wings and soar like a ghostly spirit into National Book Month. Boo!
Sagittarius (Nov. 22/Dec. 21)–We’re full circle with the Archer aiming an arrow for the stars in 2011. It’s all in your mind, Sag. You have the power to free yourself physically, emotionally, and mentally—which makes for great writing! Use the year to explore where you’ve never gone before and author success will be yours by December 16’s National Chocolate-covered Anything Day. (An extra reward!)
In case you didn’t notice, each horoscope includes a national holiday of some sort—I’ll bet you could market your book for at least three of those holidays—if you start now.
Endurance is our key word for the year. Through all of the Sun Signs is a strong need to persevere, which if you have a passion for your writing, is an innate trait. Come December 31st, it will have all been worth it.
Have a great year, authors! … LinDee
[Disclaimer: We’re just having fun, here! Neither I nor Infinity Publishing lay claim to visions of the future or supernatural powers. Although I wouldn’t mind a day as Samantha from Bewitched so I could finish my own book! Heehee. Holidays gleaned from Brownielocks; Chart clipart; Scorpio clipart.]
Author Advocate, Brittany Lavin, January 7, 2011:
As I said in my very first blog, I grew up with dreams of becoming a published author. This wasn’t something I took lightly. I knew the odds were against me- but I didn’t want to give up. I’ve done my fair share of research of what it takes to get published. During my quest, I would see ads for author-originated publishing but I would only glance at them. At the time, they were just an after-thought. I suppose it was my own naiveté- my dream of getting picked up by a big publisher and being a huge success. I didn’t think of how limited I was being, or of the limitations I would come across.
Now that I work in the publishing industry I have a better understanding of the differences. So here is my understanding:
1. Rejection. I’ve said this before, but it’s one of the biggest differences out there. When you send your manuscript into a publishers or literary agent, they can reject you in an instant without any reason or feedback. This can be discouraging for many aspiring authors. In the self-publishing industry, however, aspiring authors can finally get their voice heard and their work is accepted.
2. In traditional publishing, you usually have to send your work to a literary agent before even getting to the publishing houses. You need the agent to talk your book up to the “big boys” and convince them to buy it. When self-publishing, there’s no politics or convincing needed.
3. Rights. This country is all about the rights of the people. In the publishing industry, they buy the rights to your book whereas in self-publishing, you keep the rights.
4. Content is King. When you give your life’s work over to a publisher, they can edit it how they see fit. They can take out that one part you love and worked so hard on. In self-publishing, you have final say over the content.
5. The main difference here is control. I’m not saying that traditional publishing takes away all of the author’s rights. I’m just saying that by publishing your work independently, you have more say in the overall process and more freedom to express your vision the way you want it.
In the end, what really matters is what you want and how you want your work to be presented to the public. The publishing industry is always changing and I know my understanding will change with it.
Traditional book publishers are constantly riding a balancing act between what’s being considered politically correct and what latest deviations are driving the current trends that can yield a profit before fading away. Infinity Publishing has always provided authors with a rather free and open press, willing to publish books on a wide variety of topics with deviations that are a matter of personal interests. Freedom of expression is essential for the creative author to share their storytelling effectively. The author and book publisher are both involved in varying amounts the promotional and marketing efforts to sell the book and share in the proceeds. There has never been a place in time when freedom of expression was more available and affordable to the inspired masses for their individual expressions.
Hopefully, this provides some understanding of the happenings taking place in our evolving branch of book publishing and brings you some insight as to why Barnes & Noble stores might be difficult to deal with, and thusly why we stress working with and supporting independent bookstores. So just when you thought the good “old boy’s” system of traditional book publishing was ruling the day and imposing their tattered ways, well, you might be right—for now...but as for tomorrow...and tomorrows...
We are living and writing in very exciting times! Welcome to the new frontier in book publishing. The publishing revolution starts here and the time is now. We can revisit history and we can certainly learn from it, but come along with us now as we, together, make it happen. And your inspired creativity and continued involvement makes it happen again and again and again!
When I started out in book publishing, way back in 1997, it was a different world. Authors had been confined to a stable (or a pen if you like) whereby the gate keepers of the industry would selectively provide access to the world in the guise of publishing the book.
What we may forget is that back then there really was no other way, except for one: Self Publishing.
Self publishing has a long and storied history (no pun intended) that goes back to when mankind first scrawled on a piece of granite with a stone. In fact, one might say that before all the machinations of business took over, self publishing was the original form of disseminating content.
Things really got interesting in the 90's. Xerox developed what is considered the first digital printing systems, which allowed documents to be stored electronically and printed when needed. Hence, Print On Demand.
Think of it compared to a copy machine. A copy machine scans your image and prints it one page at a time. It doesn't "remember" each page it scans for long, just long enough to print it. It scans, prints, and forgets in order to make way for the next sheet of paper to be scanned, printed and erased from its memory.
Print on demand is kind of like that, except that you scan a document once. It is saved into memory and can then be printed at any time. Further, digital printing machines can get documents from a network. So just like printing a document to your office printer, you can print a "file" to a digital printing machine that doesn't print the document until you are ready.
This technology is the foundation for the revolution in publishing that has occurred in the last 15 years or so. Print on Demand technology has made it affordable to print books in low quantities, thereby solving the long time problem of printing thousands of books for market using ink-based traditional printing presses.
Self publishing will never be the same, and has come to be viewed in a much different light than it ever had before.
Thanks to such technologies (and don't forget the Internet), an author may now publish their book completely independently of the traditional publisher. There is no gatekeeper in the way. Authors now have great freedom.
And with great freedom comes great responsibility. As such, we've seen a boom in the number of editors offering their services independently.
Where will things go for Self Publishing? Is paper doomed? Maybe, but not for a long, long time. Perhaps e-Books will someday dominate. Or perhaps Self Publishing will move in other directions that we've yet to dream of. But one thing is for sure, self publishing will continue to grow. There's no end in sight because people have a story to tell and knowledge to share. It has gotten easier to do that, and that ease of use will also continue to grow.
Photo courtesy of typofi.
VP of Author Services, John F. Harnish, Ocotber 27, 2010:
During the last century, billions of tons of unsold books, magazines and newspapers were plunged into dismal dumps and landfills. These wasted publications poisoned the surrounding earth with their toxic inks, dyes, toner, and papers—this is the nasty carbon footprint the publishing industry has been leaving behind, as the imprint of slowly decaying remnants of once inspired expressiveness.
Four decades ago, the first annual observation of Earth Day generated early sparks of awareness about the harmful impact caused by dumping massive amounts of printed paper into overflowing landfills.
At the turn of the 21st century, greening publishers began to use evolutionary printing processes to effectively reduce the number of books printed to align with the total count of books actually sold. Environmentally friendly paper mills developed cost-effective methodologies to manufacture high quality paper, using significant amounts of recycled paper.
Now, many publishing companies are teaming up with green foundations such as Eco-libris in order to better our environment.
Eco-Libris is a green company working with book lovers, bookstores, publishers and authors worldwide to green up the book industry by promoting the adoption of green practices, balancing out books by planting trees, and supporting green books.
Book festivals are also jumping on the green initiative by promoting green practices.
The 2011 Green Book Festival has issued the call for entries to its annual competition honoring books that contribute to greater understanding, respect and positive action on the changing worldwide environment.
The 2011 Green Book Festival will consider published, self-published and independent publishers.
For more information check out: http://www.greenbookfestival.com
-John F. Harnish
by Brittany Lavin
There are many steps along the path of becoming a published author. Some are small steps and some are big steps. The biggest steps (and sometimes the most difficult) are writing the book and getting it published.
I will never say that writing the book is the easy part. However, there are times when it seems it was much easier to write a book then to publish one. This doesn’t always have to be the case. It all depends on the path you decide to take.
Determination will take you a long way. Perseverance is the path to publishing. Here are some things to think about beforehand.
- Is your book really complete? I’m sure you have gone over it and over it 1,000 times. However, that idea that popped into your head a week ago might just make or break it. Go over it 1,001 times. It will make all the difference.
- Is your book edited and formatted correctly? Have another pair of eyes handy for copyediting. They might pick up something you missed. Remember, the little things matter.
- Think about marketing! How will you market your books? Who is your target audience? How can you get people excited to buy your book once it is published? Marketing and promotion are the keys to a successful writing career- start early!
- Prepare yourself for rejection. The path to becoming a published author is paved with rejection letters. Don’t let this discourage you! Forge your own path- explore the possibilities of self-publishing.
- Perhaps the most important thing to think about when getting your book published is to remember why you started writing in the first place. It wasn’t just to become rich and famous was it? No. It was because you love writing. Remember that and remember that you aren’t alone on this path.
Photo courtesy of abcdz2000.
by John F. Harnish
Just like writers have different styles of writing, so do copyeditors have different approaches to editing. The ideal copyeditor works with a delicate touch fixing grammatical goofs, correcting typos and generally cleaning things up to make the author look better while carefully retaining the author’s expressive voice. Certain rules of grammar and for proper spelling must be adhered to in order to achieve professional standards. There is, however, a bit of latitude regarding some possible changes and word substitution.
Back in the eons of time I was assigned a publishing house editor who was making rather arbitrary decisions and meaningless word substitutions. In my opinion, my original word was just as fitting as the editor substituted word – in some cases my words were even more befitting in keeping with the tone and flow of my writing. I boldly confronted the editor with charges of him totally wrecking my work with all his pointless changes. Why was he doing this? I was totally shocked when he agreed that most of the changes were just being made for the sake of change. Besides, he added, he had to do something to justify his job! Bummer – his justifying was trashing my hard work! As it was back then, when a publisher assigned an editor to a project they were on it from start to finish. Not so today with commercial publishers, with downsizing and mergers an author could experience working with a variety of editors in the course o f completing a project. Each brings different editing skills, experience and talent to the table. Thusly some editors will be easier to work with than others. Hopefully you won’t encounter someone more concerned with job security than professionally editing your manuscript.
Another editor I was honored to work with was Nancy Jackson, also known as Mason. She had a gift when it came to editing the hard parts – you know, like when you know what the piece needs to convey but it just isn’t doing it – close, but no cigar. She was a master at cutting and switching phrases from here to there that created crystal clarity with fabulous flow. I learned more from her about editing styles and techniques than I ever did in the many classes and workshops I’ve attended. She explained her role as an editor as working with the author to make their work sparkle, and do it in such a way that doesn’t even show the tender touch of her finger tips upon the completed piece. Leaving no marks is indeed the trademark of a skillful and talented editor.
However, don't try to break all the rules and pass it off as developing your signature style as a writer – the only thing your style will show are your shortcomings! First-time authors seem to have an urgent need to establish a distinctive writing voice and mistakenly use those crude attempts at style to disregard the rules of effective writing. Then they get bummed when a copyeditor corrects their many errors. Too many times the telling of the story gets lost in the quest for an elusive style.
Photo courtesy of Zsuzsanna Kilian.