Sunday, January 31, 2010

Awards, Awards, Awards...Tis the Season!

Oscars, Grammys, and Emmys...oh my! For indie authors, the opportunities for recognition are . . . ummmm . . . infrequent to say the least. And unfortunatey, the few opportunities available do not come without their costs. But I wanted to post information about some upcoming awards shows specifically designed for indie authors and publishers. Most of the deadlines are coming up in March, so if you're interested in entering your book for consideration, get your entry in as soon as possible.

And here they go...

2010 Next Generation Indie Book Awards®
Deadline: March 10
Cateories: 60 - fiction and non-fiction
Top Prizes: $1,500, a pretty trophy and bragging rights.
Entry Fee: $75 per category

National Indie Excellence Award
Deadline: March 31
Categories: A lot
Top Prizes: thousands of dollars in tv radio and other media promotion
Entry Fee: $65.00 per category

Independent Publisher - IPPY Awards
Deadline: March 20th
Categories: 67
Top Prizes: Gold, Silver, Bronze Medals (All I could find)
Entry Fee: $85.00 per category

Writer's Digest Self Published Competition
Deadline: May 3
Categories: A lot
Top Prizes: $3,000, promotion in Writer's Digest and Publisher's Weekly, submission to major reviewers - The Washington Post, NY Times, etc. etc.
Entry Fee: $125 first category, $75 each additional category

(Notice: I do not endorse any award over another, nor can I vouch for the validity of any of the above organizations or their awards. So, please do your research and enter at your own risk.)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

What is a POD? And What is "Maintaining Control" of Your Book?

Earlier today, I made a post on an Amazon forum about POD publishers. What does it mean to be a POD? What is the difference between service oriented PODs like iUniverse, AuthorHouse, and Xlibris as opposed to other PODs like Lightning Source and TextStream. And what does using one POD over the other mean in terms of your control. As one of the principal goals I stated in the previous post is maintain maximum control over all aspects of your book, I thought it would be a good idea to repost my response to another author's question about iUniverse, what does it mean that iUniverse is a POD, and what impact does using their ISBN over buying your own ISBN have over your "control" over your book.

Here is my response...

Keep in mind that Print On Demand is only a method of printing. iUniverse, Xlibris, Createspace, Lightning Source are all the same, POD companies, the real difference is the level of service that they offer to help you get your book ready for market. Lightning Source and Text Stream are bare bones, they do nothing except accept your files and print your book. iUniverse, Xlibris, Createspace offer more services--editing, marketing, book design, etc. The result is the same. Your book is printed as the book is ordered - print on demand. They are NOT publishers per se, they are printers. But because they provide you with the use of their ISBN number and their printing service, you are bound by their terms. For a publisher to be a publisher in the true sense of the word, they will not charge you a penny. They will do everything from editing book design, marketing, etc. AND pay you a royalty. Through iUniverse and such services YOU PAY them to handle those services ... and that makes you a self-publisher when you use them.

In terms of your ISBN, iUniverse is the publisher associated with your ISBN number--not JOe Shmoe. So, if you, as Joe Shmoe, wanted to take that ISBN and print your book with TextStream (baker and taylor), or Lulu, or Booksurge, for example, you as "Joe Shmoe" could not use that ISBN number anywhere you choose to use it. iUniverse will always be the publisher of record for that ISBN, not you.

Here's a practical example.

9780615307046 is my ISBN number.

That number is associated with K.L. Brady/LadyLit Press (my imprint). I use that ISBN number with Lightning Source, Createspace, and Text Stream - and the publisher of record is K.L. Brady/LadyLit Press.

Your ISBN number is 987876568788, that number is associated with iUniverse, iUniverse uses that number to get you into Lightning Source -- and the publisher of record is iUniverse.

What does that mean for you?

Say you and I want to get our books into a Bart's Bookstore. Bart requires requires a 50% wholesale discount and returnability and that the book should be competitively priced at $14.95 to sell.

For me, it's not an issue. I can set my price at whatever I want, I can offer returnability (and it doesn't cost me a penny, no special service to purchase), and I can dictate my wholesale discount.

iUniverse dictates your wholesale discount and your price. So, iUniverse may say the maximum discount you can offer is 40% and your minimum price is $16.95. Furthermore, iUniverse says books cannot be returned.

I've just got my book on a bookstore shelf and you did not, because iUniverse controls your terms--and I control my terms.

It makes a big difference for stores. Otherwise, it's not a big deal.

Also, I'm not saying those are iUniverse's terms, I'm just using those figures and policies as an example because that's how most PODs work. They dictate your price, your wholesale discount, and your returnability. I maintain total control over everything.

That is the difference.

Friday, January 29, 2010

So You Wrote Your Book. Now What? - Book Marketing

Before I get into the nitty gritty of my ideas for publishing, I’d like to set forth a few caveats and goals to help you keep things in perspective.

1. What I am presenting is my way—not the ONLY way—to indie publish your book. I’m giving you my opinion based on my (limited) experience.

2. My opinions are based on publishing FICTION. The rules are different for non-fiction, at least at the marketing phase. And really in some aspects of the book design phase as well.

3. If you know a better, easier way, please share it. I don’t profess to know everything about indie publishing. I’ve learned a lot in a very short time, but I don’t know everything.

4. I prefer the term indie publisher because it sounds sexier than self-publishing. So please avoid using the SP word as much as possible.

5. When I speak about indie publishing and costs, I really put my efforts and costs into three categories: Publishing, Distribution, and Marketing and Sales. Publishing deals with the physical book. Distribution is getting the book to retailers. Marketing and Sales is building demand for your book so you can sell it and make money. Three phases.

6. Google is your friend. Your best friend in fact.

As an indie publisher you should set goals that underline your overall strategy. My goals are as follows:

1. To maintain the most control over my rights, my price, and my distribution channels so that I can offer terms as flexible as they need to be to get my book into as many distribution channels as possible and sell my book at a competitive price point.

2. To produce a high-quality product as inexpensively as possible.

Now for the now what?

Once I’d determined that I'd finished querying agents and I’m going to indie publish come hell or high water, the first thing I’d do after I had a solid first draft done is, put the draft away and start marketing.

I realize this might be a bit out of order from what many books would tell you to do, but if you want to have a successful book release, you have to start your marketing as early as possible. The beautiful thing is that most online marketing is passive. You can post your information in places where readers go, and let it work for you while you’re working on editing your book and getting it ready to sell. If you wait to start marketing after your book is ready then you’re already too late. Starting your marketing at this time will allow you to start building "BUZZ."

So if I had to do it all again, these would be the first steps I’d take after getting a solid draft of my novel.

Step 1: I’d come up with a concept for and design my front book cover. You don’t need the entire cover, just the front. Why? Because most sites require you to have a book cover in order to post. And you want your audience to have a visual reminder of your book so that when it’s finally online or in stores they will remember having seen it before. (Cost varies from FREE and UP).

Step 2: I’d buy my own ISBN number. If you use Print On Demand (which I did and I suggest to keep your costs at a minimum), then POD companies will usually offer you the option of using their free ISBN or using your own. BUY YOUR OWN! Why? Our goal is to maintain as much control over our book as possible and buying your own ISBN allows you to maintain total control over that number. If you use a free one from a POD or other service, your use of that number is restricted. I will explain that further in a future post when I talk about PODs. ($150 – - Publishing Cost) If you buy the single ISBN from bowkers it will come with a bar code. DO NOT and I repeat DO NOT set up your barcode until you're ready to send your book into the printer. I will explain this when I talk about ISBNs.

Step 3: Although I will go into much more detail about marketing in later posts, these are the marketing steps I would take initially. Most of these steps require that you have an ISBN number, the size, the page, and a photo. You can fudge on your size and page numbers, they can always be changed. But you have to have the ISBN.

1. Set up your website! The first page should have a cover of your book, a short synopsis, and you can also put a short author bio on the page. This will be your headquarters for all things web related. If you can’t afford one, I highly suggest getting a free site via . They have templates, you can buy your own domain name for $15.00, and they are easy to set up. They allow video, paypal, and everything you need to get started. ($15.00-Marketing Cost)

2. Set up author accounts on Shelfari, Goodreads, and Librarything. Once you have your account set up, then set up a book giveaway. You can set the giveaway for months in advance. This is great passive marketing that requires you to do nothing but post the book on the site. Thousands and thousands of readers check those pages every day. (FREE)

3. Set up author accounts on sites such as, Authorsden, and other author sites. If you want to find them, just Google author or writing websites and you’ll find tons. I will list more later, but these will get you started. (FREE)

After you’ve finished this part, then go back to editing and let your marketing work for you. By beginning marketing at this phase, you will stay focused so that you don’t dilly-dally in getting your book out. Now, people expect to see it within a certain timeframe and you can work toward that goal. Plus, you will put some time and space between you and your book, in a productive way, so that you can now look at it with a clear head and do the kind of editing you need to do it sharpen it up.

On the next post, I’m going to talk about some principals of book cover design from a marketing perspective.

Until then,

Keep it real—and keep it real cheap!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Welcome to Indie Publishing on the Cheap!

Should I indie publish my novel?

I’d like to start this blog by saying that if I have one piece of advice to any man, woman, or child who is thinking about indie publishing fiction (the rules are a little different for non-fiction), my first piece of advice is: DON’T!!!

That may seem surprising to those who know that I indie published my debut novel. It is because I’ve done it that I can feel good in my attempt to scare you away. Why? Because indie publishing fiction—if you want to get it in the hands of readers and make something resembling a profit—is hard, hard, hard, hard work. Writing the book is the easy part. Getting that book to market and making sales - that’s where the real work begins.
As indie author, I’ll admit that I can do many of the things that traditionally published authors can do—but, for what may take one phone call from the traditionally published author or their publicist (I should be so lucky!), for me, may take a phone call, a letter, a personal visit, lots of begging, another phone call, more begging, pleading, and an occasional death threat.

Sadly, that is not an exaggeration.

No, I suggest that you try and try real hard to go the traditional route first! Find an agent to represent your work and let that agent find a home for your novel with a major publishing house that has the resources and personnel to get your book into the hands of as a many readers as possible as fast as possible. If you are running into walls finding an agent, then hire your own editor and get a manuscript evaluation, fix your novel, and then try querying again. If after all that fails and you still want to publish your novel independently, THEN follow the advice that will provide over the coming weeks.

Seriously…keep trying. I wouldn’t steer you wrong.

My publishing story…

On October 6, 2009, I officially released my debut novel, The Bum Magnet. Indie published by yours truly. I’d never had any experience in publishing before…none whatsoever. Yet, with a lot of research—and by the grace of God—I was able to write and publish my novel—on my own—inside of one year, with a custom cover and an editorial review from a former editor at a Simon & Schuster, for just about $1200. Yep. That’s about right. You can keep a tally of the costs but I’m somewhere in that neighborhood.

Although I’ve worked as an analyst for the government for nearly 20 years—and I now work as an analytical editor for a military organization—I didn’t have any “creative” writing experience whatsoever. My writing is mostly confined to journals. Despite my lack of creative writing and publishing experience (about 1 year total to be exact), I’m proud to say that my book is getting great reviews (including a Reviewer’s Choice selection by the Midwest Book Review), pretty well edited, slowly getting word-of-mouth notoriety AND—most importantly—already on the shelves of major bookstores, like Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million.

“Well, how did you do it?” you ask.

That’s what this blog is all about. I’m going to walk you step by step through every aspect of indie publishing that I took to reach my final destination. The topics will include:

• Editing
o Levels of Editing
o Determining What Level You Need
o How to get it for cheap!
• Book Design
o Cover design
o Interior design
o Software recommendations
• Print-on-Demand
o For less than $200
• Distribution
o Getting into major bookstores
• Marketing
o Marketing Plan
o Getting Reviews
o Websites and Widgets

And everything on the CHEAP! By the time, you finish reading this blog, you will be able to produce and sell your own book for about a fraction of what POD publisher like iUniverse and AuthorHouse charge. A mere fraction!

Why am I giving out all of this free advice? Well, I believe in paying my blessings forward. I'd like to help some of you folks avoid spending thousands and thousands of dollars to do what you can do for yourself...and probably do a WHOLE lot better!

And I’m going to tell you what even most published books on self-publishing won’t tell you.

Perhaps when one of you gets picked up by a major publisher, you will remember little old me, and throw a dog a bone—by mentioning my fab chick lit books (there are more to come). Really, it’d be great if you do that even if you don’t get picked up by a major publisher…but definitely do it if you do!

Or, if you’re really feeling grateful, you can pick up a copy of my Kindle version or the paperback on Amazon. All this free advice for $12 bucks? You can’t beat it. And if you don't like chick lit, buy and give it to someone who does, donate it to a library, host a giveaway on your own blog, or use it as a bookend.

If you have questions on any specific issues, then email them to me at karla (at)klbradywrites (dot) com and I’ll try to help if I can. If it’s something I think others can benefit from, then I’ll post it so others can read it as well (unless, of course, you ask me not to).

Keep it real—and keep it real cheap!