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Attorney Laura Kirwan on Contracts, Copyright, Foreign Rights, and Other Author Issues

| Posted in Interviews / Success Stories, Tips and Tricks |

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Of all the questions I get in regard to writing, marketing, and publishing, the ones on law and taxes are the ones I’m least likely to have a clue about. I still can’t help you with taxes, but I have someone here today to answer common questions on copyright, contracts, and other legal topics related to books and publishing.

Attorney Laura Kirwan, who specializes in literary and publishing law, practices here in the Phoenix area and maintains a blog that should be helpful for authors all over the U.S.

Hey Laura, thanks for stopping by! Let’s start with this one… What are some of the pitfalls self-publishing authors should look out for?

The biggest mistake I see self-published authors make is not taking their work seriously enough, particularly with e-books.  Just because you’re self-published, the reader is not going to give you a pass on typos and misspellings and sloppy editing.  And they likely aren’t going to give you a second chance to convince them to buy another book.

As a self-published author, you’re not just an author.  You’re also a publisher.  So you need to understand the business side of things and act like a business owner.  Successful business owners understand the industry in which they operate and take good care of their customers.  They honor their obligations.  They hire help when they need it.  They sweat the details.

At a bare minimum, you need to pay for a good line editor. If you start making money, you need an accountant not just for tax prep, but for financial and tax planning.  And if you don’t understand any agreements you run across, hire a lawyer.  It’s not a divorce, it won’t cost $30,000.  An experienced lawyer can review a contract, tell you where the problems are and help you negotiate a better deal and it generally won’t cost you more than a few hundred bucks.

I’m an author, too.  I know what goes into writing.  There’s that Ernest Hemmingway quote about sitting at the typewriter and opening a vein.  You’ve put energy and love and tears and untold hours into your work.  You’ve built a world.  Don’t cheap out and starve it to death on the publication side.

Do you need to file a copyright in order to protect your work?

You hold the copyright to your work as soon as you create it.  Copyright registration isn’t required to create or maintain your copyright, but it’s a good practice.  It creates a public record of your ownership of the work and it provides some specific benefits in the event you have to sue someone for copyright infringement.  I have more detailed information on copyright registration, as well as how copyrights are created and how to use a copyright notice on my website.

What about ISBNs? Most e-bookstores (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, etc.) don’t require them for ebooks, and Smashwords provides a free one. Createspace also provides one for paperbacks. Are these okay to use or should you buy your own?

Legally, it won’t affect your copyright to get your own ISBN or use one provided by book production companies like Smashwords or Createspace.  There’s no legal significance to an ISBN.  It’s an inventory management tool.  So, despite the more hysterical claims I’ve run across on the internet, using a book printing company’s free ISBN by itself does not grant that company any rights in your work.  But that doesn’t mean you can’t sign your rights away in a contract you enter with them.  So, again read and understand every contract before you sign it.  That includes the one you click through on the company’s website when you sign up with them.

So, it’s really more about the appearance of it. One of the reasons I want to self-publish is I want to maintain control over my work.  I don’t want someone else to pick my cover or my title or tell me to change the names of my characters, etc.  (A lawyer and a control freak.  Go figure.)  I want to self-publish.  Which makes me the publisher.

ISBNs get dramatically cheaper the more you buy, you can hold onto them and use them as you need them, and you can write them off as a business expense.  To, me it’s worth the expense and a sign to the rest of the industry that I take myself seriously as a business owner and an author.

If we get popular as authors, we’ll be approached by agents and publishers. Can you talk about when or why we might want to hire a lawyer instead of an agent?

It’s not an either/or decision.  Lawyers and agents serve different roles and can help you in different ways.  The one time when you absolutely need a lawyer instead of an agent is when you’re reviewing a proposed agency agreement.  I heard an agent say at a writing conference that his agreement was on his website and if he decided to represent you he’d be happy to sit down with you before you sign it and explain what it means.

And my lawyer bells started ringing. His duty of care to you does not begin until the agreement is signed.  Which makes it a conflict of interest for him to advise you on it. What an agent should tell you is that you should review the agreement with an attorney before signing it. (That agent I mentioned? His agreement basically lets him, and his heirs, collect a commission on any deals you make even remotely related to the original book for the life of the copyright.  Ouch.)

Agents get paid on commission.  So they have strong incentive to fight hard to get you the best deal they can.  The good ones, and most are, represent you because they believe, often passionately, in your work and your talent. Lawyers, at least the kind that you’d want to hire for this sort of work, generally get paid by the hour. They may not fall in love with or even read your book and they get paid about the same regardless of the deal you reach.  They’re going to take a dispassionate and skeptical look at the proposed deal.  They’re going to ask questions you and your agent never even considered. Lawyers are trained to spot potential problems and legal potholes. A good lawyer is skilled at imagining the myriad and spectacular ways your deal can go sideways, and help you avoid them.

And there’s more to a publishing contract than just the publishing stuff.  An agent can guide you on the intricacies of subsidiary rights and royalties.  But your agent is probably not going to be quite as adept at explaining what the term “indemnify, defend and hold harmless” means.  Think of the agent as the substantive editor and the lawyer as the line editor.  They bring different eyes to the project and will help you in different ways.

What if approached by publishers in other countries who want to negotiate for foreign rights on our books? Agent? Lawyer? Do it ourselves?

Well, I’m kind of biased but I think you should always have a lawyer involved when you’re entering into a deal to sell any of your rights whether you have an agent or not.  Not necessarily for the negotiation stage but to review the contract.

If you want to seek out buyers for your foreign rights, then an agent experienced in that area can be a big help.  If you already have an agent, you need to look at your agent agreement and see what it says about negotiating foreign rights.   Have your lawyer review whatever contract the purchaser provides or have your lawyer draft the contract if the purchaser doesn’t provide one.

If you don’t have an agent and you receive a foreign rights offer, or know how to shop for one yourself, then you don’t need to go out and find an agent.  A knowledgeable copyright attorney can help you negotiate the terms of the deal and prepare or review the paperwork.

Thanks, Laura!

If you guys have any more lawyer-esque questions, please leave them below, and I’ll try to get Laura to pop in and respond.

How Leeland Artra Is Rocking the Amazon Sales Charts with His First Book

| Posted in Interviews / Success Stories |

41

If you asked me how many sales you could expect to get on your first book, I’d probably say something like, “Well, if you want to make money, it’s more important to think about a career and to plan to write a lot of books… It takes time to build up an audience and start selling well.” Probably not bad advice per se, but every now and then an author starts rocking it right out of the starting blocks.

Leeland Artra published his first book, Thread Slivers, in January, and, it’s spending a lot of time on various Top 100 fantasy lists on Amazon. I’m not sure how many books he’s sold, but I know from his sales ranking that it’s in the thousands, maybe even ten thousand already. I hunted him down (not hard since we chat on Twitter from time to time) and pumped him for answers to questions I’m sure you’re all wondering about.

Hi, Leeland! Do you want to tell us a bit about your book and what made you decide to self-publish?

LeelandArtraFirst, I just need to side step a bit and get a picture, smile! Seriously, I’m getting interviewed by Lindsay Buroker! How cool is that? I am so totally a fan boy. Thank you for inviting me to do this.

To answer your question impatience and dreams are what made me an indie author. I put in the time to learn about the industry. I read how-to books, I read blogs, and I read trade magazine articles. Most importantly I sought out successful authors and analyzed what they were doing.

I was not happy with traditional author stories of sending manuscripts to black hole submission addresses, waiting six months for any reply; and doing it again and again. When they were accepted the best a debut author could expect was next to nothing. The idea of spending years trying to find a publisher who would do something a little different was too much. But, I also found you (Lindsay Buroker), Elle Casey, Melissa Foster, and Michael Hicks. I had no idea what an indie author was, I knew what a vanity published book was; but, here were examples of successful authors who were doing it all without a traditional publisher. I read the articles and dug into the process and decided this was really the only option for me to start.

Yes, I said only option. Dreams, that was the second motivator. My books were not going to be traditional books. I like complex stories and not knowing everything. I’m a Firefly and Babylon 5 fan. I don’t care if the story isn’t completed at the end of the episode or season or book. All I care about is there are clues, some things come out, the world moves, the universe follows solid rules, and the good guys don’t always live just because they are popular. My world is the same. Anyone could tell you my books would never get accepted by a mainstream publisher until I had a solid fan base.

A key item that makes my books different is they are all POV. This means if the current POV character wouldn’t notice or know something you’re not going to get that information. For example Ticca barely cares about what people look like, she sees people based on her assessment of their abilities. When I write a chapter from Ticca’s POV there are very little descriptions of other people and what she notices of the surroundings is more tactical than tactile. Lebuin on the other hand notices clothes first, and can tell you the precise details of every outfit he saw and who wore it. Lebuin starts as very ignorant, that gives an excellent way to explain things to him and the reader as the story moves. The basic rule is no long winded explanations unless directly applicable to the current situation.

A reviewer mentioned that it wasn’t until second half of the book before you actually met the protagonist. This is all on purpose because at the beginning of this series none of the main characters had any clue what was really happening.

Chapter-03-thread-slivers-sketch-artraThe clincher was I had an unnatural desire to have sketches in my book of the events. Not just any sketches, I wanted them to be good but not over the top good, making them look like something Ticca or Lebuin might have drawn into their journals. It has been a long time since I have seen a paperback book with illustrations. As a debut indie author I could do this. The results are the first book, even as an eBook has sixteen custom art sketches, two fabulous maps, and feels very different than other books. The first book ended up being far beyond my expectations. The second book is shaping up to be just as good if not better.

And now for the good stuff… it’s been less than three months since you published Thread Slivers, your first book, and its sales are rocking at Amazon. As I write this, it has a #2700 sales ranking, 30 positive reviews, and appears in numerous fantasy charts. What’s your secret?

Yes, the sales since the second week after Thread Slivers came out have been steady at an overall ranking between 1100 and 2800 on all of paid Amazon, as well as hanging out at around #11 in urban fantasies, and #25-50 for contemporary and epic fantasies. I am just as shocked at the results as everyone else is. I really wasn’t expecting to have even the possibility of this type of sales until the third book (Thread Skein) was published.

The biggest driving item is I believe Thread Slivers is the very best I can make it. I decided if I was going to do this I was going to do it right. It has been professionally edited (4 full passes with rewrites.) It has a top artist (Steve Doty of Streetlight Graphics) doing all the sketches (we went round and round on these, most of the 16 sketches went through three revisions before being called done.) It has a cover design that is every bit as good as one by the very best publisher house done by another industry professional (Glendon Haddix of Streetlight Graphics, there were 11 revisions.) I hired a second editor outside of the fantasy genre to give it a final pass (Kitten Jackson.) I also had a top notch promotional video made with professional sound mixing and voice acting (Slow Cooked Pixel.) This is as good as it can get. Every book I put out will have the same level of care behind it.

Another item was I practiced selling the book by first selling its Facebook page. So the last half of 2012 I advertised, tweeted and tried to get some preliminary interest in the book and build up followers on Facebook. For the book’s release I wanted to do something huge, so I did a massive giveaway (which by the way I made a number of mistakes on like not realizing how much real money I was handing out, but it was fun and a learning experience).

Once the book was published I have kept a steady low key advertising campaign running. I am not dumping very much into advertising. Mostly I am using some twitter groups, a few Facebook ads and the occasional book list sale. So far I haven’t found what I could do to get it much better. I keep experimenting. It has only been cooking for a couple of months. I don’t plan on stopping anything I am doing. I will just keep experimenting with other channels. So far no magic bullet has been found.

Chapter-13-thread-slivers-leeland-artraI love the reviews because most are from people I didn’t ask. I laugh at that, because the articles I read said you’d be lucky if you got one review for every twenty you asked for. That was right on the nose. I sent out a little over 50 “reviewer” free copies of the book and got only a couple of reviews in exchange. However, I have gotten a lot of spontaneous reviews which is wonderful. I’m also very happy that all of the reviews are that the book is good to great. The overall star ratings are more a personal call than anything else even so I have gotten mostly 5-stars, a few 4-stars and only a couple 3-stars.

You chose a $5.99 price tag instead of the $2.99 or even $0.99 that many indies start out with. Why the higher price and do you think it’s had an impact on sales?

It was a hard choice to set the price. I talked to a lot of people about this. I got the gambit of opinions all strongly argued from give it away free to charge at least $8. I decided on this price for a few reasons.

First this book is different, it isn’t just a reasonable indie book it is a high quality book with qualified professional editors, artists, cover designer, and formatters. Further it has lots of bonus materials like the 16 custom high resolution sketches, maps, and glossary. On the Kindle Fire you get full color maps plus you can expand the pictures.

Second I don’t agree that the 99-cent or free first book is the best way to get an audience. It is unquestionably a great way to get a lot of downloads. But, the goal isn’t to have the most downloads. The goal is to have happy fans that read the books and buy the new books allowing me to be a full time author. Further, it has been demonstrated most of the books downloaded for free are not likely to be read. I know I have added dozens of free books to my kindle which I never had time to get around to reading. But, every book I paid more than a dollar for I have read. The last bit here is that Amazon lets people return the book for a full refund, so try before you buy is supported.

All the above meant my price was already going to be at least 2.99. I chose to go for the 5.99 price because that still left the book in the impulse purchase range, but it also represented a significant investment as well. Hence I believe almost every copy I have sold has been read, or is being read. This could explain the spontaneous reviews a little too.

I have done a couple one day sales at 99-cents or $2.99 due to advertising with mailing lists like BookBub.com. But, that has pushed the rank up a little higher for a day. But, the rank pops right back to its normal band the next day. Still I’ll continue to do this because it does get the book seen by a wide audience.

You’ve got a cool cover that says “epic fantasy” nicely. How much impact do you think covers and blurbs have in getting people to try a book by an unknown author?

thread-slivers-cover“Don’t judge a book by its cover.” That is not true. Everyone I know is attracted or repulsed by the book cover. Even more so my cover had to work well the smaller sizes for Facebook ads, and Amazon also bought lists. I knew I needed this to be extremely good, eye catching, and compelling.

How did I solve this? I asked YOU (Lindsay) and Elle Casey for advice, at the time you two had already been chatting with other would-be-indie authors such as me. We had already chatted on other writing topics at the time because I had spent the prior six months reading all the writer blogs I could find and asking questions.

Both of you said to not skimp, and both of you gave me some references. I didn’t just blindly follow your advice (and I highly recommend any soon-to-be-indie author reading this to do your homework too.) I looked on my own for other cover art designers, I checked out dozens of example works (and how well they were selling) and in the end I just loved some of the work done by Streetlight Graphics. They had made a number of covers that resonated with me so I chatted with them and finally hired them. It has been a wild and fun ride ever since.

I see you tweeting book quotations and other such teasers often on Twitter. Can you talk about how social media has played a role in your sales success?

I believe social media has been a primary factor in my book’s jump in sales. Before I decided to become an author I had decided I didn’t like Twitter and only played with Facebook to keep up with a few friends. However, the moment I decided to be an author I knew I needed to be “socially visible.” Again I read articles, I looked at other authors (indie and traditional) and I lurked on their Facebook and Twitter feeds carefully monitoring what they did. Over six months I came to some conclusions on how to use these well without being annoying. First and foremost I always want to be able to connect with any fans directly. Naturally I wanted to advertise too.

I followed the advice of some savvy social media folks and have been slowly building a following ever since. One of the things I try to do is to promote other authors’ works. Especially authors I admire and think others should know about. Many people I speak with think this is crazy because they think I am just handing sales to some other author. But I don’t think I am in a competition. I think there will always be thousands of new fantasy readers who would love to know about other authors. There is no reason to hide the fact that I admire one author. In fact there is every reason to broadcast it. This means my readers will find authors I like, and I hope those authors will also point their readers at me. It takes a few months to produce a great fantasy, but only a few hours to read one. Thousands of like-minded authors could easily share fans without any loss of sales.

What are you planning next, and where can people find out more?

Right now I am working hard to make the deadlines to get the entire Golden Threads Trilogy out without slipping dates. Thread Slivers (book one) is of course out now. Thread Strands (book two) is just about complete and scheduled to head out to the editors in a couple of weeks. Thread Skein (book three) is already half done and pretty solidly figured out.

After getting Golden Threads Trilogy out I am not sure. I have gotten a number of requests for prequels. The Golden Threads Trilogy is based in a universe that spans over 15,000 years of known history as the blended world as well as 5,000 years of sci-fi level times within our current universe. There are hundreds of characters that would be fun to write about. But, I haven’t got anything firmly in mind yet.

The best place to find me is the standard three Twitter (https://twitter.com/LArtra), Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/LArtraAuthor), and Goodreads (http://www.goodreads.com/LArtra).

I have an author blog at (http://lartra.com)

Of course you can find Thread Slivers at Amazon.com. It will be available on Apple, Kobo and B&N in May 2013.

Should Independent Authors Have Their Books Translated into Foreign Languages?

| Posted in Interviews / Success Stories |

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I’ve had a couple of folks email me because they were looking for work, translating English books into their native tongues (I think I’ve heard from French and Spanish-speaking/writing folks so far). I have a number of balls in the air right now, so I simply kept the people’s contact information in case I wanted to get in touch later, but I have been curious about this. As an independent ebook author, it’s pretty easy to get your books into other countries (Apple, Kobo, and Amazon all have stores overseas), but at the end of the day, the books are still in English, and I’m sure you’d appeal to a different audience if you had offerings in people’s native tongues.

When I saw fellow indie Susanne O’Leary mention that she was having some luck with the German-language version of her ebook, I decided to ask her if she’d answer some questions for us. She said yes, so here are the details:

Getting Your Book Translating into a Foreign Language with Susanne O’Leary

What made you decide to pursue a German translation of your ebook?

fresh-powder-susanne-o-learyI wanted to get into the German market and had heard it was about to take off. But I also heard that German language books are more popular over there and that womens’ contemporary romantic fiction is in great demand there.

How did you go about uploading the book into the Kindle, Apple, B&N stores, etc.? Do you just go through the regular self-publishing dashboards, or do you need to make an account in the other country?

I only published this book on Amazon (because I wanted to put it into the Select programme) and KDP will get it out into all Amazon outlets worldwide.

How did you go about finding someone to do the translation?

I asked an author friend who had just had her own books translated into German and she put me in touch with the translator.

And how do you know if he/she did a good job?

frischer-schneeFirst of all, I knew that the translator’s husband is a German teacher and would be proof reading the book. And I also have some German friends who were willing to beta read the translation for me. They gave me the thumbs up.

Can you give us an idea about the costs and whether you’ve made your money back through sales in other countries?

What I paid is confidential but I can tell you that it wasn’t cheap. I haven’t made the money back yet but the way the sales increased after my three day free run makes me confident that I will in a couple of months. That said, I might mention that sales of some of my English titles are also beginning to increase in Germany. I have to date 9 reviews on this book and they are all positive.

Does your German book only sell in Germany or is there a market for German-speaking readers in other countries?

I have seen sales in Italy and France with this book and I know that Amazon.de also covers Austria and Switzerland.

Do you think you’ll have the book translated into other languages as well?

I might have it translated into French if I can find a good translator. And in this instance, I can check the book myself, as I speak French fluently.

Susanne’s bio:

Susanne O’Leary is Swedish and lives in Ireland. She married an Irish diplomat at a very young age and travelled the world with her family for many years. She started writing about 12 years ago and her books reflect her globetrotting life, drawing on her experiences as an expat. She started her novelist career with a romantic comedy called ‘Diplomatic Incidents’, which was published in Ireland in 2001 (it was re-written and published on Amazon Kindle as ‘Duty Free’ in 2011).

She published Virtual Suspects (a sequel to Virtual Strangers) in December 2012 and ‘Frischer Schnee‘, the German translation of Fresh Powder, also in December 2012. She is currently working on her 11th novel, a romantic comedy set in the west of Ireland, which she hopes will be published later this year.

Attending Conventions and Conferences as an Independent Author

| Posted in Interviews / Success Stories |

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I keep saying I’m going to start going to writing and SF/F conventions so I can network, promote books, and pick up hot Klingons, but it hasn’t happened yet. Am I missing out? I invited fellow independent author Dale Ivan Smith to the blog today to talk about his experience in attending (and even being a panelist on) conventions and conferences. Yes, indies can get invited to speak! Here’s the lowdown….

Interview with Dale Ivan Smith

Heya, Dale! Welcome! You’ve blogged about writing conferences, and the benefits of attending them, for us before. It sounds like you’re not just going to them these days but have started to appear on panels. Where have you appeared?

I was a panelist at Renovation, the 2011 World Science Fiction Convention, and at our annual sci-fi convention here in Portland in 2011 and 2012. I had been invited to be a panelist at the 2012 World Science Fiction Convention, Chi-Con, held in Chicago, but had to decline because of scheduling issues, so that makes four conventions so far.

How, as an independent author, did you get invited to appear?

In the case of Renovation I was fortunate in knowing the Convention chair, Patty Wells, who offered, with no guarantees, to forward my name to the head of the Programming department. Literary sci-fi cons like Worldcon, World Fantasy, Norwescon etc. are run by committees divided into departments- programming, finances, PR, gaming, hotel, etc. It can be a bit challenging to find the name of the programming head, check the conventions website and look for committee members–they are often listed. This is important because the programming head is usually the one that decides on who is invited to be a guest or not.

I wrote a short bio listing the stories I had published online, emphasizing that I was working on becoming an indie author. Renovation’s programming department wanted to have a cross section of traditional writers and indies. It’s important to find out who is running the convention. They in turn can point you to the programming department. Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine has a regular convention calendar for North American cons. You can also check to see if your city has a local literary SF/fantasy society. If they do, there’s a very good chance members are involved in helping to run the local convention.

With our local convention, Orycon, I volunteered at the con in 2011 by going to the Green Room on Day 2 of the convention, and introducing myself to the programming chair, explaining that I was an indie author, as well as a librarian, and offering to be a stand-in if a particular panel was short a panelist.  It turned out there was a panel on scams and pitfalls for writing that had an opening.

Pointing out any particular expertise you possess, or background, or career outside of writing can be another way to be invited. If you were in the military, work in law enforcement, the sciences, computer industry, belong to a re-enactment society, etc. this can be of interest to attendees and programming committees alike and is really worth emphasizing.

Bear in mind that we’re discussing literary sci-fi and fantasy cons, and that media conventions and comic cons are different, typically having fewer panels. Literary sci-fi and fantasy cons can have well over a hundred panels in a three day weekend while media cons have fewer, and are usually more focused on media celebrities.

Writers conferences are a different, but a related kettle of fish, dealing with writing and publishing fiction. Check with the organizers about being a presenter — mention publishing credits, and also any related area of expertise. One of the indie presenters at our local writing conference had been an early success at Amazon and was something of an expert on Amazon’s recommendation engine. He spoke to a packed room of a hundred or so, and wound up with many of us on his mailing list.

What sorts of opportunities are opened up by speaking on panels?

You have the opportunity to speak to readers in public, first of all. Literary SF conventions are relatively small compared to Comic and Media cons, but you’re able to reach readers who might be interested in your work. You will have the opportunity to network with other writers, artists and editors that you are on panels with. Moreover being a panelist typically means wearing a ribbon identifying you as “guest”, or “speaker”, or “panelist,” which can be an ice breaker at a book launch or industry party being held at the convention.

There are also numerous networking opportunities with the other panelists, and other guests you may encounter after your panel concludes.

What sorts of topics are common at these panels? It seems natural that indies would be invited to speak on self-publishing, and perhaps blogging and book promotion, but what about the craft of writing fiction itself? Are indie authors taken seriously yet (and permitted to advise) by cons?

At literary SF and fantasy cons there are usually numerous panels on writing topics ranging from characterization to world-building, as well as panels on genre–say urban fantasy or steampunk, science panels, history etc, which is great way to showcase a particular expertise you might have. Writing topics would be a natural–I have been on several flash fiction panels, for instance. Emphasize your publishing credits and experience.

Have you found that some conferences are more amenable to featuring self-published authors than others?

I have! Like I said, I attended Renovation and Orycon and was invited to Chi-con. It really depends upon the organizers at this point in time. This past year’s Willamette Writers Conference featured several successful indie authors as speakers and a full slate of panels on self-publishing, SEO, the Amazon Recommendation engine, etc, much more so than when I last attended in 2009. Clearly Willamette Writers is aware of the growth in self-publishing and its potential.

On the other hand, I’ve heard from another successful indie author friend that her local writer’s conference had decided against having panels on indie topics, and instead focusing on traditional publishing. This same indie author friend was well received at her local literary SF convention, which goes to show how things can vary even in the same city, between organizations.

There seem to be a lot of conferences out there to choose from. Do you have any recommendations for authors?

There are indeed many conferences and conventions to choose from. First off, identify what your goal is in attending as an indie author. Do you want to network with other authors? Possibly meet fans and potential readers? Are you interested in leveraging your self-publishing success into a traditional publishing contract?

I met one successful sci-fi indie author at Willamette Writers who was pitching to agents and editors there. Writers conferences are a great place to network with other writers, as well as angle for a traditional publishing contract. For those staying indie, the networking would be the main reason. Literary sci-fi/fantasy cons can be great places to raise awareness of your writing by appearing on panels, as well as network with other writers.

Save for World Fantasy and Worldcon, agents and editors don’t attend in the numbers they used to. World Fantasy (being held in Brighton, England this year and D.C. next year) is a great place to meet other writers and authors. It’s low key, a limited panel track, lots of readings, and many opportunities to network. I met indie author Lorna Suzuki at World Fantasy San Diego in 2011 and we’ve become good friends since, and was fortunate to be interviewed at Lorna’s site about my indie published SF story “Persisting.” I also made several other friends there, and had the opportunity to meet a few short fiction editors as well as an editor from TOR Books.

Worldcon, held in San Antonio this year, is a great place to appear in front of a larger audience. If you have several books out and have been invited as a panelist it’s another way to raise your profile.

 Great news! Thanks, Dale!

***

 Dale Ivan Smith has his mother to thank for his love of science fiction and fantasy. When he was five, he glimpsed the cover of a paperback sci-fi novel she was reading and was immediately interested. (It had a giant radioactive spider on the cover.) When he was fifteen, she loaned him her collection of Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Barsoom novels and he devoured them in short order.

He got into trouble in grade school for sneaking off to the library during class, so naturally he wound up working as a librarian.

Dale’s stories are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords etc. He is currently working on season 1 of his superhero serial, Weed, scheduled for publication in 2013.

You can find him at: www.daleivansmith.com

And on Twitter: @daleivan

 

 

From Small Press to Self-Publishing with Laura Hunsaker

| Posted in Interviews / Success Stories |

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If you’re an author trying to decide between self-publishing and pursuing an offer from a small press, you may want to read today’s interview. We have Laura Hunsaker, someone I first noticed on Twitter because of the shirtless, muscular men strolling across her profile. As she says, “I write about Hunky Highlanders and Hottie Scotties. I create Steamy Time Travel Romances that warm up the night, and leave you craving more.” She started out with a small press but has recently jumped into self-publishing. I’ll let her tell you the how and why:

Interview with Laura Hunsaker

You published your first book, Highland Destiny, through a small press, right? Can you tell us a bit about the experience (i.e. what the publisher brought to the table and if you were pleased with how things went)?

At the time, I didn’t know another way, self-publishing has grown in leaps and bounds in the past few years. One thing I liked was that I had someone who read my manuscript and said, “Yes, we love this, we want to publish this.” It was awesome, since I was so new to the publishing world, to have someone willing to put forth the effort into my book. They knew what the audience would want, and helped me out with many of the niggling little questions I would think up at 3am.

One thing I didn’t like is that there was virtually no promo done. I did all of my own promo. Luckily I’ve been a book review blogger for a few years and was able to at least have a leg up on the reviewing aspect, but it made self-publishing that much easier, since I already did my own promo.

You’ve recently self-published a short story, Highlander Reborn. What made you decide to give the indie route a try?

Honestly, I was tired of waiting. I know that sounds lame, but seriously, I had a novella (Highland Games) that I submitted in the spring to 5 publishers, and as of now, I still haven’t heard back from 2 of them.

New Concepts Publishing asked for it (and they’d like to publish the whole Magic of the Highlands series) so it will release in December through NCP, but the point is that I’d still be waiting if I hadn’t accepted NCP’s offer.

In the meantime I had an 8K word short that I’d written for a submission call, and I was sort of annoyed at the publishing industry. So I asked around to a few authors and decided to go for it! It has been an amazing experience and I have been very happy with the results (and the lack of waiting).

Will you compare the two experiences for us? I imagine there are some things you liked about self-publishing and other things that having a publisher was nice for.

One thing that’s nice about being traditionally published is that so much is handled by the publisher, rather than the author.

With Highlander Reborn, I had to find an editor, find an image site, buy the image, hire a cover designer, and then format it. Ahh, formatting, the bane of my existence! Lol

With NCP all I had to do was write and then fill out an art form for my cover. But, at the same time, I accepted NCP’s contract in June and haven’t received edits or seen the cover yet.

I’m seeing more and more authors pursuing a hybrid model where they self-publish some of their titles and work with a traditional publisher for other stories. What do you think of this strategy? Do you think you’ll pursue such a route?

I think this is one of the smartest things authors can do. When you self-publish, you have so much more control over everything from cover to the release date. I loved the whole experience. In fact I’m already working on my next self-published novella and I can’t wait to talk to the cover artist again. Oh, but I will hire a formatter next time. I hated that part of self-publishing.

But it’s nice to have some things coming from a publisher as well. It can help create a fan base. There are readers who favor buying ebooks strictly from certain publishers, and publishers can get your works out to readers who might not otherwise have seen your book.

Why don’t you finish up by telling us what you’re working on next and, if you know, how you’re planning to publish it?

Sure! And thanks for having me. 🙂

I’m working on the next full length novel called Highland Betrayal for my Magic of the Highlands series, and that will be through New Concepts Publishing. But I’m also working on my next Nightkind novella that will be self-published.

 You can check out Laura’s work at Amazon or visit her site for more details and other book links. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

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