Friday, August 05, 2011

For less than the price of a large latte

Over the past few days, I have downloaded two books to my kindle which have helped to revitalise my interest in writing. Both from the micro-publisher Who Dares Wins. The first was Bob Mayer's newly revised take on the business of publishing and writing -- Write It Forward. One of the first things he suggests doing is revisiting your goals. I blogged a bit about this on my Fill the Well Friday column for PHS today.
The book is heavily biased towards micro-publishing and is not as slick as you'd expect from a more established publisher. There are a few copy editing errors (after ten I gave up counting) plus the formatting could have been better. The ease of jumping about the book in kindle was not there. I contrast this with the Brandilyn Collins which did allow me to jump between sections.
I also objected to some of his figures. With my publisher, Harlequin, 90% of first time authors do not fail. Harlequin is very careful in its selection and I would say a high proportion of the authors (maybe even as high as 90%) succeed in selling more than one book. Harlequin is looking to build authors and their careers. But I do accept other publishers are not as focused. But then Harlequin has always listened to its readers and seeks to fulfil that promise. They are choosy about the authors they take on. They have also have more unagented authors than the larger publishing houses. this is because Harlequin understands its product and does not need necessarily the agents' filtering system.
At one point Mayer also comments about how no one goes in and says that they want the latest Random House. Interestingly Mike Shatzkin made the same comment on his blog this week. For most publishers this may be true but not for all publishers. Harlequin has one of the most enviable brands in publishing. People do go in and grab the latest Harlequin. They speak about their Harlequins. Eventually they go for the individual author but they do tend to look with favour on the whole publisher in a way that no other publisher enjoys.  They have done so for years. It is one of the reasons why they are able to offer lower royalty rates for series (and why authors continue to chose them as their publisher) -- the author gets the benefit of the brand.
Ignoring the power of the Harlequin brand  or pretending it doesn't exist is wrong. Harlequin has carved out a good position in digital and that is mainly done to the intelligent forward thinking of the people at the top of Harlequin. They put the time and effort in early. They also continue to lead and innovate. They also produce a high quality product with tremendous attention to copy editing and formatting.  I also have every expectation that they will soon figure out a way to deliver their books by subscription to whatever device so their readers can get all the books in their chosen series on the first day of the month without having to individually preorder month after month. Amazon kindle has subscriptions for newspapers and magazines. They will get it for Harlequin, even if it is just the month that the books hit the retail market. *rant over*
I agree with Shatzkin and Mayer that the future is digital and that Content is King.
The book We Are Not Alone -A Writer Guide to Social Media by Kristen Lamb is a hugely practical guide to using social media without allowing it to overwhelm you. Again it has a few copy-editing errors but in the main is sound. It did give me some hints and tips. And if such things interest you, get the book.
For the price of two lattes, I have learnt a lot and become really refocused on my work. My editor is off on holiday and I will get the current wip finished before she gets back. It is my challenge!

1 comment:

Donna Alward said...

I'm reading the Lamb book right now, and getting Bob's book soon. :-)