Publish, then filter

In last week’s post on Risktaking and Gatekeepers, we talked about some of the changes in publishing and how they impact Alaskan authors. The good news is that we authors have lots of options. Yay, autonomy. Bad news: we have lots of sifting and sorting and decisions to make. Boo, more work.

Swapping ideas and experiences is no mere diversion for the serious writer. It’s crucial to discerning not only the best ways to bring our books to market, but also to determining the best ways to bring markets to our books. If the model for our profession is truly moving from “filter, then publish,” to “publish, then filter,” as quoted in Bransford’s blog last week, then we need to reorient our thinking and also our energy.

As Ned Rozell shared in his comment about Amazon’s CreateSpace, authors can shed a whole lot of frustrations when they take control of the publishing process. I’m wondering what other options our readers have tried. Experiences or thoughts on Harper’s Authonomy site? How about the new Namelos evaluation and placement service for children’s authors? And what’s your take on the suggestion in a recent New York Times piece that we may soon have more writers than readers?

7 thoughts on “Publish, then filter”

  1. Andromeda Romano-Lax

    Re: not only this post but your last one on the same topic, we still haven’t really dissected HOW our readers will find us, or how that abundance of published books will be filtered.

    I, for one, would like to hear more about Ned Rozell’s Amazon publishing adventure — i.e. what is the quality of the physical book itself? Are readers stumbling across it on amazon, looking for it; how are his sales comparing with his regular publisher sales? If Ned or anyone else who has published with Amazon has any experiences to share, please do.

  2. The book is of acceptable quality to me. Cover always looks great, black and white photos inside vary, but they are good enough. Text is always dark enough and easy on the eyes.

    My sales vs. my regular publisher. Can’t tell you what Alaska Northwest sells of my first title, but Amazon alerts me every time I sell one of the new book, and they direct deposit my bank account every month. Much more accountable, much larger cut, and less mysterious.

    Readers find it by hitting my blog after seeing the endnote on my column in AK mag. Or they just stumble on it. Most of the time, I’m not sure. But I know it feels good to log on at the end of the day and see I’ve sold three books.

    I haven’t done anything to market it other than mention it in my AK endnote. But I like the feeling that it’s out there now, so a reader in Des Moines can order it while I’m sleeping. And he has.

    Note also that my experience is different than many who will read this. The two publishers with whom I’ve worked made me wonder why I needed them at all.

  3. I am currently formatting my out of print novels for sale via the iTune iPhone app. I thought about uploading them to Amazon for sale on the Kindle, and then I looked at the numbers. So far as anyone can tell, because Bezos won’t say, there have been an estimated 500,000 Kindles sold. Over ten million iPhones have been sold. Sheer weight of numbers pushed me toward iPhone, along with an author friend with another friend who had built the app. The author friend, Michael Stackpole, told me he was pulling down enough a month from iPhone book sales to pay his health insurance premium. Mine, too. Plus his sister wrote the contract. That was enough for me. With any luck, my first iPhone books will be for sale on iTunes this time next week.

    The problem is promotion. A traditionally published book has the weight of the publisher and the distributor behind it. The iTunes App Store books page, in a word, sucks. Ugly, user unfriendly in the extreme and the books that show up on the page are the ones most recently posted for sale.

    The good news is that you can right click on the title in the app store and grab a link, which you can then use for promotion through your website, your newsletter, your Facebook page, Goodreads, any online group to which you belong.

    Authors are going to have to suck it up and get proactive, we have to find and adapt to new markets and new marketing strategies. If we want to make a living at this we have no other choice. Our publishers and agents and distributors and bookstores and reviewers are all frantically paddling to keep their financial heads above water while as frantically trying to reinvent themselves as paying entities in cyberspace.

    This is a fraught time, but it is also a time of tremendous opportunity. It’s terrifying, and it is tremendously exciting.

  4. Andromeda Romano-Lax

    Ned, Thanks for telling us more.

    And Dana — I’d never even heard about the iTune iPhone app. (And I still don’t quite understand it but I’d better catch up!)Thanks so much for helping inform your fellow Alaska authors and all of us interested in the evolution of books.

  5. Andromeda Romano-Lax

    P.S. if you’re out there:

    Ned, did you have to pay some kind of startup fee to amazon, per project? Did you have to supply the pages in designed form, or did they do it for you?

    Dana, people are actually going to be reading your entire books off iPhone? I’ve seen a Sony Reader but I haven’t seen a book on iPhone. Or is this the audio version?

    Hoo-boy. Lots to catch up on. I was just feeling happy to notice that my own novel was made available on Kindle the other day. But I have no idea whether or how many potential sales will result.

  6. They already are reading books on iPhones. The Stephanie Meyers’ phenom Twilight is one of their bestsellers.

  7. Good stuff, Dana. Evolution is upon us.

    Andromeda: No setup fees for createspace. The author supplies two PDFs. Front and back cover on one. Inside layout on another. Then they send you a proof, you approve or fix, done and done. They take a measly cut of the cover price, and sell you copies cheap (my $16.95 book costs me $2.67).

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