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We’re Looking For A Few Good Writers

The publishing world is moving faster and faster as it becomes digital.  At Who Dares Wins Publishing, we’ve embraced the digital world, but also realized that the creative world isn’t moving as fast as the technology allows and readers are starting to demand product quicker than we can produce it.  Since we already exceeded our year-end 2011 goals by June, we’ve redone our business plan and are ready to take the next step.

In traditional publishing, you were considered odd if you published more than one book every twelve months.  In fact, one of the reasons I wrote under four different pen names was I was writing faster than my publishers could handle.  The due dates in my contracts were always spaced a year apart.

That’s all changed.  In the past year we’ve uploaded 20 years worth of my backlist along with several new titles.  The result has been fantastic, with sales of over 100,000 eBooks a month.  I’m currently going through the last book in the nine book Area 51 series: Legend and  the 8th, Area 51 Nosferatu is uploading on all platforms.  I’ve still got to go through the second book in the Psychic Warrior series, the first of which has just been uploaded exclusive to Nook and our web site.  (If you’ve seen Men Who Stare at Goats—yes, a program like that existed, I was affiliated with it, and it wasn’t that funny, but it was intriguing).

But here’s the problem.  I’ve got several different series that readers want new titles in.  There’s simply not enough time in the year for me to write all those books.  I’ve prioritized which ones I’ll be writing and I’ll still be working on the same schedule I did with traditional publishing:  no more than four titles a year, most likely only three.

Thus:  we’re looking for a few good writers to move some of these series forward with new books.

Let me lay this out clearly so you know our parameters, what’s expected, and have a realistic view of what will happen.

Parameters:  Writer Qualifications:

  • Have been published traditionally or have experienced substantial sales in self-publishing.
  • Have your own backlist you have self-published or want us to publish for you at the highest rates in the business or that your traditional publisher controls and is selling.
  • Have a social media presence and understand how to market and promote yourself, your books and any books in our series you write.
  • Be able to write action/science fiction/thrillers.
  • Be able to take story lines and characters that already exist (in some cases invent new characters and story lines using an existing back story) and move them forward.
  • Be willing to read all the existing books in a series.
  • Be willing to work with me on developing a story outline. (in many case we have ideas and in some cases story outlines already developed).
  • Be willing to write an outline and two sample chapters on spec before getting the final go-ahead and contract.
  • Write the story and be willing to work together on revisions.
  • For Black Ops/Cellar/Green Beret, practically all the books, be able to write the semi-paranoid mindset of the covert operative.
  • For the science fiction series, be able to write high-tech scifi.

Writer compensation:

  • Participation in established series written by a NY Times Bestselling author where the titles are still selling solidly.
  • 33% of gross royalties earned, paid out quarterly by the 15th of the following month.
  • Co-author cover credit.
  • I’ll be launching Readers Rule shortly, a cooperative of several bestselling eBook authors that will generate publicity.

The reality:  no money up front.  You’re working for the future.  I can’t guarantee income rates but as we decide on each series, I will tell you what the books are averaging in sales per month, so you can get an idea of what you might be earning.  The key to this is the long tail.  You’re doing the work up front, but as long as we push these series forward, and we get more titles up, your income will continue to grow.  So, if you’re looking for money now, this isn’t the deal for you.  We’re also looking for books to be around 50,000 to 60,000 words so we’re not looking for the usual 80-100k novels.  They will be priced between $2.99 and $3.99 on all platforms (earning 70% royalty rate and 100% from our web site).  Other than the writing and revising we take care of everything else, from editing, covers, formatting, etc. although we would expect you to assist in marketing via social media since your name will be on it.  Besides earning money on the long tail, this could assist sales of your own titles.

Here are the series we’re looking to co-author:

  • Chasing series.  (Chasing the Ghost.  Horace Chase as the protagonist).  We have a concept for the next book and partial outline already:  Chasing The Dead.
  • The Cellar seriesBodyguard of Lies and Lost Girls.  We have a concept for the next book about the Cellar, the organization that polices the world of covert operations.
  • The Green Beret series:  We’re looking to launch a brand new Green Beret series set in the current day, so in this case characters and plot are wide open, as long as a Special Forces A-Team is at the center of the story. If you’ve watched The Unit, you have an idea what we’re looking for.
  • The Black Ops series:  Taking characters from The Gate, particularly, Lake, we want to extend the series about a counter-terror operative working inside of the United States.  Several story ideas have already been generated along with outlines.
  • Psychic Warrior:  The first book has just been published for the first time in eBook.  Psychic Warrior Project Aura will be out later this year.  We want to extend this series about Special Forces soldiers operating on the virtual plane via avatars than can come into the real world.
  • Archangel:  A concept only, but it would tie to our Area 51, Atlantis, and new Nightstalker series.  High tech scifi with a literary base.
  • Area 51 and Atlantis series.  These are our real money-makers, but the reality is I ‘closed out’ both series in their overall arc.  However, if you’ve read the series and have ideas for spinoffs, we’re open to that. Area 51 has the possibility of moving forward as Earth helps other Airlia seeded planets, and Atlantis also has the same possibility as our timeline saves other timelines.

Additionally, we’re looking for one or two authors who have extensive backlist who want to make the plunge into self-publishing but don’t want to do all the heavy lifting themselves and want to be part of our team.  We offer the highest royalty rates off gross in the business, do all the work, charge no fees, and also do direct sales from our automated web site.  Our experience in e-publishing is extensive.

If you are interested, send us an email:  admin@WhoDaresWinsPublishing.com or visit our submission page and attach all necessary information.

Please give links to your backlist as published, or if it isn’t back in print, or held by a traditional publishing houses, links to your titles.  Your background for the series you think you could write and any other pertinent information.

Thanks and Write It Forward.

DFW Conference: A Panel Discussion on ePublishing, Self-Publishing and the Future

I participated on a panel at the DFW Writer’s Conference with Russell C. Connor of Dark Filament Books another self-published author, Mark Hollingsworth, a Pubit Representative and Sharene Martin-Brown of Ampichellis eBooks, a former literary agent turned publisher. This was my very first experience on a panel and could very well one of my best experiences’ at a conference ever. The topic was epublishing, self-publishing and digital publishing.

We began by introducing ourselves, our respective companies and why we chose this particular publishing path. Then we opened it up to floor for questions. It was a lively group and they had a lot of excellent questions.

While we on the panel all came from very different publishing backgrounds, we all agreed on three basic points that authors need to consider and educate themselves on before entering the world of self-publishing.

The first is that every author must have a plan. Russell was the first author to mention this and both myself and Sharene nodded vigorously. Sharene has a unique viewpoint because she helped guide many writers in the world of traditional publishing as an agent and now she is publishing them. Mark from Pubit agreed. Simply putting a book up for sale doesn’t mean it will sell.

This is something Bob has been preaching for years and is one of the reasons he started Warrior Writer. Everyone teaches us how to write, but no one teaches us how to be an author and how to manage our business. When it comes to writing, all authors are asked if they are plotter or pantser. However, does anyone ever ask you if you are a plotter or pantser when it comes to your business? Writing is a business. It’s the author’s business. There is no such thing as flying by the seat of your pants. You must have a plan if you are to succeed. Bob and I are constantly revisiting our plan and making adjustments as we learn what works and what doesn’t. The last post Bob mentioned our promotional price drop for Atlantis and Chasing The Ghost to .99 and the effect it had on sales. We didn’t just one day wake up and say, hey lets drop our prices. We discussed it… at length… for what seems like the entire time we have been in business together. It came down to whether or not we could achieve the desired result of hitting the Amazon best-seller lists, and it worked. We are currently studying buying patterns (as much as we can without going crazy) so that we can modify our business plan accordingly when the time is right to increase the “sale” price back to our retail price.

The second is cover. We have discussed this in great detail here at Write It Forward. The panel agreed it had to pop in thumbnail and had to be done professionally. Mark from Pubit mentioned size requirements before a cover could be uploaded. This is important because if you don’t have the right JPEG size, the cover won’t load, and without a cover, you won’t see the desired results when it comes to sales. Russell also brought up author branding by using the identical font and style for his name every time he publishes a book. This is something we have considered at Who Dares Wins Publishing and just today we did our first mock-ups for the Duty; Honor; Country trilogy we will be releasing on 12 April 2011 to commemorate the start of the Civil War. However, we have more authors to consider along with more genres. When we changed the covers for Bodyguard of Lies and Lost Girls we made sure they were tied closely together by using a base color along with a base font and background photograph. When our Write It Forward line comes out, you will see a base font, a base picture (or logo) but the difference will be in the color so it’s easy to tell the books apart.

Again, it wasn’t something we just decided to do. We looked closely at what we wanted to achieve with our covers and planned accordingly.

Finally, this self-publishing thing isn’t as easy it appears to be. It’s a full time job and learning all the various platforms, conversions, covers, promoting and continuing to produce more product all takes time and skill. A big issue an author faces is there no uniformity in file formats. It is argued that ePub is taking the lead, which is what Pubit and the iBookstore uses, while the mobi file is what Kindle uses. Personally, ePub is probably better, but our Kindle sales are often double what they are on other platforms.

This is why Bob and I created a team, and are currently looking into expanding that team. During the conference, I spoke to potential new authors and  PR person. Meanwhile, back on an island off the coast of Seattle Bob is working hard on the first non-fiction book for the Write It Forward line (How To Get The Most Out of a Writers’ Conference) and finishing up the final touches to his Civil War Trilogy we plan on publishing this April. Self-publishing is both time intensive and requires some overhead.

The bottom line is authors have a choice about how and where they want to publish their work. It’s not NY or bust anymore. However, the key to success as an indie author is four-fold.

  1. Content: You must write the better book.
  2. Have a career plan: Know exactly what it is you want and why.
  3. Education: Lean as much as you can about every facet of publishing. Pay close attention to what you are getting and what is required of you before making any decisions.
  4. Promotion: Without it, you wont’ sell your books, it’s just that simple.

Write It Forward.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Cover Design: Publishing Lesson #1

A good cover can make or break a book, especially for on-line buying. In a bookstore, most books are racked spine out, so author name sometimes means more. Readers can pick up your book, thumb through, get a feel for story and writing and then decide. On-line, readers see your cover. It has to say, “buy me, I’m a good book” to the reader. If it doesn’t, why would they take the time to possibly download a sample, or even look at product description? The changes in publishing have given the author many great opportunities and self-publishing is a viable option. However, self-publishing requires the author to make a few major decisions, and one of those decisions is cover.

You have a couple of options. You can do it yourself or your can hire a cover artist. There are many programs out there to choose from. There are many do it yourself programs, free programs, even programs that come with your computer that can create cover design. Even Word has the capability of designing a basic cover, but will the cover be good enough to invite the reader in?   The question you have to ask yourself is it worth your time and energy to do it “right”. Hiring someone to do your covers can run as low as $50.00 and as high as $600.00.

This is not an easy decision, especially when you factor in other costs that go into making an eBook available to the reader. We made the decision to invest in the proper tools to do it ourselves because we had the design background, and the technical ability. We purchased the complete InDesign package from Adobe ($1,299.00) partly for the ability to create covers for on-line purchasing, but also because it made it much easier to create the full-jacket cover for our print-on-demand books and for web design.

Even with the proper tools we made a few cover mistakes along the way.

Publishing Mistake #1: Always Judge a Book by its Cover.

This cover sucks. Actually, every single one of the original Atlantis Covers was a disaster except for Assault on Atlantis, which remained almost identical as the original. So why does it suck and why did it make sense to change?

First. It’s too dark. I don’t mean color scheme because you can have a black cover that isn’t bad, but this cover lacks contrast. The color scheme is too similar. The letters and background blend together. If you have a dark background, you want letters that stand out. If you have a light background, you want letters that will pop.

Second. Do you know what the object is in the background? I know Bob does. I’m not going to tell you. You all can guess. Though, if you read the book, you probably know. Point is, what does this cover mean to the reader? I say this cover almost says pass me by.

Third. Logo. Wow. What were we thinking? I know we thought we were being brilliant when we put our very first logo on all our covers for them to stick out like a sore thumb. For those observant readers, you will notice here at Write It Forward we now have a new header. That look will be added to the Who Dares Wins Publishing website. I’ll get into that change in another publishing lesson. The point here is that the logo adds absolutely nothing to the cover. As a matter of fact, it takes a way from the already bad cover, making it worse.

If you were in traditional publishing it would be too bad, suck it up, go promote it’s the only cover you’re going to get. If you had hired someone, you’re be paying them to redo it. If you did it yourself, you’d be redoing it.

So what is best? I recommended if you don’t have the knowledge of basic design and design programs (for example how layers work) then hire someone. It’s why I do the covers and Bob doesn’t.

Publishing Correction #1.

The content of the book has not changed. However, the cover changed drastically. Why is this a good cover?

First. It has contrast. The color of the letters, while still complement the background, are bold and pop of the page. The background is vibrant and alive. It’s inviting. It doesn’t look dark and drab and boring. Yet, it is a very simple cover. Simple is often better.

Second. The cover says something about the book. Actually, it says something about the entire series, which involves the Bermuda Triangle, the Devil’s Sea and other strange and eerie places. It invites the reader to take a look inside and see if they are interested in the content. This is critical regardless of whether you are in a store thumbing through all the books in this particular section, or browsing on line trying to find a good read. A good cover can make or break you. We found when we changed the cover, our sales improved.

Third. No distracting white rectangle that means nothing to the reader.

While editing this post, I realized this cover still has one minor flaw. Every thing is centered. We’ve learned that alignment is another aspect you need to consider when designing a cover. Is it time to change it? No.

Publishing Lesson #1.

There is a time when it’s best to leave well enough alone. For a long time the first cover was it. It wasn’t until I had finished with the 6th and final cover in this series that we realized we had a problem. Not all of the books were in print at that time. We knew that it would cost us to make the upgrade and the book had already earned out and beyond. Our business had grown and we had a different set of tools to work with, specifically InDesign by Adobe which allowed me to create covers that I didn’t have the capability before. After much discussion, we began the revamping process. It took at least 6 more tries before we got to this one. Change was necessary, and unlike traditional publishing when it comes to covers after book release, non-traditional publishing allows us to make this change. However, timing is important as well as not rushing things. We had to get it right, and this time we did.

This brings me to a question for all our readers out there. The Bodyguard of Lies cover has gotten some negative feedback. Some readers thought the cover was boring. Too simple. We were aiming for simple and we wanted it to match the Lost Girls cover, which so far, I haven’t heard anything negative regarding Lost Girls. So my question to you is, is it time for us to change this cover? Don’t hold back. Tell us what you think.

Write It Forward!

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