Right now is the best time to be an author. However, it is also a very confusing and scary time for authors. Publishing has drastically changed as self-publishing has become a viable option for authors along with a variety of options in between traditional and pure self-publishing. The last three years we have seen incredible growth. Just this past January, Digital Book World did a survey that concluded that 1/3 of traditionally published authors wanted to try their hand at self-publishing. This is a huge shift in the last three years. The Hybrid Author, a term Bob coined back in 2011, is the face of the future. And the future of publishing is in developing partnerships.
It’s more important than ever that authors take control of their careers and their rights. The latest trend is agents as publishers. Many hybrid authors are very happy with this arrangement. There are intrinsic questions that have to be addressed in this arrangement such as:
- Is there a conflict of interest?
- Can an agent be a publisher?
- Does the agent have the experience in e-publishing?
- Does the agent have the infrastructure in-house to produce eBooks, which are organic or are they farming it out to contractors, which is more of a static relationship.
There are two basic philosophies with which we have built our business on: first, there are many roads to Oz and Oz means many things to different people, and second, writers create the product (which is story, not a book), readers consumer the product, and everyone in between must add value. Understanding these two concepts and incorporating them into your business plan as an author will give you the foundation to control your career going forward into the chaos of publishing.
Self-publishing is somewhat of an oxymoron. It is very difficult to do it truly alone. Ask those doing it. They’ve hire assistants, or gone into partnerships, or both. When we speak at conferences, someone always goes up to Bob and asks, “Where can I find my own version of Jen?” Perhaps the first book, maybe even the second can be self-published, but Content is KING and the number one priority for a writer is to write. Publishing for the Internet (whether it be in print or eBook) requires more than just slapping a nice book cover and uploading a file. Jen could go on for hours about formatting and HTML and how much she hates Word as a source file, but she’d put us all to sleep (Bob is currently rolling his eyes as he doesn’t care, he just wants to write). And then there is metadata, and that’s just not pricing and product description. There are keywords and figuring how the heck are people going to find your books because unless you are Nora Roberts, no one is googling your name. It’s great if you command the page when you Google your name, but it’s better if you command the page with a Keyword that people use in searches AND images of your books, author mug shot, etc. come up. This requires a little knowledge of SEO and also consumer behavior on the Internet. Jen is in her glory right now, but Bob is going to shut her down. You get the point.
At every conference we attend there is a sense of fear in the air. Fear from authors that they will make the ‘wrong’ decision. The only wrong decision is not to make one. Green Berets have been called the “Masters of Chaos”. In the heat of battle, which is chaos, Special Forces are trained to excel. Bob brought this training and experience into the digital world and applied with his mantra and program: Who Dares Wins. That’s a great motto for any writer these days.
Once you can clearly define what Oz means, then you figure out how to get there. Without a roadmap, you are likely to get lost.
This brings us to our second philosophy, writers produce the product, readers consume the product and everyone in the middle has to add value.
Agents have always played an important role in an author’s career. This role is changing and agents are adapting, making sure they add value to the author’s career, as the agent works for the author, not the other way around. In the past, it was nearly impossible to sell to anyone other than Harlequin without an agent. The agent’s job was to get you the best ‘deal’ possible. Writer’s relied on their agents to basically manage their careers and their publishers to promote their books. Once again, the Internet changed all this. More and more of the promotion is falling on the author. And now that digital publishing is possible, and the royalty rates compared to NY are so much higher, authors are finding themselves in quandary.
When it comes to working with an agent, you have to ask yourself, what value is this agent adding to my career? How are they helping me get to my definition of Oz? If you are a hybrid author, things like managing foreign rights come to mind, or helping authors get the right deal for their traditionally published books, making sure the author can still self-publish while also writing for another publisher.
Agents often focus more on the advance, and in the print industry, the advance is where the money is. But this is changing as advances diminish, print runs decrease, and physical shelf-space disappears. No one wants to see another bookstore go out of business, but as professional authors, we have to be prepared for changes.
When making the decision to go with a publisher, the same questions need to be asked. Print distribution is still something to consider. It’s just another way to reach readers and for as long as stores stock books, it’s a viable option. But, and this is the beauty of it, it’s not the only option.
Contracts are a big issue with publishers. Most are boilerplate, and most aren’t that great. They are slanted toward the publisher, and many publishers won’t negotiate. We want to be published, but is giving up all our rights the way to go? One of the great things about today’s environment is that authors have the ability, because this is still a metrics system, to negotiate depending on how their self-publishing books are doing.
If there is a direct line between the author (producer) and reader (consumer) then why do we need agents or publishers? What value do they add to the process? This is a question individual authors must answer for themselves.
In fact, this is the last key to leave you with: when the music industry imploded from the onslaught of digital downloads, those who survived and prospered did so one of two ways: they either went on tour (not likely for authors) or they controlled the rights to their music. This is critical for authors. We have already seen, and will see more of, the selling of author contracts between publishers. And with each sale, the author’s royalty slice gets smaller and smaller. The most critical career decision to consider right now is signing any form of contract and what that will mean three, four, five or more years down the line. Balance the short-term gain against the long-term.
Because the only certainty in the future of publishing is that it will look very different three years from now.
What does Oz mean to you? How will you get there? Who will help you get there and how do they add value?
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.
- 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 series: Bodyguard 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.