Publishing Stress?

As far back as I can remember, I’ve been possessive of my time. I felt like my time actually belonged to me and I had the freedom to avoid anything that interfered with my concept of how my time should be used.

Unrealistic, huh? Undoubtedly.

One reason I quit teaching school was the impossibility of avoiding taking work home and having to use my personal time. Then there was the time I convinced myself I was doing the right thing leaving work at quitting time while everyone else was still working hard at what I apparently considered less important; I got in big trouble over that.

Retirement promised to give me plenty of free time to do only the things I consider important. Like writing full-time. However, I soon discovered that “writing full-time” and “spending all of my time writing” were not the same, and I couldn’t spend every hour of every day writing. I had to be open to other uses of some of my time.

I’ve continued to carefully evaluate any request for the use of my time, however, and I’ve had to convince myself that relaxing and doing nothing is justifiable–even necessary–some of the time. But I feel guilty if I spend too much time being non-productive.

My life seems pretty well balanced now–especially regarding time-related projects; if I don’t think I can finish something well before time, I’ll probably avoid doing it at all.

Last week, however, I started to wonder. I received email from the publisher of seven of my twelve novels: “Hey, I’ve noticed you’ve ventured into self-publishing. Do you want the rights back to the books I have or shall I keep them?”

At that stage, I’d independently published (used to be called “self-published”) ROSA NO-NAME and my three most recent teen novels. I’d thoroughly enjoyed doing the teen book cover designs, hopefully getting better with each one but definitely learning as I went. I even enjoyed working out the formatting of the content files.

Because marketing falls largely on the author’s shoulders and I haven’t been very good at it–yes, I think my time issue is part of the problem–I’ve felt guilty about not helping my two publishers see more of a profit from having me in their folds.

So taking on the re-publishing of seven novels would free me from that guilt and give me a chance to do something I really enjoyed by doing what was necessary to release those seven books myself. In such a timely way they wouldn’t temporarily be out of print.

My wife and I prayed and talked and we talked and we prayed. Sometimes God doesn’t seem to say yes or no, and this was one of those times. So, for the reasons given in the previous paragraph, we decided to proceed.

My publisher and I agreed she wouldn’t unpublish those books until the end of September. That meant I had a little over three weeks to do everything.

One little problem, though. We have an eight-day vacation between now and the end of the month. Yes, I’ll be taking my laptop, but the idea of having to work on this project then was not very appealing.

So I got right to work, spending a number of hours daily on this project.

The book cover designs were a challenge, but they ultimately didn’t take as much time as I’d feared, and I’m pleased with the results.

My publisher gave me her copy of the formatted content files, which was really great. I thought finishing up would be a breeze. Ha!

I soon realized I wanted certain things changed, and doing that in such a way KDP (Kindle Direct Processing) would accept and make look the way I expected turned out to be really tricky.  Not to mention more time consuming–I spent numerous hours getting rid of blank pages–than expected.

Because of vacation, I’ve really pushed to get everything done. I’ve just ordered proof copies of all seven books.  Unless they arrive before vacation, we’ll only have a couple of days to look over them before the end of the month.

I’ve barely started work on the Kindle versions, but that’s far less of a concern.

Was I wrong to be concerned about the possibility of those seven books being unavailable on Amazon at the very beginning of October? Especially considering how few people know about them or would be apt to buy any during a short blackout period.

Maybe I didn’t need to push so hard, but doing everything I could this far ahead of time is a real relief. And now I can focus on something else without stressing about whether I could get those books ready in time. Not to mention a publishing-free vacation.

(If you’re interested, compare the covers on the two graphics below.)

What about you? Are you sometimes involved in projects that you tend to stress about because of the time factor? How about sharing in a comment.

I’ll be back again next Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

     

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A Publishing God-Thing

I’m not inclined to believe in coincidences. I DO believe God sometimes works circumstances out in ways that may SEEM coincidental, however.

First a little back story. On February 17, I received a letter from Barbour Publishing. Barbour was the company that had published my first two books, FOUND IN TRANSLATION and LOST IN DREAMS. Wonderful folks to deal with. I had (and have) nothing but good to say about them.

Nonetheless, they were writing to tell me that not only were those books officially out-of-print, but they were reverting the rights to them back to me. I was free to do anything I wanted with them, including finding a publisher who’d be willing be re-release them.

None of that was bad news in and of itself. But it was HORRIBLE timing. I was just a month or so away from releasing my self-published ROSA NO-NAME, which I’d written ten years earlier as a prequel to FOUND IN TRANSLATION, and I’d been counting on ROSA and FOUND to promote one another. Although either book can be read first, each one is apt to make the reader interested in reading the other one.

Amazon still had a few print copies, but Barbour had Amazon remove the Kindle versions almost immediately. What was going to happen to my mutual promotion plans? Yes, I could self-publish those books, but I didn’t have any money left for professional cover design or editing after having those things done for ROSA. And preparing for ROSA’s release would’ve made it impossible for me to do that any time soon anyhow.

A VERY short time later, I responded to something I’d read on an email loop I belong to. Although my response had nothing to do with my out-of-print books, I “just happened” to mention my situation to the lady I was responding to. When she responded, she recommended her small publisher, Take Me Away Books.

Wow! Godsend idea or what? But I didn’t have time to get in touch with that publisher. I intended to when I had more time, however.

Just a few weeks later I was emailing this same author. But I had forgotten about telling her my problem. Whether she forgot about recommending her publisher earlier or not, I can’t say, but she recommended Take Me Away books all over again.

Okay, Lord! You don’t need to hit me in the head with a Bible.  I’m paying attention now. This is Your idea. It’s NOT a coincidence.

So on April 2 I emailed the owner of the publishing company–at least I think she’s the owner–and on April 5 she offered me a contract not only to republish FOUND IN TRANSLATION and LOST IN DREAMS, but also OVERSHADOWED, my intended third book in the Altered Hearts series that had been completed but not published and THE FLOWERS OF HIS FIELD (tentative title), the still-unwritten final book in the series.

After praying with my wife about it, we felt this was God’s answer. How could we question the “coincidence” of the twin recommendations of this publisher, the coincidence that wasn’t one?

My publisher works uber-fast. By the end of last week, FOUND IN TRANSLATION was available on Kindle again with a different cover, one Kathleen and I found and recommended as a really suitable cover image. Just a few days later, LOST IN DREAMS, which we’d requested to be renamed as A SEASON OF PEBBLES, was available on Kindle.

I’m currently editing and revising OVERSHADOWED with the intention of having it to her by the end of this week. That means it’ll be available on Kindle within a few days of the following week. (Print versions of these books will be available, too, but not as quickly.)

Some things in life may appear to be coincidences, but this whole story was a “Publishing God-Thing” and NOT a coincidence for sure.

Has anything happened in your life that might seem coincidental to others but you attribute to God’s working? How about sharing a comment?

 


         

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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

The Publishing Process

RogerAdvance

If you read my post this past Sunday, you know I said some very negative things about becoming a writer. Not that I wanted to discourage anyone who has real potential, but to challenge would-be authors to realize the fact that writing a book is a lot of work. And completing a rough draft is just the first of many milestones on the road to publication–or oblivion.

Today, I want to talk about some of what’s involved in having a book published the traditional way–as compared with self-publishing. With two novels published and a third coming out on November 25, I’ve had experience with both large and small publishers.

Although there’s a huge difference between the two, the goals of each are the same: to turn out good books and make money doing it. It would be foolish to criticize publishers for trying to make a profit; what good can they do anyone if they go bankrupt? I understand that only 20% of the books published today are sufficiently successful to pay for pay for themselves–and to pay for the 80% that are not.

No publisher–large or small–has found the secret to publishing only winners, but the larger companies don’t seem to be as willing to take a chance on newcomers as the smaller ones. So smaller presses are often the way for a new writer to go until he’s well established…and sometimes far beyond that if his experience with that company has been good.

Probably the biggest difference between the large publishers and the small ones is financial. Releasing a book costs many thousands of dollars. The larger publishers have deeper pockets, and they’re willing to spend what’s needed if they believe in a book, no matter how unpredictable the outcome may be.

Smaller publishers can’t afford to take as much of a chance. They must get as much mileage as they can from a much smaller money pool. No matter how much they believe in each book and hope and pray it will be a winner, they must keep their costs to a minimum.

Many small publishers now use POD (Print on Demand) to save the cost of printing and warehousing multiple copies of a book that may never sell. POD allows the smaller publishers to print one book at a time–as needed. The cost per book is higher, but if they can keep the word count of the books in their catalog at a reasonable level (for example, a maximum of 80,000 words), the cost isn’t more than most readers are willing to pay.

The larger publishers provide perks the smaller ones can’t afford. The most obvious are advances (an advance is like a salesman’s draw on commission) and free promotional copies of the book.

But the smaller publishers can offer authors appreciably higher royalties and allow the author to purchase copies of his book at a considerable discount. Moreover, their authors have the advantage of knowing their books will never go out of print. Not with each book existing only electronically somewhere rather than taking up valuable warehouse room.

My experiences with a larger and a smaller publisher have been good. Despite their differences, both turn out quality books, and that’s the bottom line. For me, anyhow.

Any questions? Comments? I’d love to hear from you.

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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on “As I Come Singing”–check it out HERE. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

Be on the lookout for my next novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, which releases on November 25. Check it out here on Amazon and pre-order a copy if you like.

Best regards,
Roger