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How to Get Your Book Published in 2021

The all you need to know guide. Getting a book published, even your first book – that sounds like it should be pretty do-able, right? And so it is, but the publishing industry is (inevitably) pretty complex, and can generate massively different outcomes depending on the choices you are about to make. In the same way, you might want to be a professional musician … but does that mean you do a paid gig in a local bar? Or get signed by a massive record label? In this blog post, we will weigh up the options and show you how you could get your book published. It’s possible to get published for free, and it’s also perfectly achievable even if you are a first time author. It’s also true that the publishing industry has got way more complex since the rise of Amazon and all that went along with that. That complexity is confusing, for sure, but it’s also good. The fact is there are more routes to publication than ever before in history. You just need to pick the route that works for you. And that’s what this post is all about. We’ll tell you: What your options areWhich option is right for youWhat the pros and cons are, andHow to access the particular publishing route of your choice If you need extra info on any topic, we’ll direct you to a resource that gives you everything you need. Oh – and you probably want to know about me. Well, I’m Harry Bingham. I’ve been traditionally published all over the world, with in the company of the world’s top #3 trade publishers. Furthermore, I’m the founder of Jericho Writers, so I’ve helped literally hundreds of writers just like you through to publication, so I know exactly what’s involved for a writer like you. But I’m not just about traditional publishing. I’ve also self-published (and love it.) I’ve sold fiction and non-fiction. I’ve sold full-length manuscripts and skinny-as-you-like book proposals. I’ve also had experience of plenty of other publishing routes. And this post is going to tell you EVERYTHING. So: How to get your book published in 2021: Traditional publication, via a literary agentTrad publication, but without an agentTrad publication, via a book proposalTrad publication, via a micro-publisherSelf-publishing on AmazonPublishing via a digital-first publisherPublishing via APub, Amazon’s publishing armPublication via a vanity publisherPublication via a print/design companySelf-publishing leading to a trad dealCrowd-fundingPublishing via a social platform That’s a lot to get through, so buckle up and read on … Option 1: How To Publish A Book Via A Literary Agent And A Large Traditional Publisher What\'s Involved? The “Big 5” traditional publishers (outfits like Penguin RandomHouse or HarperCollins) dominate the world of trade publishing. They have huge financial resources. They have huge marketing and sales reach. They already publish a stellar list of names. And they reach right across the English-speaking world – so in that sense getting published in the US is much the same kind of process as getting published in the UK or Australia … and quite likely with the same group of firms involved as well. Obviously, those big publishers need to acquire material to publish, so they go out and buy it. They buy manuscripts (ie: novels or non-fiction which haven’t yet been turned into actual books). They buy those manuscripts off authors in return for an upfront cash advance. That advance is highly variable – think anywhere from $5,000 to $100,000+ for a book – and will be supplemented by royalties if sales are sufficient to ‘earn out’ the advance. And the publisher isn’t just there to write the checks. They are also there to sell your book, which they do by: Working on the manuscript editorially. That’ll normally involve a structural edit, a copy edit, and a proof read – layers of editing that in turn fix story, then typos/clarity, then a final check before printing. (More on types of editing.)Designing cover art and preparing the book for production. Books are normally produced in four formats (hard cover, paperback, e-book, audio)Selling the book to bricks & mortar retailers. Retailers – such as Barnes & Noble in the US or Waterstones in the UK don’t automatically stock all books that are printed. Far from it. So arguably the key part of a publisher’s job is to convince specialist retailers (basically bookstores) and generalist ones (notably supermarkets) to order and stock the book. Ideally, your book will be entered into promotions, that place your book in the most visible store locations and with an attractive price reduction.Selling the book via online retailers. Although Amazon pretty much does stock every book out there, publishers still have to persuade Amazon (and Apple, and Kobo, and so on) to promote your book as much as possible. That means your book will start popping up in “deal of the day” or “recommended for you” type promotions.Marketing the book. That will probably involve a mixture of traditional publicity (such as newspaper interviews and book signings) and digitally driven campaigns, probably involving social media, email marketing and perhaps some use of pay-per-click advertising. To most writers, all that sounds pretty good, but – no surprise – there’s a catch. The catch, quite simply, is that your book has to be pretty damn good, because there’s a hell of a lot of competition out there and publishers are only interested in buying the very best crime books / romances / diet books and whatever else. So how to publishers find those amazing books in the first place? Well, the shortest answer is that they focus nearly all the efforts on the manuscripts that come to them via a literary agent. Literary agents are basically salespeople who sell manuscripts from writers like you to the big publishers. They don’t charge any kind of upfront fee for that service; they take a commission on sales made, typically 15%. Just to emphasise that point: agents cost nothing until they make you money. So (setting aside all your trouble and effort in writing the damn thing), with the agent/publisher route to publication you will get your book published for free. Not even free actually: you’ll be paid. You won’t be expected to buy your agent coffees or fund the cover illustration or anything like that. When I wrote my first novel, I didn’t spend a single penny (other than for paper and ink and stamps – we used all those things in those days.) Next thing I knew: people were offering me six-figure sums for my work. OK. So agents are good; they make sales; they work on commission. But it gets better. In addition to that basic sales activity, literary agents also: Offer you editorial advice to help you get your manuscript in shape for saleRun the auction processNegotiate the resulting contractSupervise the publishing  process, advise you on it, and act as your bull terrier if any conflicts ariseSell other rights, such as foreign language rights, audio (if not part of the original deal), and film and TV rights. In short, a good literary agent will end up making you far, far more than the cost of that 15% commission, so you should have no hesitation in working with an agent, if you get the chance. Because the Big 5 publishers publish all types of work – adult novels, children’s novels and plenty of non-fiction too – literary agents work with all these things too. Most agents aren’t that specialist either. Yes, a children’s literary agent may exclusively work with children’s books, but most literary agents for adult work will work with novels and non-fiction. In that sense, how your publish a novel (for example) works exactly the same as publishing any other type of book. How Do You Get An Agent? If you’re getting a book published for the first time, you need an agent. And the only really difficult step in getting an agent is the very first one: you have to write an absolutely superb book. Remember that, as a rough guide, a literary agent is likely to take about 1 manuscript in every 1000 that they come across. If you’re writing a spy story, your work will be competing head-to-head against John Le Carre, Tom Clancy and every other great spy novelist out there. So your manuscript has to excel. It has to dazzle. It has to be wonderful. But let’s assume you’ve already got a great manuscript, what then? The steps you need to follow are these: Generate a longlist of literary agents. You’re looking for agents who are taking on new clients and who are interested in work in your genre. You can find a full list of literary agents here for the US and here for the UK. If you sign up for AgentMatch (free trial here), you can use simple tools to filter by genre, client, and more.Whittle that down to a shortlist of 10-15 names. To generate your shortlist, just go through your longlist and look for possible points of contact. An agent represents one of your favourite authors? They’re a keen rider and your book is set in a racing stable? The agent has Irish ancestry and your book is about Irish emigrants in the 1920s? Any of those gives you a good reason to pop the agent onto your shortlist. (Oh, and why only 10-15 names? If you send your material out to about a dozen agents and don’t get a positive response, that’s a pretty damn good signal that your manuscript is not yet strong enough to get a book deal – in which case, getting third party editorial feedback probably needs to be your next step.)Write a query letter. That tells that agent why you’re writing (you’re seeking representation), what your book is and who you are. It’s easy to write a great query letter. Just follow the advice and look at a sample query letter here.Write a synopsis. A synopsis basically summarises your story, and it’s a quick way for an agent to get a handle over whether the basic structure of your story feels OK. A synopsis can be a nightmare to put together, but it doesn’t have to be that way. All the advice you need, plus a good example of a synopsis, can be found right here.Double-check your opening chapters. Most agents want you to send them some sample chapters along with the query letter and synopsis. Typically, those sample chapters will need to be the first 3 chapters of your book, or about 10,000 words. So make sure that opening chunk is looking great. Tips on presenting your manuscript right here. Tips on the commonest errors in first time novels can be found here.Send your submission pack out to your shortlisted agents. You need to allow about 8 weeks for agents to read and decide on your submission. And, sorry to say, but loads of agents don’t even have the courtesy to send out a “sorry, but no” email if they are rejecting a manuscript, which means that you have to work on the assumption that, after 8 weeks, no news is tantamount to rejection. At this point, you have other won – you’ve been offered representation, in which case, congratulations. Your path to publication is now in the hands of a very experienced professional, and you should be fine from here. If there are problems en route to getting published (and, believe me, there will be), your agent should be able to guide you. (For what it’s worth, I’d guess that agency representation leads to a publishing deal in about two thirds of cases. Your mileage may very though – this number varies widely.) Or you’ve lost – that is, you have no offers of representation, and not even any close misses. In that case, you really need to go back to your manuscript, figure out why agents aren’t getting excited by it, and then fix whatever needs fixing. The best way to do that is by getting pro editorial help, of the sort that we at Jericho Writers can offer. But there’s a middle ground too, where you haven’t quite won but you haven’t quite lost either. That’s the ‘nice rejection’, often where an agent asks for your full manuscript but ends up, reluctantly declining. If you’re in that category, then it’s GOOD NEWS. The fact is, you’re in a zone where some editorial work really should ping you over the line. Again, we can help. We have a whole bunch of resources available if you want to pursue these topics further. (Clue: yes, you definitely do.) Free resources: List of all literary agents in the US List of all literary agents in the UK How to get a literary agent Do literary agents charge fees? Do literary agents edit manuscripts? How to write a query letter How to write a synopsis All your literary agent questions answered Additional resourcesThese resources are for Jericho members only. Not a member? Then join us. Behind the scenes at a Big 5 publisher (feature length film) Interviews with literary agents Diana Beaumont, Kate Burke, Piers Blofeld Finally, we have a complete course on how to get your book published – and not just published, period, but published well, published successfully. That course (here) is costly to buy but it’s free to members. Do consider joining us if you need that further help. What Kind Of Writer/book Is Right For This Publication Option? The first question is whether or not you want to pursue traditional publication. Trad publication will suit you, if: You are writing literary fiction or one-off non-fiction (eg: memoir)You are writing genre fiction but aren’t super-prolific (eg: you don’t want to write more than a book or two a year)You want the kudos of traditional publicationYou want to be sold via physical bookstores, as well as via AmazonYou want a shot at newspaper book reviews, book signings, radio and newspaper interviews etcYou don’t want the hassle of self-publishing If that sounds like you, then traditional publishing should certainly be your goal. The next question is whether you need an agent. You basically have to have an agent, if: You are writing fiction, for adults, young adults, or childrenYou are writing mainstream non-fiction (of the sort that might sit on those front-of-store tables in a large bookstore)You are writing specialist non-fiction in a big, rich category (such as diet or cookery, for example) If your book is very niche, your likely advice is small, which means an agent’s 15% won’t be especially tempting. In all those cases, you can forget about getting a literary agent and just proceed to option 2, which is traditional publication, but without a literary agent. Pros And Cons The advantages of trad publication are: You get an advanceYou get some experienced professionals handling the production, sale and marketing of your workYou have a literary agent to guide your journeyYou have all the kudos and other pleasures of traditional publication: you will have become a published author and will have earned all the respect of your new role. I bow to thee. The disadvantages are: You lose control over your intellectual property – you’ve sold it, remember? The book now belongs to the publisher, not to you.It’s harder to make a living as a trad author than it is as an indie one. Watch our YouTube video on author incomes here.Traditional publishing is a bit of a crap-shoot. Most bestsellers are made via huge supermarket sales, but there are many fewer supermarket slots than there are books, and the process by which supermarkets choose which books to stock is scarily random (for newbie authors, at least.)Traditional publishing isn’t so great at publishing on Amazon. You can see my thoughts on that (via Publishers Weekly) here. Option 2: Get Published Via A Traditional Publisher, But Without A Literary Agent What\'s Involved? The actual publication process is exactly the same as for Option 1 – so everything I’ve said above applies here too. The big difference with this route is that you’re not going to send your work out to literary agents; you’re going to send it direct to publishers. Obviously, the publishers you choose will need to be carefully chosen. So if you are looking to sell a volume of military history or something on Early Colonial interiors, you’ll need to approach the publishers who work in that field. Otherwise, the basic approach is the same. You locate your targets. You send a query letter. You include enough sample material that the publisher can make up their mind. And that’s that – you see what responses come back to you. (The big difference: agents are slow, with response times often around 6-8 weeks. But publishers are way slower: you need to allow 4-6 months to get a proper response. That’s crazy, I know, but …) How Do You Find A Publisher? Not easy. Services like Jericho AgentMatch don’t really exist in the same way for publishers. Yes, you can trawl through the membership pages of the American Association of Publishers or (in the UK) the Publishers Association … but those guys have a lot of members, the vast majority of whom will be irrelevant to your needs. So really the best way to find a publisher for your book is to find other titles in your niche. That should be easy for you, because it’s your niche. So if your book is about motor maintenance, look at the other engine-related books on your shelves. If you’re writing about bonsai growing, look at who publishes books about bonsais. How to find who publishes a book is simple – just look inside the front cover. That page with all the tiny, boring print about copyright and that kind of thing will also tell you who the publisher is. Note that publishers (eg: “PenguinRandomHouse”) generally operate through a multitude of imprints, eg, Bantam, Ballantine, Doubleday…). You need to identify both the publisher you want and, where relevant, the imprint in order to wriggle through to the right desk in the right office. Make a list of those publishers – then approach them direct. They’ll welcome your submission and they won’t expect you to have a literary agent. (In fact, they’d be mildly frightened if you did have one.) What Kind Of Writer/book Is Right For This Publication Option? Assuming you definitely want traditional publication (and again, see Option 1 for more on this), you should only really avoid using a literary agent, if: Your work is in a small subject-led, but consumer-oriented niche (eg: “How to Maintain Your Motorbike” or “The Complete A-Z of Roses”)Your work is academic and destined for an academic publisherYour work is business or professional, and destined for the kind of publishers that handle that kind of thing Agents don’t want those kind of books and they don’t add much value to the publication process either. For those reasons, direct submissions to publishers make the most sense. Pros And Cons The advantages of this route are that: You get the pluses of trad publicationYou get to publish work that’s too niche or specialist to warrant an agent’s involvement The downsides are simply that: Bookstores don’t shift very many copies of niche books – they’re mostly sold via Amazon. But in that case, self-publishing looks like a particularly attractive option, because you can retain all the proceeds from sale for yourself. If you have a mailing list or other platform – for example, you have a popular blog on rose growing, and your book is all about growing roses – then self-publishing should be very simple and immediately lucrative. Option 3: How To Get Published Via A Book Proposal What\'s Involved? When we talked above about trad publication and literary agents, it was kind of assumed that you’d already written your book. If you are looking to sell a novel, then you basically have to have written the book and edited it until it sparkles. But that sounds like a hell of a lot of work for a project that might never sell, right? Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just outline a project, see if anyone wants it, then complete it only if a sufficiently attractive deal is laid under your nose? Well, luckily for you, that option certainly exists. It exists only for non-fiction, and not even for all types of non-fiction, but yes: you can offer literary agents a book proposal in place of an entire book. That book proposal might in total amount to only 10,000 words, and should include: A query letterA personal bio, including any platform or authority you bringAn analysis of the market and audienceAn introduction to the bookApproximately three sample chapters. Unlike with fiction, it isn’t always necessary that these chapters form the first three chapters of your work, You can read much more about what’s needed right here. What Kind Of Writer/Book Is Right For This Publication Option? The book proposal approach will work, if: You are writing non-fictionThat non-fiction is not narrative-led (in which case, an agent or publisher might need to read the whole book before making a decision)It will work especially well if you bring significant authority (“I’m a top physics professor”) or terrific platform (“I’m a teenager with 2,000,000 Youtube followers.”) Read more about author platforms here.
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A letter to myself

The Festival of Writing 2018 – and How All Was Not LostBy Sophie Beal Dear Myself-of-the-Weeks-Before-the-Festival, This letter is for you, poring over the Jericho resources, searching for wisdom on those ultimate questions: how can I know the Festival won’t be a waste of time and money? And what if, instead of an agent, I get conclusive proof I’m delusional? These are the things you’ll want to know up front. You don’t make any of the competition shortlists.You have a very depressing 1-2-1.That dream, where agents and publishers stalk you? It doesn’t happen. You’re now wondering if you should cut your losses, stay in Bournemouth and save the petrol. Keep reading. Sometimes, people meet their agent in the coffee queue. This is unlikely in your case. Either, you’ll be too scared to strike up conversation, or not be scared enough and say something really stupid. So there you are. Four hundred and sixty pounds down, no chance of representation and surrounded by three hundred odd people all after roughly the same thing. It’s going to be murder, right? That’s what you’re thinking. That first 1-2-1 is not the agent’s fault. She’s lovely, but doesn’t think you’re the next Tolstoy. “I’m getting caught up in the medical red tape,” she says. She has no idea of the time you’ve spent trying to make sure that didn’t happen. You sit there and listen. You write notes. You return to your session. Then you go back to your room and grieve. After all, unless something magic happens, this is probably the end of the line for your novel. After eleven years. If you could fit this into the hour and a half before dinner, it would be an ideal time and place. It’s quiet. There are no children asking you for snacks or arbitration. But you’ve a soul to vomit and mealtime comes all too soon. You’re not pretty when you cry. People will assume you’re dying of something they don’t want to catch. Or they’ll know the truth – that you’re not as good as you hoped. You drag Rachel, your trusty writing partner, to your room. She gives you a good hug, and supervises you while you rinse your eyes in warm water and make your way towards food. And there you meet someone else who hasn’t yet had either of their 1-2-1s, but is thoroughly fed up with the submission process. You share your own tale of woe. And the lady on the other side shares hers. And you say things to each other you would usually reserve for the mirror (or Rachel). Like, “I think I’m good.” Someone buys three gins and tonic and instead of slipping out before Friday Night Live, you surprise yourself by staying up to whinge until eleven thirty (that’s three am in young person time). You’re still feeling a little fragile the next morning, but all that panic-surfing has paid off. You remember Emma Darwin’s blog. You have your first coherent thoughts: You really didn’t think your world through before you wrote your novel. Your main characters are academic anaesthetists. How many non-medics know those exist? And there’s so much more you need to set up alongside the love story, including the ambition and rivalry. World-building in these circumstances is difficult, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the novel is doomed.The agent didn’t criticise your prose, your first page, or your characterisation. A lot of your work has paid off.Mandy Berriman had a difficult journey to publication. People have told you she’s lovely. You will try to speak to her. Together with a cooked breakfast, you’ve reason enough to get out of bed. Penny Holroyde and Allie Spencer sit at your table in the canteen. This is the moment you should try and impress Penny who is after all an agent. But when they ask you about your festival, you end up telling them the truth. It’s the best thing you can do. They are both lovely. “So many published authors I know, have a novel they love but can’t sell,” says Allie. “It doesn’t mean it’s not any good.” You talk about easy reading for thinkers.  She wrote her first romantic comedy about a young barrister, so understands your world-building issues and gives you some pointers. You come away thoroughly inspired. That is your “all is lost moment” done and dusted. Having planned plenty of alone time, you don’t miss a thing after that: Sarah Pinborough may apologise for waffling in her keynote lecture, but has everyone in stitches as she describes life as a published author. And everyone’s crying by the end of Julie Cohen’s session about Pixar story-telling. At the book club and literary industry panel you’re told genre boundaries are blurring. Pinning your book down as literary or commercial doesn’t matter as much as it did. Finally, someone produces a useful definition of book club fiction. It’s obvious really: “something people want to talk about with their friends.” You contemplate skiving the Futurecast session. It’s on Sunday morning; you’re tired and already know vampires are out, uplit and psychological thrillers in. But there’s loads more to learn. Afterwards, everyone you speak to is considering self-publishing. And somewhere in the middle of all that, you have a second 1-2-1. It’s far more relaxed than your first, possibly because you now know the problem. You bring up the world-building issue yourself. She suggests emphasising the love story over the setting from the start. But she says, “You’re clearly a very good writer.” You have time left. You could show her your elevator pitch for novel number two, but you forget and use the minutes up blithering about how much her opinion means to you. There you are: three competitions, two 1-2-1s and no agent. But you now understand more about how you could fit into the industry. And you’ve found the rest of the people like you in the world. The money isn’t wasted. On Sunday morning, you listen to Mandy Berriman’s keynote session and her full story of knockbacks, perseverance and eventual success with her second novel. Over lunch, you tell your fellow writers about your novel number two. “That one will be so much easier to sell. I can condense the idea down into a few sentences.” You tell them it’s about a couple about to abandon fertility treatment when the woman is raped. She then discovers she is pregnant. She thinks the baby is her husband’s. He thinks she’s delusional and wants an abortion. Someone says, “I’m wondering what I’d do.” And someone else, “You need to write that.” Then you remember you’re actually on your second draft. This sets off those pesky dreams again. You see yourself up on the main stage, about to publish your first novel as your second. The editor next to you is saying, “I couldn’t believe she had something so marvellous in her bottom drawer.” With very best wishes Sophie Beal Sophie came to the Festival of Writing 2018. She did not get an agent, but did get inspired. Has this inspired you to come along next year? Keep you eye on our events for more.
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Social media for writers

Guest author and blogger Laurence O’Bryan is a novelist with HarperCollins (more) but also a pioneer in the field of using social media for book promotion. His BooksGoSocial site offers a range of promotional tools to help (primarily) self-published books get noticed. Laurence also runs courses in how to make the most of social media. Social media can be viewed as a series of puzzles. When, as a writer, you first start on social media it seems that everyone knows what you don’t. The mysteries of social media are revealed slowly as you browse and experiment and learn. This post will explore some important pieces of the social media puzzle, of relevance whether you’re new to social media or an old hand. What Are The Goals Of Social Media Participation? The first puzzle I’d like to explore is what are reasonable goals for social media participation? The reason this comes first, for me, is because how you answer this will affect every other social media action that you take. If your goal is simply to increase sales of your books, then there will be a series of steps you need to take to build relationships with people who might be interested in reading or them. This would, however, be a very restrictive and stunted use of social media. It would be like installing a telephone in your offices and only using it for sales calls. Every aspect of your work can be impacted positively by social media, if you let it. Research, industry knowledge, motivation and planning can all be helped by social media tools, which allow you to connect with people, listen and communicate. You can also use social media as a creative tool as well as for all the above. It allows you to express whatever you want; your love of Tolkien or photography or Proust or Joyce or whatever. But you can use social media to build relationships too. Real relationships. Is Social Media A Dog Chasing Its Own Tail, A Self-reinforcing Bubble, Or Is It Something That Will Last? There has been a steady drum beat in the media over the past few years of Luddite criticism of social media. Some commentators claim that it is all a waste of time, that social media is banal and trivial and that it will all pass. My personal view is that social media is here to stay and that it forces cooperation and openness. To be otherwise on social media would lead to being flamed or being shunned. Cooperation and openness lead to increased learning, as we take on board new ideas. I don’t think every Tweet or post is a symbol of progress, but there are enough positive ones, I believe, to make it obvious that social media is of benefit to humanity, overall, as a communication tool. I do think there is a danger of over hyping social media, the way radio was over hyped in the 1920’s, with a large number of radio companies coming to Wall Street to sell shares. But because many of those radio stations went bankrupt it doesn’t mean that radio was a medium set to die. Radio was hugely important in the Second World War and since too. Rock & roll and the popular music revolutions of the ‘60’s and ‘70’s are just some of the things radio enabled. I believe social media will have a similarly important role in the decades to come for writers. We are now able to reach readers without the help of a publisher or a large inheritance. Could Social Media Be An Agent Of Change In Our Culture? Social media could be as much an instrument of change as radio or TV was, influencing politics, popular culture and comedy to name but a few areas. Social media, like radio and TV, is a means of mass communication. And social media is changing fast. Facebook’s shares go down again, then up again, then down again. Google+ changes its look and feel, again. Twitter is used to assess the political mood and the likelihood of a stock market crash. Soon it will be used to predict riots and stock market rallies. The impact on writers, forcing a more open and accessible personal style, is likely to have a long term effect on what writers create and how they create. And we are still at the beginning of this revolution. Try searching for #socialmedia on Twitter and you will be assaulted by wave after wave of developments in social media. Every minute. No! Every second. But where will all this lead us? I see three clear trends, each of which could have an impact on writers: The visual web. Mobile video stream, Microsoft’s HoloLens 3d headset and local YouTube feeds may allow us to travel almost anywhere and experience everything as ultimate-voyeurs. Expect artistic photojournalism, environments that change as we look at them, permanent people tracking, your visual life on a site, celebrity holograms at your local book store and rebranding sites that will let you see how you might appear with a few nicks and tucks when you win that big publishing deal. Screens may surround us and allow us instant access to the thoughts and recommendations of other people, and even to see what they are seeing, to read what they are reading. We may eventually be able to piggy back onto other people’s lives through visceral monitoring, heart, sweat, body chemicals, leading to the manipulation of our own senses, but all that is far off. Whether we get there is another thing, completely. The auto posting trend. Expect your phone to auto post your location to your life-blog and your audio feed to text tweets to Twitter. Going beyond that we may be tracked by location posting sites for curfew enforcement, remote working and spouse spying applications. Auto posts already make up a big percentage of the posts you see. That includes re-posts and posts simply made at a previous time. The question seems to be, not whether you should auto-post an update on what you are reading/researching, but why you think your followers will be interested in learning that? Perhaps we will have training courses and later, degree course in “deciding what to post” and “deciding what to listen to and who to follow”. The digital chasm. The erosion of the middle class will lead to a divide between those of us who are fortunate enough to be able to pursue writing as a career and those who are not. Fortunately, writing well is not something you can easily outsource to the 3rd world. It requires a cultural dexterity, which can take decades to learn. Instant security services, auto-taser fencing and within-a-minute by drone-extraction from urban locations may all be our future. Security zones may extend to elite stores, clubs and hotels, all invisible to the rest of humanity by their anonymous exteriors. How Did We Survive Before Social Media (BSM)? If my memory serves me we did just fine BSM. Sure, we had to wait to hear gossip, and read newspapers or magazines to find out what was happening around us, but we didn’t know what we were missing. The internet was initially about newspapers and selling or buying things and searching and we used it less (it was slow), and BSM we read more and spent more time watching TV, but I don’t think we were any healthier or wiser as a whole. BSM we just didn’t know stuff. I can’t tell you whether it’s that important in the big scheme of things that we have intimate knowledge of each other’s lives, but I believe this social media trend is unstoppable now. It’s a genii that’s out of its bottle. And I don’t know what spell will make it go back in again, but it will have to be a powerful one. The only thing I expect, which could impact our use of social media is disruption to our electricity supply. And that would lead to a lot of deaths in our electric driven world. We will, I believe, be doing social media differently in the future, but I don’t think we are going back to the days BSM. And yes, much of the above may not happen before 2020. So if you want to write about the near future, consider incorporating some of the above elements. In any case it will be your ability to tell a good story that will make or break what you write. Luck still plays an essential role in all successful writing, but you do know what they say about luck; it’s better to make your own. For me these are four of the biggest puzzles about social media. You may have other ones you think are more important. I hope you will consider sharing those with us below. Please share if you have a puzzle. For me this is one of the most intriguing aspects of social media. How it is developing. 3 Key Takeaways Some of the puzzling aspects of social media: Do you know what your goals are?Are you taking full advantage of the opportunities that social media is providing or are you just using it to help you sell books? Is social media chasing its own tail?Social media has real benefits. This is not just my opinion. Sure, human connections made on social media are not as strong as the connections we have with people in our local area, but you can build useful relationships with people all over the world with social media in a way that was impossible before. Is it an agent of change?Only time will tell whether the changes in our societies as a result of social media are long lasting or if we will eventually turn away from technology. I strongly suspect that technology will develop further and further. It may plateau at some stage and we may need to change how we do things, such as the annual obsolescence of many devices, but software and the internet are changing too fast and more and more people are finding innovative ways to use the web and getting employed in it, so I don’t think this wave of change is over yet. Laurence O’Bryan is founder of BooksGoSocial.com.
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What authors really think of publishers

Jane Friedman and I launched the English-speaking world’s most comprehensive survey of what authors think of the firms that publish them. We invited the views of traditionally published authors only, whether or not they had also self-published. We sought to create a survey that was both balanced and incisive: one that wouldn’t shirk the questions that matter most to authors. Our results are in. We’ve had 812 responses all told and the data makes for very interesting reading indeed. My personal take on the principal conclusions to be drawn from the survey follows, I do recommend taking a look at Jane Friedman’s note on the topic as well. Who Responded To Our Survey? Our authors were typically highly experienced. Almost 50% had published 6 or more books. Almost 80% had had something published within the last 12 months. More than 60% had the services of a literary agent. Our authors were also typically allied to Big Publishing. 56% of our respondents were published by a ‘Big 5’ firm or by one of the industry’s larger independents. (Such as Bloomsbury in the UK, or Perseus in the US.) About three fifths of our respondents were based in North America. Almost all the rest were based in Britain or Ireland. The Bookseller was a strong supporter of the survey, but we also had supportive tweets, blogs, appeals from (among others), the Society of Authors, the ALCS, Novelists Inc, and numerous other author associations and leading industry figures. In short, the authors who responded to our survey were a well-rounded, experienced and authoritative group. I’m not aware of any reason why our sample should be skewed either to favour or penalise the industry overall. On the contrary, we did all we could to invite views from the entire breadth of the spectrum. The rest of this post summarises the full data and draws some of the main conclusions. Conclusion #1: Authors respect their publishers’ editorial and design skills There’s no doubt about it: authors rate their publishers’ editorial, copyediting, cover design and copywriting skills very highly. Some 71% of authors thought their publishers’ editorial skills were good or excellent. On copyediting, the proportion was 73%. On cover design and cover copy, the proportions were 81% and 80% respectively. These results are equally strong when we consider only the smaller, indie publishers, implying that standards remain high right across the industry. These are outstanding results, proof that traditional publishing is indeed expert at taking a manuscript and making a book. It’s an excellent endorsement of some of the industry’s core competencies, and one that comes from those people in the best position to make the assessment. (Congratulations!) Conclusion #2: Authors have serious reservations when it comes to their publishers’ marketing skills and philosophy There’s no kind way to say this. Authors are unimpressed by their publishers’ marketing campaigns and the methods by which those campaigns are developed. If the top two responses can be taken as broadly equivalent to the “Excellent or good” categories we were looking at before, the 70-80% satisfaction rate has now dropped to less than 40%. Adding the “significant gaps” and “not marketed at all” answers together, we have a Poor/Non-existent rating that’s nudging 50%. Needless to say, any author would like a splashy launch with lots of consumer advertising and all those other lovely, expensive things. But note that our question explicitly calls attention to budgetary limitations and simply asks about whether the author’s own skills and connections have been properly used – an area where any cost implications are small to minimal. I would also note that if we look at the responses only of those (400+) authors who have published 5 or more books, the distribution of answers is essentially identical – and it would seem highly implausible that these experienced authors continue to have misguided expectations as to the scale of publisher marketing spend. In short, our survey offers no support for the hypothesis that authors only grumble about marketing because they are unrealistic about budgets. Indeed, our survey doesn’t simply offer a conclusion as to what authors think – it offers a massive clue as to why they think it. Here’s our data on the extent to which authors felt involved in their publishers’ marketing strategy. Over 60% of authors felt marginalised or worse by their publisher when it came to marketing strategy. A scant 20% felt closely involved and informed. These results look broadly similar whether the authors were being published by very large trade publishing firms (the Big 5 and their closest competitors) or by smaller indie or academic presses. They look broadly the same whether we look at North American publishers or British & Irish ones. In short, it seems that our authors – numerous and experienced as they are – feel neglected by their publishers’ marketing departments and feel underwhelmed by the campaigns that result. Conclusion #3: Publishers are poor at communicating with their authors In my view, the single most astonishing finding of this survey is this: a full three-quarters of authors are not asked for feedback by their publishers. That proportion is essentially the same if we look at authors publishing with a major publisher, or authors on large advances (defined for the purposes of this post as any advance of $30,000 or more.) British publishers were a little less likely to invite feedback than American ones, but only somewhat and within a plausible margin of error. This failure to ask authors about their overall experience of the publishing process doesn’t appear to be a one-off glitch in a generally strong and communicative relationship. We also asked authors to rate their publishers’ communications more generally. Answers divide pretty much 50/50 between Good and Excellent on the one hand, and Average or worse on the other. Given the generally strong experiences authors reported in relation to editorial and other book production functions, it seems clear that the industry as a whole could do better. That conclusion is underlined by a further question, which asked our respondents whether they received “systematic guidance from your publisher about how you could add most value to the overall publishing process”. Half of respondents either received that help or felt they didn’t need it. But a full half reported either that they received some guidance but wanted more, or that they received no guidance and felt marginalised as a result. The traditional publishing industry often claims to have authors at its heart, but our results suggest, on the contrary, many authors feel somewhat excluded from it. Since communicating better with authors would not entail significant costs (and might, you’d think, bring some significant benefits), it would seem that our data provides a large clue as to how regular publishers could improve their operations. Finally on this point, I think it’s worth relating a more anecdotal observation. In the course of collecting data on this survey, I was told by three authors – all formerly Big 5, now with Amazon Publishing – that Amazon constantly solicits and responds to feedback. One told me, “It’s night and day. There’s much more of a teamwork attitude there. Completely different from any of my traditional publishers.” That is: the faceless machine of Seattle may actually be better at author relationships than the traditional industry. If that isn’t a call to action for more mainstream publishers, I don’t know what is. Conclusion #4: A clear majority of authors are unimpressed by their publishers The single most important question in our survey was also the simplest. We asked, “For your next book, if a different, reputable publisher were to offer you the same advance as your current one, would you move to the new house or stay where you are?” What authors told us is that people would quit, or would consider quitting, their current firm than would choose to stay. The move/don’t knows together emphatically outnumber the stays, by almost exactly 2:1. If we look only at authors working with major trade publishers, the results look distinctly better – the “Stay” group now nudges up to 42% – but that still leaves almost 60% of authors who would, or might, choose to switch. The same effect is apparent if we look only at authors with large advances: the “Stay” category is now 44%, but a clear 31% of such authors would choose to move. I don’t think anyone involved in the industry would or should think that those numbers are acceptable. Given that authors are highly impressed by many aspects of their publishers, the two clear areas of weakness, as identified by our survey, are (a) authors’ involvement in marketing, and (b) the whole area of communications and feedback. Those two things shouldn’t simply be cheap to fix; better performance on those two fronts might well prove profit-enhancing. Conclusion #5: Authors generally love their literary agents Reviewing what we’ve learned so far, one might be tempted to conclude that authors are just a grumbly bunch. Maybe nothing would make them happy. Well, that’s a theory of course, but it’s not one with any visible empirical foundation. Our survey also asked the question, “If another reputable literary agent at another reputable agency offered you representation, would you accept it?” Looking only at the data from authors with literary agents, the reponse we got back was as follows. Fully two-thirds of authors are happy with their current representation, and the positively dissatisfied proportion is little more than 10%. The ratio of stay vs move is better than 6:1, as opposed to the worse than 1:1 ratio we discovered in relation to publishers. What’s more, authors’ frustrations with their agents seemed relatively limited. Although this survey did not investigate the author-agent relationship in depth, we did ask respondents for a Twitter-style summary of the message they’d want to send their agents if they could. Many authors just wrote some variant on the message, “I love you!”. The one negative issue which recurred again and again was a variant on “Answer my emails!” I’d suggest that if the poor communicators among agents sharpened up their act, there would be extremely few authors who would remain dissatisfied. Respecting career guidance. Just 3% of authors view their editor as being their main source of career wisdom. A further 17% answered “agent and editor”, as compared with the 57% who replied “agent only”. Some observers might argue that publishers are there to publish books, agents are there to guide careers, and there’s simply no purpose in the former group attempting to do the latter’s job. That isn’t, however, what the industry itself claims. For example, in its submission to the House of Commons Culture, Media & Sport Select Committee, the Publishers Association states that the “the publishing company[‘s] core roles are … to identify, nurture and develop authorial talent.” You can’t nurture and develop talent if you take no interest in its longer-term evolution. At present, literary agents seem to be performing that role very successfully. On our data at least, few publishers can say the same. Since our site is proud to serve writers seeking agents, we’re delighted that published authors share our favourable view of literary agents. Conclusion #6: Authors feel poorly paid and poorly treated It’s common for surveys like this one to report, by way of headline, that authors are badly paid. And, indeed, our median author received an adance that was somewhat less than $10,000 – or, let’s say, about £5,000. That figure, however, includes many academic authors, or poets, or people bringing out smaller books with smaller presses. It would be fair to assume that those people aren’t really turning to publication primarily as a source of income. On the other hand, if we focus only on authors who (a) have agents and (b) sell their work to Big 5 or other large trade publishers, it would be fair to assume both that those writers are writing primarily as a way to make a living and (certainly) that they represent the most commercially successful cross-section of our sample. Even here, however, our median author received an advance of just $20,000 or so (£13,000), which will not strike most people as a handsome income, (though royalties and overseas rights sales will tend to increase that amount.) Whether these sums feel like fair rewards, given the broader industry context, is perhaps more telling. And, when asked for their broad agreement/disagreement with a number of possible statements about publishers, only 7.5% of authors feel well-paid by their publishers. If we select only those authors who have literary agents and are with major publishers, that scant 7.5% stat rises … to 9.5%. When you consider that the average Big 5 graduate trainee is paid around 50% more than that median Big 5 advance, you can understand that authorial frustration. Now, to be fair, the industry has never claimed to offer large rewards to the bulk of those who write for it, yet you would hope a lack of financial remuneration is made up for by good treatment in other respects. Our data, however, do not provide evidence of that good treatment. Only one quarter of our respondents felt well-treated by their publisher “in non-financial ways”. The agented/large publisher authors felt well-treated just 31% of the time. That seems a dispiriting result. The only other firm messages from this question were that a clear majority of authors felt that the industry had been “lazy and un-innovative” when it came to digital matters, but that only a smallish minority (about 16% of respondents) think the industry is likely to vanish anytime soon. Curiously, most authors don’t think that publishers constitute a “crucial bastion of culture and learning”, a result I am not able to explain. (Except possibly as a matter of priming: it may be that by asking our authors to think through their relationships with publishers, we accidentally primed a kind of surliness by the time we reached this point in the survey. I’d also note that only 30% or so of authors felt that Amazon treats self-publishing authors well. Given that Amazon offers access to pretty much every reader in the world via a well-designed author-interface that costs nothing to access, that delivers instant results, that provides real-time sales data and very swift payment – and bearing in mind also that the firm’s sites and e-reader technologies are both state-of-the-art and have cost billions to invent and create – you sort of have to wonder what the 70% of hold-outs want from a self-pub company. In short, I think there is some evidence of surliness towards the end of our survey.) Conclusion #7: Authors aren’t leaving the traditional industry You might think that our results so far would imply that a broad swath of authors would consider leaving the traditional publishing industry altogether. And, indeed, there is some support for that view, as evidenced by this: some 44% of traditionally published authors have also self-published. Yet this data may well mean less than appears. To speak personally for a moment, I have self-published work in both the UK and US. In Britain, I’ve self-published some of my older work, where I never sold the e-rights. I make a couple of hundred pounds a month from the exercise, but not even remotely enough money to base a career on. In the US, I’m currently self-publishing some of my front-list work (for reasons explained rather exhaustively here), but I’m conventionally published in Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, and elsewhere besides. Those relationships contribute the vast bulk of my authorial income and I have absolutely no intention of disrupting them. I’d be crazy to do so. In short, it may be that plenty of authors are happy to self-publish their older or more marginal work, or self-publish in territories where traditional print publishing didn’t quite work out for them – yet those same authors have absolutely no intention of self-publishing their current, front-list work if they have an alternative. Just under a quarter of respondents say they’d feel excited by the adventure of self-publishing. Well over a third say they’d feel negative, or worse. But perhaps the key stat in this set of responses is that the question itself was skipped by more than half of respondents … a fact which suggests, to me at least, that most respondents were thinking, “I would never self-publish” (or perhaps “would never self-publish a front-list work in my home market”). That lack of enthusiasm for the new frontiers of self-pub is also evident when we focus directly on the cash implications of going independent. Our last question on that was skipped by most respondents, suggesting that the topic did not feel involving. And of those who did respond, only 15% of authors felt confident of improving their financial outcomes. To summarise: authors may have grumbles about their existing publishers, and many authors may seek to switch publishers if they could, but that does not imply authors are about to start leaving the industry en masse. Today, at any rate, authors are in a state of discontented equilibrium: grumbling, but not leaving, the industry. A parting note You’ve heard enough from me. A final hope on which to end. I’m a big believer in traditional publishing. I’ve been with the industry for 15 years and I hope to be with it for more – yet it’s no secret that my own journey has at times been rocky. I firmly believe that the things broken are not just fixable, I also think this industry could achieve better results by acting on these insights. The formula for success is not hard to find. Talk to authors. Involve them. Ask for feedback. Then rinse and repeat. More On Getting Published Link to: How to Get Your Book Published Getting Published All you need to know
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3 key steps to building your author brand

Author branding, when done right, can be critical to future success. And self-publishing authors must be able to do this right. Even when choosing traditional publishing, something many authors miss at the beginning of their careers is creating an authentic online presence to engage readers. If you’re self-publishing, though, it’s central. You’ll be your own editor, designer, social media coordinator, production team, etc., and everything traditionally done by a publishing house, you’ll need to be doing yourself. And you may not like imagining yourself as a marketer when all you want is to get on and write. In this article, graphic design platform 99designs walks you through a few key tips (and how to keep it fun, too). Why Branding Is Essential For Authors (Self-published Or Not) Building a brand for yourself helps your audience find out what your work is all about, what you stand for and what they can expect from you. It establishes a connection with your audience and takes no more than a few careful steps to consider. Step 1: Defining Yourself As An Author The following aspects can help you communicate your unique personality and engage with readers. Your author personaUse the storytelling skills you (almost certainly) possess already. Then apply them to you. What is the character of your public self? Are you snarky, quirky? Or more introspective? What is it you are sharing with your audience? Defining yourself will help you understand what you want to create. So consider your story, or “public persona”. Your readersNext, think about your reading audience. Who is reading your books right now? Who do you want to read your books? Are they the same? Think about what kind of person would represent your current or ideal audience. Then examine why they are interested in your writing. By defining who your ideal audience is and understanding what they are looking to get from you, you’ll be able to communicate with strength and clarity to the right people, and think about the community you want to create. Your specialtyFinally, and most importantly, you will need to define your specialty. You may not be the only romance or fantasy writer in the world. But whatever you are writing about, you are bringing your specific one-of-a-kind perspective, voice and way of thinking to the page. This differentiates you from other writers out there. This is your “Point of Difference”. Do you have a specific style, unusual skill or experience? Consider how these things may make you or your writing special. (But, please, never show off.) Step 2: Presenting Yourself As An Author You need the right tools to communicate with readers. So here are a few tips on presenting yourself as a writer through design and social media. Get your author website designedYou’ll need to get a website and logo designed. And both must look clean, polished and professional, no matter how wacky the design. Your logo could be your name or a graphic, as long as it works with the style of the website and doesn’t clash. The look and feel of your logo and website should depend on this vibe you are going for. Look up any images that inspire you. Note down hues and typographies you like for CSS. Then once you’ve decided on a look, keep it consistent. Then build a presenceIt’s not enough to simply have a website. You also need to actively build your online presence around it. Engage with readers and other writers to have the most impact. One of the most effective ways is regular blogging, keeping your audience engaged and helping them to know you better. It’s also good to be active on social media, but consistency is everything. So select the channels you’re sure you’ll use. Stick with them until you’re happy to experiment. Share updates and answer questions, but don’t just tell us about you. Look up chat hashtags to join (i.e. #amwriting on Twitter). If you see things you like, repost and reply. Others will be likelier to reply to you, too, building your following. And engagement is better than constant self-promotion. Look also for Facebook groups, forums or other blogs, where you can comment, write posts or share your content and opinions. Brené Brown’s website, for instance, is an excellent example for author branding. Find your readers where they areThough it’s good to stick with the social media you’re confident with (especially if you’re new to it), look online for where you would find readers that could be interested in you. Say if this is Instagram (i.e. perhaps you’re a novelist, but also an aspiring poet), and you’re not an Instagram user, then it might just be time to learn. Join in the likes of Rupi Kaur and Lang Leav. Get to grips with hashtags, too. You can become part of the conversation and people will get to know you. By interacting via social media, as a general rule you can find vast groups of interested people to engage with, spread the word and start building a following of your own, leading them back to your site. Step 3: How To Stand Out As An Author The true challenge is to create a one-of-a-kind-brand for yourself as a writer that sets you apart from everyone else. To achieve this, here are some last pointers. Be true to yourselfTo really be successful, you need to be authentic. Only if you let your authentic personality shine through in all your efforts can you build a strong and compelling presence as an author. Your readers will appreciate your honest voice, so stick to who you are to build a connection. The most important core of your author brand is you. Be consistentIt’s easy now to be impressively consistent with your site design. Online tools exist to help you create matching Twitter and Facebook cover and profile photos, etc., for a polished look across your site and social media. To establish a clear idea, and so everyone knows it’s you, create a consistent style across the digital channels your audience can find you on. Incorporate your ‘Point of Difference’As discussed earlier, this is your biggest selling point. The clearer you can let it shine in all you do, the easier it will be for you to build a loyal audience. Your Aide For Success So, the obvious: good writing is what will get you read as an author. Nevertheless, building an authentic brand as a writer is well worth it, despite the effort involved. A clear and convincing image of your work to the world will be key to building a loyal and engaging audience – vitally, one which loves you not just for your writing, but also for who you are as an author. Enjoyed that, but still got some self-pub questions? Then read this huge article on self-publishing. Oh, and if you want to find out more about which ebook format is right for you, then we got you covered. 99designs is an online graphic design marketplace. Cookbook or crime thriller, 99designs’ community can create compelling book covers to stand out on Amazon or the shelves of your local bookshop.
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Developmental editing: What it is & where to get it

What is it? Do you need it? Where can you get it? Definition: What Is Developmental Editing? In the good old days, developmental editing used to have one precise meaning. It now has certainly two, maybe three, and possibly four meanings. In short: no wonder you’re confused. And no wonder it’s unclear whether developmental editing is something you need or not. But let’s start with those definitions. Here goes. Developmental Editing – Traditional Definition But we start with the first, core, and most precise definition. To quote the ever-reliable Wikipedia: “A developmental editor may guide an author (or group of authors) in conceiving the topic, planning the overall structure, and developing an outline—and may coach authors in their writing, chapter by chapter.” In other words, any true “editing” took place before the writing. It was a planning and design function, in essence. Because competent authors can probably take care of planning and design perfectly well by themselves, such editing was always relatively rare and, in fiction, extremely rare. I’ve authored getting on for twenty books now and have never once had a development edit. I’m damn sure I never will. Developmental Editing As Industry Euphemism But of course not all authors are perfect and, now and again, publishers have to deal with a manuscript they’ve commissioned, but which turns out to be absolutely dire. Think celebrity memoir of the worst sort. Or a multi-million-selling author who’s long since stopped caring about how he or she writes, because they know the money will roll in anyway. So what to do? Well, the standard solution in trade publishing is to do what is euphemistically called a ‘development edit’. What that actually means is that an editor takes on the role of something akin to a ghostwriter. They rip out everything that’s hopeless and rebuild. I’ve known a Big 5 editor who had done this a couple of times, and he said it was soul-destroying. He didn’t get any bonus for doing the work. He didn’t get a share of fame or royalties. He didn’t go on the chat shows or the book tours. And he was always dancing on eggshells with the Famous Author, because the author in question was very prickly about having his work slighted in any way. Even though the work in question sucked. Great. So that’s the second meaning of a development edit: basically a euphemism designed to disguise what is basically a ghostwriting job. Developmental Editing In Self-Publishing That second meaning – basically, “complete text overhaul” – has given rise to a third one. Unless you’ve been sleeping under a particularly weighty hardback for the last few years, you’ll have noticed that indie authors – that is, self-published ones – have done rather well. They’ve gobbled ever more market share. Their books look better than ever before. They read better than before. They are marketed superbly. (So much so, that every single notable marketing innovation of the last few years originated with the self-pub industry. That’s astonishing. You can find out more about self-publishing here.) Over time, whole sections of the market (romance, SF) have been pretty much eaten whole by these indie authors. But let’s say you’re one of the modern breed of self-pub demigods. You publish 4-6 books a year. You have a backlist of 20+ titles. You know how to exploit all the key marketing channels at your disposal, and you exploit em good. You earn, for sure, a good six-figures. Quite possibly, you’ve hit seven. A million bucks plus in annual income. Wow! Kudos to you, my friend. We mortals bow in awe. But those demigods still have to write the damn books! And do everything else! And sleep! How do they fit it all in? Well, the answer is often that those authors complete their full-length novel in 3 months – something I’ve done just once in 20 years. They’re skilled and experienced writers and they’re also just plain good. That’s why they earn what they earn. (You can’t market rubbish.) But still. A first draft is a first draft, and first drafts aren’t normally known for their wonderful excellence. So these pro authors often work with a developmental editor. That editor’s task is basically to clean up the text. Solve plot problems. Clean up sentences. Add a bit of setting and colour, if those things are sometimes wanting. Make sure that if the hero starts with blue eyes, his eyes haven’t changed colour halfway through. And so on. The author and editor will often form a team who know each other very well, understand each other’s roles, and produce genuinely excellent books together. That’s not how the traditional industry ever worked, except in crisis, but then again the traditional industry was never all that great at churning out authors earning six- and seven-figures a year. That’s the third definition, but it brings us to the last, most relevant one: Developmental Editing As Juiced Up Manuscript Assessment Now for me, the gold-standard method of improving a manuscript is quite simply the good old-fashioned manuscript assessment. You write your book. You send it to an editor. You get a report back saying, in essence, “this worked, this didn’t, here’s how to fix the bits that were off.” That sounds simple, but it isn’t. And often enough the effect of good manuscript feedback is a total revitalisation of the work. Many, many times, I’ve known a manuscript assessment to be the single most pivotal moment in a writer’s path to publication. But – A manuscript assessment is mostly just that. A long, written report. In the case of Jericho Writers, you get a fabulous editor, a report of no less than 3,000 words, and a long track record of success. But what you don’t get, or not mostly, is a page-by-page list of things to think about. And sometimes you need that too. Sometimes you need the rounded, structural commentary of the report but with detailed page-by-page advice alongside – actual annotations on the manuscript. Comments written in Word. Sample edits made to the document itself. That’s the glory of developmental editing. The big and the small. Both things delivered together. This kind of service is what we, Jericho Writers, offer by way of developmental editing. Others offer it too. It’s a very, very good service. It’s the ultimate gift you can give your work. (And yes. I know. That just sounds like a sales pitch – but read on. Developmental editing isn’t right for everyone. It’s probably not right for you.) When Is Developmental Editing Right For You? Honestly? You want my most honest opinion here? OK, here goes. Developmental Editing – Traditional Definition Do you need help conceiving, structuring, planning and shaping the manuscript before you have written it? Well, yes, maybe if you are hoping to write subject-led non-fiction. So if, let’s say, you’re an expert in optical physics. A well-known publisher wants a book on that subject for laypeople. They come to you. It probably makes sense for you to spend a day with your editor, planning the book that you will write. Your subject expertise + the editor’s market expertise = a proposition that might actually sell. I sincerely doubt that this situation applies to even 1% of those reading this article. Developmental Editing As Industry Euphemism Are you a global celebrity who has written a terrible book that needs reshaping by a pro? No? Then you do not need developmental editing of this, second, flavour. Developmental Editing In Self-publishing Are you a self-pub demi-god? Do you pump out 4-6 books a year and earn enough revenue to employ a pro editor? If you do, then sure, you need developmental editing, but I don’t understand why you’re wasting your time reading this post. Go write another book. Developmental Editing As Juiced Up Manuscript Assessment Are you an ordinary writer slowly working your way to a manuscript (probably a novel) of publishable quality? If you are – and I’ve been in your shoes myself – then I get why you are thinking about developmental editing. It’s a sensible thing to think about and, for maybe 10-15% of you, it’s a sensible thing to purchase. The advantage of developmental editing is that it forces you to look at the big and the small. You’re asked to think about characterisation, and place, and story arc, and theme. And at the same time, your attention is being drawn to sloppy sentence structures, loose images, clunky dialogue, and erroneous habits of punctuation. That is one hell of a mix and it is powerful. Yes. So developmental editing – such as we offer – is a great service. It’s awesome. It could do wonders for your manuscript. But – Here are some downsides: It’s expensiveMany of the page-by-page points will be picked up in some way in the editorial report. You won’t normally get a complete list of (say) poor sentences, but you’ll be given examples, so you know what to look for.Very often the structural advice will demand some significant level of rewriting, which means the page-by-page comments may be less relevant.If your prose quality and general writing technique are reasonably strong, then the most important feedback will live in the editorial report anyway.If you go on to get an agent and a book deal, your publisher will end up paying for a full professional copy-edit (and proof-read), so they’ll end up addressing all the things that a developmental edit might have addressed – and more. That says, if your work is strong enough to do without the development edit, you should do without it. Someone else can pay. Those things aren’t small. If you have all the money in the world, then yes, sure, hire a developmental editor. For the rest of us, the matter demands thought. If I were advising a serious amateur writer on the subject of manuscript assessments, I’d say, “Get one if you can. It’ll probably be the biggest single jump you can make.” If I were advising the same person in relation to a developmental edit, I’d say, “Think hard. It might or might not be right for you.” Yeah. Helpful, I know. Still not sure if a developmental edit is the right choice? Then you’ll probably find this article on the different types of editing really useful. Hiring A Developmental Editor: Conclusion In the end, whether you hire a developmental editor or not is your call. It is a great service. It is expensive. The manuscript assessment alone does normally provide most (not all) of what you need. If you’re reading this post and still don’t know what you want, or which way to turn, then do reach out. Our customer service team at Jericho Writers are not employed to sell; they are employed to help. We don’t offer sales bonuses. We don’t hire salesmen. A good proportion of our workforce are writers like you. We’re on your side. I’m telling you all that, because if you want to get in touch with us to ask our advice, we’ll give that advice honestly, to the best of our ability. I hope that helps. And whatever you decide, may you and your writing thrive. In the end, that’s all that matters.
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What I learned about book publishing as a debut author

Tor Udall is author of A Thousand Paper Birds (Bloomsbury), longlisted for the Author’s Club Best First Novel Award. My debut A Thousand Paper Birds was published by Bloomsbury last June. Here are some of the things I’ve learned. Agents Are Heroes I am in love with each and every one of them. I know, from a distance, that they can seem like impenetrable gatekeepers but they are passionate advocates for good writing, work ungodly hours for work that they believe in and have no guarantee of financial reward. Sound familiar? Like writers, they too have to go through the precarious and heart-thumping process of submissions, rejections and deals. Agents not only help hone your work and protect your rights, but are a great sounding board throughout the entire journey. But most importantly they believe in, and fight for, books and writers. If you meet one, you should look them in the eye and say thank you. (A deep bow to Jenny Savill.) Book People Are Incredibly Generous The generosity of the industry has taken my breath away. Influential editors and publicists from other publishing houses have praised A Thousand Paper Birds on social media and encouraged others to read it –  and I’ve seen them do it with other debuts too. Why? Because they are passionate about books that they love whether it’s from their imprint or not. There are so many inspiring, authentic, brilliant people in this industry – brains as big as planets (a big wave to Georgina Moore and Alison Barrow!). The same is true of authors. If they believe in your work, they will shout about it from the rooftops. Being published for the first time is a giddy ride and it’s helpful to meet other authors on the rollercoaster. Having received so much support, I’m keen to help upcoming writers. It’s one massive chain of ink-stained hands and I love being a part of it. I truly believe this industry contains some of the best human beings on the planet. It Is A Team Effort After years of solitary writing, it has been a privilege to collaborate with the team at Bloomsbury. They are brilliant at what they do. From my sublimely smart editor to my sensitive and astute copy-editor, through to my designer and the publicity, marketing and digital teams, they’ve all been fighting my corner and helping the book be the best it can be. What a freakin’ honour. It’s Not True That You Need To Be Well Connected I got my first agent through the slush pile (most writers do). After losing him, I went to the Festival of Writing and left with 8 agents interested in representing. I put in the graft. I said hello. At my first meeting with my publicist, she asked if I had any media contacts and my awkward answer was ‘not a sausage.’ But we sent out the proofs and a few people really liked it. They then told other people who told other people and suddenly we had momentum. I will be forever indebted to the authors, reviewers, bloggers and readers who have championed Paper Birds. And some of these ‘strangers’ have become friends. In an overcrowded market you need people singing about your book. The beauty is that one voice can become a chorus. Publishing Is A Vast Eco-system Pre-publication, most writers learn about agents and publishers, but the vitality of the industry is dependent on a much larger eco-system that includes mentors and editors, literary scouts, translators, bloggers, vloggers, reviewers and most importantly booksellers. Yes, that person behind the till at your local bookshop is the king or queen you should worship. Booksellers can make or break a book. If they buy one copy and shelve it in alphabetical order (you will normally find ‘U’ in the darkest corner) there’s not much chance of that book being sold and the shop ordering more. But if they highlight it in a table or window display, things are very different. Waterstones in Richmond did a gorgeous window for A Thousand Paper Birds. It became their biggest selling hardback for 4 weeks, almost outselling their bestselling paperback. Get to know your local booksellers. Buy from them. Give them chocolate. They make all the difference. Your First Chapter Remains As Important As Ever Reviewers and bloggers receive SACKS of books weekly. There is no way they can read them all. A few reviewers have told me that they read the first page and if it’s not sparked their interest, they move onto the next one. The sheer volume prevents them doing it differently and rightly they want to spend their energy and time on books they love. Many of them are freelancers or fitting reviews in between the day job and yet still they will go out of their way to make a difference. So work hard on your pitch and your first chapter. Getting past that ‘sack-pile’ is quite a hurdle. You Will, At Times, Be Terrified A couple of weeks before publication I said to my friend, ‘How can I stop this?’ Yes, those were my words after twenty years of perseverance because suddenly it was too exposing and far too unknown. I spent the first three months completely out of my comfort zone. I was interviewed for ITV news, pranced about in photoshoots, did many Q&A events and readings, gave a keynote speech and later did a live 30-minute radio interview for America. It’s quite something moving from the private act of writing to the public stage. It requires completely different mind-sets. As hard as it is to come out of your shell, it can also then be difficult to withdraw again and deepen your focus. You almost need to separate these two identities – and with all your might protect the quieter one that is aching to write. Events are wonderful – and it’s an honour to be invited to talk about your work – but they are also exhausting. They will, at times, scare the life out of you, but they will also stretch you into a bigger person than you knew you could be. And to be honest, despite the nerves, I would return home, yelling I LOVED IT! You Will Juggle Many, Many Balls You will be promoting one book while writing another and perhaps pitching a third. You will be answering Q&As for various journals and writing articles. You will be reading all the new books that have been sent to you for endorsement as well as trying to keep up with your usual favourites. You will also be setting yourself up as a business, sorting out foreign royalty forms, and for me, having to work out 7-years of expenses for my tax return (HIDEOUS). While doing this you may also be juggling a day job and caring for children (or the sick or elderly) – and if you’re really crazy folding HUNDREDS of paper birds for displays and promotions. Anxiety is, unsurprisingly, common. Suddenly the writer is being pushed and pulled in several directions. While writing to deadline you may well have to sacrifice personal hygiene. But to survive, at some point you will need to learn how to say ‘no’ or at least ‘not now.’ And you will need to take responsibility for your own well-being by putting in support mechanisms (for me, it was yoga). I thought that success would allow me more time to write, but actually there’s been less. There gets a point where you have to prioritise writing your next book over all the chaos. Social Media Is Both Friend And Foe My timeline is full of stunningly brilliant people, fantastic books and new friends who make me laugh on days when it feels like the world is going to hell in a handcart. On Twitter, I’ve found my tribe, but beware, it is a major time-sucker. Also, if there are days when you’re struggling with self-doubt, it can be tricky to take in the constant barrage of big advances and bestsellers. You must do everything you can not to compare yourself to others. The truth is that there will always be people doing ‘better’ and ‘worse’ than you. (And remember, a published writer isn’t necessarily more talented than an unpublished one – it’s so dependent on timing and market.) All you can do is focus on your own journey. Twitter is also a great way to find out who is who and how it all works: the eco-system in all its glory. There Are Still Set-Backs You would think that after getting through agent rejections and years of perseverance that once you reach publication everything is golden. But that gold is sometimes honey, sometimes treacle and sometimes actually a bit pissy. There are many books of the month and end of the year lists, debuts to watch out for, longlists, shortlists, book club selections and promotions. When you are listed or selected for something, it is an amazing feeling. When you don’t, it can feel rotten. All of the above betters your chance of getting a second book deal, so in that context it can feel quite stressful. There have been days when I’ve wanted to google ‘where can I buy extra layers of skin?’ But you can’t buy that resilience, you can only earn it. My rule is that I’m allowed to wail and beat my chest for one day but for one day only. The next morning, I roll up my sleeves and face the most compelling challenge of all – how to be a better writer than I was yesterday. Everything else isn’t in my power. It is just noise. The Reader Is The Most Important Ingredient Of All Stupidly, I didn’t share my work with many people pre-publication – mostly, out of terror. So this year has been a revelation. Every day I receive messages from readers saying how much A Thousand Paper Birds has moved them. I had no idea how much that would mean to me. Unbelievably I hadn’t got my head around the fact that it is the reader who breathes life into the characters and makes the story live. Now that my characters exist in others’ heads they have become real (and I hear they are sometimes glimpsed in the book’s location, Kew Gardens). The reader is the true alchemist. The true creator. This has been my biggest and most humbling lesson of all. Remember Why You’re Doing This After Paper Birds was published, a famous author wrote to me saying, I should try to stay ‘grounded and clear-headed. Don’t get confused by events one way or the other.’ I have found this advice to be invaluable. You can so easily be swayed by great reviews then knocked down the next day with disappointment. It is the way to madness. And the biggest joke, once you’re published, is that you realise that there is no finishing line. After years of striving, you reach the top of that glorious, much-longed-for hill and see that you are only at the start of a vast mountain range. So you have to love the journey itself – the actual writing. To stay curious about your characters. To strive to tell the truth. To fail and start again. To be in love with the work itself. To write with humility and the hunger to learn. The more I understand about both this industry and the craft, the more I realise that I am a mere novice. But isn’t that a fascinating place to be? My famous author finished his advice by saying, ‘Crack open a bottle of champagne. … And send a quiet thank you to the realms that deserve it.’ It’s important not to forget the magic. The mystery that you stumble on at three in the morning when you’re been slogging away for hours and then all of a sudden the right words fall through the sky in the right order and you are merely taking dictation. In that instant, the book market fades into the background as a temporary, fickle thing. The ego that fretted about what to wear to that event dissolves and there is just the essence –  the listening. The strange act of writing becomes the beating heart of everything. And this is what I can tell you. At that point it doesn’t matter if you’re published or unpublished, we’re all on the same daunting and heroic journey. The stories we tell each other impact us all. They shape how we respond to the world and what we create in it. In these tumultuous times we need stories more than ever. If you are a writer, I salute you. It takes a certain amount of courage, of innocent madness, to retain a state of wonder, to help us all see more clearly and to be more empathic. And sometimes, just sometimes, some of us might imagine alternative ways of walking through this world that makes everything brighter. A Thousand Paper Birds (Bloomsbury) was longlisted for the Author’s Club Best First Novel Award and has been translated in six languages. The paperback was released 3 May 2018. You can follow Tor’s journey on Twitter and at her website.
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Can you write a book in 6 weeks? (Yes!)

Guest author, journalist and blogger Sam Jordison shares how he wrote Enemies of the People in six weeks. One of the biggest challenges any writers must face is, you know, actually writing. The sitting down in front of a computer and typing side of things. The finding the time. The ploughing on: despite blocks and distractions. The getting out of the words even though you might have a headache. The thinking and the doing and the typing. Did I mention the typing? No books are ever published without typing. And put like that, it sounds too obvious to even mention, yet the physical act of writing is one of the most fascinating and difficult parts of the process. At literary festivals, writers are invariably asked questions about how they carve out the space to sit down and write, and how you keep going when the going gets tough. Some of the best interviews on the craft of writing in the world are those published by the Paris Review and the first thing they always ask is a variation on the question of pen, pencil, typewriter or word processor? When I teach my Creative Non-Fiction Course, meanwhile, I always like to try to address the question of how you physically get the words down. The advice I offer is generally to try to be flexible, because not only is every person different, every writing day is different. One of the worst things you can do is beat yourself up and obsess over the fact that you haven’t hit an arbitrary word count. Equally, another of the worst things you can also do is to fail to get any words down on a regular basis. Most often I try to suggest that people get into a sensible routine that fits them, not to worry too much if progress is slow, but to always try to make progress. I like to hope that this is good advice. I’ve followed it myself in the past – and managed to produce a dozen books and plenty of journalism by doing so. But more recently, I have discovered two things that can work even better: a fierce deadline and a burning sense of injustice. If you have a burning desire to write a memoir, a piece of journalism, or a biography then use that energy to propel your writing. In early spring of 2017, I was asked to write a book about the people that brought us Trump and Brexit and the general sense that the world is spinning off its axis. I was also asked if I could write it in about six weeks. And make it reasonably long. My first thought was: oh, hell yeah! The rage I was feeling at the collapse of our democracies and the rise of a dangerous and malevolent right-wing would perhaps start to feel a bit less impotent. If I could channel my anger into a book that would tell the truth about post-truth and provide real facts instead of alternative-facts, I might have a small hope of influencing things for the better. My second thought was: oh, hell. I’d have to do an awful lot of writing and research in a very short time. And I’d have to – as already discussed – actually sit down and do it. But that’s when the two weapons of clock pressure and anger really kicked in. I didn’t spend any more time wondering about how I was going to write the book. I didn’t have time for that. All I could do was get going. If I wanted to nail the people who had done so much to make things so bad, I just had to get going. I’m not going to lie and say it was easy. It was stressful and tiring and my head was whirring for six solid weeks. But lots of the things that usually get in the way of writing just weren’t around. There was no putting it off until tomorrow, because tomorrow was too late. There was no wondering if I was doing things the right way – because I was arguing with people who seemed so obviously wrong. And it worked. At the risk of sounding like a Nike advert, the thing I realised that sometimes the best approach to writing is to just do it. I got the words down. And as I type this article, I’m waiting for the first copy of the resultant book to come through the post. It’s called Enemies Of The People and even though it probably has a few rough edges, and a few clumsy sentences that I might have improved if I had more time, I also hope that the way it was written has given it rawness and energy and a burning sense of indignation. It feels important. And I’m very glad I sat down and wrote it. Sam Jordison’s Enemies Of The People was published in the UK on 1 June 2017.
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6 professional tips for authors meeting publishers

It’s not all that often that would-be authors get to meet publishers to pitch their work, but it happens. Mostly, literary agents will take charge of sending your work out to publishers. Assuming there’s interest in your work, publishers will come back with offers and then, when you do meet publishers face-to-face, they are pitching to you much more than you to them. But that’s not the only way it can happen. A client of ours was, in 2011, in New York having had three meetings with major New York based publishers. He had a UK deal from a wonderful London-based publisher. Also, one in Germany. In the US, though, publishers wanted to meet him before committing to an offer. They wanted that meeting not because of any real reservations they had about the manuscript. If they hadn’t liked the material, they wouldn’t have asked for the meeting. They just wanted to see the author himself. See if he could present himself well to the media. See if his vision for the book was the same as theirs. See also if they liked him. After all, your working relationship with a publisher will certainly last a year and perhaps considerably more, so you might as well like the person you’re to be working with. So if something like this happens to you, it’s as well to be prepared. The rules to follow are: Be nice. That’s the first commandment of publishing. The book deal you’re involved in is unlikely to involve vast sums of money, either for you or your literary agent or your publisher. So be nice. It makes a difference.Be professional. Know the things you ought to know. What’s the word count of your manuscript? If it isn’t yet complete, when will you be able to deliver it? Who are the major authors in your genre? What competing titles are scheduled for release soon? Have these things at your fingertips.Scrub up. Contrary to widespread belief, publishers aren’t just chasing books by the young and beautiful. They want good books and they don’t much care who writes them. All the same, comb your hair, dress half-decently, just take a little smidge of care.Ask questions. It’s fine to ask questions of your potential publisher. When would they schedule release? What format would they release it in? And at what price? When does the e-book come out and at what price? How would they think about marketing it? What kind of cover design do they have in mind? (They won’t have a cover design planned, but they’ll be able to tell you – ideally show you – the approximate kind of cover they’ll be considering.) What success have they had with similar books in this area? It’s fine to ask about numbers. How many hardbacks, how many paperbacks, how many ebooks? You learn a lot from these questions, and you make it clear that you are a professional and will work professionally with your team.Take guidance from your literary agent. Your agent will already know these publishers and quite likely the exact people sitting round the table from you. If your agent steers you in or away from a particular direction, then take that guidance. That’s true anyway, but it’s extra true if you’re in a geographical market not your own: a US author pitching to a London publisher, a UK author pitching to a New York publisher. In the first instance, you will almost certainly have a UK literary agent sitting beside you, a US agent next to you in the second case. Those people are there to help you. Accept their help with gratitude.Don’t forget digital. Take a one page sheet setting out what you’ve done already (in terms of blog, website, etc.) and explaining what further things you intend to do. Those things won’t swing a deal all on their own, but they do make a difference, and ask what their own plans are. And remember, you can go into those meetings with good heart. You’ve been invited because someone loves your manuscript and just needs a little help to make it all the way to a formal offer. You haven’t quite closed the deal yet, but you’re inches away. Now go and close it. Good luck. More On Getting Published Link to: How to Get Your Book Published Getting Published All you need to know
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Types of Editing: How To Choose

Developmental editing. Structural editing. Line editing. Copy editing. Proofreading. Yes, we know: you’ve written a manuscript. You know it needs some kind of professional help. But what kind of help? Copy editing or line editing? Structural editing or developmental support? There seem to be so many options to choose from. But never fear. We’ll tell you exactly what each of the different types of editing are – and offer some suggestions on what editing you do/don’t need right now. The good news is that, quite often, you need less editorial input than you might think. (The bad news is that you have to put in a lot of hard graft instead …) What Are The Different Types Of Editing? Developmental editing: checks concept, plot coherence, and character development/arc.Structural editing: identifies issues with plot, pacing, characters, settings, themes, writing style.Line editing: looks at details line by line.Copy-editing: is much as above, except with less attention to line-by-line correction of clumsy writing.Proof reading: looks for simple typos or errors in the text. How Editing Works Before we go any further, it’s worth explaining the editorial heirarchy. Essentially you go from large to little, from structural to detailed. So it’s like building a house: you start with foundations, walls and roof. Then you start thinking about doors and windows. Then you start thinking about paints and wallpapers. Last, you go around sweeping up and sorting out any last little snags. The same thing with editing, where the hierarchy runs roughly like this, from big to small: Developmental editing. Is this concept sound? Does my plot cohere? Are these the right characters for this book?Structural editing. Identifying and addressing any number of issues covering (for example) plot, pacing, characters, character development, settings, emotional turning points, themes, writing style and much else.Line editing: this starts to look at the detail. Is each sentence clear? Are there typos? Unwanted repetitions? Minor factual errors?Copy editing: much as above, except there’s less attention to line-by-line correction of clumsy writing.Proof reading: At the proof stage, you generally expect that all the essential work has already been done, so this is really just rushing around the manuscript looking for last bits of lint to pick off and typos to clear away. That’s the overview. Not all manuscripts will go through all of these stages – indeed, if you’re doing a decent job as an author then two or three of these stages are probably redundant. All that said, let’s jump straight into the meat … Developmental Editing We’ll start with the biggest, broadest, most sweeping kind of editing you can get: developmental editing. That’s a type of editing that used to have one meaning, but it’s kind of morphed into two distinct beasts for reasons, I’ll explain in a second. Definition: What Is Developmental Editing? In the good old days, developmental editing used to have one precise meaning. It now has certainly two, and maybe three. A. Developmental Editing – Traditional Definition But we start with the first, core, and most precise definition. To quote the ever-reliable Wikipedia: “A developmental editor may guide an author (or group of authors) in conceiving the topic, planning the overall structure, and developing an outline—and may coach authors in their writing, chapter by chapter.” In other words, any true “editing” took place before the writing. It was a planning and design function, in essence. Because competent authors can probably take care of planning and design perfectly well by themselves, such editing was always relatively rare and, in fiction, very rare. (I’ve authored getting on for twenty books now and have never once had a development edit. I’m damn sure I never will.) B. Developmental Editing As Industry Euphemism But of course not all authors are perfect and, now and again, publishers have to deal with a manuscript they’ve commissioned, but which turns out to be absolutely dire. Think celebrity memoir of the worst sort. Or a multi-million-selling author who’s long since stopped caring about how he or she writes, because they know the money will roll in anyway. So what to do? Well, the standard solution in trade publishing is to do what is euphemistically called a ‘development edit’. What that actually means is that an editor takes on the role of something akin to a ghostwriter. They rip out everything that’s hopeless and rebuild. I’ve known a Big 5 editor who had done this a couple of times, and he said it was soul-destroying. He didn’t get any bonus for doing the work. He didn’t get a share of fame or royalties. He didn’t go on the chat shows or the book tours. And he was always dancing on eggshells with the Famous Author, because the author in question was very prickly about having his work slighted in any way. Even though the work in question sucked. Great. So that’s the second meaning of a development edit: basically a euphemism designed to disguise what is basically a ghostwriting job. When Is Classic Developmental Editing Right For You? It isn’t. You don’t need it. What you probably need (either now or in due course) is a professional manuscript assessment and possibly some of the add-ons normally associated with developmental editing. But in the classic sense of the term, you just don’t need it. We’ll talk about what you do need right away. Structural Editing, Substantive Editing, Editorial Assessment Right. So I’m not a big fan of developmental editing, but I LOVE the type of editing we’re about to talk about. But first up: definitions. Definitions Structural editing is, strictly speaking, a set of comments on the structure of your work. That will certainly involve plot and pacing. But it may also include comments on character, mood, emotional transitions, dialogue, character arcs, writing style and much more. If you’re being strict about it, structural editing should focus only on structure, but in practice editors tend to comment on anything that, in their view, needs attention. (Which is good. Which is what you want.) Basically, a good structural edit will tell you: What’s working (though they won’t spend too long on this)What’s not working (this is where the report will concentrate all its firepower)How to fix the stuff that isn’t yet right A good report will quite simply cover everything that you most need to know. It’ll do that from the perspective of the market for books as it is now. So the kind of crime novels (say) that could have sold 25 years ago may not be right for the market now. A good editor will know that, and set you on the right lines. Substantive editing is basically the same as structural editing, except that technically it doesn’t have to limit itself to structure alone. But since structural editors don’t in practice confine themselves to structural comments, it’s pretty safe to say that, in practice, the two things are exactly the same. Editorial assessment, or Manuscript assessment. These two things are exactly the same as structural editing. The difference is that an editorial assessment gives you an editorial report, but doesn’t usually also give you a marked-up manuscript as well. Again, in practice, these things blur into each other. Our own core editorial product is, indeed, the manuscript assessment. The main deliverable there is a long, detailed editorial report on your book. That said, a lot of editors will, if it’s useful, also mark-up all or part of your manuscript. Or if they don’t, they may quote so extensively from your work, that it’s kinda the same as if they did. In short, and give or take a few blurry bits on the edges: structural editing = substantive editing = editorial assessment = manuscript assessment Easy, right? Is Structural Editing / Editorial Assessment Right For You? Yes. Almost certainly: yes. Now, to be clear, I own Jericho Writers and if you trot along to buy one of our wonderful manuscript assessments, you’ll make me a teeny-tiny bit richer. So in that sense I’m biased. On the other hand, I just told you not to buy developmental edits, and I’d make myself a LOT richer if I got you to buy one of those things, so I hope I have a little credit in the bank. I’m speaking truth, not salesman yadda. And the reason I like structural editing so much is that: It is and remains the gold-standard way to improve a manuscript. Nothing else has ever come close. I’m not that far away from publishing my twentieth book. (I’m both trad & indie, and I love both channels, in case you’re wondering.) I’m a pretty damn good author. I’ve had very positive reviews in newspapers across the world. My books have sold in a kazillion countries and been adapted for TV. And every single one of my books have had detailed editorial input. And they’ve always, always got better as a result. Always.It makes you better as a writer. You always emerge from these exercises with new skills and new insights. You will apply those to your current manuscript, for sure, but you’ll apply them to the next one too. The more you work with skilled external editors, the more you’ll grow as a writer. (And, I think, as a human too.) So that’s why I think structural editing works so well, and for such a huge variety of manuscripts, genres and authors. When Should You Get Structural Input On Your Work? Well, OK. The businessman in me wants to say, “Get that input right now. Hand over your lovely hard-earned dollars / pounds / shekels / yen, and your soul and career will flourish, my friend.” But that’s not the right answer. The fact is that the right time for editorial input is generally: as late as possible. If you know you have a plot niggle in Part IV, then fix the damn niggle. Fix it as well as you can. Don’t go and pay someone to tell you that you have an issue. That’s dumb. Same thing if your characters feel a bit flat, or your atmosphere is a bit lacking, or whatever else. If you know your book has issues, then do the best you can to fix those issues. You’ll learn a lot and your book will get better. That means, the right time for editorial input comes when: You’ve worked hard, but you keep going round in circles. You’re confusing yourself. You need external eyes and buckets of wisdom.You’ve worked hard, but you know the book isn’t right. You don’t know what’s awry exactly, but you know you need help.You’ve worked hard, you’ve got the book out to agents, but you’re not getting offers of representation. You know you need to do something, but you don’t know what.The self-pub version of 2: you have a draft you’re reasonably happy with, but you’re about to publish this damn thing, and your whole future career depends on the excellence of the story you’re going to serve the reader. So you do the right thing and invest in the product. You’re going to get the best kickass structural edit you can, then use that advice as intensively as you can. (Editing, in fact, is one of the only two things that should cost you real money at this early stage: the other one is cover design. And, no surprise, they both relate to developing the best product it is in your power to produce.) In short: work as hard as you can on the book. When you’re no longer making discernible forward progress, come to an editor. And – blatant plug alert! – Jericho Writers is very, very good at editorial stuff. We’ve got a bazillion people published, trad and indie, and the success stories just keep coming. Developmental Editing – As Premium Manuscript Assessment I love manuscript assessments – I think they’re the single most helpful thing you can do to improve your work. At their best, with author and editor working well together, they’re like a magic formula for improving your work. But a lot of people still find them insufficient. In particular, a manuscript assessment might say something like, “Your character Claudia isn’t yet cohering. Here’s what I mean in general terms [blah, blah, blah]. And here are some specific page references which illustrate my general point [page 23, page 58, etc].” Now that’s helpful, but it still leaves you to do an awful lot. If Claudia is a major character, the specific changes you need to make are likely to go well beyond the handful of examples the editor uses to make their broader point. So what do you do? Well, hopefully, you understand exactly where your editor is coming from, and you make the necessary changes, and your manuscript becomes perfect. Only maybe not. Some people just are helped by having their manuscript marked up page by page. That’s not instead of the more general report. It’s in addition. That way you get to see the broad thrust of the comments, as well as the more specific issues as well. So you get an overview of (for example) why Claudia isn’t quite working as well as a detailed laundry list of all the specific places where her character grates a bit. And it’s not just characterisation. It’s plot issues. It’s matters of writing style. It’s sense of place. It’s everything that goes into a novel. So – and this is because our clients have specifically asked us to create the product – we now offer a version of developmental editing that combines these services in a single package: Manuscript assessment – overview reportDetailed mark-up of your manuscript – literally page, by pageOne hour discussion with the editor, so you can resolve any outstanding questions or niggles you may have. Pretty obviously, this is a deluxe package and, pretty obviously, it’s expensive. It’s also, honestly, not what most of you need. Will I Benefit From Developmental Editing, Jericho-style? As a rough guide, very new writers are probably best off building their skills by taking a writing course or, of course, just hammering away at their manuscript. (That’s still the best learning exercise of all.) After that, once you have a first, or third, or fifth draft manuscript, it makes sense to get a regular manuscript assessment. That way, you can grasp the main issues with your work and you have a plan of attack for dealing with them. Because developmental editing is as much concerned both with the broader issues AND with the narrower ones, it doesn’t really make sense to purchase the service until your manuscript is in pretty good shape. After all, the outcome of a manuscript assessment might be “That whole sequence set on Venus just doesn’t work and needs to be rethought from scratch.” If that’s the case, then having detailed page-by-page comments on the way you write isn’t really going to help you much. So as a rough guide, you will benefit from developmental editing, if: Your manuscript is in pretty good shape (ie: this should be the last major round of work before submitting to publishers or self-publishing the manuscript)You want both broad and narrow commentsYou want the opportunity to talk at length with your editorYou are OK paying for a premium service. You will not benefit from developmental editing, if: Your manuscript is still at a somewhat earlier stage in its journeyYou feel able to handle the narrower issues yourself, so long as you have reasonable guidance from your manuscript assessment report. Because we don’t want to take your money if developmental editing is not right for you, we have made the service by application only. That’s not because we’re going to stop you doing what you want to do. Just, if we’re not sure whether it makes sense for you to splash the cash, we at least want to be able to check in with you before we go ahead. Line Editing, Copy Editing, Proof Reading OK. We’ve dealt with the broader, more structural types of editing. We’re now going to home in on the ever finer-grained types of editing. We’ll start as before with some definitions. Definitions Of the detailed, line-by-line type edits, line-editing is the one that has the broadest remit. I’ll start with proof-reading (the most narrowly defined of these editorial stages) and build upwards from there. Proof-reading comes at the final stage prior to printing/publication. It basically assumes that the manuscript has already been checked over thoroughly, so this is really only a final check for errors that have managed to slip through the net. (And, in fact historically, the process of type-setting for print often introduced errors, so proof-reading was partly necessary to reverse those. These days, unsurprisingly, you can format a document for print without messing it up.) The kind of errors a proof-reader will catch include: typos, misspellings, punctuation errors, missing spaces, and the like. It’s a micro-level, final-error catching task, and nothing much else. Copy-editing includes everything included in proofreading, but it’ll have a somewhat broader scope. So a copy editor will also be on the look out for factual errors, timetable and other inconsistencies in the novel, occasional instances of unclear or weak phrasing, awkward repetitions, deviations from house style (if there is a house style), and so on. In the traditional publishing sequence, copy editing will take place after all structural editing has been done, but before the book has been set for print. Line-editing will cover everything that’s detailed above, plus a general check for sentence structure, clarity and sense. In other words, it is part of a line editor’s job to fix clumsily phrased, repetitious or otherwise awkward sentences. Yes, you the author should not be writing clumsily in the first place, but if by chance you do, the line editor is there to put things right. Why does anyone ever want or need line-editing? Well, some authors are brilliant at generating character and story, but their actual sentence-by-sentence expression of that story just isn’t so great. In these cases, a publisher will commission a line-edit to put those things right. The Editing Process: What You Need & when You Need It Right. What kind of editing you need and should pay for depends on what kind of publication you are looking at. So: The Traditional Publishing Sequence The normal publishing sequence (for traditionally published books) would be: Structural editing (ie: a detailed manuscript assessment)Copy-editing (or line editing if the author really needs it, but never both things)Proof-reading That’s it. If you are aiming at traditional publication, then you may well need to invest in a manuscript assessment, in order to write something of the quality needed for a literary agent / publisher. You certainly won’t need copy editing, or anything along those lines. That’ll be carried out, for free, by the publisher down the line. (They’ll also do some more structural editing work too, but don’t worry about that – you can’t get too much, and your book always gets better.) The Indie Publishing Sequence Indie publishers, inevitably, focus more on cost-cutting than the Big 5 houses do, so a typical indie process might look simply like this: Some kind of structural support – probably an editorial assessment or something similarSome kind of copy-editing support If you don’t have the budget for both, I’d urge you to get the structural help: that’s what will really make the difference to the sheer readability of your book. That’s where to spend your funds. Indeed, though we at Jericho Writers offer a full range of copyediting and proofreading services, I don’t usually advise writers to invest in them at all. If you are an indie on a lowish launch budget (which is the right kind of budget to have when you’re just starting out), then I’d recommend an editing plan along roughly the following lines: Full editorial assessment, ideally from Jericho Writers (because we’re really good at it.)You then rework your book in the light of what you’ve been toldYou then give it a good hard proofread yourself for any errors and typosYou then enlist the help of any eagle-eyed friends to do the same That plan won’t give you a manuscript as clean as if you give it the full cost-no-object Big 5 treatment … but it’ll be just fine. Don’t overspend at this stage. The Indie Publishing Sequence OK. You know the basic layout of what editing is and when it’s used. Here’s what I think the big questions are. Developmental Editing Vs Structural Editing You know my view on this. I think for 99% of you reading this, you are best off (a) working and self-editing as hard as you can yourself, then (b) getting professional input on your work from a structural editor. That’s going to be miles cheaper and the end result will be better too. Yes, you’ll need to do a lot of work, but you’re a writer. You like work. (If you don’t, you’re in the wrong job.) If you are a newer author, you may well need two or three rounds of structural input. That’s fine. That’s not a failure on your part. That’s you learning a new trade. It’s money well spent – and you can prove it to yourself too. Just ask yourself: are you a better, more knowledgeable, more capable writer at the end of the process? If the answer isn’t yes, I’ll eat my boots, jingly spurs and all. (*) * – disclosure: I don’t actually wear spurs. Structural Editing Vs Copy Editing OK, these are two very different things, but of the two, the structural editing definitely matters more. The purpose of structural / substantive editing is simply: make your book the best book it can be. The purpose of copy editing is simply: make the text as clean as it can be. Both things matter, but if your budget only permits one of those things, then go for structural editing, every day of the week. A wonderful story is much more important than tidy text. And again, though we sell copyediting services, you shouldn’t need them at all if you are heading for trad publication, and you should probably be able to find an acceptable but much cheaper substitute if you are self-publishing. Line Editing Vs Copy Editing Vs Proof-reading If you are going to get line-by-line corrections to your MS, then the default answer is to go for copy editing. Proof-reading is really too narrow, and only really makes sense if your book has already been copy edited. (Which is fine if you have a Big 5 budget, but makes no sense for you.) Line editing is really only required if your sentence construction isn’t yet all it could be, in which case I’d urge you to invest in upskilling. Quite simply: as a pro author, you should be in command of your language. If you’re not, and have to pay a line editor, and if you intend to write 10, 15, 20 or more books over the course of your career, you’ll end up paying a fortune. Much, much better to nurture those exact skills in yourself, and you’ll never need to spend a penny on a line edit. Also: writing well is good for your soul and writing beautiful sentences is a source of beauty and joy forever. So don’t give anyone else the pleasure. And Finally … That’s it from me. Thanks for reading. If you’ve read this far, you may also like: Help on how to present your manuscript Help on how to self-edit your novel If you need help figuring out what kind of editorial process (or, indeed, other support) might be right for you, then get in touch. Jericho Writers does not have a sales team or employ salespeople or pay anyone on commission. Our customer service people are only allowed to recommend a particular service if they genuinely think it would be helpful to the writer concerned. We’re run by writers for writers, and we’re on your side. Thanks for reading – and happy editing!
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Marketing tips for authors

You’ve written a book. You’ve got it all the way through production, either with the help of a traditional publisher or on your own, via self-publishing. And all that seemed like plenty of effort, did it not? You’d think that you could now lie back in the warm sun of adulation as readers flocked to your books and asked you intense questions about just how you found your inspiration. And then, you know. Reality. If you have a traditional publisher and you’re lucky with them and the book, then things really can be like they were in your dreams. Huge retail distribution. Big sales. All that adulation. But even for traditionally published authors, those things are rare. The situation for most of us (and I’m a hybrid author, both traditionally and self-published) is that we see our books – our beautiful, published books – languishing a long way from the happy sunlight at the top of the bestseller charts. So, what to do? There’s a lot you can do, in fact, and some of the tools are very potent indeed. So here’s the top dozen things to try. Some are more complex than others. Some cost money. Some are as free and easy as winter rain. So let’s explore. We’ll start with stuff that’s easy, cheap and relatively low in effectiveness … and move up the ladder to stuff that’s harder, but more potent. 1. Post Something On Your Blog You have a blog, right? Preferably integrated into your own website that has a domain name of the form yourname.com. If you’re not yet there, well – you need to get there. A decent looking website just is necessary these days. These things can be put together for almost nothing these days, though if you’re serious about your career, I think you’ll do what you need to do to create something of quality. In any case, use your site to tell a story. Don’t sell at the reader. No one loves to have stuff shoved at them. Your best bet is to tell a story that engages in some way … and then make it unbelievably easy for readers to buy your book if they want to. That means creating easy, obvious links to your Amazon page, at the top, front and middle of your piece. Need to set up a website? Here’s how. 2. Create Author Profiles On Amazon And Goodreads Readers hang out both on Amazon and Goodreads. Both sites want authors to claim their profiles. Use a photo that feels personal. Write a short bio that feels human and engaged. If you want to reference your favourite authors (ones writing in a similar field to you, of course), then do so. These things won’t create readers overnight, but they are part of any modern author’s armoury. Basically, you must do them. Having said that – don’t misdirect your attention either. I have yet to meet a professional author who thinks that being active on Goodreads is a good way to spend time. It isn’t. You need to create an attractive profile there, then leave it. Spending hours engaging with the community will not create sales. Advertising on Goodreads is a simple way to lose money. Create a good-looking author page following Amazon’s own recipe. 3. Create An Author Page On Facebook (And Connect It To Your Blog) You don’t want to mix your personal page with your professional one, so set up a yournameauthor page on Facebook. Maintaining that page as well as your blog will drive you crazy, so make sure that when you post on your blog, that post pops up both on your Facebook author page and on your Goodreads one. The truth is that probably no one may read your blog much in the first instance – these things take time to grow and even major authors don’t necessarily have huge volumes of site traffic. But readers do congregate on Goodreads and Facebook and they do like to see some personal, engaging material on authors they may happen to stumble across. So create the material on your blog. Pipe it over – automatically – to those other sites. If you can’t do that by yourself, then pay someone to do it. You’re an author not a tech-expert, so it’s OK to pay others when you need to … and there are cheap or free ways to automate these things, so paying someone to make the connections shouldn’t cost you much. Read up on more tips for your author page. 4. Open Yourself Up To Twitter Yeah, I know. If you like Twitter, you’re already on it. If you’re not, that’s because you hate it and can’t see the point. And I hate Twitter. I don’t like the zero-attention-span, weirdly formatted, near-impenetrable texts that the damn site is full of. Also: you cannot sell stuff via Twitter. Yes, this is a post about marketing your work. Yes, I am recommending that you join Twitter. And yes, I have just told you that you cannot sell on Twitter. It’s not just me that thinks that last thing. The digital marketing manager at a major publishing house told me the exact same thing. I’ve also seen data that calls into question the degree to which even a really ‘successful’ Twitter campaign can influence sales. The only real exception is where you are already established enough that you don’t have to sell your book, but you can notify people that it’s there. All that said, you still need to be on Twitter because numerous people that you may want to connect with (bloggers, other authors, marketing types, industry folk) may not publish an email address, but are publicly and easily available on Twitter. And if you want to reach those people, you don’t just need to be signed up to the service, you do need to follow some people, and get followed back, just so that you don’t look like the only naked one in the room. It’s a faff, yes, but you’re marketing your books and you can’t ignore Twitter just because you #hateit. And – once you’ve signed up, and got properly started – then start to contact the people that matter. And remember that conversations on Twitter are like conversations anywhere. You don’t just barge in and shout and try to sell stuff. Be courteous, interested, and – when you have a relationship – you politely enquire if Person X might be interested in your very fine Y. Out of those relationships, come invitations to appear on blogs, to get book reviews, to do Q&As and all the rest of it. There are other ways to reach those people – email works, and there are some great groups on Facebook – but Twitter is still the easiest way to make that first knock on the door. Need more on getting started? Find out more from these people. 5.Use Your Ebooks As A Platform To Sell Your Ebooks If you have more than one ebook, then make sure that your ebooks are properly set up to sell each other. That means that in the back of each e-book you have a proper listing of your titles – updated, please, as new books come out. That listing shouldn’t just list the actual titles, you should also include some enticing sales copy and think about including a book cover too. The point is to catch readers when they’ve just finished your book – when they’re still half in love with your character, still giddy with the excitement of your ending – and get them to buy more stuff. So put that stuff under their noses, and make it very attractive, very engaging and very buyable. And that’s only step one! You also, crucially, need to make it unbelievably easy for people to buy the books they’re looking at. That means (for most indies) a simple link to Amazon in your mobi files – or rather three, as you’ll need different links for the .com, .ca, and .co.uk sites. Traditionally published authors can’t – for complicated reasons to do with their publishers’ contractual situation – place the same easy links to Amazon. So what you need to do is create a kind of “choose your e-store” page. That page will basically just bounce people from your ebook to the reader’s choice of e-store. You can see a fine example of such a page right here. Notice that although that page exists on my own website – harrybingham.com – it’s shorn of all in-site navigation. That is, once you arrive on the ‘choose your estore’ page, there’s absolutely nothing to do except choose your estore and move on. Also – obviously – the links are to your page on the various estores, not just the home page. Getting your ebook to sell effectively at the end of the book is essential and it’s a free and easy way to make additional sales. The best way to understand what the back end of an ebook should like is to look at an ebook that has been carefully designed to sell an entire series. My own ebooks do just that, like the back of The Dead House. Notice the author’s note, the series listing, those “choose your estore” links, and the multiple email sign-up opportunities. 6. Get Clever With Your Bisac Codes Your BISAC codes or ‘browse categories’ tell Amazon where to shelve your book. (Find out more here.) And mostly, you’ll want to shelve it in places that actually collect some traffic – so “Romance/Historical” say, rather than “Family and Friendship”. But it’s hard to climb far enough up those major categories to really find eyeballs … and one brilliant, if sneaky, little trick is to choose one BISAC code that’s so minor you just don’t need to make many sales to hit that #1 position. And once you have that #1 position, Amazon tags your book with a sweet little #1 bestseller icon … which is a wonderful lure to anyone stumbling across your book. And, in any case, remember that your BISAC codes are infinitely malleable. If your original choices aren’t working for you, then change them. Mess around and see what works. That’s free and it’s easy. If you’re traditionally published, then you won’t have direct access to these codes, but do ask your publisher what they’re doing, and test their answer. Make sure they have a strategy and are revising it if need be. 7. Get Clever With Your Keywords And Subtitles Try typing something into Amazon now. Just type the first two or three letters of whatever you’re searching for and Amazon will quickly offer you a dropdown list of things it guesses you might be seeking. Sometimes, it’ll offer you the name of an author (‘Harry Bingham’). But often enough it offers you thematic-type searches – things like ‘psychological thriller’ or ‘historical novels’. Those thematic search terms are great to use as keywords for your book – just make sure they pop up on those Amazon dropdowns, because if they don’t, then no one is searching for them. And once you’ve chosen your keywords, do shove them into your series titles or subtitles, because use of a keyword with subtitle/series title support always beats an equivalent book which lacks that support. If you’re self-published, you already know about this and are probably already doing it. If you’re traditionally published, you may well think that this is all complicated stuff and your publishers presumably know their onions. Except they may not do. A huge proportion of traditional publishers have been trained and brought up in a world of bricks and mortar print. Editors who came into the industry because they wanted to edit books may simply not want to deal with the minutiae of keywords and series titles. Results: some huge and supposedly sophisticated firms can be blithering morons when it comes to online visibility. So ask. Understand the answers. And ask again. Do not let this one get away. Learn more about keywords. 8. Pricing So easy, this, but I’ve relegated the matter of price to a long way down this list because unless you have other ingredients of your marketing platform well-set in advance, the impact of a pricing tweak will dissipate far too fast into the cloudless blue. But once you are happy with your author platform, once you have optimised your ebooks, once you do have your keywords and your BISAC codes and all the rest of your metadata straight, then press the pricing button. Dropping your price from $4.99 or $2.99 down to $0.99 will give you an immediate strong but relatively short-term boost to pricing. All the same, that boost gets more readers into your series and gives you the chance to make full-price sales of later books. I do also recommend the use of Amazon’s useful pricing tool, KDP Pricing Support (available via Kindle Direct), locked it would seem in permanent beta. The tool shows you the impact of pricing on both readers and revenues. You want revenues, of course. That’s your aim. On the other hand, nearly all authors want to grow their readership in the hope of earning even larger revenues down the road, in which case you’ll want to price somewhat to the left of that ‘revenue maximising point’. Dipping down to $0.99 or $2.99 to raise visibility, then jumping back to a higher price point makes great sense. If you live at the lower price levels all the time, you’ll find that you don’t secure any extra kick staying there. You’re better off with a kind of yo-yo strategy. 9. Email Lists If you don’t keep an email list, you need to create one. If you do have one, then you probably know how to use it. But for a whistle-stop tour of why you need one and how to make one, then here you go. A. You need your readers’ email addresses so you can contact your customers directly when you have a new product. It’s like when you buy a new dress from an online retailer: they’ll be in touch later to say, ‘Hey, you like dresses. We’ve got some more dresses. How about it?’ That tactic was and is the best marketing tactic ever invented. You’re basically talking to customers who like your stuff and have been ready to buy it in the past. They’re the very first people to go back to when you have more products available to sell. B. You collect readers email addresses by setting up a ‘Readers’ Club’. People want to be part of a readers’ club attaching to a series or author that they love. C. You can’t just take stuff (an email address), you must give, too, and what you give has got to be a lot better than one email address. But you’re a writer, yes? And readers are committed to writers. Write a long short story or a short novella and give it away for free to anyone who signs up to your club. The story should be exclusive, for subscribers only. If you sell the thing on Amazon, you’re demeaning the gift, so don’t do it. D. In terms of techie stuff, you need an email provider – most likely Mailchimp – and a sign-up page. If that sentence frightens you, then pay someone to do the necessary. Your aim is to have a landing page that functions like this one. There’s no in-site navigation, big obvious sign-up buttons, plenty of use of the word ‘free’. Oh, and don’t ask for an email straight away because that seems grabby. Only ask for an email address in direct response to a customer’s request. Only when a user on my website clicks the “Get my download now” button do I ask for an email address. In other words, let them give the orders. You only ask for the address to fulfil that command. E. Where do you get your email sign-ups from? Well, yes, from the website, except that realistically the only people who come to your website with the intent to join your Readers’ Club are people who have just read and enjoyed one of your books. The real source of sign-ups is from within the ebooks themselves. I have graphic calls-to-action in the front and back of my ebooks and text-only links underneath and a call to action in my author’s note and a further one in my series listing. That sounds horribly overdone, except that it seems perfectly natural when you have the book in your hand. And get this: I get about one email sign-up for every five ebooks I sell. That’s a very good ratio, which means I can reach at least 20% of my readers by email whenever I want. F. How do you use the email list once you’ve got it? Answer: as little as possible. People will just unsubscribe if you blast them with unwanted crap, so keep it very light. I reckon that two emails a year is (in most cases) plenty. One to announce when a book goes up for pre-order. Another to nudge people when that book is published or enjoying a special and temporary price promotion. G. And, to be clear, the real beauty of the email list is not the fact that you can collect however many hundred sales. It’s that because those sales are densely focused around the time you send the email, you can instantly jump into the bestseller charts, at which point Amazon’s own algorithms will start giving you a ton of visibility – then, consequently, a whole heap of additional sales. The email list isn’t there to sell to the people on the list only, it’s there to multiply your visibility whenever you choose to do it. Lovely! 10.The Joy Of Facebook And finally, the simplest way to get sales is the most traditional way of all. Advertising. Placing ads is not particularly hard or technical or difficult. You simply go into Facebook and click the little down arrow on the right-hand side of the top navigation bar. You’ll get a drop down with ‘Your pages’ at the top. You want to click on ‘Create Ads’ a little further down that list and you’re off. The things you really, really need to know about Facebook advertising are as follows. First, Facebook-world distinguishes between Campaigns, Ad-sets, and Ads. The Campaign might include all the ads you use to promote a book. The Ad-sets are defined by budget and audience. The ads themselves are defined by the text and images that you use. The five great keys of Facebook advertising are: 1. Start with small budgets£10 a day is fine. When you get a sense of what works, add money cautiously to the ad variant(s) that is/are working. And don’t woosh the budget up from £10 to £100, as that can throw sand in Facebook’s ad gears. Go up in 50% increments, even if you’re impatient. Watch what works – and the key metric here is cost per click. How much does it cost you to send a qualified, interested reader through to your Amazon page? 2. Test, test and test againTry varying audiences, headlines and either image or ad text. Once you evolve your best audience, your best headline and so on, you can pile your resources in there. And don’t vary everything all at once. You need to be able to compare ads that are basically identical except for one thing changed. 3. Always include an emotional reason to buyWhat will your book make the reader feel? What mood do you want to convey? You need to make sure that your image, your text and your headlines are all in sync with that mood. 4. Always include ‘social proof’People are – rightly – suspicious of ads, because those ads want to take money off the reader. So include ‘proofs of excellence’ from whatever source you can. I have nice reviews from well-known newspapers and bloggers, so I tend to use those. Others will use things like ‘Over fifty-five-star reviews’ or ‘Readers are saying that …’ Whatever you do, make sure that your ad is conveying the idea that other people like this book. That way, no one is dumb for forking out a few dollars for it. 5. Always include a rational reason to buyPeople know that they can go to Amazon any time they want to pick up books at full price, so an ad that says, in effect, ‘Here’s just one more full-price book on Amazon’ will struggle to achieve real traction. So discount your book. Slap something on the ad that says, ‘Now only £1.99’ (or similar). Your ad has got to make people feel (i) Oooh, I like the sound of that, and (ii) better get in there now, before the price goes back up. And – of course – start modestly. Track results. Stick to budgets. And be quick to pull out or pull back if things don’t go the way you want. It’s easy to spend a ton of money on Facebook – and that’s fine only if you’re making two tons of money via Amazon. So that’s items one to ten on an author’s marketing list. The last two of these tools are extremely potent but do work best if you’ve done all or most of the other things first. Good luck, and happy marketing!
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When The Agent-Author Relationship Goes Bad

by Lesley McDowell It’s probably the most-asked writers’ question: How do I get an agent? And it’s probably one of the best answered, too. There’s no lack of advice on this subject, from Jericho Writers’ own Agent Match to any number of websites and chat forums, with agents themselves, publishers, and well-known writers, all offering tips and stratagems to hook that must-have gatekeeper to publishing heaven. But what happens once you have secured an agent? How you conduct that relationship, one of the most important you’ll ever have in your writing and publishing career, is crucial. If it goes well, then that’s great. But if it goes wrong, what can you do? Where oh where is the advice you need then? Because these relationships do go wrong – a lot. It’s hard to realise that from the lack of information out there because the publishing industry doesn’t like talking about the downside. It’s an industry that thrives on the positive, not the negative – it needs writers as much as writers need it, and it doesn’t want to put them off. Which is understandable. And a bad agent-author relationship is not what the industry wants to have to deal with. But writers do have to deal with it, and deal with it more often than they might expect. Why It Goes Wrong Is your agent not returning your emails or calls? Is s/he your agent not sending your book out to all the publishers that they promised they would? Is it a personality clash? Are you just not the right ‘fit’ for one another? First of all, you want to establish if you’re making your agent any money or not. If not, then they may want rid of you, they just won’t say it. I’ve been with three agents so far. We tend to think a multiplicity of agents in our career is a bad thing, because we all know the stories of successful writers who have had the same agent since forever, who’s their best friend, their right-hand man/woman, godparent to their first born, etc. It’s the agent-author relationship we all aspire to: success on both sides, as the agent nabs the best deals with the biggest publishers, and the writer cements said agent’s income and status by selling big and winning awards. Fabulous. Unfortunately, a lot of the time it doesn’t work like that. And while we shouldn’t blame our agents if they can’t sell our work to a publisher, or if said publisher can’t sell enough of our work to the public or get it onto prestigious shortlists, we can and should hold our agents to account if they’re ignoring us as a result of our book or manuscript failing. My three agents were all very different. One was with a huge agency, two were with smaller ones, and in different locations. Two were strangers before I signed with them, one was a friend. I left all three of them, although in one case I definitely jumped before I was pushed. Why did I move on each time? Well, the first time was because I didn’t feel my agent was very engaged with my work or pushing it with publishers. Her response to my novel manuscript was generic and I worried I was going to miss out. My second book had just come out and was getting a lot of coverage. I thought I might be in a strong position to get someone else so I moved on. Some people have likened the author-agent relationship to dating, and when you want out, the excuses tend to be the same (‘It’s not you, it’s me’ – I did actually use that one; ‘I think the timing/chemistry/feeling’s just not right/there’; ‘You just don’t understand me’ etc). And because having to end it is always excruciating, we use these excuses, when the truth almost certainly lies elsewhere and goes unspoken. My second move wasn’t so much of an ending because we had a kind of understanding in the beginning that if he got me a deal, I’d stay with him, and if he didn’t, I wouldn’t (already it sounds so personal). In the end, I got my third deal myself, but I still paid him an agent fee because he’d done a good job sending round a non-fiction proposal for another book (which didn’t make it). My fourth book, a historical novel, wasn’t really his area, so I went shopping for another agent, and, after a lot of leg work, I ‘hooked’ one. What To Do When It Does Go Wrong My third agent experience was the one that really pushed the scariest questions. When you find yourself in a no-win situation and you know you want to leave, these are the ones you lie awake at night asking yourself: ‘Is it too late to back out of my contract?’ ‘Will it harm my chances of signing with anyone else if I do this again?’ ‘Is moving from agent to agent just making me look bad?’ I was never given a reason for my third agent ignoring me, but it soon seemed clear why. After signing me up, she had worked with me over a few months to get my manuscript right, then sent it out with much excitement. After three months, I’d heard nothing so I emailed her but got no reply. Then just three days before Christmas, she emailed me the news that the first round of publishers had all rejected it. I burst into tears, but she had promised to send it round a second lot of publishers in the New Year, so I clung to that small ray of hope. She didn’t email me again until the end of February, and that was only because I’d eventually rung her to ask what was happening (she was ‘in a meeting’ and couldn’t come to the phone). By May, I’d had two emails from her in 8 months, no list of the publishers she’d sent my manuscript to in the first instance, despite my repeated requests to see their responses, no idea who she’d sent it to in a second round (there was no ‘second round’, as it transpired), and my requests to meet face-to-face were ignored. I couldn’t ignore it any longer – I was being ‘ghosted’, and probably because of my book’s failure to get picked up in the first round. I was being dropped, without it being spoken out loud. What on earth should I do? Hang on in there? Hope that someone out of the blue took my book and my agent started talking to me again? I looked for advice online, but there was little to help me. I asked agented friends, but they weren’t sure either. I came to the only conclusion I could. My confidence was being eroded – I hadn’t written anything in the eight months since my agent had sent out my novel, and all my ideas for other books seemed pointless. I had to stop feeling worthless because I was being ignored, and that was when I knew I had to end it. So I did. I emailed to say I wasn’t happy with her lack of response and felt that the relationship wasn’t working for me. No reply. I emailed again, this time to say quite firmly, that it was over. No reply. I posted a written letter, as my contract stated that it could be terminated only in writing. No reply. I wrote another letter. Finally, a response, thanking me for my ‘brave, wonderful novel’. It was a relief. It took another six months after I ended the contract for me to start writing again, but at least the writing did return. I don’t yet have another agent, but my confidence is still growing and I am looking for one. I’m also trying smaller publishers who don’t require submissions from an agent. 10 Top Tips For Surviving The Wrong Agent I’ve learned several things from this experience, and here is my advice to anyone in a similar situation. Do not let anybody, be it agent or publisher, damage your confidence. That’s different from feeling sore after a rejection, or refusing to take advice on rewrites. It’s about protecting yourself from damaging treatment by someone who appears to be holding all the cards (because they don’t).If your agent is ignoring your emails about a new manuscript you’ve submitted, and this continues for over six months, cut them loose. They’re not working for you.If your agent promises to send your work out but they don’t, and all you get is prevarications and excuses, cut them loose, too.Agents need writers as much as writers need agents. There may be far more writers out there than there are agents, but the right one for you still exists, you just haven’t found them yet. Keep looking.Get used to the notion that in your career you may go through many agents. Just as we now move from publisher to publisher more than we did in the past, so too with agents are we more mobile. Scriptwriters in tv and film got used to this years ago; now print writers have to as well.Don’t believe an agent who promises you the moon, but do hold them to account if they’re falling below deliverable promises.Give an agent a chance to correct what they’ve done before you fire them.Don’t be afraid to talk about your bad experience. The less silence there is on this subject, the better for everyone.Trust your instincts: if your instincts say this isn’t working, then they’re probably right.Remember that, as a writer, you’re more than just a brand. Recently, my blog about this experience was viewed over 1000 times and I was inundated with writers, some very well-known, on their own bad experiences. So it does happen to most of us at some time, and it is survivable. The important thing I learned from it is to develop a sense of flexibility, appreciate your own mobility, and keep positive. This is the game, but some know how to play it better than others. You have to make sure you are one of the better informed. Lesley is one of our fantastic editors who is available to give you an in-depth, constructive critique on your novel of agent submission pack. You can find out more about our editorial services here. To read more of Lesley’s blog, you can have a read of her blog here. More On Finding An Agent Link to: How to Find a Literary Agent (the Simple 8 Step Guide) Find An Agent In eight simple steps
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Second Novel Syndrome (the Disease, the Symptoms, the Cure)

Sarah Ann Juckes is part of Jericho Writers’ marketing team . . . but like a few of us at JW, she’s also an author. Her debut novel, The Proof of the Outside, is published with Penguin Random House in 2019. And that’s great news – she’s being published! Yay! – and also terrible news. Because it means she’s in the middle of second novel purgatory. Here’s her take on all of that . . . I know what you’re thinking. Why do I need to read a blog post about Second Novel Syndrome, when I haven’t even finished the first? Well, publishing is a funny thing. In January 2017, I wondered if I’d ever get a novel published. By March that same year, I had an agent and my book was in the London Book Fair catalogue. When it happens, it can happen fast. [Ed’s Note: It kinda helps if you come to one of Jericho Writers’ events. That’s where the magic happened for our Sarah.] What Is Second Novel Syndrome? Second novel syndrome (SNS) isn’t talked about a lot. I spent twelve years writing books and trying to get an agent, and I didn’t think much about what would happen after that. Getting an agent felt like an impossible end goal. It wasn’t. Second books are actually notoriously difficult to write. I know – I didn’t think they would be, either. I wrote three ‘practice’ books before I made it with my debut. What’s the big deal about writing one more? SNS Symptom #1 – You Have Way Less Time I started my debut novel in July 2014. In 2015, I completely trashed the draft and started again. In 2016, I wrote my next draft as part of a writing course, and then completely changed it again in the summer of that year, thanks to some feedback from an agent. All in all, the novel took me two and a half years to write – and then another year editing it with my agent and editors after that. When I casually asked my agent when publishers expect an author’s second book, she said ‘usually a year after delivery of the first’. Yep – a year. Somewhere in that year, I had to come up with an astounding concept that was as good as the first. I had to research, plan and write a terrible first draft (that I could bin and re-write entirely, before no doubt re-writing again). All of this whilst trying to hold down a full-time job and all those other things that go with being a human being. The cure: make more time Certainly not an easy feat. For me, I’ve had to cut my working week to four days, so I have at least one day to donate entirely to writing. I work from home as much as I can, so I have more energy to write in the evenings. This won’t be doable for everyone. Find the pockets of time you can squeeze out of your day, no matter how big or small, knuckle down and make that happen. SNS Symptom #2 – You Now Have Multiple Projects On Your Hands I’m a bit of a loyal writer. When I have my head in a book, it consumes me. Over the last year, I’ve learnt that it’s not really possible to write a second book and have it consume you. I’ve had to split my time between writing my new book and editing my old one – occasionally dropping the new project completely to make a deadline. Some writers are already brilliant at project juggling. For me – it’s been a big learning curve. The cure: learn how to juggle projects As your writing career progresses, you’re going to have more and more projects to juggle. When you’re writing your fifth book, you might still be doing events on your debut. No one talks about it, but it is one of those skills you have to learn if you want to be a professional writer. I’m still in the process of learning it, but so far, I’ve found that sectioning my working week can help differentiate between projects. In the morning, I could be working on debut edits from home. Then in the afternoon, I take my laptop to a café and I throw some words down for book two. SNS Symptom #3 – You Can’t Shake Off Your Last Book My debut was written in first person present, from the point of view of a girl with a distinctive voice and a weird way of seeing the world. I’ve spent three and a half years with her, and I’m still with her now. She’s difficult to shake off. I’ve written over a hundred first pages of my new novel, and they’re still not quite right. I need a new, equally distinctive, but completely different voice – but everything I write still seems to be about her. The cure: get out of your comfort zone If, like me, you’re struggling to find a new voice, try writing your story in a completely different way to your first. For example, I’ve found writing in verse to be a helpful way in. Writing poetry means I can get to know my new character in a place my previous protagonist doesn’t belong. Yes – I’ll probably scrap every word. But with first drafts, everything and anything you can write will help you reach the finish line. SNS Symptom #4 – Your Next Book Needs To Be As Good As Your First Nothing I can say here will sum this up better than this tweet by @AdamSilvera:https://platform.twitter.com/embed/index.html?dnt=false&embedId=twitter-widget-0&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=936292116594032640&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fjerichowriters.com%2Fhub%2Fhow-to-write%2Fsecond-novel-syndrome%2F&siteScreenName=jerichowriters&theme=light&widgetsVersion=ed20a2b%3A1601588405575&width=550px As a writer, I feel the need to impress. My agent is amazing – she fights in my corner and believes wholeheartedly in my writing. I want to hand her a new novel that is even more amazing than she thought my first one was. Unfortunately, what I’m actually writing is terrible. I mean – of course it is. She saw my debut after two rewrites and a year of edits. All she’s going to see now is that first draft I’m going to throw away. Knowing this doesn’t make it any easier. And, of course, when we’re writing something we don’t think is as good as it could be, it can be difficult to keep going. It becomes easier to stop for a bit, maybe have a tidy up, or obsessively scour Pinterest for home décor ideas… (Not that I do that.) The cure: forget about other people This one I definitely find the hardest, as I have a (somewhat ridiculous) need to please people. The truth is though – other people don’t matter when it comes to first drafts. Anyone who writes, or who knows writing, will know that first drafts are for the writer to work out what it is they want to write. First drafts of book two do not need to be as good as your finished debut. And – all because you have an agent now, doesn’t mean you are suddenly a know-it-all, master writer. All writers need to keep learning and – importantly – keep making mistakes. The important thing is that we keep writing. That’s the only way horrible first drafts get turned into published novels. Second Novel Syndrome: A Cure There is no complete cure for Second Novel Syndrome other than just doing it. But do remember this: Jericho Writers is a club for writers like you. Like us, in fact. It’s low cost. It’s got an easy cancel-any-time structure, which means your upfront risk is minimal. And the basic idea is, we furnish you with all the tools and resources you could possibly want to develop your skills as a writer and as an author. If that sounds even half interesting to you, then pop over here to learn more about our Club. It was built for people like you. We’d love it if you joined us. More On How To Write A Book Link to: How to Write a Book (10 Doable Steps for New Writers) How To Write A step-by-step guide
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Predictions in book publishing

Over the years, there have been countless bold (and sometimes barmy) predictions about the future of the publishing industry – and of course the industry is still evolving at a rate unprecedented since Guttenberg first looked at a wine press and thought, ‘Hey, now hang on a minute…’ The rate of change means that the future remains highly uncertain, but then, as the cyberpunk writer William Gibson commented, ‘The future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed.’ Gibson’s point is well made. The trends that will determine the future are here today. Making predictions about that future really come down to a judgement about how those trends are going to play out. What follows is a set of predictions and to each one I’ve assigned a probability rating of how likely it is to happen. I should also be clear that I’m not talking about publishing as a whole, or even book publishing – just that corner of it (‘trade publishing’) which deals with fiction and non-fiction for the general reader. Oh, and the illustrations that dot this piece? They’re visions of the future from the past, just to remind us all that I’ve probably got absolutely everything wrong. Print Publishing Will Collapse Probability: <10% Print publishing is plainly not collapsing. The ebook share of trade publishing is hovering at about 21% overall, and about 38% for adult fiction. (Figures true for the US; British ones are not that different.) There are serious suggestions by people on the e-book side of things that the ebook market is going to shrink in 2014, rather than expanding. For what it’s worth, I’d guess that the ebook market share will actually grow a little over time, but not so fast that it won’t have down years as well as up years. Either way, print publishing is here to stay. The Big Book Chains Will Go Bankrupt Probability: >30% I desperately hope the chains don’t go out of business. They do a wonderful job. They are culturally vital. They are essential for ‘discoverability’. And of course, there are genres which are highly dependent on print sales through bookshops. I would also say that, in the UK, Waterstones’ new management is doing a terrific job in challenging circumstances and if anyone can turn the chain around, then they’re the people to do it. All that said, until the big book chains (here and in the US) prove themselves able to make a consistent non-marginal profit, the doubt has to remain. At the moment, Waterstones is in loss as is Barnes & Noble in the US. That’s scary. Publishers Will Consolidate Probability: 100% I’ve slightly cheated there because the consolidation is already happening. Penguin/Random House is the landmark deal for sure, but Hachette has just announced the acquisition of Perseus in the US. These things will progress. The big operators are going to get bigger. That will also mean that Amazon will have a tough job pushing publishers around, because both sides simply need each other too much. Random Penguins wouldn’t, most likely, be profitable without Amazon – but Amazon can’t be the everything store if it doesn’t stock a third of the books market. Price Pressures Will Ease, But Prices Will Still Come Down Probability: 70% Again: the future is with us now. When ebooks first became a force in the industy, publishers tried to maintain paperback style pricing for a digital product. That was a vain attempt and indie publishers simply raced in to the gap left open. Result: publishers allowed ebook prices to float – but those indie publishers who actually wanted to make money as opposed to simply finding readers, realised that revenue maximisation was likelier to happen around the $3-5 range than the $0.99 one. What we see now is probably where prices will settle, give or take a bit of ongoing downward movement. A revenue collapse in publishing analogous to what happened in the musical download market simply has not taken place, and it’s in no one’s interest (except readers’) that it should. Piracy Will Kill Writing For Profit Probability: <10% See above. Essentially this hasn’t happened and won’t happen, except that what happens in each different national market depends on things like the attitude to piracy, the effectiveness of official sanctions, the price level in that market, the ease of using legitimate services, and so on. So yes, there could be major problems in specific national markets, but there won’t be an apocalypse. Phew! Big Publishers Will Print More Trash … And Micro-publishers Will Take A Larger Share Of Literary Prizes Probability: 100% Again, this is a part of the future that has essentially happened and won’t reverse. Random House made a huge amount of money and everyone else followed suit to the best of their ability. Likewise, the indie revolution has shown that there are plenty of low-brow genre works that readers are happy to gobble up. Big Publishing has always been about turning a buck, so it’s only logical that publishers are happy to go where readers lead them. The flip side of that coin is that Big Publishing has long struggled to make a go of ‘smaller’ literary novels. The number of those things being published by the big guys has fallen sharply over the years and that’s not about to reverse. But of course, terrific literary fiction is still being written and there are still people passionate enough (and financially crazy enough) to ensue that the stuff gets published. Our own Elly Millar and Sam Jordison (two of our fine editors) founded Galley Beggar Press out of passion – and they’ve just had their first absolutely smash hit success. Such stories are far more common than they were, and will only go on increasing. Ebooks Will Dominate Various Niches And Be Almost Irrelevant In Others Probability: 75% In the US, crime fiction is already an ebook genre. Some 75% of sales are electronic, and the ratio for romance (if we include indie authors, as we ought to) is probably even greater. SFF, paranormal romance, fan fiction, anything dystopian … all these are areas where ebooks do and will continue to predominate. With literary fiction, the reverse is true. It’s hard to think of a single literary novel which arose out of the e-book industry and there will be very few where print sales don’t predominate. Those things show no signs of altering. The Old Channels Of Acclaim Still Matter Probability: >80% Following on from the above point, literary novelists are still highly dependent on the old channels of acclaim. All the old methods for establishing reputations still apply: prominence in bookshops, good reviews, puffs from Important People, festivals and mainstream media appearances. For non-literary types, those things may be less essential – it’s easy to think of a genre sensation arising without any of those things. James Oswald, would be just one example. EL James and High Howey would be others. There are a lot of them. That said, however, a good majority of genre authors – especially mid- and upmarket genre authors – are well served by those old channels and breakout exceptions in these areas will continue to be the exception not the rule. There Will Be Swaths Of Non-fiction Where Indie Authors Will (Or Should) Predominate Probability: 50% Want a good book on bee-keeping? Or help you improve your archery, or groom your poodle? If so, your local bookshop will almost certainly disappoint you. Very few bookshops stock a range of titles large enough to house these kind of niche non-fiction needs, which means that you will almost certainly head to Amazon or some other online seller. But that raises the question what publishers are for in these areas. For sure, they can edit, copy-edit, design and print a book – but those things are all fairly easily purchased elsewhere. In return, publishers currently ask for 75% of all ebook receipts and a somewhat similar share of receipts from bookshops (net of printing & logistics costs). For most authors, that’s a pretty lousy deal. Indeed, I’ve written two such non-fiction titles in my time (How to Write and Getting Published). One of those books sees about 2/3 of its total sales taking place online. The other sees more than 4/5 of its sales down that route. Now I’m no idiot: I could perfectly well have self-published both titles. I’d have lost some – not many – bookshop sales, but I’d have made a stack load by retaining the full share of receipts from Amazon. Most niche non-fiction authors will be in a similar position. At present, it’s fair to say that most non-fiction authors haven’t noticed these new economics (and I sold those two titles a few years back when the market was different), but that’ll change. The one slam-bam advantage that regular publishers do have and will retain is the kudos of having a ‘properly’ published book. Which is weird, when you think about it: regular publishing could become the new vanity publishing, for certain categories of title at any rate. More ‘traditional’ Authors Will Go Hybrid; Successful Indie Authors Will Also Team With Traditional Publishers Probability: 80% It’s already happening and will happen ever more and with bigger names. And the logic is inescapable. It’s incredibly easy and cheap to e-publish – and though Big Publishing will continue to have clout and authority, those advantages are not insuperable. Plenty of ‘trad’ authors will think that giving conventional publishers 75% of e-royalties for, erp, just what exactly? is a game not worth playing. So we’ll see trad authors (like Barry Eisler) go indie … but we’ll also see indie authors use traditional routes wherever it makes sense. Hugh Howey, for example, is held up (with good reason) as the voice of Indie Publishing, but he also partners up with traditional publishers wherever it makes sense. And quite right too. It’s not ideology; it’s business. This trend will sharpen abruptly over the next few years and will start to include some big conventional names. And that’s good if you’re an author, potentially scary if you’re a publisher. Indie Authors Will Go On Professionalising Probability: 75% Time was when you could tell an indie book cover at a hundred yards, and not in a good way. Ditto, when it came to presentation, copy-editing and story-telling. But even at $0.99, readers want a decent read and authors have responded. Editorial excellence still matters. So does strong presentation. Indie authors have learned those lessons and there will be an ever-smaller gap between the well-published indie novel and the traditionally published sort. Obviously, I’m biased, but I do think that editorial services like our own will continue to matter. (And if your novel needs editorial help, then don’t just sit there – go get it.) Publishers Will Find It Increasingly Hard To Market Books – But Discoverability Will Not Be An Issue For Readers Probability: 80% Publishers find it much, much harder to market books than they used to. Let’s tick off the ways that have either failed or become much less effective: Direct consumer advertising – this is now minimal, except for blockbustersBuying store position – this still happens, but it’s less significant than it wasReview coverage in major newspapers – the available space has shrunk massivelyOther publicity (interviews and the like) – much less space and airtime given to authorsGetting sales teams to pitch hard to bookshops – yes, but bookshops account for a smaller share of the marketBuilding websites to promote a particular book – now never happens; the strategy never workedBuilding gizmos that would go viral – right, sure, that technique always worked.Tooting the horn on social media – yes, but the sales impact of such tooting is usually minimalGetting the author out and about, for book signings and the like – never happened much, never sold many books. Nothing much has changed except that people have realised the effort is largely ineffectual.Direct e-mailings to aficionados of particular genres – yes, but publishers don’t tend to know their audience that well. Jericho Writers’ excellent mailing list is at least twice as big as those of some publishers I could mentionUsing clever SEO and metadata techniques to improve online visibility – that’s hardly a marketing technique, to be honest. Metadata is just catalogue info if it comes down to it. And though these things do matter, the net gain (from an industry wide standpoint) is zero sum. It’s somewhat depressing to review that list, but I doubt if many publishers would disagree – and you’ll often hear publishers bemoaning a ‘discoverability problem’, that is the difficulty of getting good new books to the attention of readers. If that complaint means, “it’s harder for us to market books now than it used to be”, then it’s true. If it means that an increasing share of sales now lies with a handful of super-successful books and authors at the top end, then it’s also true. If it means that readers themselves have trouble in choosing their next book – well, no. Readers today have far more recommendation devices than they used to. It’s not just friends, bookshops and newspapers, it’s a gazillion blogs, it’s Goodreads, it’s book clubs (more common now than in the past), it’s social media, and so on. Me, I don’t like a world where everyone only reads bestsellers but maybe that’s just how readers are if you let them read what they want. And last because this is getting to be an overlong post: The Number Of Books Sold Will Remain Broadly Flat; The Average Cost Of A Book Will Drop A Little; Amazon Will Get More, Publishers Less; Authors’ Share May Improve Probability: phew, tough one, let’s go big and say 75% Number of books remaining broadly flat that’s an easy call. The number of books always remains about the same. Has done for years. Even with all this internettery and mobile stuff, people still read books. Average cost of a book: the average cost of a book has drifted down a little over the years. It’s very hard to see real price increases and even nominal price increases are unlikely given that intelligently applied price discounts are one of the most reliable ways to impact book sales. On top of that, indie authors will always be willing to undercut Big Publishing. So, yes, the price of a book will drift down (in real terms). Amazon getting more of the pie: Amazon gets a rough old treatment in the press. Publishers hate it. Authors complain about it or give loads of money to rivals. Agents rebuke it. The Society of Authors sounds off about it. This is all slightly odd for a number of different reasons. From a love-of-literature point of view, Amazon has brought all the books of the world to every internet-connected household and does so at wonderfully low prices. That’s a stunning achievement in the spread of human knowledge, a real milestone. What’s more, yes Amazon is a big company in terms of market capitalisation and revenues, but – get this – it doesn’t make much money. Random House on its own makes more money than Amazon. Bertelsmann (RH’s owner) makes way more money. When big publishers get into fights over terms with Amazon, they tend to talk like a small dairy farmer being squeezed by Tescos. And that’s plain weird. They’re making loads of money because of Amazon! Amazon isn’t (yet) making much money for all of its market heft. So my prediction really just amounts to this: terms will be rebalanced in Amazon’s favour because some such reckoning is overdue. In addition, since, in the past, publishers earned their share of the cake by effectively marketing the books that authors entrusted them with, it makes share for them to get a little less cake now that much of the marketing power has shifted into other hands. The process will be painful for publishers but – given what’s happened in the music industry – not all that painful. It could have been a lot, lot worse. For you and me, the only prediction that matters is authors’ share of the pie – but for the very first time since I’ve been an author (first book deal: 1998), I can honestly say that things are looking up. Historically, authors have been largely powerless. We had to get into bookshops, or we had no readers. There were only a small (now even smaller) group of publishers who could get us there. Careers were short, incomes small, prospects always precarious. That wasn’t true for the biggest sellers of course, but such sellers are and will always be few and far between. And these days? Well, a lot of that still applies – but (A) we are not now solely dependent on bookshops and (B) self-publishing is cheap and easy. That’s not a perfect negotiating foil by any means (it’s better if you’re a genre writer, almost useless if you’re literary), but an imperfect negotiating position is better than none at all. These are interesting times and for the first time in my more than 15 years in the business I think authors’ incomes might creep up. And at the very least, I can’t see our share of the pie shrinking any further. But what do you think? So much for me, but what about you? What do you think is going to happen? What do you think ought to happen? And do you approve? More On Getting Published Link to: How to Get Your Book Published GETTING PUBLISHED All you need to know
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How Long Does It Take To Publish A First Book?

Jericho Writers welcomes Oxford-based blogger, novelist and poet Lucy Ayrton on to the blog. With the release date of her debut novel, One More Chance, just around the corner, Lucy shares how long it took to publish her book and the many unexpected detours on her journey to publication. The first time I thought I’d finished my novel was in November 2015. It was 80,000 words and it had a beginning, a middle and an end, and I’d given it to some friends for feedback and made some minor changes. I was DONE. Well done, me! I sent it off to a couple of competitions and put my feet up, resolving to send it to some agents in the new year. I felt very, very pleased with myself. The next time I thought I’d finished my novel was the summer of 2016. I’d been shortlisted for one of the prizes I entered and had some feedback from agents and publishers. I’d done a rewrite, swallowed my pride, deleted a load of my beautiful, precious words to make way for new ones, and done another proof. I mean … NOW I was done, right? The next time was the spring of 2017. I had found a brilliant agent who loved my book and had some ideas of how to make it even better. We had worked on it together, tweaking, making changes, polishing and rearranging. Now, it was the eve of the London Book Fair and we were officially ready to send it out on submission. The book was surely finished. In September that year I started working with my publisher and editor. Of course, the fact that “editor” is a job title should have tipped me off that she may want me to spend further time on the work. I was really happy about the changes that we were making together! It was exciting to be nearly finished. In October that year I discovered that line edits were different to structural edits. In November I discovered that copy edits are different again. In January this year, I was sent a fully typeset manuscript to proofread. My book, typeset! Now for real it was done, hurray! All I would have to do, I was sure, was have a quick skim through to make sure it was all in order – something I had done many times before – tell them it was all okay, and we were off. I set aside a whole day to do this, which seemed excessive. I figured I would probably be able to knock off and go to the pub mid-afternoon. In late March, after a fair few back and forths and me spending an entire panicked weekend staring at a text, believing myself to have forgotten how to read. (Professional proofreaders spend FIFTY HOURS with a novel, guys! It turns out you can’t knock it out in a long afternoon.) I got an email from my production manager. She said that this was the very last round of edits, and that after this one, we wouldn’t make any more changes – it would be sent to the printers. It would finally and truly be done. As I emailed back the approval, I didn’t feel as triumphant as I thought I would. I felt a little bit sad, almost scared. I’d spent so long with that book, with my protagonist and in my world. I didn’t really want to let her go. I love that book. What if I couldn’t write anything as good ever again? I almost didn’t want to sign the proofs off. But I did it. I hit send, and I turned back to my work in progress. And over the next couple of weeks, I found I had a lot of energy on this new project. It seems so unlikely that a scrappy little manuscript will ever come to anything, but I think this one can. I know I could do it again, you see, because I’ve done it before. I’ve finally finished a novel. Some Tips On Letting Go: Admit to yourself that there is no such thing as perfect. It can be easy to hide behind perfectionism as an excuse for never putting your work out there. Obviously, if you’re sending work to agents, it should be as good as you can possibly get it, but it will never be 100% there. When you get to 99%, it’s time to move on.Value your time. Writing a novel takes ages – of course it does! But it does not take an infinite amount of time. Weeks spent “polishing” without adding value to your nearly-finished project are time that could be spent on your next book.Have a process. With such a huge, overwhelming task as writing a novel, I find it really helpful to have clearly defined stages, with multiple drafts. I do three drafts and then start showing people my work, with a different round of edits after every batch of feedback. It’s a lot to work through, but at least if you have a plan, you know when you’re at the end of it. Lucy’s debut novel One More Chance is out 28th June (ebook and audio) and 15th November 2018 (paperback) with Dialogue Books. The novel follows the story of Dani, a London prison inmate, and combines physiological suspense with contemporary women’s fiction. Have a look at Lucy’s blog ‘Books and Bakes and Beverages’ here. If you have enjoyed this blog post, why not have a look round the rest of our library. We have plenty more success stories from published authors as well as tips for whatever you may be writing. 
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Libel Law for Writers and Authors (What You Need to Know)

What writers and authors need to knowA Simple Guide What Are Defamation And Libel? Defamation is any published material that damages the reputation of an individual or an organisation. As well as books, this covers material on the internet as well as radio and television broadcasts – so even drama and fiction can be defamatory if they damage someone’s reputation. You can only publish defamatory material if it comes within one of the recognised legal defences. If it doesn’t, the publication will amount to libel and you may have to pay substantial damages. Slander is ‘defamation by word of mouth’. The Purpose Of Libel Law Libel law protects individuals or organisations from unwarranted, mistaken or untruthful attacks on their reputation. A person is libelled if a publication: Exposes them to hatred, ridicule or contemptCauses them to be shunned or avoidedGenerally lowers them in the eyes of societyDiscredits them in their trade, business or profession Get Your Facts Right The most important point is to make absolutely sure that what you are printing or writing is true. Do not make claims or accusations that you cannot prove. Even if you think you can do this, be cautious. Proving things in court can be very difficult. And the test of what the words mean is what a reasonable reader is likely to take as their natural and ordinary meaning, in their full context – what you intended as the author or publisher is irrelevant. If you write something that cannot be substantiated, the credibility of your site, organisation or cause may be questioned. It can also land you with an expensive lawsuit and there is no legal aid for libel cases. The Burden Of Proof Lies With The Defendant Almost uniquely in English law, in libel cases the burden of proof lies with the author or publisher and not the complainant. In other words, you must prove that what you write is true. The person you’ve targeted does not have to prove that you’re wrong. Three Tips For Writing Safely Don’t rely on the literal meaning. You cannot solely rely on proving that your statements were literally true if, when they’re taken as a whole, they have an extended, more damaging meaning. Also, for example, if somebody was guilty of fraud once, calling him a fraudster in a way which might suggest he’s still doing the same may well give rise to a libel which can’t be defended. Be especially wary when referring to events in the past. Don’t exaggerate in your claims or language. For example, a company may run a factory which produces certain chemicals. For you to suggest that babies will be born deformed as a result may get you into libel trouble. Innuendo can catch you out. Your comments may not appear particularly defamatory taken at face value, but greater knowledge of a person or situation may make it problematic because of the innuendo. To say Mr Jones doesn’t recycle his waste paper may sound harmless enough. But to people who know that Mr Jones is a Green Party activist, the innuendo of the statement is that he is hypocritical in his politics. Common Mistakes And Assumptions Repeating rumours. It is inadvisable to repeat a defamatory rumour unless you are in a position to prove it’s true. Even if you are contradicting the rumour you should not repeat it. And adding ‘allegedly’ is not enough to get you out of libel difficulties. Quoting others. If you publish defamatory remarks about people or organisations made by other people you will be just as liable to be sued as they are. So if you can’t prove the truth of their statements, don’t repeat them. Drawing unprovable conclusions. It is a common mistake to draw unverifiable conclusions from the basic facts. For example, if Mr Brown is seen going into a hotel room with a call-girl, this does not necessarily mean he enjoyed a ‘night of passion’, and will certainly not prove that he did. Irresponsible adjectives. Be very careful about the adjectives you use. A misplaced word can result in costly action. If you are campaigning about a factory that releases chemicals into the atmosphere, referring to the factory as ‘poisoning the atmosphere’ is inadvisable. Defences Against Libel The law lays down a few ways in which defamatory publications may be defended. If the defences succeed, the publisher wins. But if they don’t succeed, the publisher loses: the complainant will have been libelled and will therefore be entitled to be paid damages and their legal costs. The defences are listed below. First, justification. The most usual defence against libel is to prove that the information published is true. But this can be a dangerous route because an unsuccessful plea could increase the damages against you because you will have increased the harm to the complainant. And remember, you must be able to deal with every libellous possibility, such as inference and innuendo. If your statement implies something greater, it is not enough to prove that the statement is just literally true. Merely asserting something will not be sufficient to prove that it’s true – you will need witnesses and documents to back up assertions (whether they’re yours or someone you’re quoting). Second, fair comment. This covers content, mainly opinion, that cannot by its very nature be true or false. To be properly defensible, these comments must be: based on fact, made in good faith, and published without malice. On a matter of public interest, in 2001, Daily Mail lost a libel action brought by the former Tottenham Hotspur chairman Alan Sugar over the remark that he was a “miser” when he ran the club because he didn’t give his manager enough money to buy top class players. The jury were not sufficiently persuaded that there was any factual basis for making this comment. They didn’t deem it fair comment. He was awarded £100,000. Last, privilege. Privilege is the defence where the law recognises that individuals should be free to speak their minds (and others to report what they say) without fear of being sued even if they get their facts wrong. It allows people to speak freely in court proceedings and debates in Parliament, and allows for such proceedings to be reported, so long as the reports are both fair and accurate. The Right To Privacy Writers tend to think a lot about libel issues, but they would be well to consider privacy as well. Human rights law give each of us a right of privacy, so even if you are not saying anything defamatory about me (so libel doesn’t come into it), you might nevertheless reveal enough about my personal life that I’d feel my privacy had been invaded. Under such circumstances, I would in theory have an actionable claim against you. And, as it happens, we at Jericho Writers have never seen a book that was basically publishable, but which fell down on libel issues. We have seen examples of a book that was publishable, except for privacy issues. The case I particularly remember was a really excellent and shocking memoir by a British-Asian woman who had been forced into an arranged marriage and had been very badly treated by both husband and mother-in-law. The husband had in fact been charged with assault by a court, and convicted, so libel issues weren’t in play. The substance of the book’s allegations had been tested in court and upheld. The text was certainly defamatory, but it was most demonstrably true. So the thing that broke the book – we got an agent for the author, but not a publisher – was the mother-in-law’s right to privacy. This awful woman, who had been highly complicit in her son’s abusive behaviour, nevertheless had a right to privacy that the courts might have been willing to uphold. So all the publishers contacted by the agent refused the book. In my view, that was cowardly, but it’s an issue to think about before you embark on your project. Libel & privacy Law In The Real World Writers anxious about libel / privacy law can in most cases relax: It’s exceptionally rare for a novelist to be sued for libel. As long as you are not obviously writing a roman a clef, your single strongest defence to any claim will just be to point to the way the book is categorised: “This is fiction, dummy.”Let’s say you are writing and self-publishing a memoir, that isn’t vastly defamatory of anyone and isn’t very privacy invasive either. You do those real life people the courtesy of changing names and other details, so it’s not obvious who you are talking about. Let’s say you commission a print-run of 500 copies and sell a few e-books as well. Is it theoretically possible that you face a lawsuit for the issues talked about in this post? Yes. Is it practically likely? No. It will be, for most authors, a vanishingly small possibilityAnd if you are writing anything else non-fictiony, very much the same applies, at least 99 point something per cent of the time. Yes, the conventional advice is “take legal advice”, but that advice will cost a minimum of $5,000 / £3,000 if you’re going to a properly experienced lawyer. So for most writers, the actual practical advice will be: Proceed thoughtfully and with cautionChange names and other details. Make your characters actually different from the real world subjects.Think about privacy as well as libelBe realistic. If you are making serious comments about public people and your work is likely to have significant readership / impact, then you can’t wing it. In all other cases, then just take good care and you should be fine. For what it’s worth, Iv’e written fiction and non-fiction and only once have my paths crossed with a libel lawyer (paid for by the publisher, not me.) I was working with a prominent hedge fund manager and his text made some quite serious allegations about (for example) the non-tax-paying habits of GE, the huge American manufacturer. (The text made quite a few allegations about quite a few companies and people; that libel lawyer had plenty to get his teeth into.) The lawyer queried one particular point in relation to GE and said it was essential that we contact GE for comment. So we did. We sent the relevant bit of text to the head of Media Relations and asked for comment. He replied – quickly and with some heat – that the allegation was completely untrue and he rejected it completely. We responded by asking why, in that case, his company’s own annual report, in some deeply buried footnote, confirmed precisely the point we were making. He withdrew his rejection (rather gracelessly) and it was pretty clear that the big bad wolf of GE wasn’t going to sue us, or would lose if it did. The real point of all this is that you need to use your own real-world wisdom to make this calls, not just a reading of the law. If your book is going to sell enough copies to raise a real threat of libel / privacy claims, then you’ll almost certainly be working with a publisher resourced to deal with the issue. If your book is more of a private printing with a limited circulation, it’s conceivable but certainly not probable that any suit will come your way. Do the basics, and you should be fine. Disclaimer We’re not lawyers. We haven’t read your book. We don’t know your situation. And pretty obviously, if you face some real legal issues, you need to get help from specialists who do know your situation. A blog post is not the same as a legal advisor.
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Vanity Publishing & Austin Macauley

A short journey to the sewer We’re always on the side of the book. We’re always on the side of the writer. With books, we want them to be as good as they can be – written well, edited well, pressing clients to be as wonderful as they can – and if you have the guts and determination to pick up a pen and write a book, we’re on your side. And that’s why we are firmly, emphatically, viscerally opposed to vanity publishing in all its forms. This is a story, yes, about Austin Macauley, but it is also a story about a whole raft of other vanity presses too. Snakes, worms and weasels, every one. Why such strong language? Because vanity publishers take vast sums of money from authors to publish their books. This is in contrast to how to best practice in both traditional publishing (where publishers pay you), and modern ebook-led self-publishing where it costs nothing to upload your book to retailers like Amazon, and where per book royalties are excellent. So if you want to know more about what to avoid – and about Austin Macauley Publishers specifically – then read on. A more complete guide to (proper, legitimate, profitable) publishing can be found here. What Is Vanity Publishing? Vanity publishing is where authors pay for their book to be ‘published’ and where ownership of the book passes to the publisher as part of the contract. Vanity publishers never call themselves by that name. They’ll say they offer ‘partnership publishing’ or ‘hybrid publishing’ or say they offer a ‘contributory contract’ or anything else of that sort. But if any publisher: Asks you for moneyEnds up owning the rights to your book you should regard them as a vanity publisher. That’s if you’re polite, and inclined to be generous. Quite frankly, we prefer to think of them as thieves and fraudsters. To be clear: they are not breaking the law. But whether some narrow legal test of fraud is or is not met misses the ethical heart of the issue.The fact is that these publishers are offering writers a contract which they basically know will not meet the legitimate dreams and aspirations of those writers. What Vanity Publishing Looks Like We’ve spoken to one writer who was offered a ‘contributory contract’ from one vanity publisher (not Austin Macauley), requesting from her a staggering £7,000 to publish her poems. This lady was dying of cancer, and she wanted to earn a little something for the son she’d leave behind. Thankfully, she called us first, and asked for our advice. What we told her was this: There is not meaningfully any market for poetry, and certainly not of the (sincere, but quite home-spun) verses she’d written.She would never see that £7,000 againSales would be modest in the extreme. Aside from any sales she made to friends and family, her sales would quite likely be zero, nothing, nix, nada.She almost certainly would get a nicely produced book to hold in her handsShe would not find that book being sold in bookshopsYes, the book would be available on Amazon, but so are 5,000,000 other titles. Uploading a book to Amazon is easy. Selling it once it’s there – that’s hard.She would not, meaningfully, get any marketing support from the publisher once the book had actually been produced.In effect, she’d be paying £7,000 to have her book printed & the rights owned by somebody else. You could easily spend no more than £1,000 for a book of that length, print as many copies as you wanted, work with lovely, truthful, well-intentioned people, and still retain all the rights to the book. Naturally, she did not use that publisher to ‘publish’ her work. Instead, she went to a reputable local printer and, for a modest sum, got the thing printed up for local distribution. She told me that she wanted everyone who came to her funeral to get a copy. And look, there’s something good here and something awful. The good thing is that a dying woman made a book that she wanted to create. That spoke her thoughts to those she cared about. There is nothing at all of vanity in that impulse. In that sense, the term ‘vanity publishing’ is a total misnomer. I’ve seen a lot of people snared by vanity publishers, and in not one single case was vanity the issue. On the contrary, it’s naivete, hope, and nothing else. So that’s the good thing. A dying woman wrote and distributed some verses. And here’s the bad thing: someone wanted to steal £7,000 from her. Sick, dying, and not at all wealthy. Did I say bad? I meant awful. The thing about vanity publishers is they don’t really publish at all. They get books designed & printed. You can do that too, just google “typesetting”, “cover design” and “book printers” and you’ll have everything you need. Or use an ethical outfit like Matador, or Lulu, or CreateSpace, or IngramSpark, or Completely Novel, and you’ll get a fair service at a fair price. (What each of those outfits offers is different, so you can’t just compare prices – it’s more complex than that.) So if you just want to pay something to produce 10 books (or 100, or 1,000), you need to work with a company like one of those guys. Or source your own design / copyediting / cover design, etc. It’s not hard, and it can be very rewarding. What Are The Alternatives To Vanity Publishing? A word about traditional publishing and modern self-publishing [This section talks about the alternatives very swiftly. If you need more help, go to our main publishing advice page that gives you a load more detail in a very helpful format.] Traditional Publishing Or you can publish in the traditional way with a regular publisher. The advantages of that route: you get paid, upfront plus (potentially) royalties as wellyou get a real publisher working hard to market your bookyou will be sold in bookstores and have the pride of having done a hard thing well. There’s also one obvious disadvantage: It’s very hard to get accepted by a traditional publisher – the rate of success is probably 1 in 1000 submissions (or even worse) If your work IS of that quality, you probably need a literary agent. Details on how to do that can be found here. We answer further common questions about literary agents here. We also offer free lists of agents in the US and the UK. Self-publishing If you don’t want to go that route – too hard? too slow? you don’t want to lose control of your book? – then modern self-publishing is also an excellent answer. Modern self-publishing involves selling your book via Amazon and/or the other e-tailers such as Apple. You will make a majority of your sales – perhaps over 90% of them – via ebooks, but it’s perfectly possible to create and sell print-books as well. They’ll be of good quality and will be available to readers all over the world. The advantages of self-publishing include: Royalties are superb: Amazon pays 70% royalties on ebook sales, whereas traditional publishers will pay just 17.5% (or less, if you inlcude the amount you’ll owe your agent.)It’s easyIt’s fastYou reach readers right across the globe The disadvantages include: you have to handle the various bits and pieces yourself: cover design, ebook formatting. Most people will just outsource those tasks, but you still need to find the right people for the job.Because of those tasks, you are likely to pay something to get our book published – but $1500 / £1000 would be a perfectly reasonable  budget for most.You have to market your book. Amazon is a platform; it’s not going to market on your behalf unless you have some prove sales potential already.There is still a difference in kudos between self-publishing and the traditional sort. That doesn’t really make sense to us. (Who do you admire more: someone who sold $100,000 worth of self-published books on Amazon? Or someone who got a £1000 book deal from some remote bit of Penguin Random House?) But still: it matters to some people. If you want to find out more about how to self-publish your work, you can find out with our (characteristically comprehensive) guide here. Info on book descriptions here. Info on categories and keywords here. Advice on getting your book covers here. It’s also true that writing really well is a skill that can be learned – and then learned some more. If you’ve struggled with literary agents in the past, it may well be that your actual book isn’t as strong as it could be. For that reason, we’ve got useful advice on how to write a book right here, and we’ve also put together some hints on getting started with writing your novel right here. Learning About Writing And Publishing Also – this does’t quite fit on this page in a way – but: it’s possible you don’t yet know enough about the whole writing/publishing industry to yet make a decision on how to proceed. And if you think, yes, maybe that applies to me, what then? Well, there’s a LOT you can do. If you feeling like flashing the cash (a very little bit), I’d urge you to become a member of Jericho Writers. You’ll get access to the world’s best resources on writing, publishing and self-publishing. Info here. You should also, certainly, join our Jericho Townhouse writing community, that just gives you an exceptional way to meet other writers, and exchange questions help and community. View our forums, our blogs, our groups. Austin Macauley – A Close-up Look At One Vanity Publisher Hold your nose, folks. We’re heading down . . . This post grew (as you may have guessed) out of an encounter with Austin Macauley, a vanity publisher. Or rather: multiple encounters, all of them negative. We heard about authors feeling cheated. We heard about authors being threatened with legal action if they spoke out about their experience. We heard about authors going to court against the firm. We heard about a prominent blogger – a person of integrity and intelligence – being threatened with legal action for speaking out about these things. So we thought we’d look into it . . . and we did not love what we saw. In this updated post, we take another look at Austin Macuauley – but please remember that ALL vanity publishers operate in much the same way. What we say about this firm could, mutatis mutandis, be said about all its snakelike brethren. Indeed, we DO say it about all those firms. Oh, and to be crystal clear: we do not believe that Austin Macauley is engaged in illegal activity. In our opinion, what they do is totally unethical and close to cheating, but some bad things are within the law; vanity publishing very much included. (Alas.) Okie-doke. So- If you Google “Austin Macauley”, as I just did, you may find this: Screengrab taken 23.4.2018 And – huh? A publisher who advertises? Go and Google Penguin Random House. Or HarperCollins. Or Simon & Schuster. Those guys don’t advertise. Why not? Because their business model works like this: Find great books. Publish them well. Make money. No part of that relies on advertising to authors and luring them in. (So how do they get those great books? They pay for them. And authors and literary agents bring them all their best stuff.) But the Austin Macauley model works like this: Find authors willing to part with cash. Part them from their cash. Deliver some kind of book. That’s it. The book doesn’t have to be good. It doesn’t have to actually sell. AM doesn’t even actually have to try to do all the things that real publishers do to make sales. Of course not! They’ve already made money. From you! Bu I get ahead of myself. Here’s what they say on their website home page (text copied 24 April 2018) We pride ourselves on our hybrid publishing model, a progressively more popular means by which both new and previously published authors can establish themselves in the increasingly competitive world of books. This is horseshit. Here’s that same bit of text with my explanations in brackets: We pride ourselves on our hybrid publishing model [we take money from authors which no reputable publisher does. Deep in our snakelike hearts, we know that this is a horrible way to make a living, but we may as well make a virtue of it and pretend it’s normal.]a progressively more popular means [Rubbish. Traditional publishing is great. Self-publishing is great and has zoomed up in the world. Vanity publishing is used only by those who don’t know any better. It’s “popular” largely with those people who don’t know better and who are taken in by flashily effective advertising.]by which both new and previously published authors can establish themselves in the increasingly competitive world of books [Double-rubbish. You want to know if Austin Macauley establishes writers in the the world of books? OK. So do this. Go to the biggest bookstore near you. See if you can find a book by an Austin Macauley author. Browse the shelves. Ask a checkout clerk. Seek specific titles by name. You will find almost none, and most likely none at all. And if I’m wrong, I’ll give you a dollar and a kiss for every one you find.] Indeed, let’s take the partnership / hyrbid / vanity agreements that Austin Macauley and its peers offers. We’d want to ask: What is the median cost to the author of these partnership agreements?Partnership implies some joint sharing of risks and rewards, so do these firms contribute a sum broadly equivalent to that contributed by your authors?What are the median sales of partnership titles? Note that ordinary averages (means) can be distorted by one or two high-selling titles, so a median figure would be helpful. This is a crucial question, and you should not part with a single penny before getting an answer.What, loosely, is the median financial outcome for partnership authors? Do they recover their contributions via royalties? Do they generally make a profit, and how much? And if they make a loss, what is the average magnitude of that loss? I hope it’s obvious why these questions are important. Austin Macauley Publishers operates within the law insofar as it prints books, makes those books available on Amazon, available for order by bookshops (not the same as saying that these books are likely to be stocked in bookshops). It makes modest efforts to secure publicity for its books and authors. All that does not amount to a good deal. It amounts to a right royal stinker of a deal. Avoid Austin Macauley. Avoid its peers. And may they, one day, all bite the dust!
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How to get a book published in 2020

The all you need to know guide Getting a book published, even your first book – that sounds like it should be pretty do-able, right? And so it is, but the publishing industry is (inevitably) pretty complex, and can generate massively different outcomes depending on the choices you are about to make. In the same way, you might want to be a professional musician … but does that mean you do a paid gig in a local bar? Or get signed by a massive record label? In this blog post, we will weigh up the options and show you how you could get your book published. It’s possible to get published for free, and it’s also perfectly achievable even if you are a first time author. It’s also true that the publishing industry has got way more complex since the rise of Amazon and all that went along with that. That complexity is confusing, for sure, but it’s also good. The fact is there are more routes to publication than ever before in history. You just need to pick the route that works for you. And that’s what this post is all about. We’ll tell you: What your options areWhich option is right for youWhat the pros and cons are, andHow to access the particular publishing route of your choice If you need extra info on any topic, we’ll direct you to a resource that gives you everything you need. Oh – and you probably want to know about me. Well, I’m Harry Bingham. I’ve been traditionally published all over the world, with in the company of the world’s top #3 trade publishers. Furthermore, I’m the founder of Jericho Writers, so I’ve helped literally hundreds of writers just like you through to publication, so I know exactly what’s involved for a writer like you. But I’m not just about traditional publishing. I’ve also self-published (and love it.) I’ve sold fiction and non-fiction. I’ve sold full-length manuscripts and skinny-as-you-like book proposals. I’ve also had experience of plenty of other publishing routes. And this post is going to tell you EVERYTHING. So: How to get your book published in 2020: Traditional publication, via a literary agentTrad publication, but without an agentTrad publication, via a book proposalTrad publication, via a micro-publisherSelf-publishing on AmazonPublishing via a digital-first publisherPublishing via APub, Amazon’s publishing armPublication via a vanity publisherPublication via a print/design companySelf-publishing leading to a trad dealCrowd-fundingPublishing via a social platform That’s a lot to get through, so buckle up and read on … The Secret To Getting An Agent Option 1: How To Publish A Book Via A Literary Agent And A Large Traditional Publisher What’s Involved? The “Big 5” traditional publishers (outfits like Penguin RandomHouse or HarperCollins) dominate the world of trade publishing. They have huge financial resources. They have huge marketing and sales reach. They already publish a stellar list of names. And they reach right across the English-speaking world – so in that sense getting published in the US is much the same kind of process as getting published in the UK or Australia … and quite likely with the same group of firms involved as well. Obviously, those big publishers need to acquire material to publish, so they go out and buy it. They buy manuscripts (ie: novels or non-fiction which haven’t yet been turned into actual books). They buy those manuscripts off authors in return for an upfront cash advance. That advance is highly variable – think anywhere from $5,000 to $100,000+ for a book – and will be supplemented by royalties if sales are sufficient to ‘earn out’ the advance. And the publisher isn’t just there to write the checks. They are also there to sell your book, which they do by: Working on the manuscript editorially. That’ll normally involve a structural edit, a copy edit, and a proof read – layers of editing that in turn fix story, then typos/clarity, then a final check before printing. (More on types of editing.)Designing cover art and preparing the book for production. Books are normally produced in four formats (hard cover, paperback, e-book, audio)Selling the book to bricks & mortar retailers. Retailers – such as Barnes & Noble in the US or Waterstones in the UK don’t automatically stock all books that are printed. Far from it. So arguably the key part of a publisher’s job is to convince specialist retailers (basically bookstores) and generalist ones (notably supermarkets) to order and stock the book. Ideally, your book will be entered into promotions, that place your book in the most visible store locations and with an attractive price reduction.Selling the book via online retailers. Although Amazon pretty much does stock every book out there, publishers still have to persuade Amazon (and Apple, and Kobo, and so on) to promote your book as much as possible. That means your book will start popping up in “deal of the day” or “recommended for you” type promotions.Marketing the book. That will probably involve a mixture of traditional publicity (such as newspaper interviews and book signings) and digitally driven campaigns, probably involving social media, email marketing and perhaps some use of pay-per-click advertising. To most writers, all that sounds pretty good, but – no surprise – there’s a catch. The catch, quite simply, is that your book has to be pretty damn good, because there’s a hell of a lot of competition out there and publishers are only interested in buying the very best crime books / romances / diet books and whatever else. So how to publishers find those amazing books in the first place? Well, the shortest answer is that they focus nearly all the efforts on the manuscripts that come to them via a literary agent. Literary agents are basically salespeople who sell manuscripts from writers like you to the big publishers. They don’t charge any kind of upfront fee for that service; they take a commission on sales made, typically 15%. Just to emphasise that point: agents cost nothing until they make you money. So (setting aside all your trouble and effort in writing the damn thing), with the agent/publisher route to publication you will get your book published for free. Not even free actually: you’ll be paid. You won’t be expected to buy your agent coffees or fund the cover illustration or anything like that. When I wrote my first novel, I didn’t spend a single penny (other than for paper and ink and stamps – we used all those things in those days.) Next thing I knew: people were offering me six-figure sums for my work. OK. So agents are good; they make sales; they work on commission. But it gets better. In addition to that basic sales activity, literary agents also: Offer you editorial advice to help you get your manuscript in shape for saleRun the auction processNegotiate the resulting contractSupervise the publishing  process, advise you on it, and act as your bull terrier if any conflicts ariseSell other rights, such as foreign language rights, audio (if not part of the original deal), and film and TV rights. In short, a good literary agent will end up making you far, far more than the cost of that 15% commission, so you should have no hesitation in working with an agent, if you get the chance. Because the Big 5 publishers publish all types of work – adult novels, children’s novels and plenty of non-fiction too – literary agents work with all these things too. Most agents aren’t that specialist either. Yes, a children’s literary agent may exclusively work with children’s books, but most literary agents for adult work will work with novels and non-fiction. In that sense, how your publish a novel (for example) works exactly the same as publishing any other type of book. How Do You Get An Agent? If you’re getting a book published for the first time, you need an agent. And the only really difficult step in getting an agent is the very first one: you have to write an absolutely superb book. Remember that, as a rough guide, a literary agent is likely to take about 1 manuscript in every 1000 that they come across. If you’re writing a spy story, your work will be competing head-to-head against John Le Carre, Tom Clancy and every other great spy novelist out there. So your manuscript has to excel. It has to dazzle. It has to be wonderful. But let’s assume you’ve already got a great manuscript, what then? The steps you need to follow are these: Generate a longlist of literary agents. You’re looking for agents who are taking on new clients and who are interested in work in your genre. You can find a full list of literary agents here for the US and here for the UK. If you sign up for AgentMatch (free trial here), you can use simple tools to filter by genre, client, and more.Whittle that down to a shortlist of 10-15 names. To generate your shortlist, just go through your longlist and look for possible points of contact. An agent represents one of your favourite authors? They’re a keen rider and your book is set in a racing stable? The agent has Irish ancestry and your book is about Irish emigrants in the 1920s? Any of those gives you a good reason to pop the agent onto your shortlist. (Oh, and why only 10-15 names? If you send your material out to about a dozen agents and don’t get a positive response, that’s a pretty damn good signal that your manuscript is not yet strong enough to get a book deal – in which case, getting third party editorial feedback probably needs to be your next step.)Write a query letter. That tells that agent why you’re writing (you’re seeking representation), what your book is and who you are. It’s easy to write a great query letter. Just follow the advice and look at a sample query letter here.Write a synopsis. A synopsis basically summarises your story, and it’s a quick way for an agent to get a handle over whether the basic structure of your story feels OK. A synopsis can be a nightmare to put together, but it doesn’t have to be that way. All the advice you need, plus a good example of a synopsis, can be found right here.Double-check your opening chapters. Most agents want you to send them some sample chapters along with the query letter and synopsis. Typically, those sample chapters will need to be the first 3 chapters of your book, or about 10,000 words. So make sure that opening chunk is looking great. Tips on presenting your manuscript right here. Tips on the commonest errors in first time novels can be found here.Send your submission pack out to your shortlisted agents. You need to allow about 8 weeks for agents to read and decide on your submission. And, sorry to say, but loads of agents don’t even have the courtesy to send out a “sorry, but no” email if they are rejecting a manuscript, which means that you have to work on the assumption that, after 8 weeks, no news is tantamount to rejection. At this point, you have other won – you’ve been offered representation, in which case, congratulations. Your path to publication is now in the hands of a very experienced professional, and you should be fine from here. If there are problems en route to getting published (and, believe me, there will be), your agent should be able to guide you. (For what it’s worth, I’d guess that agency representation leads to a publishing deal in about two thirds of cases. Your mileage may very though – this number varies widely.) Or you’ve lost – that is, you have no offers of representation, and not even any close misses. In that case, you really need to go back to your manuscript, figure out why agents aren’t getting excited by it, and then fix whatever needs fixing. The best way to do that is by getting pro editorial help, of the sort that we at Jericho Writers can offer. But there’s a middle ground too, where you haven’t quite won but you haven’t quite lost either. That’s the ‘nice rejection’, often where an agent asks for your full manuscript but ends up, reluctantly declining. If you’re in that category, then it’s GOOD NEWS. The fact is, you’re in a zone where some editorial work really should ping you over the line. Again, we can help. Extra Resources We have a whole bunch of resources available if you want to pursue these topics further. (Clue: yes, you definitely do.) Free resources: How to get a literary agent Do literary agents charge fees? How to write a query letter How to write a synopsis All your literary agent questions answered Additional resourcesThese resources are for Jericho members only. Not a member? Then join us. Behind the scenes at a Big 5 publisher (feature length film) Interviews with literary agents Diana Beaumont, Kate Burke, Piers Blofeld Finally, we have a complete course on how to get your book published – and not just published, period, but published well, published successfully. That course (here) is costly to buy but it’s free to members. Do consider joining us if you need that further help. What Kind Of Writer/book Is Right For This Publication Option? The first question is whether or not you want to pursue traditional publication. Trad publication will suit you, if: You are writing literary fiction or one-off non-fiction (eg: memoir)You are writing genre fiction but aren’t super-prolific (eg: you don’t want to write more than a book or two a year)You want the kudos of traditional publicationYou want to be sold via physical bookstores, as well as via AmazonYou want a shot at newspaper book reviews, book signings, radio and newspaper interviews etcYou don’t want the hassle of self-publishing If that sounds like you, then traditional publishing should certainly be your goal. The next question is whether you need an agent. You basically have to have an agent, if: You are writing fiction, for adults, young adults, or childrenYou are writing mainstream non-fiction (of the sort that might sit on those front-of-store tables in a large bookstore)You are writing specialist non-fiction in a big, rich category (such as diet or cookery, for example) If your book is very niche, your likely advice is small, which means an agent’s 15% won’t be especially tempting. In all those cases, you can forget about getting a literary agent and just proceed to option 2, which is traditional publication, but without a literary agent. Pros And Cons The advantages of trad publication are: You get an advanceYou get some experienced professionals handling the production, sale and marketing of your workYou have a literary agent to guide your journeyYou have all the kudos and other pleasures of traditional publication: you will have become a published author and will have earned all the respect of your new role. I bow to thee. The disadvantages are: You lose control over your intellectual property – you’ve sold it, remember? The book now belongs to the publisher, not to you.It’s harder to make a living as a trad author than it is as an indie one. Watch our YouTube video on author incomes here.Traditional publishing is a bit of a crap-shoot. Most bestsellers are made via huge supermarket sales, but there are many fewer supermarket slots than there are books, and the process by which supermarkets choose which books to stock is scarily random (for newbie authors, at least.)Traditional publishing isn’t so great at publishing on Amazon. You can see my thoughts on that (via Publishers Weekly) here. Option 2: Get Published Via A Traditional Publisher, But Without A Literary Agent What’s Involved? The actual publication process is exactly the same as for Option 1 – so everything I’ve said above applies here too. The big difference with this route is that you’re not going to send your work out to literary agents; you’re going to send it direct to publishers. Obviously, the publishers you choose will need to be carefully chosen. So if you are looking to sell a volume of military history or something on Early Colonial interiors, you’ll need to approach the publishers who work in that field. Otherwise, the basic approach is the same. You locate your targets. You send a query letter. You include enough sample material that the publisher can make up their mind. And that’s that – you see what responses come back to you. (The big difference: agents are slow, with response times often around 6-8 weeks. But publishers are way slower: you need to allow 4-6 months to get a proper response. That’s crazy, I know, but …) How Do You Find A Publisher? Not easy. Services like Jericho AgentMatch don’t really exist in the same way for publishers. Yes, you can trawl through the membership pages of the American Association of Publishers or (in the UK) the Publishers Association … but those guys have a lot of members, the vast majority of whom will be irrelevant to your needs. So really the best way to find a publisher for your book is to find other titles in your niche. That should be easy for you, because it’s your niche. So if your book is about motor maintenance, look at the other engine-related books on your shelves. If you’re writing about bonsai growing, look at who publishes books about bonsais. How to find who publishes a book is simple – just look inside the front cover. That page with all the tiny, boring print about copyright and that kind of thing will also tell you who the publisher is. Note that publishers (eg: “PenguinRandomHouse”) generally operate through a multitude of imprints, eg, Bantam, Ballantine, Doubleday…). You need to identify both the publisher you want and, where relevant, the imprint in order to wriggle through to the right desk in the right office. Make a list of those publishers – then approach them direct. They’ll welcome your submission and they won’t expect you to have a literary agent. (In fact, they’d be mildly frightened if you did have one.) What Kind Of Writer/book Is Right For This Publication Option? Assuming you definitely want traditional publication (and again, see Option 1 for more on this), you should only really avoid using a literary agent, if: Your work is in a small subject-led, but consumer-oriented niche (eg: “How to Maintain Your Motorbike” or “The Complete A-Z of Roses”)Your work is academic and destined for an academic publisherYour work is business or professional, and destined for the kind of publishers that handle that kind of thing Agents don’t want those kind of books and they don’t add much value to the publication process either. For those reasons, direct submissions to publishers make the most sense. Pros And Cons The advantages of this route are that: You get the pluses of trad publicationYou get to publish work that’s too niche or specialist to warrant an agent’s involvement The downsides are simply that: Bookstores don’t shift very many copies of niche books – they’re mostly sold via Amazon. But in that case, self-publishing looks like a particularly attractive option, because you can retain all the proceeds from sale for yourself. If you have a mailing list or other platform – for example, you have a popular blog on rose growing, and your book is all about growing roses – then self-publishing should be very simple and immediately lucrative. Option 3: How To Get Published Via A Book Proposal What’s Involved? When we talked above about trad publication and literary agents, it was kind of assumed that you’d already written your book. If you are looking to sell a novel, then you basically have to have written the book and edited it until it sparkles. But that sounds like a hell of a lot of work for a project that might never sell, right? Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just outline a project, see if anyone wants it, then complete it only if a sufficiently attractive deal is laid under your nose? Well, luckily for you, that option certainly exists. It exists only for non-fiction, and not even for all types of non-fiction, but yes: you can offer literary agents a book proposal in place of an entire book. That book proposal might in total amount to only 10,000 words, and should include: A query letterA personal bio, including any platform or authority you bringAn analysis of the market and audienceAn introduction to the bookApproximately three sample chapters. Unlike with fiction, it isn’t always necessary that these chapters form the first three chapters of your work, You can read much more about what’s needed right here. What Kind Of Writer/book Is Right For This Publication Option? The book proposal approach will work, if: You are writing non-fictionThat non-fiction is not narrative-led (in which case, an agent or publisher might need to read the whole book before making a decision)It’ll work especially well if you bring significant authority (“I’m a top physics professor”) or terrific platform (“I’m a teenager with 2,000,000 Youtube followers.”) Read more about author platforms here. If your work is mainstream and could provide a ton of sales, then you will want to navigate via a literary agent. If not, you can go direct to publishers. Pros And Cons Pros? Simple: You can secure a contract and get paid before you’ve done a ton of work. I once secured a $250,000 / 2-book deal on the back of a book proposal that ran to about 10,000 words. Nice, right? Downsides? I can’t think of any. You’ll have to invent your own.
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