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Feb 21

my revelation

Blog post 19 February 2013

Well here I am again from Afghanistan with big news! I’ve done a lot in the past couple of weeks. I’ve finished writing True Immortals part one and decided to move ahead with publishing. Unfortunately Little Acorns has decided they can’t publish my next book as T-Man is struggling to sell. I feel loyal to Little Acorns and am happy with their work. But I believe in this next novel so after a lot of thought I have had a revelation.

I have nothing against small publishing houses, they certainly have their place. Little Acorns for example gave me my break and got me a seat at the table. However, there are different strokes for different folks, and that is what this post is about.

If a person has a manuscript they think is publishable and they have no idea how to start or if it’s good enough to consider, a publisher makes a lot of sense. Most small houses only take on work that has the potential to sell otherwise they don’t make money so they will be honest and tell you the truth. Let’s face it the whole purpose of publishing at all is to try to make at least a little money. Oh I know there are a few authors out there who are in it for the principle of the thing, or they may have some special message to share. That’s fine for them and if that makes you happy then you can give your work away for free and be a #1 ranked author on the Kindle free list which is great! But if you want to see some kind of monetary return on the investment you made to write this thing in the first place, there are many things to consider.

I’ve noticed that most publishing houses say it’s up to the author to promote their work, and that a lot of what is required is at the author’s expense. Here’s the rub most people don’t know about making money. I’ve run several small businesses and have come to understand how to sell not just your product but yourself. The truth is hardly anyone in the world is buying just your words, they are buying an idea. Even if the idea is just sopposed to be fun or entertaining the only way to sell it is to explain who you are and why you wrote the idea down to begin with. This is a very difficult thing to do.

First, any customers will need to know a little about you, who you are what you believe in, and most of all where you came up with this crazy idea you call a novel. Second you need to explain what the book is and what it’s supposed to say. For example my novels are about things I find entertaining and fun. I’m not necessarily trying to preach a message I’m trying to entertain. The objective I have is to make a little money and to help inspire people to chase their dreams. I had no idea I could write a novel so when I did my goals changed and I now had a new target to chase. I dream big so my hope is to write full-time and live on a boat with my wife sailing around the world and writing more novels. Sounds pretty good huh! But I’m long way from reaching that goal.

Third, your book isn’t you. So it shouldn’t be the thing you name everything after. I now have written 3 novels and am working on number 4. When I first started out, my previous experience in sales told me I needed a website, and to network as much as I could to try to get established in the “writer scene”. So I started, but I had no money nor a reputation that would allow me to pay to have all this done. Yes, my book was written, but I had no idea how to get it ready to be published.

Enter my friend Allison Bruning. She also had a book on the market and introduced me to several FB indie author pages and I dug in. I met a bunch of friends and found I wasnt the only one with this problem. They gave me great advice and soon I was sending my completely unpolished manuscript out to publishers to see if they wanted to print it. Epic fail on my part. There was still so much I didn’t know. I lucked my way into a great BETA reader in the form of my friend Coleen Kiefer and she helped me clean things up. Now I felt I had something to show.

My free website I’d put up had no hits, my fan page had less than a hundred likes, and I was a writer wanna be trying to figure this whole thing out. Enter my next great ally in this process, Kristina Jackson. She was willing to read my MS and tell me if it was something she was interested in publishing. She was and offered me a contract with her new house. I was and am flattered and honored that she was willing to take a chance on me.

Now the ball was rolling. She as the publisher knew what to do to get the book published. It was edited, cover art was made, it was set up for e-pub and print. I had a contract with her that was a great deal for me and I was and am very happy.

The book’s been out for almost a year now, and I have to say I am still amazed that I can claim the title, published author, but sales are slim to none. My free website still had no hits, and my little blog was floundering. Now I am deployed with the Army and out of the country. When I have the time to promote the book it sells, when I don’t it doesn’t and that’s a little frustrating.

So what does an author do? What should a publisher do? How does that all work together? And what do you do if your goals aren’t being met? All hard questions, and the answer is different for everyone. No one brush paints all the same, and no one shoe fits all sizes. For me the answer is simple, what is everyone’s responsibility in the agreement for publishing a book.

A publisher, whether big or small has to get the book ready, and preps the author for what they need to do. The prep I was given was to promote. Spend so many hours a day on the internet surfing and sharing and blogging. Had no idea what that was all about, still don’t. Nor do I have the time to spend hours a day working those avenues. My website was weak and unprofessional, all my social media avenues weren’t connected and so I had to spend time with each one everyday. And still sales were down, neither me or the publisher were really making any money.

But here is my problem and my revelation. I believe that the only way to prove yourself in life is to be professional and work hard. I realized that everything that said Jon Pew Author, was cheap and not synergistic. No matter how much I wanted my publisher to fix this, it wasn’t her responsibility, it was mine. LAP doesn’t own Jon Pew Author, they have rights to Transition Man. So I set out to fix me. If my writing career is going to be successful it’s because I’ll invest the time and money  to make it so.

So the question still remains should I use a publisher or try to make a go of it alone. Well here’s my problem. Most small publishers are struggling into existence. They don’t have a large bank roll and so offer services they can accomplish themselves. But what they offer isn’t everything a new author needs to get stared. I would wager that most will offer editing, cover art, digitizing , paper publishing options, and setting it up for you on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and any other e-pub site they can think of. And for most new authors getting all this at no cost to them is amazing and you feel great. I know I did. It changed the way I thought and felt about publishing a book. “I’m a published author!” and I held my book in my hand and started to hope for sales.

So here’s my theory. The cost of selling books, is the same cost as selling landscaping, real estate, movies, food, or anything else. The budget for selling books needs to directly correlate to how much money is invested in establishing the brand of the author not the book. I’ve put my money where my mouth is and hired a professional Aurora Martinez with her Elizabeth Delena Rosa Author services to build my website, tie all my social media into it and coach me on what to say and do to establish my brand as an author and help me in turn to sell books. In the same move I now have an ally to help promote my blog posts, special events, reveals and other pertinent information that hopefully will keep my novels and print brand out in the public eye and again in-turn hopefully, help me sell books.

All of this is the cost of doing business and our business is selling, not just writing. Most small publishers just don’t have the capital to employ these professionals or to pay a pro to do it for you. If you want them as an indie author, you’ll pay for them yourself.

So if you have to do this for yourself what is the appeal of a small publishing house? There’s still an appeal for many, even me and there is nothing wrong with that. If you aren’t motivated to edit and do cover art and go through the painful steps of digitizing and finding a paper publisher for your work, then a publishing house is great, they’ll do all that for you and you’ll see your work in print and available. But if you want to make money and publish multiple books, there is usually still an investment of time and money that will come from you as the author.

For me the choice isn’t overly simple, but if I have to spend the money and the time to sell, then I will spend a little extra time and a little extra money to self publish and see if I can succeed with  my next book on my own. I found that editing has a cost, but having a good beta reader helped me find pro editing for a reasonable price.  Cover art is usually what sells a book and most authors know what they want their book to say. So I shopped and bought the image from whatever site and got help for the cover. The Indie author sites and FB pages are full of good people who will give their honest opinion and then changes are easier to make. Digitizing for print and e-pub is a matter of time and patience so once I’m set with editing and cover art, I’ll get started, try not to kick the computer and get it done.

In the end all of us indie authors can only hope that we sell enough to crack the nut of our income requirements, or sell enough copies of our books to get noticed by one of the bigger houses that do all the promoting things for you and pay you a huge retainer. Either way, how I see it, is you will end up doing a lot of the start up work and paying for the pro’s yourself. I still truly do love my publisher for Transition Man, I think she is amazing and her company is reputable and viable. I am also very flattered by the offers from the other houses that  were and are willing to invest in me and my work. But for now I’m gonna try this on my own and see where it gets me. Don’t know if this was a rambling piece or one that makes sense, but there it is.

As always I’m so proud of my kids and wife. Play to Win! And you stay classy planet earth.

 

About the author

Jon Pew

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