Should I Self Publish And Give Up My Day Job?

A recent report from Author Earnings confirms that self-published titles are gaining enormous traction in the book market, and in particular, e-book sales. From humble and amateur beginnings only a few short years ago, Indie publishing has reduced the Big Five publishers to only 16% of the Amazon e-book market. While the data is only drawn from Amazon sales, their market dominance is so large that one can easily believe that it represents a trend across the whole publishing industry. But does this mean you can write a book, get rich and say, ‘I’ll give up my day job?’

With this information, it might be easy to conclude that self-publishing, or Indie publishing as it is often called now, is turning into a gold mine for authors. So should you give up your day job, write a book, and instantly become a rich Indie author? Well, no, yes and no.

Self-publishing isn’t easy to define

Self-publishing is not a singular definition. There are many so facets to it and while there are certainly a number authors who work all day and write all night and make a decent side income from self-publishing, there are also those who have tried to make it a full-time career, but failed to make more than a few dollars a month in their first year, so gave up. There are the hobby authors who appreciate the opportunity to publish, but are not dreaming of making a lot of money from their passion but do make a little money each month. Then there are those who think that by tapping out a few words and loading it up onto Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) will make them a killing. Within this group are scammers, Internet marketers and dreamers, and without being unkind, writers who have trouble even spelling the word, writer. Yet they are a very real and important component of self-publishing, as it is the freedom to publish that is at the very heart of this new form of publishing.

At the top of the list, though, are the professional self-publishers, who are a different breed of author to those I listed before. They treat it as a business and invest heavily in book launches, promotion, advertising and media placement. They are often authors who have been published traditionally in the past but have grasped the opportunity to earn far more than was being offered by their agents and publishers, by using their established author brand to self-publish and self-promote their new titles.

Then there is the new grey area, which is Small Press. These can range from well-established specialist traditional publishers, down to one self-published author who uses his or her knowledge and experience of publishing a few books on KDP to help other authors to self-publish. This is becoming more and more common, as those who often have little or no computer knowledge seek free or inexpensive help in getting their book published.

While the report by Author Earnings paints a very rosy unit sales picture of self-publishing against traditional publishing, it doesn’t offer any real information regarding Vanity Publishing.

As the Big Five all have vanity publishing wings now, are these books classed as self-published? There is also no breakdown of the sales data to know which segment of self-publishing is making the most inroads. My instinctive gut guess would be that those who have considerable publishing industry knowledge and acumen would stand the best chance of success. Self-publishing may be new, but publishing is not. The basics remain the same.

So by all means, take the opportunity to use self-publishing to express yourself, get that manuscript that has been gathering dust for years out into the marketplace, and when you have finished, write another book. But give up your day job? No. Not if you only plan to open a Twitter account, a Facebook Page and then believe that your book will sell like hot cakes, without a pound of investment.

Self-publishing is now a very big business with huge potential market. Don’t get too carried away by the suffix in front of the word publishing. Self-publishing is still publishing and that has always been a tough business, even when you know what you’re doing. Just ask the Big Five.

Via: https://www.justpublishingadvice.com/should-i-self-publish-and-give-up-my-day-job

How to Avoid Being Sued For Plagiarism

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Imagine someone to suing you for half a million dollars because you failed to attribute their work correctly.

It would be a shock, right? But believe me, it’s definitely possible.

So one of the most important things you can do for your writing career is to learn the rules of attribution.

Why? Well, for one, failure to follow them could spell a heap of trouble… like getting a court order for half a million dollars.

Just take a look at the headlines from this summer. Melania Trump stirred up controversy with a speech that bears a striking resemblance to one made by Michelle Obama in 2008, and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto faces a 23 percent approval rating following accusations that he lifted almost a third of his law school thesis from other works.

Plus, it’s a matter of ethics.

It’s one thing for writers to draw inspiration from past works and the world around us; that practice is encouraged on this site as well as others. But it’s quite another to take someone’s research, data, ideas or images and try to pass them off as our own. It’s unscrupulous.

Of course, not all cases of plagiarism are deliberate. Some writers don’t know the rules of attribution or think they’ve adequately followed them, only to have another party beg to differ.

Take this case from The Washington Post, in which an expert in the history of technology accused a freelance writer of plagiarizing one of his early articles. The freelancer claimed she thought citing a book of essays — in which the tech expert’s article was included — was sufficient attribution, even though she never directly cited the tech expert. She stated that she “attributed to my best judgment.”

Mistakes happen, but even if your motives were pure, do you really want a plagiarism accusation hanging over you for the rest of your career?

Of course not.

What You Need to Know to Avoid Being Sued

Direct quotes. If you use a person’s specific words, you must put the words in quotes and give credit to the speaker. “I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!” Patrick Henry said.

Information and ideas. If you get information or ideas from somewhere else, credit the source, even if you use your own words to describe it. Thomas Jefferson was known to greet White House guests while wearing his robe and slippers, NPR reports.

Research and stats. You didn’t pull those numbers from behind your ear, did you? Give credit to the original source of any data you cite. Up to 100,000 people visit the White House every month, according to WhiteHouse.gov.

Opinion or uncertainty. If you’re stating someone’s else’s take on the matter, source it: The best foreign policy president of the 20th century was FDR, according to The Atlantic. Similarly, if you’re uncertain about the facts, source it: FDR may have been suffering not from polio but Guillain-Barré syndrome, according to a report from the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

The Tricky Business of Image Attribution

This one is a little more involved due to the laws of copyright infringement. There’s a difference between plagiarism and copyright infringement. Here’s a quick breakdown of what you can and cannot do with images:

  • If you took the photo or created the visual you’re using, you’re fine — you own the copyright.
  • You cannot grab someone else’s photo, use it in your work and think you’re covered because you provided attribution (“Photo by Joe Blow”). Do this, and you could find yourself on the receiving end of a DMCA takedown notice.

What can you do, then?

  • Access any of the dozens of stock photo sites (there are both free and paid ones) for copyright-free photos and illustrations. Here’s a list from Forbes of 33 of stock photo sites.
  • Find a Creative Commons image. These images are in the public domain, and you can use them as long as you properly credit the owner and follow any restrictions they may have placed on the image.

What About Other Kinds of Content?

Companies love it when you share these content assets; it’s one of the reasons they create them. They want them to be shared — not only does it help establish them as an authority in their industry and draw traffic to their site, it’s part of the culture of sharing that Leo Babauta discusses here.

What constitutes “proper credit?” Two things: Mentioning them in your copy and linking to the original image.

What About Credibility?

There’s another angle to this: Attribution boosts your credibility. When you cite ideas or facts and back them up with proper attribution, you substantiate the point you’re trying to make. You’re telling the reader, This isn’t just my take on the matter — XYZ feels the same way. Compare, for example:

One of the most important skills for a president to have is good public communication skills.

-versus-

One of the most important skills for a president to have is good public communication skills. In fact, in his book, The Presidential Difference: Leadership Style from FDR to George W. Bush, Fred Greenstein lists “effectiveness as a public communicator” as a major factor contributing to presidential performance.

See the difference? When you provide a source that backs up what you’re saying, you give credence to your point.

What Doesn’t Need Attribution?

  • Common knowledge. You don’t need to attribute anything considered to be common knowledge or undisputed fact in the public domain. The Harvard Guide to Using Sources has more information on the categories of common knowledge.
  • What you witness firsthand. If the snow is up to your waist on the National Mall on inauguration day, you can just say so. People will believe you.

Do Links Count as Attribution?

No, they don’t. That’s my opinion. Some would argue that in this digital age, a link is sufficient. I disagree. Note from the Editor-in-Chief, Mary Jaksch: For online writers, a link is a clear attribution (if it’s not a poll!)

Eight in 10 Americans believe that other people were involved in a conspiracy to assassinate President Kennedy.

– is not the same as –

Eight in 10 Americans believe that other people were involved in a conspiracy to assassinate President Kennedy, according to a Gallup poll.

First, links get stripped. If the link was removed at some point, then you simply have a statistic with no source. Attributing the source takes care of this problem.

Second, the person or organization who did the research or came up with the idea has earned the right to be named. It’s only right.

Finally…

People get rightly upset where you use someone else’s words, images, ideas or research in your work without properly crediting the source. Intentional or accidental, it smacks of deceit nonetheless.

Perhaps Steve Buttry, Director of Student Media at Louisiana State University, said it best: “Attribution is the difference between research and plagiarism.”

Knowing the guidelines of attribution will prevent you from making this type of ethical error and help you remain in good standing with editors and readers everywhere.

Via: http://writetodone.com/sued-for-plagiarism/

Things No One Tells You About Self-Publishing 

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1. Selling books is harder than writing them. There are 300k books published in the U.S. every year. And 30% of Americans read only 1 to 5 books in 2014. Writing a book is purely up to you. But getting other people to buy and read your book is another matter.

2. Everyone obsesses about titles and covers but it’s hard to prove their impact beyond above a basic level of quality. It’s easy to find popular books with lousy titles and covers, and unpopular books with great titles and covers. There are too many variables for magic answers. Publishers exert more control over titles and covers than you’d expect: often authors have little say.

3. Some books, like The Great Gatsby or Moby Dickdon’t become popular until decades after publication. It’s a strange world. Books have lives of their own, typically quiet ones. We judge success by sales, but many factors that have nothing to do with the book itself impact sales. Bestseller lists are not a meritocracy. Sometimes a book is on the bestseller list for a week and never heard of again. Other times a book has steady sales for years but never makes any lists or wins any awards.

4. Your reasons for writing must transcend fame and wealth as neither are likely from writing alone. Most books you read are written by writers who pay their rent through other means. If you want fame and wealth from writing be committed to the long term. This takes the pressure off each book, and you’ll be open to learning instead of foolishly trying to hit a grand slam on your first try.

5. Fame will likely ruin your writing or your life. Study the history of famous writers if you doubt me. Fast fame is a curse, or a trap, as everyone wants you to repeat exactly what you did before.

6. The publishing industry is slow to realize authors need them less than ever. Unlike 20 years ago, you can do much of what a publisher does yourself, perhaps not as well, but that depends on how entrepreneurial and self aware you are. Learn about self-publishing simply to be informed about your business end to end. Some publishers do great work, but many are stuck in an antiquated notion of their value.

7. Many authors are lazy. They’re arrogant too. They don’t want to do PR, they don’t want to do their homework and they are in denial of how many other authors there are. They, like some publishers, believe in romantic notions of how publishing works.

8. Some publishers/editors/agents are amazing. Some are bad and incompetent. YMMV. Don’t judge them all by the one you worked with. My agent, David Fugate, is awesome.

9. A great editor at a mediocre publisher can be a better situation than a mediocre editor at a great publisher. Editors represent you for dozens of decisions the publisher makes for your book that you can’t participate in.

10. Many editors don’t “edit”. They’re more like strategic project managers. There are three roles editors play, often played by different people. Acquisitions editors sign authors. Development editors help you draft your book. Production editors are the ones who spend the most time with your words, and even they depend on copyeditors and proofreaders. Many people will touch your book.

11. Don’t believe everything depends on finding agents or publishers. They both want you to already have a fan base, which is a paradox. There are many paradoxes to face in trying to break into any field that many people want to be in (e.g. being a movie star). To find an agent requires hard work and this is on purpose. There is a far greater supply of people writing books than demand from publishers.

12. Always remember you can upload a PDF of your book to Amazon and have it on sale on Kindle in minutes. Don’t get lost falsely depending on others. No one can stop you from writing a book and selling it except yourself. Promoting a book well is another matter (see #1), but publishers struggle with that too.

13. No one will come to your book reading/signing unless you are already famous. The packed author readings on the news are only packed because the author is already very well known. It’s another paradox related to #1. Read The First 1000 copies by Tim Grahl, or APE by Guy Kawaksai for a good start on how to market books. Book readings at bookstores are among the worst uses of time for a new author.

14. Publishers only invest in big PR for famous authors. For new authors there’s little reason to believe the investment will pay off. Would you spend 50% of your annual marketing budget on an unknown? Neither would a publisher. Publishers do love authors who invest their own time and money in marketing, and will help with and add to your investment.

15. Most people think they want to write, but really they just like to think about writing. If you have a 6th grade education you know how to write. The question is are you willing to put in the hours?

16. You can spot these people because they spend more time complaining about how hard it is to write than doing it. Or they endlessly stroke their idea as if it can someday magically transform itself into 300 pages. Don’t complain. No one is making you torture yourself but you.

17. Distractions say more about your lack of commitment than anything else. Learn to concentrate. Concentration is a skill anyone can develop and if you are serious about writing you should see this as central to your ambitions. If you were starving to death and writing a book would get you food, you’d write. We are all capable of writing if suitably motivated.

18. Which means that anyone with sufficient commitment can write a book. It might not be a good book, but most books by published authors aren’t that good either. What makes for a good book is highly subjective anyway.

19. A publisher is a venture capitalist. They are giving you money before your work is done. Before you complain about the size of the investment they are willing to make (or not make) in your book, are you are willing to make the same financial investment? Few authors are. It’s a business. They owe you nothing beyond what they agree to.

20. Your friends, family and colleagues are you best assets for finding an audience for your writing. Everyone has friends and family. Ask for their help. Make it easy for them to help you. Reward every new fan as if they were your only fan (because at first they will be).

21. Learn to take feedback well. By this I mean you want to be a better writer on the next book than this one, yes? That only happens if you listen for ways to improve. Arrogant writers, and they are legion, rarely improve.

22. Learn to take rejection well. It will be everywhere. If you think rejections from agents and publishers are tough, wait till you get rejected by reviewers and readers (e.g. The Great Gatsby has 235 1 star reviews). Look for a nugget of merit in every mean-spirited critique you hear as the mean people might have more honest insight into your work than the nicer people. Be grateful anyone read your book at all.

23. Stop looking for secrets and tricks. You’re a sucker if you think there’s a trick as every great writer in history never found one that let them skip the work. Tips only help if you are writing every day and can put tips to use.

24. You build a following, or in publishing jargon, a platform, by publishing regularly. There is no magic place where people will come to you just for showing up once. It doesn’t matter where you publish, but put something into the world regularly. Be willing to learn as you go and experiment. There are many ways to build an audience but they all require effort.

25. Publish once a week on a blog. You want to build an audience before your book is finished, not after. Write briefly about topics that relate to your book. Share excerpts and ideas you’re working on. Read other bloggers who write about subjects like yours and get to know them. Invite people you know to be interested to follow along. It will feel weird at first but work to get comfortable with being visible and making connections, as you’ll need those skills when your book is out in the world.

26. Don’t be precious. No one is going to steal your ideas. Ideas are easy, it’s the work of delivering on an idea in 300 pages that’s hard.

27. Get feedback on your ideas and drafts early. Find people who are honest with you – they are hard to find. Grand praise of your drafts does not make them better. Separate useful critiquing (“this section didn’t work”, “you should read Rushdie”) from the moral support your friends give over beers (“you can do it”, “keep going”). Get the tough feedback early enough that you can still do something about it.

28. Only your name is on the book. Your publisher will publish dozens of books every month. You will publish one book every few years, or maybe just once in your life. They will never care as much as you do about your book. You have the right to veto and argue, politely, with anyone who works on your book. Stand up for yourself, but earn that right by taking writing and publishing seriously. Do your homework. If you don’t take shortcuts, no one will try to take shortcuts on you.

Via http://scottberkun.com/things-about-publishing

5 Simple Ways to Make Your Manuscript Solicited

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You may be familiar with the phrase “we don’t take unsolicited manuscripts” on publishers’ websites. It can be a disappointing sight for an aspiring writer yearning to be published. Fortunately, publishers are always soliciting; you just need to know how to get your work into that category.

1. LITERARY AGENTS

While many publishers don’t accept unsolicited manuscripts, some literary agents do. Literary Agents are there to connect writers with publishers and to help handle the legal documents regarding copyright (including print, film and radio) and royalties.

2. COMPETITIONS

Entering writing competitions is a great way to get your name and work in front of publishers. Winners and those short-listed are often named in literary media—the same media that publishers read.

In addition to the publicity, some competitions also offer publication as a prize. The publication could be in media such as a magazine or newspaper, or it could be as a printed anthology or book. Manuscript competitions and awards have also helped many first-time writers publish.

3. PITCHING

Publishers and editors may not have time to read manuscripts, but they do have time to listen to pitches. A pitch is a short, sweet and powerful way of sharing your manuscript. If you can capture the essence and selling points of your story in a quick and compelling way, you could get someone willing to read your whole manuscript.

4. PORTFOLIO

A portfolio is a collection or sample of your work. If you are a long-prose writer it might be beneficial to work on your short-prose skills, as portfolios usually aren’t made of novels. Portfolios can be attached to your resume, but if you want a publisher to notice you, you want it out in the world.

5. NETWORKING

Lastly, but certainly not least, you need to know the right people. If you want a publisher to hear about your manuscript, you want to tap into that publishing network. Pitch your manuscript to the right people, and they might know a publisher who could be interested and pass it along.

For more tips and tricks on how to get your foot through that door, visit the rest of the article here: http://writersedit.com/5-simple-ways-take-manuscript-unsolicited-solicited/

Book Rights And Wrongs And Traps To Avoid

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Never give away your book rights for nothing

There are so many avenues available now for authors to publish a book.

At the top of the list, of course, are the five big publishers and their myriad of imprints, followed by medium and small press publishers.

Then there is a long list of hybrid publishers, micro-publishers, vanity publishers and lastly, untrustworthy charlatans.

For a new author, it can be daunting to know which is the best avenue to take, especially for those not confident in taking the self-publishing route.

Whenever an author considers using a publisher, the most critical element is making a decision will be in regard to the author’s book rights. Whether in part or in total, publishers will always want the rights to a book before they publish.

Generally, if a publisher is offering an advance, then it is logical to expect that an author would agree to sign over the rights to a book. But advances are a rarity in today’s publishing world.

For new authors, the far more common occurrence is that a publisher will demand the rights, but offer no money in return. In an increasing number, due to a lack of financial resources, small publishers ask for money from the author, to cover a part or even all of the publishing costs. This is definitely a danger signal.

Signing up with a publisher might sound exciting, but signing away the rights to your book without knowing how financially sound a publisher is, or checking on how successful they have been, can lead to serious problems.

Almost every day there is news of publishers going out of business, and this is when trouble can really strike. Getting your book rights back could take years, and that may even be optimistic.

So what can a new author do to avoid making a huge mistake? Find out here: https://www.justpublishingadvice.com/book-rights-and-wrongs-and-traps-to-avoid/

Embracing the Art of Editing

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Having at times been both an editor and writer I have learnt a very important lesson; editing is essential, regardless of the form of writing and it is something we need to learn to embrace. There are horror stories about bad editors who do more harm than good, so as an author it is always your job to maintain the integrity of a story or article. However, also remember good editors have just one goal in mind – to make your writing the very best it can be.

The key is not to take feedback too personally, something often easier said than done. Not all editors are gentle and sometimes they point out things you don’t want to hear, but all feedback will teach you something.

While it can be confronting to open yourself up for criticism, editors also help give you confidence in your creation by making sure the story essentials are all clear and in place. So if you’re lonely or struggling, find an editor and don’t give up.

Things to remember:

  • See feedback as an opportunity to improve
  • Don’t be precious or defensive – if you really don’t agree, don’t make the changes
  • Keep an open mind
  • Enjoy the process of sharing your work
  • Be brave

Finishing a writing project, big or small, is an achievement that should not be understated. Many writers work around day jobs, family and dozens of other life obstacles. So keep writing and embrace editing, you never know where you might end up.

Read the full article here: http://writersedit.com/embracing-art-editing/