|Welcome back to part 2 of my interview with Gaynor Stenson of Vamplit Publishing. Today she's providing advice for writers seeking publication and talking about changes in the publishing industry. |
Don't forget, we're also giving away two of Vamplit Publishing's eBooks (your choice) next Wednesday. Leave a comment to enter the drawing in today and/or yesterday's post. A comment on both days doubles your chances to win. Only one eBook per winner though. I will randomly draw two winners and announce them in my post next Wednesday.
Advice for Writers
Why should an author consider a small publisher rather than self-publish?
A couple of authors have asked me what I can do for them and my answer has always been that I believe in them as a writer and will be as committed to your novel as you are. Self-pub always seems like a lonely place to me, beside which it’s big bucks you’re giving to savvy business people. If you are going down the self-pub route, I would advise you to do some sums on how many novels you need to sell to recoup your outlay. Look carefully at the fee and be aware that if you give your credit card details and haven’t read the small print, you could find yourself paying for extras. Don’t expect anything but basic proofreading for the set fee, as most editors charge much more because their pace is usually between four and ten pages per hour. I find that I edit between three and fifteen pages an hour.
Part 1 with
Website & Submitions
www.ebookundead.com & Smashwords
vamplitpublishing.ning.com & vamplit.com
What services do you provide your authors as compared to a publishing giant or self-publishing agency?
For new authors, we offer a lot more than a big publisher would. Obviously I can’t offer what the publishing giants offer to their superstars, but I do offer one-on-one collaboration with an editor and we produce all the artwork for covers and any promotional material, we will even set you up a blog. Large publishers seldom offer so much to new authors and expect manuscripts to be presented in a highly polished format, with editing and proofreading already done. Some of our authors have proved to be networking goddesses’ and they have been keen to pass the love around, which is nice.
What are some of the warning signs you're being taken advantage of in the publishing industry?
There are so many. Firstly, if you are paying up front, whatever the company says on its website, you are self-publishing. If you are asked for your credit card details in case of extras or if you go onto the website and there are thousands of books of low quality, your alarm bells should start to ring. Even if you are accepted by a large publisher, ask about claw back. This is where you only get your royalties after all the costs of production are met and is quite common.
What would you suggest to any author looking to publish?
Don’t get your mum or friend to read your novel and think that it is edited, unless said person is an editor, of course. Practice writing a query letter or email. I’m completely turned off if a query is full of grammatical or spelling mistakes. Think of your synopsis as a shop window, one that will get the editor to browse. Writing compelling prose isn’t enough, you need the whole package. I could write pages on this, but most importantly, think carefully before spending your hard earned cash. On her website, Anne Rice puts it quite succinctly: if you have to pay, it’s not publishing, it’s vanity publishing. However, there is a new breed of author for whom self-publishing is a viable option. If you have a disposable income and the savvy to pull it off, then give self-pub a try. If as an author you decide that you don’t want to go through the archaic and often cruel rigmarole of submission, think before you sign up with the big self-publishers. Ask yourself how much of what the self-publishing company is offering you can do yourself and if the answer is some or most of it, spend the money you save on marketing your novel and a holiday.
Since you have started a publishing company, what are some of the things you have realized writers are uninformed or don't understand about publishers and the process of publishing?
Tricky question, writers don’t on the whole seem to realise this is a business. Last year I wrote twenty rejection emails in one day. My point being, that my business is new and I will give a writer a lot of leeway in their style (that can be fixed), but not their content. Don’t just blanket send your manuscript to every publisher you can find in The Writers’ Handbook, do some research. As a writer you should love to fact find, and that should not stop when you’re looking for a publisher. Send the right manuscript to the right editor and make sure your query and synopsis are outstanding.
One of the other things I think some writers don’t understand is that, new or old, big or small, all publishers expect the author to get out and publicise their own novel. What small publishers don’t have is a dedicated sales team to push your novels into stores, so if you find an outlet for your novel then tell your publisher. You need to find a way to build a relationship with readers and the internet has helped writers get out there and work their novel. All writers need a web presence for their novel.
What other advice would you give to writers who are serious about being published?
Don’t give up, but don’t ruin your life waiting to be a superstar. Being an author is a great thing, but enjoying the process of writing is the work of a lifetime. Seeing your novel in print or ebook format is important, but it is the writing which makes you special.
On The Future of Publishing
What are your opinions on the evolution of publishing, especially in regards to ePublishing. Where do you see the industry in the next 5 to 10 years?
It’s times like this I wish I had a crystal ball, but that would take all the fun out of life. I personally think ePublishing is going to be enormous, as reading has become very sexy again and, although the market share is still small, the year on year growth, even through the recession, has been amazing. Kindle ebook sales went through the ceiling this Christmas and the instant fix that ebooks give the reader is addictive, so I believe we will see an exponential growth in the industry over the next 5 years, as the price of readers decrease. The market has always been mostly women, but with the advent of a gadget, who knows, the whole reading demographic could change in the next ten years. I remember reading, about ten years ago, that the horror/fantasy market was dead, but look what’s happened. I think, when things settle down, e-publishing will find its place. Once this generation of readers hit middle age and e-readers are sold on their ability to enlarge text, we will find a whole new market, with a disposable income and the spare time to read. I know I prefer to read from a screen where I can adjust the text size; up to now readers of a certain age have had to settle for large print editions and availability may be limited and the cost prohibitive. Libraries will be able to stock every book ever written and, instead of making the twice-yearly trip to goodwill or charity shops to clear space on our shelves, we will be able to store all of our books on a nice clean e-reader.
How do you feel about some the recent competitive moves between Amazon and Apple in regards to selling ebooks? How will this effect your company? How do you see it effecting authors?
For us it’s all good, we like the idea of competition. We are working with an apps developer and all our titles will be available on Apple – Dance on Fire by James Garcia Jr is already available from the Apple bookstore. This is possible because the apps developer takes a small cut for every ebooks sold and Apple only take a very reasonable 30%. We also use Smashwords for our conversion and our ebooks are now available in Kindle format without us having to pay Amazon the 65% of purchase price they expect. I have nothing against Amazon and if I’m looking for a book, I usually look there first, but I see blogs with affiliate links to Amazon and I keep wanting to recommend Smashword’s affiliate programme which gives authors and publishers the chance to set their own rates. So a blogger who has links to books they’ve recommended can earn up to 80% of the ebook price. As a small, British publisher I think competition between the large stores is a good thing. I hope ebook stores, such as Smashword, who charge the publisher or author a very reasonable 13% of list price to sell your novel, get a larger slice of the sales pie chart. Converting readers to buying from diverse sellers can only be helped by larger companies fighting it out. If you are considering self-pub, we are working on an ebook for authors on how to publish their novels free of fees. It will take the author from typing The End right through to setting up a website and marketing their books again for free.
I’d like to finish on a positive note, which is sometimes hard as the odds are against you, but the fairytale ending is out there for any writer to find. The changing face of publishing is opening up new opportunities and you can only take advantage of them if you’ve a positive attitude and a belief in yourself as a writer.