Tuesday, 26 March 2013

I've Been Offered a Publishing Contract!

It happened so suddenly and unexpectedly, especially as I'd convinced myself that obtaining that holy grail - the coveted publishing contract - would never happen, it did!
Anyone who's been following my blog over the past eleven months will know my original aim was to chart my journey from unpublished to published author, and whether it was via the self-publishing road as an indie author, or through the traditional route, I hadn't yet decided.

Like all unpublished newbies, I did the research, attended the writers conferences, even those which were so costly they almost bankrupted me, but I was there, avidly listening to the experts, taking notes and nervously delivering my pitches. I joined a writers group who helped edit, critique and polish my manuscript till it was considered ready for the dreaded submissions stage. And then, I approached only a handful of publishers - seven in all, not counting the competitions I entered - and received some excellent feedback from one of them. But, still no offer in sight.
And just as I about to push the 'Approve' button at CreateSpace, I received an email that had me staring at the screen like a dumb bunny, before leaping out of my seat (actually I was at work) and squealing with delight.
It had come from the very last publisher I'd sent my manuscript to. They loved my book and were offering me a contract.
I think I walked about in a delirium the rest of the afternoon, and barely able to concentrate on my work. But, what the heck! I had a good excuse.

The next day the publisher sent me a sample contract which I perused, then emailed a copy to my lawyer (who luckily happens to be a close friend). It took her only a day to check and make some helpful suggestions. After all, what do I know about contracts?
Although I wasn't sure whether to start negotiating at this early stage, I followed my lawyer's advice and sent it back to the publisher for their yay or nay.

That was late Friday afternoon and now it's Tuesday morning. I haven't - as yet - heard back from them and I'm wondering if - in my excitement - I did the right thing.
Last thing I want is to scare off a publisher even before I've signed the contract and have my publishing career over before it's even begun!

So, now I have to wait and hope they still want me.

I'd love to hear from anyone else who's had experience with publishers. Did I start too soon?
What do you think?

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Do I Need to Promote my Book Before Its Release Date? Absolutely!

Gone are the days when publishers took their slab of an author's royalties in return for handling all the publicity and marketing - and providing good editors - while we writers got on with the job of writing. Now, it seems, everything's changed. Publishers still take their 'slice of the cake' but with fewer returns. As authors, we are expected to do much of our own promotional work, which includes creating our own brand and then shamelessly plugging it!

Recently, I entered an international writing competition run by a UK publisher. After I had submitted my personal details - author bio, synopsis and complete manuscript - I had to include my social media presence. Was I on Facebook and Twitter? Did I have an updated blog or website? Was I prepared to 'contribute' to my own publicity and marketing?
Hello! Isn't that what my royalties are supposed to be paying the publisher to do?!
In some respects I'm glad I didn't win (I came 7th) as it meant most of my royalties would go anywhere else but to me and for very little in return. 
The case for 'going it indie' never seemed more plausible.

So, here I am, a soon-to-be-indie-author doing the work of a publisher and 'shamelessly plugging' my soon-to-be-released debut novel, Bloodgifted.
And since I must do everything myself, I decided to research the best way to go about it, and this is what I discovered.

 1.  Do a Cover Reveal
Even before your manuscript is completed, hire a good graphics designer (believe me, it's worth it) to create a unique cover for your book. Not only will it be exclusive to you, but it will become your brand and readers will recognise you by it. E.g. Eragon, Fifty Shades of Grey, Coke... etc.

2.  Use Your Book Cover as a Promotional Tool
After all, it's your brand - use it! Publishers do. They coin a catchy phrase or place a particularly memorable line from a book they're promoting and place it on on the cover, then release it on facebook, twitter, pinterest as well on their and their author's website. And, it's amazing how it attracts reader interest - visual cues always work!
Now, if publishers can do it, so can we, as we have all the tools readily available on our PCs. All you need is Powerpoint. Copy and paste your book cover onto Powerpoint, play around with fonts and colours then save it as a jpeg file on documents.

Here's mine -

Does it work? Would a reader be attracted into buying it?

3.  Employ Friends and Family to Share it on their Facebook Pages, Tweet About it and Add it to their Blogs in the lead up to your book's eventual release. And, don't be content with only one cover promo, do several and release them a month at a time. That way you'll be building up interest without being labelled a spammer!

3.  Try to Arrange an Author Interview on Goodreads and Get Involved in the Discussion Groups
Goodreads is one of the best sites where readers discover new authors and their books. The discussion groups, in particular, connect authors with readers and help build up a loyal fan following. It lets authors create their own page, and this is where readers can find out more about you and even leave comments. A positive review on Goodreads is probably more effective a media press release.

4. Once Your Book is Released, Ask Readers What Particular Lines from the Book They'd Like to See on the Cover. 
Run a competition, with the eventual winner having their entry displayed on your website. By doing this, you're involving your readers in the promotional process and what better way to gain and keep loyal followers?

So, as you can see, we writers must be our own publicity machine, and if we do it all, why should we share the royalties? Yes, it's a lot of work and sometimes it would be lovely to have someone else do it all for us, but unfortunately those days are gone.

I'd love to know if others have had success promoting their books in this way, or in other ways. Which is preferable, let the publisher do it and then let them take up to 55% of the royalties (if they're a digital publisher; 95% if they're paperback only), or go indie?

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Inspiring Blogger Award

It's always nice to be asked to join a blog tour, so I was thrilled to have been nominated for this award by my dear friend, PNR author, Lindsay J. Pryor. Big hug, Linds!

Here are the rules of The Very Inspiring Blogger Award:

Display the award logo on your blog.
Link back to the person who nominated you.
State 7 things about yourself.
Nominate other bloggers (the number seems to vary) for this award and link to them.

So,  here goes:

1. Before I decided to become a writer I was an archaeologist turned high-school teacher. I love teaching and enjoy the interaction with kids and young people, but Ancient History is a passion with me. Twice, I've taken classes on overseas excursions to Britain and Europe to visit well known historical and archaeological sites.
Now, coming from Australia, that's one long distance school excursion!

2. My love of history inspired me to write my soon-to-be-released book, Bloodgifted. As I'm a Roman-Britain specialist, I couldn't resist beginning my epic tale in mid 3rd century Britain, although the story itself is set in the present.
The final book in the series I'm writing - The Dantonville Legacy -  will be set entirely in Roman Britain.

3. I've always wanted to visit Tintagel in Cornwall - the supposed site of King Arthur's birthplace. Of all the times I've been to Britain, I haven't yet managed to get there. It's a dream of mine. Ah well, one day!

4. I love dragons and have a collection of crystal, pewter and ceramic figurines on my bookshelf. Two of them are bookends I found beckoning to me from the tobacconists shop window at my local shopping centre. Maybe one day, I'll write a fantasy story about them.
Anyone who's interested in seeing a picture of them can wander over to my twitter page and check them out! @FatimaLacoba

5. On one archaeological site in Australia, I went with colleagues to the local watering hole - literally - to fill up our water cannisters. As the spring was lovely and cool, we lay on our stomachs, splashed our faces (it was an extremely hot day) and took a drink as well.
They later told me how brave I was to have taken a sip right next to a brown snake, who'd slithered out of the bush for a cool drink. For anyone who doesn't know, brown snakes are the one of the deadliest creatures in the country. Their venom can kill a grown man in 20 minutes.
My reply? What snake?!! I honestly hadn't seen it!

6. I'm a Christian. I was converted when I was twenty-two and it was the best day of my life, knowing my sins are all washed away by the blood of Christ. I'm imperfect, but He's all forgiving and I'm looking forward to meeting Him in Heaven. I have so many questions!

7. I've always hated my name - Fatima - and that's why I shorten it to, Tima. There are two reasons for that. The 1st is because when I was in school, kids always shortened my name to Faty, My friends, Janelle and Patrice were lucky to have theirs shortened to simply Jan and Pat. Me? I became Faty! I was on a constant diet to remain slim just so my name wasn't justified!
The 2nd reason is, I got sick of strangers asking me if I was Arabic or Egyptian or some other Middle Eastern place whenever I had to introduce myself.
No! My parents come from the Czech Republic (we're part Czech, part German) and I have fair skin, deep auburn hair and green eyes. I'm about as Middle Eastern as schnitzel, sauerkraut and apple strudel!

Well, that's it. Hope you enjoyed getting to know a little more about me.

Here are the links to my other blogger friends who inspire me.

Claudia Taylor

Dionne Lister

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Does Amazon Cheat on Royalty Statements??

That's the headline I saw recently on a tweet, and being the curious type - especially since I've now decided to indie publish - I opened the link and read the article. The more I read, the lower my stomach plummeted, and I literally felt sick! For, if it's true, then what chance do we indie authors have to earn a decent living from our writing?
Recently, there's been a spate of blog posts alluding to a collusion between some literary agents and the Big Five - one well known romance novel publisher, in particular, who will remain nameless - regarding royalty payments, or rather lack of, to authors. The words, "cheating", "dishonest practises" and "misleading statements", were scattered throughout those articles.
It's enough for any author to up-stakes, leave their publisher and go indie - as several already have - in the hope of earning any form of income from their books.
But if Amazon and CreateSpace are just as guilty, what hope is there left?

Some of my published author-friends have had their Ebook sales recorded, but not PODs. Why aren't they included on the statements?

That angers me! Is there such a thing as honesty and integrity in the publishing world? Or has it entirely disappeared in the pursuit of greed?
After all, without writers, there would be no publishing houses. Without us, they wouldn't have a business! So, as the old adage says, why bite the hand that feeds?

As a writer, I spend every moment of my spare time pouring my heart and soul into my creation, my world, my baby - my book. It takes two, three, maybe four years to write, and then the real work of perfecting and polishing begins. I get it thoroughly critiqued, edited and proofread until it's ready to greet the outside world. And when it finally is, the publisher takes - whether it's traditionally published or indie - the rights as well as my earnings and if they can tweak the sales statements, they will.
Publishing is a business and this business is lead by sharks and snakes!
Please excuse the colourful metaphors, but right now I feel like throwing my hands up in despair, for no matter which direction I choose to publish my book, I know I'll be cheated!

Here's the link to the article I mentioned above. The comments on the site lead to further interesting links. Do Amazon and Createspace Rip Off Indie Publishers With Failure to Correctly Report Sales?

If anyone has any comments or first hand experience of this I'd love to know. Actually, I'd love to start a discussion on it.
Are writers being cheated by their publishers? Can we do anything about it? Or are we simply helpless guppies?!