I Did Not Choose She Writes Press

Dickens at my Computer, Photo by Karen Lynne Klink

I recently downloaded a book by Colleen M. Story entitled Writer get Noticed!, which is supposed to help me pursue my own path while developing an author platform. Sounds like a great idea, since I need help with my platform.

My cat, Dickens, is here next to my computer, as usual and willing, but I doubt he knows much about this sort of thing.

The book suggests I keep a journal of each of its steps, answering core questions, which I did:

  1. I truly don’t care about making a lot of money. Thank goodness. Because the chances of that are slim. To me, higher royalties are not that important.
  2. What my novel has to say is important. It is meaningful and fits my vision.

As much as I believe She Writes Press is a good fit for many writers, I don’t believe it is for me. 

They read three hundred pages of my manuscript to invite me to publish with them. I should have known this was enough to recognize talent, but not enough to financially back my novel. This is my impression of the approach of a school who awards a publishing contract upon graduation. The She Writes Press team is excellent and I wish I could afford them, but I cannot.

I want a publisher who believes in my novel, Unspoken, as much as I do, or at least enough to financially support it.

I am grateful to She Writes Press and responders on Critique Circle for what I have learned these past few weeks. I began as such a naive newbie, and I now have direction. I highly recommend She Writes Press for many women writers who can afford to publish with their team. You will get plenty of support on your journey, merely not financial.

Where do I go from here?

I will be writing about my platform and why this novel is important. I hope you will come along for the ride.

Dickens Closing by Karen Lynne Klink

No, Dickens, this is not the end of this story!

Publication – Risking All for a Dream

Karen writing
Karen Writing, photo by Richard Johnson

Yesterday I read the eight-page (plus Exhibits) publishing contract. I believe contracts can be frightening when you read all the fees you must come up with, as well as where all duties lie, and there are a lot of them. All those items you discussed are now on paper in black and white—legal, or about to be.

Many folks who have been party to real estate contracts know what I mean. That feeling you get when you are sitting at the table with your agent and are signing all those documents, one after the other. It is as though you are signing your life away.

I have only one document, yet this effort to publish my novel is a risk, as it is taking a major chunk out of my savings. My only income is a small social security check each month. I had to think hard about these facts when I learned what publication is going to cost. Brooke Warner with She Writes Press mentioned $10,000, which included their fee, editing, processing, printing, shipment, and numerous other fees, not including publicity, which could be $5,000, or more. Yes, any writers out there, take a good, hard look. These costs are standard.

I decided to walk away from the entire experience for a few hours. Watched a Netflix program. Let it all ruminate in the back of my mind.

Later that evening it was as though one of those comic lightbulbs flashed on in my head. Truly.

All my life I have had jobs that I didn’t like, but probably like many of you out there, I did them to make a living. I worked my way through college to get a degree to teach art, but I moved out of state and schools dropped art from the curriculum at the time I graduated, so I couldn’t get a job teaching. 

  • I ended up as a secretary for years, and hated it.
  • Took paralegal classes, but that wasn’t fulfilling either.
  • Worked at an art gallery and designed and facilitated their web site, but that was only fulfilling until it turned into the same process day after day.

This novel, though. Unspoken is my dream. Unspoken is about equality, which has meaning that is worth the risk I am taking to get it published. 

I have felt more alive since I learned I would be published than in the last few years. I have learned more in the last month than I have since college. I am not merely living from day to day. I am on an adventure, an adventure that will last the next couple years and beyond. That adventure is worth $10,000 and more.

Most important. To have something in my life worth living for, something meaningful. I have never had that. My jobs were meaningless, merely survival, a means of putting food on the table, paying for the car, and taking a vacation now and then.

Even if Unspoken fails, it will have been worth the journey and the risk.

Road Less Traveled, Photo from Wana Commons by Rebecca Barray

Any thoughts on your journeys and risks you have taken? Do you have a dream? What would you risk all for?

Critique Circle – Is She Writes Press Worth It?

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

I cannot take a step further on this journey without backing up a little and speaking of the wonderful people who helped so much with editing the numerous chapters of my novel almost from its inception. Many thanks to my critique friends at Critique Circle, without whom my manuscript would never have gotten where it is today. Special thanks to my critique buddies who slogged through hours of editing with me.

I began a blog on Critique Circle as well as here, and received some interesting comments about She Writes Press, one of which I am including in this post.

I am poor with anything regarding numbers, always have been. My sister received all mathematical skills from my dad. This may be partly psychological on my part, and appears to have become worse as I have aged. Simple math is no problem, but when it comes to thought problems, it is like attempting to connect the dots—half do not connect.

This particular response concerns Amazon U.S., and is from Trevose. It goes on a bit, but I don’t want to leave anything important out:

“I searched on “she writes press” on Amazon US, in both the Kindle store and in the Book store. It returned a number of titles sorted by “featured” (whatever that means). I spot-checked about 10 of them and they were all published by “she writes press”, so it seems to have been pulling just books published by them.

“Here is the data that came back…

“Kindle Store:

“Results: 103 ebooks (this is not the total, just the top titles I could survey)

“Avg Sales Rank: 388,797

“Avg Monthly Rev: $8

“Avg Price: $1.75

“Avg Number of Reviews: 72 (this seemed like a lot, but I’ve seen where these types of operations expect their authors to review n number of books they’ve previously published — so it is a ‘ladder’ not reciprocal, which keeps it from hitting Amazon’s ‘reciprocal reviews’ tripwire)

“Total Monthly Rev (for all titles combined): $863 (The 4 best selling titles accounted for about half)

“Book Store:

“Results: 108 books (this is not the total, just the top titles I could survey)

Avg Sales Rank: 1,094,969

“Avg Monthly Rev: $139

“Avg Price: $15.02

“Avg Number of Reviews: 37

“Total Monthly Rev (for all titles combined): $13,975 (The 5 best selling titles accounted for about half)

“Keep in mind this data is just the Amazon US store. And this data makes assumptions about monthly revenue based on a snapshot of the current sales rank and price. It’s a swag. And keep in mind that this is revenue – not what the author gets. For the sake of discussion, assume the authors get half of these totals. SWP says they get 40% of author earnings for books and 20% for ebooks. 

“Additionally, book sales generally have about a year life. That is, after about a year sales trail off to a fraction of their highest point (even if the highest point was really low), so even the better selling books in these lists can’t sustain for long. 

“A weird aspect I saw was that almost half of the titles that came back when I pulled the data have not been published yet (some won’t publish until late this year), so a lot of the data is based on pre-publication sales. I’m not sure what to think of this. 

“What we can conclude from all this? Yes, they are a vanity press that makes most of their money off of what authors pay them to publish their books (this is not a pejorative statement). These titles are clearly not generating enough cashflow to pay even one full-time staff member. They make a modest amount of money from book sales, but it is pretty small. 

“We can also conclude that whatever services SWP provides and some writers have worked together to achieve some market success. On the other hand, based on this data, we can estimate that 99% of authors will never recover the $7,900 SWP charges, and probably half won’t recover even $200 of it.”

 

I am not familiar with Amazon publishing or anything he is commenting about. Maybe someone out there is? I will be speaking with Brooke Warner of She Writes Press this coming Wednesday and might be able to get her to respond about this then.

In the meantime, here is a video from 2015 that contains a good deal of what She Writes Press does for their authors:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xb971_X5PAQ&feature=youtu.be  

I welcome any comments. 

Being Published for the First Time

My main idea was to blog about this process of being published for the first time, but how do I go about doing that? What do you want to know? What would I want to know? 

Why I went with this “hybrid” independent publisher:

  1. I retain creative control, yet receive She Writes Press’s knowledge of the industry’s standards;
  2. I keep a higher percentage of royalties;
  3. She Writes Press is a community-based group—all authors are supported equally;
  4. The editorial staff is accessible;
  5. They vet their authors with a three track system—I will be on Track 3, which means I will have one of their edit my manuscript;
  6. They have traditional distribution through Ingram Publisher Services of print and ebooks;
  7. Book covers are beautiful and professional, and covers matter a great deal;
  8. She Writes Press has a top notch reputation—they were 2019 Independent Publisher of the Year.

There’s more, but that’s enough this time around. Check out the video if you want to see the rest: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xb971_X5PAQ&feature=youtu.be 

Photo by Polina Zimmerman on Pexels.com

I should add that She Writes Press and any affiliate is in no way paying me for writing this. These are reasons why I chose them to publish my very first novel, and am thrilled that they accepted my manuscript. 

I received an email from Brooke which stated that, because of Covid-19, it may be spring of 2022 before publication could take place. That gives me about two years to get an author platform and everything else in place. Two years of an amazing journey. Will some of you come along with me?

First Step

I was just informed that my manuscript, Unspoken, was accepted by She Writes Press for publication in fall of 2021. That should get me blogging again.

This will be the first of what I hope to be a series about what it’s like to be published for the first time. She Writes Press sent me a 94-page Author Handbook that outlined what I am to expect in the next year, so there is going to be lots to blog about, including: editing, publicity, marketing, social media, branding, etc.

I moved into a new house with my housemates, put together an art studio, painted, started writing again, submitted my manuscript, and what a surprise! In the midst of Covid-19.

I am so fortunate to have so many creative things to do here in my own little abode. And to be living here in Tucson, Arizona.

I spent yesterday making Olson masks (https://www.sewcanshe.com/blog/simple-step-by-step-tutorial-for-the-olson-mask-pattern) for me and my housemates, Mary and Rick.

Plus I need to get caught up on what’s new here at WordPress AND learn about Instagram. Anyone else out there have a difficult time keeping up with this stuff?

The Good Old Days, No more

What happened to the good old days when all you had to do was write a novel?  As if that weren’t enough.  These days, if you want your story to reach the public, you need be a web expert, a marketing expert and a publishing expert.

I have been trying to complete the second draft of my Civil War novel, but I keep getting sidetracked by all these articles about how I have to have a web presence, network hither and yon, be prepared to promote myself on Facebook, Twitter, various writers’ communities, etc., etc.  Then I must decide whether to go for a paper publisher, ebook publisher, or self-publish.  Then there are three different ways I might self-publish, depending.

“The Writer” magazine’s January issue contains an article about whether publishers should pay authors for promoting their own books.  We are expected to do our own promoting, you see.  Instead of them.  Only the cost comes out of our own pockets.

Then there is this blog.  It was originally going to be about writing.  Perhaps I should get back to that and worry about publishing when the writing is done.  First things first.

For those of you ready to publish, the newsy sites are on the sidebar.  Right now, I have to clear my head for writing.

The Author – An Anachronism?

A web friend of mine recently published her first book – an eBook.  She is thrilled.  I would be, too.  She also has a very fun blog that interviews her characters.  This is not only clever, but shows she is aware of one of the most current methods of marketing her book.

One of the recent articles on Digital Book World is by Don Linn, former owner/CEO of Consortium Book Sales & Distribution, entitled, “Caught in the Middle, Publishing’s Other Customers.”

The cost of hardcover books is going down.  Sounds like a good deal, doesn’t it.  It is for the reader, which I suspect applies to most of us.  He notes that authors like Stephen King will not suffer.  They and those like them can self-publish and will still sell the same number of books they always have.  Even us newbies may do all right, as long as we do not seek to make a living from our writing.  I add, as long as we are willing and able to do all of our own marketing, delivery, follow-up etc., etc.

What about “those who fall between these two groups. They are the people who write for a living and who bring us the workhorse books in their categories (from literary fiction to genre fiction to all manner of non-fiction). Their advances have historically been relatively low and their sales relatively modest. They write for major publishers and independents. They write books that backlist and, in a small but very important number, they write really important books that either break out commercially, or say something significant that might not otherwise get said.”

Yet another consideration in this age of transitions.  Will the future look back on us and declare we produced nothing new, nothing of worth?  For the lack of funds, art suffered?  No more authors, only people who “write on the side.”

You may want to check out his article.  More food for thought.

Scary Things and EBooks

I was not sure, but NanoWriMo is a good thing.  Once again, I have found that the things that scare me are the things from which I learn.  Things.  Such an all-encompassing word, one most of us cannot do without.  My things, your things, whatever you wish to put in that mammoth open bag, or box.  Imagine what you will.  That is why we write, isn’t it.

I am writing better.  Each day.  Pushing for those 1,677 words.  I knew it was true.  I declared so earlier on this blog, and I have proved myself correct, at least for me.  It gets easier, too.  After the sixth day I noticed a difference.  Write every day.

I was writing before, sporadically.  Trying to “get out” short stories for those magazines and epublishers.  “They” said, those who supposedly know, that a writer should include a list of all previously-published stories when submitting a query along with all the other information that agents and/or editors generally require with a sample of your novel.  They want to see that you are successful, that you have previously been published.   So I am trying.  Only I am not a short story writer.

Some are.  So many wonderful short stories out there, anthologies and all that.  All those literary magazines.  All those popular erotica sites on the web from which you can buy something to turn you on from one to five dollars.  How do I know about those?  No comment.

I love novels.  I love to get deep into a character and watch him or her grow.  I love to go somewhere else and live there for days or weeks.  I love to learn about other times, other places.  I practically never read short stories, never buy an anthology, even at the used book store.  I appreciate a well-written short story.  A few have amazed me; others have made me chuckle.  Only they are not my “thing.”

I am so much happier writing my NanoNovel.  I live it.  I think about the characters.  My writing is more fun and it is improving.

It remains to be seen whether a publisher will take a novel on its own merits.  Maybe this is another place where ebooks offer more possilities for us all, particularly yet unpublished writers.

Another New Thing

Here is another new thing – Bookserver

“The BookServer is a growing open architecture for vending and lending digital books over the Internet. Built on open catalog and open book formats, the BookServer model allows a wide network of publishers, booksellers, libraries, and even authors to make their catalogs of books available directly to readers through their laptops, phones, netbooks, or dedicated reading devices. BookServer facilitates pay transactions, borrowing books from libraries, and downloading free, publicly accessible books.” [more…]

The Book is Dead

“There are also the people who say, quite rightly, that writing and publishing a “real” book is still the big dream, and people will keep chasing that dream no matter how much we all argue that the book is dead, that times have changed, that no one reads any more, etc.”

This excerpt is taken from Jane Friedman’s blog (Writer’s Digest), and I suggest you read the rest of her post here.

I realize I am not posting what I said was next, but I have been reading so much about the future of publishing all over the web, that I thought writers ought to be aware of what is going on out there in the publishing world.  The state of the economy is only making the transition to digital publishing happen sooner rather than later.  Here is what I have been discovering:

It is cheaper for a reader to buy a digital book than a printed one.  That is a fact.  People in third world countries, people with less than many of us in developed countries, are getting access to the web and to the ability to read digital books.

It is also cheaper for publishers to publish digitally.  The quality of the writing of digital works has improved.  Many magazines that publish only on the web are getting as much respect as anything published on paper.

Barnes & Noble has just developed their own digital reader with more books available than Kindle.  Apple has announced their development of a digital book reader.

We are in a major transition period of which you must be aware if you want to publish.  If you are writing a novel, short stories or poetry, you cannot ignore the web or eBooks.  This includes marketing yourself and your writing.

Stay tune.