Archives for May 2016

The Non-Compete Clause in Publishing Contracts


Bestselling author Kristine Kathryn Rusch wrote about “Short- and Long-term Thinking”, a phrase that describes what every author (or other artist) should do – well before signing any contract.  In her piece she insists that no one should EVER sign a non-compete clause. Look up your own publishing contract(s) if you can find the word compete and read on:

Kristine explains: “for the past several years, traditional publishers are trying to control everything about a writer, from the rights she / he sells to the amount of money she makes.  They also want what they are calling “a non-compete” clause, which means: it’s a “do-not-do-business-without-our-permission” clause.”

Sounds to me Like SLAVERY.
Kristine Kathryn Rusch advices: “If you sign any version of a non-compete clause, you will never be a full-time professional writer.  Writing will not be your career.  Something else will, and you will write on the side for the rest of your life.”
And further: “Contracts are one long document that works as a whole, not a series of linked paragraphs.  Deleting the non-compete clause is not enough. You must also get rid of all the language about competition in the warranty section of the contract.  That’s the part your agent tells you is boilerplate so you don’t have to read it.  And don’t listen to an agent who tells you that: “You don’t have to read your warranty clause.  Yes, you have to read your entire contract, not just the parts that someone warned you about.”
She explains that publishers these days requiring non-compete clauses in almost all of their contracts, and are making those clauses a deal breaker from the publisher’s side. It means that either you let the publisher control your entire career just because you sold that publisher one book for $5000 or else. Don’t walk out of their office, RUN…
The Ugly Truth…
You would agree that during the term of the publishing contract you will not, without the written permission of the Publisher, publish or authorize to be published any work under this name or any other (e.g. a pen name), including blog posts, short stories, nonfiction articles, novels, or the like.  Books generally aren’t going “out of print” any more, (thanks to e-books).  Contracts with traditional publishers are becoming contracts for the life of the copyright.  It will prevent you from making a living with your craft.  According to that clause, your publisher is in charge of everything you write, whether the publisher pays you for it or not.”
Kristine Rusch writes from her own experience: “I demanded the clause’s removal and got it with no fuss at all.  Recently, however, writers have signed contracts with that clause because they were told the clause was a deal breaker. I know of at least two mystery writers who need their publisher’s permission to put up a blog post.  Do you really want that to happen to you?  Because it could if you sign this clause.
Consider that the contract, like your mortgage, it might get sold to another company you are entirely unfamiliar with at the moment.  This happened to Avalon authors who had no idea when they signed their contracts that eventually Amazon would have the rights to publish those works.  Your current publisher might not enforce that clause; but the publisher / business your current publisher sells out to, might enforce the clause.”

Read more scenarios on her blog post, especially about the boilerplate section of the contract.

Don’t Forget: You can Always Self-Publish.
The best way to handle a non-compete clause is to refuse to sign one.  Or you can try to find a publisher who is not insisting on a non-compete clause.  And you need to find an agent that not only understands IP law, but is actually working ‘for’ you and not just doing whatever they can to get you to sign any contract so they can get their cut.  Or you need to hire an IP lawyer to make sure the agent isn’t taking you for a ride … If you still sign these unfavourable clauses, you will have no one to blame but yourself for your tanking writing career.
Why Self-Publish?
There are now very good authors – even authors who have deals with major publishers – getting into the self-publishing game.  Why?  They are unhappy about certain rights or royalty rates and the refusal of publishers to negotiate those rights or rates.
Authors have to do their own marketing anyway, no matter if self-publishing or going with a publisher.  While many authors assume that getting a trade publisher means that this publisher will take care of the marketing chores, the truth is that a traditional publisher will only put real marketing muscle behind the one or two books per year that it truly believes to become a bestseller or the one from a celebrity.  But how can you promote your book, if you are at the mercy of a publisher?  Only the publisher who uploaded books to online retailers gets the password and authors have to fight for each little improvement or change on the retail platforms.

Publishers Need Authors. But Authors Don’t Need Publishers!
Amazon, Apple, CreateSpace, Ingram Lightning Source, and Kobo will happily take any author’s book and make it available in eBook or print format for much higher revenues that trade publishers would ever pay.  Sure, getting it into traditional brick-and-mortar bookstores may be harder, but it’s by no means impossible.


Finding Mr. or Ms. Right for Your Books


Trader Joe’s might be spying on Whole Foods, BMW is test-driving Mercedes, Audi or Porsche cars, Chapters is checking out Barnes & Noble, and both are – for sure – now visiting all the latest Amazon bookstores…

What writers can learn from big (or small) business:  In order to find customers for your product, it is essential to study your competition.  Get lots of ideas how to find readers and reviewers:

“Who is Your Audience and who is Your Competition?”  
These are essential questions that are not only very important for self-publishers – but also for authors who want to go with a traditional publisher!  You need to proof to the agent or the publisher that you have done your homework and that your book idea is a viable one.

Know Who Are Your Potential Readers.
I know: the word research is not very popular with authors – but unfortunately many writers can relate the lack of success for their book to the lack of research before writing, publishing and marketing.

  • Who are the readers in your genre?
  • Where are they on Social Media?
  • Do you follow or invite them to follow you?
  • Who are the readers of your competition?
  • Who are the reviewers of your competition?
  • Which bloggers write about your books competition?
  • In which communities / forums can you find readers in your genre?

Join Reader Communities.
There are thousands of reader communities on Goodreads, Google+ and other forums where you can meet your future readers. Know your audience BEFORE you write, rather than look for one after it’s done!
Have a Tribe!
Engaged readers spread the word about your writing. To find engaged readers you have to reach out first: Following readers, reviewers, network, offer free writing examples, post single chapters on reader communities. Join writing / reading groups, and create excitement for your new books.
Your tribe is everyone who follows you on Social Media, on forums or reading / writing communities or subscribes to your blog or email list. It also consists of everyone who knows you, has heard of you, has purchased one of your books, wrote a review or even an author interview. Ask these people to tweet about your new book releases or offer them a free e-book “for the price of a tweet”.

How Can You Research Your Competition?
Knowing your audience  is essential and it means understanding their age group, interests, educational status and economic class.  Monitoring tweets, Google+ and Facebook posts, blogs, and media mentions of other writers in your genre is an easy and cost-effective way to learn about the readers of your competitors – and in turn of your potential readers.
Start With Keywords.
Make a long list with possible keywords that readers might use to find a similar book.  Check out the complete categories / genres at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple, Google Books, Waterstones etc. and study all the books, that could be akin to your future work.  Visit several public libraries to learn about your competition.  Borrow or purchase the most interesting ones, not only to read them, but also to study the book layout and design.  Read the online reviews of their books carefully!

  • Where are these books sold and for which price?
  • In which format are they offered: e-book, print, audio-book?
  • Who are the customers of these competing books?
  • Who reviewed these books and where (Goodreads, Amazon, Kobo, iBooks etc.?)
  • How are these books received and which ones are bestselling?
  • Which categories did they choose, and which keywords?
  • In which categories / genres are these competitive books listed?
  • What cover designs have been chosen for these books?
  • How many books of this topic / with the same keywords have been published already?
  • Which author represent him / herself and their book the best – via their Amazon and Goodreads author page, and on their website or blog?.

How to Find Your Competitor’s Readers.
Whether you want to admit it or not, you might have lots of writing competitors out there.  Devote some time and energy to research your competition and their followers.  Find out about their readers, book reviewers and social media followers on their platform, such as their online accounts or their website / blog.  Invite these followers and book reviewers to your own sites or to review your titles.
Search Function Your Best Tool.
The tiny search function on every social media site is your best tool.  In order to know their reviewers, use online retailer’s sites, such as Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Waterstones, Barnes & Noble etc. and certainly Goodreads, where you can see their fans and friends.  Follow these people too and invite them to your own platform.
Learn About Your Competition – to Find Your Readers.
AdWords campaigns might also give you interesting insights into your competition.  And don’t forget to set up Google Alerts, not only for yourself, your own author name, but also for all of our competitors – in order to know what they are up to.  Other resources you can use to dig up information on your competitors:, or

Always Keep in Mind:
Social media is more than posting on your page and gaining followers, it’s about fostering relationships. Interact with your followers.  Respond to their comments, ask questions, answer questions!  Be a true friend, and you will gain followers and future readers.  Don’t forget:  You are in this for a long time if writing is really what you like best in life.  Get it right from the beginning!



How to Double or Triple Your Writers Income


Re-purposing your book manuscript, your research and your articles is a great way to build your expertise and earn more money from your writing.  Most stories fit more than one genre.  

Re-purpose your manuscript and make more out of it than just a book and an e-book: Your book has a secret ingredient that is called “Copyright.”  Every story you write, every novel, is a package of copyright.   What else can you do with your manuscript and your copyright?  Split your manuscript into slices and sell each piece separately!

You can sell parts of your book to:

  • one publisher
  • other parts to another publisher
  • some parts to overseas markets
  • other parts to audio
  • as e-Books or Singles
  • to game companies
  • maybe even to Hollywood’s film industry
  • use parts of it to submit to contests
  • divide it in chapters and sell to magazines
  • or to web publishers …

The list goes on and on and on. But what you need to do:

  • Self-Publish!  Don’t be on the mercy of a publisher/vanity press!
  • learn all about copyright
  • realize that each piece can be a cash stream for you
  • you don’t even have to use your name, get a pen name or even several

You can sell these manuscript copyrights or uses in several ways:

First Serial Rights
They can be print or electronic and mean that you are selling a publisher the right to publish your article once for the first time.  In the case of print rights – you may immediately sell the piece to an e-publisher before print publication and, after the print magazine containing your article hits the newsstand, you are free to sell it again as a reprint to other print markets.

First Serial Right Electronic
Most Canadian and US freelance authors sell North American first serial rights, reserving the right to sell in other world markets (e.g. Great Britain, Australia or Asia).  Specify what type of rights you are selling: First North American Electronic Rights Only.

Second Serial Right
These are reprint rights and apply to print and electronic markets. Never sell reprint rights, keep them at all costs.  Even you will earn less money for each reprint, yet you can sell your work over and over again.

Subsidiary Rights
Other rights that authors and freelancers hold are subsidiary rights, including, but not limited to movie rights, TV and radio rights, audio and other media rights.

Each story, each novel is a piece of your writing business. If you spread them out over a number of pen names you have a pretty consistent cash flow streams working. You just need to offer them to people who will buy them.

For example: You sold German Translation Rights, and your contract with the German publisher limited your book to trade paper only. Now you can sell:

  • German hardback rights
  • German audio rights
  • German mass market rights
  • German film rights

Your German publisher will pay advances like your Canadian or American publisher, and there will be royalties (against advances).  And then maybe can sell it to Spanish publishing houses. Or Russian, Italian… Dozens and dozens of pieces of your work can be sold.  Each piece is a cash stream.  You just need to sell it.  You create the inventory, your book, just once, but you can sell it for your entire life and even your heirs can keep selling these pieces.

Wring maximum value out of your “book” by spinning off audios, videos, magazine excerpts, foreign-language editions, and more.  Multipurpose your book into downloadable CD’s and e-book versions.

Audio Books:
Why not additionally create an audio-book from your novel or even from non-fiction? Audio-books are becoming more and more popular!  Your readers can listen to your audio-books, which can easily double their book consumption because they are using time that previously was not available and turning it into valuable “reading” time.

They can listen in the car, bus, train, plane… while exercising, walking or hiking, on the beach or while doing mundane tasks around the house or yard.
Special needs readers, such as blind ones will have access to your written words in form of an audio-book.
Audio-books can be listened to on an iPod or iPhone/SmartPhone or other MP3 player, even on most e-readers such as Kindle and Nook.
A membership at (owned by is a good deal for your readers. They can choose from various plans, and easily download digital audio-books to their preferred device. Or your readers can go to their local public library to get audio-books for free.


Kindle Singles:
Now it is possible to write 5,000 (better 10,000) to 30,000 word articles, Amazon calls them “Kindle Singles” and sells them online. A prominent author of these Kindle Singles is Stephen King, with his Single “Mile 81” the current top seller (as of this writing).  So, instead of submitting your work for free to content farms, you sell those articles at the internet giant Amazon website and receive 70% royalties, even for Singles priced under Dollar 2.99.  To be precise for Singles priced between 99 cents and $4.99
Other criterias for Amazon Singles are:
• Original work, not previously published in other formats or publications
• Self-contained work, not chapters excerpted from a longer work
• Not published on any public website in its entirety
• But Amazon is are currently not accepting how-to manuals, public domain works, reference books, travel guides, or children’s books!


Split Your Book in Single Articles.
Very few emerging writers realize that they can sell their magazine articles over and over again.  As long as the markets don’t overlap, you can sell exactly the same article as many times as you like and, in this globally connected marketplace, it is easier than you think.

However, you can only sell first rights, either print or electronic, once for the same piece. After that, unless you change the article significantly, you must offer it as a reprint for a lower fee. If you change the article, you can sell it again for first rights.

Then tweak it into an 800 word article for a national US daily. Subsequently, you make some minor changes to slant the piece for a travel magazine. Each time, you are able to sell it for first rights. Continue to sell it, however look out for new markets in other English language markets overseas.

This practice should be your standard operating procedure if you write and sell articles to print periodicals and e-zines. Reselling your work makes good business and time management sense – it reduces the energy you expend and increases your revenue. Unless you routinely sell a single article for several thousands of dollars, and even if you do, you should be squeezing every dollar out of every single piece you write.

Wring maximum value out of your work by creating magazine articles, short e-books, audiotapes, videotapes, magazine excerpts, foreign language editions and more.



To learn more about professional book marketing and publishing, please read also our e-books:

Is Your Book-Marketing Up-to-Date?


Not only authors, but everyone who wants to build a platform and brand in order to sell something needs to update their marketing efforts.  Knowing the new trends as an author will help you to change and succeed in presenting yourself and market your writing to your audience.  
Bringing value and spiking interest in your books is the key to gain readers. Here are a couple of examples how you can deliver value, but they are just the basics:
Content is King!

Great content will compensate for the “Facebook problems”:  the decline of Facebook organic reach, where the number of news feeds from (publishing and other business) users and the way books and authors can be seen in users news feeds, has tremendously decreased – which forced account owners to change their marketing strategy on Facebook.
Write short, 300 word articles for your Facebook book & publishing pages (NOT your personal ones) instead of book “ads”.  And write more articles for magazines, newspapers and blogs!  Get your name out…


Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is Depending on Content Marketing.
No more SEO tactics and tricks anymore – which will also improve the search experience of Google users.  One of the many contributors to a high ranking on Google is how many websites link back to your site.

What it means for author-publishers:
They can get SEO through blogging, e-books, and resource guides, in order to fully take on content marketing.  Way more important: write more on Google+, which can be up to 500 words.


Sharing / Follow Buttons are Imperative!
Get a higher chance of increasing the amount of visitors and also increase reader engagement. In an earlier blog  we wrote about the necessity of sharing plug-ins and explained that these sharing buttons can mean up to seven times more visitors.  Blog-Share-Icons-Top-Side Features such as social sharing buttons and social login can do just that.  Make sure you have all the social media follow buttons (where you can be found), and the sharing buttons for all Social Media on the market.


Tweets Need to Be Optimized for Twitter’s Search Engine.
Similar to GooglePlus, the inclusion of the right keywords in tweets will allow you be more visible in search queries.  Using the right hashtags, links, and images will set you up to be more optimized for Twitter searches.   Twitter is allowing people to search through every tweet, ever published.  Make sure you have at least 2-3 hashtags on each tweet you post.


Target Audience: Very Important.
Authors who do nothing but sell, sell, sell, will get ignored, dismissed and overlooked by followers and readers.  Yes, the internet offers marketers the opportunity to have a very large audience.  But you need to choose and pick your target audience: book lovers, readers, book reviewers etc. and really interact with them. It also means dedicating more time to answer reader questions and provide more value online.
Choose your following carefully and understand the meaning of Social Media – being SOCIAL and NOT constantly talking only about your book!

Data Driven Marketing Will Be Essential.
Trade Publishers and Online Retailers have the potential to capture massive amounts of data related to sales, personal customer information, purchase history, search activity and many more.  Data that has proven to be very valuable for them.  Authors on the other hand rarely know who their readers are when selling through online channels only.

What it means for author-publishers:
Diversify, diversify, diversify!  Don’t sell through online retailers only. Use your website or blog to sell your books and get your customers data.  There are dozens of ready-to-go online stores available, called “e-commerce” which can be installed in your existing website or blog – relatively easy and quick.  The benefit: Much higher revenues, faster payments and most important: you know who are your readers.
Get in touch with your readers: Install a sign-up-form on your website and contact potential readers directly through email newsletters.  Offer value and get your future (or present) readers to know.  Don’t give your readers data to online retailers for free!  Get the data yourself.  There are many more tips for getting to know your readers, for example in this blog article.


Blogs and Websites Must be Mobile Friendly.
Alone in 2015 visitors to online presences were growing to over 50% of all users worldwide.  Think also about the growth of wearable tech, which is another reason why your website should be mobile-friendly.  So, it’s a no-brainer that your blog or business’ website needs to be improved.  Read my former blog on this topic: 5 Tips How to Create Mobile-Friendly Blogs and Websites via providing of:

  • Quick Access,
  • Short Landing Pages
  • A “No-Zoom Page”
  • Providing Value for Readers
  • Simple Forms

What it means for author-publishers:
Make sure your blog or website is optimized for mobile.  And if that sounds to “nerdy” get an affordable freelancer on or Fiverr. com who can do it for you.

The need to stay on top of these growing trends will be a priority for all authors in order to make sure their efforts will help to establish their brand, using digital platforms. Valuable tips we provided here on this blog in the last three years will help you to become even stronger in the future.




How to Identify a Reputable Publisher


Here are some basic guidelines to consider when searching and identifying a reputable publisher – independent or trade – and what some might describe as the “Big Five”.  But first a word of caution if you seek a publisher:

1. Don’t expect that trade publishers actively market your book – unless you are a celebrity.
2. YOU will need to proof them your author platform / potential readers.
3. Print books have only a couple of weeks to fly off the shelves in bookstores – or they become remainders.  Books that are not selling well in the first weeks will be returned to the publisher.

Where Can You Find Traditional Publishers?
Here are some examples of publisher listings:

Writer’s Market
For over 10 years, has been providing up-to-date listings and tools to help writers like you accomplish your writing goals. Over 9,000 listings for book publishers, literary agents, magazines, online publications, contests etc.

Publishers Global
A directory of global publishers, where you can sort by country, genre, language, city etc.  Browse through thousands of international service providers: editors, cover designers, printers, distributors, agents, publishers etc.

Publishers Weekly
Check out the yearly listing of the largest publishers.


… and certainly your local bookstore and library where you can find their books sorted by genre / category.  Booksellers or librarians will often know the names of many publishers, even small niche ones, mid-size houses, independent publishers, university presses etc.
Reputable trade and independent publishers don’t advertise for authors in newspapers and writing magazines.  Real Publishers are swamped with submissions.  They don’t need to look for authors!

Steps to Getting a Book Published:
Writing is an art – publishing is a business.  The first thing you need in every business is a plan, mapping out where you want to go and how to get there.

  • Determine your genre or category of work.
  • Calculate the commercial potential of your book.
  • Research appropriate agents or publishers for your manuscript.
  • Read submission guidelines of agents / publishers.
  • Submit a professional staged pitch to agents or publishers.

AVOID any publisher advertising for new authors
in newspapers, magazines and online.

Reputable trade and independent publishers don’t ask the author for money, ever, for any part of the publishing or marketing process.  A good publisher’s website is full of books and is aimed directly at the reading community – not to authors.  However, don’t always expect an advance (or a large one) on royalties from a small or niche publisher.  The size of advances is reducing quickly and some small publishers cannot afford anything more than a few hundred dollars in an advance.

Reputable trade and independent publishers
sell books 
– not author services. 

Unfortunately, more and more trade and independent publishers are developing imprints, and are offering publishing services.  Be very cautious of the motivations of editors or agents from publishers who refer your rejected manuscript to a paid-service imprint (of a well-known publisher or their affiliated self-publishing service.  You might be wondering why your book is not good enough to be accepted by the publisher, but still good enough to be published – at your own expense by an imprint or business affiliate the publisher owns or receives a commission.

How to Submit to a Publisher:
It’s difficult to directly submit to reputable publishers in the USA and internationally.  Some literary agents have insider contacts with specific editors and know better than writers what editor or publisher would be most likely to buy a particular work.  However it is somewhat easier in Canada to submit without an agent.  Publishers that accept unsolicited pitches, almost always require a letter of enquiry detailing a brief synopsis of your book for consideration.  Never send your whole manuscript to a publisher, open to direct submission, and be suspicious of the ones who are welcoming full submissions.  Here are 9 tips on how to write a query letter
and here is how to avoid errors when submitting.

Reputable publishers often have specific open and closed times each year for submissions due to the volume received.  Adhere to these guidelines and always study a publisher’s list before your submission.
Be wary of publishers you have never heard of – unless it is a large publisher listed in an official handbook – accepting anything and everything in all genres, especially poetry and short stories.  Most publishers, even independent ones, have specific imprints for various genres.

The “Other” Side.
Mike Shatzkin wrote in an article about the “indictment of the big publishers” that bestselling author Barry Eisler listed during a session at the Digital Book World 2015:

1. Trade publisher’s basic contract terms are all the same, which it felt at the time he was suggesting demonstrated collusion, but which in our subsequent exchange he clarified he interprets as evidence of “asymmetrical market power and a lack of meaningful competition”;

2. They pay too low royalties on ebooks, which he also attributes to their “asymmetrical power” and “an implicit recognition that publishers come out ahead if they don’t compete on digital royalties”;

3. They only pay royalties twice a year, rather than more frequently or more promptly, which Eisler also attributes to a lack of competition;

4. The term of big publisher contracts is normally “life of copyright”, which Eisler calls “forever terms”, and;

5. They reject a lot of authors. Here Eisler clarifies that this is not an “indictment, just an axiom”. I agree when he applauds self-publishing for creating a better world where “readers have more to choose from”.

Conclusion:  If an author has all these challenges, including  often unfair publishing contracts and waiting times, low royalties – and cannot even do the necessary marketing without huge problems, what is the point in having a publisher?  Why not author-publish, and be totally independent when it comes to your books’ design and marketing?


Real Publishing vs Vanity (Subsidy) Publishing


Ever since trade publishers entered a lucrative side business: to milk the writers that they once ignored:  Lines became increasingly blurry… between trade publishing, also called legacy publishing, and vanity “publishing”, now often referred to as subsidy publishing.  A famous example is the once reputable Penguin Publishing, one of the “Big Five” who bought (and in the meantime sold) the notorious AuthorSolutions.  However Penguin is still in the vanity publishing business involved.

One Thing is for Sure…
Every writer, no matter if they author-publish (self-publish) or if they have sold their manuscript to a publisher, has to do their own marketing.  But how can you promote your book, if you are at the mercy of a publisher – trade or vanity?  What if you don’t own the ISBN and if you have no access to the retailers’ publishing / author pages, such as Amazon, B&N or Apple?

We had clients who’s publishers were not able to properly set up the Amazon page, did not choose the proper category, took weeks to make changes to a wrong price and months to add the images and text the author had provided for their Goodreads or Amazon page.

This is a huge problem (among many others) that authors face after they have given away their work for a pittance – or worse, have paid thousands of dollars to a vanity publisher.   So, what’s the difference between both, beside the fact that they make it difficult for their authors to market their books?


Author needs to have a platform
Trade publishers accept very few submissions (average: 4%)
Authors might have to pitch dozens or hundreds of puplishers / agents
Authors receive a small advance and even smaller royalties
They do not use POD (single or few books), rather print large quantities
Authors have barely any say to cover image, publishing date etc.
Authors cannot decide the sales price, e-book prices are often un-competitive
It takes very long until the book is published (12-18 months average)
Publisher pays for printing, editing services and cover image
Distribution services are covered by the publisher
Professional marketing services available – but only for celebrity writers
They own the ISBN for the book

Author needs to have a platform
Accepts almost ALL submissions
Author never receives any advance in this “partnership
Author contracts are often worse than those of trade publishers
Author pays for printing or ebook-formatting, editing services, cover image
Authors have barely any say to cover image, publishing date etc.
Authors cannot decide the sales price
Mostly Quick turnaround and Print on Demand (POD)
Barely any distribution services, compared to commercial publishers
Vanity publishers don’t live from book sales, they live from printing/author services
No professional marketing services
Very few royalties – if any at all
They own the ISBN for the book
Your book has only 3 months time in bookstores to sell – before being discarded!
Bookstores generally are wary of vanity books (except maybe local writers)

Authors needs to have a platform in order to build a brand
Needs to learn about the publishing / book distribution industry
Needs to plan the publishing / marketing process
Authors have to find / compare author services (POD, distribution, formatter, designer)
Authors pays for printing or ebook-formatting, editing services, cover image
Authors can decide everything: cover image, publishing date, retail price etc.
Authors can do their own or hire marketing services
Authors get up to 70% from the books retail price (or 100% if sold from own website)
Authors own their ISBN – which is FREE in Canada! and low-cost in other countrie
Bookstores generally are wary of author-published books (except maybe local writers)

If an author has all these challenges, waiting times (or costs to cover, in the worst scenario) – and cannot even do the necessary marketing without huge problems, what is the point in having or even paying a publisher?  Why not author-publish / self-publish in the first place, and be totally independent when it comes to your marketing?
Whatever you will decide, take your time, don’t rush in anything and don’t let you sell any services, before you have thoroughly evaluated them. It does not matter if your book launches a month or a year later – important is that you have a platform as a writer and that you find a way of publishing that suits you and that gives you the freedom of your own decisions.
If you decide to go with a publisher, don’t forget: Real publishers sell to readers – vanity publishers sell to writers!


2 Exciting New Amazon Features




It looks like Amazon will compete with Google’s YouTube Video platform and Udemy – an online education marketplace with over 7 million students enrolled in more than 30000 courses,taught by 19000 instructors.
Amazon’s other new feature on Goodreads, the eBook-Giveaway function is also a competition to LibraryThing.

FINALLY: eBook-Giveaways on Goodreads in the US!
Goodreads, an Amazon company, has established a giveaway program for Kindle ebooks, currently in beta version, and initially only be available in the US.  All authors or publishers can now offer Kindle ebook giveaways and choose how long it will run.  Goodreads will choose winners randomly and automatically send the Kindle e-books to the winners device.

During the beta period, Goodreads will work with Amazon Publishing to host Kindle ebook giveaways.  Once the program is out of beta, it will be open to any author or publisher who sells e-books on Amazon.

The downside?  The cost of listing a Kindle ebook giveaway on Goodreads will be $119 for up to the 100 e-book giveaway limit – however you save the costs of print books and shipping fees. LibraryThing e-book giveaways are free, but authors and publishers don’t have the same huge amount of potential readers as Amazon has.  Listing a print book giveaway on Goodreads will continue to be free.

Amazon Video Direct
Jeff Bezos started “Amazon Video Direct“, a platform, comparable to Kindle Direct Publishing and offers Videos producers a direct way to millions of Amazon-Video customers.  The new Video Direct service will be open to anyone.

The WallStreet Journal wrote: “Amazon account holders can upload original or their own licensed videos to the Video Direct service, the Seattle-based online retailer said. Such users can designate whether their videos are free to everyone, available to rent or own, offered through a subscription channel, or behind Amazon’s $99-a-year Prime paywall.  With Video Direct, Amazon says it is targeting “creators and storytellers,” giving it a cheaper way to stock up on professionally made video other than purchasing licensed content.”
“Amazon said it would keep 45% of revenue it takes in from ads appearing during free broadcasts, which matches YouTube’s arrangement. It will keep 50% of revenue from channel subscriptions and video purchases or rentals. For ad-free Prime videos, the company will pay content holders 15 cents for each hour of streamed content in the U.S. and six cents overseas.”

Not Geared Towards the Average Joe who Wants to Upload a Cat Video.
“For most publishers, the need is for ad revenue to be associated with video content, not to charge for video (though a few publishers are certainly moving in this direction). Hell, it seems everyone wants to take advantage of publisher’s content and profit from it. The problem, of course, is publishers rarely make much in return. So, like its eBook programs, Amazon is not cutting its take, but instead throwing money into a pot to be shared by participants: Amazon will distribute a share of $1,000,000 per month as a bonus to the Top 100 titles included with Prime through Amazon Video Direct” writes TalkingNewMedia.

Initially, videos will be viewable in the US, Germany, Austria, Japan and the UK.  Amazon: “We’re excited to make it even easier for content creators to find an audience, and for that audience to find great content.”


All About Google+ for Writers

More than 625,000 People join Google+ EVERY DAY, according to Digital Buzz and Huffington Post statistics.  Before I even joined Twitter, GooglePlus (Google+) was my first Social Media network of choice.  I loved the beautiful images and videos that appeared on my timeline.  And I am stealing a couple of minutes every day to scroll down and share, or at least place a “plus sign”, on interesting posts.
#1 Social Media for Professionals:
Participating on Google+ – also written GooglePlus – gives you an advantage at search engine results: your posts are automatically included in Google’s Search Engine.  What better then to combine social media networking and at the same time your visibility on the Internet!  Google+ has now the title of being the world’s second largest social network.  It’s a no-brainer to use the many benefits for authors and publishers.  And don’t forget the thousands of Google+ communities where you can place your post directly to your favorite audience.  Here are five tips how to improve your success with Google+.
How to Start With GooglePlus.
Get tips how to sign up and start your Google+ account, how to find your followers, how to post, connect your Google+ with your Twitter account and most important: join Google+ communities.
Your first step is to open a Gmail (email) account, if you don’t have one already.  Once this is done you can sign up at Google+.  Watch this YouTube video how to do it.
How to Build Your Google+ Profile.
On the top navigation of your page, there is an icon, marked “Profile,” which should appear once you roll your mouse over it.  From there, you can start building your Google Plus profile.  Just like Facebook, Google Plus gives you a main profile photo that acts as your thumbnail when you post text and images or when you engage with other people.  Fill out the “tagline” section, and it will show up underneath your name on your profile.  Try writing something that sums up your personality, work or hobbies in one short sentence, using important keywords convincing people to follow you.
Your Bio / Introduction:
Here, you can write a short or a long note about whatever you want. Most people include a friendly welcome message, or a summary of what they do and what activities they enjoy doing the most.  These points are totally voluntarily:

  • Bragging rights: You can write a short sentence here about some accomplishment you are proud to share with your circles.
  • Occupation: In this section, list your current employment position, if you want, or just author.
  • Places lived: List the cities and countries in which you have lived. This will be displayed on a small Google map for people to see when they visit your profile.
  • Other profiles & recommended links: In the sidebar of your “About” page, you can list other social media profiles such as your Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter profiles.  You can also list any links you want, such as a personal website or a blog you enjoy reading.

Finding People and Adding Them to Your Google+ Circles.
To invite people to your circles (up to 5,000), or to find somebody on Google Plus, simply use the search bar at the top to search for their name.  If you find them in your search, press the “Add to circles” button in order to add them to whichever circle or circles you want (max. 50 per day).  For authors the best search phrases to find followers are: readers, reviewers, book bloggers, book worms, book lovers, avid readers etc.
Sharing Content on Google+.
Under the “Home” tab, there is a small input area you can use to post stories to your profile, which will show up in the streams of people who have added you to their own circles.  You can choose your Google posts to be view-able by the public (by everyone on Google Plus, even those outside your circles), by specific circles, by one or more people.  Place up to 500 words of content, including links and add attractive or funny images.  Don’t forget to use hashtags, described in this blog post.
Five Tips for Google+ Advanced Users.
Google+ has now the title of being the world’s second largest social network.  It’s a no-brainer to use the many benefits for authors and publishers.  And don’t forget the thousands of Google+ communities where you can place your post directly to your favorite audience.  Here are five tips how to improve your success with GooglePlus.
1. Curate Good Content – Share it!
Most users do not create enough of their own content to be active daily on Google+. By sharing other people’s content, you can effectively engage and inspire your followers. Google’s +1 button is used 5 million times a day, according to stats from Huffington Post.  Sharing other posts and writing a short comment, will also show up on Google’s search engine, and consequently improving your search engine ranking (SEO).
2. Have Lots of Images – Less Links
Google+ is a visual social network. Posts with with a message and an uploaded image or video will get much higher engagement than shared links.
3. Tag Other People’s Posts or Share Them
By adding a “+” symbol in front of page names, your exposure on Google Search engines increases as well as this with readers, bloggers, reviewers and your supporters.  You will find a strong increase of new followers over time too.  Do check regularly your Google+ notifications, found at this little bell symbol on top of your Google+ page.
4. Check Your Google+ Statistics at “Page Insights”.
Want to know when your page was visited most, from which country your visitors came from, or their gender and age?  Google+ Insights will help you to find out what kind of content your followers engage with most, as well as their demographics.  Insights offers you statistical information about how your target customers are engaging with your business on Google.  In order to access this information, your business must have a verified local page.  In an article, Search Engine Journal lists these useful features:

  • New followers on your Google+ page
  • +1 clicks on your posts, the number of re-shares your posts got from your Google+ page
  • The number of comments your post received from your Google + page
  • The number of times people clicked on Maps to get more info about your business location
  • The number of clicks received to get info on driving directions
  • The number of clicks to your website through local search results

5. Connect Your YouTube With Your Google+ Page
Currently in Beta, YouTube just announced the ability to merge your YouTube channel with your Google+ page.  How it works is in detail, even with screenshots, described in an article from
Step 1: Click on your profile photo, go to your YouTube Settings > Advanced.
Step 2: Select “Connect with a Google+ page”.
Step 3: Select your Google+ page.
Step 4: Confirm that you want to merge your channel and your Google+ page.
Step 5: Note the new YouTube tab on your Google+ page.
Step 6: Select “Use YouTube as ….
Step 7: Note the integration of of your Google+ page inside your YouTube channel.
More tips how it works can be found on Google’s help site.

Seven Reasons Why Google+ is Perfect for Writers:
1. Followers can be found much easier and faster than in any other social media network.  One can build “Circles” with hundreds or thousands of followers out of existing groups which are easily identified by keywords.  For example, to create my first circles I have chosen: readers, writers, publishers, photographers, librarians, book reviewers, book lovers etc. and also some “private” circles.  Within days I had 5,000 people in my circles and at that time over 1,500 had already chosen to have me in their circles.  Perfect for a big audience!  Search for useful connections you know from the real world and other social networks to include in your Google+ circles.
2. Everyone can select the audience or the parts of your list that will be receiving your message through your circles and if you want to make it a public message.  On Twitter for sample, messages usually can be seen by all of your followers.  Google+ lets you fine-tune who reads what.  On Google+, you can post one sentence or you
can post an entire article if you like. “Like” or “Share” articles or images that others posted with one single click.
3. SEO – Search Engine Optimization: You can submit each of your blog post to your Google+ account.  Google treats the information on its own platforms, aka Google Search Engine, pretty high, which means your SEO-ranking for your website or blog improves dramatically.  Your Google+ profile will always be top ranked on a Google search, so just fill it in and link it to all your other sites
4. Perfect for authors: Create a Google+ Business Account – easy and free.  The Google+ platform allows for every business to act as an individual in many forms. Adding to the depth of their overall platform is the inspiring development of the local options, using the Local Google+ pages.  The interface is simple, you can see everything at one go, and adding or removing a page from a circle doesn’t require you to dig deep into the system.
5. Easy to upload images, lots of them, and video allow authors to post cover photos of their books, book descriptions, author’s bio, their book trailer and a link to Amazon or other booksales pages.  Post free book images or photos to illustrate your books’ content – if you want, several times a day – and if you have enough followers in your circle, to not bore them with your book announcements.  By consistently posting on the same topics and growing your Google+ followers, you help Google drive even more customers to your site.
6. Use “Google Talk” or chat with friends, customers and readers.  In your left sidebar, you have an option to connect with people in through chat.  It’s similar to the same chat feature in Gmail, also known as Google Talk, where the indicators will show you if someone is online and if they are available for a text chat (a green dot) or a video chat (a green video camera).   When you click on their name, a little chat window will pop up at the bottom right side of your screen so you can start chatting.
7. Google is attaching author information to Google search results.  Thanks to this new author information service from Google, it will be easier for people to identify the initial or original source of a blog post or article.  Google is verifying that the blog post was written by this person.  Link from your blog (or your website), to your Google Profile and then, you link from your Google Profile back to your blog.

Connect your Google+ and Twitter Accounts!
Using “Manage Flitter“, you can save lots of time, and have your posts (at least the first 140 letters including a link) transferred to Twitter.  Here is how to set it up:
There are many free services that do this, one of the best sites to do this is ManageFlitter.  Start with opening your Google+ account and go to your profile.  The URL should be followed by a long number, then /posts.  This is your unique profile URL.
Select and copy it.

  • Go to the ManageFlitter home page and click “Start.”
  • Click “Connect to Twitter”
  • Select the “Dashboard” tab, then click “Turn on/off Google+ sharing”
  • Paste in your Google+ profile URL you just copied
    and then click “Start Sharing.”

From now on, everything you post on Google+ will be tweeted on Twitter, with a link back to the Google+ post.  Congratulation! You made it!

Fantastic Feature: Google+ Communities.
More vital than knowing when and where to network with your readers or peers or to post your blogs, is finding like-minded groups of people, such as Google+ reader and blogger communities.  There you can reach new people who are likely interested in what you are writing or blogging about.  Posts within a community are indexed by Google and will be found in organic search results – which means higher ranking for you on Google’s search engines!
Start Conversations and Share Relevant Content.
Google+ Communities are for users who are more interested in vibrant conversations around topics than they are about self-promotion.  Quality community members are those who share relevant content that sparks conversation or debate, and who participate in conversations by leaving comments and +1’ing posts.  Users whose intentions are to spam the community will most likely be removed by a moderator, so be careful how you approach your communities.
Avoid Too Much Promotion in Google+ Communities.
When you join a community, you can find people who are interested in the same topics you are.  Depending on the type of community, you may have to wait for approval before becoming a member.  Google+ Communities are for users who are more interested in vibrant conversations around topics than they are about self-promotion.  Quality community members are those who share relevant content that sparks conversation or debate, and who participate in conversations by leaving comments and +1’s.  Users whose intentions are to promote themselves or spam the community will most likely be removed by a moderator, so be careful how you approach your communities..
How to Join a Google+ Community Step by Step.

  • Go to the left side of your Google+ page with your cursor
  • click on communities
  • search or type in e.g. “books” or “blogging” and click the magnifying glass symbol – almost 60! communities are showing up, sorted by membership size
  • choose for example “Promote Your Book” with over 2,799 members and thousands of posts
  • click on their image and see lots of posts
  • on top you will see “Join this community to post or comment”
    we are polite and click “Join community”
  • then we introduce ourselves and greet the owner of the community

– everyone in the community can read / answer to your post (also not your timeline)
– at most communities you can also choose if you want notifications to your email
– on the left hand side you will find another search function where you can search this community
– you can also see who is a member of your community and follow them
Start Your Own Google+ Community.
When you own or moderate a Google+ community, you can create categories to organize discussions, remove offensive content, highlight great posts, add moderators to help you keep the conversation going, invite members, or edit your community.  You can invite people to join your community – up to 500 people at a time.  Having more people usually increases the number of posts in your community, and encourages others to use it.

Tip: Anyone can share a community by clicking the “Share this community” button. When you click it, you’ll create a Google+ post that links to the community’s page.  But it won’t create an actual invitation for people to accept or decline.  Learn more at Google+ Support.

Google+ Benefits.
For me personally the best reason to be on Google+ (beside the fun scrolling and reading through the timeline) is that Google Plus influences search rankings – a lot!!!
What is Your reason to be on GooglePlus?


Who is the Publisher? Check the ISBN!


Have you been wondering about the numerous news stories about “declining e-book sales” during the last couple of months?  Well only those who have an ISBN, and only those from certain book stores, online retailers and large trade publishers are counted.

30% of all e-books being purchased in the United States do not use ISBN numbers and are invisible to the industry’s official market surveys and reports.  Which also means: all the ISBN-based estimates of market share reported by Bowker, AAP, BISG, and Nielsen are wildly wrong.  Unfortunately ISBN’s are pricy in the States and too many authors are jumping on free or low-cost offers by publishing service companies – with negative impacts for authors

Bestseller Author M.A.Demers Explains:
“An ISBN clearly identifies an e-book as a book, no different from a print book.  No ISBN leaves the door open to classify the good as a digital good and not a book.  Since e-book retailers such as Amazon sell a multitude of items in addition to e-books, only an ISBN “proves” the good sold is an e-book.  This explains for example why Italy, who are already facing prosecution for lowering the rate of VAT on e-books, will only do so if the e-book bears an ISBN.”

A Book – or Not a Book in Italy?
Writing about changes in sales tax (VAT) in the EU, Amazon recently explained in their email that Italy has implemented new legislation that charges a higher rate of VAT on e-books that do not have an ISBN.
e-Books that do not contain an ISBN are charged 22% VAT, while e-books with an ISBN are charged a rate of only 4%.  One might argue: I don’t care about the Italian book market, but other countries might follow this example if the EU cannot reach an agreement to consider each book – no matter in which format it is sold – is a book!

Who is the Publisher?  The One Who Owns the ISBN!
You may encounter offers from other sources to purchase single ISBNs at special offer prices. Companies that provide limited services such as distributing, retailing, barcode services, printing, and/or marketing should NOT assign ISBN’s from their company to your publications – unless you allow them to also hold the publishing rights for your books.  If you use one of these re-assigned ISBN’s, you will not be correctly identified as the publisher of record in “Books in Print” or many of the book industry databases.
If you Want to Appear as a Professional Author-Publisher:
An ISBN helps to cement your publisher brand and makes it easier for the bookstores and libraries to carry your book or e-book.  Each version of your book  – e-book, paperback, hardcover, or audio-book – needs a unique ISBN.  So be smart and order a block of ten.  And list your book worldwide with Bowker to be in all databases of libraries and bookstores around the globe.

Read All About ISBN here:



Do Authors Need a Media Kit?


Short Answer: YES.  Being discoverable, approachable, and professional will help you draw more attention to your book and yourself.  Generating publicity for your books using a press kit / media kit is essential, even if it’s only one page.  You will be much more attractive as an interviewee, event participant or having your book reviewed when your press kit can be downloaded by anyone who takes an interest.
A media kit, or a press kit for authors is a kind of portfolio for their books and themselves as writers – distributed to members of the media for promotional use and to get reviews or interviews. They can also be used to prepare news conferences, blog tours, marketing campaigns, and more. Press kits are often sent out together with ARC’s (advanced review copies) several months before the book’s launch.
Great Marketing Tool.
The goal of the press kit is the same as of all other marketing tools: It should grab the reader’s attention, and provide the recipient with information and images in a variety of sizes and formats.  It needs to answer questions clearly and are presented professionally.  First of all: Add a Press or Media page to your website and create a link to easily download your documents – set up as a PDF or ZIP file.

Publishing guru Porter Anderson explained for whom your press kit is useful too:

  • Conference organizers who are considering inviting you to speak, or—having invited you already—are looking for a fast bio and headshot of you for their programs;
  • Book bloggers who have come across some of your work and want to write about it; and
  • Readers who want to know more about authors they like and share that information about them with friends.

Basic Content of a Media Kit:


  • Your press release, the same one you write for the book’s launch
  • Your Author bio, including previous publications and qualifications to write the book
  • Your author’s platform and social media information
  • Author photo, in high-resolution for print and low-resolution for digital use
  • Images of your books (high- and low resolution)

You might also add:

  • Sample Interview questions
  • Photos that can be used in a story about the book or its subject
  • A sample book review or testimonials from early readers with authority or celebrity
  • Reprints of reviews about the book
  • Book Awards you received in the past
  • Background info: If you have masters in literature and you are writing a book, mention it too.
  • Media appearances (such as radio, television, speeches etc.) will be relevant to both professionals and fans.
  • Include a synopsis of your book, a query / blurb, and two or three sample chapters.
  • Your press kit can also include audio and video files of radio or TV interviews, speeches, podcasts, performances and any other media-covered event.

More Tips on How to Create a Media Kit.

If you are providing an email address, use a link and encode it, so you don’t attract a lot of spam. Don’t forget to show links to your social media profiles, including Google+, Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook, etc.
Westbow Press advices in an article: “News directors and editors get many, many press kits a day; and they may only give a few seconds of attention to each one. They don’t have time to read long, flowery sentences or irrelevant facts. Press kits need to be short, sweet and to-the-point. Tailor your press release to what the news directors at specific organizations would be most interested in hearing.”
“To better your chances at media spotlight, be a perfectionist with grammar and spelling. One grammar mistake or typo can make a news editor send your press release to the trash can in an instant.”
Check out these author websites and their media kits:
Carla Phillips, Stephen King, Aliette de Bodard, or Andy Andrews.



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