Want Your Novel in Bookstores?

Imagine to walk into a local Barnes & Noble and find your own book displayed on the shelves…


Before you approach bookstores, make sure your book will pass muster with a book buyer.  The Independent Book Publishers Association has published an Industry Standards Checklist for Professionally Published Books.  If you want bookstores to carry your book, please make sure you can check every single box on this list before you bring a copy into their store and ask them to carry it.

In March 2017, IBPA’s Advocacy Committee published an Industry Standards Checklist for a Professionally Published Book.  The purpose of the checklist is to give book authors and industry professionals an at-a-glance gauge of the professional presentation of any book in order to help level the playing field between indie publishers and large-scale conglomerates.

How IBPA Helps Authors:
“Too often, IBPA has noticed a bias against self-published authors, independent publishers, and hybrid presses when it comes to choosing titles or authors for review consideration, book award contests, association memberships, and inclusion on independent bookstore shelves,” said IBPA CEO Angela Bole.
Excerpt From the Industry Checklist for a Professionally Published Book

Reference the October 2016 issue of IBPA Independent magazine for examples of great design. If you no longer have your copy, email the IBPA office at to request a new copy for $4.95 per issue.

Win by Design

3 Challenging Covers

Sample 1: General Cover

Sample 2.1: General Cover

Sample 1: Advance Reader Copy Cover

Sample 2: Advance Reader Copy Cover


The following interior design spreads are linked with permission of the publisher.

Sample 1: Interior Spread

Sample 2: Interior Spread

The title page is often the very first page of the book (if you don’t include a half-title page).

Sample 1: Light Messages Publishing

Sample 2: Light Messages Publishing
Copyright pages vary, but all contain the same general information.  Below are copyright page examples linked with permission of the publisher.

Sample 1: She Writes Press

Sample 2: Independent Book Publishers Association

“IBPA’s Industry Checklist for a Professionally Published Book will help industry professionals and independent publishers and authors bridge this gap by offering a structured means.  It will ensure that books be judged on merit and quality rather than on the business model used to produce them or the size of the publisher.”

Why is Critical Thinking Important for Writers?


When I studied Investigative Journalism in college, it was a basic requirement.  For journalists in general, the WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, WHY and HOW are the tools of the trade.
But everyone, especially writers, should use these question words all the time: when researching background information for a book, when questioning and editing their novels or non-fiction books, when participating in a writer’s critique group and most important: when looking for publishing possibilities.

Global Digital Citizen Foundation 
Luckily I found this organization that set up the ultimate cheat sheet for critical thinking – showing a fantastic list of critical questions.  I get so many emails from authors, who are approached in emails or social media from businesses of all sorts – including the dreaded Vanity companies, trying to steal their publishing rights or trying to fleece them in any other way.  Now I will not answer anymore in lengthy emails with lists of tips, rather send the GlobalDigitalCitizen organization’s graphic (above).

Questions to Ask:
Before you spend any money or time on people, businesses, organizations, try to answer these questions:
WHO benefits from this the most? WHO would be the best person to consult?
WHAT is an alternative? WHAT is the best /worst outcome?
WHERE can I get more information? WHERE are areas of improvement?
WHEN and HOW will I know I have succeeded? HOW can I measure success
WHY is this a problem? WHY is there a real need for this today?
HOW is this similar to …? HOW does it really benefit me / others?
HOW can this harm me or others?

The Internet Helps a Lot!
If you see offers to publish your book, to help you with author platform (I am not talking about advertising!) or offers a new phone plan for example – don’t jump on the offer and sign up or pay.  Your first step needs to be to research the offer, the person or the corporation. Many companies are very good to swamp the internet with dozens of websites/blog.  They use bots to inflate views and to get on page one at Google.  Scroll down to page 10 or 20 to find other websites that report on them. Use the keyword: “complaint”.  Go to the Better Business Bureau (BBB) site, or to the Ripoff-Report.  Add the word “forum” to the name of the company, and find all the forums where people talk about it.  You might be in for a surprise!

Make a long list of questions, and watch if and how they answer your questions as a potential customer.  Get it in writing, don’t trust any call center employees (who might be on commission).

What Can Critical Thinking Help You With?

  • Determine the importance and relevance of arguments and ideas
  • Recognize, build and appraise arguments
  • Identify inconsistencies and errors in reasoning
  • Approach problems in a consistent and systematic way

How Critical Thinking Will Help You
… to stay out of trouble – in business and private life. It will save you not only time but also money and happiness. Children are often better than adults in this aspect. Don’t be annoyed when children frequently ask “why”.  Applaud them rather for asking questions.  Critical thinking is often misjudged as criticism, but rather it focuses on the ability to follow logical steps.  Critical thinking is an incredibly important skill. Critical thinkers rigorously question ideas and assumptions rather than accepting them at face value.

Read more:


Want to be Recognized as a Writer?


10,000 hours – 5 years – 5 books published – that’s the minimum a professional author needs – PLUS being educated in the the publishing business, so that predators cannot take advantage of you.

Artists Train For Years Every Day – for Hours and Hours…
Professions need to be trained!  It takes years to become an excellent musician, dancer, singer, painter and writer – and it also takes years to become an excellent publisher.  And it involves lots of skills and knowledge business-wise, marketing skills, not to mention, learning constantly new internet techniques and get to know the latest changes in publishing.

It Takes Time…
Many authors have unrealistic expectations when it comes to the time required for effective book promotion and to make meaningful connections with readers.  They expect wonders from a single sales campaign, and don’t understand that under-pricing or “selling” for free is not a marketing strategy.  And distribution and marketing are also two different things.  There is a tremendous amount of time-consuming work that goes into getting a book ready for publication and release.

… To Research Your Competition.
First of all make a list with possible keywords that readers might use to find a similar book. Check out the complete categories / genres at Amazon,Kobo, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Google Books, Waterstone’s etc. and study all the books, that could be similar to your future work. Visit several public libraries and book stores to find similar books, similar to the one you want to write.  Learn about your competition! Borrow 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 and learn from the faults of others – not your own!

Steady Wins the Race!
Becoming an author-publisher is a long-term commitment and requires hundreds of small steps on the path to success!  Before you start writing, create yourself a road map.  Take your time, see your writing & publishing as a long-term project and don’t have unrealistic expectations.  The most successful self-publishers don’t view themselves as writers only, but as business owners.  They invest in their businesses, hiring experts to fill skill gaps and to gain more time for writing.  First create a professional looking book, do the groundwork to build up your author platform, and then have fun, winning one reader at a time.


Why Trade Publishers Become Absolute


International Bestselling Author, Speaker, Creator of The Bestseller Academy, Kallen Diggs recently listed all the reasons why traditional publishing is becoming dinosauric in his fabulous article The Inevitable Death of Traditional Book Publishers and in detail at his blog: 
Reaching the Finish Line.

Trade Publishers: Why Enter the Vanity Publishing Sector?
The first reason might be to “eliminate the competition” and to control self-publishing authors – and secondly to make lots of money out of them, however not with book sales, but rather with production and “marketing” fees.  Publishers don’t have to pay advances anymore, and the book productions costs are fully, even over-paid, by the author.  If there are any book sales, the publisher cashes in again.

During the last five years many of these “Big Five” Trade Publishers were opening dozens of Vanity Publishing Imprints, offering wannabe “published” authors low royalties and grabbing the author’s publishing rights.  They are sticking out the carrot for writers to be “published” by any of the Big Five – famously Penguin, who used notorious’ Author Solution’s imprints.  But at the end of the day, these trade publishers are one more company to take advantage of author’s property rights even though they are mostly not exercising the film, TV (“book-to-screen” services) or foreign rights.  “Just in case” a book is discovered by Hollywood, so they can cash in again …

If Authors Signed up With:
AuthorHouse, Xlibris, iUniverse,Trafford Publishing, Palibrio, and Booktango, they fell into the trap of Author Solutions, once owned by Penguin and in the meantime sold. According to Wikipedia: “AuthorSolutions also maintains partnerships with traditional book publishers Simon & Schuster (Archway Publishing), Thomas Nelson (WestBow Press), Hay House (Balboa Press), Guideposts (Inspiring Voices); as well as with Writer’s Digest (Abbott Press).

Authors hoping to self-publish were misled by the “self-publishing” companies, offering a range of services and charging large sums of money to publish those new books.
Self publishing is the business of charging authors to have their books published.  Author Solutions and its subsidiaries are some of the biggest, and Author Solutions’ growth during this time reflected this trend” … which is now somewhat down I might add, thanks to the bad press they received over the last couple of years.

But that’s not all: Harper Collins also entered the author-exploding “business” with their imprint Harper Legend, and Hachette banded with Perseus, which owns ten imprints alone.  So, there is no shortage on traps for writers who want to be “published”.
The term “self-publishing company” is an oxymoron anyway: Either someone self-publishes independently or not.  Read also a former blog post we wrote: How to Identify a Reputable Publisher.
Desperate Trade Publishers?
Is the publishing industry so desperate that they need to set up self-publish imprints?  “Major publishers are going to have to compete with the 70 percent earnings offered by Amazon’s KDP, margins are going to get squeezed and they will have to compete with indies on price, which means getting squeezed on the price side too.  As middlemen, their role is not only going to get smaller as self-published authors bypass them—their profit margins are going to shrink as readers and authors demand better prices and pay” explains bestelling author Hugh Howey in an interview.
More Confidence Please!
And for authors: why do they think they wouldn’t be able to produce and market their own books?  Finding an editor, formatter / lay outer and cover designer is really easy – and compared to the fees of “self-publishing” companies – it will cost much less.  The biggest advantage to go “totally indie” are the much higher earnings (often eight to ten times more), and that authors are independent and true SELF-PUBLISHERS.
Credibility for and the quality of self-published books is raising from year to year.  Maybe one day we look down to trade publishers in disgust… Find a lot of valuable tips for your book production in the next blog article here on SavvyBookWriters.

Kallen Diggs who compared the earnings of self—publishers to those of “published” authors will be an eye-opener.  Take his advice: “Learn the art of sales. After all, that is what ultimately matters in the end. Focus on selling more books.”  And I am adding : “If you love writing that much, sell more books to be able to write full-time.



Secrets of Successful Author-Publishers

Dreaming of becoming a successful writer?  In writing and publishing are certain steps that will help you to tremendously to improve your chances of success.


Start With Maximizing Your Foreign Presence – For FREE.
To maximize your presence in overseas Amazon Kindle stores, set up an Author Central account in each of those country-specific sites where your book is available.  As Amazon divided the world in single countries, announce your Countdown Deals, new book launches or Free Kindle KDP Days in several languages: Order a short translation of 10 tweets in Spanish, French, German etc. for $5 / 200 words for example at Fiverr. Make sure they are done by native speakers of the languages.
The countries with the most usage of e-readers, according due to a survey of Bookboon are USA, UK, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark etc.


Write More Books!
Did you notice that all of your online book sites, be it and Apple’s book sales pages or those on (they show even several slots with books in the same genre), have a listing at the bottom of the screen that says “Customers also bought” or “People who bought this book also bought …” and then it shows all the books of your competition.  They are listed on print sites or e-book sites (or both).

If you write more books, say between three and nine books, and readers like what you do, guess whose books appear in this paragraph?  Yours!  If you only publish one book, then those slots get filled with books, written by other authors.  These book suggestions show that readers who liked not only, but also bought these books.  A great example of a very prolific writers with more than 20 books is Jan Scarbrough.  Just click on one of her books, scroll down and you will see lots of her other books shown under “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought…”


Write More Short Stories.
Authors such as Stephen King, Margaret Atwood, George Saunders, James Joyce, Alice Munro…  They all write or wrote not only books, but short stories.  It might take years until you have written so many books that only yours show up as suggestions at online retailers.  An even better way to promote your writing is to write and sell short stories as e-books.

Unlike book publishers, short story publishers only hold onto exclusive rights to the story for a limited period of time.  After that period of time, either the rights revert to you or they become non-exclusive.  Read more about book contracts and rights in former blog posts.
You license your copyright for a certain period of time.  After that – specified by your publishing contract – you can then put your short story up as an e-book or put it in an e-book collection of your own (or both), without having to remove that story from the place of first publication.
One more reason to never sign a contract for life, or as long as a “book is in print” – with e-books and POD, a book will never go out of print these days.  If you self-publish your short stories you can do whatever you want and don’t need to wait until your publishing contract expires.  Short story markets will allow new readers to sample your work. Readers, you would never ever reach without…

Sampling is the Best Way to Hook a Reader.
Retail businesses known the importance of sampling. Sampling in grocery stores work. I almost always buy these food novelties after I can try them.  Then there are the many samples arriving in the weekly flyers, and personal products, such as shampoo or body lotions get promoted through hotels to their guests.  In the past some publishers would offer the he first chapter of each book in their new book listings, but they only handed these reading samples out at book fairs or to bookstore owners. However, barely anyone read them.  Now, readers can download samples of any book published electronically.  If you like the writing sample, you will most likely buy the book.

Write FREE e-Books.
It doesn’t need to be a full-length novel, just a bit more than a short story.  You certainly can implement all your other book’s sales page links, your Social Media links and even ready-to-click tweets about your book. Readers want to know more and interact with the author who’s book they are buying – not only see ads with the message: Buy my book, buy my book, buy my book … Readers rather want to see samples of your writing before they purchase more of your books.


Make sure that not only your books, blogs and short stories, but also your social media content has substance, and that it adds real value for your audience.  Write interesting blog content, real-time social media engagement, great images and videos, interesting info-graphics to increase visitor loyalty.

The most important trait for a writers is perseverance: content, communication, and commitment.  Having courage, a plan, patience, discipline, faith in yourself, a long-term perspective.  Success will flourish as long as you nurture it.


The Good, the Bad and the Ugly in Publishing


Success of the self-publishing movement during the last ten years attracted lots of vanity/subsidy/self-publishing services.  Even large, once respected trade publishing houses jumped on the bandwagon, founded dozens of imprints and are trying now to monetize their “slush-piles” of once rejected writers via their newly established subsidy services.
Often Difficult for Authors to Determine…
How can authors find out what lures behind a publishing name and enticing advertisements?  Let’s dissect the various ways of publishing – the pro’s and also the con’s.  With proper research and questioning you will be able to navigate your way through the sometimes murky publishing “jungle” for your future books.

Trade Publishers:
Also called legacy publishers, who contract with authors to licence their manuscript in order to get publishing rights for a variety of book forms (print, digital, audio etc.) and other rights, such as movie rights or foreign rights.  Only bestselling books are making them money, so they are very picky in taking on new authors and also in choosing books that are promising commercial success.
They take on the risk for a manuscript and invest into the production and distribution of books, purchase the ISBN, order the cover image and the book layout – and in most cases pay for the editing of the manuscript.  Even so they expect more and more from new authors to deliver a polished and edited manuscript.  And most important they pay royalties and advances on these royalties.
However, marketing for the book is up to the author, who should have a solid platform (website, blog, previous books and articles), memberships in reader circles and lots of followers on social media.  What trade publishers call “marketing” is often just listing in a catalog and distributing of the book.
Vanity Publishers:
Some call themselves subsidy publisher, which is a fancy word for letting the author pay for everything, get all the overhead paid and make a good living. Vanity “publishers” accept pretty much every book.  They are not in the business of selling books, but rather selling services to authors at inflated prices: editing, cover and layout design, and ISBN’s.  Their “marketing” (paid for by the author) is often minuscule and consists of distributing to very few places.  Many bookstores refuse to carry books by vanity firms.  A vanity “publisher” in Canada for example refuses to place print books on Amazon, others don’t produce e-books altogether, and most sell the books totally over-priced.  The author has to pay for the printing of the huge amount of books, but it might be that the vanity firms are using POD (print on demand) – as authors are not invited to visit the warehouse to see the stocked books. Others have contracts that bind the author (or their heirs) for 70 years – not worldwide, but in the whole universe… Subsidy publishing means: the author takes all the risk and then pays the producer of the books in order to say “I am a published author”.
Self-Publishing Services:
These are companies who are offering authors production of their ebooks, print and audio-books.  Authors are paying certainly higher prices and must be very vigilant not to give away their self-publishing status, and to buy their own ISBN to be considered as the publisher.
True Self-Publishing:
Authors are becoming more and more publishing-savvy.  They can get all the information at their fingertips on the internet, through forums and books, and choose among many service providers for all the publishing steps: editing, layout, ebook formatting, cover design and marketing – and certainly a great platform and reader contacts.
Most important for authors is it to buy their own ISBN’s to be recognized as the publisher, to do the homework before releasing a book, and to deliver an excellent and professional produced book. Authors can and should shop for best quality and favorable prices.
Self-publishing authors are free to sell their books wherever they want: on their own website, at all the online retailers, as print, digital or audio-books, at book fairs etc..  The possibilities are endless.
Do Your Homework.
Whatever publishing path you choose, diligently research service companies and providers, as well as the publishing houses.  Insist on getting all your questions answered fully, honestly, and promptly, and on getting firm prices.  Google them, using the word complaint, read and search in Writer Beware  and similar report sites, Preditors & Editors  for example, and use writer forums to find out more about their business. Read the bewares and background check forum at Absolute Write.  Ask for references and contact authors who had used them previously or with whom they closed a publishing contract.  Never order anything over the phone. Get every detail in writing.  Let publishing contracts evaluate by a contract lawyer before signing anything.
Take your time!  Only this way you can make informed publishing decisions.


Save Yourself Time, Money and Frustration!


Reading another warning by Writer Beware  regarding certain publishing contracts by deceptive businesses, I was reminded to blog once more about the dangers of “being published”.
These days not only the classic vanity publishing companies are taking advantage of authors who want to have their book in stores, but also (in the past) respected legacy publishing houses try to get on the bandwagon and persuade independent writers to get “published” with them.

The expression “publisher” should be legally protected and it should be forbidden by law to call themselves publishers if a company is just trying to deceive writers!  Read more about vanity publishers and un-ethical publishing contracts in: Vanity Publishing aka Subsidy Publishers

Lots of Predators Out There…
Authors are surprised when so-called publishers want money up front. Publishers are supposed to pay authors, aren’t they?  There is nothing wrong in this.  The trouble comes if the author, having signed a hefty check, is led to expect that his book will be treated in the same way as all the other books coming onto the market.  To pay for publication is no guarantee that a single copy will appear on the shelves of even the local bookshop.  Authors feel they have been conned, persuaded to part with money for services not rendered.

Century-old Scams…
If you think writers and publishers today are dodgy, get a load of the crooks and scoundrels of 18th-century London Publishing scams that seem to be nothing new.  Read this article about the worst publisher of all time. 
Author BEWARE!
Despite the evidence, there are still writers who fall into the trap of vanity publishing – often with open eyes. That is why as soon as one vanity publisher goes out of business, another soon fills the gap. Here are a few tips on what to look out for. Read it in a former blog post – and BEWARE!

CON is Part of the Word “CONtract”.
Here is an excerpt from a contract where the vanity firm extends the right to the universe – in case people make home on Mars or the moon: “The author hereby grants the publisher, during the full term of copyright, the sole and exclusive right to manufacture, print, publish and sell and to otherwise use, as set out further in this agreement, including, but not limited to, acting as agent and/or exercising any or all subsidiary rights, throughout the universe.” (a company in Renfrew, Ontario, Canada)
Author and e-Book Builder Deena Rae Wrote in one of her Blogs:
“The world of publishing has always been filled with scammers, and top of the list are vanity publishers. To those who have been in the world of publishing a vanity press used to be a bad thing, but with Penguin, Random House, Simon & Schuster, and even Harlequin are bringing a sheen of “respectability” to vanity publishing…


More about this topic:



What Writers Can Deduct from Taxes


April 18, 2016 … You know what this deadline means for US-citizens?  Yes, income tax return!  They are due latest on this day.  And it’s only a couple of weeks until then… Tax season is already in full swing.  Don’t wait until the last minute.

Writers are presumed to be a professional if their writing made a profit in at least three out of the last five tax years, including the current year. Which means:  Not more than two years of expenses that are higher than the author income.
Considerations of Profitability
There are a couple of other considerations that revenue agencies, such as the IRS, are listing, for example:

  • Have you made a profit in similar activities in the past? If you have a successful book under your belt — or even a series of articles in paid publications, such as newspapers, magazines or online publications, which means you are a professional writer.
  • Do you have the knowledge needed to carry on the activity as a successful business?  How much do you know about running that business?  Are you running it like a business, keeping records, keeping an eye to profitability?  Did you take classes / seminars about the publishing business (e.g. marketing or tax etc.) no matter if online or offline?
  • Have you created a professional book marketing and publicity plan?  This might even be shown by including affiliate programs on your website / blog.  If there are losses, are they due to circumstances beyond your control or did they occur in the start-up phase of the business?

Expenses You Can Deduct:
It’s important to find every deduction to which you are entitled. Always try to pay expenses from a separate account, setup only for your writing business, to make bookkeeping easier.  Keep receipts and make copies of payments to contractors, freelancers and agency fees for book production, such as:

  • Proofreading
  • Editing
  • Illustrations
  • Photos
  • Graphic Design
  • Book Layout
  • Printing costs
  • eBook Formatting
  • Advanced Copy reviews
  • Book Trailer Design

Book Promotion Costs, for example:

  • Advertisements, online and offline
  • Giveaways (free book review copies, pens etc.)
  • Flyers, brochures, business cards, bookmarks
  • Book Fair expenses
  • Costs for newsletters (AWeber, MailChimp etc.)
  • Entry fees for writing contests

Other Costs, such as:

  • Transportation costs (note the dates, distance, reason)
  • Rental for book readings
  • Office rental or mortgage, heating, electricity for your home office by square feet
  • Phone / Internet / e-Reader costs
  • Website / blog costs, such as hosting or development
  • Computer / Copy Machine / Scanner / Router
  • Office Supplies
  • Meal expenses: in the USA full for public events you might host, and 50% if it is for a business purpose (interview, writers conference, meeting with book professionals, publishers, agents etc.)
  • Transportation to meetings, events
  • Research costs
  • Copyright registration and ISBN fees
  • your tax preparer or tax lawyer.

Keep all your expense slips sorted by date and neatly filed to make it easier to find them.
If you pay anyone of the above listed more than a couple of hundred dollars, such as editors for example, you would need to include the contract and a form (in the United States it is IRS Form 1099-MISC).
Note for each meal/entertainment expense the names, number of people participating and reason for meeting)
Publishers Weekly Gives this Advice:
“Income from an S corporation is not subject to Medicare tax,” says Robert Pesce, a partner in the media and entertainment group at Marcum LLP. “Only the salary an author is paid by the S corp is subject to the tax. So, an author with an S corporation who is earning $1 million and pays him- or herself $200,000 (a very reasonable salary at that earnings level) will only pay $6,000 (3%) in Medicare taxes, while an unincorporated author (sole proprietor) would pay approximately $30,000.”

However, if you are just starting out with less than a handful books, a sole proprietorship might be sufficient: Lawyer Helen Sedwick advices: “They are simpler to operate and subject to fewer arbitrary rules than the C corporations, S corporations, and LLC’s.”


Further Reading:
Income Tax Rules for Non-US Authors
Ten Things Not to do While Completing Your Taxes

These tips are meant to give general insight into tax information to writers, especially in the USA, and to give you an entry point so you can research further.  While every effort was made to ensure the information in this article is accurate at the time it was written, we are not tax experts.  Anyone filing taxes should consult a qualified tax preparer for updated tax laws and further specifics on how these rules might apply to your individual tax situation.






Trade Publisher’s Unethical Contract Practices


You might have read several articles we published in the past about the unethical contract practices of trade and Vanity publishers, and how they deceive their authors. Headlines were for example:

“Less than Minimum Wage for Authors?”

“The Traps in Publishing Contracts”

“What Publishers Won’t Tell You”

In these articles and many others we were pointing to the worst parts of publishing contracts, found under these paragraphs:

Duration of the contract
Rights granted by the author to the publisher
Territory for these rights
Out-of-Print Termination
Reversion of rights
Advances and Royalties
Statements and Payments
Competing Works

What about Arbitration, Marketing or Editing?
Do you contract with a publisher who made you a book contract offer demanding arbitration, an unfavourable marketing or editing clause in its contract?

Arbitration Instead of Civil Court.
Arbitration clauses, hidden in fine print of many contracts, often buried under other headings, like “Reversion”, “Termination”, “Dispute” or “Miscellaneous”.

Arbitration clauses have deprived authors of one of their most fundamental constitutional rights: to sue in court.  Judges and juries have been replaced by arbitrators who commonly consider the companies their clients.”  But arbitration clauses are increasingly common in publishing contracts, and even in the “Terms of Use” of some major self-publishing platforms.  Are you aware of their implications?  Kobo Writing Life, Smashwords, Draft2Digital, BookBaby, and IngramSpark for example don’t have arbitration clauses. Lulu includes an arbitration clause with a class action ban.
Law in Plain English for Writers.
This valuable 300-pages guide book for authors explains: …”be aware that the resulting arbitration decision cannot be appeal and the process will not contain many of the procedural safeguards that are a part of the judicial process.”
And: “Arbitration does not provide for any pre-trial discovery, unless the contract allows the American Arbitration Association’s Commercial Rules to be used.” Just two examples of the valuable tips in this inexpensive law guide book for every writer – whether first-time author, seasoned freelancer or professional journalist.
Next Problem: Marketing
When I red a fantastic book recently I was curious if this author has a digital version of the title available. Her Amazon page – set up by her publisher – shocked me, it’s the worst author page I have ever seen! I looked up the “publisher”, a tiny, home-run company in Kelowna, BC, Canada.

Until two decades ago, publishing houses did some marketing for books. Now, in the best case, publishers might send out some galleys to reviewers and wait to see if anyone is interested. Then they focus all their publicity on the books they expect to be a bestseller.  Rachelle Gartner a publishing agent set up a whole page, listing marketing efforts of publishers – in the best case, and for the VIP authors.

If you want your book to be a success, YOU will have to do ALL the publicity yourself!  That’s how it works most of the time.

Marketing activities vary widely from publisher to publisher.  The “bigger” the author, and the more money they expect to make on the author, the more they’ll spend on marketing.

On the other end of the spectrum is a publishing contract that states: “publicity is at our discretion” – even if it is just a lousy press release, sent to a list of people the author provided. With this move some publishers want to emphasize that marketing is under their control – even though they have no knowledge of professional publishing.

Editing Clauses.
Writers need assurance that they will be a partner in the editing process, and that their work won’t be changed in major ways without their permission.  And publishers need the right of final approval–they don’t want to be forced to publish a manuscript that the author can’t or won’t revise to their satisfaction.
Usually the editor at the publishing house will provide revision suggestions and the author will carry them out. For copy editing, the publisher usually has discretion. But the author should have the opportunity to see and approve the copy edited manuscript before it goes to press.

Clauses like this: “publisher shall have the right to edit and revise the manuscript for any and all uses contemplated under this agreement” disregards the authors copyright, and allows the publisher to edit the author’s work without consulting or even informing him or her.“ “The publisher shall be entitled to develop, alter, edit, and proof the content, usage, format, capitalization, punctuation, and spelling of the Work to conform to the Publisher’s style, the subject matter, and intended audience previously agreed upon by the parties of this Agreement.” It means the same as above, but in more nebulous terms.

“Publisher shall have the right to correct errors, and/or edit and revise the Work for any and all uses contemplated under this agreement, provided that the meaning of the Work is not materially altered.” Which means, the publisher is not required to consult you or get your permission before making those changes. These type of clauses regarding the editing give all the power over the manuscript to the publisher.
Bestselling Author Kristine Rusch: “Anyone who reads my blog regularly understands that I believe these “standard” book contracts are horrible.  No writer should sign some of the clauses in these contracts, and no writer should ever consider licensing rights under many of these terms.”

I wrote an entire book three years ago about contract terms writers should avoid.  Unfortunately, the book needs updating—not because the terms I mentioned are gone now, but because even WORSE ones have joined them.”

“I believe writers should understand what they sign, and walk away from bad contracts.  Simply knowing that publishers will negotiate many of these points will help writers in standing up for themselves—without agents, who often make the problem worse, generally speaking.”

Get Legal Tips from Professionals.
Bestselling author and self-publishing advocate J.A. Konrath wrote: “The trade publishing system is designed to take advantage of Authors’ naivete and lack of bargaining power, and it uses the promise of publication as a carrot to get them to accept onerous, deeply biased terms.”

Best advice for any author is to know what they get into, to understand the publishing contract and to consult a contract lawyer before signing the papers. As advices: “While it is difficult to see how your publishing agreement will play out in the long term, the decisions you make today could have profound, long term consequences.”
The author “Law in Plain English for Writers
Lawyer Leonard DuBoff, was teaching intellectual property law for twenty-five years, and writes really simple and easy to understand.

The Fine Print of Self-Publishing
by Mark Levine does not only provide sound advice, but also lists publishers and Vanity Publishers that authors must avoid under all circumstances.

Helen Sedwick, a Californian attorney and novelist, shows in the chapter “Understanding Key Contract Provisions” of her Legal Handbook the clauses of publishers and explains on the other side of the page what these provisions mean for the author.
If you are still eager to sign a contract, you should at least know what you get into, and what the contract clauses really mean.  Try to negotiate.  Ask the publisher to add a clause, to ensure that your consent is required for changes – less the editing.


How to Write a Great Author Bio

Author Bio

An author bio is an important – and an often overlooked – marketing tool.  For some authors writing their bio might be a daunting task.  But it is important to give your bio the same attention as you do when writing your books or an avatar for your social media sites.

When pitching to trade publishers or to magazine editors, the bio you are submitting with your manuscript is mostly intended to first sell the publisher that you are qualified to write about your subject, be it fiction or non-fiction. And your bio will later be used to help sell your book to readers.

First: Study the Author Bios in Your Genre.
Search for the bestseller author pages in your genre on Amazon and other online retailers, or study their author bios on the back cover pages of their books in a store or a library.  As more you read, as more ideas you get for your own author bio.
Write in the First Person.
You might be loathing to write about yourself in the 3rd person at first, but it does make it easier to talk confidently about your achievements.  So, always write your bio in the third person.  To make it easier for yourself, just pretend you are a reporter writing about someone else.  Non-fiction authors should focus more on subject knowledge and credentials, while bios for novelists can be more personal.  A touch of humor and being relatable doesn’t hurt at all. Let your bio reflect your personality.
Stay Relevant to You as a Writer.
Leave out any information that has no relevance to the book or your author credentials.  For your readers it is not important where and when you are born, how many siblings you have or that you supported yourself as a fast-food attendant or in retail, while starting your writing career…  On the other hand, don’t leave out specifics that are important for your writing fiction, or establish their credentials for non-fiction.  Readers want to know what’s in it for them.  So explain for example in your bio how your book will help them solving a problem.
Keep it Short and Sweet.
Your author bio is not the place to tell your whole life story.  Around 100-250 words is a good length.  You don’t want to write an author bio that fills up the entire back cover of your print version.
A universal bio that you copy and paste everywhere is okay, but you can tailor it to your specific situation.  Keep various versions of your bio in your computer files, including versions at 50 words, 100 words, 200 words, and 500 words.
What to Include:
Reporters, producers, bloggers and other media people will read your author bio at your press kit and it’s pretty much the only tool for you to proof you are the best person to write this book and to write it well.
For non-fiction writers it needs to show the professional background for the topic you are writing.  Why are you qualified to write on this subject?  Include enough information that demonstrates your credentials to write this book.  You might also want to mention the amount of research you put into writing your non-fiction book.

  • Your Education
  • Work experience
  • Professional memberships
  • Industry leadership roles
  • Industry awards

Fiction Writers Might Include:

  • Where you grew up or live (even vaguely)
  • Writing awards or acclaim
  • Fiction writing education or training
  • Explain how you came to write this story

Don’t forget, your author bio is a part of your brand, so it should be a reflection of who you really are as an author.
Check out the practical examples in this blog article: 10 Tips for writing an author bio.

If you are really stuck with your bio writing: there are lots of professional copywriters at, or etc. who can help you to accomplish the task.




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