About the Author:

With a career that has spanned advertising, production, technical services, and project management, Michael is able to articulate the wide range skills and professions that make the Internet work. This eclectic understanding and his desire to shine the light on those hiding behind techno babble has brought success to a wide range of projects.

Twitter @bissell

Linked In


Past Postings:

Using Dissent To Enhance Your Social Influence Online

Industry Profile - Author

Industry Profiles Full Time Employees - Professional Writer

Some Thoughts On Freelancing

Building Your Online Brand

Marissa Mayer and the Change in Yahoo's Remote Workforce

LinkedIn for Professional Writers

Fake Republican Twitter Accounts

"Did you mean?" -- Google's chiding nanny of search results

Branded Technology

Sharingspree.com -- Stealing more than GroupOn's Idea

The Internet Isn't Entertaining Enough

It's not your bank... It's Apple's and Amazon's

Violated by Madison Avenue

Google+ Scares Me

"We need to..." Internet Marketing Myths

Facebook's deal with the Devil

My cool new phone is a little too cool.

You are never alone

Promotion vs. Distribution... You'd think they'd know that one...

Publishing Industry Watch

Content for Social Media

Social Media Slot Machine

Anonymous vs Me

News from the Twitter Follow Campaign Trail

The art of Indiscriminate Twitter Following

The Cloudy Meaning of The Cloud

The Demand For The Loss of Creativity

Alien Technology and Government Conspiracies

Time for a New Reality

The Death of Email

Protecting Free Speech... Anonymously (and geekily)

Amazon Shouldn't Have Shut Down WikiLeaks

The Superpowers of the Hive Mind

Time for New Ideas

Comcast, Netflix and the Mystery of the Modem

The Great Technical Disconnect

New for the Sake of New

A Retail Store Built Like the Web

Disposable Personas

When did Google Start Policing the Internet?

Getting back to HTML basics, thanks to Apple

Inspecting my Navel Base

A shoebox vs. an online backup

Is Your "Resume" Website Recruiter-friendly?

iBooks -- Creative Epicenter or Gatekeeper?

The Failure of Success

The Economy is Going to Get Worse, but that's okay

Time lost on Twitter

Client Vendor Relationships

Twitter's back alleys and dark places

Social Media is NOT Advertising

Microsoft Courier

Form (designers) versus Function (geeks)

PDXBOOM -- The power of social media and the portland pipe bomb

China and Apple -- Different organizations, same management

The volume of screens

Logorama

Google Adds Biking Directions to Maps

Transmedia

That magical little tablet

How your website can be in two places at once

Masterpieces created by sheer volume

Suing over lack of originality

A Primer on Internet Fame -- dancing babies, hamsters, numa numa, and more...

Checking my messages

Rules are made to be broken -- in a reasoned, systematic way

So many accounts, so few passwords

Who really uses Twitter? 60% of Twitter's traffic isn't on Twitter

The Web is a Jerry Rigged Kludge

Twitter: Asleep at the Mouse Wheel

Where regulation is good: Google Voice and Vonage

How Facebook is (unintentionally) forcing programmers to piss off users

The Twit Cleaner

Perfect Secretary's pitch for @Adbroad (and the Youtube API)

The Emotions of Text

The Shorty Awards Scandal -- Manual Spam is still Spam

Google Analytics, the cloud and missing numbers #fail

Helen Klein Ross & Michael Bissell Interview at Adweek's Social Media Strategies Conference

The Internet is the New 60's

Cougars from New Zealand (and I don't mean big cats)

Adding facts together, or why you can't charge your cell phone from wifi

Social Media and the Destruction of the World

Rabid Fans vs Passive Viewers -- The Coco vs Leno saga

How to tell someone to retweet (without using up your 140 characters)

You can't buy social media

A book unopened is but a block of paper

Building the LOST: The Final Season Sweepstakes

Holiday SPAM (or the lack thereof)

Archiving Twitter

Too Many Toolbars

Random Censorship with Google Adwords

Accessibility and Shopping Online

Twisted path to customer service

Flash: Shiny objects blinding your audience

Twollow and other gold rush scripts

GPS in a Laptop computer

Thinking outside the box... There was a box?

Twitter was designed for Text Messaging

It's not the corporations, damnit

Entrepreneur or Dreamer?

Adweek Social Media Twitter for Brands Presentation

Socializing is more than Social Media

Generational Marketing is a Myth (or Who's your Daddy?)

Social Media is Just the Way We Use the Internet

Twitter Followers Don't Matter (ask the porn sites)

The Internet is Gooder than Books

Sometimes you don't want your campaign to go viral

Best Twitter Branding Campaign

Like flies to crap, Spammy Twitter Followers don't really go away

iPhone SMS Security Hole

How Flipmytweet works

Cell Phones as Microscopes

Digg is not the Hijacker -- You Are

Steve Ballmer -- the walking dead?

Twitter as an open mic poetry reading

Automatic Social [un]Awareness

First splash for United Against Malaria

New Media/Old Media and the CLIO Awards

Interview at SXSW: Mad Men Twitter And Tracking

We've got an App for that -- it's called the Web

Understanding Google To Get Your Resume Noticed

The trouble with Wordpress and other templates

Wayward Words with Baggage

Speaking at SXSW March 17th

The fleeting Memory of the Internet

It's okay to say 'I don't know'

Nike Takes Over Conquent

Facebook owns this title

Excuses, excuses

A little on Social Media

Feeding on Content

Attack of the Bots

Web 1.0

Net Neutrality

Getting clever with data feeds

The Other Credit Crisis

The Broadband Inauguration

T-Mobile owns Magenta and Other Patent Stories

The Risk-takers, Doers and Makers of Things

The noise of 20,000+ Twitter Followers

30,000 feet, 500 MPH Suburban Strip Mall

Cellphones, toilets and the Inauguration

The End of Days (of song): Microsoft Songsmith Example

Browser Bigotry

The Death of your Soul: Microsoft Songsmith

Creative Development or Developing Creatively?

The Myth of Wikipedia (or the Wiki-1400)

Online/Offline Sales -- is it really that bad?

Is PayPal Tacky?

Old School Web Design Still Works

Domain Squatting

Green Chri$tma$

QA 101

Portland Snow

Get some return on that web traffic

I think they have a backup...

I'd love to have that problem

The [un]importance of statistics

Don't be a tool of viral marketing

Emails, discussions, blogs, wiki and web content

You Designed for Print First

You let someone else register your domain name

You figured .biz, .info, .us would work fine

What's after the Integrated Circuit?

Intelligent life is out there (but it's bugger all down here on earth)

Subject Matter Experts Talking Other Subject Matter

The Totalitarian Regime of Apple

Oversimplifying how people work

crowdSPRING

Creative Services for the New World

Reverse Anthropomorphism

The End of Time

Better Living Through Twitter

Lessons Learned From Apple

It's the Brand, Baby

Business Architecture vs. Web Construction

On Truth

Inverse Peter Principle

Random Knowledge

The Hive



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Industry Profile - Author
Posted: 2013-09-10 07:42:13



The road to becoming a published author is long. It starts with an idea...a topic, a person, a plot. Before anyone starts thinking of publishers, agents or editors they have a lot of work to do. First, of course, is writing an initial draft. And your first draft is the very basic starting point. There are an almost infinite number of resources on the market that will help you with the process of writing, editing, re-writing, re-editing, revising, etc. For any sort of novelist, I highly recommend a critique group. For a non-fiction writer (including biography, memoir, self-help, history or non-textbook) manuscript you need to have readers along the way. These readers should not just be friends and family, who will think anything you write is wonderful. They should be subject matter experts, other published authors, book critics, editors, or someone that will give you an honest and fairly unbiased opinion. Until you have gone through several evaluation cycles by your peers, you don't need to worry about anything else. This part of the process, honing your manuscript, can take weeks, months or even years. But until you are sure it is as clean as you can make it, you aren't ready to think about publishing.

Once you do reach the stage where you feel ready to send your creation out into the world, you have one very important question to ask yourself: are you absolutely committed to your work as is, or are you open to changes? Because the truth is that unless you are ready to have it changed, re-worked, and otherwise edited, it is pointless to even consider trying the "traditional" publishing route. If you are open to having someone you have never met tell you they are interested if you make this, that or the other change, the next thing you need is a thick skin: rhino, elephant or armored tank thick. Because the odds are you will get rejected several if not dozens or hundreds of times.

If you are committed to keeping your baby "as is", you are looking at a couple of choices via the self-publishing route (this includes epublication such as an ebook via Amazon). In the hard-copy realm you have two basic choices: a vanity press or print-on-demand (POD). A vanity press will publish your book in quantity and ship it to you once you have signed the contract and paid the fees for printing and shipping. Print-on-demand is just what it sounds like: your work isn't printed until someone orders it. A vanity press prints your manuscript, may secure your ISBN number, ships it, and you are done financially with them. A POD service will generally charge you an upload fee, and may also charge you a percentage of royalties for each order. If you choose the ebook route, there are a number of ways you can get your manuscript formatted; basically an ebook is a .pdf file that is encrypted against digital duplication.

For any of the self-publishing options, I highly recommend at the very least a professional copywriter, and wholeheartedly suggest you hire an independent editor to help make your work the best can be. A freelance editor should be able to provide you with references and examples of work s/he has done.

The most recent iteration of innovation in publishing has been epublishing. For a decade or so, epublishers such as Ellora's Cave, Samhain, Loose-Id,offered online downloadable .pdf files of authors that were often novella length. The cost was significantly less than hardback/paperback print versions. These online publishers had varying levels of editorial support available, depending on their business model. Then came the Nook and Kindle. Originally designed as an alternate delivery method for publishers to reach their audience, when Amazon opened the door to CreateSpace and self-publishing on Amazon, the literary industry was irrevocably changed. Now anyone can self-publish on the single largest bookstore in the world. The royalties are much greater from a percentage standpoint but the price per unit is significantly smaller. So a 70-80% royalty structure might sound really good, but if your ebook is only selling for $2.50, that works out to significantly lower profit than 20% of a $8-9 trade paperback. At that point it is all sales. If you can get 2 million people to purchase your ebook, obviously you are looking at a significant profit. But if you only have 300 people purchase your ebook on Amazon, you might be lucky to clear $500.

There are major tradeoffs between traditional publishing and self-publishing. The most notable are financial and operational support, with quality control also being a major differentiator. When a large publisher makes the commitment to publish your book, you are generally paid a royalty advance, to give you the time to finish your book or create another. In addition, you receive the services of professionally recognized editors that generally have years of experience making a manuscript the best it can be. You also have the huge advantage of a professional marketing department and multiple distribution channels. In return for these not insignificant advantages, you give the publisher a hefty portion of the profits, and they control the distribution of the royalties with exclusive distribution and dissemination rights. There are also small presses, which offer much less in the way of marketing support but which you may have better chance of being published. Most of them do not pay advances, but they do offer editing and reviewers. There are many discussions on Absolute Write about the advantages, pitfalls, and warning signs about small presses.

Let's talk covers for a moment. One major misconception many beginning authors have about traditional presses is that they will have significant input and decision-making on their covers. You don't. Covers sell books, and all presses have dedicated artists or departments they work with that not only know the setup needed to create a book cover, but also to make sure publisher's brand is consistent. Publishers are in the business of selling books, and like everything else, there are trends in what sells. It used to be that an artist could create a cover and it would be photographed and then typeset. Nowadays, covers tend to be a combination of photos/digital art, depending on the genre or subject of the book. Obviously if you are self-publishing you have full decision making over the art for your cover, but make sure you use art that won't be detrimental to your book; when in doubt, go with a plain or abstract cover.

One question often arises for those pursuing traditional publishing: do I need an agent? The first thing to understand about agents is that they are the equivalent of an executive headhunter. They choose their clients based on the content of their manuscripts so they tend to be selective. Most have a range of genres they specialize in; they may be niche or broad, depending on factors such as agency size, the backgroound/s of their employees, and industry contacts. They generally take a 15%+ cut of publication royalties for each project. That may seem like a lot, but here is what you get from agent representation: direct access to publishers (submitted on you behalf) and contract negotiation expertise. Since your agent makes their living off of your deal, you are guaranteed they will get you the best contract terms possible. Publication contracts are a breed apart, so if you don't use an agent, at the very least do yourself a favor and use an attorney to review your contracts *that has a specialty in publication contract law.* You should consider submitting to an agent for representation if you A) have an accepted manuscript and want their negotiation services B) you aren't sure where to submit your manuscript directly C) you have previously submitted your manuscript, had it rejected from a significant number of publishing houses and you have made major changes. In the case of A, if you have been offered a multi-book deal, a one-time attorney fee may make more sense.

For those pursuing the traditional publishing route and an agent, it is absolutely vital that you do research to find reputable agents and for anyone that is using an independent editor, the same holds true. There are several online resources such as Preditors and Editors, Absolute Write, Query Tracker, Publisher's Marketplace (subscription), Association of Authors' Representatives, and good old fashioned professional word of mouth from friends/peers. Get references *and check them out*. LinkedIn has several writing Groups you can join at no charge to solicit feedback from other members. One trick to finding an agent is to read the dedications and forewards from your favorite authors; often they will name their agents in their thanks. You can also run a Google search on other authors to find out who their agents are; truthfully, it is pretty rare for a professional author not to have an agent. An agent can represent you on different projects to different publishers if you decide to branch out in your work. It is also very possible that attending writer's conferences that have agents and industry editors at them will result in finding the right contacts. Just make sure that, as with any other professional relationship, you get a written contract explicitly spelling out expectations and fees.

Probably the most important thing to understand about being an author is knowing that this is not a profession that is likely to make you *rich*. Even the NY Times Bestsellers don't all make millions. Being an author is a career option, but there are many authors that have "day jobs" or other external careers. Remember, if you are writing with any expectation of selling that you are creating a *product*, and that means you are to a great degree subject to the marketplace, in this case your readers. There was a question over on LinkedIn a couple of weeks ago about whether or not an author should be required to change his "voice". His small press publisher closed shop, and no one else was interested in picking up his very narrowly-focused voice, which was that of someone from a very specific part of the UK, in dialogue, setting, characterization, etc. Lots of people were saying that no, an author should not pander to the marketplace if it was "inauthentic", but my response was that if he depends on writing is his livelihood, then he needs to create product that people will *buy*. Otherwise, writing is an investment of time, emotion, and effort into nothing more than a literary exercise.


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