Tag Archives: e-book

Publishing: what a nightmare

 

We had talked before about how difficult the “publishing step” might be, the problems with the publishers, the doubts… should I choose self-publishing? Online? Should it be a physical book or just an ebook? Perhaps both?

When our story is done, the worst part of being an author begins. And many times, you don’t even know all the options or even understand them and all their nuances. So I researched a little and tried to make some sort of summary of each option together with its pros and cons.


Traditional Publishers

When I started writing, this seemed to be the safest course of action, but is it really? Let’s see.

We all probably understand that it’s a huge step to get published by a big company, one that everyone knows. That will be good on your resume, maybe change your life as a writer (trust me, not exactly), but it’ll definitely make you feel great about yourself! Yes, you are allowed to feel that. Competition is hard and you still got it. It’s amazing. So the pros are probably easy to understand, right?

So now, let’s focus on the cons. You’ll face many problems with them. First of all the great amount of rejections that seem, so very often, to come down to a very unfair decision, especially in the giant publishers, where you’ll probably receive a rejection form which just goes to show you that they don’t read more than a couple pages or perhaps even the synopsis (if they read anything at all, you’ll never quite be sure).

They still rely on you for the marketing of your own book. Yes, it’s true. If you are as naive as I was, you’ll probably be thinking that it’s their job to promote the book, right? It’s the best part of having a big publisher on your back, you’ll have more visibility. Unfortunately, that’s not necessarily true. I mean, they will promote your book, IF, it’s already going well…

And, let’s talk about those contracts… You usually receive an advance for them to publish your book (they are smaller and smaller nowadays), you are the one in charge of the marketing, as we have seen in the previous paragraph, and there is, almost always, a clause to the contract that stops you from publishing with another publisher form a certain amount of time or that all but forces you to give them your next book. You probably don’t want this…

In any case, I still think that they can make a real difference in your career, especially with a little bit of luck to dodge any of the worse contracts. So, if that’s what you want, you probably need to put yourself out there. One of the best things you can do, conferences, also have a downside to them. They are amazing opportunities to connect with other writers and publishers, but they tend to be expensive, so it’s something to think about carefully.

 

Self-publishing

Self-publishing has been growing in the last decades, mostly because of all the problems and difficulties I mentioned above with traditional publishers and especially the lack of opportunities.
What most authors say is that they have more control over their work and they receive more for each book they manage to sell. Even if they sell fewer books, sometimes it’s financially better anyway and thus an appealing choice.

Obviously, it also has plenty of cons too. First of all, the prejudice: for many people, if you go for self-publishing, this automatically means you just weren’t good enough to make it in the traditional environment. Promotion is also a problem, but it is a problem in any case…
With all the evolution surrounding it, you have now so many different options and platforms that can help you do this online (Amazon, B&N, Apple, Kobo, Google Play, etc…)

 

Vanity Publishing

There was a time that vanity publishing was considered self-publishing, but there is a huge difference between them. In vanity publishing, you pay someone to publish your book. You take all the financial risk, the other person has the work and, obviously, a cut of your profits.

As you might imagine this is an amazing open ground for abuse of the system, in a myriad of ways. First of all, because of the way the profits are split and some other details such as not caring about the costs, they never end up conducting a good market study to prevent spending unnecessary and frankly absurd amounts of money.

Many people have tried this kind of publishing, but almost every author will tell you: it’s a terrible idea.

 

Hybrid Authors

This kind of publishing choice is very simple to understand, the same author has some books traditionally published and others self-published. Technically it’s the best of both worlds, but sometimes, you might face problems due to the publishers’ demands for exclusivity.

 

Small Publishers

This must sound the same as traditional publishing, but I decided to separate them because there are some significant differences between publishing with a small publisher or publishing with a big company.

Small publishers have few employees and usually give more attention to new authors. Besides, most of the time, they give you better royalties on e-books than bigger publishers.

However, there are fewer and fewer of these small publishers, they seem to be disappearing as more and more authors go for the self-publishing.

 

E-books and Print-on-Demand

They are two different things, but I put them in the same category because they both have no costs for you and most of the authors that go for these options, decided to do both of them.

The e-books, as you probably know, are sold and delivered electronically. Despite the fact that many writers still prefer the physical paper book, for some fiction categories, most of the sold books are e-books.

Many times, the author gives the readers the opportunity to get the paper book, through the print-on-demand option, meaning that the book will be printed only after an order is placed, which makes each book costs a higher amount than it would otherwise have to, but there are zero risks involved.

The publishing world is changing fast and the options tend to grow with all the technological advancements in our society. Keep updated and choose what best suits you and your work.

CONSTRUINDO A CAPA – BUILDING THE COVER

A capa deve ser construída com cuidado e com um bom planeamento. Muitas vezes, enquanto criamos a história, algumas ideias vão surgindo na nossa mente sobre o aspecto que gostariamos que a capa do nosso livro tivesse, no entanto, é preciso ter em conta que não somos especialistas e a capa deve ser desenhada por designers, habituados a lidar com marketing e imagens de marca. Não quero com isto dizer, que a ideia do escritor deva ser ignorada, muito pelo contrário, ela mostra uma imagem personalizada e muitas vezes é fundamental para captar a essência do livro, mas a mesma deve ser trabalhada pelo artista, de modo a tornar-se marcante e apelativa.

Ousar, mas não em demasia!

Uma boa capa deve ser ousada e diferente, chamando imediatamente a atenção do leitor sobre ele, no entanto, nada de cair em exageros: algo demasiado diferente ou irreverente pode ter o efeito contrário, sobretudo em leitores mais conservadores.

É importante que o designer conheça o livro

O conteúdo do livro é, para a grande maioria dos profissionais que desenham capas, o principal ponto de referência para o seu trabalho, o que torna implícita a necessidade de lerem a história como parte da sua preparação para o processo. O designer Chip Kidd (http://chipkidd.com) afirma mesmo que lê os livros antes de começar a fazer as capas. Infelizmente para os autores, isto nem sempre acontece, especialmente, quando estamos a falar em primeiras publicações, na grande maioria das vezes realizadas com editoras pequenas, pelo que devem ficar atentos ao que vos é apresentado e se sentirem a necessidade de vetar a capa proposta, não hesitem. É o vosso trabalho que está em jogo aqui, não temam dar opiniões. Oiçam os especialistas, mas deixem bem clara a vossa opinião ou ficarão extremamente insatisfeitos com o resultado final.

Um só livro, ou uma série de livros?

Esta é uma questão à qual o escritor tem de responder o mais depressa possível. Quando estamos perante uma série de livros, deve haver um planeamento mais ou menos conjunto, para que todos tenham o mesmo estilo e fiquem bem, juntos numa estante. Pode não parecer assim tão significativo à partida, mas acreditem que poderá fazer toda a diferença pela óptica dos leitores. Se não houver este cuidado, pode dar-se o facto do leitor pensar: para quê comprar o próximo livro? Há uma maior tendência para adquirir toda a série, se o conjunto dos livros formar algo interessante visualmente.
Assim, ao planear uma série de livros, é importante que cada uma das capas, não só, respeite o título individual do livro, como mantenha uma relação óbvia com as restantes, havendo determinados elementos gráficos que façam parte de todas elas.

Então, e os e-books?

A Internet é, sem sombra de dúvida, um excelente espaço para dar a conhecer e fazer publicidade ao seu livro, mas isto não é o suficiente. Boas reviews são excelentes e ajudam-nos a consolidar um certo público, mas a capa é sempre a primeira coisa que as pessoas vêem e o principal motivo pelo qual vão procurar mais informação sobre determinada obra. O mesmo acontece com os e-books. Na verdade, uma boa capa é fundamental e, em sítios como a Amazon, devemos ainda colocar outra questão: esta capa fica bem em tamanho thumbnail?

E a editora?

A identificação da editora é fundamental e pode até influenciar a aquisição do livro pelos leitores. A capa e a lombada sao espaços privilegidos para esta identificação, sendo que não se trata apenas de incluir o nome e o logotipo da mesma. Muitas vezes, a editora trabalha com colecções que incluem livros de diversos autores e estes devem ter um ponto comum. É importante discutir todos estes pormenores com a editora, antes da decisão final.

 

A capa deve ter um aspecto profissional, caso contrário os leitores vão acreditar que se trata de trabalho de amador e ignorá-lo por completo. A maioria do público vai considerar que um trabalho assim não merece o tempo que perderão a lê-lo, por isso, é preciso escolher com muito cuidado, não só o tema da capa, mas também o designer. Um bom entendimento entre o autor e o designer é fundamental, especialmente nas edições de autor (self publishing). Nunca se esqueçam que uma má capa, pode arruinar anos de trabalho intenso.


The cover for your book must be built carefully, with the help of some good planning. Many times, when you create the story, some ideas may pop up in your head about the cover’s design, although, you need to keep in mind that you’re not a specialist and the cover should really be designed by professionals, who are used to dealing with marketing and branding considerations. This doesn’t mean that your idea isn’t important or that it should be ignored, quite the opposite. Your idea probably shows a personalized image or notion and is often an essential component in order to capture the book’s essence, but it should be crafted by the artist anyway, to make that it is appealing or outstanding.

Daring, but not too much!

A good cover should be bold or different, getting the potential reader to immediately look at it, however, you must be careful so as not to exaggerate: something too different or too irreverent could have the opposite effect, especially with the most traditional readers.

The designer needs to know the book and what it’s about!

Most of the professionals who design book covers admit to the contents of said books being the main reference for their work process. This should in fact tell you how real, obvious and necessary it is, that your own cover’s designer read your book’s story, in preparation for his own cover design process and work. The designer Chip Kidd (http://chipkidd.com) has stated multiple times, that he reads the books fully before starting any work on their covers. Unfortunately for the authors, this isn’t a rule set in stone for all designers, specially on your first book, usually published by small companies, so you must pay attention to what is presented to you and, if you feel that need, just say no to that particular cover project. Do not hesitate. It is your work on the line, do not be afraid to make your opinion known. You need to hear the specialists, of course, and heed their advice, but you should make your opinion very clear, or you’ll risk being disappointed with the final result.

One book or a series of books?

This is an important question, which the author has to answer as soon as possible. When you’re doing a series of books, a general plan for all of those covers should be made, so they have the same style and look good on a shelf (be it in the bookstore, library or at home). That may not seem very significant, but it can make all the difference to your audience. If this isn’t carefully planned or thought out, your reader might in turn think: why should I buy the next book? There is a statistically greater tendency to acquire the whole series if the books match somehow, becoming visually interesting or appealing.
Therefore, when you’re planning covers for a series of books, it’s important that each one of them not only shows the individuality of that particular book, but also, shows an obvious relationship with the others, keeping some graphic elements that may be a part of the entire series’ covers.

And how about e-books?

The Internet is, without a doubt, a great place to spread the word, but it’s not enough. Good reviews are great and can help you in consolidating your audience. However, the cover is always the first thing people see and one of the main reasons why they will get interested or curious and try to learn more about your book. With e-books in particular, this isn’t at all different. In fact, a good cover is always fundamental, a staple even, and in web stores like Amazon, you should even go so far as to think about another small point: does your cover look good in a thumbnail? It wouldn’t hurt!

And… how about the publisher?

The publisher logo or identification is quite important as well and those can even be an influence on the readers, as to whether to buy the book. The cover itself and the book’s spine are privileged spaces for this and should often include both the publisher’s name and logo. Many times, the publishers work on a collection basis, and each one of these collections will include books written by many different authors and should have some commonality among them, which can also be displayed. It’s important to discuss all these details with your publisher before reaching and taking a final decision.

A cover must look professional, otherwise your readers will think you’re an amateur and ignore your work. Most of the public will believe that a book with a very poor cover generally isn’t worth their time, so you must choose carefully, both the cover’s theme and the designer. A good understanding between the author and the designer is paramount, especially in self publishing. Never forget that a bad cover can actually harm, or even ruin, years of hard work.