Recently Answered Questions:



Q. – 

Angela,

There are some websites that offer “tracking services” for an author’s queries. Should I use these or are they a waste of time and money?


A. –

I’m not a fan of tracking services. Writers can use a simple spreadsheet to track submissions. And, most of those types of services charge a fee. Why pay someone to do something you can do for free on your own computer?

Tracking services typically publish paying markets for writers, as well as some freelance jobs. They charge writers (usually a monthly or annual fee) to access those listings. Then, writers can apply for those writing assignments through the tracking service’s website. A database keeps track of the applications writers submit and their software can then show the writer that data in different forms (lists, pie charts, etc.).

The problem is, the more paying clients (writers) belong to that service, the more each market gets flooded with submissions. So, if Tracking Service A posts a paying market, and shows it to their 5,000 paying members, that market may receive hundreds or thousands of submissions in a short period of time. So, you’ve essentially paid that tracking service to create more competition for yourself. Naturally, this will lead to a much higher rejection rate than if you’d found markets on your own that aren’t getting pinged by numerous writers in a short period of time.

Also, writers can get so caught up in the “newest” site that offers submission tracking (“Ooooh! Pie charts and bar graphs!!”) that they spend very little time actually querying and writing. They’re too busy looking at statistics, chatting with other writers online, and not really getting any money-making work done.

In my opinion, a writers’ time is better spent querying non-swamped editors and publishers.

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Use Magazine Vendor Websites To Find New Paying Markets For Writers!

Science Writing: A Lucrative Niche (with Paying Markets)

More Q&A with Angela!



The Do-It-Yourselfer's Guide to Self-Syndication


Practical resource outlining the self-syndication process, step-by-step. Packed with detailed information and useful tips for writers looking to gain readership, name recognition, publication and self-syndication for their column or articles.

http://writersweekly.com/books/4693.html



 



Yes, online book promoting can be EASY and FUN! Let us show you how, from Day 1 through Day 90…and beyond!



 

Q –

Angela,

Rather than go for your full-service publishing program, I signed up for your DIY program at BookLocker.com, hoping to do the work myself to save money. But, after seeing an ad from a firm that promised 5-day turn-around and really cheap prices on cover design and interior formatting, I decided to have them handle those tasks for my book. It’s now been 40 days and there’s no end in sight to their excuses.

I believe they send their work overseas, and act as a middle-man with the authors. I learned my lesson and will not go the easy route on the next books I write (two are currently in process).

What do you suggest I do to hurry them along?

J.R.


A –

You may get lucky and they may finish the job this week. If they don’t, you might consider threatening to expose their poor practices online. That might get them moving faster. There’s the unfortunate possibility that they may never finish the job at all. It’s not unusual for a contractor, who’s in over his or her head, to bolt, and stop responding to the person who hired them.

We’re seeing this more and more since we launched BookLocker’s DIY Program over a year ago. There are lots of “cheap” cover and formatting services available online. And, you’re right. Many of them subcontract work out overseas where the labor can be very inexpensive. But, the language barrier alone can cause problems, especially when authors are requesting editing changes to their interior file and cover text.

When an author allows us to format their book, and to design their cover, we usually get a book to market in less than a month. Authors who hire outside designers (who often have hidden fees) usually end up paying more in the end and the books are almost never ready in a month. Furthermore, those files almost always arrive with numerous errors. We must then send the author a note with a list of the formatting and cover errors. This results in another round of delays, and another, and another. And often, the “cheap” firm charges the author for the corrections even when the errors were not the author’s fault. They may even threaten to stop work until additional money is paid. If an author had paid a few hundred dollars, they’ll likely risk paying a little more in the hopes they won’t lose their entire investment in the end. I’ve received numerous complaints over the years of designers, artists, editors and others holding an author’s files hostage until additional money is paid.

Sometimes, the files designed by third parties arrive at our company perfect the first time but that is rare.

We try to warn authors up-front about hiring third parties they stumble upon online but there are lots of folks on a budget and I understand they’re trying to save money.

Unfortunately, if you hire a person who may have a pretty website, but who ultimately don’t know what they’re doing, you can end up paying far more to publish your book then you originally planned, and your book may be delayed by several weeks or even months while you wait for them to try to get the job done right (or get it done at all!).

When you’re considering using a cheap service to work on your book, ask them for a list of names of books they’ve worked on. Don’t ask them for a list of references. They’ll likely be fake references – a list of their family and friends who will lie for them. Rather, take the list of books, find them on Amazon, Google the authors’ names, and try to find those authors’ websites.

Write to the authors directly, on your own, and ask them how their experience was. You might find out that the service was more expensive than they claimed and that their book was published after significant delay. Worse, you might find out that service never worked on that book at all. Or, you may learn that the firm did excellent work. Don’t contact just one author. Contact several.

You can read about BookLocker’s DIY program (and others) here.

You can read about BookLocker’s Payment Plan Program here.

If you want to have your book printed yourself, and if you’re looking for a good firm that produces quality covers and interior files at a reasonable price, check out our PubPreppers.com division.

As always, whenever an author uses one of our firms, they retain ALL rights to their files. Most publishers do NOT give authors all rights to their files. Even some designers, formatters, and artists retain rights, which forces the author to hire them again, and again, and again each time they want to make changes to their files. It’s an abhorable practice but it’s become the norm in the industry.

Again, BookLocker.com and PubPreppers.com authors retain ALL rights to their production files.

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Plagiarism…or Work-for-Hire?

How to Go Broke AFTER You Publish Your Book! (Hint: Buy your publisher’s worthless marketing products and services…)



The Do-It-Yourselfer's Guide to Self-Syndication


Practical resource outlining the self-syndication process, step-by-step. Packed with detailed information and useful tips for writers looking to gain readership, name recognition, publication and self-syndication for their column or articles.

http://writersweekly.com/books/4693.html



 



Yes, online book promoting can be EASY and FUN! Let us show you how, from Day 1 through Day 90…and beyond!



 

Q. –

Angela,

Please read THIS ARTICLE 

What is Amazon up to now?


A. –

Yeah, I saw that on Tuesday. Amazon is allowing resellers to “win” buy buttons on their book pages, which means some books will no longer be for sale directly through Amazon. The resellers are only allowed to do this with “brand new” books. But, what does that mean exactly and how will this affect publishers, authors, and literary agents?

Amazon has reiterated to Publisher’s Weekly that they only allow resellers to list books if they are “brand new.”

But, what does “brand new” mean? Is it a book that has never been read? Could it be a used book in excellent condition? Could it be a remaindered book that’s also in excellent condition? Let’s face it…there are tons of resellers on Amazon selling “brand new” books that are anything but! I know because I’ve bought “brand new” books from Amazon resellers that not only weren’t new, but had frayed pages and notes written in them!

HOW THIS CAN AFFECT TRADITIONALLY PUBLISHED BOOKS:

Traditional publishers, traditionally published authors, and literary agents appear to be upset because Amazon’s resellers can buy wholesale or remaindered books at a fraction of the original cost, and sell them as new (since, essentially, they haven’t been read so they are “new” copies).

When a publisher sells a book to a retailer, they credit the literary agent or author with the royalties. If the book has an agent, the royalties are paid to the agent, who then sends the author’s portion to them. Many traditionally published authors don’t have literary agents so they are paid directly by the publisher.

When a book is remaindered, it’s typically returned to the publisher, who then gives the books a remainder mark (a magic marker slash made across the pages of a closed book near the spine), and sells them to a wholesaler, who will then sell these now-non-returnable books at a fraction of the original cost. When these books were initially “returned” to the publisher, they gave credit to the bookstore for the returned books, and they then deducted the royalties from their authors future payments.

But, what if a bookstore requests a credit from the publisher, and then sends those remainders to a wholesaler on behalf of the publisher? What if they do NOT mark those books as remainders? These books then appear to be “brand new.” They can be purchased by an Amazon reseller, and sold as brand new, despite the fact that the publisher, agent and author have now not earned any money on the sale of those books (or a fraction of what they’d have earned if the books were never remaindered).

To put it succinctly, two things have traditional publishers, authors, and agents up in arms about this:

1. Resellers may be putting these books up for sale online, which compete with brand new books that were previously sold directly by Amazon. Publishers, agents, and authors earn far less on these copies in the end…or nothing at all.

2. Many folks are perfectly happy ordering from Amazon directly but they don’t know these resellers and, thus, may not trust them. So, not having a book available for order directly through Amazon hurts sales.

HOW THIS CAN AFFECT SELF-PUBLISHED BOOKS MANUFACTURED THROUGH PRINT ON DEMAND TECHNOLOGY?:

For many print on demand book listings, these resellers are listing “new” books for sale that…don’t even exist yet. Yes, that’s right. They won’t order a copy from the distributor or publisher until/unless somebody orders a copy of that book from them. Only then will they place an order themselves. This is bad because it encourages the resellers to hijack the Amazon pages with “brand new” books for sale that, again, don’t even exist yet.

When Amazon removes their buy button, and instead refers book buyers to these resellers, they’re hurting book sales for print on demand books because, again, many people are comfortable buying from Amazon directly but far fewer trust unknown resellers on Amazon’s site. Also, if Amazon isn’t selling a book directly, that may create doubt in the buyer’s mind about the quality of that book itself.

This is just another example of Amazon doing business that hurts authors and publishers. People who don’t like it should buy their books directly from the publisher, or from a different online book retailer, like BarnesandNoble.com, Powells.com, or chapters.indigo.ca. Many authors sell books directly through their own websites so please consider that option as well when shopping for books online.

Do you have a writing- or publishing-related question for Angela? Contact her RIGHT HERE.

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My book costs $2700 on Amazon!? What?!?!

More writing and publishing Q&A!



The Do-It-Yourselfer's Guide to Self-Syndication


Practical resource outlining the self-syndication process, step-by-step. Packed with detailed information and useful tips for writers looking to gain readership, name recognition, publication and self-syndication for their column or articles.

http://writersweekly.com/books/4693.html



 



Yes, online book promoting can be EASY and FUN! Let us show you how, from Day 1 through Day 90…and beyond!



 

Q –

I heard about your quarterly 24-hour short story contest online but, before signing up, I was wondering if there’s a place I can read past winners.

Marie


A –

The WritersWeekly Quarterly 24-Hour Short Story Contest is in its 17th year! The premise is simple. The contest topic is sent out via email (and posted online) at 12:00 p.m. (noon) central time on the day of the contest. Registered entrants then have 24 hours to write and submit their story to us via email.

Yes, you can read past winners of the contest, as well as all past topics, HERE.

PRIZES –

1st place: $300
2nd place: $250
3rd place: $200
+ 85 other prizes

Only 500 writers may participate in each contest.

The entry fee is only $5.

You can sign up RIGHT HERE.

RELATED:

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Topic, Common Themes, and Winners of the WritersWeekly.com Winter, 2017 24-Hour Short Story Contest!

Are You a Short Story Writer? Publish your short story collections in book form!

 



The Do-It-Yourselfer's Guide to Self-Syndication


Practical resource outlining the self-syndication process, step-by-step. Packed with detailed information and useful tips for writers looking to gain readership, name recognition, publication and self-syndication for their column or articles.

http://writersweekly.com/books/4693.html





Yes, online book promoting can be EASY and FUN! Let us show you how, from Day 1 through Day 90…and beyond!



 

Q –

Why is my book listed for $2700 on Amazon?!?!


A –

I looked at your book’s page on Amazon and it is out of print (no longer on the market). That means your publisher has ceased publishing/selling that book, and has alerted either the distributor or Amazon itself directly about the terminated status of your title.

Amazon does not remove old books pages for out-of-print books. Rather, they allow resellers to sell used copies of books on their site forever, even if no used copies of that book actually exist. The listings are all database driven. No human typed in that ridiculous price for your book.

These databases may continuously search for other sources from which to purchase out of print books. If there are very few (or no) copies available, the database may price that book exorbitantly high. The reseller may figure, if some person is willing to pay them $2700 for a paperback book, they’d certainly be willing to move Heaven and Earth to try to find an old copy of it. Of course, nobody is going to purchase a paperback for $2700.

Since these database errors are so prominent on Amazon, you’ll see all sorts of books by unknown (and known) authors, both active and out of print, priced at out-of-this-world prices. And, contacting those firms to try to get those listings fixed or removed will do no good whatsoever. Most will just ignore your correspondence.

Rest assured that these prices are NOT your publisher’s fault. They have no control of the resale cost of “used” books listed for sale by other firms.

Angela

Have a question for Angela? Fire off a message to her RIGHT HERE

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What’s The Secret to Ongoing, Consistent BOOK SALES?

BookLocker’s Publishing Packages and Prices

 



The Do-It-Yourselfer's Guide to Self-Syndication


Practical resource outlining the self-syndication process, step-by-step. Packed with detailed information and useful tips for writers looking to gain readership, name recognition, publication and self-syndication for their column or articles.

http://writersweekly.com/books/4693.html



 



Yes, online book promoting can be EASY and FUN! Let us show you how, from Day 1 through Day 90…and beyond!



 

Q. –

“My three books (it’s a series) are on Amazon and other bookstore websites. I set up a small website. I have been mentioning my book to family and friends once a week on Facebook. So, why aren’t my books selling?”


A .-

I sent these follow-up questions to the author:

Are you collecting email addresses (opt-in only!) of people who are interested in your book’s topic?

Are you creating a weekly newsletter and are you sending that to your subscribers?

If you don’t have a newsletter, are you blogging at least once a week, and notifying your email list whenever you post a new entry?

Are you on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Pinterest, or any other social media sites?

Have you set up a Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media accounts that are dedicated solely to promoting your book?

Are you practicing “comment marketing” to promote your books?

Are you doing anything else at all to promote your book?

The author responded:

That all seems like a lot of work. I am currently working on book #4 of the series.

I responded:

It’s never a good idea to keep writing more and more books for a series that isn’t selling. You should take several months off from writing to promote the books you already have on the market.

My answer to your original question is simple. Your books aren’t selling because you are not promoting them. Putting a book on Amazon isn’t going to automatically result in book sales. Posting a weekly reminder to family and friends isn’t going to sell books. While this may be difficult to hear, they’re probably tired of hearing about your books by now. If they haven’t bought one yet, they’re not going to.

If you have a one-page website that doesn’t have a free excerpt, and other website sections designed to actively excite and engage your potential readers, nobody is going to come back to your website.

Find numerous creative and fun ways to excite and engage potential readers while promoting your books in 90+ DAYS OF PROMOTING YOUR BOOK ONLINE: Your Book’s Daily Marketing Plan.

RELATED:

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HELP! I’m Failing at Social Media Book Promotion!

BookLocker’s Packages and Prices

The Do-It-Yourselfer’s Guide to Self-Syndication



Yes, online book promoting can be EASY and FUN! Let us show you how, from Day 1 through Day 90…and beyond!



 

Q. –

“Do you have a guess on how well my type of book would sell?”

– George H.


A. –

I receive this question almost daily from new authors and it’s virtually impossible to answer. It’s like asking how many bluebonnets will bloom in a field without knowing the time of year, the condition of the soil, the weather forecast, or even the location of that field. There could be a thousand bluebonnets…or there could be none. No two fields would yield the same because there are far too many other factors involved.

Some authors think if they publish a book in a specific genre that they can expect sales similar to other books in that genre. But, other authors also serving that genre may have a pre-existing fan base, and/or may work much harder or efficiently at promoting their brand and their book. They may get lucky, and get significant press while other authors in the same genre are ignored. Two books that compete directly with each other can range from thousands of dollars in sales each year to zero sales, despite the fact that both may have excellent writing, plot twists, etc.

Bill Henderson, the author of Cancer-Free: Your Guide to Gentle, Non-toxic Healing, distributed a weekly newsletter, had a weekly online radio show, and offered phone consultations on his book’s topic. Sadly, he passed last year but his wife and a colleague have kept up with the book’s promotional activities. He sold FAR more books than authors of other books on that topic because, unlike most authors, Bill treated book promotion as a full-times business. He didn’t stop promoting a new book after two or three months, and start writing a new one. He wrote one book for the same audience, and spent years promoting it, never letting up, and never getting bored since the sales continued to roll in. He did release new, updated editions over the years, as well as a Spanish-language edition.

Online book promotion can have a residual effect because anybody searching for information on that topic can find mentions of the book years later. As a result, Cancer-free has been one of BookLocker.com‘s bestsellers since the first edition was published more than a decade ago! As I’m writing this, it’s still the #1 best selling print book on the site.

Unfortunately, most authors do little to no promotion. They may come out of the gate like gangbusters in the beginning but, if they don’t see immediately sales (building a brand can take awhile!), they may get bored, and move on to writing the next book.

Some authors expect fame and fortune to fall in their laps by chance. That just doesn’t happen. Some authors think dumping their book on Amazon will mean instant sales. That’s also not going to happen. Amazon has millions of books for sale. If you don’t promote it, nobody will know it’s there. Period.

A book’s sales potential depends entirely on: 1. the book itself; and 2. the author’s marketing savvy and efforts. Listing a book on a particular large website won’t automatically generate sales. The author must promote the book in order for it to be successful. This is true for self-published and traditionally published titles. Traditional publishers do little to no promotion for unknown/new authors now. They take a gamble that a book may or may not take off. They run with the ones that do, and generally abandon the ones that don’t. Of course, the ones that do are by authors who are promoting them creatively and consistently.

Every Booklocker.com author receives a free copy of our book, 90+ Days of Promoting Your Book Online.

Anyone can buy the book, of course, but BookLocker authors get a copy for free.

Many POD publishers upsell authors to the tune of thousands of dollars on products/services that will never result in enough book sales to pay for those products/services (which is why those publishers don’t offer those services for free). We call those POD publishers “author meat markets” – they suck as much money as they can out of an author’s wallet before moving on to the next author. BookLocker.com does not do business that way. We know what works and what doesn’t and we’re not going to sell marketing products and services that are proven to be a waste of time and money.

If you want to pay someone to promote your book, it’s a better idea to pay a book publicist directly than to hire a fee-based book publishing service to perform marketing duties. If you need a referral to a book publicist please let me know.

If you are self-publishing, find out how many copies of your book you’ll need to sell to break even RIGHT HERE.

RELATED:

Is Amazon REALLY Giving Authors Accurate Sales Numbers?? Read This!

There Are Really Only 2 Ways To Accurately Estimate Your Book Sales

Don’t Give Amazon (or anyone else) the Power to Put You Out of Business!

90+ DAYS OF PROMOTING YOUR BOOK ONLINE: Your Book’s Daily Marketing Plan

Don’t Fool Yourself About Poor Book Sales

The Do-It-Yourselfer’s Guide to Self-Syndication



Yes, online book promoting can be EASY and FUN! Let us show you how, from Day 1 through Day 90…and beyond!



 

Q. –

I ordered cover design for my paperback cover. Now, my publisher is trying to convince me to buy a separate ebook cover. This doesn’t make any sense to me. I already have a cover! Am I just not understanding how the business works?

– Lisa


A. –

If your publisher has already created a print cover for your book (paperback or hardcover), and if they are now trying to upsell you on ebook cover design, you’re getting ripped off. Putting a cover on an ebook is as easy as copying and pasting the front cover only from the print cover file, saving it as a different file, and using that in the ebook, as well as on retailer websites, like Amazon, BarnesandNoble.com, and others.

Many publishers, desperate for cash since so many are going under these days, are finding very creative ways to upsell authors on completely worthless “services.” If you (or anyone reading this) ever sees something weird on their publisher’s website, or in their publisher’s correspondence, let me know. I’ll tell you if it’s a legitimate service, or if you’re about to get scammed.

RELATED:

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Possible Scam – Smart Author Avoids Possible Dangerous Situation



The Do-It-Yourselfer's Guide to Self-Syndication


Practical resource outlining the self-syndication process, step-by-step. Packed with detailed information and useful tips for writers looking to gain readership, name recognition, publication and self-syndication for their column or articles.

http://writersweekly.com/books/4693.html



 



Yes, online book promoting can be EASY and FUN! Let us show you how, from Day 1 through Day 90…and beyond!



 

Q.-

I just finished writing my memoir. One person I write about extensively in my book is in prison. Everything I wrote it absolutely true but he’s not going to like it. Since he’s in prison, he can’t sue me, right?


A.-

I am not an attorney. I’m just someone who’s been in the publishing business for 18 years and I’ve seen pretty much anything and everything, including authors getting sued after penning facts about past incidents in their lives. Please consult with an attorney for legal advice.

Just because someone is in prison doesn’t mean they can’t, or won’t, sue you. If they find out about your book, read it, and don’t like what you’ve written about them, yes, they can definitely sue you. And, since prisoners have a lot of time on their hands, he may very well decide to make your life miserable.

Not all attorneys are upstanding corporate citizens and many are happy to file frivolous lawsuits, hoping for a quick settlement and, subsequently, a quick payday.

If this person is violent, they may pursue something more daunting than a legal challenge to your book so you need to be very careful. Many authors, intent on sharing their stories with the world, insist that “telling the truth” will prevent any lawsuit but nothing could be further from the truth. The legal fees associated with just one lawsuit can bankrupt someone, even if you win in the end.

Before you decide to publish your book, I encourage you to hire an attorney to review your entire manuscript. You might consider writing under a pseudonym, and changing the names and locations of people and incidents in your story. However, even that won’t protect you if anyone reads that book, and can figure who he is. Another option is to completely fictionalize the events, and publishing it as a novel. You can even include a statement like this on the copyright page as part of your fiction disclaimer: “This novel is loosely based on actual events.” If you do that, I still encourage you to write under a pseudonym.

RELATED:

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Boldly Assuming You “Can’t Be Sued” Will Likely Lead to a Lawsuit

Well, Excuuuuuse Me for Trying to Protect You From a Lawsuit!

Featuring Real People in Your Writing? Protect Yourself From Lawsuits!

Don’t Invite a Lawsuit with Your Memoir

Read More Ask The Expert





 

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