Second Round of Proofs for “The Good Book”

The Good Book: A Novelette by David Keener I just ordered a second round of proofs for my new novelette, “The Good Book.” I fixed the (minor) problems that I found in the first draft, plus added in the changes from the second round of copyedits. Many thanks to Donna Royston for all her help. I should get the proofs by May 5th.

Since I’m pretty confident in this final edition, I ordered five proofs, which is the maximum. If all goes well, I’ll be publishing on or around May 5th and probably handing out the extra copies to some of my critique partners.

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Manassas Reads 2017: A Community Book Festival

Manassas Reads: A Community Book FestivalMy friend, Martin Wilsey, just clued me in that there’s an upcoming community book festival called Manassas Reads. It’s on May 6, 2017, the day after my new anthology, Worlds Enough: Fantastic Defenders, is going to be published. It’s being held from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM at the Harris Pavilion, located at 9201 Center Street in Manassas, VA.

Now, Marty is basically a marketing guru, and he’s going to be there selling copies of his own books, as well as the new anthology. This might be the first festival that I attend as an author with actual published works. Of course, what I’ll really be doing is learning the fine art of marketing and self promotion from someone who’s refined it to an art.

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Zombie Anthology

Whispers of the ApocI’ve been invited to participate in a new zombie anthology called Whispers of the Apoc, edited by Martin Wilsey. I’m even consulting on the bible for the anthology, because one of Marty’s goals is for the anthology to share a common, consistent background.

For more details on the anthology, check out the notice on Marty’s blog. The book is being published through Tannhauser Press.

For me, well, that short-circuited my (crazy) plan to publish a zombie story in installments on my web site (see Manhattan Zombies, which I’m renaming as SkyriZe). Getting paid trumps free installments on my blog. Um, sorry.

So, bring on the zombie apocalypse!

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Proof of “The Good Book”

The proof copy of the print edition of my novelette, “The Good Book,” arrived from Amazon today. You probably can’t imagine how excited I was to see that slim, cardboard package waiting for me when I got home from my day job (the one that pays the bills).

While I’ve had some of my stories appear in anthologies, this is the first story I’ve shepherded through the indie publishing process personally. I enlisted other the help of others for cover design and copyediting, but I was responsible for the interior layout and final polish on the wraparound cover.

So, it was with some trepidation that I opened that cardboard sleeve. I pulled out the slim volume inside…and it looked good. Real good.

The cover was laid out perfectly. This is always a challenge, especially for a wraparound cover, because you have to account for the width of the spine. And that varies based on the number of pages in the book.

The book looked ready for publication…but then I found two typos that had made it though copyediting. I’ve fixed them, but I’m still having a quick, final copyedit done. As an author doing indie publishing, my product must be professional…as good, or even better, than the products produced by traditional publishers.

I’ll soon be ordering another proof copy. If that meets my standards, then I’ll launch the ebook and print edition of the book simultaneously on Amazon.

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The Good Book

Wooohooo! My novelette “The Good Book” is being published this month by Tannhauser Press, in both print and ebook formats. The full wraparound cover appears below:

The Good Book by David Keener

The print layout and ebook were done by Worlds Enough. The cover was done by Don Anderson, based on an unattributed, public domain photograph.

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Coming Soon: Tranquility and Other Myths

Tranquility and Other Myths, Full Cover

My (very) short story, “Winter Roses,” will be appearing in the upcoming anthology, Tranquility and Other Myths.” The anthology will be published in April, 2017. Here’s hoping you get a kick out of the full cover above, which was put together by John Dwight (including the back cover verbiage).

Seventeen stories of light, night and the writhing shadows. Indeed.

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The Shortest Fight

This is easily the shortest fight scene I’ve ever written in one of my stories. It’s from “The Rooftop Game,” a 16K word novelette of mine that will be appearing in May in the anthology, “Worlds Enough: Fantastic Defenders.”

The basic premise is “Die Hard, on the roof of a castle tower.” While the King is away, the castle the royal family is staying in is overrun. Unable to escape, Lydio Malik, the Royal Bodyguard for the infant Princess Analisa, takes refuge on the roof of a tower where his enemies will have trouble getting to him.

This is the scene:

   The Kashmal fighter heaved himself over the edge of the roof, lunged to a standing position, drew his sword and took a step towards Malik.
   The fighter’s forward boot slipped on the wet tile where Malik had urinated only a few moments before. He fell forward, audibly cracking his chin as he landed face first on the orange roof tiles. Stunned, he dropped his sword, which slid off the roof, followed almost immediately by the screaming rebel warrior.
   A few seconds later, there was a thud and clatter as the fighter hit the ground below.
   Malik couldn’t help grinning. All of his fights should be that easy.

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Writing Tips: Anthology Roles

Creating a quality anthology is a complex project, especially an indie-published anthology. Through painful experience, I’ve learned that it is most effectively accomplished by a dedicated team. I thought it would be useful to others if I defined the roles that I think are necessary for the production of a successful indie-published anthology.

It’s worth noting that, in addition to these roles, other people may provide services for a project, such as a cover artist, a photographer for author biography photos, an illustrator, etc. In practice, I’ve also found that participants may swap some tasks around a bit. Still, the roles are generally as I’ve outlined.

Project Manager: Manages the anthology as a project, starting with the creation of a project plan that defines the activities necessary to create the anthology and a realistic timeline for those activities. Ensures that all necessary roles are filled on the project. Responsible for ensuring that content contracts are signed and rights are properly secured, by contract or by usage agreement, for other elements such as graphics, photos, illustrations and the cover. Often referred to as the “Chief Cat Herder.” Sometimes functions as the “Bad Cop.”

  • Contracts
  • Timeline
  • Project Management

Editor: Responsible for the content of the anthology, including story selection and editorial input on stories. Also writes the “Call for Stories,” which publicizes the anthology theme, payment plan and submission guidelines. Writes the “Introduction” for the anthology. Responsible for nagging contributors to get their stories or edits “done by the due date or they’ll face the wrath of the Project Manager.” Sometimes referred to as the “Good Cop.”

  • Call for Stories
  • Provides an “Introduction” for the anthology
  • Provides Editorial Input on all stories

Copy Editor: Does an exhaustive scan of the anthology content for typos, text problems, grammar mistakes and other issues that would detract from the content. Also responsible for copyediting related content, including back cover text, blurbs, advertisements and author biographies. Often referred to as “Donna Royston.”

  • Edits content for typos and grammatical issues

Book Designer, Print: Professional-caliber books are designed, especially indie-published books that need to stand out from competitors. The book designer lays out the copyedited content in a pleasing and effective design, which can be painstaking work.

  • Designs the print edition, including layout, fonts, graphic elements, illustrations, photos, etc.
  • Orders proofs from Amazon as needed to verify print quality.

Book Designer, Ebook: The ebook designer lays out the copyedited content in a pleasing and effective design, emulating the print design as much as is feasible due to the limitations of the Kindle’s mobi format.

  • Designs the Kindle ebook edition.
  • Tests the design in HTML, in the Kindle Previewer, the Kindle Reader and any
    Kindle devices that are accessible to the designer.

Marketing: Creates any necessary marketing materials for the anthology, including the back cover blurb, the Amazon blurb, etc. Sets the pricing strategy for the anthology, including pricing for the various editions as well as any pricing for marketing campaigns.

  • Back Cover Blurb
  • Amazon Blurb
  • Pricing, for all editions including ebook, print and audio (if any)
  • Marketing Activities
  • Initial Wholesale Order

Author: There is no anthology without content. Authors provide the content, as well as edits to that content and approval/rejection of copyedit changes. Authors are expected to deliver their stories in a timely manner and respond to editorial input and copyedit changes in a timely manner.

  • Provides a Story
  • Provides an Author Biography
  • Provides an Author Photo (or allows one to be taken)
  • Signs a contract for any content provided
  • Responds to Editorial Changes
  • Responds to Copyedit Changes
  • Assists in promotional activities for the anthology when published
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State of the Publishing Industry in 2016

Author Earnings is a (free) web site run by best-selling writer Hugh Howey and the anonymous data analyst known only as Data Guy. For the last few years, they have spidered Amazon’s online bestseller lists, as well as other sites, on a quarterly basis. Basically, using some pretty advanced data collection and analysis techniques, they’ve assembled the best look at what is really going on in terms of sales of books in the United States.

Last week, Data Guy was invited to do a keynote presentation at the Digital Book World conference, which is now online for everybody to view. I have taken some time to digest his presentation, which includes some startling findings. Especially in light of the fact that the October 2016 Earnings Report showed a slight, but unexplained, downturn in ebook sales.

The best graphic from the presentation was this one, which illustrates what Amazon did to traditional publishers in 2016:

Slide 13: Amazon Eats Traditional Publishers and Retailers

For easier discussion, I’ve divided my takeaways into distinct categories…

Market Size

The traditional publishers have virtually no understanding of the size of the book market in US. And the data vendors they depend on are only slightly better. Data Guy’s collection/analysis techniques are not rocket science, but the principles they’re using are alien to organizations like Bookscan, Nielsen and others that the traditional publishers relay on to make business decisions.

  • Even 15% of traditional publisher sales are not being recorded at the point of sale.
  • For traditional publishers, 49% of their sales are digital, but their pricing strategies are designed to preserve the profitability of their print products. Despite the fact that they make more money per sale off ebooks. So they’re using a more profitable format to bolster up the sales of a less profitable format.
  • Overall, Adult Fiction is 42% non-traditional. And 70% of Adult Fiction sold is digital. For the record, digital formats aren’t sold in brick & mortar stores, so this means that 70% of the action is online. As an author, do you even have to be in bookstores to be successful? Especially if you’re a debut author or a mid-list author?
  • In 2016, 14% of all ebook sales were Kindle Unlimited (KU) full-read equivalents. KU is Amazon’s subscription service for online books. Nobody else has tracked this area of the market except Data Guy.

Print is Back

  • In 2016, US print sales grew 3.3%. BUT all channels declined except for Amazon. So “Print is Back” really translates into “Amazon is eating the lunch of Traditional Publishers and Brick & Mortar Retailers.”
  • Ebook sales are not shrinking. They only stopped growing for traditional publishers because of stupid pricing ($14.99 for an ebook!) and Amazon print discounts.In actuality, Amazon’s ebook sales grew 4% in 2016. Traditional publishers are losing market share to indie published writers and Amazon imprints./li>
  • Print sales ticked up in 2016 because of Amazon. Unable to discount ebook prices thanks to publisher-enforced contract terms, Amazon discounted ebooks so they were often lower than the (ridiculously high) ebook prices set by traditional publishers. This caused publishers to sell more print books…instead of more profitable ebooks, which in turn affected their overall earnings.
  • 43% of all print sales occur online, with the majority going to Amazon.

Should Authors Go Traditional or Indie?

  • Print-book customers are migrating away from venues where indie authors cannot compete effectively toward venues where indies can compete effectively, with less risk, with digital upsells, better pricing and outlearn traditional authors on every sale.
  • Overall, Adult Fiction is 42% non-traditional. And 70% of Adult Fiction sold is digital. For the record, digital formats aren’t sold in brick & mortar stores, so this means that 70% of the action is online. As an author, do you even have to be in bookstores to be successful? Especially if you’re a debut author or a mid list author?

Where Did the Coloring Books Go?

Coloring Books emerged as a major new profit area for traditional publishers. Then it disappeared almost overnight. Where did it go? Data Guy has the answer…

Well, it went indie. It seems that indie authors and artists can produce coloring books faster, cheaper and more effectively than traditional publishers.

Conclusion

If you’re a debut author, it’s probably better to start indie, build an audience and go hybrid if a publisher provides a sufficiently lucrative contract (this includes potentially being picked up by an Amazon imprint).

If you’re an indie author, the market has gotten both better and tougher at the same time. The bad news is that, in order to be competitive, indie products must be comparable…or better…than products from traditional publishers. The good news is that most sales are happening online, and in digital formats, so authors with traditional publisher support getting into bookstores are increasingly on a level playing field with indie authors.

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Inspiration: Dandelion Dreams

Dandelion Dreams

I just love this picture. Hope you do, too.

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