"Simple Steps to Successful Authorship" workshop-Ojai Wordfest

     Laptop, coffee, pajamas, more coffee….that is some of what it takes for me to sit my butt in the chair and write. So say you are now finished with your manuscript (MS), one, three or ten years later. How do you prepare that MS for publication? Pat Fry of S.P.A.W.N (info below) has written since 1973 and has hundreds of magazine articles and 33 books to her name. I think she’s qualified to tell us how we can do that. Her introductory line, “Publishing is not an extension of your writing. It’s a business and fiercely competitive,” got my attention. So you finished your manuscript, now what?
     These are your choices: The big 6 publishing houses, small presses or choosing the booming industry of self publishing or as she called it, the ‘pay for publishing.’ (I’ll call it P4P). But first, be aware of the daunting 2009 USA stat which cites 76% of all published books fail. Failure is defined as selling 100 copies or less. Over 1 million books are published per year, yes per year. The Big 6 and their subsidiaries published 288 thousand, with 756 thousand self published. There are more than 90 thousand P4P’s. You want to be in that 24% who publish, right, so how do you decide?
     First, what is your genre and how does it fit into the big 6 or small presses? Pick up a book in the genre you’ve written, look inside for the publisher and determine if your MS falls into their scheme of things. Second, find an agent. Many writer’s found an agent by participating in writer’s conferences, use http://www.allconferences.com or http://writersconf.org to find conferences. They often have a pay for review of pages workshop where you can meet face to face with an agent. Get a referral from an associate. Another source is from blogs. Follow agent or publishers blogs (I follow three) to see what they’re about and whether you want to send them a query. They all have instructions on how to send the query and what genre they accept.
    Let’s say you’ve decided to go with a P4P. Don’t just Google ‘self publishing’ (remember there are thousands of them). A book by Mark Levine, “The Fine Print of Self Publishing,” is now in its 3rd Edition. He lists the outstanding ones (Aventine Press, Booklocker, and 8 more), then the good, the bad, and the ugly (Authorhouse, Publish America, Trapper, and more). I’m sure Amazon has more of the same type of books.
   Finally, educate yourself about the business of publishing: read, read, read. A place to check, or a ‘warning site’ for unscrupulous publishers are: http://www.writersweekly.com/whispers_and_warnings.php, http://www.sfwa.org/for-authors/writer-beware or for specific companies or individuals use Google, keyword ‘warning’ plus name of person or company.
     Bottom line, Pat says, you have to approach the publication of your finished MS like a business person with a business plan. Daunting yes, but very important if you want to be in the 24%. The workshop was valuable and I’d probably go to another one just for the educational refresher. But for now, excuse me, I have to go brew another pot of coffee.

Pat is the President of Small Publishers, Artists & Writers Network (SPAWN): http://www.spawn.org and she owns Matilija Press in Ojai, CA.

Tomorrow I’ll go over the ‘Ten Best Ways to Promote Your Book’ also by Pat Fry. Until then,
Write On.
    



Categories: Agents, Ojai Wordfest, Pat Fry, Publishing, Self Publishing, Writers conferences

6 replies

  1. Thank you for your excellent review and reporting of my workshop. I appreciate your attendance and boy did you pay attention.

    Thanks also for sharing some of the important points I made. Let's hope that our efforts will help add to the 24% side.

    Patricia Fry
    http://www.patriciafry.com
    http://www.matilijapress.com

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  2. I'm glad I took notes, you had a lot of material. This was my first Wordfest and look forward to more.

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  3. Thanks for visiting my blog– that's how I made my way here. What a gem of a find your blog is! Your material is so applicable to me. I have been writing for many years and have several books “started.” Not an excuse, but being a single parent extremely narrows my window of writing time. I have to be very intentional and disciplined to carve out the time I do just to blog. I have been blogging to create that audience and to see what subjects touch others, but it takes time away from my completing a book.

    Since my books have to do with the topics I blog about, I wonder if by blogging my material, if I am putting my material at risk of being stolen? Of course the pieces verbatim, are lacking in good editing, but I wonder if the raw material itself would be lifted. There are actually sites out there egging people on to steal content from fellow bloggers.

    I attended my 1st Writer's Conference last year, and felt very overwhelmed! I realized I know “NOTHING” about the real world of authoring and felt so behind, like a kindergartner being dropped into a senior year university lecture.

    Thank you for sharing so generously! I will revisit often. Lots to absorb. I also went to Patricia Fry's site and blog.

    I can also relate to the coffee, pajamas, and in my case, I add the fuzzy socks to complete my stylish look! Continued success and blessings! -Ella

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  4. Ella, I'm so glad you stopped by. I know that feeling of panic, the 'what am I doing here,” glaze that covers the eyes while you sit there looking around. The feeling passes until you get such a burst of synergy just being there.Keep going. Carve out 1 hour a day and they all add up. I'm a single parent also, I know it's difficult.
    I noticed you had a copyright symbol on your blog.Formal copyrights are registered at copyright.gov but that doesn't pertain to blogs, IMHO. I wouldn't worry about people lifting anything unless I saw it in print, in a book. Until then write on and on. Abrazos.

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  5. Do you know what the success/failure breakdown is for books published by the big six only (excluding self-published books)? Thank you for your fantastic insights. Here's to being on the success side of the stats!

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  6. The figure includes all sources, but take a look at http://www.bokerinfo.com for more stats. You'll notice that the “non-traditional” books (P4P) increased dramatically (over 2000%) from 2002-2009. It's an interesting site as it breaks down published titles in several categories.

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