There is dissent in the office... We are looking for a generic cover design for our shorter stories and can’t decide. Please help us. Which one do you like best? Click here to vote. You'll be sent to our Facebook page to vote, do it, do it now!
* These are fictional titles and names for now. The photos will change depending on the story.
For more info on what we will be publishing, go to www.word-smack.com
Thursday, 29 August 2013
Wednesday, 28 August 2013
Self-publishing versus traditional publishing
The blogosphere is full of articles about self-publishing versus traditional publishing. And I love how self-publishing has shaken up the (very) cobwebby industry, so here are my two cents worth:
Firstly, let me quickly explain what I mean by traditional publishing. Traditional publishing is done by either a large publishing house (think Penguin, Pearson, Pan Macmillan, etc.) or a smaller independent publisher (like Wordsmack). These publishers pay authors a royalty. The royalty percentage differs from publisher to publisher, but most pay 10%-15% although this is changing with the advent of epublishing. There are also vanity publishers who publish your books for a fee – this is a completely different form of publishing that is not being discussed here.
So, what exactly does a publisher do for you?
Firstly, you get a brutally honest answer about whether your story is worth publishing or saving. Fear of rejection, I guess, is why a lot of people self-publish … I had a long conversation with an author who said that all authors should self-publish because publishers take too big a cut. A few weeks later, I see she has found a publisher …
Secondly, if your book is accepted, you have a company who backs you, who believes in you and who wants to make you the best writer you can be. A lot of very big publishers might not cultivate young talent, but there are small publishers, like us, whose goal in life is to develop new authors and a writing community in Africa. That, and winning the lottery, the European lottery.
Thirdly, and this is the most important, there are all the costs that the publisher carries: editing, proofreading, cover design, typesetting, illustrations/photos, marketing, etc. You don’t pay for anything and if you do, you are with a vanity publisher. Therefore, publishers have a vested interest, they want your book to sell and sell well. If your book doesn’t sell, the publisher makes a loss.
This article on one of my favourite websites explains it quite well: http://io9.com/the-7-most-common-misconceptions-about-science-fiction-1189361443
So, marketing, how hard can it be? There seems to be a lot of self-published authors who do really well. Every day there is at least one author who comes out and says how well they’ve done, how easy it was, what worked for them and tells everyone that they should do it too. However, I am sure that for every successful author, there are at least ten who aren’t successful. This could also be because their writing sucks, but often that has nothing to do with it. Some people are born self-marketers. They write blogs, are extremely active on social media, have time in the evenings to punt their books and they have connections. Most authors aren’t like this though – they love to write in their little corners at night after a long day of work, but they don’t have time or the energy for all the rest.
Friday, 23 August 2013
What happens when you send your book to a publisher?
You've put your heart and soul into a book. You've followed the submission guidelines. What happens now?
In South Africa, it gets added to a slush pile. This is because we don't have an agent model - in other countries you send it to an agent and it gets added to their slush pile - a completely different process ensues, but eventually the same applies from step 1 onwards.
In South Africa, if you're lucky, you send it to a small enough publishing house that still reads all its manuscripts. Your manuscript then goes through the following process:
It gets rejected.
OR You get some notes from the publisher, which include some suggestions, ideas and questions that you can follow, or not, and resubmit. If you resubmit and the publisher likes it enough, you can go to the next step, if not, do not pass GO.
OR The publisher wants to publish it right away. This then follows the following process:
1. You sign a letter of intent giving the publisher the sole option to publish the book.
2. The book gets sent to a professional editor who does two things:
- A developmental edit: this includes suggestions for anything from major changes to minor tweaks. This process can take weeks or months depending on the level of changes that have to be made. It includes an ongoing dialogue between you and the editor to make your story as good as possible.
- A copy edit: when the editor is happy with the manuscript, they do, basically, a very thorough proofread where they change whatever they think will make the reading of the story even better.
3. The publisher converts the manuscript into the correct format - for print: they get typesetters to typeset it in inDesign, for ebooks, they put it in whichever formats they want to publish it in (Kindle, Kobo, Nook, iBooks Author etc).
4. Proofreading: the book gets proofread by a professional proofreader and checked by the author.
5. The publisher collates these changes.
6. The changes get applied to the electronic manuscript by a typesetter.
The last three steps can be repeated until the publisher is happy with the final manuscript. How many times this is done depends on the length, the complexity and state of the book at this stage.
7. The publisher signs off the book.
8. It gets published.
This process excludes: cover design, any other design elements inside the book and the marketing drive.
Good luck with the writing!
You can't walk down the street in Cape Town without tripping over a writer's group. However, for the rest of us peasants who don't get to live in the artistic hub of Africa, it can be a bit trickier to find a group of people who can offer sage advice when it comes to our writing.
What about all those self-published authors who had their work edited by a 'friend' who also happened to be a highly successful publisher? Who has access to those people?
The answer is: you do, as of now.
Wordsmack Publishers have noticed that most of our writers are real, everyday people with jobs, kids and mortgages. Getting together in Montecasino to discuss how Frances's use of her cats as main characters in her novels is going, is just not appealing.
So we've started a blog - we'll discuss the process of being published, how you go about world-building, we'll organise events (not at Montecasino, promise) and create an online community of writers and editors that will rival anyone of those you can trip over, physically, in Cape Town.
Get ready for some good stuff!
Leani and Louise