Social Media for Writers

Vancouver Writer’s Mixer
December 4, 2010, 5-6:30 pm
Featuring Carol Doane:
Social Media for Writers

Saturday Carol’s got the internet wired for fun, for feedback and success! She’s the doyenne of Twitter, Facebook, Blogger, and many another virtual publicity websites.
Carol will be demonstrating the basics of navigating these treacherous technical waters.  Find out why you should dabble, even just a little, on-line. 
By the time we’re finished, you’ll be amazed and eager to get out there and start networking!  It’s so easy, even Smedley the bookstore cat tweets. Carol will touch on hot social media topics such asTwitter, Facebook, Foursquare, YouTube, Plancast and blogging.
Learn quick tips, easy to use shortcuts and what to do if you hate the idea of marketing yourself. 

Carol Doane was a top finalist in the 2010 Social Media Awards of the Pacific Northwest (SoMe Award) for her volunteer campaign for the Southwest Washington Blood Program. Winning campaigns awarded to Air New Zealand, Travelocity, PAX East, Mio Gelato, Portland Fit, Hotel Max, Mio Gelato.

She is also a published writer (chapter in Laughing Nine to Five: The Quest for Humor in the Workplace) and she has two completed fiction manuscripts now in the hands of literary agents on both coasts.

 Many, many thanks to Angst Gallery owner Leah Jackson for allowing us to hold the mixer in her venue. If you want to chat with Carol after the event we’ll be taking over the couch in Niche Wine & Art next door.

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Party starts at noon. You coming?

The party this year skews slightly vampirish because I’m asking all my friends to bring their blood. It’s a social media adventure started by  @SWBlood on Twitter. They sent me a direct message asking if I would spearhead a drive. I gave them an enthusiastic yes and started pressing friends and strangers into service.

The online appointment scheduler has a couple of open spots, so get yourself signed up! We want to fill the day to keep the Puget Sound Blood Center-Vancouver busy. And while you’re laying there saving lives you can think about all the presents you gave someone that they never used.

I realize this gift costs you something—your gas, your time to get to the center, maybe a little anxiety, but what does it cost if we do nothing? It costs someone their life.

And if you can’t come to my party, I promise there’ll be another one. The Blood-Mobile shows up at some of the finest places with juice and cookies, rockin’ music and friendly, encouraging smiles. But today, you’ll get to party with me, and that doesn’t happen very often.

Please come!

Carol’s Save a Life Birthday Party

Puget Sound Blood Center – Vancouver
9320 NE Vancouver Mall Blvd
Suite 100, Vancouver, WA 98662

Follow the Schmap to the Blood Center
Follow Google map to the Blood Center

Make your appointment online: http://bit.ly/9MBoxg

Want to, but can’t on the 31st?
Call 360-567-4800 for an alternate date.

EACH DAY our community needs 900 people to donate blood.

1. Eligibility: http://www.psbc.org/programs/blood.htm

2. First Time Donors: http://www.psbc.org/programs/drives_first_time.pdf

3. Donation FAQs: http://www.psbc.org/programs/faq.htm

If you would like to see the lives that are touched by blood donation visit the Puget Sound Blood Center patient videos page.


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Boring until the gunshot

Air damp with the night’s rain whipped through the cracked window. I took my foot off the gas to exit I-5 and rode the 179th Street off ramp down, not slowing, hoping to make the green light that gleamed at its base. I grabbed a hard left, straightened the car in the unusual August morning fog, and allowed stanchions and flags to ease me along the familiar route to the county fair grounds.

My fluorescent orange credential parking pass dangled from the rear-view mirror of my white Chevy Malibu. I flicked it with my finger until I got the attention of the safety-vested kid inside the gate. Mid yawn he waved me through.

I took the circle drive around the grounds at a steady five miles an hour above the posted limit and pulled into the parking area closest to the commercial building that housed the office. Avoiding the loose gravel, I steered the car onto the over-sized asphalt sidewalk and peered down each aisle gawking for the first row not roped off. Easy in and out access seemed to be my solitary purpose for this three-year, ego boosting, volunteer position on the county fair board.

Can’t wait for it to be over.

After shifting into park, I glanced in the mirror and mussed my wet hair. Lemon verbena wafted into the space and I closed the window, grabbed my bag, and strode toward my early morning appointment: fair safety meeting.

Boring.

Nearing the commercial building I passed a handful of carnival workers whose conversations grew silent as the sound of my clicking Ferragamo’s overtook them. What secrets could they have, I wondered, and smiled at my own. Nordstrom Rack coup, clearly a return and deeply discounted. I enjoyed the little flash of toe-buckle with each swish of my cotton cream slacks.

Inside the building I slipped past the rows of canned goods. I slung through the four-foot gate, built to keep the public at bay, and closed in on the bad coffee brewing in the break room. Last year, I’d brought fragrant gourmet grounds for our ten-consecutive day morning meetings, but I had not managed it this year. Bad economy, real job churning in constant crisis, overseeing the active social schedule of a teenager involved with boys, 4-H, and dogs sucked up all available mom brain cells and any extra time.

The round robin report on non-events had already begun. I grabbed a chair at the end of one of the scattered tables and plopped my steaming white Styrofoam cup in front of me. The previous night’s demolition derby had failed to incite any bad behavior, grand stands full, but aggressive competitors failed to pitch the cheering crowd into overload. Next. Vendor heaven after the show. Next. Volunteer Horse Patrol rode a quiet evening, no smuggled in booze. No nothing.

This has got to be the safest place in the state. I sipped the dastardly brew.

Yesterday, largest day in the carnival area, today and Sunday should go gangbusters. Next. Thirty kids participated in the Special Olympics, big thanks to Funtastic Shows for the stuffed animal prizes…

I gazed out the conference room window. I’d have nothing to add when they came to me. The fair scholarships had been awarded, and the account had not been replenished, as I knew they’d hoped. The rich cousins remained on the east coast. The outlaw cousins, my branch of the family, had fled to the wild west and never gained foothold in the lucrative trade that flourished when Fort Vancouver organized commerce in this area.

Welcome to the middle class.

My eyes skimmed over the dock dog set up. A black lab swam circles in the pool nipping at the waves he created. Paddle. Nip. Paddle. Nip. He climbed up the ramp, paused, and flung himself back into the oasis of blue.

“We lost…” I tuned back into the meeting. A lime clad Coast-to-Coast security representative said, “About 150 parking spaces due to tonight’s tough trucks and pro AM. Thirty rigs were here when I arrived at six, and they’re still pulling in.” His voice betrayed his exhilaration for the upcoming big-noise event.

Movement outside caught the corner of my eye and my attention reverted to the open stretch near the swimming dog. A fair Carney in a dirty gray t-shirt spoke with force, fists opening and closing, a dark charcoal, triangle patch visible in his arm pit area when he flapped his limbs. He glanced toward the conference room, gestured my direction.

Is he signaling me? I straightened. No, Carol Jo, it’s not always about you.

I flicked my eyes over the room. The gentle buzz of the reports continued. I twisted my pen, pretended to write and peered through the sparkling window to the glistening outdoors. The gray-shirted Carney muscled in on someone. His scuffed brown boots bit into the grass as he drug his foe into range. The younger, twenty-something kid, yanked off balance, lurched forward and pushed the Carney’s grimy hands off his shirt. He regained composure and jammed his hands deep in the pockets of his ragged jeans. Both men appeared aged by wear and tear, no evidence of the natural progression of comfortable lives. The heated, mostly one-sided conversation continued. The younger pulled his hands out and ran them over his thighs.

Sweaty palms?

“Someone loaded their four-horse trailer through the yellow gate,” chuckled the parking supervisor. “He wound through the back and ended up on the mid-way. We’re marking that as a new path to the horse barn.” The group chortled. Outside the muted shouting of the Carney ramped up. The younger man looked away, rolled his neck, twisted his head, eyes flitting over the grounds, pain or something else. He looked directly at me.

Fear.

Inside, a fresh scrubbed fireman spoke. I peered at the uniformed man’s bland face, not even a freckle. I looked at my half bare arms, my spattering of freckles had developed into age spots.

Goodbye thirties. Hello forties.

“Three calls yesterday,” the fireman reported, then as an after thought, “Aspirin, band-aid, wrong number.”

Next.

The announcements droned. 4-H heifer sale successful, our average price per pound beat out Chehalis’ top price.

Outside the younger man sputtered and shook. His chest heaved. He inhaled a deep breath.

Is he going to cry?

The veterinarian’s voice cracked. “Sent a sick bull cow home. Received a 4 AM call on a crashing goat.” He cleared his throat.

I wondered aloud what ‘crashing goat’ meant, imagined small hooves kicking the slats of the pen until the wood cracked and splintered, a goat crashing out onto the mid-way heading straight for the misdirected horse trailer, and spearing it with its tiny goat horns.

“Dying,” the woman to my right answered.

“Oh.” I said

Back outside, the younger man exploded, shouted lip readable obscenities exposing a huge gap between his teeth. He puffed his cheeks and pounded his hands on his thighs. His head bobbed between me and the Carney.

The Carney glanced my way and stepped back. The kid jumped forward and pushed the gray shirted man in the chest. They scuffled out of sight. I signaled the security guy across the room. Danny, the captain. He smiled, waved back, made a motion as if writing, and moved his right hand to his ear as if holding a phone.

Shit. He wants my number.

“Down hill from here,” the marketing manager wrapped up.

“Let’s hope not,” replied the executive director.

Group chuckle.

Meeting over, I moved quickly out the side door directly into the break room. I dumped the remnants of my bad brew into the sink, not bothering to rinse the tinted brown stream down the drain, tossed the cup, and ran to the door leading into the hall. The handle twisted in my hand. The door opened. I stared straight into the name tag: Danny Stevens, Security Captain. My eyes crept up his barrel chest to his slow grin.

“Gotta run,” I stammered. “Catch you later.”

“Where you headed?” he asked, a lazy smile stretched his chubby cheeks. His shirt microphone crackled. He plucked at it and pressed a button on the mic. “Be right there.” He clicked the switch off. “I’ll see you in the dog barn.” I groaned, covered it with a cough and rushed the front door. “What color do you call that?” He said, pointing to his head. “Your hair color.”

“Auburn,” I said, and then to myself, flecked with gray.

I dodged the growing flood of incoming vendors and two slow moving electric wheel chairs. The disabled pair squeezed hands, and I felt a pang of jealousy. What the hell’s wrong with me? I sighed took a breath and relaxed to a normal pace. A crash to my right startled me. Too much coffee makes a jittery morning at the county fair. My ankle twisted on the gravel path when the metal cracked against metal a second time. My eyes tore through the carnival area as the non-rhythmic clanging continued. I searched for where it reverberated.

There.

The Carney stood with his back to me and swung a shovel between the Ferris wheel and the Tilt-A-Whirl, sinewy arms slicing through the air, more muscle than I imagined. The younger man dodged the make shift weapon, screamed, and thrust his arm my direction. The Carney turned and stared. Twenty-something cracked Carney’s jaw just then. The Carney crumpled into himself and the shovel thunked on the ground. The kid retreated hopping and flipping his hand.

Must have hurt.

The crowd, who had hovered on the edges while the shovel swung, drew close, a growing murmur. I heard heavy boots pounding behind me. A county sheriff crashed past. His protruding elbow hit my shoulder and knocked me to the ground. My arms flew out and my bag flipped out of my hand. An angry ‘hey,’ stuck in my throat. I swallowed when I noticed the officer’s hand reaching to his holster and unsnapping the clasp.

The two fighting men were at it again, grunting, wrestling, pulling apart, panting. I surveyed the contents of my bag strewn about, moaned and brushed at the dirt and grass smudges on my slacks. I stood, shook my pants only to be knocked down by the next officer to run past.

What am I? Invisible?

Shouts. Commands. Escalating orders. I crouched, gathered my spiraled contents, rolled my feet under me and rose. The Carney stilled with his hands in the air. The young man lay on his chest. He held a dark… walkie-talkie? His hands shook. He pointed it my direction.

That’s odd.

I noted the flash of the camera and thought the noise that followed bizarre. A burning split me sharp as any migraine, creased my hip, and pitched me into a spin. My head jerked. My knees buckled. For a third time I thumped to the ground. Fireplay of flashes blinged. Pop. Pop. Pop. Dazed, I watched with curiosity a spurt of leaping blood. Whose is that? I reached for where my side stung. My hand felt sticky, warm.

I think…it’s…my blood.

I wobbled and attempted to stand. A shooting stab blinded my vision. I sank. My forehead hit something solid. Earth. I rolled on my back. Someone spoke. My eyes fluttered. Danny knelt beside me and stared all color drained from his cherubic cheeks, his hands reaching toward my arm. I was twenty pounds overweight and didn’t want him to figure that out when he pulled me up, so I pushed his groping paws away. I heard the cart before I saw it. A wheel of the stretcher came into view along with the paramedic’s boots. Someone behind him stumbled, the cart plowed into the paramedic, he fell into Danny, who thundered on top of me.

Ooof.

My head lolled to one side. I squeezed my eyes shut and prayed I’d be able to breath again. The pain was horrific. I struggled to refill my lungs and caught a glimpse of the great beyond past Danny’s ear. Heaven? The blue of the sky steered into focus and wisps of clouds drifted. No, heaven would be a man in Danny’s position, except it would feel good.

Our eyes locked. He stuttered, but I understood his sentence. “Why was the guy aiming at you?”

The paramedic’s hand twitched and grabbed my wrist.

“Get off,” I said to Danny, and I wasn’t polite. I heard the splash at the dock dogs pool, coughed and then the real pain started. I grimaced.

I’m going down in fair history as the director who took a bullet, if that’s not a reason to quit, I don’t know what is.

Danny fondled my hand. I wanted to pull away but lacked the strength. I wished I could have spit when he ran his fingers through my hair. “You’re going to need to wash it again,” he said. “What is that fragrance?”

I started to speak, but another odor hit my olfactory, and a cold muzzle snorted over my cheek. “Dog shit.” I whispered, and passed out.


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Ooligan: a small press perspective of publishing

Ooligan BookThe Pearl of Carol blog is giving away two copies of a mini-book, RETHINKING PAPER & INK regarding sustainability in publishing to celebrate the recent Write to Publish Conference sponsored by Ooligan Press. Mention ‘enter to win’ in your comments to participate. Drawing to be held at end of month.


Part One: The evolving marketplace of publishing, industry’s move from credit for unsold books to cash refunds, emerging print-on-demand options, the increase in the number of self-published books.

Part Two: Authors abandoned from the big houses use their savvy to generate the small press movement, wholesalers and distributors keep small press—literary non-fiction on the shelves, the influence of the mega-booksellers and Amazon.

Part Three: this is the final installment of the three part series.

How do new authors break in?

Besides inspired writing, what do new authors need to break into publishing? “Five years ago I would have said you need $200,000 and eat very little for the first five years to afford the cost of returns, in fact, keep your day job,” recommended Dennis Stovall, professor of English and Coordinator of Publishing Curriculum at Portland State University. Stovall opened the recent Write to Publish Conference with a talk on the state of the publishing industry. Today he adds, “Create a kind of word of mouth, viral marketing that reaches more people than traditional media or book store browsing.” Many are finding Facebook fans, swooping in for Twitter followers, and connecting with LinkedIN to begin their outreach to a potential fan base. [The First Carol on Twitter].

Despite these social media opportunities, bookstores remain the best distribution outlet. Established authors dominate the chains, and it’s hard to find anyone willing to open small shops unless they are far away from the mega-sellers. Add to that the current lag in the economy which has roughed up the remaining marketplace as sellers jostle for share, and you have all bad news. Right? Not necessarily. “Eating each other up leaves opportunity,” comments Stovall, and opportunity, he suggests, may lie in places other than paper and ink. “Forty percent of every print run goes into recycle—that’s the average. That doesn’t happen with digital books.”

Watch what happens when bookstores order books they can’t sell:

Sales and reading

Dennis Stovall challenged assumptions we’ve been making over the last twenty about reading. “The National Endowment of the Arts did two major surveys concluding reading is at risk. You read that and you became demoralized. It appeared all we were reading were cookbooks and weight loss books. It’s been nothing like that.” he said, and stressed the studies ignored a critical aspect of reading, namely all the new ways the new generation is reading, and it’s not always the traditional canon of literature. “I have particular interest in what constitutes writing as art and writing as commerce. It’s shifting so fast. I see it in the papers that I grade, an enormous shift. You don’t go back you only go forward.” But go forward into what? “Where does the potential lie?” Stovall asked, then answered, “We don’t KNOW what is going to happen next. It (publishing) can be invented again now, not only in this country but world-wide. It is being reinvented and reinvented quickly.

“Non-fiction continues to sell better than anything else. The average life of a book sells 5,000 copies, non-fiction 7,500, poetry under a 1,000. Performance poetry, revival of an oral tradition is finding its way into print,” Stovall noted. “Something very few of us thought we’d see happen. Now that audience becomes potentially much larger than it ever was before.” To grow any audience it must be nurtured.

Opportunities to develop audience abound for those willing to speak and to teach with the realization they do not generate enormous sales, but rather incremental gains in audience. “Lose the gleam in your eye that says, ‘I’m going to sell a million books.’ The realistic view is that if you pursue correctly you may not be able to make a great living, but you may be able to develop a body of work that won’t go out of print in a digital world.”

Stovall weighed in on the industry’s struggle with the pricing structure. “How do we price in this new model?” he asked. The marketplace is still deciding how much it will pay for a digital book.” Other sources indicate readers believe there is great savings when a book does not consume paper and ink, and they want that savings passed along not pocketed. But pricing the POD less than a printed book may not be the answer.

Small presses are discovering they are not making money on actual sales, but the associated ads on the web-site or on the events that come later. Again, speaking to your audience whether online or in-person is growing in significance while publishing encompasses smaller and smaller venues. “The short form is rising in popularity. Micro presses are doing short work and really short work. The best selling book in Japan was written on the I-phone for the I-phone.”

Mass vs. made-to-order printing

The print-on-demand machine looks like a large refrigerator, punch up the book you want, put in your credit card, and in 3-5 minutes you can hold a printed book completely bound with cover in your hands. It’s the ATM of books, making them more accessible, reviving books that are abandoned, no longer in print, or only available on library shelves. It can instantly put books where you want them when you want them, for example, an Espresso Book Machine at the trail head of a National Park spewing books on flora and fauna. You’re not likely to reach for that book anywhere else, but in that moment it has great value.

What are the advantages of breaking in with print on demand – one book at a time publishing? Digital short run printing is accomplished with liquid toners rather than powder and is rather economically produced. “We are a capitalist society, as the costs come down with new technology we’ll have a slightly more economic entry point.”

Currently, mass printing costs $1.50 per volume versus approximately $3 for print on demand. On the other hand, with POD you don’t have a distributor and a book store taking 10% and 40% along the way and the process produces little to no waste. “This gives you a more realistic view of what is actually selling, and offers what the small bookstores used to produce in our neighborhoods, a sense of community,” said Stovall, and he noted big players are entering the field. “Managing the digital process is being picked up by Amazon. They print, take their cut and send you your money. There’s no cost to store month to month.”

The Espresso Book Machine’s $100,000 price tag limits its mainstream access, but it is making inroads. Pocket Books who mass markets Paperbooks, is now promoting the Espresso Book Machine (EBM). Lightning Source Inc., an Ingram Content company announced EBM as a distribution channel to all publishers that work with the company. Stovall sees tremendous democracy in these actions, but admits machine owners still dictate content. “You’re going to see mix and match opportunities, enormous opportunities for both writers and publishers, but the problem for writers is they have taken the notion of self-publishing too far.”

Authors can’t do it all

All aspects of publishing cannot be tackled by a writer. “Editing it yourself is a mistake.” If you’re not a book designer you can’t know what others have studied earnestly to comprehend—visuals that sell. “Less than stellar projects do not create audiences, they get ignored, are not cataloged and are not bought,” Stovall said. In reality almost nothing is ready to go to press at the beginning. Writers need to remember their book is not done simply because they’ve completed their massive draft. “But books are being produced that have not been vetted in any way, and yet the more demanding the marketplace, the more it requires professionals.”

A manuscript is done when it’s received collaboration and received critical insight on whether the story is well told or not. Stovall presented publishers as the ideal filter. “Publishers always had a role of impresarios. We add value to what the author does by editing, packaging and still have that role, but if there are 560,000 books coming through the system, we need to mediate them so readers understand what ones have been well-developed. We don’t need to print all those books some are ephemeral,” but he quickly adds, “Better to have all of that and find among it the real gems.”

Literary Agencies along with publishers are another necessary mediator, “But if there is push for profit agencies may be driven out. We’ll see agents with a shifted role,” Stovall predicted, then lamented the lack of agent input, “Lulu has published the largest pool of bad poetry in the world.” He also noted a common query: grandparents with stories they told their kids. “Mushy stuff we should have kept to ourselves.”

Over and over again publishers read queries not appropriate to the press. “The onus is on the author to pay attention to what the press publishes and create a strong proposal.” Stovall advised. “Even a rough cut gem will get a serious reading, but direct yourself to the right publisher.”

To locate the correct publishing partner you need to first define your audience. Stovall offered several suggestions including, “Locate a magazine you know is read by the same people who would be interested in your book, and ask the magazine for their media kit, or look for their media kit online. It tells you the demographic of their audience and you now have the audience for your book.” He further added, “Go to Powell’s, imagine what shelf your book might be on, look at the shelf and check out the publishers.” A little research on those publishers can confirm whether they should be targeted. “Bet on that as an author and then you’ll get a hearing,” Stovall promised.

His final admonition critical to success. “When asked who would read your book, the worst thing you can say, ‘Anyone who likes a good read.’ You have to know who would read your book. You HAVE to know.”


Top

Ooligan: a small press perspective of publishing

Ooligan BookThe Pearl of Carol blog is giving away two copies of a mini-book, RETHINKING PAPER & INK regarding sustainability in publishing to celebrate the recent Write to Publish Conference sponsored by Ooligan Press. Mention ‘enter to win’ in your comments to participate. Drawing to be held at end of month.


Part One: The evolving marketplace of publishing, industry’s move from credit for unsold books to cash refunds, emerging print-on-demand options, the increase in the number of self-published books.

Part Two: Authors abandoned from the big houses use their savvy to generate the small press movement, wholesalers and distributors keep small press—literary non-fiction on the shelves, the influence of the mega-booksellers and Amazon.

Part Three: this is the final installment of the three part series.

How do new authors break in?

Besides inspired writing, what do new authors need to break into publishing? “Five years ago I would have said you need $200,000 and eat very little for the first five years to afford the cost of returns, in fact, keep your day job,” recommended Dennis Stovall, professor of English and Coordinator of Publishing Curriculum at Portland State University. Stovall opened the recent Write to Publish Conference with a talk on the state of the publishing industry. Today he adds, “Create a kind of word of mouth, viral marketing that reaches more people than traditional media or book store browsing.” Many are finding Facebook fans, swooping in for Twitter followers, and connecting with LinkedIN to begin their outreach to a potential fan base. [The First Carol on Twitter].

Despite these social media opportunities, bookstores remain the best distribution outlet. Established authors dominate the chains, and it’s hard to find anyone willing to open small shops unless they are far away from the mega-sellers. Add to that the current lag in the economy which has roughed up the remaining marketplace as sellers jostle for share, and you have all bad news. Right? Not necessarily. “Eating each other up leaves opportunity,” comments Stovall, and opportunity, he suggests, may lie in places other than paper and ink. “Forty percent of every print run goes into recycle—that’s the average. That doesn’t happen with digital books.”

Watch what happens when bookstores order books they can’t sell:

http://www.youtube.com/v/BzrQEmyEIvI&hl=en&fs=1&

Sales and reading

Dennis Stovall challenged assumptions we’ve been making over the last twenty about reading. “The National Endowment of the Arts did two major surveys concluding reading is at risk. You read that and you became demoralized. It appeared all we were reading were cookbooks and weight loss books. It’s been nothing like that.” he said, and stressed the studies ignored a critical aspect of reading, namely all the new ways the new generation is reading, and it’s not always the traditional canon of literature. “I have particular interest in what constitutes writing as art and writing as commerce. It’s shifting so fast. I see it in the papers that I grade, an enormous shift. You don’t go back you only go forward.” But go forward into what? “Where does the potential lie?” Stovall asked, then answered, “We don’t KNOW what is going to happen next. It (publishing) can be invented again now, not only in this country but world-wide. It is being reinvented and reinvented quickly.

“Non-fiction continues to sell better than anything else. The average life of a book sells 5,000 copies, non-fiction 7,500, poetry under a 1,000. Performance poetry, revival of an oral tradition is finding its way into print,” Stovall noted. “Something very few of us thought we’d see happen. Now that audience becomes potentially much larger than it ever was before.” To grow any audience it must be nurtured.

Opportunities to develop audience abound for those willing to speak and to teach with the realization they do not generate enormous sales, but rather incremental gains in audience. “Lose the gleam in your eye that says, ‘I’m going to sell a million books.’ The realistic view is that if you pursue correctly you may not be able to make a great living, but you may be able to develop a body of work that won’t go out of print in a digital world.”

Stovall weighed in on the industry’s struggle with the pricing structure. “How do we price in this new model?” he asked. The marketplace is still deciding how much it will pay for a digital book.” Other sources indicate readers believe there is great savings when a book does not consume paper and ink, and they want that savings passed along not pocketed. But pricing the POD less than a printed book may not be the answer.

Small presses are discovering they are not making money on actual sales, but the associated ads on the web-site or on the events that come later. Again, speaking to your audience whether online or in-person is growing in significance while publishing encompasses smaller and smaller venues. “The short form is rising in popularity. Micro presses are doing short work and really short work. The best selling book in Japan was written on the I-phone for the I-phone.”

Mass vs. made-to-order printing

The print-on-demand machine looks like a large refrigerator, punch up the book you want, put in your credit card, and in 3-5 minutes you can hold a printed book completely bound with cover in your hands. It’s the ATM of books, making them more accessible, reviving books that are abandoned, no longer in print, or only available on library shelves. It can instantly put books where you want them when you want them, for example, an Espresso Book Machine at the trail head of a National Park spewing books on flora and fauna. You’re not likely to reach for that book anywhere else, but in that moment it has great value.

What are the advantages of breaking in with print on demand – one book at a time publishing? Digital short run printing is accomplished with liquid toners rather than powder and is rather economically produced. “We are a capitalist society, as the costs come down with new technology we’ll have a slightly more economic entry point.”

Currently, mass printing costs $1.50 per volume versus approximately $3 for print on demand. On the other hand, with POD you don’t have a distributor and a book store taking 10% and 40% along the way and the process produces little to no waste. “This gives you a more realistic view of what is actually selling, and offers what the small bookstores used to produce in our neighborhoods, a sense of community,” said Stovall, and he noted big players are entering the field. “Managing the digital process is being picked up by Amazon. They print, take their cut and send you your money. There’s no cost to store month to month.”

The Espresso Book Machine’s $100,000 price tag limits its mainstream access, but it is making inroads. Pocket Books who mass markets Paperbooks, is now promoting the Espresso Book Machine (EBM). Lightning Source Inc., an Ingram Content company announced EBM as a distribution channel to all publishers that work with the company. Stovall sees tremendous democracy in these actions, but admits machine owners still dictate content. “You’re going to see mix and match opportunities, enormous opportunities for both writers and publishers, but the problem for writers is they have taken the notion of self-publishing too far.”

Authors can’t do it all

All aspects of publishing cannot be tackled by a writer. “Editing it yourself is a mistake.” If you’re not a book designer you can’t know what others have studied earnestly to comprehend—visuals that sell. “Less than stellar projects do not create audiences, they get ignored, are not cataloged and are not bought,” Stovall said. In reality almost nothing is ready to go to press at the beginning. Writers need to remember their book is not done simply because they’ve completed their massive draft. “But books are being produced that have not been vetted in any way, and yet the more demanding the marketplace, the more it requires professionals.”

A manuscript is done when it’s received collaboration and received critical insight on whether the story is well told or not. Stovall presented publishers as the ideal filter. “Publishers always had a role of impresarios. We add value to what the author does by editing, packaging and still have that role, but if there are 560,000 books coming through the system, we need to mediate them so readers understand what ones have been well-developed. We don’t need to print all those books some are ephemeral,” but he quickly adds, “Better to have all of that and find among it the real gems.”

Literary Agencies along with publishers are another necessary mediator, “But if there is push for profit agencies may be driven out. We’ll see agents with a shifted role,” Stovall predicted, then lamented the lack of agent input, “Lulu has published the largest pool of bad poetry in the world.” He also noted a common query: grandparents with stories they told their kids. “Mushy stuff we should have kept to ourselves.”

Over and over again publishers read queries not appropriate to the press. “The onus is on the author to pay attention to what the press publishes and create a strong proposal.” Stovall advised. “Even a rough cut gem will get a serious reading, but direct yourself to the right publisher.”

To locate the correct publishing partner you need to first define your audience. Stovall offered several suggestions including, “Locate a magazine you know is read by the same people who would be interested in your book, and ask the magazine for their media kit, or look for their media kit online. It tells you the demographic of their audience and you now have the audience for your book.” He further added, “Go to Powell’s, imagine what shelf your book might be on, look at the shelf and check out the publishers.” A little research on those publishers can confirm whether they should be targeted. “Bet on that as an author and then you’ll get a hearing,” Stovall promised.

His final admonition critical to success. “When asked who would read your book, the worst thing you can say, ‘Anyone who likes a good read.’ You have to know who would read your book. You HAVE to know.”


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Ooligan: a small press perspective of publishing

Ooligan BookThe Pearl of Carol blog is giving away two copies of a mini-book, RETHINKING PAPER & INK regarding sustainability in publishing to celebrate the recent Write to Publish Conference sponsored by Ooligan Press. Mention ‘enter to win’ in your comments to participate. Drawing to be held at end of month.


Part One: The evolving marketplace of publishing, industry’s move from credit for unsold books to cash refunds, emerging print-on-demand options, the increase in the number of self-published books.

Part Two: Authors abandoned from the big houses use their savvy to generate the small press movement, wholesalers and distributors keep small press—literary non-fiction on the shelves, the influence of the mega-booksellers and Amazon.

Part Three: this is the final installment of the three part series.

How do new authors break in?

Besides inspired writing, what do new authors need to break into publishing? “Five years ago I would have said you need $200,000 and eat very little for the first five years to afford the cost of returns, in fact, keep your day job,” recommended Dennis Stovall, professor of English and Coordinator of Publishing Curriculum at Portland State University. Stovall opened the recent Write to Publish Conference with a talk on the state of the publishing industry. Today he adds, “Create a kind of word of mouth, viral marketing that reaches more people than traditional media or book store browsing.” Many are finding Facebook fans, swooping in for Twitter followers, and connecting with LinkedIN to begin their outreach to a potential fan base. [The First Carol on Twitter].

Despite these social media opportunities, bookstores remain the best distribution outlet. Established authors dominate the chains, and it’s hard to find anyone willing to open small shops unless they are far away from the mega-sellers. Add to that the current lag in the economy which has roughed up the remaining marketplace as sellers jostle for share, and you have all bad news. Right? Not necessarily. “Eating each other up leaves opportunity,” comments Stovall, and opportunity, he suggests, may lie in places other than paper and ink. “Forty percent of every print run goes into recycle—that’s the average. That doesn’t happen with digital books.”

Watch what happens when bookstores order books they can’t sell:

Sales and reading

Dennis Stovall challenged assumptions we’ve been making over the last twenty about reading. “The National Endowment of the Arts did two major surveys concluding reading is at risk. You read that and you became demoralized. It appeared all we were reading were cookbooks and weight loss books. It’s been nothing like that.” he said, and stressed the studies ignored a critical aspect of reading, namely all the new ways the new generation is reading, and it’s not always the traditional canon of literature. “I have particular interest in what constitutes writing as art and writing as commerce. It’s shifting so fast. I see it in the papers that I grade, an enormous shift. You don’t go back you only go forward.” But go forward into what? “Where does the potential lie?” Stovall asked, then answered, “We don’t KNOW what is going to happen next. It (publishing) can be invented again now, not only in this country but world-wide. It is being reinvented and reinvented quickly.

“Non-fiction continues to sell better than anything else. The average life of a book sells 5,000 copies, non-fiction 7,500, poetry under a 1,000. Performance poetry, revival of an oral tradition is finding its way into print,” Stovall noted. “Something very few of us thought we’d see happen. Now that audience becomes potentially much larger than it ever was before.” To grow any audience it must be nurtured.

Opportunities to develop audience abound for those willing to speak and to teach with the realization they do not generate enormous sales, but rather incremental gains in audience. “Lose the gleam in your eye that says, ‘I’m going to sell a million books.’ The realistic view is that if you pursue correctly you may not be able to make a great living, but you may be able to develop a body of work that won’t go out of print in a digital world.”

Stovall weighed in on the industry’s struggle with the pricing structure. “How do we price in this new model?” he asked. The marketplace is still deciding how much it will pay for a digital book.” Other sources indicate readers believe there is great savings when a book does not consume paper and ink, and they want that savings passed along not pocketed. But pricing the POD less than a printed book may not be the answer.

Small presses are discovering they are not making money on actual sales, but the associated ads on the web-site or on the events that come later. Again, speaking to your audience whether online or in-person is growing in significance while publishing encompasses smaller and smaller venues. “The short form is rising in popularity. Micro presses are doing short work and really short work. The best selling book in Japan was written on the I-phone for the I-phone.”

Mass vs. made-to-order printing

The print-on-demand machine looks like a large refrigerator, punch up the book you want, put in your credit card, and in 3-5 minutes you can hold a printed book completely bound with cover in your hands. It’s the ATM of books, making them more accessible, reviving books that are abandoned, no longer in print, or only available on library shelves. It can instantly put books where you want them when you want them, for example, an Espresso Book Machine at the trail head of a National Park spewing books on flora and fauna. You’re not likely to reach for that book anywhere else, but in that moment it has great value.

What are the advantages of breaking in with print on demand – one book at a time publishing? Digital short run printing is accomplished with liquid toners rather than powder and is rather economically produced. “We are a capitalist society, as the costs come down with new technology we’ll have a slightly more economic entry point.”

Currently, mass printing costs $1.50 per volume versus approximately $3 for print on demand. On the other hand, with POD you don’t have a distributor and a book store taking 10% and 40% along the way and the process produces little to no waste. “This gives you a more realistic view of what is actually selling, and offers what the small bookstores used to produce in our neighborhoods, a sense of community,” said Stovall, and he noted big players are entering the field. “Managing the digital process is being picked up by Amazon. They print, take their cut and send you your money. There’s no cost to store month to month.”

The Espresso Book Machine’s $100,000 price tag limits its mainstream access, but it is making inroads. Pocket Books who mass markets Paperbooks, is now promoting the Espresso Book Machine (EBM). Lightning Source Inc., an Ingram Content company announced EBM as a distribution channel to all publishers that work with the company. Stovall sees tremendous democracy in these actions, but admits machine owners still dictate content. “You’re going to see mix and match opportunities, enormous opportunities for both writers and publishers, but the problem for writers is they have taken the notion of self-publishing too far.”

Authors can’t do it all

All aspects of publishing cannot be tackled by a writer. “Editing it yourself is a mistake.” If you’re not a book designer you can’t know what others have studied earnestly to comprehend—visuals that sell. “Less than stellar projects do not create audiences, they get ignored, are not cataloged and are not bought,” Stovall said. In reality almost nothing is ready to go to press at the beginning. Writers need to remember their book is not done simply because they’ve completed their massive draft. “But books are being produced that have not been vetted in any way, and yet the more demanding the marketplace, the more it requires professionals.”

A manuscript is done when it’s received collaboration and received critical insight on whether the story is well told or not. Stovall presented publishers as the ideal filter. “Publishers always had a role of impresarios. We add value to what the author does by editing, packaging and still have that role, but if there are 560,000 books coming through the system, we need to mediate them so readers understand what ones have been well-developed. We don’t need to print all those books some are ephemeral,” but he quickly adds, “Better to have all of that and find among it the real gems.”

Literary Agencies along with publishers are another necessary mediator, “But if there is push for profit agencies may be driven out. We’ll see agents with a shifted role,” Stovall predicted, then lamented the lack of agent input, “Lulu has published the largest pool of bad poetry in the world.” He also noted a common query: grandparents with stories they told their kids. “Mushy stuff we should have kept to ourselves.”

Over and over again publishers read queries not appropriate to the press. “The onus is on the author to pay attention to what the press publishes and create a strong proposal.” Stovall advised. “Even a rough cut gem will get a serious reading, but direct yourself to the right publisher.”

To locate the correct publishing partner you need to first define your audience. Stovall offered several suggestions including, “Locate a magazine you know is read by the same people who would be interested in your book, and ask the magazine for their media kit, or look for their media kit online. It tells you the demographic of their audience and you now have the audience for your book.” He further added, “Go to Powell’s, imagine what shelf your book might be on, look at the shelf and check out the publishers.” A little research on those publishers can confirm whether they should be targeted. “Bet on that as an author and then you’ll get a hearing,” Stovall promised.

His final admonition critical to success. “When asked who would read your book, the worst thing you can say, ‘Anyone who likes a good read.’ You have to know who would read your book. You HAVE to know.”


Top