Posts Tagged ‘promotion’

Publishing Isn’t for Sissies: Michelle Grajkowski–An Agent’s Perspective on the Digital Wave

Friday, April 1st, 2011

Yesterday’s PIFSsummarized several best selling author’s perspective on the indie-traditional publishing debate. And Publisher’s Weekly’s thoughts on what makes indie work. Today–let’s talk to agent Michelle Grajkowski of 3 Seas Literary Agency,a 10-year industry insider who’s seen this coming (while she launched NYT’s best selling careers), navigated her and her author’s way through the early stages of it, and is currently shifting her own business now that the digital wave is crashing onward, to better help those same authors.


Yes, she’s my agent. No, I’m not one of her A-List clients. Yet. But she’s fighting just like I am to get me and all of her authors there, wherever there is and whichever publishing path each individual career takes. I believe with all sincerity that she’s an author advocate in this business. She’s tough and insightful, understanding and flexible, level-headed but determined to negotiate for everything her clients should have, every step of their career. In short, she’s an amazing business partner and advisor and friend.

And those are just a few of the reasons I hope everyone who’s panicking and pointing fingers and pushing to the extreme and making rash decisions because the publishing sky is apparently falling, again–or just those of you who are open to and curious about a savvy insider’s perspective–take a few minutes to read on. You won’t be disappointed ;o)

Everyone welcome Michelle Grajkowski to Publishing Isn’t for Sissies!


Twenty years before Julie Andrews floated down from a cloudy sky into London to save a dysfunctional family in Mary Poppins, the movie industry was shaking in its boots.


Studio executives in the 50’s were very worried that their blockbuster movies were a thing of the past – thanks to the hit new box that sent pictures straight into people’s homes. And, they weren’t the only ones sweating.

Radio stations across the globe were frightened because no longer were families gathering around the radio to hear great classic like The Bob Hope Show, when they could tune in and see him live in their living room.
Flash forward to 2011. Publishers, authors and agents are feeling these same concerns in regards to the publishing industry. Bookstores are closing and bankrupting, e-readers are selling at all time highs, and buying habits of the readers are changing.

And, that, my friends, is the key word – CHANGE. (more…)

Publishing Isn’t For Sissies: Indie Update–Read THIS!

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

It’s been a crazy few weeks in Indie publishing, so it’s time for a new PIFS Read THIS! How does a writer find your place in the midst of such rapid change? How does this affect readers, both now and down the road? Good news: the hardworking, talented author will still published, the reader will have great stories to read, and the publishing industry will continue, regardless of which book format prevails. More questionable news:no one really knows anything for sure right now, except that traditional publishers are behind the curve, still, and the top authors who are more savvy and willing to tolerate change for the chance to reach more readers and build more successful careers are leading the way.

My Reality Check post from two weeks ago is the top PIFS post so far. Agent Michelle Grajkowski will be back TOMORROW, to share more of her perspective, from an industry insider’s viewpoint.

In the mean time you might be asking, what do authors think? Well, here’s an author-driven Indie update, with links for you to follow to info and discussions from the last few weeks:


Barry Eisler and Joe Konrath discuss Barry walking away from a $500k book contract to self publish.

In the Self Publishing Review, Eisler crunches numbers and breaks out why he can make more money digitally releasing his next book himself.


Two-time RITA and best-selling romance author Connie Brockway’s made a similar decisionpublishing future sequels to a best-selling series herself, after turning down her latest publishing contract offer.

Does this mean all authors are set? (more…)

Publishing Isn’t for Sissies: A Reality Check

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

We asked students last weekend to share every worst case scenario and fear they’d heard or thought about the way digital options seems to be consuming traditional publishing. What are the rumors? How bad do you think it’s going to get. What are you chances now of ever getting a book contract and seeing your stories in a reader’s hand?

My agent (Michelle Grajkowski) and I had been fielding industry questions and trying to get folks to open up for about an hour. It was the get to know you beginning of the conference. Folks were understandably guarded at first, talking with someone they thought might one day be an asset to their career (Michelle, not me, though I’m always good for an entertaining hour or two of conversation ;o). I’d tried to get them to ask digital publishing questions a few times, but no takers. Then Michelle helped me open the floor for comments. 

“What have you heard?” we asked. “What do you know? Don’t worry about how bad it sounds. No holds barred.”

Ah. We’d struck upon the thing to ask a room full of people who’re starting to accept you into your group. More, “Let’s get the the big ugly monster out of the closet.” Less, “Let us know what you’re afraid of.”

Michelle and I had talked about this approach on the drive over from the town we flew in on to the on where we’d be teaching all weekend. We were pretty sure what we’d hear.

And we weren’t disappointed:

  • Digital publishing is helping finish off the Mass Market segment of printed book sales.
  • Bricks and mortar stores are disappearing from the landscape.
  • Book store chains are closing, filing for bankruptcy or up for sale.
  • Racks/slots for books in the remaining discount stores are dwindling.
  • Online printed book sales are lagging behind digital sales.
  • Self publishing digitally may be the only way non-branded authors can make money publishing in the near future.
  • It’s becoming difficult to distinguish a “publisher” from a self published digital book, at least on sight.
  • Badly written and produced digital books are flooding the market.
  • 99 cent digital book prices devalue books in general and make it impossible for newer writers to make any money at all.
  • It takes so long to find a publisher traditionally, print advances are shrinking along with sales and royalties, publishers are struggling and going under, and an agent gets to take a bite out of whatever you do make–why not skip all the middle men and go it alone like everyone you see all over social media making a fortune self-publishing.
  • Publishers opening digital-only imprints aren’t offering authors advances, are offering little or no promotion that the author doesn’t have to take the lead in, and are making no promises of income from royalties. Therefore months/years of work could result in little or no profit for the author whatsoever.

The list goes on… Like I said, nothing new.

Except, the point we made later that night after everyone had pretty much agreed that we’d all heard the above list and more and didn’t know what to think about it, is that IT’S NOTHING NEW.

Michelle and I called this the Reality Check portion of the evening program. Here’s what we shared with the group, and believe it or not it made everyone a little more comfortable and contemplative and thinking a little more big picture about all the above stuff that, let’s be honest, makes all of us want to hind our heads in the sand until the dust settles…

When the mass market publishing model began to dominate the scene, we used as an example, it was seen by many as a threatening wave that would spell the end of the more valuable but pricey hard cover novel, and the independent book store that didn’t want to shelve endless cheaper-to-produce-and-stock paperbacks. And, well, it pretty much was. (more…)

Publishing Isn’t for Sissies: A Team Approach to Digital Publishing

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

Last week’s PIFS’s NetGalley post earned top billing in blog hits for a single article. There’s a world of authors searching for digital publishing and promotion information. Today, let’s look at the growing popularity of using a Team Approach to releasing books independently. It’s exciting to see groups of authors who would otherwise self publish on their own are working together to share knowledge and skill sets and experience.

Dorchester’s PR team will be back soon (I should have a schedule of their PIFs visits to share next week), discussing specifics about the amazing things they have planned for Secret Legacy and other direct-to-digital titles they’re spotlighting this spring. But that’s a hybrid NY publishing model.  What about the solitary author with a backlist he/she wants to re-release or a new work of fiction he/she wants to digitally distribute, when the traditional publishing route isn’t a viable option?


Jenni Holbrook-Talty is with us today (in her non-How We Write capacity) to talk about her journey into the independent digital publishing arena with business partner Bob Mayer. Last year, he asked her to put her business and IT experience to work to help him re-release his best-selling backlist on the digital stage. The result was Who Dares Wins Publishing (WDWPub). Their learning curve was steep. There was progress, mistakes, work and rework, and the frustration of dealing with a kaleidoscope vendors and formats and packaging requirements. Until they finally began producing quality product that fans are now snatching up daily through outlets like Amazon, Sony, and iBooks.

I asked Jenni why she thought their partnership worked, and why she’d recommend something similar to other authors thinking of digitally publishing independently.

She said,The team approach allows each member to utilize their talents to their fullest capacity. We used Bob’s years of training in the world of Traditional Publishing to begin the process of publishing his backlist. I had been published by a reputable ePublisher and understood some of the things about digital publishing that Bob’s background didn’t. He knows the business better than most, but he didn’t have the technology base that I had, so by merging the two together we were able to put his books, my books, and other authors’ books out there for our readers to enjoy. The team approach also frees up our time so we can both do the one thing we love the most: write. Right now, I know Bob is going through some edits of his next release due out 12-April while I’m taking care of some necessary business obligations by finalizing the copy edits for Devil’s Sea and put the book back into production.” (more…)

Publishing Isn’t for Sissies: Innovative Marketing and Promotion–NetGalley

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

My journey deeper into understanding digital publishing, marketing and promotion ramped to another level this week as Secret Legacy was introduced to the sci-fi/fantasy genre as a featured book on NetGalley. 


A site that (from their FAQ page) is a service for people who read and recommend books. Publishers upload their galleys, plus any marketing and promotional information; then invite contacts to view their title on NetGalley. Readers can also find new titles through NetGalley’s Public Catalog, and request to review those titles from the publisher.

“Is this just another way to push books that don’t have a traditional publishing path ?” you say. Browse the Buzz for NetGalley Titles link on their homepage , like I did. Look at the national media tours and blurbs and reviews of the featured books to see the projects that are generating NetGalley buzz. Traditionally marketed or not, it’s pretty impressive stuff.

“But are ‘real’ publishers using NetGalley?” Check out the Browse Catelog by Publisher link and look for the print publisher of your choice. At first glance, I see Avon, Grand Central, HarperCollins, Penquin, and William Morrow, top print publishers, all, amongst digital and eBook pioneers and leaders.

“How is this going to help you establish your series as sci-fi/fantasy?” Under Browse Catalog by Genre, choose Science Fiction & Fantasy. You’ll find Carina Press, Harlequin, Harper Collins, Red Sage (Ooo! Angela Knight, I LOVE her), and, on Page Two, me. There Secret Legacy is, waiting for anyone who loves sci-fi/fantasy to dive into and fall in love with, right next to authors from Hatchette Books, too, and Thomas Nelson, and on and on. Not bad company at all.

Secret Legacy front cover

To tell us more about what publishers are all about on the site–we have a Dorchester PR specialist with us today, the person who’s worked hard behind the scenes to position my Legacy series on NetGalley.

Everyone, welcome Hannah Wolfson to PIFS– (more…)

Publishing Isn’t For Sissies: Borders, Dorchester, YOU?

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

This week’s Borders bankruptcy restructuring announcement was expected. Dorchester’s financial difficulties–people in the “know” saw a huge change coming, though not necessarily the business  model transformation the publisher adopted rather than filing Chapter 11 themselves. Are you saying–Whew! Glad it isn’t me? Are you sure about that?


I’ve been writing this weekly column  on my blog regularly for over a month, and the hits each Thursday are rising exponentially as each week passes. Because I’m so witty and relevant? I’m not buying it. The reason, I suspect, is a lot of folks coming to the conclusion I did last fall–that these “signs of the times” are coming for all of us, happening to all of us one way or another, so what the heck are we ALL going to do about it?

I’ve looked back a lot in previous posts, so check them out if you’re interested in my view of what was before and what is “most likely” now. Starting this Thursday, PIFS is going to be focused on the “will bes,” as I race toward the May digital/trade sci-fi/fantasy release that wasn’t even on my radar six months ago.

What should be my (and maybe your) focus in this rapidly changing market?

 1) Distribution. How will our books find readers now, with physical bookstores in so much upheaval? (more…)

Publishing Isn’t For Sissies: Embracing The Obvious

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

Want in on a big secret these days that traditional publishers aren’t talking about but everyone knows? Print runs and sell throughs for mid-list authors have dwindled to half, sometimes three-fourths what they were just five years ago. Even three years ago. And the successful mid-list author with formerly solid numbers and loyal fans–they’re contract options are being dropped left and right, because there’s no money in it for the publishers anymore, unless you’re a branded name who can deliver six-figure sales print numbers. And how is that supposed to happen without a five-figure marketing plan, when retail chains are racking fewer and fewer books, a large print run is required to nab shelf space in discount stores, readers have fewer and fewer outlets to buy print books, and tech-savvy readers with fewer dollars to spend on entertainment can find used books and lower-priced eBooks online cheaper as soon as (sometimes before) a print book hits a store?

This was the state of the publishing market while Dorchester was ramping up to promote Secret Legacy last summer. We were positioned to make a play at doing the best we could for a mid-list book in a lagging market. We weren’t going to throw in the towel. It’s an amazing series, vibrant characters, and there was a strong following of fans from Dark Legacy (kind of pissed, some of them, because of the cliff hanger ending ;o) dying to know what happens to my psychotic, psychic twins and (Spoiler Alert for those who haven’t bought their copy of DL yet) the secret child know one knew existed until the final pages… Dorchester believed in me and my books and they weren’t going to quit.

Well, the crashing credit market and flailing publishing industry had other ideas. My small publisher couldn’t ride out the storm like the bigger dogs.  Business as usual wasn’t going to be possible any longer. At the precise moment that my book was going to print. The mass market release of Secret Legacy wasn’t going to happen. We were going back to square one, planning what was best for the book, while my publishing house completely re-invented how they do their business.


If you’ve read my PIFS posts from last August, you know already a lot of the drama of that time that I won’t repeat here. Except that, over all, my impression once the dust settled was that the shocking thing that was happening to me and my fellow Dorchester authors was, quite literally, a sign of the times. If you wanted to see the direction all of publishing was heading toward, all you had to do was look at my small press’ decision to stop paying to print, warehouse, distribute and then strip unsold mass market paperbacks in an antiquated system that everyone in the publishing industry is losing money at.

What was happening to Dorchester and its authors wasn’t a surprise. Whether or not I was happy about the turn my commercial fiction career was taking at the time, it was time to embrace the obvious facts before me as I decided what to do next.

And those facts were: (more…)