Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Write Brain Notes: New Models in Publishing, What the Writers Say

There will be no [Mostly] Wordless Wednesday today. Instead, I bring you the second part of the three-part New Models in Publishing notes.

Last week, I posted ten notable comments from bookseller Natalie Johnson, owner of Black Cat Books in Manitou Springs. However, those comments were only a portion of the Write Brain workshop I attended. This is the second part of that workshop, and will detail my notes from Deb Courtney (Courtney Literary) and Robert Spiller (author). DeAnna Knippling's contribution will be passed along next Monday.

Deb Courtney, who now represents Robert Spiller, after he left the publishing company that put out the first three books in his Bonnie Pinkwater series, spoke about key points in publishing these days. Her new business, Courtney Literary, is not a publishing house, nor is she an agent. Instead, her goal is to help self-published authors make marketing plans and book-selling strategies. Basically, her job is to assist self-published authors and to do some of the legwork for them.

Deb pointed out that the things you need to insure are taken care of in self-publishing are the quality of your book, the editing and the graphics. As she said (and I'm not sure of the exact quote), it's worse to put out a bad product than no product at all. If you cannot properly edit your own words, pay someone else to do it or do an exchange with another author, where you each edit the other's work. As far as cover art, it is there to catch the eye and draw buyers in, whether on a physical book or the photo representing an e-book. This is something you should either be very good at, or that you should pay for. Expect to pay between $200 and $1000 for a good cover.

She reminded us to do our homework on format (Kindle, Nook, Smashwords, etc.) and to explore different product lines and revenue streams (audio book, short stories that are associated with your novel/series, and all distribution types). She recommends that you not limit yourself to just one type of format (such as just putting it out for the Kindle, but not the Nook).

One service Deb Courtney provides that Robert Spiller is pleased with is a marketing plan. She says you must have one. Set specific goals. How will you get yourself out there? Who will you contact? What is your time frame? She and Robert had made a list that filled several pages, just on places to contact. Consider author interviews on blogs and in newspapers/other media, get reviews, get your book placed in bookstores, do giveaways and guest posts, and get your book on Good Reads. If you absolutely can't find anyone willing to review your book, there are respected places that will charge you to do a review, such as Kirkus (costs around $500 or so). They don't guarantee a good review, though.

Deb Courtney has just launched her business, and Robert Spiller is her first client. At this time, they both seem very happy with the arrangement. In fact, Robert Spiller said he is having much more fun with this, his fourth Bonnie Pinkwater novel, than with the other three. They have great communication between them, and she works closely with him throughout the process.

Some resources she passed along are:
Huffington Post

Any advice to add?

May you find your Muse.


  1. Thanks for the awesome post!

  2. Thanks for the heads up on this. It's something I'm seriously considering, and I have no clue about promotion at all (although I'm wary of overpromotion). It seems that having other people talk about your book instead of just yourself is the way to go. Nice post!

  3. Great post and informative... thanks for sharing.

  4. Thanks for the links. I'll check them out! I do like the Huffington post.

  5. Without knowing what she charges, the problem with this kind of thing is that she charges. I'm sure she does, right, because it's a business. Often, people doing self-publishing can't actually afford to pay for all of these services that are "necessary." And, yes, they are necessary, but it doesn't mean the author can afford them.

    That said, that's the kind of thing I need. Someone to take care of the "other" stuff, so I don't have to think about it or figure it out.

  6. Alex, me, too! Part of me wants that approval that comes of being accepted by a publishing house, too, though.

    Deb, thank you for your support! I'm glad you liked it.

    Nick, very valid point. It's getting other people to talk about your book that's tricky.

    Tania, I was glad to!

    Stephen, I hope you find them helpful!

    Andrew, I may be mistaken, but I believe she takes a percentage once there are sales and has invested her own money in all of the start-up portion of the business. She does an awful lot free around here to support authors, as well. Deb's trying to change it up and not cheat new Indie authors, but encourage them. Seriously, you'd like her! Ask Bryan and Brandon; they know her, too!

  7. Well, that's pretty cool, then. I'll have to remember to give her a look. Or try to remember. >sigh<