Tag: authors

Closing Down of Unleaded: Fuel for Writers

It’s been a long way since the very first post in May of 2009. Even longer since NR Brown and I first discussed setting up a writing-related website. I still remember when and where we came up with the name. We were at a gas station filling up the car.

It has been a long and wonderful journey and we’ve been proud to have some amazing authors. We are also humbled and grateful by folks who have been a part of our community of readers. Thank you. ¬†Y’all are rockstars in my book. ūüôā

But like all good things, this too, must come to an end. With the passage of time, I’ve found a significant incease in other responsibilities (work, family, creative endeavors) that take me away from a regular posting schedule. As such, rather than continue to have the site linger, we will be it closing down. There will be no new posts or reviews, however, we will be keeping/leaving the website up for archival purposes. You can still read through all the articles, videos, reviews, and information from our fantastic guests.

Keep reading, keep learning, keep writing!

Best,
Day and the Unleaded Team

Tall red doors

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Earnings of Self-Published Authors

Like many folks I have been hearing about how “rich” the self-publishing market is and that it is¬†good business for authors to put out their books themselves rather than submitting to¬†traditional presses.

I think many people have fantasized of that “one big hit” or of the “big payoff.” ¬†We hear the stories of authors like Amanda Hocking, EL James, and HM Ward (the last who has chosen not to sign with a traditional publisher) and wonder if the battle for a manuscript, an agent, an editor, a publisher, is worth it all. Isn’t self-publishing the way to go?

A few years ago there was a survey done of 1,007 self-published writers and what it found was that although a few were earning $100,000 or more, the average earnings for a self-published author were around $10,000 a year, not exactly the stuff that dreams are made of.  And of course, as we learned in mathematics class, the average, or mean, is easily skewed by a few high numbers/earners.  What does that mean? That means that out of the 1,007 writers, about half of them were making less than $500 a year.

Of course, many of the more successful self-published authors began their writing life as traditionally published authors. I may have to see if there is an updated survey to discover if things have changed overmuch.

Typewriter-Cash

You can read more about the earnings of self-published authors here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/may/24/self-published-author-earnings?CMP=twt_fdhttp://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/may/24/self-published-author-earnings?CMP=twt_fd

UPDATE: It looks like there have been several different surveys looking at self-published author earnings and all of them quite contentious. ūüôā I shall definitely have to follow up.

 

 

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Guest Post: Gail Z. Martin – The Changing Business of #Publishing (#writing post)

Iron & Blood Martin CoverUnleaded: Fuel for Writers is pleased to host Gail Z. Martin as our Guest Blogger for Friday, July 24th, 2015. Gail wrote for us last year and you can check out her post on Writing an Epic Fantasy Series.¬† This time she’s talking about¬†the nitty-gritty of publishing.¬† How it is, how it was, and how it may become.

Also as a quick note, her new book Iron & Blood¬†just came out this month! It is a steampunk novel set in an alternative history Pittsburgh chock full of airships, supernatural creatures, amazing inventions, and lots of explosions.¬† What more could one ask for?¬†Here‚Äôs the scoop (yes, I’m making you read an advertisement before getting to the article…but it sounds so cool!):

New Pittsburgh, 1898 ‚Äď a crucible of invention and intrigue. Born from the ashes of devastating fire, flood and earthquake, the city is ruled by the shadow government of The Oligarchy. In the swarming streets, people of a hundred nations drudge to feed the engines of progress, while in the abandoned tunnels beneath the city, supernatural creatures hide from the light, emerging only to feed.

Jake Desmet and Rick Brand travel the world to secure treasures and unusual items for the collections of wealthy patrons, accompanied by Jake’s cousin, Veronique LeClerque. But when their latest commission leads to Jake’s father’s murder, the three friends are drawn into a conspiracy where dark magic, industrial sabotage and the nightmares come to life will ultimately threaten not just New Pittsburgh, but the whole world.

 

The Changing Business of Publishing

ebooksTechnological change has destabilized the publishing industry, creating a structural upheaval that extends from top to bottom, from the way authors get paid to the means to produce and distribute their work. Not only does this mean that publishers must re-evaluate their role and value in the process of creating books and bringing them to market, but it also means that authors must begin to see themselves as part of the production process beyond the writing itself, to embrace an unprecedented level of entrepreneurship, and to navigate the changing relationship with publishers and the public.

Not too long ago, book publishers had a clear role. They selected books for publication, bankrolled the book production process, maintained relationships with the distribution channels of stores and libraries, and did a bit of promotion. Self-publishing before ebooks was difficult and expensive and without access to bookstores, was difficult for authors to do successfully, even ignoring the stigma attached to the process.

Four big things changed the status quo: the rise of ebooks and the decline of traditional bookstores, as well as the increased accessibility of professional-quality graphic design and publishing software plus the shift to print-on-demand technology.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe combination of good design software and the advent of ebooks meant that it was less expensive and much easier to produce a good-looking book without going through traditional publishing channels. The decline of physical bookstores and the rise of online booksellers gave ebooks a whole new audience, and print-on-demand meant that authors no longer had the financial barrier of purchasing an entire print-run of their book. Individual authors and small presses now had the ability to compete with traditional publishers in a way that hadn’t been possible since the Gutenberg Press.

So here we are, about a decade into this publishing revolution, and no one really knows how to maximize the new system. Big publishers were slow to adopt ebooks and print on demand, and ended up scrambling as profits fell. Small publishers and individuals scrambled to seize first-mover advantage with the technology, but didn’t find the golden egg. Big national chain bookstores have made poor decisions–many of which had nothing to do with books–and gone out of business or cut the number of stores. Independent bookstores, which had largely been driven out of business by the big chains, are starting a comeback. Library spending is struggling as local budgets are cut, in part as an aftereffect of the 2008 recession, and in part because of our current cultural shortsightedness about spending any money that benefits the average person.

And in the middle of the chaos is the individual author, trying to make valid career decisions. It’s no secret or surprise that even many well-known authors keep a day job, and that other established authors have been developing their own publishing capabilities and side businesses as publishers cut advances and shrink book deals. Just like the merger mania and downsizing in Corporate America taught every employee to think of himself as a temporarily hired freelancer or contractor, the shakeup in publishing has led to authors wondering how they can plan a future where they continue to publish and yet also can make a living doing so.

CrowdfundingPic2Increasingly, authors are adopting a hybrid career where they take contracts with traditional publishers, develop other projects through small presses and self-publish additional work. The rise of Kickstarter and other crowdfunding mechanisms to offset the risk of funding a publishing project and the advent of platforms like Patreon to pay authors to produce work have attempted to fill in some of the gaps left by big publishers, though imperfectly.

Authors today need to possess not only the skills to produce a good book, but also be savvy marketers, fearless entrepreneurs, and intrepid self-promoters. The days are long gone when an author’s job is done once the manuscript is turned in to the editor. Self-publishing can generate higher per-book pay, but it takes relentless effort for an individual author to achieve the kind of unit sales common in traditional publishing. Authors who have been in the game long enough to get rights reverted from out of print books now have the task of reformatting those books for ebook release. No one has found the magic formula.

Writing has always been considered to be an uncertain way to make a living, much like the arts and theater. I’d argue that in the long run, the net gain of ebooks, online bookselling and print on demand will work out for the best, although there’s a lot to be mourned in the lack of the stability that landing a contract with a big publisher used to provide. And until a more proven, stable business model emerges from the chaos writers and publishers are going to continue to muddle on, doing the best they can to make a living while creating the books they can’t live without.

kickstarterorderofthestick

Gail Z MartinGail Z. Martin writes epic fantasy, urban fantasy and steampunk for Solaris Books and Orbit Books. In addition to Iron and Blood, she is the author of Deadly Curiosities and the upcoming Vendetta in her urban fantasy series; The Chronicles of The Necromancer series (The Summoner, The Blood King, Dark Haven, Dark Lady’s Chosen) from Solaris Books and The Fallen Kings Cycle (The Sworn, The Dread) as well as Ice Forged, Reign of Ash, and War of Shadows in The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga from Orbit Books. Gail writes two series of ebook short stories: The Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures and the Deadly Curiosities Adventures and her work has appeared in over 20 US/UK anthologies. Check out more of her work (and blog) at AscendantKingdoms.com.

 

larry-n-martinLarry N. Martin fell in love with fantasy and science fiction when he was a teenager. After a twenty-five year career in Corporate America, Larry started working full-time with his wife, author Gail Z. Martin and discovered that he had a knack for storytelling, plotting and character development, as well as being a darn fine editor. Iron and Blood is their first official collaboration. On the rare occasions when Larry isn’t working on book-related things, he enjoys pottery, cooking and reading.

 

 

 

Find them at www.JakeDesmet.com, on Twitter @GailZMartin or @LNMartinauthor, on Facebook.com/WinterKingdoms, at DisquietingVisions.com blog and GhostInTheMachinePodcast.com, on Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/GailZMartin free excerpts, Wattpad http://wattpad.com/GailZMartin.

 

 

 

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Highest #Earning #Authors of 2014

At the end of 2014, Forbes magazine estimated the earnings of popular writers based on Nielsen Bookscan numbers and conversations with industry insiders (though I’m not sure exactly what that means) and then basically made a list of the “Highest Earning Authors of 2014.”¬†¬†You can check out the article¬†at Forbes.¬† Here are the highlights:

  1. James Patterson
  2. Dan Brown
  3. Nora Roberts
  4. Danielle Steele
  5. Janet Evanovich
  6. Jeff Kinney
  7. Veronica Roth
  8. John Grisham
  9. Stephen King
  10. Suzanne Collins

PS¬† It was mentioned that in the last year or so we’re seeing more YA authors on the list.¬† Books like “Hunger Games,” “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” and “Divergent” garnering significant attention and sales, enough to push their authors into the Top 10.

 


RavenCon – Promised Update (But not really)

Okay, maybe this isn’t the update but I promised, but I am writing one for this weekend.¬† Overall,¬†RavenCon was an amazing experience, albeit an exhausting one.¬† And my first as a panelist.¬†

Let me clear, I’ve spoken on panels before, hundreds wouldn’t be an exaggeration, but that was with regard to my “day job.”¬† So it was always about politics and policies; laws and regulations.¬† This was about something a bit more personal (although I LOVE policy and law and take it VERY personally), but this involved my writing.¬† Those secret creative thoughts that I madly put down on paper in splattered ink from an overused fountain pen, hunched over a tiny wooden desk by candle-light.¬† Okay, okay it’s really me typing madly in the wee hours on my glass and metal desk, and drinking tea like it’s going out of style.¬† Regardless, it was still surprisingly difficult to put myself out there; one could say, I had a bad case of Impostor Syndrome.¬†

In spite of it all, I did manage to be relatively articulate (please, if you were there and thought otherwise, please, please,¬†allow me my dignity and ignorance) as a panelist, and did a fairly good job of moderating (again, ignorance is bliss).¬† With 8 separate sessions that had my name attached to them, it was exhausting.¬† But the people made it worth it.¬† I LOVED the people.¬† They were just awesome.¬† AND I got to meet a follower of Unleaded.¬† *waves to Diane*¬† Wishing I’d gotten a picture now.¬† I don’t have any proof! Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I met one of our 3 readers.¬† ūüôā¬† And if you’re old enough, you’ll recognize the Conan reference.

I also learned that while early morning panels are really rough (I moderated both Saturday and Sunday morning 9 am slots) it is a wonderful way to get 5 authors all to yourself.  It really felt like a converstion and I got to ask all the questions I ever wanted to, to my own collection of writers.  Very cool. And special thanks to both Bud Sparhawk and A.J. Hartley who also had BOTH of those same early morning panels yet were up and enthusiastic and really made my job easier.

There is so much more…but I shal stop and leave this as a small teaser.

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Where do you get your stories? No, not THAT question – a more important one

Bookstore by Imaginary GirlOne of the questions that is often asked of writers is, “Where do you get your stories?”¬† And one that is often met with significant eye-rolling and considerable patience.¬† However, this isn’t about THAT interpretation of the question.¬† One of the things that almost every published author I’ve met has advocated, is reading.¬† To write, you need to read.¬† If you love writing, then you likely love reading.¬† To improve your writing, you should read.

But what SHOULD you read?¬† How do you know WHAT to read?¬† With so many choices in today’s markets it can be difficult.¬† There are bookstore choices, friend choices, online Amazon ranking choices, reviewer choices, and other rating based choices as well as, darnit, just whether or not the book has a cool cover image.¬† I’m old enough (which is to say, not THAT old) to remember when genre fiction was maybe a few shelves or even just one case.¬† Now there are aisle upon aisle of genre books and more and more books are being made available online.¬† Including some, where the internet is their primary medium of distribution. In some ways, one could make an argument for new difficulties in the signal to noise ratio and all you can hear is “readmybook!readmybook!readmybook!”

So, how do you find books that you’ll love?¬† Inquiring Unleaded “minds” want to know.¬† ūüôā How do you discover those little story gems that excite you and remind you why you wanted to write in the first place?


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