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Newsletter Dated: 12/30/2004 12:37:59 PM
Subject: Soup's On
Andrea Campbell’s Newsletter
*** Greetings! ***
This newsletter is being sent to you because you are a writer, professional friend of Andrea*s, or a fan and reader of her books. If you are new to the list, welcome. There are a ton of newsletters and e-zines out there to read, thanks for requesting and reading mine.
Have questions, comments, or ideas for future publication? I look forward to your input. This newsletter is a continued work-in-progress and I hope you will stay around to see new features in every bi-monthly issue.
In this issue:
* From the Author*s Desk
* Author Finds Unique Subject—Jack El-Hai
* Self-Publishing by Steve Whisnant
* Valerie’s Triumph in Color
* Tim Harper and BooksByBookends
* Brady’s Site
*** From The Author*s Desk ***
Happy New Year 2005!
Things are hoppin’ at: http://www.gardenandhearth.com where you will see my new editorials every month. Look for my series to give you oodles of ideas for entertaining and parties, and home decor.
I’m teaching online for MediaBistro. Publish That Book: Writing A Killer Nonfiction Book Proposal is a regular, pre-designated time devoted to lecture, writing techniques, and "insider secrets" and made available each week. Fellow students and I will exchange ideas and questions as well. By the end of class, students can expect to have a marketable, nonfiction book proposal package ready to send out to agents, including a query letter.
Classes start January 20 for 8 weeks. Make your New Year's resolution happen with this e-course!
For more information and sign up, go to: http://www.mediabistro.com/courses/cache/crs318.asp
A new book is in the works and I am the featured author at Women in Print. More about this adventure next issue, but in the meantime, check out:
*** Author Finds Unique Subject—Jack El-Hai ***
Although I wasn't aware of it at the time, I found my topic for The Lobotomist: A Maverick Medical Genius and His Tragic Quest to Rid the World of Mental Illness (Wiley, February 2005) in 1996, when I read a letter published in my local daily newspaper. The letter writer was describing her uncle's experience in the Minnesota State Hospital system, and in a single sentence she mentioned that he had received a lobotomy as part of his treatment. That intrigued me because I had not realized that lobotomies had been performed so close to home. A few weeks later I called her, and she told me her uncle's full story.
I was inspired to propose and write an article about the use of psychiatric surgery in the Upper Midwest for the magazine of the Minnesota Medical Association. While researching that story, I came across the work of Walter Freeman, a prominent neuropsychiatrist of the mid-twentieth century who was the main developer and promoter of lobotomy around the world. Several aspects of Freeman's career puzzled me: Why did this undeniably brilliant physician embrace lobotomy as a treatment for the mentally ill, and why did he continue to advocate it long after nearly all of his colleagues had abandoned it? I wrote an article about Freeman for The Washington Post Magazine (Washington was his home city for thirty years) and used my questions to formulate a book proposal. Then, at the annual conference of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, I met an interested agent. Wiley contracted the book in 2001 and I spent three years researching and writing it. I've loved reading narrative history books like Longitude and The Professor and the Madman, and I wrote The Lobotomist to appeal to a similar audience.
*** Self-Publishing by Steve Whisnant ***
SkyMacSyd Publishing is printing my anthology of award-winning short stories in 2005. This sounds great—I’m published! What the reader does not know is that I own the publishing company.
Following the advice in Dan Poynter’s book The Self-Publishing Manual (a must read for writers) and Michael Reisig’s book The Fledgling Author’s Handbook, I decided, after receiving a boxful of rejection letters, to self-publish and learn the business.
While I still recommend traditional publishers as a first option, there may come a time when you as an author have had so many doors slammed shut that it’s time to take a different approach.
It’s important to take it slow. If your best friend or spouse is the only person to give you encouragement, wait before self-publishing. Make sure your work is ready. Are you winning awards? Are established writers encouraging you to move on to the next step? Have you had pieces published in magazines or the local paper? Are you in a critique group of fellow writers who tell you that it’s time?
Once you’ve decided to move forward, then follow the advice outlined in the books mentioned above. Poynter has a calendar of events to help prepare for important timelines. These include getting a business license for your publishing company, tax forms, securing ISBN numbers and copyrights, promotion (website/business cards), negotiating with a printer, etc.
What surprised me was that I could get a soft cover book of about 300 pages for $2 to $3 per book (depending on how many you order). I can then sell them for $10 to $15 per copy (minus the bookstore owner’s percent and wholesaler/distributor’s cost if applicable) and save the extra cost that would have gone to a traditional publisher.
Of course I won’t have the strength of a national publisher promoting me. I will not be likely to have my book in stores around the country, but I will maintain sole ownership of my work and all the decisions that are involved, such as layout, front cover, marketing, etc.
I purchased an organizer to help track my activities and set up a budget in Quicken software to monitor expenses. This will help at tax time. I keep ALL my related receipts that can be written off, e.g., reimbursement for business mileage.
I’m realistic as an unknown author and understand that my goal on this first book is to break even with my printing cost and to promote myself for my next novel. As Poynter discussed, many new self-published authors are later able to ‘sell out’ to a larger publisher. I hope to get a nice contract with a New York publisher as well, and all I want to do is get my foot in the door and show that I have what it takes to promote my work. Check out my website: http://www.stevewhisnant.com
Steve Whisnant is married and the father of three daughters. He has won more than 25 awards for his writing, and plans to include a number of these in his new book entitled Yesterday Again.
*** Valerie’s Triumph in Color ***
The biggest issue we face as writers is finding an audience. “There are more writers than readers” is a lament one often hears among writers. And here’s the rub: we’re all busy writing, but who’s busy reading? Even writers admit they aren’t reading as much as they’d like to. The recent “Reading at Risk” report, published by the National Endowment for the Arts, is a shocking portrait of a nation that has all but lost its love of reading.
But with every challenge comes an even greater opportunity. We are the first generation since the advent of the Gutenberg printing press 550 years ago with the capacity to give our readers books as beautiful as the illuminated manuscripts of medieval Europe. And by making our books beautiful, we stand to create a much larger audience. We will have an easier time competing with television, movies and video games if our books are beautifully designed. We live in a “designer age,” yet probably the only thing left in the world that is not designed is the printed book. It is as dull and as ugly as it has been for 550 years. Black text. White paper. Roman serif fonts. Endless justified paragraphs. How can we expect such dullness to compete in a richly visual age?
Perhaps you are peeved that I say such things, in such a tone of voice, but I believe writers today need to honestly and openly confront the problem of a lack of readership. We are living in denial if we just go on writing and fighting for a shrinking readership. What good are all the workshops, what good are all the books, ezines and newsletters, if there are no readers?
In Goodbye Gutenberg, I offer a new solution for winning a new generation of readers. It involves both a return to the visual roots of literature and an embrace of the latest design technologies. Goodbye Gutenberg provides the blueprint for a Renaissance in printed books, but the core ideas relate to ebooks as well. As a case in point: I’d bet that 95% — maybe even 100% — of all the ebooks you’ve ever seen are formatted in the traditional dull black and white way. It’s ironic that to distribute a beautifully designed ebook costs not a cent more, but people still resist doing so. Why? Because for 550 years, this is how everyone has written. To advocate a new way means we have to change, leave our comfort zone, learn and grow. But only by saying goodbye to the old Gutenberg, black and white way of writing do we stand a chance of winning new readers. Those writers smart enough to see what’s coming and brave enough to change become pioneers and voices of the next generation. They typically get vilified in the beginning, but pioneers in all fields of human endeavor were vilified at first.
If you are truly happy and fulfilled as a writer, if you have all the readers you could ever dream of, then I doubt my message will resonate with you. But how many writers can honestly say they have all the readers they could ever hope for?
I teach in one of the poorest school districts in the US (the Bronx), and I live in one of the wealthiest counties (Westchester). As a rule, both the cream of the crop students in Chappaqua and the struggling inner city youth do not like to read. They share an aversion to dullness. Even when students in Chappaqua do read, they read because their parents and teachers pressure them and they want to get into good schools. But many are still reluctant readers. My 12 years of teaching English and social studies to younger generations from different backgrounds has lead me to conclude that no matter the valiant efforts of teachers and publishers and reading experts, the black and white printed book is all but dead. In Goodbye Gutenberg, I cite hundreds of facts, surveys and observations to support this claim, but just consider something you read in the last issue of this newsletter. Magazine articles geared toward younger readers are getting shorter. Young people want to look more and read less. This trend is not “disturbing.” It’s an opportunity for writers who see it as one. Transform yourself into a designer, make your pages as visually attractive as they are verbally, and if your message is a good one, you will not want for readers.
Fiction writers stand to reap an especially big windfall. The great novels of the Middle Ages were all beautifully illuminated. Readers once expected a visual journey from a novel. And now, for the first time in 550 years, we can take them on such a journey.
I can’t tell you in a short article such as this how, from a to z, to create a beautiful book. But here is what I can tell you. Color printing costs have plummeted in the past ten years, both offset and on-demand. Affordable, off-the-shelf design software is powerful enough to send your imagination to the moon. You read this newsletter and write your books on a computer, and at your fingertips, right now, is enough power to rival the beauty of any book ever created.
Over and over, in Goodbye Gutenberg I explain that thousands of writers can do what I have done, likely much better. I invite you to do so. In fact, without you my vision of a Renaissance in literature and the arts can never be fully realized. I am an English teacher, often fearful of new technologies and without any formal training in art or design. It took 6 years and a lot of handholding, but I did it. I transformed myself into a “designer writer.” I realized the dreams of William Blake and Edgar Allen Poe. They foresaw a future in which writers would create their own fonts, design their own books, and print and distribute them directly to the public. That’s exactly what I did. From Hong Kong to your home, this gorgeous day has finally come. www.GoodbyeGutenberg.com
*** Tim Harper & Instabook ***
Historically, authors had to go traditional printing houses to get their works published. Print runs had to be in the thousands to meet economies of scale, and boxes of books ended up stacked in warehouses. An author who wanted to self-publish had to be prepared to spend thousands of dollars—at least—for hundreds of copies of his or her book, and then had to inventory them in the basement or garage.
New technology called Print-On-Demand changed that in the late 1990s. High-powered new presses were able to print one book at a time, and to print a handful of books for virtually the same per-book cost as a large run. Companies such as iUniverse, Xlibris, Lightning Sources and 1stBooks thrived by offering to make new authors' books available for printing, usually for a relatively modest cost of several hundred dollars. Instead of warehousing authors’ books, however, the POD companies printed a copy when they received an order.
The patented InstaBook machine used by BooksByBookends is the next generation of POD, and the future of publishing. It is smaller, easier to use and allows printing and binding an entire book in a single step, anytime, anywhere —and usually, if an operator is available, in less than an hour.
BooksByBookends is the first POD service offered in any bookstore anywhere in the United States, thanks to three men: Victor Celorio, head of InstaBook Corporation; Timothy Harper, a journalist, author, and editorial/publishing consultant; and Walter Boyer, co-owner, with his wife Pat, of Bookends, the landmark independent bookstore in Ridgewood, NJ.
The InstaBook machine can precisely produce many different types and sizes of books. A wide variety of paper stock, from the standard and least expensive bond to glamorous or designer stock, can be successfully handled with equal precision and quality. Different cover stock offers a wide range of “look” and “feel” for book covers, both front and back.
For more information, go to http://www.booksbybookends.com
*** Brady Magazine Online ***
FREE classified ads, Directory listings for publishers, Free search engines for writer-related websites, Free contest listings, Free banner exchange program, Free workshop listings, Free newsletter promotion, and Free event listings, this new site has it all.
Krissy Brady, Magazine Editor
*** Future Newsletters ***
In upcoming newsletters we will answer reader’s questions, share a new story or two, talk more about publishing, and provide additional writer’s tips. If there is any area of my life or work you would like to discuss, from autopsy to monkeys, just send me a note. Thanks for the read. : 0 )
Copyright©2004/5 Andrea Campbell If you wish to quote from here, fine, just attribute it to me and my web site.