In 2016, almost half a million people on six continents joined the writing movement called National Novel Writing Month. This non-profit (often referred to as NaNoWriMo) is an online community that recruits, supports, and celebrates writers as they attempt to pen 50,000 words in the thirty days of November. Volunteers can use the NaNoWriMo website to mobilize their local participants and schedule kick-off events, writing nights, and other activities along the way. And on those hard days when the word count is lagging and motivation ebbs, participants receive emails from famous authors who cheer them on from the sidelines.
By Laree Lindburg, owner of Emoon
In life, one thing we rarely lack are questions. What time is it? When is dinner? How long until we get there? When will my show come onto Netflix?
Book publishing tends to add to the mishmash. One inquiry, in particular, pops up more often than most:
- What is the difference between the various types of publishing?
Solid question. How do traditional publishing, self-publishing, indie publishing, and hybrid publishing differ? Which is best for you? Are some just like others only with varied names? My explanation may be slightly different than most given that the world of publishing has evolved more in the last decade+ than other industries. Definitions are constantly being redefined. Mediums are weekly being invented.
All that said, here goes!
The most common of the lot of publishing is traditional. These are your long-standing, old school publishing houses like the "Big Five:" Simon & Schuster, Macmillian, Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, and Hachette Book Group. These dinosaurs are the Mt. Everest; many wish to summit. Some attempt. Fewer succeed. Traditional pubs offer contracts where the author's work is 'owned' by the house. Royalties go through the house and a hefty cut is taken before a quarterly/yearly check is sent to the author. Occasionally, though rarely anymore, authors are offered an advance against royalties. A typical traditional house will take 1-2 years to release a book. They market and promote their titles although reports from less famous authors tell me these publishing houses are putting most of their marketing dollars in their "A" list author baskets, leaving those with smaller, less Hollywood platforms to fend for themselves.
Due to the rampant changes in the publishing industry today, traditional publishers are beginning to offer alternative models, such as self-publishing . . .
Self-publishers traditionally require authors to purchase X number of copies in order to print their book. They care little or none for quality and content. They are not evil but serve their own purpose for larger quantity orders on titles that have already been proven or edited, or the occasional person who simply wants to see their book in print. The author pays for production.
Independent publishers work with indie authors (those who have decided to take the destiny of their book into their own hands) and help them from start to finish produce their book for the reading population. No quantity requirements. This can often be a cold interaction as many indie publishers do not work closely with authors but require them to do much online--independently. The author pays for production. This option is great for those who know their marketing strategy and already have a platform in place. Individuals who have a following, a going business or ministry and simply need a place to print paperbacks to sell at merch tables during speaking events can find this option financially beneficial.
Hybrid is a newer publishing model, which also has the most fluid definition. Hybrid publishing can be one of a very personal experience between author and publisher. Each are invested and want to see success for the title. Sometimes the publisher charges a fee per project (and retains no rights or royalties) and other times the publisher and author discuss options for payment such as a smaller fee with agreement to share royalties of book sales. This model of publishing is suited well for those who tend toward indie publishing, but who also would like a little more guidance. Indie publishing can be more involved and time consuming for the author, whereas a hybrid publisher shoulders the burden with the author.
Which model is Emoon?
Emoon's publishing model is hybrid and a bit independent. If you have had a chance to check out our website, you will notice we offer many services. Anyone can come and ask us for just one of those services, say, a cover design or an edit, and we will happily do so. No obligation to publish through us. We also work one-on-one with authors who desire to tackle the entire publishing package, i.e. cover, interior layout, editing, e-book pub, paperback publishing, distribution, and marketing. This does cost a fee (we do not offer a royalties sharing option), yet the author retains all of the rights and royalties to their work.
And Emoon sticks around to help them succeed. We are like a personal assistant to the indie author. Emoon markets books that we help along the publishing road by posting notices on our social media outlets and offering giveaways and marketing exchanges. We can also create a sales sheet to promote the author's work and will design custom banners for book signings. These amenities are included in full packages contracts, and can also be contracted a la carte.
All that said, Emoon does not accept just any author's manuscript like a self-publisher. The authors we work with us must prove their title of a high enough quality and meet other publishing requirements before we will agree to go into contract as their publishing partner.
I hope this helped you navigate the murky waters of publishing a bit better. If you have any other questions, please don't hesitate to contact us through our website or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy weekend to you!
By Jeannie McPherson, EMoon Author
With dreams, come nightmares. Not that we necessarily want them, realistically they happen. When God nudges us toward and through our dreams, we celebrate and express thankfulness. After many decades, I realize God also nudges through nightmares. After all, I don’t do a very good job thanking God when life is difficult.
Test-taking was not just figuratively a nightmare for my young self, I had nightmares about the real thing. Writing was my academic salvation and more than once my letter grade went from a B to an A or even a C to a B when essays were a major component of a course. My first college English class was a disaster and no number of nudges were going to help me learn grammar, in all its confusing glory. In other academic areas, professors liked my unique way of expressing thoughts, facts, opinions, or positions. But, I still struggled through test taking.
My first graduate class required writing an essay question on why I would be a good school principal. In no fewer than 10 rewrites, I shared my story precisely, concisely, and convincingly, to the extent the professor wrote, “You need to write and publish.” Writing was again the easy part. In my career, I was typically successful writing grants, memos, and emails. In my personal life, I wrote Christmas letters and short stories and dabbled with a few manuscripts, but the word publish was as scary as test taking and nightmares. The word written on a note card was just… a nudge a long time ago.
I found my career path, and soon started a family. I had fulfilled all the dreams I had conjured up, except for one; becoming a published writer. Retirement brought new opportunities but nothing that pushed me to attempt to concur the publishing world. For fun, I took a week-long writing class with a published author at my alma mater, the University of Nebraska. The writing I submitted brought me more positive compliments and assignments, like “write every day at least 550 words.” We discussed how to get an editor’s attention, thoughts on self-publishing, and lots of “stick with it, you can do it.” All these were nudges, but apparently, these were not enough to fulfill the dream of holding a book with the author’s name, Rogene McPherson.
In April 2015, God connected me with Rebecca, also a writer and survivor of personal tragedy. The complexity of this meeting could have only been organized by God and His angels. This nudge was not subtle. God definitely sent me a message that day. Then only a year later, God was at work, again at Christian Writer’s Conference in Omaha, when I met Laree Lindburg and her sister Erin with Electric Moon Publishing. I was immediately impressed by what Emoon could offer me:
- Wide basis of technology without my becoming a techie, a valuable asset in the writing world
- Multitude of services provided by Christian sisters including an editor and illustrator
- Consistent support even when the proverbial nightmares interfered
- Honest and educationally sound support when needed
I better stop before I sound like a marketing expert trying to get a job. I really only want to write. All of the Emoon Team providing the support indicated above have been like a gentle nudge. God in my world has a new name, Master Nudger.
By Moira Murphy, Emoon Author
After you have decided on what to keep and what to ignore from your beta readers, the next step presents itself.
Do you use a second round of beta readers?
Well, I suppose that would depend upon how much changed from the first draft to the second draft. For example, if the corrections you made were minuscule, then I’d suggest that your editor could probably finish off the last few steps. However, if the changes from the first to the second draft were a bit more drastic, you may want to consider finding a second round of beta readers. As for myself, the changes from my original manuscript to my second was beyond drastic, therefore I required a round two. I changed the characters, part of the plot, and even the storyline.
So, if you find yourself in my position of needing a second go around with the beta readers, the question becomes; do you use the same group or find ‘fresh meat’? I feel like you can find out quite a bit about the beta readers editing style from the first round. Using that information will help determine whether a change is required. I kept two of the original beta readers, because of their beneficial comments the first round, but I also hired a few new ones. It really is up to you to determine who offered up valuable feedback, and sadly who did not. And again, I must repeat the importance of finding the right type of person to read your manuscript: fan of your genre, ability to be firm and kind, willing to be bribed. The right beta reader can be the one thing to perfect your novel.
I’ve just received the final comments from my round two, and while the critiques were much scarcer than the first novel, I am struggling to finish!
After working over a year and a half on this dang book, the last few weeks have been the most difficult to push through. But, now that I have a book launch date (*cough* May 6th *cough*), I kind of have to forge ahead.
So persist, I must. And you must, too.
By Moira Murphy, Emoon Author
My Dad had a saying growing up, "Opinions are like butts; everyone has one, but that doesn't mean I want to hear it." Wow, Dad, thanks for that philosophy to carry with me. Sadly, it has stuck around into my adult life.
However (number one), it didn't leave me with the traumatizing fear of flatulence that you'd think it would leave me with. I actually use it when it comes to beta readers. Yes, every one of my beta readers is entitled to their thoughts—I mean—I did ask them for it. But that doesn't mean I have to change my work based upon every single personal feeling.
There is always the creative license that writers have, it is your book, and ultimately your freedom to choose what ends up in the final work. If you choose to publish indie, as I am, it is you that has to feel content with the printed novel, so if you don't see eye to eye with all of your beta readers—that's okay. They aren't the ones who will have to look back at their novel in twenty years and wonder "what if I had left the book the way I wanted, would it have sold more copies? Would it have gotten better reviews?" That's you that has to deal with those crushing thoughts.
So, please be sure you agree with all the changes that are happening to your book.
However (number two), you did hire these people. And if you read my article about how important it is to choose beta readers wisely, they do know what they are taking about. The main thing I consider when reviewing beta readers’ comments and critiques is whether there was a common theme among them. Did they all say the same thing about the same part in the book? If so, then it is something you should STRONGLY consider altering.
I'm on my second round of beta readers now (which we will talk about next week), and I already have two of the beta readers’ comments back, and between the two of them there was only one commonality. So, now I need to take it upon myself to decide whether that part of the book they mentioned is something I need to change.
It's a hard thing to decide whether a few readers or your creative license is the route to take. My advice—which I should take right now—is to wait to hear back from all the beta readers before making a decision.
*GULP* I'll try, if you try.
By Moira Murphy, emoon author
Now that I’ve discussed the advantages of beta readers, and how great it is for writers, let’s discuss how to find beta readers. I was not going to simply stumble upon the perfect group of beta readers. Of course, it couldn’t be that simple. First, I had to create an internal checklist of qualities I’d appreciate in readers.
- They must have a love of reading, and a love of the author’s specific genre. (I learned this along the way, as I mistakenly chose a beta reader who was not a fan of fictional works. He made me cry.)
- They must understand that, while I don’t want them to be completely aggressive, I do actually need criticism. I need to know what didn’t connect in the story and what characters didn’t seem authentic.
- But, they also don’t need to crush my soul. I need constructive criticism, not to be beaten to the ground with every comma I forgot. We call it a ‘content edit’ in the publishing world. I want an edit that is not about grammar and punctuation, but about plot, characters, and flow. And as the author, you need to make that fact known to the beta readers.
- Lastly, they had to work for cheap, close to free. Which sounds greedy and mean, but I haven’t become a world-wide success, yet. I need to publish first. (It’s a joke. I’m not a narcissist. Calm down.)
So, I began my quest for proper beta readers.
I found a few beta readers from work and family friends, and I also asked two previous teachers I’d had. I expected an excited ‘yes!’ from everyone I asked. However, I did not receive these. Truth be told, I was asking a good chunk of time out of their lives to read and critique my manuscript. Hence, the bribery. I used Starbucks gift cards for a few of them, promises of signed copies of the final product for others, but for the most part those I asked were kind enough to offer their services as an effort to benefit the world of arts. They knew I was a poor starving artist, with nothing more than hope in my wallet and a pencil in hand, as most people who pursue their artistic dreams are.
While I was disappointed that I didn’t hear an adamant “of course I will take time out of my busy life to help you perfect your craft” from everyone, those that did answer were very helpful. I talked about how great beta readers were in the part one of this blog, so I won’t go into it again. However, I do want to reiterate how important this experience is for those looking to publish.
I can’t say give enough positive feedback on the benefits of beta readers… Do it. Do it. Seriously, do it. Do it.
Continue to follow Moira Murphy through eMoon in her series "Beta Readers Love Me; They Love Me Not" on 1/13/2017: What Do You Do with Beta Reader Feedback?