Monthly Archives: July 2013

How Print-On-Demand Is Transforming Self-Publishing

By Natalie Burg

These days, everyone’s an entrepreneur. That includes creative professionals, such as artists, musicians and authors, who used to be considered nearly the vocational opposite of businesspeople. Not anymore. Thanks to the advent of self-publishing, crowdfunding and e-commerce, indie artists of all kinds are launching their creative careers as solopreneurs.

Self-publishing in general is turning the traditional publishing industry on its head, but print-on-demand services, or POD, are making every writer’s dream of becoming a published author achievable, and it’s not just because of the obvious reasons: that the out-of-pocket cost of printing one book at a time is relatively less expensive than gambling on a 1,000-book run.

“Not long ago, an aspiring book writer rejected by traditional publishing houses had only one alternative: vanity publishing. For $5,000 or $10,000, or sometimes much more, he could have his manuscript edited and published, provided that he agreed to buy many copies himself, often a few thousand or more…

Read the whole article:

We all know how tough it is to get just the right name for a character.

  • Does the name convey the subtle meanings we want?
  • What does the name mean?
  • Where in the world is it from?
  • And in the case of some names, How do I pronounce it?

One of my first sales of a short-story, back before I got OFF the Dead Tree Publishing hamster wheel, featured a Japanese character. Not to put too fine a point on it, the story really isn’t about Japanese culture at all; it’s a sci-fi story that blends computer programs and origami. All I really wanted was a name that I could verify as being Japanese and male and I was off!

But for most of my main characters, I take just as much care and effort into their name as I do into crafting any other aspect of my story.

Here are five websites to help you with names!

Social Security Administration: Popular Baby Names by Year
You can set the year of birth and get anywhere from the top 20 to the top 1,000 names in that year
Not only the top names by year, but also by region.
Remember the movie “Heathers”? Not just the trends of an individual name, but also about over-reaching trends.
Another resources for regional names.
Because sometimes knowing the name is time-frame appropriate just isn’t enough!

In this article it has come to light that publishing super-star JK Rowling conducted a very interesting experiment:

She published a book under a pen name, using a traditional publisher.

It didn’t make a huge impact.

Let’s think about this for a moment:

(C) JK Rowling

(C) JK Rowling

I’m pretty sure that anything that JK Rowling writes is as good, or even better, than her writing in Harry Potter.

So why didn’t the book have huge sales and massive followings and become a household name?

Because traditional publishers are risk-adverse, especially for “new” authors. While they may publish a book by an known, the amount of marketing effort they’ll give that book is limited at best.

And why is this a good thing for independent self-published authors?

First off, we have to understand that any book written by someone as well known as JK Rowling would be launched through a media tsunami with press releases, a news junket, author interviews and a book tour.

Very few authors receive this red-carpet treatment so we start out with an unfair disadvantage.

But for a book that was launched with the usual amount of traditional-publisher fanfare (not much) to do so well (about as well as expected from an unknown author: 1,500 copies) means that an independent author can at least equal the sales.

The article doesn’t specify how long Rowling’s book was on the market to gain its 1,500 sales, but we’re assuming that it was published April 30, 2013 and was outed as being written by Rowling on July 15, 2013. That’s two and a half months. That’s roughly 75 days.

Now, the article doesn’t specify where those sales came from: eBooks or printed. For the sake of argument, let’s assume that it is 1,500 sales across all sales channels.

That’s only 20 sales a day. Across all channels.

How many other authors out there are able to write as well as JK Rowling? I’ll bet there’s a fair number. And how many of them got turned down by traditional publishers because their name wasn’t recognized or the publishing house just didn’t want to take a chance?
JK Rowling proved that a good author can hold her own against the media storm in the wake of a new book by an author’s name who has already proven to have a following.

Thanks, Ms. Rowling. I appreciate the experiment that you conducted.

This just goes to prove that traditional publishing is more interested in their know superstars than an “unknown” author, no matter how great of a writer. Traditional publishing wants a sure-thing instead of talent. Money speaks louder than a great story.

I think I’ll stick with my sure-thing: getting my books into the hands of as many readers as possible. You can have your media tsunami; I’ll take my writing directly to my audience.

Oh, and I’ll also take my 70% royalty payment!

In my career as an author and now as a publisher, I’ve heard too many stories of authors who have given up on their manuscript. They got too many rejections. It just couldn’t be sold. It wouldn’t make enough money in the mass market.

For every story that you hear of the “overnight” success of an author who finally had a book published after twenty or thirty rejections there are hundreds of other authors who had to abandon the dream.

Does this mean that they were inferior? Or that the dream was inferior?

Nope. It simply means that at some point an author has to look at her time and say: I believe in this story but I have to live my life as well. I have to work or write another project or take care of my family or… Whatever. It’s time to stop pursuing a publishing contract.

And then there’s one Colorado author who realized that you don’t have to chase a publishing contract to have wild success. You can take matters into your own hands.

Rick Polito, author of Dark Shift, did it. In an article he gave to Claire Martin of the Marin Independent Journal, Polito said: “My agent was excited, but she was unable to sell [the book]”.


Even after having an agent who believed in him, Polito was turned down by traditional publishers. But Polito’s Dark Shift is making waves on as a self-published eBook.

Read the full article about Rick Polito in the Marin Independent Journal.

Amazon affiliate links.


A huge shout-out to all our service men and women who put their lives on the line for us so we can have our backyard BBQ, fireworks, parades, and daily celebrations.

I have a confession to tell you:

I never really “got” it until recently. I never really understood our Veterans and what they’ve given and done and sacrificed to our country. Isn’t that kind of sad? But I wasn’t raised in a military family. I had a few acquaintances who had ties to the military, my uncle sends regular care packages to troops overseas, a former roommates’ grandma makes blankets, a friend’s daughter graduated from the Air Force Academy.

But me, I never really GOT it.

Until last August when I started dating a wonderful man who had spent seven years in the Air Force. Yep, he was an officer. No, he wasn’t a pilot. He did two tours of duty, ON THE GROUND, in Afghanistan. Through his stories, I think I finally started to understand what these men and women do for us, for the country. He’s told me stories that made me laugh, he’s told stories that made me cry. And he’s told me some stories that left me shaking — stories that ended well but could have ended so badly; stories that meant that he may never have lived to even meet me, let alone help an average American woman understand what this day really means.

Now, when I thank a Veteran for his or her service, I feel I can look into their eyes and say, “I have no clue how you do it. I know the barest bit of what you give for me, and I am eternally grateful.”

So, happy Independence Day. Eat a hot dog, watch some fireworks, thank a Veteran. I appreciate you.

This post started out as a way to offer a 4th of July discount on my Publish Your eBook Blueprint: Home Study Course. But as I sat down to write, I realized that it needed to be oh so much more. So I’ll make a deal with you: Here’s your coupon:


It’s good for 20% off through the weekend. But if you choose NOT to use it, I’ll donate that same 20% to Wounded Warriors.

Announced today, two major traditional publishers will be merging: Penguin and Random House. The merger will create a new world superpower in the publishing industry.


Read some articles:

So what does this mean to you, as an indie author?

In the beginning, not much. The merge has been on the tables since October 2012. And for the first months of the new imprint, the new company will be focusing on the internal shakeups that come from any huge business change.

But after that?

After reading the articles that have appeared in world-wide press regarding the merge, I get the feeling that the end game is to have a publishing house that’s large enough to take Amazon on head-to-head. The real question is: will it happen? After all, traditional publishing can only publish so many books a year, no matter how brilliant they are. Amazon will publish any author.

The biggest advantage to publishing with traditional houses is that you have access to all their years of publishing expertise and marketing clout. Every book gets edited. Not every book or every author gets a book tour so no matter who publishes your book or how you’re publishing, a lot of the marketing burden falls back onto the author’s shoulders.

And from the article in the New York Times, “But authors and agents also quietly voiced concern that there would be fewer major publishing houses competing for their work.”

Seems to me that the book publishing world is scrambling for the best way to serve their readers and authors. And authors will be asking the tough question to any publishing house: What will you do for me?

While offers no amenities to its publishing by way of editing, marketing, or formatting, authors know exactly what it takes to make it in the Amazon publishing universe: a great story and a lot of hard work.