These doubts are normal! They’re part of the process.
But sometimes those doubts point to more than a healthy (or not-so-healthy) lack of self confidence. Sometimes they point to real trouble areas with your idea or writing.
So how do you know when the doubts are more than just doubts? How do you know when it might be time to trash your working manuscript or idea and move on to something new?
I’ve worked with many authors who have said that the whole “publishing thing” didn’t feel real until they received their cover art. Maybe it was finally being able to visualize the book as it would be in stores. Maybe it was seeing their name in specialized fonts. Whatever it was, receiving covert art is a turning point for many authors. It’s when the process goes from dream to reality.
While the cover art process is an important one, few authors know what to expect, how to navigate it, and, if they’re self-publishing, how much they should expect to pay. In this week’s episode of The Gatecrashers Podcast, we discuss all that and more. Listen in on our conversation on book cover art.
Most authors dream of getting a movie deal for their book. For years, that dream was near-impossible. Sure, the project may get picked up by a production company, but the chances of it making it to screen were small.
And then things changed.
With the rise of streaming services has come a greater need for visual content. Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Video are buying up projects left and right, employing small production companies to do most of the work for them.
Sure, the big deals with big Hollywood companies are still hard to come by, but as Tiger King showed us, selling a project to a streaming service can be just as much of a success as landing a feature film.
So what does the book-to-film process look like? What should authors know?
Some publishers are laying people off.
Some bookstores are launching GoFundMe campaigns to stay afloat.
And many authors have seen massive income hits.
In this week’s episode of our Gatecrasher’s Podcast, Amanda Luedeke and her cohost Charis Crowe discuss a number of publishing headlines as they relate to the current worldwide pandemic.
For quite awhile on this blog I had a weekly column entitled Thursdays with Amanda. I’d talk primarily about marketing, since that was my background, and try to help authors navigate what can oftentimes seem like a mystery. It led to a book and countless conversations with authors who wanted to better understand how to be smart about book marketing.
Then, some years ago we decided to take a break from blogging. It was taking up a lot of time and Chip and I were both busy pursuing career growth.
But last fall, I got the itch to once again share what I know with authors.
And so The Gatecrashers Podcast was born.
This isn’t your typical podcast of author interviews or happy talk. This is an industry-focused weekly show in which we “storm the gates of publishing and dare to talk about the realities of the industry.”
Some of the topics we’ve covered include:
- How do publishers determine marketing budgets?
- What agents aren’t telling you …
- The biggest mistakes you’re likely to make …
- How will COVID-19 affect book publishing?
- And more.
My cohost, Charis Crowe, brings insight from the self-publishing world while I offer ten years of experience in the industry as a book agent and now V-P of MacGregor & Luedeke.
I hope you’ll give us a listen. And if you’re on Facebook, find me at Facebook.com/AgentAmandaLuedeke. There, I post my deals, share info, and interact with my followers.
We have a new logo and a new partnership!
For the past ten years, we (Chip & Amanda) have worked as colleagues, serving authors and doing our part to make books happen. We are thrilled for this next chapter.
As announced last week, MacGregor Literary will now be operating as MacGregor & Luedeke. Amanda has been made partner, further solidifying her role with the agency.
Agenting continues to be our passion. The industry is constantly changing, but we continue to do business we’re proud of, representing authors and projects we believe in.
To the future!
Chip MacGregor & Amanda Luedeke
This month I’m back to trying to get to all the questions people say they’d like to ask an agent, if they could just sit down with him or her for a few minutes and talk privately. In light of some of the notes Steve Oates, the VP of Marketing at Bethany House, shared on this blog last week, here are some questions that people have asked recently…
So are the low costs of e-books costing authors money?
Sure. (Expect to see a bunch of indie published authors tearing their hair out over this response, because they tend not to want to hear about economics, in my experience.) Okay, if a retailer sells a book for $20, the royalty paid to the author is higher than if the publishers sells it for $10. The average e-book is way down — many below $5, and often you’ll see a slug of books for 99 cents. That doesn’t leave much for an author. So earnings are down across the board, but they are more spread out among a wider group of authors — that makes it feel as though there’s more money being paid out. Economically, it’s not true. The overall sales numbers are fairly stable the past couple of years. So with all the low priced ebooks and mass market titles earning less per book, the overall income of authors is actually down.
Saying that doesn’t make me negative on indie publishing, by the way, and certainly not on genre publishing. Anyone who knows me or has read the blog for any length of time knows I have long been a fan of indie publishing, and I’ve represented a ton of category fiction. The concern is with the low price point, which has lowered the earnings of authors — particularly established authors. The argument is made that people want a deal, and low prices build readership by finding readers who will
Steve Oates is the VP of Marketing for Bethany House Publishers. Recently, after I had blogged about the significant changes we’ve seen in Christian fiction, he contacted me with some thoughts. I invited him to send me a blog post to use — and here is his initial response…
Hardly a week goes by without another announcement from someone that they are getting out of the Christian fiction market, or another retailer is going out of business or shutting down. So, is it time for all of us working in Christian fiction to quit and find something else to do?
Before we all leave town, let’s check on the data and see what we can actually know about this market. I recently did the second year of a study of what is selling in all markets under the Christian and Amish fiction categories as reported by Bookscan (these are the data folks behind the ECPA bestseller lists). What I found is surprising: While there is a lot of upheaval in what is selling, what is remarkable is that both unit and dollar sales of fiction actually rose slightly from 2016 to 2017. And we are not talking digital here, this is just print, and just in the trade paperback and hardcover formats.
So if sales are growing rather than declining, why so much pain in the market? The pain is real, and there is consolidation taking place. What we are seeing is a migration in the market out of the “C” level books that is going into the “B” level books. By this I mean a movement out of the bottom tier (based on sales of less than 7,500 copies) in to the next tier — let’s say books that sell in the 7,500 to 15,000 range. The shrinking shelf space has harmed stocking of these lower-potential books, stores simply can’t put them all out there, and their marketing
So if you could sit down at Starbucks with a literary agent, and ask him any question you wanted, what would you ask? I’m taking a few months to let writers ask those questions they’ve always wanted to talk over with an agent…
Does being a self-published author with several books help or hurt your chances of getting an agent to read something?
If the books are well written and have a good track record of sales, that will improve your chances. If the books are poorly done, or if you can’t show that you’ve sold many copies (or worse, the Amazon numbers reveal you haven’t sold many books), it will hurt your chances. I guess that’s not a surprise to you. But understand that indie-pubbed books don’t disqualify you from landing an agent, nor does having a printed book you did on CreateSpace help your cause very much. An agent is going to be looking for a great idea, expressed through great writing, from an author with a great platform who has a strong track record of sales.
What advice would you give a first-time author? I’ve been trying to network, but not sure what else to do.
Know your audience. Take charge of your marketing. Have goals. Talk with someone who really knows how to market. Go to everyone you know. Do everything the publisher asks you to do. Research where your likely readers are online — maybe make a list of the top 100 sites your potential readers are gathering — then find ways to get onto those sites and get your name and book title in front of those readers. Learn to talk about your story in a way that’s interesting, and find venues to do that. Solicit reviews. Use the Amazon tools. Figure out some strategies you are comfortable with, and which you think will be effective, then do them. Don’t expect miracles. Don’t give
As I write this, it’s Mother’s Day, and I happen to have been born on Mother’s Day oh those many decades ago. I’m home, my mom is long gone, and I realized writers have been sending in a LOT of questions, so I thought I should take a Sunday afternoon and try to do a bunch of them, in order to catch up on the pile a bit. Again, all this month we’re inviting authors to send the question they’ve always wanted to ask a literary agent, if only they could be face to face. Here are some that have come in recently…
I know many agents are looking for an author to have a big “platform.” How do you define a platform. And what does a big platform look like to you?
A platform is a number. Do you speak? How many people do you speak to over the course of a year? You write a column? What’s your readership? You’re on radio? What’s your listenership? You blog? How many hits do you get? You do a column? How many people read your work? You belong to organizations? How many people are you connected to? All of those are numbers — just add up the numbers, and you’ll know how big your platform is. The bigger the number, more people you have the potential to reach out to, the happier a publisher is going to be. More important is how many people you actually have some sort of relationship with — that is, how many of those folks do you speak to or consider an acquaintance? Can you suggest what percentage might actually purchase a book? A small publisher may be happy with a platform of ten to twenty thousand. A medium sized published may be looking for a platform that is at least forty to sixty thousand. A large publisher may not be all that interested if your