Chrysalis: Emerging Women Writers

January 13, 2011

Notes from April Eberhardt’s Lecture

Filed under: Motivations,Technique,Writing — Lisa Nowak @ 11:09 am
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The following notes were taken by  Lisa Nowak and Alice Lynn at the Willamette Writers Meeting on January 4, 2011:

The publishing models are changing.  Power is shifting to the author.

The Big Six publishers are offering fewer books and their share of the market is dropping.  The count of e-Books and self-published books has risen to over a million and that number is bound to increase.  Authors and readers no longer need big publishers the way they used to

At the end of 2010, there were 10.3 million e-readers, up from 3 million in 2009

E-Books comprise 1/3 of all sales now, jumping up from 1/2 of 1%

There are more options now to getting published.  Authors need to make more informed choices and must check their individual goals.  Some options include publishing with Scrib, Smashwords, and Publication Studio, located in Portland. The hybrid models include a sharing of costs and profits between the agent or publisher and the author

The route you choose today can change tomorrow.  You need to stay on top of the latest changes.  But some successful authors are going to self-publishing.

There are three publishing choices:

  • Traditional: using an agent
  • Submitting to small and University presses
  • E-Books

Traditional publishing can include not only the big presses (like The Big Six) but also the smaller presses.  However, agents rarely submit to smaller presses.

Traditional Model


  • Someone else does much of the footwork
  • You enjoy the status of being published by a major house


  • Chances of finding an agent are slim
  • The chances of an agent actually selling your work to a publisher are slim and getting slimmer.
  • Advances are shrinking, and in some cases, non-existent.
    • Advances now range from 5,000 to 10,000 dollars (down from the 6 figure numbers of old); Advance are paid in dribs and drabs over a long period of time, like a year, and maybe more.  They stretch it out.
  • It can take up to 2 years (or as long as 4) to actually see your book in print.
  • Even with a publisher, you need to do much of the marketing yourself
    • You’ll need to set up and maintain a website
    • Publicize yourself
    • Pay for much of or all of book tours
  • You lose all your rights; e-rights, movie rights, re-print rights etc.
  • If your first book doesn’t sell well, they won’t even look at your next one.
  • You may or may not make a profit.
  • Big publishers are looking for blockbusters.

Small and Independent Presses


  • You may get a small advance, set up book cover, some marketing
  • Status of being published by an established press


  • You will need to do the research —lots of it—before choosing who to submit to.
  • You may not hear back for two years if at all on submission
  • Competition is fierce
  • Advances are often non-existent
  • If accepted, it can still take 2 years to publication
  • You have to do most of the marketing yourself
  • You probably won’t make a profit
  • Chances of acceptance are small



  • You’re in control
  • You retain all your rights (very important)
  • Once your cost is recovered, you make a profit
  • You can choose, change or redesign your book and/or cover
  • You can do two versions of the same book for different markets (some folks have)
  • You can write in different genres (some traditional publishers frown on this)
  • Relatively easy and inexpensive
  • The web is an easy and cost effective marketing resource


  • There is still something of a stigma to self-publishing
  • There is a public perception that self-published books are second rate, though putting out your best work, carefully edited and presented, will help to dispel that idea; there have been cases where self-published works have been picked up by an agent or traditional publisher and become very successful.
  • You still have to market and promote your book, but you control the expenditures.

Advice about self-publishing:

  • Be sure you have a good story!!!
  • It has to be well written!!
  • It has to be edited; hire a professional freelancer to edit before submission
  • Critique groups and Trade critiques are also good
  • It’s good to have a book that fits in a niche
  • Check out the web and explore
  • Create an arresting cover; even for e-Books. Covers sell!  Get a pro to do it.
  • Tune up your marketing skills
  • You can hire professionals who are out of a job for specialized things like layouts, editing, or cover design and marketing.
  • Network with friends and associates

Check out Publisher’s Weekly.  Sometimes they review self-published books.

Bookstores aren’t really a good deal…although Powell’s carried some self-published work.  A possible way to get your self-published work into a bookstore would be to organize a group of writers to approach them.

Lightning Source (a publishing option) works with Ingrams who will distribute your book to bookstores (of course they get a % as does the bookstore!).

Be active in blog tours; maybe someone will give you an interview in one.

Traditional publishers will usually do a run of 5,000 to 10,000 books for a new author; if they don’t sell, they’re “re-possessed” and dumped in a landfill.  😦

Investment in Self Publishing: About $3,000 includes:

  • Professional editing
  • Proper layout
  • Cover design

Marketing and Promotion

The Hybrid Model of Self-Publishing covers

  • Cover design
  • Layout
  • Editing
  • They develop a website to market your book to a targeted audience

Contact “agent presses” prior to self-publishing.

Marketing through Facebook is also an option

Using your email contacts, send an announcement, a synopsis, a thumbnail of the cover, and ask if they would tell the people they know about your book.

Go to a topic related to your book on the Internet; find site sthat might or would be interested in your book and see if you can link to them and/or advertise on their site.

Google “New Publishing Models”


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