Not a lot of people know who she is but they are familiar with what she does and her thoughts on everything from publishing to marketing. In an interview about why ZLS does what they do, CEO Lishone’ Genovese talks candidly about why we provide tips and gives advice to authors and entrepreneurs.
Today, I went to the Empire State Book Festival (www.empirestatebookfestival.com) and to say that I was impressed is an understatement. First of all it was the 1st one ever and if BEA (Book Expo America) doesn’t watch out, they are going to have some heavy competition. The Empire State Book Festival is going to be the BEA of Upstate, especially since it was free. It’s obvious the creators of this event had done their homework. They took a good look at what the BEA has a history of doing right and wrong and went to incorporate the good and stay away from the bad. They paid attention to who the BEA was geared to and decided to not just gear it too the newbies in the industry but gear it to the aspiring authors, struggling published authors, aspiring illustrators, aspiring copywriters and authors just looking for something different; something drastically missing from the BEA.
Now, don’t get me wrong, the BEA does have some workshops geared towards writers, but you get the sense that the writer isn’t their first priority but is instead the staff of the publishing houses or the editors, agents and freelancers of the publishing industry. The Empire State Book Festival’s workshops was geared towards aspiring writers from beginning until the end. Instead of hearing from just publishers, you got to hear from actual writers who have been through what apsiring writers are trying to go through.
In addition to aspring writers, the workshops were also geared towards aspiring illustrators. Workshops such as: Small Press Publishing for Children’s Book Creators; Judging a Book By It’s Cover and Worth A Thousand Words were all done by illustrators. They not only told of their background, showed their work, but provided advice to aspiring illustrators. They also talked about the impact this digital era is having on their work. As a publisher who is not of the “BIG 6″, this portion was definitely enlightening.
This festival covered everything from memoirs to romance novels with all of it geared towards writers and illustrators. While I enjoyed most of the day and most of the workshops, there was at least one workshop that I didn’t enjoy and the BLOOK-From Blog to Book. One of the panelists was late (20 minutes to be exact) and then they didn’t really give any advice. They all lucked out as other people suggested it or they were asked to turn their blogs into books. The other thing I didn’t like about it was the fact that the Blooker’s wrote about topics that aren’t everyday topics. Those blooker’s wrote physics, food and jewish deli’s. Not your everyday topics or topics that are particularly of interest to most writers. I would have preferred blooker’s who actually went through the process by way of making the decision to turn their blogs into books and not those blooker’s who basically got it handed to them, as this is not the way it usually works for most writers. Opportunities don’t just land on their laps, but instead they have to work for them.
Aside from this panel and one parent bringing their screaming toddler into a workshop, I enjoyed it. As a publisher, I got a lot from it. I enjoyed meeting those within the industry who aren’t the CEO’s, COO’s, etc. I enjoyed listening to the illustrators explain their process. I enjoyed hearing from the writers and hearing them talk about the same things that I’ve been talking about on this blog for a while now. I felt vindicated!
I’ll be attending this year’s BEA. I am truly looking forward to it. This year’s concentration is going to be on the digital wave. I’m looking forward to really listening to this focus as the industry is drastically changing. I did hear a lot today, that the smaller publishers are going to have a distinct advantage over the smaller guys in regards to our business model. We are more flexible as oppossed to the bigger guys because they’ve been making a living off of their models for over a hundred years and to change it, is not going to be an easy task.
If I had to give the Empire State Book Festival a rating from 1-5 with 1 being the worst and 5 being the best, I’m giving it a 4.5 out of 5!
Can’t wait until next year!
You’ve created the product (wrote the book)
You are now a company (Sole proprietorship) and your company is responsible for not just having created the product, but branding your company, marketing your product and eventually selling your product.
Your begin marketing your product by getting it to your first customer (the editor)
They take a look at your product and decide whether or not it needs revising or is ready for mass selling.
If the customer likes what you’ve created, they begin spreading the word (talking to the publisher)
The publisher is now your second customer
They also decide whether to buy (accept your product) and how much to pay you for your product (advance)
If thye like your product and have bought it, then they begin spreading the word (marketing your product and you the business owner)
Eventually, word gets around and not only has the editor and publisher become your customers, but so have the Internet visitors, bookstore visitors, or grocery store shopper.
Now let’s say you are working with a freelance editor, not necessarily associated with the publishing house, the point still remains that they are your first customer. An agent is not your customer, but your business partner. Regardless of where and who the editor works for, after receiving and reviewing your product, they will spread the word. Either to a friend or via their resume (I edited so and so’s manuscript).
The agent is your business partner. They get a cut of your profits (80/20) once your product is out on the market. As a business owner, know that having a partner works as long as you two are on the same page.
But isn’t a customer someone who buys something from you?
Not necessarily. First of all, not every editor gets paid as some do editing for free. Second, even if they are paid, in the business world a customer is Customer – Groups or individuals who have a business relationship with the organization–those who receive and use or are directly affected by the products and services of the organization. Customers include direct recipients of products and services, internal customers who produce services and products for final recipients, and other organizations and entities that interact with an organization to produce products and services. [GAO]-http://www.ichnet.org/glossary.htm.
Another way to look at it is this: When a company gives you a gift card worth a certain value ($25, $50,etc)for example or even wants you to participate in a focus group, they pay you. You are the companies customer (gift card) and you are going to be the buyer or customer that helps make the product better (focus group). Paying your customer is sometimes the cost of doing business.
As you can see, being an author is serious business, but it is indeed a business. Thinking of it this way should make it easier for you to not just create a brand for yourself, but market your product and the company behind it (you).
So not true! So not true! So not true! Yes, you will hear people say this and you’ll even see it written many of times. No, it’s not easy but there are things you can do to make this dream a reality. Make sure your book has been edited well. Make sure you create a marketing plan, write out a book proposal and study the industry. You should also consider the small and medium-sized publishers who are more willing to work and develop a first-time author. Yes, it’s a dream to be published by Simon and Schuster, Random House, Penguin, etc., and see your name in lights, but don’t sleep on a small and medium-sized publisher out either. You never know, what they can do. Remember, the big guy started out the little guy and look what he has become.
Myth 2: Publishers only accept manuscripts through agents.
Not! There are tons of publishers who prefer to deal directly with the author. Key word being tons. There are lots of small and medium-sized publishers out there. Part of the issue is that writers only want to deal with the really big traditional publishers-Simon & Schuster, Penguin, etc. The fact is that some of those majors will only deal with a first-time author if they have an agent. The writer needs to broaden their publishing horizon and think about working with a small and medium-sized publisher. Writer’s Market (a reference book for writers and authors) lists over 1,000 publishing companies. More than ninety percent of those publishers do not require that an author have an agent.
Myth 3: If I have an agent, I’m guaranteed a publishing contract.
Uh no! Not really. While, the agent may think you have a decent enough book, a publisher might not feel the same way. They may think your book needs more work, it may not be written well, or it may not fit their needs at the present time. The other thing is that, while there are some really good agents, there are also some agents walking around in sheeps clothing. They are unscrupulous and ineffective. They don’t really know the industry and are more interested in getting a fee from you, than doing something for you.
Myth 4: I don’t have to edit my manuscript because the publisher is going to spend the time and money editing it for me.
What? Who came up with this stuff? A major part of whether or not your manuscript gets accepted is how the manuscript looks. A manuscript filled with lots of grammatical errors is a pain in the behind to read. It shows unprofessionalism and will most likely end up in the shredder or in the garbage. Yes, your manuscript will go through the hands of an editor, but the editor and the publisher will be very happy if they have very little editing to do. The less editing they have to do, the better it is for you. Hire a good editor before you submit your manuscript. Again, your manuscript is your baby, would you send your baby out looking like any old thing just because you know they are going to spit up on the outfit? I hope not! Make a good impression the first time and send in the very best manuscript you can.
Myth 5: Bookstores won’t carry self-published or fee-based POD published books.
As a publisher whose seen some really bad self-published books in the bookstore, I almost wish this was true, but it’s not. If the demand is big enough, they will carry it. Also, if you want the bookstore to carry your self-published book, you must! must! must! have a marketing plan for it. Those are your two options-either get it to the point where the demand is big enough for it that the bookstore is wondering why they don’t have it in their stores, or create a good marketing plan for it and present it to the bookstore convincing them that they should carry the book. You should also focus your attention on the local independent bookstores in your area. Build a relationship with them while you are writing the book so that by the time your book is ready for publication, they will be a lot more comfortable and willing to have your book in their bookstores. Authors make the mistake of seeing the book in publishing format and then approaching the bookstore owner. They are reluctant to want to do business with you because their question is, “what have you done for my business before your book got published?” If you can’t answer that, then you will have a much harder time getting your book into their store. Being selfless, instead of selfish will get you a lot further in your book publishing endeavors.
Myth 6: No one will review my book because it’s a self-published or POD published book.
Huh? Where’d this one come from? The worldwide web is your friend. Figure out what your book topic is and find the magazine that relates to your book topic. Find out who the editor of that magazine is and offer to send them a review copy. Another avenue is book clubs. Yes, you have the major book clubs out there who are very picky about the books they select and have a long waiting list of books to be read, but you also have the smaller book clubs out there who are hungry, willing and waiting to read and review your book. There are also book review services, where you pay them to read your book and they put their review on websites such as Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com and other book purchasing websites who allow book reviews. You can also look for book blogs on the web. These blogs review books because they love books. Some include:
Yes, we would all love to have our books read by The New York Times but the reality is that until that happens, don’t ignore “the little guys.” They are the ones who will be buying your books and really telling their friends about your book.
Myth 7: Writing the book is the hardest part of the process.
Not! Nope! Not even close! When you have to promote, market and even get your own distribution, writing is the easy part. Convincing people to read and buy your book is not easy. Nor is figuring out ways to get your book out there and bought. When you realize that publishing is a business and far from an easy task, you will realize that writing is the easy part. It’s like women who’ve given birth-they say labor is the easy part. Raising a productive, ethically responsible child is the hard part. If your book is your baby, then you need to look at it this way as well. Writing is like birth, it’s hard but easy, but the real work begins with raising, promoting, nurturing and marketing your baby!
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