Being Bonnie Vanak

A journey inside the mind of NY Times bestselling author Bonnie Vanak

Monday, January 27, 2014

Good publishing advice, 10 years later

My apologies for not keeping up with this blog. We had a death in the family last month and only now am I able to resume my writing and publishing responsibilities.

But I wanted to share with you this blog I wrote back in December 2004. I wrote it after hearing a favorite author speak at a meeting. It's still good advice, ten years later, although the industry has changed drastically. Who knew back in 2004 that indie publishing would explode on the horizon? Who could predict that ebooks would become wildly popular and shelf space would shrink? Who knew that stores we all loved, like Borders and Waldens, would vanish for good and the last surviving bookstore chains would close several of their bricks and mortar stores?

Ten years ago, I wrote for Dorchester Publishing and was happy to produce ONE book a year. It was a lengthy process.

Today, I publish about 3-4 books a year, one traditional book and about two or three independent titles. I have 11 self-published titles, including all SEVEN of my former Dorchester books (I got my rights back), as well as my traditionally published books with Harlequin.

Oh and I also joined a group of very talented authors and we contributed one indie book for a book bundle, sold it ONLY as a digital book... and made USA Today for three weeks straight!

This morning, I saw one of my indie Werewolves of Montana books live on Google Play... a big achievement for me because I uploaded the digital book myself. Me, the author who is NOT a tech geek and has trouble with HTML code.

Publishing has changed a LOT in ten years, but the advice Sherrilyn gave still stands. I would add this at the end, however, to accommodate those changes in publishing:  If you don't want to write for a publishing house, publish your own book. Find professional editors, cover artists, proofreaders and learn to format for digital distribution. Talk to others who've done the same and get their advice. Because it IS a brave, new world out there for authors and we are in the midst of exciting new changes!

Blog from 12-6-2004

Let me preface this blog by saying that I'm a big Sherrilyn/Kinley MacGregor fan. I love her historicals and her paranormal books.

Anyway, she had a lot of really good advice that I thought I'd share with you all.

She said instead of tracking publishing houses and trends that it's better to track editors. By that she meant to find out what the editors are reading for pleasure, what book is on their bedside table, what was the last book they purchased, etc. She said you'll find out more about what an editor really likes that way than by looking at what they're purchasing for the publishing house. She said a lot of editors buy work that they know will make the publisher money, but they aren't particularly into personally. She mentioned that having an editor that loves your work is the biggest career boost you can get. She suggested that you ask these questions after you get done pitching to an editor at a conference, if you have time left over.

She also said if you want to 'eat' aka make a living, then you're going to have to figure out a way of making yourself more productive. Sherrilyn said at the bare minimum you have to be able to write two single titles a year. Never make promises you can't keep. It's a career killer. She also said to write for more than one publisher if possible, but always let your original publisher have first shot at any new work. You don't want to burn bridges.

She said to go through the drugstores, airports, and grocery stores to see what publishers and authors are getting distributed. She said that distribution is the single most important thing for a new author to have. It's worth a lower advance, if you can get in these high volume distribution areas.

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