Tuesday, July 25, 2017

A New Direction from Alternative Publishing Services. What Do You Think?

I am often sent short stories and novels, the author asking for my input and opinion, something that I have been happy to give freely, with the acknowledgement that I am rendering my opinion, based upon my experiences as a writer, publisher, editor, and reader.

For me, it is quite clear, where things "fit" within a story structure; where things are a disappointment because of lack of plotting, and also how to correct it. Quite often, the "fix" is a simple one; adjust the sequence, delete the unnecessary material, add in clarifying content, shift the dynamics of the conflict, shift the focal point. Sometime it is more complex; change the characters, change the dynamics of the character interactions so that you are writing to the audience, not to some image in your head that is more idyllic. I've even told authors to shift the gender of characters to better suit the dynamic of the story.

The point is, I have offered this service at no charge for quite some time, and many people have utilized that offering, often for the better. But I have done this while also encompassing the role of publisher which, honestly, is not what my original intention was. Publishing is a tough business when you are honest; which explains why there are so many crooks out there.

I am a writer. I have also self-published, and fully understand the pitfalls of doing it yourself versus the dangers of using a publisher, such as myself; most publishers turn out to be Vanity Presses of one sort or another, either with upfront charges, book purchase requirements, or some other way of getting your money up-front.

I sort of fell into publishing. My expertise is in writing, editing, proofing, graphic design, layouts, audio work, journalism, as well as a host of other skillsets acquired over the last 30 years. It is nice to be a publisher, to help others get published, especially with my business model of the writer incurring ZERO costs and royalty sharing. It is a terrific concept if I wish to be a non-profit organization; however, the business of writing really demands a different model, I believe. There is another way.

I would like to shift Alt Publish (Alternative Publishing Services, as the name suggests) to a more fluidic concept; helping authors publish THEMSELVES. This does mean there will be costs, however those costs will be moderate. Allow me to explain further.

The areas that hurt a writer self-publishing are as follows:

•Poor story structure/Plot development
•Bad editing/Poor proofreading
•Simplistic cover design
•Using CreateSpace's free ISBN (screams AMATEUR and inhibits store placement, many of whom are anti-Amazon)
•Poor or no Marketing plan. If you write it, they do not come running.

The actual formatting and layout can be easily learned. Yes, it is a bit time consuming, especially if you lack a sophisticated program like InDesign; however, you can do it on any word processor if you take the time to learn the formatting tips.

As I detailed in my last post, there are millions of books being written, by millions of unknown authors. Chances are that someone in your group of friends is, has been, or wants to be a writer. Or, they have a story that people have told them should be made into a book, or worse, a film!

Here are some questions:

Q1:  If you could self-publish your book in a professional way, with a non-CreateSpace ISBN (and without the expense of buying your own), with a professional cover, a well doctored storyline, and know exactly where and how to market your book, would you be interested to learn more?

Q2:  If you had your own Story Therapist (me) to dive into the structure of your story and offer you an extremely detailed fix, including phone/video conference sessions, without spending a fortune, would that be a good value?

Q3: If I made available (at a low/reasonable cost) a detailed strop-by-step way for you to publish yourself without appearing to look amateurish (and actually look like you were represented by a publisher) would you be interested in reading it? 

This is not a sales pitch. At least not yet! It is, however, the direction I wish to take Alt Publish. Here is how I envision the structure:

1) Evaluating your story/novel. This is a quick, not-detailed, look at your work and whether there is something there to work with. People I have worked with know that I will tell you if I believe the story will not work (I believe it is better to be truthful rather than pump up your hopes while I siphon your money.) If I feel there is a kernel of hope, I will say so. It is up to you if you want to redo it and try again. For this I will charge you $1. Yes, one dollar. Even though it takes time to read your work, this fee represents your commitment. You won't go broke, and I can use it to offset taxes. 

If I believe there is something that can be worked, and if I have an idea of what it is, I will offer you:
2) A detailed evaluation that summarizes the strengths and weaknesses, where and what I would change, and why, along with structural and plotting points. This will be a guide-map, of sorts, that you can use to rework your manuscript. This also includes one 30-minute phone call/video call to discuss my recommendations and answer your immediate questions. And you will, and should, have questions. For this I will charge you $250. You will also receive my e-book on self-publishing (available soon.)

After this, you go off an fix things, based on our conversation, and based on that part of it you agree with – after all, it is YOUR story. That said, assuming you make the changes and have additional questions, need additional opinions, I offer you:
3) Unlimited consultations on phone/video call at the rate of $50/hr (charged in 30 minute increments.)

I will also offer services, such as cover design, ISBN (Alt Publish buys in blocks of 10 otherwise it costs way too much.)  Or you can just read the book and learn that way.  I am also available for hire for Audiobook recordings on a flat rate or royalty share (depending on the book,) and have been doing so regularly.

So does this mean that Alt Publishing will no longer publish authors under the old plan, NO COST | Royalty Share? No. That option will remain, however, I will be honest. Well over 90% of material I get sent is not publishable. Of those, half hold some aspects that can be changed to improve the story.

The problem is that authors, when told – for free – that they need to rewrite their work, tend to balk at the idea, because they forget that writing really means re-writing, and that like all things, it is a lot of work. Of all the free, detailed critiques (including suggestions) that have been sent back to authors who have submitted to me, only a handful have taken the initiative to actually work through the changes. And of those, most are still revising. It takes time. You cannot just slap a bandage on it and hope that it passes muster.

Here is an example. You all have seen the original STAR WARS film, right? Well, here is a link to George Lucas's rough draft that he submitted. The actual screenplay is floating around out there, but unless you know script format and how to read it, this is easier.  http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/The_Star_Wars:_Rough_Draft

You will note that this drafts is nothing like the famous movie that made it to the big screen.

I firmly believe in self-publishing; but only if you do it correctly. I know enough authors who make a decent living by self-publishing.

I also believe that this is a good direction for Alt Publish. It adds a new dimension that I believe will help the authors, and the company, to grow.

Let me know what you think and whether you would be interested in exploring this further.

Thanks for your ear!


Friday, July 14, 2017

The Best Book Ever Written

Well, I certainly got your attention, didn't I? 

You see, we are wired that way, both skeptics and believers, all wishing for the one absolute truth, the best of everything, whether it be a book, a life changing program, or whatever.

We are inundated, and yet trained, to want to believe. Why do we buy lottery tickets? The chance of getting struck by lightning is higher than the chance of winning. But we have been taught that "someone wins" and so we make that leap to "why not me?"

Okay. Let's roll with that for a moment. Why not you. Maybe. Possibly. But...probably not because life has a sense of humor. 

Did you know that when California first started the lottery, the first winner was an illegal alien (yes, I know that term is non-PC in California these days)? And no doubt he used his proceeds to hire a good immigration attorney. That's the irony of which I write. It could happen to you, but chances are....

As a writer we each hold within us the potential to be the best writer in the entire existence of writing.  Yes, better than the giants. Better than the bestselling authors. Better than Hemingway, a name known globally, or Stephen King, John Grisham, and so on. You have the potential to be better than the lot. But first you need to be "discovered."

ONE MILLION books were published in 2015

And more...you wrote that novel. You finished it, edited it, got a cover designed and put it out there. Whether self-published, assisted-published, or traditionally published; you are published. Well done. But you need to do more.

In 2015 there were 700,000 self-published books.  Over 300,000 were traditionally published. That's ONE MILLION books that were published that year. There were 321 million people alive in the United States that year. 

Another (Pew) study showed that one in four Americans did not read a book that year.  

Worse news still, only about 10,000 authors (from Amazon) made over $10,000/yr from sales of their books. That equates to 1 percent of all the books. 

But don't worry because you have the best book ever written. Now you have to get exposure!

But it could happen to you. I personally know one author who makes high five figures from annual sales, another who makes more, and they all found success — yes, Virginia, that is success — the same way. Do you want to know that secret? Scroll down....




😀 I just wanted to make you scroll.... My apologies. 

There are many things these authors have in common. 

•First, they write a lot. Each author has multiple books, some in series, some as stand-alones, nonetheless, they have volume. 

•Second, each author has worked hard at maintaining an approachable social media presence. You can communicate with them and they respond. 

•Third, each author employs techniques to maintain a fan base. Many give away the first book in the series, knowing that the reader will get hooked and want to read the rest of the series. Others offer different free books for joining their mailing list.

And that is the point of this blog post. 

Having the best book ever written is only half the equation. What you do with it, and how you do it, play equally important parts.  In addition, you have to decide whether your 500 page novel is better as one book, or broken into two books. How do you get reviews? How do you market? How do you approach brick and mortar bookstores and get a book signing, or placement?

There are many tricks and tips that can help you. We cover these in each issue of Books 'N Pieces Magazine, but also in our monthly newsletter that offers exclusive content. 

In each newsletter we offer you advance news, not posted on this Website. You get discount codes for books, freebies and downloads that you can enjoy. We also include content that is not found on the Website, such as marketing tips, writing tips, articles, stories and more, content that is not even in Books 'N Pieces Magazine. At least not yet.

In the near future, Books 'N Pieces will only be available FREE for our newsletter subscribers. And the best part is that signing up is FREE. Click HERE to join.

If you are writing a novel, or have written a novel and are now struggling with sales, sign up for our newsletter and find valuable assistance in your marketing. You won't regret it. What have you got to lose? Click HERE to join.

Thanks for reading.

William Gensburger

Sunday, July 9, 2017

HALF 'N HALF is not just for coffee.

Alt Publish is pleased to introduce the Half 'N Half program for our digital books. 

The concept is simple - download and read the first HALF of the book for FREE before deciding if it is worth finishing. You can download a pdf, .Kindle, ePub edition. 

We're so sure you'll want to finish that we are making this offer to you. Even better, our digital book prices are low, lower than a cup of Starbucks! So make the choice today. Try out the Half 'N Half program.

All That Remains by Robin Melhuish

A trail of love, deceit, and corruption, uncovering one of the biggest undetected robberies in history.

“A gripping story that grasps the reader in the first few pages.  Robin has a special gift for guiding his readers through a historically accurate maze.”  -Kurt Koontz, Author, "A Million Steps"


Saturday, July 8, 2017

Have you turned your book into an AUDIOBOOK yet?

Think outside the box, the book box that is. If you look at sales statistics you will find that audiobooks account for almost a third of all book sales, surpassed by e-books, with print in third place. This would not surprise you. Many people commute to work,  long and boring drives, train rides, carpool and more. Many people prefer to listen, rather than read. Teens, especially, are more likely to listen to a podcast or audiobooks.

So how does that work?  The easiest way is to use a service like Amazon's ACX service, the production arm of Audible.com.  Here you have the option of being a producer or a rights holder (publisher).  Narrators will either work for a flat rate based upon the finished time, not the production time, or elect to royalty share.

I just completed the narration for bestselling author, JC Ryan's The Tenth Cycle, an excellent series of 8 books, and I am now recording the next in the series, The Ninth Cycle: Antarctica. The process is straight forward. You need a professional quality microphone, a relatively sound-muted room, and a decent audio editor. Background sounds, hisses, pops, and breathing sounds, to name a few, must be removed. The finished product is uploaded chapter by chapter, and after Rights Holder approval, must pass the ACX audio team before being released.

I am also recording the audiobook narration for Robin Melhuish's novel, All That Remains, now available from Alt Publish no available in print no digital editions Online.

Audiobooks are a solid tool for enhancing your sales, no one you should not overlook. You can check out my narration of The Tenth Cycle at http://bit.ly/WGAudio. Let me know what you think in the comments.

Friday, July 7, 2017

"All That Remains" is a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ book.

Alt Publish is pleased to release: All That Remains by Robin Melhuish, available in print, digital/.mobi (epub available upon request.) Please learn about the book below, and also visit our other pages using the menu link above. 

Deep in the Soviet Occupation Zone of defeated Germany,1945, a baby girl is born and abandoned. From the shards of the war, she discovers an uncomfortable truth. And the uncovering of the official lies about the capture of Himmler's Nazi fortress, leads to a hunt for the proceeds of the biggest, undetected robbery in history

“So many twists and unexpected happenings. I was only sorry when I turned the last page. A SUPER READ!”  -Kasia Macioszek 

"Robin intricately weaves an intellectual cast of characters against a backdrop of page-turning plots. Historians have often asked how could these atrocities have happened? Robin's book accurately explores the events, politics, and emotions that would ultimately draw a worldwide response to the unthinkable. Great book." -Natalie Hurst, News Anchor, KBOI-2 TV

“A gripping story that grasps the reader in the first few pages.  Robin has a special gift for guiding his readers through a historically accurate maze.”  -Kurt Koontz, Author, "A Million Steps"

“This book pulls you right into the story without getting trampled with backstory before telling the tale. And what's more, it doesn't stop throughout the entire book. A fun roller-coaster ride that will keep you spellbound, I guarantee it.” -Cliff Hitchcock, Award-winning Insurance agent, and musician

"Compelling, intriguing & insightful.  A tender, yet nicely factual look at a painful piece of history." -Tracey Miller, Global Support, Riptide Sports

“So many twists and unexpected happenings. I was only sorry when I turned the last page. A SUPER READ!”  -Kasia Macioszek 

Sunday, July 2, 2017

The July Books 'N Pieces Magazine is out.

The July edition of Books 'N Pieces is available and packed with material.

Read as a PDF
Read as an ePub

Read as an Issuu flip-page magazine

In this issue, an interview with bestselling author JC Ryan (The Tenth Cycle), Twitter marketing tips from Andrew Hood, Problems with self-publishing by Robin Melhuish, short stories, and more.

JC Ryan discusses all his books 

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