Note: The publishing world in NYC continues to believe that they are the center point of the universe when it comes to publishing. Because of this concept, I sadly see too many businesses and organizations cater to the top five publishing companies in a way that hurts Indie Authors.
My trip to NYC last week will result in a wide range of benefits for Texas Authors and Indie Authors collectively. One of my meetings was with the Authors Guild, which is an organization that supports authors of all types. They handle mostly the legal aspect of writing; contracts, infringement on rights, etc., they are a great organization to belong too. It so happened that while in NYC, one of the board members released an open letter to their membership that also applies to our membership and is something that I have been speaking on for a few years now. My new book due out in 2020 "Authors Revolution" is about this and other aspects of publishing. I hope you will take the time to read the full letter that is posted on our blog and check out this organization for membership.
‘We’re Still Getting Our Asses Kicked’
In an open letter this month addressed to members of the Authors Guild, the organization’s vice president, the American author Richard Russo, has warned that tech companies’ operations in the content space may increasingly threaten writers’ livelihoods and recognition.
“Traditional publishers may have underpaid us,” Russo writes, “but at least to them we were poets and painters and songwriters, terms that implied both respect and ownership of what we made, at least until we’ve sold it to them.
“The tech ethos is different. To them, we’re often seen as mere hirelings. And since those who hire us are in the business of business, they have a fiduciary responsibility to their stockholders to pay us as little as they can get away with and to make certain we understand that we’re mere workers, not partners in the enterprise.”
The commentary is a follow-up to Russo’s 2013 letter to the membership. In this message, he touches on favorite points of criticism, including “the scorched-earth capitalism of companies like Google and Amazon, by spineless publishers who won’t stand up to them, by the ‘information wants to be free’ crowd who believe that art should be cheap or free and treated as a commodity, by Internet search engines who are all too happy to direct people to online sites that sell pirated (read ‘stolen’) books.”
Clearly, there are many with whom to take umbrage.
Five years later, Russo writes to an author-advocacy trade organization that has grown past the 10,000-member mark and has become the lead response group in many issues authors are encountering, from inappropriate trademark efforts to contractual conflicts with publishers.
Most recently, for example, the guild has written letters in support of the writers of Slate and Thrillist, arguing that they should be allow to unionize. There’s probably a clue to the direction the guild itself is going in representing authors in its posting about the new letters: “Few individual writers have any true bargaining power, but collective bargaining gives writers greater leverage to negotiate the terms of their employment. “The Authors Guild supports collective bargaining for all staff writers and hopes to one day attain similar benefits for freelance journalists and authors.”
Read the full letter on our blog
A note from a TxAuthor Member:
I've been a member of the Authors Guild since 2000, wish I would have known of them earlier, been a member, for they could helped review a book contract I had no idea what I was signing. I lost/unknowingly complete control of the manuscript, received nothing for the purchase of it, didn't even recognize my manuscript after they published the book they "bought", which they (the Publisher) actually stole because they did not pay me one dollar for the manuscript.
The book was published in the US and other countries; I never received one cent in royalties, never did a book signing, nothing, and that happened in 1997.
This type of "crime" still happens today to other writers without knowledge and without legal help to review a contract; which the Authors Guild does for its members.
Since that horrible experience I have used the Authors Guild for legal advice. They are the best there is.
I urge every writer/author of ANYTHING, song writer, script writer, poet, speech writer, etc. to join the Authors Guild.
At the Authors Marketing Event last July, we had the duo team known as the Dallas Geeks attend and video tape any author that wanted to talk about their books. This was a free service that we offered and are happy to do again next year for those joining us in San Antonio
The guys finally worked their magic and edited some of the shows and have scheduled to add the shows to their site. The first show posted is of JoAnn Wagner author of Sir Pigglesworth. Links for the shows are added each we below.
Each week a new author will be added to their website, which allows for the authors to promote the video and add the link to their websites. A great promotional tool we are thrilled to make available to the authors that attended AME.
Here is a list of the authors and the dates their video will appear on the Dallas Geeks website.
Survey by National Endowment for the Arts records sharp fall in the number of adults who read novels and short stories
Alison Flood in The Guardian Mon 17 Sep 2018 12.41 EDT
The number of adults in the US reading novels and short stories has hit a new low, with the decline of almost 8% in the last five years seen mainly among women, African Americans and younger adults, according to a major new survey.
Run in conjunction with the US Census Bureau at regular intervals since 1982, the National Endowment for the Arts surveyed almost 30,000 adults. It found good news for poetry, with 11.7% of adults saying they had read poetry last year, an increase of 76% – equivalent to 28 million people – on 2012.
But novels and short-story reading rates have declined, from 47% of the US population in 2008, and 45.2% in 2012 to just 41.8% in 2017. According to the NEA, the drops were “mainly among women, African Americans, and 18- to 24-year-olds”. The percentage of women reading novels fell from 54.6% in 2012 to 50% five years later. African Americans reading novels were down almost 7%, to just over 30%, and 18- to 24-year-old fiction readers declined 7.2%, to 38.7%. White readers of novels were also down, by almost 3%, to 48%.
The continuing pattern of decline identified in the survey is echoed by book sales, according to Publishers Weekly, which cited figures from the Association of American Publishers that showed that fiction buyers had fallen by 17% between 2013 and 2018.
Overall, said the NEA, book reading remained “on par” with previous surveys in 2012 and 2008: almost 53% of American adults read a book in any genre in 2017 – not a statistically significant decline from 2012’s 54.6%. The survey did, however, call the 3% decline in female readers “significant”.
The boom in poetry reading – the first in the history of the NEA survey – was driven by younger readers: sales are thriving for “Instapoets” such as Rupi Kaur, whose collection Milk and Honey has sold more than 1m copies around the world. The share of 18- to 24-year-olds who read poetry more than doubled over the last five years, making this group the most likely to read poetry.
Women also flocked to poetry, increasing from 8% in 2012 to 14.5% in 2017, as did Hispanic poetry readers, up from 4.9% five years ago to 9.7% in 2017, African Americans (up 8.4%) and Asian Americans (up 7.8%). At 15.3%, the ethnic group most likely to read poetry in the US is now African Americans, the survey found.
“For the first time in the survey’s history, reading rates for poetry and plays have increased from the prior survey period,” wrote the NEA’s director of research and analysis, Sunil Iyengar, introducing the survey. “The surge in poetry reading was experienced by diverse demographic groups.”
Iyengar said that the NEA would explore the decline in novel and short story reading in future reports.
As a published author, what are YOU going to do about this? This is your income decreasing!
I created four characters that are meant to be for a comic book known as the "Super Readers". They were created with certain 'super hero' aspects, but ALL of them have something in common; reading, writing and books.
They illustrate to children that by starting to read at a young age and continually reading through adult hood they can become their own Super Hero's because of what they read.
I hope you will check them out and support getting them made into a comic book that we can share with Texas Students. http://deartexas.info/index.php/superreaders
By: Chuck Sambuchino | June 1, 2015
Because summer is a busy time for people traveling to writers’conferences nationwide, I am re-running this great 2014 post. Enjoy.
—————- I’ll admit: I was scared to death to live-pitch my book the first time, and I almost didn’t. I figured I was better with words on a page, so I’d just query the agents I met at conferences. I am a huge proponent of pitching your book in person to an agent, though, because it’s incredibly beneficial. Here are seven tips to keep in mind:
Tip #1: If you can get a pitch session with an agent/editor, do it!
Agents get tons of queries every single day, and a good 90% of them come from people who haven’t worked very hard to perfect their craft. Agents know that if you go to conferences, you’re likely in the 10% who have. If you go to a conference and pitch, you’re likely a top 10% writer who has a book close to being worthy of representation. It also gives both of you a chance to meet each other, and that’s invaluable.
(Do you need multiple literary agents if you write different genres?)
Tip #2: If you don’t register in time to schedule a pitch session, get on a waiting list.
Pitch sessions fill up quickly. People get nervous, though, or don’t get their book ready in time, so they cancel often. They shouldn’t, but they do, and this is good for anyone who is on the waiting list.
Tip #3: Figure out what you want to cover during your pitch session.
Don’t memorize a script, but do memorize the points you want to cover. Then you can talk like a normal person about it. And definitely practice talking like a normal person about it to everyone who will listen. The more comfortable you feel when talking about your book, the better your pitch session will go.
Tip #4: Go with other questions in mind.
I speed-talked my way through my first pitch session, because when I’m nervous I don’t ramble– I leave things out. So my pitch was done in less than 30 seconds. After asking me a few questions, the agent requested my full. Then she said, “Do you have any questions for me?” I hadn’t thought about questions for her! I sat there, feeling awkward, said, “Um…. Nope?” then shook her hand and left, with seven minutes of our meeting unused.
Don’t do what I did! Use that time to ask about their agenting style. Ask about the industry. Ask about the process. Ask about craft. Ask questions about your plot. Ask about anything writing related. Chat. See how your personalities mesh. Just don’t leave seven minutes early. You paid for that time– use it.
Tip #5: Don’t cancel your pitch if your book isn’t ready.
When you signed up for a pitch, it was five months before the conference and you thought your novel would be ready, but it isn’t. Don’t cancel your pitch! (Unless, of course, you’ve signed with an agent since then.) If your book isn’t ready, but you’re working hard to get it there, pitch it anyway. When you send a query to an agent and they request pages, you should get it to them within about 24 hours. When you pitch, you have a YEAR to get it to them. A year! So don’t stress that it isn’t completely ready– there’s plenty of time to make it shine. You are pitching to see if the story idea fits with them, if they think its a marketable enough idea that they want to see pages, and if it’s a story that they have the right contacts to sell.
(Can writers query multiple agents at the same agency?)
Tip #6: Your pitch session doesn’t have to be used to pitch.
That ten minutes you’ve signed up for is YOUR TIME. Use it wisely. You’ve bought not only that agent’s (or editor’s) time, but their expertise. And it is expertise in an area they are incredibly passionate about. They want to help you. If, for whatever reason, you don’t want to pitch your book, use that ten minutes in non-pitching ways. Some examples:
• Show them your query letter, and ask for a critique.
• Have the agent read the first pages of your manuscript until they would normally stop. Then talk about what stopped them.
• If you’re about to start a new novel and are wondering which of your ideas are most marketable, pitch them to the agent, and ask which they think would be best to focus on.
Tip #7: Don’t be nervous. Really.
The most important thing: remember that they are just people. It may feel like they’re rock stars, but they’re actually completely normal. And because they are, they just might be a little nervous, too. It helps to remember that when you’re sitting across a table from them.
So the next time you get an opportunity to pitch to an agent or editor, make sure you seize it!
Many authors join Texas Authors & Indie Beacon and then abruptly leave as they are expecting to see quick results by us selling their books for them. This quick result concept also applies to when an author goes to a book festival. They expect to sell enough books to at least pay for their expenses. Both of these are short-sighted views on marketing books. Texas Authors & Indie Beacon is about the long-term goal of creating a career as an Authorpreneur. Authors are creative people and want to write stories that move people and sell great numbers of copies. To do this is expensive and many authors want to see a return for their investment (ROI) as quickly as possible. Those authors miss the bigger picture of long-term growth. Just like expecting to earn their money back at the book festival, they miss the fact that someone they may have met may be that one person who loves their book so much that they can’t stop talking about it. That one person could in fact be the person that makes the author famous.
Would you go into a job as a new employee and expect to be promoted to the boss’s job immediately? Would you expect to be earning the top wages immediately? No. If your job required training of some sort, you may have gone to college or spent years doing ‘on the job’ training to become great at what you do and to be able to earn the big bucks. It is exactly the same with being an Author.
While you may be able to crank out a manuscript in a few weeks, months or within a year’s time, this doesn’t mean that it will be an instant best seller. Writing that book in today’s world is only 10% of the work. The remainder of the work is still ahead of you and may take years to accomplish. It is this aspect of being an author that Texas Authors was created for.
It seems almost funny for me, of all people to be typing this, as I am one who is impatient and wants to see results quickly. I have learned over the past 7 years to be patient and to work hard to create an organization that will help authors to succeed. I still have a lot of work ahead of me, and I am more than eager to work hard at times, not at all times, but most. I am willing to continue to work 80-100 hours a week to build several organizations that give authors all the tools and possibilities to succeed if they too are willing to work at it.
I have seen many authors take their time and grow with the organization and continue to grow successfully with their books. Some have won awards over the years, some have seen nice increases in book sales and many have been inspired to become the best Authorpreneur they can be.
Texas Authors and I are always eager to hear of new ideas and concepts that will help our programs, events and opportunities to continue to grow and become stronger. I will test things to see if they work and if they don’t. I will share with the membership my thoughts about those items. I do not want the author to reinvent the wheel. I encourage each author to plan to be with us for more than one year, maybe several years so that as we continue to grow and learn new and exciting things in the publishing world, that it too will help you to grow stronger and better as an Authorpreneur.
Don’t fall for those schemes where someone has a person that sold a million copies of their books and now wants to share how you too can do the same. They just want your money, and yes, a million other people bought into that scheme and made that sales person rich. Remember, of the over 1 million authors in the USA, only 10% have sold more then 100,000 copies of their books. That doesn’t mean you can’t do it, but it does mean you have to work at it, just like they did.
Texas Authors continues to become a serious player in the world of publishing, and as a member, that benefits you in more ways then you may know. That’s part of the team work and family of authors that we have created over the years. We welcome you to not only be a part of it but be a family member for the long term. Families grow stronger together, not apart!
Porter Anderson on December 14, 2018
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals rules that resale of digital content as conceived by the startup ReDigi is a copyright infringement.
‘This Cockroach of a Legal Case’
Probably the most ringing phrase in this week’s news about the Capitol Records v. ReDigi case is Michael Cader’s “once again.”
In his report at Publishers Lunch, Cader is getting at the revolving-door feel of a long-running and failed effort.
He writes, “Just as a district court unequivocally and thoroughly called the (now bankrupt) startup ReDigi’s efforts to establish a scheme and marketplace for reselling ‘used’ copies of copyrighted digital files of music (and thus potentially ebooks, as well as video, games and software) copyright infringement in 2013, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals has ratified that decision in this cockroach of a legal case.”
And he’ll get no argument from the Association of American Publishers. In a statement from the AAP’s president and CEO, Maria A, Pallante, we read:
“Publishers welcome the Second Circuit’s sound ruling in Capitol Records v. ReDigi on on the three major issues addressed in the opinion.
“First, in applying the plain meaning of the Copyright Act, the court confirmed that when a defendant makes unauthorized reproductions of copyrighted works and distributes them, it is not merely reselling or retransferring used works in the manner of a used bookstore. Rather, it is engaged in copyright infringement, and therefore disqualified from asserting the limitations on the distribution right afforded by the first sale doctrine.
“Second, the court unequivocally rejected fair use, in which it highlighted that the defendant’s conduct creates nearly identical copies of protected works and is therefore aimed squarely at the copyright owners’ primary markets.
“Third, the court rejected the invitation from law professors to overtake Congress on matters of policy, noting that on the question of whether first sale should be extended to the digital realm, it is not the court but Congress they must seek to persuade.
“This case is critical in that it reinforces the underlying equities of the copyright law, in which the rights and investments of copyright owners are a valuable part of the marketplace of innovation, not to be minimized or appropriated in the name of expediency.”
In essence, per the AAP, the court’s opinion is—once again, as Cader has it—a rejection of the “first sale doctrine” as a defense of the idea of making unauthorized copies of digital files.
Plainly put: No, you cannot sell your ebooks to a second-hand vendor as you might sell your used physical textbooks to the campus bookstore.
Some of us remember numbing presentations in New York years ago of the ReDigi concept of a “used digital resale platform,” and as far back as March 2013, a Tools of Change article from Jenn Webb looked at the issue and many viewpoints on it–mentioning even then “ReDigi’s ongoing court case.”
At Publishers Weekly, Andrew Albanese this week looks back at how, “When it first launched in 2011, ReDigi touted the legality of its service. Users could upload their old iTunes tracks to ReDigi, which removed the tracks from the user’s computer, and offered them for resale. The company stressed that it never copied the files, but rather ‘migrated’ them, bit by bit, from one device to another, the end result mimicking an analog resale.”
Albanese also refers to the amicus brief filed last year by the AAP in the case, in which the association warned of “grave and immediate consequences for the publishers of literary works in print and digital formats,” something that would be “out of step with the careful calibrations employed by Congress and the courts when considering infringements” to copyright protection.
As Albanese now writes, “If digital first sale is going to become a reality, it may take an act of Congress to do it.
“In a highly anticipated decision, a three-judge panel of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals this week shot down the prospect of a resale market for digital files emerging any time soon, unanimously affirming a 2013 ruling that effectively shut down ReDigi, the upstart service created in 2011 to offer consumers a way to resell their legally purchased iTunes files.”