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Whether you are an aspiring author, a published author, a publisher or one who provides services to those who publish, the purpose of this SLPA Blog is to provide information and resources on a full range of author/publishers issues and ideas.
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  • Friday, May 06, 2022 9:41 PM | Linda Austin (Administrator)

    Authors must often juggle multiple tasks and responsibilities on the journey to publication and beyond. Brian Feinblum, creator of BookMarketingBuzzBlog, addresses the common complaints and problems many authors face. His April 8, 2022, blog post shares hard truths and practical advice for authors at every stage.

    The Truth That Authors Need to Hear


  • Tuesday, March 01, 2022 11:28 AM | Linda Austin (Administrator)

    Our SLPA online Vendor Showcase is March 9 where we feature a number of publishing services professionals (editors, designers, coaches, etc.) you can meet with and ask questions. Ruth Thaler-Carter, SLPA member and writer/editor/proofreader, has written a helpful article:

    Finding and Working With Publishing Service Providers

    Every author — whether well-published or still aspiring, independent or traditional — needs support from professional editors and proofreaders, and sometimes from indexers, graphic artists/illustrators and cover artists, and layout professionals, as well as agents and marketers or publicists. Here are some tips on finding ones who will help smooth your path to publication, and how to work with them. (These are also good resources for colleagues interested in becoming such service providers.)

    Organizations (to join or consult)

    St. Louis Publishers Association

    St. Louis Writers Guild

    Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA)

    National Association of Independent Writers and Editors

    Editorial Freelancers Association (for finding service providers and seeing common rates charged by members)

    ACES: The Society for Editing

    American Society for Indexing

    Association of Authors’ Representatives

    The Writer’s Ally (Allyson Machate)

    Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI)

    Publications

    Writer’s Market

    Writer’s Digest

    Poets & Writers

    The Paper It’s Written On, by Dick Margulis and Karin Cather (about contracts)

    Online

    Facebook groups

    LinkedIn groups

    Twitter

    Instagram

    TikTok

    Beware of

    Super-cheap providers

    Publishing platforms —

    -Providers might not be skilled or experienced,

    -contact between author and provider often limited

    Writing or grammar software programs —

    -Often wrong!

    How to ask for writing, editing, proofreading services

    Provide genre, number of words, timeframe, budget

    Request and contact references

    Request sample edit/proof — short; ideally paid; same sample for every candidate!

    How to pay

    By the word, hour, page (1 page = 250 words!), project, image — every provider is different

    Advance/deposit; increments by chapter, pages, hours, etc.

    What to provide

    Full, finished manuscript in Word, 12-point type size, black “ink,” 1-inch margins,

    -double-spaced, no fancy formatting or multiple typefaces,

    -artwork indicated with captions but not in the manuscript

    -(Some editors will accept a manuscript in progress so the author can learn from and correct basic errors as they write more.)

    Your contact info

    Advance/deposit against fee (It’s OK to pay in increments rather than all at once when done)

    Marketing/publicity plan or ideas

    Do

    Start saving now for services

    Learn about levels of editing, difference between editing and proofreading.

    Learn about the publishing process

    Join a critique group to get feedback on your book before sending it to an editor

    Check references

    Pay appropriately — you get what you pay for

    Don’t

    Send a first draft

    Do your own design/layout

    Pester the service provider for updates

    Rewrite while editing, proofing or design, etc., is underway

    - - - - -

    Ruth E. Thaler-Carter (www.writerruth.com, Ruth@writerruth.com) is a long-time, award-winning freelance writer/editor/proofreader. She is the owner and creator of Communication Central’s annual Be a Better Freelancer® conference, to be held this year in St. Louis in October at the Moonrise Hotel in U City, and also owns the An American Editor blog and A Flair for Writing publishing company.

  • Saturday, February 12, 2022 1:03 PM | Linda Austin (Administrator)

    Writers are always hearing about "show don't tell," but the concept can be difficult to understand and incorporate. Some telling is needed, but too much can be boring and keeps the reader outside the story looking in when we want them to be inside and involved. This month Ryan Lanz's "A Writer's Path" blog features an interesting article by author-journalist Lissa Oliver:

    Five Things Authors Can Learn From Drama Classes

     

  • Sunday, January 09, 2022 12:17 PM | Linda Austin (Administrator)

    With 2021 in the rear-view mirror, many might say good riddance. Don't let this happen with your book, though! On the Story Reading Ape Blog, Kristine Nannini gives examples of ways to end your book to satisfy readers - or pique interest in a sequel.

    Examples of Narrative Endings Infographic

    (PS: If there is a lesson or moral, do NOT spell it out. The reader should realize it on their own, perhaps with indirect reference at the end.)

  • Tuesday, November 16, 2021 12:05 PM | Linda Austin (Administrator)

    No one likes to hear criticism of their writing, but true criticism can help you write better - if you are open to learning. On "A Writer's Path," author Daniella Levy posts:

    How to Take Criticism and Turn It Into Growth in 5 Steps


  • Friday, October 15, 2021 2:35 PM | Linda Austin (Administrator)

    You do not have to be on all the types of social media. Pick your favorite one(s). Your posts should not be only about your book. The goal of social media is to be social, to connect with others of shared interests especially related to your book genre, subjects, and themes, and thus attract interest in your books. 

    Penny Sansevieri, of Author Marketing Experts, offers tips and suggestions in this article on IndieReader:

    12 Things to Know About Book Marketing and Social Media


  • Tuesday, August 24, 2021 11:12 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Matt Knight (guest speaker, October, 2021)
    Audio rights used to be the ugly stepsister of publishing rights, often thought of as throwaway rights included with a group of other secondary rights in a publishing deal. If you think back to when audiobooks made their big splash in the early 1970s with audiocassettes and Books On Tape, the market was small. Production costs were high. Even with technological advances, like the Walkman, audiobooks were still a lackluster investment for publishers.

    It wasn’t until the mid-1990s that audiobooks sales boomed, thanks to the Internet and tremendous advances in mobile technologies like smartphones, tablets, and car entertainment systems. These changes soon transformed audio rights into the Cinderella rights of many book publishing deals.

    At the end of 2020, audiobook revenue grew by 12 percent, marking the ninth year of double-digit growth in a row. 2021 is looking equally as promising. That’s a hot marketplace ticket. So, it makes sense that authors want to capitalize on that billion-dollar market.

    Whether you’re an audiobook producer, a publisher, or a traditionally or self-published author in the market to produce your audiobook, here’s a breakdown of the rights needed to bring an audiobook to market.

    1. Book rights

    Book rights are the most important. You, the author of creative work like your book, are automatically the copyright owner, which comes with a bundle of five exclusive rights — the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, perform, display, or prepare derivative works. These rights, collectively or individually, are yours to sell, license, or assign, in any manner you see fit.

    Of the five rights, derivative rights are the starting point for producing an audiobook from the original content. Derivative rights include derivative works like abridgments, translations, dramatizations, film adaptions, sound recordings, and audiobooks.

    The first question to ask—Do you control your derivative rights, in particular your audio rights? If you are self-published, then chances are high you still own these rights. If you are traditionally published, you’ll need to read your contract. Audio rights are a hot commodity, and most publishers typically want those rights. Depending on the book, publishers like the option to take on or oversee the production of an audiobook. Though, not all books are slated for the audiobook route because of the cost-prohibitive nature of creating an audiobook. It’s still expensive, and publishers must draw the line somewhere.

    If your book isn’t on the publisher’s radar to become an audiobook, you can ask for a grant back of those rights. A rights reversion will allow you to oversee the process of creating an audiobook — either sell the audio rights to another company that can produce the audiobook or produce the audiobook yourself.

    Most authors pay for production to have their books recorded. The most common digital platform for producing audiobooks is Amazon’s Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX). The leading distributor to retailers like Amazon and iTunes is Audible.

    If you’re going to create your audiobook, you’ll have to hire a producer to help:

    • hire a voice artist who will narrate your book;
    • record the book;
    • hire an audio engineer to capture, process, and master those recordings, along with any music additions, into the final audio files; and
    •  hire a cover artist to create your book cover (if the original isn’t available from your publisher).

    Each of these steps creates certain rights that you must secure if you want to control your audiobook rights.

    2. Performance rights 

    When a creative artist narrates your book, that artist owns the rights to the performance. To secure those rights for yourself, read the artist voiceover contract carefully. All you need is contract language that transfers or assigns to you all artist’s rights in the creative work (i.e., the narration of your book). There must be consideration for that transfer, which will be in the form of money. Consideration should be stated in the contract too. As with any intellectual property transfer or assignment, get it in writing. See my earlier post for more information on transferring copyright ownership and an example of a copyright assignment.

    3. Sound recording rights

    The voiceover talent isn’t the only one who owns rights in the audiobook. The audio engineer does too. They capture the narrated recordings. They add snippets of background music for the introduction and ending, and the chapter transitions. And then, the engineers process all that creative material into a final master audio file. To secure your audiobook rights, make sure your contract with the audio engineer has similar copyright-transfer language as with the voice artist’s contract.

    4. Music rights

    You and your producer can use pre-existing music for your audiobook project, or you can hire an artist to record your own music or record pre-existing music. Either way, whether the content is pre-existing or original, the use of music requires the license to at least two copyrights — the musical composition and the sound recording.

    a) Musical composition — The copyright in a musical composition includes both the rights to the words and the music. Most lyricists and composers assign their copyrights to the music publishers.

    To license these copyrights, you will need a synchronization or “sync” license from the music publisher. Often a music composition will have multiple songwriters. Each of these might be affiliated with different music publishers. Therefore, you would need a sync license from each music publisher for each songwriter.

    When you contact the music publisher, your request to use a particular musical composition should include specifics like the nature of the audiobook project, how the song will be used, and note the project is commercial. Music publishers have forms for you to use when requesting a sync license. After you submit your request, the publisher will respond with a quote and propose deal points that you can then negotiate.

    b) Sound recording — A record company or record producer usually owns the copyright in a sound recording. To license the sound recording copyright, you will need a master-use license. As with the music publisher, your request to use a particular recording should include detailed information about the audiobook project, how you will use the song, and any other details associated with the project that will help the record company make an informed decision about granting permission.

    c) Other music options — If the above routes are too labor-intensive and complicated, you can use public domain music or use royalty-free music from stock music websites. Make sure before you purchase royalty-free that the license includes use in audiobooks. If your creativity knows no bounds, then compose, perform, and record your own music. That way, you won’t need to license the music rights.

    5. Cover art rights

    Typically, your print and ebook cover art is created by the original publisher, an independent artist, a book cover service, or the author. Whoever created that original cover likely now owns the copyright. It is not OK to use a modified version of your print or ebook cover for your audiobook when someone else owns the copyright. So, unless you (the author) created the cover design for your print and ebook, you need either a license to use and modify the original book cover for the audiobook or a transfer of full rights in the copyright of the cover. If not, then you need to design or hire out an entirely new cover for the audiobook.

    If you secure the necessary rights before and during your audiobook production, you’ll have a smoother ride to market with your audiobook.

    Good luck! I hope to hear your book on Audible!

    Legal Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes only. Consult a qualified lawyer in your jurisdiction for all legal opinions for your specific situation.

    Matt Knight is a San Francisco-based writer, blogger, and intellectual property lawyer. He is currently working on THE GENE POOL, a near-future thriller, and the first book of The Residuum Trilogy. His publications have appeared in the New York TimesSan Diego Union Tribune, IBPA Independent MagazineHouston Law Review, and his publishing law blog Sidebar Saturdays.

    Matt’s GPS coordinates are split between San Francisco and Maui. When he finds snippets of spare time, you can pinpoint him swimming laps, surfing waves, painting a canvas, or unleashing his inner Julia Child. Learn more about him at mattknightbooks.com and his publishing law blog at sidebarsaturdays.com.

  • Wednesday, April 28, 2021 7:52 PM | Linda Austin (Administrator)

    Are you too busy to work on marketing your book? Or feeling overwhelmed when it comes to marketing? Somehow you've got to keep connecting with potential readers and fans. Keri-Rae Barnum of New Shelves, a book marketing services company, has suggestions that will each only take about 10 minutes of your time.

    Market Your Books in Just 10 Minutes a Day


  • Tuesday, March 16, 2021 12:22 PM | Linda Austin (Administrator)

    What is a filter word? SLPA member and editor Carolina VonKampen recently posted about an article by Louise Harnby of The Editing Blog who explains:  Filter words are verbs that increase the narrative distance, reminding us that what we’re reading is being told by someone rather than experienced, or shown, through the eyes of the character.

    "Filter Words in Fiction Writing" is advice that also works for memoir writers.


  • Saturday, November 14, 2020 11:55 AM | Linda Austin (Administrator)

    Do you have social media accounts to network with readers and other authors and to promote your books and your brand? If you hate social media, you'll need to find other ways to create beneficial relationships and let others know your books exist - if you want to sell any books. The Book Designer guest blogger Florence Osmund has a helpful post on the different social media platforms and how to use them to benefit. As a start, just choose one platform to experiment with.

    Social Media--to be, or not to be


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