Posts by Busybird

Some Publishers

Posted by on Feb 14, 2019 in Busybird | 0 comments

Today’s technology is making book production simple and inexpensive. Anybody can publish a book. But does that qualify them to do so?

Some of these people begin publishing companies, joining the ranks of self-publishers and partnership publishers out there who claim they’re about helping authors get their books out into the world. But are they? Do they have an author’s best interests at heart?

Here are some facts …

There is no guaranteed BIG return
At Busybird, we never try to secure an author by selling them the lie that they’ll have a bestseller.

It is a lie.

You can manipulate certain databases into classifying your book is a bestseller, but that doesn’t mean it is. It may just mean your book has sold the most in a pair of categories no other book occupies. It’s a label that can be won by selling as little as one book – a gimmick

But if getting an actual bestseller – a book that’s sold thousands of copies – was so manageable, big multinational publishers with vast resources would nail bestseller after bestseller after bestseller. But they don’t. Nobody does.

Publishing is capricious. You can do everything right, but it doesn’t mean it will translate into riches.

Now bestsellers do happen, but we try to ground authors to be realistic with their expectations.

Anybody who tells you differently is trying to sell you something.

Lots of Authors Become Publishers
There is a difference between being an author and being a publisher. Yes, they work in the same field – they work with writing.

But an author produces the writing.

The publisher produces the book.

There is a whole side of production that authors never encounter – cover design; layout of internals; registration of an ISBN; finding a printer and determining the best paper stock; lodging the book with the national library for archiving, etc. It’s too big a list to cover in a single paragraph.

This is not to say every author who runs a publisher has no idea what they’re doing. Some do. Just don’t assume they must know just because they write.

Some Publishers are Glorified Salespeople
I saw a certain publisher endorsed on Facebook. I know this publisher. They’re an idiot. They’re a fantastic salesperson. They could sell anything. But I know they know nothing about writing; know nothing about English, grammar, punctuation, and spelling; know nothing about structure; have no idea about copyright and permissions … well, look, outside of selling they don’t know anything.

Now that might be fine if they’ve delegated and retained professionals who know their stuff, but often they’re outsourcing to uninvested freelancers, and wouldn’t know how to address queries that do come up.

There are lots of these people out there. Retain them, and there’s a good chance they aren’t going to give your book the care it deserves.

Some of These Publishers Have No Standards
All they’re interested in is the dollar. It doesn’t matter what the book is, it’s about getting the author to sign and pay. Well, that helps one person in that deal.

Writing a book isn’t about regurgitating what’s already out there. It’s about reaching into yourself, and producing a message – be it a novel, a memoir, a book of nonfiction, poetry, or whatever the case is – that only YOU can produce.

You’re unique. But some publishers don’t care. Hand in gibberish, and they’ll tell you that it’s brilliant, that it’s the sort of book the market needs, and that to get it out there you just need to hand over your money now.

Some Publishers Claim Rights and Royalties
If you’re self-publishing, whoever you’ve retained should have no claim on your rights, and definitely none on your royalties.

If you’ve partnership published – this is where the publisher claims they share the costs (in all likelihood, they don’t put in a cent and they’re just telling you this to win you over) – they still don’t deserve any share of your rights or royalties.

Once you’re paying to be published, you should retain your rights and royalties.

Publishing is daunting for inexperienced authors. Unfortunately, there are predators who prey on an author’s naivety and will try and capitalize on whatever money you make.

This isn’t intended to say that every publisher out there sucks in one way and/or another, and that we’re the best in the world. But we’ve now published over three hundred books. We’ve had authors come to us with horror stories. We’ve dealt with some of these places firsthand. We’ve learned a thing or two.

Be wary of the landscape. There are good people out there. You’re eager to get your book out. But do your diligence and avoid the heartbreak.

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The Writing Need

Posted by on Jan 31, 2019 in Busybird | 1 comment

It’s tame to call wanting to write a ‘passion’. It’s a need. When left unattended, writers say that they feel uneasy, or agitated. From my own experience, when I haven’t written for a while I begin suffering hypnagogic hallucinations. When it isn’t expressed, the writer’s voice – that voice inside our heads that needs to be heard – clamours for attention like an unruly child.

Non-writers might scoff. Other writers will nod their heads.

The reality is we all have needs in life – those things we do for ourselves that help us cope, or make us feel good, or just give us a time-out. Think of the things you do. It might be watching a favourite program, pursuing a hobby, talking to a friend or family member, exercise, or meditation – well, it could be anything.

We all have that something.

Why non-writers scoff at a writer’s need is because it’s not just hobby, but it’s not enough to be a job, and while we tread that line we constantly hit obstacles: trying to get our words right, trying to get read, trying to get accepted, trying to sell, trying, trying, trying. The reality is that only a few writers get published. Of those who are published, only a minority live off their writing.

That’s a common misconception: writers are rich. We think this way because when we think of authors, we think of bestselling authors. Nobody thinks about Joe Blow or Jane Smith, but they do think of Stephen King, Jodi Picoult, JK Rowling, Lee Child, Di Morrissey, etc., because they occupy public awareness. They are household names.
This creates a weird juxtaposition: non-writers see the effort writers put in and don’t understand why they do it when they’re battling up a hill of frustration and trudging after the unrealistic dream of becoming the next Stephen King – a dream that is as likely as winning lotto. So why do it? Why write? Why waste the time? There’s rarely going to be any great material reward.

Because it’s not about that – not for anybody but the most inexperienced (and naïve) who believe they’re have a guaranteed bestseller. (That’s not to say it won’t happen – just that the chances are slim). For most writers, writing is about just that: the writing. The need becomes as synonymous to everyday life as eating, showering, and sleeping. It has to be done because that’s part of who the writer is. If we condemn the writer for writing, we might as well condemn the non-writer for their interests.

Lots of relationships struggle with this disparity. The writer wants to write. The non-writing partner just can’t understand why. They can feel threatened by the writer’s need. I find that curious. The non-writer isn’t threatened by other hobbies; they aren’t threatened by other possible vocations. So why would a writer writing threaten them?

It’s because that need is something the writer cannot share with them. You can share a future with a partner. You can share a dream to build a certain type of life. You can share interests. You can share enjoyment of the same books. You can even share the writer’s writing.

But you can never share that need.

It becomes the illicit love, engaging the writer in a form of adultery – the writer thinks about it constantly, and sneaks away from their partner to be with the need so they can do their thing. I think this is why it can grow threatening, and why non-writers can become dismissive of writing as a pursuit, or possessive of the time the writer would spend writing. They’re trying to reclaim their partner as exclusively theirs.

In lots of our workshops we often encounter people who are coming belatedly to writing because life’s gotten in the way. But they’ve always wanted to write. That need has remained alive over the years (if not decades). This shows that writing wasn’t some passing interest or piffling hobby. It would be curious to examine if not writing has created any dissatisfaction in the writer that’s affected their relationship(s).

To the non-writers, this blog has to be kept in perspective. Nobody is expecting the non-writer to work two jobs, take care of the household, and undertake most of the responsibilities so the writer can sit in their den all day and work on their writing.

It’s just about trying to understand why the writer’s writes.

And supporting them, because the need to write is who they are.

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