Marchbooks' Blog

August 29, 2009

March Books – Confronting Social Issues, One Novel At A Time

March Books is a green publisher. We believe that a good book is a treasure. We think, however, that there are some aspects of traditional publication that are outdated and environmentally unsound. Large print runs and huge stacks of returned books are a luxury that our planet can no longer afford. We strive to bring good literature to eager readers, but not at the expense of our environment. 

 

Print on demand may require a slightly higher cost, but it will benefit all of us in the long run. Good stories, printed affordably on a demand basis – that is what March Books is all about. 

 BothCoversforblog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please visit  www.Marchbooks.com for our list of current and upcoming titles.

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August 28, 2009

The Old Publishing Model – Is It Fair To Authors? by Janus Kane

Filed under: On Writing and Publishing — marchbooks @ 4:58 pm
Tags: , , , ,

I just read a wonderful article on the need to change the royalty structure for authors as it exists in today’s publishing industry. I won’t bother to regurgitate it. You can read it yourself. Publishers Must Change The Way Authors Get Paid

When you weigh the benefits of publication (for the majority of published authors out there) against the cost; in blood, sweat, tears and yes, money, one has to wonder why the allure is so strong. As a new author on the scene, I can tell you that it is not an easy road. The search for a publisher is a grueling one. First you tool and polish your manuscript to its finest. You craft a compelling query letter. You grab the latest version of The Writers Market and carefully select a number of compatible publishers.

Your first mailing goes out. WHAT? No positive responses. Undaunted, you retool your query letter and send it out to another batch of likely suspects. INCREDIBLE! Still no one has seen the promise of your book project. So you blow the dust off of your wallet (after all you have been busy writing for the past two years, not chasing the almighty dollar) and pony up a sizeable chunk of cash to attend a conference or two, where you are sure that you will be able to make the connections you need to get your books onto the bookshelves. Sadly, one brief weekend connection does not get you into the inner circle.

Although you have found some editors who like your project, (we’re getting closer) those editors were not able to convince their board of decision-makers about the marketability of your book. EGADS! How could this be happening? So, you write and you continue to pursue publication until one day, the miracle letter comes. You have been chosen out of the masses. It is a Herculean feat, but you’ve done it and it is all down hill from now on.

HA! In reality, you now have to watch your baby as it is wrenched out of your hands, mauled and manhandled until it is barely recognizable. For what? In many cases an unknown author will receive a token advance it they receive one at all. Okay, so you can’t pay of your mortgage just yet, but at least you can get back to what you were meant to do – writing, as you sit back and wait for your 5% royalty to roll in. 

Of course, you could do that – if you don’t mind seeing your firstborn die a slow and ugly death in the book return bin. So, you try to get some love from your publisher. Sorry, no go. They’ve got a long list and a small budget. There is no money to market your book. If you want it done, you will have to do it yourself.

You square your shoulders and dive in. Six months later, you are buried under a mountain of bills; website, web design services, review copies, mailing expenses, a shelf of how-to books on how to market your book, travelling expenses, advertising materials, more mailing expenses and perhaps your own publicist…The list goes on. It all comes out of your pocket – out of that generous 5% royalty that you so eagerly agreed to when desperation was biting at your heels. But, what is infinity worse is that these marketing efforts have completely sucked the life out of you, preventing you from being able to write another creative word.

Does it sound grim? It should. Unfortunately, it is reality for all too many hopeful authors. The road to publication is not short or easy. It is fraught with perils. Significant time and money could reap very little benefit. But, there are options; POD, ebook publication, blogging, online writing communities…There are many new ways to have your voice heard these days.

Authors should consider all of the options carefully, then they should consider them again. Be very clear about what you want out of publication. Do you want fame, fortune, notoriety? Do you want to establish yourself as an expert in your field or will you be happy just to have your book printed and distributed to family and friends? Or do you just want to tell your stories in a way that others can share and enjoy them?

If you decide that you will be satisfied with nothing less than the brass ring, by all means, go for it. But, go for it with your eyes open and love what you are doing because if you love what you are doing, you will never have to work a day in your life.

Write on.
www.marchbooks.com

The Little Insanity

August 24, 2009

The Downside to POD

I always enjoy being devil’s advocate, even when the devil is me. Therefore, this entry is devoted to a counter argument to a previous post –  ‘POD – The Greener Side of Publishing’.

Many authors burn with the desire to see their words in print. Surprisingly though, not enough of those authors are willing to polish those words to a perfect sheen before sending them out into the world.

Editing is a lot of work. It is tedious, boring and worst of all, it keeps you from doing what you were born to do — write. You have already written the story. Now it’s time to move on to your next literary masterpiece, n’est pas? Proofreading is even worse. If an author does make an effort, beyond the cursory running of spell-check in their word processor, they will soon find their brain atrophying from the proofreading process. Their eyes will eventually begin to glaze over, sabotaging the author’s efforts by skimming over their undeniably perfect prose.

News flash – editing and proofreading are not optional if you desire to put your writing out there for public consumption. Unfortunately, authors do it every day. The evidence is everywhere. Go to any community writing site. Writing.com and WritersCafe are my favorites. These communities are wonderful and an absolute must for any author who is trying to guage how the public will receive their writing, but throughout these sites, you will find an abundance of poorly written prose.

Admittedly, posting a short piece online is quite different from arduously preparing a book for print, especially when one purpose of that post is to garner constructive criticism of the piece. And, it is not my intent to be cruel, but let’s call a spade a spade. It is no secret when a writer is merely posting their words as quickly as they fall off of their pen. This is hugely inconsiderate to the potential reader. Sadly, this phenomenon, all too often, carries over into a writer’s self-publishing efforts. And, how unfair is that to the unwitting buyer of the product of this slovenly effort? Excuse me for saying so, but if I have laid out my hard-earned money to buy a book, which I do often and with enthusiasm, the very least I can expect is that I not have to stumble through a minefield of typographical and grammatical errors. I have no right to expect that this author be the next Hemingway, but I can expect that they have made every reasonable effort to produce a text free of obvious spelling and grammatical errors.

There seems to be an all too pervasive misconception, among new authors, that publishing is easy. Second news flash – not if you do it right. There is a reason why publishing houses are uber selective about which submissions they will accept. Publishing and promoting a book is a long, arduous and expensive undertaking (if it wasn’t there would be no reason not to publish everything that came across their desk). Publishing a book the right way is more than simply uploading a raw text file and encasing it in a generic cover. And, when that book does finally roll off of the presses, the lion’s share of the work is just beginning.

And there, my friends, is what I consider to be the downside of POD. This new technology has made it all too easy for anyone, with only a small initial investment and minimal effort, to publish their writing – thereby flooding the market with numerous substandard books. The result is a stigma that a diligent self-publisher must now overcome.

As with most new technology, with the good comes the bad. This is the downside of a wonderful, new, groundbreaking technology. It is surmountable, it just makes the job of the serious small publisher that much more difficult.

August 14, 2009

The Beauty of The Written Word

Filed under: On Writing and Publishing — marchbooks @ 12:10 pm
Tags: , , ,

Ahhhh, words. Ever since the first Egyptian put the first letter on the first piece of papyrus, the beauty and utility of the written word could not be denied. The advent of words on paper, as a way to disseminate information, has arguably been more important to the evolution of mankind than any other invention. It is, in many ways, the mother of knowledge and creativity. Certainly, mankind is infinitely creative. But, where would we be if that creativity had to survive in a vacuum? How many of Edison’s inventions would have gone unrecognized if he had been unable to write them down, unable to convey them to more than his housekeeper and the local shop owners? How many great ideas would have died with their originator, if they had been unable to write them down?

Certainly, seeing one’s words in print is a swan song that calls out to many – as evidenced by the ever-increasing number of books being published every year. Being able to share one’s thoughts, feelings and ideas with others has incredible appeal for some. Others are just as ravenously waiting to read those thoughts and insights. It is a marriage made in heaven – a special kind of bonding that brings us all closer together.

The physical beauty of a book cannot be overlooked. A book’s inviting cover, the intoxicating smell of ink on the page and the satisfying crack of the spine as you initiate your first journey through its pages is something that every book lover has come to cherish. As much as the new internet and wireless technologies have to offer information sharing, nothing can compete with the feel of a real book in your hand as you settle down (bedecked in your flannel jammies) in front of a roaring fire with a nice glass of wine or mug of hot chocolate. The reading experience is a vibrant one, on many levels.

To me, however, the real beauty of the written word lies in the magic. When an author has managed to create a world, dragging me into it (sometimes kicking and screaming)… ahhhh, words. What an amazing thing it is when you can stand beside a character as they charge across the desert on a new adventure. Or, when you can puzzle out a murder mystery with one of New York’s finest. The author can take you on a journey with an anguished mother whose son has been abducted by a predator or on a blossoming love affair between two lonely people. They can take you inside the head of a psychopath, a 13-year-old autistic girl or a destitute mother trying to survive with her three young children in their 1983 Chevy. Wherever or whenever the author takes me, the true magic happens when that author’s writing touches my emotions: when I am holding my breath in suspense, crying at the loss of a beloved character or laughing out loud at the irony of life. That is the beauty of the written word – let it live on forever.

July 26, 2009

Integrity in the Publishing Industry

It is difficult to become recognized as a new small publisher. With so many books being published every day, it is a challenge to stand out from the masses. Getting your titles reviewed is one way to spread the word about new releases. But, how does one separate the legitimate reviewers from the not-so-legitimate reviewers?

Darned if I know.I bet you thought I was going to drop some great pearl of wisdom on you. Unfortunately, I am fresh out. As a novice publisher, I anticipated a pretty straight-forward process when it came to getting book reviews: find a list of reviewers, send out the ARCs and wait impatiently by the mailbox for the flood of reviews.

Okay, so there is no comprehensive list of reviewers. New plan – painstakingly compile a list of likely reviewers. We did, and it was painstaking.

Even with our list in hand, it did not seem advisable to send copies out willy nilly without the recipient knowing of their pending arrival. So, we sent out a shot of emails announcing our books availability for review.

Because we are new, I did not anticipate that people would be falling over themselves to respond, especially being that the list included major  reviewers like Kirkus, The Harrow and NY Times. What I did not expect was to have 50% of the emails returned to us undeliverable. Apparently there are others out there who are even more remiss than I about updating their websites.

We forged ahead, sending out 30 ARCs of each title to a select group of reviewers. That was two months ago. We had included Midwest Book Review on our list after hearing that they were particularly kind to those who were new to the publishing business.

Approximately one month after that mailing, I received an email from MBR saying that they were declining to review our books because we had sent advance review copies rather than finished books. My faux pas. We had not noticed that they only reviewed post publication copies. I replied with an email that apologized for the oversight and asked them to reconsider their decision. I plead my case. ‘We are a new small publication with a limited budget for review copies. And, after all, the ARCs that were sent were very close to finished (a sentiment that one of their reviewers, Hank Luttrell, readily acknowledged in an email AFTER WE DISCOVERED THAT HE WAS TRYING TO SELL OUR REVIEW COPIES ON THE INTERNET!).

Now, I get that reviewers have to be selective and cannot review every book that comes across their desk.  I would not ask or condone just throwing rejected books away. I think that donating them would be a highly acceptable option…but, trying to make a profit off of them…

This left little doubt in my mind that their request for final copies was not in good faith. After all, they show no compunction for selling an item which is clearly marked ‘Not For Resale’. What other possible motivation would they have for this insistence on finished copies only?

Starting a new business is an arduous task, made even more difficult by people like this who try to profit off of another’s efforts. These books; The Little Insanity and Nightsweats in Bigelow Hollow  are the fruits of someone else’s labor. The publisher went to the expense of printing, packaging and shipping these books to the reviewer. The reviewer responded with a despicable and unscrupulous (in my opinion) act. Is this a cottage industry for MBR – soliciting review copies and then reselling them? Without question, this is not an isolated incident. We sent two titles for review and both copies became available for sale by Hank Lutrell.

Is there no integrity left in the world? It seems that this has become quite an accepted practice. Biblio.com has over 9000 titles listed which bear the ARC descriptor.

It comes down to this – Hank Luttrell, through Midwest Book Reviews, presented himself as a book reviewer. His name was not picked out of a phone book. On the basis of that representation, publishers send review copies (and if MBR has its way, finished copies) to them for review. Certainly, if the reviewer had deigned to read and review these books, I would not take exception to his selling the less-than-pristine copies. He would have earned them. But, sans the review, he has shown himself to be just what he is – an opportunist trying to make a buck off of another person’s sweat and effort. Shame on you.

July 20, 2009

POD – The Greener Side of Publishing

In the constant pursuit of information on all things publishing, I recently finished Peter Bowerman’s, ‘The Well-Fed Self – Publisher’. It is a handy tool that does a good job of taking the reader through the process of self-publishing, in an easy, step-by-step progression. I have no mind to remake the wheel here. Suffice it to say that, if you are thinking of self-publishing, this would be a useful addition to your library.

This blog is devoted to the one area in the book that I took exception to – the consummate disparagement of POD as an option for the self-publisher. Bowerman devotes a full chapter to this issue ‘Print-On-Demand (POD): Dream or Disappointment’. Throughout, he paints POD with a pretty dark brush.

I’ll begin by acknowledging the fact that one reason for this jaundiced viewpoint may be the fact that the information is dated, the book being copyrighted in 2007. I will piggyback on this statement by pointing to this as clear evidence of how fast this technology is moving along. Perhaps, in 2007, the author’s comments rang true, but in only two years, the picture has changed dramatically.

First of all, Bowerman seems to contradict his own text when he, time after time, refers to POD as only a technology (which it is). But, in castigating it, he points to turn-key publishers like iUniverse and Author House (apparently Lulu was just coming on the scene at that time).

This blog is not meant to criticize Bowerman for being short-sighted and failing to see into the future, but to clarify a misconception that a novice might draw from this text.

First of all, POD is a technology. It is a technology which, as time goes by, is becoming more widely available and, if we are smart, will someday be credited with changing the face of publishing.

The traditional publishing model, which has changed little in several hundred years, is founded on speculation – write a book, print it in huge quantities (to reduce the per unit cost) and buckshot it to as many outlets as possible to see if it will sell. To accomodate this business model, we must use vast amounts of energy and natural resources to print the books. Then we waste more energy to ship these books to their temporary destination, where we will expend many more man-hours unloading, unpacking and displaying these books for the customer (let me repeat – ALL ON SPECULATION). We hope, but don’t know, that people will buy these books. The hope of the publisher is that, if they put a book in every window and on every display table, the customer will eventually relent and buy a copy.

Inevitably, after three or four months (sometimes much less), these books will get subplanted with the new flavor of the day. So, we expend more man-hours and energy to ship these books back to the publisher where they will be discounted, remaindered or turned into pulp. This arrangement benefits no one. The bookstore owner may see this as a positive, no-risk solution and certainly, there is little incentive for them to seek change. They are filling their stores with inventory that is often returned for credit before their checks have even cleared, effectively turning them into so many consignment shops.

Perhaps, if these store owners had more of a vested interest in whether or not their inventory sold, there would be more regard for purchasing saleable titles in realistic quantities and applying effective marketing techniques.

I realize that instant gratification is an integral aspect of our lives today. However, would it be such a crime to be in a position where you had to  order a book and return two days later to pick it up? And, that is only the worst case scenerio. For a small increase in the end cost, POD removes the necessity for huge print runs. Certainly, the Kings and Grishams of our time will still merit offset printing, but now there is a better option for the other 95% of titles on the market. Now, with the arrival of Lightningsource’s Espresso machine, a customer can have their book printed right on site, while they wait. Ain’t technology grand? I am sure the quality will not be that of offset printing, or current POD standards for that matter, but that is what is wonderful about human ingenuity. There is no doubt in my mind that the quality of these books will improve at lightning speed, now that we have the technology in hand.

The publishing industry is struggling and it is not because the community-at-large has lost its interest in a good book. It is the industry’s refusal to change that will be its downfall. POD is the cure for this flawed business model. The quality of POD is now almost on a par with traditional offset printing. The speed and efficiency of the model allows for a title to be printed and delivered in days. Self-publishers can take advantage of the turn-key operations like iUniverse, Outskirts Press or Lulu  to fulfill their needs for book design, or they can do it themselves with printers like Createspace or Lightningsource (if they have a strong heart and nerves of steel – believe me, it is not a task for the faint of heart).

True, if you use one of the turn-key operations, you will pay for the service – in two ways 1. an upfront charge for the design of your book and 2. a percentage of each sale. This is somewhat unfair, in my mind. These companies should not be entitled to a portion of sales unless they generate from that company’s site. But, hey, it’s their company, so they call the shots. In the end, your % return on each sale will still be better than the meager royalty you would receive through a traditional publisher.

POD is not an option to be disparaged. It should be embraced and seen as what it is – the key to a better future for the publishing industry. But, I key does not work unless you use it. Change is not comfortable for anyone, but the time has come. Let’s embrace a new era for the written word.

www.marchbooks.com

April 3, 2009

March Books Changes its Release Date for The Little Insanity

March Books has changed the release date for their upcoming adult title ‘The Little Insanity’. Originally, this title was scheduled for publication in April 2009. That deadline has been moved to August 2009 to accommodate the review and printing schedule.

The release of March Books first publication, ‘The Little Insanity’, has been changed to August 2009.

 

The Little Insanity

Author – Janus Kane

Website – http://www.januskane.com

genre – Commercial Fiction

Publisher – March Books

Publisher’s website – http://www.marchbooks.com

Publisher’s email – elizabeth@marchbooks.com

ISBN 9781935367291

Publication Date – 8/1/09

Format – 6×9 Paperback

Pages – 296

Price – $16.95

 

What percentage of us are damaged, handicapped, or fractured in some way that we struggle desperately to hide from the casual, and not so casual, observer? How many of us can lay claim to total mental stability, renouncing any character flaws or defects that can adversely affect our relationships and interactions with others?

The French call sex ‘Le Petit Mort’, the Little Death, because it temporarily suspends the heart and the head. The ‘Little Insanity’ focuses on the equally crazy effects of relationships on our behavior, in the new millennium. Watch the insanity that ensues when six, seemingly sane, individuals mix and shake their own, not so healthy, personality cocktails together. Follow Jenn, Jason, Kyle, Kyra, Brad and Beth through the sexual and personal relationships that are ‘The Little Insanity’. Don’t mistake this for another knock-off of ‘Friends’. This relay of relationships between these 30-somethings shines a light on the different faces we wear and the machinations we all go through to hide what is really beneath the surface. The setting for this little dysfunctional drama is a small town in Connecticut, although some of the story takes place in ‘The Big Apple’.

 

With the pace of a literary soap opera, Janus Kane’s first novel should appeal to readers who enjoy watching these fictional, but realistic, characters’ lives unfold and unravel before them. These six characters are on a path of discovery that will lead them to painful truths about life, love, themselves and others. Like a car crash, we must watch as these events drive some of our characters, inexorably, toward a crescendo that is the ultimate insanity.

 

Serious review requests can be sent to elizabeth@marchbooks.com

 

 

The Little Insanity

March 6, 2009

Publishing in Today’s Tough Economy

Filed under: On Writing and Publishing — marchbooks @ 8:02 pm
Tags: , , ,

Is there ever a good time to start a venture of this magnitude? Entering the complex world of publishing is a daunting endeavor under the best of circumstance. These are certainly not the best circumstances. With businesses folding all around us, what besides temporary insanity would prompt such an undertaking?

The answer is simple. There has never been a greater need for a little dose of healthy escapism. What, other than a good book, can better transport us out of the sea of troubled waters that is now our reality? What else can give your mind the kind of vacation that it so desperately craves?

A good book may not cure your problems. It won’t make them go away. But, perhaps it will put us in a better frame of mind to come back and deal with them. And even if it doesn’t, it will still give us those blessed hours where we can focus on someone else’s problems, someone else’s life, someone else’s story – all for less than the price of a take-out pizza.

March Books is all about bringing good stories to eager readers. We believe in good, healthy escapism – wherever and whenever you can get it.

Read on.  Visit our website http://www.marchbooks.com

Kelly escapes from Black Institute

Kelly's escape from the Black Institute

Meet Jenn, Jason, Kyle, Kyra, Beth and Brad

Meet Jenn, Jason, Kyle, Kyra, Beth and Brad

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