Friday, June 16, 2017

Author-Preneur Full Day Writers Workshops

My amazing team and I are offering authors who are serious about becoming published the opportunity to spend the day with us and other really great agents from reputable agencies and editor from top publishing houses in a full day workshop specifically tailored to create a fast track to publishing success. 

These are intensive and super fun workshops offered to authors of all genres at all levels of their careers with the mindful goal of imparting writing, publishing industry, business, and mindset knowledge, while sharpening skills to attain success in the fastest possible period of time.


As the principal presenter at most of the workshops I will personally speak with all attendees about everything from idea inception to getting a publishing deal to creating a growth mindset that enables and sustains success.  We've called these the Author-Preneur Workshops because, as the name implies, we are not just focused on facets of authorship. We are focused on writing as a business. Like it or not, if you are looking to publish your book you must look at your writing as your product. It's what you're selling. And so you are becoming entrepreneurs in the business of selling books. 


Our goal is to get you into the right mindset to prepare you to for this journey as an author and as an entrepreneur, hence Author-Preneur. 

I have been attending conferences, participating on panels, teaching classes, webinars, bootcamps, workshops etc for several years now, but it wasn't until recently that I started to really focus my efforts toward a formulaic program that only experience can manifest with such clarity. Success, you see isn't just the result of hard work, nor luck or lineage. 

Success is almost a scientific formula which when followed can almost guarantee great results. It isn't about working hard, it's about focusing your goals, learning and growing, creating a plan and taking dedicated action, and engaging a frame of mind that enables continued growth, love and gratitude.

The first in the LitPow Author-Preneur Workshop series is scheduled for Saturday, August 12, 2017  in Huntsville Alabama. The second is also already scheduled and will be hosted in Red Bank, NJ on Saturday, September 16, 2017. These workshops are structured similarly with some changes in topics and logistics and different faculty of Agents and Editors at each location. 

The workshops offer an amazing multilayered interactive full day learning experience with presentations by yours truly and other key industry professional guests from top agencies and publishing houses dedicated to authors’ success. The Huntsville workshop is presented at the lovely Westin Hunstville Hotel in Huntsville, Alabama, a city that is also known as Rocket City by many scientists and space travel enthusiasts.

During these full day workshops authors have the opportunity to attend various Presentations, pitch Literary Agents and Editors (Optional), get work critiqued by Agents and Editors (Optional), attend the Gong Show: First Page Critique Literary Agent and Editor Panel, and Network with authors and industry professionals.

The Schedule:8:30 to 9:00: Check In and Registration: Check-in starts at 8:30. Please register here in advance to secure your spot. Authors may register on location unless otherwise noted here that registration is closed. Or e-mail us directly to ask ahead of time at workshops@corvisieroagency.com

9:00 to 9:30 Publishing Options Today:
We will start the morning with an informative overview about the publishing industry, with a focus on learning about the various publishing options available to authors. The discussion will cover how each publishing medium or model works, the benefits and drawbacks of each, and how to diversify these options by using the Hybrid Model to publish faster, increase readership, and earn more income.

9:30 to 10:00 Successful Author Mindset:
Discussions on preparedness. Knowing your options is half the battle. The other half is your mindset and getting ready to see the opportunities when they arise, and making the right decisions based on knowledge and emotional fitness to reach optimal results.

10:00 to 11:50 Finding, Pitching, and Hooking the Right Literary Agent:
During this session we will discuss everything authors need to know about what agents do, how to find them, how to pick the right one, how to pitch their projects properly, and how to prepare the best submission package for optimal results. The discussion includes details about how to draft the query letter and synopsis, and what agents look for in the first few pages of the manuscript and book proposal (for non fiction).

11:50 to 1:10 Lunch Break

1:10 to 2:10 The Gong Show: Agent and Editor First Page Critique Panel
All participants are encouraged to anonymously submit the first page of their fiction manuscript or memoir (no picture books) for a fun and expertly informative live critique. The panel is comprised of our guest Faculty. The moderator will read the page out loud and the panelists will ring their gong as soon as they decide that they would have stopped reading the page. When a number of gongs have been rang, the moderator will then prompt the panelists to discuss their decision and provide constructive criticism.

2:10 to 3:00 Becoming a Successful Hybrid Bestselling Author with NY Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Heidi McLaughlin: The discussion will focus on how to decide between all of the publishing options, and when to self publish or go traditional, with an eye toward creating a fruitful writing career. She will discuss how to make the decision, how to get started, what do to, and provide invaluable instructions and tips that will help authors save time and money by proceeding with knowledge and confidence.


3:00 to 3:30 Building an Author Platform and Marketing Books: From Baby Steps to The Tipping Point. This presentation will thoroughly cover the essentials of building and growing a platform and marketing books; what is a platform, who needs one and why, and much more. As the necessity for author platforms continues to grow, our goal is to help Authors be able to bring their projects to their readers and increase their visibility so that they sell more books and continue to reach new readers.

3:30 to 3:45 Honing Author Skills Further: An Investment
Presentation on successful author writing practices and Author-Preneur Program especially designed to help authors be prepared to publish in eight weeks. During this presentation we discuss what authors need to do to be prepared for succeeding in publishing and how we can help further.


3:45 to 4:15 Demystifying Publishing Deals: Publishing 101 discussion about what happens after work is pitched to publishers, from the offer to the contract, and everything in between, with examples of possible outcomes and solid advice. Important terms are explained and compared to industry standards to help authors set expectations and help them choose the best deals, and negotiate the most favorable terms that lead to success in publishing.


4:15 to 4:45 The Universal Memo: The Ultimate Success Formula
This presentation is a continuing discussion of the successful author writing practices with a focus toward utilizing knowledge, focusing on goals, and creating a bountiful mindset to attract success. During this time we will learn about The Ultimate Success Formula by discussing everything from Creating Passionately to Acting with Confidence, to Growing with Purpose and Connecting with the Universe.



Services Provided To Participants
Pitch Appointments:
Authors may register in advance for a ten-minute appointment to meet one-on-one with Literary Agent or Editor and pitch their work through the day. Authors may register for multiple 10-minute appointments pitch sessions with different agents and/or editors. This is the perfect opportunity to meet agents and editors face to face, offer them the work for consideration, bypass slush-piles, get feedback and forge relationships with experienced and reputable industry professionals.

Query Critiques:
Authors are encouraged to register for an in-depth personal critique of their query letters from the day’s instructor Literary Agent and Author-Preneur Coach, Marisa A. Corvisiero, Esq. Query letters are e-mailed to the presenter in advance, so that authors receive feedback, tips, and suggestions before the workshop. This will assist authors to get their work ready to pitch during the one-on-one appointments, and submit to agents and editors with confidence following the workshop.


First 5 Page Critiques with an Editor:
Authors are encouraged to register for an in-depth editorial evaluation of the first ten pages of their manuscript from one of our guest Editors. The pages are e-mailed to the evaluator in advance, so that authors receive feedback, tips, and suggestions before the workshop. This will assist authors to get their work ready to pitch during the one-on-one appointments, and submit to agents and editors with confidence following the workshop.


Registration for this invaluable workshops is $185. Early registration is discounted at $169 until July 1st (timing and prices vary for each workshop). It is strongly advised that authors sign up early as space is limited at our beautiful locations. 

For further information on the Agents and Editors attending; other times, locations, and logistics; and to Register please visit 
Corvisiero Literary Agency


I hope that you will join me. I would be honored to be your partner on this journey to publishing success.

Happy Learning! 
~Marisa

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Writer's Conferences... Should authors even bother?

As everything is relative, the answer to this question would depend on how much the conference is charging for admission and participation, what they are offering, and how it is run. These are the key elements that make events good events.

Location, speakers, attendees, price, curriculum, services, food and other perks are all important to how good an author event is, how much you will enjoy it, and the value that you get out of it. Once you've determined that these elements of a specific event are suitable for you, then you're ready to shift your focus toward the reasons you should attend, if you haven't ascertained them already.

If you ask me if authors should be attending conferences and other author events, my vote is a hands down, and very emphatic, YES! There are many reasons why budding authors,
as well as seasoned authors will benefit from attending conferences, workshops, events and the such.

7 Excellent Reasons to Attend Author Events:

Learning Skills- most conferences hold lectures, talks, workshops, seminars, etc. where a speaker, usually a very qualified someone, talks to the authors about specific topics in writing and publishing. These topics vary from talks that enhance writing skills (from world building to plotting, and character building and everything in between), to tips on how to find agents and pitch work, to publishing contracts, to platform building, to mindset and more. These are things that all authors should hear and think about at least once. And I'm being conservative here. If I had it my way, I'd make you all experts in all of these topics myself (I do offer workshops, programs and coaching).

Get work reviewed by professionals and qualified peers- Most events have some sort of workshop or panel where qualified reviewers read and critique your work. Some even offer services where they have an agent or editor review your work in private and give you an evaluation, critique, or feedback. This is extremely helpful to authors, when done before they submit their work for actual consideration so that they only submit their work when it is absolutely ready to be considered for representation or acquisition.

Learn about the industry- The publishing industry is an industry unlike any other. It is a beast of it's own, with it's own process, unspoken rules, and must follow procedures. The more you know about the industry of your author business the better "Author-Preneur" you will become. Knowledge will allow you to make the right choices for you, and will help you prepare for when the right opportunity comes knocking.

Know what's happening- Knowing the industry and being an amazing author sometimes isn't enough. More often than not, knowledge about trends, who is who, who is doing what, and what is happening can be most essential in helping you open a certain door. The more you know the better equipped you are to find and make opportunities.

See how others do it- There is no reason to reinvent the wheel. Learning from peers and colleagues that are doing well can save you a lot of time and money. Meeting other authors at conferences, even if you don't become BFFs (which happens a lot), will enable you to put them in your resource pocket. You can learn from them, study them, stalk them (from a safe distance) if you have to, but look at what they do and how they do it. There is always something to be learned by people watching. Authors are great at this, use this skill to your advantage and learn all you can from people who are doing what you want to do.

Connect with Authors, Agents, and Editors- Networking is priceless. You never know who knows whom, and how they can help you, and how you can help them. These are opportunities to make connections with the entire universe. Everyone attending these events is there for the same reason you are, to learn, connect, and sell books. So take advantage of the opportunity to connect and don't be shy. Just make sure you look and smell your best. (I'm mostly not kidding)

Have fun! Author events can be boring for Muggles (non magical folks~ Harry Potter) but for us passionate, creative, story building, magical book loving people, this is the best place ever! It is one of the few places where everyone is of like minds and we all want to talk about books. Let your nerd show and be proud of it!

The reasons not to go to a conference, whatever they might be, should be altogether set aside and stepped on. In other words, if you can participate you should. I know that travel, participation, and meals, etc. can be costly. If this is an issue, then choose wisely and attend something that is good, close to your home, and attend at least once as soon as you can. Know what you need to get there, focus on doing it, create a plan and register early. There are usually early registration price discounts. If you love attending and get value from it, then you can repeat the process and attend again, or even try another.

Other than that, I can't think of any reason to not participate in as many good events as you wish, that I can't talk you out of.

That isn't the lawyer in me talking... I'm not about persuading people to do things they don't want to do. My goal is to coach you around obstacles that you might be setting in front of yourself that are not meritorious, and might be sabotaging your success.

Think of author events such as conferences, workshops, webinars, tutorials, bootcamps, programs, etc. as investments in your career... in your book business. You might lack time, money, motivation, attitude, skills, or some other resource that you believe to be a prerequisite.  But resources are only obstacles to you if you aren't resourceful. If you are serious about helping yourself as an author-preneur, and getting your work published properly, you need to be resourceful and muddle your way around those pesky obstacles to get to solid ground, where you can stand tall and achieve more.

So set your eye on the prize you want to win. Your goal is to learn about publishing, hone your writing skills, and make connections. Inform yourself by doing research to find a good conference, create a plan to attend and take action. 

On our Agency Website we have a very extensive list of Amazing Events, a list of places of Events We Are Attending and a list of Author-Preneur Workshops that we've tailor made for authors that we host on a monthly basis at different locations. Check these out and take one step closer to successfully achieving your goals.

Happy Learning!
~Marisa

Monday, March 7, 2016

Oops, It's Happened Again

Once in a while literary agents get an e-mail, sometimes a promising one, submitting a query package for consideration that has several agents copied on the same e-mail. This is a mudsling in the Publishing Industry. It is a faux pas.

I don't know how to be more blunt about this, but it's a major blunder and every single agent on that list will probably decline your work.

Once a literary agent declines your work, you can not resubmit the work to them unless they tell you what to change and what to send in instead. I'll be honest with you, other than myself... and only because I'm a sucker, most agents might even just delete the e-mail. Or worse, the last time this happened several agents responded with unkind or snappy comments and copied everyone in their response, including the author. I really don't want this to happen to anyone else. Ever!

What did I do this time around? I of course replied the the lovely misinformed author because not only do I feel badly about letting people make such costly mistakes, but also because I saw it as an opportunity to make a difference. I kept it short and sweet. Hopefully he will listen.

My response to the author:

"...I was just about to ask you for a sample of your pages and a synopsis to complete your submission (because the package was also incomplete) for review, but noticed that you copied several agents in this e-mail. In the industry, this is a big No-No. If you don't want to get declined by all of them, I recommend sending an immediate e-mail withdrawing the submission and apologizing for error. Then send them each an independent e-mail following their submission guidelines. I'm only telling you this because your story sounds like it has potential and I don't want you to waste this opportunity to reach good people. Good luck!"

I think that the most helpful thing that I can say here without sounding condescending or preachy is simply to list some of the most elemental, but most important tips you will ever need for Querying Agents.

1- Do your research before reaching out to agents that represent your work, that are open to queries, and learn about them before you decide if they are a good match. Not all agents are created equal and not everyone is a good match for everyone. Choose your partner carefully.

2- Query each agent separately, very subtlety letting them know that you've done your research by perhaps telling them why you've chosen them. You do't actually need to tell them this. You can simply show them that you've done so by doing all of the things they like and giving them what they want. Use the KISS method- Keep It Simple Stupid

3- Always follow their Submission Guidelines! Most of us have them listed on our websites. If we don't, continue to research.

4- Don't be lazy, be professional, always put your best foot forward. You aren't ready, until you are sure that you've done it right and you're submitting only your best work.

Don't befoul your opportunity to make a good impression... you might not get a second chance!

Happy Querying!
~ Marisa

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Should You Use The Word 'Said' When Writing Dialogue?



“Teachers! Please Do Not Make Your Students Use Synonyms for Said,” I Blurted, is the name of this very true article by Gabriel Roth I just read. I say it's true because my twins are also in 4th grade and they have also been told to avoid using the word 'said' after quoting speech in dialogue. In fact, there seems to be a movement toward alienating the word 'said'. My feelings are mixed. I think that just like with anything else in life, a middle ground usually works best.

I struggle with this attempt to exile the word 'said' from being used in writing dialogue. I have even had arguments with my children about it because I’m contradicting their teachers. 

I understand that the reasoning is that repetitively using the word 'said' can be monotonous and lack creativity, and often can even be a lost opportunity to show the reader more. However, for all of the good reasons teachers are beseeching children to learn to use expletives and verbs, such as ‘snarled, professed, argued, remarked, cried, ect.,' sometimes it just becomes too much. I think that perhaps the teaching focus should be on when to offer more, and finding the right balance.

In my opinion, using the word less is a good technique to be encouraged. I however, disagree that the word said should be avoided at all costs. I believe that there should be a balance between its usage and using expressive terms to add to the dialogue when it makes sense, when they are necessary, and when they actually add value. 

Otherwise, we end up with a dialogue plagued with descriptive words after each statement that are distracting to the reader, jolting them out of the conversation and giving them too much work to keep up with all that is being presented to them. Sometimes there is such thing as too much, and it makes for just plain bad writing. 

I think that the balance is a skill to be acquired, and teachers should encourage the creativity of choosing appropriate words to replace the ‘said’, but not implore them to do so all the time. We don't need to exile the poor word to the lost land of the “Words to Not Use List.”

Sometimes, good dialogue doesn't even need anything after the quote, especially if there are only two people speaking. When your characters are well formed, and their speech patterns are clearly distinguishable from each other, and they have reasons for saying what they would say, you don't have to add anything after that quote. Your reader will know who said what. You can still add occasional descriptives like 'she said' here and there, or even something like, 'he said, as he searched her expressions for a sign that she was being disingenuous,' before continuing the dialogue. The later example not only tells you who said the statement, but also what he is doing as he speaks, and more importantly, lets the reader know that what the speaker is thinking without saying it... which goes a long way for those of us who repeatedly encourage authors to show instead of telling. 

I would therefore say that finding the balance between using the word 'said' versus other descriptives, or even nothing at all, is the key to good writing. So work on that! 

Happy Writing!
~Marisa

Click here and read the Article by Gabriel Roth



Gabriel RothGABRIEL ROTH
Gabriel Roth is a Slate senior editor and the editorial director of Slate Plus. Follow him on Twitter





Thursday, November 5, 2015

20th Free “Dear Lucky Agent” Contest: Romance and Romantic New Adult Fiction

I am currently the Judge for Chuck Sambuchino's "Dear Lucky Agent" Contest. This is his 20th contest, and the second time that I'm judging for him. Chuck is an amazing teacher, speaker, editor at Writer's Digest, and a successful author with THREE new books released this September. Take a look at Chuck's post about the contest with all of the rules and details. 
I hope that you send in your submission and look forward to reading your work! 
Welcome to the 20th (free!) “Dear Lucky Agent” Contest on the GLA blog. This is a FREE recurring online contest with agent judges and super-cool prizes. Here’s the deal: With every contest, the details are essentially the same, but the niche itself changes—meaning each contest is focused around a specific category or two. So if you’re writing any kind of romance or romantic new adult fiction, this 20th contest is for you! (No erotica.) The contest is live through EOD, Thursday, Nov. 12, 2015.
DearLuckyAgent2
WHY YOU SHOULD GET EXCITED
After a previous “Dear Lucky Agent” contest, the agent judge, Tamar Rydzinski (The Laura Dail Literary Agency), signed one of the three contest winners. After Tamar signed the writer, she went on to sell two of that writer’s books! How cool! That’s why these contests are not to missed if you have an eligible submission.
HOW TO SUBMIT
E-mail entries to dearluckyagent20@gmail.com. Please paste everything. No attachments.
WHAT TO SUBMIT (AND OUR SOCIAL MEDIA REQUIREMENTS)
The first 150-250 words (i.e., your first double-spaced page) of your unpublished, completed book-length work of romantic new adult fiction or romance (no erotica). You must include a contact e-mail address with your entry and use your real name. Also, submit the title of the work and a logline (one-sentence description of the work) with each entry.
Please note: To be eligible to submit, you must mention this contest twice through any any social-media. Please provide a social-media link or Twitter handle or screenshot or blog post URL, etc., with your official e-mailed entry so the judge and I can verify eligibility. Some previous entrants could not be considered because they skipped this step! Simply spread the word twice through any means and give us a way to verify you did; a TinyURL for this link/contest for you to easily use is http://tinyurl.com/q2wdw2u. An easy way to notify me of your sharing is to include my Twitter handle @chucksambuchino at the end of your mention(s) if using Twitter. If we’re friends on FB, tag me in the mention. And if you are going to solely use Twitter as your 2 times, please wait 1 day between mentions to spread out the notices, rather than simply tweeting twice back to back. Thanks. (Please note that simply tweeting me does not count. You have to include the contest URL with your mention; that’s the point. And if you use Twitter, put my handle @chucksambuchino at the middle or the end, not at the very beginning of the tweet, or else the tweet will be invisible to others.)
Here is a sample TWEET you can use (feel free to tweak): New FREE contest for writers of Romance and Romantic New Adult http://tinyurl.com/q2wdw2u Judged by agent @mcorvisiero, via @chucksambuchino
WHAT IS ELIGIBLE?
Completed romance novels and completed romantic new adult (no erotica).
Please note that this is a contest for new adult fiction and romance only.
CONTEST DETAILS
  1. This contest will be live through the end of Nov. 12, 2015, PST. Winners notified by e-mail within three weeks of end of contest. Winners announced at the top of this blog post thereafter.
  2. To enter, submit the first 150-250 words of your book (i.e., your first double-spaced page). Shorter or longer entries will not be considered. Keep it within word count range please.
  3. You can submit as many times as you wish. You can submit even if you submitted to other contests in the past, but please note that past winners cannot win again. All that said, you are urged to only submit your best work.
  4. The contest is open to everyone of all ages, save those employees, officers and directors of GLA’s publisher, F+W: A Content and E-Commerce Company, Inc.
  5. By e-mailing your entry, you are submitting an entry for consideration in this contest and thereby agreeing to the terms written here as well as any terms possibly added by me in the “Comments” section of this blog post. If you have questions or concerns, write me personally at chuck.sambuchino (at) fwmedia.com. The Gmail account above is for submissions, not questions.
PRIZES!!!
Top 3 winners all get: 1) A critique of the first 10 double-spaced pages of your work, by your agent judge. 2) A free one-year subscription to WritersMarket.com ($50 value)! 3) Their choice of any of Chuck’s 3 new books (mentioned at the top).
MEET YOUR (AWESOME) AGENT JUDGE!
Marisa-Corvisiero-literary-agentMarisa A. Corvisiero is the founder of the Corvisiero Literary Agency and their Senior Literary Agent. During the few years prior to starting her own agency, Marisa worked with the L. Perkins Agency, where she learned invaluable lessons and made a name for herself in the industry. Marisa is seeking creative stories with well developed plots and rich characters with unique voices. She will consider  Contemporary Romance, Thrillers, Adventure, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Science Fiction, or any combination thereof, unique concepts in Fantasy, Adventure and Science Fiction for middle-grade and Picture Books with special stories to deliver a subtle non didactic message. In non-fiction, she enjoys out of the box and high concept spiritual, self-improvement, science, and business books for all ages. You can visit her on Twitter at @mcorvisiero.
LEARN MORE ABOUT CORVISIERO LITERARY’S SALES
MAKE IT COUNTBy Megan Erickson
A college sophomore is on danger of flunking out until she is assigned a sexy, nerdy math tutor, the one man on campus who turns her inside out and sees the real her — but he’s her boyfriend’s best friend.
TELL ME WHENBy Stina Lindenblatt
About a young woman trying to keep life simple while she pull herself together after being abducted and meets someone who is anything but simple.
THE HURRICANEBy R.J. Prescott
A modern day Rocky story in London, where the fighter falls in love with a brilliant mathematician with a secret past that comes back to haunt them both.
HENDRIXBy MJ Fields and Chelsea Camaron
About the work-hard play-harder, super focused, determined, and steady voice of reason among the wild brothers, who falls for a woman in a mask during an erotic interlude at a charity event and again when fate makes their worlds collide.
TRUST THE FOCUSBy Megan Erickson
A college graduate embarks on a cross-country road trip with his best friend to spread his father’s ashes, but as the summer progresses he realizes he can no longer deny who he is, the future he wants, and his growing feelings for the man by his side.
Hendrix-book-cover Tell-me-when-book-cover make-it-count-book-cover The-Hurricane-book-cover Trust-the-focus-book-cover
~*~
For more information about Chuck Sambuchino, please visit his amazing blog, Guide To Literary Agents with Writer's Digest. 

Chuck's Fall Releases
three covers
  1. When Clowns Attack: A Survival Guide is an anti-clown humor book that teaches you how to defend yourself against these red-nosed bozos who plague us. It’s a perfect gift for that clown-hating friend in your life. Find it on Amazon or through Barnes & Noble or anywhere else books are sold.
  2. The 2016 Guide to Literary Agents is a big database of agents — who they are, what they want, how to submit and more. Find it in the Writer’s Digest Shop or anywhere else books are sold.
  3. The 2016 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market has oodles of markets (agents, publishers, etc.) for writers & illustrators of children’s books — from picture books to middle grade to young adult. Find it in the Writer’s Digest Shop or anywhere else books are sold.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Kindle Unlimited: Another Take-Over-The-World Scheme By Amazon?

I love Amazon.com. I have been a loyal customer for about fifteen years. I buy everything on Amazon, from books to chocolate, and everything in between. When my twins were born, I signed up for a 'subscription' for Pampers (diapers) and just kept them coming. It was awesome. We saved money and never ever ran out. No last minute trips to the store at inopportune times for us. I even buy all of my Christmas presents on Amazon. Easy one-click shopping and usually hassle-free returns for those picky recipients that have to carefully choose everything themselves, mainly my husband, are a huge draw for me.

I find that it is the easiest place to shop. Everything is searchable, organized by categories, and every product is reviewed in a five star system with commentary. Nothing else facilitates educated decision making like Amazon does. My favorite thing to buy on Amazon is, you've guessed it... books.

Yet in spite of all of my love for this formidable web-store, in my dealings as a Literary Agent and Consultant to authors I have encountered many issues with Amazon's pesky, complicated and cryptic algorithms used to recommend, rank, and promote products such as books. Although I haven't entirely figured them out mathematically, I've certainly determined some patterns and learned some things that work and don't work. So I'm sort of OK with the algorithms for now. I can also overlook some of the other issues they are having with some top publishing houses (Hachette), returnability, and low prices. I can even deal with the massive number of books competing for sales (currently about 3 Million books- up from 600,000 just 4 years ago). The thing that I'm having a difficult time rationalizing is Amazon's introduction of Kindle Unlimited.

For anyone that isn't aware of the all-the-books-you-can-devour program offered by Amazon, here is the short scoop. Basically, for a $9.99 monthly fee you can download (borrow) all the Kindle books your heart desires. As a book lover and avid reader this is heaven for me. As a publishing professional however, I see the effect this program is having on the industry, and how it affects independent authors whose livelihood depend on their online book sales. 

The above mentioned rigorous competition coupled with all time low e-book pricing (as low as $.99 e-books or even offered for free) have led to revenues leveling off after nearly doubling just just two years ago in 2012. Even though e-books have been selling more than print books since February 2011, overall profits have reached a plateau. And offering unlimited e-books for less than ten dollars per month is making matters much worse.

Some successful self-published authors have recently reported that after short term participation in the program their income decreased by as much as 75%. When an author publishes their work on Amazon they earn a 70% royalty.  A rate that is highest in the industry, especially when compared to traditional publishers. Even some of the best e-book profit sharing models aren't as high. This means that the average book selling on Amazon at $3.99 will earn $2.79 per book.

On the other hand, books in the Kindle Unlimited program don't receive consistent payments, with the current average payment of about $1.39 per download regardless of the book's length. Most authors can't afford, and shouldn't accept such a loss for the benefit of a company that claims to be saving all of them from other publishing models.

Luckily the program isn't mandatory, so self-published authors are not required to sign up to participate. But at what cost? This brings us back to the mysterious algorithms and unilateral control. Many believe that their books will lose not only a lot of attention, but also may be excluded from certain promotions and recommendations Amazon offers to their shoppers.

The solution is simple. Amazon should find a way to make it clear to authors that they can safely opt-out of the program without fearing exclusion or intentional retaliation. Algorithms should be clearly and mathematically explained. Success should be strictly based on merit and quality of work, not some abstract methodology that holds us hostage and at their mercy. No one should be forced to accept decreased profits out of fear.

An alternative in the case of Amazon's lack of cooperation would be proper organization and alignment of author's interests. I'm by no means suggesting boycotting or protests, but perhaps something along the same lines as a legalized union.

Monopolies are the enemy of capitalism. Likewise, a go to place for publishing like Amazon should remain loyal to the people that made it successful, and strive to level the playing field in the so called partnership. 

This is of course just my opinion based on my experiences, what I know of the industry, and the belief that fair business practices and ethical standards are imperative for success. No company should be allowed to dominate any industry and call all the shots, and no one should bite the hand that feeds them. 

So even though I am a fan of Amazon, my reservations are quickly gaining strength. This fantastic company has done a lot for the publishing industry and made a lot of people money. But greed is the ugly cousin of self righteousness. If Amazon is not carefully listening to the proverbial pulse of the industry, and continues on their unchecked journey to world domination, they should prepare for a stand off.

Happy Journey!
~Marisa