I participated in a panel discussion with three other writers on historical fiction. The You Tube video is sponsored by the Ohioana Library Book Festival, April 29-May 2, 2022.
Self-publishing with Amazon
Self-publishing with Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) is free and relatively easy. They have helpful information and tools available. Using their cover creator allows you to make a decent cover, and you can upload your own images for the cover. The resulting printed product generally looks good. Also, they make it easy to view sales and royalties.
A downside to publishing with Amazon that is perhaps little talked about is that some bookstores will not accept books on consignment that are printed by Amazon. It is viewed as a behemoth that cuts into their business by offering lowered prices.
Another reason might be that bookstores want to order books from distributors like Ingram that are returnable if they do not sell.
Amazon does provide an Expanded Distribution option. They will list books with the distributors so that authors might reach more readers in bookstores, libraries, and online retailers. However, if one chooses this option, the royalty rate will be less, and Amazon does not guarantee a book will be accepted by distributors or ordered by a particular bookstore or library.
Portrait of Annie; Ohioana Library book festival
My novel, Portrait of Annie, will be one of the featured books at the Ohioana Library 2022 book festival.
About the Ohioana Library (as stated on their website):
The Ohioana Library Association was founded in 1929 by Ohio First Lady Martha Kinney Cooper to collect, preserve, and promote the works of Ohio authors, artists, and musicians. By the early 1930s the Library had outgrown its space in the Governor’s Mansion and moved into the new State Office Building at 65 S. Front Street, where it remained until 2001. Ohioana and the State Library of Ohio then moved to the renovated Jeffrey Mining Corporate Center near downtown Columbus. Today the Library’s holdings include more than 45,000 books by or about Ohioans; 10,000 pieces of sheet music; biographical files on notable Ohioans; personal papers of Ohio authors and artists; and numerous scrapbooks created by Ohio civic and cultural organizations. The collection does not circulate, but is available for in-library use.
The Association is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt, not-for-profit organization governed by a Board of Trustees composed of up to 28 members from throughout Ohio. It is supported through memberships, subscriptions, contributions, and a subsidy from the State of Ohio. Members and subscribers live in 36 states, the District of Columbia, and three European countries. Find out how you can support Ohioana: http://www.ohioana.org/support/.
You can visit the Ohioana Library in person at 274 E. First Avenue, Suite 300 in Columbus, Ohio. See our Contact page for information about planning your visit.
Hometown Reads is a website dedicated to serving local authors across the country, by helping them connect with readers in their hometown through what they call the Read Local movement. My novel, Portrait of Annie is now listed there:
Look up your own town and get your book listed!
PORTRAIT OF ANNIE, a novel by B. Kussow
has just been released. It is available on Amazon both in paperback and e-book format.
Portrait of Annie is a fictional biography. Ann Elizabeth Richards, born in rural Ohio in 1943 to a family of limited means, wins an art scholarship to the Ohio State University. The novel begins as she starts her academic career on the cusp of the Sixties, a decade that was dominated by controversy over the Vietnam War, the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, and civil rights struggles.
She develops romantic entanglements with a graduate student and a charismatic poet who is involved in counterculture activities.
Annie bears witness as protest on the OSU campus reaches anarchic proportions and the Ohio National Guard is called in to quell the violence with tear gas and Billy clubs. The situation culminates with the closing of the University for a two-week period to prevent rioting after the Ohio National Guard opens fire on student protestors at Kent State University.
She goes to the infamous 1969 Woodstock Festival and participates in the March on Washington. At the end of the decade, Annie decides to make portraiture her life work. She embarks on a stable existence, but her life is yet to be rocked by personal tragedies.
At its heart, Annie’s Story is about coping with loss, enduring, and eventually finding a measure of contentment.
Amazon as Publisher
Of course, we all familiar with Amazon as seller of books, e-books, and audiobooks. But maybe people do not realize that Amazon has become a huge force in the publishing business as well.
Amazon, the subject of Congressional investigations for its monopolistic ways, has made Jeff Bezos, its owner, worth some $193 billion dollars. With its tentacles into the publishing industry, it not only sells books, but it also publishes them, and this makes for further complications and accusations.
A recent article in the Washington Post reports a problem with public libraries. The e-books and audiobooks published by Amazon are not available to libraries. Most other large publishers do make deals with libraries. I know because I frequently read e-books via Overdrive, a digital distribution company that handles transactions between libraries and publishers. I usually read them on my Kindle, the popular Amazon e-reader. (An important point is that the books made available via my library card are free to me; my public library pays the publisher for this deal.)
I find myself viewing this situation from different standpoints. As an Amazon customer, I am aware that the company has frequently been criticized for ruining brick-and-mortar bookstores, and I am ambivalent about giving them my business, but I respect, even admire, their efficiency. (I have especially appreciated their service during the COVID-19 pandemic.) As I said, I am a Kindle reader and sometimes opt to buy an e-book that is cheaper than its print version.
As a writer, I am somewhat wary of Amazon. It has been accused of practices that are unfair to authors. I have considered publishing with Amazon, but I feel their withholding electronic books from libraries makes me less likely to do so.
As a retired librarian, who spent many days of my life behind reference desks, I am foursquare in favor of the democratic ideal of making books and information freely available to the public.
Finally, as a reader, I think the ease of downloading e-books via Overdrive is great.
Publisher’s Weekly reports that Amazon is in negotiation with the nonprofit Digital Library of America to make its e-book content available to public libraries. I hope that happens.
Here are links to three articles if you’re interested in reading more about the issue:
Writers, be careful with the use of photos, posters, logos, and song lyrics in your manuscripts. You may unwittingly violate copyrights.
I took a virtual course on the legal aspects of writing. I’m glad I did. It was illuminating.
You must seek permission, and even if it is granted, can be costly. I wanted to use song lyrics in my novel and contacted two publishers. Their going rates were a fee of $250 to cover x number of copies sold over x number of years. Not cheap, but probably a lot cheaper than a fine for copyright violation.
I also wanted to use a poster/trademark from a well-known company. They would grant permission, but I would have to sign a contract agreeing to purchase and maintain general comprehensive liability insurance in the amount of $1 million with their name added as an insured entity. I figured this might cost me $300-$1,000 per year. Good grief! Maybe if my novel shot to the top ten on the NYT Best Sellers’ list and stayed there for a year or two. I declined.
I know of one case in which a blog writer was contacted by a company demanding a hefty fee for using a photograph. So, even blogs are not exempt from copyright.
So, writers, take care.
Jane Friedman’s Paths to Publishing
Jane Friedman’s Paths to Publishing Chart is helpful in sorting out the many paths one might pursue in publishing: Jane Friedman’s 2019-2020 Paths to Publishing.
Amazon Publishes books by Top Authors
The big news in publishing is that Amazon is now publishing top authors. Check out this article in the Wall Street Journal: Amazon Publishes Books by Top Authors, and Rivals Fret.
Another article can be found in Publisher’s Weekly: Koontz Inks Multibook Deal with Amazon Publishing.
THE PAID PUBLISHING GUIDEBOOK FOR 2020
The Paid Publishing Guidebook for 2020 can be obtained free from the “Authors Publish” site.