Category Archives: publishing tips

An Interview with Sandi Rog

by
Sandi Rog

 
 
Sandi Rog, one of our beloved editors and the author of Out of the Ashes (a 2016 Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award finalist), has announced her imminent retirement from IFW. But she is moving on to bigger and better things–like her own publishing company! We are so proud of Sandi and honored that she agreed to be interviewed about her new company. We wish her the best of luck for the future.
 
And, without further ado, an interview with the splendid Sandi Rog.
 
–Jessica Nelson
 
 
Q: Congratulations on establishing your new publishing company, TULPEN PUBLISHING!What inspired you/made you decide to start your own publishing company?

A: That’s a great question. As you all know, I’m an author, and after getting several royalty checks over the years, I discovered, I can make more money off the blood, sweat, and tears put into my books if I publish them myself. This is becoming a trend among many writers, even bestselling authors.

 A good contract will pay authors 10 percent off the “retail,” meaning 10 percent off the price of the book. So if the book sold for $14.00, the author would get $1.40 per book. This is considered a fair royalty rate from publisher to author. However, there are publishers out there who only pay 10 percent off the “wholesale” price or “net” worth. That means if the book costs $7.00 to print, the author would only earn 70 cents off each sale of the book. I’ve dealt with publishers who pay both these amounts, and in my opinion (and most agents will agree), the royalty amount of 10 percent off the “wholesale” is unethical and unfair to the author. Not what I’d call “author friendly” at all. Ultimately, this is what motivated me to publish my own book, but I also made my company available to other writers because I know a lot of talented authors out there who can’t get a big house to take their work. It’s my goal for Tulpen Publishing to be another avenue for those authors so they can get their books published.

Q: Will you be publishing e-books, print-bound, or both? 

A: I will be publishing e-books and print books. I will say the e-books are the biggest sellers. I’ve made ten times more on my e-book sales than I have on my print sales. E-books are now the biggest sellers in the market.

Q: Is there a set royalties factor for each title, or will royalties be based on the genre?

A: I’m eager to treat any author who writes for Tulpen Publishing with a fair royalty rate. All authors, of any genre, will receive 10 percent off the retail price of their book.

Q: Do you plan to publish an equal number of male and female authors? (I ask this, because numbers are adversely skewed in favor of men with the majority of US publishers, outside of the romance genre.) New and established authors?

A: I plan to publish books that have a great story and are written well, no matter who the book is written by, whether male or female, or new or established. If you’re a new author and your book hasn’t been edited, please don’t submit it. Don’t waste your time, or mine. I will reject it. I’ve already had to reject several manuscripts for this very reason. This is also why I’ve added Inspiration for Writers (IFW) to my website. For people who need an editor, they can go to someone I trust. It’s important they know I’m not making a profit from any of their edits if I send them to IFW. If you run into a publisher that offers editing services, RUN in the opposite direction. They can’t be trusted, and they may just be out to get your money with the promise of publishing your book if you pay an exorbitant amount of fees. An author should never have to pay to be published (unless they specifically hire a self-publishing company). Tulpen Publishing is a traditional publisher. We don’t charge our authors for anything.

Q: Do you consider a writer’s platform before offering a publication contract?

A: Platform is very important; however, I’ve seen authors without platforms become big sellers because their story is great! But I will look at an author’s platform, and that will have an influence on my decision. For those who don’t know what a “platform” is, read this ARTICLE.

Platform is kind of like managers saying, “We won’t hire you if you don’t have any experience.” Well, how do you get experience if you can’t get a job? Many publishers won’t take on an author if they don’t have a platform. In my experience, a GOOD STORY is what sells and what will then help build your platform, so don’t be discouraged if your platform is a little flimsy. Still, I do hope to see an author online: Facebook, website, blog, etc. We want more than just family and friends to buy the book.

Q: How involved will your company be with promotions? (i.e., book tour, advertising, free review copies, interviews, etc.)

A: Once an author is published with Tulpen, we initially offer 20 free books for promotions, giveaways, copies to keep, etc. The author’s book will be on our website, along with the author’s bio and a brief description of the book. We will also provide more copies (if the author has need) for promotions such as book signings, etc.

 Publishers today, whether big or small, have little to do with marketing. All the marketing belongs to the author, which is why it’s important to have a platform. I do share a Marketing Plan Sheet with my authors, and in fact, HERE’S A LINK to a welcome letter I send to all of Tulpen’s new authors (something few publishers offer).

Q: Will your company’s books be stocked in independent bookstores, major bookstores, department stores?

A: Tulpen Publishing is a POD press, so if a person wishes to purchase an author’s book from, let’s say B&N, the buyer will have to order it, and will likely even be charged shipping (unless they’re a member of B&N; then they won’t have to pay for shipping). As for independent bookstores, if the author knows of one in their hometown, Tulpen can send the bookseller the author’s book(s) to put on their shelves. These small booksellers are usually more open to putting local authors’ books on their shelves, and it’s best for the author to make initial contact while Tulpen does the follow-up.

Tulpen Publishing’s wish is to put God first: to be ethical, honest, furnish reliable edits, and offer an “author-friendly” environment with no upfront costs, industry-competitive compensation at 10 percent off the retail price, world-wide distribution, and numerous tips and help for marketing.

Q: Are you actively seeking submissions? If so, where are your submission guidelines posted?

A: Yes, we are open to submissions. You can read our submission guidelines HERE.

Q: Will you only be publishing Christian books?

A: If a book is clean according to your best judgment and a character experiences moral growth, Tulpen will be willing to take a look. But Tulpen is principally focused on Christian books.

Q: You’re already a multi-published author, so what advice do you have for new writers who want to break into publication?

A: Write a story that you’re passionate about, a story that excites you. If you’re not excited, your readers won’t be either. Finally, learn the craft! The editors here at IFW can teach you a lot. But before hiring an editor, get your hands on the books below. Not only will they make your editor’s job easier, learning on your own first will improve your manuscript so much that you won’t have to hire an editor two or three times to get your book where it needs to be.

“Self-editing for Fiction Writers” by Dave King and Rennie Browne
“The First Five Pages” by Noah Lukeman
“As the Plot Thickens” by Noah Lukeman

Thank you so much for having me. It was an honor to be interviewed by my favorite editors.

Lessons Learned

by
Bonnie Rose Ward

I’ll never forget the day I received my first shipment of books. I eagerly leafed through the pages with a feeling of elation. Finally! The years of pouring my heart and soul into writing, revising, editing, proofing, and the many invaluable lessons learned along the way—not to mention the million pots of coffee—had culminated into my first published book. A dream come true!

If I could do it all over again—perhaps a sequel in the near future—boy, would I ever change a lot of things! It is for that reason that I want to share my journey—which at times was rougher than a washboard road—from writer to published author with you. For all you writers out there who are working on a manuscript or just finished one and are now ready to publish, this is for you!

When I neared the completion of my manuscript, I became giddy with anticipation that I would soon be an author. I truly believed that once I typed “The End” on the last page of my manuscript, all my hard work would be over, and I would send it out to a few publishers, and one of them would gladly snatch it up in a heartbeat. After all, I believed I had a great story and, besides, I wrote it to the best of my ability, and I checked and double-checked my spelling and grammar. What else was there? Well, let me tell you. Rejections! That’s what. One after the other. What a letdown. Where was a “Rejected Anonymous Group” when I needed one? However, I picked myself up, squared my shoulders and moved forward. I was too invested in this project to give up now. It was time to search for a professional editor.

Editing

After learning that most editors will give a free sample of their work, I sent a copy of the first few chapters to editors as far away as California and New York and everywhere in-between. As the samples poured in, my eyes hungrily devoured the pages. Ironically, the best editing job—hands down—came from right here in my own state of West Virginia; Inspiration for Writers, Inc. But, as ill-fate would have it, the promise of a “good” comprehensive edit for a much cheaper price by a different company won me over. I convinced myself that it would be a “good enough” edit and I could save myself a lot of money. Right? I couldn’t be any more wrong! When the edit came back it wasn’t anything more than a proof. Many of the pages didn’t even have a red mark on them. I knew that my book could be so much more, and in the end, we really do get what we pay for. If I wanted my book to be the very best it could be—and I did—I knew what I had to do. I turned back to Inspiration for Writers, Inc. It was the best decision I could have made for my book. 

Over the course of a year, Sandy Tritt, Rhonda Browning White, and I diligently worked on my book. Not only do those ladies go above and beyond—trust me, they do–but through it all, they made it fun and easy, they taught me so much, and they did it all without changing my story or my unique writing style. Besides hiring a good editor—and I advise that you do so because it’s hard to see all of your own mistakes or to look at your work objectively—I also can’t stress enough the importance that you, the author, must take full responsibility to see that your manuscript is in top-notch shape and the best it can be before you consider publishing. That means working with your editor, revising, proofing, proofing, and proofing some more. Some of you may be thinking, “But I want to publish my book now.” So did I, but I’m glad I didn’t rush into it. Be patient and do what you’ve got to do to get it right. In the end, you will have something you can be proud of. Winds of Skilak has won two book awards and today sits on Amazon’s Best Seller List in two categories, and has received rave reviews. I attribute my success to Inspiration for Writers, Inc. I have learned my lesson well and when my next book is written, I will save myself a whole lot of money, time, heartache and grief—I will make a beeline straight to Inspiration for Writers, Inc.

Publishing

I had often heard that once your book is written and ready for publication, you’ve only fought half the battle. I didn’t want to believe that. Actually, I didn’t believe it. However, once again, I realized I was wrong. No surprise there! I now had the daunting task before me of trying to publish and market my book. So many questions ricocheted in my mind. How do I publish? Who do I publish with? Do I try to find a traditional publishing company or do I self-publish? That was an easy answer for me. Having already run the gauntlet of submitting queries and proposals only to get rejections, I decided to self-publish. Now, that’s my personal choice. I’m not advocating that everyone should self-publish. For me, it was right. And again, you have to be proactive—it’s your baby and nobody cares about it more than you. There are many publishers out there, so you have to do your homework. In all honesty, I started searching my publishing options long before typing “The End” on my book. Once I made my choice and paid for my publishing package, I still had a lot of work to do. Don’t think for one moment that if you go with a self-publishing company, your struggles are over. I returned my manuscript many times to the publisher because of their formatting errors. I had to work to make sure they got it right. But, the day I held my baby in my hands, all the labor pains and hard work of giving birth to my story was replaced with indescribable joy!

Marketing

The first step in marketing is to find your target audience. Believing your book will appeal to everyone is a big mistake. You need to define who will likely purchase your book, and then figure out how to reach those specific people. Where do they hang out? What magazines do they read? For instance, if your book is about hunting or camping or outdoor activities, you might see if you can put your books in a sporting goods store, or perhaps write an article or put an advertisement in a hunting or outdoor sports magazine. I recommend using social media, like Facebook (my favorite), Twitter, and Pinterest, just to name a few. Start a website and/or blog and engage your members, keep them motivated. Look for online magazines and blogs that appeal to your target audience and see if they will hold a book giveaway or give you an interview. Advertise in newspapers. And don’t hesitate to ask for reviews. Reviews are an author’s best friend and they do make a difference. Just remember, you can’t sit back and expect your books to fly off the shelves all by themselves. It takes work on your part. And, last but not least, if you have a well-written book with a great story, word of mouth will be your best advertisement of all.

It has been a pleasure sharing my experience as a first-time author with you, and it is my hope that some of the information I have provided here can be of some help—and for you new authors or soon-to-be authors out there, I wish you the very best on your journey to making your writing dreams come true.

Bonnie Rose Ward

Award-Winning Author of Winds of Skilak: A Tale of True Grit, True Love and Survival in the Alaskan Wilderness. After fifteen years as a “wilderness wife” in Alaska, award-winning author Bonnie Rose Ward now resides with her husband on their farm in central West Virginia. They still maintain a self-sufficient lifestyle, raising goats, chickens, and other barnyard animals, with four dogs and a peacock named George rounding out the menagerie. Bonnie enjoys canning vegetables from the huge gardens sowed by her husband with heirloom open-pollinated seeds, and in her “spare” time, she continues to write her memoirs of the Alaskan wilderness.