Everything about books and writing

Month: October 2021

Behind the Dust Jacket

Historically, a publisher has been the gatekeeper of literature, bringing readers and authors together through advertising and a distribution network. The publishers pay authors money to write books in the form of “advances” for the authors to live on while they write. Thereafter, a publisher will pay a writer a “royalty” for every copy of the author’s book they sell. The publisher assumes the risks in the hope that they will be rewarded by fantastic global sales. To manage the risk of a book not being publically well received, publishers assume artistic control of the writing and story development, “guiding” the author through a tried and tested recipe for success. In a declining global economy with disposable income evaporating, publishers tend to stick to what they know will sell – genres and themes that are currently trending – to ensure sales.

Consequently there is a limited amount of diversity and new ideas in an industry geared towards creating and supplying a mass market. That is where self-publishing is starting to disrupt the industry. There is more variety on offer than ever before, but the general public, as yet, are not aware of it, as change comes slowly to readers. Many cling puritanically to the idea of hard copy whilst the, shall we say more heretical, younger readers have embraced the concept of kindles and ebooks. It is those brave new worlders that self-publishing authors are hoping to convert and attract away from the conventional and traditional publishers who “know what’s best” for the reading public.

For now, publishers continue to be powerhouses from which we get the likes of Harry Potter and The Girl with the Dragoon Tatoo, and they are still especially powerful in the arena of educational and academic textbooks which carry hefty price tags. Here is a list of the top ten publishers by revenue. See if you recognize any of them.

Penguin Random House.
Annual Revenue: $3.3 billion. Germany.
Penguin Random House publishes 15,000 titles annually under its 250 divisions.

Hachette Livre.
Annual Revenue: $2.7 billion. France.
Founded in 1826,it now includes Hachette Australia, Hachette UK, and Hachette Book Group USA.

Springer Nature. 
 Annual Revenue: $1.9 billion. English-German.
 Its subsidiaries include Springer Gabler, Springer Healthcare, BioMed Central, Scientific America, Macmillan Education, and Nature Research.

 Wiley (John Wiley & Sons).                 
 Annual Revenue: $1.7 billion. USA.
 Founded in 1807, Wiley focuses on academic publishing and instructional materials for educational purposes.    

McGraw-Hill Education.                       
Annual Revenue: $1.7 billion. USA.
McGraw Hill supplies their traditional educational materials, digital products and services to over 11 million users.             

Scholastic Corporation.                        
Annual Revenue: $1.7 billion. USA. 
Founded in 1920, Scholastic has three divisions including children’s book publishing and distribution, education, and international.          

Cengage Learning.
Annual Revenue: $1.5 billion. USA. 
Cengage’s reference library arm specialises in e-research and educational publishing.  They also develop and maintain databases published online, in print, as e-books, or in microform.                 

Annual Revenue: $1.5 billion. USA. 
This household name is also represented in Australia, Canada, China, India, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

Macmillan Publishers.
Annual Revenue: $1.4 billion. Britain.
Founded in 1843, Macmillan is regarded as one of the “Big Five” publishers.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 
Annual Revenue: $1.4 billion. USA.
HMH publishes textbooks, non-fiction and fiction, assessments, instructional technology manuals and materials and reference works. They are venturing into TV through Netflix.

Last Book Stand

It is sad to think that these and other institutions may not be around much longer as they are swept away by the digital revolution. Certain names have already disappeared through mergers and acquisitions as publishing houses have circled the wagons in a bid to survive.

Everything You Need To Know About Audio Books As A Self-Published Author

Publishing a written book is a heady experience, however, there are also other ways to bring your story to the masses. Audiobooks are a great way to help people who may be visually impaired get their daily dose of the written word. Audiobooks are also ideal for those who like to zone out and tune in during their daily commute or while they are doing anything else that may keep their hands engaged. Self-publishing your audiobook is a bit different than self-publishing, but we have put together an easy-to-understand guide that will tell you everything you need to know about audiobooks.

How Popular are Audiobooks?

Audiobooks are currently rising in popularity, however, only 10% of books actually have an audio version available. In the past, many publishers assumed that only older people or those who had trouble reading would be interested in audio versions of most books. This way of thinking not only made those interested in audiobooks embarrassed about their desires, but it also didn’t encourage authors to pay attention to the audio medium. These days, modern technology and easy access to self-publishing tools have helped the niche grow by leaps and bounds.

The Cost of Audiobooks

Thanks to the increased usage and the wide availability of audiobooks and audio programs across devices, the sale of audiobooks has grown exponentially. This fast growth has also brought down the overall cost so much that millions of titles are available for download for no more than a few dollars a month via subscription services. With the cost so low that it is affordable for just about anyone who is interesting in hearing their favorite books in audio form, the niche is becoming even more popular with authors from all walks of life.

Popular Audiobook Content Genres

Although audiobooks, in general, are increasing in popularity, there are some genres that perform better than others. The most popular books downloaded in the audio form are suspense, thrillers, and mystery novels. Sci-fi & fantasy are also widely popular and tend to get more engagement and active reviews than any other type. If you are a writer who favors any of the categories, converting your manuscript to audio form is an easy way to increase your fan base without releasing new titles.

Does Book Length Affect Popularity?

Most readers will happily dive into a long book even if it takes them several weeks or even months to finish. The experience that comes from reading a physical book is much different than having a story read to you while you are engaged in other activities. Shorter novels tend to do much better as audio titles with just under half of the purchases being books that are three hours long or less. That is not to say longer books won’t sell, only that they have a much smaller market reach than books that can be completed in a few days at the most.

The Cost of Creating a Self-published Audiobook

Like with traditional self-publishing, there are costs involved with making an audiobook on your own. You can edit, narrate, and publish your manuscript on your own with just some audio equipment and a solid editing program. This will cost anywhere from $200 to $600 depending on the quality of equipment you purchase. Hiring someone to narrate on your behalf will increase the cost by $1,000 to $2,000 while hiring a production company will raise it even further to as much as $5000. Marketing cost and advertising are separate which will vary depending on your needs. Regardless of the cost or publishing options you choose, transforming your manuscript into an audio title is a great way to grow your audience organically.

How to Work From Home When You Have Kids

Since the COVID 19 pandemic, many people have been working from home. For some, it’s a joy to be home and around the kids all day. But getting work done with the kids around can also be challenging. As a freelancer with children, this way of life is not new to me. Here are tips for working home effectively when you have kids. 

1. Create a routine.

Having a routine is very important in that it helps you organize your day in advance. Plan out your day the night before so that you have a priority for the work you need to complete. Throughout the day, keep an eye on your task list to keep yourself on track. Having a routine will also mentally prepare you for accomplishing tasks around your kids’ schedules, such as nap time or snack time. Kids work well with schedules, so creating a combined home and work schedule can be beneficial.

2. Wake up early.

This is especially important if you have kids who need lots of attention. Waking before they wake gives you kids’-free quiet time to get through work. Then, you can then spend the rest of the day with them without worrying. Use any chance they sleep, including naps, to work and handle phone calls.

3. Keep kids entertained.

As any parent knows, entertainment is a very effective way of distracting a child. As much as we don’t want to rely on TV, there will come a time when it’s necessary. If you have an important meeting and cannot be interrupted, try putting on their favorite shows. Choosing one of the best children’s books can go a long way too.

4. Give them tasks to handle too.

When you are busy, make sure the kids are active. Set up a small space for your kids to “work” too. It can be art projects, reading, homework, or anything they can do quietly while close to you. They will try so hard to emulate what you are doing since you are both in the office. This will automatically create a conducive work environment, and you will both enjoy working as a team. It’s never too early to learn to talk to kids about money.

5. Make them understand that you have to work.

Due to frustrations and rushing deadlines, most parents may lose their temper and become angry at their kids for distracting them while working. Instead of getting mad at the kids for being a distraction, find a way of making them understand that you have to work. For instance, if they have always wanted a specific toy, you can tell them that you can only get that toy for them if you work hard. Since they need this toy, the kids will ensure that you have a very conducive environment for working. They will try so hard not to interfere with you in any way when you are working. 

6. Set clear boundaries.

Setting clear boundaries effectively communicates to your kids that you need time and space to work. This works effectively for work-from-home parents who have older kids who can read and write. For example, when you are busy in the office and have things done on time, you can have a “Do Not Disturb” or “At Work” sign on your door. When they approach the door, they will see this sign and understand that you need space to work and respect it. This allows you to work and complete your tasks on time. 

7. Set up a food station in the house.    

This is another fun way of keeping your kids distracted while you are working. Although the house may be messy at the end of the day, you will have completed all the tasks that you need to. In addition to that, you can engage them when you are clearing the mess they created to feel the need to help you. Not only is this cleaning time, but it is also time that you can use to bond with your kids after working for several hours. 

8. Be gentle with the kids.

Kids pick up the vibrations around them. If you are mad or angry at them, they will feel it. Your job definitely means so much to you, but so do your kids. You need to make them a priority in everything you do to feel that parental love. Instead of being mad at them or shutting them out when working, you should be gentle with them. Talk to them calmly and make them understand why you need to complete your work first. Once this conversation is successful, you will have ample time to work. 

9. Get help from other family members. 

At times dealing with the kids alone can be a challenge to so many parents. You get overwhelmed with work and taking care of your kids to a point, you can lose your mind. However, if any of your family members are around, you can talk them into helping you look after the kids. 

Consequently, if you have a nanny around who your kids are familiar with and relate with perfectly. You can ask her to help you out with the kids for a few hours before bonding with them. If you have friends working from home, consider setting up a childcare swap, giving them some alone time for work while you care for yours and their children, and then swapping for the second half of the day.

Working from home is a challenge for many parents, especially with the kids around the house. However, with all of the above tips, you can effectively work from home, even with the kids around.

Rose Rosie is a writer for the personal finance website, Joy Wallet, which provides readers with useful information, resources, and tools to help maximize their financial fitness.

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