President and First Lady Obama Just Signed a Book Deal for How Much!?

This was inevitable. Everyone knew President Obama would sign a massive book deal once out of office. But my goodness! The reported numbers are astonishing.

Reports indicate the Obamas’ joint book deal is worth $65 million dollars! I’ve never heard of such a lucrative deal. Not for presidents or politicians or celebrities or anyone. And people wonder why first-time authors struggle to even get a publishing contract. The majority of their profits will be donated to charity.

Penguin Random House has proven that publishing deals aren’t always about what they’ll be able to make off of it. But then first-time authors will still get an advance of $2000 and no marketing. But eh.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever heard come out of publishing?

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“Making a Murderer” Book to be Published by Penguin Random House in UK

If you’re a Netflix subscriber, then you’ve surely caught wind of the buzz around their documentary series Making a Murderer. It was filmed over a decade and chronicles the conviction, subsequent release, and second conviction of Steven Avery.

The Innocent Killer was originally published by the American Bar Association. The book is currently out of stock on Amazon’s US website. Penguin Random House will release the book in the UK in print on February 1.

I’ve only read one true crime book that I can think of, but I’ve found that they can read and be written much the same as a novel. The reader just has to keep in mind that the events being described were real and happened to real people. I’d think it’d be easier to appreciate the story when this is taken into account, even if the book isn’t written as well as your favorite author’s books.

Have you seen or heard of Making a Murderer? Are you interested in this book about the entire thing?

 

The Penguin Hotline is Back

Remember how last year Penguin started their hotline during the holiday season? Well they’re back at it again this year.

I don’t remember what I said last year, but y’all know I don’t like the idea of someone telling me what to read. And I hate that these so-called experts think they know what other people should and need to be reading. It’s a little ridiculous.

“Oh, you like this young adult series? Well you’ll like this one too. I just know it.” Ugh. Oh well.

You can find the hotline here.

The Release Date of Stuart Scott’s Memoir Moved up

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First off, do you know who Stuart Scott was? No? Well he was arguably the most popular anchor on ESPN’s flagship program SportsCenter. He’d been with the network for the past two decades and put a new face to covering sports. He’d also been fighting cancer for the last seven years.

He died January 3 at the young age of 49. I’ll admit that I cried when I found out, which was via text from ESPN early that morning. It wasn’t because I think death or dying is particularly sad, I don’t, but his death showed the impact he’d had on millions of people. There were moments of silence at NFL, NBA, and even college basketball games after his death. Other networks spoke incredibly highly of a man they only knew from afar. And athletes shared their personal stories. His memoir Every Day I Fight was originally slated for a May release. But now that he’s died it’s been moved up to March.

I have an issue with this. I understand that publishing is a business. Anyone who says otherwise hasn’t got a clue, but this was already a surefire bestseller. Stuart Scott was open about his battle long before he wrote this book. And he was watched by millions on ESPN. So I don’t understand why Blue Rider Press (an imprint of Penguin Random House) has decided to change the release date. Quite frankly, I find it disrespectful to Stuart Scott and all of his surviving family. I have no idea how future royalties will be paid out, but it doesn’t matter. I’m sure his family would rather have him back instead of money from a book he wrote.

And I bet some of you will think that at least he’s getting to tell his story, uh no. He was already going to tell his story, but it just so happened that he died a few months before the book’s release. You and I both know that the book would have moved forward with the May release date if he were still alive today. But he’s not and it gets moved up.

Anyway, you can access the book’s Amazon page here. And if you’ve read all of this without having any idea who I’m talking about, well watch this. It’s a speech from last year’s ESPY Awards that he gave after being given the Jim Valvano Award for Perseverance.

Help Penguin Random House #GiveaBook

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I’d meant to post this sooner, but I didn’t have it written down on my phone’s notepad app like I do all my other blog ideas. Funny story, I usually just write down blog ideas as soon as I think of them. But sometimes I open the app and have no idea what I wanted to write. Then I scroll through the list and it only further complicates the matter. I usually forget until the next day or something. Maybe I have some kind of memory loss.

Anyway, back to this post. Penguin Random House announced their “Give a Book” program a little while back. I think it was in November. This is about the easiest thing you can do to make a small difference. The program is simple. The folks at Penguin Random House will donate a book to Save the Children every time someone tweets using #GiveaBook. That’s it! That’s all you have to do! Seriously.

Save the Children is a non-profit that literally does everything you can imagine for children around the world, including here in the US. And a book will be donated if you just tweet #GiveaBook.

I don’t know if the 25,000 limit has been reached yet, but what’s it matter? Tweet anyway. I’m getting in on the fun. If you feel like reading some very random and non-book related tweets, follow me on Twitter here. I’m a lot more…outspoken on there.

I Won’t Recommend Books…But I Know who Will!

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Photo Credit: Penguin

First off, thanks to everyone who voted in my first ever poll yesterday. I’m going to write a companion post once the poll is no longer visible next week to discuss the results. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, then click here to read the post and get your vote in before it’s all gone!

Okay. So y’all know that I don’t recommend books. Ever. Even when I’m asked by someone who knows that I still hesitate to do so. Well it turns out that there are some people who are eager to recommend some books for the reader in your family. Even though I’d just say get an Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card, but that’s just me.

The wonderful folks over at Penguin have set up the Penguin Hotline this holiday season to help you get that special someone the perfect book. Now there’s no doubt in my mind that they will be recommending books they’ve published, so obviously they aren’t recommending the “perfect” book to anyone. More like the “perfect book we published.” But Penguin Random House is huge and I’m sure they’ll really try finding the best matches for every person.

And it’s super easy. All you have to do is fill out a simple form about the person’s reading habits and you’ll receive an email within a couple of days with some recommendations. Simple.

So if someone in your family or circle of friends is big on reading and you’re not going to take my advice by getting them an Amazon gift card, then maybe the Penguin Hotline is for you.

Click here to visit the website and get your form filled out.

Traditional vs. Self-Publishing: And the winner is…

One of the major questions new authors face upon completing their manuscript is trying to decide whether traditional or self-publishing is a better fit for them and their work. Some authors will never self-publish because of their own beliefs about the self-publishing industry while others will try to go the traditional route and then self-publish after countless rejection letters from agents and/or editors. But is it even worth it? Are there enough advantages to self-publishing to justify taking that course? Let’s see.

Self-Publishing

The self-publishing industry has taken the book market by storm in recent years. There are seemingly companies popping up everyday that guarantee this or that for your newly released title. Mostly these are just to get you to take a look at their site where you’ll be bombarded with their so-called ‘success’ stories. You’ll read about one author who has sold enough books to quit their day job. Then another who became a NYT bestseller within their first couple of years of self-publishing. By this time you’re starting to get more and more interested and you’ve now begun looking into the packages and services offered by this particular company. Because in your head your book is just as good as any out there so if someone else can become a self-published bestselling author then so can you, right? Wrong.

Before continuing on further I would like to ask a question of you. How many self-published authors do you know by name?

It’s a simple enough question. So think about it. I’ll answer first…two. Kinda. Cause the two that I know are Hugh Howey and E.L. James. Both of these authors started out in self-publishing and experienced such success that traditional publishers came knocking at their doors. But they’re the exception. There are likely thousands of other struggling self-published authors for each of the major successful ones. For the record, I could probably name 50-100 traditionally published authors just off the top of my head.

But back to the point of this post. There are plenty of advantages to self-publishing. The author is finally able to say “I wrote a book.” The author has far more creative control when it comes to the manuscript and cover than he/she would if it was being done by a traditional publisher. The author will likely have a book available from the world’s largest bookstore Amazon.com. The quality of the books printed by self-publishers today is often no different than the quality of traditional publishers. Remember, I’m talking about the physical book and not the story itself.

Traditional Publishing

If this were a David vs. Goliath sort of post then the traditional publishing industry would be Goliath, accompanied by a vicious dog. The big five traditional publishers of Simon and Schuster, Penguin Random House, Macmillan, Hachette, and HarperCollins maintain a stranglehold on the publishing industry that can’t be overstated. But in reality it’s not much more different from the top few companies in any industry. I’m thinking Wal Mart, Safeway, Kroger, and Costco in grocery or ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX when it comes to broadcasting major sporting events.

Before going further let me define what it means to go the ‘traditional’ publishing route. The author queries an agent. The agent reads through and decides to represent the manuscript and pitches the story to editors and contacts that he or she may have at a traditional publisher. Eventually the story gets picked up, or it doesn’t.

The traditional publishing industry is loaded with gatekeepers to keep the lesser writers out of the industry, because it all comes down to the publisher making money from selling the books it publishes, right? It’s hard to make money not selling books or by publishing books by just okay writers. It’s a business and their business model has worked largely unchanged for a long time. I read recently that only about 2% of all authors are able to successfully go the traditional publishing route. 2%! If you ever wonder why there are so many self-publishers and self-published authors out there today then take a look at that number right there as partly responsible.

But let’s not forget that traditional publishers take all the risk when it comes to publishing. All of it.

My Take

This is coming from someone who self-published his first book through CreateSpace. It’s simple. Traditional publishing continues to rule the publishing world, and it’s not even close. Sure there are a few authors who have managed to gain critical acclaim and sell thousands upon thousands of books through self-publishing, but the more persistent trend is that the author will sell a few hundred copies of their book and then fall by the wayside. It’s just how it is.

So when you finish that manuscript you’ve been working on and you go through and rewrite and rewrite some more and then come to this particular question, I would suggest sending out a few queries to some agents before self-publishing. But that’s just me.