Now that we’ve all survived a hectic January, it’s time for the Red Sofa Chats to return. I’m excited to have Angela James as our first guest in 2012. She brings a forward-thinking eye to the publishing table, and extensive knowledge about digital publishing. I appreciate her positivity, advice about publishing and general enthusiasm for life, and wouldn’t have met her if it wasn’t for Twitter. Thank you Angela for joining the Red Sofa Chats!
Executive editor of Carina Press, Harlequin’s digital-first imprint, and veteran of the digital publishing industry, Angela James is a long-time advocate for digital publishing. She has enjoyed nearly a decade of experience in digital publishing, including successfully launching, building and serving as executive editor for two digital-first presses. Angela frequently travels to regional, national and international writing conferences to meet with authors and readers and to drag them to the digital dark side. She’s the creator of online self-editing course, Before You Hit Send, which she offers to authors at all stages of their writing career. You can find Angela daily on both Twitter and Facebook.
Though Angela does not do much acquiring and editing these days, spending most of her time on the administrative end of things, she continues to edit a small group of authors she’s had a long-time editorial relationship with, as well as the special, invitation-only, Carina Press holiday collections. In addition, she’s been known to be seduced into editing the random novella that catches her attention while she’s browsing the submissions inbox. And Angela is still waiting for someone to write her the ultimate cowboy space opera romance adventure, in the vein of Firefly. For that particular project, she’ll give up sleep in order to edit!
1. Why did you choose to become an editor?
My original career was in occupational therapy. I took on editing a decade ago as a side-project, because I loved books and wanted to be involved in their creation. One pregnancy and a move across the state later, and I ended up taking on more editorial work while I took a “hiatus” from my OT job to be a stay-at-home mom for a few years. Things snowballed from there, and I somehow never ended up going back to my occupational therapy career, which is what I’d always intended to do, but instead developed a (mildly successful) career in editing!
2. Are there any projects you wish you could have edited?
Pretty much everything ever written by Ilona Andrews and Nalini Singh, because I love reading their work. I would love to discover a writing voice like theirs!
3. What are you reading right now (for personal reading, for fun)?
This changes just about daily. I read a lot, and I read quickly. I read 330 books in 2011, not including what I read for work. Most recently I read Fair Game by Patricia Briggs and Oracle’s Moon by Thea Harrison. I’m looking forward to the release of the latest J.D. Robb book, and I’m currently reading an older fantasy series by Jennifer Roberson.
4. How do you utilize Twitter? How do you believe it has changed the way we go about publishing books?
Twitter is a fun place for me, so I don’t consciously have a plan for it or use it ruthlessly for just one thing. I do a lot of things with purpose, but Twitter, for me, is a place to hear about the world, interact with people I like, and sometimes be a little silly. I do the occasional promotional tweet, but more often I’m talking about other people’s books. The one way in which I do use Twitter for work is to do a hashtag called #editreport where I give authors insight into what editors are thinking as they read the slush pile.
I don’t know if it’s changed how we publish books, but I do think it’s influenced how we promote them. All social media definitely has had a dramatic impact on how we market and promote!
5. If you had a crystal ball, where do you think (or hope) publishing will be in 5 yrs?
Let’s see, in 5 years I think the digital format will be at least 50% of publishing sales. I believe we’ll have seen a calming of the incredible rush of everyone and their dog to self-publish a book. Digital royalty rates at traditional publishers may be somewhat higher. Advances will be lower, as will print runs. And, sadly, even more brick and mortar bookstores will have shut their doors. But on the upside, readers will have an even more expansive selection of books to read, at a reasonable price!
Thanks so much Angela! For my readers, what are your thoughts on the future sales #s for ebooks? And what have your experience been regarding social media and how books get published today? Angela will be answering questions, so you can be as specific as you want. The winner will get to select two digital ARCs of the March/April Carina Press titles. The last day is March 1st.
I’d like ebooks to develop further along the lines of apps ie more, interesting content to complement the text. For example, today’s Telegraph newspaper mentions an app of TS Eliot’s The Wasteland which offers “not just the final text, but critical notes that were previously published in a separate volume, a facsimile of Eliot’s manuscript as annotated by Ezra Pound, also previously to be found in a separate book, and a number of audio recordings of the poem, including two made by Eliot himself and one by Ted Hughes.” Granted that an ebook version might not feature all the above but this kind of imaginative approach, this all-encompassing presentation would surely satisfy ebook readers and lessen the blow of any potentially prohibitive pricing. The text of a book is primarily what matters but ‘special’ releases would be, at once, pleasurable for the book-lover and a tempting purchase for the as-yet uncommitted shopper; I’d love to see ebooks compete with other media in this manner.
How does one win the two Carina Press books that were twittered about?
By asking Angela a question or making a comment 🙂 The winner’s name will be drawn 3/2/12
I think e-book sales will continue to increase. I got my e-reader (kindle) a couple of years ago and would rather read on it than read a “dead tree” book. I like being able to increase the text size as the night goes on.
Angela, I read your retweet about “Who sets your price” for e-books, and I understand the challenges of going it alone. What do you see as the biggest advantage to working with a digital publisher rather than self publishing?
I see a steady increase in ebooks in the future, particularly with the increasing proliferation of tablets. I do believe some issues will need to be addressed, from pricing to DRM to library lending.
My personal experience, as someone who has had a Sony eReader since they originally came out, is that some publishers seem to get it in regards to release dates and prices, but too many of them don’t. Their pricing is based on paper issues, but as many of us complain, there aren’t the costs involved with digital copies that there are with physical. At first, I didn’t mind the expenses being spread out, but now that the digital market is increasing, that needs to be thought.
I believe all these issues will need to be addressed, but I think it will probably wind up in the courts before it can be settled.
I agree that the sales of ebooks will probably increase. Although I still buy and enjoy reading print books, gradually I seem to be buying more ebook. I love both and hope that both will continue to be available forever =-)
Jennifer, I think there are a lot of opportunities that come with working with a publisher, especially if someone is new to publishing. You don’t know what you don’t know about publishing, and even I, who’ve been in the business a decade, still discover there’s a lot I don’t know. New authors can learn a tremendous amount about the process by working with a publisher.
You also saw another benefit in the post you referenced, from Jim Hines: someone to run interference for you with the etailers, but also someone to pimp your book to those same etailers. Most newsletter recognition, special promotions and prime positioning doesn’t happen by accident!
I also think there’s a lot to be said for an author using the bulk of their time to create, rather than publish. Some authors thrive on doing all of the technical and business details, but some authors don’t, and the more time you have to spend on that, the less time you have to write.
I agree with you about authors using the bulk off their time to create and can see the real advantage to having someone pimp your book. Thanks for taking the time to reply!
I want to see ebook sales increase, but I would also like to see a better balance in how the final products are priced. I know that there are similar editing costs between paper and print, but there are some of the costs which are material costs…it seems like paying 25 bucks for an ebook which often I can’t trade, sell, loan or really own, versus a nice hard cover is still problematic. I like the pricing at Carina…I can buy more books that way. 😉
Considering the ease of being able to take multiple books with you wherever you go (or your whole library – like me) e-readers and their media, e-books, are definitely the way to go. Especially now, where a lot of public libraries are jumping on the bandwagon and allowing free checkouts of available e-books. Add to it the ease of syncing your reading across multiple devises (iPhone to Kindle), the reading experience just got a whole lot better. I still have an issue with some of the e-books being priced the same as their printed counterparts. While there are costs for licensing and uploading to various distributors, I still don’t believe the cost factor equates to publishing and printing costs.
Is there anything Carina can do as a publisher to get your books into libraries?
Also, will more of your books be published in print? I was very happy when HQN decided to release Shannon Stacey’s first three Kowalski books in print as I still have friends who refuse to read digitally and I knew they would enjoy those titles. But there are others I think they would like as well. Any tips on how to convince folks who are very resistant to give digital a try? (Other than loaning them my Sony as some of them live in different states).
@library addict We make our books available to all libraries via Overdrive. It’s up to the individual libraries to choose to purchase them for their catalogs. We have heard from librarians that they like our books because they’re easy to use to show patrons new to the digital space how to read a digital book on a device, since our files don’t have DRM.
As for print, we’re always working with other Harlequin imprints to explore which of our titles might work for their lists as well. Around 15-20 of our titles have been picked up by our direct to consumer group for mailing to subscription members, and those titles are always available for a limited time for sale in print on the Harlequin site. We’ll keep looking for more options for print, but our first commitment is always going to be to digital.
As to tips, I think it depends on the person you’re recommending to. For instance, my dad travels a lot, so I convinced him it was a good thing so he could not only have access to several books, but he also reads mostly at night so I pointed out the convenience of a backlit device like the nook color or Kindle Fire. Essentially, I look for what’s important to that person and highlight the advantages of digital to them specifically, not as a whole or generically.
Great questions, thank you!
I see e-books increasing in popularity in the future. I have only had my Nook for about a year and have already read more books than ever on it. I have read a lot of series books based off of a Free Fridays selection by B&N, which is another perk of e-books. I like that you can read them instantly – you don’t have to go to a store, look for it, stand in line, etc. I also like that there are apps to use with them so while we might own one copy of a book my husband and I can read it on my Nook, our phone, or our tablet and we don’t have to “share” the hardcopy. There are just so many functions of e-books. Regarding twitter/social media – I have already met and added several new books to my library just by other people posting about them.
I think digital books will be huge in 5 years. I’ve only had my Kindle for 18 months but I have almost 850 stories on it. Most are novellas. That is part of why I love Ebooks. I don’t always have time to read a full length novel. Novellas fit the bill nicely.
Regarding social media: I get almost all of my book recommendations from Twitter. I also think providing an ebook for free for a limited time is great marketing. I’ve bought whole series because of a free book that I loved.
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I tend to get emotionally invested in the books I read–from wanting to toss it across the room (an impulse I’ve had to curtail since I bought my eReader) to wanting to buy copies for all of my friends, forcing them to read it immediately so we can talk about it.
As a professional reader of sorts, how do you keep your emotions out of the equation? Or do you?
I think involving your emotions is an important part of reading, so I would never be able to keep them out of reading. Of course, I do need to be able to think somewhat impartially about the market value of a book, but that can be done despite emotions, not without them!
My dog is not self-publishing, it’s the cat. *heh* So…is there any relationship to occupational therapy and nurturing authors?
What was your training to become an editor? Is it a career you would advocate for those who love books? If so, any advice on how to get on the inside track?
If you were still acquiring, how important would an author’s background in technical writing, business writing, English Education, etc. be? That person would have a lot of editing and sentence structure and plain ‘ole writing experience, but maybe none in writing fiction.
I think as we move into the next few years, we’ll start to see an even greater balancing effect. More people will have some form of ereader, whether it’s a an actual committed ereader or a tablet of some kind, and that we’ll find a more seamless integration of the two.
You say that social media has impacted the way you promote a book. What have you found to the most effective social media platform in promoting a book?
My prediction for ebooks would be even greater than 50%, but that’s just based on anecdotal data.
I know others have asked what the most effective social media platform is in promoting a book. I wonder how you know what’s effective and what’s not.
I haven’t come across the Twitter hashtag “#editreport” before. What a great idea. Thanks, Angela, I follow you on Twitter and I can’t wait to read more of your tweets! 🙂
Reblogged this on A Goblin, a Unicorn, and a Dragon and commented:
A good and informative read! Angela James, who I’ve “Tweeted” with, is smart, savvy, and open about the editor/acquisition process and thinking!