Thursday, April 01, 2010

A New Publishing Venture

Our guest blogger for today is Karen van der Zee, the globetrotting author of 34 romance novels published by Harlequin Books, many of them set in exotic locations. As Miss Footloose she writes about her (mis)adventures living in foreign countries on her blog LIFE IN THE EXPAT LANE.

I’m excited to have her here today because she’s part of a new venture in publishing and she’s offered to tell us about it. So, I’m going to turn over Straight From Hel to Karen, aka Miss Footloose, so she can talk about A Writer’s Work.

Wonderful to have you here, Karen!


 It’s a jungle out there in the book publishing world and it’s becoming ever more difficult to navigate for writers. Okay, I can see you all rolling your eyes. Yes, we all know this. We know about e-books, about e-readers, about self-publishing, about Print on Demand and all the many off-shoots, tangles and parasites. But I had to start somewhere to tell you about a new venture in publishing that is of benefit to both writers and readers:, an authors-owned site that offers books in e-book format at relative low prices.

AWW was recently launched by a group of multi-published authors, yours truly included, who were aware of the many changes in the publishing business and wanted to hack out a trail through the jungle to have a more direct and flexible way to deliver their work to their readers. The new technology made this possible, if not an easy safari. Getting the site off the ground was quite an adventure and the leader of our launching tribe, Patricia McLinn deserves laud and praise for all her efforts.

And how does this work, you ask? Well, here are the basics:
The AWW site itself is designed to be self-sustaining, not to make profit like commercial e-publishers. After expenses for the website and costs associated with selling, income from sales goes to the author. This is good for the author, obviously. It’s good for the reader because we can now keep prices lower than the ones on the sites of commercial e-book publishers. To keep the quality of the books high, participation in the site is by invitation only, and only commercially published authors are considered for participation. All authors retain the rights to their work. All works are protected by copyright laws.

What you’ll find on are books in various genres and categories – romance, suspense, women’s fiction, short-story anthologies, non-fiction and more. You’ll find newly released back-lists, as well as original fiction and non-fiction.

AWW is a work in progress. More authors have expressed their interest and the site will grow and more books will be offered as time goes on. For more information visit

Thank you so much, Karen.

 Not only is Karen one of the founders of A Writers Work, she has two of her own books on the site: The Price of A Man, a lighthearted romance novel, and You’re Moving WHERE?! , non-fiction tales of the author’s (mis)adventures living abroad. Both are AWW original publications.

I know some authors have gone with a service to get their e-books out and some have done the process by themselves. Creating e-books is very daunting to me. I would need someone to hold my hand and walk me through it.

What about you? Leave a comment, especially if you’ve gone through publishing your own e-books. And feel free to ask Karen a question about A Writers Work.
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  1. Very interesting! Sounds like an easier, supportive way to get e-books created. Thanks for the information. :)

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  2. It will be interesting to see how this develops. Obviously from an author standpoint, it's not viable for most of us because the author owners are being selective in who they allow to participate. I would guess fans of those authors are probably going to be the main customers—from a reader perspective, it seems to me that most of us prefer to shop at sites where we have a wide selection of e-books. That's why I always advise my clients to make their e-books available through as many outlets as possible. E-book readers aren't likely to find them on their author Web site or on a small e-book site unless the readers are already fans. I'm also interested that they are only offering PDF and ePub formats. Those two formats can be converted to formats for just about any device, but I wonder how many readers are going to want to do the conversions themselves (though it's easy to do with Calibre). Keep us posted on this endeavor.

    One reason I am especially interested is that years ago, a couple other authors and I seriously considered opening an e-book store online. At the time, there really wasn't anywhere you could buy a variety of e-books. Most were sold on the publishers' or authors' Web sites. We did a lot of research and made significant progress. But before we opened, Fictionwise came online, and we knew we didn't have the resources to compete with them. Besides, the main reason we wanted to create the store was to bring authors and e-book readers (the people, not the devices) together. Fictionwise could do that better than we could, so our efforts weren't needed. So I know how much work is involved in an endeavor like this and appreciate what these authors are doing.

    Lillie Ammann
    A Writer's Words, An Editor's Eye

  3. Interesting idea. Hopefully it's not too late to the party, though. Since these are all established, big-name authors, I imagine their books are already available through all other eBook outlets, and that's probably where most people will buy. Even my books are available through Kindle, B&N, Sony, my publisher, and soon Apple's iBookstore.

  4. EBook stores are appearing everywhere now.

  5. Another avenue for book availability, which is one of the benefits of the everchanging technology going on. Books are now available in more ways than we'd ever imagined.

  6. Hi Karen - as a fellow AWW author, I'm thrilled with the new website and the opportunity to make my stories available to readers. It's been a pleasure working with you and I'm looking forward to a long, enjoyable venture:-)

    Hugs, Becky

  7. There are now a lot of ways to get your book in e-format, some costly, others not so much. This one seems interesting to me because it's authors banding together.

  8. Karen van der Zee here: Yes, e-books are available from many sources and we will have a challenge carving out our niche. We hope to do this by offering books at much lower prices.

  9. Wishing you all the best in your new adventure, Karen. I think any time authors get together and do something to benefit themselves and other authors, it is a good thing. The self-publishing company I used started that way and they were great. When I'm ready to consider making my memoir an e-book, I'll definitely be in touch.

  10. Lillie hits on a number of valuable insights. As authors, we're not publishers, so we're learning about e-books as we go. AWW has only been up for a couple of months, and we haven't even begun to post the wealth of material our authors have available. We need to learn to promote, and we need to find a way to expand to take in many, many more authors.

    Technical things like e-book formatting may be market driven. Right now, most of the big selling e-readers use ePub and PDF, so we're working with the biggest formats available to us. We're learning right along with our readers.

    And no, most of the books, maybe even all the books on AWW cannot be found elsewhere. We may make deals with Fictionwise, et al, in the future. But we won't be paying some publisher for the privilege of doing it for us.

    It's an experiment, sort of like the storekeepers who set up shop around the mines during the Gold Rush. We'll see what happens!

  11. It sounds like an interesting venture - good luck. I guess I’m fortunate that my publisher already offers my book in an eBook format and on Kindle.

  12. Mmm, what's the point of difference here? I think ebooks are great, instant, cheaper and portable. I used to have more sales in ebook format but now more in paperback.

    Really Angelic

  13. It's interesting and a sign of the times to see so many of you available in e-format. It seems like it was only recently that e-books moved on-scene.

  14. An interesting concept, and encouraging to see some authors become masters of their own work, so to speak.

  15. Karen van der Zee here: Thanks for all your comments! And I appreciate my fellow AWWer Patricia Rice for her help.

    I like what she said about our venture:

    "It's an experiment, sort of like the storekeepers who set up shop around the mines during the Gold Rush. We'll see what happens!"

  16. Karen van der Zee here: Enid Wilson asked what the point of difference is.

    Here's the main one: The AWW site/publisher itself is not a commercial money making entity, which makes it possible to offer books at lower prices which is good for the readers. And for the author it means more income than what commercial sites such as Amazon and Fictionwise offer to the authors using their sites.

  17. It does sound interesting. Thanks for writing about it, Helen. I definitely think eBooks are going to be the way forward but the marketplace is a bit of a mess right now as publishers etc try to figure out the best sales model. Will be interesting to see how it all comes out in the end!

  18. Ginger Chambers4/01/2010 2:12 PM

    I'm another AWW author who is very happy with this opportunity. These are exciting times in the new world of electronic publishing. Everyone is feeling their way and so are we at AWW.

    I've had the rights back to eight of my early (1980's) books for a number of years but had no way I was comfortable with to republish them. Banding together with fellow authors to reach readers directly is a wonderful idea. The author is in charge, not anyone else.

    Right now we're taking our first baby steps, but we'll learn and we'll grow--both in authors and, hopefully, readers.

    Hi Karen! Great blog post. And Hi, Hel -- from one Ginger to another!

  19. Hi backatcha, Ginger.

    I like the idea that the publisher/site is not out to make money, so the author makes more, even with keeping the price of the ebooks low.

  20. "eBooks are going to be the way forward but the marketplace is a bit of a mess right now"

    That's the truth, Talli! With opportunities amid the mess.

    Responding to a few other points/questions:

    What's different about

    --We're all proven, professional authors.

    --Because we're bringing our work directly to readers, readers get a better price AND authors get a better slice than with a middleman(or several middlemen) involved. Good for readers, good for authors -- that's a win-win to love.

    To Lillie's question about the formats:

    ePub and PDF were selected because they are widely used and easily converted, as Lillie noted. ePub is open source and appears to be the front-runner toward a standard format. We limited to 2 because of costs involved with converting for all 10 (some say 12) "common" formats. We want to keep those costs low for readers!

    If we receive requests focusing on a specific 3rd format, we'd certainly consider that. So far, we've received no such requests.

    As we say on the site "we're learning, growing, actively exploring."

    Thanks to Hel for inviting Karen to talk about

    Pat McL

  21. I will totally be keeping track of this. The published author qualification to a certain extent acts as quality filter, which to me has been one of the main issues surrounding the whole DIY aspect of ePubs. I think in general the more diversity in terms of sales outlets, the better -- what we don't want is a future where you have an 800 pound gorilla like Amazon controlling the market. That would not be good for authors.

  22. Thanks Pat for stopping by and answering questions.

    I'm with you, Other Lisa, this is a venture worth tracking.

  23. Sounds a neat idea. Nice to see a positive step forward.

  24. Seems to be a smart idea for those authors that own the electronic rights or have had them revert back to them after a matter of years.

    I know there have been books I loved and wanted to replace but they were out of print. I think this helps both reader and author with those sort of books.

    I've done promotion for many years and boy do I realize what you mean with *feeling your way*.

    I wish you success in this venture, Karen and group. :-)

  25. Wow! Very interesting post! I love reading about authors who've "made it"... it keeps my hopes up that one day I'll be there too!

  26. Karen van der Zee here:

    Thanks all of you for your comments. Please check back some time and see how we are doing! Here's the address one more time:

    Wishing all of you writers out there much success!

  27. I think that's a great idea. Is the site open to other authors?

    If I can figure out how to make Calibre work, I will buy some for my Kindle.


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