Jim Brown is the current secretary of EPIC (Electronically Published Internet Connection) and he, along with Zetta Brown, own a business that caters to services for authors and publishers alike. Wait until you see all the things these folks can do for you, regardless of your position in the publishing world!
Tell us what prompted you to found your services business, Jim & Zetta.
Working from home provides a person with a degree of flexibility. It also allows you to "view" your industry as and when you want to. Quite simply, over the last two years we’ve seen the rumblings of the eruption that is now taking place with ebooks becoming mainstream. We knew that publishers, and authors with rights, would start wanting their books converted to ebooks. So why not offer other services, like editing and typesetting, to enhance their work?
Tell us about the services you provide to authors.
Zetta handles the editing side of the business, and we offer various editing packages from simple proofreading to line and developmental editing. We supply layout, typesetting, cover design, ad banner design, and ebook conversion services to self-published authors. We also supply technical support services to self-published authors who want to concentrate on their writing. Dealing with distributors, ebook vendors, uploading files, handling orders from bookstores etc., are all tasks that self-published authors would rather not do. We can take some, or all, of those tasks off the hands of the authors, leaving them free to write. This is particularly useful for prolific writers.
Tell us about the services you provide to publishers.
Unless a publisher has in-house staff to handle ebook conversion, text formatting, layout, and typesetting tasks, they can be faced with having to handle these very time-consuming tasks on their own or delegating them to staff who have other duties. That's where we come in, and that's where we've built our business. Currently we have a stable of 10 publishers whose work we do. We are also the Official Conversion Partner for publishers who sell their books on All Romance eBooks (http://www.allromanceebooks.com), having been granted that status by ARe in September 2009. So for any publishers out there who list their titles on ARe, you have some very favorable rates thanks to Lori James and Barb Perfetti.
Share your thoughts about the future of eBooks and ePublishing.
As a member (and current secretary) of EPIC - the Electronically Published Internet Connection (http://www.epicauthors.com) I've been banging on for the past year about ePublishing and ebooks being on the verge of going global and mainstream. Well, it's started. Ebook Reader devices have been around for a few years now (think about the Sonys and the Kindles), but pre-Christmas saw the release of a few more, and the current CES event in Las Vegas is showcasing several more devices. Ebooks are the "next big thing" after the mobile phone. We'll soon all be carrying a little device that can hold up to 1000 books for reading as and when we can. Not only that, the new readers have wireless and WiFi built-in, and they'll soon have color capabilities. In a couple of years time you'll see "tablet" style devices that will have netbook PC functionality, plus reading, and multi-media capabilities too. Newspapers and magazines will be automatically downloaded to your devices daily, as well as emails. The future is bright!
What should an author do with his/her work BEFORE sending it to you to be edited?
We always have one answer and one answer only to this question: SELF-EDIT. Before you think, "Why should I edit it myself if you are going to do it," you have to understand that self-editing and copy-editing services provided by another person are two entirely different things. An editor is not there to teach you how to write. If you want to get your work published, you have to demonstrate that you have the ability to tell a good story and can do it with an amount of skill.
Invest in some good writer’s manuals and a good dictionary. We recommend (and use) The Chicago Manual of Style (15th ed.), The Oxford Style Manual, and The Gregg Reference Manual Tenth Edition. Not only will this help you, it will save you money because the more “passes” an editor has to do with your manuscript, the bigger the bill.
Editing your own work is probably the most important part of the job of writing. If you are serious about your writing and want other people to appreciate it, you will take the time to present your work in the best possible manner. If you are not confident enough in your skills and still want to publish, you will be wise to hire someone with that knowledge to help you present your work in its best light. However, no amount of editing, self or otherwise, will make up for you, as an author, taking time to learn your craft and learning how to write.
What is the biggest challenge you face in working with authors?
Asking an author to change something—LOL! No, seriously, the authors we work with are excellent to interact with so we don't really have too many challenges with them. Part of being good with people involves listening as well as talking. Even when we have firm views on something with regard to an author's book, the key is to be constructive and ask the author to be constructive in return, this makes communication much easier. Let's face it, open communication with the people you are in business with is vital to success.
Writers, especially new writers, are always looking for tips and helpful information. What is the single most important “tip” you can give to a new writer?
I’d like to give three because following them is the key to success.
1) Learn your craft. The craft of writing is easier for some people to grasp than it is for others, but that doesn’t mean it cannot be learned.
2) READ THE SUBMISSION GUIDELINES. Sorry for shouting, but some of you out there are not listening. Everything you need to get started is there, and if you still have a question—ask. The quickest way to get ignored or rejected by a publisher is to demonstrate that you have not read the guidelines and you have no idea what the publisher is about. If you’re really interested in a publisher, buy one or two of their books! Nothing impresses an editor or publisher more than to receive a query or submission from someone who has read—and enjoyed—one of the books they published.
Logical-Lust recently got a submission query where the person asked: “OK define ‘erotic’?” This person has no business submitting work to a publisher of erotica if they require such a definition. This person further demonstrated that they have not looked at the website, and when they did, they still could not figure out what we do. If I hear from this person again, or they try to submit, I sincerely doubt that they will be accepted.
3) Take off the rose-tinted glasses. If you think that all you have to do is write your story, get it published, and then sit back and wait for the royalty checks—you will be disappointed. Getting your work published is just the starting point. After that, the marketing and promoting really takes off, and this requires work and commitment from the author. Publishing is a business, not a hobby. Professional authors, especially those who earn a living from their writing, treat it as a business, not a hobby. Even if you don’t aim to write full time, if you want to be successful, take your writing seriously.
What else do you and Zetta do?
Zetta writes and is a published author. I write too, but don't spend enough time doing it, sadly. Together we also run a small press, LL-Publications (and an imprint Logical-Lust). We like to look for original, creative works - that something that's different from the normal. We already have one award-winning book - Pit Stop by Ben Larken - plus two finalists in March's EPIC Ebook Awards, so we think we're doing pretty good. Another book - The Great Right Hope by Mark Jackman - has over 20 five-star reader reviews on Amazon. We're very proud of our books and our authors.
Are you a member of any writer’s organizations? Why? Why not?
As stated above, I'm currently Secretary of EPIC, having been a member and moderator for a few years now. EPIC is at the forefront of e-publishing, and I'd encourage anyone who has an interest in e-publishing, vested or not, to consider joining EPIC. Zetta is a member of AuthorIsland.com, which is a wonderful resource for authors to promote to readers. We're also members of many groups and loops because of the publishing and services we provide, but EPIC is the only registered writers’ organization we are a part of. I wouldn't put anyone off joining several authors’ groups/organizations, just be careful not to spread yourself too thin. A lot of groups and loops end up as a bunch of authors marketing to each other with no readers in sight. Reaching readers needs to be a key.
What are the addresses of your website(s) and blog(s):
JimAndZetta - http://www.jimandzetta.com/
Logical-Lust – http://www.logical-lust.com/
Logical-Lust Official Blog – http://logicallust.wordpress.com/
The Full-Bodied (Book) Blog – http://fullbodiedbooks.blogspot.com/. (This is Zetta’s blog where she reviews books and talks about other things featuring “characters of substance.” She is currently looking for more books to review and authors to interview.)
In addition we have a brand new newsletter - one that appeals to readers, writers, and anyone in the industry. To learn more go to http://www.ll-publications.com/newsletter.html. To subscribe, email subscribe(at)ll-publications.com.
(The above photo is the cover for last year's EPPIE award-winner from last year, PIT-STOP. You can find it at: http://www.ll-publications.com/pitstop.html)