Sponsor Slider

Members of Texas Authors, Inc., are welcome to post on our blog for other fellow members, or for the general public.

Each blog post will be approved by the website administrator and must not contain promotion of ones book. This is meant as an educational posting program.

Post Here

Over the past few months, I have been labeled by some, as being an “Ass” or being too ‘harsh” in the newsletters that go out to the membership. While some of you can say that is the case, you need to know I am coming from a place of love and support, even when it appears harsh. It’s called Tough Love.

We are all grown-ups and, in most cases, have raised families. I am sure, at some point in time, you have had to use Tough Love to get your child or loved one in line and off a road that could damage them.

It is no different for me in how I am approaching you now. I see you as a member of my family and not a bag full of money waiting for me to reach in and take from you. When I have to pass on to the membership increase, the cost of events and programs, I do so with high anxiety, for I know most of you cannot afford the extra expense. But, at the same time, I have no means to foot the bill for all the programs and opportunities I have created that are designed to help YOU!

It is when I see family members sitting on their behinds and expect to be handed things without working for them, that I get frustrated and discouraged. After eight years of this, it’s time for some Tough Love. Therefore, that is why you are seeing my emails becoming a bit more forceful and direct. Consider them as a strong verbal wake-up call.

You joined this organization to become better at marketing and selling your books. To have access to more effective ways to get the word out that you exist and that your books are worthy of being read. That’s great and are the right reasons to join.

My job is to find new and innovative ways that are most effective for you to do that. And, I work hard every day to continually discover new and better means to help you succeed.

However, if you don’t use the services and programs, you will never find out what works and doesn’t work. You have to get off your ass, stop waiting on someone to do it for you, and get to work! Writing the book was the easy part, now it’s time to market it!

If you want to sit back and just write, that’s great! You need to plan on hiring people who will charge you thousands of dollars and let them rip you off while you get nothing in exchange for your money. But, when you do that, you give up all rights to bitch and complain because they didn’t do anything to benefit you or further your writing career.

There have been members who have joined our organization and expected us to sell their books and make them rich (no matter how many times I tell them we are here to help, NOT do the work for them. We simply provide effective tools for them to use). They seem to ignore that, and when they don’t sell hundreds of books or get rich quick, they complain that we are the problem and that we ripped them off.

I created all the various organizations, events, and programs to help YOU! I am not in it to get rich. If I was, the membership dues would be outrageous, and I would limit the number of people I help to a small number.

No other organization in the WORLD does what we do! I have been saying that for years. I continue to stay at the forefront of technology, programs, and other newsworthy items to give you the tools to stay one step ahead of the hundreds of thousands of other authors in the world.

There are over 9,000 published Texas authors, and it is my goal to help as many of them as I can. The reason for this goal is very simple. It builds a stronger family that supports each other. It creates opportunities that otherwise may not exist. However, we cannot continue to do all that we do if we are forced to raise prices or cut back on services due to limited funds. We MUST have more members working with us to help the family as a whole.

Most of you have been members for years and have grown extensively through the various programs and events. Share with your fellow authors in Texas and beyond the state line about what we do and what we have created.

As a family, we are stronger. As individuals, we have to work harder to achieve more. The choice is yours - Help us become a stronger family that includes some Tough Love at times or be the selfish individual who seeks their own personal glory!

Below are a couple of definitions of what Tough Love is:

Webster Definition of Tough Love: love or affectionate concern expressed in a stern or unsentimental manner (as through discipline) especially, to promote responsible behavior

Urban Definition of Tough Love: Another version of "being cruel to be kind." To show somebody some tough love today will save them heartache in the future but may cause a small amount of upset for the receiver immediately after the "Tough Love" has been dispensed. They would suffer more if you let them get on with their life with no interference from third parties.

 

Below are responses from fellow authors to the above article:

As a fellow author AND publisher, I have worked so hard to lead new authors in the right direction for marketing their book. It is not easy to get them out of the mindset of “my book is published, lets watch the money roll in”. So often they sell to friends, family and acquaintances and then wonder why no one else is buying. They can’t fathom why they aren’t being found on Amazon and end up giving up after about 6 months to a year. I spend so much time educating them on the marketing possibilities, and trying to push them to sign up with TAA BEFORE their book comes out. The ones who are willing to learn, eager to market and really WANT it, they have the staying power. The ones who don’t – well, let’s say, I know who I won’t see publish book number 2. Kathleen J. Shields -  

 

Alan:
Before I get into my response to your comments about Texas Authors and tough love, Thank You!

To my surprise, the engineering culture in which I have spent 40+ years tends to be somewhat subdued when compared to the unfettered emotions of the literary world. I should have realized this long ago, but personal experience is a great teacher. With that said, the people I have met through Texas Authors have been remarkable and a source of tremendous encouragement. If for no other reason, that by itself more than covers the membership fee. Even at the old rate, I could skip dinner and a movie with the kids just one time a year and make up for it.

In my opinion, the resources and opportunities offered by Texas Authors are a bargain at almost any price. I now have access to more information than I could ever fully utilize. I didn't join the organization, or write a book for that matter, to strike it rich. I did it to make a difference, and Texas Authors has enabled that. Through this organization, I have achieved (quite literally) a fifty-year dream: write a novel that changes lives and then make it available to the largest audience possible. But could I have imagined that the work of a first-time author would win an award for best book in a state-wide contest? Not a chance without a group like Texas Authors.

Alan, do not assume that your efforts aren't noticed or appreciated (or even understood). Regardless of what the future holds, you have already ensured a life-altering change for at least one author.

Thank you,
JMA Ziegler (and Yes, winner 2019 Best Book Award in Women's General)

 

Dear Alan,
I wholeheartedly agree with your Tough Love policy for TAA. I appreciate all that you do for us and know that there is much going on behind the scenes about which we authors are not aware. I thank you for being our fearless leader and helping us to succeed with our book sales and promotions. Texas is lucky to have you!
Sincerely,Suzanne Gene Courtney

 

From the heart of a Texas Authors member:

I joined Texas Authors a few years ago. I sought the organization out because I had met an author who was a member and was happy with what the organization provided.

To this day, I’m very happy I became a member. It is because I am a member of this organization that many opportunities have been opened for me. I never once was led to believe Texas Authors would do everything for me. I went in KNOWING I had to do some work in order to move myself forward. Texas Authors never was and never has been a “handout” organization and it baffles me that anyone would join believing that. There is not a single word written anywhere that implies Texas Authors will do all the work for you and will make you a best-selling author.

What Texas Authors DOES and has ALWAYS said is basically the following…Texas Authors was created to HELP Texas Indie Authors have opportunities to sell their books at events created by Texas Authors and other groups. To clarify, this means Texas Authors puts the book event together for us. Once we sign up for the event, everything else falls to us. It is OUR job as THE AUTHOR in attendance to sell OUR books, not Texas Authors.

While I understand some events are a bit pricy and hard to attend due to distance and possible hotel expense, Texas Authors can only help us so far. Events go up in price because everything else goes up in price. Texas Authors understands this and that is why they offer the Book Festival Package to help with the cost of the table for these events. This package allows you to sign up for multiple events for the following year at one time for a discounted rate. So, my question here would be…why aren’t you taking advantage of that????

Now, I’m going to get a tad more personal. I would say please forgive me, but Alan is right it is time for Tough Love. So here goes mine…

Because of the success I have personally obtained by being a member of Texas Authors, I get highly irritated when I am at an event and authors start to break down early because they aren’t getting any sales or they’ve only had one sale…um…excuse me but…DON’T DO THAT!!! When authors start breaking down early it creates a domino effect and makes the event look sad and not worth walking into for the rest of the day.

And before you go blaming Alan for YOUR lack of book sales at the event. HE CAN’T MAKE PEOPLE BUY YOUR BOOKS and guess what NEITHER CAN YOU!!!!

You have to accept that not every event is going to be successful. If you are unable do that, then don’t sign up.

I don’t know what the magic solution is for all of us to be successful in selling our books. What I do know is this…Alan has done everything possible he knows how to do and then some. Alan has given up more than most of you know to see this organization continue to live and grow and thrive. He’s so good at what he comes up with, maybe we tend to put too much on his shoulders to get things done. So often, we gripe and gripe and gripe, but we don’t do anything ourselves to fix it.

K

 

My experience with Texas Authors has been nothing but positive.

Compared to the many other websites, agencies, or author services that offer to help promote and market Indie Authors, I have found that Texas Authors gives more bang per buck than any others, by far.

My experience with others has been that they always have their hand out -- wanting a large initial fee before they do anything.

By contrast, for my minimal yearly fee to Texas Authors I have: done two 30-minute radio interviews, my books in the e-store, my books in the Museum, gotten notifications of upcoming sales opportunities, won awards, gotten great press releases, had numerous networking opportunities.

Furthermore, my response time whenever I have a question or issue with Texas Authors is minimal to nil. With others, I have waited a long time for a response, or sometimes never gotten a response.

I feel that Texas Authors has MY best interests in mind -- that is something I can not say about other author services or marketing platforms.

I wish Texas Authors the best of success in growing our Author base, and its readership.

-- Sincerely,

Mike Hawron,

Multiple award-winning Author and satisfied Texas Authors member. Multiple award-winning Author and satisfied Texas Authors member.

The 2019 Sheikh Zayed Book Award winner in Children’s Literature Hussain Al Mutawaa counsels the publishing industry to promote issue-based children’s books.

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief

Toward ‘Gentle Resistance’ in Children’s Literature

In the closing event of this year’s Sheikh Zayed Book Award program, the 2019 winners gathered on Thursday evening (April 25 on the main stage of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair).

Moderated by critic, researcher, and translator Khalil Al Sheikh and the prize’s secretary general, Ali Bin Tamim, the session followed the formal prize ceremony at Louvre Abu Dhabi on Thursday (April 24) and introduced the evening’s audience to this year’s group of winning writers, researchers, and language specialists in this program that awards a total of some US$1.9 million annually in prize money.

The program, created in 2006 and administered by Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism, commemorates “the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, founding president of the UAE and ruler of Abu Dhabi, and his pioneering role in promoting national unity and development.”

A Kuwaiti Poet Turns to Children’s Books

As Publishing Perspectives readers know, the children’s literature category is one for which the Zayed program offers translation funding to publishers, to help promote the program’s goal of widening Arabic literature’s reach.

And the winner this year of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award’s prize in children’s literature is the Kuwaiti writer and photographer Husain Al Mutawaa.

Mutawaa’s bachelor’s degree in literature and criticism is from the College of Arabic Language at the University of Kuwait. And while he began work in literature as a poet in 2009, he turned to stories in 2015 and then to novels.

His first book, Turab, was published in late 2017.  And the children’s book for which he’s been honored with the Zayed Award is Ahlam An Akoun Khalat Asmant (I Dream of Being a Concrete Mixer), published in 2018 by Al Hadaek Group.

In the book, Al Mutawaa carefully explores parent-child relationships, the issue of family expectations, and factors that go into making a young person into a self-directed responsible personality. This, as readers learn, may involve the dichotomy of what in life is destructive, what is constructive, and when one may be preferable to the other.

In Praise of ‘100 Different Monsters’

Publishing Perspectives had a chance to speak with Al Mutawaa after the session in Abu Dhabi and—with the expert assistance of one of the book fair’s simultaneous interpreters, Tariq Chelmeran—we were able to ask him how he sees the generally accepted problem of a waning interest in reading among children.

First of all, Mutawaa says, the problem of a weakening “habit of reading” in many parts of the world, the Middle East included, “‘is an extension of a problem with many of our adult readers.”

In too much work for adults, he says, “They enjoy reading, but we remove the knowledge aspect of reading,” in favor of entertainment. “And this transfers to the children.”

It’s one reason, he says, that the approach of gamey, playful fun experiences at public-facing book-fair events may not, actually lead children to want to read, but instead to look for other diversions.

A child’s choice, he says, in exercising what she or he wants to read, becomes all the more important when marketing approaches are seen to be “introducing toys into this sector by force”—by the populist peer-pressure of much of modern advertising, for example—can remove the elements of exploration and discovery, let alone imagination.

Al Mutawaa, in looking at children’s books themselves, he says, sees that “The more you add pictures, the more you lessen the impact of text.

“If 100 people are asked to read the word beast or monster,” he says, “the result should be 100 different monsters.” A literature that truly lives in its words should trigger in each imagination something different and personal.

But today, he says, there’s such a major overhang of visual content that each child sees the same monster, “the ‘typical’ monster,” so the imaginations of young minds are never set free to devise beasts of their own making, with personally impactful elements of meaning.

“Our ability to imagine weakens,” he says.

And the key—while it’s hard so far to see the best mechanism for us to use amid so much new and expertly made visual entertainment—is to “Think of a wave. And now think of standing up on it,” surfing. “This is what we’re doing. We’re riding the waves” of popular culture at this period in publishing’s development.

The remedy is? “To face the wave,” he says to take a stand, to resist the impulse to join in on visual and lightweight fun and to write content “that’s very close to the world children know, something that speaks to their reality” rather than simply offering “fun” and light-hearted distraction as so many entertainments do. “We have to find a way around this problem. Children read my material because they find details of their own lives here.” There’s a difference here, Mutawaa says, from his writerly point of view, between communication and entertainment. And the far more important thing to do is to communicate values. He talks of how he’s being told by young readers that they’re inspired when reading his work, prompted by it to read others.

“This isn’t me thanking myself,” he says, “but it’s about a kind of realism, our daily issues, from real lif

And one of his favorite responses from his readership so far, Al Mutawaa says, came from a 6-year-old girl who read I Dream of Being a Concrete Mixer and asked her mother, ‘Why are you trying to force me to be a doctor.'” The girl had found a sense of independence in considering what she might like to do.

And Hussain Al Mutawaa is ready with a phrase to help his colleagues in publishing think of new ways to approach literature, particularly for youngsters in an era of powerful, distracting, imagination-weakening imagery and bombardment: “gentle resistance.”

Resist the temptation to ride the waves of entertainment, he says. Think of resisting, with gentle, supportive treatment of real-world issues and information.

“Start with literature,” he says. “And create ‘gentle resistance’ to what’s all around the popular industry today.

 

By Porter Anderson for Perspective Publishing April 11, 2019

The Audio Publishers Association, Bookrepublic, and Bologna Children’s Book Fair have begun surveying various audiobook markets to give us a global overview of this growing format.

Availability of Audio is the ‘Game-Changer’

Amid so many programs and events last week at the 56th Bologna Children’s Book Fair in Italy, a new first-time effort at sizing up the international audiobook marketplace was introduced during a session called “Listen Up.”

The report is titled with appropriate caution “Global Audiobooks Data: Steps Toward Understanding the Size of the Market.” It’s the collaborative effort of the Audio Publishers Association (APA) and Bookrepublic with Bologna Book Fair. It was introduced during the fair by APA’s executive director Michele Cobb and by Marco Ferrario of Bookrepublic. Ferrario works with Storytel’s Italian operation as well as running Bookrepublic. The new work that Cobb has begun on understanding the international audiobook market will be of interest in Frankfurter Buchmesse’s (October 16 to 20) new Frankfurt Audio marketplace for the format and content and its centerpiece Frankfurt Audio Summit. As Cobb was careful to point out during an interview with Publishing Perspectives, there are obvious pitfalls in trying to assess audio in world publishing markets today. There’s no consistency or standard in data collection from nation to nation. And in some cases, online retailers withhold sales data as proprietary information, which means the industry can’t see and count everything.

Early Looks at a World of Audiobooks

From the report, ‘Global Audiobooks Data: Steps Toward Understanding the Size of the Market’ by the Audio Publishers Association, Bookrepublic, and Bologna Children’s Book Fair. Image: APA

Needless to say, if a reliable set of statistics can be developed on a general higher-level view of audiobooks on the world scale, many publishers, authors, and markets can benefit with the predictive and comparative analysis likely to result.

But of course, in the early stages of trying to develop an international view of the format, there are unavoidable apples-and-oranges comparisons.

For example, the new report cites 54 percent of American audiobook users being under the age of 45, and 74 percent of listeners preferring their smartphones as a leading device. In China, by comparison, available data indicates that an online audiobook platform like Ximalaya had as many as 40 million users daily at the end of 2018.

In putting together a first attempt at an overall picture, Cobb and her colleagues have identified several categories of geographical consideration.

Three “macro-areas” of key importance, for example, are:

  • The United States (with an estimated 2017 consumer spend of US$2.5 billion)
  • Europe (an estimated 2017 publisher data coming to $500 million)
  • China (an estimated 2017 publisher data of $470 million)

 

From the report, ‘Global Audiobooks Data: Steps Toward Understanding the Size of the Market’ by the Audio Publishers Association, Bookrepublic, and Bologna Children’s Book Fair. Image: APA

“Key areas” of growth are identified as:

  • The United States (46,000 titles in annual production, 375,000 now available)
  • China (7,000 new audio titles annually, 25,000 available)
  • Nordic countries (5,800 titles annually, 32,000 available)
  • “Audio strongholds” are a classification comprising:
  • The UK (some 14 million units sold in a year, 18 percent of them for children)
  • Germany (about 16 million units sold in a year)
  • “Developing markets” identified include:
  • France (1500 titles annually, 4,000 available)
  • Russia (1,800 titles annually, 16,000 available)

 

From the report, ‘Global Audiobooks Data: Steps Toward Understanding the Size of the Market’ by the Audio Publishers Association, Bookrepublic, and Bologna Children’s Book Fair. Image: APA

And “emerging markets” at this point are seen in Cobb’s estimation as including:

  • Spain (roughly US$1.5 million in audiobook revenue)
  • India (some $13 million in audiobook revenue)
  • Italy (about $7 million in audiobook revenue)
  • And among the broader observations the report is able to offer:
  • The robust UK audiobook market has benefitted from an “extensive range of English-language content”
  • “In Europe, the market has a range of maturity based on location, with plenty of room for growth”
  • China is seeing “a shift toward paid content”
  • The rise in audio interfaces and smart-speaker penetration (Amazon’s Alexa, etc.) “can only increase the desire for audio products)
  • “Web platforms are the key distribution channels. In addition to aggregating the publishers’ content, they are also taking on the traditional functions of physical bookstores, such as offering advice and customer service.”

More Audiobook Trends

As Publishing Perspectives readers know, Cobb’s APA has become the leader in describing and analyzing the fast-growing audiobook sector in the biggest market for the format, the United States. The organization’s annual reports are a key gauge in understanding the new popularity of this “reborn” format. Once hobbled by the inconvenience and expense of tapes and CDs, audiobooks are the big beneficiary of downloads and streaming distribution in many parts of the world. The plethora of devices—smart phones, smart watches, smart speakers, tablets, and others—has facilitated rapid adoption even among “reading-reluctant” audience segments such as men and boys.

In her presentation, Cobb mentioned several trends to keep in mind, most tantalizing among them the idea of listeners as “story directors” who with developing technologies may be introduced to more interactive audio experiences. She also tells us that sheer availability of material may be the biggest driver of audiobook development in a market. (This is a trend discussed with us by Sebastian Bond of Kitab Sawti at last year’s Abu Dhabi International Book Fair.)

“That’s really the game-changer,” Cobb says. “More availability. There are so many titles being produced that a reader will try an audiobook,” seeing that something he or she was interested in reading, “and then they stick with it. It doesn’t mean that is all of their reading, but a healthy portion.”

With APA survey support, Cobb has been explaining for years now the attractions many audio fans cite of being able to listen while doing other things, or—among some Americans studied—stopping other activities and focusing on listening to a book as a means of relaxation. What’s more, the digital disruption of how many books re released—with “windowing” various formats all but a thing of the past—has meant, as Cobb points out, that “If someone is going to take a book for the weekend to the beach, now they have options” of being able to pick up a new release’s hardback or ebook edition, or the audiobook. “And audio really has been simultaneously released” in many instances “for more than a decade,” Cobb points out.

And one of her more interesting observations is that audiobooks for children may move much more quickly if retailers learn to create “safe” spaces for them to shop and select what they want to hear without parents having to worry that they’ll wander into adult content. “When it comes to my daughter, something like Epic is perfect,” Cobb says, referring to the online curated retail site for children 12 and younger. “It’s a site that’s primarily for ebooks,” she says, though it does have a relatively small audiobook section.

“But more places like that, all children’s content, well-curated,” she says, will change the reach of publishing’s audio for younger readers in a way that parents can approve.

At the Bologna Audiobook Event

Part of BolognaFiere’s series of “flagship conferences,” Listen Up! was an extended session featuring a large panel of specialists who included, in addition to the APA’s Cobb and Bookrepublic’s Ferrario:

  • • Ingrid Bojner, CCO, Storytel Sweden AB
  • • Amy Metsch, senior vice president, associate publisher, Penguin Random House Audio
  • Francesca Rossi, digital sales manager, Mondadori
  • Patricia Stockland, publisher, Capstone Publishers
  • Carlo Annese, podcast editor at large, Storytel Italy
  • Aura Bertoni, senior research fellow, ASK Bocconi Research Center
  • Laura Forti, senior researcher, ASK Bocconi Research Center

 

About

Texas Authors, Inc. is an organization designed to help Texas Authors learn how to better market and sell their books.

We work closely with our partners DEAR Texas, Inc., and Texas Authors Institute of History, Inc., both nonprofits that have created additional programs and events for Authors.

Texas Authors is a subsidiary of Bourgeois Media & Consulting