Someday Productions LLC and Pillow Talking are proud to present this guest blog from author & ePublishing pioneer Ray Hoy.
Ray Hoy is the owner/publisher of the The Fiction Works, one of the five original ePublishing houses on the Internet, dating back some 20 years. In addition, his digital development company, Misty Mountain Productions, has developed exceedingly strong alliances since its inception two years ago. These include an agreement with movie miniature special effects legend, Brick Price, to develop creative content for their California-based WonderWorks, Inc., a full-service design and production company serving the film, theme park and museum industries. WonderWorks’ client list includes NASA, Spielberg, Lucas, Disney, Universal, G.M., Ford, Chrysler, Rockwell, and the Smithsonian Museum.
The following is Ray’s enthusiastic take on the current climate of the publishing industry and of its future:
The lead-in paragraph on my Misty Mountain Productions site pretty much sums up the way I feel about life, both where I’ve been and where I’m going. I quote: “Misty Mountain Productions is based in Alaska, a wild and beautiful state that is larger than most countries and called ‘The Last Frontier’ for good reason. There are more moose than people here, and the wolves and grizzlies roam at will. The Aurora Borealis is directly overhead, and you can actually breathe air you can’t see. Life is good and getting better.”
I’ve led somewhat of a charmed life, and I’ve been lucky enough to have spent most of my time doing whatever I damn well pleased. I wrote the high school play when I was in fifth grade, and looking back, I’m quite sure that’s when I was bitten by the media bug. I worked as a freelance writer and photographer for years and managed to earn enough money to buy homes and cars, put my kids through college, and marry them off. And then I started my own publishing company and independent digital development company. Who could ask for more?
Now, in my late seventies (and disregarding the unbelievable number of interesting jobs I’ve had over the years) I still find myself trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. I know that at my age I’m lucky to feel like a guy in his thirties (and my wife says, “Act like a kid in his teens”), and luckier still because of how healthy I am — this despite my stint as an “Atomic Soldier” at the atmospheric atomic bomb tests at Camp Desert Rock, Nevada in the fifties. I explain my health away by telling everyone that I simply got my chemo early, so I wouldn’t have to mess with it in the late stages of my life.
I still love the media circus — all of it: film, video, writing, acting, producing, etc. Those industries are populated by truly colorful characters (and of course I met more than my share of them during my twenty-year stint in the casino business). I have no sane friends, and I’d like to keep it that way.
Well, the new year is here, so what’s in store for indie authors? I think it’s going to be a bumpy ride but a potentially lucrative one if you pay attention to what is trending in the industry. While I have been a publisher for 20 years, I have been a freelance writer for more than five decades, so if you are a writer, I’m on your side, my friend.
There never has been a better time to be a freelancer. The “Bad Old Days” of submitting endless queries to monolithic publishing houses (and waiting eons for a reply) are long gone. Today you don’t need a publisher. Today you can be in control of your own destiny as a writer more than any time in history, and not just with eBooks, but with paperbacks as well. You can format and publish your title in eBook and/or paperback format without spending a dime, assuming you will take the time to learn a bit about formatting. If you don’t have time (or patience), you can find a large number of affordable editing, formatting and cover art services on the Internet.
As an indie author, you also can get your book to market far faster than any publishing house, and you can price it however you choose. Once you’ve proofed and formatted your book, a few clicks is all it takes to upload it to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, KOBO, or any number of similar distributors. Furthermore, you’ll enjoy 60-70% royalties and most of them pay monthly. Take it from an old freelancer, it doesn’t get any better than that!
Sadly, there are thousands of poorly written eBooks being released every week, books that have not been edited, are miserably formatted, and then decked out with pitiful cover art; and those thousands of bad titles are clamoring for the reader’s attention, right along with the really good books. Essentially it takes the same amount of time to write a good novel as a bad one. Write to the best of your ability, have your book properly edited, ensure that it is perfectly formatted, then cap it off with attractive cover art. Do those four little things and you’re way ahead of the game.
Indie authors are a force in the publishing field. They’re getting more sophisticated at the game, too. The Internet is a treasure trove of useful information about promoting and marketing your book. Search and read as much as you can. You won’t be sorry.
When eBooks first made their appearance, many of us in the industry recognized their potential. Many (including me) thought eBooks would be the demise of paperbacks. That hasn’t happened, and I don’t think it ever will (in fact I hope it never will). At the moment paperbacks make up about 70% of the book market. While eBooks rapidly gained market share over the past few years, that has leveled off. At the moment, indie eBook authors possess around 20% of the eBook market, with popular indie titles ranging from $2.99 to $3.99, while eBook titles published by the major publishing houses are generally priced at $10 and above, mainly because they carry the names of famous authors.
What about the flood of “free” and “99-cent” eBooks? You’ll get some fierce arguments from authors who hate them (the ones trying to make a living writing professionally) and the ones who love them (simply because they want to get their books “out there” for friends and family to read). I suppose it’s only human nature, when there are thousands of free and 99-cent books from which to choose, to consider anything above 99 cents as being overpriced, and I addressed that with a tweet one day — a tweet that has been re-tweeted thousands of times. It went something like this:
“Why is it that a person will spend $4 on a Starbucks that takes five minutes to make and 10 minutes to drink, but think $2.99 is too much for a novel that took a year to write?”
Think about it.
Anyway, 2016 is here so let’s attack this new year with enthusiasm. I feel blessed to be part of Wayne and Stephanie’s ambitious plans. They are a lovely, sensitive and talented couple. I hope your 2016 will be spectacular; I know mine will be.
From Alaska, I wish you peace, happiness and success.
— Ray Hoy
More about Ray:
Ray Hoy has been a professional writer, editor, publisher, and producer for over five decades. Somewhere in his long media career he managed to spend nearly 20 years as a casino marketing consultant for some of Nevada’s top gaming properties. He opened two Indian Gaming establishments for Wayne Newton Gaming, and several Nevada-style Mississippi-based casino boats: The Lady Luck, a dockside gambling riverboat in Natchez, and The Pride of Mississippi, an ocean-going gambling cruise ship out of Gulfport. In addition he handled the marketing for numerous land-based Nevada casino properties: the Ormsby House Hotel & Casino in Carson City; the Lady Luck Casino in Las Vegas; and the Lakeside Inn & Casino and Caesars Tahoe, both located on Lake Tahoe’s famous South Shore.
Today Ray devotes full time to his Alaska-based businesses (The Fiction Works and Misty Mountain Productions) and to his writing. He is the author of the acclaimed Jack Frost Thriller Series, recently optioned by Someday Productions LLC. His real-life experience in the “casino wars” provide him with a wealth of authentic material for his Jack Frost series. He also is the author of Letters from Under the Mushroom Cloud, a true and poignant record of his time spent in the military as one of the so-called “Atomic Soldiers” who witnessed the above-ground nuclear detonations at the infamous Nevada test site in 1957. Unlike thousands of his fellow soldiers, Ray has lived to tell about it and, luckily, still has his health.