Posts tagged: indie publisher

The IPPY Award Winners Announced Starting April 30!

This is the Silver Nautilus Award won by my children's nonfiction book, Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could.

I just received the notice below from The Independent Publisher, the company sponsoring the 2014 IPPY (Independent Press) Awards:

Thank you for entering the 2014 Independent Publisher Book Awards! [I entered my brand-new visionary fiction/fantasy/multi-cultural mix 'em up Mogollon: A Tale of Mysticism & Mayhem]

And thanks for being part of this amazingly diverse, world-wide contest. Over 5,000 entries have come in, from all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, nine Canadian provinces, and 33 other countries around the globe.  [That's lotsa books.]

JUST ONE MORE WEEK OF JUDGING UNTIL THE RESULTS ANNOUNCEMENT! [Whoa. I had no idea the judging was ending so soon.]

We plan to begin announcing results a week from today, WEDNESDAY APRIL 30th, and finalize results by Friday, May 2nd. Results will go live the following Tuesday, May 6th, and be announced to the public and national media that day.


We plan to begin announcing results on about April 30th, to try and give you some time for arranging your schedule if you win an award. We hold the awards ceremony during BookExpo America [BEA] because so many of you already plan to be in New York at that time, but anyone who wins a medal is certainly welcome. [Have you ever been to BEA? It's the largest book exposition in the United States. HUGE! Everyone's there: the major publishers, the major celebrity authors, every sort of vendor. Indie publishers and trade organizations. People run screaming when celebs are sighted. It is a gigantic party with books. Went once. Still saving to afford it again.]

Below is the list of our judging criteria. Every book entered gets evaluated in each of these areas, and if they score well are assessed further and judged against the other top books in the category. Every year we have a handful of entrants complain that we “didn’t read the entire book,” and no, of course we don’t read every book all the way through. Our expert judges, most of whom have been evaluating books for 10-20 years, are skilled enough to critique a book fairly quickly and efficiently — and you probably can, too. All of us do a version of it every time we scan through a book at a bookstore or library when deciding if we’re going to buy it or borrow it.

IPPY AWARD GOLD MEDAL won by my book The Angel & the Brown-Eyed Boy


First Impression – Front, back and inside – would you pull it from the bookstore or library shelf?

Design – Cover design, typeface, message, front & back – does the cover make you want to look inside?

Interior layout, typeface, illustrations – is it easy to read; is it a pleasure to look at?

Originality – Is it a fresh approach?  Has it been done too much?

Use of language – Grammar, style, voice – does it flow? Does it make you want to keep reading?

Message delivery – Is the message promised by the cover being delivered, and in a compelling way?

Relevance – Is the book pertinent to our time?  Is this a message that should be heard?

What do the winners receive? All IPPY Award medalists will receive a medal, a certificate, and 20 awards seals. Those medalists not attending the New York event will receive the above items by mail, in a packet including the event program, press release, etc.  Preview IPPY Awards seals, medals and other merchandise.

IPPY AWARD SILVER MEDAL won my Numenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Money


My books have won twenty-four national awards. I’ve won gold, silver, and bronze medals in the IPPYs, which are the biggest and oldest contest for independent presses. One of my books has also been a Finalist in the Benjamin Franklin Award, sponsored by the IBPA. This award is perhaps more prestigious than the IPPY Award. And I’ve won two Silver Nautilus Awards and a bunch of winner and finalist medals in smaller contests.

Am I bragging? No. My stomach is dancing around like a bowl of Jello-O doing the marimba. Because you have won once, does not mean you will win again, even if the book you enter is better than the one that won. Sorry campers. You don’t know who else is entered in the contest or what the judges want.

A real problem for those who have won is the feeling of entitlement: “I won last year. My books are really good.” And then you start picking spots in the house where you’re going to hang your medal.

In psychological terms, this is known as “Cruisin’ for a Bruisin.” You’re setting yourself up for a good whack on the backside (or ego) if you don’t win.

Winning before doesn’t mean you won’t win. The entry process is like waiting for a baby, except that is more certain. You know you’ll get a baby, barring disaster, but you don’t know if it will be a beauty or look like a troll. With book awards, you don’t know nothin.’

I wrote some articles about winning book contests, since I’ve done it a lot. It’s not as horrible as the articles indicate. I entered two contests with two new books this year. Whereas a publicity packet used to be required, the two contests I entered didn’t want one any more. That makes the entry process WAY easier and less expensive. Here are a few of my contest related  articles:

WHAT YOU CAN WIN BY LOSING: This happened to me.

HOW TO WIN A BOOK CONTEST: It’s not this bad any more, because they don’t require press packets any more. But if you want to really know how to win a contest, here it is.

IPPY AWARD BRONZE MEDAL won by Stepping Off the Edge

Questions about the IPPY awards? Contact Jim Barnes, Awards Director
ph: 1-800-644-0133 x1011




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Publishing Bloopers: What I Did with my First Book that I Wouldn’t Now: 5.4 Selling Books in the Great Recession

Stepping Off the Edge: Learning & Living Spiritual Practice

STEPPING OFF THE EDGE: A ROADMAP FOR THE SOUL has a new 2014 edition, linked here. The discussion below refers to the production of the first edition. While easier and accomplished more economically, the second edition was no picnic, either.

by Sandy Nathan

Stepping Off the Edge was my first book. I will never produce a book like this again. See the article below for explanation.

My first book, Stepping Off the Edge: Learning & Living Spiritual Practice, is drop dead gorgeous and top of the line all the way, with exquisitely designed interior and a killer cover. It has won––to my ecstatic surprise––six national awards in major contests.

Furthermore, T. Terry Whalen, in his book, Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams, reports Bookscan sales through bookstores. (Bookscan US provides continuous measurement and analysis of book sales in and through bookstores.) According to Whalen’s reports (ibid pg 46), the average sale per ISBN in bookstores is 15 books. (Yes, you got that right.) Close to 80% of the books tracked sold less than 99 copies. More than 95 percent sold less than a thousand.

According to this data, Stepping Off the Edge has sold very well compared to titles put out by the majors or anyone else. It’s a success.

So what’s the problem? It cost way too much in time and money to produce. In this Great Recession market place, there’s no reason for a publisher to do an offset print run for a title that may have limited appeal in the market place––and let’s face it, a title about spiritual practice by an unknown author is a long shot. (An offset print run is a traditional publishing run resulting in 500, 1,500, 10,000, or more books being produced. This type of printing is often used by traditional publishers who expect large sales for their books.)

A sensible way of producing a book in this market is to use a POD (Print On Demand. With POD production, books are created as they are needed to satisfy sales orders.) publisher like Amazon’s free set up or LightningSource, with its distribution capabilities. (Check out the POD printers before committing. Books are available that evaluate them. I like

Go digital. No successful publisher, small press, or self-publisher can afford to ignore the eMarkets. I’ve got Stepping Off the Edge on Kindle now, and I’m working on the Sony and other eBook distribution. I missed those sales for years.

Get a good production team and stick with it: Don’t change editors, designers, or anyone else midstream. If you do, you open yourself up to multiple charges, production delays, and chaos. Of course, if you haven’t worked with a team before, you won’t know how well you work together. Life is risky.

Do not “do it yourself.” Owners of small presses and self-publishers–– have your books professionally designed even if you’re going to produce them on If you submit an amateurish piece of ugly, poorly formated garbage to or any POD printer, it will come out exactly as submitted. Use professional designers. The Blogroll on my blog for writers, Your Shelf Life has tested professionals on it. It’s on the right hand column, scroll down and check ‘em out for yourself.

What other bloopers did I make with my first book? I’d make sure someone in my LARGE team of editors and proofreaders knew how to spell “acknowledgment”.  (Yep, the word is misspelled in the TOC, section front, and page header. A judge in the Benjamin Franklin Award pointed it out in my feedback form.) Too late to correct if you’ve done a traditional print run.

What else? I’d spend the money saved on book production on marketing & publicity. There’s a slippery shore. People spent money on publicity and often have no tangible results from it. In that case, the smart author will research low cost publicity avenues. The ‘Net, blogs, social networking sites, on and on.

Looking over the whole picture, what I’d do is budget book production carefully and stick to my budgets. I’d firm up my design team and their cost estimates before doing anything.

And I’d acknowledge that writing the book and producing it are only the beginning: The real work in the book world is selling books for a profit.

Sandy Nathan

Sandy Nathan––Before publishing in the Great Recession


Sandy Nathan after publishing Stepping off the Edge, ed. 1. Edition 2 wasn't much better.

5.2 Selling Books in the Great Recession: The Only Equation Book Sellers Need to Know

Milton Friedman, Nobel Laureate and Guru of Conservative Economists

Milton Friedman, Nobel Prize Winner and Guru of Conservative Economists

P = TR – TC

The economist’s traditional way of putting this equation is:

pi = TR – TC

What is this? It’s the equation for profit, which is what runs your life if you’re in the book business, and most others. (Economists use the Greek letter pi to indicate profit.)

Profit = Total Revenue – Total Cost.

I’m posting this article before putting up the words of my guest bloggers because my guests are are old hands in the publishing world. They jump in running with their comments. What they say might be a bit confusing if you’re not familiar with the background. I’m setting out a few basic economic formulas to establish a framework for thought.

Total revenue is all the money coming in to your publishing endeavor as a result of your books, eBooks and whatever else you sell. That might include revenue from speaking or seminars, whatever. How you define your business for tax purposes is up to you, your CPA, and your tax attorney. Whatever: TR includes all remuneration from your endeavors, however broadly you define them.

From TR, we subtract Total Cost. This means the cost of everything from editing and proofing to stamps on the promotional postcards. Costs of all consultants, printing. Rent, electricity. Everything.

Profit is what’s left over after you subtract total costs from total revenue. That’s “the bottom line.” If the number is negative, you’ve made a loss.

In traditional publishing, where the publisher buys your manuscript and publishes it at his expense, this equation runs the show for a simple reason: In a capitalist society, businesses go bankrupt if they don’t make a profit.

If you’re a self-publisher or run an independent press (an Indie), the bottom line also matters, even if profit isn’t your total focus. How many of us can afford the time and expense to write and see our work in print decently (i.e., edited and properly typeset), when Mom is the only person who buys it? The profit equation applies to all of us.

John Maynard Keynes, Father of Modern Economics

John Maynard Keynes, Father of Modern Economics

Another equation that applies to the publishing world:

Y = C + I + G

This is the equation for national income––the big picture.

Y, used by economists to mean national income, usually called Gross Domestic Product or Gross National Product. GDP means the value of goods and services produced within the United States (in our case) during the year.

C stands for Consumption: everything we clever little shoppers buy from dinners at fancy restaurants to vintage wine to a whole lot more necessary things like brain surgery and clothes for our kids.

I means Investment, spending on goods and services intended in increase the size or efficiency of our productive capacity over time. So, spending on factories and new ways of making widgets.

G is Government Spending, which operates independently of consumer spending. Many of he functions of government (mosquito eradication, the military, our highway system, disaster relief) are functions benefiting society as a whole and need to be paid for by society as a whole. These are independent of private consumption, as is the cost of paying for our governmental system. (Congress, the Executive Branch, the court system … all that.)

National income equals the total of everything we spend, everything we invest, and all government spending.

What does this have to do with selling books and the Great Recession?

The definition of a recession (or depression) is that National Income is lower than it was before. Economists have means of measuring these variables and comparing economic performance over time. (The most recent measurements of economic variables say we’re OUT OF THE RECESSION! Ain’t that great? Don’t you feel it?) [This was written in 2009. Nuthin's changed. It's not Obama's fault… Really. It's the disparity of income between the upper and lower segments of our society. Trickle down doesn't work.]

Since, by definition, Income is lower in a recession, that means that at least some of the other variables, C + I + G, are down, too. In the current case, off the top of my head, I’d say Investment is stalled and Consumption is depressed. Government spending is strong, which is the whole idea behind the Stimulus Package. [Except that we called it off.]

Lord John Maynard Keynes, the father of modern economics, was the first to notice that the government can counteract what’s going on in the private sector. If C and I are faltering, G (government expenditures) can invigorate a sluggish economy.

Thorstein Veblen, Author of The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899)

Thorstein Veblen, Author of The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899). Coined the phrase "conspicuous consumption", which probably explains what fueled the Great Recession. That and crime in high places.



It means that overall consumer demand is off. (Duh.) Folks have less discretionary income––money they can spend as they want. That means that every friggin’ thing that they buy with that income competes with everything else for limited dollars.

Though we book producers worship books and consider them hallowed, other folks consider them just another form of entertainment. In a recession, books compete with all other forms of amusement––movies, sports events, music, everything.

Consumers rationing scarce dollars will think twice before plunking down $20 for a book (especially from an unknown author) when they could go to the movies or hit Starbucks.

Buyers may be more aware of opportunity cost, the economist’s jargon for, “Every time you make a choice, you lose.” If you’ve spent your $20 on diapers for the baby, that coffee table book fades into the sunset.

The book is the opportunity cost of the diapers. But which do you need more???


Recall the formula for profit: Profit = Total Revenue – Total Cost.

To handle today’s world, the smart book producer and seller can mess with both TR and TC. He or she can work to up Revenue and decrease Costs, or both.

This is what my guest speakers address in their comments, which begin with the next posting.

John Kenneth Galbraith, Keynesian Economist, Presidential Advisor, Prolific Author

John Kenneth Galbraith, Keynesian Economist, Presidential Adviser, Prolific Author

A NOTE: I haven’t mentioned CREDIT and CREDIT CARDS in the discussion above, treating disposable income and the other variables as though they were fixed amounts.

In reality, consumers have plastic. For years, we financed our lives using deficit spending, just like the government. We use credit cards instead of printing money.

This is fine, until the credit card’s limit becomes binding or the monthly payments of multiple cards take us such a large portion of our income that we can’t pay the rent. Or something happens. Like the loss of a job or a company going under.

The natural tendency to defer payment to some (much) later time by borrowing on future income does have a limit. Many of us have experienced that limit. Personal bankruptcies have soared along with corporate disasters. [Only thing different in 2011 is whole countries are going broke now.]

So the equations above do apply, but they’re elastic. A consumer can go a long time before the crunch happens.

Next up are some of our book marketing all stars!

Sandy Nathan

Sandy Nathan Back in the Day When I Was an Economist!

All the best,

Sandy Nathan
Winner of thirty national book awards
#1 Bestselling Author ofIn Love by Christmas 
Sandy’s Amazon Author page, where you can find ALL of her books.

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