Monday, February 29, 2016

Changes in the Publishing World

If you’re a regular in our corner of the publishing world, you’ve probably heard about Samhain Publishing’s recent announcement. Their upcoming closure—along with that of Amber Quill Press, announced early this year—saddens us all. We’ve had the highest respect for these companies and their business practices, and the world will be a poorer place without them.
This continues a concerning trend among small publishers that has been building for a couple of years now. Several elements are feeding this wave:
·         the explosion of self-publishing
·         Amazon’s domination of the book sales market
·         Kindle Unlimited
·         changes at subscription services such as Scribd and Oyster
·         worldwide application of VAT taxes
Since we opened in 2007, we’ve been looking two to five to ten years ahead at the publishing market as whole, not just the small niche of gay romance, to anticipate what would be coming next while making plans for the future. It’s not easy, and it never will be. Eighteen months ago we saw indications of Amazon’s movements in the industry, and we put cost-savings measures into place that are carrying us through today’s sales squeeze. Yes, sales are down, across the board, just like at every other publisher in the country (or world). But Dreamspinner Press is stable and growing. Production continues to expand, royalty payments continue in full, we pay our bills, we’re not in debt, our overhead is low, and we’re making investments for the future. We see a lot of bright light on the horizon. Sales to date in 2016 are up 10% over 2015. However, we also recognize the need for caution and careful financial and time investment choices.
We have to make the best decisions we can to support the company and family as a whole. To that end, we have dedicated a lot of time and effort to refining Dreamspinner Press in ways that will help us build more opportunities. Some of these highlights include:
·         A brand new Dreamspinner Press website, planned to launch in April 2016, with complete mobile integration, expanded promotion, marketing, and social media tools.
·         A new partnership with INscribe Digital, a global distribution and marketing solutions company
·         Expansion of promotion of DSP Publications and Harmony Ink Press to mainstream markets
·         Redefinition of in-house marketing directives
·         Stronger editorial focus on submissions quality
·         Increased audiobook production
·         Tapping the translations market to distribute paperbacks in French and German
·         Expansion into foreign markets, including the launch of Dreamspinner Korea and the creation of a graphic novel line
Frankly, in the past decade, the publishing market has changed radically, and multiple closures of small presses reflect that. Dreamspinner Press has been riding the same wave. We can’t and won’t deny it. The difficulties inherent in today’s market are public knowledge. Every time a publishing company closes, worry and doubt ripple through the Internet. All we can do is deliver the facts, continue to focus on making the best choices we can for our authors and our company, and keep making dreams come true.
Elizabeth North, Executive Director
Lynn West, Editor in Chief
Dreamspinner Press

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Happy Hanukkah

Happy Hanukkah

Hanerot Halalu* [Talmud (Soferim 20:6)]

We light these lights
For the miracles and the wonders,
For the redemption and the battles
That you made for our forefathers
In those days at this season,
Through your holy priests.

*Hanerot Halalu, an ancient chant about the sacred nature of the Hanukkah lights that are lit to commemorate the Hanukkah miracles.

Disclaimer: I am not Jewish. What I shared came from friends that have included me in their family and rituals. There are many wonderful places to learn about the Jewish traditions - starting with your local temple. I have visited dozens in many cities and have always found them welcoming and open to people with an honest desire to learn.

Credit: The Joyous Dancing Menorah shown can be purchased at Zion Judaica.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Tuesday Tips: Social Media Engagement

Use Engagement as Your Social Media Backbone
by Naomi, DSP Social Media Assistant

The Internet is a bit like Times Square with a seller on every corner.  Authors often ask me how to get their voices heard over the crowd and I tell them you don’t want to even be in that crowd of hawkers.  Instead of vying to make your promotions heard over the next person’s, try engagement.
Social media engagement is not about your followers but how involved you are in your social media community.  Who do you follow and interact with on the social media platforms you belong to? Do you respond to reader or fellow author tweets, Facebook events or posts? Do you participate in community hashtags like #amreading, #ThrowBackThursday or #BooksThroughPhone? Engagement is about joining the conversation, not yelling above it or expecting others to draw you out.

Most social media experts suggest that eighty percent of your social media posts be some form of engagement.  This allows you to be a part of the conversation, not shouting above it. This is a perfect example of social media engagement by an author:

Engagement can also include snippets of your writing life that aren’t directly related to promotions. Followers love authors who share insider information on the writing process, inspiration and character quirks. Here’s an example of non-promotion engagement that still touches on an author’s book.

If eighty percent of your social media is engagement that leaves just twenty percent of your posts for direct promotions. This may seem too few but this approach is the difference between buying a car from a used car salesman and a family friend: if someone you know as a person says they’re selling something we’re all more likely to consider buying it. Examples of direct promotions:

  • My latest book releases tomorrow
  • My book is on sale here
  • Cover reveal for my latest book
  • Contract signed for my new book
  • Book blog gave my book a 5 star review

Social media engagement is the backbone of a strong social media life. Engaging in the book community will offer much greater rewards than trying to shout about your books above the crowd.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tuesday Tips: IFTTT

What is IFTTT?
by Naomi, DSP Social Media Assistant

IFTTT is an amazing service from the professional to the silly. Find IFTTT here...

Let’s see what it is and some of the recipes that authors may find helpful.

IFTTT is an abbreviation for If This Then That. This succinct explanation is from’s What The F*ck page

I am a New York Knicks fan so for illustrative purposes we’re going to use my fandom as an example of IFTTT.  Each IFTTT recipe starts with a trigger (if ESPN posts anything about the NY Knicks) then an action happens (Naomi gets a text message with a hyperlink to the article about the NY Knicks).

Many IFTTT recipes are already built by users and are called template recipes. New IFTTT users should start with those template recipes which simply require you to connect and login to your channel triggers. Here are some examples of popular IFTTT recipes:

So how can IFTTT help authors’ social media? In one word, simplification. You can build recipes so your Facebook posts automatically to Twitter; you could send your blog posts to Facebook just by posting on your blog; your Instagram pictures could be native pictures on Twitter; share the same links on Twitter and Tumblr.  If you get more involved you could use RSS Feeds like Amazon’s to be notified when a new book reaches the Kindle Top 100 Free eBooks list.

Of course, part of IFTTT fun is quirky services, like my Knicks recipe. Here are some of my personal favorite:  use Liam Neeson's badass quote from "Taken" to scare someone into returning your phone; get notified of new Netflix streaming titles; convert files to Kindle format; save all the Goggle doodles in your Dropbox; automatically set your phone to mute at work by using your smartphone’s location settings. The recipe possibilities are nearly endless!

So give IFTTT a try if you have an hour to play—and let me know what cool recipes you come up with!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tuesday Tips: Author Branding 104

Branding 104: Isn’t It Iconic
by Poppy Dennison

Remember back in March of 2013 when the Human Right’s Campaign asked everyone who supported marriage equality to change their profile picture to the red equal sign? The campaign met with resounding success, and according to data I’ve seen, over 2 million Facebook users changed their profile image in response to the campaign.

Whenever I opened Facebook, my timeline was filled with red equal signs. I loved it, don’t get me wrong, but am I the only person who found it odd to actually read the person’s name who posted? I never do that, and I didn’t even realize it. I see the profile image, and immediately know who is posting!

Our profile images become our name, the image that represents us and lets our readers know at a glance who were are on all social media outlets. As a result, that image should be chosen with consideration. More importantly, as we’re striving to build brands that are unique and consistent, our profile image becomes our icon, the image that tells our readers who we are at a glance. That image should be used on each and every social media site you use..

Now, some of you are probably having a bit of a moo cow right now. You want to be an individual! You have a twitter icon, a facebook icon, an icon for chatting, and an icon that you just like doggone it. Besides, who wants to go to all the hassle of changing your icons? Once it’s set, you forget it! Or better yet, you like to change your icon based on your mood, the weather, or what day of the week it is, cause that’s the way you roll.

Under normal circumstances, that’d be awesome. As an author working to develop a brand, however, you are missing out on a great opportunity to become instantly recognizable in the ever changing news feeds that scroll through your social media sites. Consistency is one of the most important aspects of building a brand, and your icon is a great and easy way to do that.

So what makes a great icon, anyway?

Here are some tips and tricks to making one that stands out.

1- Keep it simple. Remember that icons/profile images are normally itty bitty by the time they make it to the newsfeed. Text isn’t going to be easily readable at that size so whatever image you choose should be readable at the size your readers will see it at. (For example, the twitter avatars display at 73 x 73 pixels. Or about this size:

2-Use a color that stands out. This is a great time to incorporate the colors you chose in Branding 103. By using a consistent color across the board, your readers will come to associate that color with you and easily be able to pick your itty bitty image out of a crowd.

3-Don’t change it. This is a debatable opinion, to say the least, but my stance is to keep it consistent. I know authors who change their social media icons to their newest book cover. I can’t object too strongly to that, but consider that some of your readers may be like me, and connect the image to the person. When that image changes, will your readers miss your posts because they don’t realize it’s you?

Take a few minutes to look at your favorite social media site and see if you actually read the person’s name, or if you only glance at an image to know who is posting. Now take a few minutes to look at the profile image(s) you are using. Are they easily recognizable? Are they the same across social media outlets? Are they connected to your overall brand?

Monday, September 29, 2014

First Dreamspinner Titles Licensed in Thailand

I signed contracts last week with a publisher in Thailand to translate and publish five Dreamspinner titles. Thai will be the 9th language Dreamspinner titles will appear in, and I'm very excited.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Survey: Which promotional images work best for you?

This survey is open to all authors.

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world's leading questionnaire tool.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Tuesday Tips: Author Branding 103

Author Branding 103: Color Me Confused
by Poppy Dennison

Way back in Branding 101, we talked about having a brand that creates a unique name and image. Easier said than done, right? Well, maybe it’s a little easier than you think. To illustrate my point, let’s take a trip to one of my least favorite places in the world: the grocery store.

Coca-Cola® is a registered trademark
of The Coca-Cola Company.
Now, I hate grocery shopping with a purple passion. No really. Loathe.  But if I tell you we need to grab some Coke, we head to the soda aisle and what do we look for? That’s right. Red. It’s easy to find the brand because they have a signature color.

Color is a great way to make your brand easily identifiable. No matter how many times Coke has changed their logo over the years, there has been one constant: their color.  There’s a lot of fancy schmancy science behind it too. Just Google color psychology if you don’t believe me. Go on. I know you want to.

Now imagine our readers at the grocery store for authors. Can they go to a certain aisle and pick you out of the crowd? Is your brand as easily identifiable as Coke is on the soda aisle? If not, why not come up with a signature color for yourself to help?

Steel Magnolias (1989)
Tri-Star Pictures

Choosing the color that represents you can be a really difficult choice, but remember your goal: unique name and image. You already have the unique name part, so picking a color scheme to go with your name might not be as difficult as you think.

Start with your favorite colors. Most marketing professionals will agree that no more than three colors work best. You’ll want something bold and unique, something that feels like you. If you didn’t take a look at color psychology before, now might be a great time to do that.  Do any of the colors jump out at you? How about their descriptions? Do any of those feel like the image you want to present?

The options are endless. Are you a fiery red or a royal purple? Calming blue or relaxing green? Dominant black or sunshiny yellow? Combining colors that symbolize you and your work can give your readers a subconscious view into what they can expect from you.  Mixing up red and purple can show fiery royals. You know, like red-headed Prince Harry.

Social media is the grocery store for authors and our job is to position ourselves on the shelves so that our readers can easily find us. If you don’t have a signature color, head on over to your local market (i.e. your favorite social media site) and see if you can identify any authors on your friends list who use color as part of their marketing scheme. What does that color tell you about them? Did it make them easier to pick out in the ever refreshing news feed?

A sassy southern lady, Poppy Dennison developed an obsession with things that go bump in the night in her early years after a barn door flew off its hinges and nearly squashed her. Convinced it was a ghost trying to get her attention, she started looking for other strange and mysterious happenings around her. Not satisfied with what she found, Poppy has traveled to Greece, Malaysia and England to find inspiration for the burly bears and silver foxes that melt her butter. Her love of paranormal continues to flourish nearly thirty years later, and she writes steamy love stories about the very things that used to keep her up all night. If her childhood ghost is lucky, maybe one day she’ll give him his own happily ever after.

You can find out more about Poppy’s books on her websiteFacebookTwitter, or Goodreads.

Monday, September 1, 2014

September is Library Card Sign-up Month

Libraries are great!
Libraries are wonderful!
Libraries are awesome!

Share your love of libraries. Grab one of the following images and remind people that one of our greatest treasures is FREE!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Free shipping for paperbacks picked up at GRL!

Free paperback shipping to GayRomLit from Dreamspinner Press

Free paperback shipping to GayRomLit from Dreamspinner Press. Shop our store any time (or multiple times) between now and Sept. 21. Titles aren't limited to authors attending GRL. Save with no shipping fees for all your favorite authors.