National Public Radio "Connections"

Hosted by Fran Halpern

May 16, 1999

KCLU FM National Public Radio

With Guest -- Carol Givner




Frances Halpern -- Good morning. We have a full plate for you today. Joining us in about ten minutes will be Carol Givner and what we're going to be talking about and learning together this morning is about cyberspace, the internet, publishing on the internet. Why does somebody like Fred Blechman, who had published at least seven times as far as books are concerned and over seven hundred articles, and I'm holding up my fingers now, can you all see me, the traditional way of publishing. Now so many people are turning to the internet to publish, to market their books, to sell their books and that, too, I suppose eventually will be the traditional way to publish, I'm not sure but that's the direction we're going in. My mind is boggled by all of this absolutely. I'm not sure I understand how this all works. How do you turn this into a book and why do all this?


Good morning Carol Givner


Carol Givner -- Hi Fran, how are you?


FH -- I'm just fine. How are you doing?


CG -- I'm just fine, thank you.


FH -- You sound a little breathless.


CG -- Well I am. I'm a little nervous.


FH -- Oh good. (laughing) We want you to be very nervous. We want all those nervous vibes going out on the air so all the listeners will start freaking out.


(All Laughing)


CG -- Well, I'm not going to disappoint you on that.


FH -- No, no. Carol this is just a couple of girls and boys sitting around over a cup of make-believe coffee.


CG -- Okay.
FH -- And we're just having a conversation. What we were doing was talking with Fred Blechman and asking him how he got people organized to give him stories for his book, Bent Wings and then we'll go right into introducing you and the fact that you got four romances, am I correct four romances?


CG -- Five.


FH -- Five! Since I talked to her two days ago. (All Laughing) Five romance novels that are being published on the internet, right?


CG -- Well one will be in print and four on the internet.


FH -- And we will have to understand that.


Carol, your experience. First of all you are the President of the Gold Coast Fiction Writers and also the Editor of their incredible newsletter called WORDSMITH.


CG -- Oh, thank you. That's nice.


FH -- It is a totally incredible newsletter. I'm going to share it with Fred, all the stuff that goes into this newsletter. Certainly geared to the fiction writers particularly in the romance genre in which they are many sub-genres. But nevertheless there is a lot going on in this newsletter. And we're also going to tell people how they can join Gold Coast Fiction Writers and I know you are having a meeting this very afternoon.


CG -- That's right.


FH -- In Ventura.


How, tell us Carol, did you start out, we're referring to traditional publishing at this point, did you start out writing your novels and submitting then to traditional publishers? And then how did we come to the internet? And who's publishing you?


CG -- Okay, I did start out to publish only in print and I sold my first book to LionHearted Publishing. They're just a wonderful publishing company. And I would have been content to stay there, but where the internet came up with this instant gratification I just couldn't resist. So my other four books to date, are going to be published electronically. And what I did, I started writing for fun. I wrote a novel about a celebrity and I put it on the internet. I posted it, and it caught on. And it brought me to this celebrity's millions of fans. And since most of his fans are romance readers to begin with I saw an instant market. And that's how that started.


FH -- Okay, now, explain please, give us the details. You wanted the instant gratification so you went to what? Fill in the blank.


CG -- Well, I started because I like to research for a lot of the market columns that I write. I was very in tune with the different markets in print and the ones that were springing up on the internet, and I noticed, a little different than Fred's experience, the fiction e-pubs require query letters and submissions just the way the print publishers do. So I started submitting my work, And I sold to Book-On-Disc.Com and to The Fiction Works. So I have three publishers, one's print and two are epubs.


FH -- So you submit as you said, a query letter, perhaps a couple of chapters, an outline.


CG -- Exactly.


FH -- And then you get a response from them saying that they'd like to publish this book.

...Carol how does this happen? After they except your manuscript. You send your manuscript on disk?


CG -- I actually just sent an email first to find out if there was any interest, I would usually just attach to an email just a few chapters. And then if they wanted to see the whole thing they would download it from an attachment. Everything was sent in through email.


FH -- So the whole thing through email. so they click a button to download so that then they have the manuscript in hand. In hard copy? Or do you think that they put it on a disk?


CG -- I think that they usually put it on a disk so that they can reformat it. And there is a program, usually when the edits are sent back to me, I can just open two at a time. my original copy, their edits, and then I can make the changes as I choose.


FH -- Also right on your computer?


CG -- Yes. Yes, everything on the computer.


FH -- Alright, now then we have a book, do you have a book in hand? Or what? What do you have?


CG -- Well, I actually just got me first e-book yesterday, with my name on it. BING, BANG, BOOM, by Carol Givner. It's a very exciting moment.


FH -- An e-book. Now explain to me as well as our audience what is an e-book, Carol?


CG -- An e-book is an electronic version of a print book. I have a floppy disk, that says, BING, BANG, BOOM. And I have a CD. Both of them work just beautifully on the computer and I was just surprised how beautifully I can read the print. And then I can print out as many as I want. Hopefully each person will just be printing out one copy. I had input in what the cover was going to be like and the CD looks just like a musical CD. And it has the cover symbols on it, and my ISBN number, which you can imagine to a new writer is the most important thing in the world. So I was pretty excited about it. And Book-On-Disk is also going to do my book for Christmas in an audio format. So I'll have 3 ISBN numbers, one for every format.


FH -- So if someone wants to buy your book, what's the next step? What do we do if we want to buy one of your books? BING, BANG, BOOM, oh, boy that sounds good! Sounds great. Great humor in there. As a matter of fact, Carol has, I mean this in a very positive way, a very wonderful bent attitude for writing romance. They're really funny. But how do I get your book, BING, BANG, BOOM?


CG -- (Laughing)


FH -- Here's some of the dialogue:


"Please Harve, may I borrow your wife?"


Tycoon Jake Bainbridge needs a beautiful wife for the weekend.


To win a bet.


To woo a client.


To sooth his aching heart.


And his old fraternity buddy, Harve has the perfect spouse for the job.


Luscious actress Maggie Cole.


Single mom.


Sleeps alone.


Will a borrowed wife who really isn't borrowed, fall in love with a married man who really isn't married?


(Laughing) BING, BANG, BOOM. Read on to find out how all of this turns out. But how do we get this?


CG -- Well, you just go to their site.


FH -- Which is Book-On-Disc.Com


CG -- Yes, Book-On-Disc.Com They put hyphens in between book and on.


FH -- Yes, book hyphen, on hyphen, disk dot com.


CG -- Yes, that's right. And they have a form to fill out. They don't take Mastercard or anything like that. They're just strictly cash through the mail. But I think that The Fiction Works, where Kiss And Don't Tell will be released in a couple mouths, I know has a shopping cart and will probably take bank cards. So then you just order it up. The other way to do it if they take a bank card is you give them the number and then you can download the book right away.


FH -- Yes, but what do I get? I sent them a check. I said I want BING, BANG, BOOM. What do I get back in the mail?


CG -- You have a choice, you can either get a download where they will just download it on a file to you. And then you can print it out. Or you can opt to have a floppy disc or a CD. They'll send you that.


FH -- And then I put the CD in my machine.


CG -- Exactly.


FH -- Okay. So I do not actually have a book in my hands.


CG -- No, no you don't.


FH -- This is really tomorrow.


CG -- It's different. It saves a lot of trees.


FH -- Whoa.


CG -- I find the epubs are more willing to see very lengthy books in excess of 100,000 words because there is no paper involved.


FH -- Carol, the one thing we know traditionally, the book, holding the book. I remember when my first book was published and then it got to a bookstore, I walked into that particular bookstore sat down on the floor and stared at it for a long time.


CG -- I'm sure.


FH -- Because the thrill, I mean it is absolutely a thrill. And then I felt you can pull it off the shelves, you can hold it and smell it, take it to bed with you and read a few pages or whatever. Read it at the breakfast table of read it dining out alone.


CG -- Sure.


FH -- Where do you see the difference, where do you think this is going to take off? DO you think, especially in your particular category and genre, romance genre which is huge, I guess almost 50% of the books, the fiction that is bought is in that genre.


CG -- I think it really will take off. It will never replace print publishing the way TV never really replaced the movies. Movies just became produced on television. So I don't think that's it's going to replace anything. But since so many people have computers and they have them at work and they can print out the books. I think that this will actually be another form of publishing, and it will take its place very quickly.


Fred Blechman -- When they're printed out, Carol, are they printed out on standard 8 1/2 x 11? Or do they reformat it somehow?


CG -- It's 8 1/2 x 11. It looks very similar to the manuscript you would've sent them.


FH -- Could you for your own library have a book made? Or would that be a whole tremendous magillah, for want of a better word, to say nothing of very expensive.


CG -- Probably. It would just be combining. It would just be another form. I probably would just have a stack, hopefully, of my books an CD then my books on disk and hopefully some audio books.


FH -- Now tell us how you get plugged in. Tell us about the marketing. How do people find out that this book is available? How do they know this publisher is offing the book either on the CD and then later, you say, an audio version is going to be published.


CG -- Exactly. I think that most of the publicity so far has been on the internet. Which is where it should be because that's the form. I was speaking to some people at Barnes and Noble and they are interested. E-books are carried at Barnes and Noble. They're at Amazon.com. And I think that the explosion is on the brink. It's happening right now.


FH -- Who's going to do the audio? Are you going to talk the audio? Or are they hiring somebody to do it?


CG -- I haven't talked to them about that yet. They've asked to have those rights. And I've agreed because I think they'll do a good job.


FH -- Ahh, speaking of rights. Royalties. It is my understanding you don't get an advance but you get a much better royalty deal then if you go with traditional print publishers.


CG -- Yes.


FH -- And they will send you royalty statements. How often will you get a royalty statement?
CG -- I've seen about every quarter. Every three months.


FH -- Wow.


FH -- Carol, does your publisher say you can publisher you book another way you want?


CG -- Well, I gave them the electronic rights only. Book-On-Disc now have the audio rights. But if I find somebody to make a film, that's fine. If I find someone to put it out in print, that's fine. But anything electronically, they have the right for that.


FH -- Oh, okay. Well, we turned on the audience, let's go to line one. And welcome question?


CALLER -- Oh, hi, Frances? This is Robin Westmiller calling.


FH -- Yes. Good morning Robin.


RW -- I wanted to add my similar situation with the Writers Club Online On Demand Publishing. Where my book is now being published.


FH -- And the name of your book?


RW -- Red Wine For Breakfast. And it's similar. I will be receiving a book. It will have my cover on it. In hard cover about the second week of June. And it will be available at Amazon.com and the royalties are very similar to what he (Fred Blechman) was saying. The question that I have, once you've done all this, and it's been out there as a book, how do you (Carol) do the marketing? How do you do the promotion?


CG -- Well, I think for most writers most of them have to do some promotion. But for epubbing you certainly have to do even more. Maybe because these are my first books, I'm so excited about it. I'm putting flyers all over town, doing all the things that probably don't make a difference at all. For me the difference is going to be if I have the base of readers from the celebrity book. And I think that's going to make a difference. Just the people that I know. Just for starters. I think what will happen eventually, all of the sites that are springing up, all of the lists are going to be the ones that will ultimately be marketing the books. Because when I publicized on the lists that I was going to be on Fran's show, my Mailbox was full within a few hours. I had over 800 emails.


FH -- Oh!


CG -- I couldn't even answer them, I just asked my kids to just take them off and print them out so I could answer them later. And the box kept filling up. So, there are literally thousands of people out there.


FH -- And you mean these emails where interested in your book?


CG -- Yes, interested in the book. Interested in the fact that I was going to be on your show. Interested in your show. Interested in how they can get on your show.


RW -- Where you getting the list from?


FH -- 790 people! Uh-oh! Yeah, Robin, that's a good questions. Where are you getting the list from?


CG -- The lists are ones that I've just picked up. Somebody would start a list. Like I belong to one that's just about e-publishing. I belong to one about science fiction. One about romance. One about mysteries. Each of these lists have thousands of people. I belong to Inkspot. Probably everybody knows that's 45,000 subscribers right there. So all of these people, when they hear about the book, I think that because it's on the internet, I put the link right on it, and it's highlighted. All they have to do is click on the link and they're brought to my website. Or they're brought to Book-On-Disc.


(A new caller)


FH -- Good morning


CALLER -- Good morning Frances. You sound very healthy to me.


FH -- Well, I'm not quite up to par, but I'm doing alright. ...I recognize the voice, this is Harriet Ackert Author of Prodigal Souls.


HA -- It's been optioned for a TV film, by the way.


FH -- AH! Is this a first announcement?


HA -- Yeah, public.


FH -- Right here on Connections. Ask Carol Givner your question.


HA -- Hi Carol.


CG -- Hi Harriet.


HA -- I've been in correspondence with you most gratefully. And to your meetings which is a real revelation and a joy.


CG -- Thank you.


HA -- I'm fascinated by this epub thing, and congratulations on your great success.


CG -- Thank you


HA -- And the temptation would be great except I have the same concern as Robin expressed earlier about publicity. And secondly about royalties. What can one expect in this kind of situation?


CG -- Well ,I think that each contract is different. I think that usually 30% is what I've been hearing is pretty common. And the books, BING, BANG, BOOM, is going to be $6.95. I think they go anywhere from $3.95 to $9.95.


HA -- Who sets the price, they do?


CG -- Yes.


HA -- I see. And how long will the book be available?


CG -- I signed with all of them for at least one year. With the option that either of us can renew it if we'd like to.


HA -- They retain the rights only for a year?


CG -- Yes.


HA -- I see. So then you can turn around and sell those rights.


CG -- I could. And even now I could to somebody else in a different form.


HA -- You could do it if you are unhappy.


CG -- Right.


HA -- You mentioned Book-On Disc.com but you also mentioned that you have several other books available. With whom did you contract?


CG -- With Book-On-Disc they liked BING, BANG, BOOM so much that they asked me to write a sequel. And if I would write it, could they publish it. That's the second one, it doesn't have a title yet. One of the reasons that I like internet publishing is that, you can do so many different things. BING BANG BOOM, has two heros. So it's perfectly logical there would be a sequel.


HA -- You think ahead.


CG --They're also going to do a really dark, steamy mystery called, Steam Heat.


HA -- Ohhh.


CG -- And Steam Heat is about a murdered stripper in the Paradise district. And that might be a little difficult to get by a typical genre publisher.


HA -- You're a delightful writer. I've read your things and you do have an engaging style and a wonderful sense of humor.


CG -- Thank you.


HA -- So I would anticipate reading anything you write. I too enjoy your newsletter tremendously. I wish I could make it to the (Gold Coast Fiction Writers) meetings. I just arrived from New York last night. And I'm in no shape to be in company.


FH -- Well, thank you for getting up early Sunday morning and making a phone call.


HA -- The problem is I was still up early. I'm still on New York time.


(All Laughing)


HA -- Okay, thank you so much.


FH -- Thank you. Thank you Harriet.


FH -- Carol the internet. We're really talking the next century, a whole explosion into the next century.


CG -- Yeah.


FH -- I'd like to find out whether, Fred, (Blechman) if you could sell a lot more the way Carol is doing it with these literally hundreds of thousands of people you can access out there.


FB -- Yes I want to hire Carol and Robin for my team.


(....)


FH -- Carol describe please again for us not only for our audience, but for me as well, what is an e-book?


CG -- An e-book is an electronic form of a print book. You will be given, either in a download, or through a floppy disk or a CD the entire manuscript. Plus whatever else, I have some of the promos for some of my other books coming out.


FH -- In other words you can hold it in your hands. And you scroll the print.


CG -- Exactly. When it's on the computer. Well, you can buy a Palm Pilot, and they're coming down in price. And those are readers where you can put the disk in. They're about several hundred dollars, and they're coming down in price. But I've always loved the music industry, so for me being able to take a CD to Barnes and Noble to sign it. That has a thrill all its own.


FH -- See, this is actually wonderful. This whole different way of looking at it and doing it.


FH -- Carol, tell us how people can join the Gold Coast Fiction Writers. Which you've brought up as the chief executive officer and the Editor of WORDSMITH up to another level. I know Amy Slay started the process and you certainly have picked up the pen, so to speak. Anybody anywhere in the Santa Barbara, Ventura, maybe Malibu area, I'm thinking geography here, who would like to join the Gold Coast Fiction Writers and come to your monthly meetings which are in Ventura, how do they access?


CG -- Right, we'd love it. Please email me at GOLDDUETS@aol.com And I'll be able to tell you all about it. And my website is similar, it's http://www.goldduets.com


FH -- Carol, I guess it was Harriet who brought up the question of royalties. And you're getting a statement every three months. Which believe me, the traditional print publishers it's every six months. Let us say that your book is published in June, you'll see a statement the following January, which will say, "This is too soon for us to know whether your book is really selling. Here is the amount of books that are selling, but we're not going to send you any money yet because we have to hold money against possible returns." So the following June, a year later is when you'll probably begin to see your money.


CG -- Wow.


FH -- For all of you clutching your bosoms your chests out there thinking that all I have to do is publish a book and then I'll be able to put grub on the table. The money will just pour in. That doesn't happen. That's the way the not so warm and fuzzy regular publishers do it. Now, this is not to say there are not wonderful people, wonderful editors and people who adore books in the publishing world. But their royalty statements are really pretty awful. You've dealt with print publishers, do you agree?


CG -- Yes, I think it really depends on them. Fortunately I was lucky with the one that I do have. With epublishing they really don't withhold anything because there are no stripped books, nothing comes back. First I was worried that I couldn't write a book. Then I was worried I couldn't sell it. Now I worry no one will review it. And then I'll worry no one will read it. Then I'll worry that if they read it, that they won't like it. So, I can't win.


FH -- (Laughing.) Listen, spoken like a true author. Absolutely. The angst. Nobody's going to want to publish it, then nobody's going to want to read it. And on and on.


FH -- Carol, are they reviewers out there in cyberspace?


CG -- So many. There's more then I can say. They're everywhere. Every site is asking for reviewers. They're asking for readers. That's one of the draws to any of the literary sites. That the book will be reviewed.


FH -- There's the answer to that. So in other words this is the world in which you are publishing, marketing, selling, and getting reviewed. Right there, in cyberspace.


CG -- Exactly.


FH -- Carol, if we wanted to get your book, what do we do again?


CG -- Please contact Book-On-Disc.Com for BING, BANG, BOOM. It's going to be released tomorrow. Hopefully, when I get home, I can turn on the computer, and there it will be.


(....)
FH -- Today at 1 pm the Gold Coast Fiction Writers are going to be meeting. In The Lion's room at Nona's Cafe, 67 south California, Ventura. At 1 o'clock this afternoon. Get over there. People are welcome, right?


CG -- Absolutely.


FH -- Find out what Carol Givner is all about, what the Gold Coast Writers are all about. And I have to say goodbye everybody. We'll be back next week. And remember you could meet someone that might change your life here on the radio. Thank you.









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