AGT Monthly Meeting for May 2023
The Authors Guild of Tennessee held their monthly meeting on Thursday, May 4, 2023, at the Faith Lutheran Church, Knoxville. Social time and book exchange began at 10:30 a.m. with the business meeting starting at 11:00 a.m.
The following members were present:
Arlene Anderson, Bill Barbour, Sam Bledsoe, Deana Charcalla, Gayle Curtin, Dave Curran, Laura Derr, Barbara Dunn, Linda Fitzpatrick, Leoma Gilley, Jim Hartsell, Morris Hudgins, Ernie Lancaster, Jerry Morton, Kathy Parr, Cheryl Peyton, Brenda Sellers, Frank Snyder, Art Stewart, Victoria Winifred, and Curt Young.
Guests: Julie Hurley, Debbie Burke
Welcome – Cheryl. Please let Cheryl know if you can’t attend the monthly meeting.
April minutes: Minutes of the April meeting have been approved online.
Treasurer’s report: – Cheryl
Balance as of April 1, $_2608.42_ Balance as of April 30:_2686.97_Total amount of Income in April __$235.80 Expenses in April_$418.84__ Pending Author payments: $22.39.
Report on Amazon pricing and POS problems in retail stores: Cheryl
Amazon started as a bookseller 30 years ago. They change the price of your books. If they see it is starting to sell, they lower the price to give incentive to shoppers. If there’s a book that’s not selling, they lower the price. They say it is temporary. It can go higher or lower than the sticker price. Third-party resellers can buy books and stock them or sell on Amazon as another seller. They can also change the price. They bid to be close to the BUY button, but may not be the cheapest. When Amazon lowers the price, it does not change your royalty. Amazon takes the loss.
Check your price regularly and if down, let people know on social media. It is temporary. Check between 4:00 am and noon.
Cheryl will check with our sellers on how they input pricing into their systems. At Preferred Pharmacy she learned that they scan in the barcode, then the cashier types in the title, author, and sticker price on the book for their inventory.
Report on Committee Activities
Cheryl: Shows, festivals: Next one is Lenoir City Art & Crafts Festival, June 3rd and 4th. There are 2 slots available.
Linda Best: Retail. We recently placed books at Family Drugs in Tellico Plains. Six of us were at the Winsome Stroll vendor market on April 22 which was a success except that a gust of wind lifted all three tents high in the air and then came crashing down. No one was injured and no inventory was lost. Phoenix Gay Street Pharmacy and Soda Fountain is about ready to receive books.
Hosts for a location can sign up for different sources of information so we understand the people of the area, ie., Sweetwater. There is a festival this weekend in Sweetwater.
Sam: Training on Twitter: We are having a good time with Twitter. About 10 people are working on improving their understanding of this platform. There will also be a guide for those who are interested. If there are other areas that you need training on, let Sam know. Suggestions: setting up a website, and literary awards.
Jerry Morton: Writing Contest update: The teachers and children were excited about the writer’s contest. There are winners for fiction and non-fiction. It will cost us $150 more than anticipated, but there was an anonymous gift for $100. Presenters are the key to the success of this program. Bill Barbour met the creative writing teacher who told him how much the kids appreciated the speakers. The students have had plaques and first place winner also gets $50. The teacher receives a plaque and $100.
We are expanding to Sweetwater High School (Monroe County). If we add Sweetwater High School, it will cost $600.
We need enthusiasm and presenters in order to expand. Currently funding depends on generosity of our members to contribute.
Latest books by AGT members:
The Paris Lane Gang, The Night I Became a Butterfly by Deana Charcalla.
Eva of the Nation by Katherine Kirby Smith (aka Kathy Parr)
Murder on the Danube by Cheryl Peyton
Launching into the Unknown by Leoma Gilley (available in June)
Debbie Burke, the author of 9 books, columnist, professional editor, jazz player, spoke to us about her experiences as an author. She blogs about jazz. She writes both fiction and non-fiction.
The Pokonos in B Flat was her first book. She saw a gap in the market and wrote about it. It was published by vanity press, ExLibris. She was able to get a discounted package of about $700. They offered minimal help with editing, cover design, or marketing. It was a thrill to open the box and see the book for the first time.
Tasty Jazz Jams for Our Time is now a series, although she doesn’t sell a lot of copies. She copyrighted the series name which wasn’t cheap and took about 18 months. She’s been writing a jazz blog where she interviews artists from around the world, Q&A style. She researches their background and asks specific questions. She converted her blog to her book. It also helps them market their music along with her book.
The author needs to be pleased with the cover design. Artists that have done covers may be perfect for designing your cover and the cost may be more reasonable.
Ms. Burke’s fiction books: Death by Saxophone and Glissando, 30-day Devotional Music in the Scriptures, and Klezmer for the Joyful Soul
After ExLibris, she used a small boutique publisher – advising you need to do your due diligence. She ran into a problem with them but was able to get out of a contract since she had not been paid royalties. A publisher can de-list your book from Amazon and keep the rights to your book. Ms. Burke reformatted her book and got a new cover. After a year, the publisher took their version off the market. Initially, she had been asked for the first 3 chapters, but there was no feedback on quality. Hybrid self-publishing is just a nicer name for vanity publishers. Traditional publishers should pay you, and you should not have to pay them.
She went on to self-publishing which she thinks is the best way. Most traditional publishers do very little for you. They may do a press release, but not much more. There are many steps to go through in self-publishing. She advises to write a draft, and then join a writer’s group to make improvements and get feedback. Also, get an editor (developmental versus copy editing). Ms. Burke wrote The Author’s Little Red Guide to Editing. She has learned to format for a paperback and e-books as they are very different. The result should be professional. Uploading takes about an hour. Establish a profile on KDP first and then follow all the steps.
When looking for an editor, ask what books they edited and see if they match your style. Have a phone or zoom conversation before you commit. You should feel comfortable with them. How responsive are they to your queries? Look for a “kill clause” so you can both call it quits without penalty. An editor wants to know your word count and to see samples of your work to decide how much to charge for editing. Get testimonials about prospective editors.
Meeting adjourned at 12:15 p.m. The next meeting is scheduled for June 1 at 10:30 a.m. at the Faith Lutheran Church.
Leoma Gilley, Secretary