The Publishing War

Looking for a publisher? In North America, there are hundreds of thousands of people who dream of becoming a published author. They write in their spare time, on their days off and well into the night. Most of them, however, are reluctant to step into the ‘war zone’ that is the publishing world. “Do I self-publish? Can I get Random House to take me seriously? Should I use a Print-On-Demand publisher?” The war is on!

There is a ‘war’ going on in the publishing industry. Some people believe a writer should only approach publishing houses like Harper, Bantam or TOR. Other people believe that smaller, independent or POD publishers are the way to go. One thing is for sure; there are many aspects to contemplate when looking for the right publisher. First, what is right for one person may not be right for another. In order to make a well-informed decision you must consider the differences between the three main types of publishing.

Traditional publishing is the writer’s dream. A ‘big house’ publisher contacts you and loves your manuscript. You sign a contract a few months later. Approximately two to three years later, your book is in print and on the shelves. If you self-publish (or use a vanity press), you invest a hefty sum of money―usually $10,000 or more. You must store hundreds of books in your basement or pay for warehousing. Your book is in print and usually on the shelves in less than six months. If you use a Print-On-Demand publisher (POD), you invest a minimal amount―usually less than $2000.00. You receive 2 – 40 FREE books to do with as you please, and your book is in print in about two months.

Traditional Publishing:

With traditional publishing, a writer must abide by strict guidelines and every publisher has their own specific preferences. Some of the ‘big houses’ such as Berkley, and Random House will not even consider looking at an author if the writer does not have an agent. Most will not accept unsolicited work (which means simply that they have to request to see your manuscript, whether through an agent or as a result of your query letter).

The most important step is the query letter, and there is one rule to follow. The same rule applies to any piece of work you write, and is what I call The Three Firsts – first sentence, first paragraph and first page. The first sentence must grab your audience (even a potential publisher) and should contain the title of your work. It must give them a reason to read further and ‘hook’ them into wanting to read more. The first paragraph must give an even stronger hook; otherwise, your query will be filed…in the trashcan. The first and ONLY page in a query letter should answer the 5 W’s (who, what, where, when, why) and how. Who will buy and read your work? What is the plot? Where does the story take place and where do you see it going? When will it be finished? Why will the public be interested and why should that publisher invest their time and money in you and your work? And how are you going to help promote your work after it’s finished?

Once you’ve sent a query letter, you may be required to wait up to 6 months for an answer. If you have not already been published, or if your query letter did not grab their attention, you will receive a standard form letter, a.k.a. the rejection letter. If the publisher is interested, he may ask you to submit a proposal or plot summary and a few sample chapters. This may sit on his desk for months before he digs through the slush-pile of submissions he receives daily.
During the editing stage, the editor assigned to you will ruthlessly cut, shred and tighten your story, to their satisfaction. Sometimes you may agree with their editorial scissoring, and other times you may not. Some editors will work with you and help you churn out a top-notch novel. Others may wield their power over you until you feel someone else has written your story.

With a traditional publisher your book could take years before it sees the bookstore shelves. In the process, the publisher will determine the cover design (you may have some input, but usually the publisher makes the final decision). In most cases, you will make less than a dollar per book sold.

There are, however, undeniable benefits to being published by a traditional publisher. These books are accepted and found on most bookstore shelves. These books are returnable; this is an advantage for the customer but a disadvantage for the author as a large percentage of traditionally published books are returned or damaged. A ‘big house’ publisher will spend money on promoting you and your work; they will often arrange for interviews, appearances and booksignings. Your work will qualify for more contests, be considered more readily for movie options and, in general, you will be regarded as a professional author.

Self-Publishing:

You can self-publish your book by taking your files to a printer, having them do a large run of copies, and finding a bookbinder to bind the cover or using a vanity press self-publisher to do everything. Years ago I self-published three books. I hired a layout editor, a printer and a bookbinder to publish my children’s books. By the time I was finished, I had paid $150.00 for 18 hardcover, picture book prototypes―$150.00 each! My childcare directories were cheaper to publish (they cost about $5.00 each for about 100 copies) They sold for $5.99 so I made very little from them. (I still have unsold copies sitting in my basement.)

With self-publishing the biggest drawback is that you will usually have to invest thousands of dollars to publish a large print run of your book. You can print off smaller runs of your book but that will affect your retail cost and profit. Some people have invested $10,000 to $20,000 (especially with vanity presses) for thousands of copies of their book, as this reduces the individual copy price drastically. This means that when you sell your book, the profit margin is greatly higher than what you would receive from a traditional publisher.

The downside to this is that these thousands of books must be packaged (usually shrink-wrapped and boxed) and then stored. This leads to additional costs and often to a basement loaded with boxes of books. Some authors who chose this method are still wading through the boxes of unsold books, after years of trying to market their work.

When you self-publish you must constantly find ways to market your own books. This means either hiring someone or spending hours per day organizing booksignings and trying to get your book onto a book distributor’s list. Most distributors will not even look at self-published books. Then there are the constant trips to the local bookstores, where even they will not look at you unless you are listed with a traditional publisher or a recognized POD publisher.

The advantages of self-publishing are that you have complete control over every aspect of your product―your book. You can design your own cover, layout the pages exactly the way you want, have the end product the size that you desire and market it wherever and however you feel. You can hire a publicist to help you, advertise any way and anywhere you want and schedule booksignings on your own schedule.

POD Publishing:

Print-On-Demand is becoming the wave of the future in the book publishing industry. POD publishers are sprouting up all over the world because there is a huge demand for publishing companies that will take anything the public can crank out. Consequently, anyone who wishes to be published CAN be published. While this is terrific for the person who simply wants to write his memoirs and keep it in the family, or for the grandmother who wants to leave behind a collection of family recipes, this method of publishing has its drawbacks for the serious author.

For a Canadian author, POD publishing requires a payment amount that ranges between $500.00 to $3500.00. This will usually pay for a specific package. Every POD is different in what they offer in their packages, and you must be careful of POD’s that do not disclose all fees up front. Many POD’s will charge for every process: ISBN numbers, printing costs, cover design, layout services, listing services, and internet or regular marketing services. A few companies actually give you your money’s worth―Trafford Publishing is one.

With Trafford Publishing, the largest POD company in Canada, they offer comprehensive packages, and even allow you to upgrade later by paying the difference. They promise to deliver a completed product in four to six weeks. I have personally used Trafford Publishing twice and have found their services beyond compare. There were no hidden charges, no waiting for email responses, and no issues with the finished products. In fact, both books were comparative to anything you’d find published by a ‘big house’ publisher.

Trafford was recently featured in PROFIT: Your Guide to Business Success and ranked 5th in the Top 100 Fastest Growing Companies in Canada. Over 4000 authors (representing 5500 titles) from more than 75 countries use Trafford’s service. 2% of all new titles published in North America, and about 250 new titles every month, come from Trafford Publishing.

There are other POD companies, as mentioned above. 1st Books, iUniverse, XLibris, and many more use the Print-On-Demand technology. You should always compare services. And there are things to look for before deciding which one to use. How long has this company been in business? This is a very important factor, especially with all the ‘fly-by-night’ POD’s that have come and gone. In general, you should not even consider a company unless it has a track record of at least 5 years.

The best way to find out how a company rates is to go directly to the source. Read testimonials from other authors that have used their services. Then ask the publisher for three names and email addresses not on the testimonial list. If the publisher will not release that information, check their site. Research their authors, find email addresses and contact them. It’s amazing what you will learn about a company by talking to the people who actually use their services. You will find out if the company is slow, if they return emails promptly, if there are unusual contract clauses, and if that company is worth your investment.

You should also thoroughly research the publisher online. Look for complaints or articles about the company and look especially for the publisher’s site. Warning: If the publisher does not have his own .com, .net or .ca website―STAY AWAY. Never deal with a “publisher” who uses a sub-site address. A serious, respectable publisher will always invest in a proper website! Otherwise you will be using “Joe-Blows” service or “Grandma Mae’s In-Home Publishing”. If a POD publisher expects to be taken seriously, they will invest in a professional site, hi-tech equipment and experienced staff.

Remember to ask the 5 W’s and How:

Who owns the company? Are they experienced as a publisher? Do they have the contacts to promote you? How many years have they published books?

What have they published so far? Do they have hundreds of satisfied customers…or two or three? Some ‘publishers’ have advertised their services when they have only self-published their own work. What technology do they use for their printing, or do they hire out?

Where will your books be promoted? Will you be listed with book distributors? Will your book appear on Amazon.com and other prestigious websites?

When will you have a complete final product in your hands? Some POD’s take up to six months before you have a finished product.

Why should you trust this company? What do they offer that is over and above the other POD’s? What are their policies? Ask for a copy of the agreement or contract ahead of time. Take it to a lawyer if you must.

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Cervical Cancer Staging Simplified

At the point when analyzed in a patient, cervical malignancy is gotten to with an “organizing” which decides the level of disease metastasis (spread). It likewise figures out which (assuming any) different organs are influenced by the illness. As cervical tumor for the most part includes both surgery and radiation treatment to cure it, a correct organizing is in this manner basic for the future soundness of the patient included.

In spite of the fact that disease arranging is not a correct science, it is in truth a decent endeavor at figuring out what ought to be done by help treat the patient. Different elements should likewise be thought about alongside the organizing. For instance: age, general wellbeing, past restorative history, and so on., are exceptionally vital elements that may have a direction on deciding any positive result for the patient.

The accompanying stages are utilized to help order cervical tumor (growth of the cervix):

1. Stage 0 – Abnormal cells are observed to be in the external layer (the main layer) of cells that line the uterus.

2. Stage I – Although still kept to the uterus, the cervix is presently included (organize I is additionally characterized into six gatherings relying on the span of the tumor [IA, IA1, IA1, IB, IB1, and IB2]).

3. Stage II – The disease has spread to provincial (adjacent) ranges, despite the fact that it is as yet contained to the pelvic region (arrange II is additionally characterized into two gatherings relying on whether the tumor has spread to the vagina [IIA] and [IIB] when it has entered more into the pelvic territory).

4. Fight III – Indicates that the malignancy has now metastasized all through the pelvic region (organize III is additionally characterized into two gatherings relying on whether the disease has metastasized to the lower 33% of the vagina [IIIA], or all the more comprehensively out of the pelvic sidewall [IIIB]).

5. Stage IV – Shows that the growth has now metastasized to other critical organs in the body (organize IV is additionally characterized into two gatherings relying on which organs have been influenced [IVA and IVB]):

Note: The higher the arranging number, the more the disease has progressed all through the body, and where a more forceful treatment design will be expected to help cure the patient (cure rates decrease as the organizing number increments). Treatment may incorporate the accompanying: surgery, radiation treatment, chemotherapy, and organic treatment.

How to Get a Job If No One Is Hiring

The most prevalent misguided judgment when the economy is not as much as extraordinary is that nobody is procuring. It’s quite never genuine that nobody is enlisting. What is genuine is that organizations have a tendency to streamline when difficulties are out of hand and keeping in mind that they may not authoritatively be enlisting, there is dependably space for somebody with a demonstrated reputation. Most occupation searchers are completely mindful that it’s simpler to land another position when you as of now have one and that is never more valid than when the economy is down.

The issue is that when you all of a sudden wind up without an occupation it can be hard to both manage the enthusiastic stun and hit the ground hurrying to discover another employment as fast as could be expected under the circumstances. This is the place your past systems administration aptitudes and additionally a refreshed resume become possibly the most important factor. You can promptly begin looking and reaching individuals telling them that you are searching for an occupation change (think: organizing and LinkedIn). It’s essential to truly delve in and begin to use the majority of your assets when you wind up in this circumstance. The more drawn out that you get yourself unemployed the harder it can appear to discover another employment. The whole procedure of hunting down a vocation can begin to feel extremely overpowering and horrid as the days, weeks, and months delay. When you end up out of work, begin to truly search for another occupation promptly. It’s a smart thought to dependably keep your resume, introductory letter, and LinkedIn profile exceptional and current for this correct reason.

It’s additionally vital to recall that you have a demonstrated record of achievement and you have been in the business world for various years. This instantly puts you in front of many applicants that are late graduates with no genuine experience. Tragically, numerous youngsters today don’t have the fitting business aptitudes, and accordingly many procuring directors are hesitant to talk with them. They have a huge pool of prepared candidates to look over so they decide on understanding. This works to support you on the off chance that you have down to earth understanding.

The most ideal approach to land a position when nobody is procuring is to recall that there is dependably space for somebody who is lively, determined and has a resume that shows them to be a resource for their manager.

Should I Hire A Property Manager or Self Manage My Vacation Rental Property?

If you would like to begin renting your vacation rental property there are plenty of things you need to choose. One of the primary items to consider is if you wish to rent and promote your property alone or hire a property manager instead. When I first began renting my property I decided to rent and promote it myself. I have now been managing the rental area of my property for pretty much 6 years. I have marketed my property on vacation rental websites, collected my money through Paypal, created my rental documents and managed all renter contact via email and phone. For quite possibly the most part it hasn’t been too difficult. However, you can find an amount of stress I’d personally prefer to not deal with and sometimes I’m wondering if I market my property sufficiently. Either method offers you results however you may like one more in comparison to the other. Here is some information about managing the property all by yourself or working with a property manager.

Self Managed

I have been a realtor for years and have worked with numerous property owners. I’ve also used services to rent vacation rental properties for family trips. There is actually a large number of property owners who manage their own property. I’m sure there are a variety of explanations why one may choose this method. Having said that I want to list my three reasons I decided to personally manage my property.

Profit – If you manage your own property there’ll not be a monthly fee to a property manager for marketing and renting your place. Usually there is a set bill every month and when anything abnormally occurs with the property there’d be an extra fee.

Control – Think about it, who doesn’t want complete control! The main purpose of my vacation property is to spend each available moment making memories with my family there. We merely rent the property to be able to pay for the yearly bills. It can be nice to choose who might rent your property to assure it will be taken care of while you are away. I haven’t always allowed the very best of renters stay at our property but for the most part we certainly have had great individuals that treat our property like it is their own.

Marketing – I’ve been a salesman for as long as I can remember. Of course I believe there isn’t anyone who can market my vacation property to potential renters a lot better than I am able to. I am currently using an online vacation rental website but there are many other methods as well. You can make your very own website of the property blogging about its features. I’ve seen vacation rental properties for rent on Craigslist. Also, as I mentioned you are able to promote your property on any one of the large vacation rental websites located on the Internet today.

Property Manager

If you decide you’d just rather outsource the renting and marketing of your vacation rental property to a property manager make sure you ultimately choose wisely. As a realtor I’ve met various sorts of property managers and this choice can be the difference of renting your property or not. As I’m sure you’re aware, most vacation rental properties tend to be found by renters through use of the Internet. I rarely notice a property being advertised in the newspaper or a magazine unless it’s for a timeshare. It is vital the property manager of your choice is heavily associated with marketing his customer properties on the Internet. A good way to locate a property manager, perhaps even seeing user feedback, can be searching the term property manager after which include the city where your residence can be found as part of the search term. This is a faster way to obtain a quick directory of property management companies local to your vacation rental property city. Do yourself a favor and interview at the very least 3 of them to find out which one will be capable to market your property the very best and who understands your preferences. It is important you feel confident with the property management company you choose to hire. Don’t forget to verify most of the following items below prior to hiring a property management company to rent and promote your vacation rental property.

1. Just how do they advertise heavily on the Internet? What other ways are they going to promote your property?
2. How do they interview potential renters? Do they contact you for final approval?
3. How do they verify the renters left the property as they found it?
4. How do they handle repairs when required for the property? Just what is their extra fee because of this service?
5. How much will they charge to rent your property on a monthly basis?

Profiting From Mismanaged Properties

Real estate investors instinctively pass on deals presented to them simply because the numbers don’t work. This is quite understandable, however sometimes a little more digging can uncover a simple reason for the property’s lack of cash flow. This issue often comes down to incompetent ownership which results in mismanaged properties.

Mismanaged properties or properties which are “underperforming” can be a virtual goldmine if you know how identify and capitalize on the true potential another investor simply is not realizing.

Owner incompetence typically comes down to six major issues. In most cases these issues can be remedied simply with a combination of good management practices, an understanding of fair market value pricing and rents in your neighbourhood and of course, injecting a little cash.

The following examples generally pertain to smaller multi-families (2 -20 units) however the principles can be applied to larger multi-families.

Below market value rents

This common faux pas stems from a lack of knowledge of fair market value in the area, resulting in a cash flow issue. If a property is at +/- breakeven cash flow at 100% occupancy, any vacancy results in the property owner having to cover any shortfall.

The solution is clear. Raising the rents even $100.00 per unit (depending on the number of units) can turn an apparent cash flow issue around. This can be more difficult process however, based on which province the property is in, and the Landlord/Tenant board guidelines of the particular province.

As the new buyer of a property, you have the option of requesting vacant possession. This allows you to reset the rental amounts at whatever the market will bear. It is not until you have set the rental amount that you are bound by most provincial Landlord & Tenant guidelines as to how much of an annual rental increase you are allowed.

It does need be said that by requesting vacant possession, you must abide by provincial laws which clearly state you must be either moving into the property yourself (or a family member) or you are intending to do significant renovations.

Absence of good property management

Lack of this skill is one of the biggest downfalls of any would be investor. This encompasses everything from improper screening during the tenant interview process to the daily aspects of running the property. Neglecting any of these areas will result in an underperforming property.

Without a rigid system in place to screen the tenants, owners subject themselves to delinquent rents, frequent vacancies and potentially large repair bills. Lack of initial tenant qualification, absence of urgency in collecting rents and not having proper eviction procedures in place are common characteristics of a mismanaged property.

Using property management or self – managing is another factor to consider. The novice investor often self manages to save money, however lack of efficiency is typically equated with the lack of time the investor has to dedicate to property management and ultimately the property suffers and becomes an underperformer.

Hiring an incapable property management company can also create an underperforming property. Property managers have been known to have poor screening procedures because they only get paid when a unit is tenanted. This is more common than you may expect. The bottom line is low rents and high turnover.

Often property managers also outsource repairs and “pad” the bills as extra income. If the owner was in control of the management, they would know exactly what the repair was, the cost of materials and labour necessary to fix the repair, not to mention the name and number of people in their database to do the repair.

If the property you are looking at is part of a condo corporation or strata, there could also be mismanagement of reserve funds. This is common and results in excessive monthly fees. Being on the condo/strata board and having a hand in how money is being spent can potentially bring down the monthly fees, thus enhancing the bottom line.

Ultimately by leaving the management to someone else or not managing the manager will often lead to underperformance. Negative results stemming from poor property management is also the main reason why many incompetent investors get out of property ownership.

Lack of routine maintenance

Lack of response to tenant requests of routine maintenance is the number one reason for turnover and vacancy. This obviously results in negative cash flow which contributes to underperformance.

This issue is very easy and inexpensive to correct. Hiring a caretaker instead of a property manager who has handyman skills allows payment of an hourly wage instead of an overall percentage rate and “padded” repair costs.

A caretaker can show units, perform tenant interviews, enforce leases, collect rents, deal with tenant issues and repairs as well as oversee more significant repairs to ensure they are done satisfactorily in terms of budget, schedule and quality workmanship, especially if you are an absentee owner.

I also make sure my tenants get a repair request sheet which forces the tenant to document each repair and creates a paper trail. This helps avoid any hearsay if an issue arises and gives the landlord incentive to get the repairs done within a reasonable amount of time. This goes a long way in creating long-term tenants, which in turn creates an efficient property.

Letting properties become rundown by neglecting routine maintenance

The properties being referred to are neighbourhood eyesores. Common characteristics are unkempt landscaping, clearly visible overdue repairs to even a makeshift car (or appliance) repair/storage facility on the driveway (or front lawn).

Not only does the incompetent investor have an undesirable looking property but probably thousands of dollars of renovations. These properties ultimately attract the type of tenant that nobody desires.

The good news is they can often be purchased for great deals and turned around into highly functioning properties with good tenants and great cash flow. To understand if it is worthwhile to get involved in such a project, it is important to ask yourself the following questions:

a) Is this an ugly property in a good area?

b) Are the repairs required cosmetic?

c) How much will the repairs cost?

d) If I do repair the property, will I be able to raise the rents enough to offset the costs?

e) At the proposed new rental amount, how long will it take to retrieve my capital expenditure?

f) If I do the repairs and raise the rents accordingly, will this property attract the type of tenant who will want to live in the neighbourhood and afford the “new” rental amount?

Not taking initiative in your eviction process

An incompetent owner who allows delinquent rent to perpetuate for months or is not familiar with the landlord/ tenant guidelines can create an inefficient property producing negative cash flow and tenants who often take over the property.

These owners can be very accommodating when it comes to negotiation for purchase as they are often looking to get out fast. Properties do not have to be in a bad area to get to this state, they simply have an inexperienced or neglectful landlord.

By demanding vacant possession, doing the necessary repairs and creating a new tenant base, these properties can be turned into gems.

Records mismanagement

Poor record keeping of rental income, repairs, employee payments, property management documents and even lack of formal lease agreements can “catch up” are signs of an incompetent owner. It is surprising the number of owners who run their business with cash and little documentation. This type of owner eventually must “wake up and smell the taxman”. A business can only survive like this for so long before the owner must change their ways or sell.

Repositioning Properties

Repositioning means turning a property into its highest and best use, which is what we have been talking about this far, essentially ensuring the highest potential earning capacity of a property. Let’s touch on the repositioning process.

A property that is very accessible to all amenities and transportation could be categorized as an “A” area, but the property could be older, run down and may have significant vacancy, therefore categorizing it as a “B” or even “C” property. A cash injection to improve the property to the standards of the “A” area may allow significant rental increase. Once the building is renovated and can justify higher rents with less vacancy, it is easier to refinance to get most or all of your renovation capital out, allowing you to repeat the process on another property.

Unfortunately we can’t reposition all properties. There are many building where the cost of improvement is excessive compared to the increased income expected, or perhaps the area just doesn’t warrant the effort. Proper diligence is everything.

When repositioning a property, implement a strategy for both the repairs and the management simultaneously. For the repair phase, make sure to:

a) Get at least 3 repair quotes to formulate a budget

b) Hire a project manager if the repairs are extensive; otherwise hire handymen who specialize in particular trades. Make sure they have referrals of past clients you can call, proper insurance and are willing to work within a schedule

c) Schedule the maintenance with the contractor or handyman for the quickest turnaround time and put the expected timelines in the contract, including bonuses for being on or under budget and time or penalties for being over

d) Base your contract on materials and labour separately

e) Make cosmetic improvements to create a safe and pleasant environment maximizing curb appeal. This will attract better tenants to the property and command a higher resale profit

For the management phase:

a) Hire a reliable caretaker or property manager; making sure they have referrals (call the referrals!)

b) Create a marketing plan to attract higher income tenants

c) Create a screening system and a tenant retention program for your caretaker or property manager

If you are keeping existing tenants, have your new manager:

a) Notify each tenant of the new management and give them a schedule for the upcoming renovations to their unit and the grounds

b) Give each tenant a repair request sheet(s)

c) Give the tenants a copy of the new “house rules” outlining expected behavior of both tenants and guests

d) Collect any rents which are in arrears and begin immediate eviction proceedings on those who refuse to comply

e) Alert the tenants of new rental rates on all renovated units. You can get exceptions from some Landlord/tenant boards to raise your rents higher than the annual allotment based on significant renovations or additions

f) Pay any non-compliant tenant a “moving” fee to leave

g) Begin new leases with all compliant tenants if possible

Repositioning properties is kind of like becoming the new coach of a losing sports team ¾’s through the season. (Sounds like the Leafs!) Use your skill and experience to inspire and help coordinate many non-functioning parts into an entity which has chemistry and gels.