Friday, June 24, 2011

What to do if you are not going to the national conference

OK, so I'm not going, which sucks, because I love New York, and hanging with other writers and drinking, but I've tried to come up with things that will make me feel better being left behind.

1) Drink - not my usual, but a nice mohito maybe, or a fruity cocktail. I'll pretend I'm in a bar in NY while I drink it.

2) I'm going to read a lot. I'm reading the Karen MArie Moning Fae series and loving it. I'm onto book 2 and expect to get to book three before the other drunk writers return from the conference.

3) Work, on my writing - If I make it a really productive writing week, I know I'll feel better about not going.

4) Watch Tru Blood - because that show always cheers me up.

5) Buy a new pair of shoes - a guaranteed pick me up, always. A pair of wedge strappy sandals perhaps.

6) Not run - because if I'm not running through central park with Molly and Eileen, then screw getting exercise.

But truthfully, I'm mostly planning to work this week, try and finish up the edits on the current WIP. Because if I can't be at the conference, then what will make me feel better is being productive.

There you have it. Anyone else have any suggestions for what to do if you're not going to nationals?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I'm ready to be a Romance Writer...

I know we’ve all talked about the conference that’s happening next week a lot, but I have to say I am so ready. I have a very stressful day job that has gotten even more stressful since my assistant went on maternity leave. I don’t save lives or keep government secrets or protect American security. What I do is very pedantic. But in my neck of the world what I do is essential. And right now the pressure of it is killing me a little.

So I’m ready to be a Romance Writer. I’m ready to hear about how publishing is changing in radical ways, sales are shrinking across the board and contracts for new authors are unheard of. I’m ready to listen to how I’m killing my career by writing in strange historical time periods and be told that unless you’re doing some form of social networking (I’m not) then you’re dooming your chances of a successful career forever more.

Now you might think - isn’t that even MORE stress? How can a person who has developed an irrational fear of tornadoes (I live in New Jersey for pete’s sake) - which is really my subconscious telling me I’m stressed to the max - handle more stress?

But it’s different stress. It’s writer stress. I’m not the same person I am as a romance writer as I am at my day job.

I’m creative. I’m struggling. I’m a novice instead of an expert.

For whatever reason it does me good. For those of you out there coming to the conference and to my fellow DWT ladies who are coming… Come find me. Because I want to get drunk and talk about writing. I want to go to class and learn something new. I want that horrible feeling that says… you need to work harder or you will never get anywhere to settle in. I need to pretend to think I’m actually going to tweet as soon as I get home.

I’m ready to be a Romance Writer.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Book Launches

I just came home from a fabulous book launch party and once again felt like kicking myself for not having some kind of event when my books were released this spring.

But... on the other hand... I'm just not sure it's me. I do think for my next book I will try to have a launch, but it's definitely outside my comfort zone.

This party tonight, for the lovely Lesley Livingston's new release Once Every Never, was the kind of event I wish I could hold, but know I don't have the, um, whatever it takes to plan and host such an event.

She had actors in costumes! A stage! A musician playing! Free wine and beer! At least 200 people! Including Robert Sawyer, who's a pretty damn big name in the sci-fi world... (Among other things, he wrote the book that that TV show Flash Forward was based on.) And reps from both of her publishers, Harper Collins and Penguin showed up... (The new book is Penguin Canada, her previous series was HC in the US.) And her reading, well, she's an actor and it showed. So good.

I can't imagine the stress of planning and executing something like this event. I'd be imagining that no one would come... or that I'd get on stage and shake uncontrolably (whereas normally I'm good with public speaking) or that someone would heckle me and tell me to get over myself already.

Have you had a big book launch? Would you like to?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Because I have no place else to put this

I don't know what to do with this and it needs to go somewhere. This seemed like a place where I could process this.

During a family dinner on Friday night, my brother-in-law mentioned that while he was out mowing he'd run across "evidence" that a rather large animal had been on their property. They live out in the country and no longer have dogs. There was some discussion of what might be out there.

On Saturday, we all had lunch together (my aunt and uncle were visiting - we don't usually take ALL our meals together). I was a few minutes late and walked in to find a print out of several photos on the table. I looked and was sure I must be mistaken about what I was looking at. But no, I wasn't. It was a series of color photos of the "evidence" that my brother-in-law mentioned. In other words, they were photos of pooh. Four of them. Two of them with my brother-in-law's flip flop in the photo for scale.

And so began our luncheon chat . . .

Uncle Sam: That's quite large. Why, those must be at least an inch and a half in diameter.

My Sister: And look at those seeds. I thought it could be from a mountain lion, but I don't think they're carnivores.

Uncle Sam (peering more closely at the photos): You're right, girl. Those are seeds. Must be an omnivore, but it must be a big one. I mean, those piles are large and there are three of them.

My mother (who is having increasing difficulty talking these days): Were the fec-fec-feces fresh?

Okay. I have gotten through a lot of family moments like this one by reimagining them into scenes for books, but I've got nowhere to go with this. I cannot imagine what kind of book I would have to write to create a scene where everyone sits around discussing poo.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Getting in the Mood...

This is not what you think it is. Sorry to disappoint. Right now I am not in the mood for anything. I just want to watch tv and wait for Nationals to come. I can't write, books aren't holding my attention. My internal motor is revved up and I can't seem to relax into anything. All of this leads me to how specific a mood I have to be in for books. I have to be willing and ready for the world the books will foist upon me.

I started a book weeks ago. A historical - lots of promise, a historical jail break! But, man, could not get into it. Could. Not. Get. Into. It. I put it down, read all these YA books Maureen and Sinead give me - Divergent (amazing!) Incarceron (Good!) If I Stay (Amazing!) but they're all gone, now.

So, last night (after a truly disturbing Treme! Honestly, I can't watch that right before bed - it's too much!) I looked at the pile of books by my bed and picked up the historical jail break book - and I LOVED IT! I was swept right up! It was clever and subtle and I could have read for another hour if my husband wouldn't have beat me over the head with the book.

How about you guys? What books have you given a second chance and loved, despite a bad start? How many of you are killing time waiting for Nationals? How many of you were truly disturbed by Treme last night....

Friday, June 17, 2011

Characters I wish I'd written

I know I've written a similar post before, so consider this an update, but it's a constantly changing thing for me, based on which movies I've seen, what I've read and what shows are on Tv.

for starters, I'm intensely jealous of the character of Tyrion on Games of Thrones. I wish I'd written him, even concieved of a character with so much depth, so much more at play than his physical being.

Jenny Jones, by Maggie Osborne, is always a character I will love. So different from the standard romance heroine, but my favourite heroine for that reason.

Zadist (stupid name aside) - because he's, by a long shot, my favourite JR Ward hero and the first that comes to mind when I'm thinking of my favourite romance heroes.

Coach and Tami Taylor on Friday night Lights. Ok, technically two characters, but this portrayal of a marriage seems so true and the drama between them always feels real and the writers have never resorted to creating drama through infidelity, or misunderstandings or anything that would happen on another show.

I'm stopping there, but would love to hear other people's lists and the characters I missed, because I know I missed a lot of fascinating fictional people.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Housekeeping..

Not the actual house kind, but the writing kind. As I continue on “Steph’s Quest Toward Possible Self-Publishing” I realized it might be a good idea to figure out where all my stuff is. Do have all my manuscripts? Was everything backed up and more importantly can I retrieve what’s been backed up.

I’m a HUGE believer in backing up for obvious reasons, I’m sure we are all. Where I have problems (I have recently discovered) is in cleaning things up part. I thought I had a system, but really the system sucked.

I’ve probably gone through 6 or 7 computers since I started writing. I can’t imagine how many versions of Word.

Was I always moving everything forward to the new computer? Was I always converting all my older documents each time I upgraded? Was I carefully putting finalized edited versions of published books in easily accessible folders?

Am I asking multiple questions like this if the answer is anything but no?

No. I don’t have my old books. I have them on a bookshelf. I have the really old ones on floppy disks. (I don’t have a computer that takes a floppy disk anymore.) And even if I could find a way to load them, Word will only go back so far.

Why did I need to save everything, I mean it was already a book? See this was my 1990’s thinking. Now my 2011 self knows what an idiot I was.

I’m not na├»ve enough to think there is no way to retrieve, load and convert all this old stuff. I’m sure there is. But let this be a lesson to all you sloppy housekeeping writers. Each completed work should be migrated into a single document instead of left as 24 separate Word docs representing things like Chapter 1 and Chapter 1 A. Those documents should be stored in a folder with a name that makes sense.

Not… Stuff I Never Finished or… Stuff that is Almost Done, and my personal favorite…. Old Stuff.

And with each new version of WORD you upgrade to each completed/partial book should be updated and saved with that version.

I’m just starting to get into the whole idea of the HTML conversion and what all that means, so maybe it makes sense to store these documents differently, I don’t know.

But the point is you should be able to lay your hands on an electronic version of every completed manuscript or partial you have.

Sounds like a reasonable thing for a writer to know… Uh yeah not me.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Preparing for Conference

It's that time. Conference is two weeks away and I've just realized I have no postcards to hand out for my August book, no shoes or bag to go with the periwinkle cocktail dress and no business cards.

I am most worried about the bag. Luckily we'll be in New York City where someone will be offering to sell me bags on nearly every street corner unless that spot is taken by a pashmina salesperson or a felafel stand. I can't wait.

Oh, I'm working on my talk, too.

Who all's going? What do you have left to shop for? What are you preparing?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Suspense, Surprise and Cliffhangers

I've been doing a lot of thinking about the tension between readers and books. And how as a reader I need books that give me all kinds of tension. The can't put it down stay up too late to finish it tension. The can put it down at night but can't wait to pick it up again tension and the perfect subway reading tension - I don't miss my stop, but keeps me totally entertained for 20 minutes, two times a day - tension.

A varied diet of reading experiences. They can't all be ROOM. I would die.

But I want to write the can't put it down kind of tension.

So, I'm trying to figure it out - as we all are. And of course the best lessons in writing these days are on TV, so I started to look there and of course after last nights Game of Thrones I realized how it hit that painfully sweet spot between surprise, suspense and cliffhanger. We can survive without all three but as writers why not shoot high?

I'm reading Divergent right now and it's full of suspense. Lot's of questions, some more pressing than others. High stakes. I am totally enjoying this book, but I can put it down. No Surprises. No gasp out loud moments. I'm half way through and I'm sure they're coming, but...I'm halfway through. Surprise me already. Flip this world on it's ear. Yeah, Peter got stabbed in the eye - but I don't care about Peter. Tris' mom was Dauntless, sort of saw that coming. Plenty of suspense, no surprise. No cliffhangers. For all it's violence and high stakes, it's a low tension book.

I watched the first season of Deadwood back to back this weekend for a break from working. Oh, this show...it's a fail on so many levels. But it's success - those characters, that world building, those actors, carry it. It's the equivalent of a subway read for me. Basically, I'm reading for the voice, sort of like the first few Stephanie Plum books. I was invested in Seth and Alma. Trixie. Totally riveted by Ian McShane...but I skimmed to get to those parts I liked. And talk about a show that needed a couple of cliffhangers...something! Murder someone we care about! Surprise me.

The second season of True Blood infuriated me with it's false cliffhangers. It would create surprise and suspense by giving us an episode end that was totally staged. Remember when Bill went to go see the Queen because she was the only hope for something that I don't remember and when he walks in the room all we see is a woman's leg covered in blood? Oh My GOD! The queen is DEAD! Oh no what will happen now? The next episode it wasn't the queen's leg, but the woman she was feeding from? UGH! Stop playing with me. Stop creating tension where there isn't any - or make real tension! Lafayette is dead! No, he's not. Bill is dead! No...he's not. Enough all ready.

Which brings me to Game of Thrones. They've killed everyone that took us into that story and that world. Every hero, every villain - dead. Each time it was a gasp out loud moment. And last night when they killed Lord Stark - you'd think we lost the sympathetic center of that show. The driving story. Sean Bean, for crying out loud. But they didn't just kill him, they gave birth to a terrible new villian. A teenage boy totally out of control. And the same damn episode they give us scene after scene of other character's that just build our love, our investment. I'm more invested in the half-man's story now, then I ever was really in Lord Stark's. I liked Lord Stark, but come on! I LOVE Tyroine. The pregnant queen out there in the desert with the dying husband and the black magic...the new Lord Stark, so young and leading a rebellion. Starting the book with characters that you intend to kill off to make room for new heroes and villains that we are MORE invested in...and there are zombies!!!

Honest to god, I keep thinking that suspense is part of writing romance. It's ingrained. And Surprise... well, surprise will come to me, right? Those little moments of magic...I can't plan for that! Cliffhangers I can manufacture. How wrong I am. How totally wrong. I need to plan this stuff, plot it out, build it in. I can't leave these crucial ingredients to chance. Game of Thrones certainly isn't and it's the best thing out there.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Where do you go for information on the industry?

I used to feel like I was in the loop. I was part of a couple of writer's loops, I perused the bestseller lists, read a whole bunch of author and agent blogs and on top of that, I had a group of writers I regularly talked to who filled me in on what I'd missed.

And I still never felt well informed. I didn't see the chick lit collapse coming, never really predicted the rise and popularity of paranormal romance, until it was literally everywhere and I'd been reading great YA for well over a year before I realized how well it was doing in terms of sales.

I watched other authors, (usually already published) leap into a growing market, and always wondered how they knew to do that. Was it driven by a passion for storytelling? do they watch the markets carefully, are their agents advising them, or really, all three of the above.

Now as authors are grappling with electronic publishing, and self-publishing I feel like a few authors are approaching their decisions with such confidence, but most of us are in the dark and grappling for tid bits of real knowledge wherever we can find it.

I free admit, I am no longer well informed. It took up way too much of my free time, and never really added anything to my writing, so aside from one agent blog, and one review site, I'm not really keeping up to date on what is happening in the industry, but every other author I speak to, feels they are not well informed either.

So does anyone out there feel like they have access to really good industry information, and if so, where are you getting it?

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Produced, Written and Directed...

You all know that self publishing has been on my brain as we think about where publishing is heading. I’ve actually gathered some data that I will eventually share but I want to make sure I’ve gotten a wide range of information. The one thing I’m certain of, and this should come as no shock, is that if you want to self publish a novel that has not been PREVIOUSLY published (that’s the kicker here folks) you’re going to have to invest in it if you want a quality product.

Even if you publish your previously published backlist you’re going to have to invest, but it’s minor in comparison.

That’s why the risk/reward of putting up a backlist a no brainer. Spend a little money, have a chance to earn money back on a book that was previously dead.

But with true self publishing you’re going to need to seriously invest to have something worthy of earning a profit.

It makes sense. I’m not just a writer putting up my material on line so people can read it. I really have to be a publisher. I have to make decisions about the title that I think will attract people. I have to make those same decisions for the cover art. I was on a loop where the author spoke about being thrilled to have control over her own cover art.

Me… it makes me tremble in my bootstraps. (Just in case you were wondering I don’t really wear bootstraps.) I’m not a visual person. Any title I’ve ever come up with has sucked and been changed. I’ve never even submitted an alternative title that’s been accepted.

It takes me back to M. Night Shyamalan and his movies. The Sixth Sense proves that one person can do all things and do them well. The Happening proves that one person cannot. The Village is probably where most of us will fall which is somewhere in between.

I was watching that movie the other night and there are so many things that I love about it and so many things that I hate. I just wish someone had pointed out a few of those things that were nonsensical which he could have done better. If he had more input, if he worked with a team of people instead of just taking his own counsel, might have he been better served?

Just another thing to think about if you decide to self publish. You now become Publisher, Writer and Marketer.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

#YASAVES

This weekend a WSJ journalist wrote an opinion piece about young adult books that, well, most writers and fans of young adult fiction really took exception to. The basic assertion was that the content in YA books was too dark, or too graphic, or too real. That if teens read this stuff, they'd think, "Wow, if the girl in this book is a cutter, I guess that's cool and I should be a cutter, too," or "Wow, the kid in this book was raped. I should find someone to rape me, so I can have that experience, too!" or "Wow, if these kids are fighting to the death on a reality TV show in the future, maybe I should kill my friend at school tomorrow."

Now, I'm definitely taking license with the woman's article, but it annoyed me, as it did many others. And she used words like "depravity" and "grueling" to describe the content of great books, so I don't feel too bad about a little exaggeration.

Tons of people have responded to the WSJ article way earlier and way better than I could, but I thought I'd summarize a few thoughts here and recap the excitement for those of you who missed it.

What went down:

I'm honestly not certain when writers first took notice of the article, probably when some of the authors mentioned, like Jackie Keesler and Judy Blume and Cheryl Rainfield got google alerts, or who first started the hashtag, (hashtags are basically a way to label tweets so they can be viewed all together) but I first became aware when Cheryl (who's a local author and a friend) sent me an e-mail asking me to help spread the word. In a nutshell, using the #YASAVES hashtag, the twitterverse was challenged to speak up if reading YA books helped them cope with their adolescence.

Then over the next days, many, many authors and readers and editors responded, pointing out the weak logic in this woman's argument. Here are some of the "top tweets" using this hashtag.




And the hashtag is still active. Very active. Clearly this article/issue has people worked up. And look at the list of people weighing in: Beth Revis, Neil Gaiman and Judy Freaking Blume!

Following this hashtag for a while, I discovered this fabulous poem/reading by Laurie Halse Anderson that she wrote to summarize all the letters she's received from teens talking about how her book Speak helped them cope with their own traumatic experiences.




Linda Holmes at NPR wrote an excellent response, as have many others... The reaction clearly demonstrated the power of social networking tools to rally people behind a cause...

There were many, many good points made, but I think the one tweet I read that made me laugh and nod my head all at once was something to the effect of:

So, it's the kids who are reading we're worrying about?

I think that sums it up for me. Reading fiction builds empathy, helps us see things from someone else's perspective and/or think about issues in ways we wouldn't have otherwise. (There have been studies; this isn't just my opinion.) How can helping kids see the world in a broader way and/or gain empathy for other kids in difficult (sometimes horrendous) situations be bad? How can reading and using their imaginations and expanding their minds be bad?

I do get that parents might wish that their teens were still reading the tame sweet books of their childhoods, but kids grow up, and regardless of the content and nature of YA fiction, teens who love reading will be sampling darker fare. Why? Because if the only available teen fiction is too sweet and passes all the "suitable for young teens" censors, then kids won't read those books. They'll move straight to adult fiction.

And let me tell you, I read some pretty inappropriate books for my age as a teen, books with elements I couldn't relate to and/or didn't understand. But there weren't any books aimed at teens worth reading when I was one. Or at least not enough of them to keep a voracious reader occupied. (And yet, I still grew up to be a (fairly) productive member of society and didn't try to emulate any of the characters in the books by Sidney Sheldon, or Judith Krantz or Jacqueline Susann or Mario Puzo or Erica Jong or VC Andrews -- all authors I read in my teens. And that's just off the top of my head.)

And adult books have only become more, um, adult in the past few decades. Isn't it better that teens now have a great selection of books that speak to them directly and that they actually want to read???

All over the world, kids are shouting, "Finally! Books with characters I can relate to in stories that don't treat me like a baby."

I hear them. Don't you?

#YASAVES

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

An inability to follow instructions

I sewed a purse lining this weekend. Actually, I sewed three purse linings, but one finally worked. The first one would have probably worked except I sewed the wrong sides together. Or maybe I cut it out sideways. I did something strange to the corners of the second one. The third one isn't really right, but it was close enough to put inside the purse and tack into place.

Basically I found instructions on the internet, read them carefully several times and then proceeded to do something entirely different from what they said to do. This is the story of my life. It's a pattern that I can't follow a pattern.

I look at something, see how it basically works and then fling myself into it blindly. It occurred to me as I was cursing myself that this was pretty much how I learned to write as well. I read most of a craft book, I get a sense of what they're saying and then suddenly I'm flying blind and solo.

In some ways, this has worked well for me. I entered my first chick lit novel in precisely one contest before it was published. I got the judges' comments after the book had already been bought (luckily). One of the judges wrote me this long sincere note. It was very sweet. She thought I had talent, but there was no way that a humorous book written in first person was ever going to sell. If I'd known that before I'd written it, or paid attention to the pattern, I might never have gotten my foot in the door in publishing.

But here's the ironic thing, I may not be able to follow a pattern, but I also can't start without one. Without those internet instructions on purse linings, I would have just sat there staring sadly into my plarn cocktail purse thinking about how much more awesome it would be with a lining. Ditto with books. I may not be able to fully follow a pattern, but I need some kind of blueprint before I start. I think it's why I enjoy writing genre fiction.

So how about you? Are you a pattern follower? A recipe person? Or do you just fling yourself out there?

Friday, June 03, 2011

Origin Stories

I will admit, I don't get out very much to see movies. I hope to some day, but right now I read reviews and formulate blog posts on my opinions of movies I haven't seen.

For the second or third year in a row, there are tons of superhero movies coming out. Probably because they make money, and surprisingly, many are quite good. The latest is the X-Men, and I think they actually called it Origins, and it's coming out to great reviews.

As did Thor, another movie that got great reviews and one I actually saw.

Two more coming out are Green Lantern and Captain America. But these movies all have one thing in common. They are basically the story of how these people grew into becoming superheroes. In the simplest form, they all boil down to how they discovered their powers and how they learned to harness them and overcome the internal issue that really stopped them from being a hero. It's basically a character arc story.

Thor definitely was, with the hero learning humility and true heroism in the loss, and then regaining of his powers.

going back a few summers, so was Iron Man, basically a man learning to be heroic, as was another great superhero movie, the new Batman, with Christian Bale.

There's a lot of room for drama and depth in an origin story, but if the second Iron man taught us anything, it's that, what do you do in movies 2, 3 and so on. Once a man is a hero, how do you create another compelling movie, when he's already grown, developed, is already a hero?

The only movie that has solved that issue is the Dark Knight, but that movie was as much about the villains as it was the hero and what it did was take two face and explain how he went from good guy to villain, so it did the whole origin story backwards.

It applies a lot in YA as well. With a lot of books developed as a series of three books, how do you take a completed arc in book 1 and continue to make the story interesting? I like how Carrie Ryan did it, by changing her protagonist in each book of the Forest of Hands and Teeth series.

Others I can think of were less successful. I loved the Maze Runner, but found the Scorch Trials less successful, because the hero had already developed the traits that made him a hero and so it felt repetitious.

I go back and forth, but sometimes I think it's better to develop a stand alone book, then try and create a series. Not sure publishers agree from a sales perspective, but how do you keep the second and third in a series fresh and exciting?

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Data, data, data... I need me some.

I think it was Sherlock Holmes who said this. I might be paraphrasing but you get the drift. I’ve been driving both Molly and Karen W (a regular DWT follower) crazy on the subject of self-publishing and my inability to make a decision. Both have offered good sound advice. Advice that I value like gold. They are both really smart really professional writers.

But still I sit on the fence. I’m actually waiting until Nationals which I think (not sure why) is going to be EPIC this year as we see authors, publishers and agents take sides in the growing trend of self-publishing.

I realize the reason I’m so wishy washy on this is that I need more data. I’m a very decisive person when I know my options. But as many things are in publishing so much is unknown. As authors, we are not a group of people who work in the same building day in and day out. We can’t have regular weekly status meetings to discuss what’s happening real time. Heck we may only see each other once a year. How can we as a group make informed decisions without this connection, or is it just every woman for herself.

I recently renewed my membership with Ninc, an organization of multiple published writers, for this very reason. I need some more data. And thank heaven we do at least now have groups/loops and such where we can communicate and ask questions.

What are the true costs of self publishing? What are standard copy-editor fees? Where can you obtain cover art? Can I employ my own graphic artists? What are those fees like?

There is a tremendous amount of buzz about literary agents transitioning into book packagers. (we won’t even get into that debate – but again I think it’s going to be huge as agents try to carve out a market for themselves in this ever changing industry) But what I have to know before I would even consider such a thing is what are the numbers?

What are typical average monthly returns for ebooks in my genre? Compare that against the costs and what percentage makes sense for an agent if they do join you in this effort? And should it be a percentage or flat fees for services?

Now I know Karen will chime in here with a DIY message, but she forgets how lazy I am. I pay someone to clean my house even though I can do it myself cheaper. So paying someone to do copyediting, picking out cover art and titles is something I might be willing to consider for the right price. And what if the agency goes beyond that and offers marketing options?

But I need the data. What’s the spectrum of self-publishing? We all know the self-publishing phenoms who are landing million dollar NY contracts because of their success. But what’s the other end like? And how much can that figure change if you have a presence on Twitter and Facebook etc...?

These are questions I think we really need answers for before we can make what could be career changing decisions. How do mainstream publishers feel about established published authors self-publishing drawer books? How do agents feel about a work they previously attempted to get published but failed that is now making money on Amazon with no return for themselves? Does this impact the editor/writer or agent/writer relationship?

I have no clue. And so often in the publishing world we writers don’t. So yep I’m going to go to Nationals and listen and listen. Madeleine Hunter held an excellent round table discussion at the NJ conference last year. I’ll be interested to see what has changed just in that short amount of time.

It’s a whole new world folks. And I (like I’m sure others out there) am just starting to dip my toe into the water. But frankly I need to know what’s waiting for me in that water before I’m willing to take the plunge.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Wild Wild West Publishing

I don't think there has been a time since the invention of the printing press during which publishing has gone through such incredible changes.

Yes, I suppose the consolidation that happened over the past few decades, where all the smaller publishing houses were bought by the entertainment multinationals, was big, but I assert that the current changes are bigger. At least from the author's perspective.

A month or so ago, everyone was a-twitter, (literally, and metaphorically), about the news that Barry Eisler and Connie Brockway were leaving their publishers to self-publish in digital format only. And at the same time, that self-pubbed phenom Amanda Hocking was moving to a mainstream publisher.

I wasn't sure what I thought of it all. And I certainly wasn't confident enough in my opinions to say anything publicly. But now that the actual facts re: Eisler and Brockway are out, I've just been nodding my head.

Yes, the world is changing, fast, but at least now their decisions make more sense to me.

When I heard these bestselling authors were self-publishing I thought they were brave, and maybe a little arrogant (to believe their publishers had so little impact on their success), and I did wonder whether they were making a huge mistake or whether they were the smartest authors on the planet, forging new ground, getting higher royalty rates, and getting tons of free publicity by being at the forefront of a new wave (and thereby upping their chances of success).

But now I see that Eisler and Brockway (and Konrath) are in fact going through a publisher -- but a very different kind of publisher, Amazon. A publisher who's going to focus on the digital market, and who's got the marketing savvy and power and cred to up the chances that a book gets noticed. Now that I understand that,  I just think these authors are smart. Probably.

And saying things like print rights are now subsidiary rights of the main digital contract, or print versions of books are great marketing tools for the digital version... Well, that's bold and quite possibly how the industry will develop. Perhaps sooner than any of us could imagine. Who knows....

When did publishing turn from a boring sedate business into the Wild Wild West?
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