My author website is almost done, and I’ll be updating the blog there starting… soonish. Pardon the dust.
Guess it was time I had an author website. The best editor in the universe just pinged me to say CP is acquiring my second novella. Scuze while I faint, cheer, feel proud of myself, and then get back to folding laundry. Even TWO TIME PUBLISHED WRITERS have to do chores until I can teach the dogs how to handle the delicates load.
Someone on a writer board where I hang out recently heard back from the publisher he really wanted… after a year. And after that long wait, the answer was “revise and resubmit.”
Okay, R&R is a good thing, not a bad thing. But a year? I know publishing moves slowly. I know things take time. I know an editor’s focus must be on contracted books, not slush.
But a year?
That’s… disrespectful. If your own guidelines say four months (which is already completely insane), and you realize you’re going to miss that mark, maybe… close submissions? Hire interns? Do something that acknowledges the value of the writer’s time?
The usual choice is even more rude to the author in the long run, and that’s to not accept any but agented submissions. The writer must find someone who will take 15% (and I am old enough to remember when it was 10%) in return for… well, still waiting for months to hear if a book is going to be bought or not. 15% of potential future earnings in return for what amounts to a foot in the door. The talented will still get through, but circus poodles have to jump through fewer hoops.
And at the same time that I’m completely disgusted with the sheer rudeness of it all, I am reminded of a quote from Terry Pratchett. When I first read this, I was still working in theater, and I laughed out loud in recognition. I find I laugh even harder now, and it’s very difficult to be disgusted and laugh at the same time. I prefer laughing.
“The money in the chorus isn’t very good, is it?!” [Christine] said.
“No.” It was less than you’d get for scrubbing floors. The reason was that, when you advertised a dirty floor, hundreds of hopefuls didn’t turn up.
There is an argument, oft-made by pirates, that by offering an artist’s work for free, that artist is gaining wider exposure and possibly more paying fans than might have otherwise encountered this artist.
I have made the argument before that the only thing an artist gets from exposure is death by pneumonia, but I will say that in the realm of music, this argument has proven to be at least somewhat true.
Here’s why I don’t think it applies to books. If you get a bit of a song in your head, you’re going to go looking for the rest of the song. And then the rest of the album. Songs are discrete elements, complete in and of themselves unless we are talking about Pink Floyd concept albums. A single pirated song could well serve as bait on a hook that, if taken, will result in the listener going out to get the album.
The parallel case in books is not pirated books – it would be single chapters or other kinds of excerpts. And those do work quite well as bait. My book contract specifically says I can use nearly a quarter of the whole book as an excerpt, just to make sure you as a reader reeeeeeeeeeeally want to pay the three bucks to find out how it ends. But no pirate site *I’ve* ever seen does chapters. No one is getting a sample of writing that inspires them to go buy the writer’s book. They’ve got the whole book, right there.
Does that possibly lead to future sales for that writer? It might. But here’s the problem with that for first time writers – if you pirate a first timer’s book, there won’t be a second time.
Sales figures are watched very closely. If someone’s book doesn’t sell, it’s an easy call for the publisher to not extend another contract. But most writers fall into a gray area. Not a runaway success, but not a failure. There’s a line, not a hard and fast one, but definitely a line between someone whose sales aren’t quite good enough and someone whose sales are nearly there.
The hundred pirated copies might have made the difference between a second contract and oblivion.
In conclusion, please don’t pirate my debut novella, or the kitten gets it.
If you are not a friend of Carina Press on Facebook (or of me/my page), then you haven’t seen my cover. My beautiful, beautiful cover:
If you do follow CP on Facebook, then you already saw my comment.
If not – look at the dude on the left. That looks EXACTLY the way Jack looked inside my head. Now look at the guy on the right. Yep, looks exactly like Ryan. Ryan has a hairy chest, but hair on covers is not fashionable. Still, I like men with secondary sexual characteristics, so I’m glad they didn’t twink the model out. Plus the back turned to the viewer looks so protective and sexy to me.
The woman looks like Lila, but Lila is a jeans and bandanna country girl, and would only wear that much makeup to the office party.
The river represents the New River, in southwestern Virginia where our tale takes place.
The swirly thing is the gateway to the parallel universe, the one that poor Jack accidentally steps through. I say poor Jack, because in Jack’s world, he’s married to Lila. In this world, Lila is married to Ryan. In both worlds, Jack and Ryan are best friends…
Overall, I could not be more pleased. I really feel like the artist nailed the cover, a real home run. Also, it proves that artists are better at covers than writers, because the fact sheet I turned over talked about afternoon sunlight, even though the climactic (no pun intended) scene happens by moonlight out on the deck overlooking the river.
I can’t freaking wait for launch! I don’t know how I’m going to survive two more months.
Two months? Well, that’s what it says on the ad banner they gave me:
I love DA’s industry news links. I especially love it because I am completely slammed between work, writing, and family (like, um, well, most of the authors I’ve met lately, so it’s not like I’m special). The roundup from Wednesday contains a lot of news important to both readers and writers, and it saves me the time tracking it all down myself. It’s not all serious – I mean, the bit about librarians and how many of them find nookie in the book stacks was pretty hilarious, and hey, that gives me an idea… NO, NO MORE IDEAS UNTIL I WRITE UP THE ONES I HAVE.
Anyway, one of the tidbits was how Barnes and Noble is advertising their Nook on a pirate site. It may not be intentional in that the ad went out to any site on the ad network. It is intentional in that B&N can exclude sites by keywords (like “file sharing” for example) and is getting a report from the ad seller showing the breakdown of results by site.
I’ve bought and sold online advertising. Here’s what I posted to DA:
“…one of the (admittedly minor) considerations is how the placement of the ad will affect the brand. Someone made the conscious decision to link the Nook with reading digital files however those files are acquired.
Now, I’m one of the people who said if Bob buys my future hardback, I don’t care how Bob “acquires” my digital file. But B&N isn’t Bob, and doesn’t care that most of the fans of a site like that don’t think like Bob.
“By any means necessary” is not acceptable doctrine when we’re talking about a luxury device. A more apt cliche is “when you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.”
I’ll have a bit of a rant next week about piracy and first time authors. A topic that is very near to my blackened heart.
Got my final cover I am dying to post it, make it my avatar, shout it to the world… but the publisher gets dibs on posting it to the blog first. /cry
It is wonderful in every possible way. So wonderful that I am breaking my own rule about spending money I don’t yet have in hand to buy an ad using it. I’m not going to bother buying anything at the big, expensive sites – that is my publisher’s job – but a little ad at one of the sites where I’ve been lurking ever since I started doing market research? Why not? It’s ten bucks and they’re lovely people. And I just want to see my cover out there online because I am basically a big nerd and THIS IS MY FIRST BOOK, Y’ALL. Oh my goodness, I’m really going to be published.
I have said in earlier posts that I ended up writing erotic fiction because that was what I could write from beginning to end. My other stories suffered from sagging middles, me writing myself into corners, and just plain boring me too much to bother finishing. The one exception is a science fiction tale that absorbs me, but it’s a complicated story that takes more straight hours to focus on than I have with multiple jobs and a toddler.
So erotic fiction it is.
I did a lot of market research when I realized this was where I was going. I read tons of guidelines and tons of samples to get a feel for the tone of each publisher. I read author websites, writer forums, and more. One thing I learned is that there are a lot of unspoken rules that as a reader I didn’t necessarily see. But if I wanted to sell my work, I needed to know where those invisible lines were drawn.
For example, I figured out pretty quickly that even in erotic romance the heroine does not have penetrative sex with anyone after she meets the hero. If the heroine is married, she does not have penetrative sex with anyone except her husband. Straight up erotica allows both scenarios, of course, and fantasy worlds have different rules, but if you’re writing erotic romance set in this world, you need to pay attention to those rules.
At least so that when you break them, you do it on purpose. The novella coming out in June came from me trying to figure out how I could justify a girl having sex with two men, and still call it erotic romance. Solution: Both men are her husbands, but one is from a parallel universe. What started as a purely a mental exercise turned into something original enough that the editor in chief of the press said she had never seen that particular plot before. So breaking rules has some big benefits, as long as you’re doing it consciously!
But to people who don’t write this stuff, the conventions are as exotic as the rule breaking. I was talking to a friend about some of the guidlelines for erotic publishing. Since he doesn’t read the genre, he was heartily amused to hear that “human stumbling into fairy ring orgy” was not only a common plot, but one that’s been done to death. I think the one that really broke him was the guideline on many sites that publish paranormal erotica:
* Absolutely no necrophilia. Undead doesn’t count.
The Carina Press blog is hosting various author interviews with CP editors. My turn was posted yesterday afternoon, and I’m all a-squee about it. Here it is!
I can’t say enough good things about her. Having never been through the edit process with fiction, I wasn’t sure what to expect. (With non-fiction, it can go in multiple ways. With some fields, I’m well-known enough that my material goes up without any question or review. That is unfortunate, actually, because I’m as prone to typos and repetition as anyone. With other fields, I’ll get the paper or the magazine to find that my material has been printed with a new title and six missing paragraphs even though I was under the required word count. Eh. It happens.)
The experience I had was so easy that I’m spoiled forever. All of her developmental edits vastly improved the story, as did the line edit. It was quick and easy. Her turnarounds were fast as hell, even though she has a huge number of writers to deal with. Our margin notes read like a sitcom script, only funny.
Her real genius came through in the revise and resubmit letter I got for my second novella. Anyone can edit something that is essentially done (although not everyone can put on a high shine). If the second one sells, it’ll be because of her suggestions.
I’m not her only writer to feel this way. The comment thread on the interview has a bunch of her writers popping up to cheer. Go cheer for her!
All the talk about how publishers attempting to charge hardback book prices on ebooks, plus the frustrations of DRM, plus geographical limitations put on digital books (?!) equals frustrated customers who are tempted to create and patronize BookNapster? It reminds me of an image my husband, a devoted movie lover, sent me a few weeks ago:
Yep. That’s about the size of it, right there.
We buy movies and books in this household, but let me tell you something. I bought a laptop from Craigslist last year, and when I told the seller I’d be bringing a DVD to test the drive, told me not to worry about it, he had one he’d throw in with the computer. I met up with him, tested everything else, and then hit play on the DVD program.
A movie that had opened that day started playing. Arr, me hearties. I still bought the computer – he had original discs and reg codes for the software.
But I didn’t throw out the pirated DVD. Actually, I forgot about it until my little guy figured out how to start the movie on my laptop, and then he got interested. Now it’s one of his favorites, and I swear I meant to buy a legit copy. But something bad happened. When my kid wants to watch one of the movies we’ve bought, it can take up to ten minutes – TEN MINUTES – to get the stupid thing playing. When my kid wants to watch the movie the nice Craigslist pirate gave us, we press play. I have four different jobs, and I don’t have a nanny. That ten minutes can be the difference between a deadline met and a deadline blown.
I won’t say I’d pay *extra* to be able to cut straight to the movie – a DVD is already twenty bucks at Best Buy – but I’d make a point of buying from a company that let me skip everything that wasn’t the movie.
I’ll post more on this topic eventually, but for now, I’m just going to say that I bitterly resent the fact that content companies, be they movie, book, or music, have gone so far around the bend trying to keep people from stealing (that’s what piracy is, stealing) that accessing and sharing your own material is a giant hassle. I honestly think Carina’s lack of DRM is going to help me, not hurt me, as an author.
My editor on Her Heart’s Divide, who is seriously the most fantastic editor I have worked with in ten years (go ahead, ask me about insightful criticism that turns a passage from acceptable to the high point of my writing day), is nearly as overscheduled as I am. Multitasking, fragmented scheduling, the whole caboodle.
She mentioned in the context of a promotional thing that she had some really specific things she loved about my book. Now, in an attempt to spare her my deep seated neurotic tendencies, I had never asked what she liked about the book. She’d given me plenty of positive feedback, but it was all about my writing, and not really the story.
I asked her if she’d mind sharing the specifics. At the exact moment I asked, she was on her way out the door, so she had to be pithy. She said she “loved how Lila was married but horny, and how Ryan had thick muscles, black hair, and he runs errands.”
Hey, who doesn’t love a dude who runs errands?