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.
There are some unwritten rules in erotic romance that I’m okay with following. The heroes are always well-hung, for example. TOTALLY okay with that rule.
But there are other “rules” that don’t sit so well with me. Hair, for example. Real men have hair. They have it on their faces, backs, chests, and bellies. I don’t go out of my way to describe a hairy back, mind you, although I personally like it (there, I said it) but all of my heroes have chest hair – crisp, curly chest hair that holds the scent of soap and warm skin – and that hair gives my heroines tactile pleasure.
I was just reading a study where women’s preferences can be correlated to local health. In areas where the overall community health is bad, women dig men with lots of hair, thicker bones, visible musculature. In areas where community health is good, women go for thinner bodies, more delicate features, and less to no hair. The conclusion is that the heavily apparent secondary sexual characteristics are survival markers – denoting men whose genetic health gives them an advantage in an environment without a lot of available interventions.
I wouldn’t want any man who couldn’t defend me during the zombie apocalypse. Some of my heroes are gentle, kind of nerdy men, but they’re still men capable of kicking ass, taking names, and lifting heavy things. My guys don’t just act like alpha men – they look like alpha men. That means hair. Down with waxing! Up with surviving the apocalypse!
I love Dan Savage. I could go on about how he’s the only advice columnist anyone can trust, and I could babble on about how much I love his books, or I could just give you the latest reason for my affection:
You are a huge pussy, CTOAC—excuse me, sorry. Pussies are powerful; they can take pummeling and spit out a brand-new human being. What you are, CTOAC, is weak, vulnerable, and far too sensitive for your own good.
What you are is a ball sack.
I don’t think people realize the cumulative effects of having your body parts used as an insult. It’s like water on sandstone – eventually, there’s going to be a big empty space any passing animal can pee into. If you want to suggest someone is wimpy, worthless, or somehow lesser, call them something that boils down to “a girl.” A “dick” is someone who is a jerk, who takes what he wants regardless of how other people feel, who makes himself happy. Someone with power, and even when you’re insulting him with this pathetic and flaccid excuse for a pejorative, you’re still acknowledging his power. (Tellingly, “flaccid” is a much stronger insult in the context of our language and society.) But a “pussy” isn’t worth any respect at all. And when we use the words of the dominant culture to express our own frustrations, we’re declaring our support for that dominant culture without regard to the costs to ourselves.
Words matter. Don’t use them casually.
I needed two of my characters to not have sex. Fear of pregnancy is certainly a very good reason. I thought about having my heroine count the days, but just for giggles, and by giggles I mean “because I am a hopeless research nerd,” I looked it up to make sure the Victorians knew about that tidbit.
Women didn’t know about counting the days from one’s last period to determine the fertile window until the 1920s.
This was made worse by the fact that condoms were not widely available, and in some places only sold to married men.
You don’t think about just how liberating birth control was, just how great a degree of freedom is conferred by managing one’s own fertility, until you get smacked in the face with it. I have never known a time when I couldn’t just bop into 7/11 for condoms, or wander into a clinic and emerge with birth control pills, or at bare freaking minimum count days and say, eh, the curse starts tomorrowish so we’re probably clear. Also, while the consequences to getting pregnant unintentionally and outside of marriage would have had a massive impact on my life, I would not have had to cope with any societal disapproval, nor would my single mother status have any impact on my ability to be employed or rent an apartment.
What an impact this would have on a sexual relationship!
This is why good historical fiction isn’t “girls like us but in costume.” Some aspects of being a woman are universal across time and space, but other things are so anchored in context as to be meaningless without it. I hope I’m up to the challenge…
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.
I can’t use the c-word in daily conversation.
Side note: As a young theater major, I had to take acting classes even though my intent was to be a director. In Acting I, there was an exercise we did before reading through plays with “dirty” language. Bear in mind the average age in the class was 18 and therefore a healthy percentage was still inclined to giggle over saying “penis.” Also, thanks to the rampant prudery of a minority terrorizing everyone threatening this and banning that, most high schools put on shows that might have been risque fifty years ago. I mean, my own high school did Blithe Spirit, Arsenic and Old Lace, and Hello Freaking Dolly. Edgy stuff. So anyway, to get us on track to handle any kind of language, we would chant certain words until they were just… words. The first uttering of “penis” traumatized the fluttery little southern belle I sat with. The twentieth, she was empowered, with “PENIS!” roaring forth. The fiftieth, she was as bored as I was.
I couldn’t say the c-word without horror even if I said it a million times.
That was awhile ago, but I’ve still got the hangup. In my stories, I say pussy, mainly. As I think I’ve said before on this blog, I’ll use the c-word for a particular effect, either to say something about the male or to show the female’s state of mind. But I avoid using it as a general word.
So, working on the steampunks, I’ve been pulling out my Victorian erotica, doing web research, and so on, to make sure I’m not using anachronistic language.
The c-word is period correct, as well as the variation “cunny.” As a matter of fact, the c-w0rd has an extensive pedigree, whereas “pussy” is really a vulva-come-lately of terms.
I learn something every day around here.
When I’m putting my toddler to bed, I use the time to think about my stories. Basically, it takes close to an hour, the room is dark, I can’t read or take notes… so I think things through and then race to the computer to type it all out as soon as he’s asleep.
The last three nights, I’ve had a particular image stuck in my head. There’s a man in his forties. He’s hiding a briefcase in an old house. Then he writes a note. The scene cuts to a nice house in a different neighborhood. Kids playing in the yard. Two police office come up. The lady of the house answers, covers her mouth in horror at what she hears. Cut scene to the first house. She’s cleaning things up, throwing out most of what she finds. She finds the briefcase. Inside is a whole hell of a lot of money.
Since I am working on an erotic steampunk, and I don’t write thrillers, you can see why this mental image isn’t doing me any good. I hope writing it down here will be like it is with song lyrics, whereby sharing it will get it stuck in someone else’s head.
No sick days.
If I don’t work, I don’t eat. Maybe not today, but on a future day where the crops sown today are harvested, there will be no harvest unless I get the seeds in the ground, the words on the page, and the websites updated.
Meanwhile, I want to go back to bed and have someone bring me juice with a bendy straw. I’m tempted to take the laptop to my bed and work there, but the sick kid is in that bed, and he’s not so sick that he wouldn’t want to touch the magic! buttons! All of them. Particularly the off button right when I’m in the middle of a hot idea.
Anyway, 1600 more words and I can go lie down. Today’s protip is “wash your hands after touching your friend’s boogery baby.”
Because it seemed like a nice day for tilting at a windmill, I posted in a message board discussion where one of the participants was slagging category romance. (If you’re not a romance reader, a category book is one of the very short books found in grocery stores as well as bookstores, with a cover that highlights the brand, not the title or the author. They come in categories – suspense, average girl heroines, rich man heroes, etc. Most category romances are published by Harlequin, so some people just call them “Harlequins,” even though Harlequin publishes tons of other stuff.)
Here’s what I said: “I liken category fiction to sonnet writing. A strict form (so strict that deviating from that form literally makes the result not a sonnet/category book), but total freedom to say anything within the form.
“*Most* books have the same plot, conflict, and resolution.”
I have tried to write category, and I have failed. Flat on my face, failed. I can’t work in all the requisite elements with enough development of any of them to satisfy a reasonably bright housepet, let alone a reader who consumes dozens of these things a month and won’t buy me a second time if the first one is crap. Anyone who has said, garsh, I’m gonna write me one of them Harlequins and make a million dollars has not actually tried to do it.
I don’t write them, so why defend them? The answer is that I adore golden age science fiction. Many of the arguments used to mock and belittle category romance were used against my favorite stories, with an extra vengeful little twist of misogyny. Me, I see a parallel.