On publishing lemmings, second books in a series and other random thoughts

As you can tell from the title of this post, my brain is populated by idea bunnies hopped up on too much caffeine. Worse, they are being selfish and not sharing the caffeine. That would usually result in some bunny sacrifices — after all, it is very dangerous to get between me and coffee in the morning. Ask the poor maid at the hotel in San Francisco a few years ago who made the supreme mistake of bringing decaf…DECAF…to the room when we called for more coffee for the coffeemaker — but the bunnies today resemble the Killer Rabbit of Monty Python and the Holy Grail and scare me. So, I’m going to share them with you, hoping as I do that they take pity on me and share some of the caffeine.

Let’s start with the publishing lemmings. In case you haven’t heard yet, Penguin has decided that it will no longer offer e-books to libraries through OverDrive. This is, in fact, the second time Penguin has pulled e-books from libraries. There are all sorts of reasons being bandied about. They range from Penguin’s paranoia that lending e-books will cause a decline in sales (gee, wonder how long it will be before they realize that this same argument can be applied to the lending of “real” books), that it will cause an increase in piracy because library patrons will crack the drm and them put the e-books up on torrent sites, etc. (after all, we know only the riffraff use libraries), that Penguin isn’t being paid enough for e-book lending, that Penguin is upset that it can’t tell OverDrive to limit how e-books are delivered to e-book readers, that Penguin can’t limit the number of times an e-book is loaned out to a number so ridiculously low as to be criminal, to the paranoia legacy publishers have about Amazon.

In other words, Penguin is following its fellow lemmings in the publishing world as they run off the edge of the cliff of continued viability.

My take on it is that all of the above reasons have played a part in the decision and it is a decision that flies in the face of reason. How many times have any of us borrowed a book from the library, liked it so much we either went out and bought that book or we bought other books by that author? The same thing applies to e-books. People will buy based on finding a book or author they like, no matter what the medium. So, sales lost not only because Penguin isn’t putting the titles in the digital hands of readers but because of the loss of good will as well.

Increasing the stupidity, Penguin will also be withdrawing audiobooks from OverDrive. Yep, you read that right. Audiobooks will also no longer be offered for download. If this doesn’t show a serious lack of judgment, I don’t know what does. It also shows that Penguin is only interested in its traditional publishing side. The audio and digital sides are the poor step-children, relegated to the cellar in the hopes that everyone will soon forget they ever existed.

Penguin and other legacy publishers who share this hope, I have one thing to say: that ain’t gonna happen.

This whole thing boils down to the fact that Penguin is terrified that people will sit at home and download wirelessly to their kindles a library book. That’s too easy. It will keep people from going to the library. It will keep people from going to the bookstores. It will kill traditional publishing. It is EVIL.

Sorry, no. You can log onto overdrive from any computer or tablet or smartphone. You don’t have to go to the library to do so. No matter what your e-book reader, you can then download the e-book. Yes, you can do so directly to your Kindle as opposed to some of the other e-book readers. But most folks aren’t browsing the Overdrive catalog — or even the Amazon catalog — on their kindles. They do it on their computers and then either download to the computer and side load to their kindle, or tell the download to go to the kindle. The only difference is whether you actually add the usb cable step of side loading or not.

This is simply another piece of evidence showing just how out of touch Penguin and other legacy publishers are when it comes to e-books. These publishers are willing to remove an income stream — something exceedingly stupid for an industry struggling to survive — as well as being willing to remove a potential income stream. Then they wonder why, as we look at such foolish decisions, authors are not only beginning to question why they should stay with legacy publishers but are fleeing the sinking ship. So, instead of bringing in new corporate blood that understands the changing market and is willing to embrace that change, the old guard stands on the bow of the ship, watching those with a clue racing for the lifeboat of self-publishing and small press publishing. By the time legacy publishers finally implement a workable new business plan, it very well may be too late — for them.

For more on this, check out these links:

Okay, the bunnies have finally given me a cup of coffee, so I’ll move on.

The second book in my Nocturnal Lives series, Nocturnal Serenade has been out for a couple of weeks now.  In some ways, this book was a lot harder to write than the first book of the series, Nocturnal Origins. For one thing, some of the threads I’d started weaving in the first book had to be dealt with in the second. I also had to figure out how to continue the character development, all the while not changing the characters too much or too unexpectedly. What wound up happening was that some characters took turns I didn’t expect. Specifically, one I’d planned on being a very minor character wound up becoming a major player — and will be back in subsequent books — while another turned out not to be what I expected.

Now these characters, who had been playing havoc with my trying to write anything else by demanding I write Serenade, have gone silent. No, that’s not quite right. Now they have decided it’s fun to play with my brain. I have a short story set in that world that is seriously overdue. It shouldn’t be difficult to write, not when I know these characters so well. Unfortunately, they aren’t playing fair. I sit down to write the story and the voice isn’t right. Then it decides the POV character isn’t right. Then it decides it wants to be written in first person — FIRST PERSON! — then it’s back to wanting to be in third person. And that’s when my head explodes — again. When I protest, they laugh.

Before you say to punish them by working on something else, well, tried that. Didn’t work. Why? Because they were right there, laughing and pointing fingers and telling me I was a wuss for running away. No, really, I haven’t lost my mind. Well, at least no more than usual. I am a writer, after all.

So, today I’m going to take away their kibble, threaten them with the killer bunnies and try to pound out the story. Keep your fingers crossed. With my luck, they’ll make friends with the bunnies and then make common cause against me. Guess I’ll keep the rolled up newspaper close by to swat their noses if it comes to that. Sigh.

Finally, it’s Valentine’s Day. I hope everyone has a great day. Consider giving your favorite author a Valentine’s gift by supporting him or her either by buying one of their books or e-books or simply by posting a review on Amazon/B&N or by recommending or gifting one of their books to someone you know.

 

8 comments

  1. Amanda, I’d loan you Drak (the Book Loving Dragon) to help you keep your characters in line, but I’m afraid he’d go prowling through your head looking for more stories. [Wink]

  2. I hope your character confusion settles, because I’m hooked. I downloaded Origins and it’s quite amusing. Serenade shall be next and then….hello…….I’ll send you some full strength expresso if that’s what is needed.

    Happy Valentine’s Day! Maybe I’ll go try to save a lemming from leaping today.

    1. Joanne, thanks. Hope you enjoy them both. I had a blast writing them, even if certain characters didn’t do what I wanted — or expected.

      Hope you had a great Valentine’s Day and I will take that espresso any time.

  3. Second novels in a series are a right bitch because they tend to be transitional, opening up to the rest of the series, so they often feel overloaded with bits and pieces that don’t flow.

  4. I’m a sort-of-pantser. I have to have a clear idea where the incident is going before I start, but once that’s in mind the rest comes as it comes.

    As such, I will share with you the most useful keyboard-mouse sequence in existence for a pantser writer: click, [Shift], click, [Delete]. When a belligerent character bulls in and starts diverting the story line, just go with it. When it’s done, and Mr. or Ms. Obstreperous is self-satisfiedly observing the wasteland remaining of the book-planning you did — click, [Shift], click, [Delete]. Gone to the great Bit Bucket (in the sky or otherwise, you don’t care) and all that’s left is the heading: Chapter XXX. Whether it’s the Muse getting the hint, or just a case of getting an obsession out of your own system, letting it go, then deleting it, seems to work wonders, and I recommend the procedure to you.

    Regards,
    Ric

    1. Ric, obviously your characters aren’t as doggedly stubborn as mine are. I delete, they return. I swear, sometimes they return to the page AFTER I’ve turned off the computer. Maybe those gremlins Sarah wrote about over at According to Hoyt today are involved. That’s it! It’s a conspiracy to drive me even further insane.

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