They did What?

Today is one of those days when I couldn’t decide on a topic for a post. No, not because there isn’t anything out there that interested me but because too many things did. So I whittled it down to four. I’ll give a brief explanation, maybe a link or two for each one and then open it up to discussion. Topics will cover everything from going wide to the RWA withdrawing an award because the book–gasp–was controversial in all the “wrong” ways.

Going Wide:

I’ve been documenting my journey to go wide over the last couple of months. I now have one complete month under my belt with probably 3/4 of my catalog no longer Amazon exclusive and we are now 10 days into a new month. While that isn’t enough time to get a solid picture of how this venture is going to go, it does give a glimpse into what it might be.

Last month, I made more on the “wide” channels than I did on Amazon. Total sales across the board were on the par with an average month before going wide and certainly better than some of the months I’d seen this past year to year and a half. The loss of KU page reads was not felt due to the increased number of “sales” obtained through the other channels.

This month, I am on pace to outsell last month. Ten days in and my sales figures are already at slightly more than 2/3rds what I earned in July. I am selling approximately 12% more to wide channels than I am on Amazon right now. The loss of “page reads” doesn’t look to have any impact at all on the bottom line. And this is all done without any advertising except for blogging and sharing the blog on social media. The one note of surprise is that the series selling the best wide is the Honor & Duty series written under the Sam Schall pen name–a series that couldn’t get traction when I went wide before. But the others are picking up steam as well.

So, early days in, I call the experiment going wide a possible success but only time will tell.

Under the category of “Have You Lost Your Mind?”:

Last week, on my personal blog, I wrote about the so-called controversy surrounding RWA awarding Karen Witemeyer’s At Love’s Command a Vivien Award for Romance with Religious or Spiritual Elements. As of this morning, the book has 603 rankings on Amazon for a total of 4.5 stars. 79% of the rankings place it at 5-stars. Only 4% place it at 2-stars or less. Of the 8 or so 1-star reviews, most had not actually read the book or had not read past the first chapter to see if “redemption” (as required by the category) occurred.

Now, I haven’t read the book and won’t. It’s not a genre I enjoy. And, as I noted in my post last week, the publisher–or at least RWA–should have anticipated backlash once the novel was nominated, much less awarded–the Vivien. In this day and age where too many people who love taking to social media read until insulted and then scream to high heaven, someone had to know what would happen.

But, for whatever reason, RWA and its 13 (?) judges failed to take that into consideration and gave the award to the book they thought best in category. Imagine that. They awarded talent and ability over “social awareness”. How dare they!

And then the calls of outrage began and RWA, like other organizations before it (I’m looking at you, SWFWA) caved in. It withdrew the award and got down on bended knee to beg forgiveness of those crying outrage.

“RWA is in full support of First Amendment rights,” according to a statement from the association. “However, as an organization that continually strives to improve our support of marginalized authors, we cannot in good conscience uphold the decision of the judges in voting to celebrate a book that depicts the inhumane treatment of indigenous people and romanticizes real world tragedies that still affect people to this day.”

So, here’s the lesson, kiddies. Don’t write anything that someone might take offense to. Don’t make your bad guys anything but white, hetero males. Otherwise, you will never, ever win any of RWA’s increasingly unimportant awards. (Can you say “Hugo”?)

And, just to show the idiocy doesn’t stop with RWA, here’s one from American Booksellers Association.

Apparently, ABA in its process of publicizing its “curated” best sellers list, had a sub working on it in place of the regular employee. This sub chose the wrong book cover to show next to the book title (a social justice tome of some sort). A second employee “new to copy editing” also failed to pick up on the mistake. What isn’t discussed is where the editor of the damned thing was. Instead, these two new employees were thrown under the bus for the mistake. But it gets better. The real issue, at least as far as ABA is concerned, is the author of the book mistakenly shown on the list: Candace Owens. Here’s ABA’s comment:

“It was a terrible mistake with terrible racist implications. However, based on our investigation and the demonstrated diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) commitment of these individuals, we have no reason to believe the action was malicious in intention. . .

“The employees are very apologetic and very committed to vigilance going forward. They have been held accountable and have agreed to training, both on procedures as well as on DEI, and we have added layers of checks and balances to this process.”

Let’s see, you’ve thrown them under the bus with a “You don’t beat your wife any longer, do you?” sort of comment. You are completely silent on why there wasn’t someone senior to these two employees, who were new to their positions, checking their work. And you label Owens’ book–or Owens herself–racist, presumably only because of her political stance. Hmmm. . . .

And folks wonder why I take anything this group says with a grain of salt and why I’ve said for years they walk hand-in-hand with the traditional publishers, especially when it comes to responding to the vocal social media harridans.

But it gets worse. In another incident related in the same article, ABA makes clear publishers pay to include books in a shipment ABA sends to booksellers. ABA says this is a “pay to play” feature and they don’t say what books can or cannot be included as long as money exchanges hands. But–gasp–a publisher paid to include a book some of those same harridans referenced above dislike and disapprove of. So guess what, even though ABA says it policy hasn’t changed, it will review September’s box “for acceptability” of titles before shipping it.

Yep, that bended knee may start getting sore before long.

Finally, this one comes via The Passive Voice. I’ll let you go read it. It’s an interesting read on the following question: “Would digital media revolutionize society as profoundly as Gutenberg and movable type?” Take a look and let me know what you think. I will admit, I had to stop my initial knee-jerk reaction to go down the rabbit hole of how trad publishers have tried to cancel the e-book revolution by price gouging and over-inflated prices (something PG hints at when he talks about the price for the book the discussion stems from).

Now, because I’m a writer after all, a bit of promo:

Victory from Ashes

Release date: Sept. 7th. Available for pre-order now.

War is hell. No battle plan survives the opening salvo. When the enemy is set on the total destruction of your homeworld, how far will you go to protect it and those you love?

This war has already cost Col. Ashlyn Shaw too much. She has lost friends and family to an enemy that doesn’t know the meaning of honor. Marines under her command have died doing their duty. Her enemies at home conspired and brought her up on charges, sending her and members of her command to the Tarsus military penal colony. But they didn’t win then and she won’t let them win now. She is a Marine, a Devil Dog, and they can’t take that away from her.

Ashlyn is determined to do all she can to protect her homeworld and end the war. She will lead her Marines against the enemy, knowing that if they fail, Fuercon will fall. But will it be enough and will those who have conspired behind the scenes to destroy her and all she stands for finally be brought to justice?

Duty and honor. Corps and family. That is what matters. It is all that matters.

*

Featured image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

 

26 comments

    1. Very healthy. And, at least one review came after the controversy broke and was positive. I guess it shows there’s no such thing as bad PR

    1. Thanks. Have no idea how it happened. Of course, I don’t know how all paragraph breaks disappeared when I updated the post. I had to completely reconstruct it. I truly hate WP hosted sites and WP these days.

      1. Which is why, when I finally get around to resurrecting my WP site, I’m 99% sure I’ll choose something besides WP.

        1. The issue is with the WP hosted sites, imo. I run WordPress CMS on my personal sites but they are not WP hosted. That means I don’t have to use their new–and thrice damned–format and don’t have a number of the issues we sometimes encounter here on MGC.

  1. I had seen the WSJ review this morning and wondered the same thing as one of PG’s commenters: does the writer have the right percentage of ebooks sales for the whole market, or just for the over-priced traditionally published ebook market?

    And I think PG is right that the writer’s publisher is doing him a disservice. $28 is a crazy price for an ebook.

    1. I wondered the same thing. As for the publisher, of course they are doing a disservice to the writer, same as most other traditional publishers (fiction and non-fic) who see no problem charging close to or even more for ebooks over print.

    2. I was able to find a source of market share that put ebooks at roughly 15%– it was profits, from the Association of American Publishers.

      Might not be the correct source, but it was the only place I could find it, and found a lot of stuff on how Amazon didn’t give units sold numbers and neither did a lot of the publishers.

        1. Worse, only the “leading book, journal, and education publishers.”

          With a definite focus on stuff bought for classes.

          Since e-text books are usually *rented*…..

  2. (After checking out some of the stories and reviews of At Love’s Command) Oh, wow – I’m partway surprised that I hadn’t heard about this, but Karen W’s books aren’t my chosen genre, either.
    Seriously, of the shrieking snowflakes ever get a load of some of what I have put into my books, specifically relating to the Texians’ war against the Comanche, you’d be able to hear them all the way to the stratosphere. (As I happily count up the profits on sales… thanks for the outrage, girls. Didn’t anyone ever tell you that there is no such thing as bad publicity when the target doesn’t care what you are saying?)

    $28 for an ebook … got to be kidding me. Rather than pay that price, I’d buy a used paperback for a couple of dollars. These publishers are out of their freaking minds.

    1. That’s my feeling. There are already more books published than I’ll ever be able to read, so paying more than about $5.00 for an ebook is very rare for me. Has to be a book in a series or by an author that I *really* like. Rather than pay that much, I’ll just go find another book that I’ll enjoy just as much for a much cheaper price.

  3. I’m a member of a local chapter of RWA. One of our members listened to the townhall and reported back to our chapter.

    Always keep in mind that what they admit to may be less than what is true.

    Here’s a summary:
    RWA is in the hole for $800,000 or so.
    RWA has been hemorrhaging members. It is currently at 3416. They’re losing about 100 members a month.
    LaQuette (our president) was asked about Chapter 11 bankruptcy. She said they’re consulting an attorney but no decisions will be made until after the conference.
    The conference is normally a money-maker for RWA. This year’s conference? Hah!
    The Vivian award didn’t earn much $$ either.

    My personal opinion is that RWA as a group is toast. They’ll fold their tents within the year.
    A new group of romance writers will have to rise from the ashes and be completely disassociated with RWA to have any hope at succeeding.

    Because of my genre (science-fiction romance), I looked into Broad Universe and they seem crazier than RWA has been.

    1. That doesn’t surprise me. The handwriting was on the wall when they canceled everything last year — and for the reasons they did.

      1. If they do fold, it’ll be a pretty impressive implosion, from top of the heap to non-existent in about three years. I haven’t been following things closely enough, though, to know if this is a case of “get woke, go broke” or a case of them not being woke enough and forced to shut down.

        1. I’d have to say it’s both.

          I listen very carefully to what my chapter members have said since our first meeting of the year in January 2020. I keep my own mouth shut. Other members also stay silent while the woker members go nuts because if you say anything, you’re instantly tarred.

          With some of our members (now thankfully former) you couldn’t even say that whatever else was going on with Courtney Milan’s charges, the board handled the situation so badly that they made the situation 100 times worse. That implied dissent with the original charges.

          You can never be too woke, right up until the moment the circular firing squad starts up. That’s where RWA is now.
          Meanwhile, the non-woke members quietly leave for “family reasons”, not because they think the loons are running the asylum. Thus, RWA must have lost 2/3 of its membership since the firestorm started in December of 2019.

          If I understand correctly, a big issue for my chapter is the $$. If we leave, we have to turn in our treasury. If we wait until RWA implodes, we can keep the $$.

          The group consensus seems to be heading for a big, blow-out writers’ retreat so we don’t have a dime left for RWA to claim. Other chapters are struggling with the same issue. They want to leave the fold and go it alone, but the contracts state that the $$ in our nonprofit account goes back to headquarters if we do.

          1. My husband (the tax accountant) says your chapter could donate your money to another non-profit. But the writer’s retreat would work fine, too.
            Darn, though, this sounds like the Society for Creative Anachronism. Don’t know if the non-woke are abandoning ship, but I do know wokeness has been getting worse among the leadership.

            1. My guess is, like RWA, it’s both.

              The leadership is busily signaling their virtue and purity while completely oblivious to the rank and file slipping off into the night and taking their energy and $$ with them.

              Since the rank and file don’t count, their loss remains unnoticed until it’s much too late for anything but bankruptcy and collapse.

  4. The numbers for e-books don’t look right– I know that it has been a bit over 15% of US market share by the net income from the Association of American Publishers– that is, exclusively the “leading” publishers, with a focus on those that market to colleges.

    This has their numbers going over the last several years:
    https://publishingperspectives.com/2020/07/united-states-market-statistics-aap-statshot-annual-report-for-2019/

    Quote:
    In the question of print formats vs. digital, the report indicates that, “Nearly half (47 percent) of all revenue” in 2019 came from four print formats: hardcover, board book, paperback, and mass market.

    In the trade industry—which refers to consumer books—print formats held a larger position, at 74.7 percent of revenue
    Hardcover copies accounted for 24.2 percent of that part of the revenue in 2019, although—because of their premium pricing among the formats—they generated 36 percent of total trade revenue
    Ebooks declined by 4.9 percent in 2019, nevertheless contributing $1.94 billion to the overall number
    In five years, 2015 to 2019, ebooks are down 30.8 percent
    In unit sales, ebooks declined slightly by 2.6 percent, nevertheless moving 335.7 million copies in 2019

    I… greatly doubt that ebooks fell by over a third. Especially when I know that lite novels have been flying off the shelves like crazy in digital format.

    BUT, if one considers that the data source by definition does not include either small non-academic press, digital import/translation companies, OR independently published books, it is believable for the data.

    This runs into issues when one tries to find European sources, too– apparently the UK guys have a minimum price to count, and only listen to a handful of publishers on top of that…..

    I’m curious, but not curious enough to shell out dinner for two.

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