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Posts tagged ‘Kristine Kathryn Rusch’

Happily Ever After the End

I wasn’t sure what to talk about this week, and then I was, and then I thought someone else said it so well, how could I possibly do better? Then I got into a conversation privately with another writer who has, through no real fault of their own, wound up in a tight spot. And I realized that I’m weird.

Ok, if that wasn’t confusing enough, here’s this: this post is not about writing. It’s about what comes from writing, after the story is finished. Because as we all know in our cynical little back-brains, there’s no HEA.

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If it’s Tuesday . . .

I’ve been trying to come up with something for today’s blog for, well, the last couple of days. Every time I’ve sat down to write the post, I’ve wound up distracted. Part of it is I’m in the middle of the final edits for Honor from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 3). I’m really excited about the book and how the story arc is developing. I’m also scared because I see the end of the arc in the next book and I’m not sure I’m ready to let Ashlyn and company sail off into the night skies. But that’s just me. Letting a character go is, in a lot of ways, like seeing your kid off to college, knowing that life will never be the same again for either of you.

Of course, that hasn’t been the only distraction. Pat Patterson, who is one of my favorite reviewers because he not only gives honest reviews but fun ones as well, reviewed Slay Bells Ring and said the one thing any author loves to see. He recommended the book. Whee! But then he said something else, something that had me considering running away from my muse. He said he wanted another book with the same characters. Gulp! He wants a series. Worse, he’s not the first one to say so. Double gulp. The writer started whining, I already have three active series! Then I realized I had no choice. Whether there will be another book and a new series is up to Myrtle the Muse and she is an evil muse. (And she is laughing hysterically in the back of my mind right now. I think I should be scared.)

Adding to the distractions have been trying to get paper versions of several of my books prepped to come out. Then there’s been real life, including allergies that want to make breathing and seeing the computer screen problematic at best. There have been other distractions as well but, let’s face it, that’s life and I’m not complaining. I’d rather have the distractions than the alternative.

Fortunately, others haven’t had the problems finding things to blog about that I have.

The first post I highly recommend everyone here read comes from Kris Rusch. I’ll admit to considering simply reblogging the entire post. It is that good. It also is a perfect foil for a certain group of folks who have attacked us here at MGC because they view us as attacking authors who decide to go the traditional route. Those critics have obviously never really read what we’ve said here, nor have they taken time to understand our posts. Are we critical of much of traditional publishing? You bet. The Big 5 have been operating an antiquated business plan that has failed to take into account changing technologies and changing reading demands from their customers. Worse, they have, as Kris points out in this post, some horrible contract provisions when looked at with the best interest of the author in mind.

But, as Kris points out, traditional publishers aren’t the only problem facing authors. Agents can be a problem as well. Not all agents, just like not all publishers.

Here is a sample of what Kris has to say:

Suffice to say some of the things I’ve run into are simply and completely unbelievable to me, in 2016.

At the same time, I’m being approached by a number of traditionally published writers who believe they will never get another book deal, and their careers are ruined forever. Ruined! They’re lowering themselves to consider self-publishing, and are wondering if I can tell them how to do it, step by step. They get peeved when I show them entire books on the subject, not just mine and Dean’s, but several other books.

And then there are the writers who are giving up their writing careers entirely, because they can’t sell another book traditionally, and they have been told by the agent who helped them self-publish their books that the books aren’t selling because of piracy.

There are teeth marks in my lips, deep ones. I try to be diplomatic. Honest I do. But I got so frustrated with one writer recently that I had to walk away from my computer. The writer’s career was hurt by theft, but the theft wasn’t the pirating site she had found: it was her agent.

But I’m not going to say that in e-mail, although I did point her to several blogs I wrote about agents and agent agreements and how easy it is for a middleman to embezzle and/or not send royalties she doesn’t know she’s entitled to, particularly when she signed documents letting the agent get all the paperwork.

She can’t even double-check her employee, to make sure that he’s handling the money properly. That’s Money Management 101. And she was flunking.

I walked away from that e-mail exchange and started a blog post with the title, “You Can Lead A Writer To Knowledge…” The rest of that saying is this:

You can lead a writer to knowledge but you can’t make her think.

Then there is this post from The Shatzkin Files. I’ll admit that I don’t always agree with Shatzkin. The same can be said about this post.

The good news for the publishers is that print sales erosion — at least for the moment — seems to have been stopped. (Print sales started to grow even before “new Agency”; when higher prices hit the ebook market, print was immediately assisted.) 

While he is, to the best of my knowledge, correct in saying that print sales have started increasing once again for traditional publishers, he doesn’t touch upon the possibility that this is because of their over-pricing of e-books until later in the article. He discusses at length the possibility of publishers moving to the wholesale model for e-books and how different sides of the argument respond to that possibility. What bothers me is that, the more I read, the more it seemed to be an article about how to fight Amazon. Perhaps that isn’t what Shatzkin meant but that is how I read it and I once again wondered why publishing insiders and those who champion traditional publishing continue to want to attack the main outlet for their work. Isn’t that kind of like cutting off your nose to spite your face?

Shrug.

I think The Passive Guy in his commentary on the post hits the nail squarely on the head.

On the other hand, PG wonders if anyone in Big Publishing understands a single thing about disruptive technological innovations and their impact on legacy products and legacy producers.

Trying to manipulate pricing and customers to preserve printed book sales is a fool’s errand. The future of books is digital just like the future of letters became digital when email was introduced and the future of news became digital when the web and streaming video entered the scene.

Stories are special. Printed books are not. Big Publishing is trying to preserve its landline business in a cellular world. The future of paper is in napkins and toilet tissue, not as a medium for communicating ideas.

What do you think?

 

Links of Interest

Today finds my head firmly wrapped around things none-writing related. For four years, my son has lived in the Corps of Cadets dorms at Texas A&M University. The Corps has been an integral part of his college life and is now, at least officially, over because — despite the fact so many degree plans at TAMU are 5 year plans — students can only be in the Corps for four years. So, with the first summer session about to begin, the boy and some friends are moving into their first apartment. That means making sure they have at least the bare essentials until they can all go shopping for the “extras”. So, instead of something controversial or at least have some semblance of cogency, I’m going to leave you with some links to blogs and articles about the industry. I promise to have a functioning brain again next week.

Kris Rusch takes on the “Brutal 2,000-Word Day” and more. This is a must read for everyone, imo.

After all the angst and breast beating by several authors over the last week or so over how their stories had been edited and fundamentally changed by one publisher (a publisher that wasn’t even paying them in copies), Writer Beware has a post on editing clauses in contracts. Read it, think about it and read it again. Then, before submitting to a publisher, whether of short stories or novels, find out what they publish and read some of their work. Determine if that publisher is right for you before you submit.

Joe Konrath helps take some of the smoke and mirrors out of the pricing debate with this post. If you have any questions about the difference between the wholesale pricing model and the agency pricing model, check out what Konrath has to say.

While I don’t agree completely with everything in the list, here is a list of 10 things to do when proofreading.

And then there is the Los Angeles Review of Books’ Farewell to Novels by David R. Slavitt. Part of me understands what Slavitt is saying and why. But part of me looks at his post and shakes my head because he is among those who believe — or at least he appears to — that legacy publishers will get you reviews and other things that, on the whole, they simply don’t bother with any longer.

Any way, these are just a few of the links relating to publishing this week. Do you have others you’d like to share? What are your thoughts on the links above? The floor is now yours.

Who is the keymaster and where is the gatekeeper?

by Amanda S. Green

No, I’m not talking about Ghostbusters.  Although it might be time to watch the movie again.  This post has been bubbling around, trying to take form for several weeks.  Kate’s post this past Sunday, and the comments to it, brought it to life.

A little background first.  When I first got my kindle, I was a skeptic.  I love books.  I love the feel of them, the look of them, etc.  I couldn’t imagine reading on anything like the kindle.  For one thing, I spend so much of the day sitting before the computer that the thought of reading on some sort of device simply didn’t excite me.  Then I got the kindle and very quickly realized that I preferred it to physical books — at least when reading for entertainment.

It didn’t take long to realize something else.  The errors in spelling, punctuation and formatting I’d started seeing in hard copy books seemed to leap off the digital page.  There is something about reading on my kindle — or on my tablet — that seems to accept the errors that have gotten past the copy editors and proofreaders.  Was it because there were more errors in ebooks than in hard copy books, or was there another explanation?

A figurative stroll through different e-reader related forums quickly revealed I wasn’t the only one asking these questions.  Even now, two years after receiving my kindle, the question is asked in the kindle forums almost weekly.  Speculation runs from laziness by legacy publishers to too many people thinking they are the next great writer waiting to be discovered and who are taking advantage of the ease of self-publishing digitally.  The truth of the matter is a bit more complex.

When it comes to problems seen in e-books put out by publishers, the first occurs when titles are scanned and then digitized.  This process often creates OCR errors where letters are altered.  This usually occurs near the margins and is easy enough to spot — if the file is proofread.  Unfortunately, it appears that many of these titles aren’t proofed before being put on sale. I’ve seen a couple of examples where the OCR errors were so bad, the text was almost unreadable.

The bulk of errors in e-books seem to come from the lack of proofreading and, to a lesser extent, copy editing.  This occurs, despite what a lot of the complainers in the different fora believe, in both indie and legacy published titles.  It occurs in indie titles, especially those that are self-published, because authors are, on the whole, their own worst editors.  It occurs in legacy published titles because they have cut back on their employees so much that they now rely on the authors and agents to do much of the editing and proofreading that editors used to do.

So, how does this relate back to Kate’s post and what are we, as authors, supposed to do?

Simple, we follow the guidelines, especially the one that almost every publisher includes: make sure your work is as close to publishable as possible.  That means more than having a good story.  It means making sure it is formatted according to guidelines.  It means having beta readers who know to look for more than misspelled words and comma faults.  It means, if necessary, hiring an editor to go over your manuscript before submitting it.

There are reasons for guidelines that go beyond making it easy for the editor to read the submission.  First — and this is very important — your ability to follow the guidelines is the editor’s first impression of your work.  Take the guidelines for Naked Reader press for example.  The very first thing listed under “guidelines” is the fact that we have set submission periods.  So, if you send something outside of the submission periods, I know you haven’t read the guidelines.  The same goes if you fail to send a synopsis of your novel or if all you send is the synopsis.  We want both.

Now, back to Kate’s post and some of the comments.  Part of any publisher’s guidelines are how to format your submission.  NRP uses standard manuscript format:  double spaced, one inch margins, 12 or 14 point Courier or Times New Roman.  Simple, right?

Apparently not.  We get titles that are single spaced.  We get titles without first line indents.  We get titles where there are additional spaces between paragraphs.  We get submissions that don’t have a cover email with the information asked for: name, contact information, publication credits.

NRP hasn’t gotten to the point yet where we are refusing to look at submissions that don’t meet our guidelines.  I know of a number of other publishers and agents that have.  I will tell you, though, that a manuscript not formatted according to guidelines starts with a strike against it.  Why?  Because I have to wonder about an author who doesn’t care enough to follow them.

So, it is up to the author to make sure he’s followed the guidelines just as he’s done all he can to make sure he is submitting the best story he can.  Frankly, this is true whether the author is submitting a title to a publisher or he’s publishing it himself.  If there is a reason for not following the format guidelines listed by a publisher, tell them.  Or at least send an email and ask if it’s okay.

I hear you saying that you have decided not to submit to a publisher but are going the self-publishing route.  After all, you have a great novel.  You’ve done your homework and know there are free programs out there to help you create your e-book.  So why worry about format guidelines and submission processes when you can take your e-book directly to the public?

As an author, I understand the sentiment.  It’s hard to get a publisher these days, especially a legacy publisher.  It’s even harder to get an agent — something you need to get your foot in the door at most legacy publishers.  It really is easy to understand why so many writers are choosing to do it themselves.

What many of them seem to have forgotten is that the same rules for submitting to a publisher apply to self-publishing.  You have to have a well-edited, proofread manuscript in a format readers are used to.  That means beta readers, proofreaders and, if necessary, professional editing.  It also means cover art and GOOD cover art.  Readers will tear you apart on the boards for bad cover art, or for generic cover art.  If they don’t like the font you use for your title, they will let you know.

Despite what you hear from a lot of bloggers, despite the fame of some indies like Amanda Hocking, there is still an onus about self-published work.  If you doubt it, read the boards.  See how many people won’t buy a novel originally priced at 99 cents because they know it’s by an “indie” and won’t be any good or will be so poorly formatted as to be unreadable.  Check out threads like those asking why indies keep shooting themselves in the foot by not having their novels professionally edited or formatted for e-books.

Don’t get me wrong.  As quick as they are to condemn a poorly written or poorly edited/formatted book, they are just as quick to praise one.  So, what does that mean?

It means he writer is not only the keymaster — the creator of the story — but is also the gatekeeper.  It doesn’t matter if the novel is going to a legacy publisher or is being self-published.  It needs to be as clean — as well written, edited and proofread — as possible before submission.  You are the master of your story.  Don’t be afraid to act the role.

In other news around the industry, check out what Kris Rusch and Joe Konrath have to say about the future of traditional or legacy publishing.

What do you think about the keymaster/gatekeeper roles and about the future of publishing?

Oh yeah, everyone be sure to wish Dave a happy birthday!

Cross-posted to The Naked Truth and to my blog.

Well, we’re still here, guess that means I have to blog

by Amanda S. Green

A lot has been happening in the publishing world this week and I feel like I’ve missed a lot of it because I’ve been so busy with NRP work.  The latest sales figures for the industry are out.  Borders continues to bleed money and now says it needs more time.  Amazon has a new author promotion community. Facebook limits what we can do regarding contests.  There’s an offer for Barnes & Noble.  Kristine Kathryn Rusch has some great advice for every author.   And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Let’s start with Facebook.  We all know how important it is to have a platform and to get our names out there.  Social media has become a major part of any promotion plan and most plans include contests and giveaways.  Facebook has played a big role in all this — until this week.  No longer can we use FB as we have in the past for giveaways.  For a quick rundown of the new regulations — and requirements — check out this post on Galleycat.

Since I’m talking promotions, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the new author promotion community at Amazon.  There has long been a rule against self-promotion on the Amazon boards, but it hasn’t been uniformly enforced.  Basically, as long as an author didn’t get too annoying with a promotion thread (ie, didn’t do one more than once a week or so), the thread wasn’t reported as spam too often or an author didn’t hijack another person’s thread just to do drive-by promotions, there was no real problem.  At least not as far as Amazon was concerned.  However, there are a number of folks on the kindle boards who would b**ch and moan about such threads, often being, as Jim Baen would say, butt-heads.

Well, Amazon finally responded and has created this new community where self-promotion threads are not only allowed but welcomed.  Of course, there are problems.  The first is that it wasn’t adequately announced, only buried in a thread entitled “important annoucement from Amazon”.  The second issue occurred when Amazon started moving the promotion threads.  Apparently, they are using bots to sniff out and find the promotion threads.  As a result, when a long-time forum participant listed new titles offered for free — by various other authors, not herself — and then an author added his own promotion note, the thread was moved to the new forum.  The howls of protest and outrage could be heard around the kindle world.  That thread, and others like it that are not actually promotion threads but merely listing free titles offered by Amazon, are now back where they belong on the kindle board and will be allowed.

But there is another issue that has arisen.  Authors have long added links to their books or their Amazon Author Central pages to their signatures.  That will no longer be allowed, or so I’ve been led to believe.  Hopefully, Amazon will change their view on at least the Author Central links.  But only time will tell.

Now to the nitty-gritty.  The AAP has released the sales figures for March.  E-book sales continue to soar, although at a slight slower pace than in the first two months of the year (for January and February, sales increased at a rate of 169% while for March it was a “relatively modest” increase of 145.7%).  What this means is that e-book sales rose 159.8% (16 publishers reporting) during the first quarter of the year.  Compare this to a 23.4% decline in hard cover sales (8 publishers reporting) during the quarter.  Is it any wonder the industry is reeling right now, especially when faced with major players who either don’t understand or want to deny the changes in demand that are occurring?

On the bookstore front, both Borders and Barnes & Noble were in the news.  We’ll start with Barnes & Noble.  Liberty Media has made an offer for the company.  The offer has strings attached, but most offers do.  This one is interesting in that, among the requirements Liberty Media put on their offer, is that Len Riggio would retain not only his position in the company but also his equity ownership in it.  It will be interesting to see where this offer goes.

And then there’s Borders.  Yes, I’m shaking my head.  It’s all I can do these days whenever I see the once proud bookseller in the news.  This week, Borders made headlines twice.  We’ll start with the bad news.  Despite closing hundreds of stores and firing thousands of employees, despite reassurances that Borders is on the right track and publishers should go back to the way things were with them, Borders announced it lost $132 million in April.  This is more than March’s reported losses.  I don’t know about you, but this doesn’t bode well in my book.

Then came the other bad news.  Borders has been in bankruptcy for months now.  There have been several comments from the executives on high, all telling us how well their reorganization is going.  We’ve heard the blame game — how Ann Arbor isn’t rallying around the troubled company, how the publishers are being unreasonable for wanting money upfront despite a track record of non-payment by Borders, how e-books are the cause of the company’s problems and not poor management and lack of foresight.  Now comes the “Please, sir, may I have some more” phase where the company is asking for more time to submit its reorganization plan to the court.  Under the motion filed this past week, Borders is asking for an additional 120 days to file the plan.  The new deadline would be October 14th instead of the current June 16th deadline.  Gee, am I the only one who remembers their promises to be out of bankruptcy by September?

Finally, if you are a writer and you don’t follow The Business Rusch by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, hie ye there now and read her latest entry, Surviving the Transition – Part I.  Read it, think on it, think on it again and remember what she has to say.

So, was there any publishing news this week I didn’t mention that you want to discuss?  The floor is now yours.