C h a z z W r i t e s . c o m

Write and publish with love and fury.

Have you ever thought of audio recording your book?

It seems easy enough. Here’s a little film Sue Kenney made with the BLOOPERS from the recording of My Camino. 
Okay, after hearing the bloopers, maybe it’s not so easy. 
PLUS! Here’s Sue’s free offer:
8 Days of Inspiration. You’ll be able to download the Audiobook My Camino for FREE over the next 8 days starting January 1, 2012. 

Filed under: audiobooks, authors, , , , , ,

Check out these authors and enter a contest for Amazon gift cards

UPDATE:

This contest is closed. But you can still buy the books! Keep the love going for these enterprising authors.

(NEW POST FORM ME COMING LATER TODAY.)

Not only can you help out these authors, you might win a gift card, too. This is also a great case study in book promotion. Consider that these four authors banded together for this very effective promotion. They contacted bloggers and simply asked for some help to promote awareness and sales of their books for the next couple of days. An amazing number of bloggers (me included) were happy to help. Sometimes all you have to do is ask and add a little bonus for readers (like the contest). It’s a win-win-win: Bloggers provide an opportunity for readers, value is added for blog readers and readers hear about books they otherwise might have missed out on. Check out the books and enjoy a good read. Or four!

Support Four Debut Authors and Snag $125!

Four books

Two Days

Great Prizes

With this contest, there is something for everyone and it’s SO simple to be in on the winning!

On November 28 and/or 29, purchase 1 or all 4 of the debut author’s books listed here. Then forward proof of purchase (the receipt Amazon sends you will do just fine) to : motionsrider@yahoo.ca and get up to 4 entries into a draw for a $100 Amazon gift card!

It’s that easy, no reviews, no hoops to jump through. Just a great .99 book or two. Or three or four. AND, if the person who wins the $100 Amazon Gift Card has purchased all 4 books, an additional $25 Amazon Gift Card will be awarded to the winner!

On top of that, 2 random commenter’s picked from 2 of our participating blogs will receive $5 gift Amazon gift cards . So, be sure to leave a comment and let us know what you think of the promo, the books, or the authors.

Winners will be chosen randomly, one entry per person, per book.

All winners will be announced on December 7th on Wringing Out Words (http://shannonmayer.blogspot.com)

“Between” by Cyndi Tefft

It just figures that the love of Lindsey Water’s life isn’t alive at all, but the grim reaper, complete with a dimpled smile, and Scottish accent.

After transporting souls to heaven for the last 300 years, Aiden MacRae has all but given up on finding the one whose love will redeem him and allow him entry through the pearly gates.

Torn between her growing attraction to Aiden and heaven’s siren song, Lindsey must learn the hard way whether love really can transcend all boundaries.

Link: http://www.amazon.com/Between-ebook/dp/B004XZUMBA/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1322190792&sr=1-1

“Until Dawn: Last Light” by Jennifer Simas

When darkness falls, whose side will you be on?

For the past six years, Zoë has been anything but “normal.” Struggling to accept her immortality and thrown into a war that’s been waging in the shadows for over a thousand years, Zoë must now become who she was meant to be, joining the other Chosen to save what’s left of humanity. When the endless night falls over the Earth, will she be able to save the one man who reminds her of what it is to be human, or will it be too late?

Until Dawn: Last Light is a story of death and despair, love and longing, hope and hopelessness, and the ability to survive and keep going even when it seems impossible – when you want nothing more than to give up.

Link- http://www.amazon.com/Until-Dawn-Last-Light-ebook/dp/B005QUIXJY/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1322190717&sr=1-1

“The Kayson Cycle” by Jonathan D. Allen

A stranger enters a dying town and makes a desperate plea…

The Kayson Cycle introduces the Kayson Brothers, a pair of faith healers who once wowed crowds in a traveling show but went their separate ways after a night in which a healing took a dark turn. Jeffrey Kayson disappeared into the wilderness and William Kayson, wracked by guilt, moved to the failing mining town of Calico Hills to build a nice, quiet life – one that has lasted for over ten years.

His quiet, predictable life crumbles when a mysterious stranger walks into his tavern bearing a proposal to find his long-lost brother and do the one thing that William has sworn to never do again – have his brother heal a woman. William soon learns that he can’t escape his family – or his destiny.

Includes an exclusive sample chapter of The Corridors of the Dead. Please note that this is a Kindle Single, and around 6,000 words in length.

Link: http://www.amazon.com/The-Kayson-Cycle-ebook/dp/B0061FDUA0/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1322190892&sr=1-1

“Sundered” by Shannon Mayer

A miracle drug, Nevermore, spreads like wildfire throughout the world allowing people to eat what they want, and still lose weight. It is everything the human population has ever dreamed of and Mara is no different. Only a simple twist of fate stops her from taking Nevermore.

As the weeks roll by, it becomes apparent that Nevermore is not the miracle it claimed. A true to life nightmare, the drug steals the very essence that makes up humanity and unleashes a new and deadly species on the world that is bent on filling its belly. Locked down within their small farm home, Mara and her husband Sebastian struggle against increasingly bad odds, fighting off marauders and monsters alike.

But Sebastian carries a dark secret, one that more than threatens to tear them apart, it threatens to destroy them both and the love they have for each other.

Now Mara must make the ultimate choice. Will she live for love, or will she live to survive?

Link: http://www.amazon.com/Sundered-Nevermore-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B005KOIVH0/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1315021535&sr=8-3

Filed under: authors, Publicity & Promotion, , , , ,

How serious is the hate for indie authors?

I’m feeling a tad depressed. I just read a bunch of posts in a forum from The People Who Fun Forgot. They were looking for ways to avoid even looking at indie authors’ work. Any indie exposure, it seems, might burn like a spicy plutonium chalupa with battery acid sauce. Some people held on to some perspective. For others, art was something to grumble at and be protected from while searching for “real” books from “real” publishers. How dare self-published authors offer something someone else might enjoy? Perhaps it’s promotion fatigue, but some people seem to think that just because they don’t like something, it’s automatically spam and valueless to anyone! Someone even suggested the establishment of a censor board to decide which indie offerings are worthy. I had to reread that several times. I’m still not sure if the intent was satirical. Gee, I hope that was a joke, but I don’t think so.

These angry posts and censorious efforts sound far more narcissistic than anything a self-publisher has ever done.

It’s a book, not  a crime. And if it be a crime, it is not a crime against literature but against personal taste. As in “individual”, one person’s taste.

As in, “Get over yourself, Butch!”

Another complainer said she was especially picky about offerings that were inexpensive. Wait! Wait! Why not be more picky about the much more expensive ebooks from traditional publishers? As John Locke says of his 99 cent ebooks, he doesn’t have to prove he’s as good as the traditionally published. Trad authors have to prove their books are ten times better than his for the prices they charge. Many of his readers certainly don’t want him censored. They’re grateful—happy, even— to receive such cheap entertainment. I eat 99 cent books like Tic Tacs. A 99 cent book isn’t a risk. It’s a Tic tac. If you like one, have more. If you can’t afford a 99 cent ebook, what the hell are you doing with an e-reader, anyway? If that’s the case, read at the library. In the job search section.

Being super picky over indie books doesn’t make you a connoisseur of literature. It makes you the sort of person whose company you wouldn’t tolerate in a stuck elevator for more than five minutes without considering how you could make strangulation look accidental. (If this is you, please consult your therapist. Next session’s topic: “Why do I feel such a need to be a petty bully over small things? And why do I feel such joy kicking the crutches out from under people?”)

I’m not for low standards, per se. It just seems absurd to insist a 99 cent book reach a higher standard. Every ebook gives readers a sample. If you don’t like the sample, you don’t have to buy it. And no, your time is not that precious. The President of the United States has time to read fiction for pleasure and you’re not working on a cancer cure, so get over yourself and read a few reviews on Goodreads if you need some help with your book shopping, for Christ’s sake!

You know what I love about the break from traditional publishing? The range of price and the freedom of choice. The “flood” of new books is not something I’ll drown in. I revel in the onslaught. The hunt for a good book is part of the joy of reading. (You even get to read while you hunt, which was frowned upon when the prey was deer.) The search is part of the fun, like wandering through a bookstore and dipping into samples to see if I can find a treasure. And, it bears repeating, just because a book is traditionally published is no guarantee it’s going to be any good. Yes, they’ve got typos, too. (And remember all those books “by” Sarah Palin?)

What of all those indie authors who were traditionally published last week but decided to abandon that enterprise for greater creative freedom and the other allures of independence?

Are they to wear the scarlet letter, too?

I was shocked that people who you’d think were book lovers could be so down on free thought, cheap books, free speech and more choice. All those good and happy things were just too damned inconvenient for them, obstacles in their search for stuffy books only semiotics enthusiasts might approve. (And by semiotics enthusiasts, I mean people from 1980s English departments who worshipped structuralism and used literary criticism as a weapon to stab writers in the parts of the brain that connect expression to entertainment. They pretended to love literature and creativity that was a mask. They may have started out as readers, but by their third year, the joy of reading and literary escape was shamed and beaten out of them. Now they only read to tear writers down to feel good about themselves through petty power plays, bad reviews and the destruction of the world, one idea at a time. You know. Like Bond villains. With herpetic lesions on their anuses.

I don’t think these curmudgeons and snobs are the norm. Are they…?

If they are…I have to go make toast in the bathtub now.

Filed under: authors, book reviews, censors, e-reader, ebooks, self-publishing, , , , , , , , , , , ,

The price and value of ebooks Part II

A Picture of a eBook

Image via Wikipedia

There’s a lot of talk about ebook pricing. You’ve seen the numbers. Today I’m pointing you to the comments section on a post on this very blog because a great dialogue arose that I haven’t seen elsewhere and I don’t want it lost. A writer and a reader have a very thoughtful point-counterpoint discussion, not just about the numbers, but how they feel about the numbers.

Thanks to both Tracy Poff and Reena Jacobs for both their passion and civility as they had an impressive meeting of the minds about ebook pricing from an author’s and reader’s perspective.

You’ll find the comments under this post: Do readers expect too much of ebooks?

Filed under: author Q&A, authors, ebooks, Guest blog post, publishing, self-publishing, , , , , , , , , , ,

Is your fiction “just made up”?

Recently I heard an author complain about a poet because she hadn’t done any research. The poetry was about prostitutes, their struggles and how they reacted to being raped. No interviews! No research! Worse, the poet had made the (hyper)critical error of not actually being a raped prostitute herself. The poet simply made up a story for her poem based on her own imagination. No, I haven’t read the poems, but I don’t think I need to know the details of particular human tragedy to extrapolate the feelings of violation that must entail. I’ve read a lot of fiction that was clearly “just made up”, but the writers I love still strike a common chord of humanity that spur me to cry, get angry and get engaged.

The writer was disgusted with the poet because she “just made up” her fictive poetry.

“Beyond the pale!” she said.

I’m skeptical of proponents of research, especially if it falls into the category of “exhaustive.” It’s not that knowing your stuff is a bad thing. It’s that knowing your stuff can often lead to recording instead of creation. (Sometimes military thrillers beat you over the head with the research so hard, you’d think the serial numbers on the missile casing is more important than the nuclear warhead exploding over Miami.) For me, the authenticity of the enjoyment of the writing — the feelings stirred — trump the details of the particular brand of cigarette available in certain cities at certain times. Which is a fancy way of saying I don’t give a shit as long as the story is plausible within its own world. For instance, do all prostitutes read Proust? It’s probably not required reading, but you could easily convince me one prostitute reads Proust if you can write a convincing context.

Is it necessarily better fiction because it springs directly from the real world? Kevin Bacon went back to high school for a day before filming Footloose, for instance. Do you think that was crucial to performing what was already in the script? And if the writer of the script hadn’t grown up in a repressed town that outlawed dancing, would Footloose be any less awesome? (I refer here, of course, to the original Footloose. There’s a remake, but I decree it shall not be discussed and anyone associated with that abomination can go shoot themselves in the face…I digress.)

There is a dangerous trend in fiction that many writers think is required. It goes like this: If you’re going to have anything to write about, you have to go have a lot of experiences, many of them bad. That’s the dry, sterilized version. In practice, it’s more like this: You can’t write about rehab unless you’re an alcoholic or a junkie first. Terrible life choices make for great writing, assuming you don’t kill yourself in stage one of the writing process in which you’re actively pursuing bar brawls each night. Unless you’ve experienced what you’re writing about, it’s not authentic enough.

And I call bullshit. It’s fiction. Make it up but make it seem real enough that I can suspend my disbelief. We all have human experiences and we can imagine pain and transfer it to the page. You’re experience doesn’t have to be exactly what you’re writing about. Otherwise, you’re not even writing fiction. That’s memoir.

About fictive memoir (since this case inevitably springs to mind): Some people bought into the overhyped nonsense around A Million Little Pieces because James Frey fictionalized some of his “memoir” of addiction (after first shopping it around as a novel.) Nobody gives David Sedaris a hard time for doing the same thing to very humorous effect. Also, a lot of people also said that A Million Little Pieces helped them kick their addictions, even though some of it wasn’t real. Placebos often work on people, even when they know it’s a placebo, so what’s the harm in a book that’s 80% correct to the facts of one junkie’s life and 100% true to the feelings of thousands?

I have censored myself when my fiction didn’t pass my personal standard for believability. I admit I have recently dumped two short stories involving military personnel because, though I grew up around the military, I’ve never been in the military. I just wasn’t confident enough that I had the details quite right. I was writing about people, but I didn’t think the environment they swam in was there to deftly suspend disbelief. However, I have written stories from the perspective of old Asian men, a little girl, an autistic boy, adult women and a gay dinosaur.

For the record, I have never been a gay dinosaur

(not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

A few years ago a group within PEN Canada insisted no one could write about the minority female experience except minority female authors. I think that idea kind of fizzled because of the unrealistic limits (and ghettoization) such a policy could lead to. First, it was censorship, which most writers are against and (Thank Zeus!) there wasn’t a way to enforce the decree, anyway. Second, its logical conclusion was that black women could never write about white men. We would all have to conform to our stereotypes and human beings are way more variable than our stereotypes. After a short hullabaloo, the idea lost traction. Shakespeare, after all, was not Italian and never saw Verona.

We’re often told “write what you know.” That would leave a lot of sci-fi and fantasy out of our lives. Instead, I suggest you write what you care about. Write what you can make me believe. If someone doesn’t think you did a good job of recreating their real experience, they can go ahead and write their memoir so the heroine smokes the authentic brand of cigarette (good for Writer 1, but I’m fairly certain I still won’t give a shit.)

Fiction is a work of the imagination.

It’s our job as writers to make it believable.

It’s our job as readers to get into the spirit of the art instead of looking for things to bitch about.

Filed under: authors, censors, censorship, movies, Poetry, publishing, Rant, Rejection, writing tips, , , , , , , , ,

Update: The choice to go indie

A friend had heard a rumour that I was quitting my part-time job to go full-time as a writer and self-publisher. “What’s this I hear?” he said. He didn’t sound impressed with my chutzpah.

I explained my plans and he crossed his arms. “That’s an…interesting choice.”

I mimicked him and made a joke out of it, but clearly, he’s worried about me. Then he mentioned that a relative, after years of writing short stories and playing the submit/reject/resubmit game, just got a publishing deal with a traditional publisher for his first novel.

“That’s great!” I said. “When does his book come out?”

“Not for another year or so.”

And there it is. I’m truly happy for him (I am!) but by the time he has his first novel out, I’ll have at least six ebooks for sale. There are trade-offs, but this is a great time to be a writer who has a problem with authority.

Filed under: authors, DIY, ebooks, getting it done, publishing, self-publishing, Writers, , , , ,

Save Your Darlings

“In writing, you must kill all your darlings.”

~ William Faulkner

There’s lots of writing advice out there. I never worry about giving anyone advice that is incorrect because experience tells me people will only take the advice that appeals to them anyway. That said, save you darlings. Resuscitate them. William Faulkner’s darlings are not your darlings. Maybe that suited him, but that doesn’t mean it suits you and your book.

For instance, I once read Famous Agent’s argument that killing your darlings equates to getting rid of the stuff that is “too clever.” Oh, Jesus, no! We wouldn’t want anything in there that’s too clever! Make it all bland and uniform. Or waitaminute! Why don’t we want it clever again? In fact, wouldn’t it be great if you published a book that only contained your darlings? Wouldn’t it be great to have a book that was so clever that it was the common ideas that stood out for deletion and not the clever ones? I’m not arguing for self-conscious writing that sounds “writerly.” I am arguing for writing that takes a chance, challenges a reader once in a while and becomes distinctive art.

Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club is packed with clever ideas, for instance. The interesting thing is, Fight Club was a reaction to the rejection. Palahniuk submitted something else first and got negative comments. His solution? Go even further and stay true to his voice. What I’m saying is, killing your darlings sounds like clever advice until you think about it a moment longer. Killing your darlings could lead to a lot of bland writing. I like intellectual engagement in my reading. I prefer surprises. Give me a ranty sprinkles of philosophy. Ladle in the new and different. I’ll love you for it. You can take a foray into something that doesn’t move the plot forward. If you make it entertaining, it will work. (Stephen King has also urged young authors to kill their darlings, but I don’t believe him. His fiction often goes off into side tracks and detailed forays that don’t necessarily advance the plot.)

Worse? I accuse William Faulkner of fraud. He didn’t kill his darlings. Faulkner is one of the greats precisely because he didn’t kill his darlings. Had he taken his own advice, As I Lay Dying wouldn’t have this:

“My mother is a fish.” 

Mr. Faulkner? J’accuse!

Filed under: authors, Writers, writing tips, , , , , ,

The Trampled Author’s Curse upon nasty reviewers

It’s time to say “yes” to something. Maybe even “YES!” 

Art is about saying yes. Making it, consuming it, enjoying it. Enjoying anything means saying yes to it. Whatever your art, it is a hopeful thing. Art affirms possibility. It may not be for everyone, but it is for someone.

This morning I read an article extolling the virtues of five self-published books. There were some nice comments and some lukewarm comments. What shocked me were the truly vile comments. I’m not kidding. Numerous commenters, no doubt bolstered by the anonymity of the Internet, went after the chosen indie books with a vehemence I’d expect for child molesters. Full of bile and blanket condemnations, quite a few whined about how bad the typos were or how only traditionally published authors were worth their time. (I can think of numerous traditionally published authors I’d never read, though I can think of none I’d condemn so harshly. That would make me the bad guy and a drama king.)

They weren’t just saying “No” or “No thanks.” They weren’t even saying “We’ll see.” They were knocking down the attempt. How dare theses people write their books and offer it on the market for 99 cents! One perversely claimed that these authors should pay the reader for their books. Considering anyone can read a hefty sample of any ebook before they buy it, the answer to that is a two-word answer. “And those two words are not “Thank you.”

People of No. They don’t interest me. They’re not passionate about literature. Passion yields sweeter fruit than this. That’s not conviction I’m smelling. Maybe those commenters are simply haters who enjoy trying to make others feel bad so they can feel good. Maybe they need therapy. Maybe they need a hug.

I love books. I don’t love all books. But I don’t hate the authors of the books I don’t like. That’s not a flaw in books. That’s a flaw in reviewers who take their comments too far. I just wanted to get this post up and out there before I have my ebooks available. I want the record to show I put this up before anyone tore into me. When I see such rudeness, I won’t be replying. I’ll just be sending a link to this post. And a mental hug for the sad perpetrator.

They’ll never make art of value because art is a creative juice, not poison.

They’ll never bring joy to others or allow it in themselves.

And that is The Trampled Author’s Curse upon our transgressors.

Filed under: authors, DIY, ebooks, Rant, Rejection, reviews, Writers, , , , , , , , ,

Self-publishing: The Couch Change Economy vs. The Great Personality Argument

How does a guy go from getting paid $85 an hour to taking the risk of self-publishing? It’s not such a big leap.

Last night, on impulse, I bought a little tub of Heavenly Hash ice cream for $1.99. 

That explains everything, huh? Okay. Let’s go deeper:

When a new tax hike hit my province last July, my business changed. I’ve been a massage therapist for 18 years. I have great clients I care about and not just a few who care about me. To accommodate the new tax, my hourly rate went up to $85 per hour. A bunch of my clients took it in stride, but several just couldn’t afford to come in for treatment as often. I live in a lovely, but economically depressed area. Since I work as a part-time therapist and that fee is before tax, $85 an hour isn’t quite as great as it sounds. When I did my taxes, the numbers confirmed what I suspected: I like my work, but it wasn’t paying. I needed to change something if I was going to have anything left over at the end of the month. I could go back to working out of clinics full-bore and full-time and make “real” money or I could explore other options.

Then I thought, “You know, I don’t have that much to lose now.”

That’s the “A-ha” moment. I believe in my writing and marketing savvy. It was time to bet on that and switch to writing full-time. This wasn’t coming out of nowhere. I’d held several positions in traditional book publishing and trained and worked as  a journalist. As a freelance editor, columnist, features and speech writer, my writing income rose to become a healthy chunk of my overall income. Last year I spent more time working on writing and editing than I did in health care.

Also—and this is crucial—I had five novels in my drawer ready to edit and bring to fruition.

Many authors propose books and only start to write them after they get someone to ask them to do so. (That’s a smart way to do it, by the way, but it’s not the only way.) I had opportunities to go that route. However, I had  no interest in doing so. I have a strong streak of I-want-to-do-it-my-way (which doesn’t always serve me best but, for me, that’s the only way it’s going to happen and sustain.) I hadn’t sent out any manuscripts at all! As soon as I completed one book, I rushed on to the next, giddy and getting high off the writing. Writing is always way more fun than chasing agents and editors. It’s an odd kind of procrastination, staying busy kneading dough but never actually finishing a loaf of bread so you can eat it.  I helped several authors get their books published, but was in no hurry to bring my own out into the world. I was waiting for something and that something was me.

This week, I finally caught up to me. I finished the last manuscript I needed to get written before I could move forward with my grand plans to go full-time as a writer. (More on my complex marketing plans in another post, another time.)

Soon I will jump into what I call the Couch Change Economy.  You could call it the iTunes Purchasing Model or more simply, impulse buying.

That Heavenly Hash ice cream I bought? It was a stab of nostalgia that did it. I grew up in Nova Scotia. In the summer my parents would sometimes take me to the shore in the evening to cool off and watch the sunset. An old clapboard ice cream shop with poor posture  leaned into stiff Atlantic winds just 100 feet from relentless ocean waves. That was the only place I ever ate a waffle cone with two scoops of Heavenly Hash. If the tub had been priced higher, I wouldn’t have picked it up and put it in my shopping basket. I haven’t tasted it yet. I may not even finish it all. But for $1.99, it’s a cheap indulgence that reminds me of a good time with a dead mom.

When a book is cheap, no one minds taking a chance on an author they don’t know if the book sounds like it might interest them. If you don’t like a cheap ebook, you aren’t going to lose sleep over the equivalent of the sum of coins you can find in your couch.

How low that ebook price must be is the subject of many passionate discussions. 

John Locke says 99 cents (and a marketing strategy) made him a million-book seller. 

Joe Konrath has run the numbers and says $2.99 is the “sweet spot.” 

Others object that these prices devalue the work and no author who believes in their writing should charge so little. While I understand where they’re coming from, that sounds suspiciously like The Great Personality Argument. You can have a great personality, but if you don’t arrive at the party smiling, freshly scrubbed, with your hair combed, few people will approach you to discover how smart and funny you are. In short, couch change pricing sells more books than pricing on arbitrary values the author holds for his work. An author can believe in their work all they want (and they should) but for the sale, what matters is how much the buyer values the work. Your ideal readers may never discover how great your book is unless you make the package very attractive at low to no risk. Pricing at couch change levels is the No-pressure, Get-to-know-you price.

As debt ceiling negotiations rage in the United States and nervous stock market investors watch in horror as economies go off the rails, this is an excellent time to be working in a non-premium market. Low-priced items are low risk. Low-priced items sell at higher volume. (And a massage therapist doesn’t ever work in high volume.) I’m optimistic—which doesn’t come easy for me—that this is the year to make the jump if I ever will. And so I’ve begun informing my patients that I’m wrapping up my practice. Self-publishing suits the kind of hairpin I am and the math makes sense to me, if not to everyone.

Most important, writing full-time is my unfulfilled dream. I don’t believe in heaven or reincarnation, so I get one shot at making my heaven here and now.

A client (who isn’t mean but does have sarcastic streak) asked, “So when do the millions start rolling in?”

“I may never make millions,” I said. “It’s quite a loss compared to the billions I make as a massage therapist.”

We both laughed because the working poor are, considering all the challenges we face, surprisingly good-natured.

But I think things will work out. I believe in my books. I’m willing to price my work low enough that readers will find me, take a chance on something fun and quirky, new and different. Over time, I believe they will believe in me, too.

And last, consider this:

I’ve written books for years, very happily, giving no thought to getting paid at all.

Filed under: authors, Publicity & Promotion, publishing, Rant, self-publishing, , , , ,

TOP TEN: The divide between the published and the self-published

At a recent writers’ conference, I was in grand company. I met a lot of cool people. Almost all of them were traditionally published authors. I watched them ask questions of panels of publishers, agents and editors.

Here’s what I noticed:

1. They don’t want to change along with the rest of the publishing landscape.
Inertia is powerful, even in broken systems. And why should they want to change? Things haven’t actually been good, but they didn’t have to worry about things they have to worry about now with the DIY route. It used to be that they were expected to write, mostly to the exclusion of all else. That was job #1 and everything else was supposed to be, in theory, someone else’s job. However, many authors have already felt this pressure change because more and more book promotion and publicity duties have been unloaded on them by publishers.

2. Some of them are excited to self-publish. Either they had bad experiences with agents and traditional publishers or they simply want more control of their books. Their out-of-print books and their unpublished books may have new life as self-published works. The digital revolution, to these authors, is an opportunity. (Also, some DIY authors see self-publishing as their way into legacy publishing.)

3. Some are still wringing their hands, aggressively…as if that will turn back time. Like the music industry, Blockbuster, milk men, buggy whips and enjoyable air travel, there was a lot of nostalgia in that room. But nostalgia isn’t an argument against the proliferation of ebooks. It’s sadness at loss and change. They mourn the loss of some of the perks. Though many authors complained about the six city book tour and hanging out in bookstores ignored and unnoticed, admit it: all those bookstore signings had cachet. Book signings were part of the dream of being published and it was nice to rely on the publisher to pay for the trip.

4. Some traditionally published authors denigrate indie authors.
That’s understandable. I admit, many self-published books are, at the very least, utter crap. Not just to my taste! Crap! If careless authors call themselves authors, their old world club is no longer quite as special in the new world. However, blanket condemnations are pretty silly. Writers on either side of the divide are amorphous and as unified as a herd of cats. That’s part of our charm.

5. I found many authors I listened to weren’t angry at indies. They weren’t pointing fingers with nonsense “pay your dues like I did” rhetoric. Instead, they were worried that they themselves couldn’t adapt. Look at the demands on the self-published: write, revise, edit, review, format, upload, distribute, promote, market, repeat, improve and next time so it all faster. So much for self-publishing being the lazy way to get published. The mantra is, “When will I have time to write in this environment?” Indies worry about this, too. Though more books will be published digitally, somewhat fewer may be produced per author. As my self-published author friend Jeff Bennington observed recently, half of his time is spent writing and the other half is spent marketing. Somewhere in there, Jeff mixes in a job and probably eats and sleeps a little, too. There’s simply so much authors have to do to have a chance at getting noticed (and perhaps even getting their books bought.)

6. Some view digital publishing as part of the decline of literature. Hm. That’s an interesting one. The digital revolution propagates more books conveniently therefore there are many more books out there. If you are very concerned about the difference between low brow fiction and vaunted literature (say “literature” with a royal British accent), then go write some literature, you big baby. If it can’t be found amid the din, that doesn’t mean it’s not available. It’s means you can’t sell it. If the argument is that you don’t like the taste of the hoi polloi, that’s not digital publishing’s fault. That’s your fault. Or maybe it’s the educational system’s fault. Or the human brain isn’t as good as you’d like. You can blame readers, I suppose, but that’s a rather unprofessional stance. Most people who claim their stuff is good but out of step with their fellow humans are really just writing stuff that can’t connect. On the other hand, lots of people (well…English majors) will love you high-lit writers after you’re dead. So there’s that.

7. Some traditional authors are very concerned about the change in gatekeepers.
It’s not a small group of editors anymore. The market is the gatekeeper. Democracy can be scary because the group may go where you don’t want it to go. There’s still a very strong market for vampire books and bodice-ripper romances and yes, even the Jersey Shore, for instance. If actual readers don’t want your fiction, there might still be a market for it with traditional publishing (which, by the way, isn’t disappearing completely) but traditional publishing is less adventurous the bigger the press. You’ll have better luck with a small press or DIY. It’s as if the kids who ran the chess club suddenly had to contend with a bunch of dumb jocks getting a voting membership…and the lunkheads want a kegger.

8. Authors want reassurance that bookstores will survive. What am I? A freaking miracle worker? You want a combination of Harry Potter and Merlin to fix it so more bookstores won’t die? Magicians are on film, TV and in books. Hey! I love bookstores, too! But that’s more nostalgia. (See point #3.)

9. Many authors will carry on with their traditional publishers. They got in early and they got in good and they’re going to ride that train right to the end of the line and hope the fuel doesn’t run out. Yes, they wonder about the pittance publishers are throwing them with regards to ebook royalties (or wonder how well those sales are recorded.) Yes, they’ve had spats with their agents. But a broken system isn’t a dead system and there is…eh, has been…much to recommend it.

10. Indies and the traditionally published agree: its about the writing.
We all love good books. We may be dubious about how it’s delivered, but the core product is no less valued on either side of the divide. The concerns about the delivery and quality may vary, but we’re all writers and readers.

It used to take a powerful store of hope to be a self-published author. Now more faith is demanded of my traditionally published friends.

Filed under: authors, DIY, e-reader, ebooks, Publicity & Promotion, publishing, Rant, self-publishing, Top Ten, Writing Conferences, , , , , ,

Winner of Writer's Digest's 2014 Honorable Mention in Self-published Ebook Awards in Genre

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