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

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To all writers: A Call to End Hostilities (and focus on writing)

I should be writing my book and not blogging, so I’ll try to make this brief. This week someone I like very much called for self-publishers to stop pooping on traditional publishers for their choice to be awesome with the Big Five, agents and brick and mortar bookstores. There is a perception by some, possibly fuelled by the release of the Author Earnings Report, that indies hate writers who aren’t indie. Not true of anyone I know, by the way. It’s largely a myth. No one’s mad at traditional authors. What we often object to are contract terms from traditional publishers. Many of us consider Big Five ebook royalties egregious, for instance. Many of the authors trapped within the tight confines of those contracts feel much more grumpy about it and take it personally, so no controversy there.

Hugh Howey is calling for publishers to amend their contracts for ebook royalties that better reflect reality. Not so long ago, a famous agent claimed that ebooks were priced as high as paper books because they cost as much to produce and deliver. The fact that this statement was clearly nonsense didn’t seem to perforate the screen of what Romanian Canadians call “bool-sheet.” However, said agent is no longer an agent so maybe the dizzying cognitive dissonance corrected that person’s career path.

The debates and finger pointing comes in cycles.

I’d hoped the internecine vitriol had died down but it’s back, wearing tap shoes and has gone from acoustic and unplugged to plugged in, amped up and cranked up to eleven. The shite is stirred and the reaction to Hugh’s numbers, by some, is to complain those numbers aren’t accurate. Oddly, admissions to those mathematical vagaries are already in the report, but why discuss the truth of the big picture when you can argue over details that will eventually be revealed as more data pours in.

Amid this fracas, the call went out not to allow the pro-indie rhetoric to get out of hand.

Indie publishing is not, I’m told, a religion. Agreed. Good. As an atheist, I’m allergic. I was also told self-publishing is not a revolution but a disruption. With that, I do respectfully disagree. “Disruption” suggests impermanence to me. After self-publishing, how are you going to keep us down on the farm now that we’ve seen Paris? Contrary to what you may have heard, not all indies are hoping to be picked up by a “real” publisher. Some sure are hoping for that and good luck and bless them, too. (Me? I’d rather get a graphic novel going, or a series with Netflix, HBO or AMC or a movie contract or a video game deal or domination of zee vorld!…but that’s another post.)

Some (many?) traditionally published authors are going indie and others straddle the fence and opt for the hybrid sweet spot. All excellent choices as long as we go in eyes open with informed consent. As I’ve stated many times, this blog is about indie publishing, but I love all writers: aspiring, published, unpublished, indie, hybrid and mutant. The only writers I don’t care for are the ones who talk more than they type.

When I heard the call for indies to behave themselves, I nodded. Frankly, I’m tired of the indie versus trad argument. Having gone through this news cycle several times before in its various incarnations, I’m done. Nothing wrong with saying, “Let’s all play nice.” It’s about the least controversial thing anyone could say, surely!

Then the other shoe dropped through the glass coffee table.

In the very same thread that called for indies to be nice (ahem, to our betters) shots were fired the other way and several commenters took the call for indie authors to mind our manners as license to tell us how much we all suck. I don’t think that’s in the spirit of the peace treaty. I respect your choices. Please do not make assumptions about why I’m an indie author. Please do not generalize about why we’re “all” anything. No one has to justify their life choices to anyone who isn’t a business partner, spouse, federally appointed judge or priest, okay? And maybe not even then. I’m not fighting you, so why are you still fighting?

Repeat after me: We are all individuals! We are all individuals! If you write or read, by all that is unholy and wrapped in bacon, I love you all more than a basket of puppies and kittens slathered in chocolate sauce under a pile of thousand dollar bills.

Go in peace to your pad of paper or laptop or rock and chisel.

Write a book.

Read a book.

Love a book.

 

Filed under: author platform, publishing, self-publishing, , , , , , , , , , ,

Radio Show: Author Earnings Report and self-inflicted burns

Sure, it’s Valentine’s Day, so naturally you’ll want to…oh, right, we’re 21st century writers. There’s no time for that. So cuddle up with your honey and listen to Friday Night Writes with Tim Baker tonight on Surf 1700 AM Flagler Beach Radio, 8 PM EST. (Use the TuneIn Radio App if, like me, you aren’t in Florida). And if you don’t have a honey, Tim will be a fine substitute, I’m sure.

Tonight’s topic (possibly among other things): The Author Earnings Report

Co-host Armand Rosamilia is off tonight because he actually respects his love life. Without Armand, Tim will have to talk doubly loud as he discusses what’s on everyone’s mind, Hugh Howey’s Author Earnings Report. As detailed in my last post, definitely read the report, please.

Also, make time to read Hugh’s latest blog post, Luck and the Lottery, on some well-meaning alarm about self-publishing’s allure. You can be happy about the Author Earnings Report, but some are concerned your joy might be premature and unbridled.

I think most of those worries are like the instructions you get with a new iron. Company lawyers insist customers be warned not to iron their clothes while they’re still wearing them.

We get it. Most of us really aren’t that dim.

I appreciate the caveats about self-publishing, I really do. In truth, I think just about everybody understands that indie does not equal gold rush. The worries are misplaced.

What about the people who really don’t get it?

They’re probably determined not to get it, either because they’re selling you something or they’re hopelessly deluded and blinded by desperation and greed. You can’t save everyone from themselves and they might kill you if you try.

Hugh Howey is a great advocate for self-publishing, but as he says, he’s also been warning people to be realistic about their expectations for years. Surely he doesn’t have to keep warning them forever, does he?

Luck, as well as your meteoric talent, are involved. There are no guarantees of success where luck is a factor and there are too many variables to control.

Granted.

To which I reply, that’s true of traditional publishing, as well. 

And then there’s this quote from the Author Earnings Report: 

“More writers today are paying bills with their craft than at any other time in human history.”

Traditional publishing hasn’t budged much. What changed? Self-publishing is the new variable.

To me? BOOM! That’s the argument. Done!

~ Did you know I interviewed Hugh for the Cool People Podcast? He’s a really good guy. Give it a listen.

Filed under: author platform, publishing, self-publishing, , , , , , , , ,

The Author Earnings Report: You can stop being embarrassed now

I wasn’t going to blog about this since I wanted to get out my microscope and go through all the data and get deep. However, this week on ChazzWrites.com is all about resources for writers and publishers. The Author Earnings Report is out and there are some shockers in there. And not steak-knife-in-the-eye-first-thing-in-the-morning shockers, either. These are pleasant, somebody-else-made-the-coffee-and-oh-look-donuts! surprises. Well…lots of good news for indie authors, anyway.

It’s a big moment for us. I cannot let this slide until I’ve gone through it all. Besides, greater minds than mine are on the case. Joe Konrath, a must-read resource mentioned in the previous post, has jumped in with lots of easily digestible analysis at Newbie’s Guide to Publishing.

One important fact I’ve gleaned so far? I’m glad I’m writing in the genres I’m writing. Read for yourself. These numbers are inspiring.

In coming days, prepare yourself for some flailing spin from the Big Five saying the numbers mean nothing. They were quite happy with previous studies that touted the efficacy of traditional publishing, but those studies were flawed in favour of their confirmation bias. Whatever they say now is quite suspect, so read and think for yourself as more analysis gets out. You can also join the Author Earnings Report project and submit your data so it will only get more accurate and in-depth in the future.

Looking at the volume of ebooks sold, it does appear trad publishing has a lot to worry about. I expect this information will seduce some trad authors to move to publish themselves, as soon as, or if, they can get out of the cruel straitjackets of their contractual obligations and non-compete clauses. (And if traditional publishing is working for you, that’s fine, too. We’re not about naming fingers and pointing shame here. It’s about making informed choices and informed consent.)

This week a friend of mine (who had been screwed over by a small press) decided to self-publish. There was interest in the manuscript and she’s eminently promotable, but the years-long process filled with dead ends finally helped her hit the tipping point. She’ll start selling her book soon. Hers is both a marvellous and important addition to literature and readers won’t have to wait much longer to finally enjoy it. Once we get more data and analysis, I’m sure the numerical conclusions will support the decision she’s earned through personal experience.

Is it premature to say the revolution is complete?

Probably, but if you were embarrassed about going indie before this report, you’ve got enough data to dump that psychological baggage now.

Call up your parents and tell them that, despite their misgivings, your decision to publish your books yourself wasn’t an idiotic failure of mind and character. You stopped trying to woo frigid agents and pursue disdainful traditional publishing and it can be good, maybe even great. Your parents can be proud. You can be proud.

Let your indie freak flag fly!

Filed under: author platform, publishing, Useful writing links, , , , , , , , , , ,

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

The first 81 lessons to get your Buffy on

More lessons to help you survive Armageddon

"You will laugh your ass off!" ~ Maxwell Cynn, author of Cybergrrl

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An autistic boy versus our world in free fall

Suspense to melt your face and play with your brain.

Action like a Guy Ritchie film. Funny like Woody Allen when he was funny.

Jesus: Sexier and even more addicted to love.

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