Tag Archives: publishing

Wherein I Rant a Bit…

Standard

Agent Rachelle Gardner has a great post up today that was sparked by her reading Steve Jobs’ biography and his line “When the sales guys run the company, the product guys don’t matter so much, and a lot of them just turn off.” and how it relates to the publishing industry.

I’ve felt the same as Rachelle for the past few years. I mentioned on Twitter the other day that I see so many readers clamoring for more urban fantasy books and so many amazing writers complaining that their urban fantasy series was either not picked up or it was canceled. I’ve heard time and time again that the UF market is tight and that demand is on a decline. Well, maybe demand from publishing houses is on the decline, but that’s not true for readers.  When shows like Lost Girl, Supernatural, and Grimm are so popular, how can anyone say there’s a decline in interest in urban fantasy?

What readers don’t want is to pay $8 for a book that is as poorly written, error-riddled, and cliched as the self-published book they paid $.99 for. Not that I’m saying all self-pubbed books are like that. I know some self-pubbed authors who go above and beyond to put out the best book they possibly can. What I am saying is that readers buy books published by a big name publishing house because they’ve come to expect certain standards from those houses. Unfortunately, I’ve seen a sharp decline in the quality of books coming out of those houses. It’s gotten to the point where I won’t pick up a new urban fantasy author until I’ve heard some pretty glowing reviews from people and places I trust (especially now that Amazon has stopped offering their 4-for-3 mass market paperback deal)

The biggest issue, IMO, is that as soon as the genre hit big, publishing houses scrambled to sign as many urban fantasy writers as they could, regardless of how good their story was, in order to make as much money from the trend as possible. When those poorly written, badly edited stories came out, readers reared back in disgust and refused to partake of the dreck they’d been served. Now, the publishing houses, seeing how poorly those titles have sold, are saying that the market is in decline. Ummm… no. It only looks that way because you guys fouled the well.

And, it’s not only urban fantasy this happens to. Every genre that experiences a surge in popularity goes through this same cycle. You would think that the publishers would realize the pattern by now, but no. Or, maybe they do. maybe this is all a deliberate marketing strategy. I don’t know.

What I do know is that I keep hearing agents, writers, and editors all saying that the industry is driven by everyone’s passion for good books and not money. If that’s the case, then why are there so many atrocious books on the market? And I’m not just talking story-wise since that’s so subjective. I’m talking about books with plot holes as big as a house, books that have copy-editing errors on every other page, books that switch POV within the same freaking paragraph. If the industry is driven by a passion for good books, then PUT OUT good books. Otherwise I call shenanigans.

 

I’m Sick

Standard

I’m sick of hearing that in order to “make it” you must put out X number of books a year.

I’m sick of hearing that you’re not a “real” writer unless you devote X number of hours a day to writing or write X number of words a day.

I’m sick of hearing that in order to gain fans you must be a social media wunderkind.

I’m sick of hearing that you must do X or you must do Y in order to achieve the same type of acclaim as famous writer Q.

In short, I’m sick and tired of people proclaiming that there’s only one path to success in this business. Every writer is different. We are not interchangeable cogs in a machine. And I will not be treated like one. I’m going to make it in publishing and I’m going to do it the way I want to do it. And I hope the rest of you follow your own path to your own success.

I’m Still Alive

Standard

I know I haven’t been posting very much lately, but life is so hectic right now.

I’m trying to whip When Demons Cry into better shape by adding scenes and expanding the ones I already have.You would think, since I already know what’s going on, that this would be easy. But no.

I have a friend’s manuscript that I’m critiquing. Or, to be more accurate, I’m trying to find the time to critique a friend’s manuscript.

After more than eighteen years of not going to the dentist, I’m now playing catch-up with them. This coming Monday I’m having three wisdom teeth pulled. Yikes! This will be my very first serious medical procedure. Then there’s the consult with the orthodontist next month to discuss possibly getting braces. Then there are cavities to be filled and a chipped tooth to be fixed. I’m not sure if, at the end of this, I’ll be terrified of going to the dentist or blasé about it.

Along with all of this comes the standard holiday chaos. Thanksgiving this week, Christmas a month from now. Yikes!! Christmas is only a month away. There’s so much I need to get done before then and no way it’s all going to be accomplished.

I need to start planning an actual website for myself and not just this blog. I tried explaining to my husband why I wanted a website before I’ve got a contract, but he just doesn’t understand. Ah well, I love him anyway.

At least stressing about all of this other stuff is keeping me from stressing  about being out on submission, right? :D

 

Say Yes to Gay YA

Standard

I’ve been following the Gay YA debacle for a few days now and I have to admit that I’m left with a bad taste in my mouth. For those who aren’t aware of the kerfuffle that’s been raging, Cleolinda has a fabulous run-down of it on her LJ. It’s very long with lots of links, but she does a great job of breaking it down. YA Highway also does a great job of explaining the situation.

What I’ve come away feeling is that both sides have handled this badly. If I were the authors and I was trying to shed some light on the fact that the publishing industry as a whole isn’t as YA-friendly as they claim, I would have left out that individual and very specific incident and just made a general statement about what went on. The publishing industry is so incestuous and gossipy, they had to have known that the identity of the agent in question would get out at some point.

It came across, to me, as very passive aggressive. “Here’s this horrible thing that happened to us. We won’t name names ,but we know the name will get out sooner or later, so nyah!” I deal with that sort of childish behavior on my personal Facebook page. I sort of expected better of professional business people.

Joanna Stampfel-Volpe’s rebuttal and Colleen Lindsay’s note were an example of what NOT to do. They turned an already contentious issue into a mud-slinging fest complete with unverified assumptions and baseless accusations.

I don’t think either side had malicious intent at any point in this debacle. It seems to me that it’s just one huge misunderstanding wrapped with a giant bow of hurt.

What I think everybody involved can agree on (and, in truth, it was the main issue of Sherwood Smith and Rachel Manija Brown’s original post) is that there need to be more QUILTBAG characters in not only YA, but in literature of all shapes and sizes.

But, and here’s the rub, publishers aren’t going to publish something unless there’s a market for it. Publishing companies are businesses, they’re in this to make money not bring about societal change. Although books are instrumental in societal change, it’s not a publisher’s first concern. Nor should it be.

If books with QUILTBAG characters don’t sell, then publishers won’t publish them. It’s the same as with sparkly vampires, if they don’t sell they don’t get published. So, if you want more books with QUILTBAG characters (I know I do!), then get out there and buy the ones that are already out there. Email publishing companies asking them for more books with QUILTBAG characters. Make your preferences known!

Don’t Be A Dick

Standard

It seems like every couple of months or so I come across an Author Behaving Badly on the internet. This week’s ABB is Kiana Davenport who is currently having a very public meltdown because her publisher cited her for breach of contract and is asking for their money back. What, oh what did Ms. Davenport do to deserve such a fate?

According to her blog, Ms. Davenport self-published a collection of short stories and her publishers asked her to cease which she refused to do. Her blog post is full of drama and hyperbole and bashing of the traditional publishing model, but the very wise people over at the Absolute Write forum have kindly explained in more detail and less “woe is me’ing” why this outcome may have come about.

But this specific instance isn’t what I want to talk about. I want to talk about how to behave online when things aren’t going so well.

DO NOT publicly rant about your publisher/agent/editor online. Just don’t. This is the equivalent of a toddler having a meltdown in the middle of Walmart. It’s not pretty and you’re showing your immaturity to the entire world. If you really feel the need to bitch, do it with your best friend/significant other/dog/diary.

Anything you post online stays online. Even if you later delete it, chances are that somebody, somewhere grabbed a screenshot or a cache of it is sitting on a server somewhere.

Unless you’ve got the writing ability of J.K. Rowling or Stephen King, publishers and agents don’t want to work with authors who are pains in the ass. They WILL Google your name. If you’ve been previously agented or published, they WILL talk to your previous agent/editor.

This doesn’t mean that you have to be nothing but a slavering sycophant to agents and editors. What it means is don’t be a dick.

Publishing is a business, so act like a business professional. The other people involved in getting you published are also business professionals – treat them like they are. You hold your publishing career in your hands, don’t crush it by insulting and alienating those people best able to help you achieve your goals.

Clear, calm, and open communication between rational adults will always win out over a three-alarm meltdown.

Be respectful, be mature, but most importantly of all be smart. Think about how what you post online is going to affect you not only now, but six months, a year, five years, ten years down the road. Will it be a memorable Rejection Queen affair? One that will kill your career before it even gets started? Will it disgust and piss off a large portion of your readers a la Laurell K Hamilton and Anne Rice?

If you really feel the need to blast somebody online, take a step back. Disconnect your internet connection for a bit until you’ve calmed down. Take a bath, have a drink, blast away video game zombies. Do whatever it is you need to do to not make an ass of yourself.

 

 

Why I’m Going the “Traditional” Way

Standard

There’s a war going on in the publishing industry. Both sides think their way is the One True Way and they’re willing to stop at nothing to make sure everybody knows this. They’re blinded by their fanaticism and need to prove themselves. Prove themselves to whom, I’m not sure.

The combatants are the fanatical adherents to the “traditional” publishing method and those who steadfastly believe that self/indie publishing is the ONLY way to go.

Those of us stuck in the middle, we just want to tell a good story and have people read and hopefully enjoy that story whatever format we end up going with. We don’t want to be constantly lambasted by one side or the other about why the other side is evil and doomed to failure. Or why their side is the One True Way to Success!™

I chose to go with “traditional” publishing for many reasons. I can rely on my agent to find me the best publisher for my novel. I won’t have to pay out of pocket expenses for editors/copyeditors/cover design. I don’t have to waste precious writing time designing my covers or formatting the book.

I know that I will have to spend at least a bit of time marketing my books, but that amount of time will be a lot less than what it would be if I were going this alone.

Not only that, but there’s the potential to reach a wider market.

It seems like indie/self publishing is all about e-books rather than dead tree books. I refuse to publish my books as just e-books. I want actual dead tree books that I can hold in my hands. Why? Because I don’t read e-books. I personally don’t like the experience. Yes, POD services are available, but I believe that, at this point in time, they are cost-prohibitive. I very rarely spend more than $10 on a book and only then on hardcover editions of books I adore or reference books. And I know a LOT of people who feel the exact same way. Either they can’t afford to buy an expensive e-reader or they just prefer paper books. Why would I want to cut them out of my fanbase?

With “traditional” publishing, I’ll be able to offer both dead tree books AND e-books to my readers.

What the fanatics on both sides of this war don’t realize is that they’re both right. Their way of choosing to publish *is* the One True Way to Success!™ For them. It may not be the way to success for somebody else though.