a day late and a dollar short

As usual, I'm late to the party. But doesn't my hair look sexy? Outfit is hot, huh?

Ya, anyway. My thoughts, somewhat unlike some of what I've read, in no certain order.

1. Upon hearing of a writer, any writer, even one who could sell books on looks and utter coolness alone, giving up a 500K 2 book deal my first thought was: What The Fuck?  Yup, all spelled out in bold and italics. Even after spending some time (about ten seconds-I have a short attention span) considering that advance spread out over a couple of years with all the contract requirements (a percentage upon signing, a percentage upon turning in said first book, etc ad nauseum) I still thought WHAT THE FUCK?

2. It's super duper easy for Konrath and his cronies (which is a little bit how it's feeling to me. Sorry Joe. I owe you a drink for any potshots I might make here) to rave about self-publishing. They did their time in the trenches of "legacy" publishing. (Which I think is a stupid name, btw. Traditional is fine and can carry that Evil Axis connotation you're going for.) I don't resent them that. They started before me and did better. Luck of the draw, all that. But they did publish traditionally. I find it interesting how new writers seem to ignore or avoid that.

3. I didn't know who Amanda Hocking is. Short version: self publishing queen. I googled her to find that JUST YESTERDAY she signed a million dollar meal ticket deal for her next series. So. Ya. Whatever that means. (It means, to me, that she just might be smarter than Eisler, which is no small thing.)

4. My deals are for royalties only, and I'm glad. I don't want to fight the earn-out battle any time soon. I think it's the way the industry should and will go, when the Big 6 pull their heads out of their asses. Eisler and Konrath have some great things to say about how the industry is working all old school and shit. Worth reading.

5. I still believe in editing. I know, bias. I am an editor. But I really, really believe in editing. I won't name names, but some of these self-pubbed and eBooks could use a good dose of it. I have yet to read an eBook without mistakes (paper ones often are really tight) and word on the street is the vast majority of self-pubbed stuff is awful. I'm not the only one saying it...

6.The "Big Four" are writing thrillers, thrillers, thrillers, and YA. Pretty much two of the biggest sellers in the marketplace. (I've always considered romance in the lead, but I don't have numbers to back that up and I'm too lazy to run off and find you some.) I write erotica and fantasy. Erotica does notoriously well for some writers.  (See point 9). Fantasy? Ya. Not so much.

7. I still have my doubts on the market reputation of self-publishing. The first question I tend to get when I tell people I have two books coming out this year - and I just got this question from a teenager at a restaurant, btw - Is it self-published? Readers want vetting. They want a gatekeeper. They're not like music fans (a difference between the industries, I think) where they like to seek out a song on YouTube or MySpace or the radio, or listen to a band in a bar and make up their own mind.

8. Thriller writers spend a whole hell of a lot of bar time at Bouchercon discussing sales and contracts. They're a lot of them men, for one, so there's all that posturing and bullshit. But srsly? Most fantasy writers don't have enough sales to write home about, much less brag on at the hotel bar. And you'd only alienate everyone around you anyway. Plus, fantasy writers read excessively in their genre (I sometimes wonder what thriller writers read. More weapons manuals and politics blogs than fiction, I suspect, which is why some of their characters seem so flat.) (Okay, I'm kidding you, thriller writers. You know I love y'all, right?) (Please don't make a New Cabal and squash my hopes and dreams...)

9. Ahem. Moving on. Backlist. By far the majority (I feel stupid using that term when we're talking, what? waaaaaay less than 1% of published writers, if that, who are making a living off Kindle sales.) But to me, the one thing that jumps out at me is BACKLIST.

As in Get One. Now.

Amanda Hocking has written a bunch of books in the past few years. So's Konrath. Folks are making money off the backlist. So when a customer buys one of your books and likes it, s/he buys the rest. I just did that with a series myself. It's the way it's been in publishing and book buying, like, forever. (I mean, how do you think the Bible got so long anyway?)

A feverish pitch of sales seems to build around backlist. A series. Whatever. There must be a number of books to build sales. Yes, there is the rare one-trick-pony, but who wants to be that pony?

So. I know you're all waiting with baited breath, fingers tangled in those little hairs at your temples, spine wrought into an unyielding rod, that little vein popping from your forehead...

What does this all mean to me, Sex, of Sex Scenes at Starbucks?

It means that right now I'm staying the course. My plan is to write several books over the next two years, something along the lines of 6, keeping in mind that my SALT ROAD SAGA books are more novella length. (LOST PRINCE is just over 40K words). I am building a career, not launching one. Writers are always looking for "the break" but I think the best thing about the eRevolution and smaller publishers is the opportunity for midlist and lower authors to BUILD careers, rather than make or break them on advances. I still plan on letting my publisher, whoever that may be, do all the back ground work like editing, formatting, and submitting to alternate retailers. Do they do everything always to my satisfaction and personal schedule? About as well as whenever something is done by committee, which is what I believe bringing a great book to market requires.

I also have another High Fantasy series concept with a solid first book. Not sure where I'm going to market with that yet, though editors seem to like it (haven't found the right market, keep getting the "This is awesome, not right for us, damn it" rejection). So I'm still debating where to place that one.

I also have SILVER SCAR, which I'll submit to agents.

And I'm going to promote the fuck out of my books as they come out, especially the SENTINEL series. I'm going to make the investment. Because I believe in the damn thing. And because that's what writers do, no matter how they publish. The good ones anyway.


Beth Partin said...

I believe in editing too.

Most of the writers who self-publish or who think self-publishing will be their ticket out have no idea how to promote their books so as to sell them. They have no idea how long it takes.

Mario said...

Great rebuttal to the whole self e-publishing rant. Thanks.

sex scenes at starbucks, said...

Well, I hate to think anyone thinks I hate self-publishing. I'm a free-for-all artist. Pick your own path. All that.
But I also hate for people to think it's a rags to riches scenario for more than a handful of people, too.

Alan Orloff said...

Well said.

Alan Orloff said...

(BTW, I enjoyed your story in Deadly by the Dozen!)

Les Edgerton said...

This was soooooooo good, Betsy! Everything you said was spot-on, spot-on, spot-on. You rock!

sex scenes at starbucks, said...

Thank Alan! It's in good company in that anthology!

sex scenes at starbucks, said...

Thanks, Les! :)

Kieron Heath said...

Go for it. That is all.

Anonymous said...

Oh, relax. You're not late to the party . . . there is no party.

I'm on the fence about whether to do the self-pub thing or not. I've been on the fence for three months, so getting there has hardly been a conversion to fanaticism.

sex scenes at starbucks, said...

I think it's cool writers have options. I just want writers to be informed.

Kieron Heath said...

What's interesting is that self-pub authors always need to have written a book about self-publishing and how you too can do it. I am sceptical about these sorts of self help books anyway, makes it worse for me when it's to do with writing.

I like your point about having a back list. I think there is a lot of interest from readers as well as publishers; to finish the series or to read more of your work.

We spoke about this before and I agree that self-pub only really works if you have already built a base for yourself, to bring that readership from traditional publishing into self-publishing.