Thursday, February 17, 2011

Let's Start Here...

Dinosaur = a person or thing that is outdated or has become obsolete because of failure to adapt to changing circumstances (OED)
Daffodil = one of the earliest plants to emerge in spring, heralding a new season of growth and abundance (we hope).
In my view, this is where we’re now at in the continuing evolution of the world of genre fiction - the period when dinosaurs still rule, but daffodils are sprouting.
Qn: Will the dinosaurs turn around and stomp the daffodils into the ground?
Or will they recognize and nurture them so they can feed on the leaves and blooms?
Or will the dinosaurs be unable to sustain themselves on said daffodils and die?
(Note: Daffoldils are narcissi, therefore loaded with narcotics. Who said this wasn’t a good analogy?)
Dinosaur - as Anne Elk said, they are thin at one end, thick in the middle, and thin at the other end (tip of the hat to the Monty Python guys). I’m thinking brontosaurus. To me, publishers look rather like that - a huge body of workers in the middle, but with a long neck and a small head - meaning only a few people at the top with time and the task to look about and see what’s coming, sniff the air, and report back to the huge body. But the head is a long way, communication wise, from the huge body. And I’m not sure that the head spends all that much time looking around anyway, too consumed with the need to graze and feed that huge body.
As for the tail...that’s the analysis side of publishing, which is...well, thin. Not to say tiny. The “recognizing and noting and learning from past mistakes” department, which I’m not sure exists in big publishing at all. There’s always so much focus on dealing with “now” and of course the demands of “now” never end. Looking analytically back at yesterday, then projecting forward to tomorrow...who has time for that?
For me, the daffodils bravely blooming today are the prospects and possibilities for authors that are rising out of the e-book (r)evolution.
The indie authors are leading the way, with Konrath, Wesley-Smith, and a host of others giving support. This is a vibrant community, and one which has much to teach us all - I know I’m watching. Avidly. Excitedly. 
So much easier (and safer) to let others blaze the trail, and nurture, feed, and propogate the daffodils.
Which is why I’ve decided to write this blog. Because it’s not good enough for authors like me - traditionally published and settled comfortably in a niche with my name on it in the house of one of the Big6 - to simply sit back and let the revolution roll - and then at the end say: well, if they’d listened to us they wouldn’t have built that fire just there, in just that way, so that it got out of control, burnt all the daffodils, and left us with a lunar landscape.
That’s not a viable argument if we never raised our voices and spoke up in the first place.
So that’s what this blog is: a place where a successful traditionally published author will ask questions and raise issues. Nothing more, nothing less.
Whatever I write here is intended purely to provoke thought, and hopefully discussion. There are few if any absolute truths, definitive rights and wrongs in this business. What works for one may not for another. 
But overall directions matter. The skeleton of this newly emerging industry matters - to all authors everywhere - and it’s that skeleton that’s taking shape now. Today.
For established authors, standing back and not sharing our views isn’t helpful. Not to others, and also not to us. If we never speak, no one will hear us. And we - many of whom have been making a good living in this business for over 20 years - might have important insights that need to be addressed if we want this new revolution to play out to the best benefit of all storytellers and their audiences.
Because ultimately that’s who matters in this business - the storytellers and their audiences. Publishers, distributors, booksellers, librarians, reviewers...all those are facilitors in connecting the storyteller to their audience.
How well we all survive - storytellers, audience, and all in between - comes down to how well we all adapt to our changing circumstances.
Those of my peers who are attuned to analogies should be able to point to at least one “fire” already crackling (e-book price point), but that’s for another post.
The point of this first post is to posit this: traditionally published authors need to engage with this new world. It is not in ours or any one else’s best interests to let the revolution roll on without our input.
Authors at all levels need to join together and share our views - traditionally published, self-published, and all in between. As a reader, I don’t look at and don’t care who published the book - I only care about the story.
I’ll close this first post (I was going to call it a virgin post, but thought better of it) with the following observations:
One thing I know beyond question or dispute - I don’t know the answers, I don’t know what the landscape of genre fiction publishing is going to look like 1 year, 3 years or 10 years from now - and neither does anyone else. Period.
I do know that sittng in my lovely library writing my stories and effectively hiding my head in the sand (which I could so easily do) is not going to help me cope with the changes that will inevitably come.
If I have my head down, how am I to avoid a forest fire that someone else might have unintentionally lit?
That happened here on the day they call Black Saturday. People drew their blinds against the heat, sat down with a cold beer, focused on the screen and shut everything else out. They didn’t look out, look up, and see the sky turn red...not until it was too late.
Anyone for United Authors?
Anyone out there in traditonal-publishing land feeling schizophrenically torn between welling paranoical fear and burgeoning hopeful excitement?
One simple question to get the exchange rolling: as this new publishing landscape takes shape, what’s your greatest fear?



CAVEAT: Nothing posted on this blog, or in its comments, should involve commercially sensitive information. Contracted authors please exercise due diligence in your comments.
All blog posts by the author should be viewed as postulation. I love playing devil’s advocate, but I can guarantee my opinions will alter to reflect changing facts.

65 comments:

  1. Great post Stephanie. I remember watching an interview with the CEO of Harvey Norman, he was saying that the internet was no competition - I had already bought a fridge and a bed online. He has now changed his tune. Change comes whether or not we are ready and I think it is far better to accept and adapt than resist, though, as above, I am torn.
    Cx

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  3. Stephanie - this is a fabulous post. Thank you so much for voicing all of this. As you know, I am at the begining of my career - and the speed of this change is scary and head spinning.

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  4. Well said, Stephanie. For the first time in modern history, the storytellers are finally able to interact with their audiences directly. The question in my mind is how the facilitators, in particular the publishers, are going to keep themselves relevant in an environment where it's becoming far too easy for authors to publish themselves.

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  5. I suppose I'm feeling more excitement than trepidation, which is unusual for an old-fashioned girl like me. —Excited, because I feel many good stories are going unpublished because they don't fit into specific trends. I'd like to see more variety and innovation offered to the reading public. —Trepidation, because I love the feel of a physical book, the smell of the ink and paper, the weight of the book in my hand. I'm not ready to give up the sensory elements books give us.

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  6. Well said, Stephanie. I, too, feel both fear and excitement. The question has to be raised with the publishers: what are you doing to help authors navigate this brave new world? Technology now allows authors to go it alone in every aspect, but most don't want to go it alone and would prefer a cooperative effort. The strength of the partnership is good for all, but sometimes I fear authors are shouting this into the wind, our voices lost to the dinosaur heads above us.

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  7. Glad you decided to do this, Stephanie! What do I fear most? That the democratization of the internet, a feature of it that I love, by the way, will lead to the devaluing of content. We're already seeing the newspaper industry implode as professional journalists lose their jobs. I don't mind that if they find new places to bloom, but I fear they're being replaced by non-professionals who don't adhere to time-honored standards of journalistic integrity. If an audience grows to accept (as they already seem to be doing) that "nothing you read on the internet can be trusted" then we've lost that segment of writing professional, because the audience now just accepts that there's no "truth."

    I guess I fear that it will happen in fiction writing as well. I fear that without a gatekeeper (a publisher), in the long run we'll have lots and lots of books that no one is buying because they can't separate the dreck from the good stuff. Then again, I'm hopeful that NEW systems of gatekeeping will emerge. Because I'm sorry, but I DON'T believe that all books are created equal. There are plenty of bad ones out there. Someone has to sort the good stuff from the bad for the reader, and if it isn't a publisher, I'd like it to be someone I can trust.

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  8. I am definitely one who feels both terror and giddy optimism on a rotating basis. Love traditional publishing, desperately hope to keep publishing that way, but I also see that things are changing and I want to be educated as the wheel turns.

    Sabrina, maybe readers will be the gatekeepers, as they always have been.

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  9. Great post Stephanie - I love your dinosaur analogy, have long felt that that tiny head has little to do with the big body and that publishing can move with lumbering slowness. My newest book arrived just as Borders was collapsing so have seen a few distribution problems. I do think the big six known for the ability to distribute in huge number is partly what made them BIG. Losing shelf space, with not just one chain collapsing, but probably wholesalers questioning why they want to sell books out of Safeway or drugstores when so many are getting e-readers, is going to be a huge part of this change in bookselling.

    I'm more excited than fearful. I do see a tiny bit of power shift going to authors, and that's a good thing. Authors have suddenly realized they can sell their books cheaper and make more money with a bigger piece of the pie. And bring their backlist back to life! Books no longer have to disappear after four weeks ...

    But it takes a lot of work to put out a quality project without any help... I have a lot of respect for editors and the people who work in the publishing houses. They love books, work hard, and have been great champions for a lot of authors. The big publishers still have money and muscle but how will they use it? And will the midlist authors or writers lower on the food chain see more opportunities going it alone?

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  10. Wonderful idea for a forum, Stephanie.

    What pains me right now is all the free download sites for books, where readers think they're doing each other favors by posting books for free. As we all know, downloads have no limited shelf life. Considering that the music industry already went through this issue, the publishers should have a model they can use to stop the proliferation, shouldn't they? If free illegal content without penalties is competing with overpriced legal content, which is going to win?

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  11. I think change is always both frightening and exciting simultaneously. Some people naturally fall more on the excited side of the spectrum and others on the frightened side, no matter what kind of change is going on.

    Having said that, I also think that how authors view this sea change in publishing depends on how high up the Big 6 food chain they currently find themselves. The higher up you go, the greater the fear factor. The lower you go, the more these changes seem like opportunities.

    In terms of the gatekeeper idea, I'm not sure it actually works the way it's "supposed" to. I happen to think reality TV is dreck and ought never to have been put on the air. The gatekeepers clearly thought differently. For those of us who dislike reality television, every season brings fewer and fewer primetime choices...except that with the explosion of cable television stations and their non-Big 3 original series, the balance of choice has been restored. More outlets equal more diversity equal more choices for viewers.

    I get to be my own gatekeeper. And I like that.

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  12. I have experienced the effect and brutal reorganization of two business sectors from change in technology: the travel industry (travel agencies, where are they?) and music industry (been to a music store recently?) and watch the tremors within the book industry with trepidation and excitement. As a reader, there are more books to choose and a confusing muddle of places to find the material. Bookstores aren't for browsing weekly but are places for events. Getting personal recommendations means going to book clubs instead of a friendly bookseller. Other reading recommendations are strewn across the "new" media: tweets, blogs, Facebook, emails, newsletters, Amazon and it becomes hard to trust unless you invest time in the deliverer. I know authors are scared, but the ones to embrace the new "technology" will be the winners just as the other industries have discovered.

    So when can I expect to see you all in Texas for one of big reader events? Hmmm *grin*

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  13. Stephanie,

    Great blog! I'd love to chime in as someone who is currently doing both traditional publishing and self-publishing. In the past seven years I've written 8 trade/mm books for Pocket and Bantam with another 5 mass markets coming from Grand Central Forever in 2011/2012 as both Bella Andre (the super-sexy books) and Bella Riley (the sweet small-town books). Starting last April, I also began my self-publishing journey. I first put up 4 backlist books, but it was once I wrote and made available my first original ebook (LOVE ME which I also made available as a POD trade ppk through CreateSpace) on kindle, ipad, bn, smashwords, etc. in July 2010, that things really started to explode. Inspired by this success, I wrote a 2nd original book to self-publish and released it December 14th, 2010.

    Currently, Game For Love is #36 on the barnesandnoble.com Nook ebook bestseller list at $5.99!

    Honestly, it's about a big a rush as I've had yet. And by far the highest ranked, best-selling book I've ever had out. There are so many bonuses to it: Not only am I gaining a ton of new readers via my original ebook releases - but Grand Central is very excited on their end for my upcoming releases with them, starting this fall, simply because my reader base has grown so tremendously via ebooks in the past 6-9 months.

    To me, it just feels like a win-win for everyone. For authors who can get out books their readers really want. (That's why I wrote both LOVE ME and GAME FOR LOVE - they were both sequels to NY pubbed books that I'd been getting emails on for years - and boy did I have a good time with them. I felt so free as a writer.) For readers who can finally get the books they've been wanting and who are able to discover new authors. And, I hope, for publishers, who can capitalize on the success their authors are having in "the brave new world".

    In any case, my agent (Jessica Faust) and I have frequent long and winding conversations about it all and where it might go during the next weeks and months and years. I'm certainly hopeful.

    :) Bella
    http://www.BellaAndre.com

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  14. Fantastic blog, Stephanie. I too am a traditionally published author with three books coming out this year with St. Martins, so I'm definitely in a happy place in terms of my career. I love St. Martins, and I don't want to see publishers go the way of the dinosaur.

    BUT... I also had a book of my heart that I shopped around a while back, and no one wanted to publish it. I never stopped believing in it, however, so what's an author to do? With the new opportunities that have now emerged, I couldn't just let it languish on my hard drive, so I decided to experiment and self-publish it.

    I feel fortunate in that I have all my bases covered right now. I am contracted with a big publisher, but I am also dipping my toe in the waters of self-publishing.

    So far, the water has been very nice. My "unpublishable" book that no one knew how to position (because it crosses over a few different genres) just hit the bestseller list on Amazon with a promotional price of 99 cents and is currently selling at a rate of about a book a minute. So far, I've had good reviews, which tells me I wasn't wrong to keep believing in this book. (I also agree with Barbara Samuel that the readers will be the new gatekeepers. Word-of-mouth will sell the good books. But that's nothing new. It has always been that way.)

    If this current sales pace continues when I put the price back up to 2.99, I will make more money on this self-published Ebook than I have made in the past with my traditionally published books.

    I might feel differently about doing this if I was making a huge advance, but I'm not. We struggle, and it's not easy to make a living in this business. Most writers struggle financially. I felt I needed a different income stream to fill the gap between royalty periods.

    So I guess you could say I am in the "excited" camp. And for those of you who are interested, the book is called THE COLOR OF HEAVEN, and it wasn't that hard to self-publish.

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  15. I just need to add something. When I say it wasn't that hard to self-publish, maybe I feel that way because of the experience I've had in this business, and most of the authors here know what I'm talking about. I've been around the block; I know what makes a good cover, and I know how important it is to have an editor. I had it critiqued by a published author, I hired a professional copy editor when the revisions were done, and a gifted cover designer to help me with the cover. I did not just slap up a project without taking all the necessary steps.

    It takes a village to get a book out there. The publisher is that village, and if we are going to do it ourselves, we have to approach it with the same kind of professionalism, and never put out a sloppy product.
    But again, this is how the readers will guard the gates. If I ever phone something in, I'll hear about it from the reviewers and the book buyers.

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  16. Me again. I just realized I didn't answer the question you posed, Stephanie - which is what is my greatest fear.

    I have none. I'm not afraid, and neither should you be. Sadly, it's the publishers who should be afraid, because this is going to come down to a money issue for most authors.
    Maybe they need to raise that 25% royalty rate.

    I know that's a complicated debate, and maybe I don't know all the facts about the publishers' bottom lines. I only know about my OWN bottom line, and most authors can't live on 30K a year when we need to spend a big chunk of that figure going to conferences and self promoting.

    And I don't think there's less money to be made for publishers by providing cheaper ebooks. Readers have already proven that they will buy MORE books for their devices if the prices are lower. Instead of going to the bookstore and coming home with one ten dollar book, they will shop around online and buy 5 books for 2.99 and store them on their devices. This makes them happy, to have a large selection of choices in their possession.
    Again, the author should not be afraid. We're the content providers.

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  17. While I love the idea of the reader as gatekeeper, I'm cynical. Wonderful books that are published by major publishers disappear into the woodwork every day because the author didn't promote or the publisher gave it a bad cover or it was in an unusual subgenre, so how much more is that going to be the case with self-published books? USA Today changed their bestseller list to reflect self-published books, and one author landed on it. One. Out of all the many, MANY authors who are selling. Of course, they touted that one success wildly, but I will be much more excited when it's not just one break-out author.

    Julianne, I think you're right about self-publishing having to be approached with professionalism. Writers don't do themselves any favors by cutting corners on things like covers and copy-edits. Having been a tech editor, I would NEVER trust my own editing skills for a book. It needs another pair of eyes.

    I know I sounded negative earlier--but I was answering Stephanie's question about what we're afraid of. I DO see the potential of all this. Believe me, I've got backlist books, too, that I'd like to put out there. I'm considering that already.

    But to use the comparison to the music industry, I listen to a lot of Celtic groups. Some of them have exploded because of being internet savvy. Some of them have not, because they lack that skill set. In my estimation, both groups of artists are excellent musicians, making excellent music. I just find it a shame that the only ones who succeed are the ones with the skill set that has nothing to do with talent or good musicianship.

    I guess that's always been the way it is, even in traditional publishing. But I fear this will end up less a triumph of content over medium than a triumph of marketing over both. And I always hate it when marketing wins. It's probably the old hippie in me.

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  18. As someone starting out, it's definitely interesting times to be living in. One thing I wonder about is, as things move more digital (though I don't think paper is going anywhere for quite some time) is what replaces the browsing experience of wandering a bookstore and covers catching your eye etc which leads you to a new author? I find most online stores hard to browse through, I'm usually focused on a particular book and don't linger.

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  19. Hi, all - thanks to all who've posted. So thankful I'm not a lone voice in the wilderness here, talking to myself . Lots of good questions to address in future posts. Just to clarify, I see this blog as a place for conversation about the e-book revolution - doesn't have to be specifically about my posted topic. If you have something to air and question, just post in the comments.

    I see this blog as a place for genre fiction authors of all stripes, however published; genre fiction mavens - booksellers, librarians, reviewers; avid readers who want to know what's going on on the inside; and anyone else who has an interest in our currently crazy, crazier than usual, world. We need the conversation to start and continue - we need to know where we're at and where we as a group of storytellers and audience want to go. We're a tribe, if you like.

    So...before I go much further, I'm going to try to post this. I got up this morning, saw how many responses were in, and trotted to the other faster computer to reply - and a lightning strike brought down the power. I'm telling myself this was not a sign.

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  20. Mel - I have wondered the same thing. Since my latest release is not in Borders - how are people going to find out about it.

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  21. So...that seemed to work. First a few replies:

    @ Suzie and Sabrina - duly noted for a future post on free and/or devalued content. I might hold off a bit until we reach deeper into the readers and reviewer groups, but it's on the schedule.

    @ Mel & Sabrina - the browsing experience, ditto.

    @ Claudia - you make a valid point re the relevant position with the Big6 affecting outlook, but Im not sure it's quite in that way. I'll do a post on that shortly, too.

    @ Sabrina and others - bestseller lists. My next post, later this week.

    So now I'll answer my own question. Didn't before because I didn't want to influence you all. I've been following the reports from the digital media conferences over the last several months, and the one glaring thing that struck me was, these were all publishing insiders, of one stripe or another, talking to each other about how they were going to fashion and position themselves in this new world. The two groups who I did not see represented in any real fashion at these conferences about the structure of the brave new e-book world were...you've guessed it..authors and readers.

    I honestly don't think this approach is going to work. Publishers seem to have the notion that e-books are just another, albeit somewhat different, format of book, and that these products will still be dealt with more or less within their old paradigm way of operation. Any publishing people lurking, please do correct me if I'm wrong on this, but the perception I'm receiving is that publishers have taken the view that they will sort it all out - and then they will tell both readers and authors how the new world is going to operate.

    I have problems with that approach. And my problems are not that I have anything against publishers per se. Or any of the other middlemen involved. But as an author going forward into the new world, I'm going to have certain needs and wants that I'll need and want my publisher to fulfill. If said publisher comes to me with a fait accompli structure and says this is how it's going to be...I can see problems in our relationship looming. (This is a hypothetical, people - the point is to stave off the stand-off, so to speak).

    There already is a point of real contention in the way publishers have set things up - geographical restrictions. These make no commercial or otherwise sense to authors and agents or readers - in fact, can and almost certainly do adversely impact both groups - but the restrictions do make sense to publishers who are still locked in their old paradigm ways.

    That's an example of why I think we need this discussion, this conversation, so when it comes time to have a dialogue with our publishers about how this world can best evolve - and I do hope that will be sooner rather than later, and with authors as a group, not one on one (which will take forever, and we don't have forever) - both readers and authors will have a decent grasp of what is possible, what will work to satisfy us all. Idealistic, yes, but I've always (since I was a kid) believed in the adage: if you aim for the moon, but fall a little short, you'll still end up in the stars.

    So converse on, and let's see where this takes us.

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  22. Stephanie - I liked your United Authors suggestion. We just need to figure this all out.

    And thank you for starting this blog as a place for published authors to speak out and let our voices be heard.

    Sometimes I think we authors are too careful about what we say or reveal to our publishers, because we want to be loyal and supportive, and we want to continue to be offered contracts, but maybe we need to speak more freely if we're going to understand each other. It's not always easy. I almost deleted my last post for that very reason, but resisted the urge.

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  23. To expand on what Julianne said above, (1) Yes, we are careful, perhaps too much so, but understandably so. (2) Careful won't cut it. (3) Where is RWA? Aren't they supposed to be our voice to the publishers? If there was ever a moment to discuss hiring an independent board of directors, it's now. RWA cannot have blunt-speaking advocates telling the truth to publishers if they are also writers, for in representing our interests, they risk their own relationship with publishers.

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  24. @ LLG - an excellent point, although I fear things aren't going to change on the RWA front fast enough. I also would hope that publishers as a whole will comprehend (at some point in this (r)evolution) that they have nothing to fear from authors. They need to work *with* authors, start the dialogue and keep the conversation going until we get all the issues resolved - which will be an ongoing business for a while. But we will get there. Together or separately and the choice there is entirely one for publishers to make the call.

    I'm hoping RWA, PAN at least, will have a session on this in NY. Well, how could they not? It's the number one issue facing all authors. Lots of bits to it, but it's basically one issue.

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  25. Stephanie, thank you for starting this blog. I'm about to go to bed right now, but I'm going to bookmark this site and come back to it when I'm more awake.

    Bravo for asking the questions.

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  26. Wonderful post, Stephanie! The reference to daffodils and narcissi slayed me.

    I am all for United Authors. Have you all read Kristen Lamb's blog on the WANA theory of publishing? She has great solutions to this issue as well:
    http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/2011/02/07/working-together-to-renovate-publishing-the-wana-plan/

    I'll be interested to hear what you think.

    ~Jenny Hansen
    http://writersinthestorm.wordpress.com

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  27. Stephanie, I'm glad you started this blog and I look forward to future posts!

    Like Julianne, I had a romance that seemed unmarketable--even though it had gotten me agents, finaled twice in the Golden Heart® and won three other contests. It had a controversial premise and a convoluted history of submissions that ended with offers from two small publishers. Long story short, I decided to publish KISMET'S KISS myself on the Kindle, then B&N and Smashwords. I haven't looked back.

    I think you and LLG are right--RWA is currently slow on this issue. Hey, it's a great big ship they're steering, so it may not be able to turn quickly. I do understand.

    Still, as a debut indie author--with no backlist and no publisher help--I earned PAN money in a little over five months. 45% of that came after January 1, so sales are on a nice upswing. Alas, as an indie author I don't qualify for PAN.

    I'd like to see RWA be a bit more nimble about the ebook and self-publishing revolutions. And I do think those revolutions are here.

    When we have fewer physical bookstores--an idea that makes me sad, but it seems inevitable--the distribution advantage that NY publishers have had loses most of its value.

    Ebooks will be king. (Or in the case of romance, queen!)

    As Barbara Samuels notes, the gatekeepers will be readers. They already are. :)

    Based on reviews of my book and those of many other indie authors, readers' tastes are eclectic—more than that to which NY's *current* business model can cater. NY's marketing boxes made sense in the past—NY must sell books that most people will enjoy. Authors needed to submit books that could meet majority needs because low royalties per sale could be made up for by higher volume.

    But things are changing. Authors can now get a much larger percentage of every sale by self-publishing.

    In the future, NY might evolve as many of the smaller presses already have--but so far it doesn't seem to be adapting quickly to the new ebook/ereader landscape (or to reader and authors' needs).

    This, to me, shows there's plenty of room for other models, such as self-publishing, to flourish.

    Authors getting 70% of every sale and full control over their own work is a really nice thing. They won't need the large sales numbers or print runs of the past to make a living.

    And think of the bonanza for their muses, who'll no longer be shackled to those marketing boxes. :)

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  28. Interesting post and discussion, Stephanie. I'm with a big paper publisher - and two small ones. I've also put about 13 of my OOP books up for sale as ebooks, and am watching sales with interest. They're not stellar, but they're steady and decent.

    I'm also an avid reader, getting through about 150 books a year, and there I have a dilemma. After ten hours at least on the computer each day, I do not want to read on a screen/gadget. Nor do my eyes feel comfortable with it.

    I note the conference about the future of publishing didn't include authors or readers. All I can say is typical!

    I wonder, though, if this isn't too open a forum for a frank discussion?

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  29. Hi, Stephanie. My husband, who is a musician, commented the other day that book publishing is facing the same challenges music publishing faced a few years back when the digital music download industry was in its infancy. Recording artists now have more control over their product and distribution, and don't necessarily require the backing of a major record company. It'll be interesting to see if the book industry will follow a similar pattern in future.

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  30. Stephanie, great idea with the blog and excellent post.

    It's a balancing act. Publishers can concentrate resources - including quality control, presentation, advertising - on a few select releases and successfully get them into the readers' hands. That's good for those few books. What they can't do is offer a lot of diversity with so few slots.

    Meanwhile, the free market of e-reading offers that diversity, but without the quality control/presentation/advertising of the publishing houses, so there's a huge number of offerings - an overwhelming number, in fact, so it's easy to fade into obscurity. In addition, some of it isn't well done, which can be a turn off, or is for me. It's a catch-22.

    However, because the profit margins are so big on ebooks, and they're getting more profitable, it's surprising more established authors haven't jumped ship to self-publish at least on the side. Via name recognition, their voices can be heard above the din.

    Am I anxious ... eh. My very first RWA meeting in 1997 or 8 was full of just as much doom and gloom as we hear now. It seems to run in this industry like water through a creek so while I listen, I realize, too, that with great loss comes great opportunity. The market is changing. We should be aware of it. But worry? That's a waste of time and effort.

    Maybe a more appropriate - and useful - response is to be open to changes and ready to seize opportunities.

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  31. I'm torn between excitement and concern. Competition is a terrific thing, and change this shocking generally produces innovation and loads of fresh thinking. What concerns me is that pruce point issue, and the long term delfationary inpact on prices. The ebook has and will bring in a lot of new writers and perhaps even streamlined, specialized publishing houses. But .99 books, should readers come to expect them, will bring a host of serious problems--not the least of which is the need to sell more than twice as many copies to make a basic living. Mid-listers, like the middle class, may vanish. Or perhaps I'm just old and anxious? Who knows?
    Harry

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  32. Stephanie, thanks so much for this post. I've heard from some authors on this subject but not someone who sells as well as you do. I wondered what the more established and successful authors thought on this whole new digital/self-publishing explosion going on.

    For myself, who is very new to the publishing industry (my second book, A Taste of Desire was released Jan 2011 by Kensington Pub), this whole self-publishing explosion came at the perfect time for me. My option book was turned down by my publisher and this is truly the book of my heart. I truly believe it's the best thing I've written thus far. But I was going to dutifully stick it under my bed until I got a contract and then hopefully have my editor look at it and see what they thought.

    Then I received my royalty cheque and it then really struck me on how little money I was to make off of my books. I used to tell my other author friends that if they self-published or sold their book to an epublisher, it would be like giving it away. Turns out I was the one giving it away. That happened it December and from that point on I underwent a complete 180 degree turn when it came to epublishing and certainly self-publishing.

    I watched as one of my fellow Kensington author friends take the plunge into self-publishing and make more money on her one self-published book than she will on both of her contracted books. That's when I knew I would self-published the third book in the series alone. I got 2 beautiful covers for the novella and the 3rd book in the series, lined up someone to edit my books and I will be releasing both this year.

    In the meanwhile, I watch as my 2 books with Kensington books experience very, very nice digital success and I do thank God for my NY contract that helped me build a fan base that I now have in place to help me make the self-published books successful.

    Don't get me wrong, I haven't given up on NY publishers at this point, but nor am I pining away waiting for some editor to 'fall in love' with my book enough to contract. I believe as more established and NY published authors join the self-pubbed ranks, the whole landscape of publishing, self-publishing and epublishing is going to change.

    Beverley Kendall

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  33. Yes, but what is the air speed velocity of an unladen swallow?

    That, too, is not particularly useful information, until it is. Which is the problem we're all facing...no one knows which information is particularly useful. The truth is, it may all be useful, or it may just be useful only to the individual. Or there may be just one key fact that one person needs.

    This means the more discussion, the better. And the more points of view, also the better. At some point, with sufficient information, it should be possible to sort through this and get a better handle on things. That's one of the reasons I want to try everything.

    And it's something I found at last year the NINC conference, which was all about digital. The information distributed was a huge push for me to finally get my back list into digital. I've four books up and they're doing very nicely, and I've four more to convert. I'm also eying a couple of books that didn't get published and thinking why the heck not get them edited and out.

    Your column has also spurred me to get my own thoughts into words about how I do not think the publishing business as currently operates is sustainable. It's no longer building writers, and writing careers, not the way it once did. I'm not even sure it can go back to that model, since book distribution is badly broken (and that's not the publisher's fault).

    Which leaves us back into murky waters and the only thing you can do is stay open, stay interested -- absorb and learn. Which is not a bad thing for anyone.

    To quite TH White's Once and Future King, "The best thing for being sad...is to learn something. That's the only thing that never fails... you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn."

    Thanks for helping add to the learning.

    Shannon Donnelly
    sd-writer.com

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  34. Thanks for the opportunity to comment Stephanie. I've loved your work for years.

    I think big publishers (I think of them as the publishing royals)lost touch with their sources of revenue. Publishers are the middlemen. They don't create - they just sell. But they forgot their role in the "food chain" and decided they were too important to deal with those who created the product they're selling and with those who buy that product.

    That gaffe left a big hole. Amazon, Createspace, Lulu, Smashwords and other were able to surge into the void. Those businesses operate - like publishers - as links between the writers and the readers. Yet, they do more. All of them deal directly with the people who produce the products (writers) and with those who kindly purchase the products (readers).

    One of the first thing publishers need to do to survive is to recall their place as middlemen and to learn that they should be grateful to have the chance to work directly with creators and readers. Online submissions that are actually read and considered? Yes. Accepting direct manuscripts that provide most of their new writers? Yes. Online suggestions from readers? Yes. Direct marketing to readers? Yes.

    Publishers also need to change their royalty structures and pricing for the e-book generation. The publishers have to greatly reduce prices and then they can take the same 30% Amazon does. The rest should go to the writer.

    I think that there will be a place for publishers who recall their place in the supply chain. The others who don't deal directly with writers and readers will likely become as extinct as the dinosaurs.

    Quacking Alone

    All Day All Night Romance Divas

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  35. Inspired by fellow Ruby Slipper Sister (2009 Golden Heart®), Cate Rowan (*waves to Cate!*), I am also taking the plunge into indie.

    My GH finaling book was also deemed unmarketable, too niche. It got to final acquisitions meetings at several houses, and all the editors loved the premise, the voice, the writing, but ultimately passed because they didn't know where it would fit in their lines. The YA publishers all said it was Middle Grade. the Middle Grade publisher all said it was YA.

    In reality, it falls into that gray area known as "tween", where the readers are ready for something meatier than MG, but not yet ready for the more angsty and mature emotional themes of older YA.

    I know it's a good book. Like Cate, it garnered agent offers, contest finals, Golden Heart final, serious editor interest. So I've decided to give it a chance.

    I figure I have nothing to lose, and with Kindles, Nooks, and smart phones being the top Christmas present in my target age demographic, e-books will only continue to rise.

    Unlike Cate, I'll still be aiming towards traditional NY publishing on future books, but if this one is successful (and I haven't yet figured out what my definition of "successful" is...I don't write teen paranormal, so I have no delusions of ever seeing Amanda Hocking-type money) I may write sequels and leave them in indie. Who knows?

    My target demographic doesn't know a time when the internet didn't exist(!), so this is just a logical fit.

    It's an experiment, and with the rapid changes in the publishing industry as a whole, now is the time to do it. I expect to release "Codename: Dancer" in April.

    It's an exciting time, because now authors have the ability to interact more directly with their audience. In my belief, traditional publishing will always be there, but anything that gives readers more options is a good thing.

    Let the market decide.

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  36. Great post...I think the 25% net royalty on ebooks has GOT TO GO. But it won't until there are enough traditionally published authors who go independent so they can get 70% instead of 17.5%.

    I'll be watching this blog with a lot of interest. Thanks for starting it.

    Robin | Write2Publish | Michael J. Sullivan's Writings

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  37. Realize I didn't post my greatest fear. That those that go self-published will continue a raise to the bottom where all books are $0.99 and the author only makes $0.35 a piece. Personally, I represent 2 authors that collectively have 7 books (One sells 10,000 a month the other sells 6,000 a month) and the prices are $4.95 (well 1 at $6.95). I think these are prices readers are happy with but writers feel the only way to get a following is to dive for the $0.99 or $2.99 price point.

    Robin | Write2Publish | Michael J. Sullivan's Writings

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  38. Excellent post. Knowing that the readers are now becoming the gate keepers, pushing publishers and agents aside in the future, is both scary (for the publishers/agents) and exciting (for the authors and readers). Finally books who would have never seen the light of day are being published, and the readers decide what they want to read.

    And this gives indies like me (who never were able to attract and agent or publisher) the chance to ask the readers whether they want to read what I write. Apparently their answer is yes, because I sold 27,000 ebooks in January alone.

    My greatest fear? That the NY publishers dump a boat-load of free ebooks on the market and push us out. I can't compete with free.

    Tina Folsom
    http://authortinafolsom.blogspot.com

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  39. Nice post, Stephanie. Such an interesting time, right in the middle of a revolution. My greatest fear: nothing. With the walls between writers and readers crumbling around us, I believe it will sort itself out quite nicely; I trust them to work it out.

    As an indie writer I do believe the traditional publishing crew has much to gain (and vice versa) by the new paradigm if they're willing to take on the role of servant instead of master, facilitator instead of gatekeeper.

    Viva la revolution!

    Mark

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  40. And are you signing contracts in which you get a piddly 25% of electronic sales royalties? I suggest you consider whether you are sitting all that comfortably if that is what you are doing.

    Or are you bending over and...?

    Because anyone who accepts THAT from the Big 6 really, really should question what they are doing. Look at the REASON for the DTB royalties. And that reason (an more or less even split of the PROFITS) has never been applied by the Big 6 to ebooks.

    Authors are not only allowing themselves to be robbed. They are begging to be robbed.

    I suggest reading Kristine Katheryn Rusch's blog posts on the business of publishing. There is a woman who knows.

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  41. All I can say is WOW! This is the 2nd day this blog is running, we're still not past 48 hours, and we're logging more than 1000 views a day. Those views are coming from the US, Australia, Canada, UK, various European countries, the Middle East, and Japan.

    And I only told a handful of people - 4 private loops and 2 individuals - and asked them to spread the word. I'm not on FB or Twitter, which is why I have time to do this blog. But I am blown away by how this is growing.

    These are all fabulous posts, and yes, I am so glad I did this - but it's you all who've kept the comments coming, and I thank you for being willing to jump in.

    In an hour or so, I'll be back with a plan (the scientist in me) of how to best keep the conversation flowing, and yes, as Shannon noted, there's lots of disjointed points and issues, some of which connect and others which don't, so we will need a plan to keep focused and clear, and give ourselves what we need - time and permission to think and mull and reform our views as best suits our individual circumstances.

    @ Cate, Amanda, Beverley - thanks for sharing your stories and the thinking behind your ventures.

    @ Robin Sullivan -waving. I see you around on Joe's blog and elsewhere. Good to see you here - we'll all benefit from this.

    @ Jeanne - you've missed one rather big point that needs to be factored in when you wonder why bestsellers are still signing with Big6 publishers - advance. We're not talking small. That said, there's more tipping points coming, and I've already got that down to discuss in a future post. So...more to come.

    Back soon with a How This Blog Will Operate post.

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  42. How This Blog Will Operate:

    I’ll acknowledge the impulse to just jump in and put up my next post - strike while the iron’s hot and all that, right? But wait - this is one of the problems in this area - too much all at once, too many side issues distracting us, no focus.

    So...we need to give ourselves time and permission to think things through. Once I kick off a topic with a post, we need to comment, and then read others’ comments, think and digest - and some of us may want to come back and change our view, or post some new insight that has come with further thought. We all know the benefits of letting a topic rattle around in the back of our brains. New insights will come, and sometimes they are gold. Let’s give ourselves time for that.

    But we also don’t want to go too slow, because, frankly, we’ve a lot to look at, and as we all know and recognize, this world isn’t standing still. We are in the middle of a (r)evolution after all.

    So here’s how I propose to manage this blog:

    a) every week, I’ll post a new topic Friday am my time - for most of the world, that means the new topic will be up your Friday am, and for those browsing in the evening in the US, it’ll be there your Thursday evening.

    Reasoning - because we’re all busy writing, and some of us even have other lives (!) then more than one meaty topic a week is too much. So one a week, regularly posted, so you won’t have to keep checking to see if something new’s gone up - you’ll know when it will be there.

    b) sometime every Sunday, I’ll post in the Comments (just like this) to tell you what the topic of next Friday’s post will be.

    Reason - so you’ll have time to think about what your views on the subject are before you see mine, and also before you get a chance to post live on it. As I’ve stressed from the first, this blog is to be about reasoned conversation, and you don’t get reasoned conversation without thought. Also, springing topics on people can hit hot buttons, and while scandal always sells, again, this is not what this blog is about - I don’t want people putting up knee-jerk responses, and then regretting them, and potentially less helpfully to the rest of us, distracting everyone.

    (I'm having to divide this into 2 posts -> next post)

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  43. ALSO - 2 points:

    1) Order of topics - I’ve already got a list more than 10 long, and it keeps growing from your comments. However, as soon as I started looking at how to structure the flow of reasoned thought, I realized some topics must logically come before others. For instance, while one of the major topics ahead of us is E-book Pricing, there are at least 3 other points we need to consider first before we can have a truly worthwhile tilt at that - because those other 3 points impact on pricing. And considering the question of Free books/devaluing content logically comes after the price discussion. So the topics as they come up are going to be leading the discussion in a definite direction - keep following, and we’ll all get there, perhaps not in absolute agreement, but what I’m seeking to facilitate here is a more cohesive group mind. It’s an experiment - let’s see if we can pull it off. And yes, I am fully aware of how divergent our publishing backgrounds are, but we are all storytellers and/or readers - we have a vested interest in keeping our business alive.

    2) In response to the concerns JulianneMcL and AnnaJ raised - of which I’m also well aware and have a lot of sympathy for - I’m going to suggest something that isn’t usually done on blogs (at least not by design). I appreciate that there are many traditionally published authors reading this who would love to post a comment or raise a point, ask a question, but feel inhibited, for whatever reason, from posting directly. You shouldn’t be left out. So I’m going to propose that you can post by proxy. You can email me, or anyone else you are comfortable with who posts to this blog. And I or they will post your comment with the preface: SOMEONE SAID: That preface will instantly state that the comment posted is not from, and not a reflection of the opinions of, the person who posts it to the blog. Again, this is an experiment - if it doesn’t work out, we’ll drop it, but I can’t see any reason why it shouldn’t work.

    So onward. I’ll be back shortly with the title and scope of next Friday’s topic.

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  44. Thanks for the ground rules, Stephanie. I'll be watching this blog with interest.

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  45. Me too, Amanda. (*waves*)

    Stephanie, it sounds like we've got a great journey ahead. Thanks for the gathering place!

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  46. Next Friday’s topic: THE VEXING QUESTION OF THE BESTSELLER LISTS

    What do the lists mean to readers? (out of this comes why lists impact sales)

    Why the current lists no longer deliver what readers really want

    One suggestion on how to reformat the lists to meet readers’ needs

    This is the first of 3 posts leading to our discussion of E-book pricing.

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  47. Stephanie, thanks for creating such a thoughtful and well-structured forum for this discussion. I'm looking forward to each Friday.

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  48. Excellent post, Stephanie.

    The publishing biz changes so rapidly, my biggest fear is not being able to keep up.

    As a dedicated 'hardback' reader, I find the speed at which e-books have taken off is staggering.

    Looking forward to your weekly posts.

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  49. Uber super, Stephanie. Thank you.
    I've been in this shift for a while, working with my back list and trying to get down how self-publishing works. Many, many things to learn on this do-it-yourself route. (I've yet to try Bella's CreateSpace route, but it's on my list.)

    Many uncertainties lurk, but one thing is certain: If you have a back list, it needs to be out there and working.

    Another certainty: Some online groups, with back and front lists are actively sharing information, so which groups work well and which groups don't.

    Likewise reviewers and communities featuring book sales and reviews. Some are just more effective than others.

    With these changes, we need to balance both sides, and that includes our promo newsletters. Do people really read them? Ok, some do, so provide them email. Postcards, those mailing lists are definitely almost gone.

    Conferences, because of the costs, may be shifting, likewise membership within groups. We love our groups, but what we used to need at conferences (other than seeing friends) is now provided online/Internet.

    Best,

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  50. I used to get in trouble, both from my editors and my agent, for speaking my mind about publishers, editors, and the whole archaic process of royalties and getting paid twice a year etc etc...

    Part of the benefit of having been retired from writing for the past six years, is that I don't have anyone watching over my shoulder to see what I say that I shouldn't say *g*. So I will be reading this blog with interest, and contributing where I can. I've even piggybacked on your initial blog over at my blog (http://marshacanham.wordpress.com) when I tried to post here and it got eaten by the cybergods.

    Hopefully this one posts *grumble*

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  51. Woo hoo it posted. I might also add, I have recently ventured into the e-pub world, bringing four of my earlier books out of OOP obscurity and self publishing them. The experience has been an eye-opener, I must say, since I was a non-believer for years, thinking ebooks were never going to cut into print publishing. Wrong. I think more and more publishers are going to wake up to the fact that we can do it ourselves if they won't do it for us, and that unless they bring their whole system up to date, they'll be left holding nothing but big coffee table picture books.
    Why is it that publishers still don't realize that without authors...us...they have nothing? How long do they think authors will continue to accept 10-25% royalty cheques twice a year...if they're lucky...over 70% delivered like clockwork every month?
    Gahhh...don't get me started *g*

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  52. ***I'm hoping RWA, PAN at least, will have a session on this in NY. Well, how could they not? It's the number one issue facing all authors. Lots of bits to it, but it's basically one issue.***

    How bout we plan our own guerrilla one right now? We have the PAN lounge. We have the bar. And heck, if we really want to keep it private, my best friend's apartment is two blocks from the hotel. I'll host it!

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  53. GREAT post Stephanie. I came up in eBooks, and I'm still in eBooks and now traditionally pubbed. I am seeing a rise in my digital copies but not so much in my print sales. That's tough if you're new to NY like me. That and the fact that they put you in trade, so its even harder to get new readers to try your book when they can get two for the price of yours. And it takes time to build readership, print or eBook.

    I'm excited more than ever about eBooks, and yet I'm still leery of Amazon. I'm waiting for them to realize they've hit the mother lode and those 70% royalties are going to crash downward. But then hopefully there will be another innovative company that can balance that.

    I love being published by Samhain. They've got the marketing, the readers, the editorial and everything else going for them. The nice thing is that it's less headache for me. BUT for those books that weren't considered marketable by anyone, yep, those suckers are going up for sale as soon as I find the time.

    Does anyone have a list of editorial people, cover design people, etc. we could share amongst ourselves?

    And I'm with Isobel. Let's plan a guerrilla session if RWA doesn't sponsor one!

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  54. OMG, Marsha, you self published?

    Must. Find.

    I miss your books something awful.

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  55. Hi everyone. I'm a traditionally-published author who is looking to jump ship after years of New York. I also want to second Monica's request, especially for editorial.

    After the last wave of layoffs there needs to be good freelance romance editors out there who are available for developmental editing, but general Google searches are not giving me a lot of help here. Most of the people who have websites seem like shysters to me who are trying to fleece unwary unpublished authors, and I just have a hard time imagining working with such a person.

    I know I need the developmental/line-editing--there are some things I just can't see--but I also know that we're not talking more than 10-20 hours of work here.

    Monica, for cover art, consider Hot Damn Designs (google her, can't figure out how to link in this). I've seen some really pretty things that she has done, and she isn't charging a lot for them.

    And I'm sorry for the pseudonym, but I am going to be going back to contract in three or four months. I'm 90% sure I am going to say no even if they offer, but I want them to offer.

    How is that for irrational?

    Isobel, I am with you--we need an emergency session on this, and a guerrilla session if RWA won't organize a PAN meeting.

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  56. Robin Ludwig of RLDPrint.com prettied up the cover for Kismet's Kiss. She did really lovely work (if I may cheekily say that about my own book).

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  57. My editor said he loved my manuscripts because they were so clean. He said he barely had to use his red pen. I owe that all to TextAloud by Nextup. I'm not saying it replaces a content or copy editor but it does give every from my CPs and editor less to do. I have the British voice by AT&T Natural Voices (Audrey) and she reads my book back to me. I will always thank Kathryn Caskie because I stumbled upon this on her website. It's also very reasonably priced.

    www.Nextup.com

    Bev

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  58. If you go to the BacklistEbook website and join the email group, we share a lot of very excellent information and resources, including editorial people, formatting people, even where to get a book scanned and ready for uploading. Some of us do covers for ourselves and for others, but again there is a list of resources available. It's a great group of writers...over a hundred of us now, all figuring out this brave new world together.

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  59. Thank you, Stephanie, for founding this forum, which will provide a valuable service to all of us as we navigate these uncharted waters.

    I had written seven books before I finally sold in 2007. I never put any of those unpublished books under the bed as I believed all of them were viable. I now have four published books out with three more coming soon. I self-published two of my unsold books in November and December of 2010. I've made more on them in three months than I made in three years with traditional publishing. Readers are enjoying them and asking for more. While I intend to write my Fatal Series for Harlequin's wonderful new Carina Press for as long as they'll have me, I have more unsold books that I plan to self-publish in the next few months. I also plan to write some sequels readers have repeatedly requested. Everything is being professionally edited and covers are being professionally designed. I have three more already-written books, the series of my heart, that have never been shopped for a variety of reasons. I'm seriously torn about what to do with those books-to shop or self-publish? That's the $64 million question for me right now. But how nice it is to have OPTIONS. I've never felt like I had options before, and that is the best part of this new world order as far as I'm concerned.

    Incidentally, one of my traditionally published books was offered as a Kindle freebie the week my new release hit the shelves at the beginning of February. The freebie, which spent most of that week at no. 1 on the Kindle free download list, has since gone back on sale and got as high as no. 11 on the Kindle paid bestseller list. It is now at no. 29 out of 750,000 Kindle books and has been there for more than a week. It's currently no. 2 on the Kindle contemporary romance list where it has been for almost two weeks. The result of this has been a tripling of my daily self-published numbers as more readers discover my books. One of my self-published books is at no. 157 on the overall KIndle bestseller list and no. 14 on the contemporary romance list. The other is at no. 562 for all of Kindle and no. 48 on the contemporary romance list. I've never had such high rankings in my writing life, and it's thrilling to see books no one wanted (except my readers) doing so well. My self-published books are paying my way to RWA this year.

    Let's hear it for OPTIONS. :-)

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  60. Wow - I'm reading these comments and am even more enthused about this forum. I know I started it, but I didn't know how it would go. Yet already we have posters from one end of the spectrum (just starting or about to start in e-books) almost to the other end of the long-time traditionally published bestsellers (I would set the far end of the spectrum at someone like Nora Roberts). And yes, as Marie above noted, we now have options, but knowing which option is the best for you...not so easy without knowledge of the details, right? Or should we say, the details of the possibilities, as nothing is ever certain to pan out.

    I am totally in awe of some of these stories. It takes guts to go out there all on your own and make it work. More on Friday to keep the ball rolling.

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  61. Earlier Stephanie said..."There already is a point of real contention in the way publishers have set things up - geographical restrictions. These make no commercial or otherwise sense to authors and agents or readers - in fact, can and almost certainly do adversely impact both groups - but the restrictions do make sense to publishers who are still locked in their old paradigm ways."
    I am a Brit contracted to American publishers. Will the UK wholesalers consider carrying my book? (All are available in e-book format, only one in print so far) The answer is, 'No they will not'.
    Will the libraries accept my book directly? No they will not, it MUST go through their wholesaler.
    Will the book shops consider a booksigning promotion? No, they will not. The book must be on their shelves and come through their wholesaler. Sound familiar?
    It can be very frustrating.
    So what to do?
    Thumb your nose and go down the e-pub road if you want to get your name out there.
    Am I excited about the changes? Yes and no. As a technically challenged author, the changes are sometimes frightening, and I do love to hold a book in my hands when reading. It's like holding an old and comfortable friend, who is always guard take ove and control the new changes, I think it will be hard.
    But like any revelolution - and goodness knows we are seeing enough of them right now- the old guard usually have to bend to the will of reform or go under.
    They waited too long.
    I can't see the authors, who have created their own freedom, whether by setting up respectable and successful epublishing businesses for other authors, or by self publishing, giving up their freedom to control their own decisions to the dinasaurs who might try to enforce the old regime on the new boundries already leaving them behind.

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  62. Marsha, I wish I could join, but like many authors whose first contract was within the last five years, I do not control my backlist--and so long as I continue to write, I will NEVER get it back. I have out-of-print clauses for all my books, but I know they will continue to sell that minimum threshold for years to come--and I suspect if they're ever in any danger of going out of print, my publisher will drop the price, and never mind that would halve my revenue.

    It's this problem that makes me most want to go it alone. I can afford to forgo the advance for a few years, but I can't afford to give up the income stream in the longterm.

    I wish my books had OOP clauses that were tied to minimum revenues instead of number of books sold.

    Any suggestions for those of us who do not have a backlist?

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  63. I like the idea that the digital possibilities give authors a little more power in the negotiations with publishers (although I wonder if authors didn't always have that power, but were often afraid to use it, since saying "no" to a bad offer meant saying "no" to publication entirely).

    But I don't think it's that simple. Power shifts during negotiations all the time, and when one side gets an advantage, the other side will look for a way to bring its power back.

    I'm just thinking out loud here, but I wonder how that will affect the whole concept of grooming an author. I know that sort of thing has already eroded substantially, but what incentive does the big publisher have to be patient with a new author, allowing her audience to grow slowly, if the big publisher knows that as soon as that audience has grown to a sustainable level, the author is likely to dump the publisher and take the audience with her? Will the big publishers be even less likely to promote new authors? Or even existing authors? Will all the publishers devolve into a business model of "throw everything at the wall and see what sticks"?

    I'm not suggesting authors should be in a position where we're desperate recipients of publishers' largesse, but am just playing devil's advocate, viewing the current changes as a series of negotiations, rather than a single event where Everything Is Different Forever. Change #1 is that established (even if briefly) authors have more options for self-publishing and bonding directly with readers. What is Change #2 (response from the big publishers) going to be, and how do we prepare to offer them Change #3?

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  64. @Intrepid, if you're looking for legit frelance editors, I can certainly recommend ANovelEdit.com. She's done wonderful work with a couple of authors who've pubbed with a large traditional house, offers a FREE sample of her work before you decide, etc. There's going to be a real need for editors like that, and I think it's one of the jobs of authors supporting authors to ensure that GOOD freelancers are identified and rewarded, and the shysters identified and avoided.

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  65. As an author starting over, I find the current market intimidating in the extreme. I have quite an education ahead of me so I especially appreciate this blog. Epublishing? I hope I can get happy with it. I know it's happening big time and I have to Woman Up.

    I'll be back later...didn't read all yet, but I will. :-)

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