Sunday, July 30, 2006

After LibertyCon

Hubby and I arrived home on Sunday afternoon after a couple of evenings in Chattanooga. LibertyCon was so much more literary than the other cons I’ve attended, it just might have been called LiteraryCon. Most of the “name” authors were with Baen books, including Special Guest Travis Taylor, John Ringo, and Julie Cochrane. I renewed my acquaintance with dark fiction writer Chris Barber and her husband, met editor/writer Judith Geary, and met author Stephen E. Cobb and his sister who was being photographer/gopher for him.

While driving home, I asked hubby what he enjoyed most, and although we agree that Travis Taylor may be the smartest person we’ve ever heard talk for an appreciable amount of time, The Atlanta Radio Theatre Company, directed by Bill Ritch, was the most entertaining. Speaking of Travis Taylor, he is not only smart, he is a superman when it comes to endurance. He was scheduled for seven hours straight on Saturday, and he didn’t even take lunch— I watched him scarf down some KFC during a panel and keep on going.

Due to my juggling schedules, I didn’t get a room at the con hotel, so I looked at and found a great hotel at an attractive price near the Con. We stayed at the Wingate Inn, near Hamilton Place Mall. Our stay featured a clean room, a really good breakfast buffet, high speed wireless internet, and not a great view. When I went in the first evening, a glance out the window revealed a giantic Barnes and Noble, so close that it was just about all we could see, which is rather ironic. I went to sell books, because Whiskey Creek Press doesn’t have any distribution to such vendors, so here I go hawking books at the con. The name authors seemed to think it was weird that we hauled our own books and other stuff around, but one attendee thanked me for “doing my job.”

I appreciate the people who came to the panels and “readings.” The people I met did indeed reinforce the idea that LibertyCon is the south’s “friendliest science fiction convention.”

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

“Show Me the Money!”

Romance Writer Brenda Hiatt has a page on her website with that title. Since she depends on volunteers to report the terms of their contracts and earnings, the survey isn’t really an accurate account of what writers make. The publishing industry is notorious for obscuring all sorts of numbers, from how many books are actually sold, to what authors make, and whether or not those same authors ever receive what’s due them.

As an ePublished author, I am a bit disappointed that so few such publishers are listed. Indeed, one of the ePubs listed isn’t in business anymore. However, it is really interesting to know that some books put out by ePublishers “earn out” at less than $100.00, while others reach as high as $9000. Of course, there is much more info on print publishers, including many of the traditional romance lines. If you want to know where the money is in publishing, especially in romance, take a look at her “Show me the Money” page. It really is fascinating.

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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Best Audience is...

I’m learning that the best folks to talk with about science fiction are the fans of the genre. Okay, that sounds like a “duh,” but my first book didn’t seem to require targeting an audience. At least not in the same way. Every time a local civic club called, I just went in with my speech and a box of books, talked for fifteen minutes and sold them.

Alas, no civic groups are calling this time, but I had a really great visit with the folks at the Atlanta Science Fiction Society when I was their guest speaker last weekend. Their questions were really interesting, and they were one of the best audiences I’ve ever had. While I was visiting and signing, they gave me quite a lot of good advice for new groups to visit, so I’ll no doubt have some new events to attend as time goes on.

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Saturday, July 08, 2006

The Downside of ePublishing

In June I made a couple of posts which were enthusiastic endorsements of eBooks and vendors. Honesty makes me publish this post, but I really am, for the most part, an enthusiastic eBook customer and happy to be an ePublished writer. Someone out there has to be saying that Pam is just plugging eBooks b/c her novels are available in that format, so here are some points for the sake of balance.

First, some of the ePubs are either not able to produce a good product, or they don’t concern themselves with quality. That was more of a concern a few years ago than it is today. Several of the early ePubs went under due to poor sales, and their sales sucked b/c the books did too. Unfortunately, today’s ePublishers are somewhat handicapped by the bad reputation garnered by some of the those early efforts which were not quality works, and by the occasional bad apple which still exists.

Second, being ePublished may not get you any respect. Indeed, having an ePublisher is sometimes equated with being self-published. My first novel, listed by Booklocker as an eBook and as a trade paperback by many online vendors, is self-published. I’ve written about the whys and wherefores of that decision elsewhere in this blog and on my website, so I won’t bore readers with that again, but suffice it to say that many folks do not distinguish between The Gift Horse, which was self-published, and Trinity on Tylos, which is a Whiskey Creek Press publication, other than by genre. Since I paid my cover artist and the fees for getting The Gift Horse in print and I didn’t pay Whiskey Creek Press, my checkbook and I see a big difference. (Huge!) However, I’ve heard fellow eBook authors lament that they have problems getting reviews and/or recognition by writer’s organizations. Actually, I’ve gotten reviews from four different sites, good ones for the most part, so I am quite pleased. The only problem I have seen has been in getting reviews has been from science fiction only sites, which seem to be rabid in their disgust with self-publishers, so I consider this unfortunate but inevitable.

Third, there isn’t much money in ePublishing. The percentage earned per book (i.e. royalty) is usually better than for print, but for many writers the numbers just aren’t there. This lack of sales volume is sometimes due to ePublisher distribution problems, but there still just aren’t enough converts to the format. (Not yet, anyway.)

My first novel didn’t make any money at all the first year, but I managed to make some in the second year after publication. Trinity on Tylos is still a loser, from a financial standpoint, and that is due to my promotional efforts, which includes a number of give-away copies, to reviewers and potential vendors. On the plus side of this equation is that ePublishers know it takes more time to find an audience, and they generally give a book two or more years to build an audience, which larger publishers and bookstores almost never do. So while I’ll probably report a loss in ‘06, I should make a profit in ‘07 and even ‘08.

Actually, my total sales to date are less for my ePublished book than they were for my self-published book at the same number of weeks after publication. (That is for total sales, not just eBook sales.) My promotional plans are a bit different this time, because of the change in genre, and due to this being a sophomore novel, which seems to be the red headed step-child of the publishing world.

Lastly, it is really hard to autograph an eBook. I’ve heard of ePublished authors giving away autographed “cover flats” but that seems kinda weird to me.

Here’s the bottom line— if any readers of this post are thinking about seeking publication, getting a contract with an ePublisher, even an award winning one, might not be the best thing that ever happened. Patience and hard work, especially in marketing, are requirements for this new publishing frontier, so if you want someone else to do that work, don’t bother with ePublishing.

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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

This is a hoot!

Usually, I write my posts off site, doing a spell check and some reasonable editing. In fact, I have my next post already written, but I came across something I wanted to share.

Over at the side, I have some links for folks interested in self-publishing, which I don't consider to be the fate worse than death that some people do. One of those is to the PODdy Mouth blog, an anonymous writer who has a hobby— searching for good books which were produced via POD.

One of her recent entries was just great. If you want a laugh, take a look at her random notes....

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Saturday, July 01, 2006

In Memory of Jim Baen

Since I have no idea if any science fiction fans ever read this, I don’t know if you’ll recognize the name Jim Baen. As a publisher, he was one of the more influential people in modern science fiction and fantasy. He died June 28, after having suffered a massive stroke on the 16th.

I didn't know him, although I once met his executive editor, Toni Weisskopf, at a writer’s conference. I am a great fan of Lois McMaster Bujold, whose debut manuscript was picked out of the slush pile by Baen. Through the sort of nurturing along that is rare today, but a trademark of Baen Books, she became a literary star. The Baen imprint is also home to David Weber, John Ringo and many other writers whose work I have enjoyed. Unlike most other publishers, he regularly took on new, unagented authors.

Baen's friend, David Drake, wrote an obituary, which is available online here:

Certainly, I hope that his friends and family will be comforted by the knowledge that he made a real difference in the lives of many people who never met him.

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