Sunday, February 27, 2011

Black Swans in Publishing

Few saw the coming of the digital age for publishing-- at least for the tsunami of epublishing these last two years. It went from a marginal niche to the new way of things. Many have still not come to grips with it. It's difficult for most people to change a paradigm, when that is all they've ever known.

This kind of all-out-of-proportion change is called a Black Swan event, from the book by Nassim Taleb, not the ballet movie. If your living depends on having things remain on an even keel, an affecting Black Swan event can be devastating. Thus it is with the big publishing companies now. They're not adapting, and the money and talent are going elsewhere. If they cannot adapt fast enough, they're likely to become a thing of the past.

People are scooping up e-reader devices as they become more prevalent in the marketplace. Soon, most will want one because they know a lot of other people using them (humans are herd creatures). And readers need content, but the big publishing houses aren't pricing their products well, so people are finding new markets. Thus the new places for writing are growing, and the former big boys are going to be left behind.

This does mean good things for you readers, however. You won't have to wait three years or more for a book by an author you like to come on the market- it can hit the e-pub world much sooner. It means good things for writers, too, who can get their works to the readers, and keep their backlist books in constant print.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Another Story Sale

For some time, I've been joking that to sell another story, I just need to write a new one. Not that that one will sell right away, but one of my older ones does. Has happened a few times.

Been working on getting novels out, so stories have languished. Even though I sold two poems this month, it's been awhile since I wrote a new story, or had a story sale.

So I determined to get a new story done this weekend. Started last night, with only a title and a vague idea of a scene. No idea where the damn thing was going, what was going to happen. But got a pretty fair opening paragraph done last night, and more today.

Then got an email saying that The Funny Times has accepted my short humor story "The Thriller Writer" for their April issue. Now THAT'S funny.

So that seems to be the rule-- the harder I work, the luckier I get. At least with stories, anyway. Now if we can just carry that over to the novels...

Friday, February 18, 2011

Another Poem Sale

Well, this has been a good month for poetry-- just sold "Memories" to Poetry Quarterly.

Only recently started in the poetry field, almost by accident. Had one I thought was worthy, and it got snapped up ("Dead Things," out in Ghostlight magazine), so dug through the files, dusted off some old words, and they shone.

Two new sales this month, and another considered with a small rewrite. That's two thirds of everything I'd written. Keeps me going, especially since the story sales have slowed. Need to write more, but am currently busy with two book revisions. Nice to know the work I can finish and submit so often finds a home.

In this field, I've found that the harder you work, the more you produce, and the luckier you get. If you want success, keep at it. No place for slackers.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

RIP Borders

Bad news today- another bookstore chain down the tubes. Borders announced Chapter 11 today.

Our local one is a great one-- I've spent a lot of time and money there. Sad to think it's going away. It's amazing- they've spent a lot of time and effort these last few years redesigning, tweaking, shuffling stock.

They keep trying to sell me a premium upgrade to my rewards, which costs $20. I'm one of those people who figures the price out of what I'm paying before I get to the register. When you hit me up for more cash on the spot, I tend to say no. I'm also at the end point of shopping, and thinking of what I need to do next. So I don't like fending off a hard sell, good deal or no.

Now that I think of it, I cannot recall attending any book signings there. Company policy? The Barnes and Noble, a little further up the road, has had many. Just saying.

Tough market for bookstores out there. Maybe they should start carrying quality POD books, which most don't. They're missing out on a major market. My novel is due out soon, and likely won't be available in bookstores. So it's no surprise they're dying off faster than dinosaurs after a comet strike.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

Hope everyone has a Happy Valentine's Day, and are able to share with someone you love.

One thing that has put a tarnish on this holiday, as well as others, is greed. I've always hated it, because it brings out the worst in people and businesses. I'll pay a fair price for goods or services, but when it becomes clear that they're greedy, they get no business from me.

I'm willing to pay a decent price for flowers throughout the year, but when these florists jack their prices up to triple the cost in the week before the holiday, my response is to buy nothing from them. And it puts me off for a long time after, so they wind up losing in the long run. They make a habitual customer decide to stop the practice of buying from them. I even tried online-- found a good ad with a good price, clicked through, and found out at "checkout" the price with hidden charges was almost double. They wound up with no sale, forever. Won't try that again.

Cards, too. I was a big card person, always sending them for holidays and special occasions. The price of those shot up. I will not pay four dollars for a card-- even if I was rich, I find that cost for a piece of cardboard that gets looked at for 30 seconds to be egregious. And so I stopped buying those, too.

Let's not talk about airlines. If they all went out of business, it would be a good thing, because someone would then come along with a new one and offer real customer service, like they used to. I'd love to see someone crush those ripoff companies with their extra, hidden charges. I think Southwest is trying this a bit, and seems to be doing well. Given a choice, I'll deal with the company that offers customer service, and will not ever buy from one that rips me off and treats me like cattle. Listening there, companies? You should.

This is also why the big publishing companies are crumbling. For years they held the power and could overcharge the customer, while screwing the content producer. Now the tables are turned, and they're crying in their champagne, because the golden goose is gone. They could have jumped on the ebook bandwagon, promoted it, charged a fair price, and kept their position. But people want to buy an ebook for $3, not $10, and so they found ways of doing it.

What examples of greed do you see that you loathe?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Poem sold

Just got word that Every Day Poets has accepted my poem "Leaf Peepers" for publication (after asking for a needed revision). Will post here when the publication date becomes known.

This is my second poetry sale (the first was "Dead Things" in Ghostlight magazine), so I can safely say I've branched out. I know there may not be much crossover for fiction readers and poetry readers, but writing poetry well is great training for a fiction writer, where every word must mean something, and fit into the whole.

It's a shame that more people don't read good poetry, for at it's best, it expands the mind. Some combination of words to conjure a picture, a feeling, a mini-story.

There's a few poems I can still recite, and others I know parts of. "Jabberwocky" by Lewis Carroll is an old favorite I got to share with my daughter when she discovered it in school. "Annabel Lee" by Edgar Allen Poe was one of my father's favorites, and I love it as well.
(As a big Poe fan, I'm thrilled that my other daughter just got a 98 in Honors English on her Poe project. I told her she'd made an old writer happy!)

Do you have any favorites?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Award Nomination

Latest news-- my story "Bootleggers" has been nominated for a Derringer Award by the Short Mystery Fiction Society.

The story is archived on the Short-Story.Me site, and was selected for their second anthology, available in different formats from their home page.

Always nice to know that the work is getting read and is well thought of.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Happy Groundhog Day and good education blog

Happy Groundhog Day! Wait, didn't I already say that? (Bill Murray moment)
I'm told this tradition comes from St Brigid of Ireland (it's the Imbolc celebration), and it was originally a weather-prognostication from the behavior of snakes. Then it morphed into a hedgehog somehow, and when the Dutch settled Pennsylvania, the closest thing to a hedgehog was a Groundhog. And so now we have Punxatawny Phil, who this year has predicted an early Spring. Had it been six more weeks of winter after this mess, they'd have probably lynched him...

Now, wasn't that educational? But if you want a real discussion about educational issues, check out Valerie Rushanan's blog at Education is Global. It's a great forum to deal with the complex issues facing educators, students, and parents these days. Goodness knows, we need some help! It's a system that needs revamping, and knowing some of the issues is a good place for us to start.