Sunday, February 23, 2014

Cover Boy

Wow- I'm currently featured on two covers at present.

First, I made the cover of a new magazine! No, not GQ or Esquire, sorry, that's later. But here's a link to the very first issue of Trysts of Fate magazine.

Dare I say, you might want to pick this up as a Collector's Item that may very well increase in value. Premier issues are good things to snag for your future. And check out my story KillerElla, a fun little romp. Zombies, romance, and fairy tales- how can you go wrong?

And made another cover, for the emag version of the University of Maine Alumni Association newsletter. Go Bears!
They've got a lovely little piece about me publishing my 12th book.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Big Publishing Kerfluffle

There is a revolution going on in publishing, where, for the first time in history, writers can choose how to control their career. Some believe there are only two choices- the traditional model of submitting to big New York publishers- that was the only real way until about 4 years ago, or self-publishing. So some folks pick a side and fight, viewing it as an ideological struggle, or even a religious war, Tradpubs vs. Selfpubs. The battles are waged on internet sites and in the media.

Each side claims dominance in the publishing field, saying they are the better path for a writer. Each points to numbers supporting their opinion, and bitterly attacks any who even hint that they might be wrong.

The well-reasoned voices say that there is no war, only personal choice, and that a writer should self-educate. But whatever they say gets twisted and savaged by one side or the other. For the record, I believe in choice, even when the data and real-life experience shows that one path is truly better for a greater number of writers than the other.

Note that outstanding success with any path of writing and publishing is a matter of luck. Hard work and persistence will improve your chances, but there are no guarantees of success. The trouble is, when a person has succeeded in publishing, they want to attribute the success to their choices, hard work, and persistence. So they naturally tell others "do it my way to succeed!" Any success stories from the other perspective are dismissed as "outliers," statistical anomalies that do not correlate to any other person's chances. They are somewhat correct, but it's not a full picture. Good data is required, but sadly lacking.

In recent events of note, important figures in the Tradpub world have gone public with views on this issue, how they are the True Path of Quality and Success. More often than not, they have come across as uninformed, arrogant, one-percenters who view all self-publishers as unwashed masses who produce nothing but Crap that Will Never Sell, hinting that most Selfpubs deserve a miserable fate of failure and justified poverty. It's really laughable, except when they reveal their true face and insult Selfpubs and others- one noted power-agent referred to writers as cattle. Yup, he did, and most in his world seem to share his views. In all their arguments of what is best, the writer and reader are supposed to be at the bottom of the pyramid, with them on top, culling the herd for the prize cattle to make themselves rich.

Ouch. As you can guess, this showing of true beliefs didn't sit well, even with people not in the fight. So the response got pretty heated, as most people don't like being insulted, even (especially) writers.

This resulted in a series of public takedowns, where the spouters got shredded, sometimes refuted line by line, for their words and views. Their response was mostly shock. For one, they don't seem to understand this whole Internet thingie. And they shook their heads and said how sad it is that the Selfpubs are so angry, when Tradpubs were always so reasonable. Sigh. For the record, writers do not wish to be taken advantage of for someone else's profit, do not wish to be lied to and manipulated, or cheated, or even insulted. A few Tradpub bigwigs shot off a series of steaming piles of pony poop, and got called on it. They weren't happy, and mostly scuttled back to their castles to calm themselves by counting their profits earned from writers. The peasants were revolting! Forgive the snark, but you really have to read for yourself how they responded when their idiotic posts were attacked. They dug themselves in deeper and pulled the dirt in after. It's as if they hate and despise the writers who make them rich. Odd.

So Tradpub got a boost from a "survey" that showed Tradpub writers overall do better financially than Selfpub writers. (See the Digital Book World postings) HAH! Take that, Selfpubs, we win! And the survey creators wanted almost $300 a pop for this golden data. Except that it was another less-than-useless pile of pony poop, comparing apples to office furniture. Their survey apparently included a large amount "data" from people that hadn't even published a book yet! Just focus on that, and you get the picture. Of course they hadn't made money yet! It also compared Tradpub winners to ALL Selfpubs. Dumbest thing ever, but Tradpub apologists used this as evidence to support their views, once again looking really clueless. More snickers and heated response from the other side. Much Sturm und Drang.

The real bombshell hit last week. Hugh Howey, successful author, spent his time, energy, and money to pair with a data-cruncher, and they scraped some Amazon numbers and published them (for free), along with a list of caveats. The numbers indicated that a larger number of self-published works were doing way better than the Traditional Publishing Industry wants to believe, pointing toward the concept that a new writer might be better off Selfpubbing. Hugh was honest and said that these numbers are just a start, pointed toward the raw data, and said to pull it part and discuss.

Well, you can guess what happened. The world had turned upside down, and the pub posting world went completely batshit. Tradpub defenders turned on the Giant Crap Machines and tried to bury the report in another mountain of pony poop, lies, and distortions. But a lot of them don't seem to have read the whole report, or be able to understand simple math, or maybe just don't want to believe it. Understandable, because it shows better numbers than Tradpub has ever produced (why's that?), and only shows a portion of the big picture. But what it does show is that Tradpub is in Very Big Trouble- something a lot of folks have been saying for the last few years. Tradpub wants to protect the vanished world, to do business as they've always done it, and refuses to accept the fact of the Revolution. Their hysteria was evident.

Sadly, even reasoned voices who took their side to crap on the report got severely bloodied. Mike Shatzkin is a Tradpub industry consultant, and he's often got a keen, perceptive view of what's happening. On this issue, he publicly shot himself in the foot, reloaded, shot the other foot, and kept alternating. It wasn't pretty when Joe Konrath blew him out of the water.

And one of my writing heroes, Chuck Wendig, waded into the fray with his Mega Balls of Steel. He does nothing but help other writers, and is a source of wisdom, motivation, and good feelings for writers. Even his rhino-hide got mauled, and he ran from the fight after firing one more cannon blast into the discussion. Hope it's okay to continue to worship your heroes, when they're dead wrong on an issue.

There were Trolls on both sides of the holy war. But we should all get along- we're writers!

Writer Michael Bunker had a post which puts brilliant perspective on what the numbers indicate. Forgive the paraphrasing, but here's a thought experiment, with my additions. These numbers are probably an indication of how things would go, given the last 4 years, except that a huge number of folks on the Tradpub path would abandon it and finally find another path after years of rejection, But we won't count those here.

Take 2000 genre writers with a novel or two done and ready.

1000 begin the the querying process to Tradpub.

1000 begin the self-publishing process.

*Let's assume that Barnes and Noble and Amazon (or someone like them) remain with their current market share and writer-profitability.

One year later- 0% of the Tradpub group has a book published. As a group, a thousand of them have been rejected in toto, some several times. Ah, but think of that golden future!

The self-pub group has a 100% publication rate. Most, if not all, have sold copies. They can all have print versions of their work in hand. Many have published more books already. Of course, this is not "success" by Tradpub standards, because it has earned Tradpub not a penny, and is only further competition for their offerings.

Year 2- for the Tradpub group, outstanding success! 10 people have received acceptance offers (yeah, this is a fantasy). 3 of those actually had the business sense to have their contracts vetted by an outside IP attorney, and realized they'd be better off not signing. For the other 7, the dream is happening- they've been accepted, they're on their way.
Still not a single book of the 1000 writers is up for sale yet, but just you wait!
"Success" rate of 1%, meaning "they were considered for the Golden Fold."

Meanwhile, the Selfpub group has over 3000 books up for sale. 3000 vs zero for the other team. As per the fears of the wannabe gatekeepers, many of these books are crap. Say 90%, following Sturgeon's Law, meaning "only" 300 or so okay ones or better are out. Oddly, though, even some of the crap ones are selling. Most writers have made some profit.

Year 3, Tradpub. Outstanding! 5, count them, 5 writers now have a single book out!
PW, Kirkus reviews for one of them, for another, a nomination for an award! One signed a 3-book deal! (More best-case fantasy) And those still submitting are still smilingly determined to join their golden brothers and sisters in the magical land.
And their advances- $500 for one, $1500 for another, $3000-5000 for two more, and a whopping $10,000 to the lucky 3-book winner! Now that's real money! Even when divided by 3 years, right?

Year 3, Selfpub. Over 5000 books published. 500 writers have made over $1000.
5 have made over $10,000.
Ouch. It just gets worse...

By Year 10, there is one Tradpub author who makes a living writing books. One.
5 others have made 5-figure deals. There have been 100 books published, 20 are ok or better (since Tradpub really knows quality).
900 of those who started are no longer trying to create new stories for publication.
Success rate: Less than 1%.

Year 10, Selfpub. Over 15,000 books published, over 1500 of those are good or better, since so many writers continue to practice their craft and get paid for it.
500 writers still produce stories for publication, and over half of those are making 5 figures or better per year. Because they kept publishing, got better, got their name out year after year, there are that many writers doing well.

Like I said, just a thought experiment. Fiddle the numbers how you wish, but Tradpub is a lottery that may never pay off a penny, let alone a living wage, and the time scale is atrocious. You may never get your book in front of a reader. But you have a 1-in-many-million shot to win an award, and you may get a Pat on the Head from the Anointed Ones.

Selfpub gives you success the day you hold your novel, or the day of your first sale.

If you took any professional care in the content, cover, price, and promotion, you will make some money from it and the others to follow. You have won. You will write more, and one day have a real shot at bigger things, if readers like you.

By all means, investigate for yourself and see what you think. Choose your own path.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Queen City Kamikaze Con, 2/16

The good folks of Books and Boos bookstore are coming to the Queen City Kamikaze Con,
Sunday, Feb. 16.
They'll be hosting a bookselling table- where I'll be taking part.

And just got word I'm on an Author Panel there- Where authors get their ideas- 4:30 to 5:30
Along with Vlad Vaslyn, David Price, and Stacey Longo, moderator extraordinaire.

Hoping for a fun time! Come on by and say hi.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Winery, Groundhogs, Football, and Fiction Contest

Hey there- Happy Groundhog Day! Hope you don't have to face it over and over.
It IS a fun movie, though...

Someone said there's a football game on today? Nah, the Patriots aren't playing, so it's not really football, right?

Had a blast at the Author Night at the Winery last Friday night. Wine, books, and authors were there to greet the public and sign books. Good wine, too. Here's the writeup.
Thanks to Chris Obert of Pear Tree Publishing for setting this up.

Tomorrow night, Monday, I'm judging the Flash Fiction contest for the regional competition of the New Hampshire Writer's Project, along with Jackie Malone and James Patrick Kelly.
Looks to be a fun time. Come on by if you're around.