Hatrack River
Home   |   About Orson Scott Card   |   News & Reviews   |   OSC Library   |   Forums   |   Contact   |   Links
Research Area   |   Writing Lessons   |   Writers Workshops   |   OSC at SVU   |   Calendar   |   Store
E-mail this page
Hatrack River Writers Workshop Post New Topic  Post A Reply
my profile login | register | search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Is it me or...

   
Author Topic: Is it me or...
Foste
Member
Member # 8892

 - posted      Profile for Foste   Email Foste         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/

Sorry Joe, I love ya, but what the frak?

I'll admit it. I love my Kindle. I even gave it a name and a personality (if anyone wants to know, she's called Selena and has a clingy/bitchy attitude if I don't read regularly. Yes, my therapist is fine with this. Yes, I am taking my medication. Yes, I am aware that I am an idiot.) I love being able to read any book I want any time. In Bosnia. Which is the equivalent of rocket science to me. And rocket science is cool. The whoosh-hell yeah kind of cool.

So while waiting for the pizza boy I decided to see what Joe and Dean are up to. I like their blogs. If you want to go pro you better know how to make money off the traditional model and the self published route.

But lately...

Look, I am not trashing self published authors here. I know a lot of us from HT have decided to take that route. And while I still would like to go with the legacy route, I pretty much know that epub is a wonderful thing. A good thing. A thing which will revolutionize the way we read and appreciate books. If you want to go pro it's good to make money using both routes.

However, I find that Joe and Dean tend to turn their advice into gospel. Like those dudes who ring my door and want to sell me a vacuum cleaner. And you know what? If you like your old vacuum cleaner, you are a SUCKER.

I might be dumb or high on nicotine, but I am not seeing it happen. I don't see the legacy model dying. It's a Mayan calendar kind of thing (next year! Next year for sure!).

Publishers are still operational. New authors keep getting contracts. Agents are alive and well. Advances aren't astronomical, but as far as I know they've rarely been.

Dean and Joe are shrewd businessmen. They know their stuff. But I can't help but feel that they are biased (and I respect Dean for saying do selfpub for two years and they try the traditional route).

And surprise, surprise. The Internet is, as a whole. Let's take a look at two sites which I find representative of both sides of the blend:

westeros.org - "Selfpub is crap. I am not wading through no slushpile!"

kindleboards - "Die, Luddites!"

Yeah, I know, I am poking fun at both sides--

*PIZZA'S HERE!*

(Jumbo Capriciosa SCORE!)

--but the majority of either side reminds me of House Martel when it comes to their opinions - unbound, unbent, unbroken.

Sure, Borders closed shop and I've heard Barnes and Noble is on the edge. True. Things are bad. But I don't see the imminent death of traditional publishing coming, at least the way it's being heralded.

So... Am I missing something? Am I simplifying the problem?

Feel free to chip in, since I really want to know what other folks think.

Posts: 628 | Registered: Nov 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
rcmann
Member
Member # 9757

 - posted      Profile for rcmann   Email rcmann         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Biased? I agree. Wrong? Not necessarily. Survival of the fittest. There is a branch of self-publishing that lets you sell books to be individually printed on a per order basis, is there not?

If you can review books at your leisure, select them without getting up, pay for them from your chair, and in a few days receive a nicely bound hard copy for significantly less money than B&N charges, why wouldn't you?

You don't refute any of the points in the blog. Why are they wrong? Are the traditional publishers paying authors enough? Is that part wrong? Are hard copy books competitively priced compared to self-published books? is that assertion incorrect? IS the traditional publishing industry innovative, flexible, adaptable to new technology?

My son-in-law works for Amazon, so I know a little bit about how it functions from the inside. Just a little bit. Everything I have heard sounds pretty good to me. Maybe they are, or will become, the next MS behemoth. Most companies go through life cycles just like industries go through life cycles.

Just because the steel industry turned to factories and mass production, that did not cause the individual blacksmith to die out. He just moved into a niche market. Maybe traditional publishing is headed the same way.

Posts: 884 | Registered: Feb 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Foste
Member
Member # 8892

 - posted      Profile for Foste   Email Foste         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
""If you can review books at your leisure, select them without getting up, pay for them from your chair, and in a few days receive a nicely bound hard copy for significantly less money than B&N charges, why wouldn't you? "

Because I still buy physical books and still go to bookstores. I see ereaders as something that complements the reading experience. Physical copies and ebooks aren't mutually exclusive.

Which leads me to:

"Are hard copy books competitively priced compared to self-published books? is that assertion incorrect? IS the traditional publishing industry innovative, flexible, adaptable to new technology? "

Rhetorical question. Of course hardbacks are pricier than ebooks. I am not sure about POD, but hardbacks are nevertheless expensive. But if I want a book in hardback I am going to buy it. To answer the last question: that remains to be seen.

Don't get me wrong, none of this was intended as an attack.

Nowhere did I say that either route is perfect. Sure, traditional publishing has flaws. Maybe that will change. Maybe it won't.

The thing that most of these discussions need are numbers. And those are hard to come by, as I understand for various reasons, both technical and professional.

Posts: 628 | Registered: Nov 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
rcmann
Member
Member # 9757

 - posted      Profile for rcmann   Email rcmann         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I hope I didn't sound defensive. I am not. I personally don't have an opinion on the matter. I just like arguments to be specific, that's all:)
Posts: 884 | Registered: Feb 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Foste
Member
Member # 8892

 - posted      Profile for Foste   Email Foste         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
That's cool, I just wondered if I overdid it with the snark in this post [Wink]
Posts: 628 | Registered: Nov 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
MattLeo
Member
Member # 9331

 - posted      Profile for MattLeo   Email MattLeo         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I have a pair of author friends. One of them has a three book deal with a big name publisher. The other is self-publishing her work. In both cases it was arguably the best possible course, because they're different kinds of people.

The self-published author has a background in sales and marketing. She's a real go-getter, and works tirelessly to promote her work. If she'd gone with a traditional publisher, she'd probably get fewer readers. She'd got interest from editors but it never went anywhere because her work didn't quite fit anyone's metier, and she wasn't interested in making it fit.

Judging from her Amazon ranking she's only selling a handful of hard copies, but from her ebook sales rankings I'd say two of her books generate between 80 and 100 sales a week. The royalties on 180 or so copies sold at $2.99 aren't enough to live in luxury on; in fact they're not enough to live on at all. But over a hundred new readers a week is more than enough justification to regard yourself as a bona-fide published author, "self" or no.

Now my other friend has no trouble changing her work to give an editor what he's looking for -- less trouble than I would at any rate! She's a conscientious worker, and because it's expected, she labors assiduously on her "platform" -- her web and social media presence. But she almost never discusses her own work, apart from an occasional terse announcement. She's more comfortable talking about other authors' work, and the field in general.

Both of these writers are more or less happy, and I can't imagine them being quite as happy if they changed places.

Posts: 1190 | Registered: Dec 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
annepin
Member
Member # 5952

 - posted      Profile for annepin   Email annepin         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I'm pretty conflicted about this issue. The more I learn about the publishing industry (my husband's (nonfiction) book is coming out) the more I come to think how incompetent they are and the angrier I get. The one thing that the publishing industry seems like it would be able to do better than just people publishing their own stuff is that they can have good editors who edit. But they aren't even doing that anymore.

The self-publishing industry is both exciting and frightening to me. Exciting because there are those authors who do really well -- make tons of money. But I'm reminded of the newspapers and how, in some ways, they ruined the content industry for all of us. They offered stuff for free. Now no one wants to pay for content. We all assume content should be free or incredibly cheap. For now, people can make money selling stuff for 99 cents. 99 cents is now the bar. Soon someone will undercut, and so on.

And the fact is, there's so much content out there. And there's going to be more-- think about all the Nanowrimo-ers who will self-publish. And I want to say content matters, that the good stuff will be recognized and rise to the top, but I just don't believe that any more. There's just too much out there, and people like free or cheap stuff more than they like quality (that's the cynic in me).

So yes, complete mixed bag, encouraging, frightening, inspiring, demoralizing, all in one.

Posts: 2185 | Registered: Aug 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
rcmann
Member
Member # 9757

 - posted      Profile for rcmann   Email rcmann         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I don' think that people like price more than quality more than once. I might spring for a 0.99 book over a 2.99 because of price once. But if the author is not a good fit for my taste I won't be buying any more of their work. Nor will I be recommending them to anyone. If I like an author, I tell people about them regardless of cost. In fact, cost is irrelevant to any book recommendation I make. It's also irrelevant to any book I buy based on a recommendation. Many of the new authors I read come from word of mouth. It does take time. But then, search engines are getting more sophisticated all the time too.

Maybe we should all start selling ad space in our stories? I have thought about it more than once. Just starting a blog, hanging a few affiliate links on it, and post stories on a donation basis. Just to see what happens.

Posts: 884 | Registered: Feb 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Owasm
Member
Member # 8501

 - posted      Profile for Owasm   Email Owasm         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
As a consumer of e-books, I find them totally disposable. I tend to troll at the lower end buying free/.99 books, sometimes springing for a 2.99 novel. If I don't like it, I bail really quickly. It's a different kind of reading. There are a lot of uncut diamonds out there along with the quartz. I haven't bought a hard cover book in about three years.

I'm an unrepentant self-pub guy. Life is short and I can't wait years. I sat next to a published author last week on a plane. She submitted to editor slushpiles and was picked up. Now she has an agent and a bunch of projects in the hopper.

I'll bet I'm not as good as her and I honestly don't know if I can compete in the publishing world, so I'm committed to throwing stuff out there as I learn to write better.

It's all under a pseudonym so if I'm not happy with my branding, I change my name and rebrand. It happens in regular publishing, too.

I do believe you need to get content out there and then start to promote and not with just one book unless you really, really believe in it.

Posts: 1523 | Registered: Feb 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
rcmann
Member
Member # 9757

 - posted      Profile for rcmann   Email rcmann         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
So what about people like me? I write shorts. I have a novel under construction, but even if I finish it someday I will no doubt self-publish. I have no intention of waiting literally years to see the thing in print after taking years to write it. Screw that.

So what about short story writers? Not even amazon lets us publish unfiltered, although I suspect they are not nearly as picky about selling previously unpublished authors in their short story market as most magazines.

Then there is the option of self-publishing short stories individually. Which to me seems odd, being the archaic relict that I am. But if it works, wonderful. The way things are looking, it may be the only way I ever get paid for this, even if I only get 5 bucks a month. It would be 5 bucks that I am not getting now, and I might even get a few more readers.

Posts: 884 | Registered: Feb 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
extrinsic
Member
Member # 8019

 - posted      Profile for extrinsic   Email extrinsic         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
The publishing culture reached a semistable state mid Twentieth century. Then along came a TV in every home. Competition was on, Momma. More and more competition came along. Now it's a full blown diapora, a tempest in a labyrinth and will be for the foreseeable future. Equal opportunity, Freedom, Liberty, comes with privileges and rights as well as obligations and reponsibilities as well as joys and celebrations and sorrows and heartaches.

Traditional publishers stand as mediators filtering quality by subjective standards that at times seem random.

The self-publishing culture has little if any screening evaluation except the fickle sensibilities of mass-culture opinion. No middlemen though to bar the gates or pronounce judgment. And no more reliable a metric than publishers' screening opinions.

Word-of-mouth buzz, Buzz, BUZZ is still and likely to remain the one and only metric by which marketable literature will expand across the culture, traditional or improvisational, and rise to the zeniths of popular or critical or both acclaim. And that means the story counts first, both craft and voice, and promotion of the word-of-mouth variety. Res ipsa loquitur, the thing speaks for itself. To garner that kind of de re, of the thing, buzz, fanatic nudging might help, but it's still the quality of the writing craft and voice that counts.

Posts: 2826 | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
rcmann
Member
Member # 9757

 - posted      Profile for rcmann   Email rcmann         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
The inherent difficulty with word of mouth promotion, in terms of the traditional industry, is getting your stuff out there to be read and talked about.
Posts: 884 | Registered: Feb 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
extrinsic
Member
Member # 8019

 - posted      Profile for extrinsic   Email extrinsic         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Where there's a will there's a way. One avenue has a noble and long-standing tradition, ARC's, advance review copies distributed prior to production print run. Send out a hundred or so, maybe more or less, ARC's to reviewers for their commentary. Ask for commentary for purposes of including excerpts on jacket backs as promotional blurbs. Also, choose a few writers who work in similar genres for their commentary.

ARC's are a part of marketing where "insiders" promote new and upcoming, promising talents to join the culture. Publishers also have an inside track to many literary awards, like the Pulitzer, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and dozens of others.

Book talks, signings, library giveaways, broadside samples, sample Web content, e-mail notice to every contact in a writer's address book, used to be postcards, publicity is a full-court press marketing strategy purposed to generate buzz.

Posts: 2826 | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
rcmann
Member
Member # 9757

 - posted      Profile for rcmann   Email rcmann         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Yet, there is a key component to that. Money.

I am, as I am sure many of us are, broke. Busted. Flat. Before I could spend that kind of money to promote my *short stories* I would have to sell a slop bucket full of them.

If it were not for modern technology, I probably never would have taken a chance on getting into fiction writing anyway. It simply isn't cost effective unless you can afford the up front investment, or you have a solid second income. Even then, for those of us who write short fiction the market is slim. At least for now. And what is out there doesn't pay relatively much more than it did in the pulp days when sci-fi was still considered one step above porn.

Posts: 884 | Registered: Feb 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
extrinsic
Member
Member # 8019

 - posted      Profile for extrinsic   Email extrinsic         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Plan B, promote other writers' writing by critically commenting on their best of. I don't mean dissing. I mean analysis and interpretation, contrast and comparison. Literary review, literary criticism. Comment on style, technique, message, theme, craft, voice, interpretations of intents and meanings, one focused and well-thought out and well-organized area.

Dissing another writer's work doesn't garner favorable commentary in return, Quite the opposite. It is a fatal mistake.

Who's this diletante think he is, telling everyone I'm a flack. Look at how he composes his facile and confusing arguments, like a scatter-brained tabloid restaurant critic complaining about every little disappointment because his car is acting up, his love interest is acting up, and the bank is calling on him to catch up on his obligations.

Lo, this wicked fool shall incur the critical wrath of me and mine friends' commentary, so that all the world knows he is not worthy.


Artful criticism focuses on what works, what's fresh, what's inventive, what's artful, by showing meaningfully how to understand a writer's writing, and telling the world that here is a writer who's going places. And by extension of being insightful and discerning, the critic too is elevated. Then there's an implied obligation for the writer to respond in kind. Then there's a community of mutually supportive, mutually promoting writers.

Effective criticism is promotional networking. Quid pro quo. It builds analytical skills for one's own writing. And there might be a buck or two in it from the local newspaper or blog or a journal or digest.

If a piece or writer is too hard to avoid dissing, leave it alone, leave it for the flacks to criticize. Show discernment by exercising discretion.

It ain't easy to write in the first place. It's harder still to get readers to take notice. It takes hard work and just as much inventiveness to make a mark in the public arena as it does to write a masterpiece in the first place.

Plan Z. put it out there and pray, hope, cross your fingers, toes, and eyes that's all it takes to get noticed.

Or work on getting noticed any practical and conscientious ways that further successful outcomes. If not money, then hard work, time, and inisght. Join the conversation and be invited back with more and better outlooks.

I'm broke too, so broke all I can afford to pay is attention.

Posts: 2826 | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Robert Nowall
Member
Member # 2764

 - posted      Profile for Robert Nowall   Email Robert Nowall         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I'm not broke at the moment, and pretty much buy what I want as far as books go. (Many more than I ever read, but that's another story for another time.) Spending my own money to promote my own stuff...well, right now, nothing's published, the stories on my website are just there to show I've done something besides Internet Fan Fiction, and I'll cross the promotion bridge when I come to it.

However...promotion can be as simple as telling somebody you've got a book out. I've bought several books because someone who was hanging out here happened to mention they'd written one. (Ever read Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet? I wouldn't've picked it up if the writer hadn't mentioned it here, and my life would've been poorer for it.)

Any place you hang out, on or off-line, if you've got a book coming out, say so when you're there, if they let. Put a link on your website, link your website to your posts. Tell people in your organizations. Mention it to friends and neighbors. Offer autographed copies. So on and so forth...

Posts: 8007 | Registered: Aug 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
rcmann
Member
Member # 9757

 - posted      Profile for rcmann   Email rcmann         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Again though, with all respect, what about short story writers like myself? If I had a book coming out, it might be different. I can't say. But I have written, and intend to continue writing, a rising pile of short stories in the speculative fiction genre. What do I do with them?

I am sending them off to the pro markets at the moment, where I have good hope of selling at least some of them. But even if every story I submit is fit to print, not all of them will be accepted. This is simply a fact of life.

So where does a short story writer go? If not self-publishing, where? It's not just the money. More than anything else, I want them read.

Posts: 884 | Registered: Feb 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
extrinsic
Member
Member # 8019

 - posted      Profile for extrinsic   Email extrinsic         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Plan C. A struggling short story writer may politely request commentary from published short story writers. That used to be one way writers networked and built mutual promotional communities. Poets still do to a great extent, more so since the digital age rekindled poetry's waning market share. However, for some yet to be determined reason, struggling prose writers have become more insular by degree.

Send a message to a writer you admire, sincerely praise the writer's writing, ask for craft advices, ask if the writer might take a glance at a few words, say a hundred or so, and comment on them. Consider the message's form a letter of introduction in the tradition of manners genre.

Build a vibrant social writing community that will help support and promote your work.

Plan D? if anyone's interested . . .

[ February 16, 2012, 05:25 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

Posts: 2826 | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

Quick Reply
Message:

HTML is not enabled.
UBB Code™ is enabled.
UBB Code™ Images not permitted.
Instant Graemlins
   


Post New Topic  Post A Reply Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Contact Us | Hatrack River Home Page

Copyright © 2008 Hatrack River Enterprises Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.


Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.2