Observations of the publishing industry from an author's perspective; ruminations on how to survive at the end of the feeding chain and still maintain a life...oh, and your sanity.

Monday, November 24, 2021

And now... 

...back to the other three novels sitting on my desk waiting for line edits...

Stuff Stats. 

Back to those promo sites.

I finally got one of the handful I was investigating to open up and tell me what their visitor stats were for the category with the highest traffic.

.... drum roll ....

They get less unique visitors per day to their site than I get at mine, by a factor of 10!!!

And they want me to pay them to promote my book?????

They should be paying ME for lessons on how to promote their own websites. Sheesh!

Those promo sites!! 

It just gets more depressing.

I've been carefully investigating these promotion sites that demands cash before you become a goddess in their firmament. Several of them fall into the same general structure. They promote a genre (and my research has been in Romance, but I'm betting this structure works across the genres). There's a central site that is corporate headquarters. Then there's anywhere from a handful to dozens of sub-category sites -- ebook romances, historical romances, time travel romances, category romances, medieval romances, contemporary romances, ad infinitum.

You pay money and you're featured on the site of your choice. Only...a single title of mine would fit into at least three of the category sites. I get to pick just one? Yep, just one.

If I have to chose, then I'm going to chose the category site with the highest visitor stats. Catch is, they won't share them...

Thursday, November 20, 2021

I'm still blushing. 

I sent my edited novel off today. I slipped a note in for the editor and apologized for that one single phrase that I must have used at least once on each of over 500 pages.

Tuesday, November 18, 2021

Promotion pangs 

Book Promotion is such a depressing activity for writers. Some writers. I know there are authors out there who wade into promotion with cries of glee, but these are the same people who write pop psychology books, and come by their pushy personalities as part of their trade.

I, like many novelists I talk to, would much rather stay at home and write books. But most publishers these days insist the author swing their PR weight, too. So I promote.

Years ago, when my ebooks first came out, promotion was a hard slog. It was really education disquised as PR, because most people didn't know what an ebook was, let alone how to read one. And promotion then was disheartening because standard media people didn't want to touch it, and the internet, where the books were sold, also didn't want to touch it. Yeah, you read right. Many of the high traffic sites where people who read my genre went to find out about the latest novels would not review, list or even speak about ebooks and eauthors. (Some of them still don't). The Romance Writers of America wouldn't acknowledge epublishing as legitimate publishing credits.

Zap ahead four years. Things have changed. Ebooks have become passe with the traditional media, so they won't touch it. I'm also not Nora Roberts, and neither have I written a book that features obscene sex scenes and bodily functions. Now, many of the high traffic sites where readers go to find out about the latest books in their favourite genre will deal with e-authors...but they want money to do it. They will only "feature" their paying clients (and the more you pay, the more you're featured). No-one else gets a mention -- including the Nora Roberts of the world, and that astonishing new novel that features gross-out bodily functions that everyone is talking about.

Although I'm the first to applaud entrepreneurial spirit, I have to wonder...do the readers that go to these sites realize how much of a one-sided viewpoint they're getting? They're never going to know about the next greatest thing in genre fiction because that author may not be handing over a small fortune in green folding to that site. There's certainly no signs on these sites that state that the only books and authors featured are paying customers.

Next time you're at your favourite book-news-reviews site, check out their "authors info" page -- it'll be there somewhere. See if the authors are shelling out shekels for the privilege of being the star of the moment.

Monday, November 17, 2021

Feast & Famine 

My cup runeth over.


Teach me to whine about editorial demands: Even as I was uploading the last post, an email arrives from one of my other publishers, with the page proofs for one of my books attached -- please line edit and return a.s.a.p.

Oh joy! I only have three other books for line-edit-and-return-a.s.a.p already on my desk! Why couldn't this have happened last week? Or next week? Or any other week when I wasn't simultaneously getting used to a new editor; line editing two other books in between; and on such killer deadlines at work that I really wish Clockstoppers worked and I could take a nano-second to compile a whole magazine before my art director comes looking for me with an axe....

Oh bloody nora! 

I'm in the middle of line edits on the new book, and getting used to a new editor is always an interesting exercise, especially as they always -- always -- manage to pick up yet another bad habit you didn't realize you had.

This time it's really bad -- there's not one, but two favourite phrases and a particular sentence structure that I seemed to be doomed to write over and over again. And one of those pet phrases...how did I not SEE how often I used it before now? It's all over the place!

So now I'm editing the script, and alternatively blushing, wincing and cringing, as yet another instance of my-favourite-phrase comes to light. I'm watching the red ink all over the pages, trying to analyse if the editor has got really pissed with me by now (I'm 300+ pages into a 500+ manuscript -- if it were me, I'd've cried uncle a loooong time ago). Is that flourish at the end of that word a little darker? Is she pushing the pen across the page in jagged movement to match the beat of her rising pulse?

I almost feel like apologizing to the patient darling. But I won't.

I also will never, as long as I live, let that pet phrase go through into another final draft. I promise!!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2021

Fame...or is it? 

A rare day at home. I spent the morning compiling a memory-busting 300+ people bulk email to all my friends and contacts -- telling people who I think will give a damn that I've sold a novel, and when it will be out. I was shocked I knew that many people and had their email addresses. This was my private contacts list I was using! And I was being picky about who I sent it to, as well.

Apart from giving the computer a mild heart attack, the email recreated a dozen bounce messages -- not bad given how many I sent out. I also got more than a dozen genuine, warm congratulations messages.

But one I got was "Okay, I'm looking at the email address, and that doesn't tell me...so...who ARE you?"

ugh. What an awful feeling. Someone I know well enough to put name to face doesn't even know who I am!

I wallowed about in that sick little feeling for a few minutes before I noticed THEIR address. I'd never heard of them before. Had I screwed up the addresses? I ran through the list of emails I had just used. Nope, not in there.

I wrote them a carefully worded email, fishing for information. WHO ARE *YOU*? is what it boiled down to.

As it turns out, the first email was unrelated to my bulk "I've sold a novel" email. But a few hours later, while I'm still laughing over the coincidence, I'm also shaking my head at the depth of the wound I suffered when I thought for a moment that this person had no idea who I was.

It's quite possible that this is a small taste of what's yet to come. Even though I've had eight, no, sorry, nine novels published to date there's still going to be a lot of people out there that have no idea who I am. I'll have to educate them at the same time I'm trying to convince them to buy my book.

Monday, November 10, 2021

Today is a stellar day to be starting a weblog on observations about the publishing industry as today I've just finalized contracts with a new publisher: new to me, and new to Fifth Avenue. It's a strange sensation: for years you knock yourself out as a novelist, marketing your work to anyone who'll stand still long enough to shove a manuscript into their hands. You work at a constant fever pitch: sending queries and partials and trawling for new markets, schmoozing and networking, and still getting your 1,000 words a day in. The whole time you're watching the calendar, feeling the pressure because you've gone one more month without that major sale...

Then you sell. You, and all that momentum you've built up over the years come to dead stop, because publishers work on a different time scale. But the laws of physics work in the three-ring circus called publishing, too. Inertia has its way. Suddenly, you're over-running your editor, and tripping over the slower moving institution anchoring your path.

It takes energy to change gears and start thinking in promotion terms instead of marketing terms....

Ah! But there's still the next book to sell, isn't there? So, back to marketing. But wait...! You can't stop promoting either. You have to figure out how to do both at the same time. Oh, and get in your 1,000 words a day, too.

And, if you're like the average published author on the street, you still have that day job to take care of, too.

Welcome to the wonderland of published words.

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