Old Stomping Grounds

magic book1 - croppedToday, I did something that I hadn’t done in so long that I forgot how to do it.  I put together submission packages and sent them out.  Yes, I actually queried a publisher again and I’m not done with my submission list yet.

I’m doing what I like to do, which is write.  However, I don’t have any beta readers and I’m not about to pay $50+ to edit a story that’s 13,157 words.  My decision to submit it (and hopefully its sequel) is more of a business decision than anything else. If it’s the right epublisher, they’ll have a larger, more established readership than I have now.  I’m willing to give up a percentage of the $0.35 I’d normally make by self-publishing on Amazon or Barnes and Noble, if it means possibly gaining a larger fan base.  Plus, epubs have the editing and cover art resources that I don’t feel like paying out-of-pocket for.  And no, I’m not a good schmoozer when it comes to rubbing elbows for favors.

Of course, if worse comes to worse, self-publishing is always an option, if things don’t pan out like I hope.  Honestly, I’m not that jaded when it comes to epubs as much as I’m with NY publishers, and that’s because of ridiculous contract clauses make me grind my teeth.  With epubs, there are more freedoms and author input.  Plus, I haven’t had any bad experiences with any of my epubs who started out as epubs.  Yes, I had to italicize that for a reason.  😉

Writers have so many options these days that it’s a great time to be a writer, as Dean Wesley Smith and JA Konrath would say.  In the end, I’m doing what’s best for my business and hoping it pays off.  If it doesn’t, all is not lost.  There is definitely an upside to playing both fields.

So in case you’re wondering what this story is about, it’s a fantasy romance that takes place in an alternate world of witches, elves, and vampires.  Although, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone decided to shelf this in paranormal romance because of the hero.  I’m fine either way.  I just hope readers enjoy reading it as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it.  Eventually, I’ll share the details, but I’ll wait until I get good news to go with it.  Although, I guess the best news of all is that it’ll be published no matter what.

Yeah, it’s a great time to be a writer.  🙂

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No 2011 Recap Here

Everyone is talking about 2011 recaps on the blogosphere.  I’m not because I don’t care to recap 2011.  It’s not that it was a bad year.  In fact, it was better than I expected.  I’ve had tons of fun starting up Dusk Till Dawn Books, watching my little one grow to an astounding two-years old, and seeing my day-job career hit heights I never thought possible.  My gut is telling me that 2012 is going to be an equally amazing year for me, so let’s forge ahead already.

Of course, there are a few things that need to be said about 2012.  🙂

Let’s start with the 2011 tablet/ereader purchases.

If you’re like me, you’ve received either an ereader or a tablet for Christmas.  I’m expecting this to arrive at my local Walmart any day now.  🙂  Since my hot water heater shafted my plans to get a Nook Tablet, I started perusing the cheaper tablet line.  I can’t afford–and refuse–to put a lot of money in a something I haven’t had any experience with.  I’m betting I’m not the only one either.  So once we’ve had our experience and have a better idea of what we want, I wouldn’t be surprised if the number of ereader and tablet purchases increase.  The more the word gets out, the more confident people will feel about getting one themselves.

As for paper, again, I said back in this post that paper isn’t going anywhere and I stand firm on that.  Paper books will lessen just like the selection of authors to choose from.  Advances are shrinking for unproven authors and those sitting on the mid-list.  Agents and editors will scavage from the ebook successes that have hit lists on Amazon and Barnes and Noble to find their next client.  Of course, that’s going to cost them because those of us who are going indie or self-publishing aren’t stupid.  We know our bargaining power better than ever.

I have a feeling that readers are going to love the numerous choices they have these days.  They don’t care who the publisher is the format the book is published in.  They care about the story.

What kinds of stories readers wanting in 2012?

Your guess is as good as mine.  I don’t think paranormal is going anywhere anytime soon.  Yes, the market is crowded and a story needs to “stand out”, but standing out is in the eye of the beholder.

I wouldn’t be surprised if horror found a new audience with the whole zombie thing.  I don’t think people are into splatter for the sake of splatter or grossing out for the sake of grossing out.  People are smart and they want smart horror.  No more cars that won’t start, dying cell phone batteries as the killer is after their victim.  Oh, and if the idiot victim trips and falls, she deserves to die.

I think things like women’s fiction and contemporary romances are going to only get better and be in more of a demand.  They say erotica is flat right now, but I don’t foresee it staying that way.  Historicals have been a nice discovery for me this year, as well as YAs.  But, I think the demand for YAs will start to deflate because there is just too much right now.  Teens grow up and want more grown-up books.  Even my love for YA books has dropped off substantially because I want that more grownup read.

My hope is that sci-fi will take off.  I love sci-fi, but it’s hard for me to find stories that match the incredible story lines like Firefly, Star Wars, or ET.  I’m a huge Stargate fan, though not with Stargate Universe.  I’d love to find something that grabs me by the throat like Blade Runner or Road Warrior had.  But like I said, I just can’t find it.  One of my favorite movies of all time: Aliens.  I’d give ANYTHING to find something like that on the bookshelf.  So that’s why I say it’s my hope that something will emerge this year that will take readers by storm the same way Stephanie Meyers Twilight did.

What about audio books?

Honestly, I don’t have clue.  I haven’t invested enough time in researching that market yet and not sure I want to at this point.

So who’s going to win the ebook race?  Traditional, epubs, or self-pubs?

It’s easier to tell you who’s not going to win and that will be traditional.  They’re not going to lose either, but they’re late to the race and have a lot of catching up to do.  And, if they don’t do it right, then they will fail.  Epubs are going to be fine because they know what they’re doing and have been for the last 10+ years.  As for indies, we haven’t reached the cusp of our potential.  More mid-list authors are moving toward indie/self-publishing because they’re being dropped by their publishers.  Fans still want their stories, so they’ll answer the call and make more money than they could’ve ever imagined.  They’ll move away from their horrible 6% ( I think that’s what it is) royalty rate once they realize 70% is so much better.

Marcia, what will you be doing this year other than writing?

I’ll be trying to figure out ways of promoting Dusk Till Dawn Books as a whole and not as a book at a time.  That’s how other pubs like Samhain and Loose-Id do it and it’s worked very well for them.  Well…finding good books has, too.  😉

What kinds of hopes do you have for 2012?

Traditional pub, e-pub, indie-pub, oh my. Where are we headed?

I survived StellarCon and had a blast.  OMG–I am so going back next year, as long as they’ll have me.  And as long as I’m on the topic, MystiCon was fun, too.  It was smaller than StellarCon, but definitely had some very cool programming.  I loved all of my panels from both conventions.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to stay for the Traditional pub, e-pub, indie-pub, oh my.  Where are we headed?  panel.  But since I couldn’t, I thought I’d bring my views here to my blog.  And keep in mind, the majority of us were readers before we were writers.  So, this is a topic that pertains to both. 

First, I believe the more technologically savvy readers are, the more likely they’ll be the ones to decide who will rise in the publishing world.  If you don’t believe me, think about cells phones.  Once the technology improved and the prices lessened to where everyone could afford one, they took off.  Some seemed to be more connected to their fancy phones these days than the one that’s plugged into the wall at home.  It’s only a matter of time before ereaders do the same.  And even though there are  many readers who love the tactile feel of the paper between their fingers, are they really interested in paper or the actual story?  Sorry guys, but I buy a book for the story. 

So where does that leave readers who cling to the paper?  Right where they are now.  They’ll still be able to hold a book in their hands (though their choices will lessen) and here’s why I say that.

Contrary to some beliefs, print-first/traditional publishing won’t die a horrible death.  They will only keep those authors who they know will sell out of their advance.  After all, they’re in this for the money and they’re losing it with every author who hasn’t proven themselves as bestsellers.  That means publishers take less chances than they are now and offer fewer advance dollars.  Again, they’re not going out of business.  Just decreasing their print runs–no thanks to the Borders demise–and their offerings.  

This is assuming those publishers embrace ebooks the right way (lesser prices) and they pay their authors a %40 royalty rate.  The more traditional publishers concentrate on ebooks, the more there’s a chance they’ll see their bottom line strengthen.  Ebooks will give them the revenue they need to keep authors in print and their lights on.  After all, ebooks have increased 135% in sales this past year and it keeps getting better.  Mass market, hardcover, trade paper, etc.  They’ve all gone down.  Granted ebooks are still a small part of the market shares, I have a feeling it won’t be like that for much longer.  Not when people care about their bottom line as much as the publishers do about theirs.  😉

Epubs who got it right from the get-go or have taken time to earn their reputation, will be around for a LONG time.  In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if they become major players in the publishing world.  They’ve been at this game for a while and know the ins and outs.  Even better, they adapt way faster than a traditional pub can.  When I first came onboard with Samhain, it seemed Chrissy Bashear was working left and right to get our books available in every format and outlet possible.  Her willingness to seek out new opportunities has yet to slow down.  It took how long for NY to catch on?  Epubs have been at this business for years, so they know how to sell an ebook. 

As for indie pubs, I have no doubts they’ll survive simply because it’s our world to do whatever we want.  We take our work to the readers and don’t look back.  There isn’t an editorial review board or a marketing board to go through.  No senior editor or an agent involved.  It’s all about the writer having direct access to their readers.  I think it’ll only get bigger, with traditional and e-pub writers getting into the mix.  Indie authors are already forming groups to cross-promote their books and make sure they reach as wide an audience as possible.  If anything, this will become the largest field with the most choices available.  Now will they be good choices?  I can’t say.  It’ll depend who decides to go the extra miles of hiring competent editors, cover artists, and getting honest/constructive feedback.  It’s a reader’s oyster as much as it is the writer’s. 

Personally speaking, I still haven’t taken my eye off NY because they have the massive distribution channels that indie pubs don’t.  I see them as the ultimate marketing tool for my indie-published books.   When I’ll dip my toes in those waters again, I have no idea and it’s not really my focus right now.  I’m concentrating on building Dusk Till Dawn Books

Agree or disagree?  I’d love to know everyone else’s thoughts.

Publishing Blocks

There’s been so much talk in the news these days regarding Dorchester going epub and Amazon upping their payouts to self-pubbed authors who publish their books in Kindle.  In the last few days alone, I must have visited a dozen websites with everyone spouting pieces of advice and their predictions for the future.

The only thing I’m certain of is all eyes are on Dorchester right now to see if they’ll sink or swim.  From what I understand, they’ve been sinking for a while anyway.  Many think this new model of theirs won’t matter.  But I see it like a new pair of shoes.  You need some time to break them in, but eventually you’ll decide whether they’re worth the pain of squashed tootsies or not.  If you loves those shoes enough, you’ll stick with them.  Otherwise, they go.  If Dorchester cares enough to ride out the blisters and whelps they’ve accrued, they might actually succeed.  Only time will tell.  And just as a side note, I have no problem with Dorchester or their new model.  It’s been working well with places like Samhain and Elloras Cave for a while now.  The only difference is Samhain–I don’t write for Elloras Cave, so I don’t know–will actually keep their people abreast of their business affairs.  Dorchester might want to make note of that, assuming they have any authors left.  Bridges have been burned so bad, that the fires are eating up the hillside.

Publishing has been wavering for a while now.  Ever since the economy bellied up, everyone has been hurting.  Advances are getting smaller and it’s harder to sell to New York.  My friend Edie Ramer shared an article about Steve Coker, the founder of Smashwords that has had me thinking about my own writing career and what I want to do with it.  Reading Dean Wesley Smith’s blog hasn’t helped either.  I can’t help but wonder about the place I’m at in my career right now and what it means with regards to the future of publishing. 

Let me be blunt.  I’ve been seriously rethinking my NY goal long before the Dorchester upheaval.  I’m talking since the beginning of the year while I was on maternity leave.  While it’s great to be with the publishing giants, will they be there when I arrive?  I bet that has crossed the mines of anyone who just recently received a Dorchester contract in the past month.  Don’t get me wrong.  I want NY.  That’s where the money is and that’s where I’ll be in a better place to live out my dreams of writing full-time.  But I’m worried if that dream will come to a horrible end at some point because NY will either be too late to adapt or won’t adapt at all to the ever-changing market. 

Now let me be blunt about something else.  I like being with my small publishers, too.  Not because I’m making millions of dollars or anything.  😆  Yeah.  Right.  But at least I know what to expect from them.  There isn’t the pressure to make NYT or USA Today’s bestseller lists out of fear that my midlist-self will die a horrible career death.  I’m not saying it’s impossible to make those lists.  I’m just being realistic. 

If Dorchester succeeds, you’ll see more ebooks and POD trade paperbacks by more NY pubs in the coming years.  Indie publishing will continue to grow, too.  Advances will probably go down while royalties go up.  As for agents, I have to wonder if their jobs will become obsolete.  After all, you don’t need an agent to submit to an epub, which are on the brink of becoming a major force in their own right.  Small presses who have nothing to lose, might win because many of them have been embracing more ebooks, having small print runs that do less damage to their bottom line, and POD for when that print run runs out.

Oh, and as a side note, I wouldn’t mind indie-publishing a book or two, but I my hangup is I don’t want to go at it alone.  I’d prefer to do it with a group of authors forming our own publishing “group” where we critique each other’s manuscripts before agreeing to publish them.  Also, we agree to put up a certain amount of our own “starter” cash toward promotional expenses for said company until we can afford to peel some money from a reserve.  I’m talking ad space in popular places, along with hiring an artist to do all of our book covers and ad designs.  We’d have to make sure everyone is getting properly paid for their book(s), but I don’t mind pocketing $7.50 from each of my $10 books while $2.50 goes back to our company.  

Okay, so as you can see, I’ve thought about indie-publishing a lot.  😆  But look at the bright side.  We get the editing our books need, we hire a good cover artist to handle all of the artwork for less of the upfront fees that usually kills us all anyway, and we might be able to hire a promo company to handle a chunk of the word-of-mouth.  🙂

My last thought: all writer’s should know something about the business side of publishing.  You’ll need it now more than ever whether you have an agent or not.  The face of publishing is changing and you can either ride the wave or it’ll plant your face in the sand.

Anyway, those are my thoughts.  Care to share yours?