Month: May 2011
I just read an interesting blog post where another fairly well known romance author is going to start self-publishing her own books. She walked away from a nice book deal, with a well known romance publisher, to do her own thing.
Of course I’m a little cynical when it comes to these blog posts. There are too many little things not mentioned in the post and I start thinking twice. On the surface it seems like an explanation as to why the author is going rogue. But I’m one of those who read between the lines all the time, and I have a funny feeling the post was more about promoting the new self-published book than it was about letting readers know the true reasons why the author decided to self-publish. I could be wrong. Maybe the author I’m talking about is branching out on her own because of the reasons she posted. But I’d be willing to bet there’s more to the story.
And even if there isn’t, I do have to admit I admire published authors who decide to self-publish. Especially authors with good book deals from large publishers who have already established a fan base…even if they are full of shit most of the time (smile). There have been times I’ve thought about doing it myself. But I have just as many reasons for not going the self-published route as some authors have for going the self-published route. One reason is quality of life. I love my publishers and depend on the collaboration. If I had to do it alone, I’d never stop working and I’m already working six and seven days a week writing. I need to know Holly at ravenous romance likes the title, or hates the title. I need to know Claudia at Loveyoudivine thinks something will work…or won’t work. I don’t do crit groups and I need the publisher’s input all the time.
There are so many things changing in publishing these days no one can predict the future and no one can say who is right and who is wrong. But it should be interesting to see how it all turns out in the end. I do know one thing for certain…and this is because I’ve been around long enough to see how things repeat themselves over and over again…not everyone will be Barry Eisler or Amanda Hocking. It doesn’t work that way, in life or in publishing, and I’d hate to see a lot of good authors leave viable publishers with dreams of becoming Barry Eisler or Amanda Hocking.
I saw a comment last night on a social network where a reader was disappointed because she’d purchased an e-book and thought it was longer than it actually was. The first six pages were empty, then came more filler pages, and then finally eleven more pages of information about other books in the series. In other words, by the time she got to the actual book she realized the book itself was only seventy-five percent of the entire digital product she bought.
Even though I post all product details here on the blog for each book of mine, some readers have left nasty amazon reviews for my books because they bought an e-book that was actually a short story thinking they were getting a full length novel.
I’ve even purchased e-books myself and I’ve been disappointed in the product details…the details either weren’t good enough or I was led to believe I was getting something else.
And you can’t tell anymore just by looking at the prices. I have full length digital novels out that are priced at .99, and I have short stories priced at 2.00. I have no control over book pricing. The publisher does this and I have no say in the matter. No author who is published with any publisher has a say in how his or her books are priced. That’s just a fact of life.
I’ve learned that in order to avoid any disappointment when I’m buying an e-book is to triple check product details on other web sites where they sell e-books. Some are better than others…the bigger sites seem to be the worst. But I usually wind up with all the product information I need. It’s out there; you just have to look for it.
I know publishers don’t do this on purpose. One of the problems in e-publishing is that most publishers don’t have a clue about merchandising and retail. When I owned my two businesses, I learned the public needs as much information as possible…and never assume anything when dealing with the general public. But from what I’ve seen most publishers fall short in this department. They know how to put out some great books, but don’t know how to deal with the buying public. They also take a lot for granted, with regard to the way people shop online. I not a tech geek and never have been. I couldn’t care less about DRM or file sizes or KB. When I see “146 KB” I think WTF? And then I wonder who the geeks are who are putting this information out there.
I don’t want to know about technical crap either. I just want to know how many words to book contains, what it’s about, and how much it is. Period.
So the only alternative for readers is to check out all the options before making a purchase. I can’t actually say there’s one site that does every thing perfect. But each individual site seems to cover something another site missed.
I’m also going to be adding my own product details, in the form of a list, from now on when a book is released. The product details I think would be important if I were buying an e-book for pleasure. And if anyone has any questions about anything, I always encourage them to e-mail me. You can also e-mail the publisher, too. I doubt you’ll get any responses from large publishers, but small e-publishers will respond to almost everything.
I’ve been approached by a few people about placing ads here on the blog. I’ve thought about it seriously. It’s not that I’m against ads on blogs. But I rarely ever pay attention to them. For that matter, I don’t pay attention to ads on facebook either. I find them intrusive and I automatically drift in the opposite direction of ads like this. And instead of leaving me with a subconscious desire to purchase the product being advertised, I wind up with a conscious desire to avoid places where there are too many ads. Most are extremely cheesy looking.
I’m also unsure about the money these ads generate. It looks like nickle and diming to me. I could be wrong. I haven’t done it. Maybe they do make money. But speaking as someone who has owned an operated two good businesses and bought and sold my fair share of high end real estate I don’t like wasting my time…or taking the risk of annoying my regular blog readers for nickles and dimes. Since I started the blog…not for profit at all…I’ve also started generating thousands of hits a week to my own surprise. And I take each and every blog reader as seriously as I take the readers who buy my books.
Being that I don’t often review books here on the blog, it wouldn’t be a conflict of interest if I started doing ads. I will comment on books I love once in a while, but my taste is so eclectic I rarely zoom in on any one particular genre. And, this will never be a review blog.
A lot of the ads I’ve been approached about have been geared toward the adult entertainment industry. I have no problem with this. I write a lot of erotica and I don’t judge anyone. But this blog is, and always has been, pg rated. And even that’s stretching it…it’s more like g-rated as far as blog posts go. If I were to have ads here promoting something in the adult entertainment industry I’d have to do that Google Content Warning Page. And they annoy the hell out of me.
So I don’t see myself agreeing to doing any ads here on this blog, at least for the time being. I may change my mind in the future. But right now things are going to stay the same. And if anyone does want to comment about their experiences when it comes to ads on blogs, I’d love to hear all thoughts. I don’t have any experience with these ads and I’m basing my decision not to have ads on pure instinct, with regard to what I like or don’t like when I’m reading other blogs.
Earlier this week, I pubbed and excerpt from The Virgin Billionaire and the Evil Twin from an excerpt that’s already been released. And now here’s one that hasn’t been released anywhere else but here.
When the phone rang, Luis thought it was Jase calling from Alaska. He was just getting out of the bathtub and there were still suds on his body from the bubble bath he’d used. He rarely took bubble baths because he never had enough time to indulge himself. But with Jase and Hunter in Alaska visiting Jase’s family, Luis had decided to pamper himself a little that night. He’d been hoping a nice hot bath would calm his nerves a little, too. His stomach had been turning since his twin brother, Eddie, who now referred to himself as Gage Weston, stormed out of the house earlier that afternoon, leaving them with unfinished business once again.
Luis reached for the phone he’d placed on the marble vanity in the bathroom in case Jase called and said hello. He grabbed a thick white towel with his other hand and started patting a mound of bubbles between his smooth, wet legs. He was hoping it would be Jase and they could have phone sex. He felt sexy standing there naked with bubbles dripping down his body.
But it was a bad connection and Luis had to ask twice, “Who is this?”
“I said, it’s your brother, asshole.”
“Eddie,” Luis said. “Is that you? Where are you? We have a bad connection and I can hardly hear you.” He wiped a few bubbles on his ass and set the towel on the marble vanity. The minute he knew it was his twin brother, he’d stopped feeling sexy.
“I need to see you tonight,” Gage said. Though the connection was terrible, Luis picked up a hint of panic in his brother’s voice.
“I just stepped out of the bath tub,” Luis said. “I’m dripping in bubbles and I was just going to go to bed. Can’t this wait until tomorrow?” The last thing Luis wanted that night was another bad scene with his brother.
“It can’t wait,” Gage said. “I need you to come to my apartment. Be there by midnight.”
“Are you in some kind of trouble?” Luis asked.
“I don’t want to get into it on the phone,” Gage said. “Just be at my door by midnight.” Then Gage rattled off his Brooklyn address and said he’d be waiting for him inside the grocery store.
“I can’t come to Brooklyn at this hour,” Luis said. “I never go to neighborhoods like that at this hour.” He knew he was being vicious with that comment. If it had been anyone else calling, Luis wouldn’t have thought twice about going to Brooklyn. He had good friends in Brooklyn; he loved Brooklyn. But he wanted to hurt Gage’s feelings and he wasn’t even sure why. They’d been this way with each other all their lives, constantly competing, always trying to hurt each other. Now that Luis knew his twin brother couldn’t even begin to compete with him financially, Luis took advantage of the opportunity to make him feel like a failure.
“What’s the matter, Mrs. Virgin Billionaire?” Gage asked. “Are you too good to come to Brooklyn? Are you too important to socialize with peasants like me?”
Early this morning before I started working on a new series, I checked out a few bloggers I like to follow on a daily basis and found an interesting post. The title of the post suggested I was going to be reading about “Indie” authors. I’ve been published by small presses myself many times. I love “Indie” publishers and “Indie” authors and look forward to reading anything about them.
The blog post I’m talking about was a guest post on a publishing blog I frequent often. The regular author of the blog wrote a short introduction paragraph and I decided to skip it and move right into the guest blogger’s post to save time.
But I’d say about a quarter of the way into the guest post I stopped reading because things weren’t making sense. The author was talking about editing costs, cover artist costs, and a list of other expenses I didn’t expect to find in a blog post about “Indie” authors.
Then I started to wonder if I’d missed a few changes…whether or not it’s become common practice for “Indie” publishers to now charge authors fees. I’ve always been a little fanatical about this. The way publishing has always worked is that the publisher pays the author, with either an advance, a flat fee, or royalties. I’ve never paid a publisher a single cent to have any of my work published. I’ve never paid a literary agent a reading fee. For me, paying a publisher or paying a literary agent is an automatic red flag. And I stay far away from those types because I don’t think they are ethical.
I’ve been around for almost twenty years and I’ve seen a lot. I know for a fact there’s one small press out there that charges authors editing fees, and there have been literary agents charging reading fees since the beginning of time.
But as I continued to read this blog post something wasn’t right. The author of the post continued referring to herself as an “Indie” author, only it sounded more like she was talking about her experience as a self-published author.
So I went back and checked the blog owner’s introduction, which I should have done in the first place. And sure enough, the blog owner introduced the guest blogger as a self-published author, not an “Indie” author. And the post was about self-publishing, not small presses.
I’ve always been a staunch supporter of self-published authors. I admire them and I’ve supported a few right here on my blog. But as far as I’ve always known…and like I said I’ve been around for a long time…”Indie” publishers are considered small presses. And the distinction has always been crystal clear.
At first I thought maybe the guest blogger was so new she was using a term she shouldn’t have been using. But then I read the comment thread and found that I wasn’t the only one confused, especially with the title of the post. Others thought it was misleading, too. I found this on wiki. But the biggest surprise of all was that for every comment that said the guest blogger was misleading the readers, there was another comment defending the use of “Indie” when referring to a self-published author.
So I learned something knew today. Evidently, “Indie” is now being used to refer to self-published authors as well as small presses.
I’m not commenting with my opinion at all. I don’t think it makes a huge difference in the grand scheme for anyone. It might even catch on and become common practice. But I will say this. If I ever decide to self-publish anything (and I’ve thought about self-publishing very seriously in the past year), I’m going to proudly call myself a self-published author, not an “Indie” author. If I’m going to spend my hard earned money publishing my own book, I want full credit as a proud self-published author and I don’t want anyone thinking I was published by a small press. I also don’t want to mislead anyone either.
THE VIRGIN BILLIONAIRE AND THE EVIL TWIN wasn’t an easy book to write. Most of the book is from the evil twin’s POV, which means he’s seeing Luis and Jase in a completely different light. I even went back and changed a few parts during edits so he wouldn’t come off looking too critical. But there is a happy ending, and a few unexpected emotional scenes between the twin brothers.
I based a lot of this book on personal experience. I don’t have an evil twin. But I do have a gay brother close in age and I understand the dynamics in the relationship. The relationships between siblings can be complicated at best. In other words, I’m not standing on the outside looking in this time, which is usually the way the process works when writing fiction.
Gage Weston never wore hats, especially not baseball caps. He had
thick, wavy hair that he kept longer than most gay men in their late twenties did; he worked hard not to look like everyone else. He parted it in the center and bleached it himself with a drugstore frosting kit because he couldn’t afford to waste money on foil wraps in an expensive New York hair salon. He even cut it himself, with three mirrors and a cheap pair of scissors he’d purchased at a beauty supply on Broadway.
His wardrobe revolved around six white dress shirts, three pairs of
jeans, and two black blazers. He owned three neckties, a pair of good black leather quarter boots, and a pair of running shoes. The black belt he owned was ten years old and his beige jeans and black dress slacks were almost twelve. Everything else in his small closet was either a castoff he’d found in a secondhand shop for less than five dollars or something he’d owned since he was a teenager.
On the morning he went to the opening of the new building for the
Angel Association in the West Village, he wore a black baseball cap on purpose. He also wore a white shirt, his darkest jeans, his black quarter boots, and the newest of his black sport jackets. He wanted to look nice, because this was one of those almost-formal affairs. But he didn’t want to be recognized.
As he entered the Angel Association building, he lowered his head
and pulled the brim of the cap down as low as he could, practically covering his eyes. He shoved his hands into his pockets and hunched over a little. Gage had the kind of natural walk that could turn heads even when he wasn’t trying for attention, and he wasn’t trying now. His body seemed to swagger and his hips swayed a little. An older woman in a Chinese red dress standing beside the entrance door smiled and stepped aside. He noticed the way she glanced up and down at his legs and he sent her a smile so fast his
head didn’t move and the corner of his lips hardly turned up. A group of pudgy gay men in their forties standing near a refreshment table sent him quick, individual glances and gaped at his crotch as if they hadn’t seen a decent crotch in years. Gage kept walking as if he didn’t notice them. He crossed through the main lobby, lowering his head even more, and stopped behind a group of people who were listening to Luis Fortune give a speech.
Gage knew more about Luis Fortune than anyone else in the room.
Luis was “married” to Jase Nicholas, who had been dubbed the Virgin
Billionaire by the press because he had made his billions with his Virgin Alaskan Spring Water company. Gage had been following Luis Fortune’s life in New York for some time, ever since Luis had accidentally become mixed up in a sordid drug ring that involved Luis’s used underwear and a few older gay real-estate agents in Manhattan who had fallen on hard times.
Gage had read Luis’s sappy blog posts on that ridiculous gay romance blog called Elena’s Romantic Treasures and Tidbits. He’d seen Luis’s photos in magazines for which Luis had modeled professionally more times than he cared to recall. Gage even knew Luis and Jase had a weekend house in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, called Cider Mill Farm; they traveled to Alaska as much as they could to spend time with Jase’s family; and they had a preschool-aged son named Hunter who was really Jase’s biological child.
It wasn’t difficult to follow Luis Fortune’s life now that he was
married to the Virgin Billionaire, especially since Luis had recently made headlines for getting involved with a shifty character named Dariussomething who had been harboring a grudge against Luis Fortune for exposing an underage pornographer in Los Angeles.
In the past four or five years I’ve watched many changes happen within the publishing industry. All good changes, at least I think they are.
But I think the most wonderful change I’ve seen is how the M/M romance community has pulled together and formed such a solid, positive bond. Every day when I open my in-box there’s a nice e-mail from a M/M romance author talking about a new book. These e-mails are always filled with positive energy, which is the best way to start off even the rainiest, cloudiest day of the week. I look forward to seeing who is doing what, and how they are doing it. Everyone seems to be doing something different, but just as interesting.
I used to dread opening my in-box in the morning. I never knew what to expect. If it wasn’t spam, it was a political e-mail from a disgruntled friend with too much time to waste. And now when I open my mail I can’t wait to see what’s new and what’s happening within the M/M romance community. There are so many wonderful books from which to choose my TBR list becomes longer each month. I have two Kobo e-readers, the Look Book and the regular Kobo, and my libraries are filled with more books than I ever dreamed I’d read.
I’ve also seen M/M authors bond together in ways I never could have predicted four or five years ago. We used to be set apart from each other and didn’t have opportunities to communicate. But I’ve seen contests like The Rainbow Awards grow into positive representations of what all M/M authors are striving toward with their hard work. This includes cover artists and models as well. And no matter how busy anyone is, there’s always time to help out a fellow author. Sometimes it comes in the form of offering advice, other times it comes in the form of providing support. The energy has become explosive; you can almost feel it everywhere you go these days on the Internet.
From social networks to personal blogs, almost all M/M authors are selflessly dedicated to creating changes and making positive moves that promote a better quality of life to the entire lgbt community. Some have become involved in wonderful organizations that provide support for people living with HIV and AIDS. Others have offered support to PETA and other animal rights organizations. I can’t list all the organizations; it would take too long. Readers benefit, too. They get chances to win free digital readers and free e-books and communicate one on one with their favorite authors. And publishers are working with their authors in order to please their readers.
And the wonderful reviews sites that have popped up in the past four or five years that support the M/M community have become positive places where authors and readers can browse and learn information they wouldn’t normally be able to find in bookshops and newspapers. In fact, there’s so much information out there I set time aside to read these sites for pleasure most of the time. What used to be hard work is now something we look forward to doing.
If the changes that have happened recently are any indication of the changes yet to come, there’s a lot to look forward to in the future. And I think that’s what’s going to happen. I get e-mails at least three or four times a week from new M/M authors asking questions about publishers, social media, and how to get started writing M/M fiction. And from what I’ve seen, there are a lot of great writers yet to come. They have fresh voices, creative concepts, and new approaches that haven’t been done yet.
It’s probably one of the best times to be part of a publishing community in the history of publishing. I don’t know what it’s like with other genres, but I hope they are experiencing the same exciting energy we’re all experiencing in the M/M romance community.
I just posted something on facebook and figured I post about it here, too. Usually it’s the other way around. I post here and link to FB.
Summer’s here and a lot of people go away. And even though things move faster in publishing nowadays, people still take vacations. They plan ahead all year, looking forward to down time.
Editors go on vacation. They work hard and they deserve a break. Last year I started asking around, finding out when my editors would be away during the summer so I didn’t bother them with e-mails and submissions. I’m doing the same thing this year, too.
The last thing I’d want if I were on vacation is an e-mail about a manuscript. And I think it’s important for writers to extend this courtesy to all their editors. And when the editor gets back, he/she is all the more relaxed and ready to get back to work.