Month: June 2011

Believing What You Read On the Web…

It’s a long standing joke in political circles that you can’t believe anything you read on the web. And I’m starting to think it’s trickling over into the publishing industry.

So far this week I’ve read that a book reviewer is now going to be consulting with a large publisher as far as acquisitions go. Frankly, I find this hard to believe…or take seriously. Sounds more like a the publisher made an off-handed comment like this,”We might want to know your thoughts sometime in the future,” in order to get rid of a pushy know-it-all at a conference instead of an actual deal.

On another blog post, I read all about how a large publishing house is offering a certain percentage of e-book royalties to authors…without even letting authors or agents know about it. I checked this one out with a good friend who knows better. He’d never heard of it, he said all the information was innacurate, and then got mad at me for reading trash like that. I trust his knowledge.

I read this weird post about agents offering different services, without being clear about WTF they were doing.

And, to top all this off, I read the dumbest post I’ve ever read about a list of scenes authors should never write in the beginning of a book (this, by the way, was from the same blogger who once said never begin a sentence with the word, “that”). It made no sense. It was absolutely stupid. And yet people were commenting, praising, and applauding the post. …You have to wonder what this one is putting in the Kool Aide!!

You also have to wonder whether or not it’s even worth the time and energy to read these blogs. If the information isn’t going to be accurate, what’s the point?

Do All Authors Need Literary Agents Nowadays?

I honestly don’t know the answer to this question. Other than for a brief period in my career, I’ve never had an agent. And the short time I had one it didn’t work out well (but that’s another post), especially when I was making the deals, contacting the publishers, signing the contracts, and sending her checks .

Part of the reason I’ve never had an agent is that I’m not fond of the query system and never have been. It’s a set up for failure and the basic concept frustrates me. A lot has to do with luck, too, and I believe we make our own luck.

Another reason why I never queried agents often is that most literary agents don’t rep LGBT fiction…at least not until recently. In the past, a few agents repped what they referred to (and are still referring to, sadly)as “gay/lesbian.” And the handful that did rep gay/lesbian, usually either despised erotica or laughed at it.

It’s not that I didn’t want an agent. I’ve made more than a few business mistakes and I’ve had to learn everything the hard way over the years. An agent would have been extremely handy. But it didn’t work out that way and I don’t have any regrets so far.

I’m reading Julia Child’s bio right now, and I learned she never had an agent either. She had excellent attorney’s represent her. But for the most part, up until she got older, she and her husband controlled the money, the book deals, and everything that had to do with her career as an author.

I have one last non-fiction editorial client left. I only keep him on because I love what he writes and I’m the only one who can read his manuscripts…he writes everything in long hand. His books are spiritual/self-help and his name is Curtis von Dornheim. He already has published books on amazon…he was publishing his own books long before it became popular. He’s recently begun a new venture of his own to self-publish Kindle e-books, and he’s not even thinking about querying agents.

I’ve also written several pg rated hetero romances for publishers under a pen name that have sold well. I didn’t need an agent to get those deals either. I shopped the books myself, and took advantage of every opportunity there was.

In the past, the publishing system worked this way: You wrote a book, you started querying agents, and you waited to hear back from the agents. Most publishers didn’t take unagented material…or queries. So the literary agents were, in fact, the gatekeepers, and they’ve been coveting this title for many, many years.

The only problem is that the books chosen by the gatekeepers were subjected to their own personal taste. If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a million times, “We have to love a book in order to sell it,” is what most agents will say. And this subjectivity may have worked before people became enlightened and knew they had choices, thanks to technology. We don’t have to read what literary agents “love.” As readers we can spend hours on our own now shopping for e-books by many unagented authors who are working with e-publishers…or self-publishing their own books.

Like I said, having a good agent can’t hurt an author’s career. It can be one of the best relationships in an author or agent’s life. In a way, it’s almost like a marriage-friendship-partnership. But I’m not so sure authors need agents in the same way they needed them before. They need the expertise, the ability to negotiate, and the good common sense to remain objective when it comes to important business matters. And I’m not sure exactly how things will work in the future as far as author agent relationships go. They may remain the same, and agents might continue as the gatekeepers. But these new authors I’m seeing out there who are self-publishing and making their own deals are talented, full of energy, and extremely aggressive. And they aren’t sitting around writing queries and waiting for rejection.

Cover Preview: The Buckhampton Country Club…and the Rogue Prince

Here’s the new cover for what might become a new series. It’s titled THE BUCKHAMPTON COUNTRY CLUB, and it’s set in a fictional town on the eastern tip of Long Island where everything revolves around a private country club. One of the main characters is a prince from a small country in Europe, and the other is the heir to a chocolate factory and the worlds most unusual traveling circus.

Before Jumping to Conclusions…

I’d like to make this post short and sweet. Yesterday I posted about a literary agency that announced they were going to offer new services on their blog. They did it nicely and honestly; they did it with good intentions. And they were hit with more than a few negative comments.

But this post isn’t about literary agencies doing different things. It’s about jumping to conclusions in a general sense.

As a blogger and author, I have seen and experienced this passion to jump to conclusions so many times I can almost predict when I read a blog post whether or not it’s going to cause a cyber-storm. Sometimes I cringe thinking about how surprised the blogger is going to be when they start slamming him/her. People will read a blog post or an announcement about something different in publishing and they will jump to conclusions and start blasting the project before they even know any details about it.

I’ve seen this happen with publishers (mainly new publishers); I’ve seen this happen with authors. And nine times out of ten the problems arise when people who make the announcements don’t communicate clearly.

Unfortunately for them, nine times out of ten they are making their announcements with good intentions and they aren’t trying to hurt anyone. It’s usually something new, and people seem to have a hard time handling change…especially if it’s not communicated well.

But before you jump to any conclusions the next time you read about a new publisher hitting the market or something new a literary agent or author is doing, sit back and think first. Get more information and learn the details from different sources. Some publishing blogs promote negativity so they can garner a larger readership, and they do this so well you’d never know they were doing it (there are a few crafty legal types who apply courtroom logic to each blog post and know how to manipulate and start firestorms). Don’t let them manipulate you this way. When you post something negative on the web it’s there for a long time. Keep it positive until you know the facts.

Literary Agencies Offering Other "Services" Now…

This particular post on the Dystel & Goderich blog explains what their agency is doing by offering new services. In this post, and the one below it, they explain it far better than I can explain it.

The publishing industry is changing, no doubt about that. And digital publishing seems to be the catalyst. I’m glad I saw the signs a few years back and made the switch when I did. At first I was apprehensive about signing on with e-publishers because I didn’t understand what e-publishing was all about. I’ll never forget my first phone call with Claudia Regenos at love you divine, where I pretended I knew what she was talking about and didn’t have a clue…she’ll get a laugh out of that one. But I have no regrets at all. And knowing what I know now, the only thing I would change if I could go back in time is that I’d have made the switch a few years earlier than I did.

But with all these changes, I do think authors need to be aware of certain “things” nowadays that aren’t explained very well on some publishing blogs. I don’t think the bloggers are doing this on purpose. I just don’t think they know any better…yet. And one of those things is the difference between self-publishing and e-publishing.

Self-publishing, which I support all the time here on this blog, is not the same thing as e-publishing. When you go the route of self-publishing, you are taking on all the responsibility, making all the decisions, and paying out of your own pocket. It’s business venture that takes courage and conviction.

Now, e-publishing isn’t that much different from “traditional” publishing, except that the books are all released as either e-books or print on demand…and they are usually priced far lower than with “traditional” publishers. If you decide to pursue a career in e-publishing (not self-publishing) you still have to query, submit a manuscript, and wait to hear a response from the e-publisher. But if you are accepted, you won’t have to pay to have your work published. Some even offer advances.

I’ve often thought about self-publishing a few things myself. Like I said, I love the concept and applaud those who take the plunge. But I don’t want the responsibility of making all the decisions, and I don’t want to have to manage everything from initial concept to final product. I’ve done that twice before in my life with other businesses and right now all I want to do is write and communicate with my readers.

So there are new opportunities popping up everywhere for new authors. And looking into these literary agencies who are offering new services might not be a bad idea. I’ve heard good and bad. But I hear good and bad about everything these days and only time will tell. Five years ago everyone was laughing at e-publishers and e-books, and look what happened there.

Digital Drama!!

I haven’t seen much mentioned about digital drama in the publishing world, especially in romance and other sub-genres. This might be because so many of the publishing web sites and blogs seem to promote digital drama instead of trying to stop it. I don’t know if this is fact or not…it’s just a basic personal observation on my end; an opinion.

I do know that when I see a publishing oriented web site where there are tons of publisher advertisements and the publishing blog or web site can be purchased as a Kindle download for “the incredible price” of .99, this tells me the blog or web site is more commercially oriented than public service oriented. Of course these blogs and web sites never say this; they lead everyone to believe they are consumer oriented. But commercial is commercial. And when anything is commercially oriented, the owners are usually ambitious enough to promote anything or anyone that will promote readership and their own agenda. Unfortunately, it makes it hard for online readers to know whether or not they are, in fact, being manipulated.

I’ve been seeing a lot mentioned about digital drama everywhere else. There’s a campaign going on this summer I can’t praise enough. Launching this summer, Seventeen will feature a multi-page story in the August issue of the magazine, which will include stories from readers and ABC Family talent about their own experiences with bullying.

This new digital drama campaign is based around young adults, as you can see from this article: DDD is an initiative of Seventeen magazine and ABC Family network to erase digital abuse and bullying, which is something every parent wants. But I do think there’s digital drama on the web for everyone, and it’s not just something young adults are dealing with these days. I watched one group on one particular thread this past year where they literally ripped someone to shreds without an ounce of remorse. And it bothered me. The best I could do was offer support and advice, and it eventually died down and everyone forgot about it.

I’ve been the butt of digital drama more than once in the past five years. Each time, an attack was launched from nowhere and I’ve always handled it the same way. I believe that when you’re being pushed, you should pull rather than push back. I also believe all drama, digital or not, is something that’s one-sided if you look the other way. There is, however, one m/m author I would step over if I found her lying on the side of the road begging for help. Even if you look the other way, after you’ve experienced any form of digital drama you never forget it.

I’ve seen other authors, editors, and publishers have to deal with digital drama. There was one instance about three summers ago where it started to affect the quality of one editor’s life. And this digtal drama was the same way with them as it was for most people. They never saw it coming and didn’t understand why they were being attacked. The people who fought back learned the hard way there was no way they could win. All the fighting just perpetuated the digital drama, and it garnered even more attention for the person who started the attack. And those who turned and looked in the opposite direction, and didn’t fight back, won out in the end. The drama died down when the attacker realized she wasn’t going to get anywhere.

Of course the people who instigate digital drama always move on to something or someone else. I’ve seen patterns over the years that always remain true to form. But sooner or later everyone catches on and they start to loose credibility. Even those who think they have huge supporters, always wind up looking ridiculous in the end.

In my own small way, I’d like to dedicate this blog post to anyone in the publishing world who has ever experienced a personal or professional attack…digital drama…for no reason. Especially romance authors. Feel free to comment on the thread to get it out and share your experience. I encourage anonymous comments and all will be treated with absolute privacy. I’ve done this before with blog posts about book pirates and I’m still getting comments almost one year later. In other words, this post will always be here to vent. It’s not just for today.