dumb bloggers

Do Some Authors Release Too Many Books Each Year?

I read an interesting blog post recently that sounded as though the blogger was complaining that there are too many m/m romance books released by some authors over the course of a year. It was worded with care, but very passive aggressive. And I can’t say I wasn’t stunned. I walked away with the feeling that this author/blogger is judging those who may be slightly more prolific than others.

It’s a flawed theory at best, to say there are authors writing too many books per year…in any genre fiction. One, because if the publishers are buying those books the books are obviously selling. Don’t pay attention to bestseller lists on Amazon. They don’t indicate actual book sales, not by a long shot. I’ve posted before how my own books on bestseller lists on Amazon don’t reflect sales…or compare to sales of books that aren’t on those lists. And two, because there are no set standards for writers when it comes to this. In the twenty years I’ve been in publishing, working as associate editor to published author, I have never once seen two authors who work the same way. All authors work at a different pace, which makes all this so wonderful.

But the one fact that the blog post I read missed so completely is that in genre fiction, which is exactly what m/m romance is, it’s been classic…if not expected from publishers…that authors produce more at a faster pace than authors who write mainstream or literary fiction. This is why romance authors typically produce at least three books a year. Authors working in genre fiction don’t have that wide fan base, at least not as wide as authors who write books like “The Help.” The odds of them getting a big book like “Fifty Shades of Grey” are limitied. Romance…and m/m romance as a sub-genre…are still niche markets and authors have to produce more each year in order to survive. In m/m romance, because it’s such a small sub-genre, it helps if an author is prolific and can produce quality work faster. And I find it odd that another author would judge that.

That’s the other issue with the post I read I’m not sure I get. The blogger made the assumption that because an author is prolific he or she might not be producing quality work. This not only shows me the blogger knows little about publishing, but isn’t seasoned enough to make generalizations like that in public. Most authors I know have pen names and write in other genres to make a living. These authors…and most hate the term author, me included…consider themselves career WRITERS. They are in this for the long haul, no matter what it takes, because it’s what they love doing and can’t imagine doing anything else. We love every single aspect there is to publishing, not just the writing part. We breathe it, which is why I’m starting a new project in 2013 I’ll talk about soon. So by making a broad generalized statement that m/m fiction might be lacking in quality because a specific author (or authors) produces a book faster, again, shows a lack of knowledge, experience, and common sense.

It would be like me saying that just because an author works slowly and only publishes a book every ten months or so he or she is not as good as an author who is more prolific. That would make no sense. I would be the biggest jackasswipe of publishingville if I said something like that. Because there is no way to measure the balance between time and quality. But more than that, not every author has the same set of circumstances. For many years I wrote part time, edited part time, and ran my own businesses. I set goals during those years where I would try to get into at least ten anthologies a year with short stories. I loved what I was doing, and I reached a point where editors knew they could depend on me to deliver. Some of those same editors still contact me and I rarely say no even though I’m not making much money on the projects. I’m in an anthology coming out soon with Cleis Press that was edited by Shane Allison, an editor with whom I’ve worked several times over the years. I get calls for submission from him all the time. I still do those books because I LOVE doing them and I love working with Shane, not because I think there’s going to be money involved.

So when new authors make broad generalizations like the ones I’ve posted about above, take them with that proverbial grain of salt. Or, better yet, dismiss them completely. I don’t know why they do this. I’ll never forget the blogger or the comments. But I wish they would think before they put something in writing.

Do Some Authors Release Too Many Books Each Year?

I read an interesting blog post recently that sounded as though the blogger was complaining that there are too many m/m romance books released by some authors over the course of a year. It was worded with care, but very passive aggressive. And I can’t say I wasn’t stunned. I walked away with the feeling that this author/blogger is judging those who may be slightly more prolific than others.

It’s a flawed theory at best, to say there are authors writing too many books per year…in any genre fiction. One, because if the publishers are buying those books the books are obviously selling. Don’t pay attention to bestseller lists on Amazon. They don’t indicate actual book sales, not by a long shot. I’ve posted before how my own books on bestseller lists on Amazon don’t reflect sales…or compare to sales of books that aren’t on those lists. And two, because there are no set standards for writers when it comes to this. In the twenty years I’ve been in publishing, working as associate editor to published author, I have never once seen two authors who work the same way. All authors work at a different pace, which makes all this so wonderful.

But the one fact that the blog post I read missed so completely is that in genre fiction, which is exactly what m/m romance is, it’s been classic…if not expected from publishers…that authors produce more at a faster pace than authors who write mainstream or literary fiction. This is why romance authors typically produce at least three books a year. Authors working in genre fiction don’t have that wide fan base, at least not as wide as authors who write books like “The Help.” The odds of them getting a big book like “Fifty Shades of Grey” are limitied. Romance…and m/m romance as a sub-genre…are still niche markets and authors have to produce more each year in order to survive. In m/m romance, because it’s such a small sub-genre, it helps if an author is prolific and can produce quality work faster. And I find it odd that another author would judge that.

That’s the other issue with the post I read I’m not sure I get. The blogger made the assumption that because an author is prolific he or she might not be producing quality work. This not only shows me the blogger knows little about publishing, but isn’t seasoned enough to make generalizations like that in public. Most authors I know have pen names and write in other genres to make a living. These authors…and most hate the term author, me included…consider themselves career WRITERS. They are in this for the long haul, no matter what it takes, because it’s what they love doing and can’t imagine doing anything else. We love every single aspect there is to publishing, not just the writing part. We breathe it, which is why I’m starting a new project in 2013 I’ll talk about soon. So by making a broad generalized statement that m/m fiction might be lacking in quality because a specific author (or authors) produces a book faster, again, shows a lack of knowledge, experience, and common sense.

It would be like me saying that just because an author works slowly and only publishes a book every ten months or so he or she is not as good as an author who is more prolific. That would make no sense. I would be the biggest jackasswipe of publishingville if I said something like that. Because there is no way to measure the balance between time and quality. But more than that, not every author has the same set of circumstances. For many years I wrote part time, edited part time, and ran my own businesses. I set goals during those years where I would try to get into at least ten anthologies a year with short stories. I loved what I was doing, and I reached a point where editors knew they could depend on me to deliver. Some of those same editors still contact me and I rarely say no even though I’m not making much money on the projects. I’m in an anthology coming out soon with Cleis Press that was edited by Shane Allison, an editor with whom I’ve worked several times over the years. I get calls for submission from him all the time. I still do those books because I LOVE doing them and I love working with Shane, not because I think there’s going to be money involved.

So when new authors make broad generalizations like the ones I’ve posted about above, take them with that proverbial grain of salt. Or, better yet, dismiss them completely. I don’t know why they do this. I’ll never forget the blogger or the comments. But I wish they would think before they put something in writing.

Truth About Amazon Sales Ranks; Great Blogging; Dumbass Bloggers

Amazon Sales Ranks

This week I found a new literary agent publishing blog by Victoria Marini I think I like. It’s too soon to tell at this point, but I’m going to follow the posts for a while before I form an opinion. I did enjoy this post: Amazon Bestseller Ranking System: The Myth and the Magnificent.

I don’t want to burst anyone’s bubble, here. My goal here is not to de-wind your proverbial sales, but rather explain why a high Amazon bestseller ranking does not necessarily equate to mammoth sales figures.

This very smart post goes on to explain how Amazon sales ranks work, and I can back the above statement up from my own personal experiences. I have had Amazon bestsellers more than once…I had one book hit number one for a few weeks in the UK in the gay romance category. This, however, did not mean the sales of that book outweighed the sales of my other books.

So I find Amazon sales ranks to be deceiving at best, and when I see another author get snarky and suggest she knows how a book or author is selling just by looking at the Amazon sales ranks, I know how little she really knows. There are a lot of factors to consider with Amazon sales ranks…and all bestseller lists you see these days everywhere. And just because you see a book or author on a bestseller list don’t always mean spectacular monetary sales for authors. Books I’ve had released that never made Amazon bestseller lists did far better in sales than those with the lowest sales ranks on Amazon bestseller lists. It took me a while to get that, too. Sounds like that doesn’t make sense. But check out the post to which I linked above and you’ll see what I mean. I’m also going to link to this agent’s blog on the blog list here so you can get there easily on a regular basis. Reading blogs like this educates us and it doesn’t cost a dime.

Great Blogging

I just read another interesting post about blogging over at Writeoncon.com, written by literary agent, Pamela van Hycklama Vlieg.

So it isn’t really a saga, but I wanted it to be dramatic, and if SMeyer can do it so can I!

Basically this post is going to take you through the very basics of starting a blog, posting on it, and networking to find bloggy friends.

If you have more technical questions I will be available in the forums to answer!

It’s interesting to me because I found her blog by doing a basic search for literary agent blogs, and while that is a form of networking it’s really the most basic and what most bloggers hope to achieve. I’m also tired of the same literary agent blogs I’ve been reading for the last five or six years and Vlieg’s blog looks different. I’m not tired of them all, I still follow Pub Rants and Lori Perkins, but that query nonsense lost me about two years ago because it never changes. I think part of being a blogger is learning how to adapt and change with the times…moving forward. Pub Rants does that; Lori Perkins does that…Dystel & Goderich does that. But a few don’t, and they tend to become obsolete…or they wind up catering to a readership that doesn’t know any better. And most writers (not all) nowadays know far more than they knew five years ago. The smart lit agent blogs that didn’t want to move forward have closed up shop and moved into social media like Facebook and Twitter and they seem to be thriving there.

Dumbass Bloggers

Now, hold on to your seat for this one. I’m not joking. When I found this next blog, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dave, the title of one post caught my attention: Are Book Bloggers the “Literary Agents of our Time?” You know how I’m always talking about watch what you read online. This is a perfect example of sharing bad information. I thought I would wind up reading a post about how book bloggers are going to help authors get publishing contracts and how book bloggers are going to represent authors as business people, but what I found was something so bizarre I had to read it a few times just to make sure I wasn’t mistaken. No links to THIS blog on the sidebar either.

Evidently, no one told this author/airline pilot what a literary agent actually does:

The definition of an agent is “a person who acts on behalf of another.” If bloggers writing about and reviewing new books doesn’t fall under the definition of an author’s “literary agent” then I don’t know what does. The best part? I have yet to have one ask me for fifteen percent!

You’re right! You don’t know “what does.” Agents don’t work on behalf of authors to hock their books to readers all over the Internet by writing about and reviewing books. Agents work on behalf of authors with publishers.

I have read more than my share of dumb blog posts over the years, but I have to say this one tops the list. First, the post is all about book bloggers reviewing books (in this case I’m assuming self-pubbed books). And there’s nothing wrong with that. That’s what book bloggers are supposed to do. I even do it sometimes. But the problem is that’s not what literary agents are supposed to do. Literary agents don’t review books for marketing and promotional reasons. If they review books on a personal level, that’s fine and it’s their business. But to assume that book bloggers reviewing books makes them “agents” because they promote and market authors is taking the entire concept of what a literary agent actually does and spinning it around to the point where it doesn’t even make sense.

Literary agents are supposed to guide authors and careers. They are there to protect authors when it comes to contracts and they work on behalf of authors when dealing with publishers. Book bloggers don’t do this. Book bloggers review books and no publisher is going to deal with them as literary agents. So watch out for posts like this. The person who wrote it clearly has no idea what a literary agent does, and she doesn’t have a clue as to how publishing works as an industry…and didn’t even take the time to learn. She should stick to flying planes. If and when book bloggers start acting as literary agents, I’ll be the first to post about it.

To take this to another level, this is highly insulting to literary agents in general. And on behalf of all authors who know better, I apologize that something this dumb was published in print.