WIlliam Jones talks about what it means to be “published” and the differences between “self-published” and what that means for book store penetration. And here he unveils the work of the distributors (and regional sales people, when book publishers had actual regional sales people) and how critical they are to your success as an author. He also touches on the rise of the “pay for print” business model within “traditional” publishing houses and why the probably aren’t going away.
Barbarienne’s Den on why ebooks really aren’t that much cheaper to produce. I’ve tried to make this similar point in many places, but I feel it’s fallen on deaf ears. Here is a little backup on the subject. Hint: ink on paper, in quantity, isn’t all that darn expensive. Cost per unit is a measure we use to try and get our customers to order in a quantity that actually makes economic sense for them (but, hey, if you really want to go to press every quarter to print exactly the same thing and re-incur all the setup costs four times instead of once, since I’m now on the press side of things, by all means please do so). Now, just as devil’s advocate, she doesn’t cover fulfillment costs (shipping, storing, distributing, returns, remainders, and rot), but it doesn’t add all that much (when you factor in economies of scale). Really, much of the cost of the individual book (cost per unit) is not in the production. This is why I get sorely pissed when presses get cheap with paper and stock material (sure, when you’re printing 10,000 units, scrapping $.05 off each unit adds up, but the benefits of those “extras” are well worth it, I had to debate buying my latest Ray Bradbury purchase because the production values were so cheap). But anyway, yeah, what they said. (Grokked from Jay Lake)
Pier Anthony talks about some common misconceptions about writing humor. Seeing as one of the things I’m getting psyched about ending the current novel is that I might go back to writing the Post-Rapture romantic comedy novel. (Grokked from Todd Wheeler)
S.C. Butler holds forth on writing what you like. While the often given axiom is “write what you know” (which, just like the sound of one hand clapping, really isn’t about what you might originally think it’s about), I’m hoping that as I progress in this here career and I get to help youngsters, “write what you like” escapes my lips far more often than “write what you know.” There’s been plenty of side conversations I’ve had lately with other writers, some open, some personal, and I’ve always come back to this point. You have to love what you’re doing, because that’s always, always, always going to be your greatest reward. If you think Dan Brown, JK Rowling, Stephanie Meyer, Stephen King or any of them are thinking, “Oh boy, this is going to make the bucks roll in” while they’re writing, you’re fooling yourself. Or, as another person I respect (Joseph Campbell) once said, “Follow you bliss.”
BILL MOYERS: Do you ever have the sense of… being helped by hidden hands?
JOSEPH CAMPBELL: All the time. It is miraculous. I even have a superstition that has grown on me as a result of invisible hands coming all the time – namely, that if you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in your field of bliss, and they open doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.
I once thought I was a SF Writer. Then I tried fantasy and my voice got stronger. Then I tried horror and it got even stronger. And now I mix into dark fantasy and I’m having a lot of fun (even if I might question that my writing has gotten a little too close to my military past which makes me a little squishy) and my voice sings out. It also does the same when I write bitting humor (can you tell). I’ve told all my nieces and nephews that simple phrase, “Follow your bliss.” It’s, IMHO, one of the greatest lessons we can impart. (Get me talking about programming and career choices one day if you don’t believe me on this, also look at the pay rate for short fiction and the average advance for genre novels, if you aren’t doing this because you enjoy it, you might want to rethink your strategy).
A SFWA Journal article by Chuck Rothman on hunting for an agent. He also outlines some reasons why you want an agent and how to find one (just a hint, he goes on about “sending the full manuscript”, however I advise you to follow the submission guidelines for the agency you’re trying to land, playing by the rules is something your agent will appreciate and wants to know you can do). Also with agents, John Scalzi is pimping his. Frankly, looking at Scalzi’s career, one could do worse than having Ethan Ellenberg representation. If I had my manuscript 1) finished and 2) in a submisible condition they would be seeing a package from me. And just in general, I follow a bunch of agents’ blogs (not all are prospects for me) so I can learn what to do and what not to do. I don’t often comment on their blogs, but it’s a good place to learn the industry. Just saying.
And here I’m assuming you’ve all seen the bruhaha surround Peter Watts and the US Border Patrol. Let me just point you to Dave Kletcha’s take on it. What he said.