Fiction River

Dean Wesley Smith and his wife, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, are setting up and editing an anthology project called Fiction River.

You can find out all about it here. So why are they using Kickstarter to get funding? Because they know what it takes to get some seed or start up money. They started up Pulphouse 20 years ago or so and had to close it because the money wasn't there anymore.

Despite great stories and covers and all...they couldn't make a go of it after a while. A real shame.

They're asking for $6,000 and will give you some nice goodies, depending on the amount you send in. As I write this, they're already up to $5,284. Not bad for three days, eh? ;-) I think it's a great idea and REALLY hope they pull it off...and keep it going long term.

It's a win for authors because even if you're a newb you won't necessarily be shut out (it will be subject to whatever the editor of that particular anthology wants to do), and it's a win for readers because you know you'll be getting quality stories that have been professional edited.

I'll be giving something, but I just have to decide how much (considering I'm not exactly pulling in a lot of dough at the moment). We'll see...but it will at least be the minimum of $4.

Have fun, and keep writing!


RIP, Ray Bradbury

I didn't hear about this until this morning, but apparently one of the giants in science fiction (SF) has passed away.

Ray Bradbury died this past Tuesday at the age 91. Originally born in Waukegan, IL, his family moved to Los Angeles in 1934 in the depths of the Depression.

He said that, "Libraries raised me," and went to them three times a week. This was the Depression, remember, so going to college was out of the question.

I didn't read much of his stuff, except for Fahrenheit 451, which I read as a teenager (it was either junior high or high school). I suppose I'll have to make up for it now, once I get a little more money into the bank. :-)

Rest in peace.


My Stuff - A New Series

Yes, I've been writing and writing and writing the first book of a new series, although it's been tough to keep it going. The reason for that is all sorts of personal crap going on in my life, including losing out on a perm position that should have been mine.

No whining here. I've already moved on.

I'm now in a temp-to-perm position that I'm crossing my fingers will become permanent soon. So far, so good.

And now to the series description.

The series is tentatively titled Werewolf on Broadway because a) the main character is a werewolf and b) she has aspirations to gain a leading role on Broadway. (You probably figured that out, but I like to have fun with myself in more ways than one. ;-)) Anyway, it takes place during the Depression, although it starts in this first book in 1929, a few months before the Stock Market tanked - and Variety came up with its famous "Wall St. Lays an Egg" headline. I may move that up to October rather than March 1929, but we'll see.

The idea here is that those creatures in fairy tales aren't just fiction - they're for real - and they came over in droves to the U.S. after Lindbergh flew over the Atlantic in 1927. The main character, Karolina's, werewolf clan has been in the States for quite some time, but they feel the brunt of the violence some Normals have exacted against the Abnormals. (Normals are akin to Muggles; that is, they're normal, every day people who aren't fantastical or magical by any stretch of the imagination.) Karolina escapes from her parents' house to live in New York...striving to get onto the Broadway boards, where she'll then hide in plain site by simply using a stage name.

She has no idea if it's going to work, but she's going to give it a try. There's a murder that might not be a murder, an addle-brained old dude who is more than he seems, and some New York sports figures might be involved with the magical, fantastical goings on.

I have no idea how many books will be in this series - I just have to get this first one finished and out there, and that's going to take a small while (since I'm just now figuring out where this is going to go).

Never thought I'd write by the seat of my pants, but that's what I'm doing. And I'm okay with it. :-)


Hopefully You Haven't Joined This Party

Over on Konrath's blog, he has done a series of posts on his interpretation of the Department of Justice lawsuit against five of the so-called Big 6 publishers and Apple. The DOJ says these publishers and Apple colluded to keep prices at a certain level.

In other words, they all got together and said something like, "We're getting hosed on paper books right now. We have to do something to prop that up!" And isn't it interesting how contracts from different publishers all look alike, with the same onerous and stupid clauses - onerous and stupid to writers, that is.

Which is where Konrath's post today goes. He deconstructs clauses from an all-too-typical contract. And, boy, are those clauses inane, stupid, onerous...you get the idea.

Go and check out his post and see if you don't agree with him that NOT being with a big publisher is actually a good thing, considering the highway robbery they've gotten away with (and still do) over the years.


Publisher Terminates Because Author Dares to Accuse Pub of Royalty Underpayment

Apparently, even the publishers we know about in the U.S. aren't the only ones who are trying to screw their authors. (Not ALL publishers, for sure, just...a lot of them.)

This one concerns an author who did the responsible thing (like Kris Rusch said in one of her posts) and checked her royalty statements...and figured out she had been shortchanged. Rather than try to rectify the situation, the publisher (Era Publications) came back at the author (we're not talking J. K. Rowling here) and terminated her contracts.

So What?

You might be saying, "So what?" right about now, because plenty of authors have had their contracts terminated. But here's the part that chilled me, taken directly from the author's special Facebook page:

Era Publications has no right to terminate my publishing agreements but if I want to prove the unlawful termination of my publishing agreements, I have to go to court and defend Era’s claim of damages.

Why is Era Publications suing me for damages? According to its Statement of Claim, the termination of my publishing agreements means that: “…[Era] has lost the opportunity to generate further profits…”

So Era Publications terminates my publishing agreements and sues me for damages because Era “has lost the opportunity to generate further profits...”
 Again - So What?

Maybe you're still shrugging your shoulders. "How much could they possibly sue an author for?" After all, most authors in the traditional system are not hugely monied like Stephen King or the aforementioned J. K. Rowling.

How about $506,000? However, if the author (Robyn Opie) coughs up $200,000 within 60 days, the suit goes away.

Do I have your attention now?

Everybody Has Tons of Money in the Bank, Right?

Of course, everyone I know has a stray $200,000 in a bank, or several banks. (I know I do. ::eyeroll::) Anyway, just read where Era came up with the $506,000 figure. Pulping books? Costs for publishing other books instead of Ms. Opie's?


Pulping books? Isn't that something the PUBLISHERS came up with decades ago? Isn't that part of the cost of the publishing business? (Silly as it is.)

Costs for publishing books other than the author's? Wait...wasn't Era the one who terminated the contracts? Whose fault is it that the author's books are no longer being printed by the publisher?

Disgusting. Era should be ashamed of themselves, and should drop the suit.

I hope Ms. Opie comes out of this okay, without having to pay one red cent.


How to Use Keywords and Tags on Amazon

I'm linking to a post that those of you who are indies/self pubbers - like me - might consider a simple way to try to get more people to find your books on Amazon.

The author of the post self pubs historical fiction, so although the categories, keywords, and tags she picks might not be the same as what you write, you'll get the gist of it. And she gives out more help in the comments.


Agent Rachelle Gardner's Take on Publishing


Okay, so I don't talk about agents anymore, because I find them not necessary in today's publishing climate.

However, there are some agents out there who are trying to think things through, not just turning a blind eye to the ongoing transition to digital.

It looks as if Rachelle Gardner is one. She compares what's happening with the big publishers to what Kodak is going through right now (bankruptcy).

As Ms. Gardner notes, Kodak clung to the film business, though it was starting to come out with digital products, with those digital products supporting its film business. Because Kodak thought most of its customers still wanted the physical product (film).

Ah, oops.

This is akin to the big publishers (I really dislike using the term "Big 6" because there are more than 6 big publishing firms :-)) clinging to their print books, though they're coming out with digital products. And just like Kodak, the digital products are supporting the other products.

That was the main thought that struck me as I read the post. An interesting read. You might not agree with most of what she says, but that main thought has stayed with me, and made me want to write this post. Not because I think the biggies are on the ropes like Kodak is or that they're even headed that way.

But I think it's instructional, in that when a company decides on something and doesn't look to make changes, they get into trouble. Think of Madonna. The Material Girl went through a number of transformations to keep her career going far longer than some people thought was possible (and I'm not just talking about her hair color, either). As tastes in music changed, as she noticed certain trends, she pounced on those changes, on those trends, and has managed to stay relevant (read: $$$$) for a long time.

There will be some casualties among the publishers, for sure. The big publishers, though, will be with us for a while, me thinks.


Jonathan Franzen and His Ill-Gotten Ebook Royalties

Oh, oops, excuse me, maybe Mr. Franzen doesn't realize his paper books are now ebooks.

And that he's gotten royalties on them.

And that the world is gonna end this year - ALL BECAUSE OF THOSE DAMNED EBOOKS!

That's right. It's not the Mayans or some fringe cult saying it's the end of civilization.

It's Jonathan Franzen, provacateur (what, not selling enough of your books, paper or electronic?), snob, and know-it-all, who declares ebooks will be the end of us all. Or society. Or something.

Chew on This One

The Telegraph piece starts off with Mr. Franzen saying:
The technology I like is the American paperback edition of Freedom. I can spill water on it and it would still work! So it's pretty good technology. And what’s more, it will work great 10 years from now. So no wonder the capitalists hate it. It’s a bad business model.
Ever hear of a baggie? One of those things you usually store food in? I use that when I want to read when I'm taking a bath. Had a couple of drips on it. And it keeps on ticking. (Just like the Energizer bunny.)

Capitalists hate ebooks? Since when? Where does he get his info from? Is that why there's been an ebook explosion, because capitalists hate them? Hah! I would think the number one thing Capitalists want is Capital (duh), and they're doing so, despite what this snob says.

Can This Franzen Guy Get a Grip?

I mean, really. He comes up with tripe like this:
The Great Gatsby was last updated in 1924. You don’t need it to be refreshed, do you?
That was again taken from The Telegraph's write up here.

What the hell does that mean? So the words are reformatted for different devices. So? The original words are still there, the ones Fitzgerald wrote over 80 years ago (egad). How does putting those exact, same words in a different medium (what he's talking about being "refreshed," I guess) make it less worthy or damaging to civilization.

And this is coming from someone who couldn't get into The Great Gatsby. Maybe at some point, I'll get it in ebook form, and I'll like it (because I can make the fonts bigger, something that can't be done with a paper book).

And this is also coming from someone who loves paper books. But what I don't like about paper books is that (a) They take up a lot of space and (b) They're a pain in the ass to lug around. I have The Way of Kings by Sanderson in hardback. It's a friggin' brick. You think I'm going to cart that mother around? Noooo way!

In Summary...

Okay, so Mr. Franzen will be famous for about a week or so, until something else comes up. (I hadn't heard of him before someone pointed out what this guy said on Konrath's blog, in the comments section.) Despite the rant above, I wish him well in selling his books, both print and electronic. And that's what he should be concentrating on, not on trying to be the latest provacateur or loudmouth or whatever you want to call him.

Because at the end of the day (thank you Antrel Rolle), this is just another writer's thoughts on the whole paper versus ebook thing.

Enjoy your day! :-)


Reviews Don't Necessarily Mean Increased Sales

My eyeballs normally glaze over when an organization puts out a report that has reams (or what seems like reams) of data.

But the report Dean Wesley Smith posted about on his site actually sounded interesting to me. So while I mostly skimmed the report, the research data on page 8 was especially interesting. Nielsen's UK data (wonder if it's similar in the States?) analyzed a bunch of different things and whether they had any correlation to book sales. They considered such things as no short description, no long description, no reviews, and no blog, and further broke that down into general fiction, children's fiction, trade non fiction, and specialist non fiction.

This part of their analysis blew me away, and I'll quote: "Review appears to be the least significant indicator of increased sales within Fiction, Specialist Non-Fiction and Children's." I don't know about you, but I've always thought reviews mattered a lot to how much a novel did or didn't sell.

In the digital world, maybe it really doesn't matter how many reviews your novel has (or if it doesn't have any). Doesn't seem right to me - I know I rely on reviews for buying purposes, but I've occasionally bought books that didn't have any reviews. The jury is still out on whether that was a wise move by me, but I digress.

The data is in the report, as I said, on page 8 - and in a nice graph, to boot. (For those of you who are more visually inclined. :-) But it helped me too. ;-)) The analysis really does point to that.

A slight caution for me is that this is only one report. Let's see some other organization come out with a report analyzing the same sort of data; will they come up with the same conclusions?

Who knows.

The report is here.

Still, it's good to see someone digging into this. Kind of makes you think.