Posts Tagged ‘filthy lucre

05
Nov
10

Polite self-promotion

First off (and fitting, considering the meat of this post), my second novel, The Spirit Rebellion is now officially launched. Hooray! I have a post up on my blog with some reviews and gory details about how the book came into being (spoiler: it almost didn’t), so check it out if you like that sort of thing! Book 3, The Spirit Eater, launches December 1, so if you’re waiting on the series, you won’t be waiting long. Orbit is generous like that :D. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you can see all my books and read sample chapters here).

So, the Spirit Thief has been officially out for a little over a month now. Truth be told, it’s been a hard 30 days for me. I do realize how ungrateful I sound when say that, and please know the difficulty had nothing to do with the wonderful readers who’ve bought my book or the wonderful people who helped me get it out there. As always, my problems start and end only with me.

The month has been difficult because I’ve been struggling to overcome a fear I didn’t know I had: a fear of self promotion. If you had asked me (and several people did) a few months ago “are you looking forward to promoting your book?” I would have (and did) answered an enthusiastic “of course!”  After all, I wrote the damn thing. Of course I think it is wonderful and amazing and worthy of reading, else I wouldn’t have missed playing all that Warcraft to write it (and rewrite it and query it and rewrite it again). Why wouldn’t I want to shout to the world how awesome I think my book is? After all, I’ve never exactly been a shy, retiring flower.

And yet, for a forward, confident person, I’ve suddenly become tongue tied on the subject of my own work. For example, when The Spirit Thief launched, I went to the bookstore to see my book on the shelf. It wasn’t there, so I asked the stock guy and, after checking the computers, he said it was in the back. He offered to go get me one, but I declined (I didn’t want to take one away from my home store where I’d told people it was going to be) and then… I left. I left without saying anything, and the whole time I’m screaming at myself,  “Rachel, tell them you’re the author, ask to see the manager, see if you can set up a signing, PROMOTE YOUR BOOK.”  But I just couldn’t, and I didn’t know why.

This rocked my world on a pretty fundamental level. I’d just failed at the most basic new author task, and I couldn’t tell you why. But then, after lots of emo-face thinking, I figured it out. In some ways, I’m a very southern girl. I was raised to think that bragging was the height of all rudeness (and, hence, evil). That a truly worthy deed will gain notice on its own. Self promotion is, in a sense, a little like bragging. You’re telling people about your accomplishments. And there lay the problem. If I’d told that book seller “hey, I’m the author, want to get together and do something promotional?”  I don’t think I would have been out of line, but I would have been calling attention to the fact that I’ve written a bo0k and asking for special treatment because of that, which set off all kinds of deeply rooted warning bells.

So I find myself in a dilemma. If I promote my book, I feel like I’m being rude. If I don’t promote my book, I increase my chances of sinking into oblivion and ruining my career. That can not happen, and so it’s time to get over myself. Gotta put on my big girl panties and put myself out there. But, you know, politely.

So here’s my question for you: what kind of book promotions caught your eye? What did you most enjoy? Web ads? Blog posts? Contests? Let me know in the comments (if you don’t mind, that is).

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11
May
10

supporting your writers!

So this post is way late and not at all what I meant to write about, but it keeps coming up, so I thought I’d put it here!

So my first book, The Spirit Thief, comes out in October. So far away! But considering I’ve been a published author for nigh on 2 years now, that’s relatively quite close! Now that this whole publishing gig is worming its way towards reality, people keep asking me how they can support my blinking, blind, newborn career.

Now, I have lovely friends and family and am honored and flattered beyond all telling that they would want to stick their necks and hard earned dollars out for me. But I don’t want them to waste their time or their money, so when they ask me “Rachel, what can I do to support your novel?”, this is how I answer, condensed in useful list form!

How to Support Your Favorite Novelist Without Spending More Than 15 Minutes or the Price of the Book You Were Hopefully Going to Buy Anyway

  1. Wait until 2 weeks before the book’s launch before doing anything – This is the most vital time for support. Any sooner and people might forget, any later and you miss those vital initial numbers that mean so much to publishers. You can of course talk it up earlier, but save anything big, and the actual purchase, until this crucial time.
  2. Preorder the book – Since you were (hopefully!) going to buy the book anyway, this is the best way to do it. Preorders boost an otherwise unknown book up the Amazon or B&N or whatever seller you prefer’s list. Strong preorder numbers lead to more and bigger book orders from retailers, which make your author look really good!
  3. Leave an honest, informative review – Of course, we all love good reviews, but honesty is the most important. A page full of glowing reviews that ultimately say nothing won’t draw readers, but even a 3 star review highlighting the book’s pros and cons can lead sometimes lead to sales. After all, one person’s gripe can be another person’s love. Hopefully, your author has written a book that earns your giddy fandom, but even if you didn’t like it as much as you’d hoped, write about it.
  4. Mention the book on your social media – Twitter shoutouts, facebook links, blog posts, they all help to raise a book’s profile. Even if the only people who follow you are your family and that guy from high school who kind of creeped you out but you don’t want to unfriend because you don’t want to be rude. You don’t have to spam or be particularly verbose, you even copy/paste the review you wrote for the book’s sales page, just say something and get the title out there. Every little bit helps.

As Cory Doctorow says, an SF writer’s biggest problem is obscurity. Anything you do, even if it’s just one post, can be a big help thanks to the ripple effect of the internet, and your author will love you forever.

(Also, when I was typing the above I misspelled Cory Doctorow’s name and Google’s (I use Chrome) spellcheck corrected me. Folks, that is fame right there, when your name is in Google’s spellcheck. )

Anyway, that’s my list. You tell me, did I leave anything out? Mess anything up? Let me know!

31
Jan
10

MacMillan vs. Amazon

So I was going to write about the editorial muck I’m neck deep in, then Nora brought this to my attention and everything else got derailed.

So here’s what happened. Publishing giant Macmillan, parent company of SciFi/Fantasy giant Tor, decided it wanted its ebooks to cost around $15. Amazon, primary retailer for ebooks, didn’t like this at all, and, to show their strong displeasure, have pulled all Macmillan books, print and electronic, from Amazon.com. (Though Macmillan imprints like Tor  seem to be fine).

This is certainly only temporary, but it is a pretty powerful statement from Amazon about who really controls the price of ebooks. However, while they battle it out, the real victims (as it always is in wars) are the civilians, in this case, the authors.  These are people whose books have just vanished from Amazon through no fault of their own, and that sucks. Now, of course there are other retailers, but come on. This is Amazon.com, the online book behemoth. This isn’t small change, especially for scifi/fantasy with our tech savvy audience.

This is also a first shot in the coming greater conflict between retailers and publishers as ebooks move from a fringe format to a real money maker. Who really controls the price? What will that price be? It’s a very interesting conflict to watch for signs of what the future holds for ebooks. Meanwhile, however, it really sucks to be a Macmillan author.

What do you think? Would you buy an ebook for $15? Who’s in the wrong here, Amazon or Macmillan?

ETA: Macmillan’s explanation via Publisher’s Lunch (thanks to Nora for the link, she finds everything!)

UPDATE! Amazon has relented! They will be selling Macmillan books again. Their explanation is a bit backhanded, but that’s to be expected from someone who’s been pushed to do something they don’t want.

19
Dec
09

The unexpected perks of publication

So we all know the obvious perks of getting a contract with a major publisher: a fantastic editor, outside verification of worth, money, your book in print (with a cover and everything!), etc. All of these things are the utmost peak of awesome, but there are other great parts of being with a publisher/having an agent, little perks no one tells you about… For example:

Perk 1: Free Books!

So I happened to mention to my editor at Orbit several months ago that I was excited about reading Soulless. Low and behold, what should appear in my mail box a few days later but a lovely ARC of Soulless! Friends, there is nothing more awesome then getting to read a great book… MONTHS before anyone else.  And that’s just one example. Sometimes books would just appear in my mail, awesome books, FREE awesome books by awesome people like Jeff Somers and Amanda Downum! Seriously bad ass, that’s what free books are.  This is not to be missed!

Perk 2:  Meeting Other Authors!

The first thing that happened when I got my agent (other than me nearly having a heart attack) was getting intr0duced to our own lovely Diana Rowland who, in turn, invited me to come and join her and some other bad ass people on a group blog (which is about to get a large influx of new bad ass people, stay tuned!). This kind of stuff (while not always on the level of awesome as joining the Magic District) seems to happen all the time once your name enters the published pool! My agent has introduced me to authors, so has my editor, my agent’s assistant, my editor’s assistant… it’s like they’re all in on this vast conspiracy to link authors together! Which is great because fantasy authors tend to be pretty awesome and interesting people you want to hang out with. I always thought that meeting other writers was something that happened slowly as you built a name, but it turns out they start you right out of the gate, which is great because your fellow authors are some of your best resources as a rookie. Amazingly awesome.

Perk 3:  Calls from New York!

Maybe I’m a total nerd, but there is nothing that makes my heart go pitter patter like pulling out my phone and seeing a 212 area code, then excusing myself because “I’ve got to take this call from New York.” Maybe it’s pretension, but it’s this stupid awesome feeling of “I’ve made it,” even when the call is just “hey, send us that form” or something equally banal. Bonus points when it’s your editor calling because she had this amazing idea that really is amazing, or because she wants to discuss things like cover art… squeee!

Sure writers don’t get health insurance, paid vacation, flex time, or 401ks, but there are other unique perks to the job that are not to be over looked, including the most important of all: being able to make a living writing stories you love AND having people read them. Can’t beat that with a stick right there.

15
Nov
09

a consumer’s take on why ebook readers still have a long way to go

As an author I’ve been thinking a lot about ebooks – how they’re changing/may change publishing, if we’re going to eventually move to the ebook business model of high royalties instead of advances, (but not piracy, I’m with Cory Doctorow on this one: An SF writer’s biggest problem is obscurity, not piracy) etc. So from the writer mind side I’m wringing my hands, which is kind of stupid, because my reader mind (which is deeply tied to my consumer mind) is pretty made up on the subject: ebooks, specifically ebook readers like the Kindle and the new Nook, are a bad choice if you like owning books and saving money.

Continue reading ‘a consumer’s take on why ebook readers still have a long way to go’

02
Oct
09

Side-by-sidelines: Writing Income

Wow, Nora is either a mind reader or New York is in a bubble in the future, because her (excellent) Sidelines post covers something I was mulling over last night. Namely, is writer income really that unstable?

I’m sure there are plenty of writers who live advance to advance, just as there are plenty of people who live paycheck to paycheck. Both of these are unstable, but everyone’s situation is different. However, if you’re lucky enough to be able to build an emergency fund and save money most months, then I put forward that writing money is actually more stable than a salary.

It took me a while to come around to this way of thinking. When I first decided to quit my day job to do my writing full time I was distraught and worried about leaving what I saw as stable income for the wild and woolly world of advance checks and (maybe, hopefully, if-wishes-were-wings) royalties. I’ve always worked, and while writing is definitely still working, it didn’t FEEL like work when it was all I was doing. Needless to say, my first few weeks were a blur of trying to meet impossible word goals and keep the house spotless. (All I did was learn that moving to writing full time doesn’t necessarily mean you can double your output. I’m sure this isn’t true for all writers, but, for me, more hours does not necessarily equal more words.) I also worried constantly about not bringing in regular money. Sure I had book money, but getting checks and putting them in the bank (especially when you have to save an unknown amount for taxes) is nothing like getting regular monthly deposits. The lack of a monthly cash dump in my bank account made me feel constantly broke, almost enough to send me panicking back to work. Then my husband brought up the following:

He considers my book money to be the more stable of our two incomes. The reason is thus: if you’re making a living off your books, the money comes in in lumps. If you work for a salary, you get paid monthly. Now, say the unthinkable happens and (for whatever reason) both my and my husband’s income streams stopped cold. I would still have a lump payment, and while I’d lose future money, for the moment, nothing would change for me. My husband, however, would see his income vanish instantly with instant ramifications. Of course this disaster would still be disastrous, but because of the lumpy nature of writing income, we’d actually be in a better position than if I’d been also working for a salary.

Everyone’s situation is different, but by and large the hairy nature of writing for money simply strips away the illusion of security in most jobs. Jobs are no better than anything else in the world, every one of them is just a series of unfortunate events away from vanishing.  While writers don’t have any more control over their future than anyone else, lumpy income streams at least allow you to plan your path (i.e., you have a few months of paid warning to decide if it’s time to start begging the dayjob to take you back). Compare that to a surprise layoff and you see what I mean.

I’m not saying the writing life isn’t stressful and a bit like walking a tightrope over a flaming pit at times, but, like any income, with planning and luck it doesn’t have to be volatile. The lumpy nature of book writing income actually lends itself to saving, planning, and stability. Sure, my book could tank, my publisher could go under, and my name could be mud for the rest of my life, but I could also get fired from a job without warning, the company could go bankrupt, or my skill set could be rendered useless by an advance in technology. What I’m saying is there’s no escaping possible disaster no matter where you set up shop, but at least with writing I have my (modest) lump of of a few month’s income from which to plan my next move, and that feels pretty stable, and pretty good.