Tuesday, November 8, 2016

One of the many things that irritates me about the publishing world is that agents invariably tell you that when you prepare a proposal for a nonfiction book, you must include the titles of at least three recently published books that are similar to the one you're proposing. When I first saw this, some years ago now, I assumed it was to reassure publishers that your idea was original. But I soon learned that the opposite was the case: publishers are as insecure as a herd of sheep--or at least agents think they are. They want to be assured that other publishers have found your topic suitable enough to take the risk of publishing it.
So the other day I was pleased to get a rejection from a publisher to whom I'd sent a proposal. (As you probably know, it's extremely difficult to find a publisher who will even consider direct submissions from that lowest of creatures, the writer. Publishers want to be assured that some person calling himself or herself an agent has already approved of the work.)
Anyway this publisher replied quickly and praised the idea, but said he was turning it down because "there's not enough here that's new."
Wow. So I immediately sent him a proposal for a biography I've been working on for some time, but about which I knew that one of the my former agents would tell me, "Nobody has ever heard of this person." That's another rule: you can't write about anything that readers are likely to find unusual or different.
So we'll see what the publisher's reply is to this.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Saw a news report that scientists writing in the Journal Social Science and Medicine report that people who read books LIVE LONGER. People who read up to 3 1/2 hours a week were 17 percent less likely to die over a 12-year period than those who didn't read books. And those who read more than 3 1/2 hours a week were 23 percent less likely to die. So get off the Internet and pick up a book! Especially one that we wrote.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

OK, so I found out that Blogspot has a word limit, and I reached it. But to continue...

You're supposed to be CREATING the material. (We artists like to feel we're creating, even if it's half a cent per word.) So I would strongly doubt I could churn out 3,000 words an hour.

No matter, because if you've read the preceding blog entry, you have probably already realized that the secret of making money in publishing is to provide services to those drudges, writers. I already knew it was more profitable to be an agent than I writer, but this now convinces me that writers truly are on the bottom of the publishing food chain. So there you are. Good luck.
I finally figured out how to make money in publishing, and I'm going to share it. I received an unsolicited email today offering me various publishing services for $15 each. Here's a sampling:

d) I can post an "author spotlight" for your book on a highly popular blog.

e) I can add 30 likes to your positive reviews on Goodreads. All likes come from unique accounts and multiple IPs.

f) I can add your book to 35 - 40 popular listopia lists by voting for them. All votes come from unique accounts and multiple IPs.
g) Do you have a free ebook in PDF format you want to share with the world? I can distribute your free PDF to 15 TOP QUALITY websites. These websites rank high in search engines and are considered to be authority sites for PDF sharing.

h) My BESTSELLER SO FAR: I will rate your book with as many stars you want on Goodreads, post 1 honest review, mark your book as 'read', become your fan and add your book to the listopia list of your choice.

 That's $15 apiece for those "services," OK? So for all 5 would be $75. He offers a discount if you want all of his services.

Now, then. Compare that with an ad I saw on Craigslist. I often check to see what kinds of gigs they're offering writers, since as you may know, I am a writer.
The ad is seeking people to write erotica for a "new publishing company," not named. They will send you an outline of what you're supposed to write--apparently just a chapter or two, since other writers will be working on other parts of the book. I guess they want to publish as quickly as possible, so why not have many people work on the books?
Anyway, here's the kicker: they're offering $.005 cents a word. That's half a cent per word. They say that rate is "as per Amazon that's the market rate now." I didn't know Amazon published market rates for working writers, but maybe I missed it. Now this "new publishing company" says you should be able to write 3,000 words per hour, and if you do the math that's a rate of $15 an hour. I think I'm a pretty fast typist, but I don't think I type that fast, and remember you're supposed to be CREATING

Sunday, June 26, 2016

An award-winning independent film maker has approached Dorothy and me about making a film of IN DARKNESS, DEATH, our YA mystery that won an Edgar award. This would be exciting, to say the least, but experience has told us that interest in making movies is not the same thing as making movies. However, Larry (the film maker) has been sending us links to sites that tell us about the movie business. The latest one was a post by a man who has produced several movies, notably PRETTY WOMAN, the Julia Roberts movie where she plays a prostitute (highly glamorized prostitute, as you may recall.) Anyway this post is rather inspirational, not only for film-makers but for writers, so I thought I would post the link here, in case anybody feels the need for encouragement:

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Well, a lot of hopes and hard work went down the drain when new-paradigm publisher Booktrope announced that it's going out of business. Fortunately, they reverted all rights to their books to the original authors, who are expected to make agreements with the people who contributed to the book and its promotion in some way.
I published two books with Booktrope: BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WITCH FOR and COME SIT BY ME. These were YA novels that I couldn't get a conventional publisher or an agent interested in. Now that I have the rights, I'm going to bring them out myself on Create Space.
The editors and proofreaders I chose from Booktrope's membership seemed to do a fine job. The cover artist who did both books (Yosbe Calme) was absolutely outstanding. Unfortunately, I found that Booktrope's weak link was promotion. It's just very hard to find somebody who has the right contacts in the world of promotion. Those who have such contacts are already working for the major publishers--and as I've discovered, even if you publish with one of those publishers, your book doesn't always get a major promotional effort. Case in point: the Samurai Detective series written by Dorothy and me. Even though the first book got an Edgar nomination, it was never pushed by the publisher, and when the third book actually won the Edgar, we still couldn't get on the publisher's A-list. None of the books were ever reviewed by Publisher's Weekly, and so when IN DARKNESS, DEATH won the YA Edgar, Publisher's Weekly didn't bother to print it on the list of that year's Edgar winners. Once a non-book, always a non-book. If the publisher tells PW that it is pushing a book, that book gets reviewed.
One reason for the publisher's indifference (which turned into outright hostility) to our books was that our advance was so low. This is a sign that your book is just a list-filler, and the publisher hopes maybe there will be enough library sales to make back the advance. Ironically, in the same year that IN DARKNESS, DEATH came out, our publisher paid half a million $$$ to an English author who had written a book heralded as "the Christian Harry Potter." It was a huge flop, despite the fact that the author got on the Today show and major advertising. The reason: well, as the reviewer for the Washington Post Book World pointed out, the author couldn't write, couldn't plot, couldn't create characters. Unfortunately, in the very same review, the reviewer contrasted it with our book, which he found superior in all respects despite not being accompanied by glossy brochures, TV author appearances, etc. Well, the publisher couldn't admit his lack of editorial judgment in paying so much for the flopper and so little for a superior book, so the publisher did everything in his power to keep our book from selling. One more sad publishing story.
As is the item I began this blog with: the end of Booktrope, where authors really took control. RIP

Thursday, March 17, 2016

I was looking at the job site sponsored by Columbia University, and saw a researcher's job. The details revealed that Random House wants a researcher to do work on a forthcoming book about Robert F. Kennedy. The pay? $9 an hour! When you see that book published, recall that the researcher (who might well be the writer of some of the book--uncredited, of course) worked for little more than the minimum wage.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Nice review of BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WITCH FOR. This one by Lisa Fletcher on NetGalley. She also posts on Amazon and GoodReads.

This was a lovely magical adventure which I loved reading, the writing style was fantastic, I loved the main character this was a beautiful read that I enjoyed from beginning to end.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Today's the cover reveal day for the Booktrope version of my YA novel, BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WITCH FOR. Can a novel be scary, romantic, and funny at the same time? Let's hope so.