Category Archives: Self-Publishing

On The Importance of Being Found

Or, “Why Your Contact Information Matters.”

This week, I have a professional opportunity to put in front of a group of writers. Finding contact information turned out to be much harder than it should have been.

I'm looking... I'm looking...
I’m looking… I’m looking…

10% had a professional email address I could easily find. And by “easily,” I mean it was on their writing-related website page marked CONTACT or ABOUT.

10% had a professional email address I found after clicking through to a Blogger Profile link at the bottom of the website’s sidebar.

10% had a professional email address listed at the bottom of the profile information included on a third-party site I happened to find through Google.

30% offered a contact form in place of a professional email address. I’m sure that seems like the most professional choice, but when I reach out to writers for such opportunities, I want and need a record of the communication. Since I don’t get to have that record, the first contact will include little actual information, ensuring the entire process will take longer due to the additional layer of back-and-forth.

30% had no contact information available that I could find. It simply… wasn’t there. No “Contact” page. An “About” page that listed all sorts of social media places, and no other way to connect. My decision is then between making a public contact for a matter I or the writer might not want to be public, or passing the writer over completely.

10% offered no visible means of contact. Website links from third-party sites went nowhere. Twitter handles listed on websites were non-existent. The Contact/About page listed a place to make comments, but not to make direct contact.

So let’s say (as in, “Let’s pretend”) I have fifteen slots in an anthology and a list of twenty writers I could include. About 30% would have first dibs simply because they are easy to contact and can make the swiftest informed responses. Another 30% would be fairly easy to contact as well, and would likely secure their spots.

Now I have only three spots left in my anthology, and eight of the authors on my list don’t even know I’d like to include them. How much time do I invest in tracking them down? How much do I prioritize their participation over my time spent finding them? How much easier would it be to find other talented writers who do make their contact information available?

(To answer the last question: It’s very easy. Talent is not so rare as folks on high would have you believe. 🙂  )

And in case you’re still wondering if that contact information is really important…

I have confirmed participation of one writer, yet still have no professional contact information for others. And that one confirming writer is in the 10% who listed a professional email contact.

Luck is what happens when opportunity meets preparation, my darlings. Seneca knew what he was talking about.

#SFWApro

Revisiting the Wherefore

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About three years ago, my first novel came out.

No, wait.  That’s not right.  Let’s try…

About three years ago, I released my first novel.

Each sentence is nine words long.  The end result — readers can buy my story — is the same.  But the implied process was very different.

Back then, I told a writerly friend I expected it’d take five or so years for the trade-versus-indie bluster to fade.  If one knows the industry solely from popular online discussions, that estimate sounds wildly optimistic.  If one talks to writers who’ve taken the time to understand their evolving options, it’s not so far off.  As mentioned here, the “versus” is a sickly beast many have already left behind.

With that in mind, and in light of the reprised conversation on Fantasy Faction, I thought I’d revisit a post from 2012 explaining why I chose to return to SF writing as an indie author rather than resume riding the query-go-round, and see how well my reasoning held up.

Continue reading Revisiting the Wherefore

In Which I Expound On Reviews and Awareness

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Do reviews matter?

The answer depends on who you ask, how you define “reviews,” and what you mean by “matter.”

Ask a trade-published writer, and you’ll likely learn a review is first and foremost something written by a pro or semi-pro reviewer that will appear in an industry-supported or industry-centric publication.  That sort of review is expected to (fingers crossed!) boost enough interest and offer enough praise to filter down to the general readership in time to impact sales in the first week (or month, on the outside) after publication.

Ask a self-published writer, and you’ll likely learn a review is first and foremost something written by a reader, directed at other readers, that will appear on the online retailer’s sales page for the book or (second best) on a site like Goodreads.  That sort of review is expected to (fingers crossed!) boost enough interest and offer enough legitimacy to immediately impact the reader’s purchasing decision in the first week, the first month, the first year, and far beyond.

But no matter who you ask, the truthful answers all share one critical element:

Fingers crossed!

Like most other authors, I cross my fingers a great deal (when not using them to, y’know, write).  That’s why I put Sand of Bone in the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off hopper.

Continue reading In Which I Expound On Reviews and Awareness

The Short Version, Because That’s All It Needs

From The Guardian comes this observant article on the success women are finding in self-publishing.

Reactions can be summed up thusly:

“Let me argue the methodology!  Let me discredit a single line in the article!” — Folks who are certain there wouldn’t be any gender disparity if women would just shut up about it already.

“It’s just because of romance!” — Folks who either failed to read the entire article, don’t want the wrong type of folks playing in their sandbox, or both.

“Yeah, but those women are just lucky.”  Folks who’d rather ignore and/or degrade the achievement of successful women than accept that their success happened outside the traditional scope.

“I don’t need to read this because it’s all bullshit anyway.”  Folks who saw “women” and/or “self-publishing” in the article’s title, and assumed the topic wasn’t worth their time.

“Yep.” — Women who are self-publishing.

#SFWApro

Of Overused Catchphrases, Heartening Opportunities, and the Unintentional Slush Reduction Program

Sudden Moxie Press LogoVia a Twitter link, I came upon Infodump, Mary Sue, and Other Words That Authors Are Sick of Hearing. I’m a little bit in love with it, truly. Don’t even attempt the comments unless you want to watch a rehash of the years-long debate of what Mary Sue actually means, and what every single commenter means when they use it. Trust me: if you weren’t sick of hearing Mary Sue before reading the comments, you will be after. It’s rather interesting, though, that of all the terms in the article, it’s the Mary Sue that got most folks all a-chatter.

A brief Twitter conversation came up between some writers, including the comment that new writers are told not to use the omniscient viewpoint because editors don’t want to see it. I do wonder how many lovely books have been lost over the years because of that.

If you haven’t already, head over to Maggie’s journal for The Uncomfortable Trail-Blazer. (There you’ll also find a link to the interview she did with Publishers Weekly, which is, y’know, pretty darn cool.) Pay close attention to the section on the publishing reality of 100 good books for only 45 publishing slots: “At the end of the day, there were 1000 books worth publishing, and 45 got through the door. And there was nothing the remaining 955 authors could have done to better their chances. “Write a better book” is false advice, because many better books still failed. “Write a more marketable book” is better advice, but it requires you to understand the market, be willing to write to it, and get it to someone before the trends change… and the book still might fail”

That cannot be said enough, and writers deserve to know it, understand it, and plan their careers accordingly.

Lastly, Publishers Weekly presented The Rise of the Seven-Figure Advance. Ostensibly, the article is about a seeming increase in mega-advances being given out, particularly to writers who have no BookScan records. But it’s really quite a peek into how the industry is evolving, and it’s the first time I’ve seen mention of certain predictions come to pass. As reasons for high advances, anonymous insiders say the “pool of talent is shrinking” because there are now fewer submissions, and publishers are having to prove themselves because of the success being found in self-publishing.

Really, truly, go read the whole thing because that little article just quietly confirmed publishers and agents are now caught up with the backlog of slush enough to realize the number of manuscripts that aren’t there anymore.

#SFWAPro

Obviously, No.

(ye gads, y’all knew this was satire, right??)

Some professional writing organizations have opted to admit self-publishing writers at an alarming pace, insisting three or four or five years is plenty long enough to spend debating the issue.  It would be best to invest another two or three years at least, but the push just won’t stop.  Under such pressure to act in haste, it’s important to understand the reasons self-publishers should be kept out.

First, it’s always been understood that who pays the author is of upmost importance.  Purchase decisions made by thousands of readers—even tens of thousands of readers—should not be deemed equal to the decision of a single third party that has been properly vetted and approved.  The approval of one or a few readers with proper job titles is what marks the professional.

And the money.  Unless the money comes from readers instead.  Then it shouldn’t count.  Obviously.

Continue reading Obviously, No.

Barnes and Nobles Wants To Be Author Solutions When It Grows Up

If you haven’t yet seen it, do check out the FAQ for the Barnes and Noble/Nook Press satirical attempt to offer self-publishing “services.”   David Gaughran has more.

My favorite part is the $399 charge to be told which editing package you should purchase.

My second favorite part is knowing your Barnes and Noble/Nook Press print book will not, under any circumstances, be sold through any Barnes and Noble store — physical or online.

Barnes and Noble has run out of feet of its own to shoot, and is apparently taking volunteers who will pay to be shot.

#SFWApro