Saturday, April 21, 2012

The state of our industry

This past week, I’ve had several conversations about the state of our industry. There seems to be a mix of opinions about some of the latest happenings in regards to book sales, censorship, rapid growth, and indie authors publishing their own work.

After various phone conversations this week and too many IMs to count, I reevaluated plans for the future. I’m remaining loyal to the publishers who’ve been loyal to me. Loyalty, as many of you would probably agree, works both ways. Plus, I want to continue sending manuscripts to publishers who seem to like my work, show their appreciation by paying their royalties when they are due, and don’t feel the need to constantly compare my work to the work of others. I’m me. I’m not going to change what I do overnight because it’s probably not a good idea after all these years.

With the aforementioned, I have been self-publishing some titles on my own and Destiny Blaine Productions will continue to release a few books at a turtle’s pace. Why? Well, some of my books do not meet publisher guidelines and I’m not about to spend a lot of time changing previously published work. It isn’t fair to my publishers because they’d still receive a previously published title. If a backlist title won’t be viewed as controversial or easily ‘fits’ somewhere, I’ll probably submit the manuscript to one of the listed current publishers, unless it’s been on the market for a long time.

At this time, Destiny Blaine Productions is only set up to handle my backlist titles, but we do have a couple of new titles coming soon. That said, do I plan to jump ship and be completely independent? Absolutely not.

Fact is, I’m concerned about our industry and last week, the conversations about the state of the book business and the reason for censorship, lower sales, and other industry changes seem to fall upon the heads of the indie authors so yes, I felt the need to explain my thoughts on why I published and will continue to publish some of my own work.

Anyway, at the risk of sounding off like a rambling woman this morning (sidebar—I’m in a hurry but really want to put this topic out on the table), I’ll close now and ask you for your opinions. Give it to us straight and I’ll come back in a few days and respond to all, if we have any comments.

Let us know the following:

How do you view the state of the writing industry?

What role, if any, did publishers play?

What role, if any, did independent, self-published authors play?

What role, if any, did Amazon or any third party bookseller play?

If you think the book industry is in trouble, what can be done to fix it?

If you think the book industry is fine, how do we keep it the way it is?

Any other comments?

Hope to hear from you!

Destiny

28 comments:

Julie Eberhart Painter said...

The writing industry is still stratified. New York kept its nose in the air, recycled dead authors and raised prices. Amazon cut them off at the knees. They, or authors' agents, fought back by guaranteeing that the authors would not lose money on ebooks.

The book industry is in flux, not in trouble. It will straighten itself out. The public will set the pace. Amazon's repricing readers has helped get the reading public, especially the elderly, reading electronically. No more heavy large print books to lug around or fall on their noses in bed!

Kari Thomas said...

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Great topic, and one thats been on my mind --as well as many authors. It's become scary with alot of the major (thought steady) publishing houses suddenly changing directions and racing to compete with the smaller publishers now. Places like Dorchester, who went out with an embarrassing bang, can't even compete. BUT. When one House goes down, another pops up. There are so many publishing houses out there now (with MORE appearing) that it's getting to the point of total chaos. I think they're losing alot of their integrity. With so many Houses, it's far easier for a writer to be published. Not an author. A writer. The competition is so big that Houses are accepting ANYthing submitted now days.

I think the Houses should step back, take a breath, and start being what the Industry once was: A publishing world that produced quality ---not quantity.

Just my 0.02!

hugs, Kari Thomas, www.authorkari.com

Faith said...

It's a mess. I have an agent and it's just as difficult to make a name for myself now as it was 20 years ago.

Anonymous said...

Author Keta Diablo sent in a thought provoking comment with permission to post. She wasn’t able to post directly to the blog. Due to character limitations, this post was split in two parts. :)
If anyone else needs help with a post, feel free to send your comment to destinyblaine@yahoo.com with PERMISSION TO POST AT YOUR BLOG included in the email. Thanks...and a huge thank you to all of you for posting today!
Be back soon! DB

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Hi Destiny and friends,

Well, as always I'm going to be candid. And it's not pretty for publishers. I went Indie last November after thinking it over for a year. I am tired of publishers, big and small, burying their heads in the sand when readers and the industry demanded major changes take place. Three years ago, we heard over and over from publishers (again big and small) "ebooks are a faze". We now know they are not and NEVER will be again, thank God. Progress comes very hard for those who wish to keep the status quo AND their jobs.



I grew weary of publishing houses not honoring their end of the contracts, i.e., promising authors the earth, moon and the sky when it comes to marketing, promoting and other goodies, and then completely backing off those promises. They were smart enough to leave the contract verbiage vague so their promises weren't enforceable. I was tired of publishing houses taking anywhere from 50-60 %of MY royalties when they didn't write the book. If they want to take that much, they should write their own books. I was tired of 3rd party sites decreeing that anyone who puts a book on their site must pay them 40 percent right off the top. The publisher got paid next and then the lowly author. That means if you sell a book for $2.00, the 3rd party site got 80 cents, and of the remainder, the publisher then took their 60 percent -- well, you do the math. You would make the least and get paid possibly 3-4 months down the road. What is wrong with this picture? You wrote the book, not the 3rd party site or the publishing house. Shouldn't you get paid the most and first?


For years a major conglomerate has controlled what we read, that is, they have decided our media for us. They are out of touch with readers and have been for years -- thus the evolution of INDIES who can write outside the box -- readers are loving it. If they didn't, there wouldn't be Amanda Hockings, EL James, John Locke and a host of others. The simple truth? Publishers have no idea what readers want and they didn't expend any effort to find out.


This week, Harlequin was sued in Federal Court for plagiarism, six of the major publishing houses were threatened by the DOJ for "price fixing". Many are now settling. They wanted to continue on with the Agency Model price and gouge authors and readers more. As several articles on the net stated, "publishers are raking in the dough while authors live below the poverty line.

Now, granted the INDIE sector is in infancy. Anyone can publish and those "anyones" often do. Their covers are sometimes amateur, their editing poor and readers are complaining. It is our responsibility if we want the industry to survive to offer them quality books. Yes, the industry is in a major flux, and will be until things even out. Thousands of authors have left the publishing houses, including the big authors to go ROGUE. I salute them. It's scary and like I said young. But something had to be done about the publishing industry as it stood -- Goliath against the lamb.

Anonymous said...

Part 2/2 Keta’s Response:

I would rather putz along or chart my own course even if I make little money rather than acquiesce to archaic standards, rules and ripoffs made decades ago. Not ALL publishers are bad, but the majority who clung to the "old days" rather than progress brought this on, and now they're crying foul.

What is that old saying? You can only be a rug if you lie down. I'm not lying down anymore or bending over to grab my ankles when I spent hours, months writing the damn book. Authors must learn to stand up for themselves, because the truth is, the publishing houses never have and never will.

I write because I love the written word. Let me ask you this -- how many would stop writing if they made zero money?

And finally, I'm with Braveheart and end this lengthy diatribe with one word: F-R-E-E-D-O-M. It means the world to me in every aspect of my life -- and should to you too, including publishing.

Happy writing and much success to all writers whatever path you choose. Keta


You can find Keta Diablo on the web at www.ketadiablo.com

Sarah J. McNeal said...

How do you view the state of the writing industry?
I feel more and more that digital books are becoming the prominent sellers in the market. Everyone is into technology, e-readers and I-pads have taken off. I no longer yearn to be a traditional author with my work in hard cover.
What role, if any, did publishers play?
Traditional publishers won’t take risks with unknown authors or books that are “different” the way digital publishers do. I have the freedom to write what I want to and not what’s currently popular. Of course, that makes the competition huge. Now that I’ve found a publisher that fits my work, pays attention to what I need and pays me the royalties I’m due on time, I would be crazy to cast out to a new publisher. As you mentioned in your post, loyalty is a two-way street.

What role, if any, did independent, self-published authors play?
It’s amazing to me the number of authors who have tried out indie publishing. They’ve certainly pioneered that option and seem to be doing well. They have also drawn respect to that choice of publishing. I remember when self-publishing was frowned upon by the industry, and now even RWA has come around to the idea in a positive way...well, sort of.
What role, if any, did Amazon or any third party bookseller play?
Huge. They have caused a quiet riot in the publishing industry but they are a tremendous boon to the distribution of e-books, including those self published.
If you think the book industry is in trouble, what can be done to fix it?
I don’t think the book industry is in trouble. I think it’s just shaking out what works and what doesn’t. Bricks and mortar bookstores are in trouble because customers can get what they want from the internet. Now that gas is sky high, that’s a clear advantage to online bookstores. The industry is thriving but it is definitely changing...in a good way.

If you think the book industry is fine, how do we keep it the way it is?
Shoot, just keep doing what we’re doing and keep an independent way of thinking.

Any other comments?
I have always liked the idea of digital books for all kinds of reasons, environmental, availability and the ability to experiment. I feel very positive about the direction of the market.

Ginger Simpson said...

I'm a happy camper since ebook readers have revolutionized our industry. When I first signed on as an Internet-published author, I recall how mainstream looked down their noses at us. Even friends and relatives said, "Oh, you're that KIND of author."

The Romantic Times Magazine made sure to note reviews done on "ebooks" like they were akin to picking up garbage. I was honored to earn a four at a time when twos were routinely given to ebooks I knew deserved much better. I never expected to be part of this new reading age.

I've been with several, and I think some small publishers start with good intentions but lack the business sense and know how to make their houses a success. I've been with three that failed and it isn't pleasant. As Keta pointed out, they promise the moon, but as the list of contracted authors grows, the feeling of camaraderie is lost, and response time to requests and answers to questions take a backseat to things the authors know nothing about. If you don't know what's going on behind the scenes, you feel ignored. Where we once felt like an integral part of a team, we now feel left out. Once communication is lost, it's over. Why pay for that type of service?

So, I'm all for indie publishing, but I also think there are newbies who have no clue about writing rules who are giving the industry a bad name. Most of us have been through the editing trials and tribulations and learned from the experience. Others don't know POV from their butt, lack the ability to differentiate between telling and showing, and think they can proof their own work. These are the ones that reader's comment on and associate with all of us who choose a different route.

So far, I've only self-pubbed one, but I'm with a non-traditiional publisher who has cut much of the middle-man expense, thus allowing me bigger royalties. For the first time ever, I received a royalty statement indicating I sold books in the thousands. Make that one book!!!

How long will the ride last? Will publishing take another leap in a different direction. I don't know. All I can say is I'm on this train for as long as it has track to run on, and I'm enjoying the ride.

Regan Taylor said...

How do you view the state of the writing industry?

More than ever it a state of flux perhaps more so than any other time in history of the written word. I feel that comes from a combination of areas beyond that of easily available books and other written material. More people these days are able to read. Despite what is often deemed as poor educational offerings people read—even if it is only a 140 character tweet, it’s being read. Books come in myriad lengths and formats from paperback to hardback to a variety of electronic offerings. Audio is becoming increasingly popular. Mundania recently acquired the ability to move all of its imprints to audio—a boon for not only readers who have vision impairments but for those with learning disabilities and other barriers to reading a written book. I’ve observed tremendous changes in reading habits on my daily commute to San Francisco. When I returned to working in the city I’d see maybe 2 people a week reading a book on their phones. I don’t recall seeing an actual reader and I did my reading on my Acer Aspire netbook. Now, three years later almost every row (4 seats across) I see at least one person with an ereader.

Our local libraries, through Overdrive, have access to thousands of ebooks. What is telling of the industry there is that virtually any book you look to check out as a waiting list. Be it romance, mystery, thriller or even the non-fiction selections – there is a wait to check out the book. There have been times lately when the wait for the ebook was several weeks but the print book is readily available.
Every time you think a plateau has been reached there is something new. I don’t see the changes slowing down but that more and more options will show themselves.

What role, if any, did publishers play?

Honestly? Sometimes I believe only what they had to to meet the bottom line. And that’s okay. The publisher is a business – or should be. This is probably going to tick some people off -- I’ve seen enough publishing “houses” open their doors because the owner wanted to be published, didn’t want to pay his or her dues, didn’t think they needed to be edited and that they’d written a solid book as is. Today we seem to see them mainly self-publishing and not trying to open their doors as a publishing house. Not all – when I say I’ve seen enough, one was too many. They didn’t know what it took to run a business, thought it was going to be a piece of cake because they were going to do it electronically and found out it is not an easy venture. Those that make it are businesses. Plain and simple they are a business. Feelings don’t come into it, making money does and to do that they have to have successful authors writing really good books. Ten years ago there were a handful of e-pubs – Awe-struck (an imprint of Mundania), eXtasy, Loose ID, Liquid Silver, Amber Quill, Whiskey Creek, Wings and New Concepts come to mind as those who have made the decade mark. I remember when New Concepts started to produce covers for the first time. It was a huge shift. The authors were thrilled, readers enjoyed looking at them online but I wondered why since the books were electronic and you weren’t going to close it every time you finished reading to look at the cover. At least I wasn’t.

Regan Taylor said...

Part 2 of my responses....I guess I've written a book here.

Bit by bit the other publishers started to include covers and opened up the market for some very talented cover artists. New York pooh-poohed the small presses. And then one day someone noticed that more readers were looking for ebooks. They began to look at that option as a way to take a piece of that pie – the bottom line, I’m not sure they wanted to but they wanted to make money. As someone recently said, publishers want to either sell a lot of print books from a discrete number of authors or a lot of ebooks from various authors. Ebooks are purportedly cheaper to produce (I’ve heard from publishers maybe not so) and given the demise of bookstores, easier to obtain. Some publishers release 2-3 books a day – up to 21 books a week. Going with the premise that readers are going to buy X number of books a week, the publisher is going to make money and the 21 authors are going to have to divide up that pie. Not fair to the authors, but again, it is a business and the publishers are looking at their bottom line – making money.

Did they want to go to electronic? Or vice versa, did the small presses who were exclusively electronic want to go to print? They had a business model. If they were still in business after a year or so that model had to be working. The only reason for change would be to make more money and keep up with the competition.
What role, if any, did independent, self-published authors play?
They have certainly made more written material available and probably in a shorter time period. I feel that many of them, at least at this point, have also degraded the quality of the books available while increasing the quantity. I believe there are two kinds of self-published authors. Those, who like Destiny, have paid their dues, learned their craft and honed their skills. They know what a good edit is, know how to weave a good story and what tasteful yet enticing cover art is. This group is comprised of professionals – who again – see publishing as a business. Not that we aren’t passionate about our craft. Those that succeed seem to be those that view it as a business. A number of the self-published authors in this category of mine are, like Destiny and Savannah Chase, were already vetted by a publisher. Their books were edited and now, for whatever reason their rights reverted and now the books are available again.
And then there are the people who want to say they are an author. They want to be published but don’t want to pay their dues. They don’t care that they head hop, that their grammar is atrocious and don’t really tell that good of a story. Or, if they do, it’s lost in poor writing.

What role, if any, did Amazon or any third party bookseller play?

They helped put many of the brick and mortar stores out of business. They bring the written word to far more people.

If you think the book industry is in trouble, what can be done to fix it?

If by the book industry you mean print books – the industry yes. If you mean availability, no. There will, hopefully, always be libraries. I don’t think it’s a matter of fixing as much as changing with the times.

Destiny Blaine said...

Thank you for your comments. I really appreciate all of you. :) I have a few responses ready to post but will wait until I have all replies prepared and post tomorrow. If anyone happens to stop by after midnight EST, we have the comments on moderation but I'll be around sometime before 10 AM EST on Sunday. Thank you for visiting my blog!

Danita said...

I can't tell you how any times I have had the urge to read a certain type of story and searched until I found it.
That's one of the reasons people read, and it's one of the reasons I started writing.

I believe stories are everlasting. As long as there are great stories people who love stories will be there for them. Will it still be a print book or will it be an e-book that wins out? Only time will tell, but I have a feeling book publishers will do what's necessary to stay in the game and keep those stories coming.

Pam said...

I think the industry is continuing to go through a lot of changes. Similar to the mess the publishing houses with through in 99/2000--too many stores and publishing houses are folding. It was a mess back then. Now, with everything that is going on.... they are needing to make adjustments to the world of technology. I first started reading ebooks in '96 yup way back then and they (the forces of they)...they said ebooks would never make it. However, working with authors/publishers-- I have come across different attitudes and unfortunately even authors who have ebooks strive to get their books in "print"
And I have done ebook--standard--POD and self-pubbed for my own books that I have written. I understand the publishers reluctance to put an unknown author in print, it costs a lot of money to back up an author and then if the book doesn't sell, now what? They are holding the bag and it's empty. But, now we have authors who are going in to print just because their name is recognizable even though the book isn't an enjoyable read. I think ebooks are a great way to get the industry moving and if publishing houses would open their eyes a bit more to that attitude it would be a great boost to the industry and to those authors who really should be published regardless of whether it is an ebook or print.

Keta Diablo said...

“To be honest, publishing is a quaint little industry based on romance and low profit margins. But now we’re in Amazon’s sights, and they’re going to kill us.”

A must-read article about this very subject – CONFESSIONS FROM A PUBLISHER. Very insightful about what IS happening out there in the publishing world.

HERE: http://bit.ly/xsnulk
Keta Diablo

Destiny Blaine said...

Okay here goes with the replies. ;) I apologize for the delay from this end. Hope you're having a great Sunday!!

Hi Julie--
You made some interesting points. The ‘recycled dead authors’ comment grabbed my attention. I would think in some cases the heirs left behind would see more profits if they kept the electronic rights, assuming the author’s heirs are able to renegotiate the former author’s contracts. I’m not a lawyer, of course, but I would think in many cases, this would be a profitable possibility. If you stop and think about the profit potential in ebooks, a lot of money is still on the table, especially if the author’s books were only available in print formats in the past. Please note: I’m not speaking from experience or consulting with anyone already in the grave. ;) I can’t offer any voice of expertise here but if anyone has something to add, this would be an interesting topic to explore. Anyone care to comment? Julie?

Destiny Blaine said...

Amen, Kari. This is one of the very reasons why I don’t mind to self-publish here and there. Some publishers are still selective. Others are not.

Honestly? In the early days, years and years ago, my first few erotic books shouldn’t have been published. I remember sending one of those first submissions to a small press publisher. The short story went to Cobblestone. Deanna Lee wrote a not-so-friendly rejection letter and THANK GOD she did.

I kept the rejection letter on my desktop and read it over and over again until I began to see the letter as a writing challenge. I was determined to write harder and better than ever before.

Here’s a good point to make—Cobblestone turned down the submission. Mardi Gras took the story and several like it not just from me but from several new authors just like me. Cobblestone is still standing. Mardi Gras was out within a year.

With the aforementioned, it’s important to note Mardi Gras had some very experienced authors in their line-up, but by and large the number of contracted new authors and the lack of the publisher’s experience left many books homeless and authors without a paycheck for their earnings.

Today, I look back on that particular bad experience and smile. I learned a lot of life lessons and was completely driven after my first rejection from Cobblestone. I didn’t just read bestselling novels, I dissected them.

After MGP closed, I saw quickly it was time to pay my dues and crawl. Yes, crawl, toward the gates of the bigger and more reputable publishers. It took hard work, dedication, and a willingness to succeed. In today’s world, many of those same gates are wide open to anyone, anytime day or night. Not all, but some.

Julie mentioned how the big houses recycle dead authors. The new wave in e-publishing seems to lean itself to the idea of recycling authors in a continuous pattern and yes, the integrity of publishing is on the line. One superstar author is born and another superstar author dies at the same time. How? Well, there are so many little nifty tricks to push those newcomers to the top, one would be surprised. The review system, straight across the board, is and has been heavily manipulated and abused. From Goodreads to Amazon, if you think reviews aren’t bought and paid for, think again. Then there’s a thing called keyword association and linking new authors to selling authors—and yes this is done all over the place by small and large publishers alike—but I won’t even get started there. What does this all mean? Authors today don’t always have to pay their dues. All they need is a computer, a good cover letter, some sort of manuscript, and that’s it. Bada-bing! Congratulations, You’re the next published author headed for stardom!

Question is--how long will the ride last?

Destiny Blaine said...

Faith—

You’re out there. You don’t care to dust off the seat of your pants, push up your sleeves, and work. That’s why you’re still around today. You promote yourself and your work so therefore the readers come. My guess is they’ll continue to buy your books for as long as you continue to write them. ;)

Jude Mason said...

Hi Destiny.

You seem to have opened up a very interesting can of worms here. Here goes!

How do you view the state of the writing industry?
-It's like every other industry at the moment. Struggling in tough times and trying to find its place in the ever growing digital world. E-books are here and will remain. Print books have been around for for yonks and in my opinion have pretty much priced themselves out of a huge market. Traditional publishers no longer publish up and coming, new and exciting. They lean towards the tried and true, the old guard who they know will make a profit, even if that profit margin is shrinking. The big boys can't seem to get it through their collective heads, they have to revamp what isn't working and like many other industries, diversify.

What role, if any, did publishers play?
-As an author, I can only speak from one side of this equation with any validity. Publishers are a part of the business that I believe is necessary for those who aren't able to market themselves effectively. It's all fine and good to say they leach off the backs of the author. But, if a publishing house does its job well, I believe it's more of a collaboration than anything bad. Publishing houses can and should promote themselves better than many single authors. They see to the editing, coverart and availability of an authors work. That goes for both ebook and traditional.

What role, if any, did independent, self-published authors play?
-This is a bigger can of worms. I've never self-published. I have no plans to do so in the future. I bow to those who do, but it's not something I want to go into.

For those who do and do it well, all the power to you.

The trouble I'm seeing are the writers who publish poorly done works. You know the kind. Full of spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, punctuation errors, POV shifting, head hops, stories that simply don't make sense because of the mistakes made.

Yes, there have been writers who make all these mistakes and still sell. For those of us who work our buns off, it's painful and frustrating.

What role, if any, did Amazon or any third party bookseller play?
-Again, a necessary evil. Amazon, Fictionwise, Smashwords, dozens of others, all offer a place for the author's books to be sold. I don't always agree with the percentages they take, but unless I want to leap in and do a heck of a lot more promotions, it's an expense I can't get away from.

If you think the book industry is in trouble, what can be done to fix it?
-The book industry is in flux, as are many other industries. I believe, in time, a balance will be found and both paper and ebooks will share the audience. I do believe ebooks will sell for a fraction of what print sells for. I also believe print books will go away from the mass produced books and use the print on demand option to a much greater degree. They'll have to. I think readers are becoming frustrated with the waste of all those unsold books sitting in warehouses until they're no good anymore. Smaller print runs, and a more diverse stable of authors who write in a wider range of genres. That's what I believe will help.

If you think the book industry is fine, how do we keep it the way it is?
-Uh, read above. LOL

Any other comments?
I believe publishers are going to have to work more closely with the authors. Pay attention to what the readers are looking for, instead of sticking with what has worked, venture into new areas.

Hugs
Jude

Destiny Blaine said...

Keta—
I like the fact that you’re candid.

Like you, I’ve had some of those publishers who promised the moon and stars. They aren’t around anymore. I’m lucky to have some very reputable publishers, too.

Still, I agree and will go to my grave believing authors should see the largest cut but that isn’t the way it is or will be so I’ve learned to accept the current model. BEFORE any publisher puts my neck on the chopping block after that statement, let me add—Publishers are in the business for profits and authors, the good ones anyway, should be as well.

I’ve come to realize some publishers believe it’s just absolutely horrible for an author to declare, “I’m in this for the money” yet I’ve had publishers tell me, “It’s just business.” So come on now. What’s the difference?

As for authors living below the poverty line? I don’t know if that’s been the case in the past, but if it has been, authors better brace for more of the same. Indie authors aren’t the only problem here. We’re seeing the never-ending cycle of new publisher openings, more publisher closings. The big houses are growing exponentially and like Amazon, many of them don’t care about talent or who makes the money, just as long as they make the largest chunk. Is that wrong?
Hey, whatever they need to do for their bottom line is fine with me, BUT don’t fault my actions. I’m covering my bottom line, too.

Remember what I said about loyalty working both ways?
Most of my publishers know how I work and accept that I’m probably not going to change. I’ve made a little money in the business and now—largely in part because my financial situation literally changed overnight-I'm not struggling just to get by. I don’t have to follow one set of rules anymore, not that I ever did.

INDIE authors stepping out and doing well made that possible. Plus, in the world of INDIE? Anyone can be behind ANY pen name and NO ONE will ever really know the truth. Really. There isn’t the first worry someone will have a casual slip-of-tongue and take down a pseudonym before the pen name launches and there isn’t anyone to answer to. That’s nice, but it’s also risky. INDIES are pouring a lot of hope into their work, expecting to make millions and sorry—it’s really not that easy. Many self-published titles will go to press without edits and immediately tank without the blaze of glory.

You’re right about the majority of publishing houses refusing to stand for the rights of the author. I’ve only found a few who will take a public stand for an author and generally it’s only when the author is 100% in the right, no questions asked.

As for your comment about Braveheart, I believe in freedom too. Publishers have exercised their right to build their businesses as they’ve seen fit and I support those publishers, but authors have the freedom to do the same. I live by the practice of live and let live, and that means to each his/her own. There’s no reason for anyone to cry foul here unless your work is stolen or given away without your permission. Unfortunately, the publishers who kept flooding the scene and then leaving as quickly as they arrived ruined it for the more reputable publishers paying their dues, and their authors too. Was it fair to the more reputable publishers? Probably not but a flooded market isn’t fair either and there are MANY guilty parties there. If people don’t like the new business model, all I can say is—Learn to adapt and change. It’s business. We all need to look out for our bottom dollar if we want to last through the ups and downs of publishing. I’ll be here in ten years waiting to see how this all plays out.

Destiny

Destiny Blaine said...

Hi Sarah--

It wouldn’t hurt my feelings if I never saw another one of my books in print as far as profits go. With the aforementioned, I do need a few in print to use for conferences and conventions. I kept my word to my children and didn’t go ‘on the road’ to conventions and signings while they were in high school. My daughter graduates this year and I’m hitting the road in late fall so print books are a necessity.
Still, ebooks generally have a much higher royalty rate.
You mentioned the risks traditional publishers won’t take. You’re right. That’s why some of them have missed out on some very profitable small press authors. This year, I know of several authors who’ve already made their publishers over $150,000. Look at the charts at third parties and you'll find many NYC authors are a far cry from that number.

I’m profitable and I’ve beaten the odds. There are MANY New York authors out there who aren’t pulling in my numbers or the numbers seen by some of my fellow authors. How do I know? Hmmm….well, it’s pretty obvious over at the third party sellers. However, with the aforementioned, there’s really not anything New York can offer small press authors that we don't already have.

New York used to have the edge by offering handsome advances. Guess what? There are at least fifteen or twenty small presses offering their top authors advances, maybe even more. I’ve lost count. In fact, I was recently offended by a publisher regarding advances and that’s when my entire outlook on the advance factor changed. I don’t want one now or even in the future. Will I take one? Hmmm…there’s one situation from a current publisher under another pen name where I do still take a monthly advance but the situation is quite unusual. If an extraordinary circumstance came along, I might, but probably not because I don’t want to owe anyone. An advance is A LOAN and I know for a FACT there are some authors out there who NEVER earned out their advances. Now why, pray tell, would an author want their publisher to be their loan officer?

At one time New York had the upper hand on publicity and marketing. Not anymore. Authors are savvy. Advertising, while often expensive, is available to everyone and many of us can afford to advertise. Self-promotion is at an author’s fingertips.

Rather than continue the comparison between the New York publishers and small press, let me close and say it’s really just game over. In today’s market, an author doesn’t have any guarantee they’ll go to the top with a NYC publisher, a small press, or by their own efforts as a self-published author. The big score can be made by anyone. It’s a free-for-all. At the end of the day, sales will be won by those who not only wrote well, but also marketed themselves well enough to stay on the field year after year—not just for a short ride. You’re right, though, the competition is stiff and more players are entering the game all the time by way of publishers with loose house guidelines and self-publishing.

Oh and by the way, I loved your ‘quiet riot’ statement. How true!

Destiny Blaine said...

Ginger—

Oh how I remember the days of “you’re that kind of author” or “oh, couldn’t you get published in New York?” or my favorite one, “Are you still writing books?” Sometimes, I wanted to say, “Why yes honey, are you still…. (insert their career of choice). Years ago, when I started writing, no one took me seriously when I said, “Yes, I write erotic romance” but on the other side of the writing world, as a ghost writer and freelancer, I gained respect. It was sort of like ‘swinging it both ways’ and it was tough keeping a stiff upper lip.

Some believe with the media attention surrounding EL James and her book, Fifty Shades of Grey, erotic romance may finally gain the respect deserved. Look closer at Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James. There are mixed opinions about her and her book because James is now being dubbed (in so many words) the founding author of erotic romance. Untrue as it is, one thing is certain, she deserves the respect of many because I don’t care how erotic romance came to the fore AGAIN...EL James took an erotic romance trilogy to mainstream and has a movie deal because of it. The days of being ‘that kind of author’ are definitely over so I’ll tilt my hat to EL James and all the authors who will thrive because of her. In fact, I definitely plan to read Fifty Shades of Grey next week.

You were right about publishers starting their businesses with good intentions. I believe most do. However, I do believe the ‘team spirit’ is often an imagined façade. Some publishers create an illusion of “we’re all in this together” but the truth is authors do compete with one another for sales. Publishers compete against publishers and third party retail sites most definitely, without a doubt, compete for business so to those publishers I say, "Don’t give me this we’re all in this together” because I’ve had my throat slashed one too many times and the stab marks on this virtual back prove it. That said, I’d go the extra mile for any fellow author because I do know (because I was a reader first) readers buy numerous books, several authors, in one sitting. Why not help each other? But help those who will help themselves. I can’t stand to carry an author who is tied to me through keywords and whatnot WHEN they won’t get off their sitter downer and work for the sales. That chaps the spreading backside quicker than anything, particularly when several are tied to you at one time. Reviews are used for this and it's obvious now with so much of it going on in the industry today.

You mentioned communication. My publishers and editors are available and helpful, adding to the list of growing reasons to stay where I am right now. Every editor and publisher I have at this moment responds in a professional manner and in a reasonable amount of time. What I’ve found by past experiences is this—if a publisher or editor can’t/won’t communicate, there’s an underlying problem and almost always, a sign of bad things to come.

On the subject of self-published authors, I believe we’ll see a few succeed, but the ones who stand a better chance are those who were indeed first published by the more traditional publishers, in my humble opinion. There will be exceptions, but they won’t set the pace and make the rules.

Congratulations to you, Ginger, for selling thousands of books. You certainly deserve the rewards of hard work paying off with handsome returns! :)

Destiny Blaine said...

Regan-One




Regan—Thank you for bringing up the formats. You’re right. We’re already seeing another growing trend gaining momentum. Audio books are everywhere. Take a look at the growing number of audio books available at Cracker Barrel and in airport gift shops. Where publishing is concerned, we’re at the tip of the iceberg. Where e-books are concerned, I think we have too many people taking too many slices of the pie and they’re taking theirs and everyone else’s the dirty way—placing negative reviews and slicing throats as they climb their way to the top. It’s becoming more and more apparent, if authors want to stay in the game, they may have to pick up a bat and play hard ball too and I don’t like that. It’s not the way I’ve built my business.

Example—about a year ago an author came to me for help. Before long, I saw her rating my books, politely handing out threes and fours for established work while leaving glowing reviews to other new authors who entered publishing at the same time she did. Now that would’ve been perfectly fine—and don’t get me wrong—it is perfectly fine to have and voice a subjective opinion. The ONLY real problem I had was when she rated a book that is NOT on the market, has not been on the market, and was only on the market for a very short period of time YEARS ago. She couldn’t have purchased the book because the book wasn’t available and as far as I know there was only one e-pirate who had the book so IF she read the book, she picked it up from an e-pirate. I tried to give her the benefit of the doubt because I enjoy getting along with everyone, particularly fellow authors and hey, I liked this gal, so I questioned my gut. Then a few other ‘questionable reviews’ came about and it became apparent. She was going to the top with her sword drawn, swinging her blade at anyone she perceived as viable competition.

With the aforementioned, I will say this author taught another valuable lesson. I will not give my help too freely until I see someone out there working for their money the RIGHT WAY. I don’t purchase books written by lazy authors. That may tick some people off (to borrow your phrase) but the reason is two-fold. First, I won’t find the authors who aren’t promoting or advertising or blogging. I won’t look for them. If they aren’t willing to work for their client base I feel like this—they didn’t care enough about their book to lead me to their book page so why should I care enough to open my purse and pull out the old credit card?

Destiny Blaine said...

Att: Regan Part 2/2



You made a great point about the publishers who view their businesses as they should—a business. Feelings AREN’T in play and over the years, I’ve seen this time and time again. However, what I find extremely strange is how a publisher can tell someone (or their actions will show) they are in business for the money but they can’t understand when an author gives that same excuse for whatever reason.

Publishers look out for number one—AND they should—but it is so very important for authors to do the same or they’ll end up broke. Authors shouldn’t worry about feelings when they approach business matters and they better find a thick layer of skin, because if they don’t, this business will eat them alive.

In your example of 21 authors dividing up the pie—I saw that coming a long time ago and didn’t like it quite honestly, but understand it from the publisher’s point of view. However, there’s no reason whatsoever for a writer to stand by and accept a small percentage of an even smaller pie IF they can jump out there and do better for themselves by going to the self-publishing model or to another publisher or source.

If I go strictly INDIE in the future, it will be down the road. I have a set dollar amount I want in the bank before trying it.
I want enough cushion to last for five-seven years on my own before I feel the first whisper of stress caressing my neck. Even then, I probably won’t. I like diversity.

You bring up a great point—“the only reason for change would be to make more money and keep up with the competition.” Exactly.

You mentioned the quantity over quality factor and here I want to thank you for the compliment as well. I truly appreciate your kind words, Regan. Coming from you it’s like winning a cherished prize.

I’ve made my share of mistakes. Recently, I churned out a bunch of books under one of my pen names while keeping up the pace of other obligations with seven other publishers. I almost crashed because of it. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the greed and I did that for a short period of time. I’m human and will admit my mistakes.

Destiny Blaine said...

Regan Part 3--forgot I needed to add this part, lol:


I could excuse this behavior by saying it was all for a good cause but in the end, it really wasn’t. Time was lost with my family and children and for what? I wanted to be this mom who never had to look one of my children in the eyes and say, “No, you can’t go to college there because we don’t have the money.” My entire ambition in life became more about ‘putting back for the future’ rather than living for what I had in the present. My work AND my family suffered.

You want to hear something funny? It backfired.

Quick back story—the kids were told a long time ago when they turned eighteen and graduated from high school they had two choices. They could go to college or go to work. If they went to college, I’d pay their way if they didn’t have a scholarship but if they decided to work and miss out on the opportunity of an education, they were on their own.

My son went in the Navy. My daughter plans to go to a local college now (after we traveled all over the country looking at colleges) and the money for college? Wasn’t needed. The books churned out at a maddening pace were all for nothing. There wasn’t a big emergency to make all this money so my kids would have what they desired. There wasn’t a frantic need to earn, earn, earn when I could’ve taken my own sweet time and written a higher quality book. Was there anything wrong with those books? I guess a few of them are much better than some of the unedited work out there but nothing like what I’m capable of and that’s too bad I let wrong beliefs and greed steer my career for a short time.

Why did I share this story? Well, there seems to be a strong sense of panic in our industry. What we’re seeing is a push to churn out more and more books at an incredibly fast pace and authors everywhere are doing it. The independent authors, the small and large press authors; pretty much everyone. And at what cost? Let me tell you the real horror—I don’t care who you are, you will burn out and worse? You’ll lose your hands. Trust me. If you’re writing over 200,000 words a month, you’d better be concerned because not only are you sacrificing book quality, but you’re placing your health at a very high risk for significant damage.

You brought up the role of Amazon and how they helped put many of the brick and mortar stores out of business. I agree with you and have two questions for you now. Do you think Amazon has the power to put a great number of small publishers out of business? Also do you think the brick and mortar stores should’ve supported e-authors and would they have gained more business by supporting e-books and the e-authors who approached them for events, signings, etc?

Thank you for your insights, Regan! I like your closing line and you’re right. Authors must adapt and learn how to change with the times.

Destiny Blaine said...

Dania—

You brought up such an important point.

*Dusting off the podium and adjusting the microphone*

You said, “I have had the urge to read a certain type of story and searched until I found it.”

I hear you! If there’s a certain genre I want to read or a particular type of story, I’ll go on a search. This is why I tell new authors all the time, get out there. Put your work everywhere. Make sure you are visible, approachable, and interested in promoting your books. The job isn’t over just because you typed out THE END on the last page of your manuscript.

A prime example—Alicia White at Siren-Bookstrand. She is everywhere. She will visit her fellow authors’ blogs. She’s on Facebook. She’s available and ready to return emails on whim. I saw her working her sitter-downer off and rushed out and bought Bella’s Rodeo. Why? Well I felt like if she cared enough to promote and advertise her book, she deserved a chance at earning my reading dollars. Wonder who else feels this way? I’m betting a bunch of people because Alicia isn’t just a talented writer, she seems like the kind of lady you’d want to invite over for coffee.

You’re right about the everlasting stories and the book publishers operating as a true business. Some will be trendsetters and others will have to catch the tail-end of a trend or jump on the bandwagon right as the trumpet begins to play, but then again—so will the indie authors. It will be interesting to see what happens next and who survives for longer than a trend or two. It will be interesting to see who is still around in five years, ten years, or twenty. Sidebar—I hope to be retired by then. Lol.

Destiny Blaine said...

Hi Pam—

Thank you for being with us on a Sunday. ;)

You’re right. When you said, “But, now we have authors who are going in to print just because their name is recognizable even though the book isn't an enjoyable read…”


In NYC, the good old boys club is still in play and the old unspoken rule (who you know) has and will continue to cost publishers some big money. Over the past three years, if my work had been agented, an agent would’ve made enough money off my work to live comfortably and I would’ve had fewer headaches. I’m not saying that to brag.

My point is this-Literary agents were looking at New York authors and keeping their eyes open for some new talent and while that’s great, if I’d been in their shoes? I would’ve been looking at me and another hundred authors or so just like me—the ones with a proven track record to pay the bills, keep up the pace, and deliver. *Shrugs* But that’s not how New York works or the agents dying to knock on NYC's publishing doors.

I don’t pursue an agent now because I don’t have time to pursue an agent, but I’d gladly turn over my work to a reputable agent—even for upcoming contracts—if they’d take the initiative to contact me and promise to take the monkey off my back. All I want to do is write. I don’t want to keep up with submissions or the contracts. Do I expect that call? No. It won’t come because the old school practice prevents the approach and that’s too bad.

There are some hungry agents out there, just like there are some struggling publishers all because they refuse to change. The inner circles are tight and the authors within them always go first. Then, the renegades have their chance. Generally, those authors have made a small fortune before anyone pays attention.

Thanks for being here Pam. BY THE WAY everyone—please visit Pam at Affaire de Coeur for all advertising needs. She’s fantastic and you’ll see RAPID RESULTS!

Destiny Blaine said...

Keta,

Thank you for stopping by today. I'm off to read the article. Thank you for providing the link!

Destiny

Destiny Blaine said...

Hi Jude-

You hit the nail on the head, my friend. I didn’t stop to think about pricing of prints, but you’re right. They’re too high and that little problem may be the death of print books. Right again, you also hit the big boys where it counts. They must diversify. If they don’t, they shouldn’t be surprised when they fold.

I’m with you on the collaboration. My current publishers work hard to make sure authors can gain something from them as much as vice-versa. I don’t know about you, but way back when, I couldn’t have jumped right into the world of publishing all by my lonesome. I don’t know how the newly self-published authors with no following and no support have made it this far. Well, many of them haven’t. Personally, I can’t imagine self-publishing without prior experience in the business and I've already listed my reasons for self-publishing the books we've published through Destiny Blaine Productions.

As for royalties—the percentages the third parties take bother me far more than anything my publishers take but I understand some of it to an extent. They have advertising costs, labor, etc. and like I’ve mentioned throughout the day, I understand their bottom line but hope they understand my views too. I want a cushy statement at the end of the month, quarter, or two times a year. ;)

You’re right about another thing. We can’t escape the third party expenses and that goes for self-published authors as much as any publisher, large or small.

You hit on something special here and I really believe a large number of publishers should certainly begin to look at the print-on-demand versus mass market immediately. If they don’t now, they will later because they won’t have any other choice. Your ideas offer viable solutions and maybe someone out there will listen! The smaller print runs would definitely cut costs and a more diverse stable of authors would definitely be nice to see in the bookstores, not just online!

Thanks so much, Jude!

Sapphire Phelan said...

I believe in getting my fingers in all the places. I will be doing a book or two, and backlists as an indie author--though may have to pay for a cover and have someone show me how to upload my first book first.
I agree that authors should be treated better. They write the stories and not getting a good portion for their talent. Yes, there are some bad eggs on Kindle and Nooks (books with bad writing, etc), but then there are great ones again (reading one now that has me hooked) and there are badly written NYC books (King's Under the Dome is one example--POVs in same paragraph, and lots more I can point out). It's funny when i hear authors on a panel at a convention say if asked 3 years ago what they thought of self publishing would be put down, today, they admitted are not. I predicted there would be changes some time ago and it is coming to pass. I say, keep abreast--read Publisher's Weekly, blogs, anf more, know what is going on. A writer (sorry, Keta, but an author is a writer) should be well informed just as one keeps informed with their regular jobs. One thing more, finally readers no longer buy the higher NYC eBooks as if they are gods, but are checking out small press and yes, indie authors too.

Welcome to Destiny Blaine's Online Journal

Welcome to Destiny Blaine's Online Journal
"An Award Winning Bestselling International E-book and Paperback Author, Destiny Blaine and her pseudonyms top the charts at Amazon, Bookstrand, Barnes and Noble, ARE, Mobipocket, and other retailers online and off. Scroll down for a list of available titles, works in progress, and coming soon dates for debut titles.”

Author Bio

An award-winning, international bestselling erotic romance author, Destiny Blaine writes under several pen names. She lives in East Tennessee and spends a lot of time in Connecticut and Virginia, where her granddoll resides.