The Numbers Game

Mark Coker is one of my favorite writers.  No, he doesn’t write fiction.  Or, as far as I know, anything with a truly creative flair.  What he does do is explain numbers without trying to skew them.  And that’s a rare thing.

Actually that’s a huge thing, especially considering that he’s the founder of Smashwords, possibly the largest self-publishing venue out there.  If not the largest, it’s close to it.  A writer can download Mark’s free book on formatting for Smashwords, then follow the directions and, in an hour or so, have a book published for free that can be sold on any venue Smashwords has a contract with. And that’s a whole lot of publishers.

I’m sure that Mark Coker makes a decent living through Smashwords.  But, in his many narratives about Smashwords and e-publishing in general, he doesn’t skew the numbers to make it look like a writer will sell more books than is realistic. And that’s huge because honesty could cost Mark Coker income by making potential authors choose not to publish through Smashwords.

It would be easy to skew the numbers without being dishonest.  All that’s necessary is to post averages.  Since there are a few very, very high-selling authors out there who pull the number of sales and the resulting sales figures way up, if you only post the averages, selling books online looks way more lucrative than it actually is.

I suspect Mark Coker isn’t worried.  I suspect he knows something intrinsic about writers.  He could probably throw negative numbers at everyone and shout to the rooftops that e-publishing isn’t profitable for most writers.  And those writers would publish anyway.  Because writers are optimists.

So read anything Mark Coker has to say on the subject if you want the truth.  Then go out there and publish your work anyway.  Because maybe you’ll become part of that small, select group of best-selling authors who do very well financially.

The Waiting Game

Waiting to hear from an e-publisher may be as bad as waiting to hear from a print publisher.  I just sent Wolf Legend to Samhain Publishing and to The Wild Rose Press.  So now the waiting game begins. They say it’ll be weeks before I hear from them.  Okay, they say it might be a couple months.

I guess I shouldn’t complain.  I wrote for the confession market for many years.  That taught me how to truly wait.  I sometimes waited a year to hear back from them.  Or two.  I can’t remember ever waiting three years, but one year was usual and two happened occasionally.

Not always, of course.  I’d hear from them in two or three weeks if the story I’d submitted fit their current needs.  Once I even got a phone call to say they wanted to use a story immediately and that they’d send the contract ASAP.  That was nice.  But it wasn’t usual.

So now I’m about to find out about e-publishers.  Will I hear in a matter of weeks?  Months?  Or longer?

In the meantime,  I’ll get started on Earth Legend, the last of the Legend trilogy.  And I will try to be patient.

Welcome to the world of publishing.  And waiting.

Writer/Procrastinator

Last post, I said I was ready to start marketing Wolf Legend, my next contemporary romance novel with a supernatural theme.  Maybe the truth should be that I’m almost ready to start marketing Wolf Legend.

I’ve still got to do one more run-through for editing, typos, etc.  Most of all, I must justify the margins. When I first started e-publishing, I tried writing first drafts with justified margins so I wouldn’t have to go back and do it later.  It didn’t work. It drove me crazy.  All those letters jumping all over the place whenever I made a change.  (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, try it.  You’ll go blind very quickly.  Or insane.  Or both.)  And I changed at least a few things in every chapter.  Even if I was on rewrite number ten.

So I quit creating with justified margins and must go back and redo the entire book now that I’m finally, finally truly done with it. Actually I justified it twice already and then un-justified it so I could make changes without going blind.  But this time I’m sure I’m done.

Really sure.

Pretty sure.

Almost sure…

Okay, I’m a writer and that means I’m never done.  I just reach a point in the creative process where I send it off whether I’m satisfied or not.  My husband often threatens to tear my latest manuscript from my clutching, ink-stained fingers because that’s the only way it’ll ever go out into the world.

The Romance Genre… Or Not

I’m finally… finally… finally… ready to start marketing the second book of my Legend trilogy, Wolf Legend, about a psychic wolf.  Actually two psychic wolves, mother and daughter and the woman they share a mind link with.

Marketing requires that I choose a category for my book.  I hate doing that.  Hate, hate, hate it!!!

Wolf Legend is a supernatural, contemporary, clean romance.  Though a supernatural element is fairly common in contemporary fiction, clean romances don’t often have that theme.  So maybe Wolf Legend shouldn’t be marketed as a supernatural, contemporary, clean romance after all.  Maybe it’s contemporary fiction with a supernatural theme and a romantic sub-plot!  Since readers ultimately categorize books, it’s difficult to know ahead of time where they will place it.

I wish I had a mind link with my readers!

Bloody Jack by L. A. Meyer

Product Detailshttp://www.Amazon.com/dp/B003K16PPU

Review:  Bloody Jack by L. A. Meyer

This the first of a series of really fun reads that I read because it was recommended.  Word of mouth is always the best advertisement and this time was no exception.

Mary Faber is a street urchin in old London who knows how to read.  She disguises herself as a boy, takes the name Jacky, and gets a job as ship’s boy on a merchant sailing ship.  She carries off the disguise and learns how to sail and eventually earns the respect of the ship’s crew when they are attacked by pirates.  After the fight, she’s nicknamed Bloody Jacky.  From there, the story gets wonky in a good way.  She ends up sailing through the sky across the ocean on a tree limb, fights the pirates a second time, and is rescued by her shipmates after they discover she’s a girl.  The end of the story is her arrival at a girl’s school, complements of her share of the pirates’ loot and the captain’s wishes.

I think the best way to describe this book is to say that it’s rollicking good fun.  The best thing about it is that it’s the first of a series so I can continue to follow Jacky’s story as she changes from a street urchin to a lady to, or so I’ve been told, a ship’s captain. I look forward to those books.

Of course it’s well edited and lacking the typos, etc,of some self-published books, being published by Harcourt, Inc.

The Science Fiction Genre Part 2

Like every other genre that people seek out in great numbers, science fiction now has sub-genres. Nothing spectacular about them, you’ll find the same ones in other genres.  Except steampunk.  I’m not sure that’s anywhere else.  Let me know if it is, I don’t read a lot of it so I might have missed it elsewhere.

The thing I find fascinating about science fiction sub-genres is that they always existed, they just weren’t labeled.  The Wild, Wild, Wild, Wild West was an early version of steampunk.  I’m not sure I have the right number of ‘wild’s in the title, but you get the idea.  It was a fun TV show that paved the way for the steampunk that’s out there now in many types of media, including several movies.

I loved Asaac Asimov’s  Caves of Steel.   It never occurred to me that it was science fiction mystery.  That’s because it was written before sub-genres came into existence.

Science fiction romance is a little different.  Romances were often included in every kind of science fiction story out there but they weren’t the main focus of the story.  The thing is, even now when there are web sites that cater to science fiction romance, the romance isn’t always as prominent as it is in most romances.

And there’s science eco-fiction.  Think Dune, which was one of the first.  Or many of Jules Verne’s books.

There are as many sub-genres as you’d expect in a wildly popular genre.

But always, always, in science fiction, the backbone of the story is the science… or what passes for science in the writer’s mind … and everything else is layered onto that.  Make no mistake, characters and their journey through whatever situation they face is so essential that a story that contains wonderfully compelling science and lousy characters won’t sell.  But, without that basic science component, it won’t even make it through the editing process. Not so with romance, in which the characters can be the whole story.  Not so either with mysteries in which the detective can be as important as the mystery.

In science fiction, the science is truly important and there’s a way science fiction writers use it to help them create a story.  It’s called world-building, it’s important, and more about it later.

Snowed by Pamela Burford

Snowed   http://www.amazon.com/dp/B003VYC776

Review:  Snowed by Pamela Burford

Judging from the original publication date for this book, I’m guessing that it’s from Ms Burford’s backlist.  It reads like a backlist book.  I liked it but there were things about it suggestive of a writer who hasn’t hit her full stride yet.

It’s the story of a poor Arkansas girl who is the product of rape who makes good and goes to New York City to confront her father.  He has died but his son is sexy and nice and she falls for him.  The rest of the story follows the various twists and turns during which they figure out that they aren’t blood relatives after all so it’s all right for them to fall in love and marry.

I thought the twists and turns were a bit clumsy, and that’s what I meant by being suggestive of a newbie writer, but they worked and, to be honest, Ms. Burford did manage a plot that most writers wouldn’t even tackle, let alone do so successfully.  And I loved the characters.  Loved them.  Ms. Burford’s characters jump from the page. I especially loved the ‘don’t-call-me-a-southern-hillbilly-one-more-time-or-I’ll-belt-you’ heroine as she makes her way through the big city.

It was well edited and I didn’t notice any typos.  Yeah!!!  This was free, the second of two free books I downloaded recently.  I’m glad I did and, after reading excerpts of Ms. Burford’s newer books, I just might buy one or two.