What Publishers Do (a grumpy rant)

Time to revisit a topic that irks me hard: indie authors dissing useless “publishers.”  I use scare quotes because publishing options have  grown right along with self-publishing.  Back in the day author choices were limited to three–the Big Publishers,  a predatory vanity publisher, or self-publishing–but today complaining about “publishers” is a lot like complaining about “food.” It’s so broad a category it’s meaningless.

And yet people do it. Four times in the last week I’ve seen posts  that were all variations on this: “Why would I bother working with a publisher when they don’t promote/market/support me or my book?”

YAARRRGGHHHH  <I would insert hair-pulling-out graphic here but I am too lazy>

Pull up an orange crate to the cider barrel, and Old Curmudgeon Karen will tell you a tale about publishing. First off, the word publish refers to making a book, not about what happens afterwards. The majority of what a publisher does is NOT marketing.

PUBLISHERS DO A LOT OF BORING HARD EXPENSIVE THINGS FOR YOU SO YOU CAN FOCUS MORE ON WRITING. If I was being published by someone else I would not have to:

  • locate all the right developmental, copy & proof editors for each of my works, negotiate with said editors on fees and schedules, or chase after them about deadlines. Plus I wouldn’t have to PAY them.
  • all the same issues for interior ebook formatting & for print
  • same-same for cover design

That’s a lot of time, money, and trouble avoided right there. I ALSO would be leaving to someone else the following tedious, expensive hassles:

  • the PITA of getting books logged into the ISBN & copyright databases
  • ditto the actual production of print books & posting to various sales
  • ditto-ditto double-checking the results in same for errors

Yes, I would lose some creative control. But I would gain lots and lots and lots of time. And reduce stress.  That is a trade-off.  One I would gladly make, TBH.

Even in the old days, the big publishing houses were never big into promoting books or authors outside NYC/the literary community. Until the late 80’s, major book promotions really were not a thing period. The book industry kind of backed into major marketing efforts way later than most entertainment businesses.

Publishers used to release most books the way mama turtles have babies. They made ’em, laid em out there, and the babies either swam or got eaten by seagulls.  If an author was already a big name–or impressed the heck out of Everyone at the Company–their book would get ads in the industry mags or the New York Review of Books or some targeted professional publication and they might even get a book tour. BUT.  BUTBUTBUT.  This was rarely an expectation for debut or midlist authors, at least not in the “all expenses paid” way. Unicorn rare.

Most books got entries in the “new release” section of industry mags, were listed in the indexes, and might get promoted word-of-mouth by sales reps to librarians & booksellers. Those people would read and pass on recommendations of their own to book groups and local newspapers, and so on and so on.

Do major publishers now give authors less marketing support after publication  than ever before? Absolutely. Is this a bad thing? YES. They also take on fewer authors, pay them lower royalties and engage in a slew of other practices that beggar the book world. That’s kinda beside the point.

The point is, marketing never has been the fundamental core of publishing. Ignoring that reality is petty and shortsighted. And pettiness irks me.

Okay. Rant over.

I wandered off to Jen’s blog this week..

Author KM Herkes is back for round two, talking about one of her kickass female characters. If you missed Part One, check it out here. Let me tell you about Grace. Grace is the protagonist in Heartwood, my current work in progress. I want to share a bit of her biography. Fair warning, it might…

via KM Herkes–writer of kickass heroines with power. Part Two! — Jen Ponce

It LIVES!

New Release Day! People can buy my latest book right now!  I gotta do an all-kinds of official post, right?  ALL THE EXCLAMATION POINTS! <cue balloon drop>

balloons-1604867_640

What’s it about? Glad you asked. Soccer moms waking up with superpowers.

That’s the one-breath pitch. The elevator pitch is this: what if your midlife crisis caused a national emergency?

In most superhero worlds, teenagers get all the fun of developing strange powers.  In my book, people get saddled with their new and unexpected abilities right about the time they’re hitting menopause, dealing with empty nests,  and finally buying the sports cars they always wanted. Plus  more than 10% of the population over 45 has to rework their entire lives around gaining powers.

It all makes for some fascinating conflicts and great character development.  It’s a damfine collection of stories and scenes if I do say so, and I do.

RP instagram ads

The universal link mybook.to/RoughPassages  will get you to the e-book on Amazon. It is a Kindle exclusive for 90 days. Only $4.99 for all that goodness.

The paperback is available from Amazon too,  but you can also get it at Barnes & Noble and anywhere else books can be ordered.  It’s $14.99.  Message me through Twitter (@dawnrigger) if you would rather buy direct from me and get a signed copy shipped straight to you for $5 extra. (US only, sorry.)

Last and best, I will be attending a lovely local convention–WindyCon— November 10-12, and I will have Rough Passages paperbacks there  along with my other novels.  More on that later this weeks.

 

 

New Release Blues

My new superpowers book, Rough Passages, has been available for sale in paperback for several days now. Just an FYI.
 
I realize that announcement lacks the proper new-release pep, but I am fresh out of enthusiasm for touting books people go out of their way to ignore. (OMG THE EXCUSES. FRIENDS, PLS STOP WITH THE EXPLAINING WHY YOU “HAVEN’T READ THEM YET.) 
Promotion makes me feel more like Gus from the Simpsons than an author with a social media circle packed with readers waiting to discover me. 
 
So I won’t be touting the imminent ebook release or asking for reviews. It’s there. I’ve posted tons of links barely anyone clicks. It’s out. I’m done.
I have to cut the cord at some point. Showcasing things no one wants is too painful. I can’t keep clinging to hope my worlds and characters will ever appeal to anyone who hasn’t found them already.

Book Reviews, Deli Style

If you dread seeing pleas for online reviews from your author-friends, you are not alone. Me? I get performance anxiety.  Composing a Real Book Review is hard mental work and time consuming.*

Ordering lunch is easy. So I came up with a system. Think of your review as a deli meal. Yes, folks, it’s time for “Build Your Own Book Review!”

Sandwich. Sides. Drink. Make a few choices, and it writes itself.

Bread: all reviews come with stars. Choose 1-5. Don’t worry about hurting feelings. Seriously. The raw number of reviews carries far more weight with the Almighty Search Algorithms than whether they’re positive or negative. That said, 5 stars is the white bread of the review world. Just saying.

Fillings. Pick one or more from as many categories as you want.

This book is

  • ______ well worth reading
  • ______ suspenseful  & fun
  • ______ a real thriller
  • ______ warm & inspiring
  • ______ entertaining
  • ______ on my best-of list
  • ______ fun but nothing special
  • ______ totally skippable
  • ______ A bore from beginning to end

The plot

  • ______ was twisty and full of surprises
  • ______ kept me turning pages
  • ______ made me think
  • ______ was brilliant
  • ______ didn’t really move me
  • ______ confused me in places
  • ______ started well but got boring
  • ______ goes nowhere fast

The world-building/main idea

  • ______ blew my mind
  • ______ was amazing and original
  • ______ was well thought-out
  • ______ felt tired and predictable

The characters

  • ______ were flawed and human
  • ______ were relatable
  • ______ felt real
  • ______ really got to me
  • ______ acted like real heroes
  • ______ never stopped complaining
  • ______ were full of themselves
  • ______ seemed like tired stereotypes

The dialogue

  • ______ sounded real
  • ______ had lots of good jokes
  • ______ moved the story along
  • ______ was stilted and fake
  • ______ sounded like speeches
  • ______ used too many big words

Side orders: not required, but extras add a little pizazz to your review

  • My favorite character/moment/scene _____________­­­­­­­­­_______
  • The best thing about the book was _____________­­­­­­­­­_______
  • I really liked_____________­­­­­­­­­_______

Drink. A little statement to pull the whole review together.

  • Give this book a try, you won’t be disappointed.
  • Recommended for/as/to________________________
  • This is a must-read
  • If you like ______________ then you should check this out
  • Skip this one if you value your brain cells.
  • Only recommend it to your enemies.

Take a look at these popular combos:

House Special:  5 stars! This book is on my best-of the year list. The plot was twisty, the world-building blew my mind, and the characters really got to me. My favorite scene involved a teddy bear and a glue stick, and that’s all I’m saying. If you like funny books full of crazy jokes, snappy dialogue and cute animals, take a look.

The Snark: 2 stars. Skip this book. The world-building is mind-blowing, but the characters spend the whole book complaining and the plot goes nowhere fast. Recommended as an insomnia cure.

Short, Sweet & Simple: 4 stars. I liked this book. The plot kept me turning pages, and the characters felt real. Give it a try.

Now, if you you feel like this is cheating somehow because it’s easy, YOU ARE SO WRONG. Trust me on this. I recommended books for a living for nearly two decades. Sales reviews are about bearing witness. Standing up to be counted.  Very few readers go to Amazon or B&N looking for a deeply-pondered journal-style literary critique. They want to know, “Did someone else like this book? Y/N and why.”

Be kind to yourself. Give your favorite authors a huge boost. Go deli style.  And if you want to practice, I have a bunch of book listings pining away for reviews right here behind this link: author.to/kmherkes.



 

*No, really. Reviews are hard. That’s the reason Goodreads lets all members assign star ratings without writing words at all. (My books are listed there, too. Hint. Hint.)