Misadventures With Bookstores

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Book6For years, I’ve read in publishing trade journals, or heard in speeches, or been advised in the bar at conferences that it’s a good idea to develop relationships with local booksellers, and that it certainly never hurts to pop into any bookstore where your work is being sold and offer to sign the copies in stock. Indeed, I often hear my fellow novelists talking about what a warm response they’ve received upon casually dropping by bookstores to sign stock, about what good public relations this is, even about the word of mouth it helps to create.

Work in theory. In practice, though… it’s never gone well for me.

The first time I tried this seemingly simple public relations strategy was years ago, after I’d done about half a dozen books for Silhouette under the pseudonym Laura Leone. I was laughed out of a local Waldenbooks where the manager (a) didn’t believe for a moment that I really was Laura Leone and (b) said that no one was allowed to sign books without the district manager’s permission—and, no, they weren’t willing to track him down just for my benefit.

Nor was this the only time I received this sort of you-must-be-INSANE response when popping in to offer to sign books for a bookseller. However, one place, attempting to console me with the knowledge that there was nothing personal in their refusal, assured me that they’d given the same response to some mystery writer who had dropped by a few weeks earlier. They thought his name was Ed McBain or something.

After that, as you may have guessed,  I took a long break from casually popping into bookstores and offering to sign my books. But when my first fantasy novel came out in the late 1990s, In Legend Born, a hardcover with shiny raised type and glowing cover quotes and good reviews and everything, I decided it was time to get back on the horse.

So, okay, I gird my loins and boldly pop into a local chain bookstore where I offer to sign my new book which has been on the stands for a couple of weeks.

They don’t have it. And their computer lists it as still unpublished, which is why they haven’t even ordered it. Moreover, they think this is a glitch in the entire computer system for their chain nationwide, meaning the book probably isn’t in any of their stores.

After being revived by paramedics, I go home and make lots of phone calls, but I never get any clear answer to this disturbing claim, and I eventually wind up just wishing  I’d never popped into that bookstore in the first place.

ILB-v.-3But I’m a slow learner. So next… I casually pop into a bookstore where a friend has seen my current book on the New Releases table. It’s a local independent that’s about a 10-minute drive from my home (at the time). This, I assure myself, is the sort of place which thrives on establishing friendly relations with local authors.

I enter the store and identify myself. The bookseller stares blankly at me. He certainly doesn’t appear pleased to see me. I offer to sign his (two) copies of my book. He hems and haws, sways and stutters, gurgles and gibbers. Hoping to move things forward, I ask if he perchance has any “Autographed” stickers on hand? His negative response is issued in a tone suggesting my question is in bad taste, along the lines of, “Will you model a sequined thong for me, sir?”

I say that that’s okay, I have brought some “Local Author” stickers with me which we can use instead.

A look of dark suspicion comes over his features. “What would these stickers look like?”

I pull them out. (You know what they look like. Little gold stickers that say—wait for it!—Local Author.) He reluctantly agrees to let me sticker each book (probably because he has seen that he can easily peel them off). But when I open the cover of one book and flourish my pen, an expression of panic crosses his face, and his tongue stumbles over a request that I NOT DO this terrible thing.

He’s so distressed, I’m confused and embarrassed for a moment… And then I realize why he doesn’t want me to autograph my books.

“Because… you want to be sure you’ll have no trouble returning these for full credit?” I venture.

He burbles his agreement, pleased I have so perfectly understood his position.

Absorb this with me for just a moment: A local independent bookseller refuses to let me sign two (2) whole copies of my book because he’d rather vigorously protect his right to return them for full-credit than try to sell them. (I don’t even know if a signature would indeed impede returns on a hardcover; but he obviously isn’t willing to risk it.)

I’m now so angry and appalled that the power of speech deserts me (so that’s what it takes, in case you’ve wondered), and I stumble out of the store without another word. (Needless to say, I’ve never returned there as a shopper or an author.)

Tired of being treated over and over as if autographing my own books was defacing, damaging, or devaluing them, I ceased going into stores and offering to sign them, and I ignore authors who advise me to do so. I also ignore authors who advise me to get around this surprisingly common problem by sneaking into stores to sign-and-sticker my books by stealth. Given my track record, the best case scenario is that I’d be escorted out of the store by a security guard if I did that.

However, it’s interesting to note that among the stores above which I can specifically remember (I’ve forgotten some over the years), none of them still exists. The Walden Books is gone. The store that turned away Ed McBain is long gone. The local indy that wouldn’t let me sign In Legend Born is still there, but it changed hands and now sells books only as a sideline (being primarily a café, along with selling jewelry and other goods).

I love bookstores, I want to see them survive and thrive, and I have enjoyed and valued my many encounters with savvy booksellers and well-run bookstores. But I cannot mourn the demise of bookstores that treat authors who offer to sign books as intruders, party crashers, or weird vandals.

*****

Laura Resnick is the author of the popular Esther Diamond urban fantasy series, whose releases include Disappearing Nightly, Doppelgangster, Unsympathetic Magic, Vamparazzi, Polterheist, and the upcoming The Misfortune Cookie. She has also written traditional fantasy novels such as In Legend Born, The Destroyer Goddess, and The White Dragon, which made multiple “Year’s Best” lists. She began her career as the award-winning author of fifteen romance novels, written under the pseudonym Laura Leone. An opinion columnist and frequent public speaker, she is also the Campbell Award-winning author of many short stories.

The Long Haul: The Wheel Never Stops Turning

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typewriterI made my first writing deal years ago by selling a novel to the category romance publisher Silhouette Books, after reading How To Write A Romance and Get It Published by the inimitable Kathryn Falk (publisher of Romantic Times Magazine).

The wheel turns upward!

My first editor (whose name I don’t remember) left Silhouette shortly after I delivered the revisions on my first book; she was the first of many colleagues to fall by the wayside over the years.

My next editor—a woman comically misnamed Joy—told me I was an unwanted burden that had been dumped on her desk, she didn’t have time for me, and I shouldn’t expect to sell any more books to Silhouette. And that was the most positive and upbeat conversation that Joy and I ever had.

The wheel turns down.

After five months of this behavior from my “editor,” I wrote to then-Senior Editor Isabel Swift (who later became Editorial Director of Harlequin/Silhouette Books), and requested reassignment. Fortunately, Isabel recognized the problem (many supervisors with less integrity or sense just shrug and blame the writer), and she reassigned me to Lucia Macro (now VP/Executive Editor at HarperCollins), an excellent editor with whom I worked for much of my remaining Silhouette career, along with the talented Paula Brown Pearl, who’d pulled me out of Silhouette’s slushpile; as an editorial assistant (i.e. coffee-bringer and phone-answerer), Paula had sought (and got) promotion to Assistant Editor by finding a new writer (me) for the house to acquire.

The wheel turns up!

Joy, by the way, resigned and left the publishing industry shortly thereafter. Another of the many editors whom I have outlasted in this business.

Lucia promptly rejected four of my next six manuscripts. Her long and constructive revision and rejection letters all taught me a lot about my craft, but I never became well-suited to writing for that subgenre. During the five years that I sold eleven books to Silhouette, they rejected about fifteen of my other proposals, most of which wound up permanently in my “dead projects” file.

Increasingly frustrated, I tried to branch out into other fiction. In pursuit of this goal, I decided to hire an agent. My new agent sent my new book proposal to five houses. They rejected it, and he immediately dumped me.

The wheel turns down.

My next agent and I parted acrimoniously after about a year, and the agent spent the next couple of years badmouthing me all over the business. (That person is no longer an agent. If you survive long enough in this industry, you see a lot of people disappear from it.)

The wheel turns way down.

My career, meanwhile, had expanded only to the extent that I was now also writing for Meteor—a house targeting the same audience as Silhouette.

Feeling bored and discouraged, I took a big step back from the business and spent almost a year crossing Africa overland, from Morocco to the Cape. (In the 1990s, I wrote a nonfiction book about the journey, A Blonde In Africa, which is in my production queue for ebook reissue this year.) As if to confirm that my leaving the industry would increase the sum of human happiness, while I was in Africa, Silhouette dumped me. Meteor folded up shop, which effectively ended our association, too.

I returned home at the end of the year and started writing again. Around that time, an agent who had previously refused to deal with me now approached me and asked me to become a client. Having already been through two bad aFeverDreamsgent experiences, I was wary, but finally agreed.

I made my next book sale myself (wheel up!), then had my agent “negotiate” the deal. (Big mistake. Don’t even get me started.) Alas, that initially promising publishing relationship soon ended when the editor was laid off, the imprint folded, and the publisher unceremoniously released my sole book for them as a straggling remnant in a dead program. (Wheel down.) No one there ever answered my calls again. (Fever Dreams is now available as an ebook.)

My agent gave me valuable input on revising the proposal for my next project, a traditional fantasy novel, then sold it for an increase in my usual advance level. (Wheel up!)

That initially promising situation, however, disintegrated into the most pointlessly demoralizing and frustrating experience of my career. Things became so destructively stressful that, after a lifetime of robust good health, I started experiencing chronic stress-illnesses. That editor has recently left his position, in the wake of a sexual harassment complaint—which happens to be the only problem that I did not have with him.

ILBThe wheel turned so far down, just getting out of bed became hard. I decided that if this was the sort of treatment I had been working toward for more than a decade as a novelist… then I had to rethink my position. It was time to look at new territory as a writer.

So I applied to graduate school and was accepted into a respected master’s degree program in journalism, where I was offered a full scholarship and (later on) a fellowship to intern at The Associated Press in Jerusalem.

I realized that, with a full-time grad school course-load, and a part-time job as a research assistant, and a book to finish, I would no longer be able to deal with the kind of stress I’d been experiencing in recent years, which I found both time-consuming and energy-draining. So I emphatically insisted on being reassigned to a different editor, against my agent’s advice; and then I terminated my association with the agent, who had by then spent several years blockading and stalling my requests for editorial reassignment. (The wheel spent some time stuck in the mud.)

With those particular factors out of my working life… my health recovered immediately. All trace of the illnesses which had plagued me with increasing intensity for the past couple of years disappeared completely and within days. The shelf-dates on my various painkillers, antacids, skin salves, and sleep aids all expired without my ever using them again.

I also soon sold more books elsewhere. (Wheel up!) And I hired another agent to negotiate the deal. (Stupid and very expensive mistake. Really, do not get me started.)

After I finished graduate school and completed my overseas journalism internship, the first thing that happened was… Luna Books, which had done a poor job of publishing Disappearing Nightly, canceled my contract and dumped me. My (fourth) agent promptly went from being dismissive and disengaged to treating me like a leper with halitosis, and we soon parted company.

Down, down, down.

(Yes, there are lots of good reasons so many writers have turned to self-publishing.)

I lay there for a while, trying to get my breath back after this latest sucker punch, then scraped myself off the tarmac, put my wheel back on the road, sent out queries and submissions. I got rejected by various agents and decided to give up once-and-for-all on the agent-author business model (we’ll talk about that some other time). But I soon got a good offer from DAW Books, a major sf/f program (which has been my genre ever since leaving romance).

DopplegangsterUp, up, up! 

I’ve been at DAW ever since and am very happy there. My sixth book for them, The Misfortune Cookie, is coming out this November; they reissued Disappearing Nightly after I got the rights back; and I have recently signed a contract through my 10th book for them.

But I know from long experience that there is no finish line in this profession. The road never ends. Sometimes you’re up, sometimes you’re down; the wheel never stops turning. The long haul career writer is simply the one who stays on the road through all the ups and downs.

 *****

Laura Resnick, the author of more than 60 short stories and nearly 30 books, currently has multiple fantasy novels in production or under contract. She is an opinion columnist for Nink and a former president of Novelists, Inc. The winner of several Romantic Times awards and the John W. Campbell Award, she has been a Rita Award finalist, and several of her books have made Year’s Best lists. Most of her backlist is now available in ebook format, and her website is at LauraResnick.com.

 

Convention Diary

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Thursday

Leave home for weekend away, to be guest at writers convention.

At airport security, as usual, am mistaken for terrorist and am required to become uncomfortably well-acquainted with security team.

Am eventually released to go sit in lounge, trapped among people screaming into cell phones (“I’m at the airport now. The airport. The airport… Where are you?”) and televisions screaming thrilling world news (Obama puppy learns to walk on leash!). Then airline employee starts screaming out “group numbers” for boarding plane.

Employee never screams my group number, evidently having grown weary and disillusioned before reaching it. So I board without permission, moments before plane pulls away from gate.

Flight attendant barks at me: “Bag! There! Now!”

I stare in blank confusion. “Pardon?”

She again barks, “Bag! There! Now!”

“Pardon?”

We do this several more times.

I then propose she experiment with complete sentences. She does (and I am now Troublemaker). It turns out I have been assigned only seat on plane without place to stow cherished personal belongings, which I must now give to barking flight attendant for duration of flight.

We fly to distant airport, where I have five-year layover among screaming cell phones and TVs before boarding next plane. Upon “deplaning” at final destination, sturdy young soldier recently returned from Iraq untangles himself from his tiny seat next to my tiny seat and says he feels like we’ve been imprisoned on a slave ship. I agree.

Arrive at convention hotel, wondering why I do these things.

Hospitable convention committee gives me cold water, food, and honorarium check, which reminds me why I do these things. Having spent entire day in transit, I unpack suitcase and fall into hotel bed.

 

 Friday

Hospitable convention committee takes guests sight-seeing in convoy of cars. I wind up sharing backseat with colleague of one of my former agents. (I have so many former agents, this sort of thing bound to happen.) Also on today’s tour is editor from publisher that dumped me. (Ditto.)

Shy teenager on tour turns out to be another literary agent, not offspring of local convention volunteer. (Oops.) Works at one of my former agencies. (See?)

Return to hotel in time to do workshop where another agent (from agency I once queried), another editor (no one I know!), and I evaluate attendees’ prose. This is torture for me. Had I bothered to read schedule before boarding plane to come here, would have asked instead to be thrown off a train or fed to lions. My profession is working on my manuscripts, not evaluating anyone else’s manuscripts. But acquit self as best I can, then head for bar.

At dinner, am required to sit at assigned table and be available to interested attendees.

Overhear attendees say, “All the good seats are taken, I guess we’ll have to sit here,” a moment before they sit down at my table.

No one at table sits next to me. Chairs empty on either side of me. I suggest someone might like to sit closer to me. No response.

After a fashion, nearest person on left asks me, “Are you any relation to Mike Resnick, the science fiction writer?”

I respond, “Yes, he’s my dad.”

Ten minutes later, nearest person on right asks me, “Are you any relation to Mike Resnick?” [Old man will enjoy this. Must make sure he never finds out.]

Otherwise, not much said to me throughout meal.

I go to bar after dinner. Local friends (who know from long experience where to look for me) show up at hotel bar to say hello. Nice surprise!

We discuss recent convention at which I was guest, where a man in a kilt told me at breakfast about shooting his former lover. His current lover, also a man in a kilt, seemed unalarmed by this.

Later, preparing for bed in hotel room, discover that—due to national shortage of terrycloth?—only one towel in bathroom.

 

Saturday

Give morning workshop that is surprisingly well attended, considering that no one at convention, as far as I can tell, has ever heard of me.

Give luncheon speech. Realize halfway through speech, which is aimed at writers, that agents—of whom there are about ten in audience—come off slightly less well in speech than, for example, diseased pimps. Notice that, for rest of weekend, no agent makes eye contact or comes within thirty feet of me.

However, many compliments on speech from attendees. Therefore, confidently expect better dinner experience tonight…

At assigned dinner table tonight, overhear attendees say, “All the good seats are taken, I guess we’ll have to sit here,” a moment before they sit down at my table.

Not much said to me for rest of meal.

Dinner speaker is bestselling author who gives hilarious speech in manner of Bridget Jones Diary. Decide to steal this idea.

 

Sunday

Arrive at airport for epic journey to humble home. After obligatory mistaken-for-terrorist incident, am trapped in lounge among people screaming into cell phones (“I’m at the airport. The airport. The airport… Where are you?”), televisions screaming thrilling world news (Obama puppy resolves Middle East crisis!), and airline employee screaming at all of us (“Do not board the plane until your group number is called!”).

Spend full day in transit. Return home to find… have received invitation to be guest at another writers convention.

Heigh ho, the glamorous life.

*****

Laura Resnick is the author of the popular Esther Diamond urban fantasy series, whose releases include Disappearing Nightly, Doppelgangster, Unsympathetic Magic, Vamparazzi, Polterheist, and The Misfortune Cookie (November 2013). She has also written traditional fantasy novels such as In Legend Born, The Destroyer Goddess, and The White Dragon, which made multiple “Year’s Best” lists. An opinion columnist, frequent public speaker, and the Campbell Award-winning author of more than sixty short stories, her Website is at LauraResnick.com.

The Long Haul: Writing Process

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Writing may be “fun” or a like rolling off a log for some writers, but other writers—me, for example!—pass through varied and treacherous landscapes during the decades we spend writing book after book after book, year after year after year: hairpin bends in the road, steep hills, flooded-out paths, lions, and tigers, and bears. And sometimes we get stuck on the wrong side of a huge rockslide or arrive thirsty at a well only to discover it’s dry as a bone. What then?

Although I’d had a few long, dry patches in my writing process before, I nonetheless came through years of a very rough career and reached a safe harbor where I was under contract to a very good, supportive publisher that really liked my books and paid me well… And I promptly froze.

I got terrific feedback and enthusiasm from them on the first book I’d delivered there; and since I’ve written for places where delivering a book was like sending it into a black hole, I really appreciated their response. I started work on the next one, wrote about 60 pages… And then I just froze. I had characters, I had a plot, I could visualize some scenes… But I just could not move the cursor one word forward.

This went on for months. We reached a point where there was going to be a big blank hole on the bookstands where my next book was supposed to be, my publishers were tearing their hair out, and I was jeopardizing the first really good publishing relationship of my career—with a book I really wanted to write. And I didn’t know why. I am no a self-saboteur. But I couldn’t unfreeze.

So at the advice of a very experienced writing friend who’d found her helpful, I consulted writing coach April Kihlstrom, who wrote many novels before becoming a creativity coach.

I was pretty skeptical, because I’d dealt with two creativity coaches in the past, and it hadn’t been at all helpful. Essentially, I had too much experience. They were trained to help a timid newcomer find “the courage to write.” Whereas I was someone who’d written books while the phone was ringing off the hook with threatening calls from collections agencies, my then-agent was denigrating me as a loser, and I knew I’d have to deliver the finished book to an abusive editor. So burning a candle, getting a massage, or thinking nurturing thoughts about myself wasn’t going to help with my current problem.

However, the friend who steered me to April was even more experienced than I, she’s someone whose sense I’ve always respected, and she had found April helpful (for a different problem—a series of tight deadlines meant she had to find a way to increase her usual writing pace), after all. And unlike other creativity coaches I had encountered, April had been where I was now—wrestling the 20th or 30th book to the ground. And it also wasn’t as if I had anything to lose at that point; I was still completely stuck. So I contacted April.

And as a result of that, I wound up finishing that book, Unsympathetic Magic, in about six weeks. So, obviously, working with April was tremendously helpful. UnsympMag

FYI, in my case, it was basically one consultation in writing and one by phone, and I think my total fee was about $80—but that was several years ago, so fees may be higher now. So it quite a bargain for me, given what a difference it made. I also consulted April before starting my next book, since I was still rather anxious and wanted the process to go smoothly. And I think it likely I will consult her in future, when facing new problems or challenges in my work.

What I learned from working with April was that I had changed along the way, so my writing process needed to change, too. I was still doing the exact same things I’d always done, even though they were no longer working for me. So I was by now the very definition of insanity: doing the same things over and over, and expecting a different result. And since I had gone months with my old processes no longer working for me, I had by now turned my keyboard and my manuscript into a place where I failed, and failed, and failed, which dug my psychological pit deeper and deeper.

So we talked about changing various work habits. Some of the things we tried worked so well, it’s still the way I work now. Other habits did not work, and I quickly stopped using them. Some habits we discussed are things that I think might work, but I still haven’t got around to trying them, since I soon found things that were working–and I tend not to mess with what works.

To give just one example, I had spent months sitting at the keyboard unable to think of what the write. That had become my pattern. So my new habit was that, once I started writing again, every time I froze–stopped typing, didn’t know what to type next–I couldn’t sit there and try to think of it. Because that had led to months of failure for me. The moment I went blank, I had to get up and go do something else for 10 minutes. (As a result, I had the best-pruned plants in the world that season.) Then I could come back to my keyboard with my brain rebooted and start typing again. The idea was to break the pattern of the keyboard as a place where I sat blanking out, and to reset is as a place where I’m productive. For 2-3 weeks, this meant I got out of my chair every 100 words… but in the course of doing that, I could write 1500 words a day. Compared to the 0 words that I had been writing for months.

Note: This is not necessarily what April—or, in general, a good coach—would suggest to you or anyone else. All of the techniques and habits we explored were specific to me. For example, I like making lists; it calms me and helps me get clarity. I also need lists, because I have a bad memory. So my new strategies include 2-3 different kinds of lists that I make each day while working. For someone who hates lists, obviously, this would probably bomb.

To give a different example of changes and adaptations when writing over the long haul of a career, I sustained an eye injury in 2011 that was so painful and debilitating that I was taking 4-8 Vicodin per day for about 2 months. After I recovered enough to stop taking those pills, I discovered that  heavy narcotic use had affected my little blonde brain. I was so fuzzy and dull for a while (my doctor postulates that I was in withdrawal), it took a few months before I could write comedy competently again; so the first 100 pages of Polterheist is version 3.5 of that book.

Polterheist---smallI also really struggled with my usual start-to-finish linear way of writing a book. This time, it felt like punishment instead of my normal mode of thinking. After struggling for almost 2 months… it finally occurred to me to go ahead and try writing whatever scenes I felt like writing, and I started skipping all over the book. And it worked. It got me productive again. It was a little nerve-wracking, in terms of pace and continuity, to quilt that book together under a tight deadline (the months I couldn’t function meant I was far behind schedule, and I had declined my publisher’s earlier offer to postpone publication), but it worked–and I got it done by changing my approach, since I had changed.

Obviously, changes can also include how you think about the work or how you approach it. A friend of mine who’s been writing professionally for many years recently said she thinks she may need to start outlining; she feels that her longtime seat-of-the-pants method of writing a book isn’t working as well as it used to for her. Some writers change genres after experiencing a life change. And so on.

There are undoubtedly career writers who function exactly the same way on their 70th book as they did on the 2nd. But for many writers, including me, changes in ourselves over the long haul lead (sometimes in a pathetically stumbling, random way) to changes in our process.

 * Housekeeping note: This isn’t my actual website (yet). It’s my practice site for learning WordPress, with which I’m going to rebuild my elderly website this year. Until then, my regular website is at: http://lauraresnick.com/

How Is Self-Publishing GOOD for Traditionally Published Writers?

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There seems to be a fairly common misconception that traditionally published writers are “against” self-publishing aka indie publishing, dismiss it, don’t understand it, are afraid of it, etc.

I assume that erroneous impression is created by the most-discussed, most-visible (and most misinformed) commentaries from traditionally published authors—the comments that characterize self-publishing as destroying literature, books, publishing, and civilization itself!

However, speaking as a traditionally published writer (I’ve sold about 30 books to about half a dozen publishers over the years and am currently under contract), most of us are a lot smarter than that—indeed, most of us have had to be very smart to survive (let alone occasionally thrive) for years in traditional publishing.

More to the point, most of us are self-publishing. We’re elbow-deep in it, and we’re very excited about it. Indeed, Novelists, Inc. (Ninc), the professional writing organization I belong to, has focused much of its annual conference and its monthly journal, Nink (for which I’m a columnist), on self-publishing for the past 2-3 years—precisely because it’s such an important avenue for the working writer.

By way of disclosure, I was very skeptical about self-publishing in 2009, when strangers first started talking about it to me, precisely because I had by then endured 20 years meeting people who knew absolutely nothing about the business, telling me that by spending $12,000 to vanity-publish their novel (so they could corner total strangers like me and urge us to buy it), they were making a much smarter choice than I was by licensing my books for decent money to publishing corporations with national distribution. The fact that, of the two of us in those conversations, I was always the one making my full-time living as a writer and they were always deep in the $ hole, rarely altered their position. That sort of consistent experience for 20 years does make you a tad skeptical the next time someone with shaky social skills turns up and starts screeching at you about how their self-publishing venture is brilliant and you’re just an idiot—a dinosaur! a house slave! a tragic wretch! a Whore of Babylon! Read the rest of this entry

Self-Publishing Is Destroying the WORLD! Oh, nooooooo!

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A blog called Good eReads posted a piece the other day titled Self-Published Authors Are Destroying Publishing. I’m burning the midnight oil these days to finish an overdue book this month, as well as stalling an editor to whom I’ve owed a short story for a while, and I recently had to spike the draft of my next Nink column for various reasons and have no idea what I’m going to write instead.

So, naturally, I took the time out to react to the Good eReads blog. Let’s start by looking at this quote from the Good eReads piece:

“One thing indie authors have done is devalue the work of legitimate published authors. You know the type that write for a living, who have an editor and are considered accomplished, or at least well-read. The average indie title is $0.99 to $2.99, and the average publisher price is $7.99 – $12.99. Book buyers have been so conditioned to paying as little as possible that often they will not even consider a more expensive book.”

Okay, I am a traditionally published author, writing is my full-time self-supporting living, I’m currently under contract to a publisher (where I hope to remain under contract for many years to come), with about 30 books sold to various publishers over the  years. And I am not feeling at all devalued. Witness me feeling my value unmenaced!

I’m also in complete disagreement with the premise of this piece that self-published ebook pricing represents devaluation of books whereas publisher ebook prices represent a position of valuable books, authors, and literature that’s now under threat. Read the rest of this entry

Thoughts from a different Resnick

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My father, Mike Resnick, has courteously left me out of the current controversy, which I appreciate. I also appreciate that almost everyone else has left me out of it, too. Not quite everyone, though, so this is my clarification. I hope (perhaps in vain) that it will eliminate speculation.

First of all, I don’t discuss, allude to, or comment on my family in public, among strangers, online, or with anyone in the writing/publishing world or in related areas (such as fandom or SFWA). Anyone who has ever balanced or who can imagine balancing a filial relationship with a professional life can no doubt understand this choice. I will say, however, that I have seen many rumors circulated about me over the years with regard to my father (ex. in one version, I don’t even exist, but am merely his pseudonym; in another, I have married him). My dad always apologizes to me for these gaffs, though they are certainly not his fault. They’re just the typical result of rumor and speculation—much like a comment I’ve seen lately, made by a total stranger blogging about my father, that casts his daughter (that would me) as a brainwashed bubblewit.

(Just ask my father how much influence he’s had on his daughter. Go on, ask. It’ll be fun.)

Moving on to the sf/f world… A couple of months ago, I was interviewed for an upcoming book called Writing Science Fiction & Fantasy (Writers Digest Books, due out this fall) and one of the things I said, which is in the book as far as I know, is that I wasn’t interested in sf/f as a young reader because I found it such a “guy” genre, i.e. women in sf/f fiction were too often absent or cardboard cutouts, and too seldom protagonists. Later, when I started writing, I thought that launching a writing career was challenging enough without also trying to do it in a genre where it certainly seemed to me that my gender would be a drawback. So I chose to write romance, a genre where being a woman was typical rather than problematic, and where I sold more than a dozen books. Read the rest of this entry