Tag Archives: Publishing

The Real Cost of Amazon’s Bullying of Penguin: A Musing Quickie

I think my biggest problem lies with Amazon’s (latest) bullying attempt.  Once consumers/ readers get it in their heads that, not only ebooks, but hardcovers as well are only worth $9.99, an already fledgling industry will [quite possibly] become even more so.  Book sales overall could even go down, negating the influx we’ve seen as of late from eBooks.

Right now, Amazon ostensibly takes a loss on every book they sell at $9.99 because they initially buy them from the publisher for $13.00 – 14.00.  They are trying to do, in my opinion, what Apple did early on with iTunes and this trying to create an enormous install base of users (this time, think Kindle), upon which time they’ll likely jack the prices of eBooks back up once their competition (the iPad, Nook, and Co.) have been sufficiently stamped out–content-wise (Amazon saw Apple’s iPad as a serious enough threat to its Kindle to create an app for its competitor enabling it to read the Kindle’s eBooks).

Though for an historical example of exactly this type of scenario, just look at Apple’s iTunes and the amount of single songs that have now jumped to $1.29 from the $0.99 they ubiquitously once were, and consider that it might be an indicator of [again, possible] things to come …

Fortunately, at least one Publishing House gets it and has the right idea.  This video certainly gives hope to those of us who still want to earn our crust by putting words on pages: http://bit.ly/aB4ucs (Watch the whole thing from start to finish, it’s only 2:26 long; the pay off is well worth it!)
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OK, The Recap [part 1 of 2] of the rest of the AWP Conference (finally!)

I figure I can only entertain my 6 or 7 readers (which are most likely comprised of family members and possibly 2 friends) with excerpts of my novel for so long before they want actual writerly info–which is what I assume a lot of web-surfing writerly types search other writer’s sites/blogs for anyway.

So, OK–here goes: I wish that I could regurgitate more information from the David Shields et al panel on Blurring the Lines Between Fiction/ Nonfiction/Memoir/Etc., but the fact it, it was absolutely freezing in the auditorium and I was severely underdressed.  One interesting quote Shields had where James Frey was concerned was: “Frey should be a better liar.”  Essentially, Shields is in favor of not just blurring the lines and boundaries between the genres of wrting, but completely obliterating them.  See herehere and here.

The next panel was called From MFA Thesis to First Novel, which I thought was pretty good. Number one: Be a writer [even if it takes 4 – 5 years (or more)].  How long it takes [to “make it”] will always vary. Write the book you want to write and don’t worry about what other people are doing.  These are ostensibly direct quotes.  Another great tip was stop rewriting the same scenes and write the book to the end; finish it!  Don’t get daunted by “experts” and forays into fact-checking—Learn, revise, move on. Disheartening things happen.  Be prepared to revise, revise, let it go and revise it again.

Keep in mind that query letters are your first introduction to agents and editors–make it pop! Let your voice really come through. Calm down and enjoy being a writer.  The business is slow; it’ll wait for you.  “Making it” (whatever “it” is) will not happen when you want it to OR how you expect it to.  Oh, and these are good tips too: A) Meet an agent before you sign B) Novels are easier to sell, C) Research agents a lot!

If you are in an MFA program, take full advantage!  Cross-pollinate genres; don’t pigeonhole yourself.  Apply for contests, grants, awards, scholarships, fellowships—everything out to which you can get your name.  Finish your novel first; don’t send it to publishers before it’s ready.  And it’s a good idea to have an expiration date on your query letters; don’t let them have it forever.

The final panel for this update was Insider Strategies for Getting Your Book Published.  Agent, Jeff Herman, began the panel by reminding everyone that, “Just because your writing is good doesn’t mean that it’s going to get published,” which I think is really sage advice for the unpublished writer.  “No one is entitled to be published—regardless of talent.”

So, then: how do you do it?  Just because your dog likes your book isn’t good enough.  Sometimes, deals do get made by someone discovering (read: stumbling upon) your manuscript in the publisher’s gigantic slush pile (which, if you are unpublished, without an agent, your manuscript will wind up)—which is more like a slush warehouse or largishly-sized room—but it’s extraordinarily rare.  There are, unfortunately, invisible walls within the publishing world.

Determination can help you overcome these walls, however.  Walls are made by humans—keep hustling!  You have to help create the demand for your book; don’t let yourself get weeded out.  Make connections. Get an agent.  The rest, I’ve already pretty much written about.  Keep in mind that agents get you access to the right people.  Just don’t be arrogant about the marketing.  Be discerning and pitch multiple agents simultaneously.  “Don’t tell [agents] what you don’t have; tell [them] what you do have.”

The rest of the conference panel recaps I’ll post tomorrow—I promisefor realz this time.  Later!

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