J to tha M: What We’re Reading

Discover New Books

bad hockey romance

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J: I read a book last night

I wanted to stop, but I couldn’t sleep

so on I read

it was cute

tired trope, but still cute

M: Oh, yes?

J:  I liked the hero so much I kept going

Falling for Her Fiance by Cindi Madsen

one of those BFFs turned lovers while pretending to be engaged things

M:  I’m not a huge fan of the fake marriage or engagement trope

but I am willing to overlook a lot if I like the hero

J:  he was the everyguy

and the heroine was one of those girls I couldn’t get mad at

she had her personal issues, her reasons for holding back, but they weren’t the usual madness

they were more family and financial, which was a breath of fresh air

of course, there was past-love drama

but they weren’t villains

and the hero, adorable and likeable, just kind of fell softly

hints at how he was protective of her before realizing his feelings

how he’d drop everything for her, but not in a whipped, she-demands-it way

M:  ooh, I do like that

J:  so yeah. They were very likeable

I rooted for them

and she spends most of the story thinking he’s still in love with his ex and tries to do the right thing by letting him go

because, believe it or not, his ex is actually a nice person

M:  that’s a nice change

J:  see?

there wasn’t a thing about it that made me >.<

even as used as the trope may be

M:  I can read it if it’s done well and with originality.

make me believe, you know?

J:  yes

then there was Kathryn Quick’s Ineligible Bachelor

Also another BFF turned lovers

also cute and well done

also an adorable hero

though there was some “we hate skinny bitches”

but it worked, because, well, who doesn’t believe women who go on reality shows are looking for attention?

M:  that sounds fun and different

J:  it was cute

you know me and my fluffcloud

don’t mess with it

M:  I do tend to take a blowtorch to your fluffcloud sometimes

J:  you do

M:  I read a couple this week, but there were issues – suspension of disbelief, editing, the slightly overdone/predictable/typical dramz

but they had all the feels and really swoony heroes

Listed by Noelle Adams and Translation of Love by Alice Montalvo-Tribue

I think one was 99 cents and one was free

so, worth the shot

J:  ohhhhhh, Listed. A bucket-list marriage

bucket-list books are always iffy

M:  The heroine suffers from a mysterious virus that will kill her in 3 months

hence the suspension of disbelief. it was a little convenient, but it was explained better than I’d anticipated later in the book

J: and a reformed bad boy

fully reformed or just simmering under the surface?

M:  Oh, yes, the hero – Paul – was great

and it wasn’t insta-love or sex, but nicely developed

and he was just super swoony

super rich, of course, also convenient

but the story was pretty well-written and had a lot of feels despite that

J:  did you finish Elizabeth Hunter’s new one – Blood and Sand – already?

M: Almost done. I’ll finish this afternoon

seeeexyyy

I wasn’t sure what to expect, but yeah

I really like. That was my winner of the week, hands down

J: Also, August can’t get here soon enough for the next Kate SeRine

M: Hah – so you liked the first two in the series?

J:  jeebus, yes

M:  I love her imagination

J:  seriously

I want to roll around in it

plus her heroes are delicious

utterly

M:  They are. So sexy and masculine without being all Alphaholey

J:  yes! gah

Nate in RED was just so

so

*shiver*

dangerous and dark and sweet and…

I loved Seth in the second book, but for some reason, Nate spoke to me

the whole loving from afar thing always gets me

M:  Nate was such a perfect balance of studly and vulnerable without going too far in either direction

it’s hard to hit that perfect balance in a romance hero

how we like to see men that are sensitive but still *men*

and it seems I’ve read too many lately that have been way wrong

J:  hahahaha

the sobbing hockey player?

M:  ugh

I hate to speak ill of anyone’s hard work, I really do

especially when I know other readers are enjoying it, even if I didn’t

but…yes. I had to bail when the hero is on his bedroom floor in a ball sobbing and clutching the ring he was about to give the heroine moments before The Big Misunderstanding

and the hero’s sister, because she’s mad he hasn’t called her in two months, kicks him in the gut so hard he spends the rest of the scene puking

O.O

and >.<

Who does that?

J: I know you want me to read and form my own opinions, but life’s too short

M:  Well, a lot of people really like it, and that’s cool. It just wasn’t for me. I was barely hanging on until that point, but that was my “I’m out” moment

I don’t mind some Misunderstandings, as long as they’re somewhat reasonable and believable

but when they make me throw my hands up and be all “normal people do not DO that!”

but again, I do realize a lot of the time that’s just me

I have a tendency to, you know, ask questions, listen, and talk to people before I throw a total conniption and refuse to have any contact with them for months

J:  exactly

M:  although I haven’t had a good conniption in a while.

brb

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J to tha M: The New Adult Revolution

J and M Plot a New Adult Novel

New Adult genre

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J: After reading Jeanette Grey, Nichole Chase, and Jennifer Iacopelli, i’m liking the new adult genre

I think I’m going to angle the new book as new adult

M: I’ve read a couple that have been good. Jeanette’s Take What You Want for sure.

but I really enjoy good UST, and a lot of the YA, NA, whatever/A seem to replace the sexual tension with just holy-crap-over-dramatic angst.

J: yeah

they’re all wounded boy/abused girl

hate hate hate then screw

so I pounce when I find one that isn’t, even if it’s too sweet

M: yeah, there’s been a couple I considered checking out that people have raved about, but angst for the sake of angst, just to pull a response from the reader, tends to irritate me

I’m scared I’ll just be annoyed

J: yeah

if it says anything about a dark secret or whatever, I avoid

M: usually just annoys me instead of tugging at my emotions

J: or a hidden past

M: ugh

J: or worse, a dark past

M: the boy is wooooounded

the girl was raped. Ya know, that’s not the only background “reason” for angst, and it’s so overused anymore, which causes its own problems. But that’s a discussion for another day.

J: HIDDEN SECRETS AND DARK PASTS!

alcoholic father

M: all excuses to be a dick

J: exactly

I don’t want to write that

“I’m no good for you. I’m going to kiss/fuck you and then run away forever!”

M: I read one that’s a new adult. It’s selling like crazy on Amazon

Broken Beyond Redemption or Damaged Past Caring or something like that. Probably not that exactly, but you know what I mean.

J: oh no

M: and oi

J: not with a title like that

DARK SECRETS, M

M: it was just stupid

stupid stupid.

PEOPLE DON’T ACT LIKE THAT!

EVER!

J: hahaha

I’m starting to think we should plot out a New Adult book

seriously

and throw in the craziest things we can think of

M: every damaged Alphahole with mommy issues who turns to BDSM and the girl who was raped by her cousin’s brother’s best friends lover saves him with her pure and innocent love

add in slutty best friend with drug problems

who secretly is in love with Alphahole and wants him for herself

J: who likes to dress her up like a barbie doll

oh, yours is better

the guy’s best friend gets a little fresh a little too often with her

and tortured hero beats the crap out of him at a party one night

and she’s all “you kicked your best friend’s ass over me? It must be love!”

and he’s all “whoa, whoa, let’s not use that word.”

M: oh, yes. He has to beat the crap out of everyone. That’s love, not anger issues and violent tendencies

J: and she’s all “I’ll love you if I want to. I just won’t say it. Instead, I’ll mope around for six months while you spiral into a deep depression and take to cutting yourself.”

M: and Tattoos

he has to have Tattoos

capital “T”

J: of course he does

big scary ones

M: because he’s wooooounded

poor little Alphahole

J: but they have to be hidden by a long-sleeve shirt for his day job at a call center

but they’re just fine for his night job as a bar back at the hottest club in town

I mean, his dad gambled away all their money, so he has to pay his way through college somehow

sorry, his dad drank all their money. DARK PAST!

M: yes, he works at a call center saving kittens and rainbows

J: but no one can know about it

M: between beating the crap out of people because he lurves her

J: except the sweet, batty old lady that manages the employees

(comic relief)

M: oh, yes. And, we forgot about the fiery attraction

dueling for dominance tongues

and not knowing where she ends and he begins

J: we can add that in around the dickishness

where it makes the least sense, of course

like after he’s beaten the shit out of someone

M: and flashed his tattoos

J: Tattoos. Capital “T” remember

M: OH!

and he’s in a band

*nods*

J: of course he is

he plays bass

no

bass players are too laid back

he’s definitely the broody lead singer

M: No, moody, sexy lead singer

haha – you just said that

J: sometimes we scare me

I’m gonna go mull our new hero

brb

J to tha M: Twitter for Marketing?

Oh, the Twitter Woes

J: Twitter is kind of driving me bonkers

M: Twitter always drives me bonkers

J:  my irritation is with authors who schedule twitter posts and then spam the hell out of people all day long with nothing but advertisements for themselves

or maybe even for others

but have zero engagement

M: some people only use it for that – promotion and marketing.

J:  and the >.< isn’t so much about scheduling posts

that’s all well and good

I use it for marketing, too

the >.< is when I open my twitter and the first 20 tweets are from the same author about various things

four times a day? fabulous!

every second? I hate you.

M: I don’t even know how to schedule tweets

J: you do use the auto post buttons from blogs

the “tweet this” feature

I actually pay attention to those

and find new books through yours

M: Oh, yeah, I do that for things I think are interesting to share or to help other people spread the word

J:  I think you’re doing it right

not only are you not posting 1,000,000 times per day about yourself

you’re using twitter to spread the word about others

M: I’m all about that

I know I “should” use it more, but I don’t enjoy it

I tried to get into it, I really did. You’re so active and in a good way on facebook, twitter

but I just can’t

J:  I do miss silly tweeting with you sometimes, but you’re not filling my timeline with auto-tweets, so we’re cool

M: what’s the point of auto tweets? Just to sell stuff?

J:  yes

M: I mean, isn’t the point of twitter to be interactive?

J:  yes

now you get me

M: well, that’s why I don’t use it so much. I don’t feel interactive enough. I like sharing cool things, or things that interest me

that might interest others

J:  but that is interactive, see? the sharing information

that’s what it’s about

YOU’RE DOING IT RIGHT!

M: but here’s my thing – I hate things only being about numbers, and that’s what twitter has kind of turned into. How many followers, who unfollowed. It’s too much like cliques in high school or something sometimes

J: It doesn’t have to be that way

M: Here’s the other thing – I can’t read all the tweets. So what’s the point of having followers or being followed if no one reads them?

this is what baffles me about Twitter

I have blah-de-blah number of followers. Great.

but what good is it if no one reads my tweets?

J:  I do try to track certain people who interact with me, but I also find it rewarding to scroll through the last hour or so of my full list of follows just to see things I might have otherwise missed

but this is where I get my >.<

M: can you really read tweets of the multiple thousands of people you follow?

J:  I DO actually pay attention to all that I follow

not all the time, which is why social media experts suggest tweeting at least four times per day

to reach the optimal number of people

M: that’s the finding a balance thing, isn’t it?

what twitter and other social media were maybe originally intended for and what they’ve ended up being

I don’t like the hypocritical “I hate twitter, but I’ll use it to sell my stuff”

to me that just seems wrong

it should be about interacting with people, but it seems to be all about gaining numbers and not really caring about people behind those numbers

J:  we both use Twitter for the same reasons, which are to engage and inform. I’m more comfy sharing personal stuff than you are, but it doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong. Most of my personal stuff is just making fun of Liam

and I’m cool with people tweeting about their lives, too

that’s interesting

well, those who tweet everything they do are also on my list

please don’t tell me you’re folding laundry on twitter

unless it’s part of a conversation, which is a whole other story

M:   if you’re just telling people you’re folding laundry, that’s not interacting

connecting, catching up, I can totally see that

but otherwise… I don’t know

J: but I do know a lot of my followers would be interested in some of the stuff I do. probably not all of them

I mean, if you tweeted pics of your dogs, I’d look at them

because it’s you

and your dogs

M: it does go back to your original point – oversharing whether it’s personal or professional

there’s an author in my list of people I follow that is auto tweeting the exact same thing from over a year ago

the exact same marketing/promotion message for the book

o.O

that’s not only annoying, it’s lazy

J:  there!

that’s exactly what I’m talking about

M: i don’t get it. as a reader, writer, or sometimes twitter user

J:  and chances are that’s the only damn thing she/he posts

that’s where I was going with it

M: and that goes back to my question: how does that help anyone if no one actually reads it?

J:  it doesn’t

it does nothing but annoy me

so this chat is my PSA to anyone who does that

STOP

the ones in your timeline really are probably pre-scheduled

which means that author opened twitter, scheduled tweets, and then never opened twitter again

so what they’re really doing is alienating potential readers

M: well, I’m not a big Twitter user, but that’s just my weirdness, so I’m not the best judge

J:  just for that, we should tweet-read another book together

M: it’d have to be a really spectacular book to get me on Twitter. Let me go find one.

brb

J to tha M: What We’re Writing

J Writes Erotica?!

tips for writing erotica

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J:  I had this big epiphany for a new book, but I’m not entirely sure how to make it work.

A reluctant hit woman.

M: It’s hard to make those sympathetic. Or would it be satire?

J: I’m not smart enough for satire

it would just be silly chick lit

and of course, she falls in love with the mark

which means he has to be sympathetic

but the real question is…

should I adopt a pen name and make this series erotica?

M:  Well…here’s the thing. You have to write sex pretty well to do that – to write a sexy, intriguing, hot erotic novel or novella. A *good* sexy, intriguing, hot erotic

J:  I could probably do that

maybe

and with you around to whip me into shape…

M:  I’d consider maybe amping up your sex scenes first

I mean, I’m not 100% sure about writing straight out erotica myself

I would need to be sure I at least thought I could give it a fair shot

J:  you mean I should write at least one before I dub myself an erotica author?

M:  I’m still working my skills, thought process, and writing to that point

by all means, give it a shot if it’s in your head and that’s where your characters want to take you

but…

good, not eye-rolly, squicky, or throw-the-book-across-the-room erotica takes a certain mindset and experience writing sex scenes, I think

J:  you’ve got a point. I’m still working on writing good, not eye-rolly, squicky, or throw the book across the room regular scenes

M:  yeah. You have to be comfortable writing those first, I’d say

but who knows – maybe you’ve got a hidden erotica alter ego. Jen Bare-y. Haha.

on the other hand…

J:  which other hand?

there are lots of them.

M:  erotic sex scenes are hard to write. good ones, that is

I seem to remember a story you wrote a chapter of under an alter ego for fun

wasn’t that a foray into more erotic territory?

J:  Oh, I didn’t shy away from writing sex in the past

that was before I realized I sucked at it

M:  Um. You can’t suck at writing sex in erotica

J:  Oh, for a moment, I thought you meant that I can’t suck. As in, I’m incapable of sucking

then I realized what you meant

you weren’t exactly saying I don’t suck, which is fair enough

i’m giggling

and getting funny looks

M:  well, you don’t suck

J:  why, thank you

you keep me in line

M: Howevah, sex scenes are not your strong point. And I think it only makes sense a writer needs to be able to write really strong sex scenes for good erotica, yes?

so I would just put that out there to consider before diving into a full erotic novel

M:  but write the story and characters and see where they take you. That’s the most important thing

J:  fair enough

you do know I’m not actually going to write erotica, right?

I leave all the sex-writing to you

and if you’re not there to do it, I write YA

*nods*

But it is sexy when you lecture me.

M:  yeah. I’m like “Jen? Erotica? Um…How do I put this? I need a drink. A big drink.”

hahaha

Oooh, and I have chocolate vodka

brb

J: …wait. What are you trying to say?

J: Hello?

On Writing: The Silver Lining

Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse, Swimming with Sharks, and Other Gems

Guest post by Niki  Venis

Zombie apocalypseI have a plethora of hobbies. I might even be considered a collector of them, if there’s any such thing at all. I love makeup, and creating new and artistic looks with it. I write (a lot), but I’m not a professional writer. I blog…incidentally, mostly about writing. I take photographs of things and people, for which I have a business license declaring me legal, but I’m not even a professional photographer (though, that one’s debatable depending on how you define “professional”). In fact, the only thing I can claim to be is a mother, and that’s only because I have irrefutable DNA evidence to prove that. So, when my dear friend, Jen, asked me to guest post on this blog, I spent a great many hours internally debating whether or not to even accept. What could I possibly write about that people would want to read? Furthermore, being a professional Nothing, what could I write about that people would actually take seriously? I can tell you the basic guidelines of editing a story by way of the APA, CMOS, or MLA standards, and that rarely will you find two publishing houses in agreement with the way one should properly space around ellipses, but all that would boil down to is a long-winded non-explanation followed by an exasperated sigh and conclusion of “do what you want, because it won’t be right, no matter what.” I could preach to you the usefulness of what I like to call the Tom Sawyer Technique: a basic guideline of reverse psychology and toddler manipulation that all parents need to know before their young ones turn two, but I’m sort of sadistic and rather love watching new parents, who think all those books they’ve read have prepared them for what’s to come, fail in a mushroom cloud of frustration and chaos. I can prattle on for hours on end about ISO settings and F-stops and the rule of thirds, but this isn’t a blog about photography.

So, what does that leave me to write about, then?

Well, the answer came to me rather abruptly yesterday while perusing my Facebook timeline. A friend of mine posted in her status, “If you were my Where the Wild Things Are book, where would you be hiding? To which I promptly replied, “I’d sail off through night and day, and in and out of weeks, and almost over a year.” If you know the book, which I trust you all do, you’ll recognize that line without missing a beat. This brought me to the realization that the one thing I can do, the one thing I feel confident in boasting my skills of, is reading.

I’m a reader. I don’t get paid for it, so I can’t be considered a professional, but I’ve logged many hours between the pages of books in my 28 years (and 48 months) on this planet. My literary roots reach deep, anchoring me in a way nothing else can in this world. From children’s books to classic novels, comic books to derivative fiction, I’ve even pre-read a few published and soon-to-be-published books, spanning countless genres and styles. I’m proud of the diversity of my bookshelves (both tactile and electronic).
It truly breaks my heart knowing that some of the gorgeous, life-altering and eye-opening stories I’ve read will never be shared with the world, never be available to check out at libraries or purchase from the endless rows of wisdom in basement bookstores, or the cherry-polished shelves of Barnes & Noble. Like anything that takes talent, in addition to proper connections to rise up in this world (acting, directing, singing, etc.), writing is a craft often overlooked by the general public as they reach past the freebies (or cheapies) on their way to something with a more appealing or attention grabbing cover.

By now, every person who’s reading this post is familiar with the explosion of popularity in a certain erotic trilogy. This frustrates me to no end for a number of reasons I neither have the time nor energy to get into right now, so we’ll keep it simple, shall we? From a reader’s standpoint, and someone who comes from a long line of tree-hugging hippies, I can say beyond the shadow of doubt, that those books are a travesty. Not only are they a misguided interpretation of the BDSM community, an embarrassment to hard-working, serious writers around the world, and a shameful spotlight of negativity shed on derivative fiction readers and writers in fandoms everywhere, but how many trees had to die for this cock-pushing, BDSM-shaming, woman demeaning piece of steaming…”fiction” to print and sell over 65 million copies? I can practically hear a whole rainforest crying out in protest, begging to be torn down and reincarnated as toilet plunger handles or mousetraps instead.

And now, it’s been announced that the writer (a little fast and loose with that title here, aren’t we, guys?) will soon be releasing a journal of writing tips—

Sorry. Hold, please. I just screen-sprayed chewed up Cheerio’s all over my iPhone.

As one Tweeter mentioned upon hearing this news, “A book about writing by the author of that trilogy is like a cookbook by Ronald McDonald.” Personally, I think this assessment is rather generous. At least Ronald did a bit of research before kicking the doors wide open on the fast food industry. I’m horrified for the people of the BDSM community. Having friends who are part of it has brought me a much better understanding of people who chose to live this lifestyle; an understanding that will never be gained between the pages of such a poorly written and ill researched sack of garble like this one. I’m sure by this point, the writer has seen so much critique on her (non-existent) “technique” that such opinions roll off her like beads of sweat on the forehead of a whore at the Pope’s Inauguration.

I’m always one to look for the silver lining in otherwise dreary situations. And lookie here! I’ve found quite a few different shades of it in these clouds. When the zombie apocalypse hits, we’ll have no shortage of things to shield ourselves, clothe our children, or wipe our asses with.

One can’t be taught if they simply aren’t willing to learn, as proven in this situation. For the rest of us, the writers or would-be/soon-to-be/struggling-to-be authors working hard to produce a legitimately good piece of literature, something they can be genuinely proud of for years to come, the task isn’t as simple as “Oh my,” (smut), impetuous assholeism in a supposedly lovable character, find-replace names, (repeat). It’s hard work, and, as we can learn from tiny fish in a big pond, swimming in schools is not only safer, but makes you more noticeable.

All right, so I haven’t had my second cup of coffee yet, and maybe analogies aren’t my strong suit. What I’m trying to say is don’t let the success of others, no matter how undeserving they may be, tamp down your willingness to do your very best, try your very hardest, and rise up to be the most wonderful you that you can be. Because in the end, the only person you need to compare yourself to is the one you used to be.

Make friends with other authors, and never underestimate the power in numbers. I’d love to propose a sort of “reviewing club” for lesser-known or self published writers, in which the members would take turns passing around their own books in an effort to drive up reviews and draw more attention. If you read it, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re sure to love it, so the more honest, the better. There are just so many little gems I’ve had the pleasure of seeing with my own eyes that are constantly being overshadowed by far less deserving novels with the financial means to shed a brighter spotlight. Authors reviewing each other’s work, one-for-one, many tiny fish swimming together with the same common goal: be big, get noticed, and…don’t let your drive to succeed be eaten by mindless, talentless sharks.

Anything worth doing is worth doing right, even if it isn’t easy.

**

Niki Venis lives in Utah, but is neither Mormon nor Amish (however ardently Jen’s husband wishes she were.) She’s the kickass mom to some kickass boys and loves to tweet their random, scarily intelligent conversations. You can follow her on Twitter @Empty_Spaces or check out her blog.

J to tha M: Buying a Spot on Bestseller Lists

Happy Birthday to M! Here’s Your Bestselling Book.

buying your way to the bestseller list for Fight for Your WriteJ: So, I figured out what I’m going to get you for your birthday today

M: Yay!

J: I’m going to buy you a spot on the bestseller list. That’s a pretty cool gift, right?

ps, my birthday is in September, in case you want to plan ahead

M: uh

J: not awesome?

M: Awesome if you have that kind of money laying around and that you think of me, but…

J: it’s apparently a thing

like, it can happen

I was floored

where was that article…

jasmine referenced it in her blog for us

Melissa: I read about it on my TWRP chat list. One of the authors gave a link

of course, my email crashed this past week, so it may never be found again

J: oh, I found it

http://www.leapfrogging.com/2013/02/18/debunking-the-bestseller-book-sales-spike/

that was a guy who did it

after he read this: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323864304578316143623600544.html

M: Yay, you! My email makes me want to cry still. I’ll get over it in a few days. Anyway…

Yeah. It made me shake my head. Surprised…hmm, not so much, but still.

J: I can’t imagine buying my own way there

but it’s different if you do it for a friend, right?

I don’t know how that would work…

I mean, I consider it like Lance Armstrong or Milli Vanilli

it’s not real

but when someone does it for you… what then?

I can’t imagine a better present than making you a bestseller, but is it real then?

M: I think most people never imagine that kind of stuff happens behind the scenes, so to speak. It’s almost misrepresentation. When you see “bestseller,” you think it’s because individual people are buying the book. Actual readers. Not publishers, companies, affiliates, or a friend who have money burning a hole in their pocket.

J: (I like to look for ways around my conscience, as you can see)

M: I mean, if you have enough money to buy three to five thousand copies of my book, maybe we should use it to rent some tropical seaside cottage with cute cabana boys and try actually writing a bestseller. That sounds like more fun.

or hire a marketing expert to market the book to readers

or just hire those cabana boys. I live by the water. Not exactly tropical, but close enough.

J: i’m coming over

But I totally agree with you. Why not put your resources into doing it right?

is it easy to be proud of a bestseller when you’re the one who bought all the copies?

maybe it is for some. I don’t know. I’m kind of confused by all of it, to be honest

M: But what if it launches a book that deserves to be there into the public eye? What if you use it as simply another line item in your marketing budget?

It’s obviously a very effective way to get your name out there.

bring attention to your book

J: *sigh*

I understand bringing attention to it

but still. it’s false

it’s false inflation

It’s a fake identity

it’s a book photoshopped into the hands of a super-celebrity

maybe it deserves the accolades, but when it doesn’t reach those accolades fairly, what then?

M: I can see the marketing argument. I can the reasoning behind bringing a book to the attention of readers that they will probably like anyway, to distinguish it from all the millions of others. But.

But.

Most readers don’t see the best-seller list as a marketing tool, so to speak.

They think it’s an actual representation of what is being purchased by people like themselves, and liked, and recommended, and then bought by more readers.

J: there are thousands of other writers out there who may have an EVEN BETTER book, but not the means to buy their way onto the list

how is that fair?

I mean, none of it’s fair, and we’d be here all day if we stomped our feet and yelled about what’s fair

but still

M: I guess, like most things, it’s all in how you see things, what conforms to your ethics, and what allows you to sleep at night.

Can’t deny it’s a good marketing tool.

Also can’t deny it happens all the time.

But, being perfectly honest, you also can’t deny it just leaves a bad taste

J: well, if readers all knew, then it would be fair

if they knew people bought good reviews for their books and had basements full of their own copies just to get that spot on the list, that might be fair

and knowing which authors bought that spot and which fucking EARNED it…well, it’s just not that easy

M: Right. If we didn’t think it’s exactly fair, think of the authors who didn’t utilize that neat little trick and earned their way by actually selling copies to readers.

but then, that begs the question, did any of them actually do that?

And to me, that’s where the real damage lies. You start doubting the validity of everything the bestseller list represents

J: also an excellent point. Are these big six books so popular because the publisher can afford to get those books on there?

M: and is it okay because readers ended up really liking the book and bought a million more copies, and that ends up being an honest representation on the list?

J: i just don’t know. I think I’d be upset if I read a book that didn’t deserve to be there and found out later the spot was purchased

I’d feel super cheated

M: I think most readers and authors would

I also think others wouldn’t care.

And still others think it’s a great idea

J: it’s those who think it’s a good idea that govern the rest of the world, too

well, and those who don’t even know it’s going on

M: No matter what you’re involved in, people do crazy things

J: siiiiigh

so no bestseller list for your bday?

appletini instead? I can go either way

M: Let me go find those cabana boys to serve us drinks all day while we write fabulous bestsellers.

brb

buying your way to the bestseller list for Fight for Your Write

freedigitalphotos.net/markuso

Have something to add? Go right ahead! Nothing new to say? Just tell M happy birthday, then! We love hearing from you.

So, You Want to Publish (God Help You)

Various Publishing Methods and Why They’re All SO HARD

Guest Post by Lissa Bryan

Various publishing methods for Fight for Your Write“If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy.” ― Dorothy Parker

You’ve done it. You’ve completed your magnum opus and are now ready to share it with the world, but now you’re faced with the monumental choice of what to do with the damn thing. Writers have a greater range of choices in this regard than ever before, and really, the decision comes down to which method of publishing best suits your goals and the amount of effort you’re willing to personally invest. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks.

Traditional “Big Six” Publishing

This is the typical writer’s dream  when it comes to publishing, but it’s also the most difficult to achieve. Only about one or two percent of manuscripts will be accepted by a Big Six publisher, hereafter referred to as “Bix,” because I’m a lazy typist. (Soon, it will be “Bive” after the merger of Penguin and Random House. I’m really hoping they change their name to “Random Penguin,” but I digress.)

Most Bix companies and their subsidiaries will not accept directly submitted manuscripts. To go this route, you must have an agent, who will shop your manuscript around and attempt to get you the best possible deal if a publisher is interested.  Acquiring an agent is a difficult process in of itself, fraught with many pitfalls for the unwary and eager. The agent will also absorb a cut of your earnings, and most new authors don’t make much.

Going with a Bix company means you will get highly professional editing teams and graphic artists who will design the cover. However, you will sign over most of your creative control. You may be required to make changes to the storyline or re-write portions of the book to make it more marketable. Bestselling author J.R. Ward was recently forced to change an m/m romance storyline in her Black Dagger Brotherhood series to include a female character. You also may have no input whatsoever on what ends up on the cover. Even the highly successful Stephenie Meyer has said she had no control over the cover art for her first three novels.

Then, you wait. It can be up to two years before the book is actually published and on the shelves.

But, hey, you get an advance, right? That helps keep you going in the meantime and to soothe your wounded ego over the changes you had to make. However, the advance an author receives is essentially a loan against future sales. If the book fails to make back the amount of the advance, an author can be sued by the company to return it. And dozens have been.

Still, it will all be worth it to see your book in stores, right? Bix companies have the distribution channels no other form of publishing can match. However, a book’s time on the shelf may be brief, unless it’s a success. Bookstores typically stock a title for a certain number of months, and then return the unsold books to the publisher, so they can use that precious shelf space for another novel. Remember, too, that the big bookstore chains that comprise the majority of Bix publisher’s sales are quietly dying. Borders is gone and Barnes & Noble is teetering on the edge.

The amount of promotion a book is given by the publisher depends on whether a book is “front list” if it’s expected to be a hit, or “mid list” meaning, it might sell moderately well. There’s an old writer’s comic which shows an author and a publisher’s agent in contract negotiations: “We’d like to take your book, change everything about it, put it on the shelves for a few months and do absolutely nothing to promote it.” The days of the promotional book tour are almost over, and more and more, authors are expected to take on promotional duties themselves. The “mid list,” the books on which the publisher takes more of a risk, is shrinking, meaning fewer new authors are given a chance.

In the end, there’s a reason why some mainstream authors are ditching the Bixes and publishing themselves.

“Indie” Publishing

Small, independent publishers are booming, spurred by the ebook revolution and print-on-demand technology.  Look around a bit and check out the quality of the books they publish before you decide whether they’d be a good fit for your book.

Most independent publishers can be approached directly, without an agent, and most have their submission guidelines on their websites. The benefits include more creative control over your work and cover art, and having a professional editing and graphic arts staff to prepare your book for publication. Another benefit is a much quicker publication time, but that means a lot of work in a short period, so be prepared for it.

A book published by an indie likely won’t be found in a chain bookstore. However, your book will be available through online retailers, such as Amazon, and the chain bookstores’ websites may carry your ebook version.

An indie publisher may have a marketing team, but you’ll need to put in effort to help promote the book by getting reviews, guest spots on book websites, etc. It’s a lot of work, building a base of readers.

You’ll also have the added burden of a stigma. There are some who insist that the Bix publishers are the only “real” publishers, even as indie and self-publishing eat up more of their market share every day as the Bixers contract and merge. Your book needs to be squeaky clean when it comes to editing, because reviewers point out any errors they find in indie/self-published books.

That brings us to…

Self-Publishing

This is the do-all-the-work-yourself option. It’s going to require a significant investment both in time and money.  Research carefully the services you use for formatting and publishing your book. They vary widely in price and, apparently, in ethics.

The most important thing you need to remember is, You cannot edit your own manuscript. Nor can your mom, or your friend, unless either of those happen to be a professional editor. You’re going to have to pay for a professional, and a good editor doesn’t come cheap. Your manuscript has to be as clean as a saint’s soul or many people will reject it automatically, even if it has a great story.

This is only copy editing. You also need substantive editing. That means, you need strangers who aren’t worried about hurting your feelings to read the book and tell you the parts that don’t work. Every book has them, but the author usually can’t see them. You don’t want to learn about them from reviewers after the book is published.

And you’re going to face an even greater stigma than those with indie publishers. Despite the ebook revolution, and the incredible success of some authors, there are those who disdain self-publishing. When I was at the Texas Book Fair with my publisher last October, a woman entered our tent and scowled at the booth of my publisher, The Writer’s Coffee Shop. Her husband headed in our direction and she grabbed his arm. “That’s self-publishing,” she said, in the same tone she would use to warn him away from entering an infectious plague ward. I stepped forward and corrected her, telling her we were a small, independent publisher. Her expression changed from scorn to interest, and she came right into our booth, where she bought several books. Good stories, all, which she never would have read if she thought they had been self-published.

That’s why your book has to be well-packaged if you want to be a success as a self-published author. You have to pay for professional editing and a good graphic artist to make an eye-catching cover. People do judge a book by its cover, unfortunately, and will scroll right past a book that has cheesy or clumsily executed cover art.

So, there you have it, in one overly-long article. Hopefully, I’ve given you at least a general impression of the pros and cons of each method of publishing. Success is possible with each of them, but no matter which method you choose, it’s going to take a lot of hard work and dedication.

It’s not a profession for the faint of heart. It’s a Sisyphean task, and sometimes discouraging… but ultimately, very rewarding.

Good luck, and may God have mercy on your soul.

***

Lissa Bryan is an astronaut, renowned Kabuki actress, Olympic pole vault gold medalist, Iron Chef champion, and scientist who recently discovered the cure for athlete’s foot … though only in her head. Real life isn’t so interesting, which is why she spends most of her time writing.

Find Lissa on her blog, her Facebook pageGoodreads profile, and follow her on Twitter. To buy the books, check Amazon.