Thursday, January 25, 2007

What to expect...

On my historical critique group, there's been an interesting discussion on what a writer should expect when published and also about small press versus big publishing companies.

Here's a little of what I wrote in an email. Now they are just my thoughts, so don't sue me.

Ebooks sell well if you write erotic or hot & steamy contemporaries. These two genres are selling like hot cakes in the American ebook industry and authors of those genres do make money, but how long will it last?
One of my publishers Samhain Publishing is making great waves in the industry for those two genres, a bit like Ellora's Cave, but and the big but is, and to me is important, is that the other genres are not getting the attention they should.

I think the erotica bubble is slowly leaking, not yet burst, but not selling as good as it was this time last year. And I hope from this that another genre will step up and have it's day, perhaps it already is, like paranormal, which is doing so well. But everything is just swings and roundabouts. What's hot one year might not be the next year.

I would recommend Samhain to anyone, especially if that writer lived in America and wrote contemporary, but also to anyone who is tired of trying the agents/big publisher route.

I would also recommend a small publisher over self publishing any day.

Small press books are getting better in quality and content, they have to, otherwise they can't compete.
In the early days ebooks were horrid mainly, but now that isn't the case for the publishers who want a future in the industry.
Of course there are still some ebook publishers who aren't great, but the publishers who sell anything in the romance genre and want RWA approval have to smarten up their act.
RWA approval is what small publishers want so they can attend the conferences and showcase their authors and company to the buying hungry romance readers, which make up over half of the reading population. (I've got stats somewhere)
To be RWA approved, the publisher has to sell 1500 copies of one book every year (I think that's correct without checking my notes). So, the company has to release good books that sell and keep on selling to take the next step up in the industry. I believe Samhain is very close to that approval, which shows their level of dedication and commitment.

Whatever publisher you sign with you must take into consideration their distribution. Distribution is the key to any publisher and author's success. You can write the best book in the world, but if the distribution isn't in place you will suffer, believe me.

The large publishers will always win out over the small publishers because their books are lower in price. That said, their shelf life is shorter too. Mass market will get your book into stores and you could sell 100 000 copies, but then after 3 months or so, the book is gone, and you need to have another one written and released to replace it on the shelves. Personally, I feel some books that are just churned out by the mass market companies are just plain awful, but that's me.

I know that some publisher's frequently signs up authors in two book deals and then drops them a couple of years later. Why? Because the first book didn't sell the thousands it should have. Therefore the second book has a smaller print run, if that sells a smaller amount again, the author is dropped. That author now has to start again and it is harder the second time around, as they have to build another publisher's trust in them again.

The thing is, no one avenue (small or large publisher) is really better than the other.
I know of some big name authors who make big $ book deals, in one country yet aren't even heard of in another country.
I know of authors who have finally got the agent, the 2 or 3 book deal and have a great couple of years and then they are gone. Dropped by the publisher and never heard of again.

To be honest, in some ways, I don't think I could take the strain of being a mass market famous author, because you then have to deliver time and again. (I guess I could give it a try if offered the opportunity :o)
Yes, the money would be good, but would the enjoyment of writing still be there? I've read books by the well known authors and found that their first books, which drew me to them are great, but the latter books are rather boring, as though they aren't thought out and just needed to be written to make a deadline.

If you write to make big money, then you've got the wrong attitude in my opinion.
You must write because you have to and can't do anything else.
However, all authors need to know what they are getting into. Even when published it is not a guarantee that you'll be published forever unless you become the next Nora Roberts or Stephen King, but honestly how often does that happen?

I've promoted my butt off and the money doesn't roll in. Would I give up writing? Hell no. It just means I have to get income from another source. :o)

I do get frustrated at times, I will be honest, when I walked past a bookstore and know that my book should be in there and it isn't. But I chose the small press route, no one made me do it. Sometimes I need to give myself a slap and re-adjust my thinking.
I have done something not everyone does, I have written a book and had it published. It sits on a shelf above me now as I type. I can look up and see my imagination sitting in solid form and which has brought enjoyment to others. Does it matter that I don't drive a sports car? Does it matter that I don't have diamonds or travel the world? No, not really. My family is healthy and happy, our bills are paid and we live a good normal life. Can I ask for more?
And when I get down, when some snotty bookstore manager looks down their nose at me because my books are not mass market or easy for them to order from a rep or whatever, I can simply take my book off the shelf above my computer and hold it. Who gets the chance to do that?
I have my own piece of immortality.

As I said, these are just my ramblings...
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