I write like
Jack London

I Write Like. Analyze your writing!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Anti-Trust Lawsuit

Currently reading - Baby, Drive South by Srephanie Bond

Three weeks ago, law firm Hagens Berman filed a class action suit against five major publishers and Apple.  I talked a little bit about the lawsuit a couple of weeks ago, what it may mean for the traditional publishers, as well as how it may affect the indies.

Now Steve Jobs has resigned as Apple's CEO.  There's been much conjecture as to why he left Apple now, but it's no secret that he's been fighting cancer. But should Mr. Jobs have left the company synonymous with his name with litigation pending?

There are certain protections a person has when acting in the position of a corporation's officer. Those protections disappear when the officer leaves the company, no matter the terms of the departure.  If Mr. Jobs thinks he'll avoid the stress effects of a trial on his health by leaving Apple, he'll be as mistaken as the late Ken Lay, former CEO of Enron.  (Ken Lay died of a heart attack shortly after he was found guilty by a jury on Federal court for his actions in regards to the collapse of the energy giant.  By the time his case went to trial, Enron no longer existed. Mr. Lay had also resigned prior to Enron's final collapse.)

Unfortunately, Mr. Jobs said in several interviews during the Great Agency Pricing Kerfluffle that he and the publishers came to an agreement together.  Those statements may come back to haunt Apple if something does happen to Mr. Jobs before the lawsuit is tried or settled.  Without Jobs to refute or offer explanations to the court, Apple may find themselves in a world of hurt.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

WSJ Finally Acknowledges the Obvious

Currently reading - Baby, Drive South by Stephanie Bond

In an article in yesterday's Wall Street Journal (thanks to Jay Lake for the link), business folks are FINALLY saying what we indies have known all along: the publishing paradigm has shifted and it's cutting into the houses bottom lines.

More significant is the graph (I love pictures with economics) showing e-books crossing the $1 billion threshold this year. (No that's not a typo. It's billion with a capital 'B'.)  Albert Greco postulates that e-books will triple within the next three years.

If anything, I think Mr. Greco is underestimating the rate of change.  DH, who wasn't much of a reader when we met, now has his nose in his Kindle everynight.  In all fairness, he did not buy the Kindle.  He stole mine, which was a gift from a friend.  Now you know why I'm still reading paper books.

I think e-book sales will accelerate exponentially  once a vendor introduces an e-reader below $100. And it will probably happen this holiday season.  Karnak said so

Monday, August 29, 2011

Amazon Yanking Private Label Rights

Currently reading - Baby, Drive South bu Stephanie Bond (MMPB)

I don't know how many of you saw this New York Times article a couple of weeks ago, but Amazon is allegedly removing private label rights (PLR) e-books from their Kindle store.

What are PLR e-books?  Generally, articles that are work for hire are sold to a "writer", who then puts the various articles together into an e-book format and uploads them to Amazon. (These e-books can also be uploaded to other e-book retailers as well.)  In most instances, PLR books are non-fiction.  The pieces that form the PLR e-books are sold in much the same way that royalty-free photos are sold at places like istockphoto.com.

The problem comes when fifty people put the same three articles together to form what is essentially the same e-book.  Say you're a gardener looking for a resource on how to get of tomato horn worms.  (By the way, I'm big advocate of smashing the suckers with a rock or brick.)  There can be fifty books on Amazon that all have the same information.  You're thinking, "Did somebody rip off some biologist's book? I don't want to buy a fake."  And then you don't buy anything, which means Amazon or any other retailer doesn't make money.

So if you're an indie writer, whether it be fiction or non-fiction, don't take shortcuts.  You might get some short-term sales, but the news will get out and folks won't buy your product if they're questioning your integrity.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Interview with Bob Mayer

Currently reading - Ghost Story by Jim Butcher (HC)

If you haven't seen this yet, go watch Dan Blank's interview with Bob Mayer. (Sorry, I can't embed it.)  If you're serious about having your own publishing business, Bob has lots of tips, tricks, and advice for ALL writers, not just indies.

And in this interview with New Zealand's RadioLive, Bob shows why he's a real hero when he ably defends romance writers from a ___________ host. (I'll let y'all fill in the blank after listening to the broadcast.)  And if you haven't read Agnes and the Hitman yet, go read it. Now.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Don't Mess With Christie Craig

Normally, when a crit partner has a new book, I post the cover and the blurb on release day.

This situation with Christie Craig has been anything but normal.

So I waited to see how Judge Sparks ruled at the emergency TRO hearing on Monday.  TxDOT's request for a temporary restraining order was denied.  I can't say anymore than that since the official position of Hachette and Christie is 'No comment.'

[Edit to Add: The actual ruling hadn't been posted on the federal court's website, but the Austin Business Journal had the gist in an article posted this afternoon.]

[2nd Edit to Add: Here's a copy of the Request for Restraining Order and Injunction.  What's interesting is that no other major bookseller, such as Amazon or Books-A-Million, was named in the Request.]

However, for more info, here's some sites:

As far as I know, the Houston Press broke the story Tuesday morning.

A few hours later, the Dallas Business News added a few more details.

Then the romance community started commenting:
Something Wicked
Cheeky Reads
Dear Author
Beyond Her Book
Boxing the Octopus
Killer Fiction


[FYI: Houston, TX, is the headquarters of Romance Writers of America, and the home of three RWA chapters.]

By 2PM, the Twitterverse and various author loops had exploded with the news.

Magdalen at Promantica talks about the legal issues.

The news hit KHOU-TV, Channel 11, a little after 5 PM.

***

What I can say is that Don't Mess with Texas is another of Christie's wacky romantic suspense books. Three cops were unjustly sent to prison. Once exonerated, they become P.I.s with two missions: find the crime lord who set them up and help innocents accused of wrong-doing. And since this is Christie, there's the wild pets.  In this case, it's Budweiser, the coffin-lovin' bulldog.

Blurb
Nikki Hunt thought her night couldn't get worse when her no-good, cheating ex ditched her at dinner, sticking her with the bill. Then she found his body stuffed in the trunk of her car and lost her two-hundred-dollar meal all over his three-thousand-dollar suit. Now not only is Nikki nearly broke, she's a murder suspect.

Dallas O'Connor knows what it's like to be unjustly accused. But one look at the sexy-though skittish-suspect tells him she couldn't hurt anyone. The lead detective, Dallas's own brother, has the wrong woman and Dallas hopes a little late-night "undercover" work will help him prove it . . .

Monday, August 22, 2011

Me and My Split Personality

Currently reading - Ghost Story by Jim Butcher (HC)

Sorry that today's post is a little later than usually.  Yesterday ended Tax-Free Weekend.  The State of Texas doesn't collect sales tax on clothing and school supplies on one weekend in August as a way of helping out parents with back-to-school shopping.  Which means extended sales hours at the malls.  Which means the little card and gift shop of my Day Job is open extra hours as well.

Yeah, it doesn't make sense to those of us who work there either since we're not exactly a child-friendly environment.

But I'm getting off track.

Originally, Wild, Wicked & Wacky started as a free-for-all, anything-my-brain-dwelled-on type of warm-up before I started my official wip daily word count. But over the last year, I've focused on the changes in the publishing industry and the rise of the indie-published writer, which was needed from the jump in readership.  The fun stuff, like contests and cute kittty pictures, got pushed aside.

For the last several weeks, I've been experimenting by having two different blogs and have decided to make the change permanent.

WWW will continue to focus on news and business in the publishing world, especially as it pertains to writers publishing on their own. (Though the Saturday night videos will remain here.)

Blood Lines will now carry my pop culture musings, like Monday Movie Mania reviews, contests, and sample chapters of upcoming releases.

So for old times sake, one last LOLZ Cat picture:



Friday, August 19, 2011

Status Update - August 2011

Currently reading - Heartless by Gail Carriger (MMPB)

Here's the numbers for all three of my books available for the month of July:

Amazon - 24
Barnes & Noble - 5
Smashwords - 1
XinXii - 0

Total books for July: 30
Total books for 2011: 85

For monthly comparisons, I listed previous months numbers in the July Status Update.

Except for June's hiccup, I've seen an increase each month. I already know August's numbers will be slightly skewed thanks to the free business plan guide I put out as a companion to the blog series I did at Indie U last week. (Go to Pitch University for the exclusive coupon code to get the business plan guide free from Smashwords.)

In the meantime, back to work on Seasons of Magick: Summer because I want to get this story published before, well, the end of summer. Click here for a sneak peek at the first chapter.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Apocalypse Has Commenced

Currently reading - Heartless by Gail Carriger (MMPB)

It took a little longer than I thought, but the craziness of agency pricing has finally hit the litigation fan. Hagens Berman, a national law firm, filed a class action suit on August 9th against Apple, Harper Collins, Hachette, Macmillian, Penguin and Simon & Schuster, alleging the illegal fixing of e-book prices.

Major players in an industry that collude or conspire to fix pricing of a particular commodity is a major no-no under the Sherman Act.  And this is off the top of my head.  I'm sure Hagens Berman threw a ton more anti-trust statutes into the complaint.

How will the fallout of this lawsuit affect us indies?

Ironically, we're benefiting from agency pricing in two ways:

1) In agency pricing, the publisher sets the price, not the retailer.  Guess what, folks? We're the publisher.  When we discuss price points on J.A. Konrath's blog comments, are we colluding that $2.99 is the price we all agree to charge for e-books?

2) By the major companies mentioned in the lawsuit sticking to their higher price structures, don't we benefit from their agreement to keep their e-book prices so inflated?  We can undercut them with ease right now.

As a consumer, I'm not happy when I can buy a hardback copy of Jim Butcher's Ghost Story for less than the e-book price.

But as an indie writer, I want Jim's publisher to balloon the e-book price because then, maybe, some reader on the hunt for a good urban fantasy may try Zombie Love instead.

So, what do y'all think of this lawsuit?  Pros?  Cons?

Monday, August 15, 2011

My Conversation with Benjamin Franklin

There are times when Subconscious does some weird stuff.  Last Wednesday night was one of those times.

***

Some friends and I are walking down a country road. One of my friends suggests cutting across a field to reach our destination more quickly. The only apparent problem to his plan is the raspberry hedge between the road and the field.

What starts in the dream as tamed raspberry branches quickly turns into thick, thorny, wild raspberry tangles. The more we force our way through, the thicker and nastier the brambles become. Scratched and exhausted, I stop to catch my breath when Benjamin Franklin steps out of the thicket.

Ben eyes my injuries and damaged clothing, looks at the brambles, and then asks, "Whatever are you doing, my dear?"

"Cutting across the field, sir."

He chuckles. "Revolutions are a young person's game."

I wipe the sweat from my brow. "With all due respect, Mr. Franklin, you were seventy-six when the war broke out."

"Yes, yes," he says, nodding. "Sometimes one must do things no matter how insane wiser heads believe you to be. But is this battle worth your time?"

I stare at the brambles ahead of me. When I first started, I could see the field and the road we had been on where it curved across the countryside. Now, all I could see were thorns and bright red berries. My friends had disappeared from sight, though I could hear them. "Maybe I need to give up. Return to the road."

Ben taps his walking stick on the ground. "Look behind you."

I turn around, and instead of trampled branches, a path covered in new grass stretches back to the road.

"You're already creating a new road, my dear." He pats my shoulder. "I suggest you sample some of these fine berries as you forge ahead."

He pivots to leave.

"Wait!"

Ben pauses, peering at me through his spectacles.

"Will I ever find the main road once I get through the bushes?"

He smiles. "I dare say you will." Then he disappears into the thicket of raspberries.

I pluck a berry and pop it into my mouth.  Nothing like fresh, sun-warmed raspberries. Then I resume pushing through the brambles.

***

I don't think I need a dream interpreter to figure this one out. Do you?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Songs I've Been Listening to a Lot Lately

I indie publish because I have Sympathy for the Devil (and a little for Axl Rose too.)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Evil Genius Giveaway!

As you all know, I've been guest blogging over at Indie U this week about writing a business plan for the indie author.

Well, Evil Genius, Despicable Muse and I have a few surprises for today. Like a free business plan guide and the chance to win a grand prize package including how-to books, my books, a flashdrive and a gift card. So drop by and let us hear from you!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Finding the Rarest Bird of All

The topic over at Indie U today is marketing and publicity.  Also, a very rare breed of promotion called Word-of-Mouth. Come see how the minions lure Word-of-Mouth into the open.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Ain't That Purty!

Do readers judge a book by its cover? You betcha! So do you make your own cover or find a minion to do it for you? Stop by Pitch University for our series on creating a business plan.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Oh, God, No! Not the Formatting!

Today over at Indie University, we're talking about areas where those pesky minions come in pretty darn handy.

Like Editing and Formatting.

So come join us for another round of building your business plan!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

You'll Need Minions to Write

No, I don't mean making the minions write your books.  I mean having minions do other jobs so You the Writer has time to WRITE.

Come read about Writer business plans at Pitch University and the NUMBER ONE THING that indie-published writers forget!

Monday, August 8, 2011

How to Dominate the World in Seven Easy Steps

Over at Indie University aka Pitch University, we're discussing the best business formats for You the Publisher. Trust me, it's not as terrifying as it sounds.  Come join us, and bring your big girl panties!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Want to Be an Evil Genius or a Despiccable Minion?

This week I'm over at Pitch Indie University with the basic tools of building your own weapon of mass destruction business plan for world domination, er, publishing your books.

Actually, world domination and indie publishing are the same thing, aren't they?

P.S. You'll want to do the exercises 'cause we have a cool prize package on Saturday.

Songs I've Been Listening to a Lot Lately

I indie-publish because I'm on The Edge of Glory.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Methinks Yon Publishing Experts Protesth Too Much

Currently reading - Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris

If you haven't seen these, go take a look at Adrian Zackheim's piece, a Publisher's Weekly article from last year, or Michele Defilippo's thoughts on Authropublisher.

Now, let's pretend you don't have a dog in the publishing race and take emotion out of the equation.

If publishers, agents, etc., think indie publishing is inconsequential, why are they shouting from the rootftops that it's bad?

If indie publishing is not a game-changer in the industry then why are they focusing so much attention on it?

If traditional publishing is just fine, why are agents opening up their own "self-publishing initiatives"? (Sorry but the former corporate drone in me still finds The Knight Agency's term hysterical.)

If there isn't a problem, why are folks like Trident Media agents Robert Gottlieb and Kim Whalen and editor Colleen Lindsey trolling the Kindle Boards and indie book review sites for the next big thing?

(Okay, turning my emotion chip back on.)

For the record, I haven't met a self-published author who advocates putting up crap on the interwebs despite what some of the traditional pundits would have us believe. Everyone I know works hard to put up a quality product.  In fact, indies are very generous with sharing their techniques and tips for creating a quality product for readers.

Speaking of sharing info, if you're in the Northwest Houston area Saturday, August 6th, a writers group I belong to is having a workshop on 'How to Digital Publish'.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

May Neter Bless Your Soul, Miz Leslie

When I opened my e-mail yesterday, the first message held some fantastic personal news.

Then I read the second one.

Leslie Esdaile Banks passed from this plane yesterday morning after a short bout with cancer. She was a marvelous storyteller and a truly kind soul. I had the fortune of meeting her six years ago the Romance Writers of America conference in Reno. She was so sweet and encouraging to a flustered new writer.

She is an inspiration, and I don't think she realized what her words at that time meant to me.

The Liars Club auction planned for this Saturday in her hometown of Philadelphia will still be held since her daughter Helena, a college student, is still dealing with the massive medical bills and now her mother's funeral. If you can't attend the event, please consider donating at the link above.

Thank you.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Agents as Publishers: The Other Side of the Equation

Currently reading - Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris (HC)

The announcement by BookEnds, LLC, of their new publishing arm, Beyond the Page Publishing, last week sent polarizing ripples through the blogosphere. Rather than jump in the fray, I sat back and thought about the ramifications of theirs, and other agents', decision to publish.

And yes, agents, you can call it a "self-publishing initiatve" or a "ostrich" for all I care.  It's still publishing.

I've met Jessica Faust and Kim Lionetti, albeit very briefly several years ago at an RWA conference. I personally know two members of my RWA chapter who are their clients. I've even submitted to them both over the years. In my personal opinion, they are both bright, capable, professional people.

Unfortunately, the handling of the announcement was not one of their stellar moments. In a move reminiscent of Torstar's announcement of Harlequin Horizons (the infamous vanity publishing arm of Harlequin) two years ago, Jessica stopped commenting when some pointed questions and requests for clarification were asked. I'm not talking about the Anonymous Trolls. I'm talking about people identifying themselves publicly and asking about some obvious, and rather disturbing, discrepancies between Jessica's statements and the info on the Beyond the Page website.

It didn't help their cause when they posted a client's guest blog on how wonderful Beyond the Book Publishing was.

But it's not just the BookEnds ladies. Many agent are showing their desperation by publishing.  There's three major problems I'm seeing:

1) Many of the agents know even less about indie publishing than a lot of us noobs. Right now, I'm helping a traditional published author clean up what was done to her backlist files.  I mean I've spent the ENTIRE freakin' month of July doing this!  And I still have two books of hers to do.

Do you really want to give your books to someone who doesn't have the know-how to format your manuscripts, much less not having the knowledge enough to hire someone who does?


2) Agent contracts - ARGH! Folks with backlists who have managed to get rights back still have to deal with these stupid contracts that give the agent fifteen percent FOREVER from a book because they represented that book when it originally sold.

In this case, I totally understand making the agent publish the damn thing, but you'd better make damn well sure that they are not taking any costs (cover, formatting, etc.) off the top.


3) Things won't change until an agency is sued. And I don't think many agents realize how close they are to treading a dangerous legal line. Or they are deliberately ignoring it.  Or they're threatening their clients if anyone speaks out about it (yes, I'm talking about you, Knight Agency). All it's going to take is one disgruntled client with very deep pockets to totally destroy your agency. Passive Voice has several informative posts on the subject of agency law. His analysis is dead on, and I strongly suggest you read them.

And yes, agents, someone suing your ass will happen eventually.


I know most of my readers are the converted, but if any of you are even THINKING about using one of these literary agencies as a publisher, please, PLEASE, think twice.

And agents, if you want to be a publisher, then BE a publisher.  There's nothing wrong with publishing or being a publisher, and you'll get more respect and lot less grief down the road.