Sunday, May 27, 2012

This Is Why I Like Youtube

You can stumble across interesting stuff that you would never see or hear otherwise.


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Zombie Confidential Is Available!

Zombie Confidential, the Bloodlines short story, is now available at Smashwords to download to your e-reader or app. I'll let you know as soon as it's available at other e-book retailers.

Or if you want to read it on Blood Lines, click here.

This FREE short story is my THANK YOU to all you readers who've supported me over the last year.

For undead tabloid reporter Samantha Ridgeway, photographing movie star Josh Williams with his latest paramour should have been an easy assignment. But instead of finding him smooching a girl in the hot tub, she discovers his corpse, with a tourniquet around its bicep and a needle in its arm. To make matters worse, his ghost swears to haunt her for eternity if she doesn’t help him prove he didn’t OD.

The more she digs, the more Sam believes there’s more to Josh’s story than even he realizes. Now, she just has to catch the killer before he targets his next victim—Josh’s three-year-old son.

Short story, approximately 13,000 words or 45 printed pages

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Why Fifty Shades of Grey Matters

I've been reading a lot of crap on the internet directed at E.L. James lately, and frankly, I feel sorry for her. She wrote some fanfic based on the highly successful Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer. A publisher picked it up, had her tweak it a little so as not to get sued, and released the paperback to huge success. Ten million books is nothing to sneeze at.

Two weeks ago, a tiny elderly lady came into the Day Job. She asked me to wrap a few presents for her granddaughter's bridal shower.

My customer had no problem proudly displaying the two lingerie sets, much to her husband's embarrassment. Let's just say they were very interesting purchases from the Frederick's of Hollywood next door to the Day Job.

But it was the third purchase that had my customer blushing. Slowly, she pulls a rectangular object wrapped in a white plastic bag out of her gigantic purse. She looks at me with huge, worried eyes. "Please don't judge me."

I unwrap the object. A trade copy of, you guessed it, Fifty Shades of Grey.

"I read it and loved it." My customer is now whispering. She checks around with furtive glances to make sure no other shoppers are near by. "Do you think she'll like it?"

I smile. "I'm sure she will."

"Have you read it?"

"No, ma'am, but I've heard several people say they enjoy it."

Satisfied, my customer wandered off to look at shower cards while I wrapped her presents.

With all the kvetching about the decline of reading in the U.S., why do folks in the publishing industry get pissed off when a book captures the imagination of the public?

My elderly customer certainly didn't know Fifty Shades had started life as fanfic. And I can't say whether the alleged grammar and editing issues affected her. What I do know is that she found a book she enjoyed and she wanted to share it with people she loved.

Isn't that something all writers should be striving for?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Make Good Art

Neil Gaiman addresses the graduating class of 2012 at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, but his words apply to all of us.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Friday, May 18, 2012

What Constitutes Quality?

For those of you worried about Wednesday's post--No, I did not have a psychotic break. Thank you for those of you who expressed your concern. And yes, I did notice y'all defaulted to remote methods to contact me. *grin*

One of the big bugaboos in the current "The sky is falling" rhetoric is that indies lack the quality traditional publishers can provide. The question is exactly what kind of quality are we referring to here?

This week, I started and finished reading two stories during my free time. Charlaine Harris's latest Sookie Stackhouse novel, Deadlocked, (a traditionally published novel) and Volume 5 of Bebe Smith's The Honey Trap Files, The Priest (an indie published short story).

One hand, we've got a NYT bestselling paranormal mystery series. On the other, an indie sexcapade.

But, but, the indies don't even proofread!

Hate to tell you, but Charlaine's book had three very noticeable typos. Bebe's had none.

The short story only has sex in it. Sex is bad!

Sookie and Eric definitely got it on, even though Charlaine didn't give explicit detail. She did give a little more detail about the orgy in Eric's living room. (Just in case y'all want to confirm anything. *grin*)

You're comparing apples to oranges, Suzan!

Yep, but then so is everyone else.

Here's the point--both women entertained me with their stories. They made me forget about politics at the Day Job, that both of my cars are in the shop, that GK needs oral surgery, and a myriad of other problems I needed a break from.

That, my friends, is the definition of quality.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Pet Peeve Alert - Whiny Writers

I'm about to have a rant, so if you don't want to read it, click away now.

Okay, you're still here. Don't say I didn't warn you...

I've been getting some shit from other writers lately that's pissing me off. It's the "I can't possibly do X" whine, a particularly pernicious meme in the writer community.

I understand that there's a big difference between "I don't wanna do X" versus "I can't possibly do X."

"I can't possibly do X" translated means "I'm too fucking lazy or too fucking scared to try to do X."

And no, I'm not talking about self-publishing, though this rant could apply.

I've had someone say she could make money writing erotica like I do, but she can't write about kinky stuff. Who the hell said she had to?

Other people have mentioned that they love A/B/C genre and wished they could write it. Then write A/B/C genre! "It would take too much time to research."

My personal favorite (which set off the rant)? Someone told me today that I should write Y genre because I would be good at it and then proceeded to give me a plot.

Me: "It's your plot idea. You write it."

Someone: "I can't write Z the way you do."

Then fucking learn! Somehow I managed to put that thought a little more P.C., but then the truth came out. She was too lazy to study Z.

Here's the moral of the story:

If you want to do something, you try and fail, then I'll be there with a box of tissue and some chocolate. But if you can't even fucking try?


Monday, May 14, 2012

Why Apple and Five of the Big Six Are Really in Trouble

In law school, I had a fabulous criminal law professor. Prof. Ota had a unique talent for explaining the most bizarre concepts of law in plain English. A lot of folks are up in arms over the Department of Justice's lawsuit against Apple and five of the six largest publishing companies in the U.S., so I'm going to try to emulate her style of simplicity.

The elements of a criminal conspiracy consists of:

1) The intent of two or more persons to commit a crime together
2) An agreement between the persons to engage in the crime to be performed
3) An overt act by any one of the parties to the agreement to perform the agreed crime

The Sherman Anti-trust Act of 1890 (15 U.S.C.A Section 1 et seq.) specifically forbids ANY two or more persons or companies from agreeing to a set market price, i.e. price fixing. Self-defense from another competitor is NOT a defense to charge of price fixing.

Here's the problems for the six defendants: Performing #2 or #3 above can be used to show their intent, i.e. #1.

They've boasted quite a bit about how they're going to take down Amazon. They've all but admitted in their press statements that they agreed to set their prices above Amazon's $9.99 price point in order to increase their income. The prices for products of five of the conspirators were raised nearly simultaneously. In these same statements, they've said that even if they're guilty of price fixing, Amazon's market share justifies their illegal acts, plus prices actually fell.

Seriously, guys?

Have many of you out there have been stopped for speeding? Of those who have, how many of you have given an excuse, like you're late for work, etc? How often has the cop who stopped you let you off for whatever excuse you gave him or her?

And guess what, Defendant Publishers? A lot of indies, including me, took advantage of your naivete by undercutting your high prices.

This is my point. Breaking the law is breaking the law. It doesn't matter what justification is given. And in the end, Karma, the Golden Rule, the Threefold Law or whatever you want to call it will bite your ass.

As for the folks who claim the DOJ should be going after Amazon, then please show me exactly what law they broke. Like I've told lots of clients over the years over the years, it's not illegal for someone to be a jerk.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Teach A Writer to Publish

There's a very old Chinese proverb: "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."

I truly believe that philosophy applies to writers by teaching them how to publish. This time last year, I heard a great deal of the sentiment, "Don't hand me the fucking pole! Just gimme the goddamn fish!"

This year, not so much. Learning the process of what goes into making a story suitable for public consumption has been freeing for so many writers. By understanding the process, they realize the worms aren't so squishy, the hooks not so dangerous. It's a dirty job, but it's fun at the same time. And at the end of the day, there's a certain sense of satisfaction when you share your grilled work with the folks gathered around the campfire.

So grab a pole, my writer friends, and go fish!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

TxDOT v. Christie Craig, et. al. - The End?

The attorneys have settled the lawsuit, and life goes on for Christie, Grand Central and Barnes & Noble. The terms are confidential. If I knew, I couldn't tell you.  *wink*

What I can say is that Don't Mess with Texas is going back for another printing. You'll see it on the shelves of your local bookstore soon. Or you can download a copy now from your favorite e-book retailer.

In the meantime, Blame It on Texas will be out in August. I can't wait. You see, Tyler has a special place in my heart as the computer geek of the agency.

The real question is whether TxDOT will ever own up to wasting my money on a frivolous lawsuit. Honestly, I doubt it. But I would like to remind certain elected officials in Austin that November 6th is less than six months away.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

A Voice in the Dark

On Thursday, May 3, 2012, the main website of writer/editor/publisher Kristine Kathryn Rusch was attacked by malware. It's not the first time. It probably won't be the last. The malware then proceeded to invade Kris's other websites as well as websites linked to hers, such as mine. (A shout out to Tess St. John for warning me in time to stop the damage!)

As a show of support, I and many other folks are posting her blog from Thursday. This is a message too important to be lost to a stupid malware attack.

* * *

Welcome to one of my other websites. This one is for my mystery persona Paladin, from my Spade/Paladin short stories. She has a website in the stories, and I thought it would be cool to have the website online. It’s currently the least active of my sites, so I figured it was perfect for what I needed today.

Someone hacked my website. Ye Olde Website Guru and I are repairing the damage but it will take some time. The hacker timed the hack to coincide with the posting of my Business Rusch column. Since the hack happened 12 hours after I originally posted the column, I’m assuming that the hacker doesn’t like what I wrote, and is trying to shut me down. Aaaaah. Poor hacker. Can’t argue on logic, merits, or with words, so must use brute force to make his/her/its point. Poor thing.

Since someone didn’t want you to see this post, I figure I’d better get it up ASAP. Obviously there’s something here someone objects to–which makes it a bit more valuable than usual.

Here’s the post, which I am reloading from my word file, so that I don’t embed any malicious code here. I’m even leaving off the atrocious artwork (which we’re redesigning) just to make sure nothing got corrupted from there.

The post directs you to a few links from my website. Obviously, those are inactive at the moment. Sorry about that. I hope you get something out of this post.

I’m also shutting off comments here, just to prevent another short-term hack. Also, I don’t want to transfer them over. If you have comments, send them via e-mail and when the site comes back up, I’ll post them. Mark them “comment” in the header of the e-mail. Thanks!

The Business Rusch: Royalty Statement Update 2012
Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Over a year ago, I wrote a blog post about the fact that my e-book royalties from a couple of my traditional publishers looked wrong. Significantly wrong. After I posted that blog, dozens of writers contacted me with similar information. More disturbingly, some of these writers had evidence that their paper book royalties were also significantly wrong.

Writers contacted their writers’ organizations. Agents got the news. Everyone in the industry, it seemed, read those blogs, and many of the writers/agents/organizations vowed to do something. And some of them did.

I hoped to do an update within a few weeks after the initial post. I thought my update would come no later than summer of 2011.

I had no idea the update would take a year, and what I can tell you is—

Bupkis. Nada. Nothing. Zip. Zilch.

That doesn’t mean that nothing happened. I personally spoke to the heads of two different writers’ organizations who promised to look into this. I spoke to half a dozen attorneys active in the publishing field who were, as I mentioned in those posts, unsurprised. I spoke to a lot of agents, via e-mail and in person, and I spoke to even more writers.

The writers have kept me informed. It seems, from the information I’m still getting, that nothing has changed. The publishers that last year used a formula to calculate e-book royalties (rather than report actual sales) still use the formula to calculate e-book royalties this year.

I just got one such royalty statement in April from one of those companies and my e-book sales from them for six months were a laughable ten per novel. My worst selling e-books, with awful covers, have sold more than that. Significantly more.

To this day, writers continue to notify their writers’ organizations, and if those organizations are doing anything, no one has bothered to tell me. Not that they have to. I’m only a member of one writers’ organizations, and I know for fact that one is doing nothing.

But the heads of the organizations I spoke to haven’t kept me apprised. I see nothing in the industry news about writers’ organizations approaching/auditing/dealing with the problems with royalty statements. Sometimes these things take place behind the scenes, and I understand that. So, if your organization is taking action, please do let me know so that I can update the folks here.

The attorneys I spoke to are handling cases, but most of those cases are individual cases. An attorney represents a single writer with a complaint about royalties. Several of those cases got settled out of court. Others are still pending or are “in review.” I keep hearing noises about class actions, but so far, I haven’t seen any of them, nor has anyone notified me.

The agents disappointed me the most. Dean personally called an agent friend of ours whose agency handles two of the biggest stars in the writing firmament. That agent (having previously read my blog) promised the agency was aware of the problem and was “handling it.”

Two weeks later, I got an e-mail from a writer with that agency asking me if I knew about the new e-book addendum to all of her contracts that the agency had sent out. The agency had sent the addendum with a “sign immediately” letter. I hadn’t heard any of this. I asked to see the letter and the addendum.

This writer was disturbed that the addendum was generic. It had arrived on her desk—get this—without her name or the name of the book typed in. She was supposed to fill out the contract number, the book’s title, her name, and all that pertinent information.

I had her send me her original contracts, which she did. The addendum destroyed her excellent e-book rights in that contract, substituting better terms for the publisher. Said publisher handled both of that agency’s bright writing stars.

So I contacted other friends with that agency. They had all received the addendum. Most had just signed the addendum without comparing it to the original contract, trusting their agent who was (after all) supposed to protect them.

Wrong-o. The agency, it turned out, had made a deal with the publisher. The publisher would correct the royalties for the big names if agency sent out the addendum to every contract it had negotiated with that contract. The publisher and the agency both knew that not all writers would sign the addendum, but the publisher (and probably the agency) also knew that a good percentage of the writers would sign without reading it.

In other words, the publisher took the money it was originally paying to small fish and paid it to the big fish—with the small fish’s permission.

Yes, I’m furious about this, but not at the publisher. I’m mad at the authors who signed, but mostly, I’m mad at the agency that made this deal. This agency had a chance to make a good decision for all of its clients. Instead, it opted to make a good deal for only its big names.

Do I know for a fact that this is what happened? Yeah, I do. Can I prove it? No. Which is why I won’t tell you the name of the agency, nor the name of the bestsellers involved. (Who, I’m sure, have no idea what was done in their names.)

On a business level what the agency did makes sense. The agency pocketed millions in future commissions without costing itself a dime on the other side, since most of the writers who signed the addendum probably hadn’t earned out their advances, and probably never would.

On an ethical level it pisses me off. You’ll note that my language about agents has gotten harsher over the past year, and this single incident had something to do with it. Other incidents later added fuel to the fire, but they’re not relevant here. I’ll deal with them in a future post.

Yes, there are good agents in the world. Some work for unethical agencies. Some work for themselves. I still work with an agent who is also a lawyer, and is probably more ethical than I am.

But there are yahoos in the agenting business who make the slimy used car salesmen from 1970s films look like action heroes. But, as I said, that’s a future post.

I have a lot of information from writers, most of which is in private correspondence, none of which I can share, that leads me to believe that this particular agency isn’t the only one that used my blog on royalty statements to benefit their bestsellers and hurt their midlist writers. But again, I can’t prove it.

So I’m sad to report that nothing has changed from last year on the royalty statement front.


The reason I was so excited about the Department of Justice lawsuit against the five publishers wasn’t because of the anti-trust issues (which do exist on a variety of levels in publishing, in my opinion), but because the DOJ accountants will dig, and dig, and dig into the records of these traditional publishers, particularly one company named in the suit that’s got truly egregious business practices.

Those practices will change, if only because the DOJ’s forensic accountants will request information that the current accounting systems in most publishing houses do not track. The accounting system in all five of these houses will get overhauled, and brought into the 21st century, and that will benefit writers. It will be an accidental benefit, but it will occur.

The audits alone will unearth a lot of problems. I know that some writers were skeptical that the auditors would look for problems in the royalty statements, but all that shows is a lack of understanding of how forensic accounting works. In the weeks since the DOJ suit, I’ve contacted several accountants, including two forensic accountants, and they all agree that every pebble, every grain of sand, will be inspected because the best way to hide funds in an accounting audit is to move them to a part of the accounting system not being audited.

So when an organization like the DOJ audits, they get a blanket warrant to look at all of the accounting, not just the files in question. Yes, that’s a massive task. Yes, it will take years. But the change is gonna come.

From the outside.

Those of you in Europe might be seeing some of that change as well, since similar lawsuits are going on in Europe.

I do know that several writers from European countries, New Zealand, and Australia have written to me about similar problems in their royalty statements. The unifying factor in those statements is the companies involved. Again, you’d recognize the names because they’ve been in the news lately…dealing with lawsuits.
Ironically for me, those two blog posts benefitted me greatly. I had been struggling to get my rights back from one publisher (who is the biggest problem publisher), and the week I posted the blog, I got contacted by my former editor there, who told me that my rights would come back to me ASAP. Because, the former editor told me (as a friend), things had changed since Thursday (the day I post my blog), and I would get everything I needed.

In other words, let’s get the troublemaker out of the house now. Fine with me.

Later, I discovered some problems with a former agency. I pointed out the problems in a letter, and those problems got solved immediately. I have several friends who’ve been dealing with similar things from that agency, and they can’t even get a return e-mail. I know that the quick response I got is because of this blog.
I also know that many writers used the blog posts from last year to negotiate more accountability from their publishers for future royalties. That’s a real plus. Whether or not it happens is another matter because I noted something else in this round of royalty statements.

Actually, that’s not fair. My agent caught it first. I need to give credit where credit is due, and since so many folks believe I bash agents, let me say again that my current agent is quite good, quite sharp, and quite ethical.

My agent noticed that the royalty statements from one of my publishers were basket accounted on the statement itself. Which is odd, considering there is no clause in any of the contracts I have with that company that allows for basket accounting.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with basket accounting, this is what it means:

A writer signs a contract with Publisher A for three books. The contract is a three-book contract. One contract, three books. Got that?

Okay, a contract with a basket-accounting clause allows the publisher to put all three books in the same accounting “basket” as if the books are one entity. So let’s say that book one does poorly, book two does better, and book three blows out of the water.

If book three earns royalties, those royalties go toward paying off the advances on books one and two.

Like this:

Advance for book one: $10,000
Advance for book two: $10,000
Advance for book three: $10,000
Book one only earned back $5,000 toward its advance. Book two only earned $6,000 toward its advance.
Book three earned $12,000—paying off its advance, with a $2,000 profit.

In a standard contract without basket accounting, the writer would have received the $2,000 as a royalty payment.

But with basket accounting, the writer receives nothing. That accounting looks like this:
Advance on contract 1: $30,000
Earnings on contract 1: $23,000
Amount still owed before the advance earns out: $7,000

Instead of getting $2,000, the writer looks at the contract and realizes she still has $7,000 before earning out.

Without basket accounting, she would have to earn $5,000 to earn out Book 1, and $4,000 to earn out Book 2, but Book 3 would be paying her cold hard cash.

Got the difference?

Now, let’s go back to my royalty statement. It covered three books. All three books had three different one-book contracts, signed years apart. You can’t have basket accounting without a basket (or more than one book), but I checked to see if sneaky lawyers had inserted a clause that I missed which allowed the publisher to basket account any books with that publisher that the publisher chose.


I got a royalty statement with all of my advances basket accounted because…well, because. The royalty statement doesn’t follow the contract(s) at all.

Accounting error? No. These books had be added separately. Accounting program error (meaning once my name was added, did the program automatically basket account)? Maybe.

But I’ve suspected for nearly three years now that this company (not one of the big traditional publishers, but a smaller [still large] company) has been having serious financial problems. The company has played all kinds of games with my checks, with payments, with fulfilling promises that cost money.

This is just another one of those problems.

My agent caught it because he reads royalty statements. He mentioned it when he forwarded the statements. I would have caught it as well because I read royalty statements. Every single one. And I compare them to the previous statement. And often, I compare them to the contract.

Is this “error” a function of the modern publishing environment? No, not like e-book royalties, which we’ll get back to in a moment. I’m sure publishers have played this kind of trick since time immemorial. Royalty statements are fascinating for what they don’t say rather than for what they say.

For example, on this particular (messed up) royalty statement, e-books are listed as one item, without any identification. The e-books should be listed separately (according to ISBN) because Amazon has its own edition, as does Apple, as does B&N. Just like publishers must track the hardcover, trade paper, and mass market editions under different ISBNs, they should track e-books the same way.

The publisher that made the “error” with my books had no identifying number, and only one line for e-books. Does that mean that this figure included all e-books, from the Amazon edition to the B&N edition to the Apple edition? Or is this publisher, which has trouble getting its books on various sites (go figure), is only tracking Amazon? From the numbers, it would seem so. Because the numbers are somewhat lower than books in the same series that I have on Amazon, but nowhere near the numbers of the books in the same series if you add in Apple and B&N.

I can’t track this because the royalty statement has given me no way to track it. I would have to run an audit on the company. I’m not sure I want to do that because it would take my time, and I’m moving forward.
That’s the dilemma for writers. Do we take on our publishers individually? Because—for the most part—our agents aren’t doing it. The big agencies, the ones who actually have the clout and the numbers to defend their clients, are doing what they can for their big clients and leaving the rest in the dust.

Writers’ organizations seem to be silent on this. And honestly, it’s tough for an organization to take on a massive audit. It’s tough financially and it’s tough politically. I know one writer who headed a writer’s organization a few decades ago. She spearheaded an audit of major publishers, and it cost her her writing career. Not many heads of organizations have the stomach for that.

As for intellectual property attorneys (or any attorney for that matter), very few handle class actions. Most handle cases individually for individual clients. I know of several writers who’ve gone to attorneys and have gotten settlements from publishers. The problem here is that these settlements only benefit one writer, who often must sign a confidentiality agreement so he can’t even talk about what benefit he got from that agreement.

One company that I know of has revamped its royalty statements. They appear to be clearer. The original novel that I have with that company isn’t selling real well as an e-book, and that makes complete sense since the e-book costs damn near $20. (Ridiculous.) The other books that I have with that company, collaborations and tie-ins, seem to be accurately reported, although I have no way to know. I do appreciate that this company has now separated out every single e-book venue into its own category (B&N, Amazon, Apple) via ISBN, and I can actually see the sales breakdown.

So that’s a positive (I think). Some of the smaller companies have accurate statements as well—or at least, statements that match or improve upon the sales figures I’m seeing on indie projects.

This is all a long answer to a very simple question: What’s happened on the royalty statement front in the past year?

A lot less than I had hoped.

So here’s what you traditionally published writers can do. Track your royalty statements. Compare them to your contracts. Make sure the companies are reporting what they should be reporting.

If you’re combining indie and traditional, like I am, make sure the numbers are in the same ballpark. Make sure your traditional Amazon numbers are around the same numbers you get for your indie titles. If they aren’t, look at one thing first: Price. I expect sales to be much lower on that ridiculous $20 e-book. If your e-books through your traditional publisher are $15 or more, then sales will be down. If the e-books from your traditional publisher are priced around $10 or less, then they should be somewhat close in sales to your indie titles. (Or, if traditional publishers are doing the promotion they claim to do, the sales should be better.)
What to do if they’re not close at all? I have no idea. I still think there’s a benefit to contacting your writers’ organizations. Maybe if the organization keeps getting reports of badly done royalty statements, someone will take action.

If you want to hire an attorney or an auditor, remember doing that will cost both time and money. If you’re a bestseller, you might want to consider it. If you’re a midlist writer, it’s probably not worth the time and effort you’ll put in.

But do yourself a favor. Read those royalty statements. If you think they’re bad, then don’t sign a new contract with that publisher. Go somewhere else with your next book.

I wish I could give you better advice. I wish the big agencies actually tried to use their clout for good instead of their own personal profits. I wish the writers’ organizations had done something.

As usual, it’s up to individual writers.

Don’t let anyone screw you. You might not be able to fight the bad accounting on past books, but make sure you don’t allow it to happen on future books.

That means that you negotiate good contracts, you make sure your royalty statements match those contracts, and you don’t sign with a company that puts out royalty statements that don’t reflect your book deal.
I’m quite happy that I walked away from the publisher I mentioned above years ago. I did so because I didn’t like the treatment I got from the financial and production side. The editor was—as editors often are—great. Everything else at the company sucked.

The royalty statement was just confirmation of a good decision for me.

I hope you make good decisions going forward.

Remember: read your royalty statements.

Good luck.

I need to thank everyone who commented, e-mailed, donated, and called because of last week’s post. When I wrote it, all I meant to do was discuss how we all go through tough times and how we, as writers, need to recognize when we’ve hit a wall. It seems I hit a nerve. I forget sometimes that most writers work in a complete vacuum, with no writer friends, no one except family, who much as they care, don’t always understand.

So if you haven’t read last week’s post, take a peek [link]. More importantly, look at the comments for great advice and some wonderful sharing. I appreciate them—and how much they expanded, added, and improved what I had to say. Thanks for that, everyone.

The donate button is below. As always, if you’ve received anything of value from this post or previous posts, please leave a tip on the way out.


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“The Business Rusch: “Royalty Statement Update 2012,” copyright © 2012 by Kristine Kathryn Rusch.

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Hey, folks! This is Suzan again. I just want to say Kris is definitely not making this up. I've had trad published friends ask for my specific sales numbers. Why? Because they've been ranked much higher than me on certain retail sites, but their publishers are telling them that they sold no e-books.

Please, PLEASE make sure you not only read your contract, but you UNDERSTAND it as well. If you have any doubts whatsoever about a contract, DO NOT sign it. It's a royal bitch to get out of a bad contract.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Guest Post by A.S. Fenichel

Please welcome fellow paranormal erotica author, A.S. Fenichel!

Thanks, Suzan, for having me here today. It’s a really exciting day for me. I’m happy to report that my second book, Mayan Craving, is available for sale today. The story turned out terrific and the cover is stunning.

Since you were kind enough to give me cart blanche about what to write, I thought I tell you all about my journey to becoming a published author.

I’m a late bloomer when it comes to writing. I always hear writers say that they wrote their first book at six or that they started writing in grade school. I’ve been telling stories since I was a little girl. Back then, they were all about my imaginary friend, Richie, and I was in all of them. I never wrote a single story down until I was a freshman in college. I had an English professor who made us write a short story. That was the first time it occurred to me that the people living in my head might want to come out and play. Once the door was open, there was no stopping the flow.

Getting published was not nearly as easy as writing the books. It was almost impossible! I had a full time job and little time for promoting myself or editing. There always seems time to write, but the really hard part, is the editing. At least for me, some writers love it. It took me fifteen years to figure out, with the help of some wonderful writing organizations, that I needed critique partners. Basically, I had to become a better writer and very few people can do that on their own. We all need brutally honest friends to tell us what works and what doesn’t.

I love historical romance and I also love to read Fantasy and Sci-Fi. I’d been writing Regency romance and I still do, but one January day in 2011, I saw a call for entries from an E-publisher for End-of-Days stories. I had just had a dream about a thief in a castle. I put the two together and wrote Mayan Afterglow, a book which has nothing to do with castles. But I was so happy to have a place to put that dream, I made some adjustments to the time period and circumstances. I promptly enlisted all of my friends (writers mostly) to help me edit the book in time. Then I submitted it and it was rejected.

I thought this was my own personal End-of Days. I was ready to give up submitting. Not writing, mind you. I could never give up writing, but the idea of more rejection was debilitating. I have a very good friend, Shelley Freydont, who is a wonderful multi-published author. When I told her I’d had enough, she pulled a face and told me not to be silly (she may have used a stronger word), just submit the story somewhere else. I took her advice and a month later I got “THE CALL!” Ellora’s cave was interested in publishing my book! I’m not at all embarrassed to tell you that the "happy dance" could be seen at my house for days. In fact I danced in the yard, the driveway, out on the dock and even in the lake.

One last thing before I go, I want to pay forward what Shelley did for me. If you are an aspiring writer, get involved with local writing groups like Romance Writers of America . They have a chapter in almost every city and region in the country and several on-line chapters as well. If you don’t write romance, check around locally and see what other groups are available. You’ll be surprised how many other writers are out there struggling with the same issues, and how willing published authors are to give advice and help you. Most importantly, keep writing and keep submitting, no matter how many rejections you receive. Never give up. Just keep getting better at your craft until one day, voila, someone wants to publish your book.

Blurb for Mayan Craving
Surviving the End of Days was only the beginning of the journey for Nancy. After years of searching, she’s finally found her missing sister, but when she attempts to rescue Robyn, she enters her worst nightmare. Captured by demons and about to be sacrificed, Asher is her unexpected hero. Asher’s kindness and bravery arouse her lust, and leave her wanting much more than just his friendship.

Asher has been in love with Nancy since he first laid eyes on her, but her infatuation with another man always left him standing in the background. Her sudden craving for him couldn’t turn him on more. He can’t help finding rapture with Nancy, but the attraction could only be fleeting.While danger and passion pull them together, doubt may rip them apart. They’ll need more than a carnal connection if they’re to survive.

If you’d like to be entered to win an E-copy of Mayan Craving, stop over at A.S. Fenichel’s blog  today and leave a comment.

A.S. Fenichel adores writing stories filled with love, passion, desire, magic and maybe a little mayhem tossed in for good measure. Books have always been her perfect escape and she still relishes diving into one and staying up all night to finish a good story. Originally from New York, she grew up in New Jersey. She now lives in the southwest with her real life hero, her wonderful husband. When she is not reading or writing she enjoys cooking, travel, history and puttering in her garden.

For more information about A.S. Fenichel, visit her web-site, Facebook page and Twitter feed. Her books are available at Amazon, Barnes & NobleEllora's Cave,  or wherever e-books are sold.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

My Soapbox Advice

Two weeks ago, a fellow indie author wondered if there was a secret to self-pubbing sales. Here's the e-mail reply I sent her. Names have been removed to protect the guilty, and I fixed my typos. Uh, most of them.

This is just my $0.02 from self-publishing for the last year, so take it with a grain of salt, a shot of tequila and a lime.

1) Don't ever compare yourself to another writer! Otherwise, I would have slit your throat, run your body through my Cuisenart and buried the pieces in Friend X's compost pile months ago.

2) Genre does matter. All those genres that agents and editors are saying are dead, like romcom, vampires and thrillers? Those are the ones kicking ass on Kindle right now.

3) Sometimes, the social media circus doesn't mean jack. The books I write under my name and plug the hell out of? They're doing 'Meh' sales. My alter-ego who's done zero promo work for her genre? She's kicking ass on both the Amazon and B&N charts.

4) Put more books up. Hubby did a rough calculation back in 2010. A writer needs an average of ten books to hit the tipping point of self-sustaining sales. Some do it with one book; some do it with the twentieth. I didn't see much of a change in sales until my seventh book went on sale. I noticed Friend Y stated kicking butt around her fifth.

5) Did I mention write more books? Try a different genre. Take a chance on something different. If you're worried, publish under a pseudonym. Don't stick all your eggs in one basket.

In other words, don't sweat the little stuff and keep writing.

I'll get off my soapbox now. Got to write the black moment scene, and I'm procrastinating.

Now mind you, my friend thought her sales sucked  when in fact, she's doing quite well. Success is a relative term in this business. Only you can define what it means for you.