indie publishing

The Music Industry Needs A Black Box…So Does Publishing

Hey, the music industry operates a lot like the Big Six.

A really thoughtful article about the state of the music industry now, and the changes needed to grow it. Chief among them–transparency. Particularly about who pays who for what, and how much.

Sounds like the very thing authors–new and old–have been asking for from the publishing industry. Hence sites by self-published authors and blogs by other writers who try to breakdown payments to give new writers an idea of what to expect. Still, like the music industry, it’s big picture info we really need.

It’s time to admit that it’s probably not for the sake of authors that the publishing industry–just like the music industry–holds on to this culture of secrecy regarding how much authors are paid. Sure you have to respect contracts and obviously Stephen King doesn’t need me up in his business.

Disgust reaction gifs

But I can find out how much an entry level job at Google pays, and I can’t find out how much the average author at the Big Six made last year. Which probably leads to both unrealistic expectations and the ability to underpay deserving writers in some circumstances, if you ask me.

And it makes for some pretty low cheques in the music industry, apparently.

Oh well…not my circus, not my monkeys, right?

Right?

Disgust reaction gifs

Enjoy the weekend and remember to have one on me!

Excerpt: The Nightward – The Lady Gretchen Sees Things Clearly

Here’s a bit more from The Nightward. Our little Queen and her protector have arrived at a Seat where they hope they will be safe.

Lady Gretchen stood a few feet from a torch as tall as Viyella herself, with Dagen on her right and the guard on her left.  None of them made a sound as they looked off into the distance and Viyella had an idea what they were staring at.  Steeling herself against the sight she had already witnessed, she stepped to the wall and stood on tip-toe.  She still could not manage to smother the gasp that immediately rose to her lips. 

What had only been an ink-blot before had grown into a massive, solid nothingness.  Not only had the High Court disappeared, but most of the grassland between it and Fairye as well.  The horizon before them was completely dark.  Tentacles so black they made the blackness of the night seem pale by comparison snaked along the sky and crawled across the land.  Heart beating, Viyella grabbed Dagen’s arm, causing him to glance down at her. 

“Viyella?” 

Behind her, she heard a low voice she recognized as Eleanor’s.  “This changes things greatly, my Lady.” 

“Indeed it does.”  The Lady made no attempt to hide her grim tone. 

She could not answer.  At that moment, one of the ropy lengths of darkness lifted away from the ground and swung a bulbous head toward her.  Her throat dried and cold, silvery feeling flowed through her veins.  A nameless compulsion made her want to throw herself, screaming, against the wall.  Instead, she hid her face against Dagen’s arm, the smell of blood and sweetgrass somehow keeping her still.  But it saw me and it will eat me.  I know it will. 

Dagen shook his arm slightly.  “Are you all right?” 

“I don’t want to see any more,” she answered still not looking up.  The cold feeling was beginning to fill her stomach now, and she felt ill.  She sensed someone kneel next to her.   

“Your Majesty, you must be brave.” 

She twisted her head.  Lady Gretchen’s clear-eyed gaze met hers.   

“It’s hurting me.” 

For the first time, the Lady touched her, smoothing her hair from her forehead.  Then she let her hand rest on Viyella’s brow.  A smell like the land on a summer’s day surrounded Viyella, and her eyes slid closed.  As if from far away, she heard Dagen ask a question. 

“Is it as you feared, my Lady?” 

Inside Viyella, the cold seemed to melt.  Warmth pushed it away like the sun’s rays on a winter morning.  With it came a memory of her mother’s smile, the smell of her perfume as she hugged Viyella.  I want Mommy.  She felt tears start to trail down her cheeks. 

“It is the Nightward.”  The hand lifted away from Viyella’s forehead and a sudden draft chilled the skin there.  “And it comes for her.” 

Have a great weekend and stay thirsty, my friends!

Excerpt from LEX TALIONIS Sequel: Iacta Alea Est – Analise Mentions An Old Friend

I allowed myself to become completely distracted by “So You Think You Can Dance” so my post is late today. And because I’m being lazy, I’ve decided to give you a little excerpt from my other Work In Progress. This is from the sequel to LEX TALIONIS, which I’m calling IACTA ALEA EST (The Die Is Cast) for now. In it, we meet Shalon again, and one of her new friends. It’s not perfect (lots of editing passes to go) but I hope you have fun with it.

Analise Macon swept his wet, orange tongue over his broad face and black-bead eyes before gracing Shalon with grin.  “Shalon, how nice of you to call.”

“Analise.”  Shalon propped her foot up on the console in front of the captain’s chair and settled back into her seat.  “How have you been?”

“Not as good as you.  A Kaag freighter?  You are even more blessed by the Will than I thought.”

“God had nothing to do with it, Analise.”  Shalon smiled at the holo, which had been set to show Analise as he relaxed on the pillows in his office.  It was impossible not to like the rotund Roulon factor.  Even if he had proven himself to be one of the cleverest and most ruthless black-market operators around.

“Like the wind against a flag, the Will moves all things, even those that are unaware of its existence.”  Analise stretched his small jaw, revealing pointed teeth, cream in his mottled pink and brown face.  “But enough of this existential poctae.  One of my clients is very interested in the weapons shipment the freighter was supposed to be carrying.”

“How lucky for me.  I’m very interested in selling.”  Shalon flicked at some dirt under her thumb-nail. 

“Would an hour’s time be too soon to begin negotiations?”  

Damn it.  “Actually, yes.  I have a prior engagement.”

Analise made a grating noise that sounded like the prelude to an attack, and meant that he was surprised.  “More important than my offer?”

“Much more important.”

The Roulon waved a six fingered hand.  “I am saddened by how little I mean to you.  I count you amongst my true friends, yet see how you brush me away.”

Shalon rolled her eyes.  “You’ll get over it.  I’ll come by the hotel with an inventory tomorrow, so don’t go anywhere.”

“I would not miss your visit for all the wealth in Sudamin’s palace.  Wherever it is.”

And before I forget…  “By the way, Sojo said you linked me earlier?”

“Yes.”  Analise cocked his head.  “I have a visitor at my hotel who asked to see you.”

Shalon frowned.  “Me?  What is he, a mercenary? Soldier?”

The Roulon coughed, an expression of amusement.  “You would not ask that if you had seen him.  No, he is not of our world.  He is a doctor.  Colin Mayfeld?  He said you would know who he was.”     

Shalon covered her start by gathering her hair behind her neck.  My God.  She took a breath, forced her heart to stop racing.  Colin Mayfeld.  A name out of a past she had thought gone for good.  Colin had saved her life years ago, in more ways than one, but she’d only contacted him a couple of times since then.  In the last few years, her network had checked up on him now and again so she could make sure he was okay and remained well clear of her enemies.  So why is he here now, and asking for me?

“Did he tell you why he wants to meet with me?”

“He said it was private.  That he could only speak to you.”

Stay thirsty, my friends!

Excerpt: The Nightward – Farain the Cat

Another snippet from Viyella’s story. In truth, I’m well past these bits, but I don’t let myself post unless I’ve done lots of fresh work. Just keeping myself honest 😉

Hope you like it!

He stood and sent out one more thought.  Yowls filled the courtyard, punctuated by screams.  Seconds later, his cat Farain rounded the corner, his tail lashing the ground, his golden beard dripping blood on the stones.  Farain threw his head back and roared at the night sky, the sound alone enough to unhinge a man’s courage.  Dagen felt the scream building in Viyella, and he clamped a merciless hand over her mouth.          

“Silence,” he hissed, “or you’ll meet your mother’s fate.”     

Tears slicked his fingers, but he felt her shudder once more and then go still.  He removed his hand and called the cat closer.  With one more twist of its red, red tail, the cat obliged, thinking vague bloody thoughts in its indistinct but unique pattern.  Farain had no saddle, but Dagen had done without on many occasions, and at the moment, he had no time to inquire if the Princess was capable of the same.       

Gripping a handful of the coarse long fur that ridged the cat’s spine, he swung himself up on the sinewy back, fur prickling him between the joints of his armor.  He bent down and swept the gasping Princess onto Farain’s back, settling her between his arms.     

“Grip with your legs–tight.  Good.  Now, hold the fur with both hands and don’t let go.”     

She followed his instructions with a silent obedience he had never guessed she could muster.       

“Now,” he said, still in his low voice, half his mind engaged in soothing the cat into accepting this extra and unaccustomed burden, “this would be a good time to use that incantation you’re so fond of to hide us.”     

“I can’t,” she whispered back, fear making her voice tremble.  “I’m not strong enough.  I can only hide myself for a few minutes.”     

He sighed.  My luck runs with distressing consistency this night.  “Then hold on Princess, and pray that Ragat arrows find their target with more difficultly when a Dagen’s speed accompanies it.”     

He spun the cat around and dug his heels in.   

Have a great weekend. Stay thirsty, my friends!

Writers Write Different

A while back, there was a conversation on one of my email lists about an award-winning author who had announced her intention to quite the publishing game. I can’t remember her name (it was QUITE a while ago) but I remember she was a British literary writer who had won awards. Her problem, as far as I can remember, was that she felt she couldn’t produce her best work within the timeframe and pressure of publishing deadlines. She was a fairly slow writer who took years to get to the end of a manuscript and the pressure of deadlines was stifling her, so she announced she would no longer be publishing.

What surprised me was the vitriol on my list toward her. I wasn’t participating on the list at the time, due to some deadlines of my own, but I was reading the posts and every one of them went something like, ‘How dare she? I would kill for her publishing deal and the ungrateful [insert uncharitable phrase] is throwing all that away because she’s SLOW?!’ Followed by contemptuous recountings about how many books they could finish a year (ranging from two to one a month), and how she should just suck it up and stop whining.

Personally, I completely get how that writer felt. I’m fairly slow for a writer depending on what I’m doing. I’ve been working on one novel for several years, for example. LEX TALIONIS took me 6 months to write and another 6 months to edit to my satisfaction. It then took me several agent and publisher submissions and huge rewrites over several years to get it edited well enough to publish, but that’s another story. (Hint: You never stop editing. Never. The book will be on the shelf, available for sale for months and you’ll see another typo and pull your hair out.)

However, I also finished a book in one month once, and a story (which I published) in a total of 2 hours writing time and about 3 hours editing time spread out over a week as beta readers responded. I’ve noticed that I wrote more, and faster, when I was younger and making a lot of mistakes, and that as I mature in the craft, I’m getting slower on the bigger projects (like series) and faster on the stand-alones (like stories).

My point is this: writers do not approach writing the same way. Writers write different. And sometimes, the same writer writes different. Some writers take 10 years to finish a novel, and I know a writer who once took 10 days. Some writers do better with deadlines, and some feel pressured and can’t produce at all under one. Some writers can be all of the above on different projects, or days. I’m like that. Sometimes a deadline helps me focus. Other times it paralyzes me. A famous writer once said, the best gift you can give a writer is free time. Without it, I feel pressured to get the housework done, or focus on my paying job, rather than give myself the time needed to write. I know from talking to other writers that I’m not alone.

Look, rather than let our petty jealousies about awards and publishing deals get in the way, let’s give ourselves permission to acknowledge and respect each other’s processes. The writing craft is hard, time intensive and doesn’t ever end. Anyone who has managed to get a book out of it deserves respect. Anyone who has managed to get someone else to pay for that book has accomplished a freaking miracle. And all of us could use support whether we get there or not.

Part of my process involves taking forever on some things, and finishing others in a flash. But quality is not determined by speed of production. A writer should not be condemned because they chose to be honest about the way the publishing world affects their craft or the way they get to a manuscript they feel proud of. In fact, writers can learn a lot from each other and the different ways we go about things. I know the best part of learning to write was all the time I spent reading and making friends with other writers on the OWW. I knew writers there who worked on books for years and others who worked on them for months. They were all eventually published. You know why? Because readers, publishers, agents–they only care about the work.

It would do a lot of beginning writers a lot of good to realise that’s all they should care about too. Criticizing people who already put themselves out there does no one any good and only serves to make you feel self-satisfied.

Here’s a better idea. Learn from other writers. Don’t repeat the mistakes you think they make. Do copy all the things they do right. Respect and support other writers. And most of all, keep writing the way that works best for you. Let the awards fall where they may and the criticism come from elsewhere because you are too busy being true to yourself.

In the words of Kid President, ‘Be Awesome!’

Because, life is too short, you know?

High five reaction gifs

Stay thirsty, my friends!

LEX TALIONIS Has Won An IPPY Award!

I’ve been sitting on this for a few days, ever since my last day at the BOCAS Lit Fest actually, and I still can hardly believe it myself.

But the proof is right here.

LEX TALIONIS, my debut novel, was just awarded the Silver Medal for Best Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror Ebook by the Independent Publishers Book Awards. It’s the first award for my book, and the first time I’ve won a prize in a writing competition since I was a teenager.

How do I feel about this, you ask?

Hmmm…let me see…

Dance party hard reaction gifs

Dance party hard reaction gifs

Nailed it amazed excited reaction gifs

Nailed it amazed excited reaction gifs

Any more questions?

No?

Then excuse me because I have alcohol to drink.

Stay thirsty, my friends!

Luc – An Excerpt From The Sequel To LEX TALIONIS

Yeah, you read that right. I’m in a good mood because the writing is flowing these days, so you get another little peek.

Luc is a small but important character in IACTA ALEA EST (The Die is Cast). Here’s the introduction to him. Extra points if you can guess who he’s waiting for.

The man who had sold his name and his life stood against the wall of the spaceport terminal and watched streams of people and aliens move past in front of him.  No-one looked in his direction.  Not because he could not be seen, but because he did not wish to be seen. 

Even in the bright light of the busy terminal, even with the main doors on his right placing him near the path of all the comings and goings, the simple dark wrap he wore seemed to pull all regard into the black hole of its existence.  He stood within the concealing layers of his hood and cloak, motionless but for the never-ceasing movement of his eyes.  They were amber as a cat’s, startling in the harsh, unapologetic angles of his coffee-brown face. 

His hands folded across his chest, his fingers thrust into the soft warmth of his sleeves, he watched the row of disposable comm patch booths along the terminal wall opposite him.  Above the white half-dome booths and chairs, the transperiwall rose to a ceiling that showed a darkness deep enough to touch.  Tiny lights sparkled and winked within it like stars.

Below this, the spaceport bustled and resonated with hundreds of voices from hundreds of organs.  Grey, flat-headed Algarans lumbered through the crowd, swinging powerful arms.  A group of Kaag mercenaries, cocking their ears at each other in an animated fashion, brushed through the door, snapping at passersby stupid enough to touch them.  Environmental protection suits–most tinted to keep stares out–rolled or floated past, an array of exotic shapes and colors.  

Seconds after a clutch of Wensts females passed him, so well hidden by their clothing they looked like moving bundles of sparkling cloth, he spotted her.

She strode through the main doors, hands buried in the pockets of a grey jumpsuit, and headed for the comm booths. She looked neither left nor right, but he knew she had seen him.

Dark hair hung loose to her shoulders, obscuring her profile.  She forded the constant movement of those around her with practiced ease as she moved across the main terminal floor, never giving the roving security duos of blue clad Troopers so much as a wary glance. 

When she reached the booths, she took up a position next to the last one on his left.  As soon as the user–a human male–exited, she entered, closed the door and activated the tint.

He gave her ten minutes, made sure they had not been noticed, then leaned away from the wall and headed toward a booth in the middle of the row. 

Hope you liked it. Drop some lines from your latest work in the comments, if you like, and join in the fun.

Stay thirsty, my friends!

Kameron Hurley Gets Real With Writers

I read this piece today at Chuck Wendig’s blog. It said what I believe about the writing business, but in a much more elegant way. There is, for example, a reason I called it a business. But when award-winning writer Kameron Hurley says it, it sounds so much better.

Must be that whole ‘award-winning writer’ thing.

Seriously, I wish every author would read this article and take note.

After reading that, I meandered on to this article, also a guest post by Hurley. This one really hit home, particularly since I’ve just published a book myself, quickly realising the things she spoke so eloquently of here.

I think every writer should read this article too. Because it’s inspirational.

I’ve been psyching myself out over a bad review here and there, and fretting over my lack of success, as I saw it. But recently, my sister helped me put some things in perspective. She reminded me that even when things were darkest in my life, I kept writing. Now, at the beginning of the writing career I’ve always wanted, I’m talking myself out of doing what I’ve always loved because of my doubts.

Talk about acting senselessly.

This is the one thing I’ve always come back to. The one thing I feel I can do better than most people. Something I love to do. And I’m actually talking myself out of it because of some misguided sense that I haven’t achieved anything.

Kameron is raw and real here and she shares some really personal things.  Thank god she talked about how important persistence is. And how it’s really not about getting to the top, because there is no top. There is simply the journey.

That made me remember that I decide what success is. I am the one who can stop me from achieving. No one else. If I want to continue writing, I can. I just have to remember that it’s all about action. I can’t write if I don’t write. And if I want to do this for a living, I can’t not write.

So I’m going to write.

The Best Thing I Ever Ate

Lawrence M. Schoen–who needs to teach me the Klingon language some day–graciously invited me to partake of his unusual feature, ‘Eating Authors’, in which various authors recall their most memorable meal.

Find out what was my favourite meal ever and why.

Just click here.

And if you came here because you found me through Dr. Schoen’s blog or my Twitter feed:

Thank you reaction gifs

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is, Amazon

Really, Amazon, really? This is what we’ve come to?

I won’t even bother to talk about the absurdity of trying to rope indie and self-publishers into your argument with a publisher they have NOTHING TO DO WITH. Smarter people than I have already done that.

And this is a reader’s perspective on this. If you have problems with the profane, you may want to avert your eyes, but she makes some really salient points.

I will say one thing. One last thing about this silly, never-ending story of two big companies throwing tantrums all over the book world.

Amazon, if you really believe that books will sell best at $9.99 and Hachette doesn’t want to give you the prices you need to do that, you should pick one of the two choices you have and run with it.

Let them swing by their own petard–after all, they’ll sell less if they price the book higher, according to the figures you won’t provide the metadata for. This will work out great for you as you will get all the sales they so foolishly left behind.

Or stop selling Hachette’s books. Since they won’t play ball with you, exercise the Walmart option and just take your business to the cheapest bidder.

Aside from these two options, I really don’t see what else you hope to achieve. Dragging indie authors into this mess is stupid. And I would add, I would LOVE for Hachette to keep selling at a premium. Readers will pay more for JK Rowling anyway. But my book might get their attention on the day they only have seven bucks to play with, and I’d like that to continue.

One thing I know for certain. As an indie author, I’m not interested in letting ANYONE set my prices for me. Nope, not even you and not even if you gave me the metadata to prove their figures. As the content provider, I will set my prices and let the customers decide what they want to pay, and they speak very clearly without any help just by walking on by when they don’t approve, thank you very much.

So put your money where your mouth is, Amazon. After all, if you’re sure you make more money at $9.99, then let Hachette eat cake. What do you care? You make 30% either way. And we’ll see the truth of it in the lowered profit reports next year, right?

Yeah, I probably won’t hold my breath on that one.

Popcorn dis gon b gud reaction gifs