Archive for April, 2011

Flee is a fast paced, well-written thrill ride. Easy to read and impossible to put down it takes the reader into a world of spies and espionage. This book kept me on the edge of my seat the whole way through. If you like reading thrillers or detective fiction, this book is for you.

If you like Flee, or books like Flee, you might also like Joe Konrath’s Jack Daniels stories. Jack is a woman — I hadn’t known that! — and a very cool character; she reminded me of Sam Spade. I’m looking forward to reading these.

From viewshound.com:

The world’s first crowd-sourced news site that pays daily cash prizes for the best submitted content is launching soon – and wants your stories!

With a focus on features, comment and opinion pieces, we allow anyone to submit original articles, photos and cartoons and compete for a prize pot of $120 every day!

Further Reading:
Niall Firth from NewScientist, Crowdsorcing website offers prizes for best stories.

Penguin Group’s latest venture is Book Country, a website for writers of genre fiction. According to a New York Times article by Julie Bosman, Penguin says that the site is intended to help build a community of writers by, among other things, giving them the ability to comment on and critique the manuscripts of other writers.

In addition to forming a community of writers and telling them a about how the traditional publishing industry works; agents, agents and publishers can swing by bookcountry.com and look for new talent, giving writers who use Book Country a way to get in contact with industry professionals that they wouldn’t otherwise have.

One thing I was curious about. Penguin said that in a few months time they will attempt to generate revenue from the site by giving members of Book Country a way to self-publish their books for a fee by ordering printed copies. I’m not sure what that means. However, given the recent success of ebooks as a publishing format I wonder why Putnam is putting emphasis on printed copies which are far more expensive to produce and store than electronic copies.

It will be interesting to watch and see what happens.

Writing a query letter is hard work — nearly as hard as writing the book! That was my experience at least. Nathan Bransford’s blog got me through it and helped me produce a query letter I was happy with. I highly recommend this post to anyone writing a query letter: Query Letter Mad Lib.

Here is the skeleton query:

Dear [Agent name],

I chose to submit to you because of your wonderful taste in [genre], and because you [personalized tidbit about agent].

[protagonist name] is a [description of protagonist] living in [setting]. But when [complicating incident], [protagonist name] must [protagonist’s quest] and [verb] [villain] in order to [protagonist’s goal].

[title] is a [word count] work of [genre]. I am the author of [author’s credits (optional)], and this is my first novel.

Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Best wishes,
[your name]

Nathan Bransford has other terrific posts about writing a query letter that I’ve included links to, below.

Happy querying!

Query Letter Mad Lib
How to Write a Query Letter
Example of a Good Query Letter
Example of a Good Query Letter II
Example of a Good Query Letter III
How to Format a Query Letter
Query Critiques
Query Critique

Kristine Kathryn Rusch says the answer may be yes, if her royalty statements are anything to judge by. She writes:

I had looked at my royalty statements from a Big Six publisher, and could not believe the e-book number. It wasn’t in the realm of reality, particularly given the sales of novellas in the same series that I had put up on Kindle myself. According to all the information I had access to, the novellas sold fewer copies than the traditionally published e-book. The royalty statement, however, indicated that my indie e-books had outsold the traditionally published one ten times over.

I knew that wasn’t possible, and started researching the numbers behind the scenes with lawyers, accountants, agents, writers, and other friends inside the publishing industry. I learned that I wasn’t seeing something unique to me: I was seeing an industry-wide problem that no one was talking about.

That is what Kristine Rusch shared in her April 13th blog post. In her April 20th post Kristine Rusch announced that other traditionally published writers had read her blog, checked their own numbers, and told her that they had found the same thing. Kristine Rusch concluded that,

Apparently, some of the Big Six publishers are significantly underreporting the actual number of e-books sold on writers’ royalty statements.

Wow! But that’s not all.

I heard from dozens upon dozens of traditionally published writers last week, and to a person without exception, they had all looked at their royalty statements and found discrepancies like the ones I found. …

Because of my blog post, at least a dozen writers sat down with numbers and calculators in hand. These writers compared the sales of their self-published e-book titles to the sales of their traditionally published e-book titles, and found startling discrepancies. Even adjusting for price differences (Big Six e-books were priced higher than the self-published books), these writers discovered that their Big Six publishers reported e-book sales of one-tenth to one-one-hundredth of their indie-published titles.

Some of these writers are bestsellers. Their bestselling frontlist novels (released in the past year)—with full advertising and company wide support—sold significantly fewer copies than their self-published e-books, books that had been out for years, books that had no promotion at all.

I say again: Wow! I am not a traditionally published author, but, if I was, I would be concerned. It is mind-boggling that some writers discovered that their Big Six publishers reported e-book sales of one-one-hundredth of their indie-published titles. One-one-hundredth!

If the royalty statements Kristine Rusch mentions are incorrect and publishers are withholding significant amounts of royalties from authors, then authors have been cheated out of a lot of money, especially if this has been going on for some time.

Let me play devils advocate for a moment. What if the royalty statements are correct? Independently published titles generally sell for much less than those published by the Big Six. Generally an ebook published by one of the Big Six is priced around $10 while a title from an independent author usually sells for under $5, usually well under $5. Speaking for myself, most of the ebooks I have bought have been under $3. That means that I can afford to buy about three times as many independently published ebooks as those that have been traditionally published.

Of course, that still wouldn’t account for those cases where where the reported sales of traditional ebooks was one-one-hundredth of the independently published ones.

I’m looking forward to Kristine Rusch’s next blog post about this. Stay tuned.

Links:
Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s April 13th post
Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s April 20th post

I didn’t know who John Locke was — the author not the 17th century philosopher — until I read Joe’s March 8th blog. Still, I didn’t grasp the significance of Locke’s success until, this morning, I read Jeffrey Trachtenberg’s article, Cheapest Ebooks Upend the Charts.

Trachtenberg writes that successful independent authors, many of whom price their books below $5, are drawing readers away from brand name authors.

A case in point is writer John Locke. Mr. Locke, an independent author who primarily writes thrillers, published his first 99 cent paperback two years ago at age 58. In March of this year, Mr. Locke earned $126,000 dollars from his books.

Mr. Locke says:

When I saw that highly successful authors were charging $9.99 for an e-book, I thought that if I can make a profit at 99 cents, I no longer have to prove I’m as good as them. Rather, they have to prove they are ten times better than me.

I had thought of entitling this blog: John Locke and the rebirth of pulp fiction.

According to Neil Gaiman the answer is a resounding “No!

I was going to post this link a while ago and then reconsidered because I know that many published authors, some of whom I know personally, are deeply offended by the piracy of their work. I can understand this and feel for them but I think the point that Neil Gaiman is addressing isn’t about the ethics of piracy as much as it is about the impact of piracy on an author’s book sales.

I decided to publish this link after reading a blog by Timo Boezeman entitled, Fighting Piracy is the dumbest thing you can do. He made what I thought were interesting points about the financial impact of piracy.