PSA for LDS publishers

Y’all probably don’t read my blog. I curse muchly and there is “sex” in my banner, not to mention a bare nekkid lady.

Before you read any further (if you are still reading or the least bit interested), please go to these websites and study them. Ignore the content; I want you to see what they’re doing. Then come back. I’ll wait.

B10 Mediaworx.

My Bookstore and More (mostly Samhain Publishing‘s titles, but look under the “manufacturers” tab and see the other e-book publishers).


Ellora’s Cave.

Baen Books.

Zumaya Books.

Project Gutenberg.


Back? Cool. Now, please go here:

Amazon Kindle.

Sony e-book reader.




Palm Pre.

A more complete list of e-book readers.

Did you understand what I wanted you to see? Awesome!

As a consumer of e-books, I would like to offer you a friendly suggestion, which is to embrace the digital distribution of your titles. The e-book publishers I linked are making money hand over fist. The devices I linked are the way people read e-books. This will grow.

You probably don’t understand the seduction of having an entire library in your palm, and that’s okay. There are lots and lots of people who say they won’t give up print for anything, and then they get to live with an e-book reader for maybe two or three days, and they’re hooked.

There’s also something very seductive about being able to log onto an e-bookstore and download a bunch of books onto your device immediately. No driving. It’s all about impulse. I can talk myself out of an Amazon purchase because it involves shipping time. It leaves the shopping cart and goes into the wish list, never to be seen again. I don’t even want to go to a bookstore anymore.

I’ve now encountered three small LDS presses and individuals somewhere in the LDS publishing arena dismiss e-books as so much of a passing fad, a waste of time or, worse, think that “e-book” is synonymous with “PDF.” I simply have to shake my head at their short-sightedness.

Be on the cutting edge of the digital age of books. Take a cue from the church’s rabid embrace of the interwebz and streaming audio and its ability to reach its members nearly effortlessly.

But beyond that, the take-home message here is this: E-bookstores are dangerous to the health of my checkbook.

Want to know the real reason I don’t buy anything from Deseret Book, Zarahemla, Signature Books et al? No e-books. I want to read your books; really I do, but I’m not going back to paper unless you give me something terribly compelling. I buy e-books on impulse. Impulse. Hear that? IMPULSE.

Please give me a reason to throw my money at you in the middle of the night when one of your titles catches my eye. Pretty please?

Writers: Accept it and keep going. Or not.

Keep your day job.

Accept that you will not be able to quit your day job.

Regardless how much weeping and wailing and gnashing of the teeth goes on around the web about monetizing art, if you’re a writer not already pulling income that allows writing to be your day job, just deal with the fact that you probably aren’t going to.

In my mind, making peace with the fact that you have to keep your day job is a lot easier than spending all your creative energy to resent it. Ask me how I know.

Today, right now, as I look over the fiction writer landscape on the web, I see lots of writers I can slot into roughly five categories:

  1. The unpublished authors seeking publication via the normal route (query/reject/revise/repeat). They’re hustling to get an agent’s attention, and possibly spending money on ink/toner, paper, envelopes, and postage to do so. They aren’t earning any money.
  2. The midlist authors having to prove their numbers in order to get their next book contract, which means they have to hustle and market and fight to make sure people know their books exist (especially if they aren’t in Wal-Mart or Target). They probably aren’t earning enough to write full time.
  3. The self-published authors having to fight just to let people know they and their work exists. They probably aren’t earning enough to pay the cost of producing their book(s), much less earn a living.
  4. The career category authors (Harlequin/Silhouette) and e-published romance authors (Samhain, LooseId, Ellora’s Cave), a good portion of whom can earn a fairly decent living cranking out the books, but there’s a catch: Putting out enough books to make that kind of living has to be grueling. At least, it would be for me. YMMV. The advantage to e-publishing over career category publishing, though, is that your titles never go out of print and you have A) time to build a backlist and B) your backlist is forever available to any late-night shoppers with a credit card.
  5. The A- and B-list authors who have pressures of their own, I’m sure, to which I am not privy. This includes anyone who may (if they choose to) write only one book per year or fewer and earn a comfortable living doing so.

Now, I’m obviously #3, except that I’m doing okay: Not enough to quit doing my day job, but enough to bear out the investment of time and money. (See my Six-Year Plan.) However, my goal is the same as the e-published authors: Build the backlist and invest in the future.

I hate my day job. I really do. Yeah, it’s my own business but I hate the work, mostly because I’ve been doing it or something similar for years. It’s easier now that I have a couple of decent clients, but the work remains. I fight an uphill battle every day to Just Do It, but do it I must. Some days I’m more successful than others.

But the explosion of free versus paid writing that has kind of ballooned lately with Chris Anderson’s book Free, and Malcolm Gladwell’s review of that book in the New Yorker only reinforces the necessity of resigning myself to the fact that I must have a day job.

For now.

The fact of the matter is that I have better odds of doing so than unpublished authors who hold out hope that they’ll hit the lottery.

I also believe that I have better odds than those authors who have to prove every book via sales, even if all the stars are aligned against them (bad cover art, little marketing support, not being in Wal-Mart or Target); perhaps that myopic of me, but I’m hustling for 100% profit, while they’re hustling for 10% royalties and they’re locked into questionable digital contracts (amongst other things).

As for career category writing, I couldn’t do it (as stated above), especially within the restrictions of category. I know, because I tried, and missed the bullseye by half a hair every single time.

I also couldn’t do e-publishing because there isn’t one that would contract what I write, and I know that; I’d rather not waste their time or mine. Also, see above for the grind in order to make money.

Basically, what I have on my side is control and time. I’m going to write no matter what, and I’m going to write what the stories I have to tell. I’d rather put it out there for the opportunity to earn a little money than let it languish in the inboxes of agents who are also feeling the pinch.

Yeah, I think I’m in a really good position. I just can’t quit my day job.


I’m slowly coming to terms with that.

Guest blogging and Tools of Change

I’m over at Publishing Renaissance today, blogging part 3 about how The Bewbies came into existence; in case you missed them, see part 1 and part 2, too!


April Hamilton, independent publishing crusader extraordinary, built a new site called Publetariat, which will serve as kind of a clearinghouse/gathering space for independent-like authors. As soon as I figure out the Nixonian Drupal (you know, tricky dicky), I’ll be adding my voice over there. At least, uh, that’s what I’ve been s’posin’ to do for a while now and haven’t gotten to it. I’m sure April will find a suitable punishment for me.

The O’Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing conference went on earlier this week and I followed the comments on Twitter. Fascinating! although I’m not sure any conclusions can be drawn in any direction. Frankly, it seems to me nobody really knows what the hell’s going on in publishing right now. I will just keep on keepin’ on. By the way, a free e-book rundown of the conference is available for anyone who wants one.

A lot of what I saw related to the creative monetization of fiction, which ties in perfectly with The Urban Elitist‘s and my cross-blog series on the same.

The EPUB format drum continues to be beaten and pleasepleaseplease, PTB, do IT! All for one and one for all! The mp3 format of e-books. I cannot tell you how I salivate at the thought.

DRM was preached against as the Great Satan (which it is).

The guy behind the Espresso Book machine spoke. I don’t know what he said, but check out this video.

Some of my independent publishing cohorts and pals had a session. I wish I’d been there!

I’m coming to the conclusion that it will be another few years before e-books are widely read and that at that point, the value of the print book will be in POD pretty, well-made editions, hardback with gorgeous jackets and/or the ability to offer leather-bound and tooled editions or other specialty editions, where the object of the book is the art as well as the content. Until then, the market’s going to be in flux with regard to price, from free to outrageously overpriced. (I’ll blog this later; I have lots to say about this.)

In other news, the XY Tax Deduction went rooting in the cabinet and brought me a can of corn to make for him. So I did. He said, “I not hun’ry.”

Are authors like journals?

NOTE: This is the fourth in a series of several posts David Nygren of The Urban Elitist and I will be cross-blogging concerning the issue of authors (whether traditionally published, e-published, or self-published) actually getting paid for their work.

Yesterday (grimace) was David’s turn and he’s got me seriously thinking about that whole FREE thing again. I swear, the more we hash this out, the fewer solid opinions I’ve got.