Monday, February 25, 2013

What Is She Up To? (or Writing and Wondering)

Tip of the Day: My hubby is a writer too! Check out the two brand new tracks he's written, produced, and posted for his new band, Blue Falcon. They're FREE on this FaceBook page! Thanks in advance for checking it out. :)

(Won't this look hot on a t-shirt?)

So while my husband has been getting his music "out there," I have been...starting a new middle grade project.

"But, but, but, what about the nine other books you've already written, Deena?" you may be asking. "Shouldn't you be getting those 'out there'?"

Or maybe that's the voice of my conscience coming through like a ghostly voice on Zak Baggins' EVP recorder.

Either way, here is where I reply, "Yes. Yes I should. BUT I CAN'T FOCUS ON ONE PROJECT!"

My plan last fall was to get my YA speculative thriller polished so I could e-pub it this summer -- if nothing else happened with my other books. But when I dove into it at the end of January, I found myself stalling and working on it soooo slooowly.

Fear of epubbing it? Boredom with the story? Disinterest in writing the sequel?

I'm not sure.

Then I went to the NYC SCBWI National Conference (SO FABULOUS, and now I am in even more love with Mo Willems (he is basically elephant and piggy personified) and Julie Andrews (so lovely AND beautiful with her daughter!) than ever), and I got excited to query agents on my MG novel and of course I got an idea growing stronger in my head for ANOTHER MG instead of getting the YA ready.

So what have I been working on? The new MG. And it is so fun to write! Plus I have some agents reading my completed MG and I keep thinking, what if I sell that traditionally and I want a follow-up MG to sub?

Ah yes, here I am thinking ten steps ahead of where I might be one day...instead of just working on the one thing I can control: perfecting my YA speculative thriller and epubbing it.

That is the beauty of the self-epubbing world right now: writers CAN take control of their own publication, and in some ways have the same odds of reaching their target audience as midlist trad pubbed authors.

In retrospect, I'm glad self-epubbing wasn't as accepted when I started writing YA novels eight years ago because I may have made the mistake of pubbing my quite crappy early drafts and early novels, thinking they were actually really good. But now, after years of writing and revising and learning and reading, I KNOW my YA speculative thriller is good -- and the sequel will rock, too.

That said, my plan right now is to:
1. Fast-draft the MG throughout March
2. Fast-edit the YA throughout April and get it epubbed by September, when the novel takes place


Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Do Sales Totals Matter?

You see it everywhere in the indie community. It's like a headline news story.

I SOLD 5,000 eBOOKS!
I SOLD 10,000 eBOOKS!!
I SOLD 20,000 eBOOKS!!!
I SOLD 100,000 eBOOKS!!!!!!!!!

In the traditionally published community, total sales numbers are very hush hush. No one wants to talk about them. There's a few reasons for this:

(1) It can tank your career if you don't sell "enough."
I'm pretty sure the definition of "enough" changes based on genre.

(2) Publishers don't want everyone knowing their most intimate stats.
I can understand this from a business perspective.

(3) There's too much judgement without the proper framing.
Not everyone understands the economics of publishing and releasing such basic stats can skew understanding of what's successful and what's not.

(4) It takes away from the mystique.
We all know there's a bit of magic surrounding the industry.

(5) It's uncouth.
Yes, I was actually told this once by another author who shall remain nameless.

So why do self-pubs go around screaming their sales numbers from the rooftop?

(1) They've achieved something big.
Authors worry all the time about sales, so it's exciting when you've done it on your own.

(2) We want people to know.
If you know how much I've sold, then maybe it gives me some validation.

(3) Judge me, go for it!
People who've been rejected a million times or told they are failing by self-publishing want to prove the naysayers wrong.

(4) It adds to the mystique.
It's true. When you hear I've sold (not given away freebies) over 50,000 ebooks, I bet it makes you look at me a little differently.

(5) It's totally wicked.
Screw uncouth. Sales numbers are a validation that self-publishing is a viable business option.

Look, some people will always be uncomfortable discussing money. That's okay. No one HAS to divulge their numbers. I know my husband would ignore you if you ask him how much he makes as an electrical engineer.

But a lot of indie authors are loud and proud about their accomplishments. They should be! Many of them have achieved something unheard of five years ago.

Here's the rub (isn't there always one): Sales numbers don't indicate quality. I have friends who've self-published some really incredible novels. Literary quality, profound, the kind of books that never leave your soul. And yet where are their astronomical sales? They aren't there. Not even close.

Take everything with a grain of salt. High sales numbers don't indicate a particular novel is the best book ever written. What it means is a lot of people bought it. It doesn't even mean a lot of people have read it (unless they have a really high number of reviews). I don't know about you, but I have tons of unread books sitting on my bookshelves and in my iPad's Kindle app.

It also means nothing toward income. 100,000 sales of 99 cent ebooks is $35,000. I've sold around 50,000 and made more than double that amount. Don't equate high sales to high income.

So what do sales numbers mean? Nothing. Unless you're the author, then they mean everything.

Megg, Miss Enchanted ePubber

Friday, February 8, 2013

Paying your Dues…

Things in publishing seem to be changing super quickly lately. An interesting trend is the fact of how quickly you can move through the publishing process now with ePubbing a book yourself.

I recently read a debut novel by an author that was written and published within three months (give or take). Now I can barely write a book in three months, let alone edit one completely and get it ready for publication. But I know there are lots of other people out there that can.

Even just a few years ago, if someone would have posted on a blog that they were sending a manuscript into editors or agents after that short of time, they probably would have gotten many comments that told them to back off and wait until it’s revised more. And for many people it would have been good advice, since it probably wasn't ready to be submitted—especially if it was the person’s first attempt at writing fiction.
There also would have been many comments about how the person should do tons of research on all the different agents and editors out there to make sure they are knowledgeable about the industry.

Then if it did end up getting accepted by an agent, there were likely to be months of revisions, and then if it was accepted by an editor there would be months of even more revisions and then a long wait for it to come out as a finished book.

No way would a book have gotten into the public’s hands in a short three-month’s time. But the rules have completely changed now.

Self-published authors are increasingly getting quicker with their release times to meet their reader’s demands, and having an author debut a book in that amount of time is probably not that uncommon now.

Some of the books might be horrible, but in the case of the book I mentioned, I greatly enjoyed it. And I wasn't alone because it didn't take that book long to become a New York Times bestseller and then eventually get picked up by a traditional publisher and then published with them almost as quickly.

Now, I don’t think this author’s story is the norm, since it’s very hard to get on the New York Times bestseller list no matter what route you take to publication. But it is interesting that you can become so popular, so quickly, without essentially paying your dues as a writer first.

It's very similar to how American Idol, the Voice, etc. can turn someone who has never sung in front of a group into an overnight success. Generally the public likes that feel good story of instant success, probably because everyone wishes it were them in some fashion.

Also on those shows, the people who have had a recording contract before are usually given tons of bad press, because the public feels like they had their shot and didn't make it so it’s time to move onto another person. I think that’s tremendously sad, since people are getting bashed in the media for essentially working hard and never giving up on their dreams of more success.

Since publishing seems to be closely following behind the music industry, I hope that doesn't become a norm with publishing—that you are essentially punished for having one book that doesn't make it. I think on some level it already does happen, since if you have poor sales your publishing company might not pick up another book. But usually there are other routes for you to go. And now that Indie publishing—just like Indie music—is becoming easier to navigate, there’s always that route to go to find success as well.

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

New Adult (or I Guess This is Growing Up*)

*with apologies to Blink 182

Tip of the Day: Get ready for the WriteOnCon Luck 'O the Irish Pitch Fest in March! Start prepping your pitches now and get feedback in February. Get details on various book blogger sites.

As any YA writer who pays attention to the wide cast of the internets knows, the subject of New Adult has been gaining more and more attention.

If you do need to catch up, the awesome bloggers at School Library Journal's Adult Books 4 Teens (more specifically this post here; and you can search for "new adult" and get more hits) talk about the topic, as do the writers at NA Alley.

The pov I'm using to write this post is from my YA Librarian position, and the format I'm focusing on for the New Adult materials is print books, and the definition of New Adult I'm going to use is from NA Alley:

We view New Adult fiction (NA) as a category of literature —- meaning, it gives readers content expectations, but it does not dictate genre-based criteria. Typically, a novel is considered NA if it encompasses the transition between adolescence —- a life stage often depicted in Young Adult (YA) fiction —- and true adulthood.

Protagonists typically fall between the ages of eighteen and twenty-six, though exceptions may apply. NA characters are often portrayed experiencing: college, living away from home for the first time, military deployment, apprenticeships, a first steady job, a first serious relationship, etc.

In my role at a public library with a specialty in materials for grades 6-12, the idea of New Adult as a focus from publishers is both fabulously awesome and a tidge bit daunting.

First, why the idea of NA rocks:

1. As an 18-22 year old college student, I remember it being difficult to find books that related to my life experience, and although today there are more titles that cover that time period in a young adult's life, there is still a gap compared to those titles focusing on older and younger age brackets.

2. As a 16-17 year old high school student, I remember it being difficult to find books that related to the life experiences I expected for myself (college), and again, there is still a gap compared to those titles focusing on other age brackets.

3. As a YA Librarian, I love reading, compiling, and recommending the Alex Awards titles and highlighting them in my YA area even though they are published by adult imprints and purchased by the Adult Services Librarian and her budget for the reasons listed below -- although those Alex Award titles don't often reflect the NA definition above.

4. I'm sure a number of great authors have NA stories in them, and that it is difficult for them to find publishers, so it is great for there to be a wider opportunity for stories that would be loved and appreciated by readers.

Now, why the idea of NA is a tidge bit daunting:

1. If YA imprints pick up NA titles, I can purchase them with my YA budget and shelve the books in my YA section because it spans grades 6-12...BUT if NA imprints become their "own thing" and the price point is higher than YA titles, it will be trickier for me to stretch my budget (since my budget is based on YA prices).

2. If adult imprints pick up NA titles, I COULD purchase them with my YA budget, but most likely the Adult Services Librarian and her budget would have to purchase them due to the price point...and I might have to continuously recommend these titles to her since they may be off her radar.

3. If the adult budget buys the NA titles, then they will be shelved with the adult books, interfiled by author, so without a pathfinder for readers, the books will not stand out.

4. Even though my YA Area is for grades 6-12, some parents/teachers/readers may complain that "risque" NA titles for 18-year-olds should not be in the same area as books for 12-year-olds (even though I don't have a problem with it).

Overall, I will embrace the New Adult books as they come down the pike, and take each reviewed/recommended title on a case-by-case basis to see which library division should purchase it/where it should be shelved, and time will tell how successful any of these marketing attempts turn out to be.

What are your thoughts on New Adult titles in libraries and where they should be shelved?

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing