Thursday, April 28, 2011

Riddles and Validations

M.E. Hydra

Riddle me this:

What’s the difference between a self-pubbed author who sells X copies and a trad-pubbed author who sells X copies?

(I haven’t, by the way, but if you’d like to help me achieve this goal and have a liking for weird, kinky horror, please feel free to mosey on over here…)

It’s easy to be insecure as a writer. There aren’t finishing lines to cross first, opponents to punch out or teams to score more points than. As with most creative endeavours, where quality is subjective, it’s hard to tell if you’re any good or not.

Acceptance with a publishing house gives validation, or so the argument goes (although Joe Konrath refers to it as an example of Stockholm Syndrome). It’s a stamp of approval. Get that deal—and the advance—and a writer can say with authority, “Yes, I am a real author!”

The problem with self-publishing is the ‘published’ part is always going to come with air quotes. If any old oik can shove their badly written mush up onto Amazon, then ‘being published’ no longer feels like an achievement. For that reason self-publishing is often pushed aside and treated as a special case. If the author had to do it themselves, they probably weren’t good enough to be published in the first place. I think many of us have held this view at some point and some almost certainly still do. Check the membership guidelines of professional writers' organisations like the HWA and SFWA and you’ll see very clear stipulations on what does or doesn’t count as a valid publication for obtaining active membership.

Now that the ebook explosion has burst the dam, how important is the traditional stamp of approval?

As validation goes, that stamp is only a proxy when you think about it. To use a simple fantasy analogy, it’s an entrance exam granting permission to go and slay the dragon. Congratulations! You passed. But you still have to go and kill that dragon…

If someone else decides to skip all those stupid trials, goes straight to the dragon and hacks its head right off, are they any less of a dragonslayer?

In this case the dragon—and true validation—is finding an audience, whether it is small and distinguished or massive and lucrative.

What happens when more and more writers choose to go it alone, not because they aren’t good enough, but because it makes more economic sense than signing away a huge chunk of their royalties? Clauses like this (from HWA’s active membership requirements)

With the sole exception of comic books, self-published work can not be used for qualification purposes. "Self-published work" is defined as written material disseminated by the author (for example, email or electronic publications, publication on the author's Web site, or printed publications sold on consignment or solely by the author), or written material whose basic publication costs are defrayed in whole or in part by the author.

will cease to make any sense. As will references to 5¢/word rates and minimum advances.

Riddle me this:

Person A gets a $5,000 advance from an accredited publisher, but only goes on to sell a couple of hundred copies. Person B makes $10,000 a month selling 99¢ self-published ebooks on Amazon. Which one is the professional author?

(I’m not trying to bash the HWA, by the way. I was a fresh-faced wannabe member a while back and I found them helpful in terms of market information and discovering new writers I hadn’t read before.)

Which leads us back to the original question:

What’s the difference between a self-pubbed author who sells X copies and a trad-pubbed author who sells X copies?

My gut says the answer is this:

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Self-Pubbed Cinderella

Hi everyone, I'm erotic author Mia Natasha, and today is my first post here on The Self Publishing Revolution.  Apparently the erotica I write is very explicit, more so than the average.  Which means that I have few options for publishing the work unless I do it on my own.  I was lucky to find a fit with Selena Kitt and Excessica.  Cinderella Club is actually doing well on right now because it is in the top 20 bestsellers in the category of rape.  I know, I'm not sure if I should be embarrassed about that or not.  I don't consider non-consent rape, because in my world the men are handsome and sexy and the women are unwilling at first but only because they  feel too guilty to be willing.  It's just a fantasy as all fiction is. 

There are plenty of women who share the reluctance fantasy.  I had read an article in Glamour magazine that said about 65% of the readers polled enjoyed daydreams involving capture-bondage.  It's a way for we independant new millenium women to relinquish responsibilty in our heads.  Not in real life.  The problem is that the book lists under the BDSM spectrum and  there are people who actually live that lifestyle who upon reviewing my book for content are all yuck, yuck.

Not everyone, thank god.  It was a book that took two years to write - from one scene in a dream to 140,000 words of epic novel.  Epic in the sense that I'm not a writer.  Not even an English major.  First generation American from an old country foreign family who has an art degree and paints for a living, thank you very much.

I'm living a dream, quite frankly, and self publishing is a big part of that.  These reluctance stories have always circled my head.  Shamefully, I was only thirteen when I wrote short stories in my room about girls who got kidnapped and boys who rescued them.  There was no sex, mind you, but the content was always there.  Is that weird?  I always knew I would be a writer one day, even though I never pursued it until now and I had never been encouraged so that obviously made it harder.

My book is doing well.  And so I've caught the bug.  I have three other novels finished, two will be published  later this year, one of which I have one chapter to go on.  I should get back to it now so that I can make the deadline.  Since Excessica is currently closed for submissions, the other one, Cinderella Thyme, Cinderella Club's sequel waits in limbo.

I'm not worried.  I believe that everything happens when the timing is right and it will all work out.  If you are the type of person who gets into ruts and doesn't think things will work out, I want you to think of me.  Because this dream of mine shouldn't have happened.  I wasn't even thinking about writing until I had that daydream of a woman (who looks like me, natch) sitting in a limousine.  It came out of nowhere like a magical summons to get back onto the right path.

Now writing is here in addition to everything else I do, not instead of.  Knowing that people all over the world are reading my book is such an unbelievable high, it really makes it all worth it.  Getting a check every three months for a dream come true is not bad either.  It certainly gets me motivated to write more.  That and I have a sick work ethic.

Pleased to meet you.  I plan to make this a regular gig so I'll pop off my glass slipper now and come back for it later - because that's what independant multitaskers do.

Here is the link to my blog -

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Selp Publishing For A Cause

I'm going to blatantly blow my horn (heh) for this lovely book put out by a fabulous and talented self-pubber, Alessia Brio.

I didn't self-publish this one, but it was released through her kick-ass Coming Together series.

So, this would be one of those self publishers working together for the greater good dealios. Working together is rarely a bad thing and in this case it was a great thing. An I wash her back, she washes mine kind of thing. Or vice versa. Either way, close the door on your way out while we finish washing um...each other...or see the below shameless self promotion.

Coming Together: With Sommer

Went live today :) Book benefits LLS. The foreword was written by the amazing William Patrick Tandy, editor extraordinaire (of Smile, Hon fame) and the whole book was made possible by the unstoppable Alessia Brio.

If you go to the book's ARe page, you can read the author's note and see just what this book means to me. Now that's steamy sexy paranormal for a good cause! :)