Friday, April 29, 2011

Baratunde Thurston on Trump and the Birth Certificate Fiasco

Yes, this.

With President Obama's Birth Certificate, Klansman Trump Reminds Blacks They Will Never Be American

[Edited with a link instead of an embed, because sometimes Blogger's layout is really annoying. [sigh]]


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Realistic Look at Indie Publishing

Discussions of indie publishing tend to be pretty polarized. On the one hand you have the folks who insist that New York publishing is dead and that everyone should immediately go indie, which will lead to all of us making the kind of money Joe Konrath and Amanda Hocking make. On the other hand you have folks who insist that indie publishing is an over-hyped scam for losers who can't make it in New York, and that anyone who goes indie is an idiot who's going to go broke and end up living in a cardboard box.

Slightly more thoughtful writers who've been successful through New York for a while tend to give indie publishing what they think is a fair shot. They'll put one e-book up on Amazon, watch sales for a month or three, then report that they're only making $12.82 per month and that clearly indie publishing is no way to make a living.

Well, no, not with only one book. The trick is to keep going.

Dean Wesley Smith (who in addition to being a successful writer who lives on his writing income, also owned and ran Pulphouse Publishing and knows that end of the business as well) has been posting chapters of Think Like a Publisher where he discusses the publishing end of the business, and how to make it work on a practical, steps-and-details level. His latest chapter is The Secret of Indie Publishing, subtitled "Why Having More Product Is Better Than Having Less Product."

This sounds like a "no kidding" kind of thing, but it's something a lot of folks don't seem to get.

Dean says: An indie publisher needs a lot of products across a lot of sales locations all selling small amounts.

It's not about having one huge blockbuster that makes the new NYT electronic bestseller list. It's not about duplicating sales numbers that'd make a New York publisher happy, because New York publishers want your book to sell out in six months. Indie publishers are in it for the long haul, where even modest sales per book accumulate as you get more and more books up, and add up to a very nice income without your having to assume any luck or miracles or bestselling hits.

Dean talks a lot about the "produce model" of publishing on his blog.

Publishing for the last sixty-plus years has worked on the produce model, meaning that traditional publishers treat every book as if it is a piece of fruit that will spoil if not sold quickly. They made every book into an “event” to help sell the books quickly. And if the books didn’t sell quickly, they were pulled from the shelves like bad fruit and trashed.

The reason for this is actually fairly simple. Physical shelf space is limited and the number of books being produced far, far exceeded the shelf space available. So if a book didn’t sell quickly, it was replaced with one that might.

Now, with electronic publishing and POD publishing, the shelf space is unlimited. And there is no hurry. A book can just sell along at a pace and as readers hear about it and find it, the sales can grow slowly.

Putting up one book and watching sales for a month or three months or six months before declaring success or failure (and usually failure) is missing the point. Indie publishing is not like New York publishing, and if you try to treat it the same or evaluate it with the same measuring stick -- calibrated on the produce model -- it will look like it's not working. (Unless you're wildly lucky, but we're not going to assume you need wild luck to succeed here so ignore that possibility.)

Dean is very fond of running numbers, which he does here in this chapter. He shows how small numbers add up, even when you use tiny, conservative sales estimates. Anyone who's even vaguely interested in indie publishing, whether for now, the near future, or maybe some time later on, should be reading Dean's blog, and not just this one series.

Definitely read this one chapter before deciding that indie publishing only pays peanut shells.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Sorting Through Submission Calls

I've been spending a lot of time looking at submission calls, particularly for my anthology listing posts but also in general. I've noticed a few things that turn me off, that make me less eager to send a story to a given market, and thought it'd be fun (interesting, informative -- at least entertaining) to make a list. Stealing a gimmick from one of my favorite review sites...

Dear Editors:

== If there's nothing in your submission call about what you plan to pay your writers, I'll assume you're not planning to pay us, and respond accordingly. Note that I shouldn't have to click through to some other page to find the pay rate; if you're paying then that info should be in the main call wherever it shows up, and if you're not then that should be in the main call wherever it shows up. If you're doing a for-the-love antho, step up and say so.

== When your list of things you won't accept includes "anything racial" or similar, I have to wonder exactly what you mean by that. If it means you won't take any racist work, why not say "anything racist?" Refusing to take any "racial" stories could easily be interpreted to mean you only want stories about white people -- is that really what you intended?

== Glitches and errors in your submission call make me wonder about your editing skills.

== If your web site is hard to read because of choices you've made (medium to light text on a lighter but not white background, eye-searing colors, text of any color over a full color photo such that random words and letters fade into the background, that sort of thing) I'm going to wonder about what kind of cover you'll choose, and whether I'd want my name on it.

== If your call is buried in your forum (and nowhere else clearly obvious) where topics churn often and there's no permanent link to the vital submission info, I'll wonder whether your records (scheduling, editing, sales, cash flow, etc.) are as chaotically organized as your communication with potential contributors. And about your professionalism in general -- is it really not worth it to you to put up a simple web site with basic info in a stable format?

== Everyone's entitled to their preferences, but if your guidelines page is dominated by an abusive, multi-paragraph rant about (for example [cough]) the stupidity and incompetence of any writer idiotic enough to ever use a semicolon, be aware that I'll back away slowly and never submit anything to you, ever. And I'd probably do the same even if I didn't generally use semicolons, 'cause dude, chill!

Anyone else have any to add...?


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Anthology Markets

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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

March Stuff Plus

A little late, but just as well because it saves me from having to post an update.

Writing: 12,068 words = 5 pts
Submissions: 4 = 4 pts
TOTAL = 9 pts

Originally it was 5 submissions for 5 points, for a total of 10, but then I got that SASE back. [sigh] I'm assuming the rest of the package didn't make it, so I re-sent the submission, but that'll count for April. I have one fewer points for March, but I have an April point already, yay.

I'm not terribly happy with the writing total, either. I've certainly had months with fewer words written, but I did all of that by about halfway through March, and fully expected to hit at least 20K by the end of the month. I had some medical issues come up at that point, though, and they were pretty distracting. Still are, actually, although I think I'm over the hump now. Briefly, I have a pretty severe edema (that's Doctorese for "swelling") that started in my feet last summer and has progressed up my legs to just below the knee. In mid-February, I got this huge blister in one shin that I thought was caused by an overly enthusiastic space heater, but even after we got rid of the heater, I kept getting more blisters. After about three weeks of diuretics and four weeks of steroid cream, plus random foot-elevating and tight wrapping, the edema's gone down a tiny bit (not nearly enough, though, and I need to get back with my doctor about turbo-charging the diuretic) and I haven't gotten any new blisters in a few days. I still have open sores all over my legs at this point, but if the blisters stay away, the sores will eventually heal and I'll have only the edema itself to deal with.

The dermatologist I was referred to was incredibly busy, so on my first visit I saw his PA. Which is fine; I've seen plenty of PAs before and never had a complaint. This guy, though, wasn't a great communicator. He forgot to mention a couple of key facts on that first visit -- one, that the edema itself can cause blisters, there doesn't have to be some underlying condition or disease to do it, and two, that the steroid cream was just for the itching and wasn't meant to speed the actual healing of anything -- which left me thinking the situation was a lot worse than it actually was. If anyone feels like looking up "bullous pemphigoid," that's what I thought I had for a while. It's not as bad as cancer or something, but it's pretty distracting. :/

I talked to the dermatologist himself for a few minutes on the second visit, and my third visit (yesterday) was solely with him, and he's a much better communicator. He's actually able to be thorough in his explanations -- and he draws diagrams even, with labels and arrows -- without coming across as condescending. Great skill, much appreciated. The fact that things are starting to clear up, at least on the blister-and-sore level, is also helpful; it's easy to appreciate your doctor when you're improving, whether it's actually due to anything he did or not.

The edema has to go down further, though. I can't wear any of my regular shoes, and can only get into my velcro-strap sandals if my feet are bare. Socks (basic crew socks, nothing thick) add just enough bulk that the straps won't stay stuck. I missed an evening concert already because of a lack of available footwear, and Jim and I are going on a cruise in early May, and to a convention in late May, and I need to be able to wear shoes at least part of the time at (and on the way to and from) both events. A friend of mine who's a pharmacist has told me that my current dosage of the diuretic is very tiny, so ramping that up to something effective shouldn't be a problem.

Meanwhile, I need to keep my feet elevated as much as possible. That's logistically difficult, given my habit of spending 90% of my waking time on the computer, but I think I have it worked out, mostly. We'll see.


Friday, April 1, 2011

A New Writer Story

I know I still need to post March Stuff, but this is too good to wait on. [facepalm] Anyone else ever have this happen...?

I sent a story via Post Office to an SF magazine yesterday, 31 March (yes, there are still SF markets that haven't dragged their butts into the 21st century), and today I got my empty, unsealed SASE back in the mail. o_O I can only assume that my envelope came open (unstuck or torn or whatever) and scattered its contents all over the sorting room. Just as well they sent me my SASE back, or I'd never have known and would've been waiting to hear back from the editor for quite a while; even assuming they get the whole story, which is kind of unlikely, they wouldn't respond without a SASE. So thanks to the PO for delivering an empty, open envelope and clueing me in.

I'll admit this is a new one on me. I remember back when paper mail was the only way to send stories in. Heck, I remember when your SASE was the 9x12 and the larger envelope was a 10x13, because you were hand-typing your manuscripts and if it was rejected, you wanted that sucker back, rather than just the slip. I never had the whole thing fall apart, or be torn apart, or whatever happened yesterday.

The Post Office is closed for today, but I have a new package done up and will try again tomorrow. Hopefully it'll get through unscathed.

Angie, crossing a set of virtual fingers