RARA-AVIS: Well . . . ok-ay . . .

From: Debbi Mack (demack5@comcast.net)
Date: 08 Nov 2009

  • Next message: davezeltserman: "RARA-AVIS: Pariah reviewed in tomorrow's Washington Post"

    Okay, if you're going to diss Quiet Storm (rightly), its authors (aka, innocent victims) and self-publishing in general, you should check your facts and understand that not all self-published authors think the way you say they do.

    Kevin Burton Smith wrote:

    > Quiet Storm Press was basically a short-lived, inadvertent POD
    > pyramid scheme that crashed and burned years ago and left a small
    > circle of would-be writers pissed off.

    Pyramid scheme? QSP was not Amway, okay? Just a badly run business. And "would-be" writers? All I can say is, thanks for those few kind words, Kevin. Now I have two strikes against me. Not only the stigma attached to being self-published, but the one that came with the terrible choice of submitting my work to QSP and the bad fortune of having it accepted.

    > Quiet Storm didn't pay advances (and apparently, very few royalties),

    No, they didn't pay advances, but you're wrong about the royalties. I had my contract reviewed by a lawyer who specializes in publishing (and who's also an agent, as it happens), who told me QSP's royalties were particularly good compared to other publishers.

    > their vetting process seemed like the epitome of cronyism,

    I never knew anyone at QSP when I submitted my ms., unless you count the one time I met the publisher at a conference and the fact that my short story had been published by him in an anthology--an anthology that, I might add, included such authors as Marcia Talley and Donna Andrews. Not exactly talentless bums or newcomers.

    > promotional strategy seemed to be based on having their writers talk
    > incessantly on a handful of small discussion groups about how great
    > each other was.

    Well, I can't speak for any other QSP author, but that's not what I did.

    > I don't think the publisher was corrupt; He may in fact have had
    > really good intentions. He was just out of his league as both an
    > editor and a businessman. And it didn't help that he was one of his
    > own authors.

    Now, I think this comes much closer to the mark. I agree with all of this.

    > The readers have already made the call. It's "No."


    > Self-published novelists have been out there, doing their own
    > marketing for the last ten-fifteen years, and their resounding lack of
    > success might -- just maybe -- just have a tiny bit -- it's maybe
    > possible -- to do with the quality of their books.

    My point exactly. I already said there are many more dreadful self-published authors than good ones. My only point was that readers should be allowed to make that call. Did you miss that part?

    > Ebooks will do the same for those who self-publish. All they are is
    > another way for writers to be published without going through any sort
    > of vetting process. Publish your own ebook places like Lulu do not
    > edit, and they're not exactly discerning when it comes to acquisitions.

    Well, duh! And see my comment above about self-publishing, in general.

    > There are exceptions (previously established and celebrity authors,
    > niche and cult markets) but most of the novels that still succeed in
    > today's market are still those that are traditionally published,
    > edited, vetted and distributed.

    I know they're exceptions. I never suggested otherwise. And, of course, we all hope to be traditionally published, for reasons that are painfully obvious to anyone reading your comments.

    > Those zillions of self-published
    > fiction titles mostly sell squat -- in most cases, less than a couple
    > of hundred copies and many titles less than 50 copies. Viewing your
    > core audience as your mother, a few friends at work and fellow deluded
    > self-published authors is not a winning sales strategy.

    Again, no sh*t. And you're assuming a lack of awareness of good marketing strategy on the part of ALL self-published authors. None of what you said applies to my marketing strategy. And I've sold well over 50 copies, if you count in e-book sales.

    > The most
    > widely touted self-published crime novel success story (M.J. Rose) was
    > ten or fifteen years ago, and even she has now denounced most of her
    > once-winning sales tactics. They simply don't work anymore in an over-
    > crowded book world where anyone can be "published."

    Uh, wake up Kevin. Can anyone say Brunonia Barry?

    > Ebooks won't change that.

    Ahem--beg to differ. If you write a good story and market it shrewdly, it is possible to sell more copies as e-books than you might imagine. I'm an unknown and I've sold more than 355 downloads since June 2--almost three times as many downloads of my book as the total (known) number of print copies I sold when the book first came out (and it was out for nine months).

    Just so I'm clear, I'm not saying this amounts to resounding success or bestseller status. It's simply what it is--a way to get my book out to the reading public. And a pretty cheap and effective one. Plus I'm making more money than I would be if the story were just sitting on my hard drive.

    > Genuine word of mouth, hand-selling, honest reviews, availability,
    > publicity and a good story -- those sell books.

    I couldn't agree more. It's much harder for a self-published author to get this--but not impossible. E-books do help generate that word of mouth, by making the book easily available. And readers post honest reviews on Amazon. The vast majority of mine have been highly flattering.

    > A writer's main concern should be the last.

    Again, I agree totally. However, even authors with traditional publishers have to do their own marketing. So, the word of mouth, reviews, hand-selling, etc., are on every author's mind.

    > Most authors don't have the brains, resources, time, discipline or
    > inclination to promote themselves effectively, and all the promotion,
    > circle jerk cronyism and BSP in the world doesn't matter if the crime
    > novel in question is poorly edited, poorly written and only available
    > online. Saying that "many" self-published books are simply dreadful is
    > life saying many people have two eyes and a nose.

    You should really consider a career as a motivational speaker, Kevin.

    > Once upon a time I really really tried to review self-published books,
    > mostly because initially, at least, it was humbled but serious writers
    >out there seriously trying to break into a tough marketplace. But as
    > the floodgates opened to daytripper dilettantes and egotistical
    > hobbyists, it became such a struggle to get through most of them that
    > I more or less gave up. A man can only throw so many ineptly written,
    > poorly edited, shoddily printed over-priced trade paperbacks against
    > the wall before the neighbours start to complain.

    FWIW, I'm neither a "daytripper dilettante" or an "egotistical hobbyist." I am not only humble and serious (as a f*cking heart attack), but I'm well aware of all the roadblocks I face. Including the risk of being dismissed as a dilettante or hobbyist.

    > And the handful of authors who have successfully moved on from self-
    > publishing to more traditional means of publication tend to not look
    > back. They now view their self-publishing past as a slightly
    > embarrassing but possibly necessary first step. Some of them don't
    > like it known their first efforts were self-published. It's like if
    > your first girlfriend had a rep as the high school tramp.

    Never mind motivational speaking. Have you considered becoming a diplomat?

    > Sure, ebooks will allow even more authors to be "published," but most
    > readers won't care. The lack of good books to read has never been a
    > problem for most readers.

    I know there's no lack of good books. That isn't even close to the point I was making.

    > I don't see nook or Kindle or whatever seriously changing my reading
    > habits, but it would be nice if a few hard to find books and stories
    > that might not be feasibly printed on paper found their way to
    > electronic publication. Some of those long lost pulp stories by people
    > like Norbert Davis or Fred Nebel would be ideal.

    Yes!!! So we can agree on that, too? (Ooh, silver lining! Golly.)

    > But there is one real advantage of real books over ebooks. Pressing
    > "DELETE" is not as satisfying as hurling some pompous piece of crap
    > against the wall.

    Actually, e-books can be returned for a refund. I know because my Amazon sales statements say so. FWIW, none of books have ever been returned.

    Okay. I'm done.

    And thanks again, Kevin. I really needed that.


    Debbi Mack IDENTITY CRISIS Published by Lulu http://www.lulu.com/content/3923913 Available as an e-book on Amazon, Scribd and Smashwords http://www.debbimack.com http://midlistlife.wordpress.com/

    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 08 Nov 2009 EST