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February 8th, 2007

2:52 PM

Ebooks and Online Publicity


Disk

I find this interesting thread discussing the effectiveness of various methods of online promotion (linked fixed now - sorry about that!) at Absolutewrite and I find myself wondering how I look for what ebooks to read. Okay, some authors send me their ebooks, but as other authors who don't send me their ebooks can testify, I buy them myself as well. But with so many epublishers out there and more opening their doors every now and then, and so many titles out there nowadays, how do I figure out which ebook to choose?

I don't know and can't say if I'm a typical ordinary ebook reader but here's how I choose 'em anyway.

This may be me casting stones in the glasshouse since I review ebooks on my website, but I don't read ebook reviews on other websites, with the exception of Karen Scott and Dionne Galace who I frequent regularly since they review ebooks, because the reviews on those websites are pretty much fluff. Can I say that they are fluff, because honestly now, they are. All those reviews with "five stars", "five roses", "five moist thongs", or whatever they use on those websites as grading objects are meaningless to me because most of these reviews are nothing more than a paragraph or two of plot summary and a closing paragraph urging me to buy those books. Such PR fluff didn't work on me five years ago when such websites were reviewing print books and it's not going to work on me now. Maybe other ebook readers out there flock to those websites, I don't know, but if these readers are like me, buying banner spaces on those websites is a waste of money since I only go there on rare occasions to look for a synopsis of an ebook when the description on the publisher's website doesn't tell me anything about it (something Loose Id is pretty annoying for, I find). And even then, I don't go to those websites directly, I locate them using Google in the usual  "book title+author's name+review" search key words manner.

I notice that I do have some loyalty to an epublisher after I've found a few of their ebooks pretty good. In this case, I check the websites of Samhain Publishing and Liquid Silver Books at least once a week to see whether there's anything new worth taking a look at. I don't care much for Ellora's Cave books anymore due to the overkill of the whole "BDSM alien/furries/vamps" formula by their authors, should anyone care to ask, but that particular epublisher should never be overlooked by any author who wants to sell something because everything they put out sells pretty well, or so I hear, even those expensive trade paperbacks. They are even translating the books into Spanish, so they mean business. But for me, it's those two publishers on my radar because currently they balance kink with stories fairly well and there are always some pretty original or interesting stories on sale, compared to Ellora's Cave where everything is pretty much "BDSM alien/furries/vamps" overkill. They are, to me, the online version of Dorchester - not every book is gold and some are complete duds, but chances are, there is always an interesting idea or raw potential even in those duds that make them worth a look. So for me, there is a thing such as epublisher loyalty - I check some epublishers which I believe are in the business of putting out stories that I will enjoy more often than I do with other epublishers. Compared to the abovementioned two epublishers, I check out New Concepts Publishing, Lady Aibell, and, starting just recently, Freya's Bower only at the end of the month or when the mood hits me, while I've given up on Loose Id. Other epublishers don't really register on my radar because I don't hear anything from them or their authors.

And by "hear", I don't mean these publishers must inundate me with free ebooks to review. Please, I'm cheap but not shameless. What I mean is that I don't encounter the presence of these publishers or their authors online. What do I mean by this? Let me explain. I enjoy visiting blogs such as Dear Author, Paperback Reader, Dionne Galace, and Karen Scott and when it comes to ebook matters and books not reviewed by conventional avenues like The Romance Reader and All About Romance, I have Dionne Galance and Karen Scott to be my guinea pigs when it comes to ebooks. I am not active in reading everything online, but once in a while I will come across a blog entry or a comment in response to a blog entry that I enjoy, maybe because it's funny or it is thoughtfully written. If that person responsible for such entry is an ebook author (which is why, ebook authors, always leave your website URL when you leave any comments anywhere), you bet I will visit her website and see what books she has that I can take a look at. It's not how the author promotes her books in a blog entry that I pay attention to, it's how she is being herself when she's responding to other people instead of trying to schmooze readers that I take note of. At the very worst, I'll look up the author, discover that her books are not what I'm interested in reading at the moment, and bookmark her website under my "Interesting Authors" bookmark folder while thinking, "Maybe another day."

So if an author occasionally shows up on the blogs I frequent and say something that make me laugh or go hmmm in thought, she's put herself on my radar. For me, an author doesn't have to lead a frenzied online life constantly self-promoting herself day and night - actually, it gets very obnoxious when the author does that, even if she's just being enthusiastic rather than deliberately spam-crazy - it's more of the author hanging out on the blogosphere and being an interesting personality without coming off as contrived, forced, too desperate/too eager to agree with everybody in order to make a sale, or too gimmicky.

Also, I like to buy anthologies from e-publishers. Any author that strikes me as good in those anthologies will get me to check their titles out. Unlike print books, chances are the e-books from this author will only be a little bit longer than her contribution in the anthology so I'll get a pretty accurate idea of how her single titles will be from her anthology contribution. So, yes, authors who want people to notice them - or me to notice them at least, which may or may not be a good idea depending on who you ask, heh - go get yourself in some interesting anthology. How else did I get the compulsion to purchase Amanda Brice's adorable She's Got Legs if not for her taking part in an anthology that I bought prior to that?

I don't do chats, unless it's held by a hot male celebrity who promises to do a nudie webcam show during the chat. However, I read chat transcripts because it's easier to follow, so for me at least, authors chatting with other authors isn't a completely useless endeavor since I can use the transcripts to catch up on what they have to say and maybe check out their books if I like what they have to say or how they say these things. So, yes, maybe authors and the people organizing these chats should consider storing the chat transcripts, even if they are in a simple txt file, on the publisher website if they don't already. That way, at least a chat session can still be a method of publicity, kinda like the publisher linking to it with a prominent header "Our hot bestselling authors recently got together and discussed intriguingly spicy things like how naughty you would like our books to be and how author Vivi Section came up with her latest story that combines cornucopia, pornucopia, lamina propria, and lots of labia. Check out the transcript if you've missed the exciting event! " or something so that the chat session won't exactly be a heat of the moment thing that will be completely forgotten once it's done. Naturally, I am assuming that those chat sessions will be worth taking a look at with something that is worth reading being brought up during the chat rather than the chat being just another fluffy, frilly love fest. These authors are writing about sex. If they can't find anything interesting to say during a chat session, they should be writing about something else. Like the history of the blackboard duster or something.

I don't notice banner ads. And let's face it, a banner with the image of two people in pre- or mid-shag plus some silly phrases like "This book is hotter than a blister on your behind!" isn't going to convince me to buy anything. I realize that I do notice Google ads though on a website, so maybe taking an ad on Google Adsense or similar text-ad services like Adbrite will help? I don't know, but I do know that I've developed an instinctive habit to overlook banners and other visual ads in my websurfing but I find myself taking notice of text ads however. However, since I don't go to the usual "ebook/author friendly" websites where so many epublishers and e-authors are buying banner ad spaces nowadays, the whole thing is pretty much moot anyway since I won't be seeing their ads in the first place. If I'm an e-author, I'd rather take an ad in a website where there are evidence of visitor participation - in this case, an active blog. I'll also make sure that the participants in those blogs will read or are open to reading ebooks, however, so in this case, I suspect placing an ad on, say, Dionne Galace or Dear Author will give me better returns than placing an ad on a highly-trafficked site like, say, All About Romance where the focus is on printed books instead of ebooks. But that's just me, of course.

As for bookmarks, pen, magnets, and all, they are nice, I suppose, but speaking for myself, I'd prefer the author hand me the money she paid for that bookmark and pen rather than giving me a bookmark and a pen because I can at least use the money to buy some sweets. Or her ebook. I don't need a bookmark and I don't want one unless it comes with a big bag filled with hundred dollar notes.

So, to sum things up, I try out new e-authors based on the following:
1. The (interesting, thoughtful, amusing, et cetera) things she has to say in her online presence.
2. The publisher she is with.***
3. Whim - cover, interesting synopsis, story with something I don't come across often, et cetera.

Banner ads, reviews in general, bookmarks and other cute but frivolous freebies, and chat sessions don't sell me anything. Also, I don't read publisher blogs (no interest in knowing how many cats an author has and definitely no interest in TMI moments from these authors) or epublisher forums. I don't really care for an author's blog as well unless the author really has something substantial to say, like insider industry news or opiniated op-eds and I always wonder why some authors open blogs when they have no intention or interest in updating them. Why not just get rid of the long-neglected blog if the author has no time or mood to update it? There's nothing like coming to an author's blog and realizing that the last entry dates back to July 2005, all the better for the reader to assume that the author has retired from writing and move on to another author.

*** And finally, regarding the publisher thingie, can I ask e-authors who happen to read this to stop hopping around e-publishers so often? I know, if Ellora's Cave rejects this work, you sell it to Liquid Silver and when Liquid Silver is still negotiating rights with you, you've finished another book that you have to sell and Changeling Press wants to buy it and lo, by the end of the month you have a hundred stories coming out simultaneously from seventy publishers. Or something. That's good for you. I understand that it's great that someone is finally publishing your works and you can finally  make some money from your passion. But who on earth has the time to keep track of where and when your next book is coming out? I don't specifically camp out at an author's website, for one, so if the author's previous book came out from Samhain and I don't see any future works listed on the epublisher's website, I'll most likely assume that she has nothing out.

I know it's nice to support new epublishers, especially if they are co-founded by you and a few other author friends who believe that you can all do a better job than that incompetent nincompoop who published your previous book. But that's not what I'm talking about here, I'm talking about all those e-authors who cheerfully has one book out with this epublisher this month, one more with another epublisher next month, and so forth until it seems like I'm playing some kind of game with the author to locate her books in the far reaches of cyberspace or something. Yes, if one publisher is terrible, grab those books back and move on to a better one. That's the right thing to do. But publisher-hopping just to sell, sell, sell? I don't know. (Oh, and I also believe that many - not all - of the ebooks published under the "short" categories are pointless wastes of time and money because they are not developed well, too short to have many erotic love scenes, and should have just been kept in the author's drawer but that's a different rant altogether. Although, seriously, there's no way I'm paying $3.00 for a 30-paged story, Phaze.)

It makes sense, economically, on the author's part but, fairly or unfairly, I don't think it's my responsibility to keep track of where an author is being published with the following month and the month after. It's different with print books from major publishers in New York - the author moves from Avon to Random House but her subsequent Random House books will still be in the bookstores, shelved with her Avon backlist, for her fans to see and buy. But when it comes to e-books, I have to personally track down every epublisher website and open a customer account with them, and that's only after I've figured out which publisher to get that author's e-book from. Factor in the fact that I am not comfortable with giving out credit card numbers to badly-designed epublishers with shopping carts of dubious security and the fact that many authors/epublishers don't like to list their titles on Fictionwise because they don't want Fictionwise grabbing a share of their income and I will end up thinking that it's way too much work to support that author. 

30 comment(s).

Posted by Leon:

Posted by Ann(ie):

Sometimes publishers don't want the same kind of story. They base it on sales or whether you have aliens or werewolves or what-not. I'll be offering one book to a different publisher because I was asked to maek a couple of revisions / additions that changed the story substantially.
February 11th, 2007 @ 1:46 AM

Posted by Tina:

I don't get to read you as much as I'd like so I hope I don't come off as a freeloader here.

I'm both an author and staff of a publisher. I've struggled with both in trying to find the right amount of promotion, getting my name and the publisher's name out there with out drowning people in "Look at me." promos. It's not an easy balance.

As a publisher, we encourage authors that the way to get their name out there and their sales up to write more books. Unfortunately, sometimes those books go to other publishers which can end up being more frustrating for authors when they find that their sales don't increase. More often than not, readers are epublisher specific, so it doesn't always work out that sales from one publisher will increase an authors sales at another publisher.

I chose to stay with one publisher.

I'd like to think that we (My publisher) facilitate an environment that encourages authors to keep submitting their books to us, but ultimately it's the author's choice.

Mrs G: Thanks! It'll be great to hear more from publishers re: publisher-hopping, actually.
February 10th, 2007 @ 6:18 AM

Posted by Ann Wesley Hardin:

Hey Mrs. G!

Thanks for this post. Any insight a reader can offer on how an author catches their attention is a good thing! And hey, I'm an EC author who doesn't do wolfies/vamps/BDSM, although my latest does feature aliens. Maybe someday you'll give my books a try! Give me a holler if you're interested. I love reading your reviews.
February 9th, 2007 @ 8:01 PM

Posted by Anonymous:

"I notice that I do have some loyalty to an epublisher after I've found a few of their ebooks pretty good. In this case, I check the websites of Samhain Publishing and Liquid Silver Books at least once a week to see whether there's anything new worth taking a look at... it's those two publishers on my radar because currently they balance kink with stories fairly well and there are always some pretty original or interesting stories on sale... They are, to me, the online version of Dorchester - not every book is gold and some are complete duds, but chances are, there is always an interesting idea or raw potential even in those duds that make them worth a look."

Bet Liquid Silver and Samhain are loving you right now. Of course I'm devistated...kinda... that you overlooked my stuff at Liquid Silver. But I'll live.

Still I agree with some of what you say. I hate banners, chats, and fluffy reviews.
February 9th, 2007 @ 8:39 AM

Posted by Cass Curtis:

Newbie ebook author chiming in. I like ebook quickies. And a free quickie is a great promotional tool, imho. Anyone can afford free, right? So I'd like to invite you to stop by the Midnight Moon Cafe at http://midnightmooncafe.blogspot.com on Valentine's Day and sample some of the tasty offerings. Even better, there will be a link above our freebies, that will take you to a wonderous place (Romance Divas) where you can download and read many more Valentine freebies. Better than chocolate (no calories), and unlike cut roses, these blooms won't fade. ;)
February 9th, 2007 @ 5:27 AM

Posted by Jules Jones:

I'm mostly published with a single company, and one of the reasons is to make it easier for a) new fans to find the rest of my books, b) old fans to find the next book. So I'm glad to see someone saying this from the reader perspective. But on the other hand, I can see why other authors spread books across publishers. For example -- you've given up on Loose Id. That means you're *never* going to see any of my books. (Okay, maybe you don't ever want to see any of my books; I know they're not to everyone's taste.:-) But if I have a few books somewhere else, somewhere you do check regularly, you might see them there, and maybe look for more if you like them.

Some of the other stuff in the post -- well, if that's the thread I think it is (the link's broken for me), you've already seen my opinion. I think the next time I see a question-to-authors along the lines of "top tip to new writers?", it will be -- "put on your reader hat, and look at it *as* *a* *reader*." Or agent, or editor, or whatever is appropriate to the situation. It's the most useful bit of advice *I* was ever given by more experienced writers.
February 9th, 2007 @ 5:10 AM

Posted by Amelia June:

THANK YOU for the little bit about music on the front page. I hate that with the passion of 1000 suns.

I will say I absolutely love the erotic short--just long enough to get the job done, so to speak. Perhaps I'm ADD...

What do you think of author newsletters, for keeping track? I personally hate the author chat loops, but I do appreciate a monthly newsletter from my favorite author keeping me updated on their contests, releases and excerpts.

Anyway, thanks for the input, from a newbie.
February 9th, 2007 @ 5:09 AM

Posted by Will Belegon:

I find the comment about pricing interesting. I think that there are two different dynamics working on shorter stories and that they can be somewhat contradictory. The chance to engage a new reader with an offering at a low pricepoint vs. the question of perceived value. The story that we just moved from Venus Press to Phaze actually went down in price by 25%. I'm curious to see how and if that affects sales, especially since my core "fans" already own the work. I'm not entirely certain we will sell more units at the lower price.

Mrs G: Well, for me, price is an issue since I live in Malaysia and there's always that pesky currency exchange thing I have to be concerned about. Therefore, if I pay $3 to $4 for a, say, 25-paged story, that story has better blow me away because I could have paid a buck of two more for a story that is more than double the length. And since most short stories feel perfunctory and incomplete, they rarely make me feel like I've gotten my money's worth. Not yours, by the way. There's more than enough kink in 'em to make me the stories, no matter how short, to give them a decent reason to take a look at. But how about a longer story? Artistically Inclined is begging to end in a big happy bisexual orgy, for example, but you guys stop short from delivering the big kaboom!
February 9th, 2007 @ 5:07 AM

Posted by Tawny:

Fascinating discussion!

First, your opinion only reinforces my theory regarding ebook readers. It’s my experience that most ebook readers make their weekly/monthly/daily/whatever visits to their fave ebook publishers and make their purchases while rarely seeking out new sources/publishers. Yes, as an ebook author, I think a one-stop-shopping venue for ebooks, like Amazon, would be a wonderful thing. (Hmmm…an opportunity here for an entrepreneur? If only I had the means…)

For this reason, I chose to submit the vast majority of my books over the last several years to one epublisher.

However, recently I have decided I needed to submit books to other publishers. A number of factors went into my decision, including personal issues I don’t care to get into here. Obviously, I’m only one author, and my reasons for doing anything can’t be applied to every single author in cyberland writing for multiple publishers, but maybe you’ll gain a little insight from my thoughts. If not, no biggie.

1. As a business person, I view alternate epublishers as untapped markets, since the crossover is so limited.
2. While I love my current publisher (Publisher A), it’s simply not feasible (or practical) for them to publish everything I write within the timeframe I require. IMO, it’s not fair to other authors for me (or any one author) to book up too many slots in my publisher’s schedule. And it’s not good business for my publisher to allow one (or a few) authors to monopolize their schedule.
3. At a glance, the material I submitted to the other publishers may seem identical to the work published by Publisher A (BDSM alien/furries/vamps) but there are differences that make them more fitting for the other houses.
February 9th, 2007 @ 4:10 AM

Posted by Brenna Lyons:

If you think that's guns a blazing, you obviously don't know me. Yes, I'm grinning at the moment. I'm not being rude. I'm not being snippy. I am pointing out that, though you may not understand it, there are very good reasons why these things happen. BTW, since my post was curtailed, I don't know if you SAW the part about checking the EPPIE and Dream Realm winners for the last few years. It might introduce you...or any other readers out there...to some new authors to them.

Would the publisher be stretched? YES. In my case, the publisher would. Now, I am in a great position with one of my publishers, at the moment, because the two halves of the publisher (Mundania and Phaze) cover a good many of my genres, but you do have to keep genre in mind here. Would I WANT the publisher who focuses on fantasy erotic romance taking on, say...my straight genre horror work? Probably not. It's not their thing. I have had publishers start new lines for me to keep my books in house, but that would be akin to the fantasy erotic romance publisher taking on my horror erotic romance books. Not such a jump there.

Mrs G: Brenna, first off, I'm so sorry that your post gets cut off again. This is something Bravenet, the people hosting this journal, has to look into. I've written to them on this matter several times but so far no luck, sigh. My initial response has my tongue firmly against my cheek - sorry if I come off as attacking you or anything. I do understand, as I've mentioned earlier, the act of publishing various genres with various publishers. And I'll check out the Eppie stuff you recommended, thanks.
February 9th, 2007 @ 4:07 AM

Posted by Anonymous:

Technical point. The link at the top of the blog entry doesn't link to any discussion thread.

Mrs G: Aaah, I'm so sorry. I've fixed it now!
February 9th, 2007 @ 3:32 AM

Posted by Jennifer McKenzie:

As one who is always looking for better, smarter ways to draw readers to my books, this is great.
I, personally, find ebooks through other people's recommendations. I didn't even know this format existed and I think other readers may not either. I got on Romance Divas and discovered the joy of cheaper books with more kick.
Online presence has been the one thing I've been working on.
Believe it or not, I've enjoyed MySpace as a vehicle to get in contact with other authors and readers.
Thanks for the post. This is perfect.
February 9th, 2007 @ 3:25 AM

Posted by Jenna Burke:

I'm guilty of buying by publisher instead of author as well. But it's not just e-books. I'm pretty much that way across the board. If I enjoy an editorial direction, why change, unless something intrigues me from another house. Samhain & LSB do a great job with their editing, so things are a smoother read.

I like short stores. As long as you go into it expecting fun and fast, it's great. Sometimes short stories are marketed as novellas...and then I expect them to be longer and am disapointed. As long as they are sold as a short, I'm cool with it. :)
February 9th, 2007 @ 2:47 AM

Posted by Nonny:

There are a lot of publishers that don't make their books available through Fictionwise because of the hefty cut the site takes; 50% of the gross sales, if I'm understanding correctly.

What this means is that the author is going to make peanuts off any sales through Fictionwise. FW is usually cheaper than the publisher's website, so readers will often buy from there instead. (Also because it's more convenient than checking thirty billion websites for new releases.) So both the publisher and the author make much less off each individual sale.

I wouldn't say I agree with it, per se. Given how "big" Fictionwise is, I'd be surprised if sales through through them actually ended up a loss for the publisher and author... but being an author, I don't make those decisions.

It sucks, but that's the reasoning behind it.
February 9th, 2007 @ 2:44 AM

Posted by Jennah:

I'm in agreement when it comes to an author publishing in so many places. When I started out, I was encouraged to submit to several publishers to "get my name out there". Currently, I'm working with three publishers (Cobblestone Press, Samhain and WCPT). As an author, I'm finding it difficult to keep up with what's going on where and so I intend to be a bit more focused this year.

As for promotions, banner and ads don't do it for me either. It's usually a blurb that convinces me to buy a book and I find those usually quite by accident.
February 9th, 2007 @ 2:39 AM

Posted by Amanda Brice:

Thanks for the plug, Mrs. G! I'm so glad you liked "She's Got Legs." I had fun writing it, and I'm planning to continue Daria and Greg's story in another short later this year.

I only have one e-pub, and I'm fine with that. I don't write enough to do more than that, and I'm really concentrating my efforts on single titles to break into a major NY house, anyway. So for now, I'm very happy writing for FB, even if I'm not putting much out.
February 9th, 2007 @ 2:30 AM

Posted by Eden Bradley:

Awww-banning James from the Harry Potter play is just plain mean!
Okay-back to the topic at hand...
I have two e-pubs, but for good reason, I swear! The first was a great experience until they had an internal administrative meltdown. Not the publisher's fault, but I was under the impression at the time that the company was going to fold. So I went elsewhere. For various reasons, my experience with the second e-pub has not been so great. Meanwhile, e-pub #1 rallied, is back stronger than ever, and I am back with them after having put out two stories through e-pub #2. But I have to agree with you, Mrs. G-I'd rather have stuck with the one e-pub so my readers could more easily find my books, and I plan to stick with e-pub #1 should I have time to write more e-books.
I'm also with two NY publishers, but I was just on loan out to NY pub #2 for an anthology. In NY this is a good move because, as you said, the books can easily be found on the shelf at the bookstore, or at Amazon and B&N online, etc, simply by doing a search under my name (once the books are released this summer, that is).
I understand pub-hopping if you have to do so in order to write different genres. But I do know a lot of e-book authors who will shop a story around until it sells-wherever-if their #1 publisher doesn't want it, or who write tons of stuff just to have a new book out every month, and have to sell to different e-pubs because no one publisher will put out that many books from any one author in a given year. I just don't think it's a good idea. There is such a thing as over-exposure. So, one author chiming in to say I get your point and heartily agree with you. On this point, anyway.
February 9th, 2007 @ 2:27 AM

Posted by Emily Veinglory:

Bravo.
February 9th, 2007 @ 2:19 AM

Posted by Dayna Hart:

Mrs. Giggles, this post is above and beyond helpful. Thank you.
February 9th, 2007 @ 2:15 AM

Posted by Mrs G:

James, you naughty boy, you didn't pay attention to the fact that I mentioned Fictionwise and how many titles aren't available there (Loose Id's Fictionwise title dates back to 2004). You are henceforth banned from attending Harry Potter's upcoming debut as a legitimate serious actor in his role as a semi-controversial gimmicky stage prop.

Thanks for the other suggestions, by the way. I'm always looking for something new to read from someplace new.
February 9th, 2007 @ 12:39 AM

Posted by James Buchanan:

Ms. G wrote: {...} "because there are many, many epublishers out there and there are no "Amazon" at the moment for me to locate the new releases every month."

Oh, but there is... it's called Fictionwise (http://www.fictionwise.com/). Many e-publishers distribute through Fictionwise (there are others like DiselEBooks and such, but Fictionwise is the largest). So, no, you're not going to catch all of the new releases, but it has some decent features... like the "tell me when this author adds a new book" feature and "people who bought this book also bought" much like Amazon. They also have a rating feature (although it does not have a comment feature, just how many people voted on a 1-4 scale... still it does help some) You can search by author, genre, title, key words, book format, etc. Hope that at least helps you're monthly e-book habit. So you can see... this is my page http://www.fictionwise.com/eBooks/JBuchananeBooks.htm *cough*yeah, right, that's the reason *cough* One nice feature is it lists the number of Words as opposed to Page Count (My Brother, Coyote and Twice the Cowboy are similar in Word Count but are different page lenths b/c how publishers formatted them). The other is that on the book page, there'll be an except... you can get an idea of what the book's flavor is.

~James
February 9th, 2007 @ 12:07 AM

Posted by Mrs G:

And even so, is what this author doing wrong? I never said that and I don't believe that either. Good for these authors if they can sell a hundred short stories in one year to various epublishers. I'd say it's up to the epublisher to exercise some discretion, especially when it comes to so many half-baked "XXXXrotic HOTHOTHOT" waste-of-time/money short stories of 18-25 pages with sex scenes that are as long as a microscopic paramecium and as erotic as a mainstream romance novel.

Hmm, I'm going way off tangent into another rant altogether. Maybe I'll tackle that one some other day when I'm in the mood for some real down and dirty online mudslinging action!

Back to the topic (again), I'm speaking as a reader that I find it difficult to track down an e-author who plays musical chairs with her epublishers because there are many, many epublishers out there and there are no "Amazon" at the moment for me to locate the new releases every month. The sheer number of epublishers and ebook titles make it time-consuming to sit down and look at every epublisher. So yes, maybe this earns me a badge of disloyalty, but I really don't have the time - or inclination - to keep checking out an e-author's website month after month to track her progress. Of course, you can correctly say that I could always join the author's Yahoo! list to get her newsletter but when it comes to matters like getting readers to buy something, I feel the responsibility falls on the author to reach her readers. Speaking for myself - I can't stress this enough - I just don't see why an e-author can't stick to a house who appreciates her talent and has an audience big enough to buy her books and give her a tidy income once she's found the house.

So yes, some fans are loyal and will buy everything the author puts out no matter where she's published. That's great... for the author. I'm a reader. I find it troublesome to have to track down the author every time I want to find something new by her, especially when many of these e-authors don't update their websites regularly. That's what I'm trying to say. Nothing sinister, nothing confrontational, and no accusations of any sort towards the authors out there.
February 8th, 2007 @ 11:28 PM

Posted by Mrs G:

Maybe I better clarify some things before more authors show up to explain or argue with me about why they have several publishers.

I understand if you have to publish with several houses because of your publisher not wanting to publish stories of a certain theme. Or because your publisher folds. Or because of any other valid and sensible reasons to find another publisher. I really do, believe me.

My initial rant is directed to authors who... well, I don't want to name names since I'm not accusing them of doing anything wrong, so let's just say that I have come across many authors who are published with Publisher X for her debut, Publisher Y for her next book, Publisher X again for her subsequent book, Publisher Z for the book after, and so forth. I've once seen a booklist page by an e-author with a long list of books which indicates that she's publishing several simultaneous stories within the same genre with five different epublishers. (No, Brenna, I'm not talking about you, lol.) I am puzzled by why she feels the need to get published with so many publishers. That is the kind of author I am talking about.

One reason that I have from one such author is that it's all about the money. Short stories are easy to write - "Easy come, easy go!" are her actual words - and she'll sell anything and everything to anyone who will take it. And there are many e-publishers who do. Hence my point about sell, sell, sell. I understand that, in a way: a bestselling ebook author may not sell even close to what a debut author with a printed book would in the first year of the book's release so it makes sense to sell as many stories as you can write to pay the bills.
February 8th, 2007 @ 11:22 PM

Posted by Debbie Mumford:

Thanks for the post, Mrs. Giggles. You raise some interesting points.

As a new ebook author with a fairly new epublisher (Freya's Bower), I've wondered about whether or not I should be making a more concerted effort to break into another epublisher's lineup. Your comments are encouraging, because, frankly, Freya's Bower is keeping me too busy to stray, and I'm thrilled with their cover art and management practices.

Fascinating world, epubs ...
February 8th, 2007 @ 11:08 PM

Posted by James Buchanan:

In regards to the “stretching” issue: sometimes it’s a fact of life. I have two e-publishers, my mind couldn’t handle more than that. But the one I started with, does not, no way, no how, take anything other than Gay, Lesbian or the occasional Transsexual story. The B part of GLBT, they don’t want. So what do I do with this series of eight books with a main character who doesn’t really care about the plumbing?

So what’s a poor author of homoerotic romance to do… I go find another publisher.

And occasionally, for the reasons you mentioned, I’ll do an anthology that interests me. Those may be scattered around various publishers. I’d like to entice a few readers, who might not otherwise find one of my books, over to my main body of work.

~James
February 8th, 2007 @ 10:42 PM

Posted by Mrs G:

Tilly, I understand the reasoning behind publishing different genres with different publishers. The authors I have in mind when I wrote what I did, however, pretty much had the same kind of books across several houses. It can't be about the money from one publisher is better than the other since these authors are writing books for several houses at the same time. Oh well, who knows. Maybe there is some method being what they are doing. Testing to see which house sells the most books perhaps?

I took a look at loveyoudivine AND OH MY GOD. There's freaking music on the front page! I hope nobody is visiting that place at work. And is it too hard to list down the books by genre ("BDSM", "Paranormal", etc")? What is with all those names for book categories like "Off The Beaten Path" and "Erotic Power XChange"?

Brenna, glad that you have loyal fans. As I've said, I blogged about how I feel so I can't say that I am speaking for each and everybody out there. No need to come with guns blazing to defend anybody and anything because I'm not even assuming that I am speaking for everybody or I am laying down some "rules" that everybody must follow like you seem to believe. It's an opinion, get it? I'm not going to judge you or think any lowly of you if you don't agree with me so there's no need for that defensive and snippy second-guessing-what-I'll-say-and-say-it-first thing you have in your post. Relax, it's okay. We're on the same side, lady.

I mean, yes, I don't understand the rationale that an epub will be "stretched" if you publish, say, all 10 series with them. If you are good and you sell, won't your publisher be more than happy to accommodate you and publish all your books? You also mentioned leaving some houses because they aren't selling your books to your expectations, so it seems to me that it makes better sense to stay with a house than serves you well once you find it instead of finding more houses to publish more series with. But that's ME. You seem to have a plan when it comes to your career and it's working very well for you, so hey, good luck with everything.
February 8th, 2007 @ 9:18 PM

Posted by Brenna Lyons:

I'm with Tilly on why to use more than one publisher. Sorry, Ms. Giggles. I know you're a busy lady and no hard feelings, but I have TEN established worlds, and I write in no less than eight overlapping genres. So, there is no one publisher that is going to take on every book I write. I wouldn't want to stretch a publisher that far, because that's bad for business...in the extreme.

Add to that the idea of promotion, since that's what your post is about. Yes, we do the chats, the banner ads, etc. They may not work for you, but they work for others. The bottom line is...if it's not costing a lot of money (preferably little or none) and it's costing a minimum of time, go for it, because you need to get 10 notices before someone buys you...or so the story goes. Might as well get them in with a small monetary investment instead of a large one.

Back to promo and subject... There are times when an anthology or collection crops up at a publisher you have little or nothing else with. But, it will give you exposure with a new breed of reader. Not that I am for stretching yourself that far. I firmly believe you should give any publisher you hang your hat with at least 3 books/stories, IF the relationship is a good one.

And, that's another trick, isn't it? I signed on with one...good name, make decent money, but the bottom line is that their product is, IMO, substandard. I cannot stomach the idea of putting more books there, because I know I will cringe at the presentation I get for the book. And before you say it, no... I did not know that would be the case when I signed with them, but things change, and when they change for the worse, it's better to get out of Dodge.

There's always some overlap in readership between publishers, but the truth is, as you noted about yourself, a lot of readers stick with a publisher or two, unless they have reason to branch out. Unlike you, many readers WILL follow an author they like. If they weren't willing to, I wouldn't have
February 8th, 2007 @ 9:17 PM

Posted by Tilly Greene:

Okay, I'll put my ebook author hat on and tell you why I have books at different publishers. It wasn't intentional, nor was it to "sell" another story, simply put, I write specific genres for particular publishers.

Contemporaries [Whiskey Creek Press Torrid], Futuristics [Samhain], Fetish/BDSM [Phaze] and I have a “:o I’m blushing” piece coming out this Friday on loveyoudivine. As for my Shape-shifter/Paranormal [mind you there isn’t an alien or vamp around although there is a rather unique shifter - yes, it can be done] after I tweak things around they’ll be looking for a new home - uh-hum, one of the above that’s for sure :).

This is entirely the fault of another part of my brain, the dark side that has a fierce need to be tidy and compartmentalized.

Now putting my reader hat back on…like you discussed earlier, I’m all about the website. Is it easy to use? Can I find my way around and not get lost along the way? And, are your stories and covers interesting? Then there is the gift certificate…I love them! If you have them, I’m more apt to shop with you. I have a book budget [the serious reader should have one to remain on good terms with their cutie] and also don’t like to feed my credit card number to cyberspace on a daily basis.

As always Mrs Giggles, you’ve made the bran much more interesting, almost as much as the spoonfuls of sugar.
February 8th, 2007 @ 8:07 PM

Posted by Alessia Brio:

Thanks for this. Seriously. :)
February 8th, 2007 @ 6:46 PM