Mary's DIY Publishing Blog
Passive Guy is riling me up again: Consumers are upset and "confused" about e-book pricing! For some strange reason, those silly consumers think that buying tons of paper, running a massive printing press, and shipping enormous quantities of books all over the country costs money!
The mendacity of claiming that e-books and paper books cost about the same to make is what gets to me. These cost claims are bald-faced lies--no one with any background in the industry believes them, and the people making them think the general public is a bunch of drooling idiots who will believe anything they are told.
Just so you know: Before it became strategically important to pretend that e-books cost no less to make than paper books, the rule-of-thumb estimate was that the editorial part of making a book (writing, editing, copy editing) accounted for a whopping 10% of costs. In fact, it was such a small piece of the costs that oftentimes a company would allow all that to happen before deciding whether or not to publish the book. That was really annoying if you were in editorial, because you'd do all this work on a book, and once it was finished, they'd scrap it, but that was how the finances worked.
Now, according to a lying piece of Penguin shit, editorial accounts for 90% of costs! Amazing!
I have linked to this before (warning: if you don't like the language in this post, you won't like the imagery in that one), but now I am going to quote extensively from Dean Wesley Smith's post comparing the costs of Pulphouse Publishing, his old traditional publishing company, to those of WMG Publishing today:
Not only is this new world faster by factors of a hundred or more, but the production costs don’t even come close to what was needed in 1990 to put out a book.
For example, from 1989 to 1992 we did a series of books at Pulphouse called “Author’s Choice Monthly.” The series let each author pick five or six stories, around 30,000 words, for a collection. We did one per month, sold them both in limited hardback form and unlimited trade paper form. We used the old warehouse method, meaning we had to guess ahead how many to have printed and bound. We did our own printing, then we had to haul the printed books an hour north to either a perfect bindery or the hardback bindery. Then we had to pick them up when done and bring them back to the office to be unloaded, packed, and shipped to stores and customers.
Let me put it this way as to costs. The price of the gas (for the 60 mile one way drive north to the binderies and back in 1990) for the van we used IS MORE than what WMG Publishing pays right now to put a collection of mine or Kris’s into electronic and trade paper edition.
That’s right, just the gas (in 1990 money) for 240 miles is more than I spend now for everything needed to get a collection into print.
(So, yeah, Smith's wife knows what she's talking about when she calls this cost claim "bullshit.")
Let's put it this way: I make more money selling a $3 e-book of Trang on Amazon than I do selling a $12 paper book there.
And if you think it's oh-so-different for a large corporation, remember that they are reporting higher profits as well.
I finished Proust's In Search of Lost Time! Whoo! I liked it--it gets more and more engaging as it goes on, which is actually kind of a problem because it's so damned long....
Also, looking at my plan for when Trust comes out (assuming it ever does--God, it's tiresome to have to wait on someone else; it makes me all the happier that I don't have to deal with an entire publishing house), there's another thing I want to look into: science-fiction conventions. There's a bunch around here, and you know, part of the challenge with science fiction is that not a hell of a lot of people read it. When a large group of people who do read it gather near me, it seems like the sort of marketing opportunity it would be stupid to miss.
Clearly, advertising in the program doesn't work. I think a potentially more-fruitful approach would be to do a flyer saying, Hey, wow, the Trang series, it's just the thing for you 60s-throwback-loving sci-fi enthusiasts! and then include a Smashwords coupon for a free copy of the first book. I could even give away the copies of the paper book I was going to give away on Goodreads. Of course, the book needs to be on Smashwords for that to work, so the three months of being exclusive on Amazon need to be scheduled in around the cons....
I was talking to another writer last night, and I was trying to explain what it is editors actually do, and how they don't edit to the standard of "good" (which doesn't really exist anyway) and instead edit to the standard of "appropriate for our audience."
I wasn't explaining myself very well, and of course it wasn't until I was far, far away when the perfect example of what editors actually do came to me: Stephanie Plum.
Or actually, Janet Evanovich. Many moons ago, Evanovich was a reasonably successful romance author. She had written twelve romance books, and she was getting good and sick of the genre. So one day, she wrote a book that had lots of action and adventure...and basically no romance.
She turned this book into her editors.
Did they say, "This is fantastic! Janet, this is your breakout book--you'll be winning awards and topping bestseller lists in no time!"
Did they say, "What the hell is this? This isn't a romance! What's wrong with you--get out of here!"
Dingdingdingding! Yes! Despite the fact that she'd been writing for her first publisher for years and years, Evanovich had to take her new work to a completely different publishing house for it to see the light of day.
Why? Why? you wonder. Why didn't her original editors recognize that this was going to be a really good book?
Because that is not their job. If you are a romance editor at a romance publisher, your job is to make sure you are producing romances. That is your job. If your writer comes in with the most wonderful book you have ever read, and it's not a romance, it is not acceptable. Period.
If you self-publish, it's important that you position your book correctly as to genre, right? You need to get an appropriate cover and an appropriate book description so that people know what they're getting.
The editor has a similar mind-set, but the approach is different. Their imprint only produces certain types of books. Those are the books that are appropriate for that imprint. If a book isn't appropriate, it's no good to that editor, no matter how good it is. The editor's job isn't to make the book better; it is to make the book more appropriate.
Which is why I suggest that, whoever you tap as an editor, that person should be someone who understands and likes your genre. You do want someone who will edit to a standard appropriate for your book--you don't want someone yanking the cowboys out of your Western or anything like that. But nowadays you don't have to toe the line or your book won't come out--that bit of nonsense is of the past.
This is a post from my old blog, written in 2008. I'm posting it again because I recently saw a play in which somebody had clearly gone to great efforts to rationalize a very unsatisfying story ending in a highly intellectual way, and it didn't make the story ending any less unsatisfying, nor any less essentially lazy. Also, some months after I posted this, I read an interview with one of the Lost writers, in which he parroted the New York Times article almost word-for-word--you could practically see the thought process: "Thank God! Someone's come up with a plausible-sounding excuse!"
Here's the post:
And there's all this philosophical rigmarole about how the show rejects the very notion of resolution. So the incoherence isn't really incoherence: the show is sooo deep it goes beyond coherence; it's coherent on a level that you and I and everyone else who has ever watched it cannot possibly grasp, just like real life! Oh, please. Sometimes you'll hear this kind of thing trotted out when something has a really unsatisfying ending--real life doesn't tie up neatly, so why should fiction?
Let me let you in on a little secret: It's hard to write something coherent. It's also hard to create a really satisfying ending. Whenever anyone starts telling you that real life BLAH BLAH BLAH, what they are really saying is, This is hard, and I am lazy. The writers of Lost cash equally large paychecks whether the show makes any sense or not--why should they do it the hard way?