Tags: sfwa

e-Book Article

In honor of Presidents' Day (and the fact that I actually have it off), I'm posting one of my SFWA Bulletin articles, as I've promised to do once their exclusivity period is up.  Since it was done a year ago, it's a little dated.  (For instance, e-books now form more like 20% of total book sales.)  However, discussions of DRM and pricing are still relevant today.  I hope you find it informative.

What is the Deal with e-books? (from the December 09-January 2010 SFWA Bulletin)

I feel like I want to channel Jerry Seinfeld here: “What is the deal with e-books?”  Only I do terrible impressions and it’s hard to channel someone who’s still alive and kicking.  Well, the deal, my friends, is that there are so many things to think about that I struggled hugely with this article – where to start, what to say and how much before you hit information overload and run screaming into the night. 

I decided to take my cue from the marvelous Lewis Carroll, “Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”  Him I can channel.  So, let us begin.   Electronic books are self-explanatory – books available in electronic form.  This is not to be mistaken for electronic versions, which involve the inclusion of other media and which I’ll get to in a bit. 


Probably the best place to start is with the hot-button issue of Digital Rights Management (aka DRM). 

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Survivor...Publishing Style

I've been crazy busy for a while now, which is definitely better than the alternative!  Thus, I realized recently that I've been so occupied making deals that I haven't stopped to post them.  I'll be rectifying this on Publishers Marketplace et al as time allows.  I'll also get back to posting my Agent Anonymous articles, originally published in the SFWA Bulletin, like this one from the October-November 2009 issue.  I hope you enjoy!

Survivor...Publishing Style!

I was originally going to do this article on what to expect when you hit big, because, believe it or not, there are special complications that come along with becoming a huge bestseller, but I can hear y’all now, “Yeah, cry me a river.  What about surviving in this tough market?”

So here we have it.  Survivor…publishing style.

Be Creative

First of all, in a very competitive market, good enough just…isn’t.  Even if you’ve sold on proposal in the past time and again, you may find that you’re being asked to jump through a few more hoops—tweak or rethink synopses, write a bit more material, maybe even a complete manuscript—as publishers try to assure that each and every book published is truly polished and positioned to sell.  This is not necessarily a bad thing, though it can feel that way when you’re the one writing away on spec. 

It’s very important for publishers to see how your work will stand out on crowded shelves among all the others released that month (not only by them, but by their competitors).  This means working toward really fresh and original voices and ideas.  Whether you’re writing epic or urban fantasy, sf or horror, you’ve got to bring it…a new take, something you feel passionately enough about to pour your heart and soul into. 

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I haven't to date kept a comprehensive record of where blogs and articles have been posted so that anyone following can easily reference them, so I've begun to remedy that.  This list will be added to as I discover links I've left off and as I write new articles, but here's a start for anyone interested:

For the SFWA Bulletin:

What is the Deal with E-Books?

Survivor...Publishing Style (October-November 2009 issue)

Demystifying the Mystical Art of Negotiation
(April-May 2009 issue)

Don’t Go Breakin’ My Heart Pt I (June-July 2009 issue) 

Don’t Go Breakin’ My Heart Pt. II (August-September 2009 issue) 

Pseudonyms (Feb-March 2009 issue)

Promotion (December-January 2009-2010)

Con-Templation (Oct-Nov. 2008) 

(other Bulletin articles will be published as their one-year anniversaries come and go)

For Magical Words

Debut Week – An Agent’s Perspective

YA/Middle Grade

Genres and Subgenres and Memes, Oh My! 

 Voice (for Magical Musings)

As Author:
Creative Control

A Writer’s Diary

Better Living Through Fiction

Wherein the Sky has Always Been Falling

Turning Myth into Magic for Kalayna Price’s blog

Of Quirks and Characters for Magical Words

Publication Panic for Doranna Durgin’s blog

Action Distraction for Babes in Bookland (scroll down to July 13th)

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Creative for Petit Fours and Hot Tamales

Ideas vs. Execution for Deborah Blake’s blog

Myth: It’s Bendy for my own blog

No (Wo)man is an Island for Janice Hardy’s blog

Love Triangles for PJ Schnyder’s blog

How Novels are like Children for Jon Sprunk’s blog

Paperback Writer for Cate Peace

Apollo for Wynter Daniels

Truth is Stranger than Fiction for Faith Hunter’s blog

My Can’t Write a Blog Blog for Cats, Books, And…More Cats!

As my heroines:
Gina (from Vamped, Revamped and the forthcoming Fangtastic):
How Not to be a Hot Mess

How to Stay Dreamy When You're Dead

The Care and Feeding of Minions

Tomorrow the World

Gina interviewing Tori (from Bad Blood):

Interviewed by her grandmother (Yiayia of the Goddities gossip blog) for Romance Magicians

Demystifying the Mystical Art of Negotiation

As promised last week, here's another of the "Agent Anonymous" articles I wrote for the SFWA Bulletin, this one from the April - May 2009 issue.  I hope you enjoy!

Demystifying the Mystical Art of Negotiation

I’ve been staring at the screen trying to figure out how to start this article.  “Show me the money!”  Seems too clichéd, especially since we all know we won’t actually see the money for a couple of months after negotiation…one, at least, in which to get the contracts and haggle out any remaining points, send said contracts to the author for signature and get them back to the publisher, and another few weeks for the publisher to process the contract and payment.  So I went looking for good famous quotes on negotiation.  There was a surprising dearth of quotes.  Apparently, the concept of negotiation is either not terribly inspiring or the great negotiators like to play their wisdom close to the vest. 

Finally, I found the following on ThinkExist.com, attributed to Dean Archeson: “Negotiation in the classic diplomatic sense assumes parties more anxious to agree than disagree.”  This, of course, is the essence of negotiation.  Parties come to the bargaining table because they want to make a deal.  In the publishing sense, the publisher wants to buy a book or series and we want to sell it…for the right price. 

There are as many ways to arrive at that price as there are stars in the sky.  And it all starts well before the words “Here’s our offer” are even uttered. 

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“Don’t Go Breakin’ My Heart”

Continuing my posts of my previous Agent Anonymous articles from the SFWA Bulletin, I present to you:

“Don’t Go Breakin’ My Heart” (June-July 2009 issue)

For some reason while writing this the song “Good-Night, Sweatheart” by the Spaniels keeps running through my head.  And no, I didn’t know the name of the band off the top of my head; I had to go look it up.  They were somewhat before my time.  (That was a hint about my super (ha) secret identity for anyone keeping score out there.)

“I hate to leave you, but I really must say….”  The time comes in many relationships for a parting of the ways, whether it’s time to start a relationship with a new publisher or a new agent.  Is there an etiquette?  Well, of course, isn’t there always?  Text or phone?  Can we still be friends?  How do I behave when I see her with another author? 

Most importantly, what are the top four signs it’s time to move on:

-your agent or editor isn’t returning your calls or e-mails without being chased several times

-when he/she does respond, the return communication is singularly unhelpful

-you and your agent don’t share similar thoughts on your strengths and weaknesses and/or the direction of your work

-You’re not getting what you need out of the relationship, either editorially or support-wise

Now, all that said, you have to ask yourself: have I communicated my needs to my agent?  Have I started frank and open discussions about the reason for the communications breakdown to try to improve matters?  Is the grass really greener? Are my expectations out of line?

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About to head off to the Romance Writers of America Conference in Orlando (tomorrow), so no time to write a new post for today, but I present the third of my Agent Anonymous articles for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America...."What's in a Name" by Agent Sue Dee Nym.

What's in a name?  A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet.


Okay, but would James Bond really be the same if he went by Izod Lipshitz?  Or Harry Blech.  Or Zaphod Beeblebrox?  Would he still get the girls?  Well, perhaps.  But still, you get the point.

From fantasy to reality, it's long been accepted that names have power. 

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And now for my second article written originally for the SFWA Bulletin in my guise as Agent Anonymous...


When Facely-the-Ferret wants my attention, he simply pounces on my feet and jumps back a few steps looking up at me expectantly.  Unless I'm in the middle of something, like writing an article for the Bulletin, this generally works.  Self-promotion, for authors, is a bit more complicated.  (Though Facely volunteers to come to your signings and pounce on the feet of likely buyers to get their attention, as long as there's something in it for him.  Ferrets are notoriously mercenary.)

So, let's talk about how you can best get readers' attention.  The first thing you're going to want to do, of course, is talk with your publicist at your publishing house to find out what they'll be doing for your book and how best to coordinate your efforts.  There are a good number of things that a publisher can do for you that you can't do for yourself, like arrange for coop advertising (otherwise known as pay-for-play). 

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Since it's been more than a year now since my first article for the SFWA Bulletin (SFWA stands for Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America), I'm now able to post it for all.  Back when I started doing the Agent Anonymous articles, I was, as the name implies, anonymous.  I wrote as Agent Sue Dee Nym, thinking that if I wanted to get all controversial, it would give me all the freedom I could desire.  Then I discovered that I'm such a direct person, I wasn't saying anything I wouldn't say with my own attribution.  So, without further ado, I present to you Agent Sue's very first article.  Hope you enjoy.


Since this is my first article for The Bulletin, I wonder whether I should introduce myself or simply launch right into my topic.  Hmm, what would Miss Snark do?  To start, she’d probably have some brilliant witticism at the ready about Killer Yap, George Clooney and a bucket of vodka…and no, not in THAT way.  Sheesh, you’d think y’all spent time reading The Priest-Kings of Gor or something.  Anyway, I don’t have a cleverly-named poodle, just Facely, a hyperactive ferret who likes to build nests in my couch and occasionally pounce on my feet.  He refuses to fetch, vodka or anything else, which is probably just as well.  I’d take horrible advantage.


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