The official blog of Susan Landis-Steward, writer of whatever she likes, and co-founder of Puddletown Publishing Group

Archive for the ‘E-books’ Category

Today, I am a Thief!

That thing to your left, assuming you are facing the monitor and not doing something odd or impossible, is a synringa vulgaris. And it is mocking me.

I am married to a woman who thinks driving around exploring the countryside by tooling down rutted mud-filled roads in my car is fun. On one of her excursions, she found this lilac. The important thing about this lilac is the color. This picture, which is from wikimedia commons, does not do it justice.

The lilac she has been jonesing after for years is a deep dark cousin of this one. She’s tried to find it in nurseries, but it’s always disappointed her by being not-quite this color. They’ve all turned out to be, horrors, lavender.

So, she found this lilac, or one like it only darker, in one of her many excursions, and today, in the interest of distending my bladder just a bit further before taking me home, she had to go by and “visit” it.

The property it sits on is a) vacant and b) for sale. For $800,000. So I suggested she take cuttings. Aiding and abetting a crime is nowhere near as bad as committing it. So she pulled  MY car up so that MY window was right next to the damn thing and proceeded to coerce me into stealing branches off the lilac of her dreams. (Warning to all the lesbians out there: Never marry a butch wannabee.)

The evidence is now in a jar on top of the dishwasher waiting for us to go get rooting hormone. Mocking me, I say.

On the flip side, while searching for lilacs on wikimedia, I came across an entry for lilac-crowned Amazon. Thinking I’d find a Dianic goddess wearing nothing but a drooping crown of synringa vulgaris and a breastplate, I had to click. Instead, I found this.

That, my friends, is an Amazona finschi. Which has nothing to do with lilacs or Sapphic beauties. It’s just a parrot with a red forehead. And that’s what I learned today.

If you want to know more about lesbians and butch wannabees, you could read my book. Blind Leading the Blind, only $3.99 at Amazon and Barnes&Noble. Lesbians, mysteries, a blind woman, motorcycles, kids, horses, sex, belly dancers, what more could you want? (I didn’t say that. The parrot did.)

Buy the book! Squawk! Buy the book already! Written by a real-live thief! Squawk!

A New Interview by Dragonfly Scrolls

Enjoy!

http://dragonflyscrolls.wordpress.com/

H is for Handicap

Right off, let me acknowledge that “handicap” is an archaic and politically incorrect term unless you’re talking golf or horse racing. But I wanted to talk about my character, Liz Gearhart, who is a person with a disability. And I already did “D.”

I used to think disabilities happened to “them” until I woke up in a hospital bed with a brain injury after a brief encounter with death. While most folks would never notice the disability now, almost 10 years out, it’s still very much there. Just ask my partner about last night. I was a beast.

No, that’s not my disability. I do not turn into a monster by the light of the moon. But if I get tired, or my brain gets overstimulated, or I push myself too far (which I do way too often), I become cranky, I pull to the left when I walk, I trip, stumble, and fall, and I whine. Oh, do I whine. I also set things down in thin air, usually things filled with liquid, and I close my eyes to shut out the environment.  Not a good thing if you’re driving. And, yes, I have done this while driving. So, in the last 10 years, I’ve had to learn a lot about living with a disability.

I chose Liz’s disability because it is visible. She’s blind. I’ve had several friends over the years who were blind, deaf, paraplegic, or otherwise visibly disabled. I’ve spent a lot of time talking with them, and as a former reporter I tend to ask LOTS of questions. And, invariably, I’ve been impressed with how, well, “normal” they all are. Well, except my blind friend who once drove from Moscow, ID to Pullman, WA with a bunch of drunks yelling “A little to the left.” “A little to the right.” He justified this behavior as being sober and therefore the designated driver. He’s just crazy.

Having a disability does not suddenly make you stupid, incapable, or somehow less than. That’s hard for me to remember when I’m feeling my worst. But, despite a disabling condition, I manage to work more than full time, travel, play, preach, write, and generally enjoy life. Yes, I do sleep more than I’d wish. My brain gets tired and knocks me flat on my back.

But back to Liz. I wanted to write about a person with an acquired disability who manages to keep doing the things she’d done before, albeit modified or in a different way, and who is not some sort of fictional “Wonder Woman” with hyper senses to compensate, able to see better than sighted people. I wanted a complex, multifaceted, sometimes angry, sometimes brave, sometimes quirky, often intelligent, sometimes stupid, and mostly just plain “normal” person. Who just happens to be blind.

And I wanted to explore the reactions and feelings of the so-called “normal” woman who falls in love with her. Hence, Erik.  A strong, capable, neurotic woman who has to wrestle with her feelings for a) this particular woman and b) the fact that this particular woman is blind.

I guess it gave me a chance to explore more of my own feelings, about being disabled and about how we all treat folks with disabilities. And I’ll be exploring it even more in coming books about the duo. Stayed tuned.

Blind Leading the Blind is available at Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and Smashwords for the low price of just $4.99.

 

This post brought to you by the words handful, hurricane, heart, hell hound, and heavenly. Also by the numbers….hm, are there numbers that start with “h”? Maybe in Japanese, but I can’t remember. Please advise.

 

Some Facts About Book Distribution

Here’s a great link with some info by an industry insider. More reasons to think ebook:

http://www.thebookdesigner.com/2011/02/indie-publishing-the-problem-with-book-distribution/

FYI: Another Bad Sign for Traditional Publishing

Check this link out. Now, apparently, at least one major publisher, Macmillan, is trying to get authors to sign over their copyright. Not just for the current work, but for any derivative works. If I understand correctly, derivative includes sequels, recordings, whatever. In perpetuity.

http://pubrants.blogspot.com/2011/02/by-far-biggest-issue.html

So, what does Puddletown do? First, you have to buy your own copyright, for $37 (paid to the government, not us), and we make sure YOU own your work. We don’t want it. Sure, if you write a sequel and want to publish it with us, we’ll talk. But all we want is your e-rights. For two years. As I said before, you can re-up with us, or we can part friends if you want to try something else when the two years are up.

This bit about Macmillan’s contract tells me that they are at the front of the pack, running scared. And just another word about Macmillan: I’ve been working for Macmillan as a freelancer in another capacity for many years. I like the people I work with. But Macmillan has outsourced most of its production to India and dropped the rates they pay freelancers into the realm of the ridiculous. This I don’t like.

Remember, in the last post, I told you that with our model, your royalties go UP over time? Just saying.

E-books? So What’s In Them for the Author?

Well, lots. Now, remember from last post, I’m not talking about self-publishing. I’m not dissing it, I just think that the writing community has to build credibility for e-books by making sure that only quality e-books get published. If you can do that yourself, great. If not, maybe you should look for some help. But first, why would you want to e-publish your book?

Let me give you numerous reasons why you may want to rethink traditional publishing:

  1. Traditional publishing has controlled the gate for too long. Very few new authors get published, and if they do, very few earn out their advances.
  2. Even if you get an advance, chances are it will be miniscule. And it can be years before you see the first royalty check. If your book doesn’t get remaindered first.
  3. It takes a long time to find an agent, more time to make the rounds. If you’re lucky enough to get a contract, you’ve got a long wait until your book gets published.
  4. Then you may get 5 or 6 percent as your royalty.
  5. Unless you are the next J.K. Rowling, you’ll still have to do most if not all of your own marketing.
  6. Publishers used to be in the business of selling books to readers. Now they are in the business of selling books to bookstores. And even the mighty Powell’s, with numerous floors covering a full city block, admits that they’re making their money on tchotchkes rather than books. With fewer bookstores, and more space going to cards, journals, games, toys, and other non-book items in the ones that remain, your chances of getting on the shelves, or staying there for any length of time, are getting slimmer and slimmer.

Now, a new model of e-publishing: (Disclaimer: I am co-founder of a company that works on this model. However, we’re not taking submissions right now so I’m not soliciting books. You can follow us on Facebook at Puddletown Publishing Group if you want to know when we open the doors to submissions again. But we’re pretty busy right now so it may be awhile.)

  1. E-books are the wave of the future. Even kids are getting in on the ride, and parents and teachers support this. Kids love gadgets. If it takes a gadget to get them to read, why not?
  2. Indie e-books are inexpensive. Since our overhead is low, we pass that on to the reader. While the Big Six have set roughly $9.99 as their low price, so as not to compete too much with the much more expensive trade paper version, indie e-book publishers can set their prices much lower and still make money. When we launch in March, our books in our initial catalog will all cost around $4.99 or less. That’s one grande latte. People are more likely to buy a book for $5 than one at $10. And more likely to take a chance on a new author.
  3. Indie publishing royalties are higher. If you grant e-book rights to the Big Six, you’ll get 17.5 percent and your agent gets a cut. If you grant them to us, or folks like us, you’ll get a lot more. And here at Puddletown, our royalties go up with sales.
  4. You’ll never get remaindered. If your book doesn’t sell a kazillion copies the first month, nobody’s going to ship it back to be recycled. It will stay for sale as long as you want.
  5. E-books have an indefinite shelf life. Once it’s out there, it stays out there.
  6. Authors start making money sooner.  It takes us about two months to get a book to market. Compare that to the year or more it takes traditional dead-tree publishing.
  7. If you don’t want to give up the dream, you don’t have to. Puddletown, at least, buys e-rights and POD rights only. One of our authors is going to have her book in our March launch AND is also negotiating with a traditional publisher for the trade book rights. We’ll even give up POD rights if an author wants. But, while she’s waiting for that trade book to come out, she’ll be making money with us.
  8. We don’t lock you into an exclusive contract. Our contract is for one book, for two years. If you want to try your luck elsewhere, we’ll part friends.
  9. We know the importance of social networking to book sales, and we’ll not only help you set up your own campaign, we’ll do one for you off our platform. We have no front-, mid-, or back-list. Every book gets the same treatment. We realize that if you aren’t making sales, we’re not making money.
  10. E-book publishing is author-centric. We are in the business of making sure we all make money. Since our overhead is small and our time-frame is fast, we don’t have to wonder what’s going to be hot two years from now. Vampires hot right now? We can have that book out in a couple of months.  Alien swamp monsters the next big thing? We have an app for that.
  11. One of our authors has written a great YA book about stock car racing. The Big Six tell her it’s a great book, but they don’t see an audience. Excuse me? Ever heard of NASCAR? We’re able to target market to speedways, NASCAR fans, and others. And she’ll sell a lot of books. But the Big Six can only see the BIG books, the ones with generic appeal. So if you’re quirky, or a bit odd, your book will probably never get sold traditionally.
  12. I write lesbian mysteries with a blind protagonist. My books will be marketed to the LGBT community and the blind community. The cool thing? For only a very small investment, we’ll be able to produce books that can easily be converted for use on Braille readers and computers. And we’ll also produce a recording. How many new authors get an audiobook right out of the box?
  13. I could go on and on. But the real hurdle we have to jump is the idea that an e-book is somehow not a real book and that being e-published is just not the same. Let me disabuse you of this right now.
  14. Yes, there are vanity presses posing as e-publishers. They want your money up front. Avoid these like the gimmick they are. Puddletown, and others like us, use the same system traditional publishers use. Even my book was sent anonymously to a reader who has never met me and never heard of me. She had to approve before I went any further. (She doesn’t like one of my books…I’m going to have to do some serious rewriting if I want that one published.)
  15. Once we accept a book, we do substantive edits, copy edits, send it back for rewrites, and edit some more. Our reputation is on the line as well as our authors’. We won’t publish dreck.  And, did you notice, we still didn’t ask for any money?
  16. We also pay for your cover  and all the other aspects of design, including POD formatting if you want some print copies for your mother and the other Luddites in your life. The only cost you have to pay is for your copyright. $37. Because you want to own your own book, don’t you? And you don’t pay that to us. It goes to the government. BTW, did you notice this? Some publishers are trying to buy all your rights, including  your copyright, for exclusive rights to your sequels. That means they own your book.
  17. All we ask of our authors is that they participate in their own self-marketing, which we help them set up. They don’t have to, but that’s their loss. We don’t know their social networks and connections. If they choose not to use them, then they don’t make as many sales.
  18. Oh, and once we earn back our expenses, the royalties we pay start going up.

So do you want to spend years querying the Big Six, searching for an agent who may or may not do much to sell your book (and then takes 15 percent if it does sell), all for a measly 5 percent for a paperback or 17.5 percent for an e-book? Or do you want to publish within a short period of time and earn a whole lot more?

Your choice. And the choice of the future.

PS  We love bookstores and will be partnering with them to make sure they don’t fail. We are under no illusion that everyone will want to read books electronically. Which is why all our books have the POD option.

Why You Should Consider E-books

The dream of every writer has been to get published, and when we think publishing, we think traditional publishing with hardcover and trade paper, finally ending up in pocketbook at Safeway. But are you sure this is what you want?

Last year, Barnes&Noble and Amazon both saw the sale of e-books and e-readers overtake and surpass the sale of paper books. The mighty Powell’s, the largest indie bookstore in the country and possibly the world, just laid off 10 percent of its workforce and froze salaries and canceled 401k contributions for their remaining staff. They blame  e-books. Borders has fallen, or at least is struggling to get up.

I am fortunate to live near Powell’s and it is my favorite place on earth. I’ve been going there since it opened. Which may give you some idea how old I am. I was one who was never going to switch to e-books. I love the feel, smell, sound, sight of a book more than anything else. About the only thing I don’t like is that weird thing they do when dropped in the bathtub. But as I approach 60, my body no longer likes books. In order for me to read, I have to take off my glasses, close one eye, squinch up the other, and hold the book about three inches from my face. I can only do this for about five minutes before it becomes tiring. I’ve tried all sorts of solutions, most involving my eye doctor, and finally had to admit that I couldn’t read anymore.

So I bought a NOOKcolor. I can now read anything available, and most of it is available. After several years of only reading on my computer (bumped up to 200 percent), I’ve read roughly four to five books a week since I got my NOOK. The NOOK is my first piece of adaptive technology and I suspect a hearing aid is not far behind.

But why should authors consider e-books? Well, there are several reasons, and I’ll put them in the next post. But first a disclaimer. I am not talking about self-publishing here. Not that I have anything against self-publishing, but most of the self-published books I’ve seen have serious flaws in writing, editing, structure, and just about everything else. Self-publishing, as it stands now, gives e-books a bad name. Yes, some people, like Amy Rose Davis, produce beautifully written, well-edited, engaging self-published e-books. But the vast majority are, IMHO, garbage. If people want to self-publish, go for it. But for Pete’s sake, hire an editor. A real one. Not your best friend. Do it for yourself and for your craft. Because, folks, I have to tell you: e-books are where it’s at.

More at 11.

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