Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Getting Your Name Out There

As I've mentioned a few times, gentle readers, an author's name is a brand, a social currency, a form of capital: it can signal cultural awareness ("Have you read the new book by so-and-so?"), serves as synecdoche for a book's actual content ("Have you read the new Suzanne Collins? Well, she wrote it, it must be good,"), and even acts as a seal of approval (e.g. reviews and blurbs).

So how do you get yours out there?

Well, the most obvious answer is to write a fantastic book that people love. Until then, however, there are a few things you can do to get your name and your writing on readers' radars.

Attend events. There's no substitute for face time, mes auteurs. Attending readings, book signings, panel discussions, conferences, conventions, and other literary events in your genre of interest will not only help you fill out your mental Who's Who, but will help raise your profile among other readers and writers interested in the sorts of books you are.

Write reviews. Just behind talking about themselves, people love reading about themselves. Write reviews of books you love by authors you admire, link to them, and spread a little good karma. The worst that'll happen is your name will be in print or on-line in one more place than it was previously; the best that'll happen is that the author will repost, retweet, link to, or otherwise call out your stellar review, and that can help raise awareness of your name significantly.

Participate in social media. You won't have the time or money to attend every in-person event you'd like, but that doesn't mean you're in any way cut off from the writing community of your choice. Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter allow you to communicate with people you might never otherwise meet, and maintaining a web presence (website and/or blog) provides you a sort of digital storefront for you and your work. Networking has never been easier than with the biggest network (of networks) on the planet: the Internet.

Publish your short fiction. If you write short stories, submit 'em for publication. A nice array of publication credits in print and/or on-line will not only help build awareness of your brand, but may attract attention from agents and editors. Should you decide to go it alone and self-publish your work electronically, you can sell your short stories on the cheap to attract consumers for your novel. Again: worst case scenario, your name comes up more often in print, in conversation, and/or on-line.

Ideas? Theories? Tried-and-true methods? To the comments with you!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Better Know A Conference: RWA National

I've been reading your comments on last Wednesday's post, mes auteurs, and I'd like to kick off Better Know a Conference with a discussion of the RWA (Romance Writers of America) National Conference. (Don't worry—future installments will cover other genres, conventions/conferences of different sizes, &c, &c.)


Every summer, the Romance Writers of America host a conference in a major city for authors, fans, and industry professionals to participate in workshops, attend panel discussions, and listen to featured speakers discuss everything from their most recent novels to the state of the romance novel in today's publishing environment. The last few conferences have been held in Orlando, Washington, D.C., and San Fransisco; this year's conference is June 28th – July 1st in New York City.

The Pros

· You don't have to be a romance writer to attend, or even be a member of the RWA! (Membership dues run around $110/year.) Anyone with the cash for the registration fee can attend the conference (see below).

· Writers (published and un-) can make appointments to meet with agents and editors whose bread and butter is buying and selling romance titles. How cool is that?

· There are special events for non-authors (read: book signings), librarians, industry professionals, and so on, so even if you don't write romance novels, there will be something interesting for you to do. If you do write romance novels: you're in luck! There are workshops, receptions, and awards ceremonies galore.

· The networking opportunities are virtually endless. You'll get to meet unpublished writers, début authors, established authors, agents, editors, publicists, and more. There's no reason you should go home without having made at least one new connection.

· The RWA National Conference is HUGE. Take the time to explore as much as possible.

The Cons

· You do have to pay registration fees to attend, and non-members pay higher fees (though if you only want to go to meet authors, and not to network as an author yourself, the "Readers for Life" Literacy Autographing is free and open to the public).

As for those fees: the early member fee is $525, and non-members will have to shell out $600. After the "early" period ends in mid-May, registration fees go up.

· As you might imagine, those one-on-one sessions are hard to come by (priority goes to Golden Heart and RITA finalists), so while the networking opportunites at the conference are significant, don't expect to hang out with your dream agent/editor. My advice? Network with your fellow writers. You never know when a recommendation from a new friend might land you a contract.

· The networking opportunities are enormous because the sheer volume of people there is enormous—that is, it can be overwhelming for first-time attendees. This may not be the best romance convention for rookies to attend, and I'd recommend cutting your teeth on smaller, regional conferences before attempting this one.

· The RWA National Conference is HUGE. You can't explore all of it, so you'll have to prioritize when it comes to attending the various sessions. You'll inevitably want to attend two events that occur simultaneously, so be prepared to make some tough decisions.

Some DOs and DON'Ts

· DO be professional. Wear business casual attire (except for appointments, which are business attire, and the awards night, which is formal). That old adage of "be friendly, but not familiar" is probably not a bad idea, especially when speaking with editors or agents. That said: don't be afraid to make friends, especially with other authors/attendees! Network, network, network.

· DON'T bring your manuscript to the conference. Do you hear me? DO NOT do this. There is no chance an editor or agent will accept it at this venue. Best case scenario: you'll exchange contact information and that agent/editor will follow up with you. Most likely scenario: you send them a query after the conference and mention how great it was meeting them.

· DO have a game plan. If you don't have a semblance of an itinerary when you arrive, you'll probably miss out on a bunch of stuff you would have liked to see. Figure out what kinds of workshops, readings, panel discussions, &c you want to attend ahead of time.

· DON'T be too aggressive. It's sometimes very hard not to jump on an opportunity to network when Fancy McDreamAgent or Awesome CoolAuthorson is standing ahead of you in line for the restroom or lunch, but remember: authors, agents, and industry insiders attend these conferences chiefly to interact with each other, and they will not take kindly to being harangued or interrupted. If they're not busy and you just want to chat them up, feel free, but don't take the opportunity to pitch your book.

· DO your homework. Take the time to learn a bit about the authors who are signing, the editors making keynote addresses, &c &c. After all, you want people at this conference to take an interest in you and your work, don't you?

· DON'T forget to go sight-seeing. Yes, the conference is about romance novels and the people who write them, but it's also about getting to experience a new city. If there's a night with fewer events or an afternoon when you're relatively free, take the time to be a tourist for awhile.

· Finally, DO follow up with people you meet/exchange contact information with. Again: you never know when a connection will come in handy.

That's all for now, folks. Questions, &c in the comments!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Round Upocalypse

Friday round up with Laura:

It's the end of the world, boys and girls. Traditionally pubbed authors are self publishing, successful self-pubbers are going traditional, dogs and cats are living together—mass hysteria. Elizabeth Berkeley's book is good! Putting your lady character in a corset doesn't make her a strong character! The Wire is now a Victorian novel! Start hoarding your books and gather up the good aunts, because the apocalypse is a-comin'.

Just because the end is nigh doesn't mean we have to look shoddy, however. These clothing lines are inspired by literature, darlings. Feel free to dress up and read your favorite translated books while the band plays and the Titanic goes down. If you're a teacher you can save 30% at Borders in April, so you can spend more on clothes (if your local Borders is still open, that is). If not, you can get a cross stitch of your favorite literary quote.

I'm off to be productive—a novelty, I know—so play some publishing bingo, read your Elizabeth Taylor books, and I'll see you all next week.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Prithee, Inform Me: Your Favorite Conventions and Conferences

I'd like to start a semi-regular segment next week, mes auteurs, tentatively titled "Better Know a Conference." To that end, I'd like to ask you: which writers'/authors' conferences/conventions are your favorites? Which do you attend regularly? Which would you like to learn more about? &c, &c.

Here I'm thinking more along the lines of genre conferences/conventions (e.g. Bouchercon, the Romance Writers of America annual conference), though more general events (e.g. ComicCon, Book Expo America) are also fair game.

To the comments!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Here Be Dragons (Rerun)

Meetings abound, mes auteurs, so it's a rerun for you today. Happy spring (it's official!) and see you later this week! — E

Episode: "Here Be Dragons"
Originally aired: Monday, October 11th, 2010

I wrote a post last April about myths and misconceptions in the industry, mes auteurs, and I think it's once again time to put a few rumours and unfounded fears to bed.

Onward! (Again!)

· You have to spend money to make money. Aside from incidental costs like paper, printer ink, and postage (and that's only for agents who still don't accept e-MSS), you shouldn't have to pay to submit your work. Let me say that again: no legitimate agent will charge you to read your manuscript or to represent you. Period.

· You have to know someone to get published. This one is sort of true, but let me re-emphasize: if your writing isn't good enough and you're not Justin Bieber or Lindsay Lohan or Kanye West, it doesn't matter who/how many people you know—you're not getting a book deal. Knowing someone greases the wheels; it doesn't build the machine.

· You don't have to promote your book; publishing houses have publicity and marketing teams for a reason. Unless yours is one of the publisher's lead titles, you're going to have to do some of your own legwork. Midlist authors at large houses and most authors at smaller houses have to be willing to do at least some self-promotion in order to give their books the best possible chance in the market. If you're asked to do podcasts, blog tours, physical book tours, readings, signings, or bookstore events, it's in your best interest to do as many as possible.

· E-books and self-publishing are going to make publishers, agents, and editors obsolete. It's true that the industry is changing rapidly and that, à mon avis, the Publishing World of Tomorrow will require fewer employees and companies. Roles will unquestionably change. But as long as people are willing to pay to read books, you're going to have people to sell them, manage their brands (i.e. you), market them, and make sure they're as strong as possible before publication. The future is not a bunch of people uploading their just-finished MSS to Amazon for immediate review and sale.

· Amazon is going to kill the independent/second-hand book store. While I can't say for sure this is 100% false, I'm very confident that Amazon will not kill independent, local, and second-hand book stores; there's no substitute for their ambience, knowledgeable staff, and propensity to stock hard-to-find titles. In fact, should Amazon manage to kill brick-and-mortar chains (which I think is the likelier scenario), indepedents might undergo a resurgence/renaissance of sorts. Think of it this way: chains are the dinosaurs, indies are the scrappy mammals, and Amazon is the asteroid.

That's all for today, meine Bros und She-Bros. Questions in the comments!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Round Up: The Ideas of March

Friday round up with Laura:

Happy St. Patty's Hangover day, folks (or, for the true drinkers, happy regular Friday, I guess). Last week we discussed the state of American iconic fantasy characters and, while depressing, it turns out discussions are fun! So this week: it turns out The Very Hungry Caterpillar is being used to fight obesity. But what books are we using to fight childhood drug use? I vote for The Little Engine That Could (But Chose Not To). Suggestions in the comments, por favor.

In other news, James Frey is self-publishing a book about hipster Jesus. My note about this was "yawn," but I think I'll elaborate. One: a disruptive take on a religious figure? Won't somebody think of the children? Two: James Frey, aren't you running a writer sweatshop? I'd really prefer you stick to that, please, instead of trying to be controversial. And three: yawn. I'd rather go with this Ides of March reading list, or watch movies from the most adapted authors, or stare into space and imagine I'm watching this video. While we're on the grump train, WTF was this assisterati thing? Did anyone else vomit in his or her mouth? Repeatedly? Oh, wait, I forgot that everyone who works in publishing is a) an editorial person (except for almost everyone) and b) is working with literary fiction (except for almost everyone). (Zing! — E)

Happy thoughts, happy thoughts. Let's see...Ice-T and his wife Coco have novel deals. Bomb ass awesome, folks. There's also this great interview with the guys adapting A Game of Thrones, and Stephen King is both taking on time travel and supporting unions. What a guy, that Steve. I bet he watched these ten videos about creativity.

That's it from me folks. Check out these exciting April fiction events, think about your way of writing, and I'll see you next week.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

In Case You Were Curious

Just a quick reminder that PMN is always open to guest post submissions—just e-mail me your posts for consideration!

Lately, a few of you have asked what I actually do at work all day. Here's a rough breakdown by percentage:

Attending meetings: 20%
Collating things: 20%
Photocopying things: 10%
Fixing other people's copier jams: 15%
Fixing my own copier jams: 5%
Repeatedly requesting materials: 10%
Answering computer-related questions: 10%
Printing things that don't need to be printed: 5%
Printing things that do need to be printed: 4%
Directly helping sell books: 1%

Such is the life of the English major a few years after graduation. Sure, it's all cheap beer and pretentious Proust discussions while you're taking classes, but afterward it's... well, cheap beer and pretentious Proust discussions, but you also have to make PowerPoint presentations and Excel pivot tables.

What about you, mes auteurs? What do you do to pay the bills?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Nine Ways to Give a Better Reading

by Brad Phillips

We've all been to that book reading—the one where the book's author is so dull that you decide to return the book to the store shelf and buy something else instead.

I've been to many book readings through the years, and only a couple stand out as exceptional (Dave Eggers’ reading for A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius was a rare gem).

The good news is that it's not hard for authors to improve their readings. In this article, I’ll offer nine tips writers can implement immediately to inspire audience members to buy at least one copy at the store—and sell many more through word of mouth.

1. Test The Microphone and Logistics in Advance: This is an easy one, but too many authors approach the lectern for the first time when they're about to begin their reading. Inevitably, they have to adjust the microphone, figure out where to place their water, and arrange their papers. Avoid that lousy first impression by arriving early, taking in your surroundings, and testing the microphone before the first person arrives.

2. Don't Begin With Thank You: Book readings represent the culmination of a years-long writing and publishing process, and authors are understandably grateful to those who have helped them reach that moment. But authors who begin by thanking their publisher, editor, cover artist, publicity staff, and spouse risk putting their audiences to sleep.

Remember—a book reading is an opportunity to sell your book. If you begin your speech with a soporific or redundant opening, you're less likely to achieve your goal. Begin with something that grabs the audience's attention first—then go back, if necessary, and deliver your thank yous.

3. Don't Read The Book to The Audience: Your audience can read your book themselves. Little is more monotonous than hearing someone else reading words aloud. Great authors elevate the text by using a compelling vocal delivery to emphasize key phrases, increasing the tempo to build suspense, and modulating their volume to match the content. Listen to a bestselling book on tape to get a sense of how the pros do it.

4. Match the Talk to Your Strengths: Are you a great extemporaneous storyteller? Why kill that part of your personality by merely reading from your book? Instead, consider reading a small excerpt of the book, then telling an extemporaneous story (you can alternate between the two throughout your talk).

5. Err on the Side of Too Little: How long should your talk be? Just long enough to sell your book, and not a moment longer. That’s a hard balance to strike, but my bias is to be on the slightly too short side (perhaps that's because I'm 5'5". But I digress). It's better to leave your audience wanting more than to wear them down—so keep the reading to about half an hour (experienced speakers can go a bit longer), plus 15-20 minutes for questions. Stick around afterwards to answer remaining questions from audience members who approach you.

6. Set Up the Questions and Answers: Before you begin taking questions, tell the audience how long you plan to answer questions. Twenty minutes might feel like an eternity if they have no clue how long you're planning on going, but it's fine if they can anticipate when the ending point will arrive. Keep your answers short—five-minute answers tend to bog down the question and answer portion of the talk.

7. Prepare for the Obvious Questions: A surprising number of writers fumble through their answers to basic questions. Think through the answers to the most obvious questions in advance, such as:

"What does the title mean?"
"What did you learn when writing the book?"
"What was the biggest surprise along the way?"
"What did the subject(s) of the book think of it?"
"What are the subject(s) doing now?"
"Was the character inspired by a real person?"

8. Repeat Questions for the Audience: Since many book readings are recorded, this is important even in small groups when everybody can hear the question.

9. Don't Limp to the Finish Line: Great books have a great closing, and so do great book readings. Instead of ending your talk the moment you finish answering your last question, provide a quick wrap-up. Your official closing doesn't have to last long—30 – 60 seconds is fine—but even those few seconds allow you to leave the audience remembering exactly what you want them to.

If you're stumped, try adding a very short anecdote at the end. Choose one that is emblematic of your book's theme and that helps reinforce one of your book's main takeaway points.

(Check out the original post here.)

Brad Phillips is the author of the Mr. Media Training Blog, where a version of this story first appeared. His firm, Phillips Media Relations, specializes in media and presentation training.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Prithee, Inform Me: The Rules of Writing

It's no secret that I'm a big fan of Kurt Vonnegut, and today I'd like to share with you, gentle readers/writers, his eight rules for writing fiction.

They are:

1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.

2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.

3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.

4. Every sentence must do one of two things—reveal character or advance the action.

5. Start as close to the end as possible.

6. Be a Sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading charcters, make awful things happen to them—in order that the reader may see what they are made of.

7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.

8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To hell with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

(These are from the above link, which in turn borrows them from Vonnegut's Bagombo Snuff Box: Uncollected Short Fiction.)

Now, many successful writers have broken some (or nearly all) of these rules on several occasions, and I don't completely agree with all of them (my biggest quarrel is with #8). I do, however, think they comprise one of the better succinct "how-to" (or "how-not-to") guides to writing fiction, and I think they go a long way toward explaining why even fiction that isn't written that well can sell like hotcakes.

Yes: hotcakes.

Now, it should also come as no surprise to you that I am decidedly not a fan of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight books (to use a somewhat dated example). However! I think they sell for many reasons apart from this country's recent obsession with vampires and the perpetual attraction of teenage girls to mysterious, well-coiffed boys. Some of those reasons include: Meyer gives the reader someone to root for; every characer in her books wants something; terrible things happen to her protagonists; &c, &c.

Some of Vonnegut's rules are a bit vague (see #1), but I think they nonetheless provide good benchmarks for whether or not one's fiction is, at the very least, functional. What I like best about them is that they're reader-oriented, not craft-oriented, so the question "What does the reader want? What will engage him/her?" is always paramount.

So I ask you, mes auteurs: what are your favorite writing quote/unquote rules? Which do you follow and which do you break? Which authors/books have proved themselves most useful to you when writing your own fiction?

To the comments!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Fantasy Football Doesn't Count

Time for the Friday round up with Laura:

Before we do the official round up, Eric and have been having a "discussion" that has gotten "heated" and may start a "feud," that is entirely the fault of the British mail system. The Royal Mail is putting out fantasy stamps. Dumbledore, Aslan, Merlin—lots of folks. I tried to come up with a list of iconic fantasy characters from the US to start my own stamp system, but my suggestions of Spiderman and Crash Bandicoot and Darth Vader were rejected. So: thoughts? All of my ideas have been callously rejected, and shit's going to get serious soon. This is a cry for help. Please help.

So while you're thinking about that, think about this: Funny or Die has a new book imprint, but they're not publishing Bill Cosby's new book, or the new Shel Silverstein collection. Which, you know, sad. But I'm sure they'll do something good. I'm considering getting an Amazon Prime membership to get all of their new books, either with free shipping or downloaded on the Kindles Amazon might give to Prime members. I can read through all of the untrustworthy online book reviews before I read Archie babies or Goodnight Dune. Although those might be more iPad-y books. Either way, I can use my letterpress app to really fake that old timey paper book feeling, while I watch second hand bookshops go out of business.

I'm going to keep my old timey TV so I can watch this Michael Chabon magician versus Nazis HBO series. What, is that too much awesome in one sentence for you? Then you might want to cover your eyes, because it turns out Harlan Coben was in a frat with Dan Brown at Amherst. Also, there's this hugely detailed sci-fi map. Overwhelmed? Take a breather with this trailer for Water for Elephants—oh wait, Christoph Waltz, the most creepy adorable man in the world, is in this movie. You know what, maybe think about investing in a place to write that's nice and quiet and doesn't have exciting Christoph Waltz news.

So I'm out, readers. Please list great American fantasy characters I can put on stamps in the comments—this is very important for my emotional well being, and also because I need to one up Eric. Until next week!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Five Things to Know About the eRevolution

Following up on Nathan Bransford's two posts on the subject, I'd like to throw in my own $0.02 on the theory of making bajillions of dollars self/e-publishing.

Actually, since this is a Top Five List™, make that $0.10.

1. Self/e-publishing is no more a get-rich-quick scheme than traditional publishing. The only difference is that rather than ending up in a drawer or as a doorstop or in the trash bin, a sub-par manuscript can now be made available to millions of people on the Internet in short order. However! Consider this:

Traditional publishing: your book isn't very good or is unsalable. You pay no/few up-front costs, get rejected by agents, and make no money.

Self-publishing electronically: your book might not be very good or salable, but you still might make a few sales. You pay no up-front costs and possibly make a few bucks.

Something is better than nothing, but after awhile you have to ask yourself whether the opportunity cost of spending months writing a novel and then only getting $50 through Amazon is worth it.

2. Think of e-books like apps. A beautifully written app that doesn't fill a niche may sell, but probably not well. A shoddily written app that fills a niche will probably sell better, but probably not well, and the next app that does the same thing better will quickly overshadow it. A beautifully written app that fills a niche will sell well, and through the Mysteries of the Internet, some become phenomenal bestsellers that earn their creators bajillions of dollars.

Ditto e-books.

3. Think about the advance in advance. The advance you can earn through traditional publishing may or may not end up being more than you'd make electronically (odds are it'll be more), but the beauty of the advance is in the word itself: you get it before you sell a single copy. Many midlist authors use money from their advances to finance author events, tours, &c that the publisher may not cover. Since you won't have that benefit with self-publishing electronically, most of you will have to rely on cheaper (or free!) methods of selling yourselves and your work.

4. Consider getting outside help. Even assuming you're a great writer, that doesn't necessarily mean you're a great editor, marketing manager, sales(wo)man, or graphic/web designer. If you know people who are, hire them! (Or, if you're best bros with said people but can't afford to hire them, ask for favors.) This is where that advance (see above) would come in handy. Maybe offer to cut them in on your profits.

5. Learn everything you can about the tools you're using. If you're selling through Amazon, learn as much as you can about how their search systems, recommendation systems, &c &c work. Read everything you can on search engine optimization (SEO), on-line advertising, and keywords in order to make sure your work is readily available when its title or your name is entered into search engines like Google or Bing. If you don't have time to do this, maybe ask that best bro of yours to do it for you (see above). If your best bro is already pretty knowledgeable about these things, so much the better.

As I've said before, mes auteurs, self-publishing is not a ticket to easy street and most self-published novels, electronic or physical, don't sell many copies. If you write a great book and do your research, however, it's possible to do pretty well for yourself.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Panic! at the Library

As part of my ongoing coverage of the astounding (and often strange) turns the publishing industry is taking as it shifts from paper-based to electronic media, I bring you this, mes auteurs: The Consumerist's report that HarperCollins is capping e-book loans at 26 check-outs. If a library purchases a HarperCollins e-book, they can only lend it 26 times before it "expires" and the library must purchase a new license from the publisher.

This is, à mon avis, completely nuts for several reasons.

First, the idea of forced obsolescence is probably so repugnant to most librarians that, rather than buy and re-buy the same e-book over and over, they're probably just not going to purchase HarperCollins e-books.

The publisher seems to be betting on librarians' collective fear that if they don't stock their e-books, patrons will simply buy e-books on-line and the libraries won't be able to justify their continued existence. If there's a way to breed ill will among your customers (that is, the librarians actually purchasing books for their libraries), this is it.

Second, the number 26 seems completely arbitrary to me. I'm not privy to any of the logistical tinkering or number-crunching the folks at HarperCollins did in order to arrive at this figure, but it seems to me (and you can see from the video in the article) that physical books last much longer than 26 check-outs (and I can tell you from experience that they consistently survive many more).

It's possible that this is an average number that takes into account all the books that go on shelves and are never or rarely checked out, left to rot over a fifty-year period with only a couple of loans. If that's the case, though, libraries would chuck the book when it became unusable and would probably not buy a new one, since no one wanted the original to begin with.

If a publisher is going to enforce a loan cap, I think it 1.) needs to be much higher than 26 (based entirely on my uninformed opinion), and 2.) should vary depending on the work in question. Harry Potter and the Seven Figure Advance is going to be borrowed a lot more often than Actuarial Mathematics for Dummies, and the loan cap should reflect this.

Finally, the whole reason the loan cap exists is as an analogue to the wear and tear suffered by physical books that eventually need replacing. I think one of the most destructive tendencies inherent to the publishing industry is not its resistance to electronic media, but its slavish insistence on making them exactly like physical media.

Instead of panicking over a perceived loss in revenues caused by books that no longer need to be replaced, publishers should be touting the non-physical nature of e-books as a tremendous boon: "You'll never need to replace this e-book! That means that rather than buy a new copy of the same book, you can spend the money you'll save on more of our e-books."

E-books don't take up physical shelf space, so the limiting factor that once forced a librarian to choose between replacing a popular title that's worn out and purchasing a different title—that is, space—no longer exists. More titles sold is good for everyone.

My rant is over for today, meine Autoren, but what do you think? Should publishers be able to cap library loans, and if so, is 26 a reasonable number?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Late Great Round Up

Friday Saturday round up time, with Laura:

Happy late round up, friends and foes. I'd promise it's going to be a good one, but you never know. You just don't. What I do know is that there's an on sale date for the next George R.R. Martin book. Does that actually mean anything? No one knows! If you need to practice reading huge amounts of text, maybe you should do a Bible readathon, even if all of the booty has been removed. If you're not interested, or you're like 30% of teens (and so only read one to two books a year), you might want to start with something less taxing, like selected Charlie Sheen poetry. It exists, I swear.

Are your books sick? Maybe they need to see a book surgeon. (And if anyone is in the market for a present for me, I'd take one of those surgered books.) Once the books feel better they can go visit matchstick Minas Tirith. While the paper books are gone, you can get a free Kindle with a new bank account, which I am actively considering. You could download some books by the self-pubbed Amazon best seller, or you can drop books altogether in favor of the Twilight convention, but only if you already have a ticket. Because it is sold. Out.

Are you excited for Bristol Palin's memoir? If so, you could probably use one of these non-judgmental reading dogs, because I am judging you so hard right now. While you're reading that I'll be participating in the presidential biography project, reading a biography of every US president. In order. Hello, Millard Filmore, you devil you.

That's it for me, tigers. See you next week!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Agency Six

In case you haven't heard, mes auteurs, the last Big Six holdout on the agency model—Random House—has capitulated. Effective this month, their e-books are now being sold under the new pricing system.

What does this mean for you, gentle readers?

As Consumers

It means two major things: one, you'll likely be able to purchase Random House's titles directly from the iBookstore, and not exclusively through a third-party app like the one Amazon has for the Kindle; and two, you may be paying slightly more for your e-books.

As you may recall from my earlier post on the subject, the agency model treats the retailer as a middleman making a commission, not as a vendor setting his or her own price after purchasing goods wholesale. This means that rather than buying an e-book from the publisher at a predetermined discount and selling it to you at however low a price they want, retailers must now sell Random House's e-books at the publisher's price, keeping a 30% cut for themselves and sending the remainder to the publisher.

Many have speculated that this move is likely fueled by Apple's unveiling of the long-awaited iPad 2 (you can follow the event live here). If this is the case (and I don't know if it is, since the involved parties aren't commenting to the media), it would seem to betoken a certain amount of faith in Apple's business model.

As Authors

Again, this is pure speculation, but I imagine e-book royalties may be affected by this move. And not just for those of you with Random House book deals: now that the world's largest trade book publisher has signed off on the agency model, I imagine a slew of smaller publishers will follow suit. If any of you, gentle readers, know more about this than I do, please feel free to educate me/your fellow readers in the comments.

I'm also curious to see how this vote of confidence in the Apple program influences iBookstore sales. Should Apple eventually sport e-sales figures on par with those of Amazon, I think the increased competition could speed up the shift toward market parity (that is, equal dollar sales of physical and electronic books). My current guess is that 2011 will see e-books top 10% of the overall market, and that 50% of the market will comprise electronic books by the middle of 2014.

Finally, I imagine Amazon is unhappy about this, since it seriously undercuts their ability to set prices in the industry. However, they, too have not officially commented (as far as I know).

What do you think, mes auteurs? And more importantly—are you getting a second generation iPad?