Weekly Update – May 28, 2019

Another slow week, but my wife is off to NYC to spend some time with her sister, so I have the whole weekend ahead of me to get some good work in on S&L book four.

On a quick promotional note, if you’ve been holding off on grabbing a copy of Well-Behaved Women – Awakening for your Kindle, hold off for a little while longer, because it’s going on sale for just 99 cents starting June 10 and running through June 16.

WRITING PROJECTS

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Sworded Affairs: First draft in progress.

Well-Behaved Women – Endtimes: Fifth draft is finished and with my editor!

Action Figures – Issue Nine: Hell Hath No Fury: First draft in progress.

Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins (audiobook): Review completed, final editing in progress.

APPEARANCES & EVENTS

  • The Connecticut Renaissance Faire – Saturday, October 5, Lebanon County Fairgrounds, Lebanon, CT: I’ll be back again to sell and sign books as part of CTRF’s Local Authors Series!

The New England Speculative Writers group has a new preview book for newsletter subscribers. Pick it up and read the opening chapters to Well-Behaved Women – Awakening and other stories.

If you’d like to make sure you don’t miss any news from me, remember that I have a weekly newsletter that features some of the stuff you see posted here plus new, newsletter-exclusive material. Click this link to sign up.

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Publishing, Self-Publishing, and Vanity Presses

Yesterday, a member of one of the Facebook writer groups I belong to asked for some clarification on the matter of vanity presses. I wound up having a bit of back-and-forth with a different member over what exactly constituted a vanity press, so I thought I’d write up a quick post on that very topic for the benefit of authors out there who are ready to release their book, but haven’t figured out what the best approach might be.

You’ve got three basic options:

TRADITIONAL PUBLISHING

This refers to any business — be it one of the “Big Five” publishers (Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House, and Simon & Schuster) or a small press — that contracts with a writer to produce novels or books, which said business then prepares (edits, formats, prints, etc.) at its own expense for distribution and sale. The publisher takes a cut of the sales revenue and passes along the rest (royalties) to the author. Publishers typically claim certain rights to the work.

One of the things that distinguishes a publisher from a vanity press is whether they require the author to pay money into the process. A legitimate publisher covers all costs of production and does not require the author to pay for anything! The publisher assumes all financial risk, and it recovers its investment through sales, which it shares with the creator of the content. Money flows toward the writer, in the words of author James D. MacDonald.

The individual mentioned above argued that even big publishers require authors to chip in for promotions. That is at best a half truth.

It’s accurate to say publishers do not always invest money in actively promoting authors unless they feel the return on their investment is sound, either because it’s an established creator or that rare hot new author with a potential blockbuster bestseller, but they don’t require authors to pick up the slack.

However, authors are expected to do a lot of legwork themselves via a website and social media, and the publisher isn’t necessarily going to cover any associated costs (they almost certainly won’t), but again, there is no financial obligation on the author’s part toward the publisher.

In summary: with traditional publishing through a reputable publisher, the author pays nothing up front, is not responsible for an aspect of book preparation, and receives royalties through sales, but doesn’t get all the money and must typically relinquish certain rights to their own work.

SELF-PUBLISHING

With self-publishing, everything is ultimately on you — all the responsibilities and all the costs. Sure, you might farm out things like editing and cover art (and you bloody well should be paying professionals to handle those duties) but you’re still the one responsible for paying them, and you are the final arbiter of the quality of their work. You also get to keep every penny from the sales.

Now, there are operations out there that will, for a fee, provide you with everything you need to turn your finished manuscript into a ready-to-sell book — an editor, a cover artist, printing, distribution, etc. These you would call self-publishing platforms or self-publishing services. Yes, they charge you for their work, but they claim no rights to your book, make no money off of your sales (unless you use them for distribution), and are completely up-front about the fact they are not publishers.

Which brings us to…

VANITY PRESSES

A lot of people argue about what constitutes a vanity press — many of those arguments come from people who run such operations, by the way — but this is my definition: a vanity press is an operation that behaves like a self-publishing service but presents itself as a publisher.

Let me break that down a bit. A vanity press offers all the services of a self-publishing platform as described above and charges the author a fee for them, and collects a percentage of any sales like a publisher — or, to be fair, a self-publishing platform that offers authors a distribution service.

One of the things that distinguishes a vanity press from a self-publishing platform is that a vanity press will claim rights to the author’s work, like a publisher would. In other words, you’re paying a company to lay legal claim to your creation — a legal claim that could be used to deny you royalties (e.g., foreign sales rights) or control over your own creation.

Imagine wanting to write a sequel to your novel, only to be told you can’t because the characters belong to the alleged publisher, or getting an offer to take the book to a major publisher, only to be denied because you’re locked in an exclusive contract with no escape clause. Imagine the vanity press going out of business and taking the rights with them. These things have happened.

Vanity presses often also require authors to buy a certain number of their own books for direct sales or publicity purposes. They key word here is require. I self-publish through Amazon (the service formerly known as CreateSpace), and if I want books to sell at shows or give away, I have to buy them, but I am not contractually obligated to buy a certain quantity of books as a condition of working with the company.

As mentioned previously, a self-publishing platform will clearly identify itself as such. Vanity presses will refer to themselves as publishers, or give the distinct impression of such: “Would you like to become a published author? We can make your dream happen!”

If you’re ever in doubt about the legitimacy of a publisher or self-publishing platform, your best places to go are Writer Beware and the Absolute Write Water Cooler message boards.

Weekly Update – May 21, 2019

Who wants a sneak-peek at the back cover for Well-Behaved Women – Endtimes?

Behold Renee Sutherland as Anne Bonny! And don’t worry about the blurry parts. That’s the back cover blurb, which is full of spoilers for anyone who hasn’t read the first two books.

Endtimes is in its penultimate revision process now and is on-track for a late summer/early fall release!

WRITING PROJECTS

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Sworded Affairs: First draft in progress.

Well-Behaved Women – Endtimes: Fifth draft in progress.

Action Figures – Issue Nine: Hell Hath No Fury: First draft in progress.

Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins (audiobook): Review completed, final editing in progress.

APPEARANCES & EVENTS

  • The Connecticut Renaissance Faire – Saturday, October 5, Lebanon County Fairgrounds, Lebanon, CT: I’ll be back again to sell and sign books as part of CTRF’s Local Authors Series!

The New England Speculative Writers group has a new preview book for newsletter subscribers. Pick it up and read the opening chapters to Well-Behaved Women – Awakening and other stories.

If you’d like to make sure you don’t miss any news from me, remember that I have a weekly newsletter that features some of the stuff you see posted here plus new, newsletter-exclusive material. Click this link to sign up.

Weekly Update – May 14, 2019

So, I have a troll.

Yes, it’s true, I have officially picked up a dedicated hater. Last year, some guy set up an Amazon reviewer page for the express purpose of leaving a bad review on Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins. It was my first truly bad review since I released the book in 2013, but it was impossible to get upset about it because they guy trotted out several staple barbs employed by Amazon trolls, including that old classic, “All these good reviews must have been left by the author’s friends.”

My troll then fell silent until recently, when he resurfaced to leave negative reviews on the first two Well-Behaved Women, and it was more of the same cut-and-paste cheap digs. Again, I couldn’t get upset — not just because of the laughable “reviews” themselves. This guy bought one of my books, hated it so much he felt it necessary to spend the time to put his hatred down in writing, and then a year later bought two more in order to do the exact same thing.

If I’m curious about anything, it’s what I did to so upset this individual that I’m now living in his head rent-free (so to speak; technically, he’s paying me to be there). I mean, something about my writing had to be so egregious that he has committed money, time, and emotional energy to trying to get under my skin.

Or — a more likely personal theory — he sees someone succeeding as an indie author and it’s pissing him off that it’s not him. That kind of thing happens to authors, indie or otherwise, quite a bit. Do the job long enough and eventually you’ll pick up reviewers who have nothing constructive to say, they just need to lash out and tear someone else down. They can’t achieve anything themselves, so they set out to prevent others from achieving — almost always behind a veil of anonymity, of course.

Well, have at, Amazon review troll. You keep trying to make me feel bad and I’ll laugh all the way to the bank with your money.

WRITING PROJECTS

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Sworded Affairs: First draft in progress.

Well-Behaved Women – Endtimes: Fifth draft in progress.

Action Figures – Issue Nine: Hell Hath No Fury: First draft in progress.

Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins (audiobook): Review completed, final editing in progress.

APPEARANCES & EVENTS

  • The Connecticut Renaissance Faire – Saturday, October 5, Lebanon County Fairgrounds, Lebanon, CT: I’ll be back again to sell and sign books as part of CTRF’s Local Authors Series!

The New England Speculative Writers group has a new preview book for newsletter subscribers. Pick it up and read the opening chapters to Well-Behaved Women – Awakening and other stories.

If you’d like to make sure you don’t miss any news from me, remember that I have a weekly newsletter that features some of the stuff you see posted here plus new, newsletter-exclusive material. Click this link to sign up.

Weekly Update – May 7, 2019

Slow week this week. I have a possible late-year event to add to my calendar, but it’s going to depend on the finances of it. I’d love for it to work out, and hopefully I’ll have something solid to report soon.

WRITING PROJECTS

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Sworded Affairs: Book four is getting temporarily pushed aside again. Sorry, but it’s for a good reason…

Well-Behaved Women – Endtimes: I got some notes back from my editor, Julie, and I’m working up a new draft.

Action Figures – Issue Nine: Hell Hath No Fury: First draft in progress.

Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins (audiobook): Review completed, final editing in progress.

APPEARANCES & EVENTS

  • The Connecticut Renaissance Faire – Saturday, October 5, Lebanon County Fairgrounds, Lebanon, CT: I’ll be back again to sell and sign books as part of CTRF’s Local Authors Series!

The New England Speculative Writers group has a new preview book for newsletter subscribers. Pick it up and read the opening chapters to Well-Behaved Women – Awakening and other stories.

If you’d like to make sure you don’t miss any news from me, remember that I have a weekly newsletter that features some of the stuff you see posted here plus new, newsletter-exclusive material. Click this link to sign up.

Weekly Update – April 30, 2019

Cover model: Kateri Chambers. Photography: Lauren Dubois. Graphic design and logo: Patricia Lupien.

Well-Behaved Women: Transition is here! Book two in the Well-Behaved Women trilogy is available now on Amazon in print and for the Kindle!

WRITING PROJECTS

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Book four finally has a subtitle: Sworded Affairs. My wife is off on a business trip this week, so I am spending the day working on book four while The Lord of the Rings trilogy (extended edition) — plus the Rankin-Bass version of The Hobbit — runs in the background for inspiration.

Well-Behaved Women – Endtimes: Book three is getting its final beta-read, and will be heading into final editing soon.

Action Figures – Issue Nine: Hell Hath No Fury: First draft in progress.

Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins (audiobook): Review completed, final editing in progress.

APPEARANCES & EVENTS

  • The Connecticut Renaissance Faire – Saturday, October 5, Lebanon County Fairgrounds, Lebanon, CT: I’ll be back again to sell and sign books as part of CTRF’s Local Authors Series!

The New England Speculative Writers group has a new preview book for newsletter subscribers. Pick it up and read the opening chapters to Well-Behaved Women – Awakening and other stories.

If you’d like to make sure you don’t miss any news from me, remember that I have a weekly newsletter that features some of the stuff you see posted here plus new, newsletter-exclusive material. Click this link to sign up.

Weekly Update – April 23, 2019

Cover model: Kateri Chambers. Photography: Lauren Dubois. Graphic design and logo: Patricia Lupien.

This has turned into a very busy month! First I released Action Figures – Issue Eight: Crawling From The Wreckage, and now I’m a week away from dropping Well-Behaved Women: Transition! You can go pre-order the Kindle edition right now!

Important note here: the e-book version of book two is going to be available exclusively on Amazon, and will be available through Kindle Unlimited. You’ll be able to grab print editions through other retailers and, eventually, directly through me, but the e-book edition is not going to be available through Barnes & Noble, Kobo, or this website.

WRITING PROJECTS

Well-Behaved Women: Book three is getting its final beta-read, and will be heading into final editing soon.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – book four: Got a little work in last week. Slow going, but it’s moving forward.

Action Figures – Issue Nine: Hell Hath No Fury: First draft in progress.

Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins (audiobook): Review completed, final editing in progress.

APPEARANCES & EVENTS

  • The Connecticut Renaissance Faire – Saturday, October 5, Lebanon County Fairgrounds, Lebanon, CT: I’ll be back again to sell and sign books as part of CTRF’s Local Authors Series!

The New England Speculative Writers group has a new preview book for newsletter subscribers. Pick it up and read the opening chapters to Well-Behaved Women – Awakening and other stories.

If you’d like to make sure you don’t miss any news from me, remember that I have a weekly newsletter that features some of the stuff you see posted here plus new, newsletter-exclusive material. Click this link to sign up.