david

david

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Home page: http://www.davidniallwilson.com

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The Blog Tour Day Four – Guest Post – Genres & Why I Hate Them

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cockerToday, I am being hosted on Blog Tour Day Four – at The Author’s Cafe.  I particularly enjoyed writing this guest post because it’s something I probably would have written here anyway.  Today’s post is about not allowing agents, editors, publishers, or – really – anyone tell you what you should write, or what you can’t.  It’s one of the biggest shames of the publishing industry, in my mind, that authors have become convinced they have to emulate the “big thing” to get ahead, that they have to write just one thing so as not to confuse fans, and that they have to do what their agent tells them.  Newsflash.  The agent works for the writer, and if that’s not true, it’s not really agenting – if your agent isn’t enthusiastic about what YOU DO and how you do it, you have the wrong agent.  Anyway, here’s a short excerpt from today’s guest post:

Genres and Why I Hate Them
By David Niall Wilson

All through my career I’ve been plagued by a couple of misconceptions and a string of bad advisors. The misconceptions are:

A: You should write what’s hot.

B: You should choose a genre and stick with it so fans don’t get confused.

I won’t get into the long string of bad advisors, except to say that at least two of my agents turned out to be crooks (one went to jail for it), one told me things were being submitted and I later found out – not so much. Still another advised me to pick a bestselling book and try to do something “like that” – which led to a string of outlines, with three chapters each, that said agent could not “get behind.” I had her get behind me, and it worked out better. I sold all of those books….”  ==> READ THE REST OF THE POST AT THE AUTHOR’S CAFE.

THE TOUR SO FAR:

Listen to internet radio with BuyTheBookTours on BlogTalkRadio

READ THE Guest Post about History in fiction at  MELISSA’S BLOG!

Listen to internet radio with BuyTheBookTours on BlogTalkRadio

Interview with me at the Blog of author Hywela Lin

Interview with Donovan DeChance at Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews

Interview with Edgar Allan Poe at MJ Schiller’s Blog (join the discussion)

Get the details of the book tour – and the giveaways – at Buy the Book Tours…

BUY NEVERMORE!  AT AMAZON.COM  or BARNES & NOBLE or CROSSROAD PRESS

DOWNLOAD THE AUDIOBOOK FROM AUDIBLE.COM – NARRATED BY GIGI SHANE!

The Blog Tour Day Four – An Interview & a Post About History

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pookdaddy

 

Today – day four of the blog tour – there are two sites to visit.  That’s just how it works sometimes, I supposed.  To keep it “shaken up” however, one is a guest post about how I work with history in my fiction – the other is an interview with me over at HSIB where I am the featured author / book of the day.

I hope you are all following these links…reading what I wrote.  I put a lot of time into this.  If you don’t believe that coming up with something interesting 27 times in a row without a break is hard, give it a try …

Sales are slightly up on Nevermore – A Novel of Love, Loss & Edgar Allan Poe – but I hope you’ll give it a try.  If you are reading this, you (at least in theory) are interested in my work.  If reviews and reactions are to be believed, this is one of the best things I’ve ever done.  If you are a long time fan, you’ll find some familiar faces in the pages of the book, and you’ll want to know what happened before I finish Book V of the The DeChance Chronicles.

Anyway… today’s fare:

Today’s Guest Post is at Romance Author Melissa Keir’s Site – Sexy Between the Covers – titled “History is in the Point of View.”

“History is in the Point of View

One of my favorite things to do as an author is to take a story, legend, bit of history, or something else very familiar to people, and look for the holes in it.  Most history is reported by survivors, for instance, and nearly all of what we think we know of the past is skewed, just like the evening news, in one direction or another.  In broad strokes, we can see the outcomes of things that have happened, but the reality of how they happened, well, that’s always up for debate.” ==> READ THE ENTIRE POST AT MELISSA’S BLOG!

Today’s interview is the HBS Author’s Spotlight:

Congratulations on your new novel: Nevermore. What do you have on the drawing board next? Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?

I never have just one thing in progress these days. I am working on Book V of the DeChance Chronicles, which I can only say continues on both from Book IV, Kali’s Tale, but also from Nevermore, a Novel of Love, Loss & Edgar Allan Poe. Nevermore really should be marked book 4.5 – even though Donovan DeChance only appears very shortly, because it is the lead-in to all that happens in book V – working title – A Midnight Dreary. Originally, the story that is Nevermore was intended as a flashback. It just grew beyond expectations.

At the same time, I am working on a Young Adult novel titled HOODS that I expect to become a series as well. It involves a group of teenagers in an inner city environment who have unique abilities. Sort of like “Alphas” or “Heroes” but gritty.

Along with this, I’m working on a long-term project titled Tattered Remnants that is a serial killer novel, of sorts…nothing I write is easily classified, but I think I like it that way. It helps me (over time) reach a wider readership, and keeps me from getting pigeonholed as this or that sort of author. I’m a storyteller. I have a lot of stories to tell, and not all of them are the same kind…

You have a good following on twitter. Since you started before the social media buzz, what impact has social media relationships had on your current success? How much has it changed your book launch process?

I find that Social Media is a very frustrating marketing environment…” ==> READ THE INTERVIEW AT THE HBS SITE

THE TOUR SO FAR:

Listen to internet radio with BuyTheBookTours on BlogTalkRadio

Interview with me at the Blog of author Hywela Lin

Interview with Donovan DeChance at Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews

Interview with Edgar Allan Poe at MJ Schiller’s Blog (join the discussion)

Get the details of the book tour – and the giveaways – at Buy the Book Tours…

BUY NEVERMORE!  AT AMAZON.COM  or BARNES & NOBLE or CROSSROAD PRESS

DOWNLOAD THE AUDIOBOOK FROM AUDIBLE.COM – NARRATED BY GIGI SHANE!

Blog Tour Three – First Review and "Where Did Nevermore Come From?"

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ratgoggehToday is the third day of my Nevermore blog tour.  Not every day, but most of the days of this tour, there will be a stop at a different blog – some are reviewers, some are authors, others just like books.  At each stop you can enter to win free copies of the book.  At each stop you have the opportunity to read Chapter One of the novel.  Then, the unique part – each stop has either an interview with me (all different) an interview of one of my characters, or a guest post.  Today, the stop is at Nancy Jardine’s Blog – the “Welcome Wednesday” post of the week.  Since it’s a guest post, and I was given no direction, I started off with the beginning…  Authors don’t really like the question “Where do you get your ideas?” very much.  I have a lot of answers for it, but it’s mostly irritating, because it’s not a question that you can simply answer.  What I did in this guest post is to reverse engineer the question – where did I get the idea?

As is so often the case, it’s a dual answer – history, and one of my other stories combined.  I’m not going to spoil the post by going on about it too much here..  If you would like to know more about how the novel was conceived, how I came up with the character Lenore, and to read a very nice review of my book, head on over to NANCY JARDINE’S BLOG and check it out!

From the review (I love this):   “The language flows beautifully, harking back to olden times. It is a dark tale which left me a bit staggered at the end- but I don’t do spoilers- read this really good tale for yourself!”

ALSO today, I was interviewed for Blog Talk Radio for the tour:

Listen to internet radio with BuyTheBookTours on BlogTalkRadio

THE TOUR SO FAR!

Interview with me at the Blog of author Hywela Lin

Interview with Donovan DeChance at Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews

Interview with Edgar Allan Poe at MJ Schiller’s Blog (join the discussion)

Get the details of the book tour – and the giveaways – at Buy the Book Tours…

BUY NEVERMORE!  AT AMAZON.COM  or BARNES & NOBLE or CROSSROAD PRESS

DOWNLOAD THE AUDIOBOOK FROM AUDIBLE.COM – NARRATED BY GIGI SHANE!

Blog Tour Day #2 – Interview in Which I Speak of the Amontillado & More

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amantillado

So, it’s day two of the big blog tour has arrived, and I have been interviewed by Hywela-Lin for her blog.  This was a fun interview, not necessarily the same old questions, and I went out of my way not to provide the same old answers, as well.  One of the tricks of this blog tour thing is – in my opinion – mixing it up.  If you have nothing new to say, and twelve blogs interview you, asking the same old questions and getting the same old answers in slightly different hats, well, I think you can see how boring that would be.  I am not famous.  Instead, I strive for interesting.  I believe (probably foolishly, but there you go) that if I make a real effort, I can show people who I am, and why I write what I write, and why it would be worth their time to check it out.  One thing you learn in life is that even those who are already mildly interested in you have their reasons.  Sadly, for me, only a small portion of those interested enough in me to know who I am are also interested enough to read my books.

I wish I had a small truckload of copies of Nevermore … I would ride to the next two fan conventions I could reach and just hand out copies.  I wonder how many I’d have to hand out before a sufficient number actually read them, and then talked about them, and it became a “thing?”   We’ll never know, sadly – books are expensive.  I DID lower the eBook price on Nevermore – a Novel of Love, Loss & Edgar Allan Poe to only $2.99 for the duration of this blog tour.  $2.99 is still in the impulse buy range, right?  I want to give you that impulse, so, without further ado…

Here is a very short bit from the interview with me over at Hywela Lin’s blog… and a link to the rest.  Below that are links to yesterdays posts, where I conducted interviews with my own characters, Donovan DeChance, and Edgar Allan Poe…

HL: Tell us a little more about yourself , with three things not many people know about you.
DNW:  I’ve been writing seriously since the mid 1980s.  I published my own magazine in the late 1980s, early 1990s calledThe Tome.  I served for twenty years in the United States Navy, where a good number of my stories and novels were written.  I have 31 books out now, including novels, licensed novels, short story collections and one book titled “American Pies” that is about – well – baking pies.  It’s also something of a memoir.  Three things:

1)      I occasionally tear up during emotional movie and television scenes, and even when reading books, if the story is that good.

2)      I’m a member of a motorcycle “club” – Tiburon MC – formed in Rota Spain and could write horror stories about the initiation.

3)      I have visited a Bodega in southern Spain and tasted Amontillado – I don’t care what Poe says, it is one of the nastiest varietals of sherry available.

 

READ THE ENTIRE INTERVIEW AT HYWELA LYn’s Blog – along with an excerpt from Nevermore.  Enter to win copies of the book – or just buy it already!

Interview with Donovan DeChance at Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews

Interview with Edgar Allan Poe at MJ Schiller’s Blog (join the discussion)

Get the details of the book tour – and the giveaways – at Buy the Book Tours…

BUY NEVERMORE!  AT AMAZON.COM  or BARNES & NOBLE or CROSSROAD PRESS

DOWNLOAD THE AUDIOBOOK FROM AUDIBLE.COM – NARRATED BY GIGI SHANE!

Day One of the Big Blog Tour – Two Character Interviews

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First, let me start by posting a link to the main site for the blog tour.  At this site you’ll find a schedule of all the blog stops, all the ways you can enter to win copies of the Hardcover, trade paperback, audio and eBook editions of Nevermore – A Novel of Love, Loss & Edgar Allan Poe. The book is discounted for the length of the tour from $4.99 to $2.99 – nearly half off!  You can find tour info here: The Buy The Bool Blog Tour for Nevermore!

The First two stops on the blog tour required me to do something I have never attempted before.  They are “character interviews,” where I sit down in a virtual room and chat with the characters from my own worlds and novels …quite the change from other types of guest posts I’ve written in the past.  Sort of half fiction, half real – and as it turns out, not a bad exercise in getting into the head of your own character.  As it turns out, I actually had questions, and probably have a lot more – I limited myself this time out to things that relate one way or another to Nevermore

At LAURIE’S THOUGHTS AND REVIEWS – there is an interview posted today with the protagonist of my series, The DeChance Chronicles… It’s an interesting way, I think, of showing how the series ties in with Nevermore, and hopefully convincing readers of Nevermore that they might want the entire story…and vice versa.  Assuming Donovan has fans, I want them to know it is important for them to read Nevermore.

DNW:  Today, I am interviewing Donovan DeChance, book collector, mage, sometimes private investigator – and some say – hero.    The book Nevermore, a Novel of Love, Loss & Edgar Allan Poe would never have happened if not for Donovan’s chance visit with Poe so long ago, so I thought it would be appropriate to see what he has to say on the subject.  I’ve spent a lot of hours chronicling your adventures, Donovan, but I must say – despite all of that, I still have a lot of questions.

 DONOVAN:  It would be my pleasure to answer, as best I can.  You might find it interesting to note that, despite what most consider a very long and colorful life, this marks the first time I’ve been interviewed.  As you know, there’s a certain air of secrecy to my work.
DNW:  That would be something of an understatement.  Anyway, as I said, I have a lot of questions, but for the sake of this interview, let’s concentrate on your meeting with Edgar Allan Poe, and your adventures in The Great Dismal Swamp.  Your home is in California, but you seem to have spent an inordinate amount of time in my neck of the woods.
DONOVAN:  It’s true, the Carolinas have drawn me back time and again, but I believe you’ll find, as we continue to document some of my more important – adventures – that it only seems as if I’ve spent a lot of time in the Dismal Swamp.  Time is relative, after all, and I’ve enjoyed more of it than most.
Sometimes I think that I should put a tighter rein on my tongue.  It was only the passing comment about having met Poe in your book Kali’s Tale that led to any knowledge of the events in this new book – Nevermore.  Not all old tales should be told. Privacy has come to mean more to me as the years pass, and now that the tale of Edgar and Lenore has been made public, I fear too many rabbits are springing from too many baskets… ==> READ THE ENTIRE INTERVIEW at Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews – leave comments – interact – BUY THE BOOK.
Also live today, at the virtual home and blog of author M. J. Schiller, there is a second interview.  This was even more challenging, because it’s an interview with the protagonist of Nevermore, where I not only have to portray Edgar with some historical accuracy, but as the Edgar from my novel (and possibly upcoming novels) as well.  Another interesting talk…
It is my distinct privilege today to interview one of my personal idols, a man formative to my writing.  I have been asked to present certain questions, and I have – to the best of my ability – done so.  Without further ado, I present poet, author, and adventurer Edgar Allan Poe. Mr. Poe could you tell me a little bit about what it is that you do?  What do you think your particular strengths, or weaknesses might be?
The short answer is that I am a storyteller.  I have been called an author, and a poet, a tragic romantic, and a wordy melodramatic hack, but in the end, it all comes down to the stories, doesn’t it?  They come to me – often in dreams – and once they have lodged firmly in my mind, there is nothing I can do to rid myself of them but to put quill to paper and give them a proper voice.
As for strengths and weaknesses, I have a tendency toward melancholy.  I love far too deeply and though I have traveled and searched, trying my hand at a number of solutions, I have never been able to shake off the cloud of depression that seems to find me its proper home. This translates to my writing in the form of very detailed descriptions in which I try to capture every sensation in every scene.  I’m told this can be tedious, but for me it is a therapeutic process.  The more I managed to get onto the page, the less remains with me.
Those that I love? They die.  If I have strength, it is in daring to go on, writing, and living.  I believe if it were not for my constant companion, Grimm, who readers will meet in your novel, I’d want to be gone from this plane of existence altogether.  Pardon me for such gravity, but I have not lived an easy life… ==>READ THE ENTIRE INTERVIEW WITH EDGAR at the Blog of Author M. J. Schiller!
You can get Nevermore now at the Crossroad Press Store  / Amazon.com / or Barnes & Noble

 

In Case You Wondered Why I Was So Quiet

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In my continuing quest to try every means possible to find and reach new readers, I will be starting an extensive Blog Tour on July 22.  It will run on through September 2nd, and you can see the schedule below.  I have been busy answering questions, writing guest posts, and writing interviews with my own characters.  I now have invested almost as many words in this promotion as I have in the book (well, that’s a slight exaggeration, but only slight).

During the course of the tour, the price of the eBook editions of Nevermore will be dropped from $4.99 to $2.99 on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.  You will have chances along the way to win copies of the print editions, the unabridged audiobook (narrated by Gigi Shane) – and the eBooks.  You will learn about why I wrote this book, how it was researched, what influences me – now, then, tomorrow – music I listen to, books I read – more, in other words, than anyone should have to know JUST TO BUY THIS BOOK.  If you have already read and enjoyed this, PLEASE take the time to drop by Amazon & / or Barnes & Noble and leave me a review.  I’ll be saying more about this as the day approaches.  I’ll be interacting with any comments at all of the below sites on the appropriate dates (and beyond).

Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway below for your chance to win a copy of Nevermore – A Novel of Love, Loss & Edgar Allan Poe and a $15 Amazon Gift Card!

July 22, 2013
Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews {Character Interview with Giveaway}
M.J. Schiller, Author {Character Interview with Giveaway (Paperback)}

July 23, 2013
Hywela Lyn – Romance That’s ‘Out Of This World’ {Author Interview with Giveaway}

July 24, 2013
Nancy’s Novels – Welcome to she said, he said {Guest Post / Review with Giveaway}

July 25, 2013
Melissa Keir- Sexy Between the Covers {Guest Post with Giveaway}
HBS Author’s Spotlight {Author Interview}

July 26, 2013
Authors’ Cafe {Guest Post with BTB Giveaway}

July 27, 2013
Open Book Society {Guest Post with Giveaway (Paperback)}

July 29, 2013
Jenna’s Journal {Guest Post with Giveaway}

July 30, 2013
Slave’s Erotic Reviews {Guest Post / Review}

August 1, 2013
Janna Shay’s Fair Play {Guest Post with Giveaway}

August 2, 2013
Just One More Chapter {Author Interview with Giveaway (Paperback)}

August 5, 2013
The Realm of Fantasy and Fiction {Guest Post / Review with BTB Giveaway}

August 6, 2013
Workaday Reads {Guest Post with Giveaway (Paperback)}

August 7, 2013
Christine’s Words {Guest Post with Giveaway}

August 8, 2013
FLY HIGH {Guest Post}

August 12, 2013
What Readers Want {Guest Post with BTB Giveaway}

August 14, 2013
Fierce Dolan – Words Without Limits {Guest Post with Giveaway}

August 17, 2013
Brooke Blogs {Guest Post / Review with Giveaway}

August 19, 2013
Paranormal Realms {Author Interview with BTB Giveaway}

August 22, 2013
Paranormal Book Club {Guest Post with Giveaway (Paperback)}

August 26, 2013
Rinn Reads {Guest Post with Giveaway}

August 27, 2013
Overflowing Bookshelves {Character Interview / Review}

August 30, 2013
Paranormal Dimensions {Guest Post with BTB Giveaway}

August 31, 2013
Deal Sharing Aunt {Author Interview with Giveaway (Paperback)}

September 2, 2013
A Chick Who Reads {Guest Post / Review with Giveaway}
Sun Mountain Reviews {Guest Post with Giveaway}

This is NOT a Review of Ocean at the End of the Lane

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51aJWsQK3fL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_[1]I spend far too much time on trivialities in this blog, ignoring what it should truly be about. Words. Stories, creation and art – the ups and downs of the particular life behind my own stories. Some things matter more than others, and today, I have decided, is a very good day.

First, unrelated to any of the other topics involved, I went running for the first time in almost a year. I made it a mile and a half in the brand new Vivobarefoot Running shoes (more on those in another post). I came home, got the leash, and took Gizmo for a long cool walk, came home once again, fed the birds and closed their door so the rest of the family could continue sleeping…

Then, as I shook loose the final cobwebs, I opened up my Kindle Fire, turned on the Wi-Fi and began the download of the audiobook for Neil Gaiman’s newest – The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I knew nothing about this story. Well, that isn’t exactly true. I knew one thing. There are things you look forward to. There are movies coming out – concerts to see – television premiere’s – vacations. All of these things you hold inside and when things get rough, you turn to them and wonder about them a little, and forget the world.

For many years now, one of the things that has done this for me is the work of Neil Gaiman. It’s infectious, of course, and has spread somewhat to the rest of the family. I pre-ordered the book because I think Trish might want to read it, and that Katie most certainly will. (She loved Coraline and has The Graveyard Book and Fortunately, the Milk waiting on her Kindle). While I will sit and agonize over buying new books and paying bigger prices, I have cast this aside as unimportant in a very few cases, and this case – this new story waiting – has been a top-of-that-list case for some time now. I pre-ordered the audiobook the minute it came out, and purposefully timed the last book I listened to to end yesterday, so I’d be ready.

51HK7N5VRGL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-64,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_[1]So, I ran a mile and a half. I opened up my computer browser and went to check on my own story (written with the very talented author Steven Savile who – as it turns out – is also my very good friend) – Hallowed Ground, which has been enjoying a two day free promotion and has given away a (to me) staggering 18,200 copies or so. Currently, our little tale is #6 of all the free books available for the Kindle. If the gurus are right, well, this will continue on into sales when the promotion ends. If not – just maybe – some of those 18,000 people are settling into their day – perhaps with the Whispersync for Voice audio that is only $1.99 with the free book – but more likely with a Kindle – and dropping through time to the city of Rookwood, where magic, and crow-men, and even Lilith herself awaits them. That is what I hope, because here’s the thing.

I do not want to write like Neil Gaiman, though I count him among the three or four working authors I most admire. I do not want to write like Neil – but I want to “be” like Neil. I want to be seen for what my heart tells me I am – a teller of stories. Some of them are good, and others, probably not so much, but they are mine. I want to write like me, and be like Neil Gaiman, and -right this very moment – I want to be back on the bench, by the pond, where I left the protagonist of his new book staring at a pond and remembering. I want to listen for Monster, padding through the grass. I wonder what happened to Lettie. I will say nothing more about this book until I reach the other side…

But so far, this is a wonderful day. Thanks Neil.

-DNW

POD Print Book Sales – Some Math and A Cry for Change

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HeartDragon2 coverI spent some time on the phone with a lady this morning that runs one of the bigger groups for independent booksellers in the south.  It was one more in a long string of conversations that have led to this post.  My goal here is two-fold.  One, I want to educate everyone, readers, booksellers who might not know, and authors, on the mathematics of a POD book and why the current situation sucks.  The second goal is to reach out to all of those same groups of people and work to find a solution.  Here toes nothing.

For the purpose of this post, I’m going to use one of my own novels – Heart of a Dragon.  This book is available in hardcover and in trade paperback, so I can show you the realities of pricing and distribution.

Out books are printed and shipped through Lightning Source.  Lightning Source, of course, is associated with Ingram, but we’ll ignore that for now.  Numbers:

Heart of a Dragon – Cover price  $12.99 Trade paperback.

Heart of a Dragon – Cover price  $24.99 Hardcover

Lighting Source has been very good to us.  There is a calculator on their site where you plug in the type of book, the number of pages, and then experiment with prices and discounts so you find a point where you can make a little money and your author also makes money.  It’s easy to use.

We have been discounting our books at 40 percent, hoping this would encourage independent bookstores to order from us.  I know most of them use Ingrams or Baker & Taylor, and so, I thought giving this discount would at least help.   On the above book:

$12.99 – 40 percent discount – we make $3.98 a book.  This is split 50/50 with our authors. The rest, we split among the company and the book designer we work with.  in other words.  Not much.

$24.99 – 40 percent discount – we make $4.53 a book.  Same deal.

That is what we make if we manage to sell a book through Ingram.  What I’ve been told is – they do not pass this discount on to booksellers.  They short discount it – probably no better than 15-25 percent in any case. Why?  Because we don’t allow returns.  To explain that.  If 100 books are ordered, and we accept returns, and only 30 are sold, the other 70 are returned to Ingram, probably damaged at least lightly, and shipped to us, and we have to buy them all at cost.  We have no warehouse.  It’s a problem.  So, we don’t allow returns.

The reality is that Ingrams WANTS you to discount your books 55% and accept returns.  If you don’t accept returns, and still manage to get up to 55% you might start to see some bookstore returns, but here’s the thing. For us to make the same amount on the books prices have to go up considerably.

HC – $32.99 – 55 percent discount we make: $4.39

TPB – $17.99 – 55 percent discount we make $4.29

Then, if we were to take returns, we risk having a pile of these laying around….

If people order directly from us, we can offer the deeper discount to THEM.  There may be a point in the middle where all this meets up.  We may have to raise prices slightly to give bookstores 50 percent without returns. Currently, what we have done (effective the end of June) is to lower our discount to 20 percent, cutting out ANY sales to bookstores through Ingram, but lowering the cost at B&N and Amazon and directly through us and raising the amount per sale that our authors will receive.  We don’t want to be for sale only on the Internet, but that appears to be where we’re heading.

What will fix all of this?  A Network of independent publishers creating a single source for booksellers to order from that is simple in the way ordering from Ingram is, but that does NOT cost a chunk of the profit to use.  Also, and those of you who have published through NYC know this, if we offer returns we have to change our accounting.  We have to keep a “reserve against returns” on print book sales for at least six months, meaning you wait longer to get paid for your books, and if they are returned, don’t get paid for them at all.  Then we have to have big “damaged book” sales and try to unload them at $5 – $10 a copy to cover print costs.

Another possibility is to make the information on POD books – cover art, description, price available in stores for customers willing to wait for delivery to their store.  Maybe laminated product cards?

It’s ridiculous that we can’t find a better way for this to work in this digital age.  Print on Demand has changed the availability of books, simplified the math and shipping – but not addressed the distribution.  The old model is designed to work well for people using standard, off-set printing, where you pay huge chunks of cash up front, order print runs in larger numbers, dropping the per unit cost, and allowing that 55 percent discount and returns, hope to do better than break even.  The really big companies can drop their per unit ridiculously low – and do – by printing literally hundreds of thousands of best-selling books that end up deep discounted, and still make money (while killing thousands of trees)   Those of us working through Print on Demand channels need a new method of aggregating the available titles and making them available to libraries and independent book stores in a way that does not inconvenience them out of the game.  Dealing with each of us separately does that.

We also need a way to get people into those stores requesting the books, because, in the end, that is the only way to get them to take the extra trouble – and who can blame them for that?  I’m open for suggestions, and would love to hear from other publishers using Print on Demand – how you work it, if you take returns, how bad has that been? If the higher prices don’t matter – I would love to know that too.  I am trying to make this print line a success..

I don’t know if what we need is a joint catalog put together by independent publishers, a network of e-mail and direct mail programs reaching out to bookstores, raising our prices and caving in…but I aim to find it.

Dear World – Note From the Author in the Middle

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2013-05-19 16.41.26There is a lot of timing involved in a writing career.  Anyone who does not believe this should pay attention.  Here’s a story for you…and a commentary on where I find myself these days.  This is not a complaint, or a call for, well, anything…just what I do.  When I write in this blog, I try to adhere to my own advice to write what hurts…

When I started writing back in the 80s, horror was in a boom.  Due to circumstances that could have gone other ways, I became a writer of horror and dark fantasy early on and I had a unique opportunity.  I either blew that opportunity, or avoided it.  The votes are still out on that.  I had an agent at one point who called while I was away at sea.  If I’d been there when that call came in, there was “a slot”.  What this meant, at the time, was that pretty much whatever I’d turned in (and I had books) would have been published in the raised-foil tsunami of horror.  That probably would have irrevocably changed my career. Maybe I’d still be riding the wave – maybe I’d be drowning in the aftermath of the big crash.  No way to tell, because I was out at sea, and missed it.

I set off on my own multi-directional path.  Star Trek, White Wolf, Vampires, horror, science fiction, fantasy – mystery and thrillers.  I’ve written them all.  Most of my books have gotten good to great reviews.  I’ve won awards.  People in some small circles know who I am.  I write a lot, and that will probably never change.

Along the way, though, something weird happened.  I never reached the heights of best-sellerdom, or even the upper middle-class of writing.  I just did okay.  I barely missed a lot of things that would have changed everything, and I kept writing.

Recently I started noticing that – despite the fact people know me and congratulate me when I finish a project, they don’t read them.  It’s not that no one likes the books – people who do read them like them – sometimes even love.  I don’t see any of those dreaded threads on message boards about how no one gets how I am still writing, or they couldn’t get through my books.  I also don’t see anyone starting threads about me in any positive way, or any excitement over whatever I’m working on.  What I get – mostly – is nothing.  Nothing at all.  Those who have always been famous remain famous.  Many newer authors, some awesome, others mediocre, and even a few I consider a long way from ready for prime time, get read.  People gather together and read their books in groups.  They line up to buy them before they are even published.  For my books, people are happy to enter a contest and maybe get the book for free, but buying seems to just never happen, and when people DO buy the books…well, if they ever read them I seldom hear about it.

I’m the author in the middle, currently.  I still believe I’ll find the way out – not sure what it will be. If I do make it out, I hope those who “discover” me also come back and read the older books – the ones I’ve spent a lifetime writing.  I hope they like/hate/talk about them.  Mostly, I hope they read them.

-DNW

Publishing – The Big "Thing" and how America reacts to it.

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Here’s how America works. It seems to be the same in every industry, and every walk of life, and we are in a particularly good seat at the moment to watch the entire process unfold yet again.  Someone invents something, makes something, or something that already existed somehow gains new traction and becomes a “thing”.  The minute this happens, the gears start turning.  While the originator of “the thing,” and the first few copy-cats out the door will do well, eventually people wanting to capitalize on “the thing” have to branch out.  Suddenly there will be services to help you do what the originators did.  There will be books about why it is successful, and how to emulate that success – mostly be people who have not done so, and  – if they COULD do so – would BE doing so.  Marketing schemes will rise.  Consultants on how to do that marketing will rise.  Analysts will roll out the adding machines and we’re off to the races.  Half of what we spend our money on (and this is a conservative guess) could cost a lot less by simply cutting away the layers of industry that have been built around the original “things” – and the greed of the long string of leeches living off of them.  This, of course, is a habit it’s hard to break.  People have to work, and in among all the leeches, there are genuinely helpful, knowledgeable people trying to help.  None of that is the point.

The point of this post is that Publishing – as an industry – is a perfect example of old school exclusivity, and a somewhat crumbling tower of layers it is going to have to shed to carry on very far into the future.  In the old school model, it’s hard as hell to get a book published.  They liked it that way (still like it that way) because it makes them seem somehow god-like and important.  It gives them the leverage to control people and “things” that they could not otherwise.  The same is true of agents.  Somehow it has reached the point where authors vie desperately for the attention of these folks – writing what they are told, when they are told and absolutely terrified of doing anything else.  The rulers of the industry would like you to believe that all of this is based on the quality of the work- that the agents and editors choosing the books being published are the cream of the crop from all possible sources – that they have magical powers that make their judgment calls the cornerstones of literature.  Let’s be frank – those cornerstones support Fifty Shades of Crap and enough books NOT written by the celebrities whose names grace the covers to carpet a very large city.  Maybe a country.  There may have been a time when publishing was largely based on quality – but it is currently based on cash.

Marketing rules publishing.  Hype rules marketing.  You are more likely to see a pop-up picture book from Stephen King than a well-distributed book by a talented newcomer.  Self-publishing and independent publishing is on the rise, but in many cases the sames rules are applying.  Someone creates a “thing” and a million people rush to copy it.  Ten of those million manage to do something that makes them money, the rest either rush off after the next thing, or branch out into the new surrounding industries.  Those who succeed become gurus – despite the fact that becoming a “thing” is not something that they could recreate, or teach.  Consultants build empires.  Editing services by people with absolutely no credentials to BE editors are around every virtual corner.  Services asking you to pay ridiculous amounts of money so your book can be “published” run by people who know absolutely that you have no more chance of success with them than you do without them, but that their dog will get Kibble if they convince you otherwise. A lot of these “publishing services” are run by respected agents and others whose place in the new schema is on rocky ground.  These are people you would hope would be working in the best interests of their clients, but history says no.  They are working in the interest of cash.

There is a great blending, as well. Agents – once very important, integral parts of the process, are mostly another blockage in the system these days.  They have very limited outlets for work they can sell.  If they are successful, they have clients they rely on, and the rest get little time, little consideration, and a lot of delay.  I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard authors say they’ve written dozens of proposals and sets of sample chapters that never got past an agent until they nearly quit writing in frustration.  The odds are that agent is hedging bets by stringing them along, but is really hoping to get off the phone so they can talk to a successful client. It’s business.  Another thing to remember is that, in most cases, agents are not editors.  Editors, these days, have very little chance of buying something new that they really want – unless the deal is very much banked in their favor, or the product in question either is, or appears as if it might be “a thing.”  Don’t count on this old standard route to get you where you want to be as a writer.  Remember – despite what the Internet seems to believe – that not everyone can write.  If you are good at it – you have a talent – a gift.  Don’t sign that gift over to people who have no intention of helping you nourish it…and don’t spend all your time dashing after gurus.  Study the market – study the new paradigm.  Ask questions.  There has never been a better time for talented writers, as artists, to stand up and change things.

As if it wasn’t hard enough to get through those old barriers, agents are now picking new clients from the self-published authors on the bestsellers lists – which obviously means less time for all of those people who made use of the services that helped them write their novels, edit their novels, write query letters for their novels – and submitted them in tight packages following said agent’s posted guidelines.  Yeah, it’s like that. All that money wasted – all those services that really aren’t.  Do you really need an entire book to show you how to write a query letter?  Is there really anyone out there who can so influence your book / project / talent with their “proven formula” for ANYTHING that is more than another crutch to hold you up while the slow-moving wheels of publishing grind on past your efforts without a sideways or backward glance?  Probably not.  Still, I have a whole shelf of books on formatting and writing.  It’s what we do.

Distributors – instead of being a convenient way for publishers to reach booksellers, they are now set up to make it more difficult for any but their chosen clients, or those who bow down to ridiculous demands, to get a product out there.  They bully stores by only offering good deals in return for exclusivity.  The bully publishers by demanding things like returns – knowing full well that just a couple of over-ordered titles could put a smaller business OUT of business. 

And it’s all crumbling. As it crumbles, keep your eyes open.  If something is a “service” now that was not there before, and it’s associated with “publishing” but really doesn’t seem to be… remember it’s how America works.  A thousand businesses wills pop up for every new “thing” and they will prey on the 999,990 who don’t manage to immediately copy the “thing” for profit.  The few that DO make it will be held up and pointed at to prove that ANYONE can do it – and there will be no articles written about the other 999,990 – it’s bad for too many businesses. 

Things I’d like to see when the smoke clears:

  • Authors publishing the books that move / inspire them instead of what an agent/editor says they should write.
  • Editors and (if they make the cut) agents who respond promptly and remember that they work for the writer.
  • A distribution system that allows indepe
    ndent publishers and sellers to interact fairly.
  • More transparency on the financial side of the industry.
  • A more cooperative world where – rather than huge advances, what authors want is steady, sustained income and impact – and where publishers don’t try to squeeze the majority of the profit out of those who created it.

I’m a dreamer, I know…but maybe that will be a “thing”.

-DNW

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