Indie, Press (-ed for Time)

So, I'm about to break all the rules of Blogging 101. I'll apologize for my absence. Then I'll whine about being in a time crunch, running out of pertinent stuff to post, worrying about balancing it all and remaining creatively productive. If you want to skip out on this post, please don't think I'll take offense.

But before you go, consider this: maybe those rules evolved to shield us from grappling with a greater truth. Maybe they're an unfair gag order slapped on beleaguered writers so we can keep our collective myths intact. Just like the American Dream mythology, the one that says we can all pick ourselves up by our bootstraps and rise through the social and economic ranks to land on top like Bill Gates and Donald Trump, we writers embrace the notion that no matter our current station and circumstances, we too could hit big like Stephanie Meyers and James Patterson. That hard work will triumph over all manner of odds.

Bullshit.

I didn't intend to swear. That just sort of slipped out. But it's the truth. We are being sold a bill of goods, folks. Don't get me wrong; I certainly don't mean it's impossible to beat odds, break out, work hard and succeed. What I do mean is this: Not all of us will. And not all of us have time to follow some prescribed formula to success. What's more, let's acknowledge that lots of the writers who are successful did none of the things the self-appointed gurus are holding out as the only way to make it. They're just making money by selling us their guides to "get rich published quick."

For me, I've discovered the difficulty of keeping up with social media (a solid blog schedule, tweeting daily, maintaining facebook) while researching, writing, critiquing, revising, querying my WIPs. Along with researching the ever changing nature of publication, both traditional and indie.

And did I mention I work fifty to sixty hours a week, commute an hour a day, and have huge caretaking responsibilities? So, yeah. Priorities do matter. We can't have it all, at least not all at the same time. Something has to give. For me, it's been my writing.

That needs to change.

I started writing as a way to nurture my overloaded soul. Today I reclaim that path, and will follow it where it leads and at a pace which allows me time to enjoy the journey. If this means I blog infrequently, tweet sporadically, and generally drop out of the social scene from time to time, so be it.

No apologies.

Please weigh in: how do you handle it all?

Five Stars, All the Time?

Five stars, all the time? Tenacious Ink posted that's exactly what she does on Goodreads. And I'm pretty much in agreement, although my standard is a 4. If the book totally amazes me, I'll go with the 5.

But now, I'm considering erasing all my ratings, like Teralyn Rose blogged about doing on her post.

You'll notice I rarely post reviews on my blog. I've interviewed authors, which I really love to do. But I don't normally review their books. Here's why: everybody has different tastes, and I shouldn't be telling people whether to like a novel or not. That's up to them. Plus, there's this bone-chilling story of the author who sued. And the author who probably earned more from her lawsuit than from sales of her book.

So, when I was asked to do a review for a blog tour, I hedged. Instead, I posted some of what I just said, about not wanting to take my subjective opinion and influence someone before they had a chance to form their own opinion. I opted to just give a general overview about the book. Ratings free. And learned something very interesting in the process.
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One, ratings and reviews often have motives attached to them. And two, I probably should be careful about offering to review books and join blog tours. After all, there's no way of knowing whether I like the book before I read it, and if the goal is publicity for the author and book, I'm stuck with whether to back out (as I was asked to consider -- instead I deleted the explanation above about not giving ratings, which the blog host called a rant) or compromise my ethics/own chances at publicity. Apparently, the blogosphere maintains a blacklist for folks who are honest, as the blog host also pointed out, as she warned that I should not include anything controversial on my blog for fear of offending potential readers.

Huh?

Frankly, my books might offend a potential reader or two. Not everyone will love my books. And some readers will adore the stories, and be glad I took risks to write about topics that speak to them and reflect certain truths in their own lives.

Other writers have other truths to express. I might not like them, but it's not my business to dissuade readers away from discovering these.

What is art for, after all?

Writers are supposed to pour themselves into their stories, not just pop out bland little fluff muffins that couldn't possibly bother anyone. Yes, I know, this is a business (for some people). But the truth is, very few authors really make a living at this business.

Why sell your soul in the process?


Sparkfest, continued.

Sparkfest, continued.: Today I continue my first post for Christine Tyler's Sparkfest that I blogged about yesterday. Here's the recap: "As writers, we're al...

Sparkfest Day One: Books that Doomed Me to Write


(I posted this first on my author blog, but want to share it on my writing blog, too.)

Today marks the start of Christine Tyler's Sparkfest that I blogged about yesterday. I'm so hyped!

Here's the recap:
"As writers, we're always striving to get out a message of inspiration to others. This blogfest is a celebration for those who have done this for us."

Today, I want to answer her first question:

What book made you realize you were doomed to be a writer? 

This is the most impossible question to answer, because in truth, there was no single book that "doomed" me. There were hundreds. I'll bet this is true for most writers. My earliest memories include picture books galore such as Dr. Seuss' Cat in the Hat, Maurice Sendak's Higglety Piglety Pop, and Harold and the Purple Crayon. When I got older, and was the weird kid who didn't fit it, I ran away with the Boxcar Children. I hid in the Metropolitan Museum of Art with From the Mixed of Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. I space traveled with A Wrinkle in Time.

As I got older, the library was my refuge from an unhappy childhood. I checked out everything I could on every obsession that caught me: mars, for example, and ESP (see, I told you was a little weird). I read classics such as Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities, and heart-wrenching reads like Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar. And I wrote. Poems, stories, journals.

Photo by Jeff Smith at Idaho White Water Rafting
Then life swept me down its river and left me clutching my raft for dear life. Years passed. The longing to write never left, but the dream of being a writer was thrown overboard like some non-essential treasure the raft couldn't bear the weight of.

Until my mother died.

And then my father did, too.

The dream turned up on the shore as my raft cascaded over terrifying falls, white water churning below, threatening to take me into its depths. It was there, around the bend, beside the rocks which damned the stream and slowed my plunge downstream.

 I picked it up, turned it over, saw the dream was still shiny and new. Like finding a long lost diamond ring I'd given up hope of ever finding, my joy overwhelmed the fear of entering this new and scary relationship. I picked up a pen and a notebook, and began to write.

For many months, it was a secret passion. I'll tell you more tomorrow, and share one of my first journal entries from those days when I was a closet novelist.

Callie Kingston: Sparkfest!

Callie Kingston: Sparkfest!: Christine Tyler at The Writer Coaster has a fabulous blogfest this week called Sparkfest. Here's her idea: " As writers, we're always...

MyWANA Explains It All (Book Marketing that Is)

This post by Kristen Lamb, the amazing creator of MyWANA, about what authors do wrong as they are trying to build their readership is one of the best I've come across. Worth a look.

Lor Mandela - L. Carroll: Let's Hear It for the Indies!

Lor Mandela - L. Carroll: Let's Hear It for the Indies!: Ever wonder why some wonderful authors are self-published? Today we have none other than A.M. Jenner here to sum it up from her perspective...

What's the Rush to Publish?

Juliana has a great post at I Aspire to Be . . .

It's a great reminder to enjoy the journey rather than focusing solely on the destination. Thanks, Juliana! Keep writing, keep learning, and allow the process to unfold without becoming too attached to instant gratification.



But don't quit striving for publication, either. Just don't let it rob you of the pleasure that writing brings, which is a sweet reward all by itself.

Willamette Writers Conference 2011

Yesterday I attended my first major conference. The Willamette Writers Conference is one of the largest on the West Coast, drawing hundreds of writers from around the country, plus some awesome agents and editors. It was tough to choose which sessions to attend, there were just so many. Jane Friedman's session on how to use Twitter was helpful. And I pitched in-person to an agent for the very first time. Thanks to this tremendously helpful post about pitching, I knew what to expect and how to prepare.

Still, after reading Anne Lamott's hugely discouraging Salon magazine article I was pretty ambivalent about the whole thing. And some of what she wrote is exactly what I found: high levels of tension among the attendees gathered in the 1:1 pitch session waiting area, anxious writers practicing their pitches with volunteers, people hanging on the words of the screenwriter at lunch who spoke of the Fairy Tale ending we all hope for. And most of us do hope for that golden ring, right? To get published. To call ourselves Authors, with the capital A. To join the book-signing club.

But to my surprise, the sessions on craft were well attended. People were friendly. The food was great. I learned a lot, conquered my nerves, and consider the day a great success. I garnered one request for my manuscript, but more importantly, I enjoyed a sense of camaraderie in an endeavor that is so often an exercise in isolation.

Have you gone to conferences? What was your experience?

Get Busy Writing!: Soulless

Get Busy Writing!: Soulless: "I read this in a magazine and thought I'd share it with you. It's an interview with Lady Gaga. Interviewer's Question: Were there ever mo..."

Tuesday Tantrum: Bye, Bye Borders

Since my days as a science major, I've been fascinated by evolution. Once considered a slow, gradual process, it is now recognized that evolution occurs in big jumps called punctuated equilibrium. Things plug along with the status quo until some tipping point is reached and then -- bam! -- a new set of species takes its place as the dominant ones.

One of the benefits to studying natural systems is the insight it gives to social and economic structures. And this year, I'm observing a series of events that suggest we're at the tipping point in publishing. The latest: the liquidation of book giant Borders. Lots have blogged and analyzed what this portends. One of the best posts can be found at the Gathered Stories blog.

While defenders of the old order will come out in droves to justify Borders' demise as a sign of anything but the overall decline of traditional print publishing, the writing's on the wall. Actually, the writing's on the tablet, Nook, Kindle, and whatever other electronic device that will support e-readers. Want proof? I'll spare you stats, and give you my satori last week instead:

I'm listening to a book on my commute, half way through, and it's overdue at the library. But I'm into the story now, so I weigh the cost of the overdue fines over the cost of buying the bestseller new at Barnes & Noble. In my hand I hold the beautiful volume. I check out its price. I put it back and leave with a  mag instead. Mind you, I make good money in my day job, enough to bitch about taxes even though I'm a tax-loving liberal. And I read dozens of books, fiction and non, each year. I write books. But my biggest book expense is overdue book fines. Why? My shelves are crowded with books I read once and won't again. See, the value of the book is in the story it contains. So guess what's on my birthday wish list?

Kindle or Nook.

Any recommendations?

Mandel Ngan  /  AFP - Getty Images

Tuesday Tantrum: Will We Really Miss the Book Publishers?

I'm thinking quite a bit about this precipice upon which mainstream publishing is now perched, and wondering if it might not be yet another instance of democracy in action. A decentralization of publishing, after all, will ensure that divergent material is offered. Not deviant. Just different. And I'm not the only one thinking this. Anne R. Allen posted a brilliant essay on her blog about this very topic.

She was responding to the ever-insightful Wall Street Journal's recent article about the woes we readers will face if the big pubs disappear (which they probably won't) or diminish in influence (which they definitely will). The article waxed prosaic about how dire things will be if we are forced to wade through the muck offered by the Kindle authors to find one good novel worth reading.

How considerate of WSJ to have our best interests at heart.

Right. Sell me a bridge while you're at it. Allen responded (as did a slew of folks seeking to set WSJ straight) with the simple observation that the shift to self-publishing has already led to more variety in the market. Rather than having one dystopian yarn after another catapulted to market before the ink is dry on the last one, or whatever the publishers have deemed to be what's hot today -- translation: whatever sold millions yesterday -- readers can access genres, themes, and stories that can't get to market via traditional means. This is a good thing. In fact, it looks a lot like freedom of choice.

Tuesday Tantrum: Is Traditional Publishing Nearing Extinction?

The publishing world is reeling from the advent of Pottermore and the news J.K. Rowling has ditched her long-time agent. Apparently, the stratospherically successful author of the Harry Potter series (the first volume of which was rejected by twelve publishers, according to lore) retained the digital rights to her work and is now cashing in, sans publishers.

What does all this portend? Besides the gnashing of teeth heard round the world at the loss of such a fortune by her former agent and publishers, that is.

Time to speculate. Interestingly, the Guardian recently published a piece about self-publishing and its rapid ascendency as a preferred path for authors. Compelling arguments were made for the self e-pub route. And from a financial standpoint, it certainly seems to make sense for a new author facing the enormous barriers to publication via the traditional route and the likelihood that if successful will languish among the midlist, to consider self publication.

But there's still the problem of access. It's all fine and well if the goal is to sell books (of course that's the goal). Many people still get books from their school or public library, however, or from a bookstore. Until those gated communities welcome the self-published, there is still a huge benefit to the traditional route -- if the goal is to be available to the full audience.

Chime in.

Tuesday Tantrum: Tipping Point in Publishing?

Agent Ginger Clark tweeted today about an article posted at the Publishing Perspectives website. The article piles on more kindling (pun absolutely intended) to the ever-growing bonfire of controversy about Self e-publishing vs. Traditional publishing models.

You've probably been enticed by the superstars we've all heard of (*** cough ***Amanda Hocking), but they actually point out a more compelling reason for a debut author to consider the self e-pub route: the midlist author. I mean, it's been a bit of a false argument up till now. Often, the unlikelihood that a writer will earn notice -- not to mention income -- from self-publishing is highlighted, while the equally low probability that this will be achieved through traditional publishing is not. What's interesting here is that for those writers destined to run in the middle of the pack, the e-pub route is the better one financially.

Another argument sometimes made is about the limitations this path presents, most notably in the foreign rights territory. Turns out, that's becoming less true as well.

There remains one compelling reason to go the traditional route, in my mind: libraries. I'd like to see my novel available for checkout, in material form, from public and school libraries. If Amazon can help solve that roadblock, I'd be most obliged to consider jumping on the fast track that self-publishing offers to potential success.

What do you think? Have we truly reached a tipping point?

Another Perspective on Publishing Odds (Or, what's the likelihood I'll earn enough to eat?)

I returned home last night from several days at the beach, one of which involved an awesome writing conference on the Oregon coast called Summer in Words. Amazing insights were ripe for picking. Now I'm pumped and raring to go again. Nothing like a boatload of inspiration to get me back on track. I highly recommend hanging out at a conference if you need to amp up your energy. What writer doesn't now and again? Face it, this can be a lonely and discouraging occupation.

Especially if you get hung up on the bleak stats, like those I posted in my Tuesday Tantrum about Stats that Suck.

Now, here's an antidote. Kristin Lamb blogs about all things writerly and kindly posted a lovely article about how not to drown in those odds. She notes that probably three quarters of Americans want to write a book. Hundreds of thousands will pick up a pen or open a blank word doc and start writing that novel. How many will finish? Maybe 5%. And the field narrows from there. Only 5% of people who finish a novel will go to a conference. And only a few will do other things to better their odds: read some books on craft; revise, revise, REVISE; write another book; keep querying when rejected; build a platform . . . (insert any number of other steps a writer can take to increase the chances of success).

So, keep this in mind when you're on the ledge, about to scrap your dreams, ready to quit and go back to the real world.

Or, as author Randall Platt challenged the attendees at her Summer in Words workshop: How long are you planning on living?

This is the dream. It's hard work to manifest that dream. And that makes success all the tastier.

Critters and Other Hazards of the Writing Life

After testing the waters at the 99th Page and finding them somewhat hostile, Lesser Apricots perfectly captured the issue with crits. They're soooo frustrating. I mean, you knock yourself out to write this stuff, right? And then, ever so gingerly, you put it out there for the world to view. Naturally, you want to hear major atta girls and "wow, fabulous, best thing I've ever read, pure genius!" Instead, you get a grab bag of opinions, some more qualified than others. One person adores it, another says it's crapola. "Too many adjectives," "not enough description," yada yada yada. Not a drop of consistency to go with. What's a writer to do with all this? 

As an example of how frustrating this kind of feedback can be, enter exhibit A: reviews from my ABNA excerpt. I'll spare you the uploads. Suffice it to say, two people reviewed. One loved, one did not. Very little agreement between the two. Took the advice, revised ferociously, and then comes exhibit B: reviews from my PNWA contest entry. Again, no need to subject you to the sordid details  But again: one reviewed liked it (85 out of 100, not bad for an early draft); the other did not (68 out of 100 -- what were you smoking??). And again, essentially no agreement in suggested edits. Finally, exhibit C: the multiple crits from online and face-to-face critique groups. Contradictory recommendations abound. I do look for recurring themes and obvious errors. If the crit fits, I wear it. Otherwise, it's all just helping to thicken my skin. And when I get those form rejections that say, "this remains a subjective business," I know they're telling the truth. 

Here's my advice: Write and revise until you love what you've written. Look for areas of agreement among your crits. Decide what makes good sense for you. And then save any further changes for those recommended by your professional editor or agent. Happy writing.

Finding Beauty in the Muck

The INTERN posts a brilliant reminder that we must not lose our creative joy while we are engaged in the tough work of revision. Just what I needed on this Friday. It is so easy to strangle the muse by forgetting that it's about creating. Yes, there's a ton of work. Words to cut, polish, and shine. But at the end, it's art.

Tuesday Tantrum: Query Weary

It's Tuesday again, which means I get to throw another snit fit. Today's Tuesday Tantrum is all about the Query.

Even the word alone is enough to strike fear in the hearts of the bravest authors. Myself included. Otherwise, why lurk around the shadows of agent blogs, seeking some tidbit of inside info that will pave the golden path to instant full manuscript requests? Yes, yes -- I know. Agents are like the key to the executive washroom when you really, really have to pee. Sure, I could dash down three flights of stairs and find a semi-private corner on the street. Not the same, is it? No comparison: marble floors, shiny stainless steel sinks, plush towels -- vs. cement sidewalk with my butt hanging out. Not a pretty picture.

So, you want to get published by the big time boys, you gotta have an agent who knows the secret handshake. And to get that agent, you must Query. More than that, you must now devote the better part of your waking hours to researching agents, what they like (dark chocolate or salt covered caramels), which phase of the moon to send your email so as to have the best possible chance of actually getting beyond the recipient's delete key, and drafting (um, make that revising for the millionth time) that anxiety-inducing Query.

All of which renders your ability to actually write anything new during those measly hours between sunrise and sunset as likely as getting struck by lightening while holding the winning ticket to Megaball in your fried little hand.

Sympathizing with my plight is the crazy successful Tahereh. Her blog about The 5 Signs That Say You Must be Querying had me in stitches. Badly needed stitches. Thanks Tahereh!

Tuesday Tantrum: Stats that Suck

Time for a Tuesday Tantrum.  

Michelle White posted a blog today that is downright depressing: 

A typical agent gets 32,000 query letters a year, asks for 2500 partials, and then 98 fulls. She'll offer to rep 9. And only 5 will sell to a publisher.

Wow. I'm feeling pretty hyped about that full request I got. What kind of odds are these? Yeah, I know, they say it's not odds really, because not all manuscripts are equal. Granted. But let's say that you worked your tail off and applied to graduate school with those kinds of numbers. How optimistic would you feel about the likelihood you'd be accepted? 

Now, let's assume that your book -- or mine -- is soooo amazing that said agent takes it on and actually sells it to a publisher. Pop the cork!! Book that trip to Hawaii!! 

Oh, wait.

Now here's another set of crummy stats.

The book gets published. Oh, it takes a couple of years, but finally it's out there for the world to buy. How may copies will it sell? 

On average, 250 copies. 

Seriously. Hot damn.

Drill down a bit deeper and here's what it looks like:
"in 2004, 950,000 titles out of the 1.2 million tracked by Nielsen Bookscan sold fewer than 99 copies. Another 200,000 sold fewer than 1,000 copies. Only 25,000 sold more than 5,000 copies."

But wait, then there's Twilight.

Good luck, ya'll. I'm going to have a drink now. And then get back to my WIP. 
One can dream, after all.

Nothing Cannot Happen Today: What WSJ Could've Said About YA Without Getting Cr...

Nothing Cannot Happen Today: What WSJ Could've Said About YA Without Getting Cr...: "Wall Street Journal laid a melon last night. And they got crushed by the entire Twitterverse of passionate YA readers and writers that kno..."

The War Has Begun: @wsj vs. #YAsaves (Or, the Awesome Power of Twitter)

If you ever doubted the power of the people, head on over to check out the Twitter feed. #YAsaves is on fire. Apparently, Wall Street Journal published a scathing (and unwarranted) attack on some of the current YA offerings, decrying the graphic violence and depiction of such gritty topics as self-mutilation, rape, suicide, bullying, homelessness, and, yes, vampires. All of these are fantasy, right? Don't happen in the real world. Shouldn't expose our vulnerable youth to such issues. Well, they may have a point about the vampires. But the rest? Get real! And to follow up on their misguided article, WSJ suggested a list of novel titles as recommended reads, even separating these out by gender (books for young women, books for young men). Wow. So 2011. Especially A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Now, I'm not a hater, but I don't see teens busting through the doors at the mall on a Saturday afternoon jonesing to buy a classic like Tree.

So all this got me thinking about what I read as a teen. After my love of reading was stoked by A Girl of the Limberlost (yes, I do love classics) and A Wrinkle in Time, I became a heavy reader of such uplifting teen lit as produced by Harold Robbins and Erica Jong. Yeah, I know -- I'm dating myself here. But the point is that Ayn Rand and Stephen King were among the best offerings. Great reads, yes. Teen lit, no. Now, the market is full of fresh, fierce stuff that draws teens into literature and speaks to their own anxieties and concerns. And if you don't think that the topics listed above (maybe with the exception of the vamps) are of concern to young people, it's time you get real.

Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award


Thank you Jenna for the lovely blog award! http://findingthewriteway.blogspot.com/2011/06/irresistibly-sweet-blog-award.html

So, here are the rules: The Rules:

Thank and link to the person who nominated you.
Share 7 random facts about yourself.
Pass the word along to 15 deserving blog buddies.
Contact those buddies to congratulate them.

What?? Just 7 random facts? I'm totally random. Well, I'll restrain myself and give you all just a taste of my sheer randomness:

1. I love lavender ice cream. And candy. And martinis. I can't say why, but that is one tasty little flower.

2. Speaking of flowers, my first major in college was Botany.

3. Speaking of Botany, I spent a month traipsing around the rain forest in Costa Rica. Ya'll would not believe the stuff that grows there.

4. When I was in fifth grade, I wanted to become the first woman to land on mars. Seriously. I read every book the library had on the subject.

5. Plus I wanted to save the planet. Still do.

6. I've spent time on four continents. Not did time, spent time. As in touristy time. Or ex-pat time.

7. One more random fact? Just one? Okay: I started writing my first novel when I was eight, and didn't start another until umpteen (***insert fantastical number here***)later.

Whew. Now, 15 bloggers to select to pay it forward:

1. The Contemps http://www.thecontemps.com
2. It's All Fun and Games until someone gets an agent http://marewolf.blogspot.com/
3. Indie Author http://aprillhamilton.blogspot.com/
4. Writer, Writer Pants on Fire http://writerwriterpantsonfire.blogspot.com/
5. Mother. Write. (Repeat) http://motherwrite.blogspot.com/
6. Just Your Typical Book Blog http://justyourtypicalbookblog.blogspot.com/
7. Ready. Write. Go. http://readywritego.blogspot.com/
8. Rebbeca Knight, Writer in Progress http://rebeccaknightbooks.blogspot.com/
9. YA Fresh http://yafresh.blogspot.com/
10. We Love YA http://weloveya.wordpress.com
11. YA Books Central http://yabookscentral.com/
12. Juvenescence http://raedeke.blogspot.com/
13. A Still and Quiet Madness http://authoraghoward.blogspot.com/
14. Teen Fiction Cafe http://teenfictioncafe.blogspot.com
15. Sara Zarr (my hero!) http://www.sarazarr.com

The Demise of Traditional Publishing? Or: Is the World Coming to an End?

Well, it looks like we escaped the rapture. That would be a tragedy; just think of how that might reduce the audience of potential book buyers. Okay, maybe not by much. But after reading several items over the past few weeks (and getting a little query weary -- more on that soon), I'm starting to wonder if the world of traditional publishing is heading for the cliff. Here's the evidence that indeed it might be:

1. Amazon just announced that its eBook sales now surpass all print book sales: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/19/amazon-ebook-sales-surpas_n_864387.html For every 100 print books sold, Amazon sells 105 eBooks

2. Over at the Passive Voice blog (www.thepassivevoice.com), the Passive Guy posted a detailed analysis of the breakdown of royalties an author may receive from traditionally published books and eBooks: http://www.thepassivevoice.com/04/2011/who-makes-the-most-money-indie-author-vs-traditional-author/. Take a look, and then you do the math.

3. The eReport published an article this winter highlighting the precipitous decline of print sales, nearly 25% in all trade categories combined. At the same time, eBooks have exploded by over 200%. For the discouraging (or encouraging, depending on your point of view) rundown, check out the article: http://activitypress.com/2011/04/19/us-publisher-upheaval-ahead-as-print-book-sales-see-sharp-decline/

4. Now famous (if he wasn't before) Barry Eisler just turned down a $500,000 deal with a traditional publisher to sing along with Fleetwood Mac and go his own way. And the blogosphere is on fire: http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2011/03/ebooks-and-self-publishing-dialog.html and http://blog.nathanbransford.com/

5. Agent Ted Weinstein expressed his concern to the Wall Street Journal that the traditional roles of agents and publishers are shifting: “When you have widespread electronic distribution of books, whether e-books or print-on-demand, all of the barriers of entry disappear,” said Ted Weinstein, a San Francisco literary agent. WSJ likens the change to a seismic shift. http://www.marketwatch.com/story/e-books-causing-seismic-shift-in-publishing-2011-05-26?link=kiosk

It's enough to give an aspiring author much to think about. Go Indie? Keep querying? Will the traditional book world and its gatekeepers be rendered irrelevant players in a brave new world of literary democracy? Or does this landslide threaten to break down the floodgates and deluge us all in a torrent of mediocre offerings?

Gearing up to Get an Agent -- It's a Blog Party!

Fellow aspiring author Deana Barnhart has a brilliant idea: team up together and spend the sweltering summer month of July gearing up to get an agent: http://deanabarnhart.blogspot.com/2011/05/gearin-up-to-get-agent-blogfesthere-we.html 

Love the idea? Join up! The more the merrier. Let's have fun while we sweat. Sort of like Zumba.

Sweet Treat if you Tweet

http://www.laurendestefano.com/blog.php

Check it out for a chance to win Lauren's new ARC of Fever and a signed ARC of Wither.

Callie Kingston: Mermaids are Hot!

Callie Kingston: Mermaids are Hot!: "According to USA Today, that is: http://www.usatoday.com/life/books/news/2011-05-12-mermaids-make-splash_n.htm Well, there just so happens..."

Write to Publish Conference

Whew! Just one week after the awesome SCBWI Oregon conference in Portland, Ooligan Press put on a great conference called Write to Publish. A day of workshops all about publishing and marketing your books was followed by a day of presentations by successful authors who discussed their journey through the publishing maze. Yesterday a knockout panel including authors Emily Whitman & Michelle McCann, and editor/publisher Cory Freeman of RainTown Press and  Emmalisa Sparrow of Beyond Words Publishing discussed trends in YA literature.

And yes, did you catch that? RainTown Press is new to Portland and has the brilliant intention to focus its publishing attentions on Middle Grade and Young Adult books. Welcome, RainTown Press. More here: www.raintownpress.com

Thank you Ooligan Press for the informative conference: www.ooliganpress.pdx.edu
Run by students pursuing their master's degrees in book publishing, they are the only student-operated press in the country. How awesome is Portland?

Get Real!

I've been listening to If I Stay during my commute and decided to check out the author Gayle Forman's blog. Delightfully, I discovered her April 20th post entitled YA Smackdown -- Team Contemporary http://www.gayleforman.com/blog/2011/04/20/ya-smackdown/

Thank you Gayle! First, for your gorgeous stories. And second, for throwing down the gauntlet for realistic teen fiction. The fascination with all things freakish and weird (vampires, ghouls, ghosts, angels, aliens, insert your mythical creature here) makes a lot of sense when taken in context. After all, the real world kinda sucks. A lot. At least, a lot of the time. And who doesn't want a hot boyfriend with superpowers? But there's room in there for some human lovers and human characters with very human issues, too.

 (in the interest of full disclosure, my novel Undertow features a bit of both the human and the not-so-human -- more here: http://calliekingston.blogspot.com/p/undertow.html)

Under Construction

See this big hole in the ground? Pretty soon they'll be hoisting in the footings for the foundation. A blog's about to appear.