Tag Archives: Publishing

I Love It When Someone Else Says What I Couldn’t Figure Out How To Say

Disclaimer: I am a freelance editor with Carina Press, a publisher who works on a no advance profit sharing model, but this post represents my thoughts as a writer and should not be interpreted as me speaking on behalf of Carina Press.

With all the hoopla over the Random House e-book scandal, I’ve been annoyed at a how many people have taken to assuming a no advance contract automatically equals a bad contract. As a writer who has so far been lukewarm to self-publishing and the upfront costs involved, a contract with a reputable publisher that provides a nice profit sharing and covers the cost of editing and production as well as some marketing support is far superior to me shelling out thousands of my own dollars with sketchier results. But every time I tried to articulate that into a broader essay on the benefits of a no advance model I choked. Now agent Evan Gregory of the Ethan Ellenberg Agency has come out with a great piece that says everything I was trying to say.

You can check it out here.

I’d also enjoy hearing your thoughts on the no advance model.

I Should Make a BDSM Joke But This Is IMPORTANT

I got my first batch of submissions from Carina today. Prior to the delivery I spent a good chunk of time yesterday and today streamlining my email operations to 1)better handle what I anticipate will be the flood of junk mail and junk submission from the wilds of the Internet and 2)better handle the flow of reading and reporting I’ll do for Carina. It’s not until a project like this that I realize how amazing GMail really is and how little of it’s power I’ve been tapping all these years.

And right off the bat as I glanced through the submissions I had flashbacks to the truly enjoyable parts of working on Demolition. I love the optimism and promise of a great read that comes with the slush pile. I’m excited to dig into these submissions and seek out the genius while also looking for some projects that can benefit from my editorial guidance. As a writer my favorite part is right after the rough draft when I can evaluate the sloppy mess I’ve dumped on the page and start sculpting it into it’s true form. I anticipate much of the same kind of joy helping other authors navigate their way through this process.

Also, secretly, I’m looking forward to the occasional stinker that makes me feel better about my own work.

I assume it won’t be long before I’m all jaded and hackneyed just doing this for the cash, but until then I’m going to enjoy the beauty of the process and hope the writing in that submission batch is better than the swill I just dumped here.

My New Gig

For once, something good about me broke over on Facebook and Twitter instead of here at the blog. It was really good news and I wanted the immediate gratification that comes with social media. I know. I actually went as far as to re-friend about 100 people I previously deleted in my last major social media purge just so I could have the max amount of congratulatory messages. I know. But as is normally the case, the blog provides a better home for more substantial analysis of my good news (and, not coincidentally, another chance to mention it on Twitter and Facebook).

So, many of you may know me as the editor of Demolition from back in the bygone days of the mid 2000s. But before that, I actually work in Big Publishing in New York City and loved it. Sort of. I loved the job and sort of loved New York City but I hated being poor in New York City so I left in 2001. I’ve been missing full blown commercial editing since then.  Since then I’ve made a nice reputation as a writer, but I’ve also come to grips with the realities of the current publishing climate and my own personal commercial aspirations.

These days if I’m going to do the full-time stay at home thing I so desire, it’s going to take more than novels and short stories to make that happen. Many other writers make a living doing other kinds of writing like corporate writing or RPG game writing or some such thing. I’ve never had any desire to do that kind of writing but always thought editing would be a cool gig to help branch the revenue stream. Unfortunately, until recently, the only way to do that was to be a well-known published author or former big shot publishing executive and work with authors looking to strengthen their bid for a Big NYC contract. But the rise of digital publishing has broaden this field immensely. The need for talented freelance editors to help indie writers stand out from the onslaught of slop is growing every day and big name digital publishing companies like Carina Press are looking to fill their editorial needs with freelance talent as well.

Enter me.

I first heard of Carina through Alison Dasho (who I first heard about through Bleak House Books and Tyrus Books). If it hadn’t been for Alison I never would have known these opportunities even exists. So know here I am roughly a year after I first started looking into this whole hubbub and I’m delighted with the prospects. Obviously my dream now is to develop a strong, deep, line at Carina and in the near future put together enough editing and creative writing work to work from home and still support my family. For now, I’m really looking forward to digging into the slush pile and helping talented authors bring their visions to the eager digital masses. I also expect I’ll become something of a social media shill for Carina Press and their authors but we all know that’s a better deal than me just being a social media shill for myself.

For those interested in submitting something to Carina Press for my consideration I’ve set up a dedicated Editing page with all of the pertinent details.

Mystery Short Story Readers: Where Are They and How Do We Get Them Online

In my last post on  this topic Chad Eagleton had a couple of great points that I was initially going to use as my jumping off point, but then I found something else very interesting that I think might be even better to start with.

Now to be clear on this, I’m not talking about how to get more paying markets in crime fiction. I believe that if there are enough short crime fiction readers online then the money for paying markets will follow. So what I’d like to figure out is how to get more short crime fiction readers online. I’ve been comparing the crime fiction field to the science fiction field in most of my discussions and that’s what makes what I just found this morning interesting to me. The problems we’re having trying to get readers online, the sci-fi field is having getting readers to the print magazines. The circulation for crime fiction’s two biggest journals Ellery Queen and Alfred Hitchcock is over 100,000 each. The circulation for sci-fi’s “Big Three” – Asimov’s, Fantasy & Science Fiction, and Analog- is less than 75,000 COMBINED.

This quote from John Scalzi on their problems I think sums up the problem with online crime fiction markets perfectly:

“I think the major thrust of their problem has been that all the pulps have seemed to be content to work with what they have in terms of subscribers and readers, as opposed to being very active about acquiring new readers.”

Substitute “pulps” for “online crime fiction magazines” and you have a great summary of our issues. Contributors to some online crime fiction zines are editors and publishers at others and the reader pool doesn’t expand out much past that core group of writers and editors. And if you try to broach this subject with many of them you’ll be shot down as a traitor to the cause or a whiner or be told to “do something about it.” This brings me to Chad’s major point.

As far as the online markets for short crime fiction, I think variety is big problem. Go check out a science fiction mag and you’re gonna get a hard sf story, pulpy space opera, an alternate world piece, a time-travel tale, a socially-conscious futurist story, and maybe a sword and sorcery adventure. The online crime zines, from what I’ve seen, tend to publish the same types of stories. I don’t think I’ve ever gone to one of the online crime mags and in a single issue had the option between reading a police procedural, a cozy, a whodunit, a Black Mask pulp tale, gritty hardboiled noir, and maybe something funny.

That’s HUGE and I think I know why it’s a problem. One of the big reasons these online journal sprouted up is because there was a small core of writers doing great work that didn’t fit (at the time) into EQMM or AHMM. Unable to fund an alternate print journal, these writers went the cheap route and posted online. Since then, EQMM and AHMM have flexed with the times and started publishing darker and edgier work, but in most online circles there is still the Us vs. Them attitude that drives away the more casual readers. If these editors are really interested in expanding their readership (and I’m not at all convinced that most of them are) then they need to publish high-quality work across a variety of crime sub-genres. But as many of them have expressed aggressive stances against “cat books” and the like I don’t see that happening soon.

The other point Chad brings up is one of age.

First, I think Sci-Fi has a long and vibrant history of active and engaged fandom. It’s something you get into when you’re a kid and probably like well into adulthood. I can’t think of too many kids who are into crime fiction.

Anyone who has attended a crime fiction book signing or one of the major crime fiction conferences can see that this field plays to a much older demographic, a demographic that is more comfortable with print short stories than online short stories. That’s why I think the circulation rates for the print journals are so much higher in crime fiction than in science fiction. This doesn’t that mystery readers as a whole hate to go online. Sites like CriminalElement, and GoodReads, and even Facebook have large and active communities of all ages, but you have to work harder to get them than a print journal does. I think it also helps that those sites also have a heavy presence from traditional publishers who can provide a stamp of approval for readers who may be overwhelmed by the volume of online fiction available from unknown authors and editors.

So those I think are the biggest problems preventing a stable, diverse, and financially sound online crime fiction community. Now what do we do about it?

 I don’t think there’s a quick fix. I think the biggest thing that needs to happen is to infuse more youth into the field. This I believe lies more at the feat of the large organizations like MWA and Bouchercon. They aren’t doing nearly enough to encourage younger readers to seek out crime fiction. As for getting more of the current short story readers to check out online crime fiction I think we need to get past the Us vs. Them stuff. Writers and editors also need to read wider across the genre to appreciate it’s variety.

And I say this as someone who sucks hardcore at all of this. I mostly just want to write and let the markets sort themselves out. Editing and publishing these journals is a huge pain in the ass and it takes a special kind of person to do it and to do it right. I’m not that kind of person. I just hope by writing this I can inspire the next generation of writers and editors and hopefully we can keep this field vibrant and active for a long time to come.

How do you all think we can fix this? Or hell, do you think there’s even a problem?

Oh, They Mean *Earth* Days

Obviously WordPress and I have differing ideas of what constitutes a post a day. But even though I haven’t kept up the pace in technicality as far as my little postaday banner over there goes, in spirit it has done as it was intended which is get me over the routine and petty BS that blocks regular and engaging blogging. It’s also introduced my blog to a heap of new readers through the postaday tag which has been great for me as well. Whether the blogging world is better for it certainly remains to be seen.

I’ve been following with great interest the events at BEA through Twitter and Facebook. I strongly recommend reading Jennifer Weiner’s keynote address for the Book Bloggers Conference which is a great call to arms and charge for book bloggers. I suspect she’s become a little too fond of her identity as instigator for women’s coverage of literary issues, but she’s still a witty writer who is one of the highlights of my social media streams.

Sometimes I feel like I’m in a vaccum here between blogging styles. I’m no longer content to just blog for myself, I crave a bigger stage and to be a bigger part of the conversation of blogging, but I think that will come later with more success as a writer. And speaking of success, reading coverage of BEA and working on my Secret Project have made me realize how much I still value my original publishing dream. We may be in a new world where writers can self publish and have control and make great money, but I didn’t get into this just for money and for control. I want the Official Publishing Dream.

I want The Call from a publisher. I want dinner with my agent and my editor in New York City. I want to sign books at book stores and go to BEA as an author. The industry may be changing but those traditional opportunities are still there and until they are all gone that’s what I’m aiming for. I think it’s disingenuous of some writers who promote their way as the only way for new writers when they themselves have already had the chance to live the traditional publishing dream (despite how it might have worked out in the end) or, if they started in self publishing, made the move to a traditional publisher when offered.

Now I’ve got to get back to work because the traditional dream and self publishing dream both require a finished high-quality novel.