Tag Archives: publishing

The Smell of a Good E-Book

9 Sep

by Savannah J. Foley

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A few months ago I was given a Nook. I would never have purchased one of my own accord, but now that I had one, I had to face my own stereotypes about e-books and e-readers, and have since become a convert.

There’s still a strong debate going over whether e-readers have come to destroy the world as we know it. Writers and readers get up in arms about this topic quite easily, so today I thought we’d explore some e-reader stereotypes, and what I’ve discovered since owning one:

Stereotype 1: I could never use an E-Reader because I love the way books feel and smell.

Eh, I don’t mind as much as I thought I would. I love books, too -the smell the, feel, the wing-like sound they make when you flip them with your thumb… I love them, honestly, but I think roughly the same argument about e-books could be applied to music: People didn’t want to switch from Vinyl to Cassettes, and from Cassettes to CDs, and from CDs to virtual albums. But now we listen to our music online, on our laptops, on our iPods… you can download individual songs without ever seeing what the album looked like. It’s the same with e-books: the data is the same.

Did virtual music kill physical album releases? No. Will e-readers kill physical book sales? I doubt it. (See this article for elaboration)

Stereotype 2: I like being able to flip through books in the bookstore before I decide to buy them.

If you’ve ever previewed a book on Amazon, you know that’s a cop-out excuse. But, the cool thing about the Nook at least, is that if you go to a Barnes & Noble you can sample books using the store’s own network. The only disadvantage is you can’t scan through pages quickly like you can with an actual book.

Stereotype 3: If I buy into e-readers, then I’m a traitor to the cause.

This is the most prevalent stereotype I’ve seen. I feel like writers are afraid that if they embrace e-readers they’ll be labeled either hipsters or traitors, and I think this stems from unfair prejudices about e-readers.

We’re human. Often, we fear change. E-readers came along, and they’re the first evolution of book formats in centuries. Music has certainly undergone some rapid changes, but books have remained the same until now. I think it’s natural that we would feel some apprehension and nostalgia. I remember when e-readers were first introduced, everyone was in a hysteria, asking, are books dead? Is the publishing industry failing? Will self-publishers ruin us all? Writers are going through the same trials that musicians started going through in the 90’s. But the music industry isn’t dead, and neither is the literary one; we’re just evolving.

E-books are a fact. Digital rights are being worked into publishing contracts. Digital books aren’t going away. This resistance will fade in a few years, just as resistance against iPods and DVDs flagged.

And, let’s think to the future… do you think the evolution of book formats is going to stop here? Hell no! In a few decades we’ll have foldable virtual devices. We’ll be able to flip holographic pages at the same speeds as analog. If you truly object to not being able to touch the page you’re reading, just give it ten years and a virtual option will be available to you.

Conclusion:

You don’t know until you’ve tried it. You can talk about theory and preferences and what you feel like now, but until you’ve spent some time with an e-reader you just don’t know how you’re going to like it. I remember when I got my first cell phone, I was disgusted. What do I need a cell phone for? Then, what do I need texting for? Email on my phone? Internet browser? I didn’t know what I was missing until I had it.

And it’s not like I’ve thrown out all my physical books. I still have boxes and boxes of books, and I probably will forever. I like having physical books on my bookshelves. There’s just some stories that I want for my personal library, physically beside me while I write. But when I’m running around town, I want my little Nook device in my purse, not taking up much space, and ready to whip out at a moment’s notice.

Additional Benefits of the E-Reader:

  • If you drop your book in a lake, it’s gone forever. If you drop your e-reader in a lake, you can re-download the books onto another e-reader.
  • I can take my whole library with me in my purse.
  • I can download a new book and be reading it within two minutes. I don’t have to go to a bookstore or wait for one to ship something to me. I see it, I want it, I click it, I read it. That simple.
  • E-books are cheaper (generally; see this article for the reason why some stay so expensive). I buy books I never would have normally, because the price is so good.
  • Lots of e-books are free. I can read classics and public domain books for free. Sometimes bookstores even give away new books for free as a way of generating interest.
  • You can customize your text and font on an e-reader. I can make it any size and style I want; whatever helps me improve my reading experience.

Drawbacks of the E-Reader:

  • I wanted to loan my mom The Hunger Games… only to realize I had it on my Nook. So I either have to loan the entire device to her (not gonna happen), or wait until e-readers are standard enough that everyone has one.
  • Flipping pages. Boy, do I love to flip pages and search for stuff. But that’s a really slow process on the Nook.
  • You have to charge it. Once I left my charger at work over the weekend… by Sunday I was sitting on my couch staring at a wall because I’d run the battery into the ground.

What are your thoughts on e-readers and our future?

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Savannah J. Foley is the author of the Antebellum (originally known as Woman’s World) series on Fictionpress. She has written five novels, owns her own freelance writing company, and is signed with the Bradford Literary Agency. Antebellum is currently out on submissions. Her website is www.savannahjfoley.com, but she updates more frequently on her livejournal.

The Writing Community’s Kryptonite…AKA Jealousy

27 Jul

By

Sarah J. Maas

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Okay, I’m just gonna say it: Jealousy is rampant in publishing. Like, out-of-control rampant. It’s hard not to be jealous when you see an author get a seven-figure deal for a book that sounds just like yours, or jealous when you’ve been querying for 16 months and your friend lands an agent within days of querying. I’ve seen authors get jealous about money, book covers, press—pretty much everything. And I’ve seen firsthand how jealousy can eat away at writers—how it turns them into monsters.

Yeah, it sounds dramatic. But it’s true. I had a friendship fall apart as a result of jealousy. When I met this aspiring writer, she was sweet, and funny, and optimistic. I’d just signed with my agent, and I was more than happy to help her out with her own path to publication—I did everything from critiquing her manuscript to helping with her query letter to researching agents for her. But as the months wore on, and she didn’t get any closer to landing an agent, while I moved closer to getting a book deal, jealousy set in.

It came to a head when she told me she couldn’t be friends with me anymore—that I’d essentially become a colossus casting a shadow over her and stomping on her dreams. I felt blindsided. I felt guilty about my own successes. Had I done those things? Had I stomped on her dreams by talking about how awesome my agent is, or what editors were interested in QUEEN OF GLASS? Was I casting a shadow over her because my blog had more followers? Um, no. Far from it. But I ultimately realized that it wasn’t an issue about ME. It was about HER. Her insecurities and fears poisoned her.

That’s what jealousy is, really. A poison. It clouds your judgment, it turns friends into enemies. It makes you into something you are not. It turned this girl, who was a friend I loved and valued, into someone I didn’t recognize. By the end, she claimed all sorts of horrible things about me. The worst, though, was when she claimed that I never cared about her at all. I don’t think I ever told her this, but I had her number on speed dial. I have five people on my speed dial. And she was one of them.

Our friendship ended. And even though we left things on rocky terms, I wish her the best—I really do. Because I understand how it feels to be jealous of someone, how it makes you physically ill, and I know there will always be someone to be jealous of. But you can’t let it get to you. You can’t let it eat up everything inside of you, because you lose so much as a result.

But it’s hard to let go of jealousy. Really, truly hard. I have to actively tell myself to STFU every time I get jealous. So, here’s some quick and dirty advice when you feel that miserable rush.

1. Don’t panic. So someone sold a book for a hell of a lot more money than you received. So someone got an agent that you really wanted. So what. Do these things affect your daily life in any way? Does that one person getting an agent imply that you won’t ever land an agent? Take a deep breath. Put things into perspective.

2. Sometimes good things happen to undeserving people. Again, so what? Just because an insipid author was featured on the front page of the NYTimes Book Review doesn’t mean you won’t ever be. Look inside yourself—what is prompting your negative reaction? Why are you so upset about it? Once you understand the source of your jealousy, it’s a lot easier to confront it—and let go of it.

3. Someone else’s success doesn’t make you a loser. I don’t think I need to explain this one.

4. Sometimes, we have to work harder than the average person to achieve our dreams. But everything happens for a reason. Maybe we need that harder journey—maybe that journey will make us into better people. Don’t be afraid of taking the longer path. It might lead to some interesting places.

How do you guys combat jealousy? Any tales of woe and misery to share?

~~~

Sarah J. Maas is the author of several novels, including QUEEN OF GLASS, a YA fantasy retelling of Cinderella that will be published by Bloomsbury in late 2011. Sarah resides with her husband in Los Angeles. You can visit her blog here.

Five Rules To Remember When Breaking Into The Industry

8 Jun

First of all, a huge thank-you to everyone (and my fellow LTWF contributors) for all of your congratulatory wishes! I had an amazing wedding and an awesome honeymoon, and even though I’m bummed to be back from vacation, I’m really glad to be active in LTWF again!

Anyway, I’ve reached a point along my path to publication where I feel like I can give somewhat useful advice. So, I compiled a list of the five most important rules I’ve learned so far! I hope you’ll find them useful, and that you’ll remember them on your own journeys to publication!

Five Rules to Remember When Breaking Into Publishing

By Sarah J. Maas

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5. Be patient. This is perhaps the hardest thing to do, but learning to Wait is an essential skill. The waiting never gets better, believe me. Whether you’re waiting for an agent to respond to your query, or for your editor to read your revised manuscript, it always sucks. But this isn’t a lightning-fast industry—things take time.

Your agent and editor are usually juggling multiple projects, all at different stages of publication. No news isn’t necessarily bad news—sometimes no news is just…no news. Learn to distract yourself—try to avoid staring at your inbox for hours on-end. Write another novel, watch TV (I became a Bravo addict while on subs), go to the gym. In short, force yourself to do anything other than refresh your inbox and stalk twitter feeds! Don’t drive yourself crazy while waiting.

4.  Do your research. This isn’t just about researching before you query agents. You should try to keep abreast of what’s happening in the industry: recent sales, what’s hot (and what’s going out of fashion), recent scandals (yes, we have those), and who has drama (especially in the sense that you should learn to avoid such drama). This isn’t to say that you should become a gossip, because no one likes people with big mouths, but keep an eye on what’s happening in the industry. If anything, it gives you things to talk about when you meet other writers.

3. Be kind. And classy. You’d be surprised how far this gets you. In case Rule 4 didn’t convey this, word gets around. Even if you think no one knows who you are, odds are some people have heard of you. Don’t become notorious for starting drama or insulting other authors/agents/editors.

I knew a writer who really damaged their reputation by starting drama—and I was really shocked when I learned that people totally unconnected to that writer had heard of the drama and now thought negatively of said writer. So, be kind—be polite. Authors talk. Not just to each other, but to their agents and editors as well. You might not realize it now, but someday you might be sitting on a panel with the author whose book you slammed on Goodreads, or you might have your work on submission to that editor you whined about in your blog. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

2. Open as many doors as you can for others. This goes hand-in-hand with Rule 3. But I remember once explaining this to another writer, who balked at the idea of helping someone get ahead when she was having so much trouble doing it herself. She was afraid that if she helped out a fellow writer (just by reading/critiquing their query letter) that it would hurt her own chances of getting published and being successful. I found (and still find) that to be ridiculous. Someone once told me that lighting other candles doesn’t diminish the brightness of your own flame, and I couldn’t agree more.

Remembering to reach back is crucial—not because you want to gather a horde of people indebted to you, but because it’s a good thing to pay it forward. It’s good for your soul. I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in today if my fellow LTWF Contributor, Mandy Hubbard, hadn’t opened a door for me. Not only am I forever grateful for that kindness, but she inspired me to reach back to others, too. Please don’t become someone who shuts doors on people.

1. Don’t give up. Ever. This might seem pretty obvious, but this is the most important thing I’ve learned so far. The only thing/person standing in your way is YOU. Agents and editors might reject you left and right, but if you give up, the blame is on you. It only takes one person to say yes, and one phone call to change your life.

I know a writer who sent out 96 queries to agents. Her now-agent was number 95 on that list. She could have given up at 50 queries, or 60, or 94. But she kept querying, and the 95th agent was the one who said Yes.  If getting published is your dream, then you’ll understand that it’s not how many times you get knocked down—it’s how many times you get back up. Keep getting back up.

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I’m sure there’s plenty of stuff I didn’t cover, but I wanted to keep the list as short as I could! Hopefully you guys will find something to take away with you!

What are some rules/things you’ve learned so far in your own writing journeys?

~~~

Sarah J. Maas is the author of several novels, including QUEEN OF GLASS, a YA fantasy retelling of Cinderella that will be published by Bloomsbury in late 2011. Sarah resides with her fiancé in Los Angeles. You can visit her blog here.

Dealing With Criticism

5 May

By Sarah J. Maas

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You finish your novel after months—if not years—of writing. Then you revise, revise, revise until your manuscript is so polished that it gleams. Then—querying. The ups and downs, the moments of hope and despair—and you start thinking: if I can get an agent, I won’t ever have to worry again! Of course, you eventually land an agent, and you start worrying: if I can get a book deal—no matter how much or little I get paid for it—I won’t ever need to worry again! All the dark days will be behind me! I’ll be set for life just as long as I can see my book on a shelf!

Well, let me tell you something: it’s not over. Getting a book deal doesn’t mean Happily Ever After. Within a few hours of getting The Call, I was already fretting about a dozen different things. Perhaps the most pressing of them is the question of: Will people like my book?

Seriously, that’s the question that haunts my every step—the question I ask myself every time I read my novel or edit a sentence or have someone tell me that they’re excited to read QUEEN OF GLASS. Will people like my book?

The answer is maybe. Maybe some people will love it. Maybe some people will hate it. I can’t control that. But I can control how I choose to react to it.

Learning to gracefully deal with criticism is one of the most important skills a writer can attain. That’s why having a critique partner is great, and why querying and submissions are wonderful learning experiences.

There will ALWAYS be people who don’t like your book. And there will always be people who go on Goodreads to give your book 1 star without having read it. I’ll never forget how furious I was a few years ago (when QOG was still on FP): one of my fans created a series of Wikipedia pages about QUEEN OF GLASS, its characters, and me (as an author)—and one day, it was all gone.

I looked it up, and in the deletion records, it showed that someone had anonymously sent a message to Wikipedia, demanding that they take down the pages because I wasn’t a REAL (i.e. published) author. I thought that was pretty hurtful—but it was made worse when I spoke to a friend about it, and she confessed that a mutual acquaintance had been the one who wrote to Wikipedia.

I wanted to throw my computer through a window. No—scratch that. I wanted to throw my computer at his HEAD. I seriously started and deleted about ten different emails that all began with a series of profanities and insults. Ultimately, I never called him out on it. Why? Because I realized that he was just a miserable, jealous person who couldn’t stand to see other people getting ahead.

That is NOT to say that every person who gives you a bad review is a miserable loser looking for attention. Far from it. But I am saying that I am SO glad I never confronted him—because it would have made ME look bad.

With reviews, I’ve come to realize that sometimes people’s personal tastes just don’t jive with mine. I mean, I can’t count the number of times I’ve HATED a book, only to have a friend love it—or vice versa. That’s what’s so great about this industry, and about books in general: people will react differently to everything. And when that happens, awesome debate begins.

It’s really hard not to take things personally when someone slams your book: your book is your baby, after all. But it’s unrealistic to expect that everyone will love it. Not every agent or editor will go gaga over your book and beg to represent/publish you. If you’re the kind of person who is devastated by bad reviews, then don’t look at your Goodreads ratings, or your reviews on Amazon and other sites. I’ll admit: I’m nervous about those bad reviews—I’m nervous about how deeply they’ll cut, or if they’ll make me never want to write again.

But I know that even when I get my first bad review, I can’t lash out. Because that’s unprofessional—because readers are entitled to their opinions, and because without debate, this industry wouldn’t thrive.

So, will people like my book?

Maybe.

Will I react to every review—no matter how good or bad—with graciousness and professionalism?

You betcha.

~~~

Sarah J. Maas is the author of several novels, including QUEEN OF GLASS, a YA fantasy retelling of Cinderella that will be published by Bloomsbury in late 2011. Sarah resides with her fiancé in Los Angeles. You can visit her blog here.