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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Dynastic Dinosaurs

Is it me or has the wind blown out of the sails of agents and the RWA? It seemed to me this time last year everyone was having tearful fits if they weren't going to make it to the RWA conference. But this year only a handful of bloggers are bemoaning missing the conference and others aren't even mentioning it at all.

Don't get me wrong. The RWA conference is awesome. Expensive. But awesome. It's way out of my price range now. As much as I love the lectures and the amazing job they do at keeping things running smoothly, I can't justify the expense. Heck, I can't even justify the price of membership anymore. 

Fancy magazine aside, I can't see the benefit of shelling out $120 US for the pleasure of their company. Author, Tonya Kappes, said it beautifully here.

And what about agents? I keep close tabs on them because of my association with the OWW newsletter, but so many have either closed their doors or migrated to something new. There are a lot of new faces in the agent kingdom, but no big sales.

Therein lies the rub. Aside from two weeks worth of fame when your book (hopefully) lands in a brick and mortar store, how much are traditional publishers worth? How much is that 15 or 20 percent you shell out to the agent worth?

Decent advances are rare nowadays, made worse because the publisher divides that advance into thirds or quarters. It's not even a living wage in most cases.

It hardly seems worth the trouble--at least from my perspective.

But I won't rain on anyone's parade. If that's your goal, by golly, I hope you reach it. Someone has to make a big advance sometime. I'd rather it be YOU than some smarmy Hollywood celebrity. That way I can say I knew you when. :o)

Friday is it. It's the last day to Like, tweet, comment or subscribe to The Frugal Way Facebook page or Back to Basics blog. Winners will be announced next week. Good luck!

In the meantime, check out yesterday's guest post by Raelyn Barclay on making your own play dough. It is so cool and really easy. If you have kids--or grandkids, you have got to try this.

Next week: State of the Homestead

How do you feel about the current publishing atmosphere? Are you as excited about it as when you first started?


Angelina Rain said...

I'm getting my arse burned with publishing lately. Traditional is slowly going away. Although there are many authors who would love that traditional contract and having their books in an actual store, it seems that very few will get there.

Epublishing used to be the dream for many authors who gave up on traditional but it's becoming more of a joke than anything. There are those few good e-pub companies where everything is good and professional, like Carina, Samhain, Evernight, Loose ID, ect, ect. But with it being so easy to open up an e-pub, there are many unprofessional companies that open up, release a few books, then refuse to pay their authors and close down. I've been hearing a lot about bad presses lately. Over the last year I've been contracted by 4 e-publishers. One of those is already gone, and another is well on it's way. Yesterday, I actually emailed the publisher asking for my rights back as it seems like the house is falling apart and most of their authors claim to being highly unhappy with them.

It seems like self-publishing is becoming the popular choice and many authors claim they are happiest with their self pubbed books. I'm thinking about trying that with my next book.

Stacy McKitrick said...

Maybe because I haven't been at this for decades and I only have a few books under my belt, but I still want to go the traditional publishing route.

I'm sure a lot of people have shelled out money to self-publish (and I would have to be one of them since I don't believe I could do it all and look professional) and not broke even. So even if the money is small (via traditional or small press), at least I haven't spent anything.

Don't know if that makes me excited about the publishing atmosphere or not, but I do see all the opportunities out there, where there used to be only one.

Maria Zannini said...

Angelina: Let me email you tonight about the so-called 'good' publishers. Things aren't always what they seem as you have learned yourself.

Stacy: I think that's the one saving grace of publishing today. At least we have more options.

Angela Brown said...

Since I'm still in the pre-stage with a YA paranormal romance no agent would even think of touching and a YA urban fantasy/dystopian that, again, no agent would think of touching, I'm just an open minded writer keeping my eyes on the goal of publishing my story so it can be shared. If it is self-pubbed, then cool. If some agent actually looks at one of my pieces and says, "hey, let's give this a go cuz I love this story," then cool.

And ref: I'd rather it be YOU than some smarmy Hollywood celebrity. That way I can say I knew you when. :o)

I love it!!!

Raelyn Barclay said...

As much as I'd love to join RWA for the learning experience, I can't justify the expense of the national organization dues on top of my local chapter dues. Sure those dues can be written off but I was advised by our tax people only after I had actively queried or self-published. If I'm at that stage of the game, why be a member? Definitely a catch 22.

I guess that's one good thing about coming into this whole writing thing when I did, I never really had any aspirations for a traditional contract. I love that there are so many publishing options available today.

Heather said...

I couldn't agree more. The traditional industry has gotten a lot more money out of me than they've given back. Considering that authors only get 10% off their books, and that's after printing fees, retailers discounts (which are 45-55% off), then agent fees on top of that, the appeal begins to wear off. My traditionally published friends are making under $1 on their books. Sad.

Maria Zannini said...

Angela: It's all good as long as the money flows to the author. Just wish it was more money.

Raelyn: There was a time when we (the general 'we') were told it would make us look more professional in the eyes of an agent. Now, meh.

Heather: It's almost criminal. I have a friend who made a very nice advance, but after it was chopped up into three payments, she would've made more working at McDonalds. Yet publishers make you feel as if they did you a favor.


Darke Conteur said...

I am more excited than ever! Sure, my paranormal series is SP, but I'm going to try Indie with my Gothic romance.

Suzanne Brandyn said...

Hi Maria,
I agee on the hype for the conference. It's the same here in Oz. I seem to be the only one jumping up and down. It's less than three weeks, so perhaps it's a bit early.

I also agree on the selfpublishing. I have been thinking about it as well, as I know two of my next manuscripts are far better than any I have written. I'll keep hiting the agents and pubs especially at the conf and I will see what happens next year.

One thing I will make sure that I have a professional editor to go over them in line detail, and have at least three readers to pick out anything that stands out at them as not quite right.

I think it would be exciting venture and well worth the marketing. :)

Jenny Schwartz said...

I love my little hermit-writing-cave. It's snug and warm and no one argues with me -- yeah, it's that last point that underlines why I need a community. Not just the sheer joy of being with people who share my fascination with the writing craft and understand the turmoil of publishing ... but whether I want them to or not, they challenge my ideas on both. See, on the net (and google's searches only deepen this) it's really easy to see/read only what confirms your beliefs/prejudices. Joining RWAustralia hauled me (kicking, screaming and -- I hope not -- biting) into a community that made me welcome, but also made me stop and think, then re-think.

All of that said ... it's time for the disclosure statement :)

Although I've only been a RWAustralia member a couple of years, this year I'm organising their online conference. It's free for members and it's (hopefully) going to be informative, motivational and fun. So you can see, this is the year when I think conferences are awesome -- because I'm totally invested in creating that sort of buzzing community event :)

Maria Zannini said...

Darke: Trad publishing never saw it coming.

Suzanne: Last year and more so the year before that there were scads of online groups offering tea and sympathy (and alternatives) for those not going to the con. This year it's almost silent. I almost forgot the con was kicking off except for the occasional blog posts from a few friends.

Jenny: Nobody can build community like RWA. And they hold the best cons of ANY organization I know. It's just too expensive for me--at least it is here.

Good luck on your blitz! It sounds amazing.

Shelley Munro said...

I'll admit I haven't done any self publishing yet, but I will at some stage. The thing that worries me is making my books stand out from all the other books, both trad & self-pub. I expect every author is worried about the same thing. Competition is pretty fierce these days.

Maria Zannini said...

Shelley: Ah, that's the other elephant in the room and in need of its own blog post.

I read an article on a non-writing blog urging readers to go ahead and publish the stories in their heads. It's not bad enough that there are genuine writers (not read for prime time) publishing, but now there are the Joes and Janes of the world rushing in too.

This is one reason I'm not in a big hurry to publish my other 'frugal' books.

If I were to put on my swami hat, I'd predict it'll be another two years before the majority of dilettantes tire of the work involved in self-publishing.

There'll still be new faces here and there, but we need to wait for the crush of the less serious to wane.

Excellent point.

Jennifer Shirk said...

Well, I do think RWA and the agent thing is not what it used to be, but I still wanted to go to Nationals. It was great for Networking and getting inspired and meeting up with friends. I did learn a few things. :-)
Haven't decided on the self-pubbing route yet. I'm always the last to jump on any bandwagon for some reason. LOL

Maria Zannini said...

Jennifer: You're already established so I think you'd be fine either way with the indie route.

I love the RWA cons, I really do, but it's just too big a chunk out of my pocketbook. When it was in Dallas I could justify it because I didn't need lodging. Otherwise I would never have known how awesome it was. Of all the cons I've attended, RWA's was the best.

Nadja Notariani said...

I published from the start as an Indie-Author, so I've no personal experience with either traditional publishers or e-pub houses. I have, however, heard some nightmare stories...

The decision was the right one for me. I retain complete rights to my works, set my own prices, promote as I see fit, and work at my own pace. It's been quite the learning experience! Aside from the initial stress of learning how to format for the different venues (Smashwords, Amazon, etc), I've enjoyed fairly easy sailing. I was fortunate enough to have some wonderful authors give me tips on how to 'type' my document in correct format in the first place. (Don't ever return your carriage more than twice, insert page breaks via tools, 12 New Times Roman, use tools to insert any characters, 1" margins, etc. etc.) It provided me a good start to avoid problems ... I'm sort of a computer idiot (although I've become more and more 'in-the-know' as I read around the blogs and try my hand at new things)

As for paying large (to me) sums to be included in a certain organization...I haven't been able to justify the expense in relation to the benefits. This may or may not change as I publish more works. For now, I rely on reader recommendations and reviews. It's a good place to be at the moment. :}

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I'm cautiously optimistic at the path of publishing. I'm not of the role of agents anymore and don't even try to get one.

Shirley Wells said...

As you say in the comments, Maria, everything isn't always as it seems with the so-called 'good' publishers.

If my get up and go hadn't got up and gone, I'd self-publish for sure. The problem is, I know I'd be hopeless at the business/marketing side of stuff. I love the writing but hate the rest of it.

I agree that people don't seem to be jumping up and down about the RWA conf. Times are changing.

Maria Zannini said...

Nadja: When I worked in corporate America the cost wasn't a big deal, but now that Greg is nearly retired, I count every penny.

Susan: I'm always careful when I talk about agents. It's still on so many people's wish list, but I just can't see me forking over a percentage of a measly advance. Unless we're talking six figures delivered in the same year, they're not doing me any favors.

Shirley: Heh. I'll bet you already learned what I did. I won't make the same mistake again.

I was telling a friend of mine that there used to be a couple dozen people blogging about the event with extraordinary coverage. This year I only have one person on my radar blogging about RWA.

Mike Keyton said...

An interesting post in terms of putting a damp finger in the air and testing the wind. The comments added even more to the whole. And yes, it gets me thinking. Mind you Nadja's comments about the formatting process gave me the creeps because my manuscripts probably break all the rules in 'formatting'. Writing is compulsive, but tidying up unthought out formatting, never mind marketing... Hmm, time for another 'damp finger' : )

Maria Zannini said...

Mike: The comments are the best part of this blog. :o) I really enjoy hearing more than one viewpoint.

Ref: formatting
:sigh: I'll hold your hand. It looks hard until you break it down into steps.