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Writing as a Career Share writing techniques, publishing knowledge and opportunities, and more!

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Old 05-23-16, 09:30 PM   #1
azteclady
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A few basic tools for writers

There are many, many resources for writers who want to make a career of their writing, and while some of them are time consuming, one has to consider that the price of not doing proper research may be very high indeed.

Back in 2014, I mentioned that one of the largest digital fiction publishers, Ellora's Cave, had sued a blog for reporting on their difficulties. The suit was settled just over a year later, but there still are dozens of authors reporting that they have not been paid royalties for periods ranging from six months to a full year. (You can follow #notchilled on twitter for individual reports on current shenanigans, or check Deirdre Saoirse Moen's blog for periodic updates)

The thing is, as crazy as that would seem (a publisher suing a blogger for compiling publicly available records?), it's not only digital only/digital first publishers that may go kaboom! leaving authors' rights stranded in no-man's land, or become part of a bankruptcy case. Case in point: Dorchester Publishing.

There are plenty of horror stories from authors signing terrible contracts with established, solvent, and otherwise successful publishers (Harlequin, arguably the largest and most profitable publisher in the world, is settling a class action over underpayment of royalties, in a manner that still does not make the authors 'whole' (the proposed settlement covers tens of years of underpayment, and includes the plaintiffs' legal costs, which translates to pennies per book))

So really, if as a writer, you want a successful, profitable career, then spending a few weeks researching publishers, agents, and the market, seems like a necessary step, rather than a burden, no?

So here's a short list of resources:

Preditors and Editors

Absolute Write - Bewares and Recommendations

#PubLaw

Good luck!
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Old 06-28-16, 02:00 PM   #2
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Re: A few basic tools for writers

So, writers may say, that's okay, I'll selfpublish.

Which is a very valid option, if you are willing to put in the work necessary--Courtney Milan, or (for those allergic to romance cooties), J. A. Konrad, have successful self-publishing careers.

There are still plenty of pitfalls ahead of these authors, in their quest to make an actual living out of their writing.

Here's how a non-fiction writer lost $6,500, and squandered an opportunity to make a true splash on release week, to a scammer who promised to launch her book.

Pay attention to some of the details she mentions: paying by check, and in advance? HUGE red flags.

Not every one is a social media expert, and it's probably not essential for the author herself to become one, but independent research on a service provider is essential. Pretty much anyone could write an impressive list of references and testimonials, but unless you, the person paying for the service, do your independent research, and contact all these people, you are still putting your career in unknown hands.

On self publishing: speaking of Konrath, he is very gung-ho about The One True Way (see his Newbie's Guide to Publishing here), and his way may indeed work for you. But it's important to keep in mind that your career is your own, your audience is your own, and that success is neither guaranteed if you faithfully follow in his footsteps, nor flatly out of reach if you do your own thing.
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Old 06-28-16, 09:14 PM   #3
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Re: A few basic tools for writers

Also, be wary of publishing houses, or agents, who passive-aggresively berate you for being cautious and careful. (Sample)
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Old 12-29-16, 06:38 AM   #4
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Re: A few basic tools for writers

Another one that hadn't occurred to me, but (hindsight being what it is) that definitely should have been front and center: should you chose to self-publish, be careful how you distribute your books.

Authors signing with amazon's self-publishing what ever (Montlake?) basically give away their right to sell elsewhere--and authors who chose smaller distributors for their ebooks can find themselves in the hole for thousands of dollars, even when they go for relatively well known and well respected outfits.

Such as, All Romance eBooks, which just announced, via email (still nothing on their site, apparently), that they are closing in three days, and asking their authors to sign off ALL income from the last quarter of 2016, and readers to write off any in-store credit they don't manage to spend before closing.

Keep in mind: any monies spend at ARe in the next 70 hours or so, WILL NOT benefit the authors. ARe's principals want to avoid bankruptcy, and are willing to, basically, steal money from the authors who signed with them.

Writer, beware.

I cannot emphasize this enough: if you actually want to make money off your writing--which is work, yo!--keep an eye on what's going on. Research done three years ago (hell, three days ago!), will not cover your ass, and will not protect you and your intellectual property, tomorrow.

Also, readers who keep their libraries of books purchased at ARe over the many years (a decade, I believe?) they've been in business, through ARe's app, may lose all their titles.

Consumer, beware.
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Old 12-29-16, 03:01 PM   #5
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Re: A few basic tools for writers

Another resource that's very much worth the time and effort to read and follow is Writer Beware. It's sponsored by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and by the Mystery Writers of America, but it's out there for readers and writers from anywhere around the country, freely offered, scrupulously maintained.
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Old 12-30-16, 02:39 AM   #6
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Re: A few basic tools for writers

Az, you rock!!!

I forgot about this thread, but it is full of helpful stuff. And the stories curl my toes...
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Old 12-30-16, 02:58 AM   #7
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Re: A few basic tools for writers

My pub distributed through All Romance, and we are being affected
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Old 12-31-16, 12:25 AM   #8
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Re: A few basic tools for writers

Thank you for saying that, frogge, but I really just try to signal-boost when I can.

cat, I know that there are a number of self-published authors, and smaller publishers, who created a facebook group (private, I believe) to discuss legal action against ARe and its owner, Lori James. In your shoes, I would ask your publisher if they are aware and participating.

Also, a member of the board of directors of Romance Writers of America, just posted an update (tweet) on that organization's position in regards to ARe's thievery:
Lori James called RWA's office and spoke to Allison Kelley, at length, on 12/29. After considering the explanation that Ms James offered, RWA stands by the statement that her actions were unconscionable.
(oh, SNAP!)

Also, here's Victoria Strauss' write up of the whole blasted mess, for the Writers Beware blog.
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Old 01-15-17, 10:32 PM   #9
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Re: A few basic tools for writers

Update on the ARe closing situation: a class action has been filed against All Romance eBooks and Lori James (owner). I'm going to be following this one with great interest myself.
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Old 04-18-17, 04:02 PM   #10
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Re: A few basic tools for writers

I'm floating this thread up again, with yet another tip: if you don't have a twitter or facebook account, get one, and follow every publisher, literary agent, magazine, and writer you admire.

Why?

Because in the years I've been following these people all over the internet, I've learned a lot about writing, submissions, finding agents, researching agents and publishers. And in the past five or six years, I've learned A LOT about self-publishing.

The kicker: As a nosy reader who just wants to know how things work, I've learned all this just by 'listening in' on conversations. I haven't actually have to ASK that many questions. Authors, and agents, and publishers, talk about writing and publishing ALL THE TIME, and they are happy to share what they know.

But you have to be there, and you have to put in the time. No one is going to hand things to you--there are literally thousands of 'you' out there, and while writers and agents and publishers are by and large a generous bunch, it's not their job to educate you, or do your research for you.

Why facebook? Because these days authors, particularly genre fiction authors, do most of their own marketing. Only BIG NAMES get a marketing budget from traditional publishers. Small publishers have an understandable smaller budget for all their authors and, being in business to make money, they give more to their bigger names. And if you self-publish, well. And say what you will about facebook, it has a huge reach.

Why twitter? Because writers and agents and publishers are on twitter, and they often do really neat things on twitter, on the spurt of the moment. Just yesterday, Ann Aguirre gave away--no strings tied--5 Alpha Smart to the first five writers (published or not) who @ her. Today, Myke Cole is giving away digital copies of later books in his SFF/military series, honor system. Also today, for three hours, Carina Press is holding a 'virtual spotlight' (quick and dirty: a publisher spotlight tells you what the publisher is buying, general submission guidelines, general contract terms, wait time, and so on and so forth), and they reminded people just now.

/stepping off soapbox.


Good luck!
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