Friday, January 29, 2010
Holy Moly! It's a Fight!
Here's the details as I know then now. FYI: Things may change as this is ongoing.
1. Wednesday (Jan 27) Apple introduced its iPad. This touchpad computing device does a bunch of stuff. For this issue, you need to know it includes iBook -- kind of like iTunes for books -- and Apple's answer to the Amazon Kindle. Reader and writer types noticed right away that the book prices were pretty high. $14.99. For the most part Amazon sells Kindle books for $9.99 and below. They take a loss on books for which the publisher actually charges more.
2. Soon after the iPad announcement, video surfaced of computer techno-maven Walt Mossberg speaking with Steve Jobs. They talked about books and their pricing vis-a-via the Kindle and Steve Jobs told Mossberg that "They will be the same."
Now that's interesting, I thought when I saw that clip. How does Steve know that? Does that mean they're lowering their price to match the Kindle? (I am at times sadly naive.)
3. The CEO of MacMillan Books has said some pretty uninformed stuff about eBooks, mostly about the price Amazon is charging. The basic issue is that hardcover books, as you probably have noticed, cost a lot more than $9.99 which is what the Kindle version of the hardcover costs. Hardcovers are VERY profitable for publishers. Mass Market Paperbacks (MMP) are not as profitable, don't cost as much and sell in far greater numbers, excluding the odd blockbuster everyone buys in hardback because they just can't wait.
4.MacMillan, in particular, has been very vocal about this. They, and other publishers have done things like publish in hardback but delay the availability of the Kindle version because they don't want to loose a hardback sale to a (cheaper) Kindle sale.
5. Today, Amazon pulled the Buy Now button from all MacMillan titles. This includes Tor and St. Martin's Press, by the way. This means you can no longer buy these books at Amazon unless you want to buy them used and that means NO money going to the author.
Here are the links to check out:
- Amazon Pulls MacMillan Books Over eBook Price Disagreement - NYT This article is pretty sketchy as to detail.
- Jane over at Dear Author has done a much better job than the NYT: Game On, MacMillan pulls the Kindle Books and Amazon Removes the Buy Button
- Authors, as is so often the case, are getting screwed right now. See John Scalzi MacMillan Books Gone Missing From Amazon. Scalzi writes for Tor, among other publishers. His books are now gone from Amazon.
- If you subscribe to Publishers Lunch, they have a decent but brief article.
- From Silicon Valley Insider: Steve Jobs Says Book Publishers Hate Amazon's Kindle reporting the Mossberg, Jobs exchange, which was filmed by another techno-maven, Kara Swisher. You can find the smoking clip at the SVI article.
- However, here it is from Swisher's report at Boom Town if you want to check out the original posting.
- And here's a grand irony from Reuters: Books a must-have even in sluggish economy: poll
My Take on This
There are several things wrong with this. The first is the assumption that but for the availability of the Kindle version, book buyers would buy the hardback. This appears to be an egregiously wrong assumption. There is, to my knowledge, no evidence that a Kindle owner would be a hardback buyer if she didn't own a Kindle.
I think it's much more likely that a Kindle owner, if she didn't have the device, would wait for the MMP rather than buy the hardback. The MMP would be priced at $7-8. But the Kindle owner, instead of waiting for the MMP, pays a bit more for the book right now. Instead of waiting. By the time the MMP comes out, she's not going to want to pay $9.99. So what's actually happening is the Kindle buyers represent BRAND NEW customers with respect to this release. MORE people buy this brand new book because there are two formats. And the cheaper one comes with some well known and much hated limitations.
But anyway, that's what the publishers are thinking. They think this because they haven't informed themselves about the changing landscape of book buying. (which is different from the changing landscape of book SELLING) They are not only technophobes, they are techno-idiots. They don't understand the digital world and they don't understand the people in it. Instead, they're running around yelling The sky is falling instead of listening to the consumer, some of whom are NEW consumers, tell them what they want.
Instead, they're trying to force consumers, who are new and/or different than they used to be, to behave in the comfortable way that matches the spreadsheets they've already got. Which are about selling something these consumers would rather not buy in the manner it's being sold to them.
Publishers need to hire someone who actually understands technology. Someone who grew up with it or enthusiastically threw themselves into it when the world changed. And it did, people, it did. And then they need to actually LISTEN to that person. Any C-Level employee who didn't personally take a look at Twitter when the buzz started is automatically disqualified from this position.
That's my personal line in the sand, by the way. If you weren't curious to know what Ev was doing over there, you're not the right person to help lead Publishers out of the Analog world. If you don't know who Ev is, you're really not the right person.
FYI: Ev is the person who started Blogger. After Google bought Blogger, Ev went off and tried a couple things that were neat but not neat enough. Then he did Twitter with some buds. Blogger, by the way, does not look significantly different than it did shortly before Ev left Blogger (post acquisition). There was one big upgrade, then Ev left.
- Stop wishing this digital stuff would just go away. It won't.
- Believe in your heart, because it's true, that pissing off your customers is not a sound business practice.
- Start listening to what READERS want.
- Forget territorial rights. They are now only a fiction. (heh) Concentrate on translation rights for your eBooks. If someone in Singapore reads English well enough to prefer buying books in English, let them. If I decide I want to buy a book in French, even though I live in California, let me. You will sell more books that way.
- Do some fucking research about piracy. Fund it if you have to. Pick an academic to do the work. Get some real data instead of the fake data, knee jerk assumptions you're using.
- Listen to your tech person about how to get people to buy legally. Oh hell, I'll just tell you now:
- Make it easy
- Don't rip me off
- Don't break my shit doing it.
- Keep in mind that you sell stories. Authors write them. If we have to, we'll write them without you. Your (fiction) business goes away without the stories.
Thanks for the comments. I appreciate people weighing in on the issue. I thought I should clarify a few things.
First, I don't write for MacMillan, so my books are still on Amazon. I write for Berkley (Penguin Putnam) and Grand Central (Hachette Books) I do, however, read lots of authors who do write for MacMillan.
Also, I have the Kindle app on my iPhone and have purchased and read a lot of books that way, including books from MacMillan. I also read books on Stanza, another iPhone app, because the Kindle isn't always the best way to go. Especially when my author friends send me their books to read before they're published (Oh, I am so lucky!)
At Christmas, I bought my 82 year old mother a Kindle. She and my dad have both read books on it. I loaded it up with free books and helped my mother buy a book she was interested in reading.
So, that said, this post is not about DRM (Digital Rights Management). I happen to think it's a mistake, particularly as DRM is typically implemented. So far, in my opinion, DRM does far more harm than good because it breaks stuff for the consumer.
This post also isn't about piracy. I've posted about that a few times on this blog. My books have been pirated. What frosts me about that is the people who pirate my books and then sell them. Yeah. They steal my stuff and then sell what they stole to other people. That is wrong. Other than that, there's only one person (Brian O'Leary) who is actually studying piracy with any rigor at all.
Therefore, my position on piracy is aside from the obvious issue of stealing, I don't know for sure yet.
Please don't think I am totally on the side of Amazon here. I'm not. I'm not a lawyer but I'm not clear on what agreements were made about pricing for iBook, the Kindle or anything else. Was there a smoke filled room and nefarious dealings? I don't know.
I think Amazon removing MacMillan from its site is pretty silly. They're screwing authors and readers to make a point with MacMillan and, probably, Apple. It's possible to view Amazon's pricing decision, and its $9.99 price point as predatory in effect. They know what publishers charge. They're willing to take a loss on these books in order to create a market at at price point less than publishers charge.
What happens when Amazon decides it doesn't want to take a loss any more? History suggests they won't be raising their price. History suggests they'll go to the publishers and say, hey, we won't carry your books unless you charge us less. Publishers have seen it before: from the big chains and from Wal-Mart. That's a fundamental change in the economic landscape. Price isn't set by the cost of the product + markup - what consumers will pay. Price gets set by the retailer and the seller has to suck it up or else. In MacMillan's defense, that's scary. But it doesn't excuse publishers lack of understanding.
Hopefully, I've been clear that I think publishers are making decisions based on misinformation and misunderstanding and that can just lead nowhere good.
And, as usual, let me say that in an emerging trend, the facts are fluid, not everything is known. All I can say is this is what I think so far, but I stand really and willing to hear more facts and opinions and change my mind accordingly.
posted by Carolyn @ 1/29/2010 09:27:00 PM Permalink
Sunday, October 04, 2009
Maybe you'll want to skip this post. Or not. Your Choice
There are times when choosing not to speak is a moral failure.
This is one of those times. I cannot stay silent. And I won't. If you choose to read this post, please consider your own opinion, the state of your knowledge of these events, and whether you can stay silent, whatever you think.
Probably most of you know that I have a book due Nov 1, which means I've had my head down working and not paying attention to much but writing.
So, it's been a few days since director Roman Polanksi was arrested in Switzerland, and yeah, I heard about that. But I kept working and didn't really think too much about it.
But over the last few days it's been impossible not to notice there was something more going on.
Oh, the French are all mad. The French are always saying something about Americans so I didn't pay much attention to that either.
But then there was more. To be honest, I didn't believe the first twitter reports (which these days seems to be where I get my first clue that something I need to pay attention to is going on) about the statements in support of Polanski.
But I clicked around the web and read articles, op-eds and blogs. I read articles in the newspaper. And then I went over to The Smoking Gun and I read the Grand Jury testimony of the 13 year old victim. If you have doubts about Polanksi's culpability, I suggest you read that testimony.
Here's what happened. This 13 year old girl's mother took her to meet Roman Polanski so he could take some pictures of her daughter outside. The mother left her there. Alone.
Polanski took pictures of the girl outdoors and some of the shots were topless. She was not comfortable with this, but her mother was not there.
Because the light was fading, he then asked her if she wanted to go to Jack Nickolson's house to take additional pictures. They went there, and she called her mother for permission to stay there and obtained it.
There was a woman present, who either left, or vacated the part of the house where Polanksi was. Once she was gone, Polanski and this girl appear to have been there alone.
He gave her a glass of champagne and took photos of her drinking the champagne. She testified that she continued drinking champagne because he wanted her to for the photos. More of them were topless. And then just in her panties.
He got her into the jacuzzi but when he started touching her, she got out.
She went back inside and got dressed.
Then he gave her half a quaalude.
Where he then removed her clothes and performed oral sex on her even though she said no. More than once.
He asked to put his penis in her and she said no. More than once. He did anyway.
While he was doing this, he asked her when she had her last period. She said she wasn't sure. And he said he didn't believe her. When she told him she thought it might have been a couple of weeks, he asked if he wanted her to go in the back way. She said no. More than once. He did anyway because he didn't want to come in her vagina. (If she's mid-cycle, then she was probably fertile. Draw your own conclusions about why he asked.)
There were multiple times when she told him no.
A woman came to the door, knocked and asked what was going on in there. (You might want to think about that, too.)
She wanted to go home and eventually she went outside by herself and sat in the car. Because there was no one but Polanski to take her home.
You tell me. Does this sound like a seduction to you? She was 13. Polanski understood, and saw with his own eyes and ears, that her mother needed to drive this girl to meet him. He understood that this girl needed to call her mother for permission to go elsewhere than the original meeting place. He knew that she had no way to get home without him.
Do you believe for even a minute he didn't know exactly how old she was?
Do you believe for even a minute that if somehow he didn't know her exact age that there wasn't ample evidence that she was too young to consent? Or that, later, she wasn't in any condition to consent even if she happened to be 21?
He gave her alcohol and told her to keep drinking because of the photos he wanted to take. He gave her drugs.
He heard her say no multiple times. And he had oral, vaginal and anal sex with her anyway.
Her mother left her 13 year old daughter alone with a famous 43 year old man who was in a position to put her daughter into movies.
Do you honestly think he didn't understand he was taking advantage of his power and position?
To everyone who has blamed a 13 year girl for what happened to her or who has excused Polanski because he's rich and famous and talented, for shame. You are adults and you should know better.
It's not rape-rape? Whoopi Goldberg, I tell you right now, bullshit. I hope what you said was based more on your support of Polanski than any real belief you hold about rape and violence against girls. Oh, and women, too. And I hope you've had time to think about what that says about you as a person.
I'm really sorry a man other people admire creatively is a rapist, but no amount of talent or brilliance excuses what he did. None.
I really thought we'd moved past the days when we blamed women for the violence committed against them. I really did. I didn't think anyone in America today could stand up and blame a 13 year old girl for the actions of a 43 year old man who gave her alcohol and drugs before he got around to having sex with her -- because, damn, she kept saying no!
posted by Carolyn @ 10/04/2009 07:14:00 PM Permalink
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
Rant Alert! Authors should work for free??
M.J. Rose recently argued that publishers should consider altering the current payment scheme for authors, given that authors are now expected to promote on their own dime. She has an interesting idea and I see some merit to it. But it's the Galley Gat comments here that have me all worked up.
Marvin11 writes this:
Sorry lljm, but I have to disagree. Writers should in no way make more money. Sure, I get that they work hard to produce their art, but if its something they love, they should get satisfaction simply out of it getting published and put out to the public. In addition, in my personal opinion, I think that writer make MORE than enough money. Yes, publishers do make money off of the writer's creation, but they do their fair share as well. All and all, I would have to be against an increase in author royalties and advances.
Marvin11, you do not understand how little authors make. Last I heard, the average author makes $5,000 a year. Yet, you think writers make more than enough money. In what universe is that? Because 97% of writers can't support themselves on their writing. I can't. Like most authors, I have a day job. So, wow, I just can't figure why you think authors make more than enough money. How much is enough to you? And FYI, advances are trending down.
And PeterKing, why the heck should I write for free just because I love writing? Are you saying that if I hated writing, it's OK to pay me? Because, actually, a lot of times I feel like I hate writing. It's hard work. Really really hard work.
As another commenter pointed out, there's a disconnect there. Are you suggesting that anyone who loves their job should work for free -- and, of course, have to take a day job to support themselves while they're doing medicine, say, for free? Or is it only writers who should labor for pure love of art?
Let me assure you, PeterKing, that writing a book IS a full time job. We give up a lot in order to produce books others love to read. And we do it while working full time and raising families. We have, in effect, two full time jobs. (And if we're women, as most authors are, we have three full time jobs.) How many jobs do you hold down?
Those of us lucky enough not to need the day job work at writing full time. Have you stopped to think that if authors didn't get paid for their hard work there would be nothing you'd care to read? Because I think a lot of us would go back to deadline-free writing--- just think of the reduction in stress! ---that does not require promotion money out of our own pockets. The work would be shared only with a few friends and family. Or maybe no one at all. And you, as you note, would be stuck with the self-published POD you seem to hate.
You know, at my day job, I am not expected to provide my own computer or help subsidize the cost of the office space and supplies. My employer bears that cost. Some of you may recall the days when huge companies charged employees for their living space so that at every payday, their workers owed them money. That was recognized for the slavery that it was and companies can't do that anymore.
I'm not a serf just because I'm a writer good enough to get published.
And, frankly, publishers are well aware of this. No publisher that I know of expects their authors to hand over their work for no compensation. Because then they wouldn't have any authors to publish and their business model becomes non-existent.
Publishers take on the cost of printing and distributing the books they buy from authors. There's a lot involved in that, believe me, authors know. But authors also know that without our stories, there's nothing to publish. It's not a bad relationship, to be honest. We need their distribution, editing and lovely covers. And marketing when we can get it.
But let's not take the current challenges facing traditional publishers and blame it all on greedy authors. Please.
posted by Carolyn @ 9/02/2009 07:14:00 PM Permalink
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Rant Alert! (Not On the Subject of Writing)
My father has a cell phone. I doubt he makes or receives more than five calls a month on it. But he likes having it with him when he goes into town. He's been on AT&T for quite a long time and his phone is now giving up the ghost. The battery needs to be recharged every day. No problem, I said! You're probably eligible for a free phone by now anyway. I'll take care of getting you a new phone.
Today, I looked. Now, his current plan is $22 a month give or take. He's actually looked around for other phone plans, including pay as you go. He loves doing that. When he's done looking for deals (for whatever) he tells me what he wants and I take care of it. He can't find a phone plan that offers a phone at less than he's paying now AND that he can actually use, with his reduced dexterity. So, he figures, why switch? But now he needs a new phone.
Right. So I looked and AT&T had 3 phones they were willing to offer free with a 2 yr sign up. One was just too ugly to bear, the other was a horrible red and too small, but the other looked half way decent and also like he'd be able to use it. Cool!
I put it in the shopping cart and then found out that the cheapest service was $39.99 per month. WTF? Almost twice what he's paying now?
I called up AT&T and repeated my basic question, only nicer. The nice man at AT&T said, We have a senior plan. Well, yay, I'm thinking. How much is the senior plan? $29.99 per month.
WTF? What kind of senior plan is that?
(Note, it's never good when you're thinking WTF multiple times while Customer Service is servicing you.)
About now I'm thinking I can just take the SIM out his phone, stick it in my old RAZR and keep him on his current plan and to heck with their stupid senior plan. The downside to that idea is that my RAZR is pink. Now, my father wouldn't care about a pink phone. He would wear fluffy bunny pants if he got them on super sale and be proud of the money he saved. This is why we never let him leave the house without checking to see if his clothes have extra ventilation. Holes don't bother him (never have!) if the shirt still buttons or the pants mostly zip. (A life long issue for him.)
But then I have a brilliant idea. Port his phone number to my AT&T family plan and pay only $9.99 a month. So we go through the whole transfer thing, get permission from my mother (complicated story, but FYI, be careful what credit card you use to set up your phone service, apparently the card holder is tied forever and ever to that account and nothing can ever change this.) Now, my mother is essentially deaf but I put my trusty iPhone on speaker, crank up the volume and let her talk to the AT&T guy and we get permission to port the account to my plan.
I was on hold a really long time waiting for the Transfer Team and finally the nice man comes back and says, there's a long wait, here's their direct line just in case, but please continue holding. I say, Okay and thanks!
And then he disconnects me.
That's it. I really can't talk about it any more. I'll call back Monday and pray for strength.
posted by Carolyn @ 8/15/2009 06:51:00 PM Permalink
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Rant Alert! R E S P E C T - Have a little why don't you?
How many of you are pantsers? [Pause] You're making the biggest mistake of your lives. Just gonna start with that. And if you are a pantser, what you need to do in terms of brainstorming is find somebody that's going to help you do the 42 drafts of the book you're going to have to write because you didn't plan it out in the beginning. Pantsers invariably have a harder time of it because they have to do draft upon draft upon draft and then revision upon revision upon revision. My suggestion would be: plot your book. It's a little faster that way.
When she was finished unloading on pantsers1, my first response was along the lines of F.U. only without the acronym.
I think it's safe to assume that this woman is not a pantser.
This isn't the first time I've heard a writer who works on the plotting side of the spectrum make such statements about pantsers. I don't know where these particular folks are getting their facts. I suspect that they're making an inference based on their results. They're plotters so pantsing doesn't work for them and, therefore, they ended up doing all those drafts and revisions because their writing style isn't suited to seat of the pants writing. Or maybe they just don't see the value in revision as a method.
The problem with her pronouncement isn't just that she's wrong in just about every way. I happen to know she's wrong because I am, myself, a pantser. Not only is she wrong, but she certainly gives the appearance of being inflexible and close minded to the possibility that there is more than one way to end up with a publishable novel. She was disrespectful to every single writer for whom plotting does not work.
Let me state for the record that I have no problem with plotters or anyone who needs more structure in their writing process than I do. Hey, if it works for you, AMEN sister. I applaud you for discovering for you what gets the job done -- for you. And I will never tell you that you need to give up your charts and outlines.
The only thing that matters is that a writer discovers what works for her. And that she respect what other writers have discovered about what they need to do to write.
By all means, offer and explain your process, especially to writers who haven't reached a working process. I suspect we're all looking for ways to improve and be more efficient. But don't make the mistake of believing your way is the only one that works and that all other methods are mistakes. That's insulting. And it closes your mind to things that might actually help you.
A little later in the presentation, this person remarks on the empty seats and says, All the pantsers have left.
Gee. I wonder why? Because maybe they were depressed and disheartened to hear they were wrong even though they may well have been struggling with plotting or perhaps even suppressing their seat of the pants tendencies because of wrong-headed claims like this. Or maybe they figured there was no point in listening to someone so close minded, because I assure you, at least some of those pantsers knew she was wrong.
She lost the opportunity to let curious and inquiring writers learn about another approach, parts of which may actually have been useful. I know if I'd been at the workshop, I'd have walked out too. Life is too short to sit around listening to someone tell me that I'm doing it wrong. Because, you know, the evidence suggests that I'm not doing it wrong. But neither is she, and therein lies the respect she lacked for others.
I respect her process. It works for her. Just for fun, let's examine those disrespectful and incorrect statements from the point of view of a pantser:
- Even if I were to write 42 drafts, I don't need help writing them, thank you very much. But I don't write 42 drafts. I actually usually have only one draft but I revise the living hell out of it until it's not a draft anymore.
- I don't have a harder time because I'm a pantser. But I sure as hell had a harder time when I was trying to plot in advance.
- I write my books in about 4 months. Now, I prefer to have more time, but so far I keep ending up with 4-5 month deadlines. And I meet those deadlines, pantsing the whole way.
I don't think there's a reader or editor in the world who cares about an author's process. They care about the finished product and whether it's any good. I also don't believe it's possible to tell from the finished product whether the author was a plotter or a pantser or something in between or even neither of those things.
How Plotting Failed For Me
Don't think I haven't tried plotting. I have. I really, really tried. Between 1989 and 1991 I wrote and published two books and I wrote them totally by the seat of my pants because I didn't know how else to write. Or that, apparently, I was making the biggest mistake of my life.
From 1991 to 2002, I was unpublished. Why? Because I was trying to plot. At one point, I had a 50+ page outline (for my doorstop book). I wrote long character bios and filled out GMC charts and made lists and kept spreadsheets, and whenever my writing deviated from my master plan, I killed that dead and stuck to my plan.
Let me repeat the really important statement: During the period I was doing all the things plotters do, I was and remained unpublished.
Finally, I reached a point where I had to decide whether to give up writing -- because eleven years is a long time to fail at something. But I didn't want to stop writing. I wonder what would have happened to me if I'd heard that anti-pantsing statement at this point in my writing life? Because you know what I did?
I thought long and hard about the difference between what I was doing all that long and unpublished time and what I had been doing when I wrote two published books. And the difference between the two was that before, I followed my instincts. I looked at what was happening on the pages and went with that instead of what I'd plotted in advance.
Sure, I had outlines so I could keep track, but they were short. And when I read something in my work and had an inspiration about what was really going on in my book, I followed my instinct. To hell with my outline.
So I took my WIP and I tore that thing apart. I let go of all that advance plotting and I followed my instincts. I followed the thread of story that was interesting and unexpected and I deleted the stuff that wasn't. I wrote in a kind of fugue state where I just fucking put the passion down on the page and flew without a net. And guess what?
Six weeks after I finished, the book sold.
I am a pantser. I can advance plot until the cows come home and it won't help me. In fact, I know it will kill my story dead. I know it for a fact. Every book I have written since then has been seat of the pants. I have figured out the level of advance work I need to do, which, no surprise, tends to be minimal -- but not none. I don't plan more than three chapters ahead.
Right now, in my current project, I've been brainstorming and doing what if scenarios and keeping track of who's who, what they look like and keeping a skeleton outline. Two days ago I started working on chapter 1 again (to refresh after RWA and ComiCon) and my heroine lost her ability to see. The words just ended up on the page. At that point, I was 14 chapters into the book -- about 27,000 words. Early going.
I know, because I now pay close attention to such things, that this development deserved some thought. And I also know that her loss of vision never once came up in any of my advance work. I also know that I'd just hit on a very powerful theme for my story. And I'm now working it, layering and complexifying what it means for my heroine. As this theme develops, I will learn whether the loss of vision is permanent. I suspect it's transitory in nature. I don't need to work that out yet because the questions will resolve themselves as I develop what I have and forge ahead with more chapters.
I highly recommend that writers read Freud's Introductory Lectures for a fascinating discussion and analysis of the role and function of the subconscious. It's a far cry, by the way, from his suggestion that women have penis envy.
As for me, I don't care if someone gets at the subconscious meanings of their stories before they've written a word or if they find it while they're writing. What I do care about is whether others have respect for a process that isn't theirs.
1. Panster: Someone who writes by the seat of her pants, that is, with minimal outlining and advance plotting. As opposed to a plotter, who does a good deal of plotting before the book gets written.
posted by Carolyn @ 7/29/2009 05:16:00 PM Permalink
Saturday, November 01, 2008
Rant Alert! Authors Gone Mad
Yes, she did say that. And it's actually worse than SciFi Guy makes out.
A few things. SciFi Guy is in Canada, which has certainly had some different intellectual property case law than the US lately. But IANAL2 so I'll leave the whole mess about whose IP laws would apply to someone who is. For the purposes of this rant, that actually doesn't matter. I'm pretty sure, though, that an author doesn't get to pick how she'd like the law to be applied.
Now, I totally understand about spoilers. But spoilers happen in regular conversations, too. Really. People stand around and talk about Harry Potter in front of people who haven't read it and WTF! Cedric dies? And what do you mean Dumbledore's gay? If your mission in life is to prevent spoilers, I feel sorry for you because number effing one is that most authors think stuff is a spoiler when any reasonably smart person is going to see it coming anyway. And if your book is really good, no one's going to care. Seriously. I laughed, really, I did when I read that she justified the policy as a means of preventing spoilers. Let's apply some intellectual rigor to that.
What does a fair use (or not) quotation have to do with a spoiler? Spoilers can happen even in reviews (professional or not) that do not quote a single word of text. Most reviews don't contain quotes anyway. And how likely is it that an included quotation is going to have the spoiler. Not bloody likely. Watch me do it right before your eyes:
Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire is a long, wonderful addition to Rowland's saga of the boy wizard. The death of Cedric Diggory is the point at which we realize that the Wizarding world is taking a dark turn.
See? Woe to anyone who hasn't read this book yet. And I did it without quoting a single word from the text. Any discussion of a book, oral, written, via email, in the newspaper, in a magazine or on the internet can contain spoilers. Want to see a lot of spoilers? Go check Amazon reviews. They abound and with no quoted excerpts. If you want to stop spoilers, you're better off refusing to have your book reviewed. That would stop the spoilers for sure.
Therefore, I think we can safely say that prohibiting quotations will have little to no effect on the possibly worthy goal of preventing spoilers.
And then there's the part about copying. My brain hurts from trying to make sense of that. People quote from a book and place that quote on the internet. That quote (fair use or not) may be copied by others and placed on their site(s). Suddenly, people all over the internet may be seeing this quote. OK. And? That's bad because? Some people go too far and somehow place a larger quote from her book on their unprofessional cheesy site and that goes viral too. Oh noes! Remember, she's talking about quotes, not pirating the whole damn book like Google did without asking me first. 3
The You can't quote from my books if you're an internet nobody has an even bigger peril in it besides just being silly and ineffectual. And that is, print reviews are disappearing faster than those dinosaurs smoking behind the boulder. Print reviews do not reach the masses of people the internet can and will reach. Today's nobody internet reviewer is tomorrow's Dear Author. Many of the big review services are behind paywalls. (Publishers Weekly, are you listening?) Or they have their internet sites structured in such a way that they lose a massive number of eyeballs. In fact, these Professional review sites can be exceedingly hard to find if you happen to be average Jo The Reader just looking for a good book to read.
Genre books appeal to an incredibly wide audience, from PhD wielding academicians to hourly wage workers like Jo the Reader. As an author, it behooves me not to forget that the individual fan who reads my book and LOVED it so much she posted about it on her blog or MySpace or some personal review site is probably one of those social hub types followed socially (pick any sense of the word you like) by other book readers. And even if there are only five people who visit her site, she may well persuade those 5 people to read my book.
SciFi Guy also complained about this author's website being structured in such a way that it was difficult, it not impossible, to deep link. To my mind, this may actually be the most damaging this author is doing to herself. Linking is the life and breath of the internet. More to the point it is the key to Google page rank. Making it hard to link to a website is going to hurt you more than just about anything. And don't think that a link to the home page is sufficient for all incoming links. It's not. People who click a link expect to end up on a page relevant to the reason for their click. When that doesn't happen, they will NOT BOTHER to search beyond the home page. They will click away.
But let me provide some damning proof of why no author should build her website this way:
I Googled the author in question to see for myself if she said that stuff. I gave up clicking the results after page 4. As far as Google is concerned this author's website probably exists somewhere deep in the search results. As far as readers looking for her, her website DOES NOT EXIST. I ended up going back to SciFi Guy and finding her website that way.
Now Google me. Carolyn Jewel. My website is the coveted number one result. People looking for me find me right away. But I also know that most people don't start at my home page. The most viewed section of my website is my section on tips for writers. Lots of people read my excerpt chapters, too. But people who are looking for writing tips google things like How to write a query letter and my website comes up on their google search. And they head directly there. To one of the pages about query letters. In fact, you are foolish indeed if you think people start at your home page and explore from there. That idea flies in the face of ALL research done on web surfing habits. I also know that people have bought my books after finding my website for non-book buying purposes. I get email about it from time to time (and I love you all, madly!)
I got a little fancier. I Googled the title of her totally awesome first book. On the first page of results is there any link to her website? Answer: No. Though you would at least find out who wrote it, and go buy it, but you sure wouldn't find her website.
Now Google my 2002 historical Lord Ruin. A link to my website is 3rd. I'd probably be number one but for the two words being so common. Her first book title you would expect to be highly selective for a search. (That is, the word is unusual and should return extremely relevant results, which it does. Just not to the author's website.) Despite the far lower selectivity of my book title, you not only find buy links to my book, you find my website. And let's face it, this author and this book are way more famous than any of my books or me, for that matter. I am (alas) not at all famous and cannot afford to have my website unfindable by Google.
Carolyn's Review and Quotation Rules
1. If you review one of my books, please do include quotes you feel are relevant to the point you're making, even if you hated the book (rats!) Please give me a link back (I'm easy to find via Google!) That would be pretty decent of you. Try to spell my name right, too. There's only one L in Jewel. C A R O L Y N J E W E L
Also double check the book title.
Post your review anywhere you want to.
Thank you and Happy Reviewing!
1. Disclosure, SciFi Guy wrote a really nice review of My Wicked Enemy and ended with a comment on my heroine that was dead on. I wondered about writing to him to say thank you for making me see that, but I didn't. Maybe I should.
2. I Am Not A Lawyer
3. But that's OK, the Author's Guild came to my rescue. Maybe. I don't know. But actually I'm not so worried about this. That's a whole 'nother post.
posted by Carolyn @ 11/01/2008 05:21:00 PM Permalink
Friday, October 10, 2008
Rant Alert - It's Double Down today!
Here, at Writer's Diary, I have an entirely NEW rant!
First off, I pay my parent's bills. So today, I see an AT&T notice confirming a change in service of the local toll and long distance carrier, for which, by the way, they are charging $1.57. I go, WTF?
So I called AT&T and gave them the polite version of WTF? and it seems somehow, mysteriously, the local toll and long distance was changed to a company whose name is, uhm, Evil Company That Rips off Senior Citizens. There is also a charge on their credit card for $47.72 from ECTRSC. $50 for long distance?
My parents call my brother in Santa Barbara sometimes, maybe once or month or so - because check it: my mom IM's with my brother all the time. (Only not right now, because, well, go read the GCP post.) Once or twice a year they might call some relatives in Oregon. All the other kids and relatives they still speak to are local. Not even a toll call.
WTF?? That's just so evil I can't stand it. My mother can't hear, and has been hearing impaired since she was 10 or so. Sometimes phone conversations with her are either hellaciously funny or frustrating. No one involved in the call as the same conversation. So I'm just guessing what probably happened.
Evilness people. Evilness. This, my friends, is what comes of deregulation. You cannot have a market that operates without any regulation because that just means all the cheats and liars lie and cheat with impunity.
I'm getting totally peeved right now. So -- deep breath.
In other news, I should be writing.
In other other news, Sabine, my heroine just got a really bad haircut and color. I'm just going with this dang story. Harems, rapacious pashas, Alexander The Great's defeat of Darius at the Gates of Syria, bad haircuts and cross-dressing. I tell you The Next Historical has it all.
posted by Carolyn @ 10/10/2008 05:50:00 PM Permalink
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
Still alive, mostly. Rant Alert, too. Sorry.
And, let's see, yesterday I tried to buy one of Harlequin's Spice Briefs (sorry, no URL I'm too tired to find it) because my awesome friend Alice Gaines wrote one and I seriously wanted to read it. I couldn't. I had no idea their e-commerce site was so awful. Wow. They're really not doing themselves any favors. Not only do they not take all types of payments (No PayPal? No Discover?? Huh?) but it doesn't work. Limited formats, too. But the part that got me frosted was the DRM. No Printing. What?? If I'd been able to complete the transaction (which I was not) I wouldn't be able to print it, stick it in my binder of ebook goodness and read in bed. OK, so that's pretty dumb, but I don't think your average buyer is going to print it out and then copy it for all their friends. But I get that HQN is dumb about this. Most trad publishers out there are about this. But there's also no reading aloud. WTF!??
So, I assume what they mean is if you're vision impaired and want to have your text reader read it for you, no go. How stupid and anti-Americans With Disabilities is that? Isn't that limitation illegal? That also means I wouldn't be able to invite five friends over and read the story to them. Why not? I can invite those same five friends over to watch a movie. That's not illegal yet. If I want to read a freaking book out loud to my friends, I can. What if I want to read out loud to myself? Like they could stop me. What about people who move their lips when they read? What if they accidentally whisper? Are the HQM DRM police going to come over and put them in jail? Can't we outlaw annoying cell phone conversations first?
In short, HQN has stupid and probably illegal DRM on their ebooks. They only offer three formats. There's about 10 people with Mobi readers. Wouldn't it have been smarter to turn down the marketing bucks from the Mobi people and offer more formats? AND they have a shopping cart application that is flat out broken. AND they only accept two methods of payment.
Ellora's Cave takes PayPal. They offer I think 5-6 formats. No DRM that I've ever seen. I print them out in a two pages per sheet small font, duplex and save them to read in bed. I've probably spent something approaching $100.00 of EC hotness. I have spent $0 on HQN. Which publisher do you think is laughing all the way to the bank?
And worst of all, I couldn't read Alice's story.
I'm tired. off to bed.
posted by Carolyn @ 4/09/2008 09:41:00 PM Permalink
Friday, March 07, 2008
This is just WRONG!!
So, how the effing Eff do you explain this?
Are those people at Kindle on crack? What the heck are they smoking over there?
Kindle Employee #1: Like, hey, Jane Austen lived a long time ago, right?
KE#1: And those Impressionist painters, they painted a long time ago, too, right?
KE3#: (Looking over shoulder of KE#1) Hey, Persuasion!! Isn't Captain Wentworth a dream? I just love me some sexy Royal Navy Officers.
KE#1: Who's Captain Wentworth?
KE#2: Royal Navy?
KE#1: The guy in this picture is wearing a straw hat! Awesome! All done.
This is just sacrilege.
posted by Carolyn @ 3/07/2008 07:10:00 PM Permalink