It’s conference season.
Not that you can’t find a conference or writing retreat any time of the year, but it seems to hit high gear in another month and run through the early fall. A writer can find any theme or genre from mystery to romance and from large to cozy and everything in between.
There are conferences designed for authors to mingle, network with editors and agents and learn their craft and just as many conferences designed to let them reach out to readers. If a writer has a need, there’s a conference out there to accomodate them.
But you know what? They’re expensive. And for me, not only is the travel difficult, but maneuvering around a conference with MS is such a pain. I’m an extrovert and love being around people, but it’s overshadowed by mobility issues. Conventions are so not my thing anymore.
But I worry I’m missing out.
Do editors and agents expect you to show up at these events? Am I missing opportunities to meet new readers if I don’t go to some of the reader conventions like Authors After Dark or Lori Foster’s Get Together (which I highly recommend) or even Romanticon (if you’re an erotic romance reader)? Are marketing opportunities passing me by if I don’t sit on panels?
I don’t know. But I’d love to hear what you think. As a reader are you more likely to buy books from an author you met at a convention or do you tend to only seek out authors you know? And what about you writers? Are there opportunities you’ve stumbled upon at conventions that you know you wouldn’t have found otherwise? Because you know me … I’m curious about this kind of stuff.
There are very few movies I wait anxiously to see in the theater. But this one … this book made into a movie that everyone is talking about … is one of those that I have been chomping at the bit to see since November when I watched the first part of Breaking Dawn (which I thought was sloooow and boring). Of course, since they’re thinking this story will fit the audience watching the Twilight series, they previewed “The Hunger Games”.
I had heard whisperings of this interesting book set in the future. And as I usually do I gave it a try. I could NOT put it down! Do I think you’ll like it? I don’t know. I loved Twilight but couldn’t get through the Harry Potter series. I didn’t finish The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, but read The Host in one sitting. What can I say? But this series I have to admit, I haven’t heard anyone who’s read them who didn’t enjoy them.
Here’s the BLURB:
In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, “The Hunger Games,” a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed.
I couldn’t help but wonder how the author Suzanne Collins was going to get this young girl to survive while 23 other teens died (some at her own hands) and not have her become a cold-hearted murderer. You know what? She did it. With wonderful mastery of writing, she managed to pull this story off and leave me wanting more.
The love story is a little schmaltzie (yes, that’s a real word 😉 ), but this is a story written for young adults, not a 50 year old woman who’s read her way through most of the romance section of the local library.
I’ve read a lot of wonderful books and usually have no desire to see the movie. But in this case I’ve become a squeeing fangirl. I was so jealous earlier this week when there was a premier somewhere. All kinds of people have gotten to see it before the official opening next Friday. I wanted to embed the trailer here, but Youtube wouldn’t let me. Click HERE to view the official movie trailer.
So what about you? Have you read the book(s)? Are you planning on seeing the movie? Does it interest you? Because you know me, I’m curious to know if I’m the only one anxiously awaiting the opening of this movie.
But here I am. And I’m loving it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard … really hard. But there’s nothing like the kick-in-the-pants feeling of joy you get when a book has your name on it. Even more when readers email to tell you how much they love your story.
Wellll, okay, some people.
There are members of my family who just can’t wrap their heads around the sexuality of my books. Mostly I don’t care. It is what it is. But my new print book Dangerous Affairs has been edited down from an erotic suspense to what I call a “sexy” romantic suspense. I’m very proud of the book. I worked really hard to get it out into the world.
Of course there’s one member of my family who wanted to read it. (Mistake #1 … I should have talked her out of it.) Even after I offered to get her a copy, she insisted she wanted to buy it. (Mistake #2) I didn’t really tell her anything about the book and exactly what “less sex” meant (Mistake #3). So of course when I saw her this past weekend she had to give me a critique. The conversation went something like this: (I’ll use MIL for the family member to keep her identity hidden 😉 )
MIL says, “speaking of books I have a little critique.”
Forcing a smile, Nina sweetly replies “oh, you read my book?”
“Do you have any idea how expensive it is?”
With an eyeroll behind MIL’s back, Nina happily says, “it has to do with distribution channels. It’s as low as I can get it.”
“Well, most people can’t pay that much with shipping and all … can’t you do free shipping?”
“That’s Amazon, not me. But thanks for supporting me. What’s for dinner?”
“Well, I had a few other things I wanted to share with you. You messed up some facts.”
I did lots of research, what did I miss?, Nina thinks.
MIL turns, hand on hip, “withdrawal is not a form of birth control. You shouldn’t let people think it is.”
“It’s a story.”
“And that paranormal stuff. You told me it was one woman and one man”
“It is. And there’s nothing paranormal…”
“There were people everwhere doing things! That’s not normal, it’s paranormal.”
“No, that would be vampires, ghosts and werewolves, these are contemporary stories.”
“Well whatever. I just know everyone seemed to be having sex with everyone. Though the second story seemed like it had a good mystery.”
“They’re all mysteries.”
“I wouldn’t know, I couldn’t read them all the way through. There was too much paranormal sex.”
ARRRRRRG! Like I said. Most of the time I can let this stuff go. But then she went on to say there can’t possibly be a market for those kind of books (again with this discussion) and why can’t I use my writing talent to write something she would enjoy. It’s just getting old, ya know? I’m proud of my stories. I have readers who enjoy them. I wish this unidentified family member would stop trying to “enjoy” my books.
So I’m curious, do you get grief for writing/reading romance? Does it get to you or do you just let it go? Do you have a couple of one liners that get the point across to your critics?
Since I started the week on an educational bent, I thought I’d stick to that. Because over the weekend, 60 Minutes did a segment on a new trend known as “redshirting“.
Wikipedia defines redshirting as:
“… the practice of postponing entrance into kindergarten of age-eligible children in order to allow extra time for socioemotional, intellectual, or physical growth. This occurs most frequently where children’s birthdays are so close to the cut-off dates that they are very likely to be among the youngest in their kindergarten class.”
Parents are doing this purposefully to give their children an advantage not just in school–but in life. The theory holds that if they begin school as the oldest student instead of one of the youngest in their class they will step to the head of the class in kindergarten because they’re bigger and more mature. Which in turn means they’ll begin first grade ahead of the curve and so on and so on, with the effect mulitplying over the years. It is thought that these children will grow up more confident and likely will become leaders at an early age. Schools are balking at the idea and holding staunchily to their entry dates. (Which vary by state.) Too many parents were redshirting children and causing problems in school districts.
Of course if a significant number of parents hold their child out of school then several “older” kindergartners will end up in the same classroom and negate the whole reason for keeping a child back. And many schools are finding second and third grade students who were redshirted have become behavior problems because they’re bored.
My husband has an early September birthday and he did begin school at 4. He is a smart man, but struggled all through school and didn’t really come into his own until he went to college. So when our son was born in mid-November, we were pleased he didn’t make the Oct 31 cutoff. He did begin school at 5 and was one of the first to turn 6. But you know what? He wasn’t a reader when he went into school. (Mostly because as an educator, I knew he had the ability, but not the interest and I didn’t push it.) He actually didn’t show an interest in reading until a third of the way through 1st grade where he went from the lowest reading group to the top reading group in two weeks when he figured out he enjoyed reading books, not just listening to his parents read them. As the youngest of three he is a gentle soul and defers to others and their feelings when it comes to making decisions. It’s just not in his personality to be a leader.
I don’t know about this whole thing. I guess I’m just a little jaded. I’ve watched the kids who were ahead of the game in the first few years of elementary school flounder as their peers caught up with them then surpassed them. Very few held on to those positions. They seemed to stumble and faulter when they were no longer number one, not sure how to handle a setback. Leadership and confidence is so much more than age and maturity. As a parent we can encourage our children, but there are some things that are part of who they are no matter how we push and cojole. (Not that I did that, I’m just saying.) Natural leaders just seem to step out of the crowd. Maybe not in kindergarten, but they certainly come into their own. They can’t help it. It’s part of who they are.
So what do you think? Have you heard of this redshirting? How do you feel about it? Because even when it’s not related to writing, I’m curious.
Maybe it’s because the winter has been so mild with no storms to make the news. Maybe it’s because the stars are out of alignment. Or maybe it’s because books are pushing the boundaries. I don’t know. But he end of last week, Paypal decided they weren’t going to allow payment for certain types of erotica. This affected all publishers using this method of payment including Bookstrand, All Romance Ebooks and Smashwords.
There are many authors/readers up in arms about this mandate. The interesting thing is that Paypal decided they were coming down on stories involving incest, rape as titillation, under-aged sex and besteality. Now I write erotic romance and the publishers that have accepted my books already had these stipulations. I wouldn’t want to write books with any of those topics anyway. So even though I got notification from two of the publishers above because I have self-pubbed with them, their notification didn’t affect me personally.
And though this stance is probably unpopular with authors who write erotica and erotic romance, I didn’t see a problem with Paypal’s decision. I’m not sure it’s the beginning of censorship as some have suggested. I don’t feel censored by Ellora’s Cave or Liquid Silver Books. I don’t think their readers feel they are restricting their desire to read stories with explicit sexual content. They haven’t widened the net to include things that some readers find objectionable, like anal and oral sex or multiple and same-sex partners or BDSM themes. But they have remained firm on certain sexual acts. I don’t think Paypal is going to widen their restrictions either.
And I don’t feel censored as a reader or an author. I think Paypal as a business has the right to make restrictions on the use of their services. I’ve listened to arguments on both sides and I just don’t see this as the huge out-of-control fire that some see beginning to burn. Dear Author did a nice job covering all sides of this controversy so I won’t rehash the facts as they’ve listed them. This could come back and bite me in the butt, but I don’t see this as a problem. But I’m still gathering information and reserve the right to change my mind.
What about you? How are you feeling about Paypal’s recent decisions?
Addendum (2/28 4:00 pm): I really appreciate everyone who has stopped by. Many of you have taken time to share heartfelt insights. I must admit, my view of this situation was narrow and based only on my personal experiences (despite reading blogs and listening to many of my writer friends discuss the topic). It is times like this when I realize as much of life as I’ve experienced, it is still possible to learn more through the experiences of others. I really didn’t see Paypal’s decision as mushrooming, but through your insightful comments, I certainly am looking at this situation differently. Thank you again for taking time to share your feelings and continue to educate me on the repercussions of Paypals policy change. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out in the days to come.
It’s been awhile since I caught you up on all the news. So I’ll start with a sharing a 4.5 STAR Review from Dark Diva Reviews. Jae said:
A roller-coaster of emotion and some of the most emotionally dramatic BDSM scenes I’ve read in quite a while are contained within Invitation to Ecstasy by Nina Pierce. Ms. Pierce’s writing is very enjoyable. There’s a terrific balance of down-to-earth narrative, humor, and intensity that draws the reader along from the very first page.
The book is available at Ellora’s Cave and Amazon
And Deceive Her With Desire has recently received two accolades.
It came in third in the suspense category of the Judge a Book by it’s Cover Reader’s Choice Contest hosted by the Houston Bay RWA. I would like to thank all the readers who took time to vote in this wonderful contest. Of course all the credit for the beautiful design goes to my cover artist DAR ALBERT. She’s the bestestest! I shout her praises everywhere because she’s so very talented!
This same book has also FINALED in the Gulf Coast STAR Contest in the novella category (which they define as any book under 40,000 words). w00t! w00t! I’m honored. I’ll find out next month exactly where it placed.
And the print book for all three Tilling Passions stories titled DANGEROUS AFFAIRS has finally met all the proofing requirements and should be available on Amazon by the end of the week and available in a bookstore near you by mid-April!
And on a personal note, Mr. Nina has a couple of job interviews this week. One of them is near our family in Maine. (Totally crossing my fingers that that one results in a job offer.) So there you have it, all the news and more. So what’s new with you? Anything worth dancing over?
There are days when I feel I never get away from the Internet to get other stuff done. Between Twitter and Facebook and blogs I visit, I roam the virtual cybersphere and yet … I seem to miss all the
fun controversy. I guess last week people were all up in arms about self-publising and Amazon’s moves to slowly take over the book selling market.
I don’t know about that. I do know they’ve made it easy for a person to self-publish print books. And they’ve made it even easier for authors to publish digitally. Really, there is no super-sekret formula … just upload a manuscript and a cover and voila! within 24 hours your book will be for sale! Yes, you can do this through other venues, but I have to say, I really like Amazon’s ranking system. There’s no greater satisfaction than seeing your book climb the ranks. Now they’re trying a new program, Prime Membership for readers and on the author side it’s called Kindle Select. Readers and authors are tentative about this program. Some are loving it and others … not so much.
But Amazon is trying. They are seeing the face of publication changing and they’re trying to be on the cutting edge of that change. Good for them. They’re not stupid. With big name authors like Joe Konrath supporting their efforts, it seems to me they’re going to be the front runners when everyone else is floundering. Does this make them bad or greedy? I don’t think so. It makes them smart. As in Apple smart. Always leading the pack, not the one running and out-of-breath trying to catch up.
And though I like what Amazon is doing for readers and authors alike, I just want to say, it ain’t all roses and royalty checks for everyone.
There are many authors making LOTS of money (as in quitting their day jobs and writing fulltime) going the self-pubbed route through Amazon. But there are a whole heck of a lot more of us taking our monthly royalty check from Amazon and buying a cute necklace from Kohl’s that just went on sale … on the clearance rack. So you get the picture. Now, please don’t hear this as complaining. It’s not … well, not totally. Wait, no really, I’m not complaining. I just want people to understand that it is possible their book(s) will take off, but it’s just as likely it won’t. Even if you do the same marketing strategies successful writers do. *shrug* It’s just how it is.
Now, in the spirit of full disclosure, let me give you some sales figures for the last three months for all three of my books (released 4/11, 6/11 and 11/11). (And this is just for Amazon, because it’s not worth my time to share with you my sales from B&N, Smashwords and ARe)
December: 136 books = $142.80
January: 74 books = $84.22
February (to date): 4695 free books (YAY!) 20 books = $40.00 (approx.)
Why am I sharing this sales information with you? I think authors play it too close to the vest. When authors are looking to make an informed decision it means … they need the information. I think it’s easy to find GREAT sales information. You know, those authors that sell 136 of each of their books every day. It makes many authors who are sitting there with 4 books sold in a month–because that’s the typical sales on Amazon–feel inadequate. Like “what am I doing wrong?” The answer is probably nothing. Even the big 6 publishers can’t tell you why one of their books is doing better than another. Now we’re the publisher … we just have to do the best we can.
I do like Amazon. I like that they have world-wide distribution. I wish I could boast sales on the other venues that were as good as my Amazon sales. But that doesn’t seem to be the case, even when I try to market my books at those venues.
Is Amazon going to take over all publication and distribution of books in the near future? No, it’s not going to happen. But other publishers and booksellers will need to stop doing things the way they’ve always done them and think ahead or they’re never going to catch up.
What do you think as a reader/writer? Does it make you a little noodgie the way things are going with Amazon? Are you worried about what is happening? Because you know me, I’m curious about that kind of stuff.
Okay, don’t laugh. I know I’m an erotic romance author. I know my characters have a whole LOT of sex, but when you pick up an erotic romance book the first word sort of cues you in as to how often the characters will be “doing it”. But what if you’re not reading an erotic romance? What if you’ve picked up the latest contemporary romantic suspense? Then how do you feel about it?
I’ve noticed in the last few books I’ve read that the hero and heroine, once they allowed themselves to do the horizontal mamba once … they just kept going at it. In between fighting the villain and discovering the mystery of who was trying to kill the heroine, they kept falling into bed. I actually found myself flipping pages to get back to the story. I just didn’t think the sex scenes added to the story. And these weren’t just a little kissing and grabbing and then fading to black, it was the whole shabang.
But ya know … hollywood is doing the same thing. There seems to be so much more titillation on television and in the movies. The actors must just have their body doubles on-call for every movie. Nakedness and sex seem to be expected in every blockbuster. So I’m just wondering if authors are writing the story as they feel it needs to be written or are publishers asking for more sensuality? Have readers come to expect more sex in their romances? Short of reading YA or Inspirational, should readers be ready for the sexier scenes in their romance stories?
How do you feel about it? As a writer are you happy about this apparent trend? As a reader how are you reacting to stories with more loving? Because you know me, I’m curious about stuff like this.
What makes you read a book? I don’t mean, why read books at all. But why that book? Did the cover originally intrigue you? Did you pick it up because it’s your favorite author? There are any number of reasons we choose one book title over another.
Before I go on and in the spirit of full disclosure, I’m going to admit I read books differently now that I’m an author. I used to pick up a book and travel along the plot blissfully unaware of all the rules and tricks writers use to move the story forward–to pull the reader into the next chapter if you will. And though I haven’t lost the joy in reading, it’s now part of my “job”. I read now to learn. A very different way of enjoying a book.
It’s hard for me these days to find a real page turner. But the last book I read, Susan Collins’ The Hunger Games not only has kept me up at night, but rolled around in my thoughts making me wonder about the characters even when I wasn’t reading.
And it got me thinking about what makes a book a real page turner.
In the case of The Hunger Games not only was the setting intriguing, being some post-apocalyptic United States with an overbearing government, but the characters, young adults just working to survive the harsh realities of their lives, made me care what happened to them. For those of you who don’t know the premise, the government wants to remind its citizens of a failed revolt and so they send 24 teens into a large arena once a year and have them fight to death, rewarding the victor with both individual riches and food and rewards for their sector…a very interesting premise.
Now, mind you, this is a young adult novel, which means the author had to carefully select how the protagonists of her book would survive and yet not come across as murderers and therefore unsympathetic in the reader’s eyes. May I just say, she pulled it off brilliantly!! I couldn’t read fast enough to find out how the competition would be eliminated especially after the young lady became allies with some of the competitors. And those she did have to kill had become horrible villains for the reader and therefore, deserved to die. Susan Collins’ skill in manipulating my emotions was admirable. By the time the hero and heroine emerge victorious (I don’t think I’m giving anything away since these are romances of sorts) I was thrilled, relieved and wrung out from worrying about their well-being.
These days it takes a lot to keep my attention. I’m finding fewer and fewer books make me want to read them. It may be because I’ve been caught in a genre loop. I’ve been reading a lot of paranormal and fantasy type stories. I’m not sure. The current book I’m reading, Lori Foster’s When you Dare, a contemporary undercover operations story, definitely has me intrigued. She’s holding onto a secret that propels me forward and makes me want to know who is after the heroine and what their motivation would be to kill her (at least I think that’s what they want in the end). The suspense is definitely propelling me deeper into the story. (Of course the budding romance isn’t hurting my enjoyment of the story either. *g*)
But that’s just me and what keeps me up at night reading. What about you? What pulls you into a story and makes you burn dinner or stay up into the weeeee hours of the night? If you have any reading recommendations I’d love to hear them!
Cigarette hanging from her mouth, the ash long and dangling. Smoke circle her head as fingers peck out a rapid tattoo on the the old Royal. Papers balled and crumpled near the waste basket as her characters chatter incessently in her ear, but not loud enough to get it juuuuust right. And as the final pages add up on the corner of her desk, she renews her efforts to finish that manuscript and get it out to a publisher.
That’s how I picture my favorite author’s careers in the past. It was all about the writing. All about receiving that boxed manuscript from an editor with redlines and arrows indicating editing suggestions. Editors and publishers had time to put time and energy into a book, to groom the author and create an image and a marketing plan for her and her books.
Sadly, those days are gone.
An author no longer has the the luxury of just sitting down at her computer and pounding out a new best seller. There are so many hats she must wear. Writer, editor, marketing guru and in many cases, publisher.
Publishers now want to see manuscripts that have had the bulk of the editing done. Beta readers and critique groups are now working with an author to find unforgivable flaws with a hero no reader can love. They’re helping fill in those small plot line holes that an editor used to discover. If a manuscript hits an acquisition editors desk with any of those problems it will no doubt receive a form email rejection. If the author is fortunate, there will be some explanation as to why it was rejected, but often there isn’t time for an editor to explain in detail why a book “doesn’t fit”.
With the advent of digital books authors are no longer receiving advances. Advances meant an author was compensated up front for months of being bent over the keyboard. Without the advance, the author now depends only on royalties from sales to make her money. (I don’t even want to speculate my hourly rate of pay for the books I’ve written.) Without the backing of a marketing department from the good ‘ole days, it also means she has to go out and pound the pavement to let readers know she has a new book out there. Spending time on Facebook and Twitter shouting about her book, which equals time away from writing the next book.
Now, Amazon and Barnes & Noble among other venues, have made it possible for an author to actually publish her own book without going through an agent or publishing house. And as exciting as this has become for authors to have full control of their books, it’s also a heck of a lot of work. It becomes the responsibility of the author to find her editor and cover artist. To make sure the book is formatted correctly for all digital platforms. And as you can imagine, this means more time away from writing.
To keep up with this changing world many authors are hiring assistants who can help with the extraneous work load. Of course you need to have the sales to justify this expenditure. Ah hem, I so am not there … yet. And there are publicity companies who are hired by authors to go out and do some of the pavement pounding. But as a reader I find them very annoying and they become white noise in the thrum of all the book marketing. Since I delete these announcements from my email and ignore them on Facebook, I haven’t bothered with any of the companies.
I keep saying this year I’m going to figure this whole thing out. To set a schedule of some sort that not only allows time for all of these things AND writing. Of course before all that happens I do have to get my personal life to slow down juuuust a little.
As a reader do you see these changes effecting your buying habits or has it all happened in the background unnoticed by you? If your an author, are you happy with all the changes in publishing or would you like to go back to the days before digital books? Because you know me, I’m curious like that.