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.

I love my life. Really I do. (This is me convincing myself of that fact.) Most days I throw my shoulders back, lift my chin and put a smile on my face and head out the door. Weeeelll, okay, not the door, but out into the virtual world of the internet.

I’m mostly a positive person.

But the last couple of weeks I’ve been working really hard on marketing. You know, that four letter word that authors hate to talk about, but which is a necessary evil sometimes. I must say, this time I really stepped in it. I have totally overextended my obligations going into the holidays and now I’m paying the piper.

Translation … I have so many flippin’ guest blogs/book uploads/website coding obligations that my mind has become a sieve. Every idea has fallen through the holes created by the spinning miasma of confusion all this tap dancing around the internet has created. Seriously, if I was making enough money I’d hire an assistant just to do all the tweeting and facebook announcements that people are asking me to do. It’s insane.

I have a hard enough time promoting myself and now I’ve committed to a $.99 Book Blog where I’ve agreed to help promote everyone else’s books (and there are some wonderful books). And this is all good because all these people are going to promote my book as well. But it does make me wonder if people are going to be turned off as it gets closer to Christmas and all they’re seeing is promotion promotion promotion. Yeah, that makes Nina a very dull writer. I like to think I can amuse and entertain now and again. But that requires I spend more time than I currently have at the moment, hanging out on Twitter and Facebook chatting with folks as if I didn’t have a real life with things to do and there was no need for me to writing another book.

Oh, yeah writing. I remember that rewarding activity.

Anyway, I can’t stay long. My to-do list includes putting some books up on a new site and figuring out how to put my digital books in print. My characters are just going to have to step to the back of the line. I’ll get them their HEA as soon as I find mine. LOL!

If you talk to any author … and it doesn’t matter if it’s a top seller at a NY publisher or a newly pubbed e-author … I think they’re all going to say one of the hardest things about the publishing industry is marketing.

Every author wants to find the one thing that gets their book information out to the readers. I know, I keep talking about this because it’s such a difficult tight rope to walk. Especially when it comes to spending hard earned royalty dollars. Everything from maintaining a website to gifts to give away in contests. It costs.

Now there are those free things an author can do. Like chatting on live chats or now doing blog-talk radio (er … which I know nothing about), posting excerpts on Yahoo loops through to having a blog. And there it is, my new four letter evil word … B-L-O-G.

You know, this week is the second anniversary of Around the Writer’s Block. I’m very proud of the fun I’ve had hanging out here chatting with everyone. I’ve celebrated accomplishments and shared my setbacks and disappointments. And I’ve really enjoyed having this space of the web to chat about anything and everything. As an extrovert, my blog gave me the opportunity to reach out beyond my little world that is my office and “be” with people.

But things have changed.

Now there’s twitter and facebook. These venues also give me an opportunity to jump up and down and share the wonderful things that happen or pull out my soap box and express an opinion. It’s not like I’ve run out of things to say … it’s just that I don’t think I have ENOUGH interesting opinions and events in my life to entertain so many people in so many different places. And of course, since there’s cross over, it’s not like I can duplicate the same amusing anecdote all over the internet without driving a few people insane with the repetition.

What does this mean? It means I’m sitting on the fence trying to decide if I really want to hold onto this corner of the web. Do I really want to continue blogging? *sigh* I just don’t know. I love having a place to display all my book covers. I like being able to put up my links to great reviews. But then I wonder if the information in my sidebar isn’t just to stroke my own ego.

I just don’t know. I’m not even sure how a blog slips into a cyber graveyard. Am I supposed to hold services and final blessings? or do I just let it quietly slip away into the darkness? I haven’t figured that out yet either. 

Anyway, I just thought I’d mention that I’m wrestling with this. There aren’t a whole lot of people popping over to read my musings. And for those of you who do … you have no idea how much it means to me. Anyway, I’m just trying to figure it all out and decide where best to spend my time visiting and marketing on the internet. Obviously I haven’t made any decisions, but I’ll let you know when I do.