Grace's Mosaic Moments

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Reminiscences of Controversies, Part 2

 I was hoping for a little color to add to Part 2 of "Reminiscences of Controversies," and, lo and behold, three pics arrived in the morning's e-mail. It seems the Girl Scouts had a sleep-over at Coco Key on International Drive (Orlando). So here are some colorful bits to spice up my memories of the early days of e-publishing.

Coco Key Resort, I-Drive, Orlando

Coco Key Resort

Cassidy, Hailey & Riley w/troop at Coco Key

  ~ * ~

Reminiscences of Controversies - Part 2

Continuing my series on how I've managed to put my foot in it through the years. (Gleefully, at times.) Here are excerpts from my article, "E-Books and You," written sometime between 2000 & 2002:


"E-publishers are looking for fresh ideas, new voices. They came into being as alternatives to print publishing, determined to offer a wide variety of ideas and styles than was acceptable in the traditional New York market. E-publishers are not afraid of cross-genres, older heroines, historicals set in the twentieth century, a long separation between the hero and heroine, or books set in foreign countries other than Britian or Ireland. If a book is well-written, it doesn't have to be rejected because the marking department says it's too long or doesn't have a hook they can sell. Yes, economical publishing costs make this feasible, but the open-minded attitude of e-publishers is the key ingredient which will appeal to the eager minds of Internet users looking for the world of the twenty-first century. 

[Note: not much change here, except that major publishers have finally waked up to the e-revolution, most now adding an e-book line.]

 Most print books, particularly category, have a lifetime of four to six weeks. That's right 30-45 days. After you spent six months, maybe a year, writing it. Not a happy thought. E-books are not only good for the length of your original contract, but for however long after that you want to keep your book on the web site. And your book is not fighting for doubtful placement at Barnes & Noble or even at your local mom and pop bookstore. Your book is right there on the World Wide Web, as available in London and Sydney as it is in New York, Boston, Chicago, suburbs across the nation, farms in the heartland, or college dormitoris. To those with the newest cell phone upgrades, it's even available on the beach!

[Note: so much change here the reality is mind-boggling. A deluge of e-books available on a myriad devices. So many good e-readers at a reasonable price; even some color e-readers at a cost that's not too far out of sight.  And then there are I-Pads and Smart Phones, and an endless variety of devices offering book-reading capacity.]

For most of us who write romance, e-book royalties are best described as "not much, not yet." The royalty percentage of each download is high (often around 35%), but e-books are still in their infancy and volume has not yet had time to build. Except for erotica. The demand for e-erotica has been astonishing, and its authors are making good money, as much as print books, if not more. So even if you don't care for erotica, it's helping increase e-readership, and we should all be grateful for its impact. 

[Note: Also a major change from when I wrote the above—primarily brought about by two things, I believe: the proliferation of e-reading devices and the advent of indie publishing. Well-known authors, publishing their backlists on their own, were among the first to discover this vast new market. And make good money. They were soon followed by those who "write between the cracks." Authors whose work was good but did not fit the New York guidelines. And then, of course, it seemed like half the world jumped on the bandwagon, and indie pub became the rage. Some good, some not so good. But you can't stuff the genie back in the bottle. Indie pub is as much here to stay as the formal e-publishing which began near the end of the 1990s. And, yes, a lot more than authors of erotica are making money, myself among them. For which I am enormously grateful.]

[Okay, I'm not going to repeat this paragraph. At the time I was proselytizing for recognition of e-publishers as true publishers, never dreaming what would happen when Smashwords and Amazon offered independent publishing. There are, however, many excellent e-publishers out there, who edit, provide covers, distribution, and pay royalties on time. In particular, if your work does not fit the New York mold, I strongly recommend submitting to a good e-publisher. This list has broadened a great deal in just the last few years as major New York publishing houses have added e-book divisions. Check with other e-pubbed authors to make sure you're submitting to one of the e-pubs who provides good service and prompt royalties. And if you'd rather go DYI, by all means do so. I've just edited several indie books, for example, where the characterizations and stories were truly impressive, comparable to only the top ten percent of New York print books. I will never, however, advocate writing a book and throwing it at the Internet with all the arrogance of someone who actually believes their first draft is undying prose. Edit, idiot! Edit! And if you can't do it yourself, hire someone who can.

 I don't write articles on the e-revolution or e-pub any more. There's no need. It's happened, and even faster than I anticipated. But I'm proud to have been in on it from very near the beginning. By the time I "retired" to indie pub, I had nine print books and eight e-books to my published credit. And Tarleton's Wife, the book that started it all for me, is on its third incarnation. Ellora's Cave Blush, which had offered an e-version for some time, brought it out in paperback in the fall of 2012. Talk about longevity!

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Although e-publishing has been the major controversy I've been embroiled in over more than a decade, there are others worth a mention. 

I am a member of RWA's online historical romance chapter, The BeauMonde. I try to steer a median down the middle on the battles that rage over authenticity, but sometimes I blow my top and scream (via keyboard): How can it possibly matter what the weather was on a particular day in the year 1813? Do you really have to know the exact dates a certain play or opera was performed in London? Yes, I agree one shouldn't get the dates of the Frost Fair (which was unique) wrong. And one should never, ever have a bastard inherit a title. But, really . . . one can't be flexible about the weather? Or write about an opera by Mozart without citing the exact date and year? Come on, people, be real!

And—warning!—heaven forbid anyone should mention the word "horse" on the BeauMonde loop. In the blink of an eye there will be fifty posts on "horses I have known." Kind of hard on those of us who might like to get a word in edgewise. So, yes, I've been an old curmudgeon about that on occasion. 

And, yes, I'm the one who broke the dam on indie publishing on RWAPAN, RWA's e-loop for published authors. I wrote a post called "Brave New World," and it was like the walls came tumbling down. Suddenly, all sorts of print authors were admitting they were making money by indie-pubbing their backlist, even as others rushed to join the gravy train. Not long after that, RWA was putting out a survey asking their authors how much they were making on e-pub. Finally. 

Not that the battle is over - I still see a definite "class" system within RWA - print pubs vs. e-pubs vs. indie pubs. And I'm heartily sorry for it. This needs to change. Since I began writing more than twenty years ago, I have been involved in all three, and I can say with absolute honesty that my e-publishers provided far more extensive editing than my print publishers. And that I had to work a lot harder to write, edit, and format my indie books than I have ever worked at a book before. Give credit where credit is due. If someone writes a bunch of pages, calls it a book, and tosses it up on the net, warts and all, then that person's work should be shunned. But over the course of the past two and a half years of reading downloads exclusively, I have found some wonderful indie books (as well as some I deleted after the first few pages). Be open-minded. Accept that New York is not putting out all the good books. (It is, in fact, putting out some real wall-bangers, as well as the good stuff.) Be venturesome. Give something new a try. Reject the bad, accept, even praise, the good, no matter how the book found its way to Kindle, Nook, Smashwords, Sony, or your Smart Phone.

~ * ~

Next week: a different kind of controversy, one I put my foot in by accident because I had no idea it was such a sensitive topic.  Some call it, "Plotter vs. Pantser." Since I hate both terms, finding them both inadequate and a tad vulgar, I haven't decided what to call the two sides of the coin yet. But controversial? Oh wow! You wouldn't believe!

Blair's Free Book Schedule on Amazon Kindle

Florida Knight (an SCA story)                                  Tuesday, May 21

Limbo Man (the Russians are coming)                      Tuesday, May 28

Orange Blossoms & Mayhem (marriage & murder)      Tuesday, June 4 

For covers and blurbs of the books above, click here.

Thanks for stopping by.


Thanks for stopping by.




  1. Grace, your blogs are never boring! :D

    One day, I hope to be as ballsy as you--I've gotten better in my old age about giving a rat's pitootie for the opinions of others over my actions and/or words. I'm not quite as forthright as I'd like yet, but I'm getting there.

    I have to say that I can see a day where New York pubs will have snobbed their way right out of contention for 99% of authors when they talk of being published. It seems to me that there is so much negative with them that the e-pubs are a better route, especially if you want to see your work published in the near future. Maybe one day, RWA's goal will be to help authors publish their best work in any format, rather than to help them get a New York contract.

  2. Thanks for commenting, Lynne. I've had some pretty strong private comments as well. Guess I just can't help putting my foot in it, but mostly it leaves me smiling. After all, someone has to clean the dust out of all those stodgy old corners.

    1. :P If I need to do any stodgy corner cleaning, I'll have to remember to break out my Grace-brand leaf blower. It's like a Toro, but different...