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Changing Times

Please welcome Lois Winston to the blog today talking about the changing times in publishing.

Here’s Lois!

I’ve often heard authors refer to their books as their “babies” and the road to publication as “labor pains.” There’s a big difference between birthing a baby and birthing a book, though. With each progressive baby, the birthing process generally becomes a lot easier. I remember being in labor with my first son and resolving that I’d NEVER go through that pain again. Nearly three years later, I was giving birth to his brother when I remembered that I’d vowed not to go through labor ever again. I’m convinced nature makes us forget the pain of childbirth in order to keep our species from going extinct. In truth, though, that second delivery was a lot easier and less painful than the first.

Then there’s birthing a book. Ask any multi-published author, and he or she will tell you it never gets any easier. Or less painful. We sweat and worry over each sentence, each page, each scene, each chapter. When we type “THE END,” we continue to worry.

Will my editor love the book or hate it?
What will the reviewers say?
Will readers buy the book?
Will I earn out my advance?
Will sales be good enough to secure my next contract?

The worries never end. But maybe it’s the act of worrying that spurs us to continue to hone and improve our writing, knowing that with each book more is expected of us, making readers clamor for the next book even before they’ve finished the current one. One of the greatest compliments an author can receive is when a reader says, “I can’t believe I have to wait a whole year for your next book!”

Of course, that’s assuming the author has a contract for the next book. These are tough times in publishing, and often instead of publishers and authors working together to produce books readers clamor for, a more adversarial relationship is beginning to grow in the industry. Contracts are changing, and authors are suffering because publishers fear that the industry as they once knew it won’t be around much longer. Another worry has been added to the author’s list of worries.

Over the past few years advances from many houses have gone from halfway decent to pathetic to nearly non-existent. Those paltry advances are now being broken up into three payments – a third upon signing, a third upon delivery, and a third upon publication – instead of half upon signing and half upon delivery. Or the old-fashioned way of paying the author 100% of the advance upon signing the contract. Does any publisher still do that? I doubt it.

Royalties have gone from being based on cover price to net selling price, meaning the more steeply discounted the book, the less the author receives. Most troubling, though, is that publishers are inserting all sorts of language into contracts that are causing agents and literary attorneys to warn their clients against signing unless they want to wind up as indentured servants.

And yet the public thinks authors are rolling in money. Some still are – if their names are Patterson, King, Roberts, Evanovich, Collins, Meyer, James, or Rowling. The rest of us would be living out of cardboard boxes if we had to depend on our writing as our only source of income.

All we want to do is write our books and get paid a fair amount of money for them. Is that really too much to ask? Apparently so. No wonder so many authors are turning their back on traditional publishing and doing what would have been considered sacrilege five or ten years ago: they’re self-publishing their books. And many of them are doing so well that when the traditional publishers come calling, cash in hand, the authors are laughing at them.

As Bob Dylan once said, “The times they are a’changing.” For better? For worse? Only time will tell. The one thing I do know is that as much as the publishing world has changed in the past five years, we ain’t seen nothing yet. Check back with me five years from now.

Blurb for Someone To Watch Over Me

Dori Johnson’s life is built on lies and deceit. Six years ago she committed a series of felonies in order to flee Philadelphia and save herself and her siblings from a ruthless Russian crime boss. They’ve lived under the radar ever since. But now Dori’s been offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that her siblings insist she take. Within days her carefully constructed world begins toppling around her, and when her life is threatened, the one man who can help her is the one man she doesn’t dare trust.

You can buy Someone To Watch Over Me at:

Amazon: Someone To Watch Over Me

Barnes and Noble: Someone To Watch Over Me

Apple: Someone To Watch Over Me

Kobo: Someone To Watch Over Me

Smashwords: Someone To Watch Over Me

About Lois:

Award-winning author Lois Winston writes the critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries series featuring magazine crafts editor and reluctant amateur sleuth Anastasia Pollack. Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, a January 2011 release, was the first book in the series and received starred reviews from both Publishers Weekly and Booklist. Kirkus Reviews dubbed it, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum” Death By Killer Mop Doll was released this past January. Revenge of the Crafty Corpse will be a January 2013 release.

Lois is also published in women’s fiction, romantic suspense, and non-fiction as well as being an award-winning crafts and needlework designer and an agent with the Ashley Grayson Literary Agency. She has also recently embarked on an indie publishing career, releasing some of her earlier romance, romantic suspense, and chick lit books under the pen name Emma Carlyle. Throughout August, September, and October, Lois is donating $500 to breast cancer research for every 1,000 Emma Carlyle books sold. Links to the books can be found on Emma’s website.

Visit Lois at http://www.loiswinston.com , visit Emma at http://www.emmacarlyle.com, and visit Anastasia at the Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers character blog, www.anastasiapollack.blogspot.com. You can also follow her on Twitter @anasleuth and at Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/anasleuth/books-by-lois-winston-aka-emma-carlyle/.

Cindy here!

Thanks for being here, Lois. Publishing times are definitely changing and changing fast. It will be interesting to see where things are five years from now.

Until next time…

Cindy

6 comments to Changing Times

  • Kathleen Kaska
    October 3, 2012 at 8:49 am

    It is a scary publishing world out there. I’ve been in the business for 20 years and I still feel like I just entered the profession. Thanks for sharing. I’m glad I’m not alone with my concerns.
    Nice blog site, Cindy.

  • Paulita
    October 3, 2012 at 9:12 am

    Lois, This is very timely for me. My first independently published book will be out this Friday. I decided to follow the published authors into self publishing after a 22-year-old agent’s assistant told me that she really liked my writing. But the idea of a mom not knowing what to do with her life once the kids were grown was really sad, the assistant said.
    Sad, but so real for many women.
    I think the public is ready to be the gatekeepers. I think some great books come from the big publishers, but some bad books do too.
    Paulita recently posted..Book Review — Queen Bee of Mimosa Branch

  • Jennifer Harlow
    October 3, 2012 at 9:39 am

    Very well put as always Lois.

  • Lois Winston
    October 3, 2012 at 9:55 am

    Thanks for stopping by, Kathleen, Paulita, and Jennifer.

    Paulita, I wonder if that 22 year old will remember her words 25 or 30 years from now. We’ll have to chalk that comment up to the arrogance of youth. Good luck with your book.

  • Alan W. Jankowski
    October 3, 2012 at 10:49 am

    Can’t say I’ve been around long enough to really witness the changes firsthand, having only considered the world of publishing about two years ago…so, it’s all scary to me…

    Anyway, just want to say I think it’s a great thing you’re doing with the donations to breast cancer research…keep up the good work…
    Cheers,
    Alan.

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