Brazen Blogger Bait


This review, among other reasons, is why I’m a Sarah Hoyt fan even though I’ve yet to read her novels. Yeah, yeah, I know…but there hasn’t been a lot of time for reading other people’s work until very recently. I’ve likewise heard really good things about Ric Locke’s Temporary Duty and need to get off my @$$ and download a copy. I can only hope that Perigee merits similar praise from other writers at some point.

It’s immensely gratifying to read a traditionally published novelist who is not afraid to give a shout-out to an indie author. We could use a good deal more of that. It bugs me that associations like ITW and SFWA are closed to indie writers, except for an “associate” membership. In SFWA’s case, we appear to be shut out entirely. And judging by some of her other posts, maybe it’s just as well.

I get that there has to be some kind of standard, otherwise any schmuck who can pound out 300 pages of gibberish and have his first-grader cobble together a cover would be sharing equal status with names like DeMille, Preston and Child. But considering the rapidly-changing publishing landscape, shouldn’t there be some minimum sales threshold that would allow indie authors into the Cool Kid’s Clubs? Pick a number, it doesn’t matter to me…5,000? 10,000? And I would totally get excluding giveaway copies. That’s a marketing tactic, not a career plan.

A friend of mine who’s been quite successful in the Christian SF market once told me that the large majority of novels don’t sell more than about 1,500 copies.

Well, guess what? I’ve already passed that mark, and it doesn’t include the free promos used to goose sales on Amazon. Maybe I’ll just have to go and form my own club. As indie writers, we have a special responsibility to ensure our work is every bit as good as what comes out of the New York collective.

Assuming your book is worth reading, as writers we are all competing for readers in two fundamental ways: Name Recognition and Price Point. As a new indie author I have exactly zip in name recognition, which leaves me with pricing. This can be a tremendous advantage since it’s entirely under my control. I can respond to market trends much faster than any of the Big 6 ever could. But I can’t stress enough that we must put out Big 6-quality work, otherwise the indie revolution will end up being just another bubble.

I’m confident that a free market will sort that out. Nobody wants to buy crap, even for 99 cents.

It kills me to let Perigee go so cheaply, but that price seems to keep it moving. It won’t make me rich, but it has kept my own title listed among the ranks of Konrath, Clancy, and King. And right now, that’s pretty much ball-game. Build a reputation from the first book, and a career from all the rest.

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2 Replies to “Brazen Blogger Bait”

  1. Hey Patrick. My name’s James – I’m 18, I’ve been writing for several years… I really loved Perigee. It’s one of my new favorites for science-themed fiction. Do you have any tips on publication, agents, anything?

    From a relatively young fan of yours.

    James

    1. Hi James. I’m glad you liked Perigee, that means a lot to hear from readers. If you haven’t already, please consider posting a review on Amazon…that sort of thing helps a lot. And of course, spread the word with your family and friends.
      If you cruise this blog, look for anything tagged with writing, publishing, or e-publishing to get a pretty good idea of what my thoughts are on all of the above. Check out the links on my blogroll too.
      Everyone’s different and it depends on your career goals. For myself, I prefer to stay away from agents and publishing houses for the next couple of years because there’s just too much churn right now. Publishing isn’t going away, but their business models are going through some seismic shifts and I have no doubt that some of them will fail. And when that happens, watch out…it would be a nightmare to have the rights to your work tied up as an asset in a corporate bankruptcy.
      As far as agents go, being middlemen they’re in even worse shape. The good ones will still have some role in all this but there’s no way to know what that would be. I suspect the really good ones will be involved with legal firms and actually know something about contract law and their obligations as a writer’s rep. Just cruising the ‘net and talking to other writers, it’s easy to see that too many of them don’t understand that nearly as well as they *think* they might.
      Having said that, it’s important to realize that going indie means it’s all on you. That means you have to hire a cover artist (DON’T try this at home unless you have a graphic arts background), an editor, and maybe a formatting service. Writers like David Gaughran advocate doing the latter yourself, but in my experience it was turning into a huge time-eater. As a young (presumably single) man, you probably have a lot more time for that than I do. You might even have some graphics ability. But never, ever, go it alone without an editor. A lot of big-name writers still need it, but their publishers apparently blow it off knowing that anything with King or Clancy on the cover will sell in the millions…
      Oops! Did I say that?

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