I like to watch. Huh? Get your mind out of the gutter; that was last week’s topic. No, I mean I like to observe. For someone who self-admittedly is a motor mouth, I’m actually quite quiet. I’m usually alone, making things, taking care of my dogs or my plants. Sometimes, I even get to write.
Having ‘George Knows’ published in paper in May is an interesting learning experience. He’s not with one of the “Big Six”, (are there still six?), I don’t have a fancy agent, and I’m not making much money. Still, I am making more than people who don’t submit. Starbucks is certainly happy with that.
So, what’s with the title, you ask? Where’s the money? That’s where the watching comes in. In the last few years I’ve watched a lot of cons (not writer’s Cons, but scheming cons) go down. There are publicity companies that will set up a blog tour for you, for a price. The only problem is the blogs often have a tiny readership and while the PR firm is doing what you hired them to do, they aren’t going to help gain you many new readers. The PR team makes money, while the authors with smaller publishers and indies don’t understand why their sales aren’t going up. Without research into the blogs (which would be done by a good PR firm), PR can be like traveling through a thorny hedge maze with no way out.
Then there are the contests (literary contests). Put up thirty, seventy-five, three hundred bucks, and you can win pretty stickers in bronze, silver, or gold. Ooooh. Unfortunately, they don’t mean anything. I mean, if you need a bronze, silver, or gold sticker, I’d gladly make them for you. There are some excellent contests, and most of them don’t cost anything, or very much, to enter. And some of those contests can make a difference in sales. ‘George Knows’ won the Predators and Editors reader’s choice best children’s book award. My sales spiked considerably and it cost me nothing. The thing is, to know the difference between the bad contests and the good ones.
The last thing I’ve watched where writers’ money is concerned are the thinly-veiled vanity presses. Some friends of mine are thrilled–a small press accepted all their books. I’m very interested in watching how this is going to play out. While the leader of the writer’s workshop I used to attend is defending the publisher, it’s hard to understand why. Predators and Editors are very negative about them. I couldn’t find anything positive anywhere on the web, or even on the publisher’s website. It does look good, though, for the workshop leader to have a lot of students get published, I guess. But who wins when the publisher puts out two hundred page books in hardcover for $20.00 with a guarantee of minor editing?
At least the author gets a discount on their books. Yeah. That’s it.
I really hope that things work out for the writers who didn’t do their research. After all, the last complaints were last September. Maybe things are better.
In the end, it’s the old buyer beware. I went in to this business knowing what I was doing. My publisher is tiny, she offer some promo, has two editors go over each book, and has several cover artists. Her overhead is negligible, but she’s fair to her authors. It’s effectively an author mill, but a bit more upscale. I have no complaints.
In time for ConCarolinas, ‘George Knows’ is coming out in paper. It’s not something my editor does with most of the books that she publishes, only the books whose writers get involved with marketing–the books that sell in e-book form first. How did I do it? Since a certain sneaky bestselling author turned my dining room and Starbuck’s into a warehouse/office, and I discovered that one of the Beast Claws (Faith Hunter’s street team) is a half hour away and works in marketing, I have had the advantage of getting the word out. Plus, I made a fantastic friend in Audrey Salick, who has a well-known blog and is an incredible partner. She does the boring stuff. I get to make book thongs.
So where is the money? It appears to be mainly in satellite activities. However, if you have a bit of discretionary cash, and know a Tween who likes dogs and urban fantasy, ‘George Knows’ is a lovely little book with an environmental message, as well as other hidden agendas. George is more than willing to share.
BIO: I’ve worked in a hazardous waste lab, where under the sign for the Right To Know Act, was added: ‘If you can figure it out’. I’ve been a metals tech, a bakery clerk, a professional gardener, taught human anatomy and ran two university greenhouses. Along the way I picked up my Master’s Degree in Biology, specializing in the population genetics of an endangered plant. I am also a top breeder, handler, and trainer of English springer spaniels under the prefix Muddy Paws. Every time I think I understand dogs, another one comes along and proves all my beliefs are totally wrong. Then I was gypped and ended up with a tubby, egotistical, magical basset as a muse. It’s a good thing my husband, the Tall Dude, has a real job, and makes great unpaid kennel help. I’m also a member of the SCBWI, since they seem happy to take my money. http://www.scbwi.org/members-public/mindy-mymudes