There's a lot of stuff going on right now about Us vs. Themism in publishing, which is nothing new, and nothing I haven't been hearing my entire publishing career. But since I've recently taken the self-epub plunge myself, I thought I'd talk a little bit about the whys and wherefores.
Have I turned my back on NY? No, actually. I have another traditional print release coming up in August. I just happen to have some projects I think are better suited to the independent publishing path. For instance, Mad Stone is a novella (technically, a novelette) and I've already discussed why there isn't really a NY market for it.
I don't think traditional publishing is history, by any means. Changing, yes, but people are still buying books in print, and I would still like to see my books in stores and on shelves. Also, selling specific rights to a work for a specific amount makes it much easier to budget than trying to guess what monthly royalty earnings will be. And there are things a publisher can do for me and my books that I can’t do myself.
What about an established epublisher? Again, there are things that can be accomplished through that route; for starters, books published that way are eligible for awards, and in the case of Samhain, have the opportunity for brick and mortar bookstore distribution.
I’ve always appreciated having choices and options for my career. I thought epublishing and traditional publishing were both valid choices when I first started selling, and I still think so. I also still think it’s up to authors to educate themselves about the pros and cons and really investigate the business angles before making a choice; I saw way too many people leap on the epublishing bandwagon, for instance, with no real clue what they were getting into. Many wound up crushed by their failure to earn over $100 on a title or tied up in epublisher bankruptcy litigation. (And the awful truth is that some didn’t care as long as they got to be recognized as Published in RWA.)
It behooves every writer to treat their business like a business, to do their research and not get sucked into hype. To know their goals, and to choose the path that works for them. And in at this point in time, to be open to possibilities. The more emotional the arguments for and against any particular publishing path become, the more important it is to stick to facts when trying to make a decision.
Through the end of March, A Rock and A Hard Place has a special price of .99. Help us spread the word!
Read and Review A Rock & A Hard Place and enter to win a signed print copy of Sexy Devil with a $10 Amazon gift certificate, and a signed print copy of Animal Attraction with a $10 Amazon gift certificate.
Reviews can be posted on blogs, Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon, B&N, or Smashwords. If you post it in more than one place, then send us both links and you'll be entered twice.
Send the links to either Sasha or myself (via the contact form on my site) to enter. All entries will go into one hat, and two winners will be randomly chosen on April 1st.
Get your copy at Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Smashwords.
Miranda of Joyfully Reviewed has this to say about A Rock and A Hard Place:
A Rock and A Hard Place is an enthralling erotic read! Charlene Teglia and Sasha White have written
two sinfully scorching stories! If you haven’t read either of these series before then the novellas will leave you
begging for more! A Rock and A Hard Place is packed with sexy paranormals and ravenous lovers ready to take on the world to protect ones they love.
And for those who have not read Animal Attraction, I was really happy to see that she had no trouble picking up the story and following the action:
“Mad Stone” by Charlene Teglia
Chandra is expecting a romantic night out with her mates but the night becomes dangerous as Chandra races to save the packs healer. Zach is the Alpha wolf but Chandra is his Queen; mated to him as well as his second in command David. Zach and David want nothing more than to keep their woman tucked away safe and sound; she is the future of their race after all. However, nothing can stop Chandra when someone she loves is in danger. How will this night end? Will Chandra save the day or will everything end in heartache?
Mad Stone is a fast-paced sensuously enchanting story. As I read the first couple of pages I find myself wishing I had read the story of how these three charming characters fell in love. Mad Stone is part of Charlene Teglia’s Neuri Chronicles. It is not necessary to have read the first story in the series to follow along. I look forward to reading the first installment because I thoroughly enjoyed this story. Mad Stone is a sizzling read!
Tomorrow we kick off our official release party and contest.
Sometime between going fetal last night and cracking eyelids this morning, A Rock and A Hard Place went live on Smashwords. And it was already getting downloaded, so, um, cool.
I kind of laugh about the "new ebook world" news going around, because Sasha and I were doing this in 2004, and we weren't pioneers then. But that said, many things are new and different now, which is why we decided to experiment with a DIY ebook.
Why not try to sell our fabulous idea to a traditional print publisher? Well, anthologies are a tough sell. And we wanted to write tie-ins to existing series we had, and to cross-promote to readers of ours who had read one but not the other. The chances of getting a deal for an anthology that ties in to a series published by another publisher were nonexistent.
Why not try to sell our fabulous idea to one of our established epublishers? Because we probably wouldn't have gotten a release date this year, for starters. And because something really is new now, and we wanted to experiment with that.
What's really new, then? The author-to-reader direct distribution opportunity for ebooks. In 2004, if you didn't sell to a big name epublisher, you were not going to reach readers. Even two years ago, this was still pretty much true. But with the advent of Amazon's Kindle publishing, and B&N's PubIt, and Smashwords with distribution to all major etailers (including Diesel, Apple, Sony, Kobo), that changed.
It is now possible to reach a lot of readers on your own. And we wanted to see what kind of results we got trying that out.
That said, the amount of work involved in publishing that is not writing is enormous, so it's not something to just leap into. The time we've spent in discussions, working with a cover artist, getting formatted files, learning the upload process, not to mention time spent seeking out private editing and going through the process, has not been a small investment.
But we did it. And now we have an ebook. And I expect we'll learn just as much from the next few months as we have up to this point in publishing it.
Best of all, we got to write something together, which we have not managed to do before in 6 years.
The Mammoth Book of Hot Romance is now up for
pre-order. Which means I need to add a book page and an excerpt. But in the meantime:
Wolf at the Door
copyright 2011 Charlene Teglia
Karen parked by her cabin overlooking Lake Crescent and nearly ran from her car to the front porch. Once she had the heavy wooden door bolted behind her, she did a quick visual check of the cabin’s interior. The woodstove sat at the center of the open floor plan. Her living space circled it, beginning with the kitchen area that gave way to a trestle style table with two benches on either side, then a faded couch next to two tall and overstuffed bookcases.
Nothing looked out of place. She checked the bathroom that was pretty much a closet on the far side of the kitchen, the only room with a door. It, too, was empty except for a small sink, toilet and shower stall.
She climbed the ladder up to the half-loft that served as her bedroom. The big log bed covered with a bright quilt, night stand and dresser all looked just the way she’d left them before she’d headed out for a hike in an effort to find some peace or at least wear herself out. On impulse, she opened the deacon’s bench at the foot of the bed. Tucked under neatly stacked clean sheets and an extra quilt, an antique dagger rested. She covered it back up and closed the bench, exhaling relief.
The cabin and its contents had been left to her when her employer, an eccentric collector and historian, passed away. Jobless and bereft at the loss of the man who had been more like a grandfather than a boss, Karen had left Seattle for the rustic location to mourn and regroup.
When she’d taken possession, the post office had delivered the package they’d been holding for her. A package addressed by the man she’d just buried. She’d found the dagger inside, along with some notes about its history that read like the wildest fantasy.
Maybe Cyril Foster had started to suffer some insidious erosion of his brilliant mind towards the end of his life. Or maybe he really had left a genuine bone-handled Damascus dagger from the 1500s that contained the soul of a mad German werewolf in her keeping.
Since he’d also promised her that she’d be protected by a wolf guardian and warned her of dark forces that had hunted the dagger through the centuries, Alzheimer’s seemed more likely. Except that she’d just been saved by a guardian wolf.
Coincidence? Maybe. But the odd phone calls with nobody on the end of the line that ended with a disconnection, the men who had been waiting by her car and the frequent sensation of being watched that had dogged her since shortly after she’d arrived at the cabin meant something was going on, and that dagger was probably in the middle of it.
Cyril’s collection had been accounted for in his will. As his personal assistant, she’d helped catalog it. This piece hadn’t been included. She’d seen the dagger for the first time when she’d opened the package Cyril had mailed to the cabin the week he died. If nobody knew he’d had it, who would come looking for it? Somebody who knew it was in his possession, somehow. A piece that old, with a history that colorful, somebody must have known something about it. Maybe somebody suspected Cyril had kept it hidden even after his death.
"If you’d bothered to explain any of this while you were alive, it would make my life so much easier,” Karen said out loud.
But he hadn’t, and now he was beyond reach. She couldn’t ask him to explain, couldn’t demand that he tell her what was really going on. All she could do was carry out his final instructions to her and keep the dagger hidden.
The incident in the parking lot made her wish she’d rented a safe deposit box to stash it in. It had seemed safe enough hidden at the cabin before, when she’d believed nobody else knew about it.
She regretted her failure to find a more secure hiding place even more when the sound of an engine outside was followed by the crunch of booted feet on gravel and a knock at her door.
Swiped from Elizabeth Bear, because I love the idea of encouraging the growth of the rest of the story.
First lines from Works in Progress:
The sun was shining. The birds were singing. I curled my lip in a silent snarl.
Kiss of the Demon
Neviah Thomas looked at the tarot card depicting a lightning-struck tower and knew she was in for a bad day.
“I want you to seduce her.”
Nick Morgan, former Army Ranger, experienced operator in the world theatre of international terrorist hot spots, leaned back and thought, this is what your life has come to.
The gargoyles on the library roof watched me.
“I don’t do love spells.” I narrowed my eyes at the rumpled suit seated across from me.
These are actively-in-progress, I'm not counting my SF/horror short Black Water or a para I haven't decided what to do with (Wishmasters). Grow, grow!
I mentioned my test stories earlier on the blog and I thought it was worth an entry to talk about them. But first, we have to jump into the way-back machine to talk about why I was doing them in the first place.
Long ago and far away, I made my first (and second and third and so on) RWA recognized sales to Ellora's Cave. The first book won an RT award along with earning enough money to encourage me to continue, and my career was off and running...in the erotic romance niche. My first book in print was an anthology with Jaci Burton and Shiloh Walker, among others, so I was in excellent company.
But life and publishing moved on, and I began to see the limitations of the erotic niche from a creative perspective. The boundaries between subgenres blurred, mainstream got hotter, and erotic came with increasing pressure to focus on the exotic and more of it. Books considered "erotic" in the early days are mainstream by today's standards.
For those whose imaginations flourish in the realm of exotic and lots of it, no problem. For me, I found myself increasingly frustrated by the fact that I couldn't focus on aspects of stories I thought were more interesting than sex and that I wanted to devote more space to, but couldn't and still be producing an "erotic" romance. The endless pressure to be hotter, hotter, hotter, interfered with my creativity and I began to struggle to write at all.
I tried writing a romance with no sex on the page, but that didn't seem like a balance to me. Romance, let's face it, deals with sex. Sex is not the be-all and end-all, but it's part of romance. And very, very few romances have none, unless they're inspirational. Which is not where I fit.
The problem of sex and romance and how to balance it with the kind of story I wanted to write led me to set everything I was working on aside and take a break. I considered leaving romance altogether and writing YA or UF solely. But all of my ideas for those genres also had strong romances. So I kind of had to face the fact that my imagination runs to romance. In particular, my writing has a UF/para rom bent that due to the blurring of lines between them is not marketing death anymore.
Enter the test stories. The first one was a test of; could I return to writing the occasional erotic story and be happy with it? The answer was a flat no. I couldn't get past chapter one.
The second one, Mad Stone, was a test of writing the kind of story I wanted to write, the way I wanted to write it; UF with romance and heat. It was fun to write, and while it was not easy, and I invested a huge amount of work into it for the final word count, it did what I wanted it to do. It was the story I wanted to write, the kind of story I'd like to read. And it proved to me that I am ready to pick up the work I set aside and finish it, putting romance and sex and story together in the blend that I think serves best.
It would be a real fairy-tale happy ending if this led to fame, fortune, NYT bestsellerdom and book contracts galore, but the most important thing, believe it or not, is that I'm happy with what I'm writing. I hope that makes readers as happy as it makes me.
A lot of my mental creative space has been taken up with tons of decision making lately. It's easy to see how this happens with real life events, but something I didn't really take into account is how this happens in fiction, too.
In real life, I realized I was pregnant this fall, which triggered a thousand decision dominoes. About the only straightforward decision was who to see for maternity care, since the doc who delivered the last child hadn't left the country or retired. From there on, it was decisions all day long. Even diapers aren't simple anymore. Everything had to be investigated, considered, and decided.
In creating a work of fiction, I have a similar array of choices to weigh and make. Mad Stone is short, but I still had so many things to decide. Even once the logistics of the plot were nailed down, there were character-based decisions that dictated who was present where and when, the order of events, whose goals were driving each scene.
I think it's a lot easier when you have fewer choices, or aren't aware of them. But once you become aware of the array of choices you have for each scene, each act, each story, you have to think through the consequences and choose the one that best fits what you're trying to accomplish, what reflects the theme and tone of the story, what is consistent with the world and characters, what is most effective.
I keep wondering why writing doesn't get easier the older and more experienced I get. I think Mad Stone is somewhere around my 30th work, and one of the "benefits" of all that experience is that I'm very, very aware of the array of choices I have and the tools at my disposal.
Writing with blinders on, when I saw fewer possibilities and choices, was probably a lot faster. The flip side of this is that experience lets me identify problems and see solutions much, much faster than it did in the blinder days when I once set a book aside for several years because I couldn't see the solution.
Decision making takes creative energy and space, but having a lot of choices at our disposal means that we can create something better and richer in the end. I will tell myself that while I get frustrated with how long it's taking me to write this chapter because I have to decide whose scene it is and if changing a planned order of events will give it more impact.
So many projects, and the clock is ticking down on the due date. Mine, not the projects, but I plan to finish all I can before the Big Arrival, after which I will do a lot of napping and reading and also diaper-changing.
I did an experimental story towards the end of the year which taught me a lot. I then wrote Mad Stone, a Neuri novelette in between Animal Attraction and Red Queen, which taught me even more. I am now applying what I've learned to Red Queen and have high hopes it will see the light of day this year, as the book I wanted it to be.
Other stuff in the works: standalone ebook versions of Shoot to Thrill and Wolf at the Door. (Finished but the formatting, covers, etc. will take time.)
Under development: Channeling Cleopatra, probably also a standalone ebook. Unless I shock myself by finding a NY taker for a book about ancient weapons of mass destruction and the professor and medically-discharged Army Ranger attempting to keep them out of the wrong hands while failing to keep their hands off each other. Kiss of the Demon, which is really dark and probably not a good one to work on with impending post-partum insanity looming, but then again, maybe it'll be therapy.
For today, switching over to this playlist:
Billy Idol, White Wedding
Social Distortion, When She Begins
Naruto, Dragon Rising
Naruto, Hero's Comeback
Social Distortion, Ball and Chain
Foo Fighters, Learn to Fly
Powerman 5000, Action
Social Distortion, When the Angels Sing
Mazzy Star, Fade Into You
The Clash, Rock the Casbah