The wrong way to ask for blurbs, choosing POV for a given scene and how experienced authors should give ourselves credit for more complex approaches, and a bit on animal behavior and whether cats can tell time.
The wrong way to ask for blurbs, choosing POV for a given scene and how experienced authors should give ourselves credit for more complex approaches, and a bit on animal behavior and whether cats can tell time.
Great week for me! Talking about being up front with my new editor on how I *can’t* write an outline, a bit about knife-throwing and learning to relish failure as much as success, and the monsoon rains of autumn.
About “rules” – on publishing and on creating worlds and magic systems – and how to know when to ignore what other people have to say. Also, the perils of being clever: just… don’t.
My bizarre story about mistaken identity and the revelation it gave me on how we talk to each other and – most importantly – how writers communicate with agents. Also, highly recommend the Willamette Writers Conference!
A round-up of what I’ve been reading lately, including several excursions from my normal reading. I’m thinking about female/femme narratives and how we center those (or don’t) in terms of stories about men.
A bit of advice on how Patreon works, about my meeting with Graphic Audio and how fantasy words like “Cosmere” become part of the industry lingo, and some <
Can you miss something you never had? Also thoughts on creative crisis, how I always hit a point where I think the book I’m writing is TERRIBLE, and upcoming plans for my mentoring/coaching Patreon and Discord community!
Exciting news from Tor on their new romantic imprint, Bramble. Also thoughts on my struggles with ROGUE FAMILIAR and why I should learn to take my own writing advice.
Some more figures of what some authors are NOT making in traditional publishing, along with thoughts on agents – how to tell the good ones from bad (and there ARE good ones!), red flags, and how the business works.
Good morning, everyone! This is Jeffe Kennedy author of epic fantasy romance I’m here with my first cup of coffee. Delicious. Ah today is Tuesday August Ninth Eight Nine sounds like a good date to me. Um, yeah, so I’m wondering. What I have to say today some mornings oh look if you’re on video. You’ll have an Isabel sighting in the background Isabel’s out here in the secret garden with me is it. She pretty. She’s a blue smoke Maine coon cat I love how she’s got that. Faintest hint of blue to her fur. So yeah, she’s feeling sprightly this morning. She’s the the queen the main Coon Queen cat she’s sixteen sixteen and a half now and she loves going out and messing around in the garden. So um, yeah, you know some mornings I come out here I have my notes some mornings I have lots of thoughts in my head other mornings I’m sort of like a a nice mellow blank today’s a nice mellow blank I’m feeling. Nicely relaxed. Got more stuff done yesterday kind of catching up on my list. Ah I’ve noticed how the lists have been creeping into the books. Ah, they always have so I suppose that’s just like one of my things. But I notice that they are in the covenant of thorns books they’re in the bonds of magic books. Not so much the one I’m writing not so much in shadow wizard but I got my two k on shadow wizard yesterday I got it in. Reasonable amount of time. Got it early in the day so that was great. Um I’m let’s see doing pretty well I think um, little shy of 48,000 words which I know.
That’s like I’m past midpoint I still have half the book to go but it’s feeling downhillish at this point I’m also reading a book I’m really enjoying ah and I’m hoping that I will be able to recommend it to you? ah. I need to get back on putting reviews on good reads Amazon book bub. Ah I kind of fell off of doing it I don’t know why I don’t know maybe I just sort of ran out of time but I would like to get back into doing that. Because I’ve read several good books lately and I say them on here but I feel like that’s fairly transient so I would like to go ahead and get that going again. Um I did have some um reaction to yesterday’s podcast a few different people asked me if they had heard correctly when I said that um and and it’s it’s really ebooks. That I’m talking about where an author can earn $3 a book $5 a book maybe depending on the price point. Um whereas yes from trash ah print books. We don’t earn nearly so much from ah and they’re already. They’re so expensive to produce. That’s the thing about being a self-published author is the print books are expensive because we can’t do it in bulk. We don’t have access to a printing press the the pod cost is fairly high. Ah, the like Amazon or Ingram delivery cost is fairly high so we are not able to get as much of a percentage from those not without pricing the book even higher and I think none of us wants to do that. It already feels like a. Egregious to charge you know like $18 for a trade paperback. But even when that happens a lot of times like I’m only making ¢50 on the book or something like that. It’s um, it’s fence service. It’s having print books is because. Some of you still want print books which is fine. That’s no problem at all. It’s just um, where you where you make the bulk of your income is on the ebooks if we didn’t have those we probably wouldn’t be able to do it. We wouldn’t be able to make sell enough books to make an income to live on.
But but yes, um, for tread publishing whether it’s print or ebook a dollar per book. Maybe that’s that’s good If you’re getting that much a lot of people are not getting that much and um. Yeah, it’s just a. It’s the way it is. It’s just a sucky cut. Um.
Um, yeah, it’s you know they they hold all the cards basically and you know and even then you know you’re almost certainly paying you know 15% of that then to your agent. So. That that could come before or after the dollar a book but you know a dollar goes down to ¢85. It’s um, unless you’re selling a whole lot of books. It’s just hard to make money to live on in trad. And so it goes and I’ve recently learned of a major publisher. Not one of the big 5 or big 4 um, it’s sounding like the merger is going to be improved. People are sad about it. But. And our current um climate of corporations running the country. It seemed almost inevitable running the world. Maybe so yeah, a lot of writers were lamenting it yesterday on social media. Isabel’s down next to me here. Isabel’s not concerned. She says cats don’t worry about acquisitions and mergers know course Pat cats are also arguably parasites is that right. She says as long as the cat food keeps coming. You know that’s why I write the books is to feed the cats. Yes yes, Minerva Spencer says that Isabel has a smoker’s meow. Ah she does kind of she. Um, she’s totally deaf now. So she has to be very loud to be assured that she is meowing and it’s hell on the vocal chords. Yeah, so um, so yeah, those are the breaks. What was I saying about the oh this other publisher. So. So those are the big ones and that’s why we say the big but then there are other like midsize presses or smaller presses. So you know like there other ones are like source books Kensington um. Oh I think the mosquito candles making me sneeze.
Who I tried to pause and then at impa. Sorry let me scoot this away I was clever this time and came out and lit the candle before I got out here and gave it a little while to drive the mosquitoes away that seems to be the effective method. So how? yeah like Tachyon there used to be other ones you don’t like skyhorse and all these others anyway, those are not the great big ones. That people mean when they’re talking about the big houses Isabel’s checking out that candle now. Yeah stinky here now she’s sleeping leaving in a huff we haven’t had um cat wrangling. On the podcast in a while. So um, so yeah I recently learned of another publisher that’s not 1 of the biggies. But that’s well known, especially in romance publishing that is offering a terrible percentage on ebooks and. 1 of my friends at Apollycon who has a very successful series told me that last year and she was sad about it that she made about $1400 in the whole year and I told somebody else this and they were like. That author but her books are doing amazing and I was like yeah um and her agent says that she doesn’t really understand the contract. Um, when my friend asked about well shouldn’t I be getting. Royalties for like the audio books or the foreign rights and stuff that our agent was like oh well I don’t know um and and I said to her friend I said that’s a really bad sign you know and it’s like. I love that people come to me for advice but I think sometimes people regret coming to me for advice because and you should all know this I’m happy to talk to you like at conventions or you know over drinks are many things I will say to in person that I will not say on the podcast. But. You know if if you do ask me for advice I’m I’m going to give it to you pretty straight and I told her you’ve got to leave this agent if your agent doesn’t understand your contract then this is a problem. It’s a problem.
Red flag and she says oh I know but you know she’s stuck with me. She took me when no one else would and you know I owe her and you guys I hear this story so many times and in its. Hard I know it’s hard because we love our agents. We do feel that um, it’s like the first love we. We are grateful to them and they it does feel like they took a chance of us when no one else would. And I definitely felt that way about my first agent and I don’t know why if I would have left her if she hadn’t gone into like a total spiral and left the agency and went to an agency where I couldn’t sign the contract. Um. I don’t know what I would have done I’m glad I didn’t have to make that choice leaving my second agent was a really hard choice even though I was terribly disappointed in him and I had gone through a couple of um, like performance improvement plans with with him. Which is that’s why yeah so I spoke too soon on the mosquitos that one went right for my nose. Um, that’s my corporate America coming out but it’s like okay you know I’m not happy with how this is working and so we’d come up with these things that you know for him to do. And then he didn’t do those things I was working with the senior agent in the firm. That’s the other thing about this from that I’m talking about is that her agent just has her own agency. There’s not even a senior agent to go to and so which is the first advice I would give is is if you are. Maybe not the first but still if you are unhappy with what your agent is doing or if you’re wondering if you should be managing expectations in some way you go to the senior agent at the agency and say here’s what I want and this is not what’s happening. And you know what do you recommend and and the senior agent in mine was very receptive but my agent still didn’t still didn’t do it and and break and that breakup felt like it felt like a divorce. It really did it was um, hugely emotional. My friends got sick of listening to me but it had to be done and and I feel like I’m still seeing echoes of of the ways in which he messed up my career.
Um, and and it’s very true and I’m sort of going off on this whole agent tangent I didn’t mean to but it’s probably worth revisiting. You know the the old adage that a bad agent is worse than no agent at all is really true and I feel like spending several years with my bad agent. And still seeing effects. But I’m still digging out of that and I love my current agent Sarah Younger at Nancy Yost literary agency who is unfortunately not taking more clients I I even asked her at Apollycon when ah. Because I was thinking maybe I could get my friend to move over to her if I could get my friend to give up this loyalty to this terrible agent and I I feel very comfortable calling this agent terrible if your agent says they don’t understand the contract I mean that’s literally their job. So I asked Sarah oh are you still not taking new clients or I said are you taking new clients and she actually physically flinched. She’s like and she said she’s just not able to keep up with all of her current clients and she’s still sort of digging out of that pandemic hole on that as well. so unfortunately and me someday but um so yeah why is my friend only making $1400 a year. She got paid twice in you know every six months and she said it was about $700 each time. And yeah yeah I mean she’s not gonna be out on the streets because she has a salaried spouse which is great but it’s disheartening when you have a very successful series. I mean I’m not kidding when I say this is a successful series. It’s it’s gotten amazing reviews and it’s very well known and how is she only getting this much money. Ah, it’s it’s criminal really. So. Um, I’m never going to be 1 of those people and there’s one in particular I can think of who like in in SFWA on discord and so forth or the forums every single time someone says something about an agent. This guy has to pop up and. Do a blast against how horrible agents are and ah it’s just like dude but he’s also I don’t know um, unpleasant in his opinions in many ways.
So I don’t think that all agents are terrible I think that agents are very helpful to a career particularly if you’re dealing with things like print and foreign rights and I don’t believe that hiring a lawyer is the same thing but um, but there. There are bad agents out there and they they gave give the good agents a bad name and so there it is um otherwise let’s see what’s going on I I feel like this is this is exciting news for me and not important to anything else. But I got my nails done yesterday and we may have gotten I’m trying to show you. It’s kind of better there. We go. Ah, we may have gotten a green that I really like since this is why birthday month and green is my favorite color I was trying to get a good green and. For some reason. It’s really hard to find a good green nail polish so much good green in nature. Not so much. It must be really hard to reproduce a green pigment because it’s hard to find good greens and clothing too. So I’m very happy with my green nails small things. Right? Ah, yeah, so I went long yesterday. So I think it’s okay to go shorter today I will um yeah, talk to you all on Thursday you all take care bye bye.
A bonus podcast today because our outing was canceled, so I’m talking about why I find the tour of Georgia O’Keeffe’s winter home and studio a mystical experience and why I think all creatives should do it.
Good morning, everyone! This is Jeffe Kennedy author of epic fantasy romance I’m here with my first cup of coffee.
Ah, sheer bliss today is say it with me friday. Ah, woo woo July First happy New Month rabbit rabbit we used to have this superstition that my mom taught me um that if you say rabbit rabbit. Um, the first day of the month None thing that you say when you wake up on the first day of the month that you’ll have good luck for the rest of the month and then my mom eventually decided that it actually created bad luck and we stopped saying it a long time ago. She’s to be much more. Superstitious that she is now Jackson is out here with me this morning and I’m having to keep an eye on him because he is um he is pushing his boundaries like it’s like having a None ar old kid around. And he’s a mature cat. You would think that we wouldn’t have this but um, he has been trying to go over the wall. He’s been trying to take advantage of this recent freedom of being allowed out here by going over the wall and yesterday he. Did he went on an excursion I think maybe Kelly didn’t realize she shouldn’t let him out and we thought he was sleeping somewhere and he showed up on the front porch all tired because he’d been on an excursion and now he thinks that that’s what he gets and I’ve been telling him. No. So forgive me as I keep an eye on him. So I thought I’d made a mistake yesterday when I said talk to you all tomorrow because I blaatedly realized that I wasn’t going to be able to do a podcast today. Because we were going up to Abiquiu but then below and hold here I am because we ended ended up not going had to cancel. So um, yeah, it’s too bad. Ah, the the tldr is that Kelly is not feeling well so we pulled the plug on the excursion which is the the saddest part of it is that these tickets are difficult to get and I got them I don’t know.
three months ago um they’re booked up till August at this point so there’s no no getting new ones I’ll call the place when they open at eight thirty it’s um an hour a half drive away. Um. Jackson no, he went over the wall all right kitty retrieved sorry for yelling in your ears. He is um, thought he was just gonna have a little escapade.
David’s pulling the car out I was like no, what’s happening so much activity today. So anyway, we were going to go do this tour of um, Georgia O’Keeffe’s winter home and studio in Abiquiu. And this would have been like my fourth time I love to take creative friends there and I recommend it if you’re in the Santa Fe region and you’re any type of creative. It’s so worth going because this is where she lived towards the end of her life and she set up this house. Exactly as she wanted it I want to say the latter half of her life. Um up until she had to move into. Um you know, kind of assisted living in Santa Fe when she was very old and declining last couple years. So. Because she was a visual artist. The house is set up with these beautiful windows that capture specific ah swatches of landscape. it’s um it’s like to me this is the pilgrimage. You know it’s like I could take her leave. The the chapel at Chimayo if um, you know I’ll take people to see that if they want to. You know you can go touch the holy dirt as it were um that has no mystical significance to me. Being in Georgia O’Keeffe’s home her studio. Her garden is um that for me is the mystical experience. It is I don’t know there is a there is a vibe to it. There is an energy in the air. There is a. Ah, purity to it that I find it immensely moving. So I’m disappointed that Kelly and Alyx won’t get to experience it. We also had a day passed to Ghost Ranch but that would have been just sort of knocking about and seeing some of the landscape we didn’t have like the the horseback ride or anything. So um, yeah, that’s too bad. It would have been a fun excursion I really wanted Kelly to see it but she woke up this morning. Saying that she’s sure she has strep throat I really suspect. It’s the the dryness of the climate here I could be wrong. It’ll be interesting to see but she went ahead and made an appointment with urgent care. For first thing this morning. So yeah, she um.
She did she kept saying oh well because we were messaging Alyx was messaging me Kelly was messaging me um and she kept saying oh well you and Alyx go and I was like you know if you’re sick enough that oh excuse me. Little bit of a burp there unexpected didn’t even feel it rising up so please excuse me. Ah, yeah, you know I was like you know if you’re sick enough that you have to go to urgent care. Then it’s probably a really bad idea for the 2 of us to be a 2 hour drive away while you’re alone in a city. You’re not familiar with David is here but um. You know and he could have been on call but know and I know that that can be the sickness stocking to sometime I remember being um with one of my colleagues there. We go what’s being weird. Ah, being was one of my colleagues when I had the day job. She was sick with a terrible terrible sinus thing fever um lungs oh she was bad off and we were in Atlanta and we’d been on a long trip where we um. Did Atlanta first and then we were going to fly I can’t remember exactly how we were going to do it but we had to spend the weekend away from home and then the next week in like North Carolina and I think we were flying into North Carolina on Saturday and. It was like Friday afternoon. We’d finished most of our work pouring pouring rain. Ah and it let out the whole time we were there. It was um, it was winter time that cold and dreary atlanta rain nonstop so heavy all the time. I had to go grab my water.
Ah, so much better coffee doesn’t always um quench the throat when it feels dry right? So anyway, this story ended up being long this here’s versimilitude this is like me trying to tell you a single story. As all sorts of things are going on at the restaurant. But um, so she was feeling sick. She was worried about having to fly because her ears were really stopped up and we had finished work early and one of the people we were working with one of the local epa guys found a. Urgent care location for her. Um, right off of the bart station so that we could because of course we had no transportation so that way we could just hop on the train and go there and ah, you know be right? there. And then get back on and get back to our hotel which was also very near it was near that downtown Bart station. Very fun, kind of vintage hotel so we left the Epa offices went to the bart station which I think was like right below the building and she turns to me. She’s so sick and she has big puppy dog guys and she says would you go with me and I was like no it was totally my plan to just like push you onto the appropriate train and say good luck out there I would like. Course I am coming with you anything else would be completely irresponsible. So but that’s how it is when you’re set right? You don’t always I don’t know you feel so pitiful right? So it turned out well she she got the serious antibiotics. We were able to delay the flight by a day so that it was long enough that the doctor said that she should be okay to fly without rupturing her earrums which was a concern. They’re a miracle cure. So anyway, I’m hopeful that they’ll be able to get Kelly fixed up. They’ve got another week here. So many fun things yet to do holiday weekend here in the us and well really in Canada too because that’s part of why we were going today is that it’s Canada day because they are um, working while they’re here particularly Alex who has a. Full time job.
Just kind of a scattered moon around here now. David’s out here in the garden look. It’s Stephan. It distracted me so exciting. Garden news is our lily blossom bloomed so beautiful I took a photo. Yesterday. It’s not yet open this morning cause it closes at night. But I’ll put that on the show notes so that you can see it and so yeah holiday weekend. Um, no big plans for the weekend. Otherwise we’ll try to assure canadian visitors a little bit of um. American fourth of July fund. They interestingly asked me if there would be military flyovers and I was kind of confused by the question at first and I was like well no I mean there would only be like air shows at. You know and that would be if you like went to one
But apparently in Canada and Canada day they have like military demonstrations and it made me realize how in the us that’s really not a thing like our parades are um, we have veterans and we. Have like emergency service vehicles and that sort of thing but we don’t include military equipment in our fourth of July parades. It’s not anywhere I’ve ever lived I don’t know if it’s different where you are but I was telling them about that. That’s part of why it had been such a um. A big freakin’ deal when Trump was elected that he wanted to have the um military parade for his inauguration that shit he’s such a shit and he wanted to have like tanks. And the pentagon put down its foot I don’t remember who it was or how but they said no they said that there has never been and and I was trying to qualify what never was you know like maybe not since the civil war but that there have never been. Military vehicles on us civilian streets in all of our history and it was a good start now. Even if Trump does think that he’s putin and some of these gp conservatives fancy themselves Putin. I take that you know that is one of our our last lines in the sand that I hope we hold to that. Um, we are not a military government and we do not parade military vehicles. Through the sky or the streets or the waters if you’re near water. Um, it was interesting to think about that and think back to all the parades that I’ve seen Ah yeah I mean certainly sometimes you might get like national guard troops marching but not. Like full out military right? so ah so yeah it should be a late back weekend. Maybe we’ll go get to do some fun things shop around and that sort of thing hopefully Kelly will be feeling better Alex is off today because of Canada day. So. I said that I might um, be able to meet up with them later and take them to do some things since Kelly will probably be sleeping and so forth. So I have my writing day back. Unexpectedly so that’s kind of a bonus for me.
Very excited to get that.
So um, yeah, and so bonus Podcast My mom was sorry that I didn’t get to go and I said yeah but hey bonus podcast for you. So I’m gonna. Dash inside and call the Georgia O’Keeffe museum to let them know that we’re not coming. Maybe someone lucky person will be able to use the tour tickets. So I Hope you all have a wonderful weekend holiday weekend or not wherever you are. Hope you get to do some fun things perhaps make some pilgrimages to some illuminating spots.
And um, yeah I will talk to you all on Monday you all take care bye bye.