I’m at Word Whores today giving a bit of time-travel convention recap. I promise to go into the cupcake incident later. Really.
It involves stilettos.
I’m at Word Whores today giving a bit of time-travel convention recap. I promise to go into the cupcake incident later. Really.
It involves stilettos.
After night fell, we could see the flames along the ridge. From our porch 35 miles away, we could see the flares rise and fall.
The good news is, the weather might be turning. Pray for rain for us, and less for those getting flooded!
Being a writer is a pretty good gig.
Last night I assembled these, so I can ship them off today. No jump drives this time – just little bubble bottles, which is fun. And considerably less expensive, especially considering I’ve got 240 of the little cuties. (I was going to call them “suckers” and changed my mind.) The labels also say that Sapphire is coming soon.
It ended up being a family effort. David helped me wrap the labels around the tubes and attach the ribbons. At one point he informed me there is no such thing as an incorrect job, only unique ones. The kitties helped, too. If you get one with a ribbon that looks a bit gnawed on, well, that makes it extra special.
Zip didn’t help because there was a thunderstorm in the movie we watched, so he had to take cover.
It’s funny thinking about that Petals and Thorns has been out for nearly a year. July 13 is her one-year birthday. Last year, the RWA convention was a month later (actually this year is a fluke and is occurring a month early) and so I was there about two weeks after Petals and Thorns released. Once there I thought, golly gee whiz, I should have done some promo, but it flat out didn’t occur to me.
Part of is was that I didn’t get my cover until about a week before the release date, so it would have been tight.
But I also think that I didn’t really value this little book. It wasn’t a Big 6 book deal. It wasn’t one of my novels. It certainly didn’t compare to what some of my friends were going to convention with.
Comparisons – such invidious things.
Now, a year later, I’ve seen how well Petals and Thorns has done. The reviews, the private messages, the sheer enthusiasm of the readers – well, it’s all been just lovely.
So this will be my last big push for her and it’s really mostly to scatter rose petals for Sapphire‘s debut. Hopefully Petals and Thorns will win some prizes this year, receive her tiara and have her promenade down the cat walk.
It’s been a good year.
No, I haven’t gotten one of those treadmill desks. Mostly because I think it would look ugly in my office. Priorities, people!
The other thing I’ve been forgetting to mention is that I’ll be in Memphis this weekend. The River City Romance Writers are hosting me on Saturday and we’ll be talking about novellas and “writing tight.” Should be very fun. The rest of the time you’ll likely find me wandering Beale Street with a frozen daiquiri in my hand.
If all goes as planned, that is.
Today I find myself between projects. I remember this feeling, from when I was only a reader. I’d finish a novel and, still swimming in the lovely world the author had created, try to decide what to do next. More often than not, I’d turn back to the first page and start over again. Or go through and re-read my favorite bits – which usually morphed into a full second read anyway.
Then I’d choose the next book. Sometimes this would be dictated by school, or by what was due at the library soon. But every once in a while I enjoyed the luxury of spreading out all the waiting books and selecting whatever seemed most exciting.
I’m kind of there right now.
I’ve sent off all my “supposed to’s.” All my deadlines, internal and external, have been met. I’m holding off until after the RWA conf on one novel. The other is out. I’m all caught up.
Work is quiet, too. I’d really pushed to finish things, both in work and writing, because I anticipated this month would get crazy. But the projects haven’t come in yet. They’re still hovering on the horizon, like storm clouds that will eventually gain enough momentum to swoop down on us.
But for now the sun is shining and I feel like I should be making hay. Instead I’m kind of lying in the grass, lazily eating strawberries.
The Strawberry moon is a gentle moon, isn’t she? Full and sweet, serene in the twilight sky.
I might sit here and enjoy it, just a little longer.
Let me tell you the story.
See, I’m going to the RWA National Conference the last week of June. This will be my fourth time. This year I knew I’d be invited to the Carina party, as one of their authors. Author cocktail party? Pretty much a slam dunk in fashion-planning department.
Now I had a bit of an additional complication, in that I discovered the Carina cocktail party would be right before the FFP Gathering. Not a big deal, right? One party to the next, stick to the same drink, all is fine, tra-la tra-lay.
Only there’s one little hitch: the FFP party is a Superhero theme and I have my heart set on being Cat Woman. I don’t think I’m ruining any surprises here by leaking that, especially since I fully expect to be far from the only Cat Woman at a Superhero party attended primarily by women. In fact, I figured I’d just go to the Carina party in my Cat Woman outfit. It’s pretty demure, since I’ll be more of a Michelle Pfeiffer version than the Halle Berry iteration since, hello, I do not have Halle Berry’s vicious body. Dress myself only in black leather straps? I don’t think so. My costume looks like this (sorry it’s so small) and I figured I could be brassy and just wear it to the cocktail party, too.
But, and this is a big “but,” then I was happily invited to the Harlequin party, too. I wasn’t expecting to, but since Carina is a Harlequin imprint, they included us questionable digital types. It’s after the FFP party, so that’s fine. And, hey, everyone says it’s THE party to go to, so woo hoo! Except, I get the invite and it’s a rooftop Black and White ball, formal dress.
I’ve got nothing.
Clearly I’m not wearing the Cat Woman outfit there. Even if it wasn’t an outfit that can’t be worn outside of air conditioning (lemme tell you, that thing does NOT breathe), it just ain’t formal, by any stretch. I look in my closet – nothing. You know what that means, right?
I’m going in a couple of weeks, have practically no time to shop, and no inspiration.
So, I’m getting my hair done – my carefully planned pre-conference beautifying appointment – flipping through Vanity Fair and whining about my fashion emergency to a sympathetic Larry. I get to the above Katy Perry pic and say, this! This is what I should wear. Larry peers over my shoulder. “That’s perfect,” he says, “that’s exactly what you should wear.”
I say, “Um, Larry, that outfit is Gautier and out of my league on so many levels it’s not funny.”
“Oh no,” he waves the scissors in the air, “you could totally fake this outfit.”
He outlines how I’ll do it. Do I have a black skirt I could slit up the front? As a matter of fact, I do. I have a black pleather pleated Jones New York skirt that would work. Put a white lace slip or skirt under it, black heels, black leggings – I love how he never once considers putting white stretch lace on my thighs – with a big white blouse on top, belted with a fabulous Santa Fe belt.
Of course, this is not so easy as it sounds. (Did it even sound easy?)
Once I left the salon, clutching my pic of Katy Perry in *my* outfit, which Larry thoughtfully tore out of the magazine for me, I began to lose heart.
“Just find a little black dress,” my mother counsels. “You don’t have time for this.”
I went shopping Saturday morning and nothing, just nothing lit me up. I began to despair. Sunday I hit the consignment stores and Goodwill thinking I could cannibalize a wedding dress for the white lace underskirt. Big goose egg.
Then, in Dillards, of all places, I found a big white jacket – spunky, sheer and shimmery. It’s the last one, and I make the sales gal take it off the mannequin for me. It’s a large, turns out, but that works perfectly. I find some black leggings with black lace edging at Kohls. Already bought funky black heels for the Cat Woman look. I’m rolling now.
Back at home, I start Googling for wedding slips. KAK is helping me via IM. But even her Google-Fu, which is very strong, fails. She does, however, find me this fab black corset to wear under the white jacket.
Now we just need the lace skirt, which totally should not be this hard. But it is.
She’s combing eBay. Laura Bickle comes on IM and I catch her up on the Story So Far. Almost immediately, Laura finds this skirt on eBay. It’s perfect. It’s in Hong Kong.
So, all the parts are acquired or on order. Yeah, we’ll see how it all works out.
I think it will be fabulous. I’ll try to post pics of the final product.
Could never have done this without my pals.
Today is Carina Press’s one year anniversary. Word-Whores is hosting one of Carina’s executive staff, Aideen O’Leary-Chung, Director of Digital Commerce for Harlequin and Carina Press. If you hie over there, you stand to win some pretty fab prizes.
It’s funny that it’s been a year since Carina launched. So much has happened since then. Reading through the various posts (there are 20 in all), it’s interesting to hear the reminiscences of the Carina folks. It makes me remember how it all appeared to us, from the outside.
Today is the anniversary of Carina’s launch – when they debuted their first books to the world. But we first heard about Harlequin’s new digital imprint quite a bit before that. The news astonished everyone because, *gasp* Carina would not be offering advances.
This sent RWA into a frenzy. The Romance Writers of America non-profit corporation is one of, if not the most, powerful writers organizations in the world. The venerable standard of RWA has been, for decades, that to qualify as an approved publisher, they must give their writers advances. This has been a non-negotiable standard that, really, any legitimate publisher could meet. It was a low bar for a very long time.
And then the world turned and times changed.
With the advent of electronic publishing, paying the author up front no longer made so much sense. Instead epubs offer authors much higher royalties (~35% for most as opposed to 8-10% for print). Carina chose that business model.
Well, this turned into a BFD, because Carina was an imprint of Harlequin, which means just a subset of the overall company, and Harlequin has been the queen of romance publishing for longer than RWA has been in existence. And boom! Harlequin could no longer be an approved publisher by RWA.
At the time, no one could understand why Harlequin was doing it. They were accused of vanity publishing (where authors pay to get published). People thought they were completely nuts to potentially compromise their publishing empire for, what? some stupid ebooks??
They sorted it out. I believe (and someone correct me if I’m wrong) Harlequin satisfied RWA by legally separating themselves from the Carina digital arm. Harlequin is approved. Carina is not.
And look what the last year has wrought.
Ebooks are now the only part of the publishing market that’s growing instead of losing money. More and more people have ereaders. Everyone wants to digitally publish. I’d love to see a list of all the epubs started in the last six months.
I set my sights on Carina because they have the forward-thinking excitement and savvy of the electronic market founded on the Harlequin rock of excellent business sense. I’m so pleased that Sapphire will be published by them in October.
Happy One-Year Anniversary Carina Press!
I’m over at Word Whores today, confessing that it’s not just about the words.
I haven’t been doing Crazy Gym Lady quotes lately, because I’m trying to practice tolerance. Which, for me, means not paying attention to her. But I couldn’t resist this one.
There’s been a lot of discussion about the RWA National Conference coming this summer. Mainly people being aghast at the costs. It takes place in New York City, so prices are higher. The hotel rooms are $211/night for double occupancy, which seems to be shockingly high to many people. The registration fee is higher, because the hotel costs are higher.
At this point, people start working their budgets. They look at outlay and profit. Investment and return. I see a lot of people discussing whether they’ll sell enough books, or get a high enough advance to justify the outlay. If you’re responsible about your finances, this is what you do, you weigh your cost versus your benefits.
The problem is, attending a convention like this brings mainly intangible benefits.
The success gurus all say that, if you want to be successful in your field, you should hang with the very successful people in your field. They advise to do whatever it takes just to be in the same room with the millionaires and billionaires. Now remember, these are usually people giving advice on businesses like real estate, investment banking, stock brokerage, entrepeneurial ventures. They regard the opportunity to get a 30-second piece of advice from one of the giants as invaluable. From being around them, you learn the realities of their lives and their business. So you actually know whether a lawyer uses Excel. Unfortunately for aspiring folks in these fields, it’s very difficult to get near the giants. They are simply not accessible, much less willing to give even less than a minute of their time.
It seems to me that people don’t recognize the opportunity RWA offers this way.
The millionaires in our field? They show up. They give keynote addresses. Susan Elizabeth Phillips gives an annual workshop on the secrets of writing a bestseller. I sat in the bar next to Nora Roberts while she had drinks and discussed the business. She also offers a seminar where people can ask her anything at all. Linda Howard chatted with me in the elevator. These are our millionaires, hanging out in the hotel bar and offering advice freely.
This just doesn’t happen in other fields. Even other genres.
I met Annie Proulx six or seven times, easily. She lived near my town and occasionally attended literary events. Every single time she was reintroduced to me, she acted like she’d never seen me before in her life. And this was not a big town. My friend, RoseMarie, and I were working up a great idea for an anthology about bars in the West. I asked Ms. Proulx if she’d be interested in contributing. She laughed in my face. Then glanced at some of the people she considered to be “real writers,” sneered and walked away.
Yeah, she’s a cantankerous type, but she wasn’t the only Big Name Writer to behave this way. When people get to be Very Important, they can become this way. Wanna-bes in their field are only so much dirt beneath their feet. They’re not going to help you.
Not like in RWA.
I included the photo above from two years ago at the convention, because these two fabulous authors, Jeri Smith-Ready and Cynthia Eden, became my friends. They’re not in the millionaire crowd yet, but they’re headed that way. They weren’t the Mean Girls, hanging only with the successful authors. And I know they never will be. They received help along the way and they offer help. Which is what it’s all about.
This kind of thing? It’s beyond price.
Not about me, alas, but about her client, Ms Thing, a big name author who had an Exciting New Book coming out. I happened to be president of a special interest chapter of the Romance Writers of America (RWA) that is especially interested in the genre Exciting New Book was in. Publicist Gal asked if we’d just love to put up an ad on our website for Ms Thing and her Exciting New Book. In exchange, she’ll send us a copy of Exciting New Book, so we can read it and talk it up.
Now, RWA is a big writers organization. Upwards of 10,000 members last I checked. One of the rules for all RWA chapters is that, as a non-profit organization, we can’t be in the business of selling books. This is an IRS thing and no one messes with the IRS. So we can’t post book covers or ads for our own members on our chapter website, so as to avoid the appearance of being a mall or bookstore and thus competing with for-profit businesses. Ms Thing, incidentally, is not a member of our chapter.
This might be somewhat arcane, but I kind of thought a publicist wanting to use social media like a chapter website or blog hosted by an RWA chapter, and where RWA is pretty much synonymous with romance in publishing, would know this kind of thing.
Okay, no. So, I’m a nice person. (Oh, hush up. I try to be a polite person.) I explain this to her, but I make her an offer. Our chapter has hundreds and hundreds of members (somewhere between 500 and 1,000, last I checked), who read and write in this genre. I offer to host a special chat for her on our site. Ms Thing could hang for an hour, answer select questions, talk up her Exciting New Book and give a copy away. This would really be the idea way to expose her to a whole bunch of people at once, who would then buy and talk up her book.
This would be an effective use of social media, to my mind.
Alternatively, I offered that Ms Thing could put something up on our chapter blog, a short article or what have you.
Publicist Gal emails me back and informs me that Ms Thing is Far Too Busy to do either of these things. It was a fairly snippy thanks, but no thanks. She says maybe she’ll send me a copy. If she had, our blogmistress could have given it away there at some point.
I really wonder if Ms Thing ever even knew about this conversation. Was she really Far Too Busy to spend an hour chatting with a potential audience of hundreds online? People who, if won over, would likely talk it up to hundreds more? What struck me most was that this professional publicist was attempting to use social media in such a ham-handed way. I know it’s a rapidly changing world and it’s not easy to keep up, but Publicist Gal was clearly still thinking in terms of billboards and magazine ads.
Now, maybe Ms Thing is bigger than that. Maybe she didn’t need us, which would be lovely for her.
Still, I think the lesson is, even if you are lucky enough to be Mr or Ms Thing, and you have a Publicist, I would be looking pretty carefully at how they’re handling social media. Really, the whole idea of social media is personal contact, not interaction via your publicist. I realize not everyone is good at this, but having your publicist engage in personal contact on your behalf is, um, not really the point.
That’s it for today. I’m afraid I’m Far Too Busy for any more of this bloggity stuff.
Another view of yesterday’s sunrise. This morning’s was also lovely, but I was on a business call, alas, and could not immortalize it.
You’ll have to imagine it.
Today is also a banner day for Petals and Thorns. I received my monthly author statement of royalties earned from Loose Id. I’ve now made enough to qualify for their Published Author Network (PAN) status. Nice threshold to cross for me.
Earlier this month I posted my statistics for Petals & Thorns so far. So you might look at that first, since I’m just adding to the summary here. Let’s play Old Spice man – go look at that graph.
Now look at this one.
Now look at that one.
The source of the amazing jump in December? Fictionwise sales.
Right – who knew?
Fictionwise sales accounted for 86% of my December reported sales. Amazon showed up for the first time, too, with 10% of sales. Sony was another first-time show with 3% of sales. Loose Id only produced 2% of sales.
(Yeah, I know that’s 101% – I rounded, okay?)
Those of you keeping score at home will note that last month’s big seller, All-Romance ebooks, did not have any sales this month. I suspect that this has to do with when they report sales, rather than real-time sales statistics. I’m betting the big surge in Fictionwise represents sales over possibly the last six months.
It will be interesting to see.
I realized in writing yesterday’s post that I consider post-winter solstice to be the start of the new year. Probably my pagan ancestors whispering in my ear.
At any rate, this feels like a fine start to the new year.