Sunday, July 5, 2009

Sleepy Sunday

I apologize for being a little late posting this morning, but I am recovering from the Fourth. And no, not THAT sort of recovering. The strongest thing I had to drink yesterday was a Coke. No, I'm recovering from 10 1/2 hours in a parking lot in the Texas heat selling parking just down from our community's Fourth Fest. Considering we had our first car arrive at 0930 and we were starting our fourth row on the adjoining grass field when I left last night, I'm hoping we exceeded our goal.

However, because of that, and because I think I think I sweated a good portion of my brain out yesterday, I'm going to leave you with some links to check out.

From our own Monkey, a very interesting and informative post on e-books and royalties. Be sure to read the link he includes in his post. --

Here is agent Lucienne Diver's take on RWA's decision regarding e-books and advances --

Courtesy of Smart Bitches comes this link for Tips for Writers choosing names for your characters. Now, in the interest of full disclosure [G], Smart Bitches does take exception to the third rule - that exotic names are for romance novels, soap operas and strippers.

Your mission, this morning, should you decide to accept it is to tell me your thoughts about e-books -- are they a valid form of publishing even in the absence of a dead tree version of the book? Any other thoughts you might have about e-books, including authors offering them a chapter at a time for donations or subscription fee.

Also, how do you choose names for your characters -- assuming they let you name them. Some of mine come complete with names and refuse to play nice until I agree they know best.

Have a great Sunday. I'm off to search for more coffee.


Anonymous said...

I think an e-book will be one option available to buyers of any given book, RSN.

I think rather than traditional publishers, we'll see groups of similar-sub-genre authors with websites offering their works in e-book, hardback and paperback form. Writers will fight to get sold through the same websites as some name authors. Already "in" authors will screen harshly to keep the quality up.

Whether any standard publishers survive to compete with them will be determined by how flexible they can become. Bookstores? Eh, maybe. But I'll bet they have an e-catalog along with what they display on the shelf and a POD machine in the back.

How I name characters? Hit a random name generator and get forty or fifty names, then mix and match for melodic resonance. Try to avoid similar names. Try to reason with your Characters (Look, guys Ray, Rae and Roxy just won't do, especially since they interact so often . . . )who have snatched their favorites. Some times I make an alphabetic list and try to force them to behave . . .

With a bit of googleing one can find names of various ethnicity, complete with explanations of any significance (Peasant names vs nobility and so forth).

Anonymous said...

Dave's little spiel on e-books is very interesting. I wish I could find Eric Flint's rant on the subject.

Amanda Green said...

Pam, I think you are probably right, especially concerning the larger, more entrenched in their ways publishing houses. One of the many things I appreciate and respect about Baen is how it approaches e-books. No DRM, the Free Library, etc.

I see more and more authors either offering their books on a chapter a week basis on-line for a minimal donation or actually e-publishing their works themselves and not relying on Amazon or one of the established e-publishers to do it.

As for bookstores, they'll survive but in much smaller numbers than before. At least as regards the immediate future. Still, they have to be reading the writing on the wall. Two of the big box stores near me -- both from the same chain -- have not only more than halved their music and DVD offerings, but they had also pulled almost that many shelves of books. When I went into one of them a couple of weeks ago, I was almost horrified by the sight. So much wasted space that could be used to highlight some really good, mid-list authors.

Names for characters can be a tricky thing, especially when they insist they way to be called something totally out of left field. But, like you, I use a number of different sources for names and their meanings. So far I've been lucky, only one character really demanded a name I hadn't planned on and that's the MC in Nocturnal Origins. I gave in that time. Usually, I don't ;-p

Amanda Green said...

Warpcordova, I agree with you on Dave's post. The site he linked to made for interesting reading as well. As for e-books, I'll admit that Baen has spoiled me. I won't buy an e-book with DRM any more than I will music. I have found many new authors to read through the Free Library.

Now, if only more publishers followed Baen's approach, I'd be a very happy camper.

Anonymous said...

Baen's flexibility is awesome. Most publishers' see a problem, Baen sees an opportunity. I suspect they will survive because of it. What they will look like afterwards may well be the future industry standard.

Amanda Green said...

I agree, Pam, and fingers and toes crossed that Baen comes out not only as strong as they are now, but bigger and better as well.

Kate said...

Hi Amanda,

eBooks are absolutely a valid option - a lot of authors writing well defined niches (like erotica) aren't bothering to even try to sell mainstream.

Right now science fiction and fantasy doesn't have as many generally known and respected epublishers, so we're moving a little slower.

The biggest issue is the filter. Without some sort of gate, we've got to wade through a horrific amount of good, bad and ugly.

Heck, for the most part I don't browse Amazon, I just use them to buy the books I want.

I'm not sure how to get a decent browsing experience into eBooks - I've yet to see anything that compares to the old-fashioned method of walking into store, looking through titles and covers, picking up one that looks interesting and taking a peek, then rinse and repeat. I kind of glaze over looking at a display of covers online, or a list of titles.

Whoever solves that and the gatekeeper function to keep the "oh my God, my EYES!" bad stuff out should become a very well off person indeed.

Amanda Green said...


I agree with you about being able to browse through a real book before buying it. Again, going to Baen, I think they have the right idea by putting sample chapters up for the reader to glance through before making a purchase. And, with Baen, I know generally the quality of writing necessary to get into print, so I don't worry about getting a real stinker.

I think that is one way to handle your concerns. Another is by having those authors we know and trust when it comes to quality and content to join together and e-publish their own works. The only problem with that is getting the "push" they might get from an established e-publisher or traditional publisher.

Where it ends, I won't even begin to guess -- beyond the fact that ebooks are here to stay and the sooner the traditional publishers (and professional organizations) realize it, the better the industry will be.

Anonymous said...

Amanda, I know exactly what you and Kate mean about paging through a book to see if you like it, and I agree completely. Usually you know if you're going to like a book after a few pages, but it's always nice to be able to page through a few chapters just to be sure.

There are also some authors whose books I will buy sight-unseen, whether it's a full-length novel or a story in an anthology, because I'm at the point that I know the authors will deliver -- like the (SHAMELESS PLUG) proprietors and proprietresses of the Mad Genius Blog (subtle bloke, ain't I?)

However, most of the time I do like to look first.

Mind you, when it comes to e-books, it's a little different -- especially with Baen, because they do things pretty damned smart. Here's a good example: when Dave and Eric's The Rats, the Bats, & the Ugly first came out, I was in a bit of a dilemma. I wanted to get the book, but it was out in hardcover and I didn't have the cash. So, I consoled myself with reading the sample chapters for a fix to tide me over until it came out in paperback.

It wasn't enough of a fix :-( So, just for the heck of it, I popped over to WebScriptions to see how high the price of the e-book would be (I hadn't done the "e-book thing" at this point). I figured it'd be up there; after all, this was for the e-edition of a book that was currently in hardcover (and, unfortunately far too many publishers think this way as well).

Imagine my surprise when I saw it was $5! Hell, even though I wasn't swimming in money, I could sure afford five bucks. So, instant purchase right there -- no regrets. It was a little different reading a book on the screen rather than on paper, but I managed. After all, a book that's a damn good read on paper is also a damn good read on a monitor. (I think a big problem is that too many publishers are so hung up on the medium that they forget that it's the message that sells) However, it was a one-off occurrence.

Then "Mad Mike" Williamson had to go and write The Weapon, and, once again, the same thing happened. Started reading the sample chapters, couldn't take it, and hopped over to WebScriptions and bought the e-book. After that, once I had "happenstance" and "coincidence" out of the way, it wasn't really much of a leap to "enemy action" :-D

Amanda Green said...

RJ_CruzeJr, you are right. Baen is positively evil with their e-book preview chapters and, even more so, with their snippet crack. But it also shows yet another reason why they will, imo, survive this crisis the publishing industry is facing. They price their e-books reasonably for the consumer. I don't know about the rest of you, but I don't want to pay $10.00 or more for an e-book, especially not if the authors aren't seeing their fair cut of the price.

Now I have ebooks with me on my PDA or EEE whenever I'm out and about instead of lugging a book with me. And they are great for trips.

Dave Freer said...

Amanda, I think we need 3 sets of conditions to intersect before e-books are really going to become a great thing - firstly readers (as Bob Cruze illustrated) need to accept them as a viable alternative to books. Long haul there, and can't really be done without 2)E-readers need to be good (slightly better than a book for things like print size, weight etc.) and they need to be cheap - in just over the cost of one or at most two hardbacks range IMO. And yes I believe this is perfectly possible. How much is a cheap Chinese mp3 player? 3)The books need to be easy to get and cheap, (and to put myself out on a limb, half the price of a paperback, if sold by the publisher, with 50% of the gross going to the author)
Given those 3 conditions - which I believe are coming, e-publishing will move paper into the realms of 'collectors pieces'. I'll be sad, but that I believe is where it is going. Publishers who don't move into a competitive- gatekeeper-for-this will go extinct.

Amanda Green said...

Dave, you've hit it on the head. Especially when it comes to the price of e-book readers. I have held off buying one because I simply refuse to pay the price of a netbook -- or more -- for the reader. I also resent having to pay to download an e-book I've already bought, as one e-book seller requires.

As for the price and payment to author's, i'll add one more requirement. Some e-book publishers, including some that are fairly well respected, will take out the cost of credit card processing from monies owed the author. Sorry, but even though per unit that isn't all that much, it shouldn't be taken from the author's share, imo.

Okay, off the soap box. Thanks for some great thoughts and a great post and link that got me started thinking on this issue.