Monday, December 6, 2010

The Euphoria, the wild celebrations... ok what is next

Well, I just finished the next book. Now can haz 24 dayz to finish the next... to put it in lolcat (yes, I am crazy).

It's a good story. I am still at the pleased phase. Tomorrow comes the 'it sucks' phase.

I shouldn't have written this one right now, but well, when I look at the wider world of publishing I figure I'm toast anyway so I might as well go down fighting and doing books I want to, as just trying to work with the machine. Anyway, I was dealing with the gamut of book end emotions (I have high-camp endings), and already going through the euphoria and the post partum blues all at once. Saving time. Gotta get it over with - I have another part done book to finish, and I really need to feed e-book market at Naked Reader too. I am increasingly determined that that is what has to be done. I love paper books myself (I also read happily on screen) but the way that paper is working - with order to the nett sales (ie what the author sold last time, or what gets shipped), leaves writers at the mercy of everything anyone else in the chain can mess up. I've just got the royalty statements for DRAGON'S RING and various other books. Let's put it this way, it had a great cover, I've been told it is one of my better stories... but it can't do very well when it only ships 2400 copies. Likewise, the Karres books have done well... but the first book was out of print, before the second book even came out. Which means the figures are a long way under what they could be... which means next time, the order is lower. Which means it can only sell less. I had wondered why my paperback to hardback ratio was dropping while books like Rats Bats and Vats and Pyramid Scheme continue - many years on - to sell around 600 paperback copies a year each and have ratios around 7:1. The answer is easy... you can't sell what isn't for sale.

This is a death spiral, unless you kick out of it somehow. I intend to keep trying. One way is to write under a psuedonym. Another is to co-author. Another is to build your own market, via the e-book side. This has a lot of appeal to me, because it isn't over to someone in marketing or cover design or distribution to make or break your future... which, oddly, is always driver error if it goes wrong, although the driver has no control at all.

Of course the other option is to get the paperback to get ordered well enough. So anyone who feels like giving the powers-that-be a poke in the snoot... order a paperback of DRAGON'S RING - BEFORE it is available on the 28th of December (one the best selling dates ever!;-/) so it can't be sold out and not reprinted. Go on. You like this sort of thing happening to the organ grinder's monkey as much as you like your favorite author's books now costing $84 for a paperback. (needless to say, the author still sees 64 cents).

And tomorrow I continue with writing the sequel. Which they have bought - after the sales figures for the hardback. Don't ask me... I only work here ;-).

So let's talk about the ending of books. Of how you move on. Or of ideas on how to break the death spiral...
Because you're never too old (to write or rock and roll)
If you're too young to die.

21 comments:

C Kelsey said...

I finished a short story last night. It's a Christmas story. Which of course means that while now is a good time for writing Christmas shorts, it's not exactly a good time to get them published so that people in the Christmas spirit can read it.

Also, I finished it last night and then immediately started editing. Whatever mental ability I was using to do this left me exhausted. I wonder if I'll like it when I look at it this evening, or if it will stink?

Luckily, tonight is the perfect time to reread it and decide it stinks. I'm going to the dentist right after I reread it. Which means I get to be mouth tortured for writing a bad story (or, if it turns out to be good I'll just have to endure a little cleaning). ;-)

MataPam said...

Death Spiral.

Sarah's done reasonably well with multiple pen names. Can a publisher use a new name to push more books past the store buyers? Or is that _will_ a publisher push more books?

Ebooks keeps standing out as a beacon of hope . . . but we have no idea whether they really are, or if we're being lured by the shipwreckers' false beacon.

Bad analogy, there. The ebook publishers all want to make money, but they seem to be working to give the writers a bigger cut, and keep our careers from foundering.

It would be so much easier if we just had accurate maps, with the shoals marked in bright red.

Jason Cordova said...

Hrm... usually it's more of a 7 & Seven celebration, followed by the inevitable "Now what?" moment.

I don't know if it's a death spiral, but there is a strange feeling of loss after a few days. Maybe post-creative depression?

That could explain why God was so annoyed and flooded the world... post-creation stress disorder?

...I'm so going to hell...

Dave Freer said...

C Kelsey - if you're anything like me, by tonight it will suck. I had the dentist yesterday with my finish... personally I think Christmas stories written now are dead set for next year :-). Give yourself time to distance from it.

Dave Freer said...

Matapam - the problem with multiple pen names is it's a case of finding a NEW audience every time. I have a small loyal band of readers - I estimate around 600 who seek out everything I write, buy in hardcover (I know one much appreciated fan who buys the e-book, the hardcover, and 3 paperbacks - to lend out. This is a jewel past price to a writer). When you consider the hardcover sales volumes are low 17K will put you onto the NYT bestseller list, and 3.5K for a midlister is pretty good(which is normal for me)... well then 600 out of the gate sales is a lot of help. I'd put my 'possibly buy if we see it and it appeals because we know the name' audience for HC at nearly 2.5K above that, based on the sales AMW - complete with awful cover. So a psuedonym will have 3.1K toward the 3.5 K extra hill to climb.

The answer is of course not to be secretive about the pseud... but that will only get you some of those shoo ins.

Dave Freer said...

Jason, while this is probably not the write... right place for theology, God must have a sense of humor :-).

MataPam said...

Dave, with 24 days to finish the next novel, I wouldn't have the time for post book let down.

Hmm, just convince your back brain that it's like post partum depression - and this is twins, born a month apart. You'll let youself have twice the letdown, in just a few weeks, for these non-identical twins.

Depending on the _next_ deadline.

Sarah A. Hoyt said...

I'd like to point out the paperback of Darkship Thieves is ALSO available, so do two for one.

I too am considering the emarket more and more. Oh, it's something I'll have to grow, mind you. But, until I do, there's at least the satisfaction of writing -- and finishing -- what I want.

Now, face down in the bone marrow... I mean, back to my unfinished mystery.

MataPam said...

Ordered them both. To be delivered to my mother in California, where they will do the rounds of the family, and hopefully rope in some more readers.

And I finally managed to sit down and read - a sign I've recovered from slush burnout.

Slow Train was excellent! Each and every character developed in directions I hadn't expected, and which I none-the-less found excedingly satisfactory.

Kate said...

Pen names could be useful if your mother reads everything you write and you're branching out into something you know would give your sainted mama heart failure (even if she's already dead).

And I've yet to find anything that really gets past post-novel depression except time - which doesn't help, I know. I'm another one who rides on emotion towards the end - I finish the piece and I'm drained.

Kate said...

Forgot to add - then there's the pieces that would give me heart failure if I knew my mother read them.

Dave Freer said...

yes I'll bet Darkship Thieves suffered from the same disease.

Dave Freer said...

Kate, if I WANT to use a psued, that's cool. But to have to, not because my writing sucks but because the machinery of publishing is not ready to cope with real statistics and would rather follow numbers without correction factors -- which lead them up the creek.

Dave Freer said...

And the bad part Kate, is they use these numbers to to leave WRITERS up the creek, when in actual fact they reflect distribution, marketing, and things like covers, which the writer has no effect on... do the people running those things get effected? no. But the person who does none of that, whose work quality has only maybe 10% indirect effect on the figure... It's HIS fault.

Dave Freer said...

Matapam thank you so much for the kind words about Slow Train (and for DRAGON'S RING of course)

It was a book I wanted everyone to read, and I really believed would catch fire.

Mike said...

"Pen names could be useful if your mother reads everything you write and you're branching out into something you know would give your sainted mama heart failure (even if she's already dead)."

There's something about worrying that your dead mother will read your work and be upset that seems a bit... ghoulish, shall we say?

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Congrats on finishing the book, Dave. Always a good feeling!

Sarah A. Hoyt said...

'Nother Mike,

My mother, who is very much alive, would probably come back from the dead -- when she dies, hopefully far in the future -- to scold me for some of my writing.

But I got tricksy and do it in English.

(What? Blame it on the head cold or whatever I'm nursing.)

voradams said...

As someone who has bought both electronic and paperback version of your books, I am surprised that the sale numbers are so low. 2400? Seriously?

That is staggering, considering the size of the US market. I would have thought it would be in the tens of thousands for a poorly selling book.

I know here in AUS you have to be a dedicated bookbuyer and have access to a good retailer to get access to BAEN books. They may get 2 or 3 of a non Bujold/Weber/Flint BAEN book, and 20 or so for the big names.

Dave Freer said...

Voradams - it's worse than that. That's how many shipped. not how many sold. Try for around half.(this is about normal ratio of ship to sell, because they are so ineptly targetted). Harcover numbers are low, but margins are high. 17 000 books will put you on the NYT bestseller list. The best my collaborations have done is 11 000, and around 5 times that in PB. My last solo book sold 3500 hardcovers, which is considered OK. Of course paperback - provided it says in print and available for me it runs to 5-7 times that. If they don't print enough and don't reprint... A Mankind Witch, the Wizard of Karres for example... they fall a long way short. The curious thing is the very good, steady sales of the books that are in print -- we're looking 600 copies of RBV in the year, - been out for 9 years...

MataPam said...

Book prices in Australia make it sound like a good place for a POD and mail order setup.