Thursday, July 14, 2011

Donna’s Journal
Special Post-Conference Edition

Well, the 2011 RWA National Conference in New York City has come and gone. And if we didn’t get everything we wanted out of our time in Gotham, surely we each came away with something of value—a friend made, a contact secured, a piece of information or a nugget of wisdom to add to the storehouse.

Certainly there was plenty of inspiration in the stories of the women (and men!) addressing the gathering from the stage, especially the legendary Sherrilyn Kenyon and Diana Gabaldon. Those two succeeded despite overwhelming odds and began huge mega-trends in romance—paranormal romance and time-travel Highland romance. They were groundbreakers, pioneers, and, in Diana’s case, unique. As we in SFR can appreciate, life on the frontier was none too comfortable. It’s nice to hear the rest of civilization sometimes does catch up to the explorers.

On a more personal note, I had a blast tagging along with superstars Laurie and Sharon on their Golden Heart tour de force during the conference. Thanks, ladies, for making my time special, too!

I reported last week on one of my agent meetings, which, though enthusiastic and positive, failed to yield an actual contract. That agent lurrved my stuff so much she requested to read my second manuscript just for fun, even though she admitted, “I know it’s selfish of me, but I can’t help it—I just want to read it!” Guess that’s good, huh?

My “cold” pitch to an agent during the standard pitch sessions also went well, with the agent responding with interested questions in all the right places. Her take on the market for SFR was not quite so bleak, but I would describe it as cautious, depending perhaps on the individual book. She did ask for a partial, which I sent off as soon as I got home.

So last week was spent cleaning up Trouble in Mind to send to Agent Number One, checking email for response to the partial from Agent Number Two (foolish that, it’s way too early) and considering the question of the hour:

To epub or not to epub.

Once again at this conference I spoke with many authors of such digital publishers as Samhain and Carina Press who are very happy with their editors, their publishers and their epub royalties. It’s very clear that these editors and publishers are very SFR-friendly; you don’t need an agent to submit to them; and the process at all stages of production is as smooth as it can be when many people are involved in a creative enterprise.

So what am I waiting for? Not sure, except that I’ve always wanted that traditional print career, and I’m stubborn about it. I know I can move from digital to print with someone like Samhain, too. But I never saw myself working out all these deals, either. It’s bad enough I’ll have to do all my own promo (which I would have had to do with any kind of book). Now I have to do my own career negotiating and strategizing, too? **sigh**

I know, I know. Put on my big girl panties and deal, right? It’s a brave new world and all that. I do feel like I’m a step or two closer to taking that leap into the unknown after this conference. There are only so many agents out there (and I’ve been through most of them). And this series could find a cozy home at a digital house while I write a more salable series for print publication elsewhere. The credentials wouldn’t hurt.

Maybe if my epublisher could just print out one copy so I could have my dream of holding my published book in my hands. Holding it on my Kindle just wouldn’t be the same.

(I’ll be on vacation in North Carolina next week. Check you back here in two weeks.)

Cheers, Donna


  1. I've been struggling with the same dilemma for awhile, Donna. Like Paranormal before it, SFR is really starting to get a foothold in the epubs. I honestly believe NY will follow suit at some point. Meanwhile, we bide our time hoping NY will soon be showing more interest, or go forward with our careers by pursuing e-pubbing now?

    I do like the option of e-pub followed by a print version (albeit Trade, so a bit more pricy than Mass Market), but like you, I haven't quite given up my dream of traditional yet.

    Sharon proved it can happen!

  2. I'm further back down the line than you two - but I think I made a mistake in not epublishing sooner. I hung on and hung on for a traditional deal and life started to slip by. When I started to critique stories that were being accepted by the epubs and I was still there sending out queries to agents and publishers, I decided enough was enough and subbed to Ellora's Cave. I had to change genre a touch - instead of my not a lot of sex romances - I had to write oodles of sex romances - but the story was the same.
    I've watched others in the epub world go on to get deals with the bigger guys, they find agents and become reasonably big names. So it IS a way into the world you crave.
    My reason for resisting the eworld was because I wanted a paperback with my name on it, in my hand and in a bookstore. Well, I got the first two. I don't have my Loose-Id books in print and that's a source of huge disappointment to me though they did say a while back they'd consider it. Like you, Donna, in a way, one book would be fine! I'm so emersed in the eworld now that I can see the value in virtual books but there's a place on my bookshelf that I long to fill with my creations.

  3. I know you and I are both in a very similar place, Laurie. And it's great to have your more experienced perspective, Barbara. I guess that longing to see ourselves in actual print never really goes away, huh?

  4. Donna,

    Why not both?

    The big question I get asked is not where to buy my books, but are they available on Kindle or Nook? I love I can link my buy links to my website, give the readers the address, and they can have the novel in seconds.

    This question comes from people in my community, not online. E-readers are growing in popularity and it's not unusal to see more than one in a household.

    I too wanted to start at the top. Who doesn't want to reach for the stars. But sometimes you need to build a ladder to get where you want to go. Nothing wrong with that. As Barbara said, a lot of e-published authors have gone on to build huge careers in traditional publishing.

    Barbara told me three years ago that e-publishing was the future. I thought at the time she was nuts for giving up on traditional. (sorry Barbara) I couldn't see people paying 400 or 500 hundred dollars for e-readers and downloading stories that cost as much as print. Still, I knew I wasn't going anywhere with reject letters and needed to approach the obstacle from another angle. I took a gamble she was right. E-readers have come down in price as well as the stories. And you can get them in the brick and mortar stores like Walmart, Staples and bookstores--not just online. With many college students switching to e-readers to cut down on physical books--it makes sense to take a serious look at E-publishing. Publishing does seem to be going in that direction and eventually even these traditional publishers will get onboard.

    I see it as building a foundation. If you don't want to send the novels out to e-pubs, try a submitting a few short stories to the e-publishers. Many are sci fi rom friendly and actually hungry for it. The short stories are inexpensive ways for readers to try a new writer and quick for busy authors to write and edit. They build your readership. They're quick to get published I've had a book out two months after I sent the novel to my editor. Your traditional can take more than two years. Plus, let's talk shelf life. It's not just for milk. Print books do get sent back to publishers after the shelf life has expired, or if they are not selling. E-published authors have the advantage in that arena. Plus many of the enovels do go on to print. Even shorts can end up in print anthologies. I have two in print anthologies that are only 5k words each.

    Build the publishing credits and then go after the big deal with your novels. I got tired of waiting for a yes, and I've decided I have to do something to build my name and readership while I wait for the traditional world to catch up. You have to go out there and take what you want, not wait for it to come to you. If it takes publishing credits, a platform to get that agent to sit up and take notice, you better start gathering some bricks.

    *shrugs* my two cents worth.
    And pssst, I love my editors and publishers.

    They really get me excited about what I'm writing and where I'm going.


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