This photo is of Billy. Back in 1950s Ohio he often wandered around our neighborhood dressed in his mother’s castoff dresses and high heels. You can imagine what the other boys did about that, but their jeers never stopped Billy.
The flag and hat were merely props like the fake pistols and stick horses we made out of sassafras and rode everywhere pretending they were real. Soft-spoken Billy loved animals and never hurt anyone or any thing as far as I knew.
Years later after finishing college I learned he lost and eye while fighting in Viet Nam. After service he ended up in prison and was murdered there. I have no idea of the circumstances, but can imagine.
I will dedicate my novel, Unspoken, to him. As a boy I knew him fairly well, and am pretty darn sure he didn’t deserve what happened to him.
Billy was one more case of the inequality that has occurred in our country over the years. One more George Floyd, though Billy was white. We must continue to join together to put an end to injustice. All of us of every shade and color.
I received an eight-page contract from She Writes Press, which includes an Exhibit A, stating those services to be performed by Publisher; Exhibit B, which is to eventually list any additional services, timeframe, fees, etc.; and Exhibit C, which contains a Fee Schedule.
The entire contract is in small print.
I hate contracts. I hate reading them.
I haven’t been able to find a publishing lawyer here in Arizona. So far. Maybe never.
Which means I’ve been trying to understand this thing myself. Bad idea.
I took paralegal classes years ago, one of which was contracts. Learned enough to get me in trouble. Similar to driving a four-wheel drive vehicle and heading for the mountains. I’ve done that, too. A person can get into big trouble with a four-wheel drive vehicle on those trails. I’ve been there and I know. Nearly got stuck overnight on this road once. My ex-husband was driving. Three of us had to get out of the vehicle and move rocks to back out. Big rocks.
Another time I was driving and my friend said, “keep going, keep going, keep going.” Nearly went right over a cliff.
Back to the contract.
I learned the following from reading that contract: She Writes Press is not risking a darned thing.
The author risks all. I pay for their expertise. Quite a lot, actually. I pay for printing, shipping, warehousing, returns, and numerous other fees. If anything goes wrong, I pay for that, too. Like, if my book doesn’t sell. Eeks, I can’t stand that “like” word, and I used it. Ah, well. Welcome to the millennial generation. I promise to not use it again, at least not in this post.
What do She Writes Press services include?
The following is Exhibit A:
interior design of the book up to 120,000 words
E-book file prep and upload to Amazon, B&N and iBookstore
Distribution to Trade Accounts through their current distribution partner
Management of the distribution relationship for the term of the Agreement
Proofreading of final manuscript
Copyright filing and obtaining Library of Congress control number
Warehousing of short-run printed books for first year
Fulfillment of orders on short-run printed books (I pay shipping)
Support and management of title metadata
Ongoing project management of title for term of Agreement
Support for getting books into bookstores, libraries and other trade outlets
All the above costs $7,500.
I found a blog by Lloyd J. Jassin, an experienced New York publishing attorney, that clearly explains what a publishing contract should contain, and She Writes Press matched his suggestions. If you are interested, his blog is here.
There are a number of terms in the contract that have not been defined to my satisfaction.
One of these terms is “derivatives.” Does this include sequels to the novel?
The contract says nothing about a particular date for She Writes Press to publish my novel, what the New York attorney calls a “Duty to Publish.” Brooke has told me when she expects my book to be published, but this is not in the contract.
Lastly, I want subsidiary rights. These include rights to foreign publishing, motion picture, TV, audio, merchandising, and TV rights. I don’t expect any of that to happen, but, who knows?
Obviously, they are in the publishing business to make money publishing, not to take risks. They are going to be sure to make their profit, no matter what happens to me and my book.
I must go into this with my eyes and my bank account open.
I welcome any and all pertinent suggestions and comments.
In case by some strange happenstance no one has noticed, I am not an expert in any of this publishing business, SEO, WordPress, Instagram, Pinterest, Scrivener, Facebook, Twitter, etc., etc., but I am learning, and planning to let my readers know what I am learning as we go along with these posts.
Having used WordPress for years, I recently learned something about the Dashboard that I never knew. There are basically two Dashboards, and they work with different results. I thought they were merely two different ways to accomplish the same thing, but they are not. The black Dashboard is for business users (administrators); the white Dashboard is for personal users. For example, use of the black Dashboard will not let you access the free Pixel images in your Media Library. How about that?
Likely some of you already knew, but unless a person reads every word of the Support guides, or happens to come across this information, how would one know? Anyway, I hope this helps someone. It is so basic.
A couple weeks ago I posted a comment (found here) to what I posted on Critique Circle about deciding to publish with She Writes Press. Wednesday I spoke with Brooke Warner from She Writes Press and received her response to that comment, as follows:
This is a fascinating analysis given that it presumes that Amazon is the only retailer we sell to. Of course, it is not. Amazon accounts for about 40% of our sales. The other 60% comes from bookstores, specialty sales, direct sales, libraries, foreign sales, and elsewhere.
The number of assumptions this person makes is beyond me, honestly. It shows such a lack of understanding of the book marketplace that it’s almost astounding. To use means and averages in this way, and to include books that are pre-publication, obviously makes no sense. He’s basically asserting the final sales outcome based on data for books that haven’t been published yet. I appreciate how much work was put into the analysis, and yet the foundation is so faulty that it’s hard for me to detail all the things that are wrong with it.
But to start:
• Rank has little to do with actual sales. It represents click rate and doesn’t indicate how many actual “sell-through” copies an author gets.
• Average monthly revenue. Well, yes, if you’re including books that aren’t published yet, this number is going to be so off-base as to be meaningless.
• Average price: I don’t even understand this one. Our books sell for $16.95 (on average) and Amazon usually discounts by about 30%.
• Bookstore: I’m sorry, but what is this? Some sort of offshoot of Amazon?
So anyway, this sums up my feelings on an Amazon-only analysis of our program that has a huge reach beyond Amazon. Really interesting to me how myopic folks can be. In terms of “vanity,” it’s an outdated term. Vanity = service provider. We are not that. we are proudly hybrid: https://www.ibpa-online.org/page/hybridpublisher
I hope this helps.
When I spoke with Brooke, she was very up front with me that I could not expect to be a best-selling author. In fact, most of her authors might make back the likely $10,000 they would have to pay for publishing, marketing, printing, etc. Selling a book is an extremely competitive business. Plus, no one knows what is going to happen with the publishing industry, considering the presence of Covid-19.
Her honesty made me more comfortable than ever that I wanted to publish with She Writes Press.
More about the how and why of my decision in the next post.
I wasn’t sure if I should be blogging about this, then I decided to go ahead and do it.
I haven’t blogged for ages because I just haven’t found the energy. It’s been hard to find the energy to write my novel or anything else.
Writing was easier years ago when I was on caffeine. Lots of caffeine to keep headaches at bay. Then I had more and more headaches and drank more and more caffeine and took Excedrin, eventually ending in rebound. Had to stop the caffeine altogether. Had to stop all sorts of pain medication because of rebound.
Now I am on the drug topiramate or topamax. It sort of works, the only thing that sort of works. Except for what it does to my memory and what is called “foggy brain syndrome.” Imagine trying to write with that problem.
There are more of us out there than ever—what are now called “migraineurs.” We even have our own site, Migraine.com, where we can commiserate with one another and learn about the latest advances in headache medicine. Some of you who are reading this may be one of us.
I will keep writing. I get depressed if I don’t. It just takes three times longer to get a chapter written than it used to: “I know that word, what is it? Why can’t I recall the name of that place? Describing such a scene used to come to me so easily.”
Blogging? Yeah, I ought to be blogging at least once a week. Ha.
Push, courtesy of Michael at Flicker, Creative Commons
It’s hard some days, isn’t it? To make yourself do what you don’t feel like doing. You know you must, you should, deep down you really want to, but the push isn’t there. Maybe you haven’t had your caffeine yet, or the brew isn’t doing the job.
Writing is like that some days, even writing this post. I don’t have the benefit of caffeine, ever, and I am basically a Type B person, a dreamer more than a doer. But to make those dreams happen, I got to push. We all have to push sometimes, to get what we want.
There is always something in the way.
The cat puked on the carpet, usually-sweet little Tommy dumped his Cream of Wheat all over the kitchen floor and your car battery went dead. Nevertheless, that presentation you haven’t prepared yet is due at 2:00 p.m.
Sound like one of those silly movies? They make those movies because nearly everyone can identify with them.
You don’t have to be perfect, either. Who told you you did? Your mom? Your pop? Yourself? Do you even know a perfect person? A perfect mom? A perfect dad? Do you like them?
Life is constant challenges, ups and downs. As Kristen Lamb says, “This is life. Focus on your love and passion, but also be fearless with yourself. We all procrastinate, make excuses, hide, or deflect. We are human. A pro takes problems seriously, the amateur takes them personally.”
Check out Kristen Lamb’s blog. She focuses on writers, but what she has to say applies to everyone, and she says it much better than I do.
Yesterday’s post stirred quite the debate and flurry of panic attacks, so today, we will delve a bit further into Le Mystique of Le Flashback. First of all, for future reference, I need to ignore all Facebook comments that begin with, “I haven’t read your post, but completely disagree…” Er? Ok. Here’s the thing. I play dictator on my blog, because it’s my blog and it’s FUN.
I’m a realist and I KNOW there is some writer out there who has broken every rule there is. But, bringing up every last exception is a confusing way to teach and a fabulous way to make your heads explode.
It’s like the “I before E Except After C (except for when you run a feisty heist on a weird beige foreign neighbor) Rule.”
If I give you guys the BASICS and explain WHY editors, agents…
I haven’t mentioned how much writing can sometimes be a struggle. I’ve been in the midst of the struggle fog for months now, and I could give lots of reasons why: no secluded place to write, constantly moving, family upheavals. I used to write every day and wonder why people had so much trouble doing the same.
Nothing I write is good enough.
I have always faced anything I was afraid of: backpacking alone, traveling to Central America on my own, leaping that chasm, climbing that steep cliff.
What if I publish something and no one likes it? What if I look a fool?
Time to quit dabbling a toe in the cold water and jump in with both feet. Karen Lamb’s post this morning gave me an added boost. Thank you, Karen!
My best writing time is first thing in the morning—before any pedestrian concerns of the coming day enter and destroy my dreamspace. A hot cup of tea or a foamy latte and mood music for the scene helps. I even have an iTunes playlist entitled, “Angst” for those special scenes—for example: my protag has lost her temper and accused the boy she loves of cowardice.
I used to get the greatest writing buzz while drinking green tea or a latte, but that’s gone since I’ve discovered the rebound from caffeine gives me headaches. No caffeine has made writing much more difficult. I’m writing this after finishing a cup of no-caffeine mint tea, and I feel like I’m pulling teeth from a submerged hippo.
Many writers, like Hemingway, used alcohol, but I have the same problem with tequila I have with lattes. I love it, but it hates me.
Do you write with a caffeine buzz? What about that steamed milk foam on your upper lip?
What a busy week! I had to finish a travel anecdote I had barely begun, complete four critiques, redraft two chapters, plus get out and enjoy this beautiful Colorado weather.
Back in 2006 I was only writing the one novel . . . and working four days a week. Along with the usual: vacuuming cat hairs off the sofa, roasting chicken and chasing ground squirrels and deer from my lettuce. And cussing the gopher holes in our front yard. And digging stubborn thistle and ….
In those days, I knew what I liked when I read it, but had no idea why, or how to write it. One lucky day I was in Magpie’s in Durango and picked up a copy of “The Writer” magazine. There was method to this madness of writing! I wouldn’t have to spend thousands of dollars to get an MFA, only well under one hundred for a subscription and a number of recommended books. And spend time writing. And writing and more writing. Every day. That instruction was a constant: Write every day. Even if you only write fifteen minutes, do it every day. Did I repeat that often enough?
.Write every day.
For the same reason swimmers swim and runners run. Guitar players play and painters paint.
To get into the zone. A lot of work is required to get into the zone–that place that’s hard to describe because there are no words to describe it clearly. People try: “Everything’s right; everything works; I don’t think, I’m just there.”
The zone is the place where a runner finds the last breath and strength to run that last mile. The zone is that place a guitar player goes when his fingers play seemingly without his direction.
The zone is where a writer goes when the words flow onto the page, where one is so deep into character that the present world disappears.
You become surprised by your own writing. How easy it is.
You want to write. All the time. Writing is you, and you are a writer.
Does the preceding sound a little “airy fairy” to you? Consider this: Everything we think, everything we do either causes or is caused by nerve pathways carrying messages throughout our bodies. Those messages flash from one nerve to another by macroscopic bridges called synapses. The more we exercise any one pathway, the stronger it gets, just like a muscle gets bigger and stronger. The more you exercise your writing skills, the stronger they get.
Maybe you have experienced what happens when you stop writing for days, a week, a month, and then try to start up again. I have.
Getting back into my story was nearly impossible. Start, stop. Start, stop. “I can’t write. Did I think I could write?” I no longer had feeling for the story or for the characters. I had to sit down, force myself, and write shit. Every day. For three weeks until I started to feel I was writing again. Even now, four months later, I am not writing as well as I did before.
Whatever you do, don’t stop writing. Even if you only write for fifteen minutes a day. Write something. Exercise those nerves.