Thursday, September 13, 2012

I've Moved

As of today, this blog is no longer being used. All updates will continue at my new site.

If you're not automatically redirected, please proceed over to my new author site!

www.madunham.com


See you there!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Are you an Entrepreneur, or an Employee?

There has been a consistent cry against people who choose to publish their work through means other than traditional publishing houses.

"There is no quality," they say. "Why would you put something out that is less than your best?"

Or, "Getting a publishing contract is prestigious. It's a mark of quality and professionalism."

Which really, both of those comments are tied into one another. And both of them show people who don't realize their writing is an independent business, one where the writer wears all the hats. And where all of their decisions directly impact their business.

I don't have to actually reply to either of these comments. Instead, I can show evidence written from many other writers, people who've been well published or who have received awards from their books. Writers who take their independent business and ALL of the decisions within it seriously. People like Kameron Hurley, who details her experience and the many pitfalls associated with her contract. Or Kiana Davenport. Or how about David Farland, who has published quite a few books both traditionally and self-published waxing on about the loss of control of his book's covers, something which can make or break people's purchasing decisions?

The number of people I've heard say poor covers are the reason they don't buy self-pubbed books makes me wonder if they've taken a look at some of the covers traditional publishing has produced. Here's a whole blog dedicated to the very topic!

As for well-written self-published books, you only have to look at the likes of Hugh Howey to see well-written and excellent stories can come from indie books.

I'm not saying all indie books are amazing. Let me be clear: there are plenty of stinkers, both in self-published and traditional publishing. No side to publishing is free of poor quality, or poor decisions.

Generally speaking, there's a sliding scale when it comes to praising traditional publishers. The higher up the money chain, the more pro-big publishers comes out. The most complaints about how traditional publishers work come from the mid-listers, those who seem to consistently not receive the benefits/options award winners or bestsellers receive. Or enough money to make a living.

And while we're on the subject: keep in mind all of the book data about sales for all sides are severely hampered by what distributors are on the sales list. We don't have clear and accurate statistics about either traditional publishing figures OR ebook sales. There's always someone excluded when it comes to sales.

Back on topic.

What concerns me about these comments is the unspoken message about a writer's business. As an entrepreneur, we have a duty to keep up with the publishing business, and all of the avenues there-in. Some will work for us. Some won't. But bashing one side or the other without an understanding of what each type of publishing brings to the table is limited thinking. Ultimately, the health and longevity of your career should drive these decisions, not what we've been spoon fed by any one side.

As an entrepreneur, you're in control of your business. An employee is someone who gives up their control in return for something - money, benefits, etc.

So which are you - an entrepreneur, or an employee?

Having a writing career is a choice. A choice to have your own business, and be as engaged in your work as you desire. When you choose to sell your rights to a publishing house (yes, I said rights, because that's what you're selling when you sign that contract), that is YOUR business decision. Is it the best decision for your business? Is it worth the time and money to get a good editor, make a good cover, and do your own advertising?

Only you know the answer.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Waxing on About Them Price Fixers

In continued updating on the ebook price-fixing lawsuit, three of the companies have agreed to settle, and their settlements have been accepted by the DOJ. Although the NYT is a nice short bite, a better assessment can be found here at Techdirt.

It should be very interesting when Penguin Group USA, Macmillian, and Apple go to trial next summer for the suit. I don't know how they possibly think they can win, given the DOJ doesn't bring up a suit unless they have irrevocable evidence to support their accusation. The DOJ literally cannot afford to do so otherwise.

Unsurprisingly, Publisher's Weekly has called this settlement acceptance stunning. I suspect it's only stunning to those who are so into the traditional publishing koolaid that they forget the person being jerked around by price fixing are the very consumers who aren't willing to pay $12.99 for a book. I've had countless friends of mine (readers, not writers) complain about the ebook prices soaring. And they're quite happy about the change.

I don't know why people forget that less cost means more books purchased, but it's the basis for why so many cheaply priced books get picked up over higher priced books. Readers don't care who published the book. They don't care if the author is an award winner or a first time novelist (at least, it's not their first basis for picking a book). They pick a book up based on recommendations first and foremost - friends first, reviews next. Then we start getting into such things as marketing and other cold-call tactics.

Marketing does have its place, it's just not as much of a place as a friend saying "Hey, read this book!"

And in the end, that is what writers need to keep in mind. Their ultimate market is readers. Not publishers, not other authors, but readers. It is with them, the consumers of our books, that we must take careful control over our own stories. They're our products.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The eBook Price-Fixing Fiasco and You

I find there's a lot of confusion about the price fixing litigation for ebooks that has come out in the past few months. Specifically, people ragging on Amazon for something that's not their fault.

Amazon did not choose to engage in illegal activity. Ergo, they didn't get hit with the DOJ lawsuit.

This is a good discussion on what happened and why it was illegal.

While I'm hardly a legal expert, I am a consumer, and price fixing is something that is illegal for a reason. It's something every consumer should be wary of and regard with the utmost suspicion. Because if a company can screw you on the price, then the consumer is the one missing out.

There's been a lot of crying out about how the book publishers are special, and they deserve the right to price fix. Don't believe me? Take a look at the responses sent by the Publishers, and the DOJ's counter responses essentially saying their complaints are invalid. This link on Passive Voice has not only the official court documents, but some excerpts highlighted and good discussion on the topic.


In other random news, What sort of reader are you? This gave me a chuckle.

Monday, August 27, 2012

A'Rambling I Shall Go

This week, I'm headed off to the US for a six week blitz tour. Looking forward to seeing friends, old and new, and getting some more writing work in.

And reading, of course! I have so, so many books to read. I always find more interesting ones when I dig. So much to read, so little time. :) My Goodreads Book challenge was 50 books this year. I think I'm going to double that number at this rate.

Maybe. We shall see!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Moving Overseas and Unexpected Pitfalls

Just had my latest article come out: 

http://www.inloveabroad.com/2012/immigration/moving-overseas-things-you-never-expected/ 

For those who've moved overseas, there's some emotional aspects that no one really mentions, and which become the focal point of your life for awhile. I hope these help others who move know what they're experiencing is normal.

It's funny how even a small change can render such huge emotional tolls on a person. Sometimes we focus so hard on the practical stuff, like money and securing employment, that we forget there's an emotional part to moving.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Editing a Novel: Not Just About Copy-edits

When I started editing my first novel, I felt like an astronaut in free fall. Yes, my novel had problems. Some of them big, some of them small, but mostly workable. The problem was, approaching it with a list of fix-its wasn't always helpful, and was, at times, a back-fire, because it meant I only approached edits with my critical, logical mind rather than letting my writer's brain have a say.

Part of the reason it's so hard to convey how to edit a story is because 1) we all have our own process and 2) I don't think people care to put down the emotional aspect of how to look at a story. So when I found this article by David Farland about your character's feelings and how your book portrays them, I was thrilled.

It's another good way of looking at edits. Here's a small quote from it:

Ultimately, with every pass, every rewrite, you need to ask yourself, “Is this the right choice of words, images, and scenes to make the reader feel what I want? Have I selected the right details?”

"The Rules" of Writing - Lee Child's Advice

I read a really great article today which got me to thinking. In this article, Lee Child dispenses healthy, common sense advice about a publishing career.

Although I liked how he pointed out how to be a gracious professional, what stood out to me was his dismissal about the 'writing rules'. How many times have I, or my critiquers, used "show, don't tell" to explain something? Were we 'right', or were we trampling on the writer's story? Now it has me wondering.

And the bottom line:
“It’s a long game. It will look bad on plenty of days, but hang in there, keep showing up and see where you are in 10 years.”


This is something I've been meditating on for the past few weeks. There are so many writers I see lathering at the bit to make their stuff go-go-go in the fastest way possible - always reading a how-to book or needing a critique partner to evaluate their work. And yet, as this shows, sometimes that can backfire in the writing process.


I'm not saying either of these are useless, but they're tools which must be used with care. Care and a deeper understanding of how you as a writer write.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

February Round-Up

Lots of busyness this month, and not all with writing. Here's some of the month's accomplishments:

Mostly, I've been enjoying sucking myself into reading good novels and learning good writing skills. It's funny how reading good books and editing your own can accomplish just that.

My reading goal for the year, which I'm tracking on Goodreads, is going well. I'm pleased at how many new books I've read that I've meant to read, either for months, or in the Kushiel series case, a few years. Time really does fly; I should have read these years ago.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Two Really Great Blog Posts

I don't post a lot of link sharing on my blog because, frankly, when most people do it on theirs, I skip it unless there's one that REALLY stands out. It's to stop me from falling into the internet rabbit hole, and I'm sure you're the same.

Having said that, these two articles were so good, I just had to put them on here, for my reference, even if no one else cares.

In the first, Kameron Hurley, autho of God's War, discusses how SF/F genre is guilty of using the same unimaginative futures instead of thinking outside the box. And you know what? I love those genres, I read and write in them, and she's absolutely right. This is something I've been thinking about for awhile now, ever since I realized the boxes people put female lead characters into which irritates the heck outta me (either she needs to be masculine in her ways or have super snarkiness, 9/10 times) .

It gets feminist me really thinking even more. I'm not the only one who sees it.

And another one dear to my heart is this post from the Smart Bitches about people who shame readers about their genre reading choice. This happens, I know, to quite a few genre readers, but none nearly so much as romance readers. When discussing this with a fellow writer, she told me it was just as bad for romance writers.

"It's sadly common for them to get comments on how good they are in the sack, once people hear of their genre," she told me. "Funny how that sort of comparison doesn't happen to mystery writers."

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

January Round-Up

It's Feb 1st in the land of the future (aka Australia), and part of my accountability with my new writing schedule is admitting what I've done and not done this month.

January's Round-Up:

  • Read through my manuscript and made notes.
  • I devised a revision plan.
  • Revised 9 out of 32 chapters.
  • Wrote/Rewrote x 5/Polished a query letter - and yes, it's looking VERY good.
  • Wrote a logline.
  • Entered a contest.
I'd hoped to be almost done with my revisions, but life sometimes calls. My fiancĂ©e and I are working on my visa paperwork to become a permanent resident of Australia. It's a pretty big deal.

This month, I'm doing a February Fever with some fellow writers. My goals are to finish completely polishing this book, and to have a new one outlined by the end of the month. 

In my hopes, I also hope to start writing said new book. We shall see. *crosses fingers*

Monday, January 23, 2012

What I've Learned by Working From Home

I've been feeling burnout lately.

I don't like to talk about the hard parts of working from home, but sometimes, they happen. I gave up my full-time job for a part-time job when I moved to Australia so I could focus on my writing. There's still enough money to pay for necessities and have fun, but it's not quite as plentiful. I'm OK with that. I don't know how people go full-time working from home without an income stream, because that seems like a very hard thing to do to me, but mine's worked out well so far.

What have I learned from the last few months working from home? That the pressure to succeed becomes huge. That you really only can go to yourself at the end of the day to succeed, or fail. And that when you have setbacks, the failure feels more than other failures you experience.

Because it feels like you only have yourself to blame.

When you sit down to do work, prioritizing becomes a necessity. Putting in your full workload is vital. So is finding time to goof off and keep yourself oriented.

Making a plan is important, because it's easy to get overwhelmed when you don't have anyone to assist in the workload.

There are also benefits to working from home, but I haven't reaped many of them yet. Let's see if I feel the same way once I'm done revising this book. 

And despite all of this, I still wouldn't trade it for the world.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

What I'm Currently Into

In:

  • Editing my book. At a snail's pace, sometimes, but still, progress is progress!
  • Looking at wedding stuff. I got engaged over Christmas, so I peek at wedding stuff occasionally.
  • Reading books. My list is already piling up, with purchasing two friend's books.

Out:
  • Too much dessert. I've not been interested in dessert as much lately.
  • Headaches. (It took five days, but it is finally gone)
  • Writer emo. Too much time making the sad face just gets in the way of getting somewhere. I'm changing that habit around so I don't ride the rollercoaster as much - I focus on results.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

I Have New Years Goals and Dreams, Do You?

The lovely Beth Revis shared an interesting way to reveal her New Years resolutions, and I enjoyed it so much I've decided to do the same.

This year, I have four goals to strive towards, and two dreams.



All of my goals will require great discipline on my part.

One is very personal.

One is financial.

The other two involve my career.

As for my dreams, I know they can't be achieved without some luck or outside help, so I realize they're out of my control. And that's why they're dreams! I believe, however, there's no shame in hoping and reaching for dreams. Dreaming is vital for people who use the creative process. I won't be butthurt if I don't make them, I'll just keep dreaming.

As I achieve each goal, I'll reveal them on my blog.

Here's to a productive and awesome 2012.