In the spirit of the upcoming holidays, today we are going to talk about something touchy and complicated. No, I am not going to tell you where babies come from.
Amazon. With Prime, you get free shipping.
The whole publishing paradigm makes me kinda twitch and we writers are often at the center of a lot of silly complaining. So I’d like to debunk some pretty myths we writers love to perpetuate.
It’s like that ex who we run into on Facebook and we get all nostalgic and remember all the loooove. But, if we took more than 30 seconds to think. Really THINK? We’d remember why we were combing Craig’s List for a hit man willing to be paid in unredeemed Starbucks gift cards to take that person OUT…O_o
Same situation. Let’s unpack this, shall we?
Fallacy #1—Old Books Are Awesome & We Should GO BACK
I just love the smell of old books. The feel of old paper. The nostalgia. I just miss browsing dusty shelves looking for a hidden treasure…
I can completely 1000% get on board with this. Books are foundational for any thriving society and the bedrock of any enduring culture. But this commentary does not belong in a business discussion about the publishing industry.
Because we (writers) are not being PAID off old dusty copies of our manuscripts unless we happen to be traveling the country selling them out of steamer trunks.
It’s a non sequitur.
In fact, and this is just ME. I will not buy books at secondhand stores or garage sales. And, if I do happen to buy a book this way and I like the title and I find out the book is still in print and the author who worked really, really hard to write that book can still be paid?
I buy a copy.
Often a digital copy to make sure that the writer got PAID for doing her job. It’s a professional courtesy.
Thing is, we have to be really, really careful that as artists we are not perpetuating the very behavior that pisses us off.
We like getting paid for our work. We work really really hard and expect (rightfully) that we should be rewarded for doing so.
Doctors work hard and they expect to get paid. No one gripes when the doctor gets paid. Heck, no one gripes when the UPS driver gets paid or the barista who makes the triple-shot espresso pumpkin soy cappuccino with half foam and vanilla sprinkles and does not commit MURDER gets paid.
Oh, but it is artsy and bohemian to rip writers off because old books are cool?
No. And again, let’s keep the debate clear here because I can already hear the blogs now, “Kristen Lamb hates old books!” No. Pay attention.
I love old books. Have stacks of them. Want to buy old copies of Moby Dick? Be my guest. I doubt Melville is counting on that Amazon royalty check to pay to upgrade his Scrivner or, I dunno, eat.
Want to support civilization? Buy old books. Want to support a writer and his/her family? Buy new ones or e-books.
I also get that paper is not going away, but what makes me a little cray-cray is why authors seem so resistant to e-books at all. I love e-books. First of all because I seriously DIG that giant old lady font.
How Kristen reads ALL her books…
Also, because that is another way readers can buy and consume my work. Want it on paper? Here. Audio? HERE. E-book? Here!
Heck, as writers, I think we should stand behind any kind of R&D that gets more stories into the hands of readers. I am 1000% behind Carrier Pigeon Technology, Smoke Signal Fiction, Books by Morse Code.
Granted, morally, I am on the fence about downloading my book directly into my readers’ brains, but hell the sci-fi folks can just run with that! If the royalties are fat enough? I’m game.
Heck, if there was good money behind me acting out my stories in interpretive dance?
I would so be there.
Who cares how readers get our books so long as we are being paid?
In case anyone was unclear? WE are the oldest profession 😉 .
And this “How Readers Get Our Books” dovetails into my next point…
Fallacy #2 Barnes & Noble Supports All Authors
The whole B&N drama? I am verklempt. Calm down and hear me out. I don’t think Barnes & Noble is as good or even as bad as we believe.
Do I believe B& N is the devil? Of course not. I love B&N. In fact, there was a time I had a loan shark who met me in the hardbacks to front me some Benjamins to keep pace with my habit.
I think competition is GOOD. It is necessary and vital and it keeps everyone playing nice-nice. I even wrote a long piece about the dangers of Amazon becoming a monopoly in case you are worried I am being too biased.
But, here is the deal. The second I write anything about how Amazon is doing something really brilliant, people love to jump all over Bezos for being predatory and helllooo?
Can we just go back about 15-20 years?
Barnes and Noble (and Borders) are almost singlehandedly responsible for wiping out the indie bookstore ecosystem. They deliberately placed megastores on every corner and willfully drove small bookstores out of business so I guess I am the only one who finds Borders extinction karmic and B&Ns current plight ironic.
Thing is, B&N reinvented the book industry and were rewarded for doing so. They got people really excited about bookstores again and it was bloody and brutal for the indies.
But now that another business has come along that is finally mean and lean enough to hit back comes along? I am not all, “Poor B&N.”
I have popcorn and Red Vines.
Genuine competition is good for them. They can either lay there and take it or they can use the pushback to reinvent the bookstore again. Markets aren’t supposed to remain static. And last I checked, their top officers get paid pretty well to figure this stuff out 😉 .
Barnes & Noble is not good for most authors, lest we forget how they were able to get those rock-bottom prices that drove most of the indies out of business. They thrive off selling in volume and the only authors who are fairly guaranteed to sell in volume are already household names.
Nothing personal. It’s business.
So when Amazon comes along and its business is not driven by a scattergun approach and instead is driven off authentic interest as reflected in genuine buying habits?
We writers might want to take notice.
Yes, as I predicted, Amazon would need a brick-and-mortar store to sell its own imprints, but this is also good news for traditionally published authors who are new with lower print runs or whose last name doesn’t rhyme with Patterson.
Fallacy #3 Social Media is a Dismal Failure
I’ve had a few comments regarding how so many authors ran to social media and they simply aren’t seeing any of that social media activity translate into sales. Thing is? Yep. Social media is not direct marketing, though the two are often confused.
See, in direct marketing, we can measure. We can put out an ad, measure click rates and see how many clicks led to a purchase. We can send out so many fliers and then measure quantitatively how many of those later translated into sales.
We can measure how many
morons individuals were sent an e-mail telling them they had inherited $100,000,000 from some relative they never knew they had in Guana against how many deposits we get of $5000 to spring that “inheritance” from customs.
This gives us our ROI (return on investment). How many e-mails sent in comparison to how much cash is sent via Western Union.
Why it has been so vexing for marketers is they try to treat social media the same way as mass marketing…and they can’t. Because if we do social media correctly (keeping it social) there is no way to quantify it.
It becomes too obvious we are mixing social and market norms and that creeps people the hell out.
Market Norms are when a prostitute expects money in return for *wink wink nod nod* “favors.”
Social Norms are when a wife does those same “favors” for her beloved husband out of love because getting paid for it would be seriously strange.
That seems obvious, right?
But what if wife has a wonderful and romantic evening with her husband, but then before he leaves for work, asks him to fill out an on-line survey rating how he enjoyed his night and tells him that when he completes his survey, he will be texted a code that he can then redeem for free pancakes?
Yes, I just took that to a WHOLE NEW LEVEL of weird.
But y’all see what I mean when I say that you just can’t sneak that stuff in there! We SEE it. We can tell when we are being manipulated on social media and that is why this stuff cannot be directly measured and quantified.
Word of Mouth is Vital…But Can’t Be Measured
Zuckerberg didn’t invent social media. Social media has always been around. It was just called “word of mouth.” It was also the only thing next to a good book that ever sold books.
The only difference, was that until Web 2.0, it was almost impossible to ignite word of mouth on any level of magnitude. But to think we can measure and control it? Not happening.
As far as authors not seeing any “direct translation into sales”? I can tell you why. They are the same people we likely had to run off #MyWANA with digital pitchforks for book spam.
There are no shortcuts. Period.
Write good books. Work really hard. Make friends and enjoy yourself and hopefully it will pay off. It may not, but think of it this way?
Twenty years ago we could have all gone to our graves without ever getting to hold a copy of our own work in our hands. At least today we get a shot, and that is a heck of a lot more than countless writers in the past ever got.
E-books might take away from that nice quaint little shop on the corner (the ones not razed by B&N), but that little shop on the corner only had room for a handful of authors.
And, Amazon IS looking to reinvent that little shop on the corner. Algorithms, love them or hate them, will make it possible for independent bookstores to thrive since they can stock smartly, and less waste means more profit.
E-books have made it possible for countless writers to finally be paid to do what they love. My opinion? Every digital copy downloaded, should come with the sound of a link of iron breaking…one more link from the day job. You are setting a WRITER FREE!
B&N is great, but again, only helping so many of our brothers and sisters in the inky trenches. I want to help MORE!
Social media. Do it. Don’t do it. If you do it, please at least do it well. Don’t feed us spam and then b$#@ when we don’t want to consume it & reward laziness.
I hope you all will embrace that we live in a great time and we get to make the future better for ourselves and writers to come. Ditch the old and embrace the new.
Do you love that you at least get to HOLD your book? Would you be willing to act out your novel in interpretive dance if the pay was right? Are you for more ways to get stories into hands of readers? Carrier hamsters? Nah, plague always a concern. Hmmm. I’ll give the ideas over to you guys.
I LOVE hearing from you!
To prove it and show my love, for the month of NOVEMBER, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel.
For those who need help building a platform and keeping it SIMPLE, pick up a copy of my latest social media/branding book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World on AMAZON, iBooks, or Nook.
#1 by Angel Payne on November 9, 2015 - 12:05 pm
I adore the crap out of you. Carrier hamsters forevah, baby!! I need to go make a meme… oh, wait. I’m on deadline…memes later. Writing–and retweeting Kristen Lamb–for now. PS, love the girl Viking goddess look. I’m going to counter by becoming a Highland clan warrior goddess.
#2 by MonaKarel on November 9, 2015 - 12:11 pm
aaaand the secret still is…write the best book you can.Keep writing. Don’t forget to tell people you wrote!
#3 by lalouziane on November 9, 2015 - 12:14 pm
Reblogged this on Swamp Sass and commented:
REblogged from Kristen Lamb’s most fantastic blog! This is one I always read!
#4 by Walker McKnight on November 9, 2015 - 12:16 pm
Yessssss…. I was guilty of most of this thinking once upon a time (trying to make it seem like a long time ago), but now I agree the best way to deal with change is to fly straight into it wearing a rocket pack on your back.
#5 by lori beasley bradley on November 9, 2015 - 12:22 pm
Reblogged this on Lori Beasley Bradley my writing and commented:
Very interesting. Something for writers to consider!
#6 by Eric Klingenberg on November 9, 2015 - 12:23 pm
That was very funny and informative post. I agree with almost everything you say apart from my relative in Guana. The lawyer who contacted me out of the blue has promised me that this time the payment of $5000 will definitely get customs to release my money and the after 6 failed attempts it will now work. Because you have been rude about it I’m not sharing any of the $1000 million I have inherited with you!
#7 by Andrew Reynolds on November 9, 2015 - 12:27 pm
I still think of Barnes and Noble as the evil empire and Amazon a necessary evil who finally killed off the killers of my friends. Does that make me a bad person?
#8 by Author Kristen Lamb on November 9, 2015 - 12:36 pm
The enemy of my enemy is my friend…
#9 by Laura Kirwan on November 9, 2015 - 12:29 pm
I like the giant old lady font too. Best. Thing. Ever.
You make a really good point about authors getting hung up on the delivery system instead of focusing on the story. And going on and on about the vast superiority of paper books is a great way to alienate readers who prefer digital books. People want stories, not lectures about how much better it used to be.
#10 by Author Kristen Lamb on November 9, 2015 - 12:35 pm
And what irks me is writers will triumph the ONE WAY they will NOT get paid. WHAAAAATTTT??? Stop lecturing the reader and just let her consume your story in Jell-O shots if she so desires and you get PAID! …thank you.
#11 by Jesse Magnan on November 9, 2015 - 12:30 pm
I love it when one of my fellow indie authors complains about a certain social media website (could be any of them) has not yielded any sales and when you look a their account it is just bunch of links.
It is easy to forget that social media is SOCIAL. It is a place to sell yourself, “hey this person is X. Oh hey they have a book.” and so on and so forth.
I follow I don;t know how many authors on Twitter, and only a handful actually seem to be real people. The rest are just bots set up by the owner to shoot out links to their latest book.
#12 by Pena, Peggy on November 9, 2015 - 12:39 pm
Again Kristen, a great article!!!
#13 by prudencemacleod on November 9, 2015 - 12:51 pm
Glad to see I’m not the only one who won’t shop at second hand bookstores. I don’t download free shit off the internet either. I believe the artist should get paid. Period. What’s $15-$20 for a book I get to read over and over compared to a movie I get to see once? Nope, not shopping at second hand bookstores. Won’t put my own books up for free either. However, you’re right, I do get a thrill every time I hold a book I’ve written. Pure magic.
Once again, great post, WANA Mamma.
#14 by newfsull on November 9, 2015 - 12:53 pm
I will admit to even reading Rise of the Machines as a means to learn about marketing. I assumed that it was about marketing me and consequently marketing my books. I read it a second time and found a subtle but important difference, one that runs through the theme of your blog today. The end result might well increase your sales, but what the author is doing, when he/she builds a platform is building a relationship, giving the reader a reason to be interested in that author, perhaps to the point of purchasing their book.
I think your analogy to husband and wife was apt; maybe an author is setting the stage to be recognized as someone the writer might want to spend time with; digital? yes. Big Mother fonts? You bet ya. A polished and well edited story that gives what it promises? without a doubt.
#15 by PJ Fiala on November 9, 2015 - 12:54 pm
Fabulous post Kristen. Thank you for your insight. Wait! Do I hear the clink of a chain? Why, I believe I do and another author has been set free!!!!!
#16 by Heather Hiestand (@heatherhiestand) on November 9, 2015 - 12:55 pm
Great analogy! Monday smiles are the best.
#17 by Southpaw, HR Sinclair on November 9, 2015 - 12:56 pm
“First of all because I seriously DIG that giant old lady font.” – I needed a good laugh!
Old books make me sneeze, my eyes water, my head aches, and I break out in a rash. I have a deep appreciation for ebooks. I am able to read so much more than I use too. I get a lot of the “old book” digitally now too.
And anybody who eats Red Vines over that other brand can do no wrong.
#18 by Laura Kirwan on November 9, 2015 - 1:14 pm
Old books do the same thing to me. Five seconds and I’m looking for the Benadryl. Kind of ruins the reading experience.
#19 by morgynstarz on November 9, 2015 - 12:57 pm
OMG, I lost count how many times I had to clean my screen, spit-laughing. Off to tweet & post to my peeps! And yes, I don’t shop used unless something is utterly out of print.
#20 by Chelly Pike on November 9, 2015 - 12:57 pm
Bwahahaha and OMG spam on Twitter drives me bat-shit crazy. I’ve taken to responding to all auto DMs with: Auto DM’s are evil. Please stop. I mean, seriously, auto DMs are tagged with the program that sent them. If you’re going to be stupid about marketing, don’t be lazy too. Sigh. Great post. 🙂
#21 by russtowne on November 9, 2015 - 12:59 pm
I love it! Keep ’em coming, Kristen!
#22 by Ms Hanson on November 9, 2015 - 1:00 pm
Risk or rust. Linked back to your blog at: anexperimentalife.weebly.com
#23 by jrosebooks on November 9, 2015 - 1:08 pm
I’ve since switched my viewpoint on B&N. I used to hate them because they were the reason my mom’s bookstore went out of business in the mid-90s. Now, I see them as one of the few brick & mortar places open that drives people into bookstores, buying physical books. Also competition for Amazon, like you said. I feel like B&N is on the way out though because their Nook software/interface is dismal. Strange how the world works and balances itself out.
#24 by Loretta on November 9, 2015 - 1:13 pm
Well now, another confessed lover of Old Lady Font. Makes my day…and my nights are made by backlighting. I seldom read during the day, saving that treat for just before bed, so backlighting swung me over in a heartbeat 🙂 I was quite surprised when I sold out so easily to my e-reader. I began with the Nook, because it offered color, and I loved perusing the shelves of books that danced in front of my like lollipops. I now use a Kindle…not that it matters, other than to show, I keep doing everything possible to read from those devices. I was such an easy sell. 🙂 Enjoyed the blog…and the hand jive! 😉
#25 by Ellen on November 9, 2015 - 1:15 pm
As an actor-turned-writer, I think all writers could take a look at TV/film personalities and how they do social media. There are some performers who do it really, really well. They engage their fans with engaging glimpses of their lives and offscreen interests, and when they do come out and say, “Hey, look at this thing I did! It’s cool!”, why their fans flock to it in droves because they passionately love them and want to consume *everything they’ve ever done*.
#26 by Woebegone but Hopeful on November 9, 2015 - 1:39 pm
Wonderful and thought provoking post…..sigh….I have so much to learn
#27 by Anthony Lee Collins on November 9, 2015 - 1:44 pm
It’s been decades since I was a professional musician, but if I like a song and somebody offers to give me a copy, I still say, “That’s okay, I’ll buy it.”
Oh, and I agree completely about B&N. People like to ascribe moral qualities to corporations, but mostly it’s just, as you say, business. I remember when Windows first started to take over the world, and some people counted on IBM and OS/2 to save us. And my response was, “So, IBM is now the ‘good guys,’ the less-proprietary, more-open company that will save us from the evil empire? Really? Have you no sense of history at all?”
Oh, and “old lady font”? My mother lived to be 98, and it was seriously-large old-lady-font on her Kindle that meant she could continue to read her New York Times every day. That was, in many ways, her lifeline back to her life before the nursing home, and it was so important to her.
#28 by Marcha's Two-Cents Worth on November 9, 2015 - 1:56 pm
Great stuff and reblogged. I love the comment about used books. It always amazes me to see those other “new and used” copies available on Amazon for my books. I simply haven’t sold that many paperbacks to have that many “used” copies out there. As I’ve thought about it, those must be those “expanded distribution” vendors who buy our books via POD for the same price we get them for. Then they sell them cheaper than we do while we receive pennies as opposed to a decent royalty. I have a real problem with that. How desperate are we to get our books in the hands of readers determines whether or not to opt for that. To me it’s just another way writers are being exploited with everyone making more money from our craft than we are. Readers who may save a few dollars buying these books are probably not aware we see next to nothing through those channels.
#29 by ariefarnam on November 9, 2015 - 2:16 pm
Three excellent points. I can relate to the concern about Amazon becoming a monopoly. Amazon has succeeded by giving customers what they really want. Monopolies lose motivation to give customers what they want. To Amazon, authors are customers and readers are customers. Both. If Amazon were a monopoly, some of that motivation to do right by both readers and authors would evaporate. So, let’s keep Amazon on their toes. 😀
As for social media, I got involved in the whole book marketing thing about a year and a half ago and social media is the only part of the equation I was first shown in marketing books that hasn’t turned up to be largely fluff and hoax. Social media is great. It isn’t a perfect equalizer but it gives the little guy at least a fighting chance. In a year of work I’ve built a mailing list of 300 readers through blogging and being on social media. It’s not much but it is A LOT more than I’ve gained from running book ads, working Amazon algorithms or doing any of the other things all the books on marketing say to do. (Those other things got me nothing.) Okay, it doesn’t really translate into sales but here is the equation I see. Books by unknown authors are never seen in the Amazon slush pile and will never sell. Thus you have to become a known author, if you want to sell books. But becoming known and selling books are still two different things.
#30 by Renee on November 9, 2015 - 2:26 pm
Ooooooh no! You’ll want to squash me like Mr. Bill.
I empathize that your astigmatism makes an eBook an easier read for you.
Printed books are easier for me. I still love reading a printed book – me can no-help-y, Kristen. I love sitting in bed, propped against a pillow and holding a book. Love turning pages and yellow-highlighting passages that I think are especially wonderful… dog-earing pages and studying prose to see how the masters work.
I still buy used books. I even buy used “Mad Magazines” from eBay. To save money, I purchase used hardbacks from Amazon. Finding a beloved out-of-print book is like unearthing a treasure.
I do support authors by purchasing lots of eBooks. If I really dig a book – I’ll buy both the e-format and the printed version. My purchasing habits tend to be 50-50. Half of my books are either paperback or hardback, half are e-books.
For titles I really go ga-ga over, like “Gone Girl,” “Me Before You,” Jodi Picoult, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Jojo Moyes, Francine Rivers – I immediately invest in the hardback. They’re my favorite authors, and I suspect others might follow this pattern. I buy the How-To experts, too, James Scott Bell, many others.
The explosive growth of eBooks is leveling off. Perhaps tons of people self-pubbed in the eBook format during this period, and now there is a glut.
This wave reminds me of the blogs that imploded from 2001-2004. “Dooce” and “Tucker Max” became popular then, and then thousands tried to replicate their success.
Update on Heather “Dooce” Armstrong,
Tucker Max looks like he settled down: http://tuckermax.me/
It’s like there is this initial wave – like with the mommy bloggers and Dooce – where you’re early, you’re the trendsetter, so to speak. Your concept seems fresh and people respond to what you’re doing.
Imitators follow. But then it reaches glut proportions, where too many people are trying to do the same thing. Everybody wants a piece of that readership pie.
#31 by Renee on November 9, 2015 - 2:26 pm
(continued) I’ve attended the Erma Bombeck conference twice, and was struck by the 350 or so people in attendance – folks just like me, loving to write humor, huge Erma fans – and all of us wanting to write columns and blogs adored by millions. But Erma and Dave flourished in a different era and achieved Lottery-odds national fame. I was looking at a packed room of 350 who wanted the same thing – to write and catch on.
We know that newspapers are dying – newspapers might be a smarter bet being online, anyway – and that newspaper syndicates are fading. Trying to replicate Erma’s success, or Dave Barry’s success, when our culture and habits have changed – isn’t realistic.
So it’s like you say, you have to write very well, and write something that readers want.
And stay as current and informed as you can.
And hope for a smidgeon of magic fairy dust, because luck does play a factor. Don’t get me wrong, hard work and perseverance are the bulk of it. A little bit of luck – always helps.
Predicting what readers will respond to – in our culturally fragmented culture – tough to do. Amazon’s certainly trying to do it. Agreed, algorhythms can help predict a YouTube viral hit and Amazon bestsellers. It’s a shrewd way to do business – might have taken inspiration from the 1980’s business model called “just-in-time manufacturing.” And that might have originated somewhere else.
I always craved demographic data surrounding the typical Kindle user, because I suspect Kindle owners were avid book readers, predominantly middle-aged, female, reflecting the demographic of book buyers. Book readers – many of us writers – love to travel with a Kindle and load up titles – than lug around a half-dozen hardbacks in our suitcases.
Some of us have discovered that we still prefer print – because there is a “readership experience” that can’t be duplicated on an eReader.
For the past six years or so, I’ve heard that debut romance authors might be only in an e-book form at first. Once sales take off, the publisher will issue a paperback. That’s fine by me – I’d rather prove I can sell my words via an e-format first, than to go print in a big way, and copies of my novel languish on a shelf.
Emma Chase is a romance author I watched. Initially, her hilarious 2013 “Tangled” was in e-format only, (I think) and then it exploded in sales and she was offered a contract with a major publisher. That to me is the way to go. I’d much rather be underestimated and quietly build on sales.
As for social media – I’d defer to your expertise, because I’m a neophyte.
#32 by Author Kristen Lamb on November 9, 2015 - 2:45 pm
Nah, I actually buy A LOT of paper books. I have to for non-fiction. When I write a book and cite it I have to have an actual PAGE number. And I love highlighting. I couldn’t yell at Spawn for coloring in his books when he was a toddler because I am the world’s worst.
A lot has to do with what book IS it? If it is NF? Probably going to get it in THREE forms. Audio, e-book AND paper. I am AWFUL. Fiction? The font is too small in a lot of genres. I’d all but given up on high-fantasy until I bought my Nook.
And yeah, there will always be rushes of people trying to “copy” some kind of success. But there are no quick fixes, but there is common sense. Good books. Talk to people. Get out and mingle.
#33 by Renee on November 9, 2015 - 3:09 pm
Good advice, Kristen. I’m so isolated sometimes, I verge on being one of those TV hoarders surrounded by a bunch of dead cats.
Love your memes and your blog. It helps keep us going.
#34 by Tamara LeBlanc on November 9, 2015 - 2:27 pm
It’s honestly CRAZY thrilling to be able to hold the book I worked so hard at in my hands. It makes my pops happy, too. He actually took a selfie (he’s late 60’s) holding my book in his hand and texted “I’m so proud of my little girl’s accomplishment. I teared up.
We live in a fantastic time, and I’m so glad I’m able to be a part of it.
The wife thing was HILARIOUS btw!
Have a happy Monday,
#35 by Allan G. Smorra on November 9, 2015 - 2:48 pm
Thank you for the points that you have touched on today. Neither B&N or Amazon are intentional non-profit businesses. Somebody is going to pay for that in the long run and it hurts when it is either the writers or the consumers.
I saw a video that touches on the spec aspect of the business of creative work and it is worth a quick look: https://youtu.be/essNmNOrQto
Now, I return to my NaNo work-in-progress.
#36 by T.K. Thorne on November 9, 2015 - 3:04 pm
Thanks Kristen. I am a new follower of your blog and reading it is fun. Love your style, lady. I am totally with you on whatever way to get stories to readers is fine with me. My father discovered the joy of reading fiction in his 80’s and would never have been able to pursue it without the large print on digital screen. (He literally has 5 words per page.)
It’s exciting to see the publishing world reinventing itself and opening up to writers and readers, making the connecting directly between them stronger. Yeah!
Now I’m going to go send my hubby a coupon for pancakes….
#37 by Author Kristen Lamb on November 9, 2015 - 3:34 pm
Yeah, my grandfather is 90 and LOVES his Kindle Fire.
I am REALLY glad my hubby is too lazy to every fill out the survey! Whew!
#38 by ontyrepassages on November 9, 2015 - 4:05 pm
Totally agree! Nothing can stop me now. Thankfully I know there’s only one way to write a book: in a dank closet in Paris on a manual typewriter with a cigarette hanging out of the corner of my mouth and a bottle of scotch close at hand. Thankfully the ashes don’t gum up the works when they fall on the keyboard. *cough*
#39 by thelonelyauthorblog on November 9, 2015 - 4:31 pm
Great post. You had me laughing.
#40 by Joel S. Copeland on November 9, 2015 - 4:54 pm
Kristin, I’m going to hold your answer in the highest regard on this matter:
I learned to double-space on an IBM Selectric back in school in 1976. Now I’ve read blogs on single-spacing and have been arguing with folks about it. Frankly, I want to find supporting documentation for single-space between the period and the start of the next sentence that exists BEFORE 1976.
Why is it so important? Only four hundred-plus pages of writing to edit IF I can get a CONCRETE reason to do so. (I’m not in newspaper publishing, so the argument of wasted space doesn’t wash with me.)
I hate this kind of change; it’s like re-learning to ride a bicycle by using the handles to pedal and the pedals to steer it. Ugh!
Please let me know your thoughts on the matter and a supporting work I can look up and study which addresses this matter.
Thank you so very much!
Joel S. Copeland
#41 by Author Kristen Lamb on November 9, 2015 - 5:48 pm
You only use one space after the period and YES it is a total pain in the @$$ because I took typing class too and they drilled that into us. Unless you are having your books printed on an old Gutenberg press, likely they will be printed (formatted) digitally. Yes, even if you write them on a typewriter.
The whole rule about one space has much to do with formatting. Every move we make creates a mark of code and two spaces is a lot of wasted space. The new standard is ONE space. So, if we put in TWO spaces, we make it a GIANT pain in the A$$ for the formatter because they then have to go in and remove all that redundant code.
Why? If there is TOO much blank space, then when people get it in an e-book they think something is broken. Ya dig? *fist bump* Stay with me, Bro.
We also need books to be formatted before they can be PRINTED.
And while ONE space doesn’t seem like a huge deal, it can add up, especially when one is talking about works spanning Stephen King length, say 1000-1200 pages! That can make the difference between being able to fit all the books on a shelf or having to use one as a doorstop. If you go to PUBLISH that, makes a BIG difference in COST of printing and shipping especially when we when we get into large quantities.
So, yes, I had to relearn. It sucks but research does say it does help with brain plasticity to stave off Alzheimer’s. So it’s either this or you have to join me on-line playing HALO. Us older folks can rock it. Age and treachery man. Age and treachery…
#42 by Joel S. Copeland on November 9, 2015 - 4:57 pm
Sorry, Kristin, I’m tired and wasn’t clear on my earlier request: I mean single-spacing vs. double-spacing BETWEEN a period and the beginning of a sentence. (Change is a pain…)
Joel S. Copeland
#43 by Lora D on November 10, 2015 - 1:38 am
Just a few reasons why double spaces are not used anymore. First, as Kristen pointed out, it makes books extra-extra long for no reason. Second, we now have all kinds of cool fonts that make it easy to see when a sentence ends and the next begins. No need for the “double space” signal that we needed with the basic one-font typewriter we learned on decades ago. Third, if you’ve read the comments above, a LOT of older people are reading now because they can use electronic versions and increase the text size to gigantic proportions. If you’ve only got five words on the screen, adding extra spaces will make it really tough to finish a book or newspaper.
There is no need for two spaces anymore. We’ve got to keep up with technology–never hold onto the past. If something changes, change with it! That’s the formula to success in the CURRENT world.
Hope that helps!
#44 by Author Kristen Lamb on November 10, 2015 - 6:47 am
Thanks Lora! I love that my commenters are such a great tribe!
#45 by James M. Copeland on November 9, 2015 - 5:11 pm
At times I can see the value of everything you say! At others, ahhh. This time I saw it. I have five books published the new fashioned way. One the traditional way. I have gotten the most out of the five. I wrote em. I can hold em in my hand. They have good stories, albiet, somewhat in need of some more editing, buy my gosh, I wrote em. Now, my neighbors call me Author. They don’t know what the rest of my name is, but they know I write…right. By the way, I do like pancakes.
James M. Copeland
and 74 years of age.
#46 by Iola on November 9, 2015 - 5:17 pm
Where can I buy a digital pitchfork?
Wait. Let me guess. Amazon. 🙂
#47 by Author Kristen Lamb on November 9, 2015 - 5:49 pm
PSHAW! Hellooo? Where else?
#48 by 50at70 on November 9, 2015 - 5:55 pm
I agree with the theory if the author puts the book they wrote out to the public they should get paid for it. But is does make my spine crawl to see so many books mostly ebooks out there for free. FB post and emails abound on my screen to just do this or that and get my books free. I hate that. Free books used to be given out to drum up customers for a sale. If we are trying to achieve this type of adverting then just give out the first three chapters for free then they can buy it if they like it. Better still if there is a competition that requires a genuine effort (not click here) give them as a prize. I still don’t see an author giving away her/his work. If you just need to know someone wants what you write call the kids in high school or college and volunteer to write their assignments for them. They will love you for it, if it is good. I am not pubd yet and don’t have any idea how I will go when I do but so far I have read and listened for 3 or 4 years and nothing sounds like a good plan that will reward the author the pay or name recognition they deserve if they have written a good book. Sorry but some of the self pubd stuff is awful. Maybe it is a good plan if you just want to write stuff that is substandard. Me I want to aim a little higher than that.
#49 by Author Kristen Lamb on November 9, 2015 - 5:56 pm
I have a WHOLE post on that and yeah *fist bump*. It’s desperate. FREE works but only when part of a greater strategy.
#50 by 50at70 on November 9, 2015 - 6:02 pm
Good to hear. I was beginning to think I was the only one who thought this. There are so many fantastic writers out there and their name needs to be a household word plus. There has to be a better way to get out work out there and not give up the thrill of being a recognized name if not world wile at least in our genre.
#51 by sorrygnat on November 9, 2015 - 6:13 pm
Encouraging post; will try to share
#52 by acflory on November 9, 2015 - 6:40 pm
If you hate reading spam, don’t add to it.
Social media should be about the writer, not sales.
We are our own brand. Not everyone will like us, but those that do may give our brain-babies a chance. After that they’re on their own, and no amount of spam will turn them into bestsellers if they can’t stand on their own, um, feet…
-ends with a whimper not a bang-
#53 by katkent2014 on November 9, 2015 - 7:25 pm
Twenty years ago I couldn’t imagine connecting (through social media) with writers and authors around the world and sharing writing tips and support. Recently, I was nominated for Blogger Recognition Award by a dear fellow blogger and as someone who trepidly tested the waters, this was a huge honor and milestone for me. In turn, I can pass the recognition on. Writing has certainly evolved from a standalone typewriter and person with a dream to a world of amazing possibilities. Of course, in the end, everyone agrees, a writer’s success is based on their writing, but now you have choices on how you reach your readers and how you want to be known. Awesome Post!
#54 by katkent2014 on November 9, 2015 - 7:30 pm
Reblogged this on writersback and commented:
Awesome post by Kristen Lamb! A writer has choices in today’s social media world how they want to reach their readers and should explore all their options.
#55 by Rii the Wordsmith on November 9, 2015 - 9:13 pm
While I LOVE a physical book in my hand…that’s my preference as a reader. Reading books on screens hurts my eyes (for some reason, not blog posts or Facebook, but books do. I dunno, not sure what it is about them that makes them different) and I love the smell blah blah. But that’s my preference as a READER. Other readers have other preferences. So yeah, duh, of course I’d want my own book getting out there as much as possible, in any way it’d be sold!
Anyway this post is pretty spot on, thank you as always!
#56 by KFD Wilk on November 9, 2015 - 10:13 pm
I want to ride with the unicorn! So may excellent points.
#57 by lalouziane on November 9, 2015 - 10:33 pm
I love to read ebooks. It’s less clunky than carrying around a bunch of paper backs and I don’t have to explain to my grand children why there’s a mostly naked man on the cover. Yes, I read romance. Not exclusively, but enough. We have a cat house here that sells used books at its garage sale. We donate books and then we buy some.
Basically we’re just recycling the books through our community. I like your idea of buying them. A lot of folks ask me if they can send me a free copy of their book for a book review. I buy every book I review, but I think I’ll adopt your policy of buying even the ones we donate and re-buy for the homeless kitties in our area. We should support each other. Great blog, as always.
#58 by kimberleycooperblog on November 10, 2015 - 2:25 am
Loved this, Kristen, it made so much sense. And GIANT old lady font works for me, I can put off varifocals for just a little bit longer!
#59 by ugiridharaprasad on November 10, 2015 - 4:00 am
Reblogged this on ugiridharaprasad.
#60 by sorrygnat on November 10, 2015 - 11:01 pm
#61 by jebjork on November 10, 2015 - 4:53 am
Always entertaining Kristen. Thanks
#62 by megwolfewrites on November 10, 2015 - 7:53 am
This post–just wow! And as a fellow astigmatic, totally get the old lady font. Here’s a real old lady story–got my 81-year-old mother a touchscreen 2-in-one laptop for Christmas a couple of years ago and bit by bit she got comfortable with Windows 8, but refused to shop online. So I set her up with Kindle Reader and an Amazon account that wasn’t attached to a credit card and she occasionally browsed the Free section for Mysteries. Then she did it more and more. And more. And now she goes through several books per week, emailing me to buy them for her, which I do and then send them to her as a gift. She reimburses me, since I can’t afford to feed her reading habits. It’s great to see her reading so much and getting so excited about Carolyn Hart and Janet Evanovich–and even me. I also go to my local library book sale room to pick up $1 copies of different authors for her to sample when their books aren’t on the Free list–or when they’re priced like $18 for an ebook. Good times!
#63 by Author Kristen Lamb on November 10, 2015 - 7:56 am
You should get her an Amazon Prime membership. I know I sound like I work for Amazon, but you get SOOOO MANY FREEEE BOOKS. I have so many books loaded on my Kindle I will never be able to read all of them. I am a total hoarder. I do TRY, though. I get through a lot of them
#64 by megwolfewrites on November 10, 2015 - 8:03 am
That’s probably what I should do–now I can scratch off Mom’s gift on the Christmas shopping list!
#65 by Author Kristen Lamb on November 10, 2015 - 8:19 am
It pays for itself in like seven books. And then the movies and free audio books and free shipping and YEAH. I LOVE SKYNET…I mean Amazon.
#66 by megwolfewrites on November 10, 2015 - 8:23 am
Oh I do, too–can hardly remember life without binge TV and free shipping. I wonder, though, if we’ll feel differently when our stuff arrives via drone?
#67 by duplicatorbooks on November 10, 2015 - 8:07 am
Very enjoyable post, Kristen…
absolutely agree on #2: B&N/Borders/Amazon – these things are cyclical (indies bought up/crushed by bigger stores, become corporate behemoths, adopt one-size-fits-all approach, new indies sprout up to fill the gap in demand).
Now, about these pancake codes… 🙂
#68 by Jane Laurie Hirsch on November 10, 2015 - 8:10 am
Wow, that was enlightening, and certainly something I’ve never thought about. Each point you made was quite eye opening. My friends belong to a writing group, yes we’re “hopefuls” in the writing world, and she uses your work for examples quite frequently… you always have a wonderful point of view… this certainly made me think twice about how I perceive books!
#69 by storytellergirlgrace on November 10, 2015 - 11:06 am
Another brilliant post about marketing, social media, and how we can actually succeed as writers. Thank you! And my new goal is to have someone act out my books in interpretive dance. 😉
#70 by www.laurendelannier.com on November 10, 2015 - 5:53 pm
You have a “Saturday Night Live” wit combined with a great brain and good looks. I enjoy your posts.
#71 by Author Kristen Lamb on November 10, 2015 - 7:25 pm
Thank you 😀 .
#72 by Nicola on November 11, 2015 - 1:57 am
You mention a couple of times that ebooks help support writers. I’ve actually been holding back on buying ebooks because I’ve read some stuff about how authors aren’t getting a fair deal from their publishers on ebook profits (I’m not published yet myself, so I don’t have any direct experience). Have I misunderstood something? Ebooks would definitely be better for the sake of my living room 😉
#73 by Author Kristen Lamb on November 11, 2015 - 7:13 am
Very often we get paid WAY better off them. I buy e-books for that reason too. Only so much space and less to move and to dust.
#74 by Nicola on November 11, 2015 - 7:17 am
I’ll have to reconsider my book-buying habits, then; supporting authors is always a good thing 🙂
#75 by Maia Kumari Gilman on November 11, 2015 - 8:44 am
Very refreshing, thank you!
#76 by 50at70 on November 11, 2015 - 3:20 pm
Kristen, think you hit a hot topic. Would like it if you would bring any more info on this topic. Thanks
#77 by Author Kristen Lamb on November 11, 2015 - 6:12 pm
#78 by 50at70 on November 11, 2015 - 6:38 pm
Maybe using all your contacts (writers, agents, publishers, indies, etc.) cover each type, one at a time, so you have enough time to really tell us what each option will require of us and what we can expect of them for us. I’m afraid this is a big time consumer on your part. But for the most part I find I can use most all you publish.
#79 by JB Dutton on November 13, 2015 - 2:27 pm
Reblogged this on Sitting at your desk isn't work.
#80 by egbertstarr on November 15, 2015 - 12:38 pm
word of mouth=social media.
i’ll buy that.
#81 by aurorajeanalexander on November 17, 2015 - 5:09 pm
Oh yes… “word of mouth” is vital – it’s faster than the wind and travels in unmeasurable speed. The good word – as well as the bad one!! And believe me, I know what I’m talking about.
#82 by aurorajeanalexander on November 17, 2015 - 5:10 pm
Reblogged this on Writer's Treasure Chest and commented:
Kristen Lamb recommends writers to ditch 3myths “like a bad ex”. And I definitely believe she’s right.
I’m sure this blog post is helpful for many writers, not just us newbies.
#83 by Britt Skrabanek on November 26, 2015 - 2:37 pm
So, I love that you used jazz hands. I use them on a weekly basis.
Don’t get me started on measuring the value of social media. That is the uphill battle I fight every day at work. There are no hard metrics here, people. It’s all about word of mouth, relationships, brand awareness…okay, I’m done.
#84 by Author Kristen Lamb on November 29, 2015 - 6:07 pm
*jazz hands back* 😀
#85 by JenniferOzgur on January 17, 2016 - 7:48 pm
Thanks for the smiles this post gave me. I SOOOO want a shirt with that van on it!!!