Archive | October 2008

What Makes a Book a REAL Book?

I’m a member of RWA – and now I’m not sure I’ll renew. Thanks to the letter from our new president, it seems that small press and POD publishers are being kicked to the curb. That’s unfortunate. For RWA, in my opinion.

If I may quote, our esteemed leader has said that her Theme for her presidency will be “…to help her writers become career focused.” And that POD publishing houses take “…no risk” in the publishing of these works.

I disagree. Wholeheartedly. Is a working mother who stays at home stuffing envelopes not career focused? What about any other kind of cottage industry, where women and men post items for sale on Craigslist.com or slave over crafts to sell online to earn their living. Are they not career focused? Are they paid up front? or do they have to put in a little bit of work ahead of time? Does that make their income any less earned?

My publisher has taken a risk with me, an unproven writer. They’ve hired a cover designer to design this awesome book cover. They have provided me with an exceptional editor. They are laying out and designing my galleys, for Kindle, for PDF, and for a trade paperback finished product. And they are providing a distribution point, an ISBN number, and outreach to Baker and Taylor, Barnes and Nobel, Amazon, etc. for the online distribution of my book.

Due to my “day job” at R. R. Bowker, I happen to know ISBN numbers are not cheap. I also happen to know that each one of the services I mentioned above comes with a price tag. So, I didn’t receive a check for a few hundred or a few thousand or more. Does that mean I am not a writer? An author? or that my book is not a book?

I’ve seen my publications with a small press as a partnership. A learning experience. I would LOVE to have it develop into a career, but until that point, it gives me a much needed outlet for my creative fervor. Did they purchase my book up front? no. Have they charged me for the phenomenal editorial service I’ve received? The astounding book cover I’ve been given? or the encouragement to become a much better author? YES. It’s been like writing boot camp. I now have the capability to crank out a short story, conceive a novel with the knowledge that it will find a home. That is worth its weight in gold, in my opinion.

I don’t know that we so much need to bow to what RWA feels is a “real book” or a “real author.” I think we need to focus on how to prove what we do [Print on Demand Literature] is a valid, viable industry. SO, how do we do that?

One thing we have to focus on is how what we do is in its earliest stages. We are the new kids on the block, like mp3s were, once upon a time. Hmm. Download music? What a novel idea.

So, perhaps our POD publishers need to work with us to revise the contract process so that residuals are higher, more advertising is included with the publications. Or perhpas we need to develop a new romance writer’s association – for POD writers. I think perhaps a combination of all three.

I challenge you to see who the new writers for RWA are, every reported month. Half of them are Wild Rose Press authors. And, while the RWA is moving to new headquarters and giving themselves a raise by increasing our renewal memberships, have they considered who their new members are?

One thing is sure. What it means to be a POD author needs to be better defined. I see us as authors in a time like when Louisa May Alcott was just starting out, with the invention of the printing press. Many more doors were opening at that time. There were questions as to what made a woman capable of being an author. We all know what happened there. So, what about now? Where does that leave the product of our blood, sweat, and tears? Who is New York to determine who is a quality writer and who is not?

I propose that we – POD writers – find our own solutions and not throw in the towel.

What do you think?

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Renewed and Revitalized

I’d like to take a quick moment and thank all of you who read this blog. Throughout my journey to publication, I’ve made many friends — and I also have come to realize that there is nothing more important than the friends and neighbors we see every day. The subtle encouragement of the familiar sometimes gets lost… but I’ve been thinking about this place I live – in suburbia. There’s a saying that goes, “anyone can make a friend. Only God can make a neighbor.” And when your neighbors become your friends, it makes every day so much more interesting.

Yes, in our corner of Southwest Riverside County, our houses are elbow-width apart. Yes, we all moved into this corner of the world within days of one another. We’ve seen neighbors come and go. We’ve watched with despair as foreclosure signs have appeared on streets other than our own. We celebrate each others’ triumphs and are there in times of need. I know my neighbors and friends have been there for my family during my healing process.

So I want to say a heartfelt thanks. You know who you are. I was told by a dear friend that I was given the gift of encouragement, which I’ve never really considered as a God given spiritual gift. But is it? And if it is, I feel even more inclined to use it!

God gives us each a special gift – or talent, as the Bible so wonderfully translates it in the parable. I don’t think that is a coincidence at all that the gifts each man received is translated as a talent. Even the man who broke even was a-ok in the Lord’s book. But hiding it. Wasting it. That is unacceptable. God would rather us go out into the world, try and fail, than hide away in our basements.

My writing adventure is just that. I’m not publishing with a huge house, that’s true. But The Wild Rose Press houses some wonderfully talented writers – (I’d say women, but I know one or two of them are actually men writing inspirational romance. Ladies, how awesome is that?!?!) Who doesn’t want to know what kind of hero/heroine relationship a man can put together?

I’m rambling now, on a roll. Thanks, Elissia! ๐Ÿ™‚ Still – the point remains, I am revitalized by knowing that you all are out there, cheering for me. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Don’t waste your talent. I’ll do my darndest not to waste mine. And we can all celebrate together.

Back in the Saddle

Good morning, friends! It’s football Sunday, and you wives of Fantasy Players know what I’m talking about.

I’m resting and recovering – after being significantly fussed at by my doctor. What did I expect? I’m the mother of two kids under the age of 5. Of course I’m doing too much. Just sitting here, resting, listening to the herd of wild buffalo running around upstairs while daddy is changing bed sheets – I’m cringing. But I’m not running up to take over. Or even crawling up. I’m resting. With half-crescents in my palms from squeezing my hands too tight. But he’s doing it. And he’s wonderful. God bless him. REALLY. He needs all the help he can get!

At any rate – the big news is the contest entry. My story, “By Another Name” won one of three contracts for The Wild Rose Press Easter Lily Contest. It will be released in April – I need to get out the contract, the manuscript information page, and everything this week. I’m hoping Kimberlee Mendoza will do another lovely cover for me. ๐Ÿ™‚ Shameless plug, Kim, if you’re listening!

That shot me to the moon last week. I’m waiting on two other entries – but am back to writing new and interesting stories. I have a project with a dear friend I’m fleshing out, as well as rewrites for Castles by the Sea and the final Final final? edits for All or Nothing. Elizabeth is giving me a run for my historical money. God bless editors – and the writers who do their bidding. ha ha. She’s a fantastic editor and I’m in boot camp every time she shoots me an email with a question, request, or added bit of historical tidbits to make the novel soar. So, this author is beaten. The few things I was clinging to, I’ve let go, following her superior advice, letting go of my stubbornness and following her lead. Authors, be thankful for editors as diligent as mine. ๐Ÿ™‚

At any rate, I’m looking forward to sending her Castles, so that she can see how much she’s taught me. Total rewrites are a chore, but when you put the tools you’ve learned into play, hopefully the revisions won’t be nearly as painful. If I can get A or N out by a year from my contract date, I’ll be lucky.

SO- thanks everyone for your well wishes. I’m going back to watch some old Ginger Rogers flicks for my “research” – while the kids “help” their dad. Better get in what I can before the Chargers game starts! Until next time,

Ashley