On Anthologies

So there was a discussion on a fellow author’s Facebook about anthologies.  While I wasn’t going to add to my long “to do” stack, Cedar Sanderson felt strongly enough about the issue to put together a great post about the topic, while Dorothy Grant also gave her views on the topic.

I’ll add a couple things here.  First, getting paid in contributor’s copies is also worthwhile if you sell books in person.  I’ve been able to seal many a deal at cons with a “Hey, I can throw in this bludgeoning device, I mean, anthology for half price…”.  While this may make your neighbors slightly angsty (“How in the hell are you selling a book that thick for only $10?!!”), it’ll be worth it.

This also provides another illustration of how anthologies are a marketing tool.  To put it even plainer, anthologies will not, as a rule, make you rich by themselves–too many mouths to feed.   However, as a marketing tool, they do allow you to use someone else’s network to propagate your name to the masses.  So once you have a back catalog, definitely take advantage of the chance to bang out a 10,000-word story in one of your chosen genres.

From the editor’s perspective, I can also say that the biggest trick to actually getting accepted is to read the rules.  In a couple cases I merely had to gently, but firmly, remind people that there was a word count band for a reason, and that neither Chris Kennedy or I felt comfortable paying someone a full share for less work than we’d asked for.  Thankfully they were able to add elements to the story that made them even more awesome (because, believe me, they were amazing even in shortened form), and we were able to proceed with no problems.  However, not everyone is going to have the time or wherewithal to make corrections like this.

Closely behind following the rules is, as with all things, be a professional.  Positive example of this–I had an author who had, shall we say, a horrendous stretch of bad luck.  She not only persevered, but her story was kick ass and a great addition to the anthology.  A negative example was the author who, after getting a multi-week delay to get their 33% over word count story back within parameters, had a fit of pique because I did not call them.  Yeah, don’t be that person, as the expectation that an editor is personally going to call 10+ authors is insane.  At best, expect that a good editor will make regular email contact, keep you appraised of publication delays and, finally, tell you when the anthology is done.  From the author’s perspective, professional behavior means letting the editor know if there’s going to be a delay, definitely making any extended deadlines, and generally conducting oneself in a manner that makes an editor decide “Whoa, I’m adding that person to my next gig if at all possible.”  There’s a reason you got invited in the first place, so don’t mess it up (and possibly also harm a recommending friend’s reputation) by being a jerk.

Any questions about anthologies?  Hit me up in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them.  Also, Those In Peril is still burning up the charts on Amazon, so go grab a copy if you want to see theory in action!

Four Days With My People (GENCON 2018)

GENCON.

Man.

Part of the reason I’ve taken so long to do this AAR is that I was having trouble trying to put the experience into words.  It’s been two weeks since I loaded out of Indianapolis and began the long trip home…and I still find myself having a goofy smile for no good reason.  If you crossed Toad the Wet Sprocket’s Walk on the Ocean with some goth synth metal fantasy power ballad all over a rolling dice track, that would probably be what my homage to “The Best Four Days in Gaming” would probably be.  Which is ironic, because I didn’t do a whole lot (read none) of gaming.

So what was so great about it? More on that later.

TL:DR for those here for the “Go or not go…” from the author’s perspective:  That hall is wait listed for a reason, and I did great fiscal murder there.  With only books, my books, as in I couldn’t even take any anthologies there.  No prints either.  So, if you want a chance to hand out your swag at a con that has (conservatively) to 75,000 rabid gamers and can get into the author alley, go.

NOTE: I was wait listed and got into Author’s Alley late.  

I will add this caveat, however:  Lodging is going to eat you alive.  If you are comfortable with Air BnB, several vendors had success with that.  However, if you’re not comfortable with Air BnB, expect to spend upwards of $600 on lodging, and that’s if you don’t stay downtown.  Which, for the love of God, stay downtown if you can.  Technically, according to the hotel I was staying at and Mapquest, it should have taken 25 minutes to get downtown.  Yeaaah, that’s not counting weekday rush hour my friends.  Time is money, and in this case it’s worth that extra $10-$15 a night to be able to walk back to your hotel if necessary.

The tables in Author’s Alley were your standard 6-foot con table.  As originally set up, the grey walls behind were angled in order to make them slightly more stable.  This…this was a problem, as it sharply constricted the back area space, meaning I had to empty two of my book crates:

IMG_3712
“I think we’re going to need a bigger booth…”
IMG_3711
“It’s also going to be super awkward if I don’t sell anything…”

Despite the booth shock, load in (and load out) went really well.  This was a con that took security seriously, and woe be unto you as a vendor or help if you did not have your badge during setup.  Park in Parking Lot A if you go–it’s not that much further than the “Marshalling Yard” behind the building, and you won’t have to wait for a pass to park.

 

IMG_3718
All done!

The crowd, as to be expected from the gaming community, was mostly (high and epic) fantasy fans, then about 75% of those sci-fi as well.  The Butcher’s Blade print, as always, was a life saver.  As my neighbors all observed, it made people stop and look, I could engage them in conversation, and at that point the magic usually happened.  Again, if only I had apparently talked to the right person and been told “book related merchandise” was safe to sell.

Speaking of fantasy, it also helped that I had great neighbors.  To my right was fellow sci-fi author Hans Cummings:

Hans at GENCON.jpg

To my left was Fantasy Author J.J. Sherwood (here with your humble host and her hubs, Michael):

IMG_3753

Good neighbors make any Con go well, and J.J. and Hans were awesome.  Since J.J. did not do sci-fi, she sent folks over to me.  As I lacked fantasy, I sent folks over to her.  It went really well.

So, again, if you have a chance to do GENCON as an author, do it.

If you have a chance to go to GENCON as a guest? Well, now we get to where I talk about “tribe.”  For those of you who don’t know, I’m a huge role playing game fan.  (“Wait, wait…you dropped DnD references and names throughout An Unproven Concept.”)  Being around 75,000 other people who shared the same passion was amazing.  I spent most of the weekend talking to people with whom I didn’t have to explain phrases like, “Oh, so you’re a World War II buff as well?  I shall now make my persuasion roll with advantage…” (and yes, she bought the alternate history anthology).  Even better when you see familiar faces from the Kansas City area and do a mutual “Wait, what?  Why are you here?!”  Plus, there were cool books like this:

IMG_3721
And a truly impressive charity set up:

IMG_3745IMG_3744IMG_3743

In addition, there’s Critical Role Live (if you get your tickets early enough):

IMG_3734.JPG

I was in a theater with over 2,000 fellow crazies when this brought the house down:
Sam on Skates

Courtesy of Leigh 574

For those of you who don’t know who that is or why we were all ecstatic about a man in a pink suit on roller skates coming out with a headlight in his crotch, I can only point you here, then point you here, and say this has been one of the best stories I’ve ever consumed.

Finally, I got to see old friends after several years.  To include my friend Quiltoni (“Queen of the Quilts” as I’ve been known to call her) and her merry band of booth helpers.

IMG_3713.JPG
(No, there’s not a quilter in there…we all forgot to take pics the whole weekend)

So to recap:  Go to GENCON for the sales, stay for the community.  It’ll probably be the best 4 days of your life, the people were awesome, and I have zero regrets about taking the plunge into Author’s Avenue (even with the spinning wheel of doom).  I don’t know if I’ll do it next year (I have my sights set on a couple of other shows that might eat the leave), but it was worth it this year.

 

News on Reviews

Recent news about Amazon reviews here.

My quick thoughts:

Jeff Bezos and the gang are not playing around.  This is a strong action taken against click farms and other gimmicks that have had Amazon’s review / marketing features in the news for all the wrong reasons.  It was starting to appear to some indie authors as if Amazon did not care so much about review veracity as long as the money was flowing in for sales.  This would seem to indicate Amazon cares a great deal about protecting the integrity of its brand.

Getting reviews just got harder.  If you have books in Kindle Unlimited, this probably means that getting borrower reviews may be more difficult.  I know of at least one regular indie reviewer who is on a fixed income (hence why he does KU).  It sounds like this is $50 total lifetime, but still–it’s just another barrier to having, say, people who borrow a book from the library give an author good buzz.

Grudge Killers.  While I’ve yet to annoy someone enough that they thought it was worthwhile to create 20 different accounts to one star me, I know of several authors who have.  Amazon had previously had a “We have neither the time nor the energy to get involved…”-view of this.  However, I think in part this is due to several prominent figures getting just avalanched by fake accounts when they publish a memoir.  Regardless of the reasons for the beef, this should make it harder for crap like this to happen.

Overall I think it is a plus.  We’ll see how it turns out.

 

 

For A Few Credits More…

The Four Horsemen Universe (4HU) anthology your humble narrator contributed to is available!  Click here to get military sci-fi written by both independent and traditionally published authors.  If you like exploding space ships, mecha, or just plain carnage, go ahead and click here.

You can also buy the first anthology, A Fistful of Credits.

 

Fistful of Credits.jpg

 

 

Where Your Host Dabbles…

A local writer’s club runs a free internet short story site.  I’ve had an urban fantasy short idea kicking around in my head for a bit, so I tossed a short up on the site.  It can be found at the Confabulator Cafe.  Feel free to poke around and read other authors’ stuff–there’s a lot of talent there.

 

Some Publishing World News

There have been several developments in the indie publishing world as of late:

 

First, Draft 2 Digital is making a major effort to establish themselves as a major distributor competing with Amazon’s behemoth.  A few weeks ago, there was the announcement of a new audiobook service that, unlike Audible, does not have a sliding royalty scale based on exclusivity.  As someone who sells at cons, you best believe that caught my attention as I could theoretically get CDs pressed to sell at the booth and still have my books distributed on Audible, Itunes, etc..  No, I haven’t looked into it yet as I’ve been a mite busy, but I’ll probably get around to it soon.

The second step that Draft2Digital took was to link up with Overdrive.  If you don’t know what Overdrive is, a short synopsis is here.  The Passive Voice gives his opinion here, and a couple of folks chime in their opinions via comments.  I’ve already clicked my 2 books through Draft2Digital onto Overdrive–I’ll let you know if there’s a big difference in my sales.

These changes are big news for those who are considering “going wide” and eschewing KDP’s exclusive agreement.  Why would someone do this, given that KULL will pay you for page lends?  Well, perhaps because there’s been a rush of articles on how KULL’s pot (which is fixed) is being scammed, clickfarmed, and otherwise cheated in a way that hurts honest authors.  This blog, in particular, got widespread attention among indie authors and content sites.  Although I think there are completely legitimate ways that an author can bottle lightning and suddenly have a whole bunch of page views, I can see the author’s larger point that this looks suspicious as hell.

In any case, Amazon has announced that they are revamping the way borrowed pages are counted.  If you’re in the KDP program, you should probably check your book’s pages and monitor to see if the new platform changes your page counts.  Hopefully, this makes scamming the system far less lucrative, and also allows honest authors to have higher payments.