Thursday, December 20, 2007

On the banks of the River Rancid...

I was going to do a Thursday Thirteen on why I love, adore and worship the comedian Kathy Griffin, but this takes precedence.

Go here. Read this.

Now, I'm the first one to admit to my own mental deficit when it comes to business. An MBA I shall never be. But I've pondered this and pondered it, and I'm really not seeing the connection between PBW -- or any other author -- giving away free ebooks and the "undercutting" of other authors' advances.

One would think that if any undercutting were going on, it would be in sales of the professionally published books of the author giving away free samples of her own work. Because basically, we're talking about a well-published, best-selling author doing a little self-publishing on the side. A reader MIGHT think..."Hey, why should I buy her books if I can get other work by her for free?"

Of course, that's not what happens. Hence that whole "best-selling" thing.

But for other authors to point to self-pub-as-promotion being the cause of lower advances? Not huge with the sense-making. Also, reeking strongly of the rancid bitterness that too often flows like a river through the hills and dales of Romancelandia.

"PBW doesn't play the game. She writes in too many genres. She's not a member of anything. She doesn't attend conferences. She doesn't do signings. She doesn't do chats. She pays no attention to reviews. She doesn't send bookmarks or postcards or widgets. Her books aren't even really romance. Plus...she gives them away for FREE. I do ALL that useless self-promo stuff, yet SHE sells like ribbed-for-her-pleasure condoms on the first day of Spring Break, and MY advances are down. Clearly, SHE'S the problem here." *

Me? I think advances are down across the board. I think the industry is in trouble -- much the same kind of trouble with which the music industry seems to be afflicted.

I think publishers as a whole are so busy staring myopically at the bottom line that they can't see how badly they're screwing themselves (doesn't that make an interesting image?)

I think marketing departments have more power than editorial departments, and this makes for shortsighted choices that reward mediocrity and reject originality.

I think people are reading less, and are less interested in books that challenge them in an age where just catching a flight out of state for Thanksgiving dinner with the cousins presents seemingly insurmountable obstacles that could conceivably include a strip search if you happen to wear the wrong damn bra.

I think nothing about this is going to change anytime soon.

What I don't think? Is that PBW -- in ANY of her incarnations -- has much to do with it.

Well. Maybe the global warming thing. Jeez, we gotta watch her every minute, don't we?

*This is me being merely sarcastic again and trying to imagine what could POSSIBLY be going through people's brains when they make these amazing accusations. I apologize to anyone who thought I was quoting a real, live individual. - Romance of Dubious Virtue


Blogger Eva Gale said...

I checked her first, and didn't see the quote you found WHICH FLOORS ME. Nothing like a huge heaping spoonful of WTF? to wake you up in the morning.

You know-this could be HUGE. The free samples at Costoc should be halted immediately. Matter of fact-EVERYWHERE. Yes. They cause chaos in the aisles, too which is just another reason. And No more free samples in Avon orders, or Sephora orders--No more perfume samples at ALL anymore! Yeah, that's it! No more free catlogues, no more free magazines -we are cutting into everyones bottom line! And no more blogging. It's killing newspaper sales.

*rolls eyes*

I'll know I made it big when random authors blame me for why they don't succeed. And if I can make it that big without ever having to go to a convention? Hallelujah.

And you can e-mail me the quoter? Please?Thankyou. :-)

12/20/2007 11:19 AM  
Blogger Eva Gale said...

And No more ARC cotests, or giving away author's copies.


12/20/2007 11:24 AM  
Blogger Eva Gale said...

And tell Kat at Phaze to take the freebies page down.

No, Wait-I'm on a roll...

12/20/2007 11:28 AM  
Blogger Selah March said...

Oh dear. I've set you off but good, haven't I?

Fear not. No actual, living human generated that quote. Just me trying to parse what passes for logic in some folks' heads.

You make some good points, though. Down with freebies everywhere. They cut into the bottom line. Except when they don't, which is pretty much always.

12/20/2007 11:34 AM  
Blogger meljean brook said...

I don't get it either. I didn't read the RT in question, so I had no idea this idea was even going around until I read her post. And even then, I was still trying to figure out how it worked, that she was undercutting the rest of us.

I still can't get it to work. I'm also guessing that it's some nasty sour grapes at work.

12/20/2007 2:18 PM  
Blogger Lynn Viehl said...

Eva, you are my hero. Selah, thank you. I still want to read about Kathy Griffin.

Now that I've gone public with my sins, greedy advance undercutter that I am, I think I can shed some light on why I was attacked.

The Borg, excuse me, SFWA had a kerfluffle earlier this year when some pinhead PhD who can't sell his books accused Cory Doctorow and other SF writers of undercutting advances by their practice of using Creative Commons to simultaneously release free electronic versions of novels when they're released in print.

I've never done this, btw, as all the freebies I publish are original, unpublished work that you can't buy at the bookstores. Still, I am a science fiction author, and I give away freebies, so the pinhead at RT who penned the article probably stopped at that and didn't bother to do any more research on me or simply ask me about what I was doing.

Not all marketing departments are short-sighted, though, and I think some originality is appreciated. In January NAL's new paranormal web site will be using my free e-book, Midnight Blues, to help promote my new print release, Evermore. That may be the first time a major publisher has used author-generated free content for marketing purposes, too. :)

12/21/2007 9:36 AM  
Blogger FerfeLaBat said...

It doesn't make sense. I sat on this for several days before commenting because I've been more than my usual blond-dumb lately. Usually, when people do and say crazy things, I can generally figure out why. What motivates the madness. This time? I got nuth'n.

12/22/2007 5:38 AM  
Anonymous Arin Rhys said...

Some people just can't handle competition. Bad sports, really.

12/28/2007 10:54 PM  
Blogger Selah March said...

Damn blogger for not alerting me to comments.

Meljan~ Yes. A WORLD of yes. Sour grapes grow in great, bushy bushes on the banks of the River Rancid.

Lynn~ Thank you for clearing that up. I'm glad to hear there are publishing companies taking a longer view.

Ferfe~ It only makes sense if you take into account how shitty people can be when they think they can get away with it.

Arin~ You're back! Yay!

1/08/2008 7:52 AM  

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