March 24, 2010

Misguided Aggression

Apparently there's a big kerfuffle going on right now over at Amazon.com. Certain books are getting a raft of one star reviews, drastically lowering their overall ranking. Theoretically, this is leading to less sales of those lower-ranked titles. Less theoretically, the result of all the single star reviews is intentional. The reason for this boycott that isn't really a boycott? Those books aren't available in Kindle-form.

Now, this is far from the first issue to arise from Amazon's reader reviews (search on Amazon and Anne Rice for an example), but it is the latest to highlight one of the reasons I don't like ebooks: they give the appearance of a major layer between the author and the reader not existing. I have no doubt that most readers think authors are just uploading their books and pocketing the money from sales of their ebooks. So of course they're going to assume that the lack of a kindle version of a book when other forms are available is a deliberate move on the author's part, which couldn't be farther from the truth.

I don't believe ebooks, themselves, are the next evil to beseige publishing. In fact, there are cases (and a lot of them) where ebooks make complete sense. Specifically, referential texts and for people who travel and can't bring their paper books with them. No, it's not really ebooks I have a problem with, but the way they're being positioned. If you listen to anyone (or read any blogs) it would appear that "ebooks are paper book killers!". Which is stupid. Paper books aren't going anywhere.

Ebooks, in reality, are just another form for stories to take, just like paperbacks and audiobooks. Why every new thing has to be an [insert name of old thing] killer nowadays, I have no idea. Was television the death of movies? Is snowboarding the death of skiing? Of course not.

No, paper books will weather this storm just fine. The current generation of authors, on the other hand, may not.

And to those perpetrating this attack, that thing on your neck isn't just to fill hats. Do you really think a handful of authors complaining to their publishers will have the same effect as all of you doing something useful like writing letters to those same publishers?

March 13, 2010

Round Two

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more.

I finished the rewrite of Stealing Genius a few weeks ago. It came in at a svelt 105,000 words. Shocking when you remember that the first draft came in at just over 165,000 words. I have to be honest, I think the more natural length for this book (and thrillers in general) is around 140k, but it would appear the market doesn't agree with me. Especially for first novels. In any case, it's done.

To go with this new version, of course, is a new round of queries. That's what I've been doing the past couple weeks: new query, new synopsis, new agents. And unlike last time, I didn't just focus on the agents who take email queries this time. And my wallet reflects this. Including the partials, it cost me almost $50 for this round of queries. A huge amount, considering the first round cost $0. The ironic thing is that I'm hoping it's going to cost me even more before I'm done. Hopefully I'll be posting more partials and fulls over the coming weeks.

At the moment, I've got 6 partials and 1 full out to agents. Along with a bunch of queries. I'll be updating the status here as it changes. But now I'm trying to focus on new work.

I've added a project on the right called Slaybells. It's a new novel I'm hoping will come in around 75-80K. It's another thriller, but a much different one from Stealing Genius. Slaybells is set entirely in Los Angeles and centers around a broken cop chasing a killer who makes things a little too personal. It's about half done, but is a really disorganized mess right now. After what I just went through writing the synopsis for Stealing Genius, I'm thinking about writing the synopsis for Slaybells now, rather than after the book's written. I think it would really help with my organization issue, too. We'll see.

By the way, if you can identify where the opening quote for this post is from, I'll give you extra cookies at snack time. No fair googling. And begin.