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What Authors Should Look for in an E Publisher

If you have been paying attention this last week, you will have read some eye brow raising posts from and about epublishers, unfortunately, few of it good. The fact is that because of the low entries to barriers in the e publishing industry (i.e., lack of funding), many epublishing companies are started by individuals with little to no business experience, let alone editing or publishing experience. Authors who find themselves in the unfortunate position of having submitted books to these shaky publishing ships often end up not getting paid and being shamed by “friends” of the publisher into not speaking up.

There appears to be no organization that will step in to protect authors from themselves and unscrupulous or negligent publishers. RWA doesn’t understand epublishing and has no one in a leadership position that does. EPIC appears to be completely absent although its current president, Brenna Lyons, can be seen commenting at the Arizona Republic website disseminating inaccurate legal information about authors’ rights in bankruptcy. E published authors or aspiring epublished authors simply do not make enough money in royalties, for the most part, to be able to afford an agent who could help an author navigate the difficult contractual waters.

This means that the burden rests upon an author to seek out as much information as possible for signing with an epublisher. There are forums for authors to ask questions, such as Absolute Write Forum and the Romance Divas. There are places that exist that post information about prospective epublishers such as Piers Anthony and Emily Veinglory’s EREC site. More recently, Angela James of Samhain has provided some information to the Smart Bitches about epublishing and she has graciously offered her insight to us at Dear Author. I compiled a list of helpful hints with the assistance of Ms. James. It is not meant to be a) legal advice or b) comprehensive. It’s meant to jump start an e author or an aspiring e author in finding the right home for her or his hard work.

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Basic Research

Before submitting to a house, basic research would include the following:

  • Read the publisher's books. If you don’t read a publisher’s books then you cannot know the quality of the product the company is publishing. Someone else's idea of quality and great books might be vastly different from your own. You must make your own determination.
  • Put on your reader’s cap and complete a transaction at the publisher’s place of purchase. How smoothly does the process go? Would you go back and make another purchase? Is customer service prompt/friendly in helping with difficulties?
  • Look at the catalog of published books. Who is publishing with them? Is it a large assortment of authors or the same four or five. Does the publisher have his or her own books in the catalog and how many? Do you recognize any of the authors?
  • Read the “About Us” page. What is the background of the owners? Do they have experience in business, publishing, etc.? Are they publishing their own books? Do they have a physical address and corresponding telephone number? Is the publishing house incorporated or is it simply a sole proprietorship or partnership? If it is not incorporated, who are the true owner(s)?
  • Look at the cover art. Browse the website and get a feel for whether you'd buy the books based on the cover art. If you wouldn't, then why another reader?
  • Is the website professional looking? Are there a lot of typos? Do they provide readers with covers/blurbs/excerpts for their catalog of books on sale and coming soon? As a reader, I would never have purchased a book at Mardi Gras Publishing because I immediately clicked away at the sound of the mp3 playing and I am not likely to buy a book from a site certified by Playgirl because that tells me nothing about the quality of the books.
  • Google the publisher. You can learn a lot from casual blog mentions by both readers and authors.
  • Choose a book from the publisher's catalog and Google it. How many places is it available to buy?
  • Do not be afraid to ask questions. Talk to authors about their experiences with the publisher. Don't talk to just one, ask a couple. Most authors are happy to help a fellow author out. Things to ask: Does the company pay on time? Are they accessible if there's a problem with royalties/edits/cover art, etc.? Are the company executives professional? Does the company help with promotion and marketing? Are they supportive of authors writing for other publishers? Does the company encourage authors to write to a certain amount of sex, a certain storyline, genre, etc.? Is there a thorough editing process and did the author get a say in the edits or where they presented as a fait accompli? What are the sales numbers like?

    There is a term called “queering the deal” used in referring to lawyerly interference in the consumation of deals. Essentially, lawyers are paid to look at the bleakest alternative to a contract and write a way out for their clients. By pointing out negatives and encouraging their clients to look at those negatives, lawyers are sometimes accused of “queering the deal.” Don’t be afraid to “queer the deal” by asking too many questions. Forearmed is forewarned.

  • Find out if the company put their books in print (if this is important to you). Do all books go to print or just high sellers? Does the company require you to contribute to the print costs? What kind of print run do they have? If the books are print on demand, are they returnable (there are different types of print on demand so this is an important question because most bookstores will not order or carry books which are not returnable). Go to online bookstores, are the books available there? Got to your local bookstore, do they shelve the books or can they order them? Look at the quality of the print books (do they look like they'll fall apart after one reading? Is the formatting inside the books neat and professional? Do the covers draw your attention–"in a good way?)

After your research is done and you have submitted your manuscript and are offered a contract, these are things that you should consider:

  • Read your contract and understand every term to which you are agreeing. If you don’t understand a term, ask the person offering you the contract what the term means. If that does not satisfy you, hire a lawyer. If a lawyer is too costly, then consider what the worst possible scenario would be to signing a contract without understanding the terms of it. I.e., the relinquishment of your rights to publish your work both now and in the future and then ask yourself what that is worth.
  • Find out if the contract is negotiable. All contracts should be negotiable although not all parts of it might be. I.e., a publisher might say that clause B,C, and F are non negotiable and that doesn’t necessarily mean that the epublisher is shady but if the entire contract is non negotiable, beware.
  • Clauses to be aware of in the epublishing business.
    • a clause that asks you to promise to use your author name only for books written at that publisher
    • Clauses that give the publisher rights to your characters
    • Option clauses that give the publisher first right of refusal (of one book, of your books for a lifetime, of books in that series). Before you sign an option clause, know what you're getting in return. Option clauses are very dangerous for e-authors to sign because you are not getting an advance. Why give up something if you aren’t getting anything in return?
    • Clauses that involve editing. You don't want to give a publisher the right to rewrite your work without approval, but you also don't want to force them into a situation where they have to send you a new copy for approval every time they add a missing period.
  • Pay attention to how and when royalties are paid and make sure this is acceptable to you. What recourse do you have if royalties aren't paid in a timely manner?
  • What "outs–? are given to publisher/author in the contract. What action is considered to be breach and curable v. what action is considered to be breach and thus terminates the contract? (This is sometimes determined by legal interpretation.
  • Ask the editor who's offered you the contract to explain their editing process to you. What is their philosophy on edits? Do they look for basic grammar and typos or do they do deep content edits? How many rounds of edits do they do? Is there a separate final line editor/copy editor who will also go over the book and give it some polish?
  • How long can the author expect from the time of contract to begin edits, and then to date of publication? This varies for every company and can play a large role in an author's decision. Know the answer before you sign the contract so there are no surprises.
  • Ask the editor/publisher about the company's marketing/promotional efforts. What do they contribute to? What things do they do to promote the company and/or specific books. What do they expect from the author?

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

146 Comments

  1. Sarah McCarty
    Sep 02, 2007 @ 06:19:19

    Excellent job, Jane! Very comprehensive.

    The only thing I would add is that asking an e publisher what a clause means would not be the way I would gain understanding. There is a strong likelihood the answer given would be skewed either because the person answering doesn’t fully know, or if the author is dealing with a disreputable party, doesn’t want the author to know. I don’t know how many times I’ve been on loops and see a newbie post a question on a clause’s meaning, then see them come be-bopping back with a “Never mind, my publisher explained it to me. It means this.” only to blink and think, “Uhm, no, it doesn’t.”

    I do send out an email. Sometimes what I get back is a rather indignant response of, “So -and so is very nice. I don’t think they would lie to me. I’m going to trust my publisher.” And I shrug, because it’s very easy to see what posts the author will be making to blogland a year or so down the road. And I have very little sympathy when the wailing starts.

    Bottom line, it is impossible for a publisher to be an author’s friend in a business deal. No matter how nicely their representatives present themselves, no matter how much they say they care about their authors, when push comes to shove their corporate survival rests on getting as much as they can from an author and on taking advantage of every opportunity presented to enhance their position. That’s why ehouses keep restructuring their contracts . It’s not to loosen the terms and be more fair. No matter spin is put on the explanations for the changes (and they are always nicely presented with a good spin that are anchored usually in at least half truths) in reality those changes are their to tighten the noose

    To reiterate this point because it can never be reiterated enough. As authors we are bound to the letter of our contract. It doesn’t matter what anyone intended the contract to mean. When it comes to enforcement, the only thing that matters is what the contract says. Period. No ifs, ands or buts. No allowance for hurt feelings or “I didn’t understand.”

    It is useful to ask a publisher to assess the extent of their knowledge or their honesty, but as a way of discovering what a clause means, not reliable and highly risky. When it comes to contracts, the publisher’s goal is to secure terms that insure them as much profit from the author’s work as they can get and to lock up as much future profit from that author as they can get at the lowest possible cost. Authors are trying to secure as much profit from their work and they can get and fighting to keep their future options as open as they can which means at contract time, the publisher is never, ever your friend. That doesn’t mean negotiations have to be nasty, but it does mean that this is the most important time to be educated, confident, and clear on your goals.

    When approaching a contract, one should do so with an open mind that says all clauses are negotiable. You will be told by other authors they are not. The house may have a reputation that says they are not. All that means is that many people who tried before were not successful. It does not mean you will not be successful. The important thing to remember is the presentation of a contract is the opening of negotiations, not the end.

  2. Sarah McCarty
    Sep 02, 2007 @ 06:22:30

    Oh heck! The edit option is turned off. Forgive the typos please. I’m only halfway through coffee.

    And good grief. I thought that was a joke, certified by playgirl! *blink*

  3. Charlene Teglia
    Sep 02, 2007 @ 06:43:46

    Excellent information.

  4. Alessia Brio
    Sep 02, 2007 @ 07:44:44

    I assure you that EPIC is not “absent” to its members. To non-members, however, it may seem inactive on this front. Hence the benefits of membership.

  5. Alessia Brio
    Sep 02, 2007 @ 07:58:18

    Quickie note on the “Playgirl certified site” — I don’t think any publisher sees that as a stamp of legitimacy. It’s just a link exchange. And, looking at the stats for the Coming Together site (which is also Playgirl “certified”), a steady stream of hits come from the Playgirl site (where a reciprocal link is posted). I can’t knock a publisher for doing what it can to increase traffic to its site.

  6. Sarah McCarty
    Sep 02, 2007 @ 08:06:11

    Alessia,

    What exactly does EPIC do? I read it’s mission statement when it formed, but from observing, there’s no evidence that there would be any benefit to joining. Not saying there isn’t, just that the organization flies so far under the radar (discounting the Eppies) when it comes to epublishing issues that it’s not even on the radar for the majority of epublished authors as a place to go to for current information or for positions on changes in contracts, the epub environment, etc. so I’m genuinely curious as to what the organization has evolved into and what benefits it has to offer authors.

  7. Lynne
    Sep 02, 2007 @ 08:25:41

    Determining a new publisher’s legitimacy can be as simple as doing a search for a tax ID at einfinder.com. You can do three searches for free. Any legit publisher that actually plans to PAY people should have a tax ID, even if it is operating as a D/B/A or sole proprietorship.

    If you can’t find a tax ID, that’s a HUGE red flag. Is the publisher planning to pay people under her own SSN? Zoinks. At best, it’s a sign that the publisher just hasn’t thought things through and doesn’t know how to run a business — scary! — but it could mean that she doesn’t plan to pay anyone at all.

    In my opinion, not being able to find a corporation or LLC is also a warning sign. There’s no way in hell I’d run a publishing company as a sole proprietor.

  8. Alessia Brio
    Sep 02, 2007 @ 09:09:50

    Sarah,

    I think the best way to answer your question is to link you to a recent blog post on the subject:

    http://brennalyonsden.blogspot.com/2007/08/what-is-epic.html

    Personally & professionally, I get a whole helluva lot more out of the $30 I spend on my EPIC membership than I do on any other writing/publishing-related memberships or subscriptions. As a support group, EPIC is without parallel — and largely without the melodrama that characterizes many other such groups. As a corporation (Yes, EPIC is a business.), it is managed with professionalism and compassion. I’ve never felt that my opinion has fallen into a black hole.

    EPIC promotes e-publishing. Bottom line. No other professional organization gives more than lip service to it.

  9. Jane
    Sep 02, 2007 @ 09:18:50

    It seems to me that there is an inherent conflict of interest for an organization, particularly a for profit one if that indeed is what EPIC is, to represent both authors and publishers.

  10. Jules Jones
    Sep 02, 2007 @ 09:20:23

    Excellent post, and thank you.

    One of the things I see time and time again is an author or publisher talking about how the publishing house is a family. My own publisher had some interesting things to say about this recently, but quite apart from the “it’s a *business* relationship” aspect, there’s another issue. You can be best friends forever with your publisher, but if the owner(s) fall under a bus, you’re going to be dealing with their heirs — who may not be people you even know. Or they may get burned out, or simply be offered a buy-out deal they’d be daft to turn down. I get on very well with the owners of Loose Id, but when I’m reading the latest version of the LI contract, I read it on the assumption that one day they’ll all be in the RWA hotel when the gas cylinder compound next door to the hotel blows up…

  11. Angela James
    Sep 02, 2007 @ 09:25:29

    You know,as comprehensive as that list “seems” I still feel like there are things I missed. I’m sure there are and I hope authors or other publishers will jump in and fill in what I missed! I guess the feeling stems from my belief that an author really must do everything possible to know what they’re getting into, and the feeling that too many authors don’t. I’ve done editor appointments and received a number of submissions where the author knew nothing about us/had never read our books/and had sometimes not even visited our website. Of course, that doesn’t mean they would accept a contract if one was offered, but I still think basic research before subbing to any company is so vital.

    On the topic of EPIC, I had an author once reject a contract offer because our contract didn’t follow EPIC’s suggested contract guidelines. Actually, I received a fairly scathing letter from the author. This concerned me, not because the author didn’t want to sign the contract, but because I’m still not sure, to this day, what exactly it is that EPIC recommends that made the author find the entire contract so reprehensible and feel so comfortable writing such a letter, not even trying to negotiate any points of the contract but instead totally burning a bridge with us in such a manner (I don’t mind someone not wanting to sign the contract, it does happen, which is why I recommended above making sure you know what the contract says –very, very, very important– and that you can live with those terms, but the letter I was sent was just plain ugly). Does EPIC offer legal advice? Or have contract/literary attorneys who provide EPIC with the information for their members? It’s been a while but it’s one of those things that continues to puzzle me.

  12. Lynne Connolly
    Sep 02, 2007 @ 10:06:58

    EPIC is an organisation for e-published authors. If you have an e-book published, you can join. Publishers, editors etc can join as associates, but they have no voting rights.
    E-publishers are in the process of setting up an organisation for them, to see if they can agree accepted standards etc, but this is definitely an organisation still being worked out. I have high hopes for it.

    Angela’s list is pretty comprehensive. What I’ve found really useful when looking at an e-publisher is to ask authors, strictly in confidence, for their opinions. But there is no way you can share that with anyone else, if you want a truly honest response.

    The only thing I can think of is that you should continuously monitor your publisher. I was guilty of not doing that at Triskelion. When I joined, it was a small, enthusiastic company but later, it lost its way. I should have got out when it became clear that it was only selling books from its own website, that for me was the first indicator, but I chose to ignore it. I was always treated well, but I put that down to having the good fortune to have Gail Northman as my editor. I edited for Triskelion too, but we ‘ordinary’ non executive editors were well out of the information loop.

    So when you’ve signed with a publisher, make sure they are developing in a way you like. When circumstances change, make sure you like them and can go along with them. This is where it pays to have a good “get-out” clause. It’s not always that the changes are nefarious in some way, they might just be that you don’t like the development, that it doesn’t work with the way you see your career development.

  13. Angela James
    Sep 02, 2007 @ 10:12:00

    E-publishers are in the process of setting up an organisation for them, to see if they can agree accepted standards etc, but this is definitely an organisation still being worked out. I have high hopes for it.

    What kind of organization?

  14. Alessia Brio
    Sep 02, 2007 @ 10:14:34

    First, a disclaimer — I’m not affiliated with EPIC in an official capacity. I’m “just” a member, and a relatively new one at that. EPIC’s been around for 10 years. I just joined in early 2006. I’ve still a great deal to learn about the organization, but it’s certainly held my interest.

    Jane –

    EPIC doesn’t “represent” anyone. It has a membership that includes industry professionals: authors, publishers, cover artists. It provides information and promotes e-publishing.

    Angela –

    As to your contract question, I can only recommend comparing the contract in question with the model contract posted on the EPIC site at http://www.epicauthors.com/contract.html to try to find any differences.

  15. Brenna Lyons
    Sep 02, 2007 @ 10:18:57

    Since Dear Author is yet again speaking about things they have little knowledge of (in this case EPIC), let me set the record straight.

    EPIC’s function, as an organization, has never been to “police” publishers. RWA has tried and failed repeatedly on this mark, because what they look for bears no resemblance to providing proof of a competent and ethical publisher/author relationship. If you want a “wall of shame for publishers,” Piers Anthony and P&E provide them, and EPIC sends authors to them, though notably we do NOT tell people to take them at face value.

    What IS EPIC? I believe another poster has already linked to the description of what EPIC is and is not, so I’ll save the bandwidth, but I will say that EPIC is an information source and a networking and support network. It’s painfully obvious that the owners of Dear Author don’t know what EPIC does. If they did, they would know a few things of importance.

    One is the fact that members and non-members alike use our resources. It doesn’t surprise me that someone who isn’t in indie/e isn’t aware of those resources. Admittedly, many of our contacts are still made by word of mouth, but EPIC is only 10 years old this year…and the first year+ was more a rag-tag collection of authors on a Yahoogroup and little more, picking up stragglers and becoming more inclusive.

    When a call for help comes in, it doesn’t matter who sends it, EPIC members try to help, within the limitations of our scope, but that scope is fairly wide, when it comes to indie/e publishing. We’re a support group, and many of us view all of indie/e as our brothers/sisters in arms. If a member brings a concern to our lists, even if it’s not a personal concern, it goes through the full forum of members and their personal resources. Answers from that forum are usually given the green-light to be passed along to non-members. I can’t recall a single time when it would have helped someone and EPIC members did not freely offer whatever information we had at our disposal.

    In answer to Jane’s accusation…. It’s obvious that Jane doesn’t realize the unique make-up of indie/e. You see, in indie/e, the publishers and editors are often authors, in their own rights. In indie/e, the publishers and authors ATTEMPT to work together, by and large, which means their aims are often aligned, which comes across on the lists pretty often. There are some unreasonable authors and some unreasonable publishers, but nothing will change that state of affairs. EPIC is primarily an author organization and always has been. The number of member-publishers we have that are not also authors is miniscule…I believe Dan counted them in at roughly 8 or 9 in a membership of 660+. That is not a huge chunk of the population, certainly not enough to create a conflict of interest for us. Members can tell you that the lists are not skewed either direction, and members are welcome to speak in any capacity…or all capacities that they have in the publishing industry. The more viewpoints we have, the better for us all.

    There are other organizations for indie/e publishers specifically. The AIDP, the Association of Independent Digital Publishers, is a new organization but making great strides. Many of the AIDP members are also EPIC members. When EPIC learned that the EPIC publishers plus non-EPIC publishers of AIDP were already working on a code of ethics for publishers, not unlike the AAR for agents, we stepped back and let them have at it. Can’t wait to see what they do with it, and we’ll gladly put our force (what we have) behind a reasonable code of ethics designed by AIDP. It’s a good group to make it.

    I might note a special kudos to Angela James. Angela has been listening to what EPIC tells people about researching an e-publisher…or perhaps amassing the same information herself, but that is very close to the information we disseminate. Well done on covering the basics, Angela. There’s a lot missing, of course, but there’s a lot of information to cover.

    One thing people might want to do is check out EPIC’s model contract for indie/e and red flag clauses. They are available on the site, to members and non-members.

    To Angela… We NEVER suggest an author send a scathing letter. We never suggest more than an author trying to negotiate with the publisher, professionally, and unprofessional author behaviour is highly condemned on the EPIC lists. If there is still a clause that can’t be worked out after negotiation, the author should walk away and nothing more. No one at EPIC tells people to flame publishers. That’s unprofessional. We provide the model contract. People place contract clauses that worry them up on the lists and ask opinions of others, both authors and publishers. I’ve seen people say, “I would negotiate that out.” or “I wouldn’t sign that, as it reads.” or even “That’s not standard.” or “That could be abused by…” I’ve never seen anything worse than that, and that is advice given BY INDIVIDUALS on the EPIC lists…networking and support. The EPIC model contract WAS, in fact, crafted by a committee that included lawyers…one of which was Elise Dee Beraru. That contract is currently included in law texts and when it was re-evaluated last year, the lawyers (outside ones) doing the recheck could find nothing but a few suggested term changes that made no real difference in the contract terms to even suggest.

    I both agree and disagree with Sarah. No, do not take the word of the publisher for the legitimacy of a contract clause. Check with the model and red flags…and check with those who have experience with contracts and what is standard in indie/e, what they’ve seen abused and how… All important moves.

    At the same time, it is useful to ask a publisher how “he/she/they” interpret certain clauses and have them spelled out more specifically. For instance, much as I abhor first refusal clauses (except for a specific series deal), I’ve found that some publishers read it to mean that the first book they refuse makes that clause null and void and others read it to mean they can refuse any book they wish and still have rights of first refusal of anything else you write in that series. Knowing how the publisher interprets a clause can sway an author’s decision whether or not to sign, indicate possible future problems in the making and clue you in that a clause needs reworded to be specific.

    I do not agree that all changes to indie/e contracts are designed to “tighten the noose.” There are times when they make changes to close loopholes that have been exploited by unscrupulous authors, because as much as I hate to say it (being an author, personally), they exist. If the publisher finds itself in a position to be used and abused, it will protect itself. I agree that they must, not only for their protection but also for the protection of other authors with them. I would never deny them that, but I vote on a contract by my willingness or unwillingness to sign that contract.

    And please…no offense to Lynne…but I’d add checking their legitimacy via tax ID and other legal means but not make that the end-all of whether or not a company is legitimate. A company can give all legal and outward signs of being a legitimate enterprise and be completely unethical when dealing with authors.

    Beyond that, the information EPIC is disseminating is not in error. In fact, there are no less than four lawyers chiming in on what the law says, providing EPIC with information.

    The current laws DO create this problem, and there is absolutely nothing the authors could have done, before the fact, to stop this from happening, because initial checks showed the company as knowledgeable and with a solid business plan…and the contract was sound, but the contract is thrown out in the case of bankruptcy. But, I’ll get back to that.

    The danger signs came later, when it was too late for many of the authors. By the time most of the authors knew there was a problem and asked for their rights back, it was too late, because of the 180 days the court and trustee have to search back and seize old contracts. That is not in error. That is bankruptcy law.

    No contract clause will protect your rights, as this case clearly shows. Any knowledge that anyone gives you to the contrary is wrong. You CAN and SHOULD ask for such things in an indie/e contract as return of rights in a breach, return of rights in the case of bankruptcy and possibly even non-assignability of rights in a bankruptcy…but don’t count on any of them to save you the same grief the Triskelion authors are going through.

    The only ways those laws can be changed is if authors and others affected by the current deplorable state of the law stand up and demand the protection of our rights from congressmen and senators. There is nothing in error about that, either.

  16. Sarah McCarty
    Sep 02, 2007 @ 10:22:01

    Epic- I read the post. Thanks for pointing that out.

    I’m still pretty unclear, but I gather it’s a business that functions as a social support group for anyone-’publisher, author or interested party-’in epublishing? Sort of a weight watchers model for epubb interested?

    I know you say they do more for epublishing than any other publisher, (though I do feel some of their goals are severely outdated based on the changes in the industry) but nowhere in that post does it say anything EPIC has actually done beyond posting articles. This is where I always get hung up. It’s a business. It says it promotes epublishing. But what does it actually do that is considered support/promoting? I get the benefit to EPIC for members joining. Epic receives cash. What I don’t get is what are the results the clients of this business get for their money? (Whenever I join anything this is my bottom line.)

    Oh, and for what it’s worth, since every NY publisher is now in epublishing, I think that qualifies as more than paying lip service.

    Are authors maintaining their royalty rates as the big houses go in? No, but there has been very little activism to make this happen, from EPIC or anyone else. Are authors maintaining their better terms with current epublishing houses? No. And again, because there has been no activism on authors’ or organizations’ part to try to raise awareness. So again, if I were still strictly epubbed, I would still be asking myself as I watched the emarket erode, where is EPIC? Do they have a stance on this? Do they have a stance on anything?

    Which brings me back to question one: What does this organization actually do?

  17. Brenna Lyons
    Sep 02, 2007 @ 10:24:55

    Correction to Lynne… Industry members now DO have voting rights in EPIC, as of April of this year. As I noted, the non-author industry members make up such a minute portion of the membership and are so closely aligned to authors in the goals of EPIC as an organization, it was ridiculous to exclude them.

    To Angela… I provided the information on AIDP in my post. For more information on joining, please contact Liz Burton at zumayabooks @ gmail.com (without spaces).

    Brenna

  18. Angela James
    Sep 02, 2007 @ 10:33:58

    I might note a special kudos to Angela James. Angela has been listening to what EPIC tells people about researching an e-publisher…or perhaps amassing the same information herself, but that is very close to the information we disseminate. Well done on covering the basics, Angela.

    Thank you. I’m not a member of EPIC so I’m glad to hear what I had to say is similar to the recommendations of EPIC. But yes, I did manage to amass the information myself.

    The AIDP, the Association of Independent Digital Publishers, is a new organization but making great strides.

    How so?

  19. Jennifer McKenzie
    Sep 02, 2007 @ 10:49:10

    Are authors maintaining their royalty rates as the big houses go in? No, but there has been very little activism to make this happen, from EPIC or anyone else. Are authors maintaining their better terms with current epublishing houses? No. And again, because there has been no activism on authors' or organizations' part to try to raise awareness. So again, if I were still strictly epubbed, I would still be asking myself as I watched the emarket erode, where is EPIC? Do they have a stance on this? Do they have a stance on anything?

    I didn’t want to get involved in this but I need to ask this. Why would EPIC be expected to do in epublishing what the RWA doesn’t do in romance publishing?
    At least EPIC acknowledges my experiences as a published author, regardless of how much money I make or who I’m published with.

    And I think the information provided by Dear Author has been very concise and helpful
    As an epublished author, I joined EPIC out of the RWA backlash. I have found the information there much more helpful than the RWA site was for me. The only thing RWA had that EPIC doesn’t is a list of “approved” agents (I could be wrong there. I haven’t looked at everything on EPIC’S site)
    Frankly, I have yet to see ANY organization that represents writers to publishers. The only thing that seems to keep everything legitimate in the world of publishing is the information that authors receive.
    It’s important to have people like Emily Veinglory and her site that keep information about epublishers flowing.
    Information, not rumors.
    Man, I am SO going to regret saying anything. LOL.

  20. Erastes
    Sep 02, 2007 @ 10:52:02

    Excellent post. Truly excellent. I hope you will permit me to link from the Erotic Authors Association to it.

    It’s also confirmed a lot about what I suspected about EPIC too. “encouraging” people to publish ebooks, “encouraging” people to read ebooks, and holding E-awards. What they are not seems to be a lot more than what they are.

    OK.

    Encouraging is excellent. I’m all for that. I hope that I do lots of that. I don’t charge $30 for it, though.

    And Sarah? I had exactly the same problem recently. Asked a colleague about an epublisher, to see if I could find out how sound they were, in a business sense, and I got back exactly the response in your first comment. “I know the owner personally, she’s hard working and I trust her” and made me feel like a bitch for even asking – even in these very uncertain times.

  21. Brenna Lyons
    Sep 02, 2007 @ 10:54:50

    What does EPIC do? A heck of a lot, actually.

    We reach out to readers and authors at conventions, with whatever industry information we can gather and give. We print a ton of trifolds, burn CDs and talk to the people…give panels, etc. We also give interviews. I haven’t seen the October issue of RT Magazine yet, but I understand their article on the industry is very good.

    We organize promo for authors and publishers at the same conventions…any one we can convince someone to be our representative at. IOW, they get small amounts of promo to us, and we amass it into EPIC promo packs and send it, on our dime, to events we have people at. We also help pay for tables at conventions for members willing to rep us there.

    We include YA-safe and children’s EPPIE and Dream Realm (both awards only for e-books, I might note) information on all information provided to teachers. EPIC sends out press releases to local and national news about the EPPIE and New Voices contests and winners, which includes information on e-books and e-publishing. We include information on past EPPIE winners (of all types) on our free informational CDs.

    We reach those teachers, not solely but largely, on the basis of our New Voices contest for middle-school and high-school students. These are the readers and writers of tomorrow, and several winners have said that they’d never heard of e-books until EPIC.

    And, we hold the EPPIE and QUASAR awards, which are notably open not only to indie/e and self/subsidy/vanity-published e-books, but also to NY. The contest has 23 categories for books and a little more than half that many for covers. EPIC is, and strives to be, inclusive and not exclusive.

    We’re working closely with RT to ATTEMPT to bring indie/e as an industry more into the mainstream of reader attention.

    I don’t believe she said that EPIC does more than any other publisher…or if she did, that was a typo. She meant that EPIC does more for indie/e than any other professional organization, I’m sure…basing that on context, and she might be right there, since we ARE focused on indie/e and RWA is not.

    As for what constitutes support, our lists are great for that. People get to vent, ask questions, form new groups… We have chapters for particular areas…and may institute them for genres, as well. If you’re unsure, we encourage you to ask. If you’re upset, we encourage you to get a level head and act accordingly. We support. I can’t explain it better than “we offer what you need, within reason…a shoulder to cry on, knowledge when we have it or resources to get it, etc.

    Networking at its finest… I happen to think so and am not alone. When Mundania authors discussed how they found Mundania and decided to submit to them, just a few days ago, three respondents said they met Dan and Bob at EPICon (which is one of the most affordable conventions on the market and open to both EPIC members and non-EPIC members…subsidized BY EPIC to make it affordable to the largest possible group we can), teaching classes on the industry, and one (myself) said that I decided to sign to Mundania after seeing the information Dan passed on the EPIC lists then doing my usual examination of them.

    EPIC member publishers often put out calls for submissions on their internal lists and EPIC lists ONLY…several weeks before they hit other lists, giving EPIC members a head start. Some EPIC publishers have invited EPIC member authors to skip to the top of the slush pile for a call by noting in the subject line that they are EPIC members. Tell me… Does RWA get you that?

    There’s more, but I am on my way out the door and don’t have time for a long response.

    As for your idea that the industry is eroding, I disagree. NY came in once before, did it wrong and left. They are coming in this time, doing more right and may make it. I’d LIKE to see them make it.

    As for what royalty rates people agree to, I can’t stop them, but I have been assured that some NY authors are making well over the 20% I THOUGHT was cap in NY for e-book royalties, based on the contracts I’ve seen so far. Among them, I have unsubstantiated (IOW, I haven’t seen the contract, but the authors report it) reports that Random House is paying well over that 20%. That’s good news.

    NY is new to this. They are learning, I surely hope. I have offered information on the industry to several NY publishers, and I’d LIKE to get them into the loop with us. I’m glad to report that their authors (at least Kensington ones, so far) are entering EPPIE, which means more may follow. I know that some NY names are current EPIC members, like Sylvia Day, who is both in indie/e and NY.

  22. December Quinn/Stacia Kane
    Sep 02, 2007 @ 10:56:29

    Calls for Submissions are something to watch; does the publisher keep changing its lines? I don’t mean deciding to do a special series or set of anthologies, I mean are they asking for new things every month? Are they suddenly starting an erotic line, an inspirational line, a manga-inspired line, a gothic line, an anything-we-hear-might-possibly-sell line? Are they starting them seemingly on top of each other?

    There’s nothing wrong with a publisher branching out, and I’m certainly not implying that starting a new line is in itself a red flag, because it emphatically is NOT.

    But a publisher suddenly totally overhauling their requirements or asking for three or four new kinds of books at once sends a dangerous message if you know how to read it: that the publisher isn’t sure what’s selling, that their own current releases aren’t selling, and that they’re desperate to try and find anything, any way to catch on with readers.

    I have a particular dislike of twee names for subgenre lines: Hearts for Historicals, Flowers for Inspirational, etc. I think it makes it hard for the casual reader to figure out how to find the books they want. Rather than stay and try, they’ll go somewhere else where they don’t have to play a guessing game. JMO, but it feels unprofessional in general to me.

  23. Teddy Pig
    Sep 02, 2007 @ 10:58:21

    E-publishers are in the process of setting up an organisation for them, to see if they can agree accepted standards etc, but this is definitely an organisation still being worked out.

    I was reading all this and thinking just that. The industry needs to police itself. The best way is for the ePublishers to have their own organization to spell out what is acceptable practices and what is not.

    It’s not an absolute deterrent to what has happened but anything would help at this point to show there are good solid ePublishers working with the authors to be successful.

  24. December Quinn/Stacia Kane
    Sep 02, 2007 @ 10:59:50

    Oh, and pay attention to who you see around the internet, and how publisher representatives behave. I saw someone on a forum ask a question about a publisher and get soundly and rudely slapped down by an exec editor (if I recall correctly).

    The publisher was new, so there wasn’t a lot to know about them yet, but that certainly told me enough.

  25. Alessia Brio
    Sep 02, 2007 @ 11:00:17

    Hmm, Sarah, if the material posted doesn’t answer your questions, I’m at a loss as to how to provide more information. Perhaps it would behoove you to let EPIC know what you want it to do. Let the organization know what you’d like to see in an e-publishing advocate. Become a member, even, and vote. I see from your site that you don’t have a problem touting your EPPIE win. (Congratulations on that, BTW. It’s no small accomplishment. There are NYTimes best-selling authors who have entered and not even reached the finals.)

    As to NY houses getting into e-publishing — Well, I still see their efforts as kind of “Oh well, why not?” Hedging their bets. I’m sure a part of that is my own cynicism, which is admittedly a factor.

    However, I have seen no degradation of either my contract terms or my sales numbers since those bigger publishers dipped their toes in the water. (In fact, I’m selling better than ever — but I don’t believe that’s correlated to the issue at hand. I think it’s simply because I’m damned good at what I do. *grin*) I’ve not looked at the bigger pubs’ contracts because they just don’t interest me. Thus, I can’t speak to their terms.

    peace,

  26. Sarah McCarty
    Sep 02, 2007 @ 11:08:43

    Ahem, Jennifer, You did not see me holding RWA up as a standard for anything, right? *G* I’m as confused as to what RWA is for as I am what Epic is for.

    And just because I feel like being blunt today, I really am not an advocate of epublishers creating a standardize contract. It makes as much sense to me as an author to get thrilled about that as it would be for me as a consumer to be excited about Saturn’s ludicrous, “No haggle policy”. As a consumer, I always had the option of paying an inflated sticker price without question, so what’s the big deal?

    I do think it’s interesting that publishers feel motivated to try to come to a consensus about what to put in a contract, to standardize their side of the business (there is some informal standardizing anyway as whenever one puts something in a contract such as “rights for life” others hop right on board) but I also find it sad that authors aren’t feeling the need to talk about the same issues, to get together to decide what is an acceptable standard and what isn’t. the advantage to an epublisher to having a standardized contract with all other epublishers has many benefits. If I were a publisher, I’d see it as a good move. I’m not a publisher, however. I’m an author and I can see the huge impact of an author trying to negotiate a bad term in a contract facing the unified front of all epublishers to whom they would be submitting that manuscript. (Or at least the majority.)

  27. Sarah McCarty
    Sep 02, 2007 @ 11:20:25

    However, I have seen no degradation of either my contract terms or my sales numbers

    I’m sorry, I was referring to the bigger picture of the industry trends rather than individual experience.

    There are times when they make changes to close loopholes that have been exploited by unscrupulous authors, because as much as I hate to say it (being an author, personally), they exist.

    I’ll qualify. My statement was based on the assumption that the publisher was set up with the benefit of competent legal counsel. Which brings me back to something I mentioned before. Look at the publishers contract. If it doesn’t even protect their rights, that is a huge warning sign. There’s nothing an unscrupulous author can do if the publisher has handled their business competently. That doesn’t work in reverse because the publisher doles out the money, but the publishers contract does at least demonstrate their comprehension of the business and the pitfalls they could face.

    Allessia,

  28. Jennifer McKenzie
    Sep 02, 2007 @ 11:25:42

    Ahem, Jennifer, You did not see me holding RWA up as a standard for anything, right? *G* I'm as confused as to what RWA is for as I am what Epic is for.

    LOL. Too true Sarah.

    The thing is that organizations can only do so much. The RWA is an organization for romance writers. I thought the idea was to open communication between those with experience in publishing and those who are on their way up. Instead, it seems to be something different.

    EPIC does have a page on promotion which was EXTREMELY helpful.

    Authors have to begin to talk to each other without snark and bitterness. I’ve been lucky. I had a couple of authors on Romance Divas who took me under their wing and gave me the benefits of their experience.

    When I got my first contract, I called one of them and she walked me through it. That kind of generosity is key to epublishing succeeding as a viable alternative to the big publishers.

    To me, I agree that we, as authors, have to let our organizations know what we need from them. And we have to keep telling them. Even if they don’t listen at first.

  29. Lynne Connolly
    Sep 02, 2007 @ 11:40:10

    The new organisation is to be called AIDP, and will be independent of EPIC or any other organisation. There’s a private discussion group set up by Liz Burton of Zumaya, so if you’re interested, she’s the one to get in touch with.

  30. Ciar Cullen
    Sep 02, 2007 @ 11:48:58

    This may seem like such a minor thing on the one hand, and Angie mentioned it, but really pay attention to the publisher’s website, the names of their lines, the covers. I know at Triskelion there was a point at which the publisher was creating the covers. It showed. If you don’t want to be associated with a company that has tacky covers, tacky names for “lines”–over-the-top erotic names (my pet peeve), don’t sign. If everything else checks out (contract, author input, etc.), think about how the company presents itself, and whether that’s a good “Fit” for your personality and sensibilities. You want to be proud of your publisher, and not cringe.

  31. Tracey
    Sep 02, 2007 @ 11:58:53

    I’d like to know a number of other things about EPIC that weren’t mentioned.

    1) How much, if anything, is the staff of EPIC paid?
    2) If they are paid, how much of their salary comes from dues and other services, and how much comes from commissions with various e-pubs?
    3) Who are the judges for the awards? How many are there? Do they change from year to year? What are their qualifications?
    4) What criteria are used for determining if an award should be granted? Popularity? Sales? Quality of writing? A combination? None of the above? Having seen many Internet writing awards where everyone who was a nominee–and in one case, every member of a site–was given an award, I think it only fair to ask.
    5) Most of the sites that mention the EPPIE awards seem to be EPIC sites, or sites of members. How are the EPPIE awards regarded by e-publishers? By print publishers? Does anyone pay attention to them, professionally?

    I ask because so much of what EPIC members have said is a bit vague. EPIC encourages writers, reading e-books and e-publishing. It gives out awards. But while various methods of encouragement have been mentioned–articles, panels, e-Fiestas, EPICcon–there has been very little mention of what people are being encouraged to do. For example, one paragraph says that EPIC doesn’t teach people how to write, but it does encourage writers “to self-edit/hone their craft.” I can’t quite figure out how you encourage someone to hone their craft as a writer without teaching them how to improve their writing.

    Perhaps I’m missing something. But a great deal of this isn’t clear to me.

  32. Teddy Pig
    Sep 02, 2007 @ 12:56:00

    You did not see me holding RWA up as a standard for anything, right? *G* I'm as confused as to what RWA is for as I am what Epic is for.

    AMEN! Sarah McCarty AMEN!

  33. Jennifer McKenzie
    Sep 02, 2007 @ 13:19:33

    I ask because so much of what EPIC members have said is a bit vague. EPIC encourages writers, reading e-books and e-publishing. It gives out awards. But while various methods of encouragement have been mentioned-articles, panels, e-Fiestas, EPICcon-there has been very little mention of what people are being encouraged to do. For example, one paragraph says that EPIC doesn't teach people how to write, but it does encourage writers “to self-edit/hone their craft.� I can't quite figure out how you encourage someone to hone their craft as a writer without teaching them how to improve their writing.

    But articles, panels and workshops DO hone my craft. Being able to discuss plot points with a multi published author or having an editor discuss what THEY red line is invaluable when I’m trying to craft my story.
    Perhaps I expect less from writing organizations. I received most of my encouragement, information and concrete help from a writer’s forum, not official organizations that require dues.

    To get back to the original topic, to me it’s important to filter the information I get through more experienced eyes, such as Emily Veinglory or Piers Anthony.

    As far as what writing organizations are supposed to do, I think the members will decide that, either by participating and speaking up or by “voting with their feet” and leaving the organization.

  34. Imogen Howson
    Sep 02, 2007 @ 13:54:35

    A personal red flag for me is when a publisher carries books written by the publisher–particularly when there’s a lot of them. It makes me wonder about their motives and priorities for setting up the company, and it makes me wonder about their submissions and editing process. Do all Ms. Publisher’s books get published, even the ones in desperate need of revising?

    An even bigger red flag is when I find out that the publisher carries books written by the publisher, but secretly, under a pseudonym. And if she actually presents herself as two different people in promo and in writers’ communities. There may, for all I know, be good reasons to do this. But the lack of transparency makes me uneasy.

    I’m interested, however, in other people’s takes on this. It may be my prejudice. :-)

    Finally, if a publisher appears on Absolute Write or other writers’ communities and rants about how everyone is against her and she’s a wonderful publisher then I will never submit to that publisher. Representatives from Triskelion and Mardi Gras did this, and I’ve seen it done by other publishers. If you can’t be professional in public, then what on earth do you behave like behind the closed doors of your company?

  35. Lisa
    Sep 02, 2007 @ 14:19:52

    Although I know RWA has had challenges I know they have fought some big issues. One being when an authors name used to stay witha certain big publisher if the author wrote for another house. They have gone to war on some big issues for writers. I think as of late the epublising thing has gotten them a lot of bad press. There has to be some way to protect authors from the Triskelions with small press without looking down on the publishers who are making good, positive things happen for authors like Samhain and EC. To exclude EC and Samhain from RWA when the money you earn there might well be more than a few of the NYC houses manage to offer for advances, seems unfair. I brought this up at a dinner at RWA. I ended up at dinner with a former RWA President and it was clear that many of the print only authors don’t know a lot of the issues. They need some people involved who know both worlds. But does RWA try to fight for authors. I think yes, but the publishing world is changing and their needs to be some new blood involved who understands all the issues involved.

  36. Jennifer McKenzie
    Sep 02, 2007 @ 14:42:41

    Finally, if a publisher appears on Absolute Write or other writers' communities and rants about how everyone is against her and she's a wonderful publisher then I will never submit to that publisher. Representatives from Triskelion and Mardi Gras did this, and I've seen it done by other publishers. If you can't be professional in public, then what on earth do you behave like behind the closed doors of your company?

    Amen, Immi.


    They need some people involved who know both worlds. But does RWA try to fight for authors. I think yes, but the publishing world is changing and their needs to be some new blood involved who understands all the issues involved.

    I’m afraid it just hasn’t seemed the RWA is very involved in helping an author that is published with an epublisher or a small press. Every move they’ve made SEEMS to be about keeping people out of “the club” rather than protecting writers.

    I’m afraid that until the RWA gets an author in there that respects the work in epublishing, information will not be as available to prospective authors as it could be.

    I’m just grateful that somebody pulled me into a great bunch of people early on and led me to other sites that had valuable information.

  37. Teddy Pig
    Sep 02, 2007 @ 14:44:27

    An even bigger red flag is when I find out that the publisher carries books written by the publisher, but secretly, under a pseudonym.

    “a pseudonym” how about several? Heh!

    There is this one ePublisher, I almost never review but I spend my time trying to figure out all the different names I can group together to one of the owners.

    It’s becoming a hobby of mine. Sorta like where’s Waldo.

  38. Lisa
    Sep 02, 2007 @ 14:52:44

    I definately think that if RWA wants to be all they can be they have to face facts that the industry has changed. If they snub the eworld they are behind the show. All the major publishers are now offering ebooks and trying to gather that part of the market. They are going to have to embrace it to properly serve authors. The ‘club’ thing ultimately hurts authors. Too many of the people involved have not seen the new publishing world. So many wonderful talented authors all came from epublishing now. But like I said, there are also BIG issues that a lot of us newbies didn’t fight that they did fight for us that has paved a better path for us as authors. They don’t see the newer issues but we also need to know they did do some things to protect and help that have had a real impact on the industry. Unfortunately, things like Triskelion only serve to make those old timers more negative about embracing the new world of publishing

  39. Jennifer McKenzie
    Sep 02, 2007 @ 15:00:54

    So many wonderful talented authors all came from epublishing now. But like I said, there are also BIG issues that a lot of us newbies didn't fight that they did fight for us that has paved a better path for us as authors. They don't see the newer issues but we also need to know they did do some things to protect and help that have had a real impact on the industry. Unfortunately, things like Triskelion only serve to make those old timers more negative about embracing the new world of publishing

    Let me say that I have tremendous respect for those who stepped in and began the RWA. They did it to help romance writers who were being excluded (albeit indirectly) by writer’s organizations at the time. They have gotten romance authors the respect today that makes the industry one of the strongest.

    It is a vicious circle, however. If they don’t step up now to become an active part of the epub or small press world, authors will continue to become involved with questionable businesses.

    Personally, I believe that if the RWA posted things like Dear Author just did, there would be fewer authors frequenting these publishers.

    All my opinion.

  40. romblogreader
    Sep 02, 2007 @ 15:04:44

    I’d like to second the suggestion about testing out the site’s shopping cart system. Most publishers have “bites” or whatever they want to call their short stories, usually less than three dollars a piece. I suggest putting yourself in the shoes of a not-so-net-savvy potential buyer and find out exactly how smooth (or confusing) their transaction process is.

    I haven’t bought from all the publishers out there, but of the ones I have purchased from, there are more than a few that I (someone who’s been online about 15 years now) found confusing and hard to navigate, and others that have a real fly-by-night/didn’t even bother to customize their plug-n-play shopping cart feel.

    I’m not asking for bells and whistles and super-slickness, I’m asking for something that doesn’t look like it was put together in Frontpage in four minutes by someone who has no experience in web design.

    I’m not at the submitting stage yet, but when I am, I’m not going to be targeting the ones where I’d have to walk my mother through buying my book (um, if she were going to read my erotic romance ;) or where the purchase (and-or browsing process) feel like they were thrown together without any attention to the customer experience.

    I get that my job will be to provide a story and a manuscript that is of as high a quality as possible, and to be frank, I expect the interface on the site to at least be usable, if not user friendly. And if I’m frustrated by the experience of trying to find and buy an ebook from a publisher, I’m not submitting to them. YMMV, but this is a biggie for me.

  41. Lisa
    Sep 02, 2007 @ 15:05:09

    You know I agree about Dear Author posting things to protect us being wonderful. I wonder why we don’t see that happen other places. Amen to that!

  42. Imogen Howson
    Sep 02, 2007 @ 15:11:44

    “a pseudonym� how about several? Heh!

    There is this one ePublisher, I almost never review but I spend my time trying to figure out all the different names I can group together to one of the owners.

    Several? Really? That would be funny if it weren’t kind of icky.
    And that kind of thing doesn’t help the reputation of epubs.

  43. Ann Bruce
    Sep 02, 2007 @ 15:29:06

    Okay, adding my two cents…

    First of all, I only sub to epublishers I know about (so far, that’s 2) because I don’t go out and actively search for them. I write what I write and if it’s good enough, then the publisher I want to write for will accept it. If it isn’t, I go back and edit or scrap the story altogether and work on something new.

    It seems wrong to keep subbing to every publisher out there until you find one desperate enough to accept your work because you think those publishers who rejected you just don’t see your greatness. Wouldn’t your time be better spent writing?

    Anyway, I saw the listing on Anothony Pier’s website and my jaw dropped open at the sheer number of outfits out there. I haven’t heard of over 90% of them and I’m surfing the web a lot. So, if I haven’t heard of you, I have to think that a lot of other surfers haven’t either.

    I do some very simple things when I evaluate a publisher:

    1 – First impressions count. I look at their website and make sure it doesn’t look like something thrown together by a two-year-old. As someone who used to run a web design business, I’m very picky about this. And, honestly, that’s the publisher’s first impression to authors and readers and you don’t get second chance to make a first impression. If the website blinks at me, contains typos, has poor usability, etc., and makes me think, OMG!, in a bad way, I move on. (Triskelion failed this one big time.)

    2 – If they pass #1, I check out a couple of their offerings to judge their editors. Yes, their editors; not their authors. I won’t be working with the authors, so I don’t care about them. But if I spot an grammatical or spelling error on every page, I start having reservations.

    3 – At this point, I would go to a couple of writer loops and ask for feedback on the publisher. Of course, I take everything I hear with a grain of salt.

  44. Lynne
    Sep 02, 2007 @ 15:41:55

    Brenna Lyons said: And please…no offense to Lynne…but I'd add checking their legitimacy via tax ID and other legal means but not make that the end-all of whether or not a company is legitimate. A company can give all legal and outward signs of being a legitimate enterprise and be completely unethical when dealing with authors.

    I didn’t mean it as the end-all, just a starting point. If they can’t even get the business set up properly so that it can pay people, none of the rest matters. I know several “publishers” in this situation, and yet people still submit work to them. Sometimes authors just don’t know to check on these things, but many people would forge ahead anyway, even knowing that they may never get paid, because that almighty “yes” from someone calling herself a publisher speaks louder than common sense.

    I think your other comment to me — the one about EPIC — must’ve been intended for someone else, since I didn’t comment about that.

  45. Lynne Connolly
    Sep 02, 2007 @ 15:56:43

    I think your other comment to me -’ the one about EPIC -’ must've been intended for someone else, since I didn't comment about that.

    I think that was meant for me. Having two Lynnes in the discussion can be confusing (not to say unusual!)

  46. Barbara Sheridan
    Sep 02, 2007 @ 16:09:19

    not even trying to negotiate any points of the contract but instead totally burning a bridge with us in such a manner

    Now that’s just plain stupid of this author. If you don’t like something ask for it to be modified. If a publisher refuses to negotiate any contract points (and I know of a couple who do that) then you’re better off sucking it up and keeping your yap shut or walking away…quietly.

    Any publisher worth being with will be willing to negotiate just like the big boys in NYC. Maybe they’ll make the change you want and maybe they won’t. It’s up to the author to decide what they can live with or what’s a deal breaker.

    And remember kids: Editor X whom you royally piss off today may just be the head honcho who decides if you get the dream deal you want a couple years down the road.

  47. veinglory
    Sep 02, 2007 @ 17:15:40

    I am a member of EPIC and strongly support them and appreciate their efforts. I find EPIC a great source of information and support. I don’t think any self-aware person very agrees 100% with an organisations policies, not if they really have their own beliefs and opinions–but it is good to be in a group were e-book writers aren’t a minority and aren’t second class members.

    That said I think there is sometimes a lack of appreciation as to how sharply publisher and writer interest are sometimes separate even for those of us with largely profitable and amicable relationships with publishers. There is a need for more author-focussed venues, perhaps even formal groups and guilds. Piers, Preditors and Editors, EREC etc are stop gap efforts to fill a need. So long as epublishers who are willing to can satisfactorally profit as sales levels where authors cannot, there will be problems with exploitation.

    p.s. I have a new initiative, the happyometer to try and gauge author satisfaction with epresses in a slightly more sensitive way: erecsite.com/2007/09/happy-omoter.html

  48. Stephanie Feagan
    Sep 02, 2007 @ 17:46:27

    Really a great blog post, Jane. And Angie, thank you so much for your insights.
    I’m in the process of educating myself about the ins and outs of e-publishing, and this is just terrific!

  49. Desiree Erotique
    Sep 02, 2007 @ 20:43:40

    I don’t think I’ve commented here before, but I’d like to say I’m very glad to see this info posted. If I may suggest something that could be included in the segment regarding clauses: authors, make sure that there is some clause allowing you to terminate the contract for valid cause, e.g., failure of publisher to reveal sales figures; your title removed from the website without proper notice to you; publisher listing your children’s/YA books on same pages as adult material, ect. If such incidents happen, or if the publisher makes him/herself unavailable for contact (MIA) the author should be able to terminate with reasonable notice. So, before signing any contract, please read it carefully and make sure that termination option is there in frank, easily understandable language. To rely on what is perceived as common sense laws to protect us are not always what you may find in the offered contract.

  50. Shiloh Walker
    Sep 02, 2007 @ 22:04:59

    Oh, great list, Angela! We need that in a handbook. The Newbie’s Guide to Getting E-Published

    Hey, maybe they could do a Complete Idiots Guide to that effect. ;o)

    I’m not getting into the whole EPIC deal, but I can honestly say that EPIC was of little to no use to me for the brief period I was a member. I paid my dues for 1-2 years and I basically consider it a waste of money. I just didn’t get any information thru them that I couldn’t have gotten on my own. They are there to promote e-publishing, and that’s great. I know others swear by EPIC.

    Me, I’ll just use that money to buy me some more books. ;o)

    And as a side note… being certified by Playgirl, or just using it as link exchange (whatever!) doesn’t really strike me as a big plus in the professionalism column.

    Ja(y)nes, thanks for the excellent post.

  51. Karen Scott
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 04:51:17

    Since Dear Author is yet again speaking about things they have little knowledge of (in this case EPIC), let me set the record straight.

    Brenna, you just exhausted yourself, trying to explain what EPIC is or isn’t, but in all honesty, it still all sounds very fluffy to me.

    Your comments were defensive, and prickly as hell, but at the end of the day, there seems to be little or no substance to what you guys actually do, so Sarah McCarty may have been right on the money. EPIC does appear to be little more than a cheerleading squad, a veritable happy-clappy girl’s club, if you would.

    EPIC is primarily an author organization and always has been. The number of member-publishers we have that are not also authors is miniscule…

    You say that there is no conflict of interest in terms of looking after both author and publisher interests, due to the low numbers of publishers who aren’t authors themselves, but that logic seems a bit skewed to me. Surely if more non-author publishers wanted to join, you would let them, wouldn’t you?

    It seems to me that the low number of non-author publishers is merely a happy accident, or do you in fact have a maximum number of publishers who you allow to join?

    We're a support group, and many of us view all of indie/e as our brothers/sisters in arms. If a member brings a concern to our lists, even if it's not a personal concern, it goes through the full forum of members and their personal resources.

    How does this differ from a Yahoo list? Albeit a more organised one, but there seems to be no marked difference in terms of how you function, when compared to a list serve. OK, there is one notable difference. Yahoo lists are free.

    Somebody asked earlier what the membership money is spent on, but I have yet to see the answer to this question. Are the staff paid, or do they volunteer their time?

    I’m not suggesting for a moment that EPIC doesn’t do a good job, but the question here is very specific in terms of what it actually does to protect its members. If the answer to that is nothing, but neither does the RWA so why are you picking on us? then this explanation would have probably sufficed:

    “but I will say that EPIC is an information source and a networking and support network”

    In other words, we listen to you, so do the other 660 members, then we empathise, sympathise, and offer you tea and scones, with jam on top to soothe away your troubles.

    However you paint it, it still comes across as very airy fairy, and if I was a member, I suspect I’d be asking that old question: What have you done for me lately?

  52. Brenna Lyons
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 06:36:18

    Sarah, just because there is a standardized contract does NOT mean you can’t negotiate. You may have varying degrees of getting changes made, but that’s the case everywhere.

    Still, having a solid, basic wording that is proven to protect both author and publisher, as much as the law allows, is a good thing. I’ve refused to sign certain contracts, unless wording that was not standard was struck or amended, because I could see the abuse waiting to happen, and I knew what it should say to protect me. Terri Pray recently lined out an entire section as non-enforceable, and the publisher gave it the nod. Even Dan Reitz of Mundania highly supports reasonable negotiation of contracts…and he’s a publisher, encouraging it, if there is something you really want to see in the contract.

    Loopholes are not always caused by poor legal advice. Sometimes, courts interpret a contract differently than the author and/or publisher did, which means contracts change, with the advent of case law.

    Jennifer…too true! You do have to tell your organization what you need from them. That’s why the door at EPIC is always open for new ideas.

    Not all of them are functional for us, of course. For instance, RWA is focused on unpublished authors. EPIC is not and does not wish to be. Many EPIC members I know have no problems guiding people through, giving advice and information, whether the person asking is published or unpublished (also a plus, since one of the complaints about RWA National is the fact that the writing support network terminates once you’re officially published with them…not the chapter support but support at learning the craft new authors get at National). Still, we want the EPIC organization to focus on published authors and publishing…not on writing basics and how to get published. Which makes it rather ironic that two hours of our 4.5 or 4.75 at RT will be dedicated to getting the contract in indie/e, but that’s what RT wanted us to talk about for that two-hour block, so we agreed.

    Tracey… Good questions, and I’m glad to answer them.

    1) How much are the people at EPIC paid? Not a thin dime. We’re volunteers, whether we’re talking about the board, those that run the website or even those that run the contests. The only money the hierarchy of EPIC receives are… reimbursement of expenses in association with EPIC work (by this I mean, postage for EPIC shipping, printing, etc. done in the course of doing EPIC work…not much, actually, and we usually don’t use it all) and a discount or waive of the EPICon fees for board members, con chair, EPPIE coordinator and others who have to make this a working convention. We don’t make money. Every year, we put out what we take in…or nearly so.

    This year, I wrote and the membership passed, a budget in the red. That’s not a bad sign, actually. We spent several years not spending it all, and I asked permission to spend some of the cushion this year. What does EPIC spend the money that comes in on? Besides the conference work and contests, we spend it on subsidizing the conference, so we keep it affordable. EPIC is not a money-making affair.

    2) They aren’t paid, but everything that is reimbursed is directly from EPIC. No one gets money from the publishers. In my time at EPIC, we’ve only had one publisher and one non-author editor on the board…two years each, at treasurer and secretary respectively. The rest are authors, but then again…we only have 8 or 9 non-author editors or publishers in EPIC and a membership of 660+, so that isn’t surprising.

    3) The judges for EPPIE are EPIC members and a few invited outside judges, when we’re running thin. They are all published authors and editors or publishers. There are no reader-judges, because EPPIE is a professionally-judged award. Publishers are NOT permitted to be final round judges, a holdover from problems the RITA has encountered. The EPPIE is judged in two rounds. In first round, two judges are given each book. Care is taken to mix up the judges so, as seldom as possible, the same two judges are given books together, avoiding two judges that tend to judge either high or low on a block of books together. There is variance judging, when the judges grossly disagree, and the variance judge and closer of the first two judges are used for placement, in first round. Second round involves the same two judges for all finalists in a category. They read all books and rank them 1-whatever. IF that ranking agrees fairly closely (enough that…worst case…we have a tie for the winners (ranked A, B and B, A) and everything else ranking lower), we have our winners. If it doesn’t there’s a second variance judging to determine a winner. Everything about EPPIE is set up to maximize the chances of a fair judging. How many judges? I’d have to check with Carol on the numbers for last year, but it strikes me that it was about 175 judges last year and just about 615 or 620 entered books. I could be off on that, but I don’t think I am. As for new judges? There are old judges and new every year. Last year, at this time, we had 550 members of EPIC. We have another 20% now. Chances are, we’re going to see a lot of new faces in judging, which is a good thing.

    New Voices judges are not only EPIC members. We invite outside teachers, librarians, authors and publishers to judge the kids. A full 25% of our judges for New Voices came from outside EPIC last year.

    QUASAR is a voted award. It’s voted on by EPIC members only. Since it’s cover art, judges don’t work as well, we decided. This gives a popular vote. This year, voters get to choose two covers in each category, so we can get a more representative vote on winners.

    Our Friend of e-Publishing award is also a voted award, and nominations come from inside EPIC. Even those who have been considered and made the ballot for voting have thanked EPIC for the thought.

    4) None of our awards are based on sales or nominations (save Friend, which is nominated). They are judged or, in the case of QUASAR, voted awards. People enter them, and that gets them a read or on the voting ballot for art. They are open, as I noted to both EPIC members and non-EPIC members, and every year, a high number of the winners are not EPIC members. There is nothing about this made to favor the members. AAMOF, one of our EPPIE finalists last year was ASK FOR IT by Sylvia Day (who, I believe, was not a member then…and the book is from Kensington).

    Neither does the award favor indie/e. Every year we have finalists or winners that are self/subsidy/vanity-published…or, now that they are entering, in NY.

    5) Grinning… Oh, yes, we get attention. The EPPIE gets attention, and not just in indie/e. Betty Hawana wore her EPPIE finalist 2005 pin and her EPPIE winner 2006 pin to RT this year. She had a NY editor request her manuscript…approach her and request it…based on that. Another…I can’t find her post right now, so it’s probably in another account… Another said she was approached by three separate editors at RT, because she had the EPPIE trophy on her table during the signing and at Club RT. I was approached by Hilary Sares at RT 2006, but I make a habit of having a sign on my table that lays out my awards.

    Ah…yes, you are missing the core values of EPIC. I see why you’re confused. EPIC, by nature, is a support network. The individuals in EPIC will support you, whatever your need. We have questions of proper grammar and submission etiquette coming though all the time. They get answered. People are honing their craft, and the support to learn it is there. However, it’s not EPIC’s goal to be specifically that. EPIC is not dedicated to teaching someone HOW to write, still we realize that even published authors need to keep honing, and they can certainly do it with us. The dichotomy comes in the fact that EPIC doesn’t “organizationally” set up classes to do this, but the individuals in EPIC are doing it anyway, because that’s part of being a support network.

  53. Angela James
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 07:03:17

    It seems to me that the low number of non-author publishers is merely a happy accident, or do you in fact have a maximum number of publishers who you allow to join?

    I don’t think it’s a happy accident, Karen. I think that the actual number of non-author publishers in general in the epublishing business is low. I think someone in one of their comments above actually commented on how most publishers are also authors.

  54. Nora Roberts
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 07:16:32

    I don’t feel RWA’s focus is on unpublished writers, nor that its support or networking opportunities end with publication. Many, many workshops geared to published writers, on craft, on the business, on research, are offered at every national conference. Just as many, many are offered for unpublished.

  55. Brenna Lyons
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 08:17:57

    Imogen… Since many indie/e publishers are also authors, it doesn’t upset me to see some books by the publisher in the mix. If it’s a lot of books by the publisher, yes…that is a warning sign. But, if you have 6 books by the publisher in a mix of 400 books by 90 authors, I think you’re on safer ground.

    As for the pen name thing, I would have to state that it depends HIGHLY on what the person is writing and how it’s used.

    If the publisher writes erotic work under a pseudonym, it is expected that (though the authors will know the publisher is both names…or should know it) the publisher will not make that public knowledge on other forums. Nor should she. It’s not as important for an author in another genre, but an author wishing that opaque wall of protection should not be denied it.

    Now, how is it used? This one is a little more complex. If the publisher is simply maintaining a separation of publisher self and author self on lists, there is no problem for me. See above. I don’t begrudge anyone that attempt.

    I’ve seen publishers play the name game. That is never allowed, never professional. If you are using the pen name to create a conflict of interest for yourself, it’s unethical. The ethical person would say, “I should tell you that I am also X.” Then again, publishers on the up and up don’t lie about their pen names with authors, so there should be no need for this. But, if it’s never come up, outing yourself to the author is the ethical path.

    Lisa…thank you. I love meeting reasonable people within RWA, and there are a lot of you. I have offered to work with ESPAN, but so far, none of the boards have taken EPIC up on the alliance. Strangely enough, I’ve had more luck working with Passionate Ink Chapter within RWA than the one dedicated to indie/e. No idea why that is, but I do enjoy working with people who want to change RWA from the inside. Their chances for success? No idea. Like it or not, there is still a lot of prejudice there. If you want more information on that, talk to Carol MacLeod. She is a font of information on the subject. Still, I know some indie/e authors are hoping to get elected, and I’m all for it, though Carol knew both worlds when she was in the hierarchy, and that didn’t help. Fingers crossed that times have changed enough to let it work this time.

    LOL, Teddy! Yes, I know a publisher much like the one you’re noting. If it weren’t for the other stellar authors she has on board, I’d write off her company completely. This particular author/editor has no less than 4 pen names within the company herself, but she also has more than 100 other authors, so that’s not a bad percentage. She’s one of those that separates every genre she writes by a pen name, so she just keeps adding on pen names.

    Ann… If you only write a couple of types of books…or one, submitting to only two publishers might work for you. If you work in a lot of genres or cross-genres, that might not be sufficient. In addition, you have to find the right fit. A new author MIGHT have chosen his/her two publishers, based on who everyone said was best for erotic romance (for example) and chose EC and one of the three hot runners (Samhain, LooseID or Changeling). However, said newbie might have forgotten to take into account the specific tastes/offerings of those publishers. As such, I wouldn’t scrap a project after two rejections on it. It might be that it was too dark for their lines or not enough sex. If you find the line that fits and know where your work will integrate well, you’re ahead of the game.

    That’s not to say you should send out willy-nilly. You should have done this homework ahead of time. But, sometimes you’re wrong. The line may have moved a different direction, since the books you’ve read. There may be a new editor. They may have tried something that didn’t work well for them and scrapped taking that type. There are reasons that even researched choices fail.

    Lynne…my apologies for the misread of your intent on that post. I agree completely with what you’re saying there about the legalities of setting up a business. And, since I’m replying to several people at once, I most likely switched topics without switching names. It happens. Posting a couple of big posts, answering several people is always more effective than two dozen smaller ones, IMO. And, I might have said Lynne to Lynne C. Grinning… There are two of you here…sigh.

    Barbara… ABSOLUTELY! Remember that indie/e editors are moving to NY. In fact, isn’t Heather Osborn now with TOR? She was with EC a few years back.

    Shiloh… EPIC is only as good as the drive behind it at any given time. Had I not become part of the drive train of the thing, I might have quit after my first year or two, as well. People who belong now are usually happy. You’ll never get 100% happy, and as Jeff Strand told me when I went up for President the first time, “Doing the job right means someone is going to be unhappy with you.” It was a warning not to try and please everyone, and he’s right about that. When you’re trying to please everyone, nothing gets done. Still, I made it through my first EPICon business meeting without anyone screaming at me or telling me how horrible I was doing, so that must mean something went right last term. Grinning… Tongue sort of in cheek. It’s early, and I’m punchy.

    At the same time, I’m the first to admit that when people ask why you join EPIC, I tell them what works for me. If someone doesn’t find value in what’s there, he/she doesn’t, and it’s not the right place for him/her. No organization is going to be right for everyone, even if you try to people please.

    Shiloh…this next part is NOT aimed at you. I want to make that clear. It’s a discussion topic about utilizing what you pay to be a member of. To a large extent, any organization is what you make it. Get involved. Seek opportunities to network or to get support. Someone who doesn’t stay on any of the lists…or only skims them once a month, save the board announcement list, is going to miss the interaction and networking at EPIC. Someone who sits back miserably and NEVER tells anyone what’s wrong or what help she needs, isn’t going to find support. How could they find value that way? Then, the year rolls around and that person asks “Why am I here?” That’s predictable. If you pay your money and expect the benefits to just appear for you, they won’t. You have to make a minimum of effort in participation to gain benefit from any organization you belong to.

  56. Brenna Lyons
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 08:26:16

    Karen…give me time to answer. I did say that I was leaving town yesterday and would not be back online to answer immediately, so the attack for me not offering you immediate answers is a little ridiculous, isn’t it? No one can be online 24/7.

    If that is your opinion of EPIC, it’s not the right place for you. If you think we’re just a cheerleading squad (and I had to snicker at that comparison), then don’t bother with us. Obviously, a lot of other people disagree with you. People come to us for advice. People come to network with us. People get on the lists and ask questions.

    A large portion of our organization is on a mailing list, but that hardly makes us ineffective. In fact, you’ll find a lot of writers’ organizations function that way. BroadUniverse does, and I high recommend them to any woman that writes SF/F/H or cross-genres thereof. ERWA does (Erotic Readers and Writers Association). TELL does. WRW does. Even a lot of ESPAN’s business has to happen online…as well as other special interest chapters of RWA that are based on common interest and not on geographical location. These days, you have authors that want to network worldwide, and lists allow that. Some questions are best answered by someone not in your geographical area.

    But, that is not all we do. We do have a yearly convention, and it’s a working convention. We have agents and editors in taking pitches. We have three class tracks. We have a yearly signing. We have social and networking events. We have EPIC business meetings. All at our convention, which we subsidize to keep it affordable. That’s not an EPIC benefit, BTW. Anyone can attend, though it costs less for EPIC members than non.

    Which brings me to the monetary return EPIC members get for their membership. The membership is $30 per year. If you attend the EPICon alone, you save that $30 in con fees. If you enter the EPPIE, you pay $10 less for an entry, if you are an EPIC member. So, if you enter more than 3 times in the EPPIE or you make at least one EPPIE entry and attend the conference, you have more than recouped your membership fees, right there. Nice deal, when you think about it. Since EPIC’s membership fees are so reasonable, we can do this. The very concept of trying to make back, in a monetary sense, the RWA and chapter fees this way… That’s monumental, isn’t it?

    The EPIC chapters allow authors to effectively hit conventions in their area and organize promotion for the chapter members that is based on geographical area. Some of those groups meet, face to face, depending on how scattered they are. We took a page from the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) on this one. If you live in the far corner of a state, you can work with your state group online and meet with or work with the closer group in another state, as well.

    I don’t personally find panels at conventions and promo at conventions useless. I don’t personally find inclusion in the EPIC CDs for free useless, but that’s benefit I choose to find for myself. As I said, if you don’t feel it benefits you, it’s not for you.

    Is it a happy circumstance that we have so few non-author publishers? Maybe, but even when we see huge jumps in membership, as we did a few months ago, they are weighted heavily toward authors and author/publishers, who would have had the vote under the old rules, anyway. If a publisher wanted to join, of course, we would allow it. We took a calculated risk in giving publishers the right to vote, but unless publishers start joining in droves, it’s unlikely to affect anything. Right now, it certainly doesn’t.

    But, your understanding of EPIC is faulty. We don’t play go-between or take sides between authors and publishers. Members can tell you that we allow author issues and publisher issues on lists. It gives both sides a better understanding of the needs of the other.

    The type of promotion/education we do on e-books and e-publishing is useful to both authors and publishers. We have trifolds and CDs that address authors, which benefit publishers, and trifolds and CDs that address readers, which benefit both publishers and authors of e-books. We have a publisher coalition, but what do they spend their money on? A presence at BEA next year, which will benefit both authors and publishers. In discussion of what they wanted to do, they specifically stated they wanted to do this and encouraged as much author participation as possible in it.

    If this ever changes, I imagine the uproar will be deafening. I hope it is.

    I did already answer where the money goes. To be more specific, and checking this year’s budget to make sure I don’t miss anything major…

    Press releases for EPPIE, New Voices and QUASAR finalists and winners (promotional expenses)…and to announce it opening, to make announcements about the convention, etc. (which are running expenses) and to post industry articles (education goal).

    Ads for EPIC AND the benefits of e-publishing.

    Making the various items EPIC gives away, all of which address a specific e-publishing concern…the library in your pocket, e-books in the classroom, green publishing (because indie/e certainly isn’t stripping and trashing books by the tons every year), etc.

    Convention presence at other conventions. If we have people going there and representing e-publishing for us, we help them run with money for their table there and information packets/CDs/trifolds.

    Our commitments to RT2008…running panels, helping with the expo and all of the promo we’re organizing for our own members there.

    Board expenses, which are capped at $75 per officer, save the treasurer (since she has a lot more mailing and phoning to do than the rest of us). $75 will purchase me some stamps and envelopes, a ream of paper and two ink cartridges for my printer (and like most authors, I easily use more than a dozen print cartridges per year for my own work…I probably use more than the single cartridge I ask them to hand back to me every year on EPIC work, but I ask for one). We also (as I noted) comp, in full or part, the convention for the major working members there (those that have to run the convention and her associated parts). I might also note that I have never seen the officers take their full allotment, let alone overspend it.

    The BEA presence the publisher’s coalition is shooting for. Look at it this way. We’re going to have a table with every EPIC publisher and author welcome to promo, which saves us all the cost of having to get separate tables there. It’s an industry table and not an individual, which is within our scope.

    We subsidize EPICon, and we under-write nearly the entire New Voices contest. We do take some donations of prizes for it, but EPIC picks up the bill to encourage young writers and promote literacy.

    We pay for our web page and our secured server for EPIC/EPPIE.

    And, we have a few physical assets. At the moment, those physical assets are limited to: the EPPIE seal press for the EPPIE certificates, a handful of office supplies that move from EPICon to EPICon (a long-arm stapler, an electric three-hole punch, and a stapler…plus some pens and paper and such) and a CD burner to make our CDs. This year, we plan to add two printers to the mix. We need printers that will travel from EPICon to EPICon.

    As you can see, EPIC is putting it back out in ways that aren’t benefiting a small number of members. No one is getting rich off the running of EPIC, as some organizations do.

    What does EPIC do to protect its members? Aside from trying to send people out forewarned and giving advice when something does go wrong, there’s not much any organization can do. We do send people to the Lawyers for the Arts and such, when the occasion calls. We do send them to the existing lists (Piers and P&E) for reporting problems. We do encourage authors…and publishers, for that matter…to network and go in with as much information as humanly possible. I’m not really sure what more you think we should be doing. And, don’t say provide lawyers for them, because we’d have to have a lot more money to do that.

    Even with as much money as RWA has, they aren’t providing lawyers to the indie/es. Their lawyers, in fact, gave almost no information to the Triskelion authors, when asked, and some of it would have placed the authors in a position to be sued, under the current bankruptcy laws. Interesting moment, when the authors realized that one.

    As for your description of the hand holding and a cup of tea, sometimes that’s all there is to do. When someone comes in and vents, you let that person vent. IF there is information to be given, something that can be done or should be done, someone says it, even if the author doesn’t want to hear it. Sometimes the truth isn’t pretty, I admit.

  57. Barbara B.
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 08:39:09

    Brenna… epic indeed.

  58. Brenna Lyons
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 08:46:11

    Angela is right about the low number of non-author publishers in indie/e, as a whole. I’ve said the same thing, of course, but looking at the publishers in EPIC, almost all of them are authors. Of those I’ve dealt with personally (as my publishers…and I’ve had ten of those), I believe only two were not also authors. Even Dan Reitz, though he never claimed author status, is technically a published author, in his own right. He has nothing currently in print, but he would have qualified as an author member from day one, based on his previous publication credits.

    Nora (you’re not THE Nora Roberts, are you?)… The complaint about RWA, in very specific terms, is that when they move to PAN, the authors lose the support network they enjoyed before being published and that PAN does not give them the same support network they had before. Once you move to PAN, you are no longer welcome to participate at the lower level. This is what I’m being told…not by one person, but by several. Now, as I said, this applies to NATIONAL, not to the chapters. And, I’m not talking about the National convention here. I’m talking day to day, within the organization. If it wasn’t a problem, I wouldn’t have three or four people mentioning that they wished they could throw their pins away and go back, because PAN isn’t meeting their needs. It just doesn’t make sense to me to exclude a published author from the support network, just because he/she is published. Even published authors want or need that network, in many cases.

    As for their focus… That one is muddied a bit, IMO. Look at how many of their members are unpublished. That is a large demand on the group, as a whole. RWA has a split focus on teaching people to be authors and also on being there for those that are published. EPIC chooses to focus on being there for those that are published and offering information and encouragement to those that aren’t, but NOT as members of EPIC, not as a drain on what our main focus is. We’re not splitting our resources and wearing ourselves thin, as an organization, to teach people how to write. Not that I’m saying RWA is running itself thin. They’re set up to do what they do, but things do fall through the cracks.

  59. Jane
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 09:18:15

    EPIC sounds like nothing more than an award presenting group hug organization. When authors are falling prey, left and right, to unscrupulous epublishers at worst or incompetent ones at best, you have to wonder why an organization that is “for profit” isn’t doing more to prevent this from happening.

    Of course, you can say that I am talking about something about which I know nothing, but having read your epic long posts, Ms. Lyons, I can tell you that my opinion of it as an organization still has not changed. An organization that represents both publishers and authors equally has inherent conflicts and prevents it from being an advocate for one part or another. And if not an advocacy group, but rather a support group, one wonders what the point of it is. If it is indeed to send out individuals “forewarned” then why are so many e authors struggling to regain their rights from bankruptcy court or going unpaid or worse, believing that non payment is acceptable?

    Having read my share of epublished books and looking at the conduct of the epublished authors these past few days, I can’t help but think that there are a great number that could a) learn how to write and b) learn how to conduct themselves in public as a business entity.

    I think its great that there are awards programs out there but the giving of awards does little to help the e author. I don’t think that my original opinion is unchanged and that is e authors need an organization that will look out for their best interest, that will advocate them, and teach them the skills that they need to make themselves better authors, both in the writing aspects and the business aspects.

    These issues should not be left to bloggers whose interest in epublishing is from the end result aka the story. I would much prefer to feature and spotlight e presses and the books that they are putting out rather than discuss what a debacle e publishing has been in the last few weeks.

    And as for speaking about which I have knowledge, let’s just say that I am far more confident in my own understanding of bankrupcty law vis a vis intellectual property rights than I am in your understanding, Ms. Lyons. Very few IP lawyers would ever compare their client’s work to a rental car.

  60. Brenna Lyons
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 10:15:34

    Jane, it is apparent that you have your own bias and will continue to attack everything that is in conflict with it. To that end, I will answer what you pose here, and if you still don’t like what you hear, it’s not my problem.

    NO organization is right for everyone. EPIC has its goals and aims and meets them, to the best of our ability. If authors want a different sort of organization, they can create one, but attacking an organization for not being what you want it to be is ludicrous. It’s like attacking a book in “review” for being what it is and not what you want it to be. Tough. It is what it is. And, I placed that word in quotes, because I personally do not believe any legitimate review attacks a story for being a novella or being “not hot enough” or what have you, when the book is precisely what it claims to be on the publisher site/the author web site.

    Why are the authors fighting to get their rights back? I’ve already said this. Because the current bankruptcy laws are flawed and need changed. NOTHING that these authors did or could have done, going in, would have prevented what happened, because the current bankruptcy laws are allowed to override copyright laws and contract laws. They are given free reign in ways that only changes in those laws is going to correct. NOTHING EPIC does, RWA does or anyone else does is going to stop that.

    Why are there unethical and otherwise illegal publishers out there? Because not everyone in this world is lawful and ethical, and no one can stop that. The best you can do is try to avoid them and make them pay legally when they show themselves to be so.

    Why are authors continuing to sign with publishers that are so? Because even when the information is there for them to use, I can’t force feed it or beat it into heads. I can’t force someone not to sign something I KNOW inherently puts him/her at risk. All I can do, when they ask, is advise against it. Not everyone listens. Not everyone asks, but I’ll get to that in a moment.

    Angela knows what they should be doing. A lot of other people know. We aren’t hording this information. No one worth their salt is making a secret of what these authors should be doing, but too many authors come into this business with stars in their eyes and unrealistic expectations.

    They think it’s write a good book (and whether they even acknowledge edits as NECESSARY is up in the air), find a publisher and let the checks roll in. They don’t process the legal aspects, the business aspects, the marketing expectations… In short, they come in green and make no effort to learn the ins and outs before signing. Not all new authors, thank goodness, but some. Some come in with a professional bearing and some don’t.

    In any other profession, you are expected to have 2.5 knowledge. Not authors. Some indie/e publishers are forcing the bar higher, simply by requiring things like marketing plans and synopses/outlines to see if the author has sufficient knowledge to pull off being a professional.

    And, even when you do everything right, you can’t be assured that the publisher you sign with is what they appear…and will continue to be so. Most indie/es are sole proprietorships or partnerships, even if they file the forms for corporations or LLC. There is a balance beam in effect there. Personal problems, illness, falling-outs between owners…gods forbid death…all have profound effects on them.

    Not that it’s incredibly different in NY. How many authors have signed with an editor in good faith, then had that editor leave the company, leaving the author to either deal with an editor with an entirely different outlook on the project or one that cancels the contract entirely? How many times have the big corporations closed a line and canceled the contracts…or sold that line to someone else, who cancels the contracts? It happens, even in NY.

    There is no safety net. That’s why I say that choosing a publisher is like risk management of investments. You can put a certain amount in high risk, but you want to put the rest in low and medium risk. You don’t put all of your contracts in a single publisher, when you can avoid it.

    There are some unprofessional publishers out there, but there are plenty that are professional. There are some that have business and publishing background, beyond being an author. Not that some authors don’t make great publishers later, but it’s always better when you have a publisher that has worked on the edit side, the marketing side, the royalties side, as well as being an author. There are some that either have marketing degrees and/or a marketing team built in.

    In any business, you are going to have fly-by-nights, those that come in with those self-same stars in their eyes that I accuse authors of. In any small business, there is a HUGE attrition over the first year, the first five years, the first ten years. Once you’ve stood the test of time, your risk drops. I usually state that the risk factor of an indie/e publisher drops at five years. If you’ve made it that long and don’t have a record of abuses as long as your arm, you’re doing something right. There are more than 70,000 small presses in the US alone today. Some come every day. Some leave every day. That’s the nature of all small business.

    What is the point of a support group? Actually, for some people, it makes a huge difference. For others, no point at all. You seem to be the latter. For you, EPIC would probably not work, but I’ve already said it’s not for everyone. Some people need a group in the same boat to vent to, to get information from, etc.

    And since we encourage cross-talk between the publishers and authors, we do manage to change perceptions and sometimes policy of publishers. There have been times, in conversation on the lists, when publishers come out with, “I want to hear from authors. Are you folks really interested in X, because if you are, I’d like to discuss it.” Believe it or not, though it’s a business association, publishers would rather have happy, productive authors on board…ones that work WITH them to make the books a success, rather than being at odds with them.

    You can make assumptions that EPIC doesn’t already address the concerns for authors you raised, and you’re welcome to those assumptions. They don’t match the truth, but it’s your right to make up your mind for yourself. It’s not just me saying that EPIC does these things; it’s author members. If you want to discount that, your prerogative to do so.

    Personally, I would LOVE to see some positive information from you on the state of the industry. I invite it. If you’d like to talk to publishers, I’d be glad to share those I find most useful on the subject of information.

    As for my comparison, there is a good reason to compare and contrast the leased right to distribute and reproduce books to the lease of a car. Just because the current bankruptcy laws are blind to that comparison does not make the laws just…it just makes them the laws. In case you missed it, I did state (more than once) that the laws are flawed and in need of change. Personally, I do not find any difference in what I own, whether it be physical property or intellectual. The fact that the law has to state that IP is owned says a lot about the general population, though.

  61. Karen Scott
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 11:27:50

    Brenna, can I ask, does EPIC have an annual survey, where it asks for feedback from its members? Questions like A, how well do they believe EPIC is run, and B, do they feel they have personally gained anything from their membership? If so, are the results publicised to the members? Any EPIC members out there feel free to send me the results, if so

    The reason I ask is because so far from all your comments, it seems that most of EPIC’s endeavours seem to revolve round The Eppie awards, which is all nice and good, but doesn’t seem to be a solid enough foundation from which to build on.

    I think I’m still firmly in Jane’s camp on this one, I still see no significant examples of how EPIC aids its members, other than the awards and the cheerleading aspect of the organisation.

    Tell me about basic English grammar classes, and workshops on treating their career with the respect it deserves, and maybe you’ll be able to convince me. Because as stupid as it seems, right now a lot of e-pubbed authors seem to be in dire need of both lessons.

  62. Daniel Reitz
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 11:43:09

    Jane said: EPIC sounds like nothing more than an award presenting group hug organization. When authors are falling prey, left and right, to unscrupulous epublishers at worst or incompetent ones at best, you have to wonder why an organization that is “for profit� isn't doing more to prevent this from happening.

    Obviously you are a professional. As a professional, would it hurt you to bother to do just a little research prior to posting something like this? You see, when you come out and make false statements, all it does is prove you the fool.

    You stated EPIC was a “for profit” organization. You are wrong, it is NOT. It is a NON-PROFIT organization.

    Jane said: An organization that represents both publishers and authors equally has inherent conflicts and prevents it from being an advocate for one part or another. And if not an advocacy group, but rather a support group, one wonders what the point of it is.

    Again you are wrong. EPIC doesn’t REPRESENT anyone. EPIC is a club of epublished authors whose main goal is to further the ebook industry, network, and support each other. It was never designed to be a protection group going after publishers or other wrongdoers.

    Hey, why doesn’t Dear Author go after defunct publishers? Oh, that’s right, it’s not Dear Author’s job. Well, it’s not EPIC’s job either. To ding EPIC’s reputation for not doing so is blatantly unfair.

    Jane said: And if not an advocacy group, but rather a support group, one wonders what the point of it is.

    Isn’t Dear Author similar to a support group? Don’t you offer support to your readers? If so, then what is the whole point of your post? You are eliminating your creditability to support by trying to eliminate other support groups.

    No one is twisting your arm or any other arm to join EPIC. All I can say is that the organization currently has 683 members who disagree with you. Kind of puts your opinion, which you are entitled to, into perspective doesn’t it?

    Why Dear Author has turned from important discussions to a witch hunt of a good organization is baffling. How about if you all get back to the real problems and quite attempting to spread falsehoods?

  63. Lynne Connolly
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 11:44:34

    Does the RWA hold an annual questionnnaire? Or the SWFA? I know the other organisation I belong to, the UK RNA, does not.
    The EPIC loops are extremely active, and members are encouraged to discuss what they need from the organisation, which puts it into place if that is the consensus.
    The EPPIEs are a great award to win and actually do make a difference, if not to direct book sales (and this seems to vary with genre) with the way you are looked at and treated in the publishing world at large. I’ve won two, and I can say there is a before and after difference and definite, if intangible, benefits for the author.
    EPIC is evolving in its purpose and its aims along with the needs of its members and along with the e-publishing industry. This sector is no longer in its early growth stages but has entered the early part of the mature market stage, when market sectors are more firmly delineated and bigger companies take a more active interest. The recent slew of closedowns is typical of new market growth, if you care to look at the basic business models for them.
    So while it would be fine and dandy to say what it stands for, while the e-publishing market is in a state of flux, today’s aims are tomorrows fuggedaboudits. The RWA has had problems catching up with the markets, not only the e-publishing market but the erotic romance market, and has to keep defining and redefining its terms, with some – interesting results.
    As for approved publishers, we saw what a mess the RWA got into, and now they’ve dropped that idea, producing a different kind of list and making PAN membership not dependant on who you write for any more. I believe the new organisation for e-publishers is planning to provide standards for its members, which should help.

  64. Teddy Pig
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 12:08:00

    Jane,

    As someone who has been a member and contributed my time to several community organizations, I find your concerns are correct. Organizations tend to need a direction and spending time with award shows and attending conferences is cool if that is what your organization is supposed to be focused on. I have no problem with industry recognition or cheer leading if that is clearly all you are there for. It takes time, money and energy to do those things.

    What I find curious even in my own industry of Internet Security and Financial Web Development is why an online entity needs to spend so much time in the process of going to conferences or having award shows?

    Seems to me the best potential for a group focused on ePublishers or eBooks or eAuthors would be first and foremost having a top notch online presence in the form of a useful, well written, highly informational, website not splitting resources providing support and recognition to people offline.

    Put your money where your members are.

    Sure Piers Anthony and Preditors & Editors are great pieces of a puzzle, but if you say you are all about ePublishing and supporting eAuthors would you not want to be the “go to site” for such information?

    I thought it was interesting Jane that you were referring to their scope of support. Would providing such potentially negative information and taking a solid stance for say the protection of eAuthors cause conflict for the members representing ePublishers?

    All I have ever seen mentioned in all the sites I have visited was that contract they have available and that’s about it as far as anyone mentioning EPIC as a useful online resource.

  65. Jane
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 12:08:29

    Okay, I now think I’ve got a handle on what EPIC is. Apparently it is a club that you pay to be a member of. It is not an advocacy group. It is not a watchdog. It does not assist authors in becoming better writers or better business professionals. It is a social society that hands out awards. As a reader, I can say that I have never once bought a book based on the fact that it won an EPPIE.

    And Mr. Reitz, if you had read any of the blog, you would know that we are not professionals here. We are readers who blog. We take money from no person. This is a forum in which readers and authors can question and examine the efficacy of programs, organizations and so forth. By questioning an existing organization and its purpose, we by no means diminish the credibility of any existing organization. Your argument that being critical or questioning is a) illogical but b) symptomatic of the disease that apparently infests epublishing. Don’t rock the boat lest you be blackballed within the industry.

    For those authors whose rights are tied up in b-ruptcy court. It is not the end of the world. If the contract is sold in b-ruptcy court to another vendor, it is not likely that the money from the sale of the rights to distribution would have ever been realized by the author had it been made outside of the b-ruptcy court. I.e., when Cheyenne McCray’s EC backlist was sold to SMP or Lora Leigh’s ebooks were sold to Berkley, that money which changed hands between the epublisher and the NY publisher excluded the author (unless there was some contractual provision that said otherwise). And the b-ruptcy trustee can’t sell rights that the estate does not own. So if the author didn’t sign over her left ovary in the original contract, the sale of the rights to another company doesn’t change the end result for the author. The worst part of being in b-ruptcy is that the book is unsold for a period of time.

  66. Daniel Reitz
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 12:09:38

    Karen Scott said: does EPIC have an annual survey, where it asks for feedback from its members?

    Yes, this has been done a few times in the past. Results have been favorable and are posted in our lists for all members to read. In addition, any member is free to offer suggestions at any time. The author membership elects their fellow authors to the board every year. Board limits are two years in any office.

    Karen Scott said: The reason I ask is because so far from all your comments, it seems that most of EPIC's endeavours seem to revolve round The Eppie awards, which is all nice and good, but doesn't seem to be a solid enough foundation from which to build on.

    As someone outside the organization that hasn’t done research, I guess you don’t know what it’s about. It’s not all about EPPIE awards. Since you aren’t on the lists that get dozens and sometimes hundreds of posts every day, you don’t see what the organization is all about. And there is no way someone can post a few paragraphs here to change your mind. You might stop over and view the 683 member roster. Pick out a few and contact them for their opinions. No one twists anyones arm to join. EPIC has never gone out recruiting. People have searched us out and joined on their own. Do 100% of the people get something from EPIC. I’d say pretty close. Does everyone get enough to renew? Of course not, because you will never please everyone. It’s an organization where you get out what you put in. It’s an author organization, run by authors, for authors who all have an interest in epublishing. Nothing more, nothing less. The EPPIES are a side item, just like the annual conference, EPICon.

    Karen Scott said: I think I'm still firmly in Jane's camp on this one, I still see no significant examples of how EPIC aids its members, other than the awards and the cheerleading aspect of the organisation.

    That’s fine. As I said to Jane, the organization currently has 683 members who disagree with you.

    Karen Scott said: Tell me about basic English grammar classes, and workshops on treating their career with the respect it deserves, and maybe you'll be able to convince me.

    What do you want to know? If you were a member and read the lists, you’d see all this and more. I’m not about to post ten years worth of material from EPIC on to this lists. There are discussions on grammar, questions on specific research, there are “subject matter experts” that can help authors with their research, they provide sample contracts — which are used in law books now — and contract warning flags for authors. There are several real-live knowledgable lawyers on the lists who offer valid advice. And on and on and on.

    As I said in my last post, this is not about EPIC. No one is trying to recruit members here. Those who are opposed to EPIC, at least what I have seen posted here, obviously have not even bothered to do any research and choose to make blanket false and misleading statements. Do your homework people. Otherwise there are a lot of people reading your posts that know you are wrong.

  67. Nora Roberts
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 12:24:06

    I don’t know about EPIC, and obviously as I don’t e-publish, the organization isn’t of interest to me.

    But I don’t get the little slaps at RWA. Published authors who wish they could toss their PAN pins away? Well, who’s stopping them? What support network are they losing by being published and a member of RWA? Not satisfied with RWA, feel it’s not meeting your current needs, fine. Absolutely fine, and certainly for some absolutely true.

    I have no idea what support network or ‘lower’ level you mean that’s no longer available to members once published.

    Yes, RWA is for both pubbed and unpubbed–no argument–and always has been. Some pubbed will not feel the organization focuses enough on their needs; some unpubbed will not feel it focuses enough of theirs. Some will feel the organization isn’t for them, or not find it valuable. All that’s fine, too. But to state it focuses on unpubbed is simply untrue. I have the current issue of RWR right here and could reel off a number of articles, columns and features that are geared to either group, or to both. To say the support is lifted once published is also untrue. I’ve been published a very long time, and the support’s always been there if and when I want or need it.

    You don’t have to hype the benefits of one organization by poking at another.

  68. Daniel Reitz
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 12:27:30

    Jane said: Apparently it is a club that you pay to be a member of. It is not an advocacy group.

    Bingo.

    Jane said: It does not assist authors in becoming better writers or better business professionals.

    Wrong.

    Jane said: It is a social society that hands out awards.

    Again wrong.

    Jane said: As a reader, I can say that I have never once bought a book based on the fact that it won an EPPIE.

    Good for you. I’ve never gone to a movie based on it winning an Academy Award either. What you base your book buying habits on is entirely your choice. Just like lots of other people looking over the award winners may decide to read the books. It’s all a matter of choice.

    Jane said: And Mr. Reitz, if you had read any of the blog, you would know that we are not professionals here.

    Not professionals in this industry? Then how can anyone take what you post as valid? I guess I was mistaken in thinking that Dear Author was something of value.

    Jane said: By questioning an existing organization and its purpose, we by no means diminish the credibility of any existing organization.

    It certainly isn’t the questioning of an existing organization that is a problem. It is making blatantly false statements about that organization that people have problems with. Ask your questions, and listen to the answers. Don’t make false assumptions and don’t post false statements. It does no one any good.

    Jane said: Your argument that being critical or questioning is a) illogical but b) symptomatic of the disease that apparently infests epublishing. Don't rock the boat lest you be blackballed within the industry.

    Without dismissing your statement completely, I wasn’t saying you or anyone else was critical. I was saying that what you were posting is simply wrong. You did not check out the organization, and you search for sound bytes of what is posted here to reach your faulty conclusions. It is not illogical to question, but it is illogical to make assumptions when you have no facts.

    Crying “blackballing” is a favorite thing with some authors, but I challenge anyone to show me a case where someone was blacklisted. That’s something that happened back in the old days when there were only big publishers, and they were all incestuous anyway. There are some 80,000 small publishers now and there is no way anyone will ever be blacklisted. That term went out with the stone age.

    The problem I have hear is that your important list, while still needing more items, is the important point of this whole thread. To deviate from it to make statements against EPIC, which are not true, simply serves no purpose. EPIC never recruits. Informed people seek it out and join because they see the advantage of the organization. If you don’t, then that’s fine. Don’t join. But don’t expect that you can attack an organization of 683 members with false statements and have no one put up a defense. They have every right to call your statements (not questions, but statements) into question when they have the facts and you don’t.

  69. Alessia Brio
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 12:33:21

    What’s clear to me is that those determined to find fault will find fault. Those determined to remain firmly entrenched in a particular point of view will do so. It would appear that some people have a knack for putting others on the defensive, for finding that nerve and plucking it like a bow string.

    I’m not sure quite how this thread turned into a bash/defend EPIC saga, but I’ve seen (here and elsewhere) a good bit of that plucking by people who seem to believe (from the outside looking in) that the organization should be something it’s never professed to be or who are basing opinions on first-hand information that’s several years old (which, in this particular business, might as well be decades old).

    As with RWA or any other such entity, the “best” way to shape an organization into one’s vision of what it should be is to do so from within — as a proactive member. Anyone can stand outside and point fingers. That’s easy (and inflammatory). It takes integrity to affect change constructively.

    peace,

  70. Karen Scott
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 12:40:22

    There are several real-live knowledgable lawyers on the lists who offer valid advice. And on and on and on.

    I’ve experienced this on Yahoo lists too.

    That’s fine. As I said to Jane, the organization currently has 683 members who disagree with you.

    Now I know that’s not entirely true. The organisation may have 683 members, but not all of them disagree with me.

    This may feel like a witch hunt, and I’m sorry it came across that way, but I assure you it’s really not. I’m neither for, nor against EPIC, I’m simply not sure what the point of the organisation is, if not to look after its members’ welfare.

  71. Lisa
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 13:00:10

    RWA’s conventions, and even RT, offer an excellent place to learn, grow, meet editors and agents, and even other writers who offer support. With Epic if you get a sense of success that keeps you writing then that is powerful. However, if its stops you from looking towards print, it can be limiting in my humble opinion. I come from a corporate background and all organizations have challenges. There is no perfect organization just as there is not perfect person, no perfect book, no perfect anything. We just have to look at it and embrace the good things and make them work for us.

    As a writer, I can honestly say being involved with people inside RWA and RT who know more than me has been a giant help. To grow I HAD to look outside the eworld for those answers. You have to surround yourself by people who are where you want to be to learn how to get there. RWA offers you that opportunity. Does that mean you have to do it their way? No. But you have to respect the immense knowledge and skill that got them where they are. Do I want RWA to embrace epublishing. Yes and no. I want them to figure out how to embrace it as the amazing stepping stone it can be and help protect those who get sucked into the bad companies. I also hate to see authors get so sucked into epublishing that they never take the time to write an agent proposal and find a career. If RWA could help authors learn how to use the epublishing avenue as a stepping stone and a valuable learning tool the that would be wonderful. I know that epublishing made me better. I learned to write fast under pressure and I wrote so much that I was forced to lean my craft too. Practice is critical to growth. I met wonderful, talented people and learned so very much. It was and is a wonderful experience. But was it a replacement for an NYC career? No. Not for me. If you want an NYC career you need the contacts and depth that you get beyond Epic. People who know how to get where you want to get. That is why I hope RWA will figure out how to incorporate both worlds. So those who find one can also find the other.

  72. Teddy Pig
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 13:15:02

    and find a career

    ERP!

  73. Lynne Connolly
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 13:17:11

    Epublishing is not a stepping stone to print.
    It provides authors with a regular income, and many authors are making a living income from epublishing alone. If you check the sites that do have information, you’ll see that many of the big epublishers’ average sell-through levels are significantly higher than advances at many print houses.
    These days many successful authors prefer to combine epublishing with print, with epublishing providing regular checks and print publishing the more occasional, but larger, advance.
    Increasing an author’s choice like this also increases her power. I’m looking for the right New York contract, and I’ve had the security to be able to turn down offered contracts from New York publishers in the past, as they haven’t been right for me. With the print market in long-term decline, and the epublishing market still increasing, no one I know has done a cannibalisation study so it seems that taking both paths is the best way. If you can hack it, that is. The writing is different in style and in length, the emphasis is different and the distribution and marketing almost completely different.
    If you’re looking at epublishing as a stepping stone, then epublishing is probably not for you.

  74. Lynne Connolly
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 13:18:39

    on second thoughts – what Teddy said.

  75. Shiloh Walker
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 13:18:40

    I don’t really think this is what be construed as a witch hunt. Some people that keep seeing epubs go belly up and authors screwed sideways want to know if there is an organization watching out for the epubbed authors. Nothing wrong with wanting to know that.

    EPIC was mentioned and some people thought that EPIC did watch out for the shady epubs. It seems there’s big misunderstanding on just what EPIC does. One would think that EPIC is to epublishing what RWA is to the romance industry. Obviously, it isn’t, but it’s easy to understand why people would think just that.

    Personally, if I was still a member, I’d be suggesting that EPIC does need to become a little more active on this front. Every time one of these epubs pull some stunt over on their authors, it makes epublishing in general look bad. Since EPIC is supposed to be there to promote epubs, you would think that they wouldn’t be too happy about some fly by nights giving their industry a bad name.

    Brenna said

    Shiloh…this next part is NOT aimed at you. I want to make that clear. It's a discussion topic about utilizing what you pay to be a member of. To a large extent, any organization is what you make it. Get involved. Seek opportunities to network or to get support.

    I don’t feel it was aimed at me, don’t worry. Did I give much to EPIC? Nope. Why? Because I realized fairly early on that it was more a ‘support’ type of group. I’m not the kind of writer that really needs to join an organization for that. I have friends I’ll talk to when I’m needing support. What I want out of an organization~resources, references, and solid, concrete information when there is a problem. Knowing that I have an organization behind me to support me (in something other than just commiserating) would be wonderful. If EPIC was more along those lines, I might have kept my membership up. As EPIC is now, it offers nothing for me.

    However…. epublishinging DOES need a voice. Plain and simple. Since EPIC has been around so long, I’m rather surprised that they don’t want to be that voice.

    My two cents on one thing…the Dear Author blog is one of the biggest promoters of ebooks I’ve seen. Smacking at them for not understanding your organization doesn’t strike me as particularly professional-or courteous. It’s definitely not going to leave the typical outsider with the warm, fuzzy feelings that just might lead them to EPIC’s door.

  76. Lisa
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 13:31:18

    If you’re looking at epublishing as a stepping stone, then epublishing is probably not for you.

    I completely disagree with that. Epublishing is what you make it as an author. A stepping stone or a satisfying way of getting your work out. It’s a personal choice. But long term is your career potential the same as a well thought out NYC career? No. I’ve had a good experience with epublishing so I am not at all negative about it. It was a stepping stone for me and it has been for lots of authors. I believe my epublishing was a critical step in achieving my goals and I am 100% thankful for every opportunity I recieved.

  77. Daniel Reitz
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 13:32:56

    However…. epublishing DOES need a voice. Plain and simple. Since EPIC has been around so long, I'm rather surprised that they don't want to be that voice.

    That’s true, however, being a voice for epublishing and taking on the task of suing publishers are two different things entirely. There is a LOT of liabilities that EPIC as an organization is not prepared to take on. AIDP on the other hand is organizing to help with that.

    Smacking at them for not understanding your organization doesn't strike me as particularly professional-or courteous. It's definitely not going to leave the typical outsider with the warm, fuzzy feelings that just might lead them to EPIC's door.

    True, however, much of what has been said here against EPIC won’t leave warm and fuzzies either. I’d recommend anyone interested to check out the organization themselves.

  78. Alessia Brio
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 13:38:52

    If you’re looking at epublishing as a stepping stone, then epublishing is probably not for you.

    As solid an advocate for epublishing as I am, I disagree with this statement. The role of epublishing in an author’s career will vary from author to author. For me, print is a means to an end, not the end itself. My future is in epublishing, and that’s where I want it to be. YMMV.

    The stepping stone bias, however, is a tough one for e-authors to counter because it is so prevalent. *shrug* Time will tell.

  79. Shiloh Walker
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 13:44:52

    Daniel, if some of the people speaking for EPIC would reword their comments just a little, that would have left all sorts of warm fuzzies. Shoot, a little bit of tact goes a long way. As it is now, I’m only more convinced that I made the right decision to let my membership lapse. EPIC isn’t exactly coming out very well in this discussion and it has nothing to do with anything DA or the regular commenters. It has to do with how those within EPIC are portraying themselves here.

    Perhaps EPIC doesn’t want to take on the legal issues but it would help the industry a great deal if they were a little more active in some way.

    Of course, I have no interest in rejoining so my opinions will not matter much in the long run. Unless they can actually offer me something that I’d find useful, there is no point in rejoining.

  80. Pauline Baird Jones
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 13:46:17

    I’ve been wading through the posts about EPIC today and feeling a bit dumbfounded. EPIC isn’t useful because it only provides networking, support and information? It’s useless or worse because it doesn’t protect authors from unscrupulous publishers?

    Excuse my shock please, but are we children?

    I am an adult. I DO NOT need to be protected. Not even from myself, thank you very much.

    What I do need is INFORMATION.

    Then I can make my own decisions. Oh, and yes, even my own mistakes. I’ve signed with two shady publishers and you know what? I learned from it and moved on.

    The bottom line is that this is a tough business, no matter if you publish with NY or an indie. And NO organization can protect an author from anything or anyone. All they can do is provide information and networking and support. And then the authors have to take it, learn the business and realize that, surprise, even in the best circumstances, crap happens. (Remember Meteor?)

    So we get our noses bloodied now again? So what? For me, it’s worth the risk to keep writing and to keep trying and trying to reach readers. To learn enough about this crazy business to get around and over and under all the obstacles that are in our way. And if you’ve been in this business for very long you know there are a LOT of them. To keep writing because I love it–even when the business side of it makes me crazy!

    If any of has any sense at all, we’d NOT do it, so why are any of us surprised when things go wrong?

    Why do we beat ourselves up for having the sheer nerve and guts to dream and keep dreaming with almost no encouragement?

    We take risks, yes,with money, but let’s face it, the big risk is to our hearts and minds. Because we’re laying it out there when we write. Risking a publisher being rotten is, IMHO, pretty small potatoes after that. It hurts to be let down, it hurts like h*ll, you don’t let someone stop you. You pick yourself up and prove them wrong.

    There have always been skanky people willing and ready to take advantage of authors and there have always been authors willing to lead with their hearts, not their heads. And there’s NEVER been a promise that if you lead with your head, it will be any safer. If you want a sure thing, you’re in the wrong business.

    I have a lot or reasons why I belong to EPIC and why I eschewed my usual head in the sand policy to run for VP and one of them was the sheer pleasure of being with over 600 people who know exactly I feel when I get knocked on my butt–and when I contract a new book or get a great review and my spirits are soaring.

    I’ve been priviledged to rub shoulders with some amazing people, who gave me advice and encouragement and taught me things that no one else could. People who taught me about not giving up on myself or the business–even if it means getting hurt sometimes.

    EPIC is not that neat, not that tidy. It’s big and sprawling and there are over 600 opinions just waiting to spill from keyboard to screen. And, no, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. So what? No org can be all things to all people.

    It is also pretty unique, as far as I know its the only org of its kind that welcomes ANY published author. Is it evolving? You bet it is. How could it now when its members and the industry are evolving, too?

    But one thing that hasn’t changed since I joined shortly after contracting my first ebook: the spirit of volunteerism that pervades it and makes it all work. That’s why I ran for VP, because I felt it was time for me to give back something to an org that had done so very much for me.

    And we put on a great convention and the risk of sounding flip, if you haven’t been to our awards banquet, you’re missing out. Jeff Strand is the BEST MC ever and the funniest, bar none.

    Let me finish with one thing that a lawyer said at one of our meetings about contracts. He said there is what is ACTUALLY in the contract language and WHAT YOU THINK IS THERE. A lawyer knows these can be wildly different. But the law only recognizes what is actually there. This guy was talking about scamming and how shysters do it, but it was a good lesson to me to realize that what is written is all you can actually count on in any contract. We all read things into emails, letters, books, anything with words. If you can’t read a contract without blinders on, get a lawyer to look at it for you.

    Sorry for the long post! I’m probably trying to say too many things and not doing any of them that well. Blame it on holiday brain. (grin)

  81. Shiloh Walker
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 13:47:02

    If you're looking at epublishing as a stepping stone, then epublishing is probably not for you.

    I’m going to agree with Lisa and Alessia on this one. Epublishing is what you, as the e author, makes it.

  82. Teddy Pig
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 13:49:29

    being a voice for epublishing and taking on the task of suing publishers are two different things entirely.

    Suing publishers? Who said that informing your membership of known issues with an ePublisher, much like Piers Anthony’s current informational web site, entails suing anyone? It simply requires taking an official stance of being proactive and informing your membership of known problems occurring.

    Seems funny that there were no indications of problems from EPIC members effected by Triskelion or Mardi Gras that might have been noted by them publicly on their website.

  83. Shiloh Walker
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 13:50:57

    What Teddy said.

    It simply requires taking an official stance of being proactive and informing your membership of known problems occurring.

    He said it better than I did.

  84. Robin
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 13:56:31

    One would think that EPIC is to epublishing what RWA is to the romance industry. Obviously, it isn't, but it's easy to understand why people would think just that.

    As a lowly reader, I got that impression when I read Brenna Lyons’s comments on the Arizona Republic articles regarding Triskellion’s bankruptcy. Her opinions were very strong and strongly worded (and, incidentally, antithetical to a lot of what I learned in Bankruptcy and Intellectual Property law school seminars). Non-lawyers can make all sorts of statements about the law and dispense what *appears* to be legal advice without violating any ethical codes, so I can certainly understand how Ms. Lyons would feel free to offer her opinions. But I also wondered whether e-authors were taking those opinions as gospel and acting upon them, because there was a real tone of authority and advocacy in the statements that made it seem as if EPIC was in the business of advocating for e-authors, despite the fact that those statements were mere *opinions,* and not necessarily accurate representations of bankruptcy and IP law.

  85. Daniel Reitz
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 14:03:37

    Daniel, if some of the people speaking for EPIC would reword their comments just a little, that would have left all sorts of warm fuzzies. Shoot, a little bit of tact goes a long way. As it is now, I'm only more convinced that I made the right decision to let my membership lapse. EPIC isn't exactly coming out very well in this discussion and it has nothing to do with anything DA or the regular commenters. It has to do with how those within EPIC are portraying themselves here.

    I guess we disagree, and that’s fine. Herein EPIC has been mislabeled as a profit organization doing nothing for their members. I’m not an officer. I don’t speak for EPIC. I’m simply setting the record straight. It’s not too much to ask that people do some research about an organiztion prior to stating misleading information. The problem is when someone does post something on here, what they say is miscontrued to valid the invalid points.

  86. Daniel Reitz
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 14:05:56

    Suing publishers? Who said that informing your membership of known issues with an ePublisher, much like Piers Anthony's current informational web site, entails suing anyone? It simply requires taking an official stance of being proactive and informing your membership of known problems occurring.

    Seems funny that there were no indications of problems from EPIC members effected by Triskelion or Mardi Gras that might have been noted by them publicly on their website.

    There have been hundreds and hundreds of posts on both companies about this whole thing, before and after the fact. EPIC’s lists aren’t open to the public so you would not see it, but all the membership did.

  87. Pauline Baird Jones
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 14:08:03

    Speaking as someone who has been there and done that, you are hesitant to speak out when problems start to appear. First, you think you are misunderstanding things. Then you’re afraid of being labeled a troublemaker. And you’re afraid of pushing a demise that might be stopped. Then, when you realize its going down, you’re embarassed.

    Just for the record, though, I did speak out once and almost got EPIC sued by the enraged publisher. Authors tend to be jumpy about putting stuff in writing for that reason. I was on another author loop where I found out that someone was forwarding my comments to the editor we worked with.

    When I was at RT, rumors were flying about Triskelion. It was the same before the news about Quiet Storm broke.

    I guess my question is, why do we need another source for information besides the Editors & Preditors list? Why should EPIC reinvent the wheel, when it is already turning nicely there?

  88. Daniel Reitz
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 14:09:46

    Perhaps EPIC doesn't want to take on the legal issues but it would help the industry a great deal if they were a little more active in some way.

    Agree, yet there are liabilities for a non-profit organization when it does more than just post information, but helps the authors with legal actions. EPIC does post warnings when its aware of things. It’s an author organization and the authors are posting the warnings. EPIC isn’t set up to go beyond that and it has no authority to go after publishers for the author. That is not why it was created.

  89. Jen
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 15:50:16

    “Daniel, if some of the people speaking for EPIC would reword their comments just a little, that would have left all sorts of warm fuzzies. Shoot, a little bit of tact goes a long way.”

    Exactly! You know what strikes me as strange about this conversation? Most of the reader blogs are extremely supportive of ebooks and epublishing. In fact, this conversation grew out of a post designed to help and support e-authors. But then some EPIC officials arrive with guns blazing, attacking well-intentioned readers for perceived slights against their organization. You know, I’m just a reader and have no direct involvement with the epublishing industy, but I have spent my money on e-books. When EPIC officials attack readers, they only further my misgivings about the e-industry (fostered by the bad behavior of presses like MGP and Trisk). In other words, the response to Jane’s and Karen’s remarks, among others, seemed overly sensitive and quite frankly, not very professional, if your goal is to present the e-industry in the best possible light.

    Thank heavens for people like Angela James… her consistently professional blog demeanour is one of the reasons I have been buying consistently from Samhain.

  90. Janine
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 15:59:07

    We now return you to our regularly scheduled programming…

    Just kidding. I’m sure this EPIC saga will go on. But after following this lengthy string of posts about it, I want to ask a question pertaining to the original article. To e-authors and other authors, are there any other things you would encourage your fellow authors to do when checking out an e-publisher? Any other advice or red flags not mentioned in the article?

  91. veinglory
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 16:08:05

    In terms of what EPIC is and is not I would say one thing. I 100% privately knew Mardi Gras was not long for this world within a few hours of arriving at the last EPIC convention. IMHO the con is worth the $30 for membership–and I am a person who pays exactly $0 on any other promo, membership of advertise expenses with the exception of joining RWNZ. But really, checking out organisations is the same as checking out publishers. You ask around and you weigh up the costs and benefits.

  92. Shiloh Walker
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 16:21:51

    To e-authors and other authors, are there any other things you would encourage your fellow authors to do when checking out an e-publisher? Any other advice or red flags not mentioned in the article?

    my red flags would be:
    A non-negotiable contract
    A website that looks like my almost 6 year old could have done.
    A website that has type 0s my almost 6 year old wouldn’t make.

    A yellow flag would be a contract requesting rights for the length of copyright. In some situations, I’m okay with this. In others, no. Each author needs to make the final decisions after weighing all her options and doing some research.

  93. Shiloh Walker
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 16:24:24

    by the way… those are just some of my red flags and yellow flags.

    If I started trolling sites, I could probably find more.

  94. Imogen Howson
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 17:04:20

    I mentioned a couple of my red flags earlier (publishers who publish their own books and publishers who strop in public). After thought and discussion, I’m happy to acknowledge there are times when the first item doesn’t represent a red flag (although the second is always a big fat problem). And I’m even happier to see that Emily Veinglory has posted a whole blog post on the subject, here: http://www.erecsite.com/blog.html .

  95. Lynne Connolly
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 17:05:43

    I have spent my money on e-books. When EPIC officials attack readers, they only further my misgivings about the e-industry (fostered by the bad behavior of presses like MGP and Trisk).

    So you wouldn’t submit to a print publisher because Publish America gives it a bad name?
    There are far more scammers on the print publishing side. Seriously, you have to be enormously careful, so careful I wouldn’t dream of dipping my toe in the New York pool without an agent.

  96. teddypig
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 17:10:57

    Fascinating, do research on a super secret defensive group that provides said benefits behind closed doors. Yeah I’ll get right on that as soon as I see the benefit you provide.

  97. Lynne Connolly
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 17:18:15

    Red flags
    It depends if you’re already with them, or you’re looking at them for prospective publishers.
    First rule – there is no such thing as a free lunch. Repeat to yourself ten times a day.
    I’m putting the rest of this on my blog.
    http://www.lynneconnolly.blogspot.com

  98. Pauline Baird Jones
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 17:25:41

    Clearly a no win for EPIC. Someone asks the question, where was EPIC while these publishers were going down. People respond. Get accused of stomping with big boots. Now we’re a super secret org?

    Well, the good news. As ebook pioneers, we’re used to getting arrows in our backs…. (grin)

  99. Jen
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 17:36:43

    So you wouldn't submit to a print publisher because Publish America gives it a bad name?

    I’m not a writer and have no aspirations of submitting anything to anyone. I’m solely a reader. But I do look askance at the tone of some (by no means all) of the responses to questions. Clearly, EPIC members took offense at the questions being asked (or the tenor with which they were asked). Clearly, those members feel enough passion about their organization to want to defend it against perceived (or real) detractors. I can understand that. But if the goal of EPIC is to promote ebooks and epublishing (effectively to serve as a means of marketing the e-industry), taking a defensive tone on a reader blog seems counterproductive to me. The more acrimonious posts don’t make me, the consumer, want to consume more ebooks. I guess I’m perplexed as to why a post that started off trying to help e-authors ended up with some feeling like they were “getting arrows in our backs.”

  100. Janine
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 17:43:50

    It depends if you're already with them, or you're looking at them for prospective publishers.

    Neither, but the topic was interesting and I wanted a break from the discussion of EPIC.

  101. Ann Aguirre
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 17:43:57

    I really don’t get it. What does asking what EPIC does have to do with shooting e-authors in the back with arrows?

  102. Shiloh Walker
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 18:01:12

    GEEZ!

    Okay, some of the EPIC members following this list… STOP getting so defensive! You’ve already got a couple of readers commenting the ‘tone’ of some responses. Sorry, but even a *G* , *GRIN* or *LOL* isn’t going to fix that tone.

    Some of the comments have responded articulately and professionally~Daniel for the most part, and Alessia did very well. Although I do think me and Daniel aren’t really agreeing much on our views, but hey, it’s all opinion, right?

    But many of the other posts were either rambling or so defensive, you lost my interest before I even finished skimming the post. If you’re losing me that easily, you’re probably losing others.

    Dear Author is a reader blog. They aren’t writers, and many of the regulars hear don’t write either. Why should they be expected to understand EPIC’s function? This doesn’t mean they aren’t interested, but you can explain it without sounding like you’re trying to defend yourself because the high school bully punched you first and that’s why you went after him with a lead pipe.

    Get overly defensive or slyly insulting in your comments is one certain way to lose those readers.

    Writers should be able to express their thoughts in a manner that isn’t overly defensive, in a way that it objective, and coherently.

    If some of you came over here with the objective of defending EPIC, I think you mistook the general tone of the conversation. Most people just wanted to understand EPIC’s function. Yeah, most of them probably understand it now but if they are anything like me, the tone of of quite comments from EPIC members left a bad taste in many a mouth.

    And Pauline, I’m going to hazard a guess that you aren’t overly familiar with DA’s blog. I pointed it out once already, but I’m going to point it again… Dear Author is one of the biggest supporters of ebooks that I’ve seen. They’re syndicated, the blog shows up on USA today, they review ebooks (a lot) they spotlight ebook publishers. They like ebooks.

    Nobody shot an arrow into anybody’s back here, although I think a few of the commenters have shot themselves in the foot.

  103. Shiloh Walker
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 18:10:25

    Man…. I think the Ja(y)nes should highlight THIS post…well said, Jen.

    But if the goal of EPIC is to promote ebooks and epublishing (effectively to serve as a means of marketing the e-industry), taking a defensive tone on a reader blog seems counterproductive to me.

  104. Daniel Reitz
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 18:13:13

    I really don't get it. What does asking what EPIC does have to do with shooting e-authors in the back with arrows?

    It’s not the asking about EPIC, it’s the comments that people make about EPIC without understanding the organization. If someone simply starting making unflattering statements about RWA from their own assumptions, you’d see some RWA members coming on to refute it.

    Look back in this thread and see stuff like:

    EPIC appears to be completely absent

    although its current president, Brenna Lyons, can be seen commenting at the Arizona Republic website disseminating inaccurate legal information about authors' rights in bankruptcy.

    It seems to me that there is an inherent conflict of interest for an organization, particularly a for profit one if that indeed is what EPIC is, to represent both authors and publishers.

    FYI: It’s a non-profit, not for profit.

    I do feel some of their goals are severely outdated based on the changes in the industry

    nowhere in that post does it say anything EPIC has actually done beyond posting articles.

    I get the benefit to EPIC for members joining. Epic receives cash.

    What I don't get is what are the results the clients of this business get for their money?

    FYI: It’s not a business

    there has been very little activism to make this happen, from EPIC or anyone else.

    where is EPIC? Do they have a stance on this? Do they have a stance on anything?

    Which brings me back to question one: What does this organization actually do?

    it still all sounds very fluffy to me.

    there seems to be little or no substance to what you guys actually do

    EPIC does appear to be little more than a cheerleading squad, a veritable happy-clappy girl's club,

    In other words, we listen to you, so do the other 660 members, then we empathise, sympathise, and offer you tea and scones, with jam on top to soothe away your troubles.

    EPIC sounds like nothing more than an award presenting group hug organization.

    When authors are falling prey, left and right, to unscrupulous epublishers at worst or incompetent ones at best, you have to wonder why an organization that is “for profit� isn't doing more to prevent this from happening.

    FYI: It’s a non-profit, not for profit.

    my opinion of it as an organization still has not changed.

    it is a club that you pay to be a member of. It is not an advocacy group. It is not a watchdog. It does not assist authors in becoming better writers or better business professionals. It is a social society that hands out awards.

    Most of these can be interpreted as inflammatory attacks on the organization. They are not questions about the organization, they are opinions, and in most cases, are not accurate.

    It’s not a super secret organization. It’s been around for 10 years and has continued to grow. It has a presence for e-publishing at BEA, it subsidizes e-authors appearing at conventions, it runs ads promoting ebooks. From the day it started it has been only there to help the author. Those who join and don’t bother to participate will end up leaving — you can’t please everyone.

    It is an organization of authors doing things for themselves. It is not a business, it is not a company, it is not a publisher, it is not a defense group. It is run by the author membership and they decide what they want to do and how it should be done. And it’s a lot more than how it is painted in this blog.

  105. Daniel Reitz
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 18:19:34

    Although I do think me and Daniel aren't really agreeing much on our views, but hey, it's all opinion, right?

    Sorry for getting uptight defending EPIC. It’s just that sometimes things people say can be taken very wrong. And when you try to explain, all you get is more criticism. Not been a good day to make friends, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. I’m only a member of EPIC, so what do I know?

  106. Pauline Baird Jones
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 18:31:36

    Um, it was a joke. Hence the (grin) after the comment. It’s a holiday. Perhaps we all need to lighten up a bit. Smell the roses. Eat chocolate. Read a good book. :-)

  107. Michelle
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 18:35:08

    Some of the EPIC defenders need to really take a deep breath and chill out. Ever heard of the phrase digging yourself deeper? You come over to this blog guns blazing with a condescending and insulting attitude. Then when called on it, fall back on oh you meanies we are so misunderstood and are just defending our little ole selves. Just stop-stop shooting yourselves in the foot. EPIC may be the best thing since sliced bread, but it doesn’t help the organization to come off as unprofessional.

    Another reader left with a bad taste in my mouth.

  108. teddypig
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 18:57:02

    I love it, did not an EPIC member just say they knew about Mardi Gras problems a while ago. Seems that if I were an EPIC member and I was in the middle of this current issue, I might have a problem with that.

    I love it when people tell me you are not a member you would not unserstand.
    I sorts figure that attitude would not change even if I were a member.

  109. teddypig
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 19:00:50

    Sorry typos due to palm keyboard

  110. rae
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 19:03:37

    Some of these posts by epic members are indeed epic. Ever heard the saying less is more? As a reader my eyes started to glaze over and I began to skip the posts. As an aspiring author – hoping one day to be epublished I found the article to be very helpful and I will save a copy in my favorites. However the tone of some of these Epic members I found to be very insulting, condescending and somewhat ignorant. If they are meant to be representative of the organization as a whole then I don’t think it is the organization for me.

  111. Shiloh Walker
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 19:04:26

    Um, it was a joke. Hence the (grin) after the comment. It's a holiday. Perhaps we all need to lighten up a bit. Smell the roses. Eat chocolate. Read a good book

    Hence my comment that a *GRIN* or an *LOL* or *G* isn’t going to change the overall tone, Paula. It’s obvious that EPIC has a lot of members that love their organization and that’s good. But when you jump into conversation with no plan in mind but to blindly defend some perceived slight without really trying to understand where a lot of the comments are coming from…. well, you’re going to dig yourself into a hole and the grins, jokes and friendly smile aren’t going to get you out of it.

  112. veinglory
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 19:12:17

    Hey, I support EPIC but a hint is, if you reply is going to require readers to use the scroll bar, it is going to look like one doth protest too much.

  113. Jen
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 19:20:39

    Man…. I think the Ja(y)nes should highlight THIS post…well said, Jen.

    Shiloh Walker just complimented my post– that makes my fangirl heart go SQUEEE!!!

    Seriously, though, this discussion has led us right back to the question of professionalism of self-presentation in blog-land. And to what Michelle said, word!

  114. anu439
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 19:38:31

    Point of clarification for Daniel Reitz. I think the confusion over the whether EPIC is for/non-profit comes from post #8, from EPIC member Alessia Brio:

    As a corporation (Yes, EPIC is a business.), it is managed with professionalism and compassion. I've never felt that my opinion has fallen into a black hole.

    If EPIC is a business, does that not imply that it’s for-profit? That’s how I and some others took Ms.Brio’s statement. Please clarify if this is incorrect.

    Nobody’s out to get you. EPIC was introduced into the topic to consider whether it functions as a watchdog for epub authors. Many of the posts from EPIC reps/members describe its support and networking functions–which are great if that’s what epub authors want. But Jane’s post was about “author beware” services to help writers navigate the business. That’s why some are dismissing that aspect. of EPIC Because the emphasis in the posts from EPIC reps have primarily focused on the support aspect.

  115. Nora Roberts
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 19:39:04

    Publish America is hardly representative of paper publishing or NY publishing.

    I was, from an outsider’s standpoint, interested in this article, and in the comments. Initially. But the responses from some–instantly defensive, automatically smacking at another writer’s organization, and flicking at paper publishing have put me off. As a writer and as a reader. And yeah, when the comment goes on, and on, and on, I’m going to skim or skip so the point is lost.

  116. Daniel Reitz
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 20:25:30

    If EPIC is a business, does that not imply that it's for-profit? That's how I and some others took Ms.Brio's statement. Please clarify if this is incorrect.

    It’s not a business. It is an authors’ group completely run by the authors. It is incorporated as a non-profit organization so it can do things like BEA appearances, awards programs, and run conferences–all for the authors.

  117. Shiloh Walker
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 20:32:59

    Shiloh Walker just complimented my post- that makes my fangirl heart go SQUEEE!!!

    oh, cool. Did I make somebody squee? Man, that will almost make me squee.

  118. Angela James
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 20:38:20

    I was, from an outsider's standpoint, interested in this article, and in the comments. Initially. But the responses from some-instantly defensive, automatically smacking at another writer's organization, and flicking at paper publishing have put me off.

    This comment and the comments of the readers here are really discouraging to me. I think it’s symptomatic of what epublishing is experiencing as a whole in the past year. I want to say it’s losing the forest for the trees, so to speak, but the fact is, it’s the job of every editor/publisher/author to be a good representative of the industry and develop the respect of the readers and others outside the industry and if the readers, consumers (and other industry professionals) themselves say we’re falling short of that mark, then we all need to sit up and take notice. And so I’m discouraged but I think feedback is good, because no one can grow and learn in a vacuum.

    Maybe it’s easier to see the negative aspects, because they’re more vocal, more interesting to talk about, but I do believe, and have seen, that there are a lot of good, professional epublishers, editors and authors out there. People who not only love the industry but represent it well. And hey, clearly this thread and others like it have shown we’re a passionate bunch ;)

    But I think, if this thread has shown nothing else, it’s that passion isn’t enough, we’re at a point where we can’t afford to alienate either readers or advocates of epublishing, so we have to prove that we’re all professionals, not just say it. And sometimes that comes as much with what we don’t say as what we do.

    In the end, I believe in epublishing. We’ve experienced a huge surge in both publishers and books, that lends itself to crash and burn situations. But I believe that we’ll come to a point where things will even out and we can get back to the business of…well, business.

  119. Jennifer McKenzie
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 20:47:44

    OMG! I left for a while when the comments were at 50+ and look what happens!!!!

    Red Flags for me? When an owner or editor has a hissy fit in any public forum (e.g. Yahoo Groups, Writer’s Forums, popular blogs)
    When the owner or senior editor has a “pen name” which either isn’t immediately apparent and becomes a whispered secret.

    I liked what Pauline said. Authors need information. Accurate information. And it’s all out there for us at the click of a mouse.
    I also agree that there comes a point where no response at all might be better.
    *taking my own advice and shutting up*

  120. Rebecca
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 21:40:37

    Publish America was thrown into this discussion?

    I think” Godwins Law ” well, at least for for publishing issues ,ought to be changed to” how long it takes for Publish America to be thrown into a discussion.”

    You lost me at PA.

    Rebecca

  121. TeddyPig
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 22:34:20

    I 100% privately knew Mardi Gras was not long for this world within a few hours of arriving at the last EPIC convention.

    I still want to know, how many EPIC members were hurt by the latest round of closures and what benefit they got from this information that was being passed around privately?

    I mean if this is the type of attitude that is going on “screw you unless you are in our inner circle”. Hey just saying, obviously the membership is not a service organization dedicated to supporting eAuthors.

  122. Michelle (MG)
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 22:47:39

    I find the OP to be very helpful. These are the things that writers, who wish to be epubbed, need to know. I am a recent EPIC member and I have learned since I joined. I have been an anonymous reader here and have learned from it. I have a list of epub editors whose blogs I read and learn from. I’m still so new to this world that I’ll take all the help I can get.

    I think that one has to take a step back from “Oh I bet they’d publish me,” and move to “do I want them to publish me?” Some others and I have recently discovered an fairly new epub where we have realised that it is nothing more than a self-pub for one person, possibly two, or maybe just a family. That in itself isn’t necessarily bad, but it’s not necessarily good. Doing a little research within their website did not change that impression. I have friends who were/are sending submissions in, and then hearing nothing at all. I kept my mouth shut, because I was scared to be wrong – I would never want to seem like I was bashing a publisher. The info we had discovered wasn’t fact, just a lot of pointed clues. Nevertheless, after this latest debacle with MGP, I emailed a couple of those friends, asked them to check some things out and come to their own conclusions. They came to the same conclusions. But, again, that does not mean we are right, just erring on the side of caution. If someone had passed honest information on to me when I was dealing with some things (and I asked around) I would have appreciated it.

    I think a previous poster suggested going through a prospective publisher’s website/shopping cart as if you were a reader wanting to buy a book. And then buy their books. Check out their authors. It’s a good idea. Very good idea. It is something I now do before submitting anywhere.

  123. Lisa
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 23:00:38

    One thing about epublishers it that income can vary in a HUGE way between publishers which amounts to how much reader exposure are you getting. I did author promo work for years so the authors told me their monthly sales and most of the epubs sales are limited at best. Not all! Some are very nice:) I personally sold to three e-publishers and I can tell you that releasing the same month at different e-publishers my sales were ten millions times higher consistently with one of those publishers. Even if I released less often with that one publisher I would by far make more money and that equates to reaching more readers.

    If you sign just because some says yes to your book that book could reach a smaller audience, do less for your readerhip and pocketbook. I suggest asking how many books their top five books for the past 6 months have sold MONTH ONE after release. If they won’t tell you that — why? Also, don’t be so impatient to sell that you pull a book from someone that is a great publisher with great sales just because they didn’t say yes as fast as someone else.

    Karen Fox keeps Brend Hiatt’s SHOW ME THE MONEY on her website and its a great resources that at least shows some of the earning potential to help authors figure out what is right or wrong from expectations.

  124. sybil
    Sep 03, 2007 @ 23:38:55

    And so concludes EPIC’s exercise on how eauthors should not behave on reader blogs. How not to answer simple questions. And just what will happen to you if you store your EPPIE award up your arse.

    good show

  125. Karen Scott
    Sep 04, 2007 @ 00:16:59

    I’m only a member of EPIC, so what do I know?

    I thought you were also the webmaster for the EPIC site?

  126. sybil
    Sep 04, 2007 @ 00:24:04

    EC has the lil playgirl thing now too… has that always been there?

  127. TeddyPig
    Sep 04, 2007 @ 01:03:49

    Sybil,

    Let’s hope no one at EC owns a dog.

  128. December Quinn/Stacia Kane
    Sep 04, 2007 @ 03:09:39

    Emily Veinglory’s been trying for quite some time now to get authors to send sales figures to her anonymously, so we would all have a better idea of which pubs are selling and which aren’t. But very few people seem to actually want to submit them.

  129. Lynne Connolly
    Sep 04, 2007 @ 04:23:42

    Back to e-publishing.
    Like I told an aspiring author yesterday (well she did ask!) there is no such thing as a free lunch.
    If you submit work to a new publisher and you are told your book is wonderful and they want to publish it next month, this often means not many people are submitting, or you have written the Great American Romance.
    Trouble is, too many people think the latter, when it’s really the former.
    With a small epublisher, even one that is straight up and honest (still the majority) you are going to have a lot of marketing to do. A lot. And the publisher still has to prove itself, to persuade readers to buy from it. There’s a big risk involved, in prospective sales, in prospective future. Because I was aware of this, I took what came to me on the chin when first NBI and then Triskelion went belly-up and moved on.
    Not all publishers are equal.
    Now I’ve worked hard enough to make a name and a readership, I’ve sold to the big epublishers, the ones with a good track record and high standards. But I have to wait longer for my slots and I’m writing alongside some really awesomely talented authors. So I have to work a bit harder, keep my work to as high a standard as I can manage. And then some.
    I have a friend who is a best-selling NY author, and she works her socks off. She always has, I’ve watched and admired her success, but not been jealous because she has earned everything she’s worked for. It didn’t fall into her lap. And I’m not just talking writing, I’m talking conferences, booksignings, any promo opportunity. We went out shopping for fun one afternoon, and still she did a drop-by signing, introducing herself at the bookstore and signing the books they had in stock.
    So – that’s really the answer. You don’t get something for nothing. You work hard, treat yourself and your editors, cover artists and publishers with respect and professionalism, cut a few breaks and you’ll get there.
    Throw tantrums, insult people, write substandard work, complain instead of promote and you’re gone.

  130. Alessia Brio
    Sep 04, 2007 @ 07:04:08

    A note on epub shopping (back to the original topic): One thing I’ve not seen mentioned is determining whether an epub bothers to get ISBNs for its releases. There are a few which show absolutely no evidence of such. Not gonna name names, but IMO that’s not “real” publishing.

  131. Jennifer McKenzie
    Sep 04, 2007 @ 07:07:13

    I was, from an outsider's standpoint, interested in this article, and in the comments. Initially. But the responses from some-instantly defensive, automatically smacking at another writer's organization, and flicking at paper publishing have put me off

    In rereading my own comments, I realized that some may be construed as “smacking at another writer’s organization”. Personally, I am a little bitter at the changes and responses at RWA, but that is not a reason to discount RWA as a whole.
    In a way, it’s as if the one organization that strives to gain recognition in a genre that is often looked at askance has rejected my contribution to that genre. That may not be a reasonable, but it has colored my comments.
    If I have offended, I apologize. It was not my intention.
    The RWA is an organization that swam upstream for many, many years and I hope they will eventually find a place for those of us in epublishing.


    So – that's really the answer. You don't get something for nothing. You work hard, treat yourself and your editors, cover artists and publishers with respect and professionalism, cut a few breaks and you'll get there.
    Throw tantrums, insult people, write substandard work, complain instead of promote and you're gone.

    That’s kind of the way I’ve looked at it.

  132. Nora Roberts
    Sep 04, 2007 @ 07:13:37

    ~I do believe, and have seen, that there are a lot of good, professional epublishers, editors and authors out there. People who not only love the industry but represent it well.~

    I absolutely agree. I’ve gotten a good sense of what a e-publishing professional can and should be like from you, and have been impressed–though blogs and comments–on the talent and intelligence (and appealing smart-assery) of some e-authors.

    It doesn’t help the business or the image of e-publishing when that professionalism, talent, intelligence is overshadowed by those who are defensive, offensive, LOUD, aggressive and who feel they must cut down traditional publishing and RWA to score points.

    I leave a discussion like that with the impression that the professional, sane and talented are in the minority–which may not be the case. But the others are both vocal and . . . insistent.

  133. Nora Roberts
    Sep 04, 2007 @ 07:18:01

    I didn’t really get that from you, Jennifer. Your comments were more: RWA doesn’t work for me, or I don’t like this aspect of RWA, and this is why.

    Fair enough.

    But the president of another organization shouldn’t throw stones. (And inaccurately.) For me, that’s just tacky.

  134. Pauline Baird Jones
    Sep 04, 2007 @ 07:59:53

    I’ve been mulling the problem of how you warn other authors about a publisher that is going down. It’s a tough situation. Most people outside the publisher just don’t know. Usually there are rumors, murmurs, questions, but no answers.

    Do you spread unsubstantiated rumors? I know I don’t. I’ve seen publishers almost go down because of sudden rumors about problems that aren’t true.

    Unfortunately, the “inner circle” that knows the truth are inside the publisher and they aren’t talking.

    And it is a very real possiblity that a swirl of rumors CAN take down a formerly, fairly healthy publisher. If I hear a rumor that XXX pub isn’t paying their authors, I’m not going to go buy a book there when I believe the author won’t get paid for that sale. Multiply that by 50 people and suddenly sales drop, cash flow is impacted…

    I wish I knew a good answer to the problem…other than a really good crystal ball.

    One thing I HAVE noticed, quality of product, i.e. wonderful books by wonderful authors ISN’T a get-out-of-worry-free indicator. Quiet Storm had top notch, award winning authors. So did Triskelion and Mardi Gras.

    Because I can, because small press is a long term process, I tend to do minimal promo until the book is actually out. That minimizes my upfront investment.

    The other thing I try to do is keep an…independent contracter mindset. I’m my own business, contracting my product to a publisher. We form a limited, a very limited partnership, to sell that product. Because I am my own small business, I try to be aware of what I can control and what I can’t.

    Again, hoping not to be too wordy, a lot of author disappointment stems from unrealized expectations, from reading things into contracts that aren’t there, from expecting a large press experience from a small press.

    If you know what you can reasonably expect from a small press AND you don’t get it, that’s a warning flag.

    And I’m always careful about the contracts I sign and the rights I assign. I don’t give anyone any rights they won’t actually be using. I know an author who saw no reason to withhold her film rights from a small epub. Never occurred to her that those might become valuable. But they did.

    I understand why authors don’t look far enough ahead. And I don’t condemn anyone for dreaming so big they get taken. I blame the people who deceived them. Authors NEED to dream big, they need to take risks, they need to hope and try. They need to not give up or let other people stop them from trying. And that means they often get disappointed.

    But it also means that sometimes they won’t. :-)

  135. Shannon
    Sep 04, 2007 @ 08:44:38

    I was away for the long weekend, but here are my two cents on what I look for (in a broad, nonspecific sense) in an epublisher:

    A proven history of success (an undefinable quality which will vary by author). This may seem slightly hypocritical as I had one of the launch titles for Samhain, but I submitted based on Crissy Brashear’s reputation and knew the fabulous Ms. Angela James would be my editor before I signed the contract. That was good enough for me. (Along with the acceptable contract terms, of course.) Many things factored into my initial choice of EC—RWA recognition, conversations with friends who published with them, etc.

    Packaging. If I go to a website and it appears to have been drafted in Paint and then combined with horrific music before covers so bad even the SBs have no words are slapped up there, then that’s a pass for me. If the publisher thinks that’s an acceptable showcase for an author’s work, they’re not getting mine. If the majority of their covers make me either die laughing or gag, I’m going to pass on that, too.

    Standards. Again, highly subjective and hard to quantify. Browse the excerpts on the publisher’s website. If they consistently showcase typos, grammatical errors and bad writing, that tells me they hold their authors to a very low standard. Excuse my melodrama, but over time I think that will destroy a writer. Bizarre blurbs, public communications from the editing/publishing staff that lack even a basic familiarity with the English language, etc. It all matters. I’m sure it won’t surprise many of you to know the fabulous Ms. James sets the bar high, both for her the company and the authors. As a writer, I appreciate that, even when I’m sobbing into my edits.

    Reputation with readers. If readers consistently mock a publisher and its books, or are constantly complaining about the publisher’s ability to deliver the product (shopping cart woes, impossible to navigate website, etc), consider whether or not that publisher’s business savy enough to be successful in the long run.

    The contract. A lot of resources and advice have been dispensed in the last week, so I’ll just say: I won’t sign an option clause with an epublisher, won’t sign a net contract, and won’t give any publisher the right to edit my work without my approval. Other stuff is negotiable, depending on the circumstances.

  136. Roslyn
    Sep 04, 2007 @ 10:58:09

    For me alarm bells go off with that ‘we’re a family’ crap. I have a husband, a son and a cat, I don’t need any more ‘family,’ I need a goddamned publisher. One print publisher managed to rip off writers for more than a decade by muzzling them with the fear of being blackballed and that ‘family’ nonsense. Fuck that. If you’re ripping me off I have the right to proclaim it loudly and to anyone who’ll listen.

    This isn’t a sorority people, it’s a business and it shouldn’t be too much to expect people to act accordingly.

  137. Daniel Reitz
    Sep 04, 2007 @ 14:06:47

    Just an FYI, since everyone here wants to know if EPIC keeps their members informed, especially the ones caught in Triskelion, the following was posted shortly ago. Posting here with permission:

    —————–

    I attended the hearing this morning along with Esther Mitchell and Vijaya Schartz. Below is the post Vijaya made on the Triskelion Survivors loop. I thought you would like to know. We’ll all be attending on Sept. 25 also.

    —————–

    Well, it was brief and didn’t address any of our issues. This was just a meeting where the trustee asked clarification about the workings of the company. One of our questions was answered about the money Kristi and Ron paid themselves.

    As it happens, the $48,000 are the total salary Kristi paid herself in small increments over the lifetime of the company and that’s perfectly legal. As for the $5,000 paid to Ron they were the partial reimbursement of a $23,000 loan he made to the company to start it.

    I asked a question about knowing how much is actually owed to each author. They said they could determine that figure. But when I asked about being reimbursed in books for the money due to print authors, I was told I could purchase my books, but no books would be given away.
    Again, the judge might decide otherwise.

    We were warned at the start that no copyright issues would be discussed because that is for the judge to decide, not the trustee.

    In brief, the September 25th meeting is with the judge and that’s where we’ll be able to express ourselves. Esther didn’t get to say her piece, nor did Toby. And we didn’t get to deliver those letters.

    Sorry guys. It will have to be on September 25. Esther, Toby and Myself are planning to attend. In the meantime, we can send letters to the judge.

    Here is the address of the lawyer for the case. He was very friendly, but I think he is on Kriti and Ron’s side:

    Adam B. Nach
    Attorney at Law
    Certified bankruptcy specialist
    The Brookstone, Suite 157
    Phoenix, AZ 85004
    Tel: 602 258-6000

    ———————

    Yes, all the EPIC authors do keep each other informed as new information is learned when it is learned. That’s all part of the benefit of networking in the group. EPIC, as I mentioned before isn’t a company, nor a business. It is a large group of authors who help each other with writing, with support, with advice, with information, with contacts, and that’s only part of what EPIC is. There really isn’t an “EPIC,” there are 686 published authors who form an author group named EPIC. Hope this helps.

  138. Robin
    Sep 04, 2007 @ 14:51:25

    re. the dissemination of legally-related information on the Trisk bankruptcy and the rights of authors, as a newly minted JD, I’ve been stupefied by some of the statements made about the bankruptcy process, the code and various copyright issues, and I truly, truly hope that authors aren’t simply accepting all of these statements as legally valid.

    As to the issue of the professionalism of epublishers and authors, I think there’s a perception that folks in ebooks are less professional than those in print. While we’ve seen some stunning examples lately of less than perfectly professional epublisher conduct, I’d merely suggest that lack of professionalism is not limited to any particular publisher type or house. I can think of several examples of stunningly bad print publisher or author behavior, as well, although I think the informal gag orders imposed on print authors (speak badly of anyone and so and so editor won’t work with you) makes it less common for egregious situations to circulate publicly. IMO there are wonderfully professional and painfully unprofessional individuals in every position, house, and type of publishing.

    What I wonder about is the extent to which professional behavior does or doesn’t affect book quality. Probably not a question with an easy answer, but one that strikes me — as a reader — as the bottom line.

  139. veinglory
    Sep 04, 2007 @ 22:02:05

    This is of the main page now and so I guess it is winding down. But yes, send me your sales figures. veinglory @ gmail.com — utterly confidential, I don’t even keep the email, and store the data under a random code not a name. The only way to make it more confidential would be if I concussed myself in the hope of forgetting I ever saw an email ;) The figures I have posted already are at erecsite.com/PLIST.html. The reason there are so few is 1) I need you to email me, now and 2) I only post averages over at least 5 book by at least 3 different authors.

    [ end commercial ]

  140. Carol MacLeod aka Lynn Crain
    Sep 06, 2007 @ 15:09:26

    Wow…a lot of he said/she said…and all of it good information.

    One thing that hasn’t been really said about either group, EPIC or RWA, is that a person only gets out of that group what they want to put into it. If you really want to know what a group is about, volunteer to do something for that group and you will learn more than you’ll ever need to know.

    And I did with both EPIC and RWA. With RWA, I was the Region 6 Director, I think they called us that then, and was the last person to run both the contests as well as the Award Ceremony. Personally, that wasn’t a volunteer position that was a full time job. It had its moments where I just knew I was going crazy but I’m still here to tell the tale.

    With EPIC, I am the current EPPIEs Chair and the Secretary of the organization. And while this can be a lot of work, it is in no way a full time job like my RWA tenue was at the time. Still, I love working with EPIC because it is so different from RWA and must be what it was like when the RWA organization was small.

    RWA is just as focused on its Golden Hearts and RITAs as EPIC is on its EPPIEs, so the person who was pointing that out clearly didn’t understand either organization when it came to its awards. Both organizations put a lot of effort into the awards portion of membership and why shouldn’t they? It’s a way to give back to the organization where the members do everything. No, you don’t have to be a member to enter in the EPPIEs or the RITAs (unless they’ve changed that) but if you aren’t you pay a higher fee.

    However, saying EPIC puts more into the EPPIEs than RWA does Golden Heart or RITAs is absurd. Both organizations put a lot of time, effort and money, and believe me having run both contests I would know, into their awards. Those contests are huge undertakings and both were started to benefit the members and nothing else.

    BUT everyone has lost the whole crux of the issue. RWA does inform members when they know something is wrong with a publisher. BUT it must be substatiated by authors and other things before they say a thing. Why? Because if they say anything before it is fact, they can get sued. Think EPIC is any different? NO…it isn’t. They can’t say anything unless it is substantiated either. So what good does it do to say one organization is better at it than another? It doesn’t as both organizations react to what they see as the needs of their members.

    RWA and EPIC are for different venues of the publishing business. RWA caters to published and unpublished, putting the emphasis on the unpublished while EPIC is a completely published authors group. At EPIC, we do not have any unpublished authors in our rosters and won’t as that isn’t the focus of our organization. RWA’s focus is totally NYC print publishers while EPIC’s is totally e-publishing, indie and small press with the main focus being e-books.

    Still, both organizations believe in the publishing industry be it e-publishing or print publishing. Both organizations try to keep their members informed regarding the publishing venues open to them. Both organizations try to ‘teach’ their authors the good, the bad and the ugly of the business. And both organizations will react defensively if they feel they are being attacked at the heart of their organizations. Try smacking RWA sometime and see if you don’t get much the same defensive reaction you all are saying EPIC people are giving you.

    But like a friend said to me once, training or gathering authors is much like herding cats. Each has their own agenda and each wants to go their own way.

    Therefore, any group will teach an author what they want to absorb and no more because there comes a point where an author feels they’ve learned what they need to know. From that point on it is up to the author to start doing the research regarding all aspects of their chosen publisher be it e-publisher or traditional publisher. It is up to the author to find out what path is better for them.

    I find it a great mystery that authors don’t keep themselves at the top of their game by trying to find out everything they can about something. It totally annoys me to see said author then blaming ANY organization because said organization didn’t tell them what they knew. Well, the fact is that the authors usually know before people at the top of those organizations do. And if the authors who are having problems don’t say anything, how can one know at all. The fact is they can’t.

    Every author is responsible for their own career, no matter what path it takes. No one else is, no one else can be. Notice I say the word responsible. We live in a society that wants to place the responsiblity at someone else’s feet. Most of the time it lies with us. You or I, the author writing the book.

    Every author should do the research necessary to make their career the best it can be. EPIC and RWA can both make that journey easier because they both have great things to offer IF you want to see it and participate. Every author should have a career plan that they try to follow. And yes, I have one. I’ve had a dream book that I started almost 20 years ago.

    Have I deviated from my main path? Of course I have, I have a family and a life outside of writing. It happens. Does it mean that writing isn’t important any more? Hardly, writing is second only to friends and family BUT it is in it’s perspecitve place and I’m responsible for it all.

    Saying things about any organization without even being a member, isn’t a good thing to do. I have the rare opportunity of being in both in top positions. And yes, there are good things and yes there are bad things. But isn’t life that way also? You have to take the good with the bad and use what you can to make yourself the best you can be.

    I write books because I love to read books. Every author should write books because they love to read books. But every author should be an informed author and one can’t be that way unless they network with other authors. The only way that I know to do so is join organizations like EPIC and RWA as they can make the journey easier and more fulfilling.

  141. veinglory
    Sep 06, 2007 @ 20:05:04

    I think people do understand the EPPIES. A lot of us just don’t really care very much about them and find they way they monopolise attention within the organisation less than satisfaying. I used to think that was just me but comments here and at Karen’s blog suggest otherwise.

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