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Friday Midday Links: Promo is an author’s friend

A British betting firm has set the odds for the Nobel prize for literature. A.S. Byatt, author of Possession (which is essentially a romance book), is on the list at 50 to 1 odds.

Washington Post tells the woeful tale of a newbie author who had almost no publisher support. Publishers are basically executing the Poor Law and driving authors from their books to the promotional table. (Yes, I am being sarcastic here). The tale has a happy ending, though. In the face of Dickensian oppression, the author is able to make a video and fund her own book tour which led to the sale of many books for herself. Lesson: Promo is your friend dear author because your publisher is not going to do it for you particularly when yours is just one of 560,000 books published in one year.

Poor Kelly Corrigan, first-time author, didn’t get invited to this weekend’s National Book Festival on the Mall to plug her 2008 memoir, “The Middle Place.” She won’t be rubbing shoulders with heavyweight authors such as Sue Monk Kidd, John Grisham or Pulitzer winner Junot D?az. No major newspaper bothered to review the California mom’s tale about cancer and family and recovery when it was released. Her publisher didn’t send her on tour. All the old-school staples of book promotion — the book festival, the tour, the glowing newspaper review — Corrigan got none of them.

Barnes and Noble is rattling its sword by requiring authors to place a buy link to Barnes & Noble on the authors’ websites. I checked with other publishers and was told that this is a strongly worded request made by all accounts but not a requirement. Authors routinely link to Amazon because its affiliate program nets them about as much as the royalty on the book sold however if authors are concerned about Amazon’s market dominance, then they should link to all the sites on the web. Barbara Vey was unhappy during her recent BN encounter when she asked why romance books were never a “staff pick”.

Update to add: Joe Gonnella from BN states that BN does not boycott based on websites. Me thinks that the publishers got a little heavy handed with the emails to the authors.

There are dozens of questions about “what’s next” for the Google Book Search. The Department of Justice has laid out what it thinks are the legal parameters of the settlement and Judge Chin seems inclined to approve one that is “fair and reasonable” (PDF Link). At status conference will be held on October 7 wherein Chin will presumably set new deadlines. A case cannot languish on a docket indefinitely. A note of caution for published authors under contract, any new settlement agreement will likely contain changes to the orphan works provision and very little for those works that are in print.

Bob Miller of Harper Studio notes that publishing’s downsizing is probably here to stay and that this means there will be more work for less people. Undoubtably, this means that quality will suffer. Go to the store and take a look at Lora Leigh’s HeatSeeker. She just hit #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list with her last book, but in the St. Martin’s release, the line under Chapter One reads “One years Later”. (jpg). This Amazon review recounts other editing errors in the book. Or perhaps it will mean delays in publishing. One publicity account of a major house tweeted that all summer 2010 titles were late.

Wendy, the Superlibrarian, is sharing her love of categories at author Victoria Janssen’s site.

Author Jill Myles posted a Day in the Life of a Kresley Cole Valkryie:

9:25 PM – After some name-calling and trash-talking, it is determined that the war will be decided by a game of Quarters. Some idiot invites a Lykae to be the judge. Pfft.

9:30 PM – Lykae shows up, wearing no shirt. Mmm, shirtless Lykae. Begin to see merits of male judge.

9:35 PM – Lykae tries to claim Daniela. Idiot. Quarters is temporarily called off as bar fight ensues.

9:49 PM – We win. Not a surprise. Nix also predicts we will win at Quarters, too.

9:53 PM – Mariketa the Awaited casts a spell to find a new judge for us. While we wait, Regin licks the backs of the quarters and sticks them to Daniela’s freezing skin.

9:54 PM – Daniela kicks Regin’s ass.

I’m not a huge fan of Michelle Buonfiglio as she goes to concerted efforts to slyly bash every community online but her own, however, today’s post by Gwyneth Bolton regarding the history of African American romance and the inspiration she derived from that history is really wonderful.

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

14 Comments

  1. Moriah Jovan
    Sep 25, 2009 @ 11:58:09

    Independent bookstores have sneered at me for years for bringing romance to the counter, and now chain bookstores have nothing to hold onto, either. I’m done with both.

    After my last trip to Borders for four books (nearest bookstore), between getting only one because it was the only one of the four they had, and the clerk who took my money being dour to the point of rude, I don’t care if they live or die.

  2. LoriK
    Sep 25, 2009 @ 12:47:12

    I know that this sounds sort of bitchy, but I’m not sure errors in a Lora Leigh book are the best example of a decline in quality in the industry as a result of downsizing.

    One of the reasons that I stopped reading her books is that I found then to have a very high incidence of errors, some of which were just astounding. I ended up suspecting that her manuscripts must have started with so many that no one could possibly find and correct them all. (Which is not to say that I haven’t noticed an increase in printing and editing errors in the last few years. I just not sure LL’s books have much to say about changes in the industry.)

  3. RStewie
    Sep 25, 2009 @ 12:49:43

    I was impressed with our BAM a while ago. I asked about a new Lore Leigh release, they told me it should be out, went to the shelves (wasn’t there), went to the back (wasn’t there), checked their boxes (wasn’t there), and appologized profusely.

    I don’t know if she was just being polite, either, but the checkout lady asked me if the series was any good and what I liked best about it; a couple other women had come in asking for the same book before it’s release date, and she said she was curious.

    Overall, I was happy with the service and their selection…I’m not convinced, though, that they need THAT many isles of historical fiction, though…a few more of Romance would be great!

  4. Booklover1335
    Sep 25, 2009 @ 13:13:04

    I don’t know if you read an arc of Heat Seeker or not, but I thought I was lucky to get my hands on one, and the copy editing was so bad on it and so many errors that I had to stop reading it because it was so distracting. I’m not talking about just grammatical errors either. I was appalled, and had to wait for it to be released to finish it. I hope they don’t make this a practice, but unfortunatly with budget cuts it very well could be.

  5. roslynholcomb
    Sep 25, 2009 @ 13:22:28

    Somebody at the B&N in the Forum in Norcross GA is an absolute romance junkie. This is so amazing I have to put it in all caps:

    THEY EVEN HAVE BLACK ROMANCES ON THE SHELVES FRONT FACING AND NOT IN SOME NEGRO GHETTO!!!!

    I shop there all the time even though I prefer the convenience of online shopping. It is the best brick and mortar bookstore I’ve ever seen, and without a doubt one of the best things about my move to Atlanta.

  6. Evangeline
    Sep 25, 2009 @ 13:30:50

    Hm…yes, promo is an author’s best friend, but I feel promotion must be tailored to not only your specific genre, but your specific book and your background (take for example, Eloisa James’s paper-doll contest: it culls from James’s personal interest in making paper dolls with her daughter and the Georgian era in which her latest series is set). For one thing, the online romance genre is pretty “incestuous”–meaning, just about every circle overlaps with one another at some point–which can dilute the impact of promotion.

  7. Wendy
    Sep 25, 2009 @ 14:05:05

    Roslyn: I don’t think it’s just your B&N. Most B&N’s I’ve been in have the black romances shelved in ::gasp!:: the romance section.

    I’m really lucky in that the chain bookstores in my area (I’m predominantly a Borders shopper these days) have really nice romance sections and I’ve never gotten sneers. In fact, in recent memory my local Borders hosted a booksigning with Suzanne Enoch. I was in there the week before and a sales person (a man!) saw me in the romance section, told me about the upcoming signing and handed me a flyer promoting the event. I left the store practically giddy.

    I do think it’s good for authors to have more than just an Amazon buy-link on their site – but the way B&N handled this seemed more than a tad ham-fisted (IMHO).

    And yeah, I’m whoring out Harlequins again. I absolutely have no shame ;)

  8. Keishon
    Sep 25, 2009 @ 14:25:10

    Roslyn: I don't think it's just your B&N. Most B&N's I've been in have the black romances shelved in ::gasp!:: the romance section

    True, mine does it as well.

  9. RStewie
    Sep 25, 2009 @ 14:41:52

    My BAM has the Black Romance all together at the end of the row, right before all the categories. I am not surprised by this, though, since I live in the South, and I’m not necessarily offended by it, either, because I have some friends that ONLY read black romances (so it kind of makes sense to me)…AND the new release Black Romance are with the rest of the New Release romances.

    I am not an author (although I write a mean contract) but I think the Internet is the BEST place for an author to promo. Videos, blogs, review sites, contests, and the audience is both global AND very narrow at the same time–global in that people all around the globe are on the web, and narrow in that fans of romance are the ones that will be drawn to and will follow the various authors/blogs/sites.

    Three words for authors needing inspiration: lego scene reenactments. This is all win, all the time.

  10. Chloe Harris (Noelle)
    Sep 25, 2009 @ 14:46:27

    Speaking of bad service @ a bookstores and author promo.

    I’m the PAN chair for my local RWA chapter. We have tried over, and over and over to work with the Borders just minutes from where we meet and I’m done!

    We’ve had one local best selling author and one visiting best selling author arrive at the store for a signing to find their books were either not ordered or couldn’t be found because somebody went on vacation.

    Then someone new with the store came to one of our meetings saying how much she wanted to work with us and do a whole month of romance in Oct. with national and local romance authors. Well Oct is next Thursday and she won’t return my emails or emails and calls from other authors and one of the national authors she said was coming is booked with west coast events next month.

    It is indeed hard our here trying to pimp, I mean promote, yourself.

    I wish Sue Grimshaw’s great work to promote and love romance would filter down to the store level.

  11. joanne
    Sep 25, 2009 @ 17:05:14

    I AM NOT SENSITIVE ABOUT MY ROMANCE BOOKS BEING TREATED BADLY!

    I shouldn’t be mad that my local B&N store has moved Sci-Fi closer to the escalator and moved the romance books next to the back wall? Any closer to the actual brick and we would have to shop outside.

    Sci-Fi is on the 2nd floor with romance, mystery, cookbooks and children’s books—- and what the hell is on the 1st floor? Oh, a coffee shop & stationary and cds and magazines and a whole lot of other crappola.

    Now my local Borders has arranged the shelves for the romance books in a square — sort of like a story time setting for 4 year-olds. No doubt because dumb romance readers would get lost wandering the aisles of the rest of the store?

    Did it never enter anyone’s mind in these stores that I do not want to have to find Ellora’s Cave books listed under flippin’ E rather than by the author’s last name?

    I sadly have to agree with Moriah Jovan @#1. I just don’t care anymore who stays in biz and who doesn’t as long as the writers write and the publishers publish and someone is willing to sell me the book in either paper or ebook.

    Thus ends my Friday Night Rant.

  12. Jennie
    Sep 25, 2009 @ 17:52:50

    I read Kelly Corrigan’s The Middle Place when it came out in hardback last year. I like memoirs and she’s local, so I think maybe the book was shelved more prominently here. It’s a good book.

  13. Ashley Ladd
    Sep 25, 2009 @ 21:38:22

    Unfortunately, this economy is hitting most businesses. We’re all working harder, longer, and sometimes even for less. At the very least we’re not getting raises despite working harder.

    Many of us are exhausted trying to carry the extra load. A lot of us have to work second jobs on top of this to meet the rising costs of living. In my case, writing was already my second job. With expenses rising, I’m writing and promoting even more to try and stay afloat. I’m doing my best to edit and not make silly mistakes, but we’re all human and people sometimes wear out.

  14. GrowlyCub
    Sep 25, 2009 @ 23:29:33

    My last B&N experience was such that I will NEVER buy from them again. I live 65 miles from the closest brick and mortar and even my online buying has completely fallen off due the shenanigans Amazon is pulling, the crappiness of the Borders site and the ridiculous prices at B&N, but if I do buy online it’s from Booksamillion.

    These days, if Walmart doesn’t carry it, it doesn’t make it to my house, which is a damn depressing thing to say. Between their lower prices and the idea of driving 65 miles on the off chance that one of the three brick and mortars may carry the titles I’m looking for (and you’d be surprised how often they do not, even if you call and they assure you it’s right there in front of them on the shelf), the either complete ignorance of books and publishing of the employees or the sneers directed at my preference (while they are too busy to ring me up reading ‘Twilight’ or some horror title) it’s just not worth the effort.

    So far, I’ve gotten lucky and found everything I was looking for this year, except for 2 new titles that Walmart obviously didn’t carry.

    As far the B&N woman who thinks she knows romance, I cannot for the life of me figure out what people find to admire in her. I’ve had a very long face-to-face conversation with her and she’s ill informed, narrow-minded and really has no clue about the topics she pontificates about. Anybody who describes her column readers as ‘fans’ has a majorly over-inflated ego. Her efforts to portray herself as somehow better and morally superior to other bloggers is annoying the shit out of me (when I think about her, which I don’t do until somebody reminds me of her existence) and it just reinforced my bad opinion of B&N because they hired her. Nota bene: I’m not saying anything at all about the article Jane is recommending, I’m talking solely about B whatever her name is. And no, she didn’t run over my dog, I don’t have one. I just really dislike people who profile themselves on the backs of others.

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