Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

The Case for #RWAChange

Perhaps Diane Pershing misread the temperature of the membership when she said that those who didn’t like what RWA is doing should leave because her comments have spurred those who do not want to leave the organization but would rather stay and change it. Others within publishing are beginning to notice.

Need more information? Check out ESPAN, the electronic publishing chapter of RWA (I know, it’s totally ironic) and the growing RWA for Change yahoo group.

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

171 Comments

  1. Kristen Painter
    Jun 23, 2009 @ 09:17:59

    Thanks for giving ESPAN and the RWA Change cause a plug.

    More than anything, I want people to know that we’re doing this for the benefit of all members, not just those who are epubbed. Someday (soon, if not already) every book that comes out will have a digital version. Traditionally pubbed authors need to understand digital rights just as much as epubbed authors.

    Educating the membership of RWA about digital publishing will not only enable the members to make wise decisions, but keep RWA relevant.

  2. Kathleen MacIver
    Jun 23, 2009 @ 10:03:51

    One thing that RWA doesn’t seem to be thinking about is the fact that sooner or later the young will ebrace e-book technology. And when they do, all of publishing will follow, the same way the entire music industry is catering to the digital addictions of millions of teens and their iPods. Just because erotica is not your preferred genre is NO reason not to realize that e-publishing is the wave of the future!

    It’s like a Classical artist saying that your career as a violinist isn’t legit if you want to learn about how you’d be paid if your recordings are offered for download in mp3 format.

  3. Tessa Dare » Blog Archive » RWA in the digital age
    Jun 23, 2009 @ 10:15:18

    [...] of America), and RWA President Diane Pershing’s response. Today, Dear Author has a helpful guide to further reactions around the [...]

  4. Corrine
    Jun 23, 2009 @ 10:28:52

    It seems to me that perhaps a petition or letter of some sort by RWA members, like me, should be going out to Diane Pershing, and we should say en force, push us to this option, and we will take it, and then where will your organization be? Since I’m not published yet, I don’t really utilize my RWA membership except for reading through my monthly RWR, and if this is the stance that’s going to be upheld, well maybe next March they won’t get a check with my name on it.

  5. Jane
    Jun 23, 2009 @ 10:36:28

    @Corrine – check out the RWA Change yahoo group. They’ve got form letters to send to the president as well as mission statements, etc. Very interesting stuff

  6. katiebabs
    Jun 23, 2009 @ 11:25:54

    Thanks Jane. So glad people are talking about this issue.

  7. Kalen Hughes
    Jun 23, 2009 @ 11:39:27

    From the RWA Change Yahoo Group:

    Welcome to everyone who has decided to join RWAChange. We’re already 400+ members strong. We are currently in the process of drafting a Mission Statement. The goals tentatively planned to be included in the statement can be found in the files portion on the homepage

    But you can’t see what their goal or mission statement is unless you join, and I’m not comfortable joining a group whose purpose isn’t clearly stated UP FRONT. Sorry, but this is another example of #fail for me.

    @ Jane: I find myself conflicted on the issue of RWA recognizing ePublished authors (or, more to the point, I think I'm conflicted about how the org should go about doing so; clearly, so is RWA). On the one hand, clearly there are many who are professional and who are working hard to establish themselves in their chosen genre and field. Not only do they deserve to be recognized, but it is imperative that any group professing to be the organization of professional romance writers find a way to incorporate the needs of this subcategory of its membership. But-’and this is the heart of the problem IMO-’there are simply so many examples of unprofessional behavior among ePublishers (many of them highlighted on this very blog over the past few years) and unprofessional books being put out by same (also often highlighted on this blog) that I think it's understandable that RWA is having problems figuring out just how to deal with this issue and these authors. Can you honestly say that the authors of The Claiming and Knight Moves are professional writers and should be recognized as such by RWA? I can't.

    Any professional organization has to have standards and requirements, and these are going to be arbitrary by definition. They are also going to have to be adaptable, but the ability to evolve is going to be glacial (no mutant x factor to jump them into the next phase overnight). Does this excuse the fact that those running RWA appear to be writing ePublishing off at the moment? No, no it doesn't. But I have to say that I do kind of *get* where they're coming from. I believe that ePublishing will prove itself in the long run (the fact that crazed bibliophile that I am, I gave up paper for an eReader proves this, at least to me), but I don't think it's done so yet. Certainly not based on most of the ePublished books I've read (or attempted to read, see the current poll).

    I often see arguments stating that RWA had better get their head wrapped around the legitimacy of ePublishing because eventually everything will be ePublished. I think this confuses the issue (see DA's own poll on the quality of ePublished books for more on this). Most NY pubbed authors are already seeing their books issued in eForm, but the sales are miniscule. The $, the strength, the numbers, are in print. Will this change? Maybe. But due to a number of factors, including the high price of eReaders, I doubt it will be any time soon. And even if paper books go the way of the dodo, and all books come out only in eForm, there may still well be a quality difference between books put out by the big NY houses and those put out by their competition (or by books put out by proven publishers [including the “big Es” such as EC, Loose-ID, etc.] and their unproven competition).

  8. BevBB
    Jun 23, 2009 @ 12:11:32

    @Kalen Hughes:

    and unprofessional books being put out by same (also often highlighted on this blog) that I think it's understandable that RWA is having problems figuring out just how to deal with this issue and these authors.

    The most recent example of the worst editing I’ve run across in a very long time was a mass market paperback historical romance from a major mainstream publisher last week! I honestly could not believe how many editing problems this book had. I almost got out the red pen and I don’t do that. It’s just not the way I read.

    So don’t tell me ebooks are so much worse than print because they ain’t. They have editing duds sure, but I wonder just what the percentages would really be compared to print if we could actually compare them fairly. Hmmm?

    Odd, then, that RWA can’t see the “equality” within the mediums when not only are there problems with the printed books but print-related businesses are also shutting down without paying people. Really doesn’t sound like good business practices to me. Does it to you?

    Or is it only bad business when it’s electronic?

  9. Robin
    Jun 23, 2009 @ 12:26:45

    @Kalen Hughes: All I keep thinking about when the unprofessional behavior of epresses is mentioned is how many years Signet, Dorchester, and Kensington (more, maybe??) published hundreds of Cassie Edwards books w/ who knows how many lifted passages. And how, when the jig was up, so to speak, how only ONE of those publishers stopped selling the books. Or what about Kensington’s acquisition of Janet Dailey on the heels of the Nora Roberts plagiarism?? And those are merely two well-known examples.

  10. Kalen Hughes
    Jun 23, 2009 @ 12:50:38

    @ BevBB: I’m not so much talking about editing issues (and yes, NY books have those too) as I’m talking about books that are simply not ready for primetime in every other way (writing is subpar, plots are full of holes, etc.). And I’m not the only one who feels this way about ePublished books, as is clearly shown in the discussion on the recent poll here at DA. I did not say that I wholeheartedly agree with RWA's current position, I said that I understand why they're conflicted. If you don't, take a peek at DA's reviews for The Claiming and Knight Moves. I just can't see arguing that these writers are professionals and should be admitted to RWA PAN (which is really what this is all about as far as I can tell).

    @Robin: As a former Kensington author I both cringe and fume about Cassie Edwards and Janet Dailey. I expressed my reservations/horror/distaste about their continuing to do business with these “authors” to my editor (for all the good that did). *sigh* I have further concerns about the examples of cooking the books that past authors have had to deal with at some of these NY pubs (and that some of think is still going on at a few of them . . . ).

    What it comes down to for me is this: What's the best option for RWA and its membership? Clearly it's not shutting out ePubbed authors entirely, but just how should RWA winnow the wheat from the chaff? Right now the standards for PAN status are not working, but eliminating them entirely would make us a social club rather than a professional organization. RWA's PAN guidelines are not all that different from the membership guidelines of comparable professional writers' groups like Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America or Mystery Writers of America. Why does RWA, and only RWA from what I can tell, catch all the flack?

  11. Kristen Painter
    Jun 23, 2009 @ 12:50:56

    But you can't see what their goal or mission statement is unless you join, and I'm not comfortable joining a group whose purpose isn't clearly stated UP FRONT.

    That’s because it’s still being crafted. It will be up very soon.

  12. Jane
    Jun 23, 2009 @ 12:54:45

    @Kalen Hughes Trinity Blacio was about 200 books away from being a PAN author. As for why RWA because we are romance readers and I, for one, could care less about SFF or MWA because that’s not my genre.

  13. Robin
    Jun 23, 2009 @ 13:05:28

    @Kalen Hughes: I agree with you that it’s imperative to have a stringency in protecting authors from unscrupulous publishers, print and e. What frustrates me — as a mere onlooker, albeit a somewhat informed & interested reader — is that there has been IMO no straight answer as to why RWA’s policy is sound and fair to its membership. Lawsuits and statutory limitations are mentioned but not explained (and excuse me for being REALLY cynical when those mentions come up). It’s said that RWA isn’t a guild or trade organization, but it has a trademark on RITA, and trademarks are for *commercial* entities. Pershing talks about getting “unbiased” views of epublishing, but that makes me wonder where the hell you’re going to get unbiased views of ANY publishing — where are these similarly unbiased views coming from on the NY print side? So much of it comes across to me as disingenuous that I really think there’s just a basic prejudice against epublishing among the RWA leadership that makes it tough to have a real discussion about how to go about serving the epubbed membership w/out sacrificing important standards of professionalism.

    I agree with you, though, that RWA may just be incapable of serving all of the perceived needs. Frankly, it strikes me that even the most disappointed and frustrated members (over the ebook thing) stick because of the networking and informal mentoring they get in their local chapters. Maybe that’s what RWA really is, and should be — a networking organization. If it’s more, though, I think that the current privileging of advanced-based publishers marginalizes epublishing without a reasonably presented rationale that doesn’t smack of “it’s different than what we’ve always known and therefore suspect.”

    And as a reader, I find it difficult to take seriously the arguments that I should care about the RITA, for example, when it automatically disqualifies a whole subset of books of which I am reading more, not less. Certainly RWA’s position won’t stop epresses from their work, and I know if won’t slow down the momentum digital publishing now has behind it, but it does seem to me to smack of a widespread suspicion around ebooks that as I reader I find annoying and disappointing.

  14. BevBB
    Jun 23, 2009 @ 13:09:25

    @Kalen Hughes:

    I'm not so much talking about editing issues (and yes, NY books have those too) as I'm talking about books that are simply not ready for primetime in every other way (writing is subpar, plots are full of holes, etc.). And I'm not the only one who feels this way about ePublished books, as is clearly shown in the discussion on the recent poll here at DA. I did not say that I wholeheartedly agree with RWA's current position, I said that I understand why they're conflicted. If you don't, take a peek at DA's reviews for The Claiming and Knight Moves. I just can't see arguing that these writers are professionals and should be admitted to RWA PAN (which is really what this is all about as far as I can tell).

    Did I say that all ebooks, publishers and authors are great?

    No, I did not.

    The problem I have with that logic you’re using, Kalen, right along with RWA apparently is that it’s tossing the baby out with the bath water. The good epublishers and authors are getting punished right along with the bad ones. So what if there are some dozies of bad ebooks out there? So what if there are even bad epublishers?

    Are you going to sit there and claim that there aren’t bad print books? That there aren’t bad print publishers?

    Because that’s what this is also about. As long as that’s the argument RWA is dragging out, no one is going to take them seriously. Why?

    Because they aren’t being fair and it’s obvious even to someone who’s just a reader and sitting on the sidelines “listening” to this year in, year out. Ad naseum. They need to get their act together, accept that the electronic medium is here to stay, get over it and deal. Respect the epublishers who are succesful – and we all know who those are because we’re buying books from them on a regular basis already – and work with them to figure out what makes them successful on their “electronic” terms, not on the terms that RWA has already pre-decided have to apply in a one size fits all “printed” basis.

    If RWA can’t do that, then personally, I wouldn’t want to have them representing me in any professional capacity and you know why? How in the world is that showing any vision of looking to the future of the profession?

    To me that’s only showing being stuck in the status quo – the death knell in any profession.

    But, you know what, I’m just a reader buying the books for years. It’s all of your careers.

  15. Kalen Hughes
    Jun 23, 2009 @ 13:43:32

    Trinity Blacio was about 200 books away from being a PAN author. As for why RWA because we are romance readers and I, for one, could care less about SFF or MWA because that's not my genre.

    First sentence scares the hell out of me.

    As for the second, I just can't see your logic. RWA is supposed to be a professional writers' org. They HAVE to have some kind of standard of what it means to be a professional, published author. Their definition is in line with those of other, similar, groups (which would speak to its being reasonable IMO). If the members disagree with the definition (and clearly many do), they can lobby to change it. But no definition is ever going to make everyone happy. Can't be done. This fight has been going on for as long as I've been a member, and I expect it will continue to go on for years to come (unless they give up on being a professional org and just lapse into being a social club).

    Because romance/erotic romance is on the forefront of digital publishing, RWA has been stuck having this fight first. And because RWA-’unlike any other writers' orgs-’chose to allow unpublished people to be voting members, they have an additional pressure cooker effect going on that the other orgs don't face.

    Bascially, RWA can't win. People screamed about the requirements of being a “recognized publisher”, so RWA did away with it. Now they're screaming about the minimum proved earning to be PAN (and that they're not getting enough info about just who is a trustworthy publisher and who isn't). What I've yet to see is anything except “throw the barn door wide open for a hoedown” be put forward by those who are unhappy.

    I look forward to seeing the mission statement for RWA Change. And if it's something I agree with, I'll back it.

  16. Kalen Hughes
    Jun 23, 2009 @ 13:54:10

    I agree with you, though, that RWA may just be incapable of serving all of the perceived needs. Frankly, it strikes me that even the most disappointed and frustrated members (over the ebook thing) stick because of the networking and informal mentoring they get in their local chapters. Maybe that's what RWA really is, and should be -’ a networking organization.

    Aka a social club. I don’t want my professional org to be reduced to a networking org.

    If it's more, though, I think that the current privileging of advanced-based publishers marginalizes epublishing without a reasonably presented rationale that doesn't smack of “it's different than what we've always known and therefore suspect.”

    I don't think RWA can win this one. They used to have a method of determining who qualified as a “recognized” publisher, and they cause great amounts of crap for it. They discontinued it and went with $ earned by author, and they caught crap for that.

    I absolutely disagree with their current position of shutting out the established ePubs from the conference, and I've written the board to say so. I think the $1K advance is stupid and unreasonable. But I've yet to see a good suggestion for reviving the “recognized” publisher status (which is essentially what everyone is clamoring for *sigh*).

    And as a reader, I find it difficult to take seriously the arguments that I should care about the RITA, for example, when it automatically disqualifies a whole subset of books of which I am reading more, not less. Certainly RWA's position won't stop epresses from their work, and I know if won't slow down the momentum digital publishing now has behind it, but it does seem to me to smack of a widespread suspicion around ebooks that as I reader I find annoying and disappointing.

    I've stated flat out that I think RWA is WRONG WRONG WRONG to categorically ban ePublished books from the RITAS.

  17. Kalen Hughes
    Jun 23, 2009 @ 14:32:12

    The problem I have with that logic you're using, Kalen, right along with RWA apparently is that it's tossing the baby out with the bath water. The good epublishers and authors are getting punished right along with the bad ones . . . They [RWA] need to get their act together, accept that the electronic medium is here to stay, get over it and deal. Respect the epublishers who are succesful – and we all know who those are because we're buying books from them on a regular basis already – and work with them to figure out what makes them successful on their “electronic” terms, not on the terms that RWA has already pre-decided have to apply in a one size fits all “printed” basis.

    Just how would this “respect” to be shown? They tried having a “recognized” publisher program, and there was unholy hell raised and much carping, so it was dropped (maybe you missed this, since you're not a member?). Any standard raised is immediately attacked as “unfair”. Of course it's going to be unfair to someone; every standard is. What would your suggestion be for how to determine just who is and who isn't a “successful” ePublisher and thus worthy of respect? I'll warn you now: hold on to your hat as you'll become the one being attacked from all sides.

    If RWA can't do that, then personally, I wouldn't want to have them representing me in any professional capacity and you know why? How in the world is that showing any vision of looking to the future of the profession?

    To me that's only showing being stuck in the status quo – the death knell in any profession.

    One thing that seems to happen again and again in these discussions is that the idea of the book market gradually becoming more and more centered/invested in an electronic format confused/commingled with the concept of “epublishers” and “epublished” books. Right now I'm just not sure that there's a huge crossover between the print readers who grab their books a Wal-Mart or Barnes and Noble or Amazon.com and those who are devotees of EC and Loose-Id. Sure there's some crossover, but as a print author I can tell you that my electronic sales are less than 2% of my total sales (and this seems to be true for most of my friends as well). Print authors sell tens-of-thousands of copies (often hundreds of thousands); ePubbled authors don't (my friends who are both e and NY pubbed tell me that their esales are quite small comparatively; a few thousand copies being a bestseller, anything in the tens of thousands being virtually unheard of). I keep reading complaints about the dilution of the eMarket due to the number of books. Well, they HAVE to put out a lot of titles, because they don't have the kind of market share for each title that a NY book has.

    Someday, maybe, eReaders will be as common as iPods, and when that day comes, electronic books will rule the earth like mighty tyrannosaurs (hell, there probably won't be an option, which is what it will take to make this happen in reality). But I don't think you can say with any certainty that those electronic books will be being produced by EC or Loose-Id or Samhain, etc., unless these publishers move into more mainstream types of books. Right now the strength of ePublsihers is that they cater to a niche market. The strength of NY is that they cater to the masses.

  18. Jane
    Jun 23, 2009 @ 14:38:48

    @Kalen Hughes Right now the market for digital is small but every publishing seminar, everyone making decisions at a major level acknowledges the importance of the digital market. Heck, even Sue Grimshaw noted on Twitter the other day that digital is not going away. The point is that RWA needs to equip authors for the future and not just address the needs of today because authors are signing contracts for publication 2-3 years out and I don’t think anyone in the know doubts that the market is changing rapidly.

  19. Kalen Hughes
    Jun 23, 2009 @ 14:51:02

    everyone making decisions at a major level acknowledges the importance of the digital market

    Agreed. But the need for authors to understand the digital market and the importance of their digital rights is not the same thing that most people are talking about here, which is how it’s unfair for RWA to not recognize ePubbed authors, to not let ePublishers have spotlights, and to not let ePubbed books into the RITA.

  20. Jane
    Jun 23, 2009 @ 14:54:36

    @Kalen Hughes It’s all intertwined. Angela James, someone who has given presentations at Tools of Change, IDPF, to BISG, and the like, cannot give a presentation at RWA because her publisher isn’t recognized. Further, sharing information about digital publishing is exactly the type of information that other industries are listening to such as the university press, education publishing and yes, even trade publishing, because new business model paradigms are being explored. Why keep that information from authors when all the publishers are hearing it? It places authors and aspiring authors at a distinct disadvantage. As other noted individuals have said, we need to decouple content from form which is what the argument that we are having right now is all about. It is the same thing even if you don’t see it.

  21. Kalen Hughes
    Jun 23, 2009 @ 15:29:06

    As other noted individuals have said, we need to decouple content from form which is what the argument that we are having right now is all about. It is the same thing even if you don't see it.

    And I don’t think you see what I’m saying. *sigh* Epublisher recognition has nothing to do with authors learning about how to maximize their eRights. And while I'm sure Angela James would give a great workshop, I'd rather hear an agent talk to me about this than an ePublisher.

    RWA used to have “recognized” publishers. That was done away with due to complaints from the members and the publishers themselves. Then they had no guidelines for publishers; just for PAN status. Once again, hue and cry (oh why won't you help us figure out who to send our books to?). Unfortunately, the “solution” (aka the new “eligible” standard) resulted in ePublishers getting royally shafted and shunned (and I don't disagree that there are clearly elements of RWA-’some at very high levels-’that don't want to let the ePubs play in our sandbox). I’m in 100% agreement with you that THIS SUCKS. I’d like to see a better solution. An actual solution. But what is it? What standard would work to help promote the legit ePubs and screen out the fly-by-nights? Every time something is tried, there is a huge hullabaloo about how it's unfair and unworkable etc. etc. etc. Right now we have-’IMO-’the worst possible option: One size fits all, and that size is NY Print. *grumble* This

    is holy-bat-shit-insane-and-unfair to the ePublsihed membership!

    No other way to put it.

  22. Kalen Hughes
    Jun 23, 2009 @ 15:30:44

    Stupid edit button won’t work. That second “quote” should be in bold.

  23. BevBB
    Jun 23, 2009 @ 15:46:01

    @Kalen Hughes:

    One thing that seems to happen again and again in these discussions is that the idea of the book market gradually becoming more and more centered/invested in an electronic format confused/commingled with the concept of “epublishers” and “epublished” books. Right now I'm just not sure that there's a huge crossover between the print readers who grab their books a Wal-Mart or Barnes and Noble or Amazon.com and those who are devotees of EC and Loose-Id.

    You know, you’re probably absolutely right. And, actually, I’m one of those who doesn’t at all believe that ebooks are going to replace print books. Oh, they will for some. But that’s not why I read them. Most of the ebooks I read aren’t published in print and never will be. And, surprise, I like it that way.

    For that very reason I also question the assumption that all authors have the goal of being published in print. Markets that will probably never find a place in mainstream print publishing. Why in the world would intelligent individuals who know their markets settle on a longterm goal counter to that same market?

    That makes absolutely no sense.

    So, theoretically, by ignoring the fact that some authors might not have the same goals, RWA is also ignoring their needs. Completely.

    Of course, the next argument would most likely be that that those “niches” will never be big enough to matter. Maybe not but here’s the thing, it’s not about how big the markets are for all those individual niches. It’s about the fact that they’re all using the same medium – right along with both epublishers who are print publishing as well as print publishers who are starting to epublish too. That latter sometimes through the very epublishers that can’t get recognized by RWA. Doesn’t RWA want to keep their members informed about those digital developments? And how can they do that adequately if it’s all second-hand information and not from the horse’s mouth, so to speak?

    I mean, one just has to wonder who their “expert” sources of information are when they don’t even allow the most successful epublishers connected to the genre into the organization.

    As to how the rules keep changing, the only thing I’ll say is that as on outsider just hearing that they have changed year-to-year simply because people get mad is information enough. Seriously, it says alot. It says that this is an organization that has major problems.

  24. Jackie Barbosa
    Jun 23, 2009 @ 16:24:32

    Kalen Hughes wrote:

    As for the second, I just can't see your logic. RWA is supposed to be a professional writers' org. They HAVE to have some kind of standard of what it means to be a professional, published author.

    I just had to respond to this, because the biggest problem RWA has is that it’s trying to serve two masters. Most other professional writers’ organizations (including SFWA and MWA) only allow you to become a member when you qualify as published under their guidelines. Like the guidelines or don’t, you are either eligible to join or you’re not.

    By allowing people who are not actually professional, published writers to join (whatever one’s criteria for deciding that may be), RWA has opened itself up to cries of “not fair!” from the members who think they are *too* published, thank you very much, and to hell with your guidelines and they horse they rode in on.

    It’s irrational to say you are an organization for professional writers and then allow people who don’t qualify as professionals to join. And while I personally would not want to see RWA disqualify unpublished writers as members, I think it can’t really fulfill its purported mission of advocacy and education for professional romance writers when somewhere on the order of 80% of its membership aren’t, by its own criteria, professionals.

  25. Kalen Hughes
    Jun 23, 2009 @ 16:43:14

    I don’t think the org has “major problems” so much as it’s having serious growth pains (or maybe I’m just sugarcoating my own reality so I can sleep at night). For me it comes down to the fact that RWA has too many masters. It says it’s for professional writers, but the majority of its membership is unpubbed. I’d guess that there might be more ePubbed than NY Pubbed now too, so that’s another wrinkle. So whose needs are paramount? I think this is the key issue that RWA is struggling with right now, and yes, the struggle is butt ugly.

    Epublishing is still so new that no one really knows how it fits into publishing as a whole, or how it will evolve, or what it will ultimately turn into. Most of us know do know and acknowledge that the eFormat is going to be important down the line though . . . and I'd bet my bottom dollar that one or two of the ePubs will evolve to the point where they can rival the NY houses (but I also think they'll be putting out paper books when they do so).

    For that very reason I also question the assumption that all authors have the goal of being published in print.

    I think all authors have the goal seeing their work as widely read as possible and maybe even making an actual living from it. What this means will vary from author to author. We all want the best for our work and ourselves, but “the best” is highly dependant on what you write and what you want to write. I keep getting told I could make a lot more money if I’d just write the paranormal book I was messing around with, but I don’t have the jones to pick up that MS and work on it. It’s just not in me the way the historicals are. I’m sure this is the same for people who write edgy erotic romance or m/m books. But I’ll bet if you asked writers at new, unknown ePress if they wouldn’t rather be at Big Well Known EPress, most would say yes. And if they got an offer from NY, I doubt they’d turn it down . . .

    We're living the Chinese proverb (curse): May you live [write] in interesting times.

  26. Kalen Hughes
    Jun 23, 2009 @ 16:46:49

    Jackie, you’ve just said what I’ve said in multiple places . . . but you said it better. We cross posted word for word the thing about serving too many masters.

  27. JulieLeto
    Jun 23, 2009 @ 20:38:42

    Just for the record–I’m not about to engage in debate on this issue. I’ve done it until I’m blue in the face in the past and frankly, I’m weary of the whole thing.

    But I agree with Kalen and Jackie on their points.

    If an author qualifies for PAN, they should be eligible for the RITAs in some way. (I understand that delivery of ebooks is the issue…if so, then let’s find a solution that is fair and equitable.) But I still believe there should be some sort of professional standard for the organization.

    I also think that a lot of what’s going on in all these lists is bullying behavior. I really do. People keep saying they want debate, but then they start with the name calling and conspiracy theories and everything else that makes people who have alternate viewpoints slink away and say, “I’d rather be writing my books.” I fear that change will come about not because it is warranted and fair, but because one side was louder than the other.

  28. Jennifer McKenzie
    Jun 23, 2009 @ 20:44:13

    I don't think RWA can win this one. They used to have a method of determining who qualified as a “recognized” publisher, and they cause great amounts of crap for it. They discontinued it and went with $ earned by author, and they caught crap for that.

    What I find interesting about all of this is that NONE of the changes made have been implemented with input from those professionals who understand the digital market.

    I also take issue with the comment that recognition of epublishers has nothing to do with the education of unpublished members of RWA.

    Angela James is an industry expert and when she talks those of us who know the biz listen. If unpublished authors can’t have access to Ms. James and others who are industry professionals, how can they make informed decisions for their career?

    Do we leave it to Google to guide the unpublished in epublishing? Even Ms. Pershings statements are disputed by industry leaders. Yet it is her leadership that shows a huge gap between the knowledge of those outside the epublishing industry and those inside.

    As for the unprofessional behavior of epublished authors, I would say that’s an equal opportunity problem with all authors under the microscope.

    What I’d like RWA to do is what it initially began to do–educate. If we can all agree that there ARE epublishers who are professional, well run, reliable and even profitable, can we agree that we need to inform the unpublished of who they are and why they’re preferable?

    Believe me, some new epublishers are expert at marketing and enticing the ignorant into bad contracts, bad editing and bad economics. How can we let people know what to look for so that Triskelon doesn’t happen again?

    No, RWA cannot serve two masters. It shouldn’t. It’s mission has been clear from the start, but their practice has NOT been according to that one mission. How much time and effort has been spent on these fluctuations in rules and hurdles put in the way of its members? How much effort has gone into responding to the criticism instead of being proactive in an industry that is ushering in the future?

    As many have said, soon all of the print authors will be dealing with their own digital releases. Do you know what’s “normal” for a digital release? Do you know that most of us who BUY ebooks find the $15 some of the publishers demand “not worth it” when we can buy other ebooks for half the price, ebooks just as good?
    Do you know what DRM is? Do other print authors know? Or like some authors, do they dismiss their ebook sales because they’re minuscule not realizing there MAY be a reason for that.

  29. Heather Massey
    Jun 23, 2009 @ 21:06:19

    Thanks for the linkage, Jane.

    On a personal level, as a reader and fan of some very niche genres, Pershing's response reminded me of all the decades I went without my favorite stories (whether in books, manga, film, television, or home video) or thought I had lost them to oblivion because technology hadn't developed to the point where I could easily access them.

    I am *still* astonished at the bonanza that is DVD and the Web. It's like a goldmine of films and shows and stories I am able to re-experience/watch for the first time in *years*. Maybe I need to get my priorities straight, but I've experienced a lot of distress being unable to watch the end of a beloved show or read the next manga in a series I absolutely worshipped.

    I realize that niche genres and the publishers who serve them are a small part of an immense whole, but the hardcore fans are the lifeblood of these genres and we will always exist (and fork over lots of cash for the product we want). We need venues such as digital publishing almost as much as we need oxygen.

    I never thought that digital/computer technologies would catch up with my tastes. I've now learned that they do. So from my perspective, having waited so long to hand over cash so I can read more of these stories, it's distressing to witness an organization like RWA have such a difficult time acknowledging digital publishing. Indirectly, it affects readers because some of us can only obtain our favorite stories from small press/epublishers. I realize my abandonment issues are showing, but I don't want to be cut off again!

  30. Robin
    Jun 23, 2009 @ 21:23:42

    @Kalen Hughes: I’m not sure what you mean about the issue being one of digital rights, because I think that might be how some print-primarily authors see it, but my understanding is that it’s much broader — that it’s rather about the viability of digital publishing as an alternative business model. As for epublishing being ‘so new’, is it? Maybe by the standards of publishing houses in business 50+ years, but I don’t see it as brand new.

    I don’t think RWA will ever satisfy all of its members all of the time, but as Jennifer McKenzie said, RWA leadership has never been particularly welcoming to epublishing, which really makes it difficult to come to a collaboratively reasonable solution, IMO. I saw on Twitter a comment from Lisa Hendrix that the epub model has “rankled” some in RWA, and if that’s characteristic of how RWA leadership feels, no wonder they’re not anxious to see it acknowledged as legitimate. It kind of undermines the impartiality thing, but as you said, maybe the solution is just to acknowledge that RWA org feels that traditional advanced-based publishing models are the only ones that they want to acknowledge as legitimate for their members and alter their membership policies to conform to that view. It would vastly limit the economic and human resources available to the organization, but at least it would create coherence in membership and clarity in goals/mission.

  31. BevBB
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 06:32:08

    @Kalen Hughes:

    I think all authors have the goal seeing their work as widely read as possible and maybe even making an actual living from it. What this means will vary from author to author. We all want the best for our work and ourselves, but “the best” is highly dependant on what you write and what you want to write.

    I guess what I have a difficult time believing is that an organization that claims to have 10,000+ members, most of whom are unpublished, actually believes they can all make a living at writing. And if they wanted to help their members be as widely read as possible, why not learn about digital from the people who are doing it?

    What are they afraid of?

  32. JulieLeto
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 07:48:14

    Want to know why the epublishing model rankles me? NO ADVANCE.

    That’s it–it’s down to cash. I don’t apologize for being in this for the money and my advance is my guarantee that I’ll be paid for my work UP FRONT. They pay me, I work. I don’t spend 3-6 months working on a book and then have to wait for it to be edited and released before I see my first penny. Yes, I know epublishing is faster than print in terms of going from manuscript to finished product, but I still want my money ahead of time or over time (as in advance on signing, on proposal, on completion, on release…though I hate the on release part, it’s part of the print publishing model in most cases now…except for Harlequin, thank God.)

    That’s it…that’s the reason I abhor this model that everyone around here thinks is the bee’s knee’s.

  33. JulieLeto
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 07:58:19

    @BevBB, some of us HAVE to make a living off of our writing or we don’t get to write. I know that’s hard for some people to accept–but writing full time and making enough money to support myself and my family (in my case, equal to what I would have made in my first profession–teacher–which thankfully, isn’t that hard to match) is the reason I joined RWA. I’m not an artist. I’m not a hobbyist. I’m a PROFESSIONAL WRITER. There is nothing WRONG with my choice and there is nothing wrong with me being a member of an organization that was founded specifically to support that choice. RWA was not founded so people could dabble–it started for women who wanted to make a living at writing romance.

    Yes, it’s harder to do that now than it has ever been in the 20+ years I’ve been in RWA. But I still want my organization to be focused on that. I was unpublished for the first 9 years of my membership in RWA and I thank the Boards of the past and present for keeping the focus on career writers. Without that single focus, I might never have achieved the career I have now, one I love dearly and thank my readers for each and every day.

    I have nothing against the people who don’t care about making a living at their work. They can be members and enjoy the benefits of education that only RWA can provide. HOWEVER, they can also allow the organization to keep “teaching to the top”–and by that, I mean, keeping the focus on making a living at writing. No one loses when that goal is retained. However, if RWA ever changes into a group where making a little bit of money is okay…where fair wages are no longer something we aspire to, then I’m out. So either way, RWA loses members.

  34. curious
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 08:17:41

    I think I am with Bev here, in reality what are the chances of even a reasonable portion of the 10,000 ever making a reasonable living writing? Even those with print deals? Talking midlist to lower here.

    But I do not see how people going the e-publishing route are not wanting to make a living?
    I don’t know anybody in this current economic climate who isn’t.

    To me it makes sense to keep slaving without earning any money from your writing, towards that elusive NY deal which has such limited spots. (From what I have managed to glean, even for the megastars of today, for many of them it took years to sell to NY. ie Kenyon)

    While not ideal with the no advance, money can be made that helps the writer continue to write.
    How can it be a bad thing to work towards that goal, learning more through the e-publishing process of editing etc, reader feedback, getting paid, even if it is not a great amount, and building a readership?
    It doesn’t seem to have done that much harm for Shelley Laurenston, Lauren Dane, Shiloh Walker and the likes..

  35. BevBB
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 08:40:26

    RWA was not founded so people could dabble-it started for women who wanted to make a living at writing romance.

    Hmm. Interesting. So, just what percentage of the membership are actually making full-time livings at writing? Do they have to be successful at that goal before or after they join? Is the organization for helping them get there through membership or is membership a measure of the fact that they’ve already acheived that status?

    See why I’m confused?

    And, yeah, I know about the PAN distinction, which to me only confuses the question more because just because an author is published doesn’t mean they’re making a living. Income doesn’t mean a body can quit their day job.

    As to the “education” issues, Julie, have you ever sold an ebook completely separate from the normal print channels, i.e. one not connected to any previously existing print book?

  36. Jackie Barbosa
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 08:55:10

    Julie, I absolutely respect and understand your preference for the advance model of payment. I prefer it, too!

    But when you say you have to make a living at writing, or you wouldn’t be able to write at all…I have to wonder how you managed to write during those 9 years you were an unpublished author. Until you landed your first advance-paying contract, not only did you not “earn a living” at publishing, you didn’t earn anything at all. So what changed? How did you go from an unpublished author who could effectively afford to write “for free” to one who can’t afford to write at all for less than a living wage?

    I’m not asking that to be snarky. It’s just that it takes a LONG TIME, generally, for a writer to go from unpublished to contracted to the kind of bestseller status that nets a truly living wage from writing, so there has to be a period of time in pretty much every writer’s life where she/he doesn’t earn at a living at it. During that period, if a writer can sell some of her work to an epublisher and make ANY INCOME AT ALL from that sale, is that choice categorically worse than earning nothing at all? It may be for some, but not for all, and since we have a fair number of bestselling authors now who came from the ranks of epublishing, I’d say their choice to start there did them no material harm at all.

    Finally, why abhor a payment model that doesn’t apply to you? No one’s trying to get you to leave your advance-paying NY publishers in favor of epublishing. Do you perceive the very existence of this payment model as a threat to the advance-paying model? Do you think RWA’s giving that model a stamp of approval (or not) has any actual power to stop its spread or force the publishers who use to change their ways? I’m genuinely curious here.

  37. Karen Templeton
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 09:04:53

    Just a thought — but the purpose of an organization doesn’t necessarily have to mesh with the goals of its individual members. Or even the reality of the marketplace.

    No, obviously 10,000 people aren’t going to make a living with their writing. In fact, a large number of those 10,000 will never be published in any venue, any more than everyone who studies acting or music or art will make a career out of it. The odds are what they are. For some, their art will always remain a hobby, either because they’re not driven to go pro, or because market forces conspire against them or whatever.

    But RWA’s purpose isn’t to get people published, or guarantee them a living at writing — which they couldn’t, anyway. But it is to arm members with the tools they need to make informed choices — choices that most benefit those who either *are* writing for a living, or hoping to. Whatever other members choose to do with that info is up to them. But setting the goals high for its members is never a bad thing.

    Which is not to say that I feel RWA can’t do more and be more inclusive of other models. But, yeah, focusing on career-minded writers is exactly what they should be doing. If hobbyists (and by that, I do *not* mean writers who are e- or small-pub’d!) and dabblers want to tag along, that’s their business, but RWA should never dilute its purpose to serve that mindset.

  38. Kalen Hughes
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 09:12:42

    Oh, Julie. I see you got dragged in while I took the evening off, LOL!

    What I'd like RWA to do is what it initially began to do-educate. If we can all agree that there ARE epublishers who are professional, well run, reliable and even profitable, can we agree that we need to inform the unpublished of who they are and why they're preferable?

    Agreed. I've never said anything else. I just don't know how this is going to be sorted out, when every time RWA has tried it just results in yet another outcry about how unfair the standards are. I REALLY hope RWA Change comes up with something wonderful that I can support (and that as members we can push for and hopefully get adopted).

    I'm not sure what you mean about the issue being one of digital rights, because I think that might be how some print-primarily authors see it, but my understanding is that it's much broader -’ that it's rather about the viability of digital publishing as an alternative business model. As for epublishing being 'so new', is it? Maybe by the standards of publishing houses in business 50+ years, but I don't see it as brand new.

    Well, I'm a print author, so for me the issue is about digital rights.

    I'd love to see a discussion about the viability of digital publishing in regards to authors not publishers (clearly the ePubs themselves are making money). When the topic gets brought up, the result is usually another round of “mean girl” finger pointing, rather than an actual discussion or rebuttal.

    I saw on Twitter a comment from Lisa Hendrix that the epub model has “rankled” some in RWA, and if that's characteristic of how RWA leadership feels, no wonder they're not anxious to see it acknowledged as legitimate.

    Personally, I don't see that the epub model has “rankled” people (I think “rankled” implies that some people fear it, or are threatened by it). There are two very different things going on IMO: 1) There is a small but very vocal group of members (not all of them published) that are horrified by the erotic content, by the ménage, by teh gay. 2) The PAN members have not been convinced that the model is viable. And it's really not in terms of their careers.

    So what we have is a relatively new, seething, productive stew of writerly life that is bursting forth and demanding to be taken seriously, to be recognized, to be acknowledged. EPubbed mammals in a world ruled by print dinosaurs if you will.

    To help bridge the gap, I think print authors need to be educated about their digital rights (as Jennifer McKenzie pointed out), and ePubbed authors need to be given some kind of recognition (cause when we get down to the nitty-gritty, this fight is all about “status”). The question is just what kind of recognition/status is that going to be, and how are we going to determine who qualifies. This has been-’and remains-’the sticking point.

    I think I am with Bev here, in reality what are the chances of even a reasonable portion of the 10,000 ever making a reasonable living writing? Even those with print deals? Talking midlist to lower here.

    Not high. Does that mean that we give up and become a social club? I'd really rather not.

    I think this is the great divide: those who are in this with the goal to be professional writers (aka, no day job) vs. those who are happy to just be published (but still want the same status in RWA as the members in the first group). The first group is offended by being told that what they consider “hobbyists” are now supposed to be coequal professionals. The second group is offended by being told they're not professionals because they don't get all the stuff the old guard thinks is important (advances, sales in the 10s-100sK, co-op, printed books, etc.).

    IMO neither group is fully in the right, but the fact of the matter is that RWA was conceived as a group to foster and recognize “career-focused romance writers”. The onus is on ePublishing to convince the old guard that their model is professionally viable for authors. Is that fair? Maybe not, but it is the truth.

    I guess what I have a difficult time believing is that an organization that claims to have 10,000+ members, most of whom are unpublished, actually believes they can all make a living at writing. And if they wanted to help their members be as widely read as possible, why not learn about digital from the people who are doing it?

    Nobody said that every member is going to make a living at writing (now we're back to my original point about the problem being that RWA has too many masters). The org's purpose is to advocate for the published members, and to offer help, information, and guidance for the unpublished.

    What are they afraid of?

    I don't think that's the right phrasing. Much like Lisa Hendrix's accusation of people being “rankled” by it, “afraid of” implies that people are somehow threatened by ePublishing. I don't think they're threatened, I think they're just not yet convinced of the viability of it as a medium for professional writers.

  39. Anne Douglas
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 10:10:45

    Just to clarify:

    Julie Leto – are you stating that it is your belief that anyone who chooses to ePublish (with the no advance/high royalties setup) is a hobbyist dabbler who has no career goals whatsoever?

  40. JulieLeto
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 10:21:20

    No, Anne, that’s NOT what I said. AT ALL.

  41. JulieLeto
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 10:36:59

    Anne, what I’m saying is that professional writers get paid a fair wage for their work. If you write a whole book and your distribution is such that you make less than a fair wage–I’m questioning whether or not that is fair to the author. THAT’S IT. If an epublished author makes a professional wage…then they’re professional!

    If I’m an artist who paints beach landscapes but can’t manage to sell more than a couple of paintings, am I Dan Mackin? (My personal favorite beach landscape artist.) I may work as hard as Dan Mackin. I may be JUST AS TALENTED as Dan Mackin, but my distribution and sales are not equal to him…see my point??? But as a street corner artist, I still ASPIRE to have Dan Mackin’s sales! I want to learn how to do that…I want a professional group that will help me attain my goal.

    That’s all I’m saying.

  42. JulieLeto
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 10:38:04

    I don't think that's the right phrasing. Much like Lisa Hendrix's accusation of people being “rankled” by it, “afraid of” implies that people are somehow threatened by ePublishing. I don't think they're threatened, I think they're just not yet convinced of the viability of it as a medium for professional writers.

    YES!!!

  43. XandraG
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 10:45:44

    I think it’s interesting that no one else has yet pointed out in the discussion that there’s a deeper cultural paradigm going on here–fiction is changing on a broader level, isn’t it? Romantic fiction is changing–that much can be seen in the eternal kerfluffle surrounding erotic romance and alternative expressions thereof. We write commercial fiction, so the market will have the last eventual say in the matter of what sells (what the people want/are willing to pay for), and the existence of digital publishing by and large has extended that market into a broader avenue of what is available to sell.

    Naturally, this is about meeting niche markets, but it’s also about alternative methods of storytelling as well. Many digital publishers have placed up for sale stories with the “HFN” when the “HEA” a very short time ago was the only acceptable resolution to a romantic story except for a very few notable exceptions.

    Of course, a market with many fruit vendors will see the available profits from selling fruit spread out among many…but by the same token, more people looking to buy fruit will gravitate towards a market with many choices in fruit vending. :)

    What RWA has to do with all this, though, is that if it is going to act as an advocate for professional authors, it does not need to judge those authors on what they’re selling or how well they’re selling it…RWA needs to understand and inform. Not judge. By refusing to even acknowledge digital publishing, RWA puts itself into a position where it can’t advocate out of ignorance. RWA can’t make choices for its members, and it can’t right now disqualify members for the choices they make (from membership, in regards to accepting digi-pub contracts).

    RWA has common ground with authors who are selling their work in digital or print format, or accepting contracts in a digital or print business model. All those authors, no matter what contracts they signed or where their books are for sale need to know about rights, they need to know about royalties and payments–whether or not they come before or after the work is turned in (and to put things in perspective, I think it’s only the cable company that actually gets paid *before* you get your service ;) ). These authors need to know about connecting to readers and savvy promotion, they need to know about taxes, they need to know about foreign-language rights and subrights and contract clauses that can harm them in solid ways. They need to know about markets both large and small, and need information from professionals in those markets.

  44. JulieLeto
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 10:54:42

    Jackie…so much to respond to! I know you’re not trying to be snarky and I appreciate that very much.

    First, while I was trying to get published, I worked outside of writing. I was a teacher. I was a typesetter and graphic designer. Sometimes concurrently, as in I held two jobs. I was a secretary for a time. I wrote on the side. But my goal was to be a professional writer–someone who supported herself with her writing income. Until that point, I was a professional teacher, a professional typesetter and a professional secretary. When I sold and started to have a regular, significant income from my writing, then I considered myself a professional writer. Not that my own personal litmus matters to anyone else. My opinion is that RWA should remain focused on the authors who want to achieve professional status. That may mean different things to different folks, but to me, it should be all about the $$. It is, after all, a business.

    To me, we’re all authors. We’re all trying to tell a good story. But I think that the national organization should remain vigilant that we’re all working for publishers who put their money where their mouths are. Frankly, there are a few print publishers who I think should get unrecognized because of their ridiculously low advances and crappy distribution, but I don’t rule the world. Fortunately for everyone, I’m sure. :-)

    As to why I abhor a payment model that doesn’t apply to me…because it COULD apply to me. I am an epublished author by the virtue of the fact that my books are now coming out in print as well as digital. I do see a time coming when digital books will outnumber print books–and I certainly don’t want the accepted model to be one where I don’t get paid in advance for the work I’m about to put into a project. Why on earth would I want that?

  45. Jane
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 11:03:43

    @JulieLeto why do you get to choose for everyone else as to what is an acceptable payment model? Further, you do know, right, that your publisher along with major representatives from every other print publisher has listened to seminar talks given by people like Angela James through BISG, IDPF, and TOC. In other words, the people making decisions are getting information that RWA refuses to disseminate to its members. That’s clearly some kind of service, but not the kind I would want from an organization that is supposed to help further my career.

    Ignoring the digi pub model isn’t going to make it go away. Trying to deligitimize it because it doesn’t work for you, doesn’t make it go away nor does it make it less valid an option for someone else.

    It certainly doesn’t make it illegitimate in this reader’s eyes. In fact, I bet that if you took a survey of the readers of romance books, they could care less what model of publishing is used to pay an author. Readers just want books.

    In the digital world, the digital published books are on the same shelf as the print published books released in ebook form. In other words, your books, earning 15-25% royalty, sometimes off the net, sit right next to an authors’ book making 40% royalty. At some point, the “professional” author has to ask herself who is making the better wage. Is RWA equipping all of its authors to make those profit/loss decisions?

  46. JulieLeto
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 11:05:01

    Xandra, I don’t disagree with you at all–except that I don’t think that RWA is judging so much as they are trying to uphold standards of professionalism as they have determined over years and years of this argument about what publishers are good and what publishers aren’t. Their decision may not merge with standards of professionalism of some of their members–but they can’t please everyone. Some does not equal all. And just because there is a vocal backlash right now doesn’t mean there isn’t a more quiet group of members who want RWA to keep towing the current line. Because trust me, there is. I’m a part of it. I struggled with whether or not to speak up here…and only did because the conversation seems rational and honest. Anne’s attempt to put emotionally-charged words in my mouth notwithstanding.

    I don’t agree with RWA on all points…I never have and I probably never will. I see where some of the points made by people on this board and others are valid and should be addressed by RWA. The RITA is one. But if the rhetoric doesn’t get toned down…and people don’t stop attacking others who have an alternative view…there will be NO dialogue and therefore, no real change.

    It’s not a black and white issue to me. I’m sure it’s not to a lot of people. There are good points on both sides and if people could just talk to each other without fearing that they’ll be purposefully misunderstood or insulted, then maybe some real change will happen.

  47. BevBB
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 11:05:56

    @Kalen Hughes:

    I don't think that's the right phrasing. Much like Lisa Hendrix's accusation of people being “rankled” by it, “afraid of” implies that people are somehow threatened by ePublishing. I don't think they're threatened, I think they're just not yet convinced of the viability of it as a medium for professional writers.

    Then why are print books also being published in electronic formats? Why is the medium not ignored completely if it has no viability?

  48. JulieLeto
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 11:15:01

    Jane, you’re putting words in my mouth. I don’t agree that digital publishers should be kept out of the conference, though I haven’t said that straight out and for that, I apologize. I think that so many issues are under consideration here, it’s all starting to get jumbled.

    Do I think that every start-up publisher (print or e…I don’t CARE) should be able to give workshops and take appointments and take up space at an RWA con? No, I don’t. But if a company has proved itself to be viable and successful, then yeah, let ‘em in. I don’t care what their technology is.

    And I’m not trying to choose what payment model is best for EVERYONE. I thought I was pretty darned clear that I was saying I want that for *me*! Although why anyone wouldn’t want their money upfront is beyond me. Honestly…why not? Someone tell me why publishers who are supposedly making so much money wouldn’t give their author a commission ahead of time to finance the time it takes them to create the work?

    My family owns a small business. We are a manufacturer. We don’t manufacture a darned thing unless someone pays us to do so. Maybe that’s where I’m coming from. That’s the model I’ve known my whole life…long before I spoke, much less wrote. They pay us, we produce. When the product is delivered, we get paid more. It’s worked for us for 57 years.

  49. Jackie Barbosa
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 11:26:13

    I do see a time coming when digital books will outnumber print books-and I certainly don't want the accepted model to be one where I don't get paid in advance for the work I'm about to put into a project. Why on earth would I want that?

    I completely understand that, but I think that the root of the issue here may be that we’re confusing DELIVERY format (primarily digital vs. primarily print) with the payment model, and I think that’s a very big mistake. After all, there are small presses that deliver their books primarily in print but also don’t pay a large enough advance to qualify for recognition under RWA’s current guidelines. Advances, or lack of them, have very little to do with FORMAT, in my opinion, and a lot more to do with distribution capacity.

    The fact that epublishers don’t offer advances in line with print publishers isn’t because they publish in digital format–it’s because they are small presses with, at present, limited distribution. They are, by definition, serving a niche marke. Print books still far and away outsell digital books, although that is surely going to change since digital sales are also the “growth” part of the industry.

    Anyway, I am unconvinced that the way small epresses choose to structure payment for authors will have any long-term negative impact on the opportunities for authors who publish with the “big boys” to get advances for their work, even if the primary mode of distribution for those books becomes digital. If your work is selling 100,000+ copies a title, your publisher is going to want to keep you on board, and be willing to pay you appropriately in advance to ensure you don’t take your profitmaking books elsewhere.

    Really, what’s most important at this stage for NY published authors to be asking is why their royalty rate on the ebook version of their work is often the same or very little more than they receive for their print books. Given the relative overhead in producing a paper book and producing an ebook, the royalty rate should be higher for digital, regardless of whether an advance is paid or not. And when the shift occurs and authors are receiving only 10-20% for ebooks which now account for half or more of their total sales, they are likely to feel a bit taken advantage of.

    As an author working on the cusp of the print/digital divide and one who is definitely chasing the goal of earning a living as a writer, I’m much more concerned about the potential that a 10-20% royalty will become the entrenched standard payment rate for books delivered in digital format than I am that NY publishers will stop paying advances. YMMV.

  50. BevBB
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 11:33:45

    @JulieLeto:

    My family owns a small business. We are a manufacturer. We don't manufacture a darned thing unless someone pays us to do so. Maybe that's where I'm coming from. That's the model I've known my whole life…long before I spoke, much less wrote. They pay us, we produce. When the product is delivered, we get paid more. It's worked for us for 57 years.

    That’s all find and good, but with respect are their products dilevered digitally over the Internet?

    Seriously, I complete respect for authors and don’t have any problems with print authors who say they want the advance model to continue for print publishers. What I don’t understand is when they don’t grasp the concept that maybe we might not see them as experts on a business model they’re not even selling books using.

    And, no, selling additional books in a secondary format along with their print run does not count. I’m talking about experiencing first hand having to get a book published through the purely electronic process start-to-finish.

    It would be bad enough it they were simply dismissing the second model completely but dismissing that model as inadequate or somehow second-class when they haven’t used it, probably never will, or most like ever have to just doesn’t seem fair to many people.

    I can see that and I’m just a reader.

  51. Jackie Barbosa
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 11:47:36

    Although why anyone wouldn't want their money upfront is beyond me. Honestly…why not? Someone tell me why publishers who are supposedly making so much money wouldn't give their author a commission ahead of time to finance the time it takes them to create the work?

    I might have to call shenanigans on anyone who claimed they actually PREFERRED to be paid after the fact than to be paid upfront, lol.

    There are, however, a lot of factors involved in deciding whether the ability to be paid upfront is MORE important than anything else. Including whether or not you can get paid for the work at all.

  52. JulieLeto
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 13:16:53

    Jackie, I hear you and totally agree! I think it all goes down to $$$. Show me the money. I don’t care how you deliver your product, so long as the creator of the product gets paid fairly and preferably, before they put their blood, sweat and tears into the work.

    BevBB, your question confuses me. A book is a book is a book. The epublished authors are screaming that they do exactly the same job that I, a print published author does. And when it comes to craft, I agree. Same blood, same sweat, same tears. So why should I be paid before I actually write but they have to wait until after the book has been written, edited and released? (I am talking about multi-published authors here…even my first book was written on spec. That’s just the way the business goes…but after a while, you don’t have to do that anymore.)

    I don’t understand why the advance against royalty business model bothers epublishers so much. Put your money where your mouth is, I say. You (publisher) think you can sell a book? Prove it. Show me the money. Show your authors the money.

    And by the way, I just paid my web designer to redo my site. IN ADVANCE. I paid her for her creative time and energy and talent–all delivered digitally. What difference does it make???

  53. Kalen Hughes
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 13:43:39

    Then why are print books also being published in electronic formats? Why is the medium not ignored completely if it has no viability?

    BevBB, you're confusing the delivery medium (electronic books) with the business model (ePublishing). These are not the same thing, as I keep pointing out.
    The NY publishers put out their books in eForm as well as print because A) some readers want them that way, and B) I think they understand that there is the POTENTIAL for this to be a decent part of the pie at some future date (maybe even the whole pie in a time far far away). Currently, the eFormat is not really a viable concern for any of the NY pubbed authors I know (we make about 1-3% of our sales in the digital format). This is not say that we're ignorant about digital publishing or negotiating our digital rights.

    The question of viability for ePublishing (as in books published by ePublishers, such as Ellora's Cave or Loose-ID) is a whole nother issue. The majority of these titles sell only hundreds or a few thousand copies (and sometimes not even that). IMO sales are limited by the fact that most belong to niche subgenres (most are erotic romance, and the best sellers tend to be erotic paranormals and ménage) combined with the fact that eReaders (even the Kindle) have yet to make major in roads with readers (esp casual readers, who, surprisingly enough buy the majority of books).

  54. BevBB
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 13:44:34

    A book is a book but the process of is not necessarily the same. There was a comment by Shayla Black in the thread on Pershing’s post in response to Deirdre Knight’s that explains this much better than I can.

    You've used the $1000 advance as the measuring stick by which to judge a publisher worthy. Okay, let's look at the REST of the publishing cycle. I'll use myself as an example. I agreed to a deal with one of my print publishers at the beginning of February. I am now perusing the second version of the contract (after sending the first back for revisions). Even if I sign today, I will not see the first third of my advance until late July/early August. Let's say my advance was $1000 (though frankly, I would never agree to such a ridiculous deal). I would be getting a third of that, minus my agent's fee ($300) about 5-6 months after agreeing to the deal. If I had e-published that same book, it would already be released most likely and I would already be seeing checks for NON-RETURNABLE downloads.

    By the time my print book comes out in late 2010, I will finally have made the other $600 of my advance, BUT it will be AT LEAST another 6 months before I'm eligible for royalties. If I'd e-published the book, I would have cashed 15-18 months worth of checks already. Why is waiting until 2011 to MAYBE see more money “more career focused” than having the book out within months, having your royalties paid out monthly/quarterly, and having those royalties be based on ALL the actual sales of my book?

    Let's fast forward to a year after the print book's release. I might have received 2 royalty statements now from my print publisher and I would have made money…but they are holding reserves against returns that may or may not happen. And THEY are determining what those reserves are. THEY deciding when to release those reserves. They only pay me twice a year, so I have to wait to receive a statements that are nearly impossible to read. How is the better for me as an author to wait years for money that the publisher utterly controls?

    Let's say that as a print book, it didn't sell well. Let's say I only sold 2k copies. Dismal in the print world, agreed, but not totally unheard of in the era of publishers just tossing books out there and hoping they find footing in the reading public. As a print author, if I'd been publishing in mass market, I'd just about earn out my measly $1000 advance. In the electronic world, I would have cleared $4160, roughly. Hmm, which would I rather have?

    Granted, as a print author, I'm likely to sell more than 2k books, but even if did, I'd have to sell 8k mass markets to make the same amount of money that I did selling 2k e-books. And please don't tell me that's impossible. I've done it more than once. In the first month of sales alone. For more than the first month of sales. I have royalty statements to prove it. I have one e-book in particular that made me over 5 figures in 3 months. How many print books do that? How many among RWA's growing PAN membership can claim that the first third of their advance amounts to 5 figures?

    If being career focused means we're here to make money, does it really matter what business model it comes from? Last I heard, money was money.

  55. JulieLeto
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 14:02:41

    Sorry, BevBB, but while that response is interesting, it still doesn’t go back far enough.

    Let me give you my example. I have a Blaze coming out next year (June 2010) that was the second book in a two-book contract. I was paid a nominal amount for “signing” a contract–that check has already been deposited in my account a long time ago. I wrote the first three chapters, turned it in and got paid again. About two weeks after I turn in the final book, I’ll get paid the third and final time of my advance. That amount is well above $1000 total (like Shayla, I don’t think I’d write a whole book for that amount…that’s like a penny a word for 90K words!). Less than many, more than some. I had to work up to the number I’m at.

    So everyone’s experience is different. I still don’t see why epublishers can’t pay their authors an advance before they write a single word…especially an author like Shayla Black, who has clearly proved she can sell a lot of books for her publisher. She may get paid a month after she’s turned in a book…but it certainly didn’t take her a month to write it. Okay, I can’t say that for sure…maybe it does, but my guess is that most authors take more than four weeks to write a whole novel.

  56. Kalen Hughes
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 14:02:48

    Ignoring the digi pub model isn't going to make it go away. Trying to deligitimize it because it doesn't work for you, doesn't make it go away nor does it make it less valid an option for someone else.

    It certainly doesn't make it illegitimate in this reader's eyes. In fact, I bet that if you took a survey of the readers of romance books, they could care less what model of publishing is used to pay an author. Readers just want books.

    I think a lot of different stuff is getting all mixed up and confused here. I’ve been accused of not understanding what’s being said, and I’ve clearly seen several other posters not getting what I’m saying. I think we're having multiple conversations, wires are getting crossed, and terms are getting thrown around without any real grasp of what they mean.

    One discussion is about the viability of ePublishers, and just how-’or if-’RWA should adapt to accommodate them and the members who are currently being published by them.

    One discussion is about the future of digital publishing. This topic is of concern to writers no matter who they're published by.

    One discussion is about what it means to be a professional writer, and what criteria RWA should use to make this determination.

    One discussion is about what publishing model is best for authors, and if they can't sell into the one of their choice, if it's a bad thing to sell where they can (which can only be a personal choice IMO).

    And there might be a couple more, but my brain hurts at this point . . .

  57. BevBB
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 14:15:38

    @Kalen Hughes:

    BevBB, you're confusing the delivery medium (electronic books) with the business model (ePublishing). These are not the same thing, as I keep pointing out.

    Am I really or have you only convinced yourself that’s the case?

    Tell me something, how does one separate the process of creating the book or how it’s delivered to the consumer from a successful “business model” in book publishing?

    Are you telling me that print publishers don’t account for the production cost or how much they pay for distribution of the books in their “business model” when they pay their authors?

    Somehow I don’t think so.

    And if RWA doesn’t think that the reduced costs of electronic production and distribution are going to change the dynamics all the way around then they really are burying their heads in the sand.

  58. Kalen Hughes
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 14:21:29

    Shayla Black is also skipping over the tried and true truth about advances (as told me on high from several NYT's best selling friends): If you get royalties, your advance was too small. An author's advance is supposed to, at some level, represent what the publisher thinks they can make off your book. You get it all upfront. Royalties are a cherry on top. So yeah, if you think you're only going to make a $1000 off your book, the model looks wacky. But if you're getting paid solid midlist money for a NY Print Publisher, upfront (and while you're working on the book) is the way to go.

  59. Robin
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 14:23:58

    You know, the more defenses of RWA on this issue I read, the more I think many are based on mistaken perceptions about ebooks and epublishing in general, like:

    1. Epublished authors do not earn a professional or living wage
    2. Epublishing and Erotic Romance are synonymous
    3. Epublishers refrain from paying advances because they don’t believe in their authors or view themselves as professional publishers
    4. Epublishers are inherently more unstable than print publishers
    5. Advances are proportionate to financial stability and seriousness of the publisher
    6. Epublishers are more scandal-ridden than print publishers
    7. Epublished authors can’t get published in print, which is why they’re with epresses
    8. Epublishers want to take over the market and displace print publishing

    Further, while I don’t believe that all print-pubbed authors view epubbed authors as unpublished, as long as RWA maintains its current policy re epublisher eligibility, RWA is basically characterizing those epubbed authors as unpublished within the professional publishing standards of the organization. Which may be part of why it’s tough to separate that out from statements from RWA members in support of RWA’s current policies. That is, if RWA does not recognize epublished authors as professionally published within its own guidelines, authors supporting that policy can be construed as indirectly suggesting the same thing, even if they do not believe that epubbed authors are not professionally published.

    I certainly understand the anxiety around the changes that could occur in publishing, both in NY and dedicated epubs, but the reality is that things *are* changing. I suspect that many publishing houses are looking to see what is going to happen with the Harper Studios NO ADVANCE model. If it succeeds, then why wouldn’t other NY pubs move in the same direction? And with already contemplated changes by NY pubs re royalty calculations on epubbed versions of their books, I would think that knowing what the heck is going on would be something authors would want, especially in a market where it’s a) getting more and more difficult to get a lucrative NY contract, b) digital is the growth sector of the market, and c) the average wage for authors according to AG is a mere $10K a year.

    However, if authors don’t want to learn more about the epublishing model (not necessarily embracing it), if they don’t want more education about *how* digital has already changed and will continue to change the publishing landscape and they can generate benefits from those changes, the world will not implode. BUT, no matter how the rank and file RWA membership feels about the present and future of digital publishing, it strikes me that the leadership should care, because volunteer or not, they have taken on positions of stewardship for the organization and its members. Therefore, they have a special duty to be proactive in a) learning about epublishing to avoid embarrassing public statements that are not accurate and b) offering education about digital to the org membership, whether the org members want the information now or not.

    Not all authors will want the information, and that’s okay. Some authors will never want to know about anything outside of the advance-based print publishing model and nothing will convince them away from that. It won’t matter that ebooks don’t take years to produce, that the royalties-based model works very well for some authors, and that digital publishing is already intrinsically intertwined with mainstream NY publishing (see the Google Books Settlement, for example). Some authors will be perfectly happy and profitably paid through the current RWA-approved publishing model and will continue to be so even as digital grows.

    But if RWA leadership persists in legitimating only one model of publishing as professional, then I think they should limit their membership to the authors who conform to that model and put their energies into those members and their priorities. Because right now, four-fifths of the RWA membership is not recognized as professionally published by RWA standards, even those who are making MORE MONEY than their print-pubbed peers. So in what way is RWA serving the vast majority of its membership if it won’t even consider the legitimacy of a publishing model many of those members a) are currently part of, and b) might have the possibility of a profitable career with, especially given the incredibly low average wage for writers and the relative scarcity of adequately profitable NY contracts, even for currently pubbed NY authors?

    As a reader, I’m only looking for good books, and I have to share that I recently finished some contest judging at the final round level, and my two top-placed books were native ebooks. Both were professionally written and edited (all ebook entries I read met this standard, FWIW), both interesting and compelling, and one had a cover I could easily see on a NY book. So while RWA might not recognize these as professionally published books, it won’t matter to readers, and from how it appears to me, reader interest in ebooks is growing, not diminishing.

    Now I’d like to know that as many authors as possible are maximizing their potential in a rapidly changing market, because the market is healthiest when its heavily occupied, but ultimately I, like every other reader out there, have and will continue to adapt. I remember when it was unthinkable that Judith Ivory or Laura Kinsale would never have another book out there, but now, even though some of us might want Ivory and Kinsale to be more present in the market, we’ve found a whole new crop of authors writing rich, intelligent historical Romance. So as much as I’d like as many authors as possible being able to write and be profitably published, I’ll follow a good book to virtually any publisher. More and more, I’m turning to epubs in addition to NY pubs, and I only expect that trend to continue, especially as digital continues to grow.

  60. BevBB
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 14:29:24

    Less than many, more than some. I had to work up to the number I'm at.

    But in some ways, I think this is a great deal of the problem. Most of the authors, no, writers we’re talking about haven’t reached those levels. In any way. Whether those numbers go back far enough or not is in irrelevant. They’re still real numbers in the sense that they apply to what writers can earn from epublishers currently to help pay the bills at the same time that they work towards those valued advances for print that RWA wants to keep in place if that is their wish.

    And that last wasn’t in any way meant as sarcasm. It was meant as there being two sides to the issue. I’m saying that while I see what some of you are saying, I also see what they’re saying. They are still getting paid good money for writing using an alternative model that does not interfere with the advance one you all are talking about.

    Wouldn’t it serve all writers better for RWA to recognize the epublishers that are doing the best job in that sense instead of appearing totally closed off about the issue?

  61. Kalen Hughes
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 14:45:55

    @ BevBB: You posted

    I don't think that's the right phrasing. Much like Lisa Hendrix's accusation of people being “rankled” by it, “afraid of” implies that people are somehow threatened by ePublishing. I don't think they're threatened, I think they're just not yet convinced of the viability of it as a medium for professional writers.

    Then why are print books also being published in electronic formats? Why is the medium not ignored completely if it has no viability?

    Here you can clearly see in my quote that I’m talking about ePublishing and you’re talking about electronic books. Hence my assertion:

    BevBB, you're confusing the delivery medium (electronic books) with the business model (ePublishing). These are not the same thing, as I keep pointing out.

    Seems pretty clear to me that you are, in fact, failing to grasp what I'm saying. The viability issue for ePublishing is two fold: 1) the books being put out by ePublishers appeal to a niche market; 2) the number of readers with eReading devices is currently quite limited, so even if they were putting out books with a wider appeal, their pool of potential readers is still quite small. At some point in the future, I believe “2” will take care of itself, but the first will always be an issue. Furthermore, until “2” is resolved, books published by ePulishers (aka only available in eForm) will have limited distribution and accessibility. Hence the question about the viability of ePublishing as a business model at this point and time.

    As for the viability of electronic books, I’ve already addressed that too, in a post you respond to and quoted from, so I'm assuming you read it the first time:

    The NY publishers put out their books in eForm as well as print because A) some readers want them that way, and B) I think they understand that there is the POTENTIAL for this to be a decent part of the pie at some future date (maybe even the whole pie in a time far far away). Currently, the eFormat is not really a viable concern for any of the NY pubbed authors I know (we make about 1-3% of our sales in the digital format). This is not say that we're ignorant about digital publishing or negotiating our digital rights.

    And now I will stop feeding the troll . . .

  62. JulieLeto
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 14:54:05

    That is, if RWA does not recognize epublished authors as professionally published within its own guidelines, authors supporting that policy can be construed as indirectly suggesting the same thing, even if they do not believe that epubbed authors are not professionally published.

    Just two weeks ago, a young woman in my chapter was accepted into PAN. She is entirely epublished. So I cannot possibly see how “RWA does not recognize epublished authors as professionally published within its own guidelines.”

    They DO recognize epublished authors as long as they make a certain amount of money on one title. This has nothing to do with recognizing AUTHORS–it has to do with recognizing PUBLISHERS.

    Or am I wrong?

    Well, I’m not wrong about my friend getting into PAN because well, she’s my friend and I’m the PAN Chair for my chapter, so I know this to be true.

  63. BevBB
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 14:59:56

    I am a troll?

    Wow.

  64. Jane
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 15:07:01

    @BevBB U is simple minded reader AND a troll. So not JUST a troll. Does that make you feel better? I suppose if I continued to not “understand” others in this thread because I didn’t agree with them, I’d be a troll just like you.

  65. GrowlyCub
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 15:21:03

    Hey, Bev!

    Come join me in my den. You’ll be in good company as we’ll invite Robin and Jane, too, and all the other readers and e-published authors who just don’t get it according to all those authors who make a living off their advances.

    *headdesk*

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, sometimes the internet is really not good for reader-author relations when authors show total disdain for their potential readers so blatantly.

  66. BevBB
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 15:22:43

    @Jane: Yeah, I suppose.

    But what I really want to know is whether a bridge comes with the, um, elevation in status. Those things can be quite profitable. :D

  67. Robin
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 15:22:49

    @JulieLeto: I think there’s a tension between the publisher and author issue, though, because while RWA leadership does not like the epublishing model, for whatever reason, how can that not be transferred to its authors? Note this comment. In her case, it’s the small press that’s being marginalized, but I think the principle is the same. And I suspect that if all of a sudden RWA decided to flip its policy 180 degrees and welcome the epub model over the advanced based print model, print authors would feel very personally snubbed and not served by the org.

    Oh, and more generally, can I just say that Bev BB is NOT a troll; in fact, she’s one of the true veteran readers in the online Romance community.

  68. Jane
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 15:26:28

    @BevBB in Patricia Briggs’ world, trolls are quite powerful and not to be fucked with so I think there is some elevation in status. Clearly as a mere reader (read simpleton) any position has to be an elevation, no?

  69. BevBB
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 15:33:15

    @GrowlyCub:

    No kidding. I sometimes wonder what it would take to make romance readers organize themselves “officially”–

  70. BevBB
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 15:49:46

    Hey, there is no “mere” about being a reader. I will accept “just a reader” but mere? Uh-uh. No thank you. ;)

    What amazes me about the entire discussion is that we’re not denying what most the ones arguing for RWA’s point-of-view are saying. We’re simply saying that there’s another side to the issue that they’re overlooking.

    Can they say the same?

    As to what Kalen just said

    Seems pretty clear to me that you are, in fact, failing to grasp what I'm saying.

    Somehow I might believe that if you weren’t repeating some things I’d said myself earlier. Or if I didn’t actually say them in this thread, – admitted I loose track – they’re at least things I know concerning niche marketing and other aspects of this. Are you entirely sure you’re grasping what we’re saying?

  71. JulieLeto
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 15:53:18

    Um…I never said BevBB was a troll, so I don’t want that associated with a comment replying to me, okay?

    I still haven’t heard an answer about why an author who is epublished is less
    deserving of an advance payment for her work. Anyone going to try that one?

    Robin, it can not be transferred to its authors because the RWA board does not speak for every author…they speak for the organization of RWA. Being a member does not mean automatic agreement with everything they say or do. I’ve said over and over that I think the epublished authors have some good points (like with the RITA) but no one on the other side seems willing to see any side of the other argument. It’s all or nothing and that doesn’t seem possible or even equitable.

    Look, my bottom line is this–I want RWA to have standards. I don’t think every outfit that decides to set up shop and call themselves a publisher should be recognized as such. They should have to PROVE to the organization in some way or another that they’re going to pay their authors fairly and regularly and that they are going to distribute books in a way that will make them readily available to the public. I don’t care if they are in NYC, small press, epublisher or draw the books with crayons on a sidewalk.

  72. JulieLeto
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 15:55:24

    Hey, BevBB, I DID just say the same.

  73. GrowlyCub
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 15:59:31

    Julie,

    your question has been addressed several times with examples and math, if not in this thread then in the original one concerning this issue.

  74. JulieLeto
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 16:04:10

    Well, okay then…this is the only thread I’ve read and the only one I intend to read. I read the above example and I don’t think it addressed the whole situation of advance versus royalty. My opinion, I suppose.

  75. MaryK
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 16:04:24

    @Kalen Hughes: I’m certainly no expert (see below), but I really think it’s incorrect to judge the viability/popularity of ebooks by ereader sales. Possibly it’s a correct criterion by which to judge print-original ebooks, but not ebooks as a whole. Epubbed ebooks took off before ereaders were in widespread use.

    I am allergic to high-priced single task electronic devices. I don’t even own a smart phone because I don’t want to pay the monthly charges. I don’t believe in the durability of DRM’d media. I’m cheap, cynical, possibly even paranoid. But even I own several hundred ebooks (all epubbed of course re the DRM phobia). I read them on my laptop and wait impatiently for the perfect netbook to use as an ereader. I have favorite epubbed authors who are autobuys, and I buy new-to-me authors based on critical reviews. If I, with all my hangups, am heavily invested in ebooks, I’m sure there are many people similarly invested.

    I don’t believe that ereader owners are typical ebook readers. Has there been a poll on this?

  76. BevBB
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 16:19:13

    I still haven't heard an answer about why an author who is epublished is less
    deserving of an advance payment for her work. Anyone going to try that one?

    Is it really about being less deserving or is it about that being the way their publisher works and yours don’t?

    Okay, here’s what I’m “hearing” over and over again in this discussion:

    The advance model works for print publishing and should stay in place. I don’t think anyone here is disagreeing with that.

    Where print books are being epublished then there’s some middle ground for negotiation because then there’s possibility the advance model is in danger of being challenged – buy not necessarily by epublishers but rather by NY mainstream publishers experimenting with revenue streams that may or may involve epublishers as distributors. Take your frustrations out on those mainstream publishers, not the electronic publishers and authors who are in essense the middle men in that equation.

    But where epublishers are using their royalty model to market their own products and it’s working, where is the problem? Where is the threat to the status quo?

    Just food for thought from “just a reader” who’s listened to these discussions for a lot of years and who also, by the way ,has background in in printing & graphic communications. I may not be an expert on book publishing specifically but I know what it takes to produce a “printed” product and you’re never going to convince me that the publishers themselves are looking at producing the electronic books the same way they are the print ones. They may be slow to evolve but cutting costs is the bottom line for any business model.

    RWA is burying their heads in the sands if they believe that they will not have to deal with this eventually.

  77. Robin Bayne
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 16:28:02

    @JulieLeto–I am happy for your friend but being accepted into PAN does not guarantee you won’t later be kicked out when the rules are changed. It happened to me.

  78. JulieLeto
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 16:29:32

    Is it really about being less deserving or is it about that being the way their publisher works and yours don't?

    Again with the assumptions about my motives and opinions. YES, it is about being less deserving. It’s about an author being paid in advance of putting her blood, sweat and tears into a book. It’s about a publisher investing in their product before it is commissioned, not afteward. It’s about authors making $$. END OF STORY. I have no other agenda. I am not jealous of epublished authors, nor am I afraid of them–except that I am afraid that not getting an advance for my work will become standard publishing practice as the ebook and print worlds merge and that scares the crap out of me. This practice is only advantageous to the publisher!

    I will not apologize for wanting to be paid for my time, even if it’s only a deposit on potential earnings.

  79. JulieLeto
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 16:34:46

    @Robin…That doesn’t mean she isn’t recognized now as a published author by RWA.

    You claimed RWA doesn’t recognize epublished authors as published and that is patently untrue, no matter what might or might not happen in the future.

  80. Robin Bayne
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 16:39:38

    @JulieLeto–If you were replying to me—-There must be another Robin here, I never claimed that at all. I just jumped in with my own PAN experience.

  81. BevBB
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 16:43:53

    I still haven't heard an answer about why an author who is epublished is less
    deserving of an advance payment for her work. Anyone going to try that one?

    Is it really about being less deserving or is it about that being the way their publisher works and yours don't?

    Again with the assumptions about my motives and opinions. YES, it is about being less deserving.

    How is asking an honest question in response to something you posited as making assumptions about anyone’s motives or opinions?

    And, frankly, you answered the question. You see them as being less deserving.

  82. SandyW
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 17:05:21

    @JulieLeto:

    Just two weeks ago, a young woman in my chapter was accepted into PAN. She is entirely epublished. So I cannot possibly see how “RWA does not recognize epublished authors as professionally published within its own guidelines.”
    They DO recognize epublished authors as long as they make a certain amount of money on one title. This has nothing to do with recognizing AUTHORS-it has to do with recognizing PUBLISHERS.

    Congratulations to your friend. That is a significant accomplishment. So, will she be entering her latest book in the Ritas? When Ms. Pershing commented on how “career-focused authors” do things and contrasted that to the “digital model,” was your friend clear where she was classified? If she goes to the Nationals and another writer asks about her publisher, will your friend be able to recommend her publisher as an RWA Eligible Publisher? Or is it just “you're on your own, good luck.”

    Does your friend pay the same dues every year as the print-published, advance-paid writers?

  83. Robin
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 17:11:28

    @JulieLeto: THAT’s what you got from that woman’s story? Seriously?

    You are right that PAN authors are considered published under RWA regardless of what book qualifies them. I’ll give you that one. But I don’t think that invalidates my point that RWA’s dismissal of the epublishing model similarly de-legitimates its authors. I honestly don’t know how you can see it any other way.

    re. the advance issue, since you clearly see it as an issue of “deserving,” what could anyone possibly say that could convince you that many others do not see the advance issue within the same paradigm as you at all? That it’s simply a different business model that works very well for some other authors? That the shorter timeline to publication combined with the large royalty rate is as appealing to some authors as the advance model is to you? You don’t want to read anything else about the epublishing model, so in a sense I think your question is a trick one, because it has no answer outside the terms of your supposition that authors “deserve” advances.

    I haven’t seen anyone here advocating the end of the advance-based publishing model, but I have seen people bringing in many, many examples of how digital technology *is* changing the market in ways that will affect authors like you who are firmly planted in that model. You don’t need to have any interest in those changes, but I think part of the argument from the other side is that a paradigm shift is currently occurring, and that there is an opportunity right now for authors to take advantage of the changes afoot, rather than having them take advantage of you later.

    ETA: I second the comment regarding the RITAs — yet another way in which a RWA caste system remains in place between traditional NY pubbed authors and ebook authors (what I described elsewhere as the “haves” and “have nots”).

  84. JulieLeto
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 17:12:50

    You see them as being less deserving.

    Okay, BevBB, now I AM wondering if you’re being a TROLL.

    PAY ATTENTION:

    E published authors are NOT less deserving of an advance. They are JUST AS DESERVING. They are writers and writers deserved to be paid, no matter how their book is published. (See my reference to crayons and sidewalks.)

    It’s so frustrating to try and have a conversation when people seem to be intentionally misunderstanding what I’m saying. I thought I was being perfectly clear. No, I KNOW I was perfectly clear.

  85. GrowlyCub
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 17:14:03

    And another couple of authors make it into the ‘authors behaving badly’ hall of shame.

    And all because we readers were advocating for equal rights for authors who use a different publishing model that works for *them*.

  86. GrowlyCub
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 17:18:29

    Okay, any friend of Ms. Leto should start making phone calls now, please! This is a trainwreck.

  87. JulieLeto
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 17:27:01

    Sandy, I’ve already said that I think that she should be able to enter the RITAs. About a gazillion times. I’ve written to the board on behalf of epublished authors in PAN and how they should be able to enter the RITAs.

    As to the rest…well, I don’t know about her publisher. If publishers want to be recognized, then let them do what it takes. That’s my outlook. I can’t speak for her except to say that she published with them with her eyes wide open and knew that if she sold to them, she might not be able to join PAN, that her publisher was not recognized, etc and none of it mattered. She had her own reasons for going that route–reasons that I think are totally valid.

    For me, it’s not all or nothing. I can agree with some points and not agree with others. Clearly, that’s not the case for everyone.

  88. Jackie Barbosa
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 17:27:51

    You know, I really feel that Julie is being unfairly tarred and feathered here.

    She thinks all authors should receive a guaranteed payment for their work. That doesn’t make her a big meanie who’s against epublished authors. It doesn’t mean she thinks they’re “illegitimate” or unprofessional.

    In some fundamental sense, I agree with her that authors whose ebooks are regularly pulling in five figure royalties ought to be able to demand some of that payment up front. Why shouldn’t they? Even with the higher royalty percentage offered by digital publishers, if they’ve proven their ability to make money for the publisher, the publisher might return the favor by paying them upfront. And if you don’t think that’s an issue, why have so many very successful e-authors not merely crossed over to NY publishing, but actually decamped entirely from epublishing? (Hint: Because they make better money in NY and, gasp, get paid some of it before the book is published.)

    That said, I also think demanding epublishers pay an advance of $1,000 on everything they contract would effectively turn them from small presses that can take chances on risky books/subject matter/length into NY’s mini-me’s, forced to offer contracts only on those books they are sure will earn out their advances and thus less capable of finding new niche markets and the readers who are hungry for those books.

    And I don’t see that as a consummation devoutly to be wished, either.

  89. JulieLeto
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 17:28:56

    Oh, please…I am not “behaving badly.” I have an opinion, but yet again, having an opinion that is contrary to the popular tenor of this blog gets me called out? And this helps us have a dialogue…how?

  90. Robin Bayne
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 17:32:08

    I agree, Jackie, all authors deserve an advance. All are deserving if they produce a good book.

  91. JulieLeto
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 17:32:29

    Thanks, Jackie, for actually hearing what I’m saying and expanding on it. You’ve given me some food for thought in regards to the riskier books. I don’t have an opinion on how that can be reconciled, but it is a good point.

  92. Moriah Jovan
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 17:34:49

    Oh gosh. Am I really wading into this?

    I must.

    Julie Leto said:

    I still haven't heard an answer about why an author who is epublished is less deserving of an advance payment for her work.

    By my read, Julie is asking why e-published authors don’t get advances. She wonders if the e-publishing companies consider them less deserving. She is NOT saying that they’re less deserving.

    Now. Having cleared that up, all I have to say is, yes, you probably should be afraid that advances are going to go bye bye.

    The natural history of the advance thus far: It was once given at signing. Then it was split between signing date and turn-in date. Now it’s in three and four and five, perhaps six parts. Yeah, it’s going to go away because it’s been going away for a long while.

    I’m not sure what a “livable advance” is when one has taxes and one is expected to market oneself (costs money to do that), but some of the figures I’ve seen don’t impress me. In practical dollar terms, except for a select few, it’s a moot point.

  93. Robin
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 17:47:39

    @JulieLeto:

    If publishers want to be recognized, then let them do what it takes.

    I think this is the crux of the dispute (or at least one). On the one hand you have RWA’s view that publishers should conform to their definition of a legitimate publisher. On the other hand you have the view that epublishing models are just as legitimate and a frustration that what many see as legitimate differences are not even being recognized as such by RWA leadership. And that in the same way advances are seen to protect authors in NY-based models, the high royalty rate is seen to do the *equivalent* in epresses. That doesn’t mean authors should feel compelled to pursue epubs themselves or that NY should adopt that model, but it also doesn’t mean that advances are the *only* way to protect authors.

    It also doesn’t mean that every epress would be considered a good publisher or one that RWA would want to endorse. But to discount a different business model without even investigating how it serves its authors is not, in some people’s opinion, protecting the interests of the breadth of RWA members. And unfortunately, so many of the statements made by RWA leadership on epublishing do not indicate that a comprehensive examination of the epub business model has been conducted, which has similarly exacerbated frustration from some quarters. If RWA wants to be the organization of advanced-based print published authors, then they should just be that and stop including anyone beyond that scope.

  94. BevBB
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 18:42:44

    Okay, BevBB, now I AM wondering if you're being a TROLL.

    Hmmm.

    Julie, when I quoted your statement that you see them as being less deserving I knew you weren’t talking about eauthors but about epublishers. It’s an opinion that’s been expressed so often about this issue I saw no need to state the obvious yet again.

    If that makes me a troll in people’s eyes then maybe I’m not the one who needs to pay attention or immediately assume misunderstanding.

  95. JulieLeto
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 18:46:40

    BevBB, you’re still misunderstanding. The epublishers are less deserving of advances…how does that make sense? Others here seem to understand me just fine. I don’t know why you refuse to read what I’m saying–unless you’re trying to put me in a bad light. Whatever. People will have to read my comments and statements and decide for themselves.

  96. Robin
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 18:48:25

    Hey, does this mean what I think it does:

    8.2.2. President-Elect. Candidates for President-Elect must: (1) have been general members for a minimum of three consecutive years immediately preceding filing for office, (2) be the author or co-author of at least five published romance novels as defined in RWA policy, (3) have contracted to publish at least one romance novel with an RWA-Recognized Publisher, as defined in RWA policy, within the four years immediately preceding filing for office, and (4) cannot have more than six years of accumulated Board service.

  97. JulieLeto
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 18:51:48

    Robin, I hear you…but I think the assumption that RWA has not investigated the epublishing model is erroneous. I am close friends with someone who served on several years ago and they had a committee that did the research that I think you want them to do. I know another committee more recently did the same. It was that research that I understand led to the change that allowed epublished authors to enter PAN if they made a certain amount of money. That’s relatively new. Change does happen.

    My guess is that the recommendations from the committees simply aren’t playing out the way epublished authors seem to want…but that doesn’t mean that RWA isn’t doing it’s research. Doesn’t mean they aren’t open to it. Maybe it’s time to do it again–that I’ll buy. That I’ll support. But just because they investigate something doesn’t mean they have to change. The best thing that people who want change can do is facilitate the information you want RWA to have–not to scream at people and call them “authors behaving badly.” Doesn’t really do a lot for the argument, you know?

  98. GrowlyCub
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 18:51:55

    Oh, please…I am not “behaving badly.” I have an opinion, but yet again, having an opinion that is contrary to the popular tenor of this blog gets me called out? And this helps us have a dialogue…how?

    Having an opinion did not get you called out.

    The way you expressed that opinion by calling a participant in this discussion, who was trying to communicate how your expression of opinion came across, a ‘troll’, by shouting at her using caps and by being condescending in implying that the participant wasn’t paying attention, *that* got you called out by me.

    I understand perfectly that you feel only publishers who pay an advance are good publishers. I happen to disagree and I object to your assertion that RWA is acting in the best interest of its membership by agreeing with your stance that not paying an advance is somehow making a publisher less viable, less ethical and less desirable to *all* writers. I understand it makes it totally undesirable to you and I respect your decision for yourself.

    However, I strongly feel that the way you have expressed your opinion was derogatory towards those authors who feel that the non-advance, higher royalty rate model is working for them.

    I understand that you are scared that this model might take hold, because you worry that it will negatively impact you. However, change is inevitable, it’s happening all around you right now and publishers will *always* look out for themselves first.

    Hence, my disagreement with RWA’s stance on failing to educate its membership (unpublished, e-published and print-published) about their rights, and *all* their options.

    What I feel will happen is that print authors who consider their e- market share as negligible will not insist on higher e- royalty rates and will set a bad precedent for themselves and all print authors who come after them in which the publishers get more money than they should and in which the authors will be unable to earn a living wage when e- becomes a much larger share than it is now, advance or not.

  99. Anne Douglas
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 19:09:31

    Okay, here is one of my issues:

    YES, it is about being less deserving. It's about an author being paid in advance of putting her blood, sweat and tears into a book. It's about a publisher investing in their product before it is commissioned, not afteward

    This is one of the BIG differences between ePublishing and NY Print, and a point I wonder if authors who have not been ePubbed understand. In Epub the majority of authors do not sell on proposal (for most of the epublishers as I understand it, but there are occasions and vary by author/publisher), they are selling completed manuscripts.

    This means there is a rather big hole in the ‘get paid money to write the book’ scenario. Because we don’t get paid to write, and that changes the whole dynamic of the process. It also means the author dynamic changes somewhat also as ePub authors are not bound in the same way by advances/contracts/deadlines/rewrites. If you think back to that first sale, Julie/long standing NY Pub Authors, you didn’t get paid to write that book – you got paid for having written the book. ePublishing has just kept with that process – like freelance journalism I guess?

    NY publishers have had decades, if not centuries to build the financial backing to carry an author until the product is supplied. ePub has not had that time. Two different models, one that makes a significant difference in keeping a small publishing company alive by not overextending itself. And you can’t say NY is not having issues keeping in the black lately (but that is more than just do authors get an advance or not).

    Frankly, it’s as simple as ePubs choosing not to carry authors as they create the product (as NY does once that first book is sold), but choosing to buy the finished product. And from that two different payment models have developed.

    I can’t totally agree with the “would wouldn’t expect something for free” analogy. I don’t pay my plumber/handyman/renovator/manufacturer etc etc etc before the job is done or the goods are delivered. I don’t expect my pay at the beginning of the week from an employer, but at the end, once I have completed a weeks work. Print publishing is one of the few places it’s expected to be the opposite…

    Julie:

    Anne's attempt to put emotionally-charged words in my mouth notwithstanding.

    This wasn’t my intent. The question I asked was in relation to a number of your preceding posts and my reaction to them. I could have walked away with “what a freaking B*tch”, but chose to ask if that was your intent. I don’t agree with some of your rationale, but I was glad to hear my gut reaction was wrong.

  100. JulieLeto
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 19:09:59

    Growly, okay…you don’t like how I expressed my opinion. That’s YOUR opinion. I’ve tried to be reasonable and professional. Just the fact that you said that I don’t think that non-advance paying publishers are good publishers shows that my message isn’t getting across. My fault? Your fault?

    I also said that some publishers who do pay advances aren’t good publishers…paying an advance is not the end-all, be-all of a good publisher. I said a lot of things that are supportive of the goals of this change movement, but those things were either ignored or twisted around. Hmmm…doesn’t really make me want to keep listening to the other side, asking questions and exploring the whole subject further.

    I don’t think my questions or my comments were derogatory toward epublished authors or the majority of commenters here. Robin, Jackie & I were having a good talk. I admit I lost my patience BevBB, who seemed bound and determined to twist my words around.

    Want to make me into your villain? Go ahead. But I can assure you that demonizing authors who are willing to listen–authors who have written to the board, who serve on their local chapter boards, who truly care about the other members of RWA no matter their “status”–will not help the cause. Bullying isn’t going to get you the outcome you want. Not with me, at least.

  101. BevBB
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 19:15:45

    @JulieLeto:

    BevBB, you're still misunderstanding. The epublishers are less deserving of advances…how does that make sense? Others here seem to understand me just fine. I don't know why you refuse to read what I'm saying-unless you're trying to put me in a bad light. Whatever. People will have to read my comments and statements and decide for themselves.

    Then maybe I should have said that you see the epublishers as less deserving of recognition because they don’t give those advances which the authors are deserving of.

    Now do you think I understand?

  102. JulieLeto
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 19:16:27

    Anne, I hear you…and I’m sorry if I reacted strongly to your question.

    Your point about freelance journalism is well taken…but if I’m not mistaken (and I could be) the best freelance journalists do get paid an advance on their stories. Not at first…but once they prove themselves worthy by whatever standard is applied by their employers, they get money. The book “Eat, Pray, Love” comes to mind–the author was a freelance journalist who wrote about how she was paid before she went off to work on a story.

    If an author is making money for a publisher…has a strong track record and sales…why wouldn’t they WANT some money upfront? Why wouldn’t they WANT to receive money before they took a risk and wrote the book? Does every epublished book an author writes get bought? Nothing is rejected? Why is the author carrying all the risk of writing a book that may not be purchased by their publisher?

    Do my questions make sense?

  103. Robin
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 19:18:37

    @JulieLeto: I agree with you that the PAN eligibility was a much needed change to the previous policy. However, I think that some would argue that RWA is already years behind the curve. Of course, I have also said numerous times that IMO authors who want change have to step up to the plate and help make it happen (as for bad behavior, I’ve seen plenty on both sides of the issue), and since this debate has been going on for years, that time is definitely here, IMO.

    Re the digital market and epublishing, if RWA has made a fair and comprehensive study of epublishing, it certainly wasn’t reflected in either of Diane Pershing’s statements, IMO. Those issues have been discussed into infinity on ESPAN, here, and elsewhere, so I won’t rehash them, but I understand why epress authors are upset over what she said as the org rep. As someone with no dog in the hunt, so to speak, I have been really surprised by some of the comments made about epublishers and ebooks. Just the irony of barring Angela James from holding a workshop at Nationals is stark IMO given the fact that she has presented at extremely prestigious events for extremely influential organizations on digital technology/market and epublishing.

    Part of me wants to argue that if, indeed, the RWA membership does not find epublishing issues interesting, that RWA leadership has a responsibility to give them a heads up on important trends in digital. But then I think about their response to the Cassie Edwards and Janet Dailey plagiarism cases and, well, that opens up an entirely new discussion about what and why and on whose behalf RWA should and shouldn’t advocate. ;)

    But I will say that on another DA thread someone posted that anyone from the general membership can run for RWA office. However, it appears from the policy I quoted above that such isn’t the case — that only members pubbed with eligible publishers can run for prez. So maybe RWA is announcing its intention to narrow its focus and membership. If that’s the case, then I hope they’re up front about it when it comes time to take in membership dues. If it’s not the case, then I think it’s problematic, to say the least.

  104. JulieLeto
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 19:29:21

    Well, as I said absolutely nothing about whether or not certain publishers deserve recognition, I can’t see how you took that from what I said.

    Here’s how I feel about publisher recognition. Not that my opinion means anything, but here it is. RWA is an organization trying to protect their members from publishers who might treat their members poorly. They have reason and precedent for this. For one, they do not have the space or the means to allow every publisher who hangs out a shingle to have time at their conference. Allowing a publisher a presence at the conference (and I’m assuming we’re only talking about the national conference, because non-recognized publishers go to regional and local conferences all the time) gives the impression that this publisher is endorsed by RWA.

    RWA knows this because when certain publishers have gone under and treated their authors poorly, the first place people complain is to RWA. “But they were at the conference! They took appointments! Now they won’t pay me! RWA, do something!” (I’m making up the dialogue…I’m a writer, it’s what I do.) But I know this has happened. Many times.

    So RWA decides they’re going to put some standards in place, to help their members through the minefield that is publishing and to make sure that the publishers with the best track record with their authors get space at the conference. This starts all kinds of trouble because those who are left out are insulted and angry. People who were recognized no longer are. Authors are kicked out of PAN.

    A lot of people are unhappy. And to some degree, rightly so. (Again, just my opinion here.)

    BUT, a lot of other people are happy because RWA has standards that are doing what they were intended to do–protecting authors from publishers with less than desirable (in their opinion) contracts, payment, distribution, whatever.

    Now, people want those standards revisited. I say why not. Go ahead and revisit the standards. Listen to the people who have issues with the status quo. I am certain RWA will do this because throughout the 20 years I’ve been a member, RWA has always listened. They may not come up with the answers people want to hear, but they listen.

    They being us, by the way. RWA is run by volunteers from its membership. I’ve served on a National committee, though not one that has dealt with this issue. I’m sure that reasoned, fact-based arguments can win people over. I hope it does.

    So, that’s my take on that, for what it’s worth…which probably isn’t much.

  105. Jackie Barbosa
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 19:34:04

    The primary problem, in my mind, between comparing the epublishing model to something like freelance journalism or a regular, salaried (or hourly rate) day job is that, while you don’t get paid until the work is done, you usually know going in how much you will actually earn. In other words, if in freelance journalism, the going rate for a piece is 5 cents a word, you know when you sell your article exactly how much you will make based on the word count. You don’t know for sure you will sell it, of course, but there’s a guaranteed rate of return if you do.

    Same with your dayjob. You may not get paid for your 40 hours until the end of the week, but you know your 40 hours are going to earn you $15 each.

    With epublishing, it is all but impossible to be SURE exactly how much you will earn on the work. You contract it to an epublisher and, in doing so, give them a share of the profit for each retail sale of your work, but you are doing so without any guarantee of how many copies will be sold or how much you will earn. And although I’ve published within this model and have not been unhappy with it, I would be HAPPIER if I could better predict my minimum earnings on a piece.

    Right now, I kind of have to assume it’s a crapshoot and I may well be selling my work for a guaranteed payment of $0. Reality is it will almost certainly be something more than that, but I can only estimate by how much. Whereas, with my Kensington title, I know precisely how much I can depend upon earning…and while it could be more, it will NEVER be less.

  106. Jennifer McKenzie
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 19:43:26

    I’m going to wade in here.
    Here’s the thing. Ms. Leto, if you’re afraid that all publishers will go with “no advance” then I’ll tell you what scares ME.
    Returns.
    Lower royalties.
    An epublisher that holds money BACK from me because of those ugly, ugly returns.
    Oh, and how about a publisher dropping me because I didn’t “sell”?
    That’s the realities of print publishing. The negative realities.
    If you see an advance as a “pro” that’s great. Just don’t forget the “cons” go along with it.
    Yes, epublished authors “deserve” everything they can get. BUT every business model has its plus and minuses.
    The problem with the RWA’s attitude currently is that it specifies that ONE business model is “accepted” and the other one is not, as evidenced by the organizations refusal of Angela James’s participation in the conference and the new contest rules.

  107. JulieLeto
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 19:52:51

    Jennifer, trust me…I don’t forget the cons. EVER. I deal with them every single day.

    And here’s the thing–I’m not saying that RWA’s current position is entirely right. (I’m not saying mine is entirely right…it is what it is.) What I do agree with is that publishers have to meet some standards. Maybe those standards need to be revisited again. I’m cool with that. It’s a process…an ever-changing one, apparently, as publishing goes through change after change. But RWA is a big organization and you can’t expect them to effect immediate change simply because some members want it so. They have to serve the entire population of writers–many of whom aren’t even online and don’t even know about epublishing, as well as those who are print published and those who have been successful at epublishing.

  108. JulieLeto
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 19:58:48

    Jackie, again, I’m with you. I just believe, no matter the distribution method, that authors should have some guarantee of some amount of money for their work. I cannot fathom why this is wrong.

  109. MaryK
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 20:30:40

    This reminds me of the arguments over the HEA in Romance. Some people think there must be an epilogue with babies and a picket fence and other people prefer/are okay with no epilogue and the promise of a happy future.

  110. curious
    Jun 25, 2009 @ 03:14:39

    I don’t think it is necessarily wrong where you are coming from JulieL, and it is admirable. But where are a lot of people are coming from is that the current model is working for the e-publishers and authors are benefiting as well, yes some better than others.. but print is the same.
    Even if the e-pubs did advances, IMO it would severely impact on what is so great about them and what is making their popularity grow so quickly – the number and variety of stories that they sign up. As they would have to tighten up like print and only let smaltzy sameness stuff through, reader hat on, stamping feet ‘ell no! And again a lot of authors would be locked out of the opportunity, like many of certain sub-genres are already with not really having a home in the general print market.

    No, money is not guaranteed with ebooks, but this is where education comes in handy, if they pick a half decent publishing house – that has a customer base and does work to promote their authors, and the author knows a little bit about self promo themselves money can be made.
    But with ebooks you also have a longer shelf life – ie. not just 3 months on the store shelves… and no secondhand book stores.. ;) That is not worded well, but hey..

    And I is still curious as to why it is better to work two jobs for nine years waiting for that NY deal, when you could maybe cut back down to one job (or none) publishing online, gaining a readership and polishing the craft and making some money at it.

    And I should stop reading these blogs after a long and carpy day at work.. cos I probably make no sense, and either am mindlessly repeating things (I have been reading too many blogs on this lately. *blush*) or miss making my point by a mile..
    Sorry!

  111. Silke
    Jun 25, 2009 @ 03:53:06

    You know, I’ve said before, if RWA wants to remain the way it is, then perhaps they should adopt the same entry requirements as SFWA.
    Of course, that would mean no unpublished authors at all.
    They will argue that they are open to unpublished authors in order to educate — but really… I want to know exactly what an unpublished author gets out of RWA, if they are not near a local chapter and can’t afford to go to very expensive conferences.
    The decision of unpublished being allowed was always one of money.
    Because if they weren’t there… how many members would RWA actually have left?

    “A dying people tolerates the present, rejects the future, and finds its satisfactions in past greatness and half remembered glory” (Steinbeck)
    I thought this was very appropriate.

    As more and more writers are published electronically, the numbers within RWA grow. Those numbers will (if they don’t already) eventually be greater than those who do not have a book out in digital form (even alongside print).

    It makes sense to understand what is involved and how it works.
    It does *not* make sense to dismiss an entire market as unviable, because of the payment model the publisher offers.

  112. Stevie
    Jun 25, 2009 @ 07:09:45

    Julie

    I found this on your rather out-of-date website:

    ‘Some people might think I'm jumping on the paranormal bandwagon, changing from sexy contemporary novels to ghosts and goblins in order to cash in on the trend. I'm afraid that's not the case. In fact, this book was conceived of over fifteen years ago.’

    It occurs to me that if you had been a little more open to alternative business models you might have been one of the people who created the paranormal bandwagon in the first place…

  113. Frances
    Jun 25, 2009 @ 08:14:55

    SFWA has a good many electronic publishers/markets on their “qualified markets” list. Primarily in the short fiction category, but … there they are.
    If, as stated, the professional organization is only concerned with the quality and viability of a publisher, then shouldn’t they keep an eye on epublishers as they change and expand and *consider* qualifying those that stand out as legitimate?
    At the same time, what’s fair is fair, let’s have a look at some of those less-than-quality print publishing houses and rate them individually as well.
    Why a blanket bias against e-pub?
    Whatever the goals of a governing body, it pays to heed the interests of the membership…at least listen very very intently.
    I was at a conference attended by many authors in various levels from still struggling to published, ALL of them were at the least intensely curious about electronic publishing. At an agent’s (a well respected agent) seminar, one author asked a question about e-publishing. Her answer was: “I’m not going to talk about e-publishing.” and she went on with her talk.
    ???????
    This kind of “I dont see it, and you can’t make me” attitude is the problem, not the semantics. I don’t think anyone wants blanket acceptance or instant change,
    but for heaven’s sake, pretending something doesn’t exist??
    As for blanket statements, ie: ebooks simply are lower quality (and call it editing, writing, whatever you like) I think that was true a few years ago, maybe. It isn’t now. New technology changes at amazing speeds. This thing is evolving fast. A lot of literary professionals are going on information they worked out at the start, last year, last month. Welcome to the digital age, you can’t rely on last month’s data.
    Whatever one’s opinion on the matter, I say, keep an eye on this thing and just watch what happens.
    ~Frances

  114. veinglory
    Jun 25, 2009 @ 08:39:02

    Paying an advance is not a part of the epublishing model. I aim to make at least $1000 for each book and in most cases I have. The fact that it is not via an advance is not important to me, I don’t see why others should insist I change my mind on that. I find receiving my money on a monthly basis a real convenience.

  115. Jackie Barbosa
    Jun 25, 2009 @ 08:49:13

    Frances wrote:

    SFWA has a good many electronic publishers/markets on their “qualified markets” list. Primarily in the short fiction category, but … there they are. If, as stated, the professional organization is only concerned with the quality and viability of a publisher, then shouldn't they keep an eye on epublishers as they change and expand and *consider* qualifying those that stand out as legitimate?

    SFWA’s requirements for considering a publisher “qualified,” copied right from their website, are as follows:

    * Payment for all works of fiction (other than reprints or serializations), either in advance of publication or on publication, at the rate of either (a) at least $2000 for a single work or (b) at least 5c/word (3c/word before 1/1/2004); and

    * Must have published consistently for a period of at least one year before the market will be considered qualifying; and

    * Must have a print run or circulation of at least 1000 copies, or the equivalent in other media (e.g., demonstrated downloads in electronic media); and

    * Is not self-publication, vanity press, or other type of author-paid or fee-charging press, as demonstrated such as (1) by having published at least ten distinct works by different natural persons during the date range; and (2) by authors not having paid or been requested to pay fees or give consideration of any kind.

    In other words, none of the digital presses we’re discussing with respect to RWA’s qualification guidelines would be eligible under SFWA’s rules, either. In fact, RWA’s rules are arguably more relaxed than SFWA’s.

    Bottom line, RWA’s publisher eligibility rules have nothing whatsoever to do with the delivery format for the work and everything to do with ensuring authors are paid for their work. They are not deliberately discriminating against epublishers just because they are “e.”

    Now, I think that with the changes in publishing, all writers’ organizations may need to reconsider their rules for determining publishers’ and authors’ status, but frankly, it’s hard to argue that RWA is way “out of step” with other, similar organizations out there.

  116. JulieLeto
    Jun 25, 2009 @ 09:26:53

    Wow…thanks. Nothing better than signing on and finding out that people are trolling the internet to find out stuff about me so they can judge my career choices.

    I wouldn’t trade those nine years for anything. I learned a lot and I happened to love both of my two jobs. They were hard to leave. But I had a career goal and I stuck to it. And for the record, epublishing didn’t even exist when I was starting out. Not that I would have done it–I wouldn’t have. It didn’t match my personal professional goals. (Books in print, in a bookstore, wide distribution, mass market, not niche.)

    By waiting, I ended up working for one of the best editors in the business. She helped me launch my career and my first book was a bestseller for Harlequin Temptation that year. I have no regrets whatsoever.

    And I’m glad I didn’t sell that paranormal story idea to a small press or epublisher. First of all, in the original version, but book wasn’t good enough. I didn’t have the skill to pull it off. (I almost sold it to Silhouette, btw, but then they closed the line it was aimed at. So I’m glad I didn’t sell it and end up with an orphaned book that wasn’t the best it could have been.)

    Secondly, I ended up selling it to a major publisher for pretty good money and wide distribution to readers. It’s not niche. It’s mainstream. That’s what I wanted. That’s what I got. By showing some patience and keeping true to my own goals.

    My choice to be print published should not be interpreted as an insult to epublishing. One has nothing to do with the other.

  117. BevBB
    Jun 25, 2009 @ 10:04:29

    Wow…thanks. Nothing better than signing on and finding out that people are trolling the internet to find out stuff about me so they can judge my career choices.

    Julie, that paragraph Stevie quoted is on the Coming Soon page of your own website. How is it “trolling” the Internet to accept information directly from the author?

  118. Stevie
    Jun 25, 2009 @ 10:17:37

    Julie

    I think you meant ‘trawling’, not ‘trolling’, and if you object to readers reading your remarks on your website then the sensible thing to do would be not to write those remarks on your website in the first place.

    It would be even more sensible to keep your website up to date, so that potential purchasers of your stories would not be confronted with someone whose apparent last gasp attempt at the big-time consisted of a fifteen year old story rehashed for publication in 2008.

    We all know that there are a lot of authors who made it and lost it, though the RWA tends not to dwell on that sad fact; anyone coming across your website in its present state is likely to assume that you are one of them.

    I shudder to think what Miss Snark would have to say on the subject…

  119. JulieLeto
    Jun 25, 2009 @ 10:24:19

    Stevie, congratulations. I’m done. You have succeeded in running you off.

    Because you’ve gone where these conversations have no business going–attacking me personally. Don’t deny it. That’s what you’re doing.

    You have no idea why my website is outdated and I’m certainly not going to share it with you.

    It would be even more sensible to keep your website up to date, so that potential purchasers of your stories would not be confronted with someone whose apparent last gasp attempt at the big-time consisted of a fifteen year old story rehashed for publication in 2008.

    That’s just plain ugly. And untrue. My last book was out two weeks ago, the third in a series I created because of that “rehashed” book. I have another coming out in November, one more in June 2010 and then a three-book series in 2010 and 2011. Not that it should matter. I can have an opinion whether or not I have a gazillion books out–just like readers are allowed to have an opinion here.

    Thanks for the memories.

  120. Stevie
    Jun 25, 2009 @ 10:38:17

    Bevbb

    Thank you for noting that the info came from the author’s own website; I am bemused by the apparent belief of some of the authors posting here that our sole function in life is to tell them how wonderful they are whilst pressing large sums of money into their publishers’ hands.

    In this particular case the only review of Line of Fire coming up on google at the moment is from Dear Author, which suggests if nothing else that extra publicity might be a good thing. Just not this kind of publicity…

  121. BevBB
    Jun 25, 2009 @ 10:59:57

    You’re welcome, Stevie, and, umm, can someone say digital divide?

  122. Stevie
    Jun 25, 2009 @ 11:05:08

    Julie

    I appreciate that you may wish to believe that my comments are a personal attack on you, as opposed to a rebuttal of the claims you have made, but I really don’t give a toss about you as a human being. It is the writing that matters, not the person pounding the keys.

    You have claimed, at length, to be a professional writer which means you should know how words work; if you think that people reading your website have some sort of psychic power which enables them to know that you have recent releases then you have spent too much time in the paranormal and need to reacquaint yourself with reality.

    People look at what is there, and if what is there is old they assume that’s all there was. They do not head off to Amazon and run searches just in case you are channelling from beyond the grave.

    And if you have convinced yourself that they do then the RWA really does need to improve the educational service it provides to its members…

  123. Tessa Dare
    Jun 25, 2009 @ 12:12:37

    Why should we argue over the supremacy of advance versus high-royalty, as if there must be one ring to rule them all? Aren’t we, as professional writers, best served by having a wide variety of choices available to us? Choices are power.

    Take, for example, the writer whose stories cater to a niche market, and though NY editors may praise her writing, they can’t offer a contract because the publisher can’t feel assured of making back the investment. Well, that writer now has a choice. She can choose to write something more mainstream and earn the NY advance, or she can choose to publish with an e-press, which can take on more risky material by virtue of keeping low production overhead and NOT paying advances. I’m not saying one of the choices is better than the other. But isn’t it great that the choice exists? And perhaps she can do both, and succeed in both – even better!

    Or, as I’ve seen it posited will happen in the not-too-distant future…say an author has achieved a degree of success where she can be reasonably assured that a certain % of her devoted readers will follow her anywhere. She could choose to keep publishing with her NY house for a 8-10% royalty, or she could keep more control in her own hands and publish digitally for a 30-40% royalty, but no advance. Yes, she’d be assuming more personal risk, but there are circumstances where a certain amount of entrepreneurial risk may be worth the potential benefit. And no matter what–just having that choice available to her gives her leverage in negotiating contracts.

    In either situation, the author has a larger measure of control over her own creative process and income. Isn’t that a good thing? Why would we not want a variety of viable publishing models to coexist? As a career writer, I would hope my professional organization would give me unbiased and reliable information about all my options and then trust me to make the choices myself.

  124. Robin
    Jun 25, 2009 @ 12:51:59

    Why should we argue over the supremacy of advance versus high-royalty, as if there must be one ring to rule them all? Aren't we, as professional writers, best served by having a wide variety of choices available to us? Choices are power.

    Absolutely. I understand why authors see the advance as a guarantee, and since it’s been the dominant publishing model most author are used to, I understand the investment. I particularly understand why midlist and new authors see it as desirable.

    But I guess I want to broaden the inquiry a little — that is, an advance might be a guarantee for the author, but a) its value is related to its amount, and for those authors earning low advances, is it lucrative?, b) it’s an estimate of income earned, not a bonus, so if the author doesn’t earn beyond or can’t sell another book, it’s not security past one book, c) the author gives up *significant* and *substantial* rights in exchange for that advance, and d) the author is basically indentured to the publisher and dependent on the editing, packaging, and marketing the publisher does or doesn’t do. And that’s just to start.

    For authors who are a) trying to sell completed manuscripts, b) trying to sell shorter works that are not necessarily short stories but are also not full novel length, c) trying to sell works that are riskier in the eyes of NY publishing, d) trying to sell to certain niche markets, epublishing might seem like the more secure investment, especially if the author can negotiate a high royalty rate. Of course epublishing contains risks to, both for publisher and author, and perhaps because epresses are so present online, when there’s a scandal or a problem, we hear about it online more readily than we do about problems w/ NY or small print pubs.

    In any case, I would argue that different publishing models offer *different kinds* of security and risks, and that what seems best for one author will not seem best for another. And that both can be absolutely right and reasonable in their perception.

  125. Robin
    Jun 25, 2009 @ 13:00:08

    Julie, I think I understand why you were upset by Stevie’s comments, but I honestly don’t think she was aiming a personal attack at you, certainly not if the comparison w/in this thread is calling someone a troll (not making any accusations here, just noting that IMO calling someone a troll can be construed as distinctly personal).

    Perhaps authors are surprised that for many readers, the author’s website is the place we go when we become aware of a new-to-us author, and that we hardly consider is trolling or trawling, because, well, we assume that’s why the author has a website to begin with. Regarding the updated (or not) nature of the website, I think Stevie was suggesting that *the site made it seem like you have not published lately* not that she was calling you a has-been. And all I can say is that as a reader I depend on an author’s website, too, as the primary source of information about an author’s past and upcoming releases. Authors may wish it were otherwise, but at least you guys have total control over your websites.

  126. azteclady
    Jun 25, 2009 @ 13:49:12

    Just a note on websites: a recently updated website and/or blog is one of the things that come up every time readers speak of what they wish authors to do/have.

  127. Susanna Kearsley
    Jun 25, 2009 @ 15:15:27

    I don’t like conflict. Really, really don’t like it. But there’s one thing I just feel I have to say, even if it’s not wholly on topic…

    I’ve been steadily published for fifteen years now, and have been fortunate enough to have been self-supporting (from my writing) for thirteen of those years, thanks mostly to the fact that my books tend to get bought by several publishers in several countries (just not, for some reason, the US :-)

    But I have to disagree with the comment that somebody made way upthread about publication being the difference between a “professional” writer and a “non-professional” one.

    Personally, I don’t believe — and never have — that a writer has to be published to be a professional. Long before my own first publication I was focused on my writing as a craft and a career. Being a professional, IMHO, has everything to do with the drive and dedication of a writer and the way that one conducts oneself.

    A writer can be unpublished and still be a writer, deserving of the respect and support of his or her peers.

    That’s all that I’m saying.

  128. Essa
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 07:43:34

    I’m on my third (print) published book. I’m one of those people who thought I’d have to be drug kicking and screaming into the digital age, but then my husband bought a Kindle. And my daughter (who has a form of dyslexia) absolutely loved it. All of a sudden we’re a two e-reader family and we’re fighting over them. And I’m thinking, maybe there is something to this model for the future, even for those of us who write outside of the most popular genres for epublished fiction.

    I’m a member of RWA and I agree that there definitely needs to be change. Some of the rules are patently unfair (the GH and Rita comes to mind). And yet, I do believe that there have to be better guidelines for publishers in order to protect all the members of the RWA. Traditionally published, digitally published, and especially those who will be published in the future.

    I don’t think that the guidelines that we have now work. But I’m so saddened that we’re creating an us and them mentality, or an us and them and them mentality when you add readers into the mix. It should be a “What’s best for all of us?” mentality.

  129. Writing Roundup, June 26 « Jen’s Writing Journey
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 13:22:03

    [...] The Case for #RWAChange The romance world is still reeling from the back-and-forth between RWA leadership and membership regarding e-publishers. Jane from Dear Author pulled together a nice collection of posts on the topic. [...]

  130. Arwen
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 13:27:58

    I think the personal attacks are very uncalled for. Julie Leto is a professional and a damned good writer. I am appalled to see such a nasty thing said, really I am.

    This isn’t an “us or them” situation. This is an all-of-us problem. We are all affected by digital publishing rights.

    The call is for education not disintegration of RWA. I am really disgusted by the nastiness. I’ve taken my fair share of potshots at the RWA Board as an entity. That does not mean that I do not know how hard the individual VOLUNTEERS on that board work.

    My beef is with the prevailing attitude that there is something inherently wrong with being e-pubbed. My beef is the prevailing attitude that RWA is serving ALL members when it is not. Those who are already e-pubbed and those whose houses are looking at and changing to a digital format choice are in this as well.

    So stop the name-calling and behave like a grownup if you can’t manage some modicum of professionalism.

    It’s about education.

    By the way, Julie Leto’s last book was out December 2008. Yes, I have met Julie. No, I am not a personal friend. I just think it’s lousy that people turn this into some way to personally attack others.

  131. Karen Templeton
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 17:02:42

    A last thought (from me, anyway):

    Different remuneration models exist for all creative endeavors, not just writing/publishing. A musician might play for donations in the subway, be hired for gigs where he gets a percentage of the club’s take for the night, or be a salaried orchestra player. An artist might paint whatever he likes, hoping to sell it at shows or through a gallery, or he might be at a stage where he’s commissioned for his work and receives an advance before he paints a single stroke. Even a baker might both offer goodies for sale in her shop as well as take orders for special occasion cakes with a down payment to cover her ingredients and labor. So both the advance/deposit model and payment-on-completion model have counterparts in other professions.

    And there’s the key word — PROFESSION. Generally, one is considered professional once one begins to get paid for the work…but how that payment happens is a) not part of the definition of professional and b) a decision made by the parties involved. No artist starting out expects someone to commission him for his work, but as his career progresses the more likely it is that he will be, and that he’ll expect part of the commission fee upfront. Even so, no one would consider him UNprofessional for producing work on his own and selling it after the fact.

    So in the writing biz, you can sell on complete, or sell on proposal…a contract very much like an artist’s or craftsperson’s commission. Since it’s customary to pay part of those commission fees upfront, I’m not sure why it seems strange to pay a contracted author part of his/her “fee” upfront, as well. Yes, I realize authors are paid from royalties and artists are paid flat fees, but as has been said several times in this thread the smart publisher has a pretty good idea how much the book will earn and will/should set the advance accordingly. But my point is, the practice of paying the artist something upfront has been in play for a long time, and I sincerely doubt the advance model’s going to go the way of the do-do bird any more than it will in any other creative industry. It may change, but it won’t disappear entirely.

    However — and here’s where I think the confusion is coming from — if most e-publishers are only buying complete works and *don’t* generally buy on proposal, that’s a whole other ballgame. That’s more akin to art shows where the artist produces work specifically to be sold at the show. He paints what he wants (or what he feels will sell — up to him), and whatever he does sell is paid for on the spot. He may prefer that method, or he may prefer to work for a graphics art firm, or maybe on commission…or even a combination of the three. But decision is up to him, and has no bearing on the quality of the work.

    Of course in publishing you can sell a complete book to a trad publisher and still get an advance while the book’s in production. In e-publishing, the turnaround is faster so an advance might not be as much of an issue, especially if royalties start coming in a month after release. There are other issues, of course, an author needs to take into consideration, i.e. how many copies are likely to sell in a smaller market, even with a higher royalty rate, but I see those as entirely separate from the advance issue.

    But it’s one thing to find a home for a book already sitting on your hard drive — or to be one of those make-one’s-head-spin prolific types who can produce a book every few weeks — quite another if the book isn’t written yet. And that’s where I think the communication has broken down, not because there are two *payment* models, or even two (or more) publishing models, but because there are two *sales* models.

    Because if one of e-publishing’s major benefits is a speedier production time (rendering, in theory, an advance unnecessary because the writer doesn’t have to wait as long for her money), that benefit gets shakier if and when e-publishers start accepting work on proposal. And *that’s* where, I’m guessing, RWA’s adamant stand re: advances is coming from — that the tradition of a down payment for commissioned/contracted work should not only be protected, but championed, because frankly I think a *proposal* contract with no advance screws the author. But that’s just me. ;-)

    However, do I think “recognition” should depend on a publisher’s payment method? To be honest, I’m not entirely sure. I do believe in standards, definitely, even if I’m not personally sure what those standards should be. I just think addressing the payment issue alone isn’t looking at the whole picture, which in turn does a disservice to members rather than advocating for them.

  132. Arwen
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 17:52:37

    And there's the key word -’ PROFESSION. Generally, one is considered professional once one begins to get paid for the work…but how that payment happens is a) not part of the definition of professional and b) a decision made by the parties involved. No artist starting out expects someone to commission him for his work, but as his career progresses the more likely it is that he will be, and that he'll expect part of the commission fee upfront. Even so, no one would consider him UNprofessional for producing work on his own and selling it after the fact.

    Karen, I think you just nailed it with this description. I also think that many of us are holding on to what we know and what has worked for us (on both sides of this pixelated gap.)

    I kinda like getting money every month. I have no head for money and budget is a four letter word (if I can count like Kara Dioguardi) to me. I would probably run out and buy something large, expensive and dumb with an advance.

    It may be that e-pub is the better model for me because of this. :)

    And that's where I think the communication has broken down, not because there are two *payment* models, or even two (or more) publishing models, but because there are two *sales* models.

    Again, this hits it for me. In fact, I think this needs to be shared with a lot of people. It’s really well thought out from where I sit!

  133. Shiloh Walker
    Jun 27, 2009 @ 08:26:26

    @curious:

    How can it be a bad thing to work towards that goal, learning more through the e-publishing process of editing etc, reader feedback, getting paid, even if it is not a great amount, and building a readership?
    It doesn't seem to have done that much harm for Shelley Laurenston, Lauren Dane, Shiloh Walker and the likes..

    It worked for me, yes. And actually, it worked well enough for me, that I was able to quit my day job within a year of publishing with EC. I worked as a nurse and I replaced that income with my writing income.

  134. Shiloh Walker
    Jun 27, 2009 @ 08:36:36

    For Julie Leto (assuming you’re still reading…if not, I understand totally)

    Yes, turn around time for epubs is much quicker. Back when I first started in epubs, I could write a novella within a few weeks and have it published within six weeks, and then money a month later. So from idea conception to receiving money, it ranged from 8-12 weeks, which is about what I wait (at the minimum) to receive money from my New York pubs.

    Now I’ve got enough of a backlist with my epubs that it provides the money I need for daily living while I try to get more established in New York. Basically, that backlist is providing for me the same way advances probably provide for you.

  135. Shiloh Walker
    Jun 27, 2009 @ 08:40:06

    @Kalen Hughes:

    I'd love to see a discussion about the viability of digital publishing in regards to authors not publishers (clearly the ePubs themselves are making money). When the topic gets brought up, the result is usually another round of “mean girl” finger pointing, rather than an actual discussion or rebuttal.

    Kalen, for me, it’s been extremely viable. After less than a year of writing for EC, I was able to quit my job as a nurse. That isn’t the case for everybody, but it can certainly work for some.

    One of the reasons is because epubs pay higher royalties. My ebook royalties range from 37.5% to 40%.

  136. Shiloh Walker
    Jun 27, 2009 @ 09:35:53

    I hate it when things to devolve down into ugliness.

    Those who were attacking Julie Leto-I’m going to assume you’re pro-epubs. Either you read them, or you write them, or both.

    So the changes RWAchange want should be a viewed as a good thing, a desirable thing.

    And as long as attacks like this happen, those changes aren’t going to happen. Ugliness doesn’t accomplish change. Mutual respect will do a hell of a lot more for those desiring change than tearing down an established, respected author who, from what I can tell, was simply sharing her reasons for why epublishing DOESN’T WORK FOR HER.

    The fact is: epublishing isn’t going to work for everybody. That’s all there is to it. It doesn’t work for everybody.

    The point of pushing for change, I thought, was to make sure RWA’s general membership is just more aware of it-as an option. Give them the info and let them decide. Isn’t that the change we want?

    If so, if you want the changes, if you want to help our cause, then please, for the love of books, stop attacking people who don’t share your same view point. Stop ATTACKING period because you’re HURTING our cause.

    If you want change, then you need to be respectful. Period. Those wanting a change need more people aware of the problem, and we need them to see our side, and when some of us are acting downright nasty, they aren’t going to see our side.

    This doesn’t have to be some ‘us’ v. ‘them’ spiel. It doesn’t, and it shouldn’t become one, and I, for one, am sick and tired of seeing some people tear it down to to that.

    I said this over at Karen Scott’s blog and I’ll repeat it here, because it’s very, very much relevant.

    This ‘us' v. ‘them' crap is just that, crap. More, it's tired, old crap and I'm sick of it. Besides, I guess if it's going to be another ‘us' v. ‘them' dance, I'm out on the sidelines, since I'm an ‘us' and a ‘them'.

    Maybe Lauren (Dane) can sit on the sidelines with and we can just have a drink, or two, or ten, while we watch it go around and then come to an abysmal end with no change.

    If it turns into another one of those, I can guarantee you, there will be no change.

    Epublished authors won't get the the respect so many of us claim to want. Thorough, unbiased information and education on epubs will not be provided by RWA to the general membership. Nothing will change.

    Frankly, if we can't carry forward in this with some level maturity and professionalism, maybe we don't deserve it. Professional treatment should be for those who display professionalism.

    That’s it-period. If the epubbed and those pushing for change can’t go forward with respect and professionalism, nothing will change. Nothing.

    For Julie Leto, if you’re reading this, I’m rather disgusted by the treatment you received. You expressed your opinion, which we are all entitled to do, and you got attacked. Believe it or not, those attacks aren’t reflective of the majority pushing for change.

  137. BevBB
    Jun 27, 2009 @ 09:52:40

    Well, huh. As someone who was called a troll – twice – on this thread and both times by “professional” authors, I’m curious as to how specifically anyone else was personally attacked. Could someone please quote those instances so I can reread them?

  138. Shiloh Walker
    Jun 27, 2009 @ 09:55:36

    Bevbb, here’s one.

    @Stevie:

    Julie

    I found this on your rather out-of-date website:

    ‘Some people might think I'm jumping on the paranormal bandwagon, changing from sexy contemporary novels to ghosts and goblins in order to cash in on the trend. I'm afraid that's not the case. In fact, this book was conceived of over fifteen years ago.'

    It occurs to me that if you had been a little more open to alternative business models you might have been one of the people who created the paranormal bandwagon in the first place…

    That was a backhanded, sly little slap. Definitely looks like an insult to me, if a politely phrased one.

  139. Shiloh Walker
    Jun 27, 2009 @ 09:57:19

    another pointed jab:
    @Stevie:

    Julie

    I appreciate that you may wish to believe that my comments are a personal attack on you, as opposed to a rebuttal of the claims you have made, but I really don't give a toss about you as a human being. It is the writing that matters, not the person pounding the keys.

    You have claimed, at length, to be a professional writer which means you should know how words work; if you think that people reading your website have some sort of psychic power which enables them to know that you have recent releases then you have spent too much time in the paranormal and need to reacquaint yourself with reality.

    People look at what is there, and if what is there is old they assume that's all there was. They do not head off to Amazon and run searches just in case you are channelling from beyond the grave.

    And if you have convinced yourself that they do then the RWA really does need to improve the educational service it provides to its members…

    Definitely a pointed jab. Her website is out of date…and that has bearing on the debate about RWA change… how??? Because I’m not seeing it.

  140. Shiloh Walker
    Jun 27, 2009 @ 10:05:14

    Bevbb, I’ve read your comments back and forth with Julie Leto, and from where I’m sitting, it seems as though you were determined to twist her words into some sort of insult against epubbed authors.

    As an epubbed author, I’m not feeling any insult.

    What I see from Julie is an advocate for authors. PERIOD. If an author is good enough to get a book published, she feels that author warrants an advance.

    Now I will stay that I don’t think Julie understand how epublishing works so well for many of us-one of the reasons is the huge royalties. We can get those, in part, because epubs keep their overhead low. Shelling out advances doesn’t help keep low overhead. It also makes it harder for epubs to take chances on newer and riskier story lines. Which is one of the great things about epubs.

    But Julie never once gave the implication that epubbed authors suck.

    She said epublishing isn’t for her. She shouldn’t have people tearing her down over that.

  141. BevBB
    Jun 27, 2009 @ 10:12:51

    Okay, then try this – author’s websites are how they project themselves to the readers online, which is very much a digital medium. If author’s don’t understand that they should be keeping them up-to-date so as to keep their readers and potential readers informed, is it not somehow logical to assume that they might not be as informed as they should be about the benefits of the digital age?

    Yes, there is a definite connection to the issue at hand and it is not a personal attack to make that observation. It is a professional observation and one I would make about any website design regardless of content. In fact, it’s one I’ve made repeatedly on this very blog. Authors who don’t keep their sites up-to-date, in particular their booklists, show how little they know about what online readers look for when they are checking for information regarding backlists and/or upcoming books.

    Yes, this about the digital divide.

  142. BevBB
    Jun 27, 2009 @ 10:16:38

    Bevbb, I've read your comments back and forth with Julie Leto, and from where I'm sitting, it seems as though you were determined to twist her words into some sort of insult against epubbed authors.

    Whether or not I understood what she was saying or simply did not agree, was it professional for her or anyone else to label me or any other commenter a “troll”? Your are the ones who are professional writers. I am just a readers.

    You want respect for your opinions. Step up to the plate, people.

  143. Jill Sorenson
    Jun 27, 2009 @ 10:24:44

    BevBB, I think you twisted Julie’s words around to make it seem as though she felt that epubbed authors deserved less respect. Not what she said, or how she feels. If you didn’t purposefully misunderstand her, I apologize. At any rate, calling someone a troll is unprofessional, I agree.

    Julie’s web site is not out of date. Her recent releases are there.

    FWIW, I think digital publishing is absolutely viable and deserving of respect. I’m an active member of my local chapter of RWA, and would support any effort to make changes. I’d like to see more inclusion and acceptance of erotic romance, GLBT, and epublishing in general.

    I believe that the current requirement of an 1,000 advance (which I am on the fence about) is an attempt to protect authors from entering contracts with disreputable epubs. A rejection from a reputable publisher (e or print) can help you grow. Publishing a book like The Claiming (sorry to heap more insult on this author!) does a great disservice.

  144. Shiloh Walker
    Jun 27, 2009 @ 10:25:45

    Okay, then try this – author's websites are how they project themselves to the readers online, which is very much a digital medium. If author's don't understand that they should be keeping them up-to-date so as to keep their readers and potential readers informed, is it not somehow logical to assume that they might not be as informed as they should be about the benefits of the digital age?

    It still doesn’t change the fact that she doesn’t view epublishing as an option-FOR HER.

    It’s NOT an option for everybody.

    If you can’t write fast, and I mean fast enough to have upwards 8 releases a year the first year or two, then it’s not going to work.

    If you don’t like erotic romance, it’s not going to work very well, because erotic romances are still the big seller in ebooks.

    It’s not an option for everybody, she doesn’t view as an option for her. There’s no need to point out that her website isn’t up or make sly jabs about ‘apparent last gasp attempt at the big-time’ or twist her words around to make her look like the villain.

    It’s pointless. And besides being pointless, it’s HURTING those of us really want these changes, and it’s hurting those who really NEED the changes.

    It will make RWA better, IMO, and there are unpublished authors who could benefit from these changes. We can GET these changes, if we can get people to listen.

    They aren’t going to listen, and many won’t risk speaking up, when there are people out there doing everything they can to poke, prod and attack.

    Over Karen Scott, Nora Roberts said:

    It makes me, and I imagine others who might want to listen and consider, tend to think: Well, fine then. I'm doing okay as things are, and just don't need to concern myself with what's going on with those who've chosen to pursue a different publishing path. They think me and my kind are gutless assholes anyway, so why bother.

    Those who take this tact feel they're being diminished? Keep it up, and that will never, never change.

    We’ve DONE this route before. We push for change, we push to be acknowledged and then it spins down to insults, attacks and a game of getting one up on ‘the other side’. And then we lose those who can make a difference.

    Julie Leto is one who can make a difference.

    So are the other authors reading this who aren’t speaking up. They can help us accomplish the changes we need, but they aren’t going to do that when they are getting insulted and attacked. And I don’t blame them. Not one bit.

  145. Shiloh Walker
    Jun 27, 2009 @ 10:30:57

    @BevBB:

    Bevbb, she also said:

    I admit I lost my patience BevBB, who seemed bound and determined to twist my words around.

    Would I have called you a troll? Unlikely. I probably just would have stopped addressing it.

    It seemed you were bound and determined to needle her and she lost her patience. She is human. It can get very, very hard to maintain professionalism when it seems like you’re getting attacked left and right, and from where I’m sitting, that’s exactly what she was dealing with. She could have gotten downright ugly, and didn’t.

  146. Robin
    Jun 27, 2009 @ 10:31:53

    As far as I can tell, the first direct blow was struck by Kalen Hughes, who called Bev a troll. Sorry, but how that makes epub advocates unseemly, I have no clue. More, I think that those who really don’t like the format, aren’t interested in it, think it’s crap, whatever, are going to find in others’ behavior/comments simply *more* reasons to feel the way they already do. And I think someone who feels that way has to take personal responsibility for focusing on those comments and not on the many, many comments by eloquent ebook advocates that are respectful, articulate, and (in the case of authors) professional. God knows there are plenty of shitty, obnoxious, disrespectful comments coming from some pro print/advance folks, too.

    As for twisting words, I have had to read multiple comments on this issue — here and elsewhere — multiple times to even get a hint of the meaning and perspective of the poster. Having disagreed with Bev myself on multiple occasions, I don’t always understand the way she phrases things. But I’ve also learned that it’s not a hostile attack on me when she sees what I’ve written through a lens I have to struggle to focus through. Similarly, it was clear to me that Julie was not, even from the beginning, feeling impersonal about her position, and I think from the beginning there was an edge of . . . something to her comments that shortened her fuse.

    So I think what happened was that two paradigms clashed in the night (or morning or whatever) and before each side could be unwound, feelings were hurt. I personally wouldn’t have poked Julie like Stevie did (although I disagree that her comments, while a bit harsh, were directed at Julie as a person), because I could see she was already a little edgy. But I sure as hell don’t think Bev and Stevie were collaborating to purposefully misunderstand and attack Julie. And no way do I think it was okay– even though it’s been skipped over by quite a few folks here — that Kalen called Bev a troll, which, as I said, started the downslide, IMO.

  147. BevBB
    Jun 27, 2009 @ 10:39:36

    BevBB, I think you twisted Julie's words around to make it seem as though she felt that epubbed authors deserved less respect. Not what she said, or how she feels. If you didn't purposefully misunderstand her, I apologize. At any rate, calling someone a troll is unprofessional, I agree.

    Thank you, because you’re the first author to actually say that here. As to whether or not I twisted her words, I have no idea. Misunderstandings happen. And there’s no way I’m going back to read through all of the above posts.

    However, I have not attacked anyone and I’m frankly insulted by the insinuation that I have done so simply by disagreeing, misunderstanding or simply miscommunicating in any way. Ask anyone who has dealt with me in the many years that I’ve been online whether I’m the type to “insult” anyone and I think I can safely say what the reaction would be. I do not go there, nor will I go there.

    So, if simply speaking out with an opposing voice is what you authors, who deal in words, take for insults, you really do need to develop thicker skins.

    And cut out the intimidation tactics because they don’t work on me.

  148. Shiloh Walker
    Jun 27, 2009 @ 10:43:42

    Sorry, but how that makes epub advocates unseemly, I have no clue.

    What makes it unseemly, im my eyes, are those who felt the need to tear down an author over expressing an opinion. I see no need for it and those who participated, whether they realize it or not, are damaging our chances for a change.

    There are things discussed in private loops, in private emails, and I know for a fact that many people who are in a position to push for change are reading this. They read it, and they see an author who had the courage to speak up get torn down.

    So they don’t get involved. They turn a blind eye and deaf ear and we can’t get them to see where we stand, why we do so, and convince them to help us push for changes that will benefit many members within RWA.

    Was there any need to call anybody a troll? No. But there was also no need to make jabs, tear down and belittle an author who expressed her opinion. None.

  149. Robin
    Jun 27, 2009 @ 10:47:55

    @Shiloh Walker: Shiloh, since you responded to me, I’ve edited my comment and addressed some of your point here, I think. So I’ll just refer you back to my earlier comment.

  150. Shiloh Walker
    Jun 27, 2009 @ 10:49:48

    I can easily give an apology if you weren’t purposely misinterpreting her words, Bevbb. If you weren’t, then I apologize.

    However, I’m not sure where you think anybody is trying to intimidate you.

    The outcome of this is going to have an effect on writers, directly. So I care about that. When I see something happening that is hurting something I believe in, I’m going to speak up.

    That’s exactly what I see happening here and it’s a turning into a replay of every other RWA/Epub debacle.

    I’m tired of them. I want real change and it would be nice if those who don’t care or aren’t affected don’t do things that damage our chances.

  151. Shiloh Walker
    Jun 27, 2009 @ 10:53:57

    @Robin: I don’t think anybody needed to be called a troll, either.

    It’s not fun to acknowledge, but authors have to remember they are ‘on’, in professional mode at all times and insulting readers is bad.

  152. Robin
    Jun 27, 2009 @ 10:56:43

    @Shiloh Walker: I’m sorry, Shiloh, but I hatehatehatehatehatehatehatehatehate this kind of thing:

    I want real change and it would be nice if those who don't care or aren't affected don't do things that damage our chances.

    Every time a print author does some a-hole thing, what’s the chorus from other print authors: don’t judge us by that!

    But here it sounds more like ‘shut up because you’re reflecting badly on us and you have no business talking about it to begin with.’

    Since the theme of this thread has obviously become focused on where the line between misunderstanding and twisting one’s words is, I’ll say that I’m not claiming this is what you mean. But it feels that way to me, and it frustrates me as a reader, because I get a stereo lecture every time I’m tempted to judge someone’s bad behavior (and I don’t even think Bev was behaving badly) about how it’s unfair to judge everyone by that transgression.

  153. Robin
    Jun 27, 2009 @ 10:59:48

    @Shiloh Walker: And I get that they resent it. I get that it seems unfair. And as I said, I got very clearly that Julie was not dispassionate. At the same time, no way was I going to condescend to her by acting as if she was incapable of having an intelligent discussion on the issue, because clearly she was. Ultimately the author-reader divide is still alive and well, and I suspect it always will be to some degree, especially as long as we’re all human and have feelings that can be hurt and buttons that can be pushed.

  154. Arwen
    Jun 27, 2009 @ 11:01:35

    I agree with Shiloh.

    What’s more is that I do not get the need for the tit-for-tat mentality. She said/She said sounds an awful lot like playground semantics to me.

    I want to make it really really really clear that I do not support this perceived battle between print and digital.

    Digital publishing rights affect us all whether you are e-pubbed (like myself) or print pubbed.

    Attacking each other is not the way to foster positive change. We have to focus on what is important and not get pulled off track.

  155. Shiloh Walker
    Jun 27, 2009 @ 11:02:44

    @Robin: No, I don’t want people to shut up because they ‘reflect badly’.

    But I do wish people would understand how big the ripples from things like this can get-and try to respect it.

    I do want real change. I don’t want a repeat of the past few years. Those of us wanting a change could get that change, but we need more voices on our side. We can’t get them if alienate the majority.

  156. Shiloh Walker
    Jun 27, 2009 @ 11:06:31

    @Robin:

    :) I don’t think that reader/writer divide will every full disappear, either. I remember once Monica Jackson and I were talking, probably here, and it was mentioned that we all see things through different filters.

    Writers have a different filter than readers do. Readers have a different filter than writers do. Even though we’re readers also, I don’t we see things the exact same as we would if we didn’t write for a living.

  157. BevBB
    Jun 27, 2009 @ 11:26:37

    @Shiloh Walker:

    :) I don't think that reader/writer divide will every full disappear, either. I remember once Monica Jackson and I were talking, probably here, and it was mentioned that we all see things through different filters.

    Writers have a different filter than readers do. Readers have a different filter than writers do. Even though we're readers also, I don't we see things the exact same as we would if we didn't write for a living.

    So, why are you essentially asking readers to stop talking about something? That’s the intimidation I’m talking about.

    It is your fight but if our talking about it or challenging positions on either side effects the outcome, then attempting to make us shut up isn’t going to help. We’re your consumers, for goodness sakes.

  158. Jeannie
    Jun 27, 2009 @ 11:39:19

    Attacks on each other aren’t helping anyone see a different viewpont, and isn’t that the point of debate? We are allowed to disagree. In fact if you’re a member of RWA their bylaws are supposed to encourage a diversity of opinion, not break each other down over it.

    We are essentially on the same side of things, even if we view the best direction for that side differently. Some believe that is by gaining an advance, and they have the right to express that opinion. I am one of the group who would like to see RWA educate its members about epublishing and recognize it as a different, but acceptable model.

    This shouldn’t be an “us” or “them” mentality, as Shiloh said. At the bottom line, we ALL believe authors should be protected, educated and their rights preserved.

  159. Shiloh Walker
    Jun 27, 2009 @ 11:42:59

    So, why are you essentially asking readers to stop talking about something? That's the intimidation I'm talking about.

    It is your fight but if our talking about it or challenging positions on either side effects the outcome, then attempting to make us shut up isn't going to help. We're your consumers, for goodness sakes.

    I don’t want anybody to shut up.

    I want people to show the respect they’d like to receive.

    I’m not going to tear down an author because I don’t want that done to me.

    I’m not going to call somebody a troll because I don’t want it done to me.

    But when I see things that hurt a cause I believe in, I will challenge that-because of the plain and simple fact that I do believe in that cause.

    If you weren’t trying to misinterpret Julie’s comment, if you’re viewing things at cross-purposes, I can understand that. Trying to see things from different points of view isn’t a bad thing. Misunderstandings aren’t good or fun, but they happen.

    However, and from what I can tell you didn’t do this, but making stabs about out-of-date websites, failed attempts at the big time, etc, etc, etc-that’s tearing somebody down and in no way, shape or form does that help those pushing for a change. It hurts our cause and that, I will challenge.

  160. Jane
    Jun 27, 2009 @ 11:52:22

    I think some authors came here for the express purpose of defending their girl, Julie, and berate Bev BB. I think that stinks. It has nothing to do with the topic at hand. It has everything to do with chastising someone else and if authors think that readers are so stupid that they can’t see through the play nice comments then they have little respect for readers.

    And Jeanne, please, if all authors wanted to educate all other authors we wouldn’t even be having this conversation.

  161. Shiloh Walker
    Jun 27, 2009 @ 12:01:19

    @Jane: I didn’t come to berate Bevbb. I commented after I’d read thru the thread-I’ve been out of town and I’m just now catching up on my bloghopping.

    If I haven’t already made it clear, then I’m going on the assumption that Bev and Julie were at cross-purposes and don’t understand each other. That’s fine. That happens. Julie shouldn’t have called Bev a troll. I also offered an apology to Bev.

    My problems lie in the comments made mostly by Stevie. Tearing an author down doesn’t do jack to help promote change, and since this thread is about the case for RWA change, I decided to point out that tearing an author, or anybody-period-down isn’t going to accomplish the changes we need.

    And for the record, I don’t know Julie. Or Kalen. Or Stevie. The only person I’ve had much of any contact with is Bev. We’re frequently at the same blogs and we’ve chatted online before. So Julie isn’t ‘my girl’. I’m here commenting because I’m frequently here commenting.

  162. Shiloh Walker
    Jun 27, 2009 @ 12:05:11

    @Jane:

    And Jeanne, please, if all authors wanted to educate all other authors we wouldn't even be having this conversation.

    I think Jeanne is referring to those within the RWAchange group. The group is trying to look at things from an education/advocacy aspect, so as a whole, the group DOES want all authors educated.

  163. BevBB
    Jun 27, 2009 @ 12:09:28

    @Robin:

    Having disagreed with Bev myself on multiple occasions, I don't always understand the way she phrases things. But I've also learned that it's not a hostile attack on me when she sees what I've written through a lens I have to struggle to focus through.

    S’okay, I don’t always understand you or Jane either, Robin. ;) Part of that, I think is that we come from completely different life situations. Drastically. Part of it is just normal online communications.

    Normal in the sense that miscommunications are going to happen. Not normal in the sense that there seems to be a double-standard at play when it’s okay for a anyone, but especially a reader, to be called names for those miscommunications but war is practically declared if an author simply feels attacked.

    Nothing I said was any different from anything I’ve ever posted in romancelandia, so I knew I didn’t attack anyone. If someone chooses to believe I did, that’s their problem. Listen closely, if I ever attack anyone personally, it will be clear, pointed and definitely not open to misunderstanding. By anyone. Seriously.

    Then to compound things and suggest that we shouldn’t be so rough on an author because it might hurt the ongoing battle? That’s the intimidation I’m talking about.

    In the normal way of the Internet, this was mild stuff, people.

    @Shiloh Walker:

    However, and from what I can tell you didn't do this, but making stabs about out-of-date websites, failed attempts at the big time, etc, etc, etc-that's tearing somebody down and in no way, shape or form does that help those pushing for a change. It hurts our cause and that, I will challenge.

    Readers expecting authors to have up-to-date websites hurts your cause?

    I’m–I’m, well, I’m at a loss for words. That does not happen often.

  164. Shiloh Walker
    Jun 27, 2009 @ 12:29:11

    @BevBB: Sigh. Okay, you and I are at cross-purposes so. After this, I’m done. I apologized here, I emailed you directly, and I’m not going to continue hashing this out.

    Readers expecting authors to have up-to-date websites hurts your cause?

    No, readers expecting an updated site doesn’t hurt the cause. However, these comments:

    I found this on your rather out-of-date website:

    and

    It occurs to me that if you had been a little more open to alternative business models you might have been one of the people who created the paranormal bandwagon in the first place…

    and

    someone whose apparent last gasp attempt at the big-time consisted of a fifteen year old story rehashed for publication in 2008.

    Were delivered in what seems to me a combative, insulting manner. A combative and insulting manner, from anybody, can hurt our cause.

    However, my problem has nothing to do with Julie having an updated website, a lack of, current releases, whatever. My problem lies with the tone in which Stevie’s comment were delivered. That delivery DOES hurt our cause.

    Nothing that Stevie said is going to convince Julie Leto, who HAS advocated for changes that would help epubbed authors, that she really needs to jump on the ebook bandwagon.

    Nothing Stevie said is going to convince Julie or any other traditionally pubbed author reading this (and there are a LOT of them) that the epubbed voices just want a chance to heard, that we just want the advocacy that RWA is supposed to stand for.

    Now, if Stevie wasn’t trying to insult Julie or take potshots, then I apologize. Let me say that again, Stevie, if you’re reading this, if you weren’t insulting Julie, if you weren’t trying to, if I’m misunderstanding your comments: I apologize.

    And now… I’m done.

  165. BevBB
    Jun 27, 2009 @ 13:02:49

    @Shiloh Walker:

    Sigh. Okay, you and I are at cross-purposes so. After this, I'm done. I apologized here, I emailed you directly, and I'm not going to continue hashing this out.

    If you’ve emailed me, I haven’t recieved it yet.

  166. jim duncan
    Jun 27, 2009 @ 15:53:58

    Perhaps I’m over-simplifying things here, but the debate seems to me to come down to this:

    Ms. Leto and many traditionally published authors in RWA and the view of the board is that authors should and deserve to be paid an advance. Period. Nothing to do with epubbed authors being less legitimate or deserving of recognition. Admittedly, there are traditionally published authors who tend to think this way, but that isn’t what RWA’s stance is based upon.

    The business model of epublishing obviously threatens the traditional model. It’s a different way of paying authors for their work. It’s back end instead of front. The risk is different. Epubs can afford to take on riskier work that may not have much chance in the traditional market. The obvious benefit for writers here is that they have greater avenues to pursue their writing career.

    RWA has taken the stance that pursuing publication without a minimum advance is not advantageous to its members. The members in RWA who are epubbed and who are looking to get epubbed take issue with this. The thing is, resolving this issue without risk is not possible. Changing policy to say advances aren’t required for legtimacy in RWA’s eyes is a risk that traditional publishers will see fit to go to a similar business models as digital publishing. This is certainly possible, and the fear is legitimate. They may find this difficult though given the time frame in which they payout royalties. Epubs forego advances and payout faster. It’s a difficult problem to resolve.

    Folks in digital publishing are not oblivious to the fact that there is risk involved in making these changes. The last thing RWA wants or needs is to have NY pubs pull out of Nationals and such due to policy changes that they find detrimental. Comping pubs at Nationals if digital publishers are all involved as well is likely cost prohibitive. There are financial inventives to the organization to maintain their stand on the advance model. The fact is though, there are many members of RWA who are involved in digital publishing and publish, and many who are traditionally published who have to deal with digital publishing issues because they are now being published in both. RWA has to deal with this issue. Things are evolving and changing so much right now in the industry that they can’t afford to let it slide any longer. They can’t appease everyone of their members with this. There is no resolution that will fix it for all.

    Personally, I believe they need to assess and decide. They can’t adhere to the advance model and adequately address the issues of epubs and epubbed writers in the organization. Either a way needs to be figured out how to incorporate both or RWA nees to come out and say they are only an organization for traditionally published writers, because as things stand now, they aren’t serving the needs of the other.

    Folks are working to come up with adequate resolutions. I hope RWA listens with an open mind and is willing to take some risks, make some changes, and become something stronger than they were before.

  167. Doreen
    Jun 28, 2009 @ 17:49:00

    At the risk of making this the thread that never ends –

    I come from the classical music world. As far as I’m concerned, selling art is selling art and no matter what anyone says, romance novels are art – pop art to be sure, but art nonetheless. Nora Roberts is Paul McCartney without the rest of the Beatles.

    Now, from my background, the system of getting advances is much like the not-for-profit model I know and love so well. Only in the not-for-profit world, we call it grant writing. You write a proposal, submit it, a person and committee reviews it and you either get funded or not. If you get funded, you get the money, do the project, write a review and call it a day. Artists get a profit because they write their fee into to grant proposal.

    I’m not putting this out there to continue the controversy, but to add to the business models. Certainly not-for-profits are businesses, just not in a commercial sense. At the end of the day, it’s all about being objective about our product, our work of art, and selling it, whether a concert of the Bach B-minor Mass or a Harlequin Presents, nothing more, nothing less.

    Advances should have nothing to do with whether someone is PRO or PAN, but that’s just my opinion. Obviously, everyone else’s mileage is going to vary.

    Doreen

  168. Nora Roberts
    Jun 30, 2009 @ 06:37:06

    In another thread some time back on epublishing, I commented that I thought ebooks were great, that anything that gave readers more choices, more access to books was aces with me.

    The comments included many discussing whether they preferred reading e or print, and why. I included that I prefer print. I work on a screen, don’t want to read on one. Like the feel of book in my hand, blah blah.

    And was accused of discriminating against e-authors. Was pretty well blasted for ignoring and not supporting e-only authors by only reading print books. Was further accused of slamming epubs when I had done just the opposite. Was told that due to my position in the industry by not reading ebooks I was sending signals.

    My own personal preference as a reader, apparently, made me the enemy. There was more, but those are the high–or low–lights.

    If you think these kind of attacks and statements don’t make a difference, you’re wrong–at least from where I’m standing.

    I still think ebooks are great, still think it’s aces for readers, and writers, to have a choice of form that works best for them.

    But I’m tired of being slapped for my own choices, tired of being called a dinosaur or an elitist because I write and read paper.

    So since that thread I don’t read or participate as much in these discussions as I once did. Why should I when it’s very likely an opinion expressed, a question asked will be met with accusations and insults?

  169. Doreen
    Jun 30, 2009 @ 06:46:38

    Yikes! I hope my mention of your name wasn’t what made you upset. I wasn’t saying anything about e- versus print books. The 3,000 books in my library attest to the fact that I love to read print books.

    I mentioned your name because it was the biggest name I could think of in the heat of the moment. I’m sorry if that offended.

    Doreen

  170. Nora Roberts
    Jun 30, 2009 @ 08:12:54

    Doreen, commenting again just to tell you absolutely not. Rather than being offended, I’m extremely flattered by your comment.

  171. jim duncan
    Jun 30, 2009 @ 11:04:19

    Ohhh! The whole, “You don’t read ebooks therefore you don’t support ebooks,” argument. Nora, a group of MIT grad students debunked that formula a while back. In a highly controlled study, a group of students were given ereaders and print books. The books were used to prop up the corners of broken furniture and they cleverly converted the ereaders to play video games. So, they’re all good.

    All silliness aside, you may be a spokesperson for romance but certainly not for methods of publication and reading. Rather embarassing that fellow writers would try to toss that mantle on your shoulders. Not sure where folks get the notion that you aren’t supportive if you don’t read digital books. I’ve never read a digital book. Hate long blocks of text on computer screen, and can’t afford a reader. I completely support digital publishing and what it’s doing however.

    I envy your success and storytelling ability. I certainly don’t envy the crap like this that you get because of your success.

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