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Thursday Midday Links: Random House hires Sue Grimshaw, former romance buyer...

DABWAHA Voting started up again.   Courtney Milan and Loretta Chase are dueling it out in a very close race.

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Borders romance buyer, Sue Grimshaw, will be the new Editor at Large and Category Specialist for Random House acquiring “selective romance titles for hardcover, paperback and original digital lists”.   Original digital lists.   Sounds like Random House is following Avon Impulse who followed Harlequin’s Carina Press.   Sue starts her new position on March 28.   Congratulations Sue!   Who’s next?

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Amanda Hocking, self publishing star, has purportedly signed a deal for four books in excess of $2 million with St. Martin’s Press. Hocking is tired of the publishing gig and just wants to write. One thing I thought was really curious about the Barry Eisler/Konrath exchange was Barry and Joe’s claim that self publishing saves time

Now, with digital books, once again there's no more profitable use of an author's time than writing.

Dealing with a legacy publisher can be quite time-consuming, and aggravating, too. Of course, publishers might say the same about authors! But that doesn't change the fact that publishers can take up a lot of your time.

Compare to Hocking who says

I do not want to spend 40 hours a week handling e-mails, formatting covers, finding editors, etc. Right now, being me is a full-time corporation.

I think the big difference between Hocking and Konrath (and what may affect authors going forward) is reach.   Konrath’s success is built on cumulative volume.   He has over 24 stories for sale and the cumulative sales is what makes him a success.   His individual sales must not be significant enough, however, to attract the deal that Hocking is getting.   If you recall, Konrath shopped around his book, like Hocking, but did not have enough interest from publishers at the price Konrath wanted.   Hocking must have broader and more mass appeal creating volume from a single title alone.

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A modern day artist recreates a few Mills & Boon covers. My favorite is the last one where it looks like the hero is choking her.   Oh, I am sorry. Maybe he is just a face holder.

Mills & Boon Self portraits

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

30 Comments

  1. Gretchen Galway
    Mar 24, 2011 @ 11:19:05

    I bet the appearance of chokehold was intentional in that recreation. The artist’s editorial, perhaps.

    Is she supposed to be Linda Evans?

  2. Moriah Jovan
    Mar 24, 2011 @ 11:29:00

    Barry and Joe's claim that self publishing saves time

    BWA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!11!!11!11

  3. Elyssa Papa
    Mar 24, 2011 @ 11:29:41

    Congrats to Sue! I think it’s a fabulous move, and that she will do amazing things at Random House.

    And congrats to Amanda Hocking, too! My mind simply boggles at bids going over 2 million, and I hope she’s successful in trad publishing.

  4. Jane
    Mar 24, 2011 @ 11:30:18

    @Gretchen Galway – good call. Editorial comment indeed.

  5. Cathy
    Mar 24, 2011 @ 11:39:28

    The recreation of the M&B cover should be titled: A First Time for Everything – Autoerotic Asphyxiation

  6. Ridley
    Mar 24, 2011 @ 11:52:37

    I think Konrath needs to dial it back a bit. His enthusiasm is bordering on religious zeal at this point. Comparing self-publishing to the Negro League is a bit much.

  7. Gennita Low
    Mar 24, 2011 @ 12:22:41

    Congrats, Sue! Hope you’ll be at RT so we can share a drink to celebrate!

    Wow, $2,000,000. I just want to write down that number to look at the zeros. :D.

    And no, self-pub doesn’t save time. Anything do-it-yourself doesn’t save time, unless you delegate or sub-contract. (Laughing with Moriah in the corner) Actually, a $2,000,000 contract would save me lots of time…to write!

    Also: cracking up at the Linda Evans reference of M&B cover.

  8. Anthea Lawson
    Mar 24, 2011 @ 12:30:34

    Amanda Hocking has nine self-published books, with a tenth on the way. I’d say she built her readership though multiple books, not on the strength of a single title alone. Although, yes SWITCHED seems to have really catapulted her up there.

  9. jmc
    Mar 24, 2011 @ 12:45:57

    I thought Konrath & Eisler’s better argument re: time for self-publishing was shortening the length of time between completion of a manuscript and the finished product being available for purchase by readers/consumers.

    Wow, the movement of the thumb in the cover art makes a huge difference.

  10. vita
    Mar 24, 2011 @ 13:07:16

    On that re-created Mills and Boon cover. The original looks like Linda Evans but the “new” cover looks like Bo Derek…both women were married to John Derek!! And I think he left Linda for Bo.

  11. Joanne
    Mar 24, 2011 @ 13:12:01

    Of all the pushing and shoving in the publishing biz the one person I was concerned about was Sue Grimshaw. We don’t see many book buyers online that absolutely ‘get’ the romance genre so I’m really glad she’ll have a voice in what is available to readers. Congratulations Sue!

    Mills & Boon… bringing BDSM to series romance… with pastels.

  12. Danielle D
    Mar 24, 2011 @ 13:23:00

    Congratulations to Sue! I wish her the best of luck!

  13. library addict
    Mar 24, 2011 @ 14:10:51

    Congrats to Sue.

    But I will miss her Borders blog. Was introduced to several new-to-me authors through it in the past two years.

  14. Juilana Stone
    Mar 24, 2011 @ 14:14:41

    I’m so happy for Sue!

  15. DS
    Mar 24, 2011 @ 14:37:04

    Actually on the saving time thing– Konrath is a tireless self promoter– not obvious is it? Anyway when he said:

    Joe: Time also has to be an issue for you. Not just having to wait a year to publish The Detachment, but the time it takes to promote it.

    A few years ago, there was some idiot who did signings at over 500 bookstores during a summer. He wound up visiting 40 states and over 1200 bookstores.

    Barry: I heard about that guy. Funny-looking dude.

    Joe: Hah. But there was another idiot who came pretty close to that record, who personally visited over 800 bookstores in the last few years.

    He’s talking about himself and Eisler. If you are going to promote yourself that hard without publisher support then it is going to eat up a lot of writing time.

  16. Janine
    Mar 24, 2011 @ 15:40:24

    Congratulations to Sue Grimshaw! Interesting that Random House is launching original digital lists too.

  17. Isobel Carr
    Mar 24, 2011 @ 15:53:39

    So glad to see Sue landed on her feet and will still be around to help promote and grow the genre.

  18. Debra
    Mar 24, 2011 @ 17:45:55

    Big lose for Borders!! Good for you Sue! Good luck on the new job.

  19. Jackie Barbosa
    Mar 24, 2011 @ 17:50:37

    I think the difference between Konrath and Hocking is order of events.

    Konrath was already traditionally published but obviously didn’t have rock star sales at it. Publishers weren’t willing to pay him what he wanted, so he went the self-publishing route, at which any reasonably well-known midlister may very well be able to do better than in traditional publishing. (See also Julianne MacLean’s success with the book she self-published; I believe she said she’s now earned more from its sales than from any of her multi-book NY contracts.)

    Hocking, by contrast, started as a self-published author and had rock star sales despite effectively coming from nowhere. Given what she’d earned already from her books, she had absolutely no incentive to go with a New York publisher unless they showed her some serious money.

  20. Andrea K Host
    Mar 24, 2011 @ 19:21:00

    I think Amanda Hocking is making a sensible move, since it will get her books into stores and there is a still a large readership which only shops in stores.

    However, the “being a publisher” part of self-publishing doesn’t strike me as a reason to do it. Being a publisher is, realistically, a small part of a self-publisher’s life. Especially after the first book, when you’ve set systems in motion, and have already researched resources such as artists and editors , etc.

    I’d presume that being a _promoter_ is what is taking up a lot of her time. And some of that isn’t going to go away. It would also have been viable for her to hire an assistant to get rid of the “being a publisher” part, and to keep ahead of her fan mail, but that still wouldn’t have put her books in bookstores, and that’s the big step forward she’s taken here.

    The ‘time saving’ that Konrath is talking about is, I believe, the time it takes to get the book in front of the reader. It’s usually a year from signature of contract. I’ll be interested to see whether Hocking’s books (there are eight or nine of them) are out sooner (probably, since they’re hot property), and whether she’s retained the ebook rights and thus has only signed away the print deal. [I'll be particularly interested to see what the ebook prices are, if she has signed them away.]

    More power to both authors for finding a route they’re happy with.

  21. Elise Logan
    Mar 24, 2011 @ 21:36:46

    Congratulations, Sue!

    The big time sucks Hocking mentions are formatting and promoting. I think she’s going to find she’s still doing a good bit of promoting, and you can pay someone else to format if you find it too time consuming – that’s what we did. I wasn’t about to beat my head against that particular wall. And finding editors? If you found a professional editor you liked, why not use them again? But I don’t see how having a traditional publisher is going to help her with the answering e-mails. On the other hand, it’s certainly much easier to abdicate responsibility for editing, formatting, cover, etc. to a publisher. It can be exhausting to be the only one carrying the load, and I think that’s a viable reason for going the traditional route.

  22. Kaetrin
    Mar 25, 2011 @ 02:25:53

    Congratulations to Sue Grimshaw. She’ll bring something wonderful to Random House so congrats to them as well.

    …he really does look like he’s choking her.. o-0

  23. SAO
    Mar 25, 2011 @ 03:02:58

    I’d think as more people move to self-pub, do-it-all firms would pop up, producing covers, editing, formatting, etc. What Hocking does get is a company that has substantial marketing muscle and she doesn’t have to pay for it.

    But, publishers don’t bother with marketing for many authors. If Konrath can’t get a publisher to fork out for it, he might be better off without the demands (and cut) of a traditional publisher.

  24. Lynnd
    Mar 25, 2011 @ 10:47:48

    Connie Brockway is also going the self-publishing route Part of her reasoning is that her publishers have not let her write the stories she would like to write. See the AAR Blog for her comments.

  25. Chicklet
    Mar 25, 2011 @ 11:28:12

    @SAO: I was thinking the same thing: Instead of having a publisher be in charge of editing/cover design/formatting/publicity and own the copyrights to the books, an author would retain the copyright and use the royalties from self-publishing to employ people to do those things. (Much like actors pay part of their salaries to agents, managers, business managers, publicists, etc.)

    It certainly would upend the usual relationship, but it seems like the author would have more control over their work as a result. They can publish faster, choose covers they like, etc. And they would own the copyright at all times.

  26. Nadia Lee
    Mar 25, 2011 @ 12:32:15

    @Chicklet: Unless you sign a work-for-hire contract or something, you own / retain the copyright to your work. You license whatever rights you want to publishers.

  27. Moriah Jovan
    Mar 25, 2011 @ 13:56:32

    Re Barry Eisler and Amanda Hocking trading places:

    I can only speak for myself when I say that my biggest concern about going to traditional publishing is the rights issue. I’ve now been pubbed with an e-pub (a charity anthology from Freya’s Bower), and I said yes because I was thrilled to be asked to contribute.

    However, the minute I signed that contract, I felt claustrophobic about that piece. I’m used to being able to do anything I want with my works: put them up here, take them down there, experiment with pricing, do the formatting and print design and cover, sell them on my own site, make any changes I want, and a bunch of other things I’d never thought about that I just…do. And suddenly, here’s this work of mine that I can’t act independently upon for two years. Now, let it be said that I trust the publisher implicitly, so it’s not that it’s under someone else’s control; it’s that it’s not under mine.

    Re Hocking’s overwhelmedness:

    Her agent really missed the boat here, in my opinion. He should’ve acted as her business manager and coordinated all her production and PR issues so she could write, and take a bigger percentage of what she was already making on her own instead of ceding her rights for 15% off the top of a loan. Yeah, it looks good in the short term, but it doesn’t solve the problem she had. She’s still going to have the problem AND not have her rights.

    Re self-publishing and time

    Going on a bookstore signing tour was never on my radar, and any publisher who required me to do that would have had to pay my expenses, because, quite frankly, that whole system of advance (that really gets spent on promotion because if you don’t–OR ELSE) is bullshit. So that time/money factor doesn’t apply to me.

    BUT if you haven’t self-published, you can’t imagine the time suck it all is. Every email is a detail that will take you 4x longer than you think it will. The bookkeeping. The production. The PR. Even if you have a staff, you have to spend time coordinating it all. No matter which way you do it, you will not have time to do the thing you started all this for: write.

    Which is why I say Axelrod missed the boat with Hocking. He could’ve acted as her production/PR/accounting/detail manager and let her write for a greater percentage of her greater earnings (i.e., NOT a loan), instead of turning her over to a publisher who’ll take AT MOST one quarter of the burden off her while requiring her to do the rest.

    Gennita and Elise, Jackie and Nadia know what I’m talking about. All I can say is Konrath and Eisler must have better time management skills than I do.

  28. Ava Glass
    Mar 25, 2011 @ 17:08:20

    @Elise Logan:

    And finding editors? If you found a professional editor you liked, why not use them again?

    Hocking had an issue a few months back. She hired someone she liked, but the book still got a review citing editing.

    http://www.kindleboards.com/index.php?topic=33573.0

    I think L.K. Rigel gave fabulous advice recommending a self-editing workshop (Angela James’ in this case) along with separate content and copy editors. Hocking’s new publisher will probably provide the latter. For free too.

  29. Kerry Allen
    Mar 26, 2011 @ 13:58:39

    Publishers don’t do anything for authors “for free.”

    The most generous contract I’ve seen recently gave the author 8% of print and 30% of digital, IF the advance was ever recouped.

    It is far more cost effective for an author to farm out services for a one-time fee than to give a publisher 70 to 90+% of every sale until rights revert.

  30. Jenny Kohler
    Jul 06, 2011 @ 14:24:53

    Sue Grimshaw: I have the best paranormal romance story called “Dark Wishes” just waiting to be publihsed! I attended your workshop, “The Paranormal Romance Market: Advice from the Pros” at the RWA conference last week in NYC, and I thought you were awesome. I would love to work with you. Please contact me. Jenny Kohler ([email protected] or cell number [redacted for safety purposes]).

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