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

The Crushing Weight of Expectations

cat
more animals

Ihave to confess that I have had a hard time constructing this post. If my thoughts seem muddled and my position incoherent, it is because I am having difficulty articulating this topic myself.   I will be anxious to read the comments to see how I can flesh out my feelings on this matter.

Essentially, I am conflicted as to whether I am being hypocritical about this. I don’t think I am.   I want the romance community to be robust.   I want us to debate and dissect without repercussions.    Maybe that is an illusory construct.

As I read more comments by authors both at this blog and in blog posts and comments to other blog posts over the last couple of years, I am amazed at the pressure that authors assume upon themselves from readers.   Authors feel pressure to promote their books in a constant fashion whether it be blogging, making book trailers, networking, or even maintaining a website.   Authors feel pressure to write more books faster or perhaps to write in a different genre or to write like they did in the past.

I’ve leveled some of these complaints at authors but many times in good fun or excitement.     I.e., “good lord, this book was so good I want the next one tomorrow.”   But yes, sometimes, I’m more serious with my complaints and observations like “I’m tired of the infantalization of heroines” or “I don’t understand why more authors don’t speak out against plagiarism” (this latter sentiment got me into a lot of hot water).

A couple weeks ago, I blogged about how I hoped that female authors would blog about what they wanted and in the voice that most appealed to them.   This was taken by some to be a charge that they must a) blog and b) must do so in a strident way so as to be called a fucktard at least once a month.   Okay b) is kind of an exaggeration, but I admit to being surprised by some of the response.

When readers express an opinion, it is just that – a reader’s expression of her thoughts and feelings.   While I can’t speak for all readers, everywhere, I can speak for myself.   I blog about things that are meaningful to me within the genre that I love.     Some of you might find this an unfair statement coming from me, given that I am outspoken about things I find unlikeable within the genre.

It’s true that I want the liberty to say what I want about the genre I love.   The more that I write about the genre and the more that I analyze books, the more that I appreciate books that reward readers because the authors are thoughtful and deliberate in their choices.   The more that I write about the genre, the better able I am to articulate why I think it’s great and why I’m not ashamed of my love for it.

I feel like it is important for readers to be able to express themselves. I know that this is self serving but my belief is that the romance community has been ill served in the past by not encouraging critical analysis of the genre.   But even positive articulations from readers have had negative impacts, or alleged negative impacts. For example, I know that many authors feel the pressure to publish not just one book a year but two books a year.   This pressure comes, ostensibly, from readers.

It is true that readers are a greedy, grabby, contradictory group.   We want more of what we want and we want it now but we also want the books to be fresh and exciting but still within the same sub genre.   I.e., Jia and I read Hunger Games and loved it. Now we want more dystopian books but I can guarantee you that after the 20th or so dystopian book we’ll be calling for something else.   We readers fell in love with Navy Seals, Regency historicals, Vhampires and demanded more but then complain when that is what we are given.   We want kick ass heroines, but not those leather clad kick ass heroines. We want heroes to be strong and caring but not effete.   We want it all and we want it now and some authors seem to believe that they need to deliver on those wants.   The truth is that no author will ever be able to please every reader.   For every book we’ve ever given a bad grade to, there has been a reader who has loved it from Carol Lynne (she’s a bestseller) to Karen Tabke (she’s writing two series)

I guess my end point is this.   If an author is unable to separate herself from the expectations of her readers, then perhaps she needs to disengage.   I don’t mean that the author should withdraw from the online romance community but she needs to stop internalizing everything. One thing that other authors, editors, and agents talk about is learning what critique to take to heart and what to throw away.   As with anything, opinions from readers must be treated the same way.   This allows the free flow exchange of opinions and encourages debate and internal inspection.   To thine own self be true is a maxim that still holds water.

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

126 Comments

  1. Dotty
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 05:06:02

    I hardly ever comment, but read all the time. I always find that I am impressed with the way Nora Roberts presents herself. We all know she is prolific, but I always feel that’s just the way she is, not living up to expectations of others. I know no facts at all about Nora just the impressions I have gained from her posts. I appreciate that she posts when she has something to say and doesn’t pull any punches. I like that she seems to be approachable and gracious about comments that don’t rave about her books and takes her “celebrity” not at all seriously.
    I can just imagine the “expectations of readers” especially for the Eve Dallas series and yet I never can imagine her sitting there going “Oh the pressure of it all”. Mind you, she might do this but my point is we never hear of it. It’s called professionalism, and we all try to do it in our workplace, and I think whenever an author writes something for other people to read, no matter where it is, then that should be considered work and personal conduct should reflect that.
    I’m sure that most of our workplaces, no matter what they are, involve expectations that are unreasonable and demanding at times, so as professionals we just suck it up and do our best and if we can’t, then we leave and get a job we can manage, why should authors be any different. I know that in my career I have faced criticism, some of it deserved, didn’t like it much but I like to think I took it on board and learnt from it
    There are many authors that post here, and I admire many of them, and many are just as professional as Ms Roberts, I just singled her out as an example.

  2. Kristie(J)
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 05:33:52

    I’m not sure if I can put this the right way – but I don’t have any expectations from authors – and I don’t mean this in a negative way. But if I love author A and she only puts out one book a year – then I don’t expect to start putting out more than that. I may want more a year because I love her work – but that’s my own personal thoughts and doesn’t mean I expect more than one a year. I read very few author blogs so I don’t expect them to have them. I blog because I choose to, and I think that’s what authors to do. If they choose not to – that’s fine (since I wouldn’t miss them anyway). I may want Author B to have a website, but if she chooses not to then I don’t expect her too. I don’t want to be BFF with authors. Meet them – yes. I’d love to tell them how much I enjoyed their work. And if I should be so fortunate as to go to lunch with them, then that will be a memory I will cherish, but I don’t expect that to lead to a close chuminess.
    If I have any expectations of authors – it’s just that they be who they are and if that means putting out one book a year or four – whatever it is who makes them the writer they are. If they have a blog and blog daily or aren’t comfortable being ‘out there’ – whatever it is that makes them most comfortable. I don’t feel it’s right that us readers expect any more than that.

  3. Corrine
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 05:37:16

    We readers fell in love with Navy Seals, Regency historicals, Vhampires and demanded more but then complain when that is what we are given. We want kick ass heroines, but not those leather clad kick ass heroines. We want heroes to be strong and caring but not effete. We want it all and we want it now and some authors seem to believe that they need to deliver on those wants.

    This is the kind of thing writers (and especially beginning writers like myself) need to let roll off their backs. If writers catered to the demands of every reader, we’d wind up with unreadable garbage that no one liked because every reader wants something different. I used to post a lot on the amazon.com romance forum, and one of the biggest discussions I’ve ever seen was basically a list of rants about different plotlines, characters and author quirks. You would have one reader saying, Well I hate non-virgin heroines, and then five posts later someone would come back with, I hate sexually inexperienced heroines. Then it would be, I hate heroes with long hair. Another few posts and you’d see, I love long hair! It’s soooo sexy!!!

    There’s no pleasing everyone.

  4. ilona andrews
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 05:57:52

    For example, I know that many authors feel the pressure to publish not just one book a year but two books a year. This pressure comes, ostensibly, from readers.

    I’ve seen several posts on this subject lately. My writing speed is naturally faster than one book a year, probably because for years I wrote and carried a day job, and I love my second series. I also hate it deeply and with burning passion at the moment, because I’m implementing revisions, but mostly I love it and that’s why I wrote it. On practical side, I wanted very much to be a full time writer. Financially, my chances of continuing to eat were significantly better if I sold the second series. :)

    I think it’s healthy to maintain a bit of distance between my work and reader expectations. Just like an author shouldn’t stalk reviewers and rain burning pitch and lava on those who post unflattering reviews of her work, an author should avoid becoming swayed by reader demands. Readers want contradictory things. They shouldn’t bear responsibility for my book. It’s my book; I created it, I own it, and whether it succeeds or fails, I will own that as well.

  5. roslynholcomb
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 07:14:10

    I’ve had to do the same. If you think the pressure is bad, you ought to try writing multi-cultural. Why don’t you have more dark-skinned heroines? Why are all your heroines dark-skinned? Do they all have to have relaxed hair? Why don’t you have more plus-sized heroines? Men aren’t interested in plus-sized women–that’s unrealistic! Or, if you write an interracial story: Why are there so many stories with racial conflicts? Why don’t the stories have more racial conflicts? That’s unrealistic! Uh, that’s why it’s called, FICTION!!!

    I just tune it out for the most part. Unless someone is complaining about the mechanics of my writing, especially my tendency to do repetitive phrases, I simply ignore them. Otherwise they drive me insane. I write what I write, and I can’t write to cater to someone else.

  6. STP
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 07:31:45

    Jane said:
    For example, I know that many authors feel the pressure to publish not just one book a year but two books a year. This pressure comes, ostensibly, from readers.

    I don’t think that’s true. I think the pressure to write two books a year comes from the need to feed families and pay bills.

  7. Anon for all the reasons Jane said.
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 07:33:41

    Let's face it this is a Business. A business where a type of art is distributed to the masses yes, but still in the end it's a business. More books as fast as they can be produced in the genres that are selling the best make the most money and money keeps us all going. Yes there are people in the business that do put a greater emphasis on the art and put out high quality books to readers but others do put the money first. But I do believe that sometimes editors are behind the curve when it comes to what readers want. I love you Jane and the other bloggers and commenters here because the industry needs you. As a writer, I need places to hear unwashed intelligent reader thoughts. I need the ammunition so I can tell my agent and editor, “Look the people have spoken and X is want they want.”
    I certainly can't do it. I'm a newer author with a NY house and with my story I'm trying to address some of the things I see wrong with my subgenre and basically what's wrong with most of the other books released recently by said publisher. I can't blog about how the majority of ER out now sucks, that's titles by my line consistently get well below average reviews and are the butt of long running jokes at other sites. I can't go around saying that ER needs stronger plots, deeper characters and even in ER each love scene needs to in some tiny tiny tiny way advance the plot!! If I do that, I'm telling my editor and his/her colleagues as well as the fellow writers that I have to interact with and promote with that they're idiots at worse, misguided at best. And I'd be costing the company that pays me money. But Jane you and other readers can, and need to, say it for me.
    But what I can do is stand up for my work, get it out there and hope for the kind of popularity and good reviews that will make the industry take notice.

  8. Alyssa Day
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 07:36:58

    I have had a terrific experience recently in terms of reader expectations and understanding. The accepted thinking in paranormal romance is that one must put out at least 2, preferably more books per year, or you’re “done.” Well, I was very ill earlier this year and it put my publishing schedule way WAY off schedule. The books aren’t coming out until June and July of 2009 now. I put an explanation on my website, apologizing for the delay and confessing my health issues, and I was overwhelmed with the response from kind and gracious readers – truly lovely emails and notes and blog comments telling me that life and health comes first, and they will be there when I and the books return.

    So to anybody who thinks of “the readers” as some faceless mass of heartless people who are constantly demanding one thing or another (more books, more blog presence, etc. etc.), I can stand up and wholeheartedly say “wrong, wrong, wrong.” And boy am I grateful.

  9. Jennifer Estep
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 08:03:48

    How does the old song go? “You can’t please everyone, so you’ve got to please yourself” — or something like that. I try to take everything in the right light, learning what to keep/use and throw away like you mention in the post, whether it’s reader comments or reviews or whatever. It can be hard sometimes, but it’s what being professional is all about.

    I think one of the keys to doing that is for authors to just write what they love, despite what’s popular with readers, despite the marketplace, etc. “Book of your heart” might be cliche, but if you’re not enjoying what you’re writing, chances are readers will pick up on that when they’re reading.

    But yeah, I feel the pressure you’re talking about. To write better, to write faster, to do more and more promo, to attend more and more conferences. But I think all those things are really industry standards/expectations now — not so much from readers. Because if I don’t do those things, there are hundreds of other writers out there who will.

    Publishing is an unpredictable, fickle business. Like Ilona said, I want to write full-time (I still have a day job), and my chances of being able to do that are better if I have more than one project going at a time. I recently sold a new UF series, but I’m already thinking about what else I want to write. Not only for financial reasons, but because I have half a dozen ideas I’d like to explore. I wouldn’t be in the business if I didn’t love writing. Like everything else, publishing has its good and bad sides. You just gotta roll with the punches and cherish the good when you get it.

  10. Susanna Kearsley
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 08:17:23

    Actually, I don’t feel any pressure from my readers. As a couple of other people have said upthread, no book is going to please everyone and I can only write the story that I want to tell and do the best job that I can with it. If I start to worry whether this hero/heroine/plot line will fit with what everyone wants at the moment, then I’ve lost my bearing as a writer and my work will suffer for it. I think readers understand that.

    In return, I understand that readers’ comments and their criticisms aren’t meant to discourage me – it’s only people stating their opinions, and that’s fine. I’m always flattered someone chose a book of mine out of the many, many books they could have chosen, and that they took time out of their busy life to read it, and I think that after all that effort they have every right to say exactly what they thought of it.

    As for my web site, I keep it by choice, not because I feel pressure. It’s my way of keeping in touch with my fans. And I can’t speak for other authors out there, but in my experience the only pressure I’ve had to write faster, produce more books, write in a certain style with certain settings and plot lines, that’s all come from publishers, not from my readers. Readers are, in my view, much more understanding, really, than most publishers, in terms of letting authors write the books they want to write.

  11. Jody W.
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 08:48:25

    I agree with what Susanna K. said insofar as production speed and subgenre. The pressure comes from the agents/publishers, not the readers. If I don’t write something publishers are willing to buy, I’ve just wasted X amount of mine and my family’s time. I’m not the only one who has to make sacrifices so Mommy can write.

    However, if one wants to argue that it’s the readers who “pressure” the publishers… I don’t know if I’d agree or disagree, but it would come closer to that model than readers directly pressuring authors, IMO.

  12. Treva Harte
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 09:09:22

    I know authors who develop closer relationships to their readers than I’ll ever have. They have die-hard fans and often great royalties but then they also have expectations to live up to. But as a writer, I’m always pleased and grateful that anyone wants to read my stories and if they hate them — well, I’m terribly sorry to have wasted their time but I’ll write more and maybe they’ll like those. Or not.

    And yeah, part of me wishes I had those intense, die-hard fans because authors want fame, love, money and the freedom to create whatever they want whenever they want to. Oh, well.

    And as a publisher? I’d prefer authors give me their great stories, they give them when they promise to, and that they make me not have to deal with unhappy fans. But if I have to pick one out of three, I’d most want them to give me the great story. There are other wonderful authors with other stories I can use while an author is making his or her story even better than last time. (Of course being able to be replaced also terrifies authors. Oh, well.)

  13. Keishon
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 09:11:55

    I’ve learned to wait and can wait for a good book. If I wait 2 years or three for your book, it better be good. How’s that for pressure? Just speaking the truth.

    However, there are authors who I expect long wait times for: Diana Gabaldon, Dennis Lehane, Diana Norman to name a few and these guys always deliver.

    So if you’re gonna make us wait make sure it’s worth the wait. Just sayin. If you’re an author who always deliver the fans will be there – period. We forgive almost anything if you’ve written some really good books, too.

  14. theo
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 09:29:20

    Jane said:
    For example, I know that many authors feel the pressure to publish not just one book a year but two books a year. This pressure comes, ostensibly, from readers.

    I don't think that's true. I think the pressure to write two books a year comes from the need to feed families and pay bills.

    I have to disagree with this. I think it’s a very common phenomenon that readers will constantly bombard their favorite author with “When is the next one out??” and there are many authors who cave to that, unfortunately. I wonder how ‘young’ those authors are, not in years, but as an author. But it happens and quite often, the quality of their work suffers.

    We had a big discussion on the Word Wenches about this some time ago. The consensus for most (not all) of us was, we are willing to wait, giving the author the opportunity to maintain quality over rushing through and sacrificing the story for the deadline.

    I’m as guilty as the next when I make the same comments Jane has, ILOVEDitwhenisthenextonecomingout??? But I think it’s a natural reaction to a story that really struck you in some way. It’s not really a demand as much as a compliment to the author that you are ‘slavering’ for the next book. No one ever died waiting for it though. ;-) Much better one book a year than two or three in one year with the first one being awesome, the second so-so and the third a wallbanger, all for the sake of the fan’s demands.

    And if your fans truly admire and love your work, they’ll wait.

    JMHO :)

  15. Anion
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 09:33:48

    Yeah, I’m with Susannah and Jody. The only pressure I feel from readers in in my own head–I hope they like this, I hope they see where I’m going with this, I hope they don’t hate me for this, I hope they love this character as much as I do, etc. etc.

    Well, no, that’s not exactly true. I do have a few books on deck that I’m writing because I feel I owe it to the readers to finish the respective series; I don’t want to let them down. But that’s not pressure, not in that way. It’s simply caring about them and their book-buying money and not wanting them to be disappointed.

    Perhaps I’d feel differently if I didn’t write so fast. Two or three books a year is no problem for me. But I agree, the pressure to promote and produce comes from the industry and the nature of the work, not the readers, at all. When they tell me they can’t wait for the next book, it’s a compliment that thrills me, not a heavy hand on the back of my neck telling me to go faster.

  16. veinglory
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 09:42:33

    I think you have noticed the authors expressing feeling fo pressure or extreme desire to please. But at least as many are slackers.

    I mean, can you say authors (implying *all* authors) do anything, any more than that all readers do?

  17. karmelrio
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 09:44:47

    Jody W said, “The pressure comes from the agents/publishers, not the readers.”

    I can’t tell you how much I agree with this statement, and in my mind, it’s ultimately a short-term, profit-driven, self-defeating perspective. As a reader, nothing disappoints me more than to see a writer’s quality drop off in the name of getting more “product” out the door, faster. Readers recognize “product” when we see it. There’s the trendy mhonster-du-jhour, plenty of “Tab A in Slot B/C/D” action, but it feels heartless, emotion-less, dead on the page. No one – readers, authors, or publishers – is served by this. I don’t buy books that make me feel this way.

    I’d like the authors I love to SLOW DOWN, to take the time they need to write a GOOD book, one I’ll love, one I’ll squee over, one that will find a place on my keeper shelf. Make me anticipate your next book like pomegranate, like Godiva, like a lover’s touch. Make me wait. I’ll love you for it.

  18. Tee
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 09:57:04

    Susanna Kearsley wrote:
    In return, I understand that readers' comments and their criticisms aren't meant to discourage me – it's only people stating their opinions, and that's fine. I'm always flattered someone chose a book of mine out of the many, many books they could have chosen, and that they took time out of their busy life to read it, and I think that after all that effort they have every right to say exactly what they thought of it.

    I love what you wrote here, Susanna. It’s true and to the point. We as readers/consumers do have the right to state whether we enjoy something or we don’t. That doesn’t give us license to react in a rude or condescending manner, but we can say it. So when you pitch a product out there in the public domain, it’s open for comments. Even posters need to realize that all they say is out there too and subject to opinions. In these kinds of discussions, written or vocal amenities matter a lot, though. Unfortunately, when commenting, manners are occasionally forgotten or disregarded.

  19. Shiloh Walker
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 10:03:10

    I think you expressed yourself just fine. :)

    I blog because I want to. I interact on other blogs because I enjoy it-and very often, I just love to share my opinion whether others want it or not. ;)

    I read what readers have to say about my stuff, I read all reader emails and I love it when somebody says, I loved book X, when is book Y coming out? even though very often book Y is still being written, or I haven’t quite started–I don’t feel an excess of pressure to get book Y done, but that’s because I know how I work-if I try to force it before it’s ready, it won’t come. Or worse, it WILL come and it will suck rotten eggs. Readers always seem to understand that when I explain why something is taking so long, so no, I don’t really feel the pressure.

    I’ll be up front and say one type of comment that does bug me is when I see something like…. well, Shiloh Walker’s stuff is pretty good, but she’s no XXXX XXXX (insert one of the big names in romance).

    Of course I’m not. I’m me, I write like me, and I don’t want to be another XXXX XXXX. If every author out there wrote like XXXX XXXX, reading would be very, very boring, and writing even more so. I don’t like comparing myself to others, holding myself up to others, etc, etc, etc.

    However, as much as that sort of comment irritates me, I don’t feel pressured to write more like XXXX XXXX. I couldn’t, even if I tried, and I don’t want the headache that comes with trying. This doesn’t mean I wouldn’t love to see my books take off in a huge, major way, but I’m also not going to lay awake at nights worrying about trying to be more like somebody else.

    If an author is unable to separate herself from the expectations of her readers, then perhaps she needs to disengage.

    I wholeheartedly agree with this. If a writer is writing mainly to please her readers above all else, then the story is going to suffer for it. I write to meet or exceed my own expectations, and to tell the story the way it plays out for me, to tell the best story I can.

  20. joanne
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 10:19:26

    Why can’t “I can’t WAIT for the next book, write faster!” just be the compliment it’s meant to be?

    I don’t really expect an author to write to my schedule and honestly I don’t know any other readers that think they are — or should be — in control of what their fav authors publish in terms of volume.

    As for the blogs and the sites and the interaction with fans… whatever works for that author is fine, but most of the books… actually all of the books I buy… are from reader and reviewer recommendations, not because an author has a great site or an active blog.

    I always point to Susan Elizabeth Phillips when we (readers) talk about how quickly an author produces a book. S.E.P. is soooooooo slow, LOL! Honestly she just takes what seems like forever between books, but when she delivers? Oh boy. Well worth the wait. And I don’t think anyone could get her to write faster but then why would we want her to when the end so justifys the means?

    As for la’ Nora? She’s just a blessing to the genre with her books but she is who she is, no one I know thinks many other authors should try (or could achieve) that kind of volume while maintaining that kind of excellance.

    What I don’t want from authors I love? Lunch. Personal information that’s way too much even for BFFs. Angst.. see Lisa Valdez *sigh*

    And Jane, you’re always right on track and we thank you!

  21. Lizzy
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 10:21:12

    @ Dotty: agreed.

    Nora Roberts:

    * writes 20 books a month (a low estimate), even in February.
    * some of those are great, some are just meh. But always, they’re pretty readable; she’s just got a really engaging style of writing. Also, she’s versatile.
    * she’s commenting on every blog I go to, which is just insane. Where does she find the time?
    * never indulges in tacky shenanigans.

    Nora Roberts’ perfect nature leads me to believe that she is, in fact, a romance heroine herself. Or a cyborg.

  22. Jamaica Layne
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 10:23:36

    Since we’re harping on expectations and genre here, let me point out that when I tried to comment that the contemporary romance is alive and well via the blossoming of erotic romance, I got skewered by Jane herself, and essentially told not to comment on that thread any more. To each her own, obviously, but whether you like it or read it or not, contemporary erotic romance is a legit (and growing) part of the genre.

    And I think authors who are not interested in pleasing their readers are just going to put themselves out of business. Knowing and understanding your readership is very, very important.

    As far as pressure to produce, I’m prolific mostly for my own reasons (i.e., I suffer from a massive inferiority complex which is chiefly what drives me to be very, very productive), but I also agree that agents and editors apply that pressure as well—-simply because if they view you as a gold mine, they want you to produce even more gold for their pocketbooks. Example; My editors wanted me to produce TWELVE (yes, TWELVE) books next year for a monthly series—-I told them NO WAY. (I would have killed myself writing that much). On the one hand, it’s nice to know your work is in demand, but on the other, it’s nice to have a life.

  23. joanne
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 10:26:29

    Wait! Fan-girl moment:

    Shiloh Sighting! OMG! Love your books, so great!

    okay….. I’m heading back to my adult world now.

  24. Jane
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 10:28:59

    @Jamaica Layne – Oh please. I expressed my opinion and it disagreed with yours. Let’s not distort the record. My opinion was that straight contemporaries are not the same as erotic romances which is its own sub genre and treated like that by almost everyone in publishing.

  25. Monica Burns
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 10:40:58

    Everything’s subjective when it comes to books, and I keep that in mind when I read reviews or readers comments. I don’t know that I really feel reader pressure, but when they ask about when XX character’s story is going to come out, I’m left thinking, damn, I wish I had more time so I could write that book, not because the reader wants the book but because I love the secondary character as much as the reader did.

    I blog and comment because I have opinions and generally I don’t know when to shut up. *grin* My marketing/PR background also compels me to blog and comment. It’s not readers forcing me to do this, I do it because of my training. I have cut back on my blogging, and only visit one or two blogs daily, DA is one of those blogs because of the balanced commentary. I don’t comment all the time, just when something interests me. (Of course, I work a full-time job and have the ability to do this during the work day as time permits, so when I’m writing full-time, that could easily change).

    I’m with Shiloh on everything she said, in particular the aspect of writing what I want and not what readers demand. I tried writing to trends in the market and it didn’t work. Let me rephrase that…it didn’t just NOT work, it was so bad, that it wasn’t fit for consumption by anyone, not even me. So I write what I love and it shows in the end project. I just finished my latest book and it is definitely way outside the trend in historicals both in setting and characters. Will it sell and be well-received? Who knows, but it is a book I had to write, I love it and that’s the most important thing. I want to love my stories, if I don’t then it won’t matter what readers demand because the story will suck.

    As for putting out XX number of books a year, I think the fast pace of ePub might be one factor in this trend. When some authors are used to writing so fast, then there’s this expectation whether reader or writer based that pushed the envelope. I also think money does have a lot to do with that fast turn-around. For those of us working the day job and writing at night/weekends, it can be grueling. The faster we produce a book that sells well, the sooner we can increase our income and quit that day job to do the job we love to do.

  26. Mrs Giggles
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 10:49:44

    As for putting out XX number of books a year, I think the fast pace of ePub might be one factor in this trend

    It happens to print too. How many books did Sherrilyn Kenyon, Gena Showalter, and Christine Feehan put out in the last two years again? And I hear two of those authors are already working on a YA series…

    I have a hard time believing that making as much money as possible never factored in these authors’ decision to come out with so many books in such a short time. Or that the publishers do not exert any pressure on these authors to write as fast as possible after giving these authors such big advances.

  27. karmelrio
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 10:52:38

    On the one hand, it's nice to know your work is in demand, but on the other, it's nice to have a life.

    Yes, I think a healthy work/life balance – and a sense of your personal boundaries – is important, no matter what your job. Burnout is no fun.

    ETA: Sorry to say that Feehan isn’t on my auto-buy list anymore, either.

  28. Jane O
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 11:02:47

    As a reader, I have expectations, preferences and wishes.

    My expectations are for competently written books with coherent plots and consistent characters. I think most authors would agree that these are not unreasonable -‘ indeed, they doubtless expect those things of themselves. I can’t imagine anyone deliberately setting out to produce an illiterate mishmash of inconsistencies.

    My preferences are for the types of books I personally like -‘ historicals, romantic suspense and contemporaries, preferably with humor. I don’t much care for vampires, paranormals, sci-fi, or erotica. I’ve tried some of those recommended on sites like this but I’ve never managed to finish. That certainly doesn’t mean I think those books should not be written or published, and I can’t imagine an author being foolish enough to think so. There are plenty of readers who like those books and don’t much care for my favorites.

    And while I might wish for a book a week from my favorite authors, I certainly don’t expect anyone to take that wish seriously. I suspect that one reason my favorite authors are my favorites is that they take as much time as they need to get it right.

    As for author blogs, I approach with a bit of trepidation. I find them fascinating when the authors talk about their craft, about research, about the industry. However, I don’t really want to know anything personal about the authors, or about their political views. That sort of information might interfere with my enjoyment of the books. (I enjoyed Philip Larkins’ poetry far more when I knew far less about him.)

  29. Monica Burns
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 11:06:23

    Mrs. Giggles said:

    It happens to print too. How many books did Sherrilyn Kenyon, Gena Showalter, and Christine Feehan put out in the last two years again? And I hear two of those authors are already working on a YA series…

    And I should have clarified myself better. I was trying to say that the fast-turnaround in ePub may be a factor that NY noticed and took to heart. I was thinking more in lines of the new authors (like me) who are trying/eager to move up to the level of Kenyon, Showalter, Feehan, who are WAY much higher on the totem pole. *smile*

    I have a bad memory, and may be terribly wrong on this, but it seems that authors putting out books as fast as they do now seems only to have exploded in the last eight to ten years. Which is why I mentioned ePubs, because in this specific part of the industry you must write fast to hammer out any type of a living.

    When it comes to well-established print authors, I wouldn’t even hazard a guess as to why their schedules are what they are. I may be naive in thinking that authors of their stature would be able to say, hey, not gonna happen. But then I’m naive most of the time. *smile*

  30. Jamaica Layne
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 11:18:47

    @Jamaica Layne – Oh please. I expressed my opinion and it disagreed with yours. Let's not distort the record. My opinion was that straight contemporaries are not the same as erotic romances which is its own sub genre and treated like that by almost everyone in publishing.@

    You told me point-blank that my comments didn’t belong on the thread, since it was a discussion of contemporary romance, which you don’t think includes erotic romance. (despite the fact erotic romance is shelved in the romance section right alongside the rest of the “regular” contemps at my local Borders and B&N).

    I have no problems with you disagreeing with me. I do have a problem with censorship.

  31. Jane
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 11:21:28

    @Jamaica Layne – I didn’t realize that my comments were paralyzing you to the extent that you could not type on your own computer. Behold the power I wield! Perhaps you have a different definition of censorship than I do.

  32. MCHalliday
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 11:26:10

    I feel like it is important for readers to be able to express themselves.

    Absolutely, opinions and viewpoints should be valued even if they differ from our own and although it might sting, it is best not to retaliate to a critisism. Jane expressed this well, “…learning what critique to take to heart and what to throw away…allows the free flow exchange of opinions and encourages debate and internal inspection.”

    As Jennifer Estep mentioned, “You can’t please everyone…”. No book is loved or hated by every single reader, we all have subgenre preferences and favourite styles that influence our perceptions. Behaving badly to comments indicates a lack of introspection and disengaging would better serve the author.

  33. Bonnie Dee
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 11:34:00

    I want to love my stories, if I don't then it won't matter what readers demand because the story will suck.

    I think it is possible to write to the market and to write a story you only “like” as opposed to love. I’ve been trying to straddle a line, writing some things that are the “books of my heart” and others that I think people other than me will actually like. I’m not saying I dislike the books I wrote for the market or that I didn’t get into them while I was writing them, but some I never would’ve chosen to write if I didn’t feel pressure to sell better. And guess what? The books I wrote with the market in mind are selling better than the ones that mean the most to me personally.

  34. BevQB
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 11:36:38

    Joanne:

    Why can't “I can't WAIT for the next book, write faster!” just be the compliment it's meant to be?

    That’s EXACTLY what it means when I make that statement too and I always assumed that is how an author understood it. So, gee, now I feel guilty for putting pressure on authors.

    As I understand the writing process for many writers, an idea for a book comes from a character, a story thread, SOMETHING that grabs your muse and speaks so loudly that you have no choice but to follow where it leads.

    So (and I’m asking this as a non-writer), how could an author reconcile that kind of creative drive with instead writing what is “inspired” by an outside source, i.e. writing based on what the market wants?

    I’m going to give two examples and I realize one of them is a flashpoint, so I’d like to make it clear that I’m not bringing her up to start an entirely new argument.

    Look at Diana Gabaldon. How many YEARS between Outlander books? Yet, as much as many of us said we “Just can’t wait” for the next one, the fact is that Gabaldon released them when they were ready and not a minute sooner. And we STILL bought them. They were worth the wait.

    Now look at Laurell Hamilton. Let me first say that I am an uber-fangirl of hers, however, even though I say I can’t wait for the next one, the fact is that I think writing two series with releases a few months apart has meant that she seems to emphasize daily page count over story quality.

    That may or may not be true of other authors, but I think ANY author who finds that her contracts leave her no time for anything but getting words down on a page, needs to sit back and remember WHY she writes and WHY she used to ENJOY writing.

    It’s an old rule but I think it’s an excellent one for authors to remember. Hell, tape it to the top of your PC screen: Please yourself first, and the rest will follow.

  35. veinglory
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 11:38:29

    I have always been fond of pulp writers with high output, but I think those with other work styles just need to log off and do what is best for them.

    p.s. Jamaica, how about making a slight effort to respect our host and stay on topic.

  36. Stressed
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 11:43:43

    You know I just had a mini breakdown on Sunday under the weight of edits and deadlines and wanting to start something else while still holding down a full-time non-writing job and having two very active kids. I really felt like I’d rather have writing or the other job only so I could give my all to just one but the writing doesn’t pay the bills yet and I’m just not willing to give it up. And I don’t write fast. I just don’t and I don’t know how to change that. The only way to make writing my full time job is to write more and sell more but I can’t do that fast enough with family and my other job. It’s a catch 22.

    But the pressure that I feel is what I put on myself, period.

  37. Michelle
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 11:45:48

    Did the push to publish 2-3 books a year come from category? Were the 80’s authors pressured/encouraged to publish that many books a year – or did they naturally write that many? It seems to me that some of this started in category.

    I also think the “publishing events” of selling a trilogy back-to-back-to-back have really worked for a lot of authors. If most mass-market paperback purchases are impulse buys (which I’ve been told is true), publishing so frequently keeps an author’s name in mind – or at least increases the likelihood that you’ll recognize that name the next time you see her book on the shelf.

    I think it’s less personal than “readers demand” online and via letter and more that the market has decided that this type of career building works.

  38. Gail Dayton
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 11:51:09

    There’s a fine line between writing Just to please readers, and writing from your own heart. (Or maybe it’s not such a fine line.) Of course we want our readers to be pleased with our books. But, in essence, the author is the first reader. If I don’t like my book, ain’t nobody else gonna like it either.

    I have come to realize, in my own writing, that while I would LIKE to write more than one book a year, and I write fast enough that I probably could–if all I did was write–I have a life. I have a very busy life, with aging parents who can’t remember squat for more than fifteen minutes, and aging in-laws who are getting physically frail, and a son in college, which is why I have a part-time dayjob, and three grandchildren, one of whom has special needs–oh, and I live on a Gulf Coast barrier island which occasionally necessitates hurricane evacuations… (At least I had a house to come back to, when we were allowed to come back. Way too many of my friends and co-workers didn’t…) I’m writing as frantically as I can in between all of my life events, but I’m about to come to the conclusion that one book a year is about all my life will manage. No matter how much pressure anybody puts me under. (Though if that next deadline gets too close next September, the dayjob may go bye-bye.)

    That said, reader influence is a bit like what a wise woman once said about revisions. The reader/editor may say what they want (or what feels wrong), but the author still has to figure out how to make that work for her. It may influence the author to write This story instead of That one, but they’re all the author’s stories that she loves. And reader expectations may also help the author write stronger heroines, if her heroines tend to be limp blankets, or smarter heroines, or make the hero truly realize where he’s gone wrong before he wins the heroine, if that’s an issue. On the other hand, if an author doesn’t read reviews (many do not), that’s not going to happen… Which means that reader expectations Really don’t push those authors.

    And now that I’ve wandered all over the place with my “well, this is true, but this other thing might also be true” wishy-washiness, I’m going to stop. :)

  39. Hortense Powdermaker
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 12:13:53

    I’m seeing a consensus emerging from authors that can be summed up as “yeah, we want to please our readers, but we have to be true to ourselves.” And the great thing about the Internet is that most writers are free to express themselves any way they want.

    If they want to make money, though, consumer jaderation is a factor to consider. I agree that one reader’s cliché can be another person’s addictive romance ramen-aid. I look forward to reading Suzanne Brockmann’s next book even knowing that it’s going to be crawling with SEALS. But ultimately, it’s the buyers (readers, not the publishing industry) who are going to determine what succeeds in the marketplace.

    Dear Author is so valuable in that respect, because unlike some cheerleader blogs, you tend to speak truth to power (witness Jayne’s review of Mr. Bridgerton, I Presume, and your review of Tribute) as well as being willing to skewer the weak. I’m impressed by the thorough job you do in articulating what works and what doesn’t. It’s honest feedback, and while ultimately authors will know whether they’ve succeeded or not based on sales, a heads-up about what’s getting old has got to be useful.

    Like you said,

    the romance community has been ill served in the past by not encouraging critical analysis of the genre

    so we all need to pick through the comments, figure out what rings true, and respond gracefully, like Nora Roberts and Kathleen O’Reilly are wont to do.

    Or we could be flaming bitches and burn our reader bridges as some OTHER authors are wont to do.

    Excellent LOLcat, btw.

  40. DS
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 12:15:08

    As for pressure to write– I think that has always been there in certain areas, generally the short shelf life category publishers. Looking back at the various Silhouette and Harlequin lines of yore– ok they are probably still in existence– when an author was hot the publishers PUSHED that author. I think I remember hearing about contracts that required a certain number of books in a certain time period. The result was piles of books by Krentz– under how many pseudonyms?, Iris Johansen, Barbara Delinsky– again under several names such as Billie Douglass, Bonnie Drake,– and Elizabeth Lowell.

    Some of those older books are practically unreadable now or at least fairly repetitive. And this was definitely the result of the demands of Harlequin or Dell or whoever owned Silhouette for a certain number of books in a year. The authors I have mentioned seemed to have gone on to best seller success after slowing down a bit (and at times changing genres).

  41. Meljean
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 12:19:40

    I find that most of my pressure is internal — I don’t write as fast as I wish I could (and that’s not because of readers, but a combination of fear that I’ll vanish in the market if I go too long between releases and storylines that I want to get out of my head and onto paper); I like to blog, so I irritate myself when I don’t have time for it. I really want to be Wonder Woman and have 48 hours in a day. So I make myself crazy enough.

    I also have no interest in reading/telling a story that is so wishy-washy that it can be swayed by the demands of a readership. As a reader, of course I say, “OMG, Please write faster!” … but that really is just a compliment, in the vein of “OMG, Christian Bale, will you marry me?” I don’t really expect it, and don’t feel disappointment when it doesn’t happen — I would feel disappointment if the author then wrote something as fast as she could, and it was a complete assy failure.

    Writing, I see it the same way — I might get e-mails that say ‘write faster,’ but I assume that they don’t mean, ‘write a rushed, assy book.’ I think the ‘to thine own self be true’ quote does fit, writing the best book that you can that you love … and recognizing that there are readers who really aren’t part of your audience. Whether it’s the sub-genre, the voice, whatever — in the big scheme of things, there are more people who aren’t going to be interested in your books than will be. And those who are, I appreciate the hell out of them … but I don’t think they’d appreciate my work anymore if I tried to be everything to everyone (because that’s usually very meh.)

    But although I’m not being swayed/pressured by reader expectations, I also appreciate the criticism from readers. In my case, my first books were labeled confusing often enough that I realized I *had* to respond with a change in my writing style. Internalizing some feedback can be helpful, and I think doesn’t always mean compromising artistic integrity (if I have any) or that you’ve succumbed to pressure. Sometimes, it’s just evolution and growth.

  42. Emmy
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 12:35:14

    I don’t know if publishing pressures come from readers so much as the authors themselves. I know some say that even if their book never sells they’d still be writing because they just have to, but really that’s just bs. They wouldn’t be furiously blogging and putting up websites and Myspace and Facebook pages, and making book trailers if that were the case. They’d get the book published and walk away and enjoy whatever money they got as a wonderful bonus. There would be no “pleeease lobby Walmart to buy my books so I can get published again” posts.

    Authors want to write the next big bestseller and go from food stamps to tennis camps a la JK Rowling. The pressure comes from wanting to see their name on the NYT list, and once they write a moderately well accepted book, there’s more internal pressure to write another book to keep those fans and get a few more. They want to put out multiple books each year so they can remain relevant within their genre. There are so many publishers putting out hundreds of books each week that it’s difficult to get noticed in the crowd. Unless the book is just amazing, which most aren’t, it’s hard to remember a mediocre author who writes one story a year or so.

    As a reader, I don’t really care about all that. There are very few authors that I fangurl and wait breathlessly for their next book. There are too many good authors out there for me to perseverate on any one person. If I like a book, yay, if not, I move on to the next one.

  43. Leah
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 12:58:17

    Just piping in as a reader to say that I don’t mind waiting and waiting for books. I still remember an author I love even when they go a few years between new work. Even if I think something in a particular book is a little lame, that doesn’t stop me from buying the next one, or even putting that book on my keeper shelf. For instance, I love one author’s ghost/romance books. They all seem to have a very similar ending–variations on a theme. Another (I think deceased) author always has the ghost story fizzle at some point. Still, I read and reread those things, and actually charged one today, right after I told my husband that we couldn’t afford impulse buying this week :o!

    I also think the pressure to be prolific is from the publishers–and the desire to keep one’s name out there, and eventually get to the point where one can quit the day job, send the kids to college, pay medical bills or retire without having to scrounge odd jobs. Until I started reading blogs, I had no idea that, once one finished a book deal, she had to start over again with querying, etc. I assumed that you could continue to publish as much as you produced. I also didn’t realize how small advances were, and how quickly a book can go out of print. Chick-lit that I put on my Amazon wish list in 2006 and 2007 are now already listed as out of print. No wonder writers feel so much pressure, not to mention the pressure to hold onto a career that provides some creative satisfaction, and is usually the fulfillment of a long-cherished dream.

  44. Anion
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 12:59:51

    Why can't “I can't WAIT for the next book, write faster!” just be the compliment it's meant to be?

    Lol, I’m either dense or too egotistical to live, because it never in a million years would have occurred to me that it wasn’t. I think it was Barbara Michaels who listed the three top ways into a writer’s heart:

    1. Tell them how much you like their books
    2. Ask when the next book is coming out
    3. Ask if you can read it before it comes out

    I don’t know that the third one really works anymore, not when there’s piracy and set pub dates and all of that, but when someone tells me they love my books and asks when the next one is coming out, it just makes me happy. It doesn’t make me take to my bed of stress and worry or anything.

    You know, just as a general aside, it’s rather silly to make claims that things were said here in other threads, when anyone with half a brain can simply find the thread, see exactly what was said, and thus know when people are either exaggerating, or just incapable of understanding the written word. Just sayin’.

  45. JaimeK
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 13:01:21

    To just add my two cents – as a reader I may say to an author (I have to Shiloh & Patrica Briggs) “I just finished XXX, it was sooo good when is XXX coming out I cannot wait?!” Truthfully, it is totally retorical. I have no expectation that the next book is right around the corner. I may want it, but what I want more is quality over quantity. If Shiloh gave me only one book a year or even every two but the work was out of this world? Well, you know, I would wait and be happy. I am an author loyal kind of girl and I want good solid work not shoddy production work move ‘em in and move ‘em out kind of stuff.

  46. rebyj
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 13:05:03

    As a reader, I have to say that a lot of things I bitch about, I’ll find out later is in ignorance.

    For example ,I might rant and rave about 18 books in a series being paperback and number 19 being hardback. Or books from an author coming out 3 in a year then having to wait 2 years for the next. I’ll complain about the cover. An important figure in a series gets a short story in an anthology which is only available as an ebook, reviewer’s getting ARC’s a year before a book is finally released …etc.

    Then as I’ve read blogs such as this one I find out some things are out of the author’s hands. Yes, I’m ignorant but learning! I have to wonder if some author’s are ignorant too. Not about the business, but about how and what attracts readers to unknown author’s or books. Hopefully authors are learning as well.

    When an author takes reader/fan suggestions to heart TOO much, they end up writing subpar books such as one author who now you have to be part of her online community to even know who some characters in her books are and where they come from.

    In my humble opinion, authors who know they have good stories to tell should stay true to those stories. Keep an eye on reader trends to spark new stories and consider a ” write faster” comment from a reader as a compliment not a command.

    I love to read authors I like and respect express their opinions on things other than their books if I agree with them or not I read their books for entertainment. It does add another interesting layer of community in this strong (mostly) women romantic fiction world that we’re lucky enough to have extend from not just the book in our hand but on the internet as well.

  47. Julia Sullivan
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 13:08:44

    You can want anything your heart desires (like a pony! With hair that you can braid!)

    The problem is when people feel entitled to what they want.

    Jane, your wants are your own, and I don’t see you imposing them on authors by expressing them.

    The people who wrote fanfic of “Brokeback Mountain” and sent it to Annie Proulx and were offended when she wasn’t thrilled about that? THAT’S the kind of entitlement mentality that bugs authors. The stuff that Roslyn Holcomb is talking about also smacks a bit of entitlement: saying “I’m dark-skinned, and I’d love to see more dark-skinned heroines” is fine, but demanding dark-skinned heroines like a spoiled child is going over the line.

  48. Emily
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 13:13:42

    As a reader I want the books I read to be quality, not quantity. So if I have to wait a year between books, then that’s what I do. I could name several authors that I have stopped reading completely because it’s the same story, the same characters, the same dialogue! And the writing, when done so fast, sometimes tends to get a little squeaky. Am I amazed at the speed at which some writers turn out books? Sure. Am I impressed? Not usually. Quality, not quantity.

    As a writer familiar with the “book of my heart” concept, I have to say that if I don’t like what I am writing, there is no way I am going to finish it well or finish it at all. I have to be in deep, deep like with my story to even get it to the page so I don’t waste my time following the latest trend. It doesn’t work for me. At some point what I write will come around again and I’ll be ready. In the meantime, working the day job and continuing to read quality books by my favorites.

    Emily
    http://emilybecher.blogspot.com

  49. Marsha
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 13:49:31

    As a reader, when I perceive that an author I enjoy is engaging a wee bit too much* with the more vocal fans I feel a creeping dread. Not that I feel entitled to get to say how much interaction is good or bad, just that I’ve seen over and over how the fans who participate the most in message boards, contests, marketing fun and games and so on end up having more influence on the writing than I think the author intended.

    There’s an author that I’ve read religiously for eight years that I’m now shrugging off because she’s busy sending presents to people on her board, posting pics of craft projects inspired by her characters and tacitly endorsing personal care products actually *named* after characters and there’s no actual writing forthcoming for a year or more. I don’t know that these two things (the busyness and the no writing) but I can’t help but wonder, where does that leave me? I don’t actually wish to bake cakes and decorate them in themes of the books or post letters to the heroes on the message board or offer suggestions of what songs should be on a book’s “playlist”. But I get the sense more and more that unless I’m willing to participate on this level I don’t get *anything* because the book is still 12 months or more away and when it is released, it’s not going to be as much of the author’s voice – which I liked – but will also include a whole bunch of thoughts and input (explicit or not) from these fans, many of whom I think are, well, a bit crazy.

    This is one author in particular that I’m thinking of and she’s an extreme case, but I don’t think she’s alone in this kind of behaviour.

    * What’s “too much”? Hard to say – a bit of a moving target and different from one person to the next.

  50. Jessa Slade
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 13:49:57

    I’m a newbie author. My experience (so far) has been that my publisher is very supportive of me taking time to perfect my story. I don’t have any readers yet so I can’t say what force they’ll exert. Honestly, most of the pressure I’m feeling comes from other authors: hearing how they are pressured, how they’re trying to respond to that pressure, reading their promo-centric blogs, etc. It’s my fault for internalizing that pressure, but at the moment that’s where I personally feel it coming from.

    (Sorry for ending in a preposition; I have a cold and my words are getting backlogged in mucous.)

  51. Jaci Burton
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 13:54:13

    When I get the “Omg I loved this book when is the next one coming out?” from a reader, it’s the greatest thing in the world. When I give them the answer and it’s followed by “Oh that’s too long, I don’t want to wait that long!”, I’m not at all pressured. I have no control over publication dates. I feel bad I can’t give a reader the next book RIGHT NOW. I live to make my readers happy. But I have only so much control over my destiny. I know when my deadlines are and I hit those. I have control over my characters and my plotlines and the development of the story. I have control over how many books I want to write and (hopefully) sell within the next 1/2/5/10 years so I can start working up proposals for those.

    Anything else I don’t have control over, and I can’t worry about. It’s my responsibility to be as honest with my readers as I can, both with my storytelling and in letting them know what’s going to be written and available, and when, and what isn’t. That’s the best I can do.

  52. Anion
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 14:11:02

    The people who wrote fanfic of “Brokeback Mountain” and sent it to Annie Proulx and were offended when she wasn't thrilled about that? THAT'S the kind of entitlement mentality that bugs authors.

    Actually, this author (meaning me) found Proulx‘s attitude to be the offensive one, incredibly so. My guess is the vast majority of those people had no idea what they were doing was called fanfic or that there were loose rules to it; they were attempting to share with her how much her work touched them, and in exchange she insulted their intelligence, implied they’d done something terrible in taking the story to heart, and behaved as though they’d ruined her life by sending her mail she was under no obligation to open or read or reply to.

    Somebody in that situation had an entitlement mentality, but it sure as hell wasn’t the poor readers (whose reaction I never saw anywhere, actually; I never saw a single person claiming they’d sent her a story and were offended by her response). It was the miserable snob of an author, and the article/interview was about how incredibly offended she was that anyone would think she’d care how much her work touched them.

  53. Shiloh Walker
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 14:19:57

    Wait! Fan-girl moment:

    Shiloh Sighting! OMG! Love your books, so great!

    okay….. I'm heading back to my adult world now.

    Awwww….thank you!

  54. SusanB
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 14:42:41

    I am amazed, this whole topic popped in my mind recently. I was thinking about Linda Howard, who to my mind, doesn’t do a website, blog etc. I have not been to any conventions, conferences so don’t know her presence there. What I was thinking, is that this method seems to work for her. I still read all her books, and I assume she loves her life and lives it as she pleases. I make that assumption because her heroines generally follow that pattern.
    Anyways, as a reader who has driven to three bookstores and a superstore or two looking for books from favorite authors on “publication day” I know I am somewhat OCD when I want my “new” book(s).
    However, I also know that I can’t keep up with my life, family and household as well as I would like. I would expect my fave authors to do what they need to do to be happy, creative, loving life and writing books at their pace.
    Great topic Jane!

  55. Robin/Janet
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 15:06:20

    We forgive almost anything if you've written some really good books, too.

    Absolutely. There are a few authors who would probably have to commit mayhem or some other heinous crime against me before I gave up their books. The easiest author to give up is not the obnoxious author, it’s the mediocre author.

    It strikes me that there is so much fear around this idea of “writing to the market.” As an active market member, I believe that the market is largely created when readers take to a certain book. Who knows how many more of those books could have been written while publishers and/or authors were scrambling to cash in on the magic generated by another book. Magic is unlimited, and the possibilities for great books is IMO much vaster than one would guess based on what is published (and this applies to every genre).

    Readers talk; we complain and rant and praise and abet each other in reading more. Most reader comments and opinions are about sharing out experiences, about conversation and venting. Most don’t require a response or remedy. And most of the time the remedy fashioned will not satisfy because the magic between readers and books is more about charisma and chemistry than meeting a list of complaints of requests.

    One of my favorite experiences as a reader is when I get the sense that an author’s passion for their book is coming through the prose, drawing me in and making me care. Sure it’s an affectation, a function of that unexplainable chemistry, but that’s what I look for as a reader, and what I want most from authors and publishers is books they think are *good* first, rather than books they believe first and foremost will sell.

  56. Michelle
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 15:21:33

    SusanB – It’s my understanding that the reason Linda Howard is not active in the online community is she has had problems with several stalkers and law enforcement advised her to not have a Web site, etc. She is on the RWA national board and was active in her local chapter before that. I’ve gotten the impression it’s a “giving back” as opposed to a marketing move – but I’m by no means a BFF to Ms. Howard – though I have also gone to several bookstores on her books’ release dates in the past.

    Actually, speaking of OCD book buyers, I just did that at lunch today – went to the B. Dalton (union station, dc) to buy 4 or so of this month’s historical releases. Unfortunately, it looked like the Avon books hadn’t arrived yet, and I ordered Julie Anne Long’s latest. I was the 9th person to do so today at that store! We aren’t the only OCD romance book buyers out there.

  57. XandraG
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 15:54:51

    I think it’s a little off-kilter to be comparing folks like Linda Howard and Nora Roberts with folks in the midlist. These ladies are household names and have spent years and years developing their readerships through many, many books. Also, for authors who started out in the pre-internet days, it was much harder to become too familiar with readers. One didn’t see real-time and unedited interactions with authors in the Waldenbooks monthly genre newsletter. :)

    For an author who’s a midlister, or just starting out, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle, and there is a subtle pressure to make sure your name is “out there” and the easiest, quickest way to do that is to find an online romance community and participate in it. Sometimes to the detriment of their writing.

    Commenter Emmy posted the following:
    I don't know if publishing pressures come from readers so much as the authors themselves. I know some say that even if their book never sells they'd still be writing because they just have to, but really that's just bs. They wouldn't be furiously blogging and putting up websites and Myspace and Facebook pages, and making book trailers if that were the case. They'd get the book published and walk away and enjoy whatever money they got as a wonderful bonus. There would be no “pleeease lobby Walmart to buy my books so I can get published again” posts.

    Actually, I’m one of those authors. I *would* still be writing if I never sold. I blog, but I have a website/Myspace/facebook presence, because getting the book published wouldn’t do me a damn bit of good if it didn’t sell any copies. It is a sad fact that past numbers can and do reflect on an author’s future acceptance. More than one “midlist” author has found her current manuscripts rejected by a publisher due to poor sales of previously published books. This is not the case with all publishers, or all authors, but it has happened. You can’t just sell a manuscript and sit back while the money rolls in (I wish!) in spite of the occasional oddball situation where exactly that happens. No one can love your writing if they don’t know it’s out there.

    Now as a n00b author, I can say that it’s easy to get caught up in all the things you think you need to do, so it’s imperative that each author figures out just where her threshold is. Personally, my threshold has gone way down since my book first came out. I’ve shifted my focus to writing now, because the time taken up with promo and socializing needs to go to the PTO (she says, slinking away from the blogosphere with two hundred words still left on her daily wordcount).

    Authors have to be artists and businesspeople. It’s not an easy line to walk.

  58. Dakota
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 16:05:00

    I admit to also having, at times, contradictory feelings about the author-reader relationship. And I’ve also come to the conclusion, to each his/her own.

    I do, however, think the argument can be made that the pressure to write more and faster is largely symptomatic of what people are calling our “exponential society.” (I actually had a very lengthy discussion on this topic with a friend last night after Brian Williams (of NBC’s nightly news) blogged about a video making the rounds of the web.) There is pressure to have a greater public presence, to be more immediate, to be more productive, and yet the audience can seem ravenous for even more. I don’t think romance as a genre is isolated in this, or even the fiction world. Take news columnists, for example. They face increasing pressure to blog, maintain a website, a presence on facebook, twitter, etc. as print newspapers face the increasing cry that life as they knew it is over. One of my favorite NYT columnists wrote three blog posts today alone. Ten years ago he put out two columns a week and that was all readers “saw” from him. Now he does two columns a week in addition to anywhere from 5-20 “mini” columns in his NYT blog. On the other hand, another NYT columnist I read regularly has pretty much no web presence whatsoever, so the readers only “see” her twice a week and I’ll admit to wishing she had a blog, website, etc. I like what she has to say so I want more. Does this mean I refuse to read her columns until I get more? No, of course not. The same can be said about romance novelists I enjoy reading. I’m not going to stop reading their books if they don’t produce at the pace I’d like them to or blog, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting as much from them as I can get (as long as quality isn’t compromised).

    So what does that mean? How do we all make decisions on production, promotion, etc? Well, I don’t want to sound wishy-washy, but I’ve come to the conclusion that the best policy is to do what makes you happy without worrying about pleasing all of the people all of the time, because that will probably be pretty rare.

  59. Lynne Connolly
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 17:02:41

    After all these erudite comments, mine seems far too simple, but here it is, fwiw.

    When I sit down to write a book, I write the book that I want to read. That means at least one person will be happy, and even if the book never leaves my computer, I won’t have wasted my time. I wrote that way for years and years, so it’s probably too late to change it now.

    When I edit, that’s when I look at the market and think if the story is acceptable, or if I’m targeting it to the right people. That’s how I came to write a HQN Modern/Presents last year, although it’s still sitting on the editor’s desk! The story said “write me.” I didn’t know it was a Modern/Presents until I’d done it, and when I finished it, I went back and refined and honed it a bit.

    Then if my book is accepted, I get the notes from my editor, and these too help me to hone and target it better. I feel that if I want someone to pay for my books, then I owe them something as well, but if I didn’t have that initial story, I wouldn’t have the base to work on. I don’t roll over and do everything asked – if it doesn’t work with the story I won’t do it, but so far I haven’t had any major quibbles. But I won’t change a story so much that I wouldn’t enjoy reading it.

    Marketing and promotion. You get what you pay for, and author’s budgets are severely limited. I think the very best promotion is to write the best book you can.

    And decide what you want. If you want to be rich and famous, and the books are a means to that, then you need to plan your strategy differently to a person who just wants to write and see their books on the shelves.

    I spent years in the rat race, crashing through glass ceilings. Now I just want to enjoy what I have.

  60. Deb Kinnard
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 17:08:18

    @ Emmy, who said: “I know some say that even if their book never sells they'd still be writing because they just have to, but really that's just bs.”

    Well, not in all cases. I was writing long before I sold, and I’m still writing things that may never sell.

    When I first read Jane’s post, I didn’t think of reader-expectations so much as publishing-world expectations. See, I write books; but it seems the pubs and agents and everyone would like me also to become an expert blogger, promo guru, platform-rich speaker, and generally reinvent myself. Tellin’ ya, it ain’t gonna happen.

    For one thing, like the poster above, I have a life and a day job. I couldn’t do all these things, and do them well, and have anything left over for the writing. Nor are they things I’m inclined to do–I’d rather spend the time working on the WIP.

    For me, compared to these big-ticket items, reader expectations seem the easier to handle.

  61. karmelrio
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 17:14:52

    I admit to also having, at times, contradictory feelings about the author-reader relationship. And I've also come to the conclusion, to each his/her own.

    I think this is a key point. As a reader, I don’t feel my relationship is with the author. Rather, it’s with the author’s book. A lot of today’s technology has eroded the boundary between author and reader, and I’m one of those who questions whether that’s necessarily a good thing.

  62. SonomaLass
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 17:29:29

    On the question of “write the next one sooner,” I agree that usually that’s meant as a compliment. I also agree that most readers are patient about waiting if the book, when it comes out, is worth it. I read a lot of fantasy, and some of my favorite authors take years to write the next book — and they tend to be epic length, and I often have to/get to reread the earlier one(s) because it’s been so long in between. With authors I love, I try to be patient. With newer authors, or authors I like but don’t love. I tend to make a note of the series and wait until several have been published before jumping in. Still waiting, but waiting to start rather than waiting for the next fix.

    Anyway, what I wanted to say is that some readers aren’t patient, and they don’t say “hurry up with the next book” as a compliment. George R.R. Martin has, I know, gotten some very rude comments from readers about the delay in his Ice & Fire series. Diana Gabaldon, mentioned by a couple of people upthread as worth waiting for, recently posted on her web site that she gets email from readers accusing her of deliberately withholding the next Outlander book in order to “drive the price up,” among other wacky accusations. I’m sure that’s a small minority of readers, but it’s worth remembering that there are people out there who get mean about waiting for the next book. So if your favorite author doesn’t take “pleez hurry OMG Ican’twait” as a compliment, try to understand.

    Sounds to me, Jane, like we mostly agree with you that readers expressing their opinions is a good thing, and that authors listening and then deciding what, if anything, it means for them is also a good thing. Authors want to know what readers think, which is not always the same thing as agreeing to change what or how you write in response.

  63. Ann Somerville
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 18:00:52

    I got skewered by Jane herself, and essentially told not to comment on that thread any more.

    I really have a hard time believing this. I’ve seen Jane severely provoked and angry at people. I’ve seen her severely provoked and angry at me. I have never, ever seen her tell anyone – not me, not her other personal PITAs – not to comment. I’ve seen her close off threads that were just getting ridiculous. But to my knowledge, no one but spammers has ever been banned or even told off list to knock it off or go away. No, not even me.

    Not agreeing with you != telling you not to comment.

    I know some say that even if their book never sells they'd still be writing because they just have to, but really that's just bs. They wouldn't be furiously blogging and putting up websites and Myspace and Facebook pages, and making book trailers if that were the case.

    I can tell you’re not a writer then, because I was promoing my free writing (and still do) as hard as I do my pro-pubbed stuff, long before I had any desire to be pro-pubbed. Writers crave two things – to give form to all those insistent voices and stories in their heads, and to share those voice and stories with others. Storytellers need audiences. I write for myself, and I publish for feedback. It’s no different now I’m pro, and it won’t change when I stop pro-publishing.

    Why can't “I can't WAIT for the next book, write faster!” just be the compliment it's meant to be?

    Because authors like being liked and love to please others same as most people do?

    In fandom, it was a common complaint that readers treat fanwriters like slot machines – put in coin, story pops out, as often as required. I certainly got that – every single time I put a new story up, I would get an email within an hour saying “Great story, where’s the sequel?” Argh.

    In original writing, it’s not so bad, because people haven’t the same expectations of speed. But in m/m (because of slash fandom) and in e-pubbing, the expectations are higher regarding speed, particularly from publishers. An epublisher wants the author to have those stories lined up 1,2,3 (which is why there are so many unsatisfyingly short ‘novellas’ put out especially in the m/m genre.) I write fast, and I still find the pressure a bit irritating.

    However, I can’t write to order, so if my editor were to say, hey, we have a guaranteed slot for a lesbian werewolf menage a trois set on Mars, I couldn’t do it anyway. And I can’t write faster than I want to. So basically, I don’t have a choice but to do what comes naturally, because I can’t do anything else.

    people feel entitled to what they want.

    For some reason, this applies to readers more than the audience for any other artform (except films) – and I honestly don’t know why. Maybe because painters and sculptures work in privacy and produce a body of work you can either take or leave, in a process we find somewhat difficult and mysterious, whereas most people can write and assume that being able to string words together, enables them to understand the authoring process and alter it as they wish. Which is, in fact, no more true for authors than it is for watercolourists.

  64. Mrs Giggles
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 18:34:16

    Writers crave two things – to give form to all those insistent voices and stories in their heads, and to share those voice and stories with others. Storytellers need audiences. I write for myself, and I publish for feedback. It's no different now I'm pro, and it won't change when I stop pro-publishing.

    Ann, you’re a unique case in that you are well-versed in creating websites that feature your work to an audience. Not all authors can do that. Some, once they lose their contract with a publisher and learn that other publishers won’t touch them because of reported poor sales or because their genre is no longer the “hot stuff”, end up retiring from writing and are never heard from again in the genre. That is when I wish, selfishly, that these authors had conformed to the pressures exerted by readers/publishers to write what sells.

  65. Gennita Low
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 18:43:52

    Pardon the interruption for some self-promo.

    Pleeease lobby Walmart to buy my books so I can get published again.

    Think of my four very hungry pomeranians. Ktxbye.

  66. Ann Somerville
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 19:01:39

    Ann, you're a unique case in that you are well-versed in creating websites that feature your work to an audience. Not all authors can do that.

    Er…not sure what being able to make a website has to do with writing. Plenty of writers make do with WordPress blogs or ye olde Geocities.

    Some, once they lose their contract with a publisher and learn that other publishers won't touch them because of reported poor sales or because their genre is no longer the “hot stuff”, end up retiring from writing and are never heard from again in the genre.

    True, but you know, writing’s like any other activity – you can just get sick of it, even if you’re good at it (like Grant Hackett the Olympic swimmer.) Maybe those authors were flogging themselves even though they weren’t enjoying it, and when they weren’t even making money out of it, they decided to chuck it in. This job’s too hard to do it for any reason but love in the first place. Money’s not enough incentive on its own.

  67. Ann Somerville
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 19:02:37

    Think of my four very hungry pomeranians

    Why not just ask people to send you dogfood instead? :)

  68. Gennita Low
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 19:09:11

    If one chooses writing as a career, then one chooses all the pressure that comes along with it. As a mid-list author, the pressure is on her to promote herself, to make “it” happen, “it” being the career part of writing.

    Every writer loves to write, but to be published and to keep being published, the writer must do a lot more than writing these days. There are exceptions–some writers hit it big on that first book (they have other kinds of pressure, I’m sure). But most of us who want to do this for a living have to learn the business side of writing–and that includes promotion and interaction with other readers–to be successful.

    Yeah, I’ll continue writing even if I’m not published, but I am* and it’s part of my career plans to be successful at this gig. Why? Because I love writing and it’d be killer sweet if my writing income could make it my main career, ya know?

    The pressure is real but we’re all different people, so we deal with it our own way. But we all want to be successful in this. It’s how each of us interpret success for ourselves that makes us unique.

  69. K. Z. Snow
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 19:11:08

    Jane said:
    For example, I know that many authors feel the pressure to publish not just one book a year but two books a year. This pressure comes, ostensibly, from readers.

    I don't think that's true. I think the pressure to write two books a year comes from the need to feed families and pay bills.

    Or four or five or six books a year.

    This unfortunate fact can’t be minimized. The romance genre — and let’s not forget how many subgenres it encompasses — is jam-packed with authors. We are legion, and competition for attention is beyond fierce. Those of us who can’t afford saturation promotion have no choice but to keep ourselves on rigorous writing schedules in the hope of achieving some degree of name recognition. People have short memories, and reader notice is, for many of us, what pays or helps pay the bills.

    By the way, Jane, got a “Sugar Daddy Alert” section on DA? ;-)

  70. Gennita Low
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 19:13:35

    Why not just ask people to send you dogfood instead? :)

    My old ladies are kidney dogs, so I have to cook a special diet for them. Send real beef and chicken! And don’t buy them at Walmart till they put Gennita Low’s books back on their shelves, dammit. ;)

  71. MD
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 19:16:58

    I don't know if publishing pressures come from readers so much as the authors themselves. I know some say that even if their book never sells they'd still be writing because they just have to, but really that's just bs. They wouldn't be furiously blogging and putting up websites and Myspace and Facebook pages, and making book trailers if that were the case. They'd get the book published and walk away and enjoy whatever money they got as a wonderful bonus. There would be no “pleeease lobby Walmart to buy my books so I can get published again” posts.

    Authors want to write the next big bestseller and go from food stamps to tennis camps a la JK Rowling. The pressure comes from wanting to see their name on the NYT list, and once they write a moderately well accepted book, there's more internal pressure to write another book to keep those fans and get a few more. They want to put out multiple books each year so they can remain relevant within their genre. There are so many publishers putting out hundreds of books each week that it's difficult to get noticed in the crowd. Unless the book is just amazing, which most aren't, it's hard to remember a mediocre author who writes one story a year or so.

    I’ve been writing since I was a teenager and I didn’t sell anything until I was 41. I wanted to sell something, but even through the years when I didn’t, writing was fun and fulfilling. I had moments of frustration with the many, many rejection letters, but I couldn’t quit writing. Characters and their stories kept coming to mind. Since I’m always writing in my head, it seemed useful to keep putting it on the page, too.

    Even if I could, I wouldn’t want to be a Rowling or Meyer. I think I could ignore the weight of expectations. It takes me 1-2 years to finish a story and I’m not going to go any faster than that, no matter what anyone else wants. But the suffocating attention and loss of privacy is horrific, the worst part of bestsellerdom. I would be entirely happy with modest success. I don’t feel internal pressure to top my last book. I don’t really promote my stuff, I’m not on sites like facebook, I don’t have a webpage, and I barely blog. I got published (two books, so far), donated the money I made, and walked away to go think up more stories to write.
    I think I fail in all aspects of your theory.:D

  72. K. Z. Snow
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 19:21:41

    Er…not sure what being able to make a website has to do with writing. Plenty of writers make do with WordPress blogs or ye olde Geocities.

    Absolutely true . . . but time and time and time again, I’ve seen authors “bashed” for not having chichi, professional websites. It seems we in the Western world are slaves to appearances.

    Then I look at Ginn Hale’s humble site . . . and realize I’d sure as shit rather read her output than that of some flashy but far less talented writer!

  73. Ann Somerville
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 19:28:48

    I've seen authors “bashed” for not having chichi, professional websites. It seems we in the Western world are slaves to appearances.

    Having a neat (not flashy) website is just the same as a shop having a tidy, attractive storefront. If your site looks like someone threw up in HTML all over it, your visitors might expect your writing is similarly chaotic (and in my experience, truly lousy websites almost always go with truly lousy writing, just as truly lousy publisher sites are the mark of a business with a less than professional attitude.)

    But hey, thanks for assuming flashy site means less talented writer. No bashing implied in that statement at all, right?

  74. Ann Somerville’s Journal : Reader expectations and what affects the writing process
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 19:31:39

    […] Jane of Dear Author on not letting reader demands about writing get in your way […]

  75. theo
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 19:44:37

    We interrupt this program…

    Genitta, I did email WalMart. However, I’m one small fish in a BIG pond. Just know there are those of us trying. :)

    Back to the discussion now ;)

  76. B
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 19:53:51

    George R.R. Martin has, I know, gotten some very rude comments from readers about the delay in his Ice & Fire series.

    Now hold up a second here. Look, I don’t agree with rude, nasty comments from readers. However, readers do have a legitimate complaint with Martin.

    If you’re a fantasy reader then chances are good that you’ve gotten swallowed by one if not more of the Neverending Series that are a (unfathomably incurable) boil on the face of high fantasy. Like a number of other series, Martin’s Ice and Fire books were supposed to be a trilogy originally…and those people who got pulled in when they were led to believe they’d get three books are now waiting, waiting, waiting for a series that is constantly stretching out its size. And pushing back its publication dates.

    I know very well from first hand experience how long it can take to write a complete book in this particular part of the genre. Fair enough, it takes time. I’ve waited long than four years for books before. But it’s the dragging it out thing that is really the straw here. With it taking so long for each book to be written and with the series getting ever longer, people are wondering if they’re going to get to read the conclusion before they (or the author) kick the bucket.

    I don’t think getting to know the conclusion of a storyline before you’re old and gray (assuming you weren’t pretty close to it when the story began) is an unfair expectation.

  77. Emmy
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 20:11:07

    Think of my four very hungry pomeranians.

    Ok, now I have this image in my head of four starving, salivating dogs sizing you and each other up to see who’s going to be eaten first. *gigglesnorts*

    I think I fail in all aspects of your theory.
    Author fail, lol. No, really…the problem with generalizations is that they only apply to a sector in general, not all people as a whole.

  78. Morpho Ophelia
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 20:11:22

    When I was working full time as a writer, I made a point never to read reviews until way after the fact. One of my editors attempted to snail mail me a good review from Publisher’s Weekly, hoping I would pay attention. I didn’t open it for months. Why? Because I was already working on two other projects.

    (Plenty of authors do not read reviews unless they can use them for promo. Some do not read any ONLINE REVIEWS.)

    As an author, I do my best, and that’s all I can do.

    Most authors feel this way. They do the best job they can, with the time and resources they have been given for their projects. I also believe, as Lynn C wrote above, writers have to write the book they want to read. They must believe this. Writing is extremely hard work. And we writers DO have other lives, ailing parents, children, grandchildren, bills, illnesses, business pressures, and all the other mundane issues of daily life.

    Some of us are more engaged internally than others. That’s personality.

    I often come to this site, just to look at the relationship between author and reader. I haven’t decided how I feel about all this, and there are lots of other authors who feel the same way I do. Lots and lots.

    You wrote:

    I know that this is self serving but my belief is that the romance community has been ill served in the past by not encouraging critical analysis of the genre.

    I feel that you need to be more specific. How so? Exactly what do you define as critical analysis? And who is qualified to do that? Any reader?

    I know that you are sincere, and you want constructive engagement with a community of readers, bloggers, authors, but sometimes, in THE comments, your message gets lost. If the topic gets lost or taken over, it’s a problem, even if you don’t want to admit it. It’s your site, your dream, your goals, your work. And only you can take control of that problem and find a solution that works. Otherwise, you get a lot of hits for noise and all your critical analysis and good intentions are shouted out.

    Most of the regular DA people aren’t going to agree with me. But that’s a small crowd compared to real life.

    I’m not bothered by disagreement. I don’t have a career on the line. So I can speak openly.

    You wrote:

    “I don't understand why more authors don't speak out against plagiarism”

    No author supports plagiarism, but most authors hate to see a career or life destroyed by the weight of public opinion, or comments from readers/authors who sound a bit gleeful.

    We all suffer under the weight of expectations at one time or another. But we are human first, and our job description is always last. In the end, everything is personal.

  79. MoJo
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 20:12:11

    That is when I wish, selfishly, that these authors had conformed to the pressures exerted by readers/publishers to write what sells.

    See, this is when the “taint” of self-publishing makes me a little upset. You get a few writers whom people like but maybe not enough people and are pushed off the face of fiction by their publisher because of “low” sales.

    Why do they stay off the face of fiction? There ARE alternatives. If you already have a little bit of a fan base, you go out on your own, and you have TIME and FREEDOM to build your following as you like. Voila! No shelf life, less pressure (uh, except reader ones, who would rather wait than never have anything from you again), no sales to beg for, no more writing to spec. THAT is when you can truly write from your heart.

    (But if UGU [you, general you] do this, a bit of advice: Hire an editor and a copyeditor and possibly a graphic designer; don’t try to do that on your own. And treat it like a business, even if it’s only one book.)

    You may never be able to buy your rights back (I confess I don’t know how that works), but if you do… You’ll never have ONLY that 90-day window of marketing opportunity again.

    There are drawbacks to doing this (not the least of which is the “taint”), but from where I sit and look at the numbers (the ones I can find, at least, including the advances, the royalties, the way you’re paid, the marketing budget you might or might not get, and the tax implications [are you really an independent contractor? really?]), I see no advantage to the crap shoot that is the current business model of traditional publishing–especially if you’re a mid-lister who got dropped mid-series.

  80. Throwmearope
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 20:29:15

    As a reader, I feel like the greedy child who begs, “Tell me a story!”

    I am irritated that one of my favorite writers stopped writing just because he’s 82 years old. I’m irked that LaVyrle Spencer retired. (How dare she? Just ’cause I intend to retire some day doesn’t mean. . Oh, never mind.)

    Elizabeth Lowell is taking a year off–and she only writes a book a year, what’s up with that.

    Christine Feehan slowed down from 4 books a year to just three. What was she thinking?

    Linda Howard used to do two books a year, but so far I can only find one book this year. The nerve.

    About the only author who writes quickly and well enough to satisfy me is LaNora. Shiloh Walker writes well and comes close to writing fast enough. And I have her backlist still to glom on. I’ve pretty much fried LaNora’s. JAK (bless her) still does pretty much a contemp, an historical and a futuristic every year. Gotta love the over achievers.

    Should any of these authors give a flying frit what I think? Absolutely not. I am just a fan, they should be able to ignore my grumbling and just do what they do best, which is write.

  81. Julia Sullivan
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 20:29:27

    Re: Annie Proulx:

    Anion wrote: Somebody in that situation had an entitlement mentality, but it sure as hell wasn't the poor readers (whose reaction I never saw anywhere, actually; I never saw a single person claiming they'd sent her a story and were offended by her response). It was the miserable snob of an author, and the article/interview was about how incredibly offended she was that anyone would think she'd care how much her work touched them.

    You saw different stuff than I did, then. What I saw was people on various fandom boards complaining about what a bitch Proulx was, and how their fanfic was so much better than her story, blah, blah, blah.

    Never underestimate the entitlement of people who are active in fandom communities. Yes, if someone genuinely sent Proulx a fanfic as a testament to how much they loved her story, I admire that sentiment if not necessarily the form in which it was expressed.

    However, suggesting that Proulx is a “snob” for not enjoying the experience of reading other people’s takes on the characters she created strikes me as odd in the extreme. What I heard Proulx reacting to was the impression she got from the stuff she received that the writers thought that their version of the story was better than Proulx’s.

    When I buy a Donna Karan skirt, I often hem it up or change the buttons or something because I like it better that way. I don’t send it to Karan with a note saying “This is how you should have done it,” though.

  82. Anion
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 20:32:56

    There are drawbacks to doing this (not the least of which is the “taint”), but from where I sit and look at the numbers (the ones I can find, at least, including the advances, the royalties, the way you're paid, the marketing budget you might or might not get, and the tax implications [are you really an independent contractor? really?]), I see no advantage to the crap shoot that is the current business model of traditional publishing-especially if you're a mid-lister who got dropped mid-series.

    Surely you’re joking? You see no advantage to getting paid for your books as opposed to paying for them? To earning money from writing rather than losing it? You do know the average self-published novel sells about 150 copies, right? And has no distribution in stores?

    Mi midlister who got dropped from their midlist series earned a midlist advance; let’s lowball it and say three books, 5k per book. Let’s say the last book gets dropped.

    Dropped midlister has still made 10k. Dropped midlister still had books in stores. Even if dropped midlister’s books sold only a dozen copies each–practically impossible for a major-house novel–dropped midlister still has 10k. Let’s take taxes out of that; we’ll assume dropped midlister has no other deductions to offset the earnings and has not incorporated, and take 40% of that for taxes. (And yes, I really am an independent contractor; what’s wrong about that?)

    If dropped midlister had published those books him/herself, even through a free self-publisher like Lulu, without hiring an editor or cover artist or any of that, dropped midlister–assuming those same dozen copies per novel (a pretty realistic figure for Lulu, frankly)–would have made about $5.00.

    Where I sit, $6,000.00 is much better than $5.00. Perhaps I’m missing something?

    And for all the talk about ruined careers, dropped midlister can always write a new book, take a new pen name, and become a Debut Author again. The game ain’t over till it’s over.

    Unless you have thousands and thousands of dollars to sink into promotion, self-publishing does not make sense for fiction unless you’re aiming at a small, specific market. Sure, you could very possibly write Mormon fiction and do well with it, but you still have all the business headaches and all the risk.

    For non-fiction self-publishing can sometimes work, again with small specialized markets or a big enough platform.

    I’m sorry, but I frankly don’t see any possible way what you’ve said can be true. Not at all. Not one bit.

  83. K. Z. Snow
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 20:36:36

    But hey, thanks for assuming flashy site means less talented writer. No bashing implied in that statement at all, right?

    Uh . . . say what? I made no assumption, just voiced a druther. I’d rather read a marvelous book, regardless of the author’s online presence, than be wowed by the website of a mediocre writer. But, yeah, neat is good. (Do I get points for that admission?)

    truly lousy websites almost always go with truly lousy writing

    Or, just maybe, truly lousy tech skills compounded by poverty.

    (?????)

    I’m leaving now so my mind can asplode in peace.

  84. Anion
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 20:44:53

    However, suggesting that Proulx is a “snob” for not enjoying the experience of reading other people's takes on the characters she created strikes me as odd in the extreme. What I heard Proulx reacting to was the impression she got from the stuff she received that the writers thought that their version of the story was better than Proulx's.

    I didn’t suggest she was a snob for not enjoying the fanfic. I suggested she was a snob for saying things like “These people seem to think my story is an open range to explore their own fantasies”, as if that’s not exactly what stories are. Or for calling the people who sent her those stories idiots and closet homphobes (along with implying they were all sexist and thought they could do better because she’s just a woman, which is an outrageous assumption to make).

    You saw a lot of offended fans, sure. After she made her statements, which were rude in the extreme. Since all good fanficcers know not to send fanfic to the author, my assumption is that most of the people who sent her stories were not fanficcers, had no idea what they were doing was called fanfiction, and were trying to please her. Were some of them arrogant? Sure, probably some of them were. But given that the examples she used in the interview were people writing things like “I’m not gay, but this really touched me,”…that doesn’t sound arrogant to me.

    Whatever impression she got, the fact remains, nobody forced her to read the stuff, and if she didn’t want to get it she could have said that politely. When you are a writer or an actor or a painter or whatever, your work is going to elicit an emotional reaction in people. You have a choice whether you want to be polite about it or call them all names.

    In other words, it’s not the sentiment of not wanting to receive fanfic that’s the problem, it’s the rude and condescending way she put it, that was snobbish and offensive.

    Frankly, you’re the first author I’ve heard of who didn’t find her comments distasteful at best. You’re certainly entitled to your opinion, but it’s by no means the only correct one for an author to have, or the opinion of the majority.

  85. Dotty
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 20:49:12

    I am more likely to look at an author in a positive or negative light by how they respond on sites like DA rather than going to their web pages. Its sort of like a readers digest condensed version of authors attitudes and ideas. It would take forever for me to go through all the web sites that represent the authors that comment here.
    We couldn’t even get through one topic without an author popping their head up and saying something perhaps not in her own best interest to be saying publicly.
    Readers are customers, you get good (majority) and bad (fortunately in the minority), I, as a reader, feel rewarded when an author I like to read, seems to be a really nice person when she/he comments here and if your new to me, I will follow up and see what you have to offer, and if you tell a good story I’ll wait for it, it’s not like there is a shortage of TBR
    Perhaps it is a little off subject, but its important to me that my money is going to a writer that I can respect, just as much as its important to me that the toys I buy my grandson come from an ethical company. Just a nice, funny or thoughtful comment here and there tells me much more than a fancy web site or a blog. I’m in Australia so I’m not likely to meet you so that’s what I go by, but if an author presents her/him self badly I’ll not send one cent their way. I have left jobs where the ethics of a company left something to be desired so I’m not going to have different beliefs with my purchases.

  86. Ann Somerville
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 20:52:28

    truly lousy tech skills compounded by poverty.

    Usually truly lousy tech skills compounded by a complete and utter lack of knowing when to stop, or what looks remotely neat. You can be poor and neat, or poor and crazy, and fair correlation or not, poor and crazy seems to go with crappy writing. I honestly don’t know why.

    Being poor is no excuse for a crappy website when WordPress is completely free, and so are most of the templates. You don’t even need to pay for hosting. If you’re marketing through the internet – i.e., you know enough to know a website is good – but don’t know enough to find out the good free alternatives, and don’t know how to google to even ask…then you’re too tech challenged to have a website and you’d better off without one. Seriously.

    Oh – and in my experience, mediocre writers rarely have ‘wow’ websites unless someone makes it for them. Can happen, but usually mediocre is as mediocre does. Again, I don’t know why – it just is.

  87. SonomaLass
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 20:56:19

    @B: Obviously you and I disagree on the issue of what an author “owes” her or his readers.

    Like a number of other series, Martin's Ice and Fire books were supposed to be a trilogy originally…and those people who got pulled in when they were led to believe they'd get three books are now waiting, waiting, waiting for a series that is constantly stretching out its size. And pushing back its publication dates.

    I, for one, was THRILLED that the ideas and characters and plots in George Martin’s head didn’t have to be confined to three books. However long this series is, when it ends I will be saying, “Oh, I wish there was more!” Does it take him a long time to write them? Hell yeah. Does he work hard at doing so? No doubt. Should he settle for less than his best work, work that satisfies his standards, in order to meet some sense of reader entitlement? I don’t think so; obviously, neither does he, nor do a lot of other authors. My personal opinion is that he’s entitled to that stand, and anyone who doesn’t agree doesn’t have to read his books.

    As for an author not finishing a series? It happens, and not only to authors writing Neverending Sagas. George could be cranking out a book a year and still get hit by a bus and not finish a series. About the only way to make sure that you never have to face that disappointment (which would, I think, be an even bigger disappointment to George!) is to wait until a series is complete before beginning it.

    If you don’t like waiting so long between books, or having a series longer than the almighty trilogy, the answer is easy. Don’t buy ‘em. I would suggest that if you like a particular author’s work so much that you can’t keep from buying it, that should tell you something.

  88. MoJo
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 21:04:39

    You see no advantage to getting paid for your books as opposed to paying for them? To earning money from writing rather than losing it?

    If you’re a midlister and you get dropped, who’s paying you to put out another book?

    If your titles go out of print in a year, what royalties are you getting?

    And has no distribution in stores?

    If you have to beg your fans to go to WalMart and ask them to restock your books so your series doesn’t get discontinued, what’s the difference?

    You do know the average self-published novel sells about 150 copies, right?

    Which is more than you sell if you got dropped by your publisher never to be seen or heard from again.

    Midlister who got dropped from their midlist series earned a midlist advance; let's lowball it and say three books, 5k per book. Let's say the last book gets dropped.

    Dropped midlister has still made 10k. D

    Paid in installments over the course of how many years? And what do you get deducted from that advance? Reserve against returns? Artwork fees? (I know I’ve read that one.) That 10k isn’t 10k when it comes down to the final accounting, even before the IRS gets involved.

    And when you break down that 10k, is that a yearly income or a two-year income or a three-year income?

    Dropped midlister still had books in stores.

    For how long before they’re stripped and returned? Not even remaindered.

    (And yes, I really am an independent contractor; what's wrong about that?)

    Absolutely nothing. From everything I’ve read, you get withholding taxes taken out of your advance and royalty checks. If what I have read is wrong, then good, great! If it isn’t, then, no, you aren’t truly an independent contractor. You’re a statutory employee.

    Sure, you could very possibly write Mormon fiction and do well with it, but you still have all the business headaches and all the risk.

    And all the freedom that goes with it. I’ll admit to being a bit of a business geek. When I get tired of creating I go crunch numbers and vice versa.

    If dropped midlister had published those books him/herself

    I didn’t say if they had published them themselves. I said if they published the followups (the ones that got dropped before they could complete them) themselves.

    I'm sorry, but I frankly don't see any possible way what you've said can be true. Not at all. Not one bit.

    I’m a little fuzzy on how Ellora’s Cave started. Was that a self-publishing effort or a start-a-publishing-company-to-publish-my-own-stuff effort?

    All I’m saying is that there is an alternative and I think it’s worth talking about since it’s obvious the publishing times they are a-changin’. You may not like what that means (financial risk), but it is an alternative and that’s the only point I’m trying to make.

  89. Ann Somerville
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 21:06:49

    We couldn't even get through one topic without an author popping their head up and saying something perhaps not in her own best interest to be saying publicly.

    And we couldn’t get through one topic without a reader playing online policemen (complete with covert threat).

    If you want to talk to authors, how about not acting as if you’re the only one allowed to express an opinion? We have feelings and brains too, you know. You should maybe read Robin’s article here:

    http://accessromance.com/gab/2008/10/27/great-expectations/

  90. Dotty
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 21:32:17

    Perhaps Ann you misunderstood, my comment was in reference to Jamacias statement which Jane promptly answered.
    Unfortunately I am not an author and therefor perhaps not the best at expressing myself, I thought I was saying how nice it was to read authors nice thoughtful and sometimes funny comments. Yes I do make ethical choices as to where I spend my money, I will not buy a book by an author who is a plagiarist for example.
    Actually, I don’t think I do want to talk to authors, maybe my language skills are not sufficient.

  91. B
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 21:32:39

    I, for one, was THRILLED that the ideas and characters and plots in George Martin's head didn't have to be confined to three books. However long this series is, when it ends I will be saying, “Oh, I wish there was more!” Does it take him a long time to write them? Hell yeah. Does he work hard at doing so? No doubt. Should he settle for less than his best work, work that satisfies his standards, in order to meet some sense of reader entitlement? I don't think so; obviously, neither does he, nor do a lot of other authors. My personal opinion is that he's entitled to that stand, and anyone who doesn't agree doesn't have to read his books.

    And I, as both reader and writer, believe firmly in the importance of knowing when to end. Of knowing how to make a coherent plot that goes somewhere rather than dithering about endlessly.

    Is it entitlement when an employer pays you to do a job and expects it to be done on time? No. And while I most certainly don’t disagree that writers are human, that writing is a process that tends to be different for every writer and writers don’t function like machines, the fact of the matter is that it’s a career. It’s a job. Which means it still comes with some responsibilities.

    Does Martin work hard? I don’t know, you tell me. Apparently by his own admission, he’s up in the middle of the night gaming.

    I began reading Martin’s work as part of an effort to know my genre better, actually. This was back when the series was still supposed to be 6 books (up from 4, down from the 7 I understand he’s claiming now). But in general I’m the sort of reader who doesn’t get involved with this kind of series. I like an ending. No matter how much I love something, I know I’m going to get tired of the same characters and an unended plot after only several years, never mind the 10, 15 or more some fantasy series go on for.

  92. Ann Somerville
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 22:01:34

    Perhaps Ann you misunderstood, my comment was in reference to Jamacias statement which Jane promptly answered.

    Thought it was. My point is it’s very easy for readers to use the ‘god you’re awful, I won’t buy *your* books again’ stick in any discussion which gets a little heated, without thinking – or caring – just how that appears to the author. It’s off topic for this post, though it’s been raised recently, but readers do seem to think they have an entitlement to use their consumer power not to improve just the product they buy (which is partly what Jane is talking about) but the producer themselves. Frankly, readers and authors would have a happier relationship if readers didn’t wave the big stick around, and if discussions about what they do or do not like about an author’s opinion or expression, could be carried on without threats. Authors don’t need another set of parents, and as grownups, we don’t need manner monitors either. Some readers seem to think we’re idiot savantes – that the intelligence and thought that goes into our writing is a fluke, and the rest of the time, we have to be herded like cattle into the ‘right’ way of doing things (even writing.)

    Unfortunately, some readers and bloggers revel in their power, and think authors have to suck it up no matter how bitchy a reader is towards them. Maybe so, or maybe no, but it doesn’t make any discussion easier or more civil, and doesn’t make the process of publishing any more enticing. As I’ve posted in my blog this morning, it’s a dynamic which is fast driving me away from publishing altogether. When I spend more time talking to readers about what opinions I express than what stories I tell, there’s something seriously screwy, and it’s not fun.

  93. Robin/Janet
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 22:08:57

    No author supports plagiarism, but most authors hate to see a career or life destroyed by the weight of public opinion, or comments from readers/authors who sound a bit gleeful.

    Or they simply haven’t been plagiarized. As a professional and academic writer myself, I will probably never understand this argument. Perhaps it’s part of the ‘mob mentality’ you suggest in your comment, a feeling that you don’t want to be associated with what you see as an out of control mob. I also don’t really get that argument, but I can see that if you’re not participating in a discussion you’ll probably have a different sense of its elements and participants and may not want to sort through the details.

    Still, though, how many authors have you seen “destroyed by the weight of public opinion,” vis a vis accusations of plagiarism (accurate or not)? And why is it so impossible to offer a reasonable objection to plagiarism and an affirmative assertion of why it’s so destructive to a writing community. Then there’s the victim — how must it feel to have your peers basically turn their heads as if the neighborhood dog has merely pooped on your front lawn?

    I have a friend who was plagiarized in the academic realm, and it cost her more than $20,000 to straighten it out. In the meantime, someone else was able to profit from her hard work, she had to put significant resources, time, effort, and upset into trying to gain justice, and even after all that the work can never be fully redeemed because not everyone will know the truth. It honestly just baffles me why writers of any type wouldn’t want a strong community ethic around intellectual honesty.

  94. Mrs Giggles
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 23:27:08

    Er…not sure what being able to make a website has to do with writing. Plenty of writers make do with WordPress blogs or ye olde Geocities.

    My point, which I admit wasn’t clear previously, is that you, Ann, know how to build an audience for your website of stories. You know where to locate your audience. Also, you write MM, which is a genre that is currently tailor-made to Netizens because it resides neatly beside the active slash and fanfiction scene online.

    Some, many, authors want to make writing their career. I can understand. What is better than to have a job that you truly love doing? Unfortunately, making enough money to the point that you can retire the day job is not as easy as “writing the book of your heart” as it seems to be in TV shows and movies. There are pressures from readers and publishers to give them what they want so that the authors can remain published.

    As for self-publishing, well, taint or no taint, being a self-published author means that the author is also the marketing department of her own books. Unlike the author is loaded and can publicize herself to the fullest like, say, Jeremy Robinson, I would personally hesitate to recommend that route to anyone who intends to make a living out of writing.

  95. Evangeline
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 23:33:23

    Anion…regarding self-publishing, I point thou to Zoe Winters. After you read her well-informed, reasoned blog, you’ll emerge with a new appreciation for starting your own press, whether you agree with the method or not. After all, Hogarth Press was a little “vanity” publishing outfit where the Woolf’s printed books they and the Bloomsbury Circle felt important to them.

  96. Ann Somerville
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 23:43:12

    you, Ann, know how to build an audience for your website of stories

    Something which I can’t claim any uniqueness for. But say I was a pro author (with no previous free web presence) wanting to GAFIA, and just self-publish for free or low cost/audience. Why couldn’t I, if I still wanted to write and be read, just use my existing audience and methods of promotion. Sure, a lot of people turn their nose up at self-pubbed or free stuff but mostly if the person hasn’t yet proved they can do the pro thing. An author taking the route of posting a notice on their blog saying all future work will be at Lulu or on their site, won’t make big money – but that’s not necessarily the important thing. If all they want is to remain connected with their devoted readers, they’ll find said readers will follow, provided she maintains professional standards.

    The last isn’t as hard as it sounds, either. Just edit, market and promote as if you *were* doing it for a pro publisher. Most of us do that anyway.

  97. SonomaLass
    Oct 29, 2008 @ 00:02:56

    @B

    Does Martin work hard? I don't know, you tell me. Apparently by his own admission, he's up in the middle of the night gaming.

    Oh, so he’s not supposed to have a life? He should be writing 24/7? He watches football, too, and blogs about the current election. *gasp* Yeah, he’s human, and as you say, writing is his job. So he shouldn’t be expected to make it his whole life.

    knowing how to make a coherent plot that goes somewhere rather than dithering about endlessly.

    If you think Martin dithers and goes nowhere (hmm, are you sure you don’t have him confused with Robert Jordan, may he rest in peace?), then just quit. Stop. Cold turkey. Then you won’t have to feel that he owes you anything. And I really don’t mean this just about GRRM; some people don’t like series, and so shouldn’t read them. But I can understand how an author would start out with an idea that he or she thinks is a trilogy, only to have it grow and change — and if the publisher is willing to go for a bigger contract, there’s probably no downside. Except for the people who don’t want to read it anymore, and all they have to do is quit buying the books. I just don’t see how anyone other than the author is qualified to make the call of what “should be” with their own creation.

    @Robin: I’m with you on plagiarism. Maybe it’s the academic in me, too, but I don’t understand anything but the strongest reaction to intellectual dishonesty. Not that I advocate kicking someone who’s down, if that’s what “mob mentality” refers to, but there is something to be said for creating an atmosphere, a community, in which such things are condemned in the strongest terms. I know among my students, peer attitude is extremely important — where there’s an expectation of academic honesty, plagiarism is less likely.

  98. Robin/Janet
    Oct 29, 2008 @ 00:30:10

    I know among my students, peer attitude is extremely important -‘ where there's an expectation of academic honesty, plagiarism is less likely.

    Exactly. That readers often discover these things is indicative IMO, of a problem, an imbalance in the community around who should bear the burden of advocacy on issues of intellectual honesty. When the Edwards situation turned into an author v. reader issue I was dumbfounded, frankly. When some authors indicated that they were afraid of having readers looking over their shoulder in the aftermath of the Edwards situation, IMO it was Edwards that put the cast of suspicion on other authors, NOT the readers who discovered the copying. And yet it’s readers who got the backlash. Frankly, I think the desire to self-protect reflected in shying away from speaking out more strongly about the importance of intellectual honesty is mistaken and misplaced — that staying silent is against authors’ self-interest and self-protection, even if it seems the opposite.

  99. Anion
    Oct 29, 2008 @ 02:41:19

    If you have to beg your fans to go to WalMart and ask them to restock your books so your series doesn't get discontinued, what's the difference?

    Um…you still have books in bookstores, which is more than you can say for a self-published author.

    Paid in installments over the course of how many years? And what do you get deducted from that advance? Reserve against returns? Artwork fees? (I know I've read that one.)

    Whereveer you read it, it does not relate to publishing with major NY houses. Reserves are deducted from royalties, not advances. Art is the responsibility of the publisher, not the author (I assume you’re talking about cover art here, as there is no reason I can think of to use other art in fiction.) And advances aren’t paid over the course of many years, they’re paid in set installments and set times. It’s possibly for those to stretch longer than a year, but you make it sound as though it’s over a decade or something which is simply not the case.

    I don’t know of anything, ever, deducted from advances.

    And I’m sorry, but no. You’re assuming that dropped midlister has a big enough audience to carry into self-publishing with her.

    Look, you and Evangeline can both point out examples of people I’ve never heard of who you claim made huge successes in self-publishing. And I’m not denying it can be done. Paolini’s parents owned a very small publisher, and they published Eragon, and look at its success.

    Of course, no one tells you how Paolini’s parents spent over 30k publicizing it, and about the grueling book-tour schedule they set up for themselves, and about how his parents–like I said, owners of a small press–already knew about wholesalers and distributers and how to get books in stores and how to schedule tours and all that, which is something your average person doesn’t know.

    And again, I’m still not clear on how having 6k in the bank does not beat self-publishing and having to do all the work yourself, and being out of pocket for editing, cover art, ISBNs, promotion, publicity, the books themselves, etc., and having to convince each bookstore manager personally to carry your book, and the excellent chance the book won’t sell because no one will know about it. Nothing will convince me it’s better to do all that work yourself, sorry. Pointing out isolated cases like Eragon or Ellora’s Cave only points out how incredibly rare such success is (and remember, when EC started, what they were doing was brand new. It’s not anymore.)

  100. jewell
    Oct 29, 2008 @ 03:06:34

    Wanted to chime in that GRRM is allowed a life. :) Saying he spends too much time gaming is absolutely outrageous! – how do you know that isn’t part of relaxing so that he can write?

    I want that next book. Really want it. I also want it to be good. GRRM wants it to be good. I’m happy to wait.

  101. Anion
    Oct 29, 2008 @ 03:41:59

    BTW, Evangeline, I feel the need to clarify something. Nowhere in my comments have I said self-publishing is a bad idea for everyone, or that people only self-publish if they aren’t any good, or anything of that nature. What I did say is that’s it’s extremely difficult to be a success at and that there’s a LOT more to it than simply writing a book and collecting checks, and that it’s generally more profitable for authors to go with major houses.

    (And as far as Hogarth Press… First, you can’t compare the publishing climate in 1917 to the climate today. Second, the Woolfs were already figures in the publishing world; two experienced people starting their own small press is far different from your average Joe writing a book and putting it out through iUniverse or Lulu or whomever. Third, they eventually merged with a “regular” publishing house. You’ll find, I believe, that the vast majority of self-publishing successes end up signing with major houses. There’s a reason for that.)

    I apologize for the hijack(s), Jane. I was bored and chatty; I didn’t mean to take over the comments thread with so many tangents.

  102. Anita C.
    Oct 29, 2008 @ 04:45:13

    Anita from Seattle again. I’ve been reading this entire thread with a horrid facinaction. I’m a reader, and if I am fortunate enough to find myself in the actual presience of a favorite, and the time ie apppropriate, I may say (in a babbling, unrehearsed way) “I love your books so much; I just wish they’d come out more often.” To which they usually smile and say nothing.

    HOWEVER I will NEVER forget Diana Gabldon’s comment at Seattle’s University Book Store about 10 years ago. She was a bit late and was surprised and clearly gratified by the huge crowd and was visibly nervous (I stood directly in front of her, so I could tell), but when a young girl shouted out from the crowd, “O When is DRUMS OF AUTHUM” coming out? I check with the bookstore every week. It seems so long since the last book. Can’t you tell us what’s in it……..etc., etc.” Well, Diana lost her cool. I think her lively proffessorial intellect perhaps hadn’t faced the fact that there were a huge number of her fans who were so intellectually unadvanced (is that the kindest description?) to thom the apppearance of a new book in the series had taken why too much importance. She smiled but said rather sharply that she certainly hoped no one who read her books had lives of such emptiness that the main highlight of such a life was the issue of another Gabaledon book. It’s as though she had never before considered the slavish, fanantical feelings her series had unleased, or if she did realize it, she wanted to nip it right there, and as she further commented, looking directly at the girl, “get a life.”

    As for your other issue, it’s a great sadness to me that so many of the romance writers of today who were chosen by publishes as worth to move in the rafefied work of hard cover, and then were taken over by “hard cover disease.” Patricia Gafney, Nora Roberts, Jennifer Crusie are a few who’eve excaped this dread and unfortunately chronic disease. And although I’m not in the publisher’s business, I presume we can lay this loss of good romantic literature at their door. Which one of you said it was about money. Of course, and once the publishers invest in making Tami Hoag and Iris Johansen, and, yes, even Balogh, hot HB best sellers, I can only imagine they were put on a leash of some kind – limited in turnaround time; generalize the sex so it won’t bored any mail readers, insert lots more sex and dialogue. It’s especially painful for me when I read Balogh who used to spend time setting up exquisitely beatufuil emotional situation and then take the time to all her acters to work throgh them. Johansen is disgrace. Her oldtime historicals (like the winddancer triology) were beautiful. I hope to go Kinsale, Ivory and Chase NEVER get a hardback contact.

  103. Christine Merrill
    Oct 29, 2008 @ 07:39:00

    You do know the average self-published novel sells about 150 copies, right?

    Which is more than you sell if you got dropped by your publisher never to be seen or heard from again.

    Midlister who got dropped from their midlist series earned a midlist advance; let's lowball it and say three books, 5k per book. Let's say the last book gets dropped.

    Dropped midlister has still made 10k. D

    Paid in installments over the course of how many years? And what do you get deducted from that advance? Reserve against returns? Artwork fees? (I know I've read that one.) That 10k isn't 10k when it comes down to the final accounting, even before the IRS gets involved.

    And when you break down that 10k, is that a yearly income or a two-year income or a three-year income?

    Sorry to Highjack this thread. But flag on the play!

    MoJo, sorry, but almost everything in your argument is totally wrong.

    A reliable publisher does not take deductions from your advance. They say $5,000? You get $5,000.

    If the payments are spread out, it would be based on contract signing, completion of manuscript, and publication. Which is not a bad thing, because it means you have to finish the book before they pay you. But the most obvious splits are for million dollar advances. For a couple grand? You write the book, and they release the money.

    If you write a couple of books a year, you get a couple of multi-thousand dollar checks. In a year. With no deductions (unless you have an agent). Because you are an independent contractor.

    And what the hell are art fees? Again, not something midlisters see. If anyone is dealing with publishers who are taking cuts of the advance? It’s not happening for most of us, so you might want to look for another publisher.

    Because you don’t have to pay any fees to the publisher to sell a book.

    And as far as how many copies a mid-lister sells if their publisher drops them? Thousands. They are probably being dropped for not selling tens of thousands.

    So. More than 150. Many, many, many more.

    Like Anion says, this is not about self-pub being a bad option for some projects. And it’s not about quality of writing. And it doesn’t always have to be about the money. You can encourage and defend self-publishing for other reasons involving editorial freedom and retention of rights.

    But do not think for a minute that self publishing is equal in sales numbers or paycheck to signing with a traditional publishing house. That simply is not true.

    ahem. Back to the topic at hand.

  104. Lynne Connolly
    Oct 29, 2008 @ 08:00:03

    Still, though, how many authors have you seen “destroyed by the weight of public opinion,” vis a vis accusations of plagiarism (accurate or not)?

    I know of one. And that one makes me deeply ashamed that I took part in the hounding. I’m not intruding on her privacy now by naming her, but if you think back, you might be able to guess. She did plagiarise, but she took the brunt of the blame, whereas I think her publishers should take some of the blame, too, for not asking and not noticing and not putting her right. She should have been called on the plagiarism, but not hounded as she was and derided.
    And yes, she was completely destroyed.

    Anion…regarding self-publishing, I point thou to Zoe Winters. After you read her well-informed, reasoned blog, you'll emerge with a new appreciation for starting your own press, whether you agree with the method or not. After all, Hogarth Press was a little “vanity” publishing outfit where the Woolf's printed books they and the Bloomsbury Circle felt important to them.

    Well the Woolfs had one requirement of a self-publisher – they were independantly wealthy and had influential friends and relatives they could call on. Also, they did it as a statement of artistic intent, not to publish books they couldn’t get published anywhere else.

    Self publishing – emphatically not for me. There are certain market forces you can’t circumvent, and I have neither the money or the time to try to get past them. You need both, and in most cases it will be more than you actually have. If I were married to Rupert Murdoch (God forbid!) I could turn round and say “Listen, dear, I want to self-publish my romance” and whatever that book contained, I’d know I’d sell a billion. But if I wrote the next “Bleak House,” and self published it, it would have less than a 5% chance of making it big. But if you have the backing, the contacts, the money and the product, go for it.

  105. Susanna Kearsley
    Oct 29, 2008 @ 08:32:55

    Actually, I don't think I do want to talk to authors, maybe my language skills are not sufficient.

    Dotty, I thought you expressed yourself just fine. I had absolutely no trouble following what you had to say – you were rational, kind, and succinct, so please carry on putting your oar in whenever you want to.

    It's as though she had never before considered the slavish, fanantical feelings her series had unleased, or if she did realize it, she wanted to nip it right there, and as she further commented, looking directly at the girl, “get a life.”

    Anita, this story left me frankly feeling sad. I’ve never met Diana Gabaldon but we share mutual friends in the business and I’ve only ever heard good things about her, so I’m hoping her comments in Seattle were delivered with a bit more humour than you’ve written here. Because it would sadden me to think that a reader, especially a young reader, would be made to feel “intellectually unadvanced” by any writer.

    We can’t know, as writers, what effect our books will have on readers, or what importance our stories and characters have to their lives. Maybe we’re carrying somebody through a hard time – through a loss, or an illness. Maybe our books are important to them. We should be grateful for that, not disdainful.

    As a writer, I don’t consider myself intellectually superior to anyone. Everyone has something they do well. The fact that I can tell a story is no more remarkable than the fact that a mechanic can listen to an engine and know straight away what’s wrong with it.

    From all I’ve heard of Diana Gabaldon, she doesn’t think her readers are “intellectually unadvanced” either, so I’d like to believe she was either making a joke or simply having a bad day.

  106. Leeann Burke
    Oct 29, 2008 @ 09:07:49

    I agree a reader should be able to express their true feelings about a book they read. However I can see how an author who gets a bad review might be hurt by it. When I post a blog on my website about a book that wasn’t all that great, I think long and hard before posting anything negative aboutit. That doesn’t mean I don’t post it I just think of the right way to say it. This way if the author happens to read it doesn’t take it as a personal attack.

  107. Jeremy Robinson
    Oct 29, 2008 @ 09:24:58

    Hi all,

    I just wanted to point out, since I was mentioned, that being a successful self-publisher does NOT require a lot of money, nor did I have a lot of money when I succeeded as a self-publisher. In fact, the majority of the past 13 years I’ve been close to the poverty line. What it does take is time (a lot of it…so plan on being poor, because you won’t be working full-time) dedication (you can survive on Ramen Noodles and rice for a while) and internet/marketing skills (which can be learned–I had none when I started). Just wanted to put that out there. I don’t want people thinking I only succeeded because I had money to burn. I didn’t. I did all my marketing online for free. It’s all about determination…and a little bit of insanity. :)

    — Jeremy Robinson

  108. Tee
    Oct 29, 2008 @ 09:35:01

    Leeann Burke wrote–
    …I think long and hard before posting anything negative about it. That doesn't mean I don't post it I just think of the right way to say it.

    There are many ways a person can say they didn’t enjoy a particular book without trying to make it personal. But I think the author will take it that way just the same. And I agree with you that it can be said tactfully and not rudely. In any event, that evaluation is just one person’s opinion; the review does not speak for the many others out there who may or may not agree with it. Authors (and others related in this field) have to develop some thick skin if they plan to continue writing and having those books published. Critiquing is part of that job description. It’s a given; it can’t be avoided.

  109. Anion
    Oct 29, 2008 @ 09:36:29

    Wow, Evangeline. Yes, Zoe is certainly well-reasoned, isn’t she?

    You went over there, linked to my comment here, and told her I was “ragging on” “indie publishing”; I, in the course of checking out her blog–as you advised I do–saw it and thought, “Now, that’s not exactly true. I didn’t rag on anything; I didn’t imply people self-publish because they’re untalented or ‘can’t get a real publisher’ or anything of that nature, I just pointed out that it’s very difficult, and also that ‘indie publishing’ and ‘self-publishing’ are different; I’ve been published by small indie presses myself. I’d hate for someone to think I was being nasty about them or calling them names–I certainly don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings–so let me just say, politely, that I in fact support self-publishing but don’t think it’s the best option for fiction writers.”

    Then, your well-reasoned and thoughtful friend Zoe deleted my response and implied strongly that I came over there screaming, ranting and raving about the evils of self-publishing. And asked why I was “bringing the argument to her blog” (and called me “unpublished”, which is rather amusing as that is not at all the case), which surprised the heck out of me because A) I didn’t think we were having an argument, I thought we were having a discussion; and B) I wasn’t the one who brought it to her blog. You did. I was just trying to say I don’t hate self-publishing and I don’t think the people who do self-publish are talentless goons. It seemed reasonable to me, the idea that if someone starts talking about me I’m not wrong in responding; but apparently it is not. (And yes, Zoe has every right to run her blog however she likes, but to imply I’m at fault for responding to your comments about me is a bit much.)

    So thanks for the advice. The thoughtful and reasonable Zoe gave me a wonderfully warm welcome.

  110. Zoe Winters
    Oct 29, 2008 @ 10:05:12

    Nevermind. This isn’t worth it.

  111. Shiloh Walker
    Oct 29, 2008 @ 10:22:51

    Man, the tangents that happen in these discussions…lol.

    Paid in installments over the course of how many years? And what do you get deducted from that advance? Reserve against returns? Artwork fees? (I know I've read that one.) That 10k isn't 10k when it comes down to the final accounting, even before the IRS gets involved.

    And when you break down that 10k, is that a yearly income or a two-year income or a three-year income?

    I’m skimming here, so sorry if somebody already addressed this.

    But advances aren’t paid out over a two/three/X amount of year period, but upon signing the contract, delivery and acceptance of MS, and publication of book. These dates are all based around when deadlines and stuff, but I don’t generally wait more than a couple of months when I sign a contract, turn in a MS, and the split for publication is there pretty much the day the book comes out.

    I’ve never had artwork fees deducted. I’m kind of curious about this…I’ve never heard of it.

    There is a reserve against returns, but that’s a good thing…if half the books get returned, and there is no reserve, then I don’t see money for a good long while. And the reserves are only held for a specific period of time. With the reserves, yes, I don’t as much money right off the bat, but at least I’m getting the money in steady increments instead of getting a big chunk and then maybe never seeing another dime.

    The only thing deducted from my monies from my print publisher is the %15 for my agent. I’m required to pay taxes and I’m ‘self-employed’ so those taxes can be ugly…shudder.

    I get the feeling some people are feeling slighted because of reluctance, or even refusal (definitely refusal in my case) of authors to even consider self-publishing. I’ve done it-once-and it was a waste of time, money, energy and fill in the blank.

    Are there self-pubbed successes? Absolutely. But they have to work every bit as hard at promotion as they do writing, and it’s still a gamble on whether or not they’ll see money from their books. If they aren’t really in it to earn a profit, that’s fine. But those who do turn a profit are busting their tails and probably work five times as hard to push one book. Considering I already work pretty hard just to write it, and I like having a life outside of writing, that’s not a fair-trade of to me.

    I’d rather put that energy into writing another book, and let my publishers do the pushing. Let them worry about the editing. The cover art. Distribution. All of it. That way, I can write.

    Self-publishing can work for some. Most authors probably know that. But it’s a hell of a lot harder, and for me, it’s not an option.

    And here’s my own little tangent….Anion, I’m DYING to know what your pen name is. :) Something I’ve been wondering for MONTHS.

  112. ME
    Oct 29, 2008 @ 11:06:23

    Zoe….so not worth it.

    Dotty…please disregard some of the more, ahem outspoken peeps here. You had a very valid point, and I actually had no trouble understanding your words. It’s the ones that don’t understand that continually shoot themselves in the foot…but I really don’t think they care.

  113. veinglory
    Oct 29, 2008 @ 11:12:40

    I have looked at the figures and see every reason to go with the ‘crap shoot’ of using a publisher. A self-publisher typically sells 50-100 books in 2 years, a small press 500-2000, a commercial press 5,000+ (if you compare like formats royalties rates don’t differ much, so that is an order of magnitude difference). There are exceptions, but that is what they are, exceptions–often reflecting people with unusual abilitie and connections or the just crazy-lucky.

    This statement normally gets me told off for being ingorant, unimaginative and a catamite for ‘the Man’–often by people who buy a good deal fewer self-published books than I do.

  114. MS Jones
    Oct 29, 2008 @ 11:24:18

    Since this thread has sort of gone off track anyway, I will just write tangentally to Stressed, who said:

    I just had a mini breakdown on Sunday under the weight of edits and deadlines and wanting to start something else while still holding down a full-time non-writing job and having two very active kids.

    You have my sympathy. Sometimes when you’re juggling chainsaws one of them comes crashing down on your head. Hang in there. (2 kids + 2 jobs = 4 chainsaws)

  115. Jody W.
    Oct 29, 2008 @ 12:12:36

    Well, according to the latest RWR, self-publishing is preferable to contracting with any publisher that doesn’t pay advances, though I cannot say that I agree with this sentiment.

  116. Robin/Janet
    Oct 29, 2008 @ 12:19:31

    I know of one. And that one makes me deeply ashamed that I took part in the hounding. I'm not intruding on her privacy now by naming her, but if you think back, you might be able to guess. She did plagiarise, but she took the brunt of the blame, whereas I think her publishers should take some of the blame, too, for not asking and not noticing and not putting her right. She should have been called on the plagiarism, but not hounded as she was and derided.

    I don’t know if this is what you’re referring to, but your comment reminded me of the vast differences between the way Kaavya Viswanathan was treated and the way Edwards was. IMO Viswanathan was soundly thrashed with almost no substantial counterpoint (I felt like I was clawing at quicksand trying to argue against the tide of condemnation), whereas Edwards had more than a few staunch defenders, among authors as well as readers. That difference — born in part, perhaps, of the novice v. veteran dynamic — makes me call BS even more decidedly on the ‘we don’t want to see anyone destroyed by the weight of public opinion’ argument.

    HOWEVER I will NEVER forget Diana Gabldon's comment at Seattle's University Book Store about 10 years ago. She was a bit late and was surprised and clearly gratified by the huge crowd and was visibly nervous (I stood directly in front of her, so I could tell), but when a young girl shouted out from the crowd, “O When is DRUMS OF AUTHUM” coming out? I check with the bookstore every week. It seems so long since the last book. Can't you tell us what's in it……..etc., etc.” Well, Diana lost her cool. I think her lively proffessorial intellect perhaps hadn't faced the fact that there were a huge number of her fans who were so intellectually unadvanced (is that the kindest description?) to thom the apppearance of a new book in the series had taken why too much importance. She smiled but said rather sharply that she certainly hoped no one who read her books had lives of such emptiness that the main highlight of such a life was the issue of another Gabaledon book. It's as though she had never before considered the slavish, fanantical feelings her series had unleased, or if she did realize it, she wanted to nip it right there, and as she further commented, looking directly at the girl, “get a life.”

    Had I been present at that reading I would likely have gotten up and left, vowing never to buy a Gabaldon book again. The reader comment, if it played as you describe it, was hardly overzealous considering the context and the purpose of the event. The response, if it played as you describe it, was not merely rude from an author to a reader, but IMO it was disrespectful on a basic human level. Right or wrong, it would have given me the impression that Gabaldon had no respect for her readers, making me wonder why I should have respect for her writing. That is definitely the kind of thing that can breach my relationship with a book, whether or not I would change my mind later as the memory faded.

  117. Jane
    Oct 29, 2008 @ 12:23:30

    @Jody W – I read that article and found myself agreeing with alot of its points. Given what I’ve seen from some epublishers, it seems that you are paying for solely a distribution service and thus you have to wonder if you should use that 60% of royalties into online promotion and advertising.

  118. Stressed
    Oct 29, 2008 @ 12:27:37

    You have my sympathy. Sometimes when you're juggling chainsaws one of them comes crashing down on your head. Hang in there. (2 kids + 2 jobs = 4 chainsaws)

    Thanks MS Jones. I’m trying my best. Its these times I like to paraphrase Shakepeare in Love

    “Don’t worry it will all work out.”
    “How will it?”
    “I don’t know. It’s a mystery.”

  119. veinglory
    Oct 29, 2008 @ 12:55:09

    @ Jane

    However with other epublishers you are paying for their ability to sell about 1000 copies of the book at about 35% royalties, even if you do no promotion whatsoever. If a publisher doesn’t do what a publisher is meant to, I see that as showing they are a rubbish publisher rather than a point in favor of doing it yourself.

    People who can do better on their own do exist, but they are rare–and considerably more productive than I would be even if I mainlined coffee and quit my day job ;)

    p.s. a post on good self-publishing romance writers would be cool. I would nominate LK Campbell.

  120. Evangeline
    Oct 29, 2008 @ 13:10:59

    I’ll concede that this isn’t 1917, and that yes, the Woolf’s were independently wealthy, but there was a chance that for all their connections and wealth (remember…Leonard was Jewish too), they wouldn’t have failed. Particularly since their writings didn’t fit with the current popular fiction (I believe Marie Corelli was a major best-seller into the 1920s). However, the resistance to indie-publishing is astounding, particularly when Tina Engler wasn’t wealthy, and I do believe one could consider Samhain, Loose-ID, and other reputable e-publishers (who have moved to print in the past years) to be indie-publishers. Why do they get a pass, and Jane Author over there not get one?

    How can one be of the opinion that starting one’s own press will end in failure and no distribution when e-publishers have grown beyond leaps and bounds? And one can’t even argue that they’re “established” since we DA readers witnessed first hand the downfall of established e-publishers last year. The trouble I see is that there is some misconception that every person who self-publishes does to become wealthy and fabulous. I can argue that most people who desire to publish with NY have that assumption about their career as well. And like Zoe frequently mentions, people like to assume (erroneously) that all self-publishers start their own companies to “cheat” the system. Well…*chortle* Tina Engler started Ellora’s Cave to publish the erotic romance NY publishers weren’t accepting. And look…she’s changed the face of the romance genre forever. And not only Ellora’s Cave, but there are a ton of publishers out there who strive to publish what NY deems “unmarketable” or publish in niches NY has ignored (Parker Publishing, Medallion Press, Juno Books, etc). If writing is a business, then so is running one’s own imprint, and if someone is that business-minded, why fault their goals and aspirations for their career?

  121. Jody W.
    Oct 29, 2008 @ 13:20:38

    I would rather contract a book with a decent, thoroughly-researched small publisher than self-publish any day. I am not cut out for self-publishing. It’s too hard.

  122. Evangeline
    Oct 29, 2008 @ 13:30:27

    they would have failed, I mean. Typo-daemon.

  123. EssieLou
    Oct 29, 2008 @ 13:37:38

    HOWEVER I will NEVER forget Diana Gabldon's comment at Seattle's University Book Store about 10 years ago. She was a bit late and was surprised and clearly gratified by the huge crowd and was visibly nervous (I stood directly in front of her, so I could tell), but when a young girl shouted out from the crowd, “O When is DRUMS OF AUTHUM” coming out? I check with the bookstore every week. It seems so long since the last book. Can't you tell us what's in it……..etc., etc.” Well, Diana lost her cool. I think her lively proffessorial intellect perhaps hadn't faced the fact that there were a huge number of her fans who were so intellectually unadvanced (is that the kindest description?) to thom the apppearance of a new book in the series had taken why too much importance. She smiled but said rather sharply that she certainly hoped no one who read her books had lives of such emptiness that the main highlight of such a life was the issue of another Gabaledon book. It's as though she had never before considered the slavish, fanantical feelings her series had unleased, or if she did realize it, she wanted to nip it right there, and as she further commented, looking directly at the girl, “get a life.”

    Had I been present at that reading I would likely have gotten up and left, vowing never to buy a Gabaldon book again. The reader comment, if it played as you describe it, was hardly overzealous considering the context and the purpose of the event. The response, if it played as you describe it, was not merely rude from an author to a reader, but IMO it was disrespectful on a basic human level. Right or wrong, it would have given me the impression that Gabaldon had no respect for her readers, making me wonder why I should have respect for her writing. That is definitely the kind of thing that can breach my relationship with a book, whether or not I would change my mind later as the memory faded.

    This is simply an observation, based on what I know of human nature— especially my own. Some people don’t handle interaction with others well….which is why writing is so much their best element and why so many authors were viewed as misanthropic in the past. While I know it’s important from a sales and PR POV for an author to interact with fans etc, I also think some folks would be better off limiting their contact even that interaction via blogs, web and public venues. It changes something. Me? I’m probably someone who should buy an island without electricity and have the MS delivered by pelican.

    Like the point of the thread, it becomes like a concrete mixer full of pingpong balls…book feeds the reaction of fans feeds the reaction of author feeds the next book, etc etc.. Instead of writing from an internal spark, you’re reacting to the actions of others— from fans, reviewers, external stimuli etc. You can’t NOT be effected by it and it will change your writing. I don’t think the term ‘thick skin’ is as appropriate as simply knowing who you are are and your limits.

  124. Robin/Janet
    Oct 29, 2008 @ 14:14:05

    I don't think the term ‘thick skin' is as appropriate as simply knowing who you are are and your limits.

    Sticking to the Gabaldon example for a minute, I can’t imagine that she would walk into a classroom and say that kind of thing to a student. It’s entirely against the educational trust one takes on when becoming a teacher/professor. So I have to say it’s doubly astounding that someone ostensibly used to dealing with students would pointedly tell a reader to ‘get it a life’ (and this, BTW, is the part of the comment that would have really done it for me – the first part I could see as merely wry). Of course Gabaldon also made a comment about plagiarism that came up during the Edwards discussions that kind of left me drop-jawed, too, so she and I are already off on the wrong foot, I think. ;)

    But in general, I absolutely think that there are some authors who just do a better job of making themselves known to readers, and I don’t fault authors at all who are uncomfortable in the public eye from shying away from it. I also don’t believe that anyone really doesn’t flinch at criticism, so it’s not so much for me about authors becoming inured to criticism, because I would not expect an author to read negative commentary without feeling jabbed or even defensive.

    We readers are contradictory and capricious when it comes to authors; you can’t trust us to love you forever and you can’t depend on us to feed you regularly. Most of the time we don’t know what we want until we get it, so we’re hardly to be counted on to be consistent in our wants and needs.

    But if an author gets to the point where they cannot find that clear space for writing anymore, if they cannot feel separate from what readers say about their work, if they cannot find their work to be theirs in any substantive way, IMO it’s time to back away from the public interaction and to rediscover the pleasure of creativity for its own sake. That’s not something unique to authors, either, IMO — we all need to take those steps back sometimes in various endeavors.

    No one may be able to remain completely unaffected by or free from the opinions of others, from praise and criticism, but each of us has some control over our level of exposure.

  125. Johanna
    May 20, 2009 @ 19:45:43

    Hello. It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare. Help me! Looking for sites on: Wall clock. I found only this – http://turbo-tax.biz/. Located in raleigh, north carolina, usa. I offer free seo services to small and mid sized companies. Thank :cool: Johanna from Nicaragua.

  126. Yvette
    Apr 18, 2013 @ 04:05:13

    I just wished to just take a few minutes and tell you that I enjoyed reading
    the article. I honestly don’t think generally people know how much work that gets put into putting together a good web site. I recognize this is sort of random nonetheless it bugs me occasionally. Anyways excellent article.

%d bloggers like this: