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

Rogue Digital Conference at RWA: Think Fresh, Think Digital

freshdigi

We’ve got a time: 8:30 AM
On a date: July 16
And a Room: The Harding Room

While we have some great sponsors including: Books on Board, Red Sage Publishing, Samhain Publishing, Quartet Press, and Smart Bitches, this is a streamlined event and we would ask you to bring your own tea, coffee, hashbrowns or donuts. That’s right, it’s BYOTCH-D.

For the Rogue Digital Conference

Kassia Krozser of Booksquare.com and a frequent speaker on the publishing circuit and the head of a new romance epublisher, Quartet Press, will start us off by focusing on digital issues, particularly the contrasts between traditional print publishers and digital publishers. She will be highlighting the efficiencies of the latter, challenges (and strengths) for the former, and questions authors (and maybe readers) should be asking. Kassia will touch on timing of reversion of rights, territorial rights in the worldwide digital audience, chunked content, and the spectre of being paid on the net.

Sarah Wendell of SmartBitchesTrashyBooks.com, co-author of Beyond Heaving Bosoms, and lecturer will discuss digital promotion and some self publishing numbers shared by authors as well as the results of the Smart Btiches eBook Reader Olympics.

Jane Litte from DearAuthor.com will share with you the five questions you need to ask your agent about the Google Book Settlement. She will discuss how evolving technology may affect the number of ereading devices in the future such as transreflective LCD screens, the popularity of netbooks, tablets, and dedicated readers and the rise of the smartphone.

Angela James, executive editor of Samhain Publishing will present the digital publishing model and how it works along with the pros and cons of publishing with a digital publisher (aka why you may or may not want to go this route with your next book) with a straight look at the money.

Maya Banks and Lauren Dane, two epublished and print published authors, are ready to share the hard numbers about digital publishing and why they’ve both chosen to keep one foot in the digital publishing pond.

Use this widget to obtain a text of the date, time, and location of the Rogue Digital Conference.
Group text messaging by Tatango.

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

100 Comments

  1. Fran Toolan
    Jul 09, 2009 @ 10:32:06

    i would love to be part of this, but have a longstanding appt. that I can’t break. will any of you be live tweeting this? hashtag?

    ReplyReply

  2. Jackie Barbosa
    Jul 09, 2009 @ 10:33:39

    Isn’t it ironic that the ONE session that I’d really like to have attended the conference for has to be a “rogue” one? This sounds like it will have really great and useful content, and I’m sorry I can’t be there.

    ReplyReply

  3. Jane
    Jul 09, 2009 @ 10:38:45

    @Fran Toolan: We will be livetweeting it but we haven’t come up with a hashtag yet.

    ReplyReply

  4. DonLinn
    Jul 09, 2009 @ 10:38:52

    Can’t wait to be there. Great panel…I anticipate a lot of learning will be going on.

    ReplyReply

  5. Lisa Hendrix
    Jul 09, 2009 @ 10:49:37

    This sounds terrific and I wish I was going to be in DC so I could attend.

    I do believe, though, that if you’d all banded together to pitch this multi-faceted session to RWA to start with, you wouldn’t have had to go rogue.

    ReplyReply

  6. Elyssa Papa
    Jul 09, 2009 @ 10:51:06

    Ditto on what Jackie wrote—this is one I would have attended despite the time. (I’m not a morning person.) So that says a lot. Why not use the hashtag “rogue” or “digrwa?”

    ReplyReply

  7. Jane
    Jul 09, 2009 @ 11:03:26

    @LisaHendrix And you would be wrong Lisa because Kassia and Angie are not allowed to give presentations because they represent non RWA approved publishers. Further, Sarah and I submitted a proposal last year to discuss digital promotion and other digital related issues and were rejected. So your assumptions are entirely incorrect.

    ReplyReply

  8. Lisa Hendrix
    Jul 09, 2009 @ 11:04:04

    Can I suggest you invite someone from one of the traditional publishers who is moving into digital, perhaps Malle Vallick, to talk about their model for digital rights, royalities, etc.

    ReplyReply

  9. Jane
    Jul 09, 2009 @ 11:12:05

    @LisaHendrix: That would still not qualify for RWA’s stds. We would have to excise Angie and Kassia. Angie, laughably for RWA, is considered one of the foremost experts in publishing circles in the digital publishing model.

    ReplyReply

  10. Maureen McGowan
    Jul 09, 2009 @ 11:13:19

    I second what Lisa Hendrix said about including Malle Vallick if she can make it… I’d love to hear a trad publisher’s take on this, too.

    And I think it was only a “Spotlight” presentation that Angela wasn’t allowed to give? (Please, correct me if I’m wrong on this. But that’s how I read Pershing’s response.)

    I, too, would be willing to bet that if this line up of speakers had been presented to the conference committee it would’ve been accepted. Sounds awesome.

    ReplyReply

  11. Shannon Stacey
    Jul 09, 2009 @ 11:20:13

    You guys are killing me. Seriously.

    After reading Quartet’s preliminary contract terms, I’m interested in Kassia’s position on net. Plus I have no idea what chunked content means. And I’ve been waiting for Jane’s opinion on the Google Settlement so I’ll know what to do.

    I really wish you guys were doing this in Boston. :)

    I’ll be honest, though, and say that if there are going to be epublished authors there talking numbers, I wish at least one of them was not writing erotic romance.

    I’ll have my iTouch charged and standing by for the livetweeting, though!

    ReplyReply

  12. Linsey
    Jul 09, 2009 @ 11:26:13

    Will you be recording the session and posting it online for those who cannot make it?

    ReplyReply

  13. Angela James
    Jul 09, 2009 @ 11:32:36

    And I think it was only a “Spotlight” presentation that Angela wasn't allowed to give? (Please, correct me if I'm wrong on this. But that's how I read Pershing's response.)

    Nope. It’s workshops I’m not allowed to present. I submitted a workshop on dig. publishing and was rejected. That’s what Pershing referred to in her response.

    And while I love Malle and appreciate the feedback you’re giving on what you’d like to see, we worked hard to organize this, have invested a lot of time and energy into planning and discussing it, and are personally footing the bill for some of it, so I hope people will be satisfied with what we have planned, not Monday morning quarterback all the things they think/wish/hope we could have done.

    Perhaps people could send those suggestions/wishes to RWA for next year and it could be done within the scope of the RWA workshop schedule. Just not by me or Kassia apparently :P

    ReplyReply

  14. Maureen McGowan
    Jul 09, 2009 @ 11:36:09

    I’m very surprised at that, Angela… Lots of people give workshops at RWA who aren’t even members… Is bizarre.

    I agree too late to change line up for this year. I totally get how the armchair quarterback stuff is annoying. Sorry.

    ReplyReply

  15. Jane
    Jul 09, 2009 @ 11:36:58

    We won’t be inviting anyone else. First, there isn’t any time, and second, like Angie said, we put a lot of thought (not to mention Angie, Kassia, and Sarah putting up their own money for the room) and time into planning this conference. If you don’t think it will be of value, don’t come.

    ReplyReply

  16. Sherry Thomas
    Jul 09, 2009 @ 11:40:36

    I will be there.

    Janine, Bettie Sharpe, and I (and maybe Meredith Duran, if she ever gets free time again) have a crazy anthology that I don’t know which trad publisher will touch.

    Bettie’s is alternate-universe steampunk, Janine’s is a story-within-a-story fantasy/contemporary erotic romance, Meredith’s, if I remember correctly, might turn out to be a very unusual paranormal, and mine is straight science fiction romance.

    And all the stories begin with the same three paragraphs.

    ReplyReply

  17. Angela James
    Jul 09, 2009 @ 11:40:43

    @Maureen yes, everyone is surprised because I was on a very well attended digital publishing workshop last year. But this year, apparently it’s different, according to Ms. Pershing. No details on why it’s different. Just that it is.

    ReplyReply

  18. Melissa
    Jul 09, 2009 @ 11:41:26

    @Lisa Hendrix: Lisa, check out the workshop I did with Angie and Shelley Bradley last year. It can be purchased, I am sure. Shelley was in traditional print for years before dipping her toe into the epublishing realm, and did it for a lot of good reasons. She went over that in her part of the session.
    But, Angie has enough knowledge as do Maya and Lauren about this situation. I don’t think you need someone who went from trad to digital to explain it. These three ladies know enough about it.

    ReplyReply

  19. Angela James
    Jul 09, 2009 @ 11:42:05

    Dear Sherry Thomas,

    You had me at steampunk, fantasy and science fiction. It’s like you looked into my soul.

    Heh.

    ReplyReply

  20. Lauren Dane
    Jul 09, 2009 @ 11:45:28

    Shannon, roughly half of what I write for Samhain is NOT erotic romance. I’ll be talking about those numbers too.

    As for adding stuff or different approaches – shrug. This workshop filled a gap, a gap some felt just fine leaving and some did not. Angie and Jane and others stepped forward to plan and organize this. If people want to have more perspectives on digital publishing, I’d ask them to speak with their editors and publishers to suggest they do them at the next National because I think it would be very good to hear them. A single workshop can never be all things.

    ReplyReply

  21. Sherry Thomas
    Jul 09, 2009 @ 11:47:32

    I just read Jane’s comment about Kassia, Angela, and Sarah putting their own money into the room.

    Can we, the audience, do something to help defray the costs?

    ReplyReply

  22. Jane
    Jul 09, 2009 @ 11:50:19

    @Sherry Thomas: Nope, just bring your own breakfast. Angie, Kassia are putting up money through Samhain and Quartet and Sarah is putting up $$ through SmartBitches and I, since I don’t have any ad revenue here, I didn’t put up anything (and everyone was very gracious about it). Books on Board and Red Sage publishing helped to cover the rest of the cost of the room with a little $$ left over.

    ReplyReply

  23. Angela James
    Jul 09, 2009 @ 11:50:25

    You can buy us drinks at the bar :P

    ReplyReply

  24. Maureen McGowan
    Jul 09, 2009 @ 11:51:32

    A single workshop can never be all things.

    Very true. Am still shocked there aren’t workshops on this topic in the lineup this year. Many people interested, I think. Hope that room’s big :-)

    ReplyReply

  25. Angela James
    Jul 09, 2009 @ 11:54:39

    The room was covered through sponsorship from Red Sage, Samhain, Quartet and Books on Board. We have a small giveaway item that was paid for by Smart Bitches and myself.

    ReplyReply

  26. J L
    Jul 09, 2009 @ 12:07:38

    I’ll be following along on Twitter. I can’t justify the expen$e anymore of going to National Conference, not when I get such a better reception from smaller conferences. I can go to 3 smaller cons for the cost of 1 National.

    That said, this sounds like one workshop that might be worthwhile. Wish I could be there!

    ReplyReply

  27. Julie Kenner
    Jul 09, 2009 @ 12:16:41

    this looks great! I’m coming in to the con early that morning, so I should be able to toss my bags at a bell man and make it.

    But question … I have a lunch thing. How long’s the con? Hoping I can catch it all live and not just the tweet version of the latter parts.

    ReplyReply

  28. Angela James
    Jul 09, 2009 @ 12:20:21

    We are shooting for 8:30a to 10am, though we will go a little later if there are still questions to be addressed. The AGM is at 10:30 and we know people want to get to that.

    ReplyReply

  29. SandyW
    Jul 09, 2009 @ 12:26:20

    The Rogue Conference sounds awesome; very proactive.

    @Sherry Thomas:
    I'd like to pre-order a copy of your anthology. Regardless of format.

    ReplyReply

  30. Sherry Thomas
    Jul 09, 2009 @ 12:26:57

    Angela James said,

    You can buy us drinks at the bar :P

    Abslutely If you will step outside. Last year we were talking about you behind your back–everybody astonished at your (forgive us our absolute shallowness) gorgessity–and Bettie Sharpe mentioned, rather ominously, that she’s never seen you during daytime, under the sun. :-P

    ReplyReply

  31. Maya Banks
    Jul 09, 2009 @ 12:31:51

    I will need drinks BEFORE the panel. Wouldn’t turn down steady flow during either…

    ReplyReply

  32. Leslie Dicken
    Jul 09, 2009 @ 12:34:48

    Can’t wait. This is the type of information I needed to hear years ago as I was first fumbling my way through traditional and digital publishing.

    THANK YOU SO MUCH for getting this organized and paying out of your own expense!

    ReplyReply

  33. Angela James
    Jul 09, 2009 @ 12:39:54

    Abslutely If you will step outside. Last year we were talking about you behind your back-everybody astonished at your (forgive us our absolute shallowness) gorgessity-and Bettie Sharpe mentioned, rather ominously, that she's never seen you during daytime, under the sun. :-P

    Ahaha, I totally laughed out loud at that. I think I’m actually flattered by that…uh…accusation? Suggestion? Rest assured, I have been witnessed, in daylight, by many people. In Florida, at RT in the 80+ degree weather/hot sun, even.

    ReplyReply

  34. katiebabs
    Jul 09, 2009 @ 12:42:46

    I hope to attend. Somone has to make sure I am in bed at a reasonable time the night before.

    ReplyReply

  35. Jane
    Jul 09, 2009 @ 12:51:44

    @Leslie Dicken: Unfortunately we won’t be videotaping it (that would cost $$) but we will live tweet it. I know its not the same.

    ReplyReply

  36. Angela James
    Jul 09, 2009 @ 12:55:17

    Heheh. Just a microphone and podium were going to cost $250 so we’ll be um…using our outdoor voices instead, lol.

    ReplyReply

  37. Jill Sorenson
    Jul 09, 2009 @ 12:55:40

    So bummed I’m not attending this year! I would be there with bells on. I think I can follow a hashtag on twitter. But will any of the info shared at this panel be posted later, here at DA?

    ReplyReply

  38. Elizabeth Krentz-Wee
    Jul 09, 2009 @ 12:57:20

    I’m not coming to RWA, but am so happy to support digital publishing that I’ll be crossing my fingers, hoping the room is packed.

    ReplyReply

  39. Shiloh Walker
    Jul 09, 2009 @ 13:00:37

    :(

    I’m not going to be able to come the conference. Or at least not all-have a breakfast thing scheduled.

    ReplyReply

  40. Shiloh Walker
    Jul 09, 2009 @ 13:15:58

    @Lisa Hendrix:

    Can I suggest you invite someone from one of the traditional publishers who is moving into digital, perhaps Malle Vallick, to talk about their model for digital rights, royalities, etc.

    Traditional pubs are expanding into dig. territory, but they are far from being focused on the epublishing industry, and if I understand it correctly, much of this conference is going to be about providing education and info about epubs.

    Expanding into digital publishing isn’t the same thing as coming from epublishing.

    If it’s info on the epub industry I’m looking for, then I want it from the epub industry pros. If I’m looking for trad pub info, I go to the trad pub industry pros. Since this is more about providing info and education on epublishing, it only makes sense to look to epub industry pros.

    ReplyReply

  41. azteclady
    Jul 09, 2009 @ 13:37:29

    oh I’m SO going to be there!!!

    thank you, ladies!

    ReplyReply

  42. Sherry Thomas
    Jul 09, 2009 @ 14:22:27

    SandyW,

    LOL. As soon as we have a backer for the crazy anthology–that’s its official title–I’ll let you know.

    And thank you!

    ReplyReply

  43. Lauren Dane
    Jul 09, 2009 @ 14:36:23

    @Maureen McGowan: A full room would be wonderful and hopefully an indicator that RWA members are interested in info about digital publishing – even if it’s to decide it’s not for them

    ReplyReply

  44. Julie Kenner
    Jul 09, 2009 @ 14:57:01

    Thanks, Angela!!!! That works perfect; color me happy. Now to tell my friend that I have to get up and out of the apartment and to the conf hotel by 8!!!!

    ReplyReply

  45. Fae Sutherland
    Jul 09, 2009 @ 14:58:20

    I’m curious…since it’s Rogue and not technically a part of the RWA conference…can non-RWA members attend? I live just outside DC and did not plan on attending the conference, but for this I will haul my butt on the metro downtown at the buttcrack of dawn. Seriously. LOL *fingers crossed*

    ReplyReply

  46. Angela James
    Jul 09, 2009 @ 15:15:54

    Fae, I don’t see why not. We’re paying for the space and have no reason to place any restrictions on who can come. The same goes for the events we’re holding in our suite. Bosoms and Beer on Thursday evening and the Samhain Wine Extravaganza on Friday!

    ReplyReply

  47. Fae Sutherland
    Jul 09, 2009 @ 15:19:38

    @Angela James: Win! My co-author and I are so there! :)

    ReplyReply

  48. Janine
    Jul 09, 2009 @ 17:48:45

    It sounds great and I hope I can drag myself out of bed in time to attend. I will be taking a red eye flight to the conference and will be on west coast time so that will be 5:30 AM in my time zone. But I really don’t want to miss it!

    @Angela James

    You had me at steampunk, fantasy and science fiction. It's like you looked into my soul.

    Wow, that is so encouraging to hear! I should make it clear that mine is only part fantasy. My main character is a writer writing a fantasy story, which mirrors and contrasts with her own romantic relationship. The novella alternates chapters between the fantasy story and the contemporary romance. See why we call it the crazy anthology?

    ReplyReply

  49. Janine
    Jul 09, 2009 @ 17:55:00

    @SandyW: Bless you!

    ReplyReply

  50. Juliana Stone
    Jul 09, 2009 @ 20:29:51

    I’m will be there as well. Sounds like a great workshop, rogue or otherwise! I’ve got releases coming next year from both traditional print and digital. I think it’s wonderful that I have the opportunity to grow my career in both fields. As someone who sold to NY first, I have to say I’m totally impressed with my experience in the digital world too! Can’t wait

    ReplyReply

  51. Chicklet
    Jul 09, 2009 @ 20:51:56

    We're paying for the space and have no reason to place any restrictions on who can come. The same goes for the events we're holding in our suite. Bosoms and Beer on Thursday evening and the Samhain Wine Extravaganza on Friday!

    Angela, you’re being so inclusive! No wonder RWA National considers you a rogue operative. *g*

    ReplyReply

  52. Bookish Things That Have Me Thinking on a Thursday Night. | Quartet Press
    Jul 09, 2009 @ 21:50:16

    [...] of the sessions. But, what really brought it all home to me was today’s announcement of the Rogue Digital Conference/ session. Taking place on Thursday, July 16 at 8:30 am in “The Harding Room,” this event is [...]

  53. Evangeline
    Jul 10, 2009 @ 01:11:52

    Damn! Lack of money befouls my enthusiasm again! I hope to be there in Twit-spirit, if not in flesh.

    ReplyReply

  54. Lisa Hendrix
    Jul 10, 2009 @ 10:50:24

    @Melissa: Thanks for the tip. I thought I’d listened to everything from last year’s conference, but I must’ve missed your workshop. I’ll check my iPod. And I’ll watch Twitter for this year’s info. Any chance there will be maybe a .pdf download of facts and figures afterward?

    ReplyReply

  55. Theresa Stevens
    Jul 11, 2009 @ 10:14:15

    Red Sage is proud to co-sponsor this event and we hope the room will be packed. I’m not on the panel, but I do plan to attend — though perhaps not right at 8:30 because I’m so not a morning person. :/

    Red Sage is a traditional print publisher which moved into digital about a year and a half ago, and while I won’t be presenting, I’ll be happy to answer questions after the panel for those of you who are interested in that side of digital publishing. But only if it doesn’t interfere with the fine speakers and experts who are already in place. You’ve got some very savvy people on that panel. Take advantage of that.

    fwiw, I’ve spoken at numerous RWA conferences over the years, but this year our author/editor panel on short-form fiction was rejected. ::shrug:: That’s just less work for me.

    ReplyReply

  56. Jody Wallace
    Jul 11, 2009 @ 13:33:27

    Are there ANY industry people who work with a non-eligible press (IPs, not authors) appearing on any official RWA panels or workshops? Not spotlights, obviously, but things like the short-form fiction workshop Theresa mentioned, which would have been awesome, I bet. Curious minds want to know!

    ReplyReply

  57. Lisa Hendrix
    Jul 12, 2009 @ 09:14:08

    Representatives of non-eligible presses definitely are able to speak as part of panels or group workshops.

    In fact, Angela James herself was part of such a workshop last year (Myths, Legends and Realities of e-Publishing, with Melissa Schroeder, Shelley Bradley, and Angela James), a fact that has been conveniently omitted in all this because it would put lie to the idea that she’s “not allowed to speak.”

    The problem with the solo gig she proposed this year was probably that it would have looked very much like a publisher spotlight, which non-recognized publishers aren’t allowed to do. If Angela had proposed or been included in a workshop that included authors and/or industry professionals from other publishers — like she was last year — it would undoubtedly have been approved — like it was last year.

    If there are subjects that members want to see covered at RWA, they need to get together the experts and propose the workshops when the call goes out in August. That’s how it works. That’s the ONLY way it works.

    But don’t automatically expect that your workshop will be approved, or assume that because it’s rejected, that you're somehow being dissed. Workshops are turned down for a multitude of reasons from weak proposal to duplicate subject matter. I’ve had workshops turned down myself — workshops that I’ve given successfully at multiple regional conferences. They just didn't fit in that year, or someone else’s proposal made their’s look more interesting, or whatever. It’s not personal, and it’s not some monolithic “RWA” doing it. It’s just the Workshop Chair — one volunteer, with a couple of other volunteer committee members — doing her best to assemble the best conference she can from the proposals that are sent to her. Cut her some slack, and next year, volunteer to help.

    ReplyReply

  58. Angela James
    Jul 12, 2009 @ 09:30:03

    Now that you’ve called us all liars, perhaps you’d like to go back and read through this thread’s comments and see where we say–again, as we have all along in many other places since this all began–that I spoke last year and that’s why Ms. Pershing’s statement at ESPAN that my workshop was not accepted for reasons of being a non-eligible publisher are so puzzling. In fact, one of the comments about that particular workshop was directed right to you (#18) and you responded to it. So how exactly can you even dare to say this in the exact same thread? a fact that has been conveniently omitted in all this because it would put lie to the idea that she's “not allowed to speak.” Wow. Just wow..

    We are not the ones who so conveniently omitted the fact that I did speak last year. That would be Ms. Pershing who did so in her post at ESPAN. Which is why we brought it up here in the comments. And comments and blog posts elsewhere. Because it didn’t make any sense in light of the fact that I did speak last year.

    Frankly, I don’t appreciate either your insinuations or your tone at this point. I’ve been polite, I’ve answered all questions and had you done any research into this, not to mention stopping to think about the comments in this thread alone that you yourself responded to, rather than making wild and baseless assumptions and accusations, you would know that you’re out of line. It takes a lot to get me to the point where I’d get angry enough to leave a comment like this but you pushed me there. Congratulations. Perhaps it’s time for you to step back from this topic. And offer an apology to every one of us you just accused of lies by omission.

    ReplyReply

  59. Jane
    Jul 12, 2009 @ 10:30:27

    @LisaHendrix: Are you deliberately obtuse or have you failed read the ESPAN post by Diane Pershing:

    “Here is the actual story: Out of 400 workshop proposals this year, only two focused on digital publishing; one was deemed by the Workshop Committee to not be of the caliber needed, the other was by Deidre's publisher, Samhain, which is not on the list of RWA Eligible Publishers (From RWA's Policy and Procedure Manual, section 1.17. “Eligible Publisher” means a romance publisher that has verified to RWA in a form acceptable to RWA, that it: …..(3) provides advances of at least $1,000 for all books; and (4) pays all authors participating in an anthology an advance of at least $500). RWA policy prohibits a non-Eligible publisher from offering a workshop.”

    No one is lying. No one is hiding things by omission. The truth and facts are completely out there by the words of Diane Pershing herself, the current president of the RWA. Perhaps before you go around calling us liars, it would behoove you to fact check.

    I’m unsure what your problem is but you do appear to lack a good friend who will tell you that you are making yourself look horrible on the internet. Let me be that person. You are making yourself look like an ass.

    ReplyReply

  60. Theresa Stevens
    Jul 12, 2009 @ 10:32:31

    Don’t sweat it, Angela. That commenter is mistaken on the facts. She may not have read the list of panelists or topics — or sponsors, come to think of it. Red Sage would not have chipped in on the room costs for a backdoor spotlight for one of our competitors.

    ReplyReply

  61. Kassia Krozser
    Jul 12, 2009 @ 10:33:41

    Lisa — One thing that I think has gone seriously under-addressed, here and in other venues is the fact that the topic of digital — whether it be from the perspective of traditional publishers or digipubs — is missing entirely from the workshop schedule. I brought it up on Romancing the Blog and Deidre Knight brought it up at ESPAN. I understand that the Board tries not to influence the conference committee’s selection of panels, but when you have such an obvious omission of a critical topic, shouldn’t steps be taken to remedy that?

    And while Angela is more than capable of defending herself, I would note she is an expert on the topic and her expertise is known well beyond the romance community. It baffles me (still!) that the RWA didn’t look at the schedule and say, “Hey, we’re missing this, this is really important for all our members, published and unpublished, and we have some well-known industry experts in our ranks. Let’s see how we can make this work.”

    The changes — good and bad — related to digital are already impacting your career. The decisions you make today will have an impact on authors who sign with publishers one, five, ten years from now. They’ll have an impact on you one, five, ten years from now. I spent 45 minutes yesterday answering a question on reversion of rights, and barely scratched the surface. Our rogue seminar will not come close to answering all the questions that need to be answered.

    I’ve already addressed the reason I didn’t propose a workshop (I hadn’t planned to attend the conference this year and changed my mind far too late), but RWA has let down the membership on a topic that impacts the whole membership. Members proposing workshops is not the only way to get on the schedule. If there were gaps in the proposals, then isn’t it the responsibility of the organization to step up and make sure the topic is addressed? Did Jan Constantine from the Authors Guild go through a formal proposal process to speak on the GBS (I’d like to think the AG was this proactive, but I don’t have a lot of faith in the AG lately)?

    As a member, I’m angry about this lack of programming. As someone who attends far too many publishing industry conferences, I’m saddened that RWA members aren’t getting information about changes and developments happening around the industry.

    ReplyReply

  62. Robin
    Jul 12, 2009 @ 10:37:48

    I have no doubt that organizing a conference like RWA Nationals is an incredible job, and that if it weren’t for ALL the volunteer time given (inclusive of those members whose publishers are NOT eligible) it would be darn near impossible. And I also have no doubt that many RWA members are perfectly happy and satisfied with what RWA offers them, both at the local and national levels. All that is great.

    But at this point I truly wish that the RWA leadership and those who support its current policies would just come out and say, “We don’t want anything to do with digital.” Really, just say it: “We don’t want anything to do with digital.” Because it’s so very clear in so many ways.

    I am frankly astonished that more people aren’t discussing the requirement in the RWA policies that the president-elect must have been pubbed by an RWA approved publisher. Which, as far as I can tell, is a pretty strong statement that not EVERYONE can have a leadership position at RWA, as has been asserted elsewhere. I can only guess it’s because those folks who are either excluded by that policy or who are working for organizational change don’t a) want to be accused of hating RWA, or b) have way more faith that someone like me that RWA is open to change.

    In any case, I don’t see why RWA leadership isn’t saying directly what so very many of its indirect statements and direct actions do: that they just don’t want anything to do with digital. It’s okay: there are, I’m sure, still many people who would keep their RWA memberships with that position, even digitally pubbed authors. It may not be the same number as it is now (which I’m sure help defray both the financial and human resources cost of Nationals substantially), but at least if it were on the table, so to speak (instead of under it), the org could concentrate on what it deems important and relevant and everyone in the org could get behind a clear, forthright mission.

    It may not be that such a mission serves authors well in a rapidly changing, rapidly digitizing market, but what’s worse at this point, alienating people who think RWA is talking out of both sides of its mouth or simply cutting them loose to find what they need elsewhere and doing what the org thinks best for itself and a membership that signs on in complete understanding of the rules and the priorities.

    ReplyReply

  63. Lisa Hendrix
    Jul 12, 2009 @ 11:01:33

    Angela — You’re right, and I should have read back through all the comments again rather than skipping through, because after two days of writing about the 15th c and being away from this topic, I had forgotten the exchange with Melissa. For that mistake and for my tone, I do apologize.

    But mistake or not, I believe my point is valid: That your solo workshop was denied because it had the appearance of being a Publisher Spotlight, and for no other reason.

    What I was really responding to is the idea that some seem to have gotten, from whatever source, that your presentation was turned down because of some RWA prejudice against e-publishing/digital rights. The point I was attempting to make — done poorly, I admit — was that RWA has had workshops on this topic in the past, that you personally have been a part of those workshops, and that if there was no workshop selected this year, it was likely because either the proposals presented weren’t adequate or because, in your case, it might have caused problems with other non-recognized publishers who didn’t get a similar “spotlight.” The Workshop Coordinator can only pick from what she has in front of her, and has to do so in accordance with RWA policy.

    If you, Jane, Sarah, and the others involved had put a tiny fraction of the effort you’ve had to expend on the Rogue workshop into a proposal for the same workshop for for RWA, based on past experience, it almost certainly would have been approved — just like last year’s was.

    ReplyReply

  64. kate r
    Jul 12, 2009 @ 11:03:35

    oh yes, I’m there.

    ReplyReply

  65. Robin
    Jul 12, 2009 @ 11:18:42

    @Lisa Hendrix: Having presented at many conferences over the years, my experience has been that if the organizers want a certain topic covered, they will either invite someone to submit a presentation proposal or they will request that a particular presenter cover a certain topic. It is so very easy to have something covered you believe to be important.

    So if RWA did not think that Angela James’s proposed presentation was okay the way it was sent in, it would have been so very easy to either a) propose changes that would have made it acceptable and left it up to her as to whether or not to enact them, b) encouraged another individual/group to present, or c) sponsored something themselves directly.

    ReplyReply

  66. Theresa Stevens
    Jul 12, 2009 @ 11:22:03

    If you, Jane, Sarah, and the others involved had put a tiny fraction of the effort you've had to expend on the Rogue workshop into a proposal for the same workshop for for RWA, based on past experience, it almost certainly would have been approved

    That’s a curious assumption, given Diane Pershing’s statement indicating that policy would have barred such a workshop, regardless of how many hours of prep time the presenters put into their proposal.

    ReplyReply

  67. Kassia Krozser
    Jul 12, 2009 @ 11:33:50

    I would note that the rogue seminar was a response to the lack of programming. Jane, Sarah, and Angela all proposed workshops related to their areas of interest/expertise. It was only after it became apparent that no digital publishing workshops were on the schedule that this alternate programming was considered. This is being done in addition to other workshops and commitments, and, yes, it’s a lot of work.

    I personally believe there is a lot of confusion among the members about what is and isn’t acceptable when it comes to discussing digital in the context of RWA. I suspect the answer is that everything is on the table, but various messages over the years have — rightly or wrongly or a bit of both — been interpreted as digital is no-man’s (no writers?) land.

    ReplyReply

  68. Michelle
    Jul 12, 2009 @ 11:34:37

    @Lisa Hendrix — Do you have some sort of inside knowledge about what was or was not proposed this year? Also, do you have a first-person knowledge of the amount of effort that Angela put into her proposal? I ask because you have twice now inferred that you are qualified to comment on another person’s proposals and what would have been approved if only they had done it the way you think they should have. It’s a little irritating. (Bold emphasis below is mine…)

    The problem with the solo gig she proposed this year was probably that it would have looked very much like a publisher spotlight, which non-recognized publishers aren't allowed to do. If Angela had proposed or been included in a workshop that included authors and/or industry professionals from other publishers -’ like she was last year -’ it would undoubtedly have been approved -’ like it was last year.

    If you, Jane, Sarah, and the others involved had put a tiny fraction of the effort you've had to expend on the Rogue workshop into a proposal for the same workshop for for RWA, based on past experience, it almost certainly would have been approved -’ just like last year's was.

    Are you truly qualified to speak to another person’s efforts? Were you the decision maker this year, therefore making you a person who could speak the words “almost certainly” or “undoubtedly” concerning an approval of any given proposal?

    Just curious.

    ReplyReply

  69. Victoria Dahl
    Jul 12, 2009 @ 11:35:13

    If you, Jane, Sarah, and the others involved had put a tiny fraction of the effort you've had to expend on the Rogue workshop into a proposal for the same workshop for for RWA,

    What the heck could you possibly know about how much time and effort anyone put into this effort?

    Stating your opinion is one thing, but you are being unspeakably rude.

    ReplyReply

  70. Robin
    Jul 12, 2009 @ 11:41:10

    @Victoria Dahl: LOL, you waited to be comment #69 didn’t you, Victoria? ;)

    ReplyReply

  71. Victoria Dahl
    Jul 12, 2009 @ 11:44:59

    @Robin: I know when to hold ‘em & I know when to fold ‘em.

    Nice to know I finally have everyone trained to automatically look for naughty subtext in everything I do.

    ReplyReply

  72. Robin
    Jul 12, 2009 @ 12:13:05

    @Victoria Dahl: Hey, it was either that or indulge my frustration at the idea that this impressive group of women are basically being told it’s their fault they’re not presenting at RWA proper. Because if it’s really true that RWA would have welcomed such a presentation, there has been plenty of time since its announcement for them to sign on as official sponsors — or at the very least thank the group for its work and expertise and encourage members to attend the seminar that they did not have to do the work planning or paying for.

    ReplyReply

  73. Angela James
    Jul 12, 2009 @ 12:41:07

    Lisa, while I accept your apology for the accusation of being a liar and appreciate you making the apology, I’m a bit taken aback by your continued dismissive tone towards me and the others who have discussed this. Actually, this:

    If you, Jane, Sarah, and the others involved had put a tiny fraction of the effort you've had to expend on the Rogue workshop into a proposal for the same workshop for for RWA, based on past experience, it almost certainly would have been approved -’ just like last year's was.

    Made me say “oh my god” out loud. I know other commenters have said this previously (Michelle said it really well) but…seriously, did you see my proposal? How do you know how much effort I did or didn’t have to put into it? For the record, I put a good 40-hour work week of effort into assembling the information, fact-checking, writing it up and polishing it. I don’t think that’s any tiny fraction of effort.

    But aside from all that, you are here to assure us that a panel from me that included other people would have been accepted because you know this for a fact? I can only assume you’ve been corresponding with someone at RWA and are merely repeating information the rest of us are not privvy to.

    However, in the meantime, we have the president of the RWA who, as Jane pointed out above says:

    “Here is the actual story: Out of 400 workshop proposals this year, only two focused on digital publishing; one was deemed by the Workshop Committee to not be of the caliber needed, the other was by Deidre's publisher, Samhain, which is not on the list of RWA Eligible Publishers (From RWA's Policy and Procedure Manual, section 1.17. “Eligible Publisher” means a romance publisher that has verified to RWA in a form acceptable to RWA, that it: …..(3) provides advances of at least $1,000 for all books; and (4) pays all authors participating in an anthology an advance of at least $500). RWA policy prohibits a non-Eligible publisher from offering a workshop.”

    So essentially, what you’re telling us is that Ms. Pershing was mistaken and you have the right of it? It has nothing to do with me working for a non-eligible publisher, but instead with the content and lack of co-presenters? So we are to understand that you are in a position of greater knowledge and authority to speak on this matter than the president of the RWA? In that case, I wish, if this is information you’ve been told, that RWA would simply come forth and say that Ms. Pershing was mistaken. I understand that it’s difficult to say “I was wrong” but I always admire any person/organization who can own their mistakes and I think others do as well.

    ReplyReply

  74. Jody Wallace
    Jul 12, 2009 @ 12:59:33

    I guess that means Theresa Stevens’ workshop, in which other individuals were involved and was thus not a “publisher spotlight”, must have been subpar in quality, since there seem to be zero workshops about short fiction in 2009′s schedule, unless I missed one? I just skimmed it. Or perhaps the committee automatically sensed Theresa and her fellow panelists only put 1/11th of the appropriate effort into it. (If they’d worked at a 1/10-effort rate it would have been almost certainly approved).

    No, Theresa is not my editor, and no, I was not to be one of her fellow panelists, btw :)

    ReplyReply

  75. Marie-Nicole Ryan
    Jul 12, 2009 @ 13:33:22

    How was last year’s presentation by Angie, Shelley Bradley, and Melissa Schroeder not “considered” a Samhain Spotlight? Melissa and Shelley are both published by Samhain, although they might be published by other houses as well.

    It just seems to me that the RWA rules changed…again…in order to passover an avowed expert in digital/electronic rights and publishing just because the publisher (which is mine as well) isn’t “eligible”.

    I hope this omission is rectified by 2010. And I don’t want to hear from a traditional publisher who is finally dipping a proverbial toe in the water. I want to hear from experts in the field.

    ReplyReply

  76. Lisa Hendrix
    Jul 12, 2009 @ 13:37:12

    when you have such an obvious omission of a critical topic, shouldn't steps be taken to remedy that?

    I believe that when the final conference schedule comes out, we may discover that they have been, at least to some extent.

    Something that needs to be kept in mind is that the Board, per policy, meets only once per quarter. In other words, they haven’t met since March, and thus haven’t had any opportunity to address this issue directly. The office staff, while wonderful and a great source of organizational memory, isn’t allowed to do a lot of this stuff. You have to give the organization a chance to respond, and you have to know that the more time they have to spend putting out fires, the less time they have to do any substantive work.

    I am frankly astonished that more people aren't discussing the requirement in the RWA policies that the president-elect must have been pubbed by an RWA approved publisher.

    Do you really want an RWA President whose sole background in publishing is that she has five e-books out that have made $150 each? Because that’s what some of the earn-outs are, not with EC and Samhain, but with some of the other e-publishers. And how about if she was “published” by iUniverse? How about Lulu, another self-publisher who issues e-books? Do you really think anyone would take the organization seriously if an author with that kind of experience approached the reps of a publishing house that makes half a billion dollars every year to discuss contract issues?

    The harsh reality is that there are a number of e-publishers including, unfortunately, some well-known within the romance community, that are little more than vanity presses whose authors seldom earn out more than a couple of hundred dollars, if that (again, not EC or Samhain). There are e-publishers founded largely to bring out the books of the owner and his/her friends (I ran into yet another one of those at a book fair recently). There are underfunded, poorly run e-publishers (and print publishers, for that matter) who have “purchased” a bunch of books, then gone into bankruptcy, taking the authors’ rights with them — because no matter what the publisher or the contract says, those rights go into auction with the other assets of the company unless the author got them back at least 180 days before the filing.

    It’s publishers like that who dirty the water for legitimate e-houses and small presses and force organizations like RWA to take steps to attempt to separate them out so that they don’t gain apparent legitimacy by being featured at organization events. It’s a tough thing to do. How, exactly, do you tell if a publisher is legitimate and treats its authors like the professionals they are? Where, exactly, do you draw those lines?

    E-publishers could do that for themselves. The ones who have been around a while could, perhaps should, establish a professional organization. They could require members to adhere to certain minimum business practices that protect both the authors and the reputation of the industry itself — something agents have done with the Association of Authors Representatives.

    Speaking of which — RWA has agent eligibility standards, and no one complains about that. Why? Because it keeps the fly-by-nights from showing up at conference, pretending to be legit while they rip people off. Is RWA suddenly supposed to close their eyes just because some of the fly-by-nights happen to call themselves publishers? Should there be no standards at all?

    RWA has long withheld eligibility from vanity and subsidy presses, along with other small presses lacking a proven or acceptable track record, and it has an obligation to the membership to continue to do so, whether those presses are print or electronic. Perhaps the filter can stand some tweaking as things evolve, but that’s what the publisher standards are about, and nothing else. To pretend otherwise is disingenuous.

    ReplyReply

  77. Theresa Stevens
    Jul 12, 2009 @ 13:47:58

    Dang. I guess next year I’d better put in the full ten percent effort. ;)

    Our proposed workshop was nothing like a publisher spotlight. We were going to do a technical workshop on short fiction writing techniques. I have a BA in Creative Writing with a concentration in short fiction. I’m the managing editor for an established publisher with a record of hit-making in this niche — a publisher which was an RWA conference sponsor last year and in other prior years. And the authors involved were each multi-published and fairly well-known for this story type. Qualifications and content should never have been an issue.

    But I never questioned the reasons for RWA’s rejection of this proposal because, honestly, I don’t care. I think the authors were disappointed, but for me, it just meant less work in an already crowded schedule. Plus, now I don’t have to go to the conference, and that’s fine by me. I certainly don’t need any more rubber chicken lunches. My ass is quite huge enough already.

    If RWA changes course and re-opens the door to small presses, then we might contemplate submitting that proposal again. But for this year, I have to admit, I’m enjoying my freedom. That might not be PC, but it’s the truth.

    ReplyReply

  78. Lisa Hendrix
    Jul 12, 2009 @ 13:48:23

    How was last year's presentation by Angie, Shelley Bradley, and Melissa Schroeder not “considered” a Samhain Spotlight? Melissa and Shelley are both published by Samhain,

    I have heard, although I don’t know it for a fact, that the proposal came from the authors and not from the publisher. That would be one major difference right there, enough of one to keep other non-eligible publishers from claiming that Samhain was getting preferential treatment. As I keep repeating, RWA is not out to keep the issue out of workshops.

    How do you know how much effort I did or didn't have to put into it?

    Angela (and others), either you misread me or I wasn’t clear. I didn’t mean to imply that you didn’t put a lot of effort into your individual proposal. What I said was that if all of you together had put that effort into doing a proposal for a workshop with all of you, it would have likely been accepted. You guys are putting a tremendous amount of effort and money into the rogue workshop. Wouldn’t it have been easier to put that initial 40 hours into assembling a proposal for the panel that you’re ending up with anyway?

    I’m not privvy to any inside information, but I’ve been around the organization enough to know how it works. And there’s been enough posted in various locations around the web to suss out that the proposal was Angela alone. Every mention has been that ‘Angela was turned down’ – not that ‘Angela and JaneDoe were turned’ down.

    ReplyReply

  79. Robin
    Jul 12, 2009 @ 14:04:35

    @Lisa Hendrix: I’m sorry, Lisa, but you and I know very well that there is an enormous difference between allowing ONLY royalty-based print pubbed members to be president of RWA and Armageddon catalyzed by some unethical, greedy, fly-by-night published author (and can you seriously entertain the idea that said author would really get the votes? If so, then I think there are much bigger problems in RWA). Offering a ridiculous alternative does not justify an unreasonably exclusive policy (all terms my opinion, obviously).

    Your comments here suggest that it’s somehow the responsibility of legitimate epublishers to police the digital environment, but I just do not understand that supposition at all. If RWA is going to claim that it represents all of its members, and if a large portion of those members are either unpublished or solely digitally published, then doesn’t it have a responsibility to represent those members in a way that demonstrates full understanding of all legitimate business models, including digital (unless you want to claim that publishers like Samhain are NOT legitimate, in which case, the issues on the table are somewhat different and RWA is a very different org than it currently claims to be)? What in the world does a publisher like Samhain have to do to show its legitimacy that it is not already doing? And if the answer is “pay royalties,” well, then we’re back to the point of “RWA doesn’t want anything to do with digital.” Moreover, why should a publisher like Samhain be in any way shape or form responsible for illegitimate publishers (based on whatever criteria would be mutually agreed upon)?

    It’s obvious you are loyal to RWA and its leadership, and I’m sure RWA leadership appreciates that. But whether or not the RWA board has met since March, how is that stopping any of its members from speaking publicly, as Pershing did on ESPAN? Because your comments — and inside information you seem to have — suggest to me that there is much discussion going on behind the scenes (and is there no expectation of confidentiality for proposal presentations? That seems kind of bad to me, from an ethics standpoint, if there isn’t.).

    But regardless, here you have a group of distinguished women (and as has been pointed out here and elsewhere, Angela James is recognized as a digital pub expert by organizations and at conferences that extend well beyond RWA in scope and influence) who HAVE taken the initiative to do something RWA seems unwilling to do itself, and STILL they’re being called out for it. To a lowly reader like me, it seems sometimes like RWA keeps holding out these flaming hoops, and every time they’re jumped through, a new set appears, smaller and with bigger flames. At what point would RWA be satisfied with alternate revenue models? If the answer is they would not, then for heaven’s sake, just SAY that and be done with taking money from authors who may never (and may not want ever) to see a NY print contract.

    ReplyReply

  80. Heather Massey
    Jul 12, 2009 @ 14:27:14

    @Sherry Thomas I am giddy with anticipation about this anthology! Fingers crossed that it finds a home soon. You know it’s welcome aboard TGE anytime.

    ReplyReply

  81. DonLinn
    Jul 12, 2009 @ 14:32:23

    My interest here is purely academic in that I’m intrigued by the ghetto-ization of digital-only authors and publishers across a number of writers’ associations, but for someone who’s so disdainful of the subject matter, Ms Hendrix is certainly showing an inordinate level of interest in it.

    Further, if digital publishers are a bunch of fly-by-nighters who only pay their authors $30 a book why does she ask if there’s

    Any chance there will be maybe a .pdf download of facts and figures afterward?

    Finally, I’m sure we’re all intrigued by her belief that

    when the final conference schedule comes out, we may discover that they have been, at least to some extent.

    Is the RWA establishment going to out-rogue the rogues? I’m hopeful Ms Hendrix will share the basis for this belief.

    As Kassia pointed out earlier in this thread, whether an author intends to publish in digital format in the future or not, her career, along with those of her fellow authors, will be affected by this new medium. RWA’s unwillingness to acknowledge that by providing even the most basic education to its members is not in their interests.

    ReplyReply

  82. Lisa Hendrix
    Jul 12, 2009 @ 14:34:59

    If RWA is going to claim that it represents all of its members, and if a large portion of those members are either unpublished or solely digitally published, then doesn't it have a responsibility to represent those members in a way that demonstrates full understanding of all legitimate business models, including digital (unless you want to claim that publishers like Samhain are NOT legitimate, in which case, the issues on the table are somewhat different and RWA is a very different org than it currently claims to be)?

    I never, ever said Samhain (or EC) were not legitimate publishers.

    However, the problem is still how to sort out legit from not legit, for purposes of eligibility for RWA events. Everyone in e-publishing complains that the requiring advances is not the right measure. Fine. Then what should be used? How exactly does the organization tell a legitimate e-publisher from one that exists as a vanity for a clique of friends?

    And no fair saying “it’s obvious.” Give me some numbers, facts, figures, behaviors that can be applied across the board to indicate whether a particular publisher should be considered eligible to present a spotlight at National. Then find a mass consensus on what you’ve come up with.

    Good luck. The Board has been struggling with this for years–multiple boards, consisting of probably a hundred people all together–and no matter what they do, there are people who think they’re too strict and others who think they’re far too loose. The too strict side is especially vocal on this site, but I assure you, if it came up in another context, there would be just as many people shouting to make them far tighter. Even people who are un-published. And probably even a few who have been e-published, say, by Triskelion.

    ReplyReply

  83. Theresa Stevens
    Jul 12, 2009 @ 14:38:33

    Oh, well, looks as though the conversation is shifting to recognition standards. As that is between the publishers and RWA, this mere editor will check out of the debate and go earn her paycheck for a while.

    ReplyReply

  84. Jane
    Jul 12, 2009 @ 14:44:27

    @Lisa Hendrix: How is it you are so positive that the Rogue Digital Seminar would have been accepted? Is your source someone on the committee? And if so, how can one committee member make that assessment? Why didn’t the committee inform Angie of the deficit of her submission?

    Why will there be changes in the RWA schedule if all the conference meetings are based on submissions by individuals back in August? Is it possible that RWA is reaching out and trying to form a digital panel (which as I understand is likely to be advertisements for NY publishers as to their NY digital publishing goals and nothing about the digital publishing model)? Isn’t that we have argued before? That RWA should be proactive (see infra Robin’s comments and everyone else’s in previous posts)?

    If you know something about RWA’s digital seminars not previously identified, perhaps you can share those with us so RWA attendees can plan accordingly?

    ReplyReply

  85. Elyssa Papa
    Jul 12, 2009 @ 14:46:11

    @lisahendrix, I’m actually appalled at your behavior. You’re beyond the pale of rude.

    Do you really want an RWA President whose sole background in publishing is that she has five e-books out that have made $150 each?

    I want the president of RWA to be an advocate for all writers, whether print published, e-published, or aspiring, and for any member of RWA. A president who dismisses one type of publishing does not have all members’ best interests at heart.

    Beyond that, what the hell does it matter if a future RWA president has five e-books or has none? Are you really trying to state that a certain type of publication and experience has more sway over editors, etc? Because that is the one of the most asinine things I’ve ever read.

    ReplyReply

  86. Lilli Feisty
    Jul 12, 2009 @ 14:50:49

    I think this is a wonderful idea! Enough to drag my sorry ass out of bed before 8:00 AM! Thanks for doing this! And what an amazing panel of speakers!

    ReplyReply

  87. Lilli Feisty
    Jul 12, 2009 @ 14:57:15

    I also just want to add that I think Angela James is amazing and an inspirational person when it comes to alternative forms of publishing. I really respect her for doing so much for the field, despite such outspoken and difficult obstacles. I’m very proud I recently sold a book to Samhain (I also write for Grand Central Publishing) and that Angela is not only my publisher, but a wonderful spokesperson for non-traditional models of romance publishing.

    ReplyReply

  88. Robin
    Jul 12, 2009 @ 15:01:14

    @Lisa Hendrix: Okay, beyond the fact that *I* am not obligated nor should I even be asked to provide you with potential criteria for digital publishers, and the important caveat that I do not speak for or on behalf of ANYONE in digital publishing, I can think of some general things I’d be looking at:

    a) quality and uniformity of author feedback
    b) number and quality of authors complaints
    c) revenue of said publisher
    d) gross sales numbers
    e) some minimum years in business bar
    f) general structure of the business (how is it managed, how are books acquired, how are they edited)
    g) acceptance rates

    And if the primary criteria for a publisher to be embraced by RWA is payment of at least $1k in royalties, than ANY list of criteria for epublishers would likely be much more thorough and stringent in its requirements. Because we all know that NY pubs are hardly angels when it comes to how they manage their business and how/whether they look out for authors’ interests. Just because much of the muck stays off the interwebs does not make those presses ideal in their business models. And I think there are many authors right now who are not finding NY particularly inviting, profitable, or loose with advance change. A the current financial crises in some NY pubs cause for concern with RWA? Are board members reconsidering their endorsement of some of those pubs?

    As for the allegedly Sisyphean task of evaluating epubs, what does Piers Anthony use as criteria in his preditors and editors list; I would think there’d be some valuable information there for anyone interested in and willing to take a serious look at the digital model. And honestly, if Diane Pershing’s ESPAN statement is the product of years of study of digital, I would politely suggest that maybe it’s time to take a look at some different informational resources. Because even as just a reader some of her comments made absolutely no sense to me, even at the level of bare logic. That doesn’t mean she’s ill-intentioned or a horrible person, just that I found many of her comments befuddling.

    I don’t understand the whole structure of the RWA board, but I do find it a bit unsettling that someone from the Board isn’t responding on this thread. That an author who is not a board member is giving some the impression of speaking on their behalf strikes me as a bit of a problem from an organizational ethics point of view. It also makes me wonder if the rogue seminar is threatening to RWA in some way, which would be mightily ironic, since they didn’t seem to want anything to do with it this year (and if RWA IS putting something on their schedule, I would ask why Pershing didn’t say that in her ESPAN article instead of suggesting very strongly that people just aren’t interested in the topic!).

    ReplyReply

  89. Courtney Milan
    Jul 12, 2009 @ 15:21:04

    @lisahendrix Actually, the RWA policies and procedures manual clearly states that a non-RWA eligible publisher or agent may not give a workshop. Whether that clause is new this year, or was not enforced last year, I cannot say.

    But as of the current regime, it is not possible for Angie to be on a panel.

    ReplyReply

  90. Courtney Milan
    Jul 12, 2009 @ 15:28:42

    The section of the P&PM is 8.14. I apologize for the lack of links, but I’m posting from my iPhone which is a somewhat suboptimal linking environment.

    ReplyReply

  91. Jody Wallace
    Jul 12, 2009 @ 15:37:53

    Give me some numbers, facts, figures, behaviors that can be applied across the board to indicate whether a particular publisher should be considered eligible to present a spotlight at National.

    the RWA policies and procedures manual clearly states that a non-RWA eligible publisher or agent may not give a workshop.

    Does this mean a general workshop like the one Theresa was going to be in or the one Angie was in last year or an actual, formal spotlight? I don’t think anyone here is arguing ineligible publishers should get spotlights, at least not in this particular post. Angie’s workshop WAS NOT a spotlight, despite the fact she was flying solo; it was a general workshop about digital publishing, wasn’t it?

    If this is just about gaming the system (having an author be the one to “propose” the workshop even if the small press industry professional does most of the talking), that’s kind of dumb.

    ReplyReply

  92. Courtney Milan
    Jul 12, 2009 @ 15:48:01

    Jody,

    It is not just a spotlight. If nobody does it before I get home, I’ll post the exact language. I believe, however, that they cannot be on a panel–not just not propose one. The P&PM is online under governance if anyone else wants to look it up.

    ReplyReply

  93. DonLinn
    Jul 12, 2009 @ 15:58:54

    Reminds me of the old courtroom saying:

    “When the facts are against you, argue the law.”

    ReplyReply

  94. Lisa Hendrix
    Jul 12, 2009 @ 16:00:47

    Your comments here suggest that it's somehow the responsibility of legitimate epublishers to police the digital environment, but I just do not understand that supposition at all.

    Why not? Agents police themselves, and they do it precisely because it’s so easy to call yourself an agent that fly-by-nights made the legitimate agencies look bad. If legitimate e-publishers are being made to look bad by JohnDoe Publishing, then why shouldn’t they take steps to set themselves apart by forming a trade organization that admits only publishers who’ve proved themselves somehow, in the same way that agents in AAR have proved themselves and pledged to uphold certain standards. I seem to recall an organization of e-publishers in the past. What ever happened to it?

    As Kassia pointed out earlier in this thread, whether an author intends to publish in digital format in the future or not, her career, along with those of her fellow authors, will be affected by this new medium. RWA's unwillingness to acknowledge that by providing even the most basic education to its members is not in their interests.

    I pointed that out weeks ago, the last time this came up, when I said that we’re all digitally published now. I want to see workshops about digital issues (rights, royalties and payouts, DRM pro and con, hardware/technology, the Google settlement, and how new and established authors can effectively navigate an industry in transition, among other things), and I think most members probably do. If not, they should.

    The fact remains that only two relevant workshops were proposed this year. Two. Out of a pool of 10,000 members. Angela’s unfortunately was turned down, for the reason stated by Diane Pershing (a move which I can only assume was, ironically, meant to avoid an uproar from other unapproved publishers wanting a similar platform).

    To extrapolate that into some kind of “unwillingness” on RWA’s part to adequately educate its members…I don’t even have words for the stretch that is.

    I'm intrigued by the ghettoization of digital-only authors and publishers across a number of writers' associations, but for someone who's so disdainful of the subject matter, Ms Hendrix is certainly showing an inordinate level of interest in it.

    Pardon, but the disdain isn’t for digital only. It’s for any outfit that masquerades as a publisher when it really isn’t, e.g. vanity and subsidy presses, whether electronic or print. I have the same disdain for folks who pretend to be agents but charge reading fees or bulk mail packages of mss to inappropriate publishers.

    And why, pray tell, shouldn’t I be interested in the subject ? It’s my career, and my recent books are out in multiple digital formats. I have a vested interest both in distinguishing good from bad publishers and in how RWA addresses that issue. I’ve been talking to e-published and small press authors for years. I’ve watched some of my friends make it, and some get screwed. I’ve heard the gossip about so-and-so making $30,000 off one e-book, and seen the pitiful earn-outs reported on Show Me the Money, and had friends admit to earning even less. I’ve watched a chapter mate who was contracted by a small publisher sit for literally years waiting for her book to come out in print — “next fall, well, maybe next year” — then have it offered in e-only after the company figured out that was a way to technically fulfill the contract when that was not the deal at all. I’ve watched another friend start an e-publishing house and totally tank it within a year because she had no idea what she was doing and no clue how to edit a book. And I’ve watched Triskelion go under, taking authors rights with them. (Just to be fair, I’ve watched that last happen with NY print publishers, too. It sucks, no matter how big or small the company.) I’ve watched S&S claim they own your books forever.

    So, yeah, I’m interested in digital rights and e-publishing, and I have been since the mid-90s when the first e-publishers took their baby steps. From total skeptic, I’ve slowly come around to seeing it as a potential, and now as a legitimate, route to publication *with the right publisher.* The problem is figuring out who, exactly, the right publishers are before you get ripped off or discover you’re merely self-published on someone else’s server.

    And yes, I’d love to see some facts and figures, preferably unbiased in either direction. The big guys are (mostly) publicly owned, so you can find out about their financial status, and you can get an idea of author via the advances reported in Publisher’s Weekly. There is no such venue to find out about small and electronic presses. I’d love to see even a fraction of that much transparency in e- and small presses.

    I'm hopeful Ms Hendrix will share the basis for this belief (ed: that the final workshop schedule will have something about digital)

    Because the final schedule is ALWAYS different from the preliminary schedule, and always has a slightly different balance of workshops in response to varying issues that come up. I’ve seen that every single year I’ve attended RWA. Anyone who’s attended more than two or three times would make the same assumption.

    Does this mean a general workshop like the one Theresa was going to be in or the one Angie was in last year or an actual, formal spotlight?

    An actual formal spotlight, or one that an be interpreted that way, in other words, a single publisher standing alone and talking mostly about how she does business. I don’t know if that’s what Angela intended, but that may be what it looked like to the Workshop Committee — or what they thought it might look like to other non-accepted publishers who would love to have a similar venue. I dunno. I’m guessing, based on what Pershing said.

    —-

    I originally stepped into this discussion because of the misleading statements about RWA that were being promulgated and I admit should have kept my comments to that. But the issues are so intertwined that it’s hard to separate them. I crossed the line, and now there’s no going back.

    However, there is stopping. And that’s what I’m going to do, not because I don’t want to keep having fun here on the pillory, but because I have a book to write, kids to cuddle, and poison ivy to kill, not necessarily in that order. Bye.

    ReplyReply

  95. Kassia Krozser
    Jul 12, 2009 @ 17:24:37

    Lisa — I appreciate your comments on this (and I’m not venting at you here, I swear). You’re not entirely wrong. There should be a strong organization for digital publishers, if only because, while romance is on the leading edge, this idea is growing across the publishing industry. But I don’t want to confuse the issue by getting into that topic here.

    I keep circling back to the same issue (and I know I’m harping on it): if there were only two proposals and one was deemed to be insufficient and one was determined to be too close to a publisher spotlight (wildly paraphrasing here), why didn’t the RWA actively seek out out alternatives? This is what bothers me more than anything — even if items get added at the last minute to the schedule (and if these workshops exist, they should be publicized now, as people are finalizing their own plans while packing for the trip) — is that nobody stepped up, after this issue was raised, and said, “You’re right, we need to address this.”

    Your list of topics is timely today (I would add piracy to that list as well). While you are asking why Jane, Sarah, Angela, and I didn’t put this proposal together, I would respond that our small workshop cannot begin to address all the issues authors are facing, but we are putting our own time and money to make sure the discussion is starting. We would have had at least four proposals, of which one would be Angela’s. Because it’s impossible, in 2009, to talk about this topic without looking at the broader implications.

    On the flip side, I’m asking you why members of PAN didn’t suggest workshops on piracy, DRM, royalties, territorial rights, release patterns, reversion of rights, different business models, cloud-based content, chunked content, and more? Given that major authors are shopping their digital rights to the highest bidder (the recent Danielle Steele deal was only one such example), shouldn’t the traditionally published authors in RWA be leading voices on this topic?

    These are not digipub issues, though the conclusions drawn might lead some authors to choose a digipub over a traditional publisher in some instances or for some rights.

    I have nothing but the highest regard for people who serve on the RWA board. No matter what the issue, it’s a thankless task. But I don’t think I’m alone in believing a wound that has festered for over a decade needs a new kind of treatment. Nor do I think I’m alone in wanting better communication about what is happening. The board meets in person a few times a year, talks on the phone/meets via phone more frequently, and is certainly communicating in other ways. The membership doesn’t know what’s being discussed.

    ReplyReply

  96. Angela James
    Jul 12, 2009 @ 18:01:26

    @Lilli Feisty Wow, thank you so much, that’s some pretty generous praise!

    ReplyReply

  97. Courtney Milan
    Jul 12, 2009 @ 18:54:05

    Now that I am home, I have the text of the Policies & Procedures Manual before me:

    8.1.4. To be permitted to offer workshops, appointments, and other Conference functions, (1) agents must be RWA Eligible Agents, and (2) publishers, editors, and other publishing house representatives must be from Eligible Publishers.

    This is the only line that excludes non-eligible publishers from offering “spotlights” at conference (spotlights, I presume, fall under “other Conference functions”) and so if a person cannot offer a spotlight or take appointments, they cannot offer a workshop, either.

    That means that Angela James and Kassia Krozser couldn’t be on a panel, period–which means that the only e-pub focused workshops would have to be offered by e-published authors or people like Jane and SB Sarah. And that seems silly, because Jane and Sarah are marvelous, but can’t speak to what’s selling (unless they get data), and authors only have their own individual experience to discuss. Only editors can talk about what’s going on, and under the current P&PM, they’re categorically excluded.

    As for why Angela James was allowed to speak last year…. I don’t know. So far as I can tell, 8.1.4 was in force last year (although in slightly modified format; July 2008′s Board Meeting modified it, but not as to anything relevant). Oversight, maybe?

    ReplyReply

  98. Sherry Thomas
    Jul 13, 2009 @ 08:01:11

    @Heather Massey,

    Thank you! But don’t hold your breath, as Janine is the only one to have finished her story so far. Bettie has half of hers, I a third of mine. And Meredith, well, I don’t even think she has started yet.

    ReplyReply

  99. Jackie Barbosa » Blog Archive » Musing on Monday: Digital Rights for the New Millenium
    Jul 13, 2009 @ 15:36:45

    [...] alongside (but separate from) the RWA National Convention in Washington DC this week. (Deets here. The Twitter hashtag for the session, which will be live-tweeted, is [...]

  100. Chicks-n-scratching » Blog Archive » What to do when the mice are away…
    Jul 16, 2009 @ 00:26:28

    [...] this is being published) in DC. It’s not far from me, and I wanted to run up here for the Rogue Digital Conference. So, I’m at the conference… sort of… but not [...]

Leave a Reply

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.

%d bloggers like this: