Migraines and Millipedes

Here I am taking a post on my not-week because I am so lousy at remembering which week I’m supposed to be doing. It can’t hurt though right?

There are a ton of things I love about GFP. Getting to read excellent things, even if we never use them. Seeing positive reviews about our products. Navigating the rocky streams that are distribution and discovery. Building relationships with retailers. (I lie, that’s one of the things I don’t like, but view as a necessary evil.)

The major thing I don’t like? Having to reject people.

Yeah, I was surprised too. I thought I was much more of a sadist than I apparently am. (Arguably because I don’t know the people on the other end…) There are some rejections that don’t bother me in the least. If you send me crap work, or just plain offensive things under the flag of “being different” or “punk” then boom, here’s my form letter.

But when stories are really good and I don’t have a place for them? It hurts. I want to hold onto those stories because I will have a place. I will! Just as soon as we finish creating it. They’re like favorite teddy bears that I want to hug close to me and keep forever because if I release them *some other editor who is not me* will get them. I am happy to be selfish. (Also, note to writers, sometimes not hearing back from us? That’s a *very* good thing because it might mean that we’re arguing about where it will go, or if it will look nice in that shiny mythical project we haven’t started yet. It can also mean that we’re overwhelmed by things like the holidays, but there’s hope.)

There are things I send that certainly will feel like form rejections to the author on the other side. They’re very simple and say something like “we won’t be accepting” without any sort of feedback. Please be aware, those are all hand-typed. I personalized it just for you. It wasn’t a plug and play response. Sometimes, I get to toss in a little positive reinforcement or a special thing we liked. Other times, it means that there was nothing necessarily wrong, but we don’t have a place for the story.

If we see a spark in a story? Oh, heck yes, we will be willing to work with the author. We’ve sent back edit letters on stories. We’ve sent writing advice. We’ve even begged people to write the books which the stories so desperately hint at. (And I am crossing my fingers that some of those authors *do* take our advice and send us back some stories.)

But the migraines? Those come from the stress of telling people no. I have been (and still am) on the other side of that equation. I have received form rejections. I have received positive feedback. I have also had stories disappear never to be heard from again. Every time I send out a response that doesn’t have something beyond the basic “no thanks” my heart dies a little bit. I want to be able to make everyone get a personalized answer, but I just can’t do it.

Some nights, all I can do is clean out the “to be sent” folder until my eyes hurt and my brain tries to escape through my ears.

The millipedes in the title? That would be the slush pile of a thousand stories, authors, and decisions. It’s big. It’s a little scary. And sometimes, it’s painted a bright happy pink.

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Finding Reviewers

Publisher’s Weekly recently had a post on the different types of reviews. It was ostensibly a guide for self-published authors, but I think it’s something that authors working with small presses needs to look at as well.

It details the types of reviews that exist: Free, paid, and customer. It also sets out a plan for getting reviews.

The guideline for marketing and creating a database is excellent. It reflects the marketing ideas that we’ve been working to create at GFP. Didn’t happen with our first novel production, but that isn’t the end of the world. There’s no reason to not reach out after the novel is published as well. Some reviewers will only review new books, but many of my personal favorites review books that are several years old as well as new books.

As always, your mileage may vary, but it’s worth the read.

Check it out here

Spelunking

A writer I know suggested, when I was wondering around looking for something to write about for today, that I talk about Ellora’s Cave. And initially I was a little reluctant, for reasons. Not the least of which being there’s a whole lot of…not-logical going around with that.

But I’ve been willing in the past to tackle some really strange and sort of controversial topics, so I might as well grab this one.

I’m not going to talk about the whole…situation where literally everything I have ever heard about Ellora’s Cave has been about how it’s circling the porcelain throne. I will mention you probably don’t have to go looking far, especially in the romance writing community, to hear all the gory details. They are many and varied.

The prevalent point at this moment, at least to me, is the gargantuan number of writers who are fleeing like rats from a burning ship. I’m interested to see what’s going to happen, to the erotica and erotic romance market in the ripples from that. There’s no question that Ellora’s Cave is a behemoth in the publishing industry. And the fact there are so many writers who are fighting so hard to get their rights and their work back from a publisher they no longer want to have to deal with.

That’s an insane thing to happen in a relatively insular market. It’s going to cast some kind of long-reaching shadow. And for so many authors, both those just joining the business and those who are fighting so hard to get their rights back from Ellora’s Cave and other publishers.

I don’t have answers for any of that. Just more questions.

And a note, if you happen to be one of those people who’s just got their rights back, Golden Fleece Press will be launching an Erotica and Erotic Romance line in February…

Cognitive Dissonance

It’s a Jules week on here Art of Procrastination, and we’re going to talk about Cognitive Dissonance.

More expressly, Dissonant Relationships.

Dissonant Relationships are when you know something is bad, but you do it anyway. “Alcohol is bad, and I should not drink,” followed by you going to the club with a friend and getting roaringly drunk. Or, conversely, when I know all of the deadlines I have coming down the pipes soon, especially with the holiday season looming ever nearer, and I start watching the entirety of Crash Course: World History.

On of the things that makes procrastination an art-form is knowing when to stop. I haven’t figured that out yet. I mean I’ve gotten it down to when I have severe, promotional engagements or deadlines that can’t be avoided. As a writer I do a probably better than average job of making my deadlines. I try to do the same as a publisher (although that always gets a little more play because it can).

But I have kind of a radical thing, with Dissonant Relationships and procrastination. I don’t actually see it as a bad thing. Sure, if taken to an extreme. If I sit and play around and watch John Green be adorable and mess around with yarn to the point where I miss my professional, or quasi-professional commitments.

The flip side of that is an acceptance of how hard I work, how hard most of the writers and artists and bloggers and creative people I know work. Even when–especially when–it doesn’t look like work and the entire world thinks we’re just screwing around. I deserve a minute to watch a grown man electrocute himself with a writing utensil because he doesn’t know who wrote some obscure historical document.

And so do you. So go, find something ridiculous to do, and take a minute for yourself.

And then get your butt back to work.

5 Holiday Gifts for your pet writer

Okay, it’s that time of year. Time to start tearing your hair out because you have no idea what to get that quiet, introverted, book geek in your life.

Have no fear! We have you covered.

1) writersblock You can pick up this writer’s block so that your writer is now always telling the truth about having it. Or, s/he can smack themselves in the head to remind themselves to sit down in the bloody chair and try to get something done today. Besides, it makes an excellent paperweight to keep all of those rejection letters under. Well, for those three or four places which actually still send paper rejections. Available from Etsy.

 

b6e6_butterfly_knife_styled_pen_anim_black2) Every writer needs a quick deploy version of their weapon of choice. So, I present to you, the butterfly-knife pen. S/he can quickly whip out this little beauty when s/he needs to jot down a few notes, or start that brand new story starring you as the main character about to meet his/her true love and tragically not notice until five chapters later. Available from ThinkGeek.

 

punctuationbookends3) Grab your writer this set of punctuation bookends to put his/her published work between and show off proudly on his/her desk. S/he will be pleased that you’ve recognized the grammar geek hiding in his/her heart. And, if s/he’s like many writers, s/he always needs another place to store his/her books because they are attempting to drown your writer in words. Available from B&N.

 

classic-notebook-pocket-ruled-hard-cover-black-fullsize-14) Moleskin notebooks are some of the best on the market. They have many sizes, including the ones which fit perfectly into a purse or a pocket. These will go nicely with the butterfly-knife pen above. Available here.

 

hemingwrite5) The Hemingwrite is a little more out there. It’s funded on Kickstarter, so that’s a step in the right direction, but there’s never any guarantee that a Kickstarter project will actually occur. Still, a cloud-storage, anti-distraction, portable writing device is a great idea. It won’t be there on Christmas, but you could tape a picture of it inside of a portable typewriter case… or something… On Kickstarter here.

 

Limbo and You

Not everything in this business is under the control of the principals. JM and I do not have control over whether or not our books show up on sites. We really don’t. We have a distribution agreement. So, the files are under review.

They’ve been under review for almost a month now.

For validation.

Amazon? 24 hours and you’re validated and moving forward. It hurts my little, black, shriveled soul to say positive things about a company that I don’t trust in the least. (Or rather, I trust it to always have its own best interests at heart. Those interests and mine may or may not coincide.)

But right now, major distribution company? I am being forced to compare you unfavorably to Amazon. This is *not* how you want your user base to react. You are making me and my company look bad. And you are charging me money for this service. Right now? I despise you.

I don’t have a huge number of anger triggers. My number one trigger? Incompetence. I hate it when people do not do what they are supposedly hired to do. If I hire a plumber, I expect that the pipes he put in will not leak. When I hire a carpenter, the box better not fall apart. When I hire a distribution company, they better actually distribute the god damned books.

*deep breath*

So, lessons learned: Give the distribution company an extra-long time to do their thing. They are useful, but not swift, nor are they efficient.

This first book has been an excellent learning tool. I’m learning about distribution. JM is learning about file creation. We’re both learning that everything is just a little more expensive than it was during our research phase because no one tells you everything you need to know in this business. (Cut throat, shark infested, welcoming, and swamped. The book business is like the antiques business. Friendliness is encouraged, but you must at all times look out for your own interests. Nicest people you ever want to meet unless you’re in the middle of a deal and then all bets are off. We all love the same things, but it’s a very competitive business. Huh… and I used to think that the HP fans in my life were blowing smoke when they sorted me into Slytherin. *grins*)

The thing is, no matter how much I kvetch? I still love it. I love creating the content. I love reading the slush. (look for our new page: quotes from the slush read) I even love arguing about what contracts say.

Non, je ne regrette rien.

Cross-posted to BitterSuites

Getting Started

Mark Twain famously said “The secret to getting ahead is getting started.”

We’ll just pretend I’ve said the standard caveat to any quote by any famous person ever not caught on video (and even a few that are).

Sometimes life conspires to remind me, vividly, painfully, that we’re still starting. Files spin uselessly in the apparent purgatory of ‘validation’–which is a whole level of irony I’m not touching. The slush piles grows and grows but not always in the ways we want it to, and I’m not even hinting at skill so much as type. People ask me questions about a contract I wrote and I don’t immediately know the answers.

Sometimes those reminders aren’t quite so likely to make me run for my happy cave. I get to foster people who have new, interesting ideas. I get to dive into different kinds of layout, and new splashy fun graphic-y things.

Sometimes I get to crawl up on my soap-box du jour and pitch a thing. Which I’m going to do now, and probably badly. Just so you’ve been warned.

We made a conscious, intentional choice not to seek any form of advertising when it was time to publish Wee Tales. We pushed for pre-sales and other options because it was a publication for children and I have a children and I have a soul. Anyone who has spent any amount of time with a small child can tell you chill-inducing stories about the things they’ve been asked for because a four year old saw an ad for it.

But our next publication, Refractions, is a different animal entirely. Refractions is a journal aimed at teen and young adult readers, and that makes the concept of selling ads a tiny bit more palatable. A tiny tiny bit. I am a child of flaming liberals and sometimes bowing to the whims of the capitalist machine makes me distinctly uncomfortable.

The answer to this? We’re selling ad space, but we’re selling ad space for books. So if you, or someone you know, writes books for the YA market have them drop us a line to hear about our plans for this (pricing, space, extra goodies that come with helping us get this thing off the ground).