Thursday, May 12, 2011

Timely warnings and advice to indie authors

Today, a number of great posts have appeared on some of the blogs of my favorite "indie" authors and publishers. Let's start with "success stories" and move along to nuts-and-bolts advice.

First, self-pub guru Joe Konrath hosts a guest post by Brit self-pub phenom Stephen Leather. Leather has "sold more than 250,000 eBooks on Kindle alone since Christmas, almost all of them in the UK." That is simply amazing. But he offers a sobering message that many writers won't want to hear, and should. "The vast majority of self-published eBooks are bad. Worse than bad. Awful. There, I’ve said it." The absence of any "gatekeepers" has allowed anyone to upload amateurish rubbish to Kindles and Nooks, the sort of stuff that would get an "F" in any high school English class (at least, any class that still grades on grammar, punctuation, coherence, etc.). Leather's message? Focus less on marketing, and more on learning the craft of writing. Hear, hear!

Next up, prolific indie author Kristine Kathryn Rusch offers a different cautionary post to writers: a five-alarm emergency warning about the scary changes in publishing that have been occurring in recent months. Drawing upon close examples of parallel changes that have occurred in the movie and recording businesses, she pleads with writers to understand how agents and traditional publishers are trying to reduce them to "indentured servant" status -- if they aren't careful. If you're an author or wannabe author, read this post.

Finally, on a more positive note, highly successful indie publisher Robin Sullivan provides sound advice to authors on how to price their ebooks to reap maximum profitability.

Many indie authors would gain the maximum benefit from this post by postponing their reading of the Rusch and Sullivan pieces, but rereading Leather's several times. I agree with him: Writers should focus primarily on becoming better writers.

UPDATE -- Just for the relief of providing some inspiration in the face of all the preceding warnings, here are profiles of (arguably) the four most prominent and successful superstars of the ebook Self-Publishing Revolution: Amanda Hocking, Barry Eisler, J.A. Konrath, and John Locke. You can only read this and say "Wow!"

Spenser's last case? Apparently not.

Robert B. Parker was a seminal figure in mystery writing. He died suddenly from a heart attack in January 2010 -- appropriately, at his desk, writing. With his passing, we lost a visionary who created a world we loved to visit, and characters we began to think of as friends.

He left behind three manuscripts, two final Spenser tales and a Jesse Stone story. But neither of his two detective heroes will die any time soon, if his estate and publishers have their way. In this fine tribute to the author and his creations, Larry Thornberry tells us, with grave misgivings, that a couple of writers have been enlisted to continue feeding the New York publishing cash cow. Read all about it.