Saturday, November 11, 2006

Oy, the Questions! (Part III)

And yet a few more of the KSU students' queries --

Question from D.L. -- What do you like least about the current trends in the publishing industry?

I can't say I'm that fond of the trend toward not nuturing new authors. 10+ years ago, an author was given the opportunity to grow their readership over five books or so. Now you're not given that much space. The competition is very fierce. You have to 'make your numbers' or you're out on your thesaurus. Often newer writers don't hit their stride until readers find them and then tell their friends about the wonderful stories they'd just enjoyed. By that time, they're gone. Unfortunately, publishing has changed in response to the Big Box stores. They're looking for the next 'big hit'. That tends to be very hard on new writers coming up through the ranks. The chances of 'making it big' are greatly reduced.

And another from D.L. -- What do you feel about e-publishing?

Considering the waste in print books, I think e-books are a great option.The issue has been how to get the e-books into the readers' hands in a way that they'll find them easy to read. For me, sitting in front of the computer for hours on end holds no fascination. That's my day job. Work continues toward a well designed handheld device that will encourage folks to read e-books. They're making progress. Some niche markets have done really well in e-pub (Ellora's Cave's erotica, for example.)

I prefer a printed book, but if they come up with a decent reader, I'll go with it. I do know that SOJOURN has done very well as an e-book as the price is a lot lower than the print version. That allows readers the option of sampling my work for less than $9. If they like what they read, they can buy the print version or wait for the next book to come out in electronic format.

And this from C.H. -- Who do you think is an overrated writer?

You do want to get me burned at the stake, don't you? Since it is likely that some day this answer might come back to haunt me, I'll generalize. (You never know who you'll be sitting next to at a convention. I can just hear the writer guest of honor mutter, "Jana Oliver? Hey, you're the (expletive deleted) bozo who said my writing was lame."

Yes, C.H., there are overrated authors. Lots of them, just as there are underrated ones. I am not fond of authors who pad their books to make word count and who consider their readers 'stupid' (yes, there are some out there who make less than pleasant comments about the intellience of their readers without realizing that this actually reflects on them as well). I can't stand lame mysteries where I can figure out who the bad guy is on page 2. I get grumpy about authors who waltz a character in for a paragraph or two and then you never see them again. I'm okay if you're laying groundwork for another book in the series, but for heaven's sake be subtle about it!

One final comment on overrated authors. There are those authors who overrate themselves. These are the one that feel that they walk on water. I've seen it in bigger name authors and in those who have just self-pubbed their first book. Expecting to sit as an equal amongst the betters in your industry is not a right, it's a privilege. You have to earn it and it takes a LONG time. Even then, there will be someone infinitely better than you.


M.G. said...

Thank you much for answering our questions! I know between being busy for NaNoWriMo and the rest of your life it was difficult to come out and speak to us. Once again, thank you for everything! Oh, and I think you officially turned me off to ever writing a book just because of all the other work involved...I know, I'm lazy... Maybe one day, when I have a better story to tell... :P

Jana Oliver said...

I got a bit bogged down with NaNoWriMo and need to post the rest of the questions (bad, bad author).

RE: Turning you off to ever writing a book --

No, no! You gotta write if you feel the need. How do you know the story you have to tell isn't just fabulous? Lots of folks let that little internal critics chop them down to size before they've even written the first word. When that fellow starts bugging me, I mentally open the front door and toss him out to the curb. Or run him down the garbage disposal. (As you can see, an active imagination is a good thing). Of course, he always returns, but I keep chucking him out. Doubt is healthy, but not when it keeps you from achieving your dreams.

CH said...

Jana, your answer couldn't have been more well put. I know it's never good to burn bridges, like you said that person could be sitting next to you one day. And that wouldn't be such a good thing. The reason behind my question you sorta answered. I read a lot of James Patterson books and have been turned on, by other people, to other similar authors as well. After researching a certain authors website I felt all they were doing was plugging themselves everywhere they could, self-indulgence type rhetoric if you know what I mean. I guess some people put their material over others, while others put out there material for others to enjoy. That make sense?

CH said...

although, I know it is an authors duty to get the word out on his or her material, but what I really meant is that while most authors start writing out of passion, there are some authors that write a first great book, make some money, attract a fan base, and then fall off in future releases just b/c they have the fan base to buy the book, and know it will sell.

Jana Oliver said...

There's a fine line between promoting yourself and being a PIA. I usually find ego problems in authors low on the chain, but there are beauties at the top, as well.

As for having a fan base -- that's a blessing that can easily turn on you. With Amazon and blogs and message boards, if you diss your readers they'll bite you right in the behind. And you'll deserve it. It used to take longer for the 'word' to get out. Not anymore. Authors live and die by the Internet.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the comments made on c.h.'s question.I guess you have PIA in all different fields. I would expect more so in writing as well as the art world. I can amagine that in those two arenas that some egos would be of the scale.LOL

DL said...

Tyra was telling us about a great new product out by Sony for E-Books. I am sure this will continue to be a growing trend in the future.

For new authors - it is said how the industry gets so caught up in the numbers game. It seems that a lot of good authors can get lost in the numbers game. This really hurts the industry in a loss of potential good quality work.

Thank you for everything you have contributed to our class at KSU - we cannot thank you enough for your kindness and wealth of knowledge.

C.Harn said...

I think there are a ton of writers who are underrated. There are some many authors who are good but get too much credit. I thik so people are just in for the money once they get big and forget about the art behind writing.