Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Next Big Thing

Fellow Inkbot and excellent writer Emma Maree Urquhart tagged me on the Next Big Thing. I've actually done it before, or a version of it, but it's been a long time and I'm now working on a new project (as usual).

In fact, I'm working on two. I started some serious research for a YA steampunk story at the beginning of the year, and I've started writing it. But that's not the project I'm about to discuss.

What is the working title of your book?

The Adventures of Lizzy and Jo, Air Pirates

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I never write short stories. I just don't. But another Inkbot, Rob Haines, gave our group a heads-up on a new anthology series from UK publisher Fox Spirit, and I got interested in writing a steampunk story for the pirate-themed anthology. I already had the world built for my YA WIP. Suddenly I not only had an idea, I had two main characters, a setting, backstory for both, and a burning need to write about them. Oh, and here's the table of contents for the Pirates "Fox Pockets" anthology. My story's called "Skyway."

What genre does your book fall under?

Steampunk fantasy, short story collection

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I don't know anything about actors. I know exactly what my two main characters look like, though. Let me do a search.

Okay, here's Pia Glenn, who is so elegant-looking that I know she'd make a good Jo.

And Lizzy, hell. She just looks like Joan Jett.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Former highwayman Lizzy and runaway bride Jo take to the skies in a stolen airship in search of adventure, loot, and new lives.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Since this will be a short story collection, most of the stories will be published in various anthologies and magazines over the next few years.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I've written three stories in about six weeks and don't want to stop.

What other books would you compare this story to in your genre?

I'm still reading my way (increasingly obsessively) through the steampunk genre, and so far I've been discouraged by the lack of fun I've found. Steampunk is fun; it's inventive; it's enthusiastic about the cool stuff from the past while jettisoning the bad stuff or dealing with it in a more modern way. So why are so many steampunk books gritty grimdark terrible things are happening and we have no sense of humor? I'm sure there are books out there like the one I'm writing. I can't wait to find them.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

When you immerse yourself in a genre that's also a growing cultural movement (and yeah, I do think it is), you get sucked in. I always thought steampunk was cool. Now...well, I don't own a pair of goggles yet, but it's becoming more and more likely.

Tag Time!

I'll take a cue from Emma Maree and just tag all the Inkbots. Because I'm lazy that way.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Not how giveaways work

Every so often I list a giveaway on Goodreads for one of my books. I figure it's worth it even if it only bumps my sales by single digits (which seems to be the case). I usually get between 1,000 and 1,400 entries to each giveaway, with around 1/3 of people entering also listing the book as "to read." After each giveaway is completed, Goodreads sends me the winner's name and address and I inscribe the book, tuck a bookmark in the front, wrap it up, and mail it. Over the next few weeks a percentage of the people who listed the book as "to read" will delete it, which doesn't bother me. Sometimes the winner of the book will review it, usually they don't. That doesn't bother me either.

Here are some things that bother me.

Person A enters the giveaway, lists my book as "to read," and gives it a five-star rating. Now don't get me wrong, I love it when someone gives one of my books five stars. But I get uncomfortable when I'm 99% sure that the rater hasn't read the book. I suspect the five-star raters think that I'm the one who picks the giveaway winners and they're trying to influence me to pick them. Goodreads picks the winners and it's done by computer.

Person B enters the giveaway but doesn't win. They then give my book a one-star rating.

Sometimes Person A and Person B are the same person.

Person C enters the giveaway, doesn't win, and sends me a message asking for a copy of the book. Sometimes they friend me first, which makes this extra awkward.

Here's the thing, Person C. Writing a book takes a long time, and revising and editing it take even longer. I know I'm not a big-name writer. My publishers are small, my books are not on the shelves of brick-and-mortar stores, and even avid readers of fantasy most likely won't have heard of me. But that doesn't mean I don't work very hard at my craft. It doesn't mean my publishers and editors and cover artists etc. don't work very hard at what they do too. When one of my books is released, we all have bright hopes that people will find it, buy it, read it, like it, and give it five star ratings and reviews all over the place.

So why do you think I should just give you a free copy?

Sometimes Person C is a book blogger who wants a free copy (or two, or three, or seven--I'm not making this up). Those folks I refer to the book's publisher, who can evaluate the request and decide whether to send a review copy.

More often Person C just really wants the book and figures I gave one copy away, I probably have stacks of them lying around and it won't hurt me to give them one. After all, they're going to review it! And tell all their friends about it!

But I don't have stacks of my books lying around. My books are mostly published in ebook editions, with print-on-demand copies available. Sometimes I'm sent hardcopies by the publisher, sometimes I'm not. If I'm not, I buy a copy or two myself for giveaways (Goodreads giveaways are only for print copies of books). It's not cheap, nor is the packaging and postage cheap.I don't make a lot of money from my writing. I can't afford to give a copy away to anyone who asks.

Do you really, really, really want to read my books? Please do me and my publishers a favor. Buy a copy. They're not expensive. When you buy one of my books you keep my publishers in business and give me a little bit of money to repay me for all the work I put into creating the book for you to read.