Archives for 5 May 2012

Panning for mica

J. A. Konrath wrote an ebook called The Newbie’s Guide to Publishing, chock-full of good advice when written; but alas, it is two years old now, and a geological era out of date. I don’t want to make a bad example of Mr. Konrath, who has done a beautiful job of keeping up with the times; his blog remains a valuable source of information and insight. But I want to quote this from the Newbie’s Guide, because it contains an important truth about the traditional publishing business, and a cardinal fallacy about salable fiction:

Consider the agent, going through 300 manuscripts in the slush pile that have accumulated over the last month.

She’s not looking to help writers. She’s panning for gold. And to do that, you have to sift through dirt. It might be some very good dirt she’s dismissing. But it is still dirt.

Be the gold.

The best way to get published, or to win a contest, is to shine. Don’t be mistaken for dirt. Don’t do anything that lets them reject you — because they’re looking to reject you unless you can show them you’re brilliant.

This all sounds very well, but in practice it has a terrible flaw. Mark Twain knew what that flaw was. He learnt it the hard way, and wrote about it in Roughing It: [Read more…]

Some thoughts on ebook pricing

There has been much hollering and handwringing on all sides of the argument about ebook pricing. Traditional publishers claim that printing and distribution are a small part of their costs, and therefore, that ebooks must be priced as high as print books to make money. On the other side, independent writers and a lot of consumers point out that the marginal cost to produce an ebook is approximately zero, so ebooks should be tremendously cheap. The third side points out that retail prices are a matter of supply and demand, and have nothing to do with the cost of production as such.

All three sides are wrong, or at least incomplete. [Read more…]