Q&A with Rowena Cherry discussion

The Publishing Business > Bombs, Flames, and their effect on authors

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message 1: by Rowena (new)

Rowena (rowenacherry) | 82 comments Mod
I wonder if readers understand what it is like to be a debut or midlist author?

Not to whinge. I'm not thinking about myself. It seems to me that there are a vast number of my colleagues who for one reason or another dare not pop their head over the proverbial parapet for fear of making enemies.

That goes especially for the growing problem of "piracy" and file-"sharing" but also in a smaller way for protesting against ideas that may seem like a huge joke to readers and casual reviewers, but which can really hurt young writers.

One assumption that I see on the pirate loops is that all authors make plenty of money, and that a bit of piracy doesn't hurt them.

In many cases, Robin Hood is robbing those who are poorer... not to mention the taxman. I know of authors whose books are being copied, duplicated, and stolen, and who get so little in royalties that they have to chose between food and medicine. If even a fraction of the copies "shared" as downloads on pirate sites had been purchased, those authors might have made ends meet.

The same probably goes for sell-through. Many small press publishers only take an e-book into print if a certain number of e-books sell.

The same happens with print. If an author does not sell enough copies of the first printing, there may not be a second printing, and there may not be a contract for the next manuscript.

I've seen pirates say that they only steal from bad authors, whose writing is excrement anyway so there's no harm done.

In most cases, an editor bought a book because she loved it and believed that thousands of readers would love it, too. No one can afford to buy a weak book anymore (if they ever did). Publishing is expensive.

If that is true, every book ought to be one person's treasure and another person's waste of a tree.

What do you think?

message 2: by Bryn (new)

Bryn Jane Bled from www.loveyoudivine.com was pirated a few weeks back, hundreds of downloads of her work. I know how much diffeence it would have made to her if people had bought those stories. She's in much the position you describe.

If we want good stories, and creative people making lovely things, we have to be willing to support them. Piracy is the kind of parasite that could easily kill the host.

message 3: by Rowena (new)

Rowena (rowenacherry) | 82 comments Mod
Thank you for the comment, Bryn. I'm sure that regular people would be shocked if they knew what goes on.

message 4: by Rowena (last edited Aug 03, 2009 07:54AM) (new)

Rowena (rowenacherry) | 82 comments Mod
You know, what I don't get is this; if the pirate thinks the book is so lousy, why bother to take the time to steal it or upload it so that other people can steal it? When I don't like a book I've purchased I just delete it.

As far as the bombing ang flaming of authors, I really hate that. I do reviews at a couple of sites and, even in my harshest review, I tried to find something good about each book. Only once was a book so bad that I sent it back to the site, explaining that I did not feel that I could give it a good review, they offered it to someone else to review. Personally I've never given less than a 3 on a review, which generally means good, but needed some more editing, and gave praise along with constructive criticism. With newer or debut authors I try to emphasise the good points while pointing out where it needed work. They'll never grow as writers if all they hear are all bad or all good things.


message 5: by Ann (new)

Ann Marr (ann_tracy_marr) | 1 comments Amen to all. Add in publishers who take a "relaxed" view of their stable of authors. It takes a brave soul to become an author.

Ann Tracy Marr

message 6: by Jaime (new)

Jaime There something I wonder if these pirates understand. Of my, what? Three releases? The two best earners, from a very small press, have been pirated. We've done everything we can to get them taken down (My publisher, and I) and they're still there. How many hits like this can small pubs take before they have to close their doors? Pirate enough books from these small places, and there will be no more books being published, and no more books to steal. It's heartbreaking to know the hard work authors and publishers do to bring these stories to life is worth so little to the people who would just take them.

message 7: by Rowena (new)

Rowena (rowenacherry) | 82 comments Mod
Hi, Valerie,

Thank you so much for your posting. I have no idea why my face, not yours, showed up as the atavar for your reply.

I apologize for the glitch. Perhaps we were both online at the same time and confused the system. Where do you review?

Your policy sounds eminently professional, and I'm sure all authors appreciate that.

Sadly, even with an e-book, it costs at least $100 to re-upload a corrected file to fix a typo or anything of the sort, so mostly, once an error gets by the copy-editor/proof-reader, it is there for ever.

Rowena wrote: "You know, what I don't get is this; if the pirate thinks the book is so lousy, why bother to take the time to steal it or upload it so that other people can steal it? When I don't like a book I've..."

message 8: by Rowena (new)

Rowena (rowenacherry) | 82 comments Mod
Thank you for speaking up, Ann and Jaime.

I was watching Squawk Box on CNBC this morning. They were talking with an impressario (I think) representing musicians.

His attitude as regards music piracy was: "It's fine. It's a new world. Musicians make their money from touring and T-shirts."

Um. Fine for musicians, I grumped to myself. Authors don't get paid to do book tours, nor to read their books aloud on the radio. Moreover, we cannot sell T-shirts because we don't have the necessary copyright from the photographers and cover models and cover artists.


message 9: by Pauline (new)

Pauline (paulinebairdjones) | 2 comments What's amazing is that most of these people would never go into someone's home uninvited and take even a drink of milk or a cookie. And if someone asked them to provide their work for free, would point out (rightly) that they need to be paid to survive.

Grump away Rowena. I know I'd like to keep writing. And hope you can, too!

message 10: by Valerie (new)

Valerie Oakley | 1 comments Not sure why the glitch, but I couldn't get it corrected so I just edited it to sign my name. Hopefully it's fixed now.

I've been reviewing for Manic Readers for more than a year, and I just started doing reviews for Night Owl Romance Reviews.

I'm also an aspiring author, I just need to work up a little more confidence and send out some inquiries. I try to be fair especially to the newer authors, they're kind of like toddlers just learning to walk. Sometimes they need a little support and encouragement. After all Stephen King, Anne Rice and Nora Roberts didn't make it big overnight and if you read their early work it is in a much different voice than their more recent releases.

message 11: by Rowena (last edited Aug 03, 2009 01:33PM) (new)

Rowena (rowenacherry) | 82 comments Mod

Thank you for your comments and good wishes. Yes, as far as I know, I have no reason to stop.

All the best,
Rowena Cherry

message 12: by Pauline (new)

Pauline (paulinebairdjones) | 2 comments All right! Rock those twins world. **eg**

message 13: by Rowena (new)

Rowena (rowenacherry) | 82 comments Mod
Hi, Valerie,

Manic is a great group!
Good luck with the submissions.

Best wishes,

message 14: by Miss (new)

Miss Mae | 1 comments I'd like to comment on the pirates that think authors make wads of money except that I'm rolling on the floor laughing so hard.

Let me see...an ebook sells anywhere from $3, $2, or even .99 cents. An author gets 30% royalty from that. Okay, 30% of $3 is what? Less than a dollar, and 30% of 99 cents is...um...hey, not enough to buy a postage stamp!

Boy, I had no idea I was so rich.

message 15: by Rowena (new)

Rowena (rowenacherry) | 82 comments Mod
Rowena, a great post. I'll try not to be too long winded here.

Badmouthing or flaming a new author can be devastating. Even a harsh review can take the wind out of their sales. I've been doing this for a number of years now, but I'll always remember the courage it took to send in my first submission. I thought I'd simply die of fright, insecurity, sure no one could possibly want the sludge I'd written. I was a mess for days, weeks. It took three weeks to get a reply. Can you imagine how horrible it would be if you went to work and were terrified like that?

If someone had belittled me then, I'm sure I'd never have subbed again. As it was, I got my first review and it was horrendous. The reviewer wasn't happy simply trashing the book, which in all honesty did need some work, but she tore a strip off me for writing it. I very nearly stopped writing then. I cried for days. Every time I sat and tried to write, those words came back to me and I just couldn't do it.

New authors may be strong and brave and gung ho for everything. Some of them. Others are incredibly sensitive and shy, and will be crushed if they're 'bombed' What the hell good would that do anyone anyway?

Pirates. I'm in the process, it seems I'm always in this damn process, of trying to get several of my books removed from a couple of their sites. What really irritates me is, anyone can upload a book. But, to get one, or more, removed, you have to prove you own the rights, explain how this pirating is damaging your rights, give your personal information and hop through any number of other hoops these a$$ holes dream up. I've even seen one of them trying to get legal aid to stop the authors from demanding their books be removed.

I'm one of those who depend on my royalties to make ends meet. My husband lost his job in February and has been unable to find work since. Writing is my job. So when I see dozens, hundreds of my books being passed out for free, that means we don't pay a bill or we don't eat well for a day or three. I'm not Stephan King.

Okay, I'll stop now. I've wound myself up enough and I'm sure you've got the idea. LOL

Rowena, Thanks so much for bring this out and allowing us the chance to share out opinions.

Jude Mason

message 16: by Rowena (last edited Aug 04, 2009 01:28PM) (new)

Rowena (rowenacherry) | 82 comments Mod
Who here works for free? Teachers, lawyers, doctors: may I have some freebies from you? Especially you doctors, lawyers, and others who make more in a month than I'll see in a year ... a freebie would be just a drop in the bucket for you, right?

I am one of those authors who has to make the sick, twisted choice between food and medicine. I also struggle to afford school (as an adult, finally working to finish my BA). I do not have the extra for ANY luxuries. Still, I am a writer and there is nothing else in this world I can do and do consistently well, other than write. I cannot afford to give away my writing, beyond short bites.

Those who pirate my books truly are stealing food from my plate.


message 17: by Rowena (new)

Rowena (rowenacherry) | 82 comments Mod
Jude and Lisa,

Thank you so much for your stories, and I do apologize that my own image is usurping your rightful places.

Valerie encountered this issue too, but I thought/hoped the situation had righted itself. Do you think I should complain to the Librarians?

Thank you both for your moving comments about the issues!

All the best,
Rowena Cherry

message 18: by Charlotte (last edited Aug 05, 2009 09:33AM) (new)

Charlotte (windlegends) | 1 comments Actually, the more visible e-publishers charge anywhere from $5 to $8 for an e-book. 30% of that is easy to figure but it's more than $1.00.
Among my seven books at Cerridwen Press, the highest sells for $7.99 and the lowest at $5.95. At Ellora's Cave, I have 38 books and the selling price ranges from $5.99 to $7.99 (anthology royalties are split equally among the authors and is the lowest paying. That usually winds up being less than $1.00). At New Concepts, my 34 books are priced from $3.99 to $6.99. Books at Fictionwise will pay you the least royalty (about .52) but you usually sell so many it makes up the difference.

Even so, no e-book author is getting rich on royalties. The average newbie author with one e-book makes much less than $500 a YEAR. Most mid-list print authors make less than $10,000. Anyone who thinks authors are buying Lincolns and living in $500,000 homes should get a reality check. If all an author has is one or two e-books out there, hasn't built up name recognition yet, and is having the bulk of his or her work stolen by pirates, chances are he or she is barely keeping their heads above water.

message 19: by Rowena (new)

Rowena (rowenacherry) | 82 comments Mod
Thank you for your eye-opening remarks, Charlee!

message 20: by Aithne (new)

Aithne (aithnejarretta) Hi Rowena,

I just wanted to thank you for bringing this topic out into the open so readers can become educated about the truthful lives of authors. Our stories = our art. No one else would expect to give their art away and authors must live like everyone else.

Thanks Rowena. ;o)

message 21: by Rowena (new)

Rowena (rowenacherry) | 82 comments Mod
Thank you for your comments, Aithne It's great to see you here.


message 22: by Aithne (new)

Aithne (aithnejarretta) Rowena,

You are welcome. I don't always comment, but I am always learning from you. lol The information you shared in another venue got me started (and hooked) on Twitter.

I'll say it again. I am always learning from you. ;o)

~ Aithne

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