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message 1: by Carl (new)

Carl Brookins (carlw) | 23 comments Here's a flash for all the agents, publishers, editors and top gun talk show hosts
out there. You want pathos, humor, murder, high and low emotion; you want all the
activities and actions the human race is able to conceive and perpetrate? Come find
us, we are legion, we are competent and we'll twang your heart strings. And we have
another enduring characteristic.

We'll tell you right up front that our stories are fiction. We don't lie about that.
Not ever.

message 2: by S.A. (new)

S.A. (suerule) | 12 comments But is anyone listening, Carl?

message 3: by Carl (new)

Carl Brookins (carlw) | 23 comments apparently not!

message 4: by S.A. (new)

S.A. (suerule) | 12 comments How do we persuade them that they want to listen?

For what it's worth, I observe that collective action is generally more effective than individual action.

message 5: by Elena Dorothy (new)

Elena Dorothy (elenadb) | 1 comments Hi, Everyone!

Preditors and Editors Poll

My third book, Adams Point, of the Legacy Series is in the Pred & Ed. poll under Mystery at:
My second book, The Telepaths of Theon, of the Sarah's Landing Series is in the Pred & Ed. poll under Science Fiction.
The second book, The Gatekeeper's Realm, of the Legacy Series is in Pred & Ed under Science Fiction at:
Voting is now in progress and will continue through January 14, 2009. Would appreciate any of you taking a moment of your time, if possible, to vote for any of my novels. To do so, please click on the circle beside the name of the novel and enter your name and address.

Thank you and wishing all a wonderful and Joyful New Year.

Elena Dorothy Bowman
Journey to the Rim of Space and Beyond

message 6: by Carl (new)

Carl Brookins (carlw) | 23 comments No question collective action is usually more effective. It's one of the reasons labor unions were started. Most writers are of independent mind, consider themselves artists or craftspeople and are in truth, running their own small business. They rarely bond together to create a greater presence because it means losing a certain measure of independence. Can't blame them, many authors are successful on their own if lonely road.

It's why nine years ago I joined a group we call The Minnesota Crime Wave, three crime fiction writers who run a joint partnership involving appearances, tours, publicity, and even successful book publishing. If you want more details, visit our web site,

message 7: by Chester (new)

Chester | 10 comments You're doing a great job with the Crime Wave, Carl. I wasn't aware you'd lost one of your members. I'll have to correct my link.

I've seen some mentions of starting an organization of small press authors. I'm about organized out, but maybe it could help. I wish we could do something about the stigma attached to small presses that print by the POD method. I've done lots of Barnes & Noble signings but had one CRM tell me, "I can't do but three POD signings a year, and I've already done them." It was a store where I had sold 20 books my last time there. Ridiculous.

message 8: by S.A. (new)

S.A. (suerule) | 12 comments It would make more sense if I understood why people get so offended at being asked to judge a book on the merits of its writing rather than whether or not a commercial publisher thought they could sell a zillion copies.

It's a most peculiar form of snobbishness. Are people incapable of making up their own minds? Do they really want to be told what they'll like and what they won't like?

I'm hoping to form a group of local authors in South East England to do the sort of thing Carl's Crime Wave seem to be doing (only not all crime-focused).

message 9: by Carl (new)

Carl Brookins (carlw) | 23 comments I'll be happy to consult!
even on site.

message 10: by John (new)

John Karr (karr) | 5 comments S.A. wrote: "It would make more sense if I understood why people get so offended at being asked to judge a book on the merits of its writing rather than whether or not a commercial publisher thought they could ..."

Incapable of making up their own minds ... to a degree. Why else do publishers insist on putting in reviews and author endorsements, which really just irritate me as a reader.

There's so many of them that it's refreshing to pick up a novel that isn't so well known so the pump-up chaff isn't splashed over the first five pages.

message 11: by Carl (new)

Carl Brookins (carlw) | 23 comments It's standard belief by publicity people that, as with film and television, reviews and comments by well-known authors and review pubs, attract readers to books. It works, or it wouldn't be so persistent and long standing.
It is also axiomatic from authors that such reviews and comments (blurbs) are generally a waste of time and resources and do little to sell books. Personally, I subscribe to Sam Wannamaker's quip, he of the department store chain, "half of all we spend on advertising and promotion is a total waste. Problem is we don't know which half.

Several intensive and extensive surveys have shown that word of mouth is the most potent sales tool for books. But the question is, where does that word of mouth come from? It has to come from somewhere. Advertising? blurbs? all of the above?

message 12: by S.A. (new)

S.A. (suerule) | 12 comments And nothing sells itself no matter how good it is.

I am a musician as well as an author - when I write a new song, I sing it and know from the response of the audience whether they like it or not. It's instant. You have to buy and read a book before you know if it's (a) any good or (b) you're going to like it.

Reviews and endorsements give you some indication how good other people think a book is. So then you've only got one unknown - will YOU like it!

But of course, the reviews and endorsements are dishonest. They exclude a huge mass of new books because of the means by which those books are published. So readers still can't tell which of this mass of independently published material is any good.

This is why I believe the current snobbishness, prejudice and sheer lack of entrepreneurship in the publishing industry and literary establishment does readers a disservice as well as writers. It fails to encourage and nurture new talent. It fails to teach talented newcomers the craft. It turns the book world into a three-ring-circus where the celebrity value of the author matters more than the quality of the book they have written.

And it ends up stuffing bookshops with cookery books and political memoirs.

Writing is something writers do, not something we choose to do. Publishing is the means by which we communicate the ideas and stories in our heads to others.

message 13: by Chester (new)

Chester | 10 comments The way I look at reviews is they give me a feel for how well my book stacks up with all those other books reviewers are reading. Since fiction tastes are so subjective, you know everybody won't like what you write. You can expect some unenthusiastic responses, but if most of them are good, you feel validated. I have doubts about the value of back cover blurbs, but if a reader sees one without any, he may think the story isn't good enough for anyone to blurb it.

With so many newspapers discontinuing book reviews or only picking them up from other sources, the online review sites are what most of us go for. My ARCs go to the biggies (PW, Library Journal, Booklist, etc.), but if I get one out of that I'm lucky.

Like Carl said, word of mouth is the biggest source of sales, but it's tough for a little guy to get a lot of that.

message 14: by Carl (new)

Carl Brookins (carlw) | 23 comments I agree with everything you say, SA in your last message except one thing. It simply isn't true that reviews and endorsements are false. Some few are, but most authors have sufficient integrity they don't endorse or blurb books they feel are below their standards of acceptbility.

message 15: by S.A. (new)

S.A. (suerule) | 12 comments i stand corrected. False is the wrong word - there is nothing dishonest about the opinion expressed in author reviews and endorsements.

The problem is that there isn't an open system of professional reviewers available that independently published authors can access. How much weight does one independent author reviewing another's work carry?

Perhaps all this is just sour grapes by a writer who hasn't done the legwork to find the channels available (and isn't likely to since I remain an amateur for the foreseeable future and I need to focus on the day job to pay the bills.)

message 16: by Carl (new)

Carl Brookins (carlw) | 23 comments Of all the reviewers with whom I am acquainted (less than hundreds, more than a score)only a handful do not consider independently published works. That may depend on how you define independently published. There are more than a few websites that routinely carry reviews of all sorts of work. But you do have to winkle them out.

message 17: by Werner (new)

Werner I agree with the previous writers on this thread that the snobbish attitudes of today's big corporate publishers, who virtually close the door to new writers and only want to market McLit that they think will bring them big bucks, is a major disservice to both writers and readers. But I don't think the self-publishing or vanity press route is the answer. As a reader and a librarian, I've read some perfectly awful books published that way, so I understand why the prejudice exists. Of course not every self-published book is crap, and some are very good --but there's no quality control with that process, and the consumers know it, so they've got a right to be wary. If a book is published by a firm that makes money only if it sells, we know that the manuscript was subjected to some unbiased judgment as to whether readers would like it. (And yes, granted, sometimes that judgment can be wrong; legitimate publishers can print crap, too, but at least there's some checks built into the process.) And the traditional publishing route is helpful to us as writers in another way: those publishers want the book to be the best it can be, so they give helpful editorial suggestions that can make your manuscript into a better book than it would have been otherwise. (I had that experience myself.) A vanity press doesn't do that --or help market the book.

IMO, the small traditional press offers the best venue for new or less well-known writers; and the advent of POD technology makes that business model much more attractive than it once was. Yes, there's also a lot of prejudice against small press books (mainly because librarians and readers who haven't heard of a particular firm often don't know whether or not it's a vanity press!) and against POD; but it isn't as intense as the prejudice against self- published work. (And I expect that POD will eventually be adopted throughout the publishing industry, as its practical advantages for the bottom line become more widely recognized by the rising, computer-savvy generation of managers.)

We still have the question of how, as readers, to learn about good books --and that's where unbiased reviews come in. That's why a site like Goodreads is the best thing to come down the pike in a long time --even if your small publisher can't afford to send out many review copies (mine sent out three, which resulted in one review), here you can connect with, and get impartial reviews from, numbers of readers --whose opinions are read by other enthusiastic readers. And it doesn't cost you mega- bucks!

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