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28 March 2011 @ 03:16 am
Everyone's Talking About E-Publishing By Authors  
I've been seeing a growing buzz about the new self publishing trend: e-books. Unlike the past when vanity publishers ripped you off, you can now self publish in a variety of electronic formats. Some people are doing really well and others, not so much. It turns out that e-publishing is pretty much like regular publishing in that regard. One advantage I do see in self publishing is that you'll never have orphaned books like The Architect of Sleep. That book was the first in a series that the publisher opted not to continue--and won't let go until their rights expire. The author, Steven Boyett, was plunged into limbo and had to keep explaining to eager fans why the story was stalled on a cliffhanger. http://www.steveboy.com/biblio.html

Another series I've been reading stalled on book 4 and the publisher is noncommittal about book 5 even though a movie is in the works for book 1.

So at least a writer wouldn't be stuck with that hell. Or with being pressured to accept the kinds of slinky scantily clad females on book covers that are all the rage now.

But taking on everything a publisher does is a lot for most introverted writers to handle. And how much future writing can you get done when you're busy handling all of the marketing tasks for the current one(s)?

Here are a variety of perspectives on self publishing, keeping in mind that writers may choose it for different reasons.

Successful self-publisher Amanda Hocking has a few things to say about e-publishing.

An agent talks about winning the publishing lottery being the same with either self publishing or traditional publishing.

Roxane Gay, writer and professor, has still another view of self publishing, one that's ruffled a few feathers.

[One of those feathers belonging to Nick Mamatas, resulting in an exchange between the two. Nick is himself an author and teaches writing classes. (As an aside, he was one of the early reporters of the Cooks Source plagiarism scandal.)]

Roxane followed up her original post with a guest post about self publishing by Mary Maddox.

This dialog between writers Barry Eisler and Joe Konrath is being linked to in several of the posts about self-publishing.

I think that in certain contexts, e-publishing is great for novella length works if you are already publishing traditionally and building a name for yourself. In that vein, author Sarah Katherine Lewis (Indecent, Sex and Bacon) recently published her snarky and insightful rehab diary in .pdf format which can be converted for Kindle and other e-formats. I recommend it and will be reviewing it soon.

I suspect that an industry will grow up around e-publishing that caters to authors looking to farm out some of the marketing and other tasks associated with it. The more best-sellers that arise out of e-publishing, the more it will be taken seriously.

By the way, if you're thinking about e-publishing, Ms. Lewis, mentioned above, is also an editor. You can contact her via her website.

Calibre e-book management was recommended to me for converting to various e-book formats, including those used on readers like Kindle.

ETA: http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2011/03/self-publishing-vs-traditional.html









ETA2: http://yuki-onna.livejournal.com/636473.html about the pricing of e-books and arguing against the 99 cent iTunes model (which I think is insulting for full length books but maybe introductory short stories as a marketing tool would be fine at that price)
Tapatitapati on March 28th, 2011 02:32 pm (UTC)
A short list of people who began by publishing their own work in e-book format:

Amanda Hocking
John Locke
B.V. Larson
Michael J. Sullivan
H.P. Mallory
D.B. Henson
Victorine Lieskie
Christopher Smith
B. V. Larson
J. R. Rain
Stephen Carpenter
Heather Killough-Walden
Nancy C. Johnson
Michael Gallagher
Christian Cantrell
David Dalglish
Vaughn Heppner
L.J. Sellers
Selina Kitt
Nathan Lowell
Mari Adkinsmariadkins on March 28th, 2011 03:41 pm (UTC)
JA Konrath is THE MAN ...

and Brian Keene, keeping his chin up through this mess with Dorchester, he's started doing e-pubs and self-e-pubs.
Mari Adkinsmariadkins on March 28th, 2011 03:43 pm (UTC)
self-publishing can be messy. you have to have the time, money, and other resources to do all of your marketing, all of your distribution, set up all of your own book-signings, etc, etc. you basically have to make yourself / your work a full-time business. you have to have the money to hire great editors, too - and those who don't, it shows.

i want to add RJ Sellers to the self-e-pub list. she's amazing. her LT Jackson series just keeps getting better and better.
Tapatitapati on March 28th, 2011 03:47 pm (UTC)
Some of these links point to people who do distribution for you, and a potent argument is made that dealing with bookstores and book signings may not be cost effective in an increasingly digital world. When you keep more of the money per unit, writing more and getting more units out there to sell works better.
Mari Adkinsmariadkins on March 28th, 2011 03:50 pm (UTC)
Yup. Distribution is costly.

When you keep more of the money per unit, writing more and getting more units out there to sell works better.

"the money flows to the writer". ;)
(Anonymous) on March 28th, 2011 09:17 pm (UTC)
Architect of Sleep
That's not at all true about Boyette's ARCHITECT OF SLEEP book. He got into an argument with is publisher over the second book in the series and he bought it back. The publisher isn't holding on to rights or anything like that. The book is out of print and rights belong to Boyette. He's said many times he isn't interested in finishing them anymore.
Tapatitapati on March 29th, 2011 05:41 am (UTC)
Re: Architect of Sleep


A dubious adventure

I must have about 100 pieces of mail by now from readers of The Architect of Sleep, most asking essentially the same question: Where's the rest of the damned thing? A good question, that. I could answer that the next installment, The Geography of Dreams, is stacked in a typing box tucked in a desk drawer not a foot away from where I'm typing this, but that doesn't do you much good, does it?

This little newsletter/flyer/whatever is meant to tell you a little of the publication history of Architect, what became of Geography, and what the heck is going on with the remainder of what has become a literary albatross around this writer's neck.

Somewhere around late 1983-early '84, I was living in Gainesville, Florida. Ariel had just been published and I was under lots of self- induced pressure to write another book. I sat down to outline a novel. A quick book, three hundred pages of action adventure, get money, keep my name in front of the readership, that sort of thing. I started with nothing more than the Disney-esque image of a young man walking beside a canal with an upright, talking raccoon. I had written a title, The Architect of Sleep. The Geometry of Dreams, on a sheet I keep for titles that pop into my head. Essentially I tried to figure out what that image meant in relation to that title. The outline came out at 36 pages -- pretty long.

I began writing. Around 75 pages into the book, I realized it weren't gonna be no quick action-adventure thing. I was setting up an intricate, dense situation, and was beginning to establish a level of detail I very much wanted not only to maintain but to increase. So the novel mushroomed: the story, I realized, would take 400,000 to 500,000 words to tell.

That's a long book.

Tapatitapati on March 29th, 2011 05:43 am (UTC)
Re: Architect of Sleep
There are several reasons (at least in science fiction) not to write a book that long. All of them are economic. I was working at the time, and a royalty check on Ariel would not be arriving for at least another year. To write a novel of half a million words would mean not selling a novel for a long time. Which meant I'd have to keep working. Which meant it'd take still longer to write. I decided to split the story into volumes--chapters, if you will. By no means did I consider any one volume complete or self sufficient; my hope was that each of the (then) 3 novels would be published at regular intervals--no more than 12 months apart--to maintain the readership.

So this answers an often-asked question: No, Berkley did not unfairly decide to chop a manuscript at some arbitrary point. The decision was mine and mine alone.


This compromise--and compromise it was, I assure you--was decided on with the understanding that the 1st volume would carry some sort of Caveat lector warning that there were more books to follow. When published, Architect carried no such caveat, of course, and guess who took the flak? It's sort of like blaming your waitress if your food is bad.

Though I had complaints about what I considered to be a misrepresentation in the marketing of the book, ultimately I figured it wouldn't matter: the rest of the volumes were forthcoming, no big deal; shut up and write, Steve.


Berkley and I had a few go-arounds about Architect. The first involved the novel's ending. Melissa Singer was the novel's original editor. She moved on to Tor Books, but finished working with me during her initial days there. She was being pressured to have me "complete" the first volume, to provide resolutions and a nice sewn-up feel. I felt this was impossible: the 1st volume was mostly foundation-laying; what's to wrap up? I re-wrote the ending to accommodate her somewhat anyway, because Melissa is a good editor: in its present state, The Architect of Sleep does lead up to a climax, a plot complication, and a bit of denouement. But it's a cliff hanger, no doubt. Beth Fleischer, who took over as Architect's editor for the final stages, applied still more pressure. Her position was awkward: she came in on the latter stages of an editorial process, when things might have taken a different direction had she been involved from the beginning. Still, pressure was applied to resolve things at the end of the 1st book, and again I was forced to remind them that they were publishing the first installment of what was essentially one long novel, in much the same manner that the Tolkien trilogy was broken up in paperback.

From the beginning, then, there was a fundamental difference in the way Architect was viewed. The publisher wanted separate, self- contained stories. I never represented the novel (or any of the ensuing volumes) as such, yet they stubbornly persisted in regarding them this way.

Well. We fought about the cover, which I think is a great piece of art yet an inappropriate and misleading cover. I lost.

Tapatitapati on March 29th, 2011 05:44 am (UTC)
Re: Architect of Sleep
In March 1986 I submitted an outline and the 1st 120 pages of the next installment, The Geography of Dreams. The contract for Architect_had been dated Hallowe'en 1984; Geography's was dated April Fools' Day, 1986. Portent-believers, take note.

Immediately there were problems. Berkley hedged in its commitment to gradually escalate what they were paying for each successive volume; they were nervous about how Architect was going to sell. Truth to tell, that nervousness was justified: the book's subject matter made it extremely difficult to market; no matter how meticulously researched, a one-paragraph synopsis of the story cannot help but make a sales rep clutch his stomach and fall to the ground laughing. I mean, jesus--intelligent raccoons? Still, Berkley suffered from situational amnesia (a common publishing malady) regarding the payments previously discussed. Contracts signed, I went to work.

In June 1986, Architect was published. Critical reviews were surprisingly uniform and entirely favorable, save for one aspect: every single reviewer mentioned how annoyed s/he was, not that the book didn't end, but that there was no warning that it didn't. I will admit that there were a few I Told You So's bandied about. Meanwhile....

Work on Geography continued. It was even more difficult than the previous novel: I researched even more thoroughly, and the book was exploring interesting pathways, and carrying quite an entourage -- 13 major characters, at last count. I was trying to make it obvious that the point of the novel was not getting to the destination (though of course I wanted drama when finally I did), but the things seen along the way. I was not just "world building" to provide a backdrop; the backdrop was the thing itself. Simultaneously, the mechanics of the story I was telling required that I slowly increase the focus on the Stripes, the warrior-caste raccoons. Every scene in Geography told something about how these people live. Every ostensibly "sideline" story illuminated some facet of the culture. The characters were growing dimensional, complex. They had histories, aspirations, fatal flaws.

I had to go back to work to support the writing of the novel. Further complicating the mess was my realization that I could not contain the books to three volumes. Actually, I could have--but Berkley was pressuring me to turn in books at 70,000 words, 80,000 at the very outside. Architect was proposed as a 125,000-word book; Geography the same. Suddenly I was being told to restructure the volumes to be a full 45,000 words shorter than originally intended. The reason for this, again, was economics: the profit margin is higher on an 80,000-word novel at $2.95 than on a 125,000-word book at $3.50 (a price Berkley refused to consider at the time, which meant that they would have lost money at a $2.95 price. They refused to simply raise the price of longer books to $3.50, despite the fact that every major publisher had done this; their attitude seemed to be that people buy books the way they buy laundry detergent: whatever's cheapest. No one I know says, "Oh, I think I'll get the Boyett book--it's 55 cents less than the Bova!")

Well, I told 'em at the outset that there was no way I could hold the book to that short a length. My agent was on my ass because I had signed a contract for a book "of approximately 70,000-80,000 words." The outline read "a novel of approximately 100,000 words," but too bad: the outline weren't no legal document, bub.

Well. In November '86 I turned in the first 300 pages to Beth Fleischer because I was again being pressured: Berkley was getting nervous about deadlines (they wanted to be sure there really was a book being written), and nervous about the story as well: they were afraid it wouldn't be "complete."
Tapatitapati on March 29th, 2011 05:46 am (UTC)
Re: Architect of Sleep
Any "bridge" book in a larger work suffers from a feeling of sagging. The poor thing: it is incomplete at either end. Well, Berkley wanted none of this. They wanted resolution. That word again. We had long talks about the book's direction. I finished it with Beth's comments in mind. Not only did I finish it, I wrote the first 100 pages of the next one. By this time I realized that, at the lengths into which I was being squeezed, the Architect books were going to run to five volumes. Everybody was getting annoyed, claiming that I was dragging the series out, that I was padding, that I was suffering from word-processoritis, Tolkienitis, James Clavellitis, sequelitis, and every other "itis" you can think of. This despite the fact that, in 1983, I knew how and where the whole mess o' words should end.

So: I turned the "finished" manuscript in.

The scream in New York could be heard from my home in Los Angeles.

It wasn't complete. It was too long. There wasn't enough plot. There was too much detail (!). It wasn't at all what they expected. My editor and I had a phone conversation that left icicles on my receiver. Here are highlights: "There isn't enough plot." What do you mean, there isn't enough plot? "There aren't enough events." (William of Austria to Mozart: Too many notes.) What do you mean by 'events'? "There isn't enough action." (Bingo: Gee, Mr. Melville, we'd really like it if you cut out this boring whaling- industry stuff and get back to those guys and that whale.) But this isn't an action book. It was never conceived or proposed as such. "Well, this isn't the book I thought I was buying." But you got 300 pages of it last November. Hello? Hello? Operator...?

I call my agent. He says relax, we'll talk to them and find out precisely what they want before we get too excited. He does, they do.

Tapatitapati on March 29th, 2011 05:47 am (UTC)
Re: Architect of Sleep
What they want is for me to take the last fourth of Geography, move it to the front of the book, then write the next three-fourths of the next book (which was to be a pirate novel called The Navigators of Fortune) as the remainder of this one, and I can put the details of that three-fourths we chucked into some later volume (meaning, of course, that I'd have to fight them about it then, too).

Well, friends, I'd had just about enough. "If you want an action-adventure book," I said, "buy another Robert Asprin novel. That's not what I'm doing here."

So I bought the book back. It's right here, as I said, about a foot away from me. It ain't coming out from Berkley, which is just as well. Because if it had, I'd just have to go around with them each and every volume, and, folks, it just weren't worth it no more.

So here's the Status quo: Geography belongs to me. Architect is still tied up at Berkley because technically it is still in print. I can't take the "series" (a word I don't like to use in connection with this multi-volume novel) to another publisher because they have every right to expect to reprint the first novel as part of the "launching" procedure for the remainder, and they can't 'cuz Berkley still has it. And I absolutely refuse, these days, to sell a book before the whole thing's written, because when you do that a publisher has the ability to say that what you turn in isn't what they expected, sorry to have wasted your time, bub. And Architect is a long book: science fiction's answer to Shogun. And because I went back to work and would have had no foreseeable fiction novel income while writing of the remainder of the book (which would be a very thick manuscript indeed), it could easily take 6 or 7 years to finish.

I gotta tell you, I do not relish the notion of spending another 6 or 7 years with intelligent raccoons. Quite simply, I have other, more varied things to do.

So: as it stands, the Architect books are in limbo. For those curious, the tentative volumes were to be: The Architect of Sleep; The Geography of Dreams; The Navigators of Fortune; The Corridors of Memory; and The Gravity of Night. I would dearly love to finish them--do you think I invested years of my life because I wanted_to abandon them?--but not under present circumstances. Quite bluntly, you have Berkley Books to thank for this, and I suggest that those of you who've written me to complain may wish to direct further comments, suggestions, and criticisms their way. [Contact info deleted - this was twenty years ago. KS] I did my best, friends. But sometimes you have to feed your kid poison to keep the Nazis from taking it. My books are my kids, and I am responsible for every word in them. At least I sleep well at night knowing that I am committed to whatever vision with which I approach my work.

Meantime, the world is a blank canvas upon which to paint. I have taken leave of science fiction because I am fed up with its status as literary ghetto (not, I hasten to add, as invalid literature) in the minds of readers and publishers alike. For much of 1987 I returned to my first love, the short story. Currently I'm working on a novel entitled Screams in the Wreckage. It ain't SF, but it's still kinda weird, and it's me all the way. I have a bunch of other stuff to write when that's finished. It's my sincere hope that, if you have read me and liked me, you'll read them and like them, too.

Many thanks for your patience and support.

Steve Boyett

January 28, 1988


the link below is also of interest:


as perhaps by now he could finish it but it's taken on an interesting life of its own in some communities. Even though he's now writing sf again he isn't likely to return to this, it seems.
Tapatitapati on March 29th, 2011 06:02 am (UTC)
Re: Architect of Sleep
More from http://groups.google.com/group/podcasters-list/browse_thread/thread/d0c059bdbc5cb6cd/c9135eed2ef67b28?lnk=st&q=#c9135eed2ef67b28

From: "Steven R. Boyett" <st...@steveboy.com>
Date: Sun, 13 Jan 2008 14:35:56 -0800

I thought I took that page down. I've learned never to say never, but I have
been saying for years that I am not going to finish it. I wrote it when I
was 24. I'm proud of it. But I never have thought it was my best work; it
was basically a five-finger exercise (that's a joke) in world building
carried to a myopic extreme just to prove I could do it. I ain't that guy no
more. That guy was willing to endure furries for what he wanted to
accomplish (well, that guy had no idea they existed at the time). I have
zero tolerance for squirrelbangers, and as far as Architect is concerned,
they have peed in the pool for everyone.



Stephen Eley
View profile
On Jan 13, 2008 5:35 PM, Steven R. Boyett <st...@steveboy.com> wrote: > I thought I took that page down. http://www.steveboy.com/archetyp.html > That guy was willing to endure furries for what he wanted to > accomplish (well, that guy had no idea they existed at the time). I have > zero tolerance for squirrelbangers, and as far as Architect is concerned, > they have peed in the pool for everyone. And here I thought they were a harmless and moderately amusing end of the geek/kink spectrum -- but then I've never produced any work that would bring them swarming. (I was going to end this post with "And there are no furry podcasts!" as a riff on my earlier line on BDSM podcasts... But I did think to check Google first and I was wrong. Boy howdy, are there a lot of furry podcasts.) -- Have Fun, Steve Eley (sfe...@gmail.com) ESCAPE POD - The Science Fiction Podcast Magazine http://www.escapepod.org
More options Jan 13 2008, 3:51 pm
From: "Stephen Eley" <sfe...@gmail.com>
Date: Sun, 13 Jan 2008 17:51:21 -0500
Local: Sun, Jan 13 2008 3:51 pm
Subject: Re: [podcasters] Sex podcasting (Was: We're number one! We're number one!)
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On Jan 13, 2008 5:35 PM, Steven R. Boyett <st...@steveboy.com> wrote:

> I thought I took that page down.


> That guy was willing to endure furries for what he wanted to
> accomplish (well, that guy had no idea they existed at the time). I have
> zero tolerance for squirrelbangers, and as far as Architect is concerned,
> they have peed in the pool for everyone.

And here I thought they were a harmless and moderately amusing end of
the geek/kink spectrum -- but then I've never produced any work that
would bring them swarming.

(I was going to end this post with "And there are no furry podcasts!"
as a riff on my earlier line on BDSM podcasts... But I did think to
check Google first and I was wrong. Boy howdy, are there a lot of
furry podcasts.)

Have Fun,
Steve Eley (sfe...@gmail.com)


From: "Steven R. Boyett" <st...@steveboy.com>
Date: Sun, 13 Jan 2008 15:00:29 -0800

Nope, they're mismatched-plaid-wearing, hygienically challenged,
dandruff-carpeted gulp-laughers who show up on your front porch unannounced
or send you demanding emails. I have to say that the difference between my
fan mail as a writer and my fan mail as a podcaster could not be more
prominent. I don't know if this makes any sense, but it makes me sad that,
in terms of audience, I enjoy being a DJ far more than I ever have being a
writer. Probably because I enjoy writing itself more than DJing, and
possibly because I'm a better writer than DJ.

I've taken to forwarding writerly fanmail to close friends, because, as the
General once said on Roger Ramjet, it "always ceases to amaze me."

--steve boyett

Jan 13 2008, 4:08 pm
From: Nobilis <authornobi...@gmail.com>

Wow. That's a rather deep well of hatred, there, Steven.

From: "Steven R. Boyett" <st...@steveboy.com>
Date: Sun, 13 Jan 2008 18:36:07 -0800

Yes, it is. And entirely warranted. And before you go judging me for it,
consider that these chancre-lickers have dogged me for 25 years, which I
doubt is on a par with your experience of them.

--steve b
Tapatitapati on March 29th, 2011 06:10 am (UTC)
Re: Architect of Sleep
Kristenraisha on March 28th, 2011 11:11 pm (UTC)
Wow. This is a lot of information to take in, and I'm wading through it slowly trying to digest it all. Certainly food for thought!

I personally didn't take e-books very seriously myself, until I started reading them. Now, all of a sudden, instead of lugging around a backpack full of heavy books wherever I go, I have this lightweight e-book reader (mine is the B&N Nook Color, because it runs Android like my phone) loaded with a ton of reading material. I have fiction and reference material, all in one place, without me trying to squeeze one more bookshelf into my house. I love it! And I'm seeing them catching on more everywhere . . .
Tapatitapati on March 29th, 2011 05:51 am (UTC)
I find that I love being able to bump up the font. I am at that age where I need larger print but don't want to be stuck in the ghetto of large print books, which aren't very plentiful. I will still buy paper for some things.

I thought it was interesting when I heard you could publish to Amazon on your own now (I heard about that when that pedophile published his guide) but the implications hadn't sunk in. Suddenly anyone can reach an audience without huge up front costs! Publishers don't do that much publicity for you these days unless they believe you have a best seller, so many books that get published just disappear with low sales anyway. So why take such a huge cut on your profit if you'll have the same kind of sales on your own? :)