Nathan Bransford, Author

Monday, March 19, 2012

Last Week in Books 3/19/12

Last week! Books!

First up, if you're in the San Francisco area it has come to my attention that there's a pretty cool film festival going on that's built around cell phone cameras and nonprofessional cameras the like. It's called the Disposable Film Festival, and it was recently covered by the Wall Street Journal.

Now then. As we know, last week's big news was word that the Department of Justice is threatening to sue 5 of the Big 6 publishers and Apple for collusion over e-book prices, which I relayed in Thursday's post. That will definitely be something we will keeping an eye on, and in the meantime, the comments section of Thursday's post is fascinating and absolutely worth a read.

In other book news, there were some really great posts on writing and author promotions this week. In no particular order...

Dear Editor had an interesting series on editing, and I was interviewed on my process. That be here (scroll down on the blue bar on the right to see the interview).

Agent Rachelle Gardner has posts on 8 things writers should know about Goodreads and a guest blogger on the 5 most common mistakes author websites make (despite my many mistakes I managed to dodge these 5).

Agent Jessica Faust at BookEnds has an interesting post on the evolution of her query letter as time became more and more pressing - it shows the same whittling down that many agents go through.

And over at the Daily Beast, Pamela Redmond Satran picks up where the legendary 101 Reasons to Stop Writing literally left off - here are 22 more reasons to stop writing.

This Week in the Forums, the Bransford Blog Challenge is in full effect and I'm very nearly in last place (tourney talk here), your all-time favorite movies, funny typos, what separates a novel from a short story, and how do you introduce a character's conflicting desires?

Comment! of! the! Week! There were a ton of amazing comments on Thursday's post, but I'm going with Jim Duncan and Mira, who I think add some great counterpoints to what I said:

Jim Duncan:
...I believe the loss of agency model will have some serious effects, spoken of already. Readers and Amazon are the only winners here. Authors across the spectrum will lose to varying degrees. Publishers will lose. Bookstores will lose.

No matter the winner, I have a difficult time supporting anything that benefits Amazon's predatory pricing practices. More annoyed the DoJ isn't going after them as well, because beefing up Amazon's ability undercut every bookseller out there is the last thing we really need to be doing. This isn't free market competition, it's a financial behemoth using it's massive resources to destroy competition.

And my biggest issue with this is that Amazon doesn't give one iota about books, whereas booksellers do. Amazon is not in the business of selling story. Amazing literature or total crap, it's all the same to them. Books are a meaningless widget to them, a sale item to get the consumer in the door. It's a gateway product, meant to entice you in to buy other things. I imagine they could discount books down to zero and still come out ahead due to the money spent by consumers drawn in through books.

I read books, and I like to spend as little as I have to, but I'm also an author, and seeing my work, the hours upon hours work, pouring my creativity into a story get turned into a meaningless item to wave at consumers, really, really bothers me.

Don't get me wrong. I want as many people to read my stories as possible. I like having people read them. It's very satisfying to know that my work is appreciated, that I can bring a few hours entertainment to several thousand readers. But I don't want to do it at the expense of the art of storytelling. Art is far to significant a cultural element to be relegated to the bargain bin at the dollar store. It's worth more than the cup of coffee bought to sip on while reading it.

So, regardless of who benefits or what those benefits might end up being, these economic forces that are driving book values toward zero are just wrong.
...Jim - I think I understand your point. Let me know if I'm wrong, but it's not really about making money for you, it's the idea that a writer can work for three years on a story that then sells for a dollar.

I get it. I don't want that either.

But I guess I'm alittle more optimistic that as things fall out, there will be price scaling. In other words, a new author might charge a dollar for a book, but a well-known, sought after author could demand higher prices.

I also have faith in the corporate desire to make money. They may be willing to price a song at a buck, but to make that the default price for a book? I guess I don't see Amazon or anyone doing that. Good books are not as plentiful as good songs. They take tremendous skill to craft, and that skill is rare. I just don't think it would make sense for a corporation to devalue books to that level. They'd lose money.

I could be wrong, of course.

But again - it's not Amazon that's charging a dollar for a book. It's self-publishers. They are experimenting with pricing as a means to draw customers. Once they have a customer base, they tend to raise their prices.

I'm not going to argue about Amazon not valuing a story because they use business tactics - I still don't see how you get that conclusion, exactly, but what I do think Amazon doing is letting the writer take the driver's seat, which includes pricing their own books.
And finally, this is one of the more mesmerizing things I've seen lately: Every hour of the moon throughout 2012 (via io9)

Have a great week!


Mr. D said...

Cell Phones with Videos. A truly life-changing invention. Now anyone can make a video at a moment's notice. I'm kind of glad that the same is not true for writing books.

Diana said...

One of the problems that I have with the author websites blog post is that authors don't need SEO for their websites or their blog. No one is going to use a search engine like Google to do a general search for books or authors. No one.

It would be an exercise in frustration to use Google or Yahoo's search engine to browse for fantasy books or romance authors or literary fiction. It's faster to search Amazon or Barnes and Noble's websites, if one is generally searching.

If one is searching for a specific book or author, then without SEO Google will return the proper website or blog on the first page if not the top spot.

Authors don't need SEO because no one is going to use Google or any other search engine to discover an unknown author. If it doesn't cost anything to put it in, then go ahead and do it.

But if someone is going to charge you a lot of money to put SEO on your blog or website or tell you to switch to a different blogging service to get SEO, then you really need to think about whether it is necessary or not.

D.G. Hudson said...

Great moon trailer, I love those NASA updates.

I agree with Mr. D.

BTW Nathan, do not like the robot verification. If I were a robot, would I admit it?

Nathan Bransford said...

I eliminated the robot verification, but if spam explodes I may have to revert back, sorry everyone!

Anonymous said...

The link to the post about author web sites could be questioned on all counts. And for every single comment about how word press is better than google blogger another argument could be made in the reverse. This blog alone is a perfect example of how a great blog, with a lot of traffic, can be done with google blogger (I think that's where this blog originated.) And I get tons of hits from google blogger, and it's all free. I don't have to pay for anything.

I truly believe that anyone who expects a new author who is struggling to get web presence to spend a lot of money is either hocking something or missing the point of how much is available for free on the Internet. And I would advice new authors to read posts like that very carefully. You don't need to spend a dime to promote, blog, or get an audience. You have to do something interesting that people will like.

Matthew MacNish said...

Thanks, Nathan!

Matthew MacNish said...

Oh BTW: I'm not nearly as popular as you, but the settings I use are: no WV, and moderation only if posts are more than 3 days old. I only have to delete 5-10 spam comments a month.

Mira said...

That was a great discussion on Thursday - it was great fun to debate with folks like Jim and Lisa and to read great posts, like from Barry and Marilyn. I love that sort of thing - it's so interesting! :)

Thanks for the links. The moon video was truly awesome. I really liked Rachelle Gardner's article about Goodreads, that was great. I also really liked Jessica's post about queries and her point about signature replies being fairly easy. That's a great idea!

The 22 reasons to stop writing were pretty funny.

I liked your interview, Nathan. It was interesting to get a sense of your relationship with your editor.

I found the comments on this thread about author websites to be pretty interesting.

Thanks Nathan. :)

D.G. Hudson said...

Thanks Nathan, for listening. I approve my comments due to trolls, but that doesn't work for someone with a large following like you.

Giving it a try works.

Sheila Cull said...

Hey Bransford, how about doing a real blog challenge? Oh that's right, you think blogging is on the way out.

I agree, Jim Duncan, great perspective, great writing. Bransford, cool moon, stuff.

Sheila Cull said...

Hey Bransford, how about doing a real blog challenge? Oh that's right, you think blogging is on the way out.

I agree, Jim Duncan, great perspective, great writing. Bransford, cool moon, stuff.

Nathan Bransford said...

I don't think I said it's on the way out...

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