Archive for April, 2011

Earlier today I read a question on a message board for writers, the Writer’s Cafe at Kindleboards.com (one of my favorite online haunts). The name of the thread was “Personal Glory or Commercial Success?” and the first post asks this:

Ideally, we’d like to be able to write books that are both meaningful to us as well as popular in the consumer market.  Realistically though, it’s extremely uncommon to have both.  If you had to choose, would you rather write for personal fulfillment even if it doesn’t attract much in the way of sales or write what will more likely appeal to the masses and give you some amount of decent profit?

Definitely both.

But I’ve come to a soul-searching moment with my book. Mine is at a point now where I think it’s finally in good enough shape to publish it, after working on the book for 21 months. If my top goal was to make money, I’d probably release it now and get to work writing another one so that I could try to have a second release before the holidays.

But I’ve found I literally can’t do that. I’m still poring over the book, making every detail as good as I can possibly make it. I’m trying to root out every weak instance of ‘telling’ in the cases where telling isn’t the best choice, and trying to make every sentence concise and clear. I want every piece of dialogue to ring true, and every character to work and feel real. I want every part of the story to be logical and to function with maximum emotional impact. These are some of the goals, anyway. I’m doing the best I can with them.

By doing all this, instead of releasing my book in May like I’d hoped to, I might not be able to release the novel until June at the earliest and probably August at the latest (I’ll guess July). And I know this might cost me some money because it’s slowing down my current and future release schedule (or maybe make me more money in the long run–it’s hard to say).

But when I’ve looked really deeply at it, I’ve decided that if people are going to spend some money on my book and, more importantly, hours of their lives reading it, I can’t feel good about that unless I know that I’ve given everyone my very best effort. That’s what I want from any author I read, so that’s what I have to give.

I’ve realized that my #1 goal, literally, is to write the very best book that I can, however long that takes, still absolutely with an eye toward commercial success–but regardless of whether my release schedule helps or hurts me in terms of generating an income from writing. I’m living off some of my savings to do this, but in the end, I want to know that I gave everyone the very best I had to give, and I think that’s worth more to me than commercial success. Then again, maybe this is the best way to have longterm commercial success. But I’m okay with or without commercial success as long as I know that I didn’t cut any corners just to make more money. That’s not saying anything about anyone who has that goal–it’s just not my top goal.

I want some people who read my book to feel like it’s one of the best reading experiences they’ve ever had. I want my book to be one that stays with some people for years, one that they want to re-read some day. Even if it’s just a small percentage of people that feel that way, that’s what I value most, the qualitative experience that those readers might have, not the numbers in my bank account.

Writing this book (and then hopefully more, similar books) is literally my top personal (selfish) desire, for my life. After this, my top goals are to be the best dad and husband I can be and eventually to focus more on charitable projects. This is why the writing of the book is more important to me than the money. This is just how I feel. I’m not comparing or contrasting myself to anyone else, and I know I’m very lucky to be in a position that allows me to approach writing this way. Then again, I’ve worked hard at other things so that I could do this some day.

Thanks for asking a great question. Sorry if I gave you more than you bargained for  😉

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Remember back in February when Apple rejected Sony’s ebook app? I haven’t heard much about this recently. And after googling and reading for a few hours, I haven’t found any significant recent news.

Apple is still blocking Sony’s app. Sony has since threatened to pull their music from iTunes (that would include Madonna, Michael Jackson, and Bob Dylan, among others) and Sony appears to be moving toward options that will allow them to do that. Some have speculated that Sony’s app was rejected because they tried to offer their own in-app purchasing method (i.e. one that did not give Apple a cut and may have had other security issues), but I can’t confirm that as a fact, and from all I can find this seems to be false. I found one of the first blogs that first brought up this theory, and I think that blog post misunderstood the other two blogs that it linked to to back up this claim. For example, read the “Update” part of this blog (Sony’s rejected app sounds just like other ebook apps). And Apple’s own statements sound different:

“We are now requiring that if an app offers customers the ability to purchase books outside of the app, that the same option is also available to customers from within the app with in-app purchase.”

Apple isn’t talking about Sony offering their own in-app purchasing method. Apple is talking about wanting Sony to offer a way for people to buy Sony ebooks through the Sony ebook app, which would give Apple a 30% cut of those sales. Also known as $$$.

If this policy were applied to, say, Amazon, this could potentially make it impossible to access your kindle books through Apple apps, if Amazon doesn’t change its apps to allow for in-app purchases. Which, of course, Amazon wouldn’t want to do because that would mean paying Apple 30% on those sales and Apple already pays independent authors 70% in many, if not most, cases. The same could be said for Barnes and Noble/Nook, Kobo, etc., with slightly different royalty figures. But Apple hasn’t forced this issue yet, and they might not ever force the issue on any other company besides Sony.

Unless I’m missing something, Apple is preventing Sony from being able to do something that Apple continues to allow Amazon and B&N (and other companies) to do. That is, sell ebooks through an app for iPads and iPhones by taking customers to a web browser to make those purchases (without also having an in-app purchase option). Apple says it is going to start to enforce its written policy, thereby forcing apps to also offer the option to purchase ebooks through the actual apps, where Apple takes 30% of those transactions. But it hasn’t forced Amazon or Barnes and Noble or Kobo to do that yet.

iConfused.

For now, it looks like Apple has fired only on Sony, leaving Amazon and B&N to wonder if they’re going to be shot at next. But before you worry too much, I think there’s a good chance that Apple won’t fire the same cannons on Amazon and B&N, because that fight would get really ugly and it could also get Apple into some serious antitrust issues.

Let’s hope Apple doesn’t push the issue any further, because could mean more restricted access to ebooks for Apple customers and lower royalties for authors.

By the way, if you know anything else about what’s going on with this issue, please feel free to mention it in the comments. I feel like I have a decent grasp on what’s going on now, but it hasn’t been easy to sort out all the facts from the fiction. Speaking of which, I need to go write some fiction.

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Suvudu recently posted an hour-long video of Terry Brooks speaking at an Oregon library. Suvudu titled their post: “Terry Brooks – Setting as Character,” but a different part of his talk snagged my attention.

Question put to Terry Brooks: What’s your favorite of all the books you’ve written?

Terry BrooksTerry Brooks: What’s my favorite book?

The one I’m working on right now. Which is going to be the best book I’ve ever done. Which is what I tell myself with every book I write. The contract I have with readers is very simple. I will always give you my best effort. And my best effort will always be geared toward saying that this book will be at least as good as the last book I wrote, if not better. You may not see it that way when I get done, but that’s the goal.

Because I’ve read too many writers, and I’m sure you can speak to this too, who write four or five really good books and then suddenly they take a vacation. And you think, what’s this? I just spend $25 on this book that looks like some kind of retread or half an effort. It’s irritating.

Or, as some of my favorite writers do, they write 300 really good pages and then they write a really bad ending. Which is unforgivable–unforgivable! That’s my contract with you, though. I will never do that, and if I do you should call me on it. I don’t want to have to go into a room full of readers at any point in my life and defend myself because I didn’t put forth my best effort and I know it. I want to be able to say, “At the time I wrote that book, this is the best I could do, and I think it’s a pretty good book and this is why I think it’s a pretty good book.”

Shawn Speakman filmed the video at Terry Brooks’ request. Three cheers for Shawn and Terry!
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Patrick Rothfuss Podcast InterviewI’ve somehow managed to interview three #1 NYT bestsellers over the last few months for the Adventures In Sci Fi Publishing podcast (where I’m also a co-host): Brandon Sanderson, Sherrilyn Kenyon, and, now, Patrick Rothfuss.

Pat talked to me and fellow AISFP guy Dan/D.T. Conklin for about 90 minutes last week. Though it hurt to edit it down, I got the conversation down to a 65-minute audio interview.

Researching Pat’s success and talking to him left a righteous impression on me.

  1. For a #1 NYT bestseller, Pat’s a remarkably open and authentic guy. From all I’ve seen, there isn’t any question he won’t answer honestly. As someone who’s interviewed a lot of successful authors over the last year, I found that to be so refreshing.
  2. He’s a generous soul. Whether it’s raising around $600,000 for Heifer International in three years (with a lot of that money coming out of his own pocket), slaving away on his well-loved story for geeks everywhere, or putting in a lot of work on his hilarious blog, he seems to be all about making other people happier.
  3. He has incredibly high standards around writing and storytelling. Talking to him inspired me to be a better writer. Period. He talked about making every piece of your story exceptional, and doing all it takes to make your world believable in the context of the magic or the future that you imagine.

The Wise Man's Fear, by Patrick RothfussIn our interview, Pat tells us which scifi or fantasy author he’d spend eternity with on a desert island, who’d win if he were to wrestle Brandon Sanderson, and why he’s tired of questions about his mighty beard. He also discusses the somewhat subversive nature of his work, and tells us a bit about what we can expect from the conclusion of book 3. We even talked a little bit about Dragon Age 2, his love for John Scalzi, and the current state of publishing.

Here’s the full podcast interview with Patrick Rothfuss.

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