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No one resists a free book—compulsive author behavior

Bondi Beach

I left four or five printed proof* copies of Sarah's Honeymoon at our local recycling center this morning. In what I admit was totally compulsive behavior, I went back this afternoon to see if the vultures who practically attack you as you're leaving books in the intake box had latched on to any of them.

There was only one copy left.

Can't exactly recommend this way to do it because it's expensive, but who knows? Perhaps they'll look me up on the Web and I'll get some more readers. (That "Also by" page is an important one, obviously.)

*Problems with cover layout, not the text

bb

Crumbly Writer

Maybe next you'll try leaving it on park benches?

Replies:   Bondi Beach
Dominions Son

@Bondi Beach

Next time, set up a table on your front lawn, put the books on a table and mark them for sale for $5 then leave them unattended. They'll go faster that way.

People don't want to steal worthless things. Give it a value and more people will want to steal it.

Replies:   Bondi Beach
Bondi Beach

@Dominions Son

People don't want to steal worthless things. Give it a value and more people will want to steal it.


Heh. Somebody better tell that to the guys (and gals) hanging around the intake bin at the recycling center.

Besides, the theory may have an upper limit.I know an art photographer who prices his images in the hundreds if not thousands of dollars. Unfortunately, likely buyers in his local market are used to paying $25 max.

Oh, wait. You didn't say they would *buy* the books...

bb

Bondi Beach

@Crumbly Writer

Maybe next you'll try leaving it on park benches?


Heh. On the next book I'm limiting myself to two proof copies. If it doesn't work after the second round, tough, that's it. I'm doing it more to have my own printed copy rather than any hope of selling them, but there's a limit.

bb

richardshagrin

@Bondi Beach

On the next book I'm limiting myself to two proof copies.

That's only one percent alcohol. Not very intoxicating literature.

Replies:   Bondi Beach
awnlee jawking

@Bondi Beach

Is that the same story you have here on SOL?

AJ

Replies:   Bondi Beach
Crumbly Writer

@Bondi Beach

On the next book I'm limiting myself to two proof copies. If it doesn't work after the second round, tough, that's it. I'm doing it more to have my own printed copy rather than any hope of selling them, but there's a limit.

It's hard selling print books online. Despite offering print copies of all my books, about the only ones I sell are person-to-person sales ("Oh, you publish books? Are there any I might have seen?"). I mostly offer them as giveaways to family and friends (Christmas presents so they can keep up on what I'm doing, and as gifts to my contributors (editors and photographers, artists and font designers of products I use in the books). It's more a 'public relations' than sales endeavor.

@awnlee jawking

Is that the same story you have here on SOL?

Bondi, Awnlee would like the address of your recycling center. 'D

Replies:   docholladay
docholladay

@Crumbly Writer

It's hard selling print books online. Despite offering print copies of all my books, about the only ones I sell are person-to-person sales ("Oh, you publish books? Are there any I might have seen?"). I mostly offer them as giveaways to family and friends (Christmas presents so they can keep up on what I'm doing, and as gifts to my contributors (editors and photographers, artists and font designers of products I use in the books). It's more a 'public relations' than sales endeavor.


From past experience having studied under several bookstore owners (I worked for free to learn their methods). The best odds for selling printed books will start with locally owned and operated bookstores. National or regionally owned stores will be much harder since very few if any managers will have the authority needed to select new books to display.

And most of them will only take around 10-20 copies for an unknown author. Even then sales will be hard to estimate. Probably somewhere along the line of slim and none.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@docholladay

And most of them will only take around 10-20 copies for an unknown author. Even then sales will be hard to estimate. Probably somewhere along the line of slim and none.

From people I know who've offered books to local bookstores, sales are largely limited to signings (typically only 3 or 4, up to 6 or 7 at an absolute maximum). The other issue is that independent bookstores typically are still pissed at Amazon and thus won't allow any books print by createspace--which Amazon purchased a couple years ago and is the most cost-efficient and widely used indie-publishing source--meaning mainly only vanity-press authors are eligible to sell to independent bookstores. I'm not planning to switch from CS to lulu or D2D just to sell a couple copies of a book.

Sales to bookstore are also very author-intensive efforts. You're best bet it to print 100 to 200 books at a time (typical vanity press volumes) and visit one book store after another, only selling a couple to a few books at each bookstore spread across multiple stores over several years. That's a hell of a lot of effort--time not spent on writing--and the poor return on investment from the vanity press medium means the authors receive tiny income for the effort.

Ideally, print through lulu and visiting every indie bookstore in a 100 mile radius would produce the best results, but again, you're not likely to earn much.

Several indie authors go this route, but I'm not convinced it's a cost-effective solution.

P.S. I'm not sure of the latest count, but I'm guessing my brother has sold close to 800 to 1,000 copies of his $20 book, however he only earns $1 for each copy he sells himself. It's taken him years to sell that much, he's benefited by selling the book at carving/hunting shows (it's a book about hunting), and he's never written any more as a result of the cost--in hours--in this single sales technique.

Replies:   docholladay
Bondi Beach
Updated:

@awnlee jawking


Is that the same story you have here on SOL?


It is the same Sarah's Honeymoon. Eventually (it's second or third on my to-do list) I'll update the version on SOL. In the meantime, the ePub version is available free from Amazon, iBook Store, Lulu, etc. It's a little crisper than the SOL version.

(And, of course, please feel free to buy the printed copy at a mere $5.99---for a 32-page story---from Lulu.) FYI outside of SOL I'm listed as Joe "Bondi" Beach.

Cheers,

bb

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Bondi Beach
Updated:

@richardshagrin


That's only one percent alcohol. Not very intoxicating literature.


True, but as one Amazon reviewer said, "It's like 'How I met your mother' but with a much higher SPF factor." The other Amazon reviewer called it a girlie story, which I suppose it is. It's a favorite.

bb

docholladay

@Crumbly Writer

That is why I used the numbers I did. Usually that is a minimum purchase by a bookstore. But those numbers would also not really pay an author for the time invested in writing the book. Let alone all the rest that is involved. Also there is the factor that after 30-60 days depending on the sales contract. Unsold books can be returned for a complete refund (something lots of stores miss out on, if the deliveryman also maintains the display's stock).

awnlee jawking

@Bondi Beach

Thank you.

I must admit that when I saw 'book', I immediately assumed a full-length novel and thought of various nefarious uses; doorstop, paperweight, child admonishment utensil, fuel for a wood-burning stove.

As an aside, I guess I'm showing my age here but the book reviews section of my newspaper recently reviewed a 'short novel' of 'less than 45,000 words'.

I'll add 'Sarah's Honeymoon' to my intended reading list.

AJ

Replies:   Bondi Beach
Bondi Beach
Updated:

@awnlee jawking


As an aside, I guess I'm showing my age here but the book reviews section of my newspaper recently reviewed a 'short novel' of 'less than 45,000 words'.


The National Novel Writing Month folks call 50,000 words the threshold for a novel, so I guess "short novel" fits. Or it's a novella. My wife is working through Diana's Gabaldon's Outlander novels, at something like 600 pages each, at the other end of the spectrum.

I hope you enjoy Sarah's Honeymoon when you get to it. With any luck I'll update the SOL version this weekend, but for now only Lulu has the current version.

http://www.lulu.com/shop/http://www.lulu.com/shop/joe-bondi-beach/sarahs-honeymoon/ebook/product-22705321.html

bb

Crumbly Writer

@Bondi Beach

The National Novel Writing Month folks call 50,000 words the threshold for a novel, so I guess "short novel" fits.

A novella has traditioanlly been defined as 30,000 words. "Short novel" works, but again, why bother classifying it? It's either a novel or it's not. With 'short novel' you'll soon have tiny novels, miniscule novels, gross novels (compilations of 144 short stories) and grand novels). If you need to qualify what size novel you wrote, you're wasting time trying to justify a too-short story. Either sell the damn thing or withdraw it: the readers will vote for whether the consider it a sufficient length or not.

Bondi, I'm glad to see your pricing for your novel. I just published my shortest book, definitely a novella at 27,000 words. It's double your books size at 64 pages and I priced it at $9.99 simply because I'm tired of undercutting my own prices--which has never boosted sales. When I kept undercutting prices, trying to attract sales, I was tempted to shrink the font size producing unreadable novels. I'd rather have readable, quality books, even if they cost a little more. Readers will either pay what a books worth or they won't, but having the entire world trying to compete for the exact same $.99 price point (for ebooks) is for the birds.

By the way, my other 150,000 to 200,000 word books cost $14.99 (well under the mainstream presses traditional $20 - $24.99 price point).

Ernest Bywater

@Bondi Beach

The National Novel Writing Month folks call 50,000 words the threshold for a novel


this page has some of the more commonly accepted word count lengths:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Word_count

Classification Word count
Novel over 40,000 words
Novella 17,500 to 40,000 words
Novelette 7,500 to 17,500 words
Short story under 7,500 words

although they do vary with some genres, and then you have sagas above that which usually start around the 100,000 words mark.

Replies:   Dominions Son
awnlee jawking

@Crumbly Writer


A novella has traditioanlly been defined as 30,000 words. "Short novel" works, but again, why bother classifying it?


Because newspaper reviewers are loath to review solo novellas.

There don't seem to be any standards to story length categorisations. Older guidelines seem to be consistently longer than modern guidelines which correlates with the modern trend towards brevity. Being ancient, I would expect a novel to come in around 80,000 words, certainly no less than 60,000. Yet some modern guidelines start novels at 40,000, firmly in novella territory as far as I'm concerned.

AJ

Replies:   Bondi Beach
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

gross novels


Battlefield Earth by L. Ron Hubbard 428K words

Cyrus the Great by Georges de Scudéry/Madeleine de Scudéry 2.1 million words

Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

Novel over 40,000 words


Personally, I wouldn't consider Under 70K words to be a "novel"

Average word counts for novels in different genres:

General Fiction/Literary Fiction 80K
Mystery 80K
Science Fiction and Fantasy 110K *
Young Adult 60K
Memoir 80K

http://thewritepractice.com/word-count/

* most of what I read/have read falls into the Science Fiction and Fantasy category, which probably biases my opinion on how long a novel should be. I have read Battlefield Earth which tips the scale at 429K words.

docholladay

I think word count only matters to publishers and/or critics. As a reader I have never even considered the word count as worth anything at all. Either its a good story or its not. Some stories need more pages and some stories take less pages.

That seems to have been forgotten along the way for some reason. Its the story and how its told that counts not the number of words or pages.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@docholladay

Either its a good story or its not. Some stories need more pages and some stories take less pages.


I read Battlefield Earth in around 6 hours. I was sick at the time and had nothing else to do. A short story can be a good read, but generally leaves me wishing there was more to it.

Replies:   Joe_Bondi_Beach
Bondi Beach
Updated:

@awnlee jawking


There don't seem to be any standards to story length categorisations. Older guidelines seem to be consistently longer than modern guidelines which correlates with the modern trend towards brevity. Being ancient, I would expect a novel to come in around 80,000 words, certainly no less than 60,000. Yet some modern guidelines start novels at 40,000, firmly in novella territory as far as I'm concerned.


I was just looking at one person's commentary on novel length. Her post was 2009 so is dated, but she focused not on what was a "novel" or a "novella" or whatever, but what an editor would accept for publication and what a bookstore would agree to stock.

Central point: unless your name is King, Rowling, Martin (with G.R.R. in front) or Gabaldon (Outlander or the like, your chances of publishing anything over 100K are slim to none, and 80-90K a better range, in any genre.

bb

EDIT: Here's the post: http://jillmyles.com/tag/word-count/

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Bondi Beach

and 80-90K a better range, in any genre.


See: http://thewritepractice.com/word-count/

In SciFi and Fantasy:

Science fiction and fantasy novels typically have a word count between 90,000 to 125,000 words. The sweet spot, according to Donald Maas, is 100,000 to 115,000 words.

Joe_Bondi_Beach

@Dominions Son

A short story can be a good read, but generally leaves me wishing there was more to it.


Even though I knew Dumas ended it at the right place (and all attempted sequels by others have failed, apparently), I finished The Count of Monte Cristo wishing it had kept going.

bb

Replies:   docholladay
Joe_Bondi_Beach

@Crumbly Writer

Bondi, I'm glad to see your pricing for your novel. I just published my shortest book, definitely a novella at 27,000 words. It's double your books size at 64 pages and I priced it at $9.99 simply because I'm tired of undercutting my own prices--which has never boosted sales.


I am almost certainly the wrong person to look at for pricing. (I can't remember what Lulu's bottom price was, somewhere around $4.37 for a 36-page book including front matter.)

I'm doing print versions because I want them for myself, and I'll put up those Lulu permits (several don't meet anyone's standards) for sale because, why not?

As for sales, well, when I passed on to my tax guy a late-arriving 1099 or whatever it is for royalty earnings, he first congratulated me effusively for writing and (self-) publishing, and then on the question of whether the return needed to be amended, he laughed---not unkindly, I think.

Anyway, I love getting paid for writing, but all I'm doing is trying to price somewhere around what it appears others are doing and my expectations for actual sales are correctly quite low.

Redemption, around 18K words, is priced at $1.99 for Kindle, which seemed to match more or less what similiar-length works were priced at. (Please hurry up and buy it before I reduce the price to FREE in a few weeks, OK?)

bb

awnlee jawking

@Dominions Son


Science Fiction and Fantasy 110K


I found the following wikipedia (spit!) page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Word_count

which claims:

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America specifies word lengths for each category of its Nebula award categories:[9]

Classification Word count

Novel over 40,000 words

Novella 17,500 to 40,000 words

Novelette 7,500 to 17,500 words

Short story under 7,500 words

As you can probably guess, a limbo bar would not be troubled by how hugely those figures whelm me.

AJ

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@awnlee jawking

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America specifies word lengths for each category of its Nebula award categories:[9]


The 110K is not a minimum, it is the average word count for dead tree published SciFi/Fantasy Novels.

What The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America considers the minimum size for a novel is meaningless. The real question is what word counts people will buy and what the traditional publishers will publish.

According to http://thewritepractice.com Donald Maass who is a literary agent ( http://maassagency.com/ )
says that the sweat spot for SciFi/Fantasy is 100K to 115K words.

I would presume, that being a literary agent, he sells books to publishers for a living, he is familiar with the traditional publishers standards.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

The 110K is not a minimum, it is the average word count for dead tree published SciFi/Fantasy Novels.


The good SciFi stories tend to run out in the epic or saga range of over 100,000 words because of the need to build the society the story is built in taking up a lot of words. Stories set in current times or historical times do not need to detail many details of the society because the readers already know them, while SciFi needs to build the foundation of the society before they start the story proper. That need almost doubles the number of words needed.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@Dominions Son


Mystery 80K


Mystery is an interesting exception. Wandering through bookstores (after writing my first mystery novel), I discovered that mysteries, as a whole, are the shortest books of any genre, except the best-selling authors all write HUGE mystery novels--their the only ones who seem to be able to get away with it. Thus I'm guessing the word count stats for mysteries are overly inflated by those exceptions.

On the other hand, 110,000 words for sci-fi stories seems to be seriously short, as the majority of sci-fi stories nowadays are huge. I guess it defends how they came up with these definitions (i.e. are they based on the actual average word count of books, or what the publishing houses count as what's 'acceptable' for submission?).

@Bondi

unless your name is King, Rowling, Martin (with G.R.R. in front) or Gabaldon (Outlander or the like, your chances of publishing anything over 100K are slim to none, and 80-90K a better range, in any genre.


That augments my point. Traditional publishers stress book length, since it affects their bottom lines, while ebook sales are constrained by such restrictions, and tend to be significantly longer yet still sell for substantially less--thus the entire word-count index is divided by traditional publishers/vs. Indie publishers. The two are worlds apart at this point--and not just in the sci-fi universes!

@Bondi *** Book Pricing Discussion ***

I am almost certainly the wrong person to look at for pricing. (I can't remember what Lulu's bottom price was, somewhere around $4.37 for a 36-page book including front matter.)


Before jumping on the 'give it away for free' bandwagon, you need to consider your books price elasticity (an economics term).

If your readers buy the same amount, regardless of the price, then there's no sense discounting it. However, if you're selling most of your books to complete stranger on Amazon, then they'll likely purchase more if you price it at nothing.

However, I've discovered that when you give books away for free, you're much less likely to sell any subsequent books simply because the people who collect free books won't purchase sequels.

My best returns haven't been my 'free book giveaways', but instead when I discount books by 75%. Those prices attract the serious readers who, if impressed will purchase more. Free book collectors generally won't purchase anything under any circumstances. Chances are, the people you're selling other books to for free would purchase the same books if you charged for all of them.

But the key is how your readers respond to prices.

Replies:   Dominions Son  oddman09
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

On the other hand, 110,000 words for sci-fi stories seems to be seriously short, as the majority of sci-fi stories nowadays are huge. I guess it defends how they came up with these definitions (i.e. are they based on the actual average word count of books, or what the publishing houses count as what's 'acceptable' for submission?).


Well, the source I got this from lists the 110K for SciFi/Fantasy as an ideal length which I would think comes from publisher standards, but they also have a graph that is labeled as average lengths for actual published books which shows that same figure, 110K for SciFi/Fantasy.

It's possible that the graph is mislabeled. On the other hand, it's also possible that there are some shorter books that got published that skew the average down, the same way you describe some of the best selling mystery authors skewing the average up.

oddman09

@Crumbly Writer

Baen Books has something called the Baen Free Library, where they give away e-books by many different authors. They claimed that increased sales of the printed books, but I notice they don't add many books to that library anymore, which seems to support your observation. At least, many authors who originally supported the idea seem to be distancing themselves from it now.

On the subject of word counts, while I don't know the exact counts, Lord Foul's Bane by Stephen Donaldson has over 150,000 words, and the original published version of Magician by Raymond E Feist has over 200,000 words. Both of those authors were unknown at that time. The argument against high word counts seems to depend mainly on the high cost of printing these days and the amount of shelf space big books take up. This strongly suggests neither of those books would have been published today via traditional publishing channels. That said, with the rise of e-books (along with widespread use of e-readers in the form of smartphones, tablets and computers) and the ability to print on demand, I suspect traditional print publishers (along with traditional bookstores) are becoming increasingly irrelevant.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@oddman09

Baen Books has something called the Baen Free Library,


This was established and supported by the founder of the publishing house, and he had some very impressive figures to support his claims. However, since his death those in charge at Baen haven't been so active in supporting the BFL, so it's not been expanding so much.

docholladay

@Joe_Bondi_Beach

Even though I knew Dumas ended it at the right place (and all attempted sequels by others have failed, apparently), I finished The Count of Monte Cristo wishing it had kept going.


That is what I personally believe causes some series. The story just doesn't want to end at the planned ending. That desire for more from readers is a good indication that today's readers and publishers would have insisted on at least one or more volumes. Some writers get frustrated when the demands for more takes over their creative lives. Others just find other writers to continue the story. Similar to some of the more popular universes. Like the Damsels in Distress among others where numerous writers continue the story.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
awnlee jawking

@Ernest Bywater

Part of the backlash against traditional Science Fiction, now virtually extinct on the SciFi/Fantasy shelves of my local library, was because dead-tree publishers forced authors to write to a strict word limit and, as you say, a Science Fiction novel has all the overheads of other types of fiction plus the overhead of explaining the universe, so corners had to be cut.

There's a small but vehement group of SciFi haters in my local writers' group. They typically dislike SciFi novels because, to paraphrase, they're full of geeky stuff but short on story essentials like character and plot development.

Strangely enough, they seem to like the extracts they've seen of my work despite it being mostly SciFi, although since I count them as friends their opinions are not necessarily trustworthy.

AJ

Dominions Son

@awnlee jawking

Part of the backlash against traditional Science Fiction, now virtually extinct on the SciFi/Fantasy shelves of my local library, was because dead-tree publishers forced authors to write to a strict word limit and, as you say


What exactly are you counting as "traditional" Science Fiction? I can think of a fair number of science fiction books published by the dead-tree publishers that are over 150K words. Have you seen Battlefield Earth, the book not the movie? It's 429K words.

awnlee jawking

@Dominions Son

When I was young, the SciFi shelves of my local library were awash with yellow. IIRC, L Ron Hubbard's works were a rare exception. I tried something else of his and really didn't like it so I gave the rest of his books a wide berth. That's a decision I really should have revisited because I'm one of the miniscule number of people who actually liked the movie.

AJ

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@awnlee jawking

When I was young, the SciFi shelves of my local library were awash with yellow.


That reference means nothing to me.

IIRC, L Ron Hubbard's works were a rare exception. I tried something else of his and really didn't like it so I gave the rest of his books a wide berth.


Battlefield Earth is the first novel he wrote. Prior to that, he had only written short stories. Battlefield Earth isn't even the longest novel he wrote. His longest tips the scale at 1.2 million words.

awnlee jawking

@Dominions Son


That reference means nothing to me.


Gollancz (sp?)

I'm sure there's a modern technical term for what I term 'traditional'? Could it be 'hard'?

AJ

Replies:   Dominions Son
Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

Have you seen Battlefield Earth,


Written by a very well established author, as is most of the extremely large scifi stuff; also, he was trying to establish an income after loosing control of the Scientology movement he established. Mind you, go back far enough and most scifi stories were more novellas than anything else because the only place they could get published were in magazines like Astounding.

Ernest Bywater

@awnlee jawking

There's a small but vehement group of SciFi haters in my local writers' group.


You're lucky, the Writers' Group nearest where I live have good government funding and don't even acknowledge anyone else in the area can write unless they do the artsy poetry crap that no one buys.

Replies:   Bondi Beach
Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son


Battlefield Earth is the first novel he wrote.


Wrong - first saga he wrote, but he'd done novels before that. 18 going back as far as 1935.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L._Ron_Hubbard_bibliography

Dominions Son

@awnlee jawking

I'm sure there's a modern technical term for what I term 'traditional'? Could it be 'hard'?


Googling Gollancz (spelling is correct), he was a publisher in the late 19th century to mid 20th century.

A yellow cover seems to be a bit of a trade mark for him.

"Hard" SciFi would not be what you are looking for.

SciFi comes in three basic flavors:

Hard: Science/technology plays a central roll and the science presented is meticulously accurate to what is known in the real world at the time.

Science Fantasy: Technology that plays a central role that is pushing the boundaries of Clark's Third law (Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic). Star Trek, Star Wars.

Soft: I don't know if this is an official category. The name is mine AFIK. These are people stories set in a future setting with advanced technology, but science/tech plays a secondary role at best and is never described in detail. For me, Ray Bradbury would be the iconic author in this category.

While these sub categories of SciFi are a modern conception, there is science fiction that fits in all three categories going all the way back to the 19th century. For what was known at the time, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea would definitely be in the Science Fantasy category.

From my Google results:

Not every book Gollancz published was Science Fiction at all.

The Science Fiction he did publish would cover all three categories above.

Actually, from your comments I think you may be thinking of the Soft Science Fiction category.

However, If you actually compare even the earliest Science Fiction, stories that are considered Science Fiction today but predate the recognition of Science Fiction as a separate genre, and compare them to the cutting edge science of their day, I don't thing you can call any of these categories more "traditional" than any other.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Bondi Beach

@Ernest Bywater

You're lucky, the Writers' Group nearest where I live have good government funding and don't even acknowledge anyone else in the area can write unless they do the artsy poetry crap that no one buys.


Robert G. Ballard loved to tweak the "artsy poetry crap" crowd. From an obit: "''Bob didn't have much time for the literary establishment and the feeling was mutual,'' wrote Funnell in a recent tribute. Well-known as a stirrer, he would appear at writers' festivals (reluctantly) with a stripper under each arm, or wearing a Helen Demidenko T-shirt soon after the young author and poseur had left the literati red-faced."

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/obituaries/larrikin-the-star-of-popular-fiction-20121002-26xfw.html#ixzz49QBqtpmp
Follow us: @smh on Twitter | sydneymorningherald on Facebook

bb

awnlee jawking

@Dominions Son

I may be wrong but space operas would seem to belong more to 'Science Fantasy' than soft. Perhaps other oldies would like to contribute - surely I'm not the only person here who used to be an avid Gollancz reader.

AJ

Replies:   Dominions Son
richardshagrin
Updated:

Before Science Fiction was a recognized genre (probably by Hugo Gernsback who called it scientifiction, for whom the Hugo award for best SF was named) there was Johnathan Swift, with Gulliver's Travels and his very short and very tall people and talking horses and Verne and H. G. Wells but SF mostly was pulp magazines like Astounding published by Street and Smith. And it had novels, but in serial form. Most of Heinlein's early novels were serials. Some of them under other pen names, John W. Campbell didn't want more than one story an issue by the same author. And sometimes the amount per word the magazine could pay influenced if RAH would use his real name on a story or accept less and use another name.

Dominions Son

@awnlee jawking

I may be wrong but space operas would seem to belong more to 'Science Fantasy' than soft.


Yes, most space opera would be Science Fantasy, however, some space operas could arguably be considered soft science fiction and it could arguably be considered a fourth sub category on it's own.

However, from what I saw on Google, Gollancz published at least some soft science fiction, a few that could possibly be considered hard science fiction, as well as things that weren't science fiction at all.

So, even having looked him up on line and knowing who Gollancz is and his connection to yellow covers, it still wouldn't point me at "space opera' at all.

Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@docholladay

Note: Damn, Lazeez's crazy "matched tags" ate my response once again. Here's my best recollection of what I originally said--though most of it was permanently deleted.

That is what I personally believe causes some series. The story just doesn't want to end at the planned ending. That desire for more from readers is a good indication that today's readers and publishers would have insisted on at least one or more volumes. Some writers get frustrated when the demands for more takes over their creative lives.

In my case, I knew my planned ending for my 6-book "Catalyst" series when I first started. I didn't know how many books it would eventually take--since that was largely based on the focus of each. On the other hand, I'd intended my "Great Death" series as being a single book. It was only after I'd posted/published it that I saw a new creative direction for a sequel which made the story worth writing. Then again, the biggest criticism of my "Building a Legacy" wasn't the ending but the fact I killed off the main character--a major plot point hinted at throughout the story--because it cut off any additional sequels.

Publishers are now insisting that many first-time writers submit 3-book sequels instead of single books, but for most authors, we know when to end a story. Some authors fall in love with their characters as their fans (ex: Jason Borne or James Bond). The key is: if you can create something new with each book, it's worth continuing. However, if you're just churning out more books like the earlier ones, then it's generally not worth wasting your readers time. (My personal opinion.)

Replies:   docholladay
docholladay

@Crumbly Writer

Publishers are now insisting that many first-time writers submit 3-book sequels instead of single books, but for most authors, we know when to end a story. Some authors fall in love with their characters as their fans (ex: Jason Borne or James Bond). The key is: if you can create something new with each book, it's worth continuing. However, if you're just churning out more books like the earlier ones, then it's generally not worth wasting your readers time. (My personal opinion.)


I think its the unexpected sequels that are the surprise and hardest on both the writer and the publishers. They can try and force that not to happen, but how many of those 3-book sequels really get published.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@docholladay

I think its the unexpected sequels that are the surprise and hardest on both the writer and the publishers. They can try and force that not to happen, but how many of those 3-book sequels really get published.

From what I understand (from people who've been offered the contracts), they aren't that uncommon. Instead, they'll be offered a potential contract and told to 'come back when you have a three-book sequence', though all they really need is the plan for the full three books, rather than a finished product (i.e. they don't need the books initially, but the contracts require a three-book sequence).

The gotcha, as always, is that few published authors ever make diddly. Traditional publishers publish loads of authors who then never sell more than they can personally push onto their friends and relatives. If the first book doesn't sell, the publisher is unlikely to press for subsequent books, but given the terms of the contract, they can't publish anywhere else until they complete their initial contract--meaning it's essentially a 'give up your career if the books don't sell' contract!

Granted, I've never been offered one myself. 'D

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

The gotcha, as always, is that few published authors ever make diddly.


It's worse than that. From what I have read, many authors who are offered an advance end up owing the publisher money because the advance comes out of their royalties which never come to enough to cover the advance. The royalties never cover the advance because they charge overhead and marking costs against the book's gross revenues before calculating royalties.

Aspiring recording artists/bands run into the same problem.

Aspiring actors/actresses also run into a similar problem. If you aren't a big enough star to have negotiating leverage, you find out that the fine print says your royalties are calculated on the show's/movie's net rather than gross earnings. And so many palms get greased in the process that there are often no net earnings.

docholladay

@Crumbly Writer

A long running practice, just with a different variation. They love to lock new writers into contracts where they are only allowed to publish though a certain publisher. Those contracts have been major traps for writers for at least 50 years that I know of and probably longer.

In a way its a gamble but the only ones running a risk is the writer. If the writer's stories become major sellers, they still get paid the minimum for a new writer instead of what they really should be paid. At the same time, the writer is not allowed to publish with any other publisher or medium until the contract is completed.

Replies:   oddman09
oddman09

@docholladay

It's a trap for more than just new writers. One of my favorite authors while I was growing up was Leonard F Meares. Under various genres and pen names (mostly westerns using the name Marshall Grover), he had more than 700 books published and a fairly devoted fan following. But in 1991, his publisher told him not to write more books for a while since they had a backlog of his material already awaiting publication. And after that, they only wanted a reduced volume of material which they would only make available to a more limited audience.

His response was to look for another publisher, but he found that his contract prevented him from using his most well known pen name (Marshall Grover) and his most well known characters (Larry & Stretch) anywhere else. And that's despite his regular publisher not wanting to fully use those assets. It's not enough to have talent and a good reputation with the buying public, if an artist really wants to do well financially, they need to be both a master of business and a legal eagle (or at least make sure they have people with those skills advising them).

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