Cantina band, the Star Wars Shop in Aberdeen, WA.
Photo © 2012, 2013, Joseph E. Lake, Jr.
This work by Joseph E. Lake, Jr. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
So a couple nights ago I sat down to work on STONE’S THROE and came to a moment when I needed to describe Amelia’s motorcycle. I went looking for a picture, and…well, I found one. Except it became clear as I read about it that the in-character-defined motorcycle…basically didn’t exist. Even in 1917. It was essentially a prototype, hand-built in 1909 by a kid in Italy to pursue a racing career. Over the next fifteen years or so he developed a line that went into mass production in the 20s and became quite a name by the early 30s…but in 1917, there was just no way Amelia was going to pick a bike like that up on the street in Paris.
After half an hour of increasingly dismayed research I emailed Fred and said does it have to be this kind of bike…? No, it didn’t, thank goodness, even if it’s established as such.
This is the kind of detail that I would normally skip to deal with later, because most of the time it’s not worth getting bogged down on something the big picture of the story can do without. Except I had no idea this time that when I went to look for a picture that it would lead down an extended research hole instead. Whoops. :)
I sure know a lot more about early-make motorcycles now than I ever expected to. :)
(x-posted from The Essential Kit)
by Caren Gussoff
Note: Part One appears here: Lit Fic Mags for Spec Fic Writers 101
This may seem totally obvious, but is actually worth a deeper dive: if you want to market your speculative fiction to literary markets, it has to be significantly literary. Literary markets, though they may protest that they do not like/accept/read speculative fiction, actually do publish fiction with fantastic and futuristically elements all the time. But these stories are also, usually, highly literary. So, before you start packing up stories and entering them into the slush waiting room, you should really discern whether a literary audience is the appropriate audience for your piece…since this is the single most important thing editors will be subconsciously reading for.
Defining “literary” is slippery. If you search around, writers, teachers, and critics have written countless — often contradictory — descriptions of what makes something literary (verses mainstream or for a general readership/”popular”). They discuss everything from what the fiction looks like on the page to the authorial intent behind the piece as “qualifiers” (there’s also the derogatory saws about lit fic: that it is, by nature, self-indulgent, elitist in language and subject matter, or the cookie-cutter end-result of too many writer’s workshops and MFA programs).
In terms of speculative fiction, the shorthand has often been that anything far on either side of the continuum (sword and sorcery on one side, hard sci fi on the other) is usually not literary, while those in the muddy middle — such as urban fantasy, magical realism and soft sci fi, for instance — can be literary.
Back in, oh...October, I guess, 2012, a couple folks who are interested in the nittier-grittier part of our careers asked me to let them know if Dragon Ship earned out. I agreed to do that, though they may have thought I'd forgotten about them by now.
In point of fact, Dragon Ship, by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, published in two hardcover editions in September 2012, has earned out. I know this because we have received the royalty reports for January-June 2013, covering sales made during the six months prior to that period, aka July-December 2012.
Y'all didn't believe me when I told you that the Wheels of Publishing Grind Slow, did you?
While I'm here, let me address a couple of other frequent questions.
A question that we're asked frequently, with regard to all of our books, is "Where do you make the most money, from paper sales or from esales?"
Based on this batch of royalty statements, it looks like print still has a slim sales edge, for new books. Books that have been out for awhile (I give you Mouse and Dragon, the gift that keeps on giving) seem to have stronger esales.
The third frequent question has to do with how well our indie ebooks, offered through Pinbeam Books, sell. This is often part of a conversation about how it's no longer in the best interest of authors to be yoked to a trad publisher.
So, the indie sales more than pay the mortgage every month, which is pretty good for something that's a sideline, which we don't promote, and only update the inventory sporadically. We have seen sales fall off since early 2011, when we first started making the chapbooks available electronically.
I think there are two reasons for that. One is that when the Kindles and the Nooks were Hot Items that everybody had to have, all those people with their new toys tried to make sure that all their favorite books were on the toys. There was, in a word, a Great eBook Rush.
The second reason is that Steve and I are simply not bearing down and making new eChapbooks available every month or two. See "sideline," above.
Regarding the larger discussion of Trad Publishing vs. Total Author Control. . .our experience has shown -- since 1995, when SRM Publisher published it's first paper chapbook, Two Tales of Korval by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller -- that a hybrid approach to publishing -- some trad, some self-publishing -- is the path that produces the greater rewards.
Anybody have any other nitty-gritty publish-y type questions? Now's the time to ask.
EDITED TO ADD: This just in, from Forbes: How Much Money Do Self-Published Authors Make?