Musicians Have Taylor Swift To Champion Fairness; Who Do Writers Have?

Taylor Swift, Fairness Warrior @ FB Timeline
Taylor Swift, Fairness Warrior; image @ FB Timeline

Even if you don’t pay attention to whatever elements of Taylor Swift’s life make the media on a given day, one would be hard-pressed to have missed the weekend’s brouhaha with Swift vs. Apple Music. Say what you will about the girl—her fluffy songs, her digitally-enhanced vocals, or her madcap rise to fame—she knows how to use a bully pulpit.

In a nutshell: after Apple Music announced their new streaming service on June 8th to much excitement and fanfare, it quickly became clear that the three-month trial period offered as enticement to joining artists came with some decidedly unappreciated fine print. It seems any music sold during those three months would NOT earn royalties for the artists, writers, and producers who signed up and whose music was being sold. Which meant those free three months, marketed as a “join-up gift,” were really a gift to Apple, allowing them to rake in whatever revenues were earned from those “trial” artists bereft of any payout to the artists themselves. Cold. Calculating. Greedy. And Ms. Swift would have none of it.

She not only withdrew her own latest (and wildly successful) album, 1989, from the steaming service, she took to her Tumblr page on June 21st with an open-letter to Apple. I’m going to put the whole thing here because I think her points (the most salient of which I’ve highlighted) are so important:

I write this to explain why I’ll be holding back my album, 1989, from the new streaming service, Apple Music. I feel this deserves an explanation because Apple has been and will continue to be one of my best partners in selling music and creating ways for me to connect with my fans. I respect the company and the truly ingenious minds that have created a legacy based on innovation and pushing the right boundaries.

I’m sure you are aware that Apple Music will be offering a free 3 month trial to anyone who signs up for the service. I’m not sure you know that Apple Music will not be paying writers, producers, or artists for those three months. I find it to be shocking, disappointing, and completely unlike this historically progressive and generous company.

This is not about me. Thankfully I am on my fifth album and can support myself, my band, crew, and entire management team by playing live shows. This is about the new artist or band that has just released their first single and will not be paid for its success. This is about the young songwriter who just got his or her first cut and thought that the royalties from that would get them out of debt. This is about the producer who works tirelessly to innovate and create, just like the innovators and creators at Apple are pioneering in their field…but will not get paid for a quarter of a year’s worth of plays on his or her songs.

These are not the complaints of a spoiled, petulant child. These are the echoed sentiments of every artist, writer and producer in my social circles who are afraid to speak up publicly because we admire and respect Apple so much. We simply do not respect this particular call.

I realize that Apple is working towards a goal of paid streaming. I think that is beautiful progress. We know how astronomically successful Apple has been and we know that this incredible company has the money to pay artists, writers and producers for the 3 month trial period… even if it is free for the fans trying it out.

Three months is a long time to go unpaid, and it is unfair to ask anyone to work for nothing. I say this with love, reverence, and admiration for everything else Apple has done. I hope that soon I can join them in the progression towards a streaming model that seems fair to those who create this music. I think this could be the platform that gets it right.

But I say to Apple with all due respect, it’s not too late to change this policy and change the minds of those in the music industry who will be deeply and gravely affected by this. We don’t ask you for free iPhones. Please don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation.

Taylor

THANK YOU

All I could say was, “Brava, Ms. Swift!” Especially after it was announced, just hours after Swift’s note, that Apple Music not only heard her, they were, indeed, changing their policy. From The Huffington Post:

On Sunday evening, Apple responded to Taylor Swift’s rallying cry to fairly compensate artists. “We hear you @taylorswift13 and indie artists,” Apple’s Senior Vice President of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue tweeted. Cue announced the tech giant will in fact pay artists for streaming services during the free trial period of Apple Music.

The power of protest. The power of standing up to behemoths of the industry to make clear that policies rooted in unfairness and lack of respect for the talent, hard work, and expended resources of artists, will not, and should not, stand. Kudos to Apple for getting the point and making the needed changes. Win/win all around. 

But what about writers? What about the novelists, non-fiction writers; essayists and article writers; in fact, any writer who’s creating work being posted, sold, or used by anyone else (i.e., book sale sites, news sites, resource sites, company websites, etc.)? This group of artists does not, at least not that I’m aware of, have a champion akin to Taylor Swift putting their own work on the line to protest for fairer industry practices. Instead, I see piece after piece cajoling writers to give their work away for free as “enmaeavatar_biggerticement” to new readers. I see content wranglers justifying non-payment in lieu of “online real estate,” calling it the “Huff Post formula” (forgetting that Huff Post actually has a level of exposure few other places do, and really, who need more “online real estate”??). I see sites like Amazon parsing subscription formulas to pay royalties based on how many pages of a book are actually read, as opposed to the purchase of the book itself (tell me, when were we ever allowed to pay for just the amount of a meal we ate at a restaurant??). All of these tactics, and others, are designed to benefit the purveyors of that content and the readers of that content, with little consideration for the creators of that content. Which is wrong. And pretty much the exact argument Swift was making to Apple. 

In fact, she made a similar point last year regarding Spotify, another music streaming service, reiterating her view of the “value of art” in an interview at Yahoo Music:

“I’m not willing to contribute my life’s work to an experiment that I don’t feel fairly compensates the writers, producers, artists, and creators of this music. And I just don’t agree with perpetuating the perception that music has no value and should be free.

I felt like I was saying to my fans, ‘If you create music someday, if you create a painting someday, someone can just walk into a museum, take it off the wall, rip off a corner off it, and it’s theirs now and they don’t have to pay for it.’  I didn’t like the perception that it was putting forth. And so I decided to change the way I was doing things.

Yes! Exactly! What’s with the perception that art has little or no value? That artists are somehow obligated to give their work away simply because it’s on the Internet and there’s that strange, persistent, unsupported “cultural think” that if it’s on the Internet it should be free? NO, IT SHOULDN’T! The Internet is like a store. A store where people put up the stuff they’re selling. It’s not a free box on the side of the road; it’s a place for commerce. As Taylor says, we don’t ask for free iPhones, so why free art? 

read your novel

But, sadly, we in the book/writing business don’t have a champion like Swift. The 2014 kerfuffle between Amazon and Hatchette was just a snit-fest between the Big 5 and big Amazon; it had nothing to do with fair compensation for indie writers. And, let’s face it, the proliferation of sites screaming “FREE & BARGAIN BOOKS!!” has exploded, creating a demographic of readers that simply expect books to either be free or so effing cheap the profit margin wouldn’t afford the author a latte while writing the next book they’ll be browbeaten to “donate” to the undiscerning public.

I can hear Taylor screaming in her jasmine-scented soundproofed vocal booth.

That's not how it works

Clearly, I’m no Taylor Swift. There are no legions of fans hanging on my every word; no one cares with whom I’m holding hands. I’m not tall, skinny, and loaded with a Brinks vault of awards. I have no power over any industry (though there was a time my catering captain skills were in demand!), and the only thing of mine Apple respects is a decent purchase history of phones and computers. But still… I’ve been around a long time, I’ve got artistic bona fides, and some have said (though I can’t remember who), I’ve got a good head on my shoulders. So if I had a bully pulpit, this is what I’d say:

Perpetuating the perception that independent books have little value and should be free or sold for ridiculously low prices is deleterious to the true merit, status, and negotiating power of independent authors. This is not about greed or the overvaluation of unknown writers; this is about the artistry and hard work that goes into creating good books. Excellent books. Books that, if agents and publishers were wrangling them in the traditional publishing world, would be bestsellers. Instead, those authors are struggling to find footing in a slippery marketplace that can’t seem to discern between mediocre and masterful, and values/devalues it as “all the same.” 

Which is folly. If an amateur wants to crank out an unpolished tome to put on Amazon for family/friend consumption, giving that book away for free or one or two bucks, so be it. But if a skilled, professional, highly qualified author puts years in, hires experts to produce, and publishes a masterful book (and I know many of those excellent authors and their excellent books), those books deserve to be sold at prices comparable to any other excellent book being traditionally published. Anything else creates a two-tiered system that designates one group as worthy, the other as not. Which is inherently unfair and vastly misguided, as what publishing category a book belongs to does not necessarily indicate its excellence.

This is about us indie writers and our industry taking a stand to determine that the perceived value of our art is commensurate with any other valued art, and, subsequently, demanding commensurate and fair payment for that art. Let “free” be a choice, not a mandate.

Okay, I’m done. I’m gonna go now and “Shake It Off”! 

Related articles you might find interesting:
I’m Not Interested In FREE Books 
Free Books: Marketing Genius or Devaluation of Writers?
Free Book Promotions: How Good ARE They For Writers?

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Visit www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for details and links to LDW’s books, music, photography, and articles.

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Writer or Author? What To Call Whom and Other Industry Silliness

writer author copy

A writing colleague of mine sent me an interesting article recently; wanted my opinion on a piece written by a book blogger with a rather fierce agenda about who gets to call themselves an “author” these days. The piqued pontificator asserted that there are fundamental distinctions to be made between “author” and “writer,” nuances he deemed essential to preventing confusion in the literal and virtual book-buying marketplace.

And here I thought readers just wanted to know which were the good books!

This inexplicably grumpy guy (who shall remain nameless and linkless in a nod to collegial decorum), purports to have his finger on the pulse of the book industry’s beating heart, and takes personal umbrage at our loosey-goosey tendency to let just anyone use the term “author.” Since it’s a matter of great importance to him, and, unfortunately, many others in this rapidly evolving marketplace, I decided to give his thesis a whirl:

According to our parsing pundit, the title of “author” applies only within this very limited parameter: a writer who makes a living with the books they write. Their full-time living. No side-jobs. No article writing, copyediting, babysitting; mowing of the neighbor’s lawn, or even the occasional catering gig. If there is any under-the-table commerce unrelated to the business of the book, well then, they are not an author. They are just a writer.

Why that assignation—writer— is considered lesser, I do not know; but, apparently, it is.

Obviously this semantical corralling would include most self-published authors—I mean, writers—because, except for the select few who’ve managed to self-publish their way to enviable fame and fortune, the rest are busy selling real estate, proofing web copy, or teaching grade schoolers while pursuing their passion on the side…and until they hit their literary jackpot. Our bitching blogger believes distinctions are to be made for these folks.

But even if you agree with him, I have to ask: why should the distinction matter…to anyone? And yet it does. To that particular blogger and others I’ve encountered along the way. So much so that self-publishers who dare refer themselves as “authors” are likened, in some ways, to paralegals posing as attorneys, interns marching hospitals in doctor whites, or security guards puffed up like the NYPD Blue. In other words: pretenders, imposters, frauds.

Really? The distinctions between writer and author are SO carved in stone as to allow the Word Police to pejoratively deny one group use of the more vaunted descriptive of author?  Well, how ’bout we leave it to the dictionary? 

Author: noun; 1. a person who writes a novel, poem, essay, etc.; the composer of a literary work; 2. the literary production or productions of a writer; 3. the maker of anything; creator; originator. Verb: to write; be the author of:

That seems clear. Shall we continue?

Writer: Noun: 1. a person engaged in writing books, articles, stories, etc., especially as an occupation or profession; an author or journalist. [emphasis added]

Yep, as interchangeable as driver and motorist, teacher and educator; trapeze artist and aerialist. More importantly, did you note the first, most important definition of “writer”? According to the dictionary, it’s the writer who’s identified as the professional, not the author!

Holy bloviating blogger, that drops the whole theory on its head!

But while I poke fun at the condescension of said cynic and his ilk, the sad fact remains that they are emblematic of many who marginalize independent, self-published authors as dilettantes and amateurs, relegating them (sometimes literally) to card tables in the back room rather than up on the dais with the “real authors.” Fair? No. But the nose-snubbing endures.

It likely began with the vanity press, that notorious business model that gave amateur writers the opportunity to publish their work for a fee. The narcissism of the option was presumed: anyone who would pay to have their own book made, a book they obviously couldn’t get published through professional means, must surely be a vainglorious sort.

Forget that they might have just wanted a few copies to leave the family.

Self-pub meme

But moving past vanity presses came the even more paradigm-shifting digital revolution, which first hit the music industry like a hurricane, forcing analogue studios into Pro Tools machines, and traditional record companies upside-down-you-turn-me. No one was sure how to adjust (it’s still a conundrum…see Taylor Swift and Spotify; see Apple and Spotify, see Spotify and Pandora…), but adjustments were and continue to be made. And artists who’d previously been kept outside the gates were suddenly making and selling their own, affordably recorded, music, while payment formulas, arcane to begin with, went up in smoke. No one knows how anyone’s making a living these days, but there’s lots of great music and many excellent (heretofore ignored) singers, songwriters, bands, and musicians who are finally able to get their work out there. That, alone, is worth a great deal to a great many.

Are they, then—those scratching out a living however they can while playing gigs, hawking CDs, and keeping hope alive on the Internet—allowed to call themselves musicians, recording artists, bands, and so on? Of course! Because they actually are all those things. How they get their art produced and delivered, or how much money they’re able to accrue in the process, has zero bearing on their talent, skill, or the value and artistry of their work.

Or what they’re called.

Is it all good work? No. But it never was all good work, even when record companies were stationed like trolls at the gate. But much of it is astonishing music that would have never seen the light of day under the old regime. And now it’s the audience, the marketplace, that not only has access to many more artists by virtue of this democratization, but will be the arbiter of just how the supply and demand piece plays out.

That same paradigm shift is happening in book publishing.

Since sites like Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo, iBooks, IngramSparks and others have created platforms for independent authors to upload, publish, and sell their work, similar fears, criticisms, and condescensions have percolated. But just as those who naysay indie musicians tend to be backward travelers, so, too, are the curmudgeons who’d generalize, dismiss, and denigrate independent authors across the boards.

Because the talent, skill, and artistry of authors is not based on whether or not they fit the narrow demands of publishers scrambling to stay relevant (or solvent); nor is it based on whether the sum total of dollars they’re able to earn is enough to cover their bills. No; the talent, skill and artistry of authors is based on…drum roll…the talent, skill, and artistry of each individual author. Period.

Is every book by a self-published author a good one? No, of course not. That’s been established. But many are as profound, as resonating, as any good book sitting on the shelf at Barnes & Noble. And, conversely, all one has to do is ferret through a book bin at CVS, peruse the racks at an airport, or consider some of the most viral of bestsellers put out by traditional publishers to find examples of the kind of drek that makes our blogger’s teeth grind.

It’s past time for the media, the publishing industry, book stores, and cultural taste-makers to move beyond elitist, myopic attitudes about the clearly indefatigable self-publishing world. As that demographic evolves, the authors within it will raise their own bar to demand the highest standards from its members: constructive peer pressure designed to make sure the steps are taken, the funds invested, and the necessary work done to deliver the most excellent books possible. And what will happen then is that more and more of those authors will break through the barriers to slowly but surely make more money, get more attention, and find their way onto bestseller lists, award tables, Kindles, and bed stands of discerning readers.

Because they are authors, just as the dictionary confirms: “writers creating original, literary works.” Which is exactly what self-published and independent authors have been doing all along.

Image courtesy of Wellcome Images @ Wikimedia Commons

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Visit www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for details and links to LDW’s books, music, photography, and articles.

My Early Christmas Present: the B.R.A.G. Medallion For After The Sucker Punch

All gussied up with a B.R.A.G. Medallion!
All gussied up with a B.R.A.G. Medallion!

One of the most challenging aspects of being an indie author is the sheer volume of tasks related to marketing your own book. What traditionally published authors look to their publishers to offer, or at least implement, in terms of promotion and marketing, indie authors do all by their lonesome, unless they are fortunate enough to be able to work with a publicist (which I’ll be doing on my next book!). And given the staggering number of books flooding the self-publishing marketplace (reportedly 500,000 in just the US in 2013), finding ways to get your book pulled out of the rumbling pack is a tug-of-war like no other!

So when you get a boost from a group, an organization, that is not only well-regarded in the publishing industry, deeply involved in promoting self-published authors, and very selective about the books it chooses to award their prestigious B.R.A.G. Medallion, you feel a little bit like Christmas came early. Which is how I felt when I got the news this week that my debut novel, After The Sucker Punch, has been selected for a Medallion.

IndieBRAG was founded by Founder and President, Geraldine Clouston, with a mission statement to “to recognize quality on the part of authors who self-publish both print and digital books.” From author Alison Morton’s interview with Ms. Clouston at Roma Nova:

One fearsome, but in a way reassuring, statistic is that IndieBRAG rejects 90% of books that it considers. Not quite two years old, it already has an excellent reputation as a serious “Guardian at the Gate”. At the recent Self-Published Book Expo in New York, IndieBRAG presented an authoritative report on self-publishing and was the only panel out of 17 filmed by C-SPAN’s Book TV

What is the background to you starting IndieBRAG?
Several years ago my husband and I attended the Self-Publishing Book Expo in New York City for the first time. We were, of course, not surprised to find many self-published authors at the Expo who were looking for help. However, we were surprised to discover that after these authors had published their books very few of them knew what to do next. We quickly realized that with the explosion of self-publishing, it is very hard for an indie author to get any attention for their book. And more to the point, given that much of what is self-published is not worth a reader’s time or money, it is a major challenge for a good self-published book to rise above the rest.

Tell us about your process for evaluating self-published work.
After a book is nominated through our website it is subjected to a rigorous selection process. This entails an initial screening to ensure that the author’s work meets certain minimum standards of quality and content. If it passes this preliminary assessment it is then read by members drawn from our reader group. We have over 150 readers in 11 countries who regularly read self-published books for us. They judge the merits of the book based on a comprehensive list of criteria, the most important of which is whether or not they would recommend it to their best friend. If a book meets our high standards, we award it our B.R.A.G. Medallion and present it on our website.

There are two important things to note about our process- First, we are not agents, literary experts, or publishers. We are simply ordinary people who are passionate about reading books; the same people who buy books. And second, we do not permit any contact between our readers and authors, or other readers. This gives the reader an opportunity to make a decision without any undue influence from anyone.

[To read the read of the interview, click here.]

I’m not only deeply honored to have my book in such good company, I’m delighted to be part of a “family” so passionately focused on independent authors putting out excellent work and raising the bar on what can be expected from artists working outside the traditional publishing paradigm. It’s encouraging to me as an individual author and it’s empowering to the entire indie movement. Suffice it to say, I’m thrilled!

I encourage you to go to the IndieBRAG site not only to check out my page, but to view and explore the work of the many other  authors who’ve been selected for this distinguished honor. I know many of you are avid readers always looking for the best in books  to add to your libraries; IndieBRAG is a great place to find titles that have been carefully vetted and selected with the highest standards in mind.

Thank you, IndieBRAG, for honoring my book. A very Merry Christmas to you too!

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Visit www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for details and links to LDW’s books, music, photography, and articles.

OK, Let’s Discuss This Whole Book Review Thing… Please

read your novel
“Oh, yes… 5-STARS GUARANTEED!!”

I spent some time chatting with a group of writers today, discussing a topic that seems to not only be tripping up indie authors in a variety of ways, but contributing to the persistence of stigmas and attitudes about the self-publishing “brand” in general:

REVIEWS.

Coveted, powerful, manipulated; misguided reviews.

It was a spirited debate — though, in truth, everyone was in agreement — focused squarely on the corrosive effect of what some in the discussion called the “5-Star Circle” and the “Review Swap Gang.”

For those unaware, the 5-Star Circle is that loose contingent of indie author who will automatically award 5-star reviews to colleagues regardless of the quantifiable merits of their books. This is done, purportedly, to show support for fellow self-pubbers, but there’s also an unspoken quid quo pro element at work, assuring that the 5-star-wielding reviewer will be gifted in kind. The Review Swap Gang is essentially an off-shoot, a more organized venture whereby authors agree to write reviews for each other and I don’t think anyone need guess how rife with corruptible possibilities that deal might be!

I expect a holler at this point, an insistence by some in the self-publishing world that they will and do and always give honest, authentic reviews regardless of how swappers review their own books, and, hey, it’s possible. But what’s also possible (and likely probable) is an inherent awkwardness to the set-up, the politics involved if, say, they give you a good review and you don’t return the favor. In fact, I spoke to one author who confessed that he often gives weak, inept books much higher than deserved ratings for the sake of group politics. Another spoke of feeling pressured within professional friendships to do the same; someone else mentioned not wanting to spark trollish behavior from disgruntled authors unhappy with their “swap.”

And the result of all this? Far too many poorly executed and amateurishly written books sporting a raft of undeserved 5-star reviews from gushing (or, perhaps, intimidated) “friends” who apparently don’t see the value of creative accountability; a fact that has the long-term effect of misguiding readers and perpetuating negative attitudes about all self-published writers, even those whose work is worthy of the accolades.

There’s a book blogger I happen to like, Tara Sparling, who regularly offers sharp (and very funny) analysis of the self-publishing world on her blog, Tara Sparling Writes (check out her posts about book covers, fonts, and what compels readers to choose — or not choose — self-published novels). She recently wrote a piece on the topic of reviews, Why 5-Star Book Reviews Are Utter Rubbish, that triggered a strong reaction from readers on the title alone (my response is in the comment section). Tara offered seven reasons in support of her thesis, some of which echoed my own points; for example:

“One 5-star review is ok. But, if there are only 7 reviews in total and all of them are all 5 stars, I don’t believe a single one of them.”

OK, I’m not sure I wouldn’t believe a one… maybe, but she lost me a bit on the next sentence:

“So I disregard the lot and vow never to read the book instead. Which rather defeats the purpose.”

I got her point, but took umbrage with the resolution. Since I am not a swapper, nor a review solicitor, I can’t control what reviewers end up saying about my work and certainly don’t want to be discounted out-of-hand — by Tara or anyone else — if the lot of them happen to honestly like my book! I made this rebuttal in my comment; she graciously took the point, as well as similar points made, allowing that, yes, if a book truly deserves 5-stars, wonderful. But the more salient issue is that, like me, like others, she finds solid reason to raise a ruckus on the topic, a shared impulse that indicates just how transparently corrupt this reviewing thing has become.

Look, the value of reviews to anyone selling anything — whether a toaster, movie, restaurant, or book — is indisputable. But the politics of reviews has turned the process into a sort of creepy, virtual-payola scenario that’s about as manipulative as A&R thugs dropping cash-packs and trip tickets into the laps of slick fingered radio programmers. And when we’ve got countless threads on Goodreads hawking “swap requests,” Yelp choked with either phony take-downs or BFF gush-fests, and Amazon battling some version of the same on all kinds of products (including books), we’ve lost the point of the endeavor… for honest people to leave honest responses to just how much they did or didn’t like something. Period.

Here’s my personal stance: I do not want ONE, not one, review on my author page that is not authentic or honestly felt. Whatever “star” rating or review comments you think my work warrants based on your truthful, visceral response to my book, that’s what I want you to leave. Don’t troll, don’t be irrational or other-agenda’d; but don’t feel obligated, under any circumstances, to leave a puffed-up, bullshit review. If you’re uncomfortable about what you might honestly have to say, I’d rather you not leave anything than an unauthentically positive review. And I mean that. An unearned “star” should mean nothing to any of us.

To my indie author colleagues: Please understand that I will not leave a 4- or 5-star review on work that does not warrant it based on my experience and perceptions as a writer and my response as a reader. It doesn’t matter how famous you are, how much I support your efforts, how well I like you, or how much you’ve done for me. But, taking into account the shared obstacles and challenges of being in this self-publishing game together, the best I can agree to is that I won’t leave a decidedly negative review on your page (which, in this world, appears to be anything below 4- or 5-stars!). If you know I’ve read your book and want my response privately, I will be happy to share it with you.

And one more thing: PLEASE, please, indie authors, do not rant on social media about your negative reviews and do not ask fellow writers to go to your Amazon page to make any response to them. Both the rant and the request are not only distasteful, but utterly unprofessional. As is presuming a negative review is automatically undeserved, unauthentic, or written by a troll. Let’s please, for God’s sake, have some grace and dignity and take our hits where they come. Every reader has the right to their honest response no matter how many reviews they’ve written. And if you truly believe a troll is having his/her way with you, handle it privately. Don’t play creative-victim in an effort to engage fellow writers to circle the wagons; we all have to stand by our work, good, bad or in-between.

The impact of all these shenanigans is that readers — the very people we’re hoping to engage — can no longer count on reviews to guide them to what they might enjoy or find excellent.  Personally, I’ve now downloaded far too many books by self-published authors — abundant in stellar reviews — that were, ultimately, poorly written. I’ve spent my money and my time only to either not finish a book, or to put it aside with a shake of my head and a growing uneasiness about what all of this is doing to the self-publishing world at large.

For now, though I’m being much more selective about the books I buy, I still believe in the movement and will continue to support my indie colleagues, particularly those who’ve earned my reader loyalty, as I hope they will support me. But I will continue to candidly address the issues we face, holding out hope that we as a group learn from our mistakes and honestly strive to be better. More professional. More demanding. Of ourselves… and our fellow authors.

Related articles: 

• Who Do We Have To _____ To Get a Little Respect Around Here? 
• The Persistence of Self-Publishing Stigmas and How To Transcend Them

Cartoon by Kudelka

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Visit www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for details and links to LDW’s books, music, photography, and articles.

Hey, After The Sucker Punch, You Look REAL Good Up On That Book Shelf…

ATSP @ Skylight Bookstore

Oh, isn’t it just the dream of every writer to see their book up on the shelf of a real, live, brick & mortar bookstore, sitting there next to the famous writers with their famous books, looking not only like they belong in that spot but fit right in with the “big kids”?

Yep.

So given that I’m a leave-no-stone-unturned kinda dreamweaver, I decided to see just how successful I could be at getting my independently published debut novel, After The Sucker Punch, beyond Amazon and the online marketplace and actually into bookstores where perusing patrons could stumble upon it and, hallelujah, pick it up.

First I contacted Skylight Books in Los Angeles, “what a neighborhood bookstore should be,” to make a pitch. The contact person sent me straight to their book buyer to see if he was interested. Gulp…

He was interested! “I’d like to buy 2 copies for the store and see how it does,” said the book buyer, and off those two copies went. I visited them yesterday (see above) and they look mighty comfortable on the shelf right above Meg Wolitzer’s NYTimes Bestseller, The Interestings, don’t you think? I urge Los Angeles area book lovers to find their way into this very cool bookstore and pick up a copy (or two… there’s two, remember? :)… cuz I want to be sure “how it does” is some version of “it does really well”!

Here’s the information:

SKYLIGHT BOOKS
1818 N Vermont Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 660-1175

They don’t have a local authors section, so just find your way to the “W’s”… (hence, that Wolizter proximity!).

But I wasn’t about to stop there. Two books in one cool bookstore is a start, but I had to see what else I could stir up….how about Vroman’s in Pasadena?

Vromans bookstore

Known as “Southern California’s Oldest & Largest Independent Bookstore,” Vroman’s is another eclectic, beloved neighborhood bookstore that has a stellar reputation amongst writers for its support of the community in all its configurations… including independent authors (which isn’t necessarily the case with everyone in the book industry; see Who Do We Have To ____ To Get a Little Respect Around Here?).

I had spent time at Vroman’s earlier this year when Karrie Ross, the author of an art/essay book in which I participated as a writer and photographer — Our Ever Changing World: Through the Eyes of Artists: What Are You Saving from Extinction? — organized a reading at the store (something I’ll do after the holidays). It’s a very nice set-up, interesting and bursting with every kind of book and book-related item you can imagine, and it’s clear they are vibrantly engaged with the world of reading.

So I got in touch and was delighted to discover they have a  “Local Authors” program, which invited me to bring a total of 8 books to the store, 5 for the iconic Pasadena location, and 3 for the Hastings Ranch location, all of which should be on shelves this week. Just ask for the “local authors” section and you’ll find After The Sucker Punch there.

Here’s the information for both locations:

VROMAN’S PASADENA
695 E. Colorado Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91101
626-449-5320
(Fax) 626-792-7308
email@vromansbookstore.com 

VROMAN’S HASTINGS RANCH
3729 E Foothill Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91107
626-351-0828
(Fax) 626-351-0798
email@vromansbookstore.com

As all book lovers know, there’s a great debate out there regarding the burgeoning industry of online book sales and the impact of that inexorable trend on the shrinking population of bookstores, particularly of the independent variety. Since I am a champion of books, writing, and reading, whatever form, format, or delivery system is involved, I want to be sure to play my part in keeping all options as alive and well as can be managed! So if you live in or are visiting Southern California, I encourage you to visit one or all of these bookstores. And when you’re at the counter to pick up your paperback copy of After The Sucker Punch, be sure to tell them I sent you! 🙂

Next up: Book Soup on the Sunset Strip…

LDW w glasses


Visit www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for details and links to LDW’s books, music, photography, and articles.

Interview With Sonya Kemp @ ‘A Lover Of Books’ Blog

Interview Image from A Lover of Books
Interview Image from A Lover of Books

Sonya Kemp is a blogger and book enthusiast from the UK who describes herself on Twitter as “a very avid reader who just can’t imagine a life without books”…. the exact sort of sentiment we writers love hearing!

Sonya Kemp
Sonya Kemp

But Sonya doesn’t just read and review books; she makes a point to reach out to independent authors around the globe to help promote them and their books on her blog, aptly titled “A Lover Of Books.” I’m fortunate enough to be one of those authors this month and am delighted to be included… particularly because she asked great questions I had fun answering! To access and follow Sonya on Twitter go to @destinylover09. If you’re a Goodreads member, you can find her page HERE. And to read Sonya’s interview with me, click the link below: A Lover of Books: Interview with Lorraine Devon Wilke Thank you, Sonya! I appreciated your interest, enjoyed the questions, and am happy to be a part of your book blog!

LDW w glasses


Visit www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for details and links to LDW’s books, music, photography, and articles.