Spring Update

Still writing.

First round of revisions on Suffocation is being edited by a new set of eyes, while I begin tackling how to approach revisions on the first draft of Holodomor. The first-draft of the third novel, Memory Kill, was so big I had to split it in two, adding another novel to the series.

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If you’re just tuning in, I quit writing comics in 2013, and began working on prose sci-fi series I began back in 2004. After some set-backs, I retired from my day job, to dedicate full time to writing my series. I’ve written 9 novels between 59K-78K per book, and all are in serious first-draft mode–except the final novel, that’s about 15% done and stalled. My goal is to polish up the first book, and acquire an agent, to sell the series.

Updates to my personal blog, Polish Athena, are monthly, while my Tumblr (Gynocrat Ink Stuff) is a writing-oriented place updated daily with tons of great reblogs on writing, character building, world building, and my own progress.

See you this summer!

Mild Updates!

It’s been awhile, but I’m writing. :)

My print copies of Only Words are gone – but alas, I did find a box of San Japan stock (all wrapped up with promo swag and all). If you want to score a book, you can acquire it from me as a third-party seller, (I’m fourth one down, tanderson191) at Amazon.

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Kindle and Nook editions are still available also.

I wanted to let buyers know that when you order from third-party sellers and the condition is “new”, we get paid for that. They’re buying short stock from Ingram (or they’re acquiring stock someone else has over ordered) either way, we get a smidgen of what’s collected, so its all good.

ALSO: If you’ve read Games With Me, and you liked it, please give a brief review over at places like Amazon, or BN.com Yes, it helps sales, but it also lets the artist know someone out there has seen their work, and enjoyed it.

Again– our titles are also on Kindle and Nook!

Writing Away…

It’s been a month, but I wanted to touch base and let everyone know that– I’m not dead, I’m writing.

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The final novel of the Femitokon series is at 76k words in the first draft, and I’m at the half-way point in the novel where the Sofita is set to challenge Fusa for control of Ramaxia.

I want to thank everyone that continues to promote and purchase our titles on Amazon, and BN.com, and elsewhere…you guys rock, and I want you to know that Lynsley and Amelie appreciate the continued support!

Walking Away from a Publishing Deal

In December of 2012, I hooked up with a publisher (I’m weird about naming names because I don’t want to burn bridges) to produce my novel series, Femitokon. I sent a concise outline for the series (that’s what they wanted), and got a rep interested in my work. He got back to me, he liked my idea for digital-only and how I wanted to promote it, and an advance was quoted. I was excited. Things were going great (I had one set back, but I recouped from it) and with one novel left in the series to write – there’s eight altogether – I was excited to meet my first-draft deadline in January 2015.

Last month, the publisher announced their plans for “reader powered” productions; according to The Digital Reader, the publisher said: “…advances will be at least $1,500 with net royalties of 50%. Additionally, this new program will offer authors renewable terms over a five year period, allowing authors who do not earn a certain amount of money to terminate the agreement.” All of this hinges on the author completing the work, the publisher putting the work out there, and readership deciding if your series (or single titles) continue.

I was a little concerned. This wasn’t what I completely intended for my series, but it was damn close, and so I shot an email to the editor/rep I’d been talking to, just to make sure my series wasn’t part of this venture–as it was dictated to The Digital Reader. I have nothing against crowd-sourced fiction, I come from a self-publishing background (comics), and I know that putting work out there for free in small portions builds your fanbase as you keep writing—it works, I know it does–but it’s hard to maintain unless you have a job outside of it, to support you. Cultivating fan interest with release momentum and multi-media extras was how I planned to promote Femitokon! It was part of my pitch to the publisher back in December of 2012. It was exciting when the editor told me about how his publisher was working on developing content in this way, it was like it was meant to be!

The problem with publishing this way is that it works best when the writer has some source of funds coming in while they’re dedicating time to write for their readers and meeting publisher deadlines. I can’t do that for a publisher that’s only willing to part with $1,500 up front, and then expects me to keep working for just 50% of sales.

It’s tempting to jump on terms like this, because having the publisher do all the promotion and distribution (web work, updates, social media things, editing and uploading the work) makes being able to write, ten-times easier. Those others things in parenthesis, take so much away from your ability to stay focused on creating good fiction. I can’t write a digital series on such meager terms–if money was no object, I would’ve self-produced, or hit the kickstarter.

Macmillan’s Swoon Reads YA imprint offers the same model—but their advance is large. The ultimate goal for producing work in this way is to cultivate an online presence (or digital platform presence since eReaders aren’t just eReaders anymore!), and Macmillian seems to understand that writing is work, and you need some form of funding to dedicate substantial hours in your day, to do that work.

It took a few weeks, but the editor got back to me, and confirmed all my fears. Femitokon was indeed ‘transitioned’ to this exciting new venture, and I knew it was due to my setback last year. What frustrates me is that I spent the end of last year, and all of this year, rewriting every lost manuscript (all damn five of them), and finishing novels six and seven, praying the publisher wouldn’t say ‘hey kid, better luck somewhere else’.

I hate feeling entitled, and while that particular mode of publishing was exactly what I had in mind, the terms fell way short of what I needed to pull it off. It still feels like …hey kid, better luck somewhere else.  I retired from the bank to rewrite all these books, and I was ready to sign a long term deal—shit, I was even ready to go back to work at the bank during the revisions phase, because hey—not all of us can live off book advances and print/digital-per-book-sold-profits. (The only way you can live off your fiction is if you’re writing for other forms of media, or your work gets a development deal.) I expressed my disappointment with this new direction, and was told that this was all that’s available to me at this time.

I’ve been here before. I create something, and the publisher says ‘this is what I need from you and this is all I can give you…’ Yes, I’ve been there, done that, and have never been happy with the outcome. Never.

My series is tailor made for digital release, it’s designed to cultivate online readership, to have readers interact with the world, it’s characters, and it’s drama. This mode of production is what drew the original publisher-prospect to it. I can’t sell myself short, I don’t have what it takes anymore to produce quality material on a shoe-string budget.

I’ve decided to walk away. I’m going to finish the final novel in the series, keep hammering away at revisions, and return to finding an agent or publisher for the series. I’ve got two prospects lined up, and I’m hopeful that something pans out for this series next year.

There’s wonderful people working at this publisher, they’re so supportive and they care about what they’re doing, I can just tell this about people.  (I’ve met the opposite, that shows too!) I wish them them the best with this method of production, and I hope they find creators hungry enough to pull it off for what they’re offering.

-Tina

Minor Returns

Though I haven’t produced a graphic novel in two years, or been published in one in over three years, I still have books out there being sold.

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I was fortunate enough as an author to acquire copies of stock in lieu of monies owed with two different publishers, but this meant that I had to house the remainder of the stock to be sold in my garage.  Boo. I was extremely lucky with Ingram (their POD program Lightning Source is how I distribute my self-produced work) in that they were willing to take a portion of that printed stock off my hands and house and distribute them for me. Last year Amazon offered me a similar deal with the same terms as Ingram, so I sent them the remainder of the stock.

My terms with both distributors allows for returns. What are returns?

In my case, returns come from brick and mortar retailers like comic shops (and these days, online retailers, and convention sellers) that decide to give my old titles space on their shelves, show booths, or site inventory, because they’re looking sell something in the genre I used to write for (BL/OEL-BL graphic novels). They go to a distributor and buy wholesale—sometimes they have to purchase a minimum (from 5 books to a 32-pack case if the distributor hasn’t changed with the times enough to know that NO one operates with those amounts anymore and lives >_< ). These sellers dedicate a certain amount of time and space to sell your title—then when something new and better comes along, they take down what hasn’t sold of your work, and return it to the distributor.

There’s plenty of small press (and small shop) horror stories about this model, because in days of old (like, as recent as last year), some distributors held them to the same terms as they would a chain like Barnes and Noble—forcing them to supply substantial quantities for national chain stores, with no guarantee those books would be shelved properly and on time, or spine-broke by some hobotaki reading it on the floor and then putting it back on the shelf.

I’ve been lucky in that I’m EXTREMELY obscure, and my titles are a niche within a niche, and my distributors have entered into the POD market and seen that selling to small shops and online outlets that don’t need large chunks of stock, is just as profitable as dealing with the big boys (how many of the big boys are left BTW?)

My books sold wholesale through Amazon and Ingram go mostly to booth vendors, small shops, and online stores—these retailers tend to order 10 books max (10 being the extreme MAX, and 5 being the norm). When the time comes to take my books down and put up something more new and shiny (like stuff from Alex Woolfson or the ladies at Yaoi Revolution) they have a guarantee that they can send any unsold stock back to Ingram and Amazon, for a credit.

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Sorry, bad phone pic!

I like that two books is really all I ever get back at any given time. I take those bad boys to Half-Price Books – they don’t mind taking two at a time from me, so long as I don’t try to hoist a case off on them. Returns work for me because I’m so insignificant that no one’s ordering mass quantities I don’t have, nor am I selling mass quantities that no one wants.

7 Down, 1 to Go…

I just finished the first draft of ‘Permanent Stains’. I had to eliminate a subplot I found crucially important to the series overall, just to keep the word count for this one, reasonable.  It clocked in at 78k, but I’ll be transitioning the subplot I removed from ‘Stains’ to another novel in the series that needs beefing up.

I’ve countless scenes written that I removed because they were, IMHO, too erotic for the series. I was having fun with my characters and wrote them into situations that were great to read, but unessential to the narrative of the series. (^_-)

I did update the production gallery, not much has been done because the artist was caught up in convention season, and I’ve been too busy writing ‘Permanent Stains’ to think about character art.  My day consists of writing, working out at the gym, and getting in three meals a day.

I also re-opened by Creator Diary, after locking it down a couple of years.

See you next month!
Tina