Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I'm An Author!


I'm having one of those days that makes me want to all hang it up. Writer's block you ask? Nope. Struggling with my characters? Nope.

I'm published at three small publishers. They are The Wild Rose Press, Wings and New Concepts Publishing. There's a war brewing in Romance Writers of America (RWA) right now, between the traditional brick and mortar NY houses and the small publishers. It's been brewing for years but I predict it will come to a head very soon. There are some in RWA that don't consider authors at small presses to be authors at all. Sad but true. Funny. We have to go through submissions, work with editors, struggle through edits, receive covers (and many of us at the small press can help design our cover art), receive release dates, do book signings at book stores like Borders and Barnes and Noble. By the way, it's a new trend among NY authors to spread the word to book store owners, telling them that small press books are NOT returnable. This has now happened to me twice by NY big house authors. I'm not sure if this misinformation comes from false rumors or what but it seems to be a sly tactic to force book sellers to refuse to work with us, invite us to signings or order our books. Untrue. Our books ARE returnable and our publishers DO offer discounts to book stores. I've had some wonderful signings at the following stores. Borders in Mesquite, Texas. Barnes and Noble in Hurst, TX. Borders in Plano, TX. Barnes and Noble in Lewisville, TX. Every single one of the managers were wonderful to work with and I look forward to working with them in the future.

My books are reviewed at the same houses as NY pubbed books. BTW, my main publisher, The Wild Rose Press is in New York too but they're small. So, they ARE a NY pub. Many authors and readers alike seem to think that a small press book is not a quality book. If this were true, small press books would not be winning awards right and left, up against big NY pubs. Liana Laverentz has won the very respectable NJRW Golden Leaf award two years in a row and she's been judged against NY pubbed books. I've been nominated for The Night Owl Romance Fall Awards and came in second place. I was nominated along with some big NY authors and the winner was a small press author, Mandy Roth. I've been nominated for Book of the Year at Long and Short Reviews, alongside NY pubbed authors.

Do the NY authors not realize this shift? The small press is in the game too and they're making head way. And now ebooks are making some serious money. Big publishers are finally taking notice, releasing many of their titles electronically as well. For a while, ebooks received zero respect. The big pubs noticed. Noticed the shift in reader dollars. It's the wave of the future. Like it or not. Small press is the wave of the future. Like it or not. My ebooks sell many more copies than my print books.

What's most disturbing is that some of my fellow authors refuse to look to the future, failing to recognize the small press author as an author at all. As if it's just a little hobby of ours. Some have even referred to small presses as vanity presses. Why don't we start calling the big pubs Vanity Presses? These are the snobs...yes, I said snobs....not all mind you...but I've met my share of NYT snobs that call the small press authors...well, nothing...they are the vain ones. We aren't true writers. We sold out to a small press. Calling the small press a stepping stone is one thing. Calling it a vanity press when authors pay zero dollars to get pubbed there and go through the same process as all authors is just plain WRONG and gives many small presses a bad name.

I go to my chapter meetings wearing a smile. In fact I do publicity for all the authors, even though some of them refuse to consider me an author. They're digging their own grave as far as I'm concerned. They're no different than movie stars snubbing television actors. Writing is our art. We're all writers. We're all authors and we should support one another. Those in RWA that refuse to do so are only sticking their heads in the sand. The future is coming. Change is coming. Ebooks are here to stay. Big pubs have now caught onto the rage. Small press is here to stay. Ever heard of monopoly? It exists in the book business and it's ugly. That's why small presses were created in the first place. No, not to put a bunch of crappy books on the shelf. We've all read crappy NY pubbed books too. There are good and bad books at both kinds of houses. It's time we all stand up and unite. Those stuck in the mud can sink for all I care.

21 comments:

Tamra said...

Alisha, LUVED your blog, hunny. The only part that bothered me was in the first paragraph about hanging it all up. You are a wonderful writer and have received great reviews.

Don't ever let the NY authors make you feel like you're NOT a professional.

T.

Alisha Paige said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alisha Paige said...

Thank you, Tam! Reading your comment made my night. I had a hard day and this RWA business is getting WAY too personal. Talk about one heck of a professional lady...you take the cake, honey! Your covers rock! I'm honored to have you as my cover artist and I know about...oh a couple of hundred other authors that feel the exact same way!

Sara Thacker said...

So True. But don't throw in your hat. I've decided to buy only a few NY published books from two authors who I love. The rest of the books I purchase will come from small press.

Belinda McBride said...

Ooohh...you mean I'm not an author? Dang. I guess I must be a writer then. *G*

Poor me. Poor us. Sigh...

Great blog, Alisha!

Hywela Lyn said...

Wonderful Blog, Alisha, well done for saying what so many authors are thinking. As a UK author with a small press (The Wild rose Press) I have been following the RWA 'put down' of small presses with amazement. Surely, to a reader, a book is a book - they read it on its merits and I doubt if many even pay attention to who the author is published with, it's the author's name and reputation - or that of the book - that I go for, as a reader, not the fact that the publisher is a 'big name', and I'm pretty sure most readers are the same. As you say, we authors with small presses go through the same submission process and if the manuscript is not up to standard it won't be published. Small presses have reputations to uphold too.

Hywela Lyn said...

PS

Tamra is my cover artist too! Thank you Tamra, your covers measure up to the 'Big names' any day, and are truly original and beautiful.

Regina Carlysle said...

I'm published at The Wild Rose Press, Resplendence and Ellora's Cave and I am a writer and an author. I deny anyone to say otherwise. My editors have always been top notch and it takes me as much time, work, and creativity as any NY pubbed author. This smacks of elitism at it worse.

DO NOT let anyone denigrade what you do, honey. You're a fabulous writer. Your readers and peers certainly think so. I dropped my membership last summer and lost my 'subscription' to a monthly magazine that wasn't really a whole lot of help. I haven't missed it. If I want to read a magazine, I'll pick up TIME or People.

In your case, you've knocked yourself out doing different detailed jobs for your chapter and yet, they fail to respect you. Believe me, sweetie, you can count on US for support.

MUAH!

Regina Carlysle said...

Oops. Meant to say DEFY. snicker. I got carried away. LOL

Regina Carlysle said...

Damn, this is a great rant. I'm back like the proverbial bad penny. lol. I found it interesting that my local Books A Million is selling the Sony e-reader. Amazing. I believe booksellers are seeing the future with this. Big pubs are seeing it, too. The only bunch with blinders on is RWA. Now, I don't know how true it is but I've heard whispers that RWA is instruction local chapters to make things more difficult for small-press authors by denying them the chance to run for office, enter contests, etc.

Is that true? Does anyone know? If we all quit paying dues, they will drop like a stone.

Alisha Paige said...

Thanks for stopping by, Lyn. With this war brewing, I wish I were in the UK with you. If you think about it, all of this is so petty.

Alisha Paige said...

Wow, Reg! That's something big that Books A Million is selling the Sony ereader. That goes to show you that book sellers are paying attention to the trend and the shift. Really, it's the future and book sellers can either go with it or sink like a rock.

I'm wondering if this is true about RWA chapters. Has anyone else had an experience in your chapter...instructing you to not run for office or not allowing you entry into a contest? Well, the RITAs is off limits now for small press. That's the beginning of it so we know it's happening at some levels. And the RWA president's letters is not any more encouraging than the last. She drones on and on again about career minded writers. Basically, what she's saying that if you don't make a ton of money writing, it's a hobby. She used that word in her first letter. How the hell does she think the big authors got there? They wrote for years, submitted, waited, wrote some more and waited some more. Success doesn't come over night. Were they not writers until they hit the NYT list? Of course they were. This is the most elitest president ever and she writes category romance. There's been some not so nice things said about that little niche. How would she like it if we all bashed category romance?

ddurance said...

Alisha, you may very well by one of those NY authors, but nonetheless you are an author regardless. Dig those toes in and refuse to budge. YOU are the bigger person in this. Keep smiling at those meetings. No one knows exactly what the future will bring.

Deidre

Alisha Paige said...

Thank you, Deidre! Your comment made me smile!

And thanks for stopping by Belinda, you writer, you! LOL!

Tammie King - Night Owl Romance said...

Hi Alisha,

I loved your article.

I'm the owner of Night Owl Romance and Google sent me and email saying you posted something with our name in it :) - thanks!

In this industry word of mouth is what we survive on and every author does also.

Four years ago when I started the site I read print books, I didn't even know what an ebook was. The concept was easy once I was introduced to it. I'd been working with computers for years so it wasn't a huge leap to start reading ebooks. Reading them on the computer was a small pain as I like to get away from the computer after work. So, I told my hubby about the Sony eReader and he got it for me for Christmas a few years ago. It's been great most of the time. I love the convience of having a libray on a small card that is transportable. It used to suck to pack when I would travel. I could maybe take 10 books and have room for clothes. Now I've got hundreds to choose from. I see ebooks and prints as having the same potential. I've read great prints and not so great and great ebooks and not so great.

At Night Owl Romance we read and review both ebooks and print and it's been a pleasure working with both print and ebook publishing houses. It's actually been great seeing some of the NYC pubs start publishing in both print and ebook formats and Harlequin from Canada has really been striving to make changes for quite some time. You can now get some of their books in ebook format and they were one of the first to really get out there and support the Sony eReader. The print publishers who don't change to having an ebook option could be in a hurt of trouble as the industry changes. Some are holding onto the printed format so hard, while others are jumping on as they see the potential for their business to fail if they do not enact change. Change can be hard, but readers of today are an ever evolving crowd. You will still have your readers who want print and don't know how to use a computer, but as time goes on I belive the ebook will be very stong and will probably become the market and prints will become collectors items. It's good business for NYC to go paperless. I would think it's more cost effective to publish electronically once it's become standard. No costly paper, ink and they could just use the files they already have for convert to PDF, HTML etc with the touch of a few buttons. With the economy on the down turn I'm sure NYC will start brainstorming options to save money on production and boost sales.

Alisha Paige :) - I wish you the best and keep up a smile. I'm lucky to belong to an RWA chapter the seems to really support both it's print and ebook authors. The Rose City RWA in Portland, Oregon has been a great place to hang out and meet some wonderful women and men who just enjoy writing and being authors no matter if they are published in ebook or print format.

Hugs and take care,

Tam
Night Owl Romance
http://www.nightowlromance.com

Alisha Paige said...

Thanks for stopping by, Tammie! Night Owl Romance will always hold a special place in my heart. My very first review came from NOR and it's still my favorite! You've done a magnificent job. Your site is wonderful and I appreciate the fact that you review both ebooks and print books. I think everything you said about the future is coming soon. Thanks for contributing to this blog. It's nice to have a business woman as well respected and informed as you are to chime in on such a topic.

Take Care,
Alisha

Skhye said...

My creative writing professor used to say "you are a rhinoceros with a big thick skin" before critiques started in class. I guess we just have to be rhinoceroses. Eat chocolate! Drink rum! Transform into the rhinoceros... Psst, that still doesn't work for me. ;) Time will tell all. I'm waiting with you!

Judith Leger said...

Hey Alisha, I really didn't know you weren't an author...Oh, shit, I used two negatives in one sentence. (Don't let you little ones read this, you don't want them corrupted by the non-writer.) God forbid any big time NY author reads that. They'd faint. Hee, Hee!

Years ago, I went to several RWA chapter conferences and I met some great ladies, well, a few great ladies. The others had to force themselves to even acknowledge me. Hey, I grew up in a small town where cliques ran wild so no big deal, I knew how to deal with it, but the longer I stayed around them, the more I came to realize that I didn't want to be like them.

I LOVE people and helping others which for many in RWA is equal to breaking a commandment. You know the kind. 'Don't get too close or your cooties will jump on me.' I haven't been a member of RWA in four years and I was only a member for one year. I found no help whatsoever from them. All the information I needed, I found on-line or other fellow 'non-authors', so I figured, what do I need them for?

Over the years, I've had some really wonderful experiences with publishing and I have to say, some that depressed me so much, I wanted to throw the towel in. Then I would remember, I was in this for the long haul. If a big pub won't take my story, then I would sub to a small one. At least the story is out there and being read. Much better than having it gather dust in a drawer. This was a difficult decision for me. All my RWA friends would go on and on about lowering myself to submit to a e-publisher. Lowering myself, I'd ask? How is it lowering myself if the story is being sold through a RWA acknowledged publisher? Just because they are small presses doesn't mean they aren't a publisher. Yes, I still submit to the larger presses but the stress of wanting to have one of them pick up my work is no longer as great now as it was five years ago. Why? Because I'm comfortable where I am.

As far as RWA is concerned, well, what goes around can come back to bite you. Hard, too. There are too many people out there who have been degraded and put down by RWA NY pubbed authors for the steam not to rise. Even Rome fell so RWA needs to look closely at who they're making enemies with. Look at the 'Big Three'. Got way too big for their britches and now they're begging. LOL! Wouldn't that be a grand sight?

Love ya, Alisha and if you EVER decide to give up, I will personally haunt your dreams, after all I do have the power! Don't let them ruin what you've worked so hard to obtain. It's not worth it, baby doll!

Judith Leger said...

OBTW, Love the pic of you at the start of your blog! Looking good, girl!

Alisha Paige said...

Skhye~ I'm pasting my horn on now...lol! Thanks for stopping by, sis.

Alisha Paige said...

Judith...come here so I can hug ya!

I've heard so many similar stories to yours. Most of the ladies in my chapter are sweethearts and that includes some big time NY pubbed authors but I'm starting to wonder now why so much misinformation is leaking out about small presses. The few that don't want to recognize the small press authors will suffer in the long run. We're all writers, all authors and we should come together for the greater cause of promoting romance books.

(And thanks for your sweet comments about my pic. My hair is much longer now...all those prenatal vitamins while I was expecting Benjamin...lol!)

Have a beautiful weekend, my wonderful friend!