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I’ve been sitting on a comment to one of my posts for about two months now, wondering whether I should approve it or send it to the spam queue or just delete it.  The person who wrote it wasn’t very happy with me or my post about a new e-publisher that I’d had some warnings about.

Here’s the comment:

wow, you are ignorant AND boring. good luck with your publications jerkwad.

Okay, first, thanks for the good wishes–even if you did blow it with the “jerkwad” thing.  As for the “boring” part, I can’t really argue with that because I am essentially a very boring person.  The “ignorant” part though, that’s a matter of opinion and I have to say, it doesn’t really bother me.

Anyway, the real reason I’ve hesitated to approve the comment is the author signature:

 Vicious
casualhomicide@gmail.com

“Casualhomicide”, huh?  A little creepy, not to mention slightly loony, so I just left it in the comments and had pretty much forgotten about it until a couple of days ago when I realized I might just be, as this anonymous person said, ignorant.

No, seriously, I have proof.  Read on and see if you don’t agree with me.

Okay, so, I had an e-book come out this past Thursday, Unwilling Angel, a sweet paranormal romance that takes place at Christmas.  Perfect timing on the release date, right?  Well, yeah, it would’ve been, except me in my awe-inspiring stupidity, included a free copy of the book as part of the prize I’m offering in two holiday contests.

See?  Stupid!  Stupid!  Stupid!

*warning: run-on sentence ahead!*  Beyond the fact that I’ve read several reports on how useless contests are for generating sales for authors–but they are a good way to get some name recognition!–and the countless times I’ve been warned not to ever give away a free e-book–too many authors have done that only to have the copy of the ebook that was the prize shared with the countless other people.  I even know of one author who recently came across the book she’d given as a prize listed as a free give-away on the winner’s web site where the winner said something like, “It’s yours to read, pass on to someone else, or just trash”–beyond all that, I know that most people when they have the chance to win something for free, are not going to waste their money puchasing it until after the contest is over–if then.  And by the time both of the contests I’m in have ended, the Christmas season for this year will be over.

Which means, in my incredible stupidity, I’ve pretty much put the kabosh on sales for this book during the season when a Christmas book can expect the best sales.

See, told ya’, stupid!  Stupid!  Stupid!  I can’t say it enough!

So, I’m trying to think of a plan to offset my idiocy and so far, the only thing I can come up with is another contest.  Yikes!  Problem is, I don’t know if I can do what I want, which would be to run a contest where the prize is a free copy of my print book, Snow Shadows, to one person who buys Unwilling Angel.  I mean, you’d have to purchase something to win–is that even allowed any more?  Plus, what effect would that have on the sales of Snow Shadows?

*sigh*  I’ll say it again, stupid!  Which leads me to believe that anonymous person who commented and said I was ignorant just might be right.  At least in this case and hopefully, it’s only a passing affliction!

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Got a few emails this past week about a new e-publisher, Shadowfire Press, opening its doors on August 1, 2008.  Don’t know anything about it, except to say that judging from what I’ve heard and three “personal squicks” I got from looking at their site, I’ll be staying away from this one until and unless they can prove they know what they’re doing–which shouldn’t be hard for me because I don’t write the kind of books they’re interested in publishing.

What are the “personal squicks”, you ask?  Well, let’s start with the fact that the owners are both authors and as we’ve seen in the past with author-owned e-publishers, they aren’t the best bet for a new writer–or an established one, for that matter.  They seem to have a tendency to neglect the books by authors who are just “plain authors”, while concentrating on promoting the books of the author/owners.  Not saying Shadowfire will be the same way, but I’ve been down that road with one publisher already and I’m not looking to go that way again.

Second squick, their covers.  Now this probably is just me, and I’m not an art critic by any stretch of the imagination, but I wasn’t impressed with their covers.  Too…I don’t know, amateurish. I guess.  The same goes for the masthead on their web site, which they seem to be really proud of in their introductory letter, saying it’s a “done deal.”  Umm…you might want to re-think that one, but like I said, that’s just my opinion.

Third, this little snippet on their contest page:

The only way to become a Shadowfire Press author is to win a publishing contract through one of our contests. Please do not send any stories that do not fit our current contest guidelines as we will not be accepting anything that is not suited for the contest.

The thing is…I’ve noticed quite a few e-publishers engaging in this “enter our contest and win a publishing contract” crap.  I say crap, because if they’re holding a contest, there should be the possibility of winning…something.  Else, why call it a contest?  Granted, this e-publisher isn’t open to submissions and that may up the ante a bit, but for me it wouldn’t be enough.  Why would I want to write for someone who has, IMO, such an elitist attitude?  I mean, come on, you’re a new business, an open call for submissions would only benefit you.  There are untold numbers of authors out there who would probably love to submit something to you–but they have to enter a contest to do it?  And if they do enter the contest, they get nothing for winning besides what they would get from submitting to any other publisher?

Makes me think of dangling a carrot in front of a mule.  Hey mule author, look at this, here’s a bright orange carrot contract!  Looks yummy, huh?  Come on, you want it.  You know you want it.  All you have to do to get it is work your butt off writing a book for us and be sure to follow all our rules and guidelines while you’re at it.  If you do that, we might, just might let you have the carrot contract!  Then again, we might not, but well, you gotta try, don’t you?  Sure you do!

It should come with a warning label attached, doubly so when it comes from an author-owned publisher and even more so when it’s one that’s just starting out:

Author beware, winning the contest isn’t enough.  Sure, it’ll get you a contract–which you could get elsewhere, but now you get to put all your blood, sweat and tears into promoting your work.  And please, don’t expect us to help, because hey, we don’t do that for anybody but ourselves.  So…enter at your own risk!

Sad to say, I used to be okay with this kind of thing, even defended the idea of publishers running a contest with the prize of a publishing contract, because if you win, it’s a publishing credit, something you can include in your query letters to other publishers.  But I’ve seen way too many new authors get burned this way.  Sure, they got a contract, but more often than not, that’s about all they got.  So, if you have a book you want to see published, my advice is don’t sell yourself short, do your research and try for one of the established e-houses.  Then, once Shadowfire gets up and going, you can take a look at them again.

I realize this may not be fair to Shadowfire and I’m not saying they’re doomed to go down before they even start, or that they won’t actively promote their authors who are not also owners.  What I am saying is I see a few red flags flying already.  If Shadowfire does become one of the top-selling e-pubs at some point in time, I’ll be more than happy to offer my apologies and eat my words with a smile on my face.  I wish them all the best and believe me, I’d love to see them prove me wrong!  After the horrible year e-publishers and their authors have had, it sure would be nice to have a reason to celebrate e-books again.

 

Whistling Woman by CC Tillery

Winds of Fate

Storm Shadows

Snow Shadows

PMS Anthology

Romance of My Dreams

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