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considerations and resolutions

Well, it's far from warm, but it isn't snowing, so I shall count myself more fortunate today than I was yesterday. And they say I'm a pessimist! Hah!

Anyway, grateful thanks to everyone who took time to comment or e-mail me about the LJ/Blog thing yesterday. There were many thoughtful and helpful (I hate using two -ful words in a row like that) comments. I liked this bit from mapultoid:

What I am saying is I would understand if you closed this journal down. I have enjoyed following you, following your writing and Spooky and your thoughts on Life, the Universe, and Everything. The peek behind the curtain has been nice, but I stick with you because of the big show: Low Red Moon, Silk, Threshold, &c.

Because, you know, this really is only a peek behind the curtain. This was never meant to be a thing unto itself, just some odd footnotes. The novels, the short stories, the comics, and so forth, those are the things that matter. The rest may be interesting, insightful, even enjoyable, but it all takes a back seat to the real writing that I have to do. And, these days, I have to do a lot of it. Argh. This is likely to be a ramblesome entry, as I have some notes scribbled over here, and they seem to be in no order at all. Just stuff I wrote down yesterday while reading people's comments.

I have decided that I will be scaling back, not shutting down. The blog is beneficial to me in a number of ways — it has greatly increased my small press sales (far less so my mainstream sales), has given me a forum for meeting and talking with my readers, allows me to promote my work by getting out news of new projects, releases, etc., lets me hear a little feedback, helps a lot with our eBay sales (which are important these days), and so forth. But, instead of these long, long posts, I'm going to limit myself, at first, beginning tomorrow, to writing only what may be written in half an hour. I'll use the egg timer from the kitchen. Beginning a week from tomorrow, I'm going to cut that back to fifteen minutes. And at some point thereafter, will be writing only occassional posts, two or three a month, as a means of announcing news, venting spleen, sharing those rare good days, and so forth. Make sense? I'm not in the mood to go cold turkey on this one, but I do believe that scaling way back is the right solution. I will also leave the phorum in place, for now, but it may go in another month or so. Mostly, these days it strikes me as a troll magnet. My website will always be there, of course, and we'll try to do better about keeping it updated. And I will most likely cease reading any other blogs, as that's one of the very serious time sucks. So there. It is decided.

I've been online since sometime early in 1994, online a great deal. I'm not sure what life would be like without some net presence.

Were the novel going well, I might have let this slide a while. But the novel is not going well. When things are going well with my writing, which they haven't been lately, I can afford to be more careless with my time. But I haven't written anything on Daughter of Hounds since , I think, February 19th. Supposedly, I stopped then to do research, but I've mostly done nothing at all. This is suicide for a freelance writer. You are free to frell off whenever you see fit. No one's gonna stop you. But sooner or later, and usually sooner, you will be sorry. You don't write, you don't get paid. Muse or no muse, inspiration or not, you write, because that's what you do. Now, at the moment, there are many reasons I'm having trouble with this book, and the time I devote to LJ/Blog is only one of them, yes, but it's one of the ones I can easily deal with.

On to other things...

Something I've harped on a million times, but I'm gonna harp on it again, because it came up yesterday, and it's important. My books, though they might be scarce in many American bookshops and absent in most foreign bookshops, are equally available to everyone who is in possession of a credit card (with credit) and an internet connection. Everything I've done that is in print is available from Amazon, B&N.com, booksamillion, subterraneanpress.com, my eBay auctions, and at least dozens of other places. Poppy says that every time someone says to an author, "I can't find your books," the Baby Jesus cries. Damn straight. So, don't say it. It's not true. Bookselling has changed a great deal in the last ten years, and book buying must change as well, or many authors, those of us who don't get mountains of publicity from publishers (and that means most of us), who have publishers who don't pay the chain stores to stock heaps of our latest title right up front, will most certainly perish. It might not have all the romance of the old days, browsing the shelves of a dusty Mom & Pop store, but it's easier, reliable, cheap, and almost everyone, everywhere, can do it. No, really. My books are not hard to find. Not even in Peru, Thailand, and New Zealand. All you have to do is look.

Okay, there was this other thing, about publishers and publicity, ARCs, Low Red Moon, and what Poppy recently went through with the advance-reading copies of Prime, but this entry's gotten way the frell too long. So I'll save that for later.

As for yesterday, it was another waste, more or less. Today must be better. Was there anything worth mentioning? Spooky and I watched Some Kind of Monster last night. Leh'agvoi sent me the first six pages of the Nebari.net winter special. I fretted about my office, cleaning and rearranging, which was not writing. I thought about moving to Albuquerque. That was yesterday.

Before you go, please look at the eBay auctions, which have slowed down the last couple of days. Thanks. And thanks also, and again, for all the comments yesterday. Truly, they have been much appreciated.

Comments

( 21 comments — Have your say! )
mekkavandexter
Mar. 2nd, 2005 05:09 pm (UTC)
books, buying, and the most obvious comment, ever.
I realize this seems strangely obvious (and this comment is not for you, of course, for you know this already), but perhaps not to those 'fans' who can not seem to 'find your books' --- if a book has an ISBN (this, comment should not come as 'new information' to anyone reading this LJ) and can be found in Books in Print or Ingram (is it still BiP & Ingram? it has been a long while since i worked in/near a bookstore) any bookstore with access to those systems can special order books, and will do so at no extra cost, bypassing that pesky amazon/online requirement for a credit card.

it really does baffle me when people use the "can't find" excuse to avoid supporting their 'favourite' authors. Heck, even bookstores in my one-horse town tend to stock your work (okay, there's a million people in this city, but I can't buy a VNV Nation cd in any music store in town without special ordering, so that should tell you something about how backward we are). Lazy excuses! I loathe thee.
anyway.

I am very pleased, as well, that you have opted to maintain some sort of online blog. As a member of the writing community, being able to connect with authors, even in the remote online way, is really one of the things that makes me happy in this pesky world. So, yay. :)
cricketshay
Mar. 2nd, 2005 05:18 pm (UTC)
I must of missed the entry you are talking about. I know that I enjoy the little glimpses "inside the curtain." It makes my own struggle with the written word a bit more bearable. I must confess as to having never read one of your books. I hope to remedy this in the near future since I just purchased a copy of Murder of Angles from ebay.

I understand your need to remove the time sucks to allow more writing time. But your posts will be missed.(at least by me anyway)
greygirlbeast
Mar. 2nd, 2005 05:26 pm (UTC)
I hope to remedy this in the near future since I just purchased a copy of Murder of Angles from ebay.

Thank you!

I must of missed the entry you are talking about.

Yesterday's, 3/1/05.
sleepycyan
Mar. 2nd, 2005 05:20 pm (UTC)
allows me to promote my work by getting out news of new projects, releases, etc.

I think this is a very good reason to continue to use the LJ/blog at least periodically. I do enjoy your musings on other subjects, and I hope they don't disappear entirely, but keeping up with the projects that you're working on is my primary reason for reading the journal. It's a very convenient way to get news.
asru
Mar. 2nd, 2005 06:14 pm (UTC)
I think I opened a can of worms yesterday, didn't I?
Perhaps I should have clarified it further by adding that yes, the internet is easy, and yes, I am caught in the past with my bookshop fetish, but I think the more important point I was trying to make was that Amazon and other internet sites aren't the place to discover an author. At least, not for many people. I did not mean to imply that the fact that Caitlin's work is unavailable in British bookshops is a reason not to buy her books.
Most of my tastes have actually developed from mooching about my local library. Getting into a discussions of whether library stock is up to scratch nowadays is a whole new thing, but needless to say, I haven't discovered anything there recently. For the past few years, my recommendations of anything off the bestseller list has come from word-of-mouth, mostly through working in bookshops, and only since the number of people I know in the USA has increased have I found all these exciting American authors such as Caitlin, Gary Braunbeck etc.
I did not mean at all (and I thoroughly agree that it would be foolish to say) that I don't buy an author's books because they aren't in my local bookshop - I do seek them out and order them from overseas. However, the thing that bothers me is that these writers aren't being publicised. I love Caitlin's work, but discovered it by chance on a different author's website. None of my friends have heard of most of the authors I read at the moment, and it isn't because they are illiterate or uncultured, it's because there's nothing around to tell them that they exist. Even magazines on writing or books are lacking over here. The newspaper reviews don't cover much aside from what you can see in the window of Borders, and even working in a bookshop, the only way to get in a title you have found and believe could sell in any quantity is to do a 'staff review' and hope it will sell five copies. Yes, Caitlin's books could come up on a 'recommended' list for certain readers on Amazon, but I am not sure exactly how reliable that is, or how many sales it generates. I feel sure that she would have a large following over here if there was some publicity.
This is meant as a supportive comment - if I still worked in a bookshop, I would be actively promoting the authors I read. I want very much for their work to get the attention it deserves.
greygirlbeast
Mar. 2nd, 2005 06:38 pm (UTC)
However, the thing that bothers me is that these writers aren't being publicised.

And this is, ultimately, The Big Problem facing most authors. More people are buying books than ever before, despite misconceptions to the contrary, but most of those books are buy a small handful of authors. Since the 1970s, the American and Brit publishing houses have become disinterested in midlist authors (though once they nurtured them) in pursuit of the Big Sells. A handful of authors get 95% of the publicity. And most authors cannot afford to generate their own publicity where and how is matters, publicity in the mass media. Ask a group of professional freelance authors what they need more than anything, and most will say more publicity, which is the thing publishers are most stingy with.

Yes, Caitlin's books could come up on a 'recommended' list for certain readers on Amazon, but I am not sure exactly how reliable that is, or how many sales it generates.

I have no idea if those work or not. I myself have never bought a book because I saw it listed on an "also bought" list.

Is it harder to browse Amazon? A little, and surely it's less tactile, but you can do it. There are even the little first few pages preview thingys now (though, in most cases, Amazon is doing that without the publishers' permissions).
asru
Mar. 2nd, 2005 07:21 pm (UTC)
Is it harder to browse Amazon? A little, and surely it's less tactile, but you can do it. There are even the little first few pages preview thingys now (though, in most cases, Amazon is doing that without the publishers' permissions).


I suppose that one depends on your preferences. I have impulse-bought a couple of things on Amazon, but I tend to stick with what I know. I have seen more and more of the 'contents page' listings on textbooks, which are actually very helpful, and have noticed the increase in titles where you can look inside. In that respect, Amazon may be improving. But the Big Problem overshadows this.
I don't think there's an easy answer to it really. It saddens me that the John Grishams of the world are guaranteed big sales (though I am not slating him particularly for his work), while up-and-coming authors are finding it very difficult to get recognition.
asru
Mar. 3rd, 2005 08:08 pm (UTC)
Coincidentally, I saw this on the news today:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/arts/4311303.stm

peterburd
Mar. 2nd, 2005 06:37 pm (UTC)
I found when I stopped updating my own blog (an anonymous work blog) daily it was a tremendous relief, more than I expected. It feels like a luxury to pick the times I really feel like blogging, and when I do write an entry I enjoy it.

I've read and enjoyed your blog for a couple of years now. A near daily entry for so long is more than I think any reader should expect, especially for free.

Peter
greygirlbeast
Mar. 2nd, 2005 06:42 pm (UTC)
It feels like a luxury to pick the times I really feel like blogging

And that's the thing. Somehow, very early on, way back in '02, I let it become a sort oif obligation. I feel like I have to write an entry, as part of the normal course of the day.
mellawyrden
Mar. 2nd, 2005 06:47 pm (UTC)
I missed yesterday's entry because of that theatre thing I had to get ready for (and which I'm glad is done!)

I think it's wise of you to go about managing your time & focusing your energies on what you need to do. This is extremely important for creative work.

I look forward to the times when you do write in. It's nice to know how you're doing, and to hear how your work is going.

xxx
your little mella
crumpeteater
Mar. 2nd, 2005 06:49 pm (UTC)
However, buying from the internet means paying postage and that can really start to add up, especially if you can only afford one book at a time. I'm too young to have my own credit card so I wind up using my father's (and then repaying him), and he gets very bitchy about ordering things off the net at times.

That said, we're still ordering the 'special' copy of To Charles Fort, so...:)
greygirlbeast
Mar. 2nd, 2005 07:07 pm (UTC)
However, buying from the internet means paying postage and that can really start to add up, especially if you can only afford one book at a time.

Here's the thing. In America, if you go to Borders or Barnes & Noble or wherever to get a copy of, say, Murder of Angels, you're going to pay $14 + whatever your local sales tax happens to be. If you buy it from Amazon, it'll cost you only $10.50, plus p&h. In this case, p&h for Standard Shipping would be $3.49 (4-14 buisness days; my experience, about a week and a half on average). So, to order Murder of Angels from Amazon you will pay $13.99, actually just a little less than if you bought it at an actual bookshop. Sure you have to wait, or pay a little more in postage for faster shipping, but it's not going to cost you more, unless, of course, you're overseas.

Alternately, most bookshops will do special orders at no extra charge.
crumpeteater
Mar. 2nd, 2005 07:22 pm (UTC)
I remember being thoroughly indignant when I visited the states, that the price I paid was NOT the price on the tag. Indignant, of course, in a nonverbal and unobvious way, because it's not the fault of the poor sales clerk.

I'm in the UK, so what you see on the tag is the price you pay, which makes postage a pain. That has not, however, particularly stopped me buying books over the net when I can, but it is a factor that makes me hesitate sometimes.

Usually I buy from subpress (because I likes them!) but if you want your mainstream sales to go up, I can start buying from amazon (is that the one that helps?) ...and I'm not sure how to punctuate that. *L*
greygirlbeast
Mar. 2nd, 2005 07:33 pm (UTC)
Usually I buy from subpress (because I likes them!) but if you want your mainstream sales to go up, I can start buying from amazon (is that the one that helps?) ...and I'm not sure how to punctuate that. *L*

Well, any of them help. Amazon, B&N, whatever (unless you buy the used copies, which, sadly, doesn't help). For the small press stuff, whether it's Subterranean Press or someone else, it's just as good to buy directly from the publisher as from someone mail order like Amazon. If only things were so easy with my books from Penguin...
stardustgirl
Mar. 2nd, 2005 07:54 pm (UTC)
If only things were so easy with my books from Penguin...

I think I understand that comment, especially if you noticed a change from the 90s to the 00s.

Albuquerque? Spooky will wander into Kurt's Camera Corral and never come out. It's photographer heaven. There is one motel/inn on Central Avenue that is covered in bric-a-brac and is amazing. I think you get more bang for you buck with thunderstorms out that way as well.
greygirlbeast
Mar. 2nd, 2005 08:01 pm (UTC)
I think I understand that comment, especially if you noticed a change from the 90s to the 00s.

Yep.

I think you get more bang for you buck with thunderstorms out that way as well.

That sounds nice...
mistressmousey
Mar. 2nd, 2005 08:32 pm (UTC)
FWIW, I'm ever impressed that writers get any work done at all when maintaining an online journal. While I love the "access" to the daily/weekly/monthly ramblings, I fully respect the need to cut that back in order to a)get your work done to b) pay bills and c) because while the periodic ramblings are nice and do tell a bit about you, they don't always get to the heart of you, which an artist's art always seems to do.

I've always viewed a journal as a place to keep your secrets, to vent, to share joy. It's an extension of your need to communicate, with a faceless (or many-faced) entity. It's there because you want it to be, and the days when you feel like it's a duty to keep it up, it starts to defeat it's purpose.

And "I can't find your books" is only an allowable excuse when you're looking up a foreign or promotional item that's been out of print for years. When the only place you can find an item is on Ebay and in used shops, *then* you're allowed to whimper a little.

Now get your booty back to work on that book! I'm looking forward to reading it, dag nabbit!
greygirlbeast
Mar. 2nd, 2005 08:35 pm (UTC)
Now get your booty back to work on that book! I'm looking forward to reading it, dag nabbit!

Yes, ma'am...
brokensymmetry
Mar. 3rd, 2005 04:21 am (UTC)
I was trying to say something cognizant on the subject of cutting back one's online presence — but I think the fact that I spent 20 minutes unsuccessfully wrestling with what I was trying to say in fact says it all.
wishlish
Mar. 3rd, 2005 04:02 pm (UTC)
1. I'll miss the daily peeks, but if it's necessary to forego these to get actual writing of you, go for it. I've got you on my Sage reader, which I check hourly...er...daily, so I'll catch your entries whenever you make them.

2. For the book buyers out there, I highly recommend the addall.com service. With a title or ISBN, you can find the best price/postage for books. There's a lot of similar sites, but addall is the one I like. And if you're like me, on the East Coast and impatient, BN.com does do next-day shipping on most items for free (with a $25 purchase). Granted, if the item's a little hard to find, it'll take longer, but they're still very fast and they pack their books well (best sites for good packaging are BN.com and Overstock.com; Buy.com mangled some books I bought for my wife, and I won't buy from there again). And, hey, Walmart did ship my copy of Dry Salvages perfectly.

And for fans of Caitlin's work, SubPress does a weekly e-mail listing new releases, and they do discount pre-orders on some books quite nicely. I'm very happy with them. And let's face it, buying from SubPress makes Caitlin's publisher happy, which means we get more books, which we'll get now that Caitlin's going on blog break. (Right, Caitlin?)
( 21 comments — Have your say! )