The Lyons' Den

Home of author Brenna Lyons. Join Brenna as she waxes poetic...or rants and raves.

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Location: Haverhill, Massachusetts, United States

What do you get when you have a child writing seriously at the age of 7 and competing at the age of 11? A woman raised in an inner-city DMZ, weaned on too many nights of watching classic Chiller Theater until the wee hours of the morning with no parental guidance? Someone who is rumored to have picked locks to libraries to get her reads in? You end up with the Susan Lucci of e-publishing, the president of EPIC, and a driven, sleep-deprived author of fantasy and horror, straight genre through romance, dark romance, and erotica, poetry and articles. You find a woman who narrowed her college degree choices based on a comment a teacher made about her becoming "the perfect auditor or the perfect thief." And, you probably find a woman who is rumored to have once incited a accident. With degrees in accounting and computer programming, backgrounds in everything from teaching to clerking, tracking fraud suspects to working for the Air Force and the Navy as as civilian, it's strange irony that Brenna Lyons will become best known for her first love...writing. Brenna is an active member of EWAG, BroadUniverse, EPIC, WRW, ERWA and TELL.

Friday, May 13, 2005

More on LOCUS...the BS deepens...part two

As it happens, I had breakfast with Charlie Brown, the Publisher of Locus, and Liza Trombi, one of his assistant editors, just a couple of days ago, and the subject of POD fiction came up. They said they receive just about all the genre POD titles -- not from the publishers, but from the authors.

Which they apparently never read, and that means they are clueless even as they throw stones. A sad state of affairs. I don't ask that they READ all the books, but I do ask that they stop making assumptions and snide comments about a market they know NOTHING about.

BTW, I HIGHLY doubt that they receive anything approaching all there is in the genre. The fact that they think they do shows their ignorance of the sheer enormity of the market. In addition to the fact that they couldn't possibly handle all the books there are, it comes as a suprise to many authors when I suggest they send a copy to LOCUS at all.

The high prices are real. On top of that, many POD publishers (most notably PublishAmerica) don't offer retailers the standard discount, and don't take returns.

Actually, many do, thus proving yet again that Ms. Hayden knows not of what she speaks. What MOST do not allow is stripping of books. Of course, the book stores prefer the old system, wasteful as it is; it is to their benefit in many ways. Someday the resources will not support it. That won't be this year or even this decade, but it will come eventually, and unless a new BIODEGRADABLE paper is put into use, you will see the collapse of the current system when the price of this waste becomes too high.

Notice how she uses Publish America as her benchmark. That alone shows that the woman cannot see past her bias to the REAL publishers out there. Publish America is, for all intents and purposes, a subsidy/vanity press that gets it's money by giving lower royalties until a book sells past certain marks. Publish America puts out a large number of (if not all) the books it receives as submissions.

Speaking to respected royalty-paying small presses, many of whom have thier POD trade paperbacks on the shelves of Borders, Waldenbooks or even Barnes and Noble, their average acceptance rate ranges from 1 in 40 to 1 in 150. As their submissions increase, their rejection rate increases with it. It has to.

It's no surprise that bookstores don't want to bother with POD titles. It's not fair to writers like you, or to small publishers who're traditional in everything but the print-and-bind technology they use; but booksellers generally have enough work to do without undertaking to make the world fair for authors and small publishers.

In a RARE moment, she reverses much of what she's just said and tries to act like she really does see a difference between the different publishers. Sad that she couldn't have done that throughout the entire piece.

No one is asking for it. It amazes me that she presumes to make yet more assumptions when she obviously knows nothing about the truth of the matter. No one is asking that every POD book be carried in book stores. It's not feasible. However, SOME book store chains have an office that does consider publishers based on returns, discount, availablity and several books they offer for read. IF this system worked correctly, that office would work without interference and would facilitate the type of books Ms. Hayden CLAIMS to want to see succeed making it into stores. The system does NOT work correctly, and that is the only reason why Piers Anthony's small press books are not widely distributed in the chain stores at this time.

The vast majority of POD titles will never be shelved in brick-and-mortar bookstores.

This decade... I have all the time in the world, thanks, because my books don't have to go out of print unless my publisher and I wish them to. Beyond that, shelf space is at a premium, and many NY publishers are finding it difficult to get their books on the same number of shelves they did five years ago. It's a sign of the times.

Erotica and specialized romance subgenres appeal to small audiences who fervently desire a very specific range of subjects and approaches.

Oh, if I needed any more proof that the woman is completely clueless about anything but her own little corner of the world, this was it! Romance is the #1 selling type of book in the world, comprising about 50% of fiction sales (last time I checked) and a large chunk of all books sold. The highest selling romance subgenres today are cross-genre SF/f/horror/paranormal, erotic, sensual, and Christian...followed by some of the old standards. The fact that the established straight genre SF/f houses are starting erotic and romance lines and the straight romance houses are starting highly-cross genre lines should tell Ms. Hayden something. It tells everyone else in the world something.

The fact remains that the publishing houses that use offset printing to produce books in the tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of copies publish (on the whole) vastly better books than your average POD publisher; and they inarguably have lower per-unit costs.

Lower cost? Certainly! Better quality books? Not likely. There are good books everywhere and bad books everywhere. Judging an entire market on the black sheep would be as brainless as me judging every book in NY by the idiots who let authors bargain editing out of their contracts. I don't care who the author is; continuity and line edits are ESSENTIAL.

While Ms. Hayden finds it easy to dismiss anything she doesn't want to accept, she's clearly taking an elitist view and forgetting the truth that many evolutions of this industry and this genre come as a result of grassroots efforts that blossom.



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