Thursday, January 06, 2005

PAPERBACK WRITER: Vol. I of the Collected Responses To the Mad Max Author Survey

Long ago, in a land far, far away—that is, back in October ’04, just a couple of weeks after the launch of BOOKANGST 101—Mad Max sent out a “Call to Writers” survey asking for intimate responses from published authors to a series of questions about how their books had been marketed and published.

By now most of those who were brave enough to respond are surely convinced the whole thing was a hoax; the plain truth is, Max bit off more than he could chew. The writers’ experiences were so different one from another that it was impossible to extrapolate from them the kind of “quantifiable data” he’d hoped they’d yield. Each had its own distinct arc and required its own distinct narrative. Today’s is the first of those…

[GENERAL NOTE: Thanks to all the authors who've participated in this survey; and thanks, too, for your patience. More pieces based on your comments are in the works. --MMP]
One of the most unexpected responses to the survey came from a self-proclaimed "Paperback Writer," a woman who makes no bones about writing “genre” fiction—indeed, there are few genres she hasn’t mastered—who writes six to eight novels a year, under such names as S.L. Viehl, Rebecca Kelly, Jessica Hall and Gena Hale. Six of her novels have been Locus science fiction bestsellers. (Memo to tyros: don't call it "sci-fi"--the proper shorthand is "SF".) Beginning in March '05, writing as Lynn Viehl, she launches a new series called the Darkyn novels--the first of which is IF ANGELS BURN.

[Announcer's voice over p.a.: Ladies and Gentlemen, please give a warm Mad Max welcome to LYNN VIEHL!!! Crowd roars as LV enters, STAGE RIGHT, and sits in a chair across from The Host, who is wearing a handsome Brooks Bros. Haz-Mat suit. Interview begins.]

MMP: First off, Lennon & McCartney's "Paperback Writer" is one of the hippest & catchiest songs the Beatles ever recorded. It also happens to be the title of your blog. I suspect this is not a coincidence—because in the same way there's not a hint of irony or apology in the song, I get the sense that you've had your fill of authors looking down on you as a "paperback writer" and, in fact, you're pretty damn proud of what you've accomplished. Care to comment?

[As LV begins to answer, the Announcer's voice can be heard over the p.a., singing, in operatic baritone: It's a steady job/And I wanna be a paperback writer]
LYNN VIEHL: I did name the weblog after the Beatles tune, which always makes me laugh when I listen to it. I'm very proud and happy to be a working writer.

M: I have to say: of all the people who responded to my "Call to Authors," questionnaire, your story struck me as the most upbeat. You seemed not to have met the same level of disappointment and frustration that a lot of the other authors spoke about. Were you sugar-coating? Or is it that, because you're writing paperback originals, you come at this with a different—perhaps more realistic?—set of expectations than many so-called "literary" novelists? LV: I've had my disappointments, but not many, and they made me work harder. I didn't know anything about the industry and I never met another writer until after I was published, so that may have something to do with it. My only expectation was simply to see my name on the cover of a book, and I've done that twenty-six times in five years.

M: You also seemed to be among the best paid of all of the respondents.
LV: The reason my writing income is in six figures is because I write very fast, I'm aggressive about finding work, and I'm willing to work 12 to 16 hours a day at the job.

M: If you don’t mind my asking, what's the most you've ever been paid for a book? And how many do you generally write per year?
LV: The largest advance I've been paid for a single novel is $25,000.00. I write six to eight novels a year.

M: So far you've written science fiction, inspirational fiction, romance, romantic suspense... and now you're about to launch the new "Darkyn" series (from Signet), which is described on your website as "dark fantasy." The first of these, IF ANGELS BURN (great title, b.t.w.), comes out in March '05; its sequel, PRIVATE DEMON, follows in Dec. '05, and Book III, DARKNESS HAS NO NEED, about 8 months after that. Tell me a little about the series.
LV: The Darkyn novels evolved from a series of short stories about vampires that I wrote for my readers and posted on my old web site. The basic premise for the series is, what if humans were the monsters, and vampires the victims?

M: Have you finished writing Book II yet? And will the series continue on past Book III?
LV: I am right in the middle of writing book two. My contract is for three novels, but it's an open-ended series, and I've outlined five more novels. If the series does well, I'll keep writing them.

M: Back on November 22--so 3+ months prior to publication of IF ANGELS BURN--you launched a very spiffy website, Darkyn.com, that features a nifty animation--you described it as "big, splashy, almost like the traler for a Hollywood movie," as well as dramatic use of audio, a chat room... And in a little over a month, you've already got more than 30 fans actively interacting on the message board. Whose idea was the site? Who designed it, and how did you find them? How much did it cost? And who paid--you, or Signet?
LV: The site was my idea, but it was designed by Metro DMA. I wanted the best designers in the business, and several people in the industry recommended them. The site design, hosting and publicity for it cost about 20% of my advance for the three books. I paid for the entire thing myself.

M: What do you hope to accomplish with this site?
LV: My schedule doesn't allow me time for most of the traditional methods of self-promotion, such as book signings and appearances at conventions, and I don't think they work anyway, so a web site was the logical alternative. I'd like the site to be a place where readers gather and talk as well as find out more about my work.

M: And how do you go about getting attention for it? Do you have your own database of names that you've collected from your previous books, people you notified when the site went live? Does Signet have a list?
LV: I've never done this sort of thing before, so I've never had a database. For the site launch, I contacted people in the industry I thought might be interested, obtained their permission to send them a press release, and built a one-time-only mailing list (I hate SPAM so I was careful to ask first.). I also sent PRs to all the newspapers in my home state, the major national newspapers and a select number of industry and trade magazines. Signet probably has their own list, but I didn't involve the publisher.

M: How is this potentially different from what you've done before? And what's your sense, at this point, of how well it's working?
LV: I've only ever done active promotion for one novel before this, StarDoc—my first novel, which was a LOCUS bestseller, as were all four of its sequels—and did the usual postcards/flyers/ bookmarks/book signings/convention appearances. Despite the expense and time sunk into that publicity, it did virtually nothing for the book. I wasn't comfortable with it, either. I'm not much of a public figure and a lot of traditional self-promotion has a desperate feel to it that I don't like. Or maybe I'm just not that desperate.

After StarDoc I dropped all the self-promotion, built my first web site for my readers and from there just stayed home and concentrated on writing books. My numbers gradually built and all of my books sold well. The web site became a place where I interacted with readers, and many of the stories I wrote for them eventually became novels that I sold.

The Darkyn site is basically growing at the same rate that my first web site did. If pre-orders keep rolling in, I'll probably get a larger first print run (that was one of my strategies, to build momentum for the books.) My readers are delighted with it. Signet tells me the book buyers are very interested in the first novel, and they've assigned a publicist to handle the press inquiries. I've made a bunch of new contacts in the industry. I'm invested in this for the long-term, so all this works for me.

On the down side, I had hoped to see more buzz on the internet about the Darkyn site launch, but that didn't happen. Could have something to do with the fact that my press release collided with Thanksgiving week, and I was polite and conservative with distribution, but it's easy to make excuses. I’d thought that the fact I haven’t promoted myself in quite a while, combined with Metro DMA's reputation would generate some interest, but the lack of self-promotion may have actually worked against me this time. As one industry pro told me, "I've never heard of you. Why should I bother checking out your web site?"

Even the down side is good. Writers don't like being served humble pie, but without regular helpings we become total ego monsters.

M: Aside from the online piece, what plans does Signet have to promote the series? And/or what plans do you have, separate from them?
LV: Signet has planned to promote the series over on their author promo site, writerspace.com. They've been very supportive in providing me with everything I needed for the web site designers, too, especially the art department. I will be maintaining a presence at the web site, and sending out excerpt chapbooks to select conventions, but my writing schedule is very tight, and that's all I have time to do.

M: As I mentioned earlier, you have a blog called “Paperback Writer. Do you see blogs principally as vehicles for a more intimate kind of communication, or do you see them potentially benefiting writers in a commercial way? Differently, I mean, from the posting boards at the Darkyn site?
LV: I had some second thoughts about even mentioning my weblog in this interview. My first weblog, StarLines, became a magnet for trolls and stalkers, and I got tired of dealing with that. Paperback Writer was something I started writing privately for my friends, and I've been journaling almost daily since 1974, so I enjoy it, too. I've disabled comments, and I'm trying to be more politic, so this one might work out better than the earlier one did. It's a wait-and-see experiment.

M: In the original author survey, I'd asked what marketing efforts, in your experience, had been the least effective in terms of selling books. You answered "self promotion, going to conventions." Yet to my next question--What would you like to see happen for you/your books in the future—you gave an answer that concluded "I'll do the rest on my own." Is that not self-promotion? Can you clarify what you mean?
LV: I should have said "traditional self-promotion" because the whole booksigning/postcards/ bookmarks/convention thing is outdated and virtually worthless in a marketing sense. Writers need to pursue new, inventive avenues to market their books. That's what I've tried to do with my website.

[Announcer's voice over p.a., as author exits: Ladies and Gentlemen, IF ANGELS BURN, the launch volume of Lynn Viehl’s Darkyn series, goes on sale in March 2005. Interview ends.]


78 comments:

Chaibat said...

Six to eight novels a year? LV is the Queen! How many of the 12 to 16 hours are writing, how many are assorted less-painful tasks? Or do you not find writing painful? (Now -there- is a question I'd like to see on a survey of writers.)

I asked my editor and agent what I could do to help promote the upcoming novel: they said, make sure your second is at least as good. Aside from MJ Rose, James Patterson, and the people who spend years driving around to bookstores handselling novels, I can't think of anyone who recently effectively self-promoted fiction. Rose, I think, very cleverly and ably exploited a historical moment--with the web and online promotion--which no longer really exists. I have no idea how much Patterson spent on TV, or what markets he targeted, etc. I think ads and booksigning, conferences and even websites do a great deal more to allow the author to thing she or he is contributing than to actually sell books. I've no idea how I'd spend, say, $50,000 to make myself the next household name. Which sucks, because that means I have to follow my agent and editor's plan, and Lord knows my writing is laughably bad.

Oh, and here's another question for an author survey: How many authors try to write 'literature?' My pet theory is that 'literature' is the greatest obstacle writers face.

Jozef Imrich, Esq. said...

"He said, 'Two dollars, girls.' Then he said, 'A dollar?' Then, 'Fifty cents?' Then, 'A quarter?' Finally, he said, 'For God's sake, just read me...'

That seems to be my advance dialogue with the agents and readers (smile)

Karen Junker said...

If I had as much money as Viehl has spent on her website alone...I'd have hired a good publicist - such as Blue Moon Communications (Theresa Meyers), the woman who got Carly Phillips on the Today show...

You Don't Know Me said...

First off, props to LV for writing for 12hrs a day and loving her "genre-ness." There are too many literary fiction snobs out there. Being employed at a Literary Agency, I've heard many good and bad promo stories. What seems to be the most consistent response is that the big houses have too many books and not enough publicists and many authors have mroe success self promoting or hiring their own publicists. One of our clients has had GREAT success with this last option. Publishing is a business and publishers must look at bottom lines before anything else. My advice: If you're not happy with your book' promotion--start shaking hands and kissing babies yourself.
And to respond to the previous post-er: writing is EXTREMELY painful for me--until I get deep in a story and then it's bliss. That's the only thing that keeps me going.

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Hi Lynn -
One thing I find interesting is that judging by google, your blog is getting more traffic than your booksite, even though the booksite is more beautifully designed.
These are the links to your books site
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and these are the links in to your blog
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Now that might change over time, but my feeling is it’s better to start a buzz campaign where the people already are-- unfortunately, most web agencies just leave you with the site: it’s kind of like having a billboard delivered, unassembled, to your garage. You need links.

It can be a lot of work to get to them, but there are companies in the business who specializ in it, and if you want your site to pay off it's worth looking into them. And you should be doing these interviews on sites where vampire fans gather too.
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Books are curious things. We publish over 125,000 new titles a year in Britain - more than any other nation of a comparable size - yet books are much less perishable than most other forms of media, be they newspapers, magazines, radio, television, even films. Book publishing can work as a craft trade, such that specialist titles appealing to only 2,000 readers can be economically viable. By contrast, substantial capital investment means computer games, TV shows, theatre productions, music albums and so forth have to appeal to much bigger audiences to get financed.

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I owned a book publisher for a period and found it a painful experience. I learned that the cashflow characteristics are most unattractive. You pay authors upfront for manuscripts that might not arrive for years; you then ship finished volumes to booksellers who only accept them on a sale or return basis, and demand at least 55 per cent trade discount, and pay 120 days later.

Most titles on a publisher's list lose money and sell at most a few thousand copies - editors are perpetually searching feverishly for the elusive bestseller to subsidise all the flops. It is a winner-takes-all business. Occasionally, there are windfalls from foreign or film rights, and backlists provide a degree of long-term income. But even giant trade publishers only make 5 per cent operating margins, despite spin-off benefits and global scale at multi-media conglomerates like Bertelsmann, News Corporation, Pearson and Time Warner.

Of course, that is one of the reasons book publishing is so tough: it is ferociously competitive because so many participants do it for uneconomic reasons. They understand that books are central to civilization. We do at least buy many more books than we used to - but actually read a lower proportion of them. Sadly for the book trade, persistent price deflation means the production efficiencies of technology advances in pre-press, printing, binding and logistics have all been given away to the reading public.

Moreover in Britain, enormous concentration of power among chain retailers like WH Smith, Waterstones, Borders and Ottaker's means there are now only a handful of powerful customers who demand ever better terms from suppliers. Even the emergence of online sellers like Amazon hasn't really helped: they insist on a wholesaler's discount and undermine the sale of full-price copies. And 20 per cent of Amazon's sales are now used books, a huge stimulus to the second-hand trade which doesn't help new book publishers.

The internet poses perhaps the greatest threat to the book, and yet the roughly 5 per cent annual growth in the value of the British book market in recent years suggests it is faring better than the music business.

Books have advantages: they are portable, collectable, cheap and can be skimmed. Even sales of reference books have risen in the last few years, despite the cornucopia of free information available on the web.

For the book trade, progress has meant diversity and that is probably a strength. New titles, formats and imprints help keep the business vigorous - as does originality. Ultimately, British book publishing will only be successful if it is original and creative: be it Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter, books can generate ideas and stories that fuel all other forms of entertainment. Derivative content will never grow the industry - fresh talent and imagination are needed to keep it alive.

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清朝美女 said...

(法新社倫敦四日電) 英國情色大亨芮孟的公司a片昨天a片下載說,芮孟日前去世,享壽八十二歲;這位身價上億的房地產開發商,曾經在倫敦av女優推出第一情色視訊成人影片脫衣舞表演。色情
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芮孟的av女優財產av估計達六億五千萬英鎊(台幣將近四百億),由日本av於他名下事業大多分布在倫敦夜生活區蘇活區,因色情影片成人擁有「蘇活之王」的稱號。成人網站


他的公司「保羅芮情色孟集團」旗下發行部落格多種情色雜誌,包成人網站括「Razzle」、「男性世界」以及「Ma部落格yfair」。


芮孟成人電影本名傑福瑞a片.安東尼.奎恩,父親為搬成人光碟運承包商。成人影片芮孟十五成人網站歲離開學av女優校,矢言要在表成人演事業留名,起先表演讀成人影片心術,後來成為巡迴av歌舞雜耍表sex演的製a片作人。


許多評論家認為,他把情色表演帶進主流社會a片,一九五九年主持破天荒的脫衣舞表演情色電影,後來更AV片靠著在蘇avdvd活區與倫部落格敦西區開發房成人電影地產賺得色情a片大筆財富。

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有人形容芮孟av是英a片下載國的海夫色情納,地位等同美國的「花花公子」創辦人海夫納。

元美女 said...

(法新社a倫敦二B十WE四日電) 「情色二零零七」情趣產品大產自二十三日起在色情影片倫敦的肯辛頓成人電影奧林匹亞展覽館成人影片舉行,倫敦人擺脫對性A片下載的保守態度踴躍參觀,許成人網站多穿皮衣與塑膠緊身衣的好色之徒擠進這項世界規模最大的成人生活展,估計三天展期可吸引八萬多好奇民眾參觀。

活動計畫負責色情人米里根承諾:「要搞浪漫A片、誘惑人、玩虐待,你渴望的我們都有。」

他說:「時髦的設計與華麗女裝,從吊色情飾到av女優束腹到真人大小的雕塑,是我們由今年展出的數千件產品精情色電影選出的一部分,參展產品還包括時尚服飾、貼情色電影身女用內在美、鞋子、珠寶、玩具、影片、藝術、圖書及遊戲,更不要說性愛輔具av及馬術裝備。」

參觀民眾遊覽兩百五十多個攤位AVAV女優有性感服裝、玩具及情色食品,迎合各種品味。
a片
大舞情色台上表演的是美國野蠻搖滾歌手瑪莉蓮曼森的前妻─全世界頭牌脫衣舞孃黛塔范提思成人影片,這是成人電影她今年a片下載在英國唯一一場表演。

以一九四零年代風格演出的a片黛塔范提思成人網站表演性感的天堂鳥、旋轉木馬及羽扇等舞蹈。

參展攤情色位有的推廣情趣用品,有的公開展示人體藝術和人體雕塑,也有情色藝術家工會成員提供建議。

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aa-aa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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小吃餐車加盟連鎖「一條龍的創業模式」複製成功開店經驗
更新日期:2009/08/25 17:19

(中央社訊息服務20090825 16:19:17)大環境不景氣,工作難找,有不少人就想乾脆自己創業當老闆。為強化國內創業能量,五路財神開店總部於8月20日-9月20日舉辦「2009夢幻小餐車創業成果展」歡迎蒞臨參觀。針對國內一窩蜂創業加盟潮,餐車達人陳滌五總監提醒創業者,加盟不失為一條創業捷徑,但若選擇加盟,品牌知名度、產品獨特性及是否擁有差異化優勢就顯得格外重要。
近年來以成本低的小吃餐車最受創業者青睞。沒經驗的失業族 大部份都選擇餐車擺攤,最多人都想在創業市場闖出一片天。在台中成立的五路財神開店總部,小吃餐車用品牌方式來營運,總經理陳滌五用自己的經驗來現身說法。以國人創業首選的小吃餐車來說,如何在同質性高的市場中殺出重圍?雖然是路邊攤小餐車,營運上的重要撇步是關鍵;在企業經營戰略中,唯有領先核心競爭,保持差異化優勢才是生存之道。
陳總分享成功關鍵,「五路財神餐車與其他路邊攤最大的差異化,在於餐車外觀亮眼與眾不同的加分效果,及秉持結合好的小吃產品用品牌方式來經營的理念」。總部成立初期因觀察到傳統路邊攤想要爭得一席之地,大多考量商品創新的迷思,卻忽略創業者經營能否持久性的問題。所以五路財神餐車將傳統小吃商品,用創新工法為策略,顛覆傳統路邊攤的概念,長期下來在台灣建立起最多元品牌的餐車王國。
很多創業者最憂心沒經驗,業界首創從餐車打造、生財器具、原物料配方、技術教學、促銷廣告、開幕指導,「一條龍的創業輔導」模式,使得五路財神餐車品牌特色更為彰顯。陳總說,不景氣下小吃餐車經營是加倍艱辛,建議創業者不但要瞭解小吃經營的核心價值,凸顯產品獨特性及差異化之外還要定期和你商圈的客人互動,「好餐車、好商品、好客人」,三個好,如此才有可能成為「不敗的小吃攤」。
|加盟創業|滷味加盟|加盟|餐車|安親班|廚具||開店|新民管樂|哈比|Eric|校友隊|高中畢旅|全國音樂比賽|特優|痞子英雄|薩克斯風|東大附中|星條旗|離開地球表面|牛仔很忙|陽光宅男|新民管樂畢業生|墓仔埔也敢去

A VOCATION OF UNHAPPINESS [Courtesy Georges Simenon (1903-1985)]

"Writing is considered a profession, and I don't think it is a profession. I think that everyone who does not need to be a writer, who thinks he can do something else, ought to do something else. Writing is not a profession but a vocation of unhappiness. I don't think an artist can ever be happy."


PRACTICAL MARKETING [Courtesy Zornhau, 2005]

"They should put the 1st couple of pages up in subway adverts. Having read them several times, you'd feel compelled to try the book - if it was any good."


PLATE OF SHRIMP [Courtesy Alex Cox’s REPO MAN, circa 1984]

"A lot of people don't realize what's really going on. They view life as a bunch of unconnected incidences and things. They don't realize that there's this like lattice of coincidence that lays on top of everything. I'll give you an example, show you what I mean. Suppose you're thinking about a plate of shrimp. Suddenly somebody will say like "plate" or "shrimp" or "plate of shrimp" out of the blue, no explanation. No point in looking for one either. It's all part of a cosmic unconsciousness."