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Monday, January 24, 2011

The voices in my head...

It's my day to blog over at The Lady Killers, and our topic this week is "Voice."

When I was writing Wounded Earth, I took a correspondence course, so that I could get the story development and editing help of a published author. (This is a step that I highly recommend.)

I still remember getting an assignment back from her. After I'd made a particularly bold narrative statement, she'd written in the margin in orange ink, "What a voice you have!" Now she didn't say it was a great voice, and she didn't say whether or not it was to her taste. But I took her comment to mean that I sounded like myself.

Hop on over to The LadyKillers and see what else I had to say on the subject:

Because if nobody's over there reading it, then I'm just listening to the sound of my own voice...and all those other voices in my head...

Mary Anna

Friday, January 21, 2011

While I wasn't blogging, the world was changing...

...and it's still changing.

I've been a dormant blogger for a few months, because I've had a death in the family and a birth in the family and because both of my book deadlines have been moved.  Twice each.  I'm a little shellshocked.  I hope to get back to blogging regularly, because my topic--how books get made--is a target that just won't sit still.  I've missed you guys.

If you were awake during the Christmas season, you know that Kindles and Nooks and all the other e-readers were the hot gift of 2010.  For those of us whose livelihood depends on generating text for the rest of the world to read, it doesn't really make that much difference where you read it.  In a book or in a magazine or on an e-reader long as we get paid, it's all the same to us. 

It's the "getting paid" part that scares us about this strange new electronic world.  How are people going to find our deathless prose in the deluge of text that is erupting because it is just so easy to publish your work these days without the aid of a publisher?  And it's cheap, too.

I'm still trying to figure out how things are going to work in the publishing business this year, but I know it will be different from last year.  And I know next year will be different yet again.

I've been stumbling around the book biz since late 2002, and I've seen some astonishing changes. Some of them are tragic. I estimate that I've signed at 75 independent bookstores in that time, and I also estimate that at least 25 of them are gone.

The rise of ebooks and ereaders has been staggering, as well. I feel that I should be spending all my time tracking that trajectory and trying to figure out how my books and I fit in, but there is the problem of needing to write the next book. In fact, I should be writing that book instead of doing this.  It is a conundrum.

The emergence of book bloggers as a powerhouse in the publishing industry, however, is what is on my mind today. All those voices, all those individuals who are promoting books just because they want to, not because they're employed by a review journal--they're starting to add up into something I don't think we've seen before.

My traditionally published books from Poisoned Pen Press get good reviews from both traditional reviewers and the book blog community, and that's great. My sales show it. But I have a some ebooks that I published myself for the sheer love of it--a thriller called Wounded Earth, a mini-anthology called Offerings, and several short stories. They're not going to get the attention of traditional reviewers but, this week, Offerings got the attention of some influential book bloggers and the results are remarkable.

Red Adept  named OFFERINGS the #1 Short Story Collection of 2010, and my sales took a noticeable bump upward, dipping in and out of the Top 100 mystery anthologies on Amazon. (And that's in all books, not just Kindle books.)

Then, today, the ladies at featured OFFERINGS on their blog.  Its monthly sales had doubled before breakfast, and I woke up to find it ranked as the #20 mystery anthology on all of Amazon. Since breakfast, it has risen to #10.  Amazing.

Is this making me rich?  No.  It will probably generate enough income enough for me to take my daughter to McDonald's a few times this month, which would be terrible for our arteries if I actually did it.  But today's events show me the potential that is out there, if the right blogger champions my work at the right time. 

How am I going to make that happen?  Heck if I know.  But it's encouraging enough that I'm willing to keep trying.

Mary Anna