Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Guest Post by Gail Z. Martin

Good morning, everyone! I am happy to have one of the hardest working women in fiction - Gail Z. Martin - here today to promote her upcoming Iron & Blood (due out from Solaris July 7).

Before I hand things over to Gail, I wanted to tell you a bit about the new release. You might know her from her epic fantasy series (Chronicles of the Necromancer, Fallen Kings Cycle, and Ascendant Kingdoms) or her urban fantasy work (Deadly Curiosities/Deadly Curiosities Adventures). She's also a frequent contributor to anthologies and pretty massive web presence as well. Now with Iron & Blood, she's tackling steampunk! That's right, Gail Z. Martin's latest is the first in a new steampunk series coauthored with her husband, Larry N. Martin.

Here's a bit about the book from the publisher:

New Pittsburgh in 1898, a crucible of invention and intrigue, the hub of American industry at the height of its steam-driven power. Born from the ashes of devastating fire, flood and earthquake, New Pittsburgh is ruled by the shadow government of The Oligarchy.

In the abandoned mine tunnels beneath the city, supernatural creatures hide from the light, emerging to feed in the smoky city known as ‘hell with the lid off.’ Jake Desmet and Rick Brand, heirs to the Brand & Desmet Import Company, travel the world to secure treasures and unusual items for the collections of wealthy patrons, accompanied by Jake’s cousin, Veronique ‘Nicki’ LeClercq .

Smuggling a small package as a favor for a Polish witch should have been easy. But when hired killers come after Jake and a Ripper- style killer leaves the city awash in blood, Jake, Rick and Nicki realize that dark magic, vampire power struggles and industrial sabotage are just a prelude to a bigger plot that threatens New Pittsburgh and the world.

Stopping that plot will require every ounce of Jake’s courage, every bit of Rick’s cunning, every scintilla of Nicki’s bravura and all the steam-powered innovation imaginable.

Sounds amazing, right?! She had me at steampunk, honestly, but abandoned mine tunnels with supernatural creatures AND a Jack the Ripper wannabe... yep. I'm sold!

And now to hand things over to Gail!

Four Ways Well-Meaning Readers Put Their Favorite Authors Out of Business 

By Gail Z. Martin 

Readers love their books, and no readers that I've ever met would intentionally make it harder for their favorite series to keep coming out with books. But in today's changing marketplace, the publishing world is in turmoil. And whether readers realize it or not, they are part of the equation, since how they acquire their books and what they do with the book after purchase impacts whether or not more books by that author will continue to be published.

Here are a couple of ways well-meaning readers may accidentally be putting their favorite authors out of business--and how you can change that.

#1 Not buying a series until all the books are out. I write three ongoing series at a time--an epic fantasy series, an urban fantasy series and a steampunk series. Two of those series are open-ended, meaning that for the Deadly Curiosities books and the Jake Desmet Adventures, the books stand alone and there isn't a set number of volumes in the series. But for my Chronicles of the Necromancer series and my current Ascendant Kingdoms Saga, there are a fixed number of books in that main story arc.

I can't tell you how many times someone has said, "This looks good. But I always wait until all the books are out in a series before I buy any because I like to binge-read them."

Problem is, authors need to eat on a regular basis, and publishers want to see interest in a series in order to keep bringing the books out. When readers put off buying individual books in multi-book series until the whole series is out, publishers have no indication of reader interest and are likely to discontinue the series because it isn't popular or profitable. If that happens, your favorite author might not get another contract from that publisher because the last book/series 'failed'. And yes, your purchase matters. You. Because if everyone says "my purchase is just one in a million," then no one buys the book. Every purchase makes a difference.

No one says you have to read books as you buy them. Most readers have a 'to be read' pile a mile high. Do your favorite author a favor and buy the new book in his/her series (preferably in the first 90 days and as close to the publication date as possible) to show the publisher you want to keep on seeing new books from this author/series. This goes double for indie authors who don't get advance checks and depend on month-to-month sales revenue, but it's also true for those of us who write for big publishers. We're all only as valuable to publishers as our last sales report. Your purchase makes a difference.

#2 Returning ebooks for a refund after they've been read. I remember hearing stories about girls who would buy a prom dress, not cut off the tags, wear it to the big dance, and then try to return it to the store for a refund. Stores get testy about this for a reason. It's a form of theft. The consumer gets the value but doesn't pay for the value. Returning ebooks for a refund not because they were ordered by mistake or have a technological flaw or aren't what you thought they were, but instead returning them after the reader has finished reading the book is also a form of theft, because the author receives nothing for the transaction.

What about libraries? Libraries pay a special rate to publishers based on the intention to loan out a book. Publishers factor in the library cost knowing that most books rent a certain number of times, and so the library cost has to recoup a portion of those lost sales. In that case, it's like a store that rents tuxedos--they have factored the temporary use into the price. Authors get paid for sales to libraries. We make nothing on returned books.

#3 Downloading off pirate sites. Yes, I know that some people make the argument that pirated books are a form of 'advertising'. That pirates may tell their friends about an awesome book, and then the friend may go actually buy a copy. That pirates wouldn't have bought a book because they have no money and therefore a 'sale' isn't lost. Imagine how far that defense would go if someone shoplifted a physical book from the local bookstore. Pirate sites are a form of shoplifting and book theft. It's taking a product that is for sale without paying for it.

I'd much rather have someone borrow my book from the library or even borrow it from a friend who paid for it than download off the pirate sites. At least in those cases, someone purchased a copy of the book to start with. And while authors don't get any money from books re-sold at yard sales or second-hand bookstores, there again at least the book was purchased one time. (By the way, if you get your books mainly through libraries, yard sales and re-sale shops, please 'pay' the author with a review on Amazon or Goodreads. That would be a huge help!)

#4 Being addicted to free books. I understand the appeal of sites like Bookbub and Kindle Unlimited, especially for power-readers, people who read a book a day or multiple books a week. And I get the need to watch the budget. But writing books is time-consuming and actually work (to put out a good, well-written, well-edited and well-produced product). A surprising number of 'big-name' authors already have to work a second job because publishing isn't as lucrative for most people as readers might think. So getting paid for books matters a lot to authors, especially as advances from publishers shrink.

BookBub is a service publishers arrange to get wide early visibility with high volume readers. So it's a calculated risk, just like doing a book giveaway on Goodreads. The gamble is trading a certain number of free books with the hope of word of mouth and/or online reviews against lost revenue. It works when the freebies result in buzz and reviews. It fails when people take the free books and don't give back the reviews/buzz. So if you sign up for a program like BookBug or register to win free books on Goodreads, Reddit or other sites that do giveaways, please help the author out with a positive review when you can honestly do so.

If you really love your favorite authors and series, please help those writers keep writing by using the power of your wallet and also by posting reviews on online sites. Your favorite authors are depending on you!

Check out my new Steampunk novel Iron and Blood, co-written with Larry N. Martin, set in an alternative history Pittsburgh in 1898. In stores July 7!

The Hawthorn Moon Sneak Peek Event includes book giveaways, free excerpts and readings, all-new guest blog posts and author Q&A on 28 awesome partner sites around the globe. For a full list of where to go to get the goodies, visit www.AscendantKingdoms.com

About the authors:

Gail Z. Martin writes epic fantasy, urban fantasy and steampunk for Solaris Books and Orbit Books. In addition to Iron and Blood, she is the author of Deadly Curiosities and the upcoming Vendetta in her urban fantasy series;The Chronicles of The Necromancer series (The Summoner, The Blood King, Dark Haven, Dark Lady’s Chosen) from Solaris Books and The Fallen Kings Cycle (The Sworn, The Dread) as well as Ice Forged, Reign of Ash, and War of Shadows in The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga from Orbit Books. Gail writes two series of ebook short stories: The Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures and the Deadly Curiosities Adventures and her work has appeared in over 20 US/UK anthologies.

Larry N. Martin fell in love with fantasy and science fiction when he was a teenager. After a twenty-five year career in Corporate America, Larry started working full-time with his wife, author Gail Z. Martin and discovered that he had a knack for storytelling, plotting and character development, as well as being a darn fine editor. Iron and Blood is their first official collaboration. On the rare occasions when Larry isn’t working on book-related things, he enjoys pottery, cooking and reading.

Find them at www.JakeDesmet.com, on Twitter @GailZMartin or @LNMartinauthor, on Facebook.com/WinterKingdoms, at DisquietingVisions.com blog and GhostInTheMachinePodcast.com, on Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/GailZMartin free excerpts, Wattpad http://wattpad.com/GailZMartin.

Big, big thanks to Gail for being here today and to the folks at Solaris for setting up the guest post. 

1 comment:

Unknown said...

For my favorite authors, I get both a physical book and an ebook. As someone who once could not afford books, being able to support authors is a joy.