News from Connie Brockway

connieI’m just going to get out of the way really quickly here because Connie Brockway, one of my favorite writers, has some news.   So, without further ado, here’s our newest AAR interview with the author.

Connie, you’ll notice no headline or teaser giving away your news, so what’s up?

I’m going rogue, Sandy. Heading over the wall. Striking out for uncharted territory. Boldly going where (only a few thousand) have gone before! Which is my long-winded way of saying that the next book and very probably the next two full-length historical romance novels I write will be available solely as eBooks.

Though in the interest of full disclosure, I will be part of collaboration from Avon out in 2012.

So, what are the major reasons that you’re making the change?

Oh, there’s reasons a-plenty. First off, the contract I was offered was not good either monetarily and elsewise, the elsewise being in terms of eBooks. It doesn’t take too much business acumen to look at recent eBook sales history and project that eBook readers aren’t going to pony up the same amount for an eBook, that exists only as a virtual entity, as a paper book which costs substantially more to produce  (printing, shipping, warehousing, distribution, covers etc.) Or if they do, they aren’t going to do it often. And if the publishers set the price too high, it’s the authors that lose the most. I hate losing.

Of course, this was more than a business decision. Strictly as a writer, I’m squealing with joy at the notion of being completely free to write the stories I most want to read. And, I sincerely believe, that my readers most want to read.

For years, I have been trying to convince a publisher to let me do sequels to As You Desire and All Through the Night. Waste of my breath. Now, I understand from a business perspective that it doesn’t make sense to publish a book that is the sequel to one owned and still being published by another company, but let’s be honest here. There’s more to it than that.

Over the last couple years, as print publishers have been facing numerous financial crises, it has felt like they’ve become less likely to buy a book that doesn’t fit snugly within the parameters of last month’s success and since last month’s success was dictated by the previous month’s success (and so forth and so on) there hasn’t been a whole lot of room left in which to play. And I dearly love to play.

No one was or is going to buy a book from me that is set in Egypt. Or Italy. Or take a chance on my riff on the Tarzan story. And while my Facebook page poll on where readers want their books set told me loud and clear that the publishers are right, most readers do want their historical romance set in England, there’s that hallowed  word “most” to consider. My core readers have never been “most” –otherwise I would have long ago sprung to the top of the bestseller list. I like to believe that my readers are picking up my books because they like my slightly different settings or characters or time periods.

There’s evidence that there’s a huge pool of readers out there who got left behind while the legacy publishing houses were tightening their parameters, and who are starving for a gritty western or an gentle American or a bloody medieval or, blush, an off kilter sheik story.  Why, Masha Canham has topped 6000 eBook sales on Kindle since the first of the year re-issuing her wonderful pirate novel, Swept Away. And she’s done so without benefit of a Facebook page or one single tweet. Because there’s an audience who have been waiting, hunting and searching for a pirate saga. With eBooks, those readers can once again find those that speak to their romantic fantasy, not necessarily everyone else’s.

My best books, not necessarily my most successful books, but those that won awards and keep showing up on all-time favorite lists have always been the ones I wrote while  following my instincts and had very little editorial input in their concept. They were books like The Bridal Season and My Dearest Enemy and As You Desire.

I’m excited and eager to get back to having a rip-roaring good time writing, to just shooting the place up and worrying about the mess later. And I promise, the mess will be cleaned up. I have no intention of trying to pass off an unedited manuscript on anyone—especially with my storied history of typos (Harry isn’t the only one with visual dyslexia!) I’ll be working with both an editor and a copy editor to make sure the format is squeaky clean and the prose is polished.

And as an added bonus (at least for me) I’ll be designing the cover. Not many people know that when my husband was in medical school I paid the rent as a graphic illustrator. I’m working with a very talented photographer to produce some delicious, sumptuous covers.

So, you’re controlling the pricing, cover art, hiring an editor and a copyeditor – there must be incredible freedom in this. Does freedom make for better books?

That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it? (Actually I’d be happy with a lot less!) I don’t know. It certainly makes for writing with a sense of anticipation and optimisim. Some of that excitement and pleasure can’t help but translate onto the page. At least I hope so, because if it does, the books will be killer. On the other hand, maybe the freedom will go to my head and I’ll populate the As You Desire sequel with hookah smoking rabbits or write the sequel to All Through the Night from the point of view of a body louse. Hmmm…

Connie, let’s talk the future for a moment.  Do you envision other once New York-published authors taking the plunge as you are?

Absolutely. I’d like to claim the position of vanguard but there’s a number of NY print published authors who are already writing both eBooks and for legacy publishers or solely eBooks. Barry Eisler recently wrote an excellent blog about his own decision to go the eBook route.  You can read it here — just hop right over the icky frog digression midway through—yeow!

The thing is, for the last several years the publishers have been strongly suggesting that their authors do more than just write. “Do you have a Facebook page? Are you active on Twitter? Do you have a Web site? How often do you update it?” Ah, hell. They don’t suggest, they insist. And in doing so they’ve trained their authors to take over a part of the business traditionally done by publicity and art departments. Most of the authors I know write their own back cover copy, or as much of it as makes no difference, have integral input in the cover design, and promote themselves using social media (You ever read Squawk Radio?) And while some authors have a publicity maven working overtime on their behalf—hallooooo, Pam Jaffe! (Not sucking up. I’ve never worked with her. Just watched in awe from afar)—most authors are left to their own devices and they’ve learned how to wield those devices with sometimes dazzling skill.

So, at a certain point, an author has to ask himself, “What exactly will a publisher be able to for me?”

The answer may be quite a lot or it might be not nearly enough and if it’s not enough well, that’s the point where authors start planning for a different sort of future. And let me tell you it’s a helluva a scary future; I’m not going to kid you. I vacillate between being completely stoked and sick to my stomach, afraid that I might write the best book of my entire career and no one will find it to read it. That’s the biggest challenge I see in electronic publication, finding the audience. On the other hand, if I write a clunker and no one finds it…well, if an author bombs in the electronic woods but no ones read it, does it still stink?

As someone who’s waited years for Giles’ story, in particular, color me pleased.  What’s the timetable for the books to come?

Well, I’m glad I’ve made at least one person happy, Sandy! Right now I’m having two out of print books,  Promise Me Heaven (the book where Giles Strand makes his first appearance) and Anything for Love, scanned and formatted. Next week we’re doing the photo shoot for the new covers –you can keep posted on my Facebook page to see the results—and hopefully with 4-6 weeks they’ll be available for download.

The next step is to write a short story that will bridge the time period between As You Desire and it’s sequel (title to be announced—anyone got a great title? Write me!) I plan to offer the short story sometime this summer for free on my Web site to people who’ve signed up for my newsletter. So please, sign up here.  Then, sometime around Christmas, I plan to release the book.

I plan to be working concurrently on Take Me Through the Night (and if you think this title sucks, let me know!), Giles Strand’s story. I have a whopper of a dark, sexy, grim gothicy tale cooked up for poor Giles. His happily ever after has been a long time coming but he’s still going to have to work for it.

And speaking of work. I better get back to it.  Thanks, Sandy!

And thanks to Connie for her honesty. I think this is good news piled on top of good news.  Frustrated by traditional publishing, an author I love will have the opportunity to write the books of her heart that she’s wanted to write for years.  And,  lucky me, I will finally get to read Giles’ story.

What do you think?  Are you looking forward to those long-promised sequels? Any thoughts for Connie about the kinds of books you like to read?

- Sandy AAR

211 thoughts on “News from Connie Brockway

  1. Good for you! I’m an indie author, and I’m also a fan of yours. It’s funny but The Bridal Season and My Dearest Enemy are two of my favorite books of yours.

  2. My mouth literally dropped when I saw who was going rogue! Connie Brockway???

    Well, for all the naysayers who claim that Eisler was an aberration, you just proved them wrong. I think you are one of the first, and many more will follow.

  3. Well done Connie for waking up and smelling the coffee. Not all readers want to read English Regency historicals. Not all writers want to write them. As another indie historical romance author I want to say welcome to the community, hang on tight and enjoy the ride. It’s an absolite blast!

  4. “Not all readers want to read English Regency historicals.”

    Or Small Town contemporaries, virgin widows, etc… I wonder how long before people will listen to us?

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  6. Congratulations, Connie! I just finished All Through the Night, and I can’t wait to buy your new books.

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  8. Good for you, Connie! As for ‘most’ romance readers, I believe if you find an author you like, you’ll look for whatever they have out.

  9. Congrats on the new venture, Connie! It’s very exciting (I don’t know if you remember me but we sat next to each other at the Dell dinner at RWA in Anaheim years ago). E-books offer all sorts of exciting options for writers, not the least being the ability to write precisely what we want. And things are changing so fast. I bought an iPad last summer to read research book and now do all my reading on it (I buy books as e-books because I prefer them that way, and I don’t really think about the cost; I don’t expect them to be cheaper, I just like the format). I have other friends who now do all their reading electronically.

    I just last week released my third Charles and Mélanie Fraser book (for which I hadn’t been able to get a print contract) on Kindle. I’m very excited (and more than a bit nervous) to see what happens.

    Looking forward to downloading your books!

    Cheers,
    Tracy

  10. Yay, Connie! I gave up on traditional publishing about a year ago and I’ve never looked back. I think you’ll really enjoy the freedom and independence. I know I have. There’s a group of new readers who’ve never seen our work.

    Congrats!

    Alexis Harrington

  11. Gosh, while I’m happy for Connie (and other authors who are gaining control over their own work), I’m sorry I won’t be able to read her books any more. I don’t own an e-reader of any sort, and won’t as long as I feel that they’re a detriment to my method of eking out a living. It feels too much like a betrayal. I’m a bookseller, you see, with a genuine brick-and-mortar store that sells genuine tree-based books. *sad head shake* ‘bye-bye, e-authors! Loved ya, can’t sell ya in e-form. Will miss you!

  12. Ah well, brick and mortar store miss you too. I love bookstores, but my experience has been the indies treat genre writers as some sort of subspecies they don’t want to dirty their hands with. I’ve literally been told “we don’t do your type of book” by several. Most are out of business now. It amazes me how everyone weeps over the bookstore going out of business but I have yet to see a single article about an author who goes out of business.
    Writer produce the product. Readers consume the product. As we say in the Infantry: Everyone else, lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way.

    By the way, I assume you posted your reply on a computer. That means you can read an e-book. Sad head-shake. Bye bye.

    • Bob Mayer: Ah well, brick and mortar store miss you too. I love bookstores, but my experience has been the indies treat genre writers as some sort of subspecies they don’t want to dirty their hands with. I’ve literally been told “we don’t do your type of book” by several. …By the way, I assume you posted your reply on a computer. That means you can read an e-book. Sad head-shake. Bye bye.

      After one’s been in bookselling – or any business – for as long as I have (22 years this August), it is hard to see it slipping away. And it’s hard to see the supply of my “product” slipping away, too. I suppose my opinion of e-books is something the same as John Henry’s opinion of steam drills.

      But Bob, please don’t characterize my store as “just like all the others” until you’ve had a chance to drop by and see what we’re like. Ask Kate Ryan of Romantic Times about me, if you like. We support our authors here in Sharon, MA; we have signings; we construct special displays to spotlight writers of whom others have never heard. We have all sorts of genres here – and usually if I tell an author “I don’t do your type of book here”, it’s because it’s something like a 700-page volume of precis of famous operas (and its cover price was about $75, which is what put it out of our price range – otherwise I might’ve risked it, despite our lack of an “opera” section!). Grant me the fact that I know my clientele quite well after all these years. But I do carry one-offs, privately-published, locally-authored books whenever I can – it’s my duty as a bookseller to support the writers as best I can. Books about the Civil War, books about railroads, books about overcoming diabetes through diet and exercise, poetry, anime – you’ll find samples here. In fact, we do carry some of _your_ titles (and not just the ones with Jennifer Crusie, either) – some of the Doherty books, some of the Civil War books; but because we are a small store, we cannot carry everything I want to, drat it. I’ve met you at several RT conferences – we have had several friendly conversations there, honest!

      And yes, I posted on a computer, which DOES mean I CAN read an E-book. Doesn’t mean I WANT to. Reading off a computer is uncomfortable. I own two desktop computers, one at the store and one at home. Let’s see, I could be sitting upright in a chilly computer room at home, monopolizing the family ‘puter for hours on end, with my feet on a footstool to try to keep them warm, or here at the store, in-between customers, also sitting upright and vaguely uncomfortable. OR, I can curl up on the couch with my afghan and enjoy a tree-based book. Hmmmmm. No contest. And that’s why I don’t read on a computer, Bob; I love my comforts. And my books. And I suppose that someday, when I’m a “retired bookseller”, I might turn to an e-reader – but not today.

  13. As You Desire is my absolute favourite book of Connie’s, and she’s one of my favourite authors. So it is definitely one of my favourite ever books. You have NO idea how excited I got by the idea of a sequel! I will be in a restless state for months until I can get my hands on it. Thank you!

  14. THANK YOU CONNIE!!!! As an avid reader, I was so hoping that when I bought my ereader that it would enhance my reading, figuring how much does it cost to publish an ebook? I figured that my reading dollars would get me even more books! It didn’t happen! Thankfully you are taking a stand that I think is both beneficial for you as an author and to us as readers!

  15. My point of veiw from the bookseller. April 1st, (yes we were April fools) I will have had my ubs for 16 years. I can’t say as I completely understand the bussiness of Publishing. I see costs for additional contract expenses and some one has to pay for cyber storage, protection from hacking, etc. I also observe from the self publishing craze that it is very important to edit ( not your sister or father) and have the talent to tell a great story is necessary, and do your own advertizing. Your name will sell a book to someone who already knows you but what about the person who buys a book by it cover.. The first quarter of this year has been a little slow. Not get a gun and shoot myself slow but slow. I have to admit to leaning out the expenses. More and more of my customers have admitted to an e-reader of some kind over the holidays. More and more exclaiming how expensive it is to down load the books, and everytime you push that button you spend real money for something you can’t hold in your hand. The bills are coming in. The two book a month reader can survives great with just down loads, the person who reads a book everyother day is in trouble. I expect as some of the novelty wears off things will balance out. I guess I can only hope so. I will hate to see the midlist authors drop off the scene trying to make a living e-publishing. I suspect that the publishers will miss them too.

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  17. Good for you! I know I will be waiting anxiously for your new books
    Best Wishes!!!

  18. Cheers to you Connie! I will be looking forward to supporting you in this new endeavor and cannot wait to buy and read your new stuff. I would encourage any genre writers out there to give some serious thought to following this model. I would also encourage any writers that own the rights to their backlists to consider making them available electronically. I am always on the look out for older titles available in e format. I have always bought and expect I will always buy paper books, but as a genre loving reader, the e format is so simple and convenient. I find that I have bought over three times as many books annually since I purchased my kindle and that doesn’t seem to be slowing down. I don’t think this is an either/or situation. There is room for both formats, but to ignore the trend toward electronic books is unbelievably stupid on the part of publishers. They continue to cling to a dying business model and that just makes no sense.

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  20. Thanks, Sandy, for the forum and thanks to readers/writers for the well wishes. I’ve spent the week reading everything I can get my hands or eyes on regarding self-publishing and e-publishing. It’s a Augean stables type task –there’s endless piles of stuff to shovel through– but one thing is clear, the possibilities are limitless with opportunities opening up by the minute. But the core challenge remains the same whether you’re talking NYC publisher or e-pub or self-pub— getting polished, fresh, original, amazing content into the hands of the readers who want it.

    Still working on that…

  21. I’m so excited to read this! As You Desire is one of my all-time favorite romances and I anticipate your new novels with great glee. I have finally gotten into buying e-books through Borders (only because I finally signed up for their frequent buyer program and then it was just another step to buying e-books; sneaky huh?) Amazon organizes and offers their selection in a much more intuitive and helpful way but I don’t like being confined to a kindle to read their e-books. I agree that lower prices on e-books is a good idea because you’re right; there is something MORE about having a paperback in your hands. One of my pet peeves about e-books though are line editing mistakes (words with an extra space in the middle of it, a missing space between words, accidental repeating of a word, obvious misspelling like their vs. there). It really pulls me out of the story. I hope these comments are useful to you Ms. Brockway as you set about your adventure!

  22. So sad! I understand the need not to be limited to writing the books the publishers want, but what about all the readers on very small incomes who are big fans? Well…fan no more! We helped make your income lucrative, and now we are being dumped. Forgot what is is to struggle? Connie, I’m getting rid of all your books on my shelves.

    • cheryl: So sad! I understand the need not to be limited to writing the books the publishers want, but what about all the readers on very small incomes who are big fans? Well…fan no more! We helped make your income lucrative, and now we are being dumped. Forgot what is is to struggle? Connie, I’m getting rid of all your books on my shelves.

      Cheryl, not all e-book readers are expensive and if self-publishing brings the price done then you may end up saving money very soon. Certainly it seems like cutting your nose off to spite your face to remove books you like from your shelves. And no one should feel obligated into a way of working to satisfy their fans, who would hate it if someone told them who they had to work for.

      Personally I have little desire to read books electronically after spending all day on the computer. I like paperbacks, I like being able to carry them on the train and read them in bed and swap them or loan them or give them away. And as long as I have a long tbr list that I can read from paperbacks that’s what I’ll do. Occasionally an author I love writes an e-book only book and I grab all my one-side used paper and print it out to read. But that’s a personal preference and I wish all the e-book authors well.

  23. I can’t say how successful it’s been, but my local indie bookstore has partnered with Google books. So yes, you CAN sell ebooks from your brick and mortar store.

    “The two book a month reader can survives great with just down loads, the person who reads a book every other day is in trouble. ”

    Oh, I could not disagree with this more. I’m a book a day reader and I have far more downloads than I could ever read. Many of them cheap or free or from the public library. Also, I still read paper books. Having an ereader hasn’t limited me, it’s expanded my options. (Sometimes to an overwhelming degree.)

  24. Cheryl and others may not fully understand exactly how NOT lucrative it is to be a writer. They have this vision in their minds that we are all multi-millionaires because we sold scads and scads of books and made billions and billions of dollars.

    Hmm. I’ve broken down the figures over at Caesars Through the Fence, my blog, but to give those who don’t feel like reading through my whole ramble, I’ll quote part of it here:
    **
    Through A Dark Mist is currently listed on Amazon at $7.50 for the print version and $6.00 for the Kindle version. I don’t know what taxes are in your neck of the woods, but in mine, they’re 15%, so the price of a print book, for the discerning print reader, is roughly $8.60, and unless you buy three or more at the same time and spend over $25, there is a delivery charge on top of that which I can’t calculate having had only one coffee so far this morning. Ditto for figuring out over the counter sales at a bookstore, without delivery charges. For the sake of my brain, we’ll round it out to $9.00 for a print book.

    If the royalty on the print version is 8%, I earn .60 per sale, so a thousand sales=$600.00. The royalty rate on ebooks through the publisher is an average of 25%, so @$1.50/ book X 1000=$1500.00

    Already ebooks are looking better, and this has nothing to do with “the greed of authors changing to ebooks” because we have no say in the price of either the print or ebook version.

    Turn an eyeball now to self publishing. The average price point on a self published ebook is $2.99 and again I’ll use my own book as an example. The Wind and The Sea is currently on Amazon for $2.99. They list a used copy of the print version starting at $8.58 but otherwise it is unavailable anywhere, new, in print. Of that $2.99, at a royalty rate of 70%, (35% for “foreign” sales, which includes Canada…can you hear me grinding my Canuck teeth?) I earn an *average* of $2.00/book X 1000=$2000.00

    To sum it up then…

    Earnings on 1000 print books=$600.00 (cost to the reader @ $8.60)

    Earnings on 1000 ebooks through the publisher=$1500.00 (Cost the reader @$6.00)

    Earnings on 1000 self pubbed ebooks=$2000.00 (Cost to the reader @$2.99

    Seems to me, at a glance…the reader is getting a bargain and the author is almost able to make a minimum wage/year…assuming we can sell 12,000 books/year, which is iffy. Keep in mind not all authors can do their own covers, so that adds a cost. We still need to have the books professionally edited, and we need to do our own advertising and promotion (so far that has cost me more than I earned the first month 2 of my books were on sale)
    **
    One thing I didn’t mention in my blog was that we only get paid twice a year by a print publisher. And since we are not informed how well the sales or going or if there are any sales at all during each month period, we have no idea how much we will be paid, or if we will still be earning out what we were advanced when the contract was signed two or three years earlier. Try living off that kind of budget management.

    So…to Cheryl and others…if you think you’ve provided us with a lucrative income over the years, sorry to disappoint. *s*

  25. Marsha, you’re assuming Cheryl bought those books new. I have some serious doubts about that. Otherwise, why on earth would she be complaining that Connie’s next two offerings will be $5.00 cheaper to the reader than if those books were published by a New York publishing house? I’m guessing Cheryl bought the books used. In which case Connie didn’t make one single penny.

    So, the real irony here is that if Cheryl sells her used copies back to the used book store, Cheryl will have made more money on those books than Connie did.

    Money aside, though, readers who love romance novels should rejoice because ebooks are bringing some variety back. They’re allowing romance authors to write the kind of books that made us fall in love with the genre in the first place. And apparently what some readers still want but can’t find any more on the new release aisle.

    I was basically told in 2007 that no one in New York would buy my straight single title contemporaries anymore unless I made them a lot hotter or added a paranormal element. Despite the fact that I’d hit bestseller lists, had glowing reviews in PW, and won numerous awards, I’m told that “readers don’t buy straight contemporary anymore.” Oh really? Hmm, funny that my Perfect trilogy just went up as ebooks last month, and they’re selling quite well, thank you very much. So, apparently not everyone wants paranormal erotica. Some readers do still want heartwarming, fun stories about ordinary people. (Shameless plug, Almost Perfect .99¢ http://amzn.to/gOIQqy)

    For those readers who prefer a hold-in-your hands print book, and are willing to pay a bit more to have that, I’m seeing a lot of authors who have gone rogue test the waters for POD (print on demand) and I hope to join them soon.

  26. I don’t think the economic argument holds water. Ereaders are becoming more and more affordable, and the savings on the books themselves can be considerable. Most of the authors “self-publishing” their own ebooks are charging very reasonable amounts. It’s not as cheap as getting them used, perhaps, but there is satisfaction for me in knowing that the money is going directly to a favorite author.

    My $85 refurbished nook has more than paid for itself just in library downloads and public domain works, to say nothing of the other free/cheap options available. And I’ve taken chances on NTM authors like Alexia Harrington because their books are reasonably priced, so why not? Now if only I could find time to read them all…

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  28. I’m thrilled authors will be self publishing their own backlists in ereader formats. I get many recommends from friends in forums/goodreads and it’s so disappointing when the books are OOP. I don’t like having to drive to the UBS (cost me $95 for gas this week) and then spend hours digging through tons of books and maybe find what I’m looking for.

    In addition, there is nothing more frustrating than reading 2 books in a series and then find out the author didn’t publish the last book in the trilogy. I now understand it is not the authors fault…but a decision made by their publishing companies. They may think we readers don’t want to read the follow-up story….but they are wrong.

    I miss the older more lengthy style romance novels, and I know many others do to. I think self publishing by authors is going to be a winner for both the readers and the authors….And I can’t wait to read all these wonderful backlists and new books you all plan to write.

    As for the price….I can give you an example of how my aunt and I buy our ebooks. I downloaded Swept Away to our Kindle account for free a few weeks ago (I share this account with my aunt) and after she read it, she immediately purchased all of Marsha’s books priced at $2.99, but would not pay the higher price for the other books available. I would buy them, but I’ve read them and have them in print on my keeper shelf. So I think price does make a difference.

  29. “…even Independent book stores, to introduce some sort of E-reader lending program.Libraries could do it easily.Book stores could manage it like DVD rentals.Just a thought.”

    I’m an Indie bookstore. I gave up renting/lending hardcovers when I lost several hardcovers to those-who-do-not-return-things, and 3 $20 (it was a while back, at $20 each!) hardcovers to one un-customer – couldn’t afford the loss. I can imagine trying to get back an e-reader! And libraries’ budgets are becoming tighter and tighter… I don’t know how many e-readers my daughter’s library could afford to lose. And, once again, reading for hours on a desktop ‘puter is no fun at all.

    There. Done. Sorry for poking my nose in again. *G*

  30. Cpnnie: You are my hero! I am facing life without a contract soon, and have begun to see that my best option could be to put everything in e-book. It truly makes me sad to know I have wonderful stories floating around inside my head, stories that will never be published because they are either not set in England or are too dark. Sorry, I love tortured heroes and historical reality, and have been forced to write lighter fluff for years. I’m so glad you’re publishing what you want! Also, I’m glad to see you hiring an editor and copy editor. It shows real commitment. Even the best writers at least need one set of eyes to read a ms, right?

  31. It’s about time. It’s about ******* time. Connie Brockway, Marsha Canham, my hat is off to you and all those like you who have looked at the future of publishing and seen that it no longer resides in the medieval scriptoria. Parchment gave way to paper, the quill gave way to the offset press, and now it’s time to move forward again.

    Fifteen years ago a promising author was pushed out of the business because she dared to question the publisher’s actual cost of print runs, because she dared to challenge the less-than-a-penny royalties paid on lucrative book club and other “deep discount” sales, because she dared to suggest that authors ought to have some say in how their barely-dreamt-of-in-1995 electronic rights would be valued. That author, with respectable reviews and a major award to her credit, became a virtual pariah because she had the audacity to proclaim that authors were the producers of works that it seemed everyone else got paid more for. That author refused to spend more than her total advance on publicity, even when the publisher told her “If you don’t, we won’t either.”

    That author tried to find ways to politely point out her editor’s factual errors before the book went to print only to be told readers won’t notice — they noticed — or care — they cared. That author watched in disappointment as her works were bound in covers that had nothing to do with the stories, that she knew would be death to sales — and were.

    That author, who is still filling emailed requests for long OOP titles from her dwindling personal stock, walked away rather than continue to be told she should be glad for any contract, on any terms no matter how insulting, because there were a hundred more waiting in the wings who would gladly settle for even less. Sadly, she had friends who did indeed settle for less, much less.

    I will be sorry, in a way, to see the demise of the printed-on-paper book, assuming I live that long. But the printed book had a damn good run and has nothing to be ashamed of. It preserved thoughts and ideas and dreams and visions that would never have gone beyond the spoken word. My SO thinks there’s something special about holding a book in his hand, and he’s far more of a computer geek than I am, but I’m the one pushing for ebooks. I see untold benefits for the writers and the readers, and if the publishers — and yes, even the booksellers* — are forced to settle for a little less, well, it won’t hurt this former author’s feelings at all.

    (*There are many independent booksellers who have supported many authors along the way and I salute them. But I think it is selfish of them to demand, even politely, that the authors who are the ultimate producers of the product should settle for less so the middleman bookseller can profit from their work. Call me a socialist if you will, and I’ll thank you politely for the compliment.)

    Way to go, Connie Brockway. Best of luck — and profits — to you.

  32. Cheryl… did you miss the part where they won’t publish Ms. Brockway’s books at all unless they match certain narrow parameters?

  33. Congratulation
    I often wondered if a story could be more interesting if the writers were more in control. Your comments validate my thoughts.

  34. hey great thinking, i’ve been wishing for the authors to break out of the mold that the publishers have stuck them in, since i’ve bought only ebooks the last 2 years it really works for me. love your historicals been a fan for years thanks for the great reads

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