Saturday, December 11, 2010

Query Queue, Extinct, and Micro Publishing Models

Query Queue

After Monday Wednesday Thursday, the query queue is empty. Only you can save this blog from gratuitous pictures of cute baby horses, cats and chickens by sending more queries.

Extinct Update

As of today, I have 19 stories I'm holding for the Extinct anthology. This means they made the first cut (yay!). It doesn't mean they've made it in yet, though (boo!). As the deadline approaches (Jan 30), I expect many more submissions based on the number of people still dropping by from Duotrope and Ralan (thank you for coming!) and those who have let me know through various ways they still plan to submit (please do!). The nice thing about an electronic format is that we can go with what works. The only restrictions are my budget for advances, the possibility of a print version (not planned, but not ruling it out completely) and not outstaying our welcome with a reader.

Micro Publishing Models: A Case Study

I really want to play fair with Extinct. What I'd like to avoid is my recent experience publishing a short story with a micropress.

Now don't get me wrong. This micropress clearly spelled out its terms, so I knew exactly what I was in for when I submitted the story. It was a fun story to write, a couple of my critters were also writing and submitting stories so it was kind of a friendly competition that worked out well since all of our stories were selected, and the micropress delivered a nice pro-looking product quickly. That part was all a resounding WIN.

You knew there'd be a "but," right? The pay was 1/4 cent per word (that's the same I'm offering for Extinct) and my check came to $3.60, completely as expected, no complaints. The book is a trade paperback with a cover price of $16.99 and shipping for one book is $5.30. That's $22.29 for a single copy. Authors get a 40% discount off the cover price but no royalties (and no contributor copy, btw). The only way I as a contributing author can make any more money off this book is to buy a bunch of copies and handsell them to friends and family for more than my discounted price. The press puts out a number of anthology titles, so they have a lot of authors eager to purchase a few copies of their books to show off and to sell to their social circles, which is how the press makes the bulk of its profit, I'm sure.

Sound familiar? That's very close to a vanity press selling model. What separates this micropress from its vanity cousin -- and the ONLY reason I submitted in the first place -- is that they do not charge for setup and printing nor do they require the author to purchase any copies. The press is still taking the brunt of the gamble to publish the book. And the editor even did light editing and provided galleys for the authors to proof. It's a VERY nice "for the love" compromise. My intent isn't at all to disparage the press for the work it's doing. I'm sure it's a tough go for them using this model and they truly do have to love the work to keep after it. I respect them for that. I really do.

However, I don't feel the drive to market the book. I have no more vested interest in it. If it sold 100,000 copies, I wouldn't make any more off it than my $3.60. Where's the carrot? Plus, including shipping costs, the non-discounted price is exorbitant, IMO. You'll note I haven't even provided a link to the book from my site (or this post). That's because I don't feel right pushing folk to buy something for a price I myself wouldn't pay.

And that's why I insist on two things with Extinct. A highly competitive selling price and a royalty schedule for the authors. I want us all in this together, marketing together. Even if it doesn't mean but a couple of dollars more for each of us, I want the authors to link to the book and promote it and for readers to not think twice about dropping it in their online shopping cart.

So far, I haven't purchased any copies of the micropress's anthology. Maybe I'll get a couple and give them away on the blog. I haven't had a contest yet (what would I give away -- a free query critique?). So, any zombie fans out there?


fairyhedgehog said...

Gorgeous photos, as always! I've got nothing for Extinct but I'll be interested to see how it goes. The marketing model sounds good so I hope it works out.

Phoenix said...

Hi FHH! Always happy to find a way to slip pics of the beasties in ;o)

Thanks for the props on the Extinct model. I'm really pleased with the turnout and quality so far!

Sylvia said...

I agree with your zombie summary - it's a shame but I really don't feel right in linking it friends and family as it is expensive (and as you say, no direct benefit from sales). I was hoping it would show up cheaper on Amazon but it looks like not. Oh well.

I'm looking forward to Extinct!

vkw said...

I plan to submit. I even thought I had the perfect submission.

Then I find you have 19 submission. And, I know the quality of your critters. I'm a bit scared.

Anyway my submission is on the back burner for a few more weeks.

I'm submitting just because I am hoping for feedback. Anything beyond that is icing on the cake - of course the icing is the best part of the cake.

Love your animal pics. Wish I had a place to post all my dogs. Jerry was adopted just before Thanksgiving. I miss him so much. Nick is Nick. What progress he makes is small but progress, no matter how small, makes him a winner


kyle said...

Personally I like gratuitous pictures of cute baby horses and cats. Not really into chicks, though... :)

Phoenix said...

@Sylvia: You know, it's not even available on Amazon U.S. It's the equivalent of US $19.82 on Amazon UK, but it does qualify for free shipping - if you live in the UK.

@vkw: Submit away! Nothing is set till all subs are in. And, yes, I'll supply feedback.

Oh, Jerry was adopted? Yay! But, yes, I can understand how hard it can be to let go even under happy circumstances. I kept an older cat for a friend last year for a few months and he (the cat) pretty much parked himself on my lap. Will you be getting another foster any time soon?

There are free album spaces on the web if you're not ready to jump in with a blog or website: Google's Picasa, Snapfish, others.

@Kyle: Ha! We can't ALL be into chicks -- somehow it all balances out ;o)

Wilkins MacQueen said...

Hi all,
I'm planning to submit, have mapped out a piece. Not satisfied, but you know how that goes.
VKW - you foster animals? I'm in awe. Got to be hard to say goodbye. I just got back from a short jaunt to Chang Mai - pix on my blog. And an elephant. Off to try and fix old Beulah. Today she's behaving but I can't count it lasting. So wish me luck.
Divine Miss Phoenix, keep those critter photos coming. It is a refreshing sight to see them after concentrating through the queries/comments. I try and focus and the side of my brain that I use to do that gets a good work out. The photos are a wonderful touch to lighten the muse,