Calling Henry Higgins

Let a woman in your life,
And patience hasn’t got a chance,
She will beg you for advice,
Your reply will be concise,
She will listen very nicely
and then go out and do precisely
What she wants — Henry Higgins, My Fair Lady

I was reminded today of the Writer’s Workshop I did for Orycon. One of the authors had written a fairly interesting fantasy piece, and aside from the usual “show don’t tell” advice, I mentioned that I thought he might want to revisit the beginning, because it was a little slow. In fact, it didn’t start to get interesting until page 11 for me, and if I hadn’t promised to read through the whole thing and mark it up for the workshop, I would have put it down after about page 2.

The other two commentators in the workshop expressed the same opinion (and I was not the first to go, so they were by no means following my lead). So, here we have an unpublished author who pays a fee to get his “manuscript in progress” professionally critiqued, and all three reviewers comment that he should probably rewrite the beginning to make it more engaging.

Naturally, you would expect that since he paid for this session, he would be taking notes, asking questions, gathering as much feedback as possible so that he could incorporate the suggestions into his manuscript and get it ready for submission. Instead, he told us all, very politely, that he had already tried it that way and it didn’t work out, so he really needed to leave it exactly like it was, thank you very much.

So he paid the critique fee… to basically ignore the critque? Continue reading

e-Controversy abounds

Today’s panel at Orycon was a bit more civil, but that doesn’t mean the controversy over eBooks vs. print books was any less pronounced. The panel was titled Paper’s Place in the Future—Physical Books vs. eBooks. My co-panelists were Michael Briggs (husband of Patricia Briggs, the author GoH), author James F. David, Orycon webmaster Rick Lindsley and author Paul Guinan.

In the end, we all agreed that print books and eBooks each had their place and audience… but much is still undefined. Rick noted that for those of a certain generation, who grew up reading books only in print, there is a certain comfort level and familiarity with the format that leads to a marked preference for print books. However, most of the kids growing up today are accustomed to doing everything electronically, and they want to read books on their cell phones and eReader devices.

DRM (digital rights management) was a flash point today. James said that as an author, he truly appreciates DRM because it ensure that he will be compensated for each and every copy of his books that are sold. Michael, on the other hand, discussed how he had inadvertently purchased some eBooks using his wife’s Fictionwise account… and when he tried to open them on his own eReader, he was told that his device wasn’t authorized to view the files (because they weren’t purchased using his account Fictionwise notes the serial number of your eReader device and grants DRM access based on that information). Continue reading

Wringing of hands, gnashing of teeth

I just wrapped up my first panel at this year’s Orycon in Portland, Oregon, which was titled Twitter Novels, Kindle, eBooks, Podscast and the Market. I was one of three panelists; the other panelists were Dianna Rodger and Michael Briggs (husband of Patricia Briggs, the author GoH).

I brought my Sony eReader and my iPhone for “show and tell,” so to speak, and we launched into a surprisingly heated discussion. There were a good number of published authors in the audience, and many of them were venting about how the NY publishers are giving them a raw deal on eBook royalties. Many of them seemed quite angry, in fact. I suppose I didn’t help matters by saying that VT does not believe in charging the same price for print and eBook formats, because print requires the additional expense of printing, and eBooks don’t. Therefore, eBooks should cost less than print books.

One very passionate author immediately launched into a salvo about how the editor, the artist and the author deserve to be paid for their work, and it shouldn’t matter what the format is. And while I definitely agree that all the people who work on a title deserve to be paid for their efforts, I was merely pointing out the public perception of value. Continue reading