Jul 262012

Recently, I’ve become really irritated over the disrespect some people show others on social media. For the sake of this post, let’s agree that social media is any tool on the Internet one can use to get and share information. As an author, and one who is a self-proclaimed expert idiot, I need my connections and groups on social media to learn. From my current headache of learning about owning/riding/caring for a horse, to what a poly-amorous relationship is really about, these groups save me tons of time. Can I go to the virtual library and rummage around to learn what experts have to say on human sexuality and current trends? Sure. But will I get as vibrant an answer as what I can get in one of my private conversations on Facebook or FetLife? No. Can I ask a book a stupid question and get an honest answer? No. But somebody is going to describe exactly what that blue wand feels like when it’s pressed against certain sensitive body parts.

So what’s my beef? There are plenty of people who are posers. They pretend they’re interested in the subject matter or social positioning of a private or secret group to get invited. Then they spend time trolling for dates, play partners, or ways to make trouble for the group members. Besides being totally inappropriate, it destroys trust and ruins a safe place for other members to share intimate information about themselves and their lives.

You’ve probably seen this note a thousand times on Facebook: If you don’t like what you see on my wall, please just leave.

Now, why people can’t actually do that is the million-dollar question. Usually authors don’t keep their purpose a secret. We are out here blasting away about our titles, characters, covers, and buy links. Our playful attitudes attract friends and fans. That is my goal. But the social media rules are not in favor of us. Another author gets pissy about your sales and decides to randomly report you to Facebook and your privileges get suspended temporarily or permanently. There’s no recourse but to wait it out or find another door in. A person joins a private group and goes along until they see a photo and commentary that they don’t like – and presses report. A bunch of readers decides to target an author for some other random reason and you get to spend the next few days or weeks wondering if that teeny-tiny hole you’ve punched into the publishing universe is going to shut because of this gang mentality. The owner of the private group is booted off Facebook by a group member. You pick up a stalker in a private group. The stalker calls your house. Um yeah. Explain that one to your spouse.

For me, studying pictures of naked people and watching porn is not usually for my personal pleasure. Last time I checked, I was a straight, white, married woman. So, what’s play like with a Domme? How does a butt plug feel to a man? What does that taste like? What’s the procedure here? It’s called a what? These things have I DON’T KNOW plastered all over them. I use these groups, as do so many of my friends, not to get my visual jollies, but to learn. I might study a photo to observe a skin texture, a tattoo, a body shape, color, or skin tone, or to get new ideas about what other men and women sound and look like in intimate settings.

I’ve admired the tenacity of some of my author friends. They keep finding ways to get into the game, time and again. But it’s time consuming and it’s frustrating. Research to provide those nuances and flavors that bring your story to life isn’t an easy task. Those of us on the hunt for information are usually forthcoming. Read any of my profiles and it’s clear who I am, what I’m about, and what I want.

So, I’m asking for some respect-for myself and for my colleagues. Please stop reporting us and bothering us with your drama. We’re not here as a dating service or to turn you on. We’re here to work and have a little fun along the way. And if you can’t respect that, then please leave us alone. Stop exposing us to your nastiness and go away. What’s considered private should remain private.

Margie Church writes erotic romance novels with a strong suspense element, in keeping with her moniker: Romance with SASS (Suspense Angst Seductive Sizzle). She has a degree in writing and editing and has been a professional writer, editor, and journalist for over 25 years. If you enjoy books you can’t put down, read one of hers.

Margie lives in Minnesota, is married, and has two children. Some of her passions are music, flower gardening, biking, walking on moonlit nights, nature, and making people laugh. She also writes children’s books under the pen name, Margaret Rose.


Keep up with Margie:

Margie’s website: Romance with SASS

Margie’s blog: http://blog.RomanceWithSASS.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/MargaretRChurch

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MargieChurch

Margie’s Amazon Author page: http://www.amazon.com/Margie-Church/e/B008H7HO4I/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Jul 202012

It always stuns me how many writers and aspiring writers don’t read, don’t read very much, or used to read but don’t read any more. This includes writers who have had some commercial success.

For commercially successful writers, the “excuse,” — as if they really need one, which of course they don’t — is often one of two things.

First, successful writers often say they’re simply too busy to read books that aren’t their own.

Second, when they’re working on their own fiction, anything they reed tends to creep into what they write.

I’m going to add a third reason I’ve discovered in my own years as a published writer: if you read one friend’s book, you feel like you have to read every friend’s books. When you have thirty friends who write 3-6 books a year, well, that’s enough to make reading seem like a chore just on its own. There’s a reason that many professional fiction writers I talk to say their favorite part of the work is “research.” Calling it “research” gives you license to read what obsesses you at the moment, instead of feeling obligated to read all those books you long ago told someone you’d get to eventually.

In any event, there’s no point in my badmouthing the reading habits of writers who are getting published regularly and/or getting paid for it and/or having a satisfying creative experience. I assume they’re doing something right — by which I mean something that works for them creatively.

So I’ll contradict my headline directly; you don’t have to do anything to write, other than write. You can write a novel without ever having read a novel; I’m sure there’s some jackass out there who’s done it and rocketed up the Amazon best-seller lists. But if you’re a beginning writer, ask yourself this: why would you want to? If you aren’t in love with books, why do you want to waste your time writing one of your own?

I see it this way: Writing is a bit like conversation. You know those people who talk and talk and talk and talk and talk, and never listen? The ones who missed the “conversational turn-taking” part of child development (it’s sort of a package deal with potty training)? The ones who blather on about stuff  they don’t actually know much about — or anything about — but it’s so much work to contradict them that you end up just staring blankly at them and/or faking a heart attack? The ones who  never let anyone else get a word in edgewise, or when they do let you get a word edgewise, you can actually see the clockwork thingies going tick-tick-tick behind their crazed, dinner-plate Michele Bachmann eyes as they plan their next mini-rant for whenever you quit talking?

Aren’t those people annoying?

If you said “no,” then maybe you’re one of those people who never tires of hearing his or her own voice. In that case, mazel tov and keep writing. It’s certainly a common trait of writers, in my experience, that we have shitty filters. Oftentimes conversational turn-taking isn’t our strong suit, so, okay…whatever.

But if writing and reading are like conversations, it’s not just “politeness” that dictates you should shut up once in a while and let someone else talk to you. It’s psychologically meaningful to experience the words of others. And if you’re the sort of person who likes to write stories, then the more stories you experience, the easier and more fun it will be to tell them.

One of my favorite writers, Lester Bangs, said something about speed freaks that applies even more to writers: “Anyone who talks that much has to be a liar or they’d run out of things to say.”

The thing is, when you’re writing fiction you’re starting by being a liar; if you’re not making stuff up then you’re doing it wrong. But there’s supposed to be a narrative truth shimmed underneath the wobbly table on which you’re building your house of cards. It helps if you have a regular and positive experience of what that satisfying narrative feels like.

If you can’t find time to read because you’re so busy writing…mazel tov. But when those words run out and you need to clear your head, don’t listen to the crazed, book-hating devil-hippies who tell you to do something dangerous like meditate. Don’t listen to your psycho, anti-intellectual fiend of a so-called “doctor” and hop on the elliptical trainer or the treadmill.

Not without grabbing a book first.

If you want to be a writer, all you absolutely have  to do is write.

But I can tell you from experience: you’ll probably enjoy it more if you also read.

Jul 092012

Before 2008, in what it think of as the wild and wooly days of the ebook, when almost anything went, because there were few readers and almost anything went, the only competition ebook publishers had was each other.

eBooks were read either on pcs or palm data devices and a handful of clunky ebook reading devices – and from the beginning it seemed like there were almost more publishers than readers.

Our audience was so small that big publishers of hard covers and bestseller type paperbacks just laughed at us.

With almost no venue for distribution but our own book sites, we all tried hard to make our sites interesting fun places to visit with lots of intriguing books on display.

Contests, chats, blogs were the order of the day and if well presented drew readers to publishers’ sites in droves, and drove sales of ebooks along with them.

When Amazon came along with the Kindle, ebook publishers had lots of ebooks to supply and the big publishers were still busy laughing. Increased readers meant new people finding us and visiting our sites. eBook publishers were still each other’s only competition.

After a year the big publishers caught on at last and began to scramble just to get their new books into ebook as they came out.

All the ebook publishers still had the edge and our ebooks were still in the majority of those available on the web.

Then came 2011.

In 2010, I was reading thrillers and mysteries, among seven or eight series, were the Harry Bosch series 17 books (we are speaking at the time) the Charlie Parker thrillers 7 books, the Matthew Scudder mysteries 15 books, etc., etc.

In every case i was lucky if the most recent two or three were available as ebooks. I had to supplement my reading by ordering most of the books I couldn’t get in these series (and that was most of them)  for my kindle as used paperbacks.  That became onerous and i gave up on reading them.

The late part of last year, I checked out these series again and found out every book in each series was now available as an ebook.

So add to the books now on Kindle, etc. say ten more ebooks for each mystery series of which there are probably now over a thousand, plus every romance series, and scifi/fantassy/horror series. Then add ten or more ebooks for all the back list titles by nonseries romance writers, mystery writers, nonfiction authors, etc.  (and of course many authors of both types have 20+ titles in their backlist).

So right there, the number of ebook titles at Amazon took a ten-fold hike. Which means there are ten times more titles competing for visibility and sales with those of independent ebook publishers.

But in fact, the last two years have seen the number of titles at Amazon, etc explode far more that just ten times as selfpublished authors have literally flooded the Kindle ebook store’s pages by the tens of thousands.

At the moment the Kindle ebooks store says it has 1,500,000 ebooks and magazines for sale.

Probably less, even much less, than 100,000 of those are from longtime ebook publishers. Probably less than 50.000.

So ebook publishers have gone from having only each other to compete with to get their books noticed and bought, and less than 50,000 titles to compete with, to a million and a half ebooks and periodicals.

Given that, is it likely that independent ebook publishers can continue attracting readers to their sites in the same numbers as today, even with contests and chats – considering the competition from both authors of big publishers and selfpublished authors flooding and overwhelming social media like Facebook and Twitter trying to attract attention to their ebooks?

Even three years from now what will be the role of the epublisher’s site. Will it be sales? Or efforts aimed at selling books not at the site but on Amazon and B&N? Or something altogether different?