There's a lot of people doing the Chicken Little "The sky is falling" dance. Sales are down! Reader are gone! Publishing is dying!
Is it really?
Yes, my sales are down. And it's my own damn fault.
You see, last summer we decided to move back to Ohio so DH is closer to his parents, GK his grandparents. I stayed in Texas to finish getting the house ready to put on the market.
Only to have the Great God Murphy intervene in a big way.
I tried to keep up on my production schedule. Blood Sacrifice and an Alter Ego novella were released in October. Three-quarters of the first draft of A Question of Balance was written during NaNoWriMo. Another Alter Ego short novel was published in May.
That is pretty f**king slow for me, and my sales numbers are starting to show it. I'm only selling about half of what I was a year ago. Because I'm not producing. Because my readers are waiting to see if I can complete what I started.
And rather than sinking my earnings back into my business, I used the cash to pay bills and finish work on the house. Seriously, when I saw my Amazon deposit yesterday morning, the first things I did was drop the check to my dentist in the mail and drive over to Home Depot for some supplies. When I get my B&N payment next week, I'll swing by Uncle Bob's for more boxes and bubblewrap.
This is definitely not how I would recommend running your business, folks. It's a damn good way to ground it into nothing. My production schedule is sitting by my side, mocking me. And there's no one to blame but myself.
Will things get better?
I believe they will. DH has agreed to pay Angry Sheep back from the proceeds of the house sale. I've already lined up someone to help me format the Bloodlines series for paper release next year. And once the house is show worthy (I need to tile the last bathroom and clean out my office this weekend), I'll retreat to Starbucks and write on my f**king phone if that's what it takes to get back in the groove.
Well, two out of the three made it into the latest installment of the aging hero action-fest. This time around Mel plays uber-villain, and co-founder of the Expendables, Conrad Stonebanks while Harrison Ford's Max Drummer replaces Bruce Willis' Church as the team's CIA contact.
This time around there are no innocent chicks and children to save. Even new Expendable Luna (Ronda Rousey) has more testosterone than the average man on the street.
*** SPOILERS ***
1) The addition of Wesley Snipes as one of the original members of the Expendables. His Doc is even crazier than Dolph Lundgren's Gunnar.
2) This time the in-jokes centered around the actors' real-life trials and tribulations, including reputations, jail time and helicopter crashes. See how many you can catch.
3) Kellen Lutz as Barney's newest protege, who actually survives this movie. The kid's showing his chops as an action hero. And let's face it, he was the best thing in Twilight as Emmett Cullen.
4) Antonio Banderas seems to be embracing the lighter side of his talents since his Galgo was the comic relief for this film (though unfortunately not as sexy as Puss in Boots). The role also shows the depth of his ability with any script. When his back story comes to light, he left my eyes stinging.
1) WTF?! Is there a quota on how many black guys can be in an action movie? That's the only reason I can think of for Terry Crews' Hale Caesar to miss most of the movie. I get the plot point, but why couldn't it have been done with Dolph or Randy Couture.
[Edit to add] Oops! Forgot to give my rating! I give it 8 out of 10 just for Ford's maniacal laughter while flying a helicopter like it was the Millennium Falcon.
What about Hulk Hogan? Well, there are already rumors swirling that he will be in The Expendables 4.
*** END SPOILERS ***
A lot has been made about The Expendables 3 ($15.8 million) making slightly more than half the opening weekend take of The Expendables 2 ($28.6 million). The blame was placed squarely on the pirated DVD quality download circulating on the internet a couple of weeks before the movie was released. But the majority of downloads were by non-U.S. users, and even if every download had been converted to U.S. ticket sales, the movie would have only made another $4 million, still well below the second installment of the franchise.
I think Stallone made a mistake by deliberately aiming for the 'PG-13' rating to broaden the franchise's audience. The first two movies were rated 'R', and the majority of flicks these guys are known for were 'R'-rated. Sly missed the point of why his core audience love The Expendables. They were made in the same vein as these stars' movies that my generation grew up watching.
Secondly, The Expendables 3 had to fight the summer word-of-mouth phenomenon that Guardians of the Galaxy has become. In fact, GotG regained the number one spot on Sly and buds' opening weekend. Normally, a testosterone-fest doesn't have much action competition this late in August, but the Marvel sci-fi hero story surprised even their Disney masters. It's made nearly half a billion dollars worldwide in its first three weeks in theaters.
"You just don't understand." I've been hearing that phrase a lot over the last few years.
I can't possibly understand having a seriously ill spouse, even though DH was diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer and dealt with two surgeries and ten months of chemo. I can't possibly understand having a chronic illness, even though I been dealing with an endocrine system that decided to shut down in the middle of my pregnancy, it hasn't restarted, and there's a medicine cabinet full of drugs that I have to take to stay alive. Apparently, I also don't understand what it's like to:
- Lose a job
- Lose my savings because of a medical catastrophe
- Have a child with special needs
- Have a parent who's alcoholic
...and the list goes on and on.
The same meme permeates my professional life as well. "You don't understand how trad publishing works!" has become the battle cry of some top-level publishers and writers.
Over the last week, Lee Child has popped into The Passive Voice. Yeah, Jack Reacher's creator. That Lee Child. You can check out the conversations here and here.
In my personal opinion, neither side acquitted themselves in a mannerly fashion. But I agree with one commenter who noted that Lee came in with guns blazing, telling us how we're wrong and we just don't understand trad publishing. And Lee did use one of Passive Guy's posts entitled, "We. Don't. Care. How. Traditional. Publishing. Works.", as proof that indies are ignorant.
What Lee is not considering is that there's a HUGE difference between "understanding" and "caring".
A lot of writers who have gone indie have been trad published. They're very much aware of how trad publishing works. And they see its limitations, which is one of the reasons those writers are taking their careers into their own hands.
In my case, my trad publishing career consists of five years writing a legal column for a regional magazine and having a short story accepted into an well-known anthology. In Lee's case, he's one of the best-selling novelists in the world and makes millions per year. Are we going to see trad publishing at the same level?
Hell, no! And that's part of the problem. Lee's forgotten what it's like to be at the bottom of the trad publishing totem pole.
Is it envy or bitterness on my part when it comes to trad publishing? I don't think so. I spent the first twenty years of my professional life figuring out that I'm not a company ladder-climber. Some folks can do it naturally (my brother-in-law Tim is one), but I'm "too independent" as a psych evaluation, given to me by a potential employer, said.
Do I want Lee's level of success? I can honestly say no. First, because my time will never be my own again if I reach that level. Second, because I've seen how a modicum of success in this field changes people. Sometimes for the better, but most times, not so much.
As I read through the conversations on the two TPV posts, I had one of those stuck-by-lightning realizations. Lee thinks he's talking to other writers.
He's not. He's talking to publishers. Small publishers who figured out how to eliminate the bloated overhead that's killing the Big Five in New York. Small publishers who are tapping the markets/subgenres that the Big Five feel aren't worth their time. Small publishers who have connected with the ultimate end users in this business--THE READERS!
So yes, indies do understand trad publishing, but to use it as a model will kill our businesses. While I may not get advances with seven digits like Lee does, I make enough collectively from my readers to pay most of my bills. And frankly, that means more to me than Lee Child's approval of how I publish.
If you didn't catch the livestream on Monday, Hugh Howey and Michael Bunker's video of their show is up on YouTube. They discuss the current state of the publishing industry and mention the growing middle class of indie authors (like me!) that are now able to write full-time thanks to the changes in distribution and the explosion of e-books.
A benefactor spoke with DH and offered to front the money to hire somebody to help me with the last few things. His contractor showed up...
...and promptly tried to set my house on fire. *facepalm*
Really. The contractor tried to loosen the old linoleum in the kitchen using my candle lighter. Then he used water. The concrete slab was covered in a muddy, pulpy mess by the time he left. And to top it off, he used my tools because he didn't having any floor tools of his own, then left the unwashed tools on my kitchen counter.
I spent most of that evening and the next day cleaning up the mess instead of working on the other projects that needed to be done. I also primed the floor for leveler because there was a huge dip in the middle of the concrete. When the contractor arrived the next evening, I had the tools and supplies ready to go.
And he got pissed. Because I knew what I was doing. Because I knew he didn't know what he was doing. Because I had tits instead of a dick. Take your pick of the reasons. Thankfully, he quit five minutes after he arrived. Otherwise, I'd have to fire him. I wasn't about to do a half-assed job and leave behind something that would fall apart in ninety days after the new owners moved into the house. And I sure as hell wasn't going to take disrespectful shit from someone young enough to be my son.
All of this went down between Tuesday, August 5th, and Thursday, August 7th. Thanks to the stress, I hurt so bad Friday morning that I could barely roll out of bed.
In a flurry of emergency calls and pooling of funds, DH arrived from Ohio Sunday evening. We knocked out a bunch of stuff last week. He headed back after breakfast on Saturday to get back before today since GK started high school this morning.
Saturday and yesterday, I worked on two of the last three things that need to be done. The carpets will be cleaned on Tuesday, and the new stove should be here on Wednesday. The real estate agent will be here late Wednesday or early Thursday to take pictures. So by Thursday evening, this stupid house should be officially listed.