Monday, January 20, 2020

Words Matter

Early today I opened up my phone and immediately went to Twitter, as a writer working hard at procrastinating is apt to do, and one of the first things I saw was a tweet by a fellow romance writer. It reads as follows:

“In writing and in life…the use of the F word shows laziness and ignorance. There are thousands of extravagantly brilliant words floating out there, and they’re all free. Step it up.”

Then there were a whole bunch of hashtags, but honestly, the red haze of rage had already slipped over my vision and I stopped reading.

Now. This was tweeted out a day or so ago, by someone I don’t know personally or follow. But it ended up in my timeline because someone I do follow commented, so I got to see it. I’ll not mention the original poster’s name or put up any other information about her, because, well, who she is doesn’t really matter. I didn’t go dig up her website to see if she’s published because I don’t care, but if her Twitter bio is accurate, she writes romantic suspense, and is far enough along in her career to at least have an agent. And that’s a problem, because if she’s a writer, she ought to know words fucking matter.

Warning: I have Things to Say About This.

Let’s side aside the patronizing, condescending bullshit all too apparent in this tweet and talk about words. Words mean things. Sometimes words have similar meanings, but each word has a distinct and individual meaning all its own. While it might be close to that of another word, it will not be identical. Words — all words — have a feel to them, a distinct and individual color, a flavor, a nuance, a feeling. And that means word choice has an impact on character and story.

Allow me to explain.

When I write the word “fuck” in a story, be it as an expletive (“Fuck!”), a verb (“I want to fuck you”), an adjective (“That fucking dog ate my homework!”), or an adverb (“That dog fucking ate my homework”) I am making a conscious choice. I don’t just pull words out of my ass because I think they look pretty or make me look smarter or because I need to pump up my word count. I choose words because they impart the feeling I want to convey to my reader. And that’s kind of an important fucking thing for a writer to do.

As an expletive, “fuck” has no equal. It is singular in its vulgarity and intensity, and I can think of no other word in the English language that conveys exactly what “fuck” does (if you do, throw it at me — I’m willing to learn).

Think about it. If a character says “Fuck!” you know right away that there are Big Feelings At Work. They are pissed off or excited or devastated or whatever to a degree that you simply cannot get by replacing fuck with any other word. Entire moods are contained in the word fuck, allowing you to say in four letters what would otherwise likely take a full paragraph.

And that matters when you’re trying to tell a story. It matters a lot. If I replace fuck with dammit, or shit, or any other expletive it simply does not tell me the same things about the character or the situation they are in. It changes the scene, it changes the character, it changes the whole fucking story.

As a writer, I choose the word that best fits my character, my scene, my story, and sometimes the right word is fuck. Deal with it.

Now, as a verb? Same fucking thing. What’s the difference between these sentences?

“I want to make love to you,” she breathed.
“I want to fuck you,” she breathed.

Both sentences convey a desire to have sex, but they’re not interchangeable. Why? Color, flavor, nuance, feeling. By changing one word (or phrase, in the case of make love), the entire mood of the scene and motivations of the characters are altered. To me, the phrase making love conjures images of soft sighs and soft touches and an emotional connection. There’s nothing wrong with making love, and plenty of romance novels contain lovemaking that’s extraordinarily well written and a joy to read. But it’s not fucking, and I’ll bet almost any well-read romance reader would instantly know the difference.

Fuck (again, to me) has a completely different tone. It’s grittier, dirtier, more explicit. Soft sighs become harsh moans, soft touches become a hard grip. Fucking can still have an emotional connection, but it’s raw, elemental. More intense.

Put simply? Hallmark movie characters make love, they do not fuck.

(Note: I do not expect that every romance writer or reader will have the same definitions as I for these two different things, but I would be shocked and skeptical if ANYONE had the exact same definition for both)

When I’m writing, there are a few criteria I keep in mind. I’m not always conscious of them, but they’re there nonetheless, and they’re applicable to almost every single scene, sentence, and word I write:

  1. Are the words I’m choosing telling the reader something about this character?
  2. Are the words I’m choosing telling the reader something about the situation this character is in?
  3. Are the words I’m choosing telling the reader something about how the character feels about the situation they’re in?
I choose the word that best fits the character, the scene, the emotions and tone I’m trying to convey, the story I’m trying to tell. And that MATTERS WHEN YOU’RE TRYING TO TELL A STORY.

I once had a week-long fight with an editor because my publisher wanted me to use the word cock instead of dick. This publisher, who is no longer in business but who I bet you remember if you were around at the dawn of erotic romance e-books (hint: it rhymes with Dolores Grave) didn’t like it. It was too harsh, too gritty. They’d only allow its use as a pejorative, something you’d call someone being, well, a dick. But using it to describe someone’s actual penis? It made the interaction too harsh and invoked emotions they didn’t want to give to their readers.

I stuck to my guns for a full week, to the frustration of my editor who was just following the style guide she’d been given and had no authority to allow me to use those four letters in the way I wanted to use them. I was a pain in her ass, and I ended up sending her chocolates once I’d caved. And I did cave, because I wanted my book published and they held all the cards. But that was sixteen years ago (fuck, I’m old!) and I’m still pretty fucking mad about it. Dick was the right word for the emotions I wanted to evoke, the nuance of the scene, and the personality of the character. And that mattered to me.

It still matters to me. It should matter to all storytellers, because words matter. And if you’re a writer, and you don’t know that? If words don’t matter to you? I don’t trust you. I don’t trust you to be good at your craft, I don’t trust you to deliver a book that is well written, and I sure as shit don’t trust you to give advice to anyone else on how to write. If your preference is to not use profanity in your work, I have zero problem with that. Do you, honey. But you don’t get to tell me how words work — especially since you apparently don’t know the most basic and fundamental truth about them: that they matter.

You should be choosing the words that work for the story you’re telling, not what some tone policing puritan thinks is “brilliant” enough. Fuck is a brilliant fucking word in that it does exactly what it’s supposed to do. You can’t ask for more.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Reviews - An Open Letter to My Fellow Authors

First, let me say that my opinions on this matter are firm. And strong. Very strong. These are Hulk Opinions ™, and I make no apologies for that. So if this letter comes across as strident or angry, that’s probably why.

But I’m not angry. I’m frustrated. Because I love being a writer, and I love talking to other writers, and I want all of you to succeed and thrive and love this career you’ve chosen. It’s amazing, isn’t it? Except when it isn’t, and some of you are making this really hard for yourselves, and you don’t have to.

This letter will address the following points:
1. Reviews Are Not for You and They Are Not Your Business
2. Engaging with Reviewers Makes You Look Bad and Will Lose You Readers and Money
3. Why Ignoring Points 1 & 2 Will Lead to The Death of the Reviews for ARCs Ecosystem So You Should Not Ignore Points 1 & 2

I’m going to start with reviews, which are Not For You and Not Your Business.

Let’s define a review. Specifically, a book review. Merriam Webster lists a lot of definitions for this word, but the one we’re looking for is 6a: ‘a critical evaluation (as of a book or play)’. Pretty clear, right? But hang on, there’s that one word in there that throws some of us off: critical. So let’s define that as well. Merriam Webster lists a lot of definitions for ‘critical’, too, but I think the one that best suits our purposes is 1C: ‘exercising or involving careful judgment or judicious evaluation’.
So if we take these two definitions together, we can define a Book Review as “a careful judgment or judicious evaluation of a book”.

All authors want reviews. We want people to read our books, and tell the world what they think of it. In this, The Digital Age, a single review can reach a lot of people. Potential readers who might see it and think “Hmm, that sounds like fun”, who we hope will then click over to the book retailer of their choice and plunk down their hard-earned money to buy our book. And there’s lots of places people can find reviews these days. Blogs, social media like Twitter and Facebook. Retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and reader specific online spaces like Goodreads. Lots and lots of ways for those reviews to reach people, and that’s a good thing. Reviews can have a positive effect on sales, drive traffic to your website, and in the end, help us reach that ultimate goal of finding new readers with hard-earned money to plunk down.

Reviews Are Good.

But not all reviews are going to be positive, and this is where a lot of us get hung up. Let’s go back to the definition of a Book Review: a careful judgment or judicious evaluation of a book. Not everyone is going to judge or evaluate the same, with the same criteria. I, for example, hate/loathe/despise Nicholas Sparks novels. Hate. Them. I think they’re trauma porn, dreck, garbage. But as evidenced by Mr. Sparks’ book sales and movie deals, millions disagree. And that’s FINE. Opinions vary — on everything — including books.

That means, my darlings, that not everyone is going to like your book. And I urge you with all the love in my heart to do whatever you have to do to make your peace with that. Will bad reviews hurt? Of course. We’re human, and we’re allowed to be hurt. And you should get those hurt feelings out — to a spouse, a lover, a friend, a family member, a therapist, the clerk at the liquor store who always knows where they stash the good whiskey.

Where you should never get those feelings out? EVERYWHERE ELSE. Don’t put them on social media, don’t blog about them, don’t put them in the End Of The Year Update you send to family and friends. Why, you ask? Going back to my thesis statement: the review that broke your heart is none of your business.

I know that’s a hard one, but I’m going to say it again: it’s none of your business.

It FEELS like it should be, right? I mean, you wrote the damn book, how could it not be your business? Because while you did write the damn book, you also published the damn book. And when you did that, whether it was when you signed a contract with a traditional publisher or when you hit “Publish” at Amazon, your book changed. It went from something you sweated and cursed and cried and bled over to A Product. It is a Thing You Can Buy now, and like all Things You Can Buy, some people will like it and some people won’t.

It’s not personal. “But it IS personal,” people say. “They’re talking bad about MY BOOK!” Maybe they are, but if/when someone talks bad about my book? They’re not talking about me. They could say “Oh, Hannah Murray? Yeah, I hate everything she’s ever written, she SUCKS,” and that’s not about me. It’s about the work, which clearly they don’t like, and while my stomach does the top-of-the-roller-coaster-flip even thinking about hearing someone say that, and I’d probably go cry somewhere and eat six pounds of Milk Duds and stress about it for days, in the end I will remember that it’s not about me.

And that’s what you all have to realize, too. And if you can’t, if that’s absolutely too hard for you to do (which I totally get), then you have to commit to never reading your reviews. Ever.
Don’t log onto Amazon and check your star ratings. Same for Goodreads. Don’t Google your name, or search it on social media. And do not, under any circumstances, engage with reviewers.

Which brings me to point number 2: Engaging with Reviewers Makes You Look Bad and Will Lose You Readers and Money

In the last month, a kerfuffle broke out — AGAIN — over Goodreads reviews. For those of you who are new, unfamiliar, or might need a reminder, Goodreads is a reader space. It was created as an online gathering place for Readers to connect with Other Readers about what they like to read. They can make lists of books they’ve read and liked for others to see, they can make lists of books they want to read so they don’t forget them. They can create digital shelves so they can organize these lists for their own use, and that of others. And they can leave book ratings and reviews.

And once again I’ll say: those reviews are for other readers. They are posted on a website for readers, by readers, for other readers. And under no circumstances should an author engage with a Goodreads reader over a review.

Ever. At all. Don’t do it. You just look really, really bad. Like the author in the latest kerfuffle, who did the following:

1. Tracked down a one-star review on Goodreads to tell the reviewer that she was wrong to review the ARC of her book on Goodreads (she wasn’t), that she was too stupid to understand the genius of the book (I’m paraphrasing), and continued to harass the reviewer in clear violations of the Goodreads TOS for authors
2. Went on social media and talked shit about everybody who’s ever had a negative opinion of her book

This author stands as a shining example of How Not to Handle a Bad Review. Since this hit last week, the author has blocked every person, including yours truly, who disagreed with her or posed a question about this incident on Twitter, called for an overhaul of Goodreads because it’s unfair to authors (again, it’s a reader space), advocated for an open space for authors to complain about reviewers and People Who Don’t Get Their Genius (I’m guessing), and as of this writing, continues to talk shit and insist she’s the victim (she’s not) because someone one-starred her book.

What’s the result of all this? Well, she might have sold a few books. It was free for a while on Amazon, and I saw a lot of folks on Twitter scooping it up to hate-read it, but then it wasn’t free anymore, so people stopped hate buying it. But the thing I’m really seeing on Twitter? Readers vowing never to touch anything this author ever produces. So even if this book was amazing, the author’s actions are driving people away from it. And even if her second or third or eighth book is amazing, people will remember her actions and not read it.

Losing readers, losing money.

And it’s not just readers vowing to stay away. You know the people I mentioned way back at the beginning of this now very long letter (sorry), the ones who write reviews that we all want and need? They’re staying away, too.

Which brings me to my final point: Why Ignoring Points 1 & 2 Will Lead to The Death of the Reviews for ARCs Ecosystem So You Should Not Ignore Points 1 & 2

Indie and self-published authors often don’t have much of a marketing budget. I’m a self-published author and my marketing budget is exactly zero dollars a month. I’m just not making enough money off my writing to justify the expense. So I, and many authors like me, look for free ways to market our books. Social media is great for that — and so are free reviews.

Right now, an author can get a free review by contacting a reviewer and saying “Hey, I wrote a book. It’s about this thing that I see from your FAQ page that you like to read and review, and I was hoping you’d be able to do that for me! I’m happy to send you an e-copy in whatever format you prefer, please let me know if you want to do this. Thanks!” The reason I know that is because that’s how I got 90% of the reviews on the two books I released in 2019.

It works because I made it clear to these reviewers — they can look at my social media to confirm this, and they will — that what I am asking for is an impartial review in exchange for a free copy of my book. I will not:
· pester them about the review
· ‘suggest’ to them how they should rate it
· follow up with a critique of their review
· request they change the rating
· talk smack about them anywhere

They can expect to receive a “thanks for doing this” acknowledgment message from me once the review is complete, and THAT’S ALL.

By the way, this used to be understood. But I actually have to spell this out for reviewers now, because so many authors think that the above list of Bad Behaviors is not only acceptable but advisable. And some authors take it even farther.


Yep, there are reviewers who are getting doxed — their personal, private information posted online for the purposes of harassment or harm — because an author doesn’t like what they had to say in a review.

Most reviewers aren’t getting paid. They might have a website with some affiliate links or other things for sale that bring in a few bucks, but reviewing isn’t a paid gig. They do it because they love to read, because they want to share that love, they want to read a great book and shout about it so everyone else reads it too. It’s their passion. But their passion isn’t worth the online harassment, the possible real-life harm being visited by Authors Behaving Badly.

So they quit reviewing.

There’s an ecosystem here. An author provides a free copy of a book, and in exchange, the reviewer provides a free review. That’s the give and take. But if the authors scare all the reviewers away with bullying tactics like the ones listed above, the ecosystem dies.

You get that? It dies. If there’s no one left to review for free, no one willing to run the gauntlet of possible hate mail and doxing and harassment, then what’s left is professional publications. Which already have such an influx of requests that you’d be lucky to get your little indie release a spot in the next year, much less the month before it releases. So then you’re left with buying reviews — paying someone to review your book — which by the way, still won’t guarantee you a positive review, and I already mentioned the budget was zero, right?

So you’ve got zero budget and no one willing to review for free because Authors Behaving Badly, and now you have to rely on Aunt Mildred and her book club to post a review on Amazon. Do you want that?

I don’t want that. I doubt the rest of you do, either. But that’s what you’re going to get if you don’t knock this shit the fuck off.

I’ve rambled on quite a bit because I had Things To Say, but I’ll close with the Cliff’s Notes version:
1. Reviews are not your business, they’re for readers
2. Your book, once published, becomes a product in an open marketplace — stop thinking of it as your ‘baby’
3. Goodreads is a reader-centered space and has a specific set of guidelines for authors — if you’re going to hang out there, go read it, and abide by it
4. Don’t ever, EVER engage with a reviewer over the content of a review or rating
6. If you want to keep being able to get free reviews, re-read points 1–5 until they sink in

I hope you know this comes from a place of love, but it also comes from fear. Fear that authors won’t understand what I and so many others are trying to say and continue to wreak havoc. Fear that reviewers will continue to quit and the ecosystem will die. Fear that making a living as an independent author-which is already hard, thanks very much-will get even harder.

Y’all. I love you. But you gotta knock this shit the fuck off.

Friday, June 28, 2019

When Lace Thongs Are Inappropriate

I took a little trip down memory lane the other day, and was amused. I thought it might amuse you, too.

I was Face Time chatting with my sister, Rachel. She was cleaning out her office, and had found a cache of photos from 2008, when she ran the Houston Marathon. I'd actually ended up finishing the race with her, and we were reminiscing about it when I said, "Hey, do you remember....?" and she said, "OH I REMEMBER. WE ALL DO".

A story about running and my panties. Or, a cautionary tale about lace thongs.

Rachel had been training for this marathon with a group of friends for months. She was excited about it, and I wanted to support her, so I came out to hang with her husband Andy and the support crew for the group, and watch her run. I got there a little late, so I didn't see the start of the race, but I caught up with Andy and the crew at one of the check points. It was pretty far into the race, if I recall, and the pack of running pals was starting to break up at this point. Some of them running faster than others, some struggling. Rachel was struggling a bit, and getting left behind by her group. One of the reasons runners train and run in a group is because the encouragement and feel of a group task can make it feel easier, so there was concern about her essentially running alone, which by the time mile 18 or so came around, she was.

Now, it was a warm day, but not a hot one - February in Houston - and I had come out to watch the race in jeans and a t-shirt. Maybe I had a hoodie, I don't remember. But somewhere before Mile 21 I decided I would run the rest of the race with her, to keep her company. I'm not a runner, but I did a lot of cardio and had good muscle strength, so I figured I could do it. Someone had a pair of loose cotton shorts they loaned to me, I quick changed in the back of a car, and when she hit the next check point shortly after Mile 21, I joined her.

I'll add at this point that doing ten miles on an elliptical machine in an air-conditioned gym (which I did 3 to 5 times a week and felt quite smug about, thank you very much) is NOTHING like running five miles on a road. Roads suck.

Aside from the Roads Suck Factor, one other thing became glaringly obvious less than a mile into the five: I had worn the Wrong Underwear for this endeavor. Remember, I wasn't supposed to be in this race, so I had dressed as I always did, which included thong panties. Running and thongs Do Not Mix.

By the time we hit the next check point, which was at mile 23 or 24, the gusset had ridden up and wedged itself between my outer labia, and the lace - did I mention it was lace? - felt like saw blades up in there. SAW. BLADES. Rusty ones. There was no way I was going to be able to finish this race if I had to keep those panties on.

We run up to Andy and his pals, who incidentally were all husbands or boyfriends of the other runners in her group, and they've got water and PB&J sandwiches and orange slices, and Andy says to me, "What do you need?" And I replied, "I need to get rid of this damn thong."

Andy went, "Uhhhhh" and all the other guys went, "Uhhhhh." and I said "No, I'm fucking serious. I HAVE TO GET RID OF THIS DAMN THONG."

I ignored the wide eyes and dropped jaws and reached up under the leg of those borrowed loose cotton shorts to break the lace band at my hip, but it wouldn’t snap. Too strong. But it was stretchy, so I changed my approach. I grabbed onto Andy's arm so I could balance on one leg, grabbed that strip of lace, and pulled it down my leg. I raised my foot as I as far I could as I pulled it down, managed to get it off my foot over my shoe, then reached under the other side and yanked it through the shorts and down my leg. I tossed it on the ground in front of Andy and all the other guys with the biggest sigh of relief I've ever let out in my life and said "That’s better. I'll take some orange slices now."

And they just stood there, staring at my black lace thong on the pavement, likely reliving the flash of bare crotch I'd probably just given them with my hiked-up leg and loose shorts because I didn't CARE I just wanted the damn thing OFF, and Andy said, his voice low and a little bit awed, staring at the thong, "That. Was. Awesome."

We ate our orange slices and drank our water and took off again, and I ran the last few miles commando, keeping my sister company, greatly relieved to not have black lace saw blades in my crotch. After the race Andy gave me my panties back in a plastic sandwich bag with a big grin, and none of the other guys could look at me without grinning and a few blushes, and according to my sister they still talk about it.

Which really, is all I can ask for.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Choose Your Words Carefully

In addition to writing erotic romance, I’m an avid reader. And sometimes, when my favorite authors are being slow in giving me new material, I turn to the internet to find new material.

Sometimes I hit gold – hello, Laura Kaye! – and sometimes I don’t. This week, gold was in short supply. I won’t name names, because I’m not here to jump all over other authors. And frankly, what doesn’t suit me as a reader will undoubtedly suit others. That’s the beauty of this wild and wonderful world we live in; there is something for everyone. But this particular book struck me as almost unbearably awkward. Not the premise, that was actually quite good. But the way it was written? *shudder*  There were lots of times where phrasing or word choice worked to pull me away from the story rather than pull me deeper into it, making it difficult to continue reading. For example, the use of the word ‘jism’. Cue gag reflex – this is NOT a word I want to read in a sex scene. EVER.

Though to be fair, I may be more sensitive about word choice than other readers - and don't get me started on how nuts I can be over it as a writer. I once had a week long fight with my editor over the use of the word ‘cunt’. You see, the Powers That Were at my old publisher had decreed that this was a Bad Word, only to be used in dialogue, and only by a male character. It could not appear in descriptive prose, and it could not cross the lips of a female character. It was deemed too crass, and potentially offensive. And I get the offensive bit – lots of people, especially women, dislike that word as its often used pejoratively. But here’s the thing; I chose that word for a reason, and when they told me to change it to something more acceptable like ‘pussy’? Well, I sort of had a fit about it.

Because those two words may be describing the same thing, but they are Not The Same ™. They don’t elicit the same emotion from the reader, and that was the whole point. I chose the word I did because it fit the scene, it fit how the people in the scene felt about what they were doing, and if I replaced it I was undercutting all of that. Watering it down, if you will. And I resisted – MIGHTILY.

I eventually caved, and rewrote a few sentences to fit within the guidelines and still convey what I wanted to. I wasn’t thrilled about it (a dozen years later, it still chaps my ass), but it was a good lesson for me. I figured out a way to make the publisher happy and still get across what I needed to, and things like that make one grow as an author. And I figured out that when you put your editor through hell, you send her chocolate afterwards, because really, her job is hard enough. And I learned that no matter how much I like what I’ve written, there will be people who don’t like it, and I might have to compromise to get what I ultimately want.

The author of the Awkward Book? Maybe she really felt that ‘jism’ was the best word to convey the emotion and state of mind of her characters. Maybe she felt the same way I did about the word ‘cunt’. Maybe nobody else shuddered in distaste when they read it. Who knows?

I did finish the book, though I cringed every time the J word popped up – and yes, it popped up more than once. And trigger words aside, it wasn’t a bad read. But I really hope I never see that word again, unless it’s being said by a drunk frat boy who is then immediately shamed by everyone in earshot.

I don’t think that’s too much to ask, do you?

Friday, December 15, 2017

We All Deserve to Get Paid for Our Art

Recently, on Twitter, I stumbled across a thread about illustrations for books, children’s books in particular, and how much one could expect to pay an artist to provide drawings for your manuscript.

As a self published author—a recent one—this is a question I had when I started looking at self publishing as an option. One of the nice things about traditional publishing is that the writer doesn’t have to worry about the nuts and bolts of getting the book published. Formatting, cover art, marketing—in a traditional publishing world, the publisher handles all that. But for a self published author, all of these things fall in your domain. And a lot of them you have to pay for.

Some you can do yourself—formatting, for example. Personally, I chose to find someone who could do that for me, and paid them their asking rate. I did it that way for two reasons: 1) I knew I would probably screw it up if I tried to do it on my own, and it would likely take me five times as long as it would someone who actually did that for a living; and 2) I found their asking rate to be reasonable. I had no idea if it was or not, but a quick Google search told me that it was in line with what a lot of other people were asking, and the person I chose came recommended, so I figured it was a good deal. And he formatted my manuscripts well and on time, and I would absolutely go to him again the next time I need such work done.

I also needed new cover art. The books I was putting up for sale had been previously published, but the rights had recently reverted to me, and I wanted a new look for them. So again, I turned to Google. And with art, there’s a LOT more variation in price. I found pre-made covers for as little as $40.00, and custom made covers for as much as $200.00 and up. Again, I looked around until I found a few sites I liked, read the reviews, and bought the covers I both liked and could afford. Would I have liked to have custom covers for each title? Of course. But I knew I couldn’t afford that, so I looked for ones I could.

Which brings me to the twitter conversation I mentioned in the first paragraph. The debate was about what constituted a ‘fair’ price for such work. If you’re a children’s book author, and your book has twenty-five pages, you’re probably looking for at least twelve drawings, plus front and back cover art. That’s one drawing for every two pages, so there’s a visual each time you turn the page. And remember that stock art isn’t going to work here – you have to have an artist who will read your story and craft the art work that goes with that story.

I get that as a self-published author, you have to keep your overhead low. You can’t spend $3,000 on art when you’re trying to make a name for yourself, and a profit, because you might make the first but you likely won’t make the second. But the artist has to make a living as well, so where’s the sweet spot? Where’s the middle ground, where the artist is still making a decent living, being fairly compensated for his or her work, and the author isn’t breaking the bank?

I suppose that sweet spot is different for every author, and every artist. One compromise that occurred to me would be for an author to offer the artist a percentage of profits as compensation. The drawings will run $3k, and you can’t afford it, so maybe you offer 20% of your net earnings in exchange for the art. Maybe you cap it at a certain point, maybe you don’t. But it strikes me as a fair deal, and also gives the artist even more incentive to create art that helps sell your book. But as I said, this isn’t my dilemma, and I don’t know how other authors or artists might view such a compromise.

But I do know that as an author, I gain nothing by trying to get a great deal if it means low-balling my artist. I sincerely hope for the day when I’m making enough as an author to be able to contract with first class artists, and pay them first class money for their work. I’m not there yet, so I’ll be looking at stock art and pre-made covers until I am.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

And So It Begins...

Hello, all.

This blog is going to be my space to kvetch. About writing, life, love, the ins and outs of writing erotic romance (pun intended), and pretty much anything else I can think of. It probably won't be daily. Definitely won't be daily - I have a three year old and a husband, it's a miracle I find time to do anything except laundry and dishes.

But I imagine I'll get around here once or twice a week. Comments are welcome (don't be a jerk), as is feedback (same). Questions will be answered as promptly as possible (please recall the aforementioned toddler and husband). Hopefully I'll be informative, entertaining, and we'll all have some fun with this.