Monday, July 18, 2011

The Romance Is Over

Or at least the Mr. Romance competition.

Word came out last Wednesday that the people behind the Romantic Times convention have pulled the plug on the competition. I'm not going to re-hash their reasons (you can read them here --> ). It's no secret I'm not happy about this, but I don't think it's for the reason most people who know me (or know of me) think. Okay, that might be a bit of the reason, but it's not the whole reason.

Here's the thing...I love the Romantic Times Convention. I love the scope of it and the parties and meeting authors and, yes, meeting the models. It's all part of this big package to me that screams in orgasmic joy. The powers-that-be at RT are saying that there will still be models there, and I'm sure some of them will be, but I'm going to hazard a guess that for the most part it will be the people who have been there before: CJ Hollenbeck, Jimmy Thomas, Mark Johnson... and maybe a few of the more recent contestants. But odds are there won't be new blood every year. And I don't like that...for a lot of reasons.

We'll start with the obvious one that most people will think I mean--there won't be the opportunity to meet new models. Yes, I like meeting and partying with (and actually talking to) men. Sure, I like talking to men I already know, but meeting new ones is fun. I'll miss that. And if my regular dance partners don't go? Um...the dances are going to be a lot less fun. Sorry to all my girlfriends. Dancing with you is fun, but I like dancing with guys.

Now onto (some of) the other reasons.

First is the opportunity the Mr. Romance competition provided to up and coming models. Many of the guys who competed didn't have connections in the romance industry, and for some, Mr. Romance was their first glance into that world. There are quite a few male models who would love to get into cover modeling but don't have the connections. Mr. Romance was a foot in the door--one that has just been cut off. Considering more than one of the competitors this year alone signed with agents and stock photo companies because of the competition, that means less opportunities for models and fewer options for authors. I don't know about any other author, but I like the increased possibility of having models that fit what my characters actually look like.

But that's not even the biggest issue.

That one is RT itself. As I said, I love this con and Mr. Romance was one thing that made it stand out from all the others. Without it, what makes it special? What makes it different than...RomCom or RWA Nationals or Authors After Dark or (for those of us who write genre romance) DragonCon or World Con or World Fantasy? Every author and reader has to make choices on where their promotional dollar goes, and cons are expensive. As far as registration and promotion goes, RT might be the most expensive. To be fair, someone's going to be most expensive, and it might as well be them. But at a certain point, if RT loses what makes it unique, what is going to encourage authors and readers to spend the extra to attend?

I want to have faith that the powers-that-be have something planned to make RT stand out since they're doing away with the Mr. Romance competition, but I don't know them well enough to say that for certain. The best I can do is hope that something awesome will take its place, because I'd hate to see RT become just another con.

Monday, July 11, 2011

No. You Buy It Like This...

There's been a lot of talk from authors online about how to buy their books. Basically the push is something like this: buy in print, buy at an indie bookseller, buy it the first week. Basically, the argument is that those things will help drive sales and increase the likelihood of hitting the NYT bestseller list.


Maybe I'm silly, but to be honest, I'm just happy people are buying my books. Buy it wherever you want. Buy it in print or digital. Buy it on release week or buy it a year after it releases. No matter how you buy it, I make royalties on it. Now, to be fair if everyone waits until a year later to buy a given book, you can bet that publisher isn't going to want anything else from me. So if you want more books from an author, that is something to consider, but as long as everyone isn't waiting that long, it doesn't really hurt me as an author.

Again...I'm just happy that you're buying my books.

However, in an effort to be totally upfront with people about what an author makes, I'm going to break some things down for you with regard to how it works for digital publishing. Keep in mind that you can care about this information or not. Some people have asked me in the past where they should buy to make me the most money, so I figure rather than doing this individually, I'll put it all here.

- A digitally published author makes the most money if you buy directly from the publisher's site. It can be as much as twice as much money for the author.

- Depending on how a contract is written, third party sites vary in how much an author makes back from a sale. Some of my contracts, I make a percent of the cover price (a lower percent than at the publisher's site). Other contracts give me a percentage of what the publisher gets back from the third party site. Since the sites dictate what percent they keep, my sales at Amazon under those contracts make me a different amount than my sales at, say, All Romance eBooks.

- The author profit on print-on-demand books is very low compared to cover price, and is in fact lower than their profit on digital copies of full-length novels. (This one shocked the hell out of me, but after it was all explained, it made a degree of sense.)

Yeah, there are things readers can do to ensure the author makes as much money as possible when they buy an ebook. But you know what? Buy it however you want. As an author, I'd rather you buy my work from wherever the heck you want, as long as you're buying it. (Pirating is another issue and goes back to a similar issue as everyone waiting to buy an ebook until a year after its release--no one makes money off pirating and if no one makes money a publisher isn't going to want more from that author.)

So, thank you to everyone who has bought my books, wherever and whenever you chose to buy them. I hope you enjoyed them, and I appreciate the support. I'm pretty sure most authors I know feel the same.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Home Again...for a Little While

For those of you who didn't know, I got to tag along with my husband on a business trip last week. Since I had to cancel the convention I'd planned to attend later this summer due to an eight-fold increase in costs, he hoped this would make up for it a little bit.

Our first night in Frankfurt, while stumbling around, hunting for food, we stumbled on the last night of a street festival celebrating Spanish-Germans. A rather interesting mix, in my opinion, but really, who can argue with bratwurst, pilsner and chorizos? Plus the music was fabulous :)

The next day we wandered... a lot. We saw a church, the museum of natural history...a whole bunch of stuff, but probably my favorite was something really kind of simple and "quiet". On the Eiserner Steg Bridge, there were padlocks everywhere. To be honest, I've seen a lone lock or two on a bridge before, but never so many (there were hundreds all together). Apparently this is a common thing that people in love do to symbolize their affection.

The next day we were off to Baden Baden, where the hubs had to go to work. I took a lovely walk through town (in sweltering heat while hoping for the A/C to kick on in the hotel--no such luck...horrible A/C there). But I found this lovely view along the river.

The heat in Baden Baden killed me (I do not like heat, especially not humid heat), so I don't have a lot of great pics from there. Then we left to hit some sights on the way to the airport. Our planned stop at Mummelsee didn't work out, but we did make it to Heidelberg Castle. It had the biggest keg I've ever seen :P

[caption id="attachment_749" align="aligncenter" width="225" caption="Yes, it was so big that there was no angle where I could get the whole thing in the picture."][/caption]

(Apologies. Wordpress has decided I'm no longer allowed to center things. *grumble*) The highlight of my first full day in Poland was definitely the Wieliczka Salt Mine. Over the years, the miners have carved art into the salt and it is quite simply breathtaking.

[caption id="attachment_750" align="aligncenter" width="225" caption="The largest of the chapels in the mine. The picture doesn't begin to do it justice."][/caption]

Back in Krakow for the night, we went out to dinner and then made our way to a bar to sit outside and people watch. Of course, the view didn't hurt either.

The next day we went to Wawel Hill to tour the castle and grounds. There were a ton of things to look at there, but my favorite was the Dragon's Lair. There's a legend about the dragon of Krakow, and we all know what a sucker I am for legends...and dragons.

[caption id="attachment_752" align="aligncenter" width="225" caption="Sadly the picture I have of it breathing fire looks weird because of the wind :("][/caption]

Then it was off to the airport to go back to Frankfurt. While we did sleep there, we decided to go back to Heidelberg the next day since we wanted to see more of it than the Castle. Most people know I'm not a history buff, but at Heidelberg University we found the single coolest historical site I've ever seen. It's called the Student Prison, and I could have spent hours there (and curse myself for all the German I've forgotten since high school).

[caption id="attachment_753" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="I really want to write a story about a place like this--as soon as I find the time. *sigh*"][/caption]

We'd run into a woman that morning who was heading to the "Philosophers Way" for a walk. After doing some shopping and sightseeing, we decided we'd do it on our way back (basically making a circle of Heidelberg). There's one thing none of the maps and stuff tell you about the Philosophers Way. There is an easy way to get there and a hard way. The easy way is this nice gentle slope up the mountain. The hard way is called the Winding Path as it takes you on a nice steep, twisty trail up the mountain. We...took the hard way, so by the time we got to the top I wasn't feeling very philosophical, just very asthmatic :P The view was fabulous though.

[caption id="attachment_754" align="aligncenter" width="225" caption="View through the trees of Heidelberg Castle, Old Bridge, and some of the surrounding area."][/caption]

After that, we returned to Frankfurt for our last night. It was the end of some women's soccer/football thing, so in the midst of our Frankfurt bar-hop, there were also fireworks. It was a fabulous way to end the trip!

[caption id="attachment_755" align="aligncenter" width="225" caption="One of several bars we visited that last night. "][/caption]