Cameron Chapman

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Book Three in The Steam and Steel Chronicles is Now Here!

So it’s been almost two years since I released anything in The Steam and Steel Chronicles, but the third novella is now live on Amazon! The Quest for the Demon Disconcerter is only $2.99! Here’s the blurb:

The American West has been a new frontier for Captain Stig Rayner and Miss Isabelle Feeney Hemsworth and their joint business venture. And the fact that they can work together and yet still avoid one another is a nice bonus.

But unexpected news drives a wedge between them that just might push them apart for good. The return of am estranged family member only adds to the tension.

An attack on Isabelle’s life and livelihood may not be enough to bring them back together, though counsel from a wise elder just might be. In the end, the chance they’ve always wanted might finally come, but is the price too high?

The Quest for the Demon Disconcerter follows Stig and Isabelle through what could be the most tumultuous time in their years-long journey to find peace together.

Check it out and leave a review if you want!

It should be live on Barnes & Noble in another day or two. It will be available on Smashwords soon (I still have to do the formatting for that one).

THE NEXT BIG THING BLOG HOP

I first heard about The Next Big Thing Blog Hop on a Facebook writer’s group, when Kimberly Menozzi posted to ask if anyone was interested in participating. I had no clue what it was, so of course I jumped right in with both feet! ‘Cause what else could I possibly do?

Kim sent me the basics of what the NBT Blog Hop is (I’d done a similar one years and years ago when I first started blogging).

Basically, it’s an Independent Authors game of tag.

One author posts, and then tags five other authors, who each link back to them. Exponentially it is a marketing gold mine, and you my fair reader have hopefully just increased your to-read list. Finding new and exciting authors you may never have found otherwise. Some of us are still writing, others are just being released.

Either way, for you Fiction Lovers, a treasure trove awaits and I’d like to thank fellow Author Kimberly Menozzi for tagging me to participate.

Click the links to find out about Kimberly’s books.
Blog | Purchase link | Twitter (more…)

Two Years?

I just came across some pretty disturbing information about the time frames involved in legacy publishing. Right now, from the time a book is signed until it’s actually released is running upwards of two years. TWO YEARS! And in some cases, we’re talking about ebooks taking that long!

What on earth are publishers doing with writers’ manuscripts that it takes them two years to publish them? I mean, seriously. I’m asking the question.

As an individual, I can put an ebook out in a matter of months. That includes a couple rounds of editing, copyediting, cover design, formatting, uploading, and marketing. And I work full time, so it’s not like I just have all day to do these things. If I can do this in a matter of months, why does it take publishers years? These are people with staff. With resources at their fingertips I could only dream of. And it takes them twenty-four months to put out a novel? As a freakin’ ebook?

And if you tell me that it’s because of backlog, because there’s too much in the pipeline to begin with, then the problem is only going to get worse. I’d say it’s time to fix that pipeline problem. Hire some additional staff or publish fewer books, faster. It’s not rocket science. I’ve worked with a large publisher, and I have to tell you that the inefficiencies in that system are astonishing.

Yet they wonder why indies are doing so well? As an indie author, I can see a market trend that I find interesting and I can write to it. I don’t have to wait three or four years (if you consider the time to write the book, get an agent, make the submissions rounds, and finally get signed, in addition to the actual publishing time) for someone else to put my book out. I see a trend, decide if it’s something I can actually passionately write about, and I can write it and have it out before that trend has reached its peak.

Publishers have a very hard time doing that anymore, because their publishing workflow and timeline is just too damn long. There are too many steps to the process that aren’t necessary and there are too many points of failure (and let me tell you, they do fail, and in my experience, they fail quite often). There are hundreds of digital tools out there that can be used to speed up the publication process and make it more productive and more useful, and from what I can tell, large publishers aren’t using any of them.

Granted, some publishers are putting books out rather quickly, in less than a year (my own non-fiction book was done in less than eight months between the time I signed the contract and the time it was available on Amazon, and less than a year when you look back to when the proposal was originally submitted). Some small fiction publishers manage to get books out in a matter of months. But the standard, the length of time most legacy published authors are coming to expect, is now eighteen months to two years. And that’s after the contract is signed.

I’m sorry, but this isn’t acceptable. Let’s actually crunch the numbers here:

I write a novel. Let’s say it takes me six months to get it into submission-ready condition (which is typical for a lot of professional, career-oriented authors). Let’s say I start this on January 1, 2012 (for ease of tracking). It’s ready to go on July 1, 2012.

I send it out to agents. It takes six months to find an agent who wants to take me on (which is honestly probably a bit on the quick side, as I know a lot of people who sub for much longer, but we’ll be optimistic here). It’s now January 1, 2013. It takes that agent another three months to find an interested publisher, and a month beyond that to negotiate an acceptable contract (again, this is being optimistic, but I’m trying to paint a best-case scenario here, not a worst-case one). It’s now May 1, 2013.

The publisher schedules it for release in April of 2015, just under two years after the contract is signed. But that’s three years and three months after I started writing the thing. And don’t forget that I’ll need to do a good bit of marketing after the book is released, so I better just round it up to four years.

Now, let’s say I have a very good agent, and she gets me a good advance for a first-time author: $30,000 for the book. I know a lot of authors would jump at that kind of advance, and a lot of them are getting paid a whole lot less than that. But broken down yearly, that’s only $7,500.

You might argue that during the two years that book is with the publisher I can be writing other things. But that publisher might just (probably does) have a clause in their contract saying I can’t publish any other novels (or even book-length works) before this one comes out. So effectively, my hands are tied. And the publisher isn’t going to contract another book from me until they see how the first one fares.

$7,500 a year. A part-time minimum wage job at McDonald’s pays more than that. Sure, you might get royalties down the line, but probably not until after that four years is up. And even then it’s completely up in the air whether you’ll actually get anything more than your initial advance. And we’re expected to make a living on that? I don’t know about you, but that wouldn’t cover my mortgage for the year (and I live in a very, very inexpensive area).

Authors need to look at writing and publishing as a business if they want to actually make a living at it (and if you don’t, then ignore what I’m saying here). You need to site down and crunch the numbers and the time involved in each and figure out which one fits your own goals. Just remember that there are indie published authors out there who are making the best seller lists (including at least two in the Kindle Millions Club), so that’s not a deciding factor anymore.

What I’m Reading: Indie vs. Legacy

So I was thinking about my reading habits due to a few discussions on various websites, and I realized something: for the past six months or so, I’ve been reading a ton of indie published books and books published by very small publishers, and very few legacy published books. In fact, most of the legacy published books I’ve read in the past six months were purchased a long time ago and have been sitting in my to-read pile for awhile.

Since I got my Nook Color back in the spring, I’ve read ebooks by Amanda Hocking (indie), Zoe Winters (indie), Lindsay Buroker (indie), Greta van der Rol (small press), Kimberly Menozzi (small press and indie), Poppet (small press), Calista Taylor (indie), and Randolph Lalonde (indie). Print books I’ve read this year only include Stephen King’s Dark Tower Series (which I started reading last year) and Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker. Oh, and some books I either picked up at places like Big Lots (when they’re $2 apiece for a hardcover), or books that have been shared among myself, my mother, and my grandmother (like John Grisham’s A Painted House). (more…)

Writing: Career or Hobby?

I was driving home from the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 midnight release one night (my husband’s airsoft team always does an appearance at these things) and we got talking about creative pursuits as a career vs as a hobby. It started out, I think, with a discussion of the music industry. Individual recording artists are often upset about the low royalties being paid out from services like Spotify. They get a fraction of a cent for each time their song is played, meaning they have little chance of gaining any kind of real income from these plays. And so they decry the industry and these services, and say they’re what is killing the music industry.

Independent movie producers say the same kinds of things. They only make a few cents (if that) whenever their movie is streamed via Netflix. Unless their film is viewed millions of times, they won’t make much money off of it.

I hear the same kind of thing coming from a lot of authors. If they’re forced to sell their ebooks at $.99, they’re only making $.35 on each sale. They have to sell thousands of copies to make any money. (The same things are said at $2.99, $4.99, and pretty much anything under the price of a mass-market paperback.)

Part of this has to do with the number of celebrities we see in each of these fields, and pretty much every other creative field. We see the J.K. Rowlings, the Stephenie Meyers, the Stephen Kings, of the world, and we think that that’s what success looks like. We think that all we should need to do is write something great (or not so great, depending on your opinion) and the riches should follow. (more…)

Why $2.99 Doesn’t Devalue Your Work

There seems to be a certain camp in the writing and publishing worlds that feels like selling a novel at $2.99 is somehow devaluing that novel, and novels in general. The idea seems to be that readers will refuse to pay more than $2.99 for novels eventually, and that will somehow topple the publishing industry.

But no one is asking whether readers should pay more than $2.99 for most books. We’ve just accepted that paperbacks are priced at $8.99-$16 and that hardcover books are priced at $20-$30. And so we feel like ebooks should be priced somewhere along that line, too. But does anyone know why a mass market paperback is priced at $9? Or a trade paperback at $16? Or why a hardcover book is $25?

In the 1960s, a paperback book might cost anywhere from 25¢ up to around $.75 or so depending on the length, publisher, genre, author, and specific year (you can find evidence of these prices by looking at old book covers from that era). Now, a lot of these books were shorter than what we’re used to these days, coming in at around 150-200 pages. They were “pocket books”, in their truest sense: they would fit in your pocket. (more…)

Some Upcoming Changes

I’ve decided to do a bit of refocusing on this blog. It’s been “Cameron Chapman On Writing” for a few years now, and I feel like it’s too restrictive. So I’m going to change it to “Cameron Chapman On Creativity”. This will give me more freedom to post about topics other than writing, including design and filmmaking. I’m also planning on running regular interviews with creative professionals across a number of industries.

I still plan on posting about writing quite a bit, but expect posts on other topics, too. I’m hoping to get onto a more regular posting schedule in September, after Labor Day. I might even shoot for posting twice a week!

Also, The Smashing Idea Book is now available on Amazon. It should be out elsewhere soon.

A Failure of Logic in Legacy Publishing

So I try to keep up with publishing news, if only because what’s happening in the industry has a direct impact on how I sell my books. I need to keep abreast of what’s going on if I want to be successful. That’s true of any business.

One thing that we keep hearing over and over again when publishers try to defend their $12.99, $14.99 and $15.99+ ebook prices is that ebooks are nearly as expensive as hardcover books to produce and sell (because the physical book represents a very small percentage of the total cost), and therefore they need to price ebooks high if they want to remain equally as profitable.

I’m gonna call bullshit on this one.

First of all, I’m not talking about publishers who are selling their ebooks for $9.99. Those are the smart legacy publishers who know they can cash in on the marketing machine they have access to, and the names of their authors, to make more money. It’s good business.

I’m talking about those publishers who sell their ebooks for more than $9.99.

Let’s do the math real quick.

A publisher selling an ebook for $9.99 on Amazon, taking advantage of their 70% royalty option, is going to make $7.00 on each sale.

A publisher selling an ebook for $14.99 on Amazon, is only getting 35% of each sale, making only $5.25 on each sale.

A publisher would have to sell an ebook for $19.99 to make the same profit as a $9.99 ebook. And you’re telling me they’ll sell the same number of copies?

Like I said: bullshit.

Publishers prices ebooks high to protect the market share of print books. Because they know how to market print books. It’s where they have a distinct advantage over indie publishers. They know how to get books into stores, and they know how to tap into readers of paperback and hardcover books.

Ebooks are like the wild west. Indie publishers and authors are on an almost level playing field when it comes to ebooks. And that’s threatening to legacy publishers. Suddenly, instead of having competition coming from a handful of other big publishers who do things the same way they do, they’ve got competition from tends of thousands of little guys who can do pretty much whatever they want in terms of marketing and promotion. Those little guys have no overhead, they have no offices to pay for or employees to pay, and they’re much more agile because of it.

So, the next time you hear some legacy publisher claiming that they’re ebooks are priced at $12+ because their costs are high, call them on it. Call it out for the bullshit story that it is.

Two Books on Sale Through Labor Day

From now through Labor Day (September 5th), I’m offering all of my books for $.99. The prices should be updating on Amazon and Barnes & Noble within the next day or so. For Smashwords, you’ll need to use a coupon code (which is active right now). The code for Hold My Hand is ZW52W and the code for The Great Healion Race is XN97R.

Why am I doing this? Because August is traditionally a very, very slow month for ebook sales. I don’t want to lose momentum this month, so I’m hoping that by running a special like this, I can attract more new readers. After the 5th, they’ll both return to the $2.99 prices in all likelihood (though if my sales go way up, I may keep them at $.99 for awhile).

Here are the purchase links:

The Great Healion Race

Barnes & NobleKindle/Amazon USKindle/Amazon UKSmashwords

Hold My Hand

Barnes & NobleKindle/Amazon USKindle/Amazon UKSmashwords

Aboard the Unstoppable Aerostat Fenris

Barnes & NobleKindle/Amazon USKindle/Amazon UKSmashwords

(This has always been $.99)

Now, if you buy the books at this price and love them (or even if you hate them) I’d love a review on Amazon, Goodreads, or elsewhere!

Hold My Hand is Now Available!

Just an update to let everyone know that Hold My Hand is now available in ebook form on Amazon (including the UK), Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. The price for right now is $2.99, but I plan on raising that at some point in the future (like early winter) to $4.99. I’ll also be putting out a paperback version sometime this fall. It’s women’s fiction, and completely different from The Steam and Steel Chronicles.

Here’s the blurb for Hold My Hand:

After finding out her husband is having an affair, Leilah flees to the comfort of her grandmother’s house, where she discovers she’s pregnant.

Hopes of reconciliation evaporate when Leilah’s husband accuses her of using the pregnancy to trap him in their failed marriage.

Leilah—jobless, husbandless, and still living with her Gran—reluctantly chooses to have an abortion. When complications arise, it’s Hank, Gran’s good-looking neighbor, who rushes her to the hospital.

It’s the start of a friendship Leilah hadn’t expected, and isn’t sure she’s ready for—especially when her feelings for Hank start pushing the limits of “friendship.”

Out of the blue, her husband reappears. Even though he’s a bastard (in Gran’s opinion, anyway), Leilah isn’t sure she’s ready to just throw everything away.

She struggles to reconcile the life she wanted, with the life that’s been forced on her.

Or maybe it’s the other way around…

You can also find it on Goodreads. If you read it, I’d really appreciate an honest review, either on Goodreads or wherever you purchased it!