Or just the beginning? Remember Camelot and the men on powerful steeds wielding swords that protected the world? Remember damsels in distress and the concept of good versus evil? A fairy tale in the making and with all good fairy tales, there must be an end.
I’ve stood by silently watching what’s been happening in the publishing world and not really being a part of the madness now for months. While I have various personal reasons given my day life, the truth is the disillusionment robbed me of creativity for a long time – which isn’t like me as anyone who knows me realizes. I write because stories pour out of me. I was the girl who kept a notebook beside my bed every night. Even though I’m blind as a bat, when an idea came in a dream (and so many did) I would furiously write down at least key words. Often these ideas did indeed turn into stories. I’ve written since I was five. The ability allowed me to escape a rather abusive home life. I managed to keep writing, finally pushing hard about five years ago and lucky enough to be published dozens of times.
What happened during the fall and winter was in a failing of myself. Why did I fall into a pit of quicksand? One part was the constant battering of naysayers that I’ve talked about in previous blogs, but what I’m writing today has nothing to do with that. Over a year ago I was contacted by Booktrope to work with them, given a recommendation by a fellow author I knew fairly well. After several conversations, I signed on as Imprint Director for two up and coming Imprints – Entice and Edge. I went in like a bulldozer with ideas for marketing, selling, helping the teams work together and generally promoting in a new and creative fashion.
In addition, I was wooed to bring all – and I do say ALL of my books over to them. What I was told was that my huge volume (nearing two hundred that I could bring over) was something their investors would look favorably on. Let me tell you, this was a tremendous task to pull them either from another publisher or take them down after I’d self-pubbed. However, the concept of rebranding, exciting covers, new concepts, and new critical eyes editing was too much to resist. And so they were all pulled and delivered up to an innovative grid allowing every team member to see exactly where the creative process was at all times. Good in concept. Teams. Working together to create a masterpiece. Well…
With all good things come trying times. The grid was a pain in the ass to work with but the technical gurus did indeed tweak and answer questions. Then there was the team concept. What does this mean? This means the author gets to select from a pool of editors, designers, proofreaders and what was called Book Managers to build a team. Again, this was another good process in thought. I’ll never forget the day I had to tell a publisher and very good friend of mine that I was removing all my books from her press. Now, she wasn’t in the business of selling erotic any longer so there were no hard feelings. She wished me well and said that the team concept had been tried many years before – even before the explosion of the e-book market. Then she stated it had failed miserably. I could hear the glitch in her voice. I should have paid more attention.
Taking on the Manager Director role was quite honestly daunting and time consuming, but I had energy and drive and so I charged in. Keep in mind that I wasn’t paid. Booktrope didn’t put me on the staff. I was to get a percentage from books sold just like the teams. Still, not bad in thought. My mind was thinking – thousands of books out and I continue to get a percentage. Pretty nifty, huh? I think I made somewhere in the neighborhood of $150 in the months I worked with them. Maybe. And my books? Well, managing two imprints as well as trying to work with teams was like herding cattle. Yes, I met some incredible people and loved so much of what I did, but when the team members starting dropping off like flies, I couldn’t tell the players from the dead weight.
I should have jumped ship at the first series of red flags, but I didn’t. I started bringing marketing ideas of all kinds to the powers that be. I secured contacts and prices for magazines and even talked movie deals. I presented methods Booktrope itself could market their entire line, not just my imprints. What was I told? They had a limited amount of money and they honestly weren’t going to spend any on marketing. I was further told this was the responsibility of the teams. Hmmm… I scratched my head and argued many a time but forged on. Then more team members fell off and I was beginning to pull my hair out. The numbers weren’t good and no matter how much rallying around the troops I did, people were exhausted from trying. What a shame given so many authors had the excitement I once felt in publishing a book.
If you’re an author, do you remember the first time you heard the words ‘we want to publish your book’? Exciting and for a few minutes you see your name in lights, whether at Barnes and Noble at a book signing or on Amazon as a best selling author. There’s nothing wrong with the hunger and the hope. We all have to have hope.
I have such fond memories and can tell you the exact date, the weather, what I was wearing and the fact I received a dozen roses from my DH and a set of handcuffs when I first heard. No laughing. I was telling a romantic BDSM style book. Poignant, huh? After publishing 200, I’m lucky if I get ‘that’s nice dear’. And guess what? I’m not a millionaire. I don’t have illusions of grandeur any longer. I know the work to push past the flooded market of so many authors who shouldn’t write a grocery list let alone a book is daunting. BUT… Dear God their enthusiasm is something I continue to smile about. Too bad the likes of publishers who fold in a manner that’s unbecoming to the industry leaves a bad taste in everyone’s mouth.
There are plenty of blogs popping up that go into detail about the demise of Booktrope. After Booktrope announced on Facebook – with zero advance knowledge or respect to me – that they were dropping Imprint Managers, I sat back and watched their behavior. I finally made the decision to pull the majority of books. The teams weren’t working. There was little training for Book Managers and no, a video call for 45 minutes doesn’t cut it to send people forth in today’s marketplace. Editors were disgruntled given the little dollars they received and cover designers wanted the old method of payment – at time of delivery – back in full force. I could see the writing on the wall.
Yes, let me just say there were quite a few behind the scenes conversations and I was pushed 0n several levels. My contract was clear as to who the responsibility fell on and it’s not what I am reading on great Facebook. My disillusionment moved into hatred for the industry and the worst thing that happened? No writing or minimal at best. In other words, they’d gotten the better of me. Booktrope ceremoniously did what the entire bullshit hadn’t been able to before – stop the creative process.
Let’s move onto the big announcement made this past Friday. Of course they regret they are closing, but did they honestly have a choice? I’ll leave that to your imagination, but I have my viewpoint. Honestly, I’m saddened by the news even if I could see that writing in blood red months ago. The concept was indeed amazing for a little while – just like Camelot – the fairy tale was too good to be true.
And it was…
Are fairy tales real? I’m here to tell you that YOU need to grab onto your personal fairy tale right now. What am I reading on the great social media forums is far more disturbing than the announcement of Booktrope closing. Various team members are starting to cannibalize each other. When I read an editor comment that she had a PhD and in truth deserved in the neighborhood of $4k to edit a story I choked. Really? Right… Oh, and there’s a lot more statements like this out there. Granted, there are positive comments too – nice to see.
I have one piece of advice for everyone – keep on doing what you love. If it’s too painful and you can’t then don’t, but take your time deciding. The industry has weathered many an ugly storm and I anticipate it will morph over and over again until a balance is finally found. From publishers stealing from authors, plagiarism that seems rampant, Amazon who has become Big Brother, sites stealing work from authors for free downloads and the difficulty marketing given the flood of new authors, the road seems like a battle no one can fight. Only you can with our imagination and love for writing, editing or creating covers. Only you can push aside the bullshit and go on. I am. I’m finally writing for the reason I did when I was a small child – to get away from the every day strife of living, moving into a fantasy world where I can control what happens.
Stop the madness now and move on. Tomorrow is a new day and guess what, readers don’t care about the crap we’re going through. They only want to read a wonderful story to take them out of the horrors or constant difficulties they endure every day. Did you forget that? Did you forget about the first moments when you hit ‘the end’ and celebrated? Seems like so many have. Write because you have to. Create because you can’t go another minute without doing so. Don’t fall prey to the anger and backstabbing. Don’t.
Hmmm… There are fairy tales left to be told. Don’t you think? I challenge you as I did myself. Thoughts for a rainy Sunday.