Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Cost of Books

A few years ago, a bunch of fat-cat media folks got together, chomping on their cigars and all that, and decided that books, DVDs, and music albums ought to cost about fifteen bucks.

Now, I’m no economist and so I can't explain how they landed on this $15 amount. Nor can I be bothered to back up this declaration with any kind of legitimate research, so let’s just accept it as fact.

Fifteen bucks is about what people think is a fair price for most of these forms of entertainment because that’s mostly what things cost.

My logic, though circular, is perfect.

Being an avid reader of book reviews, I see a looooot of belly-aching about the cost of books. Because people see books reviews as the appropriate place to grouse about pricing. Recently I saw this one review that criticized the cost of an e-book, and it was a sentiment echoed many, many times over by other reviewers who were all handing out 1-star reviews to protest (a practice that should be eliminated, by the way­—the author has zero control over the price of the book so why punish them for it). Anyway, this reviewer and many others wrote:  “Outrageous. $17 for an electronic pulse?”

This is like saying Van Gogh couldn’t have used more than, I dunno, five francs in oil paints to paint “Starry Night.” How much can it really be worth?

This is not to say that I'm not unsympathetic. I mean, you look at a Faberge egg, for example, and you think, wow, that’s a pretty awesome fancy egg thing. You understand the workmanship that went into it, and you can add up the cost of the materials used to make it: gold, jewels, whatever that enamel stuff is (enamel, I guess). But words are just words and anyone can use ‘em. And now that a lot of people are buying words that are displayed on a screen and not printed on pages tipped in gold foil, people feel a little short-changed. 

It’s hard to sell the idea that you’re selling an idea. An imaginary rendering of life. If you've paid money for something, you want to hold that something in your hands (like a big, heavy jeweled egg), and if you can’t, you feel like you’ve just bought a paper bag full of air.   

I do think this will change in time. I mean, I hope it will. I hope it like a dog hopes you'll accidentally drop your dinner plate on the kitchen floor on meatloaf night. 

I hope that the cheaper books become and the more of them there are, the value of the good ones will become more apparent, and people will gladly pay more for a finely-crafted electronic pulse.

I know, I know. This is probably an absurd hope, but there it is. I’m absurdly hopeful or else I wouldn’t be a writer.

Keeping in mind that we’re not exactly an unbiased group here, how much do you think e-books should cost?


I think they should cost around fifteen bucks.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Next Big Thing: My Version of It, Anyway

Oh, Lordy! What a couple of weeks it’s been!
It’s a good thing I don’t blog for a living or else I’d have fired myself for not showing up to work or showing up but only after rolling in three hours late wearing the same clothes I had on the day before.

But, listen, I’m going to make it up to you by doing something I’ve never, ever done on the blog before. I’m going to tell you what I’m working on.

I know, right?

Usually I’m all, like, hunched over my desk, cackling away. And occasionally you see a small cloud of smoke and maybe get a whiff of some sulfurous potion I’m concocting, but I never actually say what the heck I’m doing over here.

But as part of The Next Big Thing Blog Chain, I’m going to answer several questions passed along to me from the lovely Meghan Ward over at Writerland, who you should follow on Twitter if you don’t already, and go check out her NBT post, which is very cool.

So here we go:

What is the working title of your book?

For the moment it’s called Inamorata. However, my Critquer-in-Chief has already told me that she doesn’t like that title so it will probably get changed at some point ‘cuz if I make her mad, she inserts random punctuation into my ms when I’m not looking, and no one, but no one, wants a random colon in her book.

Where did the idea come from for this book?

I fell in the bathroom and hit my head on the bidet, and when I came to, voila!

OK, the less wise-assy answer is 1) I don’t even have a bidet because, come on, what’s that all about? And 2) I have no idea where most of my ideas come from. And usually when I AM able to trace the inspiration for something, the entire thing morphs into something that I never expected it to be. So, yeah, my inspiration always seems to mutate like some virulent strain of influenza.

What genre does your book fall under?

YA Fantasy.

How long did it take to write the first draft?

I won’t know until I actually finish the first draft *ahem* BUT if it follows the usual pattern, about 4 – 6 months.

What actors would you use for a movie rendition of your book?

How about someone really hot and someone else really hot and then a bunch of character actors with big noses who lend a sense of gravitas to the whole thing?

What is a one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Sixteen-year-old Giselle DeLancey must save herself and her land from the catastrophic effects of a magic spell placed upon her by a mysterious traveler with ill intent.

Will it be self published or represented by an agency?


Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I’ve been thinking for a while now about creating a story set in an alternate world. Something familiar in many ways but different enough that I can set my own rules and create strange beasties. (The creation of strange beasties is really what it’s all about for me.) This story has a definite fairy-tale sort of vibe, especially since it features a rather burdensome enchantment that would seem to be a good thing but, as it turns out, isn’t. At least not for my particular MC.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Hmmm, always a challenge, this question. I’m going to describe this as Taming of the Shrew meets Graceling.

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

There's this group of nuns with an unorthodox approach to piety that takes my MC in, protects her, and teaches her how to defend herself. Who doesn’t love a kick-ass nun?

And there we have it, folks! My Next Big Thing.

Now, the rules of this here blog chain say that I’m supposed to tag five other writers to participate and I may or may not do that. There’s only so much Spirit of Cooperation that I can muster on any given day. How about you? Would you like me to tag you next? If so, let me know in the comment box, WHICH, as we all recall, is accessed by clicking on the post title.