Sunday, February 27, 2011

MYSTERIES in PARADISE: Review: DARK BLOOMS: Two Crime Fiction Shorts, Melissa F. Miller

If you like crime fiction, you've probably already visited the MYSTERIES in PARADISE blog. If you haven't, consider yourself warned: you will come away with an armload of new titles for your TBR (to be read) pile.

Today would be a particularly good day to check it out, as the review of DARK BLOOMS is up!
MYSTERIES in PARADISE: Review: DARK BLOOMS: Two Crime Fiction Shorts, Melissa F. Miller

From the review: "DARK BLOOMS is without doubt a ploy to whet the reader's appetite for more by this author."

She's right, of course. I'm an unknown author. Brown Street Books and I want readers to take a chance on me and read IRREPARABLE HARM when it comes out. What better way to do that than to offer a low-risk (in terms of both cost and use of precious free time) introduction to my work?

And, I'm happy to report, it worked! Also from the review: "Both are well crafted quirky stories with unpredictable endings, and yes, I came away hooked."

Now, that's a nice way to start a Sunday morning.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Will Print Books Really Go the Way of the Giganotosaurus?

Amazon's announcement late last month that it sold more e-books than paperbacks in the fourth quarter of 2010, coupled with the news that independent author Amanda Hocking has sold more than 450,000 books (almost all of them e-books) and that Borders has filed for bankruptcy protection, has led to great publishing industry and author hand-wringing (or maybe celebration) about the demise of traditional publishing and, with it, print (or dead tree) books.

I don't think so.

I do think most books sold will---some day soon---be in electronic format. It is just cheaper, quicker, and more convenient for everyone from author to publisher to reader.

Case in point: Yesterday, while waiting at pick up at my sons' preschool, I had fewer than five minutes to kill. I checked Twitter from my phone, saw that Marcus Sakey was offering a short story for free on Smashwords, clicked the on the link, purchased the story, entered the coupon code, and loaded the story to my Smashwords library. (And had three minutes left to arrange a play date to the museum this weekend AND buy the tickets for said play date through a Groupon. Again, from my phone.)

Later than night, I read the story on my phone while I was up rocking the baby and posted a review (five stars, by the way).

At no point did I have to go to my computer, let alone drag three kids to a bookstore.

So, yes, I think e-books are going to predominate, but there will always be a place for print. Off the top of my head those tactile baby board books and lift the flap books; pop up books; people who read in the bathtub; and people who read on the beach will all be better served by print. And there will always be those special books (defined on purely subjective grounds) that will merit a physical space in our book collections.

But, electronic delivery is pretty cool. So, here's a free electronic copy of DARK BLOOMS, from me to you. Use code MX28B at checkout. And hurry up, code expires on Saturday.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Why Indie Publishing Is Right for Me

I just published my set of crime fiction shorts through Brown Street Books, an independent publisher, and will publish IRREPARABLE HARM the same way in April. In light of a convergence of factors----like the spectacular success of self-published Amanda Hocking, the fact that Amazon sold more ebooks than print books in the last quarter of 2010, and Borders' bankruptcy filing---independent and self publishing are a big topic right now.

Veteran authors, including JA Konrath, Kristine Kathyrn Rusch, and Dean Wesley Smith, have staked out positions suggesting that authors at least consider alternatives to traditional, or Big Six, publishing. (In the case of JA Konrath, his views are a good bit stronger than a suggestion, as he believes traditional publishing and print books are dying. But that's a topic for a later post.)

They all make valid points, but, in the end, I agree with Rusch that there is a certain personality type who is better served going the independent route.

For me, it is the right decision because I (1) lack patience (my husband will confirm this); (2) have some publishing background to draw on; and (3) have an entrepreneurial spirit.

  • Impatience. While it is indisputable that I am impatient, the real issue is the glacial pace of traditional publishing. Step One is to find an agent. Many good agents have a several month response time to queries; then there is a further delay if they request either a partial or full manuscript. If an agent offers representation, said agent then needs to actually sell the book to a publishing house, which again could take awhile (or not ever happen). Then, the book will need to go through the book production process on the publisher's schedule. We're talking multiple years, here. In the case of IRREPARABLE HARM, the plot involves a smartphone application that can be used to crash a plane, which seemed pretty nifty when I came up with it. In 2009. It'll probably seem pretty lame five years from now, when we all have hover cars or whatever.

  • Background. After earning my extremely practical undergrad degree in medieval literature and creative writing (poetry), I worked as an editor for three years, including a year and a half as a book production editor at a publishing house. I learned a lot about the process before going to law school. While it's true that a little bit of knowledge can be dangerous, I do feel as though I don't need anyone to hold my hand.

  • Entrepreneurial spirit/control. This last one is probably the biggest factor. My husband and I quit jobs at two of the country's largest law firms to start our own. Countless lawyers said some variation of "that's really brave" or "that's risky." I beg to differ. I think the risky choice is to leave one's professional future in the hands of a management committee made up of near-strangers. In my firm, my success or failure is in my hands. This applies with equal force to publishing. By going the independent publishing route, I have more control and more responsibility, which suits me.

I do think this option is not for everyone. But, I know it's for me.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Lots of News

After going dark here last Spring to focus on writing (and also to give birth to a most adorable baby girl, tend to my wonderful boys, and run my legal practice), the blog is about to heat up!

I have lot of exciting news and plan to do a series of detailed posts over the coming weeks, but today I just want to hit the high points:

First, I am going to publish my fiction through Brown Street Books, an independent publisher. This decision is a sea change for me (which I'll explain in a follow-up post), but I am convinced it is the right direction.

Second, as of today, DARK BLOOMS: TWO CRIME FICTION SHORTS is available electronically through Smashwords (multiple electronic formats) and Amazon (for the Kindle). It should be available in iBooks, Nook, and Kobo formats within the next week or so.

But that's not all! In April, Brown Street Books will publish IRREPARABLE HARM, my legal thriller.

Now, I have to run. Deadlines and children await. Not in that order.