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Book news, sort of

Thank you all for being so encouraging. <3.

But I'm still genuinely curious about whether or not things get easier or harder for people who write (or actually, create something that is offered for public inspection). Someone – I think kateelliott, suggested that it gets harder because we're all more aware, later in career, of all the ways things can go wrong, most of which we have no control over.

In other news: I received the mass market covers for Cast in Courtlight and Cast in Secret, and cszego saved me the August catalogue (they're both August titles now) in which they're offered. The covers are a matte finish, as opposed to the standard, glossier finish of the trades, and Courtlight is slightly different, in that the runic marks on the figure's arms are now also across the figure's exposed back. The text for Cast in Secret has Kaylin as a Private, and across the back cover of both books are "also in the series" banners that show the covers (in postage stamp size) of the other 3 books in the series.

I like them. I also like that the catalogue – as opposed to the cover proofs – lists the price of the book as 6.99 U.S./Canadian, which means that when the books arrive, they'll be at par. The DAW March titles appear to be at par as well. I'm assuming that this means that the March Roc/Ace titles will come in at par.

We get a lot of people who complain – frequently – about the discrepancy in the Canadian/US prices on those books, and I've explained how the distribution system works here, and how much money we personally would be losing if we charged the US cover price while we were paying based on the Canadian cover price more times than any of you would want to endure. A lot of people have simply been ordering from Amazon, and booksellers here have been ordering from Ingram; it is a huge relief to see the cover prices in Canadian dollars come down. Because the fun of lecturing people? It pales quickly. Yes, I know it's me, so it probably pales less quickly, but even so.

I understand that people are short on cash everywhere, and I understand that it makes sense to economize by ordering on-line from places like Amazon.com; I'm not bitter about it, although we have noticed a slow-down, and some of the people who come into the store for specific things have said they pretty much do all their purchasing, with a few exceptions (things that they don't want to wait for) from amazon.com. So there's no criticism of bookbuyers here (well, not the ones who don't accuse us of horrible price gouging), but I'm happier as a bookseller to see the prices come down.

Comments

( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
janni
Feb. 17th, 2008 11:41 pm (UTC)
For me writing has definitely been getting harder over time, even on a purely craft level.

Which makes me feel really strange when I watch new writers talk about their writing processes, and the whole process seems much easier for them--even though I was one of those new writers blithely rambling about things I didn't really understand, not too long ago. :-)
kristine_smith
Feb. 17th, 2008 11:50 pm (UTC)
I tend to think of two general groups. There are external plotters, for whom outlines and software programs work well, and internal plotters, who write by the seats of their pants (::waves::). Is there any evidence that it can get easier for external plotters, as they gain more practice in organizing their thoughts and using whatever software tool helps them, but more difficult for internal plotters because our brains get progressively more clogged with old versions of stories and techniques that worked for one book, but not another? If we were computers, we'd get our hard drives wiped and everything reinstalled.

I know there's overlap between the groups, but I'm keeping things general for the sake of argument.
msagara
Feb. 18th, 2008 12:05 am (UTC)
There are external plotters, for whom outlines and software programs work well, and internal plotters, who write by the seats of their pants (::waves::). Is there any evidence that it can get easier for external plotters, as they gain more practice in organizing their thoughts and using whatever software tool helps them, but more difficult for internal plotters because our brains get progressively more clogged with old versions of stories and techniques that worked for one book, but not another? If we were computers, we'd get our hard drives wiped and everything reinstalled.

This is interesting, and not something that I'd really considered. I am by-and-large a seat of the pants writer, although I would say that there's always some intellectual sense of the plot as it would develop, without actual people and their murkiness to mess things up, just sitting in the back of my mind. The book is the clash & combination of the individuals with the pristine plot as it might work if everyone was Spock or Mirror Spock.

As one of these writers, some software programs have never, ever worked for me - in particular, things that have complicated, complex outlining features that allow one to write a book by fine-tuning the structural elements of an outline in ever-increasing complexity, and then expanding the elements of the outline.

I think that outlining is -- intellectually -- the smarter approach, but in writing, smarter doesn't matter; it's all down to what works =/. If I outline everything to within an inch of book, I cannot finish the book; it's like I've dissected what was still alive, and the dissection has killed it inside of my own head. Or heart.

That said, I like some of Scrivener's features -- in particular the way I can put the first 6 attempts to start a chapter under the loose Chapter One category, and then select one or another as final. I kind of wish that an all-in-one project management suite would include a wiki, though.
phantom_wolfboy
Feb. 18th, 2008 01:02 am (UTC)
I wonder if some of the pricing problem isn't due to the massive crossover between F/SF readers and comic-book readers? Comic book stores have been selling at US price for a while now, but their economics are different.
msagara
Feb. 18th, 2008 04:12 am (UTC)
I think it's more the fact that every reporter and paper in the country decided it was a slow news day and they had to compare the US/Canadian prices on almost everything. The discounts on comics are up to 20% higher than they are on books, and if our distributors were giving us 60% off cover price, we would still make less money, but it wouldn't be the total disaster it would otherwise be.

Of course our distributors might well be unable to eat the loss of their margins in this scenario.
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msagara
Feb. 19th, 2008 04:07 am (UTC)
So, do you think this is a growing inability to disregard the Internal Editor as well as the Career Disaster Forecaster?

Especially since the Internal Editor is so much smarter now than it was when we first started?
(Anonymous)
Feb. 19th, 2008 03:03 pm (UTC)
Darn upgrades, anyway!!
Yes, that certainly happens.
But there's the weird blind spots where, when you know a topic, your brain just never goes there in the first place.
"Birds would never do that!" is where Hitchcock got the shock value.
"Cars don't do that!" is another.
So I'm thinking that some types of writers go hunting for those spots in the minds of ordinary readers, and exploit them. (Horror not being the only example, but an obvious one.)
What about the writer's own peculiar ones?
So I'm wondering how you get to noticing those.
Writing workshops are no guarantee, but that's how I noticed that one.
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starlady38
Feb. 18th, 2008 12:55 pm (UTC)
Wow, exchange rate parity. How times have changed. But I support anything that can potentially help independent bookstores stave off ruin, so hooray for price parity as well!

I have nothing else constructive to say.
ovirginsaint
Feb. 18th, 2008 02:18 pm (UTC)
This time I'm actually not buying through amazon. I've found that I can just go to the bookstore and get it quicker than amazon will send it to me. And since they're largely your books I'm buying, I have to have them *now*. hehe :)
falcongirl
Feb. 18th, 2008 03:59 pm (UTC)
I noticed a price drop in the US market of new books recently. It made me wonder if it had anything to do with the booming secondary market and pay-per-print market getting larger. I don't shop on Amazon and unless I'm looking for a book that's out of print, I don't shop online at all. I used to be a fair regular of Amazon, until I noticed that my books fell apart a lot faster. I don't know if that was due to the knocking around they got at the warehouse/shipping, or whether the prints were run on a cheap press with even cheaper glue, but I didn't like how fast the books died. The savings didn't equal the aggravation of having the covers and pages fall out of my books in just a few months. If a book self destructs that quickly, I'm not likely to buy it new a second time or buy it for anyone else. The only thing I even go to the Amazon website for anymore is to find release dates. (I am literally ticking off days until House War comes out - two weeks! AUGH!)

I live in a city that has a SciFi/Fantasy-specific owner-run bookstore. I've been going there for years, and they may not have the standard X% off specials the big box stores do, but the big box stores don't call me to find out how I'm handling the wait withdrawal between series books, and can't make recommendations to tide me over based on what types of stories I like. On what genre I buy, yes, but the computer can't differentiate between Bujold and Niven. It's not a store, it's a relationship. I can also handle the books and check the covers and pages to see if there's any noticeable flaw in the bindings before I bring them home. I'd rather pay more to the store.. and I wind up spending more, because I walk in for one book and walk out with 12 due to the owner being an evil enabler of my addiction.. than pay less somewhere online and get impersonal spam about 'Our Customers Also Bought..'.

-T
msagara
Feb. 18th, 2008 06:33 pm (UTC)
It's not a store, it's a relationship.

We have a number of customers who buy everything but their SF on amazon at the moment, but are willing to support the store for their genre reading -- but these are people who do understand the economics of a bookstore, and don't assume that we're trying to rip them off; they also navigate the shoals of employee recommendations (we all read different things, so there's often that trial and error period where you're buying someone's recommended reading to see how your tastes synch), and have generally come out ahead. And if they hate a book, they can always come back and argue about it :D.




beautiflntmr
Feb. 21st, 2008 06:37 am (UTC)
About whether it's harder to write, it's harder for me as well.
Granted, I don't write whole stories. My writing is limited to my version of poetry, and some short essays.
But it's true that as time goes by, I become more aware of what I'm writing, and I probably over-analyze it, trying hard as I can to weed out the imperfections: lack of rhythm, words that just don't fit or sound right, overall stanzas/paragraphs that just don't do justice to what I see/hear in my mind.
Thus it usually takes months to write one poem or three paragraphs
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