Sunday, May 23, 2010

"Master of Fantasy: Frank Frazetta's Legacy"

American Artist Frank Frazetta passed away on May 10, 2010, at the age of eighty-two.

His art career covered many years, and he was noted for work in comic books, paperback book covers, paintings, posters, record-album covers and other media.

The book cover above, of my late husband Don Pendleton’s paperback novel The Godmakers (written under Dan Britain) is a Frank Frazetta cover. The book was published in 1970.

I found it interesting to see the evolution of Frazetta’s art through the years, not only of his own style, but of the apparent social/cultural changes that have taken place. It is a brief look at art history over fifty years or so.

From Time Magazine:

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Self-Publishing Debate

I’m beginning to find rather amusing these ongoing and, at times, heated discussions of self publishing vs. standard publishing. Oh, some refer to it as vanity publishing...a term I now consider to be misplaced in some instances. If you receive royalties, I believe that to not be vanity publishing.

More than ten years ago, the Authors Guild, Inc.(I’ve been a member since 1990) began to offer their members the opportunity to put there out of print books back in print. Many authors have done so. I did so with my late husband, Don Pendleton’s two mystery series, 12 books in all: the Joe Copp Private Eye Thrillers and the Ashton Ford Psychic Detective series. The Back in Print program was in conjunction with (a company somehow connected at the time with Barnes and Noble) and apparently now under the umbrella of Author Solutions/Author House.

At the time I published Don’s 12 books with the Back in Print program, the set up cost per book was $99 and the royalty rate was 25%. I also published several other books with iUniverse over the next two years or so, at the $99 setup, and did my own covers, and had a royalty rate on those new books at 20%.

They’ve made profit...and I have heard from others, “but you didn’t get anything up front like you would with a publisher.” No, you do not get an advance when publishing this way, an advance against royalties. And in some cases, depending on the size of the advance you receive, it could be all you ever get, or if you earn out more royalty above the initial advance (usually part on signing, part on delivery of the mss), the publisher may distribute it to you over a long period of time while keeping some of your earned royalty money as a protection for them against returns by booksellers.

In the last few years since I published with iUniverse, their rates have increased significantly...about 500%. And things are not as good with this new company—they were slower to post royalties, and are not posting Kindle royalties (I paid $99 bucks recently to have two book put at Kindle by iUniverse). That was a mistake on my part as I could have done it for FREE myself, as I’ve discovered how easy it is to do. I’ve now put 31 books at Kindle myself, and I love that as I can watch my daily sales through my account at Amazon Kindle.

I have also ended my agreement with iUniverse on the Joe Copp and Ashton Ford mystery series, and will be putting them in print with shortly. I did new covers for all 12 and put them at Kindle where they are selling nicely. Those same covers will be done soon for the new PODs.

I also published two books with, my PI novel, Shattered Lens: Catherine Winter, Private Investigator, and The Cosmic Breath: Metaphysical Essays of Don Pendleton. That was quick and easy at $39.

So what I am so amused at is the apparent belief by many (agents, publishers, and authors) that books published in this way have no value. You can read what many are saying in their blogs, and in comments about POD and ebook publishing....if an author decided to bypass the agent—the mainstream publisher, then the manuscript must be “junk” and not worthy of publication. Why does a writer’s group disallow an author membership if he or she has published in this way? Why are some well-known writers against this kind of publication? Why do they care? They have made their money via their choice. (or have they actually gotten ripped off by mainstream publishers and don’t care to admit that—and believe me, it can happen).

Personally I prefer having control over my books, and if it means not having to go through the marketing process of a well-written manuscript, whether at the agent level or the publisher level, which can take many, many months or longer, it is well worth it to me. I get irritated when an agent takes months to reply, or will only reply to a query if interested, often leaving the author hanging will waiting a reasonable time, Yes, my books may suffer lack of distribution, but I have decided that I will do all I can to let people know of my writing and those who are meant to read it, will. The others who want to complain and prejudge the quality of work with a self-published tag on it, well, that is their problem.

Authors write for a variety of reason and expectations from publishing their work can be varied. And the rewards of writing have nothing much to do with bucks but with heart-felt feedback. Those are the things that stay with an author, the joy of sharing—the meeting of the minds, the author’s with the reader’s. The moment you learn you inspired someone with your words, that’s all that really matters. I’ve enjoyed that many times over in the last twenty years. And my husband, Don Pendleton was able to enjoy that for his long career, and even today, I still receive emails from his fans on how his books inspired them.

For some quality self-published works, take a look at Jon Guenther, H. Charles Dilmore, Summer Bacon, Stephen Tremp, Don Pendleton, Linda Pendleton, Greg Pendleton, and in the coming weeks, a memoir by Athena Demetrios. I’m sure some of you know of others who could be added to the list. I know the list of quality, interesting, and inspirational, self published books must be very long. It has to be as there is a lot of talent in this world.

Some mainstream publishers and booksellers who are getting in the game of offering publishing programs for a fee, now includes Harlequin, Thomas Nelson, Barnes and Noble (just announced), Hay House, of course, Amazon, and I would bet the list is growing day by day.

So why the negative reaction by some agents to authors who self publish? Seems obvious....they may be out a job one day.

What is not obvious is why another published author cares if one of his peers decides to self-publish....

Oh, maybe that’s it. They don’t consider self-published authors “peers” in their “elite” world? Could that be it?

All that said, do I believe in spending a lot of money putting your book out there? No, not really. Any aspiring author about to publish should carefully research, consider all alternatives, and not be “taken in” at a vulnerable time—vulnerable—yes, as it feels great to hold your book in your hand, or to see it listed for Kindle download or other downloads as ebooks.

It’s a sense of pride of doing what we love to do, and doing it well. As Joseph Campbell once said, “Follow your bliss.” And if that bliss is writing, do it!


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Is Lee the Next American Idol?

Fox American Idol Photo

Lee DeWyze really sang well tonight. I have liked him from the beginning of the season and actually hope he will be the winner. I like Crystal, also, and the duet they sang last week was excellent. And I assume they will have the opportunty to record together, as they both are excellent. Her voice is very unique.

So I am voting...still have more than an hour left. I have believed for several weeks that the final two would be Lee and Crystal.

Time will tell...Casey is popular, too...

Who do you think will win?


Monday, May 17, 2010

Mary Higgins Clark, Author of Suspense

“An education is the best gift a parent can give a child.” ~Mary Higgins Clark, Author

Best-selling suspense author, Mary Higgins Clark has released her new book, The Shadow of Your Smile. In this first short video she speaks of the inspiration for her story, and in the second, she offers advice to aspiring writers. In the third video she talks about her book, I Heard That Song Before, a psychological thriller. She reveals in these videos how she comes up with her ideas for her stories. Very interesting.

This weekend, the 82 year-old author spoke at the commencement exercise at Mount Saint Mary College, a private, liberal arts 4-year college located in Newburgh, in the Hudson Valley area of New York. She received an honorary degree, adding another to the many she has been given. She had graduated from Fordham University at about the age of 50 after attending night classes for six years and five of her own children graduated from college and two with law degrees.

She told the nearly 700 graduating students: “Make your story something more than a best-seller. Write it so it becomes a classic.”

How well she knows. She has sold over 100 million books and has won many awards. I read about her life at Wikipedia and her earlier life had been difficult in some ways and I would imagine her memoir, Kitchen Privileges, would be a good read. She will be appearing later this month at the Book Expo in New York.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Novelist Barry Eisler and INSIDE OUT

Novelist Barry Eisler has a new thriller, INSIDE OUT, coming out next month, and with his personal background and political interests this should be a great read. It’s all about torture, government cover-ups, a mixture of fiction and reality, written by someone in the know, who for three years was in a covert position with the CIA’s Directorate of Operations, and is a lawyer. He also blogs often about civil liberties and torture.

In the first video he reads one of his sex scenes...(language warning for tender ears)
and in the second video he tells us why he wrote the story.

Guess we need to buy his book! I may buy the audio recording...

The book, audio, and Kindle editions are available at Amazon for preorder. It will be out in late June. It’s getting great professional reviews, take a look.

My previous post about Barry