Archives for category: The Publishing Business

After my Omni story, Tomorrow’s Child, optioned and then sold outright as a feature film to Universal Studios, I went off for some years to study screenplay writing. I wrote half a dozen, including Tesla: A Worthy of His Time, now an ebook.

As generous as the people were who helped me with the Tomorrow’s Child deal, the Hollywood Machine is even more difficult to deal with than New York Publishing.

Anyway, writing prose is my first love.

When the e-book revolution took off in 2010, I devoted time to uploading Summer of Love, The Gilded Age, a number of my longer previously published stories, a story collection Strange Ladies: 7 Stories of previously published short fiction, an urban fantasy, The Garden of Abracadabra, and a historical romantic suspense, Celestial Girl (A Lily Modjeska Mystery).

Four years of relaunching into ebook publishing just wasn’t enough, though, and I returned to my roots: writing short stories. I spent some months in 2014 writing stories. Two of them sold, “Teardrop,” published in the May-June 2015 Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and “Tomorrow Is A Lovely Day,” to be published in the November-December Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

The editor who acquired both stories was Gordon Van Gelder, the eminent publisher of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, a venue that has published continuously since 1949 and featured Stephen King, Harlan Ellison, Jane Yolen, and other renowned authors.

While preparing a story for publication, Gordon asked me in January, 2015 if I might be available to serve as a judge for the 2016 Philip K. Dick Award.

Of course I jumped at the chance.

The Philip K. Dick Award is conferred each year by a panel of five judges who are themselves professionally published authors. Each year, there are four Finalists and one Winner.

Serving as a judge has been an amazing experience. Publishers—large, medium, and small—have sent their original trade and mass market paperbacks for the year. I’ve been fascinated to read what SF authors are writing and publishers feel strongly enough about to invest in.

This year’s judges are Eric James Fullilove, James Glass, David Higgins, Lisa Mason (that’s me), and Jack Skillingstead.

A series of events then led me to assume the duties of the Curator of The Philip K Dick Award Storybundle.

So there you have it, my friends. The Philip K Dick Award Storybundle includes Aestival Tide by Elizabeth Hand (PKD Finalist), Life by Gwyneth Jones (PKD Winner), The Cipher by Kathe Koja (PKD Finalist), Points of Departure by Pat Murphy (PKD Winner), Dark Seeker by K. W. Jeter (PKD Finalist), Summer of Love by Lisa Mason (PKD Finalist), Frontera by Lewis Shiner (PKD Finalist), Acts of Conscience by William Barton (PKD Special Citation), Maximum Ice by Kay Kenyon (PKD Finalist), Knight Moves by Walter Jon Williams (PKD Finalist), and Reclamation by Sarah Zettel (PKD Finalist).

The Philip K Dick Award Storybundle runs only until October 15. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Act now and download yours today at http://storybundle.com/pkdaward and enjoy world-class, award-winning reading right now and into the holidays.

9.8.15.PKD.All CoversLarge

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Amazon.com recently launched Kindle Unlimited, a subscription-style option for readers essentially permitting them unlimited ebooks in the Unlimited program for a standard monthly fee. What ebooks are in the Unlimited program? All books in the Amazon Select program, whereby readers borrow an ebook for a period of time for free. Because Amazon maintains a “Global Fund,” the borrowed ebook earns for the author a varying royalty determined as a percentage of the Global Fund, which may change from month to month. There are some 500,000 ebooks in the Select program, which are now in the Unlimited program.

You should be aware of two major rules affecting Select, and fherefore Unlimited, ebooks. First, if you decide you want to go this route, Amazon demands exclusivity. Meaning that you are required to remove the book from other vendors, typically Barnes and Noble and Smashwords. Second, you are locked into the Select program for three months, whereupon, unless you uncheck the re-enroll box, you are automatically re-enrolled.

I tried Select about two years ago with a title, U F uh-O, A Sci Fi Comedy. This is a novella based on a screenplay I wrote for a producer looking for another “Men in Black” or “Galaxy Quest,” and scored a five-star review on Amazon.com. I had sold a few copies of this ebook on Amazon, Nook, and Smashwords. Then I put the book on the Select program, according to the rules. I got no borrows whatsoever. After three months, I put the ebook back on sale and relisted it on the other vendors.

So my experience with Select was not good and I really can’t recommend it.

By the way, U F uh-O, A Sci Fi Comedy is on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, Sony, and Smashwords.

U F uh-O, A Sci Fi Comedy is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

Here’s the 5 star review:

A very clever humorous novella! July 26, 2013 Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified Purchase “I had never read any work by this author, but I met Lisa on Facebook and twitter and she seemed a very nice person. For that reason, I thought I would try one of her books, but I really had no expectations; being a nice person is no proof that she will be able to write. As it turns out, she also was an excellent author! By about the time I was halfway through the book, I found myself very involved with the characters and wholeheartedly cheering them on! I took a chance on someone I never read before and was rewarded by finding another favorite author. It wasn’t until I had finished the book and read the end material that I learned that she had many other works published and some with pending movie contracts. I would highly recommend this 82 page funny novella to anyone who enjoys a well written book with excellent character development in unusually subtle ways. Read this little book and I’m sure you will be as pleasantly surprised as I was. I am looking forward to reading more of her works as I’m sure you will be, too!”

When Amazon launched Unlimited, they did not notify or ask the permission of Select authors before their books were automatically enrolled, they just went ahead and did it, causing a stir at Publishers Weekly and elsewhere. Because some authors did not wish to become a part of Unlimited, Amazon was forced to offer Select authors a way to unenroll their books from Select, and therefore Unlimited.

Why would you wish not to be a part of Unlimited? Two authors on the Books & Writers group on LinkIn have already expressed their fears that readers would begin borrowing so many books to make their monthly fee worthwhile that the authors’ royalty would be substantially reduced.

This problem is compounded by the fact that Amazon Unlimited counts a reader’s sampling of more than ten percent of the book as a sale! I don’t know about you, but I sample books—for-sale books—all the time to get a sense of the author’s style, how the book opens, and so on. As result of Unlimited’s sampling gambit, a number of Unlimited ebooks have precipitously leapt into the top 100 books on Bowker Ebook Ranking and elsewhere. In other words, Unlimited sampling artificially inflates “sales figures.” The problem became so dire, so quickly, that Bowker removed Unlimited ebooks from its ranking!

Finally, Smashwords has issued a blog denouncing both Select and Unlimited because of the exclusivity rule. Naturally, Smashwords has a vested interest in taking this position—they’re Amazon’s prime competitor after Barnes and Noble. Most authors, including me, list their books directly with Amazon and Barnes and Noble and then distribute to Apple, Kobo, Scribd, and so on via Smashwords. This is a good strategy because Amazon and B&N pay royalties on a monthly basis, whereas Smashwords pays only quarterly. Further, meeting the independent formatting rules of all those vendors is difficult. I find it easier just to let Smashwords handle that through its fantastic conversion program.

So there you have it, my friends. If you’ve never been published before and have written a ebook, you may wish to try Select and Unlimited to try to win readers who are unfamiliar with your name and your work and who don’t have to pay for your book (or your book is included in their fee along with all the other books they borrow). Personally, I think that unknown authors offering their books for free or for a minimal amount is demeaning to their work and an unsound strategy. Better to promote on the social networks, offer free samples, and/or publish stories in an established traditional venue and win name recognition that way.

I’m embarking on the serialization of The Garden of Abracadabra on WordPress and Wattpad today! I’ll let you know how that goes.

Previous Blogs in this Series:

State of the Biz: Publishing in 2014 and Beyond, Part 1: Introduction https://lisamasontheauthor.com/2014/03/18/state-of-the-biz-publishing-in-2014-and-beyond-part-1-introduction-lisa-mason-sfwapro/

State of the Biz: Publishing in 2014 and Beyond Part 2: Who’s Reading? https://lisamasontheauthor.com/2014/04/07/state-of-the-biz-publishing-in-2014-and-beyond-part-2-whos-reading-lisa-mason-sfwapro/

State of the Biz: Publishing in 2014 and Beyond Part 3: The Shady Case of Fifty Shades https://lisamasontheauthor.com/2014/04/17/state-of-the-biz-publishing-in-2014-and-beyond-part-3-the-shady-case-of-fifty-shades-lisa-mason-sfwapro/

State of the Biz: Publishing in 2014 and Beyond Part 4: The Comet and the Long Tail Lisa Mason #SFWApro https://lisamasontheauthor.wordpress.com/2014/05/27/state-of-the-biz-publishing-in-2014-and-beyond-part-4-the-comet-and-the-long-tail-lisa-mason-sfwapro/

State of the Biz: Publishing in 2014 and Beyond, Part 5: Authors’ Market Share Lisa Mason #SFWApro https://lisamasontheauthor.com/2014/07/02/state-of-the-biz-publishing-in-2014-and-beyond-part-5-authors-market-share-lisa-mason-sfwapro/

State of the Biz: Publishing in 2014 and Beyond, Part 6: Ebooks Versus Print Books Lisa Mason #SFWApro https://lisamasontheauthor.com/2014/07/19/state-of-the-biz-publishing-in-2014-and-beyond-part-6-ebooks-versus-print-books-lisa-mason-sfwapro

From the author of Summer Of Love, A Time Travel (a Philip K. Dick Award Finalist and San Francisco Chronicle Recommended Book) on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, and Sony. Summer of Love, A Time Travel is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

The Gilded Age, A Time Travel on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, Sony, and Smashwords. The Gilded Age, A Time Travel is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series, “Fun and enjoyable urban fantasy,” on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, Sony, and Smashwords. The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series, is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

Celestial Girl, The Omnibus Edition (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) includes all four books. On Nook, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, and Sony; Celestial Girl, The Omnibus Edition (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

Strange Ladies: 7 Stories, five-star rated, “A fantastic collection,” on Nook, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, and Sony. Strange Ladies: 7 Stories is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

My Charlotte: Patty’s Story on Barnes and Noble, US Kindle, UK Kindle, Canada Kindle, Australia Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo; My Charlotte: Patty’s Story is also on Amazon.com worldwide in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and Mexico.

Visit me at Lisa Mason’s Official Website for books, ebooks, stories, and screenplays, reviews, interviews, and blogs, adorable pet pictures, forthcoming projects, fine art and bespoke jewelry, worldwide Amazon.com links for Brazil, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, and Spain, and more!

And on Lisa Mason’s Blog, on my Facebook Author Page, on my Facebook Profile Page, on Amazon, on Goodreads, on LinkedIn, on Twitter at @lisaSmason, at Smashwords, at Apple, at Kobo, at Sony, and at Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

If you enjoy a title, please “Like” it, add five stars, write a review on the site where you bought it, Tweet it, blog it, post it,, and share the word with your family and friends.

Your participation really matters. Thank you for your readership!

Hope everyone in the USA is having an enjoyable Memorial Day, honoring our military that serves to protect our principles of freedom and democracy. The San Francisco Bay area was sunny and cool today, one of those perfect crystalline California days.

So it is with some reluctance that I write this. The subject spoils what has been an otherwise enjoyable day for me and my family. I don’t mean to spoil your day, as well, but I’ve been promising this blog for a while. Here goes.

An article, “Blockbuster,” by Kelefa Sanneh appeared in the December 2, 2013 issue of The New Yorker.

This is not exactly breaking news. I’ve got an article in my archives from 1980 (or so) called “The Blockbuster Complex.” The earlier article discusses the case of Judith Krantz, a first-time unknown author, Beverly Hills housewife, and wife of a wealthy movie producer, who wrote a Danielle Steel-style potboiler romance, Scruples. She turned in the manuscript to a big-time literary agent (whom her husband knew), and secured a million-dollar deal. A big-time publisher invested in promoting the book, of course, and it became a bestseller.

Full disclosure: I haven’t read Scruples. But I did read a succeeding Krantz novel, Mistral’s Daughter, based loosely on Pablo Picasso’s life, and I liked it.

The 1980 article bemoaned the advent of cheesy potboiler novels devoid of literary quality, about rich people and their problems, and the giant advances the big publishers were willing, even eager, to pay for them. As a young writer, I had to agree since I had no desire to write (or read) such novels.

In the decade between the 1980s and the 1990s, big publishers were willing to take a chance on young writers like me who wanted to write serious fiction—by that I mean fiction with something to say about life, society, class, gender roles, and racism. That I wrote (and write to this day) science fiction and fantasy worked well with addressing all kinds of societal and philosophical issues. And that’s not to say such fiction isn’t fun, action-packed, and sexy. It most certainly is! (Mine is, anyway.)

And in fairness to readers, some of you want thought-provoking. Some just want to have a good time. I understand.

Mind you, this is all way, way before the Internet as we know it. Before ebooks and (somewhat affordable) print-on-demand and distribution by on-line retailers.

Fast forward to 2001.

What on earth does “the Comet and the Long Tail” mean?

Sanneh’s article starts out describing the pop music business in the late 1970s. The big record producers invested millions in just one recording artist—a “star”—and ignored the “baby acts.” “The pop-music business had a golden principle. There was an enormous amount of money to be made with a hit record, and no money without one.”

Then, in 2001, record album sales, even of “big hits,” sharply declined. “Executives from television, film, and publishing wondered whether this, too, would be their fate.”

“Disappearing” as in going out of business. Jobs, careers, livelihoods lost.

Now the picture gets a little confusing. In the 2000s, small record stores, big chain bookstores, and broadly popular television programs began disappearing.

But the editor of Wired published a book with an optimistic view, The Long Tail, which celebrated the demise of the Blockbuster due to Internet distribution. Browsing an “infinite aisle,” the culture consumer could utilize “smart suggestion software” to follow his or her own tastes, no matter how obscure. Consumers were traveling down “the tail” of miscellany away from “the head of the comet,” which popular Big Media products dominated.

Fast forward to 2013.

The article Blockbuster states: “’The Avengers,’ an NFL game, or a Taylor Swift album still draws a big crowd, showering profits on the corporations that invest in and promote through the Big Media. Popular culture remains Big Business.”

Now says the Wired executive who touted the long tail: “Though the tail is very interesting and we [on the Internet] enable it, the vast majority of revenue remains in the head [of the comet].”

But is the money really still there, comparing big-selling products to those of the past? The article Blockbuster points out that when you consider the domestic box office of Avatar, considered the top-grossing film of all time, with Gone with the Wind, the latter film earned twice as much, adjusted for inflation, at a time when the U.S. population was half as numerous.

And as the author of “The Long Tail” writes: “For too long, we’ve been suffering the tyranny of lowest-common denominator fare, brain-dead summer blockbusters and manufactured pop.”

Yet the chairman of Disney remarks, “Very few entities in this world can afford to spend $200 million on a movie. That is our competitive advantage.”

No kidding.

Both views agree that the “middle has disappeared.” This has never been more true that in publishing. Yet I can think of a number of “mid-list” movies that still got made. In financial terms, “mid-level acts” are by definition mediocre, and mediocrity is what a free market is supposed to drive out.

But who determines what is quality in the culture? If you, the reader, can’t find an author’s book because Amazon’s algorithm directs you elsewhere and Random House’s publicity machine pays for PR journal pieces and reviews in respected venues, does that make the undiscovered book mediocre? Is Fifty Shades of Grey a quality book because corporations invested in it, the author herself invested in it, and readers bought it? I don’t think so.

A final bit of good news (I suppose) from the article, Blockbuster: “Cultural consumption has grown more self-conscious….consumers have grown intensely aware of the ‘commercial weight’ of their purchases. Every consumer has a vote….Many connoisseurs have come to think of themselves as patrons, eager not just to consumer culture but to support it.”

Have we the consumers got the movie and publishing executives wondering whether they will soon be out of a job? A career? A livelihood?

I hope so. The fear needs to be a little more evenly distributed.  But I’ve got a movie project at Universal Studios and am looking to get back into traditional publishing along with my independent efforts. We shall see.

So there you have it, my friends. Is the entertainment business and the popular culture truly changing thanks to the Internet and the plentiful opportunities available to independent creatives to produce and promote their books, films, music, and art? Changing how? Changing for whose benefit?

Or is it the case that the more things change, the more they remain the same?

I ask myself these questions every day as a traditionally-published author, now an independent author and publisher. I don’t have any easy answers for you.

Neither do any of the pundits cited in the article above. They don’t know how to advise creatives because no one really knows what you, the public, will do. What will grab your imagination.

But many authors like me are soldiering on, searching for new solutions and strategies. So on a more positive note, next in this Series will be:

State of the Biz: Publishing in 2014 and Beyond Part 5: Market Share Lisa Mason #SFWApro

Previous Blogs in this Series:

State of the Biz: Publishing in 2014 and Beyond, Part 1: Introduction https://lisamasontheauthor.com/2014/03/18/state-of-the-biz-publishing-in-2014-and-beyond-part-1-introduction-lisa-mason-sfwapro/

State of the Biz: Publishing in 2014 and Beyond Part 2: Who’s Reading? https://lisamasontheauthor.com/2014/04/07/state-of-the-biz-publishing-in-2014-and-beyond-part-2-whos-reading-lisa-mason-sfwapro/

State of the Biz: Publishing in 2014 and Beyond Part 3: The Shady Case of Fifty Shades https://lisamasontheauthor.com/2014/04/17/state-of-the-biz-publishing-in-2014-and-beyond-part-3-the-shady-case-of-fifty-shades-lisa-mason-sfwapro/

From the author of Summer Of Love, A Time Travel (a Philip K. Dick Award Finalist and San Francisco Chronicle Recommended Book) on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, and Sony. Summer of Love, A Time Travel is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

The Gilded Age, A Time Travel on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, Sony, and Smashwords. The Gilded Age, A Time Travel is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series, “Fun and enjoyable urban fantasy,”on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, Sony, and Smashwords. The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series, is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

Celestial Girl, The Omnibus Edition (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) includes all four books. On Nook, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, and Sony; Celestial Girl, The Omnibus Edition (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

Strange Ladies: 7 Stories, five-star rated, “A fantastic collection,” on Nook, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, and Sony. Strange Ladies: 7 Stories is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

My Charlotte: Patty’s Story on Barnes and Noble, US Kindle, UK Kindle, Canada Kindle, Australia Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo; My Charlotte: Patty’s Story is also on Amazon.com worldwide in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and Mexico.

Visit me at Lisa Mason’s Official Website for books, ebooks, stories, and screenplays, reviews, interviews, and blogs, adorable pet pictures, forthcoming projects, fine art and bespoke jewelry, worldwide Amazon.com links for Brazil, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, and Spain, and more!

And on Lisa Mason’s Blog, on my Facebook Author Page, on my Facebook Profile Page, on Amazon, on Goodreads, on LinkedIn, on Twitter at @lisaSmason, at Smashwords, at Apple, at Kobo, at Sony, and at Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

If you enjoy a title, please “Like” it, add five stars, write a review on the site where you bought it, Tweet it, blog it, post it,, and share the word with your family and friends.

Your participation really matters.

Thank you for your readership!