Monday, June 20, 2011

Pinocchio Syndrome

I’ve been around e-publishing for a few years now either learning the craft, soaking it all up like a sponge, writing or editing, and usually all three. I’ve seen authors come and go. Seen genres suddenly become bestsellers while others lose their appeal just to rise again. I’ve seen author meltdowns and publisher meltdowns alike. And I’ve been involved in publisher shutdowns.

In other words, I’m not green anymore. I lost my publishing cherry long ago. And I’ve decided to get a few things off my chest today.

When I first decided to write, I sat down at my computer and researched for a while before I jumped in. I discovered erotic romance and decided that was the best way for me to go. E-publishing was something I’d never heard of but it just felt right. I could see a future in publishing online. I was right. LOL

But it’s like my daddy was always fond of saying: “No matter where ya go, there’s always an asshole there to greet ya!” And Daddy was so damn right!

One of the first issues I encountered in Romancelandia was the incredible amount of prejudice against erotic romance authors. Just a few years ago it was rampant. It’s still there, but it’s one of those things that is less talked about now. Have you ever been chatting with an author on a group or forum, just having a conversation about romance writing in general, and then that author finds out you write erotic romance? Happened to me a few times. It was as if I no longer existed. Thanks to the antiquated ideas of RWA—yep, I blame RWA mostly—erotic romance authors were not REAL authors. Why RWA? Well, until erotic romance put e-publishing on the map and showed the publishing world a different way of doing things—a different way of making money—RWA was the DO ALL-KNOW ALL-END OF ALL where romance writing was concerned. You needed the RWA stamp of approval to be a REAL AUTHOR.

Some authors still want that. And that’s fine. Everyone must follow their own career path. But don’t…hear me…don’t look down on others who have chosen a different path. Just sayin’. 

Another thing that I’ve run into along the way has been the idea that e-books aren’t real, and therefore the author isn’t a REAL AUTHOR. Can you hear me groaning? I just poured a shot of whiskey in my coffee. Yeah, I did. Hemmingway did it. So can I. Ooops! He was a REAL AUTHOR. Hmmm…well, maybe the whiskey will make me a REAL AUTHOR, too! LOL At least I’ll feel better—as long as I don’t do more than a couple of shots, that is. LOL Yeah, it’s morning, but it’s MONDAY morning. Besides I didn’t sleep well last night. And if it makes you feel any better, I just added a little whipped cream to the top. Now it’s a breakfast drink! Yeah, that’s it!

Anyway…back to my rant. So I’ve had two strikes against me since the beginning. I write sexy stuff and I’m e-published only. Now hear this: I am happy in e-publishing. I do not spend my time salivating over the BIG SIX nor do I spend my time querying agents. And btw, that whole agent thing is another issue. There are authors who believe you’ve got to have one or you’re not a REAL AUTHOR. And if you want to be pubbed with the BIG SIX, I guess you do need one because they won’t look at your manuscript unless you do. At least for now. I figure agents are going to have to go through a little reinvention in the not so distant future in order to hang on to their businesses. With no need for an agent in e-publishing and the way self-publishing seems to be taking off, authors aren’t quite as inclined to give someone fifteen percent to open the same doors they can open all on their own. However, I do think that if you’re with the BIG SIX or aiming for them and don’t have an agent that you need one to handle negotiations and contracts—and of course, to get you in the door. Never do anything you aren’t qualified to do.

So what’s next? Glad you asked. LOL If you don’t have books out in print, you’re not a REAL AUTHOR. Okkkkaaaaayyyyyy…now this is when I bring out the whips and chains. And I’m not bringing them out for pleasurable purposes either. What a crock of… Does anyone here really believe that an author’s words are less enjoyable because a reader is not holding the book in their hand? Sure I like print books. But I don’t think a print book is better in any way just because it’s something I can hold. And now that all of the big authors are out in e books and we have all of these amazing e readers…wtf? Yet I’ll still see an author somewhere posting about their book finally being in print as if they have suddenly been made a REAL AUTHOR. Pinocchio Syndrome. All Pinocchio ever needed to be real was love and all an author needs to be real is a love of writing. Get it???? So anyone out there who thinks less of their author abilities because you’re not in print—well, STOP IT! Don’t buy into that. It’s NOT true.

And here’s another one that really burns my butter. You’re not a REAL AUTHOR unless you write longer works. HUH? My hair is officially singed from that one. Regina touched on that last week in her post entitled Is a novella a REAL Book? You bet it is and you can find that post here:  My friend Emmy Ellis, aka Natalie Dae and Sarah Masters, posted about this on Facebook a few days ago, too.

Novella writing isn’t for everyone. And I doubt most of us even give it a thought. But lots of authors talk about how writing shorter works just isn’t the same as writing a full-blown novel. Oh PUHLEEEZE! I write longer works AND shorter works. Writing short is a helluva lot harder than long. To write something short that is completely satisfying, an author has to pack a big punch with every word, sentence. The writing must be tight but at the same time leave NO stone unturned. I dare say that writing short takes a lot more skill than writing long. And I can say that because I do both. I read novellas, short stories, and novels. I’m afraid that a lot of novels are padded with unnecessary stuff. Yeah, they are. Have you ever found yourself reading a novel and skimming or paging ahead? I do that a lot. Another thing is that novellas and shorts are becoming increasingly popular. Busy lifestyles require a satisfying read that won’t steal an entire afternoon or evening. Novellas and short stories are here to stay. So for those of you who think you aren’t a REAL AUTHOR because you haven’t written an 80K novel yet???? STOP THAT!

Now for a little mood lightening. LOL Just got word last night that my contemporary novel, Strip Down, will release from Ellora’s Cave on July 8. Check out the coming soon page and read the blurb and excerpt. Trust me…this one is hot hot hot!

Once again I have no author book trailer to showcase. No one is sending me any. Hmmm…free promo????? I don’t charge. LOL Would love to see a few come my way. Just send to


Kate Richards said...

I always love your blogs! It's a crazy time in a crazy writing world isn't it? Some days it's great, others not so great, but I wouldn't trade it
And can't wait to read Strip Down, congrats on your release!

Harlie Williams said...

God, I love your Monday blogs and this one is an awesome blog. I'm not an author and I agree with everything that you point out. I read both print and ebook, some pubs, big NY pubs, ebook pubs. I'm not a book snob when it comes to my reading. It just burns me up to see that this kind of prejudice still goes on.

I'm waiting for Strip Down and I can't wait for it.

Harlie Williams said...

BTW, I wrote an article on Regina.

Dragon Lady said...

Not hold an ebook? Yeah, you still have to hold the damned reader, donchya? Sheesh!

I read print, I read ebooks. I read voraciously! Doesn't matter the format. It is a tells a entertains. To me, that is all that matters. I could give a rats ass if it is print or not! Sometimes, I prefer the ebook! It means I can read it more often and not have the pages bend or fray or stain. ;) Why do you think I have "repeat" books? I loved the print so much, I got it in ebook. My daughter has loved that! She ends up with the print ones.

Tess MacKall said...

Definitely getting crazy in the world of publishing, Kate. Growing pains for sure.

I'll definitely want to know what you think of Strip Down!

Tess MacKall said...

Thanks, Harlie Reader. That's a good way to say it. "I'm not a book snob..."

And that's what it's all about being snobbish. Or in some cases buying into the wrong rhetoric. Listening to the wrong sources.

I'm chomping at the bits to know what you think of Strip Down, girlie!

Tess MacKall said...

Ohhh...will have to check out the article you wrote on Reg for sure. I'll look it up!

Tess MacKall said...

LOL Dragon Lady. You got it. You still gotta hold it. Unless it's an audio book. And that's a whole different kind of animal.

I honestly think I prefer e books over print primarily because of the ease with which you can buy them right from home and because you can store them so easily. And you're wear and tear on them.

Cool that your daughter is getting the print. Soon she'll be hankering for the e books too! lol

anny cook said...

Excellent post. And yeah, the same old crap keeps coming up...

Fabian Black said...

I recently told someone I wrote and sold ebooks and they all but patted me on the head and said, never mind, maybe one day you'll write something good enough to be accepted by a 'real' publisher.

Great blog post, loved reading it. :)


C. Zampa said...

Oh, you KNOW where I stand on all these MISconceptions!

I recently read a post from a fellow author who said, without blinking, that until their NOVEL had been published, their shorts and novellas were NOT celebration-worthy. What arrogance.

It takes as much--sometimes more, I think--to write a short story or a novella. To be able to tell a story in less words, I thin, is a HUGE accomplishment, a huge talent.

All I know is that my royalty checks for my NON-real novella are REAL.

As far as erotica? I face a double-edged sword on THAT front. I also write m/m! So my books are REALLY not real! LOL.

It's arrogance. Talent is talent, no matter what form or length. Period.


Tess MacKall said...

It's a mindset we're having to fight against, Anny. But the tide is changing.

Tess MacKall said...

Yep, Fabian...made you feel like the unwanted stepchild, didn't it? What's up with that kind of thinking? Ridiculous. hair is on fire again. LOL

Tess MacKall said...

All I know is that my royalty checks for my NON-real novella are REAL.

LOL Carol! Laugh all the way to the bank with your M/M erotic romance novella! That's what I say!

Really burns my butter. Why are people so damn judgmental?

Jen B. said...

Changing the mindset of people who have always been told that publishing a great hardcover novel through one of the bug 6 publishers and paying your agent big bucks is the end all be all will take lots of time and $$ evidence. The publishing world is going to have to have a major shakeup soon because bookstores and libraries are closing their doors. And, ebooks are major money makers. Please, stop burning your butter over it. Take all of this amazing energy and write the next great ebook and prove to everyone how right you are!

Cassie Exline said...

Sing it, sister! Have no idea why we can't accept each other no matter what we write. I started out in erotica, well there's something you can't tell all of your real life friends. Found out, I shouldn't have told anyone. Of course, writing romantic mystery/suspense is my passion. Try getting accepted with some of those online mystery groups, especially if they find out about my erotic side. This one group I want to join, first I must make $100 in mystery sales with proof, ebooks don't count. Snobs! That's my reason I'd like to see my book in print, so I could smack one of them with it. Probably would never, but it sure makes me smile. :)

Cassie Exline said...

Ooops forgot to mention, congrats on the new release. Cover is hawt.

Tess MacKall said...

Good advice, Jen. Just stop sweatin' it and write! Will do! lol

Tess MacKall said...

When you get one of those mystery books in print and make the hundred bucks, take a pic of smacking them over the head. I want to see that for sure.

Such SNOBS! And I say let's take out the "N"!

Thanks for the cover compliment, Cassie! I love that cover for sure for sure for sure! Woot!

Anonymous said...

Tell us how you really feel!! LOL! A story is a story is a story. Doesn't matter how many pages, if it's paper or electronic, and it sure as shit doesn't matter if it contains sexy and certain choice anatomy words. Frankly, if it doesn't have them, I'm not that interested!

An author is a person who writes words that people read. Period. That people are so judgmental and that ignorant kills me. Makes me want to kick their bums with my stilettos! I am an aspiring author. And what do I aspire to do? Publish an ebook! That is my dream. I say, "For shame on you!" to anyone who doesn't respect a fellow writer and their accomplishments. It's sad for those writing snobs that need that kind of validation to make feel successful. Tsk tsk!!


Tess MacKall said...

Next time I promise NOT to hold back, Elece! lol

From the time I got started in this business I've heard this crap about e books and erotic romance. It's time for people to just get a grip and realize we're here to stay.

And that we are talented authors with amazing voices!!!!! Can't wait to see your first published work, hon!

Marie Rose Dufour said...

It's a horrible injustice that e-books and authors are not taken as seriously as print, especially since e-books are now outselling print on sites such as Amazon. Can't wait for Strip Down.

Tess MacKall said...

Definitely, Marie. It seems that the industry still dismisses us yet they are working hard to get in on it.

Erotic romance? I think there will always be prejudice there. That's based on people being narrow-minded in general.

Can't wait for you to read Strip Down!

Fiona McGier said...

I think a large part of the prejudice is because by and large, WOMEN write erotic romance for OTHER WOMEN to read. So by nature it gets devalued. Men write books with sex scenes, usually focused only on what the man is feeling...and they are praised as "ground-breaking literary magic", or other such crap. But the reviews will focus on WHAT ELSE is going on in the story, or the writer's style. If women write the book, it's as if a different pair of eyes are now used to read it, and only the fact that women write/read it is important, and no one can get past the fact that there is sex in it, to judge any other part of it..

It's like assuming that because someone is gay, that sex sums up that person, as if that's all they exist for. When in reality they are as complex and complicated as everyone else, and sex can be a big part or just a side-note in their lives.

Great post and thanks for doing the ranting so I don't have to! LOL.

Tess MacKall said...

But Fiona, the vast majority of writers and readers in romance land are women. And it's those fellow writers who are making these statements. Not men. BTW, I've never heard a reader comment that ebook authors are less worthy than print authors. Nor have I ever heard a reader say that erotic romance isn't a legitimate genre.

Now I'm aware that women aren't always the most supportive of each other. And I'm equally aware that publishing is a dog-eat-dog kind of business as well. But basically what we have here is a case of women trashing other women.

Of course, there are industry insiders in the print world-- agents, publishers, editors, etc. who are men and certainly take jabs at us. But ninety-nine percent of the time it's our fellow female romance authors. So what's up with that? Why?

Hales said...

I love your blogs. Yeah people say the same thing to me and here when family or friends ask what about print? I say what about six percent is pleasing to you. Are you going to give me 94 percent of your money? I'll let you keep six. And they look at me and wait for the ball to drop and I say... I'll take 23-45 percent of my hard earned wordage and keep that.

They say well I don't read on line and I say so read on your I phone :) Oh you can read on those and I say yep.

No one's ever said I'm not a 'quote' real author and I'm glad because since I signed my first contract I considered myself part of the industry. I think it'd be great to go to print just because but I'm not dying to. I'd like to have something to sign besides promo cards for fans :) But with such a low percentage ratio I'd rather stay digital. Seems better business Savvy ya know.

books4me said...

Yeah, I love paperback books but ebooks take up so much less room! As I get older (sigh, I just added reading glasses), I love that I can make the font larger on ebooks! As for erotica...geeez, its been around for ages but it was called romance! Pshaw...y'all just keep doing what you're doing! You rock!

Shoshanna Evers said...

Great post! I've been a huge fan of reading erotic romance ebooks long before I ever decided to try my hand at writing for Ellora's Cave. Since I was writing what I loved to read, that alone made me feel like a "real author".

But I definitely know people who ask me when I'm going to have a "real book" out, LOL. So I wrote a long book and got an agent. Even if it never sells, I know I'm still a "real author" because I have "real readers" (who I love and am eternally grateful for, btw) :)

Tess MacKall said...

Thank you, Hales!

You make a very very good point on the issue of royalties. No doubt about it royalties are much better within the e book industry than print.

Not to mention the infinite shelf life of an e book. What's the shelf life of a print book? Three months? Yeah, definitely a better move to align yourself with e books! Woot!

Tess MacKall said...

Oh...and one more thing, Hales. Not only are you and me and all of us here real authors, we're real smart authors! LOL

Tess MacKall said...

LOL Bearaboo! Hell yes...we'll just keep on doing what we do and lovin' every second of it! Thanks!!!!

Lily Harlem said...

I thoroughly enjoyed this post, Tess, very insightful, and all the comments are just as interesting to read - all I can say is keep writing, I adore your sexy author voice, and I can't wait for July 8th!!

Lily x

Tess MacKall said...

Ahhhh Shoshanna...grrrrr...that old "real book" question. My hair is on fire again! lol

Long, short, agent, no agent, e book,'s all the same...authors entertaining readers. And our fellow authors need to get with the program and show us some respect!

Tess MacKall said...

Woot! Lily...How's it going, girlie? So glad you stopped by. Thanks so much for the good wishes!

Emmy Ellis said...

I agree 100%. Bloody snobs.

What's that we say about wee? I shan't say it here, bit offensive. But you know what I mean.


Tess MacKall said...

Definitely know what you mean, EM. And just ready for people to get a damn clue!

Janice Seagraves said...

Hi Tess,

My first book is an ebook. I felt like a writer when I signed my contract and then worked on edits.

My mom asked if it'll even be in print, I told her I had no idea but it was still a real book.


P. Robinson said...

I just love you to death, Tess! First off, I have to say I'm guilty of a few of these myself. The print thing- yep, been there done that. I remember the first time one of my short stories ended up in print (within an anthology) my family 'looked' at that differently than me writing ebooks.
To this day I don't bother telling them about new releases because their first words are, "Is it only available on the computer?" Oyyy!
Next, let me address the shorter work issue. I am the short queen. I've grabbed the title with both hands and haven't let go. To date I haven't written anything more than 30K words and most of my stories are less than 10K. I've finally figured out that it isn't that I can't do it- I just don't have time!
Now, eventually I am sure I will delve into longer works, like maybe when I'm retired! But for now I have a great following for my series books and anthology shorts as well. I noticed you talked about how readers are buying shorts because they don't have as much time to read and that is so right. In Japan they routinely get a chunk of a story every week sent to their cell phone so they can keep up but don't have to read a lot at once. I see us going to that type of model here more regularly as the phones get more user friendly.
In conclusion, because it seems I wrote a short here! haha I'm throwing these apprehensions away and writing what I want, when I want and how I want- because I CAN.

Nichelle Gregory said...

Great blog post, Tess, totally on point! I'm glad you said that about shorter works too! It's so true. A short story or novella has got to deliver the goods...every line does count!

There's gotta be a cure for "Pinocchio Syndrome." ;-)

Congrats on your upcoming release with Ellora's Cave!

Tess MacKall said...

You know, Janice, family members mean well. And I know that. But there are so many times when I want them to sit down in my chair and do what I do. Only then will they understand how much work goes into what we do and exactly what e books are all about.

Tess MacKall said...

Lol Love ya right back, Kissa! We've known each other since the beginning!

I think when you and I first started out that everyone thought that you had to be in print. That only then were we legitimized somehow. Real authors.

And I suppose there is some truth to that based on how e books were/are perceived by the masses. But as we all know, that's changing.

Short story queen, huh? Well, I have shorts, novellas, and longer works. But I've never even given a thought to believing for one second that someone who writes novellas and shorts only isn't legitimate. Makes no sense. I know how hard it is to slave over those short works.

I've read that about the chunks of stories. I, too, think that it is an option will be seeing in the not so distant future.

Tess MacKall said...

Thanks for the congrats, Nichelle. So glad you stopped by. I think the only cure for Pinocchio Syndrome is going to be time. The ebook industry and its authors are still "proving" themselves. But I personally think that there are those that will always think less of us. They just won't be vocal about it because they will be in the minority for sure.

And you are so right. Those shorts have to DELIVER! No messing around with a short. You've got to pack it will everything and do it in a whole lot less word count. But like I said, people want shorter works. Variety is, after all, the spice of life!!!

Kate Richards said...

I do not know this man's work at all, but he's sold a million kindle books in I think a year

Mia Watts said...

First, I love your cover. So hot!

Second. I think I love you.