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    Bridge Ladies Sometimes I think a meteor could strike the earth and wipe out mankind with the exception of my mother’s Bridge club — Roz, Bea, Bette, Rhoda, and Jackie — five Jewish octogenarians who continue to gather for lunch and Bridge on Mondays as they have for over fifty years. When I set out to learn about the women behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, and most of all the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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I Still Don’t Know WHat I Was Waiting For

MEMO TO SELF: Take head out of sand. Here’s an article from today’s Galley Cat about self-published authors getting on The List. I gotta say, even though it puts me out of a job, I really admire people who get their work out there. I know I’ve asked before if you feel self-publishing is an option. Most people say as a last resort. When I’ve asked how many read on devices, very few say they do. From this I glean that this group is a bunch of beautiful papyrus loving luddites. We like to hold books, feel paper and sniff the glue.
Is tomorrow’s bestseller languishing your computer?

Self-Published Authors Make NY Times Best Sellers List

By Dianna Dilworth on August 2, 2012 2:42 PM

Four Smashwords authors made The New York Times Best Sellers list for eBook fiction this week. Many of these authors have also topped our Self-Published Bestsellers List.

AppNewser has more: “Author Colleen Hoover‘s book Slammed is No. 8 on the list and her title Point of Retreat hit No. 18). Author R.L. Mathewson‘s book Playing for Keeps ranked at No. 16 on the list and author Lyla Sinclair‘s book Training Tessa hit the No. 17 position and Bella Andre had three titles on the list If You Were Mine at No. 22, Can’t Help Falling in Love at No. 23, and I Only Have Eyes for You at No. 24.”

Smashwords CEO Mark Coker encouraged writers to consider his platform when he blogged about the news: “maybe tomorrow’s bestseller is languishing on an undiscovered writer’s computer, still waiting for a publisher to give it a chance. Maybe that writer will now realize they don’t need the blessing of a publisher to become a published author, or to reach readers. Maybe they’ll realize that that the tools to publish and distribute a book are available at no cost, and the knowledge to professionally publish is available for the taking. It just takes effort.”

To help GalleyCat readers discover self-published authors, we have compiled weekly lists of the top eBooks in three major marketplaces for self-published digital books: Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.

43 Responses

  1. Listen, I still can’t figure out how to sync my various Google profiles or whatever they’re called. I have a keyboard with a jumping cursor. Nothing puts me in a shittier mood than when my technology goes on the fritz–which it seems to do with increasing frequency. It is for this reason that I will never self-publish. I’m wired like a Victorian–corsets and all. I’d be happiest if some Cro-Magnon pub house signed me to chisel out a novel on a hunk of basalt, and the things were distributed via pony express. Or chariot.

  2. I received a “New Post” from your site that contained only a photo of some Nike Sneakers (Cheshire Cat)… was this spam? Were you hacked? (Was I?) It came before the above post… just trying to figure out what it was… thanks.

    • I got that too. Linked to comments and got a “Sorry, you’ve linked to something that doesn’t exist”. Yeah, well, I could tell you stories, pal.

  3. what if e-pubbing isn’t the “last” resort but the first choice?

    having jumped through all those hoops (residencies, legacy agency, legacy contract) & left with the, “Oh, so that’s it?” feeling.

    yes, sadly, all this crap probably will put you out of a job. but then, how many contracts have you seen that end up holding artists hostage to dreadful terms, the fine print being an intention that has nothing to do with ever intending to pay a living wage (gotta fund those power lunches!) Not that this is self-pitying (your post) but it’s hard to feel for those of you who realize – WOW! – the ship is listing, and that glacier didn’t really come out of nowhere but cover your ears, shutting your eyes tight, and chanting OMGOMGOMG won’t make it go away .. oops, now you’re scrambling for a deck chair because all those artists have figured out / are figuring out that the distribution model the whole apparatus was based on is crumbling, if not crumbled and it’s really not worth dealing with the mind f*cks, and other craptastic passive aggressive behavior of a self-annointed elite who seem not to have traveled much beyond the N/E… oh, woe, woe is the book “industry” that’s become a self-perpetuating something machine, something not much to do with authors as the center.

    so um, what if e-pubbing isn’t the “last” resort but the first choice?

    sure, there are a handful of literary “stars,” mostly tall good-looking white boy-men (not to worry, Jonathan Leher is young; he won’t end up in the office suite selling Reiki sessions next to Jaysin Blair ‘s personal coaching suite in that office park) who’s books are of negligible quality (or, Junot Diaz who has “problems” with white people but – funny how that works – hasn’t returned his pulitzer for a refund), a NY Times book section that doesn’t move the needle or much of anything, a celeb saturated / obsessed culture & so much more blather, who cares, who cares, who cares. people want to read stories, the “big” six cannot sustain itself, and WTF ever happened to Joni Evans’ BLOND MULLET and TAN FACE?

    again, I ask, what if e-pubbing isn’t the “last” resort but the first choice?

    • I think you misread Ms. Lerner’s post. I don’t find in her words the “self-pitying” you seem to take delight in and I don’t think she is “scrambling for a deck chair.” There is no question that E-publishing is here. It is so simple any idiot can do it–here is your mirror. Why campaign against the old guard? You have found your route to fame. Go publish! No sense hanging around here.

      • @J.D., I was mindful that not to criticize B.L. … & intended “you” as a more general description. She – B.L. – does, in fact, put forth the likelihood that all this will crater her profession / industry. As far as a “route to fame”? It’s an anon post, so I have nothing to gain from this, except contributing to the thread. Maybe, like you, I was an English major, read, believed in books, thought there were revolutions of mind, body and soul within those pages. To then experience the “industry,” a reality that has nothing to do with those possibilities (albeit juvenile, but still …) makes me less than sympathetic to its self-inflicted collapse. IDK if you’ve dealt with the trifecta of agent / editor / publicist, but in my experience, they were neither as bright nor as hardworking as their self-regard presumes. Apologies if that reads, to you, like a troll, but I wrote it out of genuine frustration and, no small bit of sadness.

    • The difference between self-published writers and “legacy”-published authors is the difference between “who’s” and “whose”.

      • Your book just came in the mail for my August reading binge. It’s delightful!! I love it! I’m awed by artists who write. How do you do all that? I can’t wait to settle-in with my beach chair, wine and some Twinkies and lose myself. Congratulations!

      • That is priceless! lmao

      • @Vivian re: who’s/whose tru that, but this is a blog, not legacy publishing.

    • All Best, I think you make valid and reasonable points about this changing world, though you might be more persuasive if you whispered, rather than shouted.

      I suppose it depends on your goals. If, more than anything else, you want to get your words out there, then e-publishing has to be a first choice. It appeals to some writers, and to some readers.

      If you want to be a published book author, you can self publish or POD, and you can do it with any degree of editing and promotion you choose.
      In both cases, you are the creator, the boss, and the customer of those who help you get to market. In both cases, you can make money, or not. In both cases, you might be picked up by a traditional publisher, or not.

      If your goal is to do the work, find an agent, or find a publisher who doesn’t require an agent, and then let editors do their work, there’s only one path. If you want others to invest their time, talent, and money in your work, I guess you’re stuck with the same thorny path.

      E-publishing is a form of instant, low risk gratification, and you’re free to run with any images that conjures. Self publishing and POD require that you risk some money. Those approaches avoid the risk of rejection or mistreatment by agents, editors, or publishers.

      So, what do you want- fast or slow, a jog through the park, or a slog up a steep, foggy mountain? It’s on you, and even making the choice is hard.

      A helmet is recommended.

      • @Frank, like legacy publishing (by definition, Harlequin being as Legacy as Random House), there are different ways of approaching the beast. “Self-gratification” is hardly the scenario that I was putting forth. It’s not “low-risk,” as you assert: you (the author) are fronting the capital for a cover (designer), e-book conversion, editing, and – oh, yeah – the time to write, & edit a work that goes out into the world. The “risk” you reference – of being approved by the publishing apparatus – is no longer worth the investment it asks of the author because the value (distribution, marketing) has either being removed, or deteriorated to the point of inconsequentiality.

        Legacy publishing – and I include all the players (agent / publisher / editor / publicist) – take for granted the author’s investment of time / life in that process. It’s a pass / fail system that lacks nuance and, in my experience, isn’t adaptable to authors (that its already enrolled in its apparatus), and consequently will continue in its death spiral.

        Your “slow jog” is a nice idea, but (IMHO) it has little to do with how people’s reading experience is transformed by devices, etc. Your romanticization of a world of paper is not dissimilar to the New Orleans of Tennessee Williams’, long gone by the time he wrote about it. In the spirit of congeniality, I won’t name names, but how many literary “geniuses” have been elevated by the publishing industry only to end up also rans of expectations? More than I can count.

      • @All Best: in certain corners of Orleans Parish, NOLA has never really changed, we just create a little space for newcomers until they become naturalized citizens and embrace the madness.

    • You might be surprised at how helpful editors can be.

    • Love this!! Don’t read troll here at all. Just frustration and excitement over being in control for a change. I’ll be rooting for you. And on your heels.

  4. Look…in one of your New York minutes, I would e-publish, self-publish, shout from the fucking rooftops and town-crier my novel until the bovines come home because I know…I know God-dammit, it’s good, (sand in ears with Betsy). I would figure out the tech-bullshit and do it myself except for one thing, the edit. I will not, cannot, shoot myself in the foot because of typos and stupid mistakes. I can’t afford a fucking editor. (Do editors fuck)?

    So what do I do? I’ve Stockett-queried and each time a rejection comes back, had one this morning, it chips, chips, chips away at my resolve; maybe the book isn’t good enough or maybe it’s the query, (you guys read it you know it sucks), or maybe it’s the first five pages or maybe, or maybe…fuck this I’m having another cup of coffee.

    Or maybe I should stick with what I know I’m good at and maybe that ain’t fiction.
    Where’s my cow, I’m out of milk.

    • Yeah, what JD said.
      Borrowed milk, took shower, not so desperate. Why do I do that?
      I posted my latest column in case anyone is interested.

      • Here’s to clunkers, Wry. Your blog thinks I’m a bot, which I am, so it won’t let me post comments there.

      • Hey Frank, thanks for stopping by.
        What’s really funny about that piece is that after it came out my husband’s friends and business buddies have been ragging on him to buy me a new car. Who knows maybe it will work.
        So many people have told him how much they like my column I’m thinking he’s either proud or pissed off.
        He’s a good sport but damn, I need wheels.

  5. My plan is to take my novels down the traditional road, for now. If that blows, then yes, I will self publish – a gorgeous book, with a arty B & W cover & author photo, quotes and dedication, a page of stellar acknowledgments, a prologue & epilogue and all the forbidden stuff. I’ll hire help, too. I’m already saving money for this task, which illustrates how Hope, and my belief in the current system, is dwindling. Oh well.

    It gives me comfort to know that, if I survive to old age, I will have real books on my shelf at the end. I’ll be an tiny, elegant old lady selling her books out of a vintage suitcase in the Paris metro. Or where ever…

  6. Dearest Betsy and fellow Betsyites – I finished my masterpiece six years ago, secured a lovely and talented agent with a great track record, heard all the right things and then I waited. And waited. In the meantime my agent sold more books from other clients, but mine ever took. Maybe it’s me, maybe it’s them. Either way it hasn’t happened yet. Getting an agent is one thing, getting picked up by a publisher is another.

    I’ve written my second masterpiece and my lovely agent is slogging that as we speak. Perhaps it will sell. Perhaps it won’t. The publishing industry continues its Darwinian struggle and it will go where it goes. I won’t get into the debate of ebooks vs treebooks, there’s enough written on that. It really depends on you and what your goals are. Fame ? Riches ? Validation ? Self-satisfaction ?

    For me, it’s all the above. Mostly, I just hated having my first masterpiece sit in some dusty corner of my hard-drive another minute. So I e-published it a few weeks ago. I hesitated and debated it for months and months, but I took the plunge. I still love the ideal of being legacy published, but things are changing rapidly it’s not really what it used to be. I’m having a blast controlling my own destiny for a change and letting the readers decide, not the publishers. I’ll learn what works and what doesn’t. It’s not easy, but it feels alot better than waiting for someone else to decide my fate. I’m a control freak in my writing, why not apply that to my publishing too ?

  7. “Is tomorrow’s bestseller languishing [on] your computer?”

    Yes. I finished it just last night. It’s hot. Hot, I tell you. It sizzles. It snaps and shines brightly in the dark. Glows brighter than a candle in the sun. You can practically see the glittering spondulicks pouring from its every paragraph. I shall post it to the web–somewhere on the web–Facebook, perchance, where all shall be face to face with its illuminating bookiness–or Twitter, perhaps, where its sweet music shall chirp forth in easy to manage fragments of powerful prose pure in their purity–or MySpace, mayhap–does MySpace still exist? I’ve never had space there, neither mine nor anyone else’s–

    Yea, verily, I say, I shall post my book, making use of the latest digital technology, and all shall see it and shall bow down and gush forth in wonderment and when fifty million–no! five hundred million! a billion!–when a billion copies have been downloaded at the decidedly competitive and scandalously enticing price of $0.69 each, I shall buy all the publishing houses in the English-speaking world, and I shall purchase also the New York Times–

    And then we’ll see. Oh, we shall see, my dears, my darlings, my loves. The world shall be flooded with books. Everyone will write one–everyone! Seven billion different brand-new titles released every year–every season! every month!–seven billion! Everyone a writer and no one a reader, it will be the bravest of bravura new worlds, and all who were there when it happened will in their old age say, Ah, to have been there when it happened was to have been where it almost certainly was happening as it happened.

  8. Note to self: leave head in sand until book is finished.

    When I worry about the business part I can’t focus on the writing part, and by the time I finish this damned thing who knows. Betsy will probably have given up agenting, have a second home in Hollywood and be working on her 4th screenplay.

  9. At times I think I’ve written a future best seller and other times I think it’s shit. So what do i know? And that’s exactly why we need agents and editors.

  10. Several people in my writers’ group self-publish; they all have high-earning spouses to float that enterprise inspite of the ill-crafted plots, the cringe-worthy titles and the questionable attributes of their heroines. Two of these authors are hawking their books via craft fairs. I take some comfort in knowing that is their business model as I continue my query-quest.

    Call me silly, but I want to believe that talent plays an important role in any biz. Some people have a talent for writing AND self-promotion. Others are blessed only with one trait but know how to compensate. Throw in a bit of luck and perhaps that is the real magic formula – whether it involves an agent or not.

    Presently, it appears my talent is keeping potentially goodsellers (I lack the nerve to bestow “best” on them) in my computer. I’m working on that. Stay tuned.

    (PS: Happy Birthday to Tony Bennett who, at 86, lives a truly creative life.)

  11. Talent is of course a good if not necessary component in producing a best-seller. But persistence, especially in self-pub, is very necessary and I am unable to imagine at this moment how much is enough.

    I have also heard (read a blog) that A Hocking is getting killed in print. E=pub seems very much about niche markets, and, in purchasing, I am all over the map genre-wise.

    It seems, besides owning and being published on a Kindle, I am leaning toward paper. Maybe it is a pattern, maybe just my current choices.

    I also feel Smashwords has some image problems, but their service is wonderful and Mark Coker seems a very dynamic and directed person

    Being in print, except for Harlequin, where they rip off covers and throw your book in the garbage, would be nice just to be free of the influence of the internet trolls. They haven’t noticed me yet, but they are very scary and I definitely feel I am walking across the bridge they are lurking under. .

  12. I think the agent’s role is about to change dramatically. They will become editors, first, and then help writers choose among their many options.

    I love that we’re (writers, editors, agents) dancing to some hot, fast music, because I love to dance. A whole lot better than 10 years ago when I practically had a nervous breakdown as I waited, and waited, and waited….sometimes the wait was worth it. Sometimes not. I just like that I can turn on the music, roll up the rugs, and dance like a crazy woman.

    Did I say I love to dance? You bet.

  13. Fascinating. Today I received a rejection letter from an agent I sent my manuscript to eight months ago. She didn’t want to let the book go she said. Not from a talented writer–her words. But she just didn’t see how she could market the book to publishers and she doesn’t know her way around the independents. So, good luck.

    Here’s the sad part, not just for me, but for many other writers and many, many readers. My book is not experimental fiction. And it is not a bestseller. It is a bread and butter book, character driven and dark and moving. Not sentimental. It’s not genre and it’s not an outline for a movie. It is not a feel good corporate product.

    You tell me, Betsy. Should I let it languish on my computer? Is that even the right question? You tell me.

  14. I look forward to the day when computers can extract bestsellers from the heads of authors.

    Presto chango here’s your e-section, rather like a c-section, and up the charts it goes!

  15. Adore you, Betsy, but I’m afraid the writing IS on the wall. I was in the record business for many years, I know how this story ends. Happy as hell you’re moving further and further into your screenwriting.

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