Tag Archives: change

Amazon Bashing. Why people?

Okay, I have been seeing the link for the article “Books After Amazon” by Onnesha Roychoudhuri on the Boston Review site. It took me a couple of days to build up the curiosity to read yet another negative article about Amazon and Kindle. I was not disappointed.

As has become the norm, the articles goes on to quote numerous unhappy publishers, offer support for failing independent bookstores, and a wee bit of bashing on chain stores. Anyone who has read any of my previous posts on Amazon knows that I support them wholeheartedly. They also know why, which leads us to Indy bookstores. I love Indy bookstores, I used to own one (I know the battles they fight), but these small stores are not enough to keep a small publisher in business, nor do most of them even care enough about us to be respectful when we approach them. I have also been pretty clear in my opinion that chain stores are most inadequate in their customer service (as is the case with many Indy bookstores.)  What does that leave us? Amazon.com

After reading the article at the Boston Review, I tried to post my comments. I thought it odd that there were no previous comments, but I had no problem being the first. But  my question was soon answered. The text box welcomed you to offer your comments, but the faulty Submit button robbed you of however many minutes in your life it took you to write your thoughts. So below, I have posted what I wanted to say at the Boston Review site.

It always amazes me to read these articles quoting publishers. How are those publishers chosen? Why don’t these articles ever talk to publishers who are happy with their relationships with Amazon. Amazon has saved my business. When Indy stores refused to carry our books or treat our authors with any respect, Amazon was there for us. We don’t complain about the discounts. We don’t participate in their co-op things, and yet we have never been harassed or threatened. Just what does a publisher have to do to be noticed. 10 years in this business and not one single organization has ever asked our opinion on anything. Funny…only the unhappy ones get the press.

Karen Syed
Echelon Press

I would like to offer you a challenge. I have a book in print and in eBook format. I challenge you to go to your local bookstore and buy a copy. DARK SHINES MY L OVE by Alexis Hart. If you are able to find it on the shelf and purchase it at that time (meaning it was on a shelf in any store), I will send you ANY eBook in our (Echelon Press) catalog FREE once you prove to me you made the purchase. For those of you unable to find it on any shelf in America and would still like to read this remarkable book (okay, subtly isn’t my strong suit) you CAN purchase it IMMEDIATELY at Amazon.com.

Response to Hostage Demands

Okay, quite a few of you have asked to see my repsonse to yesterday’s hostage demands. There are those who will think the following is unprofessional. That is probably true. I probably should not have made the contents of the note public in the first place. I, however, think that everyone should have the opportunity to learn from the mistakes of others. I have made my position on things like this so clear  you’d have to be dead not to know what was going to happen. Below is my response. Do I feel bad about it? Do I feel bad about posting it on a public forum? No! When you send stupidity to me, I will respond as I see fit. It is the chance you take for poking me in the eye with a stick.

On a professional note. People, learn this. The cover letter or query you send a publisher is usually a first impression. Do your best to make it a good one. If you know a person and wish to use that familiarity to your benefit, use  your powers for good, not evil stupidity. If you honestly think that I am the only publisher who makes fun of things like this, you are sadly mistaken. I may be the only one foolish enough to post my thoughts on my Blog, but others talk.

One thing you should all know about me. I take publishing very seriously. I may laugh and I may joke, I may not be the epitome of professionalism, but that doe NOT mean I don’t put my entire self into what I do. Echelon does not want to work with people who think themselves above everyone else. We are a team. I don’t do things like everyone else, and you should know that going in. I believe in every author I acquire and I fully expect them to have the same belief in themself. I will not tolerate any author in my house thinking they are better than anyone else. We are all in this for the same reason. TO MAKE READERS HAPPY! You want to make a million dollars? Go start the next eBay or Amazon and good luck with that!

Dear Writer,

Thank you for taking the time to contact me regarding your work, although I am unclear as to what actual work you were referring to as there was no indication of an actual submission. Did you forget to put that part in?

I regret would like to inform you that I will be unable to meet any of your ridiculous demands. It pisses me off disturbs me to realize that the impact I have on authors at events is not what I had hoped for. I had led myself to believe nut job that I am that I since I was speaking very clearly to the masses about what they could and could not expect from a relationship with Echelon Press.

While your letter was written very well, the content was absolutely unthinkable. What the hell were you thinking? Echelon is not a large company and many of the larger houses would not even agree to these terms. Though we have been in business nearly ten years, we are still growing into our rightful place among respected publishers. We do this with the full and realistic support of our authors.

I just about laughed my arse off was particularly unsettled by your request for an annual marketing budget and a guarantee of acquisitions of your next four books. Really? Show me some sales track record.

I have a considerable number of bits of advice to give you, but they are all things I know I said when last we met. “You didn’t pay any attention then, why would you now? It is a shame that you chose to ignore my previous comments and display yourself in such a manipulative manner. I will be unable to offer you any furhter consideration and your e-mail address has been flagged as SPAM.

I would strongly urge you to familiarize yourself with how this industry actually works. The basic submission process begins with a query letter. Had you done any research regarding Echelon and myself, you would have known well in advance how this would play out.

Furthermore, you closed your letter by acknowledging me as “friend.” Please note that I am not your friend. Nor would I have been should you have actually submitted your work and we had acquired it. While I am quite fond of many of my authors, and a few I do call friend. A person who behaves so irresponsibly unprofessional would not fall into that category.

Publishing is a business and should be treated as such before, during, and after publication. Assumptions such as yours did not have the desired results. I am not so easily manipulated by a word. Please note that we do not wish to work with you at this time or any other time. Our submissions for all divisions are closed to you.

I sincerely hope you will consider my response before you try and hold another publisher hostage for your own personal gain use this manner to submit to another publisher.

Karen Syed, President
Echelon Press LLC

What makes a Good Author?

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This is a question I have asked for many years now, in fact I started asking myself this whenI decided to write for publication. I wanted to know what I would have to do to be a good author. I don’t know that I have all the answers, but I have come up with a few things that I know for a fact are required to make a good author. And when I say “good” author, I mean successful.

What is success? My definition is: the positive result of serious effort and smart decision making with a specific goal in mind.

So what does it take? Here are my top ten things.

  1. Enthusiasm
  2. Integrity
  3. Commitment
  4. Determination
  5. Vigilence
  6. Stamina
  7. Support
  8. Values
  9. Humor
  10. Desire

A good author needs to be 100% enthusiastic about their work.

A good author needs to be consistent in their efforts and values.

A good author needs to be totally committed to the successful sales of their book. Not just in getting it into production.

A good author needs to be determined to succeed. They need to be willing do whatever it takes and to make sacrifices if necessary.

A good Author needs to be vigilent in their efforts for continued writing, marketing, and selling. Being an author is a multi-faceted experience and not an easy one.

A good author needs to be willing to invest whatever time is required to attend events, meet people, and talk about their work.

A good author needs to surround themself with other successful people as well as people who  are eager to support and encourage them in all of their positive efforts.

A good author must accept the way the industry works and be willing to adjust their efforts as things change without giving up what they truly believe in.

A good author must roll with the punches. The book industry is a funny one and sometimes the only solution is to sit back and laugh at life before getting back up and doing what you have to.

A good author has to have the true in-your-gut-can’t live without it desire to be successful. Just saying it doesn’t make it so.

Don’t write a book and expect everyone else to do all the work for you. It is your book and no one is responsible for its success except you.

A good author needs to believe!

You’ve Got to be Kidding!

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Okay, I have been participating in a thread on the Murder Must Advertise Yahoo group about what authors think their publishers should do. This morning, after much deliberation, I went ahead and posted some of the things I, as a publisher, do and some things that I won’t do any more.

I had someone ask me privately (concerning a different post) why I get so frustrated and complain about my authors when they work so hard. This question actually came from one of my authors. They also wanted to know why I don’t do more for my authors. It seems to them that I make excuses for not doing things. Okay, fair enough. I answered, even kindly since this author has sold a total of 113 books in the last year.

But this made me think. How come my excuses are bad and an author’s are not? With that in mind, here are the last ten excuses I have received from authors hen I asked them about their personal marketing efforts. They are in no particular order and are very real.

  • I have  family and I have to put them first. I don’t have time to call stores or travel around for nothing.
  • No one is going to come to a books signing anyway so I don’t bother.
  • I wrote the book and am writing my next one for you, so the least you can do is market it for me.
  • I sent out 100 post cards when it first came out and no one contacted me back, so I am not going to waste my time or money.
  • I didn’t get in this business to be a salesperson. I am a writer and have no desire to have to sell.
  • All of my money goes on my family, I never expected to have to pay to market my own book.
  • The economy is really bad and people are not buying books anyway.
  • I work a full-time job, take care of my family, and I need down time. That doesn’t leave time for me to market, that is why I got a publisher.
  • It would seem to me that you would have a lot more time to market my book since you don’t work a full-time job. (this is my personal favorite)
  • If I market it myself, why do I need a publisher?
  • Bookstores and libraries never pay attention to the author, all that marketing stuff has to come from the publisher.
  • No legitimate author does their own marketing.
  • I don’t know how to find readers. If you find them for me, I will talk to them.
  • Nobody sells books from promoting on the Internet, it is a huge waste of time.
  • Social networking is not going to reach readers. It never does.
  • If you want your business to succeed, you are going to have to prove to your authors that they should even bother with you.
  • It is not my responsibility to fund your publishing house.

Okay, more than ten, but I was on a roll. This doesn’t even touch the list. I would very much like to make a very general statement to authors.



The Streets of Insanity

Happy Sunday. Yup, it is Sunday already. I know a lot of you have been waiting for the next installment of my adventures in Pakistan. Well, I cannot find any of the pieces I wrote, so I am going to wing it from memory.

Keep in mind that I got sick on day three, so a lot of it is a blur. But here goes.

My first week was actually pretty exciting. Since my luggage was lost we went out looking for clothes for me to wear until I got my own. Much to my annoyance, after visiting two different bazaars and about ten shops, we discovered that they don’t sell clothes for people my size. Now, let me tell you what. I used to be a size 24/26 close to 300 pounds. I am now wearing 16/18 and am only weighing in the 230’s (depends on which day of the week.) So to not be able to find any clothes large enough was really quite honestly pissing me off.

Add to this that I don’t understand a single word anyone is saying to me. My husband has even slipped back into his native tongue and I am feeling sorely left out. Now, as to my clothes. Okay, I’ve been in them for about 40 hours at this point and I probably smell bad, but I don’t think it is bad enough to cause everyone to stare at me. And everyone is staring at me. I later discovered it was because my clothes were too tight. Seems as though the Pakistanis don’t appreciate the snug fits of Americans or Europeans.

So after a few tears (mine of course) we make our way to a fabric store where I will choose the cloth for my new outfit. The fabrics are absolutely beautiful. Most of what we look at is embroidered. It is the big thing, and for good reason. After some haggling with my newly-met mother-in-law- and sister-in-law, they decide on a good color for me. I have grown to love them very much, but they are very influential when they choose to be.

I stopped in a few stores looking for books. I figured I would do lots of reading over there on my laptop, but electricity is something else there. Because of the lack of energy in Pakistan they are on a load sharing program. Every couple of hours the lights go out in different areas for an hour at a time. It is very weird to all of a sudden be sitting in the dark with no power. But alas, this has been going on for so long that the locals are used to it. Many have set up their own generators to compensate in those times. However, it does make it difficult to work on a laptop and to stay charged.

In the bookstores I stopped in, I could not find any fiction written in English. They have tons of textbooks and children’s readers, but none of the fun stuff. I was reading THE GILDED SEAL by James Twining and was nearing the end. I was getting very worried. What about my IPod and all the eReader programs I have loaded onto it? Seems as though when I switched computers and synched on the new one, I did not move the eBooks and so there were NONE loaded. I wanted to fall under a truck. Oh well.

Now, going back to the trips into the bazaars to shop, I have to mention the traffic in great details. There are NO traffic laws. Oh, they have been written and a few of them actually posted, but they are like Atlantis, gone, gone, gone. We get into the car and we head out. We are not even out of the driveway before a car coming down the side street is honking at us because we are not driving fast enough. Our next turn is onto another side road where there are around 30 bikes, maybe a dozen motorcycles, and a line of cars, actually two rows of cars, going the same way on a two-way street, unfortunately we have to go in the opposite direction of them. So the husband (who I never knew possessed the skills of aversion that he does) whips the little car out into the melee. Cars are coming at us. Cars are swerving around us going both directions from both sides. Cars are nearly brushing up against us…I swear one of the cab drivers had a sty in his eye and we were so close I could see the damn thing.

Now, we have to go out onto a main road. Holy CRAP. Now we have a two-lane road with four rows of traffic. No kidding. I am seeing motorcycles with three and four people on each one. Entire families ride on one little Kawasaki. But by God, they are smiling. The “cool” thing about Pakistan drivers is they never flip you off and they always smile just before they push the front fender of your car out of their way. Truly a friendly group of lunatic drivers.

My final observation for the day is the level of poverty I saw while in Pakistan. When you drive through the small towns, the buildings are barely standing, there have been little improvements on them since their initial placement, and some of them honestly look like they might fall down at any moment.

There are hundreds of people who literally live on the side of the road. Some are fortunate enough to have tarps that they stretch between trees or sticks they dig into the ground, but many simply have a cot that they set on the side of a road and tie their goat or donkey to. There are neighborhoods where the housing is so scarce that I wondered if they were actually populated, but when you get in, you notice that they are actually overpopulated.

Everywhere you look there are armed soldiers and police. They simply watch. The police blockades are frequent and in some places they write down every license plate that passes through their sector. It sounds very scary, but in all actuality, there was nothing scary about it. Once you realize how normal that is, it becomes sad.

Here is a culture that is one of the most creative and outgoing I’ve ever seen and they are relegated to poverty because their government refuses to organize and acknowledge their existence. How can that possibly be? I think they simply don’t care. They have their fancy houses and their bank accounts and they have the power to allow hundreds of people to die with nothing. And yet, the people living on the streets smile and nod as you pass. They greet each other with firm handshakes and warm hugs. It is incredible.

But now it is time for our weekly call to the family, so I will sign off so I can get the actual recipe for my sister-in-laws Chicken Corn Soup. It was heavenly.

Next time. Fast Food in Pakistan. Yup!

You can’t go home…

I recently read a series of posts on a Yahoo group that I found very sad. Not jus sad, but very sad. Several people spoke of their pasts and where they came from. The images evoked such dismay that I could not let it pass without comment.

Graceland, Memphis, TN

These poor people talked about how things had changed in the places and neighborhoods where they once lived. They told sad stories of vandalized homes and razor wire surrounding schools. Heartbreaking. I understand. I try not to go home because it is always such a disappointment to me to see how things have deteriorated. I also found great sadness during the few years I lived in Memphis. A city filled with such historical splendor and it is horribly abused and neglected. What could I do? Well, one thing I am doing is working on a story that celebrates some of Memphis’ fine history. Some day it will see publication and others will be able to enjoy the thrill I get each time I am there and I dig for the richness that once was.

In twelve days I will be traveling to Pakistan with my husband. That is the land of his birth and I know that every time he goes back, the changes affect him dramatically. But he has never lost site of what was and is still is mportant to him about home. I learn a lot from him.

With that in mind, I propose this.

As writers and publishers don’t you think we could make a change in all this? Every time I go home I feel lost. I admit it. But I just keep moving and try not to look back, like if I don’t pay attention it won’t really be there. It serves no good purpose.

What if as a collective a group of writers and publisher started a movement to rebuild our old communities and surroundings, one page at a time? We use words as our tools. We paint pictures with those words. We have the ability and the talent to bring those images of beauty and peace back to those areas and to those people who now inhabit them.

What if 1000 writers all took to their computers and wrote essays, articles, short stories, books, etc. painting the images that we so vividly recall?

I would think that with as many magazines as there are out there that a series of well-written articles with some beautifully nostalgic photos might bring about the stirrings of possible change. 

We can all hang out here and feel bad about it, but what if we each made one little effort and then went to one other person to make one little effort, and so on? Don’t you think that the power of the word has the ability to change? It can certainly change for the worse, why don’t we MAKE it change for the better?

These places are our heritage, our roots, doesn’t that make it our responsibility to breathe life back into them?

I’d love hear about where you are from.