Jennifer Crusie: more on traditional vs self-publishing

A post I happened to notice at Jennifer Crusie’s blog: Happiness is a Soup Truck

[W]e were submitting to editors and getting caught up in the insanity of traditional publishing, and although our agent tried to protect us as much as possible, it’s a jungle out there, even worse than it used to be when it drove me into writer’s block for a decade. Then we got an offer and I really tensed up, but the good news is that it was a lousy offer. And Bob said, “Let’s just self-publish,” and I said, “Oh, god, yes, yes, yes.”

And I don’t want to say that traditional publishing is hopeless because I doubt that’s true. But I do want to note that Jennifer Crusie is another traditionally published author, a NYT bestselling author no less, whose first book came out in 1993. Ten years ago, she ground to a halt due to clinical depression and now she has moved sideways. For Crusie, it’s about control, and I will just note that I did say that for me, control over what I write is the most important thing. Here’s Crusie, emphasizing a different kind of control — control over how the book is published:

Which is when I realized how bad publishing is for me and why: I have no control. … I can’t tell you what a relief it is not to be dealing with contracts and outside revisions and sell-throughs and all the other things we’d have no control over. … we’re both so relieved to be doing this ourselves because we can get the books out fast and only a month apart and price them so that people don’t have to sell a kid to afford them

“We” is Crusie and a collaborator. She is also talking about luck, the same thing I emphasized. Sell-through means the proportion of readers who buy book two and then book three. Bad sell-through will kill your series. This is exactly what I meant when I said that if a major chain of booksellers goes bankrupt between book one and book two, you’re screwed. I meant that sell-through will be lousy for your second book and there is nothing you can do about it and the publisher will hold that bad sell-through against you.

The book Crusie and her cowriter are bringing out is the first of a series; it’s called Lavender’s Blue.

Liz Danger has returned home after fifteen years to deliver a giant teddy bear for her mother’s birthday (color: Guilt Red) when a cop with a great ass picks her up for speeding, fixes the missing lug nuts on her back wheel, pulls her out of a ditch, doesn’t give her a ticket, and helps her avoid her family. This is a man with real potential. The rest of the day goes downhill, starting with her finding out that the only man she’s ever loved is getting married to Lavender Blue, the most beautiful woman in southern Ohio. Really, the best thing in her day is that cop with the lug nuts.

Vince Cooper still isn’t sure about being a cop in Burney, Ohio, a place he just moved to six months ago, since Burney is full of some fairly odd people spaced between long stretches of boredom. Still, considering the dangerous, difficult life he had before Burney as an Army Ranger and New York City cop, boredom is good. Then he picks up Liz Danger for speeding and life gets a lot more interesting. And when he picks her up again in the local bar the next night, he starts to realize that “interesting” doesn’t begin to describe what’s going to happen to him if he pulls Liz into his arms and his life

I preordered it, because (a) happy to give Jennifer Crusie a boost, and (b) sure, book sounds like fun, so why not?

That thing about pricing the book in an attractive way is nicely illustrated here. Lavender’s Blue is $4.99. Want to know how much the ebooks are for her traditionally published titles? $11.99 or thereabouts, because big publishers are convinced that price doesn’t matter and readers will buy books no matter what the price is.

I actually read a post where someone, a marketing guy from a Big Five publisher, was quoted as saying that in so many words. Sorry, don’t remember the details, only the statement that price is not relevant to book sales. This was years ago, but looking at the prices of traditionally published books, I don’t think they’ve changed their minds, even though competition from self-published authors is way, way up and only going to get more intense.

All else aside, I’m glad Crusie is back in business! I’ve only read one of her books previously, but I did like it and I’m looking forward to trying Lavender’s Blue.

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7 thoughts on “Jennifer Crusie: more on traditional vs self-publishing”

  1. Ooh, if you haven’t read much Crusie yet you’ve got some treats ahead of you. I liked almost all of them and loved at least half.
    Her romances have heroines with agency and great banter; the ones she has co-written with Bob Mayer have more violence, others have more humor and snark, but they’re always romances first and foremost, and fairly often the cast includes a good dog.

    Some of my favorites are Faking It, Bet Me, Getting Rid of Bradley, Fast Women, Trust Me on This, Tell Me Lies, Welcome to Temptation, Strange Bedpersons, Charlie All Night, What the Lady Wants, Anyone But You, and the snarky & violent Agnes and the Hitman, the first one she co-wrote with Bob Mayer. I know I didn’t like the sequel to that (too violent) so it isn’t on my shelf anymore. I thought I did like The Cinderella Deal, Crazy for You, and Maybe This Time (with ghosts), but they’re not on my shelf anymore, so either I lent them to someone or I didn’t like them enough to keep for rereads. Maybe I need to reread them to figure it out?

  2. I’ve read Welcome to Temptation, Hanneke, and liked it okay, but maybe not as much as you did. I must say, the one that instantly sounds most appealing is the one with ghosts. But I’ll try Lavender’s Blue first, probably. I like the setup — and there’s a dachshund, apparently. Crusie has dogs, I see that from her blog, and I think she can probably write good dogs.

  3. I’ve read and liked some of them. One was Maybe This Time and I really appreciated the extras too: the floor plan of the house on Crusie’s website and the banana bread recipe (Although Andie used walnuts in the book not pecans :) ), we made it and it was delicious.

    It’s here if anyone is interested:

  4. She’s not on my comfort rereads shelf, but she was a good introduction to modern romance reading for me, decades after reading and liking Mary Stewart in my teens.

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