The Slave in the Garden
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Well, we've got another round of new books for the summer, beginning with The Slave in the Garden, a short novel by Teagan Rand, set on Xhagia and dealing with naughty bureaucrats, the legendary sex district of the capital, and despite rather long odds, a love story. It's available at Smashwords and Omnilit, and should be up within a day or two at Amazon.

February Update
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It's been a slow month. We've got some new titles that will hopefully be crossing the editing desk soon. We've also managed to get two of the Xhagia titles up for sale in the Google bookstore, but not the other two. The system is not user friendly.

And for a limited time, A Slave Girl for the Emperor is on sale at Amazon for $0.99.

Omnilit and Google
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Well, after a relaxing holiday, we are back at it for 2011. This includes making out ebooks available in some new places, beginning with Omnilit, where our entire catalog is up and available in a variety of formats. We've also started putting books into the Google e-bookstore, but their system is amazingly balky so it is taking some time.

Cover Yourself!
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One of the many advantages to ebooks is the fact that you can do things like change the covers on short notice. So our graphic arts guy spent a few days improving the covers to the Xhagia Saga, and here are the results. We hope you like them as much as we do.







(Smashwords)






(Smashwords)






(Smashwords)






(Smashwords)

Teagan Rand Interview
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Teagan Rand, whose Xhagia Saga is published by Tuppshar Press, has been interviewed over at SFR Brigade. Among other things, we're informed that a new series set on Xhagia is in the works, which means that our bribes to Teagan will have to commence forthwith in the form of flattery and pestering emails.

Not to mention a little something from our graphic arts people...


Final Surrender on Kindle
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Well, we've gotten the last book of Teagan Rand's four book Xhagia Saga, Final Surrender, up on Kindle and Kindle UK. Enjoy!


Publshing, Editing, and Small Presses
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Over at Joe Konrath's Blog, the question that comes up again and again is whether authors really need publishers anymore, since it is now so easy to self-publish at minimal or even no cost. And Joe has certainly been a success at this, making six figures in royalties since he started putting out his backlist. Others, like Selena Kitt, have done so as well. Perhaps in response to the news this generated, USA Today ran an Op-Ed piece in which Harold McGraw III, the chairman, president and CEO of McGraw-Hill publishing, and Phillip Ruppel, the president of McGraw-Hill's professional book division, defending the traditional publisher by challenging some of what they call "myths" about publishing today. It's and interesting piece, and I thought it deserved some comment.

"Myth No. 1.Publishers are merely printers. That would be news to companies like ours, which don't even operate their own printing presses. Publishers today are in the content business. We develop it; we design it; and we deliver it however our readers want it. And while a large part of our business remains in paper and print, we are seeing an unmistakable and irreversible shift toward bits and bytes with e-books and digital delivery platforms accounting for a growing share of the total market."

This is true. Publishers are much more than merely printers, since it is a rare publisher indeed these days who doesn't outsource that part of its business. We use Lightning Source, Amazon DTP, and Smashwords. This is because they have expertise that we don't, and I'm guessing that McGraw-Hill doesn't have either. One of the most basic maxims of business is to focus your efforts on what you are good at.

"Myth No. 2.Authors don't need publishers in the digital age. Anyone who has ever written a book knows this to be false. Many great authors would never have found their audience without a great publisher willing to take a risk on their talents and market their works. At every stage of the editorial process, publishers partner with their authors as creative consultants, editors and designers. Ernest Hemingway had Maxwell Perkins from Charles Scribner's Sons, and Norman Mailer had E.L. Doctorow from Dial Press.

These relationships are even more critical to a book's success in the digital age. With the ascent of e-books, authors will need publishers to serve as digital artists who can bring words to life by pairing text with multimedia features such as audio, video and search. While many of these functions are only included in so-called enhanced books today, they will be part of every book tomorrow."

Here there is a problem, since it argues that all authors agree with Mr. McGraw and Mr. Ruppel. This is an old and tired rhetorical device, to state something as an absolute truth and insist that all debate must proceed from that point. But the fact is that many people who have written books clearly don't need a publisher. This is because 1) publication is not what creates a book; writing it and putting it in some tangible form does, and 2) there are many books that are self-published or not made public at all. And while it is true that many authors have had their work become public successes because of the efforts of publishers who were willing to take a chance on them, this does not mean that it is true of all authors.

What Mr. McGraw and Mr. Ruppel don't say is that editorial relationships like the ones they describe for Hemingway and Mailer are rare in the extreme these days, and that they have been rare for the past 30 years at least. The fact is that modern editors are more marketing people than they are literary critics. Of course, this is the last thing the CEO of a major publisher is going to tell you, since it is the publishing equivalent to the admission that the king has no clothes on.

A look at the modern business of publishing tells us why: it is a business, and like most businesses, it therefore is concerned with the bottom line. Sales are what matters most to publishers, and editors who don't produce commercially successful books don't remain editors for long. A great many of them would love to produce quality books and work with authors to nurture them (I've met and talked to numerous such people), but they don't have the time. So if a book is of high quality when they get it, so much the better, and there is nothing about the traditional publishing system that specifically excludes quality; it just isn't the top priority. Keep in mind that the overhead of a major publisher is often huge, and the publisher itself is often owned by a larger corporation that is even more concerned with the bottom line that appears on a quarterly statement.

The situation can be different with a small press, since they have lower overhead and are often run by people who do it for the love of literature. In our own experience we only work with a small number of authors because we actually believe in the editorial process first, and profit second (we do believe in profit, mind you, but feel that the way to get it is through quality).

"Myth No. 3.E-books should essentially be free books. This would be true only if paper and binding represented the bulk of publishing expenses, and that is simply not the case. In bookmaking, manufacturing costs typically account for less than 10%-15% of the total. In short, the price of printing pales in comparison with the cost of creating content.

"When readers buy new print books, they are paying for the ideas on the pages — not the pages themselves. At McGraw-Hill, as many as 10 editors and designers will have a hand in any given book. The process requires a significant editorial investment from publishers, and that dynamic will not change even as print gives way to electronic ink."

Here we agree. The fact is that the creation of a book is mostly intellectual, the "ideas on the pages". But I note with some concern that the nature of the "editorial investment" is not described. Based on my conversations with agents and editors, most of that "investment" is in marketing, not editing per se. And this shows in the often low quality of published books, and the fact that authors are nowadays expected to do most of the editing themselves.

"Myth No. 4.Consumers won't pay for digital content. Tell that to the millions of customers who have already purchased e-books. In cyberspace, just as in the local marketplace, people will always be willing to pay for quality. They understand that the masterful layering of a novel and the comprehensive expertise of a medical handbook do not come free."

Obviously customers will pay for digital content, so we agree here too. And people are willing to pay for quality, but only for what they perceive as being quality. This is a matter of taste as much as anything, and explains why literary fiction sells far less than romance, even though the prose and style are often of higher quality. One can certainly write a romance novel that is of high quality, but it's not going to appeal to an audience that prefers other genres. Note how many science fiction fans decry the romances set in outer space, for example.

But I must ask: since the majority of the work in creating a masterfully layered novel or a medical handbook lies in the hands of the author, why is it that they are paid last, and typically only at about 8-10%? Why, in an age when the publisher of a Kindle book can get 70% of the cover price, do major publishers insist on still paying authors such a small amount? The reason is that publishers have until recently controlled access to the public through bookstores and shelf space, and so they feel they can pay authors less. This is a short-term failure of capitalism which the ebook market is in the process of correcting.

"Myth No. 5.The last word on publishing has been written. Not in our book. Around the world, innovative publishers are pushing the boundaries of technology to meet the demands of a new generation of readers. These publishers understand that the e-book is not a threat to their survival but rather an extraordinary opportunity to connect authors and readers in ways never before possible. That's the real future of the industry, and that's a story worth publishing."

Here Mr. McGraw and Mr. Ruppel, are clearly correct. The one constant in business is that it changes, and successful businesses have to adapt or they will go under. The ebook is an extraordinary opportunity, as we at Tuppshar Press discovered last year. But ironically, it is such an opportunity because it undermines one of the bedrock foundations of traditional publishing: control over distribution and access. Traditional publishers have long enjoyed a near-monopolistic control over shelf space, and so long as the only way for most of us to get a book was to go to bookstores, they made lots of money and could largely ignore the realities of supply (authors) and demand (the public), But Amazon in particular has changed the way publishing works, and so far as I can tell the large publishers have failed to recognize this. The Agency Model, which is really just an effort to control Amazon's pricing structure (meaning that in some cases it is cheaper to buy a hardback than an ebook), is an effort to keep book prices artificially high, ignoring the basic rule of capitalism that someone is going to undercut you if you do that.

So indeed the last word on publishing has not yet been written. What is sadly true for large publishers is that there is precious little evidence that they are among the "innovative publishers" that Mr. McGraw and Mr. Ruppel speak so fondly of.


Tuppshar Short: Lesson in Bondage
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We've put up a new Tuppshar Short title by Teagan Rand, Lesson in Bondage. It's available at Amazon, Amazon UK, and Smashwords. Also, Slave of the Brothel is now also available at Amazon UK and Smashwords. Enjoy!




Publisher's Weekly and Self-Publishing
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Ours isn't normally a publishing industry blog, or one devoted to self-publishing, but we feel we do need to comment on such things from time to time. Recently, Publisher's Weekly, one of the leading industry trade publications, announced that they were "returning to our earliest roots" and embracing the "self-publishing phenomenon". "Call it what you will—" they say, "self-publishing, DIY, POD, author-financed, relationship publishing, or vanity fare. They are books and that is what PW cares about. And we aim to inform the trade."

Well, that sounds fine, yes? And certainly the self-publishing phenomenon has grown dramatically in recent years, both from the creation of print-on-demand technology and more recently ebooks and readers such as Amazon's Kindle. The fact is that the publishing world is in a state of exciting change, and industry reporters should be paying attention.

Unfortunately, there is actually no real evidence that Publisher's Weekly is doing anything of the sort. You see, one of the most basic features of journalism is that you really shouldn't charge your sources for their stories. Yet in order to be placed in Publisher's Weekly's new supplement, self-publishers must pay them $149 for even a mention, and if they do, they might get a review out of it, and maybe even some attention from agents and other "friends" of the magazine. Why is it a supplement if self-publishing is suddenly legitimate? Shouldn't self-publishing be part of the regular magazine if that is the case?

What this all means, of course, is that Publisher's Weekly has gone from being a source of information to a vanity press of the worst kind, since they are pretending to be reporting when in fact they are soliciting for advertisements. In other words, they are being deceptive, though carefully staying legal as they do it. Now, none of us here at Tuppshar Press are opposed to vanity presses; they have their place, and if you are a computer neophyte and just want to print up Grandpa's memoirs for the family, companies like iUniverse can be very helpful. But for authors who actually want some measure of commercial success, paying to be published beyond the cost of printing and distributing your books generally constitutes a bad idea at best and a scam at worst (there are, of course, exceptions, and we certainly don't begrudge them their success). We see no sign that Publisher's Weekly is in any way really interested in self-published authors other than as a new revenue stream, dangling the possibility of attention from "real" publishers in front of people in exchange for their hard-earned cash. If self-publishing is legitimate, as they are now claiming, why the promise of exposure to agents, since one of the points of self-publishing is often to skip the agent?

The reaction among self-published authors, as well as some professionals, has, thankfully, been mostly negative. We'd like to add our voice to the chorus: this really does look like a scam, and should be avoided.

Xhagia, Book 3
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Well after a busy month, we've got the third book in Teagan Rand's four-book Xhagia series up on Kindle. Enjoy!


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