Here is a text transcript of DBSA 88. An Interview with Maya Banks Part II, Plus Listener Email. You can listen to the mp3 here, or you can read on!
This podcast transcript was delicately fashioned of traditional alphabet by Garlic Knitter. Many thanks.
Here are the books we discuss:
Sarah Wendell: Hello, and welcome to another DBSA podcast. I am Sarah Wendell from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, and with me is Jane Litte and Maya Banks! This is podcast number 88, the second part of our interview with Maya Banks. Last week we spoke to her at length about what she’s working, her work habits, what she likes to read, and then Jane asked her about her response to reader disappointment about her book After the Storm, and this is a topic that Jane and I had discussed in an earlier podcast as well. I thought that Maya’s responses were really interesting, and I wanted to share them, but after about 4 minutes and 55 seconds into the podcast, it sounds like we threw Maya down a well. So, let’s pretend that we put Maya Banks in a well with very good-looking men and a microphone, and that’s where she was doing the podcast. I did as much as I could to bump up the audio, but it’s very quiet, so I’m sure you’re going to turn it up.
So here’s what we’re going to do: when I get to the part about reader email, I will start off talking very quietly, and then I will remind you to turn the volume down so that when I restore my normal speaking voice, which is very loud, I don’t blast your ears off! All part of the services we provide here at the DBSA podcast where I do my best with editing, even though I have very little formal training in it. Yay!
The music you’re listening to was provided by and performed by Sassy Outwater, and our sponsor, Penguin, would like to tell you about something very awesome. The Kraken King, parts I and II, by Mejlean Brook. This is an all-new e-serial novel and a sexy steampunk adventure, the first installment available April 15th, and if you like steampunk and if you like Meljean Brook you should totally go check this out ‘cause she’s awesome!
And now, on with the podcast.
Jane Litte: We had a podcast about three or four weeks ago where we talked about author responses, because Sarah had read your Facebook page – maybe I had sent it to her, or she saw it on her own – where you talked about, where you had a response to readers about, I think it was your latest KGI book.
Maya Banks: Yes. It was After the Storm.
Jane: And she thought that was a really intriguing response, and I remember she, her saying that she didn’t think anybody else should do it because it’s, tonally, it’s hard to convey the message that you did, but obvi-, but I think that it came off so well because, obviously, it was very genuine, and we kind of compared it to a couple other responses that authors had made about books that had come out. There was a Dahlia West who had written a book called Tex after she had published a book called Shooter, but then Tex was this really awful portrayal of dominance and submission. I mean, the, like, the hero is the Dom, and he punishes the heroine in, in anger and basically treats her like a dog, including making her defecate on the lawn and eat out of a dog bowl dish and stuff like that. But she wrote a blog post that said it was the first time she had written anything like that and that she understood where, that some readers had a problem with it, and her intention was really good, and I wasn’t offended by that response, whereas there was another book that I read, the book itself was pretty horrific, and I felt like the author had done some things for shock value, and she wrote this post about how she was a feminist. The, the response she made just kind of ticked me off, because she was obviously trying to justify the book in light of all of the negative criticism. We, so we were talking about author responses, and we talked about yours, and what prompted you to make that Facebook post?
Maya: Well, and you were right, it was very genuine, because I have, I don’t know if it would be considered unique, because I don’t really know anything about other authors’ relationships with their readers, but I am very cognizant of the fact that I owe every part of my success in my career to my readers, because you can write the best book in the world, and if nobody buys it or talks about it, it, it’s not going to do you any good, and I have always, every time I have a book that hits the bestseller list, I express sincere gratitude to my readers, because I don’t take it for granted that the next one is going, you know, to follow suit, and so, you know, I always take the time, and I, I was once asked in an interview if that ever got old or if I, or was doing it by rote, and I was like, no! You know, I, I really mean it. It probably sounded odd because I’ve gone on record, and it’s absolutely true, that I don’t read reviews of my own books. I don’t have Google alert, you know, with my name. I don’t need to see or hear everything that is ever written or said about me online, because me knowing it doesn’t change it. You know, it’s still there. But I knew something was up with this book because I have this sort of unique relationship with my readers. They’re very honest with me, and I’ll hear from them.
If they’re disappointed in a book or if they don’t like something, they’ll email me or they’ll post on my Facebook, and I noticed a much higher than usual measure of disappointment in this book because I was getting tons of emails and I was getting private Facebook messages. Some were posting, you know, publically on my Facebook, so I knew something was up, you know, immediately, and I read every single one of those emails. I read every piece of personal correspondence, whether it’s a message or an email or a post directly to me, and there was a part of me that also realized that no matter what I did with Donovan’s story, because he, he was such a highly anticipated character in the series and people had been waiting for his story for so long, I knew that no matter what I did, there would be a segment of my readership that would be disappointed in the outcome because it wouldn’t have gone the way they wanted it to. And so, knowing that didn’t change the fact that I still regretted, you know, that they were disappointed in it, because I hate the idea of disappointing any reader, and so when I started getting these messages, I honestly felt like the right thing to do was to acknowledge it, or acknowledge them, rather, and say, your opinion is important; it’s valid.
It’s that I didn’t want a bunch of people ganging up and saying, oh, those people are stupid. How could they not like this book? And I was very careful to say that everybody is entitled to their opinion, and when you spend money on a product, that gives you the right to feel any way you want about it, and I wanted there to be a safe environment for these readers to air their disappointment, and that’s what I tried to do with the Facebook post. I know that there was some, some of the people involved with the publishing process weren’t real crazy about my post at first because they thought it would deter, you know, other readers from buying it, but to me, I still felt like it was the right thing to do because I didn’t want these readers to think that I didn’t hear them or that I didn’t understand where they were coming from or that I in some way, you know, thought they were wrong or that I was plugging, you know, sticking my head in the sand and, you know, ignoring them and going about my happy way and saying, basically, I don’t care what you think, you know, I’m the author, I’m the almighty, you know, and only I get to decide what’s okay. So for me, it was just a genuine way of saying, I’m sorry that I let you down, and I hope you will give me another chance, because that’s really all I can do at the end of the day, because I can’t go back and rewrite the book, and to be honest, I wouldn’t have rewritten it. I wouldn’t have done anything differently, but that doesn’t mean that I disagree with them and that they didn’t have a right to be disappointed. You know, it just means that I hear them, I, you know, I heard them through the emails and, and messages and that, you know, I do hope they’ll give me another chance, and I hope that if they do give me that second chance that I don’t disappoint them again.
Jane: Some authors I’ve read say that they feel like their Facebook page is their marketing page and that they’re entitled to a blemish-free marketing page and that they will delete any negative comment about their books ever posted on their Facebook page.
Maya: Oh, no, no. If, if you go at any time on my Facebook page, you can find something negative that somebody has posted. I don’t delete anything unless it’s spam – you know, unless it’s obvious spam. I have an admin on my Facebook page. He’s my publicist, and the only way he ever posts is if he makes it clear that it is not me, because I never want readers think, thinking that I have somebody pretending to me, be me answering their posts, and I have a very distinctive style and a very distinctive voice, so I think they would be able to tell anyway, but if he ever posts, he always says, this is Maya’s admin here, and this is just an, an informative post, like, this is a cover or this is a blurb, and I can count on one hand the times that I’ve had somebody other than me post on my Facebook page. So, no, I don’t delete anything unless it’s spam. They are free to say whatever they want to say, and I’ve had plenty of readers come on my Facebook and say, you know, I really didn’t like this book, or I didn’t like this book as much as this other book, or, you know – and some of them have been even more forceful than that in saying, I’m really disappointed in this, you know, how dare you use all these curse words –
Maya: – do you not know of a better way to express yourself. I’ve had the range of, of comments, you know, on my Facebook page, and I just, you know, like I said, readers are smart, you know. They, they’re, they’re not going to be influenced, somebody who, you know, loves my books isn’t going to one day go to my Facebook and read one post by somebody who says that, you know, this book was the worst, you know, piece of crap ever, and they’re not going to change their mind. Conversely, somebody who didn’t really like a certain title of mine is not going to go to my Facebook page and see somebody else post about how much they loved the book and then change their mind. You know, so, it, I’m not worried about it. I’m not worried about, you know, somebody seeing something that is not the most positive thing in the world, because everybody has their own opinion and is perfectly capable of making up their own mind about me, you know, and my books and my sincerity or my insincerity, whichever, you know, the way they want to think about it. It just goes back to what I’ve already said: readers are smart, and some authors don’t give them enough credit, and I like to think that I give them all the credit in the world, because, you know, I have a very healthy respect and love for my readers, because, you know, they’re responsible for every piece of success I’ve had in my career.
Sarah: [Whispers] Hey! Hey! Can you hear me? I’m actually afraid to speak loudly, ‘cause, well, I know Maya was down a well, and I’m not down a well. [Gradually louder] But I have reader email, or listener email, so you can turn down the volume now, and I will speak at my normal voice, and I’m really, really sorry for the fact that we through Maya Banks down a well, but she did have a full bar and some really hot guys down the well with her, I promise. We’re very nice to our author guests.
[Normal volume] So, are you ready for listener email? Because I have many, and they’re awesome. Our first listener email is a recommendation, and this is from Ching:
I’m a reader from Germany of Filipino descent – who would have thought? Hitler is rolling in his grave right now, for sure – and religiously follow your recommendations. For the archaeologist reader who wanted a few recommendations, there’s this one from Lori Wilde called Somebody to Love. The heroine is the youngest sister, and her lead professor is her best friend and forever secret crush. Lots of scenes at the dig, and what Lori Wilde described was pretty interesting. Not really my favorite of the series. I loved the one with the botanist; she was kickass. Anyway, my baby’s waking up, and we need to go. Keep on blogging and recommending!
Sarah: Thank you Ching. And also, I fe-, I love the fact that we read a genre where we can be like, yeah, the one with the archaeologist was cool, but the one with the botanist was kickass, because who, who doesn’t kick ass like a botanist, right? So thank you for that email.
This email is from Divya. Divya has written to us before, and she has a very big problem.
Dear Sarah and Jane,
You’ve probably heard of the horrible How I Met Your Mother finale that led to every Happy-Ever-After-loving gal curled up with a bowl of ice cream and in tears. A little background: I am a HUGE How I Met Your Mother fan of nine years, and up ‘til the finale, I thought the writers could do no wrong. In fact, I would claim the impact of my life from How I Met Your Mother is equal to the impact from the romance genre and Harry Potter. My problem is this: even though I know in my heart that the finale plots were completely out of character and disregarded nine seasons of character evolution, I still cannot bring myself to watch beloved past episodes. I tried yesterday and ended turning the TV off because I felt sick to my stomach. I’ve always felt the journey is far more important than the destination, yet this crappy destination has completely ruined the previous nine seasons for me. Have you ever read an amazing book series that goes stale and awful? [S: [Laughs] Yeah!] I know, even though I’ve never read them, that many readers feel that way about Black Dagger Brotherhood and Anita Blake, and if you have read a series like that, are you able to re-read the earlier awesome books without thinking of the crappy sequels? Do you have any advice on how to forget the crappy sequels, or is time the only answer? I realize my problem may not be solved by your answer – after all, reading a romance doesn’t take away nine years – but any help would be appreciated.
Sarah: Divya has more to say, but I wanted to answer this thing first.
Now, in terms of recovering from crappy endings, I have many things to say, and I have actually recorded and re-recorded this a couple of times because I do not want to sound like one of those ranting assholes on a one-man sports talk radio show. Like, those guys who sit and argue with themselves about the Yankees? I live in the New York metro area. Apparently, single guys can sit in a booth and argue with themselves about the Yankees for nine straight hours. I’ve been to Yankee games. They’re not that interesting, and I love baseball! But anyway, I’m going to try to avoid sounding like a one-woman show arguing with herself, but yes, I have many feelings of, of distrust ab-, about TV writers at this point because of shows like How I Met Your Mother. Here’s the thing about TV writers and me, and maybe this might help you, and maybe it might not. When you read a lot of novels like I do, you become accustomed to a story structure, one that has an end, and if it doesn’t have an end, or if it has a cliffhanger or if it’s going to be continued in books 2 or 3, I want to know that in advance, ‘cause you know what I like? I like The End. I like things that have an end, that – I, I like to trust that the person crafting the story knows where it’s going, and when I lose trust that the person knows where it’s going, I don’t want to read that story any more. I don’t want to hear it, I don’t want to watch it, I don’t want to have anything to do with it, because I don’t trust the storyteller anymore. And here’s the thing with TV writing: unless you’re talking about telenovelas, where there’s a very specific number of episodes, or you’re talking about shows where the beginning, middle, and end are already plotted out, or you’ve got a cable delivery system or a digital delivery system where you can be like, here you go, 16 episodes, one season, beginning, middle, end, see you next season! that’s different than, hey, we got picked up. Let’s hope for season 2. Okay, we got season 3. All right, season 4. Now what the fuck are we going to do through 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9?
Let’s, let’s make it all a dream. He’ll just walk out of the shower and nothing actually happened. This is the beginning of my lack of trust of TV writers, Dallas, ‘cause I totally watched that with my mom when I was a kid. When the hope is for renewal and the hope is that you’re going to get picked up for yet another season and yet another season, so you kind of have to have an ending in mind, but you don’t really want to get there? That, that does not inspire trust, and so I don’t like when a series keeps going when they should have ended, whether it’s television or whether it’s a novel. I am too used to having the ending when I don’t trust that the writer of whatever story I’m consuming in whatever media it is doesn’t have an ending in mind or doesn’t actually want to get there because, hello, residuals, I do-, I’m not interested anymore. So my answer is actually to not watch a lot of television, which is not a very good answer to your question, but I do have some suggestions.
Oh, my holy crapping God, was the How I Met Your Mother finale a piece of turd. It was terrible! It was horrible! How do you do something that bad on purpose? Like, what, what was – wow. I have so much empathy for how you feel, Divya, I really do. Not only did I watch people watching it on Twitter – because watching people watch TV on Twitter is, like, my new favorite thing to do – but my husband has been a fan of the show for nine years, and he did some incredible mental gymnastics trying to justify that ending and not be upset with it, and I think he managed it. I, I don’t think he stuck the landing, but I think he managed to make it okay for himself, and I realized that’s what I do. When I don’t like the ending, I have a whole section of my brain that’s Sarah’s Better Ending for Things, and I, I make up my own mental fanfic. I can tell you how my ending of some series went, because I stopped trusting the story as the wa-, as it was being told. Anita Blake is still badly dressed, she wears a fanny pack, her polo shirt still matches her socks, she’s raising the dead, and she probably isn’t having sex with anyone right now, because when the story went off the rails, I stopped reading it. Stephanie Plum: in my world, Stephanie Plum picked Morelli; now she flips houses. In my imagination, I win, so in my mental fanfic, I come up with my own alternate ending, and after a while I can forget about the one that sucked so bad and go back and read earlier books, but it does take some time. Part of the problem is that you have emotional fallout from a shit ending, and it’s okay to have emotional hangovers from a really, really, really bad ending.
Another thing you can do is actually go read fanfic. Someone is going to write a better ending. I think there were at least two versions on YouTube within the next 48 hours after the finale aired. That’s one of the best things about fanfic: there’s going to be an ending that you like, or there’s going to be a version that you like better. You can go find it and pretend that’s what happened. I used to do that with one of the CSIs. I think it was the one in New York. It wasn’t CSI: Original Recipe, I think it was CSI: Gary Sinise, but I didn’t like how the couples, two of the couples had ended up, so I read some fanfic, and it was all better! I could stop reading it and pretend that that was what happened. I have a very flexible imagination, is my point.
What you actually need is time to get over the emotional What the Hell? of the bad finale, and then find some fanfic or watch earlier shows and see if you can pick them up again. Yes, it sucks. Erasing the bad taste of a bad ending is really awful, and it is the worst kind of hangover, and it’s, I just, I don’t envy you. It sucks.
Another thing to do is read another series that ends well or a book that starts and ends perfectly. Savor how good it is, because when you know how bad it can get, it makes what’s really excellent seem even better. And I so feel your pain. Seriously, dude, I so feel it. I’m so sorry.
This is the rest of Divya’s letter:
A second tangential question: after the finale, I turned to romance novels for comfort and picked up Running Back by Allison Parr, which was free on Amazon. I loved it, and I also really enjoyed the previous book, Rush Me. I am so excited for Imaginary Lines to come out on April 14th because it features a Jewish couple and football. My enjoyment surprised me, because I had never liked a sports romance prior to these books. In fact, I don’t even enjoy football, probably from negative associations from working concession stands in high school, and I guess I now like sports in fiction! I then picked up Kat Latham’s rugby novels and loved them too. Do you have any other sports romances – it doesn’t have to be football – written in the same style of Latham and Parr? Please note, I’ve already tried Jaci Burton, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, and Rachel Gibson, and I was not impressed.
p.s. I love the April Fool’s posts from Dear Author and Smart Bitches. I guess it was a good thing the How I Met Your Mother finale aired the night before so I could feel a little better the next day, and thank you for letting me contribute, Jane.
Sarah: Okay. Sports romance. Yes, I do have some suggestions. There, it, it’s a real interesting difference, the Latham and Parr books versus Burton, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, and Rachel Gibson. There is definitely a unique difference. Here are some suggestions that might work for you, though.
First, if you like male/male, Tigers and Devils by Sean Kennedy might really make you very happy, and there’s another book that I really like that was set in the world of high school sports called Caught Running, but that is also male/male, and I don’t know if that’s your cup of reading tea. You may also like Toni Aleo or Ay-lee-o – I have never met her, so I have to ask her how to pronounce her name. She has a hockey series called the Assassins, and you may enjoy those. I think there are four or five by now. There’s also a hockey series by Deirdre Martin, and I thought that the Deirdre Martin hockey series was a bit uneven. Body Check was pretty good, but my absolute favorite was Power Play because it’s about a soap opera actress and a hockey star, and they just, oh, it was great chemistry. It was a wonderful book; I like that book a lot. I think it was Jane that recommended it to me, as well. If you’re into the possibility of cars, you should definitely read Erin McCarthy’s, what is it, like, a really fast flat-out set – I forget the name of the series. I mean, Erin McCarthy has stories about NASCAR, and I’m going to feel like an idiot for not remembering it, BUT Flat-Out Sexy is the first one, and it is hilarious. She is screamingly funny, like, wheezing out loud on the bus, people are staring at you funny. It’s set within a NASCAR-like world that’s not actually called NASCAR, except that it’s NASCAR. I don’t know if that is going to be of interest to you, but you might really like that. My final recommendation is Julie Brannagh’s series about a football team that starts with Blitzing Emily, and I know Julie worked really hard to make the football as accurate as possible. You might like Blitzing Emily, and I think it’s often on sale. Beyond that, if you have suggestions of great sports romances, please email us and let us know.
This next email is from Amanda:
Dear Sarah and Jane,
I love the podcast. Thanks for keeping me in the loop about the romance novel world when I am stuck in the stacks. I love that even though I don’t have time to read all that often, I can hear about the silly tropes and new books to look for when I have time. I have a few topics I would love to hear from you guys about. I apologize in advance for this lengthy email.
Sarah: Now, we already heard the first question, which was all about archaeology. She has a second and a third question, which I promised to come back to, and now we’re back! Her second question was:
I have a few questions about the New Adult genre. I have a really hard time reading these books. I myself am in my early 20s and what you might call New Adult, but this genre definitely isn’t marketing to me. Who is it marketing to?
Sarah: All right, well, you know, Jane and I have a difference of opinion about this, but my feeling is New Adult is actually targeted towards anyone who likes stories with an incredible amount of feeling and emotional intensity. That’s who it’s for. It doesn’t have to be a specific age group. I don’t think it has to be anyone who is a certain age or experience level. I know many people my own age, and I’m 38, who really dig New Adult, and that’s totally cool. I think that the type of reader that really goes for a New Adult title are the types of readers who like an incredible amount of emotion, particularly some difficult or challenging or sometimes painful emotions, and also really, really love to get deeply involved with characters. Jane once said to me, and I think it was on a podcast, but I can’t remember, that a lot of New Adult readers, they get addicted to the characters. It’s not even the story, they are hooked on the character, and I think she’s right. When you have a series that really grabs reader attention, it’s that emotional intensity mixed with characters that are in some way addictive or compelling or extra-extra compelling. So I don’t think there’s anything wrong with you if New Adult doesn’t float your boat. It doesn’t float mine either, so you’re not alone!
And the third question from Amanda is:
I was wondering how people felt about romance novels that begin with the hero or heroine in bed with another person. I’m specifically thinking of The Wicked Ways of a Duke by Laura Lee Guhrke, where the hero saves a maid from being raped in front of the heroine and then takes the maid home to have sex, leaving the heroine thinking that he’s such a great guy. However, it’s a trope I’ve noticed in a few books thus far. It always creeps me out, even though I know the characters haven’t met, etc., etc. I believe it’s there to introduce the sexual nature of the character, but it seems like an advance betrayal in a way to me.
Sarah: All right, I totally know what you mean there! I, I totally get it, yes, I know exactly what you mean. It doesn’t bother me, because I know there’s no commitment to the heroine; like, the they’re not together yet. He, he can totally do it, and one thing about historical romances from the ‘80s and the ‘90s was that [laughs] the hero was doing it all over the place! Those people had Teflon dicks. They never got sick! They would have sex with, like, nine hookers, and they would be totally fine. No romance hero has ever caught anything remotely bad from having sex with anything that moved, but yet, a lot of them did. I get that it bothers you, and I totally understand why. I think you’re right that it’s there in part to establish the sexual nature of the character and to also add a sort of ambiguity to the heroic nature of that character. You’re going to have to accept that they have sex with other people. I saw somebody on Twitter talking about a contemporary where the heroine sees the hero for the first time, and he’s getting head from a groupie or something, and she was like, I don’t want to read this book! That’s horrible! Well, apparently, he has quite a journey to make up for with that reader, and he might not make it. I understand why that’s a dealbreaker for some people. It’s totally understandable, and if it bothers you, there’s nothing wrong with that.
Our next email is from Rozanne. Rozanne has a bit of a rant, and I totally feel her pain.
Dear Sarah and Jane,
Thanks for your amazing podcast. It makes my commutes so much easier, and ever since I met Sarah at the Australian romance writers’ conference in Fremantle, it is hilarious to try and picture her expressions while she’s talking.
Sarah: I also talk with my hands, so you can’t see me, but I wave my hands a lot. It’s totally, like, face, hands, I wave my arms, yeah.
Something that Sarah has touched on briefly before is the price of Australian books. Paperbacks can sometimes sell for as much as 20 bucks apiece, and to add insult to injury, eBooks aren’t much better. Julie James’ books routinely sell for $7.99, and some more non-romance books, like Diablo Cody’s Candy Girl, sells for a cool $10. Eloisa James’s new release go for $16.99 as eBooks, and the hard covers are as high as $35. This means that when you do go to e-tailers for getting books, you have to be much more discerning and are less likely to take a risk on lesser-known authors. I once totaled up all the books talked about in a podcast, and it came in close to $150. [S: Ouch! Damn! Anyway.] In saying that, as a person who does not – ahem – ever look at torrenting sites, I often stumble across book bundles that look like they were placed there by the publishing houses, usually small independent publishers, in a way to spread the word about their books. Some of these are truly horrendous in the What the Hell category – Celine’s Seduction to Rubber is apparently one of these titles [S: Revolted noises] – and have the feel of male writers trying to masquerade as women while writing erotica. I know that the price of books isn’t a big deal in the U.S., but when you have authors complaining about the fact that their books get torrented, you have to ask if they are maybe not pricing themselves, or that their publishers are, out of the market. I’d be interested to hear what you guys think about pirated books and the future of eLibrary of book subscription services.
Thanks for your amazing podcast and websites,
Roz from Perth, Australia
Sarah: Hi, Roz! Perth! and Fremantle! are, like, so awesome. I, I love them so much! And your rainbows, like, seriously, you guys’ rainbows in Perth and Fremantle, they do not fuck around. They are, like, 45 feet wide. They are like, boom! I’m – They were the biggest frigging rainbows I’ve ever seen. Apparently, things are way more moist out there.
Yes, the price of books in Australia is completely horrible. I believe – and you would have to ask someone much more knowledgeable than me – that part of the reason that they are so expensive has to do with Australian tax law and the import and export licenses that are present in Australia. I know that when American writers sell a book to overseas publishers, it’s a separate operation a lot of the times from the American publishers. So you may have a writer who’s with Harper Collins in the U.S., but they may be bought by Penguin in Australia, and Pan Macmillan may have their books in Australia and not Macmillan in the U.S. Sometimes it’s a bunch of different people and a bunch of different publishers. The prices are set in part, I believe – and I could be incorrect – partially due to the tax laws and the rules about importing goods in Australia, and also, the prices were set at a time when the Australian dollar was not near equal to the American dollar, and it has been, for a while, near parity, I believe. Yep, totally just looked it up, and it’s, like, 9:15 p.m. my time on Wednesday night, which means it’s 9:15 a.m. on Thursday in Perth, and one Australian dollar is 93 U.S. cents, so it’s damn near parity. The fact that the books are so much more is horrible. It sucks. It completely, utterly blows. It’s almost as bad as the How I Met Your Mother finale. It, I don’t understand it, and it’s terrifying when I go into a bookstore in Australia and the books are, like, horrifyingly expensive. This makes sense to me, that you don’t want to try a new author, and it’s more difficult to take risks, and I wish that there were more sales for you guys that applied. One of the things that frustrates me when I do the eBook sales is that because I am located in the United States, I can’t even see Australian prices, and I regularly have to ask people to check links for me that can verify that the price is what I think it should be, because I can’t see it. The whole geographic boundary thing is just completely bonkers for me anyway, in, in pertains to eBooks.
As for the future of eLibrary book subscription services, I think that they are a tremendous deal for places where the books are so fleepin expensive, and Australia would make a big bucket of money if they came up with a good eBook subscription model. In the U.S., the prices are still hopping around. Like, this week, Amazon had some books on sale for 63 cents, and then there was one for $4.27, and I said on Twitter, like, Amazon’s going to start pricing books as, you know, pi, omega, some currency that doesn’t exist anymore! Their way of pricing books is so experimental, it’s kind of all over the place. So our prices sort of wiggle a little bit, and I think because of the way that our eBook prices have changed due to the Department of Justice settlement with various publishing houses about the agency model, more readers are changing the way they think about book prices. As for Australia, I completely understand that all of your perspective about book prices is along the lines of, Jesus Christ, what the hell?!
In terms of pirated books, that is a much, much larger question. Are books pirated because the prices are egregious? Yep. Are books pirated because people don’t want to play, pay money at all for books? Yep. There was a presentation a number of years ago from Mike Tamblyn at Kobo about the data that they had discovered about how people buy books, when they read, what they read, and when they’re more likely to purchase versus buy a book. One of the things that he talked about was the people who pay for books, they are most active within a certain range of price points, and the people who are very actively pursuing books that are free, who he called freegans, they like books that are free, and from his data he said it was very difficult to convert a freegan into a paygan, someone who would pay for books. People who want free books want free books; they’re not going to pay for them. However – and this is the part that’s a little bit more controversial, I suppose, and will most likely make a few authors grit their teeth and snarl at the radio or whatever they’re listening this to, and I apologize – piracy is the price of doing business in a digital world. It’s just going to happen. You have to accept that it happens, and it’s not worth trying to make yourself absolutely bananas to make it stop. It’s not going to stop. If you open a store, you have to assume some loss due to theft, due to breakage, and you recognize that a certain percent of your inventory is going to be lost to situations outside of your control. Someone’s going to steal it, someone’s going to shoplift, someone’s going to knock stuff down, maybe it gets broken. There is a certain amount of loss assumed, and the same thing has to be true with digital publishing and publishing in general. A certain percentage is going to be lost to piracy. It is a thing that happens.
Book discovery is such a nebulous, confusing, multifaceted, ever-changing thing. It’s like that ball of goo in my husband’s lava lamp from college that never stopped moving. Yes, he had a lava lamp. We still have it. I couldn-, I, I, I couldn’t throw it away because he was too upset. But yes, discovery is like your lava lamp; it always changes, especially if you leave it on all night. You can’t predict how someone’s going to discover your book. Piracy, in a way, is still discovery. It’s not the most optimal method, it makes people mad, it sucks, it’s a profit loss, but it’s still discovery. I think it is much, much worse that no one ever pirates a book than if someone pirates it at all. Or once, or twice.
And we have one more listener email! This one is a music recommendation. This is from T.J.:
You guys are great. Thanks for the laughs! Just wanted to suggest some music for your podcast. The guy is Amos Lee. He has such a great voice, but he sings really sexy songs. His song “Arms of a Woman” is just amazing. It is on YouTube. Oh, and check out Voodoo Doughnut Live in Portland with Amos Lee. I would like to hear that song on the radio. I love to read romance, and I’m all over town on the music I like, but I stumbled across this guy last fall and have truly fallen in love with his live music. I am usually the one who says I would rather hear it on the CD, but this guy is fun to watch and listen to. I hope you guys are doing great. Have a fantastic weekend, and thank you to Sarah, who answered a question for me last week about Honey Moon. I’m glad I’m not the only one hate, hate, hating that book.
Sarah: Oh, T.J., Honey Moon and me, we do not get on! I cannot feature music that I don’t have permission to feature. One of the awesome things about Sassy Outwater is that she produces a lot of these artists and gets their permission for me to feature their art, their art and their music on the podcast. So, apparently the Peatbog Faeries were like, go ahead! All the music, you can feature it. The various artists that she’s sent me, she’s gotten the okay, but I don’t have the okay to feature Amos Lee. That said, I will totally link to this stuff in the entry, because awesome, and also, interesting trivia, Candy, who cofounded the site with me in 2005, got married at Voodoo Doughnut in Portland. True story! I think she had the doughnut with the, with the pretzel through its heart; hence, Voodoo Doughnut. But thank you for the email about music, because one of the things that I really like is how much I have discovered new music from doing the podcasts, and I didn’t think that was something I was really going to get into.
Sarah: And that is all for this week’s podcast. I hope you enjoyed both our down-the-well interview with Maya Banks and some of the email that we’ve received, ‘cause they were awesome!
The music that you’re listening to was provided by Sassy Outwater. This is Sassy herself, and she is playing “Fiddler on the Loose.” I don’t know if this was recorded just for us, if she wrote it, if it was a composition, but that’s Sassy and her fiddle, and it’s really cool! I don’t think this track is available for sale, but the next time I speak to her, I’ll ask her if we can all buy a copy, ‘cause it’s pretty rad, right?
Our sponsor, InterMix, would like you to know about The Kraken King, parts I and II, by Meljean Brook. This all-new e-serial novel is a sexy steampunk adventure with installments available beginning April 15th. So if you like serials, if you like steampunk, if you like sexy adventure, if you like things involving kraken, this should make you very happy. It is available wherever eBooks are sold.
And if you like the podcast, you can subscribe to our feed, you can find us on Facebook, or if you really, really don’t like any of the things that were said or you disagree or you want to yell at me about my somewhat mellow attitude towards piracy – which, you know, I’ve developed over a long time – you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can call and leave us a Google voicemail at 1-201-371-DBSA. Please don’t forget to give us your name and where you’re calling from so we can include your message in a podcast. But most of all, you can also talk to us in the comments. You can talk to us on Twitter. I’m @SmartBitches, Jane is @DearAuthor, we’re generally around, and if you really disagree or you want to have an idea for a podcast, please let me know, ‘cause we totally want to hear it.
Future podcasts will involve very cool interviews with inter-, with a writer who doesn’t write romance but wrote a really cool nonfiction book that I think you’re going to be very curious about, and then we’re going to be at RT, and I am going to attempt to hogtie many, many authors and interview them, or just chase them with a microphone until I can throw them down a well. Are there any wells at the hotel? I’m going to have to find out.
Either way, wherever you are, Maya Banks and Jane and I all wish you the very best of reading. Thank you for listening.
[sassy music, of course]