Monday, August 27, 2012

Bow Down Before Me, Fools!

It has come to my attention that some of the world thinks that I am an egotistical jerk because of my response to the person who contacted me regarding the titling of Dead River.

Why, yes, I am. I am SOOOOOO important, being published by a Big-6 publisher, and you all, if you are not, are nothing.

I've found there is no way for me to say who my publisher is without looking like a big, conceited blow-hard, which is why I deleted part of the post. (Thank goodness for screen shots!) Actually, here's the thing: Being published by a major publisher does not make an author feel better than anyone else-- in fact, usually, it scares the crap out of them.

I know, boo-hoo-hoo, you got paid to write and aw it's so awful. Go shut up now, Cyn. I'll admit, that part is awesome! But:

Firstly, when it happens, you think that you're a fluke. You think that just about anyone in the world, even a few monkeys working in a room round the clock for a year, can ALSO be published by a major publisher, if only the stars aligned correctly.

Secondly, because of the first point, you live in fear that you will never have another book published. You likely got an okay advance, and so your life is devoted to making sure that advance earns out to please the "Big Publisher Gods" that you "work" for.  You become a slave to the numbers, because you want to make this your career and you want your bosses to be happy with you and not think you're a big turd. 

Thirdly, because you are not Suzanne Collins, you did not get as much promotion as you would have expected from a large publisher. In fact, you probably got next to nothing. And so while you are sitting at a signing twiddling your thumbs and watching people snatch your bookmarks away and use them as tissues, you think of all the money that YOU YOURSELF put into those bookmarks, and wonder if you should have spent ALL your advance money on promoting yourself, instead of half of it. You set up a blog and a website and a facebook and twitter account even though you don't like all that crap and are a very private person, just because you know that's what they expect of you. You wrack your head trying to think of things to tell people that are interesting, so they don't forget about you and your books, and meanwhile because you are a social nitwit you make it seem like you are a conceited jerk who hates reviewers and writers and basically anyone who might read your book.

Fourthly, also because you are not Suzanne Collins, when your editor tells you to change this, you change it.  When they tell you to go to this place, you go there. When they tell you to spin around in circles while patting your head and rubbing your belly, you do that, too. Because they know what they're doing... they work for a well-known publisher, after all. And I could be a monkey. I don't pretend for one moment that I have any sparkling knowledge or talent that nobody else has. This isn't about "art", and about how sparkly and wondrous and unique your prose is, and how like murdering baby chipmunks it would be to alter it. It's about business. It's about you-and-your-work-are-not-divine. It's about what will sell. And the team at a publisher works hard to figure that out. So I couldn't change the title of Dead River if I wanted to. It's in my publisher's hands. If they thought it would sell better if it were called Poop River, I'd go with it. Reluctantly.

Those are what I can think of off the top of my head. I know I am hugely fortunate to have been published by a major publisher, and NOT the other way around-- it's a dream I've had since I was a kid. Despite the above, it's still wonderful. And it's one I know that anyone can experience, should they choose, with the right amount of luck and patience.  And maybe a monkey.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Proper Care and Feeding of Trolls...

I don't have a green thumb at all. Every plant kept in my presence will usually wilt to a stalk. It's not that I possess a Medusa-like ability to just glance at something and make it lifeless... it's just that I'm scattered and usually forget. I ignore.

However, I've learned that while this is a terrible curse with plants and pets, it's actually a gift when it comes to trolls.  Trolls do not like being ignored. When you're not paying attention to them, they die quickly.

The problem is, it's easy to ignore a plant. It's not so easy to ignore something that's going "Look at me! Look at me!  Wanna fight?"

But that's the best thing to do. Because some people just live to get a rise out of people. That's all the exist for. It's a pretty pathetic existence, but perhaps they're used to being ignored in their own lives. This is their attention-grab.

Yesterday I made the mistake of responding to a troll. You see, I get a few emails a day from people I don't know, and I try to respond to all of them. I feel a little guilty when I don't, and I usually enjoy corresponding with readers. If you read yesterday's blog post, you'll see the email. It was slightly rude, insinuating I was unprofessional, but I've been called a lot worse in my life, and his concern was one I'd once had. So I felt I could respond and explain what I'd learned from my experience. I know had I been in that situation, I'd have appreciated the knowledge.

Well, the situation escalated. After I received an argumentative response to my email, I emailed and stated that I would not be responding to further comments.  It was obvious at that point that he was just looking for a fight. As I was moving to block his email, I received a barrage of emails, calling me a rash of insulting names which I can't even repeat here since I only skimmed and then deleted.

That was not my first run-in with a troll, but I felt the same as I had the first time, like that was 20 minutes of my life I'll never get back. A total waste of time. You can't fix stupid, and you can't reason with someone who is looking for a fight simply because they like fighting. The best thing you can do is walk away.  If I'd been smarter, I wouldn't have answered at all and would have referred this person over to my publisher, who would have ignored him. That's what, in hindsight, I should have done.

The proper care and feeding of trolls is simple. Don't. Because if they capture your attention, they'll capture you. They'll win.  So don't let them win. Ignore them, and let them die.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Two Books, One Title...

I received this letter this morning:

RE: The Novel Title "Dead River"

Are you aware that the title of your new novel is the same as another novel published February 2010?

Professional courtesy would call for you to change the title of your novel to avoid confusion even though the genres are different.

Most all professional writers do due diligence and check titles of published novels so these conflicts do not occur.

(Name Redacted)

My response was this:

Dear (Name Redacted):
I am aware of this. However, I believe "most all professional writers" are aware that book titles can not be copyrighted. And because there are millions of books on Amazon, with thousands being added every day, it is a very common occurance for books to have the same title. I am actually surprised there are not more books entitled "Dead River", considering there a quite a few Dead Rivers in the United States, and it does make for a very creepy title.

 The book you are referencing came out awhile ago, and it's not the same genre, so there can be little confusion. I would like to point out to you my novel SLEEPLESS, which came out in 2010. If you check it on Amazon, you will see MANY books with that title. Ironically, two of them are the same genre as mine. Yet, I have never once had my titles confused with theirs. Another book of mine, TOUCHED, which came out this month, shares its title with another book in the same genre, coming out later this year. I consider those to be closer matches than what you have provided me, and yet, as I have learned, there is little reason to be concerned.

 I am fortunate to be working with a major publisher who regularly consults the market and makes determinations for me as to what my titles should be. If they have any concerns over conflict, believe me, they would address them.

 Thank you for your concern.

 Cyn Balog

FAIRY TALE (Delacorte, out now!)
SLEEPLESS (Delacorte, out now!)
STARSTRUCK (Delacorte, out now!)
TOUCHED (Delacorte, out now!)
DEAD RIVER (Delacorte, April 9, 2013)

What are your thoughts about two books having the same title?

UPDATE: The person who contacted me earlier responded. The response is so laughable that I should probably not feed the troll, but sometimes I can't help myself.

Of course titles can not be copyrighted, you missed the point. This is not a legal issue but a professional one.
I already stated below, the genres are not the same, however, there still could be confusion having the same title ...
Your publisher may want to do a better job next time.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Glamorous Release Day

TOUCHED releases today.


I have read so many release day stories, which included book signings, travelling to bookstores, parties with cake and friends and champagne and all those good things.

But me? Today, I'm going to work. I'll eat lunch at my desk. I'll come home and take my daughter for her yearly physical. I will go to bed. I will not have received any congratulations from anyone in my "real" life about the release of my book. All the people that I deal with on a daily basis do not know it's release date for me. They know I'm an author, but they don't read, so they don't really care.

So that's release day. Pretty much just like any other day in my life.

But here's why I'm grateful. I have some really great online critique partners and friends that have helped me with TOUCHED, and I know that the book never would have made it into print without their help. Heather, Teri, Maggie, Mandy, Karen, and Brooke, I'm looking at you! Also, I owe the team at Delacorte and my agent, Jim, a huge debt of gratitude for putting up with my craziness. And I can not forget the bloggers who have taken the time to review TOUCHED and my other books on their blogs. And lastly, but most importantly, to all the readers... thank you. My day may be very ordinary, but I'm still releasing A BOOK, my 4th one, and to me, that's extraordinary, and all because of you.

ETA: I've learned that Barnes & Noble IS carrying TOUCHED!! This has made me so happy. Thank you to everyone for the congratulations, for helping me to spread the word, and most of all, for reading my work. It means so much to me. 

Sunday, August 5, 2012

YA Fest ReCap!

Well, the first YA Fest is history, and I think it was a huge success. It was last year, while I was planning to attend the Rochester Teen Book Festival, that I told Jen Murgia that I was excited about the event, but lamented that there weren't any YA events in the Lehigh Valley. "Wouldn't it be cool," I said, "If we could have one RIGHT HERE?"

Walking in to the festival yesterday morning, it was like Jen and everyone involved, had plucked the dream right out of my head and made it a reality.  I got a little teary-eyed, seeing everything they had done.  First-time events are rarely perfect, and of course there were minor bumps, but all-in-all, the event was as perfect as I could have ever imagined.  Just a whole slew of people (and yes, it was packed!) who enjoyed YA and books as much as I do.

Me and Jen (and all our neat swag!)

Josh Berk and Jeff Hirsch signing books and chatting with fans!

MasterBerk Theater Live was a hit. Even Magic Sea Otter would agree. We also learned that Jeff Hirsch and Margie Gelbwasser are shameless liars and that Jon Skovron will stop at nothing in the name of research. And, we now hold the world record for the largest number of YA authors reading from a YA book at once, or something like that. Yay, us! Here's the video:

Jen got her very own Angel Star!

It was standing-room only at some of the author panels. Here Anne Greenwood Brown, Charles Benoit, Barbara Dee, and Michelle Zink talk about their books.

 Shannon Delaney talks to fans.

Michael Northrop signs books.

I just want to thank everyone involved, especially the Stephanie Supinski, the Volunteens, and everyone at the Easton Library. You truly made it a special day for all of us!  I hope we can do it again next year!