Sunday, April 09, 2006

Did You Hear the Earth Shake?!?

Did you hear the earth shake this week?

It happened. At least twice.

The first time was on Wednesday when Apple announced new software that will allow users to run Microsoft's Windows XP operating system on Apple's Macs.

For years, Mac users have complained because they could not run the popular Microsoft Windows on their computers. Now, Boot Camp, a free download available from Apple, will permit users to install Windows XP on the newer Intel-based Macs. Users will still need to purchase the Microsoft software.

Industry insiders believe that this move will help Apple (whose stock jumped 10% on the day the news was announced). Currently Microsoft dominates the PC market where it is estimated that Windows runs on 90% to 95% of all computers. By contrast, Mac accounts for between 3% and 5% of all computers.

According to Samir Bhavnani talking to, "Apple's move to reach out to Windows users is a promising step toward increasing the Mac's market share." He also noted "that the iPod's popularity exploded once Apple made its iTunes software available to Windows users."

Apparently the lessons iPod taught have not been lost on Apple.

The second time the earth moved this week was on Friday when Gail Northman of Triskelion Publishing, a small e-publisher, announced that her company has now received RWA "recognized publisher status."

For those of you who are not romance writers, there has been an increasingly heated controversy inside the venerable Romance Writers of America (RWA) over the last year.

Backstory: RWA has a process by which it okays publishers by conferring "recognized" status on them. This initiative began with good intentions--to prevent authors from being scammed by illegitimate con artists and vanity publishers. To accomplish this, RWA set guidelines for "recognized publishers," those publishers that romance authors could trust.

The last time I saw the guidelines, they stated the a recognized publisher should be: "A royalty-paying publishing house that (1) is not a subsidy or vanity publisher (2) has been releasing books via national distribution for a minimum of one year, and (3) has sold a minimum of 1,500 hardcover or trade paperback copies or 5,000 copies in any other format, including print on demand, of a single romance novel or novella or collection of novellas in book form, in bona fide arms-length transactions, and continues to sell a minimum of 1,500 hardcover or trade paperback copies or 5,000 copies in any other format of a subsequent romance novel each year."

I just received my renewal notice for RWA. Next month will mark my second anniversary as a member. During my entire tenure, the only e-publisher on RWA's approved list has been Ellora's Cave (

There has been an increasing undercurrent of dissatisfaction from e-pubbed authors who felt that RWA was being unnecessarily harsh and legalistic in reviewing publisher applications. Some authors felt that RWA was deliberately dissing the world of electronic publishing and them, as writers.

By extension of RWA's definition, authors who were pubbed by publishers not on the recognized list were not "recognized authors." This has created a two-tiered system, with RWA refusing to even allow non-recognized authors' websites to be listed on the RWA website. This means that romance authors with multiple novels, novellas and short stories published by houses such as Loose Id, Liquid Silver, Red Sage, Amber Quill, Whiskey Creek Press and Triskelion are NOT considered published by the organization charged with promoting romance writers.

RWA tried to assuage bad feelings by encouraging non-recognized authors to join PRO, a RWA internal sub-group marking authors as "professional" if they had submitted a manuscript to an editor or publisher--even if it was rejected. I have never bothered to join PRO because, frankly, I didn't see the point.

Interestingly enough, ALSO this week, Anna Genoese (editor at Tor) voiced her opinion of the whole PRO make-the-little-author-feel-special-thing on her blog (

It's probably just a coincidence that, after at least four months of submitting paperwork to RWA to become recognized and being told that they hadn't gotten it right yet, Triskelion received "recognized" status two days later.

Triskelion HAS been particularly assertive in saying in effect, "We meet the guidelines that RWA set. You cannot now turn around and read the rules differently or demand something else from us."

At any rate, two solid walls cracked this week. Apple and RWA. I, for one, will celebrate both events.

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