Thursday, October 13, 2016


by Giselle Renarde

I started hearing this song on the radio a couple months back--"Only Happy When It Rains." I kept thinking how much I enjoyed it. The lyrics spoke to me and I liked the sound.

Last Friday, by chance, I caught a concert of indie and alternative rock on PBS. One of the bands performing was called Garbage. That's how I found out who'd been singing that song on the radio: Garbage.

That's how I found out when the song came out: 1995.

I was in high school in 1995. If I could go back, I'd spend my teen years listening to grunge and punk and... I don't know. I still don't know what's cool. When I was a high school student I listened to a classical radio station and Broadway musicals. My best friend in Grade Nine loved Iggy Pop. I should have followed her lead.

Anyway, doesn't matter. I can't go back in time. The point I'm trying to make is that this song is 20 years old, but it's new to me because I didn't listen to cool-kid music back then. Everything we create--as artists, musicians, writers--isn't just new the day it comes out. A song is new forever to new listeners. A book is always new to new readers.

I know we're talking about obscenity this week, but I can't help piggybacking on Cameron's post because he makes so many salient points. The point I'm particularly interested in is this: just because Amazon is huge doesn't mean it's the be-all and end-all, especially for those of us who write erotica.

Cameron mentions faring better at other vendors writing erotica that's so dirty Amazon won't have it. This has been my experience too.

But wait... there's more!

In my experience, having a big backlist (haha, yeah I know) doesn't do you a lick of good at Amazon. Amazon's algorithms favour what's new. And new, to Amazon, doesn't mean NEW TO YOU. It means PUBLISHED THIS WEEK. Once a book's been available for more than a month, it might as well not exist unless you've got a steady stream of sales to keep it afloat. Some authors have that. I sure as hell don't.

Things are different at the other stores--Kobo, iTunes, Barnes and Noble, all those. Not that I'm particularly a fan of any ebook retailer, but I do prefer the ones where my books sell not wildly, but consistently over time.

Tax-wise, I don't know how royalties are reported in other countries, but here in Canada royalties from artistic works or inventions are reported on a T5--a statement of investment income. That's how I like to think of my books: as investments. I don't expect to do the work today and get paid for it consistently at two-week intervals. That work needs to pay off over the course decades. After I die, it'll keep earning money for my heirs (okay, my cats).

Most of my readers don't know I exist yet. They haven't found me. I haven't found them. Some of them haven't even been born. Twenty years from now a reader will find something I wrote tomorrow and it'll be new to them. I'll be new to them.

You can't be forever new with a vendor that consistently sweeps books under the rug. Discoverability is important. But ultimately? Stores will come and stores will go. Readers and writers will stay.
And as long as we're talking about sex and depression (are we?), I just released a lesbian erotic short called Bobbing for Peaches and I'm telling you about it because it's free at most ebook stores.

Just a little gift to readers.


  1. Excellent points, Giselle. Once again, a post that gives me hope!

  2. I had a friend named 'Garbage'. He used to be 'Captain Garbage', but he shortened it. Before that he was known as 'Captain Kidd'. A Bucks Co. Pa. heavyweight. Anybody hip to the "Holy Modal Rounders"? Musician Michael Hurley? That crowd.

  3. Last January at a convention I hosted a get-together for LGBTQ+ readers and writers. There was one young person who said they didn't identify as any particular type of queer, they just thought of themselves as Garbage. After a chorus of "You're not garbage!" this person said they didn't mind being Garbage, in fact they rather liked it. I had a feeling then that I was missing some context, something clear to the young that I was too old and ignorant to understand. Maybe the band named Garbage had something to do with it--except that the band was apparently around twenty years ago. Even twenty hers ago I was past being au courant with cutting edge music. Sigh.

  4. Ah, Garbage. You bring back the memories. When I was in high school, my closest friends and I each had a singer we worshiped and identified with. We listened to each others' deities, but we each exalted one higher than the rest. I wasn't the one who admired Garbage's Shirley Manson above all else (I was utterly devoted to Trent Reznor/Nine Inch Nails), but I definitely spent a lot of time listening to Garbage. (The other singers/deities, in case you're curious, were Ani DiFranco and Tori Amos).

    It's weird now to hear some Garbage songs. ("Queer" felt transgressive and sexy at the time, but now it sort of bothers me...) On the other hand, I'll love "Milk" forever, and "Only Happy When It Rains" is an excellent karaoke song.

    To your larger point, it's really important to remember that what's new to me isn't necessarily what's new. For example, I discovered The Cure in my twenties. Where had that been all my life? And how deeply do I wish I'd had more years of it.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.