Today in stupid advice

I can’t even pretend to be polite about this. It’s ridiculous.

Yes, some of the greatest SF/F writers out there love to read SF/F, some don’t.

As a writer you should love to read. If you don’t read you … it’s hard to explain but consider it Furthering Education or whatever the devil that modern phrase for it is when teachers are required to go back to college every few years kinda thing.

But reading should be something you love.

This and it’s myriad copies (seriously, I find it both terrifyingly cult-like as well as exceedingly telling that these are always worded nigh identically) are phrased in a way that clearly implies “so you known what is selling right now and you can write that”.

I call bullshit.

Don’t believe me? Follow editors and they’re all wanting to see something new and different and lament all the agents who’re only accepting the tried and true.

Look at how many clones of Twilight failed to garner its numbers. The Harry Potter knockoffs. Too, look at the insane number of people of all ages who prefer YA because it’s where they can find something different … to say nothing of YA not actually needing a special genre tag for “this isn’t depressing, dark, etc”.

In short the people like Ms Dawson who say this are horribly out of touch.

You want advice on writing? Look to the successful writers: Ed Greenwood, Neil Gaimen, Terry Pratchett, Spider Robinson, J K Rowling, Saladin Ahmed, Jeph Jacques …

What do they all have in common? They didn’t look at their own genre for anything. Not really. Pratchett’s Discworld stuff started out parodying Dragon Riders of Pern which is a fantasy novel, but I’m pretty sure that is not what the Dawsons of the world mean.

In many cases they utterly defy genre. Ben Bova acknowledges that Spider’s stuff is not, strictly speaking (and doubly so back when Ben was editor of a major SF magazine!) SciFi, but where the hell else could Spider’s stuff find a home?! It definitely wasn’t Romance, Horror, Mystery, or Western. It could be called SF/F if you squinted and turned your head upside-down … so, what the hell! True, Spider reads SF/F … because he likes a good Heinlein, not because it has anything to do with his work.

Ed Greenwood is a librarian whose home is packed to the gills with tens of thousands of books, all of which he has read. So, okay, yeah he reads Fantasy … and cooking, and architecture, and biology, and mystery, and horror, and poetry, and … he just likes books. And that diversity of tastes influences his work.

The thing is, do your thing. Whatever that thing may be. Try to sell it to an agent if you like, but agents are … no one’s sure why … a bit obsessed with finding the next big clone of the current hot trend; like it costs them anything to accept something great and just actually do their flippin’ job! But publishers won’t let their editors accept unagented stuff anymore. But luckily traditional publishing is really just great for an advance which is pretty paltry and for being distributed by Ingram which I probably misspelled and don’t care but is also pretty much the distributor for All Things Book for US audiences (sad but true, Reagan & Bush’s dismantling of antitrust laws was a Bad Thing … not that publishing much got enforcement of them anyway).

Still, as truly awful as they are (and words can’t express how awful they are) it’s as effective or more so to be available on Amazon which is easy enough to do. Though I’ll be damned if I’ll engage in the modern day slavery of Kindle Unlimited (exclusivity to Amazon and I make a piece if an arbitrary sized pie made of pocket change that Amazon sets?! Fuck that.)

But read what you like, write what you like. And remember: Ursula Vernon doesn’t read SF/F. But she writes it and can’t seem to stay off the bestseller lists 🤷‍♀️.

Happy holidays

81KX3TFsgwL._SL1500_I should have posted this sooner, but I’ve had a distracting week.  Some of it good, too much of it bad.

Regardless, Now & Forever is on sale for the entire month of December wherever it’s possible (which pretty much just means Not Nook, though some Amazon stores might not have marked it down properly either).71jhJo-DxUL._SL1500_

Regardless:  Where I could do so Love or Lust is FREE!  And Ready or Not is half off!

As always, this exclusively applies to the eBooks.  The way the print books are done gives me almost no promotional capacity myself.  Also, the books are sold at very little profit so promotions on the print edition would not go well.

 

Getting fed up with Amazon

Warning:  I’m highly annoyed, in a foul mood, and not much inclined to be remotely charitable to a certain major corporation just now.

Well, my 75% off sale is up and going. … except Amazon.

They were one of the first places I set the sale, but they haven’t seen fit to post the new price.

I contacted their support and, after an unprofessionally long wait (most others respond within hours if not minutes, Amazon typically is best measured in days) they replied … the price change page hadn’t loaded properly so a key step was missed. Lovely of then to finally say so this morning. Got it sorted, and it’s been almost 12hrs … still no change. Should I mention that the price hasn’t even dropped through automatic price matching yet?!

This is not my first issue with Amazon, and I imagine it will not be my last. Simply put, they can be decently professional to their consumers, to judge by anecdotes at work, if people need to return or exchange something, but in their inter-professional dealings they are, frankly, insulting. So much so that if they were not currently such a major bookseller that I sell more copies per month there than I do in all other estores combined in a quarter, I’d drop them.

They have the slowest response time when contacted for issues and their responses are less attentive to what was said. Their terms are among the worst in the industry. Their format is obtuse and needlessly complex; not to mention stiflingly proprietary. Their KDP site, while not horrible, is not so intuitive as others. Finally there is the treatment: you are a charity and potential customer, not a serious business interaction – you are inundated with offers for premium services you can buy and denied options afforded to larger publishing houses (pre-orders and certain options that Tor has without exclusivity that little ol’ me mayn’t have).

Why say all of this? Information is a powerful tool. Most people perceive Amazon and Kindle in a very positive light. Certainly they are not Satan manifest, but neither are they the greatest company on Earth.

For those who prefer companies that treat everyone interacting with them with equal respect and professionalism I recommend Apple, Kobo, and the group behind All Romance eBooks (all of whom carry my book).

I’m not saying to cease using Amazon nor to trash your Kindle … but if you are already feeling a bit dissatisfied, perhaps this is one more reason to look at that iPad or similar you’ve been eyeing.

Still room in the next edition

I know a lot of you following this blog are authors, and virtually all of you who are authors are of the indie sort.

We all know exposure is hard to come by.  Our books can’t sell if no one knows they exist!  So, we need rooftops to shout from, metaphorical as well as physical.

Indie Book Buffet‘s second edition isn’t full yet.  This magical link will whisk you away on ethereal winds to the form where you submit your title to them.

It’s free, the people who run the eZine are very friendly and wonderful.  It’s win-win.  Even better?  It can only work better.  I was in the first issue, yet there clearly were people who read the zine, the give-away I was part of had its 5 winners (all of whom got a free copy of Love or Lust from DriveThruFiction).

So!  Go on, check it out, you know you want to.

Finally on Kobo

150x40_koboAny Kobo users out there?

Love or Lust can now be found there!

It never fails

No matter how hard we try there’s always something in our final, published to the public, books that is just plain wrong.

Today I noticed three.

The first came from the beautiful (truly, these are just stunningprint copies of Love or Lust that arrived today:  in the print version there’s a blank page between chapters 20 and 21.  It’s not there in the .docx file.  It’s a quirk of converting to PDF – something I had to do to get the very pretty fonts for the title page, headers, and chapter names.

The second was a sudden realisation:  I was using a draft copy of the copyright notice where I hadn’t made a final decision about the art yet!  I hadn’t listed the very talented photographer who’d taken that picture as I ought’ve.  This has been remedied.  Very sorry Oteo.

Finally, despite, I swear, copying and pasting the name from their website since I can’t bloody spell it to save my life, I still had Juilliard misspelt in all three places I refer to it ~head hung in shame~.  I have now added the first i to the word.

Let it never be said that publishing, in any regard, isn’t an adventure.

Mounting anxiety

The end of Love or Lust is in sight. Saturday is on the horizon. I feel sick to my stomach.

Publishing a book is quite easy, from a technical standpoint. I could have done it a year ago today. I had the book typed, and myriad places would have taken a PDF or DOC file. But, that’s not good.

First there’s editing. My but what a knock to the ego to see all those mistakes! And even the technically good sentences and paragraphs that leave you thinking, Good God! What in Hell was I thinking?!

Once that’s done, the paranoid among us must proofread it again, and the perfectionists among us (sadly, that’s me – I’m lazy out of self defence, once I elect to do something …) can’t just look for spelling errors, we must reread the text and tweak dialogue and word choice.

Somewhere in here is agonising if you wish to publish this yourself or give it over to another to do. If you elect the agented route you have the headache of query letters and heartbreak of rejection after rejection – or increasingly more popular, no response whatsoever (silent rejection). Should you luck into an agent (or unluck, depending one’s philosophy at this juncture) there’s the agony of waiting while she (ever notice how many agents are women? I wonder why) shops it to publishers, then waiting for them to put you on a shelf.

Even on your own, you aren’t done at editing. God no. Formatting! Do you want a print edition? Better learn about gutters. Do you want page numbers? The title and author in alternating hearders? Layout is a wretch. You get better at it with practice, learn to preset as much of that before you start typing (and styles are my best friends). Exporting to MOBI and EPUB.

Personally I don’t care for the method Smashwords uses to convert documents. I make them in Pages, Adobe InDesign, or PubIt (Barnes & Noble epublishing service) then edit them with a text editor (Komodo is my favourite for this) because it never fails that SOMETHING will be wrong. The only thing I trust to get my MOBI files (Kindle) correct is Adobe InDesign with Amazon’s Kindle plugin.

A cover! Good Lord, you forgot a cover! Image searching! Find an artist! Can you afford an artist?! Creative Commons search? CreateSpace image library and cover creator?

Whew, we have a cover. Is its resolution correct? What do you mean the image size needs to be A x B on this service, but D x F on this other one?! ~sob~ Second guessing time! Oh, God, does this cover actually work? No, it’s stupid … no, no, it’s okay …

Then the anticipation. You’ve got it all done. The day is approaching. Th publisher says 29 June, or you picked it. It’s like waiting for Christmas, but not the excitement of what Father Christmas will bring, but the horror of just what monstrosity is lurking in that package from Aunt Phillis. You are equal parts terrified the book won’t sell a single copy, your own MOTHER didn’t buy it! That it will sell hundreds of copies in an hour and the next day a flood of criticism, negative reviews, peasants carrying pitchforks and torches beating on the door demanding your blood! Or, God help you, it sells, it ACTUALLY SELLS! Well, even. God help you, you’re a celebrity! Nightmares ensue of paparazzi being eaten by you dogs, and pictures of you in the bath showing up in National Enquirer

Publishing a book is very hard on the psyche.

Getting caught up

Well my debacle with Word did set me back a few days, unfortunately, but I’m managing to catch up. Tonight I’m as far along as I should have been this time Thursday. Given that I spent the better part of Thursday catching back up to this time Monday, though … that’s progress.

As of right now I still assume 29 June will be the release date. I intend to double my editing time, not only to the catch up point but to the end. What that ought to do is finish this proofread with a week to spare so I can spend that time quintiple checking the eBooks are working properly and that the print edition is not off centre.

I’m pretty much decided on us$3.99 or $4.99 for the ePrice. This seems most consistent with the length of this story in this genre, competitively priced against the big press books, a dollar or two cheaper, but still high enough to be taken seriously. That said I’m half tempted to make it 99¢ and leave it there just to see what happens.

I’m going to start working on some Project Wonderful ads, so keep an eye out for those if you’re the sort to take interest in such things. Just don’t expect great things; my Photoshop and GIMP skills are less than elite, they’re potentially less than amateur in fact.

We shall see.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m excited. Less than a fortnight left to go! I think I may be sick.

Warning for Writers: Beware Tony Giangregorio and Open Casket Press

This is absolutely disgraceful.
Sadly, all too common. People like to prey on authors – it’s so hard to get published (traditionally speaking, of course) and regardless how one gets published just as hard or harder to get noticed and read …

STANT LITORE

I want to pass on a warning to young writers in the horror genre (and perhaps to readers, too). There is an editor and owner of several small presses — Tony Giangregorio — who has a long-standing reputation in the industry for not just editing but rewriting his authors’ fiction and then refusing to return or sell back the rights. He received a lot of bad press in May 2012 when he published an anthology having completely rewritten several stories submitted to it (one of them by noted horror writer Jonathan Maberry), but he is now back, publishing some mangled fiction under his Open Casket Press.

In the most recent offense, novelist Paul Johnson is currently distancing himself from a book published in his name by Open Casket Press, Survival Horror: A Zombie Story — because not only is the book poorly edited, but Giangregorio changed the location of the…

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Self Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing: The Reader’s Perspective

I couldn’t agree with this more.

The major publishing houses are not great boon, but neither is self-publishing and vice versa. To the reader, the matter comes down to: a great book.

That said, there is the question of distribution. Unquestionably your book will be in more physical stores traditionally published than not. For those writing the applicable genres there’re things like the Scholastic Book Fairs to consider, where only select agents or select publishing houses are allowed entry — self-published is barred.

Still, self-published could compensate for that lack of visibility with a lower price … possibly.

It all comes down to luck and talent in proper alchemical proportions, I suppose.

Jack Woe

The merits of self-publishing vs. traditional-publishing has been discussed at great length in various blogs from the point of view of authors.  Never, or very rarely has this been discussed from the point of view of readers; the people that ultimately buy the books.  This is my attempt to correct that.

This blog is inspired by The Trials of Self-Publishing: Why I Consider It a Last Resort and Eisler on Digital Denial.

Publication Snobbery

When I buy a book, I don’t consider the publisher at all.  Whoever published the book doesn’t matter.  This also means I don’t care if it’s been self-published.  Not one bit.  It does matter how well it’s written and edited — and that there aren’t so glaring grammatical errors I’m not sure what’s being said.

To dispel a myth, traditional publishers offer little protection from any of those points.  True, I can be reasonably sure…

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