War of the Word

ebooks on deviceLibraries are in the midst of their own version of the War of the Roses as they try to adapt to their patrons needs and juggle print and digital resources. It is a costly and time consuming endeavor but one whose importance shouldn’t be understated.

On one side is the trusted book. Our minds are imprinted with the book from our earliest stages of learning, remember, “A is for apple, B is for book.” We know what it feels like, what the pages smell like, and the sound the binding makes when you crack it open. Books are ubiquitous now where once they were the privilege of the wealthy. What a sign of wealth it was to have a library of your own. Books can be heavy and it is challenging to store a lot of them.

Digital content covers everything from online magazines, video, music, photos and of course eBooks. You can pile whole libraries of this content into your smartphone, tablet, or reader. The catch is you need a device. Where a book only required your eyes, (or finger), eBooks, as all digital content, need a device to be read from. One you must purchase or lease. Speaking of which, you don’t technically own eBooks. You license them like a piece of software. Publishers have finally come up with a way to thwart libraries lending of books for free. Hence eBooks will always be a more costly solution and present unique challenges for the library patron.

Right now the smart money is on eBooks. New technology always replaces old. Just don’t tell that to the vinyl record. So books offer simplicity and zero barriers for entry. eBooks offer convenience and portability, so long as your device holds up. So you can see, declaring one over the other is not so easy. Going all digital does not solve the problems of managing a modern library’s collection, nor does clinging to print books.

Currently libraries lease most of their digital resources as a stop gap to give their patrons what they want. This works for now but really does not present much of a future for the library. As prices for this content rise and more of their budgets get syphoned off libraries will find little to nothing to show for all the money they invested in their digital collections, to say nothing of products that no longer get support or disappear from the marketplace. For libraries to have any future they must secure digital content that they own. After all you cannot build a collection of purchase orders and license agreements.

Midnight Detail Is Finished

MidnightI just completed my 10th novel, Midnight Detail. I original came on the idea for an anthology a friend of mine was putting together, Twisted History. The main part of the story concerns Secret Service Agent Dallas Cooper who is inducted into one of the most secret divisions in all of government. The Midnight Detail is a code name given to the half dozen or so people who ensure that the world never learns of the tragedy that befell President John F. Kennedy. A secret so immense that only the cover-up of a staged assassination could keep it secure. Agent Cooper slips into a world of decadence and evil as a serial killer known only as the Scarlet Leaf Killer terrorizes modern day Washington D.C. Agent Cooper learns the reality of who is behind the killings and why is far worse than anyone, save the man he is guarding, could have imagined. It all comes down to an epic fight between a Vampire Lord, a demon, and avenging angel above a dilapidated hotel in the heart of D.C. More details to come once it goes through editing. Look for it, well, it may be a while.

Big Brother Is Watching Your Reviews

The hits keep coming from the folks at Amazon. http://goodereader.com/blog/e-book-news/amazon-starts-to-enforce-draconian-e-book-review-policy I have not had this happen to me nor heard of it from any of my friends about my books either. On the one hand I certainly can see how this might seem like a good idea to someone at Amazon. Many indie authors have some of the most glowing reviews I’ve seen. I have even been admonished by one author for leaving an unfair review. Naturally our close friends and family will have a bias that may paint our works in a brighter light than other readers would. This is not the same as paying for reviews or gaming the system with multiple accounts. They only appear very similar. Amazon may also seek to avoid the circle-jerk that Twitter has become for Indie authors where 80% of our followers are other indie authors returning the favor. Still we must consider the cost.

Reviews are important. I make my buying decisions based on what others have to say. I am honest when I provide a review and expect the same of others. Amzon’s plan to maintain that, however, flies against the fact that as developing authors many of our first fans are, or quickly become, friends. We will follow each other on social media and gather together at local cons. We shouldn’t have to hide that. I never dreamed I would need a pseudonym for Facebook.

An Idea So Crazy It Just Might Work

long bookIt still scares the bejeeses out of me. That idea is,  What If Authors Were Paid Every Time Someone Turned a Page? I placed my book Undead Heart on Kindle Select over a year ago. I have not seen much revenue from borrows, less than sales in truth. SO it was with mild interest I read the email last month from Amazon announcing their shift to a pay-per-page plan. Then this week I read this article on Gizmodo Amazon Might Pay Self-published Authors Less Than a Cent  Natually I had to do some math. Under the old plan if someone borrowed a copy of Undead Heart I received $9.99. The length of the book is 230 pages so at 0.006/page that comes out to $1.38. Now that is most likely a worse case scenario, (please be a worse case). Either way I am keeping my day job for as long as the State Library stays open.

One thought that troubles me, now,  is how writers will adapt to this market. I do not write long books. My books are the length I need to tell the story and my stories are usually pretty concise. I’ve talked to new writers who complain about 100,00 pages just not being enough to tell their epic fantasy opera. In the back of my mind I’m also thinking it is probably more than most would care to read anyway. Just the same, the precedent here rewards for length but not necessarily quality. Granted a reader has to stay invested in the story to keep reading, and nothing sends a reader screaming for the exit like crappy writing,  but there are enough tricks and traps to keep the reader flipping to find out what happens next. Will we now be subject to 500 plus page tomes that amount to the literary equivalent of a pop-up book? I wish I knew,  then maybe I would get started on one. What do you think? Does pay-by-page entice you to try Kindle Select?

Project Updates

I’ve been pretty quite of late. I also have not been writing as much as I would have liked to. No thanks to my Playstation. At any rate, I wanted to take a moment to put my mind around where I plan to be heading.

  • My collection of short stories, The Hole In Your Mind is just finishing up. Some last minute additions pushed this one back a bit. I will have it out before the fall.
  • The Fourth Prometheus continues its trek through editing. You will soon be able to read about Giselle Mathers and her creation, the mechanical man she names Enkidam.
  • The sequel for Undead Heart, By A Blood Red Moon is written as well and next up for the red pen of my editors. This one picks up right at the end of the first book as Larry must face a choice between his girlfriend and the Pack.
  • I have about 3,000 words left until my vampire novel Midnight Detail is ready for editing. It really has come a long way and I’m excited to get some feedback on it. Who’s not interested in reading about JFK as a vampire?
  • My next novel will be another Steampunk one, but not involving any of the characters from The Fourth Prometheus. Instead it will be about a group of traveling musicians and demon slayers known as Manfred Bethlehem’s Traveling String Quartet. The setting is Territorial Arizona and was inspired by my last trip to Bisbee, Arizona.

That’s it for now. I certainly have my hands full and I hope my editor is paying attention. The goal is to get these out as soon as possible but I’m not making any promises and I’m not rushing anything. I have learned that a writing career is a marathon and not a sprint.

 

Up The Amazon

First I’d like to thank a long time friend of mine, Dan, for sharing this post. http://bookviewcafe.com/blog/2015/06/01/up-the-amazon/

I consider this a must read for all writers. We live in a time of mass consumption and mass waste. The hype machine churns fast and furious. Who can remember when the movie Ghostbusters ran in theaters for over a year? You would never see that today. The same for books. Publishers are no longer interested in books that can sell x copies every year. They would rather have a book that sells that same amount of books in 4 months and then crap out the next one.

Someone like me pointing this out just sounds like sour grapes but when someone the caliber of Ursula K. Le Guin calls it out, it needs to be listened to. I especially like her comparison to fast food. We are so lead to belive what we are consuming is good we gladly take part in the hype and consume away oblivious to the lack of enrichment we get.

So is Amazon the opportunist or perpetrator of this system? Either way will buying books or not from Amazon really change anything?

A Thought For Today

While perusing Google News I happened upon this little story. If Music Executives Have Their Way Music Streaming Could Come To An End In 2016.

I, like many people, have to wonder what is wrong with the minds of these people. It isn’t just music, as book publishers and movie studios have railed against digital technology. The thing to remember is all of these entities are the middle men and women. True thier checkbooks enable some artists to create the content we will eventually consume. But as we have seen, great content can be had for a fraction of the costs and new technology has brought the means for artists to go directly to thier audience.

The DIY movement, enabled by the growth of digital technology, isn’t just a new fad but represents the biggest threat to publishers who fail to provide the content that people want in the form of thier choice. This really is an exciting time for all, as there is a wealth of great content available and new channels to it are opening all the time. I know I, as well as some truly great works I’ve read, would still be trapped under the slush pile if it wasn’t for digital technology.

So let the Jay Z’s and Taylor Swift’s rant on about steaming music. Despite what the record execs may wish for we are not all going back to buying CD’s. I have to wonder, didn’t Napster teach them anything?

This Kind of Cheesed Me Off

Wired magazine has started a new feature that pokes fun at self-published eBooks. Introducing Our Reviews of Absurd Self-published e-Books I am not sure if I should hail it as a great service to us as independent authors or be offended. The latter seems closer to me. In truth there are far too many books that should have remained locked in their author’s subconscious. For some reason these authors had the courage and the dedication to bring these works to light and I commend them. I just wished they had listened to those of us who stress the importance of editing and rewriting.

My main problem is this. Can independent authors ever escape the stigma of being the farm league of the big five publishers while putting out stuff that is so ripe for mocking? If something like the attention given to them by Wired and sites like Kindle Cover Disasters helps further developing authors along, or at the very least, avoid some of these missteps then I can see it as a good. If instead it becomes a race to write the worst book just for the 15 seconds of fame from a mention in Wired, then independents only have themselves to blame for not being taken seriously.