Independent Authors Day

village-books-publishing-bellingham_0This Saturday, October 8th, is Independent Authors Day. You can find out more at Amazon also has devoted a page to their Independent Authors Powered by Indie I will even be hosting a panel of 6 Independent Authors for a Q & A at the Northwest Regional Library in Surprise on Saturday at 11:00 a.m.

One question that comes up is, just what makes an author an independent? Essentially, it’s an author who is self publishing their work through something like Amazon Kindle Publishing, Barnes and Noble Nookpress, Createspace, Lulu, Smashwords, or others that I can’t recall off the top of my head. The reasons for this are varied, new authors in particular are attracted to these presses simply by virtue of there being no other alternative. Published authors are also attracted to this avenue by the promise of better royalties and more creative control. The one thing Independent publishing is not, is a farm team of sorts for authors. These authors work just as hard and in some cases harder because they do have more riding on these books. As an independent you do not have a marketing department or slick social media campaign to drive word of mouth. It is all you. Days like October 8th are important because they let people know that if you have a book inside you there is a place where you can go to see it in print. Spend some time this Saturday and learn about what Independent Publishing is all about.  #PoweredByIndie

One Blog Post You Must Read

If you’re looking at a blank sheet of paper and have the idea that you are going to fill that paper with words and call it your first novel you need to read this post from Joanna Penn at Writing Fiction: 7 Steps to Write Your First Novel.

I’m thinking of printing his out and taping it to my laptop cover. Remember tons of authors had to write a first novel at some point, the only difference is now you might have a better idea of what you’re getting into.

The Word That Shall Not Be Uttered

I was going to share this, then I wasn’t but now I figured I will. I ran across this post from Janet Reid’s awesome blog:

I think she covered this from a very interesting angle as a writer. I would like to add to the discussion what I think is the danger of having such verboten words. Think about it, what if you woke up one day and the word tumultuous was no longer allowed in print or speech? How would we ever describe loud confused noises? This could not be a worse example but just think on it.

I’m not making light of what this word represents, it’s history or inherent ugliness. I just wonder, should we as writers, be accepting of  a language with certain words that we cannot use at all? Especially when the feelings those words conjure could be otherwise conveyed? Now our responsibility is that should we use such a word we must be very clear in our context what the purpose of that word is. Remember words have power and when that power is abused there are consequences.

The Strange Thing About Stranger Things

stranger-things-bannerIf you’ve been anywhere near Facebook the last month or so you have probably heard about one of the greatest things to come to TV in a long time. Subscribers of Netflix have had the pleasure of watching a short 8 episode trip through the rabbit hole called Stranger Things. I’ll say now it is as good as you have heard. Just go watch it.

The strange thing my title is referring to is why aren’t there more shows like this? Not necessarily Sci-Fi, but shows that do everything right, story setting, acting and pace. In 8 episodes the writers and actors of Stranger Things managed to do what some shows couldn’t do in 24. And yet, this isn’t coming from a major network, but a video streaming service. Let that sink in. Would the brain trusts that run ABC, NBC, Fox or CBS have guts to give something like this a shot. Oh I’m sure now you’ll see an armful of shows in the not too distant future that will ape Stranger Things because that is what the heads of programing at these networks think people want.

Still, the point I am trying to make is, whether it is TV, Music, or Books, the next big sensation always seems to come from out of nowhere from the least likely place. This gives me hope, not just for my writing finding a home, but for the content that I love to consume. I don’t want the same reheated signed off on by focus groups stuff. I want epic earth moving content that is on the edge, makes me think, and even more makes me want to write. So thank you Netflix, you made my summer, as many I’m sure, will be remembering this as the summer of Stranger Things.

The Strange Case of No Man’s Sky

no_mansNo Man’s Sky is a video game developed by Hello Games that came out this month to very mixed reviews. The hype for the game had been very high as were the expectations. Most reviewers remark that the game does do some things very well but that it isn’t for every one. So why am I mentioning that here?

Well, for starters the game is billed as a procedurally generated exploration / survival game with millions of combinations of planets to visit. The consensus is that the game does this exceptionally well, but what it’s missing is a strong story to keep the player interested and moving forward in the game. The most common complaint I have heard is that after the first hour you get the feeling of, “been there, done that.”

Did you ever read a book with that same problem? I know I have. Sometimes, in the throes of writing, it is easy getting bogged down in the world that you miss the story. I think No Man’s Sky is a cautionary tale of the power of story. That’s not to say there isn’t one in No Man’s but for some there needs to be more. In a book it is the same way. You can only get so far with just the arc of your main plot. Each chapter will need it’s own arc, it’s beginning, middle and end that, while moving the reader along and setting up the next chapter, provides a satisfying reward for reading through it. The lesson here is always make sure that your reader has more than an interesting world, give them characters and drama and conflict. Intertwine the events of the story and let the drama reflect the world it takes place in. In doing that your readers will never get the feeling of, “been there, done that.”

Oh and in case you were wondering I am planing on purchasing No Man’s Sky as I am the kind of person who loves a lot of exploration in video games, just not in my books.

Scamers Will Scam 

conartistThis is an old story but one I just heard about.

In my books I usually place the table of contents in the rear to give sample readers more of the book. I never thought about using it as a cheap way to scam Amazon. The way it works is Amazon pays authors for the number of pages read through Kindle Unlimited. So if you have a link at the front of the book that takes readers to the back of the book, Amazon’s system counts all those skipped of pages as being read. It didn’t take long for scam artists to figure this out.

To combat this, Amazon has been flagging all books with the table of contents in the rear and letting those authors know that if they don’t move the table their book could be taken down. Pretty Draconian, I know. I would think looking for internal links in the first few pages would be more effective but then I don’t work for Amazon.

Truth be told this really doesn’t affect me as I only have one book on Kindle Unlimited and I’ve not really seen much money from it. Still it’s sad to see people taking advantage of the system. You could also argue that Amazon takes advantage of honest authors’ hard work but that’s for another post.

A Dry Spell

thorn_treeOne thing about living in the desert is you experience first hand that while a dry spell can come and last for a while, not everything dies. One good rain and soon there’s green all around you. This is a good thing for a writer to learn. I am in a bit of a dry spell myself. I’ve started a new novel but it’s not coming together as I would like. It may be time to shift gears onto something else.Then again if I just sit down at it for a little more I know I can get past this hump.

That’s not to say I don’t have anything new. The Fourth Prometheus is halfway through it’s first big edit and I have rough drafts complete of the sequel to Undead Heart, and a new novel, Midnight Detail. So, I guess after some furious writing I’m do for a little down time, though, I’m about ready for some rain.

The Cost of Self Publishing 2016

The great folks over at have answered the question, How Much Does it Cost to Self-Publish an eBook.

The costs are based on data culled from the Reedsy marketplace. You may find other prices elsewhere but for a good measuring stick their info graphic is a wonderful tool. One thing to bear in mind is that while you can spend more than is here and you can spend less, the important thing is that in an already crowded marketplace for your book to stand out you will need to spend some money. Now you know about how much.