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.

Self-E

self e platform

I submitted my second novel, In The Presence of Gods, to SELF-e, a unique curated collection of e-books for libraries. SELF-e is a project by Library Journal magazine and Bibliolabs, a provider of digital repositories. I have been working with my co-workers at the Arizona State library to launch the e-book platform, Reading Arizona. A logical extension of that platform is to offer independent authors a place to offer their works to the borrowing public. Arizona is teaming up with Bibliolabs to do just that through SELF-e.

Independent authors know that some channels remain out of reach. The idea behind SELF-e is that libraries shouldn’t be one. The process of submitting is simple and easy to understand. Once your work is submitted it will be read by one of two editors who will then decide if it meets the level of content and quality they are looking for. If selected, the work will be added to the national collection. Even if not selected, the work will be sent on to the partner library in the state that author registers in. These works could then be added to the state’s local collection.

Right now there is no method for author compensation. The real draw for the author is the exposure to a new and wider audience. The draw for libraries is participating in a program that offers materials for all their patrons with e-readers. I, for one, am excited to see where this platform can go from here.

Success Is The Exception Not The Rule

I caught this story on Forbes.com about author Mark Dawson, Amazon Pays $450,000 A Year To This Self-Published Writer.

I like reading about success stories. They offer encouragement and some insight to what is working. At the same time, I have to remind myself that what works for one author is not necessarily going to work for me. First off, unless I’m writing in the same genre it is like talking about apples to oranges. Some genres sell more than others and have a eager fan base. My second thought is, well really I don’t have one. I’ve read enough of these articles and looked at enough sales data to know that genre is the key for many of these Amazon “Platinum” club writers. In addition to having a number of titles for sale, but that is a topic for another post.

One thing that is hard to grasp is this idea of success. Sure making a boatload of cash tops many of our, “signs of success,” lists, but there is more to being a successful writer. The act of completing a novel is a success, in my opinion. Everything else will fall into place after that, even sales. The only problem with success is you have to repeat it. So rest in your glory for a little while because the following morning you’ll be back at the keyboard working on the next one. Then one day soon you’ll see your name in a Forbes article.

My Kickstarter Campaign Has Ended

My Kickstarter campaign has come to an end and I’m sorry to say it was not funded. I want to thank all the backers who did step up and pledge. Your support means so much to me. I am still going through with The Fourth Prometheus, however, now, I just have to wait a little longer to get the money together for the final editing. As it stands the book is coming along really well and I am still excited to get it out there.

Reflecting on the whole process with Kickstarter I still believe it is a valuable tool, but for crowd funding to work you must bring your own audience too it. I do browse around the site from time to time and have backed projects based on the description, but by and large I go to Kickstarter looking for projects from sources I know. In the first week that my project went live, I received numerous emails and comments from PR companies and people offering their services (for a price of course). For example for $500 I could get a mention on Engadget. For $1,200 I could get a radio spot. These could have been all very beneficial for the campaign, but then again if I had $500 I wouldn’t need to crowd fund. The old adage, “it takes money to make money,” has never been truer in audience building.

Another side that I had to face is the tool itself. I set my funding level based on what I needed and what I knew I could raise if a portion of the people who have bought my books backed the project. This came to be far from a reality and it may speak more about the familiarity with sites like Kicksterter or even online commerce in general. Not every person has the mindset of an investor. This isn’t really investing in a traditional sense, there is no risk and the reward is known. It’s more like a layaway plan; you put up money for a product you receive at a later date. Not everyone in your audience will feel comfortable doing this and you should take that into account.

I do plan on using Kickstarter in the future for other projects. The process itself was painless and even taught me something or at the very least forced me to think a little differently about my work. This is a crucial step as my book went from a product of my time and mind to an item for sale. I urge other writers to think about what crowd funding can do for your projects and remain open to the idea. Who knows in a few more years this may be the normal for how manuscripts become book.

This Is It

the fourth prometheusThese are the last 7 days to get in on my Kickstarter campaign. It’s your final chance to see your name listed among the believers in my latest work, The Fourth Prometheus. Take a moment and click over to Kickstarter and look at the available options and commitments to back my project. The time is winding down. As a special bonus I’ve updated the project with the first chapter so you can get a sample of the book.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1487090582/the-fourth-prometheus 

Self Published Works Gain Ground

A recent article appeared on the web the other day from Small Business Trends31 Percent of Daily E-Book Sales Are Now by Self-Published Authors. These numbers are taken from the sales reports captured by Authors’ Earnings based on daily sales at Amazon.com. The interesting trend is how the sales have increased over the last few months when they accounted for 27%. Now the Big-5 publishers still account for the majority of sales at 38% but it does not take much mathematics to see that if the trend continues self-published authors will over take them.

I basically take away 2 things from this article. One, readers are hungry for cheap e-Books and are willing to look outside the familiar names in publishing. Two, there is no better time to be a self-published author. There is an audience out there waiting for our works and they are spending. That does not mean the path to riches has been greased or is all downhill. Whatever measure for success one chooses an author is still going to have to cover a lot of ground to achieve it. At least now the barriers for entry to this path are not so formidable, or dare I say, closed off.

This Post Goes Blue

Recently the wife and I sat down to check out the TV show American Horror Story. All I’m going to say is if that’s your idea of horror, you need to read more Lovecraft or Ramsey Campbell. That’s not what bugged me the most. What was with all the swearing?

In general, though they wouldn’t admit it, people have a far more colorful, (dirty), vocabulary than they realize. At the same time very few people like being constantly sworn at. This creates a conundrum for the writer. Pepper your dialog worth too many naughty words and it will come across as trying too hard to be “gritty” or “edgy.” Not enough, or worse, you throw down some, “gosh darns,” or, “what the hecks,” and people will wonder what kind of prude world they have slipped into.

I remember sitting down to watch NYPD  Blue and marveling at all the words that shouldn’t be on TV suddenly on TV. Then there was the South Park “shit” episode. All the same I’m not really a fan of being sworn at constantly. I’ve enjoyed my share of potty mouthed comics but even there the best of them knew how to use these words for maximum effect. That’s what it really comes down to. As writers words are our tools. We must reserve the right one for the situation. You wouldn’t use a sledgehammer to swat a fly, would you? Your words should be used the same way. Save the words that would make you mom blush or shove a bar of soap in your mouth for when you really need your characters to show some emotion. It’s a subtle difference but can make or break your writing.

Dreaming

dream image

Sometimes I don’t know what is worse, the dreams that I remember or the ones that slip past my wakeful mind. Especially when the feelings behind the latter linger into the morning. What if those dreams are nothing but feelings? Perhaps that’s why we don’t remember them.

Can any memory in our minds exist solely as a feeling? Think about that for a minute. No place, no person, no event, just a feeling. Would that qualify as a memory at all? Could we write down nothing but a feeling? Would we want to?

We dream because we sleep. We feel because we are alive. We write because sometimes the dream shouldn’t have to end.