Wild, Wicked & Wacky will be relatively quiet for the month of July as I attempt to plow through the first draft of Blood Sacrifice. I won't say "dark" because invariably something will pop up that will tempt me to make a snarkalicious comment.
Like Amazon buying out Dorchester's list. (Because if the Big 6 were truly worried about Amazon, they would have done something to prop up their little buddy, now wouldn't they have?)
I never thought I would resort to this, but I'll be reposting a "Best of Wild, Wicked & Wacky" over the next four weeks. So if there's something you want to see, leave me a request in the comments.
If anyone tells you your career hinges on your latest book, I'm here to tell you that's Bull-shevik! (Go see Madagascar 3. Best line in the movie, according to DH.)
Dean Wesley Smith, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Bob Mayer and J.A. Konrath have been preaching for some time that there's gold in the backlist. Especially now with e-books and POD, books never go out of print.
And little ole' me, who's only been indie publishing for fifteen months, has definitely seen the proof over the last four weeks.
On May 23rd, I uploaded a free Bloodlines short story, Zombie Confidential. While I intended it to be a 'thank you' to those readers who took a chance on me as a new writer last year, lots of other folks downloaded ZC as well.
And they obviously got hooked on Sam, Duncan and the rest of the Augustine crew at the rate e-books started flying off the virtual shelves. I could literally see people buy all four novels on my stats!
Then Saturday, I uploaded Alter Ego's second book. And damn, if that didn't trigger a spike in her sales on the first book over the last couple of days.
So the experts are right. Be patient, put out the best story you can, and start writing the next one.
However, something funky did happen while I was uploading m alter-ego's latest tome over the weekend. I got the "Your Book Is Live" e-mail from Amazon Saturday night, but when I clicked on the page, I got an odd message:
"This book is not available in the United States."
I panicked, double-checked the rights (yep, I clicked on "World"), had DH access the page, and then panicked some more.
DH, trying to be helpful, said, "Have you checked the FAQ?"
His reasonable suggestion pricked a hole in my panic balloon. I stomped downstairs. After an hour of poking around Amazon's website, I found the answer on the Kindle Boards.
Apparently, something occasionally gets out of synch on Amazon's behind the scenes processing. The page isn't fully constructed before the automatic "Live" notification is e-mailed.
Needless to say, the page was active and I'd already made a sale when I got up this morning. All this within the forty-eight hours Amazon says to give them for the item page to go live.
*sigh* I hate that I sounded like one of those people who run around screaming, "Amazon will rape us and eat our babies."
I've used cold war analogies for the ongoing battle in the publishing industry, but today I'm switching to WWII.
After the war, there were Japanese soldiers who carried on guerilla actions among the Pacific islands for years after 1945. Attempts to convince these men that war was over often met with disaster. They simply could not wrap their heads around the fact that the Japanese Empire would surrender to an upstart country like the U.S.
Sixty-seven years later though, both Japan and the U.S. still exist. Maybe they're not always the best of buddies, but diplomatic relations exist. Trade exists. Cultural exchange exists.
But both countries realize that everyone loses if someone pulls out the A-bombs again.
Publishing is in that odd position right now where the war's over but there's quite a few folks who don't want to admit it. In publishing, it's on both sides though.
A couple of days ago, Kristine Kathryn Rusch posted a very sad blog. She was targeted and trashed by folks on a listserve she'd belonged to for years as being pro-indie. These folks obviously don't read her blog. Kris is not pro-indie or pro-trad. She's very much PRO-WRITER.
Something similar happened last year, when J.A. "Joe" Konrath signed a deal with a major publisher. (And you can argue all you want, but Amazon is now a major publisher.) He was considered a traitor to the indie cause. And despite what people consider Joe's "attitude," he's in the same PRO-WRITER boat as Kris.
The PRO-WRITER boat means you, the writer, doing what's best for yourself, not following the crowd. For some people, that means signing a deal with a traditional house. For others, that means self-publishing. And still for others, it means playing in both sandboxes.
E-books are not going away. Neither are paper books. Continuing to fight a war that's done and ignoring everyone who tells you it's over is unhealthy. Someone's going to get hurt. And it's not worth it.
Go back to writing your stories, folks. The war's over.
** The picture is of Lt. Hiroo Onoda, one of the most famous of the Japanese holdouts. Japanese and Philippine authorities flew in his former commanding officer to officially relieve Onoda of duty, making Onoda the only holdout who did not surrender and was not killed. This picture is believed to be in the public domain.
Barnes & Noble delivered some disappointing fourth quarter results. Officially, execs blamed the numbers on the heavy post-Christmas returns from third-party retailers. To me, part of the problem lies in the roll-out of the Glowlight Nook. B&N built up demand, then failed to deliver the product on time. Posting huge signs in the stores saying the Glowlight is sold out when you never had them in the stores to begin with isn't cool, B&N.
Speaking of the Nook, or maybe failure of speaking about it is the key here, Microsoft announced their new tablet, the Surface. Yep, no mention of the Nook, which MS bought into, or of content for the Surface, which MS's partner B&N could provide. And seriously, guys? You couldn't come up with a cooler name than "The Surface?"
Author Solutions is touting a "revolutionary" idea, a card with a QR code to giveaway free e-books. Stealing an idea from Dean Wesley Smith that's over a year old does not make it revolutionary, guys.
And if the Big Six are so healthy, why is HarperCollins releasing a big chunk of their sales force? I don't care how "respected and beloved" an employee is, getting laid off still sucks.
Seriously, Joan Brady? E-books are only for porn? Paper books are status symbols?
What f***ing century does this woman live in? Everyone knows that iPhones and iPads are the current status symbols.
All snark aside, I feel sorry for someone who is so out of touch with reality.
Personally, I read for the contents, not the status symbol of the container. And quite frankly, my Joan Elizabeth Lloyd hardcovers (erotica, read) are on the shelf with The Collected Works of Shakespeare (plays and poetry, read) and the Twilight series (YA vampire romance, read all of them but Breaking Dawn).
I don't think Joan B. realizes she lost a bunch of readers from her double slam.
I just wish we had e-readers twenty-five years ago. Then I wouldn't have had to deal with awkward young men on the subway, trying to pick me up by talking about the Star Trek novel I was reading.
Yesterday, I finally got up the nerve to register Angry Sheep Publishing on Bowker and acquire a hundred ISBNs.
"Why, when you can get them for free from Smashwords?" you ask.
Because I want those ISBNs registered under MY company's name, not someone else's.
Except I held off on pulling the trigger for nearly a month. Not because of the cost (I'd saved up the money from the last couple of months' receipts), but because of the fear. Acquiring ISBNs made the whole business process TOO real. I lost my last business thanks to the economic insanity of 9/11 and the Enron collapse following on the heels of the tech market crash. All three events in 2001 did a number of the Houston economy.
I don't want to lose another business to factors beyond my control. Stupid, I know. Everything in publishing, but the actual writing, is beyond my control.
Then Bridget McKenna, a regular commentor at The Passive Voice, let me know that my books were mentioned in Amazon's latest newsletter. I can't confirm this since I don't subscribe to Amazon's newsletter.
The whole thing was very odd to me, not that I question Bridget's veracity, but because my sales are not in the Amanda Hocking/J.A. Konrath atmospheric levels.
D.H. believes it may be their way of apologizing for the kerfluffle over Creating a Business Plan for the Indie Writer. I think someone was assigned to physically verify that the rest of my books weren't smurched from the public domain and got hooked on one of the stories.
Whatever the reason, the odd mix of fear and excitement made sleep elusive last night.
Today's guest blogger has a foot in each type of publishing and wrote one of the best, if not THE best, opening lines I've ever read. Please welcome Will Simon!
"Here’s a piece of advice you won’t find in any manual,
leaflet, monograph, self-help book, or national talk-show: when an agent with
the FBI’s Violent Crimes Unit opens an email, then spends the next ten minutes
vomiting in the men’s room, do not under any circumstances lean across
the desk and look at the screen…"
In my novel SPIDER’S DANCE, readers are
introduced to Nicholas White, a computer security consultant and electronic
evidence expert. DANCE is about Nicholas
slowly bur surely realizing a recent oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico
was not an accident, but a carefully
orchestrated conspiracy reaching back to WWII.
I had a lot of fun writing it, and came to
really like Nicholas himself; an independent kind of guy, old-fashioned in some
ways, firmly rooted in the past while living in the New Millennium.
Every other year or so, International Thriller
Writers publishes a THRILLER anthology.
While working on DANCE, a little vignette with Nicholas occurred to me
and I wrote and submitted it for THRILLER 2.
It didn’t make that particular cut due to the theme the collection was
aiming for but some of the responses were encouraging. I filed it away and continued writing DANCE.
The day came a couple of years after that when
submissions were opened for THRILLER 3, specifically for stories of romantic
suspense. In one of those coincidences
that a writer would get busted on - but happen all the time in Real Life -
Turner Classic Movies had been running a marathon of Spencer Tracy/Katherine
Hepburn movies. Which led to my digging
out the DVD’s of “Remington Steele” and “Moonlighting,” both old favorites.
On a whim, I went back into “Tango” having
overdosed on clever plots and witty dialogue between the sexes. After giving it some thought (approximately
2.7 seconds, as I recall), I re-wrote “Tango” from end to end, making it
lighter, more fun, more engaging.
Without giving too much away, a child has been
kidnapped. It turns out this particular
child could potentially have a severe impact on the security of the United
States; it was a scary plot in this post 9-11 era. The FBI contacts Nicholas, who is supposed to
be on vacation, and we go from there. In
DANCE, Nicholas mentions he was once married a long time ago. In “Tango”, he meets his ex-wife again after
all these years since she is now with the FBI.
It was a lot of fun to write, to try and
re-capture the banter and dialogue of Tracy and Hepburn movies, while
addressing a very real scenario. I liked
it, finalized it, and sent it in.
In a collection like THRILLER 3, most of the
slots are pre-assigned to established authors.
There were only three slots open to freelance writers. ITW received seventy submissions, whittled
that down to fourteen in a series of ‘blind readings’, and the publisher chose
the final three they liked the best to be included. I am extremely lucky and very proud to have
been one of those three that were selected.
I sure hope you enjoy it!
Since 2002, William
Simon has been the owner and lead investigator for a licensed firm that handles
computer forensics and electronic evidence exclusively.
Amazon's Kindle store was flooded with spam books almost from the moment they opened the portal. In fact, I talked about private label rights and the fallout last August. Then there were the people scraping websites, those who made books out of blurbs and reviews out of popular tomes, etc.
Well, Amazon FINALLY decided to crack down last week. And it wasn't just an announcement this time.
How do I know? I got an e-mail from the folks at Amazon KDP asking for proof that I hold the copyright to Creating a Business Plan for the Indie Writer (2nd ed.).
In a way, it was kind of funny. The original book was created from a series of blog posts I did here and from some guest posts that I did for other folks. So the Amazon folks were right when they pointed out that CABP 2.0 had a lot of public content in it.
What wasn't funny was the couple of hours I had to spend digging up the documentation I needed to prove that I was the copyright holder of the text. (If you saw my office right, now, you'd understand. It makes the 'Before' pictures of Casa Nuevo Rancho Lake look like Martha Stewart's house.)
I finally got everything together to show that only the first edition was available to Jane Public, and that the second edition was only available by e-book or through a pay wall. Amazon sent me a polite thank you e-mail and said CAPB 2.0 will remain for sale on KDP.
So the lesson in this? Make sure you document the hell out of any book you create from your blog. The Amazon police are watching.
The entry fee is only $25 bucks for non-members. In return, you'll get feedback from three experienced, TRAINED judges. And if you final, a trad house editor, an agent and an e-publisher will take a gander at your opus.
As an added bonus, there will be a drawing for a 50-page critique from a published author for each contest category. (Pssst! If you enter in the Futurustic, Fantasy & Paranormal category and win the drawing, you'll get a personal response from moi.)
There's less than 48 hours to enter by e-mail, so go check it out now!
As I said on Friday, I think it's pretty cool that something like Fifty Shades of Grey, that started life on a fan fic website, has found an audience. Things truly have changed in the publishing universe in a way that's very freeing for writers.
And then I read portions of the book itself.
Before I go farther, I'd like to point out the following:
1) I do not object to edgy content. I write BDSM stories under a pseudonym.
2) I've spent far too many sleepless nights dealing with friends and family members in abusive relationships.
Unfortunately, the story in 50 Shades of Grey crosses the line from S&M edge play into outright torture with Stockholm Syndrome overtones.
My squick factor (as my editor refers to it) hit pretty early in the story. The heroine Ana is scared of Christian, like really terrified. She refers to their scenes as beatings and/or assaults. I think sexologist Dr. Charley Ferrer said it best: "You play with your toys. You don't break them."
Christian says he wants Ana to sign a contract in regards to their BDSM relationship, then he tells her he'll fuck her anyway if she refuses to sign, regardless of what she wants. Sorry, folks, but that's still considered rape in most states.
From the pages I've read, Ana seems obsessed with pleasing Christian so he doesn't lose his temper and hurt her. Excuse me? That's abuse. A decent dom/domme doesn't play out of anger.
Then there's other stuff that strikes me as off the weird-o-meter. Like being twenty-one and never having been to a gynecologist? Or letting the guy pick out your doctor? I can respect still being a virgin at twenty-one, but losing your cherry in a kink-o-fest?
My biggest problem with the actual story is that millions of folks believe Fifty Shades of Grey reflects a BDSM relationship. It doesn't. I'm worried that some of these fans may die because they chose the wrong partner.
One of my regular commenters, author Angie Benedetti, mentioned a fascinating post about the id in the writer's mind by Maculategiraffe. Go read it; I'll wait.
Did James hit something in the Twilight fans' collective id that made them say, "Oh yeah, I want that!"?
All this made me start digging. Someone had posted a cached copy of the original version of Fifty Shades, called Master of the Universe. (So sorry! I thought I bookmarked it, but now I can't find it.) Anyway, other than the names, descriptions and a few personality quirks of Edward and Bella, James's story had nothing to do with the Twilight universe. I wouldn't consider it even an Alternate Universe.
I'd like to point out I never said E.L. James violated Stephenie Meyer's copyright. It would take very little editing to make Master of the Universe a totally separate animal, which I believe James has done. The only reason it's even mentioned in the same breath as Twilight is because it started life on a Twilight fan fic website.
Here's Stephanie's thoughts on Fifty Shades in her own words:
I've heard a lot of people ranting about E.L. James's grammar, or lack thereof. So, last Sunday, I flipped through the book while at Barnes & Noble, reading the first chapter, then a few pages here and there. To me, it's not as spectacularly bad as some people make it out to be on the technical front.
I have to agree with Angie's comment. Someone's ability to tell a story overrides grammar pecadillos. I LOVED the Harry Potter series! I don't give a flip what anyone says about J.K. Rowling's craft abilities. She captured my attention. The same with many authors on my keeper shelf.
My problem with a story occurs when the author does something so illogical that it rips me out of my suspension of disbelief. Unfortunately, that's what happened to me while reading the first chapter and a few other excerpts of 50 Shades of Grey. I'll post my thoughts on why my suspension of disbelief collapsed on Monday.
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