Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Why Ebooks Are Great for Libraries

Two weeks ago, I talked about reselling paper books. I'd meant to talk about e-books on the following Friday, but I lost track of everything as I tried to finalize the files for Hero De Facto so I could send them to my formatter.

So back to our original topic...

In general, you can't resell e-books like you can a paper book. Your e-book is essential software. If you read the Terms and Conditions of your retailer, you'd find out what you're actually buying is a license to use the software.

The issue of selling electronic files has been partially dealt with through litigation in the music industry and computer applications. However, that case law has yet to be applied to e-books. After seeing what happened with the music industry, many retailers and publishers slap on DRM (digital rights management software) to keep readers from making illegal copies.

What about your software backups then? Technically, you may not be allowed to do that on some e-books. After being in the IT industry myself, I'm a HUGE believer in backups, which is why I don't put DRM on my files. I also request that retailers don't use DRM on the e-books I publish.

DRM punishes legitimate buyers of e-books by not allowing them to make software backups. Nor does DRM actually prevent piracy. Guys, I've been out of IT for over twenty years, and I can crack most DRM'd files. For the record, I wouldn't on principle, but most pirates don't have any sense of ethics. DRM isn't going to stop them.

So what does this have to do with libraries?

With e-books, libraries can buy a book that will never fall apart. They won't have to spend their minimal funds having to replace a book some idiot patron defaced. Or stole.

Remember when I talked about authors I discovered through the library?

The same holds true whether you borrow a paper book or an e-book. However, I'm discovering more and more indies who are as short-sighted as trad publishers. They think they are being cheated for a library buying their e-book and then, in theory, allowing the e-book to be borrowed forever. The trad pubs put a timer on their e-books so the library can only loan a particular e-book X times before the library has to pay a new licensing fee.

Except the library won't be able to do to loan an indie e-book forever.

Why? Because our tech is changing so damn fast. People forget the Kindle and the iPhone were both introduced in 2007, only twelve years ago. My iPhone 4 is considered obsolete even though it's only five years old. Libraries will have to pay for new licensing when formats change.

Then there the issue that folks using the library may not have the money to buy an e-book. I used our county library like crazy when I was a poor student and an even poorer college graduate. Guys, I couldn't afford a freakin' TV! I depended on the library for my entertainment.

On the other hand, I still used the library when I did have disposable income. The library allowed me to try out several different series and authors. Then I'd buy the ones I wanted to re-read multiple times.

At a time when so many of my fellow writers bemoan the lack of discoverability, they ignore one of the easiest solutions--their local libraries. And the thing I really don't understand are the same writers who will GIVE AWAY thousands of e-books through Amazon are the same ones bitching about libraries not paying them for every copy borrowed.

If anyone can explain it to me, I'd like to hear it.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Where in the World Is Suzan Harden?

Sorry for the radio silence over the past two weeks!

I've been racing to finish proofreading Hero De Facto before sending it to my formatter. The final version clocked in at roughly 105K. People are either going to love it or hate it.

I've also been trying to finish the first draft of Hero De Novo. The words are flowing, But I don't think it'll be wrapped up by Thursday like I had hoped.

My real problem for not having things I'd planned done by the end of January is kind of weird. I'm sleeping way too much. Like 11-12 hours a night. The issue has gradually become worse over the last five months. So I made a point of mentioning the issue during my quarterly checkups this month.

Of course, the first thought of the medical personnel was I have clinical depression. But I've been there before. None of the other symptoms have happened. My work and personal life are chugging along like they should. Hell, I only wrote 1500 fewer words than last year at this time, but that's thanks to losing a couple of hours a day to the oversleeping.

When the docs were convinced it wasn't depression, that's when a bunch more appointments and tests were added to my calendar. Including a trip to the sleep clinic and a fun contraption I had to wear to bed.

You see, I'm still considered a cancer patient, and I will be for another four years. So a weird symptom shows up, every one jumps into action to make sure a few of those cancer cells haven't set up shop somewhere else.

But I'm not as far behind as I feared I could be when the extra appointments were added.

Except for these darn blog posts! LOL

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Second-Hand Sales and Libraries

I know I've talked about these subjects before, but they bear repeating. Each time a new round of baby writers enters the market they freak at seeing their paperbacks for sale at other bookstores.

Hell, even DH freaked out when he was perusing the internet a couple of years ago and saw my books for sale at a London bookshop's website.

First of all, did you hit the extended distribution button when you set up your books on Createspace and/or KDP Print? That means other bookstores can order your books to sell at their store. And yes, the proprietor can price your book however they desire. You already were paid when she ordered your book through Amazon at wholesale.

Now, let's say I bought your book through Amazon and read it, but it wasn't something to go on my keeper shelf. I can take it to my local used bookstore (if I had one nearby) and trade it for credit on another book I'd like to read. There's a legal tenet called First Sale Doctrine. The seller only gets the money for the sale of a physical object he/she makes. (This does not apply to e-books. I'll talk about that on Friday.)

The owner of the book does not have rights to the contents, but they have certain rights to the physical object. That means I can take it and resell it at a used bookstore. Or at my garage sale. Or I can even donate it to Goodwill or my local library.

That means the used bookstore can sell the physical book. (Psst: The used bookstore can even sell the used copy on Amazon!) The neighbor who bought my copy can sell it at her garage sale. Goodwill can sell it. And the local library can sell it. And this goes on and on until the physical book finds a permanent home or ends up in a landfill.

You, the writer, were not cheated. You got your money with the first sale.

Now, if you have your book in extended distribution, guess what? Not just bookstores can order your books, so can libraries! And unless you donated copies, the library paid for that physical copy. You got your money.

Here's the thing most new writers don't get: their books are out in the world where someone may find it in their hotel room or looking for someone new to try when they're on a limited budget. There's a ton of books on my keeper shelves that I discover through the library when I was a kid. Books I loved so much I searched out and bought once I had a grown-up job.

Never underestimate alternative venues for readers to discover your work.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Sunshine on Snow

After Saturday's snow, the world looks pristine and white. Why does this appearance please us writers, but a blank white screen does not?

Maybe because we don't look beneath the surface of our computer screens. Maybe because we're scared to.

Like footsteps across the field, our typing mars the surface of our screen. Inside our head, the idea resides in crystalline perfections forever. Once we commit to writing it, we see the flaws. In fact, we focus on the flaws rather than work with them.

Understand that the flaws are like the silent, sleeping trees in the picture. Yes, their stark blackness ruins the pristine surface of the snow across the field. However, they are beauty in their own right. And they are waiting for conditions to change in order to grow and flourish.

So keep typing. Your black slashes on a blanket of white will become something beautiful as the seasons turn.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Friday, January 11, 2019

Some Friday Fun

You all know I don't promote other people's books too often here, but here's a fun one for your weekend entertainment.

I admit I'll pick up just about any twist on L. Frank Baum's OZ, and the more twisted the better. In Off to Kill the Wizard, poor Dorothy is about to be put in a home when she escapes back to OZ and finds things have gone terribly wrong.

If you're interested, it's currently $0.99. Pick it up before the price goes up on Monday!

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Proofreading Hell

I overslept this morning. I don't even remember turning off the alarm when it went off. How much of my behavior is a bit of dread over today's task?

I'm at the point in the production cycle where I do the text-to-speech playback of a novel, in this case Hero De Facto. I try to make it fun by using a woman's voice with an English accent. Also, the slightly different accent and pronunciation helps to keep my attention on the words.

But this is the super nit-picky part. Ouch, that sentence is garbled. OMG! I forgot another article! Oh, dear, that paragraph sounded a lot more coherent in my head.

Cthulu! I hate my critical voice!

On the plus side, this is the last big step before I turn the file over to my formatter. Then, fingers crossed nothing major happens, I'll be able to get pre-orders up next week.

Focusing on that sense of accomplishment will get me through the next several hours. And y'all will have a new book to read soon.

Monday, January 7, 2019

How NOT to Win Friends and Influence People - Part 2

I woke up Sunday morning to a flurry of hits on a blog post from nearly three years ago. A bit of investigation revealed the source. I'll admit I thought about ignoring the issue; I simply have too much work to do.

But the words of romance cover model Jimmy Thomas stuck under my skin.

I've always had an issue with my weight. When I was a teen, I was chubby even though I could and did throw around 50-pound hay bales on the farm. I was mocked by classmates and family for my size.

It was bad enough I pretty much stopped eating and was on the edge of full-blown anorexia my freshman year in high school. I got sick around Christmas, damn sick because I wasn't eating. What pulled me back from the edge? The stubborn part of me that decided I wasn't going to die for these mother fuckers.

Forty years later, I see Jimmy Thomas's post on Facebook, and I want to cry. Not for myself, but for the readers and writers and cover artists who've been fat-shamed all their lives by asshats for not fitting into the asshats' preconceived notions of what a person should look like.

But hey, since I don't fit Mr. Thomas's notion of what a person should look like, then he doesn't need to be gracing any of Alter Ego's book covers anymore either. I'm moving the cover re-dos to number #2 on my priority list. And I'm going to put food on some of those damn covers.

Because right now, fifteen-year-old me is flipping off Mr. Thomas with one hand while eating an ice cream cone with the other.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Friday, January 4, 2019

A Flurry of Doctors

Yeah, I'm a little late posting. The rush of doctors appointments have started up again.

Ironically, I've buried myself in stories and editing in between appointments. I don't normally hide from my problems. I just don't want the fear to eat me alive and interrupt my rhythm.

The sad part is that I can't count on the health professionals to keep track of everything. I have to go into each appointment with lists: questions, drugs, messages between the doctors. It's funny how these folks don't like to talk to each other.

It's funnier how they put me in the middle of their disagreements. *eyeroll*

I'm thankful that I've still got my mental faculties. Otherwise, I'd be up a shit creek.

But what would happen if I wasn't?

A lot of folks face this exact problem. DH already had an incident where his dad was going to give his mom a pill to treat vertigo when the real problem was her blood sugar level was crashing. Luckily, DH was there.

And that's the burden of being middle-aged in America right now. We're having health problems. We need to care for elderly parents. And we're trying to launch our children into a world that seems very cold, and very cruel right now.

But in the meantime, I'll deal with the flurry of doctors and try to make sure my health stays clear.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

The Winter Hangover

January 2nd always feels super BLAH after all the excitement of the holidays. There's nothing wrong with the day, except having to go back to the drudgery of our workaday lives. I commented to my friend Jo that it feels like a hangover.

He pointed out that on January 2nd, we do indeed suffer a hangover, an expectation/hype hangover. All that anticipation that's been built up over the month of December (or longer if the retail stores are any indication) disappears, often in a flurry of dreary weather and embarrassment about the overconsumption and overspending.

No more lights. No more decorations. No more treats.

No wonder everyone has the winter blahs.

This is when you curl up with a good story and a hot cup of hot chocolate or tea. Give yourself a little thrill to keep you going through the cold, dark months.

And if you think about it, March is a mere eight weeks away. Spring will be here before you know.

But if you need some warming up before then, may I suggest this picture of Chris Pine and Zachery Quinto?