Totally Illogical Practices

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Illogical adj. lacking sense or clear, sound reasoning

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For anyone who isn’t a writer, and doesn’t deal with Amazon other than to purchase items from them, here is a classic example of the mindset of those individuals employed by Amazon that all writers have to endlessly do battle with.

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A few days ago, in order to get everything ready for the launch of Goblin Tales I first went to my page on Kindle Direct Publishing to unpublish its former incarnation – Globular Van der Graff’s “Goblin tales for Adults.” One edition down, one to go.

Next I went to CreatSpace to do the same for the paperback version. Unlike KDP, CreatSpace does not have the facility for the author of the book to do the deed. So I sent them an email from their ‘contact us’ facility, which as it turned out went straight to KDP, requesting that they ‘retire’ it from my list of paperback editions. A few hours later, I received an email stating they had done as I asked and that it was no longer available for sale. All fine and dandy you would think, right?

I then went to my Author’s Page on both main sites for sales of my books – Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk, to check. Sure enough the Kindle version no longer showed. But, the paperback version was still up. So I made further enquiries. According to Amazon, the paperback version could not be eliminated from my Author’s Page, just in case someone who owned a copy might want to sell it back to them.

The very fact that no more than ten paperback copies were bought, most of them by myself to give to friends, probably hadn’t registered with the mental retards Amazon employs. Had they bothered to check the sales they would have known this!

To prove my point about them being idiots, I recieved the following in a ‘no reply’ email from Amazon this morning:-

At this time we cannot accept the following suggestions. We cannot remove a book(s) from an authors page when the author in question is indeed the one who wrote the book.

If that’s the case, who the hell can remove it if not the author of the work?

While they don’t complain when an author unpublishes a Kindle version of a book, why is it that they say no to removing the paperback version. After all, Amazon’s ‘resale’ system also works for any and all Kindle eBooks!!!!

This is a classic example of how differing departments within Amazon, fail to follow the same rules, nor talk to one another. The way Amazon’s minions operate at the moment under all three banners, to say the very least, is incomprehensible, let alone illogical…

PS – So, if you are perusing my books on Amazon, please take note. The paperback version of Globular Van der Graff’s “Goblin Tales for Adults” is no longer available. For that matter, neither is my science fiction space opera Onet’s Tale, even though both of them still appear.

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Answer Me This If You Can

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Editor at work – Yeh right!

For as long as I’ve been writing full time (since 1995), one aspect of our chosen career path has always bothered me. We all know that writers in publishing house stables are expected to apply all the corrections that their editors deem necessary. More fool them!

Why should Indies suffer this totally illogical practice as well? For many, myself included, we parted company with traditional publishing to get away from this less than satisfactory aspect of the writing game, and the often dictatorial way in which publishers rule over their writers, amongst other things.

I’ve given up counting the number of times I’ve heard fellow Indie’s complain about their editors, and the hard won money they’ve spent on their sometimes dubious services.

If you take the sensible decision to go it alone and self edit, you’ll soon find any errors and correct them. Whereas if you pay for an editor’s services, while they give the impression of doing a so-called professional job, what do they actually do for their often exhorbitant fee? Not enough! They only do half a job, then send it back to you to do the rest. What’s the point of that? A writer can do it all themselves and for no cost to them except time.

Yes your editor will tell you that they have judiciously gone through your manuscript, purportedly working their way through your story word by word, line by line, paragraph by paragraph, picking up on bad grammar, spelling mistakes, incorrect punctuation, plus suggesting you change this or that aspect of your story as if it was them who wrote the darned story in the first place, so that when pedants, armchair critics and literary snobs challenge you (and believe me they will), you can honestly say that your work was professionally edited.

Big deal!

Logic dictates that if someone is employing you as an editor to find all of the errors, that once found, you should correct them yourselves, not send the manuscript back to the writer to do your job for you! Otherwise, what’s the point of employing you in the first place. If a writer does the sensible thing and sends their manuscript to a few dedicated beta readers, hopefully they will point out any and all errors for free!

Remember this, no book is ever perfect. Even the very best editors employed by the major publishing houses will miss the minutiae, after all they are human just like the rest of us. Paying for an editor’s services, as they stand at the moment, is a waste of money. Before you even begin to show a profit from the sales of your books, you have to recoup your financial outlay first, ie, editing, layout, cover design. From a financial point of view its far better that you do it all yourself. Thinking about it, so-called professional editors are little more than failed writers.

If you are a truly dedicated Indie writer, don’t think that once you have written your manuscript that you have finished. You haven’t. Your work has only just begun. Above all don’t fall into the trap that your manuscript need the services of a paid ‘professional’ editor. It doesn’t. If you are any damned good, you will do it yourselves!

Here endeth today’s lesson…

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When it comes to eBooks, who owns what?

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Guess what folks? All of those eBooks sitting on your Kindle, PC or Smart Phone don’t actually belong to you! All you own is your eReader…

You should have got the hint when Amazon came up with the whole return an eBook thing. Yes I totally agree with you it is a complete nonsense. How can you return what in effect is nothing more than an electronic file full of 0’s and 1’s?

But here’s the real kicker, the books we all thought we had bought and paid for don’t actually belong to us. Amazon, or whichever other outlet you thought you had purchased your eBook copy from, retains ownership. Not even the authors of the eBooks can claim the right of ownership, even though without them the book would not exist! The only claim the author has on any eBook is its copyright, providing he or she is an Indie.

In effect the so-called purchase price is nothing more that a hire charge for licensing them to read at your leasure. Figure that one out if you can? What all the eBook publishers and distributors are doing is to operate the electronic version of a lending library, charging us for the privilege.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at the following articles:

https://gigaom.com/2012/10/22/a-healthy-reminder-from-amazon-you-dont-buy-ebooks-you-rent-them/

http://motherboard.vice.com/blog/do-you-ever-own-your-e-books

http://www.mhpbooks.com/defining-ownership-for-ebooks/

http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/no-such-thing-as-ownership-when-its-an-ebook-20121105-28phs.html

The above is just a sample of the many articles on the subject of eBook ownership currently doing the rounds. Food for thought folks, especially if you cross a time zone into an area of the world which isn’t covered by an eBook outlet. In which case your Kindle, or whatever eReader you have, will suddenly go blank!

That’s all for today folks. Just thought I’d get your Monday going by giving you something else to think about.

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That Darned To Be Read Pile

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Ok folks, its high time you all confessed. How large is your To Be Read pile? For my part I’m proud to say that I have reduced my backlist of novels to be read by four over the last twelve days, since I launched my latest novella. Now I only have one more to read and I’m all caught up. You see, unlike many people out there I don’t merely collect books. I actually buy them to read, and do so.

Full time writers like myself have an excuse for not catching up with our own reading, well almost. We often read the books in our physical and eBook libraries as part of the research necessary for our next book. But not necessarily the ones in our own TBR lists, unless we bought them as research material, which in my own case is the norm.

Whereas the rest of you have no excuse at all. What is the point of buying a copy of a book, while at the same time claiming you have no time to read it? What complete nonsense. Make time! If you want to collect something, try seashells or postage stamps. While we’re all grateful that you have bought a copy of our book(s), unless you read and review them, how will others know whether or not the book appeals to you’re intellect?

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You know what to do. No more excuses. Books are meant to be read, not treated as decoration in your living rooms!

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For Goodness Sake – Think Before You Act!!!

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I’ve said this all before on several occasions. But apparently you decided to keep on doing it anyway…

As writers, whether seasoned or a newcomer, explain to me why it is that you have totally swallowed the marketing ploy created by your publisher(s) that giving away hundreds, sometimes thousands, of copies of your books is somehow financially beneficial to you?

The only ones who benefit from your moment of completely misguided naivety, or should that be madness, is your publisher and one particularly evil, not to say tight, group of readers. I refer to those individuals who know that sooner or later you will become desperate enough (or should that be foolish enough) to decide that it is a good idea to give the product of all your hard work away for nothing! Think trolls, pedants, armchair critics and good old fashioned skinflints. Letting the first three get their hands on a free copy of your book gives them all the ammunition they need to tear apart your reputation as a writer even before you have established one! Just take a look at all of the one star reviews on sites like Amazon if you don’t believe me…

Before you join in with this idiocy, take a moment to think it through. There is absolutely nothing wrong with giving away a dozen copies of an eBook online, or a dozen signed paperback copies at a book fair, or in your local book shop just once. It makes total promotional sense. Number one, with the paperback, the cost of getting that many printed is negligable. Number two, despite what eBook publishers may say, the cost of producing an eBook is practically zero. If those who got their copy from you this way like what they read, they will soon spread the word.

The nasties usually don’t attend book fairs and bookshops…

Put your thinking caps on for a moment. If instead of being a writer you were a painter, or a sculpture, would you give your work away to get yourself noticed? No, of course you wouldn’t. So why do you think that you will become popular among readers if you give away hundreds or thousands of copies of your book(s)?

Once again I ask you to think before you act. While your eBook or paperback may be free to the readers for a promotional period between two to five days, your publisher still receives a financial reward simply by delivering the copy to the readers, while you get nothing.

Let’s face it people. You decided to get your book published. You spent many months slaving over it. In a lot of cases, you spent more money than you could afford at the time having it edited as well as getting the cover made. Giving away thousands of copies will not help you recoup your financial outlay. Only real sales do that. While you may believe that it is a good idea, take it from one who knows – it isn’t! Divide the total cost of your outlay by the retail price of the book. That will give you some idea of how many copies have to be sold before you begin to see any profit in the form of royalties.

If the loss of thousands of pounds/dollars etc in the form of royalties doesn’t bother you, I give up. You are a hopeless case. I’ve mentioned all of this in previous posts. So have many other seasoned writers. Yet, each day I come across more and more writers giving away precious copies of their book, hoping to be recognised, even though they know they are playing into the hands of the literary vultures waiting in the wings, hoping to feed on the next writer’s sheer desperation.

You know that it is totally ridiculous and yet you still do it. Why? For your own sakes, not to mention your dwindling bank accounts, cease and desist! You wrote the book. Therefore you are entitled to reap any financial reward derived by its sale.

 

For Goodness Sake Make Time!

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I forget how many times I have told people, especially new writers, to pace themselves. I was having a conversation on Facebook with one of my female writer friends yesterday. She has bought copies of five of my eBooks, which I am eternally grateful to her for. Three of them are short novellas, averaging 168 pages. I don’t know about you but I can read a novella in an afternoon, or a morning. For instance, if I start reading at twelve noon, I will have finished it by seven in the evening, barring interruptions and calls of nature. When I read a full length novel (150 – 200,000 words) it takes me the best part of three twelve hour days.

As writers, if we are going to do justice to our own writing, there is nothing more stimulating than spending hours reading other people’s books. From them we glean those ideas that hadn’t necessarily occured to us. With every book I write comes endless reading beforehand. Its called research. The writer in question makes me laugh. She claims that she has no time to read. When I told her about my reading a novella in seven hours, she assumed that what I’m doing is speed reading. Sorry to disagree with you my dear friend but it isn’t. It’s just a normal reading pace. She seriously needs to make time to read. In other words, she needs to pace herself.

I’ve seen photographs of her with a library of books in the background. I’m assuming that given her profession, the library is her own. Maybe not. If, as she claims, she has no time to read, why does she have access to one, if not to read the books? in my case my own library is divided up into actual physical books in my five shelf bookcase, as well as eBooks and PDF files on this laptop. I’ve read every single one of them at least five times. Some like Graham Hancock’s epic work Fingerprints of the Gods, several dozen times. In that case it will usually take me a week, simply because its seven hundred and nineteen pages are jam packed with information…

Currently I have one hundred and seventy three eBooks and one hundred and twenty physical books. I also have one hundred and forty-two PDF files which I constantly refer to when I’m in research mode.

How many books do you have? Have you read them all?

A lot of people buy books, millions of us in fact. But how many can truthfully say that they have read every book in their possession? Some people like to kid themselves that by having a large physical library in their home, it will impress their visitors, by creating the illusion that they are well read, and therefore intelligent.

If you want to impress the hell out of your visitors; read the damned books in your personal library to become fully conversant with the content of each of them! That way when your visitors ask you about a certain book you won’t be caught out in a lie.

Despite what some idiots believe, books are not for decoration, even though the multicolours of the jacket’s spine undoubtedly creates a splash of colour.  Every one of them contains the end product of a writer’s accumulated knowledge and hard work. They are meant to be read, not just looked at!!!

PS – I will admit that since I became a fulltime writer, I no longer read for pleasure. Plus, these days when I read a book, the editor in me is constantly on the lookout for poor grammer, spelling and punctuation.

That is the one major drawback with full-time writing; the end of spending hours simply reading for pleasure…

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Bureaucratic Bungling

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You have to wonder sometimes why bureaucrats are given free reign to come up with some of their totally crackpot decisions. Take the EU for instance. Someone within the organisation decided that it would be a good idea to ban the humble vacuum cleaner if its motor exceeds 1600 watts. http://www.which.co.uk/news/2014/08/eu-rules-cut-vacuum-cleaner-power-377790/ This idiocy came into effect on the first of this month.

So very soon what took you maybe a couple of hours to do will take much longer. If it is the EU’s intention that by banning normal vacuum cleaners, you will save power, think again! Common sense decrees that keeping one of the approved vacuum cleaners going longer, no matter the amount of power it uses, will either negate the intended power saving, or, more than likely increase the amount used!

Then there is the EU directive on carcinogens. http://www.hse.gov.uk/aboutus/meetings/iacs/acts/240511/acts12011.pdf

While I applaud anyone who does something positive to prevent exposure to carcinogens in the workplace, one unbelievably stupid thing about the way the EU approaches the subject when talking about prevention in the home was recently made public here in the UK via a prominent food technologist. In their drive to prevent exposure, or in this particular case, ingestion, the EU warned against the use of barbecues, grills and toasters. Or, to put it another way, what they actually said was that to eat anything cooked on a barbecue or grill, or to toast a piece of bread until its slightly blackened will expose you to carcinogens when you eat the foods in question. I hate to tell you this EU, but when you dictate how anyone should cook their food, you cross the line! A lot of people like eating well cooked food.

God almighty, how soon will it be before the EU bureaucrats ban any form of barbecue, grilling unit or toaster I wonder?

What’s the betting that whoever came up with these notions without thinking them through properly was promoted. But then again, the norm in any governmental organisation is to promote stupidity…

Profit or Quality?

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You would think that given the number of glitches appearing in most video games these days, that the people responsible for making them would endevour to put out a quality product from the get go. Sadly that isn’t the case. Take the immensely popular Mass Effect trilogy as an example.

By the time the first of the games appeared in 2007, written for Xbox, both Bioware and Electronic Arts realised at the eleventh hour that the Sony platform was the dominant system, owing to Xbox being so unreliable. Subsequently the game was made roughly compatible with Sony’s PS3 system. But like most games originally conceived with just one game platform in mind, instead of doing a total rewrite of the software to make it work with the PS3, Bioware and EA decided to maximize profit in favour of quality.

Fortunately when Mass Effect 2 appeared in 2010, at least the game had become more player friendly from the point of view of ease of control over your character. But like the first game, ME2 had some serious glitches, which were taken care of by a downloadable patch.

Then in 2012 ME3 the third and final game of the franchise appeared. It is relatively glitch free thank goodness. I have installed all of the add-ons for both ME2 and ME3, making both games that bit longer and enjoyable. Had Bioware bothered to totally re-write the first Mass Effect game, making it user friendly, I would also have that on my hard-drive.

Now all we ask for is that the games platform of your choice is made reliable. I had endless trouble with my PS3’s Blueray disc-drive, due to it being a dust trap, thereby rendering it inoperable. That was until I cottoned on to doing away with game discs altogether in favour of direct download to my PS3’s hard-drive. Now the only problem I have is when it decides to lock up for no good reason. When that happens on restarting the platform, the first thing I see is a request for a report from Sony to find out why it locked up. So far I’ve yet to see any improvement in its software, which makes me wonder why they want to know what happened in the first place if they are not going to send a patch to fix the problem?

What everyone in the video game industry has to do is to get out of the habit of profit over quality. It’s a no-brainer, that if you sell a quality product, you will soon gather a faithful following willing to spend money…

 

 

For God’s Sake Look Inside!!!

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I’ve often wondered how many readers actually bother to research a book before buying it, especially when it comes to eBooks. What do I mean by that? Most eBook outlets have some form of ‘Look Inside’ option, allowing you to read the first few pages of any given book. In other words you can decide whether or not it is a book you would wish to purchase and read in full. This function is specifically designed for the use of potential readers to take a sneaky peek.

It is clear that some of you don’t use the feature. As writers we all see the sales figures. With Amazon’s Kindle system, there is a ‘Units Refunded’ section. Like most of my fellow writers, from time to time I see the odd one or two ‘returns’ appear there.

Getting back to the subject – think about it for a moment; when you visit an actual book store, you wouldn’t simply buy a book without looking inside, or because of it’s cover now would you.

Well would you?

There are some people who are persuaded by a cover and buy the book because of it, no matter whether or not the story contained within its pages is worth reading. Why they do it is a total mystery to me. As writers we are constantly being browbeaten by certain individuals within the world of words who firmly believe that a cover sells the book.

What complete balderdash!

If you are a truly dedicated book lover and being completely honest, what sells it to you is the story and the way it was written, not a garish cover.  So, the next time you are perusing Amazon, Barnes & Noble etc for a book to read, do yourselves a favour when looking for an eBook, for gods sake use the Look Inside option!!!

Will sanity ever rule?

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While it is abundantly clear to anyone in the industry that Goodreads has finally become a cesspool of corruption and lies as well as a haven for a tiny minority of mentally unbalanced individuals, is there anyone within the site’s hierarchy brave enough to stop the rot? How much longer will it be before the writers of the books for which the site was initially set up to introduce their work to the millions of genuine readers, close their accounts?

When will the management of the site finally realise that the vast majority of one star reviews written by their pet trolls actually do no harm at all when it comes to sales? When will they also realise that by deleting genuine reviews by real readers, all they are doing is actively discouraging those same readers from bothering with their site as another source for finding books in the future?

While the current FBI led investigation into the charges of cyber bullying by certain individuals on Goodreads slowly gathers momentum, how long will it be before Goodreads’ parent company Amazon cuts its losses and rapidly disassociates itself from its wayward offspring? Come to that, how long will it be before Amazon cleans its own house, ridding itself of its connection with, and encouragement of, those self-same trolls who migrated to Goodreads?

What is currently happening within Goodreads and Amazon regarding the cyber bullying and stalking of authors, along with the current totally nonsensical practice of eliminating genuine four and five star reviews, needs to become widely known. What is happening must to be brought to the attention of all major newspapers and leading publications like Time magazine. It certainly needs to be aired on all the major television channels news slots. Unless or until this happens, it will only be seen as a spat between writers, Goodreads, Amazon and their trolls. While as writers we all moan and groan among ourselves, the outside world is oblivious to what is going on.

For goodness sake make it public knowledge!

To anyone reading this that has a connection to the news media in the USA and in the UK, please spread the word. After all, the news media are quick to condemn those individuals who hack people’s phones or cyber stalk and bully. Is what is currently happening to writers on book sites like Goodreads and Amazon any different? There must be at least one inquisitive reporter out there with the nose for a good story, and more importantly, with the balls to investigate and expose the current underhand practices of Goodreads and Amazon.

You have seen the title of this post. It should also be subtitled “Will commonsense and common decency ever become the industry standard?”