Totally Irrational Thinking

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The one thing that every writer, whether traditional or Indie, whose books are published in e-book form have in common, particularly in non American markets like here in the land of the literary curmudgeon where the printed book is still preferred, is the vehement prejudice against the relatively new publishing format we choose to use. Because they hate the idea of the e-book, they are missing out on so many great tales. Whether they like it or not, the e-book is the next evolution in the history of publishing.

As far as they are concerned, if they can’t hold a book in their hands and physically turn the pages, from their completely illogical point of view the electronic file is not a proper book.

What utter bilge!

I wonder if any of them realise how totally irrational they sound? Whether they like it or not the e-book is here to stay.

Before the first seed change in publishing occurred when the printing press was introduced to the UK in the fifteenth century by William Caxton, the only way itinerant storytellers could pass on their stories was by word by mouth. What the printing press did was to collect their stories in one place, the printed book, for everyone that could read and write, long after the stories would have disappeared when the storyteller eventually died.

Despite the gate keepers, today’s storytellers can be published in a format available to literally everyone who owns a smart phone, laptop, desktop, tablet or a purpose-built ereader such as the Kindle. What the traditionalist stick in the mud’s simply fail to understand is that they are a rapidly diminishing minority.

From the point of view of today’s publishers, it makes good financial sense to publish in e-book form rather than paper. This is a second seed change in publishing that is slowly being accepted by all five major publishing houses. From their point of view, if an e-book doesn’t sell they haven’t lost much financially, unlike remaindering, where to sell the printed copies in stock they have to offer them at a much cheaper price. Either that or pulp thousands of them after taking a financial gamble on what they thought would be the next best seller.

If the publishing houses fully adopt the e-book, it would not surprise me in the least if they cease incentive payments in the form of a financial advance to writers they are considering signing up in the future. Every publishing house is driven by the fact that to remain solvent, above all else they must make a profit. If they spend a lot of money on their stable of writers, they need to recoup it for every book they publish before they show a profit and can afford to pay out royalties. That simply does not occur with an e-book…

A thought just occurred. Maybe the reason why curmudgeons hate the e-book so much is because they cannot bend the ereader back on its spine like a paperback, nor fold the top corner of a page over to act as a book mark. What do you think, am I right??

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As Writers We Need An Official Voice

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Remember my post about the pitfalls of ‘free books’ the other day https://havewehadhelp.wordpress.com/2015/08/14/whats-wrong-with-getting-an-ebook-for-nothing/Β not forgetting this one about reviews https://havewehadhelp.wordpress.com/2015/08/17/are-book-reviews-really-necessary/ Here is another one from Derek on the subject we all hate, but have to participate in to gain publicity for our book(s) http://www.derekhaines.ch/vandal/2014/11/the-land-of-free-shit

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Now back to the reason for this post. As independant writers, from time to time don’t you wish we had a vociferous champion to protect us from the machinations of publishers. Yesterday I chanced upon a possibility in the form of a guild.

Guilds for professional writers are spread throughout the world. In effect they are the literary equivalent of a union. While we Indies are not salaried, (paid a wage for what we do) there’s no getting away from the fact that many of us write full time. In my book that makes us professional writers as well.

So long as we continue being individuals, we have no teeth! But if our publishers knew that we were members of a powerful writing guild, maybe, just maybe, they would think twice before treating us with disdain. Either we amalgamate into an organisation like a guild or we continue on in the same old way as a bunch of individuals tilting at windmills.

Well, what do you think? I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m heartily sick of being treated like a second rate citizen and cash cow by my publisher. Here is the link to the guild in question:

http://www.independentauthorsguild.com/

If any of you are already members, perhaps you can enlighten the rest of us about it. How much clout does it have? In other words, does it stick up for its members interests? I’ve read its mission statement. Like all mission statements it says a lot but promises damn all. Therefore I have my doubts as to whether or not it is a true guild and as such is a force to be reckoned with. Judging by what they don’t say, it looks as if they are merely a collection of self-important individuals. In which case calling themselves a guild is a complete misnomer. If I’m proved correct, then its back to searching for the real McCoy. In the meantime, make your own minds up about it by clicking on the link above to examine it. Then leave your thoughts here.

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What’s wrong with getting an eBook for nothing?

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Only everything!!!

The fact that today’s readers of eBooks demand they must be free or on offer as part of an all you can read for x number of dollars per month package deal, is just so wrong!

Face it people, when you go to your supermarket to get your groceries, or to any other retail outlet you care to name, do you get what you want for nothing? No of course not. So why should you expect to get a book for free? I’ve heard some people claim it should be free because an eBook isn’t a real book, only an electronic file. Good grief morons, try engaging your brains for once in your lives! These same idiots argue that they should be able to download their favourite music for free as well. I have just two words on that particular subject – Taylor Swift!!! We need someone like her to stand up for the largely toothless contributing authors of this world…

Thanks to Amazon belabouring the fact that eBooks are electronic files, the concept of never paying for any eBook written by an Indie has become the norm. How many of you feel guilty about reading that eBook you got for nothing? More to the point, how many of those free eBooks you downloaded, have you actually read, let alone reviewed?

Doesn’t it bother you that the eBook’s author invested several months, or in some cases, years writing it? If not, it damned well should!

It’s high time you all grew a conscience and put yourselves in the author’s place for once. After all, would you go into work if you knew that you would not receive a salary for your hard work? Of course you wouldn’t!

More fool us for loving the written word, to the point where we sweat blood like you wouldn’t believe to bring you that latest book. Common decency demands that we are owed monetary recompense for all our hard work in the form of royalties, no matter the price of the book in question.

Unfortunately these days most Indies are lucky if their titles sell in the dozens per annum. Thanks to Amazon’s penny pinching change in how they pay royalties, known as KENPR or Kindle Edition Normalized Pages Read, combined with your own equally selfish attitude towards the product of our labours, if any writer thinks they will become rich these days, they’re seriously kidding themselves. We’re no different to you in that we need money to survive, but thanks to Amazon and uncaring people like you, 99.999% of Amazon’s Indie authors consider themselves lucky if they make maybe a couple of hundred dollars (US) yearly from writing.

Remember this tightwads – authors never receive royalties from those free copies you all greedily help yourselves too.

PS – if you agree with me, reblog this!!!

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As a writer, sooner or later your editor will let you down!

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They’re not pefect despite what they may say…

Face it, some editors only really care about how much money you are paying them. It is not until you become a writer yourself that you not only notice the errors that editors miss in any given book, but also how many there are. I’m not just talking about incorrect spelling, but the use of totally wrong words; things like missed spaces between a fullstop (period) and the capital letter of the next sentence, as well as either a lack of punctuation or far too much of it.

Let us also remember that some editors see nothing wrong with a book’s pages becoming nothing more than solid blocks of text with no break to make it easier to read. To give you another example, some editors in cahoots with certain publishers plead the old chestnut ‘house style’ as their excuse to cover a multitude of sins, like which type of quotation marks they prefer – single, or double.

It matters little that the book you are reading was self-published, or produced by a small press or one of the traditional big five publishers. More and more these days, with each book I pick up, I’m finding errors, which any editor worth their salt should have picked up on long before it went to print. If they were threatened with the sack, or were told they would not be paid for allowing those annoying mistakes to slip by, maybe all editors would be more vigilant! Heh, a chance would be a fine thing. Or in other words, don’t hold your breath…

Before any of you reading this while professing to be an editor has an attack of apoplectic rage brought on by what I’ve just said, if you are truthful, you know deep down that in all likelihood you have never ever turned in a totally error free manuscript for publication in your entire working life, due to time and business constraints. That being the case, the editor’s credo should be more haste, less speed. Maybe you need to stop thinking about how many other writers are waiting for your services, along with how much money you charge and concentrate on presenting a quality product for publication instead. Just a thought…

Why am I bringing this to your attention as editors and writers? Simple. When a member of the general public reads and reviews a book, their opinion (which is all any review is when you think about it) won’t necessarily be about its content or subject matter. More than likely these days what it will be about are the mistakes the reader found, or thought they had.

For instance – quite often anyone who is not an American writer will be taken to task for what some Americans see as misspelt words. To them I will only say this – apart from American English (which bares little or no resemblance to the original – English English), there is also Canadian, South African, New Zealand, Australian and Indian English. To my knowledge they are the main branches of the language. Each form of the language tends to spell some words differently.

Getting back to the general public – will they blame the publisher for any mistakes found in any given book? No. To the average reader, publishers and their editors don’t make mistakes, which of course is total baloney! They’re human just like the rest of us, despite believing they are a cut above humanity in general!!!

Instead you will find that to the reader’s way of thinking, the fault lies wholly with the writer. Once again many readers cannot seem to appreciate that all you did was write the story, employing someone to edit it for you. If you as the writer are to be blamed for anything, it’s thinking that once you have written the manuscript – that’s it, job done. Wrong! Never let your editor get away with too much by not picking them up on those inevitable mistakes. Like you they’re not infallible. Between the two of you, errors should be eliminated.

Here’s a thought – if you want to improve your image as a writer, learn to edit. While your at it, employ beta or copy readers. Personally I do both. With each book I write, the number of errors has dramatically reduced. For instance, my novella Cataclysm, written last year, literally only has one very minor error – a space between quotation marks and the first letter of the first word in a sentence. If I can do my level best to eliminate all errors as a self-published writer, so can the editor you are employing.

Am I going to fix it? No. That way the author hating internet trolls, grammar nazis, literary snobs, and other assorted self proclaimed experts such as pedants and armchair critics will still be able to appear smug when writing their inevitable caustic reviews of it. You just can’t please people like that. So don’t even try. Don’t be put off over attempting to edit. It’s not that difficult. Like anything else, all it takes is time, patience and application, as well as a damned good command of the English language.

Remember this – It doesn’t matter what we do as writers, if we make use of professional support and it is less than satisfactory, we’re sunk!

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It Helps If You Are Completely Bonkers

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Vain, selfish and lazy? Speak for yourself Eric Blair aka George Orwell. Most writers I know are none of those things. These days the only people you will come across like that are certain editors and literary agents as well as some professional critics. The latter category, especially the odd one or two who write for newspapers and literary magazines here in the UK, can definitely be said to be vain and selfish. To those two unsavoury qualities I would add a few others – condescending, snobbish, scathing and vicious, particularly when it comes to one leading newspaper’s literary critic and his deep loathing of Indies. Compared to him, internet trolls are rank amateurs.

As for the rest of what Eric is quoted as saying – writing is a long exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness, he’s perfectly correct. It is. With a few exceptions, I seriously doubt that anyone who reads books has the faintest notion of what we go through when writing one. Blair was also right when he said that – one would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven by some demon whom one can neither resist, nor understand.

In my own case, what drives me to write is not so much a demon as the burning desire to share a story with you the reader. So the next time you read any book, whether you liked it or not, ask yourself what kind of hell did the author of this book put themselves through when he or she wrote this? How many sleepless nights did they suffer to bring the story to me? How many times were they afflicted with the one problem all writers suffer from on a fairly frequent basis – writer’s block?

As if all of that wasn’t enough for the writer to contend with, there are the endless attacks by internet trolls. In some cases they are actually disgruntled fellow writers who are seriously annoyed that people buy, like, and praise your work while shunning theirs. Some trolls are nothing more than malicious individuals hiding behind pseudonyms, thriving on hate while hoping that you will react, judging by their often incomprehensible one star reviews.

Do I still want to write for a living? Hell yes, even though it often drives me to distraction. Once you have been bitten by the writing bug, everything else in your life apart from writing posts like this, and chatting to readers and friends on Facebook, rapidly vanishes into the distance.

You heard it here first folks. It helps if you are completely bonkers with a masochistic streak when it comes to writing.

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Self Publishing versus Traditional

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When it comes to competing in the eBook market, without exception, all Indie writers struggle to keep their heads above water. While my efforts sell relatively well each month via Amazon.com, when it comes to the Amazon outlet here in the UK, the same cannot be said. All you have to do is look at the Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store List as well as the Top 100 Free in Kindle Store List to see what the UK based Indie is up against.

The former list is mostly inhabited by traditionally published writers like Bernard Cornwell – Sharpe’s Rifles, or David Boyle – Allan Turing: Unlocking the Enigma. As for the free list, you are once again in competition with the likes of Messrs Cornwell and Boyle and a whole host of others, none of them Indies.

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I offered Goblin Tales for free from last Wednesday 3rd December, until yesterday, Friday 5th of December. As usual the greater number of free copies were taken via Amazon.com – 80. Compare that with 31 here in the UK, 13 in Germany, 3 in Japan, 1 in India, 3 in Canada, 1 in Brazil and 3 in Australia. It would have been nice if the figures were for bought copies. Whatever the case may be, the figures above don’t lie. This is a fairly typical worldwide spread for me when it comes to give aways. The really interesting thing is when I look at actual sales, so far its just 1 via Amazon.com and 1 via Amazon.co.uk.

Why didn’t I publicise the fact that it was free? There is no need these days. The ‘Get It For Free Brigade’ are always trawling the Amazon eBook list for their next free book.Β These are people who don’t believe in paying for the priviledge of reading your book, preferring to wait until it becomes free. Whether or not they actually read them is an entirely different matter. It’s as if somehow or other these individuals perceive the Indie as not a real writer, just because we are not published by a major publishing house, therefore why should they actually buy a copy of your book(s).

No Indie can fight that peculiar kind of mindset, especially here in the UK, meaning that even giving away copies is difficult. Had I conducted the give away from today (Saturday) through to Monday, undoubtedly more free copies would have been taken. But the figures would remain in the same proportions. As far as the literary establishment of this country is concerned, Indies are lower in the food chain than pond scum. Plus this is a nation that still likes to hold a book in their hands and not an eReader.

All I can say is, thank goodness for the enlightened US market, and countries like New Zealand and others who buy through it. As you saw above, actual worldwide sales for Goblin Tales, are practically non existant. Not to worry, once a few more people have read their free copy, hopefully its sales will pick up if they liked it and spread the word.

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Click on the picture below to go to my Amazon. com Author Page

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Click on the picture below to go to my Amazon.co.uk Author Page

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Give A New Book A Chance

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As Indie writers, no matter how you’re previous works have been received, we all know that publishing a new book is the equivalent of playing Russian Roulette. In other words it’s pure luck if it survives, let alone becomes a best seller. It doesn’t help whenever a new book is soon consigned to the equivalent of oblivion in the book rankings due to low initial sales.

My latest novella is a classic case in point. Since Cataclysm went live on Amazon’s Worldwide network on the third of this month, I have closely watched its position in the rankings. At the time of writing this it currently occupies the 93,815th spot in the Paid in Kindle Store list on Amazon.com, and 189,924th in the Paid in Kindle Store list on Amazon.co.uk. For it to stand a chance it needs to occupy a place in the Top One Hundred Paid list!

While most writers, myself included, are usually not bothered by where their book sits in the ranking system used by Amazon, reality dictates that without help a new book automatically struggles to be seen among the millions of others. It doesn’t help its chances when Amazon has no new book listing. They should take a leaf out of AuthorsDen’s book. At least they show a new book for a few days on their main page.

This is why I have had to relent from my original stance regarding making Cataclysm available for free download. The giveaway period begins tomorrow, Wednesday 12th until Friday 14th. Even though it already has three reviews, sales are negligible. So how about giving a new book a chance folks by getting a copy, free or paid, from your nearest Amazon outlet. More importantly, post a fair review to counteract the inevitable one star variety that will soon appear, once the trolls etal get their hands on their own free copy.

Thanks

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Something’s Rotten In The State Of Denmark!

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Like a lot of supposed author friendly sites, Scribd has become commercial. In two articles (click here), ScribdΒ  (and here) Publisher’s WeeklyΒ  it was variously announced that Scribd now has 30,000 audio books for sale via a monthly subscription.

I left a comment on the second of the two articles asking –Β  Why would you want the electronic version of your mother reading you a bedtime story?

I recieved the following reply from Andi Arnt, a narrator of audio books – Audio Publishers Association reported 35,713 titles published in 2013, with retail sales in excess of $1.3 billion. Narrating audiobooks is my full-time job, and some of the listeners ONLY experience books in audio form, never print. But yeah, you’re probably right, who would want that?

While I’m all in favour of audio books for the blind put out by mainstream publishers, what Scribd’s CEO and co-founder Trip Adler has done (while hoping to cash in on a lucrative market), is to play into the hands of a growing section of today’s youth who are too lazy to buy and read a real book, and those adults who claim they have no time to read because of their busy lives. To the first group I merely say this – you don’t know what your missing. To the second group I say – make time!

Hopefully Adler is not doing it at the expense of the books’ many authors. My question to him is simply this, are the authors of the works or their legal representatives, being paid royalties for the sale of each copy of books you have made available in your new service? If not, why not?

When Scribd first appeared in 2007, like all writers I viewed the site as yet another place to make my work known. Now, I’m not so sure. There are a number of sites that pirate books without paying royalties to the authors of those books. Is that happening here?

To say that what Scribd is doing seems extremely fishy, is an understatement. Has it become yet another pirate site? It’s already an uphill battle to get people to buy a legal copy of an eBook or a paperback, without sites like this sidelining them.

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More Thoughts on Writing

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It’s sunday here in the UK, so I am having a day off from working on my latest WIP.

Many writers swear by the notion that when you are creating that first draft, what matters is a word count in its thousands. That’s fine if you are a member of an establishment publisher’s writing stable, where all you are required to do is produce that first draft, warts and all, before passing it on to one of the publisher’s inhouse editors, who will then make suggestions based on their own views of how your story should read; often veering away from your own idea.

If you have been following my blog, you know my views on that particular subject. For those of you who are new to my blog, I divorced myself from just such a controlling arrangement back in 2010. As far as I’m concerned it was the second best move I ever made. The first was to pluck up the courage to write full time in the first place.

Remember this folks, if you are an Indie, you don’t have anyone like an editor trying to make you conform to their employer’s wishes, or a literary agent telling you that what your writing is not financially profitable from any of the big five publishing houses points of view. Or that unless you conform it will only appeal to a niche market at best. In their view, you don’t count except for the fact that your hardwork is a means to an end for them. All that matters is their annual profits. How mercinary can you be?

These days when I’m engaged in writing my first draft, I far prefer to write no more than five hundred words plus or minus a few (approximately the length of this post). Why is that I hear you ask? As I am a successful fully committed Indie who does not employ an editor, I find it much easier to continually edit as I go along. That is just one of the tricks I’ve learned since becoming an Indie. So in effect, given the way I prefer to work, I am not working on a first draft at all am I. As for grammar and punctuation, you soon learn.

If you are an Indie, it means you have total control over what you write and how you write it. Being an Indie means that you become an editor amongst other things. Some don’t have the courage to do their own editing, incorrectly believing all the hype out there that writers should only write and are incapable of editing, let alone formatting. In the beginning I even produced my own covers. Not for this one. At the moment I’m waiting to see what The Story Reading Ape comes up with from the brief I gave him. Like most writers I know, once I have entered writing mode, everything else is forgotten. Sometimes I even forget to eat, or even what day it is. I get the hint regarding sleep when my eyes start to close.

One final point. If you are an avid reader who has always dreamt of becoming a writer – go for it! At the beginning you will be terrified, I know I was. But you will soon overcome your initial fears. But remember this, unless your book is brilliant, the chances are that you will be working for change like the rest of us, particularly if you price your eBook or paperback at the lower end of the scale to encourage readers to read something of yours. Thirty five percent royalties is the norm these days. Do the sums – thirty five percent of US $0.99c isn’t much. So your sales will need to be in the hundreds of thousands to make a reasonable living. Most of us in the midlist category consider ourselves lucky if we make between US$2,000 – $5,000 pa. We certainly don’t write to get rich. Instead we do it for the love of writing itself.

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