Thursday, August 20, 2015

Jared Fogle is creepy than I thought

Subway pitch man pleads guilty to sex crimes. 
I have always found Jared Fogle a little creepy. And over the fifteen years of him being the Subway spokeman, nothing ever changed my mind about that. Seriously, who finds Subway that tasty?

Of course, the fact that it was a Subway employee who decided to kill the security guard at the last food court I worked at probably colors my opinion about how creepy Subway workers are in general.

(Sorry, I know that it shouldn't, but it does affect my opinion. And Subway has always been a "must eat something--damn, is that the only fast food restaurant around here?!" for me---probably due to the fact that as a tween I had been introduced to really good sub-sandwiches, thanks to my father selling produce to a restaurant in Longmont.)

And hearing about what Jared Fogle plead guilty to--possession of child pornography (as young as six years of age) and having sex with minors (as young as sixteen)--just makes me go Yeech!

That might surprise people who know that I write erotica, and a rather dubious type at that.

(My first introduction to erotica came in the form of a dubious letter magazine at a truck stop in Nebraska--or was it Kansas--on my way back from South Carolina and my eight whole weeks in the US Army. [My father got killed in a truck accident, and I was issued a hardship discharge.] Despite the claim of the magazine that the letters and stories were written by real people engaged in such dubious behavior, even I an inexperienced writer knew better--the stories were just too well written to be done by amateur writers. As a result of me realizing that someone was making money writing such dubious material [the first time I ever realized that someone was writing for money], it was natural that the first market I ever submitted to was a rather dubious one.)

I have been writing and selling dubious erotica since I was nineteen. And my characters are ALWAYS eighteen or older. I have never ever written an erotica story that had a character who engaged in sex before the age of eighteen.

(Yes, I know that out there are people who lost their virginity before they were eighteen....but the rule for the print market has always been "All characters are eighteen years or older." And besides, I find the thought of sex before eighteen a little creepy. Hell, I did not lose my virginity until I was eighteen.)

So how bad is the grossness of Fogle's crimes when a writer of dubious erotica goes "That is fucking gross!"? I am thinking that it must be really bad.

So here is to Jared Fogle, who is going to be eating prison food for the next ten to thirteen years, and good riddance to him.


Monday, March 30, 2015

When does a work become public domain?

Question: I have a question about international copyright law. In my country, after a writer dies, it is 70 years before their works become public domain. It used to be 50 years, but that law was changed (non-retroactive). If a work is in public domain in one country, is it the same in all countries? And if the descendents of the copyright holder take care to maintain the copyright, with timely copyright renewals, does the work automatically become public domain when the time period is reached? What about companies that hold copyrights, do they lose their rights when this limit is reached?

Answer:

Each country is different---which makes copyright law so...interesting. The longest copyright period worldwise (that I am aware of is) lifetime plus seventy-five years. So something that is public domain in one country may not be public domain in another country if they observe a longer copyright period.

That is actually complicated by works that were written before the current version of copyright law was enacted. The public domain mark is determined by what version of copyright law was in effect at the time that the work was created.

The public domain happens automatically once the limit is hit.

As an example, lets say that the country of Buymoira (*smile if you get the reference*) had a copyright law that said lifetime plus fifty before 1965, but changed it to lifetime in 1966 to lifetime plus seventy. So lets say that Ray Heinlein was a writer who wrote books both in 1965 and 1966---the works from 1965 would be life plus fifty, and the works from 1966 would be lifetime plus seventy.

 Where it gets complicated when researching public domain status is that some countries used to have a copyright period that was X number of years from date of reregistration, with an additional Y number of years if (and only if) the copyright was renewed. And you had to file in each separate country.

An example of a work being public domain in a country while still being under copyright in another country was Dracula. It was properly registered in England, therefore no one could use the work without a license. But it was never copyrighted in the United States which resulted in lots of films being made using the character and without the widow of Bram getting a single dime.

There are a score of pulp fiction stories written in the United States during the register and renewal period that may or may not be under copyright depending upon if the copyright was renewed or not. (Often if a work had quit selling well, it was not renewed.) Basically, for works written in that time period, you have to trace down the status of each work individually.

(An interesting side-effect of the rule that copyrights had to be registered in each individual country is that all the big name publishers in the United States were located on the East Coast. The publishers would literally grab newly published books from Europe and rush them into print in the United States before the authors could register them in the USA. This is why there are some copies of The Hobbit with an note thanking readers for buying the official edition---Tolkien only received income from the official edition, and none from the "pirated" edition.)

 An additional complication is that some works were "written for hire"---aka the writer was paid a check for writing the work, and someone else (typically a company) owns the copyright. The copyright period for such works are typically "date of completion plus Z years." This means that you are not interested in the date of the author's death (often you have no clue who wrote the piece--they could be faceless advertising copywriters), but rather than the date of completion of the work in question. The longest period that I know of for work-of-hire copyright is date of completion plus one hundred years.

Two of the most important changes in modern copyright law typically (not true in all countries) is automatic copyright (no registration needed to have copyright protection), and recognition of copyrights from other countries (no need to separately file for copyright in every country in the world). These two changes happened before the internet, but are proving to be very important in the modern internet age.

There is still one reason to consider official registration. For instance, in the United States, official registration allows you to sue for monetary damages if someone copies your work. Furthermore, if you write fiction, a movie company will only option your work if you are officially registered.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Emergency!

Emergency
It is an emergency
Call out the National Guard
Sound the alarm siren
Notify the President
Hold the front page
Tweet and blog all about it
Tears dripping, snot pouring
Emotions on high alert
It is the end of the world
Of society and civilization
We will never recover
We are all doomed
What happened?
The worst possible thing
My ice cream fell on the ground

Monday, May 12, 2014

What you need to prep for your ebook upload day

One of the things that you learn as an indie writer is the things that you should have pre-assembled before you start uploading your ebook to an online retailer (such as Amazon or Smashwords). My current list runs as follows:

Properly formated file (ex. a .doc for Smashwords) with all your front and back matter, plus a table of contents.

The front matter needs to include what edition it is (Amazon or Smashwords, etc.), the year of the copyright, a link to your Amazon author page (for the Amazon version) or Smashwords author profile (for the Smashwords version) or other such page, plus your social pressure "please respect the work of the author; do not pirate; buy your own copy" boiler plate. Try to keep your front matter as small as possible--it chews up space in the sample version, and you want people to read as much of your story or information piece as you can in hopes of hooking them into your ebook, and hopefully hooked well enough that they buy a copy. While you often have no control of the size of the sample, you can control the size of your front matter (if you can move something to the back matter, then do so).

The back matter is your bio and any ad copy and links you want to toss in for your other works. It also includes any sample chapters of your other works that you want to include.

Ad copy and keywords

You should spend some time before your upload day writing out your ad copy, so that you can copy and paste it into the relevant field when you are uploading. For Smashwords, you need both a short and a long description (400 characters is the limit of the short description--4000 characters for the long description). Resist the idea that you will be able to crank out perfect ad copy at the drop of a hat.

Your keywords (phrases) are words that one would use to search for your ebook that do not show up in the title or description. My most used keywords are "Golden Dawn" and "witchcraft" and "pagan"--"wicca" and "wiccan" tend to be included in my descriptions.

Category

What category would you expect to find your ebook in? Where are similar ebooks?

Cover 

Make sure that your title and name on the cover matches the information in your front matter. If possible, make sure that your cover looks good both at regular size and in the thumbnail version.

Price

How much are you charging?

A snack and a drink

Because you do not want your blood sugar to tank midway though the process if things go sideways.

Enough time and energy

Besides these things, you need to allot a couple of hours to the upload process. Even after you do it the first time, you can be surprised when you upload as retailers make changes in their upload layout and requirements. Hopefully, you will not need it, but it is better to schedule plenty of time just to be on the safe side.

And do it on a day when you have plenty of energy. Nothing screws up the process like being tired.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

How corporate censorship is hurting erotica writers

My overall ebook sales trends.
It is official--first quarter of 2014 was my slowest quarter as a writer since I made the switch from doing the print market to being an indie writer selling ebooks though online retailers (Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, Apple, etc.). Well, if you ignore my very first quarter which I tend not to count because my stuff was only available though Smashwords, and Smashwords alone that quarter.

So overall, over the space of ten quarters, I have went from nothing to making good money back down to almost nothing.

And I know exactly what to blame for this sales trend.

It is not laziness. It is not fickle customers. It is not my own personal mental and emotional state. It is not my ill physical health (migraines suck). It is not the national economy. It is not the global economy.

No, all these things together do not account for the sales trend.

No, this trend is all about corporate censorship of erotica.

The big spike in my sales was when I full distribution, as in even Apple iBookstore was carrying my full line of offerings.

Since then, Apple has discontinued carrying a lot of my ebooks. And even those stories which were rewritten to confirm with iBookstore standards do not move--gee, I guess even Apple fans do not want to read watered down vanilla erotica. Kobo has killed all my money-making erotica. The Sony Readerstore has gone under, transferring users' libraries to Kobo (my own personal library of other writers' stuff had a third of it not transfer over--and I am not into the extreme types of erotica). And the less said about Amazon, the better.

The only place that my full line of erotica offerings is still being carried is Barnes and Noble, and they did a weird thing to the default search so that you have to trick the system in showing you erotica even when you punch in the exact title and author into the search inquiry.

In other words, you can only find my best selling erotica at one online retailer who is hiding it behind a search wall.

(Please note that the recent addition of Scribd has not worked its way though the system yet...but I imagine that corporate censorship is to follow as soon as they decide that they do not want their customers using their service to pay yucky smut.)

As for my other types of writing, they have been slow, but steady without no great increase or decline in sales. Too bad that my overall sales depend upon heavily on erotica ebooks. If I could find something mainstream or even niche to write that would move at a quicker pace I would devote more time to writing it than writing erotica.

Bottom line: Corporate censorship is hurting erotica writers and their income. And that includes little old me.

Friday, February 28, 2014

You are only allowed to write one genre says self-proclaimed expert

One of the statements that make my top ten list of stupid things to say about the business of writing is that "Successful writers should quit after a certain point, in order to allow other writers a chance at success." The latest variation of this statement came from Lynn Shepherd, who decided to tell JK Rowling that she should not be writing books aimed at adults.


Shepherd first states how she finds it wrong that adults were reading the Harry Potter books...gee, I am one of those adults that committed a sin by doing so. Then Shepherd goes on to state that Rowling adult writing is dreadful, yet sold by the bucket-load because Rowling has a famous reputation...in other words, Rowling's writing sucks and she cheated by having a reputation. Shepherd accuses Rowling of trying to set up a monopoly that threatens to kill the careers of all other crime writers.


Shepherd closes her piece off by saying:


"So this is my plea to JK Rowling. Remember what it was like when The Cuckoo's Calling had only sold a few boxes and think about those of us who are stuck there, because we can't wave a wand and turn our books into overnight bestsellers merely by saying the magic word. By all means keep writing for kids, or for your personal pleasure - I would never deny anyone that - but when it comes to the adult market you've had your turn. Enjoy your vast fortune and the good you're doing with it, luxuriate in the love of your legions of fans, and good luck to you on both counts. But it's time to give other writers, and other writing, room to breathe."


As can be expected, there has been a certain amount of backlash over this statement, including a s**t storm of one star reviews on Shepherd's own novels. Shepherd has resorted to damage control:


"[I] only ever meant to raise the issue of how hard it is for new writers to get noticed and how publishing is much more of a zero sum game than people often think."


So why is this type of statement on my top ten list of stupid things to say about the business of writing?


First, we all entered into this zero-sum game willingly, knowing fully damn well that it is a zero-sum game. We also entered with the idea of becoming famous enough to be able to write whatever we wanted to write...JK Rowling has earned her right to experiment in other genres. And Rowling did try to keep a low profile--and failed...much like Stephen King tried to do with his Richard Bachman experiment.


(By the way, I think that Running Man is a really good story that should not be judged by the movie.)


Second, maybe the book market is not a zero-sum game to begin with. JK Rowling helped introduce a whole new generation to the addiction joys of reading. If she wants to continue to write for her existing readers, many who are now adults, then Rowling should be allowed to do so. I figure that some of her addicts readers will need more literary drugs books than she can produce (two books a year maximum, I figure), therefore some of these readers will buy books from other writers...possibly even me.


Third, publishers and fans loathe people who bad mouth their favorite writers. Publishers hesitate to publish books by writers who are prone to pouring gasoline on another writer, especially when they set themselves on fire while doing so. Fans remember who bad-mouthed their favorite writers, and will stay away in droves...well, once they get done beating you with a stick, that is.


Fourth, telling a writer to quit writing is a good way to start a permanent state of war with said writer. Heavens know that I still carry a grudge against the last three people that have told me to get out of the business--all of which seemed to resent the fact that I was making more money at it than they were. Of course, in this case, JK Rowling might not care...Shepherd is rather small potatoes, after all.


Fifth, writers are not restricted to one genre in the course of their career. Just like an actor can become a writer, producer, or director--writers are allowed to switch pen-names (if they like) and genres. Saying that Rowling is only allowed to write children books is like telling me that I am only allowed to write erotica because my first check as a writer came from that market...or telling a person flipping burgers that they are not allowed to become a writer because they first worked in food service.


Sixth and most important, would Lynn Shepherd herself quit writing to give other writers a chance?


I am willing to bet that she would not. Anyone who has ran though the gauntlet is not going to quit simply because other people are less successful than they are. In fact, having ran the gauntlet, one knows that other people can do so also. Again, think about other professions--there is no rule saying that a successful person has to quit to give other people a chance at success. We do not see politicians and CEOs retiring just to give people in the call centers a fair chance.


Life is not fair. And Lynn Shepherd seems to have forgotten this fact...but I think that she is getting a reminder of it right now.


As for JK Rowling, trust me--someday she will quit writing...she is not immortal, after all. *wink*

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

NaNoWriMo 2013--The final three days!!!

The NaNoWriMo writers in Denver Colorado made steady progress.
Early November 28, 2013: Thanksgiving Day--at 3:49 pm, I was only at 30,574 words--needing 19,426 more words to hit the fifty thousand words in thirty days goal of National Novel Writing Month. I could imagine my Three Critics smiling among themselves that I was proving once again that I am incapable of accomplishing anything. And there was no way that I was going to prove them wrong--after all, there is no way that someone can actually finish twenty thousand words (40% of a novel) in just three days.

End of the day--November 28, 2013: Somehow, someway, by the end of Thanksgiving Day, I had managed to have written 7,804 words for the day--bringing me to 37,960 total.

November 29, 2013: Another hot writing day--6,668 words done in twenty-four hours--it brings me to 44,628 words for the month.

November 30, 2013--last day of National Novel Writing Month--despite a brief interruption of a friend fixing a computer problem--I managed to get 5,434 words done--bringing my total at 7:50 pm up to 50,059 for the month.

Yes, that is right--somehow, I managed to go from a sure loss to a win in the last three days of the NaNoWriMo. I am a winner of the 2013 National Novel Writing Month.

And at 7:50 pm, I crossed the line of fifty thousand words for the month.