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.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Nanowrimo 2013 week four progress

Where I was at 3:49 pm on Thanksgiving Day during the NaNoWriMo.
The last update on my progress towards the goal of fifty thousand words in thirty days (oh, the insanity of National Novel Writing Month) found me sitting at 22,379 words on the 21st of November--basically, 44.7% done and only at 64% of the suggested amount done by that point, with 27,621 more words needed to hit the goal...and a suggested 3069 words a day if I wanted to divide up the remaining words up evenly though the remaining days of November.

November 22, 2013: Getting a bug up my ass, I spend more time setting up the front and back matter template for a possible Golden Dawn/Wiccan/pagan/magical correspondence course than I do working on the Nanowrimo. At the end of the day, I only advanced to 24,574 words.

November 23, 2013: It was a community networking day in my local Wiccan/pagan community. I spend three hours at the Mercury Café talking to other people in the local Denver Wiccan/pagan community. When I get home, I post a blog post about an idea that I have for a Golden Dawn community project--the idea is met with the sound of crickets chirping. 25,864 words.

November 24, 2013: It is a grey day--and it affects my mood. The slight depression makes my total of 26,227 words look really bad.

November 25, 2013: Still feeling a little blah. I do a whole ten words that day, bringing my total to just 26,237 words. I do promise myself that I will continue working on the rough draft until it is complete...because I am stubborn.

November 26, 2013: I work on the rough draft and advance my word count to 28,471 words. Plus I spend a hour or two taking photos of jewelry for the Celtic Soul Etsy store. All in all, between the two tasks, I consider this to be a very good day, full of accomplishments.

November 27, 2013: I manage to get to 30,156 words by the end of the day. That is only 67% of the suggested word count for that point in the month, and only 60% of the way to the final goal of fifty thousand words.

Early November 28, 2013: Thanksgiving Day--at 3:49 pm, I have only wrote 418 more words. It looks like this attempt of cracking the goal of National Novel Writing Month is going to be a complete failure. And that probably surprised no one--especially my Three Critics--after all, my Three Critics claim that I am not really a writer in the first place, believing in their hearts that I should go back to flipping burgers for a living.

Friday, November 22, 2013

National Novel Writing Month 2013 progress week 3

My NaNoWriMo 2013 progress week three
As you might remember, National Novel Writing Month for me this year started off rough with me tossing my first idea into the round circular file. I did catch up a little bit on my shortage week two, which left me at 11,564 words on day fourteen, and only halfway of where I should have been at that point (according to the suggested 1667 words a day that the official NaNoWriMo site suggests).

I wish that I could say that I have managed to catch up to where I should be at this point in the challenge, but I haven't. As always my failure to do so will probably make my Three Worst Critics very happy.

Day 15: The night of the local Open Full Moon ritual which I attended (I am a member of the Hearthstone Community Church's board, so I try to always attend the OFMs). 12,231 words.

Day 16: Spent the day running errands--my word count continues to grow ever so slowly. Looking over the stack of books that I want to review on one of my other blogs, I start writing a post about Demonolatry. 12,330 words.

Day 17: Reading over the daily email of a Yahoo group postings, my planned Demonolatry post starts to look more complicated, simply because I am about to give a positive review to an author who ended up getting roosted for one of her previous books (and has annoyed one of the big names in the Golden Dawn). I end up spending more time than I originally planned to on finishing the Demonolatry post (which is located here). 12,506 words.

Day 18: The best day so far during this year's NaNoWriMo--I add 3943 words to my total. I finally hit the point where I am a third of the way towards the final fifty thousand word goal for the month--and 55% of where I should be. 16,449 total words so far.

Day 19: I don't gain any ground, but I do not lose any ground either. 19,128 words.

Day 20: Again no gain, no loss. 21,357 words.

Day 21: Awoken up early by bill collectors--it throws me off for the entire day. I start working on the chapter that explains how fast food companies squeeze their workers to maximize their profits (the one chapter that has to be published, even if I hit delete on the entire book). Only 1017 words for the day. My grand total at the end of week three: 22,379--44.7% of final goal done--64% of where I should be at this point.

In order to finish the fifty thousand word rough draft on the 30th, I have 27,621 words still to write--basically, I need to write 3069 words a day to accomplish that.

And for those interested, I have already promised myself that if I miss the final goal that I will continue to hack out words until the rough draft is complete.