Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Back on Lulu

I am back on Lulu. Last night, I learned that Lulu is having a short story contest (actually, it is flash fiction that they are asking for---just 600 words). So I decided to put together a short piece, starring Basil James, the spy-magician I created a couple of years ago during a Nanowrimo.

I honestly do not plan on selling a single copy (price floor is $1.49 currently on Lulu) considering that I set the price to $2.99. But then again, it was the contest entry that I was interested in---I could use a Barnes and Noble NOOK.

Anyways, just in case you are curious, the title of the flash piece is Magic and Bullets: A Basil James Incident.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Future is so bright I gotta wear shades

Last night, I was trying to explain how writers make money through royalities to my wife. I might have had an easier time eplaining nuclear physics to her. In particular, I was trying to describe what I was doing on Smashwords, and why I suspected that in the long run I would hit the break-even point on some (if not all) of my writing there.

Midway through the conversation, I realized that my wife did not even understand the concept behind book advances. For the one person in the audience who has only been involved in the modern world of ebook publishing, an advance was something that publishers used to give to is still possible to get an advance today, provided that you are someone like Stephen King, who is guaranteed to sell copies even if one's writing bores the general public to tears and one's ideas are lifted from other writers.

My wife was not even aware that book advances had to be earned back before a writer got more money from the publishers, much like she did not realize that some writers took fifteen years to get their first book contract and that it can take three years to get your book onto store shelves.

(Gee, why do some of us decide that ebook through self-publication outlets are a better option---getting published by a Big Six legacy publishers sounds so quick and easy; you will be raking in the money before you die.)

Of course, I understand her concerns. She would like me to be making money (as getting a paycheck) tomorrow, rather than a quarter or three down the road. Again, for the newbie in the audience, even on a self-pub site like Smashwords, it can take awhile to get cut a check; it takes a calendar quarter for the distributors (iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, etc.) to send their sales figures to Smashwords, who in turn waits to pay you when the next quarter ends (plus thirty days)---nevertheless, it is still more timely than the print market was.

Anyways, I digress. The important part is that I can foresee making my time investment back (provided that the initial figures are a true indication of how well I am going to do). In fact, I may even make a nice little profit. That means that the future is a little brighter; I might have to invest in a new pair of sunglasses.

For those who are curious what I am doing on Smashwords, you can download a free copy of some my work. The rest of you can just sit here and watch the following video by Timbuk 3: The Future's So Bright.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Watching my ads

I am not sure about other bloggers who use adsense, but there are days I just have to wonder how they are picking my ads. Looking over my Golden Dawn blog, I noticed that I had ads about buying gold, invisible dog/cat fences, American Girl mini-dolls, and Babies R Us. Only the ad about invisible pet fences make any sense to me---after all, I do talk about my cats a lot, besides posting more than my fair share of cute kitty pictures there.

But gold? None of my readers have enourgh money to invest in gold. American Girl mini-dolls? I am not sure how any of my posts gets there---are we perhaps using the mini-dolls as poppets for voudoun? And Babies R Us---oh, that must be commentary by adsense about my latest rant post where I talk about the annoyance I felt about a post about proper employment for a Rosicrucian getting read as a criticism against someone else's Order and about my lack of belief in their promises of spiritual immortality (I have yet to figure how they are actually getting to that conclusion, especially about my beliefs about spiritual immortality, which bears no resembalance to what they are saying that I believe.)

Saturday, November 12, 2011


When cats get depressed.
Thanks to college, bad genes and upbringing, and not eating right, I have been rather depressed lately.

The stress of college and the joys of senior year has combined with a small student loan problem to create a perfect storm of depression. Of course, my genetics and childhood programming does not help. And I have gotten to the point that I am not even eating out of the vending machines...which would be good, except that I am generally not eating; even vending machine food is better than no food at all.

All this depression is having an effect on my school work, as well as my writing.

Thanks to the depression and my empty wallet, I have considered dropping out of college to increase the liklihood of getting a job. For some reason, employers do not want to consider anyone who is not available 24/7---especially in the only types of work that I am qualified for (restaurant and retail).

I need a piece of paper to be able to get a real job, but I need a real job to make sure that I survive long enourgh to get the piece of paper. It is a rather wicked little Catch-22 that I am stuck in. (By "real job" I mean one that does require me to drop out of school for minimum wage.)

And today on Facebook, I discovered a new twist. One of my Facebook friends (a writer of Tarot and Wiccan material) recently took a "day job" to help make ends meet---and now, she has people thinking that she is no longer an occultist or an author anymore.

Seriously?! I have never understood the idea that if you are an occult writer, or at least a real one, that you cannot have a day job. Given how small occult book sales are, one automatically needs a day job, or another type of writing gig, to support oneself. It is the reason that I occasionally write other type of stuff under another penname---I like to get paid occasionally.

Anyways, I am hoping that my depression lifts soon. That and the problem with my student loan is fixed. Otherwise, I am going to have to start cruising the LolCats sites to cheer myself up...and that is even worse for my schoolwork and writing than the depression is.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Thirty books all with the same cover

Warning---in this post I am talking about a writer who writes erotica...well, that is the polite term for it.

So tonight, I decide to spend some time on Smashwords...because I had no desire to read my homework. While there I am checking out the various books that people are putting up. I had the adult filter off because I am curious about whether that is a viable money making choice.

(Feel free to blame my curiosity about possible money making options on the fact that part of my student loan has still not gone through yet, and the semester is about to wound down. And I thought some merchants paid out slow.)

While there, I noticed that one of the erotica writers (ok, let's be honest---it is pornography) has used the same cover for thirty of their books. The cover for Summer Suds, a sex romp that starts at a car wash is the same cover (with just the title changed) as Summer Camp Surprise, and the list goes on for twenty-eight more books. They do have a couple of other covers, including one that is used twice.

Nevertheless, I find myself wondering isn't there some rule of thumb that you want the covers of your book to be different from one another? Or does that just apply to actual physical books?

Now, I suspect that the only reason that this writer is even using a cover is that you must have a cover to get into the premium catalog (aka the rest of the distribution network). But seriously, are they so cheap that they are only willing to spend money on one "safe" cover? Looking at their regular website, I realized that they are willing to buy for the more racier, not approved by Apple style of covers (lots of naked flesh and sex acts if you are curious).

So are clothes really that expensive that more than one cover is out of their price range? Or does it really not matter if all your erotica titles have the same cover? And does this also apply to other types of ebooks?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Decided to modify my pricing system

Based on comments made by my peers, I decided to modify my non-fiction ebook pricing system...a little bit.

*Listens to a couple of people running away because he called them "peers."*

I am now using an ebook pricing system based on the following factors:

How original was it? (The more I have to think, the more you have to pay.)
How focused was I while writing it? (Yes, you get to pay more if you want a focused book.)
How advanced is the information? (This is the information-value setting.)
Does it have a lot of diagrams and pictures? (Art supplies cost money; scanning and photo editing takes time.)
How long is it? (Based on word count.)

Note that this does not mean that all my ebooks are going to confirm to this system, but most will.

Based on this new system, Pizza Boxes on the Floor should be priced at $5.99; it would be $7.99 if it was not reprints and I would have been more focused while writing it. There are reasons why it is not priced based on this system---time will tell if those reasons were good reasons or not.

The latest ebook of mine, Five Reasons Why Magic Fails, is priced at $4.99 based on this pricing system.

Of course, having a pricing system opens up the door for critics to claim that all occult writers are only writing for the money. To that I reply, my cats would like to eat (and their food bill is huge, even when they are forced to eat the cheapest store brand). If it is wrong for my cats to eat, then don't pay my ebooks.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

It is time to consider reference books

Once again, it is time to mock my spam mail. This first gem of a sentence is supposely from Paypal:

A strange ip from a different location was recently login into your Paypal account and we have decided to limitate your account on our ongoing effort to protect your account and our relationship, we monitor your account for possible fraudulent activity.

Limitate? Is that actually a word? (Yes, I am too lazy to look for my dictionary.)

Here is another gem of a sentence from some crime commissioner:

Although he has being arrested and put to jail, now laid with Financial action task force custody in Paris de France.
Can we charge you with a crime for abusing our eyes with your murder of proper verb tenses? And I am not sure what the last part of the sentence is supposed to say, so I am guessing a charge of kidnapping sense of meaning is in order too.

Here is a gem from someone who needs a stylebook as well as a grammar lesson:

The agreement reached between the united state of America governments and Nigeria Government under Goodluck Ebere Jonathan,The President Federal republic of Nigeria agreed to release US$1.5M US dollars to you been part payment of your Inheritance / Contract Sum.

Once again, I would like to thank spammers, phishers, and cons for making my English sound so much better. Keep up the good work of abusing the English language for blood and profit.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I have read a bad blog about you

The other day, I got a private message on Twitter stating that read:

I just read a really bad blog about you.

The message also included a shorted URL that rotated through a "session timed out" page before landing on what looks like the Twitter log-in page. I did not go any further. For one thing, the webaddress was not right, and I was already logged into Twitter on another tab.

I think that it is safe to presume that it is a phishing campaign.

But I will admit that it made me curious, so I googled myself "Morgaan Drake Eckstein." The only thing I saw bad in the first five pages was a couple of social networking profiles that show no activity.

I know that there is bad stuff written about me on the internet---after all, I blog about Golden Dawn and the occult. The number one pasttime of certain people in those fields is to badmouth anyone that looks like they might be an authority someday. In fact, I believe that this applies to all working writers.

My advice is to not really gave a duck's butt about bad blog posts about oneself, and just keep working. If nothing else, it will annoy the spammers and your critics.