Tuesday, December 27, 2011

On Failure

My proof copy arrived on Friday after I made the post, and I've been reading through it since. Found a handful of things to fix, most of which aren't major. I'd wanted to be done with the read-through by now, but holidays and social time got in the way. Oh, well, I'm hoping to finish up in the next couple days, and upload the corrected text. And then we're live, baby!

I suppose that's an odd way to start a post titled "On Failure," but for me it's a great example of what you can do when you are willing to fail. Dean Wesley Smith wrote a fantabulous post about failure and how failure is not an option. It's just going to happen. Learn from it and move on. If you aren't failing, you aren't trying often enough.

I know a lot of people who think self-publishing is a kind of failure. For me, not self-publishing would be failure. I'm getting out there now, in what is possibly the best new-book market I'm likely to see in my lifetime. If I fail, so what? I'm going to keep putting stuff out there, and every sale is a success. How can I consider self-publishing a failure when I make money every month off of work I did two years ago?

Image: jscreationzs / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Friday, December 23, 2011


I'm on vacation! (/happydance) No day job for me until January 4th! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

As if that weren't awesome enough, I ordered my proof copy of the print edition of Scent and Shadow, and it shipped yesterday. SQUEE! Is it here yet? Is it here yet? How about now?

While I wait (trying to remember to breathe) for the mail, The Husband and I are going to go see the new Sherlock Holmes movie, and we're going to go shopping for a new refrigerator (yeay!), and we're going to do our favorite holiday activity - getting hot drinks at the mall and walking around slowly, not buying anything and just enjoying the schadenfreude. Happy holidays, folks!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

KDP Select

(This is a comment I originally made over at Adventures in SciFi Publishing in response to episode 156--which has a fabulous interview with Dan Wells, BTW--and I thought I would post it here as well.)

I think everyone is taking Kindle Select way too seriously.

For some authors KS makes sense. These are the indie authors who, for whatever reason, already don’t have their books up at other outlets. I don’t know why authors do this, but I know there are authors out there who do. In which case, KS has no real downside.

Other authors may want to try it out for awhile, particularly if they don’t have many sales outside Amazon. It may make sense for one title, but not another. Up to the author. But no one is “forcing” them to participate.

Personally, I chose not to participate. I want my titles to have the widest possible distribution, aside from the fact that I generally don’t approve of exclusives. (Unless SciFi Book Club wants an exclusive on the hardcover edition of my book. In that case, I am totally on board. ;) Email me, please!)

I also don’t like the payment arrangement. If they want to offer up a straight royalty, it might make more sense. But I don’t like the “pot” and I won’t participate in a program that encourages that model.

And that’s my choice. No one is forcing me to do anything.

People need to keep in mind that Amazon, like all publishers, is a business. They are not in the business of making friends with authors. They are in the business of growing their market share and making money long term. (Please see Kris Rusch’s recent article on traditional publishers and their suppliers for a more detailed insight.)

Amazon is not evil, nor are they the indie author’s best friend. They’re a business. They distribute books. I supply books, as a business. End of relationship. If I don’t like their model, I can go elsewhere. Hell, I have one story that I don’t distribute through Amazon because they won’t let me sell it for free from the get-go, and I have chosen not to make any money from that story. Therefore, even though I would get more exposure via Amazon, and even though I’ve gotten two of my other stories to show up for free, I don’t “sell” that story with them.

(Note: I sell my novel for $4.99, and short stories for $0.99, and have a few freebies so people can see if they like my writing. Plus I give away a new free story every Halloween, because I like to. My novel sells. My short stories sell. There is no race to the bottom unless you choose to participate.)

Also, I disagree with the freaking-out about KS titles getting extra ranking. So what? I don’t worry about my ranking. I sell copies of my works every month, through many different channels. That’s all I care about. The ranking system is too fluid to lose sleep over. Besides, Amazon SHOULD pimp its partners. Just like a publisher can buy co-op at a bookstore, these authors are essentially buying co-op with Amazon. That’s just business, and frankly, doesn’t effect my sales one way or the other. Someone else’s success does not diminish my sales. Hell, if I’m lucky, one of those best-sellers will be an “also viewed” for my book or something.

In short: worry less, write more. That’s how an indie author will succeed in this biz.

Friday, December 16, 2011

100 Words About: Bottled Water

Talk about an answer to a problem no one had. I mean, yes, it's nice that you can buy water for those rare times when your water utility doesn't work (yes, I live in a first world nation), or to keep around in case of a natural disaster, or for when you go camping or something. But really. Buy some reusable jugs and just fill them from your tap.

I have worked in a few buildings where the tap water tasted weird, and then we had a water cooler. My favorite part of having a water cooler around is the hot water spigot. Instant tea! Yeay! But I'm thinking less of water coolers and more about the 12 or 20 or whatever ounce bottles you buy at the grocery store.

I mean, when I go to a restaurant, and they ask me what kind of water I want (tap or bottled or uber-filtered-blessed-by-the-Pope), a little part of me dies inside. It's water, people. H2O. We have the miracle of modern plumbing and water filtration. USE IT. What a freaking waste of money, not to mention all the plastic bottles.

I'll buy water when I'm on the road, but that's because I was too dumb to remember to bring a reusable bottle with me. And because if you want something to drink that isn't sweet, water is pretty much your only choice. When I'm really lucky I can find bottles of Lipton Unsweetened Black Tea. (Thank you, Lipton!) Otherwise I have to find a fast food place that has unsweetened tea. (Which, sadly enough, is usually cheaper..)

Image: Keattikorn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What Makes a Romance?

This week I'm pulling a little you-tell-me.

What makes a romance?

For me (as a reader), there are two big things that a romance must have: love, and a HEA/HFN ending.

Love is the biggest part of a romance for yours truly. These characters don't just have to be attracted, they don't just have to like each other; they need to be in love. I want to see a textbook case of Consummate Love at the end of the story. We're talking selfless, nurturing, makes-you-grow-in-good-ways sort of love.

And (again, my opinion) it's not a romance if there isn't a happily-ever-after or happy-for-now ending. If the two romantic characters are not together at the end, no matter how much foreshadowing or set-up there is for the next book, to me that ain't a romance. It's something else with romantic tension.

What about you? What makes a book a romance? What do you want to see in "romance" books? Do you think a book can still be a romance even without the ending? What definition of love do you use? There's no right or wrong answer, because it's totally subjective. Leave a comment with your thoughts!

Image: Idea go / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Sick Pets

Oi. It's a little after 9pm and I've just gotten home. The Bulldog started acting weird, and then started acting really sick, so off to the vet we went. Fortunately, my awesome vet is open late on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so we didn't have to go to the emergency vet this time.

He may be suffering complications from some gastric misadventures he had on Sunday - in particular, a fist-sized hunk of bleu cheese that was wrapped in foil and inside a ziploc baggie, which magically disappeared. X-rays indicate it may still be in the dog, four days later. Joy. We gave him some meds tonight and we get to take him back to the vet in the morning to see if the x-rays look different. If not, we may be looking at surgery.

It's so frustrating when your pet is sick. You know they're in pain, and there isn't a damn thing you can do about it, and you can't even explain to them what's going on. You just feel so helpless.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Photoshop, Layouts, and Eyestrain

Ok, so I didn't get any of the writing done last month that I wanted to. But I did complete one Adobe Photoshop class and start another, mostly completed the print edition book cover (have to finish the logo, but the rest is done), and am about a third of the way through doing the layout of the print edition. I had hoped to finish it this weekend, but then The Bulldog got into some stuff he shouldn't have, and long story short, I didn't get ANYTHING done on Sunday.

But! I'm hoping to have the layout done soon! The logo shouldn't take me long either. My eyes are killing me though. I stare at a computer all day at my day job, and while I'm used to doing that and then writing, doing that and then staring at photo pixels or the shape of text (while trying not to read it) is a whole other level of eyestrain.

I have to tell you, it is majorly exciting to see the full cover layout. Not only is it super cool, but I get the whole "I did that!" feeling when I look at it.

I did do a little bit of editing on Demon's Asylum, a new Aether Vitalis novella which is my next release. Also, I got a start on the cover, which was great because I had no idea what I was going to do for the cover on that one. And then I was futzing around in Photoshop class and found some stock art and hey-presto, background for the novella cover. Sweet!

Long-time readers may remember me talking about project 1794 now and again. That's Demon's Asylum. I originally started it in late 2009, but then my cousin died and my writing went to hell for a little bit. I'm trying to focus really hard on getting the print edition done this month, but I'm going to try really hard to get Demon's Asylum ready for you all as well.

The story takes place in London in 1794. George Wickham has been able to see supernatural creatures for what they are since he was born, so maybe getting thrown into Bedlam asylum was inevitable. But Wickham knows better; he was set up. He finds an unexpected ally in his doctor, two-hundred-year-old vampire Thomas Thornton, but when the two men become lovers, Wickham realizes he's only traded one danger for another, with no way of knowing which is the more deadly.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Unlikely Skills, and a Great Non-Profit

I have always been a bit of a jack of all trades. I like the idea of having a wide skill base, plus I'm pretty good at it. "It" being the ability to learn and (at least somewhat) retain a lot of random stuff.

This week I had cause to be grateful to the Milton Bradly game Operation. All those hours of my youth spent carefully teasing small objects out of tight spaces came in damn handy when I had to get a stuck piece of paper out from behind the hot fuser in the office copier. (And of course the paper kept tearing into smaller and smaller pieces...) But, I managed to un-jam the copier without burning myself! See, skills you never knew you'd actually use in real like can indeed be useful.

And speaking of useful and skill, how about sending our skilled troops overseas some useful Kindles? Ebooksfortroops.org is a wonderful non-profit organization that sends Kindles to American troops! If you're getting a new ereader this holiday season, you might want to consider donating your old ereader to this awesome cause.