Thursday, April 21, 2016

"Farewell Sweet Prince"

The year 2016 has been a rough one for music. Not long ago, we lost another great genius: Prince. 

Prince Nelson brought more to us than just his own music. He also wrote and priduced music for others, as well as brought new talent to the industry. He was as important behind the scenes as he was being the scene. 

So, my website will be purple for the next few days to honor a musician whose music I greatly enjoyed. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Definition of Success

Claude Fortehomme recently penned this blog entry making the claim that Amazon stated “only 40 self-published writers are a success.”
In her definition, “success” means having sold more than a million copies.
She further states that there are “hundreds of thousands that don’t.”
Well…duh!
I know many writers who haven’t sold a million copies of their books yet. However, they are still buying houses, putting their kids through college, swimming in their swimming pools, sailing their boats, driving their cars, taking vacations and cruises, buying vacation homes, and still are able to pay the bills and put food on the table.
So what the hell is going on here?
A little misdirection called “cherry picking.” That’s when you choose only the numbers that support your argument, while ignoring the rest that completely sink your hypothesis. (Take a look at the GOP’s use of science…)
What Amazon actually said was, “Over the last five years, close to 40 independent authors have sold more than a million copies of their e-books on Amazon.”
That wasn’t a lament about the small number of independent authors who were making a living, it was bragging about how the number of independent authors making it big is growing.
And yes, there are thousands of writers who don’t sell anywhere near that number of books. I happen to be one of them. Not only that, I am definitely at the bottom of the heap. (I hope to change that status.)
But what is the definition of success here?
If an author sells 10,000 books, the publishing industry considers that a hit. An author whose book sells 10,000 copies is likely to get another contract with that publisher.
But how about an independent author?
Let’s look again at that 10,000 copies sold.
If an independent author is pricing their ebook at $4.99 per copy, then that 10,000 copies makes a gross profit of $49,900.
Amazon—and other retailers—takes a 70% cut. That means for that author, the 10,000 books just made $34,930. 
That $35K is not chump change. It isn't as much as the median household income in the United States, but it is over the poverty line. Many independent authors would be thrilled with sales like this, because it means they could write full time instead of mucking along in cube-farm hell. Yes, Ms. Fortehomme was absolutely correct in that many independent writers are not getting rich off their work—but the same can be said of many traditionally-published authors. What is important is that more independent writers are likely to make enough money to support themselves without another job than traditionally published authors.
Want to find out just how much independent authors are really making? Then go to this website and start studying: Author Earnings.


Thursday, November 19, 2015

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Goodbye to a Friend

“It was good to see you, Bill. Catch you later!”
Those were my last words to a friend. Days later—yesterday—he was gone.
It was sudden and fast. A car crash. His car struck another.
Something that made no sense to me. Bill was not the reckless type. Then, finally, a little more detail became known: he was in apparent cardiac arrest when the accident happened.
There is the possibility that he was already gone before the cars collided.
Sleeves rolled up, ready to help, Bill was one of those people who was always there. Someone you always expected to be there. His hand was always there to shake mine. He always made the effort to seek me out and make me feel welcome. That was the kind of person he was.
And now, he isn’t there.
At the same time, he is.
A common platitude used by people in times of death is, “I’m sorry for your loss.”
Only, in this matter, there is no loss. I gained from having known Bill. And what many others have gained knowing him.
No matter how much I wish I could change what happened, I can’t. 
Instead, moving forward, I will pick up the candle of his example and use that as a light to guide others.
My friend will be missed. But I won’t wallow in the pain of sorrow. Instead, I will reach out my hand and clasp the hands of others with a grip of friendship and welcome.
Just as Bill did the last time I saw him.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Taylor Swift vs. Apple Over Compensation

It’s funny how quickly things can change.
When Apple upped and announced that they were not going to pay artists for music streamed during the three month trial period, I immediately thought that was patently unfair. Here, the wealthiest company in the world, was essentially funding its business plan on the backs of the artists who were barely scraping by on the few pennies that trickled down to them from one song sale to another. I had a nice missive half put together addressing my reaction to this policy.
Then Taylor Swift swung in and announced she would not be releasing her new Album on iTunes because of Apple’s policy that they would not pay artists for music streamed during a listener’s three-month free trial of the iTunes radio service. Her message spread around the world like wildfire, being picked up by most major news outlets and social sites.
Eddy Cue, Apple’s Vice President of Internet Software and Services, relented his position and announced that Apple would indeed continue to pay artists their due during the free month trial period offered for new customers to Apple’s streaming service.
So, problem solved, issue averted, life moves on. Musicians will be paid for their music and Apple will wade into the music streaming business.
Only…

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Reviewed! (Maybe)

British author Mark Lawrence put out a challenge: have self-published fantasy authors submit their books to be reviewed by highly respected bloggers who write about fantasy and review books.
The structure of the challenge is to have ten reviewers be assigned 25 books each. From those, they will select one favorite to be submitted to the final pool. Once ten books have been submitted by the reviewers, then all the reviewers would read each of the books in the final pool and score each of those books. The book with the highest cumulative score would win.
From 250 to 10 to 1.
So what does that one book win? The prize is to have reviews posted by each and all the bloggers.
In other words, a huge publicity surge and promotional event.
I submitted Aggadeh Chronicles Book 1: Nobody to be considered. It has been accepted into the first round.
For all the self-published authors who submitted their work for consideration, there is still more opportunity. The reviewers have the liberty to review any of the books in their block. If a given book isn’t selected as their finalist, the reviewer can still review that book. So, even a second or third place finish can still be a win for any of the authors in the challenge. The worst thing that could happen is the reviewer didn’t like the book and doesn’t post a review for it.
For the bloggers, they just got a whole heap of potentially good books to read through. Many of them expressed a lot of interest and enthusiasm for the project, wanting to get more self-published titles into their collections of reviews.
The competition is going to be fierce. Going through the list of titles, I recognized a number of the other authors and I must say that they are very good writers.
The reviewers themselves are also highly qualified. They are not just random people who post occasional book reviews. Some have won awards for their work. They receive submissions from publishers to review their newest offerings. They all have large followings with thousands of readers.
It’s that last point that makes this such an important undertaking: large audiences. The winning author gets exposed to many potential new readers. The question on everyone’s mind—both author and reviewer alike—is will this result in a surge in sales for the winning author? For the author, the payout is obvious. But there is a something in it for the reviewer: demonstration of relevance. Did the review have any impact at all? Are people really reading these recommendations?
There is a third group with skin in the game: the self-publishing community at large. Self-publishing, while it is hitting the writing industry like a hurricane, still carries a bit of stigma in the industry. But as self-published writers crowd out trade-published writers in the bestsellers lists and begin to rake in million-copy sales, it is getting harder and harder to dismiss self-published authors as sub par.
The reviewers commented how they were excited to be looking at self-published work from independent authors. That reviewers are interested in promoting self-published books is a big step. It used to be incredibly difficult to get a reviewer to look at a self-published book. The famous New York Times bestsellers list only began accepting content from self-published authors two years ago.
What makes or breaks a good book is how visible the author can make the book to the reading public. If reviewers are becoming excited about promoting self-published books, this opens a huge promotion channel for independent authors. In this, everybody wins.
I say thank you to Mr. Lawrence and his idea to bring together independent reviewers and writers.
Now I just have to wait and see if I make the next cut. Stay tuned…!

Update–2015-03-26: Oops! Had a wrong link above. I forgot to paste the URL when I created the link, so it defaulted to another site by my writing program. (fixed)

Update-2015-05-12: Nope, didn't make the cut. Why? As I said above, the competition was very tough as there were some really good writers in the group. Only one can get the nod, and it wasn't mine. Better luck next time! :) Need the reviewer write a review for it? No, that's totally up to the reviewer.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Readers Rejecting Ebooks? Not Quite…

Or so the headline claims.
It’s a good article. Read it. But keep in mind there are some very misleading points in the article.
The headline should have been: “Today’s College Students Prefer Printed Textbooks Over Reading on Computer Screens.
That would have been far more accurate and much less misleading.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

SFWA Now Says "YES!" to Self-published Writers


At long last it has finally happened: the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) has voted to allow self-publication and small press credits to be accepted for membership and associate membership in their organization. The final vote was 6 to 1 in favor of changing their bylaws.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Self-Publishing is Hard

I discovered writing when I was nine-years-old. A fourth-grade creative-writing exercise by my teacher, Lark McGuire, was an absolute epiphany for me. And I mean the Biblical scale kind of epiphany, where the rest of the world fades away and you are standing in beams of heavenly light while angels are singing kind of epiphany. The more I read, the more I wanted to write. By the time I reached fifth grade, I pretty much knew that I wanted to be a writer when I grew up.