Time to publish and move on

Today I’m working on formatting a story to publish. Yes, it’s the one I was editing. As soon as it’s gone, I’m going to write.

I’m actually excited to get back to writing. I kind of wish I could justify dumping everything I already have going and just start fresh with it all, but I don’t think I’d be happy to do that in the end, so I’m going to just pick up where I left off on it all.

Plan is simple: over the next few weeks or as quickly as possible (because I want to join NANOWRIMO with a project I can make a fresh start on) I want to finish all my outstanding works in progress.

Here’s what I have to get through and the words I’ve already written:

WIP Novel #160,660
WIP Novel #216,344
WIP Novel #37,737
WIP Novel #42,801
WIP Novel #5 (Will start this fresh for NANO)3,459
WIP Novella #15,398
WIP Short Story #1 (Sequel to the story I’ve just edited, had no idea I’d already written so much for it)4,353

Now, there’s no way I can get through all those WIP novels before November. But I can possibly finish the first two. Then I’ll do the NANO thing, finish that one, then get the rest of these completed by the end of the year.

That’s the plan.

Needs a title

I skipped writing work yesterday. I planned to proofread the last two chapters of my story, but I was tired and I just didn’t get started. I changed my routine and I suspect (ha!) that I sabotaged my own momentum.

Today, I went back to the exact routine that got me working on my story Sun–Wed. So I am here and I am ready to finish this story and, if at all possible today, publish it.

Yesterday, I did listen to some of Dean Wesley Smith’s “Writers’ Deadly Delusions” Pop-up on Teachable. His Pop-ups are similar to his lectures, and I received access to a few as a reward for a few Kickstarters I’ve supported. I’d claim to have learned something, but I’ve heard it all before. :D On the other hand, it’s nice to remind myself of the mindset I find most helpful and enjoyable for my writing and publishing. My perfectionism and other issues really get in my way and I need to work constantly to keep those things from screwing myself over.

On that note, it might be time to re-read some of my Lawrence Block books on writing. Spider Spin Me a Web is excellent, and it’s my favorite. It’s an affiliate link, so maybe I’ll get a penny if you buy it. If you don’t, well, your loss. ;)

Now, I’m going to start on the last chapters of my proofread, make every effort possible to ignore my inner critic and fix only what needs fixed, and then get some actual publishing stuff done.

[I’m a bit pissed off with WordPress right now. For some reason, it deleted the paragraph I had here originally, and now I’m having to rewrite it. Not only did it disappear, WordPress didn’t save it in the revisions. >:( Ah, fuck it. It was something about NANOWRIMO, November, and some wips I want to finish so I can start fresh with a book for it. I really don’t want to waste any more of my morning on this. :D]

I’ll think of a title later

I’ve been in a slump. Probably the worst slump of my life when it comes to writing. I’ve never gone quite as long as I’ve gone this time without wanting to spend time writing anything at all.

I think I’m finally recovering. “Think” being the real state of things, though. I can’t say for sure. I need to maintain a writing streak for a while before I’ll be convinced. I’ve had several small bursts of writing since it started but none of them lasted. Seeing it last is the real test.

My goal today is to finish a proofread of a story I started writing almost two years ago and finished almost a year ago. I proofread half of it six or so months ago, but then I just quit. Don’t know why. Now I have to start over. Which is only fair. :)

Before I quit for the day, I also want to do some actual writing. So off I go to get started. First up, timing myself as I proofread the chapters. Knowing the timer is going keeps me focused and lets me make it through the chapters one by one much faster than I ever did before I started timing my proofreading.

KDP has a new series manager

I logged into KDP a few days ago and found the links to the new series manager.

Today, I noticed there is big link to it on the main Bookshelf page.

Image of KDP's Bookshelf notice for the series manager

I’m glad to see this. I once had a problem with one of my series books not showing up as part of my series, all because of an apostrophe. I didn’t enter the series name differently in the book details, but somehow the system did something totally weird and messed it up anyway.

Maybe now if something similar ever happens again, I can deal with it on my own. :)

The spreadsheets that help me tame the minutia of indie publishing

I’ve been reading a lot lately about spreadsheets and inventories on another site.

Reading about the time involved in such a massive project has made me very happy that I’ve been tracking my stuff from the very beginning.

My main “publish-list” spreadsheet is up to ten tabs of data these days, and even includes all the sales links for my books on all the retailers I upload to. It’s been a handy thing to have.

I include so much in this spreadsheet that it’s difficult to think of something I can’t find there.

Screenshot

Screenshot

Screenshot

Within those tabs, I have a sheet called “File Updates” that tells me how long it’s been since I updated a file on any particular distributor site. It was a wake up call when I added that one because I ended up with a lot of titles in the “2000+ days” category, meaning all the back matter was way out of date.

I recently decided to tackle those old files and the way I’m doing it is to have a goal of updating at least one old file each week on an ongoing basis. That’s 52 files updated in a year, so that means I will have caught up within a year or so without adding in a lot of extra work or losing a lot of writing time.

(I have 34 titles at this point. Someday it will become more than a year’s worth of weeks of updates but I’ll worry about that when it happens.)

I also have a pretty streamlined EPUB generation system these days so this first year of updates will go a long way to making future updates take minutes instead of the hour or so it will take for some of these books now and will mean I should be able to easily update multiple books at a time instead of keeping it to one a week after this first round.

I update my publish-list spreadsheet every time I publish something or make a change that needs to be recorded. And keeping this thing updated is something I force myself to do every time I do anything that affects the data I keep up with. I don’t let myself off the hook on this, ever. It’s just too probable that something will slip through the cracks if I do.

PayPal hassles are pushing me to switch from Smashwords to Draft2Digital

I divorced some-odd years ago, and I’ve lagged with the name change for an online bank account and my PayPal account. I finally got around to it recently, and dear lord, it’s obvious to me now why I waited.

PayPal changes are a hassle. Their (new) website is glitchy and won’t accept my documents for the name change, and the email support is a run around, as is the chat support. First you get automated responses that make it near impossible to get hold of anyone real to deal with issues and then when you do, the wait time is interminable and the notifications to let you know the issue is being dealt with are nonexistent.

The only money I get through PayPal are my Smashwords deposits. Draft2Digital will do direct deposit to a bank account.

I haven’t wanted to switch, for a variety of reasons, but this might just be the thing that does it. If PayPal doesn’t get this done soon and right, I’m just going to close the account. If I close the account, Smashwords no longer makes sense as a distributor. And getting paid for Smashwords sales will become a hassle because I’ll have to go to a check.

However, if that’s what it takes, then so be it.

I do like that Smashwords is not just a distributor, but also a storefront. I do make money from that storefront and I do use the Smashwords coupons sometimes. Still, I’m not that happy with the payment set up because PayPal or check are the only options.

Smashwords really needs to get their house in order and start offering direct deposit.

*Despite the run-around, PayPal actually got this fixed. Crisis averted for the time being.

My writing process in five sentences (and some words about those sentences)

I write a book. I start at the beginning. I write through to the end, taking a few detours along the way usually but always ending up at the end. (3)

I read the book and mark errors and continuity issues to check or fix and make sure nothing sounds wrong (that’s a totally subjective thing for me but it’s just something that sometimes happens because I often write my sentences out of order, leave them half completed, come back to them, finish them, and then realize I just repeated myself—can’t seem to help that this is the way my brain often puts a sentence/paragraph/page together—on the other hand, it’s definitely not how I put a chapter together because I can’t get from one unfinished scene to another!—but sometimes the remnants of this process gets left behind to be found during later read throughs). (4)

I fix all that stuff I mentioned in the previous sentence (which, yes, was just one sentence!) and call my book done. (5)

That was it. Five sentences.

If you think there are steps missing, you haven’t been reading this blog very long. :-)

I indie publish because I like to be in control of my works. I do what I want to do with them. I choose to do what I do, not because of necessity, but because it pleases me. That’s the beauty of indie published works. I can be an artisan.

I’ll be blunt here: I am an artist.

There are people out there who’ll say that back to me with a sneer. But I’ve made my choices and they’ve made theirs and my choices should mean nothing to them. And if they do, maybe those people should rethink whatever it is that makes them feel like they have the right to expect me to live by their rules.

I don’t use first readers, second readers, beta readers, alpha readers, or, in fact, any readers at all other than me during the writing and publishing of my books. I am my own editor. And yes, that includes copy editor, and yes again, I know some people will scream at me about this and claim I’m disrespecting my readers by doing that.

I disagree. I’m an indie publisher with a system that happens to run counter to the majority. That doesn’t make my system wrong. Only different.

If someone picks up one of my books and thinks it isn’t edited properly they can (1) get a refund, (2) never buy another book from me, (3) complain and/or review the book and tell everyone the editing is nonexistent and the book sucks, and/or (4) write me a nasty letter and tell me what they really think.

Don’t link to your email list provider in your books

I’m going to sound smug for a moment, because frankly, that’s how I’m feeling right about now.

From the beginning, I’ve done everything I can to make life easier on myself, and it’s paid off in several ways in the long run.

I make all my links in my books go back to my own author website, including the link for my newsletter sign up.

Link to one of my books? It goes to my website (a page just for that book).

Link to my newsletter sign up form? It goes to my website (a page just for the form for the newsletter sign up).

This is part laziness on my part and part forward thinking. I’m always imagining worst case scenarios, and the worst thing I can imagine happening with links is some service going under and me being stuck with the task of editing who knows how many books and having to upload new files to all the distributors.

So here’s my advice to you, especially if you have a lot of books or plan to write a lot of them!

Link to your own website pages, no matter what anyone else recommends you do, or how much they swear you’ll earn more or get more subscribers or whatever.

I mean, I guess if you don’t mind the work, and doing it in a hurry too when something happens that screws up three hundred links you’ve put all over the web or inside your books and promo materials, then do what you want, but I will never recommend anyone link to anything but pages under their own control.

The end.

:-)

Mailchimp changes—read Gaughran’s post

So day before yesterday, I spent an hour or so trying to find info on the Mailchimp changes I’d just been notified about by email.

I’m on the free plan, because my lists are tiny. Like, really super tiny, because I don’t promote them except in my books and on my websites, and I don’t do list building. (I can barely keep up my writing, so yeah.) My lists are 100% organic and I like it that way. I despise marketing, and dealing with that stuff ratchets up my stress levels to the point that I’d just as soon get another job in accounting as deal with it. At least I like accounting work!

Anyway, I had a feeling someone would put together a good post on the Mailchimp changes, and sure enough, yesterday, David Gaughran did.

Go read it if you use Mailchimp and you’re questioning what the heck they’re doing.

As for me, the first thing I did after reading the email was scoff and then tell my daughter it was obvious Mailchimp was looking for a way to inflate the numbers that they use to charge people for services. Gaughran’s post does a good job of laying it all out, and definitely supports my own view on that.

I can see why Mailchimp did it, but I still think the changes they’re making are kinda stupid. I mean, most people are going to see right through their blather about audiences and retargeting and blah-blah and see the move for what it is—an effort to offer less, earn more, and get out of the “forever free” promises they made in the past.

In all honesty, I think what it shows me is that Mailchimp can’t be trusted.

I went last night and finished up the profile I’d started with Mailerlite and got my account approved. I haven’t decided to bail just yet, but I guess I’ll have to. I have two lists, one of which has 6 subscribers (not joking!) and I’m not going to a paid plan to service that list.

I deleted my unsubscribed and cleaned emails from my main list at Mailchimp and exported it as a csv file, as I do every so often for backup, and over the next week or two I’ll figure out what I’m going to do.

Gaughran and several people in the comments of his post talk about archiving these unsubscribes, but from my reading of the Mailchimp help pages, delete works best for me. I want to be sure people’s info is scrubbed if I’m not using it, and I’m not using unsubscribed emails for any reason.

It’s pretty clear from my reading that people have the right to ask for their info to be deleted at any time, so I chose to be proactive and delete now. If I’m reading all that stuff wrong, I’ll deal with it. This is what I’d want done with my info, so I’m doing that for others.

So… Blasty

A lot of authors will know what I’m talking about: Blasty, that company that claims to send DMCA notices to copyright infringers on the internet, mostly pirates.

What it actually does is send notices to Google to get the sites that infringe out of the Google search engine. Or at least that’s been my experience with it.

It also screws up and sends notices about sites that are not infringing and causes them to lose search engine rankings and (possibly) income.

Ask me how I know.

I have some book promo sites. Or review sites. Or whatever you want to call them, I don’t care. :D I used to talk about books I love and I used affiliate links on those websites to make money before I turned to self-publishing my fiction. There are several old posts on this site from early 2012 and before that talk about it.

Yeah, there’s a reason I haven’t included a link to Blasty here, and that’s because I’m holding a grudge. I also think they’re pretty much a useless service that’s making someone a lot of money from uninformed authors who just want to feel proactive and protect their content.

As I said in a comment on The Digital Reader:

Someone set up a Blasty campaign last year and Blasty sent a DMCA notice to Google about it, and because I had my site set up in Google Webmaster Tools (Search Console), they kindly sent me a notice about it which I immediately disputed. Then I emailed the author whose books Blasty claimed I was infringing. The author told me they couldn’t figure out how to tell Blasty that my site wasn’t infringing.

Then the reported page was out of Google for 10 days while Google processed my dispute.

My personal opinion is that Blasty is run by bots, with no oversight at all. It would have taken one hasty glance at my site’s page to see that all it does is link to Amazon (or some other retailer) where people can buy books and I can earn a little to help pay for the site’s hosting and domain.

What Blasty is really doing is harming some authors’ reputations. If you set up anything automated at Blasty you’re risking auto notices being sent about sites that are not infringing—Blasty clearly does not do any oversight for this. That’s on you and if you screw it up, you could be like the author whose books triggered the DMCA notice to Google for my websites’s page: forever off the list and in some book blogger or promo manager’s never-again black book.

There are authors and books that I will never mention on any site I run ever again. And it’s not even personal. Blasty is a problem I just don’t have to deal with.

There are oodles of books and authors out there that I can promote who aren’t going to make my sites a target.

The problem of publishers pretending to be authors

The fact of the matter is, if it weren’t for the stolen content, the plagiarism, the stealing of rights from (some) people (ghostwriters) too inexperienced to realize what’s actually happening and how many rights they actually have under copyright law, those publishers putting out frequent releases and burying everybody else’s books under their deluge of releases wouldn’t be news.

Well, except for the fact that they’re also unethical enough—or so ignorant of accepted publishing industry practice—to think that pretending to be an individual author instead of being the publisher they really are is a good idea.

I’ve made it clear in the past what I think about author personas. They’re not pen names and they are an outgrowth of get-rich-quick schemers entering the indie publishing industry as the barriers to entry fell away. They’re often unethical attempts to have it both ways: keep everything about oneself private while connecting and commiserating with others about things that matter in their lives by lying about what’s real in one’s own.

It has been a thing in the industry for longer than I’ve been alive to have a publishing house put out books that are written by various people under the pen name of one author. But in almost all cases it is a very easy thing to find actual evidence that this “author” is a house name and not a real person. Publishers haven’t generally tried to convince readers that these house names are authors in the sense we’re all used to.

The new breed of publishers that’ve grown up out of the indie author self-publishing industry spends a lot of time trying to convince us that they’re not publishers—but are in fact individual authors just trying to get by.

Yeah. I don’t think so.

They’re going to great lengths to keep the fact that they’re publishing instead of authoring a secret.

They are lying. They are deceiving. And they are jerks.

And the darkest part of the underbelly of this is that some of them aren’t even depending on real readers to make them money. They’re paying for reads at a cheaper rate than they’re being paid for them in Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited system.

What a crock.

It’s not that I haven’t known about this for a very long time, because I have. But a long time ago, I realized there was nothing much I can do about it at all, except write my own books, refuse to compromise because of what other people are doing, and be my own person.

I’m an author, a writer, and a publisher. And when I publish a book with my name on it, you can bet your ass that I wrote every damn word of it. I don’t publish books for other people and can’t imagine that I ever will. I don’t want to be a publisher. I’m my own publisher because it’s necessary if I want to sell books.

Honestly, I couldn’t care less about what publishers publish. But publishers faking it as authors and lying to people is the one subject that just really pisses me off. And those committing plagiarism to get ahead aren’t even publishers; they’re scammers.

Copyright infringement is against the damn law. People doing that are criminals and no sob story changes that. It is wrong, and our society has codified that in the law.

(I toyed with the idea of linking to bunches of articles and blog posts but the fact is I have a book to write and this stuff takes me way too much time to put together. I’m not a speedy blogger, that’s for sure. If you want more info on all this stuff, just do a few internet searches and you’ll find more than you ever wanted to know about all this garbage.)

The following are just a few of the things I’ve read, to get you started down that rabbit hole.

http://www.courtneymilan.com/ramblings/2019/02/18/cristiane-serruya-is-a-copyright-infringer-a-plagiarist-and-an-idiot/

https://kriswrites.com/2019/02/20/business-musings-ghostwriting-plagiarism-and-the-latest-scandal/

https://www.plagiarismtoday.com/2019/02/20/the-cristiane-serruya-plagiarism-scandal/

http://fallintothestory.com/plagiarism-then-and-now/

https://www.shilohwalker.com/website/2019/02/hot-takes-part-oh-honey-you-went-and-pissed-me-off/

https://jamigold.com/2019/02/what-can-authors-and-readers-learn-from-copypastecris/

Good news for the pre-order averse from Barnes & Noble Press

From the latest Barnes & Noble Press email I received:

eBook Pre-Order no longer requires a placeholder interior file, so you’ll never have to worry that readers will receive anything less than your finished project once it’s ready for release.

This is good news. One reason I’ve personally avoided pre-orders has been the need to provide an interior file. I haven’t felt that the risk of a distributor sending out a file not meant for distribution is offset by the benefits of having a pre-order available. But I also haven’t wanted to tie up a ready-to-publish book in a pre-order, so I haven’t used pre-orders at all.

Smashwords has allowed an asset-less pre-order for a while (as of 2015, in fact), but I just haven’t felt it was worth putting up a pre-order in only one venue. Now here’s another.

This might be the year I finally do some experimenting with pre-orders.

The decline of The Passive Voice website

Well, it was a good run. I used to enjoy reading The Passive Voice blog for the publishing news and stuff, even the random bits that didn’t really have a lot to do with publishing or self-publishing. I have been visiting and reading the site for more than six years.

But The Passive Voice has been in decline for a while now. Of late, the blog has been awash in political wrangling and the comments a chore to read. A few frequent commenters have taken over the comments section in the last several years and their diatribes and viewpoints are just not to my taste.

It’s a chore to talk to people about things that can be divisive and come away from those conversations still friends, or at least friendly. But it’s a hell of a lot more likely to happen in a real world conversation than in an online one. Discussion of divisive topics online has become a no-go for me as I’ve realized how much of a waste of time it is. Even people who are nice, easy to talk to people in real life often act like total assholes online.

I am now saving all these types of conversations for people in the real world whom I respect or who can at least treat another human being with a bit of decency. Anyone else can stuff it.

I’ve successfully cut out the writer forums I used to visit and my enjoyment of writing and self-publishing has improved dramatically. I think it’s time to cut out The Passive Voice too.

I’m kind of thrilled by that decision. Stopping my visits to the forums has been a surprisingly effective mood booster. Even if this is just a blip compared to that, it can only help.

Well, there you go. Bye-bye KBoards

My love/hate relationship with KBoards is pretty much over. VerticalScope bought the site from the former owner and snuck in terms of use changes that I noticed and brought to the attention of the other members, and boom, explosions happened.

When all was said and done (not all has been said and done, but it’s getting there), many of the members agreed that the terms were onerous, ugly, possibly illegal (laying claim to rights VS can’t have just because you’ve posted something on the board, and then stating there’s no recourse if they misappropriate or infringe them, and other weird, overreaching, and unconscionable shit like that), and made it not worth the risk to stick around and keep posting.

I agreed, but since I’ve been mostly anonymous as a user on KB for all the years I’ve been posting there, I wasn’t worried for me. I wasn’t even worried about what VerticalScope might do with the content I still had up because most of it is very much just random comments. There’s not much there to be honest, because I delete most of my posts every year or two to keep things fresh. But then the community manager for VerticalScope, Helene, came on and acted like an asshole with no respect at all for the valid concerns of the non-anonymous members.

So I decided nope not sticking around with assholes like that in charge. Then I went in and cleaned out the 700-ish posts I did still have there.

Permission denied, VerticalScope, I do not choose to agree to your Terms of Use.

I left a few posts, ones that were relevant to the topic of the terms of use, and some in a thread I’d started recently, and that’s it. I decided not to abandon the thread I started but I won’t be posting much in it and will let it die if no one else posts. At that point, I will clear out those posts too, because I don’t like leaving loose threads behind.

Whether or not I post anything else there in the future depends entirely on what VerticalScope does or does not change. As of right now, the plan is to truly abandon KB and not go back once my own thread has died out.

In the meantime, I’ve found a different forum to use to keep up with the news I usually get from KB.

I am sad about this, despite the fact that I’ve been pretty hard on Kboards here. I really had hoped when I posted about the new Terms of Use that someone would come onto the thread and make a good case for why the changes weren’t anything to worry over. I’m disappointed it turned out to be just as ugly as my gut was telling me.

But now that this has all happened, what I really want is to take this opportunity to cut back how much reading/participating/posting I do on any publishing forum. Until I get to the point where I can reliably write my words every day and have plenty of time left over, all this other stuff is just getting in my way. :D

On that note, Leechblock is back.

For those not in the know, that’s 10 minutes total for all those sites combined, in a four hour period. You would be astounded (or maybe not) how quickly 10 minutes goes when you’re trying to read a busy thread. Yesterday I started out with a 4 minute limit and boy was that frustrating in the extreme! :D I had to ease up so that I didn’t become so frustrated that I abandoned this effort. I quite like it.

In the past, I usually turned off access to certain sites during certain times, which works not at all when you’re not tied to a writing schedule. :) I also had tried limiting myself to so much total time per day on some sites, but my personality is such that I would use all the time, then get annoyed that I couldn’t go back for the entire day. So that didn’t work, because I constantly cheated myself by pausing or resetting Leechblock.

This particular set up seems to work well with my brain. I get to look at the clock and know it’s only a few hours until I can go back if I get locked out, and that is soon enough to trick me into getting on with other things instead of dwelling on it and then ultimately cheating. :D

The news tab is even more restricted. I allow 2 minutes every 4 hours, with the intent to save anything I really want to read to Pocket. :) I do my Pocket reading when I’m really desperate for something to occupy my mind. Half the time, I delete a whole bunch of stuff unread because I’ve let it get stale and lost interest. That right there, my friends, is half the battle won. :D

Well, I’ve wasted enough of my morning writing this up, so I’m moving on to the next post about my upcoming writing sessions. See you there. :)

 

My turn to move paperbacks from CreateSpace to KDP

CreateSpace has been rolling out the migration from CreateSpace to KDP Print since sometime last week. I finally got the popup notice (although no email notifications) that I should consider moving my books.

I didn’t delay, just went ahead and clicked the “Get Started” button, because—

  1. I don’t sell oodles of paperbacks anyway, so if it messed something up I’m not losing much.
  2. I’ve heard that once the popup goes away, it’s gone for a long time.
  3. I’m impatient and I wanted it over and done with.

The migration actually seems to have gone off without a hitch. On the other hand, I haven’t examined any of the books in detail since moving them from CreateSpace to KDP.

I had to link two drafts to the ebooks, but all the other paperback books linked up on their own, matching to the correct ebooks without any trouble.

We’ll see later today or tomorrow if it actually went well, when I log in and check out the details.

I’m hesitant to do anything that’ll require me to approve a book at the moment, because if it leads me to needing to make cover or interior file adjustments, I’m not ready. I’m trying really hard to get this next book finished and don’t want to split my focus if I don’t absolutely have to.

Amazon has a help article up about the switch, and David Gaughran posted about the closing on his blog. And of course, it’s a big topic on Kboards.

Just an FYI, if you haven’t been paying attention, Kboards is under new ownership. I’m still considering how I feel about that and might use this as the push I need to cut Kboards out of my daily routine. I just need to find a replacement so I don’t feel especially cut off from news about big happenings in the SP world. Suggestions are welcome (but I don’t—and won’t—do Facebook). :D

(Facebook has rules about pseudonyms. I use pseudonyms for pretty much all my online activities. Furthermore, I have a unique name that makes it ridiculously easy to track my online activity when I don’t use a pseudonym, I hate being followed around online by Facebook, and I care about following the rules when it’s not something that’s going to hurt me. Enough said.) :-)

Corrections abound

It was late last night when I wrote all those posts about the writing of my current book, what to call a book, and the day’s progress, and I made some errors. :D

The big one, of course, is that this is not book 21 I’m working on!

This is book 19.

I’ve gone back and edited those posts to take out the wrong information. It just seemed easier that way than trying to note the corrections. :D

I messed up because I used the table I have in my spreadsheet to tell me how many books I have in each category of length: novel, novella, novelette, and short story. That table gave me 18+2=20 for the novel and novella length books.

Or so I thought.

This morning, I remembered something important about that table. It’s pulling data from my “Publish List” which includes every title I’ve published. The table is counting anything over 40,000 words as a novel and is counting a novel that I wrote well before 2012 and that’s no longer published.

I don’t want those two books to count.

The one, I didn’t write but compiled it from stories I’d already written; and the other, well, let me just say it’s old, I’m not sure it’s any good, and I was happy to unpublish it even though it did sell a copy and was one of the things that made me sure I could do this publishing thing for money. :D

Me and late nights do not agree.

So here is the correction:

I have 18 books and 12 short stories. (Between three pen names.)

The book I’m working on now is book 19.

 

Kindle Unlimited: a pirate’s treasure

Here’s a screenshot of a post on a forum. Maybe you can guess the forum, but I’m going to do the sane thing here and not mention it by name, because I’m not interested in sending goons after the bad guys and becoming a bad guy myself.

But ain’t that grand?

Personally, it’s just one of many reasons I stay far, far away from Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program.*

(Also known as: Customers ripping off authors by downloading loads of books while signed up to a three-month trial of KU costing 99¢, stripping DRM from those books, reading those books in a way that won’t register for the author’s benefit (AKA authors not getting paid for pages read, because Amazon can’t stop this or account for it because payment is based on page reads instead of something reliably easy to track like, you know, borrows…), and then keeping those books indefinitely after canceling the KU membership.)

Pirating happens, and so does stealing, if one defines this kind of thing as theft. (I do, and although there are technicalities about why this might not be actual theft, I don’t care. Thievery is as good a name for it as any as far as I’m concerned.) There’s not much an author can do about this that won’t cost more in time and effort than is lost to the pirating (and theft), so I don’t worry about it much. Just nothing to be done.

Amazon has proven they’re unwilling to do anything. They switched from a system that worked around this kind of thievery to make sure authors got paid at least for the download to a system that pays literally as little as possible and makes authors eat any losses because of badly behaving Amazon customers.

In all honesty, I probably wouldn’t let this stop me from participating in KU if there were other benefits that I was interested in, but there aren’t, so I don’t. It’s an ugly system, and I choose to stay as far away from it as I can.

As for the pirating and thievery, well, people are either willing to pay or they aren’t. The money gets too slim, they’ll have to read someone else’s books because I won’t be writing, so tough on them if they really liked what they stole. And if they didn’t like it, well, too bad so sad for them. That’s a sweet revenge of a different sort. Reading that stolen book wasted their time, and that’s something they ain’t never getting back. :D

*I did have one book in KU way back when. I won’t bore you with details here but there’s a link if you want to know more.

Amazon.co.uk is having a sale on print books that’s causing KDP to price match my ebook

I don’t know exactly what’s going on this morning with Amazon.co.uk and KDP, but I came across an odd value in my sales report from KDP for one of my books. I double checked the book on Amazon.co.uk, where the odd “royalty” came from, and realized Amazon.co.uk is price matching one of my books. The problem is, there’s no lower price anywhere for that ebook.

After a few clicks around the page, I found what I think is the root issue.

Amazon.co.uk appears to be having a sale on the paperback for this book, offering it at a significant discount—but only with orders of at least £10.00 of books.

Screenshot from the Amazon.co.uk web page for one of my books. Notice the price? Yeah, that’s a price match to the paperback.

Yay for them for having a sale.

Not so much yay for me.

I’m the one taking the hit on royalties earned for every sale of this book well in excess of what I’d make up for in volume because of the lower price, for a price match that isn’t even a real price match, because (1) they’re matching a paperback price and (2) the only way to get the low price is to buy £10.00 worth of books.

I have to say, I become less enamored by Amazon every year. Of course, I was part of the Amazon affiliate program well before I started publishing my books through KDP, so I never had a lot of the warm fuzzies for them as a business associate to begin with.

Still, every little blow just hardens my heart against them that much more.

Because this? Is not cool.

Pen name ethics

There’s been some grumbling on Kboards about pen names and personas that has struck a chord with me. I use pen names and I don’t think anything is wrong with that. I don’t have a problem with anyone choosing to use them, for whatever reason they want to use them.

But I do have qualms about the use of personas. They ring of sock puppets and scam tactics to me, and although maybe that’s not how the authors who use them think of them, I can’t help but find it distasteful and deceptive.

On the one hand, making up a name doesn’t seem so different than making up a dog you don’t have. But to me, I do think of those things differently. When I interact with people, that fake name doesn’t really mean anything. I still interact with people as myself, even if it’s only using select attributes of myself.

Say I’m shy in real life (I’m not that shy, mostly standoffish, which is actually quite different). But say I am. I might dig deep and pull from the part of me that isn’t as shy and give myself permission to be more outgoing and brave with other people while interacting under the name of my pen name.

That kind of thing just doesn’t feel deceptive to me. That’s me behaving differently because of who I’m interacting with. I could choose to interact that way as me or as my pen name and no one would think much of it.

But if I give myself a fake dog, when I interact with others, if I choose to use my real name, then the people that know me are going to know I’m lying. Just because I choose to interact under a different name, a pen name, doesn’t mean I’m not lying any less.

So, no, I’m not supportive of authors who create entire personas that are fake. I just don’t think it’s right to do that kind of thing and present it as fact. It’s lying. It’s deception. It’s lying and deception meant for personal gain.

The thing about author bios is that it’s not generally accepted that they’re going to be fake. People, in general, expect bios to be genuine. When they’re not, it breaks a trust with the reader. I care about that. I don’t want any readers of mine to ever be able to come to me and say I lied to them or deceived them about who I am.

I hold back a lot in my bios. That’s because I’m not willing to lie about who I am, but I’m also not willing to give everything about myself away to people I don’t know. Personas are a way of trying to have it both ways.

There are authors I’ve read and loved in the past that I don’t read anymore because of this kind of thing. I have no interest in supporting people who enjoy deceiving others or who are willing to deceive others because they think it gives them an edge in whatever market they’re in. The thing about those kind of people is that they don’t care. They’ll probably never care. But I don’t have to like or support them.

Marketing has a bad reputation because of people who’ll do anything to make a sale. In my mind, I have no doubt that authors who adopt actual personas with made up details about their lives are some of those people.

Not so bad? WTF

I was reading this blog post on book stuffing this morning (and it’s a good one) and came to the screenshots that included comments someone had made in the Chance Carter Diamond Group.

Mind blown.

Why? Because I don’t understand who would look at that list of instructions on how to do the KU Flip and actually think anyone is worth that kind of time investment.

I understand there are people out in the world who feel entitled to steal other people’s time while providing nothing of real value in return, just so they can make a few extra dollars off each one. I do.

But I don’t understand why people value themselves so little that they would actually let it happen. It’s worth it for a free book? A chance at a prize? You’ve got to be kidding me.

And then to think that this character—this person—is already making thousands every month and these readers are giving up time—something that you never, ever get back—to give this person another $12-15 for a KU read? Ugh. Fuck that.

Inherently selfish people have no trouble taking advantage of givers. These poor givers are giving and giving, and this dude is just taking and taking and taking.

The only way this makes sense to me is if it’s all just a big pyramid scheme and the used are hoping to become the users at some point and recoup their investment. But that’s not what I’m hearing. These are readers, who’ve been drawn in by this person’s persona, and who choose to let themselves be used in this way.

I’m sad that I don’t really believe in karma in this life. Maybe in the next.