DetCon1 Redux (Part One)

I’m sitting just outside the DTW jetty that will eventually have a plane parked at its other end. This plane will take me to PHX and thence further on, and hopefully home, to SEA. While I sit, sipping an iced chai from the coffee stand down the concourse, I’ve been reviewing the last four days. Trying to form the lessons I’ve learned into something I can use moving forward. Articulate the wisdom of those who have gone before me.

I should note that in addition to all the learning and networking I had an awesome time. The North American Science Fiction Convention happened to to intersect with the NetRoots Nation convention. This proved a particularly good sort of kismet for all involved. Every time I had a little down time I was approached by someone from the adjacent affair who would invariably say something like “What’s this all about?” or “I don’t read science fiction, but I want to more ….” In some small way all that curiosity and social boundary crossing I think enriched the experience for all involved. Plus, I believe the verdict was that DetCon1 had the better room parties.

Matt Thyer and Jim Hines

From the get-go my convention schedule seemed subject to change. The Vice President’s visit to the same building meant that I got stuck in some amazing traffic. As a connoisseur of the finest road bound cluster events in Norther America and beyond I can say that this was a classic Interstate stoppage. Ultimately, this meant that I missed my scheduled reading. But don’t feel bummed for me because the agile and capable staff running the convention from the table in the green room busted a move and helped me find a spot on Saturday. Opposite Jim Hines. Which was awesome. Did I happen to mention I read opposite Jim Hines? I should probably say that again, opposite Jim Hines.

Had I nothing to read other than a crap pile of words I would still fail to see how this could have gone badly for me. Jim Hines…. Rather my first reading at a convention turned out to be a fairy tale princess event with butter and bacon. We (and mostly he) packed the room. It was standing room only and as we got ready I couldn’t help grinning madly because I knew that I had selected a black arrow from my quiver.

Chapter four of the second book in the “sports in space” series is about the naval space program’s super secret Atlatl gunboat system told from the point of view of Gunnery Sergeant Capston. I had rehearsed the reading a bunch the night before, I wanted it to go really well. I knew there were three good laughs in the manuscript and the potential for a cringe. They happened, all where I had anticipated they might. Even better I know how I can do a better job next time.

The reading was an amazing learning experience and it also served as a great opportunity to get to know Jim Hines a little better. What a great guy to be friends with. I am really looking forward to Geek Fan Expo in September where we’ll both be special guests.

Speaking of readings, I caught John Scalzi and Jacqueline Carey combined reading. A memorable hour of my life, and one which I can now refer to in an effort to make future readings of my work all the better. Both of these excellent authors are also the very best public readers.

So, yes, watching these two masters read was very helpful and informative. I also got to spend some time face-to-face with them both as well as others. A memorable tid-bit that Scalzi left me with was something like, “The operating mode of writing is failure, so get used to it. Submit, and while you’re waiting write some more. Eventually, you’ll get sales.”

Finally, John’s wife Kristine was at the convention. Much like my wonderful Tess, Kristine is a capable, smart, and loving woman who teams up with her main man in the creative process. Perhaps the most important take away from our conversations was that I was reminded I really need to listen and pay attention to what Tess has to say about my work. Perhaps more importantly what she tells me about the way I conduct my business. She is my first, best fan in addition to my partner. Also, “never compromise when it comes to your work.” Kristine gave me this fundamental as a guideline and then we enjoyed a beer in between panels. If you’re reading this, I’ve heard you both. Loud and clear.

And with that, I must leave you. The plane is at the far end of the jetty and the scent of anticipation is running through the crowd. Yes, there will be more. Stay tuned, big announcements are blog bound.

Holy Cow! Goodreads Giveaway

So sometime in February I purchased a good reads ad. According to their daily emails ~22,000 of you have seen the add and only two of those clicked through to check my book out. Needless to say, I’ve been underwhelmed by Goodreads ads for months now. Daily I get an email telling me how many more of you passed over my book. It’s a slow motion death by microscopic cuts to the ego. One which I am paying for fifty cents at a time.

So it was that, about the same time I bought my plane tickets to DetCon1, I decided that I’d likely have a pile of books to give away soon after the convention. “Why not,” I said to myself, “try out one of these new fangled Goodreads giveaways.” I wasn’t expect much of anything. Worse when I tried to embed the widget for the giveaway on my wordpress site I wound up covered in computer puke, head to foot. Late that night I sort of gave up and went to bed. Then I forgot about it.

Today — after a brief but informative conversation with Steve Drew, Super Fan and Emperor of r/Fantasy — I went and checked the giveaway I had previously scheduled. Now my chin has a bruise on it because that was unquestionably a jaw dropping experience.

Overwhelming response, no advertising

Yes, you read that right 169 people entered to win one of 20 copies with absolutely no advertising. Want one?

Writers, Choose Your Side

Good morning world. I’m sipping coffee brewed in a melitta funnel and really enjoying that caffeinated buzz. And I need it too. Yesterday I ran to the top of Granite Mountain (West) in some very muggy, hot weather and then wrote a pile of words for COUNTERFEIT HORIZON. Oh yeah, and we got the washer-dryer stack replaced on the third floor of our townhouse. Good grief, I was productive.

During all of that doing I was patently unaware of the storm brewing in writer-land. It seems that authors all over the world were drawing lines in sand while I slept and now I’ve been asked to choose a side. Yes, we’re talking, once again, about the Hachette/Amazon battle that is still smoldering.

“What has changed?” you ask. A number of prominent, traditionally published authors have recently gone public. They are asking for reader condemnation of Amazon. Then, this morning, Hugh Howey published this petition asking for reader/writer support of Amazon.

Everyone is currently engaged in the truly enduring past time of second guessing one another via public media outlets such as Twitter. And I, I am left scratching my head in bewildered and somewhat misanthropic cloud of confusion. Some days, I can’t not hate you guys.

https://twitter.com/chuckwendig/status/484708195806744577

https://twitter.com/charlesacornell/status/484711319631712256

Where do I stand on this critical matter of the day? When I examine my soul, I find that I just don’t. Hachette and its army of apologists haven’t done anything that has made me like them any more. No book deals offered, not even misleading and unfruitful interest expressed. Amazon, despite being a key component of my “success” as a writer, isn’t making nice-nice with anyone either. The fact of the matter is that two really big corporations are acting worse than poorly raised and regulated toddlers at the play area. And making matters worse they’re both bandwagoning decisive and vocal support for their poorly articulated positions within a darkroom debate.

The best way to resolve any problem in the human world is for all sides to sit down and talk.
— Dalai Lama

People, here is a really fine example of the exact wrong moment to express your tightly held beliefs. Amazon and Hachette are using you and your incessant flame wars as an excuse to avoid solving their problem. And you fools are just playing into that dumb game. These corporations need to come to the table and fix their problems. Not you, traditionally published authors, and not you, independent published authors. Both of you are making resolution more difficult and the market much more hostile. This is not your fight, not your problem, and definitely not your job. Authors, your jobs are to write more and learn how to play well with others who write.

https://twitter.com/ryanjlawler/status/484704750693138432

(negative 10 points for derp, and minus 40 points to House Indignation for snarky bullshit)

Do I like and thank Amazon for providing me the opportunity to be published? Hell yes, but that has nothing to do with them manipulating the sales of books for others. Do I care overly much about Hachette teetering no the brink of insolvency? Not my worry either. I’d really appreciate it if both Amazon and Hachette could, henceforth, avoid forcing authors of any publishing imprint into the unenviable position of having to chose between divorcing parents.

Missing the Boat

Sometime on the 26th of June the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America board posted a call asking for opinions about changing their long standing policy regarding independent publishers.

The SFWA Board of Directors is asking members to share their opinions of self-publishing over the summer. The Board has asked the members to consider not just whether or not to make it possible for writers to join on the basis of self-published works but also the issues that would have to be addressed, such as confirming income, sales, and other publishing information from self-published writers. The issue should be submitted to the full membership prior to November’s business meeting at the 2014 World Fantasy Convention.

Members are invited to share their opinions with the Board through emails, via letters to the Forum, on the discussion boards, or at SFWA business meetings.

I’m not currently a member, and given that its been a while since I submitted any SFF to anyone that would constitute a “Qualified Venue” it’s unlikely I’ll ever tie up at that pier. But, as I have previously mentioned, I’d love to find some more company and, regardless of my publishing choices, this is my tribe. I love you SFF people, I truly do. And thus, I offer up some opinions on the topic more as an exercise allowing me an opportunity for self examination, than, in the highly unreasonable expectation, that this might sway the opinions of the SFWA board one way or another.

What Have You Got To Lose?

This is a question I think the SFWA board needs to ask itself. This question might actually constitute justification for one of those legal pad exercises where you draw a line down the middle and write down all the pros and cons. SFWA, as an organization, is a collective effort that has come together to “inform, support, promote, defend and advocate for its member writers.” Despite this, there remains a long standing conflict of interest within the organization.

Membership does not necessarily result in these benefits for its member writers. Rather, it acts as a funnel pushing authors into potentially unfavorable situations with publishers that will certainly take a huge chunk of any sales for works they accept. Is this what advocacy for member writers looks like?

I understand that traditional publishers constitute a significant and meaningful segment of the SFF publishing pie. I am not suggesting that they lose their hard won position within this market, nor am I promoting the idea that we simply do away with traditional publishers and replace them with zombie hoards of independents. In fact, I think publishers serve a meaningful and respectable portion of the market and they accomplish this capitalistic goal remarkably well considering their competition.

It is difficult to publish anything, having ready made teams of people intent on pushing at least some of the creative works that get generated within this space HELPS not only those who get picked up, but everyone who contributes to the market. But should these companies, which receive so many submissions their back logs collectively make the VA’s problems look like child’s play, function as the sole test of quality for the entire genre? The answer is undoubtably “no.” The market itself provides this conclusion. Anyone, who has the time and dedication can write something and get it to readers. Self publishing avenues exists because they meet market requirements.

This is utopian thinking, I realize. Why would publishers advocate for indie access in a space they already control? It’s extremely unlikely they ever would, I see SFWA taking comments more as a reaction to the reality of the market than anything else. Publishers have made it clear they don’t see the value in collective behavior and they don’t seem to understand or appreciate the challenges offered by competing medias. But SFWA should see that their policies do not serve their member writers. It locks anyone who desires membership and publication, at the same time, into accepting whatever is offered by whomever deigns to offer it. “What have you got to lose SFWA?” Plenty of ballast that should have been dumped long ago in my opinion.

Quality Assurance

Even the call for comment issued from SFWA board seems to worry overly much about the question of “how can we keep the rabble out?” SFWA has for a long time now been really worried about the remote possibility of endorsing the undeserved. If you read the comments popping up beneath the call for opinions as well as in blogs all over the internets you’ll find a regular theme, “maybe if they sell enough copies” or “how will we measure indie reach” or “maybe we can make a secondary (somewhat lower class) sort of membership for indies.”

These compromise suggestions, including SFWA’s request for discussion beside the caveat asking members to consider “not just whether or not to make it possible for writers to join on the basis of self-published works but also the issues that would have to be addressed, such as confirming income, sales, and other publishing information from self-published writers,” seem little more than Chicken Little trying to negotiate with the falling sky.  Here is why.

Primarily, no where in SFWA’s mission statement can we find the words “assure quality,” “guarantee public acceptance,” or “warranty sales quotas.” And, even given the current exclusionary policies in place, none of this happens as-is. Yeah, you read me right. Providing editorial review, artistic critique, copy-editing, cover art, and even blurb writing are not jobs SFWA has signed up to do. They tell members, in good standing and prospective alike, that this is not their job right there in their mission statement. Traditionally published authors and indies must both take this yoke on and ensure that these issues are resolved before publication, or suffer the consequences.

Yet, there are many people who seem to default to the idea that membership qualifies them for some exclusive privilege reserved for the few who surpass a nebulous threshold of quality. Not the case, because if I sell a story to the right people and no one reads it because my story stinks I’ve just disproven this hypothesis. And in this thought experiment, I’m still a SFWA member who could be rubbing elbows with Scalzi and GRRM at some bar at any given convention. And even that doesn’t mean anything since finding drinking buddies at conventions has less to do with what you’ve written or how it was published than who is sitting next to you and what is in your cup.

Notably, other organizations have previously rooted these hazy requirements for membership and the sky has not fallen on them. In fact, they’ve grown significantly as a result. Start with Romance Writers of America if you need an example. Want to know what is required to gain access to their benefits?

General Membership ($95): open to all persons seriously pursuing a romance fiction writing career. Only General members shall have all rights of membership, and only General members shall have the right to vote and the right to hold office in RWA.

That is correct. You writes your story, you pays your dues, you abide by those codes of conduct, and you gets your ticket to the party. “Why then,” you might find yourself asking yourself, “has the same sky RWA shares with SFWA not exploded into a trillion tiny, hot pieces and buried the RWA board under a pyroclastic flow of ashen readers and crap manuscripts?” And the answer is that the board of RWA seems to be in the possession of a couple of critical motes of understanding.

RWA does not pretend to be an arbiter of taste. Rather they stick to their mission statement like an warty, co-dependent, love-sick, fat kid who has, as chance would have it, met the vampire of her dreams. Their writers are what make them better, more writers only means a better organization. Especially when you completely comprehend where the value of the organization resides. The dreamy vampire isn’t valued by the love-sick kid because he’s beautiful, but because he appreciates and defends that diva with all his unearthly, post-death power and bottled rage.

And this relationship will continue to work, despite all the bitchy, bourgeois classmates that will poke at them and criticize them, because ultimately those arbiters of taste don’t have any. They base their value judgements on preconceived and often irrational frameworks such as units sold, agents retained, publishers brown nosed. None of these things have anything to do with the value of the story or the capabilities of the writer. They are distractions, shifting attention away from a job our sexy vampire isn’t supposed to do anyway. RWA gets this, they understand and love their army of undead beefcake.

Becoming Attractive Once More

Love is not attraction. When my youngest son, a three year old with a fiery soul, tosses an amazingly loud, snot encrusted fit because he doesn’t get his way, I still love him although he is not attractive. In that moment, he cannot, nay will not, offer me anything. All economic and political treaties that had been formerly established are null and void, our borders are closed, and we usually end up glaring at one another across a mined DMZ. But, as I look across that no man’s land, I can still see and appreciate him in all his complexity. I love him, even in these moments, but I don’t like him.

It seems to me that SFWA has a similar problem. The organization hasn’t gotten its way. It has convulsed, pitched some serious fits, and even whined in recent memory. And it has lost qualified and capable members as a result (see March 2014).

Yeah sure, it’s not bleeding membership. The whole organization isn’t on the verge of collapse, but much like my three year old, it is continuing to make the same mistakes over and over again. Go figure. He has been told this a million-million times, “Follow my simple rules and you’ll likely get what you want. Most importantly, do the things you say you’re going to do.”

SFWA’s call for comment seems to me a bit of a whinge. The board of an organization for writers couldn’t write a request without caveats and conditional statements? They’re asking us to tell them what to do? Really? Are they testing the water hoping their members will approve a plan of action they haven’t yet authored? “We’re thinking about make a change, but wanted to know what you guys thought first.” Good grief.

Being a member of a board comes with some responsibilities. One of those is providing leadership, in your role, for the organization. It seems obvious that SFWA board members suspect a need for change. Why haven’t they seized this opportunity then?

Ten minutes with a project plan template, a well informed team of interested and articulate contributors, and a white board should have solved the question of what to do about independent authors. SFWA could have come to its membership holding a bone with some meat on it. They could have outlined the challenge, articulated their logic, and provided a plan of action. What they’ve done isn’t likely to metamorphos into an ugly backlash beast, prickling with indignation. No, not even a little, because that’s what it already is.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. SFWA needs to act like a professional organization, and some of its members need to aspire towards professionalism. Wanting nothing more than to tell the world your story from a tender age does not make you a writer any more than selling a pile of books makes you a professional author. All professionals practice to a level of competence in their field. They don’t let outside concerns or petty squabbles get in the way of the expression of their competence. And that, right there, is attractive. Professionals win people for their side while getting shit done. Now go to your room and think about what I said.

Interesting Cola Flavor Alpha or Beta?

Readers, I want to assure you from the get-go that this post is about Jason Gurley‘s soon to be released book ELEANOR. I recently got to beta-read this specfic masterpiece and what can I say? Despite moving, toddler-rearing, driving from Colorado to Washington and then up and down the coast a couple of times, potty-training, job-searching, job-finding, running, house-searching and procurement, and a number of other life changing and arduous tasks at hand I still found the energy to crack this opus magnum every night until I had read it cover to cover. In fact, I suspect that Gurley may have embedded some sort of emotional power source between the lines because I haven’t the faintest how I managed. Other than I really wanted to finish it; it’s that good.

The book is extremely well done, and his prose, in standard Gurley fashion, sparkle with polish. I wouldn’t want to give too much away so I’ll leave you with only my highest praise and the advice you should put this on the top of your summer reading list. Also, go read the prologue.

1985. The death of Eleanor’s twin sister tears her family apart. Her father blames her mother for the accident. When Eleanor’s mother looks at her, she sees only the daughter she lost. Their wounded family crumbles under the weight of their shared grief.

1993. Eleanor is fourteen years old when it happens for the first time… when she walks through an ordinary door at school and finds herself in another world. It happens again and again, but it’s only a curiosity until that day at the cliffs. The day when Eleanor dives… and something rips her out of time itself.

And on the other side, someone is waiting for her.

But, now, I’d like to bifurcate this post. Mind you, it is still about ELEANOR, but in our recent travels I’ve noticed a brouhaha bubbling into media attention and subsequently throughout the writing community. That’s right Amazon v Hachette. Blogs have lit up with team chants. Everyone seems to be content to pick a band wagon and hop aboard for the ride. And much because I am an independent author for the time being, and most, if anything, I might make on my writing will inevitably come through this platform I’ve felt somewhat protective of their position.

But this afternoon, because I prefer to know more about these sorts of market altering situations than to blissfully write in a vacuum, I spent considerable time looking into the mess. Here’s what I think.

A. I’ve read a great deal of opinion, but parts of this one piece in Forbes ring true to me. Both Amazon and Hachette are at fault for manufacturing a situation that is, at best, fractious and seems to be entirely predicated on greed. Amazon has been manipulating their platform to twist Hachette’s nipples hoping they’ll back down from a bigger piece of pie. Hachette has been rousing the rabble in an attempt to shame Amazon into giving up the plate. Neither of these business entities seem to care a wit for the very many creatives that power their machines of business. We make the cherry filling for their pies, but they seem, at best, disinterested in what’s happening in the kitchen.

There is no theoretically correct answer to this question. A demand that publishers must make 75% on e-books cannot be supported: they take more risk with physical books and yet gain lower margins on them. So we cannot say that as a matter of divine right the current publisher margins on e-books are correct. But equally, we can’t say that Amazon deserves a greater piece of the action either. There’s simply nothing to support such an assertion: after all, even Amazon isn’t arguing that all people who sell e-books should get better margins if Amazon does.

B. And that is where this whole damn thing should fall apart. This is all about money, and not the kind of money that helps support artists of any sort. I noticed this comment from Jacqueline Carey, and she’s spot on in my opinion. Hachette its fans have tried to characterize their side of the conflict as some sort of David and Goliath, populist movement. But that’s not the case, Hachette is simply interested in a bigger piece of ebook sales, they’re not going to reimburse their creatives despite the damage this kerfuffle is currently causing (both short term, in lost sales via Amazon, and in the long view, damage to author platforms). And they’re not raising payouts or incentives to their authors. Not even offering a bigger cut of the pie should they “win” in this conflict.

 

So, here’s some advice to both of the big boys fighting in the school yard. Bad behavior is bad. You don’t make friends by fighting. This may be business, but on both sides, its extremely short sighted and malignant business. It’s only too bad King Solomon is a myth because I’d love to see what he’d do with the extra pie these big mothers are fighting over.

Where do I stand on this compelling issue of the day? Right where I always do. Go support your favorite artists. Make sure you buy their works. If you can, support their efforts by leaving reviews and kudos. Write them a letter telling them how much you appreciate what they’ve made. Do what you can to help them grow, mature, and flourish, because, the marketplace is full of parasites and power mongers.

Hint: This means you should go pre-order ELEANOR.

Yet More Drama

Alright already! SFF writers can we please move beyond the petty, boorish and un-funk worthy spectacle of the day? Seriously, you guys waste way too much time expressing your heart felt opinions while simultaneously developing an unrivaled skill for hyperbole.  What’s the beef de jour? This morning Hugh Howey wrote a brief bit about a weekend convention. Seems convention organizers decided to put some authors in a back room for some reason while other authors got big tables in a big, comfy room.

I agree with him, it was a bit of a dick move by RT Booklovers Convention organizers, how ever you cut it up. But these things happen. The insinuation that it was intentional or focused on one kind of writer or publisher as opposed to another are unlikely to be true. But even if the accusations are verifiable, the absolute best anyone can hope for at this point is that next year the convention organizers will lay out the guest list with a little more forethought.

If this situation affected you personally — I mean if you were there this weekend and you ended up sitting in the cramped back room not selling any books — might it be unlikely you plan on returning? No, didn’t think so. RT Booklovers Convention is probably going to experience a shortage of creative types in the future.

If it didn’t affect you personally, why do you care? There is a Facebook-turd forming under a series of names I thought were above this sort of nonsense. It’s really too bad because too, these sorts of opinions get tossed around all the time and they never go anywhere. I get it, you’re angry. You may dislike the way some people publish. Perhaps you’re envious of their successes or their set up. But folks, you’re spot on the money when you say that this stuff is inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. You really need to pay attention to your own words, because if it’s truly an easily forgiven “faux pas” you’re making a mountain out a mole hill. Cultivating a culture of melodrama.

Beyond a relatively few SFF diehard fanatics who have previously made up their minds, it is exceptionally unlikely that anyone who encounters this sort of genre specific infighting will experience an epiphany and see the world anew, now well informed by your opinion. Rather, if in the process of sorting the day’s media catch they are unlucky enough to firmly grasp your infernal doo-doo might they then form a negative opinion about you, your writing, or perhaps the genre you write in?

I don’t mind reminding anyone that science fiction and fantasy writers already have a tough row to hoe. SFF is still perceived as “kids stuff” at best. Regardless of the way you publish, our collective lack of professionalism has not made anyone’s job any easier. Worse, SFF authors seem to be preternaturally primed to hop the bandwagon each and every time it trundles by. Do you realize that children’s authors and romance writers look down their noses at SFF? Yeah, chew on that for a bit.

I am so tired of talking to people about my stories, seeing the flame of interest in their eye, only to watch it be extinguished with the words “Oh, I don’t usually read sci-fi.” This is almost always accompanied by a sneer which I imagine as commentary on my working choice of literature. Our genre is still outside what most people consider normal or well-adjusted. It lacks the respect other writing commands.

Like all of you, I work hard on my craft. I’ve suffered personal indignities, and sure, I carry my fair share of spite around with me. But we’ve got to cultivate the respect we deserve. Your platform is yours, do with it as you will, but we’re all set up on the same stage of genre. This means your self destructive habits affect those near you. If you cannot resolve your personal problems without pasting them in flashing neon across the whole internet, you may have some room for personal growth.

First Day of Free

We’re nearing the end of the first day THE BIG RED BUCKLE has been on Amazon for free. As of this moment more people have down loaded the book in the last 24 hours (actually less) than everyone who has purchased the book, print or ebook, since I published it last December. Currently it is rated number 3 and 4 in its two primary categories.

First, this makes me feel pretty good. I mean, the fact that hundreds of strangers have taken the relatively risk free step of downloading my book while it is free at the very least means I am likely to get some new eyes on. Maybe they’ll like it, maybe they won’t, but at least there are new people reading it and that makes me happy. It seems a low bar, but getting anything like a ground swell of new readers has been a serious challenge for me thus far. So it goes without saying that I now see the value in offering free works.

Second, I want to thank all of you who supported this book before I took this opportunity to give it away. Seriously, it means a lot to me that you were willing to fork over your hard earned cash. Your support, perhaps of me more as friend than as author, means a ton and it is humbling to know that someone loves you at least that much. I’ve never been very good at showing my gratitude, but I have great quantities of it, especially for those few who have gotten me this far in my career as a writer.

Third, there are still four more days of free. The promotion ends next Tuesday and now that THE BIG RED BUCKLE has made cloud base, I’d like to take it the full distance. See how far we can make this go cross country. So, please tell your friends, tell your coworkers, tell your mailman, tell anyone and everyone. It’s free.

Author Interview Mel Hearse

Ladies and gentlemen, today I give you what may be the last in my series of author interviews for FROM THE INDIE SIDE. Let me say, before we get to the introduction, that this has been a lot of fun for me. An eye opening experience, but alas all good things must come to an end. Currently, I don’t have any more scheduled interviews. If you’re reading this and thinking “Hey, what about my story?” don’t fret. I would very much like to speak with you. Drop me a line and we’ll make it happen.

Now, on to the introduction. Today we’ll be talking with author, journalist and Mom Melanie Hearse. Check out her website, she has a journalistic bibliography a mile and  a half long. Interestingly, however, her contribution to FROM THE INDIE SIDE, THE GREATER GOOD, was a first step into the world of fiction. It’s an interesting mashup of Mother’s Day and Tales from the Dark Side and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it too.

Mel, who lives and works in Australia, has a novel on the way and has since produced several short stories. I had the opportunity to sit down with her and ask a few questions. I hope you enjoy her answers as much as I did.

Continue reading

The Guardian Legend Self-Published Book of the Month

During the flurry of twitter announcements from Hugo enthusiasts today I got this breath of fresh air from Hugh. Seriously made my day. As an author with a growing bibliography, little to no outside support or promotion, and exactly zero potential for a Hugo this gives me an aspiration of much more realistic scope. And is an direction that is potentially much more helpful.

Unfortunately, submissions to The Guardian Legend Self-Published Book of the Month are closed for April, but I imagine that if you start looking again near the beginning of May you’re likely going to find something similar.

The Guardian is set to become the first national newspaper to champion self-publishing on a regular basis with the launch of a new monthly prize that aims to find the best DIY novels.

The paper is teaming up with publisher Legend Times to support and showcase what it said was “the fantastic quality of writing that can be found from independent authors”, as the sector continues to boom. New figures from Nielsen’s Books & Consumers survey show that self-published books accounted for one in five of the 80m ebooks purchased in 2013. “No longer can the mainstream industry ignore what the general public have been reading and enjoying for a number of years, with many self-published authors outstripping the sales of novels published traditionally,” said the Guardian.

If you click on the article about the contest you’ll get a good bit of excellent information on the topic. Indies need something like this and I’m only happy to see it happening. I wonder how the lists will be curated? Honestly, I don’t think it matters much how you publish, the market has changed that much. But getting your work out there is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the never ending mountain of work you’ll be completing to find readers. Opportunities to showcase writing are an excellent and relatively low cost way to find these eyes and here, trad-pub and hybrid authors have a significant and enviable advantage. Check out the nominees for the 2014 Hugo if you need to confirm this.

 

Contest Time – The Crimson Campign

Due to a minor oversight, I am no long eligible to enter Brian McClellan’s truly inspired contest. He is giving away a number of C-format copies of the soon to be classic THE CRIMSON CAMPAIGN. All you need to do to be eligible to win is write him a short (1500 characters or less) review of the last entertainment media you consumed. Movie, book, magazine, tv show. Doesn’t matter. The review can be as simple as “Bob thought good.” But the more creative or interesting or well-spoken you are, the more likely he is to pick you. Flattery will get you nowhere.

This evening I knocked out ~1,100 words reviewing the season four finale of WALKING DEAD. I had the reading version of a typo and imagined that I had 1,500 words to get the job done. Oops!

The whole time I was writing it I kept imagining the piles of submissions Brian was going to have to sort through just to get to mine. I admit, there was a certain amount of schadenfreude lubricating my fingers on the keyboard. Not because I harbor any particular animosity toward Brian — I’ve met him, he’s a really nice guy — but because I’m the sort of bloke that periodically gets off on other people’s misery. Mind you, it’s only from time to time, but still.

Anyway, so now I’ve got a short that isn’t half bad, although it’s probably not half good either. A short that I cannot cram into the text window on his google form. What to do, what to do? I know, I’ll inflict this on all of you and sleep soundly knowing that my efforts have paid off, if not in free signed copies of highly anticipated sequels, at least in the moans and groans of hapless readers. And interns.

Without further adieu I give you …

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