Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Stephen King's book On Writing

Great article on Stephen King's book On Writing. This terrific, influential book is still helping writers, with some of the best advice you'll find anywhere.

Thanks for the pointer from the Passive Guy, one of the best places to find current info on the publishing biz.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Happy Memorial Day, Working Holiday

Here's hoping you have a happy and safe holiday.

For many, this is a day of remembrance. I've been thinking of the past year. For it was just about a year ago that my first novel A Memory of Grief got published, first as an ebook, then as a print version.

One year. So much has happened, so much change in that short time. Now I spend most of my free time (this is what's left after my family and my full-time job) writing-- or promoting my writing. For example, this 3-day weekend, I've been working the whole time, while many others hang out and enjoy cookouts with friends and family.

This kind of dedication (obsession) gets a lot done, however. My second novel, A Fall From Grace, has been out for a few months, with the third, A Shadow on the Wall, coming out a few months from now.
Additionally, I've got a number of short story collections out as published books. Different genres, too. I paid attention to the pro writers that told us how to do this.

When I'm not writing, I'm trying to get reviews, dealing with bookstores and publishers, doing research, and contacting other writers. It's a rollercoaster ride, so ya gotta love what you're doing. It's how you go pro as a writer, by continuing to write and always doing more. Tough gig, definitely not for sissies.

But being published sure beats the stuffing out of where I was a year ago. I finally achieved my lifelong dream.

How much has your life changed in the past year?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Contracts of Servitude

Great post by Joe Konrath about the horrendous contracts forced upon writers by the thugs of the big traditional publishing world. I'm not saying all the big companies are bad, but companies that would force authors to sign contracts like these are people who should-- and will-- be out of business. It's sweatshop labor, taking advantage of people that had little choice.

Up until a very short time ago, these gatekeepers forced everyone who wanted to get any kind of readership to come crawling on their knees in supplication, offering up their work-- for pennies in return, and a bond of servitude. Not a livelihood, mind you, just a treadmill of sweaty cheap labor for the privilege of seeing their name on a "legitimate" book by "a big house." Sure, there were some who profited from this system-- mostly the middlemen.

Thank goodness for the revolution, when the barriers to finding readers are down, and these fat-cats are no longer needed. So long, expensive offices and bloated staffs of New York. Would love to see you all have to get a real job-- especially one where someone else treats you like you treated others.

Wah, some wail. We'll lose the arbiters of quality! Really? It's there in the Indie world of publishing if you take the trouble to find it. New York was not the best judge of quality. When it switched to the profit-above-all methodology, they threw away whatever claim to that they held. And that was years ago. Now they shovel Snookie-memoirs and poorly written bilge, but claim that anyone who publishes outside their system is a heretic.

Yes, there are some good ones. But read the language and terms of these contracts, and then say that what is offered is fair.

From now on, writers-- the ones who produce the actual stuff that readers want-- are the ones to profit from their labor. Viva la revolution!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

New Story Collection Out!

It's been quiet here at One Rounded Corner-- because I've been feverishly working-- night, day, and in between.

Finished my story Killer Angel, and put the book Apocalypse Tango together-- a 5 story collection of the End of the World.

A few deadly serious stories, and a couple of fun ones.

It's out as an e-book in all formats (print coming soon)- with an awesome cover.

Sample it for free, then get your copy:

A little further progress on my Insane Writing Challenge for 2012.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Good Writer Features

Pete Morin got featured on Indie Exchange today, a very good thing. Pete is the author of Diary of a Small Fish, an excellent book that takes you by surprise. You never thought Boston/Mass politics could be interesting, but Pete is such a good writer, he makes it so. He tells the story of a man indicted for the crime of playing golf!

Oh, yeah, you gotta find out what it all means. It's a great ride.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Money For Nothing

Great post by April Hamilton on If You're Not Ready To Invest, You're Not Ready To Publish.

On the alarming sense of entitlement she's seeing out there among indies and would-be indies. Idiots who post crappy e-books with no formatting, grammar, basic editing, and usually horrible covers.

But they want a million downloads, and to get rich, even though they haven't even done the basics. They want money for nothing.

It's rather like some dimwit setting up a business without knowing the first thing about business. All you've got is a product, and you think that's all you need.

Well, it's more than that. Creating a good book is part of it, but the packaging is also of vital importance. 99 times out of a hundred (or possibly more) an amateurish cover means an amateurish book. A quick look at the contents will tell you what you need to know.

There's a lot of people calling themselves writers, who shoved out a piece of pony poo without getting even a simple edit. And these fools just muck up the marketplace, because no one will (or should) buy their hastily-extruded end product.

Read the blog post, and do what she says. As a start!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Meeting Good Authors

Today our town hosted an event with Tony Horwitz and Geraldine Brooks, a married pair of Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalists-- and now novelists.
They had a terrific forum, where they shared the stage, and "interviewed" each other about the work and the writing process. Then they answered the many questions from the audience.

I was pleased to see they were nice, intelligent, fun. The types you'd like to hang out with, and talk good books and life.

They recommended the work of other writers, so I've picked up some of those recommendations, and more books by each of this dynamic pair.

There are other writers with more ego than talent, who make meeting them a pain-- not so with these two. Makes you want to hear more.

Kudos to the Chelmsford library for hosting this event. I love living in a literate town!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Free Books, and Writers Pushed too Far

Yet another data point in telling how the big publishing houses take the money and leave the writers nothing but scraps. This is up on Joe Konrath's site.
Author Ann Voss Peterson who has 25 books, including one that sold 180,000 copies, and has earned her a mere $20,000.
On other books, she made less- 6 cents a copy. Pathetic.

At a conference panel, someone asked a big pub house rep how they expected writers to live on these miniscule payouts.
The response-- they didn't! They said that people should consider this a hobby, and keep their day job.

Wow-- another reason I will weep no tears for these dinosaur sweatshops going out of business, as their writers leave to self-publish and Indie publish. Bye-bye, big profits! Too bad you screwed your help so bad-- they might have stayed with you a little longer.

And The Passive Voice has a good posting on this subject: Ciao Publishers. Ciao Agents. Ciao slavery.

Kinda says it all.

So-- on to the free stuff. For a limited time, Ann is offering her thriller Pushed Too Far (no, it's not about her publishing experience, but it could be!) for free- grab a copy while you can.

And David Gaughran  is offering Let’s Get Digital for free-- a must-read for writers!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Write and Price to Value

Here's an Indie writer complaining about the low price of e-books. He's bemoaning the fact that some big-selling authors like John Locke and Amanda Hocking sell their e-books for 99 cents, and that drives the market expectations down, and doggone it, he wants more money for his book.

To which I say, "Dude, you're an Indie writer-- so charge what your books are worth!"

I mean, duh.

Sure, they sell a lot of books at that price. A lot of people like cheap crap. People stuff their e-readers with free and cheap e-books. I've got a bunch of cheap e-books, too. Haven't read them-- they're way down on the to-be-read list.

You know why? Because at that price, I expect most of them to be cheap crap-- which means they're very low priority. And I'll toss them aside, without finishing, and without a qualm if they don't measure up. I may never even get to them. Many are a waste of time.

In the Indie world, you write what you want to write, and sell at the price you want. If you decide your work isn't worth more than a cheap plastic comb, that's your choice. Me, I set my prices higher, because I write quality work that's worth more. I've spent years honing my craft, polishing the work, giving it value. And I sure as hell ain't gonna give it away for almost nothing.

Do you see good restaurants giving away nice meals at fast-food prices? I don't eat at fast-food joints-- I want a better experience and quality. Same with books-- I want something of value for the time I spend reading it.

I even bought one of those John Locke e-books at the 99 cent price, to see if he was worth even that piddly amount. You know what? He isn't. I didn't even finish the book, and won't read another by him.

So, fellow writer, put on your big-boy pants and write something of value. And put it up for sale at the price it's worth. And quityerbitchin. I don't care what crap is selling for, because I'm not writing crap. I want readers who are willing to exchange in fair trade, value for value. And I'm getting them, little by little. Fewer readers, maybe-- but they'll remember mine and want more.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

How to Write a Best Seller

For years now, people have sought the magic formula for a best-seller, trying to divine the elements that make up what will hit, and trying to reproduce it. Here's another shot at it.

It is alchemy, trying to turn baser metals into gold.

No one knows what will hit, and many best-sellers are unlikely.
Bridges of Madison County? Head-scratchingly puzzling.
Harry Potter? Turned down many times.
Da Vinci Code? A thousand just like it, with far better writing and plotting, went nowhere.
Twilight? Almost everything similar was written far better. This one hit.
50 Shades of Gray? Someone please explain why women like this!

When I was taking writing classes from Stephen King, he told us of someone who'd tried to analyze best-sellers and write a book with their elements, in hopes of making it big. The result was God's High Table. Yeah, you've never heard of it.

These efforts don't usually hit, because someone conciously trying to write a best-seller is doing it for the money and the ego, not for the story itself. Even these awful hack writers who hit with one were writing what they liked, and their hearts were into it. The fact that dumb stuff occasionally gets popular and goes viral is just a facet of how it is. With over a hundred thousand books a year coming out, a few of them will get a great buzz. And not all of them will be good, so you could say they don't "deserve" it.

Someone asked me why I don't write something like "50 Shades of Gray" to make a lot of money. I said that although rolling around in stable muck might be popular, it wasn't my style. And imitation does not guarantee similar sales.
It ain't a fair game. Ah, well. That's just how it is.

Friday, May 4, 2012

What's Wrong With Publishing, or The Kobayashi Maru

Today someone asked "how's your book doing?"
It's great to be able to say-- "Which one?"
As of last December, I only had one novel out for sale-- A Memory of Grief-- now I've got two novels published, with a third due out later this year-- while I also do work on book #4, the one to follow.
And I've got five story collections out in print-- while working on several more.
And-- the other novels I've got in the immediate pipeline.
So the book(s) is/are doing well, thanks. Better every day.

In our talk, I said it was tough being an Indie writer, as you're responsible for all the promotion-- as well as writing more. No matter if you're promoting one book or writing another, you feel like you're not doing enough if you can't do both at the same time-- and with a regular day job and a family, you have little enough time as it is.

He smiled and said, "You've got a real Kobayashi Maru situation there."

This touched my nerdy little heart. For those of you who may not have your geek creds, the Kobayashi Maru was a plot device used in Star Trek. It was an exercise at Starfleet Academy, designed as unwinnable, no matter what the player did. It was designed to teach prospective officers the meaning of fear and failure. Everyone failed. Until James T. Kirk came along, a man who refused to accept failure, ever. He beat the Kobayashi Maru by cheating the rigged game! Kirk hacked the game computer to allow for a winnable scenario. And won it.

The whole idea is legend to those of us who get it. It shows us what Kirk's indomitable spirit is all about, and why he's successful as a Starship Captain.

This had tremendous resonance with me, because of another recent communication. I told a pro writer about my ambition to write fiction full-time, making it my living.

The response was "Forget it-- it's a pipe dream. You can't make a living writing fiction. I've had too many friends who've come to a bad end because they tried this."

Now this is a person who has been writing and publishing in the traditional pub world for almost 20 years. They said that they can sell a new book on a short proposal. They've got a spate of prestigious awards and nominations. With terrific, high-level reviews from professionals, a following, a number of books with good covers, a good website, and impressive sales rankings and reviews on Amazon. And with the support of big publishing behind them, offering hardback, paperback, e-books, audio books, and translation editions.

And this person cannot make a steady enough income to survive!
That, dear readers, is What's Wrong With Big Traditional Publishing.
Someone is making a ton of money here, and it ain't the person creating the product. A pro, with everything in place, is not getting a steady income from a terrific backlist and a regular supply of new books.

Wonder why. Maybe because Big Trad Pub gives a piddly 17.5% to the creator of the work, then another 15% comes out of that for an agent.

So we have a system that creates the expectation of failure. You can have everything going for you, do everything right, and you still get nothing but scraps from Big Trad Pub (for which they expect you should be groveling and grateful).

Sorry, ain't buying it. Like James Tiberius Kirk, I reject this rigged system, and the attitude of failure it fosters.
It's the Kobayashi Maru scenario once again-- a system that's unbeatable.

So, like Kirk, I'll go outside the system to beat it-- and do what's necessary to succeed. If that means Big Trad Pub is Starfleet, and won't let me be a captain without playing their losing game, I'll go rogue and get my own damn Starship.

I'll follow in the steps of others who began at Starfleet, and who have also rejected Big Trad Pub-- and are now making a very nice living.
Folks like JA Konrath, Dean Wesley Smith, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, and Barry Eisler, just to name a few. The ones who show you how to succeed, how to reach for the stars, not be afraid of them.

For some time now, when people have asked what the middle initial T stands for in my name, I've answered "Tiberius."
Now you know why.

Live Long, and Prosper.
And Non Carborundum Illegitimatus.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

No More Waiting

There are some people who still say that writers should wait to publish until the big traditional publishers say they're ready (meaning they can make a ton of money off the writer's work).
Well, that's a load of pony poop. Here are a couple more nuggets of info to support that view.

Writer Jessica Park, on Why One Traditionally-Published Author is Now Choosing Self-Publishing:

And here's a report from someone who was at a literary festival at the weekend and sat in on a presentation on ‘Getting that novel published’ with an agent and a publisher on stage. Talk about pony poop from self-serving dipsticks!

Thanks to the revolution in publishing, writers no longer have to scrape for scraps, and beg for the privilege of getting their works out to readers. They're doing it themselves-- and it has created a huge swell of scared backlash from big publishers, who are still in denial about what's happening.