Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Weak words.


Sometimes, it's easy while writing to use the first word that floats to mind instead of a stronger, more descriptive word. That's not to say your writing should contain a thesaurus full of alternatives.

"She came into the room."
"She went into the room."
"She walked into the room."
"She entered the room."
"She bolted into the room."
"She dashed from the room."
"She limped into the rom."
"She stopped in the doorway and glanced around for a moment before stepping through."

None of those options are unacceptable. In some instances, depending on the mood you're trying to set, you might want one of the "plainer" options.

But which of those options paints the clearest mental image? The first two, came and went, are boring, flat, and weak. The second two, walked and entered, are okay. Bolted, dashed, and limped give us strong, clear mental images with an economy of words.

The last option, however, you can see that one, can't you? You might have even formed a quick mental picture of who "she" is and what the room looks like.

Everyone focuses so much on trying to eliminate passive writing that they forget sometimes weak writing is just as deadly to your prose. When you can, look at your writing and see where, in addition to "was/were/wasn't/weren't" you might use other "weak" words and word combos. We all have them, and as a writer, as you grow in your craft, your list of "weak" words will likely change and evolve.

Use find/replace to locate and highlight them so you can spot them. As with was/were, you might find it is the best choice in some cases. But in others, you'll see where you can spiff up your writing just by making a quick change in wording and it won't unnecessarily bulk up your word count, either.

Happy Writing!

Friday, December 5, 2014

More Facebook changes - pages are a losing game.

According to an article in Tech Times, Facebook is implementing new rules that will make reaching
your audience with a page even more difficult than ever unless you pony up big bucks you probably don't have.

I used to recommend authors--especially authors of erotica and romance--use a page as their primary way to reach readers for a few reasons. One, you're limited to 5k friends on a profile (as of this writing). Also, Facebook has been randomly whacking people for "fake names" (ie pen names) lately. And your profile is more vulnerable for being put in Facebook jail for promotions, especially if you're an author.

I have been recommending groups lately because, so far, Facebook hasn't gone after them yet. You can set them to "closed," meaning only the members can see the content. Members can select to receive notifications of when new posts are made. If you have a group, you can set it to moderated so that all new posts have to be approved first (doesn't apply to replies to posts) or you can even set it so only moderators can post. You can easily utilize files and photo albums as well. And it's easy to ban people you don't want there.

The nice thing about a group, you KNOW the people there want to be there. (NEVER ADD PEOPLE TO A GROUP WITHOUT THEM REQUESTING MEMBERSHIP!! DO NOT USE THE INVITE FUNCTION, IT ADDS PEOPLE!) Send people the group's url (you can set a custom url reflecting the group's actual name in settings) and let them REQUEST membership.

I DON'T CARE IF FACEBOOK ALLOWS THE FUNCTION, IT'S WRONG. IT'S THE EQUIVALENT OF WALKING UNINVITED INTO SOMEONE'S HOME AND LEAVING THEM A PILE OF ADVERTISING FLIERS THEY HAVE NO INTEREST IN!

Got it?

Okay.

But using groups is a great way to cultivate a dedicated reader base, people who WANT to be there because of YOU. Don't keep it all "business," either. Have fun with it, encourage discussions, post funny things.

Hints:

1) Do NOT ADD PEOPLE TO THE GROUP. Also, tell your members NOT to add people to the group. Hand out the group's url and let people request to join.

2) Set the group so that ONLY moderators can approve members! Otherwise, you might have people force-adding others without you approving the memberships.

3) Set it to a "closed" group which simply means only members can view the postings. (No, it won't show up in their feeds to their friends, like posting on a page will.) If someone doesn't want to "follow" the group they can, on their home page feed, hover over an item from the group and the "unfollow" option will appear. They'll still be a member, just not getting notifications in their feed about it. (Different, for some reason, than unchecking the notifications option on the group's page. #facebookfail on that one.)

4) Use the files section for updates about your books, excerpts, book reading lists, etc.

5) Have fun with it! You'll build a core group of not just readers, but friends. I have a readers group called Tymber's Trybe, and we have a blast there. I let my members post funny stuff, we discuss stuff, it's like a friendly 24/7/365 neighborhood cafe where people can drop in whenever they want. And I know they're there because they WANT to be there, not just because they're friends with me and then they see promo that shows up on my timeline from me.

6) Do not make it all promo. Don't abuse your membership like that. No one wants a 24/7 sales pitch.

7) Offer your members perks. I do cover reveals in my group and give them sneak peeks of WIPs that people not in the group don't get.

8) Never forget your group members are PEOPLE. Don't treat them as a commodity. They're not just numbers. They're PEOPLE.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Why proofreading and editing matters...

This is a screencap from the Amazon description page for a book blurb, a bestselling author. An NYT author. From a traditional, New York publishing house.


(Note: If you Google this, please do NOT out the author/title in the comments. I will delete comments that out the author and title.)

I did contact both the author and the publisher via Facebook.

Somewhere, in a New York publishing house, there is an editor who should get their ass publicly handed to them in a very vocal way.

FYI: In case you don't see what's wrong with that sentence, the book is about a motorcycle gang, not a bunch of cooks in a Chinese restaurant. (Does that help?)

This is why PROOFREADING and EDITING matters. I'm the first to admit I need an editor.

(Extra hint: WONTON is not a substitution for the word WANTON, which is what I suspect was intended.)

If New York trad pub think it's okay to let this kind of error slip through on a COVER BLURB, that is one of your SELLING TOOLS for your book, then they have no right to call themselves "gatekeepers" any longer, sorry.

I get it, I'm not perfect, either. Stuff slips through.

But...on your farking BLURB??? That's just...that's the ONE thing that should be absolutely PERFECT. How could no one have caught something THAT glaring?

EDIT: I just looked at the other books in the series...OMG, it's on ALL the books in the series! They basically repeated the SAME copy. OMG...

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Writer Beware: How NOT to behave toward readers and fellow writers.

The screencaps in question came from a writer's Facebook profile from a couple of days ago. The conversation started with the writer (who from what I could tell from their comments has been publishing for only about a year) bemoaning cliques, bullies, poor sales, etc. and that there was JUST SO MUCH dreck out there it was difficult for a writer to get ahead, bemoaning that another writer had just announced they were going to quit writing, etc.

Then things took a...disturbing turn.

A commenter (Se - full name redacted) made the comment regarding the genre of dark erotica (DE) that people who write it, and, well, you'll see for yourself. And the author, whose profile it was, AGREED WITH THEM. Keep in mind the author who owns the profile is an author of MM erotica.



Um, WOW. "Or else the authors and those who support it should be kidnapped and raped so they learn their fucking lesson."

Keep in mind, the commenter, Se, according to her profile, is an ACTRESS IN B-GRADE HORROR MOVIES. Um, yeah. Glass houses, much?

But even more disturbing is that not only does the author, E, let the comment stand, she REPLIES TO IT: "I could not agree more, Se! And yet the trampier and darker it is, the more it sells. It's a disgusting paradox, a cultural conundrum. ANYTHING GOES does NOT mean ANYTHING."

Ya know, if someone put something on my wall stating that authors and readers of certain genres should be "kidnapped and raped so they learn their fucking lesson," I'd personally be DELETING the comment and blocking the commenter. NOT agreeing with them!

(Gee, I wonder why this writer has poor sales?)

Here in the US, we fucking SHUT DOWN SCHOOLS for vaguer social media threats than that!

But, benefit of the doubt and all that. Maybe she didn't read the whole comment? Hmm.



Se comments again, talking (ironically) about words having power. Writing about how those authors must hate other women. And the author, E, agrees...AGAIN.

Well, gee, what happens when someone calls her on it? (Keep in mind at this point, the original comment by Se was STILL up, along with the author's responses (not once, but TWICE stating she agreed with the commenter, Se).



Um, well, TWICE she agreed with Se's comments. Guess she didn't think people would, I dunno, call her OUT ON THE OUTRAGEOUS AND HEINOUS COMMENTS??? Because, see, she commented NOT once, but TWICE about Se's comments before Se commented again. So, I'm thinking she had PLENTY of time to think about her response to Se. It sounded pretty straightforward to me. Also, I'm not sure how the author E defines divisiveness, but apparently it differs greatly from mine, because agreeing that writers and readers should be kidnapped and raped is pretty fucking divisive.




The comment in question had already been deleted, so I couldn't get a cap of that. But SA called the author out on the bullshit, and that was the author's response. Wow. I guess it's okay if you're a victim of a sexual crime to wish kidnapping and rape on authors and readers of genres you don't agree with. Nice logic fail. But, since she's in London, obviously she knows better than the rest of us poor hicks elsewhere in the world. Narcissistically superior attitude...check! But we're not allowed to have "pregnant offense" about a comment suggesting kidnapping and rape of authors and readers of DE is all right. Okay, gotcha. Double-standard. Check! I would also hazard a guess that Se or the author likely have not been victims of such violence, because I cannot imagine ANYONE who has been in that position and is a survivor (myself included) would EVER wish that kind of fate on someone else. So, I call BULLSHIT. I've wished many evil fates on fuckers in the past, but NEVER THAT. So...again, BULLSHIT.



Oh, so she was just being POLITE by agreeing that rape and kidnapping authors and readers of DE is okay. Ahhh. That makes it all better. And pity poor her, she's being bullied because she dared agree with someone suggesting heinous crimes are an okay response to writing something someone else doesn't like. She doesn't even know why everyone's in a "snit?" (Keep in mind, the original heinous comments from Se, come from someone who ACTS IN HORROR MOVIES. So, it's okay to glorify killings as entertainment in a movie, but if you write DE, that's not okay. Uh huh. Got it.)

But she also LIES in this comment, because she DID condemn people who did. (She'd already deleted the comments by this point. Yay, screencaps!) So, it's okay for HER to insult (and incite violence against) people, but it's NOT okay for people to call her out on it. Gotcha.

Here's the thing:

You know, I get that there are flavors of fiction that don't appeal to some. I get it, I really do, because there are flavors of fiction that I don't like. HOWEVER, there's a huge difference between saying you don't like something, and suggesting authors and readers of those genres you don't like should get kidnapped and raped to be "taught a lesson" about it. I'm sorry, but that's morally reprehensible rhetoric, IMO, and it smacks of the same kind of bullshit the Taliban and other radical religious nutjobs spout. And these are SUPPOSEDLY "liberal" people saying this shit. It's FICTION. If you don't like it, DON'T READ IT, but don't go saying shit that makes you look like a genetically inbred asshole, either.

And yes, regardless of what Se thinks, IT IS THAT SIMPLE.

I'm an ADULT. I will write what I damn well please, and I will read what I damn well please, and I do not need some self-righteous prig who apparently thinks women's lib is all about doing it THEIR way telling me I'm wrong and disturbed. I'm sorry, but fiction is FICTION.

You want to talk about books that incite violence against others? Let's start with the Bible and other religious tomes, shall we? Hmm? Because I've read the Bible. There's murder and rape and all sorts of lovely little things like that against others in there. So should we ban the Bible or other religious tomes for those reasons? Because, hello, according to Se and the author, that's exactly what should happen, those books don't deserve a place.

Hot news flash: YOU DON'T GET TO PICK WHAT OTHER PEOPLE CAN READ, ASSHOLE.

I wonder if there is a category in Weight Watchers for activity points earned by backpedalling? Because, damn, instead of just deleting the WHOLE goddamned thread, the author dug herself a deeper hole. I guess she thought the Internet isn't forever. Screencaps, biatch. And I'm doing her and the commenter a favor by redacting her name. (Although I do have the unredacted screen caps up in my Tymber's Trybe group because the night it happened I ranted in there about it.)

So to the author in question: Hmm, let me help you out here. Why do your sales suck? I looked you up, and you have a history of going after people who give you one-star reviews. This is not the first time you've committed acts of asshattery. Are there bullies and cliques on GR and elsewhere? Yes, It's called LIFE. However, I can see by your actions that you aren't exactly what I'd call a little ray of sunshine, there, girlie. Your very behavior in this thread, attacking people who RIGHTFULLY called you out on your bullshit (and I also did you a favor by not getting screencaps of all your asshattery, because most of the people who called you out did so with FAR more class than your responses) shows you are NOT mature enough to deal with the public. Do yourself a favor: DITCH YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA. Focus on WRITING YOUR BOOKS and quit pissing and moaning about your sales. Because, seriously, based on this exchange and others I've found out about you, it's not other books tanking your sales, chica.

It's YOU.

You're a whiny, narcissistic, entitlement-minded BRAT. Readers notice that shit. You insulted readers. You probably lost a shit-load of potential readers from the people who saw the original dust-up on your page. You'd already lost several dozen friends by the time I blocked your sorry ass. You will never get any promo from me, and I already booted and blocked you and several of your pimping team from one of my groups over this.

Oh, and next time an asshat comments on your wall that people who write and read dark erotica (or ANY kind of book) should be raped and kidnapped, DO NOT AGREE WITH THEM. (Twice.) DELETE their fucking comments. And for fuck's sake, when you fuck up, APOLOGIZE. Do NOT dig yourself a deeper hole and accuse the people who call you out on it of being bullies. (Because, sorry, you agreeing that DE readers and writers should be kidnapped and raped IS BULLYING.) I don't know how you Londoners do shit, but here in the US, we don't look lightly upon people making those kinds of comments.

There was a time when GLBTQ romance and erotica (since you are a writer of MM erotica) was basically demonized. Yet you think nothing of demonizing another genre of books?

Fuck you, Sunshine.

I have ZERO TOLERANCE for book banners (which you are by your very words, thinking that a particular genre isn't worthy of existence) and I have ZERO TOLERANCE for people who condone violent responses to people who read and write certain genres.

It is as simple a matter of IF YOU DON'T LIKE IT, DON'T READ IT.

Sorry you feel your sucky sales are the fault of other people, but I strongly suspect based on your reactions in this case that you will remain clueless.

Those of us who are writers because it's WHO WE ARE, not just what we do, we will NEVER stop writing. We just won't. Maybe you're not cut out to be a writer. We'll write even if we have to have a day job in addition to writing to pay our bills. If your sole concerns about your career are your sales, you are definitely in this for the wrong reason. If you think other genres that are selling are taking away from your sales, it just goes to show you do NOT understand the business of publishing. It is NOT a zero-sum game. Publishing is NOT a finite pie that will be eaten up and gone if you don't get your slice.

And frankly, you don't seem to have a grasp on the business of publishing. If YOU aren't in it just for the sales, then WHY ARE YOU FUCKING WHINING about what books DO sell? Seems like that's a pretty contradictory mindset, bucky.

It's a long, long marathon. And by insulting readers and their intelligence, you aren't going to garner many friends. You're bemoaning you aren't "successful" after a year of publishing? Bitch, I've been doing this for SIX FUCKING YEARS as a fiction writer and I'm still trying to find my way. There are writers who've been published longer than I am. It's called PUBLISHING. And it's a BUSINESS. And you do NOT win friends and influence people by being a cunt to readers and insulting their choices in reading material. (And yes, the word cunt appropriately describes you in this instance.)

Peace out, mutherfucker.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Fun With Linguistics: Snowclones

Here's a fun little Monday morning factoid for you. Ever heard of Snowclones? Sure you have, you just didn't know what they were.

"We're gonna need a bigger boat..."
"In Soviet Russia, you don't play tennis, tennis plays you..."
"I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV..."

Those are Snowclones:

http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/snowclone

And while you're at it, if you ever wondered where the "challenge accepted" or "Y U NO" angry guys came from, there are entries on that site for those, and more:

http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/challenge-accepted
http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/y-u-no-guy

Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

NaNoWriMo must-have books.

NaNoWriMo is here again. There is an AMAZEBALLS book bundle currently available for only .99 through the 'Zon that if you haven't gotten any of these books, even if you have one or two of them, GET IT because the books alone are worth more than that.



The Indie Author Power Pack: How To Write, Publish, & Market Your Book

Other books I think are fantastic for writers:


Save the Cat

Save the Cat!® Strikes Back

Save the Cat Goes to the Movies

The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression

The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 3rd Edition

Myth & the Movies: Discovering the Myth Structure of 50 Unforgettable Films

Why so many books about movies? Because writing is mental cinematography. If you can dissect movies, you can write better books. Because, as writers, we're taking the mental movies we see in our brain and trying to translate them onto the page for our readers.

I'll be posting more writing books over the next few days. This is a start, though, and these are books I have in my personal writing library.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Update in the Ellora's Cave vs Dear Author lawsuit.


Courtney Milan has posted a FANTABULOUS and amazeballs recap of the recent filings in the EC v DA case, including plain-English summations of evidentiary filings posted in the past couple of days. And, yeah, an Ebola footnote reference even. LOL (That can't be coincidental LOL.)

http://www.courtneymilan.com/ramblings/2014/10/22/the-exciting-world-of-the-tro-notchilled/

Monday, October 20, 2014

Authors, Do NOT read your reviews. PERIOD. And DO NOT STALK REVIEWERS!

(Note: I've edited the title of this to reflect that I'm directing this post to authors, NOT to readers. I am of the opinion that reviews are for READERS, not for authors. I don't mean any disrespect to reviewers, because most reviewers are great, just like the majority of authors aren't batcrap cray-cray stalkers. But the truth is, there are authors who cannot handle reading critical reviews.)

There was a disturbing article published recently by the Guardian, written by an author who, long story short, stalked a reviewer from Goodreads, which culminated in the author going to the reviewer's house. The author even purchased a background check on the person and called them at their JOB.

No, I'm not linking to it.

Here's the thing, the author claimed in their article that the reviewer went basically on a witch-hunt to destroy her book.

Whatever.

IN NO UNIVERSE IS IT ACCEPTABLE FOR AN AUTHOR TO STALK A REVIEWER. PERIOD.

FULL-STOP.

EVER.

Are there asshats on Goodreads? Yes. (Hence why it's important to NOT READ REVIEWS.) Are there people who seem to get their jollies writing snarky reviews that are little more than personal attacks on authors? Yes.

HOWEVER.

Repeat after me: IN NO UNIVERSE IS IT ACCEPTABLE FOR AN AUTHOR TO STALK A REVIEWER. PERIOD.

Ever.

EVVEEERRRRR.

I learned the hard way early on with one of my books that you NEVER argue with a reviewer. EVER. At the time, the publisher (it was a small indie press) even supported me replying to what I felt was not just an unfair review, but a total misrepresentation of the book, wide swaths taken out of context and twisted.

DOESN'T MATTER.

I had other AUTHORS, by the DOZENS, writing me privately and cheering me on for standing up to the reviewer, because their books had received similar treatment.

DOESN'T MATTER.

I never should have responded to the review, period. Boy, howdy, did I learn that lesson.

HOWEVER, in NO universe would I have EVER thought about stalking the reviewer. EVER. EVER. In fact, I went the other way, and refused to visit the site. When asked privately about it, I flat-out told people my feelings about the site (and was glad to hear most people felt the same way I did).

It was a very hard lesson I learned, and I have never forgotten it. Which is why I counsel writers to NEVER READ YOUR FUCKING REVIEWS. EVER.

EEEEVVVEEERRRRRRR.

Because if you can't handle some random, faceless person on the Internet being a jackass, and you go so far as to purchase a BACKGROUND check to hunt someone down? Bucky, have I got news for you, you need some serious mental health intervention.

What sickens me is that I'm seeing people, especially authors, who are actually praising this author for what they did.

WTF?? ARE YOU SHITTING ME???

Flip the script. If it was a MALE author who went after a female reviewer, going so far as to show up at her house, do you think that people would be praising him?

NO. THEY'D BE CALLING HIM A FUCKING STALKER.

And they'd be right.

Just like the author who did this IS A FUCKING STALKER. I don't give a shit if the reviewer said the author chopped up live babies for smoothies and used puppies for pinatas, IT'S JUST WORDS. It's some random asshat's random opinion.

If you are going to be a writer, you need to put your fucking gator hide on. I talked about this a few weeks ago. If you can't handle the fact that there are people in this world who seemingly get their jollies by being dicks and writing snarky reviews, then get the fuck out of this business NOW. Because it'll only get worse.

Some authors are cheering on the author, saying that the reviewer had it coming.

Um, WHAT? I suppose if she wore shorts and got raped she'd deserve that too, huh?

Oh, boo-fucking-hoo, someone said something bad about you on the goddamned Internet.

GROW THE FUCK UP.

Do I get bad reviews? Yeah. So? Most of them look like they were written by a Ritalin-addicted 5-year-old, and if I don't take them seriously, chances are other people don't, either. As a reader, when I see stuff written about a book where it looks like the reviewer has an ax to grind, do you think I give it any weight?

NO.

Do you?

Chances are, NO. So why the fuck would you make yourself look like a crazy person by stalking a reviewer on the Internet and going so far as to CALL THEM AT THEIR JOB and VISIT THEIR HOME? Again, the point isn't if the reviewer was in the wrong or not.

The point is that the author went off the rails and STALKED THE REVIEWER. Had the reviewer been sending severed fingers or something to the author via US Mail, yes, I would expect a different response.

But if someone just writes a bad review about your book, or is tweeting shit about you?

IGNORE THEM.

Yes, I get that sometimes it escalates. Not even going to go into the cray-cray pool that is gamergate. Not talking about that kind of stuff.

If someone says something bad about your book, IGNORE THEM. If someone's bugging you on Twitter? BLOCK THEM. Obviously if their behavior becomes threatening, if they make direct threats to you, that's different. But them saying they don't like your book?

FUCKING GROW UP.

One more time: IT IS NEVER OKAY TO STALK A REVIEWER. PERIOD.

It's NEVER OKAY to stalk anyone, regardless of the circumstances.

If you are so mentally fragile that you can't handle the fact that the WORLD is full of assholes, you have no business putting yourself out there in a profession that requires a pretty damn thick skin.

*rant/out*

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Google Play Books for the self-pubbed. (Or: How to rip out all your hair without even trying.)

I know when self-pubbing a book, be it fiction or non-fic, getting it out to as many venues as possible is the desired goal.

HOWEVER. (You knew that was coming, right?)

Google Play.

You'd think for a company that can map the entire farking world in 360-degree-view increments could invent an e-book selling platform back end that didn't...you know...SUCK.

For starters, it's NOT user friendly. (This coming from someone who rarely needs a manual for ANYTHING.)

Secondly, it's nearly as slow as Nook to get stuff posted. (Again, the whole technology, instant search results, we're the king of tech rep thing Google has going hasn't translated well to their Google Play platform. At least, not the book end of it.)

Third, they have a really unfriendly, bulky, and anti-social reports feature. (Just try it. You'll see what I mean.)

Fourth, trying to format blurb text SUCKS.

Fifth, they have a mandatory discount on your prices that you don't get any say over. (See this post over at Kboards for a chart on overriding it so Amazon et al doesn't price match to Google's discount.)

Sixth, epub files that Kobo and Nook will take just fine, without any problems, will suddenly start spouting weird problems that hang up Google's meat grinder. (Hint: Save your doc as an rtf, make sure you're using styles for normal text versus headers, save it as an html, then convert to epub with Calibre.)

Seven, you need a LOT of OTC headache meds (or alcohol) when loading books into the damn thing.

Eight, it takes FOREVER for the books to process (and you thought 24 hours for Kindle was bad) and update info if you have to make changes.

Nine, good luck finding the publisher back-end. (Hint: Once you do, bookmark that biatch and keep it on your toolbar. And, oh yeah, it's located HERE.)

Ten, when you Google search for help on Google books, you have to weed through about three pages of UNHELPFUL Google help pages to find third-party websites that are, you know, actually helpful.

I could go on and on.

That said, why should someone self-pub with Google Play if it's that much of a PITA?

Because it's there. Because it's free to sign up for it, and if you make one sale there, it's one sale more than you had before, that's why.

But, seriously, it'll make you appreciate Smashwords more than you ever thought possible. (So you know that's saying something.)

Here are some links to help you navigate the muddy waters that are Google Play Books. (You'll have to supply your own booze, sorry.)


Grammar: Lie versus Lay redux.


I've updated the lay/lie post I did a couple of years ago because I found another good resource on it. (Yes, it trips me up, too.)

http://writeyourassoff.blogspot.com/2011/10/grammar-lie-versus-lay.html

Enjoy!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Book cover design tips.

A few more blog posts I've stumbled across about book cover design.

Book covers, in combination with the back cover "blurb," will make or break your book, especially in today's e-book age. It's not enough to use the built-in cover designer options on some websites. You need to put thought and work (and sometimes money, if you don't have the skills or software yourself) into designing your cover.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

#notchilled - Dear Author defense fund.


Apparently I've made some sort of blacklist for daring to blog about the EC suit against Dear Author. You know what? Fuck it, it's a great group of people to be blacklisted with. And I will ALWAYS support the truth. I'm not a fan of Dear Author, but I'll be the first to say if you have a couple of dollars you can spare toward the DA defense fund, it's a couple of dollars you are spending for someone to find out the TRUTH of what's been widely reported for years now by various authors. I will ALWAYS support that. I hope DA comes out on top in this and the truth is exposed, forever part of public record, and that authors and everyone else owed money will FINALLY get a chance to get the truth and hopefully get their rights back. Let's help DA shine the light of truth on this situation.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Writer Beware: More on the troubles at Ellora's Cave.

This is a follow-up to my last post highlighting reports about issues authors, editors, and cover artists are having with publisher Ellora's Cave.

Since then, there have been several developments, including more authors speaking out about their issues with the company, and EC filing a lawsuit against blogging site Dear Author, apparently trying to send out a message to EC detractors.

Unfortunately for EC, it's not only brought more attention to the problem, it's also opened the door to authors and others who feel EC is in breach of their contracts to eagerly watch the proceedings in hopes that the discovery process will bring to light information corroborating their claims about slow/no/underpayments, etc.

There is also a Twitter hashtag being used ( #notchilled ) by people discussing the case and issue. There is a legal term for the type of lawsuit that was filed, commonly referred to as a SLAPP lawsuit, the tl;dr being that it's brought to "chill" people from being outspoken about a company/incident. By threatening to sue, or bringing suit, it's a warning to others not to speak out about the issue.

In this modern age of social media, however, these kinds of lawsuits frequently backfire by bringing even MORE attention to the issue. (Frequently called the "Streisand effect.")

Unfortunately, when a publishing house has problems, they frequently don't do the SMART thing and simply revert rights to the loudest protesters to silence them by having them sign a non-disclosure agreement as part of the deal. (Silver Publishing did this, which allowed them to hang on a little longer.) We've seen the same pattern of behavior and denial when Noble and Silver both went tits-up, as well as others. You'd think that a smart business person would take a look at those cases and, if they REALLY wanted to whitewash stuff, LEARN from those mistakes.

So here are some more links on the issue. (My opinion is that it's stupid for a company whose lawsuit history is sketchy at best to attempt to sue a blog run by...wait for it...an ATTORNEY. Ummm, yeahhhh.)


So if a newbie author was to approach me and ask if they should submit to EC...well, do I REALLY need to answer that question?

I get why some authors don't want to speak out. They might not feel like their payments are being impacted, and maybe they're not. In cases like this, there are always writers who are treated as "teacher's pets" and kept happy and quiet and loyal. Usually the biggest earners/names. Also, I've seen some reports (unconfirmed) floating around from various sources that there have been some veiled threats by EC to reveal author's real names, which for some authors who need the anonymity of a pen name to protect day jobs that, ya know, actually PAY their freaking bills, this could be devastating. (Again, I've seen no official confirmation or screenshots that back that up, but I've seen it posted by more than one person, so as with any case such as this, when there are multiple reports, it tends to lend credence to the claim.)

If this was nearly any other industry, if people weren't getting paid, you can bet they'd be going to their coworkers and asking about it, or maybe even contacting their local TV station and newspaper for help if they couldn't get help anywhere else. There's some sort of codependent, whacky code of silence about not speaking out about bad publishers until it's already well past the critical mass point. I've heard authors tell me that in some cases (with other houses, not this one) that they were directly threatened that their careers would be ruined if they spoke out. Huh? Sounds like, oh, ABUSIVE behavior to me. So screw that noise, I say be loud and make a scene if you've tried all other reasonable and professional routes and still can't get things settled. (I'm NOT saying throw a fit first. I'm saying if you hit a point where your emails are getting ignored, your payments are not coming and no one responds, or they react to you in an unprofessional way, etc. then it's time to make a scene.)

Any authors, editors, or cover artists who CAN speak out, however, take a look at the DA post (the update one) and contribute your statement, your voice, to the issue, to the evidence. You are NOT alone. Those who know me know I'm not a fan of DA. HOWEVER, when friends of mine are getting screwed, AND when free speech is being challenged, the enemy of my enemy is my friend and all that jazz. I've seen a couple of authors crow about DA being sued, that it's karma in action.

Um, let me tell you something. As an author, you NEED a thick skin. Yes, some reviews will suck, or even be inaccurate, possibly deliberately so. Suck it up. I learned that lesson the hard way myself a long time ago. If you're not prepared to take a lickin' and keep on tickin', as they say, then this is NOT the business for you. Anyone who thinks it's a good thing that DA is getting sued for the reason that they don't like DA, then you are NOT seeing the bigger picture here.

DA is reporting information about a company reportedly shafting authors and others. And that same company is trying to get DA to stop reporting on it. If DA was a newspaper, would you be cheering as loudly? No, I'm not happy that DA is getting sued because it's DA. The only thing I'm "happy" about is that this is finally a realistic chance for the TRUTH to come out once and for all about the years of shenanigans we've heard about. (The farking TAX BILL that EC owes? I mean, seriously? That's a massive red flag right there.)

Authors are getting FUCKED OVER. If you're eagerly crowing about karma, just remember it can go 'round again and hit YOU in the ass on the backswing. If it was a publisher screwing you, wouldn't YOU want someone with the knowledge and know-how and resources to fight back fighting for the truth?

With this lawsuit, it means discovery. Meaning authors who probably couldn't have afforded to invoke any existing audit clauses will be able to piggyback on top of any information DA manages to wrangle out of EC. (Given EC's legal history, however, they might end up falling back on previous tactics.) Not only has this backfired on EC by bringing even MORE attention to the issue, and allowing other EC authors who thought they were alone in thinking there was something hinky going on to band together, it's also backfired by opening the door to evidence being pried out of EC's hands and put out to the public record as part of the lawsuit.

Truth is always a defense against a defamation lawsuit.

And, I hope, the truth does come out. I hold out little hopes for authors and others to get any monies due to them, but maybe they'll get their rights back, and maybe, just maybe, it'll help prevent other authors from being screwed over in the process by warning them off.

EDIT 1: Courtney Milan posted a plea for people to speak out, including options for those afraid to.

EDIT 2: The Passive Voice - The Flush Pile - An Author's Perspective

EDIT 3: Gigaom is now reporting on it. (Gee, suing a blogger who is an attorney sure did shut down the discussions, didn't it? [sarcasm] *smdh*)

EDIT 4: Lissa Matthews, an EC author, speaks out

EDIT 5: Lolita Lopez, an EC author, speaks out.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Cover typography must-read post.

Dropping this here, it's an AMAZEBALLS post by Courtney Milan on cover typography. This is a must-read if you're self-pubbing. She explains all the "wrong" things I've seen on books, and while she focuses mostly on historical, the same types of guidelines apply regardless of the genre.

http://www.courtneymilan.com/ramblings/2014/07/30/how-to-suck-at-typography/

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Newbie Author Tip 2: Develop gator hide. NOW.

I think some writers get into writing with HUGELY wrong misconceptions. I'm talking flat-earth notions that really take them aback when they get to doing this writing gig stuff.

Now, for starters, let me clarify. There are two basic kinds of writers: fun and business.

If you're writing for "fun" and don't give a patoot if/when/how you're ever published, or you don't care if you'll make any money, then knock yourself out.

For those of you who want to parlay your writing into earnings, keep listening.

Now, I know I said before that if you're in this to make money, then you're not in this for the right reasons. This is not a contradictory statement. I WANTED to make a living as a writer. But for years, I had to do a lot of other things, along with my writing, to make a living. But I never stopped writing in those time periods. I never stopped honing my craft, never stopped learning, never stopped researching. Making a living is not the ONLY reason I'm writing. Key difference there.

I write because, money or not, I'd STILL be a writer. I'd still be writing.

That said, I want to keep making a living as a writer. That means I had to develop gator hide early on. There are going to be a lot of arrows tossed at you. From critique groups, from editors, agents, readers, publishers, reviewers, and, yes, asshat trolls.

Get over it.

Get the fark over it right now.

You will have to learn what criticism is valid, and what criticism needs to bounce off your hide like one of those damn rubber balls you can buy out of a vending machine for your kids and then spend the next twenty minutes chasing it around a parking lot because they slammed it as hard as they could against the sidewalk and it took off like a missile into parts unknown.

'Kay?

Know what I'm sayin'?

You will have people in critique groups who want to be coddled, babied, told their shit don't stink. And when you try to tell them they formatted ALL their action and dialog tags wrong, they'll go nuclear on you like you threatened their puppy with a Ginsu knife.

Gator hide.

You will have relatives who say, "Oh, isn't that cute? You still have that fantasy..."

Gator hide.

You'll have Goodreads trolls who, months before your book is even released, will give it 1-star reviews. Why? I don't know, because they're fucking assnuggets who apparently have no quality of life outside of their own narcissistic schemes.

Gator hide.

Gators are fucking gators, man.

I'm finally at the point where I can honestly say 99.9% of "negative" reviews don't bother me. Mostly because they look like they were written by meth-addicted five-year-olds with English as their second language, or by their words they obviously think Fifty Shades of Grey is THE definitive statement about BDSM.

Ummm, yeah. Surrrre.

One- and two-starred reviews with no comments? I don't even bother considering those. (Here's a hint: neither do most readers, so ignore them.)

Gator hide.

The only reviews that ever get even the slightest bit under my skin anymore are the ones where I can tell the reviewer put a lot of thought, effort, and proper English grammar skills into their post. If I think they made valid points, I might take them into consideration for the next book, or I might not.

Gator hide.

You have to write for YOU first. You are your first reader. Doesn't mean you can get away with trying to invent a 66-act narrative structure just because, hey ART, biatches! But it means you have to get to a point where you stop trying to change your story for EVERY single reader, because, hey, guess what? There will ALWAYS be readers who don't like your work. Just ask any Nobel prize winner.

Gator hide.

Do you like every book? No.

Duh.

Gator hide.

This means you don't get pissy with people. If you think their advice is valid, take it. If not, ignore it.

Gator hide.

HOWEVER, even gators know when to back the fuck down. (I live in Florida, believe me, I KNOW gators. My aunt's ex-husband was a gator hunter, for chrissake.)

You don't get to be Princess McBitchypants when someone points out something to you. Either take the criticism, or leave the area.

Likewise, you don't see gators losing their shit over something they don't perceive as a threat. If someone points something out to you that you don't agree with, smile, nod, and let it go. Let it wash off your back like the mucky swamp water it probably is.

It's very common for people in critique groups to get all up in arms when you dare tell them the facts of life. They have enmeshed themselves in this little fantasy world filled with cotton candy and unicorns and rainbows. Do you know why there are no unicorns left in the world???? DO YOU??

The gators FUCKING ATE THEM.

So, too, shall such "special snowflake" writers be devoured.

Alligators are an ancient species. They just WORK. (Until man nearly hunted them to the brink of extinction.) Their systems are developed for what they do, they're efficient, they're tough.

They. Are. Fucking. GATORS.

You need to be a gator. Patient, economy of motion. Studying your surroundings. Acting only when necessary. Feeding only when necessary. Smartly learning as they observe. Hibernating when the weather is cold, and bellowing like a motherfucker in breeding time.

How does this translate to being a writer?

You need to learn, grown, feed your MIND. Practice your craft. STUDY other writers, both in your chosen genre and elsewhere. And when it's time for your book baby to see the light of day? Announce it. (Not in a spammy way, though, please. Alligators aren't bellowing for horses to come breed with them, soo...)

If you are offended by this post, you're a special snowflake unicorn.

You will be eaten.

And the sad thing is, you could easily be an alligator. But you've opted to stay a unicorn and let yourself get eaten, all the while bemoaning how unfair life is, how horrible readers/reviewers/editors/agents/publishers are, all of that.

Be. A. Fucking. GATOR.

*rawr*

Monday, September 15, 2014

Newbie Author Tip 1: Devour information on the craft and industry.

Tip 1 for newbie authors:

See those shiny little links over there in the right-hand column? (Well, if I ever change the blog layout that might change, but they'll still be here somewhere) Go check them out. See the books I linked to? Go check those (and others) out. Go sign up for newsletters.

READ THEM. I also have a lot more linked over on the front page of my main website at TymberDalton.com.

"But, waaah, I don't have time!"

Would you trust a surgeon who wants to operate on you but claims he doesn't have time to learn as much as he can about the latest techniques? I know that's an exaggerated example, but still. Would you?

That wasn't a hypothetical question. Answer it.

No, you wouldn't. Not if you're reasonably sane. (Although if you're a writer, your sanity is in question to start with, but hopefully you've got a strong enough sense of self-preservation to counter that.)

Also, read books in your chosen genre. Forget the bullshit about accidentally plagiarizing stuff. If you're that worried about it, read stuff outside your genre after reading inside it, and then go write.

In fact, reading OUTSIDE your genre is also a good idea. Why? Because it stretches and exercises that blob of grey matter between your ears, that's why.

Also, use Google-Fu. Google search the heck out of things like, "How do I format a manuscript for submitting to publishers?" Or, "How do I submit to agents?" Or, "How do I work this damned word processing software?" Whatever it is, trust me, it's OUT there. If worse comes to worst, ASK ME. But if you learn some Google-Fu, it will greatly help you in your efforts. If you are lazy and don't do your own research, you'll soon find that other writers stop answering your questions because you're asking stuff that CAN be answered in most all basic resources on the art and craft and profession of writing. Writers in general don't mind being mentors. But we DO mind being babysitters to people who think they're entitled to having their hands held when we're already strapped for time doing our own work.

Don't think you are above learning about the craft of writing. You're not. If you think you are, throw in the towel right now, because you are in for a WORLD of disappointment.

I have nearly seventy books to my credit as of this writing. I am the FIRST person to admit I need an editor. And I'm constantly reading books on the craft.

Do I take every single piece of advice to heart? No, of course not, because some of it doesn't apply to my style of writing, or my creative process, or whatever. But I still READ it and think about it, because even if it doesn't exactly apply to me now, maybe I'll need that information at some future time, you know?

I also read books on the craft of screenwriting. Why? Because books are movies readers watch inside their head. And they're movies writers see inside their heads and then vomit onto the page. It all applies. If you think it doesn't, start stretching your brain, because you're already behind the curve.

Do you have your eye on a specific publisher or agent? Research the hell out of them FIRST. Then, look on their website. They probably have submission guidelines. (If they don't, that's a red flag.) And here's another hint, FOLLOW THOSE GUIDELINES. Yes, they DO apply to YOU. Don't think, "Well, I'll just slip this inspirational romance into their queue, just in case," when they say they're looking for erotica.

Do. Not. Do. It. You're setting yourself up for a rejection, and you're wasting other people's time. Not to mention your entitlement 'tude is showing just a smidge there, snowflake.

FOLLOW instructions. Don't try some dang gimmick and think it'll help you. (It won't.) If you look at agents' blogs, they'll usually outright tell you a gimmick is the fastest way to get shit-canned into the reject pile.

READ. LEARN. STAY OPEN. And above all, never forget this is a marathon, NOT a sprint.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Dear Newbie Writer: You suck...

...HOWEVER, don't take it personally. EVERY newbie writer sucks.

It's the nature of the beast. Do you think Mozart's first composition was one of the finest pieces of music anyone's ever heard?

No. (If you said yes, shut up and go get some meds.)

His first composition probably made Happy Birthday sound intricate by comparison.

So how did he get better?

He practiced. He WORKED at it. He became a SLAVE to his calling.

Just because you read books does NOT mean you will be a great--much less a good, or even mediocre--writer. It just doesn't.

Just because you got good grades in English and you're a fledgling grammar Nazi doesn't mean you'll be a good writer.

What's the difference between dialog and action tags? How do you properly format them? What is passive voice and why is it so detrimental to your writing? Why is it a bad idea to write from multiple characters' viewpoints in the same scene without a clear break? How do you use page breaks and paragraph formatting so you don't fark your manuscript's formatting? Huh? HUH?

If you stammered at ANY of those questions, trust me, you need to do some work.

Now, I'm NOT saying you can't and won't get better. But if you wake up one day deciding you can write a better book than you've been reading, GREAT! Go for it.

But don't expect your first attempt to not suck big, hairy donkey balls. Because it WILL.

And guess what? That's OK. I have nearly SEVENTY books under my belt, and I am the FIRST to admit I need an editor. Anyone who thinks they don't need an editor is delusional. (Go take your damn meds.)

Unfortunately, I've seen WAY too many people who let someone glance over their work and then throw it up on Kindle or elsewhere, and they're shocked that they get horrible reviews and make little to no sales.

That's because it's the equivalent of booking Carnegie hall for a concert after you've been taking piano lessons for three weeks.

Seriously.

EXPECT failure. Especially early on. Sign up for the Internet Writing Workshop and submit your book a chapter at a time to the Novels-L (or other) critique groups. Critique other people's works, and READ how other critiquers looked at the same piece you did. See what you missed, see what they missed, and improve your own skills.

We've got this "get rich quick" mentality settling in self-publishing that's really disheartening to see. A lot of people are in this to make money. Yes, I write to make money. BUT, and here's the thing: I WOULD STILL BE WRITING EVEN IF I DIDN'T MAKE A DIME AT IT.

Yes, I would have to be making a living doing something else. But I am a WRITER first. I'm not a disgruntled reader who decided I could do it better/faster/shinier. I write BECAUSE I'M A WRITER. I also know that since I'm lucky enough to have my dream job, I treat this like a business, because it IS.

No, those two ideas are not contradictory. If someone jumps into being an author because they want to do it for a living, and they were never a writer before, guess what? You're going to suck at it. You'll suck hard, you'll suck deeply, and you'll probably soon become disillusioned by the whole thing.

Good. You don't belong here anyway.

Those of you who always wanted to be a writer, but you never got around to doing it until later, okay, you've got a good emotional foundation under you, but you MUST PUT IN THE WORK. That's not me being all crotchety and "hey you kids, get off my lawn," either. Well, a little, but that's normally me anyway.

But do you honestly think because you can make a kick-ass grilled cheese sandwich that you could go take over one of Mario Batali's restaurants and not get yourself laughed out of the kitchen?

No. (If you think yes, shut up and, again, GO TAKE YOUR FARKING MEDS.)

Those of us who've always known we wanted to be writers, we've worked at this for YEARS. I'm NOT saying don't try, don't submit, all of that. What I'm saying is don't expect your first attempts to not suck. Especially if you don't do the groundwork because you're in some sort of shiny new author frenzy.

Do NOT get sucked in by self-publishing "services" (vanity presses) that will charge you to publish your manuscript. (This is different from you hiring editors, cover artists, etc.)

Buy books on writing and READ them. Find blogs on writing and READ THEM. (Look over in the right-hand column, I have SOME LINKED THERE!!!) Get subscriptions to Writers Digest and others and READ THEM. Get yourself a copy of CMOS (Chicago Manual of Style) and USE IT, because publisher DO use it, and if you don't apply its standards, readers WILL notice and ding you on it. LEARN and RESEARCH the business end of publishing, because writing the book, believe it or not, is the EASY part of this whole equation.

Most of all, ditch the farking diva attitude. Just because your besties at wine club LOVED your book and raved over it doesn't mean you can turn into Francie McCuntnugget when someone points out that you didn't format a SINGLE one of your dialog tags correctly. Or that you mixed up your/you're, there/their/they're, to/too/two, then/than, and other commonly blown words in your manuscript.

One of the best ways to start getting your name out there while learning your craft is to create a blog. Write about your kids. Write about your counter-surfing dog. Write about college sports. Write about cheese mold, for all I give a crap, because seriously, you NEED to practice writing. (And if you rolled your eyes at me there, that's the kind of diva bullshit I'm talking about.)

If you have a book out, quit spamming the damn Facebook groups about it and TALK TO PEOPLE. Interact with them. Like a cocktail party, don't you get aggravated when an insurance guy comes up to you and tries to hard sell area? Yeah? Well, WHY THE FARK DO YOU THINK IT'S OKAY TO DO THAT ON FACEBOOK?????

Seriously.

SERIOUSLY.

I don't know what spammer handbook some authors are reading, but it needs to get BURNED and forgotten.

Go get Kristen Lamb's "Rise of the Machines" book and READ IT COVER TO COVER. Subscribe to her blog. And quit whining that you didn't know better when people start blocking you and booting you from their groups for not paying attention to the promo rules. It's no excuse.

I don't mind helping newbie writers. I was mentored by some pretty great people, and I like mentoring others. I do. This is not a case of me saying, "Well, I had to work hard, so you should have to work hard, too." Guess what?

WE ALL HAVE TO WORK HARD. There ARE NO SHORTCUTS.

But what pisses me off are people who expect me to hold their farking hand for them when they could do five minutes of Google-fu on their own and get the answers they seek. Or, worse, when I GIVE them the info and they don't take the time to use it and continue to whine about whatever it is they were whining about before.

Suck it up, buttercup. This isn't a game for the lazy, the thin-skinned, or the ego-inflated. Any of those will bring you more trouble than you ever dreamed of.

Yes, there are petty, backstabbing asshats in this business. Way more than just a few years ago when I first started, I'm sad to say. But there are also a LOT of great people. If you align yourself with the POSITIVE people who are not only doing well, but who are LIKED by their readers, and who are LIKED by fellow authors, guess what? You'll learn a few things. Good behavior will rub off on you. Just like if you hang out with the people who are constantly bitching that they're getting their accounts suspended for spam, etc., the people who think blitzing social media a thousand times a day, or (REALLY skeezy) BUYING "likes" or Twitter followers or whatever, then guess what? You'll end up earning a skeezy rep, too.

Readers notice that shit. They really do. If you create sock puppet accounts and give yourself great reviews and give your "competition" one-star reviews? Guess what? Readers FIGURE THAT SHIT OUT. They'll blacklist you and you won't even notice it until you see your sales start to tank and flatline.

Yes, it's hard work to do this the right way. But guess what? If you do this the RIGHT way the FIRST time? You will be building yourself a solid career path that, IN TIME, will eventually pay off for you. It's a marathon, NOT a sprint. And anyone who tells you otherwise is probably trying to either get you to buy into some scheme, pay them for their "services," or looking for people to pimp them out by sweet-talking you into something you shouldn't be involved in to begin with.

Be honest. Be genuine. Be yourself. Don't try stupid gimmicks to fool readers. There is no secret. The path to success consists of a few very easy to remember steps:

1) Don't be a douchenozzle. Be nice, be genuine.
2) Don't spam.
3) WRITE GOOD BOOKS.
4) WRITE MORE GOOD BOOKS.

That's IT. That's the secret to this. Especially the writing good books part.

*rant/out*

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Writer Beware: Problems at Ellora's Cave

Rumors have swirled around slow, late, and non-payment at publisher Ellora's Cave for years, but lately it seems things are starting to get worse, perhaps even reaching a critical point now.

Publisher's Weekly wrote this.

Then, there was this.

And this.

(So, is it, or isn't it, a new "publishing house?")

Also, this.

And then this from Publisher's Weekly.

And here's the link to the discussion forum about it at AbsoluteWrite.com. (Newest posts on the last pages.)

But, if they're having trouble with income from Amazon, shouldn't they, I dunno, maybe address one of the biggest customer complaints about them, that their books are waaaaaay overpriced compared to comparable genres and lengths? No one's saying give them away for free, but dayamn how about taking a long, hard look at the market and figuring out that maybe he reason sales are down at the 'Zon is because YOUR BOOKS ARE OVERPRICED. Also, they're likely running afoul of the 'Zon's algorithms with their covers and blurbs, getting whacked into the adult filter. (Here's a hint: INSTRUCT your authors how to set up Amazon Author pages and refer people to THOSE so the search algorithms don't hurt you as badly while you change your covers and blurbs to escape the clutches of the adult filters.)

Now, Cat Grant and Avril Ashton have gone public with their issues getting paid by EC.

Now there's this batcrap crazy shit if you haven't seen it yet.

So, um, not sure what THAT means. I guess if you email bitching about your royalties being late/missing you might get a, what, door-knocking visit from Interpol? I mean, I don't know. Sounds like someone needs to take her meds. Or needs meds.

Then there are these nuggets:

This... (Movies???)

This... (So where's the moola?)

This... (Again, the whole is it/isn't it a publishing house question.)

...and this.

For years, I've cautioned writers about EC, mostly because of troubling contract terms that used to be standard and hard to get struck during negotiations, but then I started hearing rumors from a variety of sources, editors and writers alike, that things were going downhill.

Frankly? I wouldn't sign with them. They used to be a fairly prestigious name in the romance industry, but it would seem their problems greatly outweigh that reputation now.

I saw this same pattern of behavior before the horrific implosion of Silver Publishing.

I will be recommending authors do not submit to them until there is obvious improvement in the situation and all back royalties are paid in full and the problem is fixed. I know there have been rumors for years, but the truth is, there have been issues for years. There was a lawsuit a few years back, among other things.

Bottom line is, I feel sorry for my friends who are in the process of being shafted. I hope the authors and staff get the monies owed them, but frankly, I suspect they won't.

EDIT:

I also found this blog post by Trista Ann Michaels from March of 2014 where she posts she's not been paid.

EDIT 2:

Dear Author published this in-depth article about the EC troubles.

EDIT 3:

It's now being reported on the Writer Beware blog.

EDIT 4:

http://deirdre.net/forget-curious-this-is-downright-bizarre/

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A video essay about film editor Satoshi Kons.

Okay, this is a GREAT video for writers to watch. Why? Writers are storytellers. If you study film techniques, it will only enrich your writing. Satoshi Kons used techniques that writers can also make use of to enrich their writing. If you can't "see" your book in your mind, how are your readers expected to see it?

http://laughingsquid.com/a-video-essay-exploring-japanese-director-and-animator-satoshi-kons-unique-style-of-editing/

Monday, July 28, 2014

Would you stay with an abuser?


...if someone tells you you can't make it without them?
...if someone tells you they made you who you are?
...if someone isolates you from friends and tells you who you can and can't be friends with?
...if someone tries to control your career?
...if someone controls your earnings and lies to your face when you know the facts don't support what they're saying and tries to screw you out of money?
...if someone violates terms of contractual agreements?
...if someone always has an excuse or tries to sweet-talk or guilt you into giving them more time to clean up their act?
...if someone always blames others for their difficulties?
...if someone tries to circle the wagons and foster an "us versus them" culture in your relationship?
...if someone basically uses you and isn't there for you when you need them?
...if someone stole from you after saying they didn't know what you were talking about and you had proof?
...if someone claims they're broke yet spent on lavish stuff?

Would you stay with someone like that in a relationship?

THEN WHY THE FARK WOULD YOU STAY WITH THEM IF IT'S YOUR PUBLISHER???

I wish I was making this up, but, just as with Silver Publishing a few years ago, I know a LOT of people--editors AND authors--being fucked over by a small indie press (who isn't even current on their corporate filings with the state they're registered in). This publisher has the authors convinced that either they're in a "pity poor me" situation, or sweet-talks them into believing them, or flat-out threatens to "ruin careers."

Seriously??? RUIN your career?? The only career being ruined right now is this publisher, who is quickly growing close to the point of being publicly outed.

Yes, it's the same publisher I ran the bad contract series about a few months back. I had hoped that would scare enough sense into them to straighten up, but apparently they are that narcissistic that they think they can get away with screwing people over.

Frankly? I've given the name of an IP attorney to the writers I know who are being screwed over, and I'm encouraging them to go after the publisher with a class-action suit.

Yes, I hope that publisher sees this.

Their actions include blatant skimming of royalties, late/no payment of editors and authors, refusing to return rights despite their own contractual violations, AND, even better, after returning rights to an author, they then took their company's logo off the books and ILLEGALLY RE-RELEASED THEM WITHOUT COMPENSATING THE AUTHOR. (Yes, the author is sending out D&C and DCMA notices as I type this.)

Worse, the publisher has cultivated an inner-core of supporting authors they use to try to bully the other authors with. As authors wisen up, they are cut out of that inner-core, and the same kind of techniques abusers use in relationships are used against the other authors. (Hey, it happened with Silver Publishing, it's happened in other publisher implosions, it's NOT a new phenomenon.) What's even funnier is that those same inner-core authors ARE being screwed over, but because they think their friend would NEVER do that to them, they ignore any little inconsistencies they see, they ignore the other authors (and editors) cut out of the loop, because they've been told they're either troublemakers, or lying, or whatever. So that inner core of supporters believes the bullshit of the one rather than face the truth of the many.

Writers, editors -- you HAVE to band together and stand up to this bully. Because that's all they are: a bully. YOU have contractual rights being trampled on, you are being STOLEN from. Would you stand there and tell someone robbing your house, oh, it's okay, no big deal?

Screw that noise. Get loud, go public, or else this THIEF will be able to keep up their abusive tactics.

So hey, you want to know who the publisher is?

Fair warning to said thief: You keep this shit up, if you don't immediately release rights to the authors demanding them AND pay up, you WILL be outed, and NOT just by me, either. You've pissed off a LOT of people who are friends with the authors being screwed over. Including people pissed off that you told your authors not to "associate" with certain other authors because it would be "bad" for their careers. The truth is, you told them not to associate with those authors, because you knew damn well you would be called out for YOUR bullshit, sweet cheeks.

*Monday rant out*

(No, this is NOT about my publisher LOL. I am VERY happily published with them, and have never had anything but good experiences with them.)

If y'all are as pissed off about this as I am, feel free to rant away about this or your own experiences with asshole publishers in the comments. Don't name names, but feel free to vent.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Friday Frappe links


Here's an assortment of good links from my feed. I know I don't post these as often as I should, sorry.

7 Signs of a Vanity Publisher (E-bookbuilders.com)

The Single Best Way to Sell Books (Or Lose a Sale) (Kristen Lamb's blog)

The Full-Time Writer (Chuck Wendig's Terribleminds blog)

10 Things I'd Like To Say To Young Writers (Chuck Wendig's Terribleminds blog)

Breaking Out the Hard Stuff: Writing the Parts You Really Don't Want To (Bare Knuckle Writer)

What does NOT belong in your book's online "description" field.

Mostly this applies to self-pubbed authors, but I've seen some smaller, misguided publishers (usually started by a disgruntled and now technically self-pubbed author) do this, too. Although, I've seen larger traditional publishers use the description area for reviews instead of the description (also a VERY bad idea).

The "description" field on online retailer sites is for the book's back-cover "blurb." This is the short DESCRIPTION of what your book is about. It's NOT for:

  • sample text of the sooper-dooperiest scene in the book
  • reviews
It is for THE DESCRIPTION.

The back-cover blurb should give a reader an idea what your book is about. Also, in today's world (especially in cases of romance/erotic books) it should give readers notice of the romantic pairing (M/F, M/M, F/F, MFM, MMF, etc.), any material the reader might find objectionable--or be specifically looking for (BDSM, wolf shape-shifters, Alpha heroine, anal sex/play, dub-con, HEA, HFN, spanking, whatever). Before you argue with me that you shouldn't be required to use no stinkin' "warnings," here's the thing--the 'Zon took away tags. That means someone LOOKING for a book along your lines will have an EASIER time FINDING IT if you provide those little "warnings" that you're objecting to in the freaking description field. 

Ahhhh, does that clarify things, bunky?

Use your freaking brain.

Also, if the book is in a series, start your description with something on its own line like (Book 1 of the Sooper-dooper Series) and then after your blurb, list the OTHER books in the series and their suggested reading order. Make sure to remember to go back and update each description for each book--INCLUDING print format (you have to edit Kindle and print separately) for each subsequent book.

Most online e-book retailers allow for a free preview. THAT is where your sample belongs. In THERE. How you get that is you pick a short (hopefully cliff-hanger) sample and stick it at the front of the compiled e-book file, after the cover and before the front matter/copyright page. Make sure your coding (especially in the case of Kindle books) is set to open the book at the front cover, or at least at your sample text.

"But...but..."

STOP. I do NOT want to hear your excuses. I don't care what idiot spammy "guru" told you putting samples in the description is a good idea. They're WRONG.

Here's the thing: Most of you who are using sample text in your descriptions? The problem is you don't go back and VERIFY the formatting of that text. Then it's one loooong jumbled wall of text. Then what happens?

The reader doesn't bother to one-click your book. In fact, they click AWAY from your book, because they assume the rest of the book is the same hot mess as that. Also, they don't know what your book is ABOUT.

Even worse? If you have lots of typos or other errors? Then they're front and center in that same sample text.

Um, yeah.

This isn't me just venting a personal opinion, here. I've heard countless readers say the same damn thing. If you make them WORK to read what the book is about, they won't bother.

Make it EASY on them.

Quit being farking LAZY and get the freaking sample and reviews OUT of your damn description section. Amazon HAS a "review" section you can use. (Did you set up your author page and claim your books? NO? Why the fark not?)

So there's your new thing for the day. Those of you who are guilty, go FIX IT. You might just find your sales go UP.

While you're there, FIX your dang blurbs so they aren't one wall of text. Go into your author page and use the HTML editor feature in the description to add paragraph breaks. Again, you might find doing this ups your sales.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Interwebz outrage, writer DNA, and what does it matter?

Today's blog post is inspired by some responses I saw to a friend's helpful post on a private author email loop. The friend had run the post by me and others before posting, and I (and others) thought it was a very well-written, quick summation of things newbie authors should know.

Of course, the Internet being what it is, there was immediately a couple of asshats (despite most of the responses being positive) who had to piss all over the post, because, ya know--INTERWEBZ OUTRAGE.

Seems to be a disease with no vaccine or cure other than, oh, common sense.

From what I could tell, the disgruntled responses seemed to come in somewhere around the DON'T YOU PUT ME IN A BOX to the I'M ADULTISH YOU AIN'T THE BOSS OF ME range. But it once again hammered home the point in my mind that writers definitely have widely varying "lineages."

So this is me, boxing commonalities--roughly--into, you know, boxes of writer lineages. Most of them not bad or good, they just ARE. And yes, of course, there are hybrids and variations and mixes and matches and pick one from column A and one from column B and OH MY GOD now I want pork lo mein and eggrolls.

Ahem.

1) Jus sanguinis - You come from a "writerly" family, and it's just what you do. Maybe your parents are both writers, scholarly or otherwise. Or maybe they're academics who instilled a love of wordage into your genetic code, both nature and nurture. Or teachers or librarians or massive bookworms who are unfulfilled novelists who instill in you their hopes and dreams to become the next Pulitzer Prize winner. Do you enjoy it? Well, okay, sure, maybe, whatever *shrugs*. You didn't know you had a choice but to enjoy it, but it's fun enough. Or, maybe it's da bomb. Or, maybe you do it because you don't know anything else, or you feel it's expected of you. Or, whatever.

2) De novo - You just ARE a writer. If they looked at your DNA under a microscope, it would be Times New Roman 12-point. You might have been "that child" in the family, the one where both parents shrug and say, "I dunno,"(your father doesn't outright accuse your mother of an affair with his hunky English Lit professor cousin but it might have crossed his mind until it was discovered you possessed your father's allergy to cream of mushroom soup) but they go with it. (Or, if you're unlucky, they try to talk you into becoming an accountant.) You likely devoured books from a young age the way most kids would have devoured Cadbury Creme Eggs had they not been under adult supervision and lacking the finances to perpetually gorge themselves on same-said treats. You might have been writing stories even when you were in grade school. Your teachers learned NOT to give you creative writing assignments because you turned in 300-page manuscripts while the requirement was 100 words (and your classmates struggled and griped about that, much to your confusion and possibly derision). You are constantly trying to get better as a writer, devouring not just fiction, but books and articles on the art and craft of writing. Writing isn't what you do, it's who you ARE. You did it before you could make money at it, you'd keep doing it even if no one ever saw it, and if you can make money doing it? Then that's YOUR idea of Heaven, baby. They are the fucking Rambos of the publishing world. Publishing is the Zombie Apocalypse, and they are the survivalists who will RULE THE NEW WORLD.

3) Gilligan - You stumbled into it. Whether it was because you realized there were other people out there writing slash fiction pairing Spock and Kirk in hawwwwt monkey sex positions, or you read a book that you loved except for the ending and said, "Hey, I can do better than THAT," or you put enough blog posts together with enough people saying, "Hey, you should write a book." They are the common man pushed (or sometimes pulled kicking and screaming) into publishing, and are trying to find their way around this new dimension, like Arthur Dent being handed a towel by Ford Prefect and teleporting off Earth. (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy)

4) Thurston Howell, III - "You mean there are people writing shit, putting it up on Amazon, and inking movie deals? SIGN ME UP FOR THAT SHIT!" The ONLY reason they're writing is because they think they'll get rich doing it. It's only about the money, NOT about the writing, and they don't give a shit what you think.

--

I am of the de novo lineage. I'm lucky my parents humored me, my dad brought me home an electric typewriter from the flea market, and the county school system gave me a semester of typing in middle school when I'd wanted to be in band. I started reading in kindergarten, and was plopped into advanced reading classes--the next grade up and the only kid in my classes that did that--for the first several years of my grade school career. I knew from a VERY young age, once I was old enough to realize that the books I eagerly devoured were written by people who did this for a LIVING, that I wanted to do THAT. As a teenager, I would live for the Saturday nights when my parents would go out for the evening so I could set my typewriter up in the living room and beat it half to death without my parents finally cutting me off while I was still in the middle of a paragraph because the thing was too loud. As I got older, I also knew, realistically, that I'd need an EDJ (Evil Day Job) to support my writing addiction. I didn't care. I always "played" with my fiction, even as later on I ended up doing a lot of non-fiction writing, editing, and even self-publishing of computer software tutorials. My fiction was always THERE, in my head, the characters talking to me. It was a low-grade fever constantly burning inside me, with the only relief being to WRITE.

Still is, to this day. I'm lucky enough I now get paid to write, but this didn't happen overnight. It took me over twenty-five years to transition through stages of life to get to the point where I could finally call fiction writing my EDJ. Not saying it takes everyone that long to get to this place, but I'm saying that the writers who start out as de novo writers tend to have the most consistent success, long-term, of all the writing types.

Why do I say that?

I'm not saying the jus sanguinis writers don't or can't have success. Some do have great success. But they tend more toward the academic end of the spectrum, or literary fiction, not genre fiction. They might also be professors or teachers or other types of jobs where they're still surrounded by books and writing. Their internal fire is more like a pilot light.

The Thurston Howell, III types--well, fuck them. Most of these types are unrepentant spammers at worst, or lazy one-off plagiarists writers at best. Fortunately, most of the rest of these types tend to quickly flame out when they realize it's not as easy as it looks. I don't think I've ever seen one of these types transition into honest-to-Goddess de novo writers with a true love of the craft. I have seen several of them offer really bad advice to newbies who don't realize how spammy they are, and guilt-by-association sets in, and legitimate authors of the other types shun the clueless newbies for their ties to the spammers.

The Gilligans of the writing world usually never intended to start out "published." It might have been a passing thought or fantasy at some point, but they never dreamed they could or would make a living at it. It's very common to see these kinds of writers overwhelmed when they first get a publishing contract. They never realized that writing the book was the EASIEST part of the process, and when they realize their work has only started upon landing a publishing contract, their eyes frequently glaze over and they retreat to a metaphorical corner and wish they could take it all back. However, it's not uncommon for Gilligans to morph into de novo writers once the culture shock of the career-track of publishing wears off and they get their feet under them. Some Gilligans never try to make a living at it, they just want to write their books. (And there's nothing wrong with that, either.)

(Warning: I'm NOT saying ALL writers do this, hence why I capitalized SOME. If the shoe doesn't fit you, don't bitch at me that I'm trying to cram that fucker on your foot and lace it up, 'kay?)

SOME de novo writers are resentful of Gilligans, because the de novos often worked their asses off for years to get published, and know the back-end of the business, and are trying to balance the art and business of publishing so they don't have to ask, "Do you want fries with that?" a thousand times a day. They resent the Gilligans' frequent bumbling newbie questions that a simple perusal through most Writing/Publishing 101 websites/books/Writers Digest articles would answer. It's pretty much encoded in the de novos' DNA.

On the flip side of that, I've seen SOME Gilligans who view the de novos as bitchy or callous or uncaring or _____ because all the Gilligan wants to do is WRITE now that it's a THING they can do, and they can't understand why they HAVE to learn all this other SHIT about "publishing" when all they want to do is write their books. When a de novo honestly offers up helpful 101 advice, thinking they're helping, SOME Gilligans respond with, well, bitchiness or snark instead of a simple "thank you" because they think the de novo is trying to sound all high and mighty like.

And this very common conflict was the source of the kerfluffle I witnessed earlier on the email loop. My de novo friend offered up what I and others (de novos and Gilligans alike) thought was a very succinct, helpful roadmap of sorts. Then, of course, because the INTERWEBZ feeds on outrage (ha, and you thought it was electricity and black majick), some other Gilligan had to get their cunt twisted out of joint over it and reply with snark instead of either a) ignoring it, or b) the POLITE response of "thank you." (Fortunately, most of the people who responded took my friend's post in the helpful way it was intended. But as they say, there's at least one twatwaffle in every group.)

So why would my friend want to keep posting helpful advice if they're going to have an asshat or two slam them for it? Same-said asshats likely will come back later and accuse my friend of being a snooty, stand-offish "successful" author if my friend doesn't offer helpful advice later.

I frequently see SOME newbies make comments about SOME experienced authors who've had success, that they're stuck-up or inaccessible or ______ (bitchy, snooty, a royal cunt, etc.). Okay, yes, sometimes that shoe DOES fit. But frequently, and I've seen this in action more times than I can count, there's a case of mentor burn-out. Where experienced authors get to the point when they've answered the SAME question 1,000+ times, they finally snap and say, "Go fucking Google-Fu that, goddammit!" (Or at least they're thinking it while hitting DELETE on an unanswered email.) I'm not saying that's right or wrong, I'm just saying it IS. I've seen it happen. A few authors who mentored me early on have pretty much "gone dark"across the board in terms of writing 101 kinds of advice. And I can see why, because they got tired of answering the same questions--or getting metaphorically slapped in the face when they tried to be helpful. I've even had authors ADMIT this to me.

Damned if they do, damned if they don't.

I have to admit there are times I will roll my eyes at a question asked by someone, because I knew the answer to it in HIGH SCHOOL *mumble* decades ago because I had a subscription to Writers Digest even back then. It's not that people don't want to answer the newbies' questions, it's just that it honestly feels SOMEtimes like they want someone to hold their hand the whole way (that whole de novo versus Gilligan dynamic again) and not take a little initiative and just do a little fracking research on their own. (Google-Fu, padawan.) I do my best to mentor and help newbies when I can. Unfortunately, I can't sit down and walk every newbie that approaches me through the publishing gauntlet. I just can't. I'm too busy working and doing my own shit. Which is why I write tutorials (yes, I'm still revising the Pimp Yourself tutorial) to answer the common questions I get. Which is also why I refer people to the same websites and books I use/have used for answers. Which is also why I write blog posts about stuff that comes up again and again (and AGAIN) in forums, groups, and email loops.

I know that in blanting (blog+rant, yes I'm coining that if it's not coined already) my thoughts, I'm going to twist a few dicks into knots. I'm going to piss a few people off. (The INTERWEBZ demands OUTRAGE...)

I also realize that most people are either going to nod their heads in agreement with me, or they're going to read this and say, "Yeah, okay, I see where she's coming from."

And again, I'm not saying this shit's etched in concrete. There are writers who straddle the types, or who started out as one type and transitioned into another. I'm sure others will sit down and say there are more than the types I've described. (Knock yourself out, bunky.)

The bottom line and extremely circuitous point I'm trying to get to is, as I've always said, there's no finite pie with publishing. There's room for all types (the spammers tend to fizzle and die off on their own). It used to be that writers danced around inflammatory topics like earnings and sales and promo and stuff like that. Now anyone can start a blog or publish a book.

This is NOT a bad thing, folks.

Still, the INTERWEBZ demands OUTRAGE. Here's the thing--we're WRITERS. We WRITE. But sometimes we're the crappiest group at USING our WORDS effectively when it comes to dealing with each other. People want to sometimes assume the worst instead of assuming the best. And our outrage can bleed from our brain to the WHOLE GODDAMNED WORLD in 2.5 seconds or less (depending on your ISP and bandwidth speed).

And once it's on the Internet, baby, it's THERE. FOREVER. You think you can take it back a few hours later once you've calmed down and realized, "Hey, maybe I  misread that the first time around because I wasn't sufficiently caffeinated at the time." But you can't. You might think you can, but it's already hit inboxes, or it's cached somewhere, or someone screen-capped it, or whatever.

In this digital age, it's better NOT to jump into the fray right away unless you have a damn good reason to. Because there is a WHOLE world of outrage out there waiting to be unleashed upon the unsuspecting. No two writers come at their experience from the same angle or with the same background.

So, if someone offers up some advice, take it or don't. Don't snark at them because they gave it in the first place, solicited or not. You might easily find yourself on the wrong end of the stick and wishing you could take your words back.