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Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Analog Method

Frankly, I'm a little jealous at many of you writers. Oh, not necessarily for what you write, or your successes, things like that. I'm jealous because you write your books on a computer.

I hand write everything. I always have, and I probably always will. Why?

I'm not sure. I'm certainly capable of writing on a computer. I've done it for years, except where my novels are concerned. How nice it would be to write a little, pop over to a new window, check my stats and email, get right back to writing.  But it doesn't work like that with composition books. The computer becomes a distraction instead of a tool or ally.

And yet...

I type way too fast. Handwriting is so time-consuming, I am usually composing the next sentence before I've finished writing the last one. I think it makes for more contemplative writing, at times. Plus the margins are great places to make notes, drawings for your muse, things like that.

It's also a nod to the past. I often work with dead authors (erm...), who look over my shoulder, if nothing else. Many of them prefer the way they used to do things. And they are quite helpful, at times.

So typing up the novel is an extra editing step that you don't get when you start out on the computer in the first place. I do enjoy that part, if not the actual typing.

I can't argue with the results. But the fact is, I would write a lot more without this computer and network. I'd rather write well.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Why Amazon Should Buy Smashwords

1. Publicity - This move would probably draw the attention of the Department of Justice. That's a good thing. It would put a big spotlight on eBooks, writers, and all things literary. Great publicity, properly handled.

2. Meatgrinder - The Smashwords input module is top-notch. Don't upload to Amazon without going through it, first.

3. Distribution Channels - Hate Amazon? Buy an Amazon book from Banes & Noble, Sony or Apple. This would probably benefit all involved.

Never gonna happen. But it should...

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Poetry of "Perfect Me"

Woot! Massaged five manuscripts into .mobi files in one day. BMF.

The last, a ninety-five thousand word beast, is converting as I type this. Which leads me to (cue horns), another giveaway. A big one for me. I lost my mind and made my last two books Amazon exclusive, plus renewed the above thriller in question.

So, for the next five days, Pageburner, Zombie Killa and Six Stories Short & Sweet are free to download for the Kindle. Now with nice new formatting, tables of contents, named chapters and such. Sorry if you received a crap copy in the past.

On a related note, do you know how to refresh an Amazon book that's been updated? I sure don't. I have to email new copies to my Kindle, which is a good workaround, but consumers can't do that. Seems like a real problem. I'd like it if books at least had the option to auto-update.

I realized how I started messing up the files on Amazon while the Smashwords versions looked great. I'm pretty sure I used to upload filtered .htm files, and for some reason, one day uploaded a .doc file and then just ran with it. If you ever just briefly read the Amazon guidelines, the first thing it mistakenly says is that you have to upload a .doc file. Incorrect, of course, and you shouldn't. If you read on, this is clarified. If not...

But, good deal, I learned a lot about building a .mobi file, that's for sure. Email me if you ever need help.

So, now I have an amazing amount of control over the layout of my books, and I'm thrilled. CSS? Putting the next books together will be fun. Speaking of fun, as I sit here at five a.m. massaging documents, I thought I'd publish poetry excerpts from Perfect Me and Radar Love. Now I realize that I probably shouldn't, for legal and contractual reasons. Apparently this is a violation of Amazon TOS for the Kindle Select program. Doh!

Meh, it was a nice gesture. Enjoy the books.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

New Interview/Review

Author Rachael H. Dixon was nice enough to interview me on her blog. It's an interesting site, as she chronicled every day of her publishing adventure.

And I spotted this review of Zombie Killa hidden away as a spoiler on Goodreads:

 I started the book and almost gave up right then. Not only did it start slow-but then Shaun of the Dead did too-it also had a lot of jargon and big nerdy words that I couldn't get at all. And the first mention of Router wasn't all that, either. Then the book picked up its pace and proved me wrong. Zombies, Pirates, Ninjas, Nerds, Smart mouthed women..the story had everything! And it was exactly the right length. The humor was just my type and despite some (okay, many) references that I didn't get, I loved it! Zombie fans, you just can't miss this one!
Oh, I almost forgot "F**k, High-C!" 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Rolling With Disaster

I have a sick new game I like to play. It's called, "Well, at least things can't get any worse." When things get bad, say it. I guarantee they will get worse. I cannot help but say it every time.

So, I just had a big spamming ^H^H^H^H^H^H promotional weekend, and gave away around a thousand copies of Perfect Me and Hurricane Regina, two works that I am really anxious to have read by more people, both being modern day classics. ; )

At the same time, I asked the lovely folks on the Kindle author forum, which is this cute little link stuck in a page of tech support message boards, where the authors are safely sequestered from the readers and hence try to sell books to each other. Line.

Ah. I asked them to be brutal in regard to my covers and blurbs. Nice. I got some really good feedback, some of which I already implemented. Thanks, guys! I haven't been back lately, as I am still dealing with a formatting crisis...

Someone correctly pointed out that the Amazon previews show block formatting with no spaces between paragraphs, making it more than a little hard on the eyes. Sensible and seasoned computer user I am, I started disregarding previews a long time ago. None of them were very good, and the downloadable copies coming from Smashwords were beautiful.

Protip: Smashwords has a better import module than Amazon, apparently. So, my thousands of ebooks? Probably bad formatting. It's good to find out, regardless, and I did a quick fix on three of my most heavily downloaded titles, so far. But a disaster, nevertheless.

I'm sure there are tons of lessons to learn, here. I've been sending copies to reviewers from Smashwords files, or I would have found out sooner, I'm sure. I'm just glad I haven't gotten clobbered with bad reviews. I think I may get a few, but the writing will carry it for most people. Still, bloody bad form. Literally.

Meh, what do you want for free?

Formatting can be corrected. That's sort of the beauty of digital publishing. You can make mistakes in real-time. You can also correct them. If you're really sneaky, you blog about it and turn it into a positive. I don't think anything can kill a book dead but bad writing. 

Pageburner, Hurricane Regina, Radar Love, Zombie Killa, Perfect Me 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

I Love Writing

First of all, and I'd love some comments, where are the really kick-ass new writers of our time? Where, in this vast oceanic digital surge of flotsam, are the great stories, the great story-tellers?. Yes, I hear there's gold in sea water, too. But by all accounts, we should be hip-deep in great, enjoyable books that have an impact on us all. I don't see it.

There seems to be less of a shared experience ahead for readers, as they wander the thin end of the long tail looking for their stories and authors. Books used to be a somewhat collective experience. Solitary, but enjoyed with millions of others. A slice of shared history, holding you in common with complete strangers. That can't help but be lessened. Offset perhaps to a large degree by the social media experience that will surely enrich the readership of many, one hopes.

I love writing. I can read about it for hours...

If you're a musician, you may read about it to a degree, but mostly you practice. Even musicians practice writing. But where does their inspiration come from? Presumably from within, influenced by music they've enjoyed.

Writers are put in the unique position of requiring vast amounts of input, via reading and research, or experience. That's great, to a degree. My point is, it's easy to get caught up in the editorial side of the craft. It seems like everyone is selling an ebook about how to sell everyone an ebook. And I don't know about you, but I really don't need to workshop. Sorry if that sounds sort of snobby.

Unless you are a kick-ass writer, nothing will help you, in my eyes. Because I don't necessarily want to sell the most (lie!), I want to write the best novels out there. It's fun to read about, but what is there to know? $.99, $2.99. $4.99. Fiddle with prices if you want, but just keep your head down and build a respectable library. Most of all, learn to acquire patience.

Acquire readers as patients. Take them somewhere else, show them a new perspective. Bring them back a little happier, a little sadder. If you can achieve more than that? Wow.

Then get them addicted.

Give them more of what you want. It's your writing they're interested in, after all. Now, I appreciate you reading this, but, please, get back to writing or editing soon, okay?


Friday, March 2, 2012

Free eBooks This Weekend

My ebooks Perfect Me and Hurricane Regina are free all weekend...

Hurricane Regina is best compared to Clive Cussler and Robert A. Heinlein.

Perfect Me is my 'Douglas Adams' novella...

#free #kindle #indiepub #cussler #douglasadams