Thoughts on reviews

I know, today I'm more using the blog as a tool for procrastination rather than a tool to prevent it, but I was thinking about the LibraryThing reviews and how best to use them, and I think I'm going to create a "Reviews" section on this Web site. I'm also going to put a little disclaimer on there noting that these aren't paid reviews or written by my friends.

Also, so far they are quite positive, which I think is further evidence that the book is now positioned correctly. Interestingly there's a lot of "I liked the mystery aspect!" which actually works well with an idea I had for advertisements (which I do plan to do some day). I was wondering about using that to noodle with the Amazon categories, but I hesitate because it's not in any sense a traditional whodunit. (Maybe there's something like "futuristic suspense"?)

Goals and failure via Dean Wesley Smith

Dean Wesley Smith is starting a new series of posts titled "Goals and Dreams 2012," and I really like the two posts he's done so far. His first post is about how, yeah, you're gonna fail, but as long as you're making progress, don't sweat it. Writers tend to be perfectionists, which is a double-edged sword--I think on a certain level, a writer needs to be a detail-oriented perfectionist, otherwise you'll forget plots, have incoherent characters, and write long winding sentences that don't actually make any sense.

But you have to be wary of what are called in self-help/psychology circles the Three Ps: Perfectionism, Procrastination, Paralysis. If your perfectionism gets out of control, you'll put off actually producing anything for fear it won't be "perfect." If this continues unchecked, you won't ever do anything, because you might make a mistake.

I think the balance is achieved by just making sure you're moving forward--or just forward enough. To take the examples Smith uses: He had certain weight loss, fitness, and short-story writing goals that he didn't meet. He did, however, write a bunch of stories, exercise more, and lose some weight. By "failing" to meet his story-writing goal, Smith made $3,500 per year that he didn't have before, very much enjoyed himself, and proved to himself that he could crank out stories at high speed. I have no idea whether this applies to Smith or not, but with some people a small reduction in weight or small increase in fitness can have an outsized impact on their blood pressure and cholesterol levels. So the larger goals (more money, developing beneficial work habits, better health) are being reached even if the specific goals for 2011 were not.

The second blog post has some really nitty-gritty advice about making time to write. Possibly the most important bit is to discuss your new and exciting scheduling needs with your family and significant others at the very outset. I don't mean to insult your loved ones, but the world is full of people with some really stupid ideas about what writers do. I see this a lot particularly with younger writers--they hook up with some fine young thing who wants them because writers are all cool and arty and sexy and alcoholic, and then they don't get any support for their need to spend long hours cooped up by themselves with a computer (while not suffering from a debilitating hangover) like some nerd. It doesn't get any easier once you start making money--I have people in my family who have never understood that freelancing and being self-employed are not the same thing as being unemployed, and they have never understood that not being tied to a 9-to-5 schedule doesn't mean that a person doesn't have to spend most of their time working. (I'm not sure how they thought I was supporting myself all those years, although with that generation "a man" seems to be the go-to answer to any and all questions.)

Evaluating a business and an industry

Kristine Kathryn Rusch has a good post here about holiday sales--looks like people are using their new Kindles to pick up free copies of Jane Austen and Mark Twain (which is amusing, considering how Twain wanted to treat Austen's corpse). That's good news if you want people to read good books, but as she points out, if you're expecting some huge post-Christmas spike in your own sales, you may be disappointed.

Of course, whatever you're expecting, you may be disappointed, because no one really knows how e-book buyers will behave. It's a new industry--really, really new. What people will buy, when they will buy, how they will buy, how much they will pay...all a mystery. Nobody knows. The more certain you are about specific, short-term stuff, the more likely it is you'll be wrong.

I think that's fine. Obviously if you're counting on your e-book to save you from imminent fiscal collapse, you may not agree, but in all honesty, if you're counting on any book to save you from imminent fiscal collapse, you badly need to reassess your financial strategy. (No joke: If you want to get rich quick, lottery tickets are the better risk.) Dean Wesley Smith has a great blog post on how you're likely to make money writing--slowly, that's how.

That long-term perspective not only makes sense on the level of personal finance, it's a good one to take on the industry as a whole. I know I've said this many times before, but if you're selling a product for $6 or $3 or $1, and you're able to make a decent profit off of that, then you have a huge advantage over someone who is selling a similar product for $26 or $17 or $14, especially if they are locked into those high prices because of their costs.

Does this mean that the person charging a high price is going to go under right away, or ever? Not necessarily. There are plenty of ways to fill a high-priced niche--offer luxurious books, fancy authorial brand names, and exceptional service. A more germane question is: Does the low-cost provider need the high-cost provider to go under in order to thrive? No. If Bentley has a great year, that doesn't hurt Kia one bit. What we're in now is a genuine industry revolution that is opening up whole new markets for authors. That's great--but when new territory opens up, you can't expect it all to be neatly mapped out for you.


Tried again to get Google e-books to work. No dice, of course. I keep giving them sensitive financial information, and they keep acting like they never got it, which of course just gives me so much more confidence in them. (Seriously, if you are wondering why I never did these long, whiny posts about getting an account set up on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords, it's because it was super easy! I cannot for the life of me understand why Google is making this hard.)

I also started the large-print edition. I figured I could merge the old large-print layout with the new revised layout, but Word decided that I couldn't. Thanks again, Word--you're always there for me. So I am laying out the whole thing again--I'm reminding myself that it didn't take very long last time, but I didn't get a lot of sleep last night and am tired and (you guessed it!) cranky. So I think I'm just going to call it quits after one chapter--yes, I'm slacking; no, I don't care.

Summing up e-book production

So, if you missed it, Crabby McSlacker of Cranky Fitness fame (go read it, it's REALLY funny and has a lot of good advice) posted a question about self-publishing. I want her to publish her novel for the very selfish reason that I want to read it, so I was e-mailing her about how to produce e-books. Then I decided that what I had written wasn't a bad summary of the process, so I'm going to copy it here, with the regular disclaimer that the whole thing will probably be completely different six months from now:


Converting the file isn't hard, and all the software you need is available for free. The only thing is that it's a little misleading, because both Amazon and B&N act like you can upload a Word document, preview it in their previewer, and voila!--it will come out looking great.

I learned the hard way that that's bullshit--their converter sucks, and their preview tool sucks so you don't know how bad the conversion is. It turns out that this is not a big deal--I just have to convert to the file to ePub myself and upload it. Of course, I had no idea how to do that, or even that I had to do that, but eventually I figured it out, and it's actually not especially difficult (and I am not especially tech-savvy).

Right now my process for creating and uploading an e-book to Smashwords, B&N, and Amazon goes like this:

1. I take the Word file and I reformat it according to Smashwords' instructions. Basically this clears away any bad formatting that might cause problems with the conversion.
2. I upload the Word file to Smashwords (with the cover image inserted into the file). That's all you have to do with them.
3. I take that Word file, pull out the cover image and the Smashwords-specific language, and I convert it into HTML.
4. I take an HTML editor and I make a table of contents with anchor links to each chapter heading (this is to create a clickable table of contents, which is essential to navigating the book)
5. I use Calibre to convert the HMTL file into an ePub file that contains the cover image.
6. I open that file in Adobe Digital Editions to make sure it looks right.
7. I upload that ePub file to B&N.
8. I use Calibre to convert the HMTL file into an ePub file that contains no cover image.
9. I open that file in Adobe Digital Editions to make sure it looks right.
10. I upload that ePub file to Amazon, asking them to include the cover image.

Steps 8-10 are because Amazon seems to do a better job converting ePub to Mobi than Calibre does, but if I include the cover image myself, it winds up looking weird. I've used MobiPocket Creator to make my own Mobi files, but they don't look as good (and I haven't taken the trouble to figure out why).

Sorting out what I need to do

I'm having kind of a chaotic holiday season here, so although I'm trying to settle back into some kind of actual productive groove, it's a bit of a challenge.

Here are the things I need to do:

1. Process the feedback on Trust and make the appropriate revisions. Once that's done with, I can start actually getting it ready for release.

2. Update the large-print edition of Trang.

3. Write Trials.

And there's random annoying crap, like today I got the print copies of Trang to use for a Goodreads giveaway. So I went to look that up...and they'll only let you give away books that have been published in the last six months. (Seriously? Gee, thanks. I guess I'll figure out something else to do with those copies. I mean, I was hoping to give them away for free. But if you think your readers would rather not....) And Google e-books still has not figured out how it might pay me, because it is stupid.

Anyway, getting back to my to-do list...looking at it, I'm thinking I just need to let go of Trials for the moment. I kind of don't want to do that because I made a real start on it, but I've told people that Trust would be released in the spring, and by rights, I should have already updated the large-print edition of Trang. (I mean, yes, no one has bought it yet, but I would be really embarrassed if someone did and it was all riddled with errors--it really puts the lie to my dedication to accessibility if the large-print edition is crappy, doesn't it?)

Another advantage of working on the large-print edition is that, unlike revising Trust, it is the kind of project I can work on even when my time is all broken up, which it is right now. It shouldn't take too long to do, and hopefully by then things will settle down a bit, and then I can calmly focus on Trust.

And then tax time will be upon us. Oh my dear sweet Lord.

(P.S. I'm still giving out e-books to the LibraryThing people, but already there are five reviews up on LT. So those people work fast! And they seem to take reviewing very seriously--a lot of them told me they wanted a Smashwords coupon instead of a file because that way they could leave a review there.)

Wow, Google e-books is a mess

So, I'm trying to put Trang up on Google e-books. Holy crap, is that site not designed to make me feel any less cranky toward them--it's just the worst in terms of figuring out what the hell you need to do.

In order to get paid when people buy your book on any on-line retailer, you need to include information to identify you to the IRS as well as an account number where they can deposit the money. Everyone else makes this a really easy 1-2-3 process: Step 1, enter taxpayer ID. Step 2, enter account info. Step 3, you're ready to rock.

With Google, it's more like:


Um, gee, this isn't working. Where are the directions?

(dig around for several minutes until I find an appropriate help page)

Oh, yeah, right--that's step 3! I need to do step 1 and 2 before  I do step 3. Where's step 1?

(dig around for several more minutes)

Ah! Here's step 1! And step 2! Nowhere near step 3, or each other!

(do step 1. do step 2)

OK, it doesn't look like step 2 is working. Is it really not working, or is it just that one of those steps haven't gone through yet?

(dig around for several minutes more--because why would you ever put all the relevant information in the same place, or link it together in any way?)

Oh, crap--it's not 1-2-3! It's 1-2-3-4-5!


So, we shall see if I ever wind up on sale on Google, and if I do, if they'll ever pay me.

Smashwords has been around for, what, five minutes? It has a tiny fraction of the staff and resources Google has. B&N only began doing this a year ago. And both companies, along with Amazon, have an interface is about a thousand times easier to use and looks about a thousand times more professional than Google's. Seriously, if I had started out on Google, I would have given up self-publishing as a bad business.

One last cranky post

I do have some holiday cheer going on in my life--it's not all end-of-year closing-the-books aggravation--but I have to say something cranky here.

The friend who is all down on Amazon was like, I want to buy from Google e-books! And then I read an article (on how indie bookstores are doing great this holiday season, which shows you how evil Amazon has just eviscerated their business) that also mentioned Google e-books.

And I remembered that when I put Trang up on Google Books I looked at that program and found it confusing, so I didn't sign up. But, I thought to myself, it's been almost a year, maybe it's gotten better!

Well, you can find the royalty rates now, although they're not nearly as prominently advertised as they are on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords. And the reason for that is...can you guess? That's right--they suck!

They don't suck as badly as, say, traditional publishing, but they're offering roughly 50%, instead of the roughly 70% everyone else offers.

Wow, do I love indie bookstores so much that I'd be willing to give up 20% of my income?

That's easy: No.

I will probably hold my nose and list Trang on Google, but it will be more expensive. If it's so important to you to shop at Retail Outlet A instead of Retail Outlet B, then I guess it's worth it to you to pay extra. Just keep in mind that the extra money you pay will primarily go into the pocket of that charming little indie Google, Inc. Last year they booked a paltry $8.5 billion in profits on revenues of $19 billion, so clearly they need every dime.

You can tell that the weeping and wailing about indie bookstores has gotten on my nerves. I understand that e-books pose a major challenge--a much greater challenge than being underpriced. But if booksellers feel that the only way they can sell books is by screwing authors hard against the wall, there is a problem.

There are other options: Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch had this idea of creating book cards that could be sold in stores and redeemed for an e-book. They actually went ahead and made some for a convention. That, to me, is a productive solution. Whining about a company that treats writers relatively well while routinely doing business with companies that shamelessly exploit them is not. Boycotting authors is not. Pretending this is a zero-sum game is just stupid. What are you hoping for? That your suppliers will decide that they can't afford to supply you any more?

Writers need to get paid. Everyone else in the entire publishing and bookselling industry is able to make a living because writers are able to write. We don't live on air, people. (Well, I do, but for the vast majority of my adult life, I lived on what I earned by writing.) The whole attitude that writers should be poor permeates our culture, and it's so counter-productive to the creation of literature. If you only ever want to read bland commercial best-sellers that have been carefully homogenized to appeal to the widest possible audience, then you want writers to be poor, to get screwed, to see the profits of their work go to other people. If you want books that are quirky, or weird, or challenging, or interesting, or freaky, or bizarre, or God forbid even art, then you want writers to be able to make a living producing these odd little books.

And that is why I will charge more for my Google e-books edition, assuming I do one. And that is why I don't intend to make all my books free, even though I can afford to. It's not because I'm greedy and capitalistic and evil--it's because I'm tired of watching writers get screwed. And I'm beyond tired of watching people get up on their high horse and demand that writers get screwed. 

A pretty piece of propaganda

Like many people who work or have worked in journalism, I don't read the opinion page. Why not? Well, I've seen how these things get written, and my feeling is that if I'm looking for an uneducated, knee-jerk reaction from someone who has done absolutely no research in the subject, I can provide that on my own.

But I have friends who do, and one of them saw this piece on how Amazon is evil and got very upset. Of course it's in The New York Times, which lately appears to have decided that large corporations need more love--maybe the Occupy Wall Street protesters have been really getting on their nerves (or maybe they're based in New York City, and they all know people who are getting laid off from traditional publishers, which does in fact suck).

Anyway, the article has two points.

Point #1: Amazon is undercutting indie bookstores on price. This is presented in the article as a terrible thing.

It may be terrible, but it's something that has been going on for a long, long, loooooooong time. Barnes & Noble undercut indie bookstores on price. Borders undercut indie bookstores on price. Amazon has been around, undercutting indie bookstores on price, since 1994. If you were opening an independent bookstore any time in the past 30-odd years, and your business strategy was "I'll undercut 'em on price!" you went under right away.

Instead, you offered something else. Knowledgeable staff. A specialized selection. Delicious muffins. Comfy chairs. You made the experience worth paying a little extra for. You still can.

Point #2: Amazon was in a conflict over pricing with the big publishers, which it lost. The whole bit where Amazon lost this fight is kind of glossed over. The whole bit where Macmillan is a large corporation, not some poor little indie, is kind of glossed over. The whole bit where Macmillan is currently under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice and the European Union for price-fixing, undertaken in collusion with Apple and some other large publishing corporations, is not mentioned at all--even though that was the result of their winning this very conflict. Nor is there any mention of the fact that, hey, if Macmillan can fix prices, even legally, then that means it has monopoly pricing power, which makes it a bit harder to swallow that they are some poor helpless victim being steamrolled by big, mean Amazon.

I also have some points.

My Point #1: Independent bookstores face completely different challenges than large publishing corporations. Trying to muddle the two together is beyond silly. These are two completely different businesses. And large publishers don't exactly have a storied history of helping out small bookstores.

My Point #2: Where are the writers in this story? Oh, there are plenty of writers, if by writers you mean people who became best-sellers a few decades ago, long before Amazon took the lead in making self-publishing economically viable for writers.

But where are the mid-listers whose careers have undergone a massive renaissance? Where are the writers who suddenly have been able to make a good living, even though they're not really selling any better than they did back in their traditional publishing days? Where are the complete unknowns who have been launched into best-sellerdom after being rejected by countless publishers?

My Point #3: Where are the readers? Oh, you mean the consumers, who want a large and varied selection of goods at low prices. Well, fuck 'em.

And for fun, here are some laughably ironic lines!

"Movie studios have been subsumed by media empires. And when you try to have a conversation with the new Hollywood, it quickly becomes clear that you’re talking about movies and they’re talking about refrigerators." SO HAVE PUBLISHING COMPANIES, YOU IGNORANT FOOL!

"Maybe Amazon doesn’t care about the larger bookselling universe because it’s simply too big to care." Maybe Amazon is a bookseller itself. Maybe it doesn't "care" about its business rivals because THEY ARE ITS BUSINESS RIVALS!

Maybe a not-too-bright guy who has obviously done zero research and has no idea how capitalism actually works can be published in The New York Times, as long as he keeps it on the Op-Ed page.

The end of the year: Lessons learned

One thing that I think tends to keep people from trying new stuff is fear of making a mistake. This I think is especially pronounced when it comes to things that are allegedly outside of one's competence, and there tends to be this idea that normal learning experiences are proof positive that you cannot possibly ever manage the task. For example, if you are a woman who has been raised to believe that women cannot handle "man tasks" like fixing things around the house, the first time you try to do something and make a mistake, you say, "I knew I couldn't do it!" and never try again, as though a man doing it for the first time would do it perfectly.

So, I'm going to list what I've learned this year, as I've moved from being a former editor to being a one-woman publishing enterprise. It's been an education, and hopefully if you feel like you screwed up doing this or that, you will realize that it's not you--it's where you are on the learning curve. That said, these lessons apply to me--your mileage may vary.

Here we go:

  • Do the physical book first, and then the e-book. When you lay out a book, you notice all kinds of errors. Since I put up the e-books first, I had to repost them over and over again every time I fixed something in the paper book.
  • Hire a (real) copy editor. Mine made the book look much more polished as well as catching many tiny errors. You want one who actually works in the book industry, though.
  • Don't rely on Amazon's or Barnes & Noble's conversion process. It was really annoying to realize that their easy-to-use tools resulted in a hard-to-read book. Using Calibre made the books look much better.
  • E-books need to have a clickable table of contents and an interior cover. Readers expect them, and if you don't give them a clickable table of contents, you've made it all but impossible for them to navigate the book.
  • A line by itself on the top of a page is a widow. This is one of the drawbacks of having worked with professional book designers--I never saw these sorts of widows when I was proofing layouts! I sure put them in my book, though.
  • Make your margins narrow. This makes a book MUCH easier to lay out, and it results in a shorter and therefore less-expensive product.
  • Put some space between your headers and your main text. This is something the copy editor suggested, and it makes a big difference. If the header is crowded down over the text, it looks heavy and amateurish (like a report, not a book).
  • Spread out production tasks to avoid burnout. I find production pretty exhausting, and because I put the e-book up (without a cover, even!) and then scrambled to complete the production side, certain things got short shrift. And then I had to go back and re-do them again and again, so it was many times the work.
  • Cats and children hamper production. But I like them anyway.
  • If you can't write, figure out something else to do. I was having a hard time figuring out how to revise Trust (there was other stuff going on, but I think a major issue was that I needed to get some feedback on that book first), so I didn't do anything. I definitely could have worked on other things in that time.
  • Writing groups can be very useful, but can also be a major time sink. I'm going to start going back to the one I was going to earlier, but I'm going to go less frequently than I was before.
  • Many more things are possible now than were before. I need to forget all the stuff I learned about what is doable and what is not.

Here's to a more efficient and productive 2012! (God, do I sound like North Korean propaganda or what?)

The end of the year: Counting costs

I'm going to have to do this for my accountant anyway, so I figured I'd present the amount I've spent on book production for all of 2011. For your edification and enjoyment (especially if you're prone to schadenfreude):


Spent on creating

 $67.50 for 5 yrs....Cost of domain name

$226.79 for 2 yrs.....Cost of Web host *



Spent on copy editing Trang:



Spent on creating e-books:



Spent on creating hard copies:

$355.00.....Purchase Adobe Acrobat

 $46.73.....Purchase proofs of Trang (I wound up revising it four times)

 $16.24.....Purchase large-print Trang proof

 $78.00....Fee for improved price/distribution (both editions)



Spent on marketing:

$100.00....Advertisement at sci-fi convention

 $22.51....Copies to give reviewers


 $66.91....Copies for GoodReads giveaway


GRAND TOTAL: $1,308.68


Obviously getting the book copy edited and revising it added to the cost, but I think that was worth it. I also think it was worth it to send hard copies to reviewers, but the advertisement did nothing for me, and it seems to me that I get a lot more bang for the buck by doing a Library Thing giveaway than by paying BookRooster (I haven't done the GoodReads giveaway yet--postage will be added to that cost--so I don't know how that will shake out).

* Edited March 30, 2012, to reflect rate change.

Michael Chabon just got ripped off

Holy crap. Look at this. Michael Chabon (who I think is an EXCELLENT writer, which is why this upsets the hell out of me) just signed an agreement with these jackholes to e-publish his books. His is giving them FIFTY PERCENT (yes, HALF) of his royalties for Open Road to convert his files and put them online. I am not kidding. He is giving them half of his future income off these books to do what Book Baby will do for $99, plus a $19 annual fee. (Somehow I think the electronic editions of his books will pull in more than $40 annually.)

Do you think I'm exaggerating?

Is he paying for distribution? No, he's going to be distributed on Amazon and Barnes & Noble just like everybody else.

Is he paying for marketing? Um, guys, he's Michael Fucking Chabon. He won a Pulitzer and at least two of his books have been turned into motion pictures. The only marketing going on is making sure his name isn't misspelled on the cover.

Does he realize he's being ripped off? No. Not even a little bit. In fact, Chabon describes the terms as "extremely fair and generous," and indeed they are compared to what his traditional publishers offer him. If you're used to being hit with a baseball bat, you're thrilled when someone tells you that from now on, they'll use their bare hands.*

What this reminds me of more than anything else is the scene in The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay where Klayman (who is very poor and from a poor part of town) decides that, if he gets enough money to buy a bagel and lox for breakfast every morning, he will be happy--of course, he's selling off a property that makes some less-naive people very rich indeed.

I'm going to go cry now.


*I know people object when intemperate comparisons are made between established writers and slaves, battered spouses, or people with serious mental disabilities. But come on.

Dear Miss Manners....

Yeah, it's a brand new world, and I have no idea what the etiquette is.

My conundrum: The e-mails back from the Library Thing people have slowed to a at what point do I start assuming that the addresses for those who haven't replied aren't good and trying to reach people through their profiles? Will it be nagging if I do it now? If I wait a few more days, will I start getting nasty notes about how I didn't fulfill my giveaway? Does the fact that it's holiday season alter the math at all? Show your work.

Some decisions get made for you

I've been hemming and hawing over doing a Goodreads giveaway--you have to do paper books for them, so that's a lot more expensive than Library Thing, where it's e-books that cost nothing. But my sister asked for a copy of the new edition, and of course it's much cheaper for me to buy it, and so then when I was ordering that copy I realized that shipping is actually really cheap on multiple copies. So I got ten, and I'll give away eight or nine on Goodreads. Might as well.

A cool new world!

This is a post by Michael Stackpole on the Passive Voice--I'm linking to the PV version so you can read the comments. He (and others) are remarking that they write so much more now that they don't have to run the gauntlet of traditional publishing. I find it really delightful to read things by authors who were previously traditionally published but who now self-publish--they seem to be enjoying themselves so much more.

Writing is a lonely business, and you're often dealing with no feedback or really weird feedback or feedback that you just can't trust. And that can really take the stuffing out of you--if you're basically being punished every time you write, you'll stop writing, even if you once found it gratifying.

Remove the punishment, and things change. That, I think, is the point behind things like Dean Wesley Smith's story challenge--the enjoyment he takes in writing a story, putting a cover on it, and distributing it is just palpable. He's so happy to be making them--it's the joy of creation. He's not writing a story in exchange for being pissed on and having his story never see the light of day--he's making something real. The barriers are gone, and he's free to run!

I went through this opening of possibilities in a small way recently when I was talking to some friends I hadn't seen in while. I used to work with this one woman who was crazy and horrible, but in a way that I knew would become funny once I had some distance on it (unlike the sexual compulsive I used to work with, who remains terrifying and pathetic--we worked with children, I cannot emphasize that enough, and to the best of my knowledge, she still does). I used to regale these friends with tales of the (first) crazy woman, and they would laugh and laugh, which was actually pretty frustrating at the time because she was driving me insane.

Anyway, they really, really want me to put her in a book (and indeed, the only way I could cope with her was to view her as material and take notes). She is the basis for the villain in my planned fantasy novel, but I also vented my (at the time) considerable ire by outlining a comic novel with her as the protagonist. Once I quit that job and calmed down a bit, I decided against writing the book because I didn't think there was enough material for a full-length novel, and novellas were a hard sell. I also knew that comic novels were a hard sell too, so a comic novella was just a non-starter.

I was telling my friends that--and you know how sometimes the penny doesn't drop until you say something out loud? My conversation went something like, "I didn't think there was really enough there for a novel, just a novella.... Buuuut nowadays, with self-publishing, novellas and short stories are having a real renaissance, because people like having something quick to read on their phone while they're waiting for the dentist. So they do quite well."

And, hey! That book is back on the table! I think the original outline vanished last year when I got a computer virus, but I can reconstruct it. I may or may not actually go through with it--sometimes past trauma is best left in the past--but it's possible. It has moved from the realm of the impossible to the realm of, I could do that!

It's not just writers benefiting: I leave you with a story in the New York Times that is both heartening and infuriating. It's about how comedian Louis C. K. is selling videos of his shows directly to viewers for $5 a pop. It's just like self-publishing: He's making lots of money and has control, so he loves it; his fans don't pay much and it's convenient, so they love it. So of course a major theme of the article is how those poor, poor cable companies are being cut out of the revenue stream! (Sniff!) Forget that: 1. They aren't actually providing him with a service at this point, so why is he supposed to pay them? 2. He made no money off his cable specials, so it sounds like they got their pound of flesh already. 3. He hasn't been coasting off cable specials, he tours a lot and I'm sure does other marketing on his own. 4. Cable providers typically also provide Internet service, so if he's selling over the Internet, then they are, in fact, profiting off his efforts.

Remember: It's good when corporations make money. It's bad when artists make money. Or that's what certain corporations would have you believe....

So global....

Today I mostly did end-of-year non-book-related things, but I also sent out numerous copies of Trust to numerous Library Thing people. It's really a global bunch, which is kind of neat. I know there are various barriers to selling e-books globally, but it's clearly easier than it once was--at least people can find out about you!

And a couple have said that they wanted the book specifically because it is '60s style social sci-fi, which makes me think I made the right call with the series covers.

Giving, giving, giving

I had some family stuff early in the day, and the rest of the time was spent sending copies of Trang to the Library Thing people. Some people have some pretty fun e-mail addresses--it amuses me when the person's name indicates that they are one gender and the e-mail address indicates the opposite gender. I also had someone whose e-mail was something along the lines of, but their messages were extremely polite. I wonder if that means I'll be getting deranged hate mail from

Give it away, now

The Library Thing giveaway ended today, so now I have to, you know, actually give away the copies. There are about 125 people wanting one. The site basically just gives you a list of names, so I had to e-mail everyone to see what format they want. (I could try contacting them through Library Thing, but I figured that since I'll need valid e-mail addresses to send the e-books to, I might as well test them now.) My e-mail is really not set up for doing mass e-mails--I may have to upgrade in the future, we shall see.

I also updated Calibre and made a new Mobi file, but it's still not consistently justified on the left. Le sigh. Hopefully it will do for those who want Mobi.