Tag Archives: writing

Something Horrible

So i found out a really awful thing. My first book, Polo Shawcross: The Birthday Dragon (Book 1 of the Dragon Quartet), has been out since 2011. Since then it’s sat happily on the top of the Top Rated Sci Fi and Fantasy lists in its categories. By end of January it was TOP of entire site. Yep, non-fiction/fiction, any length. Highest rated Free book.

One of the others got a 4 star review, which was disappointing, but i just got on with life.

But something happened to Book 1. Someone gave it a 4 star review in February. Oh well, i thought, has to happen sometimes. And some people don’t ever give 5 star reviews. I’m never going to please everyone. I was a bit upset, but managed to tell myself a few platitudes like those above and get over it.

I kept promoting my books on Twitter, and did notice my only sales and most of my downloads were when i did so. No Smashwords traffic to speak of.

That’s when i noticed something. Something horrible. Book 1 had disappeared from the Top Rated listings. Just gone. I looked and looked, and was about to contact Smashwords to ask what had happened, when i found it. On Page 22 of the Top Rated listings, where literally nobody would ever see it.

I also realised there were others like me. 14 or more 5 star reviews, but one 4 star – and suddenly we were rated lower than anyone with only ONE 1-star review. I contacted Smashwords, politely. Yes, they said, they were aware of the issue, but they had no plans to do anything about it, other than ‘We’re working on a way to make it more fair. However, unfortunately there’s no date on when it will be implemented.

Meanwhile, as i said to Smashwords, my entire marketing plan – based on my books being high rated and 1’s across the site, just got harpooned. Fortunately, the two most recently released were charting on the Bestseller lists but only on the front page if you narrowed the field (by selecting a length or division of the genre like Fiction » Science fiction » General, Fiction » Fantasy » General). Most people don’t get that far.

The first two (free so not on the “best seller” lists) were coming up the Most Downloads charts, but thanks to not showing on the Highest Rated charts, they were not getting the same exposure and dropped off the first two pages of those (again, unless you narrow the field to over 100k, Free).

I was miffed over the 4 star reviews, but then i thought about it. There are people there with many more 5 star reviews than me, and thanks to one 4-star review they’re also suddenly invisible. So i wrote again to Smashwords, and the CEO got back to me – yep, Mark Coker at Smashwords. He knows it’s a problem, along with the gaming of reviews (aka ‘fake reviews’).

Basically, it’s unfair that books with more than one 5-star review are behind books with only one. Sure, if i have fourteen 5 stars, you do too, we’re equal, until i get rated lower, that one 4-star? I get to be behind you in the listings, fair enough. But not if i have 20 5-star ones. Especially not if you only have one 5-star review and i have 20.

It’s also too easy to mess up a rival author’s ratings. During my investigations of some of the authors who should be on the front page (with 20+ 5-star reviews and 1 4-star one) it was one reviewer who’d knocked them off the front page. As reviewers are anonymous, it’s a system made to be corrupted. Especially when the one reviewer is possibly not a reviewer, but an author out to make themselves number 1.

There are signs of this on several of the books that are only being held off the top spots by one bad review. Or two of their books knocked down by the same ‘reviewer’.

I’ve written before about fake reviews on Smashwords, and how Smashwords (when alerted, and after their own investigations, which admittedly can take OVER a year) removed sometimes a hundred of them from authors who proved to be faking their glowing 5 star reviews.

I won’t be number 1 if they change this, by the way – there are several books ahead of mine (currently showing on page 33 of highest rated Sci fi) which will take over the 1 spot. Which i’ll be fine with, because it’s FAIR.

Anyway, currently waiting for action from Smashwords – which won’t be in 2018 but is on their list of Things We Want To Change. So if you think it should be changed, and SOON – vote in the poll, leave a comment, and i’ll make sure Mark Coker gets to hear about it. Smashwords, like all good companies, has excellent communication between the people on the front lines and the boss.

See what i did there? Yep, deliberately being nice, after a bunch of critique. Why? Because deep down, i love Smashwords, i love what they’re trying to do, i love that i get to play publisher without massive personal investment.

I don’t think the review system works – but the rest of the site is  getting better all the time.

My books are available on Smashwords (see below for individual links)  

Polo Shawcross: The Birthday Dragon is 34 on the Most Downloaded Free Epic General Sci Fi (not bad seeing it’s only been free for less than 6 months and there’s books that have been free for 8 or more years in the listings). #38 on the matching Fantasy list.

It would be top of the Highest Rated (aside from the others above me with more 5-star reviews) except for that one 4-star review. It makes it to 18 if i narrow the field to just free epic general sci fi – just a reminder, before that one 4 star review, it was top rated free book on the whole site, all genres.

Mind you, there’s a writer there with 34 reviews, 32 of them 5 star ones, then someone decided to harpoon them, and the last two reviews were 4 star, knocking them even lower down the listings than me. (The more 4 star reviews you get, no matter how many 5 star ones you have, the worse your score gets – yep, that’s REALLY unfair.)

The others are suffering from similar problems – without the good reviews giving them front page exposure, they’re simply invisible. So i have to keep pushing my books here and on Twitter.

Seriously, this is not how i thought being a writer would be.

So – *drumroll*

For your reading delectation – rollicking sexy adventures, laugh-out-loud funny right to the end, and more schemers than you’ve seen since the last ep of Game of Thrones…

Book 1 – Polo Shawcross: The Birthday Dragon (free since December 2017)

Introducing  Polo Shawcross, the wannabe Dragon and stoner, the man to whom omnisexual isn’t just a label. And what did he get up to in the vegetable garden with that diplomat’s wife? Polo just wants a quiet life, one with wild women, some men, good weed and food. Something interesting to read. His family however have other ideas, and keep trying to kill him. Genetic engineering was always going to be flawed when you started with humans.

Book 2 – Polo Shawcross: Dragon Soldier (free: released in December 2017)

After a drunken binge across a kingdom or two, Polo is in trouble. With a capital A that stands for Army. Weed will keep him sane, but staying alive is trickier. He can save himself, he just has to remember, he’s Dragon, deep down. Dragon were made for fighting. He’ll be fine. Won’t he?

Book 3 – Polo Shawcross: Dragon Skin ($2.99 released Dec 2017)

Still alive! Free! Polo gets his perfect life back. Although there’s that king with the crush and the queen who’s off limits. Polo’s trying out diplomacy as a career path, failing to keep secrets or his trousers on, and his family are still trying to kill him. Finally finding the way to change shape is the key to survival.

Book 4 – Polo Shawcross: Dragon Outlaw ($2.99 released Dec 2017)

Polo can escape, but he’ll lose his perfect life as one of the privileged few close to the King. Choices, choices. And despite finally figuring out the shape-changing, he can’t get the people part of life right. People are Dragon and human, and Dragon were made from humans, and that was always going to be a bad idea. Kill or be killed, the law of the jungle comes out of the warzone and to Court. Polo surrenders. Last book in this series, but gives the kick-off for the new Polo Shawcross books to come.

Oh – and the best joke of all? I’ve issued DCMA takedown notices to about 15 people in the last 2 months – yep, people pirating my work and selling it – or giving it away for ‘site dollars’ on various ‘let’s pretend we’re not pirating but we are’ sites. (I found them via Blasty – every writer should belong – and if you’ve made some money, you can invest in their premium version to do the DCMA Takedown notices for you.)

The joke is (and it’s on me), if the people too cheap to spend $2.99 on a book – or those too lazy to realise that the guy getting site dollars for providing my books ‘free’ was simply downloading already free books – had all gone to Smashwords (or Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo, etc – everywhere except Amazon), i’d be top of all the sales and download charts. Some of my books are free, but they ARE NOT Creative Commons – nobody except Smashwords and affiliates are allowed to distribute them.

The pirates boasted of 100’s of downloads. Hundreds. I haven’t sold that many in 5 months. I did get that many downloads over the period, but the lost revenue and lost downloads in the first few months of publication can never be recovered. The guy getting site dollars literally put my books up for free download from his site within a week of publication.

However, it’s part of the internet. And even big authors with loads of DRM protection on their books are getting pirated. I know because i saw their books on the same sites that were pirating mine.

So of course, being a good net citizen and a fellow-writer, i made sure i contacted at least one or two major authors (or their publishers) whose work was being illegally sold/given away. I figured even if the pirates didn’t give a shit about me, someone like Simon & Schuster would make them sit up and pay attention. It worked. Those who didn’t immediately remove my books did so once i put the big guys on them.

copyright 2018 https://stinginthetail.wordpress.com

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Excellence

I haz it. As i look down from the smuggery after finally finishing and publishing the Dragon Quartet…. oh – heh – oops.

Forgot to tell you.

Nah, marketing STILL isn’t my strongest suit. Plus i joined Patreon, and immediately (literally in the last hour before i was going to launch) they changed the pricing structure.

So $1 wasn’t a good bottom tier for patrons. Cost too much cos fees. Yep, so i’m like, okay, change pricing, move all tiers up, change rewards, done, and lowest price Rewards? $2. In Australia it ended up over $3 so i figured that was a reasonable monthly sub.

So i launched, got a patron. Yes, it’s Mr Whatsit, but you can’t say i don’t listen to fans. I have to. He might be permanently plugged into Netflix at the moment, but he has to run out of Red Vs Blue episodes eventually and then he’s going to start making demands. I’ve already had to get him to cancel his first subscription.

Yeah, Patreon changed the fee system back. So now i have no idea what cut i get of monthly subs, and i had to change all my Reward levels around again. Then Mr had to resubscribe at $1. If they change it again, i reckon maybe a PayPal link would be less traumatic.

So, about my Patreon. Not as good as it sounds – or perhaps it is. It means i’m asking you to crowdfund me. Instead of a once-off, it’s monthly. Whoa. Before you rush off, let me wheedle you a little.

So, i write books. You read books. If you don’t i probably don’t have something you’re going to be into – on the other hand, maybe you should start? It’s easy.

The first two books are free – yes, the second pair are $2.99 each. However. Of course there’s a however.

However – if you join my patrons on my Patreon there’s a Reward. You get the two books that aren’t free, free. Well, for you promising $1 a month.

Promise more than $1, you get other Rewards, starting with asking me questions (i was thinking this would be ‘about writing’ questions, but now i’m worried. I did put in a clause about me having right of refusal). There are acknowledgements in future books, appearing in my books, and poetry. Yes, darn fine poetry. Though i do not guarantee rhyme.

If you already like my writing and are thinking sure, i can spare a buck, before you change your mind here’s the link to me on Patreon. If you’d rather type it in, it’s https://patreon.com/lee_abrey

So, not into being patronising? C’mon, you know you want to. You need enticing. Well, perhaps calming down? The poetry is higher level stuff, you’re not going to get it for a buck. You’re quite safe.

What’s it all about? I want people who enjoy my work to get more involved. You see, i have a problem.

I’m trying to remember to blog here, to go on Twitter, rant a little, create when i have a spare minute. (Currently involves looking through old work to see which version warrants re-writing, edit that writing, and give Jules her head. She’s fun. If you like Polo, i think you’ll like Jules.)

Important task – I have to self-publish the paper books, because to all the people who said ‘i’d buy it if it was paper, i prefer paper books” – then i can say good, here’s the link. (i don’t have a link yet, but if you sponsored me, i COULD HAVE.)

Any spare money goes first there. Which leaves me with a problem. I can’t afford advertising. And printing the books is going to take about $1,000 to set up. Yeah – it’s not good.

Without your help, i can’t make the first steps to get my work out to more readers. It’s that simple. I’m trying to get funding to first do some advertising, second get the books ready for print instead of just ebooks. Meanwhile, i’m working on the next book, because i know you’re fickle. More words required.

Plus, as you know (if you’ve read back a bit) i’m disabled. So i simply don’t have the strength to work at anything approaching full speed any more. I need to cut the time it takes both to get income faster to pay for advertising and format options that should get the books really selling, along with raising awareness of my work to raise sales.

So think about it. You could help me break free with just $1 a month.

PatreonHeader2_2 smlr

Something to read, in the meantime? Yes, two full length books. Free.

No catch. It’s because it took so long, i ended up with 4 books. Book 2 starts with what was the end of Book 1 (which is still over 100k). Wouldn’t be fair to charge people for something they’d recognise as already having paid for. If they read The Birthday Dragon before, it was $5.99 – a fair price back in 2011. Ebook prices have dropped, especially unknown writers. Yeah, I’m unknown – i used to be notorious, but it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

So, the Dragon Quartet Series page is here

links to the free books:

If you’d rather start with Book 1….

Free Download of Polo Shawcross: The Birthday Dragon
Polo Shawcross wishes for a new life. The Birthday Dragon brings a ghost who says he’s not one, a best friend who thinks he’s gay, relations who want him dead, and a very bad reputation. Twisted adventure in a vivid new world where genesplicing accidentally creates real magic and Men (or Women) might be Dragon.

Free Download of Polo Shawcross: Dragon Soldier
Polo is still getting into trouble, still in danger from his crazy family trying to kill him, or worse, be his parents again. The Crown Prince is still in love with him, and Polo’s reputation is shocking. There’s even a book out about his sexual adventures. One thing he knows, the army’s not for him. So becoming a soldier is a shock. Surviving the Army of the North won’t be easy, especially when he ends up in the stockade before basic training.

Links to the newest books ($2.99 each or free if you join my Patreon)
You can also read 20% of the books below for free, to see if you want more:

Polo Shawcross: Dragon Skin
Polo Shawcross comes back from war both notorious and a hero, ready for bad women, good food, and a lot of sleep. His enemies have other plans, as do his friends. Soon he’s fighting for his life and for parts of his body someone wants as a souvenir.
Can Polo learn to shape-change in time?

Polo Shawcross: Dragon Outlaw
The notorious Polo Shawcross is desperate for a quiet life, but his family are still out to kill him. Back at Court in Sendren, Polo isn’t the man you want to leave alone with the queen, but the king still loves him. On the bright side, he’s out of the army. Polo’s sure he won’t fight again, but the war’s coming to Sendren. Is changing shape enough?
Can Polo survive?

copyright 2017 https://stinginthetail.wordpress.com


Ending the Beginning…

At last, i’m putting the quartet up on Smashwords. Can’t quite believe it. The covers are done, edits are done, i’m just doing blurbs and making sure they upload okay.

They came out pretty….

The Birthday Dragon‘s been out for years, that’s going to be free, once the new version is okayed. As the first quarter of Dragon Soldier used to be in the previous book, it’s free too.

Books 3 and 4 are not free. Like Books 1 and 2 they’re over 100,000 words. I’m thinking $2.99 each.

I’ve been putting final touches on my Smashwords pages, adding a interview. I came to do this blog and realised “i’ve forgotten everything i ever learned about HTML” which was a nice match for when i started doing the covers and realised i’d forgotten everything i ever knew about Photoshop.

So i uploaded the new version of Polo Shawcross: The Birthday Dragon and waited for it to be okayed. Found a mistake in the stuff beyond the ending. Re-uploaded. Found something else, re-re-uploaded. And thankful it was finally okay, so i started work on the blurbs for the other books.

Every time i checked back, the book wasn’t okayed yet. Smashwords never takes long, so i began to wonder if i’d jammed something up, re-re-uploading. It was never a problem before. And i waited.

While i waited, I started a Patreon page. This is a rather nice notion that artists find patrons who sling them a few dollars a month, every month, and the artist (that’s me) in exchange gives them access to unpublished stuff or first drafts, perhaps completely never-to-be-published stories.

Anything that helps my income is worth a go. (It’s not quite up yet, i’m still getting it sorted out.)

I checked Smashwords. Something occurred to me. It was Thanksgiving in the USA when i did the first upload. Bugger. By the end of the week it was Black Friday. I’d literally picked one of the worst weeks in the US year to upload the books.

Double bugger. And then i realised. Now i’ve begun my Patreon page, i’ll have to change the books again to include the Patreon link.

I do believe the word i’m looking for is “AAAARRRRRRGGGGGHHHHH”.

copyright 2017 https://stinginthetail.wordpress.com

 

 

 

 


To Insanity and Beyond

I’m getting there – with there in this case being defined as ‘losing my mind’ or ‘ready for publication’ – Books 1-4 paper edits all done. The edits get transcribed (sounds like someone else is going to, but nah, it’s just me), then i print out paper copy for the Delta Reader (he’s ahead of the Beta Readers, and Alpha is ‘book as published’, so Delta he is) who gets to read it and give the nod.

The nod will lead to uploads and a divergence – as paper publication will have accents and squiggly bits – like in the words façade, fiancée and déjà vu. You can’t leave squiggles and accents in ebooks because ereaders have hysterics over them. Ampersands (&) likewise.

So i will be running versions for publication (paper) and on for ebook. Then i can publish, once they’re ready. I think. Have i forgotten something? Oh fk, the covers. And covers is the operative word. 4 different ebooks, and then 4 DIFFERENT covers for 4 paper books. Argh is the word i’m looking for.

I just keep telling myself, it’s going to be ok, i can do this. Though i’m not at all sure. Which reminds me, i haven’t figured out pricing yet (for either version). I said Argh in the last para, so let’s add an Aiee! Cos it’s all doing my head in.

The sound you can hear is just me gibbering. Does anyone have a spare strait-jacket?

copyright 2017 https://stinginthetail.wordpress.com

 


Damn Blog, W8-BEN news…

Why doesn’t it look after itself? I’m frazzled, trying to edit #TheThing (up to end of Book 1, only 3 more to go), keep up on Twitter (dropping in a few days a week to shout at the world) and keep myself fed/exercised. No, that’s not a pony-ness allusion – the pony thing had to go by the wayside, because i found a loophole. Possibly a pony-hole?

Anyhoo, I talked to the Australian Tax Office – who as i’ve said before are nice people and you shouldn’t be afraid to call them and say um, i haven’t paid tax for some time. Because if you do turn yourself in, they’ll be nice back to you. A friend did pretty much that, and even got a refund for several years.

I found out the dude who told me not to give my Tax File Number (aka in US-tax-speak as TIN) to ANYONE was being a trifle over-protective. And also, i found a page on Smashwords (if you’re not logged in to Smashwords AND have an Author account there, that link won’t be much use) where the W8-BEN form is basically filled in, i just had to add my TFN. (And then i went back, found it was showing as incorrect. I filled it in again, this time adding on Line 10 that i was a non-US resident and a citizen of another country where i was resident, and it seems to have gone through. Here’s hoping.)

So, if like me you’d despaired of ever figuring out the horrifying web of overseas tax forms (and what to do about a 40% tax rate on 60% of a $2.99 book!) then despair no more. Or even despayah no moah! Sorry, felt the need to do a US accent for that, and like most people, my view of the USA is rather coloured by Southern reality TV shows.

I did visit the US once – across Wisconsin (the Oshkosh Fly In) and Minnesota, down the New Jersey Turnpike, and into the Bronx. And a little bit of Pennsylvania. If you’re reading this from Frenchman’s Creek or Phoenixville – omg, i’ve been there!

And then i burned the chickpeas! No, not during my visit to the US, many years ago, but right here in real life. *sigh* Was trying to save money by soaking overnight then cooking from scratch, and did something i haven’t done for literally years. Let the pot boil dry while distracted by the internet.

I forgot to mention in the last post, where i was distracted by something else (possibly also food-related), that the first two ebooks will be free, (to say thanks to the people who bought the original Book 1, The Birthday Dragon, as they’ll get more of the story they’ve been waiting 6 years for *blushes*).

The second two won’t be free. I need to get a little income so i can print some copies, for myself to proof and to give away in competitions.

A maybe is an omnibus edition (ebook only at this point) of the 4 books in one download. That will cost, but again, i’ll be doing competitions come the time.

Of course, i went back on Smashwords to see how my book was going (number 4 on Fantasy books over 100k, 9 on any length Fantasy, No 7  on Sci Fi Any length, No2 over 100k).

There was someone who seemed to be doing very well. Lots of laudatory reviews. And then i realised the same people were reviewing the author’s (and only the author’s) books. Yeah, another author giving in to fake review syndrome. Very organised, give them that. 140 or so different reviewers, carefully cycling through all the books and giving good reviews. I looked at samples of the books, and they were so bad I wondered how the writer could be so deluded. But then delusion is apparently what creative wannabe’s do very well. (No, we’re not going to talk about my ex’s. Though that could be a cue.)

Still waiting for Smashwords to do something (i did give them enough evidence to act) but the last time they literally took nearly 18 months, so i’m not holding my breath. Does show though – if you just rely on Smashwords, you don’t get any sales (and you may be driven to make a few of your own). Well, you may get some if you shout real loud on Twitter. That’s my plan.

Once again, a warning. Always read a bit of the book first, before purchase. Because good reviews might mean the Writer is quite good at juggling Fake Reviewers on a spreadsheet. Yeah i know, i have quite a few good reviews. Mine are all legit and the writers can be found on Twitter or elsewhere, having lives. None are even from family, because my family doesn’t support my writing at all. (And no, that’s not a cue for a piece on the perfidy of families. Though i admit, it sounds like one.)

However, i might be lying. So what will you do? Yep, when i release the books, you can look at the first 20% and decide whether to buy or download.

Meanwhile, i have a pot to scrub. And chickpeas to soak. And yeah, 3 books where i need to get on with the paper edits.

copyright 2017 https://stinginthetail.wordpress.com

 

 


The Best Things in Life

The next bit of that quote is “are free”. Which is where i’m about to head with my books. That’s right  – the ebooks will be free. Not yet, so don’t go buying one. I don’t get the money anyway. I put a stop on any payments while i got myself sorted out, and (as i explained in the last blog) there’s never been enough sales to warrant taking the stop off.

[EDIT So much has changed since i wrote this, that as of 28 May 2017 i’m doing a whole new blog post which will be pretty much contradicting everything below. So yeah, everything below this point is possibly no longer current. I’m not even sure i’ll try crowdfunding. The e-reader stuff is useful and current.]

So, the ebooks will be free. I’m tired of struggling with online US-based publishing, and with trying to explain  my tax situation to the US tax office at a distance of tens of thousands of miles. Every time i’ve figured out which form to send in, they change the rules! All for the sake of literally cents.

Most of all, i’m going nuts with my books not being read. Book 1 came out in 2011. It’s been SIX years.

So when i finish this edit (of three books into four) the quartet will go up on Smashwords. EDIT After some thought, the first 2 will go up – the other two will be available (with 1 & 2) as free ebook gifts for people who support the crowdfunding.

For all my frustration with e-publishing, I do like having my Smashwords books available in any format, not just for Kindle. You may not be aware, but Amazon’s MOBI format is exclusive to them. Most other e-readers use EPUB format.

Amazon (& other formats) also lock the book (via Digital Rights Management or DRM) so you can’t move the book you own from your ereader to your laptop. I’ve always been against that so Smashwords suits me. I  like people to be able to read my book when they want, on whatever platform they want. If you accidentally delete a book from Smashwords, you can just go back to the site and re-download it.

If you don’t have a Kindle or other e-reader, you can download various free e-readers for smartphones, tablets, desktops or laptops. Kindle’s one is good (and free) available here.

If you’d rather go with a non-Amazon reader (Kindle can’t read anything except Amazon MOBI format books, and it’s better on very small screens because of its display limitations), there are more. I have a desktop and have used the Kindle one, but i tried others, as i have to make sure my books look okay whatever format they’re in.

Here’s an article on TechRadar explaining the current top free e-readers and with links to get them. They also have a link to a converter for when your e-reader can’t deal with a downloaded file type. There are a lots of free books online. Many, admittedly, are free for a reason. But there are gems – Project Gutenberg, for free e-books now out of copyright, is fantastic. There is now an Australian Gutenberg, for books pre-1955 – scroll down that page for links to wonderful Australian publications.

However, for me, giving away the e-books is a taster (EDIT and a reward) for raising money via crowdfunding. Many e-reader users still love books and will buy a paper book, and those who won’t buy e-books will buy paper.

So many would-be readers have asked me over the years, when is the print version coming out? When i said so far it wasn’t, they explained they don’t like reading anything long off a screen. Two of my sisters haven’t read Book 1 (they even got it free!) for just that reason.

So that’s where i’m at. Doing a quick edit to check balance, arc, strange spelling mistakes that have crept in, then it’s a quick paper edit. (Well, as quick as paper can be. Because once you’ve red pencilled your way through all that paper, you then have to transfer the edits into the computer.)

During that time, i have to sort out the crowdfunding page. I haven’t decided which site to use, other than having learned from my mistakes, i will be using an Aussie-friendly one. I’ll also be figuring out my legal standing on crowdfunding as income, who it needs to be declared to and how soon, because i want to make sure i don’t do anything wrong as far as the Authorities are concerned. (EDIT making progress, but omigod it’s so complicated! Not the crowdfunding, but how i have to organise everything before i go live)

Not much work, lol. And Mr Whatsit will be in hospital soon, then out with a 6+ week recovery period, so it’s not like i have anything else to do, like caring for someone. Yep, in a matter of weeks i should be getting all this on the road. When i say weeks, I mean 12. And when i say 12, i probably mean 16. Or maybe more. Especially as i don’t know yet if i have to move house this year.

Yes, if you care about me at all, pray to your deity of choice (or Siamese Cat of choice) that i get a lease renewal, cos if i don’t, everything is going to be extremely stuffed. And when i say stuffed, i mean fkd.

Because Mr won’t be able to walk, i have my physical limits, and moving at short notice is never fun, even for the able-bodied. On the bright side, i still haven’t unpacked everything from last year’s aborted move, so most of the knick-knack’s and a lot of the crockery is still boxed up.

I thought i’d leave you with some recent witticism from Twitter, but instead figured this was probably what you need to hear…

 

copyright 2017 https://stinginthetail.wordpress.com


I Was Thinking…

The thinking took some time. Basically i had three books. They were somehow unbalanced. The more i tried to balance them, the longer they got. And the more out of balance.

I took some time out. Some more time out. I spent a lot of time on twitter. Getting retweeted is affirming, no doubt about it, and i enjoyed catching up with people i adore and had forgotten existed.

My head’s like that. Involved in a book, i can forget my own family. Even myself. Reading a good book should be like that, writing them possibly more so.

I did quite a lot of research while i tweeted, figuring out the intricacies of crowd-funding, on demand publishing, and deciding whether the previously only e-publishing model was worth sticking to. Quite simply, it wasn’t.

When i first published The Birthday Dragon, i accidentally took it off public display, not realising Adult (it was adult fiction, not ‘young adult’ or ‘children’s’) meant the same as X rated on the prim US site i was on, and my book was literally only available to those looking for porn. So sales were, to put it mildly, minimal.

It took me nearly 3 months to realise what was going on, and by then it was too late. I’d missed what booksellers call the golden window for sales. The book never sold. People agreed it was wonderful, reviewed it glowingly. Still no sales.

Even today, it’s one of the highest rated books on Smashwords. Out of all books on the site over 100,000 words, it’s still on the front page, admittedly at No 20, but it was published back in 2011. Put in ‘under $2.99’ and it’s number 8.

Currently, if you look at Sci Fi over 100,000 words, it’s number 1. Fantasy over 100k it rates highly, but if ‘under $2.99’ it’s number 1 again. But it isn’t selling. At all. It’s one of those questions – is it me? Or is it Smashwords?

I tried competitions, blogs, tweeting, sacrificing small geeks, edits, and still, no sales. So i gave up. It would be alright when i did Book 2.

Right before publication of Book 2, the person doing the cover art decided not to. Two weeks before publication. It rocked me more than a little. Doing it for free doesn’t mean to me that it’s ok to be unprofessional. I didn’t pillory him on Twitter, which shows control i didn’t think i had. I tried to do some artwork myself, and my graphics tablet blew up.

Mr Whatsit (and some articles i read confirmed the notion) suggested i leave Book 2, do Book 3, and put them both out at once. Maximise sales, give me time to do some artwork myself. Then my landlord at the time served notice.

A new graphics tablet dropped into my lap (via the post, a friend upgraded and sent me theirs), i completed the books, the interstate move (2013) plus three more (1 more in 2013, 2 in 2014) .

Finally settled, i finished off Book 3 and organised the artwork. I did take the nutso artist’s cover off Book 1. For all i knew he was about to demand i did and the cover didn’t match the book, so what the hell.

I had other real life problems. Mr couldn’t manage even the few stairs here. We were supposed to move. Again. Scheduling a book release when i couldn’t promote it seemed nuts, so i put it off. Again.

The move, late 2015, didn’t happen. My car needed a sudden injection of funds, all the moving money, and fortunately the landlord didn’t mind us begging to stay. Never mind, we’ll move in 2016.

Cancer clawed at me, thankfully caught by signs my doctor paid attention to. Not just one cancer scare, but possible tumours in breasts, back, uterus, and brain had my whole attention.

Not just moving was cancelled. My life was. Then it wasn’t. Thankfully they caught everything early, or it was benign, or it wasn’t cancer. I did go through major abdominal surgery, and ended up minus womb and ovaries, which seems a small price to pay for life, but did put paid to moving.

I was off Twitter. It seemed i had nothing to say, or at least nothing i felt like sharing. “My life is fucked, how’s yours?” I’m the kind of person who doesn’t like discussing depression with others. My depression that is, i’ll happily discuss other people’s. (I will go to a psyche, and endure the tears and laughter that make up a talking cure.)

I hit Twitter again. It was lovely, and i cursed myself for a fool for not enjoying my friends. Or for not giving them credit for being whole humans who might actually care about other people. I carefully avoided thinking about the books.

Suddenly, it came to me. The books needed to be a … wtf do you call a four book set? I pretended not to hear the thought for weeks. I did surreptitiously do that research on crowdfunding and print on demand. Under my own radar, while shouting about goddamn fascists on Twitter.

After some Googling and more thought, i decided a quartet was the right name. We were supposed to be moving mid year, so i was thinking seriously about how to schedule moving and books. Then Mr got some good news, the operation he’s been waiting years for is happening this year. So we’re not moving. Again.

And i have no more excuses. Unless the landlord springs the kind of unpleasant surprise every tenant dreads (Guess what? I’ve decided to double the rent/knock down the house and build an apartment block/evict you cos it’s a Leap Year) and i have to move.

My health isn’t good, but it never is. I wrote the books despite that.

So i’ve started splitting them into 4. Gives me 4 books of about 100,000 words. I’m hammering out the chapter summaries, which as the books changed, stupid me had not kept up. Without them, editing the books further is tricky, i can’t see the flow.

Looking at the price of self-publishing books this size, i may have to cut them further, either with editing or cutting them into more books. I’m not sure. Depends on what i want to crowd-fund. My education in that and Print on Demand is cursory, and to be honest, it’s more than a little scary.

Not as scary as real life with the continued demonisation of anyone on welfare – what we in Australia called ‘benefit’ up until the current right wing government decided we were all probably criminals and as ‘welfare’  was already a dirty word thanks to US hatespeech, it worked for them.

Freedom of speech as the USA calls it, and now our government’s borrowing that notion too – they want the right to call anyone non-pinkish coloured a n________. The right to discriminate against brown or black people, against non-Christians and anyone who dares dissent.

Yes, the same LNP government that when Trump declared his ‘Muslim Ban’, crowed, delighted that in their words, someone was copying their policies.

You know the disabled people of Germany were the first to the gas chambers? As the sick, disabled, and aged are called non-profit-making drains on society, as the government (of rich white men and their sycophant women) say they’re going to cut ‘welfare’ to ‘bludgers’, well, real life is a place i really don’t want to be.

As i said on Twitter….

 Time’s a wasting.

copyright 2017 https://stinginthetail.wordpress.com

 


Phew… wait, omigod, noooo!

I just finished what should have been the final edit. Yeah, you detected the ‘should’ bit. It’s so long since i even looked at most of the trilogy i have no idea if it’s even slightly ready for publication. However, with it having been now nearly 5 years since i published the first book, i’m way over time.

What I’d really like to do is print out and run through it red-pencil. Well, if we’re talking about ‘likes’ i’d like to pay someone else to edit it but that’s not going to happen. I am my own editor and luckily, unlike most, it’s something i have done professionally and was trained to do. One’s own work can be tricky, but leave enough time between writing and savagely cutting the dribble editing, and it’s possible to get enough distance.

So, i’ve reached a compromise. I’ll read through each book, with the view simply to reduce length, (and i read over a thousand words a minute, so it won’t take as long as that sounds). Then i’ll publish. It will give me time to sort out my tax status with Smashwords and the Australian government, and to figure out wtf i’m going to do about marketing.

I’m thinking perhaps I should try semaphore, as waving flags would at least give me exercise, or perhaps morse code with a torch – which has the advantage that it could be done after hours and from a great distance in case someone takes offence.

There’s the problem with marketing, i don’t really want me to be part of it. I don’t want to write under my real name and especially, I don’t want to be a celebrity. For me, the books are what’s important. I’m not in the books, at least not completely, so why I need to get my tits out for the cause, figuratively speaking, i don’t know.

A voracious reader, I can consume an average novel in a day, and don’t care who the author is fucking. Celebritydom is inclined to put me off a person’s work, not bring me to pick the book up and read. So marketing will be much the same as before – i’ll blog, tweet, beg, give away copies in competitions. If i’m ever invited, i’ll happily meet people at a convention but until i get to publishing paper copies, i don’t think that’s something to even consider.

At least this time, i’ll know not to mark it “adult” – which made Book 1 completely invisible to everyone except porn-hunters for the first 10 weeks after publication.

Which reminds me, part of my exile from Twitter involved reading a lot. If you haven’t read these people already, do. I haven’t named genres, simply because i think good books cross genres, and can be read by anyone, all you have to do is like a good read. Or if you love good writing. I can actually just read these people, i don’t have the omnipresent Editor Inside saying, “oh dear, look at all the typos!” and distracting me from the plot.

  • Daniel Polansky. Fabulous. Simply fabulous. Buy his books, then lose yourself in the worlds he creates. I’ve read his Low Town series, and have two from the Empty Throne series ready to read – i am looking forward to them so much.  http://www.danielpolansky.com/
  • John Sandford. Funny, intriguing, smart. And sexy. Not bad for books usually set in Minnesota. (A much under-rated state, i loved it when i visited, in case any Minnesotans are reading this.) Sandford’s Prey series are uniformly very good, his characters Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers are likeable multifaceted guys who feel like old friends, and showing he’s not a one-trick pony, his co-authorship (with Ctein) Saturn Run is brilliant. http://www.johnsandford.org/
  • J.D. Robb. (also writes as Norah Roberts) Her Of Death series is a fascinating dip into the not-so-distant future, with interesting characters, deft humour and sizzling sex. Oh, and bad guys and girls of all kinds. I didn’t enjoy her Norah Roberts books, (too much romance for me, it’s one genre i’m not happy to wallow in), but you might. http://www.jdrobb.com/
  • James Lee Burke. He’s always good, but i’m besotted with his Dave Robicheaux series.  Flawed heroes as intensely painted as the sometimes skin-crawling villains, in a vision of America’s Deep South so vivid and beautiful you can see the bayou and smell the barbecuing shrimp, with the leavening of inequality and corruption a bitter aftertaste on the back of your tongue. http://jamesleeburke.com/
  • Jeffrey Deaver. The best til last? This is stellar company, but Mr Deaver can stand tall here. A master storyteller, he can scare you, move you, and always, make you turn the page. http://www.jefferydeaver.com/

I don’t care what these people are doing in their lives, their work is what attracts me. I’m hopeful my work will stand alone too. However, i’d love the kind of PR machine they get from having a paper publication deal, don’t get me wrong. (I’m not nuts!)

copyright 2016 https://stinginthetail.wordpress.com

 


Interesting times

Well, here i am, November, and i should have a working computer in a week or so. I’ve got a computer that works but has a dodgy mouse plate (every so often it goes rogue and hits links or marks text) which can’t be trusted online, so i’ve been using that to edit the trilogy. It’s also got a coffee-soaked hard disk, so i’m saving to memory sticks, clouds, and everywhere else i can cadge some disk space.

The editing is nearly done – i’m on Book 3, and the other two are done. I can’t believe it’s taking so long. I’m at the point of giving up writing and taking up something like illuminating manuscripts by hand, you know, something quick and totes 21st C.

Meanwhile, despite liver getting steadily better, i’ve had non-stop health probs, including so many cancer scares i’m almost blase over blood tests, MRI’s, and CAT scans. Almost. MRI’s are an exercise in Zen and the Art of Keeping On Breathing, and I still find waiting for results is terrifying. So far, so benign.

Tip for MRI machines – put in good earplugs and then their headphones over the top. Doesn’t kill the noise, but brings the constant disco thump down to ‘there’s a nightclub next door’ instead of ‘i’m lying with my head in a speaker at a Boney M concert’.

Latest was ‘you may have some kind of sinus cancer’ and a CAT scan that showed up what they thought was a brain tumour. It was, but it’s apparently not the dangerous kind. Turns out all those years abusing my body are really starting to pay off.

Anyway, weird thing about being away from Twitter this long? I’m cured. I don’t even think about it much. Which is a worry, as i am going to need to go back soon, at least to let people know my books are out.

What if i’m like a bornagain non-smoker, and can’t stop myself from criticising other people’s obsessions with baby hippos, politics, or i-Things? It’s a worry. Still, I gave up smoking and didn’t become a bornagain, so I’ll try to have faith.

One day at a time.

copyright 2015 https://stinginthetail.wordpress.com


I’m going to kill my computer

Well, i don’t think i’ll have to, the bastard is dying by itself. I can’t use it for more than a few minutes without it overheating. The motherboard, power supply, and dvd drive have all decided to conk out to varying degrees. It is 8 yrs old, so i should probably be amazed it lasted this long.

It all started with Mr’s (also 8 yrs old) computer, i was busy trying to get it working, and its power supply started making weird noises, the screen refused to work, and eventually i realised the main prob was the motherboard (though the power supply did die too). A friend sent me a new motherboard (an oldie he had hanging around), which also turned out to be stuffed. *sigh*

Not to worry, someone gave me an old laptop. Turned out they stopped using it after it had coffee spilled inside it. So it’s not the most reliable computer in the world and it is possibly the slowest. It’s ok for non-net work, if you make sure you save stuff separately.

So i couldn’t put out Books 2 and 3, though i thought i was ready, because i can’t promote them without being able to be on the web rather a lot. I’ve stuck my head up on Twitter a couple of times, cursing the IT revolution, but i don’t have a comp that works for any length of time, or that i can risk using for long, so can’t stay to chat.

To top things off, i’ve been so sick i didn’t really notice it was 2015. Turned out my liver was trying to tell me something (stop eating cream, the gist of it) so on top of my usual health probs i had some wonderful new ones.

That’s where i’m at. Waiting until i have the $ to buy a new motherboard, (plus chips and RAM), power supply, and DVD drive and trying to restore some level of personal health. The personal health bit is going fine, (exercise, reducing fats a lot and carbs a bit, the logical stuff), but the computer stuff not so much.

Of course, the car has to take precedence as it needs a major service and without it i really can’t function. Whereas i only think i can’t function without a comp.

So the really unreliable laptop is being pulled into use, (aided by memory sticks as i can’t trust the hard disk) for another edit of Books 2 and 3, which i haven’t touched for 6 months while i tried to figure out first what was wrong with the various comps, waited for parts, tried the parts, was stymied, cried, screamed, and then did it several times over. I even tried to get credit, but as i’ve never had credit (except from the phone co, the electricity co and Mum), they won’t give me any.

I’m hoping to be back online properly within 3 months. Yep, a fixed and limited income with an ability to budget means i can pinpoint the moment i should able to fix my desktop and restore my virtual life. And it gives me time to do a nice polish of the remainder of the trilogy.

All things for a reason? If anyone sees God, please ask her wtf. Ta.

copyright 2015 https://stinginthetail.wordpress.com