self-publishing

The Author Exploitation Business

Every serious author needs to read this, as well as my comment.

David Gaughran

penguin (1)Writing is a glamorous occupation – at least from the outside. Popular depictions of our profession tend to leave out all the other stuff that comes with the territory: carpal tunnel syndrome, liver failure, penury, and madness.

Okay, okay, I jest. I love being a writer. Sharing stories with the world and getting paid for it is bloody brilliant. It’s a dream job, and like any profession with a horde of neophytes seeking to break in, there are plenty of sharks waiting to chew them to bits.

Publishing is a screwed up business. The often labyrinthine path to success makes it much easier for those with nefarious intentions to scam the unsuspecting. But it doesn’t help that so many organizations who claim to help writers, to respect them, to assist them along the path to publication are actually screwing them over.

Before the digital revolution made self-publishing viable on a…

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Self-Publishing Grabs Huge Market Share From Traditional Publishers

This is nothing I didn’t already know. Each month, each quarter, each year, independently-published books make a bigger and bigger splash!

David Gaughran

godzillBarnes & Noble re-launched PubIt! this week as Nook Press, a largely superficial makeover which failed to address some fundamental problems, like restricting access to US self-publishers only, and introduced new howler: updating existing titles causes the loss of all ranking, reviews, and momentum.

There were only two noteworthy things, to me, about this launch. First, the PubIt! brand had been closely associated with Barnes & Noble. This re-launch seems like an attempt to tie the Nook Press brand to their subsidiary Nook Media, probably in advance of a sale (Barnes & Noble already sold a stake to Microsoft, and a smaller slice to Pearson – Penguin’s parent company but maintain a controlling interest in Nook Media).

This re-launch is full of things that sound great in a corporate press release (innovative editing tools!) that most professional self-publishers won’t really care about, which makes me further suspect this is more…

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Another Writing Tip

Where possible, write in the active voice. The active voice occurs when the subject PERFORMS an action; for instance, “A tornado toppled Uncle Frank’s barn.” In contrast to the active voice, the passive voice occurs when the subject RECEIVES an action; for instance, “Uncle Frank’s barn was toppled by a tornado.”

The example written in the active voice is shorter (by two words), simpler, and more on point. It reads better, and it moves the scene at a faster pace.

Is it “wrong” to write in the passive voice? Not always. While it doesn’t read as well as the active voice, and it often necessitates more words to convey a thought, the passive voice still isn’t literary taboo–you just need to watch it carefully. Is the passive voice ever the “correct” approach to a piece? Yes. It’s good for achieving effect and emphasis; for example, to make sure that a particular word receives the greatest emphasis (by forcing it to the end of the sentence).

When it doubt, go with the active voice. It tightens your prose, gives it more punch, and moves your story along.

#AmWriting #IndieAuthors How to Destroy Your Credibility as an Author – Part One: Handling Reviews

This is Part One of my pseudo-sarcastic series about destroying one’s credibility as an author. I’m not being mean, and I’m definitely not pointing my finger at anyone; I’m just tired of seeing the same old unsavory practices all day, every day. Writing a book is hard, I know. But who said writing is an author’s only job? Granted, writing is the most important part of an author’s job, but non-writing responsibilities, such as promotion, time management, financial management, and public relations, also play a role in achieving success as an author, especially if you’re an independent, or “indie” author.

The manner in which independent authors perform the non-writing aspects of their jobs speaks not only for the individual authors, but for all independent authors. When many authors make the same mistakes again and again, the book-buying public lumps all independent authors together. And that’s when you read such comments as, “Oh yeah, invincible self-published authors and their massive, vapor-filled ego bubbles,” or, “Our publication no longer reviews self-published books because the authors lash out at us if we give their books less-than-stellar reviews.” Sound familiar? And speaking of reviews… Part One of my series deals with handling bad reviews.

~ How to Mishandle Bad Reviews and Destroy Your Credibility and Reputation ~

1) When you receive a bad review, immediately “lash out” at the reviewer. Call them a jerk, and insist that they don’t understand the book or, alternatively, that they had read the book through their eyes instead of your eyes. If the review noted spelling or gramattical errors, simply tell the reviewer, “Nobody’s perfect! A few errors aren’t a big deal.”

The reality: Reviews are for readers, not authors. The author’s job is to create a reading experience for the reader, and then back away. Commenting back on reviews is authorial intrusion at its worst, and in addition to eroding your credibility and reputation as an author, it will likely earn you more bad reviews and/or a spot on one of the many “misbehaving authors to avoid” lists. To put it bluntly, when you receive a bad review, suck it up and move on. Unless the review contains profanity, racism, or a very explicit personal attack, nobody is going to remove it for you.

But, what if a competing author, their publisher, or someone who hates you submits a trash review? Sadly, it happens all the time. It has happened to me twice, plus a third review came from someone who exploded when I didn’t support their relative a local election. There’s nothing you can do about it, although karma usually wins out over the long run. I’ll tell you that story some other time. Now for the good news… Readers are smart! Most readers can spot a “rigged” review faster than you can spot one, and they often vote down bogus reviews as being “not helpful.”

Now, let’s put the shoe on the other foot. Let’s suppose a valid customer submits a bad review and goes into detail. Send them a check! Really. They’ve done what most people won’t do without a fee. They’ve pointed out things you need to work on. Such bad reviews are invaluable in developing and furthering your writing career.

2) When you receive a bad review, vote it down and ask your friends, relatives, and forum buddies to vote it down or leave nasty comments. You can easily bury the bad review, and potential customers will see only good reviews unless they spend oodles of time digging–and most won’t.

The reality: Again, reviews are for readers, not authors. Also, a review’s helpfulness rating influences book-buying decisions. Voting down (or up) a review is manipulating, or “gaming” the system to make one’s book appear better or more popular than it really is. It is a deliberate and willful misrepresentation of a material fact, for the purpose of achieving financial gain. And yes, the F-word applies here: Fraud. Gaming the system not only damages your credibility and reputation as an author, it also calls into question your integrity as a human being–by making you appear as someone who will “do anything for a dollar, even if you have to mislead people.”

3) If a competing book is more successful than your book, or if you’re afraid it will become more successful, visit every review site on the internet and give it trash reviews.

The reality: Much has been said about this practice, but nothing good. I can’t think of anything more unprofessional or unethical than an author’s trashing of a competing author’s book. Sure, authors have the right to an opinion, but sometimes opinions are best left unsaid, especially when an obvious conflict of interest exists. As I said earlier, readers are smart. If you trash the work of your competitors, readers will catch on and your plan will backfire.

Now, a few parting words. You shouldn’t over-analyze reviews; weigh them and move on. If a reviewer gives useful tips, take them to heart. If you receive tons of great reviews, pat yourself on the back, but don’t think you’re J.K. Rowling or Stephen King. If you get lots of bad reviews, take a close look at your writing; you might need to develop and hone your skills. And remember that reviews aren’t about you; reviews are about your books, by readers and for readers. Step back. Don’t intrude. Allow readers to give their opinions and to judge for themselves the merits of other reviews.

The bottom line: If you get a bad review, don’t make an ass of yourself.

Up Next Week:  Part Two – Getting Sucked Into the Virtual Whirlwind of the Internet, aka, the ClickFest

#AmWriting Ramblings; How NOT to Succeed as an Author

This has been a busy week. I’m working on the sixth draft of my upcoming book, From Turkey Creek – A Memoir, and each day I’m cutting 4-6 pages of unnecessary prose. That’s what it’s all about: Making more sense with fewer, more precise words. The tighter and more precise the writing, the easier and more entertaining the read. Besides working on “Turkey Creek,” I’ve also begun researching for my next ghost story book, which will require extensive travel and planning. Yesterday was spent thanking those who wished me a happy B-Day and V-Day, and last night I got some much-needed shuteye. On Sunday, I have a TV taping, which will last about three hours.

Meanwhile, and behind the scenes, I’ve been working on a new post for my blog. Akin to a serial article, the finished product will be a step-by-step guide for authors seeking to destroy their credibility and careers. Although a good number of newer, inexperienced authors have already swirled their egos into narcissistic tailspins and experienced the resultant, career-ending literary nosedives, I feel it’s time for a sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek discussion of the things authors should NEVER do. If it helps only one person, I will be happy. Expect it in a couple weeks.

In the interim, please read the post, below, which illustrates one example of how not to succeed as an author. It’s from Gayla at Feral Intensity:

We interrupt this series on marketing with a timely lesson on how NOT to succeed …

An Excerpt From my Forthcoming Book #mustread #Book #amwriting

From Turkey Creek – A Memoir

Pat Fitzhugh

The Armand Press (2013 )

“Often hysterically funny, sometimes wrenching, Fitzhugh’s straight-shooting memoir is laced with fine storytelling, sharp wit, and acute observations of life in rural Tennessee. He remembers vividly what it felt like to be a kid: the pleasure of being outdoors; the unquestioned bonds of a friendship; and the oddness of many of the things adults do.”

–Pre-publication Review, 2012

 

From Turkey Creek – A Memoir is scheduled for release in late 2013.  Below is the book’s introductory chapter:

I N T R O D U C T I O N

If you look at a map of Tennessee, there is, on Kentucky Lake’s east bank, north of Waverly and east of Big Sandy, a little bay called Turkey Creek. Don’t fret if you can’t find it; even some locals have trouble finding the place. Look for the little cove with a tiny island at its mouth. That’s Turkey Creek.

Originating in the hills of northwest Humphreys County, Turkey Creek snakes through eight miles of hickory forests, manure-laden pastures, and lowland thickets before widening and emptying into Kentucky Lake. At its mouth, Turkey Creek is nearly a half-mile wide.

The name “Turkey Creek” describes not only a rolling stream of minnows, crayfish, and cow poop, but also the countryside through which it flows—and any location within, say, eight miles of the creek. When someone says, “I live at Turkey Creek,” they could live anywhere in northwestern Humphreys County. People describe area roads in much the same way. Most are simply called, “Turkey Creek Road.”  It’s easier that way.

Up until the last decade, when a modern marina and scores of new cabins sprang up, Turkey Creek rarely changed. In 1950, a lonely dirt road led past a campground and a fishing resort, then around a sharp curve at the creek’s mouth, and to a handful of cabins fronting Kentucky Lake. In 1960, the same dirt road led past the same campground and fishing resort, around the same sharp curve, and to the same lakefront cabins, and in 1970, and 1980, and so on. The number of cabins near the lake remained constant for many years, but the structures changed often; old cabins fell down and new cabins took their places. What was constant was always changing.

I grew up in two of those cabins. Turkey Creek is where I shot my first fish, snagged my first possum, spewed my first obscenity, kissed my first girl, and savagely attacked a family of tame ducks. Along the way, I learned the difference between a largemouth bass and a buglemouth bass, a water snake and a water moccasin, a pint of whiskey and a pint of moonshine, deer hunting and dear hunting, and a knot and a concussion. This was from the late-1960s until 1980.

During that period, Turkey Creek was more than simply a place for wild-eyed young boys to grow up. Turkey Creek was a place where friendships were forged, enemies were forgiven, lessons were learned, and where amazing things unfolded just beneath the surface of everyday life. Turkey Creek will always be special to me; it was my life’s starting point and the source of my fondest memories.

There has never been an official source of information about Turkey Creek during that period, perhaps because so few people are left to tell about it; some have moved away, others have moved on. Moreover, no sane person would want to read about Turkey Creek, much less write about it. Until now.

The book that follows is the true story of a young boy growing up at Turkey Creek, written by that same boy, years later. It is a memoir, a sigh of gratitude, a way of returning.”  ♦