Price and Profit

So I learned something rather embarrassing a week ago.

Since the release of Colony, one of the more common questions I’ve received from fans about it has been “How should I purchase your book in order to make sure you get the largest cut of money?” Which is actually a pretty valid—and thoughtfully appreciated—question. This question comes from a reader who isn’t just concerned that they read a book, but that the author of said book is able to support themselves to the next one. Some of you may be scratching your heads even so, though, thinking to yourselves “Wait, I thought it was just an ebook?” Well it is, but there are two ways you can acquire it.

The first is to simply impart money to Amazon.com ($7.99 in this case, unless there’s a sale going) for a digital, DRM-Free copy of Colony. And for many readers, that’s what they do. However, I’m also a fan of putting my books up on Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited Program, which is kind of like a Netflix for books, and that means that it’s also available to those paying for the KU program to read whenever they want. Now, KU pays authors, but the question from these readers is “Which way pays you more?”

And it turns out, in giving my answer, I screwed up.

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Being a Better Writer: Keeping Things Moving and in Context

So this last weekend I came to a conclusion. I’d spent the week writing, as usual, working on the first draft of Jungle (you know, that sequel to that Colony book everyone keeps talking about), but between being sick and low on sleep (said sickness really, really wanted me to sleep), something just wasn’t clicking. Something about the chapter I was working on, even when I finished it, felt off.

I spent my Saturday thinking about it. Running things over in my mind. Thinking about what critical plot elements the chapter introduced, how it did so, what the characters did when interacting, etc. And finally, I reached an important conclusion: The chapter wasn’t working because it was dragging. It was a slog. And it had to go.

Said chapter is now marked for deletion and rewrite. Actually, rewrite isn’t even the right term. Summation is more accurate. Because, I realized as I was thinking about it, everything that happens in that chapter could also be told in a different chapter in half the time, at a later point in the story, when there is, to put it plainly, more going on.

The chapter I’d written was dragging. It wasn’t keeping the story moving.

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Fisking an Anti-Amazon Article From the New Republic

Oh boy. I woke up this morning to see this article on the front page of r/books, and you  know … I’ve never fisked anything … but this piece couldn’t be ignored. For those not in the know, a “fisking” is when someone replies point by point to the salient points of an article, offering a piece by piece rebuttal. I’ll let you read the original article first, so you can get it in your mind, but it’s just part of the continuing—You know what? You be the judge. Read the article, then check this rebuttal.

The quoted article bits are both quoted and italicized. My responses are the normal text.

So, let’s get started.

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It’s a Jungle in Here

So, Thursday update …

You ever have one of those moments where you’re all gung-ho to do something, and then you sit down and your mind goes blank? Yup, that’s me at this post right now. So I suppose I’ll just go with the basics, starting from the top.

First, don’t forget about the Birthday Sale! Seriously. Even if you’ve already bought my books, April 19th (which is now just six days away) will be a great day on which to share one that you particularly enjoyed on Facebook or another site or what have you. So please do, as it would be really helpful.

No, it really would. Right now it seems the biggest wall I’m running into is just getting my name out there. Which, in today’s very crowded world, isn’t easy.

Anyway, that’s my pitch. Please share a book when April 19th hits!

So, on to other news: This month I have been working my tail off. See, the last three months I’ve come in just below my quota every single time. And that’s a reduced wordcount quota of about 60k-70k, on account of me having this other job I have to spend time at. And quite frankly, while I’m fairly tired of that job, I’m not so tired that I can’t do the math and see I’d be homeless without that little income (it’s risky enough and I cut far too many corners even with it).

In any case, I decided that this month I was going to get things back on track. Saturday is no longer a break day, for starters, and I’ve become a lot more stringent with my time. The result: I am keeping up with my quota this month. Which means a quicker turnaround for some of the newer stuff down the line.

Speaking of which, the update on that.

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A Fantastic Quote Concerning Shame Culture

This thought-provoking quote was brought to my attention this last Sunday at one of the LDS General Conference sessions, where it was quoted from a 2016 New York Times article on “Shame Culture.” I’m sharing it because of its insightful look into why the current “shaming” trend doesn’t work, and isn’t a basis for a stable society. Just thought-provoking.

“In a guilt culture you know you are good or bad by what your conscience feels. In a shame culture you know you are good or bad by what your community says about you, by whether it honors or excludes you. … [In the shame culture,] moral life is not built on the continuum of right and wrong; it’s built on the continuum of inclusion and exclusion. …

“… Everybody is perpetually insecure in a moral system based on inclusion and exclusion. There are no permanent standards, just the shifting judgment of the crowd. It is a culture of oversensitivity, overreaction and frequent moral panics, during which everybody feels compelled to go along. …”

“The guilt culture could be harsh, but at least you could hate the sin and still love the sinner. The modern shame culture allegedly values inclusion and tolerance, but it can be strangely unmerciful to those who disagree and to those who don’t fit in.”

         —David Brooks, “The Shame Culture,” New York Times, Mar. 15, 2016

It’s That Special Time of Year Again …

Ah, what a wondrous time of year it is! Calculators are being dragged out, receipts are checked, and math skills are brushed up on. Everywhere you can hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth  of … oh, wait a moment.

There’s nothing wondrous about this at all. It’s tax season. I got my wires crossed. My mistake.

Yes, it’s tax season again. Hooray.

Okay, so some of you are probably slightly puzzled. Maybe you’ve not done taxes before (I know I have some young readers), or maybe you’re thinking “Eh, you’ve got a few months, right?”

Nope. See, I’m self-employed. My taxes are due March 1st. Which is very soon in tax terms.

Also, being self-employed really means you don’t get to see a lot of the safety nets others do. Like standard deductions. They’re there, but they don’t take nearly as much effect. To put this another way … I’ve never gotten a tax return in my life. Well, save that one time I accidentally wrote the IRS a check for a dollar more than I was supposed to.

In other words, the dawning of another tax season means another nice hit to my bank account. Glad I’ve managed to save a little money this year, because it’s about to disappear.

I wouldn’t be so annoyed about it if I wasn’t well below the poverty line. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not begging for cash here. I’m living within my means, limited as they are. But dang, you’d think being so far below that line would matter … but no, it really doesn’t.

Is there a point to this post? Well, as of this moment, not really. I’m just griping. Darn tax season. There, that was the last one. But I probably should provide something other than a cautionary … Huh … You know, discussing finances and some of the differences of being a Self-Employed Author would probably make for a good Being a Better Writer post. I’m making a note of that now.

Right, anyway, other news and stuff. First of all, let’s hit the big elephant in the room. Well, at least, for me: Colony.

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If I’ve Been Quiet, It’s Because My Throat Hurts

Don’t worry, it’s not that bad. No, really, it isn’t. It’s just a bug I picked up from my roommate.

It’s also not entirely the reason I’ve been so quiet. I’ve also been juggling things (as I commentated on in my last post), but the primary of those has been Jungle. Which is now sitting at over 30,000 words!

Has that kept me a little quiet? Well, yes. That’s been the primary factor. That and, I know blogs are supposed to be something that you provide rapid, frequent content for, but I’ve always been more on the side of “If I’m going to post something, why not post something meaningful?”

Though a comment chain on another blog I’ve been posting to has been percolating in my brain, so something may come of that soon. We’ll see.

I any case, just a little heads up that no, I’m not dead, I’m just working. In that authorial way, where I’ve vanished inside my office for days and days, hunched over a keyboard, clattering away at keys and building massive plot-threads.

Speaking of which, Jungle has a lot of those. I’ll give away a bit more as things move along (thereby giving more people time to make it through Colony), but right now it’s feeling pretty sweet. In Colony we got to see Pisces, now with Jungle things are opening up a bit to the universe at large … but in ways I hope people won’t expect. It’s definitely going to be a ride when everything hits the fan.

In other news, I need to get my sleep schedule back on track. That will definitely help.

Anyway, time to work!