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In Which I Admit My Crystal Ball IS Broken

Friday, September 12th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
Managed Economies, Comrade!  Always the future of the past.

Managed Economies, Comrade! Always the future of the past.

(Hi, this is Sarah.)

Making predictions is hard, particularly when they’re about the future.

If you’d asked me in the mid nineties what was wrong with the book business, I’d have told you.  It was the top down, planned-economy model, where the big chain stores stocked according to the whims of their business managers – whims that were mostly based on degree of “confidence” (read supposed print run and ability to pay for better shelving) from the publisher.

I had reason to know that more often than not no one in that chain, from acquiring editor to bookstore manager had read the book.  In fact, while editors read proposals, often the only person who’d read the book was the copyeditor.  (Who was a just out of college kid, more often than not.)

So, how were books stocked?  Mostly they were stocked on feel, on blurb, on general “sense of what should sell” and on – of course – prior numbers.

Only prior numbers were often a matter of GIGO.  For instance, if you only got stocked two books per store, it was known it would sell at most 50% (because of the low visibility and also shoplifting) and then the next book would only print that much, and in three books your career was dead.  (Though often not, it’s just they got to reset your name and take you back to the beginner level advance.)

With one of my books, I was told my best shot at a good distribution was if someone made a movie about the historical period.  Then all the bookstores would stock me.

Think about this.  This was an industry that was, almost exclusively, relying on another industry to do its publicity for it.  And who was stocking not on the basis of quality of the written word, but on the vague feeling that the subject was trendy and therefore people would want to see it.

If you’d asked me in the mid nineties what that would mean for the book business, I’d have told you “nothing. Chains are now the only game in town.  So they’ll keep on keeping on, selling a little less each year, and when they go under in 20 years, they take all of the book business with them.”

I should turn in my crystal ball right now.  Oh, wait, I don’t have one.

Because Amazon came in and everything changed.

For clothing and electronics and automobiles, that workflow is in sync with consumer behavior. Consumers want new fashion, the newest flat-screen, the latest model car. Book consumers aren’t the same. Yes, new titles can drive sales, but book buyers also look for forgotten classics and hidden gems. That means poring over shelves, and that requires old inventory. The chains and their management could have tried to set investors’ expectations for higher unsold inventories as a healthy part of the specific business of buying and selling books. But they didn’t. They treated old inventory as a drag rather than an asset and began to trim their shelves of titles. (Alternatively, they could have tried to position themselves as larger, better-stocked versions of the independents, focusing on the particular desires of book customers.)

Independent bookstores never had to answer to the dictates of public markets. Many of their proprietors understood, intuitively and from conversations with customers, that a well-curated selection—an inventory of old and new books—was their primary and maybe only competitive advantage. In the words of Oren Teicher, CEO of the American Booksellers Association, “The indie bookselling amalgam of knowledge, innovation, passion, and business sophistication has created a unique shopping experience.”

Or, in other words – readers prefer buying from other readers, and books aren’t pieces of fruit that go bad after two weeks.  Also, books (and authors) aren’t fungible.  Who knew?

Not I.  I could have told you five years ago to go long on Amazon, but the last thing I expected was a resurgence of indies.

So I’m not going to make any predictions – I’m merely going to say I’m very glad the misery and failure results of a managed economy have been curtailed for my field by disruptive technology.

And that these are interesting times to be alive in.


And interesting times to publish an independent book and get it plugged on Book Blug Friday! Send an email to book.plug.friday@gmail.com for submission guidelines


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The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin
By L. Jagi Lamplighter

Roanoke Academy for the Sorcerous Arts—a school of magic like no other!

Who knew so much could go awry in one week?

Rachel Griffin has one goal. She wants to know everything.

Arriving at Roanoke Academy in the Hudson Highlands, she discovers that her perfect memory has an unexpected side effect. With it, she can see through the enchantment that sorcerers use to hide their secrets.

When someone tries to kill a fellow student, Rachel investigates. She soon discovers that, in the same way her World of the Wise hides from mundane folk, there is another more secret world hiding from the Wise. Rushing forward where others fear to tread, Rachel finds herself beset by wraiths, embarrassing magical pranks, a Raven that brings the doom of worlds, and at least one fire-breathing teacher.

Meanwhile, she’s busy learning magic, making friends and, most importantly, finding romance!

Curiosity might kill a cat, but nothing stops Rachel Griffin!


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Portals of Infinity: Book Two: The God Game
By John Van Stry

Will’s life has definitely changed since that day he went hiking in the woods. Learning about the portals opened his eyes to the wider reality. Being setup to become a God’s Champion was an even more startling event.

Now it’s time to pay for his ‘recruitment’. While Gods on a single world maneuver for power, the older Gods from the infinite spheres play a larger and more complicated game. The Goddess Aryanna has a quest she needs completed, and five Champions are needed to do it. Leaving Will to wonder, what could a Goddess possibly need?


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Memories of the Abyss
By Cedar Sanderson

Free novella from Sept 12-16

Violet is trapped in the prison of her own mind. Her body is dwelling in the insane asylum, but when her friend Walter is killed, she must make a decision to avenge his death, or stay safely locked in her own broken soul. He’d drawn her out of her shell, and she finds she still has honor left… But will anyone believe the crazy woman?


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Chosen of Azara
By Kyra Halland

Lucie, a pampered young noblewoman, has no idea of her true heritage and the power she holds to restore a lost land to life. When a handsome stranger appears at her father’s house, claiming to be a long-dead king and telling tales of a beautiful, mythical land, she fights to deny what he says and cling to the comfortable life she knows. But in her heart, she knows she must find the courage to believe Sevry and join him on his quest to defeat the evil that destroyed Savaru and bring the land and its magic back to life.

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Learning Liberty

Friday, September 5th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
Give us your poor, your rejected, your tired writers yearning to publish indie.

Give us your poor, your rejected, your tired writers yearning to publish indie.

Hi, guys.  This is Sarah. Some time, now about two years ago, I realized that I was now free to write whatever I wanted and that I could sell whatever I wrote, without having to go through a publisher.

To explain what this means, I have to tell you how I used to sell.  The process went something like this: I had an idea.  My first procedure, when confronted with an idea is to try to forget it. You see, I already have … a lifetime worth of ideas.

When this didn’t work, I’d sit down and write the first few chapters. If the idea still wouldn’t die, I would then write a proposal for the book, explaining why it was marketable, (in my opinion) and what the rest of the plot was.

Then I would send it out.  And wait.

One summer, while I was unemployed, I wrote seventeen proposals. Of those I sold eight, but not all at once.  I sold one that summer, and then the sales trickled in.

The most time that passed between a proposal and an acceptance was eight years, and finishing that book was fun, since the long-dormant characters no longer were pushing to be written and I had other projects I wanted to do.

In case this doesn’t come across in the description, this was far from a normal process for writing, particularly for someone like me who, while not being a pantser, approaches books like all-consuming obsessions.  (I’m very lazy. I’m also obsessive.  I use the obsession to write.)

But for ten years, that’s how I made a living.  There was no virtue in finishing books the publishers wouldn’t buy, and I had to write books as fast as I could to survive.

So the realization that from now on whatever I wrote I could sell directly to the public, felt like… like utter relaxation.

And then the writing stopped. Not just on indie, but on the books due at Baen. For a year and a half now.

Now, part of this was that I was doing a weekly column for Lifestyle, and trying to work at other things, and it was simply too much.

The other part, though…  Ah, the other part.

I realized, sometime ago that part of my problem was that I had a lot of novels in process of completion that needed to be written now.  The problem … is not a problem.  I can write six novels a year. Though the last time I did that, I was also homeschooling and that’s a bit much. I can do it – have done it – while also writing five or six proposals which easily take the work of half a novel.

So, why the stop?

And then today I realized I was stopping myself.  You see, while my front brain KNOWS that the novels can be sold – by being put online and sold to the public – and that, in fact, Witchfinder is close to earning out a normal advance for me, the other part of me, the backbrain taught through years of experience in the field, tells me that I can’t do that.  I’m just wasting my time and no one will buy this and wha—

And the fight between me and the backbrain is stopping everything, even novels already sold.

Do I know how to solve it?  No idea.  I’m hoping writing this helps.

Sometimes it’s hard to be free. I understand tigers kept in tiny cages and then moved to large, more natural habitats have been known to pace within the confines of imaginary cages.

The way the book business is changing, we’re going to need to learn to tear down a lot of cages and teach ourselves we’re free.


Remember: Tell your friends to send an email to book.plug.friday@gmail.com for submission guidelines. For submissions, please include author’s name, book title, a short blurb (no more than about 100 words) and a link to Amazon, preferably to a Kindle book as those are easier to list. Please don’t bother with fancy formatting, shortened links (like amzn.co), review copies (neither Sarah nor I have the time right now) or cover art (I get it directly from Amazon in the HTML.)


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Survival Test
By David L. Burkhead

War!

A series of diplomatic crises precipitate a limited nuclear war on Earth. Missile defenses block access to space. Nothing goes up and nothing comes down.
The people of the various space stations, the moon base, and a space colony whose construction had just begun must find a way to survive until the war is over.
The ultimate survival test.


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Witchfinder
By Sarah A. Hoyt

In Avalon, where the world runs on magic, the king of Britannia appoints a witchfinder to rescue unfortunates with magical power from lands where magic is a capital crime. Or he did. But after the royal princess was kidnapped from her cradle twenty years ago, all travel to other universes has been forbidden, and the position of witchfinder abolished. Seraphim Ainsling, Duke of Darkwater, son of the last witchfinder, breaks the edict. He can’t simply let people die for lack of rescue. His stubborn compassion will bring him trouble and disgrace, turmoil and danger — and maybe, just maybe, the greatest reward of all.


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Nocturnal Lives (Box Set)
By Amanda S. Green

Special price of $2.99 though September 5th.

This “box set” includes the first three novels in the Nocturnal Lives series.


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Gentleman Takes a Chance (Shifter Series Book 2)
By Sarah Hoyt

Shape-Shift Into Adventure!

Shapeshifters Kyrie and Tom try to live a normal life in a small Colorado town—normal, that is, considering one of them is secretly a panther and the other a dragon. But now a primeval Shifter feud grows infinitely more deadly, and Kyrie and Tom find themselves warriors in an ancient struggle for Shifter destiny itself!

Quick-witted fantasy doyenne Sarah Hoyt continues the brilliant contemporary fantasy “Shifter” saga begun in Draw One in the Dark.

At the publisher’s request, this title is sold without DRM (DRM Rights Management).

“An engaging main character, and the book . . . romps along.”
—Publishers Weekly on Sarah Hoyt’s delightful Ill Met by Moonlight.

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Read All You Want, the Forces of Writing Darkness Will Write More

Friday, August 29th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
An accurate of the villainous indie writing tying the publishing industry to the train tracks.  Don't it just break your hearts?

An accurate representation of the villainous indie writer tying the virtuous publishing industry to the train tracks. Don’t it just break your hearts?

Hello ladies, gentlemen and creatures not yet identified by science.  This is Sarah Hoyt, once more missing Dragoncon to bring you these pearls of wisdom.  Okay, fine.  I’m missing Dragoncon because I’m broke, so I might as well bring you these pearls of wisdom.

Over this weekend, forcibly away from my colleagues who are having way too much fun starting right about now, I’ve been giving some thought to the whole traditional and indie model, which, as you know, is something I never do – coff.

Cons and publishers and the whole enterprise of publishing as I entered it, oh, thirteen years ago or so with the publication of my first novel, was very much a social thing.  What I mean is, from the outside, it looked like a collegial and harmonious enterprise.  All the authors seemed to know each other and at least superficially get along.  And you read – at least in books published a long time ago – that all the authors helped each other.

Was this true?

Well, now.  Some of it was.  Some number of my colleagues were always big-hearted professionals, willing to help a newby who kept her nose clean and worked really hard.  I’m minded here of Kevin J. Anderson who unbent from his Olympian heights to keep me sane and keep my hope alive after the publishing world shut its doors in my face when my first book series failed, back in 2003.  I’m thinking of Dave Drake, who gave me my introduction to Baen.

But these were, at the time, almost acts of exceptional courage.  When I found myself on the outside looking in, the people who helped shine by their exceptional courage. It was a whispered truism in the field that you shouldn’t stand too close to someone the gods of publishing disfavored, because, you know, the publishers might think you were tainted.

This made perfect sense in an oligopsony that could control your fortunes not just what they did, but with what they failed to do (such as promote your books) and when you had no way to make a living through these at best indifferent gatekeepers.

The oligopsony created a finite pie, too.  There were so many slots for so many authors, so many spaces in the shelves of bookstores.  Even if it were your best friend being picked up and promoted, you felt a twinge of … not quite envy, because that slot couldashouldamighta have been yours.

This precluded the amity between writers from being quite as it appeared in public. As did the often random preferential treatment given to those with connections and publishing contacts.

My dentist once told me he knew I was a novelist because I had tooth grinding problems. (This worried me a little.  How many novelists are there in my neighborhood?)

How much things have changed. Nowadays, despite certain people at Teh Grauniad lamenting the “reactionary” and individualistic tendencies of indie publishing, where it’s apparently a writer eat writer world, in fact, I’ve found a lot more cooperation, a lot more help in the new model.

And why not? After all, in the new model there is no finite pie. If any of you falls madly in love with my historical mysteries, it doesn’t mean you’ll buy fewer historical mysteries, but rather more, as I can’t write as fast as anyone reads, and you’ll need more books to feed the habit.

There is also a sort of spontaneous cooperation.  For instance, I said on a couple of facebook groups “Wouldn’t it be fun if we could have a labor day sale?”  And lo and behold, there is a Labor Day sale, with writers who don’t even know each other, but who all figured that there is … sales generation in numbers.

So – at this link are a bunch of books, all of which are 2.99 or less.  Some of which are advertised below.  And some of which are mine. And it all happened spontaneously, through a bunch of authors, cooperating and stuff. Indie authors, you know, those reactionary forces of darkness. (If I’m going to be a force of darkness I must have a cloak and a moustache!)

Have a good Labor Day weekend and read a lot.  Don’t worry about finite pies, either. We’ll write more.


Congratulations,for this week’s links, every last one of the submissions wins the “Authors who can read as well as write” No Prize for submitting the TITLE, AUTHOR’s NAME, BLURN of less than 100 words, and AMAZON LINK to book.plug.friday@gmail.com. Tell all your friends, let’s see if we can keep the run going.

Well, okay, except for one. If your blurb looks a little abbreviated (by which I mean massively cut) you’ll know who you are.

Remember, send your entries to book.plug.friday@gmail.com. In return you’ll receive your very own copy of the guidelines for submission.


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SKORPIO
By Mike Baron

Vaughan Beadles, Professor of Anthropology at toney Creighton University, is on top of the world. Married to the beautiful Betty, Beadles has just taken possession of the largest uncatalogued Amerindian collection in the US. For years Beadles has theorized that the previously unknown Azuma were among the conquistadors’ first encounters. But when one of Beadles’ students dies from a scorpion sting his world comes crashing down. Betty leaves him and the University charges him with grand larceny and manslaughter.

Beadles’ only hope for redemption is to prove the Azuma were real and find the epicenter of their civilization, a journey that takes him from Illinois to Arizona and a fateful encounter with a monster literally from his own nightmares.


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Monster Story
By McCarty Griffin

After years of self-imposed exile, Christy McCauley finally returns home, unaware that the hollows of rural Augusta County where she grew up have become the hunting grounds for an unknown creature that has authorities baffled as it grows ever bolder and more savage. When Christy finds herself caught in the beast’s path, she must choose between fleeing her home to save her own life or standing her ground, and with the help of her friends, hunting down the predator before it kills again.


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Half-Inch
By McCarty Griffin

On a lovely spring day in April, he finally pushes her that tiny bit too far and she snaps. Deep within her, a cold, cruel voice she barely recognizes as her own pronounces those fateful words, “I’m going to kill you, Bobby Hilts.” Ride the crazy train along with Pammy as she gleefully plots her soon-to-be ex’s demise and the diabolical means that ensure that his body will never be found.


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ELSINORE CANYON
By “J.M.”

Madness, morality, murder, revenge, and unrequited love: A modern take on Shakespeare’s Hamlet, suitable for adults and older teens.


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Gods and The City
By Steve Statham

For a thousand years, the new gods of mankind have protected the remnants of humanity. Reduced to a handful of survivors after a devastating alien invasion, a desperate human race accepted these gods as defenders against the terrors of a hostile universe. But when the greatest of man’s redoubts, The City, is assaulted by a power rivaling even that of the guardian god, the burden of protecting mankind’s future will fall to others. And what can mere men and women do against forces that can reshape and manipulate the universe itself?


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The Morning Which Breaks (Loralynn Kennakris #2)
By Jordan Leah Hunter & Owen R. O’Neill

For eight years, Kris was the property of a brutal slaver captain.
Now she’s free and a cadet at the League’s military academy. All she brings
to this new life is a unique set of skills, a profound ignorance of
‘civilized’ society, and a large chip on her shoulder.

But if Kris isn’t quite sure what to make of the Academy, the Academy isn’t
at all sure what to make of her. The medical staff thinks she’s homicidal,
her fellow cadets think she’s crazy, and her instructors don’t know what to
think.

So when she’s asked to help capture a terrorist warlord, she’s more than
happy to leave the halls of academia behind for awhile. Kris knows she’s not
signing up for any pleasure cruise. What she doesn’t know is that the key to
the mission’s success is reliving her very worst nightmare . . .


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Urdaisunia
By Kyra Halland

Urdaisunia, once favored by the gods above all other lands, now lies defeated and in ruins. The gods, displeased by the Urdais’ weakness, have turned their backs on the land and left it to die.

Rashali, a widowed Urdai peasant, has vowed to destroy the conquering Sazars and restore Urdaisunia to greatness, but her people are too broken by famine, plague, and poverty to fight.

Prince Eruz, heir to the Sazar throne, is driven by his conscience to do what is best for all the people of Urdaisunia, Urdai and Sazar alike. His father the King views his concern for the Urdai as an unforgivable weakness, and Eruz must walk a dangerous line between loyalty and treason to do what he believes is right.

When Rashali and Eruz meet by chance, the gods take notice. As Rashali struggles to find a way to free her people and Eruz risks all to bring peace to the land, a divine wager sends peasant and prince on intertwining paths of danger, love, and war in their fight to save the land they both love – Urdaisunia.


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Across Four Realms
By James Young and Anita C Young

Across Four Realms is a collection of short stories that introduces the reader to four disparate universes, with the sole constant that chaos knows no boundaries…and pain is a companion to all.

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Lies, d*mn lies and publishing

Friday, August 22nd, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
This is not the tsunami you're looking for.

This is not the tsunami you’re looking for. 

It never fails. (Sarah here.)  I find myself on some forum with traditionally, indie and hybrid authors, and someone brings out two old canards:

1-      You’ll never get there by your wits alone.  I.e. indie is all very well, if you want to sell a 100 copies of your precious little effort, but to make the big bucks you need traditional publishing.

2-      Indie publishing is submerged in the proverbial tsunami of cr*p.

Do I need to tell you that not only neither of these are true, but that they’re almost the opposite.

Yes, you can do very well financially from indie.  And I’m not talking the big name cases like Amanda Hocking, or Hugh Howey.   No, everyday people who have been publishing indie for five years or so and do well enough to make six figures and are considering quitting their job.  This might seem like nothing to you, if you think that every traditionally published author plays poker with Stephen King and has his own swimming pool filled with gold coins, like Uncle Scrooge, but “making a living from writing” has been impossible for most writers for the last forty or fifty years.  Ten years ago the average income from writing of the members of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America was five thousand dollars a year.  And most people in the professional organization made less than that.  (And it’s probably worse now.)

What about the tsunami of cr*p, then?

This rings true, especially to many writers, because, well… we’ve most of us had to read for contests, or even have downloaded ebooks that are appalling.

But is there a tsunami?

I can tell you that whatever it was, tsunami or gentle rain storm, it was much worse back when ebooks started.  Either I’ve got better at picking books, or the really seriously bad ones have given up and gone home. And I think a lot of them have.  The people putting up a book in hopes of being millionaires tomorrow get disappointed and stop writing.

There is another factor too.  Almost every hopeless “die trying” case of wanting to write I’ve ever met doesn’t want to go indie.  They want validation and “books on the shelves” and to do the morning talk shows and…  In fact in the indie versus traditional battles they’re the loudest pro-traditional voices.  Hope springs eternal, I guess, and it prevents their ever coming to grips with their shortcomings.

Mind you, there are plenty of awful books out there.  I just returned one to Amazon, something I don’t remember doing with a free book, ever.

First, the main character had gender dysfunction issues he didn’t seem aware of. As in, I was in the head of a six foot something male and he was reacting/thinking/viewing people as though he were a small female. This is something that can/does happen when women write first person (or third person close in) males. Yes, it’s worse than men writing females, because then she just comes across “Strong” and “independent” because she’s not afraid to be out at night. But a tall, strong man doesn’t go all feely over “there’s a knot of people ahead. Oh, my, are they aggressive?” unless he’s wounded or otherwise incapacitated.

Second – I thought “maybe the character is a very swishy gay male. Whatever.” BUT it kept pulling me out. I kept seeing a petite female and then being told this was a male.

Third- the knot of people turned out to be a “disturbance”. There’s a man screaming at someone else in a square in Regency England. A guardsman shoots him, and then says “He was just a peasant” and there’s no consequences. France, before the revolution? Sure. England in the Regency? No. Yeah, it could happen in a riot, but if the guard weren’t lynched, he’d be tried. I thought “Oh, boy, someone read too much Marxist theory and knows no real history” but kept reading.

Fourth-The man goes in and has a pointless discussion with the alleged villain in which they explain all the social rules of Regency England and half of them are WRONG or at least the writer has no clue what she’s trying to explain having got the smell but not the taste of the thing.

Fifth- Our hero goes home. There’s a woman (ravishing, natch) waiting in his rooms and she makes sweet sweet love to him. Look, it’s not even the “why would she” it’s the SHE made love to him. I.e. he was utterly passive in a way I’d find hard to believe for most women, and I don’t think the most passive of men can be. The book got deleted.

Yes, yes, it was an indie book.

Now the kicker and the chaser. THE KICKER: it was an indie book republished by the author AFTER rights reverted from…. drumroll … Berkley Prime Crime. THE CHASER: It’s third for historical mystery and VERY high for historical romance.

This brings me to my final point: Look, we’re in unknown territory here.  For longer than any of us has been alive, the publishing houses have been publishing not what sold (if they even knew what that was, through their arcane accounting system) but two things: the correct politics and something to impress their colleagues.  So we got leftist litrachure.

We also got a whole bunch of things that editors decided was “good” and lost a lot of things they decided was “bad.”  When indie started, despite the fact that most golden age sf/f was first-person, the publishers were well on their way to banning first person.  Other things have been banned that were part of the story teller’s art forever: omniscient viewpoint, male action heroes, things that have nothing to do with quality but with the echo chamber of NYC publishing.

And what we’re finding with indie is that those often sell.  Because we’ve been trained in a certain type of market/storytelling, they often strike us as bad, but the public likes them.

So, if you’re a writer, indie or not?  Try things.  Your first book probably won’t sell a lot, but keep writing.  In indie, there’s a virtue in volume.  I hear there’s a huge increase in all numbers after your fourth indie novel.  Just get it out there. Write the best you can, and put it up.  If this is what you want to do, strive to improve and don’t lose faith.

Go indie, young man, go indie.


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Crawling Between Heaven And Earth
By Sarah A Hoyt

Only 99¢ through tomorrow.

A collection of short stories by Prometheus Award Winner Sarah A. Hoyt. The first edition of this collection was published by Dark Regions Press in paper, only. This updated edition contains two bonus short stories: High Stakes and Sweet Alice.
It also contains the stories: Elvis Died for Your Sins; Like Dreams Of Waking; Ariadne’s Skein;Thirst;Dear John;Trafalgar Square;The Green Bay Tree; Another George; Songs;Thy Vain Worlds;Crawling Between Heaven and Earth


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Trophies of War
By Christopher Remy

Fighting in over 100 countries.

Economies shattered, empires dissolved.

More than 60 million dead.

The Second World War was the most destructive conflict in human history, but it was more than just a battle of ideologies and nations—it was a war on culture. As they marched across the continent, Hitler and the Nazis looted the art of occupied Europe for the glory of the Thousand Year Reich as well as their own personal collections. Many artworks are still missing today, while others are the subjects of modern treasure hunts as survivors seek to bring their property home.

In Trophies of War, David Lyon discovers a family mystery in his mother’s basement that takes him across a former war zone where the secrets of the 1940s—and those who would do anything to keep them hidden—are still alive today.


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Portals of Infinity: Book One: Champion for Hire
By John Van Stry

William is just your typical engineer fresh out of college with a stressful job, a boring life, and not a lot of prospects of anything better in the future.

Until one weekend while hiking in the woods he stumbles across a portal to another time, or perhaps another place. The more he investigates this new world the more he realizes that it may just be able to offer him a lot more than the one he’s been living in.

However, there are forces at work beyond anything that Will has ever come across before and the local Goddess seems to have taken a liking to him. Will may soon find himself getting an offer he cannot afford to refuse.


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Genesis (Idolatry Book 1)
By Quent Cordair

In the twilight of the Roman Empire, a sculptor struggles to keep an 800-year dream alive while honoring the love of his life and raising his adoptive son. Part I of the *Idolatry* series, an epic story in five parts.


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Marie’s Tale
By Alma T.C. Boykin

Duchess Marie von Starland, wife of the great Aquila von Starland, mother of Princess Miranda Sobieski, tells her side of the story of the war against the Turkowi and the Siege of Vindobona.


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The Warrior and the Holy Man
By Kyra Halland

The Path of Haveshi Yellowcrow: When ill fortune strikes Haveshi’s clan, the remedy is devastating for the young wife and mother. Guided by the Yellowcrow, god of the forsaken, she sets out on a path to regain what she lost.

The Path of Latan the Clerk: Latan, a lowly clerk in service to the magical Source Tiati, has discovered a historical document of great importance, and is summoned to present his findings to the high priest of the Empire. Accompanied by the warrior named Haveshi Yellowcrow, he embarks on the journey of a lifetime and finds unexpected danger and self-discovery.

A novella-length duology set in the world of Chosen of Azara.


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Stories from Arisa – A Short Story Collection
By Davis Ashura

Arisa: a world of loss and hardship; of legend and wonder; the world of A Warrior’s Path. Return there now with Stories from Arisa, a short story collection featuring four wonderful new fables from that mythic place; each one a polished gem; together, an assemblage spanning the realms of hope, humor, tragedy, loss, and love.

Stories: Received Wisdom, The Prank, A Lesson Learned, The Missing Diamond

Also included are the prologue and chapter 1 of A Warrior’s Knowledge, Volume Two of The Castes and the OutCastes.


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Bloody Eden
By T.L. Knighton

Ten years after a nuclear war forced Jason Calvin to fight his way across Georgia and through a brutal warlord, life has settled down a bit in a town called New Eden. As the town sheriff, Jason keeps the peace.

After saving a family from a horrible fate, that peace becomes threatened when a sadistic military man shows up, claiming the family are fugitives from his draconian justice system and they’re coming back whether anyone in New Eden likes it or not…and maybe some of New Eden’s own as well.

Unfortunately for him, Jason isn’t about to just let something like that go.


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The Pericles Conspiracy
By Michael Kingswood

99¢ through the weekend.

Josephine Ishikawa’s last shift as Captain of the starliner Pericles changed the course of history, but no one knows about it. The powers that be took charge as soon as she got back to Earth, with only a select few permitted to learn about the beings she encountered during the run from Gliese, or the eggs they entrusted to her care.

Satisfied that the government would make good on her commitment to return the eggs home, Jo returned to her job of getting Pericles through a major maintenance overhaul and then back out to the stars. But when she learns that the authorities reneged and have begun experimenting on the eggs instead, she faces a difficult choice: keep the life and career she loves or embark on a quest to rescue the eggs and keep the promise she made to their dying parents, out in the depths of space. That quest could cost her more than she ever imagined as it plunges her into a shadow war against a planetary government that will stop at nothing to keep its secrets.

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How to Be A Special Snowflake (Who No One Reads)

Friday, August 15th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin

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Ladies, gentlemen and writers, this is Sarah speaking, and today I’m really, really, really myself.  I have, in fact, allowed myself to fall under my own influence. You may blame it on Pat Richardson who, under the amiable illusion that my blood pressure was too low, sent me the following article: Why I Will Never Self-Publish.

Now, first of all, I have to confess I looked at the title in wonder and puzzlement because I’ve been a professional in this field for going on sixteen years, and all along I’ve stuck to the principle I first heard from Kevin J. Anderson at a Pikes Peak Writer’s Conference around 1998 or so, which was “Sure, I can do that.”  In the ever-changing publishing landscape, I’ve seen arguably more prolific, harder working and far more talented people become lost along the way all for lack of “Sure, I can do that.”

I had a friend who refused her first contract for a YA series in England, because her lawyer said not to take the perfectly normal clause in the contract.  (Yes, I know, but back then the contracts weren’t even that bad.)  She didn’t get a second opinion.  She waited for the better contract that never came.  I’ve had friends who stopped writing because their advances weren’t increasing, friends who refused to write original mass market paperbacks, and friends who refused to write different series/short stories/other characters/different genres.

Sometimes you get lucky when you do that, but most of the time you just get abruptly retired.

But I thought, well, maybe this person is just under-informed.  After all, five years ago I’d have said the same thing, because my image of self publishing was Publish America or worse.  Yes, yes, in the days of Hugh Howey and after Amanda Hocking there is no excuse for that, but who knows?  Maybe he hasn’t heard that indie is viable and a perfectly respectable avenue for writers these days.  There’s no shame in indie, there’s shame in not selling.

And I’ll also confess I wouldn’t bother eviscerating this blog post, except that lately I’ve run into a number of people with the exact same ideas who will look down on those of us who write for a living.

So I started reading.

I sold my first novel to Unbridled Books without an agent and then, at my book release party at Watermark Books, during the Q&A section, someone asked me why I had self-published. I was crushed. I’d spent two years writing and rewriting the book, another six years trying to find an agent before giving up and submitting it to a few small presses.

Oh. Oh! You sold your book to Unbridled Books, did you?  Which is, exactly what? And you’re surprised people thought you self published?  And you had a … release party?

At this point it became obvious to me that I was in the presence of that ubiquitous creature in writing circles: the precious flower.

The precious flower is convinced his efforts at putting wordage on paper are going to make the world bow to him and explain their lives were empty – empty – until he came along.

The precious flower will clutch at a publisher like Unchained Unknown Unbridled Books rather than face the big, cold world alone, because, well, they’re a real publisher and they’ll do wonderful things for him.

The truth is, if he took two years to write his first novel, and six years to shop it around without (I presume) writing a second novel, the bigger publishers couldn’t have done anything with him, other than perhaps put him in the literary and little niche which doesn’t sell.  Rightly, wrongly or confusedly, to maintain a career as a traditionally published writer, you needed to have a book every year.  (Indie likes them rather more frequently.)

….Invariably there are the same old comments about keeping all my rights and getting to keep more of the money from sales. There have even been a few who have taken the semi-business based, utilitarian approach – just put your “product” out there and see if people will buy it. Most of the time, I let it slide because, frankly, I don’t have the energy to explain the publishing world to them, nor the difference between a utilitarian object – something used to accomplish other tasks and that has an objective, determinate value – and an object of art – something that is experienced for its own sake and has a subjective, indeterminate value.

Oh, my. You can’t explain the publishing world to them?  Dear ducky, you wouldn’t know the publishing world if it bit you really hard in the fleshy part of the buttocks.

The publishing world does make interesting noises like those you are making about Objects d’Art and “literachure” but in fact it runs on two things: prestige and cold hard cash. For prestige you need to be something special: a celebrity in another field; someone with an interesting life story or a particularly fascinating job. I see no evidence that you are any of these. And if you’re not going to be a prized status author, then you are there to make money. And if your book Object d’Art doesn’t make the house a sh*tton of money, they’re simply going to drop you after one book.  The value is neither subjective nor indeterminate.  Your book is worth what someone is willing to pay for it, and that’s not only true for the person paying the cost of a good carton of beer for it, but even more so to the publishers.

But I’m going to give it a shot now because, honestly, some people just won’t shut up about it. So, here it goes. First with the obvious: When a writer decides to self-publish, that writer then stops being a writer and becomes a publisher, which requires an entirely different skill set . . . and money.

largest publisher in the world, a small independent like my publisher, Unbridled Books, or Bob, from next door:

1) Editing and Proofreading
2) Book Design (yes, it’s even needed for ebooks)
3) Printing (optional if only doing ebooks)
4) Marketing and Publicity

And now I can’t read anymore.  You have just proven, dear ducky, that you know absolutely nothing about how the publishing world works.

1)      Editing and proofreading – at most publishing houses (I worked for a lot of them, and Baen is the only exception so far) the only person who ever reads your book start to finish is the copyeditor.  And most copyeditors, at least those I used to get at those other publishing houses, were recent high school graduates who knew less grammar, composition and style than I did.  For the love of … duckies… hire one of those.  Ten bucks and all the pizza she can eat ought to do it.  Or pay a real copyeditor. I recommend Jason Dycks though I’ll be danged if I can find his address right now, who does a better job than any of the “professionals” at the big houses. I think – and he can correct me in comments if I’m wrong, he will do your average sized novel for $500. Or you could, if you need more substantial editing, hire Pat Richardson who will even undertake some structural edits and will probably not cost you more than $1000.

2)      Book design – yes, we DO know it’s needed even for ebooks.  You could do worse than hiring Cedar Sanderson to do your cover design and she will hook you up with decent art, too, at a modest cost, the cost for the total package, purchased art + design being around $500 unless you really drive her insane. In traditional publishing houses, this usually defaults to a junior assistant, who gets some guidance from the art director.  I doubt that Unobtrusive Unbridled Books is hiring a top-of-the-field cover designer for you.  Most of the freelancers working for small press imbue their books with “literary and little” kind of clues that will ensure you never sell.  Oh, and most of them work for between $250 and $500.

3)      Printing.  Um… indeed.  But you do know that printing is only part of the package, right?  The real service of the big publishers is distribution.  And frankly they only really exert themselves for the darlings.  Mostly midlisters (which, trust me, is what you’d be) get hit or miss placement on store shelves.  Yes, that’s better than nothing.  And that’s better than Unfound Unbridled Books can do for you. If you go with a small or medium publisher, mostly you’re going to be stocked in a few small independent bookstores where, if you’re lucky, the publisher has contacts, or you’ll sell through Amazon.  For this, you can have your book on print on demand on Create Space for the grand total of zero.  And even technically illiterate me has learned to typeset books in three hours or so.

4)      Marketing and publicity.  Oh, doctor, really, it only hurts when I laugh.  Marketing and publicity!

I get some – not tons – from Baen (Not complaining.  It’s more than I got elsewhere.)  But for most publishers?  Ah!  Unless you’re the movie star du jour who just “co-wrote” a book, these days your marketing and publicity run something like “Will be listed in your catalogue.”  If you’re really lucky you’ll be part of a mass ad in some trade publication.

Most publishers and agents expect you to do your own marketing, anything from a blog/FB page, to your own self-paid tour.

Any substantive marketing from a publishing house other-than-Baen is pretty much an illusion designed to keep the writer happy.

And those are your reasons for not being self-published?  My dear Petunia, it’s time to wake up and smell the roses.  Come down off that unsteady pedestal you built out of your own ignorance and some really convincing cardboard boxes, and look around.

No, the world isn’t going to stop for your masterpiece, even if it really is a masterpiece – I don’t know.  It might be – and it’s not because most people are jealous of your genius.  Most people don’t know you exist. And that’s ultimately your problem.

If you write a book a year for a traditional publisher and make it good and it sells enough for them to keep buying you, your audience will grow.  Or if you write a book every six months for indie, and invest a very little, you could make a living in a couple of years.

Or you can continue being certain of your superiority and make nothing.

The choice is entirely yours.  Just remember if Shakespeare had written Object’s d’Art of indeterminate value, right now we’d consider Kit Marlowe the most important Elizabethan Playwright. Instead, old Will gave them what they wanted and plenty of it, with the funny bit with the man and the dog thrown in.  And centuries later we can ascertain that he did touch enough of eternal humanity for us to consider his books object’s d’art.

The rest, all the rest – your pride, your moral superiority, your ignorance about how publishing works or what the value is… is so much sound and fury.  Signifying nothing.

[Charlie now.]

Dear Precious,

You’re clearly an example of why MFA graduates aren’t hired for accounting jobs. Sarah, I think, has already soundly skewered your pretentious academic notions, so let’s just look at your arithmetic.  We’ll take as given your numbers — though I know some top New York copy-editors and they don’t get $40 an hour, you must put me in touch with that company.  But observe:

In this model, using the Scribe Freelance’s in-house editor, you can save some money, but it looks like you won’t get to choose your editor. I prefer to have a personal relationship with my editor, so I’d go with a separate freelance editor whose references and work I could look up and I’d end up spending the following:
$1,640 +$375 + $250 = $2,265

Now, I’m involved with some self-publishing, and I can tell you there are lots of people writing lots of things they self-publish for one helluva lot less than $2300, but as I say, take that as given, and let’s assume you were to publish it as an ebook at Amazon’s upper limit for the good royalties, $9.95.  You’d then make about $7 a book, which means you need to sell about 315 books to break even.

If you have a conventional publishing contract, you get a 25 percent royalty on ebook sales, and perhaps 10 percent on hardcover.  Let’s keep looking just at ebooks.  Whatever your publisher’s costs, we know they’re less than that $2300 — plus any promotion you get, but I haven’t noticed your name on any book tours recently — because the prices you quoted are all for contract labor. Those people have to charge more for each job to account for the risk they won’t have a job this week. For those services, you’re paying $4.48 per book.

Sell 314, and you are paying $1406 for that and netting $781. Sell 628, and you’re paying $2812. Sell 942, and you’re paying $4418.

Sell 2000 and you’re paying damn near ten grand.

What you’re really telling us is that you’re not a professional writer; you either have no actual pretensions of ever making a living from your writing, or you haven’t done the arithmetic. Writing is a hobby, and by refusing to self-publish, you’re paying even more than a “vanity press” would charge you for the privilege.


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The Alecto Initiative
By Jordan Leah Hunter and Owen R. O’Neill 

Life was never easy out in the Methuselah Cluster, but when her alcoholic father found her a ‘job’ while he went off-planet to look for ‘work’, 11-year-old Loralynn Kennakris began to learn just how ugly it could get. Within a year, her employers sold her to a brutal slaver captain, who took from her the last thing she owned: her name.

Most girls in Kris’s position last a year or two. The strong ones might last four. Kris survived eight before she was set free, thanks to the League Navy.

Unfortunately, eight years growing up in hell prepared Kris for nearly everything but freedom, and her new life isn’t at all what she imagined. Not only must she find her way in a bewildering society full of bizarre rules, but the very people who rescued her think she’s a terrorist plant, a beautiful interstellar celebrity is complicating matters in more ways than one . . . and now someone is trying to kill her.

But Kris hasn’t stayed alive by obeying rules, and her adopted society is about to find out what it’s like to collide with someone with no concept of a no-win scenario.


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Climbing Olympus
By Daniel Golliher 

Until now, humanity’s potential has been limited by its physical capability: of its body and its brain. In the middle of the twenty-first century, the mind itself is upgraded.

Three individuals hold humanity’s next stage in their hands:

Nikolas Rodrick, CEO of Rodrick Industries, oversees the largest corporate empire in the world. Grace Taylor holds the Earth casually on her shoulders as the aide-de-camp to Rodrick Industries. Both change when they meet Leo Apollus. Leo loves humanity, and sees its proper end above the clouds. Along with Grace and Rodrick, he takes it there.


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Sarya’s Song
By Kyra Halland 

Sarya dyr-Rusac has risen from her destitute childhood to become a respected arranger of musical magic rituals – until a wedding ritual she wrote results in tragedy. In exile for her failure, she hears powerful new music in the wind, heralding natural disasters like none ever before known. In hopes of learning what this strange new power is and finding a way to end the disasters, she returns to the musical service she left in disgrace.

There, she confronts the mistakes she made in the past and resumes her complicated relationship with the gloriously talented singer Adan Muari. Sarya believes that she and the wealthy, privileged Adan can have no place in each other’s lives. But, facing official resistance to her research and threatened by someone who is desperate to protect the secret of the mysterious music, she finds herself relying on Adan’s unwavering support – and increasingly unable to fight her attraction to him.

As the disasters worsen, a beautiful, nameless man in chains appears in Sarya’s dreams, begging her to sing the music she heard in the wind: the music that will free him. He could be a god with the power to save the world from destruction, or a threat to everything she knows and loves. With time running out, Sarya risks all, including her growing bond with Adan, to discover the chained man’s identity and the meaning of his song before the world itself is torn apart.


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LOVE in the DARK
By Isabel Pietri 

NYPD surveillance expert, Detective Millie Angeles has made a name for herself working in the elite TARU unit of the New York Police Department as the go-to girl for surveillance and tracking. However, when tragedy occurs, she finds herself casting about for a new chapter. That all falls into place when she lands a job at a private company, which dispatches her to the West Coast to work for Adrian Zaragosa, a blind, and strikingly handsome owner of a winery estate in the Napa Valley. As the plot thickens and their passion sparks, Millie finds herself in the throes of both extreme danger and overpowering desire. Millie’s talents seem to be just what Adrian needs. Or is he simply manipulating a situation to have her near?

A romantic thriller for mature adults only, please.

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Indie Author Experience: Mark Wandrey

Friday, August 8th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin

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[Charlie here: Today we have a guest post by Mark Wandrey, who we often plug on BPF. ]

Sixteen years ago while watching an episode of Stargate SG-1, I thought they were seriously under-utilizing their universe. Here was a galaxy-spanning transportation network and the galaxy is populated by… humans. Sure, from the production standpoint of a TV show, having an alien a week was simply far beyond what could be afforded. Even Trek handled this mostly with a prosthetic head application here and there, and skin paint. Lots, and lots of skin paint.

Anyway that thought was filed away for later consideration. As any writer quickly learns, there is a big difference between an observation and an idea. But some time later I was re-reading a favorite of mine, Ender’s Game. The protagonist is a young child, plucked from his environment, who grows even at a young age to be a powerful war leader. Then in later books, the writer proceeds to spend untold thousands of words trying to apologize for what Ender does in the first book.

Such is the decision of a writer. Rather like a role playing GM; your game, your call. But it got me thinking. What if there was no apology? What if that kid became a legendary leader, and didn’t look back? Now I had something, and then I remembered the Stargate theme. It’s not like portals to the stars are anything new. Everyone from Carl Sagan to Robert A. Heinlein have used them. They’re not as common in hard/military sci-fi as space ships, but if you want to go to other planets you have to have a way to get there, and dimensional portals are a damned fast way of getting there!

Up until a short time before these ideas occurred I’d only really written short stories. Tons of short stories. They’re generally easier in execution than a novel. Oh, not easy! Shorts have their own issues, and they can drive a writer nuts in short order. You have to do a lot in only a few thousand words. But when you get into novels, you commit to a vast canvas. And the bigger the canvas, the easier to miss things.

The first novel I wrote front-to-back was a book about the colonization of Mars. Also motivated by what others did (wrong in my opinion), I was tired of every trip-to-Mars book being filled with aliens, and endless disasters. So I wrote about a guy running a project to both travel to Mars, and colonize it. That novel still sits in a hard drive, and may well forever (it’s horribly out of date now among other problems) but it was about 100k words of work that I hadn’t thought I could do, so this new idea wasn’t impossible.

Armed with a setting (galaxy full of aliens and intergalactic portals), and a basic plot (young person becomes warrior leader), I set out to put electrons in order. And that was the beginning of the Earth Song series. But it didn’t start as Earth Song, or even a series!

I wrote the original book, The Avatar’s Overture, in less than a year at lunch each day while working nights. With the basics of an idea, it came out fast. As often happens with a writer, it wasn’t what I’d originally thought. There was a galaxy of aliens out there, there were portals, and a protagonist. But she wasn’t young, and not a war leader. And I up and destroyed the whole planet. It was a good stand alone story, but that was it.

I knew the chances for a publisher to buy an unknowns book, especially a rather large one (160k). But I fished around, with the expected results. So, I figured WTF, and went self pub. But this was before the days of POD (print on demand) changed the world. I went with a company that’s still around, called Authorhouse. Pay them, and they make it available. I did, they did, and sold a few books. The internet wasn’t what it is now too, so without stacks of cash I was very limited in my ability to promote. It went nowhere, and I move on.

Then about 6 years ago, I revisited the world of the ‘Avatars’. Because a guy named Cameron was coming out with a movie called Avatar. Crap. If it couldn’t get worse, it was also sci-fi (albeit badly written sci-fi). But again, it got me thinking about that book, and the original idea. The thought struck one night. “What if that was just the prologue to  a vast saga?”

As is often my style, I started writing before I’d fully formed an idea. But within a few chapters, I knew I’d hit on something. The descendant of that first heroine, many centuries later, earth long dead, and now they meet the aliens. Lots of aliens. Lots of aliens that don’t like us. Lots of aliens with better technology. But the galaxy is also in decay, decadent, falling apart.

As I wrote more and more pieces came into focus. This is a trilogy, I realized. But by the time I finished the book (2nd in the series), I knew it was a lot more than three books. Probably five. As I’ve written it went to six, and now seven. The galaxy got more and more crowded. Plots began to evolve, and motivations (both hidden and obvious) materialized. There was stuff going on I had no idea what I would do with later, just wrote it anyway.

With the 2nd book done, I went back and fixed the 1st. It had to be a clear series now, so I repaired some bad writing and some glaring plot holes, and brought it into the modern realm of a series launching book. I actually almost trashed it entirely, just leaving it as an unmentioned prologue of sorts, but friends convinced me otherwise. They said; “Overture is a good book by itself”. Overture. Well, that was the basis of the name. Dump the Avatar crap. More editing. But a series needs a title. “Overture” is a musical term for the beginning of a much larger movement. The second book takes place in humanities new home, Gamma Orionis. The title would be Sonata in Orionis. Another musical term. And now I had a series title, Earth Song.

As the second book launched and the first book relaunched, this time on Amazon’s Createspace, I set to work doing what I didn’t do nearly as well last time, and what wasn’t really that possible. I started building a web presence online. I use Facebook almost exclusively (to my detriment maybe). But even an indie has to have time to write, so if I’m on Facebook, twitter, G+, etc. all the time, when can I write?

The presence building has been a careful combination of cultivating fans I gathered from new sales (not a lot, but they started coming in), people I came across from wandering other writers pages (avoid plugging your stuff on other writers walls, it tends to piss them off), and building writers pages on Goodreads, Amazon, etc. I also never pass up an opportunity to write a bit for someone else (like this) and to self promote.

Next came conventions. And THAT can be a double edge sword. They’re expensive (even if you do them on the cheap), and as an indie you have to buy boxes of your own books to sell. I invested in some advertising, cards, flyers, and a nice banner that came from the cover to my third book (getting good cover art as an indie is a must). These are things you just have to do. If you show up at a con, buy a table, and just sit a couple books there, no one will even slow down. Put a nice looking book there, at a 6 foot banner with nice graphics, and they’ll slow down. If they slow down, they might look at a book. If they look at a book, they might buy it. And you get a sale! Indies make it one sale at a time.

And this is where I advise against eBook only. Yes, it’s easier. Yes, it’s cheaper. Yes, it’s also often a lot faster. But dead trees will be popular for a long time to come. I sell almost as many hard copies as eBooks.

So here I am now, 15 years after the adventure began, and the 3rd book in the series (The Lost Aria) is about to come out. I’ve been done with the 4th book for over a year (Etude to War), and am about ¼ of the way through the 5th book (Nocturne’s Reckoning). Promotion has become a lot of my online time, but when the eBook of Aria went live this week, I instantly saw sales. It came up a few days early (by mistake), and I looked at their tracking information and was surprised to see a bunch of sales. And this one was priced at $5.99. Remember, if you have a series, resist the urge to go for the money and reduce the older ones in steps. My first book is now only $0.99 (I barely make anything on each sale), the 2nd is $2.99, and the third $5.99. You’ve got to make that first taste cheap. Almost anyone will pop $0.99 for an eBook. I have fans that buy a half dozen a week just looking for that one good one.

I’ve been ordering paper copies of Aria for weeks, slowly building up inventory in prep of the 6/28 official launch (at Libertycon in Chattanooga). In the course of that, I put up on my blog a paypal button to preorder autographed copies. Sold quite a few of those as well. It’s beginning to develop momentum. Will I sell thousands? I really don’t know yet. Readers love a good long series with engaging characters and a dynamic story. That is my goal. So I will continue onward.

Oh, book 6 is titled Oblivions Waltz and book 7 Requiem, just in case it was eating you alive.


Remember, tell all your writer friends to send the AUTHOR, TITLE, a SHORT BLURB, and an AMAZON LINK AMAZON LINK AMAZON LINK to book.plug.friday@gmail.com to be plugged here on PJ Media.

It really helps if you don’t bother with HTML magic at all, because we just have to parse it apart to put it into the template. The ideal submission is like

TITLE

My Book

AUTHOR

My name as it's on the book cover.

AMAZON LINK

http://www.amazon.com/My-Book-By-Me/dp/B00ABCDEFG/

BLURB

no more than about 100 words.


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Meet Bri (Part Two)
By Lilith Revnik 

Free Friday 8/8 and Sunday 8/10Jerry is dead and Charlie’s in jail. Saul turned out to be a bigger jerk than she could have imagined–what else could go wrong?

Bri races back to Charlie’s side to find he’s more than her next boyfriend. He’s the man she’s meant to be with. But before she can marry Charlie, she needs to confront Saul. The only problem is–he’s dead, too. Coincidence, or are Bri and Charlie headed for more than a simple Key West honeymoon?

[Note: This is an erotic thriller. If you don't like erotica, it's not for you.]


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Lost Book of Anggird
By Kyra Halland 

Stodgy Professor Roric Rossony has been asked to find a way to stop the deterioration of the powerful magica. He hires Perarre Tabrano to translate books for his research, and finds his orderly existence turned upside down by his unexpected romance with her. Caught up in his new-found love and the most important work of his life, he goes too far in his search, delving into forbidden books hidden away for centuries. When the most dangerous book of all falls into the Professor’s hands, magical disaster strikes, and he and Perarre flee from the authorities in search of the secret of the magica’s origins, a journey that only their growing magical powers and their love for each other will help them survive.


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The Sky Suspended
By Laura Montgomery 

A generation has passed since asteroid scares led the United States to launch its first and only interstellar starship. The ship returns and announces the discovery of another Earth. People are star-struck, crowds form in Washington, DC, and a boy from Alaska and two lawyers grapple with questions surrounding whether ordinary people will emigrate to the stars.

This is bourgeois, legal science fiction with a hearty helping of space policy wonkery.

[I love the blurb. --C]


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Cities and Throngs and Power
By AUTHOR 

Which is stronger, love or honor?

The Collapse of 2015 left parts of Denver in ashes, the US economy in a mess, and the Salazar family with little besides their pride and honor. Now Alicia Salazar must repay her father’s debt by working in Illif House. She discovers a recluse, a wonder, too many tomatoes, and freedom. When Cousin Ernesto threatens to drag her away, Alicia must choose between freedom and honor. Will love and a Power prove stronger than lead and fury?

Novella includes bonus teaser.


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Cat’s Paw (King of Cats Book 1)
By Robert A. Hoyt 

Many humans know there is a mountain at the end of the universe to which a bird flies every thousand years to sharpen its beak, until the end of the mountain comes, and thus the end of eternity. What few of them know is that of the mountain only a few small grains of sand remain. And the bird that is to end eternity is alive and ready to fly. At half past noon at the end of the universe, the last great hopes of everything that exists, ever existed or has yet to exist, rests with a stray cat with alcohol issues, a Siamese cat with gender issues, and a Persian cat with pregnancy issues. Things are just about to get fun.

[Yes, those Hoyts. --C]


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A Touch of Night
By Sarah A. Hoyt 

PriDe and Prejudice – now with more dragons.

In a world where shape shifters are forbidden and being a shape shifter is forbidden, the Bennet family has a terrible secret. So does the Darcy family. They’re not what you expect.

Pride, Prejudice, werewolves and dragons, oh, my.


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The Kitsune Stratagem (Inari’s Children, Book 1)
By David A. Tatum 

The Inari’s Children Series: Once magic was plentiful and the world was dominated by a singular empire whose name has long been lost to history. In its time, the great wizard Inari developed his greatest creation: The kitsune. His enemies were quick to copy him, and soon the world was populated with many different types of this remarkable creature. Two thousand years later and these different breeds of kitsune are fighting amongst themselves, and the rest of the human world joins them.

Book I: The Kitsune Stratagem: To avoid being used as a political pawn against her father, a young kitsune vixen named Kieras must leave her homeland. She soon gets caught up in the fortunes of Mathis, a vagabond hunter from Ekholm, a once sleepy little town on the verge of becoming a small city. To find a way to return home, Kieras must first help Mathis save Ekholm from threats both inside and out.

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Why the Freed Tiger Sings

Friday, July 11th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
FREEDOM!

FREEDOM!

This is Sarah and I have a message for my friends and colleagues still trapped in and only in Traditional Publishing:

First of all, that moist stuff on the back of your neck?  I don’t care how often they tell you that, but that ain’t no gentle rain.

Look, people, you might choose to close your eyes, put your fingers in your ears, and believe that your publishers are your friends.  They’re not.

Oh, okay, perhaps a small exception can be made for Baen books, a small family run company that treats its authors like family.  The others?

They’ve made it very clear what you are.  Widgets.  Another can of beans.  Burn your career (snap of fingers.) No skin off their noses.  There are another ten saps, patsies, writers just like you in line waiting to break in.

I learned this lesson in 2003.

I first started to write when I came to the US in ’85.  It’s not the publishing industry’s fault I didn’t make it in earlier.  Oh, okay, fine, maybe it is a little, as barriers to entry had accumulated and the preferred method of selling by the time I broke in was to meet the editor and pitch in person.  It took me to ’98 to be able to do so.  One of the books (oh, heck, Darkship Thieves) I’d later publish had gone in the drawer by then because my agent (which I’d acquired by then, the first of four) didn’t want to send it out.

So in ’98 I pitched my Shakespeare trilogy on proposal. The first came out October 2001.

You might have heard of the little contretemps a month before.  I don’t know if you remember what you were doing then.  I do.  I was trying to finish the third book in the series only I was so anxious I could only work in front of the TV, with the news on.

No one was buying books. Some people might have been reading old favorites for comfort.

Of course the publishing industry knew this, right?  I mean, had to.  They are in NYC.

Of course – considering all the paeans we hear to how caring, how wonderful traditional publishing houses are – publishers accounted for this, and gave all those writers who were new and hadn’t sold any so well another chance, right?

Are you kidding me? Baby, Cold Equations and its strict calculations of mass and fuel didn’t have anything on the publishing industry. It had taken me almost twenty years to break in, hand over hand from pays in copies to penny mags, to finally professional shorts, to going to a workshop and selling my novel, to—

But you see, my book didn’t even get unpacked in most stores. It spent the entire time in a closet.  I know.  I tried to do drive by signings. And then it went back.

And at the 2003 World Fantasy, my editor attempted to fire me.  She had fired most of the people who came in that year by then.  I’ve never seen so many crying people, not even at my grandfather’s funeral.

Tried to fire me? Well, I refused to say fired, but that’s a story for another day.  For months after World Fantasy I thought I was fired, and that all the years of working and improving my craft meant nothing.  That I’d done it all for nothing, because events outside my control could kill my career forever.

Hey, readers, did you like Darkship Thieves? Consider I already had it in the drawer at that time. Imagine Baen hadn’t picked me up, and Berkley hadn’t decided they didn’t want to be left behind.  You’d never have read it.

Now think of all those Darkship Thieves, or perhaps better books, languishing in drawers.

Hey, you know who allows writers to put their work up, to let readers decide what they want to read?

Oh, that’s right, Amazon does.

Which is why SFWA is so grateful to Amazon hates Amazon with the fire of a thousand suns.

Wait, what? Isn’t SFWA supposed to be a writers organization?

Ah!  Fooled you, did they?

They’re not really, you know?  They’re an organization of the establishment and their main function is to keep the establishment going without change. Otherwise, explain to me letter the first, and letter the second, both supporting a publisher known for its numerous dirty tricks, while berating the people who would set them free.  (Or to quote my colleague Cedar Sanderson, F%$K me, SFWA, One More Time.

Oh, wait, I can explain it.  In a novel (Revolt in 2100 unless it’s the Benadryl speaking) Heinlein talks about a tiger who is set free but who still paces in the confines of imaginary bars.

Oh, yes, here it is:

“Please understand me-it is easy to be free when you have been brought up in freedom, it is not easy otherwise. A zoo tiger, escaped, will often slink back into the peace and security of his bars. If he can’t get back, they tell me he will pace back and forth within the limits of bars that are no longer there. The human mind is a tremendously complex thing; it has compartments in it that its owner himself does not suspect. I had thought that I had given my mind a thorough housecleaning already and had rid it of all the dirty superstitions I had been brought up to believe. I was learning that the ‘housecleaning’ had been no more than a matter of sweeping the dirt under the rugs-it would be years before the cleansing would be complete, before the clean air of reason blew through every room. “

Right now SFWA and those of you who agree with SFWA are that tiger. You’ve grown so used to and so comfy in your prison – treated like widgets, forced to do more and more of your publicity and even your editing, all for the princely fraction of profit you get of your books, and even in that scammed – that you’re afraid of the bars going down.  You’re afraid of being free.  Freedom is scary and cold. Or as the ever loving Grauniad  El Guardian tells us self-publishing is a reactionary activity and antithetical to community.

Oh sure, I have more colleagues I cooperate with, help and encourage than I did when I was strictly traditional, because there are no publishers playing mind games, and this is no longer a zero sum business. But never mind that.  It’s “anti-community” and you’re afraid of dying alone in the dark with no one to close your eyes. (You are aware, right, that your publisher would steal the sesterce from your eyes before you cooled. Never mind.)

Which brings us to my second point: You’re free. You’re not dependent on anyone to get your stories in front of the reading public. Whatever you want to imagine the bars are gone.

Get used to the scary now. Once you get over your fear you’ll realize you have control – real control not just doing all the work and being blamed for others’ mistakes and even for national tragedies – over your career for the first time in your life.

You’re free.  Surely you can get out of that cage at the computer and walk into your own career.

Do try. You’re letting the writer side down.

Even if you never came up against the “Writers are widgets” mentality, you are bound to, sooner or later. Because you see, in traditional publishing, you have no power. The publishers have all the power  When things get pinched, you’re out of there. They think they can replace you just like that.

Indie publishing is scary, but it’s also yours.  You do it, you take responsibility.  You reap the rewards.

I understand that freed slaves walked as far away as they could from their place of captivity, just in case someone changed his/her mind and enslaved them again.  Surely you can at least stop beating the companies that allow indie publishing long enough to start your own career.  All it requires is that you walk the road to freedom in your own mind.

Forget the Stockholm syndrome.  You’re free.  Act like it.


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Hunter’s Home
By Ellie Ferguson

They say you can never go home. That’s something CJ Reamer has long believed. So, when her father suddenly appears on her doorstep, demanding she return home to Montana to “do her duty”, she has other plans. Montana hasn’t been home for a long time, almost as long as Benjamin Franklin Reamer quit being her father. Dallas is now her home and it’s where her heart is. The only problem is her father doesn’t like taking “no” for an answer.

When her lover and mate is shot and she learns those responsible come from her birth pride and clan, CJ has no choice but to return to the home she left so long ago. At least she won’t be going alone. Clan alphas Matt and Finn Kincade aren’t about to take any risks where their friend is concerned. Nor is her mate, Rafe Walkinghorse, going to let her go without him.

Going home means digging up painful memories and family secrets. But will it also mean death – or worse – for CJ and her friends?


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Vengeance from Ashes
By Sam Schall

First, they took away her command. Then they took away her freedom. But they couldn’t take away her duty and honor. Now they want her back.

Captain Ashlyn Shaw has survived two years in a brutal military prison. Now those who betrayed her are offering the chance for freedom. All she has to do is trust them not to betray her and her people again. If she can do that, and if she can survive the war that looms on the horizon, she can reclaim her life and get the vengeance she’s dreamed of for so long.

But only if she can forget the betrayal and do her duty.


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Chosen of Azara
By Kyra Halland

Juzeva: Born a princess of the beautiful land of Savaru, dedicated to the service of the magical Source Azara, she is forced to marry a man she doesn’t know for the sake of her country’s survival, and finds herself trapped in a web of evil and betrayal…

Sevry: The last king of the war-ravaged land of Savaru, he is tasked by Azara with finding the secret that his aunt Juzeva carried with her when she disappeared – the secret that will bring Savaru back to life – and finds himself hounded by evil men who want to use that secret for their own terrible purposes…

Lucie: A pampered young noblewoman, haunted by visions of a desperate man, she is unaware of her true heritage and the power she holds to restore life to a long-dead land…

Then Sevry, Savaru’s past, and Juzeva’s secret catch up with Lucie, leading her to adventure, danger, and a love that will forever change her life and the lost land of Savaru.


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Wings
By Sarah A Hoyt

From Elizabethan England to the Far Future, discover who really was Shakespeare and why Marlowe was called The Muses Darling. Discover the horrifying secret that Leonardo DaVinci found beneath a cave in his home village. In the far future, find a new way to keep Traveling, Traveling. Use cold sleep to find your love again, and join the (high tech) Magical Legion.

Seventeen short stories from Prometheus Award Winning Author, Sarah A. Hoyt. This edition features an Introduction by Dave Freer and a Bonus Short Story “With Unconfined Wings.”


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Witchfinder (Magical Empires)
By Sarah A. Hoyt

In Avalon, where the world runs on magic, the king of Britannia appoints a witchfinder to rescue unfortunates with magical power from lands where magic is a capital crime. Or he did. But after the royal princess was kidnapped from her cradle twenty years ago, all travel to other universes has been forbidden, and the position of witchfinder abolished. Seraphim Ainsling, Duke of Darkwater, son of the last witchfinder, breaks the edict. He can’t simply let people die for lack of rescue. His stubborn compassion will bring him trouble and disgrace, turmoil and danger — and maybe, just maybe, the greatest reward of all.


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Elizabeth of Vindobona: Book Three in the Colplatschki Chronicles
By Alma T.C. Boykin

All’s unfair in love and politics.

Countess Colonel Elizabeth of Vindobona has fought against Frankonia and the Turkowi, faced down a heretic traitor, evaded the romantic attentions of the emperor’s brother, and rebuilt the estate of Donatello Bend. But Court politics prove too much even for her. Sent to the far end of the Empire, Elizabeth and her allies race to save the Empire when a surprise invasion puts all else to naught. Even if she succeeds, love may prove Elizabeth’s final undoing.

Fortune favors the bold—but gunpowder settles everything.


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The Grave Artist
By Paula Lynn Johnson

“Johnson presents a believable, multilayered heroine whose narration is lively and insightful . . . The action is brisk, with a surprising but believable twist near the end. Never stilted or clumsy, this debut novel reads like the work of a far more experienced writer.” – Kirkus Reviews

16-year-old Clare can’t stop drawing the bizarre, winged skulls she calls “Sammies”. Her psychiatrist assumes the compulsive drawings are just expressions of Clare’s grief over her father abandoning her. But then Clare discovers that her Sammies are exact matches for the Death’s Head on the grave of Samantha Forsythe, a teen who reportedly fell to her death over two centuries ago.

Before long, Clare’s drawings morph into cryptic writings that urge her to uncover the truth behind Samantha’s death. Together with Neil — the friend she might be falling for — Clare scours the local history for clues. She finds that, although Samantha was engaged to a wealthy landowner, there were whispered rumors of her involvement with a younger, biracial man.

Soon, Clare is haunted by disturbing dream images — a mysterious eye, a broken chain — that point to someone Samantha called her “Dearest”. But who is Dearest? And why does Samantha need Clare to find him so badly?

Isolated and carrying hidden scars of her own, Clare fears her obsession with Samantha will threaten her sanity and safety. But it seems she has no choice in the matter . . .

The Grave Artist is a compelling paranormal murder mystery and a poignant story about loss and what it means thrive in a less-than-perfect reality.


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Cold Trap
By Jon Waskan

Economic geologist Og Rowley knows Unity well. He helped design it. He led its first science team. And upon his return home, he looked forward to reuniting with gal pal Moochy and plucky protégé Sej, who were each completing Unity missions of their own. But when word arrives that Sej has vanished, NASA sends Og back to Unity to investigate, launching him headlong into a secret battle to thwart the global aspirations of the Sino-Russian Entente. As for Moochy, well she has a secret of her own, one that could unlock the mystery of complex life and even deliver up a key to the stars … if it doesn’t cause a mass extinction first.


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What the Deaf Mute Heard
By G.D. Gearino

When ten-year-old Sammy awakens in an empty bus after an overnight trip, it’s a moment of paralyzing disorientation: He doesn’t know where he is, his mother has disappeared, and he’s surrounded by strangers.

The town is Barrington, Georgia, and Sammy grows up there — never leaving the bus station, in fact — and almost three decades pass before he speaks another word. But the man who everyone in Barrington assumes is a deaf-mute handyman reveals the town’s secrets, and in the process learns the story of his own life.

The basis for the most popular television movie in a generation (not to mention the most-watched Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation in history), “What the Deaf-Mute Heard” is a tale that stays with you long after the last page is turned.


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Slow Death in the Fast Lane
By J.W. Kerwin

On the surface, Slow Death in the Fast Lane is a wildly entertaining story about an unconventional attorney who defends a client charged with criminal tax fraud by putting the IRS and America’s tax laws on trial. But underneath the fast action, quirky characters, and outrageous courtroom stunts is a scathing indictment of a federal agency that many believe has become far too powerful.

Although a work of fiction, the book reveals a number of IRS practices, including a little known sting operation targeting small businesses.

In the particularly entertaining chapter, “Dean Wormer must be running the IRS,” an expert witness uses the “double secret probation” scene from National Lampoon’s Animal House to explain why the Internal Revenue Code violates constitutionally mandated due process requirements.


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The Mystery of the Dying Woman
By Paul Leone

London, 1888 AD. Zillah Harvey came to the city to make a better living than the country could offer… but a brutal encounter on the streets of Whitechapel opens doorways to a new and sinister world. The first in an occasional series of Victorian occult detective stories.


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Trail of Second Chances
By Paul Duffau

A high-octane adventure on a wild Montana mountain as one girl finds herself racing for her life against a malignant fire. It should have been the highlight of the summer, a training camp for elite runners in the mountains of Montana. Coached by her father, and frustrated by his efforts to hold her back, Becca Hawthorne dreams of competing in the Olympics. She earned her chance to test herself against the best runners in the Pacific Northwest. But now she faces a tougher opponent than even the fastest girl. An action-filled roller coaster ride that keeps you turning the pages as the fire creeps closer.

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The Declaration of Independents

Saturday, July 5th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin

uc006330

“When in the course of human events….”

The funny thing about revolutions is that they don’t stop, even though there are always Tories who think things would be better done The Old Way. These words, 238 years ago, started a revolution that goes on today — a revolution of people who asserted their right to their own life, liberty and property.

For all the halting and inconsistent progress, this revolution continues — this week, there were demonstrations in Hong Kong demanding greater political freedom. In the Anglophone West, the revolutions are smaller, but happen every day: cell phones making us independent of the old Ma Bell, and independent even of wires; the Internet letting us contact people world wide in real time; the World Wide Web becoming the platform from which we do business with everyone from major corporations to a small-time craftsperson on e-Bay.

One of those revolutions is the e-publishing revolution: now we get our music, our news, and increasingly our books in the form of bits transferred over the Internet. In some ways, perhaps, the most exciting part of this revolution is the e-book publishing revolution: through Amazon (primarily) and the Kindle platform (again primarily) it has become possible for a writer to publish a book and make it available to an international audience without needing a publisher, or the limited and expensive resource of a printing plant and a distribution network.

(See, this is a Book Plug Friday column, even though it’s probably Saturday when you see it because that’s the way Thursday and Friday went; and this is Charlie, by the way. If you listen closely you can probably hear Sarah struggling against her bonds in the background.)

Even better than being able to be published, the e-book revolution has made it possible for writers to make a living by getting published, with everything from 99¢ thrillers to porn to science-fictional series that would be wrist-breaking volumes in physical realization.

This is really new, and as Sarah has been detailing for the last year, it’s causing consternation and dislocations that have been amazing to behold. Fiction had become, really, pretty limited — personally, I blame the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and MFA programs. We have been learning to see “good fiction” as approved fiction, and the approvers increasingly have seen themselves as an Elite, the Guardians of Proper Literature, with the Right Attitudes and the Politically Appropriate Opinions.

It hasn’t been quick, but it’s been amazingly thorough, and while it went on, we saw the death of many markets, especially for short fiction. The funny thing was that when there was a market for short fiction, it was publishing Hornblower, and Heinlein, and Agatha Christie — writers and characters we still read today. But as it became necessary to write serious IWW fiction to get published, it also became harder and harder to pay for a fiction magazine. By the time I was first trying to write fiction, there were probably at most a dozen commercial magazines that still published fiction, and usually one short story a month.

Strangest thing though — if you looked at the magazine stand, down a couple racks and to the left, there were another two dozen or more monthly “true confession” magazines that had pretty immense circulation. But they weren’t “serious” fiction, just as the pulps weren’t “serious” fiction. What they were is emotionally involving, mimetic, and cathartic. Basically, Aristotle would recognize true confessions and pulp as good art. The IWW literati would say those were boring old clichés and not good art at all — and this recent generation would ask if there were enough women, gays, people “of color”, and transgendered people, and whether the author was from an under-represented group.

All that has changed because of the possibility of publishing independently through Amazon, and the Boston-New York Literature Mavens don’t like it. People are writing, and sometimes writing wonderfully well, the fiction that Aristotle would recognize, and they’re selling it too.

The big publishers, and the literature Tories, don’t like it. They’re like everyone to stay in proper line and read what’s good for us.

The ability to publish without their permission that comes from ebook publishing is a Declaration of independence, a revolt against another aristocracy that knows what’s good for us.


I wanted to correct something from my piece last week. Since it was published, I was contacted by a source, an industry insider with some knowledge of the big publisher contracts with Amazon. It appears that the big publishers do indeed manage to get the 70 percent royalty from Amazon, even when their books are outside the Kindle Direct guidelines.

Here’s the kicker, though: they pay the same royalty to the author (assuming they report ebook sales honestly, which is a whole ‘nother kettle of fish.) So, if a publisher sells a book for $30 in hardcover, they get something like $15 for it, out of which they have to pay for the printing, shipping, warehousing, and so on. Then they pay the author something like $3.

If they sell the ebook for $13, they get $9.10 from Amazon. It costs them effectively nothing on the margin to “print” or “warehouse” the book. They still pay the author $3.


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CRIMSON
By Warren Fahy 

Voyage into an enchanted world in this epic fantasy of adventure and romance as a young king with god-like powers inherits a kingdom and a curse: what he loves most will be his doom. How he decides to fight his fate will endanger his entire kingdom, unite him with his true love in another world, and launch a desperate voyage across a sea of seething monsters and fearsome illusions that will test the will of an intrepid crew of mariners and determine the fate of their world forever. Get ready for an epic fantasy like no other in CRIMSON by Warren Fahy, author of the New York Times bestseller FRAGMENT and PANDEMONIUM.


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Extendedcompanion
By William Krasinski 

Breakthrough technology is great, until you live long enough to become obsolete. Wilek and the other ABC Captains have successfully handled this over the past century, but a resurgent Earth jealousy eying the Off Worlds will soon put the hype to the test. Add to the mix an unasked for new crew ‘mate’, salty recruits and a happy bio, Captain Wilek may reach his last good nerve long before Earth.


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Au Pair Girl
By Judy Klass 

Janine Larson’s parents don’t like her spending her summer hanging out with her boyfriend and her ditsy friends. To teach her responsibility, they get her a job taking care of the kids of a rich, unpleasant doctor and his wife in their summer island home. Janine wins over the small boy, but not the creepy little girl. Janine tries to see the rotten job through, and wonders if she is paranoid about some things . . . When the doctor and his wife realize she has discovered their unsavory, criminal secrets, her cell phone disappears. That night, they chase her around the island, trying to kill her.


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The Morning Which Breaks (Loralynn Kennakris #2)
By Jordan Leah Hunter & Owen R. O’Neill 

For eight years, Kris was the property of a brutal slaver captain. Now she’s free and a cadet at the League’s military academy. All she brings to this new life is a unique set of skills, a profound ignorance of ‘civilized’ society, and a large chip on her shoulder.

But Kris isn’t quite sure what to make of the Academy, and the Academy isn’t at all sure what to make of her. The medical staff thinks she’s homicidal, her fellow cadets think she’s crazy, and her instructors don’t know what to think.

So when she’s approached about helping capture a terrorist warlord, she’s more than happy to leave the halls of academia behind for awhile. Kris knows she’s not signing up for any pleasure cruise. What she doesn’t know is that the key to the mission’s success is reliving her very worst nightmare .

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A Mainstream Publisher May Not Be Your Friend

Friday, June 27th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin

mrpotter

Charlie here. So Sarah is away at science-fiction-writer summer camp, and I’m doing the prose for the book plug links this week. (Don’t forget to email book.plug.friday@gmail.com for guidelines if you would like your book plugged here, leading to fame and fortune.) I can’t promise a fiery Latin rant like last week, but think of this as an appendix — small, kinda slimy, and no one is quite sure what it does.

This time, I’m going to do a little arithmetic. Amazon’s royalty options are a little bit arcane, because of special programs and multiple currencies, but here are the basic rules:

  • You can get 35 percent of the sale price as a flat rate for any book from a minimum of between 99¢ and $2.99 — depending on the size of the book in megabytes — up to $200. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a $200 ebook.
  • Or if you meet some conditions, you can get 70 percent of the sale price, as long as the price you set is between $2.99 and $9.99. You also pay a data transfer fee, which is 15¢ a megabyte. (Which, for most fiction, means about 15¢.)

The conditions aren’t particularly onerous: first, if you have the right to publish the work in some country, Amazon has to be able to e-publish your book in that country; second, the book can’t consist primarily of public-domain content — you can’t ebookify something from Project Gutenberg and get the 70 percent rate; third, the e-book has to be enabled for text-to-speech; and you have to set the e-book price at least 20 percent below the cover price of the physical edition.

So, now I picked a novel at random from the ones Amazon is pushing, The Hurricane Sisters. It’s from the most mainstream of mainstream publishers: William Morrow, part of HarperCollins. From the blurb, it’s a standard sort of Southern-gothic chick-book, with the powerful lover, the gay brother, the BFF, family troubles. (God, no, I haven’t read it! The blurb sounds like it would be a more honest work redone as porn, but that’s a topic for another time.)


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The Hurricane Sisters: A Novel
By Dorothea Benton Frank 

Hurricane season begins early and rumbles all summer long, well into September. Often people’s lives reflect the weather and The Hurricane Sisters is just such a story.

Once again Dorothea Benton Frank takes us deep into the heart of her magical South Carolina Lowcountry on a tumultuous journey filled with longings, disappointments, and, finally, a road toward happiness that is hard earned. There we meet three generations of women buried in secrets. The determined matriarch, Maisie Pringle, at eighty, is a force to be reckoned with because she will have the final word on everything, especially when she’s dead wrong. Her daughter, Liz, is caught up in the classic maelstrom of being middle-age and in an emotionally demanding career that will eventually open all their eyes to a terrible truth. And Liz’s beautiful twenty-something daughter, Ashley, whose dreamy ambitions of her unlikely future keeps them all at odds.

[Shortened....]

The Lowcountry has endured its share of war and bloodshed like the rest of the South, but this storm season we watch Maisie, Liz, Ashley, and Mary Beth deal with challenges that demand they face the truth about themselves. After a terrible confrontation they are forced to rise to forgiveness, but can they establish a new order for the future of them all?


But look at the price. $12.99. Easily more than 20 percent less that the hardcover price, text-to-speech is enabled, and I’m sure that HC will happily sell it anywhere they have publication rights.

So, this is the part of Book Plug Friday where we do arithmetic.

$ 12.99  
x  0.35  
-------
   4.65  

Amazon is paying $4.65 to HarperCollins for each copy of the e-book they sell. But they seem to be able to qualify for the better rate in terms of the other conditions. Which means

$  9.99  
x  0.70  
-------
   6.99  

Let that be a lesson to you indie writers: 70 percent is better than 35 percent. Also, let that be a lesson to you, HarperCollins: 70 percent of $9.99 is better than 35 percent of $12.99.

And let that be a lesson to you, Dorothea Benton Frank: for some reason, HarperCollins is happy to give up $2.34 of your money.

Don’t you wonder why?


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Golf Cart Blues
By Walt Pimbley 

“A foursome from Fordo (Iran’s nuclear bomb research center) take a breather on the links, where they discover that Commies make poor caddies. When Mossad
shows up to play through, things get dicey.”

FREE on Kindle for a few days!


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Master Minds
By Edited by Juliana Rew 

A new collection of science fiction and fantasy stories for Summer 2014 on the theme of “intelligence.”


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In Treachery Forged
By David A. Tatum 

Following the rebellion of the Borden Isles, the Kingdom of Svieda was forced to make a pact with the Sho’Curlas Alliance in order to maintain the world’s balance of power.

Many years later, that pact was betrayed, suddenly and irrevocably, when the Sword King of Svieda was brutally assassinated by the Sho’Curlas Ambassador in the opening act of an invasion.

To help save his country in the ensuing war, Sword Prince Maelgyn must travel to the Province of Sopan, take command of his armies, and join his cousins in battle. Along the way he rescues a Dwarven caravan, forges a badly needed alliance, and accidentally gets married.

And then he learns about the dragons….


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Urdaisunia
By Kyra Halland 

Rashali, a widowed Urdai peasant, has vowed to destroy the Sazars who conquered Urdaisunia and brought her people to ruin.

Prince Eruz, heir to the Sazar throne, walks a dangerous line between loyalty and treason as he tries to do what is best for all the people of Urdaisunia.

The gods who once favored Urdaisunia have turned their backs on the land and left it to die.

When Rashali and Eruz meet by chance, the gods take notice, sending peasant and prince on intertwining paths of danger, intrigue, love, and war – paths that will change their lives, the destiny of Urdaisunia, and even the fate of the gods, forever.


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Wizard’s Heir
By Michael A, Hooten
Gwydion ap Don is a talented harpist, and a known rogue. But his Uncle Math sees something more: a young man with the magical talent to succeed him as Lord Gwynedd. But to learn magic, Gwydion will also have to learn self-control, duty, honor, and the martial arts. He’s not sure which will be the hardest. And when his training in magic begins in earnest, his whole world will change, as well as how he sees himself.

Based on the ancient Welsh myths from the Mabinogion, but set in the world of Cricket’s Song, this new series looks at one of the three great bards of Glencairck, Gwydion. But long before he became a great bard, he had to learn how to be a good man. This is the story of how his uncle tries to temper him into a leader, and a suitable heir.


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Fate and Fair Winds
By Dory Codington 

Adventure / Romance: Fate and Fair Winds takes place in Philadelphia in the months after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The novel explores what it means to be free and independent from both a personal and a political standpoint.

Rebecca is a stubborn Pennsylvania farm girl, searching for her right to independence. Her father has used her dowry to buy a neighbor’s land and has offered to arrange her marriage to that neighbor as an alternative to having a dowry. This is an option she finds repugnant, but perhaps inevitable.

John FitzSimmon has been traveling the coastal colonies to learn what he can about the mood of the Colonists for his commander Gen. William Howe. He stops in Philadelphia to meet with his brother Jason, the captain of a merchant vessel docked at the harbor. When his shadow falls over the sketch Rebecca has made of the pretty ship, she asks him a question that will change both their lives.


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Self-Publishing With Burning Slug
By Anthony W. Hursh 

The Burning Slug book engine (http://burningslug.com/) is quite possibly the fastest way to get your text into book form. From the same manuscript file you can produce:

  • EPUB format (iBooks, the Barnes & Noble Nook, and many other readers)
  • MOBI format (Kindle)
  • Print-ready PDF
  • Stand-alone website

This manual was itself compiled with Burning Slug. The EPUB, Kindle, and print versions were all generated from the same manuscript without any text changes for the different versions.


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What About the Boy? A Father’s Pledge to His Disabled Son
By Stephen Gallup 

Nobody knew what hurt little Joseph, and no one was offering a way to help him. He cried most of the time, and thrashed about as if in pain. He wasn’t learning how to crawl, talk, or interact normally. Doctors told his parents to seek counseling, because nothing could help their son, and the quality of their own lives was at risk. Refusal to accept that advice changed their lives forever. WHAT ABOUT THE BOY? A Father’s Pledge to His Disabled Son chronicles a family’s rejection of hopelessness and their commitment to the pursuit of normalcy.


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Father’s Day: More Married. More Husband. More Father. More Man.
By Greg Swann 

Families without fathers typically are not families for long, and they are rarely strong families. The families from which children emerge the strongest – best-prepared intellectually, emotionally and in future earning-power – are the best-fathered families. Dad is the unchallenged leader of his brood, and everyone recognizes that it is his steady, unwavering, mission-critical leadership that most makes them a family. He never stops driving his family, and – in direct consequence – they are proud to go where he takes them.

Father’s Day is about making more families like that, helping Dad find his way back to his leadership role, helping him take charge and get his family moving again.


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Scout’s Honor
By Henry Vogel 

Told in a relentlessly fast-paced and breathless style, SCOUT’S HONOR is an exciting modern homage to the classic tales of planetary romance made famous by writers such as Edgar Rice Burroughs and Leigh Brackett, as well as the cliffhanger-driven energy of the early science fiction movie serials. If you like your heroes unabashedly heroic, your heroines feisty and true, and your plots filled with dangers, twists, turns, and double-crosses upon triple-crosses, you’ll enjoy SCOUT’S HONOR.


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Dark Invasion
By Mark Whittington 

Having escaped the Nazi vampire hunter, SS officer Kurt Hesselman, the Contessa Gabriella Doria finds herself in neutral Switzerland and in the company of American spy master Allen Dulles. Dulles sends Gabriella on a mission that might cut short the war by a year. She is to infiltrate occupied France, contact Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, and persuade him to change sides and fight on the side of the allies. But Gabriella will soon face peril from all sides, including from an enemy that she had thought dead and buried.

A direct sequel to Gabriella’s first World War II adventure, Dark Sanction.


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War To the Knife
By Peter Grant 

Laredo’s defenders were ground down and its people ruthlessly slaughtered when the Bactrians invaded the planet. Overwhelmed, its Army switched to guerrilla warfare and went underground. For three years they’ve fought like demons to resist the occupiers. They’ve bled the enemy, but at fearful cost. The survivors are running out of weapons, supplies, and places to hide.

Then a young officer, Dave Carson, uncovers an opportunity to smash the foe harder than they’ve ever done before, both on and off the planet. Success may bring the interplanetary community to their aid – but it’ll take everything they’ve got. Win or lose, many of them will die. Failure will mean that Bactria will at last rule unopposed.

That risk won’t stop them. When you’re fighting a war to the knife, in the end you bet on the blade.

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How to Compete With Amazon — if you really want to

Friday, June 6th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
Whining is not fighting, and complaining is not competing.  You want to be a contender?  Put your gloves on and fight.

Whining is not fighting, and complaining is not competing. You want to be a contender? Put your gloves on and fight.

So, Amazon.  We’re now supposed to have a mini hate in or something, right.

What I – Sarah, by the way, nice to meet you – would like to know is why?  Why has hating Amazon become the cool or chic thing to do?  Why is Amazon the villain?

Oh, never mind me, I understand it from the other side – that is the side of the traditional publishers, the distributors, the people who were used to controlling who got to see what on the shelves, the people who before Amazon’s ascendance, could make or break a book, sight unseen, and make sure that either no one ever found it, or it was a mega success (at least on paper).

I understand why they’re upset at Amazon.  Why they’re screaming that everyone must now destroy the monster.  But why?

I am not implying Amazon is perfect.  As I cued my stuff for various promotions today I was reminded again of Amazon’s extremely stupid requirement that you give them exclusive rights in order to do a give away or sale.

Stupid, you say?  But it’s the stuff of evil geniuses!  They get exclusivity on the book!

Stupid I said, and stupid I meant.  See, yeah, they get exclusivity on the book – but none of the big names are availing themselves of this – so the exclusivity they get is at best with us, midlisters.  Look, guys, I have a head as big as the next writer, but I think the only people who REMEMBER my book for three months are people who sleep with me. And there’s only one of those.  I don’t mean I write unmemorable books, I mean that with the spoiling for choice we get, the only people who remember I had a book release, three months later, are people who really, really, really like me.

So, let’s see how Amazon’s exclusive-to-promote policy shoots itself in the foot.  Let’s say I’m a compulsive reader (I am) and download Pretty Darn Good Writer’s book when it’s free.  I download it, and get around to read it in a month or so, when it’s no longer free.  To my shock, it rocks my world.  So I go to my Reader Friend (I have a few!) and say “you must, must, must read this.”  Reader Friend says, “Oh, okay.  But I have a nook.”  She goes and searches it on B & N and the book isn’t there – of course, since it’s still in the three month exclusivity period.

By the time the book comes out of that and goes on B & N Reader friend has forgotten all about it.  Which means that Barnes and Noble lost a sale, you say, and no skin off Amazon’s nose?

This is as stupid a line of thought as the old traditional publishers’ idea that people choose books by publisher, instead of by author, plot or title.

See, Reader friend has twenty other friends to whom she would have recommended the book.  But she can’t do it because she never read it.  And I guarantee 18 of those friends would be on kindle.

So, in the long run the exclusivity policy – I don’t think even with my moderate name anyone is going to change reading platforms for me – hurts Amazon, as well as being an unholy annoyance.

The same with pricing.  I don’t actually object to having a $2.99 floor for novels.  All my indie friends whom I yelled at and said “you can sell it for $2 more and you’ll be fine, know I think the natural price is more like $4.99.  But to put that floor (via pricing incentives) under short stories is not the best thing in the world in the current economy.

And this is why Amazon needs competition, you say.

Yes, yes, they do.  And I have been working (in my copious spare time) on a four part series on how to compete with Amazon – at least on ebooks, which isn’t even the core of Amazon’s business.

You see, I work across five ebook platforms and what I’m here to tell you is that none of them are serious competition.  I only get about 10% of the income I get from Amazon from any of these places.  And that’s on a good month.

But the thing is I know why.  I also know why, with the best will in the world, I end up putting only 1/10th of my books in other platforms.  And it’s not Amazon’s fault.  It’s the other houses’.

A forceful breakup of Amazon will do nothing to help these houses, because they are too stupid to help themselves.  I will expand on this in the articles, I promise, and if I weren’t up to my neck in work (as are my friends – and my husband) who can program I’d give it a crack myself.  BUT for now, I’ll give some areas in which the other ebook sellers drive me nuts:

1-      Stop treating me like an amateur.  I have almost 20 years experience as a published author.  If you send me congratulations whenever I sell a copy of a book on your site and talk about the wonderful occasion and how it will change my life, I’ll get testy.  It’s not that we can’t be friends anymore, but I get a feeling you think I’m less than five.  Treat me like a professional, please.

2-      While you’re treating me like a professional, realize my time (particularly for us hybrid authors) is limited.  STOP telling me that I got error 342 and I should check your manual to see what I’m doing wrong.  Either have a clickable explanation or – here’s an idea – have your site so that when I upload an ebook format that works everywhere else, it doesn’t gag on imaginary code.  I really don’t have the whole day to spend uploading a short story into your site.  And uploading novels is a tortuous process that I gave up on after the first.

3-      Make sure your platform is intuitive and self explanatory.  This breaks my heart with the site that comes second to Amazon in making me money.  Their platform for uploading books is SO visually oriented, it takes me an hour and help from younger son to find out where to upload.  Make it obvious and easy to return to.

4-      One more thing – make sure your reports of sales and payment makes sense.  Do not change the report six months later, and pay me for some sale I didn’t know about.  I need to know things like how my promotions did.

 

So, that’s for attracting writers.  What about readers?

5-      Give up on exclusivity.  Yes, I know.  You want me to read from you only.  Tough.  I’m not giving up my kindle library.  Make it possible for me to beam a kindle-format book to my kindle, and you got me.

6-      If you want to have your proprietary reader, same thing applies.  Make sure I can read my Amazon books on your system.  I refuse to keep two separate libraries, and I’m not alone.

There is more, and a lot more detail.  As I said, I’m working on it in my copious spare time.  But this should be enough to get started.

Amazon is not evil.  (My friend Cedar Sanderson explains the thing with Hatchette here. And my friend Dave Freer explains it here.) BUT it needs competition.  The thing is to compete with Amazon the competitor must give up on being the “anti-amazon.”  That gets you anti-sales.  You should instead steal what works and improve on what doesn’t.  And then maybe you’ll have a fighting chance.

(Special Note: Sarah’s books, and Cedar’s book, this time are on special. Which is why it’s a special note. Isn’t that special?)


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TITLE
By Sarah A. Hoyt 

From Elizabethan England to the Far Future, discover who really was Shakespeare and why Marlowe was called The Muses Darling. Discover the horrifying secret that Leonardo DaVinci found beneath a cave in his home village. In the far future, find a new way to keep Traveling, Traveling. Use cold sleep to find your love again, and join the (high tech) Magical Legion.

Seventeen short stories from Prometheus Award Winning Author, Sarah A. Hoyt. This edition features an Introduction by Dave Freer and a Bonus Short Story “With Unconfined Wings.”


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Heart’s Fire
By Sarah A. Hoyt 

When a priceless magical jewel is stolen, Ausenda, who has no magical power, has to track it down before the thief uses the jewel for some unspeakable crime.


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The Eternity Symbiote
By Cedar Sanderson 

On Sale for the month of June!

Earth sits at the center of a galactic power struggle humanity knows nothing about. Then an alien delegation suffers a fatal accident and hidden plans unravel around the wreckage in the Alaskan wilderness. Infectious disease expert Gabrielle McGregor discovers the hidden machinations and what they’ll mean for her and her family.


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Finishing Kick
By Paul Duffau 

A humorous peek inside one girl’s dream to guide her team to the winner’s podium, Finishing Kick takes an inspirational look into girls cross country. Callie finds herself holding the keys to the nuthouse when she agrees to be team captain of the cross country squad. She cares so much and tries so hard, you can’t help but cheer her on as Callie and her team challenges powerhouse Fairchild Academy.


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Right to Know
By Edward Willett 

A fast-paced space opera about first contact – with a difference. When Art Stoddard, civilian information officer of the generation ship Mayflower II, is kidnapped by a secret military organization determined to overthrow the power of Captain and crew, he becomes embroiled in a conflict that tests everything he thought he knew. Now, he is forced to choose between preserving social order and restoring the people’s right to know. But what if knowledge is the most dangerous thing of all?


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Fenrir Reborn
By Anita C. Young 

Sindri Modulf has been tested many times throughout his long life, but for every feat he has faced, he has artfully dodged countless more with easy humour and a deadly axe. Those well-honed abilities will prove useless when he is faced with one of the greatest challenges of his life; he must bring back a grief-stricken Seer from the edge of catatonia. Unwilling to let the mind of the most powerful woman in 1000 years be ravaged by Empaths and Telepaths, Sindri does something he hasn’t done for centuries: bare his soul.

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Doing the Work

Friday, April 25th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
Sometimes you just need another hand on the job.

Sometimes you just need another hand on the job.

So, hi, this is Sarah, and I’ve been writing for a long, long time.  Okay, I’ve been writing since I was about two, but writing with intent to become a professional since about six.  Obviously I didn’t have a very focused business plan for this, since it took me more than thirty years, though perhaps it was slightly more realistic than my previous career plans of becoming a cat or an angel.  (The first being morphologically unlikely and the second just unlikely, unless it were one of those angels with very dark wings.)

Having broken into my chosen field at almost forty, you’d think I’d be safe from a midlife crisis.  And in a way I am.  So the field decided to have a midlife crisis around me.  Which is… special.  We won’t rehash how we got here, and I will say right away that I’m very glad there are indie options.  I love my publisher, and I have no plans to replace them with Indie, but I like having the option of going indie for some books.  It means there are no unpublishable books.  By this I don’t mean quality-wise.  There are regrettably published books.  Of course IMHO some bestsellers fall in that category, so what do I know?

What I mean though is that there is no longer a bright line, delineated by others that says “you can’t write that.”  For a long time the “you can’t write that” for me was space opera, which hurt, since that’s what I started writing to write.  My novel (Prometheus Award Winner 2011 and still selling) Darkship Thieves wasn’t even submitted by my agents until I had sold it by unusual means.  It sat for 13 years in a drawer.  This was based not on quality but on “it will never sell” – you see, it was science fiction but not “big idea” or “introspective” enough.  So there was no market for it.

I have at least 10 other books that were rejected, most of them by agents who wouldn’t submit them. One of them, the one I just released indie – Witchfinder – was never sent out because “you can’t have a computer programmer fall into a magical world.  People won’t know how to shelf it.”

So, I appreciate the openness and ability to publish whatever of indie.  But I still have a traditional career, and… let’s face it, okay? I am fifty one, and I don’t have all the time in the world.  I’m managing, barely.

But there are people who are older than I, and who can’t either take the time to learn how to do this, or who simply don’t have the time.  And for those there are support professionals.

If you’re going to get a support professional, it’s important to know what you’re getting and what you’re paying for.  You should for instance figure out exactly what an editor would do. A structural editor should be paid more than a copyeditor.  He/she would also have a completely different background.  My structural editor is a friend with a professional history as an editor.

I wouldn’t trust someone I don’t know with that sort of thing, and if I needed to hire a total stranger, I’d interview him/her and then ask him/her to do a sample.

Of the people linked below (and if you’re a support professional feel free to send us a link to book plug Friday, I’ve worked with Patrick Richardson for copy editing (because his background is journalism, I prefer him for non-fiction, but he edited a novel for a friend, and he did a fine job,) Rune Wright for typesetting, Jason Dyck for proofing and Cedar Sanderson for cover design.  I can recommend all four of them.

So for typesetting and formatting: Rune Wright.  He has all the details on his website.

For Jason Dyck, we have an email address.  He was both affordable and prompt with proof-reading for me.

For Pat Richardson, we also have an email address. And I can recommend him for proof reading.

Cedar Sanderson is new, but comes from a graphic arts background and if you need a cover designed, her work is simply a cut above.  This is her website.

Then there is Barb Caffrey who has a testimonial from one of her clients. I’ve never worked with Barb, so I can’t personally recommend her.

And that’s it for now.  If you’re an indie publishing support professional, send us your info.

And I’m out of here. Below are links to some fine indie works, some of which might be by yours truly.  (If I remember if I can squeeze in this week, which I don’t, since I’m mid novel and don’t have a brain.)


Remember, tell all your writer friends [Pssst, Sarah!] to send the AUTHOR, TITLE, a SHORT BLURB, and an AMAZON LINK AMAZON LINK AMAZON LINK to book.plug.friday@gmail.com to be plugged here on PJ Media.

Deadlines are flexible, but in general the deadline for Friday is Tuesday the preceding week. So, for example, the deadline for March 7 was February 22.

That said, last week was a really big one, so some books are being put off until next week. Hey, we said the deadlines are flexible.

It really helps if you don’t bother with HTML magic at all, because we just have to parse it apart to put it into the template. The ideal submission is like

TITLE

My Book

AUTHOR

My name as it’s on the book cover.

AMAZON LINK

http://www.amazon.com/My-Book-By-Me/dp/B00ABCDEFG/

BLURB

no more than about 100 words.


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After the Blast
By T. L. Knighton 

Jason wasn’t having a bad day, but all that changed with a blinding flash of light and a mushroom cloud on the horizon. Overweight and out of shape, Jason must struggle home, only to learn that finding his family would be more of a challenge.

Along the way, he transforms into someone different. Is he the kind of man that is the problem with this new world, or the kind of man this new world needs?


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An Elfy On The Loose
By Barb Caffrey 

He’s supposed to be the Watcher for his people, the representative on Earth from his dimension, but the small being known to his enemies as “Jonny-Wonny” wakes up to big trouble — trapped in a bizarre house in Knightsville, California with humans straight out of reality TV. Jon knows that something has gone dreadfully wrong — he’s starving, lonely and dressed in funny clothes.

Enter the couple’s ten-year-old diminutive daughter, who is “Not Daisy!” but is brilliant, sweet…and using high level magic with ease. She’s also desperately in need of a friend.

Insisting her name is really Sarah, and christening him Bruno, his new friend asks him how they’re going to get out of there.

The only thing that comes to mind is for Bruno to ask his teacher, Roberto the Wise, for help. But Roberto’s attempt at help only enmeshes all three of them further in a web of deceit and treachery. Bruno finds out that, unfortunately, most of what he thought he knew about himself was very wrong…and much of what Sarah knows about herself is also wrong, including her age.

Worst of all, a Dark Elf is on the scene and is intent on corrupting the local Humans, including Sarah’s parents.

New names, new locations, a new mission–Bruno is going to get to the bottom of all the craziness, and Sarah will be there for him every step of the way.

Watch out, universe–an Elfy is on the loose!


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In Time of Peril
By T.K. Naliaka 

Raised on the edge of chaos in West Africa, Christopher Decatur is back in America for college, leaving behind dunes, baobabs, and nomads. His history class embarks on a week-long American Revolution reenactment hiking trip near Lake Champlain, but the backwoods are no refuge from the dangers of the world as the group unexpectedly collides with a murderous and mysterious gang. As Chris faces an ordeal of deadly threats with uncooperative classmates in a high-stakes battle of wits and cultures against ruthless foes, Chris’s father Robert Decatur risks everything to rescue his son from the hands of evil. In Time of Peril launches The Decaturs adventure series, inspired by Louis L’Amour’s Sacketts.

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How NOT To Go Insane By Degrees

Friday, April 18th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
She was warned.  But this indie writer couldn't keep from checking her figures and rank every five minutes!

She was warned. But this indie writer couldn’t keep from checking her figures and rank every five minutes!

No, no, no, this is not alluding to Glenn Reynold’s study of the education bubble.  What I’m talking about here are the various crazy making pitfalls that haunt the indie writer.

Mind you, it wasn’t all that easy to be a traditionally published author either.  This is Sarah, and I was traditionally published for over ten years before I first dipped toe into indie waters with a publishing company I control (Goldport Press) and the innards and numbers of which I could see moment to moment.

As … ah… interesting as my first publication experience was, I’m sure I must have driven my editor crazier than any other writer had driven her before.  I wanted to know moment to moment what they were doing to promote the book – turned out nothing, but she couldn’t tell me that, I guess – and also how the book was doing.  I don’t think she could tell me the latter if she wanted. Statements the traditional way involve some arcane sampling, a lot of relying on Nielsen’s, and, in the more scrupulously run places, a counting of what came in for which book. (In the big houses none of this is very accurate because the practices date back to the early century “estimated printruns” accounting.)

Anyway, they wouldn’t have any numbers for a good six months, maybe longer, and to ask for them must have driven the editor insane.

Fortunately in indie, at least with a company you control, or an editor who will put up with you asking often enough, there’s a lot of data coming in from the very first minute.

I discovered the fascination of checking my numbers when I first put up one of my backlist short stories. This is a short story whose rights had reverted to me, and I decided to see if it would sell – I forget what it was, but I THINK it was The Play and The Thing.

Anyway, I put it up, and started checking. Considering it made me $12 that first month, you may guess how slowly that ticker moved.  But I had to check and itemize the milestones.  “Ooh, ooh, first sale in England.”

Then I put up a lot more stories and there were still times of driving myself insane: for instance, when I had a freebie running, I kept checking to see how many I’d given away, and if it was budging the others at all.

It did make the other sales go up (I do put links to similar stories at the back of the book, mind.) Two years ago, from November through Jan. I was making $400 a month and kept checking to see it go up.

Then came the summer-of-sales-death, last year. Nothing moved. I mean, my income dipped down under $100 for a month.  And for a while there I thought it was going to be $12. I swear all the sales came in the last week.

Still, largely, I had it under control.  I made myself check only once a week.  Even then it was enough to worry me.  Take the month ONLY No Will but His sold until the twentieth.  I was wondering what the heck was wrong.

BUT as I say, I kept it under control.

Until this month, when I put out Witchfinder, my first indie novel.  And then the checking every hour or so started.

It’s been okay – with minor hiccups – save for… after the fifteenth.  Honestly, if I weren’t also selling used books via Amazon (mostly the kids’ old textbooks but also some specialized research I bought years ago and will never touch again) I’d think there was something wrong with my books.  But no.  The sales on the used books dipped even lower than the ebook ones, and I had my first day (in two weeks, granted) of no sales, yesterday.

My husband says this is known of every businessman for the two weeks after taxes.  Who knew?

So – in the interest of saving you from going as crazy as I am, here are some rules for indie mind-space management.

1-      Yes, you could suddenly sell 100 copies in the next ten minutes.  But there’s nothing you can do to make them do so, and if you sell them or not, the result is the same without you watching the numbers.  Try to limit yourself to say early morning and late at night.

2-      Stop trying to interpret patterns in your sales.  That’s like reading tea leaves but less coherent.  Why is it that as I was doing a big push on Witchfinder, I suddenly started selling my little how-to booklet May You Write Interesting Books all across the outlets?  Who knows?  Maybe people read Witchfinder and it was wonderful and they want books on how to do that?  OTOH maybe a writers group with 40 people, somewhere in Kansas (or online and all over the country) discovered the booklet.  This stuff happens.  At any rate, I can’t influence it.

3-      Why does the first book in a series sell very well, the next sells okay, and the third one sells not at all.  Death of A Musketeer is a good seller every month; The Musketeer’s Seamstress sells pretty well; The Musketeer’s Apprentice sells not at all.  This puzzle is made more complex by the fact that the fourth book, The Musketeer’s Inheritance, is selling like crazy.  Yes, The Musketeer’s Apprentice has a bad review (for the Berkley version.  There was some… interesting editing).  But surely people who trust me with the other books would give it a chance?  Or did I go nuts and have a spelling mistake on the cover?  (It wouldn’t be the first time.)  If it does, I can’t see it, so maybe it is the fact that online selling, because of the huge market place involved (all the world) slips the bonds of logic to an extent.  It partakes the mechanics of a sand pile.  There might be a reason that grain moved and not that other, but the calculations would be infinitely complex.  As for knowing how to start an avalanche of sales; if anyone knew how, the big companies would be doing it.  So, stop checking the numbers and go write.

4-      You are human.  I keep telling people this in hopes they’ll make me believe it. There will be mistakes.  Some typos will escape you.  For instance, I know there are five typos in Witchfinder because I’ve got that many lists with at least one valid typo.  The others (curiously, usually five, also) were only things people thought were typos.  (Guys, the subjunctive is not a typo.  Main publishing houses decided to eliminate it in copyediting about ten years ago because “it’s old fashioned.”  That’s like saying the possessive is old-fashioned.  It reads strange to you because you haven’t seen it, but this ex-English-teacher (ESL) begs you to look it up and reacquaint yourself with it.)  That many typos – and more – escape the big publishers.  Take a deep breath and stop cowering.  My worst snafu was when my glasses weren’t working and I missed a row of “ghost” text, (the title, misspelled and upside down) on my cover of Something Worse Hereafter.  (And yes, that cover is a crime against humanity or at least humanity’s eyes.  I’m redoing the old ones as I have time. It was all cutting edge at the time!) Oh, that was fun.  Also, no one said anything until a fan asked me what that meant.)  You know what, I survived it.  You are human, not a machine, and your errors are probably not worse than things big publishing houses have done.

5-      Not to say you should put stuff out and never look again.  One of the best things about indies is that we can be flexible and fast, like the English ships against the Armada.  Lacking formidable size, we have adaptability.  Keep your ear to the ground.  Form connections.  Learn if your cover style is out of date, or if your pricing has fallen out of sinc with trends.  Sometimes that’s all it takes to goose sales.  But don’t change your cover every day or your price every week.  Take a deep breath.  Set yourself a time, like every three months, and do it then.

6-      Write the next book.  Even if you are the best salesperson in the world, the best way to sell a book is to write the next one.  That way you have many more chances one of them will take off, and when it does, you might start an unstoppable avalanche of sales.  At least there will be a chance.  So, shut up and go write!


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Voyageur’s Cap
By Cedar Sanderson

Duty brought Lia to the backwater planet. Honor bound her to fulfill the promise she made to Daz before his death to see his daughter, Serene, safely away and enrolled at the Academy. Neither expected their trip to be interrupted by distress signals, abandoned ships and space pirates. A novella of a galaxy returned to the explorers after civilization has collapsed, again.


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Trophy Target
By Allen Mitchum

tro·phy ['trō-fē] tar·get [ˈtär-gət] – A uniquely high value individual captured and used by an enemy as leverage for political, military or other strategic purposes

Deep in the jungle of French Guiana, a once anonymous soldier of the French Foreign Legion mysteriously disappears. Days later, word reaches his younger brother, Prince Erik Rohde, second in line to the Danish throne. Doubting the government’s capabilities and questioning the Prime Minister’s sincerity, Erik turns to the world’s top mercenary, Fadi Khaldun, to rescue his brother.

Fadi Khaldun is a former assassin of the Saudi government determined to make amends for his malicious past. In his new life as a hired gun, clients contract Fadi to rescue hostages, avenge the deaths of loved ones and destroy terrorist and organized crime rings in the deadliest conflict zones on the planet. Now he embarks on his most high profile and dangerous job yet to rescue the crown prince of Denmark. From the jungles of South America to the mountains of South East Asia, Fadi meticulously hunts the prince’s kidnappers while enemies at the highest level of government conspire against him.


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BLED WHITE
By Barbara Morgenroth

Bled white by corrupt politicians, the country has bottomed out.

Each day is an effort to survive with the meager remnants of what’s left.

When Sophie Cook is found dazed after a brutal assault by local thugs, she is considered an outsider in the town she must now call home. Only with the help of Wolf Harndon, can she get by.

Life is hard, almost impossible. In Wolf, Sophie sees compassion. In Sophie, Wolf sees a future he didn’t believe existed.

Peace is a fantasy as long as the Russells continue their raids. Wolf is tasked with stopping them. That’s when the war begins and the losses start.

Wolf and Sophie have no idea that even with nothing, there is still so much to lose.

Can they survive?

Can their love survive?


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Predatory Kill: A Legal Thriller
By Kenneth Eade

A compelling legal novel by the best selling author of “An Involuntary Spy”. Brent Marks had paid his dues as a lawyer, having taken his share of divorces and drunk driving cases over his 20 year career, but had finally reached a place in his life where he could take on cases of social importance. What he least expected was for April Marsh’s predatory lending case against the big banks for wrongful foreclosure on her parent’s home to turn into a murder investigation. April’s mother was murdered. Her father was beaten within an inch of his life, and she believes their predatory lender is to blame. Are banks really that above the law?


Remember, tell all your writer friends to send the AUTHOR, TITLE, a SHORT BLURB, and an AMAZON LINK AMAZON LINK AMAZON LINK to book.plug.friday@gmail.com to be plugged here on PJ Media.

Deadlines are flexible, but in general the deadline for Friday is Tuesday the preceding week. So, for example, the deadline for March 7 was February 22.

It really helps if you don’t bother with HTML magic at all, because we just have to parse it apart to put it into the template. The ideal submission is like

TITLE

My Book

AUTHOR

My name as it’s on the book cover.

AMAZON LINK

http://www.amazon.com/My-Book-By-Me/dp/B00ABCDEFG/

BLURB

no more than about 100 words.

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The World Turned Upside Down

Friday, April 11th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin

Surrender_of_Lord_Cornwallis

Sarah here. One thing for sure is that the publishing industry (following the footsteps of the music industry, the newspaper industry, and all the lemmings who went before it) would rather die sure of its convictions than change.

They will keep insisting that the old model was right, the new model is wrong, and dang it, people will soon realize and come back to them crying… or something.

My friend Amanda Green posted about this at Mad Genius Club this week. Yet another consultant telling the publishing industry what they want to hear: that ebooks are underpriced at…. what they’re selling for, that people should want to pay more for the “convenience”, that it’s just a rental of a service, and of course if you want it in more than one device, you should pay again.

Really, how many times have we heard this? It started with the traditionals manfully declaring that no, ebooks would never take a significant chunk out of paper sales.  They were a specialty, a fad, a curiosity.  No one really wanted to read on the computer screen (this while the kindle was becoming popular.)  Then we were treated to the spectacle of senior VPs in New York Publishing talking about how much they gave their authors in terms of support, of covers, of editing. Well, that is only going to sound good if you don’t know any mid-list authors who talk.  And even then, the reading public doesn’t care.  Once indie upped its game a little, it competed handily with the bottom of the publisher “support.” And customers bought indie.

Now we’re back to “we really should be able to charge a lot more” and the new twist of “ebooks are so much more convenient.”  (Apparently they got that we’re not lugging our CTR monitors to the bathtub to read there. Who knew?)

From Amanda Green’s article:

Now we have someone who calls himself a pricing consultant telling everyone that e-books aren’t a product but a service. Yep, those publishers and their bean counters are doing dances of glee. Someone finally understands!

“Ebooks should be more expensive than they are, more than print books — a lot more,” said Luby, adding that ebooks are relatively cheap because publishers and retailers don’t properly explain their benefits, namely, convenience.

And now those same publishers and bean counters are singing as they dance. Hallelujah! Someone is finally saying what we’ve said all along.We should be able to charge the reader more for something that costs us less, much less, because it is convenient for the reader.

The astounding thing is that they prefer to do this, to actually looking at other industries that have faced catastrophic change, and which went down the merry path to h*ll by holding on to their old model and paying high-priced consultants to tell them to keep jumping, everything was fine.

My friend and co-blogger Dave Freer has some ideas on how the Publishing Industry could restructure. His ideas are good and he gives them for free, but they won’t listen.  They want to be told everything will go on as it has been, and that their model is viable.

I imagine King George was told that the rebellion in the colonies was a passing fad too.

This is how the world turns upside down.  The old model can’t and won’t adapt, and the new model becomes the only model.

Other industries caught in catastrophic change should take note.  And even those of our governing elites who think that applying an early twentieth century model will work, (and at that one that never worked anywhere) should take note.  The world is changing.  Technology is changing.  If you don’t think of new ways of doing things, the world will change OVER you.

Like King George, they should realize that new places, real or virtual, create a new spirit and the old cudgel won’t bring the desired results. But they won’t….

They’ll go to sleep, telling themselves pretty fairytales.  And while they sleep, we’ll build the future.


Charlie here. This is late again because I’ve spent the whole week dealing with issues caused by the Heartbleed bug. No, that’s not an emo band. I’ll have more about the bug up, but let me just say, I’m usually the guy telling you “Oh, it’s not that serious.” Well, this one’s pretty bad. Check every website you use often, and as soon as they are confirmed to have updated, change your passwords. In particular, if you use Amazon — and I’m guessing you do, since these links aren’t much use otherwise — you should change your password.

Go do it now. I’ll wait.


Remember, tell all your writer friends to send the AUTHOR, TITLE, a SHORT BLURB, and an AMAZON LINK AMAZON LINK AMAZON LINK to book.plug.friday@gmail.com to be plugged here on PJ Media.


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Witchfinder
By Sarah A Hoyt

In Avalon, where the world runs on magic, the king of Britannia appoints a witchfinder to rescue unfortunates with magical power from lands where magic is a capital crime. Or he did. But after the royal princess was kidnapped from her cradle twenty years ago, all travel to other universes has been forbidden, and the position of witchfinder abolished. Seraphim Ainsling, Duke of Darkwater, son of the last witchfinder, breaks the edict. He can’t simply let people die for lack of rescue. His stubborn compassion will bring him trouble and disgrace, turmoil and danger — and maybe, just maybe, the greatest reward of all.


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The Unexpecteds
By Kathryn Judson

Out west in Northam, 11-year-old Shayna Miller finds that living underground to escape government persecution is only one problem among many. For instance, her dad never keeps his family in one community very long. It’s almost like he’s running from something horrible in Subterra. But what?

Other books in this series are The Smolder, and The Birdwatcher.


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Why We Raise Belgian Horses
By Kathryn Judson

When famine threatens a small fishing village in 19th-century Norway, 17-year-old Lars and his 5-year-old brother, Torvald, are sent to America to live with their Uncle Anders in the Dakota Territory. When Lars buys his first horse, he accidentally buys a horse that’s widely considered a joke. But that ‘crazy’ horse is about to prove his detractors wrong. Historical fiction. Roughly 78,000 words.


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In the Shadow of Death: Reflections on a Chronic Illness
By Cyn Bagley

When Cyn Bagley became ill in 2002, she thought that it was a case of conjunctivitis and would go away in a week. From eye problems to kidney failure, she tells the story of her diagnosis and treatment. The reflection also contains essays like “half-naked in the doctor’s office,” and “Tales from the Bed.” Even though she deals with a suppressed immune system daily, she has learned that survival is not only physical health, but mental toughness.


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The Reprisal
By Allen Mitchum

The Reprisal chronicles a revenge mission of the world’s deadliest mercenary Fadi Khaldun. A former assassin of the Saudi government determined to make amends for his malicious past, Fadi sets out to destroy an Iraqi kidnapping ring that brutally killed his client’s son. His relentless and lethal pursuit of the killers through the streets of Baghdad and rural Iraq leads him head on into a startling international criminal conspiracy.

The Reprisal is the first installment in the new Lethal Solutions Short Story Series featuring missions of Fadi Khaldun. The first thirteen chapters of Mitchum’s new full length action thriller Trophy Target also featuring Fadik Khaldun is included as a bonus at the end of The Reprisal.

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You’ll Never Guess What This Post is Ranting About

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014 - by Hannah Sternberg

Is anybody else as fed up as I am by the trend of ultra-vague headlines and subheads on online articles? Upworthy made the format extremely popular; nearly all of their headlines or subheads are some variation on:

…will make you laugh, then cry

You’ll never believe #7!

What happened next will blow your mind

They didn’t exactly invent the idea of teasing the audience into reading more, but they definitely put their own unique stamp on the form and optimized it for social media sharing. Vague, but personal, headlines and subject lines were also popularized by the 2012 Obama campaign, which had unprecedented success rates with its email campaigns. The marketing world was slavering to learn what the Obama campaign did to generate such fantastic open rates, and part of the answer came down to their short, personal subject lines: “Hey,” “Check this out,” etc; the kind of subject line you’d write in an email to a friend.

Now nearly every marketing email that fills my inbox (and spam box) has a subject line like “Hey,” “Thought you’d like this,” or “For you.” Meanwhile, my Facebook feed is choked with articles whose meta-descriptions (the short block of text that appears below the headline) range from terse to nearly non-existent: “This will blow your mind,” “I couldn’t stop laughing at #4,” or  a simple “Heartbreaking.” And the more I see this, the less I click. Obviously the technique still works (or I wouldn’t still be seeing it everywhere) but it makes me wonder how long this trend will keep up before over-saturation renders it completely useless.

I used to click vague headlines like that because I wanted to find out what the article was about. Now I don’t click, because I’m tired of winding up on articles I have relatively little interest in. A good headline should tease the contents of an article, leaving something up to the reader’s imagination, to tantalize him into continuing reading. But a good headline should also give enough information to let the reader know what to expect — am I about to click through to a foreign policy expose or a video about baby pandas?

Writing an excellent headline like the one described above takes a lot of hard work and skill. It’s admittedly a skill I’m still working on — as my editor could tell you, after my numerous pleas for help. It’s especially difficult to write one for your own piece, which is why, within magazine, newspaper, and blog staffs, many times one person will wind up writing the headline for another person’s story. Vaguelining is a clever, and effective, trick, but maybe part of the reason I resent it so much is because it’s so easy. Anyone can write a vagueline. Maybe I just hope it goes out of style so I won’t feel so alone in the crowd of writers who struggle to craft good headlines.

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Interview: Adam Bellow Unveils New Media Publishing Platform Liberty Island

Saturday, March 22nd, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt
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Click to check out “Murder at CPAC” by Jamie Wilson.

A year or more ago I heard about this project called Liberty Island, supposed to give those of us whose politics make us pariahs with most of traditional publishing — though not Baen Books — a haven where we could meet our fans. I keep meaning to contribute to them, but of course, the last year I spent more time sick than well, and consequently I’m so far behind on books and contracts, I can practically see myself around the corner.

Well, they are up now (and have a story by Frank J. Fleming). And I’ve secured an interview with Adam Bellow, Liberty Island’s publisher and CEO. Bellow is a longtime nonfiction editor, currently running Broadside, the conservative nonfiction imprint of HarperCollins. He is also the author of In Praise of Nepotism, a lively contrarian take on an eternally divisive topic.

And, yep, sure, as soon as I get a weekend to pound it out, I’ll do a novella for Liberty Island.

Sarah Hoyt: I heard of Liberty Island back when it was in the planning stages.  I understand it is an online magazine-cum-community center for writers and readers on the right side of the spectrum.  Is this true?  What do you want to tell us about Liberty Island?

Adam Bellow: We started Liberty Island to help the new wave of conservative storytellers connect with their natural audience. Even before launching the site we’ve discovered dozens of new voices on the right that you won’t find anywhere else. These are talented and creative people who have previously been excluded from mainstream culture because they hold the wrong views and didn’t go to the right schools or attend the approved writing programs. This just confirms our hunch that something like Liberty Island is desperately needed.

SH: Who is the audience for Liberty Island? What is “conservative fiction”? Shouldn’t good stories just stand on their own?

AB: Great literature stands on its own, but the productions of popular culture often carry a hidden freight of ideology that reflects its authors’ biases. Sometimes not so hidden — the evil conservative businessman is essentially the default villain in Hollywood these days. But think about what happens when great stories are told from a conservative perspective: you get Tom Clancy, or Brad Thor, or James Patterson, or Vince Flynn. Mega-bestselling authors with a huge following. Our audience is anyone who loves great pulp writers like those guys. At Liberty Island you will find dozens of stories like these, in genres ranging from humor to thriller to SciFi. These writers aren’t heavy handed in the least – their conservative outlook is sometimes explicit but just as often merely implied or completely submerged. Besides, a case can be made that traditional pulp genres are inherently conservative.

SH: In what way do you intend to distinguish yourself from other online magazines?

AB: Liberty Island combines a magazine, a free range self-publishing platform, and a community of readers and writers who share a commitment to the values of freedom, individualism, and American exceptionalism. It also has a unique mission: to serve as the platform and gathering-place for the new right-of-center counterculture.

SH: What made you think of the project – and commit to it and work so hard for it?

AB: Two things: first, an impulse to carry the culture war into the field of popular culture. And second, the writers themselves. In 25 years as an editor of nonfiction books I’ve watched the conservative intellectual project thrive and flourish. But like others on the right I’ve been dismayed by the slowness of conservatives to challenge the liberal dominance of popular culture. It’s not enough to carp and criticize the frequently substandard and offensive crap that liberals produce. As Andrew Breitbart used to say, we have to make our own—and it has to be good. But recently we began to notice an exciting development: hundreds, indeed thousands of conservative and libertarian writers were seizing the opportunity afforded by new digital technologies to produce and publish original works of fiction. Others were making music, video, graphics, and other forms of entertainment right on their laptops at home. These were ordinary men and women all over the country, working in isolation, doing their best to hone their art and find an audience. Yet no one seemed to know that they existed. So we started talking about what we could do to help them. Liberty Island grew out of those discussions.

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I Have No Arms, and I Must Type

Friday, March 21st, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
It's a metaphor for the writer's existence!

It’s a metaphor for the writer’s existence!

Hi, this is Sarah, and today we’re going to talk about Lloyd Biggle, Jr. Or, more particularly we’re going to talk about one of Lloyd Biggle, Jr’s books, The Still, Small Voice of Trumpets. There will be some spoilers, but the point of something like The Still, Small Voice of Trumpets is not the solution, but the execution.

It was always one of my favorite space operas, and then about five years ago, I started to get the impression it was more than that.

Back when I was in a writers’ group, one of our friends, Alan Lickiss, used to start his comments on every story, no matter how silly, with “Well, I thought it was a metaphor for the human existence.” No, he didn’t actually think that, it had just become a running gag and it made people nervous about getting a critique laugh.

Well, more and more, up till a few years ago, I got the impression that The Still, Small Voice of Trumpets was a metaphor of the writer existence specifically as it existed at the close of the twentieth century and the first decade of the twenty first.

The novel’s main character is a diplomatic envoy, or perhaps a diplomatic operative. Earth at the time encourages democracy, but doesn’t impose it from outside. In fact, the motto of the department is “Democracy imposed from the outside is the worst of tyrannies.”

So these people go in and are supposed to ease things so the prospective colony wants democracy.

The planet our hero finds himself in has a culture (the people are essentially humans) so starved for beauty and art that they’ll risk their lives to get them.

The harpers who play before the king are the most highly respected artists, each with an adoring fandom. But the king is mad. The punishment for crimes in this world is to have your arm cut off. Periodically for no reason at all, he has one of these man mutilated and become pariahs, like other criminals, living in “camps of armless.”

They can no longer play and therefore cannot reach their adoring fandom. And since by custom the armless don’t exist, these men are the living dead.

If you’re not following along with the similarity, until two, three years ago, this is what happened to writers. Suddenly one of the mad kings of the NYC establishment, determined you must be thrown out of the field. Perhaps you really didn’t sell very well, but in the cases I know nine times out of ten the cover was horrible, or they failed to print enough books, or no one pushed them. But when you didn’t sell the fault was yours. The lightest punishment might be that you got told you couldn’t work in that field/series/subgenre anymore. This is how I ended up with a string of names and different series. Sometimes, they just shut their ranks against you. And some of these were inexplicable. For instance, not only did my friend Rebecca Lickiss’s second book, Never After undergo three printings, but it was an SF book club alternate selection. But her multiple proposals were all rejected by the house, and no one else picked her up. I have theories, but mostly it’s the act of a mad king.

If you stayed on, you had perhaps the hardest time. When people told you they’d just discovered your first series, ten years after it had gone out of print and asked why you weren’t writing more, you couldn’t say “The house dropped it on the floor and then refused to buy more.” You had to smile and say “Well, I just didn’t want to write it anymore.” And accept the anger from the fan.

And sometimes, you just disappeared. And you were so embarrassed, you stopped going to conventions or interacting with the fans, and people thought you’d died or had stopped writing.

In The Still, Small Voice of Trumpets, the main character finds a way to bring those dispossessed, mutilated men to the attention of their fans again.

And indie is doing that for writers, now.

My friend, Cedar Sanderson went to her first convention as a professional this last weekend, and there she met Christopher Stasheff, whom many of us thought was dead or had stopped writing. (The two often being indistinguishable for writers, themselves.)

She interviewed him for a post in my blog last Monday. You might want to read the full interview. This is how Cedar met him, and what she found out:

I did a doubletake, then caught my First Reader, who was serving as my escort, and brought him back to where the gentleman was now standing looking at the table of bookmarks and promotional goodies. It was Christopher Stasheff, who I knew was my First Reader’s favorite fantasy author, and neither of us had any idea he would be at the convention. Nor, as it turns out, had the concom; he had decided to attend with his son on the spur of the moment. We chatted briefly, and after I got home and was talking online about meeting this living legend, I came up with the idea of asking him for an interview.

You see, while we were chatting that first time, he had responded to my question of “are you still writing?” with “yes, but no one is buying.” He went on to tell us that his son has set up a website for him  and they are beginning to release both his recent work, in snippets, and past work which has reverted to him.

Below, I know there will be links to Christopher Stasheff’s books. Buy one. Or two. Or three. I remember him as one of the best fantasy writers. For a long time, he was in exile, unable to reach his readers.

Now he and others are making their way out of the camps of the mutilated.

Think of your favorite writers, the ones who disappeared, and you don’t know if they’re living or dead. Maybe we should make a list of the disappeared and call them back to their fans. Because indie will let them return and reach us. This field was never about the intercession of a gate keeper. It was always about the relationship of the artist and a public who loves his/her art.

And now mad kings can’t keep us away from the fans anymore.

Hark, do you hear the call of indie? It’s the still, small voice of freedom.


[Charlie now.] I want to second Sarah’s recommendation for Chris Stasheff’s books. I honestly thought I’d read he had died, so I’m pleased to be wrong. (And how often do you see me write that?)

The thing is, he’s got lots of books. So here’s what I’m gonna do: I’m going to link four of his books instead of the usual two per author, and mix them into the others. Remember Rule 10: The whim of the editors is law, even with respect to the preceding rules. But I’m also going to strongly suggest you visit Chris’s Amazon Author’s Page for more books and more information.


Remember, tell all your writer friends to send the AUTHOR, TITLE, a SHORT BLURB, and an AMAZON LINK AMAZON LINK AMAZON LINK to book.plug.friday@gmail.com to be plugged here on PJ Media.

Deadlines are flexible, but in general the deadline for Friday is Tuesday the preceding week. So, for example, the deadline for March 7 was February 22.

That said, last week was a really big one, so some books are being put off until next week. Hey, we said the deadlines are flexible.

It really helps if you don’t bother with HTML magic at all, because we just have to parse it apart to put it into the template. The ideal submission is like

TITLE

My Book

AUTHOR

My name as it’s on the book cover.

AMAZON LINK

http://www.amazon.com/My-Book-By-Me/dp/B00ABCDEFG/

BLURB

no more than about 100 words.


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The Warlock in Spite of Himself
By Christopher Stasheff

Rod Gallowglass is a man of science who does not believe in magic. ** Gramarye is a world of witches and warlocks. Of strange abilities and phenomena. A world where society mirrors Earth’s own Middle Ages, and a world headed for doom. **

Rod Gallowglass must become a part of the local fabric to save the world from both itself and external forces that threaten its existence. But to do so, he must put aside his own convictions and beliefs, and become a warlock, in spite of himself. **

A grand adventure mixing science fi ction with elements of fantasy, this is the book that launched a whole series (fourteen books and counting).


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The Grey Man- Vignettes
By JL Curtis

John Cronin is a Texas rancher and lawman, a decorated Vietnam vet with connections to law enforcement agencies all around the world. Whether it’s a sniper competition or teaching the feds a thing or two about police work, Cronin doesn’t hesitate to pull the trigger. Of course, this slow-talking lawman’s biggest challenge yet might be when his granddaughter Jesse falls in love with a Marine. When drug smugglers stir up trouble in Cronin’s backyard and try to kill Jesse and her new beau, all hell breaks loose, and Cronin and his granddaughter are just the people to set things right.


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Her Majesty’s Wizard
By Christopher Stasheff

This 25th anniversary eBook edition of this classic story includes a new introduction by the author and new cover art by Anne Maria Brant!

Matt didn’t know the scrap of parchment was a trap. So he read the runes – and found himself on a world where reciting poetry verses worked magic. His first effort got him locked in a dungeon by the evil sorcerer Malingo. Trying for light, he brought forth a fire-breathing, drunken dragon, who told him Princess Alisande, rightful ruler of Merovence, was also held in the dungeon.

Naturally, he had to free her, himself, and the dragon, using poetry lifted from Shakespeare. And because she was young and beautiful, he swore to serve as her wizard. Then he learned that his job as wizard was to fix it so the three of them could overcome all the dark magic and armies of Malingo!

The addition to the party of a lust-witch and a priest who became a werewolf now and then didn’t seem much help. Matt figured he had got himself into quite a predicament.

For once, he was right!


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Bound into the Blood, Book 4 of The Hounds of Annwn
By Karen Myers

Book 4 of The Hounds of Annwn.

DISTURBING THE FAMILY SECRETS COULD BRING RUIN TO EVERYTHING HE’S WORKED SO HARD TO BUILD.

George Talbot Traherne, the human huntsman for the Wild Hunt, is preparing for the birth of his child by exploring the family papers about his parents and their deaths. When his improved relationship with his patron, the antlered god Cernunnos, is jeopardized by an unexpected opposition, he finds he must choose between loyalty to family and loyalty to a god.

He discovers he doesn’t know either of them as well as he thought he did. His search for answers takes him to the human world with unsuitable companions.

How will he keep a rock-wight safe from detection, or even teach her the rules of the road? And what will he awaken in the process, bringing disaster back to his family on his own doorstep? What if his loyalty is misplaced? What will be the price of his mistakes?

http://www.amazon.com/Bound-into-Blood-Virginian-Elfland-ebook/dp/B00IPY38Q6/


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A Wizard in Bedlam
By Christopher Stasheff

The rebel slaves need a leader. Even if he’s a wizard. Even if he’s dead…

The revolutionary DeCade died generations ago, leading the last great revolt of the planet Melange’s churls against their despotic feudal masters. His staff and bones were broken and lost; only his songs remain.

The churl Dulain joined the Resistance in his youth – an exile Resistance, devoted to readying the churls for their next great attempt at freedom. Now that moment finally nears. Back on Melange for the first time in years, Dulain must now hasten that revolt… or die.

The Giant Gar is the mysterious stranger whom no one knows, a power greater than he seems. More powerful, perhaps, than churls, masters, or even the Resistance…

This ebook edition contains new cover art by Margaret Miller and Ashley Cser, and an introduction by the author!


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The Dragonslayers, Volume 1: The Righteous and the Lawless
By Matthew Maynard

A clerical error. A loss. An opportunity. A hope. A pursuit…

When Scott Philipson loses his parents to a no-knock drug raid on the wrong house, he turns in desperation to selling marijuana to make ends meet. He gets plenty of help from his girlfriend Carley, but can he evade the grasp of Officer William Cavanaugh? The stakes rise when a doctor approaches him with an offer he shouldn’t refuse…

(Note: Matthew Maynard will be signing copies at the Virginia Festival of the Book Annual Book Fair in Charlottesville, VA on March 22nd.)


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Mind Out of Time
By Christopher Stasheff

Angus McAran, born brilliant but deformed, had as little use for other people as they had for him. Until the day he met the Neanderthal… and discovered that he had destiny, one he wasn’t sure he wanted. This is the origin story of Doc Angus and his time traveling organization, GRIPE.


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The Bookworm Returns: Life in Obama’s America:
By The Bookworm

In 2008, President Barack Obama promised that he would fundamentally transform America — and that’s one of the few promises he’s kept. In a series of clear, elegant, witty essays, Bookworm looks at the changes in American society since Obama became president. These changes have seen America become a poorer, less safe, less free, more racially-charged nation, adrift in a world that, without America as both protector and anchor, is also become increasingly poor and dangerous.


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Strangelets with a Side of Grilled Spam: Season One (The Strangelets Series)
By Michael Angel

After the original short story spent 21 months on the Top 100 Lists, Strangelets with a Side of Grilled Spam: Season One takes us through the entire post-apocalyptic saga.

Pursued by packs of deadly ‘steelies’, Lieutenant Shane MacWilliams and his Humvee crew journey through an America shattered by an alien invasion.

Things look grim…until MacWilliams comes across something that could turn the tide. It falls to him and his crew to get the word out across a land choked with post-apocalyptic wreckage and teeming with deadly alien monsters.

Their journey is blocked by steelie hunter-killers, vision-shrouding sand storms, and nightmare plains turned to radioactive slag by nuclear fallout.

And at the end looms their final confrontation with a horde of aliens set to wipe out the human species!


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The Thank You Angel
By Ann Trenton

A little girl learns about the joy of saying “Thank You” from her grandmother and the Thank You Angel.

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Author By Choice!

Friday, February 21st, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin

shutterstock_177549233

I’ve been a writer for as long as I remember. “I”, here, being Charlie. (Sarah’s as sick as an oyster. A dog will at least whine. All an oyster does is twitch when you put lemon juice on. The oyster tells me she’s on Godzillamycin and will be better soon.)

Anyway, as I say, I’ve been a writer certainly since about 20 minutes after I realized that someone actually made up those Tom Swift Jr. stories. By the time I was nine, I was writing and selling a mimeographed local “newspaper” for a penny a legal-sized sheet. Which cost a couple cents a sheet to publish; I was already ahead of my time in the news business.

After the first time I dropped out of college, I made some professional sales to the True Confession magazines and had my first experience with that special feeling when your characters are doing all the work and you’re just typing out what they’re saying. I also published a few non-fiction things in small markets, sometimes for money and sometimes just for the glory — or at least as much glory as you can get for publishing an article arguing that Japanese monshogaku really is a form of heraldry, under a made-up name in a Society for Creative Anachronism journal.

Then I got more serious about school, and then I got a job, and then I got another job, and then I went to graduate school, where I had a dissertation to write so I obviously had to write fiction instead.

I wasn’t wholly unsuccessful. Orson Scott Card read one of my stories and wrote me back “you are a writer!”, and after I requested permission to quote one of Ray Bradbury’s poems, he not only granted me the permission and complimented the story, but entered into a correspondence that lasted several years. And I embarked on a collection of one of the largest troves of Writers Of The Future Honorable Mentions in history.

I don’t remember how many any more, but I think if I’d have gotten one more I’d have gotten the complementary steak knives.

Then things happened, and I stopped writing and submitting fiction, and in fact I didn’t show anything I’d written to anyone until the Day of the Blog. I started commenting on Roger L Simon’s blog, and then PJM started, and I started writing for actual money. In fact, I’ve sold something over 300 articles now, and to a number of markets. Still no fiction, unless you count the DARPA grant applications in grad school.

This is all a long prologue — luckily pixels is cheap — to commenting on an article I read a few days ago. The article is “Is Traditional Publishing a Choice? Not really.” I recommend the whole article, but the basic point is simple: when someone says a writer “chose to go indie” or “chose traditional publishing”, what they really mean is that they chose to publish independently, or chose to enter a lottery in which the winnings are usually meager, the lottery administrators treat you like a serf, and then seem likely to cheat you on your winnings.

And that’s only if you actually win the lottery. Losing really sucks.

What happened is the Internet. I could start writing for publication, if not money, by commenting on blogs, and saw that some people actually liked what I was writing. Amazon and Kindle meant people writing books could publish the books for essentially nothing and make them available in the World’s Largest Bookstore™ — for better royalties than conventional publishing, and without the upfront costs and stigma of “vanity publishing”.

What’s more, it worked. John Locke became the first Kindle-only author to sell a million books — at 99¢ each, but still. Ric Locke, as far as I know unrelated to John, sold many thousands of his first (and, sadly, only) book, Temporary Duty, thanks to a plug on Instapundit. Just a couple of days ago, I got emails from two of the authors we’ve plugged here in Book plug Friday, who have sold between them several thousand books in a few weeks, which means they’ve probably gotten paid more than they might have gotten as an advance from a “real” publisher. All because they decided to be an author by choice — instead of entering the tradpub lottery, and becoming an author by chance.

Here are this week’s plugs for people who have become authors by choice.


Please pass word to all your writer friends that we accept submissions for Book Plug Friday at book.plug.friday@gmail.com. Submissions should include the TITLE, AUTHOR’S NAME as written on the cover, a short BLURB, and an AMAZON LINK AMAZON LINK AMAZON LINK.

Also: This has been a big couple of weeks for people offering us free copies of their books. It’s not that we don’t appreciate it, but honestly, we’re not reviewing these books, and speaking for myself the only way I’d have time to read more than I already do is if I could learn to read in my sleep. Sorry.


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Temporary Duty
By Ric Locke

A pair of enlisted sailors are assigned to an alien spaceship, to clean and prepare quarters for the real human delegation. Once there, they find that there’s a little more to it…

Alien worlds, exploding spaceships, IRS agents, derring-do, and a little sex. Oh, and mops, brooms, and dustpans. Truly there are wonders Out There.


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Passing In The Night
By Michael Kingswood

A year-long shift in the middle of the interstellar void can get pretty boring. For the Fourth shift crew of the starliner Pericles, enroute to Earth from one of the colony worlds, the passage could best be called routine.

Until the forward sensors detect an unknown and unexpected object ahead. What they find there, in the endless night of space, will forever change the universe, for them and for the all mankind.

Assuming they survive to tell anyone about the encounter.


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Twisted Breath of God
By Cedar Sanderson

A short story of the second contact with an alien civilization. Trade is good, luring humans into rushing their translations and contact with the aliens. A young man and a classroom of alien children are caught in the misunderstandings that ensue.


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The Smolder
By Kathryn Judson

Oleevaba is the proud, pampered breed representative of the Advanced Midstate New York breed of humans – until she’s kicked out of society for having too much initiative. She’s expected to dutifully and quietly starve to death like other expersons. Instead, she’s rescued by a parallel society that has, over several generations, become very good at staying out of sight. However, not all the Subterrans are happy about simply staying out of the clutches of the Topside government. Some of them yearn to live as free men, above ground, whatever the cost.

Other books set in The Smolder universe are The Birdwatcher and The Unexpecteds, both of which are set out West in Northam during the same time period as this book.


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Mutterings
By Clark Eugene Sutton

At age 93, after two careers, and after an active and satisfying retirement, Clark Sutton finds himself in Post-Retirement. His beloved Nora has passed on, the kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids, have busy lives of their own, and Clark has to adjust to life in an assisted living facility. He buys a laptop computer and begins a journal.

Mutterings operates on two different levels. The first level is entertainment. Clark is good company. Reading his journal is like spending summer nights on the front poach with a favorite great uncle who fills the evenings with stories and eccentric opinions as to how the world should be. The second level is substantive. Be it campaign finance, taxes, welfare, the war on drugs, education, or many other topics, Clark has ideas you won’t hear on either Fox News or MSNBC. (Fox News because they are preoccupied with the buzz-issues-of-the-day; MSNBC because they are clueless.) Because Clark is such good company, you will enjoy reading his views without the need to agree with him. But then you put down the book and start to think: could the old geezer actually be right? If the old man is crazy, why do his ideas seem to make sense? After even more thought, the question becomes: Why is no one else proposing things like this?

Read Mutterings the first time for entertainment. Read it the second time to change your world view.


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Subjective Grounds: Writings by Persons with the Initials S.G.
Edited by Sean Gleeson

Sean Gleeson has searched all of literature to bring you what is, without a doubt, the world’s finest anthology of works by authors with the initials “S.G.” Spanning centuries, continents, cultures, and genres, this collection of highly enjoyable reads features writing by Susan Glaspell, Saxo Grammaticus, Samuel Gompers, Saint Gregory, Sun Guoting, Sidney Godolphin, and more.

Also, it’s the only book anywhere with the infamous article “Hack Heaven” by disgraced former journalist Stephen Glass.

You know what? This book would be a unique, thoughtful, and yet very cheap gift for a acquaintance with the initials S.G. You should keep a couple copies in your car or something. “Oh, hey, Sandy! Yeah, happy birthday. I got you this book.” You win.

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10 Things You Must Never/Always Do

Friday, February 7th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin

It’s the Book Plug Friday!

Just go YOUR way.

Just go YOUR way.

Brad Torgensen has a blog up, on the contradictory advice writers get. His list reads like this:

1 and 2 — You must never/always self publish
3 and 4 – You must never/always use a well known trope for your story
5 and 6 – You must never/always offend someone with what you write
7 and 8 – You must never/always write short fiction
9-10 – You need a writers’ group to help you polish your work/your work is best right off the bat.

Brad is very rational and sane in his post, and you should read it.  Here’s an excerpt:

1. You must never self-publish.
This was gospel when I was plowing through my proverbial first million words of “practice” fiction. And at the time, it was good advice. Self-publishing invariably meant vanity publishing, which is a form of publishing where the author spends hundreds or even thousands of dollars of his/her own money, to put his/her book into print. Vanity presses tend to be scams as often as not, and with the advent of widespread electronic book platforms (Kindle, Kobo, Nook, etc.) as well as print-on-demand options like Amazon.com’s CreateSpace, vanity presses are also wholly unnecessary. Plus, self-publishing doesn’t carry the same stigma it used to. Once upon a time self-publishing was a warning flag to the rest of the genre—hey guys, I couldn’t cut it with editors! These days, not so much. There are good writers who are self-publishing, and making a decent amount of money. You have no doubt heard of a few.

2. You must always self-publish.
A lot of bogeyman-mongering has been going on the past few years, where traditional publishing and publishers are concerned: that they will always rip you off, that they don’t abide by their own contracts, that the editors suck and don’t know what they’re doing, that anyone who signs with a traditional publisher becomes a “slave” to that publisher, and so on, and so forth. Frankly, it’s up to you to know your markets. Traditional publishing is still the best bet: to make money and get exposure. And it’s also got a degree of branding power that’s tough to argue with. Why? Because writers who make the editorial cut have at least survived one kind of significant professional filter. There are lots of readers who pay attention to this. So scope out those houses beforehand, talk to writers already under contract, and do your homework. An educated writer with a bit if business savvy can do well in trad pub.

Sarah, as you know, is less sane and far less polite.

So, her answers would go something like this:

1 and 2 — other than Baen and a couple of indie presses I have no intention of writing for anyone else, but should another house emerge that is rational and treats its authors as people not interchangeable widgets, I might be tempted.  The future will tell.

3 and 4 -  since I usually can’t find that box that people can’t think outside of — being so far out of it I can’t see it with a periscope — I don’t really have the option of using a familiar trope. Though since I grew up in Heinlein novels, I do sometimes go home again.

5 and 6 – Well… since apparently some people were offended with the politics of my shifters fantasies, which don’t got any, and since I seem to offend people by continuing to breathe, this too might be a moot point.  However my feeling is that you should write is what you FEEL intensely about. That’s what will be most present and alive to you. If you are lukewarm, the readers will be too.  So, some people will hate you for what you write.  Let them. Think about it, by raising their blood pressure you’re giving them all the benefits of exercise without trouble.

7 and 8 -  I am a natural novelist.  I trained myself to write short fiction because I thought that’s how one always broke into writing.  I’m glad — now — that I have the skill.  Was it worth the three years spent acquiring it?  Probably not.  But it was done, and now it is what it is.

9 and 10 – At some point — listen to me, all of you — everyone outgrows their writers’ group.  At that point, you’ll have to stand on your own two feet.  As for things being perfect off the bat… well, mine aren’t, but that’s why I have beta readers.

For all of these and the other contradictory pieces of advice you’ll get breaking in, remember — You might break in by following them, but to remain published and have a career, you must do it your way.  (Cues Frank Sinatra.)

Go and read Brad, who is, as I said, far more rational than I am.  Then come back here for the book plug Friday!


Last week we asked you to “please pass word to all your writer friends that we accept submissions for Book Plug Friday at book.plug.friday@gmail.com. Submissions should include the TITLE, AUTHOR’S NAME as written on the cover, a short BLURB, and an AMAZON LINK AMAZON LINK AMAZON LINK.”

And it worked! So do it again!


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Weight of Worlds
By Alma Alexander

A collection of breathless and enchanting tales of magic, cruelty, and sacrifice – a connoisseur’s box of chocolates, dark and bittersweet. to be nibbled at and savored. Alexander’s stories owe a debt to the dark and twisted fairy tales of Oscar WIlde and the passion and poignant drama of the tales of Hans Christian Andersen; the dozen stories here are fairy tales for grown-ups – they are not the sort of stories you might want to read to your young children at bedtime. But if you read them just before go to sleep, your reward is likely to be dreams that are rich and strange, and that you may feel you have walked for a little while on roads paved with real magic.


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Glimmer Vale
By Michael Kingswood

Lydelton, a small fishing town in a remote valley called Glimmer Vale, is the perfect place for two fighting men on the run to stop and decide on a plan. But when Julian and Raedrick arrive they find the town besieged by a ruthless band of brigands. Worse, the brigands have taken up station in the mountain passes, blocking the two friends’ escape. With no way around the brigands and no option of returning the way they came, Julian and Raedrick accept an offer of employment. Their mission: defeat the brigands and restore peace to Glimmer Vale.

They are outnumbered at least twenty to one, long odds even if they recruit help. But that help may not be enough when the specter of their past rears its head, forcing Julian and Raedrick to openly face what they are fleeing or risk losing not just their freedom but the lives and fortunes of Lydelton’s inhabitants.

Glimmer Vale is a short, fun fantasy adventure novel, the first installment in the Glimmer Vale Chronicles.


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A little book of cat: Meditations on Japanese art of sumi-e and the essence of catness.
By Poul A. Costinsky

Meditations on Japanese art of sumi-e and the essence of catness. All the illustrations in this book are original sumi-e (Japanese ink on paper) paintings by Poul A. Costinsky. The so-called poetry is too.


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Muddling Through MS: 40 Years of Doing It My Way
By Kathleen Scully Aquilino

Those with MS and the people whose lives they touch will find this book helpful in understanding the wide ranging effects with a firsthand look at what it is like to live day after day, year after year with the disease. Written by a woman who is still walking after more than 40 years, the author paints a full and encouraging picture of how it is possible to have a satisfying life despite illness. Kathleen Scully Aquilino experienced the first symptom while in college but was not officially diagnosed until she was 44. Through the growing number of ailments and afflictions her mysterious disease brought, she kept going. Working, Marrying. Making a home. Adopting and raising a daughter. The delay in diagnosis actually did a great deal to help her stay positive and active. There are some lessons here in the power of expectations.


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Ierna (Refrain of Legends)
By Les Hauge

Ierna is an island on a world at the center of the universe where magic and legend converge and an epic battle is raging between the forces of light and the forces of darkness. Ancient Ireland of Earth is a reflection of Ierna and what happens there will ultimately affect Earth and all other worlds.

Cuhal O’Connor has murdered his brother the King and, with the help of Porthcodal, the arch-druid of Tara, seeks to take the throne for himself. To support the king and his own ambition, the druid has unleashed old gods and dark forces to support the king in his subjugation of the country. He has called a race of evil sorcerers, the Fomorians, to the island to assist in his plans.

Opposing Cuhal are Sean O’Connor, his younger brother, and Brian O’Mordha, former King’s Champion and high general of the army. They are determined to stop Cuhal, but have few resources and a price on their heads. They rescue Sean’s niece Maggie, the former king’s daughter, who escaped when Cuhal murdered her parents. Sean knows the true ruler of Tara must have the Gift, a psychic feel for the land, and while he doesn’t have it, Maggie does. They escape from Tara and set out for the fortress of another major family, the O’Neills, in search of allies.


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The First Impression
By David K. Thomasson

A man framed . . . his life ruined . . . and then the twists begin. Jack Bolt rose from a hillbilly childhood of poverty, neglect, and abuse. Thanks to his unusually keen mind and the faith of a teacher and a bookstore owner, his future looks bright. At age 25 he’s working maintenance in a college town, studying on a scholarship, and about to marry the girl of his dreams. During a routine service call at a church he runs into 13-year-old Sarah Ellison. Moments after he leaves, Sarah is brutally murdered. Bolt is charged with the crime and convicted by a brilliant prosecutor who uses his own honesty against him. He’s been framed with tainted evidence, but this is no whodunit. Bolt knows exactly who did it—Conrad Baylor, church deacon and deputy chief of police. Held in jail during his trial, Bolt is haunted by the ‘howdunit’: How did Baylor manage to tamper with the evidence and frame him? And how can he discover the secret and clear his name if he goes to prison? But then, in a strange turn of events, Bolt is offered a chance to prove his innocence and recover his once-promising future. That’s when a deadly game of cat-and-mouse begins . . .


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MUSES OF ROMA
By Rob Steiner

Marcus Antonius Primus began a golden age for humanity when he liberated Roma from Octavian Caesar and became sole Consul. With wisdom from the gods, future Antonii Consuls conquered the world and spawned an interstellar civilization.

Three weeks before the millennial anniversary of the Antonii Ascension, star freighter captain Kaeso Aemelius, a blacklisted security agent from Roman rival world Libertus, is asked by his former commanders to help a high-ranking Roman official defect. Kaeso misses his lone wolf espionage days – and its freedom from responsibility for a crew – so he sees the mission as a way back into the spy business. Kaeso sells it to his crew of outcasts as a quick, lucrative contract…without explaining his plan to abandon them for his old job.

But Kaeso soon learns the defector’s terrifying secret, one that proves the last thousand years of history was built on a lie.

Can Kaeso protect his crew from Roman and Liberti forces, who would lay waste to entire worlds to stop them from revealing the civilization-shattering truth?


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The Prisoner and The Assassin
By Tom Nixon

In the future, America is divided. It’s been two decades since Washington D.C. was destroyed and the West Coast devastated by EMPs and The Federal Council rules the country. Only the Free Territories, carved out in the bloody aftermath of two revolts against the Council defy them.

When a shocking assassination threatens the uneasy peace, the Prime Minister of the Free Territories, Chelsea Andrews is faced with a choice: fight to save the peace or take a chance to make America free once more. As both sides race to prevent a war that no one wants, a shadowy enemy from her past waits for his chance at revenge and the secret he holds could be the most powerful one of all:

Who is Prisoner 112?

The answer to that question may decide the fate of America, once and for all…


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Demi God
By Zoey Ivers

In a world where prayers are often answered, and saints talk to the Gods . . .
The First Gods created the Universe. And their time done, returned their Fire to their creation.

The Ancient Gods crafted the World, and the People. And their time done, gave their Fire to their creations.

Then Men became so great souled they became gods themselves upon the death of their final mortal bodies.

The Elder Siblings have long ruled the Continents, attending to Dynasties, Nations, and Wars.

The Younger Siblings are not yet so strong, and content themselves with matter of local importance. Hearth and Hone, Trade and Piracy. Death and Birth. Storms and Tides.

But men continue to act like men. Power accumulates, attracts and nurtures both good and bad stewards.

This is a time of the bad stewards. A time when the Church has ceased to serve god and congregants, and insists that the congregants serve the Church. A time when the saints are constrained in what they ask the Gods to do. A time when the son of a saint and a god is well advised to keep himself away from the gaze of the powerful.

This is a time when the gods themselves have become corrupted.

This is a time when a demi god can save the world—if he manages to first save himself.

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A Cover Story

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt
Sometimes covers are supposed to create an impression

Sometimes covers are supposed to create an impression

A supplemental series to Selling Your Writing in 13 weeks.  Post 1.

I’ve been meaning to do a post on covers, as a supplemental to my 13 weeks posts on selling your writing, but I couldn’t seem to do it, until I realized that I was in fact trying to cram several posts worth into a single post.  Whenever I do that, I get highly bizarre comments, from people who read their own stuff into what I elided.

Part of this is a problem that I don’t remember what lay people know and don’t know anymore.

By lay people in this case, I mean people outside of publishing.  Even avid readers might never have noticed consciously that covers are meant to signal genre, nor all the other subtle signals they give.

Before I start, I took the cover workshop with WMG publishing, and that made me aware of things even I hadn’t noticed, and I’ve been a professional in the field for several years. For anyone doing indie publishing, if you can afford the workshop take it.  We’re right now scraping up the money to put older son through it.  A I don’t use the same tools they do (I judged it was easier for me to use less professional tools than to spend a lot of time – more important than money – learning InDesign.  So I use tools that I’m used to, the highly outdated but very familiar to me JASC paintshop. The newer versions, by Corel, which I own, aren’t nearly as good, but the last JASC version I can make sit up and sing, because I’ve been using it for ten years.  And what it can’t do GIMP can.  Both programs I’m familiar with and therefore find preferable to a program that I found oddly counterintuitive and would have to learn to use.) But even so, what I learned transferred. I won’t say it made me an awesome cover designer.  That is an actual profession and you need years of practice and usually specialize in one genre.  But it has made me a decent cover designer.

The other thing I should say is that every time I make one of these posts, I get people offering to design my covers.  Most of these people have a background in art and design and usually some experience in tiny presses (or advertising layout.)  All of the offers I’ve had, when I look at their samples, they’re very pretty… and all of them signal “literary and little” which is inappropriate for my books which are, unabashedly genre.  Looking over the covers, I see myself at a con, passing the tables with books for tiny presses with names like Necrophiliac Duck Press.  This is not the image I want to project, since my books were once published by big publishers, and I want the same feel for the re-issue.  Also, I’m still publishing with one major publisher, and don’t want people to think everything I bring indie is “too precious for words.”

Some of it will be, but when it is, I shall so signal.

Fortunately for me, the big houses don’t usually give midlisters like me experienced cover designers.  (I’m not talking of Baen here. They’re always an exception.) They usually hand the job to the first under-designer just hired from community college.  And that level I can imitate.

However, to know where we are and what we’re doing, let’s start with a look at some bestseller covers in some distinct genres.  And pointing out how they signal genre/subgenre.

This is something you should always do before you start designing covers.  Go look at what other people are doing.  Look at the bestsellers under paper (because that’s usually the professional books, that got lavish attention) and their covers, and figure out what to do for yours.

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How To Write A Proposal

Saturday, January 11th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt
You want to write a novel?  For me?

You want to write a novel? For me?

If you’re going to go through traditional publishing (which might still be feasible at times) or even if you’re submitting to one of the new micro presses, there will come a time, after you’ve done a pitch for the book or after you met an editor at a convention, or even after you sent in a query asking if they wanted to see your idea, where someone will say, “Sure, send me a proposal and three chapters.”

There was a time when these words struck terror in me.  This is because I had clue zero how one wrote “a proposal” or a synopsis, or any of that stuff.  (Technically the “proposal” is three chapters and a synopsis, but half the time the editor asks for a “proposal and three chapters.”  Don’t stress, she really means a synopsis.  Well, sort of. Calm down, all will be revealed.)

Then while I was sitting at a writer’s group meeting, I told the lady next to me I had no idea how to do this, and she sketched it for me in the back of an envelope.  This was not QUITE all that was needed.  The subtleties of the different types of proposal and developing the art of a “selling” proposal took a little longer.

I can’t in a single article propose to teach you all the details of writing a selling proposal, but I can perhaps help you along.

First, remember that a proposal/synopsis is a selling tool.  Unless you’re asked to do a chapter by chapter synopsis, don’t do that.  I thought that was the only form of proposal for the longest time, but if you read a proposal that is written that way, your eyes quickly glaze over.  Yes, it might be a complete picture of your plot, but a book is more than a plot.  First, the person must know why they would care about what your characters are doing.  This is often a mistake of newbie writers, too, when you ask “tell me about your novel.”  They don’t give us what is neat about their novel, or the overarching reason I should care, but (using Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice because even if you haven’t read it – philistine! – you can look up the plot or watch a mini-series – but not the movie, because it sucks) they’ll tell you something like this,

“There’s this family, and they have all these girls see, and then there’s this assembly in town, and then the older one meets this guy and he’s rich and they like each other, but then the younger one meets his friend who is even richer, but he’s all like stuck up and proud.”

A chapter by chapter synopsis is often like that, but at greater length and even more boring.

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Making the Most of What You Have

Saturday, December 28th, 2013 - by Sarah Hoyt

Selling your writing in 13 weeks, week 12

You can't have everything you want.  Learn to make the most of what you have.

You can’t have everything you want. Learn to make the most of what you have.

My grandmother was a great one for making the most of what you had.  Things got mended and sewn, and made to serve another turn.  In another sense, too, she was one for making the most of what you have.  One of her sayings was “when you lose heart, run on your gut.”

Recently on my blog, I got accused of being Irish for essentially saying the equivalent of “the food is terrible in this establishment, but I keep coming back because the portions are so large.”

The weird thing is that in the world of indie publishing these are good things.

I recently took a marketing class with WGM publishing.  Did it tell me much that I didn’t know?  No.  But sometimes it’s important to get a confirmation of what you know to be true through someone else’s eyes.

We’ll return to this again because there is another point there – that the field is shifting so fast that sometimes you see things changing and you can’t be sure if it’s changing just for you or for everyone else.  And you can’t tell if it’s a trend or a bleep like the ridiculously low sales figures over summer.

So you take classes, or you get together with friends to talk how sales are going, or you throw out an SOS on indie publisher boards – to see how it’s going and what’s worked for other people.

The main thing I learned is that the old ways don’t seem to work.  I was talking to a friend about this and I pointed out that from what I’ve seen, unless you have the kind of money that can blanket the airwaves and tv stations with advertisements; unless you can put an ad up on Time Square, unless you can give your book the send off party to end all send off parties… don’t bother.

It used to be that you could give your book a relatively solid send off by having parties at a few of the larger conventions, or by going to BEA and charming the book sellers.  You still can, to an extent, if you have a publisher behind you, pushing all the way.  (Though I’m not sure how effective that is – and neither is anyone else, because the metrics are slippery.)

To an extent publicity has always bedeviled authors.  Readers approach reading as a personal relationship to the author, and it’s very hard to create those with any sort of one-size-fits-all campaign.

Some people I knew back in the nineties hired publicists.  I tried to hire one.  But even the expensive ones didn’t seem to have any clue how to promote my books.  I remember one in particular who, three years after the Shakespeare Series crashed and burned and just before the last of them was taken off print designed this entire proposed marketing campaign based on… my writing about Shakespeare for Academic journals to promote these books.  Forget that writing for academic journals was a career in itself, and one I didn’t want, I couldn’t seem to get these people to understand the books were out of print, a death more final than that of any mortal body.

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Know When to Hold It

Saturday, December 21st, 2013 - by Sarah Hoyt
You're in it for the long haul.  Time your game.

You’re in it for the long haul. Time your game.

Selling Your Writing In 13 Weeks, Week 11

I’m not recommending any of you give up on indie publishing because you think you hold a bad hand.  This is more a matter of “you’ve got to learn to pace it.”

Look, when I was young, before I got married, I used to run. I was about to say I used to run marathons, but I only ran a few formal ones. Mostly what I did was go for a good run to shake out the stress (as I was going to college, tutoring, writing, and had an active social life, there was a time interning in a newspaper and… well… things got stressful.  Oh, yeah, also I was politically involved.)  But I ran long distances.  I sucked as a sprinter, but I was really good long distance, even in competition, because I knew how to pace myself. I wasn’t that fast over any stretch of road, but I kept going and going and going so that as other people fell (panting) by the wayside, I would be one of the first if not the first across the finish line.

Writing indie is not a sprint – it’s a marathon.

One of my friends who is an indie writer and doing fairly well is accruing her own cluster of “starting out writers looking for advice.”  This is normal. This way of publishing is so new that each of us that goes a little way out of the starting gate will become a “guru” in no time.  It reminds me a lot of computer programing back in the eighties (my husband was a programmer at the time) or even of aviation in World War I or – further back – of “established settlers” in the West.

What all of these have in common is that they are fast-changing landscapes filled with adventure and peril (of a sort.  No.  Really.  No one is going to shoot you for publishing indie.  I hope.  But you can make a fool of yourself very easily.)

And in all of these the space between “newbie” and old man is incredibly short.  If you’ve been around the scene for even a little while, you become one of the “old, trusted ones.”

My friend Cedar Sanderson – two books out, a lot of mistakes made, a lot learned, and her second book selling shockingly well – found herself the guru of a small, starting out group.

Because I’ve been her mentor for about 11 years (during most of which she wasn’t writing, but dealing with life issues – but wanting to write eventually) she comes to me when she doesn’t know QUITE what to do.

One of the problems she brought me was one of her own fledglings, who is just starting out, and who – with a few short stories out – intends to make a living out of this in a couple of years.

She didn’t know how to explain to him that while this can happen, it’s not the most likely way for things to shake out.  (I didn’t either.  I mean, I can say things, but if people aren’t going to believe me…)

So, for those of you who are willing to believe me, before you get the idea that indie publishing (or any publishing) is the fast way to fame and fortune: writing is a business.  More importantly, writing is a craft and a profession.

We all know rich lawyers, rich doctors, rich artists, for that matter (well, I know a few who are very well off.)  However, no one sane has ever made a life plan that consists of the following: week one – graduate law school.  Week two – get a million dollar check.

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How to Make Your Book Look Important

Saturday, December 14th, 2013 - by Sarah Hoyt
Just like when setting out to claim your kingdom it's important to look like a princess, when setting out to look for bestsellerdom, it's important to look like a bestseller.

Just like when setting out to claim your kingdom it’s important to look like a princess, when setting out to look for bestsellerdom, it’s important to look like a bestseller.

Selling your Writing in 13 Weeks, Week 10

Yes, I know, it sounds like I’m always saying more or less the same thing: “you have to give the impression that you are traditionally published if you want to really sell.”

Unfortunately, this is true.  The public still views traditionally published books as better.  Though there is an interesting effect happening, maybe because I’ve talked so much about indie publishing, in that some of my fans are contacting me about typos and issues with my traditionally published books, forcing me to say “well, there’s nothing I can do about it now.”

But in general, you want to look like the traditionally published books in your sub-genre.  (Minus the typos – which frankly happen in any publishing, and, yes, will happen to you too.)

Only you don’t want to look like just any books in that subgenre.

Look, in the bad old days the publishing houses had to limit their resources. This meant that most of the books got thrown out into that big, cold world with barely enough work put into it to look decent and professional.

For instance, at a panel at a con, a friend and I were discussing her just-accepted book with the two editors who, supposedly at least, worked on it, and it became obvious to us they’d only read the proposal and never the completed manuscript.

This is because my friend’s book was a second novel, and had been slated to be released with as little support and fanfare as possible.

Now, you’ve gone out and got yourself a publishing house name, and you have a publishing house webpage (don’t do what I do, and forget to update it/not settle on a theme for months on end) and you – frankly – look professional.

So… are you going to just release your book out there, with minimal work/support, like any other mid-list book?

I can hear you protesting now.  “But Sarah, you say, I am a shoe-string operation with exactly one editor and one writer.”

Yes, of course, and we will talk about compromises you can and have to make, but there are also things you can do to make it look like the book is “high list” and important to the house.

“But I can’t make all my books look high list!” you say.

Um… why not?

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Measuring Up Outlets For Indie Publishing

Saturday, November 30th, 2013 - by Sarah Hoyt

Selling Your Writing in 13 Weeks, Week 8

Like a beautiful mirage in the desert of publishing, for decades ebooks were cool, interesting, but never quite there.

Like a beautiful mirage in the desert of publishing, for decades ebooks were cool, interesting, but never quite there.

For a long time ebooks were sort of a mirage.

When I attended my first writers’ conference twenty years ago, the publishing world was abuzz with rumors of ebooks and how great they would be.

There were all sorts of panels which in retrospect seem rather silly about how ebooks would change the reading experience. You’d have these integrated “smart books” with lines you could click on to get more background.

Being a notoriously doubtful kind of person, I remember thinking “Uh… not unless people operate very differently from my household.”

There was no way I could lug my monitor to the bathroom or the kitchen.

Besides the whole idea of books with click through points seemed… odd.  It might be okay, I thought, for non fiction – while reading a book on, say, glass blowing, I could see the clicking on some link for “older techniques” (still, unless those excursions were brief, it would become disruptive.)  However, people were talking about “click through to find the character’s personal history” or “click through for a summary of how they got to this situation” or – more ridiculous – “click through for a map of the land” or schemata of the spaceship or…

I was greener than grass, but I was not so green that I did not know the experience of reading is following the writers’ voice and storytelling ability.  As tempting as it is, in the second and subsequent books in a series to cue in the readers who haven’t read previous books without distracting the others, my guess is that the experience would be lacking.

I must have been right.  For the next fifteen years, at conference, workshop, gathering of writers and editors, this wonderful idea of an ebook future was brought up. But, like rejuvenation or teleporting, it was a scientific development that was always in the future.

Does this mean nothing happened?  Oh, no.  Baen Books had a vibrant ebook store, and, as pagers gave way to personal organizers, people started reading on those and on other portable devices.  (At the time my own dream device was the Irex Iliad.  I was never able to afford it)

However most ebook reading devices were massively expensive, uncomfortable on the eyes, and not used unless you had some special incentive – like traveling a lot.  Baen sold comfortably to a segment of the population who liked ebooks, but most other houses – after a few abortive attempts at an ebook department – more or less ignored the whole thing.

The outlet for indie books I became aware of was Smashwords, and the quality of most books posted there, from the bizarrely off-size covers to the writing, reinforced every stereotype of the self-published author.

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