In Praise of Authors and Readers and No Gatekeepers: Some Counterpoints to a Piece in Publishers Weekly

Readers and Writers

Chris Pavone, an editor turned novelist whose entire career has played itself out in the traditional publishing world, has a few things to say about indie publishing in a piece over at Publishers Weekly. Spoiler: he’s agin it.

 In a market of unlimited book options, how does an audience make choices? At the moment, most of that burden is carried by the book business. The publicity and marketing campaigns and cover designs and flap copy—the things that publishers do—are not just methods of selling books; they’re also readers’ main tools for discovering books. The same is true of the curating and merchandising in stores, and book coverage in the media. Without reviews, staff recommendations, and endcap displays, unlimited choices aren’t narrowed down—they’re overwhelming.

You know what? There are already hundreds of thousands, probably millions, of books in what Chuck Wendig calls the “shit volcano” of self publishing. And yet, my job as a reader has gotten no more difficult. I have no trouble at all finding the books I wish to read, and the task of sorting through the crap to find the gold is precisely the same as it has always been. There are a lot of self-published books I don’t want to read, but there are also a hell of a lot of traditionally published books I don’t want to read.

And “unlimited book options” is a bad thing? More choices for the reader, more books in the world, is a bad thing? Many more good writers able to get their books published, and to make money from them, is a bad thing? I don’t think so.

 Second, if all books become cheap or free to readers, then writers are unlikely to earn much (if anything). Who will want to write if writing doesn’t pay?

 Ooooh, scary. But you know what? Writing pays about 10% when traditionally published books sell for their standard prices. But it pays 70% when independently published books sell. That’s seven times the royalty. So a $10 book from one of the huge publishing corporations will pay a writer a buck per sale; an indie book only has to sell for $2 to beat that (a much more attractive price to a buyer), paying the writer $1.40. If the indie book sells for $3, it nets the writer more than a 10% royalty on a traditionally published book selling for $20. At $5, the writer is getting a royalty of $3.50, three and a half times what he’d get for a ten dollar book from the traditional gatekeepers.

Who will want to write if writing pays better?

Third, without the gatekeepers, those who do write will create books that are worse—and not just authors whose dormant genius must be drawn out by patient editors, but all authors. Every book that doesn’t first have to get past a gatekeeper or two, or 10, before being put in front of the public will be worse.

What balderdash. Every book? Really? Even those by writers who’ve already been published by the big corporations and know their way around a gerund and a character arc? Even those by writers who hire professional editors to help them polish their material exactly the same way editors at traditional houses do? Even those by writers willing to do the work because it’s work they care deeply about, and work that may finally earn them a reasonable living?

I get what he’s saying, though. He’s saying, “I work in traditional publishing. Traditional publishing pays my bills [though probably not all of them]. Therefore, traditional publishing must prevail, lest I have to fend for myself and become more responsible for the quality of my own books, which is really scary when you’re as entrenched and calcified and hidebound as I am.”

Hiring Artist Tess Fowler: Good Idea or Bad?

Tess Fowler, Artist

Hmm. Interesting.

For those who have been following the unfortunate tale of my wasting a thousand bucks on artist Tess Fowler and getting absolutely nothing but grief in return, there is some new information. This may be of particular interest to anyone who may consider hiring Tess for similar work.

I have been very open about my experience with Tess, how Ms. Fowler and I had a falling out and I lost a lot of cash. But I’d assumed that I was at least partially at fault, that even with her reactions to my criticisms and her hostility and refusal to negotiate and get back to work (or refund any of the money), that if I had somehow found the right words, perhaps we would have reconciled, and perhaps Tess Fowler would have then finished the job like a professional.

However, since posting my fully documented account of that experience, I have heard from not one, not two, but several others who have all started their messages with essentially the same statement:

It’s not you, it’s her.

Apparently, Tess Fowler is starting to be known for this sort of thing. While she promotes herself as a professional artist who is too cool for school to work for big companies (and as a “Warrior” who publicly called comic book writer Brian Wood a misogynist and a dick for hitting on her one time), she is apparently leaving a chain of broken promises and unearned payments in her wake. It’s not my place to make public the specifics of what I’ve been told by the folks who’ve contacted me (though I wish they’d go public as I have, for the benefit of all the folks who may yet suffer as we have), but apparently Tess has a tendency to make big promises then react very, very badly at the first sign of disagreement or tough critique. She disavows even the tiniest bit of responsibility and turns very nasty very quickly, accusing her former collaborators of being horrible people of some sort (in my case, I was mentally unbalanced and potentially dangerous), and refusing to deal with them at all thereafter.

(Tess also publicly accused me of “stalking” her when I posted my full account of our disastrous collaboration. Apparently, if you hire someone, pay them a lot of money, then send them a few messages and try to call them to see if they’re going to do the job they hired on to do, that’s stalking.)

As I said, I have heard this from several independent sources over the past few weeks, and I’ve even been privy to the exact communications that passed between some of these folks and Tess. I am naturally interested in hearing from any others; I’ll keep your secrets, though I do encourage you to post a public, objective account of what happened. And my blog is available as a forum for all of you: feel free to comment below any of my posts on the matter, and if you need a place to post your full account, you can do it here with my blessing.

For the record: I am only passing on what I have been told here, and in some cases what I have seen in shared documentation. But that documentation was very convincing, and having been through what I went through hiring Tess Fowler as an artist, I’m convinced that it’s true.

I Love Bookstores. But Do They Love Me?

Your book, here? HAHAHAHAHA

We hear a lot about how authors, and everyone else, should favor local, indie bookstores over Amazon and big chains. I love bookstores, especially cool little ones, and I even link to IndieBound on my site above Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, and other larger vendors.

Well, I recently tested the waters at the two most prominent indies in my town to see if they’d sell my book, Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom. (I should have done this months ago, but what with the crushing depression and electroshock therapy I just didn’t get around to it.)

The first I won’t name because I’m not looking to be personally contentious with them as they are very nice folks who run a great shop. It happens to be the very store where I debuted the novel in 2009, when I was with Putnam. I had a very successful signing with them, came in to sign books when they needed me to, and had what seemed to be a friendly relationship with the main folks there. I love this store. I showed it off to Nydia when she was visiting in the summer. I recommend it to folks all the time. I even used to link to their website from the Doc Wilde site, until I left Putnam and my book was temporarily out of print.

I walked in their door, an author who already ran the gantlet of traditional publishing, landing a multi-book contract with one of the largest publishers in the world, now carrying an improved, new, beautifully illustrated edition of my first book. A book with three pages of raves in the front from sources like Daniel Pinkwater, Kirkus Reviews, Publisher’s Weekly, and the screenwriter of Thor and X-Men First Class. A book, incidentally, with a 4.5 star rating from readers on Amazon. While I was waiting to speak to someone, I even helped a customer, selling her Terry Pratchett’s The Wee Free Men (which is awesome and hilarious). Continue reading

Announcing: The Frogs of Doom Typo Challenge!!! [UPDATED! AGAIN!]

DOC WILDE AND THE FROGS OF DOOM
When I left a multi-book contract at Putnam and decided to publish my Doc Wilde adventure series independently, it was for various reasons including getting the lion’s share of the profits from my work and full creative control. Part of the latter was a desire to produce books that were at least as professionally wrought as those coming out of a publishing house, and of which I could be proud.

We see a lot of insult hurled at the indie publishing community. The fact that it has become so easy to publish has undeniably opened the gates to a lot of lazy, shoddy, unedited books. Some people refuse to see the other side of the equation, that a great many very talented writers who have either not been fortunate enough to break in with a traditional publisher yet, or who have opted to leave the old system as I have, now have the chance to share their work and possibly even make a living from it.

I’m not the first to set out to do things right, by any stretch. But I wanted to be one of the writers who prove that indie publishing can result in wonderful books, a group that gets larger all the time.

One of the most common complaints I see about self-publishing is that the books are terribly edited, full of typos and bad spelling. As a writer who slaves over his prose with a goal of not needing to be edited, I was determined that no one be able to sling that particular brickbat my way. Which brings me to:

The Frogs of Doom Typo Challenge

From Monday, June 17, 2013 through Monday, June 24, 2013, everyone who emails  me (at docwildekickstarter@gmail.com) identifying a typo or misspelling in  Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom will be entered into a random drawing to win an autographed first edition hardback of the book, an autographed copy of the new deluxe second edition, and my thanks for pointing out something I can correct to make my book even better.

This applies only to the new edition from Outlaw Moon Books, and doesn’t include the excerpt from the next book in the back (that book is still being developed, so the text of the excerpt is essentially still in first draft form).

Any submissions which arrive prior to noon on Monday will be deleted. Likewise, any typos pointed out beforehand (in comments here or elsewhere) will disqualify you; I want people to have a fair shot at getting their entry in when the time is right.

If anyone wins the challenge, I will update this post with the news as well as writing a new post to announce it.

Good luck, intrepid readers!

UPDATE: It was pointed out to me that I really wasn’t allowing much time for the contest, so I’m adding a week and a few hours to the starting time. It will now begin Monday, June 17, 2013 at 5:00 pm EDT. I had also originally said the first person to identify a typo would win; now everyone who enters between 6/17/2013 and 6/24/2013 will have a chance to win.

On Unrealistic Expectations In Self-Publishing

Books, Books, Books

On his blog, author Tobias Buckell has posted an interesting counterpoint to some of the HUZZAH! of self-publishing out there:

I love this quote from the recent marketing guide that Smashwords published:

“we cannot promise you your book will sell well, even if you follow all the tips in this guide. In fact, most books, both traditionally published and self-published, don’t sell well. Whether your book is intended to inspire, inform or entertain, millions of other books and media forms are competing against you for your prospective reader’s ever-shrinking pie of attention.”

(From Smashwords — Smashwords Book Marketing Guide – A book by Mark Coker – page 7.)

This just does not get emphasized nearly enough. And it’s something I’ve been thinking about a great deal since I published The Apocalypse Ocean. One, because so many rah rah eBook advocates have been indicating to me that if I’d only just publish digitally first I’d keep 70% of the profits and *obviously* make more than I would with ‘traditional publishing.’

Since 2001, I’d been involved in selling eBooks…I lay down my bonafides, because usually the first thing I get is a lot of ‘booksplainin,’ by which I mean people lecturing me about what to do as if it’s self evident, obvious, and usually based entirely on their own anecdotal experience.

In fact, the self assured expertise of anecdotes drives me nuts…

I recommend reading the piece. Buckell makes some solid points, and his larger point — that big success in self publishing is rare, and we tend to hear only about the outliers who win big — is true. Of course, that’s also the case with traditional publishing. Even for those who score a publishing deal with a big New York corporation, most make relatively little when compared to “real” jobs that grown ups have. And the average result for them is skewed just as much by the big successes in traditional publishing.

His figures, provided by Smashwords, are interesting, but are themselves only anecdotal evidence because the numbers all come only from Smashwords, not from the far more successful ebook venues like Amazon, B&N, iTunes, and Kobo (all of whom are stingy with such data). And every self-published author I’ve talked to, or who I’ve seen write on the matter, has said that the number of books they sell on Smashwords, as compared to the other venues, is so small as to be nearly insignificant. Some of them say it’s barely worth publishing to Smashwords (I’ve only just begun this journey, so I have no opinion on that; I want my books up everywhere they can be).

Also, when looking at publishing figures like this, and comparing results between traditional and indie publishing, the comparison is meaningless unless the figures you run for traditional include all the authors who are attempting to publish traditionally and failing to do so. There are many traditionally focused authors who are making ZERO dollars, but they will never be counted. Their counterparts in self-publishing, however, *are* getting published, because they’re doing it themselves, so they get counted, and the vast majority of people who don’t actually make anything off their self-published book, for quality or whatever reasons, skew these figures just as much as the highly successful folk at the other end of the charts.  The extreme low-performers in traditional publishing don’t get counted in statistics like this, whereas the extreme low-performers in self-publishing do.

And if you have a thousand authors on the traditional path who make zilch, and a thousand authors on the indie path who publish their own book and make just a dollar, you know what? The indies are doing better. Something is better than nothing.

Crazy Restaurateurs And The Writing Life

Batshit Crazy

You’ve probably heard about, or seen, the batshit crazy Arizona couple who went on Gordon Ramsay’s show Kitchen Nightmares and were so relentlessly, hopelessly, stupidly terrible, both as restaurateurs and as human beings, that Ramsay, for the first time, wound up simply throwing in the towel and walking away. This was followed by an epic psychotic meltdown by the couple on Facebook.

000

I’ve never seen this show, as I usually ignore reality shows of any sort, but curiosity got the better of me today and I watched the segment on YouTube. And folks, this is some juicy viewing, I tell ya. Being around people like this in real life would be horrendous; I wouldn’t be surprised if you got ulcers inside of fifteen minutes. I can’t believe Ramsay put up with them as long as he did. But watching them on this show, knowing that they are completely ruining their own business once and for all and reaping what they sow, is schadenfreude of the most delicious sort.

So what does this have to do with the writing life? Two things.

First, if you want to be a writer (or artist of any sort, really), you need to be able to take criticism. It can be tough to put aside your ego and listen to someone saying nit-picky or even awful things about the wonderful work you struggled so hard to birth into the world out of your very essence…but if you can’t do that, you can’t grow, and likely you’ll start shitty and stay shitty. Even if you disagree with the person offering criticism, you should honor their opinion and take it with grace. And unless their points are completely, patently stupid, you owe it to yourself to actually consider them before disregarding them. Nobody is perfect, and armoring yourself in ego or defensiveness will stunt your growth as an artist and a human being, just as we see in the video above.

Second, this video is a perfect example of just one of the many reasons why it’s a bad idea for authors to agree to read unpublished material by folks they don’t know. I’ve written about this before, rather colorfully and more comprehensively, and these folks are just some bloody kitchen knives short of the worst case scenario for this sort of thing. People you don’t know may be good writers or bad writers (odds tilt dramatically toward the latter), but they may also be neurotic, obsessive, crazy, or even violent. You just don’t know. And, as I wrote in the blog post linked above, when a lot of folks ask for you to critique them, what they’re really doing is asking for your praise. They don’t want actual critique. And they may react badly if you give it to them.

That was exactly what happened with Gordon Ramsay and these assholes. They had already damaged their reputation and business, and they invited him not to let him help them fix their restaurant  but to come in and use his show to give them praise so that they could be vindicated by an authority on TV. Then, blindly evil fucks that they are, they reacted horribly to his critique and dug themselves even deeper.

Good for them. Nobody deserves such a fate more than they do, except perhaps current GOP leadership.

For more on this, please do read “Why I Will NOT Read Your Stuff“. I’m pretty pleased with that post, but I’m open to criticism on it.

Writers and Books and the Chain of Happiness

HAPPY! HAPPY!

For those following the evolution of publishing and assorted matters, blogger JW Manus has an excellent post, What Does A Self-Publishing Service REALLY Do?, riffing off the previous post by author David Gaughran, “The Author Exploitation Business,” which I shared last week:

In Traditional Publishing, the Chain of Happiness works like this:

  • WRITER has to make the EDITOR happy
  • EDITOR has to make higher-up editors, the marketing department and the accountants happy
  • Higher-up editors have to make MARKETING happy
  • The marketing department has to make REVIEWERS and the NEW YORK TIMES book editor happy
  • The sales department has to make BOOK STORES happy
  • Everybody has to make the PUBLISHER happy
  • The PUBLISHER has to make the STOCKHOLDERS and BOARD OF DIRECTORS happy

Contrast that with the indie’s Chain of Happiness:

  • WRITER has to make the READERS happy

Notice what’s missing in the first chain of happiness? If you said “readers,” give yourself a gold star. If that list gives you some hints about why traditional publishing is in such disarray and why some self-publishers are succeeding beyond almost everybody’s expectations, give yourself another star.

And yes, I know there are many traditionally published books that make readers very happy. The point I’m making is about focus and priorities. With most publishers, and especially the Big Publishing Houses, reader happiness is a side effect, not a priority.

A compelling idea, and an accurate one.

The rest of her piece is likewise very compelling,and not just about self-publishing services. Read it here.

Caveat Author: The Author Exploitation Business

Greedy Penguin

I’ve mentioned Penguin’s self-publishing scam before. In this blog post, novelist David Gaughran takes the publisher to task in much more detail. I’d say this is essential and important reading for any writer working in, or wanting to break into, the business these days.

And it’s not just Penguin, either. Many of the beloved traditional publishers, those stalwart protectors of lit’rature, nurturers of authors, are engaging in these practices. Go. Read. Remember.

And spread the word.

The Author Exploitation Business

Tim Vs. Traditional Publishing

don quixote

Clarification time.

A friend and writer who I like and respect posted a status on Facebook this morning which referenced the indisputable fact that “there are a lot of dreadful books being produced” by self-publishers. I commented, “There are a lot of dreadful books being published by major publishers, and they sell them for a hell of a lot more money.”

He replied, starting by saying, “I actually expected this comment from you so much that I was going to write it for you right beneath my post.”

Which made me think. Am I that predictable? Am I that partisan, in the “battle” between traditional publishers (and traditionally published writers) and self published writers?

I’ve written quite a bit here and elsewhere about my experiences being traditionally published, and my decision to go indie. I’ve posted at length about the flaws in the traditional model and the strengths of the new one. I am absolutely pro-self publishing. But am I anti-traditional publishing?

No. I would say, rather, that I am pro-writer. And a writer’s first responsibility should be to himself and his work. He should choose the path, or paths, that best serve that responsibility, and whatever path he chooses, godspeed.

In the current ecosystem, I do think self publishing is a much more beneficial path for authors to take. Though it is a lot of hard work and there are no guarantees, if you build your audience (which all authors have to do), the potential gains  are much greater than those to be enjoyed via traditional venues. Unless you are one of those very rare writers who gets big advances and actual promotion and support from a traditional publisher, you aren’t even a respected cog in the great machine. Your opinions are of little value, you have little say in the presentation or promotion of your own books (not that they will be promoted), the pay is terrible, and they will drop you in a hummingbird’s heartbeat if you  miss sales goals by even a hair. And they won’t even miss you.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Publishers can (and should) change their SOP, finding ways to actually nurture the talent on whose backs these companies ride. As I’ve pointed out before, everybody who works on your book gets a good salary and full benefits except you. The writer is Cinderella, scraping the floor clean for her step-sisters in publishing to walk on. But, again, it doesn’t have to be this way.

That may sound anti-traditional, but it’s actually loving critique. I love the book business. My experience with Putnam wasn’t a nightmare, it just wasn’t very satisfying or lucrative. I want the book business, at all levels, to thrive. I just want publishers to start treating writers the way they ought to be treated. Writers are the dream makers, they should at least get a bigger cut of the dream.

The Imminent Return of Doc Wilde

DOC WILDE AND THE FROGS OF DOOM

Whew. Finally.

Months later than originally announced, artist Gary Chaloner and I are almost ready to release the new improved edition of Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom under the banner of Outlaw Moon Books. The book layout and design are done, most of the art is ready, and the remaining art is done and inked with just a bit of toning to finish it up. And it all looks beautiful. Gary has really knocked it out of the park, and I can’t wait to see what he does on the next book. (I’ve shared some of the art, in various stages of completion, in this album on Facebook, but there’s still a lot that no one has seen yet).

For those new to our saga, this novel is the first in an all-ages series of high adventure novels which I initially published with Penguin/Putnam. They contracted me for the first three, with more to follow, and published Frogs of Doom back in 2009. For various reasons I’ve covered at length on this blog, I then opted to negotiate my way out of my contracts, pulling Frogs from print and regaining full rights to all the books, in order to take advantage of the new self-publishing ecosystem to release the books in a nicer format, fully illustrated by Gary, with full creative control.

This new edition of Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom is not only gorgeously illustrated by an incredible artist, it contains my “Author’s Cut,” preferred (and expanded) version of the text. It is in every way superior to the first edition, and I’m excited to be able to share the book in the form I originally intended.

I have been helped along the way by a sizable group of angels who supported my Kickstarter nearly a year ago, providing funds to aid us in producing books of a quality not just matching the job Putnam did with the Wildes, but radically improving on it. They have cheerfully and stalwartly remained positive through months of delay and setback, and I’m humbled and grateful and thrilled to finally be able to give them something back.

So, when is the book due? ETA: any time now. And this time, it’s for reals.

HURRAY!

Regarding Harper Voyager’s Submission Portal

Harper Voyager has put out a short-term call for unagented submissions:

Yes, it’s true! We are delighted to announce an exciting joint venture that will offer talented aspiring writers the chance to join our global science fiction and fantasy imprint.

The submission portal, http://www.harpervoyagersubmissions.com, will be open from the 1st to the 14th of October 2012. The manuscripts will then be read and those most suited to the global Harper Voyager list will be selected jointly by editors in the USA, UK and Australia.  Accepted submissions will benefit from the full publishing process: accepted manuscripts will be edited; and the finished titles will receive online marketing and sales support in World English markets.

Voyager will be seeking an array of adult and young adult speculative fiction for digital publication, but particularly novels written in the epic fantasy, science fiction, urban fantasy, horror, dystopia and supernatural genres.

See? The impact of ebooks and Amazon is having yet another positive effect on the publishing ecosystem for writers: a big publisher is actually open to unagented submissions (imagine that) if only for a limited time (two weeks, feh), with the successful submissions going on to be released digitally.

It’s an obvious attempt to adapt, which is to be respected (and hopefully emulated by other publishers), though I would look VERY closely at any contract they offer, particularly as regards the royalties paid (this is a royalty only deal, no advance), lifespan of the agreement (since it’s all-digital, it’d be all too easy for Harper to keep books “in print” forever and lock in a paltry royalty), and attendant rights (this is digital only, but do they restrict the authors from taking full advantage of print and other rights?). I’d also look for guarantees of some real level of promotion and marketing; if they’re just going to throw the books out there like they usually do, with little or no actual support, the author is gaining very little beyond short term gain (mainly editorially, and perhaps in cover design) for long term commitment that will no doubt pay most of its profits back to Harper.

I suspect new authors are better off doing it themselves, but for those who can only believe in their abilities if they’re officially allowed to join the club, it’s good that more opportunities are starting to appear. Thank Amazon: publishers know they have to stay viable, and that they have to start recruiting more raw talent (a lot of established writers will be leaving their houses over time to do things themselves) and taking full advantage of digital platforms. But if the authors are getting anything less than at least 50% of the profits, they’re not doing themselves much of a favor by going this route.

Fear of a Writing Planet: On John Green, Self-Publishing, and Amazon

A thoughtful post by novelist John Green is making the rounds today regarding self-publishing and Amazon:

I wanted to criticize Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, because I felt that in his introduction of the new kindles, Bezos repeatedly peddled the lie that a book is created by one person, and that therefore a book’s author should be the sole entity to profit from the sale of the book. (Aside, of course, from Amazon itself.)

Bezos and Amazon are consistent in their promotion of this lie, because it encourages the idea that the publishing landscape today is bloated and inefficient and that there is a better, cheaper way to do it—a way where all books can cost $1.99 with most of that $1.99 going to the author. Readers and writers both win then, right?

Well, no. Because the truth is, most good books are NOT created solely by one person: Editors and publishers play a tremendously important role not just in the distribution of books, but in the creation of them…Without copyeditors and proofreaders, my books would be riddled with factual and grammatical errors that would pull you out of the story and give you a less immersive reading experience. Publishers add value, and lots of it, and without them the overall quality and diversity of books will suffer.

Unfortunately, as fair-minded as Green obviously tries to be, at least toward self-publishing in general if not toward Amazon, he falls into the same trap a lot of defenders of traditional publishing fall into. He assumes that the current publishing infrastructure isn’t replicable within a self-publishing paradigm. This is flatly untrue. Continue reading

Are Self-Published Books Crap?

I really do wish this self-publishing ebook market would implode. It’s loaded to the gills with idiots, fools, and just by-Jove lousy writing. The purveyors of this monstrosity are, quite frankly, a bunch of jerks. I hope they all get ass-cancer and die horrible, painful deaths.

Thus spake writer James Robert Smith on his blog a while back. There are quite a few folks out there who share his view, and Smith often posts this sort of thoughtful musing about self published books and the presumably malignant souls who write them. Because what could be more malignant than putting out a book that inspires some good man to wish you get ass cancer and die an agonizing death?

To be fair, there is a great deal of utter crap being self-published, and unless you act as a rational consumer you can drown in it. But if you exercise roughly the same amount of care it takes in a bookstore to find something worth reading among the stacks of largely mediocre books, you can largely avoid buying shitty books.

Look at the cover; if it looks crappy, the author didn’t bother with doing better, and odds are the same holds for the writing. Read the reviews; yes, there are some slimy writers out there gaming the review system, but overall it’s still useful. Finally, before committing to buy, make sure you download the free reading sample offered by online vendors; if the writer can’t write, you’re gonna know that very quickly. Then, please, whatever your opinion of the book, review it on the site, even if you only write a few lines. A good review will help a writer who entertained you; a bad review will help warn others away.

It’s a time of great change in publishing, and self-publishing is the wild west. But it’s actually great for writers, and for readers, as I’ve written about on this blog (check the “Publishing” category in the sidebar), most notably here.

Here’s a thought experiment for you: Continue reading

A Visual Guide To Publishing*

*Traditional publishing, that is.

Author Nathan Bransford has posted a clever visual timeline of a writer’s experience in writing and publishing a book. It’s funny and accurate, though he left off the parts at the end where you don’t get any promotion for your book and it probably falls out of print before your next one is ready for release. Or the part where they don’t pick up your next one because they blew their budget for this quarter on Snooki’s new magnum opus.

Also, it’s amazing how many of these steps disappear if you publish as an indie, and how much more quickly your book is available even if you do the necessary things you ought to do, like making sure it’s properly edited…

The Publishing Process in GIF Form

DOC WILDE AND THE CHARIOTS OF THE FROGS Added To Doc Wilde Kickstarter

“The Astonishing Adventures of Doc Wilde” Kickstarter project is kicking butt, at 146% of its initial goal with a week still to go. It encompasses the first three Doc Wilde novels, all to be published by year’s end. It allows people to get involved with the series, and with me (the author),  early and to contribute donations to help make the books (which will be fully illustrated by maestro artist Gary Chaloner) as awesome as possible. In return, they can get copies of the books, posters, signed sketches by the artist, all sorts of goodies. The reward levels range from the paltry $5 to the epic $400, and you actually get something at every level.

Previously, I’d announced the first three Doc Wilde novels would be released this year, to be followed by two more next year. Then I added the Dark Avenger Option that allows supporters to add the fourth book, Doc Wilde and The Daughter of Darkness to their rewards package at a special rate.

Now, several supporters have asked me what I have planned for the fifth book, and if there’s any way to add it as well, to round out the pentalogy as it were.

So, with eight days left and me still hoping to get as close to my ideal goal of 200% as possible…why not?

In the fifth book, Doc Wilde and The Chariots of the Frogs, the Frogs of Doom return to our world on a much more epic scale, ready to turn back the tide of warm-blooded evolution once and for all with armies of batrachian monstrosities, dark amphibious magics, and the eldritch power of their dark god. Also really wanting to eat the Wildes, who got in their way last time.

And, yes, supporters can add the book to their rewards if they like by adding this new option:

(NEW) THE MONSTRO FROG OPTION

You can now get the fifth Doc Wilde novel, Doc Wilde and The Chariots of the Frogs, as part of your Kickstarter package, at a special rate. Add $5 to your pledge and you get the ebook; add $13 and you get the ebook and the trade paperback; add $20 and you get both plus a bookplate for the paperback signed by both Gary and me. (For international orders, an additional $10 will be needed to cover shipping on the paperback).

As special thanks for their high level of support, supporters at SERIAL DAREDEVIL level and higher who add the trade paperback for $20 will have it upgraded to a numbered limited edition to match those already in their rewards package.

(As with the Dark Avenger Option, if you choose to do this, just add the appropriate amount to your pledge without changing your chosen reward level; I’ll be sending out a survey after the Kickstarter ends that will allow you to specify which options you’ve pledged for.)

Click the image below for all the information about the Kickstarter:

Looking for Adventure? GO WILDE!!!

Tim On The Radio: Talking With PULPED! About Doc Wilde, Indie Publishing, & Kickstarter…

Last week, I was interviewed by Pro Se publisher Tommy Hancock for the Pulped! podcast (which, as you might imagine, is all about pulp fiction). We discussed the relaunch of the Doc Wilde series, the Kickstarter I’m currently running to help with that (which ends April 28th), self publishing vs. traditional publishing, and other pulpy things. While my radio face is only slightly better than my internet face, I think the interview came out pretty well, and you can hear it at:

Tim Byrd Gets Pulped!

DOC WILDE AND THE DAUGHTER OF DARKNESS Added To Doc Wilde Kickstarter

The Doc Wilde Adventures Kickstarter project encompasses the first three Doc Wilde novels, all of which will be published by year’s end. It allows people to get involved with the series, and with me (the author),  early and to contribute donations to help make the books (which will be fully illustrated by maestro artist Gary Chaloner) as awesome as possible. In return, they can get copies of the books, posters, signed sketches by the artist, all sorts of goodies.

After the first week, we hit our $3,000 goal. But that goal was the minimum amount needed for the project to actually succeed on Kickstarter, not a maximum needed to produce the books. The project is still live (through April 28th) and people can still come join the party and go Wilde.

To celebrate our success, I’ve added an option that all supporters who pledge at least $5 (that’s the lowest reward level, getting you one of the books as an ebook and a thank you in the acknowledgments) can take advantage of.

THE DARK AVENGER OPTION
You can now get the fourth Doc Wilde novel as part of your Kickstarter package, at a special rate. Add $5 to your pledge and you get the ebook; add $13 and you get the ebook and the trade paperback; add $20 and you get both plus a bookplate signed by both Gary and me. (For international orders, an additional $10 will be needed to cover shipping on the paperback).

The book will be released in the first half of 2013.

And what is the fourth book?

Doc Wilde and The Daughter of Darkness

In which something terrible happens to Doc, and the kids go looking for an ally of their family’s from years past, a rather dark character with a tendency to laugh while he shoots people. He’s not home, but his just as shadowy and violent teen daughter is…

Here’s how the book begins: Continue reading

Internet Killed The Literary Stars (Or Did It?)

There’s a lot of grumpiness these days about books, book selling, book publishing, the “proper” format of books, Amazon’s assault on books by publishing and selling lots and lots of books, and how nobody reads books no more.

Did you know that if you’re reading my blog on a screen of some type, it’s not literature (and you’re probably a subliterate ignoramus who DOES. NOT. LOVE. BOOKS.), but if I print it out on paper it is suddenly transformed and worthwhile? Apparently that’s the case.

Yep. Lots going on. I’ve written about it a bit before (like when I posted about the “Ebook Apocalypse“), and I’m active on the battlefield as an author who used to be with one of the Big 6 publishers but has now gone entirely independent (see my “Astonishing Adventures of Doc Wilde” Kickstarter project, live until April 28th, 2012, please take a look and help a strugglin’ wordsmith out).

Are things really all that bad? Or are they just different? Could they even be better?

I saw some reports recently that indicate that the doom and gloom may be uncalled for. Continue reading

Wilde Success! (But The Adventure Continues…)

Looking for Adventure? GO WILDE!!!

YAHOO! Today, one week after it began, the Doc Wilde Adventures Kickstarter project hit (and passed) its $3,000 goal!

But that doesn’t mean it’s over. The goal was our minimum target we needed to hit in order for the Kickstarter to succeed; had we not reached it, the project would have failed and no funding would have occurred. But now, the sky is the limit. People can continue to jump on board and contribute, and the more funds we get, the better we can make these books.

Thank you to all our great friends who have given their support to the project thus far! And a special call-out to the guys at Inveterate Media Junkies, who’ve been featuring the Doc Wilde Kickstarter on their site all week and who also made a big pledge that brought us to goal!

To celebrate today’s success, I’d like to dedicate the following tune to all our supporters…

The Astonishing Adventures Of Doc Wilde Kickstarter Is Now LIVE!!!

Click The Pic To Go To Kickstarter!

And, we’re flyin‘…

The Doc Wilde Kickstarter has officially begun:

The Astonishing Adventures of Doc Wilde

I invite you to click the link above and take a look at the cool rewards we came up with for each pledge level. Watch the amazing video, in which I seem subtly unable to wear a shirt correctly and show, once and for all, that, videogenically speaking, I have a great face for literature.

Kickstarter is a system created to make it possible for people all over the world to help creators fund cool projects; in exchange, the supporters get cool stuff and opportunities to interact in assorted ways with the creators. The creator posts a funding goal, and if the goal is met then the project succeeds and the pledge money goes to the creator. But if the goal is not met, the project fails and no money is exchanged. It’s an all-or-nothing system.

I’ve set the project goal at $3,000, basically a grand each for the three novels the Kickstarter is meant to launch. But please understand that this is a minimum goal; once it’s met, the project is a success, but people can still join in (and hopefully will) at any point during the time the project is active. The more the merrier, and the more funds we raise the  easier it will be to produce not only these first three volumes but more books in the series.

The project will run until Saturday, April 28th, at midnight PST.

If you plan to pledge, please do it as early as you’re able. Launching strong is very important for a project because many possible supporters look for projects to support with a high probability of success. If the project is already well on its way to hitting its funding target early, that’s a good sign it will succeed.

If you pledge, we sincerely thank you. Welcome to the pulpy, perilous world of Doc Wilde and his amazing family!