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

Small Bookstores and the Ebook Apocalypse

When both the big bookstores in her community folded, author Ann Patchett stepped forward and opened her own small bookstore.

In a very charming appearance on The Colbert Report, Patchett offers proof of my argument that the apocalypse brought to the bookstore industry by ebooks and Amazon is actually favorable to small local bookstores. Where Borders fell and B&N stumbles, small stores can now take root and give good old fashioned service to their communities.

In time, they’ll incorporate infrastructure allowing them to infinitely expand their stock by selling ebooks on-site and actually printing books on demand (as with the Espresso Book Machine, which is pretty amazing).

I wrote at length about how ebooks and digital distribution are good for readers, writers, and booksellers here, and if you have any interest in the topic, please give it a read.

You can watch Patchett and Colbert here.

“Dead Folks” Now Available

Click To Buy!

My story “Dead Folks” is now available from Amazon as a Kindle download for 99 cents. In the near future, it will be going up at other online venues, in other ebook formats. (If you don’t have a Kindle, you can still read Kindle books with free programs downloadable from Amazon, like Kindle for PC. I read Kindle books on my iPhone and desktop computer.)

Here’s the story’s description:

What do you do when your town is suddenly inundated with pesky corpses from various historical eras?

The problem turns personal for young Johnny when he and his sister find Franklin Delano Roosevelt floating dead in the lake. Then the stakes become more dire when he discovers the plague of dead folks might just be the least of his troubles.

Tim Byrd’s clever short story spins the sort of yarn that Mark Twain and Stephen King might produce if spacetime allowed them to collaborate. Join the creepy fun, but watch where you step.

If you read it, please consider leaving a short review on Amazon. It’s new and fresh and needs all the lovin’ it can get…

Author Event (& Doc Wilde 2 Sneak Peek) Saturday, 12/19/09, Decatur, GA

Buy Now!

The Saturday before Christmas (December 19, 2009, from 3-5 pm), I’m going to be at Eagle Eye Bookshop in Decatur, GA for a reading/discussion and book signing. Eagle Eye is a fantastic indie bookstore, well known for its author events.

It being the Yule, I figured I’d do something special. So instead of just doing the usual reading from Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom, the first book in the series, I’ll be reading the opening chapters of the second book, Doc Wilde and The Mad Skull, which will see print a while down the line.

This will be a rare opportunity to get a peek at a book that’s still being written, prior to any editorial input. First draft pulp, straight from my swashbuckling brain pulp.

Afterward, there’ll be a casual discussion about the book(s) and I’ll be signing Frogs of Doom. Which is not only a fun pulp adventure tale for kids and adults, but a FANTASTIC holiday gift. ;)

The War of Art

In my advice to writers, there are two books I always recommend. One is On Writing by Stephen King, the other is The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. Immediately after I first read the latter, I plopped down and wrote my first novel, Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom, and I re-read it regularly (easy to do, as it’s a short book).

Pressfield’s deal is getting us to overcome the resistances within ourselves and just getting down to the friggin’ work. His book is a self-help book that’s really helpful and not full of homilies and crap like “You are the captain of your own ship.”

(Which a therapist once told me in what was, inevitably, our one and only session because I damn near laughed in her face).

I recently became aware of Pressfield’s blog for writers, Writing Wednesdays, and it should be required reading for anyone wanting to make it in the arts.

Here’s one gem I found there:

The Muse, if she’ll forgive me, is kind of like a mailman. She makes her rounds every day, cruising past our offices and studios and peeking in the window. Are we there at our easels? The Muse likes that. She likes to see us taking care of business. And if we’re there with our hearts breaking or tears streaming down our cheeks, all the better. The Muse says to herself, “This poor bastard is true to me; I’m gonna give him something in return for his loyalty.”

And into our heads pops the solution to Act Two, the bridge to that song we couldn’t lick, the breakthrough concept for our new philanthropic venture.

The lesson is, if you’re not at the place you do the work, at least trying to do the work, the work won’t happen. And if you are there, and getting down to business, you will discover wondrous things, gifts from the Muse, that will surprise you and enrich both you and the work itself.

But you’ve gotta be working for it to work.

Why I Will NOT Read Your Stuff

“Do these jeans make me look fat?”

That’s the classic relationship question that has only one answer, unless you want to hurt the asker’s feelings. And largely, the asker wants that one answer. The reassurance. They’re not really looking for the asked to use their critical eye, not wanting raw, unflinching honesty.

This, precisely, is how the overwhelming majority of wannabe writers/artists/musicians ask for critique of their work. Continue reading

My Strange Interview With Old Bat’s Belfry

Old Bat’s Belfry, which earlier reviewed my book, has now posted an unusual interview with me, with decidedly non-standard questions:

What quirky habit do you have that often gets you teased by your peers or family?

Well, being a writer, and not having to report anywhere to do my job, I am routinely derelict about shaving. So I maintain varying levels of scruffiness, sometimes all the way up to what many call a beard, but I deny that, telling them it’s not, it’s just a really deep five o’clock shadow. I don’t like beards. They itch and they’re soup magnets.

For the rest, go here.