Thursday, June 30, 2011

The New Newspaper

When pop went into the old age home, one of the first things I did was to cancel the daily newspaper. The Sarnia Observer also includes a weekly paper, Sarnia-Lambton This Week, which is inserted in there mid-week.

The total weight of paper going into the recycle box every week was considerable, probably eight or ten, or twenty pounds per week. This doesn't include paper packaging that goes into the kitchen garbage.

The problem was that there was so much in there that I simply didn't read. I never go the the bars, or a movie, or shopping. I'm not likely to buy a car, or purchase some lawn service. That takes care of the ads. What about editorial content?

I'm not a sports fan. I never read the lifestyles section, because I don't have a lifestyle. I'm not hung up on food, and drink, or recipes for same. I don't care for poltical and economic columnists, who always have some sort of bourgeois agenda, always go back to the same sources time and time again, each of whom also has an agenda, and none of whom want to offend the publishers of newspapers, all of whom also have an agenda.

Anything that comes out of a poltician's mouth is suspect, yet the media seems unable to draw even the most obvious conclusions.

Why pay good money to have someone spew out crap that is patently nonsense, ninety percent of which I don't read, and by the very act of subscribing, support an agenda which I don't accept whole-heartedly?

The paper is mostly online anyway. If I want something, I can go right to the firm's website. When I wanted an apartment, I went straight to the free online ads that are popping up in every community.

The big difference is that I miss the local headlines on a daily basis, and that I don't always go online to that particular site to check the day's news in the local sense. That is the difference: the newspaper was shoved in the box every day. One way or another, we dealt with it, and were perhaps more aware of it.

But there must be a better way. Until someone can sort of justify receiving the New York Times, or the Sarnia Observer, in the e-mailbox, with no paper, no ink, and none of the crap that I don't want in my paper, at a fair price that actually reflects a rational cost-profit structure, then I don't and won't suscribe to a newspaper in the former sense of the term.

In Canada, the journalists just do too damn good a job of justifying things which are expensive to change. You're too damn good at defending the economy from the enemy, who turn out to be a bunch of working people. You're too prone to defend the poor, downtrodden rich against the greedy unemployed.

They say you get what you pay for. The problem is when they try and shove a whole lot of crap that I don't need and didn't ask for down my throat, and never listen to any of my concerns.

You want propaganda? You pay for it, because I ain't interested. You're a gatekeeper? I don't give a pinch of coon-crap, no matter who's doing it.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

(Argh!) Borrowed laptops with jammed buttons.

c2011 (S)


I’m not using my regular machine here today. The trouble with a borrowed laptop is that I can’t put a CD in it, and therefore I can’t work on my new novel. I’m hoping to get my computer back in a few days, or maybe another used one, which will cost money.

If I end up with another used machine, if the programming is all different, it might take a few weeks to figure out where everything is and what all the buttons on the toolbar are for.

The frustration of waiting is a factor, the uncertainty is a factor, and the big concern is that some things on the hard-drive will be missing, although I do burn backup CD’s from time to time. I’m moving in a couple of days, and I haven’t even arranged for internet service. That’s for two reasons. One; I don’t know if or when I will have a machine, and two; there is the whole ‘bundling’ of services thing. So that means no phone or cable in my new place until I get with the program.

With a screwed-up vehicle, back problems and no money, of course moving is another potential nightmare. It doesn’t make sense to fill up the last two boxes and then just sit in relative discomfort and stew for the next forty-eight hours.

It’s cold. It’s really cold for late June, and I for one am sick of it. All that bike riding yesterday took a lot out of me, but it’s just too cold to go anywhere today.

I have too much time to think today. One of the buttons on this laptop is jammed. Try writing your way around that one! They say Winston Churchill had a lisp, and wrote his speeches to avoid the letter ‘s’ as much as possible. I don’t think it’s even possible to do that, but I guess he tried.

There are two things I despise, one of which is waiting, and the other is depending on other people to do what they say they are going to do, and to be there when they say they are going to be there.

The thing to do is to put on a parka and go for a bike ride with my broken camera. As for the minivan, the right front brakes are metal on metal, which stops the vehicle just fine, but it is incredibly irritating, and just when I could do with a little less stress. I plan on moving, and then having it towed. I have to keep insurance on it, or after thirty days, I become a ‘high risk driver,’ and they have the right to charge me $5,000 for car insurance. I haven’t had a ticket in fifteen years, I have never had an accident, and I have thirty-seven years of experience. Oddly enough, I have no idea if I will ever have a vehicle again. City buses take two and a half hours to go four miles locally, so the reader may understand my concern. (You could crawl faster.)

This impacts my life as the government has determined that daily attendance at soup kitchens and food banks is the permanent solution to the challenges faced by all of the adult independent disabled persons of this province. They will hear more about that this October.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Facing Different Challenges

c2011 (S)

When I read different blog posts, there is often a temptation to go into the comments and contradict the writer, or even to 'explain what they're saying.' But the information we seek depends upon our goals, first and foremost, and secondly on our circumstances.

I have never been published by a traditional or legacy publisher. I do not have a backlist, or any previous sales numbers, favourable reviews, or any cadre of loyal fans, followers or readers. What I have is a front-list of three unpublished books, a poetry collection, and a major 'work in progress.'

In the sense that I suffer from the same general angst as any writer, and some of those more specific to independent or self-published artists in any genre, I would prefer not to get into it more than I have to. Some subjects are more hot-button controversial than others. Am I really contributing anything?

What I would counsel or caution other 'writers in the same boat' is this: determine which information it is that you require, and then try to figure out where to get that information. If I'm not submitting to 'brick and mortar publishers,' and have no intention of doing so, what do I need to know about publishing contracts? Ah, but if I do want to do that, why not read up on them? Only then do you require the data.

It's that simple. When I got paranoid about my grammar, I went and looked it up.

Every so often I read a favourite writer's blog, get a few simple lessons in the craft, and then I polish up my work. Stephen King doesn't need to read that blog. I do, and it helps, and maybe I'm not so insecure now!

If I go to submit a manuscript to a publisher, the first thing I want to do is research that publisher. (The second thing, is to figure out if I really am committed to it. I would challenge myself with questions long before submitting.)

Top-selling authors face one set of challenges, mid-list authors out of a contract face another set of challenges, debut authors who are thinking primarily in terms of print and ink with traditional publishers face certain challenges. What might work in a general sense for one group might not work at all for another group.

The challenge is to identify goals and implement well-conceived strategies that bring them into effect. That takes appropriate data, and appropriate decision-making; i.e. some kind of logical thought processes.

My challenge is to acquire data that is relevant to specific challenges, and other than that, it's for the sake of interest, or keeping up with general changes and trends in the industry.

Circumstances and goals define challenges, which helps to identify the required information. It's a filter, and a very specific one.

What we share in common is our working environment, and these are interesting times.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Bad Film: Why Make It? Or, ‘Just Killing Time.’

If a hundred movies were released this week, only about ten of them will make a lot of money right off the bat. Another proportion of those movies will earn their costs back over time. A fairly large proportion will lose money, and quietly fade into obscurity.

Should the ‘bad films’ have been made in the first place?

I say yes, as many films as possible should be made in any given year. It’s pretty simple.

To expect every debut director to have the Oscar-winning touch is unrealistic. Where did they get their experience? Their training? When did they learn the tough lessons of when, where, and how to follow standard procedures, and when to break the ‘rules?’

If a film lost money, should the key grip have worked for free? Should he have remained unemployed? What about the sound people, or the art director?

The basic training comes from film school, or fooling around on your own time. The best training comes on the job. (What if there are no jobs? Work on this subconsciously as I must move on.)

How would you know up front which professionally-directed film will succeed, and which will flop? How would you set a fair ticket price? This one’s worth eleven bucks and this other one only three? Why would the theatre chain run a movie that earns eight bucks per seat, per screening less than the one last week? Perhaps the box office employees will volunteer to work for free.

Taking something that looks good on paper and putting it up on the silver screen is a tough job. None of the films would have been made without a large investment of time, capital and effort.

Is it fair to expect the movie-going public to subsidize the on-the-job-training of Oscar-winning directors, actors and producers? Should every single one of them get an Oscar? I’m not suggesting that in the interest of ‘diversity,’ we should ignore all professional and ethical standards, and just go ahead and make any old film and then line up for an award with every other ‘professional’ working in the field.

From day one, I got paid six bucks an hour while training as a welder, many years ago. All of that work was paid for by customers who placed orders for things that they needed, and they had certain expectations of quality, price, time frame and delivery.

I never became a welder, and the odds of one of my books or stories ever being made into a movie are rather slim. As writers, much of our work is given away for ‘free.’

This includes our own blogs, posts and opinions here and there, helping out other writers, and giving away stories for free exposure, or to get criticism, feedback, or merely experience.

Experience of success breeds confidence. Oddly enough, so does experience of failure: because we survived, we learned something, we moved on. We picked up a buck or two, fed the babies, put gas in the car, or made the mortgage payment.

We lived to write another day.

So here’s how it works. Film directors make a bad film so that they can hopefully make a slightly better one after that! They charge money for their services, so that they can feed the babies, put gas in the car and make the mortgage payment. If they do a really, really good job on a film, someone will surely notice, and then there is a chance they will reap the rewards of pursuing their dream of excellence. Then they get to stand out head and shoulders above the crowd.

It’s simple, really, once you think about it. How they get there is no concern of mine.


At my age, there are a few regrets in life. All the time spent with shitty people, or in the wrong place at the wrong time, for all the wrong reasons. I spent many years just wasting time and filling up my days.

Okay, a bit of a loner. But why in the hell would I be on a beach forty miles from home, or driving down some endless and featureless country road on an empty winter’s day, essentially doing nothing? I’m not David Attenborough, Dr. David Suzuki, Les Stroud or the late Steve Irwin.

I was filling up my days, and not incidentally, getting as far away from other human beings as I possibly could. That’s just sad—and that I regret.

It seemed like a good idea at the time, and yet I wasn’t going anyplace at all!

I’ve been writing for twenty-seven years, and reading for forty-something. But I’ve only been on the internet for a little over two years. I knew there were risks and rewards, as the internet can be your best friend or your worst enemy. But I had a theory, a kind of simple game theory, one that could be learned as I went along. In the writing of a book or story, I have this bizarre ‘gaming’ approach, which is actually pretty simple. This principle can be also applied in other venues.

“If you don’t play, you can’t win. Any skill can be learned, by study, practice, application and hard work. Learn from the best. If you are afraid to take a hit, get off of the ice,” and so on and so forth.

It’s a system. So now I spend endless hours staring at a blank desktop—I prefer black, by the way—and plotting my next move in this endlessly-fascinating game of ours.

It kills the time.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A New Life?

c2011 (S)

My elderly father is safely in the old age home. He has Parkinson's Disease, and I could no longer look after him.

His house has been sold, and is mostly cleaned out. The new people take possession soon.

When he first went in, it was such a blessed relief. I have no qualms of guilt in saying that. Either he went in, or we might have been dealing with multiple casualties.

So now I will have my own place for the first time in eight years. I've earned it.

In the past year or year and a half, I have dealt with my share of stress, more or less successfully, much of the time.

I guess you could say I did a good job.

My brother and sister helped enormously, and I thank them for that.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Excerpt: WIP, 'Maintenon on Vacation.'

c2011 (S)

Author's Note:

This is an excerpt from 'Maintenon Gets a Vacation,' a working title only. The real title is much better. For the sake of clarity, Mr. Appleby is transporting the body of R.A.F. Flight Lieutenant Harold Hardy, victim of a mysterious plane crash, to the village morgue/undertaker's.

The recently-widowed Maintenon is, or was, on a walking tour of Dartmoor, in some sort of homage to his boyhood hero Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes.


Mr. Appleby was apparently as dumb as a stick and as deaf as a stone. Jimmy held the side-car up close to the left of the plodding wagon and of course Mr. Appleby was on the far side, trying to control a suddenly-persnickety horse. The animal was all too aware of the sputtering motorbike coming up from behind. The horse, an old dappled grey mare of the massively-built variety, was not deaf. She clearly despised motorbikes, lurching to the right, and turning her head to the left, ears rotating around to locate the source of the threat. Ghostly beech trees jogged backwards beside the road at a sedate pace, with Jimmy driving one-handed and reaching down half under Gilles and tugging at his pack.

“Argh,” grunted Gilles, suddenly irritated beyond measure or rational control.

Hot angry grunts rent the night, his face went all tight and his chin went down…he got a grip on himself. A couple of deep breaths of chill night air helped, but only just. These people were all so stupidly innocent.

“Hold on,” Gilles added in a show of politeness.

Damn the English!

The land was dimly lit by the glistering light of a thin crescent moon and glowing, billowing clouds. Bright stars were visible in the patches of black velvet between them. Jimmy’s yellowing headlamp dimly lit the road ahead, and finally Mr. Appleby seemed to be aware that this lighting was not natural. Gilles saw the grey head spin around suddenly, but the blasted man simply would not stop. Jimmy only had a pint of petrol in the tank, as Gilles could see from his own seat if he really cared to look at the meter. The thought festered but a moment more.

“You’ll have to jump!” shouted Jimmy. “He’s real stubborn, and he has no idea—”

“Va te ferre foutre!” blurted Gilles, uncharacteristically for him.

“He thinks we’re playing some kind of prank,” shouted Jimmy.

It was completely unprofessional, but luckily Jimmy understood no French, or so Gilles thought.

“I have no idea what you just said, but honestly,” said Jimmy.

Finally the cretin Appleby, half standing in his perch, all red-faced and blustering in the darkness as if staving off a posse of highwaymen, pulled the ancient thing to such a sudden halt the doddering old fool almost fell forwards over the dash-panel.

Gilles hadn’t had such a strange day in many, many years. He wondered if it was going to get better, or worse. He wondered if it would ever end.

With a groan, he tried to unwind himself from the snug space of the sidecar, all his muscles and joints aching. His knee was on fire. It was about this time that a big black car, surely the car of an important man, perhaps even a doctor, raced past them with horn blaring. It was headed southeast, or in the direction of the nearest village. In an act of pure masochism, Gilles thumped carelessly onto the hard bench set.

“Merde,” said Gilles.

Hearing an indistinct thump from the bed of the wagon behind, Gilles turned.

Illuminated by strong moonlight, there was revealed a limp white wrist, with a pale and lifeless hand attached to it, jiggling ever so slightly as they hit another deep pothole.

The wind whipped up the shroud, and he turned firmly away after a glimpse of the dead pilot. Shaking his head, Gilles wondered if they would ever get to a telephone.

For some reason he kept thinking of Poe.

“Va te faire foutre, Monsieur Raven!” he muttered darkly.

What he wouldn’t give to speak to someone from home, from the department, if only for the sound of a rational voice; someone with some degree of separation from the day’s events.

The night had suddenly gone very cold.


Note: Since posting this, I have added another line or two, which shows how organic the process of filling in a plotline can be. This story is at 22,220 words now. I'm not trying to see how fast I can go or anything like that.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Premium Distribution, Experience

c2011 (S)

I just confirmed that 'The Stud Farm,' available as a free download for a limited time on Smashwords has been approved for premium distribution. Because I have a separate account with Amazon, what this means is that my e-book, (actually a short story of 8,000 words,) will enter the premium distribution network. This includes Apple iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Diesel, Indigo/Chapters, Sony Reader Store, Scrollmotion, Kobo, etc.

I am also on with a POD of 'The Case of the Curious Killers,' I'm on Google Books, where people can read online for free, and last night I enabled Google E-Books, although I still haven't uploaded Epub versions yet. In Amazon, (or on Amazon,) I have three distribution channels, which include US, UK and DE, the last being Germany.

I was in Borders US and AU, but recently heard they have dropped e-books altogether.

As far as 'The Stud Farm' is concerned, I nailed the formatting on the first shot, and that process is called 'the meatgrinder' when you crack open the free pdf formatting guide from Smashwords for the first time.


So last week I found that a site called 'Bookchums' had apparently taken a free copy of 'Stud Farm' and put it on their site for free downloads. I missed a kind of opportunity here.

Basically, I sent them three e-mails through the contact form, and they seemed to go through. No response. The next three times I tried, the contact form was jiggered, and it did not work at all.

A couple of days later, I signed up for the site as a member, but returning e-mails to the administrator 'bounced.' At that point, I went into a discussion where there seemed to be a fair number of recent comments, and pointed out that my book was copyrighted material. I can't bring up that page on search, and maybe it's gone now.

The problem is, I prefer not to get into it at all, and telling someone this is 'theft' and 'book piracy' probably wasn't pleasant for them, and it wasn't that great for me either.

The thing to do is to go into a popular comment stream and simply point out that your copyrighted work is available for free as a download on Smashwords. I was giving the thing away for free myself, after all, but as part of a plan. I need some control over it! I like to know what is happening...

The trouble of course would be when I go to set a price on it, and then someone is using my own work to compete against me. Also, that site had a counter, and at one point it read '104.' I have no way of verifying or proving that number now.

This is all due to inexperience on my part, and of course if it happens again, I will definitely handle it a little differently.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Planning, Plotting and Scheming.

c2011 (S)

My fourth novel, (SF) still awaiting suitable cover art and more free time for re-writes, incorporates world and ecology-building of a journeyman level, including hard and soft science fiction story elements. In this book I experimented with my own comfort zones as a writer, in terms of characters and their sexual preferences. I say this because the unsophisticated will always associate the writer with the thing that most stands out about the story in their own minds.

My fifth novel, (urban fantasy,) is safely in the can. It's a low-key, understated urban fantasy. It was a departure from science fiction into a world that had always impressed me as a little too easy from the writerly point of view—that is to say, ‘if your protagonist gets into a corner, all he has to do is to wave a magic wand and make everything go away.’ I’m not sure if I still feel that way. The rules of fantasy are there if you care to look. ‘Magic is acceptable and expected.’ But another consideration was how to compete in a field where ‘over the top’ is what people seem to be shooting for.

My solution—to downplay the fantasy elements and treat it as literary fiction about life in a small town after the mill closes down, where there just happens to be some shape-shifters running around, will probably fail in this market.

My sixth novel, (SF,) back again to hard sci-fi, allowed me to experiment with the creation of really different characters interacting as a group, while at the same time fine-honing the work, hopefully, showing rather than telling. The number one protagonist—there’s actually more than one—is an entirely humourless, yet still sympathetic character. Like an idiot, I called him ‘Kjarl,’ which any experienced editor would insist that I change. By this time I was comfortable with the pacing of the novel, as these last three came in at 76,000 to 80,000. This is perfect length to begin editing and re-writing the works.

When I look back a couple of years, and think about what I have learned, it does give me some confidence that I can plug away at my next book or story and get the thing done in fairly short order. All I have to do is to write five hundred or a thousand words a day, and keep the first draft a little light on details. This story (my new Maintenon story) was a 360-word start, until someone on Twitter mentioned, ‘a 20-minute writing blitz’ while her dinner simmered on the stove or something. I thought, ‘why not?’ It's up over 20,000 now. An hour a day, and in about a month we’ll be up to 40,000 or 50,000 words.

When I get this one ‘done,’ it would be a good time to make some decisions, about what to publish next. Then the re-write and editing process would take a few more weeks or months. In the meantime, if I stumbled across the perfect artwork, something that I could work with for the marketing image, it would be tempting to do one of the three books I have sitting there. That part is flexible in terms of planning.

Every so often, when I get a spare minute, I go off to or and look for images, as I also want to re-issue ‘Thirty Years Gone,’ in other formats. Right now, it’s on with a plain black cover in the pdf format only.

So basically, we're planning, plotting, and scheming our way through the next few months. Rather than dwell on our weaknesses or past failures, we've been doing some assessing of our strengths, our skills, and our special attributes, insofar as they relate to the future.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Oh No, Not Again.

c2011 (S)

Oh no! Not again!

What began as a short story is showing unmistakeable signs of turning into a novel.

These signs include an increasing attention to plot, and today a lot of fact-checking. Calling a character 'the chief of police' when in fact he is a 'superintendent' will quickly lose a writer a lot of readers.

This is the tough thing to remember about genre fiction: it must above all else be accurate, although I think I will stick to fictional names rather than try to tie in a fictional story with actual historical figures, which would of necessity include more research into the person who was the actual Superintendent of the Territorial Police CID in Devon County, UK, back in 1927-29 or thereabouts. And Dartmoor is definitely in Devon--I'll know all this stuff off by heart in a few more days or weeks, don't you worry about that.

Another tough thing about the novel: my first novel was a work of seven years. You can read a draft many times in seven years. The next few novels all took at least three months just to get a first draft. Each and every one of my published novels has been read at least 150 times.

It is important to keep in mind that I'm only three or four weeks into the project, with about 19,000 words down, and yeah: it's another bleeping novel, when basically I just wanted another short story.

At this stage, of course I'm worried, and of course much of it is fragmentary at best. The thing is just slightly too long to read it all before starting the day, and just reviewing the short bit I wrote yesterday isn't much help sometimes.

Today is a good day to hit Wikipedia and other sources, and maybe do a little fact-checking. At this stage of the game, 500-1,000 words a day isn't unreasonable as a writing goal.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Tough Times, Tough Decisions.

c2011 (S)

Out of simple curiousity, I Googled a few names the other day and got some interesting results.

Last summer I recieved a contract for a book. Checking out the publisher on 'Absolute Write/water-cooler' I found some negative remarks about the company, and nowhere what I would call positive remarks. Yet, remaining objective, it occured to me that a disgruntled former author/disappointed partner might not accept their own failures and end up disparaging someone who was actually quite good.

For my own reasons, I felt unable to sign that contract. There was no advance, and at that time, a $1,000 or $2,000 advance might have gone a long way to convincing me!

Even then, the decision not to sign was a tough one. Then, just before Christmas, this very same publisher approached me again, via e-mail, and again they had a lot of positive things to say about my work.

Again, that tough internal debate, that tough decision. The decision not to sign was made a little easier by the lack of response to certain questions I had about the contract, and again no budging on the advance or lack thereof.

Six months later, with no characterization or value judgements offered or implied, that company is gone. They are just gone. Nowhere in that contract, (and at the time, I didn't know enough to ask,) did it clearly state what would happen to the parties, or who would own the rights, or when the rights to the product might revert back to the author, in the event of company closure.

Speaking purely objectively, if my company was in trouble, and things were not going too well in the cash-flow department, as an officer of the company, I would have little choice but to continue day-to-day operations as if nothing was wrong, and to continue to do everything within the realm of my sole fiduciary responsibility, which would be to the company and its shareholders, and not necessarily to newbie authors, especially ones we haven't signed yet and who ask a lot of try and save the company and to make it work.

In another similar instance, the company is still going. The company is smaller, and has fewer staff. Again with no characterizations or value judgements, we can only 'objectively' assume that tough times called for tough decisions, and it is entirely possible that I will someday regret not signing with them either.

It's just a really tough call either way sometimes, and especially now.

Friday, June 3, 2011

New Insights.

c2011 (S)

Since publishing 'The Stud Farm,' on Smashwords June 1, 2011 at about 12.30 p.m.; I have given away over 80 copies in various formats from the Smashwords site. That's pretty amazing, when we consider that our top title on Smashwords, 'Heaven Is To Far Away,' took months, literally months to achieve the same level.

A small number of people have sampled other titles, and we've given a copy or two of 'The Handbag's Tale' away from that site.

The difference is pretty striking. Since a few weeks ago, when 'The Handbag's Tale' went ballistic on Amazon, we've been doing some 'soft' analysis, which doesn't require numbers so much as good old-fashioned uncommon sense.

The difference is a simple one. When 'Heaven' was released, we had about 100 Facebook friends. That was it. Ah, but now we have a few more, and we're on Twitter, and a few other places.

As I recall, the original cover of 'Heaven' wasn't too good either. So we are learning, we are making progress, and the natural sequence of envents will unfold, just as it was foretold, all those long years ago...

Over on Amazon, especially in the UK, we continue to give away a hundred and fifty or so copies of 'The Handbag's Tale,' on a daily basis. When we get to 10,000 copies, we'll have to decide where to go from there.

Technically, to sell 5,000 copies of any book in any genre in Canada would be 'a national bestseller,' but we are giving them away for free, so we won't talk about that (too much.)

But we're up to 6,850 copies or thereabouts as far as 'Handbag's Tale' goes, and things are looking good.

If you read Robert J. Sawyer's blog, which is a part of his website, you may have seen the post where the biggest complaint he had about this industry was the small number of promotional copies supplied to him by even the biggest publishers. As I recall, ten copies was typical for them.

I do listen sometimes, you know. I just like to pretend it was all my own idea. Incidentally, members of the news media are also welcome to download a free e-book if they like.

So. Here's the deal, and it's a good one: what you need to do is to go to Smashwords, download yourself a copy of the book, either 'Handbag's Tale,' (a detective short story,) or 'The Stud Farm,' (science-fiction weirdness, originally appearing in Jupiter Science Fiction, a UK print publication, #30, 'Hermippe,') and then click on 'like,' read and review the story or just enjoy it as a guilty pleasure.

And if enough people do that, and maybe even buy a book or two along the way, I promise not to run away and join the French Foreign Legion.

Because that would just be stupid.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Launched On A Pillar of Flame.

c2011 (S)

I published 'The Stud Farm,' an 8,000 word short SF story originally appearing in Jupiter #30,'Hermippe.' It went live on Smashwords very quickly as it was only #33 in the queue. Quickly downloading an Epub version, which seems to be the most finicky, I reassured myself that it was okay and then clicked on the 'Facebook/Like' button and put out a link on Twitter.

The product was checked using Mobipocket reader, which is on the desktop.

That product came live at about 12.35 p.m., June 1, 2011. Then I went to visit my elderly dad at the old age home.

By the end of the day, fifty-three copies of the story had gone out the door on Smashwords.

At midnight, my stats page was tallying up over 300 page-hits, in less than twelve hours.

When combined with the total of free downloads of 'The Handbag's Tale, on Smashwords, and copies of that book distributed for free on, US and UK, then I gave away something like 125 free e-books in one day. This is the result of half a dozen links, a few RT's and with about 800 feebs and a similar number of tweeps, and of course I'm on a half dozen other 'plats.' Last time I checked, it was 204 books from both titles in less than two days. Note that 'Stud Farm' has a nice image with a pic from Although the actual graphic design is not exactly award-winning stuff, it does the job.

Does giving away mass quantities of free short stories actually rub off and stimulate sales of other titles? In the short term, I would have to say no.

The author is unknown. The pruduct is unknown. People took an attractive free product, and some of them will inevitably 'hoard' it as a kind of wealth (or wealth substitute,) and never actually read it. But they will have it if they need it.

In that case, a little shiny cellophane packaging might go a long way to moving more books...but I digress.

Once a few people read the story, and let it simmer a while in the old brain-bucket, there is a much greater chance of them spending a buck and trying another title.

At that point, I'm not such an unknown quantity--it's really more a matter of expectations at that point.

I am never going to run out and buy a cookbook. If I know you publish award-winning cookbooks, and sell millions all around the world, that's very helpful to me. Don't take this personally, okay? I'm not likely to pick up your product by mistake, because I know what is in there. I don't want to read a cookbook.

So customers need to know exactly what a Louis Bertrand Shalako book, short story or other product is all about. At that point, personal tastes, discretionary spending criteria and impulse shopping factors come into play.

The thing has been successfully launched, we have initiated roll program, and we are riding on a pillar of flame, metaphorically speaking.