Happiness is…

the first and second e-book sale… so long ago I had almost forgotten about it! Dates from the time that Mark Coker answered personally to emails, LOL! Almost ten years now… and still a long way to go! πŸ™‚

Writer Wednesday

Sales… nobody took advantage of it (except Tori, thank you for the review), but it’s been on my author of the month thread all this time. You can have Rajveer the Vampire 50% off at Smashwords – Coupon Code: JH97Z – Expires: December 2, 2015. Not many days left, so get it now.

Also, to celebrate the new cover by Cristina Fabris, I’m putting Kilig & Hakeem at 50% off until the same day. Coupon Code: KQ83V – Expires: December 2, 2015. In December I will do a Smashwords-only sale with 50% off selected titles… stay tuned for the list! πŸ™‚ It will be mostly m/m titles, so if that’s what you come here for, come back next week.

By the way, I did the catalog for Unicorn Productions, you can download a free PDF on the homepage. I will soon go to the shop to have it printed on thicker paper to take to the English bookshop(s) here in Rome, and if I manage to get them books, I’ll try to send the printed catalog to the US bookstores, starting with the ones I know on the Oregon coast. Since I plan on doing more PODs in January, this might take some time and a few updates before I actually go with it! πŸ˜‰

A couple of posts on writing for the market – not! Just don’t. Hear it from two people who have been in the market since before you were born. Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Write what you love, what you want to read. Like Fairytales Revisited as m/m romance, if that’s your fancy right now! *stares into the mirror with a big grin*

When I’m done with those 3 I have in mind (well, Beautiful is out, currently writing the Snow White one, then I’ll have the Cinderella Man), I’ll move on to something else. Try to write that contemporary story that is meant to be written, finish the other longer contemporary story I have put in a drawer back in September, maybe write that Star Minds story with aliens on Earth, or maybe who knows. I haven’t decided what I’ll write next year yet (besides the two vampire historicals and finish the fairytales revisited, I mean)! πŸ™‚

And if you’re looking for places to promote yourself or your books, here’s a list. I’m currently going through it, looking for places where I or my characters could show up. And as you can see in the comments, you can also contact me – I welcome guest authors from all backgrounds and all fiction genres! πŸ™‚

That’s all for today! Have a great week! πŸ˜€

Writer Wednesday

Lots of new neat thingies on Smashwords! First, the Smashwords Interviews feature is finally available for publishers. So you have both interviews with Barbara G.Tarn and B.G. Hope – and I used different questions! πŸ˜‰ Now, should I do also the “publisher” interview? Are there any more questions you’d like me to answer?

Second is the Smashwords Series Manager. I have one for Star Minds and one for Silvery Earth. Although for the correct chronology of Silvery Earth you probably better doublecheck on this blog, LOL! I’m not sure if this will improve visibility or sales, but we’ll see! πŸ™‚

One final publishing announcement – Choices finally made it to Apple. Gee, they’re slow! Also, there might be problems on Kobo, can anyone tell me if my books are purchasable?Β  Only try to put them in the shopping cart, don’t finalize the purchase! Since Kobo authors cant buy their own books, I can’t try (unless I try to access Kobo with my Facebook account, probably, but I can’t be bothered, LOL!)…

Still trudging through Amazons which will probably be a double book, since there’s another story that goes with it but doesn’t have Amazons as main characters, but I’m still working on that. Won’t come out until December, I think. Maybe November, if I’m fast. But I keep procrastinating by toying with the Star Minds Snippets.

I’ve written the last one, and now I’m thinking of doing a “novel” version where I put everything in chronological order and make it a prequel-novel. Or should I just leave the short stories and novellas mixed? Also, most stories last years and overlap… I try to stick to one POV character in each, but what if I just put everything in chronological order? A puzzle book or a normal episodic novel? Decisions…

Again, this is the freedom of indie publishing – writing what the story demands and the length it requires without sticking to guidelines. I don’t have (and never will…) George R.R. Martin’s problems of length (I usually am on the short side of stories), but still… Again, great wisdom in Kris Rusch’s business post! πŸ™‚

George paraphrased Tolkien by saying that the story makes its own demands. Both men are right: the story is the story, and it’s best for the storytellers to tell the story as it wants to be, not as publishing lengths and artificial deadlines demand it should be.Β 

Killing the sacred cows of publishing – Agents revised post by Dean Wesley Smith. Really, only one-book-wonders would want an agent in 2013. I hope my writer friends sober up – even if they’re not career writers like me and only want to publish a book or two. Might have to tell them the story of my friend who put her first book up on Kindle and sold 2 copies in the first few hours. I never did that well! πŸ˜‰ True she writes in Italian and for a very specific niche – if I wanted to get rich, I’d write either erotica or yaoi, but I’d rather write what I want instead, LOL!

Hugh Howey’s top 10 list of tips for self-publishers. I prefer “indie”, but I won’t nitpick the word choice! πŸ˜‰ Although at #6 he mentions agents. I’d change that with “IP attorney”. And also why you should self-publish – personally, I want to avoid all the paperwork involved with traditional publishers and I want the freedom to write my story the way I want it, without rewriting according to an editor. Like Hugh says

Remember that it’s okay to write and publish just to make yourself happy, to make yourself fulfilled. There will be authors out there, readers, publishing experts, and booksellers who say that this outpouring of unprofessional drek is ruining the industry, which makes me wonder if these same people drive through neighborhoods yelling and screaming at people gardening in their back yards, shouting at them that, “You’ll never be a farmer!” Or if they cruise past community basketball courts where men and women unwind with games of pickup and shout at them, “You’ll never make it in the NBA!”

Or, as The Best YOU says – watch me! πŸ™‚ Now apply your butt to chair and just write! If the internet is a distraction, turn it off. Have a great week! πŸ˜‰

Writer Wednesday

Okay, so week off meant that I drew a couple of pages of SKYBAND, then started (re)writing Amazons and already decided to cut out a chapter (but recycled it in a Star Minds Snippet, LOL). Not much done, but well… one needs a break from time to time, right? In fact I spent 4 days offline, since my cousin was busy the night I considered asking him to check my e-mail. And guess what? I survived! πŸ˜‰

So now back to writing Amazons, and I’m thinking of trying the pre-order thingy on Smashwords for this month’s titles. Which will probably mean I won’t use Draft2Digital for these two, at least not now. And I’ll have to remember to upload to KDP closer to the release date. Anyhow, David Gaughran did an excellent post on the two distributors – Smashwords vs. D2D. I totally agree with him! πŸ™‚

Like I commented on his post, Smashwords has added another outlet, Flipkart – the Amazon of India. But like Shafali told me, the Indian market is not like Americans see it! πŸ˜‰ Anyway, if they boycott Amazon in India as they do in the US (yes, KDP Select authors, some readers boycott Amazon and therefore they’ll never read your books! ;)), we have another outlet. Not that I’m selling anything in the sub-continent yet… maybe I should write more body switches with Indian characters in it (as if I’ve sold a copy of Ciaran&Harith anywhere besides the US, LOL!)! πŸ˜€

Amazon now allows to price the Kindle version at a discount for whoever buys the POD version – which means I can do it only with Star Minds, since it’s the only book that has a POD version with CreateSpace. It’s called Kindle Matchbook and it works like the DriveThru print program (see SKYBAND, where you can either buy the PDF or the POD version or the PDF+POD with discount on the PDF). So have checked that box on the KDP dashboard – I don’t know when it’s going live, but the Kindle version will be at 2.99 if you buy it with the POD version…

More wisdom from Kris Rusch about career vs. publication. It’s probably obvious by now that I’m a career writer and not a one-book wonder. I might have slowed down the output (mostly because the intended rewrites/translations turned out to be unpublishable, so I needed to reassess my writing goals), but I still have plenty of stories to tell. And I will publish them, slowly but steadily! πŸ™‚ Kris is right, it’s a way of life. I’m so happy I have the means to put my work out there, that I don’t care if I have abysmal sales. My readers will find me eventually. Even the Italian ones (sold 2 copies of an Italian novel on Amazon Italia during the summer, and on Kobo it’s only Italian short stories that sell…)! πŸ™‚

Since I haven’t heard from Mark Coker and obviously publishers can’t use the Smashwords Interview feature, I’ll copy/paste it here… just imagine you’re on Unicorn Production’s Smashwords page! πŸ™‚

UPlogoWhy do I get a unicorn instead of an author picture on this page?
Because that’s the logo I used on my photocopied zines back in the 1990s – and still is on the POD version of my books. E-books don’t have rooms for logos, so there you have it! πŸ™‚
So, who’s behind the Unicorn logo?
A very prolific writer who tackles many genres. Somebody said that writers should brand themselves so readers don’t get confused. Personally, I read everything, so I think it’s a publishing myth, but for clarity’s sake (and also because different genres use different kinds of covers), I have 2 English pseudonyms (and 1 Italian).
Who are these authors?
Barbara G.Tarn writes adult unconventional fantasy and some sci-fi. That’s the name that appeared on those photocopied zines way back when. It was mostly comics and graphic novels at the time. A.K.A. Barb, she writes, draws and blogs
B.G.Hope writes contemporary stories. Mostly it’s the prose version of Barbara G.Tarn’s screenplays (when I attempted the conquest of Hollywood, I had only one pen name) and stories set in the present, including m/m romance. Her web page
Finally, Barbara Sangiorgio writes in Italian – for those stories that would get lost in translation. I’ll have to do her interview on her blog
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
Well, I grew up on Planet Earth, moving around the continent called Europe for the first 13 years of my life, then got stuck in that boot shaped peninsula, since that’s where I was born. But I’ve always felt international and still wait for the world without borders of a 1970s song I used to sing (in Italian, sorry).
Since I’ve always felt different, my characters are almost always outsiders and outcasts (sometimes outlaws), since that’s how I’ve felt for most of my life. I started writing when I came back to my hometown – I hated everything around me and started retreating in my own worlds. And I haven’t really come back since! πŸ˜‰
What’s the story behind your latest book?
okay, I’m a very prolific author, so anyone asking me “how is your book doing/coming along” will get a blank stare from me. I don’t remember what book I was talking about with that person, so whoever that is, s/he should remind me which one. Just check what’s new at the bottom of this page! πŸ™‚Β  (note that the Smashwords Interview feature should display all the author’s books at the end of the page. Doesn’t work with a publisher account)
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I hate legalese and contracts. And I’m a control freak. And I’m too prolific for traditional publishing. And I write unconventional stuff with unconventional voice, so… indie a go go! πŸ™‚
I’m very happy to be able to go out there and find my readers. I have a niche that traditional publishers won’t cover. So, if you’re an adult who still loves fantasy and sci-fi and other wondrous stories, check me out! πŸ™‚ Someone once told me I reminded her of George R.R. Martin, but since I haven’t started on Game of Thrones yet, I have no idea. I haven’t read Tolkien, so you won’t find any of that for sure! πŸ™‚ No quests and no coming of age, but the rest… anything goes! Character-oriented and probably shorter than what traditional publishers want, but I believe the story has the length it has and I’m sick of pumping up wordcount to meed “industry standards”!
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
They were the first where I uploaded my e-books! πŸ™‚ I started uploading on Kindle a few months after I started publishing on Smashwords. It’s a slow growth and evolution, but I like the fact that you can download whatever format you want from here! πŸ˜‰
I have a Kindle Keyboard, but I prefer buying from Smashwords. Pity some authors are stuck with KDP Select…
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Making up stuff! πŸ™‚ Create worlds, listen to characters talk… Write down those movies unfolding in my head. Since I watched a lot of TV (until the early 1990s), sometimes my stories are very episodic, like TV series. Sometimes they’re movies with sequels and prequels and spin-off. Sometimes they’re real comics or graphic novels, since that’s another major influence on writing for me. I’m married to Mr Writing, and I love weaving stories from “what if” – which can be something that happened in reality, an image, a sentence, whatever strikes my wild imagination. I love being a creative goddess! πŸ™‚
What are you working on next?
Again, depends on which pseudonym you’re asking. The Italian titles are just formatted and uploaded, but the English ones need translation and rewriting. Even if the main pen name is Barbara G.Tarn, I always try to add titles for B.G. Hope as well… And then it’s Barbara Sangiorgio when I don’t have anything ready in English!
What is your writing process?
Improvising! Write by the seat of my pants! Call it what you want. I don’t outline much. I pour out a first draft longhand, then type it and give it to beta-readers. Then it’s editing, revisions and adjustments and it’s off to editor. Then it’s final check, format and upload! πŸ™‚
I’m a fast writer because I consider myself a storyteller, not a wordsmith. I need to tell a story, not write the perfect sentence. I get a lot of blank stares from other writers who agonize over a comma… sorry, but I don’t know what writer’s block is! πŸ™‚
Also, I’m very character-oriented. I’ve written stories from drawings of characters. Or I simply watch the “movie” unfold in my head and write it down. That’s why I’m not really into five-senses writing and have a lot of dialog. I’m plot and character-oriented in both my writing and reading habits!
My influences come from movies, comics/BD/manga, and other books. Sometimes reality, but you can tell I don’t like it much… Sometimes history – and I’ve learned to love my research, but also not to pour it all in the fictionalized version or it would be a quite boring reading experience! πŸ™‚
How do you approach cover design?
I’m also an artist, and since I also do graphic novels and comics, I draw most of my covers so they fit with the ongoing graphic novel S.K.Y.B.A.N.D. (not on SW unfortunately, since the docs are more than 5MB – image heavy). So Barbara G.Tarn has illustrations for covers (mostly mine, but sometimes I hire other people) because I hate SFF covers with photographs, and B.G. Hope has more photographic or graphic covers – all done by me (except when I can’t find the proper photograph, I think I’ve used 3 from other photographers). Same for Barbara Sangiorgio (it’s contemporary fiction in Italian, so photos are OK! ;p).
What do you read for pleasure?
Anything that sounds remotely interesting, fiction and non-fiction. I’m not into erotica or horror, but everything else is fine.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Write the next book and publish it. Write the next book and publish it. Oh, and did I mention write the next book and publish it? I announce it on my blog and Facebook ONCE, then go back to writing! πŸ™‚
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yep, and I’ve “recycled” it in two of my fantasy novels – I tried to keep the style through the translation. Half is in Chronicles of the Varian Empire – The Spell, the other half is in Books of the Immortals – Water
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
Unfortunately I have a DayJob, albeit part time. When I’m not there wasting my time, I draw (listening to the music), watch movies (Bollywood obsession lately, but I watch movies from all over the world) and sometimes do nothing (meaning I lie on the bed thinking stories to entertain myself that I know I will never write, which might be perceived as a waste of time, but I don’t care). I’m a writer and a lone wolf. I’m an introvert and proud of it! πŸ™‚

Writer Wednesday

Hope you had a great weekend. The Kindle event is over – I bought 6 books and sold none. Even if people didn’t purchase on this occasion, I still have increased the visibility of my name and books, so let’s hope it leads to future sales. The Event page had a total of 665 views with a total of 1,333 clicks on the books, whoot! πŸ™‚ Waiting to hear from Tim Flanagan about the competition winner…

Don’t forget the other sale, everything 50% off on Smashwords until the end of the month – except the brand new book, Star Minds omnibus! πŸ™‚

Star_Minds_Cover_for_KindleYes, it’s out, at the moment on Barnes&Noble, Smashwords, Kindle, Kobo and Createspace. Wait for more e-book distributors and the combination of printed and e-book on Amazon – I’ll give all the new links next week. Reading the proof copy, I found and fixed some typos (nothing better than paper to do that), so apart from the wonderful cover by Phoenixlu, this is a “cleaner” and complete edition of the whole series.

Saturday I rewatched L’Γ©tudiante, since it’s the inspiration for Chantal (in 1982 I was back in Rome, so the movie is my only insight into La Sorbonne in the 1980s) and then I wrote a couple of new scenes for Shooting Star (Kol-ian’s stay on Earth) that are basically what happens in Technological Angel, but from another point of view. I thought it closed better the novelette – that still needs a major rewrite, but I’ll work on it this week along with the other Snippets that are already written, before getting to the new ones.

Also, I submitted 2/3 of Conall’s Sons to the Smashwords anthology, since the Snippets don’t really fit the guidelines – “to aim for the general SF/F market, so no erotica, bad language, etc.” . I admit I never submitted to general SF/F markets, although I did write a query letter for my first indie-published novel (that I ended up putting on Smashwords once I realized it was too short for fantasy standards, too unconventional and had even the F-word in it, so Daw Books would have rejected it anyway), so I didn’t realize I was going against the rules. I’ve been reading mostly indies in the genre, lately, and we don’t always stick to “rules” – I myself write adult unconventional fantasy (it’s not erotica, but it does mention sex and violence – I don’t always put the “adult filter on” in my stories, though).

So, I reread Conall’s Sons, took out part 1 and sent Giordano/Jordan’s story only. It sold only 9 copies since 2011, so I guess it’s as new to readers as any Snippet could be. And it’s a good introduction to Silvery Earth and its Magical Races, so… there you go. I also did some cover attempts for that anthology, which gave me ideas for the next generation of Star Minds, so on Sunday I started planning next year’s release. The Snippets will come out in the fall, the Next Generation in the first half of 2014 – so I’ll have a lot of stuff at Loncon (since it’s more sci-fi than fantasy geared)! πŸ™‚ If all my attempts are discarded, I’ll post one of the drawings here, and you can write your own story based on what you see…

Now, if you’re online reading this, you’ve also heard of J.K.Rawling’s latest exploit – how she wrote under a male pseudonym (Robert Galbraith) and then came out. That’s what traditional publishers ask you to do when you brand yourself – J.K. writes YA, how dare she write in another genre? Glad the truth is out. I’ll keep both pseudonyms for now (it’s not a secret that Barbara G.Tarn and B.G. Hope are the same person anyway), and keep looking for my readers. I’m not greedy, 5000 True Fans are enough! πŸ™‚

Now, a few writerly links for you. Kris Rusch on the global view – here’s to my growing little grove and readers finding it. Like I said, I’m not greedy. I can find 5000 kind souls among the 7 billion walking on this planet, right? 5000 English-speaking readers (don’t have to be native, I’m not either! ;)) who enjoy this brand new genre of “unconventional fantasy for adults who still like to dream”…

David Farland on showing, telling, making – sorry, I’m a cinematic writer, no amount of suggestions like this will make me add more specific descriptions… I write what I want to read, and descriptions clutter my “sight” – I skip them in other people’s books, so I don’t put them in mine (although a few beta-readers – who happen to be also writers… – beg for more setting in my stories. I’ve never heard from a real reader begging for more setting, though, so who knows). Go check the other writing tips from Dave – or subscribe to his newsletter! πŸ™‚

That’s all for now! Have a great week! πŸ˜€

Writer Wednesday

Ever heard the 10.000-hours-practice theory and the “write 1million words of crap before getting better“? Just out of curiosity I decided to try to calculate how many words I’ve written in English (since 2001) – it’s impossible to calculate how many in Italian because most of them are still handwritten on notebooks, but you can easily guess that what I did in 25 years is surely more than what I could do in 12. So I added the wordcount of the books I’ve published on Smashwords (easy because they’re all on one page and the wordcount is there – I didn’t count short stories that are included in anthologies and the “double bill” are included once. And I rounded the numbers and excluded the Italian titles.), the screenplays (not all, I’m afraid the first are lost to some hard disk misfunction and I didn’t bother check my back-up disks) and the blog posts (because that’s still writing, folks!).

Being math challenged I had to use a calculator, anyway, here’s what I came up with: Smashwords grand total 983000 words (so that’s already close to the million – and I started publishing in 2011, 10 years after I started writing in English); screenplays: 133300 words (yep, they’re shorter. I stopped writing them because I’m a control freak! ;)); blog posts – I considered 500 words a day posted daily for 27 months (Oct.2009-Dec.2011) + 1000 words Wed-Fri-Sun for 15 months (Jan.2012-Feb.2013): 640000 words. Grand total is 1.756.300 (I repeat, I’m math challenged to the point that I might have copied the results wrong…).

184016_374972345950379_1729160513_nWriting is a muscle, if you don’t excercise it – and do it starting small, again habit vs motivation – you won’t get better. You’ll always have writer’s block or won’t know what to write next. I don’t know what writer’s block is. For me it’s such an ingrained habit, I’ve just started to actually counting how many words I produce. Like for the body switch I know I wrote 21000 words in 8 days. I might not earn my living yet, but I’m definitely a writer, not an author.

And the writer finally managed to publish another title (that’s because the previous ones were in Italian, that’s why I didn’t announce them here, but I usually publish something every other week)! πŸ™‚ Ladies and gentlemen, The Death of Queen Amazonia is finally live on Smashwords, Kindle and Kobo! And here’s the final cover for your eyes only.

QueenAmazonia_resizeThe Kindle version unfortunately doesn’t have the internal illustration of Smeraldo and Kyrio I already uploaded on this blog, but the Smashwords and Kobo files have it. I’m so happy My Books on Kindle are all Smashwords files! πŸ˜‰ On XinXii and DriveThruFiction, the mobi file has no inside picture, but the PDF and e-pub do.

I’ll leave you with the usual writerly links. Krish Rusch on the death of publishing – or not. About Ang Lee and the uncertainty of success – something we can all relate to! πŸ™‚

Aaand – last but not least – it’s Smashwords Ebook Week again, so check the great deals from Unicorn Productions! Some titles have gone free, the rest is 50% off (including the new release) – only until Sunday! πŸ™‚

And I’m not the only one doing the sale – check Mighty Joleene Naylor’s sale and if you’re an adult looking for a vampire story, don’t miss her Amaranthine series that starts with Shades of Gray which has nothing to do with 50… and it’s free for the week! πŸ˜‰

Or, if you’d like to try some gay erotic fantasy (paranormal with demons from what I could gather from his blog), try Ciaran Dwinvyl. He’s already on my wishlist, but I might just grab the opportunity and get his books with 50%off…

Look for more e-book deals on Smashwords… Have a wonderful week!

Writer Wednesday

I was afraid this year we wouldn’t have snow on WP blogs (which is the only snow I’ll get to see in December in Roma, LOL), and finally Monday I saw the snowflakes – hence the change of theme for a month. The old one will be back in January, when it stopsΒ  snowing on my blog! πŸ™‚ If you’re new to WP, it’s under Settings – General – tick the box for “snow until Jan 4th” and have fun! πŸ˜‰

Of course I must start with an announcement – I’m particularly excited because it’s my first serial series (meaning I’ll have to make very clear that subsequent books are part of a series and probably don’t work well as standalone, LOL) and as it’s my latest baby, I’m very happy with it! πŸ˜‰ Star Minds book 1 – Technological Angel is out NOW on Smashwords, Kindle, Kobo, DriveThruFiction and XinXii!

You’ve already met Kol-ian, so stay tuned to meet the other characters of this science fantasy saga. I spent the weekend working on book 2, expanding it (but it’s still half of book 1, LOL. Well 30K vs 50K). The print version will come out only when the series is complete – mostly because it’s short books, which doesn’t matter in e-book format, but in print… I already have thin printed books and I’d rather have a big one for a change. I have a wonderful cover by great artist Phoenixlu, but I’m keeping it for the complete series. For the single books, you’ll have to bear with my drawings, LOL!

There’s an ongoing discussion on Goodreads about free titles. I have already mentioned I don’t like those downloaders who want only free titles, hence I find useless KDP Select. Real readers are very happy to pay for a title, and they’re actually wary of free/cheap titles. So let’s hope all indie writers will get the message and stop underselling their work. We are professionals, we ought to get paid for our writing, right?

Like I said in that discussion, B.G. Hope doesn’t have a blog, or a Facebook page, or a Goodreads profile. Well, she sells more than Barbara G.Tarn. And she has NO free titles. And only one novella so far (my bestseller) as I’m still working on the second novella I hope to publish before Christmas. Again, people going for free reads are DOWNLOADERS, not readers. REAL READERS are wary of free and cheap titles. So put a price on your darn novels and get paid for your work! πŸ™‚ Best sellers like John Locke and Amanda Hocking who sold at 99cents are exceptions, not the norm. Have a collection of shorts introducing to your world (like my BoI – Prequels) and put a price on your novel! πŸ™‚

Even temporary discounts haven’t brought in new readers – because again it cathered mostly to Downloaders. So the only real marketing strategy is writing more books – eventually you will be discovered. And remember, e-books are forever. You can’t expect instant success. I had 0$ royalties last year, 100$ this year (all from Smashwords – the DriveThru royalties were enough to pay for the print versions of SKYBAND, though, so I’m very happy with that retailer too) and both my pen names are starting to sell now, months after I published the first title (B.G. Hope had only shorts until I published Johnny&Marian).

Now, if any reader would like to quip in about e-book pricing, feel free – as long as you remain civil, of course! πŸ™‚ I’d love to hear your thoughts. I think both readers and writers have changed with the e-book revolution during this very year, and I’m very curious to hear about the situation in Italy. From tomorrow until Sunday it’s the Small&Medium Publishers Book Fair in Roma again (link in Italian only), and I sure hope it won’t depress me as much as it did last year! I’ll let you know next week what I figured out! πŸ™‚

SPAL has an excellent post about Amazon & Facebook. If you’re a marketing freak, that is. If, like me, you hit that “publish” button and write the next book, you’re probably not really interested. But it’s now obvious that this is not a get-rich-quick venture. Sales take time. And the stars of indie publishing are not the norm, like I said above. Be realistic in your goals – remember, you can control what and how much you write and publish, not how much you sell. Unless you have a crystal ball or a tarot deck – in which case I’d love you to read the cards for me as well, thank you! πŸ˜‰

See also Mark Coker’s post on Amazon KDP Select offer (with the comments from at least one KDP Select author, I didn’t read all the comments, LOL!). Of course Mark is biased, but I still think he has a point. Like SPAL says in the previous link, not everybody owns a Kindle. And you’re missing a lot of readers by staying with Amazon only. It’s a big wide world. You never know where your next reader might be. Yes, my bestseller sold 2 more copies on Kindle US this month and none nowhere else, but I don’t care. One day some i-pad owner might discover B.G. Hope. Or a Kobo owner. A Sony e-reader. A Nook owner – you get the point! πŸ˜‰

You probably have heard that Simon&Shuster opened to self-publishers… not! Here’s David Gaughran’s excellent post on who’s actually “behind” this S&S venture. Writer beware indeed. I guess we can’t trust the Big 6 anymore, if they hire scam companies to run their self-publishing branches! 😦 Like Dean Wesley Smith says

Let me be clear here, folks. Money flows to the writer. Period.

And don’t forget to check his latest post on the New World of Publishing as well. It’s your career and your business choices, don’t fall into the hands of those scam artists still thriving out there! Dean again:

The truth is that the best way to sell books is write a lot, work on learning how to be a better storyteller constantly, get your work in front of editors or readers or both, and plan for the long haul.

So, what are you doing still reading my blog? Go back to writing, you lazy writer! πŸ˜€ Happy writing!

Writer Wednesday

In spite of driving me crazy with the premium distribution and the NCX (not sure the meatgrinder recognizes the word Chapter in another language, which means manual TOC on Italian titles, sigh), I’m still loving Smashwords. They’re even doing some promotion a la Amazon! In my latest trip on the site to leave a review, I saw in the left hand column “People who recently viewed this book also viewed these books” and “People who purchased this book also purchased”. It’s not on all books, but it’s a start, so yay for Smashwords! πŸ™‚

Now, even if Amazon saved your life, like it did for Jessica Park, don’t forget the Kindle is not the only e-reader on the market, and that if you go KDP Select you’re not reaching the part of population that read e-books in e-pub format (Sony, Kobo, i-Pad, smartphone apps, etc)… We want to reach every possible reader, don’t we? It’s an international market, remember? The US might be at the head at the moment, but the rest of the world is following and Amazon hasn’t opened everywhere yet… so for the sake of your readers, try not to give exclusivity to anyone.

Now, about reviews: I never respond to any review on any of my books (OK, sometimes I have to remind the reviewer to post it everywhere, but I never ask to change anything), neither good nor bad. Yes, I read them. Yes, I pout over the “bad” ones. That’s why I don’t check my B&N page anymore because there are plenty of anonymous no-text reviews that are only a waste of my time. And I don’t think adressing the reviewer is professional in any way. But you might want to read the point of view of someone else – and the comments as well. I never respond to reader reviews. But this is a free world, so do what you feel comfortable with! πŸ™‚

Just remember – it’s the end of the world as we know it, especially in publishing. Kris Rusch’s analysis is spot on, as always. I still think the best marketing tool is writing a good book, publish it, and write the next one.

Now I’m falling behind with CVE3 because I’m not happy with it, but by the end of the week I should be ready with the new version. Still looking for betas, in case anyone is interested. Then I’m back to finishing the sci-fi title so I can send it to betas for a summer reading. But I’d love to publish CVE3 on August 1st, so if there are any volunteers, please let me know ASAP.

And this month I’m not publishing anything, becauseΒ  I was supposed to upload a couple of Italian short stories. None of my Italian friends volunteered to review what is already out, so why bother? Yeah, Facebook friends,Β  I know! πŸ˜‰ Anyhow, Italians don’t read, so what’s the hurry? I’ll take June off from publishing – except the last week I’ll be formatting and relettering like crazy to put stuff on DriveThruComics. But that’s another market – comics and graphic novels don’t always go with prose.

By the way, Dear SKYBAND Reader, I’m coloring chapter 11. Our heroes have reached the former Black Empire (due to the skin color of its inhabitants, not because they’re eeeeevil), so I had to do some research (like for the Islands Empire) for new architecture… here’s a sneak preview of the first town they reach (there’s no lettering at all – I’ll do that when I finish coloring).

Now as DayJob gets crazier and I prepare to my two weeks off (but don’t worry, I’ll be offline only for one week, mwahahahahaha!), as the weather is hot cold hot cold rainy sunny rainy sunny and whatnot (Mother Earth must be really pissed at us, can’t blame her) and my blood pressure goes up and down accordingly, making me sleep at all times and my stomach struggle with any food, I’ll just trudge on my path, looking forward to this brand new world! πŸ™‚

Writer Wednesday

So it’s spring – depression and earthquakes (real or metaphorical). The earth is still shaking in Emilia Romagna (not that I feel it, but I have friends there) and DayJob is shaky for the “new” tax that should be paid by June 18th. The only good thing Mr.B had done was eliminate the tax on “first house” (if you have money to buy a second or third house, you also have money to pay taxes on those, right?) – now it’s back. And a region of Italy has no houses to account for. Can’t the government take the hint and try to find the money where it actually is instead of taxing poor citizens that have lost their roofs?

Anyway, at DayJob we’re supposed to accept payment for that tax, and the management doesn’t seem to know how to handle the “emergency”. So it’s a constant flux of e-mails and instructions and they have no idea of what to do. We’re already losing professionality without this mess. So – depression for five hours a day. Can’t quit yet, because the other source of depression comes from Real Job or Indie Publishing. Smashwords is backlogged with the premium catalog and keeps rejecting novels without TOCs, Amazon KDP has probably found too many pirated books among the freebies and wants to be sure I’m the owner of my own copyright and every day I seem to be wading a river of mud instead of just another day. Add the crazy weather with temperatures going yo-yo, and you can imagine how I look forward to being off everything for a couple of weeks.

The only thing that keeps me happy in all this? Well, writing, of course. On Silvery Earth they don’t have phones, PCs and the internet and life is much simpler, LOL! Which means I’ll never stop writing, but I might slow down the publishing part – I probably was going too fast. So stop, breathe and then keep going. I mean keep writing. If it’s not ready, don’t hit “publish”. I might publish a couple of Italian shorts, but I’m not really selling any Italian titles (did I mention Italians don’t read?), so why bother? I’ll just go back to writing the next English book.

And maybe eventually I’ll have covers like Joe Konrath. I mean, even Dean Wesley Smith and WMG Publishing are redoing their covers, but I don’t want to change the looks of Silvery Earth’s titles yet… Unless everybody at Chicon7 tells me my covers suck, that is! πŸ™‚ Anyhow, better go back to writing now. It eases my depression, you see! πŸ˜‰

Random Friday

In the previous post I told why I prefer Smashwords as a writer. Now I’m going to put my reader’s hat on! πŸ™‚

The writer hates she can’t download her own books from Amazon: my books on my Kindle are all Smashwords files. I have no idea what the customer gets except for the preview before I upload them. So 30+ title on my Kindle are my books (which doesn’t mean I’ve read them all, not even with the text-to-speech function, LOL!).

When my Kindle breaks (hopefully never, but electronic stuff quickly becomes obsolete – I’m not going to change my Kindle Keyboard for any fancy color update anytime soon, but you never know), I’ll have to put my Kindle-only books through Calibre. On Smashwords I only have to go back to the book page and download another format.

AND if the author publishes a revised version of any of the books I’ve bought, I can have it for free on Smashwords. (So, the few who bought B.G.Hope’s short stories for 99cents, can now download the double shorts and have the second story really for free. All new customers get the two stories for the new price).

And on Amazon anyone can leave reviews, which leaves room for troll reviews. On Barnes&Nobles you can even leave anonymous reviews! 😦 Now, apparently Google has found a way to detect and remove fake spammy reviews, but still… On Smashwords and DriveThru you need to buy the book to leave a review – which I find wonderful (in spite of the annoying Smashword reminder, LOL).

And of course both allow you to either create coupons for reviewers or send free review copies – something that Amazon itself doesn’t allow, if a reviewer wants a mobi file, I need to create it (for DriveThru I’m still working on the mobi and e-pub versions, it still has only PDFs. More formats will come, promised!) – or send the reviewer to Smashwords! πŸ˜€

Now, I’ve read a paperback book – because Penguin India didn’t provide the e-book format -, remember them? πŸ˜‰ It’s The Boyfriend by R.Raj Rao (link to… where I bought it!) – yeah, I still love Amazon, but not to buy e-books! πŸ˜‰

Here’s my review copy-pasted from Goodreads/Amazon:

I’m only halfway through it and I’m loving it! Also because I’m a Bollywood geek, so even if the book is set in the 1990s, there’s still mention of rising star Shah Rukh Khan and his movie Baazigar (which is the remake of A Kiss Before Dying with Matt Dillon, BTW) and other people I’ve actually heard about, LOL!
Also, this is pure gay fiction, not m/m romance written by women for women, so it’s very refreshing. And very interesting discovering the gay life of Bombay/Mumbai – something you don’t really expect exists.
And I love the mix of British English and Hindi! And the omniscient narrator, a.k.a. head-hopping so many editors and writing guru rant against! πŸ™‚
Now I’m finished: I loved the dry humor of this story and the mix of English and Hindi – I don’t care if some words make no sense to me, they make a sense of where the characters are!
One last note: If you hate spoilers, DO NOT read the back cover of the paperback. I’ve never seen the complete plot revealed on the cover (not that it’s a mystery or a thriller, but still…). One star to the editor of Penguin India who wrote that without a “spoiler alert”!

So, there you have it! For an India/gay culture buff like me, it was really funny and a great read. Again, I was appalled at the back cover giving away the whole plot, but I don’t really care for spoilers – that’s what I actually look for in movies or books descriptions, LOL! Well, I look for that little hint of a scene or something of the story that grabs me – in this case the title and knowing it dealt with homosexuality in Bombay/Mumbai was enough, but otherwise I need a little something to make me want to buy.

Like Michelle, I don’t care if somebody tells me the end. As a reader, I don’t read the sample – not even with paper books. I go for cover, back cover and it’s in my basket or back on the shelves. OK, while I’m talking as a reader, I’ll say that I do have ONE sample on my Kindle: Rob Lowe’s book. But it’s a traditionally published book, with traditionally published e-book pricing, so I’m not going to download it all. If I must pay that price to read it, I’ll wait until I go to London or the US and buy the paperback. Heck, the paperback might even have pictures inside like Shahrukh Khan’s bio! (Maybe it doesn’t I’m just assuming! ;-)). So I’ll stick to that sample and the Vanity Fair excerpt that came out last year until either traditional publishers lower their e-book prices or I buy the paperback.

There you have, then, this reader’s habits… they haven’t changed much in time, except from reading on different formats – from paper only to paper + PDF to paper + PDF + ebooks, but the way of chosing what to read is still the same… Now I’m back to finishing Mark Coker’s book (free download recommended to all indie writers!!) and deciding what to post on Sunday! More longer excerpts or another six sentence? You tell me! πŸ™‚

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