Book Rec for Self-Publishers

I decided not to take my computer on my trip last week which gave me plenty of time on the way there and back to do some catch-up reading. (I tend to still read physical books more than ebooks so all the ebooks I end up acquiring here or there just sit on my ereader unread for ages.)

One that I think I received free via Wharton was called The Shopping Revolution by Barbara E. Kahn. (That’s an affiliate link, FYI, but you can just search for it as well.)

As someone who uses Amazon to sell my products it was a really interesting read. There’s a lot of discussion in indie world about how Amazon should police its store for copyright violations or people who trade and republish the same material, etc. etc. but what this book makes clear is that Amazon doesn’t give a flying you-know-what about any of that.

Turns out they have a stated approach of not taking any responsibility for knock-off products being sold on their site. (Yet another reason for me as a consumer to not shop there anymore, after having bought brand-name products that didn’t seem to be the same as the ones I had bought in physical stores. Now I know why.)

It also makes it very clear that Amazon believes in differentiating itself on low pricing. So for all us who bemoan Amazon’s many ways of controlling pricing, that’s a deliberate strategy on their part. The fact that they skew payouts to drive ebook prices below $10 for self-publishing is not going to change anytime soon. (Which sucks, quite frankly, and is why I chose not to list the ebook version of Excel Essentials for sale on Amazon.)

Anyway. About a third of the book is devoted to an in depth discussion and analysis of Amazon and I think it’s well worth reading if you’re going to do business with Amazon, which, as a self-publisher, is pretty much impossible to avoid.

Life Changes on a Dime

I’m sitting here watching the “blizzard” outside my window. Welcome to March in Colorado. I suspect I’ll lose at least one tree limb before this all out but I’m not willing to venture out into that mess to knock the snow off the trees just now.

Five days ago I was in New Zealand. It was seventy degrees (Fahrenheit), I was sitting next to a lake eating yummy fish and chips, and recharging after far too long of going going going non-stop.

Quite the contrast.

That difference–and the fact that I was in NZ to visit a very close friend who is two years into dealing with a cancer diagnosis–has me all philosophical today.

In my friend’s case they were dragging for a while before the diagnosis, but there was one day when it all flipped for them. When that “gosh I’m tired” feeling turned into “there is something really serious wrong with me and I need to stop right now and find out exactly what it is.” (Brain tumors will do that to you, you know?)

Just like that they found themselves living an entirely new life.

Of course, illness is a weird thing. Two years ago my friend didn’t think they’d make it six months. And I went to visit now because my friend is probably about to start round three of treatments. I could no longer be sure they’d be here next year when I was planning to go to NZ for Worldcon. So I went now.

And I went expecting, I don’t know, someone who was struggling? Someone who was scared? Someone who was demonstrably ill? (I know this person better than that, but it’s easy to project your own feelings onto someone else’s experience.)

I found someone who was definitely changed from who they’d been seven years ago when I saw them last–they can’t take part of your cerebellum and not have some impact–but I didn’t find someone who you’d think was dying.

I was only there 29 hours (crazy, I know), but I’m glad I went. It was perfect timing in so many ways.

My friend has a new scan on Monday. It may mean new drugs and new treatments. A month from now they may be that struggling and scared person I thought I’d find.

Or not. Life’s funny that way. Maybe I’ll get to visit again next July.

That’s the thing about life. You really, truly don’t know what tomorrow will bring. You can guess, and you’ll probably be right a lot of the time, but one moment can change it all.

One flip of that coin and tomorrow can be better (or worse) (or both at the same time) by magnitudes. That’s what keeps it interesting, right? Always something new around the bend.