A Thing I Will Never Understand

I see this pop up on Twitter on a semi-regular basis but it seems that maybe something similar has hit Tik Tok. And it’s this notion that it’s okay to pirate or read and return books because “capitalism sucks” or some such nonsense.

What people don’t understand is that the person they punish when they do that is not the big corporation that they think they’re stealing from. It’s the creators.

I mean, do you really think Amazon takes that financial hit when you return a book? No. They pass it on to the author. That money you got back to buy that next book? Came right out of the author’s pocket.

And piracy? Reading off of some random website instead of paying for the product? That’s why great series get cancelled before they’re finished. Because the economics aren’t there to continue it so either the publisher or the author thinks, “well, guess we’ll put our time and effort into something that might pay the rent instead.”

I mean, you have to understand that a creator is probably making anywhere from 35 cents to a few bucks off of most of their sales.

Each month they have to scrape together enough of those sales to add up to a mortgage/rent and food and car maintenance and all those other little pesky things in life.

It’s why most writers have to have other jobs.

Because, let’s be generous and say that a creator makes $2.50 per sale. And let’s say that their rent or mortgage is $1,500 which may be high for some places but low for others. That means that a creator needs 600 sales per month just to keep a roof over their heads. And that’s not covering pesky things like food. And health insurance. And clothes. (Although, admittedly, working from home by yourself means your clothes needs are pretty minimal.)

And you know what happens when an author has to have another job just to be able to eat? They don’t write as much. That book you loved so much you just had to steal it? Doesn’t get written. Or more of the same doesn’t get written. Or what does get written is fast, easy, derivative stuff that all starts to sound the same.

Take it far enough and what you end up with is books written by affluent white men and housewives with some free time on their hands. Not the diversity of stories that people claim they want so much.

If you want interesting and different stories, you have to make it possible for them to be written. By, you know, paying real cash money for them. (Because, yes, we do live in a capitalist hellscape where nothing is free and no one is guaranteed a roof over their heads or food on their table. At least in the United States.)

I honestly hate this notion that seems to exist out there that “life is hard for me so I’ll make it hard for others”. Yeah, the world needs to improve. Absolutely.

But stealing books? Not the way to do it.

And if you don’t have money for a book? Try a library. Authors get paid for library sales and they’re a great way to be discovered by other readers, too.

Or read free books. There are probably more free books available right now, today, than a person could read in a lifetime.

(And if you’re like, “but not the book I want to read” well sit and think about that a minute would you? It means someone created a product that you liked enough that, I don’t know, maybe you could pay them for it? Just a thought.)

Seriously, people. If you want the world to be a better place, start with your own actions.

(And my apologies to most of my readers who do not in fact pirate books or read and return who just got a little blast of negativity in their day. One of the things I generally try to do is not pass on negativity, but I seem to not be doing so well at that the last few weeks. I will try to do better, but this one really had to be said for that one person who might see it and change their behavior. Each person who tries to do better is one more drop added to making the world a better place, and enough drops of water can topple a mountain.)

Random Comments and Thoughts 20220329

First off, closed captions on the Affinity Publisher videos are done so anyone who accesses the courses through Teachable, every video should have them now. Also, if you have the quick takes course I added a few more videos there and will probably add more until it covers all the items in the appendix for the non-fiction book, too.

Also, color versions of all four Affinity books will be going live soon. IngramSpark was offering a code for five free publications in March (now extended to the end of April), so I figured why not. For the ads and book covers titles, I think the color version is the better one to purchase. For fiction layouts and non-fiction, eh. There are some images where it’ll help to have the color version, but not sure it’s worth the added cost.

And I got my SFWA approval today so that was a nice and painless process. Now to have the discipline to not get caught up in yet another author forum but to write instead.

In other thoughts…

I picked up a book called Originals by Adam Grant and have been working my way through it. I’m only sixty pages in, but there were a few comments already that struck me.

One was this fact that they found that people who had the highest originality were also the most prolific. And I think that holds true with writing, too. Those first few books you’re sort of wrestling with what you’ve already read or your own personal issue that drove you to write.

And we all do have themes that run through our writing long-term. But after the first few books where you get the obvious out on the page, I think that’s when you really start to dig down and find new and interesting things you hadn’t thought about exploring before.

I’ve definitely heard the “seek more ideas” sort of advice in writing courses as well. That notion that you shouldn’t stop at the first, second, or third thing that comes to mind, but should keep going until you get something that wasn’t the easy, obvious choice.

Another thing that he mentioned that was interesting was this notion that a short, intense, heavily prolific period is best for creating original work. It’ll produce duds, too, but it seems to be the best way to produce some gems along the way.

So, basically, if you’re given the choice to write a million words in a year or a million words over five years, choose the shorter time period if you want to write the most original work.

An interesting concept. And maybe one worth testing.

There’s a lot more in there. Like our tendency to hear someone else’s idea and somehow incorporate it as our own. And that being successful in one domain makes us have hubris that we’ll also be successful in others which turns out to not be the case. And that outsiders tend to be the most original. And that someone can be brilliant at having ideas, but not at the execution of those ideas.

All valid and worth a ponder and I’m only 1/5 of the way through.

Also someone shared the other day this great interview by Jennifer Lynn Barnes on the psychological phenomenon of the peak-end effect as applied to writing. Well worth considering if you want to make a story pop all that much more.

(I’m sad that she’s no longer a professor because that means one of my random “maybe someday” life plans of moving to Oklahoma and trying to apply to study with her is no longer possible, but I’m glad to see she was so successful at putting her research to work that she could quit her teaching job to write full time. I’m also hoping that means one day we’ll get a writing advice book from her which I will buy in an instant. I absolutely loved her talks at the Denver RWA conference I attended.)

So, yeah. Back to it.

Random Comments and Thoughts 20220326

First, if you write speculative fiction (so sci-fi, fantasy, and the like) and were interested in SFWA membership before but didn’t qualify, they recently changed their membership criteria.

To be an Associate member now only requires “Their catalog of paid work in science fiction, fantasy, or related genres equals or exceeds $100 USD.” To be a Full member is $1000.

If I read that right I went from not qualifying with either SFF pen name to qualifying with both multiple times over.

I tend to be one of those people who doesn’t want to be a member of any organization that will have me, but I went ahead and applied under the name that qualifies me for full membership.

I was very proud the first time I qualified for a writing organization. I even ponied up the money to go to the dinner where they read my name and gave me a little plaque. (It literally reads “Author”. It doesn’t even have the name of the organization on it, it just says my name, the year, and “Author”.)

I was a member for a few years, but not terribly active because one of the first things that happened was I joined the private FB group and the first post I saw was a suggestion of arranging review swaps on each others’ books.

So. Yeah. Not my scene.

We’ll see how this one goes. According to friends who have been members for a long time the mindset there has definitely shifted to be more self-pub inclusive and it seems more romance inclusive as well.

But I have a long memory and haven’t forgotten a few of the things I’ve seen over the years from senior members there related to self-pub, so while I did put in an application to join I won’t be diving in with both feet right away.

As for other thoughts or comments…

I try to remind myself it’s usually not about me even when it seems like it might be. So this is just a general reiteration of something I said in the very first book I ever published in 2013.

In that case, I was talking about men and their attitudes towards women. And I stated in that book that I won’t date a man who says things like, “Other women are such [insert negative description here], but not you.”

Or a man who calls women in general names. The b-word seems to be a common choice with that type.

And the reason is because I know that that guy who is being nice to me now will put me in that bucket later. We’ll break up and suddenly I too am a [insert your favorite negative word about women]. Or I’m that ex he rants about for being…whatever.

So I skip that whole thing by just not letting men like that into my life in the first place.

I’m the same way with anger. I don’t care if that anger is directed at the waitress or the airline or whoever. If a man I’m with goes completely red-faced, over-the-top angry and threatening at anyone, I’m done. Because someday it will be directed at me and I’m not going to sit around and wait for that day to happen.

In that book, which was for men, I said that if you talk about women that way, you should get help before your next relationship, because there are men who don’t ever use that kind of language about women or react to situations with that kind of anger. And doing so in my opinion indicates some issues that need to be addressed before you can be in an intimate relationship with someone.

So I have no tolerance for angry or violent men. But I also have no tolerance for people who are just generally mean or nasty towards others. I apply that same mindset towards my friendships.

I have known my best friend since 7th grade, so over thirty years at this point. And I honestly don’t think she has a mean bone in her body. She’s so nice that I tease her about it sometimes. (I on the other hand am clearly a work in progress.)

Being nice doesn’t mean she’s a Pollyanna who doesn’t see the negative in the world. She does. And she will acknowledge it. And she will state a fact about someone that is not positive.

But what she doesn’t do is revel in saying negative things about others. There is no glee or joy or enjoyment in sharing a negative fact. And she only will say something like that if it’s relevant to the conversation.

She manages 100+ people and at a place where a lot of people have issues in their lives. So when she’s talking to me about the fourteen-year-old who had to quit because she got pregnant, that’s not a “OMG, would you believe…how trashy” moment. It’s a, deep sigh, “Yeah, I had an employee this summer who…and it’s really tough and…” moment.

There’s empathy there, not superiority.

My other best friend has a similar personality. Again, she’s not oblivious to bad things happening or bad people existing in this world, but she doesn’t use that to lift herself up or make herself feel good.

I personally probably say more shit about people than either of them. I am more judge-y. I will say, “Wow. I would not do that.” (What can I say? I try to find people who are better than me to be friends with and then hope they improve me.)

But at the same time, I honestly, truly, do strive not to be mean about others. And I don’t know how to explain that difference to people who don’t get it. Pointing out something bad or negative someone has done is not the same thing as being mean about others.

For example, I had a few “friends” in high school who took pleasure in mocking others. I remember going to the mall with one of them and all they wanted to do was sit in the main area of the mall, point out other people, and make fun of them. That was enjoyable for that person. (And one of the reasons to this day that if I ever saw them again I’d cross the street to avoid them. They are on my NEVER list.)

That person may not have been violent or dangerous like some others can be, but that doesn’t excuse that type of emotionally damaging behavior. People who approach life that way just make it a worse world for all of us.

And that is not the type of person I want in my personal space. It is not behavior I’m willing to excuse or accept.

To each their own obviously. Plenty of people like that do very well so they clearly have a following or acceptance for being that way. It’s just not what I want in my life. And if you don’t want that in your life either, you don’t have to accept it. Plenty of good people like my two best friends out there in the world.

Two Editing Modes

I’ve been adding closed captions to all of the Affinity video courses. (Anyone who has signed up for the courses on Teachable, everything except Quick Takes now has closed captions, which means if you hate the way I talk, you can just mute me and still get all the info. Yay.)

Everything was going well until I hit the Quick Takes videos. And then that little editor switch in my brain got flipped.

Because it turns out I have two separate editing modes. One is “this is pretty good, let me tidy up a bit” and the other is “okay, we’ve tipped over into too much to edit, let’s just rip this thing into shreds and start from the bottom up.”

It used to be horrible when that would happen when I was reviewing other people’s content. Because I didn’t want to ever enter the second editing mode. I had too much on my plate to be ripping things apart.

But sometimes…Like that dude who wrote 529 plan review procedures as if they were wire order when they were in fact application-way…(Don’t worry it doesn’t have to make sense. Think of it as the equivalent of someone telling you how to self-publish an ebook by talking about print formatting.)

When something is that far off there’s no choice but to just throw the whole thing out and begin again, because if you tried to redline it would be a blood bath or like Frankenstein with all these mismatched pieces sewn together.

Fortunately, this doesn’t usually happen with my own stuff.

Which makes sense, right? Because, usually I’m not going to be so far off the mark that I can see it in review.

Although that is why the second AMS book ended up being a complete rewrite. Not because I’d been off with the information in the first book, but just because so much had changed with AMS in that year( or two?) between editions that I had to write a completely new book rather than just make some minor tweaks here or there.

At that point it was best to just set the old book aside and construct a new one from the bottom up.

But that’s what just happened with the quick takes videos.

I started to listen to them and a few had weird sound quality that I somehow missed the first time around. Once I noticed that the switch flipped and I started thinking about how I would’ve done things differently if I were recording them today.

And once that happened…I decided to just re-record them all.

So, yeah, that’s what I’ve been doing today.

At least this way I’ll have incorporated four video courses and books’ worth of knowledge into the videos.

And if the sound quality is still off somehow it’ll be consistent across all of the videos. Hopefully not. Although my dog has taken to snoring in the background non-stop because she’s old and I’m too glad to still have her nearby to chase her out of the room when she wants to be near me. So there’s a little of that in there. But not bad. I generally time my speaking around her snoring.

Ah, the life of a small business owner, one-person shop.

So far for those who have the videos the intro, studios/studio presets, and document presets sections as well as the resizing an image sections are redone. I expect to get through them all by Monday.

Good times!

(And I will add that that is one of the more challenging challenges of self-employment. Knowing that thing A needs fixed, that it won’t earn you enough money to justify the time/effort of fixing it because you don’t get paid per hour, but doing it anyway because it’s the right thing to do.)

Random Comments and Thoughts 20220316

First, Patricia C. Wrede has a good blog post up today, check it out: Living the Dream.

(And a reminder that she posts every Wednesday and usually has good things to say for writing craft/writing life.)

That post kind of dovetails with some thoughts I’ve been having lately.

Right now with my writing I earn enough on a consistent basis that I would be paying all of my bills if I were to move somewhere like Omaha, Nebraska where the housing and rental market has not doubled in price in less than ten years.

I’ve been at that level for the last couple of years, and I’m also growing my profit at about 10-15% per year just by doing what I’ve been doing, so for me for right now writing as a career is sustainable.

But I also know that I am not as productive working for myself as I am working for someone else. What I produce each year is what I can do without breaking a sweat. It’s a steady, pleasurable jog that doesn’t get the heart rate up.

(And, yes, that means I have certain inherent privileges around physical and mental health that let me do that. As you can see by this comment, I pay too much attention to the sensitivities of strangers on Twitter. Anyway.)

Right now I’m pretty confident that I could go on exactly as I am and be fine for five years. I mean, the world is a crap shoot sometimes so health, economy, world events can all tilt the world in a day. But I’m good. I don’t need to make a drastic change.

And I enjoy my life. I wake up every day and there is nothing in my day that I dread. And parts of it that I really like. Going for a morning walk with my dog. The writing and editing and fiddling with ads. Watching TV. Reading a book. I have a life I enjoy living that is low-stress and pleasant.

And yet, I’ve been considering going back to paid employment. Working for someone else.

One opportunity would be fighting the good fight, working for a friend, not being paid well, but also probably still having time for the writing if I wanted it. The other would very likely be diving into the deep end, full sprint ahead, rising to a new challenge, and with a potentially high-payout at the end of probably five years.

Both have their appeal. (As does continuing as I am now, but the Strategic brain never stops seeing all the paths.)

Because of those two opportunities, one of the issues I’ve been thinking about lately is how the time I’ve spent focused on writing fits into an overall career path.

As me, employed by me, my career choices are irrelevant. No one else’s opinion matters. I’m not trying to raise funding, I’m not trying to get an agent or book deal. I am just betting on myself with my own money, which means not needing anyone’s approval for what I do or how I do it.

But as a job applicant, the path I have taken to get to this point matters a great deal.

A number of the people I worked with in my prior career see doing something like walking away from a high-paying job to write books as some sort of instability or sign of unreliability.

I mean, forget that I’ve run my own company for a decade now, it’s simply not what’s done.

One does not do that sort of thing. One gets a steady reliable employment and slowly works one’s way up to a corner office while having 2.2 children and appropriate hobbies that put one into contact with the right sort of people.

Which, you know, fair enough. That approach to life works very well for that personality type and we need a lot of people like that for the world not to devolve into chaos.

But it does have me thinking about how to view people in a work space.

Are people like an Olympic athlete who needs to maintain a certain level of training to hit peak performance?

In that case you want someone who has year in and year out put in their sixty-hour weeks (or more) and delivered results. You want them operating at a high level consistently and should only be willing to consider those who have been doing so and are continuing to do so.

Or are people more like a fallow field?

Do they perform better for having taken a step back and consolidated their lessons and defined their goals? Is there something to be said for not having spent twenty-plus years in a dead sprint towards a destination but for instead taking the time to absorb past experiences, refine a viewpoint, and seen that there was a better path or better goal?

I honestly don’t know the answer.

When I did an on-site assignment after a few years of off-site consulting I joked to a co-worker that I no longer had the callouses I needed for it.

I meant the real ones that would let me wear heels every day, but also the metaphorical ones that would let me sit in a bullpen with twenty others day in and day out and let me not only survive but deeply engage with that hours-long conversation about “its” versus “their” for referring to a department.

But I also know that when I took a year off from college I went back more focused and driven. It was that year off that resulted in my adding a major that was going to actually let me get a job after graduation.

It was all well and good that I could say I’d gone to the market to buy a cow in Mayan, but what I needed was that economics degree to tell employers I was worth hiring.

So maybe it’s a bit of both. You want someone who can hit the pace, but also someone who has had enough breathing room to think smart and know where they want to go. I don’t know. It seems to me you get one or the other, but rarely both.

It may be a moot point anyway. The job with a friend may not allow off-site work long-term, which is a deal-breaker for me at this point. The other job may only want “Olympic athletes.”

In which case, I carry on choosing me and doing what I want the way I want when I want, which is not such a bad thing.

In either event, these ridiculous closed captions are not going to fix themselves so off to “work”.

AMS Ads Are About to Get a Lot More Interesting

I noticed the change a week ago when it actually messed me up. For Sponsored Brand ads I wasn’t able to create a new ad for any but three of my pen names and they weren’t the ones I like to advertise.

The solution I was told was to make sure that I had those names linked on Author Central for the email that I use to access KDP.

I noticed at the same time that the list of books I can advertise included a box set I’d been in ages ago that I hadn’t published myself but that was on one of my Author Central pages.

And so I checked, and sure enough, one of the books I only publish in print through IngramSpark was also eligible to advertise.

Today I get an email from Amazon about how authors can now advertise their trade pub books, too, as long as those books are listed on their Author Central page.

Which means, if hybrid authors are smart, they will consider using AMS for their trade-pub titles. Now the margins are not anywhere near the same so it may not be financially feasible to do.

But it’s a helluva lot better way to spend money than pay for a publicist, for example. Or send out swag bags to people who already wanted your book.

(Although, yes, sure, reader loyalty helps so the swag bags are a thing that readers appreciate. But for a release week or release month in trade pub where doing well fast matters? I’d put that money behind an AMS campaign myself.)

Might turn out to be nothing. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see even more competition in AMS ads as a result of this change.

Random Comments and Thoughts 20220312

I was having a conversation with some friends in a private group about self-pub gurus and the amount they actually provide actionable information and how there’s often a lot more hype there than substance. (Or it’s the All-Star problem of people having inherent skills that most mere mortals do not possess and cannot emulate even if that would in fact lead to success.)

That conversation had me thinking about how the writing world in general and self-publishing in particular definitely has both cool kids and mean girls.

Some days it’s reminiscent of being back in high school where someone is standing in the corner whispering behind their hand and you don’t know what you did wrong today to get them talking about you but the pointed looks and rolled eyes or laughs make it pretty clear you did something.

(Which I react to about the way I did in high school: by giving a dagger look in their general direction, thinking, seriously fuck off if you’re that type of person who talks about others in petty little ways, and then I get on with enjoying a life that doesn’t include people like that.)

Of course that ties into one of the things I see make the rounds on Twitter every few months. Someone will get a publishing deal and suddenly someone else posts about how you shouldn’t be the type of person who drops their friends when you reach a certain level of success.

Part of me knows that there really are people like that, that think they’ve leveled up and can move past old connections. (Like in that horrible U.S. version of Downton Abbey they recently released.)

But part of me wonders if it’s just that the people bitching about no longer being connected to that person simply didn’t notice the person had walked away from the friendship until the person actually had something worth latching onto.

For example, I am an unfriender on FB.

Life is too short for me to stay “friends” with that person who was going to get their antibody test in early summer 2020 and then go join the white supremacist protestors with assault rifles at the capital to end the lockdowns.

Especially after FB had graced me with their anti-abortion posts for years.

Life is also too short for me to stay “friends” with the person who once informed me with all seriousness that they’re only friends with attractive people. And who recently name-checked a person that was at some event they fondly remembered while not name-checking me as the other person who’d been there. I figured if I either wasn’t attractive enough or wasn’t important enough anymore for this person to acknowledge my existence at that event that maybe it was time for that “friendship” to die, too.

I have no doubt if I ever signed some big publishing contract that both would suddenly realize we weren’t connected anymore and think I’d suddenly dumped them and make some comment about it. Forget the fact that it had happened years before and for vastly different reasons.

Which is why accepting some third-party’s take on a conversation or situation is a bad, bad idea. Hell, even accepting your own take is sometimes a bad idea.

Years ago I worked with a guy who really creeped me out. He followed me around at work the entire shift. One night I even thought he was going to follow me out to my car in a dark parking lot.

It was so bad I went to the manager about it and asked if she could please stop scheduling us together. I felt sick going in to work every day because I knew that guy would be following me around the whole time in this horrible creepy way where he’d poke my shoulder each time he walked by and say, “Hey you.”

It sucked. And I was firmly convinced it was him being a creeper. (I was 21 and had a number of experiences where men twice my age would run across the street to hit on me so I thought I knew what this was.)

The manager was his sister. And she asked if I really thought it rose to the level of sexual harassment. Me being 21 and having had to screw up all my courage just to bring it up with her, I said I guess not. So she kept scheduling him with me on every single shift for the entire shift and I kept feeling more and more sick to my stomach each day I had to go into work.

Which is how I came to lose my shit with her and him about a week later over my not being allowed to wear shorts at work even though he was and we had no dress code.

Which got me fired from that job. (That turned out to be a secret blessing, really. I’d taken the first job I could find when I got to school and when they fired me it turned out I’d been earning vacation time all along that they had to pay me. Not only that, I was able to get a better-paying, easier job for the last couple months of school.)

For years I would’ve told you that guy was a creeper. And I could’ve described for you all the things he’d done that proved my point.

Until my weird little brain finally put together an offhand comment one of our co-workers made to me about how the morning manager (I was the night manager) had been fired for stealing from the store a couple weeks after I was fired. My job was to collect the money from the till and put it in the safe. Hers was to count it each morning.

It took me about a decade to put that together, but I finally realized that the weird dude with poor social skills who was following me around my entire shift wasn’t doing it out of some sexual attraction but because his sister knew someone was stealing from the store and thought it was me so had set him to keep an eye on me.

And she wasn’t concerned about him sexually harassing me because she knew what he was really doing.

So, yeah. Sometimes what we think we heard or experienced isn’t even what happened because we filtered it through our limited knowledge or skewed experiences.

Doesn’t change how it made us feel even if we were wrong, of course. The stomach clenching feeling I felt going into work every day was very, very real for me.

But since I worked that out (after ten years) I try to keep that in mind as a reminder to myself that maybe I don’t have all the facts. Or maybe what I perceived in a word or an action isn’t what was intended, consciously or subconsciously.

And if I’m getting that information through a third-party who has their own limited knowledge and skewed perspective? Well.

That’s an even bigger moment to proceed with caution. Anyway. Random thoughts thanks to too much free time. Time to feed the dog.

Free Book Promo (SFF)

For anyone who reads this blog who also happens to be a fan of science fiction or fantasy and reads ebooks, have I got the deal for you.

Starting today and running through the 16th is the Mega SFF Promotion run by Patty Jansen. (Shout out to Patty for the incredible work she put in organizing this thing. And if you are a SFF author who didn’t know about this before it happened, support it because the better it does the more likely she is to run it again.)

Over 145 books for free. Something for everyone from what I can tell. So check it out. My YA adventure fantasy, Rider’s Revenge by Alessandra Clarke, is included if anyone was ever curious about my fantasy writing. (Although at this point that book was published seven years ago so, you know, my writing has probably evolved some. Crazy to think about that.)

Since this is a writing-related blog, too, let me take a moment to sort of talk about that side of things while I’m here.

Patty has for years run the ebookaroo which is free for authors and features new releases, 99 cent deals, and free deals.

She recently had the idea to do this big mega-free event, which is also free to participate in. It’s basically a great way for authors to reach each other’s readers through an event where the only cost is the sweat-equity of putting up your blog posts and reaching out to your newsletter.

A nice side effect of this promo for me has been that since this book has been free all month others picked it up to feature, too. I had a few deal sites let me know they’d featured the book as well as an author who needed a few more books for a newsletter that was going out this week.

That right there was a few thousand free downloads just for having the book set to free. And at least during the Freebooksy day I had four full series buys so made some nice money, too.

I only have three fantasy books so I don’t feel comfortable going with a permafree strategy for those books, but something like this where I can set the book to free for a month and run FB ads and participate in some other promos is a good way to bring more readers into the series.

The last book in this series released in 2017, but thanks to these periodic promos the series still makes me a couple thousand a year in profit even though I haven’t released anything new under this name in almost five years.

So if you as an author haven’t tried free as a strategy, it’s something to consider. Think of it as giving out samples like they do at the grocery store. Sure, some people are just like, “ooh, free, thanks” and that’s it. But other will be like, “tasty, give me more” and suddenly you have a new reader.

Anyway. Click on the links above. Download some books. Make me look good, please, so they let me in next time, too. 🙂

New Affinity Video Courses

Alright, if I did things right, which, you know can sometimes be up for debate, the video courses that correspond to Affinity Publisher for Ad Creatives, Affinity Publisher for Basic Book Covers, and Affinity Publisher for Non-Fiction are now live on Teachable.

If you had previously signed up for Affinity Publisher for Fiction Layouts, check your email because you should have received a special discount code. For anyone else interested in the classes, you can use MLH50 to get 50% off of any of the courses.

I will likely be putting these courses up on other stores at some point, too, but no promises as to when. I refuse to put up videos with automated closed captioning because, wow, the things that closed captioning thinks I’m saying….not even close to what I am actually saying. It does no one any good to have the screen saying something about Islamic militants when I was talking about master pages in Affinity.

(Although it really does make me wonder what closed captioning is trained on, the words it seems to default to.)

So anyway. There will be a bit of a delay there but the courses are on Teachable and I think pretty reasonably priced for what you get. Enjoy. (And let me know if you have any issues.)

Random Comments and Thoughts 20220307

First, kudos to Brandon Sanderson for knocking that Kickstarter out of the park. It’s at $25 million raised as of this morning and has plenty of time left to go. As I said in one of my FB groups, Brandon Sanderson sure knows how to self-publish, which is what doing a Kickstarter is, right?

But as I also told another friend who didn’t know who he was because she’s more involved in the romance genre than SFF, this is the culmination of a very successful twenty-year prolific trade-publishing career. The man has delivered on what he delivers consistently for decades and has already run one successful Kickstarter for a fancy hard cover edition in the past. So he’s shown he can deliver both a good story and the product he’s offering.

I do think this highlights something very crucial, though, which is that published authors are not some monolith. What a Brandon Sanderson can do is not what I can do and not what most authors can do. So it’s important to look at what he did there and not think, “Oh, wow, let me go raise my $25 million” or “Gosh, my Kickstarter only raised $1,000, I must suck,” because he’s operating at a level that maybe a hundred authors are at. Maybe.

The other thing I think is important to understand is that Kickstarter has morphed from what some people think it’s supposed to be. I had a friend do a Kickstarter a number of years ago for a project (that they didn’t deliver on) that was meant to fund the development stage of the product. That’s what I think some people still think Kickstarter is.

But I’ve seen it used recently more as a pre-order platform for authors where they want to do a print run of a book and this lets them get an approximate number of books to print. Which is why the “he already reached his goal, why is he still going” takes on Twitter made no sense. Because he wasn’t saying, “give me a million dollars and I’ll write this book.” He was saying, “I’ve written this book, how many of you want this special edition of it?”

Which is also why the hot takes about this upending publishing were a bit suspect, too. Like publishers are really going to require their authors to crowd fund their own advance? No. Worry about something that may happen. Like the publishers Kickstarting your book themselves to see what kind of print run they should expect. That’s more of a possibility, although still unlikely.

What I would expect are tighter contract terms for trade pub. The fact that he could do this in an established universe where he has a trade pub contract in place means there were probably some things about his contracts that are not going to be options in the contracts for newer authors.

You can bet after this that some publishers will try to lock down all “special editions” rights they can if they haven’t already.

(Although, if they’re smart, maybe not. I’m pretty sure I saw somewhere that Sanderson plans to go through trade pub for the regular hard cover and paperback versions of these books. In which case letting him Kickstart the premium version of the book very likely means a lot of sales for those versions of these books for his trade publisher, especially the overseas versions which it seems are going to be expensive enough to ship that some overseas readers were unhappy they wouldn’t be able to get a physical book.)

Anyway. An interesting development to watch. Not something most of us could actually do ourselves, but something that means we can do other, smaller things along similar lines. And a reminder that it’s better to strive for the next rung on the ladder and not be defeated by what someone a hundred rungs ahead of you is doing.

Also, this was not meant to be entirely about that Kickstarter, so just another thought. This morning I removed my easy access to one of the few FB groups I was still stopping by regularly because there’s been someone frequently posting in that group with complaints about anything and everything.

My experience from my days in a work environment is that toxicity can be contagious and spiral until you devolve into a group that just complains and is unhappy all the time. I’ve had good work groups turn sour like that and it sucks every time it happens, so I bailed.

I’d just say if you find yourself going to some place to “vent” because it’s a “safe place to share these things” maybe stop and step back and think about what you’re putting out into the world.

Instead of spreading that negativity to others, try to find something productive to do with that feeling instead.

This is why I left Twitter years ago, because I realized I was just taking negative things people were putting out into the world and passing them on. It didn’t matter if it was true or if I agreed, it wasn’t solving the underlying issue. It was just making everyone more unhappy by reminding them that the world was shit.

Also, that “safe place to vent”? Not really safe. Just because you know a dozen good friends in the group does not mean there aren’t hundreds watching what you say and do that you forgot were there because they stay silent.

Anyway. Those are my thoughts for the day. As soon as I figure out if Teachable will actually pay out my prior sales I’ll have the new Affinity video classes up there. They’re done, just waiting to hit the publish button at this point.