cimorene12's journal: change or die

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Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by C40 » Sun Mar 01, 2015 6:55 pm

I tell you what, I am a HUGE fan of honey. To think, I have a co-worker that has allergies so bad she has to take a pill every single day or she gets so messed up that her work performance drops dramatically within hours or missing her pill. She has recurring reminders in her work calendar to go buy more Clariton every week or two. And I'm over here, just eating a little bit of honey most days and having to remind myself that I had allergy issues before, so I don't forget to eat the honey. This is such a beautiful example of how well nature can work, and how, I'll say "living in accordance with nature" can pay off so wonderfully.

* (I know she may have a different kind of allergies, or different intensity, but it's funny... I don't think she's even tried eating honey, even after me telling her about it)

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Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by cimorene12 » Mon Mar 02, 2015 9:46 am

PM sent to borisx3

Hence my answer to the "if everybody ERE'd" question is that it would be a world where we'd have the same things (level of service) as we do now, but we wouldn't be working extremely hard to replace these items every 6 months with a slightly different form-factor anymore. IF you count by GDP, the ERE world would be substantially poorer. If, however, you count by wealth, it would be about the same. Maybe even better since less time would be wasted coming up with pointless variations of fashion. OTOH maybe time would be wasted on staring at sunsets instead.
By our Ford, Jacob, you make our world sound like Huxley's Brave New World.

I went back to look at the comic Amusing Ourselves to Death comparison of Orwell and Huxley, which I think that you originally shared the first time I took notice of it.

She's welcome to continue to use Claritin because she's not gutsy enough to try eating a bit of honey.

If I were really cautious (which I am) and skeptical of honey's properties (which I'm not), I'd take Claritin and honey side by side. I'd keep my Claritin on hand, but see what happened when I didn't take it in time for my next dose. I'd tell her, "If you aren't sure, always test."

There's a very low barrier for trying something new - honey is a commonly accepted food - but you cannot force a horse to drink.
There’s a winter weather emergency on for parts of Indiana. Only emergency vehicles are permitted on the roads.

I’m glad to be in Florida, even if Central Indiana didn’t get the worst of it.

I went to church yesterday, and I was shocked by how crowded the church was. Most old people (let’s be frank here, this is Florida) go to the 8 AM or even earlier. My family normally goes to the midday one, which is around 50% full. Today when we went, it was over capacity. The homily was about the differences in perspective. You could tell who lived in Florida year-round and who didn’t. If they did, they were wearing a sweater in 70 F weather in a building jam-packed with hundreds of people and their body heat. The people in t-shirts were from further north.

We went to the grocery store directly after. Apparently, the cost of food rises when there are so many more people here during the winter.

I knew that people snowbirded - that the roads got more crowded as the winter went on. But today was the first time that I really saw tons of people where before there were few.

Story Ideas
I used to think that story ideas were rare and precious. I was so excited when I came up with ideas for new projects. I scribbled down outlines and wrote first chapters.

Now I know that story ideas are a dime a dozen.

I encouraged someone who is an avid romance reader to write romance, since she said that she wanted to. I later revealed that I write romance (ok, this is stretching it, but sorta), and I told her that she could do it. She said, “No, it’s ok, I’ll just give you ideas and you can write about them.” (3 Jan > Career Paths > Romance Novelists)

Like startup ideas, book ideas are not that exciting. It’s about execution.

Cassandra Zara writes a lot of breeding/impregnation stories. I don’t like that kink (not my kink=NMK. Can be used to say "Not my jam" or to say that you don't write it). She coupled it with the billionaire and stepbrother kinks to come out with A Baby for My Billionaire Stepbrother. If basically anyone else had come out with that, I’d have ignored it. I was really curious, though, to see how it would play out. So Part 1 was ok, and the book soared to the Top 100 Paid for a while. Because of the success, she wrote Part 2 pretty quickly.

Part 2 knocked my socks off. I went on the kind of emotional roller coaster ride previously experienced with Elizabeth Lowell’s and JR Ward’s lengthy novels. Yes, romances are pretty predictable: boy and girl meet, fall in love, conflict, resolution, marriage (HEA) or happy for now (HFN). What sets EL apart for me is her ability to ramp up tension and talk about emotions. JR Ward is good at this too, but not at the same level. CZ is on par with Elizabeth Lowell’s early novels (her recent ones have not been as good).

My point is that the writing can elevate a so-so idea.

Kboards Comedy: $725 for a Review

Someone is asking for $725 for a review. Kinda horrifying. This is the same guy who does the iBooks Author Certification. Apple is going to hammer him some day soon. It’s normal for authors to differentiate their book versions between stores. In fact, Smashwords used to require that the book included “Smashwords edition” in the book. Many times, Amazon books say “kindle Edition.” iBooks will ban your book for saying “iBooks edition” inside. No joke.

This guy is taking innocent people’s money…and the kboards mods have made no effort to stop him. He’s clearly a scammer.

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Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by cimorene12 » Tue Mar 03, 2015 5:25 pm

Dr. Thomas Stanley Dies
It's sad that he's dead. He's the author of The Millionaire Next Door. The basic principle - that wealthy people got there because they worked hard, saved, and invested - that he espoused has always been a key point of the FI community. Republicans like to quote him in order to show that you can be self-made in America.

PV Excerpts
International Ebook Markets
Valuing ebooks has to do with attitude towards intellectual property. There are huge markets which offer pirated copies much more easily than nonpirated copies. People go down the path of least resistance; it's not like all authors have the firepower to hunt down intellectual property infringers everywhere.

Ursula K. Le Guin on Fantasy Classification
Kazuo Ishiguro talked to interviewer Alexandra Alter (NYT 20 Feb 15) about his forthcoming novel The Buried Giant, which takes place in a non-historic just-post-Arthurian England. Everybody there has lost most of their longterm memory, due to the influence of the breath of a dragon named Querig.

Ogres and other monsters roam the land, but Querig just sleeps and exhales forgetfulness, until a pair of elderly Britons with the singularly unBriton names of Beatrice and Axl arrive with the knight Gawain and a poisoned goat to watch a Saxon named Wistan kill Gawain and then slice the head off the sleeping dragon. Beatrice and Axl wander on in search of their son, who they now remember may be dead, until Beatrice falls asleep in the boat of a mysterious boatman who rows her off to a mysterious island while Axl wanders back inland.

A wild country inhabited by monsters, an old couple who must leave their home without knowing exactly why, a sense that important things have been, perhaps must be, forgotten… Such images and moods could well embody a story about the approach of old age to death, and indeed I think that is at least in part the subject of the book.

. . . .

Mr Ishiguro said to the interviewer, “Will readers follow me into this? Will they understand what I’m trying to do, or will they be prejudiced against the surface elements? Are they going to say this is fantasy?”

Well, yes, they probably will. Why not?

It appears that the author takes the word for an insult.
I'm disgusted by Ishiguro thinking that writing a fantasy book is something bad. But for the extreme time commitment (and watching WolfStache (formerly GamerGirl) try to sell her beautifully and carefully crafted fantasy novel, which by all accounts is a great book).

Author Solutions and Nook Press
The address for submissions overlaps. I had no idea where Author Solutions was, and could not care less, but for the mention today. It turns out that it's in my college town, out in the boonies near Walmart. Walmart has a habit of setting up just outside the city limits. It was nearly impossible to get to without a car (despite technically being connected to a bus route that went every 30-45 minutes) and very easy to get to with one.

DMCA Counter Notices
That's a horror story where an author's original work got taken down because of a DMCA claim filed by someone who didn't write it. I applied for copyright with the copyright office for my first few, but it's just not practical for shorts. If I wrote full length novels, though, I'd still go through the process. It's relatively simple, and it protects you from crazies.

No Punishment for Sending a DMCA Notice If You Aren't a Copyright Holder
It’s a matter of incentives, at the end of the day. If there’s no risk at all in lying and causing pain to other people, along with a very small reward, then sociopaths – like those in the copyright industry – will do so at an industrial scale, accompanied by the most Stalinesque of laughters. This is also the behavior we observe now. There must to be a risk associated with willfully lying and causing injury or damage. Today, there isn’t.
PG's note:
PG will point out that organizations like TorrentFreak aren’t usually very friendly to authors and their copyrights, but this might be an idea whose time has come.

DMCA takedown notices are made under penalty of perjury, but, at least to PG’s knowledge, punishing offenders isn’t a high priority on any U.S. Attorney’s to-do list.
I wonder if the USG would even prosecute someone across borders for sending in fraudulent DMCA notices. Probably not. So really the power is all on one side of the table and not the other. The risk that you accept to run being an author, I suppose. But I don't like it. I hate the idea of someone taking my work as their own and publishing it instead. Free I have no problem with, and in fact I have Creative Commons licenses on some of my shorts that are not on Amazon. But it's so sketchy to steal someone else's work, and though technically illegal, it's pretty easy to get away with even with the original copyright. I would pretty much cry if that happened.

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Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by cimorene12 » Wed Mar 04, 2015 5:36 pm

PV Excerpts
Neil Gaiman on Love

It reminded me of his small ghost story.
There were a couple - a man and a woman, both in their twenties at a guess, both shorter than I am and dark-haired, looking into a shop window, with their backs to me. The woman had a tattoo on her shoulderblade - writing - and because I cannot pass writing without reading it, I glanced at it. Part of the writing was covered by a strap.

But I could still read it. And I knew what the words covered by the strap were.

The tattoo was a lot like this (which is to say, the same content, and similar typeface, but probably not the same person. I'm already trying to remember if it was the left or the right shoulderblade):


I read the tattoo, read words I had written to try and exorcise my own small demons eighteen years ago, and I felt like a ghost. As if, for a moment, under the hot Sydney sun, I was only an idea of a person and not a real person at all.
I thought the reflection on love was beautiful. Doubtless you'll consider me too sentimental, but I liked it a lot. I like Neil Gaiman a lot; I think he's someone who does a good job of managing his public image.

I once taught someone to conjugate verbs in Spanish by talking about the cycle of getting together with someone. First, you talk (hablar). Then, you go out (salir). Then you break up (romper). I was thinking about how many kinds of love songs there were today. Love has always remained an inspiration for art, in all its stages.

Ebooks v. Print
I don't really care about the debate. I care about the commentary.
OTOH, PG hasn’t read a physical book all the way through since he bought his first Kindle. He hasn’t even read part of a physical book in the last couple of years.

Excel didn’t replace calculators all at once.
I found that crazy. Of course I've read a lot of books in ebook format since getting my Kindle, but I also read a lot of library books and I occasionally buy real print books. I just packed up what felt like my childhood to bring to Florida. Physical books hold memories in a way that an archived title on your Kindle does not. I would not be able to move if I physically had the 1000+ books that I have on my Kindle, but on the other hand, it was a good time to sort out which books meant something to me.

I think the framework that I used to sort my books is generalizable to other things in life. I used 3 categories, although doubtless anybody could come up with any quantity of categories: things I want to keep for sure, things I would like to keep, and things I don't want to keep (yes, maybe, and no). Only the things in category 1 made the trip with me. 2 and 3 didn't. And of course it's a tad different for books, because category 2 is going to be borrowed from libraries, but it was good for me to see things that I wanted to have and things that I didn't care about anymore. I've collected so much detritus over the course of my relatively short life. I'm not sure what we're doing with the books in categories 2 and 3, but they will be gone before we move completely out of Indiana.

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Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by cimorene12 » Thu Mar 05, 2015 12:14 pm

Neil Gaiman
Speech on Douglas Adams
“We were talking about The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which was something which resembled an iPad, long before it appeared. And I said when something like that happens, it’s going to be the death of the book. Douglas said no. Books are sharks,” Gaiman told a packed audience at the Royal Geographical Society in London.

“I must have looked baffled because he he looked very pleased with himself. And he carried on with his metaphor. Books are sharks … because sharks have been around for a very long time. There were sharks before there were dinosaurs, and the reason sharks are still in the ocean is that nothing is better at being a shark than a shark.”

Adams told Gaiman: “‘Look at a book. A book is the right size to be a book. They’re solar-powered. If you drop them, they keep on being a book. You can find your place in microseconds. Books are really good at being books and no matter what happens books will survive.’ And he was right,” said Gaiman.
And Adams, according to Gaiman, was a genius. “I haven’t known many geniuses in my life. Some brilliantly smart people, but only a tiny handful would I class as geniuses. I would class Douglas, because he saw things differently, and he was capable of communicating the way he saw things, and once he explained things the way he saw them, it was almost impossible to see them the way you used to see them.
In Adam Grant's Give and Take, he points out that people who do better in the long run given credit where it is due. I know this is the second day of me saying this, but I do love Neil Gaiman and think that his management of his public persona has been great.

Amanda Palmer's Patreon
Neil linked out to her Patreon, and it was fascinating to read. You would not think this to read the page, but the copywriting is phenomenal. Every fear and every objection is addressed. It's a fantastic sales page, done in the style of Amanda Palmer. That kind of thing takes a lot of effort, for all that it looks like she wrote it at 2 AM in 30 minutes. To make something that deliberate and well-researched look slapdash is not easy, and somehow she has contrived to do it. The page itself is a work of artistry.

There are 5 people who have pledged to pay her $1000 for every thing that she makes - a song, a music video, whatever. Right now, the support level exceeds $20k per thing that she creates. This is the kind of Patreon that gets me excited, more than MaryTales'. Amanda Palmer has an enormous amount of love from a big audience. Her lowest level is $1 a month, but few of her conversions are at that level. Her top tiers sold out almost immediately, and there's an opportunity to waitlist for them. She's done a phenomenal job of having pledge levels where people feel comfortable, unlike Holly's failed Kickstarter which required a $100 pledge to see any of the video produced. I think Amanda's Patreon experiment can now be considered a success.

She also expresses her frustration with the cycle of getting the money to do an album, then making an album, then drumming up attention for it. She doesn't want to do things every two years. She wants to send them out into the world now. That kind of impatience, as a creator, is something that I can identify with.

I also think that Amanda and Neil have been showing up in each other's art. In his talk at Google, around 6:18, he talks about how the novel started, which was out of loneliness when she went away to Australia and he was left behind.

Kboards: Abandoned
So there's some whining in there, but also some rumbles of the bigger, scarier thing. Amazon has clearly shown that it wants authors to be Amazon exclusive. What happens when you aren't? Your sales will tank, regardless of advertising, and direct selling becomes better than selling through Amazon. Going wide is a good strategy for some authors, but a bad one for others. Even people who no longer want to be in Select still keep their stuff on Amazon, though. And I'm guessing it's because it's the world's biggest bookstore. It's interesting to me that people like Liliana Hart, Hugh Howey, and Jasinda Wilder don't have all of their books up for KU after their exemptions (for having the books up on other sites) expired. They'd rather be wide than in KU. Maybe it's because their sales across all platforms are better, but I'm betting that they'd rather take a small financial hit than put their entire fates in the hands of Bezosbub.

When I was reading The Naked Truth, I thought that it was silly to have an Amazon-centric strategy. There's a story that I'm going to call "Run to the Back."*

A good friend from college grew up in a military family that spent 4 years in South Korea. She lost a lot of simple comforts, such as hot dogs. The community, though, would try to give their children normal American childhoods when possible. At Easter, there was a big egg hunt with all of the military children. All the children with their little baskets stopped at the edge of the field to pick up the first egg that they saw. Her parents called out, "RUN TO THE BACK!"** There were no children there, since all of them were already hunting at the edge of the field. They each had maybe one or two eggs. She had an overflowing basket, and she had a bunch in the bottom of her shirt, as well.

I thought that Amazon was the edge of the field, and that going wide was like running to the back.
Of course it made sense to advertise on non-Amazon sites and try to get visibility where no one else was trying, or fewer people were there to compete.

Now, I see (though this is changing) that Amazon is thought of as the #1 spot because of the high sales there. Reports from people with 8+ novel-length books that are completely wide are underwhelming, and their stuff is underperforming my measly shorts enrolled in KU. In theory, I'd like to reach as wide of an audience as possible. In practice, I get more out of going deep than going wide. Sales outside of Amazon are lackluster for me.

*This concept is not new. MMM calls it living off peak. Running to the back is just the easiest way for me to express the concept of nonconformity when it's the optimal decision.

**This became an inside joke. This has been a source of embarrassment for me for a long time, but we were once a meeting where they were serving free pizza. (This is college, okay? Everything has free food.) When they allowed us to get pizza, I said to her, "RUN TO THE BACK!" I didn't realize that the pizza was actually in the back (although in retrospect I could've deduced that information given the smell of pizza and the way that it wasn't in sight when I was facing forward), and a person near us gave me a look of pure disgust. It wasn't about piggish pizza hogging, but it came off that way.

PV Excerpt: Ereader Decline
Continuing a recent trend, e-reader sales have continued to drop from their 2012 high — to the point of affecting overall revenue at major publishing houses, according to TechCrunch. Publishing giants Penguin Random House and Simon and Schuster shed an average 8.8% of their total profit in 2014, TechCrunch reports, and e-book sales at both houses are a big part of that loss.

It’s the extension of a gradual pushback against e-readers: Whether it’s bookworms at Mashable pointing outthe future irrelevance of the platform or the Guardian declaring predictions of their death (a little) prematurely, e-books are no longer guaranteed to be the future of reading. But regardless of how close e-readers are to the grave, there’s no doubt that they’re headed the wrong direction — to the benefit of traditional hardback and paperback books.

. . . .

Though there will likely continue to be sales spurts for e-readers — especially around holiday gift-buying times, as GeekWire noted in December — this trend downward for e-books is likely to continue. As Mic noted in September, that’s great news for those who love the printed word: Print books have been shown to lead to better comprehension and health for readers.
There are a lot of skeptical comments, and I think that it's right to not really believe these people. Ereader sales might be down, but that doesn't mean that people aren't reading and buying ebooks in droves. I primarily read in Amazon's Cloud Reader. Why? Because it allows me to open a book immediately after purchase, wander through, and see if I want to actually read it. That kind of behavior and the luxury of opening up a full book without purchasing it used to be limited to physical bookstores and libraries. Now, with KU, I can leaf through a book with significantly less effort. Ebooks are not going to die, and they still have a solid foothold on the industry.

Kristine Rusch: Get-By People
So, this relates to the Gervais Principle of people we've seen before: Losers, Clueless, and Sociopaths (subdivided into true Sociopaths and Technocrats when you come down to the fine details). Kris portrays herself as a Technocrat. She's bewildered by Get-By people (Losers) who put in SAME and just stay right there.
I got a job at a textbook publishing company. I came in as the lowest of the low, an editorial assistant—in other words, a secretary with a fancy title that made me seem more important than I was.
Day one, I got trained by the woman I was replacing. Day two, I came in and did everything I had been assigned to do within 30 minutes. My boss, the wonderful Editor Greg, was startled that I finished so quickly. He double-checked me, found out I had done everything right, and gave me more to do. Still and all, I was done with my tasks by noon. With Editor Greg’s permission, I read a book all afternoon. The book was one of the company’s textbooks, but Editor Greg thought that it might be useful if I knew the product. Day Three, same thing. Day Four, the other secretaries—I mean, editorial assistants—waylaid me as I came into work. They explained in no uncertain terms that I had to make my 30 minutes of work stretch throughout the 8 hours, or I would make every other editorial assistant look bad. I was baffled. I said, “Why would I want to do that? I hate being bored. And if there’s stuff to be done, I’ll do it.” They said stuff about camaraderie and supporting your fellow employees and helping them keep their jobs, for heaven’s sake. And I shrugged and walked away. I continued to do 30 minutes of work in 30 minutes. A month or two into the job, I had read every book in the place and was getting ready to read everything in the files (I did that at a real estate job I had in college—and oh, boy, did I learn stuff) when I realized that our personal financial situation had improved. I went back to freelancing, earned a lot more money than I did in that crazy-making job, and moved on. I often talk about those secretaries in astonishment. I thought they were anomalies. Even though a good friend of mine—a very good friend of mine—spent his entire career at a government job that, he said, required him to do eight hours of work in a forty-hour week. He stretched those eight hours over five days, then added in another eight hours in those five days for good measure, and became the most productive person in his department. He kept that job even though he got sick after every trip he took to an sf convention (generally one per month). He took tons of vacation time and personal days, and he still got promoted and treated well there—because he was the most productive person in his office.
It is an accomplishment to finish your first novel. Go celebrate. Most wannabe writers never finish a novel. They may not ever finish a short story. They talk the good talk, but they don’t put in the work. When you finish your first novel, you have taken that first step toward being a professional writer. But from the perspective of career writers, people who’ve been at it for years, you’re a baby who has toddled over to your parents for the very first time. Yep, it’s an accomplishment worthy of cake and videos and applause. Now, time to emulate that toddler and learn to run. These days, most indie writers expect that first novel to be a success. I expected my first (real) novel to be a success as well. We all write because we know we’re brilliant, because the world was just waiting for our wisdom, because we have done something Mankind Has Never Seen Before. Then those of us who want careers get over ourselves and move onto the next novel, and the next, and the next, and the next. Right now, the Get-By People who wrote that first novel, gamed Amazon’s algorithms, and tried to convince everyone under the sun to buy that novel are leaving the writing business in droves. The Get-By People are complaining that “sales aren’t what they used to be.” They’re complaining that “free doesn’t work any more.” They’re wondering why no one is praising their (three-year-old) work. How come these Get-By People aren’t rich and famous?
Someone on kboards has a screenname that goes something like "DragonFodder." It's a moment from The Big Bang Theory where these guys invite Penny to go on a quest or something with them, and Sheldon warns her that she's really meant as dragon food. Get-by people are dragonfodder for Amazon. There is significant overlap between them an princess authors.

And I'm guilty of believing that my writing was so good that it would sell itself. I thought that I was writing right where I needed to be, but I was wrong. It's not about where I need to be. It's about where the paying readers are if you want to take a crack at this.

I did disagree with one section.
Why do I call writing one novel a minimal amount of work? Because I’m mean or a show-off or a hack or freakishly productive? No, because I know writers who have long-term careers. Most of us never talk about our productivity. Most of us never talk about how many hours we spend at the computer. As Dean often says, we are successful because we work harder than everyone else. There are people who genuinely work hard, who have launched 100 books, and have never seen any traction for them. Their writing is ok, but they have not mastered the fine art of blurbs and covers. That's part of the journey.

Other writers often talk about productivity, mostly to moan about procrastinating. ;) The best of us can do things like publish 100k words per month, which is 2 full-length novels. I'm not at that level. At the start, I believed that I could write novels. I write quickly. But if that were true, I'd have many, many novel-length works by now. Writing publishable material is something that you have to work on. Definitely near the beginning I'd write maybe 5 words to every 1 published word. And by writing shorts, you learn about yourself as a writer, and you learn about stories. If you make tons and tons of lopsided pots, then you'll eventually be able to throw real, high quality pots. I'm venturing back into longer work again (I've already talked about novella-length things in my journal), with some lessons learned.

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Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by DSKla » Thu Mar 05, 2015 12:22 pm

Been lurkreading for a while, but just wanted to say I always enjoy your journal updates, cimorene. I'm also waffling between reading formats. I grew up on, and love, physical books. I love the feel, the fact they don't run out of batteries, and can often be had for free (library, trading) or cheap (used sales). On the other hand, I find that I tend to read 4-6 different books at a time, picking up whichever I'm in the mood for at that moment. I actually read faster that way, and I never feel like I'm slogging through something.

For that reason, the e-reader had been a god-send. I can have (almost) all of them at hand in one thin, light contraption, and choose which one I read at the moment (note that I usually read on the bus or at work instead of doing work). So I'm really split, and see advantages to both. My eyes and my sense of nostalgia prefer paper. E-readers win on mobility and optionality. They allow me to have a sort of Umberto Eco's library, as described in Black Swan. The important thing about his 30,000 books isn't how many he's read, but how many he hasn't. Most of the books are there "just in case."

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Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by cimorene12 » Fri Mar 06, 2015 8:59 am

DSKla wrote:Been lurkreading for a while, but just wanted to say I always enjoy your journal updates, cimorene. I'm also waffling between reading formats. I grew up on, and love, physical books. I love the feel, the fact they don't run out of batteries, and can often be had for free (library, trading) or cheap (used sales). On the other hand, I find that I tend to read 4-6 different books at a time, picking up whichever I'm in the mood for at that moment. I actually read faster that way, and I never feel like I'm slogging through something.

For that reason, the e-reader had been a god-send. I can have (almost) all of them at hand in one thin, light contraption, and choose which one I read at the moment (note that I usually read on the bus or at work instead of doing work). So I'm really split, and see advantages to both. My eyes and my sense of nostalgia prefer paper. E-readers win on mobility and optionality. They allow me to have a sort of Umberto Eco's library, as described in Black Swan. The important thing about his 30,000 books isn't how many he's read, but how many he hasn't. Most of the books are there "just in case."
Thanks, DSKla! I'm so glad that you enjoy my journal.

Yeah, I really think that ereaders give you the ability to have absurdly large libraries that pre-ebook were not possible. Umberto Eco's antilibrary is something that I consider a physical manifestation of the Dunning-Kruger effect. The more you know, the more that you know that you don't know.

I also would be very poor if I bought every book that I wanted or even read. That's why I'm happy enough using the public library and Kindle Unlimited.
PV Excerpt: Racy Page Turners

I don’t think that writing novels of any kind is undignified. Writing a racy page turner will not guarantee sales, but it has a better shot of getting an audience than the average novel.

Nonemployed Americans and Time

That’s a lot of TV and movie time. I scoffed at it, and then I realized that after going to Denver, I’ve been pulling on a lot of movies and watching more TV. To be fair to myself, I generally use them as background noise when I’m working and don’t want absolute silence. Music doesn’t work the same way for me. There’s a lot more suspense in the TV that I play in the background. I gave up my previous vice for Lent.

Wharton Waives Application Fee

I’ve started receiving Dealbreaker, which is a Wall Street email newsletter. It sneers at applying to Wharton by placing as one of the top 50 students (out of a cast of thousands) every year in the Wharton Business Foundations sequence on Coursera. I’ve thought about taking it, but I think that they’re basically taking money from people who like to hope. That’s not guaranteed admission at all. They just let you pay $595 to save $265. No matter how you slice it, you’re not coming out ahead.

K Matthew has gone deep
KM is pretty much the only huge erotica author left on kboards. The last one standing. KM just put the vast majority of KM's books in KU. I immediately went on a borrow spree. There were things of KM's that I wanted to read but hadn't because they were outside of KU. And if I'm being honest, I want the first 3 days to be phenomenal so that KM finishes out the KU experiment. ... _ttl_sol_0
That one was funny and a fast read.

I think it was unwise to pull the permafrees from the other platforms - they can be used to funnel sales towards the things on Amazon, if you're willing to handle the logistics of manually sending out epubs to readers. Viola Rivard does that. She has the first in her serials for free in other places, and then she points you towards where you can find the rest. You have to send her your Amazon receipt in order to get an epub.

Becca Mills' Nolander
Amazon put Nolander back up. In a massive show of author solidarity, people have been downloading free copies like crazy.

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Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by DSKla » Fri Mar 06, 2015 10:37 am

D-K effect makes a ton of sense, and explains in a simple way something I've felt but couldn't articulate, much the same as when I first heard the Wheaton Scale put into words, and all the debates I never had a chance to win came flooding back to me.

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Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by jacob » Fri Mar 06, 2015 8:26 pm

"No nothing" ... okay, that was funny!!! :-D

I understand (perhaps wrongly) that Eco focuses a lot on medieval books which aren't on kindle (go figure---this, btw, would be my main argument as to why kindle is the biggest liability in library/knowledge history---even the best kindle books probably aren't gonna be around 100 years from now, whereas the best (for the 22nd cent) are). However, if the anti-lib is just a simple acknowledgement of "the amount that you know you don't know", I don't see the need to actually physically collect those books. what about just making a list ... or even better, an understanding of how the vast amount of "what you don't know"-subject matter affects you adversely.

BTW, it's incredibly sad how much knowledge has been lost throughout tens of thousands of years of human history. For example, very little music remains from the Roman Empire. How much humans had had to reinvent over and over and over ...

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Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by cimorene12 » Sat Mar 07, 2015 9:05 am

DSKla wrote:D-K effect makes a ton of sense, and explains in a simple way something I've felt but couldn't articulate, much the same as when I first heard the Wheaton Scale put into words, and all the debates I never had a chance to win came flooding back to me.
I felt the exact same way when I first heard about the Wheaton Scale. D-K effect, along with Carol Dweck's work on hard work vs. "giftedness," pop up on reddit incessantly. They both explain so much.
jacob wrote:"No nothing" ... okay, that was funny!!! :-D

I understand (perhaps wrongly) that Eco focuses a lot on medieval books which aren't on kindle (go figure---this, btw, would be my main argument as to why kindle is the biggest liability in library/knowledge history---even the best kindle books probably aren't gonna be around 100 years from now, whereas the best (for the 22nd cent) are). However, if the anti-lib is just a simple acknowledgement of "the amount that you know you don't know", I don't see the need to actually physically collect those books. what about just making a list ... or even better, an understanding of how the vast amount of "what you don't know"-subject matter affects you adversely.

BTW, it's incredibly sad how much knowledge has been lost throughout tens of thousands of years of human history. For example, very little music remains from the Roman Empire. How much humans had had to reinvent over and over and over ...
Yes, I did love that. It's why I chose this version of the D-K graph. :D

Umberto Eco is famous for being a book omnivore.
David Lodge, however, said that Eco was the first author to truly grasp the concept of postmodernism and manages to "[make] difficult material accessible through playfulness or splicing together popular and high culture." Indeed, Eco is one of the few authors to openly pull from both high and low culture. From his columns in L'Espresso to his novels and children's stories, his works often contain allusions to popular culture, in addition to scholarly texts.

That ability to blend sources from both ends of the spectrum invariable grew from Eco's childhood. During World War II, it was always young Eco's job to fetch coal from the cellar. As he descended underground, he also descended into a treasure trove of books. His grandmother, an inveterate and indiscriminate reader, had books by classic authors like Balzac, Dickens, and Darwin alongside dime novels and comic books. Eco consumed them all.
From ... -Collector

Apparently, 30k is only one part of his library. In his palazzo, he has 20k more.
Though he has a paunch and unexpectedly small, geisha-like feet, Eco has an energetic stride - as I discover when he leads the way along a winding corridor and I try to keep up with him. We pass through a labyrinthine library containing 30,000 books - he has a further 20,000 at his 17th-century palazzo near Urbino - and into a drawing-room full of curiosities: a glass cabinet containing seashells, rare comics and illustrated children's books, a classical sculpture of a nude man with his arms missing, a jar containing a pair of dog's testicles, a lute, a banjo, a collection of recorders, and a collage of paintbrushes by his friend the Pop artist Arman.
From ... mpion.html

I'm not surprised that you can easily think of a more cost effective way to accumulate the knowledge you don't know than buying 50k+ books, some of them extremely costly medieval literature. I happen to have a fairly large list, and I'm sure that it'll grow even larger over time. I find books that I want to read faster than I can read them, which I think is pretty common.

As far as loss of knowledge goes - it's probably not as sad as you think it is. Some of the knowledge has been disproven and is wrong. I might be interested in learning about Roman music, but I have been exposed to very old music from the three-digit ADs, and it's pretty underwhelming. That's not to say that I don't like it. It's just that it's a style of music that was created in a world where you had one singer and one [lyre, harp, lute, etc.]. Heck, a lot of the time there was only the singer or only the lute. It's not like it's the last of the "real music" and people would rush to hear it if only they knew what history held for them. There's very little interest in it. My university had the second-largest music school in the world, one that surpasses Juilliard, and no one came to the performances of thing which predated 1900, because almost nobody cares. I know, because I went to them, and I sat there like a love-struck fawn in the audience of less than 20 people in a college campus of 40k+ people with copious amounts of time on their hands. These were free performances by people who were good enough to get their PhDs and had previous careers as professional performers outside of the university.

tl;dr Very few people care about very old music.
Humorous Bits
Harper Lee
I don't have very much to say about it. The crotchety response to a reporter just made me laugh.

Dreams of Writing in NYC
By signing this contract, Renter agrees to inhabit 5 GROVE ST., BROOKLYN, N.Y., for twelve months of increasing disillusionment with lifelong dream of being a writer in the city. Contract also extends to the following conditions, which Renter acknowledges do not comply with life as imagined.
I wonder how many people move to New York believing that their book will totally wow the publishers there. Probably lots. Princess authors are of course in self-pub and trad.

Pub Industry Veteran Shatzkin Realizes Why Self-Pub Works
I also had an exchange last week with Hugh Howey, my friend the incredibly successful indie author with whom I generally agree on very little concerning big publishers and their value to authors. But Hugh made a point that is absolutely fundamental, one which I learned and absorbed so long ago that I haven’t dusted it off for the modern era. And it is profoundly important.

Hugh says there are new authors he’s encountering every day who are achieving success after publishers failed with them. It is when he described the sales curve of the successful indie — “steadily growing sales” — that a penny dropped for me. An old penny.

We recognize in our business that “word of mouth” is the most effective means of growing the market for a book. If that were the way things really worked, books would tend to have a sales curve that was a relatively gentle upward slope to a peak and then a relatively gentle downward slope.

Of course, very few books have ever had that sales curve. Nothing about the way big publishers routinely market and sell would enable it to happen. Everything publishers do tries to impose a different sales curve on their books.

A gentle upward slope followed by a gentle downward slope would, in the physical world, require a broad and very shallow distribution with rapid replenishment where the first copy or two put at an outlet had sold. But widespread coordination of rapid replenishment of this kind for books selling at low volumes at any particular outlet (let alone most outlets) is, for the most part, a practical impossibility in the world of distributed retail.

In fact, distributed retail demands a completely out-of-synch sales curve. It wants a big sale the first week a book is out to give it the best chance of making the bestseller list and, even failing that, the best chance of being worthy of continuing attention by a publisher’s sales staff, and therefore, the marketing team. Books in retail distribution are seen as failures if they don’t catch on pretty quickly, if not in days or weeks, certainly within a couple of months. And if a store sells two copies, say, of a new book in the first three months, it probably doesn’t make the cut as a book to be retained. If they bought two, they’re glad they’re gone and not likely to re-order without some push by the publisher or attention-grabbing other circumstance. If they bought ten, they’ll want to get their dollars back by making returns so they can invest in the next potentially big thing.

But that’s not the case online, where there is no need for distributed inventory (especially of ebooks!) If the first copies sold lead to word of mouth recommendations, the book will still be available to the online shopper. And there will be nothing in the way it is presented — it won’t have a torn cover hidden and be hidden in the back of the store, say — to indicate it isn’t successful. People can buy it and the chain can continue, building over time. Three months later, six months later, it really doesn’t matter; the book can keep selling. And, by the way, this will be true at any online retailer with an open account at Ingram (including for print-on-demand books), not just at Amazon.

But, in the brick and mortar world, the book will effectively be dead if it doesn’t catch on in the first three months. And the reality of staffing, focus, and the sales philosophy of most publishers means it won’t be getting any attention from the house’s digital marketers either.

If you live in the world of indie success like Hugh Howey does, you are repeatedly seeing authors breaking through months after a book’s publication, at a time when an experienced author knows a house would have given up on them.
Rest at: ... -the-past/

There's a reason why someone writing this in 2015 is filed under "Humorous Bits."

I finally got a look at Bookbub's advertising rates. And they still have people knocking on their door. So much so that they turn away most comers.

A quick glance at their pricing and historical results reveals that there's one price point that makes sense for a Bookbub ad: $2.99. They require a 50% sale just as a BMR, so you're looking at a minimum $5.99 normal list price. If you write contemporary romance (as so many do), and you price at $0.99 for your promotion, you'll take home $0.35 (no wiring fee, as that mucks things up). The average number of units sold is 2,870, meaning that you'll make $1,004.50. That leaves you $334.50, meaning that they've made more off your book than you have, and you haven't paid your taxes or wiring fees yet. Since Bookbub only accepts 150-page novels and up, you probably also probably paid for an editor and cover designer (possibly formatter).

Bookbub also only accepts people with a substantial amount of positive reviews (4 stars and up on average). It really is a mechanism for the Matthew effect, since getting a large number of positive reviews is very hard, even if you're a midlister with solid sales. People on kboards report that Bookbub did wonders for their entire catalogue when they were accepted for just one book. That's fantastic for them. However, that's near the end of the journey to get there. People look at post-Bookbub performance and think, "Dang, I should really get on that train." They submit their novel that reviewers have enjoyed, and they get shot down. There are multiple layers to getting to Bookbub-worthy level, and it takes so much effort that by the time you are worthy of their stamp, you probably don't need their promotional juice. You've already marketed your heart out elsewhere and, assuming that your content is good, gotten solid results out of it.

KM's Results
KM might get cold feet and pull out of the experiment while KM can, but I'm still so stoked that KM even tried.

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Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by cimorene12 » Sun Mar 08, 2015 9:25 am

Catastrous Disastrophe
I am having a hard time finding the origin of that phrase, but it pops up elsewhere on the net, so I know that I didn’t make it up.

I sent an email to one of my favorite self-pub romance authors, just poking my head in and saying my two cents. She offered to hire me for editing. Considering that I would edit for her for free, I was quick to accept.

Mistake 1
Too quick. I undercharged by a lot. Perception of value is important, but I looked around at what other people were charging.

“I don’t have an MA and BA in English,” I thought. “I better price at the same level or below.” That was not the right thought process. What I should’ve done was scoped out what the author’s expectations were, which I did AFTER quoting her a price for editing.

On the basis of getting hired for this job, I began dreaming of creating an amazing author services company. “I can format, and most of my work experience is in editing and QA. Surely I can handle the little things, right?” I’m going to charge triple that price in the future for anyone else, although if you keep reading, you’ll find out why I am now extremely reluctant to edit for anybody.

Mistake 2
I thought, “Hm, I should underpromise and overdeliver. This is the path to delighting your customers, which is very important as a freelancer. Important to people running the rat race, yes, but doubly important when you’re just a buoy floating alone in the sea.” So instead of just sending an edited file, I also formatted it. “This first one’s free,” I said, “and you can hire me next time if you like it.”

Four minutes later, I had an email saying “I LOVE IT! WOO! YAY!” Ok, not really. But that was the gist. I was smug. “I’m the best editor and formatter in the world!”

“How is this mistake #2?” you’re thinking. Just wait.

Four minutes after that, I got another email. The file doesn’t actually work.

“How can this be? I use this exact same method to do my own work!” So I went and hunted down an answer on the Internet, like the Millennial I am, and I saw that I had made a mistake in believing that the formatting software did something that it did not do. I panic. I fix it so that the formatting works. I send it.

Half an hour later, I get back the edited Word doc that I sent over, now with the author’s edits. “Try again.” I try again. I send back a file, with every part of it ruthlessly checked a dozen times. By all the stars above, I will not fail her this time.

Mistake 3
Except I do.

I’m so caught up in making sure that the file is immaculate that I make the gigantic mistake of sending her an email FROM ANOTHER EMAIL ACCOUNT. Let me be clear here - she is getting an email from an absolute stranger with her entire book in it. I would be alarmed if I were in her shoes. Hell, I’m alarmed, and I’m the one who sent it.

This is a place where I always feel better because of Ramit Sethi.
Most of us claim we want to take risks. But if you really did, you would naturally fail as part of the process. So — when was the last time you failed? A week ago? A month ago? Longer? In Gmail, I have a “Failures” tag, and if I’m not failing at least 4x/month, I know I’m not trying enough new things.
Only NOW, after 10+ years of writing every single week, people hear I live in apartments in NYC and SF and they see me email ridiculous stories to a list of hundreds of thousands of people and fly across the country for last-minute ski trips, they say, “Wow. Running your own business. That must be nice.”
I didn’t do all this without failing. I did it because I knew failing was a natural part of growing.
I tried something new. I fantasized about replacing my day job income with freelance editing and formatting work. I got slapped in the face with reality, which was that I massively underperformed at the first test out of the gate.

You only get better by failing, picking yourself up, and going again. She might hire me to do editing again, but frankly, after the charlie foxtrot that was an insult to every Charlie and foxtrot, I wouldn’t hire me to do editing and formatting again. My time is better spent actually writing. I only accepted the job because I love her work. Heaven forbid that I format and edit for someone who is not beloved. It would probably turn out 10x worse.

I owe formatting to someone else as part of a barter. I can only hope that I triple-check like I should’ve this time around. I may have scraped my knees, but I felt better after licking my wounds for a little bit. I try to be as honest with myself as possible — self deception leads down a very dangerous path — but I also feel like I have an expectation of myself to be perfect out of the gate every time. I believe that’s unrealistic.

This is a sidenote from that debacle. I got paid via Paypal. I've noticed how, as an entrepreneur and pseudonymous author, Paypal is necessary for a lot of the transactions I do. I use it to pay other people for services, and I'm obviously paid in turn for it. Instead of withdrawing the money I was paid, like a normal person, I'm just keeping it in Paypal for now. It's fun to use your Paypal balance, and you don't lock up your money for 3-4 days like you do when you put it in your bank account. You also don't have to have your real name on your invoices, although Paypal requires that you give them it to have a business account. So, it's totally legal, but you don't have to out your real name on Paypal to random strangers on the Internet, some of whom aren't located in the United States.

PV Excerpt: DMCA Takedown in Court
Most of the $25k award went to the lawyers, since the DMCA abuser has to pay the legal fees, but it was a great thing. Not all of us are capable of standing against DMCA abusers, but I would not be surprised if some of us banded together to help one another in DMCA abuse cases like this. Becca Mills' problem with Nolander was high profile, at least in our own community of maybe thousands of writers. Thousands of writers are capable of crowdfunding legal fees, with the idea that after a judgment in our favor, it'd go into a legal fund to try again. DMCA abusers hurt all of us, and it's in our collective interest to fight them.

It's silly, because I imagine that Authors' Guild is meant to be something like this. Instead, it's focused on upholding the dying trad industry. I wouldn't be surprised if Joe Konrath, Barry Eisler, Hugh Howey, etc. pulled together self-pub support for authors who get served with illegitimate DMCA notices. I imagine that they would only fund cut-and-dry cases, though.

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Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by DSKla » Sun Mar 08, 2015 10:46 pm

jacob wrote:"No nothing" ... okay, that was funny!!! :-D

I understand (perhaps wrongly) that Eco focuses a lot on medieval books which aren't on kindle (go figure---this, btw, would be my main argument as to why kindle is the biggest liability in library/knowledge history---even the best kindle books probably aren't gonna be around 100 years from now, whereas the best (for the 22nd cent) are). However, if the anti-lib is just a simple acknowledgement of "the amount that you know you don't know", I don't see the need to actually physically collect those books. what about just making a list ... or even better, an understanding of how the vast amount of "what you don't know"-subject matter affects you adversely.

BTW, it's incredibly sad how much knowledge has been lost throughout tens of thousands of years of human history. For example, very little music remains from the Roman Empire. How much humans had had to reinvent over and over and over ...
I definitely employ the list method for reasons of space and money. The value of having them onhand might be that you don't know when you will need/want to know something, and when the moment strikes, you can reference it immediately, instead of waiting for a book to make it back to the library, or a delivery to arrive from amazon. I imagine it's less important to have them onhand if the books you wants are easy to get, though. When you know you may eventually want to read something that's out of print, it's probably a good idea to acquire it when the opportunity presents itself. In Eco's case, that's especially important because a lot of his books are extremely rare and may only become available once or twice in a lifetime. For us mortals, acknowledging the metaphor and making a list is probably just as good.

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Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by cimorene12 » Mon Mar 09, 2015 9:53 pm

PV Excerpt: Embroidered Potholders
I loved that idea. I actually just read a serial with a painter protagonist which explores this idea. Her artistic awakening is happening alongside a lot of emotional development.

Book Startup UX
User Experience, in my opinion, is one of the top factors that will ultimately dictate any success or failure in this industry. Be it a marketplace, an online writing tool, or a distribution channel–and be it aimed at publishers, authors or other industry professionals–emerging tech needs to feel intuitive to its users.

One of the most impactful examples of UX taking the day is Smashwords, the startup founded by Mark Coker in 2008. “The rise of Smashwords is the story of the rise of self-publishing,” Coker wrote in August last year.

Smashwords basically allows authors to convert their manuscripts to the right electronic formats, then distributes them across all major e-retailers, aggregating the right metadata so authors only have to enter it once. Though some competitors offer more features and flexibility, Smashwords’ superior UX condemns these competitors to a narrower segment of the market.
I almost choked when I laughed at that. The competitors have to be pretty terrible in order to be worse than Smashwords' UX. D2D is superior both in customer service and in their interface. In side news, I signed up for iTunes Connect recently. I'm mulling over signing up for Nook/PubIt/whatever.

Schizophrenia and Creativity
Zabelina and her team found when they considered sensory gating with real-world creative achievement, participants with high creative achievements didn’t inhibit or gate as much of the sounds in comparison to participants with fewer achievements; they had “leaky” sensory gating. Put it another way: the more creative achievements a participant had, the less they were able to filter distraction.
That said, separate research suggests leaky sensory gating may be a risk factor for attention disorders and psychopathology, specifically schizophrenia. Zabelina and her team need to do more research before they can determine sensory gating is a stable trait — or if creative achievers can modulate their sensory processing depending on task demands.
It reminded me of this study from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden:
Writers had a higher risk of anxiety and bipolar disorders, schizophrenia, unipolar depression, and substance abuse, the Swedish researchers at the Karolinska Institute found.

They were almost twice as likely as the general population to kill themselves.

The dancers and photographers were also more likely to have bipolar disorder.

It is important that we do not romanticise people with mental health problems, who are too often portrayed as struggling creative geniuses”

As a group, those in the creative professions were no more likely to suffer from psychiatric disorders than other people.
Another study was showing how schizophrenia and bipolar disorder run in families. While not all writers suffer from mental illness, quite a few had relatives who did.

I talked about Orwell's comment on what drives writers before. (21 Feb > Tortured Artists)

K Matthews 54 Thread
The thread, of course, predates her 100 title thread, which is insane success. 54 titles seems more attainable, and I actually find it more encouraging. It's a bit silly and irrational, because of course the 54 title results are in the 100 title thread. Nonetheless, I liked reading her thoughts from 2012, when she had much more modest success. Hugh Howey says that its steady midlist authors, not crazy lightning-struck successes like him, who are the real story of why self-publishing is so great. K Matthews passed the 5-figure/month mark, and that's more intimidating than seeing $1k/month trickle in because of steady releases, none of which rose above 16k in sales rank. Publishing 11 or 12 shorts in a month (for multiple months!) is no joke, especially since KM likes to make each one 7k or up.

As an author, we're supposed to not make our monthly goals "I will make $X next month." It's all about what's inside of our control, not what's outside. We do not control readers. We control the quality and quantity of our work, which we hope will attract readers. I'm learning small lessons about advertising right now. I know that it's possible to sink a whole lot of time and energy in marketing, but I am taking baby steps. I would like to see very small, modest success before I really believe that promotion makes such a huge difference.

What I'm seeing -- from a couple different promo sites -- is that there are always people ready to promote your permafree first in a series. I poked around the iBooks Store (which is better than the last time I checked), and there was a whole horizontal band called "Free Series Starters". Rosalind James popped to the front for me. Now, I don't know if that's because I already got her #1 book, but it was nice to see anyway. I didn't see many people at the $0.99 price point, which I think is currently more popular on Amazon than elsewhere. The shortest pieces I saw in the top 100 in romance were about 10k minimum, and most of them were full-length novels. Serials don't kill it in the iBooks Store like they do on Amazon. However, series do. If you give people a full-length novel for free, they'll keep going in your series. Someone was reporting a 30% click-through rate on her second novel, which is fantastic conversion (at least to me). It is very, very painful to do that unless you have so many novels that giving one away is trivial, though. When I think about the sweat that goes into just one novel (a length I still cannot write), and then I think of not earning a cent off of it directly -- it hurts my mercenary little heart. That's probably why all the promo sites are happy to accept permafrees; only authors who are very prolific can afford to take the hit.

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Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by cimorene12 » Thu Mar 12, 2015 9:48 am

PV Excerpts
Amazon as a Gatekeeper
Readers today want ‘access’ to the authors they follow and enjoy. Authors are encouraged, quite rightly, to have a relationship with those buying their books – but, if you sell your books through Amazon, who are these people? Yes, you can see how many books you’ve sold at the end of the month, and any sales spikes, via Nielsen book data, if you’ve successfully scooped some PR, for example, but what’s your demographic? How do you know if those ten books sales that day were from one new reader taking a chance on your whole back catalogue, or ten separate customers buying a cross-section of your books?

The truth is, you don’t know. And that’s where Amazon IS a gate-keeper – the wall between you and your readers. They keep your readers’ email addresses and details of their buying habits – both of which are crucial, and vital information you could use to bolster your writing career and your longevity as an author.
It would creep me out as a reader to have an author know all of my buying preferences. That would not be ok. I agree with Amazon's current practice of not giving me that information as an author.

There are things that use that data, like keywords and alsobot/viewed. I'm content to see that as an end-user without seeing the private customer data that goes into stuff like that.

Writer's Room in Boston
Up on the fifth floor of a drab building nestled between a Dunkin’ Donuts and a 7-Eleven store on State Street in the Financial District is an office unlike any other. At any time of the day or night on most days of the year, a writer or 10 might be inside working on a magnum opus or a minor work, tucked away among the mid-rises, government buildings, low-rent stores, and Freedom Trail hot spots that crowd the neighborhood.

They gather at the Writers’ Room of Boston, the only place in the city expressly designed to give writers an affordable, quiet, secure place to work. For nearly 30 years local scribes have been able to rent 24-hour access to the room and stave off the crushing loneliness and worldly distractions that often accompany writing at home. Most of them show up from 9 to 5.
Coworking spaces offer the same thing - that you can be around people instead of being a hermit tucked away in your house, being depressed by lack of human interaction. I think that major difference is that it's for writers, so there's an emphasis on being quiet. As someone who has listened to hours of other people's phone calls in the last coworking space, I approve of having a quiet place to work. My apartment in Madison is directly under a herd of elephants who enjoy playing the recorder at night and blasting Kelly Clarkson first thing in the morning.

I realize now how distracted I am when I'm in Madison. I do the dishes. I grocery shop during the work week, which is normally less crowded than the weekends. I also cook for both of us. I do my laundry during the week, when she's not using the machines. I'm responsible for vacuuming. I take out the trash and recycling.

That's why being in Florida has been such a blessing, writing-wise. I've been setting my recent, soon-to-be-released works nearby, on an island that I love visiting. I still do dishes and laundry, but basically everything else is done for me or I'm along for the ride [groceries, cooking, trash]. We have a Roomba.

I'm leaving Florida later this month, but I'll be coming back possibly in May. My rhythm of life here is so tranquil. I go to the beach about every other day at sunset.

Amanda Palmer's Patreon
She had a webcast for all of her backers, and more than 600 people showed up at a time that was still during the normal workday for half of the US. Some people went home from work early, while others just attended from work. She intended for it to be 60 minutes long, and it started 20 minutes late.

It was not 60 minutes long. It actually went for 1h40, but it was because it was hard to fit everything into one hour.

I did not start this journey as a real fan of Amanda Palmer. I'm aware of her, because she's a big part of Neil Gaiman's life. She's very artsy, and all of that's on the surface.

Of course, I looked at the page that she directed me to on her Patreon page. I heard little snatches of her work where she sang about stealing lawn ornaments in her misspent youth. It wasn't really my cup of tea, but I don't have to like a Picasso in order to value it.

The very first full song I ever heard from her was Bigger on the Inside, which is about a time in her life when everyone hated her poem about the Boston Marathon bombing. She had to cancel a tour and drive her friend to chemo every week to watch him die slowly. If writing requires blood flowing into the typewriter, that song is like the crime scene of a violent double homicide. The part about the French kid makes me cry, every time, even though I know it's coming.

She performed it live on the webcast with a secret guest, a cellist, whom I'll talk about in a little while. She also came up with a secret salute for her Patreon backers, and she spontaneously made up a tiny song from the comments. She had her friend Jack (not the alcoholic beverage kind of Jack), part of Pomplamoose and a Patreon co-founder, and it was fun.

And Neil Gaiman walked in around when the webcast was supposed to end.

He talked quietly about some of his own struggles, between commercialism and art, and it was wonderful. He talked about the idea that books used to be done for 500 or so subscribers, and their names would be in the back of the book. I'm a huge, huge fan of Neil Gaiman, have been for years, and I think that his style is very different from Amanda. She wears everything on the surface, but he's more lovable for just being restrained about everything. It may be the British part of him. I don't know.

It was also nice to see them be husband and wife (not in any kind of dirty way). Neil had just flown back in from Oklahoma, and they did little couple things during the webcast (Amanda to Neil: "There's food in the kitchen, if you want to eat."). It was just a fun, intimate webcast with spontaneous breaking into song and interaction with the audience. How hodgepodge it was made me realize that Ramit Sethi puts a lot of effort into his webcasts. You can say a lot about Amanda Palmer, but she's a very seasoned performer and entertainer with a very sui generis style. With another performer, her tactics wouldn't work. They only work because she's Amanda Palmer.

Cellist Unwoman
She's a very lovely and talented cellist who also has a Patreon. She charges $1 per song, which of course was irresistible to me. I loved that Amanda sent traffic her way. I backed her, too.

After spending 1h40 with her and all of her fans, I was charged up and inspired musically. A lot of what she's saying about creativity and art can be applied to a lot more than just music, but I wished that I had a piano in Florida yesterday.

I'm working on a lot of stuff right now.

DMCA fraud
All of us are shaking in our boots after the Becca Mills DMCA scare. It's trivially easy to send a DMCA notice to Amazon, and they will take down your original book, even when you show them your copyright registered in the US. The original DMCA notice is sent under penalty of perjury, but almost nobody is prosecuting those cases. You could theoretically send DMCA notices for every Amazon book and get all of them taken down. We're scared that this is the natural next step for the one-star brigade.

WriteOn Opens
They've launched out of beta. I poked around WriteOn when I first signed up, but it didn't keep me engaged. The writing quality - and that was then - was so poor that it wasn't like having fun reading books. Analogy time: it reminded me of my Latin teacher (one of them, at least).

My Latin teacher was young. He had a Classics degree, which will, generally speaking, get you a whole lot of nothing. His claim to fame was a bout on Jeopardy. He'd floated around with his Classics degree. One of his jobs was video game tester. That sounds like the best job in the world, except he told us about the reality. "Before games are good, they are bad. And that's when I would see them. And I'd have to play bad games all day."

That's what WriteOn is like. I love drinking up tons and tons of KU books with varying writing ability levels. WriteOn is full of people who have not yet published. Ever. And the whole point is to get feedback and improve, which is great, but I'm unlikely to want to play bad video games all day and give constructive feedback. It's not a fun leisure activity for me.
Last edited by cimorene12 on Wed Apr 01, 2015 10:59 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by Spartan_Warrior » Thu Mar 12, 2015 10:41 am

RE: Amazon as Gatekeeper

I definitely agree that there's no reason for individual sellers on Amazon to have my customer data (indeed, the fact that they don't is one of the benefits of using Amazon), but I feel like there are a lot of other, less invasive data points Amazon could share, but chooses not to. I get the feeling this lack of transparency is to their benefit.

For instance, I heard recently that Amazon used to show the number of visits on each product page. Which, of course, would be stupendously useful. If Book A isn't selling despite that Book A's page is getting a million hits per day, the author knows that visibility/discoverability is not the issue (and can instead work on covers, blurbs, Look Inside previews, etc). If Book B sells poorly compared to others, and also has lower page views, the author would know the book simply isn't being seen and can throw advertising money at it.

So why would Amazon remove such a feature? Because then the author would know Book A has plenty of visibility and would feel no incentive to throw advertising money at the problem. IMO, Amazon LOVES the advertising. The entire Kindle/ebook thing is pretty much a loss leader to bring customers to Amazon to buy other things. Amazon wants authors to spend $700 for BookBub to send a few thousand hits to their store. If withholding some data makes desperate authors more likely to throw ad money at the problem, it's a win for Amazon.

This may seem overly cynical, but honestly, why else wouldn't they share it, especially if they already were in the past?

Same way people complain about Amazon's refusal to acknowledge "free" as valid pricing without a bunch of convoluted hoop-jumping to "price match". Why would Amazon encourage the perma-free price model when the 5 free days and "free" KU borrows are the primary draws of going exclusive with Amazon?

Amazon isn't stupid. If the "fog of war" didn't benefit them, they'd release more data to authors in a heartbeat, IMO.

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Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by leeholsen » Thu Mar 12, 2015 1:41 pm

cimorene12 wrote:
Someone is asking for $725 for a review. Kinda horrifying. This is the same guy who does the iBooks Author Certification. Apple is going to hammer him some day soon.

Judas, that's unbelievable. The book industry is only trumped by the movie industry by how tough it is to break thru(Seems for any role of note in a movie, it's usually the same few hundred people chosen and LA probably has a million trying to make it to the big screen.)

I skim your journal being a published author, it's always interesting to get more insight on book publishing and marketing; even though I gave up writing books(learned the hard way that a nobody has essentially no chance, my second book now sits finished on the shelf and will likely only have been read by my parents).

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Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by cimorene12 » Sat Mar 14, 2015 9:22 pm

@lee and @Spartan
Thanks for your input, guys, but I'd like to keep my youthful enthusiasm about self-publishing. ;)

Terry Pratchett Dies
“Dad was like a druid: he taught me how to build watermills in the stream, the names of plants and flowers, and what was edible in nature. It was like growing up in Middle Earth and having a full‑sized hobbit for a father.”
The latest Discworld book, Raising Steam, was lackluster. It read like it was written by another person. I love Terry Pratchett's books, though; he's such a fantastic satirist.
Annoying Life Achievements
Annoyed sources confirmed this week that married and pregnant local woman Ashley Canfield will not stop achieving significant life milestones, unanimously agreeing that the 30-year-old law school graduate seriously needs to just cool it with the achievements.

Saying they were tired of hearing about her steadily progressing life via occasional e-mail, telephone, or face-to-face interactions, Canfield’s peers told reporters that the woman should just do everyone a huge favor and dial back her professional, social, educational, and familial accomplishments for the indefinite future.
It's funny, but it's also true. It's human nature to get annoyed as we see people pass us. That's why most people prefer to keep up with the Jones. I think there's some level of that here, too, but I've always viewed people further along on the FI journey as motivation. Their retirement does not threaten me.

I wonder how many people have a kneejerk bad reaction to hearing about FI because they're intimidated by someone further along on the journey.
I started noticing that when certain events were planned that involved money and it came time to divvy up the costs I was expected to pay for more than my fair share because I can apparently afford to.

I also started to get commentary on my lifestyle, and how the only way I could do what I’ve done is to be cheap and mooch off of others. That’s really sad, because while I’ve been a champion of frugality, I despise cheapness. I’ve never been a cheapskate, though I have been guilty of extreme frugality at times. Of course, the difference between living frugally and being cheap is frugality doesn’t come at the expense of others; cheapskates will gladly take advantage of others in the pursuit of saving money. I view frugality as a measure to value expenses in your life properly rather than wasting away money. Being cheap means every decision is made to save money, regardless of the value that could be had.

That’s particularly disheartening to me because I’ve never taken advantage of anyone throughout this whole process. Maybe I’m guilty at times of not going above and beyond what was fair, choosing instead to stick to what was exactly fair. And I was probably most guilty of this in the beginning, when I was still trying to get my snowball rolling. But I’ve certainly loosened the purse strings a bit as time has passed, and the level of extreme frugality required to leverage my progress wasn’t quite as necessary.

The final straw came when it seemed to me that the only cure for the disagreement was for me to basically just start handing out money.
From DividendMantra

When I read that back when he wrote it, I was so disheartened. He'd dug himself out of debt, only to face the naysayers in his family who said that he must be there because he took advantage of others. It's relatively common for internet commenters to sneer at MMM or Jacob for being cheap, but it's another level when it's your family.

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Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by cimorene12 » Mon Mar 16, 2015 6:53 pm

Employees and Trust
That reminded me of the old company, except that the employee handbook was said to be summarized by three words: use your brain. That actually was not an adequate description of what it contained, but I may have been one of the few people who actually read it. There are blatantly illegal policies inside of there, and the lawyers tried to CYA by putting a disclaimer that they were just general recommendations and not policies that you needed to adhere to. That was a lie, though. The handbook was considered our employee handbook for ISO certification, and all of the company was expected to adhere to what it said. When it came down to it, my boss would always tell me to look in the handbook.

This pushed me to look into my old nemesis, who is still going strong at the old company. May she prosper there.

Ownership in Lieu of 7-Figure Salary
It was February 2012 and banks, dealing with the fallout from the credit crisis, had culled more than 230,000 jobs the year before. Stu Taylor, the London-based global head of matched principal trading at UBS Group AG, figured he better get out. So he left his seven-figure salary and risked his life savings on a technology startup. He and three partners “went into a zero-salary moment” setting up Algomi Ltd., a bond sales management platform to be used by traders, portfolio managers and investors. Three years later, the 42-year-old says the far longer hours to bring home a fraction of his previous pay are worth it. “I enjoy what I’m doing, we’re creating something I think is making a difference, and it’s mine."
What I saw was a sense of ownership and purpose, something that the old company tried very hard to instill in every little worker bee. It was hard to be there, though, with the Sword of Damocles constantly over your head. It felt like you were making decisions from inside a guillotine, because your boss had the discretion to fire you at a moment's notice. A lot of companies go through the motions of having a performance improvement plan or something similar before they terminate you. At the old company, that was not true. At-will employment was stretched to its limits. However, the decent thing was that they let you set your end date, so you could find a job and they wouldn't have to pay unemployment. It was sketchy, though, because they tried to wiggle out of paying unemployment even when they'd fired you and you couldn't find another job. I was grateful to find another source of income before I left. I know for certain that I wouldn't have had the courage to leave the old company without a start date and written job offer in hand, because I didn't, even when the going got really bad.

PV Excerpts
Neil Gaiman Handwrites His Books
Having started like that, I can't imagine doing it for something the length of a novel. It's so much slower for me than typing something out. I also don't regard typing as work, though. It's more linked with leisure activities for me, which I believe is a generational difference.

Book Plots As Seen By Computers
That made me laugh, because that's what a beat sheet looks like. He reverse engineered what writers use to plot out novel-length works. It's also used for smaller pieces.

Amazon's Mobile Comes to Apple Watch
I don't know if it'll be a big deal or not. The mobile shopping experience using Amazon is lackluster, at least for me. I just end up putting things on my wish list and forgetting about them until a month later. Then again, I'm not a big shopper anyway, so they may be targeting people who don't have my consumption habits.

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Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by jacob » Tue Mar 17, 2015 11:44 am

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Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by cimorene12 » Tue Mar 17, 2015 11:54 am

The paradox of success is this: The mental wiring that enables a person to claw to the tippy-top of Corporate America or sports or entertainment or any other field that offers vast wealth is the same mental wiring that most of the time leads people not to retire before they have to — no matter what the diminishing marginal utility of money would suggest.
At the same time, there is a depressing message for the rest of us: Maybe the fact that you would even consider retiring to a life of luxury at a young age is a sign you aren’t going to succeed at a high enough level to make that an option.
NYT: "Early" retirement paradox

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