Monday, April 18, 2011

My shiny new iPad!!

Okay, I should say *our* shiny new iPad, as I am forced to share with other members of the family. The in-laws surprised us with this great Mother's Day/Father's Day/B-Day/You're Awesome! Day gift and I am over the moon.

Let me just say that I am not a gadget fiend. I've been using the same cell phone for three years now and I have an iMac that we bought almost five years ago. But I am officially addicted to this gosh darn iPad. We had to drive all the way to Orland Park (which is about an hour away on the other side of Chicago) on Sunday to find what I'm confident is the last iPad left in the Chicago metro area.

The only downside is I can't find a case for the thing to save my life. We went to the Apple store but all they have is these:

Cute and all but all they do is cover the screen. The demo iPad they had at the store was completely banged up on the back and sides. If you drop it, these "smart covers" aren't going to do much for you. I'm thinking about buying this instead:

On the plus side, it adds a bit more protection and has a nifty Bluetooth keyboard. The iPad folds down to fit nice and snug against the keyboard which sits in a heavy-duty aluminum frame. Unfortunately, it still leaves the back of the tablet uncovered.

So as of yet, I am iPad case-less. I'm hoping that in a few more weeks, more options will become available. Right now I have a simple, leather fold case but I want something a bit more robust (I'm talking about military-grade engineering here). If anyone has any suggestions, drop me a line.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Why go Indie?

A appropriate subtitle for this post might also be "What the hell are they thinking?"

Let's face it: Publishing is hard. And not just for the author. The amount of money it takes to properly publish (editing, cover design, typesetting, marketing, distribution) a book and bring it to market is astronomical. When a publisher decides to take on a project they are assuming a healthy amount of RISK. A lot of books fail, as in they don't ever make enough money to cover that initial investment. And even for the books that do well, minus the celebrity books and other crazy bestsellers, the profit margins aren't all that exceptional.

What this means for writers is that it's harder then it's ever been to convince a publisher that you're with the risk. Now, most books written by unpublished authors don't deserve to be in print. If you've ever spent more than thirty seconds browsing Smashwords then you know what I mean.

But, what about those manuscripts that are good or even great but require a little bit of polishing? A lot of them end up languishing under beds, in closets or (in this day and age) on computer harddrives.

These days, in addition to writing books, authors are expected to have platforms and followings in addition to writing a kick-ass book. The market is glutted and manuscripts are no longer a commodity. Agents and editors must be choosy.

It's a truly demoralizing thing for a writer to spend years honing their craft and writing a book that's the culmination of a lifetime's worth of effort, only to have the iron doors of publishing slammed in their faces.

I wrote a book that I think is pretty good. I got feedback, edited, got more feedback, edited it some more. I sent it off to agents, got a lot of requests for partials/fulls only to ultimately be rejected. Do I blame the gatekeepers? No. They have a tough job, trying to be fortunetellers prognosticating on the market. They may let the power go to their heads a teensy little bit but ultimately they make money finding books that will sell.

And that's what it's all about. Money. Publishing is a business. Fulfilling dreams is a nice side benefit but ultimately immaterial. When a publisher takes on a book they have to have a good amount of confidence that it will be worth the large initial investment.

Most books aren't. But does that mean these books have no audience and can't make any money, even a little?

Enter Indie! By publishing ebooks on platforms like the Kindle or Nook and POD technology available through companies like Lulu and Createspace, books can be brought to market for a very small (virtually no) initial investment.

Granted, without the resources of traditional publishing quality suffers. Self-published books aren't edited or designed to the same standards as traditionally published ones. Many are riddled with typos and grammatical errors or are just plain badly written.

But (and this is a big but) with such a small initial investment, especially for ebooks, the price points also come down considerably.

Take Wayward. I published it to the Kindle and Nook, for the low price of $0.99. You can't even get a cup of coffee for a dollar. Even with that low price point, I'm still profiting. Yes, 40 cents is still a profit ;).

And yes, there's a chance that my book isn't good enough to be worth the large investment from a publisher and the resulting price point (8-12 bucks for trade paperback) but it's definitely worth a dollar, and probably more.

With Indie publishing I can get my name out there. And more importantly get people reading my work. Even if nothing more ever comes of it at least I'm moving forward.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I ♥ Seth Godin

I've been a fan of Seth Godin for awhile now. I love that he takes really simple ideas and applies them in ways that should be obvious but that nobody seems to think of. Like: don't treat customers like crap or they won't come back.

He has a post from a few days ago that's really stuck with me:

"I don't accept for a minute that there's some sort of natural limit on your ability to do just about anything that involves creating and selling ideas...I'm not going to believe that only a few people are permitted to be gatekeepers or creators or generous leaders. I have no intention of apologizing for believing in people, for insisting that we all use this moment and these assets to create some art and improve the world around us."

Make of it what you will.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Shameless Self-Promotion


Cost: $0.99
Availability: Amazon, BN, Smashwords
Description (from Amazon): Born without magic, seventeen-year-old Helena “Hex” Wayward is an embarrassment to her power-hungry relatives. 

As the weakest member of the world’s most deadly magical family, Hex learns early how to avoid confrontation. There’s no defending herself against an errant curse or the pit-demon that her cousins like to summon during family reunions.

When the dark magic inside of her -- magic that she never dreamt even existed -- erupts in a violent display, it kills a member of a rival family.

Now, Hex's family hopes to use her magic for their own sinister purposes and their enemies just want her dead. Abandoning her magic will leave Hex defenseless but she's seen how quickly power corrupts even the best intentions. She has to make a choice:

Save her life or save her soul.