ideatrash

Writing, publishing, geekdom, and errata.

So I May Just Be Installing WordPress... What Advice Can You Give Me?

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All the social G+ layered crap that google has pretty much all-but-forced on blogger has ... well, annoyed me to no end.  It makes it slow and unresponsive, and I'm tired of having to figure out how to kludge basic functionality to achieve what wordpress folks have automagically.

Tumblr has started messing with folks who have adult blogs - including classifying LBTQ blogs as "adult" and hiding them from search.

Yes, the PRISM/NSA/cyberwar stuff has gotten to the point that I'm taking back control of as much as possible.  

(How many people still have copies of dialup BBSes and modems?  That is survivalism for nerds, my friends.  And hey, I should probably do that.  I still have that WWIV license...)

That and I realized I have a better hosting package than I thought.

So I'm very seriously thinking about migrating to a self-hosted wordpress install for this blog and for the Alliteration Ink blogs.

I've already bookmarked all the "migrate from X to Y without losing pagerank" sites.  Here's what I'm looking for from you:

1.  Is Akismet the only anti-spam plugin that actually works?  Is there one that's cheaper but (as) effective?
2.  RSS creation is automagic, right?
3.  Any other plugins that are "must-have"? 
4.  What are the downsides that I'm not thinking of?  (Seriously, all the "migrate" posts make it sound like I'm currently being forced to use MS-DOS 6.0 right now...)

Thanks!

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Cross-Reader Compatibility With eBooks (Especially Poetry)

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I am publishing Leslie Anderson's excellent collection of poetry, An Inheritance of Stone.  Much like Matt Betts' See No Evil, Say No Evil, this requires some spiffy keen eBook conversion-fu on my part.  I thought things were going pretty well... until I checked on my Android tablet.

When I put out Matt's book, I didn't have any of the Android eReader apps.  And let me tell you, they bloody well suck.  The "official" (nook, Kobo) ones are a pain to sideload... and for some reason, the nook app on Android won't let you turn off page-turn sounds.  (No, seriously.)

But still, I loaded up Leslie's book in the nook app, Alkido, Moon Reader+, FBReader, and CoolReader.  And this is what I saw at first... wait, actually, no, it isn't.  What I originally saw looked even worse.  I had to turn on "publisher defaults" (or turn off the reader's supposedly helpful restyling) to get anywhere like it was supposed to look.   Once I'd figured out how to do that across five different apps, this is what I saw:
Nook displays everything correctly.

Moon Reader+ displays these correctly (not pictured - paragraph indents are jacked up)

Alkido doesn't show CSS-defined spacing between paragraphs

CoolReader doesn't show bold and center from CSS styling or CSS-defined spacing between paragraphs

FBReader doesn't show bold and center from CSS styling or CSS-defined spacing between paragraphs

Proper spacing between paragraphs (y'know, stanzas of a poem) are something that might just be a wee bit important for me here.  (I use a string of
to get line breaks within the stanza.)  Soooo I decided to just add a quick
inbetween paragraphs on those pages, and add a manual tag to the titles.
Alkido's good...

CoolReader is good...

FBReader is fine now...
Little bit wider space between stanzas here, but not bad...
And Moon Reader+ LOOKS LIKE CRAP.

Suffice to say that I tried several different iterations before I finally ended up with something that worked on all of the readers - a string of

tags inbetween stanzas.  (Yes, that means each poem is essentially one big paragraph.)

CoolReader - one of the most annoying of the bunch - works fine.

I checked iBooks on my phone to be sadistic to myself.  The space between paragraphs is fine, thank goodness.

And finally, Moon Reader+ is happy as well.


This is - to put it shortly - FRAKKING INSANE

These are the five most popular eBook (specifically, ePub) reading apps on the Android Market.   Some of them are not free.   I don't mean "not FOSS not free".  I mean cost you freaking money not free.

Think about this for half a second.  For those of us who are small publishers (or are trying to sell our backlist, or, or or) we might be selling some of our books directly from our websites.  And while we might be using perfectly standards-compliant CSS, our readers are going to get pissed because our books look like dog crap on their non-standards-compliant reader.

I've already e-mailed the dev for Moon Reader +... but if we want anything besides the Kindle format to really be supported, we need a standards-compliant and cheap/free (or even FOSS) app STAT.

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You Want To Have GPG On Your System to Be Able to Digitally Sign Documents (Like Publisher Contracts)

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Remember the NSA, and everyone talking about encrypting their e-mail?  If you even glanced at how to do that, you probably found something like this guide and it probably mentioned GPG.

But even if you're not interested in keeping your e-mail safe, you want to have GPG installed and to have a public/private keypair for one very simple reason.

Contracts.

I, like oh, just about everyone, send "electronically signed contracts" back and forth.  Realistically, they've been cut-and-pasted images of my signature onto PDFs or JPGs.

But now that I've actually got GPG set up on my machine, I can actually sign the PDF or JPG so that it is provably from me.

Here's an example.  I "signed" an image of my Second Life avatar reading with my private key.  I'm the only one who has that.

But anyone could verify it with my public key and then when that file was altered - even just by changing the compression level slightly - the verification failed.



So that means that if the signature verifies against my public key, then you know that I actually sent the file, on purpose.  Which gives us a way to actually digitally sign contracts that is already in place.  Linux folks, you probably already have gpg installed on your system. 

Honestly, if you follow the directions for being able to encrypt your e-mail you will have already gotten 90% of this in place.  Linux folks, you have it already installed (almost certainly), and there's nice GUIs for OSX and Windows.

Once you have GPG installed, the commandline commands to get my public key and verify any file I send to you are:

gpg --keyserver hkp://keyserver.ubuntu.com --recv-keys 0xDD2F731F
gpg --list-keys 0xDD2F731F
gpg --verify FILENAME

You can also find my public key on the MIT PGP key server.

And then when you get a signed contract from me, you'll know what to do. 

Want to sign your own document?

gpg --detach-sign file

Here are a few other cheat-sheets and howtos:
http://www.math.niu.edu/help/unix/gnupg.html
http://kb.iu.edu/data/awiu.html

[edited to include "how to sign your own document" portion. D'oh.]

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Real-Life Conversion Problems - and your WorldWide Audience

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I think small errors - like the one pictured here from The Ocean at the End of the Lane - are a big deal.  Yes, it's the only eBook conversion error in the entire book... but it also immediately threw me out of the story.  THAT is a big deal to a storyteller.  Because someone didn't catch where a double-dash in a different font was used instead of a true em-dash, we have a weird looking thing.  (Again, this is the official eBook on the official device - not some rip or weird conversion.

But I am becoming aware of some bigger issues around eBook conversion that will be extremely relevant in the next decade.

I finished Jim Hines' Codex Born (and gave it a well-deserved review) not long ago.  There were, however, two small problems the eBook converter didn't catch.

It's not really their fault - both are due to people now reading on devices that are not just eInk.  The first is the chapter headers.  As you can see, I wasn't reading with the page set to completely white, and...


Not bad, just slightly annoying.  Design with eBooks should be unobtrusive, not noticeable.  The desire to keep the book image as the chapter heading - especially given the book in question - is absolutely understandable.  The execution, however...

But then there's the bigger - and to my mind - more troubling problem.  There are some portions of the book that transliterate some Chinese into English.  Jim - and the publisher - obviously spent quite a bit of time and energy ensuring that they were presented correctly.  They knew that unicode extended support is spotty at best (and there's actually quite a bit of argument as to what "extended" characters are), so they embedded them as images.

Yeah, you can see where this is going - because I was so taken with the book that I stayed up late reading and switched the screen to inverse:


You can also see that the font size I read at is a bit different than that font size of the image.  But what are you going to do?  When the official apps aren't all supporting the same character sets or encoding but you suddenly have international audiences - well, that's a big problem.  It's even bigger when you think about the existing devices out there that cannot get a firmware upgrade or can't handle new/fancier apps.

I don't know a way around this, folks.  This is not an error - this is a hardware and/or software limitation.

But before you start thinking that you're only writing in English... you're not safe either.

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So I've Been Playing With T-Shirt Designs

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Sometimes you have to completely change your focus in order to keep your mind from seizing up.

One of the ways I've been doing that has been to make cool little t-shirt designs and sayings.  Well, I think they're cool.  Nobody's making you buy them.
 
So I have a horribly, horribly basic Spreadshirt store.   I'll probably go to some effort in setting it out and laying it out and doing all sorts of neat things with it at some point. But I have a few cool (again, my term) designs that I think you might enjoy.  And enjoy buying stuff with them on it.

NOTE ONE:  Yes, I'm aware that large size shirts are horrendously more expensive, and horrendously even more expensive for large women than for large men.  I have no idea why, and I've tried to mitigate that cost difference as much as possible.  Yes, the difference is worse by default.

NOTE TWO:  If a link goes directly to the "Designs" portion of my store, that's because I haven't set up any items with that particular design yet.  I'm getting to it.

NOTE THREE:  If you'd like something (mousepad, canvas bag, hoodie, etc) with one of my designs, let me know.  I'm hesitant to let some of these out into "the wild".  For example, the Geek design is only available in women's shirts, because if a guy wore that shirt, it could give an entirely different message than what I intended with the design.

They are America's REAL secret killer

You know it would be.  LOOP DAMMIT LOOP.

There are two variants for dark and light shirts

Prints on the BACK of the shirt

This seemed better than the "last nerve" vibe I got from all the "this is my last spoon/spork" variants
Because it's true.

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Billions - A Flash Fiction

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You are not one.

Subprocesses in your brain filter, process, and react before your conscious mind even perceives a thing.

The billions of germs in your body mass more than "you". Everything from the bit of bacteria digesting your lunch to the rabies virus walking its way up the nerves to your brain.

Each, in turn, is made of molecules. Each molecule is a loose cloud of atoms. Each atom a cloud of potential and energy, more empty space.

You are mostly germs. They are mostly empty space.

No wonder you are lonely.

You are not one. You are nothing.

Like me.


Please note that the 100 Word Story Podcast is changing URLS to http://oneadayuntilthedayidie.com/!

Based around Laurence Simon's weekly challenge for the 100 word-stories podcast. The player above should have the audio for this week; if it doesn't, you can find the audio here to download.

I am updating these in a podcast feed (dubbed "Radio Free Steven the Nuclear Man" by Laurence). You can subscribe with this link (http://feeds.feedburner.com/Ideatrash) in your podcatcher or phone. You can also read and hear the rest of the entries at the 100 Word Stories podcast site.

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How To Get A (Mostly) Free Web Presence For The Tech-Illiterate Writer (And Everyone Else Too)

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You don't want your bio to ever say:

"You can find more about me at http://facebook.com..."

NEVER.  There's no excuse anymore for you not to have a basic, low-maintenance web presence.  I'm going to show you how in a few easy steps.  This should take approximately one hour at most.

PREP WORK

1.  Get a good picture of yourself.  Higher resolution the better.
2.  Get a nice background picture or texture.  I prefer simple; YMMV.
3.  Have a rough idea what social media networks you want people to know about.  Your Facebook page?  Twitter?  LinkedIn?  Blog?  Instagram?  Are some of those more "personal" than others?
4.  Have a short bio written up.  150 - 200 words.

GET A STANDALONE NAMEPLATE PAGE

A nameplate page is a page you control that isn't directly associated with a social media account.  Typically, they have links to multiple other pages or projects you do.  This can be a replacement for having a website (you can usually point a domain name at one) or can be in addition to your main website.

Think of it as a big digital business card that can be read on the internet.

I use about.me, but there are several others.  I like about.me's flexibility in both design and what you put on there.  Lifehacker has a list of free ones here:  http://lifehacker.com/5886188/five-best-professional-nameplate-sites .  About.me is absurdly fast to set up and easy to get going, which is why I recommend it.

It's a great way to start your web presence - and to control what Google says about you - without spending any web hosting money or worrying about upkeep.  And it can link to your existing social media presence so you don't have to start doing (or maintaining) much of anything else.

At this point, you've done most of the work.  Pat yourself on the back and move forward!

I HAVE MY OWN WEBSITE!

No worries. I think your main page of your website should have the same kinds of information on it - but of course, you can "roll your own". See below for details.

GET YOUR OWN DOMAIN NAME

Here's where we finish it off: I also recommend you buy your name as a domain.  For example, I own stevensaus.com and stevesaus.com - if for no other reason than to keep someone else from getting it.  Check out this article for some more tips for those of you with common names that are already taken. 

Domain names are about $10 a year or so, and this step should take about 15-20 minutes to do.  It may take a while to point it to your new nameplate page and update - so be patient there.

I've used Namecheap for years and have been quite happy:  http://www.namecheap.com/?aff=41387

There are plenty other domain name registrars out there, and Lifehacker again has a great list of some others: http://lifehacker.com/5943452/five-best-domain-name-registrars.

This should finish up your hour;  even if you're still waiting for mynewdomain.com to point to your nameplate page, that's the smallest part of this whole thing.

I WANT A FULL WEBSITE (OR ALREADY HAVE ONE)

As I mentioned above, I recommend doing this in addition to your main website.  Still, there's some principles here that your website should also follow. All the immediate need-to-know info should be on the front page, such as your bio (and contact info if you want).  

If you take a look at mine - stevensaus.com - you'll see that's exactly what I've done.  Bio and picture.  Social media sites.  Contact info.  Upcoming appearances.  Done. 

I hand-rolled mine starting out with some other templates, but there are more and more tech-easy ways to host (and design) a good-looking website without spending a ton of money or being tech-literate.  Cynthia K. Marshall (@WritingCyn) has set hers up at SquareSpace, follows the same principles as outlined above, and says it is as easy as the commercials make it sound.

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Word to HTML and Smartening Quotes for eBooks using SED and HTMLTidy

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technology.pngI had a bunch of separate DOC files with underlines to convert to italics and some smart quotes in the text and some straight quotes.

I wanted a clean HTML output with smart quotes. 

That's right.  I wanted to add smart quotes and convert them to HTML entities as well.

Automatically, so I don't have to go through this again.  And no line wrapping.  And so I did, using LibreOffice (OpenOffice should work too) from the commandline, HTMLTidy, and SED.

I started out with the instructions on TechRepublic here:  http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/linux-and-open-source/how-to-convert-doc-and-odf-files-to-clean-and-lean-html/, but there were some shortcomings.  I kept losing underscores entirely - they were converted to classes, and then stripped - and it couldn't handle filenames with spaces at all.  And the smart quotes handling of HTMLTidy is... well, minimal.

My script converts all the DOCX, DOC, and ODT files in a directory, does each substitution step-by-step (so you can deconstruct it yourself), and deletes all of the temporary files at the end.   I've added it to the ebook-utilz github repository, and you can see just that bash script at https://github.com/uriel1998/ebook-utilz/blob/master/doc2html.  Since it's a BASH script, you should be able to use it on *nix, OSX, and possibly CygWin.

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Looking at Your Contracts (Compendium Post)

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This is a compendium post to refer back to. The original posts are here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.  Plus my own contract templates.


All of what I'm about to say is in my capacity as a fellow writer giving writing advice to other writers. I am NOT a lawyer, I am NOT giving you any legal advice. I do NOT represent you or your legal interests in any way. Please do not give me any confidential information. Any such information will not be privileged.

Contracts are a Big Deal in publishing. Unfortunately, they're also ... well, contracts. They're filled with legalese and confusing terms. Sometimes you can be absolutely sure it means one thing... but it really means something else.

That happened to me last week. I sent out my contracts to authors and got quite a few squawks back. This surprised me - because I'd been using contracts like this for years and never heard a complaint. I've even gotten compliments on how clear they were.

It turned out that some of the people who call themselves "publishers" are more evil than I even considered being. And there's others who are in the same position I was in - well-meaning, but unaware of what was going on (and what impact it could have for the authors they publish).

Over this week I shared some of what I learned - to benefit authors, editors, and well-meaning publishers. I'll tell you what I did right, where I messed up, and I'll share an (anonymous) example of a bad contract. I want your comments, corrections, and horror stories. That way we all know what to look for, and hopefully a bit of why.

And for the rest of you "publishers" who used contracts to screw over everyone else...



What I Did Right


There were some things I did right - and they're things I look for in contracts.

Contracts should explicitly grant rights, and all others should stay with the author. I largely did this - for example, stating that I only wanted print rights. Audio, film, or any other rights to the story stayed with the authors - unless they're going to use those rights. I erred by not explicitly stating that the rights were only in the context of the anthology.

Contracts should state how long they last. I clearly stated a one-year exclusive period. Where I erred was in asking for non-exclusive print rights for the life of copyright.

Contracts should explicitly state what each party gets Whether this was in terms of money, author copies, or the like, it was spelled out in the contract. Digital author copies and a print copy (or not). What percentage of royalties? When are payments due? All that kind of stuff is really important.

Contracts should have a publish-by or revert clause If a market holds your story (after the contract is signed) and they don't bother to publish it, all rights should go back to the author automatically.

Contracts should be clear, but not contain extra clauses I had clauses for third-party sales that simply were not needed. If some amazing opportunity comes up later, then you create a contract rider (or even a separate contract). Adding in clauses for unlikely situations makes the whole document more confusing. At the same time, you want everything to be explicitly defined and explained and obvious.

Contracts should be clear about how they're going to use your work If you are granting, say, short story rights without it clearly being limited to use within a single anthology, the publisher might be able to just sell your individual story as a single or put it in another anthology altogether!

Bad Things Happen


I hinted at one of the bad things above - that publishers have started trying to sell individual stories out of anthologies without explicitly telling the authors what they're doing. This is so horrible on so many levels that it makes me furious just thinking about it.

More and more publishers are wanting full exclusive rights to anything they touch... and if a publisher has a non-exclusive right to that story, then there's a big problem. But it's worse! Think about this - how many Stephen King novels and movies started out as a short story? There is a real possiblity that a publisher holding on to that non-exclusive of the inspiring short story might throw a wrench in that future sale. This means there is no such thing as "just a short story" any more.

Also, a disturbing number of small publishers are using the sale of author copies to generate income for themselves. Here's your superpower, authors and editors: You can look up how much it costs them. CreateSpace, for example, lets you plug in the numbers so you can see what the publisher pays.

https://www.createspace.com/Products/Book/#content5:royaltycalcTable

Please note: That difference between cover price and the buy author copy rate is NOT what I make for each book you buy from Amazon, B&N, or even directly from the website. if you poke around more, you'll also see that selling copies through Amazon or "expanded distribution" is considerably more expensive. I price my print books so that the authors make about the same as with the digital book. Only my authors get copies at cost - largely so that they can make some money if they decide to sell books at a signing or convention. I think that's pretty fair.

I've managed to get this far doing a lot of work on a handshake - because I know the people I've worked with. But as I "level up", I'm working with more people who have barely heard of me. So I do a lot of work to ensure that my contracts protect against the horror stories and sneaky publisher tricks that I hear about (or experience).

The Bad Contract


So let's look at some bits of a contract that was passed to me. Publisher and source name excised, of course - I am presuming that the publisher simply doesn't know any better.

Owner hereby grants to The Publisher a worldwide non-exclusive license to reproduce, publish and display the Material, in whole or in part, and to incorporate the Material, in whole or in part, into other works (the “Derivative Works”), as determined by The Publisher.

This is bad on multiple levels. The contract says they can take a short story and repackage it in any anthology (or drop it from anthologies, add to another anthology, etc) however they want, whenever they want, at their discretion. It also says they can create other works based on your work - audio? film? a novel? - without telling anyone. It isn't clear that it's English language only, or that it's print only. Without clearly defining audio rights (or English language rights), it could be seen as granting translation, audio, film rights.

Owner acknowledges that The Publisher is under no obligation to publish or use the Material submitted for consideration in any way. The Owner further acknowledges that no compensation is due from The Publisher should The Publisher choose to use the Material.

The second part is kind of horrible - but is hopefully due to the specific project that this contract was for. But let's note that this contract says they can use it however they want, whenever they want, as much as they want, without paying you a cent. But the first part is bad enough - there is NO POINT in signing a contract if they're not going to use the material.

This Agreement constitutes the entire and only agreement between the parties and all other prior negotiations, agreements, representations and understandings are superseded hereby.

This is a dangerous clause for a simple reason - it does not specify for this project. So if you signed a multi-book deal with them first, then signed this puppy, I think there's an argument that this contract makes the rest of them moot regardless of the project in question. If anything, this clause hurts the publisher - but it's a good example of how omitting a single bit of detail can radically change the meaning of a clause.

That any works submitted become the exculsive use of The Publisher until January 1st the year after The Publisher prints the work in question.

There's no publish-by or revert clause, and especially when combined with the "we don't have to use your work" clause above, the publisher could hold onto your work and legally keep you from ever publishing it.

On the first January 1st to follow any printing of material by The Publisher the work in question may be used by the original owner as he/she sees fit but must inform any other agency that The Publisher continues to have rights to print any submitted or printed material in whole or in part for advertising purposes.

Rights reversion should be clearly stated as such - and should be phrased as limiting the publisher's rights. That is, THE AUTHOR IS granting the rights, the publisher's rights EXPIRE after a certain length of time.

A horrible contract does not mean that a publisher is trying to take advantage of you. It just means they could take advantage of you, whether intentionally or due to ignorance. (Again, that's one of the reasons I'm writing this series of posts.)

Of course, even if the contract is great, they might not be providing enough value (in terms of exposure or money) to be worth what they're asking for. Or they could otherwise behave badly - paying late, trying to do digital versions without asking, or generally being scum-sucking vermin.

But luckily, the Internet is changing publishing so that doing that sort of thing is getting harder and harder.

And be sure to check out Writer Beware for a lot more advice on this sort of thing. They're an invaluable resource.

[EDIT 18 August - I realized I'd linked to the contract template post, but not included it in this compendium. My apologies.]

So I realized today that it doesn't make a lot of sense for me to talk about contracts without actually offering up my templates for contracts.  Most of what I've learned has been through looking at other contracts, and sometimes the examples I've had... well, they were a lot worse than I thought they were.  They were worse than the publisher thought they were, probably because they were all deriving from a crappy template.

So, I thought of open source software.  Sharing information has always been the best way for me to learn more.  Each person's expertise and insight helps make the software better - and you're free to do your own thing if you like.  Sounds perfect. 

But I didn't know how to do it.  The problem, I always thought, was that I couldn't show the way my contracts updated and evolved as I learned more in a transparent way.

And then I realized that I wasn't thinking enough like a geek.  I forgot about git.

Git is version control.  That means that changes to things (like, say, a text file) are saved publicly, and you can track changes over time.   Take a look right here - the + means it was added (a - would mean something was deleted), and you can see the comment above as to why that commit (change) was done.

Of course, there are some disclaimers and such that I have to do:
  • These are under the MIT license.  One portion of that license expressly states "THE WORK IS PROVIDED "AS IS", WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NONINFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHORS OR COPYRIGHT HOLDERS BE LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGES OR OTHER LIABILITY, WHETHER IN AN ACTION OF CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING FROM, OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE work OR THE USE OR OTHER DEALINGS IN THE WORK."  So yeah, no guarantees.  This could totally blow up in your (and, therefore, my) face.
  • I'm not a lawyer.  I don't pretend to be.  Don't think I am.  I could be horribly, horribly wrong.
  • You can sue someone for breathing.  No contract, no matter how well-written, will completely protect you from lawsuits.  They sure help, though.
  • Please note that these templates are NOT finished contracts, and currently contain contradictory information and clauses to cover a majority of instances. I will cut and modify clauses as applicable for each individual contract.  For example, some books I've published pay a flat fee.  Some are royalty-only.  And some are a mix depending on the length of the work in question.  So if you get a contract from me, it may have different elements than these templates.  Read the damn contract carefully.
  • Not all contracts from Alliteration Ink will contain all of these clauses. 
  • These contracts do not supersede or preempt existing contracts.
  • Feedback on these contracts is welcomed. The goal of sharing these contracts is to improve the knowledge of authors, myself, and hold publishers (including myself) to a higher standard.  If you have a question about why something is written the way it is, please feel free to ask.
Or in other words, folks, I'm willing to be publicly told that I'm wrong (or that something I'm doing is wrong) so that we can all have a higher quality of contracts in our industry. 

The contract templates are hosted on GitHub here:  https://github.com/uriel1998/ainkcontracts

Thanks for reading all this, and I hope it helps you as a writer, publisher, or as both!

#SFWAPro

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Looking At Your Contracts: A Bad Contract Example

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All of what I'm about to say is in my capacity as a fellow writer giving writing advice to other writers. I am NOT a lawyer, I am NOT giving you any legal advice. I do NOT represent you or your legal interests in any way. Please do not give me any confidential information. Any such information will not be privileged.

Over this week I'm going to share some of what I learned - to benefit authors, editors, and well-meaning publishers. I'll tell you what I did right, where I messed up, and I'll share an (anonymous) example of a bad contract. I want your comments, corrections, and horror stories. That way we all know what to look for, and hopefully a bit of why. (Part 1, Part 2)

And for the rest of you "publishers" who used contracts to screw over everyone else...




The Bad Contract


So let's look at some bits of a contract that was passed to me. Publisher and source name excised, of course - I am presuming that the publisher simply doesn't know any better.

Owner hereby grants to The Publisher a worldwide non-exclusive license to reproduce, publish and display the Material, in whole or in part, and to incorporate the Material, in whole or in part, into other works (the “Derivative Works”), as determined by The Publisher.

This is bad on multiple levels. The contract says they can take a short story and repackage it in any anthology (or drop it from anthologies, add to another anthology, etc) however they want, whenever they want, at their discretion. It also says they can create other works based on your work - audio? film? a novel? - without telling anyone. It isn't clear that it's English language only, or that it's print only. Without clearly defining audio rights (or English language rights), it could be seen as granting translation, audio, film rights.

Owner acknowledges that The Publisher is under no obligation to publish or use the Material submitted for consideration in any way. The Owner further acknowledges that no compensation is due from The Publisher should The Publisher choose to use the Material.

The second part is kind of horrible - but is hopefully due to the specific project that this contract was for. But let's note that this contract says they can use it however they want, whenever they want, as much as they want, without paying you a cent. But the first part is bad enough - there is NO POINT in signing a contract if they're not going to use the material.

This Agreement constitutes the entire and only agreement between the parties and all other prior negotiations, agreements, representations and understandings are superseded hereby.

This is a dangerous clause for a simple reason - it does not specify for this project. So if you signed a multi-book deal with them first, then signed this puppy, I think there's an argument that this contract makes the rest of them moot regardless of the project in question. If anything, this clause hurts the publisher - but it's a good example of how omitting a single bit of detail can radically change the meaning of a clause.

That any works submitted become the exculsive use of The Publisher until January 1st the year after The Publisher prints the work in question.

There's no publish-by or revert clause, and especially when combined with the "we don't have to use your work" clause above, the publisher could hold onto your work and legally keep you from ever publishing it.

On the first January 1st to follow any printing of material by The Publisher the work in question may be used by the original owner as he/she sees fit but must inform any other agency that The Publisher continues to have rights to print any submitted or printed material in whole or in part for advertising purposes.

Rights reversion should be clearly stated as such - and should be phrased as limiting the publisher's rights. That is, THE AUTHOR IS granting the rights, the publisher's rights EXPIRE after a certain length of time.

A horrible contract does not mean that a publisher is trying to take advantage of you. It just means they could take advantage of you, whether intentionally or due to ignorance. (Again, that's one of the reasons I'm writing this series of posts.)

Of course, even if the contract is great, they might not be providing enough value (in terms of exposure or money) to be worth what they're asking for. Or they could otherwise behave badly - paying late, trying to do digital versions without asking, or generally being scum-sucking vermin.

But luckily, the Internet is changing publishing so that doing that sort of thing is getting harder and harder.

And be sure to check out Writer Beware for a lot more advice on this sort of thing. They're an invaluable resource.

Thanks for reading all this, and I hope it helps you as a writer, publisher, or as both!

#SFWAPro

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Looking at Your... Er... My Contracts (Showing You My Contract Templates)

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So I realized today that it doesn't make a lot of sense for me to talk about contracts without actually offering up my templates for contracts.  Most of what I've learned has been through looking at other contracts, and sometimes the examples I've had... well, they were a lot worse than I thought they were.  They were worse than the publisher thought they were, probably because they were all deriving from a crappy template.

So, I thought of open source software.  Sharing information has always been the best way for me to learn more.  Each person's expertise and insight helps make the software better - and you're free to do your own thing if you like.  Sounds perfect. 

But I didn't know how to do it.  The problem, I always thought, was that I couldn't show the way my contracts updated and evolved as I learned more in a transparent way.

And then I realized that I wasn't thinking enough like a geek.  I forgot about git.

Git is version control.  That means that changes to things (like, say, a text file) are saved publicly, and you can track changes over time.   Take a look right here - the + means it was added (a - would mean something was deleted), and you can see the comment above as to why that commit (change) was done.

Of course, there are some disclaimers and such that I have to do:
  • These are under the MIT license.  One portion of that license expressly states "THE WORK IS PROVIDED "AS IS", WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NONINFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHORS OR COPYRIGHT HOLDERS BE LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGES OR OTHER LIABILITY, WHETHER IN AN ACTION OF CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING FROM, OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE work OR THE USE OR OTHER DEALINGS IN THE WORK."  So yeah, no guarantees.  This could totally blow up in your (and, therefore, my) face.
  • I'm not a lawyer.  I don't pretend to be.  Don't think I am.  I could be horribly, horribly wrong.
  • You can sue someone for breathing.  No contract, no matter how well-written, will completely protect you from lawsuits.  They sure help, though.
  • Please note that these templates are NOT finished contracts, and currently contain contradictory information and clauses to cover a majority of instances. I will cut and modify clauses as applicable for each individual contract.  For example, some books I've published pay a flat fee.  Some are royalty-only.  And some are a mix depending on the length of the work in question.  So if you get a contract from me, it may have different elements than these templates.  Read the damn contract carefully.
  • Not all contracts from Alliteration Ink will contain all of these clauses. 
  • These contracts do not supersede or preempt existing contracts.
  • Feedback on these contracts is welcomed. The goal of sharing these contracts is to improve the knowledge of authors, myself, and hold publishers (including myself) to a higher standard.  If you have a question about why something is written the way it is, please feel free to ask.
Or in other words, folks, I'm willing to be publicly told that I'm wrong (or that something I'm doing is wrong) so that we can all have a higher quality of contracts in our industry. 

The contract templates are hosted on GitHub here:  https://github.com/uriel1998/ainkcontracts

#SFWAPro

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Looking At Your Contracts: Bad Things Happen

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All of what I'm about to say is in my capacity as a fellow writer giving writing advice to other writers. I am NOT a lawyer, I am NOT giving you any legal advice. I do NOT represent you or your legal interests in any way. Please do not give me any confidential information. Any such information will not be privileged.

Over this week I'm going to share some of what I learned - to benefit authors, editors, and well-meaning publishers. I'll tell you what I did right, where I messed up, and I'll share an (anonymous) example of a bad contract. I want your comments, corrections, and horror stories. That way we all know what to look for, and hopefully a bit of why. (Part 1)

And for the rest of you "publishers" who used contracts to screw over everyone else...




Bad Things Happen


I hinted at one of the bad things above - that publishers have started trying to sell individual stories out of anthologies without explicitly telling the authors what they're doing. This is so horrible on so many levels that it makes me furious just thinking about it.

More and more publishers are wanting full exclusive rights to anything they touch... and if a publisher has a non-exclusive right to that story, then there's a big problem. But it's worse! Think about this - how many Stephen King novels and movies started out as a short story? There is a real possiblity that a publisher holding on to that non-exclusive of the inspiring short story might throw a wrench in that future sale. This means there is no such thing as "just a short story" any more.

Also, a disturbing number of small publishers are using the sale of author copies to generate income for themselves. Here's your superpower, authors and editors: You can look up how much it costs them. CreateSpace, for example, lets you plug in the numbers so you can see what the publisher pays.

https://www.createspace.com/Products/Book/#content5:royaltycalcTable

Please note: That difference between cover price and the buy author copy rate is NOT what I make for each book you buy from Amazon, B&N, or even directly from the website. if you poke around more, you'll also see that selling copies through Amazon or "expanded distribution" is considerably more expensive. I price my print books so that the authors make about the same as with the digital book. Only my authors get copies at cost - largely so that they can make some money if they decide to sell books at a signing or convention. I think that's pretty fair.

I've managed to get this far doing a lot of work on a handshake - because I know the people I've worked with. But as I "level up", I'm working with more people who have barely heard of me. So I do a lot of work to ensure that my contracts protect against the horror stories and sneaky publisher tricks that I hear about (or experience).

So next we'll look at a bad contract, and what makes it bad.

#SFWAPro

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Review: CODEX BORN by Jim C. Hines

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I've been reading Jim Hines since the Goblin series of books - and full disclosure, I know and like him as a person as well.  That said, liking someone has not kept me from writing a poor review of their work.

I'm glad to report that I have no such problems with Jim's work.  Codex Born is the second book in the Magic Ex Libris series (as other reviews say, you should absolutely read Libriomancer first or you'll be lost), and continues Jim's track record of continually improving his work.  Not only does it continue to have the same fun and humor as the first book in this series (and really, in all of Jim's work), but he *realistically* deals with the problematic parts of urban fantasy and certain types of characters.  And he does it all with compassion, caring, and an uncompromising honesty that left me wanting more.

Nothing is done just for giggles - even the parts that make you giggle.  Nothing is *just* serious, even the parts that make you suddenly realize that you've been taken in by a character's act just like everyone else in the story.

Jim's style fits into the so-called "New Comprehensibles" strain - it's clean, lean, and effective without being ornate or verbose.

All this said, I would hesitate before recommending this book for extremely young (pre-teen) readers.  While I appreciate Jim's method of addressing issues - including sex - while keeping the hot-and-steamy largely implied, the *issues* and how the characters deal with them are front-and-center.  To put it in perspective, I'd happily give a copy to my sixteen year old, but would probably steer my girlfriend's seven-year-old daughter to the Goblin and Princess series for a few years yet.

That one caveat aside, I heartily and highly recommend Codex Born as Jim's finest yet.

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Looking at Your Contracts: What I Did Right

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All of what I'm about to say is in my capacity as a fellow writer giving writing advice to other writers. I am NOT a lawyer, I am NOT giving you any legal advice. I do NOT represent you or your legal interests in any way. Please do not give me any confidential information. Any such information will not be privileged.

Contracts are a Big Deal in publishing. Unfortunately, they're also ... well, contracts. They're filled with legalese and confusing terms. Sometimes you can be absolutely sure it means one thing... but it really means something else.

That happened to me last week. I sent out my contracts to authors and got quite a few squawks back. This surprised me - because I'd been using contracts like this for years and never heard a complaint. I've even gotten compliments on how clear they were.

It turned out that some of the people who call themselves "publishers" are more evil than I even considered being. And there's others who are in the same position I was in - well-meaning, but unaware of what was going on (and what impact it could have for the authors they publish).

Over this week I'm going to share some of what I learned - to benefit authors, editors, and well-meaning publishers. I'll tell you what I did right, where I messed up, and I'll share an (anonymous) example of a bad contract. I want your comments, corrections, and horror stories. That way we all know what to look for, and hopefully a bit of why.

And for the rest of you "publishers" who used contracts to screw over everyone else...



What I Did Right


There were some things I did right - and they're things I look for in contracts.

Contracts should explicitly grant rights, and all others should stay with the author. I largely did this - for example, stating that I only wanted print rights. Audio, film, or any other rights to the story stayed with the authors - unless they're going to use those rights. I erred by not explicitly stating that the rights were only in the context of the anthology.

Contracts should state how long they last. I clearly stated a one-year exclusive period. Where I erred was in asking for non-exclusive print rights for the life of copyright.

Contracts should explicitly state what each party gets Whether this was in terms of money, author copies, or the like, it was spelled out in the contract. Digital author copies and a print copy (or not). What percentage of royalties? When are payments due? All that kind of stuff is really important.

Contracts should have a publish-by or revert clause If a market holds your story (after the contract is signed) and they don't bother to publish it, all rights should go back to the author automatically.

Contracts should be clear, but not contain extra clauses I had clauses for third-party sales that simply were not needed. If some amazing opportunity comes up later, then you create a contract rider (or even a separate contract). Adding in clauses for unlikely situations makes the whole document more confusing. At the same time, you want everything to be explicitly defined and explained and obvious.

Contracts should be clear about how they're going to use your work If you are granting, say, short story rights without it clearly being limited to use within a single anthology, the publisher might be able to just sell your individual story as a single or put it in another anthology altogether!

Stay tuned for bad publisher tricks...

#SFWAPro

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The Value of Inexperience Is The Lack Of Tolerance Of Business-As-Usual Bullshit

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"Oh, it's good that you aren't paying your authors that much," the professional author told me.  "That way the sale to you doesn't count and disqualify them for the Campbell Award."

I didn't realize how patronizing the comment was until months later.

Which meant she was absolutely right.

I had no idea what I was getting into.  No idea of the complexities, the amount of work... and especially, no idea of the degree of predatory bullshit that existed in publishing.

It hasn't gotten better.

If anything, it's gotten worse.  Random Penguin House outright owns Author Solutions, one of the biggest scam vanity publishers out there. F+W Media - you know, Writer's Digest yes, THOSE folks - have their own crappy vanity press.

Even if you manage to stay away from the vanity press bullshit, you've got crappy contests like the Dark Crystal one that are run by huge, supposedly respected names in publishing.  So you go with small presses, right?  They're small enough that reputation is important... except there is so much information inequality that people still don't realize that requiring author copies at markup is a bullshit way for publishers to make a profit.

I didn't know any of that.  I was - and probably still am - one of the well-meaning noobs who doesn't have a clue of how crappy things are.  And when I get outraged by the complete and utter bullshit perpetrated by people who call themselves "publishers", so many of my writer friends just shrug and say that's the way things are.


I am inexperienced and innocent enough that such behavior outrages me.  It upsets me, when people who call themselves "publishers" - just like myself - do horrible exploitative things to authors. When fellow authors, people in the same position as I, look at me sideways because they've learned that "publisher" means "bastard who will take advantage of me".

If I knew all that going in, I might have decided to do something else.

Consider this, for a second.  SIDEKICKS! had a bit of a slump in the second quarter sales - and when you start disbursing royalties in an anthology with twenty people... well, it can get kind of small.

Neal Litherland commented on Facebook about the size of the disbursement, and I apologized:

 
I have no words because I think I am barely holding up my end of the bargain. I don't think I'm doing enough, I'm barely meeting the basic levels of human decency, and somehow that's exemplary.

Perhaps if I was less of a well-meaning innocent, perhaps if I were more experienced, I would be jaded.  I would have outrage fatigue.  I would stop trying to educate people and concentrate on making myself money.  I'd stop pissing off (or at least irritating) people with power and authority and just settle. I am not born to this sort of thing. But a few years ago, I looked around and I didn't see where anyone else was.

And though I've looked back, I haven't stopped.

As with the last few years, I've got a whole series of posts coming up during the week of GenCon.  (2010 had "Pirates, pirates Everywhere", 2011 had some stuff about scamming and publishers justifying their existence, and 2012 was about Self-Confidence and Self-Doubt.)  This year I'm going to share what I've learned about contracts over the course of the week.  Not because I'm a lawyer (I'm not) or I'm a total expert (I'm not) - but because I want to share what I've learned.

If you've found any of these posts useful, give a listen to Alasdair Stuart read his introduction to SIDEKICKS!

I'm really fond of Alasdair's work, and I'm fond of this book.  I know how many stories Sarah Hans rejected for this anthology.  I know that a good anthology isn't just a bunch of stories thrown together, and I think Sarah did a great job with this book.  Alasdair thought so too, and his joy and love for the genre and the stories shines through.

Give it a listen, then check out the book at sidekicks.alliterationink.com.

And join me next week as we keep learning more so that eventually we won't have to be outraged any longer.

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Sexism, Stupid Men, Naked Women On Sherlock, and Doctors Oh My!

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Quick:  which of these thirty second clips is sexist, and why? Okay, yeah, trick question. They both are - but one is arguably much more sexist than the other.





The Discover card commercial is an example of "Dumb Man Commercials" (in fact, it's even featured on the Stupid Man Commercials blog). As The Mary Sue puts it, the premise is:
[M]en (or more specifically, husbands) who are unable to complete a simple household task that usually involves a form of cleaning or food preparation are saved by their domestic goddess wives. And as women, we are meant to watch these commercials and think, “Oh, those dumb oafs! They wouldn’t last a day without me!”

And that's true of this individual commercial. But when you look at the whole list of Discover card commercials in this line and there's plenty of other people messing up, missing payments, and generally being stupid. The puppy commercial still falls into the sexist "Dumb Man" trope, but it isn't the only example in the... well, "series"... of people being stupid.

And then there's Irene Adler. A strong woman in the BBC's Sherlock. Not only is she a strong woman in the series, but she's one of the few characters at all whose intellect comes close to Sherlock's. Lara Pulver fully inhabits the character, and fills the character masterfully. It's a wonderful performance.

And yet Irene Adler is a self-identified lesbian sex worker who suddenly finds herself heterosexually attracted to our protagonist, and undermined by her oh-so-womanly feelings for him.

Yes, yes, yes. I know there are a lot of narrative reasons for Irene Adler to be the way she is in this particular series. There are many, many, many ways in which this characterization makes complete and total sense. And even the "going straight" bit is mirrored in Sherlock's own turn away from asexuality. None of this would be problematic... if there was another woman in the series who was more than a tertiary character. You know, ever.

As Don Bingle once said, "There are bimbos in the world, and if one shows up in your story, that's okay. But they are a small minority. When all - or even most - of your female characters are bimbos, you've got real problems."

And that's the problem with Irene Adler - and with evaluating sexism (or racism) in general. Context is important. A frequent straw man argument is "If the politically correct crowd1 gets our way, you'll never be able to write a character like (insert stereotype here) again."

It's bullshit. No work is an island. And Irene Adler's narrative arcs would simply be narrative arcs if any other constant female character on the series was even close to two-dimensional.2

That is the real challenge. Perhaps that's why it's so disappointing when people like Stephen Moffat say things like
"It's absolutely narratively possible (that the Doctor could be a woman) and when it's the right decision, maybe we'll do it. It didn't feel right to me, right now. I didn't feel enough people wanted it. Oddly enough most people who said they were dead against it - and I know I'll get into trouble for saying this - were women. (They were) saying, 'No, no, don't make him a woman!'" (source)

Seriously? The "I know a woman who says they don't want it, so it's okay?" SERIOUSLY?


Moffat - and for that matter, Davies before him - have done much to make the female (and LGBT and minority ethnicity) companions more than just a screaming damsel for the Doctor to rescue in the last several series. And while I can see Gaiman's point3 that a female doctor will be more narratively impactful after Capaldi4, there's still a pattern that needs to be broken.

The challenge now boils down to this: Keep giving us a wide range of strong, well-rounded characters of all genders. And we'll wait for the next regeneration.


1 And you know you're probably dealing with bigots when they start talking about people being "politically correct" these days.

2 Mrs. Hudson comes closest, but only due to one quip about her husband in series one and thirty seconds about Adler's phone. Poor Molly is a doormat, and Sgt Donovan is a short-sighted selfish cop who serves to be suspicious of Sherlock. Dr. Sawyer (the doctor who was John's girlfriend for two episodes)... well, you probably didn't remember her either, until I mentioned her, right? The fact that one has to start digging through Sherlockology is clue enough.

3 Most notably, I am cutting Gaiman some slack due to this quote: "[Having a female Doctor] would absolutely be on my list of things to do in the following regeneration. (I was the one who wrote the line about the Corsair changing gender on regeneration, in “The Doctor’s Wife" after all, and made it canon that Time Lords can absolutely change gender when they regenerate.)"  Since he explicitly is acknowledging the pattern and wanting to break it more meaningfully, I can respect that.  (I disagree, mind you.  He is equating femininity with youth instead of gravitas in that quote, and that's as much a bit of institutional sexism as anything else.)

4 I think it's so cute when people try to equate any actor's past performance with how they'll portray the Doctor. They're always so horribly, horribly wrong, it's adorable.

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Spark - A Flash Fiction

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And as tempting as it was, I did not quote Spike once here...


His cry echoed from the shattered wreckage of the car. "Nothing!"
His son shook his shoulders. "Dad, I called 911."
The man shook off the boy's embrace. "Those fools! They'll be too late!" He bent over againaudac, orange cables trailing from gloved hands to the car battery. "Too late, do you hear?"
"Dad. It won't - " His son broke off, sobbing.
"It must!" He leaned forward again - he'd lost track how many times - and sparks flew.
But as his wife's chest refused to move, as her heart refused to beat, Doctor Frankenstein refused to give up.

Please note that the 100 Word Story Podcast is changing URLS to http://oneadayuntilthedayidie.com/!
Based around Laurence Simon's weekly challenge for the 100 word-stories podcast. The player above should have the audio for this week; if it doesn't, you can find the audio here to download.
I am updating these in a podcast feed (dubbed "Radio Free Steven the Nuclear Man" by Laurence). You can subscribe with this link (http://feeds.feedburner.com/Ideatrash) in your podcatcher or phone. You can also read and hear the rest of the entries at the 100 Word Stories podcast site.

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The Pageviews Will Come: how to (and how NOT to) publicize your blog posts or anything else you write.

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Self-promotion is a difficult thing.  Especially when you're just getting started.

You don't know anyone.  It's horrible when you look at your pageviews and see that only your parents and maybe a few friends looked at the thing you spent so much time working on.  And let me tell you this right now: 

It takes time.  There are no shortcuts.

Let me show you two graphs - these are both for this blog.  One is pageviews (by week), and the other is RSS statistics.



There is a pretty clear trend.  The more I post, the more pageviews.  The more interesting, compelling, or otherwise interesting things I post, the more people read the blog.

You can also see that big spike in mid 2010 - that was when I got a lot of hits for the First Novel Survey analysis that I did for Jim Hines.  His post got a lot of traffic, and I benefited from that.  But it didn't make that much of a difference in the long run.

Yes, I get new readers from various places - the Carnival of the Indies, for example, or the SFWAAuthors twitter feed or the Digital Publishing G+ group.  But all of those are not promotion.  For me to get more traffic from any of those, I have to provide value to you.

And then you have people doing it badly.  I've commented on the indie author mistake of targeting fellow writers, but there's also a degree of class you must have in order to be relevant and have people keep coming back. It's the used car salesman versus the family dealership model.

People might click a link once (or buy a book once) due to a sleazy, scammy, spammy trick.  But only once, and they will never come back.

It can be useful to dissect where someone has done it poorly, and to see why that's so.  So I give you Craig S. Hughes.



This guy is talking about Hungry for Your Love, an anthology that my story "Kicking the Habit" appeared in.  Now, the review actually reflected something others said - the mix of horror and romance sometimes threw both romance readers and horror readers.  For other people, it worked really well.  The critical tone his article took toward the book is not the problem.

Problems with the above:
1.  As the editor (top tweet) got him to note, his "review" did not actually cover the content of the work. 
2.  He tweeted at as many people as possible in the anthology about the "interesting review".
3.  He didn't reveal that it was his review that he had written in the tweet.
4,  He didn't even credit all the authors - including at least one (me) that he'd tweeted at.

So I called him on it.


And really, that was the point that I was done.  Done with him and done with the site he wrote the article for.

Had at any point he'd said "Oh, crap, sorry about that" or even "I see your point" or even just "I hear what you're saying, but disagree", I might be linking to his review.  I might NOT be letting Nerdalicious know they've got an unrepentant spammer writing for them.  Heck, if he'd done it privately and just sent me an e-mail instead of defending his spamminess publicly, I might not be writing this post.

Instead, I'm using Craig S. Hughes as an example of how to never, ever market your work, whether it's a blog or a book.

Luckily for Mr. Hughes, the internet is a big place.  If he stops being defensive and listens to the critique, he will be able to fix his behavior and start writing good content.  And while the hits and pageviews start out low, they'll get higher and higher.

I wish him luck.  I really do.

But in the meantime, I won't be reading.

#SFWApro

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The Less-Obvious Way The Internet Is Changing Publishing

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For the second year in a row, I will be one of the judges for the Friday Flash Fiction contest at CONTEXT.  It was a real blast last year, and I'm really looking forward to it again this year.  You can find out more here: http://www.contextsf.org/program.htm




"In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king."

One of the things I keep running into as I grow and learn as a publisher is that "handshake deals" often mean "backstab deals".  Hell, apparently even a full-on legal contract isn't enough a lot of the time.

And that gets me thinking about public-key encryption.  (Yes, my brain works like that, don't judge me.) 

When you start dealing with encryption, you first have to have someone you trust.  They "sign" and vouch for the identity of someone else.  And they vouch for another person.  And so on.  (This is pretty accurate, but horribly simplified.)

In publishing - apparently - this isn't the case now.  And maybe hasn't been the case for quite some time.  Realistically, until the last decade or two it was difficult to put names and faces together.  An author (or editor, or artist) was just a name on a contract once you reached a certain level.

But that isn't necessarily the case now.

As I've mentioned, about a third of the people at GenCon's Writer Symposium are people I've actively worked with.  Raise that to "people I know" and you've got about half the Symposium who know who I am, what I do, and why I do it.

And they know people.  Add our actions, our relationships - and the speed of the internet - and suddenly we can build a web of trust.

This is another way - the slower way, the less sexy way - that the internet and easy communication will have an impact on publishing.

If you're known for taking shortcuts, for scamming, for treating people poorly, that will get known.

If you're known for treating people well, for respecting rights, for doing the (hard) right thing, that will be known too.

And that's awesome.

#SFWAPro

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