domingo, 22 de febrero de 2015


I was checking some things of late and one of my pet peeves resurfaced.

You see, I love the works of David Weber, of Elisabeth Moon, of John Ringo. Of many others, but I'm going to use them as an example. Also, bear in mind that I'm a Spaniard. Religion is way different, here, even when mainstream. Ib est, Roman Catholic. No other "mainstream". That alone explains a lot (so do the Reconquista, the Crusades, or the fact that the Spanish Inquisition was the best someone accused of witchcraft could hope for, back then, or...).

My point is that I haven't read a single believable conversion... ever? Can't recall, for sure. Again, some of it is that religion is much more private, usually, here. Even in family. We've seen what certain arguments lead to, and... we keep to ourselves. Mostly. Banners and ads on buses are... weird, for us, and so are religious TV stations... OTOH, the Catholic church has several privileges that, sometimes, the other congregations manage to reach (slots on TV, tax incentives...).

Anyhow... I was saying that I can't find believable conversions. Paksenarrion's, or Bahzell's, or... even John Ringo's Queen of Wands, while sort of ecumenical (with a very wide definition of that term) resorts to use the same kind of "magic wand" conversion... with a whole nation, instead of an individual. The only atheist I've seen of late that has more than a token presence is Brad Torgersen's (AFAIK, devout Christian himself), and he manages it by shunting him aside from the religious experience. Then... there's a conversion in one of those stories, and it IS painful.

Paks and Bahzell? They trade their faith. Or, rather, their god buys their service.

Now, I understand that conversion is difficult to write, specially if you've never been through it. It changes your entire worldview, your sense of self... How can you explain what was before, what was during, from after the fact? Okay, they're difficult. But then, don't write them, wave a wand, and pretend that I have to believe that people in fantasy settings with day-to-day evidence of gods go from "no, really not my thing" to fucking paladins in a handful of pages.

Then you have D&D-religion and teams. Some people blame Tolkien for the modern Fantasy novel. While he was the spark, I think the blame is Dungeons. Because there's a hefty difference between the epic sagas of Tolkien, G. R. R. Martin, Jordan... and the icosahedron of deities and alignments that spans hundreds of stories and books. There's seldom a fantasy world with monotheistic religions, and yet, those systems manage to hold many opposing polytheistic beliefs. For millennia.

In fantasy? Opposing light/dark pantheons (sometimes with a middle-ground, sometimes not) of more or less joint gods. Bronze-age wars dressed in middle ages fervour and technology.

Who manages to do something about religious wars without resorting to that? Why is it that Eric Flint's name, socialist, comes first to my mind? Mother of Demons, mainly, but, of course, his Ring of Fire series, too (although he's "cheating", there, the way he uses, well, real wars of religion... and late XXth century US-American ideas of religious freedom).

And don't get me started into adventuring... sorry... into travel parties. Mage, warrior, thief and healer; the later sometimes meshed with the earlier ones.


Take care.

sábado, 21 de febrero de 2015

The monkey in writing

Note that I very specifically didn't say "the monkey writer".

There's a meme in self-protection circles about "the monkey driving the bus", originally stated by a certain Marc MacYoung, then jointly explored further with Rory Miller, among others.

Picture, since this is about stories, the monkey tribe from The Jungle Book. Disney's depiction is better, this once. All those angry monkeys upset because they're right, dammit! People work a lot like that. They set up a group, they they get angry when someone questions that group. Fans when "their" writer touches "their" characters, for example.

TradPub advocates when "their" models is put in question.

Independent writers when they defend things that were a mortal sin when TradPub did it. Or still does.

The danger I see is that the corollary for this is that you need to "other" the opposite side. In this case, readers. Who just happen to be your customers. When you "other" someone, you can dismiss (even alter) his logic, the relevance of his experience...

That's goddamn dangerous when those people are the ones who're paying you and there are a myriad of suppliers (which is kind of the whole point of the Indie Revolution [TM] ).

Take care. Nothing else to add.

viernes, 20 de febrero de 2015

Visibilty. Indies as special ones

It's been a weird week, book wise. After last weekend's round-up, I realized there were several writers I was trying to reach that had put some weird difficulties along the way. Some of them were kind of expected, some of them reinforced something I've been seeing for a while.

Writers with the same reflexes of the Big 5 but with the extra "glamour" of the New Indie.

Because when the Big V follow certain practices, they're antiquated, old dinosaurs hiding their heads under the sand while extinction approaches. When an article calls on certain practices... it's about Big 5. Never mind that I can show examples of indies at every single step of that article. No, no... they have Reasons. My data is a bunch of anecdotes (it is), but their experience and their friends responses are Data.

If a Big 5 publisher doesn't provide links to its products on other retailers, he's being stupid.

If an indie is not providing links to its products on other retailer than, usually, Amazon (not only, not by far), he's being... thoughtful.

The sad part is that with the old system, writers might be commodities, but they were few. Right now, there are a LOT of writers. And increasing. Limit yourself, limit your readers, and another writer will come. Your fans may follow you, or not, the rest... will be gone.

Because these days we can choose.

And it matters not that I propose certain logic steps, than other writers chime in, that this has been said for a "long" (internet) time in certain blogs. No; writers will sell were they sell. But they leave no sensors behind, they know not how much they might sell where they don't. Which is something I could understand when you have half a dozen stories. When you have 40 book titles? Give other channels a chance.

Because I'm getting tired of looking for people who won't let themselves be found.

Take care.

domingo, 15 de febrero de 2015

AE lite

Just for comparison, a couple of things. Following a writer's article on her tax returns, I just did some math. That last chart? Let me assume that it's 25-75 distributed. I don't have the data, but it's certainly more drastic than 30-70 (which would be bad enough).

With the article's data on hand, 9 tradpubs vs. 6 indies, and assuming equal distribution in each category, that writer is making about 3% (a tad less) of her income with each tradpub book... and 12.5% from each indie. 4 times as much.

This about matches some calculations I did on my purchases these past two weeks. I spent some 30+ EUR on ebooks. Had it been traditional, that would have given me two books (one and a half, with some publishers). Two writ... authors would have won a foothold in my house, a spearpoint into other people's buying habits, in addition to mine. And 5.67 EUR in royalties if they had a truly good contract.

With indies and small publishers, I got several bundles (some at around 2€/book; some at half that for the whole bundle), several writers I plan to follow (and I'm already doing that)... and even in those 0.99 cases, a total of 17.65€ for their writers.

But, of course, we've always known that indie paid better. But traditional had the publicity, the marketing, the push...

I don't want to draw false correlation, but you'll notice that the numbers are in similar neighbourhoods. About 3x-4x the income for indie.

Take care.

sábado, 14 de febrero de 2015

Discovery, proceeds and greed-reflex

I got a... mite upset, this morning, when I found some books. I had followed some writer's site out of Passive's comments, found several books she recommended, and I was seeing if I could buy them.

Turns out I can't-won't. I could technically manage to, but I'm not going to fight Amazon's disaster of a download interface (or format; why can't they use epub perplexes me), nor am I going to be charged some 25% extra for books I was curious about. And that doesn't even account for those prices too high even originally.

I don't need those books; I didn't even know they existed when I woke up this morning. But the writers managed, by tying themselves to certain marketing ideas, to turn a curious reader into a pissed one. To turn whatever they might (or not) lose from exchange rates and taxes into a total loss of a sale they won't ever make (plus lost mouth-to-ear advertising), now. Those who had other venues... well, the only one with a decent price had DRM. Let's just say I'll break your book's spine before I let it install DRM in any computer of mine.

Half a dozen writ... authors lost a sale, a penetration point into several circles of readers, because they ticked boxes and followed along. They didn't think.

By comparison, this month I've so far spent some 30+ EUR in indie / small pub ebooks. Will likely reach 40 before the weekend's over. Several of those were through bundles. Either cheap-o-matic 0.99 bundles or things through Story Bundle. In the worst case, those 0.99 books had writers pocket their stamped-sized share of the price of books I'm interested in, part of a series, and something I'll likely follow. Not much, but something and a foothold in my mindspace.

Kobo just suggested a book (crappy algorithms they have). A 20+ EUR Penguin ebook. Their chances? Nil. But if I had bought that book and a 12 EUR book somewhere else a writer might have pocketed around 5.67 EUR. Those writers I've bought these days got 17.65 EUR (minus banking expenses).

That's the power of indie. check the last chart here and realize that she's got 50% more books in traditional than in indie. That's about what transpires from AR reports. Indie really works better for writers.

But don't be a jerk and alienate readers you didn't have. And now won't.

Take care.

viernes, 6 de febrero de 2015

Profit and ebooks

I asked a program panel recently with 2 literary agents, 2 publishers, and an editor whether we’ll see any more print-only deals in the traditional market, or whether new companies will arise that fill that niche by offering print-only deals.

They all said: NEITHER. They said print isn’t profitable enough anymore for a company to be interested in print-only rights, and it won’t happen.

Whether that’s accurate or not, it certainly seems to represent present thinking to a fairly wide degree among publishers and “industry professionals.”

Laura Resnick

Publishers don't seem to quite make their decision WRT ebooks. On one hand, they're the next best thing since bookbinding. On the other, they're second-best. If that.

They can't seem to decide what mindset guides their decisions. If it is the cultural one, the one that publishes only the very best, that sells properly edited, typeset and bound books that reach their reader in a pristine state; or the commercial one, the one that publishes things like Snooky, The Idiots' Guide to Getting Laid and... ebooks.

A "traditional" writer, on the ways New York can't publish to the market.

Too long publishing to themselves. Too long absorbing publishers and catalogues and not making the mindset change. When you buy another corporation you don't only get a product line and employee redundancy, you get a culture. When you grow, you get a culture. They've grown, but they've discarded their smaller cultures. They grown... old. In the way some people grow old and retreat into the good ol' times when everyone did things like they liked. Instead of growing up, they grow flat. Stodgy, unmovable.

And the thing is that times have gone critical. And when a critical event comes, you have to make up your mind, fast. In the right mindset for the situation. A cop facing a crisis on the street and a social worker facing that same person have different tools, different troubles to address. A social worker who used to be a cop? He better decide what he is, right now, and fast.

Ebook or print?

Take care.