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Sunday, 27 April 2014

SELF-PUBLISHING. NO RIVALS HERE. AUTHORS AS COLLEAGUES: A REPORT FROM A FUGITIVE.

Recently, I took something I like to think of as TELEPHONE PAIN. It is often pointed out that I have no telephone skills. Oh, I'd have them if forced to make an emergency call.
   I'm a wordy cove,  with a liking for the runes. Sigils. Symbols. Those scribblings are the letters of the alphabet. They come in handy - especially in my line of work.
   Yes, I can deal with audio material when the mood takes me. Check out this FREE SAMPLE for an idea of what I mean. I'll wait here for you.

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Anyway, I am a writer and like to get things in writing. My default on the phone is #AWKWARD. I tend to listen, absorbing information, while giving out next to nothing.
   That's not a bad thing. The person on the other end of the invisible line may think otherwise.
   In Olden Times, when the streets were sepia-toned and one horsepower was thought sufficient, I had to carry messages by stick.
   These days, using the information super-traffic-jam, I use an electronic wand. E-mail does the job most of the time. If the computer accidentally sends the same e-mail repeatedly, that's neither here nor there.
   Occasionally, a telephone may be called for. Puns are nothing if not groan-inducing.
   And so I found myself lured to the internet with promises of cream cakes and a pleasant time in polite company. Was this likely? I thought not.

*

Thus was I dragged across a shady alley. Coshed and half-awake at a heathenish hour of the night, I wondered about cakes. Bundled into a cab that had seen better days and wealthier clients, I felt the speaking-tube drop into my hand.
   What the red wet fuck is this?
   Ambushed. (I toned down the swearing for this blog.)
   Kacey Vanderkarr invited me to discuss writing. She'd recently published a book. I'd just updated and republished my books. There was a lot going on behind the scenes in our publishing worlds.
   So Kacey offered a Skype chat as a quicker way of dealing with publishing topics. Quicker than using an e-mail. I'd been Skypejacked. Hijacked by Skype.
   Explaining I had no telephone skills, I was fobbed off with the comment that this was no telephone. Why, this was the computer. And she was right. So we talked on the non-phone and my non-skills came to the fore.

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For those who walked in late, Kacey Vanderkarr lives in the Grand Duchy of Michigania - in a place called Americaland.
   I live in Scotlandia, Realm of the Fantabulous, where the wild haggis threatens to rip the throat of the unsuspecting tourist: just as tax-heavy petrol prices threaten to rip the wallets of unsuspecting Americans.

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From an American viewpoint, Scotlandia is in the Misty East. Which gives the misty Scottish writer the misty short end of the misty stick, concerning time.
   What was early afternoon in wintry Michigan turned out to be the howling bat-strewn spring night across much of Scotlandia. I'd removed my watch as a precursor to heading for bed.
   Coshed and dumped in front of a hi-tech phone, I reasoned it best not to return for my watch - lest I discover the actual time of night.
   And so.
   Kacey and I entered into a transatlantic business conversation. Occasionally, her young son would interrupt with helpful advice on how to best defeat a snake or aid his mom with the dreaded workout.
   Her husband Jon floated by, using cat-like ninja skills to silently whittle logs into furniture. True story.
   And we had a business-meeting. Publishing was discussed. The writing of things. Cover design. Choices we make in publishing. Bullshit within the industry.
   Unfortunate things. Amazing items. Could we gang up on Amazon and force Amazon to change awkward stuff for us? The answer to that last one is a resounding YES.
   There's a place inside Amazon's Kindle bookshelf for contacting the mighty company. If enough authors write in on a certain topic, Amazon notices. Amazon investigates.
   True, Amazon may not be able to do a damn thing about the item under discussion. But at least the option for discussion exists. We shall test this now.
   Authors. As a body, I say unto ye...
   E-mail Amazon and see if Amazon will give all Kindle authors one free coffee. I'm not saying that's going to work. But I am saying authors should have a sense of humour about the job.
   Swearing also helps.

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Kacey and I discussed double-standards in Big Publishing. Sharp ways. Corner-cutting. Deviousness. Charlatanry. And the amazing fact that shit rolls downhill from big publishing houses into the laps of indie authors.
   What's sauce for the conventional publisher is denied the indie circuit. As an indie author, I recognise 53 varieties of that shit. I have written a monograph on the subject. Watson, if you would be so kind...
   Here's the thing. We don't care about that shit. The shit we care about. We're too busy having fun in the mud to notice the dung.
   Hey. At least I sparkle when I'm trashy.

*

Today I decided to advance myself a million dollars for a Kindle book I'll write one day. I can do that. In my mind. For I write fiction. That's an author-thing. Deal with it.
   I wonder if anyone takes the news of advance money seriously. It's in a newspaper. Look. News. From a publisher. The publisher has advanced a sexy author a six-figure sum for her first novel.
   Yawn. Publishing bullshit. Does anyone sit up and take notice of that guff?

Point one. Six is also a six-figure sum. So cut the bullshit and list the exact fucking number.

Second point? A publisher's idea of sexy as conveyed to and through a journalist does not sexy make.

Point three. The reading audience has no chance with that sexy author. If the entire reading audience has a chance with that sexy author, I'm guessing she sparkles when she's trashy. Unless she's just trashy.

Fourth point. Her first accepted novel. Maybe not the bog-roll-wad she wrote half a decade before.

Moot point. She doesn't earn the advance money in a lump. The company dishes the cash in homeopathic doses, over gelatinous time. Hurdles must be crested for the spreading of cash.

*

And so on. Publishing bullshit. Well, Kacey Vanderkarr took a business call and we ranted. But that isn't the point of contact with authors. We also exchanged hints and tips. Semtex is my explosive of choice. Kacey has a thing for axes in the woods.
   We outlined changing publishing plans. For we operate in a changing industry. At no time did Kacey share her secret sauerkraut recipe with me. For my part, I didn't mention that thing.
   You know. THAT thing. Just...no.
   In truth, at no time did we operate as rivals. There was much humour. And some astonishment at the extent of her husband's sofa-whittling skills.
   He should put in for the Olympics. Seriously. The Grand Duchy of Michigania is fielding its own team, next time out. I'm not saying that's secessionist. But it is.
   Kacey was more than happy to share the inside skinny on her top-secret publishing schemes. Maybe things would work out. At worst, she'd learn something didn't work for her. It could work for me, and was shared for that reason.
   We don't have secret recipes. As authors, our ideas are not unique. You can't copyright an idea. Anyone can write a killer lobster invasion romantic comedy.
   Killobinromcom.

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I feel I must apple-ologise to Canadian author Karen Woodward. Why? Good question. I don't know why. This blog post was set up over a period of days.
   In the section on blog labels, I've added Amazon Kindle, Kacey Vanderkarr, and Karen Woodward. Yet I have made no mention of Karen in the earlier section of this post.
   Now I've added Conan Doyle.
   I am sure I was building thematically to talking about Karen as a colleague. For those who came in late, Karen is from Canada. As a Canadian citizen, she is legally obliged to have her taxes done in Moose Jaw.
   Karen takes 31% of the blame for this blog, for she is the author, the colleague, who told me to write a blog. I may have invented that bit about Canadian taxes and Moose Jaw.
   Elk Elbow Lake sounds more like the place I had in mind.

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Sometimes, blog posts are fractured. This is one of those splintered articles. I've looked at changing publishing plans. This year, the plan is to have no plan. Take opporchancities as they come to me. And I've done that.
   I never imagined I'd be on the phone to Kacey, over in Americaland. (Mainly as a genuine phone conversation would have cost the same as a nuclear bomb. We cheated, and used Skype.)
   Brutal honesty? I never imagined I'd follow Karen Woodward's advice, and go blogging in the woods. I mean that in an internet sort of woodland sense.
   Whatever that means. Like a genuine stand of trees, but without wasting paper. It's all done electronically. Someone has to shout non-timber, every single time a Kindle book is published.
   Of course I have plans. Stay tuned.


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