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andrewducker November 20 2014, 11:00

Interesting Links for 20-11-2014

bloodredpencilr November 20 2014, 07:58

To Free or Not To Free


I recently attended the Novelists, Inc. (NINC) Conference in St. Petersburg, Florida. This conference is one of the few devoted totally to the business of publishing. Members are all authors who have published at least 2 books, and they're a savvy group. Industry professionals—editors, agents, lawyers, publishers, as well as representatives from the big e-tailers, aggregators, marketing experts, cover designers … well, it's a wealth of information sharing.

One topic that came up frequently was whether authors are "cheapening" the reader perception of what a book is worth by selling their wares for deeply discounted prices, or even—gasp!—giving them away. If you're an indie author, you have the right to set prices for your work that make sense for you. While traditionally published authors bemoan the $3.99 e-book, those indie authors are making more per sale than those with traditional, mass-market paperbacks. If you can attract readers to your series with discounted books, or free books, it might be worth a shot.

I've never been big on bouncing my prices around, but I had the opportunity to take part in a "First in Series Free" program at Kobo Books, and then another one at iBooks.Was I satisfied? Very much so. What I've learned:

First, not all channels permit indie authors to drop a price to free. To have a free book at B&N, you'd have to go through one of the aggregators, such as Smashwords, and since I prefer to hold control of my work, I don't use Smashwords to get to any of the major stores. I do use Draft2Digital to get my books to iBooks, because Apple has more hoops than I care to jump through. I also want my books everywhere they can be (something stressed as very important at NINC by everyone other than the Amazon reps), so I don't play the Amazon Select game. However, so far, Amazon has price-matched my free books, at least in the US and UK.

Free, or deeply discounted pricing--loss leaders--are marketing tools used across the board, not just for books. A lot of readers are willing to take a chance on a new author if they're not investing a lot of money. For the author, it's a discovery tool. For it to work, there are some caveats.

1. You have to have more than one book. Getting your first book published, then setting the price to free, might get you a blip in the rankings, but what happens when the readers finish the free book. Where do they go next? Not to another one of your books, because you don't have one.

2. Even better than several books: have a series. Offer the first one at a discount, or free, and if readers like it, they're going to want to continue reading that series because you've earned their trust. In fact, many best-selling indie or hybrid authors have their first books in their series perma-free.

3. Take advantage of sites that promote free books to get the word out beyond your own circles. BookBub is good, but it's a tough nut to crack. Others include eReader News Today, eBookSoda, The Fussy Librarian, and Bookli, and there are many, many more. There are blogs, Facebook pages, Genre-specific newsletters that exist to get the word out on free or discounted books.

What can you expect? In general, your sales spike at the beginning when your book is free. Sales will drop, but they'll level off at a higher rate than before the promotion. Only a teeny-tiny fraction of the people who grab your free book will even open it. But of the ones who do, and who finish reading it, about half will buy your next book. And that "halo effect" is what free can get you.

There's also the consideration of what your goals are. Boxed sets for 99 cents were/are popular, but the goal of the authors who participate is not to make money; it's to make a NYT or USA Today best-seller list so they can proclaim themselves best-selling authors. But that's a whole 'nother topic.

Deadly Secrets, A Maplton Mystery, by Terry Odell
For those of you who might be interested, Deadly Secrets, the first in my Mapleton Mystery series is currently free. You can find it at the iBooks store, Amazon, Kobo, and Smashwords. It's 99 cents at B&N.

What are your thoughts on free? On discounted books? Have you discovered authors and gone on to buy more of their books?

Terry Odell is the author of numerous romantic suspense novels, mystery novels, as well as contemporary romance short stories. Most of her books are available in both print and digital formats. She's the author of the Blackthorne, Inc. series, steamy romantic suspense novels featuring a team of covert ops specialists, the Pine Hills Police series, set in a small Oregon town, and the Mapleton Mystery series, featuring a reluctant police chief in a small Colorado town. To see all her books, visit her website. You can also find her at her blog, Terry's Place, as well as follow her on Twitter, or visit her Facebook page.
asakiyume November 20 2014, 07:04

pine needle coats

Here is a picture of Bethie and her grandmother raking pine needles, in their pine needle coats.

Except I forgot the buttons! And I made the picture too small, so I couldn't get fine details, so I had to draw in Bethie's features, so she looks like a doll with a painted face -_- But I was able to give them both acorn-knit hats.

pine needle coats
cassiealexander November 20 2014, 04:46

reached 40k! :D

Originally published at Cassie Alexander. You can comment here or there.

Pretty much hit it yesterday, up to 39,300 (did an amazing 5400 word sprint!) and then brushed up to 40k in The Hated today.

I should have written more and gotten further but a few things happened — someone side-swiped my car this AM *grump*, and then I hit a little bit of a brain wall. Since I’d been pushing it hard for over a week and coming up with some amazing wordcounts I figured it was better to take it easy on myself today and nap and catch up with Sleepy Hollow.

But then on my way back out to pick up my husband — I figured out how to climb the wall and What Happens Next And Then Next! through the end of the book. While I’m working the next four days (boooooo) I have some days off next week and I really think this draft’ll be done by the end of the month! :D Then it’ll be back to Electricity! :D

Also, I bit the bullet and commissioned a cohesive series cover theme for all three books in the series, so when book 3 comes out, all of them will look like they match. I’m really pleased about that :D.

Less so about getting up at 5:30 am tomorrow, however, which is prolly how early I oughta get up to make it to work on time with this first rain :(. Ugh. But oh well. 2 shitty commute days, and then a weekend of less crappy commute and then Thanksgiving week should be lighter all over, I hope :D

evandorkin November 20 2014, 04:21

Dark Horse Presents (vol 3) #4 In Stores Today

The title pretty much says it all, except that I have an eight-page stretch of Fun Strips in there.

Here's a preview of the issue, which includes one of my pages.

This appearance means I've been in Dark Horse Presents #4 twice, now, and in all four versions of the anthology (three print, one online). Crazy.

I think I forgot to mention on this here blog that Deadpool Classic vol 10 shipped from Marvel last week. The reprint collection includes the two Agent-X issues I wrote in 2003 (featuring Fight-Man) as well as the Fight-Man One Shot I wrote and penciled in 1993. The former has nifty art by Juan Bobillo and Marcelo Sosa, the latter looked like a purple, pink and green nightmare on newsprint in '93 and unfortunately looks even more garish and awful on glossy paper in 2014. In a happier world that loved me and Fight-Man more, it would have been recolored. But it's all together now, which is a surprise in and of itself, so if that appeals to you as a Fight-Man (and/or or Agent X) fan, then go get a copy or a digital thingie of it or whatever.

While I'm plugging stuff: Later this month the Hellboy: Weird Tales series Sarah and I contributed a story to gets the complete hardcover treatment. We also should be in the next issue of Mad Magazine after a long absence due to Eltingville Club-related business.

Speaking of being given the business, I've got roughly four pages of Eltingville #2 left to finish. Only one has a ridiculous crowd scene so I'm hoping they'll get knocked out fairly easily and somewhat quickly. The comic and the HC collection will be rescheduled sometime after I turn in the pages.

And after that, I will wander off like a whipped dog in search of paying work.

Wotta mess this has been.

You betcha.
lysana November 20 2014, 02:27

Thank you and a bit more

The welcome back is duly appreciated, believe me.

The single biggest reason I'm a homebody these days is the money. Specifically, the fact that two students can't afford a car. We borrow the in-laws' van on weekends and occasionally put gas in it or wash it as our contribution to its upkeep. Asking for the van during the week is plausible, but there are tensions associated with that. If the reason touches on the hot spots in our relationship that we otherwise Do Not Discuss, it gets hairy. By this, I mean either my religion, my sexual orientation, or my relationship orientation. Let alone if we ever wanted to, say, explore the local kink community. This effectively cuts us off from what would be our usual sources of friendships down here.

There are some weekend options, though. I tried out the local pagan circle and discovered I'm too used to the Bay Area's pagans. This crew was perfectly nice but not overtly friendly and nearly universally eclectic Wiccans. Their regular gatherings are what I'd call Paganism 101. Yes, I'd say I was spoiled rotten all those years (and I miss you all, yes, even you). I've toyed with the idea of attending the local Unitarian Universalist church and may act on that after I transfer to National. I'll need the people time. blackfyr is an introvert, so he's doing fine as we are. He does support my needs, though, so if I say we're going, we go. The UU pagans are likely to be similarly eclectic, but a church congregation's going to be larger than the pagan circle and so we may have better luck.

Fortunately for my sanity, I'm still on Second Life. Seven years of that and going quite strongly. I even did an essay for English 1a that defended the concept of an online social life as useful for those who are stuck at home and got a near-perfect score (195 out of 200, and yes, I remember that a year later, why? ;>). It mostly pays for itself with the DJing I do inworld since in-game currency converts to US dollars and what I earn covers the membership costs. I even have a few loving relationships that I keep up via SL, not to mention a newly acquired friend with benefits who must be awesome to his wife considering how good to me he has been so far.

We're also relatively close to an old friend of blackfyr's. He lives an hour and a half away, but that's close enough for the occasional road trip to kick back and socialize on a Saturday.

On a different note, I need to fix my mood icons. Unfortunately, I'd have to rebuild the ones I based on Two Lumps since the files are on a dead hard drive and we couldn't afford the hosting costs for the server. We found cheaper hosting but only after the files were lost. Back to a system set for now.

I could go on a riff about losing things and the move, but I don't think I want to on this post. At some point when I feel strong enough to discuss it, sure. Amazing how coming back here makes me want to pour out a few things. It's like I never left in that regard.
cmpriest November 19 2014, 23:49

Pull the blinds and change their minds

Today you get an evening post - for the kitty had an afternoon vet appointment, somewhat on the fly. A few days ago, I realized she'd suddenly developed some kind of cyst on her lower lip/jaw...a rather big one, much larger than the little sebaceous skin tags she's been known to develop. I'm talking about the difference between a grain of uncooked rice, and an M&M.

I tried to be cool and patient, and temporarily let it go - thinking maybe it was a kitty-zit or a small injury that'd go away. But it wasn't going away.

Maybe I overreacted, maybe I didn't. But she's getting on in years*, and she's been my little buddy for well over a decade. I worry. So I took her in to the fabulous Dr. Toumayan at the Chattanooga Cat Clinic**, where she's been going since we arrived back in Tennessee. (It is a most excellent clinic, for what it's worth. Can't recommend it enough.)

Long story short...Dr. T. drained the cyst and sent the results off for lab work, and in doing so, she actually got rid of it. She said the fluid was all clear, and she's optimistic that this is no big deal. I'm going to go ahead and be optimistic, too.

At present, the little monster is curled up next to me on the new heated throw I've added to the couch. She does not seem particularly traumatized by her visit, and she's smug about her electric night-time cuddles.

And here's today's progress on my modern gothic ghost story about a salvage crew trapped in a doomed southern mansion - now with a crunchy murder ballad center and Bonus! clandestine cemetery where the stones don't match the bodies (and were never meant to). As inspired by a (semi)true local legend:

    Project: The Family Plot
    Deadline: January 15, 2015
    New words written: 2124
    Present total word count: 72,805

    Things Accomplished in Fiction: Organized a plan of action from a day-job (salvage) standpoint; decided to lie to Dad; patched up a broken window, and did not see any ghosts while doing so. This time.

    Things Accomplished in Real Life: Neighborhood jaunt with dog; fretted a lot about the cat; made a routine doctor's appointment for myself; took care of a little writer business.

    Other: Fingers crossed for clean lab-work for a little old kitty, eh?

    Number of fiction words so far this year: 224,186

* We adopted her in February of 2002; at that time, she'd been at the shelter for over a year - and she'd arrived there as an adult, so her exact age is a little iffy. The vet at the time guessed she was perhaps 3-4 years old. At any rate, she's at least 15 years old...more likely, a little older than that.

** Yes Greyson and Spainy have different vets. The cat clinic only treats cats, natch. And the marvelous Allison Gussack at Vet2Go comes to our house to take care of the pooch. I recommend both docs equally, for they are both 100% awesome.
tithenai November 19 2014, 22:56

Review: "Without Faith, Without Law, Without Joy" by Saladin Ahmed

This week for Rich and Strange I review Saladin Ahmed's wonderful subversion of long-standing racism in Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene.

Here's a glimpse of it:

“Without Faith, Without Law, Without Joy” has a straightforward structure: using quotes from the Faerie Queene as a frame, it takes up and subverts each of the incidents involving the three evil Saracen brothers—Sans foy, Sans loy, Sans joy—who beleaguer Una and the virtuous Redcrosse Knight in Book I. Translating their names to Faithless, Lawless, and Joyless, Ahmed imagines that it is Redcrosse himself who is a wicked sorcerer, having stolen three brothers from their lives in Damascus and stripped them of their names and memories in order to make them enact a lurid pantomime for Redcrosse’s benefit and spiritual advancement.

This story is one that Ahmed has reprinted on Medium for free. If you enjoy it, I hope you'll consider supporting his work with a donation at the page.

In addition to this -- I'm in Lisbon! Very briefly, for my Glaswegian's dad's birthday. I've seen incredible things and eaten delicious food and gotten an astonishing amount of work done. At least, I'm astonished. Just one more story to finish and I can turn my thoughts back to ... More work! But different work?

This work, all of it, that so thoroughly permeates me and for which I am so grateful, this work of my thoughts and eyes and hands.

jimhines November 19 2014, 22:09

School Visit

I don’t do as many school visits as children’s authors and YA/MG authors do, but I occasionally get to stop by and chat with a class or a school. Today I got to go back to my old elementary school — the same school I attended in the late seventies and early eighties — and talk to two of the 4th grade classes.

We talked about the process of writing and revising and getting feedback and submitting your work. We talked about practice, and how nothing is ever perfect, and none of us are born knowing how to write. We made up stories about mummies that came out of the TV and a memory-sucking vampire that had lived in the ceiling of the school for the past thirty years. (In both stories, tragically, the teacher was the first to fall victim to these threats :-) )

It was a great deal of fun. I love talking writing with kids. There’s so much energy and enthusiasm and excitement. And sure, classrooms now have these weird Smart Boards that I never quite figured out how to use, but that’s okay.

Both classes had kids who were talking about wanting to write more of the stories we talked about, either rewriting them with their own ideas, or doing follow-up stories. And if a bunch of kids came out of those sessions feeling excited about writing and storytelling and creativity, I’m counting that as a win.

The box of chocolates they gave me as a thank you is a nice bonus ;-)

Thank you to Mrs. Huss’ and Mrs. Fulk’s classes for letting me spend some of the afternoon with you!

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

practicallyfame November 19 2014, 20:02

My tweets

storybones November 19 2014, 18:15

Linkee-poo gets a little smile when the pain comes


Jim Hines with some links on people speaking about writer gate.

Seventeen things former bullied kids do a little differently. I think they're a little too hopeful and haven't studied abusive behavior before. Yes to these things if you've actually come to grips with having been bullied and worked through a few hells to get to the point they think everyone is at. Unfortunately many bullied people have learned that attention comes from being a target. And many people become codependent on the bullies (which turn into seeking abusers for relationships when they're adults). (Grokked from Steven Gould)

A mechanical computer that does Fourier analysis. I think my brain just broke. (Grokked from Dan)

Want to own a house? Move to Ohio. Yea, that'll fix it. I live in one of those small blue dots, but I think they really meant to just highlight Youngstown/Warren. While I'm not house poor, it has affected our budget greatly, and we were fortunate to have a rich relative that could help. It's also a very small house. And have I mentioned how we get fewer sunny days than Seattle? (Grokked from John Scalzi)

"But I have to mention that parallel because I understand part of where Day is coming from here. She’s a gamer who loves gaming. I’m not a gamer, but I know what it’s like to see a movement you love and identify with get hijacked by hateful, amorphously aggrieved people intent on twisting the entire thing into an expression of their hate and indignation." Fred Clark on Felicia Day's speech about GamerGate and how similar feeling apply to his own course through life. Also, it's a great summation of the many reasons why I'm no longer a Republican.

"Of course, this does not mean that the press has a Republican bias, any more than it had an inherent Democratic bias in 2012 when Akin, Angle, and Mourdock led the coverage. What it suggests is how deeply the eagerness to pick a narrative and stick with it, and to resist stories that contradict the narrative, is embedded in the culture of campaign journalism." Ever notice how when there's one airline disaster or major problem, all of a sudden you hear about a lot of other problems happening all at the same time? Or, as it was noted on Making Light a few years back, whenever there is one major bus crash, all of a sudden you keep hearing about bus crashes, like they occur in groups. It's all about the narrative. (Grokked from the Slactivist)

"Jairo Gomez is 17 years old and lives in a tiny apartment in New York City with eight other family members. He has grown up in poverty, like one-third of all kids in the city. With WNYC's program Radio Rookies, Gomez tells the story of how poverty has held him back, and how he's trying to overcome it."

And a chart on why the poor can afford "nice things" that many affluent people like to point to as an example about how these poor aren't as poor as the poor were when they were growing up. (Grokked from Joe Hill)

Those states that went with Obamacare and expanded Medicaid/Medicare as proposed under the act look to see a 2% decrease in cost growth in Medicaid spending. Strange how that works. It's almost like Obamacare was designed to reign in healthcare spending by the state. (Grokked from the Slactivist)

"'If you were president and Congress would pass whatever you wanted, what would you do about the 5 million, the 12 million who are in this country illegally now?' (Mark) Halperin asked (Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS))." Look, ISIS, Ebola! Yea, nobody in the GOP can answer that question (or the "what would you replace Obamacare with") is because they don't actually have a solution. It's all about the "NO!" Forget actual governance. Eventually we get the "'We’re willing to sit down and negotiate and compromise, but we’re not going to grant amnesty,'" answer. This is the "we'll negotiate and compromise, as long as you do it our way" stance.

"'The findings suggest that, among conservatives, racial resentment may be a more important determinate of membership in the Tea Party movement than hard-right political values.'" I'm sure it's more about ethics in political journalism. Or something. Here I will note that the Tea Party has moved far beyond what many people thought they had joined and has been co-opted by the social conservative movement. I wonder if some of libertarian aquantances still consider themselves part of the Tea Party (when they all vehemently denied any racial motivation, but were always unable to answer my questions of why they weren't fighting the dismantling and evasion of the Constitution under the previous administration - actually many were very much in the "Pro-Bush" camp during those 8 years). (Grokked from the Slactivist)

kylecassidy November 19 2014, 17:20

My Philcon 2014 Schedule

Hey folks! I'm Guest of Freaking Honor at the 2014 Philadelphia Science Fiction Convention this weekend (November 21-23rd).

Here's my schedule. I'd especially like it if women cosplayers would show up to "Cosplay Photography: Doing it Right" so that we can get your perspective. The panel is photographer heavy. I'd like to hear people's experiences. Also, it would be nice if people came to my Guest of Honor talk on Saturday.

Sat 11:00 AM in Plaza VI (Six) (1 hour)

[Panelists: Kyle Cassidy (mod)]

A quick, hour-long workshop with Philcon's Special Guest,
photographer Kyle Cassidy. You may want to bring a camera

Sat 1:00 PM in Plaza III (Three) (1 hour)

[Panelists: Tony Finan (mod), Kyle Cassidy, Raven Stormbringer, Kyle
Williamson, Pam Smith]

So, you're at a con, you see a great costume, and you'd like to get
a picture of it... how do you do that without infringing on the
costumer's personal space or time? We'll talk about what both
photographers and costumers can do

Sat 2:00 PM in Grand Ballroom A (1 hour)

[Panelists: Kyle Cassidy (mod)]

Sat 3:00 PM in Autograph Table (1 hour)

[Panelists: Kyle Cassidy (mod)]

Sun 12:00 PM in Grand Ballroom A (1 hour)

[Panelists: Kyle Cassidy (mod)]

Photographer Kyle Cassidy has worked with a number of popular and
respected writers and artists, such as Neil Gaiman, Amanda Palmer,
Elizabeth Bear, Emma Bull & Caitlin R. Kiernan. He will speak about
how to work with other talented artists to create new and great

Sun 2:00 PM in Crystal Ballroom Three (1 hour)

[Panelists: Rob Balder (mod), Kyle Cassidy, Neil Clarke, Gail Z.
Martin, Gary McGath]

How successful is it? What is the impact of crowd-funding on
publishing in general

Add me: [LiveJournal] [Facebook] [Twitter] [Google+] [Tumblr] [Ello]
shadesong November 19 2014, 16:46

Oh, Bash.

Bash, whose nickname is Murder Cat, apparently has a corneal ulcer caused or exacerbated by ocular herpes!

Yeah fun.

The kitty opthalmologist said he's almost certainly had flareups in the past; we adopted him at age 12, so... *shrug* He has some thinning of his cornea and may develop cataracts, poor giant jerk kitty.

He has a lot of medications.

* Serum eyedrops 4-6 times a day.
* Ofloxacin eyedrops 4-6 times a day.
* Terramycin ointment applied directly to the eye 3-4 times a day.
* Atropine ointment applied directly to the eye once a day.
* Buprenex in his mouth twice a day.
* Lysine chews twice a day.

If you see me this week, hug me. And bring band-aids. Because medicating him is exactly as fun as you think it is.

(Also, DAMN, $600 in the past few days for this cat.)

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