epublishing

What’s in My Toolbox

For my ERWA blog posting this month, I’m going through the tools I normally use while scribbling out my smut stories. I’ve discovered that there are ways to save money, yet not scrimp on performance or capability.

Philosophy

The traditional way to publish a book involves the use of editors to proof your manuscript, graphics designers to create a cover, and a publishing house to put it all together. In a perfect world, this is the way to go, but unfortunately most of us live in the real world.

Assuming that our story sells for $2.99 or $3.99 and we have a 70% margin, then your profit from a $3 book is $2, and a $4 book is $3. I’m using rounded figures here and know this isn’t strictly correct.

For a cover, let’s assume a price of $50 to $200 per cover. In terms of sales this translates to 25 sales at $50/cover or 70-100 sales at $200/cover. The painful truth that most of us quickly learn, your sales on an erotic story will be slim. Then you have to ask yourself, how long will it take until my new story is in the black or when you stop bleeding money?

Until you become rich and famous or have a spouse who doesn’t pay a lot of attention to the credit card bill, the average beginning smut writer can’t afford the luxury of hiring outside help.

Getting your foot in the door can be a pricy first step unless you are willing to do the grunt work yourself. Designing a cover is not that hard if you are reasonably competent, and using inexpensive or free tools can get you started. Certainly a professional graphics designer or copy editor can do a better job, but I don’t think you should drive yourself into the poor house doing it.

Make sure that you join our group of talented people who write erotica. They can offer a lot of advice to both new and seasoned writers. Erotica Readers and Writers Association (ERWA) has been around for many years and should be high on your list of blogs to follow. https://erotica-readers.com/blog/

Hardware

I’ve always been a PC person and generally considered those who had drunk the Kool-Aid to be under the influence of Steve Jobs, even from the grave, but not any longer. Like many, I’ve been seduced and taken a bite out of the forbidden Apple. Like Adam and Eve, who just ran around naked in the woods and screwed all the time until they succumbed to the forbidden fruit. They took a bite of the Apple and found themselves outside the fence.

In 2012, when I first started writing porn, I realized that I needed a laptop that I could take to the bathroom when I had one of those urges. I have purchased three Ultrabooks or thin, light PC laptops for the successful executive on the go. Every time I bought one, I quickly realized that they were not very good. Buyer’s remorse quickly set in as I discovered their shortcomings.

The problems I discovered centered around a couple of necessary features for me. Touchpads under Windows sucked, and many people are plagued with “ghost” touches. The touchpad would do things by itself and drove me crazy. This is a common problem, and many users complain about it.

I finally figured out how to stop the problem, but by this time, I had moved on to my MacBook Air. Others have suggested that I use a mouse to eliminate the issues, but then you have to lug the mouse around and deal with it.

The other problem is battery life and performance with Windows laptops. If you don’t get a good CPU like an i7 processor, performance sucks. Battery life is always measured in a few hours. Manufacturers boast 8-10 hours of run time, but they typically lie. When you can only get maybe 3-4 hours, you’re as bad as someone with an iPhone. You walk around with the charger cord in your hand, looking for an outlet.

Foxy uses an iPhone 8S with 256 Gig of ram and constantly has it plugged in and complains about battery life. For a thousand-dollar phone, I’d expect more, but that’s what she wanted and who am I to complain. I’ve learned to just hand over my credit card and close my eyes. What I don’t know won’t hurt me.

My love affair with Apple started in 2012 with my purchase of a 2012 MacBook Air, which only has an i5 processor, but you’d think there was an i7 under the hood. As a touch typist, the MBA’s keyboard is the best I’ve ever seen. My mistakes dropped like a rock, and once I got used to the differences between the PC and Mac operating systems, I’ve never looked back, mostly.

In 2015, I upgraded to a new model MBA with 8 Gb of ram and gave my old Mac to Wifey. It works well with her iPhone and saves me a lot of time dealing with Mac to PC problems. My new Mac was just like the old one except for twice the memory. To be honest, I’ve never noticed any problems with the previous Mac’s 4 Gig of memory, but I’m a sucker for new stuff, especially if it’s shiny.

I’ve got money in my bank account for my writing and have been thinking about upgrading, but the new style keyboard scares me. My 2015 Mac is doing well, and I’ve been thinking about swapping out the 256 Gb hard disk for a 1-Tb disk, which is pretty reasonable. Not that I need it, but it would be something new.

One other neat thing about the MBA is that it boots instantly when you raise the lid and doesn’t drain the battery like a Windows laptop does. Fast Start is turned on by default, and that means when you power off, you don’t really power off but enter a hybrid state that allows the computer to boot faster. The downside is that the laptop is constantly using power and will rarely go more than two days without exhausting the battery. My Mac will go for several weeks at least by just closing the lid, with minimal battery loss.

But I have found that there are reasonable alternatives for those who like the Windows operating system. A couple of years back, they took away my work Toshiba laptop and gave me an iPad, which works for 95% of my needs when I’m away from my desktop PC.

A few months ago, I was running a test and needed a PC for the field. Our IT department loaned me a Lenovo business laptop, and I promptly fell in love. It has an older style keyboard that is a joy to type on. It reminds me of my old Dell keyboard, except this one doesn’t clack when you type on it.

The Lenovo is not as skinny and light as a modern Windows ultrabook but is not bad. It probably weighs a pound or so more than my MacBook Air but still not objectionable. Looking through refurbished laptops on Amazon, I discovered that I could buy a 4 year old Lenovo T450s for $315 used and rebuilt with Windows 10 Pro installed.

I’d never bought a used laptop before but liked the one at work so much, I sprung for the unit. It has an i7 processor, 250 Gb solid-state hard disc, and 4 Gb of ram. The unit is probably 4 or 5 years old but looks perfect. Naturally, both of the batteries had degraded to about 75% of new, and I ordered replacement batteries for the unit. While I had the back off, I added 16 Gb of ram to bring the unit up to 20 Gb of ram.

Now I have about $450 invested in the unit with new batteries and lots of ram. I consider this a better alternative than spending almost $2 grand on a high-end laptop. Plus, this thing has huge batteries and will run all day without requiring a charge.

I prefer my MacBook Air as it is lighter and has a phenomenal battery life. The Mac operating system is a form of Unix (Linux) and is more efficient than a Windows computer. On top of that, when you open the lid, the sign-in window shows up instantly. Even if you let it sleep overnight, the boot time is maybe 10-15 seconds, which blows my Windows 10 Pro laptop completely away. Unfortunately, some of the engineering software I use is only available on a Windows machine, so I flip back and forth as needed.

If you are on a tight budget and you need a computer, take a look at refurbished units. I’ve have been pleased with my used computer, and if you grab something with an i7 processor, it will be plenty fast even if it’s a few years old. Make sure you get a solid-state hard disk.

Less expensive laptops are available, such as a Chrome unit, but often have limitations and are slower than a more top of the line unit. By purchasing a used business-grade laptop, I get a unit that is durable and provides power and capability at a reasonable cost.

Word Processing Software

I use Microsoft Word for word processing, but it can be expensive. Now the new Microsoft Office 365 is just a rental that costs you about $120 per year. Renting software pisses, me off and I refuse to upgrade as I want to own the software. Depending on which computer I’m using, I run Office 2016 or 2019, but there are cheaper alternatives.

LibreOffice is a good free alternative that is available for both PCs and Macs. It’s virtually identical to Word, that is except for the Free part! LibreOffice comes with an office suite like Microsoft Office. https://www.libreoffice.org/

I’m also experimenting with Scrivener, which a lot of people like. You can buy it for either PC or Mac for about $50 each. They are beta testing the new Windows version, and you can download the beta version for free until they come out with the final release. If you are running Windows, it’s a good way to grab a word processor for free and will only cost you about $50 sometime in the future, if you like it. https://www.literatureandlatte.com/

Scrivener is kind of cool in that each chapter can be a separate document and allows the writer to deal with a story in parts, yet the software bundles everything together to output. You can also export to Word format to publish. It will publish to electronic book formats, but I’ve haven’t been that adventuresome yet.

Scrivener is a total solution to publishing by giving a writer the ability to build a completed manuscript from the parts, such as cover, front matter, body, and back matter. Plus, it can be set up to publish to different formats with a compiler option.

I’m writing the follow up to House Party, called cleverly House Party 2, using Scrivener, which has been an interesting challenge. There are enough differences to make the program different from Word, and I’m still not sure if I’ll like it going forward but am a glutton for punishment.

Graphics Processing

Having some good graphics tools are a requirement for the Indie writer, in my opinion. While an author can outsource the creation of the cover to a graphics artist, that cost can be difficult to make up with sales.

To replace PhotoShop try GIMP, which is very close to PhotoShop except being free. Download a copy at https://www.gimp.org/

To design your covers, give InkScape a try. InkScape is similar to CorelDraw but free and not hundreds of dollars. https://inkscape.org/

Another good one is Canva, an online cover designer. It’s somewhat limited as you have to pick a template and change it to your story’s details, but it’s free. https://www.canva.com/create/book-covers/

For resizing images, you can’t beat IrfanView, https://www.irfanview.com

To convert document files to ePub, MOBI, or PDF, grab a copy of Calibre. https://calibre-ebook.com/

All the software mentioned above is free and can be downloaded from the Internet. Certainly, commercial software will likely have a few more bells and whistles, but for the struggling artist they can fit your needs. I use mostly open-source (free) software except for a couple, but I pay the bills, and Foxy doesn’t have to bother her pretty little head about where our money goes!

Addendum 2019-10-26 – Mom always told me that if I kept on playing with myself, I’d go blind. I’ve always said, I’d just do it until I needed glasses! I now think it’s affected my brain as I missed a couple of things that are not really associated with writing smut but I consider necessary.

NAS Drive – If you have a network at home, which most of us with cable do, you should invest in a Network Attached Storage (NAS) device with RAID. A NAS drive is similar to the USB portable drives people use to backup or store important files such as pictures and videos from your wife’s first gangbang. A NAS drive will have an RJ-45 network jack that looks like an oversized telephone jack (you remember those don’t you?).

Plugging it into your router or a switch if you have a wired network, will allow backups from any device connected to your home wifi or network. The trick is to get a NAS drive with RAID 0. RAID means that the storage device has two physical hard disks inside that are the same size. With RAID, saving a file to the NAS drive means that the unit automatically writes a copy to the second hard disk. The non-techy explanation is there are two copies to every file, stored on different hard disks. So unless the unit is destroyed with a hammer, it’s virtually impossible to lose files if the hard disk crashes. Always remember, it’s not if a hard disk will fail, it’s when the hard disk is going to fail.

If a hard disk fails on the NAS drive, just unplug the bad hard disk and plug in a new disk of the same size or bigger. The NAS drive will automatically format and use the new hard disk by copying all the files from the original drive to it. This takes a few days as it’s done in the background but the drive will continue to work normally.

NAS drives are not cheap but what’s your data worth? I have a Qnap T-420 which holds 4 hard disks. I’ve currently got 2 – 2Tb and 2 – 4Tb drives in it. Using RAID the capacity of the unit is half the installed storage, so in my case, I have a 2 Tb file system for my writing and personal records and a 4Tb drive for scanned images and video. I also store my pictures from my DSLR and our cell phones there.

FastCopy – I use the FastCopy shareware software to backup my files from my desktop and laptop computers. FastCopy is supposed to be the fastest copy utility around and it only copies files that have changed or are new. It skips the existing files so you can just tell FastCopy to copy from folder to folder, which just takes a few clicks. I write batch files and put them on my desktop to backup my computers. The site to download from is partially in Japanese but with a little head-scratching you can figure out how to download an English version. https://fastcopy.jp/en/

Crystal Disk Info – This handy little utility will read the status of your attached hard disks and tell you if any are having problems. When you run it, it will scan all of the connected disk drives and display the health status of each. If you start seeing warning messages, immediately buy a replacement drive and copy the files to the new drive. Typically, you never get warnings when your hard disk is having problems as it will retry to read a bad sector until it manages to get the data. But then one day, it cannot and you are typically history at that point. By watching the Power On hours and if the status changes from good, then you’re okay. A rule of thumb that I use is to replace an external USB hard disk at around 12,000 run hours or an internal at 18,000 – 20,000 hours even if you don’t see problems. These days an 8-Tb USB drive is about $150 so it’s not that expensive to swap them out. A good 4-Tb internal drive is about $85 also. https://crystalmark.info/en/

Sorry, I didn’t think about those at the time I was writing my monthly blog issue but feel that these are also important.

That’s it for this month, and follow me for more ramblings from the dirty mind of Larry Archer. My personal blog is https://LarryArcher.blog.

How to Become a Millionaire Writing Erotica

by Donna George Storey

I’m always amused when I see erotica writing workshops that advertise the potential for big money in our genre. More power to those who’ve gotten rich, and there are some out there, aren’t there, E.L. James? But most of us are doing this for love and the occasional check for the amount of a modest family dinner at the local Thai restaurant (without the tip).

Actually, I tend to take a familial attitude toward my writing, as if my stories and novels are my children and deserve my best, if imperfect, efforts at nurture and support. Two recent columns here, Lisabet Sarai’s “The Care and Feeding of Your Back List,” and Elizabeth Black’s “Preparing for the Publication of a New Novel” reminded me that I have not been as attentive a parent as I should be.

Namely, I have several dozen previously published short stories in my archive that I would like to re-issue in themed ebook collections. I managed to drum up the energy to find a new publisher for my novel, Amorous Woman, when I got the rights back from the original publisher, but I haven’t gotten it up to move beyond a list of tables of contents for my collections. But Lisabet is right. I should be doing more for these “children” in the digital age.

Part of my reluctance can be explained by Elizabeth’s thorough list of what an author needs to do to promote her work. I’ve been down that path for my novel. It was exhausting, even though I did meet some wonderful people and had some very cool adventures. But how do you promote collections of previously published short stories? And won’t they all just be relegated to the erotica desert on Amazon?

With the New Year close at hand, I figured this is a good time to resolve to do something this year with my back list, but I am wary of the realities of publishing. Larger publishers are prestigious, but in my experience, they’ve dropped the ball on promotion and take a much larger cut of the proceeds, even if I could get their interest (highly unlikely).

My preference would be a smaller publisher, but there are horror stories out there about author abuse and publishers melting into the dew, resulting in a hassle to get the rights back. Then there is self-publishing which takes the stress from the submission process and puts the responsibility for promotion all in one place.

No one said this is easy, but… is there any erotica writer out there who’s been happy with her choices? What do you think about the trade-off between a small publisher or self-publishing? I really would love to dialogue with my fellow erotica writers about these choices in the current market. It seems the pro’s and con’s are changing every day. Erotica publishing is not at all what is was when I started writing in 1997 (when Libido and Yellow Silk were still around) nor when I reached a peak of output in the mid-2000s (Bay-Area-based Cleis, Seal, Best Mammoth Erotica, Best American Erotica and Clean Sheets).

It is so valuable to share our experiences of publishing, especially in terms of how the reality is very different from the dream of publication as a path to validation and riches.

Although come to think of it, some of the most validating moments of my life have been when a reader tells me she loved one of my stories. That’s worth millions to me.

Wishing you all a happy, productive and creative New Year!

Donna George Storey is the author
of Amorous Woman and a collection of short
stories, Mammoth
Presents the Best of Donna George Storey
. Learn more about her
work at www.DonnaGeorgeStorey.com
or http://www.facebook.com/DGSauthor

Who’s Destroying “Literature”—Agents, Readers or Writers Themselves?

by Donna George Storey

They say you have to have a provocative title to get eyeballs, but I couldn’t seem to come up with anything involving Fifty Shades of Grey this month and still keep my self-respect. Yet we all know there’s been a seismic shift in publishing over the past years, and few are certain where we’ll be when the rubble is cleared away.

Let’s face facts, “literature” and publishing are not what they used to be. Or at least not what I thought they were supposed to be as an undergraduate English major, dutifully paying homage to the Great Authors in my literature classes and paying somewhat more cynical, but nonetheless respectful, homage to the Possibly-Great Contemporary Authors who came down from New York to teach creative writing classes one afternoon a week.

Back in those golden days, being published meant your work was chosen by an eminent publishing house, carefully shaped by an expert editor, lovingly shepherded to market, and eventually taught to dewy-eyed undergraduates as a deathless example of the heights to which human creativity could climb.

I started publishing my more-or-less-literary work in 1997 when the vestiges of that old mirage were still quivering in the desert air, but I quickly learned that when your work is published, most (all?) authors, get a different view of the matter. Simply put, publishing is about making money, and any artistic value is secondary. Case in point: Fifty Shades of Grey.

Is anyone to “blame” for this turn from our higher nature toward the baser rewards of profit? Whether you see an impersonal historic force at work or prefer to find mustache-twirling villains, it’s always entertaining to point fingers. Onward to the first culprit.

Villain #1: The Agent

A literary agent is the traditional gatekeeper to elite publication. In the fantasy version, she or he selects talented new authors from the hopeful queries s/he receives, becomes best friends with said authors, and loyally supports their inevitable enshrinement in the literary canon.

In reality, of course, agents take a percentage of their clients’ earnings and thus, to make a living, need clients who actually earn something. A friend recently took a query-writing workshop from a relatively successful agent and came away with an interesting lesson. Agents care far less about the synopsis of your novel than your “platform,” or what you can contribute to profits through your established reputation, professional connections and marketing savvy. 

Agents are said to like “comparables”—that is a comparison to commercially successful works as in “My novel is a cross between the Bible and Fifty Shades of Grey” or “Harry Potter, Twilight and Pride and Prejudice.” This, of course, encourages a highly conservative approach to choosing clients. If everything must be comparable to a previous commercial success, where is the room for something different? Hollywood since Jaws gives us the answer… nowhere.

Still one can’t help but pity literary agents, whose jobs are clearly threatened by the Internet. Publishers Weekly recently posted an announcement from HarperCollins to the effect that they are starting a “digital-first” imprint to publish “new authors of visionary and transformational fiction” (like Fifty Shades of Grey?). This imprint, HarperLegend–a poignantly hopeful name–is open to unagented manuscripts, although the publishing house affirms it still deals mainly with the agented kind. But, really, why not hire more young college graduates to mind the slush pile and cut out the middlewoman?

Agents may deserve some blame for the death of the value of art over money, but like it or not, at least they’re going down with the ship.

Villain #2: The Reader

In my research for my historical novel, I’m learning about leisure pursuits before the advent of radio, television and the Internet. By 1890 or so, public entertainments—dance halls, amusement parks, and picture shows—were rapidly gaining in popularity, but most good clean fun was still had in the home where families sang around the piano and read aloud from edifying works while the ladies did their needlework by the kerosene lamp.

Writing short fiction for commercial magazines was still profitable enough to make F. Scott Fitzgerald a handsome income in the 1920s and as late as the 1970s, I remember that novels by Philip Roth, John Updike and Saul Bellow were must-reads for anyone who claimed the slightest cultivation.

Who reads now?

Sure, there’s free stuff on the internet, but what makes a reader shell out money to produce those profits the publishing houses require? Perhaps it was always so, but the main motivation seems to be “what’s in it for me?” Are we talking a self-help book that will assure instant, painless weight loss or immediate financial bounty? Did a celebrity write it? Is it already a bestseller all my friends are talking about that includes child abuse and tattoos? Did it win a literary prize and also come with the requisite child abuse and suicide? Can I make my own decision about what I want to read rather than rely on someone else’s opinion? (Nah, too much work. I rely on Amazon one-star reviews myself. If the pans are smart, I pass.)

Now the thoughtful reader has been a dying breed for quite some time. In her biography of Mary McCarthy, Carol Brightman writes of the critical response to The Group, a 1963 best-seller that frankly (for the time) explored the erotic lives of eight Vassar graduates:

“With reviews and parodies such as these, a new chapter in American literary life had begun, one in which the prominent reviewer wielded more power than the author, not because of the priestly functions of criticism but because fewer people took reading and writing seriously, and thus reviewers got the last word—especially when they were also famous authors, blocked, for the moment, from the ‘creative stuff.’ Dealing in reputations rather than texts put them in the cockpit of a world where reputation, meaning celebrity, was the common coin of the realm.” (Writing Dangerously: Mary McCarthy and Her World, p. 461)

Perhaps the thoughtful reader was never as abundant as we’d like to imagine, but we see that celebrity was certainly an important factor in publishing long before Rob Lowe took up his pen.

Villain #3: The First Fifty Pages

As those of you who have approached literary agents know, a fortunate query will be followed up by a request for the first fifty pages of the manuscript. If the agent believes these pages suggest a selling book, s/he will request the complete manuscript. Thus, it is very important to make sure the beginning of your book promises commercial success. The leisurely novel openings of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries are a thing of the past. The reader must be hooked as quickly as possible.

I recently read that it is likely that surprisingly few publishing insiders actually read the entire book. Certainly don’t expect the marketers, promoters or critics to do so. Recently I realized that this focus on the early hook explains a lot about my dissatisfaction with many of the books I read, whether fiction or nonfiction. Far too often, the promising, lively opening chapters fall flat so that by the end I feel duped and resentful of the author for betraying his promise. From now on, I’m going to pay attention to the timing of this downward dip of art and interest. I wouldn’t be surprised to find the decline beginning somewhere around page 51.

Here’s where we writers need to take responsibility. Yes, we must polish up those first fifty pages to be noticed by the professionals in the industry, but the rest of the book should be worth reading, too. Worse still are successful authors who are cajoled into reprising their bestsellers with sequels that seldom live up to the original. This is the saddest con of the publishing business.

In the end, however, I would suggest that the greatest villain is a naive, idealized view of the publishing industry, a view to which I must plead guilty in my life before my work was published. Books may seem like friends, but they were born of the bottom line.

Thus, a solitary writer cannot control the market, the publishing procedures, agents, editors or readers. We can try to write for reasons other than profit, even as we must pay some mind to marketability so that our work has the chance to reach a broader readership. Each of us can, in our own individual way, try to rebuild the fine art of storytelling as a way to connect with our readers in the spirit of trust, not profit.

By the time the tremors of new technologies in communications have subsided, publishing may end up a very different business, or it may have more or less the same fundamental characteristics in new wrapping. Yet readers will always love and appreciate a good story well told. All we have to do is write it.

Donna George Storey is the author
of Amorous Woman and a collection of short
stories, Mammoth
Presents the Best of Donna George Storey
. Learn more about her
work at www.DonnaGeorgeStorey.com
or http://www.facebook.com/DGSauthor

The Gold Rush

 

By Lisabet Sarai

In January 1848, James W. Marshall
discovered gold at Sutter’s Mill, in what is now El Dorado County,
California. That event kicked off the now-fabled California Gold Rush
and changed the country forever. Between 1848 and 1855, by which time
most of the readily available gold had been exhausted, some 300,000
people arrived in California, from across the United States as well as from many other
countries. In seven short years, San Francisco grew from a small
settlement of 200 people to a city of over 35,000. It took only two
years for the United States to decide it wanted California as a state
and to pry the land away from Mexico, to whom the territory belonged
at the start of the Gold Rush.

An estimated 100,000 native Americans
died from disease or aggression as the avaricious newcomers pushed
them out of their traditional hunting and fishing grounds. Many of
the prospectors met equally dire fates at the hands of the Indians,
the elements or their fellow gold-seekers.

New wealth fueled new technologies and
new growth. At the same time, the Gold Rush destroyed much of value,
damaging ecosystems, ruining families, tearing society apart. The
boom town mentality rewarded short term greed and discouraged long
term planning. It left the mountains of the Sierra Nevada littered
with ghost towns. These days, a drive through the old gold country is
a meditation on the nature of transience.

Publishing, especially epublishing of
romance and erotica, seems to be experiencing its own gold rush. Book
sales have surged by several hundred percent annually since the
introduction of Amazon’s Kindle in 2007. The number of publishers of
ebooks has grown in proportion. Pretty much every week, I see a new
digital imprint announced on the Erotica Readers & Writers
Association list. Meanwhile, established print publishers, from
Harlequin to Constable & Robinson, have rushed to cash in on the
boom by developing their own lines of e-books.

On the plus side, this means more
publishing opportunities for authors. Unfortunately, the boom has
also made it possible for any individual who ever fantasized about
publishing a book to do so. As a result, the slush pile has exploded
by several orders of magnitude. For every work that I’d label as
quality fiction, there are now hundreds, even thousands of competing
titles that are, to be blunt, total crap.

It’s true that it’s easier to get
published now than every before. Desperate for profits, some
companies will accept anything that even remotely resembles a book.
Plus there is always the self-publishing alternative. In fact, the
burgeoning slush pile isn’t the most serious problem. One of the
worst aspects of the boom is the fact that it has become impossible
for quality fiction to get noticed. You could write a
Pulitzer-Prize-worthy novel these days and not sell more than a
handful of copies.

One can understand the aspirations of
would-be authors – no matter how lacking in competence they might
be. After all, who made me the gatekeeper? So what if I believe that
my erotica is better than 90% of what is available on Amazon today.
Most writers probably feel the same way. Maybe one really should let
the market decide. And indeed, with a sigh, I must admit I don’t know
what else we poor authors can do.

What frustrates me more than anything
else, though, is the get-rich-quick attitude of the publishers –
including some with long-standing reputations, who should know
better. In the past few months I’ve reviewed ebooks from several
well-known publishing companies that were close to unreadable due to
editing and formatting errors. If I had purchased these books as
opposed to having received free reviewer copies, I would have
demanded my money back.

In one case, the book was a reprint of
a classic erotic novel from before the ebook revolution. I believe
that the original print book must have been scanned and subjected to
optical character recognition (OCR) in order to create the electronic
form. Anyone who’s used OCR will know the process is rife with
errors. Careful editing is required to correct the guesses made by
the OCR software. As far as I can tell, the editor (if there was one)
did no more than give a quick glance to this book. It was full of
garbled text that seriously disrupted the reading experience. In
their haste to get some income from this novel, this company
apparently rushed it into “e-print” with zero quality control.

Does this company realize that, in my
eyes at least, they’ve completely destroyed their credibility? I’ve
actually had stories published by this company, but I’ll think twice
about that in the future.

If I were the author of this book, I’d
sue the company for breach of contract. And then I’d make sure to
spread the news far and wide via social media. As a reader, I’ll
certainly steer clear of any other titles in this series.

I wish I could tell you this was an
isolated case. It’s not. On the contrary, it’s an illustration of the
same sort of orientation toward short-term profits that made the Gold
Rush so destructive, and I see it in many places in the publishing
industry.

The Gold Rush reached its peak and then
faded away in a mere seven years. It has been just about that long
since the birth of the Kindle. What literary ghost towns will be left
behind when the e-reading boom subsides – or changes to something
unrecognizable? The rate at which technology and society change these
days is dizzying. Anyone who imagines that the ebook boom is here to
stay is as much a dreamer as the farmer from Pennsylvania who sold
his farm and traveled half a year across mountain and desert,
believing he’d make his fortune in the California hills.

I’ve been in this business since the
end of the twentieth century. I’ve seen the eclipse of print and the
rise of the ebook. I’ve done what I could to adapt, but I know
tomorrow will be different from today. I plan to be here long after
the get-rich-quick types have given up. Because ultimately for me,
it’s the stories that matter, not the money. That’s why I hate to see
the stories polluted by the greed of those who publish them.


[This post appeared a few months ago at the Oh Get a Grip blog. I apologize for double posting, but it’s the end of term, I have four sets of exams to grade, plus thesis proposals and project reports… so it was either this, or skip my spot this month. And I definitely didn’t want to do that! I promise fresh content next month!]

Hot Chilli Erotica

Hot Chilli Erotica

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Babysitting the Baumgartners - The Movie
From Adam & Eve - Based on the Book by New York Times Bestselling Authors Selena Kitt

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