This is a question I asked myself while pottering about in the garden.
It may seem like a simple question, one which has a very simple answer; the likes and the things we do listed, almost ‘bullet-pointed’ as a reply.
That’s fine, for most people.
But I am an author, a writer. To me, even those simple answers have hidden depths, more meaning and a thousand stories each to be told.
Here is where my writer’s mind went after I asked myself that question…
I know what I do, but I wondered if that was ‘just me’?
You see, I love travelling. I love to explore other countries, sampling their food, their culture, being amazed at wonderful vistas, cascading waterfalls, crazy cities, wild traffic and such.
I also like to travel around Britain, the place I live. So far, my favourite areas are the Highlands & Western Isles of Scotland.
The Llyn peninsular in Wales gets better and better the further west you travel. The very best being Aberdaron and Bardsey Island.
I reside in Yorkshire, the county known as ‘Gods Country’ for its stunning landscapes.
I originate from the south and was lucky enough to have lived in Kent, called the ‘Garden of England’, which kind of speaks for itself.
All in all, I love nature; landscapes, coastal areas, animals, plants, and grand views. I like red wine, cold beer, fine whiskey, food and some good company.
To my mind this is what home is all about, making a comfortable place with hints, reminders and touches of all the things you love. Pictures and photographs of loved ones, trinkets and ‘tat’ from all those places you have visited; be it a foreign country or the local park, it’s those little inconsequential, yet sentimental items, like a shell collected from a beach, a pebble from a mountain path or a serviette from ‘that’ café.
In a way that is what our homes are for, storing and sharing all those little things which bring back the memories from a life well lived.
We can also make our homes reflect the things which make us… us. Especially, at least for me, in the garden, the garden in which I was pottering when I first asked myself the question I am writing about now.
In this instance, I have ninety per cent completed a project I started about three weeks ago.
In one corner of my garden was a derelict, rotted and neglected raised ‘deck’. I built the deck about ten years or so ago from reclaimed scaffolders boards and, I must admit, was proud of the outcome.
The said deck, (holding tables, chairs, potted plants and lighting), hosted many ‘al fresco’ lunches and dinners, served as a ‘buffet’ table during garden parties and barbecues it even became an improvised office for my writing on the days the sun shone and the rains held off.
But, as many structures constantly exposed to all weathers, it slowly degenerated, until it was little more than a rickety load of planks balancing precariously on a few rotten cross-members.
After laying unused and unloved for so long I decided to rip it up, replacing it with raised-bed vegetable plots and a small seating area.
Partly this decision was to do with the ‘stuff’ I wrote about earlier, the travelling to places, the sampling of food and wine and such like.
You will see in the following photographs I have placed my potted vines along the wall. These have never produced any edible grapes or enough to make even a single glass of wine, not here in England, not with our weather. But they do grow some large and tender leaves which are perfect for making dolmades, one of those foods I first ‘found’ on my travels many years ago.
I have made one deep growing bed and two shallow beds. The idea is to grow ‘root’ vegetables, such as carrots, parsnip, onion and sweeds in the deep one, leaving the shallow beds for the vegetables that grow ‘upwards’; beans, peas, sprouts, lettuce and so forth… once the soil has been delivered, which is about all I need now to complete my task, hence it is only ninety per cent complete.
I already have an area for soft fruits and yesterday harvested a bumper crop of particularly sweet and sticky Gooseberries, the ‘Brambles’ (Blackberries) are beginning to set fruits and so still have many flowers.
This then, is my answer to my own question, “what do writers do when they are not writing?”
For me it is often gardening, but not simply for gardening’s sake.
Its for relaxation, creativity, frugality, satisfaction and for good food, healthy unadulterated food which I and or my wife will turn into some amazing dishes or preserves; some that will bring memories of a time, a trip or a place, flooding back, or maybe excite us, as we look forward to the next travel experience we have planned.
These are the sort of things I do when not sitting alone, isolated, eyes glued to the screen and scribbling away like a manic… I’ll let you finish that line!
However, I am curious to know what you do when you are not writing, please, let me know so I can be sure it is not ‘Just me’.
Keep Happy, Paul.
Don’t forget to visit my website,http://bit.ly/paulswebsitewhere you can find my latest books, including my Electric Eclectic Novelettes.
So much to do, so little time. (I think I have heard that said somewhere before.)
At least I have found a few moments to share another post about being an indie author.
I do not normally write a ‘list’ style post as they generally tend to be little more than ‘clickbait’.
However, on this occasion, I have made an exception to the rule and produced a sort of list post myself. But one I hope is better and far more informative than those ‘clickbait’ I mentioned above.
I hope these tips will help you create a book which will sell in (vast) volume.
“On with the post”
I hear time after time and frequently read, on social media, authors asking why no one is buying their book(s).
It could be down to many things, even the lack of serious or targeted promotion.
Novice writers often spending too much time and effort in posting their book(s) on author group pages… HINT… authors are more interested in writing their own books and most already have a vast TBR library they will get around to reading, soon(ish), one day, maybe later, or never.
You need to put your energy and effort into targeting those people who are more likely to want to read your work than another author. (Coals to Newcastle, busman’s holiday… ring a bell?)
However, before you get anywhere near that stage, here are a few basic questions, self-check questions, you should ask yourself and, this is most important, answer honestly.
You will only be letting yourself down if you lie to yourself.
In a nutshell, you must ask yourself, (way before you publish) if your book looks professional and is your blurb up to scratch?
These are the questions you need to use to clarify each point of consideration.
Regarding your books cover:
1, Does it look professional.
No, truly; do your book cover(s) look like they could be displayed alongside the best sellers on show in your city’s premier bookstore?
If you cannot say it does with absolute certainty, take a mock-up, even a full-colour print of your cover and visit some bookshops. Hold your image up, place it on the shelf next to the big named author’s books.
Now, give it ten coats of looking at. Ask those who are browsing what they think of your intended cover.
This is a form of market research. It can save you a ton of heartache let alone money. But you must be honest and you must listen to what others say, after all, it is they who will be buying your book, not you.
2, Does your book cover clearly demonstrate the genre of your book?
Your potential readers will, most often, have one or two genres they prefer. Like many people, once we find something we enjoy it takes a giant leap to change.
Therefore, if your book does not accurately reflect the genre of its content, you WILL be losing any potential readers initial interest.
3, Does your cover immediately garner attention?
Is it sufficiently attractive to stand out among other books on the shelf or on Amazon?
Does your cover artwork stand out amongst the other books around it? How well does your book ‘stand-out’ as a ‘thumbnail’ image on an Amazon page full of other books?
Are your friends or the bookshop browsers immediately drawn to your cover? If not, you need to make changes.
Note: Too many authors make the mistake of trying to tell the entire books story on their covers. This is not what the cover is intended to do. In simple terms, the cover is like a candle flame to a moth. It is there to attract a person browsing to take a closer look at your book. Once the browser has the book in their hands or has ‘clicked’ for more details, the cover has done its main job.
After which the points below come into play.
4, Does your book title grab attention?
Pretty much like the cover image ‘as a whole’, the title of your book must do several things. It must accurately reflect the genre of your book while defining its own individuality.
Along with this, it must show who the book is intended to be read by. Not an easy task to succeed at, especially when regarding fiction, which is far more subjective than non-fiction.
Regarding non-fiction, your title must indicate the benefit and what makes your book different to other covering the same or similar subject matter.
5, Does your book’s subtitle and/or description clarify who the ideal reader is?
Does your description work as a prime first hook on the general browser?
The description (subtitle) should convey the emotional (or practical) payoff to the reader when reading your book. (The ‘what’s in it for me’ factor)
To communicate this your description needs to capture the curiosity of the browser, it must take them on a clear, cohesive, emotional journey and leave them wanting to know more. You must engage their curiosity?
Is your books description length similar to the prime authors/major publishers books of the same genre?
Note:Nothing on the cover of a major publisher’s book is thereby happenchance, everything is carefully calculated and designed based on a vast database of market research and marketing sciences.You should not go far wrong by following their designs and formatting.
6, Pricing your book
Have you priced your book to match that of similar titles of the same genre by other indie authors?
Here price point could be a major influencing factor. Price your book too high and few will buy it. Too low and many will perceive it as a low-value item and pass it by.
The trick is to get this balancing act weighed off. Not an easy task.
7, Are your books first pages intriguing enough?
Many online bookstores offer a ‘look inside/sample read’ function. This is akin to flicking through a few pages of a physical book in a bookstore.
When considering this fact, it becomes clear you need to ensure an early hook is built into the first pages, say the first 10% of your book.
This will create an intrigue, a wanting to know ‘What happens next’ question into your potential reader’s mind, encouraging them to buy your book.
I hope these pointers will help you with the designing your books cover and when writing your ‘blurb’.
You will find many more ways to reduce your publishing costs and loads of money-saving methods by reading ‘The Frugal Author’, immediately download-able HERE.
Before I start this post proper, I am not a conspiracy theorist, neither am I paranoid, even if they really are after me.
I simply want to make this situation crystal clear.
Unless you have been living on Mars, or never use the internet, you will have heard about a new European regulation which comes into full force on the 25th of this month, May 2018, called GDPR, (General Data Protection Regulation).
I have blogged about this in the past, most notably way back in December 2017, https://wp.me/p5nj7r-1fK and notified people of the huge effect this would have on ALL of us when it came into force this year.
Of course, the 28-member states of the European Union: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden and the United Kingdom, would all deny, collectively and individually, that GDRP is yet another step in the global creep towards state control of the Web.
But they would say that, wouldn’t they?
I am sure many, if not all of you, have heard about ‘The Monkey, Banana & Water experiment’ even if you are not familiar with the details.
Inside the cage hang a banana on a string from the top, then place a set of stairs under the banana.
Before long one of the monkeys will go to the stairs and climb toward the banana.
As soon as that monkey touches the stairs, spray ALL the monkeys with cold water. After a while another monkey will attempt to climb the stairs, with the same result, ALL the monkeys are sprayed with cold water.
Pretty soon, when another monkey tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys will prevent it.
Now, dispose of cold water and remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new one.
The new monkey will see the banana and attempt to climb the stairs.
To this monkey’s shock, all the other monkeys beat the crap out of him as soon as he tries to scale the steps.
After a second attempt and another attack, the new monkey knows if he tries to climb the stairs he will be assaulted.
Next, remove another of the original five monkeys, replacing it with a new one.
The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment, with enthusiasm, because he is now part of the “team”.
Then, replace a third original monkey with a new one, followed by the fourth, then the fifth.
Each time the newest monkey takes to the stairs, he is attacked.
Now, the monkeys who are beating up the newcomer have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs.
Neither do they know why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey.
Finally, having replaced all the original monkeys, none of the remaining monkeys will have ever been sprayed with cold water.
Nevertheless, not one of the monkeys will try to climb the stairway for the banana.
“Why,” you ask?
Because in their minds that is the way it has always been.
This, my friends, is how Governments operate, therefore we collectively accept these new rules with little resistance.
Take the introduction of ‘Speed Cameras’ in the UK. When first introduced they were called such.
The backlash of public opinion and media comments such as ‘Big Brother’ & ‘Nanny state’ along with vandalism and destruction of many of the ‘Gastco’ machines gave Government cause for a re-think.
In the year 2000, the system allowed local authorities to receive a percentage of revenue from their cameras. Local police and councils joined forces to form safety camera partnerships, picking out sites which the government would then fund.
Gatso camera numbers multiplied from 1,600 in 2000 to 4,737 in 2007
This caused another media frenzy and more arbitrary destruction, with the added claim these cameras were purely a revenue raising machine which bore no relation to road safety.
Anti-camera groups reacted by becoming more militant.
This was when the Government’s message changed from calling them ‘Speed Cameras’ to Safety Cameras’ and trotting out the know well-known mantra ” “It’s not about the fines or making money, but about reducing fatalities and injuries.”
Once this mantra became established ‘pressure’ groups of local citizens joined with the Government to install more ‘safety cameras’ as they were now ‘good’ for us. The revenue and money-making issues seemed to evaporate with this new dawn.
Since then Gatso have made way for the ‘Average Speed Camera’ and soon, not yet officially announced, the ‘tyre tread depth Cam’, that’s ‘tire’ for my American readers.
These cameras are embedded into the road surface and, with the aid of Lasers, that’s ‘Lazer’ in Americanese, The Treadcam reads if a car or truck that passes over it has sufficient tread depth.
Aside from just measuring the tyre tread depth, the device can also determine tyre wear patterns, tyre pressure, the tyre type and the axle load, at a cost of £43,000 pounds each, these machines will have to ‘earn their keep’.
But is anyone complaining, no, because we are all monkeys now and your Government knows this.
Which brings me back to GDPR, the new rules… read LAW introduced by the 28 Eurostates but, because of its far-reaching regulations affects just about everybody in every country worldwide.
Of course, YOUR countries own Government(s) could reject GDRP outright, but then that would set back their part of total internet control too.
THIS IS WHY.
Recent history has made it clear any direct attempt of any government to ‘take over’ the internet/world wide web would be met with much hostile resistance.
So, this is what is happening, this is the reason why no Government outside of the European Union is opposing GDRP.
“Unable to directly regulate the Net, it has become necessary to curtail, under various guises, the ability for the common man to exploit the internet’s capabilities.”
GDRP is ‘for your protection and privacy’ just as Speed… sorry… Safety Cameras are for your protection and safety.
Imagine you have a car which you enjoy driving, only the government wants to control where, when and how you drive it.
Now, they cannot have an official sat next to you all the time and they can’t take it from you, so they make you pay a ‘Tax’ to use it on a road. Even so, they charge you more to drive on certain roads by way of a toll.
Then they insist on a Government test every year to ensure your car works. They make you insure the vehicle, so they can raise more revenue by way of tax on tour premiums.
Further taxation and duties become payable on the fuel you use.
Very soon pleasure driving is a thing of the past, you now only use your vehicle when it is necessary, and you have a much smaller vehicle because it is cheaper to run and maintain.
So, without touching your car the Government has controlled what type of vehicle you have when you drive it and where.
GDRP has taken us one step closer to Governmental control of the internet.
Because to control the Web there is no need to touch the Web, just everything and everyone around it, to stifle its reach and its use, to regulate everything associated with it.
What’s more, nobody will complain as it will all be for ‘our own good’.
Anyway, as those monkeys will tell you, “It’s always been this way”.
Like I said at the start of this post, I am not a conspiracy theorist, neither am I paranoid, even if they are really after me or control of the interweb.
Believe me, after all, I am an author.
Thank you for reading this post.
I hope you found this post both informative and entertaining, but not as entertaining as my fictional stories you can find on my own website, which is not, as yet, under the control or domination of one or more collective Governments.
Does this title sound stupid? (Don’t answer that.)
I was trying to come up with a fancy, clever, literary genius of a title, one which would give an undeniable clue to the content of this post.
I got a few good ones lined up and then re-read them. Most were so oblique even I forgot the connection. Others read more like popular newspaper headings than a serious post about writing.
In the end, I settled for what you have above. Which cannot be too bad because here you are, reading me waffling on about something inane.
Okay, on with my post.
Many of my indie author friends, especially those who tend to write in a specific genre, have one or more series of books.
I know writing a book series is no new thing, but it is one which has become resurgent in popularity over recent years. This is partly because of a shift in reading habits, which in turn is partly influenced by film and television ‘franchises’. (I shall not go into the reading trends and patterns regarding general social psychology of the masses here… albeit a subject I love.)
The ideal is to have someone buy a copy of one of your books and like it so much they rush out and by the whole series… or nowadays go to an online bookstore; not so much fun as browsing a ‘real’ shops shelves but quite practical, especially for social hermits.
Anyway… I seem to be digressing.
The problem, it seems, lays with having ‘that someone’ buy the first book of your series.
Herein lies a quandary.
Until such a person has a copy of your book in their sticky mittens, they shall never know how captivating the story is. They shall never know your carefully crafted characters, fall in love with your protagonist or hold disdain for your antagonist.
Neither will they learn how well you write, narrate or how charming a tale spinner you are. Which would all be a ‘bit of a shame’.
Oh, I hear so many of you thinking, “it’s all about promotion and marketing, that’s how you get readers.”
Well, yes and no.
Yes, it is about promoting your works, and NO… Allow me to enlighten you on my reasoning.
It is not all about promoting your books. (‘Promoting’ is a word I shall use as an ‘umbrella’ term to include marketing, advertising and such hoo-ha for the duration of this post.)
It is all about promoting you, your books, both individually and collectively, and your author brand, in a certain way.
If I were to cover all these topics, in one post, I would end up writing an entire thesis three thousand pages long, neither something I have time to write in one sitting, or, I am sure, you have time to read. So, I shall concentrate purely on one aspect and follow up, in future posts, on other relevant subjects.
As the amazingly conceived title of this post states, I shall continue discussing your book series.
It has become something of an urban legend, a myth which survives to the present day and one which far too many authors still fall prey to, that is the one which says: “if you give your first book of a series away as a freebie you will gain lots of new readers who will buy all your other books.”
That is a lie, promoted by those who generate financial gain from (often desperate) indie authors. Free may have been a viable option in the early days of the internet when Amazon was just a simple bookstore when indie authors were referred to as desktop publishers and vanity press meant having a book for sale outside of a mainstream publishing house. (See: https://wp.me/p5nj7r-1fn )
There are ways forward, none are push and go or plug and play. Each takes time and consistent effort to achieve and not all will work equally for all authors, their books or series. Book promotion is not an exact science.
Thunderclaps, Daycause, Blog hops, Tweet chains can all form part of your overall promotional strategy… You know, the carefully planned and timed schedule you have designed. The one which ensures you maximise each promotional effort… Yeh, that’s the one, your synergetic multi-arena integrated sales stratagem for the 2018/19 marketing period.
However, few authors consider writing a further book, or two or three or more to help gain and build readership and, on the face of it, with good reason. After all, writing another book is only adding to the series and that takes us back to square one… doesn’t it?
You see, this is about taking a new approach to authors promotions, in this case, Prequels… now, I know prequels are not new; way back when, we had Charlotte Brontë’s ‘Jane Eyre’ (1874); but did you know that Jean Rhys wrote the ‘Wide Sargasso Sea’ in 1966 as a prequel and response, describing the background to the marriage Jane learns about after going to work for Mr Rochester?
How about a prequel with a difference?
Let me ask you some questions…
What if… you could write a shorter book, a book especially targeted at attracting readers to your current series?
What if… a group of authors would help you promote that book?
What if… a book brand would include your book in its promotions, making it constantly visible to a global audience, online, in magazines and via social media?
What if… you became an Electric Eclectic author?
Currently, Electric Eclectic are well known for their ebook Novelettes, their short stories books which help connect readers and authors.
But now, Electric Eclectic is launching a form of book they call a ‘Proquel’
These are Prequels, Character Backstories and Parallels designed specifically to introduce readers to your book series, in fact, the name Proquel is simply an amalgamation of the words promotion and prequel. (Pretty cool, yeah?)
Now… unlike many books, an Electric Eclectic proquel is unashamedly a promotional tool. While there is no compromise regarding the quality of content or storytelling, these books do not have to be full-length novels, but novella’s, with a suggested word count of between 17K and 40K words.
Once assessed and accepted by Electric Eclectic, your book(s) benefit from all the marketing and promotional activities of Electric Eclectic and your fellow EE authors.
You will have your books on the Electric Eclectic website along with a personal author page and much more. You can check out the Electric Eclectic website HERE.
And…this is the BEST BIT… you make money on your proquels too… yep, you still earn full royalties on your book sales.
Electric Eclectic is NOT a publisher and does NOT take royalties.
You will get all the above for a minimal fee… and I mean a minimal fee.
You have nothing to lose.
So, why not find out more about becoming an Electric Eclectic author and, how writing just one other book, could help you sell your whole series?
With major ground shifts and changes occurring throughout the publishing and online worlds, becoming an Electric Eclectic author could be the best decision you make this year.
Once we have learnt about something, once we consider we understand it, think we have mastered it, we like to run with it, to keep it.
We are often loath to stop, to give it up… to alter anything.
Many of us are resistant to change, of losing the little comfort zone we made for ourselves. One can liken such to the reluctance of a child giving up a blanket, or a soother.
If we do make the move, we find it easier to be weaned, to slightly adjust, little by little, so we don’t notice the change, or at least that is how we convince ourselves.
The problem is, by the time our situation has evolved in a way which assuages our reluctance, we find we are far behind the madding crowd, so far behind we have little chance of catching up.
In these days of high tech communications and internet connectivity, it is now more obvious than ever before.
Only the fearful and desperate cling to what once was,.
Only the backward and slow reminisce and wish for those ‘good old days‘ when a Facebook post actually reached ALL your ‘friends’ and not just the 3 to 10% they do with today’s algorithms.
The same is true of your book promotions. This is why your sales do not exceed the minimal expectations you tell yourself are reasonable goals, let alone your wishes and dreams to become a consistent bestselling author.
To give away a book for free is an archaic, outdated and outmoded marketing model. One which no longer holds any credence, but one which so many still cling to with dying hope, like a gambler sliding deeper into depressive debt.
Paying another organisation to give your books away is a sign of utter desperation. A despondent cry for help, for someone, anyone to read your story.
In reality, it is authorship suicide; one you may never recover from financially and one which could leave your reputation in raggedy tatters, before you even start.
Book launches and parties no longer pull the crowds. They are a nice way to spend a few extra hours chatting with those you regularly talk to every day; to hear them say nice things about you, your book and “what a marvellous cover” you have.
But such events no longer attract readers. They have been overdone and done over, like an ancient, wrinkled whore, they no longer hold any attraction whatsoever.
Thunderclaps, Headtalkers, Daycause are little more than a (mostly) unseen flash-in-the-pan. A quick blast of tweets and public post which disappear down the scrolling stream faster than Usain Bolt running a hundred meters.
Authors, you NEED to find new ways to promote your works, ways which offer longevity rather than the promise of making a ‘quick buck’ or selling a few more copies of your latest tome overnight… for one night only.
You need to find a simple, ongoing promotional aid which is always working for you, even when you’re not working.
A low-cost way that won’t break the bank, or better still, a way which will pay you a return, a royalty, on your promotional material.
Now wouldn’t that be wonderful…
If only such a thing existed…
Well, such a thing does exist, but only for those who are prepared to move forward, to see the changing lights (mostly red ones) as social media platforms are brought to task and the hyper highway of freedom and unlimited possibility become more crowded, slower and, well… limited.
A small, but growing group of indie authors, are moving forward into the new dawn of altered perception, of interweb reconstruction and publishing future.
It is a group which, (at present), still has its doors open to welcome a few more indie authors inside. Authors with great tales to share, who are well crafted in penning a wonderful story. Authors who are serious about writing, about selling their books, about being authors.
So, what is this group and who are these indie authors?
Simple, we are Electric Eclectic. The book brand which is sweeping the internet.
Before you ask, yes, this is about sci-fi and Robots… but it also about crime fiction, fantasy, steampunk and many other genres. It’s about understanding, imagination and the muse… so read on…
Like all fiction genres, Sci-fi and its many sub-genres must evolve with the times, writers must look to the future. (pun intended)
Czech writer Karel Čapek introduced the word “robot”. It is said his brother suggested using a derivative of the word robata, which means literally “serf labour” and figuratively “drudgery” or “hard work.”
No wonder the robots usually want to revolt, to take over our world. To turn the tables on us!
But, long before the word “robot” was invented, the ideas of mechanical or artificial men was in our ancestors’ consciousness. Early ideas of robots or automata drew inspirations from early writings and figures in mythology, who were described as anthropomorphic and crafted from stone or metal.
Described in the Argonautica as a giant man of bronze forged by the smith Hephaestus, Talos is tasked with patrolling the island of Crete and fending off pirates.
However, he is still partially organic, as is shown in the description of a single blood vessel that runs from his neck down to his ankle. Much like with Achilles and his heel, the vein of Talos is his weakness, and he dies in the story from exsanguination.
This developed into ‘other’ forms of automata,
In ETA Hoffman’s short story, The Sandman, the main character Nathaniel falls in love with the daughter of one of his university professors.
While she is beautiful and elegant, Olympia speaks very little, only responding to conversations with “Ah”.
She is also often motionless for long periods of time.
The people around her find this disconcerting, and it is eventually revealed that she is a lifelike doll.
Enter the early days of Sci-fi as we recognise it now,
Edward Ellis’s Steam Man is an early example of the Edisonade genre of science fiction.
Derived from Thomas Edison’s name, the genre describes stories that feature an ingenious young American inventor, who uses his inventions to go on adventures, solve problems, and defend himself against his enemies. The invention often has many purposes, such as weaponry and transportation.
In this case, the teenage hero is Johnny Brainerd, who creates the steam man and uses it to pull wagons that can carry passengers. Despite its large size, the steam man can run quite fast, and Johnny uses this to his advantage (such as, for hunting buffalo).
An imitation of this story was written by Harry Enton in 1876, called Frank Reade and His Steam Man of the Plains, which also features a young inventor and his robots. Frank Reade’s steam man improves upon the first, with a much more efficient engine due to improvements in hydraulics and use of lighter-weight alloys. Thus, it is faster and stronger. Frank Reade’s son, Frank Jr., would eventually go on to create Steam Man Mark III, and replaced the use of steam with the use of electricity.
This and Steam Man of the Prairies were dime novels, popular fiction that is much like the comic books of today.
Dorothy finds the mechanical man, Tik-Tok, with a printed card suspended from the back of its neck.
The card provides directions for ‘using’ Tik-Tok, such as how to make him speak, think, and move by winding the clockwork in his body. Tik-Tok needs to be periodically wound like a toy to function, as he cannot wind himself up.
Tik-Tok has been referenced in other fiction, and his benign nature subverted into something more sinister, such as in Gregory Maguire’s Wicked and John Sladek’s Tik-Tok.
As I spoke of in the opening paragraphs of this post, the term Robot arose thus…
This famous play, which was successful in its time, describes a factory that makes artificial people or roboti, from synthetic organic matter.
Less like robots and more like androids or cyborgs because of their biological nature, these synthetic people work for humans but eventually organize an uprising, causing the extinction of humans.
Karel Capek’s play is influential for being the first to use the word “robot”, replacing “automaton” or “android”. It is also worth noting that “robota“in Czech means forced labour, of which the robots in the play were made to do.
“Robot:We wanted to be like people. We wanted to become people.
Radius:We wanted to live. We are more capable. We have learned everything. We can do everything.
Robot:You gave us weapons. We had to become the masters.
Robot:We have seen the mistakes made by the people, sir.”
Which basically, and with a giant leap of literary faith, brings us to the time when robots were simply robots, like Robby from ‘Lost in Space’. A time when Isaac Asimov penned ‘I Robot’ and hope for humankind lingered.
We all knew where we stood.
Then along came James Camron who introduced us to Skynet, and all hell broke loose.
So, where does that leave us, how can we tell new, inventive and genuinely futuristic tales of machines, androids and automaton now?
Maybe, a little closer inspection of where we stand now will help us, if we stand on tiptoes and look far over the rising horizon…
Robots are all around us, toiling away in factories and warehouses, busting a gut in landfills and working in hospitals. The NAO model introduces school kids and students to programming and robotics and it also teaches children with autism. Another model, Pepper, was created to work in the service sector; its tasks include attracting potential customers and consulting with buyers.
As the IOActive team discovered, to seize control of NAO you only need to be on the same network as the robot. Experts found vulnerabilities allowing commands to be remotely executed, effectively giving over full control of its actions.
To demonstrate how these vulnerabilities can be exploited, the team forced NAO to demand bitcoins from its human interlocutor.
But real criminals would be limited only by their imagination and programming skills. What’s more, it’s not just NAO that can be infected with ransomware; the more business-oriented Pepper is just as vulnerable, and other models probably are as well.
Just imagine if one fine day a robot teacher or store clerk, in full view of John Q. Public, started swearing and insulting people before going on strike or picking a fight.
You never know.
But why would anyone hack a robot?
What do criminals have to gain here? Won’t it just spoil someone’s day or their life? That might be enough incentive for some hackers, who often do such things just for fun.
But there’s another reason: money.
The profit motive is simple. Buying a robot costs about $10,000; and if it breaks, it must be repaired or replaced.
Both of those require a fair bit of cash, but factor in the downtime cost and reputational loss of having a robot threaten customers and the sum rises considerably.
If an industrial robot is hacked, it can pose an immediate threat to employee safety or production quality.
An attacker compromising a robot in one of those ways might offer a quick solution to the problem, (which they caused), pay a ransom and everything will be just fine.
But, as you might guess, cybercriminals don’t always keep their word. Of course, the vulnerable robot might be hacked again, requiring another payout.
And then, another,and another…
What can be done?
Robots are here to stay (and multiply), so avoiding contact with them is not the way to go. For that, you’d need to invent a time-machine and go back a long, long way as mentioned above.
Instead, users and manufacturers need to be sensitive to robots’ weaknesses to ensure these devices do not go from cutting-edge to catastrophic in the blink of an eye.
Robot creators need to think through security issues in advance before production starts. Today. Better still, yesterday.
Then, after product release, all ears must be kept firmly to the ground to respond promptly to reported vulnerabilities and get them fixed.
…Or some sort of mayhem, a type of life-shattering, civilisation ending apocalypse may just leap from the pages of a book and into reality…
Or maybe that is just my way of stimulating your muse… think on, but carefully and you could join the ranks of Robert A. Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, H. G. Wells, Jules Verne, Edgar Rice Burroughs and Isaac Asimov.
You see not all sci-fi which includes rouge robots must be apocalyptic, that idea has been done, and done, and done to death. Now it is time for a differing approach.
Take your favourite crime-based books or film, or a combination of both media. Choose a story without any robots and select a character or two.
Now, think of your chosen characters as automaton, combine those two or three films/books plots. (If they are Hollywood or from mainstream publishing, it will not be a difficult task because they use a five, or seven-point, plotline… its what makes mainstream boring and predictable.) and start writing. Don’t copy… No plagiarism allowed; simply let your muse write the story guided by the basic (combination) of the plot(s) outlines.
You will have a brand-new crime story, but one which includes robots. It does not even have to be set in the future or on another planet, it can be urban fiction, steampunk, fantasy… you decide.
What you will have is a cross-genre fictional work which can be promoted to a wider, but targeted audience. That means greater sales opportunities and a much larger readership potential.
Why not make your robot a stooge, a fall guy? Have the reader fall in love with it, empathize with it.
Alternatively, have your robot(s) as the victim, the missing link to solving a situation… not all robots are bad, not all are good, some simply have frailties, others damaged personalities, why, some are even human… aren’t they?
Whatever you do, have fun and visit my website HEREI have a load of crime fiction and other ‘stuff’ you will just love. But don’t just take my word, go and have a look now.
Yep, that’s a long(ish) title but it says what this post is about.
I have been asked on several occasions if my books are [officially] available from outlets other than CreateSpace/Amazon.
The answer is:I am slowly extending the platforms where my books can be obtained. Migrating some and simply offering others on multi-platforms.
The reasons for the disparity are many, I shall not delve into them all here.
Another issue on many sites is the price charged for my books. This is to some extent beyond my control, or at least I am bound by certain parameters which make it impossible for me to have a single fixed price across all outlets.
While this is somewhat annoying, I can see the relation with other products, the ‘recommended retail price‘, or ‘manufacturers suggested selling price‘, which individual retailers try to ‘discount’ against as they compete for their percentage of the market share.
I have come to accept, as an author, I am at the behest of these marketing trends and the need for retailers and distributors to make a profit, both which influence the pricing of my books.
Whilst I am happy in most cases to allow market demands to guide basic pricing structures, (after all, no one will pay more than they are willing,) it can become an annoyance in certain situations.
Allow me to explain.
I am sure, or at least I hope, you are aware of Electric Eclectic books. These novelettes, branded by Electric Eclectic, are designed to introduce readers to great authors and amazing stories.
The plan for Electric Eclectic is to offer each novelette at a uniform single price of ‘ONE’.
That’s £1.00, $1.00, € 1.00 etc.
While the Pound (GBP) and the Euro worked, Amazon.com insists adding tax after a price is set. So, the $1.00 becomes $1.34. (With the Euro, Amazon.EU & The Pound, Amazon.UK, the selected price includes tax, so you can accurately select a specific number which will show as the price the store shows.)
While I prefer the sales and marketing aspect of 1.00, a neat, round, simple figure. The issue is further compounded when listing your books in ‘other’ bookstores as they each have their own pricing parameters.
This gives a wide disparity of prices for the same item.
Take my book ‘Three Floors Up’, an Electric Eclectic Novelette such as mentioned above. This is 1.00 on both the Amazon.UK and from Amazon.EU. It shows as 1.34 on Amazon.com, although the price of 1.00 was selected on the site.
This alters further, to 1.39 & 1.43 on a dozen more online bookstores, until you reach Apple iBooks where it retails at 1.99, double the price, all bar a single cent, to that which I initially set when publishing on Amazon Kindle. (KDP).
I am sure there are reasons for such a wide differential, none of which I care about to the degree of losing sleep. This is because those who are dedicated to Apple are clearly willing to pay slightly more for a book, as are those who dislike Amazon. I know some people who detest them with a passion verging on hatred.
If you are one of the above or have a direct link, an investment, or another affinity with a particular bookstore platform you will be happy to know all my Electric Eclectic books, and some other works are now online at a selection of alternative stores. (My other books will follow in due course).
These are the main online retails officially authorised to retail my books.
Amazon, CreateSpace, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple IBookstore (Tunes), Google Play, Baker & Taylor and Peecho, are the prime retailers and distributors.
These are my Authorised Booksites, ones with direct links to the retailers.
BookRix, GoodReads, Authorsdb, Authors Den, and Electric Eclectic.
Bootlegging and unofficial distribution of books is a major internet concern.
Sites with unofficial listings of my books may deliver a poor-quality product. Downloads from these sites may infect your device with a Virus, deliver Trojans, Worms or Ransomware.
Such sites create opportunities for Phishing, Mining and Pwning of your Personal Data.
This is what The Frugal Author says you can achieve, in this book of the same name.
He has written this book as an aid for independent authors in pursuit of economical, prudent self-publication.
The Frugal Author produces his own eBooks, paperbacks and high-quality hardcover publications with very little if any, financial outlay.
This book is full of the distilled results, the acquired knowledge and personal practice of being a successful indie author who dislikes paying out more than is absolutely necessary.
In this book, he explains how he achieves that, along with insights into indie publishing and sharing his ideas of how you too can implement the same type of methods for your own books.
The Frugal Author is NOT a ‘how to’ book. It is NOT a step by step guide or tuitional publication. The Frugal Author simply shares methodology, ideas and principles which you can adopt fully or partially, implement in part or whole over time and adjust to suit your own working practices.
You may well ask what credibility The Frugal Author has? and you are right to do so.
To date, he has published 19 books, ranging from children’s stories and poetry to psychological suspense. From Tales of Crime & Violence through to true accounts of Life in the Warzone. Pulp-fiction comic book yarns are written alongside romantic stories and non-fictional military social history.
The Frugal Author is a true multi-genre author. He is also a multi-format author having eBooks, Paperbacks and Hardcover publications.
Two of his books are recognised and authenticated Amazon bestsellers.
He is a well-known and respected member of the global Indie Author and Writers community and a founding member of APC, Authors professional Co-operative, Founder of Electric Eclectic books and chief editor of CQI Magazine.
He is acknowledged for the help and advice he shares and the initiatives he employs to help all writers succeed, irrelevant of their experience.
Now, he is sharing some of his ideology and methodology with you in this book, The Frugal Author.
Download yourself a copy today, start saving money and start heading into profit… NOW.
It is some time since I wrote a ‘Rambling’ Rambling on this blog.
Partly, this is because of the large number of commitments I have undertaken recently. Commitments which have left little time to indulge myself in creating an informative and entertaining Ramble.
Which I hope this post shall be, (at least if you read on from this point.) Although this post may seem to ‘go around the houses’ to reach its point, bear with me. It will be worth it in the end… Honest 😊
My last Rambling style post was a bit of a rant, but one which shares the truth about how ineffective giving away free booksis and how doing so is damaging all indie author’s prospects.
This post sort of follows suit regarding ranting… maybe I am becoming a ‘Grumpy old man’ or maybe I am already one?
The basic theme here is “Stop whinging, get off your arse and DO something about it.” In fact, I think I’ll use that phrase as the title of this post.
First, the ‘whining and whinging’, the consistent, droll, mind-numbing drivel I am hearing from too many indie authors recently.
“My sales are bad.”
“Facebook doesn’t help anymore.”
“Things are getting worse.”
“People don’t even want my free book.”
“Nobody leaves reviews.”
“Adverts are so expensive and don’t reach enough people.”
And so forth. All one must do is read the comments and posts in various social media groups and pages to find a torrent of such remarks.
Now, I may or may not agree with all the above. Okay, the first three are stupid statements, the last three have some if little, merit.
But this wave of despondency seems to be sweeping the internet at present and gathering momentum as it does.
Fuelled, no doubt, by the rumours about CreateSpace, Amazon and Goodreads along with the recent and forthcoming changes and alterations to Facebook.
Don’t ask me for details, go read Gisela Hausmann’s books on the subject, she is far better informed than I. Read more Here
Now, nobody said writing a book would be easy. Nobody told me marketing and selling would be a cinch.
It takes commitment, persistence, patience and determination… and lots of it. I said lots of it, that’s much, much more than you are considering or believing right now. So, treble the difficulty factor and then multiply that by the power of 92 and you could be approaching reality.
Calculate the exact opposite for difficulty and obstacles. The resultant sum should reflect the starting point of your journey into the realms of authorship.
Bilbo Baggins exploits were a simple walk in the park, in comparison of what you shall have to endure.
That is why we love being indie authors.
However, (for those who may not be familiar with my Ramblings I love the ‘However’s’.)
So, to continue.
However, I cannot take this downhearted view as one expressed solely by the Indie community, or for that matter, one voiced on social media alone.
I think this mood or at least the pessimistic and depressed expression of disappointment and negativity concerning the present and, more so, the cynical distrust of the future is something which is sweeping our society.
This attitude has now reached such proportions everybody has to have ‘a condition’, be it a simple skin complaint, a dietary need or speech impediment, let alone a major physical or mental syndrome.
As an alternative, or as an added factor, one must also be a survivor… of sexual or mental abuse, a victim of crime, a recovering drug user or alcoholic with latent effects of reoccurring PTSD… and so forth.
Nowadays everyone must have an underlying ‘Backstory’ to be accepted as part of our modern society, however truthful or however factitious that may be.
Personally, I blame Simon Cowell and the XFactor… which traumatic experience I have survived, by the way.
I am an exexfactorbackstorysurvivalist, in tentative remission.
NOW… don’t get me wrong. I am not speaking of genuine suffers from such disorders, I am speaking of the media hype and their insatiable appetite to present all who become ensnared in their tentacles as some form of miracle entity. A god or goddess-like warrior who has fought off the evils life has thrown at them.
Such influence affects us and our children’s perception of ‘normality’ in the most ambiguous ways. It is this seeking of constant sensationalism which clouds many of the authors and writer’s minds when they complain about how difficult it is to sell their books.
Instead of ‘doing something‘ to alter the situation it is far easier for many to shout “I am a Victim” and “Facebook is abusing my rights” and such like.
This is where, if you are still with me, I refer you back to the title of this post. “Stop whinging, get off your arse and DO something about it.”
I shall finish with one simple and short example-
I recently launched an initiative for indie authors called Electric Eclectic. I doubt very much if you have not seen at least one blog, post, comment or advertisement concerning such.
Electric Eclectic allows indie authors a way of using, or recycling, short stories to market and sell their prime titles. This is a form of promotion which actually earns the author money while working as a silent salesman on their behalf.
I have offered, both on major social media sites and by personal email invitation, the opportunity for a limited number of other authors to join us.
The take-up has been dismal, even though our own authors have seen sale generated via Electric Eclectic already and indications of ongoing success.
YET, I have seen some of those who know about this opportunity continue to whinge and whine about sales, the cost of promotion and the ‘state of the market’ while ignoring the offer from Electric Eclectic and other genuine initiatives.
My suspicions are these people enjoy the attention their complaining creates and, I wonder if, they like to ride the current media bandwagon of portraying themselves as victims, casualties and wounded sufferers of circumstance?
Thank you for reading this Rambling. Paul.
To find out more, or to request becoming an Electric Eclectic author, visit the website HERE and use the contact page to message Electric Eclectic.
From logging in to our social media accounts to buying new shoes, we wouldn’t be able to get much done without first logging into an account with a password. The problem is, as more and more of our everyday lives have gone online, particularly as authors and writers, when we need a wide range of internet sites and platforms to market and promote our books.
Chances are you have needed to create more passwords than ever, which can cause problems. After all, who uses a different password for each and every site? Perhaps not many of us, if we’re being honest.
Indeed, according to new research from Kaspersky Lab, people tend to fall into one of two camps: those who use passwords that are complex but difficult to remember and those who create passwords that are easy to remember but easy to crack.
Complex but forgettable
Those of us who create complex but difficult to remember passwords may have more secure accounts, but sadly they also have a tendency to forget these passwords. After all, it’s a lot easier to remember password123 than to remember Pa$$W0rdTh3G14nT123.
And a fair number of people surveyed understood the need for complex passwords, with 63% selecting online banking accounts, 42% payment applications including e-wallets, and 41% online shopping as types of accounts that need the most secure passwords.
However, 51% of people admitted to storing their passwords insecurely, and a staggering 23% said they store them on a notepad.
Short, handy, easy to crack
According to the research, a disheartening 10% of people surveyed admitted to using the same password for every account they own — a practice that increases the very real risk of account compromise. Reuse one password for all accounts and you ensure that if one account is compromised, they all are. You can check to see which accounts of yours could be compromised here.
On top of that, the research showed that 17% of those surveyed had faced the threat of account compromise, or actually had an account compromised, in the past 12 months.
The third way
One solution can fix both problems: a password manager such as Kaspersky Password Manager. Using a password manager might sound like something only geeks would do, but actually, it’s surprisingly easy to use. You create one complex password (we’re all capable of remembering one difficult password!), and it protects all of the other passwords. The password manager stores and fills in passwords for all of your online accounts, and everything is secured using encryption so that nobody can snoop.
However, if you’re looking for some quick tips, resident tech expert David Emm suggests the following:
Make every password at least 15 characters long — the longer the better.
Don’t make passwords guessable. There’s a good chance that personal details such as your date of birth, place of birth, partner’s name, and so forth can be found online — for example, on your Facebook wall.
Don’t use real words. They are open to “dictionary attacks,” someone using a program to quickly try a huge list of possible words until they find one that matches your password.
Combine letters (including uppercase letters), numbers, and symbols.
Don’t “recycle” passwords — say, david1,” “david2,” “david3,” etc.
Use a different password for each account to prevent all of your accounts becoming vulnerable.
If you suspect your password has been compromised, change it immediately.
Stay safe out there.
Sometimes, just sometimes, a book comes along which tends to re-define certain aspects of expectation.
This new release from Paul White, DARK WORDS, is a book which contains several short stories, poetry and some written works which defy classification, they are… prose, articles, essays for want of interpretation. Each written piece is deep, meaningful and emotive. Paul explores avenues, dark avenues of the human psyche where many dare not venture.Hurt, fear, pain, self-harm, love, hate, loathing, love lost, depression, loneliness, anger, suicide, anxiety, all these and more are considered within the pages of DARK WORDS.
In Paul’s own words…
“Dark days come to us all at some time in our lives.Heartbreak, grief, fear, loss, pain and anxiety collide and conspire, individually and collectively to bring us down.We feel the battles rage within ourselves; they fight and scream in a tortured anguish of emotional turmoil.Solace is often found alone, in dimly lit rooms, with mellow songs playing over and again.Reading DARK WORDS, sharing the pain within these tales help us dry our own tears, to drive away the clouds of uncertainty and crush the demons which haunt our souls.To accept and acknowledge the blackest days of our lives often reveals the pathway from the shadow maze of obscure reflection, into the sunlight of possible future.Dark days come to us all, at some time in our lives. They are not the place for us to dwell for too long.They are not our home.”
DARK WORDS is one of those books you should, you need, to have on your bookshelf. One of those books everybody should read, at least once in their lifetime. Get your copy today, now,http://amzn.to/2E79PI
Don’t worry if you live Stateside, Dark Words is available on Amazon.com tooHERE