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.
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.
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.
You may, or may not, have noticed I have not posted here for a while.
This is because there is so much happening in the book and publishing world; two areas I am involved in.
Here is one major ‘continental shift’ which is taking place right now.
FREEBIE books have lost their appeal.
“The general public has become immune and dissatisfied with the mass of FREE and GIVEAWAY books.
What was once a novel, loss-leading marketing tool has become a haunt for freebie hunters who just want free and have NO interest in the author, or on many occasions the book itself.
In fact, Amazon’s own download figures show that ONLY 2% of ALL free books are read, with over 70% being deleted within 14 days of downloading. (or discarded in the case of paperbacks.)
The probable reason is, that as free loses its appeal authors and publishers are now giving away vouchers, gifts and running competitions to entice people to download their free books.
Basically, they are paying people to download in an attempt to manipulate the figures and gain a ‘ranking status’, in the hope it will influence genuine readers to purchase.
Whilst this may have worked in the past, it no longer has any substantial legacy, particularly as Amazon has once again changed their logarithms to combat this ‘false’ accounting of sale.
Now only verified ‘paid for’ purchases will count towards rankings.
Which leaves only one possible benefit of giving a book away… that of building a mailing list for future direct marketing and sales.
BUT… this now only tends to create a false list of possible future people who may read another of those books, because once downloaded the ‘reader’ then cancels their subscription/listing (as is their legal right). Only dedicated Freebie hunters stay, waiting for the next free book you offer. Which is one of the reasons why only 2% of such downloads are actually read.
This means, most indie authors who give their books away in the belief they will gain readers in the long term are going to be out of pocket for a long, long time. Those who pay companies, the free book marketing businesses, are losing far more.
If it sounds too good to be true… it is.
In the cold light of day… paying someone to give away your book, the book you may have spent a year or so producing, spending money on editing, formatting and cover design, in the vague hope that free will earn you an income, let alone cover your initial costs… without any guarantees…
Hmmph, doesn’t sound so good in the cold light of day, does it?
Sales logarithms are not the only change AMAZON have recently made. They have changed, once again the way customer reviews work.
This time for the best, in my opinion.
No longer will pay for, swopped or gifted reviews count, and if things work well, they will not even be shown.
ONLY true, verified, genuine purchases by readers will count. NO form of solicited or professional reviews will be accepted.
If Amazon can and do strictly enforce this rule, then for the first time will all authors get, and all readers have a genuine, believable overview to the quality of the books they are looking to purchase.
I hope this works and the cheats and charlatans are cast out.
GOODREADS becomes the ‘GO TO’ platform.
Goodreads has been around for a long time and has slowly progressed to become a mecca for book lovers.
This trend continues and is now being enhanced on several fronts. Goodreads shall soon be THE place for readers and authors to talk and deal with all thing literary. There are many changes which will be implemented during the next year or two.
If you do not have a presence on Goodreads, either as a book lover or as a writer… get on with it… go now and sign up before you are left behind… and remember… you heard it here first.
Electric Eclectic is the new kid in town, but its founder has a great track record in the indie publishing market with established brands CQ International, TOAD Publishing and PeeJay designs.
Simply put, Electric Eclectic is a brand of books written by a variety of authors from various nationalities.
Each Electric Eclectic book is a Kindle Novelette, a short story of between six thousand and twenty thousand words. These novelettes are designed as introductory books, shorter reads to give you a taste of the narration and style of your chosen Electric Eclectic author.
Unlike the freebie books mentioned above, the quality of storytelling of each Electric Eclectic book has undergone a quality and selection process, before publication, to ensure each book reaches our exacting standards.
When you buy an Electric Eclectic book, you have confidence and reassurance of its quality, which makes it the perfect way to find great reads and even your ‘next favourite author.’
Electric Eclectic books hope that once you find a story or an author you are excited about, you will read their other books too.
That is what Electric Eclectic is all about, putting great authors together with ardent book lovers and readers… a match made in heaven.
Also, as Electric Eclectic books cost just 1.00 (dollar/pound/euro), the reader will have made a verified purchaseso their review will be accepted by Amazon, letting them voice their view and airing their opinion too.
I have been working on an awful lot of ‘Stuff’ these past few weeks.
I am always busy, it keeps me from hanging about on those street corners. But these past weeks I have been busier than most.
Let me give you a clue….
Over the last two weeks, I wrote approximately 630,000 words, 350,000 last week and 280,000 the week before.
I have promoted the November edition of CQI magazine, the Sci-Fi season special. Click on the cover image to read.
I am in the midst of compiling two annual catalogues for CQI, ‘The Collection – a guide to year-round giving’ and ‘The LIST 2018′ a catalogue of commended and acclaimed books.
During which time, I have beavered away at marketing to keep my two latest books high on the Amazon sales lists. Successfully.
I finalised and formatted a further two books, including designing the covers. They are:
Dark Words – dark tales & darker poetry is scheduled for release on the 1st of February 2018.
Within the Invisible Pentacle, a collection of intriguing feminine titles is due out on the 1st of June 2018.
That done, I can concentrate my efforts on completing two other WiP:
Floyd a Novel about an escaped psychopath on a bloody rampage of revenge and…
On the Highway of Irreverent Rumination & Delusion, which is a rendering of my past blog of the same name, about musings of life, living and our society, with many additional perceptions, formed into a book.
I am hoping to have both completed by the end of 2018… but who knows?
Included in this time, right up until yesterday morning, I have published three new eBooks, Kindle ‘novelettes‘ under the collective brand of Electric Eclectic.
Electric Eclectic books are absolutely fantastic, they enable readers to ‘taste‘ a previously unread or unknown author at the extremely low price of just 1.00 (Dollar/Pound/Euro). HOWEVER… unlike many low-cost books all EE novelettes are vetted to ensure they meet exacting standards, so readers can buy Electric Eclectic branded books with confidence.
EE is a Franchise, where the individual authors benefit from the marketing and promotion of being associated with the prime EE brand itself. Enquiries about becoming an EE author to EEbookbranding@mail.com
My current EE novelettes are:
North to Maynard, a tale of Gremlins in our modern world of high tech.
Three Floors Up, where a psychotic man watches those below until…?
Mechanical Mike, a tongue-in-cheek sci-fi robot story, set in Paris during WW2.
Oh, I have also helped a fellow author to create a fully illustrated children’s book, written by an eight-year-old girl. A project not without its problems, but one where I have enjoyed overcoming the challenges.
I took three days out to travel to Belguim during this time period too.
This post focuses on writing blogs, website content, social media and emails rather than stories and books.
As independent authors, our ability to write such is of paramount importance to our promotional and marketing strategy. Yet the way you write could be alienating those who are not quite as apt as you or me at reading.
A couple of years ago, I had a wonderful comment from a person who suffered from dyslexia about a post.
Although his comments were primarily about the content and not the presentation of the post, he mentioned he found my post far easier to read than many, if not most.
Curiosity got the better of me.
Why I wondered, could he read and understand my posts, when he struggled to read so many others?
Over the next few days, he and I conversed, by email, about his reading on a personal level and Dyslexia in general.
Before I carry on and explain the outcome of our conversations, I think as writers we should all know and understand what dyslexia and some of the most common reading difficulties are. So, I am including the following few paragraphs & bullet points, (which I cribbed from the internet), for clarity.
A formal definition of dyslexia used by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development states, “It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and / or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge. “
Unsurprisingly, the International Dyslexia Association defines it in simple terms. “Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability. Dyslexia refers to a cluster of symptoms, which result in people having difficulties with specific language skills, particularly reading. Students with dyslexia usually experience difficulties with other language skills such as spelling, writing, and pronouncing words.”
In contrast, Irlen Syndrome is a perceptual processing disorder, meaning that it relates specifically to how the brain processes the visual information it receives. It is not a language-based disorder and phonics-based instruction will not help someone with Irlen Syndrome improve in the same way it will help someone with dyslexia improve their reading skills.
At its core, Irlen Syndrome is a light sensitivity, where individuals are sensitive to a specific wavelength of light and this sensitivity is what causes the physical and visual symptoms that people with Irlen Syndrome experience. People with Irlen Syndrome have difficulty reading not because their brains have difficulty connecting the letters they see with the sounds those letters make, but because they see distortions on the printed page, or because the white background or glare hurts their eyes, gives them a headache, or makes them fall asleep when trying to read.
Unlike dyslexia, difficulties experienced because of Irlen Syndrome can reach well beyond just reading. People with Irlen Syndrome have difficulty processing all visual information, not just words on a printed page, so they often have trouble with depth perception, driving, sports performance, and other areas not generally connected with dyslexia.
Alexia is a form of dyslexia, but dyslexia is developmental, meaning that it does not happen from an occurrence such as a stroke or traumatic brain injury.
Alexia is an acquired reading disability because of an acquired event such as a stroke. It is most common for alexia to be accompanied by expressive aphasia (the ability to speak in sentences), and agraphia (the ability to write).
All alexia is not the same, however. You may have difficulty with the following:
Recognizing words ● Difficulty identifying and reading synonyms ● Difficulty with reading despite your ability to sound out pronunciation of words.
Although you can read words, it is too difficult to read for very long ● Blind spots blocking the end of a line or a long word ● Focusing on the left side of the paragraph or page ● Double vision when trying to read ● Reading some words but not others. Of course, this makes reading impossible.
A stroke survivor with alexia that can read larger words, but cannot read tiny words such as “it,” “to,” “and,” etc. ● Any combination of some of these traits.
My conversations with, (I shall call him ‘Jay’ during this post), led me to take a close look at how I was presenting my blogs, what made them so different and, could I improve them further?
It turns out the style I chose… I was going to say developed, but that sounds arrogant. So, the style I was using at the time was to write in small(ish) chunks, using relatively short sentences and paragraphs, as I have so far in this post.
Unlike the following.
This differed to most blogs and posts on the interweb which were, (and still are), long blocks of continuous sentences and sub-sentences, forming large paragraphs with very little line spacing or breaks. This may be a ‘style’ welcomed by universities and those writing technical/medical/professional and some literary journals. I have seen many papers which follow this style. I have even read a few and I must agree it makes for extremely uncomfortable reading. To read such a document, one must concentrate fully and focus on each word of each line. Whenever the eye moves from its forced liner motion, even for a moment, is when the reader finds some difficulty in returning to the exact location they were at previously, often meaning one must, annoyingly, re-read sections already read. Like you have possibly just done when reading with this last long drivelling, over worded paragraph I have written in just such a manner to illustrate my point that it makes for uncomfortable reading, even for those of us blessed with good eyesight and adequate skill. A point which I hope I have now made adequately clear with this paragraph which is representative of many blogs.
Writing in this form creates such a large block of words it becomes challenging to separate them into clear concise ‘bite-sized‘ and manageable ‘lots’ of information.
This is one of the areas of written presentation which was highlighted to me by Jay.
I already used a style of writing which broke long paragraphs into much smaller ones, whenever practicable, but I was not aware of the impact doing so made on the reader. From then on, I broke paragraphs down even further than I did ‘pre-‘Jay’
I was also made aware of unnecessarily long sentences, sentences with too many superfluous words.
This simply meant cutting out all those unnecessary words to make sentences read far more precisely and clearly.
Eliminating irrelevant words.
You see, this is not fictional or creative literature as when writing a novel, or even a short story. This is describing and sharing thoughts, ideas, information and data. Another skill set entirely.
Authors often discover this when having to write a precise about their latest book, like the back-cover blurb, an agent’s query synopsis, or for a promotional activity.
We all know, or at least should, that mixing sentence lengths makes for better reading. But so does spacing and breaking them up, like I have done in most of this post.
Please do not get me wrong.
I am not solely writing or directing my words specifically to those with reading difficulties, but I am looking to be as inclusive as possible and not simply because I am attempting to be politically, or socially correct.
I do it because I want as many people as possible to read my words. That is why I write.
Looking at how one presents their posts on the screen does not take much effort. Neither does adjusting one’s style to make it clearer and easier to read… for everybody, including you and me.
To finish, look at this Git-Hub virtual reality page. It shows how we can best comprehend the way those suffering from dyslexia and associated reading difficulties may see the written word.
My lesson following my conversations with ‘Jay’ is, “We can all learn from others, even those we may have previously considered had nothing to give us. After all, I never thought a dyslexic could teach an established author how to write clearer, even better. How wrong I was.”
Thank you for reading another of my Ramblings. Please subscribe to this blog if you will.
I am open to all comments and try to reply to them all personally.
You have guessed it, this post is all about marketing…
BUT… not marketing as you may comprehend it from a basic level, which is an amalgamation of advertising and promotion, but marketing from a perspective you may not have realised exists.
Have I got your attention?
I do hope so, because I believe having a clear understanding of this view of marketing can make or break your success as an author.
I once worked in hard-copy magazine publishing and spent many hours discussing marketing with prime agencies like Saatchi & Saatchi, John Walter Thompson (JWT), BDM & BBDO (now combined with Abbott Mead & Vickers I think,) along with media buying services Zenith, Media.com and OMD and PR companies including Ogilvy, Brunswick and Edelman.
ALL the agents I met were looking for that ‘something’ which would take the target audience by storm. They all wanted to make their mark within the industry by having a campaign which would enter media/publishing/broadcasting folklore. I.E, propel them into ‘the big time’.
Now, I am not one to poo-poo or trying to dissuade anyone from wishing to advance their career, far from it, BUT (I always have but’s in my blog posts), these agency agents failed to notice an overriding fact. The most successful agents, many whom now owned or partnered the companies these agents were working for, became successful by constants and continuity, not by a flash in the pan, however big a bang that may make at the time.
It is this same attitude I find when speaking to many business people, including authors, particularly new and/or first time/wannabe writers.
It is irrelevant, regarding the content of this post, if you write the most amazing, perfectly formed tome ever, or you have hastily scribbled a ‘quick’ novella or e-book novelette.
NO one will buy your book… unless they know about it, so you must tell people you have written a book. Doing so is called advertising, which a division of marketing.
Running a Thunderclap or posting about your book on social media is another area of marketing, like sending emails to friends to let them know you have published your book, BUT (another one), these are only the most obvious and basic parts of what marketing covers.
However, what marketing REALLY is, is EVERYTHING that you do.
Allow me to explain.
Whatever tasks you are working on now, right now, ask yourself this question… “How does this affect my marketing?”
Ask yourself this question at the beginning, during and at the end of each and every task you undertake in your role as a writer and author. Soon you will begin to understand everything has some form of influence in marketing you and your work to the world.
The way you look and dress in a video or podcast… “How does this affect my marketing?”
The images you post on social media. “How does this affect my marketing?”
Your profile image, “How does this affect my marketing?”
Your comments and replies. “How does this affect my marketing?”
How you look and speak at book fairs and events. “How does this affect my marketing?”
The layout and design of your tables and space. “How does this affect my marketing?”
Where, when and how you advertise and promote. “How does this affect my marketing?”
…… and so on.
You may notice I have not touched on your books covers, content, banners, advertising material design or so on, yet.
When do you make a paperback or eBook version of that book? “How does this affect my marketing?”
Did you notice I said when? Timing is also critical as an aspect of marketing.
There is an old, but true adage, is say’s, “If you want to sell your [books] you have to sell yourself first.”
Nothing is truer.
Another is, “People buy People”.
I will not argue with that.
These are things we all need to keep in mind. Dale Carnegie should have said, “we have to win friends to influence people.” That saying would sit well in our modern digital world.
In conclusion, we must create a persona as an author or business person. Much like a fictional character from one of our tales.
This character however should not be fake, but a facet of ourselves, our ‘public image’ one we must nurture and cultivate in absolutely everything we do.
The one of which we ask, “How does this affect my marketing?” in everything you do.
Only by doing so, by becoming aware that marketing means marketing YOURSELF, constantly, consistently and at every opportunity can you play the long game, the strategy which will make you an ongoing constant and not another nonentity looking for that great flash in the pan, the non-existent big bang which will propel you into the big time.
I could go on and write more. But… (another but) I would like you to consider this content seriously before I delve any deeper into the subject of marketing.