Gobsmacked is a well-known colloquial saying in the county of Yorkshire. (That’s Yorkshire, England, for all my American friends.)
Gobsmacked roughly translates as; So surprised you cannot speak. Overwhelmed with wonder, surprise, or shock. Astounded.
Liken such a surprise to that of being punched in the mouth and you are beginning to understand the word.
To break it down, ‘Smacked’ as in hit, slapped, punched, struck etc. and ‘Gob’ a slang word for mouth.
Hence, I would say it means; So surprised you are dumbfounded, unable to speak, as you would be after being ‘smacked in the gob’.
Now, on with this post.
I do not feel Gobsmacked about the general lethargy and apathy I see and sense within the indie author community of late. I have noticed it, slowly but inexorably, growing over the past year or so.
Don’t get me wrong, this dispirited indifference is not an affliction which infects every single author, but a general condition proliferating throughout our worldwide community.
It could be a reaction to the changes at Facebook, the closure of CreateSpace, Amazons ever-changing algorithms or the news G+ is soon to close to the general public.
It could be a response, a consequence of them all. A mass writers communal PTSD from the constant shock and awe of all changes on social media… doubtful, but who knows?
(Much of what has passed this year, 2018, I predicted and wrote about on this blog. Not surprisingly about a year ago.) Check it out HERE.
So, you may ask, what is it that causes me to feel Gobsmacked?
Allow me to elucidate.
I frequently, make that continually, read posts on social media where writers ask how to market their books.
I read questions that ask what is the ‘best way’ to do this or that. I see authors enquiring “who has had success with (such & such) and how did they do it?” or “what is the best book marketing platform?” and “is it worth paying Joe Bloggs ltd to market my book, they only want £10,000 a week“… okay, maybe that figure is a little exaggerated, but you get my gist.
Far too many times have I read how authors have been ‘ripped off’ or ‘scammed’ by the unscrupulous preying on writers.
I have no doubts I shall read similar accounts tomorrow of people feeling ‘robbed’ as I did yesterday and today.
Why then, when a genuine marketing method is offered do so many authors fail to grasp the opportunity?
I am speaking of a marketing organisation run by well respected, established and recognised indie authors.
No strange claims.
No get rich quick schemes.
No large sums of money required.
Just a solid method of creating awareness and establishing trust with readers.
What’s more, I am speaking of a marketing method which pays full royalties to those participating. In effect, it is a marketing which pays authors to sell their own books.
Yet this is one writers ‘cannot be bothered’ looking at or cringe about paying the small, token (once only) membership fee.
Instead, those very same authors, the ones who did not want to spend a few pounds or dollars, then post on Facebook about how they have lost a fortune on scammers and vanity promotions.
This then has the effect of pulling down the mood of the whole indie community. Something which is currently tangible. All you have to do is follow a few of the author group conversations on social and you will soon see for yourself.
That is why I get ‘Gobsmacked’.
I am the founder of Electric Eclectic, a book brand marketing programme and author co-operative.
Electric Eclectic is not a get rich quick scheme. It does not offer magical solutions for generating massive sales.
Electric Eclectic offers a dedicated promotional strategy with growing market reach. It is a long-term, slow burn plan generating loyalty and confidence within our marketplace.
Oh, and yes, authors who are part of Electric Eclectic earn royalties too… but that’s only part of being an Electric Eclectic author.
It is, as one might expect from the title, a book about publishing at the lowest possible cost.
It is NOT a ‘how to’ book. Neither does it portend to be a step by step guide.
The Frugal Author is a book which considers indie authoring as a professional, commercial practise and, therefore, endeavours to share ideas behind the methods employed to minimise costs and maximise profits, just as any well-run, good mercantile enterprise should.
Following the publication of The Frugal Author, I am continually asked numerous questions about being an indie, small-press or hybrid author.
Many questions are common, others are those which frequently plague our minds; the ones we never openly inquire about for fear of feeling ‘foolish’ before our peers.
This has led me to create a book which gives the answers to those questions and maybe a few more? A book I have simply titled,
‘Lots of Author Stuff You Need to Know’.
I called it so because that is exactly what it contains, lots of author stuff you need to know.
This book is all about helping indie authors by sharing knowledge, like insights into book parts – which to use & where, important printing terms, best word counts for genres, formatting, the differing forms of editing and a ton of other ‘Stuff’ which is considered in this books various sections.
‘Lots of Author Stuff You Need to Know’ is produced as an easily downloadable eBook, available from most online retails including Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Scribd, Baker & Taylor, Tolino, Angus & Robertson, 24Symbols, Playster, Overdrive, Bibliotheca and, of course, Amazon.
Yesterday, the news broke that Google is to kill off its social media platform Google+ because of a massive unreported data breach.
The official line is reported to be:
“The company discovered a bug in one of Google+’s People APIs that allowed apps access to data from Google+ profiles that weren’t marked as public. It included static data fields such as name, email, occupation, gender and age. It did not include information from Google+ posts. The bug was patched in March 2018, but Google didn’t inform users at that point. “We made Google+ with privacy in mind and therefore keep this API’s log data for only two weeks,” the company said in a blog post. “That means we cannot confirm which users were impacted by this bug.”
However, Google+ will continue as a product for Enterprise users. It’s by far the most popular use of the social network. Therefore, the company has made the decision that Google+ is better suited as an internal social network for companies, rather than a consumer product. Google will announce new Enterprise-focused products for Google+ soon”.
‘Disclosure will likely result “in us coming into the spotlight alongside or even instead of Facebook despite having stayed under the radar throughout the Cambridge Analytica scandal”, Google policy and legal officials wrote in a memo obtained by the Journal. It “almost guarantees Sundar will testify before Congress”, the memo said, referring to the company’s CEO, Sundar Pichai. The disclosure would also invite “immediate regulatory interest”.
As Google is re-developing a form of G+ for inter-corporate communications, yesterdays confirmation of data loss is timed to coincide with their new platform’s progress. Large-scale commercial internal networks are major revenue earners. They require far less maintenance and development than massive public platforms.
My conclusion is, the move by Google, seen by many as ‘dumping’ their dedicated public users, is one of pure commercial practice. We must wait and see if G+ simply fade away as Google hope, or if this decision will alienate users to the point they ditch Googles other products.
I know there are many other companies, both large and small, waiting to grab a slice of Googles internet cake who are ready to provide alternatives.
We shall have to wait and see. But looking at Google’s history, G+ will simply become history and Google will have made another profitable corporate decision.
Now, I use Google+ along with Facebook and other (social) media platforms. I shop, online and on the ‘high street’, at major retailers. I bank, have a passport and a driving license. I am registered with the National Health Service and the Inland Revenue. I do the thousand and one things most of us do in our everyday lives.
Which means I am on one million and one billion various computer databases, from Government statistical through to tax, health, police, social and political. I am sure, somewhere, I am in MI5 and MI6’s database, most probably the CIA, Mossad, SVR, GRU, and MSS because I have a military background and a connection with the British Royal Family.
I know, without any doubts whatsoever my information is on and shared by/with, thousands of commercial enterprises around the world. I have junk mail, email and phone call logs as proof.
I know this, yet I do let it worry me because there is nothing I can do about it unless I escape to the lost world of Neverlandislandjungleretreat and never raise my head above the totally off-grid parapet. Which sounds pretty good in some ways but is impractical for most of us.
So, I accept my details are not private and live accordingly.
Data breaches and hacking are as much part of this world’s current situation and social culture as is terrorism, gender disruption and socio-economic inflation.
Personally, I cannot understand what satisfaction someone could get from creating and spreading a computer virus, although I can see the intent with ransom-wear and state-sponsored cyber-attacks. (Practice for the cyberwars to come?)
Sadly, I can also see where the criminal element of data theft fits into the larger information technological world we all now, by default, live in.
Greed, avarice and power have always been the prime motives behind most illegalities. Nothing has changed except the methods and opportunities presented.
Governments and the less informed members of society will jump up and down and stomp their feet each time a major breach of information protocol is reported.
The government ministers will shout, saying it is their job to do so on behalf of the electorate, while most will be doing so simply to be seen, for self-promotion, regardless to what ‘spin’ or ‘party line’ mantra they mutter.
The less informed members of our society because, they are influenced, even controlled, by fickle, shallow, manipulative journalistic propaganda and bullshite.
So, Google has issues with G+ and what else are they not revealing?
Facebook still has ongoing issues.
But so, do:
Yahoo, Reddit, Instagram, FedEx, Ticketmaster, Adidas, U.S. Air Force, The FriendFinder Network, eBay, UnityPoint Health, St. Peter’s Surgery & Endoscopy Center, TaskRabbit, Equifax, Ticketfly, Heartland Payment Systems, Air Canada, University at Buffalo, Target Stores, Partners HealthCare, TJX Companies, Inc., Uber, Facebook, Aultman Health Foundation, Orbitz, Aetna, JP Morgan Chase, Inogen, US Office of Personnel Management (OPM), British Airways, Sony’s PlayStation Network, BJC Healthcare, Anthem, Dignity Health, RSA Security, CarePlus, Stuxnet, VeriSign, Home Depot, Jason’s Deli, Click2Gov – Midwest City, Under Armour, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bithumb, Med Associates, Chili’s, Nuance Communications, Lord & Taylor, SunTrust Banks, Panera Bread, City of Goodyear, Rail Europe, LifeBridge Health, MyHeritage, Coinrail, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and Adobe?
ALL THE ABOVE SUFFERED MAJOR DATA AND SECURITY BREACHES IN THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS, MANY DURING 2018.
In 2017, the world saw more data breaches than any year prior. On December 20th, the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) reported that there were 1,293 total data breaches, compromising more than 174 million records. That’s 45% more breaches than 2016.
In truth, what can ‘Little ‘ol you and me’ do when major multi conglomerates and the world governments agencies cannot protect their own systems.
The answer is “Not a lot”.
Like any other crime, do what you can to stay safe, hope you are not a target and carry on with your regular, normal life.
Data breaches and information theft is, sadly and ashamedly, something we must learn to live with. Fretting and worrying about cyber attacks and data loss will not change a single thing, but it will give your face wrinkles and make you look older sooner.
Personally, I have better things to do with my life than sit here worrying.
Which is why I am such a handsome, young looking lad!
I was asked recently, by Francis de Aguilar, a writer friend, what first caused me to “Become interested in African wildlife.“
A simple question.
I told him it was after visiting South Africa, particularly the time I spent in the Hluhluwe Umfolozi Game Reserve.
However, Francis’s question stayed in my mind; although I answered him, it left a nagging doubt in my mind I was wrong.
After pondering for a few days, the truth unravelled itself. I now knew the correct answer.
My interest with Africa and its diverse multitude of wildlife was first stoked by reading the novels of Wilbur Smith.
Back in the early seventies, I picked up a rather dog-eared and worn copy of ‘When the Lion Feeds’, which I devoured within two days. I followed that book by purchasing ‘The Dark of the Sun’, again read within a few days.
I was about sixteen years old and, for the first time, ‘hooked’ on a particular author.
I read all of Wilbur Smith’s books up to the 1991 publication of ‘Elephant Song’. My favourite book, (excluding any of the ‘Courtney or Ballantyne Novels’) must be ‘Eagle in the Sky’…or ‘Cry Wolf’…or ‘A Sparrow Falls’….or…
But I digress.
The real answer to the question posed to me by Francis is, it was reading these books when I was a young man that stimulated my imagination, made me think about the heat, the vastness, the veld, the bush and, of course, the animals of Africa.
For years, I carried my imaginings of the world Wilbur Smith planted in my head with his words, until one day I had the opportunity to visit Africa myself.
I was not disappointed.
The continent is mind-bogglingly vast. The scenery, the smell, the sun, the animals, the people, everything exceeded my expectations, bettered those imaginings I held onto for so long. This I find is something rare, very few places ever exceed our own imaginative conceptions.
I have returned to Africa many times, to different areas, different countries within this vast dark continent.
You may have heard it said, Africa captures, not only your heart but soul and once you have been, you can never really leave.
These are some of the most honest words ever spoken.
I am here now, but part of me will forever remain in Africa.
Now, being a writer, I cannot leave an article like this with just one conclusion when I know there are always several stories to be told about everything.
Therefore, I would like you to also consider this from Wilbur Smiths point of view; or maybe it is just my own interpretation of what I think his view may, or could, be.
Who knows? But I’ll write my thoughts out anyway.
I wonder if dear old Wilbur thought of me when he wrote his first novel?
I don’t mean me as an individual, as a single person but as a conceptual being. I wonder If Wilbur thought he may influence some young man, somewhere in the world, to fall in love with Africa as he typed out his very first paragraph of ‘When the Lion Feeds’ way back in the early 1960’s. (The book was first published in 1964).
Then, my thoughts ask the very same question of myself.
Do I have an image, a conceptual ‘personage’ in my mind who may, one day, be influenced by my own work, by my writings, by the tiny little black shapes, these strange runes of ink I scattered across countless pages?
The answer is yes, I do have such a notion, albeit a rather intangible abstract.
Which leaves you to ask yourself the same, do you?
Think about it carefully, do you?
If you would like to take part in making my rather intangible abstract notion a reality, then please start by reading ‘Within the Invisible Pentacle’ a collection of thought-provoking stories which are not quite as you may think they may be…
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.
Even more so now Google plus is/has shut its doors. MeWe and Pluspora just don’t have the numbers or, as yet, the financial backing to grow fast enough or fight hard enough to take on the big boys… at least for now.
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.