Sunday, February 22, 2015

High Standards & Low Expectations

   I'm in a wildly good mood today so I think I'll scout around for a picture to throw in here. This is how it looks in my neck of the woods except the snow hasn't quite gone just yet.
I could probably find a few early pussy willows if I went outside and poked around for a bit, but I'm happy enough to be warm and sickly inside.
   It doesn't take much to make me happy--selling the odd non-fiction piece without any problems after months of struggling along with fiction is enough to have me walking on sunshine for a few days, at least until the novelty wears off. Dissatisfaction is a stimulant, too, but too much of it is not a good thing for writers. The best writing usually includes some kind of a resolution, if not an outright ending, after all--there ought to be a point of some kind to your writing, a reason for fashioning your story in the first place, don't you think?
   At some point in your writing life you have to sit back--preferably in a comfortable rocking chair--and figure out just what it is you want from writing. A modest amount of money and a few entertained readers is all I'm looking for--more is always nice, of course, but it's not a priority. What IS a priority for me is to be able to write out of the home instead of having to plunge back into the madness of working for others. Being at the mercy of others has become an awful thing to me--I understand now why so many small business owners are willing to make next to nothing so long as they can work for themselves.
     As I've said, time is the biggest luxury there is for creative types--having that kind of freedom is what the writing life is really all about, whether you`re keeping yourself to a sixteen-hour writing schedule or playing hookey in a meadow. So keep your writing standards high and your expectations low. Everything else that comes along is a genuine bonus.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Sea Change In Order After No ABNA 2015

I ordinarily hold myself to posting at least once a week. But the sudden news of no ABNA 2015 was like trying to fall asleep on a pea the size of Gibraltar for me. I simply could not rest until I found a way to fully cope with it. So that's where I've been all this time. Coping. Posting for the sake of bitching alone isn't my style; at least, not unless I can offer a viable solution or two for other writers.

While others are still hoping Amazon will bring the contest back, I don't happen to think we'll ever see such a competition again. It served its purpose--attracting oodles of authors to the Amazon site--and it's done. End of story.

I was particularly miffed to lose the competition. Winning was a nice dream, of course, but I had figured out a way to maximize just entering the contest. I'd worked out an entire ad campaign of how to increase overall book and short story sales as my 2015 entry made its way higher in the ABNA rankings. Last year I was a complete novice at the ins and outs of ebook publishing as well as ABNA, but boy, was I ready for this competition. As well, as a non-American author, it's already harder to get noticed by readers. Like it or not, America dominates the market in North America and being a big company, Amazon will always focus on the money.

Like a lot of authors, American and non-American, I had watched my sales dwindle with the advent of Kindle Unlimited. I'd been hanging on until the ABNA competition (and in hindsight, I realize now that Amazon would have anticipated authors doing just this thing. It explains why they waited so long to tell us--again, in a suspiciously quiet way--that there was no competition this year, doesn't it? They've pulled the threads bitching about the lack of a contest out of CreateSpace now, too. It's like the contest never existed. ABNA? What's that?)

I had already removed my full-length books from automatic sign-up. Now, instead of throwing them back into KU as I had planned to do when this year's contest began, I took them out and put them into Draft2Digital. I have one more book to go. I have left my short stories in KU, but that's it. By the by, if anyone is wondering, Draft2Digital really is a refreshingly easy way to post your books on a multitude of sites for book buyers.

I was only mildly interested this week to read the announcement that Amazon is now offering Kindle Unlimited to Canadians for $9.99 (this is equivalent to $8.99 U.S.). We may be getting a cheaper deal, but we're also getting more limited offerings. So many authors have taken their books out of KU that I would only sign up if I wanted to read short stories. (I'm sure not the only one who has taken my books out and left my stories in.) And last week's announcement of the new advertising campaign isn't something I buy into either. If I want to spend more money on my writing, I'll buy better covers. More and more writers are forgetting the writing and focusing almost totally on selling widgets. Look at some of the conversation threads in KDP about this and you'll swear they're talking about how many refrigerators they can move.

It's important to me that I stay writing full-time, but I've also needed to start making some money. I don't mind living a barer existence than most. I don't mind foregoing luxuries one whit so long as I have the biggest luxury of all--my own time to do with as I please. So along with not leaving all my books in one basket, I began non-fiction writing again in recent weeks, but this time on line.

I've already made more with that in less than one month than I did selling my fiction books and stories over one year! (And yes, I wasn't making very much money at selling e-book fiction--I just started a bare year ago and I said it was hard to get noticed, didn't I?) This is both a relief and also annoying after knocking myself out for a solid year on the fiction end of things. I know I can write. I just don't think anyone's ever going to notice the cute little iceboxes I have up for sale with all these monstrous two-door refrigerators kicking around.

Nonfiction writing will allow me to squeeze enough time out to write more fiction and hope for better days. I can work on my Blood Tied series and keep going while a lot of writers, sadly, are having to go back to their day jobs.

Don't play dead until you have to. And learn how to stare down a fridge. Especially the ones made in America.

Monday, January 19, 2015

No ABNA 2015 Is A Big Slap to Non-U.S. Writers

   Amazon hit me and a lot of other writers with a Monday morning bummer: there is no ABNA 2015 this year. I suppose they thought (correctly) that there wouldn't be too many authors lurking around first thing Monday morning (most people have to work for a living after all and they're certainly not making enough off their KU borrows to survive these days).
   But, just as I did in my reporting days, I seem to have retained the luck (or bad luck) of always being in the right place at the right time. I stopped work on my ABNA 2015 entry to briefly check to see if anything new was posted about the contest.
   Surprise. There is no contest.
   Now Amazon, most certainly, has the right to do as they like. But they've managed to turn off a lot of writers in recent months and that trend is accelerating. Like a lot of writers, I think KU was a mistake. And I think this is a mistake. A lot of writers hanging on in KU just lost their last reason to stick around.
   This time, Amazon has managed to piss off whole nations of us. I wouldn't mind them dropping the ABNA competition so much if the Kindle Scout program was open to Canadians, Germans, Indians, and so on. But writing well in English and working hard is not enough. The Kindle Scout program is limited to Americans only (you have to have a U.S tax number is how they put it so it doesn't sound so blatant). So it's particularly annoying for non-Americans to have their announcement parrot that this program is available to those feeling bereft at the demise of ABNA. Well, it is. But only if you're American.
   Is Amazon arrogant enough to think readers of other nations are going to limit their Indie reading to American authors? Forget it. In fact, I think that anywhere on my Amazon profile page where I can announce I am a CANADIAN and a NON-AMERICAN WRITER, I think I will.
   Because this is going to piss off a lot of people.
   And rightly so.
   Some readers may go so far as to refuse to buy the works of American authors which isn't right either. (But I would you encourage you to buy mine if you do.)
   Joking aside, I truly wish Amazon had made the Kindle Scout program international before they pulled this one. Their credibility was dog-paddling already, but now its head has sunk underwater.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The More The Merrier

     So I've always been one of those who walk alone (no, I'm not a Twilight actor). This used to be the norm for twitchy, geeky authors. It's somewhat dismaying to have to push yourself in the other direction and become a social butterfly when your inner child prefers to crawl into bed and pull the covers over its head.
     Ah, well. I've done the life of skewed identity before. You get used to juggling your private self and public self as a reporter. It was usually possible to switch hats without things getting too crazy. (On one occasion, I glanced out the window while washing the supper dishes to notice a neighbor's house in flames across the street. I finished washing the dishes before I went to cover it.)
     Public participation in the world is a demand of many professions, though it is certainly harder to keep up with if you're famous. I remember an RN friend who was outgoing and friendly with all her patients. She was well-liked as a result. But I knew her in her private life and she was actually one of the shyest people I have ever met (never even learned to dance until she was 28 years old, having been raised in a fairly strict Mennonite family).
     So what am I doing that's public? I'm experimenting with an alliance set up by fellow author Angela Kulig to sell/give away eBooks as below. I've thrown in a Blood Tied story as my contribution at 99 cents. I would like to do a freebie, but I went a little crazy using up my free days in the past two months. Too bad I didn't know this was coming.
     If you'd like to sample a story from my Blood Tied Series or pick up a book/story from one of the other authors participating, this is the place:
     I hope every one of you had a wonderful holiday with your family and I wish you all the best in the New Year!