The Uncertain Future of Amazon (and Indie) Advertising

So this one’s been on my list to write about ever since Jungle launched. Things have been … pretty busy, which is why it’s taken this long to get to it. But no matter where I’ve been, or what I’ve been doing, this topic has weighed on the back of my mind (even when sick, lol).

Why? Well, because I think it may have a lot of impact on the publishing future going ahead.

Look, let’s all be on the same page here: Indie publishing is the juggernaut change that the book industry is dealing with right now. Traditional publishers are fast falling out of favor, doubling down on archaic models and methods that haven’t made financial sense in two decades, while authors jump ship to newer, smaller indie pubs or just go completely independent on their own. And right at the middle of this swirling maelstrom is … Amazon. The world’s largest bookstore. Who basically looked at publishing and said “Oh, how cute and quaint. Well, you keep doing that, but we’re offering the future.”

Okay, what they really did was throw their doors wide open, say “Hey, anyone can sell a book here, and here’s your 70% royalty,” and let logic do the rest. Because few authors were going to stick with a traditional publisher model where they owned nothing and worked for a royalty so small they’d need to sell a hundred books just to make $10 when they could instead keep all the rights and sell two books to make $10.

Anyway, that’s ancient history by now, and the market is well on its way through the reactionary shift to this change, with traditional publishers struggling to stay relevant through all sorts of questionable actions like cutting author royalties even further or attacking libraries.

But this isn’t about that. Well, sort of. That’s all background to bring us up to speed so I can get to the real meat of today’s topic: Amazon’s Advertising system.

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OP-ED: Hollywood Clearly Doesn’t Want Video Game Films to Succeed

Okay, remember how I said I’d post tomorrow? Well, I’m posting today. You’ll get a post tomorrow. This news I just received … Well, it set me off, and a post had to be made.

I saw Sonic the Hedgehog over the weekend. And you know what? It was actually pretty dang good! But you know why? Only because Paramount reacted to the massive and rightly earned horror the public recoiled with upon seeing their “improved” version of the iconic character.

Sonic Redesign

Seriously. Remember this abomination of terror? The redesign of a classic character that Paramount did only because they apparently wanted to “prove” they could do it better?

Here’s what Sonic actually looks like in the games, by the way, so you can see how badly they screwed it up:

tsr_sonic

Only after being absolutely flattened by angry and horrified responses from the general public did Paramount push the film back and decide to change the final film into something actually resembling the the character whose name they were using, giving us this:

Sonic Redesign 2

Which, you’ll agree is a lot closer to the actual design of the character whose film again, they claimed they were making. You know, they just wanted to improve it.

So why am I talking about this (and exposing you to the horrors of Paramount’s “improvement”)? I mean, I didn’t even get into the absolutely awful choice of music for the first trailer, but I digress.

So why talk about this? Because I firmly believe at this point that Hollywood is doing its best to damage every video game property they can get their hands on. Why?

To damage the competition.

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Apologies for Vanishing

Hey readers! I live!

Yes, I know I kind of went completely silent after Monday (and given this post-LTUE week, probably not the best idea). But … it wasn’t just you guys I went silent with, nor was it for a lousy reason.

Okay, well it was lousy, just not in the way you’re probably thinking: I caught the con-crud. That’s right, a fusion of who knows how many cold viruses knocked me on my butt pretty good. Monday was okay, Tuesday was a little worse but not too bad … but yesterday? Yesterday it had advanced to a fever, which kind of wrecked my writing for the day (not only did it take a lot longer to put a sentence together, but I half expect that when I look at what I wrote today I’m going to find it wanting).

Good news, though. Last night I bundled up under what would normally be way too many covers and burned the fever out over the course of the night. I’m still sore, stiff, and coughing a bit, but I’m at least on the mend. And mentally competent enough to get back to work and see how much of what I wrote these last two days holds up.

With luck it won’t be too bad. But then again, writing while sick never feels that way at first …

Anyway, I apologize for the delay this has given to updates for the site. Yesterday or today would have been a post-LTUE post talking about some of the stuff I chatted about with other authors at LTUE, but right now I think I’ll wait until tomorrow to get Fireteam Freelance caught up,.

Speaking of Fireteam Freelance, what have you readers made of it so far? I know it’s been a popular post to read, but no one’s said anything. Maybe you’re all waiting on a bit more material before passing final judgement, in which case I’ll keep my own thoughts confined for now. But are you enjoying it? Looking forward to it?

Actually, while I’m writing, I should give you all one bit of post-LTUE news (and commentary): A Dragon and Her Girl, from the reviews dropping in so far, has been warmly received.

I actually finished reading through my copy Tuesday night, and it’s a delightful amount of fun. If you like dragons and heroines in any supply, you should definitely take a look at grabbing a copy.

Anyway, slowly returning to human semblance (or as close as I get, anyway) and coming back to life. More tomorrow!

Being a Better Writer: Keeping a Short Story Short

Hello readers! Welcome back after a spectacular Life, The Universe, and Everything writing convention! I hope you were able to attend, or if not, that you’ll be checking their youtube channel to see what’s posted as they upload panel recordings! The experience was incredible!

It was not without risks, however. Such as the dreaded “con crud” (aka you’ve just been exposed to around a dozen different colds and you’re low on sleep), so today’s post is going to be a little shorter than normal. No news, possibly some flat-brained typos, but I’m getting it done! So then, let’s talk about keeping your short story short.

This was a topic that actually came up in one of the LTUE panels I was on, in a roundabout way. An audience member asked about keeping short stories short stories, and said that they’d been told the best way to do it was to think of a short story as either the first or final chapter of a story. In other words, they explained, it either set up a beginning, or tied off an ending.

That’s actually a pretty good way to think of it, provided you’re thinking of a story where everything that can come before is capable of getting squeezed into that one chapter (though yes, that’s more important for a story that’s the “end” of something than the beginning, as one sets up and the other ties together).

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LTUE Day Three Report!

Hello readers! If you’ve been following the two days before this, well … you can probably guess how tired I am, stacking onto the two days prior. Thankfully, I wasn’t the only one in the green room this morning waiting to wake up. Cons are a marathon, and LTUE is no exception!

So, as I am currently only a few bare steps away from pure exhaustion (and my voice is almost gone from talking so much), let’s simply get down to business with the report!


The first panel I attended, at 9 AM, was “Paying the Reaper: Financing a War.” This is a panel I’ve attended before, but that’s because it’s a classic. And a golden panel for anyone who wishes to write about a military. Because it asks a very important question: Who is paying for all these soldiers, and with what?

That’s the whole point of this thread. To consider camp followers, the cost of a military, the cost of the logistics. This time around, the focus shifted toward modern militaries, and how the cost of maintaining them has increased tremendously alongside their force multiplication—something the panel wanted the audience to remember. Armies today are smaller than they were before, but far deadlier, while costing a lot more per person or bit of hardware compared to older times.


I then missed the next set of panels. I ended up caught in a conversation about 18th century sailing ships and the differences/similarities to modern vessels. One shocker that came out of this conversation, with the woman who had given the presentation I mentioned yesterday, was that the full operating crew compliment for a 112-foot sailing ship was … 12 people.

That dumbfounded me at first, but made sense. Today there are engines and mechanics to keep tabs on them, electrical equipment, etc, and they run 24-7 on some ships so you have crew rotations. A coast guard cutter twice as long, for example, has a standard crew compliment nine times as large.

Interesting, no?

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LTUE Day Two Report!

For all the typos yesterday, today may see even more. I am absolutely wrung out. Ever seen a taffy pull? That taffy is how my brain feels. And if I’ve lost my voice tomorrow morning due to speaking so much today, well …

Worth. It.

So, let’s recap, shall we?


9 AM I went to How to Ursurp a Kingdom. Yes, it was as awesome as it sounds. The panel talked about how to take over, assassinate, play political games, the works. I enjoyed it immensely.

Two works were suggested as primers during this panels. Machiavelli’s The Prince and a two-part CCPGrey video I’ll embed below.


10 AM was a panel on Oaths and Honor in societies. This panel covered a variety of topics, from how a character’s honor (or a challenge against it) can make them much more intriguing, or how characters from societies that honor different things can play off of one another (or even coexist).

More about characters with honor and how that’s a character tool than cultures steeped in honor, but nonetheless interesting.

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