Tighten the Belt

So, continuing the week-long run of “I’ve got news and stuff to say!” here we are at Wednesday. And, to no one’s surprise, there’s still stuff going on.

So, today’s post? A financial update. Effectively, I’m tightening my belt and going into drought mode.

Why? Simple. The part-time job I have has hit some dry spells in these summer months. Said part-time job already cut corners where it could, but now that we’re in the realm of little business for the next month, that means fewer hours for everyone. Fewer hours means less pay and, well … yeah, a tighter belt for the month. And odd gigs around town.

The interesting bit about this is that Shadow of an Empire launched just around the time everything started to slow down. And while Shadow of an Empire‘s launch wasn’t as strong as Colony‘s (the Sci-Fi Epic continues to wear the crown) it was strong, and as of right now has left a longer-lasting tail.

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Shadow of an Empire Reward Copy Woes

Got some rough news before today’s Being a Better Writer folks. Friday, June 1st, Shadow of an Empire launched (it is doing pretty well, by the way; have you read it yet?). Which meant Thursday night at midnight I was doing what I do when a new book comes out: sending out thank-you and reward copies.

This is pretty standard. I send a free thank-you copy to everyone who helped edit the book, plus all Patreon Supporters who are above the basic tier. Except some of them may be wondering right now why their links aren’t working.

KDP policy change. If I may be frank, stupid KDP policy change. See, KDP has decided that you can no longer gift to countries outside the US.

Wait what? Come again? No, you didn’t misread that. Even if the title is available in their country. Even if the value is the same. You cannot gift ebooks to someone outside of the US now.

Worse, despite claims to the contrary on the gifting page that the recipient can trade their gift for a credit to their account and simply buy said item, this is also not possible. I have been informed via e-mail with a quote from one of them that such a credit would only apply to a US-based account.

Wait, it gets better. Attempts to contact KDP (Amazon’s Kindle division) to get this figured out? Met with canned e-mails with no return information and no explanations. They’re not interesting in talking about it.

And as I said, this is a stupid policy change, especially for a global company like Amazon. There’s no rhyme or reason to it. It’s just “tough.”

So I did the smart thing. I filed a complaint with Amazon Kindle support (different from KDP support, who you can’t even call) and then e-mailed Jeff Bezos with a polite explanation of the problem.

This new policy is ridiculous and ultimately, bad for business. I’ve used Amazon to gift rewards for giveaways and contests to readers all over the world. Crud, looking at my sales records, I have readers all over the globe.

So, those on the editing team, I apologize for the delay. New e-mails will be coming out shortly with new links for those of you in the US. Those of you outside the US … I’m still trying to find a solution.

In the meantime, however, if this policy sounds bad to you, make your displeasure known. Contact Amazon and let them know that this decision is a foolish one. Given how many gifts I’ve sent to readers and fans outside the US, this decision really hurts my reader interaction. And it hurts anyone else who may have a friend on the global scene.

David Weber Speaks Up on “Disinviting” Convention Guests

This deserves to be read. I’m not going to post the whole thing here because, well, it’s David Weber’s take on things, not mine. I just happen to agree with it, so I’m going to spread and share the link to the post he made on the topic.

A little background if you haven’t heard what’s been going on, however. There’s a new trend that’s kicked up in the last month or so regarding conventions in the book world: See someone you disagree with announced as a guest at a con? Don’t just complain about it. Make up a bunch of horrible stuff, start a twitter-based lynch mob, and slam the convention organizers en mass in hopes that they’ll buckle under the deluge before anyone pauses and says “Wait a minute, this all sounds highly suspicious.”

It’s happened twice in the last month. Both times the accusations have been found entirely baseless, but even then, sometimes the con organizers have simply doubled-down and basically decided that even if it all was false, it’s just bad publicity, so no, those authors will no longer attend.

Weber’s reaction to this is well-said, and if you’re in the con circuit or thinking about getting into it, give it a read.

The Knee Post

Yeah, this one’s actually newsworthy enough it’s getting it’s own post.

First of all, don’t worry about this affecting my writing. That’s one thing I can say is that the news I got back after my MRI this week isn’t going to affect my writing life. Other facets, however …

Turns out, the doctor was wrong. Even he was surprised by that … though looking at the actual result, I can’t quite blame him. It’s a little unexpected. Especially at my age.

The initial knee injury? Long since healed. The pain and swelling now? That’s my cartilage. That’s right, I, at the ripe age of 31, have light arthritis in my right knee. And it’s only going to get worse from here.

Yeah. The MRI showed a big old ball of nasty (I’m guessing scar tissue and the like). Apparently, in my 31 years of life on this ball of rock, I’ve done a good 50-60+ years of living on my knees … and now I’m reaping the reward of living that way.

Granted, it’s not too bad yet. There are definitely some jobs, hobbies, and workouts that I have to give up if I don’t want my knees to explode and need a total replacement before I’m 40. Of that list, the hobbies and workouts one, especially where they cross over, hurts the most. A couple of those just got wiped out. I can still go hiking and level running (I think), and biking is fine as long as I’m not pounding my knees or taking big jumps … though the doc was unsure on mountain biking. Jobs that involve lots of squat-lifting are out too, since that’s going to explode my knees very quickly.

On the plus side, none of these things involve writing. So I can at least keep writing and selling books. And it’s a good thing I’ve got an income stream I’ve been working on there, too, because I hate to think what kind of mess I’d be in right now if I’d been banking on a physical job, because that’d be it for me in that career.

On a side note, Colony‘s new advertising seems to be doing a decent job of getting eyeballs on it, and maybe even a few sales. It’s a little early to tell yet, so I’m not quite uncorking the celebratory Martinelli’s (though that would be nice, as this week hasn’t given me much to celebrate with the core of this post, though I must say that the Alpha Reader reactions to Shadow of an Empire continue to be encouraging), but as of the beginning of the experiment, it’s at least paying for itself, so there is that.

Anyway, the good news is that the knee injury isn’t going to affect my writing that I know of. But it’s definitely making me reconsider some things I’d taken for granted.

Medical Delays!

Sorry guys, but Being a Better Writer is going to be a little late this week. Wednesday, to be precise. Unless I get a score of luck later, but …

Normally, even if I had a work shift on Monday and Tuesday (which I do) I’d still have Monday night to get the next BaBW post done … or at least Saturday. But this last weekend I was really crunched for time (and will be this weekend as well), and tonight? Well, tonight … I’m getting an MRI.

Yeah, remember that knee injury? Yup, it’s still being an issue. So I’m going in for an MRI tonight prior to getting a knee surgery that should put things back on the right track at last.

So yes … slightly delays. Sorry about that. But with luck it will be worth it!

In the meantime, I do have some good news and a link to a classic post. First bit of good news? Colony is being advertised now! That’s right, if you’re kicking around anywhere with an Amazon ad (I believe) or on Amazon itself, you can see a nice, shiny ad for Colony! And there will be more news coming on Colony soon (yet another project while getting Shadow of an Empire edited).

And that classic post? Here you go—

Being a Better Writer: I, Villain.

See you in a few days!

The LTUE 2018 Report

It’s time for another LTUE (Life, The Universe, and Everything) report! And this time, not in place of Monday’s Being a Better Writer post!

Why, you may ask? Okay, and you may be asking “What’s LTUE?” as well. So, in reverse order then.

LTUE is one of the best “secret” cons for writers out there, if not the best. It always has a massive, smashing guest list full of friendly authors, editors, and publishers, hundreds of awesome panels those same people participate in … and then just plenty of fun stuff too. Want to learn how to write romance, or common submission pitfalls? Want to catch the latest scuttlebutt and undercurrents from the industry, or hear embarrassing mistakes from now-famous authors?

Okay, you might not get all of that in one year, simply because you’d probably have to hit multiple panels at the same time, but all of that can be found at LTUE. It’s a convention for writers, about writers, by authors passing on their knowledge. If you like BaBW, LTUE is a con you should go to. February of every year in Provo Utah.

Now, the second question: Why is this report going up early? Oh, and shorter? Well, quite simply because I wasn’t paneling this year and was too broke to go to all three days (much sadness on that point). LTUE is a con, after all. Expect to pay (though students get in for $5 a day).

Anyway, with my knee dragging my finances down, I only was able to afford going to a single day. Naturally, I picked the day I most wanted to go to, which included a relaxed sit-down with Larry Correia (because the guy is fun to talk with), and went then.

So, what’d I pick up from this year’s LTUE? It was a mixed bag. Not at all because the con wasn’t as good this year or something, but because, personally, where I’m at.

Look, I’ll get two things out of the way right away. The first is that LTUE is fun. Like, ridiculously fun. Even if you’re there flying solo, it’s a good time. Everyone is there to talk about writing in some facet or another, from just starting out, to being stuck in a death spiral, to trying to submit their first manuscript. That’s awesome.

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Hardware, Halloween, and Other Updates

You know the deal, guys! It’s a news post. And there’s a lot of it this week, but I have categorized it, so skim through and see what the updates are!

Hardware Horrors

You might have noticed I’ve been quiet this week.

Like, quieter than normal. And it’s not just here. I’ve been almost 100% silent across all my usual online hangouts. And the reason for that is actually pretty simple. Right now, I’m writing this post through a tethered connection with my cell phone.

No, Google Fiber didn’t go down. My phone’s buzzing through them. The ethernet port on my desktop shorted out. Thankfully, without taking the rest of my motherboard with it.

Yeah, I’m still nervous about that one.

For those who aren’t computer literate, however, the ethernet port is what you plug the internet into if you’re not using wi-fi. Desktops don’t usually come with wi-fi, and I prefer the speeds and latency that a cable offers over a wireless connection (it’s a bit more reliable).

In any case, I’ve ordered an ethernet card for my desktop, but it won’t even ship until the 30th. So … I’m a little disconnected at the moment. Which leads me into my next point here—

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