Being a Better Writer: Why Indie Isn’t Evil

Hello readers! I’m actually out of the office today, and this post was written in advance! So while you’re reading this, given the schedule I’m probably pressure-washing the underside of a 48-foot commercial fishing vessel.

Anyway, today’s post is another reader request. Understandably so, too, since the topic of Indie, or independent publishing, has been a hot one across the industry for the last few years. Last decade with some change, really. But the storm surrounding it has continued to swirl and continue to be hotly contested. Hence, why I often get questions about it, and even have talked about it before here on the site.

But this reader wanted it directly addressed as part of Being a Better Writer, not just in an opinion post or as a side piece on the site. So, today we’re going to talk all about independent publishing. More specifically, we’re going to talk about why it isn’t bad, which is what the reader specifically wanted to know.

So settle back, grab a snack, and hit the jump.

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OP-ED: Has Trad-Pub Just Become a Vanity Press?

So this question was posed and tossed around the other day in a writing chat after I came out with this week’s Being a Better Writer post (Working with Trad-Pub). Initially launched because someone had asked me if I was going to discuss Vanity Presses in conjunction with Trad-Pub, it later came back up because while the two are still different and separate, that barrier between the two has, from my perspective, shrunk quite a bit.

But before we get into this observation and musing, I do have one bit of news to share. The first draft of Starforge is now at 300,000 words, and about 66-70% of the way done. Step by step, day by day, the finale to the UNSEC Space Trilogy moves forward!

That’s all. Not saying anymore. So let’s talk about this odd question: Has Trad-Pub basically just become a form of Vanity Press? Well … yes? And also no. Vanity Press itself is on the way out, thankfully, due to the changing conditions of the publishing industry (independent authors helped, but print-on-demand is the real heavy hitter), but I’m getting ahead of myself. What is a Vanity Press, for those of you that don’t know?

Basically, back in the day, someone realized that of all those people submitting to the slush pile, there were a percentage of them with lots of money who didn’t have the inside connections that could have gotten them around the slush pile (this was in the days before agents or independent authors). So if they got their hands on a printing press, they could charge these people a large amount of money for their dream. They would provide no editing, no advertising, no marketing, nothing. And there wouldn’t be an advance. But they would deliver completed, printed copies of that “customer’s” book! And then that customer could tell people “Look, I’ve published a book!” which for many of them, was all they wanted to do.

And sure, they might promote the chance of fame and fortune, with a constant reminder that “Hey, that end is on you.” Might be just a little predatory, especially if they’re convincing people to take out loans to meet their printing costs, but that’s the cost of “business,” right?

Yeah, you can see where this is going, as well as why Vanity Press has such a negative stigma. People with a printing press taking folks money in exchange for printing copies of a book 100% as it was from the creator. Vanity Press didn’t provide editing, marketing, promotion, aid for the author (such as flying them to signings, or even setting those up) … none of it. Oh, and the person wanting the book published paid the publisher, not the other way around.

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Axtara – Banking and Finance Now Available in Paperback!

It’s here!

Dragons. Princesses. Banking. Now in dead-tree format!

Ladies and gentlemen, guests and readers of all species … The time has finally come. You can now order your own paperback copy of Axtara – Banking and Finance! That’s right, the day has finally arrived! Axtara is here in print-bound, dead tree form that you can order and hold for yourself in your own two hands! Or three, or four, or whatever appendages you may use for such a purpose.

But that’s beside the point. The point is that you can now purchase your own copy of Axtara – Banking and Finance in a lovely paperback edition to grace your bookshelf! Or display on your living room table. Or get signed by the author at a con (you know, once this whole Covid-19 thing is over). Or … well, whatever you want to do with it! It’s yours!

So where can you acquire this wonderful title? Simple! You can just click any of the numerous links to Axtara across the site (there’s one currently to your right, or just use the books tab) and then, once on Amazon, select the paperback option! Axtara is available in a wide array of countries too, so if you’re not in the US, don’t fret!

What if you don’t use Amazon? Well … you’re not actually out of luck. Axtara is available for expanded distribution. While I don’t know how long it takes for things to wend their way to the right place, this means that your local bookstore should be able to order a copy … or even your local library! Strapped for cash but still want to get your hands on a copy? Go make a request for it at your local library and share it with everyone who uses it!

So hit up a link, phone your bookstore or your local librarian, whatever you need to do. But then sit back, wait for that package to arrive … and curl up with a tale of dragons, princesses, and most of all, banking and finance.

Enjoy, everyone. Enjoy!

NEWS! Both the Axtara Paperback and Life, The Universe, and Everything 2021 are Almost Here!

Hey readers! Max here with a quick news update for all of you! One that’s about to deliver some truth to the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Are you ready? Here you go!

Eh? Eh? Take a look at that! That’s right, the print proof for Axtara – Banking and Finance has arrived! And it looks even better in person than it does in these blurry photos (I’m an author, not a photographer as you can plainly tell).

So, what’s next? Well, I’ve already spotted a few minor tweaks I’m going to make before letting it go live. The inner margin feels a little cramped, so I’m going to widen that up, and there’s a page near the back that’s on the wrong side of the paper. All easy fixes. I’ll be going through it this weekend, make the changes Monday and … well, yeah, unless I find a major problem, Monday paperback orders for Axtara – Banking and Finance will go live!

Something to look forward to, no? Now, in other important news … did you guys realize that Life, The Universe, and Everything 2021 is only three weeks away?

Yes, you read that correctly! It’s in February … and we’re almost done with January. Time flies, doesn’t it? But in case you were wondering, yes LTUE is still happening this year, and yes you can register for it now. However, this year it will be all online, in light of Covid-19. No travel. Just you and an internet connection.

Anyway, I’ll be posting more about LTUE 2021 as it nears. For now, I just wanted to alert you readers that it is coming, and quickly!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a paperback to read.

Final Axtara – Banking and Finance Preview! Preorder is Live!

I did say that there would likely be one more preview before Axtara – Banking and Finance launches on Tuesday, didn’t I? Well, here it is. One last sneak peak at the world of Axtara before copies start flying into readers’ hands on December 22nd! Axtara is currently up for preorder, and last night hit the Amazon top 50 in YA Fantasy for Women and Girls! You can jump right to the US Amazon page and secure your own copy by clicking the cover below (as well as keeping Axtara in that top spot) or you can search for it and find it in the Amazon Kindle store of your home country!

But until the 22nd arrives, the preview after the jump will hopefully be enough to tide you over.

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Axtara – Banking and Finance Preorder Now Available!

Well, that didn’t take long. At least, not from yesterday’s reveal of the cover. Ladies and gentlemen of all ages, Axtara – Banking and Finance is now available for preorder! Click the cover to go right to it!

Meet Axtara, a young dragon just leaving the nest in pursuit of her lifelong dream: To own and operate her own bank. Her destination? The edge of known civilization: Elnacier. The coastal kingdom is small, but brimming with natural resources and poised for an economic boom if the right conditions can be met.

If. Change is never easy, and Axtara is going to have her claws full founding Elnacier’s first bank as she runs up against skeptical townsfolk, stubborn ministers, suspicious business owners, and tradition itself.

Especially as she’s also about to be Elnacier’s first dragon …

This is the ebook edition. Print copy will come in January (working on it). If you’re stumbling across this for the first time, you can read excerpts from this book here and here.

So what are you waiting for? Grab it!

Axtara – Banking and Finance Special Preview #2

Hello again readers! As we move into this Christmas season, the release of Axtara – Banking and Finance draws ever closer! The ebook will, to my delight, be out before Christmas! I’ll have an official date and open pre-orders as soon as I have the final cover! Oh, and once again, we hope you laughed at the pre-sketch mockup if you found this via Twitter or Facebook and saw that MS Paint image (it’s been replaced, so if you missed it, tough)!

So, to help prepare you readers for this awesome day, here’s another preview of what’s coming, a companion to the first special look at Axtara from a week age. Save where that preview was an excerpt from Chapter 1 about Axtara leaving her home, this preview is from chapter 2 and finds our young dragoness arriving at her new home in the remote kingdom of Elnacier … the place where she’ll be opening her new bank.

Axtara – Banking and Finance will be releasing soon! In the meantime, hit the jump for your second look!

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Axtara – Banking and Finance Special Preview

Readers! I’ve got a real treat for you today! As you may have heard, Axtara – Banking and Finance is getting a cover at last. And no, it is not the featured image for this post. That was an amusing mock-up which, to some of you, will explain a post title from earlier this week. UPDATE: The real cover is now the featured image. If you find yourself wondering about the old one, well … you missed it. But you’ll see it again before long!

Anyway, with Axtara at long last nearing for many of you, well, there couldn’t be a better time to start hyping things up! So, for your enjoyment and delight to kick off this weekend, here’s a little snippet from chapter one!

Hit the jump, and get ready to meet Axtara at last! And once you’ve done that, get ready, because the whole of Axtara – Banking and Finance will be dropping soon!

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Why You Should Read … The Pinch

Yes, it’s time for another one of these posts. Why You Should Read …, if you’re not familiar with them, are posts where I talk about books other than my own that I have perused, enjoyed for one reason or another, and now recommend to all of you for (probably) those same reasons.

I’m a big proponent of reading—well, not just reading, but thinking and comprehending. Thinking critically. Questioning. Gathering information and then using it to look at the world through a new lens. Comparing lenses and asking why one may work better than another.

I’m also a big proponent of seeking out knowledge. I don’t hold at all with the idea that “what I’ve got is good enough, and I refuse to learn more” (sadly a common concept, I feel, in modern culture). We should, I believe, always be striving to learn new things, new knowledge and new concepts. Again, there’s a way to do that intelligently and with patience, but seeking out and learning new things is one of the blessings of modern society. Well, at least, the capability to do so is. A lot of people, sadly, don’t take advantage of this, then still want to play in the grand sandbox, pitting their toy soldiers of ideas against actual tanks (and often not understanding in the slightest why their plastic memes failed to make a dent in a well-armored, carefully researched opponent).

Basically, Why You Should Read … posts are the occasional recommendation of books that I find worthy of being added to someone’s read shelf, for one reason or another. Some are fiction (because you absolutely can learn a lot from fiction, as many scientific studies are discovering) and some are non-fiction (because understanding the building blocks of the world around us along with its cause and effect is pretty important). Today I’m recommending one of the latter: The Pinch by David Willets. Or, to use it’s less common full title, The Pinch: How the Baby Boomers Took Their Children’s Future — And Why They Should Give it Back.

Yeah. It’s a mouthful. And the longer title isn’t especially popular with some people, as you may guess. After all, it straight up points out an issue and assigns blame right there, and against a particular generation that doesn’t much like being blamed for anything save the good. Which, you might suspect, could be part of the problem.

But David Willets is not intimidated. In fact, he’s a member of that generation (the Boomers). He’s also a British lord and chair of the British Science Association as well as a member of the British Council of the Institute for Fiscal Studies. In other words, he’s not some random individual. Willets is someone who was tasked with studying the economic impact of the largest generation ever, along with a whole wing of the British government and independent research groups. And after a several-decade study, comparing data going all the way back to the late 1800s (and in some cases even earlier), and yes, involving the United States, Willets wrote a book about their findings to try and widen their audience because, well, it’s vitally important that people know what they found out.

And I’m saying that you should read it. Hit the jump.

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Schlock Mercenary Has Come to an End

Surely the author won’t mind me using the logo of his comic to promote it, right? Right?

If you’ve perused my website a little, specifically the links page, you may have noticed that one of the links I’ve had around since the very beginning leads to the most-excellent webcomic Schlock Mercenary, by Howard Tayler. Schlock Mercenary has been a long-time favorite of mine since checking it out in … 2005, I think (?), after I saw Howard present at a few panels at a convention and speak on two topics, one of which would go on to play a vital part of my future career. The first was about how comedy writing was really hard, which I noted. But the other, the big one, was how to take something independent, like a webcomic, and make a living at it.

‘If you can get 5000 people to be fans who will buy and watch your stuff,’ Howard said. ‘You’ll make it. That’s what you need.’

And he knew what he was talking about. See, Howard had left his middle-management job to pursue being a writer (and artist) in the webcomic sphere full time, selling books, prints, and as he once noted with “dark scatological undertones” … maybe even Schlock-in-a-cup.

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