OP-ED: The Great Wheel of Greed Grinds on With No Backsies

Hey folks. Max here taking a time-out from the Starforge editing (which is coming along pretty nicely and will soon have some updates) with a small OP-ED post.

Also, Dead Silver is on sale! Grab this fun and spooky Halloween-appropriate adventure mystery for under a buck!

Last night, after repeatedly closing a new pop-up on the site’s stats page, I noticed a new button next to every single one of the posts listed there. A little megaphone. What was this little megaphone? Why, it was a “Promote this post with WordPress Advertising” button! It appeared to be a very straightforward process: I click the button, I check that the advertisement appearance meets my approval, I fill out payment information, and then the post gets advertised … somewhere. I couldn’t actually see that bit without putting in all the other details such as payment information. So I sdon’t know exactly where it would have been, though I assume from the wording it would have been on other’s WordPress-based posts.

Or perhaps they would have been elsewhere on the web? Again, I couldn’t see that information without confirming the ad and the payment information, so I can’t say for certain. I’m just extrapolating based on the most likely targets.

Point being, WordPress is the latest in what seems to be every web service ever trying to squeeze more money out of its userbase by stripping away a purpose of the service only to sell it back to the highest bidder.

Amazon was the first for me that I noticed engaging in this behavior. Sure, you could sell their products on their store. But then someone got the idea of charging for “premier shelf space” and Amazon Advertising was born. It wasn’t enough that they were carrying your product and making money each time a copy sold. They realized that they could double dip and get the creator to pay for each product sold as well by setting up a “bidding” advertising system. Sure, you could just have your product “on the shelves,” but if you paid Amazon for each eyeball that looked at your product, you could make sure that by default most eyeballs saw your stuff first. As long as you either had a lot of disposable income (advertising may be tax deductible, but it’s still money out of your pocket) or could make sure that a certain number of eyeballs could buy your product, that advertising would take your product from “the mass” to “everyone sees it.”

Bear in mind, this is for something that Amazon already makes money selling. If a supermarket operated off of this principle—and maybe they do, I don’t know—suppliers and distributors would pay not just for placement on shelves, but a fee for each person that picked up an item and looked at it … even if they didn’t buy it. All those items at the front of the supermarket or by the checkout, where the most eyes look at them? Those positions would cost $X per-item to be there and make the supermarket money anytime someone looked at them. Someone handled that Snickers bar but set it back down? Mars owes the supermarket 7 cents.

We’ll get into how this quickly becomes—to me, anyway—insane and unbalanced in a moment, but first let’s move on.

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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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Being a Better Writer: Entertainment Value VS Quality

Hello readers! Welcome back to the start of another week, and with it a new episode of Being a Better Writer! I hope you all enjoyed your weekend. I certainly did. The conference I watched was a truly splendid experience, one that I would recommend to anyone looking for a little peace and thought with everything else that’s been going on across the world.

This weekend also saw the release of episode three of Fireteam Freelance, which resulted in a couple of surprised and curious comments at the end. It looks like readers are enjoying it!

And me? Well, aside from the conference, it’s all Alpha editing on A Trial for a Dragon! Making lots of little changes with this one, bits and pieces where a single word in the right place (or the wrong on) makes all the difference … and that was an unintentional G-Man, I assure you. Anyway, tweaking A Trial for a Dragon just so is time-consuming, but by the end, this story is going to shine bright, people. Which is good, because the clock is ticking on that April 30th submission date!

Anyway, I could go on and on about that and how fascinating the editing process can be (a single word, folks) but this isn’t a post about Trail for a Dragon, it’s for Being a Better Writer. And more, it’s a requested topic, so let’s talk about it!

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