News Post!

Afternoon folks! Max here with a news post! Just little odds and ends of news both local (ie, my news) and large (like say, Dragon Award voting). There’s no real order to this, just news as it comes.

So, first bit of news: Patreon Supporters! Tomorrow your ship comes in! This ties in with the second bit of news, but if you’re a Patreon Supporter, tomorrow around noon, I’d check Patreon for the August Monthly Reward. It’s going to be a good one.

Why? Well, yesterday I sat down and put my current project, Hunter/Hunted, on hold for a few days to tackle a second project. Got an e-mail a few weeks ago looking for short stories for an anthology set that comes out with a certain Writing Con each year, and the requests they had for what kind of stories they wanted got my brain ticking. I spent a few weeks coming up with a good plot, characters … You know, just letting it bubble in the back of my mind while I was at my part-time until I arrived at something I was really excited to work on, and well, since they do need it sooner rather than later and I’d just finished another chapter of Hunter/Hunted, I decided to take a quick break and write this story out.

It’s still unnamed, at the moment, though I’m bouncing some ideas around. And even if it does end up in this anthology, it’ll still be one of the first stories I’ve written for More Unusual Events: Another “Short” Story Collection. So don’t worry, it’ll show up at some point no matter what.

And for Patreon Supporters, part of it will tomorrow. I’m still writing it, of course, but part of the bonus of being a Patreon Supporter is getting an early look at things I’m working on, which tomorrow will be the first few thousand words (plus whatever I can get done today) of this story.

Right, so that’s two news things: Delays for Hunter/Hunted for a short story anthology, and the Patreon Reward for August. What other news do I have?

Well, here’s one. Tomorrow is the last day you can cast a vote for The Dragon Awards. Yup, August 31st is the final day! So if you want to cast your eye upon the nominations and vote for your favorite works, head over to that link and sign up for a ballot! The Dragon Awards is open to anyone who wishes to nominate, vote, or both. The more people do so, the better the award becomes! Plus, they don’t just do books; there’s board games, movies, and more in there! Take a look!

Okay, and final bit of news. Well, not really news, but more a recommendation for a place to hang out on the internet. Have you ever heard of suggestmeabook?

Your eyes don’t deceive you; it is just “suggest me a book” without spaces. Because web addresses don’t use spaces. Anyway, suggestmeabook is a Reddit subreddit that delivers exactly what its name suggest: Suggesting books. Folks show up and post that they’re looking for a book. It can be “I want something in this genre with these stipulations” or just “I really liked X book by this author, does anyone know of anything similar?” And posters on the sub can go in and recommend books that match up to what they’re looking for.

It’s actually a pretty sweet sub. I’ve found some good stuff being recommended that I’ve added to my library list just by browsing. If you’re looking for more books to read, or want something that’s like something else you’ve read but aren’t sure where to look, swing on over there and give them a try!  Fiction, non-fiction … they take it all!

Anyway, I’ve got writing to do. This has been the news!

Work Shift Today, Being a Better Writer Post Tomorrow

Pretty much the post title. Got a work shift today that’ll keep me from getting Being a Better Writer out on it’s usual day, so it’ll have to come out tomorrow.

Aside from that, there’s not much in the way of news. Shadow of an Empire and Colony both continue to sell pretty well and … Oh, hey, I do have something neat to share on that front.

I was in an online chat the other day where someone was asking for writing advice, dropped a bit, and someone else in the chat pointed out to the one asking for advice that mine was solid because I actually was an author. At which point the individual asking after writing advice asked what I’d written, and when I mentioned Colony, they were surprised, and quickly informed me (and the chat) that they had heard of it before, because their roommate was reading it and wouldn’t stop talking about it. Apparently they liked it, because they’d gotten this individual interested in it as well.

Nice.

Anyway, BaBW will be up tomorrow. Have a great day!

Watching the Hugo Awards Implode

Well, this is certainly interesting.

If you’ve been involved at all in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy world for the last few years, you’ve more than likely heard of the Hugo Awards, Worldcons infamous “Best Science-Fiction and Fantasy” award that’s been of more and more dubious quality over the last decade-plus. Which culminated in a social movement to try and wake it up that in turn saw the event show its true colors, with everything from mockery and public bullying (let us hand these “assterisk awards” to authors we don’t like) to witch hunts, statements about the ‘lower economic classes’ not being welcome, and even just plain reality distortion (‘A white male said this therefore—’ ‘That’s a woman, and they’re not white—’ ‘They’re male now, down with the patriarchy!’).

And faced with that and cries of “Go make your own Sci-Fi/Fantasy awards!” people did just that and left the Hugo Awards en mass. If, well, you can count what few numbers the Hugos managed to garner a “mass.” But they left. New awards rose up, and the insulars left running the Hugos and paying them any attention then, naturally, gnashed their teeth and threw little tantrums that how dare anyone try and compete with their legendary Hugos (crud, one such individual even has admitted publicly to trying to skew other awards, just because they can).

Anyway, point being, what I guessed would happen a few years ago (The Ent March) seems to have happened. The public was woken up by the Hugos antics. And guess what? They left. The Hugo Awards are down at low, low voting numbers once again while other awards that aren’t as staffed by the socially virulent are picking up the slack.

Which leads us to today, and what’s happened to Worldcon and the Hugos now that they got exactly what they wanted: Their own exclusive, tiny clique with no outside interference. Where they’re free of all the social injustices and “bigotries” of non-trufans. They got what they wanted.

Problem is … they can’t handle that.

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Amazonian Advertising Practices

So, for the last month, I’ve been experimenting with Amazons Marketing Services. Or, for those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, what amounts to paying Amazon in exchange for Amazon running ads for your product based on keywords and the like. So if someone searches for, say, The Expanse on Amazon right now in the books section, Colony comes up, because the two are similar Science-Fiction.

After a month, I’m starting to see a few of the things I’ve been told about AMS confirmed. One of the reasons I’d avoided it until now was because my research into other authors trying it out came to the conclusion that it was basically a way to get advertising for your books … but to in turn make almost no money off of them, if not none. This because of the strange way Amazon runs its ads, and the system by which they do it.

See, how it works is you set a book to be advertised, followed by a per-keyword ad cost and a daily limit to how much you want to spend. So the keyword may be “action adventure.” You set a cost of 25 cents, and then a daily limit (say, a dollar).

Now what happens is that whenever someone searches for books with the keyword “action adventure” Amazon performs a “bid” for the highest paying ads for that keyword. The ones paying the most go up, and then if the viewer clicks them, it pays one cent more than what that bid beat—so, for instance if the 25 cent bid beat out a 22 cent bid, then it would pay Amazon 23 cents—and the viewer looks at the book, and that 23 cents is counted towards the daily limit.

A little convoluted, but not bad, right? Well … there’s a catch. There’s obviously a catch. See, as was pointed out to me long before I ever tried Amazon Ads, and one of the big criticisms leveled against them is that Amazon has more data on who buys what than the Ad service uses. It simply acts off of keywords, rather than Amazon’s own “We know you’ll like this” system. And so you may end up with clicks that lead to nothing at all quite frequently, because the person who search “Science Fiction” reads Foundation and Hyperion, not Colony. Amazon knows this, but they let the clicks go through anyway.

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Nips, Tucks, and Other Site Changes

The attentive among you may have noticed some small changes here and there across the site. Particularly the removal of ads, and the rearranging of the sidebar on the right side there. I’ve moved a few things around to make a few of the more important items (like the search function, we’ve got a five-year archive of writing guides here!) more easy to access.

Everything’s still in it’s infancy, however. A lot of these changes are just minor, quality of life changes designed to make the site a bit more user friendly, easier on the eyes, and distinct. Which … is easier said than done. When I learned how to code a web-page, it was not only basic stuff, but it was back when HTML was new. So not all of it carries over.

But past that, I’m trying to work with the look the site already has. Having my own domain and whatnot does open up a lot of other “looks” and ready-made themes other than this one which I can slap across the site (in fact, this one is legacy support, so if I dumped it, I’m not sure I could get it back) but I’ll be fairly blunt about these other options: even the “clean” ones look cluttered and ugly compared to the current setup.

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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.

Op-Ed: The Indie Hypocrisy

Yup, an opinion piece. Kind of an odd one, too. But why not? After all, I finished the first draft of Jungle yesterday. I’m in a good mood. It’s been a while since the last one. And this topic has been on my mind for a good week or so; seems as good a time as any to bring it up.

Last week I had an interesting encounter. I was on a forum devoted to discussing video games (bear with me, this gets back to books fairly quickly) when something unexpected happened. In a thread discussing indie games and how great they were (games that are built and published without the oversight of a game publisher, just as indie books are written and published without the oversight of a book publisher), a group of posters started going off against indie books.

It was the usual argument. How could any book be good if it hadn’t been “approved” by some publisher. Publishers “only approved” good stories so anyone who wasn’t publishing through them was clearly not good enough to bother looking at. Publishers had all the editors, so an indie book would be rife with errors. You know, the usual junk that gets spouted off.

But what really made this whole chain jarring was the fact that this was in a thread devoted to discussing how great indie games were, games that did the exact same thing indie authors did—eschew a publisher in favor of their own efforts to bring a game to the world. So what it had boiled down to was “Indie games are great, indie books are horrible” and the same reasons for one being great were being espoused as reasons for the other being terrible.

This got me thinking about indie books and indie markets in general. It’s not hard to find someone slamming indie books on the internet. In fact, it’s just about the standard reaction. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that, at least from what I’ve seen, indie books are the only place that this happens. Everywhere else, indie is embraced by the majority.

And that doesn’t add up.

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