Tuesday, January 31, 2012

There is no self-epublishing bubble (but you might not find gold…)

GuardianBooks announced on twitter “Two epublishing doom-sayers on @guardianbooks today.” I’m not sure I’d trust either with a crystal ball to be honest. In particular, I think Ewan Morrison’s argument that self-epublishing is a bubble is spectacularly off.

At the risk of sounding like a bargain-basement Joe Konrath, ebooks aren’t going away. It’s a technology shift. Ebooks are a bubble in the same way music CD’s, then .mp3 downloads are a bubble, or movies are a bubble, as in they’re not a bubble at all. There are people who still like vinyl records and theatre, but neither has the cultural significance they once had.

I can see why Morrison is trying to make an analogy between bubbles and self-epublishing, but I suspect Gold Rush is a better analogy. Fuelled by the success stories of writers like Amanda Hocking and John Locke, a bunch of folks have decided there’s gold in them thar hills, grabbed a shovel and charged off to make their fortunes. A rare few will strike a motherlode, some will eke out an existence panning dust and a whole lot of folks will return empty handed and disappointed.

This is what we’ll see with self-epublishing. There’s a lot of interest and excitement now, but that will fade once the Get-Rich-Quick merchants realise how much work is involved for little guarantee of success. The current glut of self-published ebooks will subside, but it won’t pop and collapse completely. People have put quill to parchment, or whatever equivalent, for a very long time now, mostly without any promise of riches and rewards, and there’s no reason to think the future is going to be any different.

As always with articles like this I get a slight whiff of Writer vs. writer snobbery. Writers are big, important people who write big, important words. They must receive cheques to support them writing their big, important words otherwise the whole of culture as we know it will collapse into the sewer. writers are hobbyists who scratch words out in their spare time after they’ve finished their shift and popped the kids off to bed. While what they do is nice and commendable, they’re not really important and, besides, they already have the financial support of their day job, or their partner.

When I read articles like this complaining about future hardships for publishing, I tend to substitute writer with Writer, because that’s what they really mean—the few deemed worthy enough to pass through the sanctified gates. Morrison talks about how bad it is when a newly self-epublished writer puts their book out and earns only £99 in a year. Um, the vast majority of writers never make anything, not a single penny. They spend six months, a year, whatever, writing a book and it doesn’t get published. THE END. Oh that’s right, I forget, those folks don’t count because they’re writers not Writers.

And Morrison thinks writers are going to suddenly stop overnight even though a century or more of receiving nothing failed to deter them in the past. Oh wait, my bad, he means those other Writers.

For the majority of writers, the old publishing paradigm was terrible. They couldn’t get published and no one read their work. Yes, this benefitted the reader by protecting them from an awful lot of crap, but it also atrophied choice, especially in marginal areas where publishers were afraid to take risks. Now it’s much better for the majority of writers—they get a chance to be read. These next few years will see more books available to read than at any previous point in human history. If there aren’t a few future classics amongst that lot we should give up as a species and all go and drown ourselves in the Atlantic.

The argument against that is the good books will all drown in the swamp of badly-written dreck. It’s bullcrap. If a book is good it will be found by someone, because it’s out there, to be read, forever. It’s available to be found, as opposed to being locked in a drawer somewhere, never to see the light of day, because it didn’t fit what the publishers of the time thought would make them money.

Morrison’s apocalyptic crash scenario is one where the competition between all the desperate self-pubbers creates a whirlpool of ever-lowering prices, which sucks in the major publishers and leaves no one able to make any money at all apart from Amazon. This could happen. As I mentioned earlier, over a century of receiving—on average—nothing has not deterred writers from writing. This would leave writing as the province of only eager amateurs. Purists would argue it should be done for the ‘art’ rather than money anyway, but they probably haven’t read a book written after 1870 either.

It could happen, but I don’t think it will. There is a bottom. Both Selena Kitt and Joe Konrath have experimented with pricing and come to similar conclusions. The 99c thing was fun for a while, but readers are prepared to pay more for better quality books, although probably not the crazy-high prices set by most mainstream publishers.

More likely, rather than crashing, self-epublishing will stabilise and mature. Readers will get savvier at both avoiding the crap and finding the books they want to read, and will ultimately benefit from greater choice. Despite this, it won’t be that different from traditional publishing in that a few lucky/talented writers will earn huge while the rest won’t make enough income to quit their day jobs.

The majority of writers are still better off. They make some money, whereas before they made none. They’ll find some readers, whereas before it was only friends and family. As for the Writers, they’ll have to prove they are Writers by being popular enough to sell enough books to support themselves, or by being good enough to win the awards/garner the reviews that will generate enough book sales to support themselves. If they can’t do this, then maybe they weren't that different from the rest of us writers in the first place.

If self-epublishing creates a stable ecosystem where writers that wouldn't have been published are able to supply readers whose tastes wouldn't have catered for, and allows those writers to make a profit, then it will be performing its role quite admirably.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Coming Soon... Succubus Summoning 101: The Novel

Out Friday 3rd Feb

“Is this where you tell me, ‘Yer a wizard’,” Phil said.

The man laughed. “No, not a wizard,” he said. “A warlock.”

“What’s the difference?” Phil manhandled a big bin liner full of crap into the skip.

“One’s make-believe while the other is very much real.”

So are daemons…

Phil Rowling, a normal eighteen-year-old, discovers this when he is plucked from a dead-end life of fast-food service and enrolled into Wargsnouts College for Warlocks. At the college students are taught how to summon and control daemons from hell.

Everyone at Wargsnouts knows what a succubus is, and why warlocks summon them. It’s a dirty joke shared in sniggers amongst the students. Succubi are female sex daemons, famed for their mastery of the arts of pleasure. Eager to experience this pleasure first-hand, Phil and his friend, Jake Pulman, take the Daemonica Malefique from the library and use it to summon a pair of succubi for a night of sexy fun. After all, succubi are sex daemons, used only for sex, how dangerous can it be…

Phil finds out exactly how dangerous when the ritual goes wrong and he is taken prisoner by a harem of hot succubi. Trapped in a perverse corner of hell, can he escape before the erotic wiles of the succubi claim his life and soul…?

Yes, I finally got around to collecting my Succubus Summoning 101 series together into a novel. If you ever wanted the complete story in a nicely formatted ebook, or even an actual paper-print book, you'll get your chance in a week's time.

So what's new? As you may have noticed already from the little excerpt in the blurb above, I've included some extra pages to give more of Phil's background--how he came to be recruited, who he met on enrolment, and so on. Nothing major, I don't want to dilute all those sinful succubus sex scenes after all, but enough to add more flesh to the world. I also spent some time cleaning up the chapters, fixing some iffy grammar, correcting typos; basically all the boring editing stuff required to bring the novel to as close to a professional standard as I could manage.

One thing I haven't cleaned up is the sex. Some authors tone their work down before putting it up on sites like amazon. In true John Carpenter style, I cut nothing. No need to worry there. Verdé and company are just as sexually uninhibited (depraved?) as before.

In case you're wondering, I'm not going to pull the existing chapters from Literotica and the other places I posted them. While I intend publishing the follow-up, Succubus Summoning 201, as an ebook first, I will continue to serialise the chapters on Literotica. All I ask is if you read the series and enjoy it, please support my writing by buying the ebook.

If you haven't read it yet, whoo boy are you in for a treat!

Next Friday...

Thursday, January 26, 2012

What a dull, grey, joyless world some people want us to live in...

Apparently this poster:

was so offensive it needed to be banned.


Some aspects of feminism need to be slung back into the dark pit of the seventies. They do more harm than good nowadays. How is this any different to the half-naked beefcakes that adorn the covers of romance novels? Should we ban those too, in the interests of equality? Let's keep going until everyone is in shapeless boilersuits and no tantalising flesh can be seen at all. What a rotten world that would be.

The most offensive thing here is they're trying to bring back Hair Metal. For that crime alone they should be locked in a cage with live panthers, preferably ones that haven't been fed for a week.

And have rabies.

Just to make sure...

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I've had better Januarys...

It's been an odd month.

Ideally I'd have been promoting Succubus Summoning 101 coming out as a book (my first actual novel!) about now. Unfortunately, what I assumed to be the simple process of converting a finished word doc into the many different ebook formats turned out to be anything but. The awesome Selena Kitt of eXcessica publishing had given all us eXcessica peeps a straightforward step-by-step guide on what needed to be done, which was great until I found out one of the pieces of software behaved very oddly on my M$ Vista laptop (I know, I know, the computer came with it and I was too lazy to change it). What went in as a lovely, nicely-formatted novel ended up looking like bloody gibbets run through an industrial saw when it was spat out the other end.

I'm really not helping myself with character names like Cέrμləa and Mamǝḵā Bēyˁṯān.

Or an insistence on using this as a chapter heading:

But hey, a first novel is like your first wedding--you want everything to be shiny and perfect. So I bashed my head against the monitor in an attempt to get it right, working with software seemingly designed for alien thought processes.

Then I came down with gastric flu and got knocked on my back for a few days, because why not, it's January 2012. Ugh.

Not the best month, as I said.

At least the worst is over. I'm not sure when exactly Succubus Summoning 101 is coming out. It's pencilled in for Feb 3rd. Watch this space.

Now, hopefully, I can get back to doing some damn writing.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

English Patch for first part of Monster Girl Quest, Chapter 2

Hello, hello. I nearly missed this while I was distracted with all the plagiarism drama.

Someone's been busy...

Once again Luka finds himself in a sticky spot with the ladies...

Hat's off to RogueTranslator. He's already got the first third of Monster Girl Quest: Chapter 2 translated, right up to the lovely Undine above. You can get the patch here. You'll still need a copy of the original game, which can be purchased from here.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Another Plagiarist Scumbag: Robin Scott

Oh well, I suppose it was inevitable it would happen. Someone has been swiping the free stories I put up on places like Literotica and StoriesOnline and trying to sell them as their own on amazon.com.

I’m not Robin Scott. I suspect Robin Scott isn’t Robin Scott. Succubus fans, if you’re tempted by “her” Halloween offerings, don’t bother. You’ve already read them.

Halloween Daily Short Story #1: Hollows Eve Succubus is A Succubus for Halloween.
Halloween Daily Short Story #2: Fuck the Flowers? is Don’t Fuck the Flowers.
Halloween Daily Short Story #3: Nÿte Nÿte Is Halloween Nÿte.
Halloween Daily Short Story #4: Red Light Halloween is Venus of the Red Lights.
Halloween Daily Short Story #6: A Succubus on Guard Duty is Guard Duty.
Halloween Daily Short Story #7: The Dance is Wrapdance.

If you also write and post stories on places like Literotica you might want to check her back catalogue to make sure your work hasn't been stolen.

I suppose I should treat it as a compliment that my stories are popular enough on places like Literotica for the unscrupulous to try and make a fast buck out of them. Still, it’s a horrible feeling to see a title, check the preview and realise someone has stolen your hard work. It’s like returning home to find you’ve been burgled. It’s not the value of the items taken, but the feeling of being soiled.

The value is negligible in this case anyway. Judging by the amazon rankings I haven’t lost much in the way of stolen sales. The nuisance comes from having to waste time chasing them off. "Guard Duty" and "Don’t Fuck The Flowers" are scheduled to appear in my next collection as part of a growing narrative. I don’t want to risk that, or future Succubus Summoning books, getting torpedoed by fans confused over original ownership or by the scam-artist getting cute on the legal side of things. I like posting work up for people to read for free and want to continue to do so, but this kind of bullshit is enough to make me wonder if that’s a wise strategy.

I’ll be contacting amazon to see if I can get the offending work taken down.

This is Robin Scott’s twitter link from her amazon site: @Erotica_scott. Feel free to register your displeasure and go all PennyArcade on her ass. These scumbags are a pox on readers and writers alike.