Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Kindle Unlimited and Subscription Book Reading

Amazon is like Disneyland.  It just does everything bigger and better.  Other groups try to do parades.  Disneyland does parades better.

So the latest change to the book industry is an increase in subscription based book reading.  In other words, books are following the Netflix/Hulu model.  You pay a flat monthly rate to read any of the books available in the site's electronic library.

In response to a few of the book subscription places that have been popping up such as Scribd, Amazon has started a new program called Kindle Unlimited.  And, like Disneyland, they just do everything better.  They already have a huge library of books and now they are giving authors a legitimate reason to be exclusive to Amazon.

Frankly, I think this is awesome.  In my opinion, this is the future of ebooks.  This will completely eliminate the debate as to wether or not ebooks should cost the same as hard copies.  And it is also HUGE for short story writers.  We will no longer have to rationalize every cent we charge for our brain children.  If readers are paying a flat monthly rate it doesn't matter what the price is.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Definition of Success

Let's start with the literal.  According to Merriam-Webster "success" is:

  • the fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect, or fame
  • the correct or desired result of an attempt
  • someone or something that is successful : a person or thing that succeeds
I often wonder about success when it comes to my writing.  At what point am I supposed to consider myself a successful writer?  According to definition option number one I still have a ways to go having none of those three listed things.

But according to definition option number two I may stand a chance.  "The correct or desired result of an attempt" kind of gives me a lot of leeway, doesn't it?  

I suppose I would have to be able to define what it was that I set out to do.  In this way, my teaching the violin is much easier to define.  I wanted to be a successful teacher.  A full studio of students that are able to play said instrument makes my personal validation easy.  But writing...?

To be honest, I'm not sure what I set out to do.  I suppose I started out because I wanted to make some money off of the stories rattling around in my head and hard drive.  Boy was I kidding myself.  If someone had told me from the start how much money it took to be SELF-published I'm not sure I ever would have started.

But I did.  And I'm hooked so too late now!

So to answer my original question: I suppose I am a successful writer by my own small standard (emphasis on small).  I set out to make money and I am.  Not very much but it's better than the $0 I was making before I started out.

I have to keep reminding myself of these small successes because, frankly, a writer's career path is a slog.  There are no promotions and certainly no bonus seasons.  You start paying a few bills with your royalty money and then read an interview by JK Rowling who has literally made billions.  How can I say that I'm successful compared to her?

But I can be successful without billions (though billions would be nice).  I'm accomplishing the goals I'm setting out to do and anything anyone else does is beside the point.    

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Review of "Tuning In," short story by Jayne Fordham

Canan Jones turns twenty-five and wants nothing more than to bury his painful past and enjoy his birthday celebrations. But when Canan receives an intimidating phone call from a man who knows his secret demanding he work for an underground government agency in Sydney, Canan fears his skill will be exploited. Canan has the ability to tune into the emotions of other people and his skill increases in strength daily.

Initially refusing to accept the job offer, Canan realises it may be the only chance he has to obtain answers to his past. To what lengths will Canan go to to piece together the fragments of his traumatic childhood?

Tuning In can be read as a standalone short story or as a precursor to Intuition (Book One of the Elite Series).

This story introduced an interesting concept but failed to deliver.  It reads like a prologue to a larger work more than a standalone story.  There's a cast of characters introduced, a problem presented and then... the end.

It's a shame because what I did get to read about this character was intriguing.  There's a hint of supernatural powers that make for a fun adventure.  But even short stories must present the reader with a complete concept.

2.5/5 stars
Reviewed by Alain Gomez

Buy this story on Amazon.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

I Would Give Myself 4/5 Stars

One thing that amuses me is how incensed artists (writers included) get over their art.  Trust me, I do it too.  I'm no saint.  Art is a highly personal thing.  The term "brain child" very aptly summarizes the situation.  So it's only natural that we become defensive when our creativity is questioned.

The thing is, our creativity is never the thing in question.  And that's something that took me a long time to really process.  The sheer fact that I'm even trying to create something makes me creative.  So when I receive a critique of my work the feedback is not about my viewpoint.  It's about how well I conveyed that viewpoint.

To put it another way, say I were a sculptor trying to make an elephant out of clay and it turns out looking like a blob.  I show it to someone and that person says it looks nothing like an elephant.  The issue is not about my mental vision.  It's my job as the sculptor to acquire the necessary skills with the medium to convey what I want to convey.

Easier said that done.

It's so important that writers learn how to be self-critical.  If you were reading your own story, what would you rate it?  Looking back at some of my older work, I would give myself a 3/5 stars.  Amusing stories but underdeveloped.  This October will be my fourth year writing and I'm just now getting to a point where I feel like I could be scraping the edge of 4/5 stars.

Will I ever reach a personal rating of 5/5 stars?  To be honest, I really don't know.  It also doesn't matter.  What's important was that I have come to terms with the fact that this is a journey, not a destination.  There's always room for more improvement.