Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Smashwords

Perhaps More Writers Should Aspire to Be Like Edgar Allan Poe…?


Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe

As a preface to the main text of this post, I offer a statement fraught with truth (and, perhaps, fear, for some...):

“…most books, both traditionally published and self-published, don’t sell well. Whether your book is intended to inspire, inform or entertain, millions of other books and media forms are competing against you for your prospective reader’s ever-shrinking pie of attention.”

That quote is from Mark Coker, the Founder of Smashwords, “…the world’s largest distributor of indie ebooks.”—I also used it in a post I did back 2013, What About All The Authors Whose Books Don’t Sell Very Many Copies?

O.K, preface accomplished…

When I said up there that “Perhaps More Writers Should Aspire to Be Like Edgar Allan Poe…?”, I didn’t necessarily mean more writers should do “spooky” stuff (but, of course, not all Poe’s writing is “spooky”…); nor, did I mean more writers should drink themselves to death…

What if you knew that:

“…Poe earned only about $6,200 in his lifetime, or approximately $191,087 adjusted for inflation.”

What if you also knew that:

“…$191,087 was all you got for 20 years of work and the stuff you wrote happened to be among the most enduring literature ever produced by anyone anywhere?”

Those quotes are from an article in The Millions, entitled, Edgar Allan Poe Was a Broke-Ass Freelancer.

A few more excerpts from the article (the Voice in these quotes is Catherine Baab-Muguira):

“Last October, in the depths of a depression so profound and overwhelming that I had to take mental-health leave from work, I started rereading Poe for the first time since I was a kid… I encountered a writer completely different from the one I thought I knew…He was actually a lot like my writer-friends, with whom I constantly exchange emails bitching about the perversities of our trade—the struggle to break in, the late and sometimes nonexistent payments, the occasional stolen pitch….Poe’s short stories weren’t the adventure-horror tales I remembered, either. They turned out to be exquisitely wrought metaphors for despair.”

“You never enter the same Poe whirlpool twice. Much of his work has a purposeful, built-in double nature; he intended we discover ‘secret codes’ of meaning… “

“This points to the other important, less acknowledged, double nature of Poe’s work. It’s both art and commercial entertainment. Few other American writers so obviously and continually straddle the gap between high and low culture, between art for art’s sake and commercial enterprise.”

“I think if Poe hadn’t had to write for money, he’d probably have faded away long ago.”

And, in a second section of the article (which contains more details about Poe’s literary life), Catherine says:

“Picture this: A tech breakthrough has made mass publishing cheaper than ever before. With the cost of entry down, new publications launch with much high-flown talk about how they’ll revolutionize journalism, only to shut their doors a few years or even months later. Because the industry is so unstable, editors and writers are caught in a revolving door of hirings, firings, and layoffs. A handful of the players become rich and famous, but few of them are freelance writers, for whom rates remain scandalously low. Though some publications pay contributors on a sliding scale according to the popularity of their work, it’s mostly the case that writers don’t earn a penny more than their original fee even when their work goes viral.

“I’m speaking of Poe’s time, not our own. Still, I expect some of this will sound familiar. Pretty much the only piece missing is a pivot to video.”

As always, I urge you to go read the full article; but, as a fitting end to this post:

“When I first cracked back into Poe last October, my therapist begged, ‘Please stop reading him. He’s too depressing.’ But my experience of reading Poe and other writers on Poe the last 11 months has been the opposite of depressing. It helped me climb out of a very deep hole.

“In the end, Poe only pocketed $191,087, but he did get the immortal fame he grew up dreaming of. And I got taken, blessedly, outside myself. If the past is anything to go by, what lies ahead is not destruction. It just might be the stuff of our wildest dreams.”

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#SelfPublishing Decisions . . .


There’s no way I could write a post (or, series of posts) that would capture all the decisions you could make in a self-publishing career… Notes from An Alien

Though you could delve into most of the important options by taking this Free Course

The reason you could never discover all the options? The selfpublishing landscape is always changing.

If you were to click on these links {from the Top-Tags widget in the left side-bar} for the archives of my posts about selfpublishing or self-publishing (even the word indicating its existence has two accepted forms…) and read them in chronological order, you’d see my changing coverage of the Whole enterprise.

I began my foray into self-publishing by availing myself of the services of FastPencil and had them help me publish my short novel Notes from An Alien (free to download) in print and e-book formats.

FastPencil distributed the books to Amazon, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Ingram, and a few other places; then, more outlets than I’ve yet been able to determine joined the bandwagon (most of them charging more than I’d asked for from FastPencil {some day I just might figure out how they got away with that; though, I don’t much care if they make money off me as long as my book gets more coverage…}).

Over the last 6+ years since I first published it, I’ve:

Revised it…

Made it free to download here on the blog…

Published it, in serialization, on Wattpad.

Figured out how to make various e-book formats of it…

And, always had a link to it (plus all my other writings) in the left side-bar here…

Just over a week ago, I did something it took me around 4 years to finally accomplish.

I published the revised edition on Smashwords.

It would take a number of blog posts to explain why it took me so long to utilize Smashwords, since I’d blogged about them numerous times (check the Top-Tags widget, down a bit, in the left side-bar…).

Then, last week, I just Did It

Then… I discovered I had to get FastPencil to stop distributing it (they were ultra-nice about it and I’m hoping to get an interview with them here on the blog soon…).

It’ll take another week for the old versions to disappear; and, one of the things which it may surprise you to learn—I, in no way, bemoan not having it on Amazon (though, it will still be on all the other platforms Fastpencil was sending it to—PLUS, about 25,000 libraries…)

O.K….

There are more details about the why and how of this Self-Publishing Decision; but, since the book will no longer be on Amazon; and, since I want the reviews to be on my Review Page; but, since I have to have a post to link to in order to put the reviews on that page, here are the Amazon Reviews (there were more on Amazon; but, they were already included on my Review Page…):

By John Paul:

“Fantastic book that requires the reader to think and rationalize. If you like intellectual reads that inspire provocative discussion this book will not let you down.”

By Emmaleigh:

“Zoltai’s Notes from an Alien is a thought-provoking trip into alien worlds that makes the reader shudder with the close similarities that are often reflected on our own planet. The inhabitants of Zoltai’s worlds are bent on destruction of other worlds, over such things as greed, religion, and politics. Worlds are being lost, and civilizations are declining, all because one civilization assumes they are better than the other.

“This tale is an interesting and provocative leap into the realm of Sci-Fi. Using ties that reflect back on much of our own world history, the story is told by the view of a descendant of the first expedition to a new world. History unfolds rapidly, and the search for everlasting peace in the galaxy is profoundly written. The characters are finely crafted and the story unfolds with magnificent clarity, worthy of a movie. These characters, as they live and die, as they walk through time, leave a palpable change in their world.

“Notes from an Alien is a must read for fans of the Sci-Fi genre. In-depth, detailed, narrated by the fabulous Sena, the reader struggles along with each character, slipping into a world that mirrors our own. Well crafted and, if Sci-Fi novels are among the genres you like to read, definitely add this to your own TBR list.”

By Saran:

“Before reading, I knew very little of what this book was about beyond the title. But in nineteen chapters, each headed by an attribute of the Divine, Mr. Zoltai leads us through the struggles of a dual-planet civilization in achieving real and lasting peace. It is a deep rich read, a history, detailed with nobility and sacrifice, characters that I fell in love with, and mourned when they passed. There’s little humor, but what there is adds whimsy to the personalities of such as Rednaxela, Velu and the Artificial Intelligence Morna (btw, I would like an AI myself!). I also want to say that it’s the novel’s use of religion to create a united world, beyond the division and strife it’s blamed for on this, that appeals greatly to me. That is a subject very close to my heart – seeing the progression from one being and the resulting civilization to the next. I want that for us.”

For those readers still with me, I must reveal an Important Self-Publishing Decision—I began this blog (on January 1st, 2011) as a means to promote my novel; and, it’s probably the most important decision I’ve made; since, constantly shouting about one’s book will not draw folks to reading it—it, most obviously, repels them…

I chose to make this blog an Exploration of Reading, Writing, and Publishing; while, sitting patiently in that handy left side-bar is a link to the novel…

As the broadcasters say: “Today’s Important Take-Away Is…”:

If you plan to self-publish, find a way to be of service to others that carries within it a path toward your book; but, always, Service First………

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2017 Survey of Ebook Trends and Data


Both Smashwords and its Founder Mark Coker have been on this blog many times…

Here’s what Smashwords has to say for itself:

Smashwords is the world’s largest distributor of indie ebooks {over 430,000}.  We make it fast, free and easy for any author or publisher, anywhere in the world, to publish and distribute ebooks to the major retailers  and thousands of libraries.”

And, here are some of the introductory remarks to their 2017 Survey of Ebook Trends and Data:

“We’re looking to identify potential data driven insights that can help authors and publishers make their books more accessible, more desirable and more enjoyable to readers. “

“As you review the findings, please maintain a healthy dose of skepticism. The data represents the aggregate experience of thousands of authors and millions of dollars in book sales, but your results may vary.  Your book is unique.

“The factors that cause a reader to discover, sample, purchase or enjoy a book cannot be fully explained by data.  Nor can data yet determine why one story or writing style is preferable to another.”

So, Enjoy the Slideshow :-)


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10 Sites with #Free #Ebooks


Before I share the sites with free ebooks, a few words about the site that let me know about them — No Shelf Required.

Here’s what they say about themselves:

“Portal on all aspects of ebooks and digital content and for all creating, reading, publishing, managing, curating, and distributing the written word and other content in digital format, including publishers, writers, editors, content developers, distributors, educators, librarians and information science professionals. With contributions from book and library professionals and thought leaders in the United States and around the world.”

Their Mission page has this:

“The mission of NSR is to educate, enlighten, and, most important, inspire those who are in one way or another involved with ebooks and digital content of all kinds (e.g., audiobooks, videos) so that the book and library industry around the world can do its part to help spread literacy—the only effective weapon in our collective fight against misinformation, poverty, favoritism and inequality.”

It’s worth a trip over there to see what they offer and, perhaps, find a way to help them

I already knew about three of the ten sites they list; but, was pleasantly surprised about the others (the descriptions following the links are quotes from the site…):

Openculture.com attempts to partially fill the gap between e-collections and all the variety of other material that has been brought together across the Web.

Eserver is a growing online community where hundreds of writers, artists, editors and scholars gather to publish works as open archives, available free of charge to readers.

Unglue.it is based on the premise that small gifts by many users can free ebooks from the DRM fetters that bind them…in essence, ‘ungluing’ them in a virtual way.

Knowledge Unlatched offers a global library consortium approach to funding open access books…

HathiTrust Digital Library is likely the most oriented towards academic researchers, largely because it was the product of 13 universities that made up the Committee on Institutional Cooperation…

Smashwords — Though only a fraction of the full collection is free, it is still substantial…

World Public Library shelves millions of PDF eBooks in hundreds of languages, containing hundreds of the finest eBook and eDocument collections published on the Internet today.

Internet Archive provides free public access to collections of digitized materials, including websites, software applications/games, music, movies/videos, moving images, and nearly three million public-domain books.

B-OK is probably the largest free ebook site…

Project Gutenberg — The oldest (1971) of such collections, it currently has a collection of 53,000+ volumes.

So

Stop working, Stop socializing, Stop Everything & Read More Ebooks :-)
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April Fools ?


Rather than my normal re-blog today, I’m sharing something from Smashwords.

April Fool's Day

Image Courtesy of Michelle Dennis ~ http://www.freeimages.com/photographer/saine-39175

However, before I share that, I must reveal a particular confluence of my writing and my gullibility

Yesterday, I published the Thirty-Seventh Tale on my Friday Feature, “Story Bazaar”.

It was called “Alternative Facts”that title echoing something that became an “issue” here in the USA (and, I’m sure, a few other countries…—and, in case you missed it, here’s a bit of news coverage…)

Also yesterday, as I often do, I sent my Best Friend, who lives in Australia, a link to a story from one of her newspapers.

It claimed the Mayor of Melbourne was instituting a policy to keep Daylight Saving Time going in the Central Business District to increase financial benefits

It turned out to be an April Fools’ prank that totally took me in (and, if you’re wondering, it is true that Australia gets to any given day sooner than I do…)

So, when I put those two things I did together, I get this weird formula:

Alternative Facts ?=? April Fools

And, all that leads me to the hard-hitting article from Smashwords—Fahrenheit 451 Meets April Fools—read it and ponder

I’ll give you one excerpt to entice you to take the link:

“What does it portend for civil society and humanity when willful ignorance is celebrated above facts?

“As authors and readers, we should care. Books are the best vehicles for deep thinking. We authors have the power – one book at a time – to right this wayward ship.  We readers have a responsibility to demand truth telling.”

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If you don’t see a way to comment (or, “reply”) after this post, try up there at the top right…
Read Some Strange Fantasies
Grab A Free Novel…
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Google Author Page
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com