A minion of the Beast emailed me a week or so back to gently point out that I appeared to be selling A Protocol for Monsters cheaper on iBooks (Australia) than I was on Amazon AU. The minion was hurt, confused, upset, and most desirous that what could only be a terrible mistake should be rectified as soon as possibe.
Long story short, drop the price to $2.99 or we pull the book. Everywhere.
I explained to said minion that I'd been trying to do just that since launch, but Amazon's content management system wouldn't let me. A complicated interplay between royalty rates and territories made it impossible to charge less in Australia unless I charged less and dropped my royalty rate everywhere, cutting the money to be made from each copy sold from $2.80 to $1.00.
The minion agreed this was a suboptimal outcome for both the Beast and myself. Surprisingly, he said he would escalate this issue to see if the feature set for KDP (Amazon's publishing system) could be changed to allow authors and publishers to set differing royalty rates in separate territories.
I have no idea whether this will happen, but I was a little bit impressed that the Beast was so willing to even consider such a change.
I will of course take full credit should it ever come to pass.
Dealing with this shit, by the way, is now a daily occurance for me. I have to quarantine it to a couple of hours late in day otherwise it chews up all of my writing time.
17 Responses to ‘I may have nudged the Beast of Bezos into action’
I've finally been making some progress on Paris after a month of distraction by publishing commitments – some of them mine, some occasioned by the launch of How to Be a Writer. I would say the manuscript will be ready in two weeks, but in one week I'll hit the wall of school holidays, and hit it hard. So probably not.
However, I'm in a pretty good space at the moment. I've learned a lot from the launch of Cairo and both of the Hooper ebooks. I continue to study the industry, the market and increasingly the craft. I haven't spent a lot of time thinking about writing the last 10 or 15 years. I've mostly just been doing it and paying the bills. But having to rebuild the business has forced me to rethink it.
As part of that, I've been reading a book recommended by Ms Girlclumsy, Save the Cat, (Amazon link) by Blake Snyder, a screenwriter. (Sadly, he passed away in 2009. This makes me very sad).
I'm not about to turn my pen to screenwriting. That's not a skill I have or plan to acquire. But structure, character, and the revealing of character through action, these are the superpowers of the screenwriter, and well worth studying for their own sake. So I have been.
I have also been studying the e-book industry, of course. One of the arcane magics which most intrigued me is the idea of building a story to sell to particular readers. Some call it writing to market, some call it pre-optimisation, some call it selling out. I think the last is bullshit. Every storyteller wants to be heard. Every band wants to play to a full house.
I've had a couple of ideas for books floating around for years, but because they didn't align with the interests of my trade publishers I was never able to do anything about them. Revisiting some of these ideas, having learned the lessons of the last 12 months, I find myself more excited by the prospect of writing than I have been in a long, long time. In the last month or so, as I hurried from one commitment to another I've worked up ideas for half a dozen novels, none of which I would have been able to sell in the past. They weren’t the Axis of Time. They didn't revisit The Disappearance. The Dave was not involved.
Some of them were ideas for quite conventional thrillers, and I don't sell conventional. Others were closer to my original genre work, but not close enough for the business plans of risk averse trade publishers.
None of that matters any more. If I want to write these things, I'm going to write these things. Put them out there with my name on, with another name on, in any form I want. And the hell of it is, I'm pretty sure I'll sell a lot of them, because they're good stories that people will want to read.
I'd love to lay them out here for you to see, but that would be foolish. So I'm just going to get back to my keyboard, finish Paris, restart the main sequence of Axis, and very quietly keep pushing forward of these new books. They could be in the world of real things very soon.
22 Responses to ‘Writing update’
Introduced Thomas to Raymond Chandler this morning. Or rather to Chandler’s famous essay about the private detective as archetype. We were discussing favourite characters over breakfast at Brown Dog and I was trying to explain how all characters, in the end, are the same but different. They match certain archetypes.
I googled up Chandler’s famous ‘Mean Streets’ quote:
“Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid. He is the hero; he is everything. He must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor—by instinct, by inevitability, without thought of it, and certainly without saying it. He must be the best man in his world and a good enough man for any world.
“He will take no man’s money dishonestly and no man’s insolence without a due and dispassionate revenge. He is a lonely man and his pride is that you will treat him as a proud man or be very sorry you ever saw him.
“The story is this man’s adventure in search of a hidden truth, and it would be no adventure if it did not happen to a man fit for adventure. If there were enough like him, the world would be a very safe place to live in, without becoming too dull to be worth living in.”
He read it, grudgingly, and then I asked whether that description of an archetypal 1940s detective could apply to, say, Han Solo. (Spoiler, of course it can). The only point of departure is the matter of honesty. Solo would of course take a dishonest dollar from another rogue, but I don’t think he’d take one off an innocent. His need might tempt him, but his pride would not let him.
Character archetypes are much on my thoughts at the moment as I plot out not just The Cruel Stars but a couple of other projects. Chandler’s knight errant of the mean streets is not the only character type, of course. There are others. But I’ve always thought that short description captures one very particular type of hero very well.
17 Responses to ‘Phillip Marlowe and Han Solo as character archetypes’
This Call of Duty ad copy just isn't as good without them. In fact, it makes almost no fucking sense at all.
13 Responses to ‘The importance of adjectives’
Just sent off the manuscript and artwork to the guy who does my formatting. Don't know when I'll get the files back, but he is pretty quick. For him it's just process work.
It'll take me a day to read and do a final check, another day to get any changes taken in. On this schedule I doubt I'll have a book to send out before Friday, but it might drop over the weekend.
I plan to give this one away for at least a week, simply to drive subscriptions to the mailing list. When I've squeezed it dry for that purpose it'll go into the online bookstores for sale. Probably at US $3.99.
After that, the rubber meets the road. Both Hooper novellas drop in May. Paris in June/July. The full length Dave book, Stronghold, in Aug/September.
It'll be a damned close thing, I tell you. I'm running on vapour here. I've had to take apart my business (and I've had it taken apart for me) and now I see whether the new machine I've built can replace the old one.
I'm pretty sure it can, but I got some dark and scary fucking paths to walk before I'm done.