Brave New Bullying: Goodreads Gangs, Amazon Attacks—What Are Writers to Do?

Awesome post. I’ve always been too introverted to get trolls, but I know the day will come. This will be the post I come running to …

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Today is a tad of a touchy subject, but in this New year, I want everyone to have a the greatest gift any of us can have…peace. Bullies, in my opinion, are among the lowest known existing lifeforms. I wouldn’t want to insult cockroaches and fleas by drawing a comparison.

Kristen’s History With Bullies

I grew up most of my life being bullied. I switched schools at least once a year and there was always a new gaggle of Mean Girls to make my daily life a veritable hell. I think this is why I grew to love books. I skipped school so much (to seek sanctuary at the public library), that I’m fairly certain I’m the reason for the current Texas truancy laws.

I couldn’t get out of bed. I became ill at the thought of even walking through the front doors of my school. I was poor and…

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The blogger who came in from the cold …

Wow. No even one view … ouch …

I can’t say that I don’t deserve it. A year-off is a long time in the blogosphere. But now I’m sat here, all day, writing and writing and (playing on my phone) writing … so I’ll have to keep plugging away and get my foot in the door all over again.

As mentioned in the last post, I now have an ongoing fantasy web-serial called Empires Crumble. It’s also available on Wattpad, for a different demographic. It’s only a thousand words a week, and I’m four weeks ahead yet.

The intent is that I gather some six months worth of episodes and publish it as an e-book. It is genuine fun not know how its going to go … and I have other tales from similar settings that I can fold into this one.

The serial made me break a rule: shameless promotion on twitter. Its my stiff-upper-lip (Thou shalt not draw attention to thyself), but needs must when the Muse is driving. I write good stuff. I’d like people to read it. So there.

I have to give a shout out to the most useful tribe on MyWANA – nice people, kick-up-the-arse inspiration. 

And finally, the one place I go for that ultra-kick, the writing team that is Deanweselysmith and his wife Kristine Kathryn Rusch. These two should get all the attention, accolades and honours that they truly deserve, and I would not be writing as much as I am now, without theirs blogs.

So that’s it for now. I have a house to tidy,  tea to make for three REALLY picky kids, (plus I’m trying to kick an energy-drink habit 😦 ) #amyawning

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One year later …

Yes, I’m back, with a funkier (!) beard, a failed degree, and a whole lot of experience  trying  to beat out a novel out of these fingers.

As you can tell, it didn’t work. photos/proimos/4199675334/

My problem is starting something, powering through the first third, then, as the words-per-day dropped off, getting discouraged, and then starting another one …

My computer is littered with stillborn works. Some of them even have covers prepared.

So I looked deep into my writing practice.  I moved my laptop from the living room to the kitchen, I kept records of  words-per-day. I actually went off-line for long period of the day (except the phone – that doesn’t count). I signed up to Duotrope, read short stories, bought  excellent video lectures from WGM Publishing, joined (and left) a crit group.  And I wrote and I wrote and I wrote.

But still didn’t finish anything beyond the odd short story and flash fiction.

So, I’m trying something else. An e-serial, where I post a chapter of a chapbook, week-in, week-out. It will mean being under the glare of on-line derision if I fail. It will mean I have to post, period.

The bonus is the comments I get, the interaction with readers, and the episodes can be collated into ebook eventually.

I once (rather snidely) messaged someone here about posting fiction on line about how ‘you shouldn’t give it away for free’. And this person put a smiley face and took it on the chin.

Well, he was right, and I was wrong, and it took me a year to get here.

Details of the e-serial up soon. #amwriting

photo credit: <a href=””>Alex E. Proimos</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a&gt; <a href=””>cc</a&gt;

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Marketing or Writing?

I have wanted to be a writer since I was 12. I got an A+ for a story in school, and then wrote more in my own time. At 18, I used my Care-Leaving Grant (a small endowment for leaving State Care) on an old green-screen Amstrad wordprocessor. I could have wished for a drafty garret to write in, maybe a life-threatening addiction or illness – but it was a start.

I wrote three books on that creaky old thing. I instinctively knew they were bad, so I decided to stop – to wait for that mystical experience to inform and better my writing.

In the intervening time, the world change beyond recognition.

Twenty years, three kids, and plenty of experiences later, I am in a place to write, and far better than I ever could have at 18. Yet, now that publishing is a button, I find that I spend more time reading about the indie community than I spend writing.

I instinctively dive for my Feeds first, follow the pundits, heed the experts. I laugh at the meltdowns and grit my teeth at the epublishing successes. I nod at the importance of covers and editors, mull over the marketing tools, consider my platform. I listen to the podcasts, follow the blogs, comment, review, repost, retweet, like, pinit and diggit.

I could be on my computer for two hours after the blessed little gits have gone to bed, and my time is finally my own.  But I haven’t written a thing.

Despite the danger that this post could turn into a navel-gazing guilt-fest – there is a valid point … (at the risk of contradicting an earlier post)  All this distraction is as addictive as a soap opera.  Yes, I want to know what happens with the DOJ vs. Apple, or Google’s s.n.a.f.u. concerning book scanning, but it’s essentially as important as who went to the second round in X factor.

It’s time I could better spend writing.

I hated the old Amstrad. I had to load the operating program every time. The disks stored about 5,000 words each. The printer sounded like a small earthquake. But it wasn’t online. There were no distractions. And I wrote  a darn sight more.

So what’s stopping you?

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5 Top Tips to being a BAD Indie-Writer

(Yes.  The inevitable ‘Top Tips’ post.  I thought I’d just get on with it, without pointing out how passe and cliche’d and it is … :p)

It’s obvious that ANYONE can be an indie writer. Anyone. You just need to be able to string enough sentences together and then press the ‘Publish’ button. Fame and fortune await if you just follow my Five-Step Program …

  1. Write a story about someone doing something.  Or the funniest/saddest/craziest thing that’s ever happened to you. This might take some time, but I’d advise no more than a week, cause you don’t want to miss this indie-writing boat!  The story doesn’t have to make sense (post-modernism) it can be depressing (literary) or it can be exciting, yet empty (genre). You can even copy you’re favourite book (homage) so long as you change some names (plagiarism).  Length isn’t important at this point – getting your product out there as quickly as possible is.  You need to jump on the bandwagon before it’s full, or you’ll be sorry.
  2. Spellcheck.  Maybe read through it once, just to make sure.  People won’t mind spelling mistakes, because they’ll know what you mean.  There’s lots of advice on paying editors to nit-pick, but that can come later, once you’ve made your millions.   Your manuscript is now ready.
  3. Draw a cover.  Some people can afford expensive covers made by real artists, who will cut into your profits no end, using words like ‘copyright’ and ‘infringement’ to scare you.  An afternoon using Paint, with the name of your book and your name in VERY VERY BIG WRITING should be enough.  Once they buy your book, they’ll realise your genius, and the cover won’t matter anyway. Ebooks aren’t like real books anyway.
  4. Publish.  Make an account with Amazon, or Smashwords, or Barnes and Noble, and follow the instructions about creating your book.  You are now a Published Author.  Do a little dance.
  5. Marketing should start with your friends and family. Ask them all to buy your book, and post good reviews on it.  Keep checking your sales stats to find who didn’t keep their promises. If you don’t have an account already, join Twitter, and follow lots of people, so that they will follow you back.  About 10,000 should do to start with. Then barrage them with links to your book every hour, on the hour.  Honestly, they won’t mind, they’ll love the book, and they will share their good fortune by telling everyone else about it.

Now, a few warnings.  There are many people who will tell you that the above list is the wrong way to do things.  They will want you to write the best thing you can – no matter how long it takes – and hire editors and cover artists and the like.  They will bandy words like ‘reader-identification’  or ‘targeted marketing’ or even the dreaded ‘business plan‘.  These people are jealous of their success, and don’t want you to get any.  If you were to listen to any of these people, you might get the idea that e-book publishing is hard, and arduous, and a bit of a lottery, that takes grit, determination, and the right mix of pushing and pulling to succeed.  These people’s writing has no value what so ever.

And one last unrelated item … some unkind customers might actually post unfavorable reviews of your book.  Under all circumstances, you must harry these people through all media available, with rants and threats, until  they remove the aforementioned review.  Just keep at it, they will remove the post eventually, I promise.

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So what’s the plan …?

A quick scroll down previous posts will reveal a rather alarming trend – procrastination. If I may wax lyrical – procrastination is avoidance disguised as real life. Maybe I blog only when I need to lift myself from my latest rut.  Way to go on creating a platform!
However, the last post did have the desired effect – I got off my arse (or the Xbox, as it’s known) and wrote some more.
But wadda ya know … I finished a first draft!
Now, the novella is not even remotely finished – there are gigabytes of advice on what I need to do next – but its further than I’ve gotten before. So I’m going to take it as a positive.

But since reading the most excellent essay by Katherine Rusch – and I CANNOT emphasise how much you need to read it if you want a career as a writer – its just a first draft. The first of many.  Maybe even just a journeyman piece, one where I learn my trade, figure out a few things.  I fully intend to publish it, with a cover and a little fanfare.

But it’s just the first.

Since finding time on my hands, while the first draft matures away from my star-crossed eyes – I took a look at something unfinished that lay mouldering in a forgotten folder.  It wasn’t half bad – not perfect, but more than salvageable.  It’s beyond first draft, polished even, but needs ironing and tweaking.

So suddenly, I have a second work, in need of a cover, copy editor and multiple readthroughs.

This, I hope, is how a career starts.  Not with pleads to ‘buy my book’ on twitter, facebook, email shots etc.  I’ll just keep sending them out, and damn the rest.

So, what’s next?

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What does it take for a writing career?

It has been a while since my last post – and now I don’t remember why I stopped. Since finishing my coursework, and ordering even more cover artwork, a lot has happened out there. All the DOJ malarkey, the NY Times figures on just how important eBook sales are to the industry, and Fifty Shades of Grey.

Honestly, you couldn’t make it up. But all discussion is healthy, even as the insults fly. The indie online scene, still in its infancy, is brimming with health, vim, vigour and zip.

In my own little corner of the world, a far more urbane menace has been seen. It sits in the corner of the room, near the tv, black sides gleaming with procrastinating malevolence.

Yes, I bought an Xbox. Creative output has fallen into a mire of button bashing hell.

Two things have goaded me to make an entry here:

  1. Katherine Rusch’s post on professionalism in writing, and why its not taught in university.
  2. The excellent 200th show on Radio Litopia, which featured Ben Fountain talking about his work (my emphasis).

And that’s been my problem. I might as well as put on a shirt with big flouncy cuffs and written with a quill, for all the attention I gave my business. Rusch’s husband, Dean Wesley  Smith, has challenged him self to write (and self publish) 100 stories in one year. And apart from doing it to show just how easy it is to publish, I’d say he’s doing it for fun.

Writing is work. A job. A do-it-everyday thing, or you may as well quit. I want a career in it. but I am playing Elder Scrolls III. A lot.

Something’s gotta give.

I don’t have a plan. A couple of ideas, which I’ll stick in my next post. And there’s a save on a hard drive nearby that needs deleting. Lets see if I can do that first.

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