Jun 242015
 

WW1A lot of us writer-type folks seem to be freaking out over Amazon’s changes in its payment policies on the relatively new Kindle Unlimited program. The panic attacks are instigated by misleading article headlines that (whether intentionally or out of ignorance) scream to the rafters that Amazon is once again trying to ruin self-publishing. These headlines scream that the ‘Zon is now only going to pay authors by the page read. According to several of the articles I’ve seen, the author will only be paid for the portion of the books that you (the reader) actually read. I’ve seen all sorts of analogies – from the cook only getting paid for the part of the meal you ate, to the musician only getting paid for the part of the CD you listen to. But that’s NOT what’s going on here folks.

All of us who publish through Amazon received the same email, and it says very plainly,

We’re always looking at ways to make our programs even better, and we’ve received lots of great feedback on how to improve the way we pay KDP authors for books in Kindle Unlimited. One particular piece of feedback we’ve heard consistently from authors is that paying the same for all books regardless of length may not provide a strong enough alignment between the interests of authors and readers. We agree. With this in mind, we’re pleased to announce that beginning on July 1, the KDP Select Global Fund will be paid out based on the number of pages KU and KOLL customers read.

(NOTE – the underscore and bold in the above quote were added by yours truly.)

When Amazon began Kindle Unlimited, they had a payment plan in which a KU customer could download a book, and as long as they read 20% of the book, the author got paid an equal part of the KU/KOLL (Kindle Owners Lending Library) pool. For those who aren’t familiar, KU and KOLL are programs that allow certain Amazon members to temporarily download e-books, similar to borrowing from a library, so they can read the books without purchasing them at full price. Amazon gets a membership fee as their compensation, and they put a portion of that into a pool to be split among the authors whose books are loaned out to entice more authors to enter programs that make their work available to those customers.

So as I said, when KU came out, as long as the person downloading the book read 20% of it, the author received credit for an equal share of the pool. It didn’t take long for many authors to figure the basic math on that one. Why write a 200 page book that required a reader to read 40 pages before you got paid, when you could write a ten page “book” that required the reader to only read two pages for you to get the same payment? For many authors, the emphasis on writing quickly shifted from writing and publishing novels, to writing and publishing short stories and serialized fiction. I don’t really begrudge those who when that route. It was a basic business decision, and I think everyone involved knew that it was a way of exploiting a loophole in the system. And I think most realized that it was a loophole that was bound to be closed once Amazon figured out how to do it without screwing everyone over. It was pretty much inevitable.

So all the teeth gnashing, and chest beating about how Amazon is screwing the little guy is, once again, nothing more than a bunch of sensationalist BS. Let’s remember that it was just last year that Hachette was screaming to the rafters about how Amazon was using its “monopolistic” position to squeeze the traditional authors out of their pay? Never mind the fact that Amazon paid indies almost three times more per sale than Hachette, or any of the Big 5 paid their authors. Never mind the fact that Amazon’s “monopoly” (which it absolutely isn’t), exists only by virtue of the fact that there is no other place where a customer can go to shop for a book, look for it using all sorts of search parameters and/or keywords, and find it with a few simple clicks of a mouse. Never mind that Amazon’s customers are the ones who determine which books are the best sellers, not the literary critics at a newspaper who get paid to write the reviews.

Monopoly? How is it a monopoly if I can go to Barnes & Noble, or Google, Kobo, Smashwords, or any other online book distributor to buy most books?

“But Amazon requires indies to sell their books exclusively on Amazon!” No, they don’t. They simply make it more attractive and more profitable for those who do. I have experimented with selling exclusive on Kindle Select, and with selling on all the other online distributors. I have done this on several occasions, watching my sales over months to see where it makes more sense for me to place my books. And I have come to the conclusion that for me, it simply makes more financial sense to sell exclusively on Amazon through Kindle Select. The additional money I make via the KOLL “borrows” more than offsets the few paltry sales I get through the other online distributors.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I don’t have any naïve idea that Amazon is in business to promote indie publishers. They’re in business to make money, as most of us are. But I do admire the way they go about it. They recognize that the ones they have to please are not the authors. And it’s not the big traditional publishing houses. From what I see, nearly everything they have done up to this point is in an attempt to please the customer. Isn’t that a novel concept? A business whose primary concern is for the customer!

So look at it from the customer’s perspective. I (the customer me, not the author me) log onto Amazon, and they have a list of items I’ve searched for, items I’ve purchased, items I’ve put in my wish lists, and just about any other kind of item I’ve looked at on their site. They compare that to items purchased or looked at by other people with similar purchase histories, and they put the items in front of me that, based on comparative shopping, they think I might be interested in.

Looking for a fifty inch flat-screen television with smell-o-vision? Sorry, we don’t have that. But people who have searched for similar items have ended up purchasing this similar item for the low price of…. You get the point. Amazon makes it easy to shop on their site. They want to continue to make it easy to shop on their site. Because that’s what keeps us coming back for more.

I’m not going to change that, and the Big 5 aren’t going to change that.

And I find that refreshing.

And before anyone thinks I’m in favor of this because it doesn’t really affect me, since I don’t write much short fiction, let me point out that I will likely begin losing money on this, too. Not because of the KU issue, but because my books are in Kindle Select. This means that I currently get money for people who “borrow” my books via KOLL. And if you recall, KOLL will now also be thrown into the “pay per page” category. And let’s face it, a lot of people who borrow a book via KOLL probably never read it, or don’t read it all the way through. So yeah, I’ll likely see some money lost. That’s why they call it a business. If I see drastic losses, then it will obviously be time for me to re-evaluate whether or not I keep with the Select program. Right now, I make more through Amazon borrows than I did with Smashwords, B&N, Kobo, et al. If this changes things, then maybe I’ll have to go back to publishing in all the other sites again.

I hope not. That’s a lot of work.

All right. Time to get off my soap box. Time to get back to work on the WIP. Stay safe, everyone.   :bye:

Apr 052015
 

So much for my vow to post a minimum of once a month. Shortly after I posted that vow, my father’s health took a turn for the worse. He passed away on February 25th. All I’ll say is that this is not the place to dwell on it.  I’m just glad I got the chance to get up here and spend at least a few months with him before he left us.

But this is my writing blog, so I’ll try to keep to it on subject. As the title says, Chucklers has been submitted to a small press. I won’t post any specific details yet, because I don’t know whether or not it will be accepted. There is a blind acquisition process where the manuscript will be stripped of any identifying information and will go before a group of editors who won’t know who wrote it, judging it based on the merits of the writing. I like that idea, but it also scares me. It’s the old fear that at some point, someone is going to read my stuff and figure out that I’m nothing but a hack. I think many, if not most writers go through the same feelings of self-doubt. I would imagine that any sort of craftsman or artist does. Or am I just that insecure? :-/

At any rate, this is the first time I’ve submitted to a small press. Until now, everything I’ve done has been indie. So I called to talk to them about the process in hopes of learning what to expect, and just as importantly, what to NOT expect. I already knew the basics. Assuming the manuscript is accepted, the publisher takes care of the editing, cover art and cover design, formatting for e-book and print, and the headaches of the actual publishing. That means I wouldn’t spend the money on outside services that I normally spend on my books. However, it also means that I surrender a significant amount of control over the process, as well as fifty percent of whatever money the book brings in. I also have to get over my nearly obsessive daily tracking of my sales numbers. What it really boils down to is that if they accept my work, they are agreeing to be an equal partner in the business venture that Chucklers represents. In short, they become an investor in the book. It will take some getting used to, but my insecurity is my own. This is simply the way small presses work.

When I sit back and really think about all the ins and outs, the only real concern I have is with the schedule. When I put the money up on my own, I pay for outside services (editing, cover art/design, formatting) and as soon as it’s done to my satisfaction, I publish. Assuming I don’t take too long with my edits, the time from manuscript submission to the editors to publishing the finished product is usually three or four months. Going through the publisher, it’s going to be closer to a year… possibly longer.

Now, that doesn’t mean I sit on my thumbs and wait for a year. It simply means that I have to put Chucklers out of my head for however long it takes to get word on whether or not the manuscript is accepted. It means I need to shift to other projects and get them moving. I need to do things like set up a Mailchimp mailing list, get some backlisted editing done, and get other works written and ready for publication. I received a phone call a few weeks ago reminding me that I had unfinished edits on the short story Ghost Story. I need to pull that out and brush it off. Get it finished and ready for final publication. And it’s time to get going seriously on the sequel to Half Past Midnight. For those who may not know, the name of the sequel is Year 12, and it’s officially going to be my top priority writing project.

There are also a few other writing projects I have in mind, but until I see how things go with Chucklers, I won’t know when I’ll be able to start them. All I can say is that I HOPE to get them done this year. But if I can get on schedule here, I stand poised to get two more novels written (and hopefully published), publish Ghost Story before Halloween, possibly publish another short story, and possibly write & publish another novella in the HPM universe.

So wish me luck. This year promises to be a completely new learning experience on many levels.

Jun 152014
 

Yeah, I’ve been quiet for a while.  Ironically, it’s not because I haven’t been busy.  Quite the opposite.  Life has been pretty “interesting” for the last few months. As in “may you live in interesting times” interesting.   :struggle:

My wife & I sold our house about two months ago. The idea was that we would downsize to a smaller house with more property. But during the interim between selling the old house & buying a new one, we were going to stay with family members. We expected it to be a matter of a few weeks, possibly a month or two.

But right after we moved in with them, life jumped up and smacked us all. We had a few crises that have demonstrated to us that Murphy is alive and well, and apparently has taken a liking to our family. I won’t go into details, because those stories aren’t mine to tell.  But a minor side effect has been that I haven’t been paying much attention to marketing for my writing, and to be perfectly honest, I don’t know when this is going to change.  As a result, my numbers have slipped drastically, and I simply don’t have the time or setup to pursue the “traditional” marketing venues.

Streets of Payne 800 Cover reveal and PromotionalSo I’m going to try an experiment here. It may work, and it may not. I just figure this is the perfect opportunity to try something off the wall.

My book with the worst numbers right now is “Streets of Payne”. I don’t know if it’s because the book is cyberpunk, and there simply isn’t the following for the genre that there once was, or if it’s because that’s my newest book, or if I’ve made a mistake with the cover, or blurb, or categorization, or what… All I know for sure is that the thing isn’t selling.

So here’s my experiment. If you think you might be interested in a cyberpunk-ish techno-thriller, check out Streets of Payne. If it looks like something you might be interested in, buy it.  I recently lowered the e-book price to $2.99, so it’s not like it’s going to break the bank.  And for the first three people who purchase the novel in the next 24 hours, and can provide me with electronic proof of purchase, I will give you an Audible.com promo code for the free download of each of my three published works in audio format.

So, buy “Streets of Payne” in print or electronic format within the next 24 hours, email me (jlb DOT author AT gmail DOT com) with your proof of purchase, and I will send you promo codes for the free download of the Audible.com audio book versions of “Streets of Payne“, “Half Past Midnight“, and “The Road to Rejas“.

I will do this for the first three people who contact me with proof of purchase before 10PM central time, Monday night.

And then I’ll do it again for the NEXT 24 hours… and the next… until Friday night, or until I run out of codes, whichever comes first.  Like I said, I don’t know if this little experiment will help, but I figure it probably can’t hurt, either.  Right?   :-?

And that’s it for now.  As always, stay safe.   :bye:

Apr 202014
 

MWPLinda Prather contacted me last week and invited me to participate in something called the “My Writing Process” blog tour.  Linda is a great author, and I’m proud to say, a good friend, as well.  She is the author of the Jacody Ives Mysteries, and the Catherine Mans psychic suspense novels (some of my personal favorites), and recently participated in marketing her novel “The Gifts” as one of “The Deadly Dozen”, a boxed set of twelve mysteries and thrillers by some of the best writers in their fields.  It was this boxed set that recently landed her the coveted titles of “USA Today Best Selling Author” and “New York Times Best Selling Author”.  Yeah, I wanna be like Linda when I grow up.   :)

To see what Linda had to say about her writing process, check out her blog post here.

Now, for the blog tour itself.  The  “My Writing Process” blog tour is where various authors answer four particular questions about how and why they write what they do.  It’s always the same four questions, but as you might imagine, the answers are as varied as the authors themselves.  Curious about it, I looked it up and tried tracing it back to see if I could find the origins of this tour.  HAH!  After finding literally hundreds of entries spanning back over at least three years, I finally gave up.  This thing is simply too huge and widespread to find an origin.  I can imagine someone one day asking an author, “Hey, how do you write the stuff you write?” and from there becoming a tradition of sorts.

Whatever its origins, I am honored to have been asked.   Thanks for inviting me along, Linda.   :-))

Now, on to the questions of the tour…

 

MY WRITING PROCESS

1) What are you currently working on?

I have a few irons in the fire at the moment.  My main project right now is Chucklers.  It’s a collaborative apocalyptic/horror novel that I’m writing with horror writer, and good friend, Edward Lorn.  Ed approached me with the idea of expanding on a premise he wrote in his short story “He Who Laughs Last” from his story collection, What the Dark Brings. After talking a bit, I think we both got pretty excited about where it looked like the story was going to go, and we dove in.  Recently, we realized that Chucklers is a much larger story than we anticipated, and it looks like it’s going to end up as a trilogy.

I also have a sequel to my first novel in the works.  I’m working on it under the working title of “Year 12”, and as is the nature of working titles, it may or may not change.  It will be the story of Zachary Dawcett, the young boy who was kidnapped in the last part of Half Past Midnight.  As the title implies, it is set twelve years after the Doomsday War of HPM, and Zachary is a young man now, in a world struggling to rebuild.

And finally, I have something new.  WC1 is my manuscript code for a more traditional SF novel.  I wrote a little bit about it in an earlier post.  I like to call it “military sci-fi – light”.  :)   I don’t have a military background, and what I have in mind is going to be considerably different from what most people would think of when they hear the words “military science fiction”.  But it will definitely be science fiction, and will deal with a war, so for now… military sci-fi light.

 

2) How does your work differ from others in its genre?

First of all, I don’t think genre really applies to me. In this breakneck paced world of e-books and self publishing, many authors no longer seem to stick to a single genre.  I know that has always been the case to a certain extent, but it is so much more common now, and I’m nothing if not common.   :-P

Currently, I dabble in several genres; post-apocolyptic, cyberpunk, horror, science fiction, and am even considering writing a reference book for writers.  So let me address the question as a matter of writing style; How does my work differ from others?

Something that I try to do in all my work is to bring an air of inner strength to my characters.  Whether the story is about a family in a near future east Texas after a nuclear war, or a female detective three hundred years in the future, I try to make my main characters as independent and resourceful as I can.  And then I try to test their limits.   ;)

I’m also a bit of a research junkie.  I strive to bring as much realism into my settings as I can.  I once spent three days researching atmospheric density, Rayliegh scattering, types of photosynthesis, stellar classifications and the frequency of the various star types in our galaxy, molecular composition of translucent atmospheric particulates… all to see what color the sky might be in the world of a short story I was writing for an anthology.

 

3) Why do you write what you do?

As strange as it sounds, I think I want to help people.  I want to write stories that show readers that everyone can be a hero.  You don’t have to be a hulking mass of muscle to win the day, as long as you embrace your inner strengths.  I’ve mentioned it before, but much of my writing is influenced by my martial arts training, as is my life in general.  

I learned early on that there are advantages and disadvantages to all physical attributes.  If you’re tall and muscular, you likely have a longer reach and body strength.  But a smaller, lighter person is likely faster, and can be trained to take advantage of a larger person’s higher center of gravity, unbalancing their opponent.  It’s a lesson I learned early in life when someone half my size wiped the mat with me during a judo randori.  That was roughly forty years ago, and the lesson has stuck.

I’ve seen too many people (including yours truly) underestimate the abilities of their opponents, as well as their own abilities, whether they be physical or intellectual.  I want my stories to get people to think outside the box.  I want them to realize their own strengths and weaknesses, to ask themselves, “could I do that in that situation?”  I want people to keep the thought in the back of their minds that there are often unorthodox solutions to common problems, if only you are willing to embrace them.  I want them to realize that they don’t have to rely on someone else to be the hero of their story–that heroes are often just ordinary people who are willing to step up and face the crap that life throws at them.

 

4) How does your writing process work?

It varies.  (I suppose that shows that I’m still pretty new to the writing business.)  I’ve had instances where a story comes to me pretty much full-blown, beginning to end, all at once.  There is one currently on my “to do” list that came to me in a dream one night.  It was an entire story that I woke up with and scrambled to get on paper before it left me.  There are others where I have nothing but a specific scene or idea that I have to think about for a long time before the actual story comes to me.  For instance, my short story The Burning Land (the one for which I did all the atmospheric research), in the Explorers: Beyond the Horizon anthology, also started because of a dream.  (I wrote about the process of that one in more detail in an earlier blog post.)  For now, I’ll just say that I awoke from a dream about a story, and the dream led me down a days-long rabbit hole of research that I found so fascinating that I believe I will likely revisit the world later on to expand the setting of The Burning Land into a full length novel.

And yes, I am definitely a research junkie.  I get carried away with my world building to the point that most of what I write in notes never makes it to the final manuscript.  I’m sure it’s a common frustration with writers–you spend hours and hours writing notes so that you know the world of your story inside and out, only to have most of it end up on the metaphorical cutting room floor.  But in my opinion, it is a necessity.  As the author you have to know your world in minute detail, but you don’t want to burden the reader with extraneous information that doesn’t really contribute to the story you’re writing.

And I’m now learning about writing with another author.  Collaboration writing is much different from anything I’ve done up to now.  It’s exciting, exhilarating, and incredibly satisfying to see the words fly almost effortlessly onto the page.   And working with a good partner helps keep the story fresh.  I’m lucky enough to be working with someone who thinks a lot like I do, yet different enough that we often surprise one another with what we come up with.  It keeps the story fresh and exciting for us while we write it.  The only problem is scheduling, and that is something that can always be worked through.

So that’s it.  There are my answers to the “My Writing Process” questions.  And now it’s time for me to pass the baton.  I’d like to introduce you to three authors whose work I have read and enjoyed.  They have accepted the invitation to post a bit about their writing processes, so watch for their blog posts next Monday (April 28) to see how they approach the craft of writing.

So next week, watch for…

 

 

EDWARD LORN

Ed LornEdward Lorn is an American horror author presently residing in the southeast United States. He enjoys storytelling, reading, and writing biographies in the third person.

Once upon a time, during a session of show and tell, a seven-year-old Edward Lorn shared with his class that his baby brother had died over the weekend. His classmates, the teacher included, wept while he recounted the painful tragedy of having lost a sibling. Edward went home that day and found an irate mother waiting for him. Edward’s teacher had called to express her condolences. This was unfortunate, as Edward had never had a baby brother.

With advice given to her by a frustrated teacher, Edward’s mother made him start writing all of his lies down. The rest, as they say, is history.

Edward Lorn and his wife are raising two children, along with a handful of outside cats and a beagle named Dot. He remains a liar to this day. The only difference is, now he’s a useful one.

Visit Ed at his blog, twitter, or Facebook.

 

 

JUSTIN R. MACUMBER

Justin 01Justin Macumber is the author of Haywire, A Minor Magic, and the newly released Still Water.  Justin was the founder and host of the popular Dead Robots’ Society podcast, having only recently stepped down as host to spend more time on his writing.  He is still a co-host on The Hollywood Outsider, a weekly podcast about movies and television and does weekly TV Talk chats for Grimm and Sleepy Hollow.

He and his lovely wife live in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex along with their motley pack of dogs and cats that they think of as their children.

Visit Justin at his website, on twitter, or on Facebook.

 

 

MARY FAN

Mary Fan

Mary Fan is the author of the Jane Colt sci-fi series, published by Red Adept Publishing. The first book of her Young Adult dystopian fantasy series, Flynn Nightsider, will be released in 2015 by Glass House Press. (For a taste of the world of Flynn Nightsider, check out her newly released novella, The Firedragon.)  And Part One of her Young Adult fairytale series, Fated Stars, will be released 2015, also by Glass House Press.

A resident of New Jersey, Mary currently works in financial marketing. She has been an avid reader for as long as she can remember and especially enjoys the infinite possibilities and out-of-this-world experiences of science fiction and fantasy. In her spare time (when she has any), she enjoys kickboxing, opera singing, and exploring new things—she’ll try almost anything once.

Mary graduated Magna cum Laude from Princeton University in 2010 with a Bachelor of the Arts in Music, specializing in composition. Although she is currently focusing on writing, music is still her first love, and so in her spare time she composes songs and soundtracks.  You can follow her at her blog, on twitter, or on Facebook.

And that’s it for tonight.  Stay safe everyone.   :bye:

Sep 222013
 

Status updates – I’ve been working on a few “smaller” projects recently.  The first of these, I just can’t talk about yet.  I thought I would be announcing this one today, but there has been a road bump, and the official announcement will have to wait.  As for the second smaller project… well, I can’t really go into much detail on this one, either.  However, you’ll notice a new widget to the side for a short story.  I’ve been invited to write for an upcoming anthology (yay!).  Better yet, all of the authors have agreed to donate the proceeds to charity.  Yes, I know anthologies don’t sell well, but once I was contacted about the theme of the anthology, I got an idea that absolutely demanded to be written.  So it will.  The story is currently going by a working title of “IMPs“, and the first thousand words jumped out of me last night.  It has to be finished by December, so there’s plenty of time for completion and polish.

Chucklers is proceeding slowly, but steadily.  The process on it has changed a bit, and it will likely take longer than Ed and I anticipated, but it will still happen.  In the meantime, Y12 has been clamoring for release, and I’m beginning to contemplate the idea of working on multiple projects at the same time.  I’ve tried to avoid working this way in the past, but the voices are getting louder.  LOL.

Controversy –  Some of you may know about this, but I imagine many of you will not.  It’s something that really only affects authors and reviewers, so it may not interest many of you.  However, there has been a recent article making the rounds that was supposedly written by someone who used to work for a company that sold reviews to authors in order to help their books climb the rankings and increase sales.  I’ve explained my take ad nauseam about the relationship between rankings, title visibility, and sales (see “In answer to Mike’s question…” from February of 2012, and “Answering Mike again” from March of that same year), so I won’t bore you with it here again.  The article in question (and I have intentionally not linked to it here – I won’t give it any more exposure than it has already gotten) accuses several well-known authors of buying reviews to elevate sales.  This comes in the midst of the Goodreads controversy in which reviewers have accused authors of stalking them in retaliation for bad reviews, and authors have in turn accused reviewers of banding together to trash their books for no good reason, lowering their rankings (and so their sales) in a form of cyber-bullying.

There has been rampant speculation regarding the veracity of the claims on either side of that argument.  After all, there have been authors in the last years who have admitted publicly that they did, indeed, purchase blocks of reviews.  Others have admitted to trashing other authors with sock-puppet reviews in an effort to damage their competition.  For some, their admissions came with an apology.  For others, they simply looked at the practice as nothing more than a cold-hearted business tactic that they used to make themselves more successful in the industry.

There has been speculation that the recent “outing” article was written as an extension of some of the Goodreads cyber-bullying.  I don’t know, I don’t claim to know, and I don’t really care.  It is what it is.  I will say this – I have seen examples of both sides of the Goodreads controversy.  Neither side is completely innocent.  There are some authors who behave badly upon receipt of a negative review.  There are also reviewers who have attacked authors for doing nothing more than daring to ask a them a question about what it is they didn’t like about their book.

And I’ve seen what some of these bullies can do when they band together.  I read a post from a budding author said she had actually decided not to publish her first book, because her reputation was trashed before the book ever came out – all because she dared ask a reviewer how he could give her book a one-star review before the book had ever been released.  His response was to gather a band of other reviewers who decided to “put her in her place” by posting several more one-star reviews – again, all on a book that had yet to be released.

I myself, recently received a one-star review for my recent release that was an obvious hatchet job.  Streets of Payne is a recent release, has received only three reviews on Goodreads (all five-stars), and seven reviews on Amazon (five were five-stars, one was a four-star, and one was the one-star).  The one star review simply said:

Don’t buy. There is a reason why Amazon “give” it for free. Boring……Amazon don’t offer good books. The r fooling us.

This same reviewer posted the exact same review for nine other books.  The exact same, word for word, review – remedial grammar and all.  Then he posted a tenth review, a five-star for another book:

loved it very much. its a great book. very special make you see the world in a different way. enjoy.

I leave it to you to draw your own conclusions about this reviewer.  I do note that six of the nine one-star reviews have since been removed from Amazon.

So why am I bringing this up?  What does an article that accuses a bunch of authors of buying reviews have to do with me grumbling about a bad review that I received.  After all, shit happens, right?  Move on.  Nothing to see here.  Right?  Right?

Well here’s the thing – when I read this article that purports to out a bunch of well-known authors for buying “at least 500 reviews”, there were a couple of names on the list that just absolutely pegged my bullshit meter.  Today, one of them spoke out.

Any of you who know me, know that there are a handful of authors that I reference repeatedly as gurus in the field of indie publishing.  You’ve seen me mention Nathan Lowell, Michael J. Sullivan, Imogen Rose, and others.  One you probably haven’t seen me list often is Hugh Howey.  Hugh is best known for his Wool, Silo, and Dust novels.  The reason you haven’t seen him mentioned much on my blog is that I only became acquainted with Hugh’s works in the last few months, and as you have no doubt noted, I haven’t been posting as much on this blog as I should.

But here’s the thing – I had the great fortune to meet Hugh at LoneStarCon a few weeks ago.  He won’t remember me, since he was constantly surrounded by other fans, but his take on the industry, on his successes, and his views toward his readers were almost exactly the same as mine.  He was a man who struck me as someone content to take the slow road, as long as it was the road of integrity.  He was an author who understands that the new model for the writing industry not only allows us as story tellers to connect directly with our audience, but it actually requires that we do so.  He understands that this is a business that allows some of us success, while others of us will continue to struggle, that it is a mixture of skill, persistence, and luck that determines who rides the wave, and who crashes beneath it.  And he absolutely understands that whatever your level of success, it can all change tomorrow.  In the end, all you can count on is the fact that you will eventually be left standing alone with your karmic debt.

I’ve listened to this man’s words on panels, and read interviews on him, and I follow him on FaceBook.  He is one of those few people in the industry that I truly look up to.  I’m a fan, yes.  But more than that, I respect the man.  Not just his writing, but his words and actions.

Today Hugh Howey responded to the accusation that he purchased reviews.  He responded with a well written, and thought out post on his blog.  One of the things that struck me in his blog post is his statement that he had tried for so long to remain silent as some people attacked him with trash reviews, or comments, or other open articles.  He has always viewed it as part of the price of fame.  And as he noted, he is lucky enough to have a large and loyal following that more than compensates for the small amount of negativity aimed at him.  Not many of us are so lucky.

But one of Hugh’s friends has also been accused of buying reviews, and he decided he’d been passive long enough.  Not because he was accused, but because a friend was.  Again, this is a man of integrity.

At the end of his blog post, Hugh makes a pledge.  He calls it his “Declaration of Integrity”.  Many of his readers have begun calling it the “Jolie Pledge”, named after a cherished pet that Hugh often refers to in his postings.  Hugh’s pledge says:

I, Hugh Howey, have never paid for a book review in my life. I swear this on my life and on the life of my beloved dog and faithful companion of ten years, Jolie. May she rest in peace. And may the accusers and accused alike find peace in their hearts as well.

I think this is a wonderful idea.  I like to think that I am also a man of integrity (or at least I try to be)  ;) .  I try to keep from commenting on or criticizing those whose views I don’t agree with, unless they enter into my “personal space”.  Yes, I keep the troll hammer handy, and will not tolerate trolls here on the blog.  But I encourage honest and open questions, comments, and debate.  And I will never belittle another person for their personal beliefs.

So I will also make my declaration here.  I will take the same stand that Hugh has taken.

I, Jeff Brackett, have never paid for, and will never pay for a book review. I give my solemn word on this.

And while Hugh wishes peace for the accusers and accused alike, I will simply say that I wish both the accusers and accused find the justice they deserve.

What can I say?  Hugh is a better person than I am.  ;)

That’s it for tonight.  Be safe, everyone.  :bye: