Category Archives: Books

A Flowchart

eFiction Founder Doug Lance posted this flowchart the other day “to help people decide how to publish.” He’s obviously biassed, but I think he makes a good point.


My editor recently retired, and over the last few months I’ve been toying with the idea of self publishing. I feel like I got a lot out of the small-press process, but I really like the idea of more creative control. Still, I have a voice of doubt in the back of my head, arguing that I might be making a misstep.

Lance’s flowchart really helped me break this down. According to his flowchart, I have four possible goals. Here they are out of order.

Critical Acclaim: If I wanted critical acclaim, I wouldn’t be writing vampire novels filled with dick jokes. Come on, until they come out with the Hugo for Best Dick Joke*, that’s just not happening.

Prestige: A little piece of me wants to be published by a big house, so the next time Jim Hines or somebody else who’s work I enjoy comes to town I can say, “Hey, remember me from that TOR mixer at BlahCon. My book just did the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs. Now we can be best friends.” But honestly, every writer I’ve talked to either big or small has always been really cool and approachable. Whether we self-publish or make a million for Harper Collins, we all share the same challenges and anxieties.

Money: At the end of the day, it’s nice to do what you love and be appreciated with social-survival points. However, this is not my most important concern.

Readers: Okay. This is the big one. I like when people read my books. I know there is a potential audience out there for me. We just have to find each other. When people love my books and leave me nice reviews, it makes me squee. And I am no serial squee-er.

* I’m pushing for this.


The good new is my new book now has a cover and and ISBN. The bad news is, due to a miscommunication, the back cover blurb got messed up and we had to pull it back from the printers. It will probably be another week.

Such is life.

On the bright side, I think my editor has the best of intentions and was trying to do good by me. He just has a lot of other stuff on his mind.

Gratitudes and Missions

This is a thank you to everyone who has bought and is planning to buy my book.

I am aware that 90% of the people, or perhaps much higher, who have bought my book are friends. I am grateful for the support I have been given by so many wonderful people. I fear that this may be that bulk of the books sold ever.

Still, simple sales numbers aren’t what I care about. Selling books, to me, is merely a side-effect in my overall mission.

I want my books to make people happy.

I bolded that statement because it is my primary mission. If I could sum up the theme of all of my books, it would be, “Let’s go on a fabulous adventure.” If I wanted to make money, I could write a non-fiction book. I want people to smile and laugh out loud. I don’t want to monetize, I want to happitize.

So, I hope you enjoy my book. I hope it makes you laugh–though I know humor is subjective. I hope it is worthy to make you smile.

Just as I was writing about making people happy, a good friend tweeted this video:

Books as a Service

An interesting thing has happened as I have started buying ebooks instead of paper books. I no longer think of a book as a product, but as a service. When I compare two companies selling the same ebook, the level of service is more important to me. The content is, of course, the same.

Owning a book gives me a feeling of ownership, and I am old enough to appreciate the value of a physical object. However, when I look around my house at the number of books I own, and I think about how many I get around to reading in a year, I have to admit that I am using my paper books more for insulation than reading material. And I have enough insulation.

“Buying” an e-book is a different experience. In many ways it is more primitive. I don’t buy a piece of pulped wood to put on a shelf, I’m buying the story and the way it makes me feel, like emotion is being transmitted to my electronically. However, I find I get really picky about how that feeling is transmitted.

Plus, I like the ability to take my entire library wherever I go.

On the other hand, I’ve had to give up the illusion of permanency that paper books provide. Sure, any ebook provider might go away in 5 years, have the servers seized by the FBI, get shut down by PayPal, or just decide to close down their ebook division. But then again, I could have a pipe burst and destroy all my paper books as well.

There are many pluses and minuses to the services provided by different book providers, but at the end of the day, they are all every similar. Personally, I chose a Kindle, because I like Amazon’s online store better than Barnes and Noble’s, and I like the ability to wirelessly send books to my device. However, now that the bulk of my ebooks are Kindle books, I’d just as soon keep buying them there and keeping my book in the Kindle cloud.

Oh, that’s the other thing. Every Kindle book I “own” is stored on Amazon’s servers. I could buy an ebook from Google, Apple, Smashwords, or Barnes and Noble, and that book would be put in my cloud for those services, but as my technology is very Amazon-centric, I’d just as soon just use Amazon’s cloud.

An anecdotal statement:
I bought a book from Smashwords once with the intention of “side-loading” it on my Kindle. To this day, I haven’t loaded it. It’s like an electronic orphan. When I’m looking for a new book, I look at what I have on the Kindle. It’s about workflow as much as anything else.

In many ways, I think buying a Kindle is a lot like supporting for the New York Giants*. Even if they do some things you don’t like, you already have so much merchandise. You have Giants hats and Giants jerseys. You just bought that leather sofa with the Giants logo on the back. Sure, lately you’ve been thinking of supporting Green Bay–you like the romance of the underdog, and they’ve been having a good season. But at the end of the day, you just have too much money tied up in the Giants.

* I know nothing about sports, but that will become evident in a moment.

Skippy Dies

Every once in a while, I read a book that stuns and humbles me with its brilliance. Skippy Dies by Paul Murray is one of these books.

The book settles around a group of friends, clergymen and teachers at Seabrook College, an Irish, Catholic boarding school outside Dublin. While the story is very human and real, it also has fantastic elements–UFOs, travel to alternate dimensions, and fairy mounds. It also digs into much darker elements–drugs, sexual molestation, and abusive relationships. All the main characters have strong arcs, but true to life, not every bad guy gets his comeuppance, and everything isn’t tied up tidily at the end.

This highest praise I can give this book is that by the time I finished Skippy Dies, I felt like some of the characters were my best friends. I cared deeply about what happened to them. I was sorry when the book had to end.

Also, Paul Murray writes a good pop song.

No sex, please. We’re a corporation.

Paypal doesn’t want your sexy,sexy books. They have been putting pressure on indie ebook sellers like Smashwords to eliminate several types of erotic fantasies, including paranormal romance involving shapeshifters.

Violet Blue has written a good overview of what is happening can be found here on Ziff Davis.

Smashwords has a brief rundown of what has been going on in the Feb 27th update.

What I find most troubling about this censorship of Indie authors is that mainstream publishers print books which would not be allowed under PayPal’s rules all the time. Some of them are even considered literature. They have even gone so far as to include BDSM in their list of inappropriate materials when their own eBay website sells BDSM equipment.