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Posts Tagged ‘Maximum Rocknroll’

Amazon, the Empire strikes back

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on September 15, 2018

Amazon has consciously cultivated the image of writer’s patron and author’s best friend. Along with the Kindle device there’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) which has launched a number of new voices and sometimes allowed writers to earn decent money. Hugh Howey was discovered by serializing his novel Wool on KDP. Then there’s CreateSpace, Amazon‘s self-publishing arm which allowed authors to easily produce attractive print-on-demand analog books with digital accompaniment. And Amazon-owned Goodreads has permitted writers to promote their works through a variety of built-in gimmicks. Finally, the Amazon website had a giveaway feature which gave authors the opportunity to promote and distribute their work online to build their name and boost their presence.

All that has dramatically changed a few years ago. First KDP instituted a devious “revenue sharing” scheme to pool the sales of KDP-exclusive works and dole out a portion of the earnings to their writers. Then Amazon severely restricted the self-publishing services it offered through CreateSpace before deciding to fold CreateSpace into KDP, eliminating it altogether. Finally Amazon has recently gutted its giveaways, making it much more difficult for non-name authors to build a reputation and create a buzz for their work by using that marketing feature. Goodreads’ giveaway policy has also changed, but less drastically.

Writers who’ve ignored Amazon’s predatory, monopolistic business practices, or thought they could criticize Amazon while taking advantage of the few seemingly generous/liberal byproducts of the company’s terrible methods, are now hoist with their own petard. I went with IngramSpark and Barnes & Noble when I decided to self-publish my novel 1% Free, refusing to consider KDP or CreateSpace from the start. But I did use Amazon and Amazon-owned Goodreads to give away the Kindle and POD versions of my book. While Goodreads remains a viable if more limited way to give away analog editions of my novel, Amazon’s giveaways have become a nightmare. They no longer work for struggling authors nor for small product sellers on Amazon generally. When you make a pact with the devil…

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It’s all coming together

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on September 4, 2018

The best laid plans…

I’d intended to link the beginning of my campaign to digitally publish, promote, and distribute my story “The Death of David Pickett” by publishing it first through Smashwords. Well, the only way Smashwords let’s me set a publication date for TDDP is by doing a pre-order which requires that I assign the book a price. But TDDP is free, to be given away for free, and so a firm and fast publication date will be impossible. Instead, I’ll send it to Smashwords the weekend of September 22/23, with initial distribution of all digital formats starting the week of September 24. That means I’m dependent on when the manuscript gets digitally published by Smashwords through their infamous “meat grinder” software.

Meanwhile, I’ve created useable EPUB, MOBI, AZW3, PDF, and DOCX files through Scrivener and Calibre and plan to construct my publisher’s download page by next week. I’ve investigated 90+ digital sites—blogging communities, document sharing sites, ebook publishing/syndication platforms—and created viable accounts on the 80 or so promising ones through which to upload my digital files. I’ve already joined a dozen science fiction and cyberpunk Facebook groups and I’m now posting regularly to them in anticipation of promoting and if possible uploading TDDP to them.

The one remaining task that I still need to do is build a MailChimp email list out of the 2,000+ addresses I’ve scrounged together to do a mass advertising email blast. Part of that will be a 150 analog snail-mail-out culled from the various Goodreads POD book giveaways I’ve done. And I’m still debating purchasing an email list from Kirkus Reviews.

All of these efforts are targeted to directly promote and distribute TDDP and indirectly advertise my novel 1% Free. TDDP is a prequel to 1% Free, so everything I’m doing is designed to hit both. The downloadable TDDP itself—the various digital files—provides links through which to purchase 1% Free.

It’s all coming together.

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Digital construction report

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on August 16, 2018

The digital construction is almost done. I have EPUB, MOBI, and two PDF (5.08×7.8 ppbk and 6×9 trade) files from the Scrivener compiler, and AZW3, LIT, MOBI, and PDF files from running the Scrivener EPUB through Calibre. I completed the Smashwords template and will be scheduling its upload after I examine the publishing requirements for PublishDrive. I’ve paid to upgrade my WordPress website to business and downloaded a plugin to let me host ebooks. By the end of August I’ll thoroughly investigate and log onto 90 some digital sites—various blogging communities, document sharing sites, ebook/POD publishing platforms, ebook syndication, and facebook groups—to host or link to the files. I’ll also be putting together a MailChimp mailing, perhaps augmented with a mailing list purchased from Kirkus Reviews, to promote all my product. I’m on schedule to launch heavy on my digitial book “The Death of David Pickett” by the end of September.

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The business of writing

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on August 7, 2018

The compulsion and craft of writing has taken backstage to the logistics and business of writing lately. I recently completed a book giveaway of my novel 1% Free through Goodreads under their new giveaway policy to encourage average readers to review it on social media. Reader reviews on social media is what drives successful self-publishing these days. Plus, whenever I advertise a giveaway I sell more books. Creating and distributing my digital and pdf ebooks for my story “The Death of David Pickett” is next on my “to do” list. That means, first, getting the right tools and learning how to use them. I use a word processing program designed for writers called Scrivener, which has a built-in compiler that allows users to create ebooks, pdf’s, and other digital media. I purchased a Scrivener for Dummies book and managed to create a few preliminary digital documents that will need to be refined before I publish and distribute them online for free. I also plan to publish TDODP for free on Smashwords. In order to accomplish that I first piggybacked onto the owner/subscriber of an MS Word license so I could use that software. Smashwords offers a style guide and a word template to publish ebooks and pdf’s on their site, which I’ve downloaded. I just finished putting together the MS Word document to submit to Smashwords once I’m ready to make the story available in digital form. I’m scheduling the release of TDODP for the end of September/beginning of October. Digital construction is hard work.

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Writing notes

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on July 19, 2018

I purchased an ISBN for my soon-to-be-self-published free book “The Death of David Pickett.” In theory, I should have a different ISBN for every format I intend to publish TDODP in, but I can’t afford that. So instead I’ll use it for the pdf ebook version which will be the most widely distributed. In setting up and registering the ISBN, there’s a place to add a description of the TDODP project. It’s a perfect opportunity to do a little self-promotion. I just finished the description this morning.

I’m also starting a new column today. I’ve been taken aback that my wife, my friends, everybody I know is pissed that I’m not more pissed off about Trump. Just yesterday I got into an argument with an individual who is obsessed with how evil he thinks Trump is and who was livid that I didn’t share his personalized outrage. My response, in column form, will be about how in my lifetime I’ve seen this nation’s relatively liberal politics go steadily rightward and downhill to the present.

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Conspiracy vs reality

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on July 11, 2018

I finished another column for MRR. I start off debunking conspiracy theories that all ultimately circle back around to blaming “the Jews” for the world’s problems as well as a secret plot for global domination. I go on to call out the real rulers of the planet–capitalists and capitalism–which is neither a secret nor a conspiracy. Now I’m back up to where I like to be, with 2 timely and 2 not-so-pressing columns in reserve, and 20 days ’til the end of the month. Enough time to write yet another column, if I decide to do so.

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Meditations on death

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on June 5, 2018

I’ve written another MRR column. This one is about why I light candles for the dead, how I came to write “The Death of David Pickett,” dead rock and rollers, and meditating on death to feel more alive. Many rewrites will follow before I submit the text to my copyeditor by the middle of the month, and the manuscript to MRR’s columns coordinator at the end of the month. The column will be printed in July and on newsstands by August.

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A writer is someone who cannot not write

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on May 12, 2018


To be is to do.—Albert Camus
To do is to be.—Jean-Paul Sartre
Do be do be do.—Frank Sinatra

So goes a version of humorous graffiti mentioned by Kurt Vonnegut in “Deadeye Dick.” As a writer, I have my own clever exchange of sayings:

A writer is someone who writes.—Pat Schneider
A writer is someone who cannot not write.—Sol Stein

Pat Schneider’s declaration is an affirmation of identity: “I am a writer.” Sol Stein’s aphorism is an affirmation of the need to write. I’ve rarely needed to affirm my identity as a writer, I’ve always just written.

I recently finished a major rewrite of a longish short story. Now I’m turning to work on my next MRR column. Last month I wrote about individual political changes, crossovers, and conversions on the Right and Left. Now I’m tackling the rise of and interplay between the New Left and the New Right using 1968 as a linchpin year. I started yesterday and, as usual, I’m attempting to write the history of the world in 1,500 words. In my remaining 500 words, I need to summarize how the New Right—in the form of the European New Right—seduced the New Left—in the form of the academic journal Telos. I have Tamir Bar-on’s brilliant book “Where Have All The Fascists Gone?” to guide me. Walk in the park, right?

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When to split

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on April 11, 2018

I’m working on a new column for Maximum Rocknroll about changing politics from one extreme to another; between one end of the Left or the Right, and between the Left and the Right. I’ve got my examples but I still need to explain the whys and wherefores. I’d intended the piece to cover both examples of individuals changing their politics and of social contexts that enhance or inhibit such political crossovers. Things are running long however and I’m committed to keeping all my columns to 1,500 words or under. So I might have to make this part one.

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Writing Weekend

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on March 18, 2018

SATURDAY:

We concluded our six week Finishing School group last Wednesday and I’m solo this weekend reworking the long short story/short novelette (~11,150 words). Working title “The Death of David Pickett,” it’s a prequel set in the same universe as my novel 1% Free. I’ve sent it to a couple of readers for first impressions. But I have some revisions already in mind since I declared it complete to wrap up my Finishing School participation. So it’s minimal social media and maximal writing for the next few days at least.

I’ll also be researching editors who do scifi, short fiction, developmental editing, and line editing as the next step. My copyeditor and illustrator will eventually be commissioned for the project, and the whole process will take months before I have a digital “book” I intend to give away for free. The giveaway will be to promote the novel, but it’ll require a coordinated blitz using email and social media, and maybe a multimedia pdf/ebook for maximum effect. I’m thinking July or August.

SUNDAY:

There are a couple of classic writer’s block memes. One is of the writer staring at a blank page or computer screen in frustration while the other is of that same frustrated writer surrounded by piles of crumpled pages while pulling out his or her hair. I’ve never suffered from writer’s block, or from an inability to write when I wanted. For those who do I suggest Pat Schneider’s Amherst Writers and Artists method. It’s a little too hippie-dippie for me, but the non-judgmental workshop style of AWA seems to work for a lot of people.

I had more and more problems writing when I was a raging alcoholic prior to 2010, and for the nine months or so after I stopped drinking when I was clinically depressed. Before I stopped I was also somewhat depressed, and increasingly I skipped writing my monthly columns for Maximum Rocknroll. I didn’t even bother sitting at my computer pretending to write because I had essentially lost interest. In doing CBT-based therapy for my depression after 2010, I promised myself to write my column every month no matter what. And I’ve lived up to that promise.

There’s a big difference between writer’s block and depression. For writer’s block there are appealing writing programs. For depression there are appropriate therapies. The key to any solution is a proper diagnosis of the problem.

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