Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Stop SOPA and PIPA

Lobbyists for the entertainment industry have convinced Congress to create two bills called SOPA and PIPA that could trounce on creativity and innovation on the internet. Because they give so much power to Congress to regulate the internet, these bills, if passed, would give corporate entities unprecedented power to sue, issue takedown notices, and block internet access to anyone they feel is limiting their profits in the guise of "copyright infringement" or "insert random reason here."

The entertainment industry is lying about the actual losses from piracy on the internet, and they've convinced Congress that they are actually losing hundreds of billions of dollars from piracy when the majority of the reported losses are 1) fake and bloated numbers that overcount the number of downloads occurring, and 2) counting "sales" lost at 19.99-50.00 per unit in countries where the average family makes 1,000 dollars or less a year. They would NEVER buy the DVD, CD, etc. They simply can't afford it. But instead of understanding that the problem lies in their archaic pricing structures in these countries, they are fear-mongering the American public under the guise of capitalism--that once these laws are passed the American economy will gain hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue.

Check out this infographic on the MPAA's impressive resume for embracing technology. This statement is laced with trace amounts of sarcasm ;D.

This is FALSE. Not only will these bills significantly hamper innovation by placing restrictions on new venture capitalists and all companies that use the internet (which will negatively affect our economy in the hundreds of billions if not trillions of dollars over the lifetime of these bills), it will hamper freedom of expression and communication in comments, images, and web content out of fear of infringement. All a company has to do is level an accusation about me, for instance, writing a book that seems really similar to their ad for men's cologne, and despite the ludicrous nature of the allegations, Amazon has to take down the book out of fear of not only litigation, but the US congress actually having the power to remove their company's access to the internet.

This is absolutely ludicrous. Leave it to lobbyists and congressmen and women to come up with something this ridiculous.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

KDP Select (Exclusivity or Anonymity?)

When Amazon announced KDP Select a month or two ago, it caused the kind of sensation and intrigue that only Amazon can have in the book world right now. For those of you unfamiliar with the program, let me lay out the pros and cons, with the cons being first:

  1. Increased exposure through promotional efforts by Amazon
  2. Increased exposure through borrows adding "purchases" to move your book up the ranks
  3. Borrows are converted to dollars at the end of the month depending on your share of the number of borrows through the KDP Prime/Select programs

  1. 90 day minimum exclusivity with Amazon for eBooks

Lucifer's Odyssey1 con? Well, yes, but it's a pretty big one if you believe that a free market is important. If you want to support your readers being able to purchase your eBooks from wherever they want, then this is a big deal. Similarly, if we don't want Amazon to monopolize the book market and dictate how books are handled, then exclusivity clauses are the worst way to approach that because it will do just the opposite.

But, from an author perspective, this is a godsend. Lucifer's Odyssey took almost a month of prep work to distribute to all of those markets due to issues with the Smashwords distribution system and the Meatgrinder conversion process. Uploading to Amazon was done the first night. They use a much more standardized and easier-to-prepare HTML-based document, and the conversion was flawless for the table of contents. B&N's process was similarly smooth, and this decision would affect them as well, but the Smashwords process was a real pain. Exclusivity will make this process more streamlined because I'm only preparing one document upload.

The second, and most important aspect, is the exposure. In December and January, KDP Select books are tearing up the charts and reaping thousands of dollars in earnings for authors who use the system. My tally from all vendors of eBooks? Maybe a dozen dollars for December, one of the supposedly best months for book selling was a complete and total dud for me. Despite dozens of good reviews on Amazon and other places readers go, there's no traction for me, and from my point of view, my options are severely limited.

Authors like David Dalglish or others making thousands of dollars on Barnes and Noble, Apple, etc. have a tough decision to make. Losing thousands where their books already have prominence is counterproductive, but for me? The decision seems like a no-brainer. Exclusivity or anonymity? Despite my reservations about monopolies in markets, I think I'll take the former.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

First draft complete on Goblin Rebellion

It's been a rough past four months for writing fiction. I had my dissertation defense back in December, and dozens of conference paper deadlines, presentations, job interviews, and dissertation proposal and defense writing projects spread across the past few months, and the deadlines coming up are even tighter and more frequent. This month alone, I have three papers due in the middle of the month.

Despite the pressure (or maybe because of it), I've managed to finish the first draft of the Goblin Rebellion. Today, while on flights back from California, I wrote the final two chapters, and I'm feeling pretty good about them. Total word count is just shy of 80,000, and it's likely to grow slightly over the next two weeks as I fill in setting and expand character interactions slightly.

I've talked to my editor, and everything should be set for a late February or early March release. Stay tuned!