Archive for the ‘Authors’ Category

J.K. Rowling round up

July 13, 2017

J.K. Rowling round up

I believe that the

Harry Potter: The Complete Collection (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

will be read 100 years from now. I put them in the same category of significance as the Wizard of Oz series (still being read more than a century after the first books in the series were published) and the Lord of the Rings series.

Are books like that just inherently better than books which don’t survive?

I certainly think they are superior to most books, but that’s hardly going to be the only factor.

All three of those series have had culturally impactful adaptations, and that has to be part of it. Interest in the Oz series had the powder of life sprinkled on it when the 1939 movie (which had not been a beloved, box office blockbuster when first released) began to be shown on television.

They’ve also been available to the masses. Paperbacks of LotR, for example, are how many people discovered them. The Harry Potter books are available through

Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

They’ve also all built detailed worlds…there is an argument that detail helps build culture amongst readers, and helps with repeat readings and scholarly analysis.

However, the authors are, I think, also a part of the success. There is a lot of mythos around Tolkien writing the books. People know the name of L. Frank Baum, and I think they have an idea of who the author was.

J.K. Rowling, author of the HP books, is very well known, and again, has a solid mythos that readers know.

Lately, JKR has been in the news (which is not new).

One story was about the author writing a manuscript on a party dress…and the theme of the party was your worst private nightmare. The nightmare? A lost manuscript…

Rowling also comments on the current political situation publicly, and responds to perceived injustices by people on the internet.

It’s rare, though, that we get a substantive, sit down interview.

You can see one (which lasts about twenty minutes) here:

J.K. Rowling interview with Christiane Amanpout (video)

That’s the origin of the dress story, as I understand it…I’ve watched the interview and recommend it, but I don’t know for sure that the story might not have been (much less) well-known before that.

What got Rowling to do the interview?

Lumos

Rowling’s non-profit working to deinsitutionalize children around the world.

There are children in orphanages (who may not even actually be orphans) who live in disheartening, even dangerous, conditions.

That’s what Rowling wants to change…ending institutionalization of approximately ten million children worldwide by 2050.

It’s great to see someone who has gotten great success wanting to use it to make a positive difference in the world. Lumos is named after a Harry Potter spell, and you can certainly see some parallels with Harry, but to me, it was clear this is simply about doing good.

I applaud J.K. Rowling’s efforts.

Lumos Foundation USA Inc can be chosen as the non-profit benefited by your purchases at Amazon.com.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :)

 

Today is L. Frank Baum’s birthday!

May 15, 2017

Today is L. Frank Baum’s birthday!

L. Frank Baum’s birthdate at The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip

Baum, the author of the original (Wizard of) Oz books and many others, was born on May 15, 1856…161 years ago today.

Since the books are in the public domain (not under copyright protection), there are many versions of the books, and those versions come in and out of availability.

For this post, I’m going to link to this one, although I’m going to give you a warning as well:

L. Frank Baum Ultimate Collection (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

My warning is because it does include The Woggle-Bug Book. That one, which isn’t part of the proper series (the “Famous Fourteen” original novels), contains extensive ethnic humor, including “the n word”. I would not consider this edition to be for children, but for collectors…and it is a comprehensive collection, including pseudonymous works and short stories.

I’m a big Oz fan, and Baum was a pioneer in many ways.

The idea of a fantasy series of books (like Harry Potter), where fans lined up for the new book, and where there was extensive fandom, was solidly put in place by Oz.

Baum also had “crossovers”, where characters from one series would appear in another. The author wasn’t really happy to be “stuck in Oz”, and tried to end the series (an in-universe way was found to get around it when demand was too great to stop). Crossovers allowed Baum to bring less popular characters into Oz, hoping for an osmotic (“ozmotic”?) boost.

Also importantly, Baum tried to make Oz a multimedia franchise. From the books to stage plays (including a very successful musical) to movies (silents), Baum preceded (some would say presaged) Disney in that, and now, that’s common. Baum also did toys and tie-ins for Oz (the tie-in part, and the attempt to have the same property appeal to many people, is what leads to The Woggle-Bug Book. That itself is tied into a play which was intended for a more mature audience).

I’m not generally a re-reader, but I have been re-reading the Famous Fourteen before I go to sleep.

I can understand if some of what Baum said and wrote makes some people hesitant to read the books…I wrote about that issue more than six years ago in this blog:

The art and the artist

However, Baum also is progressive in some ways…the leaders, and lead characters, in the Oz books, are not always what was typical at the time.

I will say this: pop culture, especially children’s literature, would be very different without L. Frank Baum. 🙂

Bonus deal:

Today’s

Kindle Daily Deal (at AmazonSmile…benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

includes many books in the “Dummies” series. While I don’t like the name of the series, I do think they generally do a good job in making what can be daunting topics accessible to newbies.

Enjoy!

 


My current Amazon Giveaways

Amazon Giveaway for And Then There Were None!

https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/3e6a60b4814649a3

Winner:Randomly selected after Giveaway has ended, up to 1 winner.
Requirements for participation:
Resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia
Follow @TMCGTT on twitter
18+ years of age (or legal age)

Start:May 12, 2017 6:24 PM PDT
End:Jun 11, 2017 11:59 PM PDT

===

Star Wars Day through 40 years of Star Wars!
Giveaway by Bufo Calvin
  • Winner:Randomly selected after Giveaway has ended, up to 1 winners.
  • Requirements for participation:
    • Resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia
    • Follow @TMCGTT on twitter
    • 18+ years of age (or legal age)

Giveaway:
https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/0ce7b24b32a4a670

Start:May 4, 2017 6:32 AM PDT
End:Jun 3, 2017 11:59 PM PDT

It’s going on that long in part so that it covers the actual 40th anniversary of Star Wars (of the release in the USA) on May 25th 2017. Also, this book, which has good reviews and is new, is $14.99 in the Kindle edition…which is a lot for me for a giveaway. 🙂

Good luck, and may the Force be with you!

One Murder More (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

the award-winning, highly-rated mystery by my sibling, Kris Calvin!

Giveaway: https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/398897583537603c

  • Winner:Randomly selected after Giveaway has ended, up to 1 winners.
  • Requirements for participation:
  • Resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia
  • 18+ years of age (or legal age)
  • Follow Kris Calvin on Amazon (to my knowledge, all that you’ll get is a notification when Kris publishes a new book in the Kindle store, although I don’t know that for sure…that’s all I’ve ever seen for authors I follow, I think. Kris is working on the second book in the Maren Kane mystery series.

Start:May 10, 2017 7:44 AM PDT
End:May 17, 2017 11:59 PM PDT

Thanks to the hundreds of people who have entered my previous giveaways for a chance to win Kris’ book! I don’t benefit directly from Kris’ book, although we have had a lot of conversations about it. 🙂

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

 * I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 

Happy 101st birthday, Beverly Cleary! (and a giveaway)

April 12, 2017

Happy 101st birthday, Beverly Cleary! (and a giveaway)

Arguably, the most important books you read are the ones you read when you are a child.

No question that a book can change you at any point in your life, but children are by definition in a formative phase. I would say that they are also arguably more likely to be able to imagine things and to emphasize with book characters more completely than most adults.

Beverly Cleary (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

is one of those literary alchemists, finding the essential elements in their readers and reinforcing and evolving them to transmute and preserve them at the same time.

Beloved and multiply awarded, Cleary is in that group with Dr. Seuss and Hans Christian Andersen as someone who will be part of growing up for decades to come.

It’s nice to see on April 12th 2017, the author’s 101st birthday, that people still “Drop Everything And Read” (DEAR) on Beverly Cleary’s birthday.

It’s also good to see a robust official website:

http://beverlycleary.com/

A quick listing of just some of Beverly Cleary’s most famous works will make the point:

  • Henry Huggins
  • The Ramona Quimby series
  • The Mouse and the Motorcycle (also a series)
  • Dear Mr. Henshaw

In honor of the occasion, I’m giving away one of the Kindle version of The Mouse and the Motorcycle! This will be a short giveaway, just three days, and I am having people tweet Happy Birthday to Beverly Cleary to enter. 🙂

https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/faa812fd9e443f3f

Happy birthday, Beverly Cleary!

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!


My other current Amazon Giveaways:

The Fourth Transformation (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel

Two winners

Giveaway: https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/b079fbab9711319a

Start: Apr 8, 2017 11:39 AM PDT
End: Apr 16, 2017 11:59 PM PDT

===

Blitzwolf VR Headset (at AmazonSmile*)

in honor of “Virtually Mike & Nora”

One winner

Giveaway: https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/0ab8bc9943c50e4f

Start:Apr 8, 2017 1:25 PM PDT
End:Apr 15, 2017 11:59 PM PDT

===

One Murder More (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

by my sibling, Kris Calvin

Ten winners

Giveaway: https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/e39ec1bca3592757

Start:Apr 8, 2017 12:05 PM PDT
End:Apr 23, 2017 11:59 PM PDT

===

Oh Myyy! – There Goes The Internet (Life, the Internet and Everything Book 1) (at AmazonSmile*)

by George Takei (in honor of the actor’s 80th birthday on April 20, 2017)

1 winner

Giveaway: https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/0a55a7230ccfd4aa

Start:Apr 11, 2017 3:56 PM PDT
End:Apr 21, 2017 11:59 PM PDT

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 

Who should be able to make a living as an author?

February 8, 2017

Who should be able to make a living as an author?

No question, the publishing game/industry/market has changed remarkably in the past ten years. The Kindle was first released November 19, 2007. That really shook up manufacturing and distribution, and that was giant.

Prior to e-books, manufacturing a book was a very expensive proposition. I’m a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager…the demand for a book is very inconsistent and hard to predict. I might need twenty copies of a book one week, and then none for three months…and then ten again. For me to sell hardbacks in a store, you had to be able to produce them very quickly and get them to me.

That’s one of the main reasons we couldn’t take a book “on contingency” (paying nothing for it unless it sold). When the rare author would walk in with a self-published book and want me to put a couple in the window, I’d always ask: “If I need ten of these three days from now, could you get them for me?” The answer was always “no” back then…they had paid to have a certain number printed, and that’s pretty much all they had.

The other thing big publishers could do was buy back books if we overstocked…they would guarantee us we could sell copies we bought, or they’d give us a refund (or more often, future purchase credit). I remember l overestimated the demand for a local celebrity’s book when that celebrity was going to be on a talk show. We overbought by…oh, at least ten, and that’s a lot for a hardback. The publisher took them back and gave us credit.

The rise of e-books eliminates the need for book factories. It eliminates the stock issue.

Naturally, with that big a change, the value of authors is going to be judged differently. What it takes to sell a book changes, with a change in the sales cycle and even in merchandising costs.

It would be a great surprise if everybody who had been able to make a living as an author under the old system could make a living as an author under the new system.

That’s exactly the sort of anecdote told in this

The Guardian article by Danuta Kean

It talks about

Donal Ryan (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

a successful author who has gone back to the day job to make ends meet.

Now, that happens a lot, and for various reasons.

It’s the rare author who sells even a thousand copies of one book: to be able to continue to sell enough copies to make a living, and to do it on multiple titles, is a very remote possibility.

The article postulates that it is because of celebrities writing (or having ghostwitten) books, sucking up all the “advances”. An advance is money that a publisher pays the author prior to publication. The author then hypothetically pays back the advance through royalties…if an advance is $10,000, the first $10,000 of royalties generated from sales of the book goes to the publisher, not the author.

What happens if the book doesn’t sell enough to generate the $10,000 loan?

Well, one would think the author would have to pay it back…and while that’s rare, that has happened.

Now, I do understand why publishers might publish a higher percentage of books from non-author celebrities (movie stars, YouTubers, chefs, and so on). They are lower risk: there is an audience there already. As the market is becoming more competitive, tradpubs (traditional publishers) may become more risk adverse.

However, lest we think this is a problem for authors, I would bet that there are many more people making a living as authors than there were ten years ago…I would think hundreds more just in the USA.

How?

Independently publishing, often doing it themselves through Amazon’s publishing platforms.

Even though I have a full-time job, I have made enough money in a year as an author that if that was all the money I was making, I wouldn’t have been below the poverty level. 🙂 That was a few years back, though.

Back in 2011, I wrote about John Locke becoming the first independently-published Kindle Direct Publishing to sell a million “copies” (licenses) through Amazon:

John Locke becomes the first KDP author in the Kindle Million Club

While I don’t have the evidence, I’d be very surprised if many more people aren’t making their livings as authors than was the case before the release of the Kindle.

So, while it’s certainly possible that some people who were professional authors before e-books have to find other means of making money now, I think others will be able to quit their day jobs. 🙂

This affects very few people, of course…there aren’t a lot of professional authors of books.

Still, it’s interesting. Some authors will supplement their royalties with other revenue streams…when a book gets licensed for movies or TV, for example, or making personal appearances, or blogging with advertising or subscription fees. Others will simply have to find other work…

What do you think? What other changes will come for authors in the future? Will the tradpublishing route will make sense for anyone? What’s different for a brand name author versus a mid-level or beginning author? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Interview with Kris Calvin, author of One Murder More: one year on

July 3, 2016

Interview with Kris Calvin, author of One Murder More: one year on

Note: Kris Calvin, who is interviewed below, is my sibling. I’ve been keeping readers of ILMK informed about the Kris’ experience as a first time author. I do not, though, have any financial interest in the book. We have had discussions about the book and the business, but that’s the extent of my involvement

ILMK: It’s been a bit over a year since the debut publication of your first novel, One Murder More (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*), a Maren Kane mystery. I appreciate you taking the time to check in with the readers of ILMK.

You mention a lot of books on your Twitter feed, so you must have had some thoughts about what it was like to be an author before One Murder More was published. What, if anything, has turned out pretty much the way you expected?

Kris Calvin: I’m not one of those people who thought “I had a book in me” or “always wanted to be an author”. I’ve been an avid reader all of  my life, but never gave any serious thought as to what it would be like to be on the other side of that partnership.  So, in that sense, all of it has been surprising. If I had to choose one thing, it would be how much I want to be writing whenever I’m doing something else, and yet how difficult it can be when I sit down to write to actually begin.

ILMK:  How important do you think it is as a writer that you are still reading as much as you do?

Kris Calvin:  It’s essential, I can’t write unless I’m  also reading. It’s kind of like priming the pump. I average about 2 to 3 novels a week. Conversely, although many of my author friends find that watching television series is another way to spur their creativity, if I watch TV or movies it seems to create a barrier to my putting words down on the page.

ILMK: In addition to reading and writing, it’s clear that you travel to a lot of literary events. Some of my readers know what’s it like to attend these as an audience member, but what it is like as an author? Do you see some of the same authors at different events?

Kris Calvin: Literary events  run the gamut,  from a  single author reading his or her work in front of 10 people in  a local bookstore to massive international conferences where many hundreds of authors and readers gather for several days of back-to-back speeches, interviews and panels, and all kinds of venues in formats that fall in between the two.

Attending as an author varies in experience, depending on timing and related goals. When I’m launching a new book I’ll spend the bulk of my time promoting it, often doing a signing and connecting with readers. If not, my schedule is more relaxed—I might  sit on a panel that is topic-related,  for example about creating a strong woman protagonist or writing a political thriller. But most of my time is spent doing the same thing I would do as a reader: attending other writers’ panels with the hope of being entertained and learning something! 

ILMK: One Murder More has gotten great reviews on Amazon, with an average of 4.7 stars out of 5 with 87 customer reviews. Take a look at this graph of the number of reviews the book has been getting.

OMM Review Distribution.JPG

Not surprisingly, the most reviews happened when it was first released, but the number of reviews has been trending upwards again this year. What have you done to maintain interest in the book?

Kris Calvin: The recent spike may be related to my doing a number of events, including speaking at rotaries and book clubs in-person and via Skype. These aren’t often large groups, but they are friendly and responsive and we have a lot of fun! I  don’t push purchasing my books when I speak, I share my experiences writing and in politics but I do specifically ask attendees to leave an honest review if they  get a chance to read the book. I think many folks don’t know that they can review a book on Amazon even if they buy it elsewhere, so maybe giving them that information has also helped.

ILMK: Generally, marketing must take some real time and energy. How do you prioritize your time between writing and marketing?

Kris Calvin: I’m a morning person, so that’s when I write.  It’s when my creative energy is best. I don’t do much direct marketing, but I’m aware that being active on social media connects me with people, some of whom then try out my books!  So I do that later in the day. 

ILMK: I understand that you are currently working on the second Maren Kane mystery. Was the plan always to make it a series?

Kris Calvin: I enjoy reading series a great deal, not only mysteries and thrillers but also sci-fi fantasy, and because I  work in politics in my day job I have no shortage of  motives for murder and mayhem!  I don’t outline, but I have a  premise in mind for the next five Maren Kane books. 

ILMK: Some authors have written several books in a series before releasing the first one. In your case, you are hearing from readers about what they like before you write the next Maren Kane mystery. How do you think that will affect it? Are there characters who may get more story line because the readers liked them more than you might have expected?

Kris Calvin: Each time I do an event with readers I ask them who their favorite and least favorite characters are, and what they might like to see happen to Maren and her friends next.  I’ve gotten lots of good ideas that way, although I also found some plot twist that I was already working onto be unpopular and  decided to rethink them! For example,  Polly, Maren’s British-born best friend, was sadly a victim of Sacramento  gang violence in the first draft of the second book. When I raised this at one event a woman told me she was going to start a #SavePolly  campaign as she couldn’t stand to see her go! So now Polly’s only been injured, and I’m pretty sure she’s going to be fine…

ILMK: You’ve also already had published a Maren Kane short story in the anthology, Tinsel and Temptation (at AmazonSmile*). How do short stories fit into the mix in your writing life?

Kris Calvin:  This story that you reference, That Merriest Murder, was the first short story that I’ve ever written,  at least since high school, and I’m not sure I wrote any then.  The most challenging part for me was the inability to put in false leads and “red herrings”  like I would normally do in a full-length novel. I felt like it would be obvious who the murderer was if I didn’t have room to create those alternate suspects.  You were quite helpful with that!  I don’t  know if you remember, but we had a discussion around that time about my frustration and you told me that short stories are fundamentally character-driven: that if I could create a compelling character, readers wouldn’t mind so much that the puzzle wasn’t as difficult.  That seems to have turned out to be true, as I had readers of that story tell me that they figured out who the murderer was, but that they enjoyed it nonetheless!  Since then I’ve written a second short story which is not out yet, and I greatly enjoyed the process.  It doesn’t require as much deferral of gratification  for the author as  writing a 300-page book! 

ILMK: One Murder More was published as an e-book, as a hardback, and now as a paperback. Do you find any differences in the reader reaction from the different formats? Do you do special marketing to appeal to readers of different formats?

Kris Calvin: It was my publisher’s idea to start with a hardback, as they feel it is the preferred format for reviewers. I’ve also since learned that it’s favored by many libraries.  I think they were right that that enabled me to get more attention for the book at launch. However, I think the typical consumer prefers to pay less for a new author’s work, and that makes both the paperback and the e-book far more appealing. The paperback is my favorite, I really like the way that it came out in terms of production value, we were able to add more “praise quotes” than we could at launch, which is fun,  and silly as it is to say, it’s much more lightweight and easy for me to carry around. I generally have a paperback copy of my book tucked in my purse to share with people that I meet who say they are avid thriller and mystery readers.  In terms of marketing, the only difference is I did a $.99 promotion for the e-book and that clearly had an effect. It lifted it into the top 100 Mystery and Thriller series out of approximately 64,000 titles in that category, and although it didn’t remain there,  sales  are still elevated.  Since my  primary goal is to gain readers,  having an available e-book at a low, low price is a really great way to do that. [Bufo’s note: the ninety-nine cent sale is still happening at time of writing, but I don’t know how long it will last]

ILMK: Is there anything else you’d like to share with my readers?

Kris Calvin: If writing has taught me anything, it’s that it’s important to stay curious. As I mentioned, I didn’t begin writing my book because I “knew” that I wanted to be an author. I was just curious as to whether I could use the twist I had thought of to craft a mystery like the ones that I enjoy reading.  I’ve tried other things before this, running for local office, owning a vintage clothing store.  They were both interesting, but neither one landed as my “passion” the way writing has.  I know that being “a dilettante” is often viewed negatively, but I think there’s something to be said for dabbling in a number of different things until you find the one that truly lifts your heart.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Authors are nice people

April 21, 2016

Authors are nice people

I originally considered a more “click-bait” title for this post: “Are authors nice?” I decided not to do that, because from my own experience, some certainly are.

It’s interesting…writing is, generally, a non-social activity. Most writers, I’m sure, write in isolation…maybe with the door closed. We see fictional representations of authors’ families knowing not to “disturb” them while they are writing. Those stories are written by, well, authors, so you would think they would know. 😉

I can write with my Significant Other in the room, typically, but it can really bring me out of the flow if I get asked a question.

Fiction authors can “create their own friends”. 😉 Of course it isn’t the same, but it’s a complete misunderstanding that authors completely control their characters. For characters to be effective, they need to have character…which includes them “refusing” to do something out of character.

It seems very likely that some authors become authors in part because they are uncomfortable with flesh and blood people. They aren’t comfortable socially, but they are still instinctively driven to explore social situations.

Some authors appear to fit that stereotype, perhaps becoming virtual recluses (J.D. Salinger, Harper Lee, Emily Dickinson, Thomas Pynchon…).

It’s different for contemporary authors. In today’s social media climate, many authors communicate regularly with fans, and are much more open. Amanda Hocking comes immediately to mind…one of my favorite Twitter feeds (although there hasn’t been as much textual content recently, it seems).

There have always been nice authors, though. 🙂 Writing fiction (and even much of non-fiction) requires empathy…you have to understand how people feel.

I’ve had  a few experiences where authors were kind to me, and I wanted to share them with you.

I want to be clear here: these three experiences had nothing to do with me being a writer. In each of these cases, I can guarantee you the authors were already established…and had no idea who I was. 🙂 I was just part of the public…I say that to eliminate any possibility that they were being nice to me because of what small influence I may currently have as a blogger.

Loren Coleman (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

I’ve been interested in “cryptozoology” since I read Gardner Soule’s The Maybe Monsters when I was in elementary school. That led to an interest in all sorts of things “Fortean”, and in critical thinking and why people believe what they believe.

Loren Coleman is a titan of the field, having written several truly significant and bestselling books. The author appears on television shows and radio.

Importantly, Coleman is also dedicated to public service, and is famously generous with other interested people (well-known and not)…not always the case in that topic (or in many others, of course). One example? Creation of the

International Museum of Cryptozoology

which is currently being expanded in Maine. Loren is often there in person, speaking to schoolkids and adults alike.

The museum didn’t exist many, many years ago when I started an online presence which I called “Weird World”.

It turned out that Loren Coleman had already used the name for (as I recall) a TV pilot which didn’t go to series.

It would have been easy for an established author like that to simply make me, at the time a “nobody”, stop using the name.

Instead, Loren gave me permission to use it.

That wasn’t necessary. That didn’t give Loren Coleman any advantage. It was just an act of creative generosity.

I did start calling it “Bufo’s Weird World” to differentiate it, but I’ve never forgotten that act of unnecessary kindness.

Forrest Ackerman (at AmazonSmile* )

“Uncle Forry” was a science fiction fan from the 1930s. Forry is credited with having been the first “cosplayer” (wearing a costume to one of the very first science fiction conventions), coined the term “sci-fi”, and was most legendarily the editor of “Famous Monsters of Filmland”. I’m sure my love of puns comes in part from “4E”, although Oz and Alice helped as well.

There are many prominent filmmakers today who credit Forry and Famous Monsters for inspiring and encouraging them.

I was young and at a World Con. I had a ride to the airport…so I spent the remainder of my money on the last day in the “Dealer’s Room”.

Then my ride left without me.

I had no way to get to the airport. I didn’t have credit cards…I had nothing at that point.

I saw Forry across the room (I was a Famous Monsters subscriber).

I had some Super 8 rolls of film I hadn’t shot yet.

Not sure what to do, I went over to Forry and asked if this celebrity wanted to buy some of my unexposed rolls. 🙂

Naturally, Forry asked me why, and I explained my dilemma.

“Uncle Forry” gave me ten dollars.

No way to know I wasn’t scamming. No way to know I’d actually use it to get to the airport. Just out of…humanity.

Years later, I happened to see Forry Ackerman at another convention…and returned that $10.

Perhaps most heartwarming to me, Forry said, “Oh, you were that [person].” I was surprised that I was remembered…it had certainly been a few years.

Sort of like Loren Coleman, Forry had a museum…the family house. 🙂 It was called the “Ackermansion”, and strangers would be taken through to see thing like a real Bela Lugosi Dracula cape, or an armature from King Kong.

The irreplaceable  collection was eventually broken up and sold off…something that can still spontaneously strike me with sadness. That’s right…out of nowhere, I can be sad about a garage sale. I think they may regret it now, but I’ve always been  disappointed that one of the millionaire “monster kids” of the 1960s who became huge successes in later decades, didn’t buy it and keep it together.

Michael R. Hicks (at AmazonSmile*)

This situation is a bit more modern, and perhaps different…but I’m still very grateful.

When I wrote my first book for the Kindle store, I didn’t know much about formatting an e-book. I’d taught computer programming, so I do know tech, but each technology is its own thing.

I didn’t know how to do an Active Table of Content (AToC), where you can click/tap and go to a chapter.

As I recall, Michael Hicks answer my question at what was then Amazon’s DTP (Digital Text Platform), now Kindle Direct Publishing.

Again, no selfish reason to do that for Michael Hicks…it was just being kind.

Out of that kindness, I did read the In Her Name book…which is what converted me to reading on a Kindle. It was a great book (the series as since been…reconstructed, so that particular volume isn’t available that way).

In all three of these cases, it was simply an author being nice to a stranger…proof for me that (at least some) authors are nice. 🙂

What do you think? Do you have stories of authors being nice to you? Feel free to share them with me and my readers by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

*When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 

 

March 9th: Mickey Spillane’s birthday

March 9, 2016

March 9th: Mickey Spillane’s birthday

Hard-boiled crime author Mickey Spillane was born on March 9th.

That’s a pretty rare date. It’s one of only five square birthdays in the years.

What’s a square birthday?

It’s one where the day is the square of the month…March is the third month, and three times three is nine. So, the square birthdays are

  • January 1st (1×1=1)
  • February 4th (2×2=4)
  • March 9th (3×3=9)
  • April 16th (4×4=16)
  • May 25th (5×5=25)

and there is no June 36th. 🙂

I find it a bit ironic…because I don’t think Spillane’s most famous character thought much was on the square. In the grimy world of Mike Hammer, “fair” ain’t nothing but a hair color. 😉

Mickey Spillane didn’t invent hard-boiled fiction…Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler were already established when

I, the Jury (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

blasted on to the scene.

Spillane would go on to sell hundreds of millions of books, and Mike Hammer would appear in comics (Spillane had been a comic book writer), TV, and movies. Hammer has been played by Darren McGavin, Stacy Keach…and even in one movie, by Spillane.

There are 35 Kindle editions listed at

Amazon’s Mickey Spillane author page (at AmazonSmile*)

If you want to get a solid Mike Hammer library (or give one as a gift…recognizing that these are violent books with what was at the time shocking sexual themes), Amazon has an interesting way to do that.

There are three collections, each one with multiple books (the first one has I, the Jury; Vengeance Is Mine; My Gun Is Quick).

On this page:

Mike Hammer Collection (3 Book Series) (at AmazonSmile*)

you can buy all three collections with one click…not as an omnibus, but as three separate titles.

There are advantages in having separate files…it’s smaller, for one thing. 🙂 That can make searching and navigation easier. I have an “emergency book” on my device which has over 100 books in it (it’s no longer available)…I can’t easily go from chapter to chapter, or example, because it thinks a book is a chapter.

If you want to try it, get a sample…probably at the beginning, with I, the Jury. The books are not available through

Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

I’d say, “Happy birthday” but that somehow doesn’t seem appropriate: “Hard-boiled birthday, Mickey Spillane!” 😉

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 

 

Round up #309: cool reading, peripheral problems

September 29, 2015

Round up #309: cool reading, peripheral problems

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

An author on the cover of People

I do think that in the past, oh, ten years or so, authors have become a bit more cool.

Generally, when people think pop culture, it’s movies, TV, and music. Videogames, while sometimes the biggest revenue generators, are too introspective for a ton of coverage…and they don’t feature human beings about which magazines can gossip. 😉

That last point might, I suppose, help to explain why books are less likely to be featured in pop culture coverage.

Oh, all the popcul mags do it some. The book coverage may be my favorite part of Entertainment Weekly, and regular readers know I use the term “People Magazine books” for the very popular mainstream titles.

That’s why I was honestly a bit surprised to see

Jackie Collins

get the full cover of the October 5th issue of

PEOPLE Magazine (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Certainly, Collins was a (very) popular author, and does have a Hollywood tie-in (with sibling Joan and some minor acting experience)…that might have had some influence.

However, there was a special circumstance: they had an exclusive interview from just a few days pre-mortem.

Still, they obviously thought readers would be familiar with Collins.

People Magazine readers would also know Stephen King, John Green, J.K. Rowling, and perhaps another ten or so authors (excluding authors who are well-known from other fields, including movies, TV, music, and politics).

Now, that’s not to say that they wouldn’t have known some authors in the past: Edgar Allan Poe, Ernest Hemingway…but I do think there has been a shift. I’d like to say that the impact of the Kindle on the e-book market since its release in 2007 may have impacted the “cool ratio” of reading…but that’s just speculation. 😉

The problem with peripherals

I think it’s understandable that companies producing gadgets focus on the gadgets themselves. I recently wrote about

Amazon hardware announcements! $50 tablet, 10″ tablet, Fire TV 2

There wasn’t a lot of talk about the peripherals: power supplies, remotes (although I was pleased to see that the game controller for the Amazon Fire TV Gaming Edition ((at AmazonSmile*)) has a headphone jack ((Dolby enabled)), one of my favorite features of some models of Roku).

I do think that matters…it’s been perhaps my biggest frustration with some gadgets which I otherwise like very much.

I really like the inexpensive

ARCTIC P324 BT (Black) – Bluetooth (V4.0) Headset with Neckband – Headphones with integrated Microphone – Perfect for Sport (at AmazonSmile*)

that I use with our Fire TV, and at work with my Kindle Fire HDX, my laptop, and my phone at times.

That’s the alternative to the headphones that plug into the remote that I mentioned above.

The sound is good, the microphone works…the only negative to the device itself, really, is that the battery seems to discharge pretty quickly even when I’m not using it. If I don’t use it for a couple of days, I still need to plug it in to charge before I use it again.

I can live with that, though.

The weird thing is that it came with a simple carrying case. The headphones fold, and fit into something…oh, about the dimensions of an old audiocassette, except as thick as about four of them.

Shortly after I had the headphones, the zipper broke on the carrying case.

I can still use the case…it goes in my laptop case with me to work, so that pretty much keeps it closed.

It is, though, disappointing: I paid for the case (not much, certainly), and it doesn’t do what it was supposed to do.

How about Amazon hardware?

Amazon did a great job with the headphones for the Fire Phone…I use mine a lot (the Fire Phone is still my daily use SmartPhone). Since that device is now not in their current line-up, though, it’s hard to count tht as a win. 😉 There may be people at Amazon who said, “You know, if we hadn’t spent that much development money making good headphones, the Fire Phone would have been a hit.” 😉

I’ve never really been impressed with the chargers for the Kindle EBRs (E-Book Readers) and Fire tablets. The EBR chargers notoriously end up having the coating peel away from the raw wires…I’ve had that happen many times, and I need to replace them.

I don’t find that they fit very well, and they don’t charge very quickly.

That’s why I use the third party

Pwr+ Extra Long 6.5 Ft AC Adapter 2.1A Rapid Charger for Fast Charging Hd, Hdx 6″ 7″ 8.9″ 9.7″ Tablet and Phone, Tab Power Supply Cord (at AmazonSmile*)

It’s $14.90 right now…a reasonable price, as far as I’m concerned. Amazon’s PowerFast charger is $19.99…and seems much slower.

The Pwr+ works great…until it doesn’t work at all. 😉

I went back and looked: they seem to last me a few months, and then they just die. That’s not Amazon’s fault, of course.

Then, there are the remotes for the Fire TV.

I just had (another) one die.

That’s happened at least twice now. The first time, it was at under warranty.

This last one was a voice remote which I got when the Fire TV was first released…in April of 2014.

Amazon wouldn’t replace it, which is fine…they did give me a $5 credit towards some other things.

I could replace it for $30…but I have the 2nd generation

Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile*) $99.99

on order now, and that will have a voice remote.

Is it a big deal that the remote stops working?

Yes! 🙂

You can’t tell the box what to do without communicating with it, of course…its just a paperweight without some sort of control.

Fortunately, I have the free

Amazon Fire TV Remote App (at AmazonSmile*)

on both my Fire Phone and my Kindle Fire HDX tablet.

It works pretty well…even does voice search. That should be how people can pay $40 for the

Fire TV Stick with Voice Remote (at AmazonSmile*) $49.99 with voice remote, $39.99 with standard remote

new generation, and get the Alexa Voice Service (like we have on the Amazon Echo ((at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)).

Still, I’m often charging my phone or tablet when I would be watching that Fire TV Stick, so it’s a bit inconvenient. Naturally, when we have true wireless device charging (which I believe is coming) so we don’t need to plug in the devices at all, that would solve that problem, but that’s in the future).

Tom Clancy quotation via Kindle Nation Daily

I liked this one:

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1082917348392890

🙂

What do you think? How important are peripherals to your feeling about a device? Is reading cooler because of e-books? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Authors Guild: full-time authors income down 30% since 2006

September 21, 2015

Authors Guild: full-time authors income down 30% since 2006

I recently wrote about

On Labor Day: how writers make money

I didn’t talk about how much money authors make.

I think most of you wouldn’t be surprised to hear that it isn’t much.

Oh, sure, there are a tiny percentage who make a lot, but consider this.

According to a survey by the Authors Guild, full-time authors reported making $17,500 annually.

Payscale.com says that a McDonalds “fast food worker” (http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Employer=McDonald%27s_Corporation/Salary) makes between $14,802 – $19,086. Averaging out those two numbers, we get $16,944…about a McDonald’s medium coffee a day’s difference.

Remember, that’s a full-time author…part-time authors reported a writing income of $4,500.

At  least with all of the new books being published through digital means, and all the new datastreams, those salaries may finally become comfortable in the next few years, right?

Again, according to the

Authors Guild report: The Wages of Writing

full-time authors income has declined 30% since 2006 (when they last did the survey).

Part-time authors’ salaries declined even more sharply.

I’ll let you read the report for the rest of it…I don’t want to take too much away from it.

However, we can talk about what this means…the Guild speculates a bit about causative factors: I particularly suggest you read the introductory two paragraphs.

First, it’s possible that there are authors not included in this survey who have seen incomes increase.  The first-year dues to be a member are $125, and you have to meet a standard that has to do with publication and/or income. Certainly, my personal income has a writer has increased a lot over that period.

That doesn’t mean I think that even a sizable chunk of independently published e-authors are making a living wage…that’s going to be an itty bitty percentage.

Second, while this is pretty much the Kindle era (the Kindle was introduced at the end of 2007), this survey isn’t just about e-book income. For indie, newbie authors, I am quite sure that a much higher percentage of their writing income is from e-books than is the case for established, brand name authors.

I want to point out something else…the e-book market, and publishing in general, is not mature…it’s still in flux.

There have been several revolutions in publishing…it’s never entirely predictable, but it was relatively stable for some time.

Some of the big turning points:

  • about 1455: the Gutenberg Bible is published, and books start moving out of being entirely for the elite
  • 1920s: the Book-of-the-Month Club makes affordable versions of curated book titles available
  • 1930s: the rise of paperbacks (1939 in the USA with Pocket Books’ first paperback title, Lost Horizon (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)
  • 1970s: chain bookstores become a force
  • 1994: Amazon goes online,  establishing the internet as a major place to buy books
  • 2007: Amazon introduces the Kindle, revolutionizing the then micro-market e-book trade

E-book growth may have, to some extent, become more steady, but paystreams are still changing rapidly. In particular, the subsers (subscriptions services), like Amazon’s

Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

(and Oyster and Scribd) are too new to really judge the impact on authors’ incomes.

For physical books, print-on-demand may matter…including, perhaps, printing at home.

As a reader, do you want authors to make money?

I hope so! 😉

That’s not just for my personal benefit. 🙂 I make my living as a trainer (I have a different title and I do some different things, like workflow optimization), although the money I make as a writer is certainly welcomed by me and my family! You make that part possible…I’d have a lot harder time justifying the time, focus,  and energy I put into this without it.

Authors need to experience life, of course, but I want authors to be able to concentrate on writing. That’s true for fiction, and it’s especially true for non-fiction.

My Significant Other would like me to retire at some point (we could spend more time together…I want that, too, although I love my job), and I can see that…if I was writing a lot more. 🙂

If authors do have declining income, that may not mean you have fewer books to read…but they may be different. There might be fewer “quality” books, and more…books which might be considered not fully formed.

What do you think? Are authors making less money? If they are, do you care? Do you think authors will find some way(s) to make up the losses (if they exist)? If so, how? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Jackie Collins has reportedly died

September 20, 2015

Jackie Collins has reportedly died

Jackie Collins (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) was an incredibly successful novelist.

Reportedly selling over half a billion books throughout six decades, Collins’s works were consistently popular.

When I managed a brick-and-mortar bookstore, we could always count on a Jackie Collins novel selling well.

Before the first hit novel

The World Is Full of Married Men (at AmazonSmile*)

was published in 1968, Jackie Collins had acted in several movies and TV shows (including Patrick McGoohan’s Danger Man series, with the famous theme song “Secret Agent  Man” and the unofficial forerunner of The Prisoner series). Collins’ older sister, Joan Collins, had had more success as an actor by then…but Jackie was to bring a scandalous (and believed by many to be a true insider’s) view of Hollywood to bookstore shelves and bestseller lists with the Hollywood series (starting with Hollywood Wives in 1983).

Probably Collins’ best known series, though, was about the Santangelos (especially Lucky). Starting with Chance in 1981, and running through this year with

The Santangelos (at AmazonSmile*)

At the time of writing, it has 248 customer reviews with a 4.5 star rating out of 5.

I think Collins would be comfortable being described as being a commercial writer. Not pretentious, not writing for literary prizes, Jackie Collins repeatedly pleased a large audience.

The impact wasn’t lost on the publishing industry and other writers. Racy novels about the rich and famous…while Jackie Collins wasn’t the first, this was an author who virtually created a genre.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


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