Archives for May 2014

Shades of grey, twilight, and other bestselling bad ideas

Just because there’s twilight doesn’t mean you can’t tell the difference between night and day.

Kelvin R. Throop

Sarah Dimento explains literature

From Nine Literary Movements Explained Snarkily:

Books can be complicated, because they’re full of words and stuff. Apparently book words are not complicated enough to justify research grants though, so academics made up new words to describe what the words in books do. As a graduate of Fine Arts, I’m here to demystify some of their terminology so you can sound smart and stuff too.


Yo, we’re sick of them elitist Classicists not letting us in their clubhouse, so we’re going to make our own isms, with blackjack … and hookers.


Screw those Modernists not letting us in their clubhouse. We’re going make our own isms, with blackjack, and hookers. Actually, forget the isms and the blackjack.

Read the rest from Sarah Dimento. (Who is, by the way, not only a Grandmistress of Snark, but my cover artist as well. Plus she can operate cats and other dangerous equipment.)

Heather Lovatt asks about selling books through Amazon

In a comment on a previous post, Heather Lovatt asks some good and searching questions about what happens when an independent author sells books through Amazon’s KDP program. I shall try to answer as best I can, but bear in mind, I am neither a lawyer nor an expert at online commerce.

To simplify matters, I am breaking things down fisking-style and answering bit by bit. But this is by no means a fisking; I thought I would throw my horrible nature to the winds and try being friendly for a change. Here goes:

I am looking into the idea of publishing on Amazon. I’ve hit a lot of walls on this.

Dear Heather,

I hear you. I hit a lot of walls myself in the same process. I hope I can be of some help. [Read more…]

Edward M. Grant on ‘nurturing’ by publishers

Come now. If not for publishers investing in new and innovative writers, the Horror shelf in my local book store wouldn’t consist of:

Steve Jobs, Vampire Hunter,
Al Gore, Zombie Hunter,
Oscar Wilde, Werewolf Hunter
My Vampire Boyfriend
My Vampire Girlfriend
My Vampire Same Sex Marriage

and whatever the latest Stephen King novel is.

Edward M. Grant, on The Passive Voice

Leaving money on the table

Bill Peschel, a commenter on The Passive Voice, suggests that Amazon is bound to stop offering independent authors 70 percent of the retail price on well-priced ebooks, and cut the wholesale price to 60 or 50 percent of retail, or even less. He asks:

‘Why would Amazon leave money on the table if they know that authors will accept less?’

I reply:

I’ll tell you exactly why Amazon would leave money on the table:

When the table it’s on belongs to the consumer.

Amazon isn’t in business to sell books. (Or electronics, music, movies, patio furniture, knickknacks, teddy bears, buggy whips, or anything else they have an SKU for.) Amazon is in business to lower prices. The company’s entire business model is about increasing efficiency, lowering overhead, and using that to cut prices so that consumers will shop there instead of the competition. This is a company that is perfectly content (and so are its stockholders) with a net profit margin of less than 1%. Leaving money on the table is what Amazon does.

[Read more…]

A letter

A private epistle, occasioned by the ‘Altered Perceptions’ campaign on Indiegogo, and posted here for purposes of record-keeping. Read at risk of your own mortal boredom. –T.S.

[Read more…]

On writing down

Whenever you write, whatever you write, never make the mistake of assuming the audience is any less intelligent than you are.

—Rod Serling

Anatomy of a troll

I have recently blundered, in my usual unheeding way, straight into a heated online donnybrook on the blog of Mr. Brad R. Torgersen, taking the usual online form – that is, one or two trolls braying insults at a Greek chorus of sane people. I had something to say about the protagonist of the drama (I use the word in the Greek sense of ‘first actor’, not to be confused with ‘hero’). As it may be of some help to those who are perplexed by the behaviour of this particular kind of troll, I offer it here for the benefit of my Loyal Readers.

Patrick Richardson opined, at the end of a longish bout with the troll:

Honestly, I’ve come to the conclusion that [redacted] is a serious, clinical masochist. It’s the only reason I can come up with for his continuing to show up at the fora of [redacted] authors, claiming to be better than multi-NYT bestsellers when he so clearly is not, and then bending over grabbing his ankles and asking to be spanked.

This was my response, slightly edited for your possible edification:

I used to deal with trolls for a living (saddest job I ever had), and I can tell you that it probably isn’t masochism. More likely, he is so socially inept and so incapable of reading emotional clues from text, he actually thinks that his words are inflicting righteous damage upon us, the heinous foe, and that he is returning to his lair covered in glory after causing us all to writhe in soul-deep agony at the sudden exposure of our horrible, horrible guilt. And he is so plug ignorant of the art of dialectic that he actually believes he is winning his arguments with us.

Moreover, as a person who despises religion, theology, philosophy, and history, who knows nothing about art, literature, science, technology, or any of the useful trades, he is gloriously unequipped to appreciate any mode of thought but his own – and his own mode contains no actual thought, just an angry clashing of slogans without ground or consequent, like Nietzsche on cheap drugs. Therefore (hello again, Dunning and Kruger) he imagines that his own mental slush is superior to all our thoughts; that we disagree with him is, to him, proof of our imbecility. We all have gone through a phase of being something like him – usually in childhood, before we learnt sense; we all have outgrown it, seen through it, put away those childish things – but he imagines that there are none but childish things, and that we can only differ from him by falling short of his measure, not by exceeding it. I may be mistaken on one or two points, but that is my reading of the man, based upon more experience of his kind than anyone should have to endure.

In short, [redacted] is like a blind man carrying a burnt-out and wickless lantern, wandering from town to town, unshakably certain that he is bringing the benighted people around him their first experience of light.

Hope that helps.