Greetings and Salutations!

Welcome to the longest-running* yet least-read** blog on the internet! Here you'll find me writing about all the things that I write about, which strikes me, just now, as somewhat recursive. In any case, enjoy :)

* not true
** probably true

Sunday, March 13, 2016

A little straight talk from Uncle Mike for new self publishers


I've got some things to say. Some of it won't be very popular, but I believe all of it is true. This only applies to fiction writers, and specifically fantasy and science fiction writers. If you don't agree with me, that's okay. I'm still right, though.
  • 80% of what's self published isn't worth paying for. A lot of people like to compare the price of an ebook to the price of a cup of coffee. Let me extend the comparison: If my cup of coffee has a hair or a dead fly in it, I'm not going to enjoy it, however delicious it might be otherwise. Even if I get my money back, I've lost time and had an unpleasant experience. A bad book is the same. Be in the 20%. 
  • If it's free and you hate it, you shouldn't complain. (because writers are readers, too.) I mean, really. Continuing with the coffee thing: You didn't enjoy it? Toss it out and move on with your day. Or you could be like people who leave one star ratings, and complain to literally the whole world. No, you aren't doing other readers a service and it isn't some noble, self-sacrificing deed; you're expressing your subjective opinion. Also, you look kinda petty.
  • Writers are not owed good reviews. Or any reviews for that matter. You write. You publish. After that, what people think or don't think isn't frigging up to you, so stay out of it. Are we still having this conversation in 2016?
  • Readers are not very good at spotting great books. They are excellent, however, at knowing what they enjoy and finding more like it. Writers can draw their own conclusions as to what they should do with this nugget.
  • Writers are delusional about the quality of their work. Especially young writers, and new writers. You wrote a book. Good for you. Finishing doesn't mean winning, and doesn't automatically come with accolades. Stop being millennial. Shorter: It's probably not that good. Write more. Each one you finish moves you closer to realizing your writing potential.
  • No, you DON'T have to pay for editing, covers and formatting. Not if you're willing to learn how to do these things yourself, and are able to pay in time and learning curve what you can't in cash. Other writers will tell you that you "must" pay professionals for these things. They have obviously never been in a situation where that simply wasn't an option. If you try to explain it to them, they'll talk about budgeting and savings plans and prioritizing. They just don't fucking get it. They never will. Ignore them. Do what you can with what you have, and constantly improve.
  • It doesn't matter if a book has a beautiful cover, zero typos and impeccable formatting, if it sucks ass. A turd is still a turd, even if it's covered in gold leaf. Write a good story first. Readers will forgive a number of sins if you give them a kick-ass story. You shouldn't forgive yourself for those sins, however, until you've corrected them.
  • If you did your cover and editing yourself, it probably sucks. Mine certainly did at first. But I wasn't delusional about it. I knew it, but it was the absolute best I could do at the time. I kept working on my skills. I kept improving. I kept getting better. You will too, if you're serious about it. If not, you'll sink deeper and deeper into the deep, deep ocean trench that is Amazon's algorithm, never to be heard from again.
  • Other writers are not your enemies, but they may not be your friends either. Writing is ego-intensive. Some writers will do weird, nasty things to anyone they perceive as competition. Best keep your distance.
Yes, I'm a little grumpy today. But everything above is the honest truth as far as I have seen and experienced. I hope it helps someone.

Oh, look, the beginning of a new series!

A few years ago, my eldest started reading a series of books called Beast Quest. I was very happy he was reading, and fantasy, no less - but one thing bothered the crap out of me: It didn't seem to matter to him what order he read them in. It made no sense - how could he follow the plot if he read book five before he read book three? Or book seventeen before book nine?

Then I actually read a Beast Quest book. He was right. It really didn't matter much at all, since each book was essentially the same book, but with a different Beast to contend with. Each book was about ten thousand words, and profusely if poorly illustrated.

I thought to myself "I could do that in my sleep. Well, not the illustrating part; even kids have standards. But I could write a series for kids like him, and I could do it better in just about every sense."

Well, long story short, I've started the series. No illustrations, apart from a map, but I've made up for it by making each book roughly forty thousand words. Maybe down the road I can get someone interested in illustrating. That would be awesome. And that's also the great thing about self-publishing; when you come to a place where you can improve the book, you don't need anyone's permission. You can just go and do it.

But let's see how this edition fares first.

You can pick up copies in these fine virtual establishments, with more on the way:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon CA

Amazon OZ