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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

25 New Readers EVERY DAY!

As of the time of this posting, 537 people have downloaded The Unearthing from any of the 5 current sites either hosting or linking to the novel.

Since Friday's post, I've added another a new hosting site, GetFreeEbooks.com, as well as another 107 readers. That's an average of 26.25 readers a day, but let's call it 25 a day, for the sake of a good headline!

Steve Upham, who runs the ScreamingDreamsPublishing Online, will soon be linking back to this blog from his author's page index, along with mentioning the link to the primary download site. My heartfelt thanks to him.

Every day, the measured success of The Unearthing continues to grow. I"m thrilled, if only because I am fulfilling a lifelong ambition: to have my writing read. As I said, we'll see next quarter whether or not online book downloads translates into paper-book purchases. If it does, so much the better, if not, so what?

Now, I would ask that those of you reading the ebook please send me your comments; you can do so either to this weblog or to the offical page for The Unearthing; but what I would like is to hear from you. Feedback, positive or negative, is welcome and appreciated--so long as you've actually taken the time to read the book.

Until next time!

Friday, March 21, 2008

430 Strong and growing...

The latest stats since The Unearthing was released as a free ebook download are quite encouraging. At least 250 people have, as of this posting, downloaded The Unearthing from its seed with WTL's website.

Today, I learned that the MemoWare ebook store is now also hosting The Unearthing as a free download, and that I can add a further 180 readers from their website to my totals, bringing the grand total readership to 430 people.

Thank you, one and all; I sincerely hope you are enjoying what you read!

That means that in the seventeen days since deciding to release it as a free ebook, The Unearthing's readership has increased fifty-four times over the total sales of the novel's initial eighteen months. For those of you who are as good at math as I am, it means that in the first year and a half since it was initially published, I only sold 8 copies.

Not only that, readers of the book at MemoWare have rated it 5 out of 5 stars; over at Ebook Miner, which links to the WTL seed, readers have given it a 4 out of 5 star rating.

Few authors, even among the best-sellers, can actually make a living from writing. So the first thing any writer aspiring to become an author must ask themselves, is what is more important? Being read or being rich? If the answer is being rich, become a lawayer or a video game designer and write books in your spare time.

If the answer is that you want to be read, then there is no reason to take rejection from the allegedly "legitimate" publishers lying down. Rejection doesn't mean your book's not good enough, just that your connections aren't.

Of course you have self doubt. And it is likely that some (though I don't believe for a minute that most) of you aren't yet writing something really good enough to be read. If you want to know for sure, find people who aren't related to you to read your stuff. Find people with the time and the patience to actually give you feedback as you're writing, LISTEN TO WHAT THEY HAVE TO SAY, because they are probably right. Take a writing class with a teacher who is more than willing to absolutely fucking savage your work. Once your ego is torn down you'll begin to write well.

I speak from personal experience.

So, you've gotten your writing up to par. You've gotten so many rejection letters from publisher and agents and done so much research that you've realized how closed and sequestered a society "legitimate" publishing is. You've decided to self-publish. Now what?

Do your homework: research, research, research.

There are plenty of print-on-demand publishers out there who will be only too happy to publish your work Stay away from any of them that want money from you. A legitimate POD publisher makes their money selling books...oftentimes to the authors, themselves, who then re-sell them, but if they're asking for money up front, it's a scam.

But, you say, some of the pay-us-to-publish-you "publishers" are associated with big name publishing houses. Yes, yes they are. And for them it's a lucrative way of finding potential new talent and bilking small fortunes from naive individuals. "Scouting" might start at their in house "self publishing" stable, but they have people who read stuff online, who read self-published material, who are paid to read stuff from us independents and small-timers, all to find someone whom they think will be potentially profitable enough to bring into the fold.

I've outlined a few easy steps you can follow, to help you find the right POD publisher for you. You can link to them through the Chronicles of an independent author sidebar on the left, or click on the links below:

002---Vanity and Self-Publishing
003---Online Publishing
008---The Experiment : The Print On Demand Controversy

That should get you started in the right direction.

So, when you have found a POD publisher you feel comfortable enough to work with, you now proceed to the next phase of operations: getting your book approved and getting it published. Chances are good that when it is published, while the book will be listed with Amazon.com and other online retailers, you won't find many bookstores willing to carry it, and very likely, the POD publisher will not be doing that much for you, in terms of marketing.

Here's where you should expect to lay out some money. I recommend online advertizing; the social networking sites, message boards, anywhere you can afford to.

And if you can't afford to, you've gotta go viral; spread the word of the book yourself, on message boards, social networking sites, etc. A lot of professional bloggers will tell you you need to invest 4-8 hours a day at this. The reality is, if you have 4-8 hours to invest a day, brilliant. But most of us don't. Do as much as you can, where you can, when you can.

Although I've not yet seen whether the ebook release will generate much in terms of sales of the novel, I expect at least a few people will buy a print copy. Time will tell, in about 90 days (That's when the next quarter's royalty cheques are sent out). If you decide to release part or all of your novel as an ebook to help promote it the print book, be sure of one thing: SECURE THE ELECTRONIC RIGHTS TO YOUR BOOK BEFORE YOU SIGN THE PUBLISHING AGREEMENT. I did. Very likely if I hadn't, my publisher would be sending a lot of lawyer's letters to a lot of people, myself included.

The great thing is the publisher is likely to send you an electronic galley copy in PDF form, so if you track the changes and corrections made to the book before it goes to print, you can use a PDF writer to update the galley and Presto! You have a ready-to-go ebook!

Once you have a self-or-independently published novel and an ebook ready to go look into Creative Commons licenses, and put the appropriate license disclaimer into the beginning of your ebook. I say appropriate, because there are different types of Creative Commons licenses out there, depending on what you want to allow to be done with your work.

Once all that is done, my friend, it's just a matter of finding somewhere to host the file, and finding ebook distributors (many) who would be interested in distributing your ebook (most). Network on writers' message boards, network on readers' message boards. Find blogs by other writers, comment on their work, and get into a dialogue with them and their readers.

If your primary goal as an author is to have your work read, this is all you need to do, to be successful. From then on, you can learn how to build up your audience, and who knows? Maybe one day, you'll even be able to make a living off your writing.

Just remember: never give up. And if the establishment's rules are keeping you from getting ahead, stop playing by their rules. Kobayashi Maru scenario: the only way to defeat the no-win scenario is to change the conditions of the scenario itself.

Think you can do it?

So do I.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Arthur C. Clarke, December 16 1917 - March 18 2008

Like many of my generation, my first experience with the genius of Arthur C. Clarke was with his epic Stanley Kubrick motion picture co-conspiracy, 2001: A Space Odyssey.

It would only be several years later that I would read the stories upon which it was based; I don't recall the names, but the tales themselves will stay with me forever.

The first was about two astronauts on a moon-base, bored and playing games with the AI computer that ran the station. One of the astronauts posed the following dilemma to the computer: Everything that I say is false, including this statement. This statement caused the computer to melt down, plunging the astronauts into darkness as the station's power, communications and life support failed.

The second story was also about an astronaut, who discovers an artifact on the moon. The artifact is protected by some sort of shield, which, no matter what he tries, the astronaut cannot penetrate. Finally, he does succeed in breaking through the barrier around the artifact, and a massive and powerful radio signal blasts out from the device. The astronaut is left pondering who the signal was sent to, what will happen when the signal reaches its destination, and why the object was shielded from making that transmission, to begin with.

The ominous natures of these stories taught me an invaluable lesson: just because we can do something, doesn't mean we should do it.

There was also a novel, 2001: A Space Odyssey, written prior to the film. The elements of the previous two stories are demonstrably a genesis both for the themes and key plot points of both the book and the movie. The only difference between the book and the film is that in the book the Discovery is not en-route to Jupiter, but Saturn. It travels first to Jupiter in order to use a slinghot manoeuvre through Jupiter's upper atmosphere to travel on to Saturn. Kubrick felt that this concept would be too difficult for moviegoers to understand, so the story was altered to send the Discovery and her ill-fated crew to Jupiter, instead.

The movie was ground breaking; the science behind the fiction bang-on accurate, the special effects remain among the best ever done on screen. The science fiction films that followed in its wake, the Star Wars and Star Trek series, the countless other space epics, good and bad still cannot live up to the level of convincing reality that the ships, space stations and moon bases of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Even the best of Lucas' computer F/X looks like cartoonish artifice beside the Discovery, or the Tycho Moon Base.

It is worth noting that other than the chronology of the story, absolutely nothing else that Clarke has predicted has proven impossible or outdated. Though we do not yet have permanent bases on the moon or orbital hotels, these things are not only within our reach but could be done today, if only there was the political will and the financial backing to do it.

As to AI computing, HAL, the HAL-9000 series computer that was the operational nerve centre of the Discovery is not likely far from reality. HAL's memory and processors were "holographic", in other words optical data stored in a three dimensional crystalline matrix. Researchers are already experimenting with this sort of data storage, which would be the next logical step from existing optical data, namely CDs, DVDs, and fiber optics.

As to artificial intelligence, it would seem to be an inevitability in computing. The processing power of computer chips increases exponentially every "generation". Researchers are exploring quantum-state computing, which would replace outmoded binary digital processing. Computer sentience is not that far off...I dare say that many of us will live long enough to see it happen.

Clarke's status as a visionary extends well beyond the writing of science fiction. He is the man who came up with the concept of geostationary radio satellites orbiting the earth to make real-time radio communication possible; he wrote as much scientific nonfiction as he did science fiction, and he coined one of the most widely recognized terms in our modern lexicon: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

The man was brilliant, and though I did not enjoy everything he wrote (I advise everyone to stay away from 2061 and 3001, two of the most awful pieces of work he created), the Rama series (of which I only ever got around to reading the first two) are among my favourites, and are, along with the work of genius Babylon 5, by J. Michael Straczynski and Carl Sagan's Contact, the strongest influences on my own work, The Unearthing. However, I am but a small man, standing in the shadow of giants in comparisson to those three men. The tallest of those giants died today.

This isn't an obituary or a eulogy for Arthur C. Clarke. I'm not up to the task of summing up such a man as he. This is merely a small tribute to him. An offering of thanks to a man who inspired and influenced me, and thousands more like me; an offering to a man whose work will continue to inspire many thousands more, for generations to come.

Monday, March 17, 2008

CURRENT EVENTS: If we are going to protect English in Quebec, we must protect French in the rest of Canada.

Recently, the New Brunswick education minister canceled the French immersion programme in that province. We know that this action will be seized upon by the language zealots and separatists of Quebec as an excuse to justify their militancy. For that reason, I urge everyone to join the following facebook group:

Save Early French Immersion in Canada's "Bilingual" Province

You can e-mail the Minister of Education at: kelly.lamrock@gnb.ca

You can call the Minister's office at: (506) 457-4960

You can fax the Minister's office at: (506) 453-2523

If you opt to send an email, I would strongly urge you to write something similar to the message below, which I sent to Madame Lamrock:

*****

Good day.

As a Canadian citizen, and an Anglophone residing in the province of Quebec, I must strongly urge you to reconsider cancellation of the French Immersion programme.

For several reasons, the least of which is the questionable nature of the data in the report upon which you based your decision, it is important for you to do this.

First, New Brunswick has one of the oldest and most important French communities outside of Quebec. The Acadian people have been put through a lot in the past, and this is another slap in the face to an important part of New Brunswick culture, history and heritage.

As the education minister, you have a responsibility to the people of your province, and particularly in New Brunswick, you have a duty as a government official to protect and maintain the heritage of one of your province’s founding peoples.

Second, in Quebec, we are seeing an upsurge of militant separatist and Francophone anti-Anglophone sentiment. Ours is a community in decline. We are fighting for the survival of our culture, community, basic human rights and heritage. We are fighting an uphill battle for those things, within Quebec.

Any action outside of Quebec that can be perceived as an attack on the French language is seized upon by these militants as a rallying cry, as justification for their bigotry against the English language and the Anglophone culture, community and heritage in Quebec. Your decision is therefore not merely an internal matter affecting the province of New Brunswick. It affects your neighbours as well. You have an influence not just on a provincial level, Madame Minister...your actions have far-ranging consequences for more than just the citizens of your province. I strongly urge you, for the good of all, to reconsider your position.

Subsequently, anything that can be perceived as an attack against the French language in Canada is used to the advantage of Quebec Separatists. Along with the upswing of Francocentric militancy in Quebec, there is a corresponding upswing in Separatist sentiment. As a Canadian citizen, as a public servant in an important ministerial role in a provincial government of Canada, you have a duty to protect and preserve the Dominion of Canada. Part of that duty includes working towards national unity. Your decision to cancel the French Language immersion programme in your province can and will only adversely affect the cause of national unity. Again, I strongly urge you to do the right thing, to reinstate this programme.

Yours is an important office. Your duty is to oversee the moulding of the next generation of Canadian citizens. Yours is not an easy duty, and I understand that. However, your duty is to shape the minds, to expand the minds, of all the citizens of your province. Cancelling French immersion sends a strong message to the French-speaking, Acadian population of New Brunswick: It says that the old divisions of the two solitudes are still there…that the English will exclude the French…whether that is the intent of your decision or not--and I am sure that it is not your intention--that is how this decision will be perceived by many in the Acadian community, and by many others not only in the Province of New Brunswick, but beyond. I beseech you; do not turn your back on a programme that can only help perpetuate New Brunswick’s standing as Canada’s only officially bilingual province.

You are the education minister of all citizens of New Brunswick. You are the chief teacher of the province. Think very carefully about what lesson you want the people whom you serve to learn.

Respectuflly,

Steve Karmazenuk

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Unearthing virus spreads...


The good folks at Free Ebook Miners have posted the links to The Unearthing (which is still only seeded--if I have my terminology correct--at my friend WTL's site). The number of downloads of the book has been growing steadily and rapidly on a daily basis since I released it online. I don't have any official figures for the past couple of days, but the numbers are encouraging.

I'll be adding the Free Ebook Miners link to the list on the left shortly; managing the layout of this blog gets tedious but it is very near the top of my to-do list.

In other news, The Readers and Writers' Blog has serialized The Unearthing and has added Chapter 5 to the page they built for me.

If you're reading this blog because of The Unearthing, or got into The Unearthing through this blog, I thank you, and welcome!

I have to say, as glad as I am to be getting readers at long last (and hopefully generating one or two sales) for The Unearthing, it's a little strange to be talking about it so extensively again after a year and a half lull. I understand the concept of "hurry up and wait" but I didn't expect this.

But that's the great thing about this experiment: the results are completely unexpected, and an incredibly good learning process.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

The Unearthing will be Serialized...


Starting this coming Thursday, March 13th, The Unearthing will be serialized on a chapter-by-chapter basis, at the Readers and Writers' blog. It is still available as a free e-book download and for sale in print book format.

I'd like to extend my personal thanks to W. Thomas Leroux for his words of wisdom (and lighting a fire under my ass to quit giving up on The Unearthing and do something to get it out there) and for agreeing to host The Unearthing, and to Sid Leavitt of Readers and Writers' Blog, for his support and encouragement with the e-release of The Unearthing. I owe both of you a tremendous debt of grattitude.

It's been a long eighteen months to get to this point. The Unearthing's readership has nearly tripled in just a week, and it is poised now for even greater success. The road ahead is still a long one; I still need to establish myself with a wider audience, I have other works I need put finishing touches on, and get out to potential publishers, and I need to continue building a name for myself, and more importantly, my work.

It's an ongoing, perhaps even neverending process. It's not easy and it's not going to be overnight. But it is a process I will continue to chronicle here. Hopefully as you read my posts on getting published and recognized, it will make it that much easier for you, if you are a writer, to get published, as well. The only advice I have to give, is that you should learn from my mistakes and repeat my successes.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Why e-publish? Why not?

A couple of people have asked me why I've decided to release The Unearthing as a free ebook download, instead of charging for it. Well, never being one to pass up the opportunity to talk about myself or why I do the things I do, here's why:

A few years ago, the philosophy was “Who would be stupid enough to pay for something, when you can get it for free online?” Now, Wired Magazine has just done an essay on how it makes good business sense to give product away for free, in order to drum up sales.

My friends concurred, and encouraged me to launch the free e-book version of “The Unearthing”. Since its launch a couple of days ago, I’ve had as many downloads of the book as I have had sales in the year and a half it’s been published.

I don’t know if any of those people are actually going to buy the book, and you know what? I don’t care. The only thing I’ve ever wanted is for people to read my writing…that’s happening now, and though the numbers aren’t huge as of yet, they are starting to pick up. The only thing I can to is try and drum up interest in the story and hopefully generate more readers.

What I don’t understand is why independent authors, be they self-publishers or e-publishers are so oftentimes dismissed out of hand as being vanity authors.

Yet that is the commonly held opinion, even among the writing community; take Robert J Sawyer, for example. The Canadian sci-fi author claims on his site that: “In general, "online publishing" is an oxymoron; don't do it. If you can't make it in print, you're not yet good enough. Become a better writer, and continue to try to crack the print markets.”

Then just a couple of paragraphs later, he writes, “Fewer than one percent of those who want to be science-fiction writers ever publish even a single story. This is a tough, tough game to get into, and there are thousands of aspirant writers just like you. Almost all will fail, and 90% of those who manage to sell a first novel or a few short stories will also fail after that, never selling anything again.

Tell me; doesn’t that sound a little contradictory to you? If you can't make it in print, you're not yet good enough and yet Fewer than one percent of those who want to be science-fiction writers ever publish even a single story? Let's see if I have this right: he's saying that if you self-or e-publish you’re obviously not good enough, but if you try to publish with a “real” publisher you’re likely to fall flat on your face?

Not only do I disagree with that statement, I think that it is an example of outmoded thinking that, especially for a sci-fi writer, shows a complete lack of insight into how technology has changed the rules.

I really do believe that the future, the Great White Hope, for new talent to be discovered is through self-publishing and online publishing.

Agents won’t touch us because we’re unknown.

Most publishers won’t consider us without an agent and/or a pedigree.

The thing is, not all of us can write short stories to get into magazines. I can’t write a short story to save my life. Let me have between 300 and 500 pages, though, and I can give you something wonderful.

So how then do we get exposure? The best thing I can think of is doing it ourselves.

And yet, I understand the problem on the flipside: it means everyone—regardless of talent—can have several books out there.

That automatically damages everyone’s reputations, because there is inevitably a disproportionate amount of garbage out there—and I don’t discount the possibility that my own writing would count among that garbage.

But the thing is, in the electronic frontier shit doesn’t float, it sinks. People who start to read a bad e-book aren’t likely to keep reading it—especially if it was free or cost next-to-nothing. They can quickly move on to the next book, a better book.

Because of the communal nature of the Internet, with everyone these days belonging to social networks and sharing information, good e-books are more likely to be talked about than bad ones. We’ll share our gripes, but if we think our friends or message board buddies or subscribers or whatever are going to like something, we’ll likely talk about it.

Also, the quid-pro-quo between writers online means we’ll refer and link back to other writers whose work we enjoy. Of course in my case, that means I actually have to update my link list (something, like tidying up my desk at home, I can’t seem to bring myself to do very often).

Then, any work that the independent author/e-book author does on their own time, such as building a Facebook page, finding websites by like-minded individuals to share information on, discussing their work on message boards, et cetera, only adds to the pool of links and online references that lead back to the book in question.

Book sales have been on the decline for quite some time. And more and more people are downloading e-books from the Internet. I really think that the formulaic tripe that is getting published by the big name "Houses" is driving readers to seek out new material elsewhere. And as long as big publishing doesn't wake up to the fact that treating books as product to be sold instead of literature to be printed, they are going to keep losing readers to the Internet. Why pay $10 for a book that 's exactly like a dozen other books you've read, when you can go online and download something new, something original for next-to-nothing?

Why e-publish?

Because that's where the future is.

Monday, March 03, 2008

The Unearthing by Steve Karmazenuk now available as a FREE DOWNLOAD


Thanks in part to WTL and Free Ebooks.net, I am proud to announce that The Unearthing is now available as a free PDF download from both their sites, with even more convenient points of download to follow shortly.

I am offering this ebook for free in the hopes of generating interested readers who will eventually purchase the hard copy.

I have also decided, no matter what else happens, that I will release the follow-up books in the series by ebook distribution, as well.

You can link to the ebook from here , or download it from the menu bar on the left.