Black Wolf and Yin-Yang

So… yeah.

I’ve been madly and obsessively working on a heavy-duty edit of Black Wolf roughly since my previous blog post. First a detailed comb-through by myself and repairs on all the things I flagged, then reading it aloud to my patient Jackie and repairs on all the things we noticed that way. It’s now reached the point where anything else I try to do myself will be more harm than good, so I’ve sent it off to my wonderful test readers. Based on their feedback, I’ll make whatever further changes are needed, and I’ll release it this summer – in July sometime, if all goes well. While its in their hands, it’s time for me to switch focus to other things. Writing-related things, of course. Housework? Don’t be ridiculous! I don’t get a massive creative adrenaline high from housework!

Something interesting happened in the process with Black Wolf, but it’s long enough and sufficiently different from the rest of this post to deserve its own, which I’ll do in the next couple of days.

Several other books are clamoring in my head to be the next on the list for “official” release. I believe Renegade gets that honour. Even though I originally wrote it rapidly and simply as an experiment, I’m actually too pleased with it to leave it to languish in the shadows. I’m already working on editing that, and finding that it’s relatively easy to do compared to the older works. Why? Because it’s all new and clean and shiny, written based on an old-old idea but otherwise entirely with my current skills. There’s much less repair work to do because, well, it’s put together properly the first time! That’s making me feel rather optimistic, actually, that perhaps the process of editing will be less exhausting once I get the old ones cleaned up and released and can move on to newer ones.

Speaking of newer ones, the current noisiest in my head are: a semi-sequel to Black Wolf, involving a quartet of secondary characters who want their story told; a sequel to Renegade (several of them, probably); a sequel to Lamia, which is really something since I haven’t even figured out how to fix Lamia itself yet; my other-world Moonblood stories, cleaned up and the next couple finished and the whole thing put together into a single volume; an other-world fantasy mostly about culture clash and perspective and priorities, involving a transgender shaman as the main character; an urban fantasy about a small group who find out, traumatically, that they’re part faerie. How much of that can I get done before late fall and my probably inevitable annual crash begins? I guess we’ll see!

There are others there lurking in the background and waiting, too. There’s also a little voice in there telling me that I’m a fraud and eventually people will realize that I only have a limited number of good stories to tell, which is really rather illogical given the list of projects waiting and the difficulty of juggling them all into a limited number of hours in a day (and clear-headed, non-depressed days in a year). There’s an equally absurd little voice saying, “No, not that one, that isn’t representative of how you write!” despite the obvious fact that if I wrote it, it clearly is representative of how I write. Small annoying voices in one’s head should really learn when to shut up or come up with a more convincing argument.

Just shy of a month in, Yin-Yang‘s sales of the full version are creeping up on the total downloads from before release onto Smashwords, and the 30% sample downloads are several times that. So, I’m happy. More people are at least giving it a shot, and what more could I ask? I even had my first review, by someone I don’t even know, and it was short but enthusiastic. Since part of my mind was expecting, well, nothing at all, it’s hard to be disappointed.

By request, I’m looking at a hard-copy print-on-demand edition for Yin-Yang and further works, and I believe I’m going to go with – probably the 5.5 x 8.5″ value paperback, since I’m sure I can bring it in at under $10 despite the length of it, and the paper quality is actually the same as the hardcover as near as I can tell. That disqualifies it from retail distribution through Lulu’s various partners, but I’m fine with that for two reasons. One is that the distribution fees are ridiculous – off a $15 book I could make .70? So who’s getting the overwhelming bulk of the income for MY work? (Even their ebook option involves distribution fees that I believe are significantly higher than Smashwords.) The other is who Lulu’s partners are. Why?

I have a serious issue with exclusivity, DRM, proprietary formats, and monopolies, all of which I see as aspects of the same thing. Any hardware that will allow you to read only in a specific and proprietary format is attempting to limit your options to what they offer and make it impossible for you to shop around for other possibilities. Even if you can actually load files from other sources, if your hardware dies, you get the choice of purchasing the same sort of device again or losing your current collection; I see this as a sort of extortion and a sneaky version of limited-device DRM. As a writer, I don’t care if you switch which device you use to read my work, and for that matter don’t care if you have it on multiple devices, if that makes it easier for you to read it in comfort and around your own schedule. If you decide you don’t like the e-reader you bought and want a different kind, I don’t want you to lose your access to my book and be forced to buy it a second time – you probably won’t, with new books available all the time.

How is this relevant? Amazon’s Kindle. Barnes & Noble’s Nook. I have a number of issues with Amazon, actually, including their “KDP” program that tries to convince authors to remove their works from other sources, making them available strictly through Amazon. I see no valid reason for creating an ebook reader that will not accept the otherwise virtually universal format used by everyone else. Amazon is currently in negotiations with the first of five major publishers, who illegally forced a pricing model on Amazon a couple of years back; while I do think it’s quite possible that the truth is being twisted to make Amazon look worse than it is, I certainly don’t believe Amazon is innocent. Being the target of evil doesn’t mean you aren’t evil, basically. As for the publishers… let’s just say that, as near as I can tell, neither the publishers nor Amazon have the best interests of either their customers or their authors in mind, and leave it at that, shall we?

So, I’m not terribly heartbroken if choosing a more affordable “dead tree” version will also mean that I can’t sell my work via Amazon or B&N, because, well, I’d probably disallow that anyway.

I’ll be working on the formatting for Yin-Yang in non-digital edition, anyway, as well as the revisions on Renegade, while waiting for my test readers to get back to me. Busy busy! I also need to do something about the editions offered here: a pdf version of Yin-Yang in its final version, for those who don’t want to go through ebook retailers; removing the old version of Black Wolf in preparation for releasing the honestly-better-I-promise version, and deciding what to do about the others.

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