Thursday, August 30, 2012

Comments and Signins

As I'm feeling very under the weather at the moment I plan on this being very short.

I have received notification elsewhere that posting a comment here requires signing into something.  As I have the system set to accept comments from anonymous posters I don't see why that's the case, so if someone is still having issues with it, please let me know via comment here, a message on Twitter, or via my e-mail address which I listed in another post.  Thanks!

On another note, I've sold more copies of Subject 12 so far this month than I have any other month, and usually several months put together.  In fact, other than last month, you could take any two months' sales figures and add them together and you still wouldn't equal the number of copies I've sold this month!  Thanks!  This is great!  Makes me really want to write more and get it out there for you guys and gals, and make no mistake!  As soon as I'm feeling better I'm getting back to work, and that's a promise.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Reviews, Both Positive and Negative.

Thanks for the support, guys.  I really do appreciate it.

Over the last two years I've received a number of reviews for my works on several sites.  From Good Reads to Smashwords to Amazon, I've received a fair amount of secondhand feedback.  I refer to it as secondhand because the reviews are not meant, specifically, for me.  They're meant for other readers to help them make choises in what they want to read.  I want to make this distinction because I want all my readers (both literary and of this blog -- so hello, new reader, if you haven't read anything else of mine) to know that I understand the difference.

This brings me to the main thrust of this post; reviews and my response to them.  Positive reviews I treasure because, like any human being, I am in part ego-driven.  Tell me I did a good job and I'll want to do more for you.  Tell me I did a bad job and I'd like to know how so I can fix it and do better the next time.  Interestingly enough, as I was writing this post I got a new review for Subject 12.  That's exactly the kind of review I like to get.  It's not 5-stars and I'm still glad to get it.  It doesn't need to be a "perfect" review because the book isn't perfect as-is.  First off, there are some glaring editing mistakes in Chapter 7.  When I went back to read them the first time after publication I physically cringed at how bad some of them were.  I'm going to fix them and I plan on doing it in the upcoming month, hopefully in the next two weeks, but I'm not holding my breath.  Back on topic, that review clearly outlined his considered pros and cons, and pointed out how disconcerting it was for the love scene to end so PG (I'm going to kick it up a notch, bam) only to have the next scene open so much more graphically.  It also touched on the editing issues.  I hope I can win that star back with the corrections I'm going to make, but if I don't I'm not going to complain.  In fact, I'm not going to complain about any fully-negative reviews I get, including this one for The Grand Granger.

While I find that aforementioned review confusing in the sense that the blurb and sample should have been enough to tell him that he wasn't going to like the rest of the story, I'm not going to respond to it directly or indirectly any more than I have. There is nothing I can say or do that would reflect positively on me or my writing, and I honestly don't expect everything I write to be appealing to all readers.  Furthermore, I refuse to be another Anne Rice and attack people who don't like my books.  Aside from my lack of obsession with homosexuality, rape, and sadomasochistic sex in my writing (the lack of vampires, though that may change in the future, should further differentiate me from her), I'm just not a Mac user, that worried about people thinking my work sucks if it's substandard, or a giant in the literary field.  I freely admit to being a former fan of hers.  Unfortunately, I just could not get through Armand the Vampire -- and I suffered through more than one of her series in my attempts to support and enjoy her writing.  Interview With the Vampire will forever be one of my favorite books, so in that sense I'm still a fan.

Whew, sorry, I got up on my soapbox there just a bit.  I'll try not to let that happen again.

So, where does that leave me standing?  Someone didn't like one of my stories.  That's fine.  I don't think the reader handled things appropriately by either Amazon (A week is too damn long to allow returns of e-books, guys, seriously.) or the reader (bought, read, refunded, and complained) in question, but it's far from the end of th world or more than a minor annoyance.  I'm curious what you the reader feel about both The Grand Granger and the review in question, of course, but other than that I'm pretty much through with the matter.

Keep reading, keep telling friends and family, and keep reviewing!  The more word gets out about my writing the more readers I get and that encourages more writing!

Oh, and for all of you that read this far, I want to give you a peek into the story I'm working on right now.  I don't have a title for it yet, but I'm having some good ideas.  I'm also having some problems because the original story was supposed to be twice as long as Banshee and it's grown into something at least as long as The Grand Granger in what I have planned.  Probably longer, if I want to be honest.  Anyway, without further ado:
Alaska. A lonely Guildhall, more than an hour away from any civilization besides the small, surrounding village, whiles away the 22-hour summer days.  Things are quiet, like they always are.  Sedate.  Actually, downright boring.  Out of the blue, word comes that a new recruit is on the way; a Reagent Protocol recruit.  The last one didn't work out so well, considering he died from self-immolation shortly before he went through with his plan to murder a local family.  This new one, despite also being a former Confederation member, seems different.  Erudite.  Educated.  A fifth-level Shadow Mage and far too powerful to be stuck so far from anywhere his abilities might be useful, actually.  So why was he there and not somewhere his abilities could be of more use?  Could be be trusted?  What were his plans?
 Thanks again for reading!   Don't hesitate to drop me a line!  The spam protection on here requires me to authorize all posts, so I do read them, even if I don't respond.  Sometimes I'm just too busy and forget.

Friday, August 17, 2012

DMCA Takedown Letter

So, in order to combat the piracy of my book (and I haven't even looked for The Grand Granger yet, so I'm keeping that singular at the moment), I have to start filing DMCA Takedown Notices/Letters.  This isn't too bad, all things considered, except that I now have to start doing regular searches for my book to see who and what's pirating it.  Needless to say, this isn't something I'm looking forward to doing, and so far today I've dedicated at least an hour to this crap when I should be writing -- which I was doing until this e-mail I'm about to share and discuss arrived.

There's a catch to filing DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright ACT) Takedown Notificiations.  To show this as graphically as possible,  I'm going to copy/paste an e-mail I just received from a company I contacted (2Shared, for those who are wondering).  I'm going to edit out e-mail addresses and suchlike and add emphasis at key points, but substantially this will be the exact e-mail I received.
 Please write us back arranging your complaint into the correct copyright
report sample set by DMCA and we'll react on this matter asap.

According to DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) the notification must:
1. Identify in sufficient detail the copyrighted work that you believe has been infringed upon (i.e., describe the work that you own).
2. Identify the in-world item that you claim is infringing on your copyright, and provide information reasonably sufficient to locate the item in-world.
3. Provide a reasonably sufficient method of contacting you; phone number and email address would be preferred.
4. Provide information, if possible, sufficient to permit us to notify the user(s) who posted the content that allegedly contains infringing material. You may also provide screenshots or other materials that are helpful to identify the works in question. (This is for identification only, not to 'prove' substantive claims.)
5. Include the following statement: 'I have good faith belief that the use of the copyrighted materials described above and contained on the service is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or by protection of law.'
6. Include the following statement: 'I swear, under penalty of perjury, that the information in the notification is accurate and that I am the copyright owner or am authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.'

The DMCA provides that you may be liable for damages (including costs and attorneys fees) if you falsely claim that an in-world item is infringing your copyrights. We recommend contacting an attorney if you are unsure whether an in-world object is protected by copyright laws.
I'm going to focus on point 2 first.  What qualifies as in-world?  I believe websites do, but I'm not 100% sure.

Also, "liable for damages"?  So, basically, if they feel my registered copyright isn't sufficient to protect my rights to control distribution of my work they can sue me?  Also, they recommend contacting an attorney so I can verify that my registered copyright is sufficient to protect my work from their unauthorized distribution?  I can't afford either.  It's bad enough I have to take screenshots and send them to a company that isn't even registered with the US Copyright office like it should be.

So where does this put me?  Unfortunately, it puts me in the "I'll just have to wait and see if sales continue apace or if they start to slump again" category.  If sales drop again like they did in January I'll have no choice but to talk to a lawyer and possibly alienate my readers much like over the whole Napster/P2P crap.  I don't have the money, I don't have the income, and I don't have the time if I want to continue focusing on my writing instead of being distracted by all this.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Piracy -- I'm now a victim.

I found out why a lot of my blog traffic is coming from various malware-infected and piracy sites.  People have been posting copies of Subject 12 on the web for free download.  This is NOT approved by me in any way, shape, or form. While I have given away copies of The Grand Granger via Amazon's KDP system, Subject 12 has never been offered in such a manner.

I'm flattered that people think that my work is worth sharing and that other people feel it's worth downloading, but I have to point out that my total gross income from last year was under $2000 and that every download of my book that didn't result in a sale cost me at least $1.40.  So, if anyone out there reading this downloaded Subject 12 and enjoyed it but didn't buy it, I ask that you please head over to Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, Sony, iTunes, etc, and purchase a copy.

I'm currently looking into what I'd need to do to get the download links for my book taken off of 2Shared,, and similar sites.  I'm also looking at what I'd need to do in contacting Google to remove the offending links from their search, but it's a bit overwhelming at the moment (I'm no lawyer) and it's taking away from my writing time.

So, please, support an author and buy my book instead of just downloading it.  It encourages me to continue writing by keeping me fed and not distracted by pesky things like legal disputes.  Thanks!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Quick Update

It's been almost a month and I haven't moved vis a vis Smashwords.  Why?  I've been too busy in my day-to-day life to even do the research I need to do in order to start transitioning.  Things are cooling off with me, so expect updates by the end of the month, including the possibility of new markets -- but don't hold your breath on that one.  Progress on my followup piece to Subject 12 has been slow, but progress is being made.  I've found that, once again, I've had to go back to writing things out longhand before I can type them up.  This is, obviously, very time consuming; but it has the benefit of creating a first draft before I even start typing.  This means editing time gets cut down slightly in compensation, and it means I can write without benefit of a laptop (of which I do not have a functional unit), or the distraction of having a laptop with internet connection while I'm out.

Also, I'm seeing that a lot of the traffic I'm getting here is potentially malware-related and coming up from the weirdest searches across the globe, including a lot from Russia -- of which a fair amount seems to be malware-related -- and a fair amount from Romania, Bulgaria, and other places that I never thought I'd sell books to.  I cannot stress enough to you guys that you have to be careful.  Run antivirus and anti-malware programs.  There are plenty of free and effective tools you should be running at least once a week to maintain your computer's functionality as well as protecting yourself financially and your privacy.  I'll be happy to make some suggestions if anyone would like to know more.

The good news is that Banshee seems to be a hit, judging by the number of page hits that blog entry still seems to be generating.  I'd like to hear more about it from my readers, hint hint.  (I don't want to dig up a picture of a wink here, or use the emoticon, so please assume I did.  Thanks!)

I'll be doing a better blog entry here in a day or so, so please keep your eyes peeled!  Thanks for the interest, thanks for reading, and I look forward to hearing from any and all of you!