Welcome To the Year of Go Big or Go Home!

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*This morning I’m taking the very unusual step of doing identical blogging here and at Mad Genius Club. Mostly because I think what I woke up thinking is important in different ways for the different audiences. Just be aware the posts are identical, but the discussion will probably be different, so you might consider peeping over at MGC sometimes.  Oh, and yeah, I wasn’t going to blog, but I woke up going “Oh, duh!” and I had to share.  And, oh, yeah, happy New Year.*

This is where I confess I’m a wussy. I’ve spent most of the last year (not all of it because there were significant medical issues, including a near-fatal drug side effect to deal with) hesitating on the edge of the sea of indie publishing, unable to motivate myself to write.

Given that traditional is done with me, this was the equivalent of considering giving up on my career of twenty years, and the only skill I’ve worked on seriously in my adult life.

There were reasons. The reasons just might have been completely wrong. And one of those reasons is important for the rest of you to know.

Some of the reasons are intensely personal. The aforementioned drug side effect, for instance. People with my odd form of auto-immune are often helped by singulair. I was too. Until I fell into a depressive spiral from which I could not pull up. Turns out I’m one of the 0.1% people who have a bad reaction to singulair.

Once that was fixed, there were other personal hurdles, including family matters — by and large good, but time consuming — which ate the first half of the year.

Once that was done–

The problem is that all through this, and in fact till this morning, I was struggling with some facts I couldn’t understand. It goes something like this:

  • Traditional and Indie careers seem to have no point of contact. What I mean is, traditional mid list (or even high mid list, or even some bestsellers — though not all — ) authors who go indie seem to do dismally.  At the same time, indie authors are bringing down serious cash and even getting serious name recognition.
  • Most traditional authors who are dumped or leave the field seem to make a significant amount of their living from teaching. While I like teaching, I got into this to tell stories, and honestly it’s all I want to do.
  • Except for Witchfinder, and that was 8 years ago and it’s a strange book, my indie publications the last two years have been oh, hum.  In trad, I can count on selling 3 to 4k in the first month, usually, in indie, I was seeing first-month sales of 500 copies, with some additional KUL reading.  Now sure, the things I have published, recently were mostly collections and recently a short novel, Deep Pink,which is also profoundly weird.  And I get those aren’t things that sell normally. Still watching the counter go up to 500 had me scratching my head and going “I thought I had at least 1k hardcore fans.”  Again there’s a long tail, and my publications have been one-off, and I won’t know what splash a full length space opera novel makes till I release it (end of January), or the next Dyce novel (end of February) but all the same, you know, it’s disquieting.

If it weren’t for the fact that I know several other traditional authors experiencing the same thing — leftists, centrists, and people who think politics is a strange dish we eat with onions — I’d think my problem is that I am profoundly politically tainted.  I mean, if someone admitting they voted for Trump is enough for a twitter mob to try to drive them out of romance publishing, what does being an avowed anti-Marxist do to one’s numbers.  (And yeah, sure, I could keep my mouth shut. Except I can’t. I have kids and will have grandkids (and have “adopted”, practice grandkids now) I’ve seen this movie before, and therefore I can’t allow it to continue playing and for the consequences to fall on those I love after I’m gone. My voice might do very little but it’s a voice, opposing the madness. At any rate, I was never very good at pretending or fitting in, and mean girls think they’re psychic and can “find” whatever they want in your books, as we’ve had proof lately.)

But what else could it mean?

It is at this point most traditional writers I know, particularly if they were always mid list (Represent!) sigh and say something like “I guess I never really had that much of an audience. There’s something in my writing that just doesn’t sell. Well, I’ll know the craft and people will pay for lessons/coaching. I guess I’ll do that.” Or you know, decided to start sewing stuffed dragons or stuffed Mr. Trashbags for a living. (Shhhh. It’s a hobby.)

Which, okay, fine, maybe it’s a thing.

Except that I’m sorry, I’ve met young, (thirty something) indie authors making a living after 1 year.  I’ve looked at and read their (usually fairly short) books, and there is no magic sauce. They read like very young-in-writing authors, who will get better in time. Some of them are eminently readable but I have to turn off the part of my back brain that groans and goes “oh, hey, I used to do that.”

….  So, what gives?

Well, this morning I woke up with the solution. No, I don’t know HOW. My brain doesn’t work like a normal human being’s brain, which turns over things rationally and comes up with a solution. No. I think most of my IQ is in either my subconscious or my toenails or perhaps, given my peculiar form of getting drunk (I become annoying and exhaustively rational. Think Mr. Spock.) my waking mind got tired of blurting out truths others find unpalatable and therefore shuts itself down hard.

Which means my most productive insights come about something like this: worry at a problem for days, weeks or months or even years, (depending),  and get nothing. Then suddenly while I’m doing something completely unrelated, or just woke up (or on the case of plot problems, often in my dreams) get the solution with startling clarity.

This morning I realized why your traditional career might give you a little boost (or a significant boost) in indie, but it won’t be at the same level starting out.  And why even those who have dual careers need to start out again in indie, even while they’re still doing fine (and are sometimes megasellers) in traditional. And also why traditional publishers think the indie market doesn’t really matter and fail to understand the significance of ebooks.

Are you ready for this? Once you see it, you can’t unsee it: it is because traditional and indie play to fundamentally different sets of readers.

What? Do I mean paper and ebook? Do I mean non-KULL and KULL?

Yes, but no.

One of the things that has always frustrated hell out of midlisters caught in the funny house of traditional publishing is that traditional publishing ignores a VAST number of readers, and they’re the readers midlisters are most equipped to do well with.

They’ll tell you it’s not a vast number. It’s something like 5% of the reading public. And they’re right. Except that it’s 5% of the reading public that accounts for 80% of sales.

This is a known demographic. They go by many names from super readers to compulsive readers. To call us — yes, I’m confessing — by our real name, we’re story addicts.  The threshold to be one is RIDICULOUSLY low: 3 books a month. I have no clue what they call people who in slow times average three books a week, and when on vacation or otherwise not busy can do that a day, but I know we exist, and I know I’m not alone. (Right, I’m not alone? Right?)  We’re the people who sneak a book into the pocket of our formal clothes and panic because you can’t figure out how to sneak a book into your wedding dress. We exist, and we won’t live in the shadows anymore. I mean… ahem… whatever.

The point is that traditional publishing always ignore these people. There are reasons for it, having to do with production times and laydown. Traditional books follow a weird and convoluted trail to publication, a trail that takes scheduling with many people, and independent entities like stores. This makes doing even four books a year very difficult. Which means that most authors, be they big names or midlisters are locked into a book a year.

Then there’s the produce model of publishing: your book supposedly spoils or ages after being on the shelves for 1 week and gets returned after that. And then there is ordering to the net and a bunch of other things that seem completely insane to the rest of us, and which have essentially killed midlist but which cater to ONE audience: the people who read one or two books a year.

These are fundamentally and intrinsically different groups of readers: they read mostly on paper, for one. They usually buy their book in a bookstore (though with the scarcity of those, a lot have moved online). They often — though not necessarily — read as a positional good. I.e. they read because they think of themselves as smart people, and smart people read. I suspect as a whole they trend left-ier (because left politics are also a positional good in our society,) more display oriented, and tend to think of themselves more as “intellectuals” than your average book addict.  They overlap with people who read less than us story addicts because they’re busy, have kids, are in a phase of their life when they simply don’t have much time to devote to reading, or reading is not their primary form of entertainment. These people don’t trend leftier, snobbier, etc, but they tend to only be aware of books when they’re pushed, or only pay attention when they have a marketing campaign telling them “read this”.  For the very busy (I went through phases when I was rebuilding houses, and the kids were tiny. Keep in mind I’m an addict though, so to go without a fix I need to be insanely busy. But yeah, it happens.) this makes sense, as you want to be assured that book you just started is no going to come apart in the middle.  A lot of us midlisters tap into that fandom as do odd-ball authors, mostly in the Baen stable, (for sf/f) or cozy authors for mystery who get enough push to hit that audience. (Or in midlister’s case, who are lucky enough to be found sometimes.)

It wasn’t always like that. In the pulp days, authors were known to put five, six, seven books a year, and have fans fall on them like starving puppies.

In fact, the pulp model is much like the indie model.

Those careers died/were killed slowly, and there’s a number of factors, but what put the final nail in that coffin (in my awareness-time as a writer who wasn’t published yet, but who was analyzing what she saw happening) were two governmental interventions (and no, I’m NOT just being a crazy libertarian, this was obvious and clear.) One of them was Bill Clinton’s (executive order? signing a directive? I don’t remember the specific model yet, and I want to register that a representative republic shouldn’t give anyone wholly ignorant of an industry the ability to interfere with it by such injurious means, period, and that we the people SHOULD have means of actual redress to stop these ridiculous regulations, beyond voting the bastards out) dictating that there should be some percentage of recycled paper in every book.

This completely silly — since trees grown for paper are trees grown for paper. No one is cutting down virgin forests to print books. (So this is the equivalent of “save the brussel sprouts.”) — but it has been proven extensively and conclusively that paper recycling and re-processing is more injurious to the environment than MAKING paper.

Also, since recycling paper is more expensive, within a month it took the cost of printing your common, run of the mill mass market paperback from $5 to $8.  I was a new-mother at the time, and those $3 put most newly-printed mmpbs out of my reach. I went from buying a couple a month to buying maybe one very three months, and I had to have heard of the author before.  The distortions caused by this killed the careers of a lot of mostly mmpb writers — those who write for the story addicts — and also caused distortions that included the rise of the goat gagger (books of more than 250k words) and making hard cover the most profitable format for the houses. Which in turn caused a whole lot of other distortions. I won’t go into those, which at any rate were amplified by Borders clever stupidity of ordering to the net, which all the idiots then copied. I’m not going into these because, a) I’m over 2k words and most of you are hungover and b) I start shooting green light from my eyes and foaming at the mouth.

Anyway, suffice to say as I said above it makes sense for the trad pub market as currently constituted to cater to the one or two books a year market. Which explains a lot of their choices, from the books they choose to promote, to their covers, to the fact that they tend to shed any writer to the right of Lenin, and shed us faster and harder if we’re minorities or women, or both (represent!) because as pointed out that market trends left-ier than the general population.

Which brings us to the story addicts. These poor souls can’t GO without books. I know. I am one. So, how did we survive?

Barely.

The dark years of the late nineties and the oughts tried our hearts full sore. There were actually groups of us online, in email lists and some sharing the same “I’m being driven from pillar to post” sad tales.  We started buying used A LOT. Which involved reading books by authors who had since been shut down from no initial sales. Which meant that we would read two three books and break our hearts because there were no more. Or read books printed before we were born. And we expanded our genres because everyone outside a massive city eventually runs out of used books in their favored genre. (We almost all started reading romance, for instance, at that time, which given my groups is not a normal read for us. And some of us “ate” history books like m & ms, because they tended to be LONG, which meant more reading for the money. Also they’re usually priced cheap as used books.) And read marginal books to the end (and sometimes three or four times) because well, it was a book.

Which is why, not just as a writer, but as a reader, I say Thank G-d for indie.

You see, Indie by its nature, the fact that books are cheap (and a lot of us lunatics are subscribed to Kindle lending library, too) and that they are varied, but mostly THAT THEY’RE IN SERIES and series that are published two to three months apart for new installments, caters to the 5% who buy 80% of the books.

COMPLETELY different market from traditional. And one about which I can speak authoritatively because, again, I AM THAT market, or a typical member of it.

If you write anything remotely readable and non offensive in one of our genres or subgenres, (we can now be picky) we will find you and we will read you.

EXCEPT that it comes with a caveat: indie has a high cost in finding an author initially. Oh, not as high as trad is getting, by publishing a lot of utter crap, but still high. You will find that about 50% (and for some genres higher) of books you sample make you scramble backwards away from them going “dear Lord, no.”  In science fiction I’ve found this often includes people who think they’re inventing the genre from scratch, or are adamant they’re not science fiction, while writing all the tropes… as if they were brand new and earth shattering (but enough about traditional publishing!), in romance and mystery they often include recent college graduates (I was one once) who think serious must equal “there are no good guys” or “no one is clean.”

Anyway, covers often warn you away from those, by being of startling inappropriate horribleness. BUT not always.

What this means is that you WANT series.  Judging by ancient mythologies’ tendency to become convoluted soap operas, I suspect humans crave series, period, but indie reinforces that. I’ve been known to fall into a series and read it to the end even when it’s just “so so.”

If a series is actually good, and it has a lot of books? BLISS. I know what I’m reading that week.

This explains why a lot of the high-money makers in indie are releasing books every other or every month, in a series. (Though that might drive me insane, and I have a starting public, and I’m willing to give it a little extra time, too, so I’m going to run a few series to start with.)

So:

Trad pub and indie are marketing to fundamentally different people. Trad pub is not utterly blind, it just doesn’t cater to us, and never has.

In indie, you benefit from long series (even if sometimes what you put out any given month is a short story) and from publishing frequently.

And while some of your readers from trad pub will find you right away, it might take time for them to figure out you’re publishing in the new model, particularly if you’re still publishing traditional or if you’ve been silent for some years (as I sort of have, due to illness.)

So, your initial sales for your first indie books will be disappointing. This is almost inevitable.

But you still have the skills and the know how. If you’re writing for your fans and not the editors (and sometimes this takes a bit of mental adjustment, but you can do it. If you’re a long time writer, you’ve survived about a million changing trends, anyway.) you can be successful at this game. (Yes there are other things you can/should learn to ease your journey, like keywords. I SUCK at keywords. I suck like a hoover. But I know people who also suck and are making REAL money. By which I mean more money than most trad pub midlisters ever saw.)

You just need a serious publishing schedule (and to take it seriously) beta readers and editors you can count on and a decentish cover designer (I’m one of those. I’m getting better. I aspire to good, as I do in everything I do, but that takes time and practice, and it’s a career I never wanted, but which makes my life easier than dealing with finding artists.)

THIS IS POSSIBLE.  You can do it. I can do it.

Or at least I’m going to try really, really hard, which is why I sat down with my husband and wrote a schedule for 2020 which would probably give most people nightmares, and which involves my learning to keep regular hours, not get distracted by things like house cleaning and learning (again) to produce reliably.

But you know, if my insight is correct (and I made the schedule before I had that insight, just based on what I see working) it should work.

Which makes 2020 the year of go big or go home.

Wish me luck. Or join me in the insanity. Whichever your inclination!

Let’s go!

*Yes, yes, I had a typo in the title. Note not in the title at MGC. But instead of copying i wrote out the title again, and this happened while my entire family was moving and talking around me, and before I went away from the computer for a while. Typos happen.*

 

 

317 thoughts on “Welcome To the Year of Go Big or Go Home!

  1. Copied from my response in Mad Genius Club

    Wasn’t another problem was when the IRS decided businesses had to pay taxes on goods in warehouses?

    Thus publishers had to empty their warehouses of “older books” (which caused problems for people wanting older books).

      1. It also — probably — contributed to lower print runs as unsold copies could not be (as easily) stockpiled in inventory.

        I wonder whether anyone’s done a study on the effects of advancing print technology and the change from type-set to print-from-computer files, developments which surely must have made small print runs more viable.

        1. Someone must have studied that metric, you might think … but the though occurs that those who presumably might want to do that study are deeply afraid of the answer…

      2. Honda did an end-run around that by moving their old inventory back to Japan. You can still get parts for 50+ year old Hondas from the dealership, but you have to wait for them to be shipped.

        I was surprised that none of the publishers felt it worthwhile to put their old inventory in Canada, Mexico, or even someplace like Trinidad or Grenada, and just re-import as needed.

        But, no, that would require Doing Things Differently, and they’re not fond of that.

        1. My suspicion is that the publishers welcomed the excuse to reduce inventory while driving up the costs of new entrants to the field.

          Too many business managers prefer increased market share in diminishing markets over diminishing market share in increased markets, even if there is greater profit is in the latter situation.

    1. Yes. That was before Clinton’s idiotic order. It killed the spinner racks, etc. that accounted for a ton of the mmpb sales. But that was (I think) before my time, or it slipped under my radar at the time.

      1. What I loved about the spinner racks was that they weren’t emptied and restocked every time the truck came by, like periodicals. For the most part, once a book made it to the spinner rack, it was there until someone bought it or it crumbled to dust. New stock was added as needed to keep the rack full, but the old ones stayed.

        In the 1980s I used to go to drug stores and convenience stores and dig through the racks. I found some nice SF that had been there, judging from the cover prices, since the late 1960s…

        1. The spinner rack – at the local office supply store, actually – is where I got the majority of my purchases as a child. Oh, for the days when $1.75 a week was almost enough to feed my habit!

        2. I’m not sure how long Dollar General keeps three dollar books in their spinner racks; there are a lot of blonds in ruffled dresses in dramatic poses, but some sf/f too.

    2. Yes, those IRS who pushed that should have been dragged out behind the building, shot, and buried, and then completely forgotten. Of course they’d merely say it was an application of the LEAN concepts to publishing. Problem is, they get so lean, the minute you have one hiccup in the process, the entire line stops.

  2. FWIW, Sarah, I’m right there with you in this. A book published yesterday, another finished and ready to drop later this month, and a thousand words already done on another one this morning with more to come.

    At least a book every six months, preferably one every month, and I can’t wait to see just how this turns out. May it pay us both quite well. 😉

      1. I can’t remember the last short story I actually wrote. I’ve got a problem where I write short anyway, so most of my books are less than 60K words, usually around 40K-50K, and I can bang that out in a couple of weeks. I wrote most of the book published yesterday in the span of about a week, so I can probably do something similar.

        Then again, a novella in the same universe is close enough to a book in the series, I suspect, so long as I don’t charge stupid rates for it.

        1. Thing is, at three bucks a book, people will be fine with something that isn’t the e-book equivalent of a doorstop. The lower price point means that you don’t have to have as many pages.

            1. There is no labeling so clear it cannot be misunderstood, and there is no deal so great that some [EXPLETIVE] won’t complain it isn’t better.

              Hell, Christianity promises eternal salvation for the low, low price of saying “Yes, please!”* and many people refuse that.**

              *not precise phrasing

              **I am not referring to those who don’t believe that a deal that good can be so cheap, nor those who believe it requires greater payment (e.g., “works, for me”) — I mean the people who think it ought be available without having to accept the contract.

              1. There is no labeling so clear it cannot be misunderstood, and there is no deal so great that some [EXPLETIVE] won’t complain it isn’t better.

                Ain’t that the damn truth.

      2. I will observe, however, that I have always found short story collections to sell better than short stories.

      1. I don’t want to give myself that much lead time. I have the time to put out books more often, so I need to stop giving myself slack to goof off. That’s why books written a year ago are only just now getting published.

  3. I know a number of super readers, including a woman in the dog show community who reads a mystery or a romance every DAY. Your analysis is spot-on. Once they find something they like, they’ll buy anything in the same series, by the same author, or with the same general concept. (There are dog show murder mysteries, and dog show romances. Really.)

    1. As popular as cat-themed mysteries were, dog-centric ones make perfect sense. You could probably also do well with parrot/cockatoo, and of course Dick Francis showed that even with trad-pub, horses in mysteries work very, very well.

      1. One of my non-SFF indie writer friends is doing well writing equestrienne romances that revolve around horse training and dressage. I suspect that anywhere there’s a sense of common ground there will be opportunities for stories.

        1. Men who can ride are handsome in their bearing, even if they have funny faces or are short jockeys. And most riding clothes for men are flattering.

          Women don’t stop liking the idea of horses when they got puberty. So it is a natural progression of readership, which used to be exploited only by Western romances or Regencies.

          1. I’m thinking of all the bow-legged geezers I grew up around, and chuckling at “handsome in their bearing*being applied to them.
            And then outright chortling at what their reaction would have been to hearing it.

            1. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

              Hang a couple of million dollars off an old, prune-faced, bandi-legged, hunchbacked, unshaven, slovenly fellow of dubious hygiene and you’ll still get plenty of takers for him.

    2. Yes. There are also dog rescue mysteries, etc. I read cozies, and there’s a whole genre of “animal” cozies. Probably rats and mice and chinchilla too, I jut never read them.

      1. Probably rats and mice and chinchilla too, I jut never read them.

        Now I am sitting here wondering what the RLF position is on rodent-centric human romance cozies.

          1. As opposed to the pair of activist lesbian squirrels about which (whom?) Adaptive Curmudgeon has written an amazing blog-based serial adventure?

            Semi-spoiler alert: The squirrels have been using an advanced memetic superweapon in their schemes.

          2. a squirrel-themed cozy.

            ‘S easily enough done. Every time the “detective” begins to close in n the critical clew or out the culprit she is suddenly distracted by squirrel!

          1. Wait, you mean there’s a wide open market for mystery romances with rodent themes?!?!

            Why was I not informed???

      2. Recent trips to local B&N stores has revealed to me that they stock “Mysteries? and “Cozy Mysteries” separately, albeit adjacently. Both seem to occupy comparable shelving space.

        Make of that what you will.

          1. I had a trade ppb of the first in a series (Longmire) that I enjoyed enough to read the second, so of course I want a complementary edition, not something i wholly different dimensions … and with Amazon you don’t always know what you’ll get and their discounts on paperbacks are now nearly negligible and I had a coupon, soooo …

            I find I don’t much like shopping for books in a toy store.

            1. I’ll drop in on B&N physical store when I shop at the store next door just to see what they have on their book shelves. Don’t buy anything there. Might mark a book in app to look at later.

          1. That sir would clearly be a horror novel… Perhaps involving mutated 30ft Chinchillas. But think of the awesome coats…

    3. The Rogue Angel series. Got the first 3 for free or $.99, through BookBud. Got one of those eBook rebates. Bought the remaining already published with the rebate, slowly. Then bought new ones as they were published (until “sold” to new venue type … sorry $17/”book” is a bit steep).

      A few others I’ve done that with too. Granted I’m still shying away from Amazon, but I’ll cave eventually. Just easier for one source to prevent me from duplicate purchases.

      FWIW. Received somewhere around $300 “rebate” hand slaps because trade publishing pulling shenanigans, about 4 times. About time for their hands to get slapped again, given the uniform prices of eBooks & paperback VS indie publishing. We’ll see. I don’t pay the trade prices unless it is a series I don’t want to give up. I’m not picking up any new series at expensive prices, not even authors I follow, that I already have a number of completed series.

  4. Good Luck!

    I bought a kindle copy of Deep Pink a day or so ago which is in the queue after finishing this month’s Baen Web Bundle (particularly Target Rich Environment 2.

    I’m one of the folks that always has something to read with me (these days a tablet). I went to e-books due to price (can buy more books if they’re cheaper), easier to read in poor lighting conditions, and my SD cards (tablet and phone) can hold every book in my library, with the Kindle app giving access to those I get from Amazon (i.e. anything I can’t find as an epub version, I really don’t trust that what I buy is always going to be available on the Amazon cloud).

    This actually goes back to grade school when we were encouraged to have a “free reading” book available for times when our work was done or other down times. No matter how many other books I carried through the hallways of Jr High and High School, one was either a paperback (SF, military or military history usually) or the latest issue of Analog.

    I routinely maxed out the number of books I was allowed to check out of the public library, although they got used to the fact that when I turned them in at the end of the two week loan period they had all been read and I was on first name basis with the director and most of the staff.

    So, good luck, I’ll be watching to see what comes down the pike. As I said earlier, I prefer an non-DRM, non proprietary format for my e-books, but I understand why Amazon is probably your best outlet and will endeavor to buy any that look interesting to me.

    1. The Kindle app keeps a local copy of your books. You just have to find it and copy it somewhere else so that the app cannot get at it and it is safe.

      1. Thanks Sarah, I’ve never tried to use Caliber to convert kindle books, might be interesting to do just to see how it works.

        And I can’t even bring myself to take old books I haven’t read (sometimes for decades) to 1/2 price or the Salvation Army.

        One downfall of living in one location for 26 years without enforced moves of the .mil is that it removes any real incentive to thin the herd.

        1. We’ve been in the same place for just a few years now – but the asthma from dust on books is incentive enough, along with fixed number of bookshelves, to thin the herd.

          Our loss will be the friends of the library’s gain… and somehow that pain never stops us from acquiring more books, especially ones not available as ebook…

          1. We’ve been in one place for 31 years. Came down to cost & portability. I’ve replaced the physical books I wanted to re-read to electronic form. Most, not all the physical books were donated to the local library (which we don’t have library cards for … matter of access, cost, & who uses it these days).

            1. In Denver, the downtown library is basically a homeless shelter. I haven’t been inside in years. I wouldn’t even consider bringing a child.

              1. Denver, the downtown library is basically a homeless shelter

                Yep. That is it. Brand new library in (more or less the heart of) Eugene. Built parking underneath, but allowed for all of downtown, not just library patrons. Streets narrow. Next to LTD bus station. What do you find when you go in? Homeless sleeping the day away.

                I know it is not their fault (well the smoke product they volunteer to partake of is, their fault). But I’m super sensitive to scents … For some reason it is considered rude to cover your nose & mouth to try to decrease what you are smelling … Hey it is not like I discriminate. People don’t even have to (quite) bathe in after shave, or perfume, I am the same way. I’m not going to pass out, but a migraine is probable. I would have had a horrible time working in sales or as a waitress, or anything that waits on GQ public. Used to be I just couldn’t wear perfume, now it is worse than that. I tried to volunteer in son’s classroom in ’96 when the company I worked for shutdown … couldn’t do it.

        2. Hope for your sake it is more predictable going movie to something else than it is converting to mobi.

                1. Not sure what you’re asking here.

                  Normally, I take Kindle ebooks (which includes mobi files) and convert them to ePub ebooks.

                  I have taken Word Docs thru Calibre to be converted to ePub ebooks.

                  The Word Docs have “indents” for the first line of a paragraph and a blank line between paragraphs before I send them thru Calibre.

                  1. Calibre has some weird defaults when converting files into .mobi. I’ve yet to find a way to adjust them.

        3. One gotcha for converting Kindle – last time I tried I was told that I had to use a Kindle for PC version 1.24 or earlier, reverting to which involved a fairly extensive set of operations. I would love to know that has changed …

          1. It’s Kindle 1.17 for the PC. After that, they changed the format (although the latest version of Calibre claims to handle the new format — but it’s still not as convenient).

            It’s not hard to install. All you need is the installation file for 1.17, and then use the following steps:

            (1) Install the current Kindle for PC. Open it, and, in the settings menu, uncheck the box that says to automatically install updated versions.
            (2) Uninstall Kindle for PC (which will leave the settings file).
            (3) Use the install file for 1.17 to install Kindle for PC. Since the old setting that says not to automatically update is retained, it won’t update you to the latest version (which is what you want to not happen).

            You’ll then be running that version. When prompted by “there’s a new version out for you to install”, then say No (it will happen every few months or so).

            And 1.17 stores each book as a .azw file in your Kindle books library (generally in My Documents). Import them into Caibre from there (stripping DRM assuming you so desire).

  5. *raising my hand I am a compulsive reader. I didn’t write much last year… I was thinking this morning that it was time to start again. I tell myself every year that failing is fine, but getting up and doing it again is better. Also I have a hobby of making beanies– I’m pretty good too. Thanks for the insight.

  6. Happy (and prosperous) New Year to all.
    Sarah, we always knew you were 1 in 1000, it just sucks that that applies to drug reactions as well.
    Be well.

  7. hesitating on the edge of the sea of indie publishing

    Och, lassie! Do ye nae ken? You’ve burned your boats on the coast of a new publishing world and there be nae choice but to go forward. Aye, ’tis a new world, but nae so new as all that. Pres onward, win friends and allies ‘mongst the natives and make a wee pile* for thyself!

    *Management wishes to make clear that we have no objection to making of medium or even large piles and that this is not a endorsement of the medical condition colloquially referred to as “piles,” which we gather is quite discomforting and the type of thing we would never wish on anyone, not even a Democrat. (well, hardly ever.)

  8. No, you’re not alone. Work the last three years as we were bringing out the new system slowed my writing down to a crawl (and I mean a George Rape Rape Marten crawl) and my reading down to two books a month, but now that we’re up and running, I’m not coming home with every creative juice existant wrung out of me, I’m back to a book every third day, and back to writing. I’ll never hit your production numbers (having a 50 hour a week day job does that to you) but I will need your cover services

  9. I had a stretch where I stopped reading fiction for various reasons, but resumed reading (on the Kindle) when medical trips gave me a bunch of un-programmed time. I’m now part of the 5%, with an hour or three reading in the evenings.

    Most of what I’m reading is material I’ve heard about on the Sunday book-pimping, or books by the Mad Genius Club members. The big exception (at 540 pages, it’s huge) is a true-ish crime novel my wife bought and insisted on talking about. I’m reading it so she won’t go crazy by *not* talking about it. I’ll read in that genre, but it’s not first choice. (It’s a first novel, published Indie, but she heard about it on a Fox News show. Go figure.)

    I must credit Hollywood for my reading habits, too. The shows I liked to watch have since fallen off the air, and those replacing them are dreck, so I have that much more time to read.

    1. Correction: the author got a blurb on the *local* Fox affiliate as a “local retired cop writes his first novel” story. The novel in question: (Hear the Wind Blow by George Collord). Not sure how often such a story might get airtime.

    2. I drastically cut back on fiction when I found myself becoming too cognizant of the plot moving because the author was cranking the handle. I have now learned this coincided with the era of “fiction that is good for you” and represented the author’s inability to interest me in dreary characters’ dreary lives.

      I also became aware of the degree to which non-fiction (History, in particular) is subject to the biases, prejudices and agenda of the author and cannot, properly, be classed as non-fiction so much as fiction based on actual events — just as a movie “”based on a true story” may have little to do with the actual events described.

  10. You are definitely not alone. Good luck.

    I was a “read five to six books over two days” reader, until I cut back due to the lack of stuff left to read in the pre-ebook era. I don’t know that my budget could handle me speeding back up to that, even now, although KU would seem to help that…

    1. This is why I have KU. I still don’t spend that much on books, because while we help the kids through the rest of their career preparation (G-d willing only four more months!) I simply can’t. I do buy some books, but it’s maybe $200 a year, which ain’t much.
      OTOH I have KU, which accounts for the rest.

    2. That’s why I started going back to the library after a long hiatus. I usually preferred to just buy my books, but killing a couple of books in a day reminded me that I can’t afford that kind of expenditure.

      Sent from Mail for Windows 10

  11. I hadn’t realized there were so few of us. I feel bad sometimes because I reread favorites (I’m living on Safehold, again) and not trying more new work. Then I remember one of my gripes is I’ve hit the age where I read some “Best of 20xx” story and either get disgusted with the political slant or realize the author has just rewritten a Golden Age story and doesn’t seem to realize it.

    1. Oh, please. The best 20xx like most awards are chosen for those who see reading as a positional good. So they’ll be left-year, weighted to SOUNDING intellectual and in the case of SF/ completely ignorant of the field.
      DON’T USE THOSE AS GUIDES. Sheesh. 😉

      1. They are perfectly usable as negative guides, Sarah. Along with the Hugos, the Nebulas, any of the celebrity book clubs.

        At least eliminates a small portion of the dreck before you even take the time to look at the blurbs.

      2. I remember grabbing Terry Carr’s anthologies each year and multiple volumes of the Hugo Award winners. That was early to late 70’s. They were a nice way to get a survey of the field and ID authors and works to track down. [heavy sigh]

        Lots of things were crap in the “good old days” and I would not go back, but there were some things that were better…

      3. And when an Author rewrites a Golden age classic they invariably screw it up. Usually in an epic fashion. Although usually not so epic to move into the “so Bad its Good” Realm of things like Plan 9 from Outer Space.

    2. I end up rereading when I need to relax, can’t think too hard, and don’t know that I’ll be able to read the whole thing without having to put it down. If I already know what happens it doesn’t matter if I don’t get a chance to finish it.

  12. Yeah, super-reader, that’s me and has been for a long time. If I do’t have my KUL queue full that’s means I’m in a coma, and do not ask me how many paperbacks and I accumulated before aging eyes switched me to hardcovers back when I was buying physical books.

    And yes, there’s crap in indie, and I’ve learned to have one hand on the ejection seat handle when starting a new author, just to be prudent.

    One thing that crap does motivationally for me is to trigger the “Well, heck, even I could do better than that!” response, which I find very much a plus.

    Day Job has been eating up a lot of waking hours, but my goal for the New Decade is to do more stuff that is not either Day Job or required home maintenance, and getting the WIPs moving falls in that category.

    So Best of Luck Wishes to Our Lovely yet Terrifying Space Princess Hostess here, and to me, and to all who aim to swim in the Sea of Indie

          1. I’m willing to bet that Dan thinks you were and are “More Than Cute”. 😉

            1. Ah, but Dan’s her husband and biased. Mind you, like all husbands, he’s expected to be biased. To paraphrase Matthew 13:44, “A good woman is like a treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.

              1. I suspect Dan’s “bias” preceded his becoming her husband and thus cannot be disregarded on grounds of self-interest.

    1. Sigh. I once was a super-reader, now twenty-five pages a day is my target, with certain genres/authors running fifty (Correia, Ringo, Butcher fall into the latter category.)

      Of course, I read so bloody much online stuff that it is possible I’m reading more than when a voracious youth gobbling up ten or more* books a week. At A2H alone I estimate I’m reading a novel’s worth every week, so keeping score strikes me as a way of depressing myself to no particular benefit.

      *at a guess. ON a holiday weekend (e.g., Thanksgiving) I could easily knock off thirty or so books. As I usually juggled several books in process simultaneously it seems absurd to dither over exactitude.

      1. I hear you. this site and Instapundit (which lead me to this site) are the two biggest time sinks (when I count time in the comments), but lots of little ones (Splendid Isolation, View From the Porch, Say Uncle, The Smallest Minority, 30+ in my RSS feed) add up and often their links lead down a rabbit hole that takes hours to traverse.

        Probably a good thing I have no writing talent and long ago figured out what a dead end that would be for me as a career path, so at least I don’t have to add time over at Mad Genius Club and other sites dedicated to actual writers as opposed to consumers. 🙂

      2. Yep, that’s me, too. Full time day job, full time student, lots of reading online (and chatting with the bugbear via IM), some writing (and organizing and learning for future planning) of my own. A lot less reading.

        Even just of short stories, as I have anthologies abundant.

        Some of it could also be the setup of my house, too. Geared toward sitting at my desk with background “show for noise” on the TV, and working rather than sitting on the couch reading. Part of that is also window orientation, too. Odd how environment shapes our daily routine without really seeming to. I’m sure moving back to a different house setup will change my routine.

      3. Back in the day* I could literally tell time by the page number – I was rock steady at 1 page per minute/60 pages per hour, at least in paperbacks of the time, to the point that I could pay attention to the page numbers to make sure I left for classes or appointments on time.

        I am certain there’s a words per minute reading speed in my Kindle’s tracking somewhere since it guesstimates how long new books will take me, but I have not gone to the trouble to dig in and find it.

        *Apropos of nothing, note btw that this phrase constitutes the “Jay Leno’s Garage” Drinking Game, at least for his YT videos – one shot if he says it, two if his guest says it. This has been a Hun public service announcement. We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

  13. A few what I hope are salient points.
    Super reader? Yeah. Most of my life five or more books a week, almost exclusively either library or used mass market pb. Also keep in mind that when I started seriously reading a standard mmpb was 25 cents with a goat gagger going for 35.
    Now almost exclusively e-books, on computer screen or Kindle Paperwhite. All my Kindle purchases are through the computer and stay there permanently, cross loaded via usb in lots of a dozen or so to the Kindle which stays in airplane mode other than once a year for software updates.
    Now on to financial considerations. What’s a typical mid-list advance these days? Say around $5k? And the likelihood of that book earning out any time soon is slim to none given the current practices of order to net and lack of push by publishers. And should a miracle occur and it does earn out, you can expect at best about a buck a copy as your pittance from future sales.
    That indie short you just put up for $2.99 just sold 500 the first week, a cool $1k in your pocket, and will likely keep on at a similar rate for at least the first month or so. And will continue to sell for as long as you keep it alive on Amazon.
    And that trad pub novel was all you got this year, or at best one of two if you kissed up and really sweet talked a few editors. So your munificent income from writing might earn you $10k a year with perhaps an equal amount from short stories in collections and anthologies. Luckily the food stamp program will keep you and your kids from starving.
    Your indie short novel earns the first month it’s up, and keeps on forever at some rate. And there isn’t a damn soul to stop you from writing another next month, and the next, and the one after that. Which is precisely what the old time pulp authors did month after month, often using several pen names so as to keep from saturating the markets.
    Finally, about those years of hunting through countless used book stores, yeppers a new series was a precious find. More than once I would start a found book from an unfamiliar author and stop a few chapters in. See, I’d stumbled across something mid series, so had to go on a focused hunt to find all the books in that series so I could start from the beginning. And best news of all was to find that a new author was still writing, so had even more coming my way. Not to mention that good as a new series was, better was a new author who’s writing I enjoyed because often if I was lucky I found that they had other works in other genres that I might find equally entertaining.

      1. Yeah, figured as much but wanted to err on the side of fairness.
        Point being that compensation per unit sold is vastly greater with indie, but you already knew that.
        And not all your fault or that of your unfortunate series of illnesses. I place a great deal of blame on that sorry slacker who has failed to crack the whip on your butt nearly as often as I should have.

    1. … better was a new author who’s writing I enjoyed because often if I was lucky I found that they had other works in other genres that I might find equally entertaining.

      Then there are those authors* who, having sampled a couple works, inspire you to buy all available works … only to discover that the writer has only about two themes to their name and keeps beating them into slightly different patterns, leaving me with thirty novels sitting in my “to be read” pile and grave reluctance to forego greater pleasure (or even possibility thereof) merely to reduce that particular sub-stack.

      *No names, but there is a certain writer of “My Little Pony” fanfic that was pounding out trilogies for quite a while who comes to mind.

    2. Well…

      That indie novel has to actually get read. Until you get an audience, you don’t have likely sales. I’ve published one novel, and so far I’ve apparently had exactly one page read by a Kindle subscriber (presumably they mistook my novel for something else). Obviously, my audience isn’t there yet. So you could publish novels and get 500 readers each time. Or you could publish ten novels and get no readers. The one bit of good news about the latter is that if your eleventh novel ends up drawing eyeballs, then your previous books will probably get a lot of sudden attention.

      1. Something that I forgot to note –

        Until you get that initial surge of readers, all of the time you spent is essentially an open question of whether it will pay off, or remain a time-consuming hobby.

        1. You used to become REAL Author when you became a Published Author.
          Now you have to have Made money on your books in Indie or I sold books on Indie.
          Next will be I sold *K books on Indie.

          To say I have 20 Books on Indie means NOTHING if they didn’t sell.

  14. Sarah, I was going to say some things in comment, but then you wended your way through and said them all anyhow. As a reader not a writer, who is one of those compulsive readers (Cap’n Crunch box ftw), I can only agree with everything you said about our kind and to emphasize that, as much as the writer may enjoy it, we aren’t satisfied with short stories. I might read one (1) short story between novels, but usually I just want to get to the next novel in series. I want characters that I can grow to love, who develop through the series, and secondary characters who come into the story and sometimes become their own stories, also same universe/different characters provides a similar tie of comfort. I guess I’m looking for an alternate universe to live in for awhile to escape this one, LOL.

    1. Cap’n Crunch box ftw

      I would once have agreed with you but as they have simplified (dumbed down) the package text with every new edition I no longer find their product meeting my standards and instead recommend the merits of comparison reading of the Post and Kellog Raisin Bran boxes — although there is much to be said for some of the independent cereal box producers who put great effort into inventive copy advocating for their particular bled of goodness.)

      Often overlooked are those “snack pack” anthologies which, while typically brief, offer a nice variety of texts in the cereal box genre.

        1. I’m a big fan of the Hot Sauce genre, although it suffered for a while from excessive cuteness.


          One local favorite dates back to the Fifties.

  15. These pep talks have really helped me deal with the depression that’s been beating me up for about the past six months. I haven’t yet gotten the energy to kick the Black Dog to the curb, but I at least know he’s there and that it’s possible to beat him.

    I have a 12-book series planned, and the first four books are drafted. This year I would like to get all four published. It isn’t quite the book-a-month pace, but it would be something at least. However, in order to get the four out the door, the first one has to happen first.

    1. If you’d like, feel free to hit me up for pep-talks/beta-reading/mutual accountability. I’m intimately acquainted with that particular Dog, and find that having somebody to talk writing with helps kick me into gear. Aggrokitty at the mail of gee if you want to chat. 🙂

  16. I was a compulsive reader until I discovered computer bulletin boards in the ’80s. Since blogging became a thing I only read a book a a month or so – not that I’m reading fewer words overall, just reading more stuff online.
    But series are important for that reading clientele as well. Terry Pratchett & Mercedes Lackey got my money for years with consistently good entries in their series.
    Obviously I’m a fan of your writing as well, but it’s been too long since the last Dyce Dare! 8^)

  17. I used to be a super reader. Then along came Day Job, and writing. I’m having to load up on non-fiction for research and hole-filling for Day Job. (Plus there’s a problem with my glasses, and reading too long causes literal pain.) However, I managed to slip in a few more fiction reads this past year, pretty much all indie or Baen. I need to read more next year.

  18. *looks at Goodreads 2019 total* *325 books*

    Yeah. Compulsive. Mind you, I *do* have elementary-aged kids. And really, I need to bring that total down, since a lot of it is “frustration at not being able to do things.” (Like spending a week at my MiL’s with the kids and having nothing to do… oh lordy, three books a day only because I was spending time playing stupid little games on my device.) (My laptop decided to stop talking to the screen unless the hinge is in a particular unusable position, so it’s a desktop now. arrgh)

    1. Er, assuming you’re comfortable opening up the laptop to tinker, anyways.

      Searching for “laptop name screen ribbon” usually works.

      1. Heh. I’ll give you the one-word reason we haven’t: “Apple.”

        *Note: Evil Rob is a former Apple Genius. This still does not authorize him to take apart computers without killing the warranty.

        1. *Note: Evil Rob is a former Apple Genius. This still does not authorize him to take apart computers without killing the warranty.

          Ditto for any of the MS flavors … unless you built your own. Until the mfg warranty is gone, at any rate … Nice thing about Costco, is once mfg warranty is kaput, even tho still under Costco or Square Trade Warranty, there is more flexibility to open stuff up to try to get it to work … encouraged even.

          1. I mostly get refurb, SquareTrade doesn’t even flip when I do my upgrades on the computer.

            Yeah, it costs a chunk, and the repair shop guys are sometimes lazy (fixing immediate issues without noticing it’s been in for the same thing three times) but they do fix the immediate issue.

  19. Firefox’s “Pocket” on the default blank/home page (which I have got to get around to changing because sometimes it provides something interesting or this sort of amusement, but often it’s just annoying) tried to present me an article on how to read more books. The intro graphic indicates the novel idea of picking up another book or two during the extended period you have theoretically put the first one down in the middle, during which you would otherwise be reading nothing, or only a page of it here and there, or something. I think.

    Every so often I see something like that and wonder if it’s aimed at aliens, and then I see stuff like this and realize I’m the alien, apparently. Granted, I go through periods of not reading as many books just because I’m busy or have gotten caught up reading something else. (Chats, blogs, bouncing across the internet, whatever.)

    Admittedly, I don’t really get the idea the people who are Trying To Read More Books are doing it because they are trying to fit more of something pleasing into their lives — though perhaps some are; certainly there are things I enjoy and would like to do more of than I get around to — but perhaps they are not selecting very gripping books?

    1. Yeah, the whole “tired of reading” concept is pretty alien – I get “your old eyes are getting tired enough that you have to stop, and besides it’s 2am and you have to work tomorrow”.

      If a book gets “put down in the middle” it’s probably walled or window-from-train-ed.

      1. window from train-ed! I did that once.
        Though one of the Harry Potters, I put down because I was interrupted, and never came back to again. Read the next one, but haven’t felt a need to read that one. I think it was one before last. It wasn’t offensive, it was just aggressively meh.

        1. Well, I was never really able to get into Harry Potter.

          The garbage he went through at “home” just turned me off.

          On the other hand, the YMMV rule applies.

          (YMMV = Your Mileage May Vary)

          1. Brandon Sanderson spoofed Harry’s home life in the first Alcatraz Smedry book. And speaking of Sanderson, he’s someone who doesn’t seem to be as insanely prolific as he used to be.

            Hmm…

            Harey’s home life does get better over the series. His uncle doesn’t change. But his cousin starts to come round after Harry saves him in one book. And his aunt softens a bit as the series progresses. Harry still doesn’t like his home, mind you.

            1. As I recall his cousin tries to be nice by leaving cups of tea outside his door, but Harry just thinks that he is setting booby traps for him to trip over.

        2. If it was the 6th book, it’s understandable. I kind of liked that one when it first came out, but when I tried to re-read it, I realized that nothing happened. I’m pretty sure that if you compared someone who read the book with someone who read a spoilered summary, not only would you not be able to tell who was who, I don’t know if even the subjects of the experiment would remember if which they were.

      2. I have walled exactly four books in my life. (Two of them by Sheri S. Tepper.) One of them I retrieved, and the last was walled only on a technicality (TECHNICALLY it was left in the hotel toilet. I was peeved.)

          1. The Sad Thing about Sherri Tepper is that I enjoyed her True Game series and parts of the “Follow Up Series”.

            But she got “Woke” (before Woke was a thing). 😦

            1. Yeah. Loved the True Game books (shapeshifters are one of my narrative Things, and a whole trilogy with a female shapeshifter POV? *gimme!*) and Tepper has a gift for subtle creepiness that I enjoy. Or enjoyed before it got irretrievably overshadowed by the Woke.

          2. “Gate” was one of ’em. “A Plague of Angels” got walled HARD, and “The Fresco”…well, I made it through because I was having enjoyable arguments with the author, but that was the last thing of hers I ever bought. I try and read occasional books by technically competent authors I disagreed with, but I just couldn’t take any more of her particular brand of “we must keep secrets from the poor wee unWoke to steer society in the Correct Direction”.

        1. As an erstwhile toiler in the hotel industry I must protest. The stuff people put there in the regular course of its design function are sufficiently foul. No maintenance worker or plumber should have to extract anything of Ms Tepper’s.

        2. I’m glad I got Tepper’s work out of the library. But there was a period when I read her latest one in a certain horrified habit to see what she could perpetrate this time. After about five, I steeled myself to break the habit.

    1. Back in U.S. Army uniform I usually had a paperback in one cargo pocket. I still lament the one by Gordon Dickson lost on the drop zone I never finished.

    2. Apparently not. Puzzles the heck out of me, too. I also picked my current kindle because it fits most of my jacket pockets, for when I go for walks, or out to dinner and don’t take a purse, or….

      1. It’s why I don’t put one of those ring-handle-prop thingies on the back of my phone. If I did that, it wouldn’t slide into a pocket easily. I can just put it on a regular prop thingie if I need to. But I’d rather preserve the ability to slide ot into a pocket. Or, occasionally, slip it down the front of my dress/shirt when I need hands free for something.

        1. I’ve got an OtterBox™ on mine. It makes it too big to put in most pockets, but it doesn’t slide around. And if it drops, I’m not on the way to the screen store.

        2. When Kid was two, I found a toy flip phone in a bag of Goodwil toys. She had a lovely time playing with it, but was So Very Surprised when she put the phone down her shirt and it fell out the bottom…

    3. A good men’s sport (or suit) coat should provide pocketing for at least a half dozen mmpbs (goat-gaggers apply separately) — two in each outside hip pocket, one in inside breast pocket and two each in inside lower pockets.

      Available at thrift stores and estate sales in a variety of materials, although a good, heavy tweed should provide excellent endurance.

      See also: https://www.gentlemansgazette.com/pockets-complete-guide/

    4. I have 9.11 cargo pants in a variety of colors that are pretty much my exclusive wear out side of rare formal events. Thigh pockets hold my wallet (primary reason I started wearing cargo pants that weren’t in woodland camo, I hate sitting on my wallet almost as much as my back does) and my 7″ tablet nicely.

    5. I delayed moving to Kindle from a Dell Axim PDA until they came out with a Kindle app that would work on my Android. The Dell fit in my shirt pocket; the Kindle didn’t.

    1. I delayed moving to Kindle from a Dell Axim PDA until they came out with a Kindle app that would work on my Android. The Dell fit in my shirt pocket; the Kindle didn’t.

      1. I have no idea why this ended up here instead of as a reply to sifttheashes….

        WP delenda est.

  20. Along these same lines, if anyone wonders if the Sunday Promos work or not? I’ve picked up several series I’ve consumed all of and am waiting on the next one by starting with a promising looking promo, finding the first book in the series and going to town.

  21. These days I generally get through a book or two a week while eating on breaks at work. It would be more, but reading blogs like this one cuts into book reading time. KULL mostly right now, but once I read through the stuff I know I can find I will cancel and buy stuff in the three dollar range.

    Before Kindle, Baen and used science fiction were my go to options. While on active duty in the barracks with disposable income a trip to the large chain bookstore usually set me back $80 and only lasted me a week or two. By 2007, the options there dwindled in entertainment value so sharply that I had trouble finding much to read there.

    So it’s not just Sarah. I can independently verify some of this from my own little vantage point, and I haven’t tied into much geek networking besides the little community here.

  22. I’d claim I’m not a compulsive reader, but… when my non-English vocabulary has increased because if nothing else is available, I will read and try to translate the back of the shampoo bottle in all available languages?

    1. “The truth is, I’ve got a monkey on my back, a habit worse than marijuana though not as expensive as heroin. I can stiff it out and get to sleep anyway–but it wasn’t helping that I could see light in Star’s tent and a silhouette that was no longer troubled by a dress.

      The fact is I am a compulsive reader. Thirty-five cents’ worth of Gold Medal Original will put me right to sleep. Or Perry Mason. But I’ll read the ads in an old Paris-Match that has been used to wrap herring before I’ll do without.”

      1. The question is what owns us. When I was in the hospital, they offered me as much Vicodin as I wanted. No temptation.

        If told in a used book store:
        “You can have as many books as you want.” My response: “Where is your forklift?” , (to haul them out to the truck). My goal, a book a day. At 100 pages an hour, only 3 hours of reading a day. So a decade requires 3,650 books to quell the addiction. 50 years of reading needs 18,250 books.
        My wife loves the library, the books have to leave us and go “home”. The only problem is the occasional one that gets lost among the 12,000 we live with.

  23. I shall have to finish reading the post and the comments later – senior discount day at the grocery store…

    A few initial responses, though, from what I have read:

    1) Your voting for Trump, especially after a period of agony like mine, only makes you more attractive to me. (Platonically, Dan, platonically…)

    2) Let it be recorded that I did not try to sneak a book into my wedding dress. However, while the priest checked the soles of my shoes for off-color writing, my mother was delegated to pat down my tux. (Hmm. If I were getting married today, the fashion appears to be going for cummerbunds. I wonder…)

    3) You, I think, are spot on about what happened to the market. Although I would add the change in tax laws that discouraged keeping inventory – which, of course, feeds into both the spoilage and net ordering issues. An unsold book on the shelf, or a few kept in the back just in case, became a foolish continuing expense.

    No thirty…

    1. When I ushed (ushers ush, right?) at my sister’s wedding, the cummerbund served to help conceal the pistol. (A former boyfriend was reported to be making – noises.) The tux actually had a mmpb-sized pocket to contain the book.

        1. One of my cousins had his new mother-in-law invite the ex-boyfriend to the wedding…. and then introduced him as “the one she should have married.”

          Yeah, this didn’t last.

  24. Concur with Uncle Lar, and I’m hoping to get 2 books plus some shorts or novellas out this year. I’m thinking about putting my shorts and novellas into a paperback, because some of my readers are dinosaurs who actually LIKE holding a book in their hands.

    1. Always good to know that great minds think alike.
      Back when I was business manager for one particular author we had very good luck with print books through Ingram Spark, POD, and sold through Amazon. 300 page trade paperbacks were costing us $5-6 per unit, selling for $20, so $8-9 profit. Only downside was that payment flows back through IS who sit on it for 90 days. Still better than our experience with trad pub compensation, often as much as a year late.

  25. LLL. Until then:

    I was praying for you guys today: Mrs. Hoyt, The Grants, The Wrights Vox Day, Mad Genii, you know who you are, who build up, build over and build around.

    God speed all of you for 2020!

  26. Learning to read in 1st grade was literally a Divine Revelation and I’ve never kicked the habit, never wanted to. It is a gift from God.

  27. I’m not a super reader anymore – but I was. Now I’m down to 4-5 books a month, but that is because I’m that indie writer. My goal is 2k a day (with a day job). And yes to the series and the being found. I’m slowly getting super fans, Libertycon helped as did my HUGE amounts of fanfiction. I am determined to be making a living off of this by the time I retire, which is why I’m sitting here on New Years Day, fighting with myself to get my 2k written today.
    I’m trying to write the best stuff I can, but there are days when you look at the zero sales, and wonder. But forward is all I can do.
    I wrote just under 370k last year, but I’m going to do better this year. I have to. Lol – now to get my books to sell and find more super readers.

  28. So, a confession and an apology, in reverse order.

    I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me – probably because I’m not a writer myself and don’t have skin in the Indie/Trad battles – but your revelation made me go “Well, yeah. I mean, didn’t everyone know that?” I mention this because – despite the amount of incredible Indie out there – I fall into the land of not enough time to risk what I do get on reading crap. You I know I’m safe with. Generally, anything coming out of Chris Kennedy Publishing will at least not be absolute garbage and has a fine chance of being entertaining. Beyond that, though, is Too Much. There’s nothing to guide you through. KULL is a way to safely test the waters, but it’s too expensive – I might get a book a month, which means I’m paying double to triple what I otherwise would.

    It’s an apology because, if I’d known that was an issue, I’d have pointed it out and I sort of feel bad.

    Onto the confession: This gave me a great relief in another category, though. Your 5% that buys 80% of the books makes perfect sense. What I didn’t realize, was exactly how uncommon that is. Always felt like a bit of a piker, especially at LibertyCon, because I wasn’t reading 3-5 books a week and couldn’t fathom exactly how people were keeping those rates up. Glad to know it’s not everyone else and I’d just gotten lazy or something. 🙂

    1. coff: I don’t write novels for Chris Kennedy (I have done a few short stories) and I’m not absolute crap. Neither are the people writing for Mad Genius club. They might not be writing genres/subjects to your taste, but absolute crap they’re not.

      1. I’d like to think I’m not absolute crap either.

        But, in fairness, Chris was interested in my most recent book. I just didn’t get enough word count for him so I published it myself.

        Sent from Mail for Windows 10

          1. I can certainly identify with the fear of buying a book that isn’t good, though. At least when it’s going to be one of few that are purchased, then the risk is pretty big.

            KU has to help that if someone has KU. But I remember being in a book store and looking at books and picking them up and putting them back and picking them up and putting them back and picking them up and putting them back. Sometimes leaving without buying one at all.

            And I’m sure that most of them were fun books. But I didn’t want to make a bad purchase.

            Maybe that was part of that $8 book dynamic. It increased risk.

            1. I usually can tell within the sample by Amazon if something utterly sucks. Like for instance they confuse regency England with pre-revolution France. or the Duchess drives a gig to the grocery store, or….

              1. Yep – the “No, that does not work Iike that” violation, if central, is a major wall-attractant. There are plenty of sources nowadays that can be used to find out how various things happen in reality with a little effort, a lot less effort than in past years, so not bothering to find out is a major turn off.
                If it’s incidental and not central, OK, maybe, but even then if it smacks of laziness then it’s likely wallward bound.

            2. Given the rates at which I return books to the library after about 5 chapters or so, I would say that fear is justified.

              I’m still trying to figure out what to do about the one my mother-in-law gave me for Christmas. The summary makes everyone involved seem horrible, but it was given to me by someone I care about…I don’t suppose anyone here knows anything about the book Lady in the Lake, do you?

              1. My biggest problem lately has been exactly that. Books good enough to keep me reading, but halfway through I realize everyone is horrible and does things for despicable motives. Flip to the end. Yep.
                Feel like I need to shower inside my skull.
                WHAT THE HELL IS UP WITH THAT?

              2. That depends — I thought I recognized one of Raymond Chandler’s titles

                The Lady in the Lake is a 1943 detective novel by Raymond Chandler featuring the Los Angeles private investigator Philip Marlowe. Notable for its removal of Marlowe from his usual Los Angeles environs for much of the book, the novel’s complicated plot initially deals with the case of a missing woman in a small mountain town some 80 miles (130 km) from the city. The book was written shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor and makes several references to America’s recent involvement in World War II.
                [SNIP]
                Jacques Barzun, who reported of the novel in his A Catalogue of Crime: “The exposition of the situation and character is done with remarkable pace and skill, even for Chandler. This superb tale moves through a maze of puzzles and disclosures to its perfect conclusion. Marlowe makes a greater use of physical clues and ratiocination in this exploit than in any other. It is Chandler’s masterpiece.”
                Wiki Descriptio

                which would be an argument for reading the book if only to hope everybody dies, but a quick [searchengine] suggests it might be a more recent, well-reviewed (as if that were a good sign these days) novel by Laura Lippmann

                “Baltimore in the mid-1960s is the setting of Lady in the Lake, the latest novel from the ever impressive Laura Lippman…Lippman’s book is revelatory, too, in showing the personal and professional costs to others—friends, loved ones, sources, witnesses—of Maddie’s single-minded quest for achievement and recognition.” (Wall Street Journal)

                “The Lady of the Lake” is more than a “weird love letter to Baltimore newspapers” — it is an earnest and beautiful homage to a city and its people. (Washington Post)

                Baltimore in the 1960s is the setting for this historical fiction about a real-life unsolved drowning. In her most ambitious work to date, Lippman (Sunburn, 2018, etc.) tells the story of Maddie Schwartz, an attractive 37-year-old Jewish housewife who abruptly leaves her husband and son to pursue a long-held ambition to be a journalist, and Cleo Sherwood, an African-American cocktail waitress about whom little is known. Sherwood’s body was found in a lake in a city park months after she disappeared, and while no one else seems to care enough to investigate, Maddie becomes obsessed—partly due to certain similarities she perceives between her life and Cleo’s, partly due to her faith in her own detective skills. The story unfolds from Maddie’s point of view as well as that of Cleo’s ghost, who seems to be watching from behind the scenes, commenting acerbically on Maddie’s nosing around like a bull in a china shop after getting a job at one of the city papers. (Kirkus Reviews)

                It’s the Lady in the Lake who opens the story, in fact, and it’s Cleo’s ambivalence about her place in what James Brown called a man’s, man’s, man’s world that sets the tone of this …(Stephen King in the NY Times)

                in which case I got nothing.

            1. 😀 The first time I got a one-star, I bounced up and down in my chair with glee. I wasn’t a “velveteen writer” any more! I had a lousy review! (I was getting nervous that the ‘Zon would ding me as having fake reviews.)

              1. That’s certainly fair.

                I tend to take each negative review as a gut punch initially. After a few days, though, I can look at it and determine if there was anything I can learn from the criticism of not. Sometimes I can, sometimes they’re just idiots.

                1. Me too! Someone hated the first Luna City book! (And someone else two-starred one of the Adelsverein series.) I was honestly rather glad to see that my books weren’t to everyone’s taste, because … well, not every book is to the taste of %100 of the audience. And when it’s all four and five stars, naturally suspicious minds theorize that the author has gone and nagged and harassed all of his or her friends into giving top reviews.

                  1. Intellectually, I agree and a couple of negative reviews aren’t going to hurt anything, especially when positive reviews overpower it.

                    But they’re still a blow to the old ego of someone who still, on some level, is eager to please.

                    You’d think someone in my line of work would know better.

      2. Yes’m, I know. That’s why I said that “you I know I’m safe with”. Hell, I bought Deep Pink so fast I almost forgot to check which Amazon account was logged in. 🙂

        But here’s the thing, MGC is a writer’s blog – I rarely go there because it doesn’t really pertain to me, and it didn’t even occur to me that it’s a source of potentially good authors. (Dur. Stupid me on that one.) My point was, I don’t know beyond offhand comments here or on FB who’s actually writing; even then, I don’t know what name they’re necessarily writing under, if they’re writing stuff I’d like, and so on.

        Understand I’m not looking for a pointer to sources here. I’m pointing out that a significant percentage of the “forced casual readers” like myself will go into Amazon’s indie sections, go “uh…. I’ve got no idea” and run screaming back to Trad. I had to get six recommendations AND see Jason Cordova (whom I bought the eARC for Corruptor from nearly 10 years ago now) publishing with CKP before I’d even start *looking* at the Four Horsemen. And that was AFTER seeing all the 4HU panels at my first LC.

        Indie is currently simply too much to wade through for many of us, so we keep paying the gatekeepers on the assumption that some filter (if you know what’s being filtered for) is better than no filter. Fortunately for me, I have enough of a foot in the indie lists at this point to know when someone in Trad that I read disappears, I can look there.

        1. Try BookBud. It sends daily bargains off of your preferred eBook source & genre (or don’t limit); you can also follow specific authors which will add emails. Usually first book in series, sometimes one off, sometimes older stuff. But allows me to risk a new author. If the book is meh (my meh, may be your “oh wow”), then don’t continue the series. Worth the risk for “free” to $1.99 at most. Then there are the bundles. Sometimes there will be duplicates of some of the first in series books already picked up, but won’t be all of them. Might find a new author there.

        2. Lookup books you’ve liked on Amazon. With the exception of promos here (yes, they work), I’ve not read – let alone purchased – anything not in the “also bought” section of Amazon in ages. You can get stuck in loops, but the occasional exception will broaden the selection.

  29. We’re the people who sneak a book into the pocket of our formal clothes and panic because you can’t figure out how to sneak a book into your wedding dress.

    Ascendance of a Book Worm.

    Gonna cross-post this, because while I couldn’t stand it it’ll appeal to others on Crunchy Roll for free.

  30. “…and wrote a schedule for 2020 which would probably give most people nightmares…”
    Represent! 🙂 Except I don’t have the trad pub background. Not sure if that’s a help or a hindrance, but it does mean I need to get my butt in gear on things like a newsletter and SubscribeStar.
    Of course, when I did it, DH thought I was trying to come up with a day-to-day work schedule and not a publishing schedule. Which means I’ve got one of those, too. Here’s hoping I can keep it up with a toddler in the house. The Young Master is almost 2….

  31. Re current “Best of…” anthologies…I don’t buy them. I skim through a few stories in the bookstore. Then I shrug and put them back.

  32. *raises hand* I’m a story addict myself, but I found what happened as I discovered that most of what was available was … unpalatable … was I drifted heavily into video games (RPGs and VNs end up as pretty good substitutes).

    Recently, I’ve found myself mostly reading web serials in the last few years — translated chinese/japanese/korean novels, pulpy stuff on Royalroad or Scribblehub, or full-on novels-in-progress on places like topwebfiction — mostly because they’re convenient and portable via my phone. In practice, this means I’m reading 20+ stories at the same time, and while they don’t all update on the same day, I’ve got content coming to me daily, generally for free or nominal cost. The 99% of everything is terrible rule applies, but most of them end up being about as good as the stuff I was gobbling up.

    Considering the success of places like Wuxiaworld, Webnovel, Royalroad, etc., there are a lot of readers like me out there and they’ll definitely be a continuing influence on the indie market. It might be worth a post analyzing the dynamics of that and what it means for an indie-author going forward, in light of today’s epiphany.

  33. Best of luck on your publishing strategy Madam Hostess. I look forward to your space opera, Deep pink is in the queue ought to roll around next week or so (4 books in queue currently). I may see if I can addict my spouse to Dyce Dare. She loves cozy mysteries, has been tearing through Christie and Sayers, but the modern stuff she just finds kind of Blah.
    And Yes I used to be a founding member of CRA (Compulsive Readers Anonymous). I still get 1-2 hours in a day between commuting on rail and reading at night somewhere btween 6-8 books a month (I know I’m a piker in this company). As someone else noted computer games (well console) especially RPG (Skyrim) and sandbox (Minecraft, Elite Dangerous) provide some of the same relaxation that decent escapist SciFi/Fantasy does.

    1. I’m still an reading addict & I’m a major picker compared to most on this list, even though I’m retired. To be fair, I’m trying to slow down. I swear when the next Outlander book or JB’s Peace Talks comes out … I. Am. Not. Reading. Them. In. One. Sitting. I’m. Not. Really. I. Will. Not. Just a couple of examples. Pull the same thing with Sarah’s books.

      Too be clear, most of Florida is not swampy with alligators. (hint-> yes, sarcasm)

      When I was working, plus Kid’s sports, scouts, etc. (too involved to read on sidelines), I was limited to fiction reading (I wrote software which = reading/writing by definition) at lunch, or “reading” room breaks, during day, and late before bed at home.

      Retired now, so this blog takes a lot of reading time, but only at home. Vacations. Yes, will have books cued up, but not much reading gets done, & no blog time (no internet).

      1. Too be clear, most of Florida is not swampy with alligators. (hint-> yes, sarcasm)

        It is my understanding that those swamp & alligator free parts are not authentic Florida.

        Like most* Americans, everything I know about Florida comes from Jimmy Buffett and Travis McGee.

        *I keed – most Americans haven’t ever read Travis McGee (the poor fools.)

  34. In science fiction I’ve found this often includes people who think they’re inventing the genre from scratch, or are adamant they’re not science fiction, while writing all the tropes… as if they were brand new and earth shattering (but enough about traditional publishing!), in romance and mystery they often include recent college graduates (I was one once) who think serious must equal “there are no good guys” or “no one is clean.”

    Looking at what I’m mostly writing, I think I’m doing this.

    Against my will.

    Just…this is what shows up.

    Am trying to recognize stuff.

  35. It occurs to me that you could write a single book, then break it up into 50-100K word pieces and sell it as a series. I might try that with the Space Guard yarn I’ve been toying with. Which I need to get off my backside and actually write, instead of playing with plot elements.

    Of course, the day job takes precedence…and the #1 hobby. Which I have ALSO neglected.

    1. That’s what Tolkien essentially did.

      It causes issues, though, as people MUST start from the first book, and can’t get their feet wet with one of the later ones.

      1. Arguably that’s less of a problem now that, if someone finds a series, the first book is only a click away, as opposed to the time when readers could pick up Book 4 in a spinner somewhere and never come across any place where they can get Books 1-3…

      1. Madam Hostess you say “er… it has to have some logical breaking points.” I thank you for adhering to this principal even though it (potentially) reduces your income. Others (I’m look at YOU Mr. Weber… In particular for Safehold but also from time to time in the Honorverse) violate this common courtesy and then have the unmitigated gall to spend years pumping the next one, or worse yet keel over before the final is finished (e.g. Mr Jordan, Feels like possibly Mr. Martin).

        1. When you achieve the level of cultural phenomenon of Mr. Martin’s sprawl, logic is no longer relevant.

          But it is not recommended for beginners. Folk can wall your book and still participate in conversations at the water cooler.

    2. I’m toying with the idea for a work in progress, but first I’m seeing how long it will be. (At the moment, 120,000 — and counting.)

  36. OK, I’ll throw a question out…I’ve got several potential books in the mental hopper. But which one to write?

    1. A history of flight testing, from 1900 to 2020. (I’ve got 40 years in the field)

    2. A history of the RQ-4 Global Hawk UAV program, from 1995 to 2020ish. (I’ve got first-hand stories on that one)

    3. A black powder pistol shooting handbook (I have serious competitive credentials in that area, too).

    4. Space Guard novel! It was supposed to be an ordinary rescue…until the ship disappeared, leaving Ensign Ed Davis stuck in interplanetary space in a two-man capsule with four days’ air.

    5. Hero, Heroine, and Starship. This is my “Silmarillion”…a story I’ve been working on mentally for 40 years or so. It’s the book I think Doc Smith was trying to write with “The Skylark of Space”, but couldn’t make work at the time. Two people. Brilliant, proud…and with half the information needed to crack the Light Barrier and build a starship. THE ship. Cross between Space Opera and Hallmark Romance.

    Inputs elsewhere have been in favor of the Flight Test History, but that was a different crowd.

    1. I’ve an interest in the histories, and have attempted to find the book you mentioned publishing recently. Simply guessing that it would be relevant to my interests.

        1. I’ve found 103, 106, 107, 108, and 109. (Alumni association website.) Even finding out that those exist has been helpful. I guess I can write to the school. I think the worse that they could do is say no.

    2. At a guess, I would recommend the history of the RQ-4 Global Hawk UAV program, given how current developments i world military affairs are trending that seems likely to find an interested audience.

      But f you’re looking to build a long-term audience I suspect the fiction market is more profitable, if only because sequels come more easily.

      1. I wouldn’t read the non-fiction, probably. But it’s actually a pretty big market, isn’t it? Lots of people love non-fiction techy sorts of books. My father in law reads a lot, and most of it is military history.

        I don’t want to assume that my tastes are representative of the general market.

      2. I’d be VERY careful with the RQ-4 one. Folks get very shirty if you manage to stick together several facts that each in and of themselves are unclassified but together in relation to the RQ-4 ARE classified. I’ve heard rumors about things like this being an issue (eg The Jennifer Project, Several books about the Silent Service, The Puzzle palace (about the NSA) ) and delaying publication or having things pulled.

        I do like the sound of the Skylark of space like one. As much as I love E. E. “Doc” Smiths’s stuff it’s now massively dated both socially and science wise and something New in that vein could be fun.

    3. One advantage of indie: There’s a market for just about anything.

      The first three seem quite niche – only the first might interest me. The second is very tightly focused; I don’t even know what an RQ-4 Global Hawk is, so I wouldn’t be tempted unless the book had a more vague title and an interesting cover. The third just doesn’t interest me (why would anyone shoot black powder, these days? – perhaps that’s what is interesting about it? “Black Powder at the Dawn of the 21st Century” as a title? Maybe “18/21 – how 18th century tech survives in the 21st century” – we’re still building trains, after all).

      The last two sound as if they would have a larger market. You’ve already got the blurb for number 4 and the cover seems fairly simple, yet potentially gripping. Number 5 sounds interesting. I’d at least KU either one if it showed up in a promo.

      FWIW

      1. RQ-4 Global Hawk is a large military UAV. Fixed wing.

        I have several reasons to find it interesting.

        One of the instruments it carries is a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), a fancy radar that can take pictures. You might say, the Air Force has the E3 AWACS, and the Navy has the sister E2, so what do they need another radar platform for? E3 and E2 track targets in the air, and provide various related services. Global Hawk instead ‘takes pictures’ of the ground. Though, compared to the pictures a camera would take with light, SAR pictures differ in some way I don’t really understand.

        As history, it is pretty cutting edge where aviation engineering is concerned. Flight automation is a fairly active research topic right now, and such a personal perspective could provide valuable insight. Militarily, if you listed fifty recent developments that will likely be important in future wars, probably at least one of them could be shown by the Global Hawk.

  37. When I was in middle grades and high school, I was a voracious reader, the sort that get asked not to participate in the summer reading club this year so someone else can win. I used to love the Reading project in 4H because I could easily fulfill the project requirements multiple times over. My biggest problem was getting around to logging my books — many times it’d be the day to take them back to the library and I’d never logged them, so I’d try to scribble everything down really fast so I wouldn’t forget.

    I remember scouring our tiny public library and equally tiny school library for any science fiction or fantasy book I hadn’t read. I was so desperate that I read a number of books that, in retrospect, were clunkers that I probably shouldn’t have wasted my time with. I still remember my delight when we moved and the library in the new town had three whole bookcases devoted entirely to sf and fantasy — so many choices that I never even read most of them.

    These days I have stacks of books I want to read but never have gotten around to, and I had to stop picking up free and 99-cent books for the Kindle because I realized I was never going to read all them. Especially when they were giving out multi-book sets for free and they were just piling up.

    A lot of it is just plain not having the time any more. Even when I’m not running from one convention to another for the endless cycle of set up, sell, tear down, I’ve got family responsibilities and my various websites keeping me busy. So my reading has gone way down, although this year I’ve read a lot — albeit at the expense of productivity on other fronts.

    1. End of 9th grade (middle school) got called to Library. The librarians pitched in an got me a Norton paperback because of all the reading I did.

      Yes. My TBR libraries on the Nook is at 120. I’ve gotten really picky on the new free / $.99 I’m getting until I get through these. Don’t know how many I have marked on the purchasing book marks. Some of them are books I want to read but won’t buy at new released prices. Some are “okay first book in series was better than okay, but not OMG need the rest already available now”. The latter are books that may/may not get picked up later.

      1. We had to forbid #1 son from joining the reading challenge in elementary school which gave a free pizza per 50 pages. So, he was eating more pizza than was good for any human being.

  38. I don’t know if I’ve ever qualified as a super reader. Certainly avid reader applies, but a book a day for short stretches is about my max. Of course work or school or doing other fun stuff has always cut into reading time. Maybe next year when I quit driving for a living I’ll have more time to read. Meanwhile several of the writers I follow have been found via this community. It’s kind of circular since my current reading habits got started from getting turned on to Larry Coriea via a gunblog based podcast called “The Vicious Circle”. Some of those writers that I now follow were part of that gunblog crowd before they took up writing.

  39. I barely noticed the change in publishing. I’d ALWAYS haunted used book stores, and read old books. My folks regularly went to ‘friends of the library’ sales, and took me with them. National Guard armories full of tables full of books, cheap.

    That’s how I ran into NO. 9,OR THE MINDSWEEPERS, and REPORT FROM PRACTICALLY NOWHERE, and THE YEARS WITH ROSS, and WESTWARD HA!, and AFTERNOON IN AN ATTIC, and YOU’RE STEPPING ON MY CLOAK AND DAGGER.

    90% of everything ever published is drivel. The only way a compulsive reader can keep from going mad is to skim the cream off the ages. Never mind what they claim is a ‘bestseller’ this week. If it’s any good it will still be here in a decade.

    1. Never mind what they claim is a ‘bestseller’ this week.

      The oly reason for reading the Hot Book of the Moment is so you can discuss it with others. If, as with many introverts, your idea of Hell is talking about books when you could be reading … well, you’ve scant cause to read the HBotM, have you?

      1. The oly reason for reading …

        only, O N L Y, dang it. The “N” key on this laptop is getting increasingly resistant to pressure.

  40. I have a simple question that will possible change my buying habits. Do authors get paid for the KU books that I “borrow”? Do they get paid the same as if I buy them? How about Baen vs Amazon? I seem to have the ability to support favorite authors and I don’t want to cheap out on them.

        1. Are you the Bob and Nikki Jerry Boyd? If so, I’m loving that. Number six is in the Kindle waiting for me. If not, well, I love it, anyway.

          1. Yessir, that’s me. Crossed 50,000 words on the seventh one today. Words are flowing better now that the holidays are over.

    1. Authors who put books in the Kindle library can access a report that tells them how many pages have been read by library subscribers, and which day the reading occurred. See my comment above about my novel having exactly one page read in the Kindle library.

      Amazon then provides a payout for each page read. Without that, authors wouldn’t put their books in the library.

      Though IIRC, the author only gets paid the first time the reader in question reads each page.

  41. What have I have been telling you for the last couple years?
    People remember the first thing you tell them and the last thing a little better. The middle not so much.
    1. Shorts don’t make any money.
    2. Full size series books.
    3. Shorts don’t make any money.

  42. Some dude should do a study on how many readers are around who don’t like e-books and would buy printed copies IF/WHEN. THEY. ARE . AVAILABLE.
    A friend of mine has a somewhat successful SF series and uses some kind of print-on-demand program so that when he gets an order for one of his books he can get it printed and shipped pretty quick. Costs about $15.00 and is sized close to trade-paperback.

    1. We do have a study. about 1% of readers.
      I.e. all of us get yelled at to get our ebooks in print. We do. We sell a couple copies.
      it’s not just me, it’s everyone, including a a medium press whose books we see.
      So, no. There isn’t a great number of buyers waiting for paper, who buy on Amazon/online.
      It’s nice to have them, mostly as advertising and to look “real” but the sales? negligible.

    2. I’m one of them, and therefore always put mine into dead tree editions.

      And there was the day that I sold ten dead tree editions of The Lion and the Library.

  43. for the record I was so desperate for reading material at the overseas embassies I serviced that I took up Nora Roberts/J.D. Rob because she was the best(?least bad?) that was there…
    Eventually, when I moved from my Florida home of record after retiring, I filled my four-party dumpster four times with boxes of stuck together paperbacks. Florida is hell on attic-stored books.

    1. When audio books were scarce that’s what I defaulted to borrowing from the library, to read while I was working on the houses (as in painting, laying down flooring, etc.)

  44. I am one of those compulsive readers. That is what I call someone who MUST read. One of my sons who was not a compulsive reader once said to me, “Mom, do you know Geoff reads everything he sees?” And I said, “Don’t you?” That non compulsive reader is now, and has been a writer for his living for many years.
    Anyway, I now read ebooks almost exclusively because at 83 the eyes are not good and you can enlarge the print, darken the background and make reading more comfortable.
    And bless their hearts, I read a lot of those Freebooksy new writers because I don’t have to read to the end if I don’t want to. (I’ve trained myself to quit if it isn’t good, that wasn’t easy.) I get a kick out of the ones who have good stories, usually cozy mysteries, but are really unlettered in so much. They use words that homonyms or idioms in the wrong place and meanings, phrases they do not understand. Education is really bad. I have wondered at times if I should email them and let them know the meanings of what they are writing. What is you thought on that?
    I do buy books from my favorites, and I do subscribe to Kindle Unlimited.
    Unfortunately, I haven’t found much but fiction on Kindle U, and I do love good non-fiction. We are a bookish family, we like to learn new things. I also subscribe to two different libraries to borrow their ebooks, but again, mostly those are fiction.
    I do spend quite a lot of time in doctors offices and see people reading books on their devices every where I’ve waited.
    So, go for it, do what you gotta do. You’re a good one.
    Ruth H aka see below.
    Oh, PS, I also am working to keep the world safe for my grandchildren and five great grandchildren, whether some like my politics or not. Mama’ knows best.

  45. I’ve been stuck on public transit, in places where I didn’t get any signal, and my only defense was to read or start ripping out throats with my teeth.

    Very quickly, I learned that dictum of Robert Henlein-that you’re competing with somebody’s beer money for the stories you write. And, GOD, there were so many authors that weren’t on the Baen imprint that I would pay for a can of PBR over reading their books. (COUGHJohn ScalziCOUGH)

    I don’t want “award winning” stories. I don’t want stories that the New York Times thought was good. I want well-written stories, that I can read, that I can enjoy. They have action, excitement, fun, great descriptions, and take me to other places and other times. And, tell me accurately these tales.

    (Bonus points for yuri harem tales, big explosions, awesome cleavage, wonderfully consensual kink, and beautiful outfits. And nifty guns.)

    I want good stories for 2020. I hope the stuff that I’m writing is good.

    1. Superhero harem subgenre sounds like it’s right up your alley. I suspect there’s at least a hundred books, of widely varying quality, out in that one at the moment

  46. You are most decidedly not the only story addict in the country, Sarah! I consume an average of one novel a day during the workweek, sometimes twice that on weekends, and that’s in addition to keeping up in my field (data engineering for the cloud, if it matters). I have read every story of yours Baen published, and would happily consume your work via whatever sales venue you find most advantageous.

    Meantime, thanks for a delightful batch of good stories!

    Regards,

    Don

  47. WRT the e-book versus hard copy argument, I find myself tending more and more toward e-books. Mostly because I’m running out of bookcase space…and as I write this, I’m sitting in front of about 20 feet worth of floor-to-ceiling bookcases. Full. Plus the fiction, which is upstairs. And the books I haven’t filed, which are next to the bed.

    Not to mention that sometimes, Amazon will put the Kindle versions on sale. I’ve picked up books that normally cost $60 for a third of that. Which is good for my budget.

  48. And here I’d never really run into anyone other than my spouse who read 3 books a week, given the opportunity. My reading isn’t as consistent as it once was due to the real world impinging (much more time getting ducks in a row for unpleasantness, less time for recreation), but that rate hasn’t changed absent the obstacles.

    We’re also people who moved to used books in the late 90’s/early 00’s, as well.

  49. story addicts

    Raises hand, guilty, or is that GUILTY. I can not not read. I resisted for years putting the Nook App on my phone. Already have it on computer, so I can download files to put in storage in Calibre. Plus the main reading venue on Samsug 8″ (don’t remember what version, have had it awhile). Started on a Simple Nook (second version), which still is working. Sister has it without purchase ability (no password) so she can read some of the authors we share. She has Kindle Unlimited, which her daughters share the password. They don’t re-read so not owning books is fine for them (for the most part). Me I do. Now granted having gone ebook I don’t re-read most the books I buy. But there are some I do, even if I have a huge TBR “pile”.

    All I can say regarding finding new authors is BookBud. It helped me find Sarah, which lead me here.

    Off topic. Late reading blog today. Spent 5 hours at the emergency veterinarian clinic today. Everything is fine. Pup has an infection & was in screaming pain (ladies think UI but not quite). Something that could have waited, but couldn’t wait til regular clinic opened & we got an appointment (after the holidays, it’d be next week). Clinic today was slammed, busy when we got there, & got worse. As bad as she was, she wasn’t critical, just uncomfortable. OTOH wasn’t lacking anything to read while waiting … (I’d have gone nuts.)

  50. I’m home now, but while staying “for observation” (etc.) I went through three or four short-ish stories on the Kindle app, then a collection of such at the hotel, and started Deep Pink (nearly half-way through).

  51. I don’t know about that duality. I’m certainly not in the “one-or-two-books-a-year” category; I read more than that in a normal week. But knowing that a book is part of a series weighs heavily against my reading it, especially if the first book is announced as “#1 of [some series title or other].” I see those on Amazon and just skip over them without looking, nearly always. I’m not seeing that I exactly fit either of the categories you discuss. . . .

    1. I’ve avoided some things due to size of the series. If it’s book one of… and there’s 57 more? Do I expect I’ll like it THAT much? And sometimes I’ve even avoided trilogies, due to the size of the things. Yet others were, “Whaddayamean there’s only 40 of these?!” (Discworld…)

      1. I think for me there’s a difference between a book that shares a setting with other books that thus make up a series, and a book that is one stage in an ongoing plotline where you are coming in in the middle of the narrative. Having the series be numbered tends to suggest the latter, which implies that if I read the first book I won’t get the whole story, and if I read a later book I won’t understand what’s been happening. Either of those is a disincentive, but especially the first—why read a book if I know I’m not going to know how things came out without buying a dozen different books?

        With Discworld, on the other hand, there isn’t really an overall plot; the “series” falls into four main “subseries,” the Rincewind, Vimes, Weatherwax, and Death/Sto Helit books, and those don’t have to be read in order. And while there’s some timeline in the Vorkosigan books, you can start in the middle and make sense of them.

        So I would rather read either an announced three-book series, or a book in a loosely connected group without a unified plot, then a continuing story with a large number of installments.

        1. In the instance of the latter situation, I blame Tolkein. Modern authors and publishers seem to think a single tale told across n volumes is a series when it is, i fact, reader abuse. Each book in a series ought be a compleate story in itself, enriched by knowledge of other entries i the series and possibly, possibly advancing a meta-narrative, such as Doc Smith’s Lensmen books, Lewis’ Perelandra, or the Dresden Files.

          If I cannot pick up book six of a ten-book series and comprehend it, or read book one and find a satisfactory conclusion, the author or publisher are not likely to get my dollars. I already have far more to read than I am likely to achieve by the end of my days. (In my mind I wear a T-shirt inscribed: “I don’t want to live forever, I just want to live long enough to catch up on my reading.”)

          1. Oh, nonsense. Tolkien submitted ONE manuscript for one book. The publisher decided it had to be published as three volumes. And in any case it was a series planned to be complete at the end of what became the third volume; it wasn’t a vast open-ended chain of books with a continuing plot. For examples of that sort of thing, look at Weber, or Martin, or Jordan, or Goodkind.

            1. To clarify: I blame the success of Tolkein’s work, so the onus falls upon publishers for widening that loophole.

              Arguably, Tolkein’s trilogy consists of three books, just not the divisions as published: The Journey To Rivendale and What Transpired There, The Adventure of the Fellowship, The Scouring of the Shire.

              1. You can still have a story structure in a trilogy. Much past that and you hit Aristotle’s observation that a story has to be perceivable as a whole.

                1. A trilogy can easily conform to the natural structure of a plot-driven story: exposition, complication, resolution. Anything longer often looks more like picaresque: incident, incident, incident, incident, incident, . . .

                    1. While it isn’t the point you were making, it works the first way, too– if you’ve got a really long story to tell, episodes where you advance that plot but the main point of the episode is something else, and if you read half of them you’ll still get the over-all point of the big story.

                      Part of why I got hooked on DS9 was that they did plot arcs and managed to make them work.

                    2. I used to “know” when & where that television trend started — each* episode complete in itself but also advancing (or filling in) a longer seasonal arc. Can’t know recall, much to my annoyance. Certainly it was common in the Oughts, and there are Nineties shows, such as DS9 and B5 employing the principle.

                      The practice was certainly present in the animated DC series of the early Nineties, in anime of that era and in comic books well before then (e.g., Chris Claremont’s run on the Uncanny X-Men. Soap operas were employing long-form story-telling since their beginning, although there is reason to question whether any single episode was a story complete in itself.

                      The antecedents might be located in the adventure newspaper strips of the Thirties, such as Caniff’s Terry and the Pirates, Segar’s Thimble Theatre (with Popeye) and Crane’s Wash Tubbs and Captain Easy.

                      It probably goes back much further and arguably includes The 1,001 Nights. The surprising thing may be that it took so long for television to incorporate it.

                      *with an occasional two-parter

                    3. in SF TV, B5 did that first. DS9 was just kind of meandering through a story until it wsa given a competing example.

                    4. That seems to accord with my recollection. Of course, J. Michael Straczynski conceived Babylon 5 as a five season arc … According to his Wiki bio, Straczynski started his career at Filmation, writing such Eoghties classics as He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and She-Ra: Princess of Power. In mid-decade he attempted to develop an Elfquest adaptation, a clear recognition of the application of season-long story arc.

                      Subsequently, Straczynski was “offered the position of story editor on the syndicated live-action science fiction series Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future. Straczynski constructed a season long arc with lasting character changes and wrote a third of the scripts himself”

                      I am not aware of any prior log arc television, but that doesn’t amount to much.

                    5. The very first episode was a hand-over from TNG, and they kept the two somewhat connected.

                      The storyline did step up eventually– to the point where you couldn’t miss three episodes and have a clue what was going on (Wait, why is Nog wearing a Starfleet uniform?!?) which I found mildly annoying– but that’s as much because things did develop as anything else.

                    6. Why was Kira carrying O’Brian’s baby? That’s the one that threw me. And we’d watched every episode that was aired in our area.

                    7. Because she and Mrs Obrien were in a really bad crash, and Bashir had to move the kid to save his life– then it was too dangerous to switch him back.

                      (IRL, it’s because the actress got pregnant. By the actor who plays Bashir. Which is why the cut after she pointed at her stomach and yelled “this is your fault!” was cut so abruptly after she spoke– folks were having trouble keeping a straight face.)

                    8. A lot of the really good 90s cartoons did the story-arcs– not just for inside the cartoons, either, but between them. I just ordered the Superman cartoon because we finished up Batman, and one of the episodes was a crossover that worked fine if you had only the vaguest idea about Superman and Supergirl and all, but was really rewarding if you remembered the other cartoon series.

                      Yes, we are introducing our kids to The Classics. 😉

                    9. Most of the SF/F shows on the CW network seem to be employing self-contained episodes within a season story arc. Although lately I’ve given up watching most of them as the progressive preaching got to be too nauseating for me to stand.

  52. Hi. My name is (mumble) and I freely admit I am a book addict. I have two Kindle Fires (one older, one newer) plus the Kindle app on my phone and desktop computer. I feed my habit from Overdrive on my local library and KULL, plus re-reads of hard-copy books we own, from the days when we could afford to actually buy books.

    A couple of years ago I created a Book Log spreadsheet to keep track of what I had been reading when and by whom. After logging 220 books for 2018, last January I thought it might be fun to try to read 300 books in a year. I’m pleased to say that I leisurely finished the third book of a well-loved trilogy at 22:30 on December 31, to make the goal. (No, I am not trying that again this year!)

    I agree about the pleasure of finding whole series of ebooks by indie authors. Unlike the library, where one may have to wait weeks for a digital volume to become available, I can run thru a KU series as fast as I can read them. Also, when a book is offered for free, but is also on KU, I will borrow the latter so the author gets paid something.

    “Deep Pink” is on the Kindle waiting, and I hope there are more Dyce Dare stories coming! Great post. 😉

    HAPPY NEW YEAR!

  53. I’m hoping to finish one book and we miiiight start an indie comic by the end of the year as well

  54. When I returned to The States from Kwajalein, I had 1,000 pounds of authorized shipping (luckily I was grandfathered from a prior contract; current contractees only got 350 pounds). 920 of them were books

  55. I realize this is off center but:
    …it has been proven extensively and conclusively that paper recycling and re-processing is more injurious to the environment than MAKING paper.

    What???

    1. One problem is the large amount of bleach needed to get the old stuff back up to the current standards, and then other chemicals needed to neutralize the paper to library and archive standards (for hardbacks and some tradebacks.) There are other things as well.

      1. I think recycling to print paper and recycling into cardboard probably need to be treated separately.

    2. Aluminum cans are the only thing that are economically viable to recycle, given the difficulty of getting refined aluminum from bauxite ore. This is why Alcoa, the biggest aluminum producer, finds it economical to ship all the their bauxite from all over the world to Iceland, use the extremely cheap electricity (thanks to Iceland’s geothermal plants) to refine it, and then ship it back out.

      1. And steel too, methinks.

        Glass should be as the difference in energy to melt glass from raw materials as oppose to melting ground glass is huge, but it isn’t for reasons that escape me at present. I think cleanliness and control of the inputs.

        1. Back before they went unreliable on ‘Green’ issues, National Geographic did a special issue on recycling, with emphasis on what is or is not worth the trouble.

          According to that issue, the problem with glass is the effort that has to go into sorting colors, if you don’t want all your recycled glass to be a kind of muddy brown.

          1. Right colored glass is a pain in recycling. And Window/ standard “Clear” glass isn’t clear. If you have truly clear glass then lead or other materials have been added to make it so and that also causes issues. Though making new glass has it’s own issues as sand that is not contaminated with assorted metals (Iron being the WORST) is in short supply in the real world.

    3. A long time ago a friend of mine retired and bought a tree farm in the South. He had 40 acres of sugar pine and every year one of the paper companies clear-cut 10 acres (and replanted) for wood pulp to make paper. Environmentally friendly and paid well.

        1. Oregon has some Poplar Tree farms too. Farmers lease the land to the paper companies, then just get paid. Ditto for cell towers. Equivalent of mineral rights other places, but the rights are tied to the land and can’t be sold separately.

          Not sure if Aunt & Uncle out of Bend (they have 40 acres) have poplar or pine planted.

          Christmas Tree farms used to be another short term lease to harvest option VS growing something the farmers have to work with. But that has dropped off some. Christmas Tree farming is still huge locally, a lot of trees get shipped out.

  56. Well, I’m another compulsive reader. My usual count is 3 or 4 books a week, even after spending far too much time on the internet. So please peed up the writing, all of you! Though I do have more reading time after giving up writing non-fiction because the spark died when my wife died. So I periodically dig into an alternative world novel that has about 1 1/2 chapters written It’s set in an England where the Channel never opened around Dover, about 500-600 AD, with Brits in the greenwood, Saxons stll mostly on the coast, Romans hanging around after refusing to go back to Rome, Picts, and ‘fairies’ (psionics?) as well as weird unknown beasts . Now tell me, is it urban fantasy or high fantasy or what?

  57. Those usually young (and some not-so-young), indie authors making a living within a year all seem to fill what I would call the pulp fiction market as you so rightly observe. Short, or fairly short, serial stories in a permanent setting with a core group of fairly permanent characters. The Tarzan, Pellucidar, and John Carter of Mars stories of ERB, Doc Savage series, and for the younger crowd, John Norman’s Gor series and the Mack Bolan series and spinoffs. Fast writing, run it through the spelling and grammar checker, hand off to human first readers, make the edits if appropriate and publish.

    I keep looking at Dyce, and wondering if she could be serialized like, “Murder She Wrote” (264 episodes), which ought to buy an awful lot of kitty litter. Thing is, there’s a lot of CSI and other whodunits on TV and I wonder what depressive effect that might be having on the book market for that genre?

    I’ve read a lot of indie in the past couple of years; and seen some really good stuff, and some really execrable with major cut and paste errors, failure to check grammar and spelling, even horrible tense changes in a single paragraph for page after page. Stuff that makes me wonder if there’s a formal niche for indie authors to submit for editing stuff before they dump it into KULL, or for the hyper-dedicated Grammar Nazis to take a story and mark it up and send back to the author the errors their first readers missed.

    And yes, I remember when paperbacks cost less than a dollar, and the steady rise and subsequent hockey stick jump to virtual unaffordability. “You want me to pay WHAT for a paperback? For that much I may as well get it in dragon skin between mithril plates.”

    3 books a month? More like 3 a week. Seriously, I’m reading more stories per day than drinking beers nowadays. Here’s to you, RAH, and those of similar literary ilk!

    1. Thing is, there’s a lot of CSI and other whodunits on TV and I wonder what depressive effect that might be having on the book market for that genre?

      As much as the literary types will complain, I find pulp series mysteries are much less formulaic than CSI type shows.

      Also, TV cannot go a season without the leftists having their say. NCIS is one of the best resisters, but even it has to bow to PC now and then.

      Indie authors don’t.

      I don’t have cable anymore, and I suspect that is typical in the indie market, and I’d love a Dyce series that full. As much as I love Dyce I might even enjoy a Quincy/Crossing Jordan type, with more forensic crunch like CSI more.

    2. Stuff that makes me wonder if there’s a formal niche for indie authors to submit for editing stuff before they dump it

      You’re sweet. Stuff like that makes me wonder whether there is not a plot by Big Pub to dump toxic waste into the Indie stream and drive off the consumers.

      Then I recall the denizens of Academic Literature departments who denounce standards as privileging traditional oppressor classes and wonder what Big Pub could do that would be worse than academics promote.

      1. To be fair, people are way harder on indie than trad pub. I have no idea why. It’s reached crazy levels.
        One of the reviews for Deep Pink says “There are only two typos so it’s fairly clean.”
        a) this is not true. Amazon checks for typos. There are two INTENTIONALLY misspelled words, one of them being Methed up. b) CAN YOU IMAGINE ANYONE AT ALL leaving that review on a trad book? because it would be all of them. I can’t remember when I last read a book published by any house that didn’t have AT LEAST two typos.

        I think it’s some form of insanity, honest “This book is indie. I must stay alert for any misspellings or potential grammar errors!”

        1. I almost never see spelling issues mentioned on trad pub books, but indie? All the time, even when it’s practically non-existent.

          Sent from Mail for Windows 10

          1. Perhaps readers have hope that Indie authors will make an effort to clean up their typing but have lost all hope of Trad Pub heeding their complaints?

        2. “All Methed Up”, a new Adult Xanth novel by Piers Anthony; or a tribute novel to Robert Jordan’s Myth series? (Should be titled “All Mythed Up” instead.)

        3. Sarah, part of it is something that comes out of IT all the time: “It’s not like you have to change more than a couple lines of electronic characters (code) and then just redeploy.”

          I’ve made a career out of patiently explaining that “it’s not just a couple of lines”: Testing for unintended consequences, making sure it doesn’t have to be reformatted for display of the field, etc.

          1. “It’s not like you have to change more than a couple lines of electronic characters (code) and then just redeploy.”

            “it’s not just a couple of lines”: Testing for unintended consequences, making sure it doesn’t have to be reformatted for display of the field, etc.

            Not to mention that sometimes just the redeploying can be a PIA.

  58. Goodreads says I’m about 300/year (it was way off for 2019; I just set a bunch of stuff to ‘read’ status, which is not automagic when authors throw in tons of ignorable stuff after the story ends, so I’ve got 75 in 2020, already).

    “fast series” matches my impression of indie and it certainly matches my reading experience.

    On the “get something out” front, I don’t mind novellas or a couple of short stories thrown into the mix as long as they are priced accordingly. Pam Uphoff does this well with her Wine of the Gods series. Some of my favorites are the novellas (which I think mostly write themselves out of scenes cut from the novels), but they come AFTER we start to care about the characters. I’m not a fan of short stories (they’re SHORT), but Super Lamb Banana was great – very nearly Nine Billion Names of God great.

  59. A day without reading is like a supernova.

    I know they exist, but I don’t have personal experience with either.

  60. I usually avoid buying more Kindle books because I don’t particularly like the Kindle app, but I went ahead and bought it anyway and reinstalled the app on my phone. Noticed I have a half dozen other books I’ve purchased and haven’t read on Kindle. I suppose I’ll have to work my way through all of them.

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