Plagiarism Happens

“Plagiarism is an academic crime.  It is punishable by academic death.” – Man of the House – Tommy Lee Jones

In school, we all know what happens if we get caught plagiarizing.  It truly is an academic crime, punishable by academic death.  Or it was when I went to school, I don’t know how it works these days… I’m guessing since they now have programs to check for plagiarism, it hasn’t gotten better and the penalties are still steep.

That’s all well and good, but what happens when an author plagiarizes another author?  We all sorta know about the Janet Dailey/Nora Roberts case.  Janet Dailey, a successful romance writer was sued by Roberts because she plagiarized several of Roberts’ novels and claimed them as her own.  Roberts won.  It was a huge scandal.  Eventually, Dailey was able to reclaim some of her reputation before she died.

For the vast majority of authors out there, self publishing/independent publishing has been a huge thing.  We are no longer bound into contracts we don’t like the terms of.  We can make as much money as a traditionally published author.  We are able to publish as fast as our brains and fingers will allow.  It’s been amazing.

However, there are always unscrupulous people out there.  These people are plagiarizers.  They steal our words and sell them as their own.  It happens to traditionals, it happens to indies.  They are simply trying to cash in on what they see as a get rich quick scheme.

The problem is, authors can’t read every book ever published in an attempt to check this stuff.  We have to rely on algorithms and readers to find it.  Once it’s found, we authors then have to appeal to the better nature of ebook retailers to get the offending book removed.  For the most part, retailers are willing to do it, but we have to prove the plagiarism to them.

And the bastards that did it?  They don’t care… Truth be told, they are screwing over the author and the reader.  The reader gets to pay for a book twice (that they’ve already read) and the author loses sales that should have gone to them.  That account gets banned and they just set up a new one with new information and start all over again.

As readers, we have to be aware of this problem.  We are the frontline of defense.  We are the ones who will say “Hey, wait a second, this book sounds awfully familiar to this other book.”  Then we will investigate and maybe tell the author, if the author is approachable or the retailer, whatever.  The trick to finding the real author, is the publication date.  You can’t plagiarize a book that hasn’t been published yet, unless you’re an editor or beta reader and that’s a whole new level of wrong…

Writing Update

Your not so regular writing update from me.

  • Flawless Dreams – I am elbow deep in motives, means, opportunity, blood, gore, bones, and everything else that makes up a Dreams novel.  I did have to call in reinforcements though.  I had gotten stuck because of a particular scene and for four months I had been trying to write it and only gotten a single sentence out.  So, another author friend of mine – C.Patt – was nice enough to write what I needed her to write so that I could go back to the fun stuff.  It went well enough that I worked until 3 am last night and got 5 chapters added.  I suspect it will go to the editor around the 20th, maybe a little sooner.
  • Legacies Awakened – It has the first four chapters.  They are good and do not need to be deleted like previous incarnations of the story.
  • Movement in the Shadows – A few stories exist in this collection now.
  • Ritual Dreams – Not surprisingly, when I start to really work on a Dreams novel, other stuff in Dreams novels start to fall into place.  The killer for Ritual has been officially fleshed out.
  • ?? Reality – And the next Reality book is in progress.
  • ??? Dreams – And a new killer started fleshing itself out in Flawless that I have a feeling will be getting his own book.

 

The Adult Tantrum

Nothing is more chilling than the Adult Tantrum.  Or embarrassing if it happens in public.  Most of the people in my life are pretty good at avoiding it, but every once in awhile, one will have a meltdown.  It can happen anywhere without warning and sometimes without provocation.

Last week, someone in my life had an adult tantrum.  It was loud. messy, and full of words I won’t repeat.  It reminded me to be nice to customer service agents.  After all, it isn’t their fault when something glitches in a system.

Even the subdued tantrum can leave a mark on those around the tantrum thrower.  It’s amazing how it works.  For example, my doctor put me on a shit ton of gabapentin for my leg pain until I can get in and get nerve blocker injections again.  I’m taking 900mgs a day and it’s spread out a little.  I find if I take 300mgs during the day and 600mgs at night, the pain is better controlled than if I do all 900mgs at night.

But that 300mgs leaves me a little off.  I feel disconnected and flaky for about 2 hours or so – gabapentin does not have a sedation effect on me at this dosage, but it sure makes me sleepy when I take 600mgs.  I had hoped to get by with less of the gabapentin, but I can’t.  Dart league has a charity tournament coming up.  I have to run it and that’s fine.  I never complain about running a tournament for charity.

However, the chairs are just as hard on me as the physical activity.  So, I decided to bring my own chair.  Seems like a great idea.  I warned my help about the side effects of the gabapentin and she said no problem, we’ll work through it together.  Great.  It will go off without a hitch…  But my husband doesn’t always understand.

And I get it.  Until I started dealing with nerve pain, I would never have imagined that someone could walk 30 feet and suddenly start to feel like their legs are being broken.  However, when I told him I couldn’t get injections until the 24th (2 days after the charity tournament I’m running) he was less than thrilled.

He had a subdued tantrum; a little eye rolling, a snide comment, and a refusal to make eye contact with me for a few minutes.  Then he acted like he was mad for about 30 minutes.  Normally, I would have brushed it off.  This time it bothered me.  I wanted to say a few snippy things back, but I knew that wouldn’t go over well.  I hate that my body betrayed me and let this happen.  Sometimes, it causes depression and not just when I’m in pain.  There is absolutely nothing I could have done to prevent it.

That subdued tantrum made me feel like I was a bad person.  As if I had done something wrong.  It was actually worse than the full tantrum I had witnessed earlier in the week.

It’s astounding that such a little thing can make someone else feel awful.  But it does.  Just something to keep in mind.

The Power of Amazing

I buy Jamberry, LuLaRoe, and Thirty-One.  Mostly because I love their stuff… but also because having a consultant that takes the time to deal with makes me feel amazing!  First, let me dispel a few myths…

  • It’s not a pyramid scheme.  Yes, you get people to sign up under you and you do take a percentage of what they make, but you don’t have to have anyone under you to make money and you aren’t being paid the initial investment fee of everyone under you.
  • The percentage taken by senior consultants from their junior consultants isn’t that much.
  • When you buy from a consultant’s stock, they keep any profit (usually about 30%).  If you buy from your consultant through their webstore, they make about 30%.
  • Most traditionally published authors give 80% or more of their sales to their publishers, advertisers, and agents…
  • Being a consultant is not just about pushing sales… It requires them to listen to their customers.

Ok, so that’s out of the way.  Let’s talk about the interaction that I get from my consultants.  My consultants ensure a few things happen without me asking:

  • They keep me update on new items or patterns.
  • They keep me update on specials and sales.
  • They keep me in the loop when something new is happening.

For me specifically, I need help when I shop.  I’m not a girly-girl and I can’t distinguish hues of colors.  This means anything with a pattern could essentially be a disaster and not at all what I think it is.  This is where my consultant steps in.  I can ask things like is that “purple or blue?” and “what exactly is that pattern because I’m not seeing it?”.

Furthermore, I can do this without anyone sighing at me or rolling their eyes.  Believe it or not, saleswomen in stores can get a little testy about this kind of crap.  I always try to shop with a friend, but sometimes a friend isn’t available.  I once went looking for black blouse.  I found one, it was on a rack full of colored blouses.  I asked the saleswoman just to be sure.  She confirmed it was black.  Got home, it was blue and absolutely did not go with my red and black skirt suit.  Manicurist are also not always the friendliest people on the planet.  I once asked for a manicure in purple, couldn’t tell what it was as she was applying it, but she told me it was purple… Dark red.  She just thought it would look better on me than purple and since I couldn’t really tell the color, she just went with it.

Finally, I like supporting women in business.  It sounds cliche, but I do.  I relate to them.  I technically own my own publishing house.  Knowing that I am helping other women who own their own businesses, makes me feel amazing.  Some of my consultants are stay at home moms.  Some are just trying to make some extra money.  All of them have the same goal: bettering their lives.

I admit that I have my dream job.  I get to sit around in my pajamas (or LuLaRoe leggings) and write books.  Being able to help my consultants achieve their dreams is a huge bonus.  Plus, whether it’s Amy, Trista, Sam, or Madison, I know exactly who I’m helping… They aren’t just women, they are my friends.

That is the power of amazing.

 

Don’t Panic, But Be Aware.

Most of us lead what would be considered low risk lifestyles; we don’t invite strangers to our homes a few minutes after meeting them, we don’t shoot up drugs in flop houses, and we aren’t turning tricks in some dark alley or parking lot.  In other words, our chances are considered pretty low of being the victim of a violent crime.  However, low risk doesn’t mean no risk.

 

I grew up in the era of Stranger Danger.  In other words, I was taught that the man in the van with the lost puppy is probably a serial killer or at the very least, wants to shoot dirty pictures of me because he’s a pedophile.   With the internet came new warnings: You don’t know who is really on the other side of the screen.

The dangers of the internet an strangers are real, but somewhat exaggerated.  It’s the modern version of Stranger Danger.  Internet predators do exist in all forms and they are monsters in human skin.  They maim, rape, kill, molest, and do other unspeakable things, but they really aren’t the biggest concern.

I will point out that serial killers do tend to kill strangers, so we’ll consider that a bonus of those warnings, but it’s not a hard and fast rule and it doesn’t mean our neighbor isn’t one, it just means there is less of a chance that our serial killing neighbor is going to chop us up in and eat us for dinner.  That would be high risk for a serial killer. Back to the point.

That means Stranger Danger is really more about warnings regarding serial killers and serial rapists… which completely makes sense.  It started in the 1960s, when serial killers were creating a disturbing trend in the world; they were on the rise.  By the 1980s and 1990s, it wasn’t really a disturbing increase anymore, it had leveled off.

However, teaching Stranger Danger never went away and it seriously downplayed where all of us are vulnerable: People We Know Danger.  The truth of the matter is, each and every one of us are more likely to be victimized by someone we know and trust.  Especially when it comes to violent crime.  You are more likely to be raped by a neighbor, family friend, or ex-lover than you are a stranger.  You are more likely to be beaten up by a friend, lover, or ex-lover than a stranger.  And you are a lot more likely to be murdered by someone you intimately know.  For children, it’s usually a family friend that is their biggest threat.

I’ll give an example: When I was 18, I got a call from a friend.  She was in an abusive relationship.  I had reported the boyfriend a few times when she would call me to take her to the ER.  That night, she called and said she was ready to leave him, she wanted a ride to her mom’s.  The boyfriend wasn’t home, she didn’t know where he was, please hurry.  I did hurry, but I didn’t go alone.  I took a friend with me, the man Malachi Blake is based on.  I am so glad that I did.  She had lured me to the house because the boyfriend was mad at me and wanted to get revenge.  The Real Malachi ended up getting stitches that night. The boyfriend went to jail and served prison time for assault and got a broken leg for good measure.  I walked away unscathed.  I had known this girl since elementary school.  I understood why she did it, but it wasn’t something I could forgive.  Stranger Danger didn’t help me in the least with this situation.  Knowing the boyfriend and his temper/drug habits did.  I can’t even imagine what would have happened if I had gone alone.

Don’t cancel all your playdates just yet.  Yes, people we know are more likely to victimize us than strangers.  And yes, our children are even more at risk than our adult selves from family friends.  That doesn’t mean you should lock yourself in your house (which isn’t all that effective really) or refuse to let your kids play with the neighbor kids.

What it does mean is that while teaching your children about Stranger Danger, in its many forms, you should also be teaching them about the dangers of people they know.  As an adult, you should be aware of your surroundings, not just at night in a shady part of town, but at the neighborhood barbecue with all your friends.  We are most vulnerable when we are unaware of those that surround us.

Awareness is our biggest weapon against being victimized.  It goes beyond checking for strangers in dark parking lots.  We have to be aware that just because someone appears nice, happy, kind, and even-keeled at the neighborhood barbecue doesn’t mean they don’t go home later that night and beat the shit out of their wife and kids because someone forgot to put away a dirty sock.  You can’t see everything a person does, so it’s not a bad idea to be a little wary of going over to Bob’s house at 10 pm on a Tuesday when his family is out of town because he claims his garbage disposal isn’t working.  Now, if my BFF called me at 10 pm about her garbage disposal not working, I’d tell her to call a plumber in the morning.  Telling Bob the exact same thing, isn’t a bad idea.  Now, if she needed an emergency plumber for a water leak, I’d make sure she wasn’t alone when he showed up, because I was raised in the era of Stranger Danger and so was she… but I certainly wouldn’t tell her to call Bob the guy next door to see if he could fix it because, like I said, she’s more likely to be victimized by Bob than the 24-hour plumber…

 

Serial Killers You’ve Never Heard Of…

The US is the serial killer capital of the world.  A dubious honor to be sure, but one that comes with a giant asterisk after it.  While we do churn out more serial killers than most countries, it’s not just because we are a cesspool of crime, violence, and hate.

It’s mostly due to underreporting.  When I was a college student, I did a presentation of serial killers for a sociology class.  At that time, the US was known for holding around 5% of the world’s population but nearly 90% of the world’s serial killers.

At that time, the Kremlin still hadn’t released it classified serial killer files from the Soviet Era.  China still refuses to report them for statistical purposes and we only hear about them when something goes wrong with their media machine.  The Middle East is notorious for not reporting them.  It’s nearly impossible to track them in parts of Africa and South America, where they can thrive for decades without being caught.  India doesn’t like to spread that kind of information around and I could name a dozen or so other places, but you get the point.

So that statistic is no longer true.  What is still true is that for every serial killer you do hear about there are probably a dozen or so you don’t.  Also, the reason we don’t hear about a lot of them is that we don’t catch them.

For example, how many people are aware that the FBI currently estimates there are between 300 and 400 serial killers driving our highways right this second?  Probably not many.  Did you just get a chill?  Did it shock you a little?  Both of these reactions would be adequate and make you rethink talking to that nice young man who stopped to help you with your flat tire.

The truth is, frequent travelers such as long haul truckers and those who travel the country for work (like my nephew, who mostly just travels through Kansas because he works for Verizon and goes to different stores each week) are responsible for a number of serial killings (fairly certain my nephew is not a serial killer, just FYI).  And their jobs are the perfect cover for it.  They have a reason to be in the places where the people going missing from and a reason for being in the places where their bodies turn up.

It’s not uncommon for routes to overlap.  So there might be 100 different work travelers in an area where someone goes missing and the same 100 might be where the body is found.  Narrowing down 300 from a pool of over a million is like searching for a needle in a haystack.  The good news is they are working on it; they have profiles for some of them and they have survivors from some of them.

The bad news is that doesn’t mean they are going to catch them.  Their mobility and anonymity gives them the power of invisibility.  The majority of their victims are runaways and prostitutes, people that society doesn’t want to acknowledge exists, which makes connecting them to a location or even establishing a firm date of disappearance nearly impossible.

It does get worse though; the public expects all serial killers to look like Charles Manson or Richard Ramirez.  Killers like Dennis Rader, Andrew Cunanan, Robert Yates, and Phillip Markoff prove that they look rather normal.  In fact, the majority of serial killers appear and act rather normal.  Which means finding the deranged mind among the hundreds of thousands of normal people is difficult to say the least.

The majority of over-the-road truckers and travel-based workers are completely normal, average, everyday people.  That is part of the reason this has always been a quiet investigation process, no reason to cause mass hysteria and something like this could do just that.  However, the quiet investigation means that most people have never heard of this problem.

This brings us to a slight warning.  We know they exist, we don’t know who the majority of them are, so we can’t really do anything about it.  That doesn’t mean you should be terrified of everyone who does travel for work, but it’s never a bad idea to be aware of your surroundings, even when you are in your car on the highway.

Nope, I’m Done. Foolish Cricket and Manners

My husband and I run an invite only tournament every year called Foolish Cricket.  This year it ran the best it has ever ran.  Part of that is because we used Dart Connect, a scoring app designed for steel-tip darts.  The other was due to players respecting the rules.

For those that don’t understand darts, it’s hard to imagine, but this tournament is a round robin and in prior years has taken about 15 hours of constant play.  This year, we did it in 12 1/2.  That’s a lot of darts thrown in a single day.

People that come year after year will tell you it’s the tournament they love to hate.  I get it.  Players are on their feet for most of the day.  Breaks are few and short.  Leaving is impossible until you lose.

This year, several newcomers were able to join us.  It was wonderful and difficult for most of them.  After they had lost, the majority told me how much fun they had and how much harder it is than a normal tournament.

However, I’m going to emphasize most.  We had one woman this year that bitched and whined about everything,  She even accused another player of doing something that player wasn’t doing (intentionally delaying matches by leaving the building).  And forfeited her round to her by throwing her score sheet at the young man I beg to run the tournament for me every year.

I can deal with most tantrums.  This one though, she just pushed it too far.  After her tantrum about Dart Player X, she was asked if she wanted to go ahead and play that match… That’s when she changed her story and complained that her foot was hurting her.  I was going to say something to her, but was told not to.  We all know she is a difficult human being, there was no need for me to lose my composure over something as small as this.

I decided Player X, who gave me that advice, was right and I let it go.  If Player X wasn’t going to be mad, then I wouldn’t be either.  And that worked for most of the day.

Until she started telling people that my husband didn’t know how to run a tournament.  I didn’t punch her in the face, which is what I wanted to do.  I didn’t scream at her or set her on fire, despite both crossing my mind.  Instead I talked about it a little bit with some of my friends and told my husband she was never allowed back.  I think I took the high road here and should get a gold star.

I was there for over 14 hours Saturday.  I had to return Sunday to assist with clean-up.  I’ve mentioned the nerve blockers have worn off and I was in so much pain – just from running around, standing, and sitting in those awful chairs all day – that I came home and cried Saturday night.  I came home Sunday, went to take a nap, and cried myself to sleep.  It got so bad Saturday, that I had to take my shoes off so that I could feel the floor under my feet.  Sounds strange, but when my lower legs start to hurt to the point that they feel like the bones have been crushed, I guess the nerves in my legs are so hyperactive, that they do not allow my brain to process the sensations from my feet.

As Sunday wore on, I began to really regret not confronting her.  Yes, I believe in diplomacy and being nice.  I’m not a fighter.  I don’t even like confrontation.  But she didn’t just throw a tantrum… She disrespected my husband, myself, and all the players that love Foolish Cricket.  She needed to be called out on it.

She’s the kind of person that makes everyone around her miserable.  Her negativity and lying grates on everyone’s nerves.  Her constant complaining makes everyone else feel uncomfortable.

Foolish Cricket always makes people miserable the next day, but it’s “I’m so sore” and “I can barely move my arms” kind of miserable.  In other words, the good kind of miserable for a dart player.  Emotionally, it’s fulfilling to play that many games and know you did your best.

But with her around, it was emotionally draining.  I can say that I have never wished a dart player would stop playing darts… but I’ll make an exception for this one.  She gives the sport a bad name and tries to make other dart players feel like they are beneath her. After Saturday, I have decided: I don’t like her.  I don’t respect her.  I don’t think she should be allowed to come to darting events.  And I sure as hell know she will never be invited back to any tournament that I host or run.

Which is sad, because I consider most dart players family.

A Eureka! Moment?

I’ve been dealing with a migraine all week and it has varied from tolerable to making me worship the porcelain god.  Any time I have one like this, I start going through my migraine journal and I may have had a eureka moment…

Let me start by saying, I was born with my hips out of socket, both of them.  They discovered it and put them back in when I was six weeks old.  This hasn’t been a huge thing in my life.  I have arthritis in both hip joints, but it’s not bad enough for me to really notice it unless something out of the ordinary happens and then it’s just a hitch in my step.

Two year ago, when I started having problems with pain in my legs and went through the whole what the hell is wrong with me ordeal, I still didn’t think much about my hips as a baby.  Even when it turned out to be an issue with my SI joints and the nerves that run through them, I just sort of chalked it up to one of those things.  The doctor told me that my SI joints were mildly deformed, probably the result of having been born with my hips out of socket and that this was stressing the nerves running into my lower legs.

We put in nerve-blockers in November.  They wore off in the middle of March.  Not as long as we would have liked for them to last, but not surprising either.  I was told I would probably have to build up to getting a year or so of pain management out of the injections.

Now, back to the possible eureka moment.  Since getting the nerve-blockers, my migraines have seriously decreased… Far more than they did with the Botox.  And the few I had were easily manageable with a medication called Butalbital/Acetaminophen.  Butalbital is a barbiturate, barbiturates depress the central nervous system, meaning the nerves and neurons that make up the central nervous system fire fewer signals.

Which got me wondering… Is it possible that the deformation of my SI Joints, which is the area where my pelvis meets my spine, is putting pressure not just on the nerves that run into my lower legs, but possibly nerves that run up my spine or my spine itself?  If so, is it then also possible that this is the source of the majority of my migraines?

Could nerve blockers in my lower back really be the best treatment for my migraines?  It’s nearly unthinkable!  It’s just so… mind-boggling.  The deformity is very minor, a tilt of the pelvis that pushes my SI joints into a slightly different position and made them narrower than what they should be… something so insignificant that it has never been mentioned on any of the numerous X-Rays, CT Scans, or MRIs that I’ve had done.  I mean, I’ve been told my pelvis is tilted as a result of my hips being out of socket, but lots of people have a tilted pelvis for no reason at all and don’t have migraines.

And if so, what does that mean for my triggers?  Perhaps the pressure on the nerves or spine that causes my migraines somehow make my central nervous system more sensitive to normal migraine triggers – light, smells, noise, these have always been my biggest three triggers.  Is it because my central nervous system is already in overload because my SI joints and pelvis are somehow irritating it?

It is something I will have to discuss with a doctor, possibly my pain management doctor as well as my primary care physician and when/if I get a new neurologist them too… Then maybe it’s time to see a rheumotologist about it.  I have arthritis in my SI Joints as well as my hips.  Again, it’s mild and doesn’t seem to bother me, but it could be another factor that would explain why my migraines have gotten so much worse as I have gotten older.

Wow… Just wow…

Freebies for the Non-Series Writer

On more than one occasion, I have heard non-series writers complain about series writers and their freebie ebooks.  I get it.  It does seem like series writers have the marketing advantage.  However, that wouldn’t be true if a few things would happen.

For starters, let me say that I am not a KDP Select author.  This means I can’t use the majority of their marketing tools for any of my ebooks.  There are no discount or freebie days for me without jumping through a number of hoops.  I’m fine with this because I make about 1/4 of my income from iBooks, a little more than half from Amazon, and the rest from Nook and assorted retailers.

But I’ve been at it a while and I have more than one or two books published (I can’t remember the actual number off the top of my head, I think it’s more than 20 now though).  For first timers, I think KDP Select is a great option.  No, you aren’t on every site as an ebook, but the majority of sales come from Amazon and being able to use their marketing tools does help.

Currently, I think until you have 3 books published, you should stay enrolled in KDP Select.  After three, it’s time to branch out and explore other areas to get readers – but we’ll talk about that in a minute.  KDP Select allows you to make your ebook free or discounted for 5 days every three months.  If you plan your marketing correctly to boost your downloads on those free days, it can gain you readers fast.

When you are getting ready to publish book 4, you should widen your market.  First, you’ve already got 3 books to upload to Nook, iBooks, Smashwords, and a slew of other places and books sell more books.  Second, at this point, even if you aren’t writing a series, you can make one of them a freebie without it hurting you.

Why would you make one book free if it isn’t part of a series?  Because reading is about more than just plot lines.  It’s about the way an author writes.  I love Gail Carriger.  Not because I’m really into steampunk or fantasy, but because the way she writes and the words she chooses amuses me.  Even when I’m not that into a book by her, I will finish it, because I never know what gem is going to come out of the pages.  Readers like writer’s styles; the way they use words, what words they use, the way they form sentences, explain ideas and concepts, and the most basic thing ever – the way a writer uses language inflection – are all just as important to readers as the plot.

This means even if you don’t write a series, your books sell your other books.  Making one freebie ebook for a non-series writer is no different than making one freebie ebook for a series writer.  If someone likes your stuff, they will buy the others, even if it isn’t a series.

The other thing I have noticed is that non-series writers seem to believe there are more series readers.  This isn’t true.  Most readers are happy to read both.  The average reader reads a book or two a month.  Most series writers take between 4-12 months to put out a new book in a series, possibly longer.  During that time between series books, they have to find other things to read.  Now, there are series-only readers, but there are non-series only readers too, but those are exceptions.  The majority of readers just want to read a good book.  My favorite book of all time is a stand alone novel, Good Omens.  Oddly, I’m not a huge fan of Neil Gaiman’s or Terry Pratchett’s books.  I’ve tried them, but they just aren’t my thing.  However, I own Good Omens in hardback, paperback, ebook, audiobook, and if I’m being honest, I have two paperback copies because every time I loan it out, it disappears.  My favorite authors of all time are HP Lovecraft and Clive Barker.  Lovecraft didn’t really write novels even, he was a short storiest, like Poe.  Barker has a series or two and he has some intertwining of a few books, but the majority of them work as stand alones and again, he writes a lot of short stories that I love.  Now, this is coupled with the series and novel intertwining that I do read (Jack Kilborn, Blake Crouch, Stephen King, and Gail Carriger are among my favorites here).

Now, let’s get this out of the way… I don’t think of freebie ebooks as giving my ebooks away.  Yes, they are a marketing tool, but they are also a loyalty program where you get your free stuff up front.  If a reader likes my books, they are going to come back and buy the others.  Meaning they bought 4 ebooks and got an ebook free (with one series since there are currently 3 of them free right now).  Who doesn’t like a loyalty card or perks for spending money?

When I think of marketing, I don’t think like a writer, I think like a reader.  I have to put my money-grubbing brain to the side and think about what I like as a reader and yeah, I love freebie ebooks because I feel like I have been double rewarded when I find an author I like/love.  Not only have I found an author I like or love, but while I bought all their other books, I still got one of them free – in some cases, it’s buy 12, get 1 free, but I’m okay with that too.  The reader in me agrees that authors should be paid for their work, but it also knows that I can’t afford to read 10 books a week or so, so that freebie is amazing.

Finally, ebooks have revolutionized not just writing, but reading.  When I read paperbacks, I found I was getting headaches, read slower, and my reading glasses would make my nose hurt.  However, on my tablet… I read three times as fast, I do not require my reading glasses because I can make the font bigger, and the bright screen with the dark words doesn’t give me a headache like struggling to read words on a cream piece of paper that has shadows on it.  I went from reading one or two books a week to reading an average of ten books a week.  I can give you a great example of exactly how much faster I read an ebook: I read The Scarlet Gospels by Clive Barker on my tablet, it took me about 2 hours.  My BFF got me the hardback, which is gorgeous and also had to be read.  It took me a little over 6 hours to read the hardback…. Now, that’s with me having already read the book once and having the time to dedicate to the reading and it still took me three times as long to read the hardback as the ebook.

That was a Holy Rusted Metal, Batman moment for me.  Since I can adjust my tablet to make reading easier for me, I read much much faster.  I have since read several old favorites of mine, including Good Omens, on my tablet and I do read them faster than the print copies.  I also retain more when I read the ebooks because I’m not straining or stressing to read the printed words on that fucking cream paper (that is why all my books are on white paper, by the way).  Until ebooks, I didn’t realize just how much I hated cream paper for books, but now that indies have become a big thing along with ebooks, I would much rather have the ebook or the white paper with black text than a book with cream paper.  I read the black on white faster than the black on cream too.  Not as fast as I do an ebook, but still faster.

Anyway, since I read much faster on a tablet, I go through far more ebooks than I ever could print books.  This means my book budget either has to seriously increase or I need to find freebies… And I subscribe to Kindle Unlimited.  Yes, ebooks are cheaper, but I’d still be spending a small fortune on ebooks if it weren’t for freebies, because after that initial freebie, most ebooks are $3.99 or $4.99 and a traditionally published author can be 3 or 4 times that.  I used to think that I was a fluke and it was just me that read ebooks faster, but I have talked to scores of people that say the same thing; they read faster on a tablet, Nook, or Kindle.  So a person that used to read one print book a week might now be reading three ebooks a week.  I don’t know what kind of budgets most people have for books, but I know spending $300 or $400 on books a month is a significant chunk of change for me… it’s a student loan payment or a car payment.  But that’s what I would be spending if I paid for every book I read.  And don’t mention libraries, because I’m banned from mine – I forget to return books after I read them – consistently – and I have bought the library replacement copies on numerous occasions – about six years ago, they had decided enough was enough and they yanked my library card.

This means it doesn’t matter if you write a series or only write stand alones or only write collections of short stories, you can offer freebies and it will sell your other books.  Readers like authors, not just books.  Series just look like they sell easier and better because they build on each other.  But an author who crafts a good stand alone, sells their other books just as easily as a series writer.  Don’t believe me?  Ask RL Stein or Tom Clancy or Robin Cook… (I left out James Patterson because he does both series and standalones, however, he is also the single most successful author in the world right now, so…)

C Patt

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