Nick Green's Blog: The Green Knight's Chapel - Posts Tagged "amazon"

‘Sir, may I see your artistic licence?’

I’m generally a good driver. Meaning, I try always to remember that I’m inside a fast-moving tonne of steel, possibly the most efficient accidental murder weapon ever designed. So if I happen to get stuck behind someone who maybe isn’t going as briskly as they could be, I hang back and tell myself that they might be old, or a newly-qualified driver, and I only overtake if it’s safe. I’m good that way.

BUT…

If you’re that guy who drives right up behind me when I’m in the fast lane and already at the speed limit, and flash your lights to command my immediate removal from the path of your precious Audi, then I’m afraid you’ll unleash my inner maniac. Trust me my friend, you will sweat blood before I let you past.

Because this is what driving tests are for. I must say, I struggled with the whole car thing, probably a shortage of testosterone in the womb, blame my mum’s crash diets, but I took meticulous note of everything my instructor told me (except for his claim about cannabis not affecting your driving), and after I did pass my test on the second try, I continued to drive pretty much by the book, two-second-rule and all. The only exceptions occur when some Alpha Male has a problem with this (see above).

I see this as a metaphor – albeit a slightly creaky one – for the way an author traditionally had to get the go-ahead first from an agent and then from a publishing house, before heading out onto the highways of commercial fiction. That’s how it’s been for many years. Then something happened. Ebooks, Smashwords and Amazon KDP. Suddenly, anyone moderately computer-literate could publish a book without stirring from their sofa. There need be no more humble submission letters, no more parcelling up of the synopsis and three chapters (the photocopier! The envelopes! The stamps! Oh God, the stamps), no more waiting one month, two months, three, no more walking-on-eggshells gentle reminder letters (‘I know you would probably have told me by now if you were planning a multi-million pound franchise based on my book, but just in case you forgot to get in touch…’), no more crushingly brief and unspecific rejection letters, no more pulverisingly specific rejection letters, no more grinding through the whole Sisyphean cycle yet again, no more despair. You can be published. Just power up your laptop. Utopia is here.

There’s a funny thing about Utopias.

Imagine our Prime Minister saying: ‘From tomorrow, no-one needs a driving licence.’ That’s a wonderful thought, but not if the result isn’t David Cameron being straitjacketed off to a quiet but secure retreat on the Isle of Man. No, imagine that they actually pass that legislation. Oh, and they’re also scrapping insurance and road tax, and all driving offences, and the age limit, and wow! They’re giving out free cars as well. I’m sure plenty of frustrated learner drivers would vote for that… for about five seconds. Until they make it out of the driveway onto the road.

It’d be bad enough for those impatient kids who just longed for a car. But what if you’re someone who spent time, money and a tonne of stress actually learning to drive? Well I’m sorry, but you’re royally stuffed as well. And since the metaphor is creaking again, I’ll spit it out: publishing your own ebooks isn’t the short cut we hoped it might be.

Really, little has changed. Only that, instead of fighting to escape the slush pile on the publisher’s desk, you’re in the thick of a slush pile that’s skidding out into the world. Out here it’s arguably worse for the old-school writers, the ones who bothered to learn a few manoeuvres and where to put, commas, because at least on the editor’s desk it’s only book versus book – it’s about the content. But not out there. Out there you’re up against people whose actual writing might be all over the road, but who have nitro-injected marketing savvy that can leave yours in the dust. All that time you spent alone in your room, honing your craft, why! – they were out there making friends, forging networks, raising their profile. Most serious writers can’t compete with that, given that by definition we’d rather be curled up at home with a book.

Now it’s up to readers to sift through the morass of self-published ebooks, and many must be at a loss to know what to choose. If you aren’t already familiar with an author through their traditionally published fiction, then how are you ever going to spot the occasional diamond amid all that broken glass?

History shows us that things like this have a way of sorting themselves out in the long term. In the end, readers will decide what they do and don’t want, as they always have. But in the meantime… drive carefully out there.
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Published on September 08, 2014 02:37 Tags: amazon, kdp, nick-green, publishing, self-publishing, smashwords, writing

***** i couldn,t put it down

The author strode purposefully into the living room, which was the main chamber of residence in the house in which his family lived. His family were in there. Boldly the author stood before them and folded his arms in brazen fashion.

“My family,” he insisted. “I wish you to open multiple Amazon accounts and review my novel many times, giving it five stars. This way I will be able to sell many books and put food on the table for you, and also lord it over my so-called fiends in the IT department at work,” he explained curtly.

His wife looked at him curiously, full of questions.

“Why don’t you just let readers read the book and review it themselves?” She asked questioningly. “I may be soarly mistaken but isnt’ that how its supposed to work?”

The writer laughed scornfully, giving a disdainful shake of his head, to let his wife know what he thought of this strategy. His scorn spoke for itself.

“You don’t understand,” he demonstrated. “Amazon has a dirty trick up their sleeves that will put paid to my dreams of bestsellerdom. Customers can click on ‘Look Inside!’ and read the first few pages of the book before they bye it.”

His disdain spoke for itself.

“Isn’t that good?” asked his wife, with a frown of her deep brown eyes.

“No it isn’t good,” the writer exploded suddenly, in a rage of anger. “It means that people will see that I can’t write for coffee.”

“Toffee,” murmured the youngest member of his offspring, loudly under his breath.

“Not now, son.”

“I mean the word is toffee,” said the irritated child, blinking pale blue eyes like his mother’s. “You can’t write for toffee. Or coffee, come to that.”

Frustrated, the brooding writer looked in the mirror. He saw a tall, square-jawed man with windswept sandy hair, with some seashells in it too.

“What’s that man doing in here? Get him out,” snapped the writer, turning back to the image of himself in the mirror, a short and balding man with a beer gut, and sand in the turnips of his trousers. (It had been a windy day at the beach.)

“Now you’re meandering off the point,” his wife pointed out unnecessarily.

“My point is this,” bellowed the writer, raising his finger to point with. “Whom in their write mind would buy a book by someone so incapably with the English language as me? As I? As me? I don’t even know which it is. And as for getting a hundred suspiciously similar five-star reviews, forget it.”

‘I have an objection’ objected his middle son, sweeping back her luxuriant head of long cropped treacle-coloured blonde hair. [revise this bit]

‘What is it?’ asked his irasibcle father.

‘If customers see that you have a hundred five-star reviews,’ continued his daughter [son?] ‘but the prose style of a mole rat using Google Translate, then won’t the star system gradually become meaning less?’

‘Star system? This isn’t my sci-fi book. Which is even better, by the way.’

‘I mean the rating system,’ said his son, batting her eyelashes. He put down his cricket bat. ‘How will customers be able to find genuinely good indie books, that actually deserve four or five stars, if people like you go around devaluing the system? It’s runaway inflation, that’s what it is.’

‘Huh,’ harrumphed the author. His disdain spoke for itself. ‘That’s there problem, not mine.’

‘Fare enough,’ chorused his family.

The author excited the living room with a brisk stride.
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Published on October 28, 2014 05:03 Tags: amazon, bad-writing, indie-publishing, reviews

The Green Knight's Chapel

Nick   Green
A blog by Nick Green, YA and children's author of books including The Firebird Trilogy, The Storm Bottle and The Cat Kin Trilogy.
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