Anthology Available for iPhone, Kindle, etc

Originally posted on another website on 21 January 2010, but edited for the purposes of posting here.

The anthology, Speculative Realms, which includes my story Where Strength Lies, is now available in many ebook formats. These formats include epub for iPhone, iPod Touch, Sony Reader, Barnes & Noble Nook and most mobile apps; mobi for Kindle and many handheld devices; pdb for Palm Pilot devices, PalmOS, Symbian OS and several others; and, then there’s pdf, rtf and plain text for use on computers and some other devices.

New eBook Formats Available Soon for Speculative Realms Anthology

Originally posted on another site on 19 January 2010.

I know I’ve been a bit quiet lately, but it’s been absolutely necessary. I’m under contract to get some work done by the 25th of this month…and it’s looking as though I’ll make the deadline. 🙂

Speculative Realms is proud to announce that by the end of this week, the anthology will be available in many more formats. They are:

epub
An open industry format, supported by the Sony Reader, Barnes & Noble Nook, most mobile apps [Stanza, Aldiko, Shortcovers], and many other reading systems.

Sony Reader (LRF)
LRF is the format used on Sony Reader ebook devices.

Kindle (.mobi)
Mobipocket is an eBook format supported on Windows PCs and many handheld devices.

Palm Doc (PDB)
PalmDoc is a format primarily used on Palm Pilot devices, but readers are available for PalmOS, Symbian OS, Windows Mobile Pocket PC/Smartphone, desktop Windows, and Macintosh.

PDF
Portable Document Format, or PDF, is a file format readable by most devices, including handheld e-readers, PDAs, and computers.

RTF
Rich Text Format, or RTF, is a cross-platform document format supported by many word processors and devices. Usually pretty good at preserving original formatting from Word documents.

Plain Text
Plain text is the most widely supported file format, working on nearly all readers and devices.

More details, including location where these can be purchased, will be announced as soon as they are available to the public.

The Road Divides and I Must Go Astray

Originally posted on another site on 15 January 2010.

The return to work has seen me fall behind in my blogging as it means I, once again, am getting up very early and doing a lot of travelling. This week, being my first week back, has left me feeling tired, too tired to write or even think about writing…much! And I’m even having trouble keeping my eyes open enough to read. Strangely, I don’t seem to have the same trouble with Bejeweled 2 on my iPod Touch. 😉

Next week will be different. It has to be because I stand at a place where the road divides. I already know which road I must take. Unfortunately, it will take me away from Whispering Caves, but only for a short time. In fact, the road is quite short and if I don’t hurry to do what needs to be done I’ll find myself falling over a cliff at the end of the road. Sounds bad, doesn’t it, but I’m dramatising the situation for your benefit.

This road is a necessity. It’s for the anthology and I’m very excited about the new direction we are going in. However, that grand news will be announced on another day so be sure to return here in a week or so to find out what the fuss is all about – you might even get yourself a bargain!

Anthology On Special at Amazon

Yes, the Speculative Realms anthology is on special over at Amazon. At the time of this post, it was selling at $11.19, however, I saw it for $5.88 last week, so the price is slowly creeping back to the recommended price of $15.95.

My story “Where Strength Lies” is included in the anthology. It’s about a woman who would do anything to save her young son, even go against strong mages who are determined to take him from her. But mine is only one of the stories in the book. You’ll also find a story about a young man stepping into Hell to say what he needs to say to his deceased father, but those who go to Hell are not allowed to leave and this young man isn’t even dead! Then there’s the story of the evil girls who play with the minds of the occupants of a dilapidate house in the wilderness. Not to forget the stories about the man who battles a dragon, the man who must shout when he can’t even talk to save the woman he loves, and the mage with women troubles.

If you haven’t got a copy of the anthology, then now is the perfect time to purchase a copy…while the price is low.

Anthology Woes: Amazon Try to Rule the World!

When I started out on the Anthology Project (back in early 2007) I did so with enthusiasm and excitement. For several years, I had been trying to help writers become published and finally, I believed, I had found the way to do just that.

Whilst receiving and reading submissions for the project, I was also spending hours and hours combing the internet to find the right printer for the job. There are so many printers out there, but when I read the small print I was surprised by the charges involved and the odd terms that didn’t sit right with me. I continued my search, widening it to include reading what other people’s experiences were and this narrowed the market for me considerably.

From memory I ended up with three possibilities. None of them were perfect, but these three sounded better than all the rest and the reviews were more positive too. For reasons I can’t remember, I settled on Lulu. I set about creating an account and started a “fake” project so that I knew the process well before doing the real thing. In all honesty, the process was mostly painless even if it was time consuming.

The anthology was published on 25 July 2008. And that’s when my excitement truly started to wane.

Suddenly, everyone at Lulu was complaining that the distribution service had changed; it had gone downhill…and quickly. It is clearly stated on the Lulu website that books published by them will appear on Amazon and other online bookstores within 6 to 8 weeks. The anthology appeared within three weeks so it wasn’t an outright lie. However, it showed an “out of print” status and no one, no matter how eager, could purchase the book. Although I was aware a problem existed I didn’t know (or understand) the depth of it…or the ramifications. I am, after all, a writer, not a publisher. But that is no excuse and I realise now that I should have made it my business to know what the problem meant. Anyway, the anthology has now been published for 16 weeks and the status remains unchanged even though I have been in contact with Lulu repeatedly in this time.

No wonder the service had suddenly become “free”. If they (meaning Lulu) had charged for the service then they would have been faced with a lot of unhappy people demanding their money back – me alone with them. I feel they knew the problem was bigger than they were letting on and that’s why they dropped the charge and this knowledge angers me more.

Having said all this, I understand that Lulu is between a rock and a hard place. I don’t think they wanted or intended for this to happen to the people who use their service – not at the beginning. I also believe that there is nothing much they can do about it, which presents a problem for the anthology (but I’ll get back to this later).

Amazon is the real problem. They have become greedy and are trying to squash print on demand books being published by anyone but themselves. If a POD book isn’t printed by their subsidiary then they will not list it on the website (or they will, but the “buy” button will be deactivated so they may as well not list it, in my opinion). From what I’ve learned, this only applies to the books distributed from about six to eight months ago. Those already in the system are not affected.

If the people at Amazon want to be jerks, fine. I’d be happy to ignore Amazon from this day onwards and buy my books from other online bookstores instead…and I would encourage everyone else to do the same thing because, quite frankly, Amazon isn’t the “be all and end all” of the publishing (or reading) world.

But…the other bookstores are listing the book as unavailable too! Why? What reason do they have? Are they sheep? I’ve contacted a couple of them and their response is that they want copies of the book sent to them so that they have them in stock. Why? POD means the book is printed as needed. It never runs out of stock. They don’t need a stock pile. Honestly, I have no idea what the hassle is and I’m finding the whole mess frustrating and pointless.

At this point, I would like to clearly state that I do not recommend Lulu in any way, shape or form. I would never use them again. Ever! If you had any brains you wouldn’t either. It’s not worth the stress.

What does all this mean to the anthology?

In hindsight, if I could redo this project from scratch there are certain things I would change. Of course, experience is talking now. I didn’t have any experience when I started this project back in January 2007, but now I’m older and wiser.

The main change I would make would be that I wouldn’t pay for the stories and artwork in royalties. That is the biggest mistake I made. I would have been better off paying outright for the stories and artwork and having a contract for world wide exclusive rights for the first year and then the right to continue publishing the book, but allowing the authors to submit the stories elsewhere. If I had done this I wouldn’t be bound by a contract that has literally killed the project. You see, it’s because of that contract that I can’t pack my bags, walk away from Lulu and start afresh with a POD company that doesn’t have the hassles Lulu has. In order to do this, it would mean I would have to apply for a new ISBN (because Lulu owns the current one). With the new ISBN I could apply a new cover, fix anything that might be wrong with the current book and then publish a second edition. The contract doesn’t allow any of this to happen because it’s for the first edition only. The second edition would require a new contract and, to be honest, I’m not keen to go there.

Right now, that means two years of planning, reading and publishing (and I don’t mean just me here either) has been…for what? To me, it feels like a waste of time. Maybe the others don’t feel that way, but when I was bubbling over with excitement two years ago I wasn’t imagining the frustration I’m experiencing now. I was imagining speechless joy and wonder. Believe me, this experience doesn’t come close to that.

Getting Inside Your Character’s Head

This week I’ve been too caught up in promoting the online book launch party for the anthology to do any writing. However, the weekend is here and I refuse to let spare hours in the day not be put to good use.

Let’s talk about writing for a change.

The first draft of Mirror Image is in the last stages of writing. Currently, I’m on the second last day of the story, but a lot has to happen in the coming hours which will take the story to the climax. The events have been fully planned, so I know exactly what has to be written and, generally, I’m having no trouble getting the words down.

However…one character does some research in a library to find out what’s happening to her. I’m having trouble writing the scene because, even though I know the results she’ll find, I can’t find the right words to express those findings. I suppose this comes back to “know what you write”. The subject matter is something I have experienced first hand, but it is something I have never researched. I guess I believe I should include some technical information to make the research results sound more plausible.

I spent some time on the internet tonight doing a spot of research, but couldn’t find a single website that was “believable”. Now I’m wondering what would happen if I went to the library and did the research my character is doing…what would I find? It’s an excellent question, in my opinion, and I suppose I’ll have to go to the library and find out!

Anthology Marketing & Promotion

It doesn’t take a genius to know what I’ve been up to in recent weeks. Anyone who knows me even slightly well will grumble when they see this post – “No! Not more on the anthology!” 😀

Marketing a book is no easy task. That’s something I have discovered first hand. It takes a lot of time and effort and it’s no wonder that traditionally published books only have a short shelf life – the publishing houses just don’t have the time to devote to one book, let alone all the books on their list.

If I had the money to spend, I would look into getting those expensive displays for bookshops and have them distributed, but I don’t have the money so I have to make do with other avenues. Here is a list of what I’ve done so far:

I’ve sent out two worldwide press releases – one announcing the publication on the anthology and the other announcing the online book launch party.

I’ve organised (or should I say, I am still organising) an online book launch party on Monday 1 September 2008.

I have made a promotional video and uploaded it on YouTube.

I have flooded Facebook with purple and white promotional material – links to the Speculative Realms website, links to the party, links to the video, direct links to purchase the book and I’ve even set up an event for the party, uploaded the book to the marketplace and uploaded the book to the book library application.

I have uploaded the details and the video to MySpace.

I have done the same to MyFamily.com. I belong to a group where there are several thousand members and I’m related in some way to all of them (although I know only a handful).

Today, I sent out emails to my family and friends, and to acquaintances I hardly know (over 200 emails in total).

I have included the details of the book and a link to the website in my signature for all my emails for the email writing group I belong too (a little over 100 members).

I also included the details into my signature for the message board. Even though signatures have been turned off on my own board, I am a member of many other boards and have written many, many posts over the years and I made sure that the new signature changed every single one of those posts.

That’s all I can remember at the moment. But that’s what I’ve been doing and there are twelve other authors hopefully doing their bit too. At this stage I would like to give my heartfelt thanks to Alan Baxter for including the video on his website.

I haven’t reached the end of my list and friends are always providing additional resources for me to follow up – thank you Benjamin Solah for a brilliant idea this morning.

If you know of other promotional ideas that I haven’t mentioned yet, please tell me about them by emailing me or leaving a comment.