Thursday, May 02, 2019

Baltimore Mayor Accused of Self-Pub Payola

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh self-published Healthy Holly in 2011.

Her efforts were a little more profitable than the average self-published children's book. 

It has now emerged that she made $500,000 from sales to the University of Maryland Medical System while serving on their Board of Directors. Other private companies made bulk book orders while bidding (successfully) on city contracts. 

That's one way to do it, I guess.  One person's "massive conflict of interest" is another's "No, they just really loved my insipid little book".

Thursday, March 07, 2019

Social Self-Publishing and Rights (Wattpad, What Rights?)

Websites for posting fiction online have been around for a long time now.  Initially they were focused on clearly amateur and non-profit writing, especially in niche areas such as erotica and fan fiction.  As such, the writers were often not very concerned with publishing rights and commercial publication potential. Over time the mainstreaming of online books has continued to be a lesser-thought-of corollary to the mainstreaming of ebooks.  Reading online or through apps has become part of the lifestyle of many people, albeit a group that continues to skew to the younger generations.

In recent years many of these posting sites have developed hybrid schemes for compensation or graduation to a commercially published level.  And in recent years the number of social publishing sites  has greatly increased.  Wattpad has been dominant since its 2006 launch, but inroads are being made by newcomers such as China-based Webnovel.  Other apps are trying to bite off genre-specific market share, such as Dreame (romance).

Social Self-Publishing May Use First Publishing Rights
One thing that is concerning is how these sites represent the impact of posting complete manuscripts online may have on the potential for future trade publishing.  While most indie ebook authors are fully aware that self-publishing is publishing, and uses first publishing rights--online authors demonstrate more confusion in this issue.

It does not help that social self-publishing websites, deliberately or not, post questionable information to encourage participation.  For example Wattprint saying no publisher will consider a manuscript on their site to be a "reprint" when, well, some will.  With the work being fully accessible for free to thousands of people, being behind a member wall may or may not be enough to avoid it being deemed a reprint--depending on individual publisher's policies.

Social Self-Publishing is Self-Publishing
The exchange of information on these topics might be better if it was clearer that publishing online is a form of self-publishing.  Essentially, format is not a defining feature of the activity and most of the needs and considerations of authors are the same whether they use a site, app, or e/book delivery method.  In fact as a reader, the difference between reading an ebook on my phone and reading on the Wattpad app is barely noticeable.

With that in mind this blog, name aside, is open to reviewing books made available for online or app reading.  I currently have a Wattpad and Webnovel account and I am willing to consider other platforms as well.  Feel free to suggest books for review in the comments.

Friday, November 02, 2018

Cover Comment

This little plant's tomorrows are probably going to suck, because it does have any roots.  Which is probably some kind of a metaphor for one of the biggest problems with aggressive futurism.

Friday, October 19, 2018

What, if anything, is "Hybrid Publishing"

"Hybrid Publishing"* is a term I see bandied around a lot these days. Generally speaking it is being applied to any company that represents itself as combining the features of trade publishing and self-publishing.

(*This is completely distinct from the idea of a "hybrid author" who publishes both indie and trade books--but I have some thoughts about that too).

I don't really accept that definition because the one feature most commonly present is charging the author a fee, either directly or by a function such as requiring that they purchase or sell a set number of books before receiving any royalties.

Charging the author a fee is not a conventional part of either trade or indie publishing.  It is a feature of vanity publishing which is another creature entirely. No matter how nicely or euphemistically you try to phrase it, hybrid publishing is wholly within the category of vanity publishing for this reason.

Whether publishing in this manner might work for you remains a matter of individual analysis.  Many hybrid publishers are just as undesirable as the worst vanity publishers, others may be worth considering for certain unique situations.

“Hybrid publishing is a middle-ground between traditional and self-publishing in which the author pays for some of the services.” 

However, I do think the existing definition of the term needs to be challenged, as I think it is simply not true that hybrid publishing occupies some metaphoric middle ground.  Hybrid publishing is within the fence of vanity publishing (by this or some other name).

“Hybrid publishing is publishing that is financially subsidized by the author but may (or may not) offer advantages to the author such as quality standards, favorable brand identity, or enhanced profitability with high volume sales. However this model puts the author at greater risk of financial loss.” 

Monday, October 01, 2018

REVIEW: Power's Wrath by Stephen Shertall

It was the character of Calthus, as described in the blurb, that caused me to request POWER’S WRATH from Netgalley.  There were some strong elements of Arthurian myth in this character and some of the others from the story.  However, Shortall’s writing style made the first few chapters a bit dull and had a wordy and plodding style throughout the book.

The overall scope and direction of the book is broader and more original than I had expected and the better qualities of the work became apparent with each chapter.  While echoing some of the familiar tropes of high fantasy, overall the complexity and aesthetic of the world building is unusual in its quality. The story has some echoes of Tolkien in setting up cycles of existence with the schemes of very long lived beings intersecting  at critical moments with the heroics of mortal champions and the women they love.

Ultimately, I felt that my sympathy for the characters was limited and the “type” of fantasy heroes set up by this opening volume do not interest me to continue with the story.  Readers more fond of male fantasy archetypes and taking a leisurely pace through even the most incidental of scenes may feel differently.