Saturday, August 16, 2014

Family, and the Importance Thereof

So, apparently the news is out. I have been avoiding saying something on social media out of respect for the family, and my uncles wishes, but many of my family have already broached the subject already, so her it goes.

My uncle, Steve Albrecht (KitSteve Albrecht) has been diagnosed with liver cancer.

First, let me tell the family that he is in great spirits every-time I have the pleasure of seeing him, which is often because we share the same address so I don't think we need to worry all that much. Being in the medical field I can say that most of the battle is won with that alone.

But there is still the worry and uncertainty that comes with a diagnosis of this kind. So, I would ask that anyone who prays keep this matter pressed firmly to their lips as he means the world to too many of us to tag (I will miss some of you because I am tired and not in my best form) in a single post.

There are too many unknowns to name at this time, and emotions are running high in my household, so please be respectful in the coming days.

There are still tests to be done before a coarse of action can be plotted, but there is no doubt the Albrecht family will be victorious in the end. We are a stubborn lot that refuses to yield, but I hurt for the pain that uncertainty brings my family.

Lastly, to the readers of my novels: I hope you will respect that I may not get as much writing done in the next few weeks, or months, as I would normally, but I will get back to it as soon as we kick cancer's ass. That is all.

Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Bullies with Too Much Money

This sunday, a small group of authors are buying a $104,000 full page ad in the NY Times, protesting’s side in the Hachette dispute. They are mad that Amazon is dragging them into the dispute, and endangering their livelihood....

First, let’s be clear about what is happening here.

Hachette is refusing to sign a new contract with Amazon because they don’t like the money that they will make from the deal, and their contract ended months ago. It’s that simple.

Now Hachette is quick to point out that Amazon is being a bully and delaying delivery of some of the books they sell on the site, as well as taking away the pre-order button from their titles. This sounds horrific, unjust, and just plain mean of Amazon, doesn’t it?

If you want to continue to swallow the rhetoric of the top 1%, it does. Amazon is hurting authors by insisting that Hachette sign a contract that they don’t want to sign! Let’s all stand up and protest the big, bad website! How can they call themselves the worlds most customer service oriented company while keeping the reader from buying my books three months before they are available?!

Now consider the fact that, currently, there is no way for the Indie published author to even get a pre-order button on Amazon without some major connections on the inside. Also consider that if we failed to sign the contract, our books would not be for sale at all on the Amazon website!

If you ask any self published author how he or she would feel in the position of these angry authors, you would hear an overwhelming and resounding cheer! You mean I could refuse to sign a contract with Amazon and still get paid? Sign me up!

Don’t let them fool you -- they are still getting paid.... a lot!

Now, I’m going to do the math here....

If I team up with my bestselling author buddies Ashley Delay and Robert Pruneda, and each of us found two other bestselling authors to pitch in, and each of them found two more, and each of them found two more, we may be able to scrape together a couple hundred bucks to post a help wanted ad in the same paper--and only if it was a week with no bills to pay and I had enough insulin to get me to payday!

All Amazon did was bring the playing field a bit closer to level for all authors, and these authors are crying? I’m not much for swearing, but that level of complaining has caused a great myriad of livid vocalizations to fly from my mouth today.

Plus, Amazon isn’t the one who dragged them into the fight; that was their publisher. Amazon isn’t refusing to sign the contract that would allow them to sell their books on the site. If their publisher wants to sell their books on the website, all they need to do is sign the contract that is offered. It’s not that complicated, folks!

In case Hachette may have missed it, the publishing world has changed in recent years. If they don’t find a way to evolve with it, and possibly take less money for themselves to keep their authors happy, their authors are going to start to see through the disguised, overcomplicated idiocy and get the hell out of Dodge.

There is a solution that would satisfy all. I have the solution that will end the argument, and this is it:

Amazon, stop selling any books by Hachette or any of their multi-conglomerate companies. Just take them off the site completely. Eliminate them altogether. Why? Let’s just say it’s for slander, violating terms of a contract (or not having a contract at all), and conduct unbecoming. Let’s see how Hachette handles setting up their own website, delivery company, sales page, self publishing platform, and developing their own e-reader overnight. Maybe they could have a couple of the authors who paid $104,000 to buy a full page ad in the NY Times help them with the logistics?

Here’s another idea. I suggest we get 104,000 indie authors to pay a dollar to take out our own ad. I’m serious, too! Indies, pass this around and let’s see how big of an ad we can take out! No joke, let’s have our voices heard! What better site than the one that has our name in the title to bring us all together?

Do you suppose we could get anyone to listen to us if 104,000 authors spoke with one voice and told our side of the story? Pitch in your Indie Published dollar here. That is a link to the actual fundraiser on to show the real bullies in this debate that we won’t be intimidated by the size of their bank accounts!

Edit: It appears that I can be intimidated by the size of their bank accounts because I can't afford the tax burden that 104,000 would lend. But I would be happy to donate if someone else has the ability to shoulder that burden....

Sunday, August 3, 2014

A Hachette to the Head

A lot of folks like to jump on big companies and thrash them for being good at what they do.

Alas, these are the days for that sort of behavior and a lot of vocal individuals are saying some very angry things about the way Amazon does its business. I am not one of those people.

The way that innovation is made out to be villainous is pathetic. I haven’t witnessed a more irritating display of stubbornness since I was eight years old and my neighbor’s mom made her son fight another kid on her front lawn, and she kept jumping in to tell the other child he couldn't hit her son like that anymore because it wasn't fair.

The hardest part of this, for me, is that Amazon started with nothing. Mailing books out from a garage sounds scary, doesn't it? Yeah, they were the bully on the block alright. They got to be big because they offered consumers what they wanted: cheap books!

Hachette was around for a long time before amazon started doing their thing, and in all that time they did nothing to revolutionize their product. They were happy charging so much for their product that people began to see reading as a more expensive habit than going to the movies every night, or paying $250 a month for cable.  

Then along comes Amazon….

In a scant number of years they have changed it all and are literally putting their competition out of business. For $9.99 you can read as much as you want every month: this is book heaven!

Yes, the company that started out mailing books from of a garage has made a major difference in the culture of our world. More of us are reading than ever before, and we are enjoying it. More authors are writing now than ever before, too. Amazon changed it all slowly, bit by bit, and in plane view of the world.

Fast forward to 2014 were we get to this fight that has everyone shouting vulgarities at each other….

Hachette was there when Amazon began, and they took no notice except for the fact that they were making more money selling books. 

Now, we are expected to believe that the company who ignored the requests of hundreds of (now) best-selling Authors to be published has Authors’ best interest in mind? I know we have all heard the story of an author submitting request after request to publishers, only to see rejections come flying at them faster than an under-cooked filet in a Gordon Ramsay restaurant. We are to believe that they have authors’ best interests at heart because they published (No offense intended, I seriously worship your writing!) J.K. Rowling?

No joke, everyone from Joe Konrath to, well, me, is talking about this fight. Though you won’t find as many, nor as novel-like lengthy (is that at word?) blog posts on my little corner of the internet, I happen to think Joe says it (just check out the last gazillion posts and you'll see) right. But for me it really all boils down to a few simple paragraphs.

You shouldn't sit on top for decades, squashing the competition that attempts to rise up. If you do, then you shouldn't sit by and watch someone build, piece by painstaking piece, over years and years, something that is innovative and promises to take your place, and do nothing about it. If you've already made these pitiful mistakes and can no longer compete in the market the way it is, you probably shouldn't start whining about how the big bad Amazon isn't fair to you because you’re not making enough money in a small investment business. You should have seen it coming and did something about it. I mean really, your business is books, right?

If you actually cared for the authors, and readers, you would have been the first to offer innovation. How hard would it have been to let authors publish under your imprint by letting us upload books, pay your editors to edit, pay your cover designers to design our cover, and when we are happy we hit the publish button and keep 35% of the profit? As it is, Self-published authors have to learn the hard way how to find  good editors and cover designers, often having to pay several times (we've paid for editing twice on all of our books, and may still do it again!) for a service we already thought was done correctly. I don’t think it is too late to do just that, either. Joe Konrath seems to think the Authors Guild should be responsible for that, but as a Self-Published, Award-Winning, Best-Selling author all I can say is: Authors Guild who?

A lot of people would pay good money to have Hachette edit their book, design their cover, and be listed as their publisher! Hachette could eliminate the need for authors to learn the hard way by only having to pay once for a service and have it handled by industry experts! Hachette would have to do nothing but let them use the name, and let’s face it there are a lot of crumby books that already have the Hachette name on them so they wouldn't lose any traction or respect from readers—we already know that books can’t be judged by their covers, or publisher. But does Hachette want to help authors and themselves, or just themselves?

If someone innovates your field, offer more innovation and keep the blame-thrower stowed neatly in the closet. Whining only earns the my disdain, not sympathy. I know Amazon would welcome innovation from you. Competition is good for business, and none of you are offering the reader, or the writer, anything of value that isn't already better on Amazon. Maybe you could offer the editing services before amazon starts doing it? I wouldn't put it passed them because they have a vested interest in the quality on their site. This is economics 101 folks.

Compete or die—it's that simple.