The Journal, Friday, 2/3

Hey Folks,

I almost made this a topic, but it’s mostly rambling so I didn’t.

Dean often says “Check in with yourself.” And I often do.

I’ve checked back over a lot of my Journal entries (that’s what it’s for on this end), and I’m seeing what I suspected. I tend to do my fastest and cleanest writing in that limited few hours from around noonish to 4. (But not today.)

This doesn’t mean I’m going to eschew writing from whenever I get up until noon. But it does mean one more stab at an adjustment (or perhaps a refocusing) on my work ethic and my physiology. (Starting later. I’ve already screwed up the morning today.)

Here’s the rationale: My body is already in the habit of waking from 2 – 3 a.m. Now I need to get my mind in the habit of writing from then until 5:30 or 6. Absolutely no reason I shouldn’t be able to knock out 2000 or more words early in the day.

But let me back up a bit for some of the newer subscribers. Why the odd hours?

Because I’m a stubborn sort.

I love the quiet of the world from 2 a.m. or so to 6 a.m. Also, I really don’t care for much of what passes for entertainment after around 8 p.m. Less-skilled actors delivering flat, lifeless lines and automatic laugh tracks killed that awhile back.

So why not sleep away B(rain)D(ead)TV and rise in the tranquility of the early morning?

Also I’ve never been good at bending to rules when the primary justification for those rules is “because everyone else does.” Ptah!

So I don’t “require at least 8 hours of sleep every night.” What a terrible waste would be spending a full 1/3 of my life in what amounts to suspended unanimation. (Of course, feel free to spend yours however you want.)

In fact, I hate that my stupid body seems to require even six hours of sleep. Even at that rate, if I lived to be 80, I would have spent 1/4 of my life in Catatonia Land. No, gracias. Or maybe I should say No, por favor because it seems to be happening that way.

But I digress.

Once I kick or adjust-to whatever currently has me all but locked in its evil clutches, I will focus on WRITING FICTION during those first few precious hours of the day.

But seriously… we’re all in the same footrace with Mortality, folks. And we all know up front that Mortality is going to win. What matters, at least in my corner of the world, is What Have I Accomplished?

And for me at least, that’s the best incentive of all.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out at 3:30 again, but another sluggish start. Generally did nothing of importance until around 6. Then I came here and wrote the stuff above this.

To the novel off and on. I “kept coming back,” but I didn’t do a lot while I was there.

A sluggish day in general. Ugh. But it’ll get better.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

Smashwords to Supply Nearly 300,000 Titles to Bibliotheca cloudLibrary (

Only a very short explanatory post over at Dean’s place.

Fiction Words: 2578
Nonfiction Words: 490 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 3068

Writing of Will Perkins (novel, working title)

Day 1…… 4219 words. Total words to date…… 4219
Day 2…… 4003 words. Total words to date…… 8222
Day 3…… 3383 words. Total words to date…… 11605
Day 4…… 3124 words. Total words to date…… 14729
Day 5…… 3373 words. Total words to date…… 18102
Day 6…… 2294 words. Total words to date…… 20396
Day 7…… 3102 words. Total words to date…… 23498
Day 8…… 2578 words. Total words to date…… 26076

Total fiction words for the month……… 7974
Total fiction words for the year………… 100584
Total nonfiction words for the month… 1040
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 20730

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 121314

Farewell, Smashwords, and Why

Hi Folks,

First a couple of announcements—

1. On September 23, Author Earnings released a new report that ALL writers should see. Especially if you’re locked into traditional publishing or if you’re on the fence.

The previous report I mentioned talks about market share in ebooks from traditional publishing vs. indie publishing. So it was kind of abstract.

But this report shows the actual distribution of income to individual authors who choose to publish traditionally vs. independently. This probably will surprise you. And if you’re an indie publisher, it will surprise you in a very good way. I encourage you go follow this link and sign up to get your own reports as they come out.

2. Yesterday, September 30 2015, was the final day for my Daily Journal blog. I created a spreadsheet that enables me to track what I write, how long it takes, and my daily, monthly and annual numbers. So no more need for the journal.

However, past editions of the journal will be available on this site for a limited time in case anyone wants to go back over some of them for the topics. Just click the tab.

3. And a note — If you self-publish, you are an indie publisher. If you publish through ANY subsidy publishing house — in other words, if you pay money to a publishing company to publish your work PLUS they keep a share of your royalties — you’re not an independent publisher. You’re just lost. Please don’t fall into that trap, and if you’re already in it, please do yourself a favor and break free. Every subsidy publisher, every place that charges you an up front fee PLUS keeps a share of your royalties, is a scam.

Okay, back to your regularly scheduled programming. (grin)

If you are an independent (self) publisher, this is an important post for you.

In the previous post, I busted a few of the myths of digital publishing. In that, I talked about the distributor, Smashwords. Recently I decided to leave Smashwords behind and switch all my distribution to Draft2Digital. Below is why.

Now this was strictly a business decision, as you’ll see below. If Smashwords cleans up their act quite a bit, I probably would go back to them, at least for partial distribution. This post appeared in slightly different form in my other blog, the Daily Journal.

Back in 2011, during the first year of the “gold rush” of electronic publishing, I signed up for a Smashwords account. Today, I have 143 books (nonfiction, novels, short stories and collections) published with them.

When I finished a work, whatever it was, first I published it to Smashwords. I allowed them to distribute it for me to 12 of 13 sales venues (all but Amazon). Then I published it to Amazon.

Enter Draft2Digital, a sleek new company that does what Smashwords does but MUCH more quickly and efficiently. They distribute to the same “big six” that Smashwords distributes to (Apple, B&N, Kobo, Inktera, Oyster, and Scribd) plus Tolino, a growing ebook store in Germany that was created specifically to rival Amazon.

Yesterday, I published a short story to D2D and Amazon, but for the first time, did NOT publish it to Smashwords. Why? Because then I’d have to clunk my way through the “opt out” radio buttons thirteen times so Smashwords would not distribute it (because D2D is distributing it).

Now admittedly, if I HAD done all that, the story would still be available in the Smashwords store, and I’m always advising writers to sell in as many markets as possible. But the thing is, having to spend a half-hour clunking around on Smashwords’ site just so a short story will be in their store… well, it simply isn’t worth the time.

Another thing, through the Smashwords online store I’ve sold mostly nonfiction. And most of that I’ve sold when I’ve created coupons for it, and then advertised the coupons. Again, it’s a lot of effort for very few sales.
I’m not lazy when it comes to expending necessary effort, but any time I spend uploading etc. is part of my investment in my writing. Since it’s part of the investment, I have to consider what return the effort will yield.

Here are a few stark numbers:

  • At it takes me about 15 minutes from clicking Create New Title to clicking Publish IF the process is uninterrupted by Amazon’s ridiculous page-loading times and jumping around. Probably the average time is 20 to 25 minutes. However, Amazon is currently my best venue, so the frustration, while annoying, is worthwhile.
  • At it takes me about 10 minutes to go from entering the title of my book to clicking Publish at the bottom of the form.
    • But then I have to go to their ISBN Manager to assign an ISBN for distribution to some of the big six as well as several tiny library venues (where I’ve never sold a book).
    • Then I have to go to their Channel Manager. There I have to find my book (there are three pages) and then click thirteen “opt out” radio buttons one at a time so Smashwords will not distribute to anyone except the online store.
    • Even after I’ve done all that, even though I’ve opted out of distribution to every place that requires an ISBN, I continue to see a message saying I need to assign an ISBN to my books. Very, very clunky system. I skip over the ISBN Manager since I no longer use them for distribution, but using the Channel Manager easily adds another 10 minutes and roughly half a ton of frustration to the process. Not worth it.
  • And D2D. Ahh, D2D. At it takes me about 3 minutes from Add New Book to Publish. On the final page I check the stores to which I want them to distribute my work (so seven checkmarks), verify that the work is either mine or that I have the rights to publish it, and I’m done. They assign an ISBN for the venues that require it, but I don’t have to do anything with that.

D2D does for me what Smashwords does but in a lot less time and with absolutely zero frustration. Score!

So for me, it’s bye-bye to Smashwords. I might put my major publications (novels, collections) up in their store, but frankly I doubt it. I really REALLY don’t like having to “opt out” 13 times per publication.

Now I’m a fair guy, so I will be addressing this issue with Mark Coker soon. Well, relatively soon. I probably won’t do so until I’ve moved my major nonfiction books over to D2D. Anyway, I’ll keep you updated, but I think he’s pretty entrenched in the way he does things.

So it’s like this. Five years ago, Mark and his company were on the cutting edge of ebook publishing and distribution. Today they’re eating dust from every other major player.

If you have any questions about any of this, I’d be happy to try to answer them for you. Please ask in the comments section below.

‘Til next time, happy writing.


PS: UPDATE: I’ve also found another sales venue. To look it over for yourself, visit OmniLit.

Note: If you find something of value in these posts or on this website, consider dropping a tip into Harvey’s Tip Jar on your way out or just click If you’ve already contributed, thanks so much. If you can’t make a monetary donation, please consider forwarding this post to a friend or several. (grin) Again, thank you.

The Journal, Friday, 8/21

The Day

Rolled out at 2 this morning. Checked email and saw that several revised/rebranded covers and Book 8 of the series were ready for proofing. So I got my coffee and started that process. Finished an hour or so later. Still amazes me that I have eight books out in that saga. Who’d’a thunk it?

Last night I figured I wouldn’t walk today. I would use my early morning hours to get a jump start on this novel. I would finish the slug work I mentioned yesterday and get into it. Okay, so that means no walk, no interruptions. Just writing, punctuated with occasional breaks.

Here begins the section on The Best Laid Plans.

Not going to walk today, I made an early breakfast (hash browns, eggs, sausage and dry rye toast). And one extra cup of coffee.

I’d already let the ladies outside. No sooner was my breakfast on the plate, cut up and all mushed together, than coyotes started howling. Coyotes have a really odd sense of humor, and impeccable timing.

Roughly an instant later, my little girl siamese was standing at the door separating the kitchen from the dining room asking politely to come inside until the coyotes stopped being rude. Good girl.

I let her in, then put my breakfast plate on the cabinet and covered it with a pan lid. I grabbed a flashlight, slipped on my flip-flops and went looking for the other girl, who is blacker than night and not easy to find even with a flashlight.

I circled the house twice. Yes, inside a fence, but the fence surrounds about a third of an acre and is filled with natural desert brush. You know that passage in the bible about wailing and gnashing of teeth? Yeah. It was like that.

Halfway through the third circuit I finally found her. In the dining room. At the door. Waiting to come in. Acting as if she’d been right there all along. Okay, good girl. Whatever.

Ate my cold breakfast, played two games of spider solitaire (the game should be outlawed), then answered some more email. And here I am, at 6:30 a.m., doing this and about to turn to the writing ‘puter for the first time. I’ll write the topic of the night later.

I’m going to try to keep better tabs on my writing/break habits. This is probably not innately interesting, but I’m hoping it will help me take a break every hour or so. Those of you who have been following this for awhile know I’ve been working on the concept of taking a break every hour or so for awhile now.

By the way, I received a nice acceptance email for a short story I sent to The Scribe, the magazine of the St. Louis Writers Guild. The magazine is free and has a lot of neat stuff in it. If you’d like a copy, visit Smashwords and download it in PDF, .mobi (Kindle) or .epub (all other readers).

By the way, the story in this issue is the very first short story I wrote by completely trusting my subconscious and writing off into the dark. If you read it, be sure to read the About the Author blurb afterward too. I think you’ll get a kick out of it.

Oof. MAJOR lightning strike on my position. Literally the loudest, sharpest sound I’ve ever heard. Not exaggerating. Man, that’ll get your ticker pumping. And no rain.

Took a break to hit the PO, then back here for lunch and a few minutes doing nothing, then back to the novel.

Topic of the Night: Writing Off Into the Dark

Very briefly, when you do this, you’re simply trusting your subconscious to tell the story. Believe me, it knows MUCH better than you do what needs to go into the story. Just trust it. And yes, saying that is much simpler than doing it. But once you learn to trust it, You Will See Miracles in your characters, settings, stories.

All of this was prompted by a comment from Bonnie, who complained that the killer in her WIP was not the person she thought it should be.

In my response, I reminded her to just write the next sentence, then write the next sentence, etc. and eventually the situation and the characters would reveal to her who the killer actually is.

And since it will be a surprise to her, it will also be a surprise to the reader. True dat.

Bradbury even once said if you can’t surprise yourself as a writer, how in the world do you expect to surprise the reader.

So again, learn to trust your subconscious. Nothing good in literature ever came out of the conscious mind.

Sit down, put your fingers on the keyboard, and just write the next sentence. And above all else, have fun. (grin)

I encourage you to read the exchange between Bonnie and me in the comments on yesterday’s post.

Today’s Writing

Wrote at several different times today for various lengths of time. Also did a lot of reading for various reasons. Came up with the name of an important horse, for example. That took close to an hour.

His name is Vuelo, by the way, which means Flight. He comes from the sacred cliffs (los acantilados sagrados) so it’s a good name for him. But it took awhile to get there. So that’s how much of the writing day went, which translates to another day with a short word count.

I took several short breaks during the day, so no fatigue from writing. But I did drag myself down with “necessary” things I had to do for the story.

This is going to be great fun for me when I break through the opening several pages. Looking forward to that.

Fiction Words: 1858

Writing of Book 9 of the Wes Crowley saga
Day 1…… 3213 words. Total words to date….. 3213 words
Day 2…… 1046 words. Total words to date….. 4259 words
Day 3…… 1858 words. Total words to date….. 6117 words

Total fiction words for the month…………… 15686
Total fiction words for the year……………… 458086