To a World Free of Cliché

Hey Folks,

Note: This post was originally scheduled for 1/10/2014. It didn’t post to MailChimp, so I’m posting it again now. I’ve revised the original post so it’s up to date.

Once upon a time, I edited a manuscript that was teeming with clichés, ripe to bursting with platitudes and filled to the brim with trite, self-serving crap.

It virtually screamed Look at me! Aren’t I wonderful? Aren’t I generous with my time and helpful in all things? Aren’t I just pretty much Oprah on steroids?

Of course, the clichés and platitudes were slumping along behind like great lummoxes, mumbling, Hey, uh, looky here. I ain’t never had one original thought, an’ I’m dang proud of it. This here’s m’nose-pickin’ finger. Yup, I’m dumber’s a bagga bricks.

Did you ever read something that actually made you recoil?

The unoriginal writing in that particular masterpiece bludgeoned me so strongly and so often that I wanted to curl into the fetal position and hide beneath my desk. I hoped the writing gods would come and spirit that evil piece of sh-riting from my laptop.

They didn’t. I’d gotten myself into it, they said, so I could get myself out. Ugh.

So why did I accept the manuscript for editing? I got lax.

Although the writer sent me the full manuscript per my request, I took the sample edit from the first few pages. It didn’t take long during the edit to realize those pages plus a few more had been previously edited so that they weren’t ugly, hairy legged, knuckle-dragging things slouching toward some poor, unsuspecting reader.

But hey, mea freakin’ culpa. I gritted my teeth and forced myself to  f-i-n-i-s-h   t-h-e   e-d-i-t. Have I mentioned how happy I am to be writing full time now?

But back to the original point. Far more important than me having to put up with a horrible, horrible, horrible, horrible, horrible—I suppose I could have written that (horrible)5—piece of writing was the realization that many writers, we who are supposed to be sources of original thought, simply aren’t.

So here’s a new rule for you, annotated to ease understanding. Not that YOU need it to be annotated—I realize that—but face it: some of the folks reading this are missing more than a few spots off their dominoes.

Strive (attempt with all the power of your will)

never (not even once)

to write (put pen to paper, fingertips to keyboard or mouth to recorder)

an unoriginal thought (a syllable or series of syllables that have been uttered before, by anyone, at any time, anywhere, ever)

except as you do so purposefully (intentionally, with intent, on purpose)

to create (cause to occur, bring into being)

a certain (premeditated, planned, intentional, particular)

effect (emotion, gasp, increase in heart rate, smile, chuckle, laugh, recoiling in horror, etc.)

in the reader (person whom you want to impress so much with your work that s/he will seriously consider breaking into your home just to learn more about you).

Again, Strive never to write an unoriginal thought except as you do so purposefully to create a certain effect in the reader.

That one rule would cover a LOT of the other lessons I’ve tried to teach writers over the years, especially if you include the use of the various marks of punctuation in that “create a certain effect in the reader” part. And you should.

Of course, if one of your characters actually speaks in clichés and utter platitudes per his role in society, that’s fine. Let him.

At least until you hire another character to fit the cliché-ridden guy with reinforced-concrete underwear and drop him off a pier somewhere.

Give me three hours’ notice and I’ll drive. Hey, I’ll even help you load him in the trunk. But your narrator… well now, that’s different.

See, thing is, you’re a Writer. You were brought into existence on this funny, filthy little blue marble to shake it the hell up, to look it in the eyes and dare it to say or do something that you can turn into a story.

And in your writing, although your characters will wander around being themselves (as they should), your narrator can’t.

The narrator describes the scene, period, albeit through the characters’ senses and the characters’ OPINION of that scene. The narrator provides a great transitory bridge between the colorful, magical world of your story and the grey-white, humdrum existence of your reader’s reality.

You and your narrator will describe the scenes in vibrant, expansive splashes of prose that leave the reader gasping for breath, not crawling under his desk to hide from an onslaught of boredom.

You and your narrator will make readers laugh until their sides ache, cry until they’re dry, or sleep for three weeks with one eye open.

You and your narrator are too intelligent to mumble clichés or platitudes when you have a perfectly good brain right there between your ears.

And I hope you’re just plain too stubborn to use something someone else has used a thousand times.

So get on with it!

‘Til next time, happy (original, unboring, unclichéd) writing!

Harvey

I am a professional fiction writer as well as a copyeditor. For details, or just to learn what comprises a good copy edit, please visit Copyediting.

If you’d like to get writing tips several times each week, pop over to my Daily Journal and sign up. In the alternative, you can also click the Pro Writer’s Journal tab on the main website at HarveyStanbrough.com.

Traditional Publishing: Just Don’t

Hi Folks,

Via The Digital Reader, The Huffington Post (whom I would never and am not now promoting) published an article titled “The 4 Great Myths of Book Publishing.”

You can read the full article at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/the-4-great-myths-of-book-publishing_us_5988e9ebe4b08a4c247f252d/ but I’ll save you the trouble.

There are actually a lot more myths about traditional publishing than four, but we’ll go with the ones they list.

According to the article, the myths are that a traditional publisher will

  • aggressively promote your book to the widest possible readership,
  • ensure your book gets on the shelves of all the nation’s bookstores,
  • print your book’s text in exactly the way you conceive and arrange it, and
  • provide you with a sizable monetary advance.

Of course, the article goes on to say no, they won’t. Because No, They Won’t.

The “remedy” the author of the article recommends for points 1, 2, and 4 (3 is just silly) is to do it yourself. But still use a traditional publisher.

So let me get this straight:

According to the author of the article, you should develop your own promotion plan, promote your book aggressively yourself to ensure more people order it in bookstores, “be flexible” regarding layout, and “be grateful if you’re offered any advance at all.”

So in addition to writing the book in the first place, you have to do everything else too. Okay, I’m good with that.

But in return for your effort, you should still give ALL RIGHTS FOR THE LIFE OF THE COPYRIGHT to the traditional publisher and receive around 12% of the net royalties for as long as they decide to sell your book.

Oh, and if you also have an agent, he/she gets 15% of that 12%.

Uhhhhh, no.

This is it, folks. This truly is your forehead slapping moment. Please don’t pass it up.

If you have to do all that anyway, Publish It Yourself and pocket 100% of the net royalties.

And MOST importantly, Keep Your Copyright (your property) for the rest of your life plus 70 years.

You STILL have to develop your own promotion plan, aggressively promote your book, and you can do the layout yourself (or pay to have it done — see https://covertoupload.com/).

Of course, you’ll have to forego receiving an advance you wouldn’t have gotten anyway. Darn it. Oh, and somewhere, some village idio— er, agent — will go a little hungry. But so what?

Copyright is property, folks. Your property.

Don’t give it away, and don’t sell out for a pittance.

Harvey

Why Do You Write?

Note: This post was originally scheduled for October 2014. It didn’t post to MailChimp, so I’m posting it again now. I’ve revised the original post A LOT so it’s up to date.

Hi Folks,

In my years of dealing with other writers, I’ve heard a few clichéd thoughts. In every case, the clichés are caused by the same old myths we’ve all been taught and bought into to one degree or another.

One of the more prevalent myths is that writing for money somehow taints the pure art of writing.

The truly hilarious kicker here is that although writing fiction is as much a pure art as painting or sculpting, most would-be writers don’t present their pure art. (Especially those in Group Three below, but don’t skip down.)

They edit and wheedle and whittle away until what was originally pure looks just like they believe it “should” look, which is like everyone else’s stuff.

It’s extremely difficult to be “special, just like everyone else.” 🙂

Okay, but this post is about the nonsense that writing for money is not a good thing. I’ll deal with the art side of this another time.

“Oh, I Don’t Write for Money,” (he said, one forearm draped dramatically over his forehead as a glass of wine and a cheese stick balanced precariously in his other hand.)

First, a disclaimer — I am aware there are folks out there who are not writers and don’t care to be. That’s fine. What follows is about those who are or claim to be writers.

Over all the years when I was goofy enough to believe I was making a difference presenting in writers’ conferences and sitting on panels (there’s a waste of time you’ll never get back) in genre conventions, I must have heard it at least a thousand times: “Oh, I’m not into writing for money.”

And every single time, for me, that begged the question, “Then why in the world are you here?” I mean seriously, if you don’t write for money, why are you spending money on the latest conference, convention, or seminar?

Okay, some folks love learning strictly for the sake of learning. Got it.

But what about the other five or six out of a bajillion?

Now don’t get angry. Coming from a (former) writing instructor, “Why do you write?” is a completely valid question. But really, it’s strictly rhetorical.

The fact is, writers who say they don’t write for money belong in one of four groups:

Group One consists of hobby writers.

They really don’t write for money. They also don’t invest much of their own time and money in learning how to write. When they do invest money in their writing, it’s for a good and specific reason.

These are the ones the other family members turn to when someone has to write a eulogy. Perhaps they write to leave a legacy—perhaps a memoir or a family history—so descendants will have a record.

Perhaps they pay a proofreader or copyeditor to clean up the writing a bit, and they might even attend a writing workshop or two. That’s perfectly understandable. Absolutely nothing wrong with being a hobby writer.

Group Two are the same folks, but they harbor a secret desire to be professional writers.

They really don’t write for money either. And they hedge their bets by not investing much of their own time and money in learning how to write. If they don’t learn, they have no reason to write seriously and they will never risk failure.

However, they’re so overcome by the fear of failure that they will never seriously consider themselves writers, nor expect others to consider them writers.

That’s okay too if they can’t overcome the fear, but I hope they find something they love to do and do that instead.

Group Three consists of those who are not writers, will never be writers, and know it. They are who this topic is really all about.

They say that they don’t write for money in a tone that indicates they’re bragging. They believe themselves above scrabbling for the filthy lucre, and generally — if they actually write at all — they’re in pursuit of writing The Great American Novel.

They have an elevated calling, you see, and they’re above the whole sordid mess in which we mere mortals are entangled.

However, for some reason they believe others see them as writers (Pssst! No, we don’t.) and they attach some elevated importance to that as well. They would fit right into the Brit TV show Keeping Up Appearances, and any one of them could play the role of Hyacinth. And they’re precisely as annoying.

Those in this group spend sometimes vast amounts of money on appearing to be a writer. But learning and honing the craft doesn’t matter. Appearance — what others believe about them — is everything.

Shrug. Stretch. Yawn. Okay. Whatever.

Those in Group Four are writers, or at least aspirants who have a real shot at being writers.

Those say (usually humbly) that they don’t write for money either. But they invest time and money wisely in learning and honing the craft. (Like those in Group Two, they’re also hedging their bets, but only out of fear of rejection.) We can lump them in with those in Group Five.

Everyone else belongs in Group Five. They are writers. They never utter “I don’t write for money” unless they’re being sarcastic.

These folks have learned what those in Group Three will never learn: If you want to write, write. It’s that simple.

Neither do they think nonstop of all the money they’re going to make. That isn’t what it’s about. They just write.

As one personal example, I seriously doubt I’ll ever make a solid living with my writing. But I also seriously expect my grandchildren and great-grandchildren will rake in cash by the barrel load. And that’s fine. But I get all the fun of telling the stories and putting them out there. (grin)

Let’s pause here for a moment so you can do a quick self-assessment if you want to. Nobody’s judging. Whether and why you belong in any of the first four groups is strictly up to you to decide.

Okay, all done?

Good. Now, here’s what you do.

If you belong in Group One, Two or Three, you can go home now.

Stop reading this and go find something fun to do.

Why? Because I see no reason to take you seriously, or at all, as a writer. And frankly, if you’re in Group One or Two, you don’t expect me to. In fact, you’re probably laughing along with the rest of us.

If you’re in Group Three — well, sorry.

I realize you expect the rest of us to not only realize you’re a writer but admire your tenacity, etc. Here you go. Let’s see if I can hit the high spots:

  • You expect the rest of us to grovel and beg for an autographed copy of your recent release.
  • You authored your book (but not for filthy lucre) and are selling for some exorbitant amount because it’s Just That Good.
  • Oh, and because you paid some subsidy publisher a few thousand dollars to like it enough to publish it.

That about right?

You’re also probably madder than eight wildcats in an oil drum right now. But really, just chill and go find something you actually enjoy doing. Seriously.

Now, if you’re in Group Four or Five (Bonnie), hey, this entire post celebrates you. I’m pulling for you, I’m proud of you and I’m glad you’re one of us.

Keep learning, keep writing, and keep making wise investments in your education.

But don’t tell people you aren’t writing for money. Just keep having fun making stuff up.

‘Til next time, happy writing (or whatever you most enjoy doing).

Harvey

I am a professional fiction writer. If you’d like to get writing tips several times each week, pop over to my Daily Journal and sign up. In the alternative, you can also click the Pro Writer’s Journal tab on the main website at HarveyStanbrough.com.

Scammers in Pretty Clothing

Note: This post was originally scheduled for early 2015. It didn’t post to MailChimp, so I’m posting it again now. I’ve revised the original post so it’s up to date.

This post first appeared in slightly different form as an article in the November 2014 issue of  the Society of Southwestern Authors (SSA) newsletter, The Write Word.

Hey Folks,

I recently received an email from a place called Publish Wholesale. They were interested in “publishing my manuscript for less.” For just less than $1000, they offered all the same “features” offered by scammers who charge sometimes 4 or 5 times more.

But the specific name of the subsidy publisher doesn’t matter. A scam is a scam, and all subsidy publishers are scams. All of them. Period.

DON’T  CONFUSE  SUBSIDY  PUBLISHING  WITH  SELF-PUBLISHING.
THEY’RE  NOT  THE  SAME THING.

1. WHEN YOU USE A SUBSIDY PUBLISHER

  • You pay an up-front fee, usually hundreds or thousands of dollars, to publish your work. Most of them then continue to up-sell you on other services or products or offer as premiums things that you could easily get free by yourself (a website or a Facebook or Twitter account, for example).
  • The publishing company retains ownership of all files they create during the process (Read the Contract!) including the text and cover and the website if they create one for you. If you decide later you want to self-publish, you have to pay a stiff penalty to retrieve your own work, and often the company’s watermark will be imbedded on every page so you have to retype the whole thing anyway.
  • The publishing company insists on receiving a split of your royalties. (Seriously? Are you kidding me? You paid them to publish your work. That should be their total cut.)  In other words, they continue to charge you a fee for publishing your work. Again, read the contract.

2. WHEN YOU CHOOSE TO SELF-PUBLISH, you have two options: you either format your document for ebook and/or print yourself and design your own cover, or you pay someone to do those things for you. Whether you do it yourself or pay someone to prep the files for you

  • YOU retain ownership of your copyright and all of your files, including the cover(s).
  • YOU retain 100% of net royalties.

Formatting your Word document for epublication and/or POD publication is not difficult, but it is a tedious and exacting process. If you don’t want to take the time to learn to do this yourself, I recommend paying someone to do it for you. My recommendation is ArenaPublishing.org, a service provider, not a subsidy publisher.

The book cover is the first thing the potential reader sees. Creating an attractive, attention-grabbing cover is essential. Whatever you do, don’t just slap something together for a cover and declare it “good enough.” It isn’t, and it will cost you sales.

I’ve seen a LOT of amateur covers on what might be very well-written books. A bad cover will cost you a lot of sales. Don’t skimp in this area.

I recommend downloading the free version of Serif’s PagePlus desktop publishing software. It rivals Adobe’s program and even the full Serif PagePlus program is only a fraction of the cost of anything Adobe makes. I use Serif PageMaker (the full version) to create all my covers.

But again, if you don’t want to learn to do this yourself, let someone else do it for you. Again, I recommend ArenaPublishing.org. Even more strongly, I recommend Cover to Upload.

Copyediting too, is essential. I am a professional fiction writer as well as a copyeditor. For details, or just to learn what comprises a good copy edit, please visit Copyediting. It costs less than you think.

WE’RE LIVING IN A BRAVE NEW WORLD OF PUBLISHING. As an example, in the 16 days between October 27 and November 12 of 2014, I compiled and published five 5-story collections of short fiction, three 10-story collections of short fiction, and a novel. All of those were available as ebooks in over 90 nations worldwide and as print books within a week or so of publication.

UPDATE: Between April 15, 2014 and September 14, 2016 (so 2 years and 5 months) I’ve written and published over 1,500,000 words of new original fiction. That includes over 150 short stories, nineteen novels and a novella. I’m also 4,000 words into my twentieth novel. That’s what’s possible in this wonderful new world of publishing.

These publications didn’t cost me a dime out-of-pocket because I did the formatting and covers myself. I retain ownership of all my files, and I retain 100% of net royalties.

Even if I had paid say $200 to get each of these titles out there, that would be my total expenditure, period. It’s an investment. I’ll never spend another dime on them, and the passive income from them will continue for 70 years after my death.

Because they’re all self-published, there are no royalty splits, no returns, no torn-off covers, no remainders. There is no “shelf life” as there is with traditional publishing. And like I said above, these stories—individually, in collections, and the novel—will continue to bring in passive income until 70 years after my death. Again, that’s passive income. If I work, it comes in. If I stop working, it still comes in. And when I kick off, it will still come in for my children and grandchildren.

So don’t be confused over self-publishing vs. subsidy publishing. Self-publishing is a very good thing. Subsidy publishing is a scam, period. A subsidy publisher can’t do ANYthing for you that you can’t do for yourself at either no cost or low cost.

For a lot more on self-publishing, visit http://harveystanbrough.com/downloads. It’s free. You won’t be sorry.

Next up in this series of posts, some tips on Starting and Restarting your writing.

‘Til next time, happy writing!

Harvey

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. If you’ve already contributed, Thanks!

I am a professional fiction writer as well as a copyeditor. For details, or just to learn what comprises a good copy edit, please visit Copyediting. It costs less than you think.

If you’d like to get writing tips several times each week, pop over to my Daily Journal and sign up. In the alternative, you can also click the Pro Writer’s Journal tab on the main website at HarveyStanbrough.com.

 

On the Theft of Ebooks

Note: This post was originally scheduled for late 2014. It didn’t post to MailChimp, so I’m posting it again now. I’ve revised the original post so it’s up to date.Hi Folks,

This is a necessary post. There is a subculture out there who seems to believe anything electronic is up for grabs, that it belongs to everyone at once. It doesn’t.

My unintentional mentor, Dean Wesley Smith, recently (as I write this) posted a blog regarding the fact that ebooks differ from paper books in that courts have established customers do not “own” an ebook once they buy it.

That’s true, of course. When you buy an ebook, you are only licensing it. It’s no different than “buying” a movie. You don’t own the movie. You own the right to view it for awhile. Same with an ebook.

Note: that’s why ebooks generally cost a lot less than paper books. Duh.

Well, his post, incredibly, incited a lot of WRITERS to comment on various and sundry ways to STEAL the copyrighted work in ebooks! Seriously!

Why would ANY writer even condone stealing copyrighted material, much less advise people on how to do so? Are they freaking mental?

So all of that is what has brought me to this:

For the first time in a very long time, I’m glad I found Writing Into the Dark at such an advanced age.

Yes, I do writing into the dark.

Like Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Ray Bradbury and practically EVERY other major successful long-term fiction writer. It just means I don’t outline something to death and then rewrite everything and then run it past a critique group and then polish my own unique voice off of it just because some non-writer in my past told me that’s what I have to do.

Besides, frankly I Don’t Have Time for all that. I’m too busy writing the next story.

But I stand pretty much NO chance of becoming a “long-term” professional author because I got started (in a serious, my-writing-comes-first kind of way) far, far too late.

Will I sell enough to make a living? Probably, but maybe not. The point is, I’m old enough not to be concerned about it. But I digress.

Frankly, if someone cares enough to steal some of my work, well, I just have to hope that will be the exception rather than the rule. I’m not flattered and I don’t think it’s a minor thing. I feel pity for anyone who would deny an author the price of his or her book. That is the height of selfishness and greed.

If you buy my work and want to share it with your spouse or significant other, that’s fine. I personally have no problem with that. But if you steal it outright, or if you buy it once and then share it with several of your friends, you’re taking money out of my pocket.

If the book cost $5 and you shared it with twenty of your closest friends, you’ve just stolen $100 from my bank account.

Don’t shake your head. It’s EXACTLY the same thing.

Now, there is a thing called Digital Rights Management. A lot of new authors (who generally do not understand copyright) tend to use it.

Let me state unequivocally, I will never use DRM. It sends the wrong message to readers. Using DRM says I don’t trust them.

And the fact is, I’ve always been the sort who will trust you until you prove to me I can’t. Then I won’t have anything more to do with you, period.

I will continue to publish both ebooks and print as long as I am able, and I will continue to write my a*s off, as much as I can, every single day that I can, and I will continue to just enjoy the process.

For example, I wrote over 4,000 new words of fiction on Thanksgiving Day (2014). I hope I’ll have that good of production every day, yes, including Christmas. And I will just enjoy the process.

I am a professional writer and I am extremely fortunate, not because of what I’ve sold or hope to sell, but because writing, putting new words on the page in the form of short stories and novels, is what I do. It’s my day job.

Do I wish I’d been involved with my contemporaries, Dean Wesley Smith, Kris and the others from the very beginning? Oh HELL yes. If I had, today I would be a best-selling internationally known author with a hundred or so novels under my belt, as well as countless short stories.

But that isn’t the way it worked out. (shrug) And as for those who feel it’s all right to STEAL the content in ebooks and all the rest of it? There’s so little I can do about it that I find it healthier (for me) not to worry about it.

Listen up— No matter how they justify taking someone else’s copyrighted material without paying for it, thieves are thieves, period. They have no honor, and they are not worthy of my time.

Until next time, happy writing.

Harvey

I am a professional fiction writer. If you’d like to get writing tips several times each week, pop over to my Daily Journal and sign up. In the alternative, you can also click the Pro Writer’s Journal tab on the main website at HarveyStanbrough.com.

“Real” Books vs. Ebooks

Hey Folks,

Note: If you’re one who prefers reading paper books over ebooks, that’s fine. I’m happy for you. Enjoy. This post is not to bash you, but to shed some light on some misconceptions that have been circulating far too long.

On my Facebook pages, I recently announced the BundleRabbit bundle (Guns of the West) that includes two of my books, two of DWS’ books, and one each by five other writers. (You can see it at https://bundlerabbit.com/b/guns-west/.)

I’ve had a great response thus far, and I know at least 20 people have bought the bundle as a result of my letting them know it was available.

I hope the old “80-20” rule holds in this case. (grin) And if you’re one of those who has already plopped down $2.99 (no tax) of your hard-earned cash for the bundle, thank you.

But this morning, I checked Facebook to find this question and comment:

“Can’t I buy the actual books? I don’t like reading on line. I like to hold the real books in my hand.”

This question/comment is flawed on at least three levels, which I find amazing in our current age of technology.

It’s like saying you’d rather watch a “real” film in a theater for $15 a pop instead of buying it on DVD for $5 or $6.

“But the movie is the same,” detractors say.

Yes. It is. And the ebook is the same. Every word.

Okay, so here are my responses to the three flaws in the question/comment:

One, ebooks ARE “actual books.” Every word of every story or novel is included in both ebook and paper editions. The assertion that a paper edition is “real” intimates that the ebook edition is not, and that’s an insult to the author.

Additionally, the ebook edition often contains little extras that are not available in paper editions (just as the DVD of a film often does). In my ebooks, I include those extras as a special Thank You for not insulting me and for being wise with your money.

Two, you don’t have to read ebooks “on line.” To continue the analogy with film, this is like saying “I don’t like to watch movies on my TV.”

You can read ebooks on your phone unless it’s the kind that’s permanently tethered to the wall. You can also read them in .mobi (Kindle), .epub (Apple, B&N and others), or .pdf formats on dedicated e-readers made by numerous manufacturers.

If you don’t want to spend the money to buy a dedicated e-reader (I don’t blame you), you can download a free app for your phone or your computer and read them on that. You can find links to a few free e-readers on my website under the Readers’ Resources tab in the left sidebar.

But with current novel prices at around $16 and up for paper books and $5 for ebooks, a dedicated e-reader pays for itself pretty quickly.

Three, it really isn’t that difficult to find out whether a title is available in both paper and ebook. Simply key a title or author that interests you into any search engine (or Amazon or Barnes & Noble) and see what pops up in paper and ebook editions.

Identical titles are most often displayed alongside each other, which I particularly like as a writer and as a proponent of ebooks because it gives the reader an immediate price comparison.

If you key in “Harvey Stanbrough The Right Cut” for example, the first four entries are Amazon Kindle, Amazon paper edition, Smashwords (ebook only but with a link to the paper edition) and a single entry for Barnes & Noble.

Then the listings continue with Amazon UK, Amazon Japan, etc.

At B&N, you DO have to click one more time (See All Formats and Editions) to learn that the book is available in both ebook ($6.99) and paper ($15.99).

And that’s just for The Right Cut, the last book in the Wes Crowley Series.

You can also buy the entire 10-novel series in paper for around $150, or you can buy all 10 novels in one big volume (but still with all 10 covers plus the cover for the compilation) in ebook for $20.

As an added bonus, if you’re going on vacation and you don’t want to limit your reading choices, you can carry an extra bag with several of your wanna-read-someday paperbacks, or you can simply slip your e-reader (or phone) into your bag and carry them all that way. I prefer less weight.

Finally, Support Your Favorite Authors.

Strictly as an example, if you buy the ebook version of The Right Cut, I’ll earn 70% of the purchase price. You’ll spend $5.99, and I’ll get $4.19.

But if you buy the paper version for $16.99, I’ll earn about $2 per sale. Yes, that’s two dollars. It’s also very bad math from a standpoint of personal economics.

(Yes, writers who are dedicated to publishing only paper editions, I can earn more per sale if I want to order a stack of them myself, then schlep them around in the bed of my pickup or sell them at book signings, etc. But I’d really rather be writing, wouldn’t you?)

So the upshot is, the reader spends more per book for the paper edition, and the author gets less. As Yakov Smirnov used to say, What a country, eh?

Ebooks are here, folks. They aren’t going away. And they’re a boon to readers, not something we writers do to annoy you.

Chances are you already have the ability to read ebooks in your smart phone or on the tablet you carry with you pretty much everywhere you go. The app is free and the SAME STORIES cost a lot less. What in the world is the downside here?

Please, dive on into the 21st century and let’s get back to things that actually matter, like writing more stories.

Oh, and if any of you writers out there are not publishing your works as ebooks yet, feel free to ask me anything you want. I’ll be happy to help.

‘Til next time, happy writing and reading,

Harvey

What’s Your Incentive?

Hi Folks,

I’ve long needed a specific incentive to do anything, to strive toward any goal, to achieve any level of success.

I love telling stories. But that doesn’t provide me with the appropriate incentive to spend hours in the chair writing.

I’d also love to make a good living with sales of my fiction, but because I’m a realist, that doesn’t provide even the slightest impetus. The fact is, these things take time, and frankly, I’m an old guy. I have better things to do—like write—than check sales figures several times a day.

I also love it when people say nice things about my writing.

Of my very first novel, my very first reviewer said it was “a great story” and “one of the most tightly plotted novels” he’d ever read.

Woohoo! Score! Especially given that I wrote that novel in 20 days, just writing off into the dark. No plotting, no planning. The “plot” was a Bradbury Plot, the one the characters left as they ran through the story.

But what others think or say about my writing doesn’t provide incentive either, or even validation really, because it’s all up to them and their own tastes. It’s outside my control.

Different people need different incentives to write. I get that.

And the same people are affected by different incentives at different times of their life.

I can’t honestly say what my primary incentive might have been had I stumbled across Heinlein’s Rules and the Writing Off Into the Dark technique when I was 20. I like to think it would have remained the same.

That primary incentive is mortality.

For me, it’s all a big, wonderful game. How many stories can I tell before I check out of this particularly odd little hotel? Specifically, how many novel-length stories?

Since I effectively started writing fiction in 2014, for me to spend the “40 years in the business” that professional fiction writer and extremely good instructor Dean Wesley Smith often touts, I’d have to live, actively, until I’m 102.

Yeah, okay. Ain’t gonna happen. Family history, health issues over which I have zero control, yada yada yada plus my own impatience to see what’s next precludes any chance of that.

I just want to turn out as many good stories as I can.

And my secondary incentive? There’s nothing better for me than to be the First Person who gets to be entertained by the stories my characters tell.

That provides a sense of wonder. And although that sense of wonder doesn’t drive me to the keyboard (mortality does that), it does make me look forward to what will happen when I put my fingers on the keyboard.

Which I’m going to do right now.

‘Til next time, happy writing!

Harvey

Rebuilding, and an Exciting Announcement

Hey Folks,

I’m sending this to all subscribers to the Pro Writers blog and the Free Story of the Week posts.

The Pro Writers posts will resume on Tuesday, June 27. This is a special post to notify you of updates and some exciting news. The Free Story of the Week will be supplanted with the challenge I outline below.

Basically, I’m decluttering and revamping my websites, and I’m prepping to begin a new long-term writing challenge that many of you might find interesting.

First, re the websites….

StoneThread Publishing — I’m giving up on StoneThread Publishing as a separate entity.

StoneThread was designed to give discounts to booksellers and private readers. Thus far (after almost two years) not one bookseller and few, if any, readers have taken advantage of it.

I’ll retain the name as my publisher, of course, unless I get a really good offer.

HEStanbrough.com — This is the once and future home of The Daily Journal.

I’m sending the Journal back down to the minor leagues beginning today. (grin) Those who are subscribed shouldn’t notice a difference.

I moved the Journal to the main site almost exactly two years ago in hopes of garnering new subscribers. But that hasn’t happened, so away it goes. This move will help declutter the main website. From now on, only the Pro Writers blog posts will appear on the main site.

Also, as more Topics from The Daily Journal become Pro-Writers blog posts, there will be less overlap on the main site. So you folks who subscribe only to Pro Writers will get the best of the topics without having to subscribe to The Daily Journal.

If you’d like to subscribe to the Journal anyway, just click the link in the header on the main website.

HarveyStanbrough.com — This is my main website. First, I’m simplifying the menu (I started that yesterday). If you have a moment, take a look and let me know in the comments what you think.

I’m also transfering everything from StoneThread Publishing (individual book pages, etc.) over to this main site. Then I’ll link the StoneThread URL to the main site. I should be finished with this process in a few days.

Now to one more website and the challenge I mentioned above:

HStanbrough.com — This is the new Writing in Public site. This is my modern-day effort to recreate what Harlan Ellison did in a storefront display window several decades ago.

Harlan set up a table and a typewriter in that display area. Then he wrote short stories, one after another, as people watched from the sidewalk. As he finished each page, he taped it to the window so the gathered folks could read the story as it progressed.

I will do the same thing, except I’m posting them online one scene or chapter at a time. No rewriting, no editing, no sleight of hand. I’ll try to remember to spell check them, but that’s it.

Only those who subscribe to HStanbrough.com will witness my efforts to write short stories (and maybe novellas and novels) “in public,” posted one scene or one chapter at a time.

Whether you’re a writer or a reader, if you’ve ever wondered how a story grows from idea through the finished product — or, bless your heart, if you’ve ever wondered how I do that with my stories — this is an excellent opportunity to watch the process unfold.

Everybody who watches NASCAR or Indy car racing watch for one of two reasons: To see whether their favorite driver will prevail or to witness the wrecks first hand.

Wanna see me succeed and watch as I’m building stories? Subscribe. Wanna see me crash and burn? Subscribe. (grin)

Either way, I’ll be glad to have you along.

But don’t dawdle. The new Writing in Public challenge will begin on July 1 at the latest. But knowing me, there’s a good chance it will begin sooner than that.

Note: My efforts at writing in public will replace the Free Story of the Week. But I can’t transfer subscriptions.

If you want to watch me create new stories, you will have to visit Writing in Public at http://hstanbrough.com to subscribe. That subscription goes through a different service so subscribers will get an email update each time I post a new scene or chapter (instead of once per day via MailChimp).

I hope to see you there.

Thanks for your patience, and for being here in the first place. Now back to the work in progress on the websites.

‘Til next time, happy writing!

Harvey

The Journal, Thursday, 6/22

Hey Folks,

Well, I’m back in St. David. Left Alamo this morning around 2:30 a.m. and got here at around 8. It was a good trip, and very enjoyable, but I need to get back to what I do.

Although I hoped to write while I was gone, it just wasn’t in the cards.

For one thing, on the travel days I was tireder than I used to be after a trip like that. On the visiting days, I felt more relaxed to just let things flow than I used to. And that’s more or less what happened.

Not sure whether I’ll write anything today either. Today feels like a “parts” day. I’ll put away things from the trip, get a few chores done, and take care of some other “parts” of what I usually do when I’m here.

And I’ll get ready mentally to storm back into writing.

Of course, if a pressing idea hits, all bets are off.

Today, and Writing

Nope, no writing today. Still looking forward to that writing in public challenge, though, and to my next novel, whatever it’ll be.

See you tomorrow.

Of Interest

Please see Dean’s “I Get Startled At Times” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/i-get-startled-at-times/. Perfectly said.

Fiction Words: XXXX
Nonfiction Words: 210 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 210

Writing of

Day 1…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month……… 45050
Total fiction words for the year………… 337957
Total nonfiction words for the month… 12820
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 102800
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 440757

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………………… 574 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels or novellas)………………… 7 novels or novellas
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 25
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 4
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………………… 176

The Journal, Wednesday, 6/21

Hey Folks,

Well, zero fiction writing yesterday. Frankly, the trip took more out of me than I expected it to.

No AC in my pickup currently, so it was six hours of heat, being buffeted by the wind, and noise. (grin) A true adventure.

And it was only six hours, but it’s been a long time since I did a road trip of any significant length.

Anyway, so last night, after squaring away a few things about the room, I researched Kickstarter a bit, did some other similar business-related things, then settled in for some TV to west my widdle bwain.

Traveling regionally and visiting today, so again I’ll post this early then update it later if necessary and if possible.

Maybe writing, maybe not. No big deal. I WILL be doing another writing in public challenge soon. Probably I’ll begin that within the next few days.

I’m excited about that, but too pooped to do anything about it at the moment.

***

In “Of Interest” today, Nate Hoffelder lists “Six Sites With Truly Free eBooks.”

In the article, he writes “[S]ometimes I need a site that has ebooks worth reading, doesn’t have DRM, and doesn’t require an account.”

So “ebooks worth reading” but apparently not “worth reading” enough to warrant actually paying the writers for their efforts. Hmm.

On his website, Nate also offers “Help for Authors” in the form of website development and on-demand tech support. He doesn’t provide those services free, though, so I guess I’ll pass.

Oh, but he does offer a “free website critique.” So I wrote him to request that. I’ll report on how it goes. Now if I could just find a few sites that list free plumbing, mechanic services, carpentry, etc.

Anyway, to take advantage of that free critique, visit https://the-digital-reader.com/wordpress-support-design/website-critique-analysis/ and fill out the form.

Today, and Writing

It’s looking more and more like I won’t write during this trip. Busy visiting today and probably heading back early (way pre-dawn) tomorrow morning.

See you tomorrow.

Of Interest

On The Digital Reader this morning, Nate Hoffelder lists “Six Sites With Truly Free eBooks” at https://the-digital-reader.com/2014/03/16/5-sites-with-truly-free-ebooks/. You already know what I think.

If you’re a cat fanatic, check “Time for a Cat Update” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/time-for-a-cat-update/.

Fiction Words: XXXX
Nonfiction Words: 360 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 360

Writing of

Day 1…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month……… 45050
Total fiction words for the year………… 337957
Total nonfiction words for the month… 12610
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 102590
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 440547

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………………… 573 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels or novellas)………………… 7 novels or novellas
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 25
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 4
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………………… 176