Tag Archive for dead trees

Finding Markets With Duotrope

DuotropeDuring my snail mail days (2006-2010), I found new markets to submit my short stories via the Writer’s Digest annual market guides. Every six weeks I would thumbed through my worn copy, read the market descriptions, make a list, and send out another two-dozen short stories to face a cruel world of rejections. That changed when I started submitting short stories via email and came across Duotrope.

The Writer’s Digest market guides became the writing bible since the 1920’s. As a teenaged wannabe writer, I checked out the previous market guides from the library to read the articles and see how the markets changed year-to-year from the 1960’s to the 1980’s. So ingrained that the market guides were back then, a magazine editor took me to task for submitting a manuscript by not reading the current 1984 market guide and cited the 1980 market guide that I did use. Comparing the two volumes side-by-side, there was a big change in the market description.

The market guides have gotten thinner and thinner over the years as rising paper and postage costs drastically reduced the number of magazine publishers, and the traditional publishing houses merged from many independent rivals to a few conglomerates. As I made the transition to submitting exclusively via email, I could no longer justify the cost of a thinner market guide.

Consulting printed volumes in the Internet age often meant finding market descriptions stale and out of date most of the time. Although you could go to the publisher website or send off a self-addressed stamped envelope (S.A.S.E) for the latest writer’s guidelines, you had to wait until the next volume came out to discover new markets. Not all publishers went through the trouble of being listed. Writers needed an online service to search market listings.

Duotrope came on the scene in 2005 as a free service, and recently became a subscription service for $5 USD per month or $50 USD per year. It’s worth every penny. With ~5,000 fiction, non-fiction and poetry markets are available to search by title, genre, length, payments, and submission type (electronic or postal). If you use the submission tracker, you can contribute to the statistics for each market by how long it takes for a publisher to respond to each submission and the acceptance-to-rejection ratio.

I’ve found many market listings that I submitted my short stories and poems to over the years. According to the submission tracker, I currently have a 22% acceptance rate (4.9% for short stories, 61% for poems) for the past year. My favorite feature is the weekly email that lists new markets, recently opened/closed markets, and submission deadlines for themed anthologies. I scanned the approaching deadlines to submit recently rejected short stories or find writing prompts for new short stories in the near future.

Writer’s Digest had an online service called Writers Market for many years. The service was often bundled with the deluxe edition of Writer’s Market at $70 USD per year. Not too surprising that Writer’s Digest would overprice their online service to protect their printed monopoly. The service is now available for $5.99 USD per month or $39.99 USD per year. With prices being more reasonable, I might give it a try someday. Until then I’m using Duotrope.

Throwing The Book At Stephen King On Twitter

The Real Stephen King On TwitterStephen King made his first appearance on Twitter this week. I found out when another writer re-tweeted his initial tweet: “My first tweet. No longer a virgin. Be gentle!”

(Uh, huh. Where’s my cattle prod?)

Since I haven’t been to a Stephen King book signing (yet), I haven’t had an opportunity to complain to him about killing off my favorite character in “Cell” that made me throw the paperback against the wall.

My first tweet to him was just that: “I threw ‘Cell’ against the wall & let sit on floor for week after girl got killed at NH/Maine border. WTF, @StephenKingAuth? :P”

“Cell” came out as a premium-format paperback in late 2006. The new paperback format was taller with a larger font size and a higher $9.99 USD sticker price than the typical mass market paperback. As a teenager in the early 1980’s, I could get ten paperbacks for $30 USD (which was my weekly allowance from my indulgent mother). I can barely buy three paperbacks for $30 USD, although it’s possible to get ten ebooks for $30 USD.

The book begins with a mysterious signal going out over the cellphone network that turns everyone into a zombie. That’s not an original idea. Having seen both the Japanese (2001) and American (2006) versions of “Pulse,” where a mysterious signal over the TV causes college students to commit suicide, the overall theme was quite familiar. When reading a Stephen King novel, you’re catching a wild ride through Stephen King country.

And Stephen King country was where I had trouble with this novel.

If you read enough Stephen King over the years, you know right away that the three characters coming around the bend on the road to cross from New Hampshire into Maine will result in one of them being killed. The main character was safe. The other two characters, a man and a teenaged girl, weren’t safe. Since I didn’t care for the man at all, I wanted the girl to survive the encounter. Who got killed in a senseless act of violence?

The girl.

I was so angry that I threw the paperback across the room to hit the wall and land on a floor. I’ve never thrown a book like that before. The worst thing I’ve ever done to a book was close the cover and forget about it. This time I had a vicarious reaction to the story. I let the book sit on the floor for a week before I picked it up again to finish reading.

Although “Cell” was a good story, I didn’t like it and haven’t read it again. Stephen King redeemed himself with “Lisey’s Story,” about a widowed wife dealing with the death of her famous writer husband. When the hardback came out also in late 2006, I was seeing a counselor to deal with my grief over my mother’s death from breast cancer. Both my counselor and I were reading the book at home, where it became a touchstone in our conversations. I cried through the ending of that book.

The 99-Cent Business Model For SHORT eBooks

Everything 99 Cents Sign

Some writers on Twitter were discussing about other writers who priced their full-length ebooks at $0.99 USD, therefore ruining the market for ebooks priced at $2.99 USD or higher. I kept reading that pricing ebooks at $0.99 USD doesn’t work. Actually, it does work—for SHORT ebooks featuring short stories and essays. The $0.99 USD price point appeals to IMPULSIVE SHOPPERS who want a quick read for a buck.

I stumbled upon this pricing scheme by accident when I became frustrated that the short story reprint market was dead. My short stories saw print once and only once. Placing my reprints elsewhere became too much work. All the editors wanted new content. The few editors willing to consider reprints were so damn picky I’m not sure why they bothered. Unless you’re selling books like Stephen King, a traditional publisher won’t even look at a short story collection.

My reprints found new life as short story ebooks in late 2010. Due to the short length (my minimum word count is 1,000 words), these SHORT ebooks could only be priced at $0.99 USD. Since then I started adding more short story and essay ebooks to my catalog. My income from Amazon and Smashwords grew with every little sale to become a predictable income stream that was larger than my first serial right sales.

My current business model is to add a new SHORT ebook every other week. I should have 40 SHORT ebooks for sale by the end of this year. Most will be at $0.99 USD, some will be FREE, and the omnibus ebooks will be $1.99 USD or higher. The more SHORT ebooks I have for sale, the more sales I’ll have.

This business model isn’t risk free. I’m putting time and effort into a business model that is nothing more than throwing mud at the wall and seeing what sticks. I really don’t know what will work and what doesn’t work. From what I learned so far—reprint sells better than original content, essays sells better than short stories—I can make reasonable readjustments over time to gain more sales.

The serious downside of having too many ebooks available for sale is when the newest generation of ebook readers require high-resolution covers to take advantage of the high-definition displays. Updating the ebook covers over the summer put me into the hole for $300 to $400 USD (still working on this project), wiping out what little profit I had for this year. The uniform covers and formatting should spur an increase in sales.

What annoys me the most with having too many ebooks for sale are the whining reviews that the SHORT ebooks are TOO SHORT. Never mind that word count listed in the description. Never mind that the SHORT ebooks area available for FREE. (I have yet to see a whining review about a paid SHORT ebook.) This is almost as bad as writers complaining about how other writers are pricing their ebooks too low.

Should Kickstarter Fund Your Next Writing Project? (Part 2)

This is the second part of a two-part blog post. Read Part 1 – The Wrong Way.

THE RIGHT WAY

Should Kickstarter Fund Your Next Writing Project? (Part 2)

 

The second project is from the artist/writer team of All New Issues web comic who wants $4,000 USD to publish a print book.

This Kickstarter is to raise enough money to pay for a print run of a 140 page perfect bound book, collecting the first 200 strips of All New Issues. The funds we raise would cover the cost of the print job, Kickstarter and Amazon fees, and help cover the cost of any extra shipping for the incentives. Any additional funds that we receive will be used to help pay for travel costs for conventions this summer.

This is a tightly focused and more realistic project with all the ingredients for success available from the start.

  1. If you check out the archive page, the source material is ready for book form.
  2. An established audience wants to see a web comic book in either PDF and/or print format.
  3. The $4,000 USD price figure is typical for a printed web comic book.
  4. Additional funds beyond the minimum goal will go towards traveling on the summer convention circuit to meet fans and sell signed books.
  5. A short video introducing the project sponsors, the web comic and the goals for the project also helps.

 

The initial $4,000 USD minimum goal got met within the first week. The project sponsors upped the incentives for reaching the new $5,000 USD and $5,500 USD funding goals. With less than a few days to go before the project gets funded, the $6,000 USD level is within easy reach. The project sponsors will have a busy summer traveling the convention circuit as they reach out to fans and sell more books.

Updated 04/21/2012 — The All New Issues Kickstarter project completed their funding goal at $8,111 USD, doubling the initial amount they were seeking. The completed book will be available in early May 2012.

IS KICKSTARTER RIGHT FOR YOU?

If you have a realistic plan, a proven track record and an established audience, Kickstarter might be a useful tool for funding your project.

If not, don’t bother. Raising money is an important aspect of the creative business. If you’re not willing to treat this as a business with a hard-nosed attitude towards defining your goals, you have no business asking people to fund your project. Don’t waste everyone’s time by throwing your project out there and hoping for the best.

With my content producing business model (i.e., blog postings and short ebooks), I really don’t have a need for Kickstarter. I’m still in the audience building stage. If I have written and self-edited a novel trilogy within the next few years, but don’t have the funds to pay for the professional editing, cover art and ebook formatting, I might give Kickstarter a try.

Should Kickstarter Fund Your Next Writing Project? (Part 1)

I came across two tweets last week about artists using Kickstarter to fund their projects. If you’re not familiar with Kickstarter, it’s a social media website for hosting creative projects, setting a minimum funding goal, and offering various incentive levels for people to make pledges. If the pledges meet or exceed the funding goal within 30 days, all the pledge backers will have their credit/debit card charged to fund the project. If not, the project isn’t funded. This is a very clever mechanism for funding creative projects. The tweets illustrated the wrong way and the right way for setting up a Kickstarter project.

Kickstarter Logo

THE WRONG WAY

 

Should Kickstarter Fund Your Next Writing Project? (Part 1)

An unpublished writer wants to self-publish his unwritten epic fantasy novel for $20,000 USD.

[…] I will be working to create an epic fantasy. There will be warriors, wizards, possibly a damsel maybe a dragon or two, fights, and of course, mead. I’m planning to self-publish, which means that there will be many additional costs. Printing of the books (as I intend to have a limited print run), marketing, editors, more editors, the list goes on and on. That’s where Kickstarter and you come in. Your pledges will be used to fund all the minutiae involved in self publishing, like the purchase of ISBNs, having the formats converted to work with all the different readers, and other assorted minor costs. Also, these pledges will go to the larger costs as well, like the cost of editors and marketing. In all, these pledges take this self publishing dream from something that might be fun, but not truly profitable, to something that might make enough money on this first book  to allow me to move to writing as a full time job, once this book is published, instead of something I do when I have the time.

The rational for this project seems absurd. Give money for an unwritten novel from an unpublished writer without an outline and/or synopsis in hand? No, thank you.

Perhaps I’m biased from my experience as a short story writer. I had 200 rejection slips before my first short story got accepted for publication, another 100 rejection slips before my second short story got accepted, started publishing regularly in the genre anthologies not long thereafter, and recently started publishing my own essay and short story ebooks. That’s six years of hard work to develop my talent, learn the business and be somewhat successful. I’m still a few years away from quitting my tech support job to write full-time.

What made this unpublished writer so special that he could solicit money to write full-time without proving he’s capable of doing so?

Kickstarter allows you to send private messages to the project owner to ask questions. The lengthy reply that I got back to my question was that the bulk of the money would go towards editing and marketing as these are the two areas for why novels often failed to break out.

Having written a sprawling 700-page rough draft for my first novel (a postponed but not yet abandoned horror/urban fantasy/OMG-WTF-BBQ story), editing is a daunting and relentless task. This is why most epic fantasy writers sometimes go for years between publishing books. You shouldn’t bother with professional editing until your manuscript had gone through two or three drafts and spit polished to the best of your ability.

You shouldn’t worry about marketing until you built up your author platform via website and social media to establish yourself—the writer—before an audience. No brand, no audience. No audience, no pledges. At the time of this writing, the project had no pledges to get funded with. If you’re careful in laying down the ground work before your publishing your novel, the marketing should take care of itself.

An epic fantasy novel ebook with professional editing, cover art and ebook formatting can be done for $2,000 USD.  I would recommend that the project owner write his novel—and build up his brand in the meantime—before coming back to Kickstarter with a focused plan to turn his novel into an ebook. If done right, the pledges will come in. And even at $2,000 USD, success will still be a long shot.

UPDATE 04/13/2012: The project owner cancelled the project on the same day that this blog post appeared, which, presumably, was purely coincidental. A wise choice given that the project failed to attract any pledges after two weeks.

The Right Way  (Part 2)

Getting The Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market For This Year?

After I got serious about being a fiction writer five years ago, I always bought a copy of “The Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market” (Writers Digest Books) to find new markets for my short story fiction. Every six weeks I would spend a weekend browsing through the current N&SSWM, finding markets that fit my short stories, and preparing 20 or so snail mail submissions. (I had 50 manuscripts floating in the slush piles for several years.) And then the Great Recession in 2008 made an impact: submissions started returning unread as magazine publishers went out of business, and I could no longer afford to buy envelopes and postage for snail mail submissions. A year ago I started revising my work on the computer, submitting my manuscripts online, and publishing my short stories as original or reprint ebooks. I’m wondering if I should even bother to pick up the 2012 N&SSWM when it comes out in September.

These days I’m browsing Duotrope’s Digest for new markets for my short stories. Since I made the transition from literary to speculative short stories three years ago, the majority of my sales have been to genre anthologies that get listed for a few months at a time. N&SSWM caters to the traditional literary magazines and annual anthologies that accept submissions year round. I haven’t tried the online version of N&SSWM but I don’t expect those listings to be different from the dead tree edition. You can also find new markets on Twitter as editors reach out to find writers for their new anthologies, such as One Buck Horror and War Of The Words Press.

If I do pick up the new N&SSWM, it will probably be for the literary agent and book listings. Unlike the fast changing short story markets, the traditional publishing industry is still slow to change and a dead tree listing is still relevant months later. By the time my first novel is ready to be submitted, I just might publish it myself as an ebook.

The Emotional Baggage That A Male Reader Brings To The Novel

Several months ago I started downloading free fiction ebooks from Amazon for the Kindle App on my iPod Touch. I normally don’t read fiction ebooks since I’m a dead tree traditionalist who prefers flipping the pages of paperbacks. Two years of unemployment and three months of being underemployed doesn’t leave much money for buying stacks of paperbacks, even if the local Borders stores are going out of business. Naturally, each of the free ebooks was the first book in a series. If you’re hooked on the series after the first book, you just have to read all the other books.

I read “Bright of The Sky (The Entire & The Rose, Book 1)” by Kay Kenyon, about spaceships fueled by black holes that creates an inter-dimensional rip to a strange world larger than our universe and how one man came back tell to everyone but no one believed him. I read the other books, “A World Too Near” and “City Without End,” the following weekends. I still haven’t the fourth book, “Prince of Storms,” since I’m taking a break from the series. The last two books were each read in a single eight-hour sitting from beginning to end. I like books that don’t demand being read all at once.

Some of the best science fiction in recent years has come from women authors. Having grown up reading science fiction written mostly by men during the 1970s and 1980s, I appreciate the different concerns, ideas and viewpoints that women authors can bring to the genre. But sometimes a woman author can provoke a strong visceral response in a male reader like myself.

The other free ebook that I downloaded was “Hunted By The Others” by Jess Haines, about a human woman private detective hired by the mages to retrieve an artifact being kept by the vampires that can take control of the werewolves. The Others, of course, hate each other, and a pro-human group wants to kill them all off. An interesting premise for a new urban fantasy series.

Unlike the heroines in all the other urban fantasy series, Shiarra Waynest doesn’t start kicking ass once the story gets started. She is a fearful woman who is easily intimidated and disrespected by anyone more powerful than she is; especially the men who like to shove her around. Like fingernails across a chalk board, I cringed throughout the first half of the book. I absolutely hated it. But, being a glutton for punishment, I read the second half and absolutely loved it. Why? The heroine acquired several magical items that boosted her physical abilities and confidence in herself to start pushing back against the guys. Everyone suddenly starts respecting her to avoid getting their asses kicked, and she gets the job done to her satisfaction.

I haven’t had such a strong visceral reaction to a book since I read “Cell” by Stephen King, where my favorite minor character got killed off in a senseless act of violence in a “you know something really bad is coming around the corner” scene. I threw the paperback across the room and let it sit on the floor for a week before I could pick it up again.

But my reaction to “Hunted By The Others” was much different. As a male reader, I brought a lot of baggage when reading this ebook that colored my perception of the characters.

Strong Resistance Threshold

Unlike reading other genres, reading urban fantasy requires a significant amount of emotional investment. The world building is often much more extensive than some epic fantasy or science fiction books. You got to learn a whole new set of rules about how the characters interact with each other and  the urban environment around them. Whatever you think you might know about magical creatures is often tossed out of the window (i.e., vampires may walk in sunlight because they’re not that dead yet or a separate species not related to homo sapiens). Sometimes I have control issues about letting going of the familiar world around me to embrace someone else’s fantasy world.

For the longest times, I was reading only Jim Butcher and Kim Harrison, then Ann Agguire came along, and I recently read Jeannie Holmes. I started branching out into reading more urban fantasy since my first novel is about a video game company haunted by a troll-like ghost, which could be either horror and/or urban fantasy. Horror has its own internal logic—cue “Twilight Zone” music—but urban fantasy is a much different animal. I haven’t read enough urban fantasy to decide if I want to revise the rough draft in that direction.

Kick Ass Women In Film

Starting with Sigourney Weaver as Ripley in the “Alien” movies, Milla Jovovich as Alice in the “Resident Evil” movies, Uma Thurman as The Bride in “Kill Bill” movies, Michelle Rodriguez in too many movies to name (although I thought she was too feminine in the recent “Battle: Los Angeles” movie), and even 13-year-old Chloe Moretz as the Hit Girl in “Kick Ass,” have all been kick ass women who weren’t afraid of picking up a weapon, shoving the men aside, and getting the job done. I rarely see movies about a weak and fearful woman being pushed around by men. I’m more likely to get ticked off at the husbands in some movies who are being jerks and want a divorce because their wives are trying to accomplish something meaningful (i.e., “Juno” and “Freedom Writers”).

If you read the summaries for most urban fantasy series, the heroine is almost always a kick ass woman. I think that is why I enjoy reading urban fantasy, being a reflection of the movies I have seen since the 1970s. Had I grown up in an earlier era, maybe I would enjoy reading more novels about big men, big guns and big boobs. Although the hero shagging the girl every other chapter would get on my nerves just as much as the obligatory five pages of romance porn found in most urban fantasy novels.

Mother Was A Fearful Woman

My mother had an overwhelmingly negative influence in my life. House and child were her exclusive domain that my father had no say in, and the garage was off-limits to her since that was my father’s exclusive domain. I was never allowed in the garage since I belonged to her. Throw in case of beer every Sunday afternoon after grocery shopping, hell hath no fury than a fearful woman on a drunken rampage. I ducked a lot of beer bottles, dishes and pots while growing up.

My father was a complete stranger to me until I turned 18-years-old, when he announced that I was his and we worked together in construction for two years in San Francisco (50 miles was how far he needed to escape from her). When I left home for college and joined the campus ministry, I still couldn’t escape from my fearful mother. For years I had to call her every night to reassure her that I was all right. I didn’t find freedom until she committed suicide by letting her breast cancer go untreated in 2004, and, through counseling several years later, I decided to become a writer.

An ideal woman for me is someone who has fiery temper and a very short fuse. Why? If she gets pissed off, she will get into my face and tell me why. Nothing makes me madder than a fearful woman telling me that she is afraid to talk to me because she thinks I might get mad at her. If I’m doing something wrong, I want to know about it so I can change. I can’t change myself for the better if no one tells me what is wrong. Maybe because I’m a big guy who comes across as being a natural for raping, pillaging and burning, people assume things that aren’t there. (One unpaid ministry leader strongly suggested that I rape a woman in the church to start my career as a future California serial rapist and make everyone happy by going to prison.) Or maybe because I’m conditioned by books and movies to live in a world filled with strong women that I have unrealistic expectations about real women in general.

A month after I reading that “Hunted By The Others,” I started dissecting why I hated and loved that book in #ufchat on Twitter. Then someone causally mentioned that Jess Haines was lurking in the background—Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!—and a moment later she started replying to my tweets. We had a nice conversations about merits of taking her urban fantasy series in a complete different direction. Last week she sent me signed copies of all her novels in the snail mail: “Hunted By The Others,” “Taken By The Others,” and “Deceived By The Others” (coming out on July 5, 2011). It’ll be interesting to see if I can leave my emotional baggage behind when reading the first book in paperback.

Amanda Hocking – Young, Ambitious and Whining About The Work?

The writing blogosphere is alit this with the news of Amanda Hocking, a 26-year-old writer from Minnesota who had written nine ebooks and sold 900,000 copies, was looking for a traditional publisher and signed a four-book deal with St. Martin’s Press. That’s like winning the lottery. For those of us tolling away in relative obscurity from the bright lights of the publishing world, the message is loud and clear: sell enough copies of self-published books and/or ebooks, the traditional publishing world will soon slobber for the opportunity to throw down big money on the next big thing. However, Hocking’s reason for wanting a traditional publishing deal is somewhat curious.

But here’s what I can say – I’m writer. I want to be a writer. I do not want to spend 40 hours a week handling emails, formatting covers, finding editors, etc. Right now, being me is a full time corporation. As I said before in my post – Some Things That Need to be Said – I am spending so much time on things that are not writing.

What makes her think that by signing a four-book contract with a traditional publisher she will actually have more time as a writer who actually writes?

Some of the more bothersome tasks of being a DIY writer will go away with a traditional publisher. But, by signing a four-book contract, Hocking is trading in the idiosyncratic demands of running her own writing business for the idiosyncratic whims of a traditional publisher concern about the bottom line.

She will have to write, submit, revise and proofread on the publisher’s schedule. If she gets sent out on a nationwide book tour for several weeks or months, she may find it next to impossible to find time to write on the road. Or, if she does find the time to write, the quality of her writing may suffer. Although she may now be a successful ebook writer in the virtual world, her dead tree books may fail to find a broad enough audience in the real world to justify the large advance being paid out and the publisher could easily cancel the contract after the first book. If that happens, finding her next publisher will be problematic and going back to being a DIY writer even more so.

Stephen King, who spends every day writing, had to hire assistants to handle the administrative side of his publishing empire. Even living out in far-flung Maine doesn’t prevent the publisher, media and Hollywood from making excessive demands on his time that can take him away from writing. Every now and then, he reportedly drops out of sight to focus exclusively on his writing.

I mentioned on #writechat this past Sunday that I missed my early days of submitting short stories by snail mail. I would go to the post office with 20 to 30 envelopes, come home to write new short stories, and the responses to my submissions would start to tickle in six weeks later. The following weekend I would prepare all the rejected short stories for submission again, go back to the post office, and write new short stories for the next six weeks. Every seventh weekend I did nothing but admin tasks. I did that for three years straight.

Then two years ago I started submitting my short stories by email. This came about because literary magazines were starting to move away from snail mail submissions, and I started writing speculative fiction for anthologies that accepted submissions only by email. My office expenses for paper, envelopes and postage dropped by two-thirds.

Unfortunately, now that everything is done by email and I recently started publishing short story ebooks, it seems like I have less and less time to write because of all the admin tasks that need to get done. Even if I did finish revising the 700-page rough draft of my first novel and found a traditional publisher, the admin tasks will still demand more of my time. Being a writer these days is no longer about being a writer who writes.

A Dead Tree Traditionalist Among E-Readers

The big story this week is the price war among the various e-readers. Barnes & Noble cut the price on their current Nook 3G + WiFi e-reader to $199 from $259 USD, and introducing a new WiFi-only version for $149 USD. Then Amazon followed with a similar price reduction for the Kindle, dropping the price to $189 USD. That leaves Apple iPad at the high-end price range. Will I go out and get one? Nope. I’m a dead tree traditionalist still sitting on the fence when it comes to e-readers.

My reluctance to jump on the e-reader bandwagon has nothing to do with the technology.

I was a contractor at Sony in 2005 when I led a group of ten QA testers to test what eventually became the Sony Reader in the United States. The hardware was Japanese with Kanji characters on the buttons, the Linux-based software was in English, and the English-language book files converted to HTML were on memory sticks. We glanced at three books a day for three weeks, looking for formatting issues with the conversion process and the display hardware. The e-ink display technology was fantastic. I very much wanted one. Unfortunately, I couldn’t afford the price when released the following year.

I’m still price sensitive today. The new Nook is tempting at $149 USD. However, I’m not yet sold that I need a dedicated e-reader. I have the Kindle app on my iPod Touch (a first generation that doesn’t support Apple’s iBooks) for reading ancient texts—”The Rise and Fall of The Roman Empire (six volumes)” by Edward Gibbon—and out of print books—”Shakespeare (PBS Companion Book)” by Michael Woods—that are hard to find elsewhere. E-readers are excellent for these kinds of books.

But for brand new books, I prefer holding the dead tree edition in my hand. Especially if the author does something stupid that makes me mad enough to throw the book against the wall. I did that with the paperback copy of “Cell” by Stephen King when my favorite character got killed off. The book stayed on the floor for a whole week before I picked it up again to finish reading. A good book can provoke powerful emotions in the reader. E-readers aren’t built for hurling across the room against the wall.

I’m a dead tree traditionalist who hasn’t converted over to the paperless office. My short story manuscripts often start off as handwritten with ink or on the typewriter before being entered into the computer. Revisions are done with multiple printouts and red ink spilling everywhere. Every draft is kept in the filing cabinet or storage boxes. I have numerous shelves of dead tree books in my personal library.

If the price was right and I have a good enough reason, I’ll get a dedicated e-reader. Until then, I’ll keep flipping my dead tree pages.

Summer 2009 Reading List

Spent birthday money that I didn’t have yet and still might not get next week at Borders a few days ago.  A combination of factors made me splurge the last few precious dollars that I have.  First and foremost, nearly six months of unemployment had exhausted my stack of unread fiction that all I had left was a stack of unread non-fiction.  Second, I had five Borders Buck and a 30% off coupon for this month.  Third, spending $50 USD will earn another five Borders Buck for next month.  I managed to save $10 USD and picked up a half-dozen books.

I normally don’t shop in a bookstore unless I have the right financial incentives to buy locally over ordering through Amazon.  While browsing through Borders and recalling what books I had stashed away in my Amazon shopping cart, I actually found more books that weren’t there than the ones that I did find.  Seems like the entire midlist of books has been thinned out to a bare minimum.  A friend told me that the CD/DVD selection at the San Francisco store was nonexistent.  Worse, the Santa Row store is doing another reorganization to make sure you can’t find anything even if they did have it.

The redeeming grace was one of the clerks noticing that I had a stack of books in one hand and reading the first page of a book in the other hand, who brought over a shopping bag for me to throw everything in.  Seriously, I only intended to get a Harry Potterbook when I went into the store.  If I buy a half-dozen or more books at a time, I usually order through Amazon to take advantage of the four-for-three promo and free shipping.

Here’s the summer reading list.

  • “Blue Diablo (Corine Solomon, Book 1)” by Ann Aguirre
  • “Inferno (Star Wars, Legacy of The Force, Book 6)” by Troy Denning
  • “Original Sin (Adam Dalgliesh)” by PD James
  • “A Crown of Swords (The Wheel of Time, Book 7)” by Robert Jordan
  • “The Secret of The Old Clock / The Hidden Staircase (Nancy Drew)” by Carolyn Keene
  • “Harry Potter and The Order of The Phoenix (Book 5)” by JK Rowling

The common thread that ties all these books together is my own writings; the rough draft of my second novel that I’m composing now, and my first novel that I’m planning to edit in October.  I want to read a wide variety of different stories and writing styles to create a magical brew to incorporate into my own work.  This stack should keep me entertain for another month or two.


NOTE: This blog post was first published on Once Upon An Albatross… blog.

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