Wednesday, December 31, 2008

eBook resales: good or bad idea?

There's a thriving business in the resale of used books. It's a great way to clear our shelves of books we no longer want, and these sales can generate some cash for the purchase of new books. Even though the resale of these books deprives the author of royalties for the additional sales, no one really minds. This is because resales are a small percentage of total book sales, and may open new markets (to readers who hadn't previously read a particular offer). The same is true if you lend or give a book to a friend.

The same dynamic should apply to ebooks (books sold in various electronic formats), right?

Unfortunately, no. When you give or sell a printed
book to someone, they get one copy and the most they can do is resell or give away one copy. But with ebooks, the one copy you give/sell can be copied hundreds, even thousands of times. So, instead of the author losing the royalties for a single resale, he or she potentially can lose thousands of dollars in royalties--and that's just from a single copy. Think about the impact on that author's income if hundreds of readers each give away copies that are passed on to hundreds of others. (Not to mention the losses suffered by the publishers and those they employ.)

Before you say, "But authors like Stephen King and J.K. Rowling make millions from their books. They won't miss it.", consider this: For every author who's a millionaire, there are hundreds of authors who barely make a living from writing, and hundreds more who write as a second income because writing alone won't pay the bills. If they made more money, perhaps they could quit their day jobs and write full-time (producing more of the books you love).

And before you say, "But my reading an ebook that a friend gave me won't make a difference.", consider this: There are pirate websites and blogs whose sole reason for existence is the sharing of ebooks, CDs, DVDs, and other copyrighted materials. Thre are literally thousands of people trading thousands of books, albums, and movies without paying for a single one. Collectively, that's many millions of dollars in income the artists never get. So it's not just you, it's many people depriving a lot of hard-working artists of the money they've rightfully earned.

Because it's not just you doing it, it won't matter whether you keep doing it or not, right? Sure it does! By participating in this illegal activity (breaking federal and international copyright laws and perhaps illegally trafficking in stolen merchandise across state lines**), you contribute to the problem and even encourage it.

So what can you do about it? Simple:

1) Stop selling/sharing ebooks. If you can't help yourself, and you just have to read the one a friend gave you, fine. When you're done reading it, delete it and buy a copy from a legitimate source. But whatever you do, don't share your copy with anyone outside your immediate family.
Certainly, don't post them to the internet or sell them on eBay.

2) Point your friends who buy/sell/share ebooks to this blog, so they can be educated, too.

3) If you know of websites and blogs that share ebooks, report them to the
AuthorsAgainstE-BookTheft group on Yahoo.

Remember, the selling and sharing of ebooks without compensation to the publisher and the author is ILLEGAL and harms the industry as a whole. Do you really want to contribute to a publisher
laying off employees or even going bankrupt (and perhaps depriving you of the latest work from one of your favorite authors?)

Unless we all (authors, publishers, and concerned readers) work together to stamp out the illegal sharing/selling of ebooks, the problem will only get worse.
Think about it.


WARNING: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this or any copyrighted work is illegal. File sharing is an International crime, prosecuted by the United States Department of Justice and the United States Border Patrol, Division of Cyber Crimes, in partnership with Interpol. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is punishable by seizure of computers, up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000 per reported instance.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Commonly misused/misspelled words and phrases (Part 76)

Here are some more words to watch out for:

Ordnance vs. Ordinance

Wrong: The city ordnance forbids double-parking.

Right: The city ordinance forbids double-parking.

Ordnance refers to munitions, while an ordinance is a local law. Confusing ordnance with an ordinance can be an explosive error.

Eek vs. Eke

Wrong: She’s just trying to eek out a living.

Right: She’s just trying to eke out a living.

I chuckle every time I come across this one. Eek may be a simple misspelling of eke (to obtain with great difficulty), but I always picture someone seeing a mouse and shrieking.

More next time.


Saturday, December 20, 2008

The future of gaming--and television?

I just watched this amazing video. It shows how Nintendo Wii controller technology can be used to create amazing immersive 3D/VR video games. (Imagine shoot-em-ups where the aliens can be behind you, seemingly in the room with you. Incredible.) But if you watch to the end, you'll see some interesting potential for televised sporting events, perhaps. And who knows what else?

BTW, I'm told that Johnny Lee (the creator of the technique, and this video), has been hired by Microsoft to develop next-generation games for the Xbox 360. I can't wait to see them.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Progress on Sunrise Destiny

I just got word this morning that the art director at Red Rose Publishing has assigned a cover artist to my science fiction novel, Sunrise Destiny. The editing is already well under way, so I'm hopeful the book will be out in February.

I also received word from my editor at RJ Buckley Publishing that the anthology (
The World Outside the Window) containing my short story "Fallen Star, Rising Star" is on schedule for January release. The ebook should be out in early January, with the printed copies coming in the middle of the month. Both will be available from Amazon initially, with other outlets coming over time. The anthology is also available for preordering directly from the publisher.

I'll keep you informed as I learn more.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Another story coming soon

I just received a contract for my short story, Harvey-467 Makes a Bride. It'll be published as an ebook by the publisher (Red Rose) that's releasing my novel. So that makes a novel (Sunrise Destiny), a short story (Fallen Star, Rising Star) in an anthology (The World Outside the Window, from RJ Buckley Publishing), and a stand-alone story, that will be published within the next few months.

So far, 2009 is looking good. 8^}


Monday, December 15, 2008

Commonly misused/misspelled words and phrases (Part 75)

Here are some more of those pesky words and phrases that trip up many writers:

Jerry-rigged vs. Jury-rigged vs. Jerry-built

Wrong: That jerry-rigged contraption will never hold together.

Right: That jury-rigged contraption will never hold together.

The expressions jury-rigged and jerry-built both refer to something that is hastily and perhaps poorly assembled. Jerry-rigged appears to be a jerry-built mixture of the two that shouldn’t be used.

Crossover vs. Cross over

Wrong: His spirit is waiting to crossover to the other side.

Right: His spirit is waiting to cross over to the other side.

A crossover (noun) is something that spans two things (landmasses, book genres, types of motor vehicles, etc.). On the other hand, to cross over (verb phrase) is to change successfully from one thing or state of being to another (for example, to die, change political parties, or mutate).

I haven't run out of terms yet. Come back soon for more.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Commonly misused/misspelled words and phrases (Part 74)

Continuing the series, here are some more words that are often confused:

Fix(ed) vs. Affix(ed)

Wrong: He fixed his bayonet to the rifle.

Right: He affixed his bayonet to the rifle.

The two words have similar but slightly different meanings, so it’s important to keep them straight. Affixed simply means attached. Fixed, in this context, means attached or fastened so as to be immovable or permanent. After you affix something you might then fix it in place.

Pass the mustard vs. Pass muster or Cut the mustard

Wrong: He couldn’t pass the mustard, so I had to let him go.

Right: He couldn’t cut the mustard, so I had to let him go.

To pass muster is to pass inspection or measure up to a standard. Similarly, to cut the mustard is to reach or surpass a level of performance. Pass the mustard is merely a humorous confusion of the two phrases.

More next time.


Friday, December 5, 2008

"The World Outside the Window" anthology coming soon

Good news! I have a short story (Fallen Star, Rising Star) coming in an anthology called The World Outside the Window. The book will be published in January 2009 in both paperback and Amazon Kindle ebook format, but it's already available for pre-ordering. The anthology consists of 19 adult fiction stories by 19 authors, many of them published novelists. The stories run the gamut of fiction, from romance to horror, from suspense to sci-fi and fantasy. (My story is about two adolescent boys who discover a meteorite that turns out to be so much more.)

The collection has an interesting premise (which is well-illustrated by the cover). From the jacket blurb:

Imagine, if you will, a building of unknown origin. A building in which there are many rooms, each with a window that looks out upon a courtyard and a scene beyond.

In each room a person sits, staring out the window at the same people and objects that everyone else sees from their windows. Yet, as we tell our stories of what we see, we learn a basic truth of the universe. We learn that even though our eyes survey identical scenes, our minds take us to places that only we as individuals know and remind us of stories that only we can tell.

Outside the window we see a winding country lane leading into the distant countryside. We see two boys, perhaps 10 or 12 years old, tossing a baseball to each other. A girl of maybe 7 or 8 swings on a schoolyard swing set, while two lovers walk hand in hand along the side of the road. A ramshackle old mailbox sits on a slanted post, and nearby there is an old car, possibly from the ‘50s - appearing to be in good running condition. We see a church steeple and an older woman walking along the side of the road, seemingly headed for the church. A young soldier stands still, his face is pensive, and it is plain to see that he has much on his mind. Two men are in a heated discussion about something, but from inside our window we can only guess at what is causing their turmoil. Nearby a beautiful girl sits on a park bench, weeping. An old dog lies on the grass, peaceful and serene, watching a puppy frolicking through a flower bed. As day changes to evening and then to night, we see a twinkle in the sky. A falling star, perhaps a starship?

Yes, the characters are there for us, waiting, making no comments that will give us any clue as to who they are or what they may be doing. They are waiting for us to cast them in their roles, to give them direction. We can use one or all of them. We can make them walk down the country lane, drive the car, or follow along behind the woman as she heads for the church. It is our world to create, and we have total control of everything in it. Whatever happens, we make it happen. Loves, lies, war or peace, death or life, shackled to earth or bound for the stars, it is in our hands to decide their fate.

We sit at the window, taking in the complexity of the scene before us and after a few hours of pondering, we sit back and relax as we use our mind’s eye to peer into a world that we will shape into anything we wish it to be.

Slowly, we begin. We pick up our pens and write our stories of the world outside the window.

So every story in some way ties to the characters we see in the courtyard outside the window.

Here is the Table of Contents for the book (subject to change before publication). There may be some other authors you know there:

FALLEN STAR, RISING STAR – Mark Terence Chapman
SMILE – Anthony Waugh
THE SILVER LINING – Rebecca Buckley
THE BLACK ROSE – Woodrow Walker
THE SPLIT MIND – Robert A. Meacham
NEAL’S NOEL – Jay Osman
THE MAILBOX – Larry L. Evans
ETUDE & SMOKE RINGS – Lana M. Ho-Sheing
TWILIGHT – Matthew Alan Pierce
HOUSE ARREST – Richard Lord
– E. Don Harpe

Noticing that my story comes first, I'd like to think that's because it's the best and the publisher wants to put our collective best foot forward. But who knows? Still, it's an honor to go first. I imagine a number of prospective readers will pick up the book, read the first page, and make a purchase decision based on that. So it'd better be good.

Of course, the publisher would want the last story to be good too, to leave a good taste in the reader's mind. And the middle stories need to be good, so the reader doesn't get bored before the end., heck--they all have to be good. Just read 'em. You won't be disappointed.


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Commonly misused/misspelled words and phrases (Part 73)

For those of you who waited patiently (and for the rest), here are more words and phrases that are often misused:

That vs. Who

Wrong: People that act superior annoy me to no end.

Right: People who act superior annoy me to no end.

Wrong: I hate referees that mess up a penalty call.

Right: I hate referees who mess up a penalty call.

Right: Jets that operate via fly-by-wire are inherently unstable.

When referring to people, use who. When not referring to people (inanimate objects, animals, insects, etc.), use that.

Waited(ing) on vs. Waited(ing) for

Wrong: He waited on her for more than an hour!

Right: He waited for her more than an hour!

Unless you’re referring to a food server who waits on customers, the correct expression is waited for someone, not waited on them.

Want more? I'm afraid you'll have to wait until next time.