Thursday, August 26, 2010

Money should flow to the writer, but always?

Among fiction writers there is an old saying that "money should always flow to the writer." Basically, this means fiction writers should be paid by publishers, and should not pay their own money to be published.

It's become a cliche.

However, most times it is true.

That old saying is basically an attack against vanity publishing, in which a publisher charges the writer to be published. By many fiction writers, this is considered a scam, and they're not necessarily wrong. If a writer is paying to be published, the publisher is making their money from writers, not from the readers, and that's not really publishing, at least not traditional publishing.

Until recently, most self-publishing ventures were some form or other of vanity publishing, and have long been looked down upon by more traditional writers and publishers.

But technology has changed much in the book publishing world in the last few years. Digital books are exploding, becoming more and more popular by the day. With digital publishing of e-books, writers can now publish their own works online at sites such as Smashwords or for e-reader devices such as the Kindle by Amazon without having to lay down any cash because these companies make their money through percentages of sales of the writers' e-books.

The writer doesn't have to shell out any money, the companies distributing the e-books make money, and everyone's happy. Right?

No, not really. Technically, this new wave of digital publishing is still self publishing, though it's no longer vanity publishing because the writer doesn't have to pay to be published. Unfortunately, self publishing raises the hackles of a lot of people, many of them working within the traditional print publishing field.

But not everyone. Some writers and even editors and publishers are joining in this wave of digital publishing.

The arguments on blogs, boards and forums become quite heated at times, but the truth of the matter is that the technology is here to stay. Currently there is nothing to stop a writer from digitally self-publishing their own work, despite a number of people frowning upon it.

It's also generally looked down upon for writers to spend any of their own money to promote their own work. The publisher is traditionally supposed to take care of that.

But does that thinking hold with today's technology?

Not entirely.

Yes, money should flow to the writer, and yes, writers should not pay to be published.

But guess what? Once a writer begins publishing their own works, they are no longer just a writer. They are also a publisher.

Which means, maybe there's nothing wrong with a writer spending his or her own money for promotions, marketing, etc.

Please don't get me wrong. I don't believe writers should go out and spend tons of money to get published or to purchase advertising or anything like that. But I also feel writers shouldn't limit themselves because of some stigma of spending their own money to promote their business.

Because a self-published writer is indeed endeavoring upon a business. In the U.S., if you make more than $600 a year from your writing, that's a business. If you make less than $600, that's a hobby.

One secret successful writers have learned is that the writing is the easy part (and often the most fun part). It's the promotions that's the real hard work. Promoting one's own writing, especially in an appropriate manner that is not spamming potential readers, takes a lot of time and effort. In fact, it can take more time to promote a book than it can to write the book!

Again, I'm not advocating writers spending a bunch of money. But I am suggesting writers consider doing some research into promotions, then possibly spending wisely. Remember another old saying, "if it's too good to be true, it probably is." So beware of all the scams trying to take your money, because plenty of them are out there.

Related links
New for epic fantasy fans, The Kobalos Trilogy
Writing for a Living, a blog for online writers
Logical Misanthropy, horror and fantasy author's blog

Thursday, August 12, 2010

50 ways to annoy Triond writers

  1. Copying a Triond writer’s articles. It’s called plagiarism. It’s illegal, as well as immoral.
  2. Copying their article titles. This one’s just silly.
  3. Copying the subject matter of one of their articles. This one isn’t as bad as others, but it still shows a lack of consideration, if nothing else. Also, the time element has to be taken into account. If two articles with the same subjects are published within a day of one another, it’s kind of cheesy. But if several months or years have passed, no harm, no foul.
  4. Posting tons and tons of your own links on the Triond forums.
  5. Posting tons and tons of anyone’s links on the Triond forums.
  6. Trash talking another writer on the forums when they’ve done nothing wrong. Are you 14 and still in junior high?
  7. Leaving spam on article comments.
  8. Leaving tons of links to your own articles on another’s articles.
  9. Messaging another Triond writer and begging them to read your articles.
  10. Messaging another Triond writer more than once and asking them to “friend” you on Triond.
  11. Messaging another Triond writer more than once and begging them to “friend” you on any other site.
  12. Trash talking Triond for stupid reasons on the forums. There are, at times, legitimate reasons to be upset with Triond. Most reasons on the forums aren’t legitimate. They’re stupid, and make you sound petty and stupid.
  13. Lying in the forums about how you’ve made tons and tons of money on Triond. It’s old. It’s boring. And it’s hardly ever true. You look like a fool, at best. And anyone who spends a fair amount of time on Triond already has a pretty good idea of who the big earners are. You’re not one of them.
  14. Posting your referral links to other sites in the Triond forums, without pointing out it’s a referral link. We’re not stupid. We don’t mind helping out someone from time to time, just not those who are trying to trick us.
  15. Writing stupid articles and having them do very, very well. This one’s not your fault. You got lucky. It just annoys the rest of us.
  16. Writing really good articles that make money. Yes, the rest of us are still jealous.
  17. Going to another site and trash talking Triond writers. Then returning to Triond and acting as if nothing has happened. Many Triond writers use more than one site. They’ll know.
  18. Trying to police the Triond forums. I’m the first to admit, the forums have a lot of garbage. But in all the years Triond has been around, the staff has shown next to no interest in policing the forums. Neither should you. It is what it is.
  19. Going to another site and trash talking Triond, then coming right back to Triond to publish your articles. This one makes you look like an imbecile. As always, there are legitimate gripes with Triond. Just be intelligent in what you complain about.
  20. Trying to write in English when you don’t know the language very well. This is another one that really isn’t your fault. You’ve got to learn, right? But feeding out bad English doesn’t improve your chances of drawing viewers, and it hurts the heads of the rest of us trying to read it. Suggestion: Don’t try to write in English on Triond until you know the language better. Or perhaps there are sites similar to Triond that allow other languages? Just an idea.
  21. Being bigoted against those who can’t write English very well.
  22. Blowing up on the forums about your personal religious/anti-religious/spiritual/political/whatever beliefs. We don’t care.
  23. Not accepting Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior.
  24. Writing about the same subject matter. All. The. Time. No one wants to tell you what to write, but come on. It gets boring after a while.
  25. Posing as an expert when you’re not. Other writers will catch on to this. How? Because some of them really are experts.
  26. Talking on and on about how “real writers do it for the love of writing or to express themselves, NOT for the money.” No. You’re wrong. And you’re an idiot. Real writers write because they love writing, enjoy expressing themselves AND want to make money, if not a living, through their writing. Anything else is a hobby, not a calling.
  27. Pretending to be someone you’re not on Triond. Sooner or later others will catch on.
  28. Commenting on the Triond forums under multiple user names. Again, others will catch on.
  29. Being overly promotional on Triond. It’s okay to post a link every once in a while, or from time to time to mention whatever it is you’re selling, but doing it often is annoying. Others will shut you out, and this won’t help you sell whatever it is you’re selling. Annoy enough people, or the wrong people, and they’ll make it their personal goal to attack you and your product on Triond and beyond. That doesn’t do you any good.
  30. Not helping beginning Triond writers. Sometimes it’s fun to be flippant on the Triond forums, but it also doesn’t hurt to help out the newbies. You were a newbie once, remember? If the newbies get a little help, they’ll soon add to the Triond community instead of slinking away or worse, by becoming annoying.
  31. Leaving extremely brief, almost unrelated comments on Triond articles. They’re usually something like “Nice article.” These comments scream “I’ve read your articles, so please read mine!” If you have something to say, say it. If not, just click the “Like It” button and move one.
  32. Posting on the forums that you have some new way to make others money, if not out-and-out rich. Everyone has seen your scam or whatever other kind of BS you’ve got going on. We know. We will avoid you like the plague.
  33. Screaming “censorship!” No. Censorship is what a government does. Private entities, such as individuals and businesses, do not have to publish your garbage. You can write it all you want, and you can find other ways to publish it if you so desire, but you don’t have the right to force anyone to publish anything of yours.
  34. Bad language. Oh, wait, who the f*ck am I kidding?
  35. Complaining about how little money you make from Triond.
  36. Especially if all you write are poems or religious articles.
  37. Or post images on Picable.
  38. Bad speling. It cun be enfuriating. Especialy considring Triond is spposed to catch this klnd of thang.
  39. Being the grammar police. Triond is basically a free for all. We write what we want. You don’t have to read it.
  40. Writing poetry.
  41. Then begging others to read it.
  42. Begging others to read anything you’ve written. Learn the word “promotions.” Begging and spamming are not involved.
  43. Acting like a know-it-all. No one knows it all at Triond. Okay, maybe one or two people. But you’re not them.
  44. Going on the forums and acting as if you are a Triond employee. It’s been done. A billion times. And it wasn’t cute the first 500.
  45. Complaining about how much work Triond is, and you should be making more money. No one forced you to come here. Spend your time job hunting if you want to make money.
  46. If you actually work for Triond, one way to tick off writers is by cutting their pay. Without telling them about it.
  47. Coming up with a list of 50 ways to annoy Triond writers.
  48. Writing a follow-up article titled something like “50 ways to be nice to Triond writers” or some such nonsense.
  49. Coming up short on your lists.