Self Publishing is up but E-Book Sales Down


Self publishing! You do it right or spectacularly wrong- your buyers could be your mom and a few coworkers who feel badly for you, or it could take off, sell millions, and land you a movie deal with Ridley Scott.

Bowker updated their stats for the year 2015: 727,000 self-published books up from 2014’s 600,000.

Bowker only counts books with ISBNs, so they could be off. But they can confirm a surge as writers abandon traditional publishing routes.

How in the world does a reader adapt to this? Well, if a book is available for electronic format only, those sales are down. The Association of American Publishers  saw a 14% drop in e-book sales in 2015 (compared to the year before). Codex did their own survey and confirmed those findings, reporting e-book sales dropped in 2015. Peter Hicklet-Smith (president of Codex) described this as “digital fatigue.”

This basically means that readers are inundated with options, so they are less likely to read on their devices. I have an old iPad, for instance, that is connected to a Kindle account I share with my husband. I use the iPad for reading some of the time (when travelling) but I prefer to have hard copies. I’d rather run back and forth to the library and have a physical book in my hand, for some reason.

I suppose for writers the lesson is this: have a presence in both physical print and electronic markets. If you’re self-publishing, however, that might be a challenge. Always keep up with the trends, I guess. And I say that without jumping from the self-publishing ledge.

Fiction Tropes!


Ah, tropes: when you start reading through a submissions pile, you start to acquire pet peeves, and you start to notice overused tropes. Now, tropes become, well, tropes, because there can be something useful about them. They get a job done. But if you’re a new writer, using one is going to out you!

Let’s list a few:

Character describes herself in a mirror

What does your character look like? Maybe she should take note of herself in the hallway mirror, or while brushing her teeth. Thing is, this is almost overdone. So be aware of that and try to do something fresh with it.

It Was All a Dream!

On it’s face, this is just lazy: get to a brick wall in the plot?  Instead of working it out, TWIST! The character was dreaming! If you want the reader to toss the book across the room or set it on fire, do this.

Women in Refrigerators, or “Fridging”

This one requires some explanation. Fridging is when a female character dies/ is treated brutally for the sole purpose of inspiring the male hero to action. It happens often. The death of Gwen Stacy in the original Spider Man is a good example. Gail Simone talked about this phenomenon in comic books:

An important point: This isn’t about assessing blame about an individual story or the treatment of an individual character and it’s certainly not about personal attacks on the creators who kindly shared their thoughts on this phenomenon. It’s about the trend, its meaning and relevance, if any. Plus, it’s just fun to talk about refrigerators with dead people in them. I don’t know why.

Stories that start with characters waking up

Face it, you can’t top the master:

One morning, upon awakening from agitated dreams, Gregor Samsa found himself, in his bed, transformed into a monstrous vermin.

Don’t try unless you’re a super hero.



Peace Out Election 2016


Dugland Sutherland MacColl (British draftsman 1859-1942 Drawing after an Attic figure vase painting.

Massachusetts has early voting Oct 29th, and I can’t wait to wash my hands of this whole sordid affair. I’m ready to see Facebook populate with cat memes and recipes I don’t care about. When the dust settles we can all pretend to like each other again and affirm that real change comes from the grassroots work of the people, not the pontifications of politicians disconnected from the reality of hard work and wholesome apple pie.

Poor, poor, Donald Trump. We have arrived at Kings Cross Station and the ghost of George Washington is telling us to ignore that pathetic thing in the corner.

I have never seen a sadder man. Terry Pratchett defined sin as the tendency to treat people as things. Decent people, when confronted with this truth, attempt to change after an “oh shit” moment. Sort of like an apostle we know of who fell off of his high horse. Trump is no such man. It is possible for one to only contain enough virtue the size of his tiny pinky finger, and to be doing better than he.

We did not get issues this election, we got brutality and frothing psychopathy, heads snapped back and teeth bared as we all self-medicated with our favorite beverages during the “debates.” The problems Clinton has pale with the realization that she is not him, and so we are resigned for the sake of the Republic.

The Republican candidate is a dingleberry on the butthairs of this Republic, and we are all embarrassed and clutching our sore asses after this one.

How Politicians Used to Argue

From Abraham Lincoln:

“If you have ever studied geometry, you remember that by a course of reasoning Euclid proves that all the angles in a triangle are equal to two right angles. Euclid has shown you how to work it out. Now, if you undertake to disprove that proposition, and to show that it is erroneous, would you prove it false by calling Euclid a liar? [Laughter]

From the Lincoln-Douglas Debates


By T.P. Pearson, Malcom IL- Carl Schurz, Reminiscences, Vol II, McClure Publishing Co. 1907, facing p. 84, Public Domain

Seneca on the Friendship of Kindred Minds


Seneca, British Museum – By Marie-Lan Ngyen (2011) Public domain

“When I urge you so strongly to your studies, it is my own interest which I am consulting; I want your friendship, and it cannot fall to my lot unless you proceed, as you have begun, with the task of developing yourself. For now, although you love me, you are not yet my friend. “But,” you reply, “are these words of different meaning?” Nay, more, they are totally unlike in meaning. A friend loves you of course; but one who loves you is not in every case your friend. Friendship, accordingly, is always helpful, but love sometimes even does harm. Try to perfect yourself, if for no other reason, in order that you learn how to love.”


-Epistle XXXV, Seneca

Mulling this over with my morning coffee. It packs a punch, as it makes me consider my parenting style (my kids are all under 5) and my relationship with them as they grow. It also makes me consider the difference between acquaintances and friends, and how we view family members.


I have Fun Crits This Morning…

Just had a story make the rounds through Critters, and boy are the reviews mixed. I’ve got people tripping over their tongues as though sozzled, the tintinnabulation of their praise ringing to the stars! Write more! Write often! You are a wizard with words!

And then there’s the Dark Side, the turgid fusillades at my disregard for SCIENCE! Don’t I know better? Don’t I know that people only bothered to read this story because they were dedicated to giving a crit? That if the readers were not dedicated, they’d print my story only to be able to set fire to it since my opening line was SO BAD? DON’T I KNOW I’M KILLING TREES?

And then, there were three people that struck the Golden Mean. The types that said, “this is good, here’s what I think about this since I’m a Scientist,” or the “This will be a harsh crit, but it’s better to hear this now, trust me.”

You guys. We’re cool.


An Open Letter to That Book I Never Finished


Dear Book,

It’s not you, it’s me. 

Sure, you hooked me right away. The way you spoke, the way your outer appearance hinted at something deeper…that grabbed me. Stopped me in my tracks. Beguiled me. It was a crush.

And sure, you held me like a book ought, for a while, but I realized that I actually need to love you. In any courtship, the reader has to be won over. And so we cannot continue on in this lie.

There will be other readers for you! I’m sure you’ll be fine.

Will you stop texting me at 2:00 in the morning?