My Thoughts Exactly

SXSW Dreaming

The deadline for submitting panel proposals for South by Southwest Interactive kind of snuck up on me. I learned just before midnight last Friday that the deadline was midnight on Sunday. It turned out that I had a bunch of stuff to do on Saturday and Sunday, so only spent a few hours Sat & Sun evening working on my panel proposal. The hard limit for the proposal was 1,500 characters. My first draft was twice as long. So as the clock ticked towards midnight Sunday I took out my trusty machete and started hacking.

I’m not really happy with the final proposal I submitted, but I thought the 3,000 character draft wasn’t that bad. In any event, it’s a panel that I would like to be on, or, failing that, attend.

So anyway, below you’ll find longer draft, the “before machete” version. Soon enough, I hope, you’ll see my “after machete” version on the SXSW website & I’ll bug yzall for your votes. Thanks.

Self-Publishing Novelists 2011: A Report from the Trenches.

We’ve been hearing for a while that new technologies for authoring, designing, printing, publishing, marketing, distributing and consuming books will disrupt the traditional book publishing business model and empower the everyman self-publisher.
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My Thoughts Exactly

Defcon Leaning

Looks like I’ll be heading to the mother of all hacker conferences, Defcon 18 in sunny Las Vegas 2.5 weeks from now. I’ll be attending parties and tech sessions, trying to not get hacked, and, mainly, selling my famous geekoid hackerific novels from a table in the vendor area.

I’ve got two reasons for wanting to attend: (1) I’m writing another hackerific novel, Creation Science, and I want it to feature either some action at Defcon or at the least, some characters (white & black hat) who are Defcon types. So I’ll be doing passive research & keeping my eyes open. (2) I want to sell books and get some notice for my books. If ever there were a target market for them, I think Defcon must be it. Maybe with a little luck I’ll get some notice as the author of what may well be the ultimate hacker book.

Any of y’all as have been to Defcon or who plan to attend this one, I would appreciate your saying hello in the comments. Any advice on how I can meet my two objectives would be especially welcome. In particular, what’s the best way for me to get the word out to the Defcon crowd about my books before I get there?

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My Thoughts Exactly

Ass over teakettle and a farewell to free ebooks

About three weeks ago I had freak accident on my bicycle. My chain froze as I was pedalling up a hill. I went ass over teakettle and performed a lovely three-point faceplant in the weeds (2 hands + 1 face = 3 ), spraining eight fingers & two thumbs and bloodying up my left cheek, which led to two visits to the emergency room and one to my doctor who told me that much of the symptoms in my hand were coming from my neck, where CT scans revealed “moderate to severe arthritis.”

As I picked myself up off the ground, in shock at the gross betrayal of me by my insubordinate bicycle and angry at gravity, and with my hands hurting ferociously and tingling in equal measure, and later, after calling my daughter, who was off in our family’s only working car, to ask her to come drive me to the hospital, I realized that I was not Cory Doctorow. Even after my daughter had picked up my wife who took me to the emergency room at Martha’s Vineyard hospital & I had heavenly dilaudid pumping into my vein I still was not Cory.

I’m mostly all better now. I even rode my bike a lot yesterday, despite the heat, right down to the Tisbury Street Fair, where I served strawberry shortcake with the guys in the Firefighters Association. It’s been three weeks since my bike mishap & I’m still not Cory. Consequently, I’ve stopped giving my books away for free.
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My Thoughts Exactly

Tweaking the Wetmachine Shop

With help of master wetmechanic Gary, I’ve moved to a “shopping cart” thingy for selling my books here on Wetmachine. In related news, about which I’ll be blogging soon, is that I’ve decided to stop giving away PDF versions of my books. I’m selling them for $3 apiece now.

The shopping cart seems to choke on (physical) mailing addresses outside the USA, I’m unhappy to report. We’re working on getting that fixed, but in the meantime if you live outside the USA and would like to purchase any of the physical things in the shop, use the “Contact Us” form and we’ll figure out a way to do business.

In the simpler world of the “old style” Wetmachine, there was a hand-coded HTML form you could print out to buy books by check-in-the mail, and a hand-coded page for using paypal. Downloads of electronic copies were free. That approach was, frankly, a lot easier for me to deal with than this new shopping cart has been. Getting the shopping cart up and running has been a bit of a pain in the ass, frankly — and it’s not even fully functional yet.

But the world is changing. I now have four books for sale (one of them a pre-order) in several different formats of ebook. The combinatorics were already starting to get unmanageable. I certainly hope to have more and more things for sale in various formats soon (a fifth book, a sixth book, sweatshirts! coffee mugs! personalized Cadillac SUVs!–which would quickly make the combinatorics even worse– so a move to some kind of shopping cart approach was inevitable.

I’m not happy with the appearance of the shop nor with my own dilly-dallying: this should have been done months ago, and it ain’t nobody’s fault but mine.

My books Acts of the Apostles, Cheap Complex Devices and The Pains are still under Creative Commons License and you can find them elsewhere on the net. But on Wetmachine itself I’m going back to give away only sample chapters.

I’ll be blogging about my reasons for this “close the barn door after the cows are out” action in an upcoming post.

Meanwhile if you experience any problems with the wetmachineshop, please use the Contact Us form to let me know.

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My Thoughts Exactly

Smashwords, iPad, Doctorow, Zeldman: further bumbling self-publishing adventures

Over on the Self-Publishing Review, my Adventures in Self-Publishing is still front-paged and generating some nice contact, public & private. Go me! But I’m still not rich yet. So anyway(s), as discussed, I’ve signed up with Smashwords to distribute my Acts of the Apostles. It’s been accepted into the iPad store, for which iPad-hater Cory Doctorow would give me a “boo-bad” and iPad hater-hater Jeffrey Zeldman a “way-to-go”, I expect. DOCTOROW-ZELDMAN STEEL CAGE DEATH MATCH! Or not. So long as they both keep saying nice things about my books it’s all good, as the surfers say.

So far, my Smashwords results not all that impressive: 82 downloads and zero sales.

On the other hand, the book is only available on Smashwords so far, not on Amazon or iPad. Maybe best-sellerdom is right around the corner!

Further reflections on Smashwords, iPad, OpenLaszlo, self-publishing, etc, etc, below the fold.


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My Thoughts Exactly

How to sell a million copies of your novel

Self-publishing novelist R.W. Ridley has some interesting comments. In order to sell a million copies of my novel, he says, I have to change the culture such that *I* am so fracking interesting that people will buy my books because they’re by me. In other words, people are buying the novelist, not the novel.

Not quite sure how to go about making myself that J.K. Rowling/Tom Clancy/Stephen King/Thomas Pynchon(??) -style compelling character, but I’m working on it. In my own bumbling manner. Very bumbling. . . Pynchon???? . . .

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My Thoughts Exactly

Entering the E-book age, kicking and screaming

So after a nearly a decade of giving away PDFs of my first two books, I’ve decided to sell them as ebooks in different formats.

The technical hassles in so doing are bigger than they should be, although most of the problems are perhaps more in my head than in the format-conversion technology.

Mainly, I’m trying to convert PDF versions of my book to MS Word .doc format.

Any help in making me un-stupid in this process would be much appreciated.

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My Thoughts Exactly

Further Adventures in Self-Publishing

In days of old when knights were bold, I wrote an article for a site called Kuro5hin article about my adventures in self-publishing. At the time, I had been a self-publisher for about two years. In it I wrote, “I recommend self-publishing for anybody whose temperament and objectives resemble mine. All others should beware.”

That’s still pretty my much point of view.

Below the fold, I’ve updated & revised that original story & added some additional reflections based on the eight years of self-publishing experience I’ve amassed since then (including six years of making my books available for free download under Creative Commons license).

[This is a cross-posting of a very similar version I put upon Kuro5hin yesterday.]


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My Thoughts Exactly

Roland the Robot explains how publishing works today

I met Roland Denning in the comment thread of an article that Cory Doctorow had written in the Guardian (UK) about “Why free ebooks should be part of the plot for writers.”. I wrote to Roland proposing a book swap: one of my self-published technoparanoid dystopian novels for a copy of his self-published technoparanoid dystopian novel The Beach Beneath the Pavement.

When his book came in the mail, I read two chapters & then set it aside for later, as I was in the middle of a few other books at the time. I haven’t finished reading beyond chapter two yet. All of which context will only make you laugh harder (and cringe more) when you watch Roland’s alter robot ego as he follows the path that leads him to self-published stardom.

Part 2 below the fold. This is simply the best thing on publishing and self-publishing ever. Watch it and cry. Watch it and weep. Watch it and laugh your ass off. Watch it and go buy a few copies of Roland’s book, and then a few of mine.

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