Sunday, February 18, 2018

The Glen's Official Retirement

Yes, that time has come. While it may seem out of the blue for some readers, it has been on my mind for a year or longer. Hey, it had a good run, over five whole years, I would not have believed it would have lasted even this long. I'm officially announcing my retirement from writing posts on Dusted Glen for several reasons.

1: My Writing is Elsewhere

I could say I'm too busy but that's not exactly true. It's just that the time I do have to write I spend it elsewhere. Every time I sit down to work on a manuscript there's that nagging voice in my head that says "You should actually write a blog post." The problem is, if I do, I'm all tapped out on writing, more and more it has been feeling unproductive.

2: Does Anyone Even Read This?

This is an honest question, not a cry for attention. Although my blog comments are few and far between, my last one was in 2014. Also, based on a few people I talk to, I'm under the impression that even people I know no longer read this blog (their discovery of this post will be discovered in 2023 when it appears in a user's feed in the new mega-social media: PinterBookTwumblSnaptagram)

3: Blogs are Old School

With a few exceptions blogs have been replaced my social media and, while not my favorite medium, I find social media to be where any sort of audience is. Therefore, if I am to make any announcements to new books coming out or want to hear from any readers, Blogger is not the destination for it. I'm like Ariel from the Little Mermaid, I want to be where the people are.


But no worries! I won't be deleting Dusted Glen, your Satyr tutorial goodness will still be around as long as Blogger itself lasts.

Meanwhile, for any new or recent updates check out my Twitter @punyauthor or my Facebook profile. If I decide to branch out I will try to add more to Dusted Glen's sidebar.

Thanks for being such great readers and I hope you'll continue to enjoy my books both new and old!


Thursday, February 1, 2018

Whoops

Okay so I did attempt to get a post out on time. In reality I've actually been too busy with my next writing project to make a post. Maybe next month, yeah?


I don't want to leave you without anything to read this month though so here is an article about the reality of self-publishing failure.

http://www.creativindie.com/the-horrible-hidden-truth-about-self-publishing-that-nobody-wants-you-to-know/


Monday, January 1, 2018

Why Amazon Reviews are Important

I really don't want to write this post.

Like really.

I kinda don't even want you to read this post.


Okay I got distracted with the kittens long enough

Here we go.

Originally, when I wrote Dusted I figured Amazon reviews would just trickle in. Whenever I read an indie book I make sure to always give an author a review and, I figured, anyone else would do the same for me. Many indie authors have a page in their book that basically asks you to leave a review, I had decided not to do that. Instead I decided I "wasn't going to beg for reviews" and that if people enjoyed my book enough they would give it a review.

Instead I can now honestly say I have people who would rescue me from a burning building but have never given me an Amazon review.

They did, however, give the building 1 star on Yelp.
I've had people tell me, in person, how awesome my book was, but unless they tell other people to their face or leave a review online it's not going to do more than give me fuzzies. 

The most common excuse I've heard is "I don't know what to say" but it's not that hard.

The story was:

Great
Too slow
Too fast
Well-paced
Awful
Cliche

The characters were:

Hilarious
Even more cliche than the story
Well-rounded
Hollow shells
All Mary-Sues
Awesome

I would:

Get a refund from this book if I were able
Check out the next book in this series
Definitely buy anything from this author again
Highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a fun read
Throw this book in the fireplace
Shank this author in a dark alley

Mix and match at your leisure.

Most important than even the wording is this:


Actually wait, let me zoom in a little...


Enhance

Fuzzy Rainbow Vision activate!
I hate to say this, but quantity actually matters over quality. Ten 5-star reviews won't do me as much good as 100 3-star reviews.

So please give me, and other small-time authors, just a moment of your time and give a quick review. It helps us so much.



Friday, December 1, 2017

Things I have Googled in the Name of Writing

I have looked up some really weird stuff in the name of writing. Here are just a few:

How long does it take for rigor mortis to set in

How long does it take for a wound to become infected

How long before eyes glaze over

How far away can a gunshot be heard

How hard is it to break a neck (harder than I thought, so I scrapped it)

What kind of alcohol burns best

Body temperature extremes for a pregnant woman

Can high schoolers still ride the bus? (Keep in mind I'm homeschooled.)

What to pack when running away

How high can birds fly

How fast can hawks fly

Do birds have eyelashes

Can you escape from the back of an ambulance

Birds sleeping

Dumpster diving

Bird flight

Clothesline trope

Do clothing stores throw away clothes?

How fast does hair grow

Dog enclosure

Do bats have hollow bones?

What is that type of small dog that every old lady has?

How many people can a helicopter carry?

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Digital Versus Print

This is a debate that has raged since the rise of digital books. For a while there was a fear of the death of print. Then again, people have been fearing the death of reading itself since even before that. No matter how many times news sources use catchy terms to convince us, the demise of the written word is always greatly exaggerated. Instead, we find ourselves with a blend of both digital and print these days.

But which one is better? I've had both for years. My love of books exploded when I was about, I think, twelve? One of the first books I ever officially remember "owning" was in 1997 (I was ten years old at that time). I have also owned a Kindle Fire of one type or another for 4-5 years now which is why I will be using it specifically as an example. I used to be vehemently pro-print but I find myself switching over to a preference of digital as time goes on. So here, now, are my own personal observations.

Large print

I'm finding that, as I get older, either text is shrinking or my eyes can't focus as well. Even as I write this with my glasses on and my desktop monitor I find the text too small. I'm zooming in to 125% just so that I don't have to perpetually squint (handy tip: hold down Control and then use your mouse's wheel to adjust the text size.) I know, I know, you're thinking, "People still use desktops!?"

Actual photo of my computer that you're scoffing at right now.
With a regular book you're stuck with the print size unless you specifically buy large print editions, which you have to shell out extra dough for if a version even exists. Meanwhile, on a Kindle, you can change the print size from "Are those even words or just lines?" level of small to a massive "holy crap it's only 3 words per page."

Lighting

I have many memories of long road trips with books in tow. I would sit in the back seat and stubbornly keep trying to read as the light outside would grow dimmer and dimmer as the sun began to set, eventually giving up, closing the book with a satisfying snap, and succumbing to boredom.

I have attempted to read by flickering candlelight in the event of a power outage several times as well, when it's dark outside and the only other option is Monopoly.

I've been tucked away in bed, ceiling light glaring across the pages of a book, as I stay awake for just one chapter (I've never had one of those bedside table lamps.)

Hands down, the lighting feature of a Kindle wins in this regard. You have many more options and places to read when the page itself can light up. These days I pretty much only read books in the dark. These days you can make it even better with white text on a black background and a blue light filter so it doesn't affect your sleep cycle. So far I've been lauding the Kindle However. it comes a drawback, that being the...

Battery

Yes, the pro-print fandom's primary example of why print books will always be superior. I can't really argue against this point much.

Dictionary

It's great to be able to tap a word in an ebook and know exactly what it means instead of stumbling over words like cacophony, aggrandizing, dichotomy, or the words I just used being lauding and vehemently.

"Lauding" in Google Images only came up with politics, so here's a corgi ship.
Bad Covers


Hahahahaha! Oh my God if you want a good time look up "bad sci fi book covers" it was absolutely impossible to find the truly best of the worst in the lot. I picked this one because it's from the only author I recognized.

While I've given it a little thought, I didn't really actively realize this advantage until I stumbled across it in my reading of "ebook vs print" and read this. She makes an incredibly good point about book covers.

Anyway, the point is, you don't have a bad cover facing the rest of the world if you ever crack open a book, and I know you've read some books with embarrassing covers on them.

Portability

It's easy to bring a small paperback on your travels with you except, if you read like me, you finish it quickly and then have nothing to read anymore, and that's not even taking into the account the whole light problem I mentioned previously. I've brought as many as four or five books on a trip. It starts to get really cumbersome after two, and let's not forget if they get damaged. I take very good care of my books and even a single ding on them is heart-wrenching (but we'll get back to that later...) With a Kindle you've got tons of books in a small format that is incredibly portable. Speaking of tons let's not forget...

Weight

Along with portability, this is a big pro-point in the eReading fandom.

I moved when I was 10, then again at 18, and again at about 25, and again about a year ago. In another year there are plans to have a new house built which means moving once again. I can't guarantee it but I will probably be moving at least several more times in my life.

Holy bulging spinal disc, Batman!

Have you ever picked up a box full of books and moved them? Great, now multiply that by 10. Now add in the comic books which, based on their weight, is made by combining osmium, dark matter, and solid gold. You ever pick up just five volumes of The Walking Dead? I packed my comic books in a dozen tiny boxes because any larger and the strain of moving them would have violated some sort of Geneva Convention rules.

This, more than anything else, has motivated me to primarily switch to ebooks. I just have too many books, and if you've moved as many as I have just as often, you really start to question why you're still keeping half of them around.

Post-Apocalyptic Reading

Okay, so that may be a little exaggerated, I know. Everything thinks it though. How in the world are you going to have access to your ebooks once technology ends? Let's be honest though, the chance to read will probably be few and far between, and there will be plenty of books still left in the world. It's not like, once you buy an ebook, you're no longer allowed to buy it in print or, in the event of a post-apocalyptic scenario, raid a brick and mortar bookstore with your barbarian friends.


Price 

I've talked previously about the price of Kindle books and I still stand my ground when I say print is king in terms of prices most of the time.

But when it's not? Oh man...

Price is what got me writing this particular post in the first place.

Less than two weeks ago I got into Comixology. It's one of the largest distributors of digital comics if not the biggest at this point (they were purchased by Amazon only a couple of years ago.) Their prices are comparable to print except they had a publisher's sale on Image comics, which happens to include The Walking Dead, so we're going to use it as our example.

I bought all three Walking Dead compendiums for 50 bucks. To me the massive compendiums are awkward and, being paperback, are prone to damage, but in digital form that's not a factor. So, 50 bucks is a lot, right? Well, let me break it down for you. Keep in mind this is the combines price for all three compendiums. This is, narratively speaking, well into the introduction of Negan, this is #1-#144

I paid: $50
Original digital price: $98.81
Paperback price: $120.23

However, as I said, I don't like large compendiums, I prefer volumes, so let's throw in the price of those. I'm feeling lazy and don't feel like tallying the individual prices of each one, but the compendiums cover volumes 1-24. Assuming it's about $10 per volume that's $240.

What I'm getting at is that, with digital books, you have to bide your time and be patient, but it pays off unlike anything you could possibly manage with print books.

Oh, and since we're on the subject of comics...

Comic Book Layout

I just gotta give a couple of cents here really quick. I've read both digital and print comics and there are two things I just gotta point out.

One: nothing is better than seeing a full comic spread in print form. On my tiny little 8' Kindle it just doesn't cut it, some of the magic is lost. You know, kind of like this:

By Ryan Ottley
Do you have any idea how awesome that shot is in full size!?

Two: Comixology's Guided View is one of the best things ever. I mentioned above the whole large print thing for books, this is almost the comic equivalent. Another thing is that my eyes have a bad habit of darting ahead, even in regular books, but with the guided view it keeps me from any spoilers.

Anyway, back to books.

Damage to books

I've damaged books before.

Sometimes I'm moving an armful, they have slippery covers, and the top half of the stack just...

Falls.

To the floor.

One of two things happens: I instinctively crouch to catch them, causing more of the armful to tumble down, or I stare on in horror with the knowledge that there is nothing I can do to stop it.

Oh God.

Oh my God.

I've hurt my books

I've murdered them.

I gently put the books I'm still holding down and do some damage assessment. Most of the time it's non-existent. Although occasionally I'll end up with a dinged corner in a hardback. But, horror of horrors, occasionally I end up with a folded over corner on a paperback cover.

More frequently is when I lift the book off the shelf faster than I'm pulling it out and it slams into the next shelf above. I've cringed at that. Have you ever thumped a book against something an said "ouch!" by accident, as though it were a part of you? Yeah, I've done that way too often.

I put way too much stock in the pristine condition of my books, but let's be honest, nothing lasts forever. Entropy is a harsh mistress. Even if I keep my books in perfect condition and let no one else read or even touch them there is still the potential damage from so many things. Mold could grow on them from buying an infested book, I'm not sure but I think it sorta spreads to uninfected books? Like a book plague? Same for silverfish or bedbugs. My basement could flood (I've lost a couple of books a long time ago that way), my house could burn down. Heck, sunlight and fireplace heat are slowly breaking them down.

I'm getting off track, basically what I'm saying is that you can't damage a digital book.

When You Buy a Bad Book

Sometimes you just get a bad book. It sucks. Whether you finish it or not, suddenly you have this awful book floating around your house. You certainly can't throw it in the garbage, people can't even throw away books that need to be thrown away.

See?

If you're lucky you can sell it, or donate it so long as it's not an instructional book about Windows 95 or something. Digital books I dislike? Heck I rarely bother to delete them from my library, they're so minimally in my way.

"The Feeling of Holding it in Your Hand"

I know, everyone dreams of that Beauty and the Beast library:


A lot of pro-print people talk about the feeling of a real book in your hand, that sense of completion, the beauty of your books on your shelves.

I remember a reading a webcomic a few years back where one of the characters was boasting about owning every single Terry Pratchett book...in ebook form. The joke was basically how the accomplishment was really diminished. (I would post it here, but it has since been lost among the chaff of the Internet. I could have sworn it was xkcd though.)

I used to be there in that same mindset too, but now I see it as overly romanticized. Since my last move I've taken more of a different attitude towards my print collection. These days my print books are like Navy SEALS: They are the best of the best. Only the finest books make it into the print collection. By doing so it allows those books to shine. To see my bookshelf now is to see my own personal set of what I consider classics.

Keeping books you don't ever plan to read again (or even read at all) for visual appeal is nothing more than ego stroking.

But have you seriously ever really moved that many books before!?


Sunday, October 1, 2017

What Have You Written?

Lots of people dally around say they want to be a writer. I've stated this lots of times. However, to all the people who want to be writers, I ask a question. One that I have asked multiple times before that bears repeating, italicizing, bolding, and possibly even underlining:

What have you written?

Lots of people have no answer because, if they're honest with themselves, they've written little more than a grocery list in the last year. When people hear that I've published a novel (and a short story) they get excited because, hey! I wrote something! What they don't realize is that, beneath my published story, lies tons of other work.


Do you honestly think Dusted was the first thing I had ever written? I don't say "Dusted is my first published novel." I say "Dusted is my first publishable novel" because most of what I've written has been complete and utter trash.

But it was necessary.

The first time Chopin put a paintbrush to canvas he didn't create a masterpiece. When Monet sat down at a piano for the first time he didn't create a classical piece of music. And very few of my readers will get the joke contained within those previous two sentences.

The point is, the first thing you ever write won't be published, neither will the second, nor the third. Do you know how many stories I wrote before writing Dusted? I don't even know, but I lost count at about six.

So, I know you're probably sick of math, but I'm going to answer my own question for you.

What have I written? Here it is (and don't make fun of the titles, some of these are over 10 years old.) anything with a * mark means it's unfinished.

Dusted: 74,858
Wanderlust: 10,909

*Jessica Swift (as of this writing): 36,000
The Stars of Eternity: 41,650
*Dusted Sequel: 34,632
All Just Survivors: 76,396
Angel Queen: 50,743
Angel Gray: 32,130
*Angel Fall: 3,380
*Grey Witch: 9,064
*Eve: 2,095
Hello Diary, Goodbye World: 29,724
Misc Short Story One: 633
Misc Short Story Two: 2,575
*Misc Manuscript One: 2,861
*Misc Manuscript Two: 6,388
*Misc Manuscript Three: 3,378
*Misc Manuscript Four: 1,788
*Sheepdog: 10,464
Tears of Brass: 9,999
Beneath The Gaslamp: 17,600
Waste Not: 9,350
Thicker Than Blood: 7,605
*The Betrayer: 773
*The Witches of Dunraven: 13,408

That's 488,403 words. That's more than the entirety of Stephen King's The Stand which, according to a website called Novelwordcount.com, clocks in at 472,376 (another website had the count at 471k so this is only slightly unreliable)

Fun fact: Stephen King and James Patterson actually have a feud going.

But what about what I have published? Well, it breaks down to 17% of my work being published. That's less than one-fifth. Keep in mind that I'm self-published so this is what I think of my own writing is worth publishing

All of these numbers don't count my blog posts or the collaborative writing I did for over six years with others. Both have helped to hone my skill and, as such, drop my published percentage further.

Don't let this discourage you, however. I'm not saying you have to write the equivalent of The Stand before you can get published. In truth, with a little dusting off and some editing, a lot of my manuscripts could be published. That's not the point I'm trying to make though, what I'm trying to say is that you won't get published at all if your word count remains at 0.

So what are you doing reading my garbage for? Get writing!

Seriously though, Patterson wrote a novel called The Murder of Stephen King.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Does My Novel Have Enough Pages?

I can't answer that question for you. I can, however, hopefully educate you so that you can answer that question for yourself.

Because my answer is: "You're asking the wrong question."

When it comes to writing a lot of writers put stock into page count. Unfortunately page count can be a dubious thing because of how many words are on each page. I used to own a couple of books in multiple formats, but they were victims of The Great Book Purge of 2016 in order to move, so I can't offer a direct comparison of hardback to paperback page count.

"How many pages is it?" I hear from pretty much everyone whenever I tell them about something I'm writing and, every time, I launch into a description of how word count is actually a more accurate indicator. I've seen a lot of eyes glaze over as a result.

Even I used to put some stock into Microsoft's page number, so I was floored when I got my first proof copy and, expecting it to be thin, found it to be a fairly average-sized book!

So here, for your education, is my attempt at a translation of word count to page count.

Readers: "Uh oh, she's bringing math into this."

First, consider text size. I have a manuscript in progress that is 17,000 words. I can immediately change the page count from 37 to 35 by changing it form Calibri font to Times New Roman font. I could also change the page count from 37 to 42 by changing my Calibri font from size 11 to size 12.

There are too  many variables in a document to rely on page count and this is why you should rely on word count instead.

Unless your manuscript contains nothing but "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" the word count is going to be an accurate representation of your hard work. No matter how much you tinker with the font type, size, or margins, your word count will always be the same unless you actually add or subtract words from it.

James Patterson could publish this and it would somehow be a New York Times Bestseller.
Next are some guidelines in regards to word count and what your manuscript technically is. I could swear I've mentioned this before but it bears repeating. Camille LaGuire of The Daring Novelist lays it out beautifully here in this blog post you should totally read. She has 8 different types but I will only be listing 3 as I have always understood it:

Short story: 1,000 to 10,000 words.
Novella: 10,000 to 50,000 words.
Novel: 50,000 and up.

A lot of writers wonder if their novels are long enough. I wondered this a lot with Dusted in its early stages. The story was wrapping up after just 100 pages and I worried it was too small because I had equated 100 pages in Microsoft Word with 100 pages in a book. In reality 100 pages in Microsoft word is pretty respectable, and Dusted actually grew after several edits.

Let me break down some of my manuscripts in both their word count and their Microsoft Word page count and, if applicable, their paperback page count (all of my paperbacks are 5x8 in size.)

Dusted
Word count: 74,858
Microsoft Word Pages: 189 (I found another version that's only 105 pages but contains the same amount of content, weird.)
Paperback Pages: 297

Wanderlust
Word count: 10,909
Microsoft Word Pages: 24
Paperback Pages: 46

Book 3
Word count: 17,125
Microsoft Word Pages: 37

Book 4
Word count: 41,650
Microsoft Word Pages:95
Paperback (proofread copy) pages: 211

Book 5
Word count: 76,396
Microsoft Word Pages:93

So, if you decide you want to use Microsoft Word's page count as an indicator of whether or not your manuscript is at novel-length, let's break it down into averages. Here are those same manuscripts from Microsoft Word, rounded down to the nearest whole, and in no particular order because I have already managed to confuse myself:

712, 396, 821, 454, 462, and 438 words per page.

So, as you can see, the words per page can vary wildly.

Let's break down my paperback page-to-word ratio.

252, 237, 197.

That's pretty significant. One Microsoft Word page can equal as many as 2 or even 4 paperback pages!

Long mathematical story short: If you're using Microsoft Word page count as an indicator of your success, then you're really selling yourself short.