The Smashwords Winter/Summer sale is pending again, and we’re just going through options at the moment. From a Business perspective, the March price increases have thrown a little more effort into the selection because at the same price, irrespective of length the whole catalog can be set with a click of the button. 75% discount, free to the public and costs covered… BUT, while this has worked in the past, recent changes in the eBook domain with regards to sales tax, with-holding tax and download charges creeping in, the sales month becomes a loss-leader and the hidden costs that the public don’t get to see drag the unsuspecting author into the black. So this year, a 75% discount will still avail the novella and short-short titles free to the public, and cost the larger works at USD1. This not only balances the catalog, but the bank balance as well. Click on the button and lets see what July brings.
More on ‘Weatherman’; I’m loving what is coming out of our crusty old trunk. It is definitely a Novella, with an approximate length of 30K words and is an ideal piece to examine the sacred and the profound view of what the human body means to the Cyberpunk community. Keep posted on more of how that’s going over the next few updates.
On the business front, my review is complete for the year and we have a Plan for the next five years. Our Business model is sound, at least 2 major releases a year, every year until we hit the ‘magical number’ of twenty titles in the catalog. That way we are able to position ourselves for the 20title/USD50kpa model without too much fuss, even if we don’t leverage that immediately, the door isn’t blocked. I would have to schedule release of ‘Grabens’ and ‘Canyons’ (Smithereens 4 and 5), the untitled Steampunk 1 and 2, and the untitled Agency Tales 4 to take us to 19 titles of the ’20 title’ model. That would take us to the end of 2022. That gives three years to leverage the existing catalog for marketing and for boxed sets. If ‘Weatherman’ is loosely positioned in the ‘Sol Senate – Future History’ milieu, then we can box all of those titles with another edit and get to the 20 title number with that. This would make an Agency Tales box set viable, if not with me then perhaps in collaboration with another publisher. So off we go on that, then.
Other Business is that this blog/portal is about to get 10k hits! People are actually reading this. In 2014 when we repackaged the old HTML site, we were hovering at around 1600 hits, and had been constant on that for awhile, mostly for the Wargames, Role-Playing Modules and Computer games posts. It was a good idea to transcribe to the WordPress engine and focus on the writing instead, even if there were some teething problems and abuse. If you go back, you’ll remember that we had serious spam issues of hack attempts, nefarious individuals trying to insert viagra spam into posts and lacing the comments section with malware and exploits. We decided to close down the comments section, because hey… if it’s not concerning or related to the blog post, why would I care? And there was a lot of that nonsense… people trying to use MY blog to tell everybody about their shit. Over 900 spams a minute at one point in the game, so we shut it down and have never looked back. I’ve done the business model and costed this portal for a shopping cart for the Title range to be available directly on a Print-on-Demand ordering system, and to date… it doesn’t pay. It MAY still pay on an eBook .pdf or .epub model with a specific volume of orders, but we haven’t exceeded that number reliably over the last 60 months and we really should before we start on that. So that’s shelved.
More Business… editors! So this is going to turn into a rant, but bear with me here! Editors are not an all-purpose label for someone who can use a spell-checker, and those who can only do that shouldn’t really call themselves ‘an editor’ and expect a constant flow of the good cash into their wallets for no value. I use an emeritus editor that is specialized in Science Fiction, SpecFic and Fantastika and is quite frankly brilliant for his insight and his oversight. I would NEVER submit Yaoi-Regency-Historical-Romance works to him, because why…?
So how come I am constantly tripping over Yaoi-Regency-Historical-Romance-Unicorn-Fantasy editors who will take my cash in order to flat-line my Sci-Fi and Fantastika? This ‘you should explain’ more about the world dumbing-down handbrake is because said unicorn-vampire-halfling-thief-heroine-editor has never even read a Asimov robot novel in his/her life. This problem extends all the way through the futurism, magical reality and hard science-fiction streams and is annoying as all hell. Sure, I’ll pay you for your work, but don’t expect a reference form me… expect the reverse. If you don’t come as advertised, then frickin’ set boundaries so I know what I’m getting up front! Do the whole world a favor, just do that! Okay… done now…
So… not I’m not! I’m not done now. So if I’m using Afrikaans/Spanish/Swahili patois in an imagined world, or a pseudo-code conversation between AI… there is NO WAY a spellcheck is going to force a realization of what the conversation is about. Taking it out of context, explaining it with frickin’ Grammerly or something is not what I would expect. If I wanted to write in Grammerly, then everything would look like fantasy fan-fic and I would only produce the average of what I wanted to say. I would also use Grammerly or something like it instead of any reason to get an Editor! So do yourself a favor and do some reading into the subject matter before you go hunting for marks. Now, I’m done!
The last of the Business is in expanding the reach of the brand. I’ve done some research on the titles for Caldon Mull and I think I need something more for certain titles. African continental writers need to shimmy up their game a bit, but I can’t identify where just yet. Their output seems to languish unnoticed in some or other trap of obscurity, unless it streams out willy-nilly into online niche publications to likewise languish there. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of what respected publishers like Ivor W. Hartmann or even the Luna Press is doing by compiling and collecting and thereby introducing Africans onto the International stage as authors. Perhaps this needs to change, perhaps unusual collaboration is the key here. I have to think some more on this.
Perhaps we do need to collate a body of work that is distinctly African first, and then move to a more granular view of the people within that body of work over some more time to come.