Thursday, September 22, 2016

Why I Hardly Ever Use My Mailing List

(If I could draw, this would be a comic strip instead.)

Me: *reading writing blogs while shamefully snacking on something I'm not supposed to eat*

Writing Blog: DO YOU WANT TO SELL MORE BOOKS? THEN YOU SHOULD GROW YOUR MAILING LIST! IT'S THE KEY TO BECOMING A BEST-SELLING AUTHOR. THAT'S WHAT I DID AND NOW I SELL THOUSANDS OF BOOKS EVERY YEAR.

Me: *drops the rest of the bad food I was eating on the ground and has to throw it away to keep my dog from devouring it and getting sick* OH MY GOD! That's what I have been doing wrong this entire time! I need to grow my mailing list!

Me: *logs into Mailchimp fervently* Let's see. How many people are on my mailing list?

Mailchimp: You have 30 people subscribed to your mailing list and one of those people is you. Pathetic.

Me: I can't become a bestselling author with only 30 people on my mailing list! I need to fix this.

Writing Blog: THE KEY TO GETTING PEOPLE TO SIGN UP FOR YOUR MAILING LIST IS TO ADD ONE OF THOSE POP-UPS TO YOUR WEB-SITE THAT WON'T GO AWAY UNTIL PEOPLE SIGN UP FOR YOUR MAILING LIST.

Me: I HATE those pop-ups. They're the worst thing ever. *logs into Weebly* I have to do this! People will be so annoyed by them that they'll HAVE to sign up for my mailing list. GENIUS!

****SIX WEEKS PASS****

Me: OH YEAH! I added that pop-up. I need to check Mailchimp and see how well it has worked. *logs on to mailchimp*

Mailchimp: You have 30 people on your mailing list.

Me: That can't be right. I made my pop-up extra annoying and weebly says I've had a couple thousand visitors to my website since then.

Thousands of people who have been visiting my website: *goes to E.B. Black's website and sees the pop-up* F*** this! I'm leaving. *exits the website without seeing or doing anything*

Me: I wonder why my sales are worse ever since I added that pop-up to my site! Oh well! Must be a coincidence!

****ANOTHER WEEK PASSES****

Me: *checks Mailchimp* AGH! Still only 30 people on my mailing list! I need to change this. I know! People like money! And contests! I'll give them money! And contests!

My Blog: *SIGN UP FOR MY NEWSLETTER AND WIN A $100 AMAZON GIFT CARD*

Me: *logs into Mailchimp a few days later*

Mailchimp: You have 100 subscribers!

Me: *spits out water that I was drinking* Wow! It worked!

WRITING BLOG: NOW THAT YOU'VE GROWN YOUR MAILING LIST, YOU NEED TO PROVIDE QUALITY CONTENT TO YOUR SUBSCRIBERS TO KEEP THEM HAPPY.

Me: *types up a long story and also a post full of interesting facts, it takes me days to complete, emails it to my mailing list* They'll love this!

****A FEW DAYS PASS****

Me: *logs into Mailchimp*

Mailchimp: Only fifteen people opened your e-mail and out of those, ten unsubscribed.

Me: NO! I have to fix this. Maybe they don't want quality content! They just want free stuff! Give them free stuff!

My Newsletter: Get all the books I've written for free. Here's a link to all of them. I just want to thank you for being a part of my mailing list.

****A FEW DAYS PASS****

Me: *logs into Mailchimp*

Mailchimp: Only Fourteen people opened your e-mail and out of those, ten unsubscribed.

Me: *ripping out all my hair* But I was giving them everything I had, I was giving it to them for free and they didn't like it! I mean, I did get them all to sign up because of my contest. Maybe that's the only thing they care about, contests and money. I just need to run more contests and money.

My Blog: WIN A $100 AMAZON GIFT CARD BY SIGNING UP FOR MY MAILING LIST! IF YOU'RE ALREADY ON MY MAILING LIST, YOU DON'T EVEN HAVE TO DO ANYTHING TO WIN!

My Newsletter: Here! I'm giving away another Amazon gift card! You don't have to do anything to win it. All you have to do is stay on my mailing list and you can win! Here's some links to some other contests, too, if you like contests.

****A FEW DAYS PASS****

Me: *logs into mailchimp*

Mailchimp: Only Thirteen people opened your e-mail and out of those, ten unsubscribed.

Me: WHAT?! THEY HATE MONEY NOW!!! *rips out a lot of hair* I give up. I don't know what to do. I only have 70 subscribers now and I don't want to lose all of them.

****SIX MONTHS PASS****

Me: *logs into mailchimp*

Mailchimp: You have 70 subscribers.

Me: Huh. Still? I thought all of them would have unsubscribed by now.

Mailchimp: Nope. You still have 70 subscribers after all this time.

Me: Hmmm, well, maybe since they are so loyal to my mailing list, I should tell them about how I'm giving away all my books for free again. *thinks about how I lost 10 subscribers last time I did that* Or maybe not, this way I can keep all my subscribers. They get angry when I e-mail them things.

Mailchimp: But those subscribers don't mean anything if you don't actually mail them any newsletters.

Me: SHUT UP MAILCHIMP. *logs off Mailchimp* I'LL DO WHAT I WANT.

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And that's the story of why I'm usually too scared to send e-mails through my mailing list. THE END.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

How To Become A Bestselling Author - GUARANTEED!

Step 1:

Join The Psychic School For Clairvoyant Development.

You need to write for trends. This is important if you want your books to sell well.

But you can't write for the trends happening now, because by the time you finish the novel, the trend will be over. You must write for the trends that are going to happen in two years when you are done editing and writing your book.

This is why you must join this psychic school and develop your latent psychic talents. All bestselling authors can tell the future and knew their book was going to be a bestseller even before they wrote the first chapter.

Duh. It's so easy. I don't know why all authors don't write for trends.

Step 2:

Write books with a list about how to become a bestselling author, even though you don't have a bestselling novel so desperate writers will buy it and your book about writing bestsellers will become a bestseller. And then when anyone accuses you of not having written a best seller, you can point at this book and say,"See! I have a bestseller!"


And then when your publish your fiction books, you can write on the cover,"From Bestselling Author..."

Whoops. Let's try that again....

(New) Step 2:

Read lists like this over and over again until you memorize them. I monetized my blog and now the more you read it, the more money I make. That's why I write lists like these. There are a lot of writing rules out there and unless you memorize all of them, including this list of rules, you will not become a bestseller. I knew someone who forgot a comma in one of her sentences one time and her book got 100 one star reviews because it was terrible. I hate authors who don't use editors and know nothing about good grammar and spelling. I throw books across the room when this happens.

No one can write a perfect novel, but if your novel doesn't become a bestseller than that means you weren't perfect, missed one of these rules, and now you suck and everyone hates you.

Step 3:

Make your books free.

You can't make any money unless you give your books away.

How does that work, you ask? Well, you were taught math wrong in school. You always thought $0=$0, but if you add enough zeros together, like, if you give away 100 books for $0, it actually equals $1,000.

Ebooks are magic, you see, and bestselling authors are skilled wizards who have learned to manipulate this magic. They make their first book free and as readers click on the download button, wires get crossed and every 0 actually gets a 1 added in front of it. That's what binary code is all about. It's really complicated, but if you become an android, then binary code will make sense to you and you'll learn how to add all those 1's in front of all those 0's.

So, you see, all you have to do if you want to become a bestselling author is replace some of your organic parts with cybernetic ones!!! It's that easy!!!

Step 4:

You have to use social media to sell your books. Readers are eager to network with authors, so you must join every single social media site out there. Even ones no one has ever heard of, like Ello. I've had an account on there for years that I never use and it's so helpful to me!

It won't take that much of your time to update them regularly. Only about 25 hours a day, 8 days a week. That might sound like a lot of time, but this is where your cybernetic parts also come in. They'll help you stay awake, so you never have to sleep again.

Also, don't forget that if you want to be on social media 25 hours a day, 8 days a week, you're going to have to learn how to turn back time using your wizarding skills that I was talking about earlier.

If you don't have wizarding skills, no problem! Just join The Grey School Of Wizardry and you'll be on your way to turning back time in no time. It's THAT easy!

All this time I was trying to sell books without cybernetic parts, psychic powers, and magical spells. I was so stupid.

Step 5:

If you tried all these steps and none of this stuff worked, then I'm afraid that your problem must be a terrible book cover. Everyone knows that people judge books by their covers, so if no one likes your novel then your book cover must SUCK!

There are award winning authors out there and they are award winners for a reason. Their covers are beautiful, take this gem, which is a book cover for a book written by an author with several awards. Her book has almost 300 reviews, which is more than most of us will ever see:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0064409597

Have you ever seen a cover that was more perfect? I know it's hard to imagine making a cover as pretty as that one, but you're going to have to if you want to become a bestselling author.

We all want to believe that society loves the ugly people and that they're just as special as the pretty ones, but we just tell that to ugly people so they stop feeling bad about themselves. Books are the same way.

If you want your book to be loved and not be rejected by society, then you're going to have to make it beautiful. JUST FACE IT!

Step 6:

If you tried all these steps and your book is still not a bestseller, then I'm sorry, but we're going to have to kick you out of writing. Because the problem probably is that you just suck period.

Like I said, these steps are guaranteed, so if you tried them and failed, then that must mean there is something inherently wrong with you.

This is not me being a narcissist or talking down to you, I'm just better than you and always right. So if my list doesn't work for you, then you just suck and I'm sorry, but you'll have to quit publishing.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Poetry Is Not Just A Bunch Of Metaphors

You may or may not know, but I recently added a poetry section to my website, where I posted several poems I've written in the past year. It's located here: http://www.ebblack.com/poetry.html

I've written poetry off and on my entire life. I think most people have done the same. It's because writing a poem is much quicker than writing a novel or even a short story. It's a faster way to get a feeling, thought, or experience off your chest.

That's not to say it's easy. Every word in a poem matters, so much more so than it does in a novel or short story. This is especially true if you want your poem to have rhyme and meter. While you can word your scenes a million different ways in short stories/novels and still have many of those ways be correct, it's not the same with poetry. There's only one right word at the end of each line. Only one word that makes sense in the beginning. Most of writing poetry is choosing a bunch of wrong words first, erasing them and replacing them with something better, until you find the right one. Every word in a poem changes the meaning, rhythm, and rhyme so much.

With a poem, you try to cram your big thoughts into a small space.

The mistake I think a lot of poets make is failing to communicate their message. When most of us think of poetry, we think of English class. We remember reading poems that were confusing and full of metaphors. We didn't get the poems or their meanings until our teachers pulled them apart by each line and explained them to us. So a lot of poets want their poems to be mysteries.

It's a pretentious sort of thing to want. You're mysterious so only "smart" people will get what you are trying to say. Then, later, when no one gets what you are trying to say, you feel frustrated and angry. You feel like your poem is too "deep" for anyone but you to understand.

Don't think I am attacking you if this is how you write poetry. That is how I used to write poetry as well a lot of my life. Also, there are exceptions to every rule.

But I don't think that's how poetry is supposed to be. Of course there are going to be metaphors and similes in poems, but don't become so abstract that no one gets you.

Writing is all about communication. It's the most important thing. Communication is more than just speaking words. You must say them in a way that people will understand.

Most people don't care about this, but it's a strong concern of mine because my mother has high-functioning autism. She speaks English, but sometimes it's like she's speaking a foreign language when she talks to other people. I get what she's saying because I've known her all my life, but most people don't. Watching her talk and forget to make eye contact or make weird hand gestures or say things at the wrong time gets her in all kinds of trouble, more than you would imagine. People get mad at her a lot when she has good intentions or ignore her when she's trying to speak to them.

If you don't know how to communicate in a way that people understand, they're not going to get what you have to say. Being confusing isn't going to make them like you more. My mother can't help that she's confusing, but a poet can.

What makes poetry great is not the clever metaphors and similes. It's the message. You want to say something that other people haven't thought of before or wish they could say, but don't know how. You want to convey the feeling behind the message, the darkness or the light, in your words. You want people to get it. It's more important for people to understand your message than to use metaphors or similes at all. Those are just tools, your message is what is actually important.

Look at the poetry people share on social media. I don't mean poetry they wrote themselves, but poetry other people wrote. It usually has a strong, emotional message that is conveyed very clearly. It's not usually ambiguous.

The point I'm trying to make is that when you write poetry each word is important, but don't get so caught up in the words that you forget your message.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Writing Twenty Versions Of The Same Story - How To Write A "Choose Your Own.." Novel

***WARNING: I'm not a writer who can draw, so be ready for some funny looking charts that I made using Windows Paint.***

Some of you may or may not know this, but I've been working on launching a web-site where I write "Choose Your Own Romance" novels that people can read for free. I'm trying to make money from it using ad revenue and through donations (eventually) instead of selling my stories on Amazon as ebooks. This is due to the fact that I am tired of some of the new policies Amazon has forced on self-published authors (I don't want to solely depend on them for author income) and trying to keep up with the increasing demand of free books. Also, I want to try to discourage piracy online by giving people other alternatives for free reading. If I can find a way to still make money and offer some stories for free at the same time, it might help things for me and other authors who are looking for more options. Also, "Choose Your Own" stories work very well on web-sites compared to other e-books because they are interactive and involve clicking things.

Here is the web-site I've been working on::

http://chooseyourownromance.weebly.com/

These stories have actually been in my head for awhile. Not only did I grow up reading "Choose Your Own Adventure" stories, in particularly, the "Give Yourself Goosebumps" stories by R.L. Stine, but I'm also a huge fan of video games where you make storyline decisions, like: the Mass Effect games, Dragon Age games, and Walking Dead games. The writers for these games are amazing!

I've been studying their techniques. A lot of the romances in Dragon Age and Mass Effect are very deep. Your interactions with the characters in all of the games, both romantic and friendly, have a tendency to tug at your heart strings. You get to know them, their quirks, and their struggles. Sometimes you are betrayed by them and sometimes they sacrifice themselves for your cause. It's often an emotional experience and I've played these games enough to see all the different choices and all the different results of these choices. I've studied and thought about the patterns of these choices.

I wanted to write my own stories where the readers chooses what happens during the story. This is both much easier and much harder than you could imagine. I wanted to share with you what I have learned.

I think the biggest mistake that people make when writing a choose your own story is wanting the world to be completely open-ended. They want every choice to be possible for the reader to make. They want the world to be totally in the readers control, even though this is impossible. There are an infinite number of ways someone can choose to react to any given situation and only a certain number of ways that the world is likely to react back. Because we can only control our own actions and not others. So when they try to write a "Choose Your Own" story, instead of realizing this, they wind up with something like this because they want to include every possibility of everything.



Every choice breeds five new choices and the story grows and grows and grows. Each choice sets the character further and further into a different corner of the world the writer has created. You wind up writing 300,000 words of story and then you are left with a million different endings and a jumbled mess of a book. No two people read the same story and everyone thinks the story is too short because even though you wrote a lot of words, people only read a small section of it.



Now, one of the ways people solve this is by having some bad endings, where the reader made a "bad" choice and the book ends early and tragically. They are there to cause tension in the "Choose Your Own Adventure" because now the reader knows that it's possible to die and that they  might have to start the story all over again.



But you can't have too many of these. In fact, you must have hardly any of them because if the reader's character is dying every time she makes a choice or every other time (because every time she chooses the wrong choice, you give the reader a bad ending), then they are going to give up on the book. The bad choices, when there are too many, take a reader out of the book. They make a reader resent your story and be unable to get lost in it because they're constantly dying/failing and worrying about that instead. There will be many more ways to fail than succeed and the succeeding should outweigh the failing by far. You want the reader to feel like they have options, not like they are stuck on one specific path and if they deviate off it at all, they lose everything.



To make matters worse, when you write a "Choose Your Own Romance" story it is nothing like a "Choose Your Own Adventure." You can not have ANY and I mean ANY bad endings at all. People expect a happily ever after. They want to fall in love with your story and the male lead. It will make them miserable if he suddenly dies or breaks up with them because they did something small and insignificant like take a right during the wrong part of the story instead of a left.

So....what do you do? How do you write a "Choose Your Own..." story without the story going into a million different directions or having a million bad endings? How do you make the world feel open and the reader feel involved in their choices and still make the story long?

What you have to do is have points in your story where everything connects again. You can have choices lead into random direction, but they have to lead back to the main path eventually. You have to gently nudge the reader into the direction you want them to go at regular intervals.

It sounds like you're taking away their free will, doesn't it? Like you're not giving them choices? Because they're always going to wind up in certain spots no matter what they do?

That's not true unless you write the story wrong. Let me explain...

Let's say the reader is traveling through a cave during part of the story. They come across a deep cavern and have to get across it. You give them a series of choices. Do they find a way to build a bridge across? Do they get a rope and swing across? Do they build a contraption that can throw them across? Do they find a mage who can help them levitate across?

Any of the choices they make will completely change the story and what the reader's character does. In one they might go searching for a tree outside the cave and use the log from chopping it down to make the bridge. In another, they seek the help of a friendly mage who gave them a stone to contact them with earlier in their travels. In a different version they have a rope in their bag that they brought with them and they use it. In another they get to work on gathering supplies and using their building skills to assemble something together. In each version, they do a completely different thing. The story varies wildly.

But you know what? In every version they wind up on the other side of the same cavern, ready to progress to the next part of the story. They can't make a choice where they don't wind up on the other side, even though you gave them several options of what they can do. Because the story actually consists of the reader and the writer working together. The reader makes the choices of how they will accomplish things and the writer gently guides them forward towards the next thing.

What does that look like? Well. here's a diagram I made of the choose your own story that I'm writing so far and how all the choices line up (some of the choices had to be drawn by hand and that's why some of the arrows look weird and different.) I'm only about 1/3 or so through the story, so a full story will have a much longer diagram than this.


In the end, all the choices eventually meet up, even when they vary widely and all over the place, like they do towards the end of this diagram.

Because writing a "Choose Your Own.." story means writing a hundred DIFFERENT versions of the SAME story. I think it's a good and interesting practice in writing and it's a lot of fun because authors already do this. We consider a million different ways to write the same scene and try to figure out which one is the best. But in a "Choose Your Own" story, you write every version of the same scene you come up with and let the READER decide through their choices which version they think is the best.

Do they kiss in this scene or wait until later? Do they climb up the rope or take the stairs instead? It's not up to you, it's up to the reader!

I suggest, if the choices are confusing that you make a diagram of them with the page numbers on them to help you keep track of all the choices. A storyboard could help a lot and a detailed outline could make things a lot easier. I don't recommend writing this kind of book if you're new to writing. It's hard enough with just a linear book to keep all your facts and information straight. "Choose You Own..." stories make it a million times worse, but if you feel like this is the way you should go for your first book, then go ahead. I just don't think it will be an easy journey.

I know this sounds crazy, but I am actually writing this story as a pantser. It's easier to come up with it as you write than you might think, if you're experienced in writing. This is because you can divide the story up into chunks. Each section where all the decisions meet up again is the end of a chunk. I fill in all the blanks and all the decisions and all the possibilities for each chunk before moving on to the next one. To me, they are like chapters, some simpler and harder than others. This helps me keep the stories straight.


I also make sure to number all the pages to keep the choices straight as I'm writing it, even though I know I'll delete those later. Because you have to make sure to keep track of how the story progresses. The last thing you want to do is write a bunch of pages and not know what order they go in later.

And I'm not making the page numbers that complicated yet. I suggest that this be the last thing you do if you're writing a paperback. While traditional "Choose Your Own" stories have you going from page 2 to page 300 in the very beginning, I'd suggest you mixing up the pages later after you finishing writing it. Because you don't know how many pages the story is going to be in the end and it's easier to keep the story straight in your mind if the choices are more linear until you're finished writing. Otherwise, you might tell someone to turn to page 400 and find out later that you didn't write 400 pages worth of content. There will be holes everywhere with missing pages that are supposed to be there. If you do ebooks or a web-site, you'll never have to change the linear page numbers because there will be no page numbers, just clicking.

I also suggest, as I did in my diagram that you keep the choices in the beginning of the story fairly simple, where you make a choice and meet in the middle again pretty fast. Make things more complicated later. This is because, in the beginning, you are setting up the story and want the premise to be pretty straightforward and mostly the same for everyone. You can complicate things more and more later on.

Just make sure, if you write "A Choose Your Own..." story that you vary the patterns of the choices here and there or the reader will catch on. You can't make it too simple for them. They'll pick up on your patterns and know where the stories intertwine exactly and stop feeling like they're the ones making choices. They'll see you intervening and forcing them into certain directions.


"Choose Your Own..." stories aren't as well known as a lot of novels, even though I think they are well-liked. They seem intimidating to write before you start and they can be difficult, but become easier as you get the hang of it.

Because of the e-books and the internet, luckily, "Choose Your Own..." stories are more reader friendly than ever because now readers can make their choices simply with a click of the button. So I'm surprised more "Choose Your Own..." stories haven't been written lately.

I hope more of you start writing "Choose Your Own.." stories and that this post about tips and suggestions on how to write a story like this helps you write it. I enjoy reading "Choose Your Own..." stories as much as writing them and if you have any suggestions of any that you think I should read, especially romance ones, then please tell me in the comments.

Friday, June 24, 2016

How To Make All Your Books Free And Still Make Money (How Google Adsense Could Become More Profitable Than Amazon For Selling Books)

When I first self-published Pandora's Mistake on Amazon a few years ago and made it free, it was a totally different Amazon than when I self-published Bright's Passion and made it free a couple of months ago.

The first six months of Pandora's Mistake being free, I got over 10,000 downloads on it and I did ZERO advertisements for it. ZERO.
 
That number dwindled down a lot over the years. I thought it was because my book was old (nothing makes readers excited as much as a new release!) When I released Bright's Passion, I knew I wouldn't get 10,000 downloads, but I expected a lot more than I got. I don't think I've even gotten a 1,000 downloads at this point in total, even though it's also free.

I spent $800 advertising it on its release day. That $800 turned out to mean that I spent over a dollar for every book I convinced someone to download. These were books I was GIVING AWAY for FREE. And people are turning up their nose at it.
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Searching for people to give free books to on Amazon is almost as difficult as trying to find water in the desert.
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You may say that I just suck as a writer and that must be what is happening to me (and you're entitled to your opinion, I support you if you want to hate me or my writing), but I've learned a lot since I released Pandora's Mistake. I've changed my writing based on reviews. My story went through way too many critique partners and an editor. You may still think it sucks anyway, but those are the facts. I put in a lot of effort to try to make my new books better than my old books are.

It used to be hard to sell a book for $2.99 a few years ago. Now, it's just as hard to give away books for free. If authors are sitting down, telling each other that the writing on a FREE book isn't good enough or the cover isn't good enough when they are making NO PROFIT on this book for people to download, think about what that means for authors. We're in such a high state of competition right now that you have to have a nearly perfect product in order for people even to consider downloading it at no cost to them. That's intense.

People don't go to the grocery store and turn down free samples because someone's handing out string cheese and they'd prefer something more gourmet.

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Your Gourmet Cheese Sample Is Ready
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Then, on top of all of that, pirating is getting worse than ever. People are finding sites to download authors' books for free (if their books aren't already available for free.)

They don't even need pirate sites to do this. People are "purchasing" books on Amazon and then returning them the next day to get them for free. There have even been cases where readers have done this and sent the author a message about how they shouldn't be charging for their books at all. And then getting angry when the author is offended that the person doesn't want them to make a living.

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People Are Using Amazon Like It's A Library.
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The fact is that authors are no longer valued on Amazon by either customers or the company itself. Amazon makes it very difficult to get a hold of them about any issue. (As a customer, you can get them to call you in less than five minutes. As a seller, you e-mail them and wait a week.) They're constantly changing the rules. First, they pressured us to be exclusive through Kindle Unlimited (because Amazon is the only web-site where any books get sold and they'll limit your visibility if you don't go along with KU.) Then they kept changing the rules of Kindle Unlimited. We get paid less and less every month per page. They changed our page count to make it shorter, so we get less money even if people read the whole book.

I've felt so much pressure from all of that, that now you can get all four of the novels I've written for less than two dollars in total (two are free, the other two are $0.99) and just in case that's too expensive for anyone, I kept those two paid novels in Kindle Unlimited.

It's become a toxic relationship. We're all so desperate for Amazon to approve of us. They keep dangling the golden carrot (our dream to make a living as an author) in front of our faces. They make it next to impossible to catch it. But we keep trying and we keep dreaming. Because that's what authors are-professional dreamers.

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Mmm. Delicious dream carrots.
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And when we complain because we dropped thousands of dollars on our books between editing, professional book covers, and advertising, big name authors will tell us to stop complaining. If our books were any good, we would get paid or something like that. (Because the world is fair and we all always get everything that we deserve! *sarcasm*) And as I keep hearing over and over again,"No one owes you a living."

It has a speck of truth in it. No one owes us a living, it's true. But if you just keep accepting people treating you poorly and paying you very little...If you keep going back to it over and over again...If you do nothing to retaliate against any of it...Then people will take advantage of you forever. Because you accept nothing in return for your work and you're happy about it. No one owes me a living, so why even bother trying to convince them? ;) If they want to hurt us by giving us less profit, then we must deserve it, right? There is never any other motivation for them doing so?

It's just kind of how the world works. When you're not valued, then neither are your complaints. In fact, people will be irritated with you for even bothering to complain at all. People, if they read this, might be irritated with me as well for writing this. Because they don't want to hear stories about people struggling. They want to hear the stories about people making it and pretend the struggling never happens or that it's the fault of the people struggling. They might not want to buy my books because they only want to buy books from rich authors. But that's another topic altogether.

I'm still going to self-publish novels with Amazon. I like trying different things and not putting all my eggs in one basket, which means staying with Amazon in addition to other things. When most people say this about self-publishing, they mean that they don't want to be in Kindle Unlimited, but I think we need to go bigger than that. We need to not depend on Amazon at all.

Because, the fact is, Amazon bans authors sometimes from ever publishing with them again for life. You don't want that to happen to you and you to lose your dream because of it. You don't want anyone to have that much power over you.

http://www.thepassivevoice.com/2016/06/think-you-couldnt-possibly-lose-your-amazon-publishing-account-think-again/

Think that Amazon doesn't ban authors for life from publishing with them? Read that link. You get no warning about it and you may never be able to get your account back again. They're also not going to give you a reason why they're doing it.

And these kinds of things have been happening for awhile. If you have links in the wrong parts of your books or content in your novels that Amazon finds objectionable, even though they give us no guidelines about what is objectionable or not, then you're screwed. Your book might get banned or your account might get banned. You've worked so hard and a blow like that is painful.

When people go back to a personal relationship over and over again where they're not appreciated, we call it being a doormat and say that maybe the relationship should end. But if people get in a business relationship where they're never paid or appreciated and expected to do a lot of work, people get told to suck it up. Just read the comments on that "The Passive Voice" article I linked to above for some examples.
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Protection From Toxic Relationships
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People make so many excuses for Amazon when there really is none. They just know they're the only place we can go to and that they don't need us, so they want us to suck it up.

So, between readers being unwilling to pay authors for their books and Amazon wanting to pay as little to authors for their books as possible, I've decided that I need to try new things in addition to the old. (I won't be taking my books down from Amazon any time soon.)

I already have been writing hubpages, but in addition to that, I'm also working on a web-site where I'm going to be posting "Choose Your Own Romance" stories and making them available for free. I make money online this way through advertising revenue. Hubpages has its own advertising revenue, but in both places, I also use Google Adsense, which is a very popular way people make money online through their web-site or through videos or articles.

It's a way of dealing with all these people who want free content from you, but also still making money from it. You get paid every time someone clicks on the advertisements on your site.

Now, you don't want a web-site so covered in advertisements that people can't load the page or even figure out where the content is among all the advertisements surrounding it. That will make people run for the hills.
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Advertisements Everywhere
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But a moderate amount of advertisements might help a lot of authors make more money from writing. Because you can give the books away from free and depend on the advertisers to pay you instead.

A lot of people have been doing this for awhile. Youtube is like the self-published version of television. Anyone can make an account and upload videos. They use google adsense to advertise and get money from views.

Television networks do this as well. They need commercials to make money on their television shows.

It's a good idea for authors to take advantage of this, too.

And I don't mean just by writing articles, although that's great, too! The web-site I've been working on lately is going to have full length novels on it for people to read.

And because "Choose Your Own" stories involve a lot of hyperlinks, I don't think it's a good idea to post them on Amazon, since they've been banning people for having things like table of contents (which is full of hyperlinks) in the wrong place.

 http://teleread.com/amazon-pulls-e-books-table-contents-placement/

Google Adsense has also made me see how Amazon and a lot of its rules and bannings are done just to make things difficult for people because they don't care.

I can't say for sure how great Google Adsense is. I may run into problems with them someday. I haven't been using them for long, but they are already a step above Amazon so far.

For instance, they have several pages explaining what content is restricted or not:

https://support.google.com/adsense/answer/1348688

Romance and erotica authors have been wanting Amazon to do a similar thing with them for a long time, too, since so many romance and erotica books get taken down without an explanation as to why, other than they broke the girls.

They don't have the ambiguous Amazon rules, where Amazon wants you to guess what content is banned or not because it's "about what you would imagine."

And it seems if you get in trouble for content, they will contact you personally through e-mail and tell you which pages are a problem, which is also refreshing.

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Checking E-mail

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Google makes a lot of its revenue on advertisements and it needs people to provide content for those advertisements, so I feel that the site will probably value me more than Amazon does because they need content providers to make a living.

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe this whole thing will blow-up in my face. Or maybe this is the direction books will go in the future.

Maybe we'll sell everything on our own web-sites instead of on Amazon.

I just want to say that you're not crazy if you're upset by the way Amazon is treating you sometimes. You're not being spoiled for trying to value yourself and find something better or wanting to do something to change things.

A lot of the same people who are stark defenders of Amazon now, were complaining about how little publishers paid authors in the past. They were saying how Amazon makes the midlist author make decent money now and how they're being treated better by Amazon than large publishers.

J.A. Konrath and some of his thoughts on midlist authors and making money on Amazon: http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2009/10/kindle-numbers-traditional-publishing.html

But that's quickly not becoming the case anymore and there's nothing wrong with pointing that out and wanting to do something about it.

I just thought I'd share what I'm trying to do.

Those of us who started self-publishing years ago, know how different the market is now. My paychecks back then were three times the amount they are now and I'm selling the same amount of books on average. That's why we're disgruntled. That's why we're saying something.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Read My Stories On Wattpad

I've been a member on Wattpad for awhile. I've wanted to upload my stories that are available for free on Amazon over there, but I didn't get the chance to do so until now. If you'd rather read them on there, instead of Amazon, here's the link to my account:

https://www.wattpad.com/user/EBBlack

Feel free to leave comments on my stories if you'd like to as well.

Also, if you'd like me to follow you on Wattpad or check out one of your stories there, then please comment on this post and give me the link!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Why People Think Art Is A Hobby

If you tell people you're a writer, a lot of people will laugh and ask what your real job is. Part of the reason for this is because it is very difficult to make decent money writing. But the other part is because most people only create things for fun and aren't too serious about it. They might want to write a book someday, but all they've ever done is write a chapter or two when they are bored. Art for them is fun and should never be difficult.

I'm both a serious writer and a serious piano player. I didn't realize that there was any other kind of piano player until recently. I was purchasing piano books off of Amazon and I saw someone write that their husband loved a certain piano book because it was so easy to read and play that they could sit down and immediately play any song in the entire book. I frowned and decided that it was a bad idea to purchase that book.

Why?

Because I want to be challenged when I do art. When I reminisce about my favorite times of piano playing, it's when I agonized and worked for days to months trying to master a piece. It's when I stayed up late at night practicing. It's when I practiced for so many hours that my back was spasming from the pain of trying to have perfect posture.

It's not when I played a piece and mastered it in five minutes. That's boring. I don't feel accomplished. I want to struggle with a piece. Learn to feel it and all it's keys. I want it to move me and make me learn.

Writing is very similar to me. I struggle with words for hours at a time. I write and re-write and cross out entire sections. I bleed across the page. I get so tired of spelling and grammar that I write barely literate texts to my husband.

Because that's what feels good. That's what makes me feel accomplished as an artist. When you struggle for your art.

And the more you struggle, the more you are going to get criticism. People have critiqued my piano playing (not just negatively reviewed my books) a ton of times. There's always that stereotype in television and movies about the mean teacher (in the arts) who swears at the student and tells them they're terrible. That stereotype exists for a reason. Because the further along you get in the arts, the more of those type of people you are going to face.

It makes you harder inside because you learn how to tolerate those types of people and even gleam wisdom from their criticism. You learn to let it not crumble you.

You're destroyed by their words, but your strength rebuilds you. You kill yourself for your art and you're reborn through it.

So when someone says that art is just a hobby. When they don't think it can be taken seriously. Don't get angry, feel bad for them. Because they'll never know the pain or the struggle of fighting yourself and the world to create beauty that you never even knew you were capable of making until people pushed you. They'll be content with their mediocre hobby of art and never know that they could be capable of so much more.