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Messages - Puddleduck

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Do Amazon think OUR books belong to THEM?
« on: Yesterday at 06:26:42 PM »
For any Americans who don't fully understand what irony is, and think it might be the thing Alanis Morissette misrepresented as being irony, THIS is irony.

Um ... we do have irony in America. What even.  ::)

Kevin Kneupper received an email from a lawyer representing Hopkins this afternoon, saying he was going to file for a temporary restraining order in federal court.

A restraining order against someone for challenging a trademark and bringing attention to it? I really hope the courts aren't idiotic enough to grant that.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Are you GDPR compliant?
« on: Yesterday at 01:39:52 PM »
For someone who doesn't use any plug-ins or comment fields, is there a way to know if your site uses cookies without you knowing about it? To my knowledge, there aren't cookies on my website, since I no longer use a stats plugin and don't have comments open. But I wonder if there are cookies in use in some way that I'm not aware of.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Author Reboot - Advice Requested
« on: Yesterday at 01:37:48 PM »
My main leads are Bi and Gay, itís not in your face, any sex scenes are fade to black, but the male lead is married to a man and the female lead crushes on both sexes. They donít struggle with their sexuality, itís never questioned, and they arenít persecuted for it. Is it disingenuous to label it LGBT?

Should I focus marketing on the LGBT side or Sci-Fi?

As I gather it, there are a lot of people looking for LGBT leads where it's just a part of who they are rather than a big part of the plot. If I were you, I'd probably use that in my marketing. Not only that, also market the sci-fi aspect, but definitely include that. It will also warn off people who like sci-fi but will hate your story because of the LGBT aspect, which may save you from some bad reviews.

That doesn't sound like a really groundbreaking plot to me. Maybe it's because I don't write in that genre, but for me, it's more about the execution than the plot. If your book has different characters and does enough different things, the same plot might still be fine. Maybe change up the ending a bit so it's different.

When I was writing fanfic, there was this one popular thing that happened where someone laid out a challenge, going into like a full page of details of a story prompt. I probably read at least a dozen responses to the challenge, all fics written based on the exact same detailed idea, all very different--before finally writing my own, which was very different from any of those that I've read. There are probably 50 or so stories from shorts to series-long epics based around that one story prompt. People who read and like one of them usually look for others. So, to me, the story idea isn't the main thing. Yes, it's always a bummer when you find out someone else has written a story with the same basic plot idea as yours, but I don't think it's a big enough deal to totally scrap the project over. Especially since the plot you're talking about is one that probably many, many writers and non-writers have thought of. (I don't mean any offense by that, but it's just not a very unique or mind-blowing plot. Which isn't to say it isn't potentially an interesting plot.)

I think you misunderstand my point. I'm not saying that you have to get someone else to come in and tell you what's wrong with your book. I'm saying that someone has to look at the finished draft to determine if it works; that person absolutely can be the author.

Your example here is exactly what I'm talking about regarding the necessity of content/development editing. I'm not saying that you have to get someone else to do it, but that it needs doing.

The catch though is that doing it yourself only works if you can actually recognize whether you went wrong or not. It's exactly the same as proofreading, you have to check whether your ideas made it onto the page the way you intended before you hit publish. Some people can do it themselves, others can't.

Then it sounds like we're in agreement.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Dissatisfaction with Kindle Unlimited
« on: Yesterday at 12:28:57 PM »
That was actually a part of our agreement, and in truth it doesn't bother me at all. I was more than pleased with the artwork he created, and am happy if I can direct some business his way. I think this particular artwork might be better utilized in other ways, though. As a cover, it doesn't seem to be as effective as I'd hoped.

He's probably not very experienced at doing cover art, then. It's customary to credit the cover artist in the interior of the book (usually in the copyright area). Wanting his name to be on the cover itself not only makes him look unprofessional, but you too. IMO. I'm kinda surprised the art isn't working, though, as I think the cover does look very nice. Maybe it's not hitting the genre the way it should (not my genre, so I wouldn't know).

Put it in, finish the book, then let yourself get a little distance from the book (a week off, a month, whatever you need). Now that you know the whole shape of the book and can see it better, come back to it and see if you really need that chapter or if the stuff in it you think the story needs can be distributed elsewhere in the book.

I'd also say put it in now and decide once it's finished whether it should stay in.

How did you set up the Google profile?

Writers' Cafe / Re: Dissatisfaction with Kindle Unlimited
« on: Yesterday at 11:25:32 AM »
I would like to see Amazon (if they don't already) have a way for nursing homes to have an affordable account, so everyone staying there could have access to KU books.

Interesting idea. Have you talked to any nursing homes about this? It sounds like it would be good, but I wonder if that's something elderly people would actually use. I offered my loaded Kindle to my grandma because I didn't need it anymore, but she didn't want it. Not sure most people of nursing home age would be interested in e-books in a quantity substantial enough to make a cheap KU program like that worth doing.

And I would need better covers before I go wide. Five new covers ain't happenin' any time soon.

FWIW, I think your first cover is really good and doesn't need to be replaced, assuming you could get the rest of the series to match. (Though I do find it odd to credit the cover artist on the front cover.)

Personally, I'm not in KU and don't have enough things published for it to really be much of a consideration yet. However, I would have considered either putting certain future books in KU (ones that fit the KU audience) or doing KU for a term before going wide. But now, with people getting banned for botting they have no control over and other such dangers, I see it as too great a risk to even try as a partial part of my business. If they do a massive overhaul of the way they treat authors and KU becomes less of a danger, maybe I'll incorporate some degree of KU into my future business, but as things stand now, no way. I can't risk my account over the potential for making some money through reads.

tl;dr -- every place is different; some will love it -- some will hate it. 'Sokay either way. :D

If everyone loved the same kind of place to live, those places would be more overcrowded than they already are, and we'd have lots of wasted space elsewhere. (Or more people miserable with where they're forced to live.)

Content editing absolutely is not about telling you you got it wrong - ultimately, the artist decides on both the content of the art, and it's execution. What often happens, however, is that there is a gap between the artist's aims and what they produce.

I can see what you mean with that. I've read books where I've gotten the feeling that the author knew what he meant but he hadn't conveyed it well enough for me to understand what he meant. For me, this occasionally happens on a sentence-level. I do think learning to say what you mean is part of learning to write, and therefore part of the "learn to be a better writer so you can do that editing stuff yourself and don't need outside help" thing I mentioned earlier. Being self-analytical is, I think, an important skill for all people to learn, just to get through life. I suppose any tools that help people learn that are probably a good thing.

Dog is man's best friend. If you don't believe this, take your wife (significant other, whatever) and your dog and lock them in the garage. Come back in two hours, open the door, and tell me which one is happy to see you.

If the measure of a 'best friend' is 'someone who will be happy with my total domination of them', then ... I guess?

Yes, I know it's a 'joke', but given that my dad has unironically expressed this exact sentiment on multiple occasions, I find it far more irritating than funny. IMO, men like dogs so much because a man wants everyone in his household to treat him like he's the undisputed master of his domain, bowing and scraping and acceding to his every whim, and the dog is the only one who does. (No, I don't mean *all* men, but this is based on a lifetime of personal experience. At some point "why can't you be more like the dog and pay more attention to me?" gets real old.)

Plus, the weather's nice. ;D (Which is to say, non-economic incentives have an impact too.)

Speaking as someone who's spent far more time visiting and living in California that I really would have liked, that is entirely a matter of opinion.  ;)   I do wonder how many people live in California because they were born there and have never spent time anywhere else. I know a good number of people who were born in California and moved away--at least in some part specifically because of the weather/climate--and no people who have done the reverse for the same reason. (I've known people who moved to California for other reasons, like culture/career.) Some of these people who moved out of California didn't even know they wanted to until they visited somewhere with a nicer climate.

I feel like that might still have some parallel with KU.

Not so. I commented on an app that was useful to READERS, not authors.

You're commenting to authors (kboards is a board for authors) that a specific app is useful to readers. Which is exactly what I said.

Moreover, your opinion was that Amazon should use it, which would directly affect authors' businesses. So responding to criticisms of that suggestion by saying you'll keep using as a reader because it works for you as a reader is pretty much a non sequitur.

Yes, but these factors are not going to change. People generally go in the direction perceived economic incentives push them. Asking people to sacrifice their livelihoods is not going to work. I don't depend on my writing to support me, but if I did, I'd probably be trucking along in KU, right with everyone else, rather than trying to wring half my living from 17% of the ebook market.

We need ways to extract improvements from Amazon that don't depend on people doing what most people will not do.

First, it is not a universal truth that Amazon makes up the vast majority of an author's income. Many people on here have said that Amazon accounts for a relatively small percentage. So the idea that KU = profit and wide = destitution is a fear-based assumption that Amazon wants us all to believe.

Second, it's not a matter of doing what's good for you vs. doing what's good for the industry. It's about scrambling month-to-month vs. considering your own long-term welfare. If you (general you, those who are in KU and not wanting to risk change) are making money now and don't care if you'll be making money in twenty years, feel free to stay in KU. If you'd like to still be making money from your writing in twenty years, you've got to look at the bigger picture. And the bigger picture says letting Amazon get a monopoly on the book-distribution market is the same as giving up any hope of a life-long career as an indie writer. Personally, I'm young enough that what happens twenty or thirty years down the road matters to me right now.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Amazon going the way of B&N?
« on: May 24, 2018, 09:18:57 AM »
I like having all my books on a single app, but I'm seriously considering switching now. I don't want to keep rewarding such annoying business practices.

This is why I started using Calibre. Doesn't matter where I buy my books, as long as I can get them onto my computer and *ahem* in the right file format.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Woo hoo! My first one-star review!
« on: May 24, 2018, 09:17:29 AM »
I'm curious, did you by any chance update your cover at some point? I know I've browsed through my Kindle library online and seen books I didn't recognize. Sometimes I'll recognize the title and realize they probably changed the cover. Usually I assume that even if I don't. Ordinary readers might not think of it, especially if they got it when it was on a free promo.

Still funny that the person felt obligated to leave a review, though. I suspect that's Amazon's fault.

I have two thoughts at this point:

1) This goes far beyond this one (or two) instance of someone trying to trademark a word for use in books. This gets down to the very concept of trademarking regular words for use in books. Which means that, while no doubt contesting this one filing is a good thing to do, it doesn't really address the root of the problem. Is there a way to contact the trademark office through more general channels to express our concern, as citizens, about this sudden trend and ask that they examine their policy on trademarking of words for books in general? Because otherwise, we're playing whack-a-mole with these things, for as long as anyone thinks that trademarking words for books is going to work, and if it does work even once, things will become a clusterf***.

2) If there is some way to contact the trademark office about this issue in general (rather than related to a specific claim/application), it might be good to point out the amount of work they will make for themselves if they approve any of these common word/phrase trademark applications for books. Because as soon as it works once, every publisher and agent and trademark squatter on the planet (or at least in the US) will be filing for every keyword they can think of. Hot, vampire, love, space, time, death, mystery, girl -- every word in the English language would be up for grabs. And not only would that create a tidal wave of extra work for the trademark office, it will probably all end up being for naught when all these approved trademarks create a crisis undermining the very foundation of book publishing, lawsuits are brought, freedom of speech is cited as being infringed, and all of these trademarks get overturned (creating even more work for them, now having to sort out which are the ones they should never have approved, pretty much sorting through every trademark associated with books). It's actual humans who are reviewing and deciding these things. Appealing to their desire to avoid stress and unnecessary extra work might be helpful.

I totally agree. Couldn't agree more.

At the same time ... the form has just a few little boxes. The letter of protest is not the place to make any sort of nuanced argument, apparently. They're looking for straightforward factual evidence that fits one of their categories. It has to be appropriate for ex parte consideration, meaning (I think) something that can be decided upon without hearing from both sides. I.e., objective, non-arguable stuff.

As I recall, there is an "other" box, and maybe you could put something like the above in there. But it's probably a good idea to *also* give them the kind of objection they're set up to accept. The workings of bureaucracies, etc.

Is there any place on the form for comments or explanation, other than the 'other' box?

The problem is that even if a book got a bad reviews report that wasn't fully warranted, Fakespot still is of benefit to me. I might possibly miss out on reading a book that was better than indicated, but what has NEVER happened for me is to find a book where reviews are confirmed as genuine to be less than the reviews indicate. I have yet to find Fakespot to err when it approves reviews, even if  - as many claim - it errs when it regards them as suspect. I work in publishing in a very different "genre" to the genres that I like to read for relaxation. (Tertiary texts, Government, Military and Corporate publications - while I enjoy Noire fiction.)  I am capable of analysing reviews myself, but as my results and Fakespot's provide pretty similar results and Fakespot's are so much faster and simpler, I'll risk missing out on a good read in favour ease of selection. I read a lot, often several books per day (insomnia) and trawling through thousands of potential reads can be daunting. As I have have said and repeated, Fakespot isn't infallible, but it works for the purposes I ask of it.

It's strange to me that you're trying to convince authors of the benefit of Fakespot by saying that it works for you as a reader. And your response to authors pointing out how bad it is for authors is to continue to say that it works for you as a reader. So hotel managers shouldn't care if some hotel review site says their hotel will definitely murder you, as long as you the customer are able to find a hotel to stay in?

As of 2005, Safeway had a policy where if a customer asked a question which could be answered by sampling a product, the employee was supposed to offer them a sample. Such as, "I'm not sure which of these cookies I'd like best?" The employee was trained to offer a sample, meaning open the packages to let the customer taste. The customer was under no obligation to buy anything they tried. The weird thing is, this was such a strange policy (I didn't really believe my friend the first time she told me about it), and it's so secret, I wonder if anyone other than frauds and Safeway employees (at other stores) ever made use of the policy. I wonder if they still have that policy. (I tried once or twice at another store, not actually asking for a sample but asking a leading question where I knew they should have offered me one, and they didn't. I suspect the frequency of employees not actually doing what they were trained to do is part of the reason so few regular people knew about this policy.)

At the time, their return policy was also extremely generous. You could buy a candy bar, eat half, then if you don't like it, return the rest (I saw an employee who worked at the store, on her off time, do just that with no issue). You could return just about anything under $10 or $20 without needing a receipt, no questions asked. Again, not sure if that's still the case.

So long as authors continue to feed Select, Amazon will continue to abuse authors. Because at this point, they have no reason NOT TO ABUSE AUTHORS. If you have grown dependent on Amazon for sales, then Amazon can do pretty much whatever they want to you and you have no recourse.

Well said, and yet there are still so many people who don't understand this pretty basic and obvious concept. Because they've allowed themselves to become dependent on Amazon. And they get angry at the messenger whenever someone tells them they should go wide. "I need Select to feed my family, so I'm gonna stay." They've gotten themselves so dependent that they feel it's too dangerous/risky to try to change. Which is exactly what Amazon wants.

Herein is the real issue. Algorithms are not meant to REPLACE people. They are meant to HELP people identify problems. Because there is so much stuff on the internet, a human just can't scan it all. Like copyright software that scans the internet to find pirated copies of works. The purpose is to find potential problems, and then have a real person make a determination. But the music and movie industries have removed the human part and just send automatic DMCA notices based on flags from the software.

Companies create these algorithms to identify potential problems, but then skip right over the "have a real person review" part and just vomit out the result as if it is gospel.

People have a tendency to treat technology as science and science as gospel. Just ask any lawyer about the CSI effect. Because our society allows us to be so specialized, we have to rely on other people/things to guide us in matters that are not our area of expertise. But people take this too far (because most people are inherently lazy) and rely on science/technology even in areas that are (nominally) their area of expertise. Movies/books/shows contribute to this by constantly portraying science/technology as more exact and clear-cut than it is. And while the people who actually are experts in whatever given field know that the science/technology is not nearly as exact as portrayed, those people in any given field are relatively very few in comparison with the wider population, and generally only have that awareness in regard to their own field, often still believing the science/tech to be exact when it comes to other fields.

I'm not sure "descriptive" really fully captures the problem. The problem is that people shouldn't be able to copyright single English words or common phrases as related to books--which, by definition, are chock full of all sorts of words. It's one thing to trademark "Harry Potter" as relates to books. But just "Harry" or just "Potter"? No. Even "Twilight" shouldn't be trademarkable, even though it's a popular book franchise (if they'd wanted it trademarkable, they should have made it more unique). Writers work in words. They are our livelihood. The problem with trademarking any single words or common combinations of words in the context of books isn't something anyone should have to explain to the trademark office. It would be like allowing a science company to trademark the number 4 or "1 + 1 = 2".

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