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Messages - GMSkarka

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Champion Standing cover concept layout
« on: January 30, 2014, 09:53:41 AM »
Definitely feedback i need. What does it say? and can you point me to a vector that does say "beginning"?

No idea what it says -- it looks as though the first character is incomplete.

I don't know where you'd find vectors.  Here are some various words which mean "beginning" (in different contexts):

開始 -- beginning, starting, first, gambit
開頭 -- beginning, start
初 -- beginning, start, basis
初期 -- beginning, initial stage, early days, start, infancy, beginning period
開端 -- beginning, start, first, alpha
始 -- beginning, start
發端 -- beginning, start, origin, onset, inchoation, incipience

That's in traditional.  In simplified (modern) Chinese, those would be:

开始 -- beginning, starting, first, gambit
开头 -- beginning, start
初 -- beginning, start, basis
初期 -- beginning, initial stage, early days, start, infancy, beginning period
开端 -- beginning, start, first, alpha
始 -- beginning, start
发端 -- beginning, start, origin, onset, inchoation, incipience

In general, unless you're familiar with the language, don't use it.  That's just asking for trouble.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Champion Standing cover concept layout
« on: January 30, 2014, 08:45:38 AM »
That's not "Beginning."

If you walk into a market where anyone can attend you should expect that the products on display can and will range from worst thing possible to the best thing possible.

Nobody has denied that.    But even with that expectation, is it somehow therefore wrong to suggest that we should be doing what we can to increase the overall level of quality by offering honest critique and help for improvement (when asked), rather than rainbow-unicorn-self-esteem-land "you're awesome" encouragement?

What Chuck and others are claiming is that "the market" should be cut down. There should be a big heavy... thing ... that stops people getting in.

No, that's what YOU are claiming that Chuck and others (including me) are saying.  And, given that I'm the one saying it, I think I would know.   Your continued insistence doesn't make it true, and frankly, I wish you'd stop doing that.

Please tell me your sad story

Putting aside for a moment the absolutely egregiously obnoxious way you're coming at me here -- no, I don't think I'll tell you my sad story, because if you take a look at this entire thread, you'll see that when people HAVE shared "sad stories", as you've demanded here, they immediately get dismissed by somebody as "anecdotal" or "confirmation bias", etc.

So, bluntly, there's no making you folks happy.  If we have specifics, that's not good enough, and if we make generalizations, then specifics are demanded.

At some point, one comes to the realization that there's just no point in continuing.    Enjoy your mutual appreciation society.

I don't need anyone deciding for me and I certainly oppose Chuck and anyone else who tries to scare people off putting their creative efforts out in the world.

I'm sorry, but if somebody is so weak-willed that being honest with them and saying they have things that could be improved "scares them off", then they haven't got the temperament to be doing creative work for money.  That's just pathetic.    We are not wilting hot-house flowers.

By that logic if I go to an Italian restaurant and the food is lousy do I then think that ALL Italian Restaurants are lousy?

If it's the only Italian Restaurant you've ever been to?   You might.   After all, how do you know whether it was "lousy" because you just don't like Italian food, when actually it's lousy because the chef couldn't be bothered to put out quality product?    What if the second Italian Restaurant you go to also was lousy?   Or the third?    Chances are, you're going to develop a negative opinion about Italian food in general, due to those experiences.

There needs to be a commitment to quality, not excuses for a lack of it.

...and perhaps not taking it as a personal affront and making emotional knee-jerk attacks on those who call for such commitment.    

That'd be nice, too.

Minimum standards - this isn't good enough and you should be ashamed. Don't publish.

There's a difference between "don't publish" and "don't publish YET."    There should be no shame in "isn't good enough" -- especially if it's coupled with "here's what it needs to be good enough."

He described a self-publishing culture that doesn't exist.

Except, demonstrably, right here on Kboards -- hell, you don't even have to leave this thread to show that.

I still have not seen anyone say they don't care about readers. Where are these people?

Right here.  They're the ones who don't understand "putting out amateurish stuff is OK, because readers can get their money back with the click of a button" is absolutely not caring about readers.

If someone wants to write "The cat is very fat" twenty thousand times and film themselves doing it and then publish that few-thousand hours of boring typing to Youtube and publish that book to Amazon with a black and white cover and comic sans and charge $0.99 for it then go right ahead. There is no harm to anyone there.

Again, please familiarize yourself with the Tragedy of the Commons.  It does harm to the entire self-publishing category.  It results in a continuation of the perception of self-published work as Amateur Hour.  We fought for self-publishing to be viewed as something other than vanity press scams -- why can't we also fight against the quality stigma as well?   

But I haven't read ANY posts on ANY  writer site, particularly this one where a single author siad there aren't poor self-published books out there. There's no burying the head in the sand here.

No, it's even worse.    You've got people in this thread whose response to a general call for increased quality is, and I'm quoting directly here:  "I celebrate mediocrity. I celebrate half-assing things. I celebrate someone writing a book that objectively is terrible and going through the steps to make a terrible cover and a terrible blurb and publishing it"

...and a large percentage of folks here don't seem to see that as a problem, which, frankly, is astounding.

I have many reviews on my own books that say something like, "very clean for a self-published book."  That is NOT good for this industry.


It really does seem as though not a lot of people here are familiar with the concept of the Tragedy of the Commons.

But policing indies in general?

Again, who is talking about policing anybody?

Why does it keep coming back to this point, despite constant statements from me (and Chuck, and others) that nobody is saying that?    

Yeah, money should play no part of this discussion.

Um... what?

We're talking about PUBLISHING.  Money is pretty much by definition a part of that discussion.

Who are we going to listen to? The cheerleaders in our lives? Or the doubters and cynics?

Choose wisely, people.

The wise choice isn't either/or.   The wise choice is to listen to BOTH.   Not all cheerleaders are right, and not all doubters are wrong.   Listen to all of them, and I'd bet that you'll find something worth taking from both sides.   Listen to the cheerleaders when they tell you to take the plunge and publish.   Listen to the doubters when they tell you that maybe your cover needs work, or that you really should hire an editor.   

To quote one of the seminal works of the last half-century, Spider-Man ( :D ) - "With great power comes great responsibility."   The ability to direct reach our audience is, without a doubt, great power.  Use it responsibly.

Is self-publishing really going to be defined by those who expend the least amount of energy?

That's already happening, in some circles (review sites that won't look at self-pubbed books, for example) -- you can argue that such outlets are not needed because there are other sites that DO, but that still doesn't mean it's not happening.

If so, are we going to define traditional publishing by Snooki and 50 Shades of Grey?

Now, y'see -- this is ironic, because there are posts made by people in this very thread that have done just that.    (Heck, even your own "One CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES is worth a thousand Snookies." could be argued to be doing that.)

Can we please let this particular canard die already? Quality does not equal sales, sales do not equal quality. There's proof right there. Need more? The Twilight series. Dan Brown. And just about every celebrity book ever.

Again, you're mistaking the quality of the craft with the quality of the production.    There is no denying that Dan Brown's work, The Twilight Series, 50 Shades, etc. are all professionally-produced, regardless of what some folks may feel about the quality of the writing.

Here's the thing, in my opinion:   Writing is art.   Publishing is business.

Nobody is standing in the way of anybody's art, nor should they.   But if you're in business (and if you're publishing, you are), you need to produce the best product you can -- and what I hear when I hear "readers are our gatekeepers" and "Amazon has a returns system" and "I can always update with revisions" is, basically:  "I can release low-quality product, product that I *know* customers will be dissatisfied with, because they can always return it, or I can keep changing it after they bought it."   Nobody sees the problem with that?

We owe it to the people who spend money on us to release the best product that we can.   Not stuff that's "almost good enough".   Not stuff that we'll change after the fact -- if we have to change it, it shouldn't have been for sale to begin with, because it wasn't ready.

Here's the problem -- every one of the people who uses the return system, every one of the people who get irritated when we "fix" something that that should've been right before we asked for money for it, every one of the people who buy something that they were enthusiastic about before realizing that it wasn't of good quality -- those aren't just lost customers.  They have friends, family and colleagues, whom they talk to.   They're the ones who say "you've got to be careful with self-published stuff, because let me tell you what happened to me..."

The word spreads... not just about you, personally, but about self-published work as a category -- because (and here's the kicker) we're already fighting an uphill battle against the old biases against self-publishing.   So we owe it to our customers, ourselves, and our fellow self-publishers to release the highest-quality stuff that we possibly can.

Let me point out that no actual puppies were murdered to create this thread.

I have to share -- I'm dying laughing over here, because my browser didn't load the picture in your post, just the "?" of a missing image... which I thought was kinda ironic when it turned out it was a pic of a puppy.

My browser killed a virtual puppy!    ;D

Snark comes with the territory. You have an interesting number of posts, I see. You are free to consider that snark.

Yes, I'm a relative newcomer to your little kaffeeklatsch, despite having been self-publishing for over a decade, and being featured in AP articles on the topic back in 2007, before the big Kindle boom.  So are we done "qualification-measuring" now?  

Thought so.

However, if you want to go out and have some kind of a campaign to keep the people who do write them from publishing, have at it.

*Slow Clap*  You show that straw man who's boss!   Get him!

Nobody has said anything about keeping anyone from publishing.   The only thing that's being discussed is offering honest critique when asked, and, better yet, advice and help, rather than cheerleading... which a lot of people already do, which is great.    A call for more of that is not a call to keep people from publishing.

Hmmm.   Let's see:  Hostile, snarky responses, as though Chuck had murdered your puppy, rather than just suggesting that everybody should up their game and encourage/help others to do so as well.  CHECK! 

Lots of bandying about of the word "gatekeeper."  CHECK!

Flat-out denial that self-publishing has a quality stigma (not a "vanity press" stigma -- that's well and truly defeated now) due to examples everyone can cite without trying hard: no editing, high-schooler-with-photoshop covers, etc.  CHECK!

The thoughtful rhetorical jujitsu of "there are also trad published books which are bad quality!"   CHECK!

Gosh... I wonder what "culture" Chuck could *possibly* be referring to?

Let's put it in a more positive light:   We have successfully torpedoed the old stigma of self-publishing as fly-by-night vanity press operations.  It's viewed as a valid option, and that's a huge change to have brought about.   Kick ass!

So now, let's do what we can -- by example, and via encouragement -- to tear down the NEXT stigma.    The quality stigma, which, bluntly, DOES exist -- just like the fly-by-night vanity presses exist.

We already took down the big stigma, so this one should be easy!

How's that?  Better?   Or did I murder puppies, too?

Writers' Cafe / Re: Nook Press is the surprise
« on: April 09, 2013, 10:07:37 AM »
Part of me suspects that this was almost entirely driven by somebody at Barnes & Noble finally realizing just how ridiculous "PubIt" looks as a name.


I guess I'm not seeing the controversy.

Chuck's position is "there is no one-size-fits-all "best" way, every author is different", which seems to be common sense to me.   

For example -- people who just want to write, and either aren't comfortable with, or skilled in, any of the myriad other things which self-publishers must do (or hire others to do for them):  Design, layout, promotion, marketing, etc. -- might not find self-publishing to be the "best" way to do this.      Makes sense, right?

A friend of mine once said that being a self-publisher is basically the same thing as running a small publishing company -- only the manuscript acquisitions are different, since you're only acquiring from one author:  yourself.   But the rest of it?  Handling or hiring out for editing, design, layout, promotion, marketing, customer service, etc.     Pretty much the same.

Some folks don't want to run a publishing operation.  They just want to write.   Which is fine.   Telling somebody like that this is the "best way", when it obviously isn't for them, is counter-productive.   So perhaps we should stop?

Writers' Cafe / Re: Publishing PDFs?
« on: April 07, 2013, 02:25:05 PM »
Speaking as somebody who's been doing the RPG PDF as a living for the past 10 years, I can tell you that you're better off signing up and selling your PDFs on DriveThruRPG/RPGNow than trying to covert and sell via Amazon -- the RPG audience doesn't tend to buy digital gaming product via Amazon, DriveThruRPG/RPGnow (different sites running on the same back end) are the market leader for digital RPG sales.

Folks that I've talked to who have bothered to convert game material to Kindle format have said that they sell a little bit, but since most gamers looking for digital material are going to the dedicated sites for that, the sales aren't anywhere near what they see on DriveThru.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Recomended Cover Desginers?
« on: April 05, 2013, 06:07:49 PM »
I've actually been meaning to start doing cover designs for other folks (I've been doing covers for more than a decade now).

If you look in my sig, all of those covers are my designs (except the Doctor Who -- that was a licensed release, and somebody else did the cover).

Tell you what:   I'm willing to do a cover for free for the next three people who contact me via private message or email  gmskarka @  (remove spaces) -- the only requirement that I ask is that if you like what I do for you, you post about it!

Hey there, folks!    I'm glad to be here.

My name is Gareth-Michael Skarka (the double-barrelled name is purely for bylines -- "Gareth" is just fine in conversation).   I've been doing digital publishing since 2003 (even was covered in an AP story on the topic in 2007:,4675,BusinessofLife,00.html  ), but only in the past year have I made the leap to Kindle, and I'm loving it.  My experience is mostly in tabletop role-playing games (like D&D), but my first fiction release (TALES OF THE FAR WEST, a short story anthology which I edited, featuring myself and a bunch of other great folks like Scott Lynch, Matt Forbeck, Ari Marmell and Tessa Gratton) came out last year, and I've got a bunch more on the way!

Looking forward to lots of great conversations on this site, especially in the Writer's Cafe.


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