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Messages - David VanDyke

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Writers' Cafe / Re: The dopamine hit of free book promotions
« on: January 15, 2021, 09:47:36 am »
Good on you. As long as your expectations are realistic, enjoy the ride. You won't be disappointed if you don't expect too much.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Cliffhangers
« on: January 15, 2021, 09:44:26 am »
Cliffhangers only work if the material is so compelling the consumers are more enticed than POed.

They are a high-risk strategy, mostly successful when the material is already successful.

It often takes years to become an overnight success.

One book does not a career make. Do aspiring actors get a part in one movie or TV show and expect it all to come their way? Do musicians put out one single and expect to sell a million?

Actors act. Musicians play. Writers write, and keep writing, until they give up or something happens. That something can range from modest sales and local recognition, up to stardom for those with the luck to catch fire. I don't say skill because skill is not the big determinant of success. It's (first and foremost) persistence, plus luck, with the caveat of a certain at-least-average level of skill and writing quality, plus luck, plus serendipity, plus timing, plus luck, plus persistence. And more persistence.

Using the music industry as an analogy, there are millions of skilled musicians, but only thousands making a living from their music, and perhaps only hundreds of real "rock stars" (regardless of musical genre) at any one time. And some of those stars aren't really all that good, musically. They simply catch on and get popular (lucky).

But most won't.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Some advice on book covers for new authors
« on: January 08, 2021, 10:17:44 am »
Some authors make squat. Some make millions. The apparent quality of their work can vary wildly with no seeming correlation among price, earnings, and value, except as value is defined as what the customer will pay and how often.

The same with cover designers. And musicians, actors, and anyone in the creative arts.

If they deliver what they promised for the price agreed, they are not scamming or ripping off. Only if they lie or do not deliver the promised product are they scamming or ripping off. Caveat emptor.

Covers seldom "make" a book, but they can "break" it. It's important to get covers that fit in with the genre and do not display signals of amateurism, such as inappropriate fonts, being too crowded, unbalanced composure, etc. I have seen horrid covers from the authors themselves that are certainly hurting sales.

So, get a cover that is genuinely good enough and appropriate to your genre, for whatever you consider a reasonable price, and move forward. Don't personalize it.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Buying email lists?
« on: January 07, 2021, 09:55:05 am »
Also, "newsletter swaps" might mean different things.

Swapping the email lists is a no-no, no different from any other email list sale or transfer against regs or laws.

Many times when people talk about newsletter swaps, they are talking about a "you promo my book in your newsletter, I'll promo yours" type of deal, which is not in any way illegal, and is only shady if (for example) false claims are made, such as lying and recommending books as if one has read them when they never have.

I have a newsletter, and I recommend books that I or my spouse have actually read and meet our standards. I've turned down recommendations or swaps from authors that, despite being "known" and selling books, the book in question did not for some reason meet our standards.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Buying email lists?
« on: January 06, 2021, 12:16:41 pm »
Have you considered buying email lists so you can email people who might be interested in your niche when you launch a book?  A quick google reveals lots of companies selling email lists.  Have you done this and what was your experience?  It seems like a great way to boost sales, but I wonder if those emails are all legit or if some, or most, are fake? Thank you.

I think you answered your own question.

As said above, always SMH-funny to see people expecting other people to behave differently from how they themselves would in the same situation.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Raisng prices
« on: January 02, 2021, 03:15:30 pm »
It seems like ebook prices are stuck. Inflationary pressures should push them upward over time, but there is downward pressure from competition, oversupply, and digital goods trends. So they seem to be stable over the last 10 years, more or less.

Seems like 3.99 or 4.99 are the sweet spots. If you go above the psychological $5 mark, things change. Some can do it, some can't.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Do you read your own books?
« on: January 02, 2021, 03:13:18 pm »
I read my own books for enjoyment and I like it.

That's because I took the best advice ever:

Write the books you want to read.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Series blocked
« on: December 26, 2020, 10:28:50 am »
So this is blocking the series page function?

Writers' Cafe / Re: Mikkelsen Twins / Publishing Life are a SCAM!
« on: December 24, 2020, 08:58:12 pm »
Nah, that's not libel. Not in the USA anyway. If it were, the links below would be filled with libel. Lots of libel.

Do your own research to find out whether these things might be scams or not. Then make your own decision. Don't believe any single poster's opinion. Add up the weight of reports and decide for yourself where you want to send your hard-earned money.

Here's a few I found on page 1 of a search:

Writers' Cafe / Re: Pirated Book Removal Service Proposal
« on: December 24, 2020, 11:38:56 am »
I know Blasty does this already, for a subscription price. I can't comment on how well it or any other sevice works, but the question of reinventing the wheel always comes up.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Does any freelance writer need a part-time job
« on: December 23, 2020, 09:10:36 am »
A company that services the elite class will not post poorly written ads on a site for self-publishing authors with a Gmail address.

I agree. A legit and professional company would use other routes to find and hire--especially as most of us here write fiction or nonfiction prose, not light news copy, which tends to take a different skill set.

I am highly skeptical. It's possible this is legit, but due diligence is critical at every stage of the hiring process. Never, ever should money flow from the "employee" to the "employer." Never, ever should any large amount of work be done without being paid for gig work as it's finished and submitted. Never, ever should any laws be skirted. Any whiff of that is cause to run, not walk, away.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Is it legal? Writing about famous people...
« on: December 22, 2020, 09:57:12 am »
Pretty sure it's completely legal, just as a journalist or historian can write things about people in the present day or history.

The key is to pay attention to libel and/or defamation laws in the markets you're selling in. The USA sets a high bar for libel or defamation suits, but the UK for example sets a lower bar--and some countries make it easy indeed to be sued for some form of damage to public image or whatever. That's really the key. I am not a lawyer, but I know of no case in which it's illegal on its face to merely write about someone. Plenty of tell-all books have been written without their subjects' (primary and lesser) consent, and there's little they can do except try to sue.

All five days.

You did it to achieve some advantage, right? Why would you end that advantage any sooner than necessary?

For permafrees, I see positive effect for nearly a month. If I were in KU and they gave me 30 free days, I'd leave it for 30.

Do a search on Amazon books called "Blood Ties."

Then forget it and move on. Unless the genres are very similar, nobody but a few cranks will notice or care.

Now if something gets big enough, it will be trademarked. For example, you can't call your books Harry Potter or Star Wars or Fifty Shades of anything because those have been trademarked, which usually happens when book sell a zillion.

Until then, use the title you like. As said above, titles are not copyrighted in the USA, though they are in some nations' laws.

Writers' Cafe / Re: How would you feel if they changed your story for TV?
« on: December 18, 2020, 04:52:19 pm »
I'd be ecstatic. If Peter Jackson can edit Tolkein (a lot, as I am being reminded as I re-read LOTR) who would I be to complain?

It might irritate me a little, but every book gets changed for the movies or TV. They are two widely different media, and their products are as different as paintings and sculpture.

Extrapolating trends linearly will always be wrong, and wildly wrong over the long term. Doing so makes for interesting dystopian fiction, but as has been said by Yogi Berra and others, predictions are hard, especially about the future.

The real world does not work linearly. Black Swans appear and cause shifts, then a new normal emerges for a while. Factors small and large come into play from all directions. All systems involving millions (or billions) of people are mathematically chaotic.

The problem isn't in proposing or discussing trends. The problem is in expecting any trend to continue indefinitely. Railroads in North America exploded in importance in the 1800s, showing exponential growth--until the near-simultanous advents of powered flight and the automobile caused railroad growth to plateau and eventually be relegated mostly to moving freight.

Similar things can be said of many disruptive technologies and delivery modes, such as digital books. They burst on the scene, grow exponentially, then plateau or even decline as conditions and technologies change. There's only ever 100% of anything, and going from 0% to (say) 50% is exponential growth, but going from 50% to 60% is not--and that item seldom if ever approaches 100%.

The Kindle-led ebook disruption seized 30-40%-ish of the overall English-language book market within five years (quibble about the numbers depending on how you figure it, but that's ballpark) but the growth from then on has been slow and incremental. KU disruption seized 30-40%-ish of the EL digital market (more in genre fiction, less in other areas) and growth from then on has been slow and incremental. Mathematically, all of these things create growth curves that look very similar--a big rise, then a plateau and slow growth toward some limit.

It takes generations to cause technologies to be functionally obsolete, and even then, the old stuff lingers in specialty markets. We still have horse breeders and races, buggy builders, fine mechanical watches, blacksmiths with hammers and anvils, black powder enthusiasts, people who knit and craft, leatherbound print books--etc etc. Nothing ever reaches 100% and many things never reach 90% market share. And, within the greater market there are niche markets that change the numbers. One author may seem unable to gain a tiny percentage of a huge market and fail to sell, while another may gain a big share of a tiny niche and sell plenty (and by sell I mean generate income, including KU or any other future method of monetizing IP).


As far as I know, the ISBN is tied to the title of the book. So if you're changing the title, you can't use the same ISBN.

The first sentence is false, or at best misleading; the second, true.

The ISBN is not tied to a title, else all the books with the same title (look up things like "Blood Ties" for many books with that title, each of which have a different ISBN or none at all) would have the same ISBN.

Rather, the ISBN identifies a unique work. As soon as anything substantive is changed (beyond back and front matter and fixing typos or minor revisions) you can't use that ISBN.

Change anything substantive, such as the title, and you can't use that ISBN.

But, no ISBN is required in today's ebook world. Just use the ASIN.

"The sky is falling. Prove me wrong. Discuss."


You can report it. Sometimes they take them down.

Or have a buddy put a comment (if they haven't been disabled) with a link to the generally accepted definition of a novel (40K
+ words). Lots of people want to make up their own definitions, but IMO we need to fight that self-misinformation at every turn.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Review Comments Abolished by Amazon?
« on: December 15, 2020, 02:13:51 pm »
Weird. Comments have often been very helpful.

I doubt it is being abolished for the reason given. Rather, comments sections have turned into flame wars from time to time, so they're probably just turning them off just like many Yahoo articles no longer support comments the way they used to.

Writers' Cafe / Re: BN Royalties
« on: December 11, 2020, 10:08:07 am »
I go direct and I got paid on time.

Writers' Cafe / Re: I'm realizing I do not like character arcs.
« on: December 04, 2020, 11:23:32 am »
Like many things taught in lit classes, character arcs are aimed at high literature. High lit seldom sells. Sure there are exceptions--LOTR comes to mind--but genre fiction is not primarily about character arcs. In fact, arcs can destroy a series if the arc undermines the fundamental "certain something" that made the series great. Like, if sexual tension between two protagonists is a primary part of it, they can't seal the deal by for example getting married--at least until the end of the series--without risking losing that certain something.

Kirk, Spock and McCoy had little or no arc until the movies. They are frozen in time, as are Hercule Poirot, Sherlock Holmes, Beaver Cleaver, Gilligan, the A Team, the Quantum Leap guys.

Not to say genre fiction can't have arcs. B5 comes to mind, and streaming and binge-watching series today, there are many more arcs. But there are still relatively changeless characters even as others have arcs.

Think of an arc as an ingredient that is sometimes prominent, sometimes absent.

Don't merely write to trend or even market if that kills your muse. I've made a living as an indie for the last 6 years because I happened to write a saga of 17 books I was passionate about, then another saga of 6 so far, along with some other things. Those have been my bread and butter as far as sales and earnings.

So, try to write a story you've been wanting to write, but something that doesn't have to end with one book.

In fact, does any of your current three lend itself to sequels or prequels? you could expand that.

Or something new--but preferably within the same broad genre (supernatural horror and sci-fi suspense?). the key is to keep gibving your readers more of the same but different, and keeping yourself interested and enthusiastic to write what you love.

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