Internet “fast lanes”?

The FCC just announced new rules that will make “internet fast lanes” a reality.

What is an internet fast lane? Imagine all you favorite web content is still out there, but unless that website pays the web services extra they get slowed down. Netflix is already seeing this. They are paying Comcast and Verizon blackmail money so that their subscribers don’t get their content slowed way down. Netflix had to raise the prices of new members because of this, and while $10 isn’t a huge raise the point is they never should have had to do this in the first place. Black mail is ILLEGAL!

What about Youtube, iTunes, or your favorite streaming site? What happens when they start throttling downloadable content like games, and music? A lot of these places are free. What happens when they aren’t anymore because ISP’s are double charging everyone?

The marvelous thing about the internet was that it leveled the playing field. People who created finally had a way to sell their creations without growing through middle men. We could design our own books, games, movies, and music, upload and sell it directly to the people who wanted to view it. Or put it up for free and let it spread via word of mouth.

Now picture that road barricaded unless you spend a lot of money to get that same content put out.

Net neutrality has already been killed. But we still have some options. The FCC is going to be voting on weather or not they should be letting this through, and not all of the chairmen agree. Let your voice be heard. Let them know what you think they should do.

Write an email to tom.wheeler@fcc.gov and tell him how you really feel about him doing this. He’s the guy directly behind this, and he’s getting paid a lot by Comcast and other ISP’s to do this.

Even better, copy your email and send it to ALL of the leaders of the FCC. Let them know how you really feel about it all.

At this point I’m worried that Google and the fibre they bring will be the only chance for us to get out from under the foot of the ISP’s who refuse to upgrade their systems. But Google can’t spread the fiber fast enough, and many cities that want to install it themselves can’t. Seattle tried and Comcast bought the mayoral election to kill that plan. They are doing it in other cities too.

Everyone benefits from a free and open internet. It should be classified as a common utility, not a luxury. Tell the FCC to do that. Too many of us make our living by using the internet. Stand up for your rights to make that living without barricades.

The petition to stop this:

More information:

http://www.reddit.com/r/technology/comments/23t7qj/why_comcast_will_be_allowed_to_kill_net/

http://www.esquire.com/blogs/news/comcast-twc-chart

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/24/technology/fcc-new-net-neutrality-rules.html

Another Day, Another Paragraph

I’ve been working on “Mermaids Curse” a lot lately, trying to get it finished. The plan is for the end of the month, and I think it might be close. It is currently 56,000 words long, and I’m trying for a little over 80,000.

I always have this trouble when I get the majority of a large word done. The bones are there, the pieces laid out, and all the easy sections are written. Now I just have to fill in the little sections in between. I suppose if I wrote more linearly this wouldn’t be a problem, but I’ve never had a very linear mind to begin with.

“Zombie Swarm” is on hold right now as I push forward with “Mermaids Curse”. After getting “Forgotten Ones: Eternal Tapestry” edited, and seeing how well it turned out, I am really excited to have a finished full length novel, and getting that edited. Even a pro cover.

Once I have “Mermaids Curse” finished I will probably go back to the “Eternal Tapestry” trilogy and finish the other two books before going back to “Eversword Saga” and digging into the rest of the ten book series. (I have the bones of at least 4 more books finished, I just need to go in and build up the rest of it, so hopefully I have more published by the end of the year.)

So much to write, so little time.

Look for another exciting episode of “Story Telling Podcast” monday at 8pm PST.

I also did another Indie News Bites, this time with four news stories. I am going to try to make a new one each week now that I know what I’m doing, and have got it down to about two hours of production. It will go even faster once I’m more comfortable in front of the camera.

 

Around the Web

Some interesting things going on around the web this week.

authorearnings.com released a new report. Look for a “Indie News Bites” video tonight or tomorrow for my take on what this means. (Oh, and Hugh Howey already replied to some of the articles written refuting his newest report.)

Amazon changes royalties on ACX audio books. 

When It Comes To Women’s Writing, How Do Publications Stack Up? (hint, not well)

Book Bub most popular title trends in various genres.

Some of you might be interested in this man who did an AMA on Reddit, and because of his AMA he went to #300 in Amazon ranking. His cover is odd, to say the least, but people were interested and asked him questions, then bought the book.

Bitter writer suggests Rowling should hang up her typewriter… seriously? Because her books “suck up the oxygen from other writers”? How do you feel about Stephen King, Dean Kootz, or any other best selling author? Some of which died years ago, btw. /rant OH! And Anne Rice Responds

Indie News Bites: Episode 1

The first episode of “Indie News Bites”, your bite of news in the indie spotlight.

I am breaking away from Self Publishing Round Table to do bite size news chunks. This first episode isn’t that long, but in the future I hope to fifteen minute segments with three or four stories.

But you should definitely go check them out at http://selfpublishingroundtable.com/ for some great interview shows.

Now… It’s my first episode, so I made a few mistakes, and redid this several times before getting it to…. mostly… where I want. But I have confidence I’ll figure it out eventually.

Today I discuss the new masters degree available at University of Central Lancashire. http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/feb/05/first-self-publishing-ma-university-of-central-lancashire

Find more information about me at http://www.crissymoss.com
Find my books at http://www.amazon.com/author/crissymoss

If you’re interested in more episodes please like and subscribe. And if you know of any news I should cover add a comment below.

Fight Back Against Mass Surveillance!

Today is “The day we fight back“.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. – First Amendment, U.S. Constitution

What has the revelations of the NSA mass surveillance done? It’s inhibited people in expressing their true feelings. It’s made people afraid to practice their religion, or speak up and say the government is acting like an overbearing parent, (in the nicest words I can express it.)

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.– Fourth Amendment, U.S. Constitution

And yet, they are taking your data, searching your emails, listening to conversations… without a warrant. Without any actual reason. Without even notifying you that you have been watched. They can even arrest you, and hold you without charges indefinitely if they like. Or throw you in a “secret court” and charge you with a crime, and stick you in prison.

For national security? How is this securing us? By making us afraid of our own government?

Go to Today We Fight Back and send an email, make a phone call, make your voice heard. DO IT NOW! It only takes a few minutes of your time to make your feelings known.

Why does net neutrality matter?

There are certain things a person, or any animal, needs to survive. Food, water, and shelter. A place to call home.

In the same respect, an economy, and a country, has things that it also needs to survive, and even thrive. Those things change over time as technology and the world evolves, but they are necessary just the same.

Before the invention of the telephone, people, and corporations, were limited in their ability to expand. They had to wait for correspondence through the mail, or short telegraphs. Or, travel, which at the time could take months to cross the ocean. Everything moved slower out of necessity.

After the invention of the telephone there was a period of adjustment. People understood the significance, but control of the phone and the lines involved, were regulated by one company, Bell. They, along with the help of the FCC, made it difficult to expand the network. Devices that were the precursors to faxes and modems were not allowed to be connected to the lines until the courts forced them to allow it. Bell wanted every device to be made and rented to consumers by them.

In 1974 the US Department of Justice filed an anti trust lawsuit against AT&T. It wasn’t until 1985 that they agreed to a settlement and broke up the monopoly.

They realized that the monopolistic tendency of Ma’Bell to suck every cent they could out of the industry was stiffling innovation, and technological advancement.

Now we have a similar situation. Companies and individuals depend on the internet for sales, marketing, communication, and entertainment. We get most of our content online. Indie creators have used services like KDP and youtube to promote and expand their reach.

All of this has been made possible because of “Net Neutrality”. Something a court ruling just overturned, and we no longer have.

Net Neutrality means that the internet provider is providing a service. Like a water company provides water. You can do whatever you want with the water, connect as many hoses as you like. Boil it, fill a pool. Freeze it and make an igloo. It doesn’t matter. You are just buying a service.

But internet providers are closely linked with cable companies, which means the increase of streaming services like Netflix and Hulu is a decrease in cable. Companies like Comcast and Verizon have been fighting for the right to charge users more to use these streaming services, thus making their $70 a month cable bill look more appealing.

This time it isn’t the FCC that is holding up the monopoly. It was a supreme court judge that said net neutrality wasn’t necessary because if you didn’t like your service you could just go to a different company. He failed to recognize the fact that many people do not have a choice in service providers, and even when they do the companies often work together to keep prices high. Only Google Fiber has given any real compatition

But don’t think this will stop with cable and netflix. Indie music, books, and cames also give competition to established corporations, and they will be looking for ways to use this to their advantage. What happens if youtube, or amazon get slowed down, or even blocked to make other publishers happy?

We simply don’t know how this is going to effect us, but one thing has always proven itself to be true: as long as monopolies hold onto the old ways innovation will be difficult, slow, or even non existent.

What can you do? Sign this petition. Spread the word. Send a letter to your congressmen, and the FCC. Email your representative. CALL THEM. Make some noise.

This is incredibly important. We are thriving because we have access to this marvelous technology. Don’t let them destroy it.

Who deserves the money?

A few days ago, Jim C Hines released his yearly statement on pay from traditional publishers. In response, Michael J Sullivan made this statement:

I really applaud Jim’s commitment with sharing income information. Back when I was unpublished I remember getting incredibly depressed after seeing his posts and the survey done by Tobias Buckell[1] about income and science fiction/fantasy writing.

I think it is important for people to understand just what the economic realities of this business are…

Nowadays I have a bit of a different perspective…I’m angry. Angry that someone like Jim could sell not one, not two, but three novels in a single year and still make, why I consider to be an incredibly small amount of money for the amount of work required to do so.

I’m angry he has to fit his writing around a day job. I’m angry that after 18 years and nine novels with one of the major imprints he’s made $33,598.19 last year and $60,800.

That’s just a part of what he had to say, and I admit, I agree with him. The major reason I don’t plan to go back to traditional publishing is the fact tat the royalties suck. A lot of the time you get an advancement, and never actually earn out for one reason or another, so you never get another dime. Plus you can’t go to Amazon, or B&N and see how many books you sold. You have no control over price, or sales. And if you want your rights back… well that’s not happening either.

But, I think placing all his anger on the publishing company is out of place.

How long have we had self publishing available? 70% royalties from Amazon, and we get to see everything. We have complete transparency, and ability to adjust everything the way we like. Not only that, but it’s been proven that you can make money that way. That you can gain fans, and become a best seller. That it is possible to do well, and that a hybrid model (publishing books in both traditional and self publishing) is the most effective way of getting your name out there, and getting paid.

And Mr. Hines doesn’t bother with self publishing.

To expect traditional publishing to change very quickly, after it’s been growing in momentum for the last few hundred years, is unreasonable. It’s like a train barreling down the tracks at high speed. It has a lot of weight behind it, and it is going to take a lot of force to stop it.

We, indie publishers, have added a lot of force to at least get them to change direction a little bit. They are bringing down some prices. They are starting to offer better deals to some of their writers, like letting them keep ebook rights. But it’s going to take a while to figure out the balance between traditional publishing and self publishing.

Ultimately, the power is in the hands of the authors. We can choose to go traditional, or we can choose to self publish. We have to weigh the cost and benefits for ourselves. Being angry at the traditional publishers for their lousy deals is like being mad at a train that won’t stop on a dime. They have only as much reason to change as we give them.

I’d also like to say we will probably be discussing this on The Self Publishing Round Table this Thursday at , so if you are looking for an interesting discussion of this, and other relevant topics, you should check that out this week.

Hooray!

This morning I did an interview on Buddy’s Writing Show. We discussed “Forgotten Ones”, how I got into the whole self publishing biz in the first place, and a bit about my own podcast. It was a great interview, and I was really honored to be his first guest.

Keep an eye out for more episodes. Buddy already has a calendar booked with more guests.

Forgotten Ones” is 2.99 for just a few hours more. It will be $4.99 after tomorrow. 

Also, I’m prepping for NaNoWriMo. I’m looking forward to it, but at the same time I am not very confident that I am going to finish this time.

I worked for three months on “Forgotten Ones”, a 30k word book. I actually wrote the 3000 word synopsis back in May, and it sat on my shelf till August. I actually wrote it in Aug, and Sept, and edited in October. Published it on the 18th.

So… two months to write, half a month to edit…. on just 30k words.

I think it will work a lot better with two projects going because when I get stuck on one I can work on another. That is what has usually kept me writing steadily, and when I get to the end of the month I have to finished projects.

I’m still pretty sure I’m going to work on one of my paranormal romance stories. But I’ve got a few to choose from… so we’ll see.

Absolon, life like? (Or- Michigan is fucking NUTS!)

absolonsmI posted the second chapter of “Absolon” today.

It’s kind of freaky, actually. I wrote it, and posted it. In this chapter we start to see what happened to the world after WW3, and what people are dealing with in their daily lives.

One part of it, I think I might spoil a little, because I was shocked to learn it wasn’t as inconceivable as I thought it might be.

In Michigan they just passed a law that requires community service (that is, they will have people work for free) in order to get basic health care and food stamps, and/or unemployment.

Sounds kind of straight forward, right? Even a little intuitive when you think about it. They get “free money from the state” so lets have them work for it.

Now lets look a little deeper.

Everyone who works pays into the system. We pay taxes, social security, and medicaid. We pay these things so that when we are down and out, out of a job, and looking for a new one, then we have a little security to fall back. We also get roads, military, politicians, and all sorts of other things out of the deal. Not all of which we agree with, but we pay our taxes, elect our officials and hope things work out.

Second, there is a system for unemployment for a reason. Everyone who works pays into it. And when we are out of work we take from it. That is how it has worked for a very long time. It gives everyone a chance to look for a new job, get well (if it was a medical reason) or just take a breather and recover for a bit before jumping back into the rat race.

Not everyone will get a chance to take advantage of unemployment, but shouldn’t we be grateful? Unemployment only pays a small percentage of what you were making before hand. Not enough to pay your bills usually. Who the heck wants to be on unemployment? Most people want to get back to work as soon as possible.

Which brings us to another problem in this system…. Work.

If you have a bunch of people on unemployment and food stamps working for the city for free, then what happens to the people who did those jobs before the city started getting free “community service”? Do they get laid off? Fired? Restructured? Retrained?

Or do you throw them back on the unemployment lines so they have to come back and do the job they were doing before, only this time for free.

Even if you figure that the people working this community service are doing it for “pay” in the form of unemployment and food stamps, how can you guarantee that they are being paid a decent wage for that time? How do you measure that? How do they still have time to go find a “real” job?

Why not just create new jobs and hire them?

Grumble, grumble, grumble….

Anyway, there is a lot more to this argument. A lot of fall out that could happen if it passes, and sticks.

Writers should write!

I just read this great article by Hugh Howie over on Huffington Post. In it he talks about his advocacy for writing, and self publishing that writing. He said:
“We don’t rail against the proliferation of YouTube videos from aspiring filmmakers or DeviantArt accounts from future designers. We celebrate the act of bettering our craft by producing early works.”

This got me thinking about my own journey as an artist and writer, and the little encouragements along the way.

Drawing was easy. I started with an Elfwood account, that actually still exists. I got a DeviantArt account later, and still update it now and then. People like and comment on my art still. I sold some paintings, wrote some tutorials for wetcanvas.com, and could have continued on a path to an artists career. Not an amazing one, but a nice one.

But as much as I love art, I couldn’t make it my career. I’m good, I’m not amazing, and I don’t have the patience to practice and study to become amazing. I can’t even decide what style I like to do, so there is nothing consistent in any of it.

But writing…

I posted my first chapters/short stories to Elfwood. That was my first taste of reader feedback. Again, some of it still exists, and I don’t plan to take it down.

Then I switched to writing.com. An interesting platform, with some nice features. I had a few readers, but I couldn’t pay for a subscription so the limit of five stories up wasn’t enough. I did delete my account there.

I had my own websites. Several, in fact. Getting people to go to your website is a pain in the ass. I loved building them, but then I’d take them down a few months later.

The first time I actually got money for something I wrote was when I joined redpaper.com. It was the first micro-transaction community, and I really loved it. I won a contest and made ten bucks there once. Sold some comics, some desktop pictures, and a few articles and stories. It wasn’t a lot of money, but it was incredible to actually get money, even less then a dollar, for the things I wrote.

This was a form of self publishing, and I didn’t even realize it at the time. It encouraged me to produce more things all the time. I don’t care that I got so little… it was mine! I earned it. It felt amazing.

Later, I switched to magazines… I was suppose to earn $20 per article/story they published. It didn’t work that way. I ended up getting nothing, which cut my confidence in publishing a lot. The fact that they didn’t see fit to pay me, even though I had a signed contract saying they would, contributed to my writers block. It made it a little easier to walk away when my life got so stressed out.

Youtube, DeviantArt, and similar venues… they offer more then just places to show your work. They aren’t just brag galleries, and show pieces. They offer the chance to actually make money doing something you love. Authors should have that same opportunity.

It might not be a lot of money sometimes, but does it really matter? It’s about encouraging an artist of any kind to get better at their craft. And if I can earn enough from writing to go to Starbucks once in a while, then that’s encouraging. Because it makes me believe some day I might make more. Maybe even enough to do this full time.

And that’s worth it.