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

This morning I watched “Teens React to CaptainSparklez“, and I have to admit… I’m aCaptainSparklez fan. He, along with YogsCast, are the reason I bought Minecraft, and why I come back to it more then any game I’ve ever played.

At the end of the video they asked why people might watch CaptainSparklez, and other play throughs on youtube, and most of the teens didn’t know, even those who watched them. But I know why I watch them.

I don’t watch sports, because I have no interest in watching sweaty guys running back and forth on a field/court, playing an intricate game of “keep away”.  I don’t understand all the fine rules of most sports, not because “you’re a girl”, like most people would assume, but because I didn’t grow up with sports in my home. My dad didn’t watch football, and never sat beside me cheering on his favorite team. So it doesn’t bring me any nostalgia, or happiness to watch grown men playing the game I was forced to endure during PE ever school year for three weeks.

I don’t watch much TV anymore. Not because I have some moral issue with TV, but because I remember when TV was good. When every channel made you feel something, either laughter, love, fear, or awe as you watched your favorite actors and comedians in the shows you loved. Or the documentary about going to space. Or the show with an amazing woman fighting dragons, vampires, and/or gods, and showing girls every week that there was more to life then being a house wife.

Now, TV is 80% fake reality TV. Not just fake, but they take the worst elements of our society, and parade them around for everyone to see.

Watching channels like CaptainSparklez, YogsCast, or NorthernLion give me a real look at someone. I get to watch them actually react, jump, cheer, or laugh because of something in the game I want to play.

Watching Let’s Plays is just another form of voyeurism, but it’s on my terms. It’s far more realistic. The people are people I like, and would often love to be friends with if I met them IRL.

Now, I do think Pewdiepie is half show, and half reality. I think he, like me, gets easily scared and is just more willing then I am to confront that fear. (No, I am not installing Amnesia on my PC again, F*CK THAT!) But he does ham it up for the audience. And yet he is the most subscribed channel on youtube. Because he’s an all around interesting guy.

If TV execs would stop working so hard to make reality tv interesting, and just let it be itself, or put interesting shows with good story, drama and feeling back on… we’d probably watch a little more. Especially if you stopped trying to force us to pay $70 a month to subsidize sports channels.

People love good stories! They flock to the theater to watch epic, 3 hour long narratives. They buy books in hordes, listen to tons of audio books, and still they clamor for more.

But they also crave honesty. Something, or someone they can relate to, admire, be inspired by, or just teach them more about how the world works.

It saddens me that almost all of the great science and education shows have been replaced by crap. That science fiction, one of the most inspiring genres ever, has practically disappeared.

But I still have youtube.

 

 

PS! Thank you to Simon who helped me save the post I had accidentally deleted. You are AWESOME!

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.

FAQ- How do I promote my book?

Okay, you have a book. It’s up on Amazon, Kobo, and everywhere else… Now what?

Well, the best answer is… Go write another book!

No, seriously!

Here’s the deal, if you have one book and go promote it, great, people can buy that book. But, a lot of people won’t buy a book if you only have one up there. They like to sink their metaphorical teeth into their favorite authors and read LOTS of stuff from them, so if you have only one book out, and they love you, then they aren’t going to be as willing to take a chance.

Also, what if you do well with your book? Where do the readers go from their? And what if you put the first book up for free, they read it, but have no second book to buy?

It just makes sense to have more books out. The more you have, the more you can share with your readers. The more you share the more they can share.

The concept of visibility dictates that the more surface area you have, the greater the chance someone will spot you… so give yourself lots of books, and lots of feelers out there for maximum chance to be seen.

Okay… got your second, third, etc, book done? Great!

Now… go play on social networks. Meet people, comment on their threads, share your stories. DON’T PROMOTE!

Seems counter intuitive, doesn’t it? Yes, well, we are living in a counter intuitive world. How many of us skip cable, TiVo, use Netflix or anything else, just to avoid advertisement? Why would you think anyone would want to see and advert about your book if they don’t want to see a commercial in the middle of their TV show?

No, they want you to interact with them. Be funny, be interesting, join the conversation. Or produce something worth talking about. if you can do both then you are GOLDEN! People will go looking for you to see what you say if you are interesting enough. People will search out your commercials on youtube if you’re funny. They will Google your story if you’re exciting. They will post tributes, make fan fic, and generally make a joyful noise as long as you making something they care about, or you are someone they care about.

My best success hasn’t been screaming “BUY MY BOOKS!” It’s been making friends. Sharing stories. Interacting with fans. That has brought more people into my little corner of the web then anything else out there. And I am so grateful to all the friends that have made this possible.

Yes, I wrote that!

The new SPRT, episode 4, is out.

SPRT

We had an interview with author Lisa Grace about her movie deal, and how she weathered the trials and tribulations of dealing with lawyers, producers, and publishers to bring her indie book series to the movies.

Also, John ate his words.

If you recall, last week I published “The Pretty Leaf” for free because one of my co-hosts, John Ward, took a shot at flash-fic. And here John is, saying how great “The Pretty Leaf” really was.

I’ve had some great responses from people about “The Pretty Leaf”, and I’m really glad I wrote it. I hope you will share it with others, comment, like, or even print out to give away.

Stories are better when they are shared.

 

My co-hosts–  Carl Sinclair |  Wade Finnegan  |  Bill Dowis  |  John Ward

Self Publishing – $1500?

I’ve been following Joanna Penn since she appeared on “The Self Publishing Podcast“. She’s a very interesting, thoughtful, and educated woman. She’s got her stuff together, and her books are pretty good too.

She often links to interesting articles about writing and publishing on her twitter and facebook. That is where I get a lot of my “This week in publishing” links.

Today she linked to “How Self Published Books are Made Start to Finish“.

The first thing I notice is a list of “things you should have” and one entry:

  • Money to invest in said book. I wouldn’t start this without $1,500 in the bank marked ‘I can lose this’

Who can afford to just mark $1,500 dollars as “I can lose this”?

Okay, I understand her reasoning. There are editors, book cover designers, marketing, print books, advertising… Ya, there are a LOT of things that go into writing, publishing, and selling your books. Even if you go with a simple cover design that you put together you probably need to buy a licenses for the art work, unless you have some art skills.

But… $1500?

I’ve got 8 books out now. I’ve spent a total of $400. All of that went to editing one book, “Osiren’s Tears“. Granted, I wasn’t completely satisfied with the the editing. It seemed rushed, and I know someone who could have done a better job for a little more money, but he wasn’t available then.

Editing is worth the investment. Some day, I hope, I will make enough to have everything I have already put up re-edited, and then re-published as a new, better edition. But I’m on a budget, and my budget does not include $1500 to blow.

The nice thing about going indie in ANY industry (movies, music, writing, theater, art…) is that you can invest what you have. You can outsource, barter, scrimp, save, and adjust.

Here is what you really must have for self-publishing:

  • An idea
  • Time
  • Patience
  • Persistence
  • A plan
  • A finished manuscript
  • The ability to take criticism
  • An edit
  • A cover
  • More patience
  • The willingness to ask questions.

Only two of those things might cost you some actual hard earned money, and there are ways to get around that too. Got a friend who is an artist? Suggest a trade. You’ll do something for them (babysit, cook, clean, wash their car) if they design a cover for you. Got a group of friends that like to read? Will they be your beta readers and give you some good feedback on cleaning up your prose? Writers workshops are free, and often help a lot.

Another wonderful part about indie industry is that there are a lot of people doing the same thing, and willing to help out in many ways. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, ask for help, look for tutorials on youtube, read a how to book, and ASK QUESTIONS!

Now, granted, just throwing your book up on amazon will not bring a lot of sales to you. That’s where marketing, and word of mouth comes in. But if your book is good, interesting, and well written, and you put yourself out there where people will see you, then you have a good chance of getting some readers.

Then the trick is to start the whole process over again. The more you publish, the more noticeable you will be. This is true even for really bad writing. There are some terrible books out there with awful covers, and horrible grammar. But they keep producing, and there are people who read their stuff. Go figure.

Point being… you can produce a book for the low cost of ZERO dollars. Doesn’t mean it will be good, or sell, but you can do it. 

And if it is good, or just pretty good, and you get some sales, then maybe you can start saving up for that $1500, and a proper release of a bigger project later.

Around the Web

Your semi regular dose of news from around the web.

The saga over Penguin exploiting authors continues. And now there is a class action lawsuit over unpaid royalties to go with it all.

On some lighter notes:

Some of the best known authors prove it’s never too late to start writing.

The Creative Penn discusses marketing and selling learned from some top selling indie authors.

Pets of favorite authors.

The SPP interviews CJ Lyons. (youtube)

 

Happy writing.