Who’s Working For Authors?
The battle between Amazon and the Publishing industry continues to heat up. Thanks to the exploding self-publishing Indie market, there is plenty of conflict in this story. Only this isn’t fiction - it’s real.
Navigating through the myriad of publishing choices available for authors today can be complicated and confusing. For the first time in history, with the help of new innovations and more accessibility, there are a variety of options for new and experienced writers. But, with some of those options, comes a price. If an author doesn’t take the time to understand their options or research them they might pay the price later.
Everyone wants a piece of the Indie publishing pie; Amazon, publishers, small presses, vanity presses, ebooks and even bookstores. Yet, in this scenario, who is working for the authors? The only real answer to this is - the author. Authors must be more diligent then ever to protect themselves and their work.
This blog post is the result of the Amazon vs Publishers and bookstores battle. During my research for a book client, I couldn’t locate any evidence of who was really working for the authors? For example, a certain bookstore, which is now offering self-publishing services, was convincing my client, and other writers, to be anti-Amazon. They would tell them that they should use their program with Ingram, a nationwide book distributor.
Yet, I felt that they weren’t telling their clients the entire story. The information the bookstore provided was limited and one-sided. I couldn’t get a clear picture of what was really being offered? Nor, could I understand what the benefits were for the author? What the authors would hear is use them and Ingram and your book will be in bookstores. Only, they left out some really important information: just because you use Ingram doesn’t mean that your book will be picked up by bookstores. In fact, probably just the opposite.
And, where did Amazon fit into this equation? Were the books going to be available on Amazon? It was a bit confusing since they were anti-Amazon. After all, Amazon sells the majority of books and ebooks all over the world.
Regardless of how any of us feel about Amazon, they are a necessary tool for today’s Indie authors. My goal was to make sure that my client had full advantage of all avenues that would help her book be successful, this included Amazon. It should be about how could we make them, the author, successful, not who is the bad guy in this story.
I, for one, am grateful to Amazon. Because of Amazon and the Kindle, there are more readers today than ever before. Amazon and Createspace have opened up doors and opportunities that were never available before. Not just for writers, but also for readers.
They have allowed writers to explore and expand. They put no limit on creativity.
As an author, I am more willing to go with a publisher who can solve my problems and makes it easy for me. One who understands the importance of writers, as well as readers.
I think bookstores and publishers shouldn’t focus on anti-Amazon campaigns. This won’t gain them market share. Instead, they should take note of what Amazon is doing right and focus on that. Amazon makes it easy for writers. They don’t limit writers. Authors should have the options to diversify their work; to self-publish on the sites that make it easy for readers and writers to connect.
As an author, it should be all about your bottom line, not theirs. Do what is best for you. All of these options should be working for you, not the other way around. After all, it is your writing that is making them money.
Who’s Writing this Story, Anyway?
What Happens When Characters Take Over
by Kathleen Kaska
As writers we’ve been asked the question many times, and have answered with humor, wit, and candor, only to receive that unbelievable stare in response. You know the one that says, “you can’t be serious.” So, a few years ago, when I was asked to write a piece for my writers’ group about how authors develop or invent their characters, I turned my answer into the following short story.
I met the old woman on a back road in Arkansas. It was a bright, breezy Thanksgiving afternoon. My husband and I were taking in the fall colors north of Hot Springs when we made the wrong turn back to town and had gotten lost. As he fumbled with the map, I lowered the window and I gazed out at an algae-covered pond. The air was heavy with the scent of pine and the ease of the moment seemed to settle in. Then I caught a movement from the corner of my eye. I turned and look. And there she was, standing by the car and smiling at me.
“Let me do it,” she whispered. “Let me be the one.”
“Do what?” I said.
“Let me be the one to kill the goddamn bastard.”
Introductions were not necessary, I knew who she was, and I was glad to see her. I had been waiting for two months, but I did not expect her to show up here.
Eighty-two-year-old Ida Springfield was the most cantankerous old woman I had ever known. From Two Horse, Montana, Ida was no bigger than a stick. A stiff wind kicked up and I grabbed her hand for fear that she would fly away with the fallen foliage. She stared straight ahead, pulling at her lower lip the way she does when pondering a critical situation. I studied her profile. Pulled tight from her face, her hair formed a long, thick braid, which hung down her back. A few gray strands had come loose around her temples and with small, firm birdlike hands, Ida brushed the errant hair back.
Everything about her was petite. Her thimble-size nose and slightly pointed chin gave a rather simple face some dimension. Her wrinkles were even tiny, almost as if they had been drawn on her face with a fine-tipped pencil. From a distance, except for the gray hair, she could easily pass for a woman several decades younger. One had to get close to tell Ida’s age. I wondered how close I would have to get to understand what Ida was all about.
“It won’t be easy, you know,” I said.
“Nothing good ever is. I’ll put the body in his car and push it into a pond.” She nodded toward the property across the road. “Like the one you’ve been staring at.” The look on her face frightened me.
“But one murder usually leads to another,” I reminded her.
I glanced at my husband—his nose deep in the Rand McNally, sorting out his own immediate problem, he ignored us.
“I know, sweetie. You let me worry about that,” Ida said. “Do what you do best: take care of the details.”
We returned to the hotel, just as the buffet crowd had begun to thin. This was the fifth consecutive year that my husband and I have celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday at the historic Arlington Hotel. The day’s routine had us hiking across the backbone of Music Mountain in the morning and cruising the back roads for the rest of the afternoon waiting for the families to feed first. We changed out of our grubby shorts and T-shirts, showered, and dressed for dinner in jeans and clean T-shirts and sat down at our favorite table next to the Venetian fountain.
Although the once succulent turkey now competed for dryness with the sage dressing, we preferred the quiet dining room after the masses had left. Over a bottle of Merlot, my husband and I discussed the murder. I told him about Ida and he agreed that she was the best candidate thus far. No one would suspect an old lady of killing her good-for-nothing husband, and sixty-five years later, her hateful son.
Besides, Ida wouldn’t give me a moment’s peace until I gave her the assignment. Despite my reservations about her ability to carry it off, and the fact that she was a pain in the ass, I was growing quite fond of the old gal.
Thanksgiving was the only time of year that I splurged on desserts. A sliver of pecan pie, and this year’s new addition to the dessert ensemble, a mocha-caramel cheesecake sat on my dessert plate. As I sliced a piece of apple torte in half, my eye caught a movement behind the fichus tree at the entrance to the Jockey's Bar. She stood there, head down, lips silently moving. I sat my plate down on the dessert table and rushed over.
“Ida, what happened? Are you okay?”
She pulled away putting more waxy leaves between us as if she needed protection from me. A throaty crackle behind me made me turn. I did a double take.
“She’s shy until she gets to know you, and then it’s Jenny-bar-the-door. You can’t shut her up,” Ida chortled. “Veda, come out from behind that bush and meet your boss.”
“My twin—she’s one special lady and she’s your motive, or my motive, that is. You see, Colter beating up on me is one thing, but the day he laid a hand on my retarded sister, I had to draw the line.”
“I get it now.” I licked apple torte crumbs from my thumb.
“Right. You thought I’d kill those two assholes because of my ranch, and you are right. I’d do anything to save it, but the real reason is because Colter comes home drunk and I catch him raping Veda.”
“Oh, Ida . . . I’m so sorry.” I turned around to reach out to Veda, but she had disappeared.
“She dies too, honey.”
“Pneumonia. With all the shit going on, Veda’s health starts to wear down.”
“I see—it might just work.”
“You gonna eat all that dessert, honey?”
I looked down at my plate, embarrassed by my indulgence and that Ida should know my weakness for sweets. Then she disappeared also, leaving me standing alone at the fichus tree.
This always happens in Hot Springs—the place must be my Muse. One year I met long, tall Sydney Lockhart, the protagonist in my second mystery series. As I was unpacking, she walked out of the bathroom and asked me why there was a dead body lying in the bathtub, the very bathtub where she had been conceived thirty years ago. Before I could think of a reasonable answer, she then asked if I had room for her and her two animals, a cat named Mealworm, and a poodle name Monroe. Regardless of the no pet rule, I welcomed them with open arms, and by the week’s end, we had the plot lined out for the first Sydney Lockhart mystery, Murder at the Arlington.
One of the miracles of writing is when my characters present themselves when I least expect it. What’s even more amazing is they often take over and tell the story for me. It’s almost like a seed had been planted a long time ago, and suddenly the conditions turn ideal, and the seed germinates—and for a moment, writing is simple and a heck of a lot of fun.
I have never considered myself remarkable. I am, however, surrounded by remarkable women. Women who amaze me with their talents, energy and fortitude. How could I ever achieve to be like them? Most of us are modest about who we are, our gifts and our accomplishments. We are meant to give and care about others. We tend to put our needs and ourselves on the back burner. But, this may be what makes us truly remarkable. Our ability to give and care for others and still live our passion. To have the energy and determination to move forward and still be there for our families and friends.
When author Carolyn Leeper asked if I would like to be included in a book she was writing entitled 19 Remarkable Northwest Women, I didn’t realize what she was actually writing about. I read the manuscript when Carolyn hired my business, Armchair ePublishing, to design the book cover and complete the book’s layout and ebook conversions. It was during this process, while I was reading the stories of these women, that the full scope of the book hit me. I was in awe over what these women had accomplished and surprised when I learned Carolyn had included me as one of the nineteen.
I have always been fascinated with people and their stories. What makes them tick? What motivated them? How they accomplished their achievements? This book was an invitation to study some truly remarkable women and the things they have done; the adversities that got in their way and yet made them stronger; how their passion and determination led to their accomplishments.
I see these strengths in the women I’ve met and have had the intense pleasure of getting to know over the years. I idolize them and feel humbled to be in their presence. They encourage me to keep going and set forth my own accomplishments and follow my passions. I look up to these women and I think, “WOW.”
For me, women are remarkable. The balance of work, family and life in general can be difficult and yet they not only manage, they succeed.
My advice to all women: Be grateful, for you are remarkable. Be proud of your awesomeness. Lead others and share your greatness, so that they to can be great!
After two and a half years of searching and tracking down Curly Beeler and his gang, for shooting him and leaving him for dead, then raping and killing his wife and unborn child, along with stealing his stock and burning his ranch to the ground; Clay is checking out a small town before going in. Through a pair of binoculars, Clay Brentwood spots the man he's been searching for, standing in front of a cantina in a small town in southern New Mexico. Clay takes over the scene..
Pushing away from the boulder he'd been leaning against, Clay walked over and patted his horse on the neck.
"Should I ride in and try to enlist the sheriffs help, or inquire about some men to hire to help me round up Curly and his gang, or should I go in alone.?"
The horse gave him a knowing look.
"You're right. I should go it alone. After all it's not their fight, it's mine and mine alone. How many men did he have with him, was it nine or was it ten?"
The black stallion shook his head.
"You're right again. It was nine - nine, hardened gunslingers against just one man, me, with only surprise on my side. Think I should ride in with guns blazin', or just ride in and play it by ear?"
The big horse shook his head and pawed the ground. Clay scratched him behind the ears.
"First thing in the mornin', we'll just ride into town and see what happens."
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The Author in all of us
There is a story inside. One that needs out and to be read by others. It's there and now it's time for it to flow from author to the reader. Join us as we celebrate Indie authors.