Hello!

Hello and welcome. My name is Stephen Black and I work with media, words and art. Media: VR, computer-generated environments,video and photography. Words: articles and books, including Bali Wave Ghost, I Ate Tiong Bahru, Obama Search Words and a few others.

This post is gives you some idea of my current projects.

Thank you for stopping by.

Stephen Black
I Ate Tiong Bahru 2 crowdfunding page…

physical laborers

black and white image of man dropping vase

Ai Wewei, Yesim Agaoglu, Stephen Black, Eugene Soh collaboration in gallery.sg

Jeff Koons Balloon Dog in SPOKEN

Nhung: Floating

low tech in hi tech

Works created with ink

two men smiling

If one person can be said to symbolize the Tiong Bahru Market, it might be this guy in the hat…

SB & 3D (Why I’m excited to be in Eugene Soh’s virtual gallery project)

THIS post was written before SPOKEN started. SPOKEN is a project I am doing with Eugene Soh, an experiment in which art, text, virtual reality and social media intersect. Learn about SPOKEN here.

To enter gallery.sg and experience SPOKEN, click here.
Here is the extremely short version: from 2002 until 2008 I was involved with a visionary virtual reality project that combined educational practices with gamemaking and multimedia. However, the spiritual captain of the project was part Disney, part Microsoft and part Sex Pistols. An unexpected death, treachery, incompetence, inexperience, bureaucratic boondoggles and more made my life “interesting”… I have pages of notes about the events and the spirit of the times. We were doing things like Youtube and Second Life before they started. The project was so close… and yet so far away. (Actually, now that mobile technology has settled down, I hope that the lessons and products of that experience can be revitalized. But that’s yet another story.)
In 2006, as a way of showcasing our technology,  I entered a gamemaking hackathon. A theme was given on a Thursday morning and the next day at five the results were judged.The theme was something about healthy eating, I think. Working with my programmer in Hong Kong, we made a game in which the viewer learned about the calorie count of certain foods. The player competed with an AI character.  It was fun to do.
However, what I remember most was a team that made an incredible flash game. I don’t remember if they won or not, but I do remember two guys on that team very well. George Parel and Eugene Soh were full of energy, knowledge and bursting with creative ideas.
They still are.
I’ve been lucky to work with George and Eugene on a few projects since then. In 2008 I finally had to put the educational gamemaking project on hold while I waited for a programmer and the mobile device situation to stabilize.I put more time into writing and art projects. George and Eugene (that dude from Singapore) however, have kept on doing remarkably creative things with IT, art, design and more.
Virtual reality may seem to be an artificial place, but the gallery Eugene has created fills me with memories and hope. I am honored and very thankful for I Ate Tiong Bahru to be on display in gallery.sg
IATB in virtual gallery
Cheers, Eugene! Cheers, George!

Ebooks: Born to Click (1 of 3)

Preface

This informal essay is my way of marking the end of a certain era in ebook history. It’s part snapshot, part reference materials, part journal.At the end of this post are notes about me, my experiences and my books.
Thanks to Doug Rolph for his insights on economics, Eric Hellman for his input and my dad for having taken care of our family by selling books.

το πνεύμα του Ιανού

After I finish writing eight books, I will begin marketing. Until then, I’ll probably study the ebook world less and hopefully do more writing, arting and engaging with Life. When it does comes time for me to contribute to the marketing conversation, I hope I have something to say. For now, I present the following notes, quotes and thoughts as a means of punctuating a phase in the development of ebooks as I have seen and experienced it.

This is an exciting time. The ebook delivery platforms are finally stable, self-publishing has proven to have great value and a number of services have recently appeared that shorten the distances between readers and authors. It seems to me that indie ebooks and ebook marketing are about to enter a new era.

This blog post makes little mention of traditional publishing. This is simply because, as much as I would like to enjoy the benefits of being a Big 5/6 author, that fruit is not now within my reach. I am however, considering joining the Author’s Guild.

Although I’ve done almost no marketing, I have studied the environments in which ebooks are created, presented, bought and sold. Some observations:

1. Except for uploading, nothing about ebooks is easy.
Writing is the anti-social social media, full of long, long hours of pressure-filled solitude. Assembling an error-free book is never simple. The social part, finding an audience, is an immense challenge. I respect all of the authors mentioned in this post for they have successfully met these challenges and more.

Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.
Stephen King

Based on my experiences, the work breakdown of an 88,000 word novel looks something like this: 1000 words a day (88 days) or, more likely, 500 words a day (176 days). Call it 200 days to prepare something for a proofreader. Two months for corrections, art, and ebook conversion. So, a book takes about 300 working days to finalize. About…
And then there are the thousands of actions needed to connect with readers… The title of Guy Kawasaki’s excellent book says it all: APE, meaning Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur

This document, by Mark Coker, the founder of Smashwords, is a data-based analysis of the ebook market. Highly recommended, it covers topics important for newbies and veterans. It touches upon issues like word count, pricing, marketing and more. For instance, his research shows that the average bestseller on Smashwords is 100,000 words, and the average romance is 112,195 words. (There are more links to resources at the end of this post.)
Very few traditionally published authors became bestsellers; the same is true for ebook publishing. My goal is not to become a bestseller, but to connect with the largest possible community of people who enjoy the art of reading.

2. A great writer or a great marketer…
….or, the frustration of being caught between not doing enough writing and not doing enough marketing. A writer writes, a salesman sells.
Self-publishing does not equal self-marketing. Spending money wisely on promotion money means income and time to write. (See the links below)
Twitter, Goodreads, FB, LinkedIn and blogging? All have their advantages and disadvantages…

3. There are no independent, hugely successful ebook-only self-publishers.
Note: Two days after this post went up, I became aware of this great piece by Dana Beth Weinberg on Digital Book World. Thank you Jacqueline Church!

Amazon is huge, Apple is huge, Kobo and Smashwords are very big. Unless you are selling from your own website or the back of your car, you’re not truly independent.

OK, A bit of an attention grabber there…but the author’s need for a partnership with Amazon and ebook distributors is a dependence that cannot be overlooked. These “automatic partners” will always protect their interests first. They call the shots. Amazon is a business, not an author.

Amanda Hocking is a hugely successful author. At one point, the average daily sales figure of her self-published ebooks was 9000. Again: average DAILY book sales: nine thousand! Her success was based on hard work, technological first mover advantage and an indirect tie-in with Hollywood.
Consider:
-the successful and pioneering integration of ebook readers into tablets and mobile as well as the launch of the Kindle (2007) and the iPad(2010)
-the large demographic of young women who bought readers and tablets
– the fact that, having written many books, Hocking could quickly provide a new and large market with a variety of new titles
– writing books about the paranormal when Hollywood is pushing the same cannot hurt. Twilight, the hugely successful series of movies about teen vampires began in 2008. Hocking’s first book, My Blood Approves, began selling in 2010.

E.L. James’ book phenomenon began in the fan fiction chat rooms for Twilight. The characters in Fifty Shades of Grey were originally the characters from Twilight. Could Master of the Universe, as her series was originally called, have achieved its success without an existing network of thousands of Twilight fans?

These two women made their mark upon society in two different ways. As shared, collective book-based experiences: WOW!
However, the writing is…”not terrible” or worse

I remember SF/F authors complaining (back in 2011) that their readers hadn’t switched to e-books yet, casting jealous eyes at the outsized romance audience. But as readers did move across, we saw people like David Dalglish and BV Larson breaking out, and the rest of “genre” fiction soon followed.
http://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/2013/10/22/amazon-makes-life-easier-for-authors-of-historical-literary-fiction/

There are “indie success stories” about authors who “rode into town” on the backs of traditional publishing. Funded by Big 6 money these “indies” were advertised and publicized, sent on book tours and given things like business cards. Possibly, audiobooks were made. Hundreds, if not thousands, of their books were given away, many to reviewers.
As the ‘first mover’possibilities of the ebook market became clear and realistic, these authors, knighted by the Big 6 and armed with credibility and connections, rode onto a battlefield with little opposition… Undoubtedly hard work was involved, but to label them as indies brings to mind the quip about George Bush: “…was born on third base and thinks he hit a triple.”

There certainly are “ebook only” indies connecting with many readers and enjoying sales. I just don’t know of any. (FOUND SOMEONE: LINDSAY BUROKER Please tell me about others! them! Somewhat related to this, are there any “ebook only” awards?

Here, authors talk about their sales experiences.

4. The ebook world evolves to reward the reader; the prepared author benefits from this.
Fan fiction. Goodreads. Ebook readers on mobile phones. The mashup between big data and metadata. Entrepreneurs with vision who see ways to connect authors and readers in a new ways.

It is an exciting time.

Ebooks: Born to Click, Part 2 of 3

visit www.blacksteps.tv for parts 2 and 3 of this post, as well as information on art, books and ebooks

 

I Ate Tiong Bahru & Tiong Bahru Mouth Glasses and book

SAMSUNG CSC

I ate tiong bahru glass coffee mug

toing bahru glass simple background

tiong bahru glass simple background

SAMSUNG CSC

I ate tiong bahru book and glass coffee mug

I ate tiong bahru book and glass coffee mug, with tiong bahru mouth glass coffee mug

tabletop

tabletop

BOOK MERAH BOOK GIVEAWAY

Hello…

To see me bray like a donkey as I briefly describe the books, click here.

To see an informative interview shot in Bali, click here.

For complete descriptions of the books being given away, click here.

The schedule….

FIRES

Red chairs, cyril wong and FIRES

free downloads over for now…

………………………………….

FURIKAKE

photography as part of book cover designiron fire riceballs and red thumbkway

All the free days have passed…

………………………………….

I ATE TIONG BAHRUIATB_front

give away completed!

……………………………………..

OBAMA SEARCH WORDS

Obama Search Words by Stephen Black

free downloads over!

…………………………..

BALI WAVE GHOST

black and white book covers

 August  8, September 1

 

Interactive Fiction…Go to the site to find PICASSO IN THE RAIN!

https://ifcomp.org/

 

I ATE TIONG BAHRU AUDIOBOOK SAMPLE 

Video interview about the books

 

Kickstarter coming soon!!

Thank you for stopping by… Drop a line! And, honest reviews on Amazon or Goodreads are always appreciated! THANKS

 

Stephen Black

Amazon Book Reviews: Different Presentations to Different Countries?

If you think that Amazon posts the same reviews, and the same number of reviews for each book, think again…

OK, all of this first happened before I had coffee. Now, twelve hours later, I can tell you the following pieces of information are  worth writing about…

  • There are now only two reviews displayed on the Singapore Amazon page, which I think is the same as the UK Amazon page..
  • If you notice, on some of the pages it says, below the star rating chart, there is a sentence written in green: Published on Amazon.com… that seems obvious, so there must be something I’ m missing. I mean, if I am on the Amazon page and I see the review, it is published on Amazon. com, correct? But then why does that green sentence NOT appear on the Singapore page? (Which only has two reviews?)
  • At one point this morning, the score was: Canada 3, USA 2, UK 2, Singapore 2… these “scores” were all tabulated at almost the same time… And not all of the reviews were the same. I think maybe six people have written reviews in total, but I have yet to see them all displayed on the same page.
  • 13548828_10157031666075125_1006338799_o 13524140_10157031694765125_1438300248_o 13555991_10157031666070125_619470784_o
  • Stralia! The Australian Amazon page shows no “star” reviews, but has two reviews, one for four and the other for five stars….And, from the screenshot below, it seems that an individual country, in this case Australia, does not use the yellow bars of the star system unless the review was posted on that country’s Amazon.au site…. To put it another way, reviews  show up definitely on the Amazon page of the country from which the review was sent. But Amazon’s algorithms may not share that post internationally and equally.

13392157_654679868020560_3445337553130063924_o

So there ya gooo

A big thank you to Stuart Rankin!

Oh yeah! Bali Wave Ghost is here...and there are plenty of posts about it on this blog, as well as a link to a video interview.

And if you would like to get a free ebook of Bali wave ghost, click here…

Don’t get me started on the way that this WordPress version presents lists…99% of WordPress is fantastic, but lists and numbering…

 

 

Silent State logo tests

Silent State is the name of a new musical project by Amith Narayan, Wilson Goh, Justin Bannister and Siva Saravanan. The following are simple tests made with MS Paint. At some point I hope I can invest the time to learn Pshop or the equivalent, but for now the following do the job as starting points for discussion.

The last one is, perhaps, the most exciting. It also requires a delicate sensibility and the experience to combine a handwritten word with an authoritarian block font.

Amith had suggested that green or grey could be used. Those choices could work, but with the following I was, obviously, just working with the idea of negative space… as well as a limited selection of fonts and the bare bones positioning capabilities of MS Paint.

Re: the music. It is a treat.  For those of you who don’t know, Justin is a keyboard genius from the great state of Michigan, Siva has done outstanding work as a percussionist and composer of award-winning movie soundtracks, Wilson is an award-winning choral singer and Amith’s band The Unseen Guest continues to get more fans and praise for their two albums. And then there is 3how
almost silent state sil state silent state 2 lines silent state almost nice silent

silent state close silent state red and blackuntitledstate01 (1)

Jakarta Menghubungkan !?

Halo. Nama saya adalah Stephen Black.
Saya mengirim pesan ini
berharap untuk terhubung dengan
seniman , penulis , wartawan , musisi , 
dan siapa saja yang tertarik bertukar ide
Saya melakukan banyak hal .
Berikut adalah galeri maya saya buat dengan artis Eugene Soh
 www.gallery.sg
Saya telah menulis sebuah novel tentang Bali disebut Bali Wave Ghost .
Beach Road adalah nama dari 360 film saya telah membuat .

megaJakarta
Saya memiliki lebih banyak seni dan menulis proyek , 
tapi saya berharap untuk mempelajari lebih lanjut tentang apa yang Anda lakukan . 

Aku akan berada di TIM sampai sekitar 20:00 hari ini .

Email aku! bookmerah  AT Gmail 
or on Facebook 
https://www.facebook.com/baliwaveghost/
Terima kasih!

StephenBlack

 

Halo! My  name is Stephen Black.

I send this message hoping to connect with artists, writers, journalists, musicians and anyone interested in exchanging ideas.

I do many things.

Here is a virtual gallery I created with the artist Eugene Soh. www.gallery.sg

I have written a novel about Bali called Bali Wave Ghost.

Beach Road is the name of a 360 movie I have made.

I have many more art and writing projects, but I hope to learn more about what you do. Email me! bookmerah  AT Gmail or on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/baliwaveghost/

Terima kasih!

 

Stephen Black

MegaJakarta 2

MegaJakarta 1 is here.

megaJakarta 2

megaJakarta 2

I have lived in and written about Bali. To live in Bali is to live amongst the tourist industry, the Balinese form of Hinduism and the battle between man and nature. The image above was created at the Jakarta Airport.

Noise is the brushstroke of digital photography.

Eight links…

Tourism in Indonesia

It seems to me an interesting idea: that is to say the idea that we live in the description of a place and not in the place itself, and in every vital sense we do.
-Wallace Stevens

This quote is used in the introduction to “Landscape, Writing and Photography” by Sarah Hill

Enlightening Enounters: Photography in Italian Literature

Traveller’s Visions: French Literary Encounters With Japan 1881-2004

An Archaeology of Architecture: Photowriting the Built Environment

Stephen Black video interview on the writing  of Bali Wave Ghost

Henry Rollins on Noise and Wolf Eyes

“People ask if, as a photographer, I try to relate pictures to particular pieces of music. In the case of Glenn’s albums, we were both concerned with creating a compelling image, without reference to a specific repertoire.”

Legendary photographer, Don Hunstein recalls collaborations with Glenn Gould

 

MegaJakarta 1

The introduction to the megaJakarta project is here.
Jakarta blur plants edited

 

Embracing the impossibility to fully understand the moment before me. Utilizing technology, choreography and chance to create a two dimensional model and monument.

I came to Jakarta with “only” a smart phone. I had a few questions about my relationship with photography. Reflecting upon the time and place captured by the camera as well as the subsequent processing of the image resulted in the statement above.

One of my intentions with the megaJakarta project was to find eight links that would offer insights into each image. And so…

  1. Ohio smartphone surrealism
  2. From nothing to this…
  3. Cikini
  4. From nothing to this 2
  5. Delete by haiku
  6. http://www.culturemobile.net/bio/personnalites/paul-virilio
  7. From nothing to this 3
  8. H.G. Wells

On my Facebook page I have posted almost a hundred images taken for the megaJakarta project. Only one or two have been modified, the rest are “unattractive”. Here is a sample.

The “before” image of the one above.

megaJakarta 1, from camera

megaJakarta 1, from camera

MegaJakarta 2 is here.

 

Using Facebook Live

Because I will soon be doing another ebook giveaway AND a Kickstarter campaign, I wanted to test and learn about Facebook Live and see if it could be used to help with promotion.

I should mention that, for the past three years, I have been writing and living in Bali, one result being that it was unnecessary to have a smartphone.

Suddenly I find myself in Jakarta with an “old” Samsung. It has been the ideal opportunity to work with photography and Facebook Live. What I have learned in the past few days will somehow help the free ebook and Kickstarter campaigns.

1. My first Facebook Live experience…wow! Actually, this took place in Singapore, a couple of weeks ago, when I helped my friends at JDMIS do a test. At present, one segment has reached over 52,000 people and 11,000 people viewed at least part of it. These figures astounded me, though I was fully aware that JDMIS has a large fan base and the live broadcast was promoted by a boosted ad. I think less than 40 dollars were spent in total (there were a few segments). We live in amazing times.

My Facebook Live audience has rarely been in the double digits. Understandable as I have done no preparation, my followers are not many and I am not paying to boost anything.

  1. Facebook Live from a technical aspect. For a serious shoot, the Wifi must be checked beforehand, especially if the camera moves even a few feet. A weak signal will stop the video or result in distortion. Sound and picture quality are acceptable but, like any video shoot, preparation is needed for the best audio and video.
  2. Facebook Live from a cinematographer’s viewpoint. Without some sort of stabilizer, the picture will be bumpy. I need a Smoovie! Facebook Live uses a square format! There are filters, including one for black and white. 
  3. Facebook Live from a social media aspect. The Facebook Live Map is useful, but I don’t think I gained any viewers because of it. As mentioned, I do not yet have a large audience base and as a result cannot expect a significant number of viewers, though a Facebook Ad campaign may change that. Unlike the Live video, those ads can be tagged.

Conclusion: Along with photography and writing, Facebook Live has been an interesting way to document my time in Jakarta. As for using Facebook Live to promote my upcoming campaigns, I did come up with the following idea during my experiments: During the campaigns, I will read sections from Bali Wave Ghost in interesting and quiet places in Bali that have good WiFi.

Although the live recording may not attract large numbers unless I boost the post, I can later put the recorded video in my blog where I can label it with the appropriate keywords. The ability to get video online quickly and easily is, presently, the Facebook Live feature that I want to work with the most.

megaJakarta

  1. Tourism, travelling, dislocation, diaspora, nothing is stationary from the universal point of view, invisible connections
  2. Portrait of time spent in Jakarta, portrait of Jakarta, documentation of travelling through Jakarta, documentation of interaction with the people of Jakarta.
  3. “All art is self-portraiture.” Yasumasa Morimura
  4.  This is unBeat. I intensely dislike On the Road yet admire the marketing campaign that converted that lengthy piece of terrible typing into a touchstone for a generation.
  5. Working seriously with, for the first time, a mobile phone, an  “old” Samsung. Also utilizing every Facebook feature I possibly can.
  6. Though it is an impossibility, megaJakarta is created with a total disregard for the audience and the industries of Art, Photography Video and Literature. Those who suffer through this four day ordeal may see a reversal of this approach.
  7. Portrait of Jakarta, Documentation of time spent in Jakarta, Capturing moments in Jakarta, Documentations of Jakarta created in less than one second, Ignoring photography while using a camera in Jakarta, self-portraiture using Jakarta as a substitute for the self.
  8. Ignoring marketing principles, especially those connected to social media, to create an art and text based commodity.

MegaJakarta 1 is here.

Facebook Live: What Would Andy Warhol Do?

Sleep

Lonesome Cowboys

Outer and Inner Space

Flesh

He would use his signature and technology to make money.Gallery Kia red and other colors_edited


black cat wood

 

cat FB Live