Tag Archives: selfpublishing

Your Super Restaurant (Hugh Howey Must D’yer Maker)

Something impossibly magical has happened to you; a situation you could have never imagined, even when you were young and full of dreams. Something like this: a blip in the universal scheme of things allows you the opportunity to create and sell food of any type, nationality or substance! From salt-packed anchovies to grass-fed beef to organic hand made zuchini tofu; anything you want to cook with appears; you just have to think about it.

Spices, harvested at the peak of perfection. Flours prepared by artisans. Spring water and wild honey from pristine mountains, sacred rice, fresh fish and weird stuff usually found in insanely hot bbq sauce. You can make food ”just like mom’s”. You can provide sustenance for refugees or intergalactic warriors. Baby food. Comfort food from the Song Dynasty, the candle lit dinners that Napoleon shared with Josephine, feasts unknown to Anthony Bourdain: anything.

You take a deep breath, think for a minute, and, voila! A Whopper. Not a Big Mac, a Whopper. People praise your Whopper. You sell lots and lots of Whoppers. Your Whopper wins prizes and goes global. Your Whopper stars in a movie.

And so it goes.

The title of the post references both a song by Led Zeppelin and Hugh Howie Must Die, a book written in 30 hours for NaNoWriMo by Michael Bunker.

HUGH HOWIE MUST DIE by Michael Bunker 

THE WOOL TRILOGY by Hugh Howey 

hugh-howie-must-die-book-coverled-zeppelin-dyer-maker-big

When I read the letters you wrote, it made me mad mad mad

When I read the words that it told me, it made me sad sad sad

D'YER MAKER by Led Zeppelin mp3 download on Amazon 

Hopefully  the dream described above will not be mistaken as anything more than that. I salute all my brothers and sisters who, to paraphrase Nabakov, are also addicted to the Drug called Ink. And, being the son of a book salesman, I have a special and sincere respect for those whose books are sold.

I discovered Hugh Howey because of his inspiring support for self-publishers and his collaboration with Data Guy on the reverse engineering of Amazon's book sales reports. Michael Bunker, the father of Amish Sci-fi, surprised me with the title of Hugh Howie Must Die. His work, as exemplified by Brother Frank, is usually provocative and dystopian, adventure-filed and entertaining.

As an independent writer,  I must listen to all of the leaders of the self-publishing industry, another being Joe Konrath who, a while back,  defended us against big publishing and people like Stephen Colbert.

But the biggest mistake you made, Mr. Colbert, was a doozy

You pissed me off.

You obviously have no idea how big and important my blog is. How I am the go-to source for all things publishing-related. How this blog can create bestsellers, or destroy careers.

You are now on my shit list, Stephen Colbert. And now I shall use everything within my power to destroy your book sales and ruin your life. Just as you are tying to destroy the book sales and lives of tens of thousands of authors Amazon has helped

Mr. Konrath's  renowned blog is recommended: A Newbie's Guide to Publishing.

I am truly, truly thankful to be able to self-publish my books, though they may be an acquired taste. The ability to create for consumers is  a gift.

..........30............

Self-Publishing: An Insult To The Written Word (my comments in red)

VC questions applied to a book and a VR startup

I am presently in Johor Bahru Malaysia, where I am duotasking: writing a book and concluding the research necessary to begin  a VR-related startup. The questions that investors ask are a must for for my startup and an interesting way to look at my book project. The VR section immediately follows the book section.

VC Questions for Touching JB, a book by Stephen Black

What is it?

A 50,00 word book based on the experiences, thoughts and blog posts of Stephen Black, written during an unexpected stay in Johor Bahru, Malaysia in the spring of 2017. Topics and themes include  cultural issues, human relationships, food, comedy, art and virtual reality.

What problem does it solve?

There are no fact-based fiction books about Johor Bahru. As JB continues to gain international recognition, Touching JB will also gain prominence

Competition

There are no comparable books about JB.

Who is making it?

Bestselling author and producer Stephen Black is making it, aided by Book Merah, who made i ate tiong bahru a bestseller in Singapore.

Potential audience?

Ten thousand readers within five years.

What work has been done?

25,000 words have been written. On schedule.

How will it grow?

Book Merah will handle promotion and marketing. The readers of  Black's previous books will be the first group contacted. Once reviews are secured, large scale promotion will begin.

References

Goodreads, Amazon, Art Review Asia, Expat Living Magazine

Schedule

Finish writing in April. E-publishing and promotion to follow immediately.

VC Questions for a VR-related startup being initiated by Stephen Black

Note; Parts of the following are intentionally vague and for now SVRP (Steve’s VR Project) is being used as the project name.

 

What is it?

A Google Daydream app and platform  for nongaming casual VR users.

What problem does it solve?

Entertainment, education, tourism and other industries will have a tool to build audiences with.

Competition

There is, presently, no competition.

Who is making it?

Experienced 3D and gaming producer Stephen Black

Potential audience?

Tens of millions+

What work has been done?

Extensive research, planning and paper grey boxing

How will it grow?

Carefully chosen beta testers, then alpha companies and individuals, freeware

References

Previous projects were successfully used by the Singapore Science Center and the Singapore Ministry of Education

Schedule

Prepare mockup. Find money. Go forth and prosper.

Let’s Spend the River Together

the writing spree begins now; in  Johor Bahru, Malaysia at 2AM... What a delight it is when unplanned events suddenly enrich our lives. A small example: I wanted to research the possibilities of short story/gaming mashups. This search led me to the work of Marc Laidlaw.  His words and ideas helped shape the legendary Half-Life.  His blog post about writing for games  is a burning  Panthunian crystal, set high on a hill; guidance  for the  hooded, tired traveler that was my question. However, what was delightful is this: I have been researching hands, especially all that is profundis , as well as writing about photography. Mr. Laidlaw had once been approached about doing a “cover version” of The Viewfinder by Raymond Carver.  Hats off to  Larry McCaffery for that idea. Fingers and a camera figure prominently in Carver’s story! My  “cover” of The Viewfinder is now in its second draft and will be in the JB book. I will do my best, but it will never be as good as this story about a musical cover: http://www.blacksteps.tv/the-greatest-music-of-all-time/   PS: Just discovered this, about the use of photography in The Viewfinder:  https://www.scribd.com/document/263990334/Raymond-Carver-in-the-Viewfinder   PSS Here is the latest draft of my cover of The Viewfinder.           Weaselspittism

Superinterview: April Eberhardt,”literary change agent”

I wish I could find the  Digital Book World article that gave me the first glimpse into the work of April Eberhardt. The article included a mention of her--or, maybe she made a comment.(Found it! It was actually in Publishers Weekly.) I looked at her website and immediately sent an email, asking if I could interview her. She agreed. That was about five months ago. Both of us have been busy. If you know me, you know that my father sold/sells books. You also may know that I have been involved with the creative/writing side of the internet for quite a while. When Amazon began selling a device only for reading books in 2007, I finally committed myself to writing books/ebooks.  Since then, I had been waiting for someone like April Eberhardt. I didn't think that traditional publishers would drown in the wave of  self-publishing, but I did believe that there would be a third possibility. When I saw the phrase "literary change agent" connected with April Eberhardt's name, I was thrilled. Although I may be an April Eberhardt fanboy, I am not writing this to kiss her elbow and hope she will pick up my books. I don't think she works that way, number one. And, number two, it is premature for me to think about changing the course I have chosen for my writing career and my other pursuits. This post is mainly for my own reference and enjoyment... it's something like an experimental portrait. OK..here we go... We open with an excerpt from a recent interview conducted by  Chicago Women in Publishing.
You describe yourself as a literary change agent. What does that mean? 
The publishing landscape is changing rapidly and drastically, to the benefit of the informed author. I embrace that change, and seek to help authors understand the full range of their choices and how to select among them strategically and successfully.
Continuing on that thought, from an interview with Ms. Eberhardt conducted by Naomi  Rosenblatt from Heliotrope Books. The interview appeared on the Blk Neon website.
"I live in San Francisco,” April Eberhardt explained in her indie publishing seminar. “I overlook the bay, and watch big tankers struggle to change course—unlike the agile sailboats that navigate easily. But of course tankers have the advantage of more power than sailboats. This has become my metaphor for the respective strengths of big publishing conglomerates and smaller indie presses.”
Next, a description of Ms. Eberhardt from the Art Of Writing/ A Writer's Retreat in Tuscanny Workshop...
April advises and assists authors worldwide as they choose the best pathway to publication for their work be it indie or traditional, digital or print. She serves as an industry advocate for establishing quality standards for non-traditionally published work to increase the acceptance and success of independent publishing. April works frequently with authors to critique and hone their manuscripts prior to submission or publication. She describes her approach as “kind but clear” with an eye toward commercial success. “There’s the sheer enjoyment of the writing from the author’s viewpoint,” she says, “and then there’s the expectation readers have for a sharp, compelling story. My objective is to help authors achieve both. I focus on identifying and underscoring the strengths that each author has, while at the same time finding ways to keep the story lean and taut with strong reader appeal.” Above all, she says, she wants to “encourage each author’s momentum and sense of satisfaction with the process and result. We want you to keep writing!” Math! Needles in haystacks!  How does Ms. Eberhardt find a great book and how often does that happen? from Chris Jane, of 5 On, a regular feature found on the extremely helpful website of Jane Friedman. CHRIS JANE: ... Of the 10,000 submissions you receive every year, you’ve said, you find fifteen to twenty to be exceptional. Is “exceptional” a matter of substance, marketing potential, both, or something else? APRIL EBERHARDT: To me, “exceptional” means an utterly compelling story, one that’s original, beautifully written and tightly told, one that I can’t put down. I see five to ten of these a year. Marketing potential comes second. While I realize that the traditional market may be looking for something easier to sell (translated, that means similar to other recent successful work), when I find a wonderful manuscript, I’m prepared to champion it until it gets published (which increasingly is via indie means—either partnership publishing or self-publishing.) From the same interview: Why are publishing houses ignoring the same perfectly good writers you’re passionate about helping? It’s their bestseller/blockbuster orientation. The most common reason cited by editors turning down the manuscripts I submit is, “We can’t break it out big enough,” meaning sell thousands of copies in a period of a few weeks. There are now a million books published annually. It usually takes more than a single swift push to bring a good book to the attention of its readers. Big Pub can’t afford to do more than that for most. They put their money on a relatively few books that are similar to recent successes. Next, from the Hippocampus website, from an interview conducted by  Lori M. Myers, Senior Interviews Editor. Lori: I’ll never forget what you said during your presentation at Chautauqua. It went something like “Traditional publishers aren’t failing, but they’re flailing.”   April: Big publishers continue to believe they’re the arbiters of taste, and the most desirable gateway to being published. That’s all changing–the internet has opened a multitude of possibilities. Most importantly, readers and authors can connect directly without middlemen, and readers decide what’s worth reading and recommending. So should writers steer away from “Big Pub?” While some authors do desire traditional publication, its value proposition to authors is weakening. Until Big Pub figures out a way to give more to authors (which involves a complete overhaul of their financial and operational model,) other new, profitable and more satisfying ways of being published will continue to lure authors away from traditional publishing. Having options is good, but there seems to be so many! There’s partner publishing, assisted publishing and hybrid publishing, along with self-publishing.  As one attractive new option, partner publishing offers high-quality services from publishing professionals, along with curation and distribution, enabling authors to pay for selected services and receive a top-quality book. Next up: a 2014 interview between Ms. Eberhardt and Mary Rowen, author of LEAVING THE BEACH (a 2016 IPPY Award winner) and LIVING BY EAR. MR: In addition to traditional and self-publishing, there are so many other options available now. For example, there are many publishing companies that will edit, proofread, design, and publish a book for a writer for a fee. The books produced by these presses often look very professional, and many writers are drawn to them. But from what I’ve heard, they’re not all great. Are there any pay-to-publish presses that you’d recommend? Any that you’d advise writers to avoid? And what sorts of things should a writer look for in a pay-to-publish press? AE: Above all you want experience, transparency and references in a partner publisher. You also want curation and distribution. Companies like She Writes Press, White Cloud Press and Turning Stone Press are led and managed by people with long experience in traditional publishing. All are open about their approach, costs and clients. They are selective about which authors they publish, and have clear contracts granting all rights to the author, along with offering distribution, usually through Ingram. The legitimate ones will happily refer you to other authors who have published with them so you can learn more about their experiences. I’d suggest steering clear of subsidy presses like Author Solutions that accept any and all manuscripts, tend to produce inferior-quality books priced at non-competitive prices, don’t offer distribution, and sometimes pressure authors to buy more services than they need. Research, email exchanges and the links above answered all of my questions about Ms. Eberhardt except for three. She replied to my first two questions with her latest bio. It summarizes some of the points above. SB: Was there one moment when  you decided to enter into a business that was not yet clearly defined? Was it a well-researched plan or a leap of faith?
AE(from her bio):April Eberhardt is a literary change agent and author advocate passionate about helping authors be published in the most effective and satisfying way. After 25 years as a corporate strategist and consultant, Ms. Eberhardt joined the literary world, where she saw strategic opportunity to play a role in the changing world of publishing. Ms. Eberhardt advises and assists authors worldwide, as they choose the best pathway to publication for their work, be it indie or traditional, digital or print, and serves as a consultant to new publishing startups. Ms. Eberhardt divides her time between San Francisco, New York and Paris. She also is a reader for the Best American Short Stories series published annually by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 
AE (continuing via email): The above may in part answer your question as well—how and why did I get into agenting and publishing consulting? I entered the field with the intent to play a role in the evolving world of publishing. While I recognized that the direction and speed of change would be unpredictable, I was completely comfortable with that. It’s exciting to be part of an industry undergoing a major transition, especially publishing since its product—reading—is of such keen interest to many of us. Good consulting is about keeping an eye on the shifts and trends, asking thoughtful questions about a client’s (in this case, an author’s) goals, dreams, likes and dislikes, and aligning the two. There’s always a lot of experimentation that occurs, and it’s easier to discern the right next steps when you’re working as a team vs trying to navigate it alone.
SB: E-books can be said to symbolize the possibilities of self-publishing. What was your first
e-book experience?
AE: E-books are obviously an important format in publishing’s evolution, particularly since they allow for experimentation in a broad number of ways (content, marketing, etc.) and provide a relatively easy, inexpensive way to make quick adjustments. I don’t remember the first e-book I read. 
I would like to sincerely thank Ms. Eberhardt for taking the time to be a part of this informative experiment. I enjoyed it very much and hope many others will as well.
And, if you are in Boston in May, Ms. Eberhardt will participating in the Grub Street Writers Conference: THE CHANGING FACE OF PUBLISHING: WHAT ALL AUTHORS NEED TO KNOW In this illuminating workshop, Literary Change Agent and author advocate April Eberhardt examines the state of publishing today along with the implications and opportunities for authors. She presents five different paths to publication, including a candid discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of each approach from an author’s perspective. Discover what partnership publishing is, along with hybrid authorship, and collaborative (also known as cooperative) publishing. Learn how to choose the right path for you and your work, which sometimes involves different paths for different projects, and how to develop a publishing strategy and approach that meets your goals, dreams, timetable and budget. Ms. Eberhardt's home page: http://aprileberhardt.com/  

Flame Magnet

Only those who attempt the absurd will achieve the impossible.
M. C. Escher (supposedly), posted on The Dude's Facebook page  Thank you for having the courage to buy Flame Magnet. Ultimately, you will receive at least 12 stories, all for free. Flame Magnet is an experiment, a new way of using Amazon and recognition of the fact that an electronic book can be a flowing, shifting thing. Flame Magnet also acknowledges the power of algorithms, gaming strategies and word of mouth sharing/advertising. You have paid 99 cents for an empty shell. A year from now, your shell will be full of at least twelve stories and Amazon will be selling Flame Magnet for $5.99 or $12.99 or $34.99. I will, as soon as possible, email you a version of Flame Magnet that contains five stories. The stories are: Lipstick and Snow, Lorong 16, Deepavali at Gallicier and  Ronnie and the Burns. The other two stories will remain a mystery, but here a couple of hints: Motown and Bali. Lipstick and Snow was featured in the premiere issue of Staple magazine, Lorong 16 is a dystopian dark comedy set in the Geylang district of Singapore and Ronnie and the Burns is a documentary about Ronnie See, the leader of the first rock band in Singapore. Deepavali at Gallicier  first appeared in the bestselling book i ate tiong bahru. The story documents one day at a traditional Peranakan bakery in Singapore and is one that I have received the most comments upon.     Ultimately, there will be at least a dozen short stories in Flame Magnet. The stories will be about James Brown, Singapore National Day in Plain Vanilla, 3how, Verrie Larch, Deepavali at Gallicier Peranakan Pastry Shop, Mom's Farm in Bali, a little bar in Tokyo on a wintry morning, Singapore's First Rock Band, Secrets of You Tiaow  and much more. In short, your 99 cents is an entry into a literary project that will grow with time. Your "investment" will increase, as every time I add a new story to the Flame Magnet ebook file, you will receive it, at no extra charge Let me repeat this  another way. You have bought a subscription. As soon as I have your email, I will send you the latest version of Flame Magnet. You will get 3 or 4 files in the next six months. The last file sent to you will have at least twelve stories. Again, there is no extra charge, even though the completed ebook version of Flame Magnet will sell for almost twelve dollars! Thanks for being so bold and open-minded. Welcome to the Flame Magnet adventure!     (Oh yes... I should say that I am extremely excited about the stories in Flame Magnet. They are very different from my Bali Wave Ghost novel and i ate tiong bahru, which became a national bestseller in Singapore. Oh yes again...as I write this, there are about 20 days left in my crowdfunding campaign. I have already exceeded my goal, but there are still a number of rewards left.  

The first one star review for `i ate tiong bahru`… and why I appreciate it

i ate tiong bahru book review "It was difficult to read.It didn't flow. Too many assumptions made. Did not enjoy this. " the reviewer on Amazon wrote. This saddened me: someone purchased my book and did not enjoy or benefit from the reading experience. The reason given, that I did not provide enough exposition or background information, taught me a lesson. Exposition, I tend to think, is like fat in cooking; too much overpowers and clogs the reading experience, too little and the reader finishes the book wanting more: unsatisfied. The person who wrote the one star review thought I was thin on details. I understand and accept that opinion. The subject matter of i ate tiong bahru includes Singapore's colonial history, the Japanese Occupation, life during pre-and post Independence, food, Art Deco architecture and and vignettes of life in Tiong Bahru, both contemporary and historical. I tried to explain local words and customs  with context and footnotes*. However, having said that, I often very consciously want to create a situation where the reader does not know the meaning of a word or has become "lost " as a result of cognitive dissonance. A narrative artist can use words to create a trail of breadcrumbs that satisfy but lead to a place that may-- or may not be, familiar, dark or joyful. For example, there is a difference between writing about a confrontational situation  and using words as elements in a confrontational situation created by the author. A reading  experience, that is what I work towards creating... (In this video I attempt to explain this.) I will make it a point to familiarize myself with more science fiction, where imaginative, non-existent gadgets, customs and environments must become crystal clear in the reader`s mind.The lessons learned can be applied towards the follow up to iatb, tiong bahru mouth. Bottom line: Most of the reviews of i ate tiong bahru have been very supportive but, as the book continues to attract readers outside of the Southeast Asia area, I should not be surprised by more one star reviews such as the one posted. And, as I rewrite tiong bahru mouth, I am carefully considering when to challenge readers intentionally, if at all. sb i ate tiong bahru and other reviews are here. *Having converted iatb into an audiobook, I now avoid footnotes; they do not  easily flow in the audiobook format.

An Open Letter to Facebook Groups with an interest in Tiong Bahru (part 2)

As mentioned in Part 1, the Tiong Bahru Mouth edition of photographs is now being prepared. Some images from the series are here. A description of the print ordering process is here, including links to the outstanding printer (Samuel Chia) and the museum-quality framer, Framehub.
sb-samuel-and-jonathon-at-isetan

SB (wearing VR viewer, the printer Samuel Chia and John Cheng, from Cheng Sugar, a Singaporean company that is over seventy years old!

This weekend (September 24 and 25), and next, I'll be at the Isetan at Wisma Atria, Level 1. I will be casually holding a seminar on the story behind the images, as well as the ordering process. This is a bit of an experiment and, from what I learn, I may develop a kind of "pop up" gallery in the future. new topic: AUDIOBOOK  Mirai Booth-Ong, a Los Angeles- based Singaporean actress/singer is now finalizing the iatb audiobook... new topic: CROWDFUNDING VIDEO "outtake" new topic: FREE  iatb EBOOK... just send me an email and I will send you the file. However, if you want to buy from Amazon... Also, I have a special offer of $18 for all 8 of my ebooks. Drop me an email if you are interested. new topic: T-SHIRTS...and soon iatb baby wear! 21528_925038137582297_1761505173788481572_n Thank you for reading this far, as well as your interest and support! See you in Tiong Bahru! Sincerely, Stephen Black The following interview starts with questions about Bali Wave Ghost, my most recent novel, but also covers a bit of the story behind i ate tiong bahru.

i ate tiong bahru book reviews + glasses + t-shirts

Reviews are now being collected and updated, but for now, there is only this link . i ate tiong bahru has sold almost 2000 copies, qualifying it as a national bestseller in Singapore. A second edition is now being planned. The follow up book is tiong bahru mouth. Printed copies of i ate tiong bahru are in all Singapore public libraries, as well as at Naiise, Booktique, Books Actually, Plain Vanilla, City Book Room, Kinokunya and excluniqueeee. Ebooks are available on Amazon.iatb-book-on-white-paper iatb-glass iatb-tshirt-and-porridge-vertical

Exciting New Cemetery @Isetan Wisma Atria

stephen black exciting new cemetery; involvement with tiong bahru mouth, 3how, photography, Obama Search Words,video,Lorong 16,self-publishing, Fires, Singapore art from 1965-2017, Singapore Personal Art Metadata,SPOKEN,Furikake,limited editions,Contact With Shadow, the art of conversation,Flame Magnet, thumb-shaped kways, Big Homer,Beach Road, Bali Wave Ghost and i ate tiong bahru @ isetan wisma atria from September 6-October 3 The Stephen Black is present everyday except Monday. This will be finalized very soon, but will involve talks,books by Stephen Black, exhibited artworks, digital artworks,artworks for sale, free screenings of the Beach Road 360VR movie, hands on interaction with SPOKEN, the virtual gallery co-created with Eugene Soh and much, much more.... exciting new cemetery jpeg

Interactive Fiction: It’s All Data

It's all data is a phrase that I've thought about for quite a while. With every fresh sunrise in the digital era, the walls between categories have been melting, becoming pools that are constantly expanding. What were once rigid divisions between categories have become places of possibilities, where different types of data can interact. There are hundreds, if not thousands of examples, but Smab is a great one. I enjoy SMAB's tagline: Are you ready to listen with your eyes? Interactive Fiction! From a reddit post:
Because of its status as outsider art, most of the authors are independent freelancers who are in it more for art than any glory. If you're interested in working with people from the IF community, there is a forum at intfiction.org where you can discuss theory or find collaborators. Also, most of the very top programmers frequent euphoria.io/room/if, including people like Emily Short, who has been the top author and the face of IF for 2 decades.
I am now excited about starting my first piece of interactive fiction. It seems that I can use my experiences as a writer, an artist, a gamemaker and a music producer.At the moment, the themes are self-discovery and the facts surrounding an undiscovered 1921 painting by Picasso. This is the first of a series of posts about the possibilities and challenges of music in the An Authentic Picasso project.