Active Authors Alliance

Right around the time I quit my job at Target Headquarters, I also stopped using my Fitbit. That was in February 2014. For the next year and a half I wasn’t as active and gained some weight. Unlike working in downtown Minneapolis, where I could walk in the miles of skyway any time of year, I was sitting more and walking less. It got to the point where I had to make a change. So, about a month ago, I picked up a Fitbit Charge HR and changed my attitude.

Now that I am back to tracking my activity again, I figured I might as well start a group for like-minded authors who are trying to break out of the couch potato prison. If you are an author and you are using a Fitbit, feel free to join me at the Active Authors Alliance.

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Fantasy Sale

All three of the books in my Legend of the Crystals fantasy series are on sale for 99 cents today! Get them while you can.

Crystal Warrior

Crystal Origin

Crystal Legacy

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Prim8 EP


Here are a few songs from my band Prim8. It’s a bit rock, a bit punk, and a bit other.

The songs included are:

  • Trees
  • A Billion Miles Away
  • Downtown
  • You Know It
  • Invisible

It’s a one man band, so if you hate it, blame me. 😉

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Code of Ethics

Recently a number of high-profile authors have demonstrated lapses of judgement and engaged in unethical behavior. Although I know this is nothing new in publishing, I thought it would be a good time to list my own ethical principles when it comes to writing and publishing.

Author Code Of Ethics

  • I will not pay for reviews of my books
  • I will not publish unedited books
  • I will not plagiarize the work of other authors
  • I will not steal images to use for cover art
  • I will not post negative reviews on another author’s books as retribution
  • I will not review any books I haven’t read
  • I will not climb to the top on the bodies of others
  • I will not insult or abuse reviewers no matter what they say about my work
  • I will price my work affordably so readers get a good value
  • I will write the best books I can and work hard at my craft
  • I will reward and interact with my readers whenever possible
  • I will support and help other writers whenever possible
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Mythology and Causation

Note: The opinions herein are my own and are not intended to support or deny anyone else’s opinion no matter how idiotic.

Myth: Getting 50 “likes” is magical and Jesus will hold your book up, live, on the Jesus Show, and then rainbow unicorns will have a parade in your honor.

Reality: No one gives a flying frack about likes, unless you have zero. And, frankly, if you can’t even be bothered to “like” your own book, why should anyone else?

Myth: 10 books is the magical number. Once you have 10 books out, some code monkey deep underground in an Amazon bunker wakes up and tweaks the algorithm so it notices you. Then the heavens part and sales magically ring up like beer sales in Ireland.

Reality: The more books you have out, the more chances you have to interest readers and sell one. Readers that like one book will tend to look for more. Also, there is no underground bunker… it’s an invisible satellite at L5.

Myth: A one star review will absolutely kill your sales dead.

Reality: If you only have one star reviews then your sales will most likely suck. But if you have more threes, fours, and fives than ones, a one star should not have a major impact on your sales. MANY readers pay no attention to reviews (this is the point where many writers start yelling NUH UH! in my ear). Many readers click “buy” based solely on the cover, blurb, or because of a recommendation from a friend. Many readers are smart enough to throw out a few fives and ones when they consider reviews.

Myth: Something that happened today had an immediate downward effect on my sales. I just know it!

Reality: Some days are better than others for sales. Some weeks are. Some months are. Often sales numbers stop updating, which skews the very numbers you are looking at to make your wild-ass-jump-to-conclusion. When you see sales slump on a title, look at other possibilities before you decide what the cause MUST BE. It could be reporting lag; other writers might be seeing the same slump on unrelated titles; it could be that the two weeks before school starts are a dead zone. In short, there are many variables at work when it comes to book sales.

Myth: It’s all a big conspiracy to keep my unimaginably beautiful and literary prose from being adored and enjoyed by the entire World!

Reality: Okay. That one’s true.

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Stop Freaking Out

I’ve been involved in self-publishing for a few years now, and one of the things I see a lot in this business is what I like to call FREAKING OUT. Whether it’s about sales, lack of sales, reviews, lack of reviews, low reviews, or a random affront, it seems like writers are always freaking out about something.

That’s cool. I understand freaking out, being stressed, and reacting to it. It happens.

But what I don’t understand is the wild jumps to conclusions and the idea that everything is a personal attack bent on destroying you.

By and large large companies like Amazon are not out to get you. They are out to make money. They aren’t going to go out of their way to personally hurt OR help you. They want your books to sell so they can make money. That’s it. They aren’t a sinister, evil empire trying to hold you down. They aren’t cheating you at every turn. They are trying to sell as many books as they can with as little muss and fuss as possible.

Writers seem to think that maintaining copies of millions of books, web pages for them, and stats is a piece of cake, and that recalculating reports should just take a minute or so. That is not how it works. The amount of data processing required is immense.

Writers seem to think that selling eBooks anywhere in the world should cost the same because the internet is everywhere. That is also not how it works. Different countries have different taxes, fees, and laws. And those differences affect the bottom line.

Big companies processing millions of items every day have glitches, delays, and crashes. That’s just part of doing business. If a report is delayed or something isn’t right, that doesn’t automatically mean THEY ARE OUT TO GET YOU! It is much more likely that there was a system problem and they are working to get it sorted out. Contact them and work to get it resolved. Freaking out and playing the conspiracy card is not going to help you.

Writers seem to think that sales should immediately show up in reports. How hard can it be? they ask. Well, I’m a computer guy, and I know how hard it can be to update reports for millions of items multiple times a day. Report systems are always going to take second place behind sales systems. It’s far more important to be able to sell things than it is to be able to provide realtime stats on sales to authors. In traditional publishing authors would have to wait MONTHS for sales numbers. Not days. Not hours. Months.

So, before you go ballistic about something that absolutely, positively occurred just to spite you, think about the more logical conclusion: something probably went wrong, a job crashed, a report didn’t run, a server rebooted,…. Contact the company and ask politely. Find out what really happened. Don’t just break out your air horn and make a fool of yourself.

And remember that you are living in luxury. You can publish a book and have it go live in a few hours. It used to take years. You can see sales reports daily. It used to take months. You can upload fixes daily. It used to take months and cost a lot of money.

Don’t look a gift horse in the ass. And don’t be one.

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Originality And Risk

Traditional Publishing is risk averse. There, I said it. Now allow me to explain. When an editor accepts a manuscript, he is counting on a certain number of copies selling to offset production costs. It’s not cheap to turn a manuscript into a printed book, and it’s not cheap to make it look good. There are a lot of steps and a lot of people to pay to get the job done.


Because of this, a lot of decisions are made to minimize risk. This means a number of things. First off, the editor needs to choose books that will still be popular next year—because that’s when books he is choosing now will come out. Secondly, the editor will tend to pick books that are less risky—which means more of the same year after year—because he knows he needs to sell thousands of copies to break even. Third, the editor will prioritize popular writers that he already has under contract since they have a loyal fan base. Fourth, the editor will encourage certain genres and multi-book series because those are less risky.


Certain types of books will not fit this criteria regardless of the quality of the book. The editor is not going to accept a Post-apocalyptic Culinary Mystery. He’s not going to accept a short-story collection from an unknown writer. He’s not going to accept novels that span too many genres. What he will accept is a set number of books in each genre he publishes, each year. Period. If something truly exceptional shows up he might, just might, make an exception. He has a lot of money riding on each book.


Fast-forward to today. With the self-publishing model, the risk is low. A book that doesn’t sell never has to be printed. A book that doesn’t sell costs only pennies to store on a hard drive for a very long time. Because of this, books that would never have seen the light of day—due to the traditional publishing business model—can now be made available and sold online. This is a terrific thing for writers everywhere.


Which brings me to my main point: originality. Years ago I realized that my favorite kind of music had changed. It didn’t change from hard rock to soft rock, or jazz to classical. It changed from “heard that before” to “original.” I can barely listen to rock radio stations anymore because it’s all the same, over and over. And I feel the same way about books. Traditional publishers won’t take risks, so everything they print is safe. I hate that. And I’m not going to read the same formula crap with a different name on the cover over and over.


It is my belief that the best way to be successful in the new paradigm is to be yourself. There is no arbitrary limit on the number of fantasy or science fiction or mystery books that can be self-published each year. The virtual shelf-space is essentially infinite. There is no editor, with bills hanging over his head, who just read a hundred piles of crap before he got to your manuscript. This allows you a great deal of freedom. Use it.


Now I’m not saying don’t have your book edited. And I’m not saying any old cover art will do. And I’m not saying go nuts and write in Sanskrit. You have to be professional and take great pride in your work. It’s all on you now. Which is scary. And great. There are great people and resources available to help you. Use them.


I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: what you are really selling isn’t stories. You are selling you. Your voice. Your style. Your innermost thoughts and emotions. Your sense of humor, and honor. No one else writes like you. No one. And readers pick up on that. The story is important. Yes. But the way you tell it is what makes them come back for more. Be true to yourself. Be true to the story. Everything else will follow.
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