New author website!

Thanks to the wonderful tools provided by Squarespace and a wee bit of time on my part, I now have a new author website! (And, judging by this photo, a bunch of old-school tech devices lying around in my office…)

Website screenshot

As you’ll see, this site is all about my JB Dutton nom de plume, since I’ll be putting more focus over the next 12 months on other stories that feature the Embodied, as well as my dreadpunk series that will also be published under JB Dutton. I’m sending John B. Dutton out on a sabbatical and I hope he thoroughly enjoys it!

 

The future of ebooks or short-lived gimmick?

Phew! I’ve been travelling for work and still editing book 3 of the Embodied trilogy, so the blog has entered a late-winter semi-hibernation phase (and yes, it’s still winter in Montreal!).

Disclaimer out of the way, here’s an article about  Editions at Play, a joint ebook publishing venture between Google Creative Lab Sydney and the design-driven publishing house Visual Editions, which launched last week.

One of my novels, The New Sense, was slated to be made into a similar interactive book before my publisher disappointingly closed shop in 2012. I self-pubbed it in 2013 but I’m still curious to know what the book would have turned out like in an interactive format. What are your thoughts on this kind of ebook? Gimmick or a new medium that’s here to stay?

Underwriting can be deadly to any story

Great advice from Rachel Starr Thompson about the pitfalls of underwriting. No, that’s not the insurance industry kind of underwriting, it’s when an author tries too hard to show without telling and then skips the interesting stuff going on in the characters’ heads that actually makes any story compelling.

Nope, not this kind of underwriting.

Nope, not this kind of underwriting.

Photo credit: free pictures of money / Foter.com / CC BY

Data Guy shows his face on the radio…

Insights into the illusory decline in ebook sales, from NPR’s All Things Considered:

According to Author Earnings, the e-book market is thriving, but traditional publishers’ share of it has slipped to about one-third. And Data Guy believes the e-book market will continue to grow well into the future.

I wonder if the mysterious Data Guy is related to Mr. Robot?

Fraudulent five-star fakes finally forestalled!

I’m sure those aren’t the only F-words that pop into the minds of honest authors and publishers when they read about their less scrupulous competitors’ mendacious review-buying activities. Now Amazon is taking fake reviewers to court in the US. I’m no legal scholar, but I bet that not only is review-buying cheating, it’s also criminal fraud. Personally, I’d rather a fan illegally download my book than have another author boost their Amazon rating by purchasing fake reviews.

Here’s what real reviews look like, in this screenshot from Silent Symmetry’s Amazon.com page:

Symmetry reviews

Clearly this wasn’t the right book for the 1-star reviewer, and that’s the way it should be for any work, whether lowbrow or highbrow. But I’m proud to have taken the True Review Pledge and encourage other authors to do so.

Amazon isn’t altruistically taking a legal stand on behalf of honest authors, the company also has to protect its brand, and fake reviews make it harder for book lovers to judge before they buy, therefore tarnishing the trust they have in the platform.

Fiction authors lie for a living. But they don’t have to cheat.

Amazing news for Canadian readers!

Up until now I’ve used Amazon’s CreateSpace print on demand (POD) service for paperback editions of my books. It’s great for indie authors because there’s zero upfront cost, formats are very flexible, and the books are printed and shipped quickly. The final product is trade paperback quality and although ebooks have always been my primary focus, there are many readers who prefer the old-fashioned dead tree experience. Personally, I’m on the dead tree fence. Some books I read on my Kindle, others “in person”.

The only issue I ever had with CreateSpace was that the books were printed in the US or UK. That meant that Canadian readers had to pay international shipping rates, making my books very expensive for friends here in Canada. Well, NO LONGER! As of October 8, CreateSpace books are available directly on the amazon.ca store.

Here are the amazon.ca links for books 1 and 2 of the Embodied trilogy: Silent Symmetry and Starley’s Rust.

And here’s where my fellow Canadians can purchase a weighty paperback tome of my psychological mystery (set in Montreal), The New Sense.

It’ll be a rainy fall day in Montreal tomorrow – the perfect occasion to snuggle up with a good book. Happy reading!

Dreadpunk. It’s scary stuff.

I’ve started a new writing project that will definitely be my next published work. And (wouldn’t you know) it isn’t either of the two novels I had begun planning and researching! Oh no, dear friends, this one is far more chilling and belongs in the genre of…

Dreadpunk logo

Dreadpunk is a term coined by horror maven Derek Tatum, who runs a blog of the same name. On it, he defines dreadpunk as:

“current popular culture that draws upon the imagery of pre-through early 20th century horror literature. As a term, dreadpunk is used as shorthand for contemporary Gothic horror works set in an often stylized past. It’s a tongue-in-cheek term derived from the penny dreadfuls…”

Dreadpunk was discussed at last month’s DragonCon. According to attendee reporter Aja Romano of website The Daily Dot:

“…the word implies a subversive take on fog-drenched Victoriana, tales of the supernatural mixed with late 19th-century aesthetics, and the recent wave of Gothic horror…”

Fantasy author Cherie Priest sees dreadpunk as a vehicle for social commentary:

“When you say something is punk, punk is shorthand for transgression,” Priest said to Daily Dot. The prefix describes “the form of transgression. You challenge the dominant paradigm of what frightens you, and you challenge the dominant paradigm of who has power.”

The Daily Dot even went so far as to define the 3 Laws of Dreadpunk, although Tatum himself clearly views the term as something less serious.

  1. Dreadpunk is based in horror or dark fantasy, with a particular emphasis the word “dread”: horror by implication or unseen.

  2. Dreadpunk is set within or informed by pre- or early-20th century horror—definitely no later than Lovecraft, with Victorian London serving as the default touchstone for the Dreadpunk aesthetic.

  3. Dreadpunk is self-aware and subversive, while still emphasizing classic horror traditions.

Here’s what I like about dreadpunk: the idea of using horror to undermine and subvert authority. Especially self-proclaimed authority, of which there was much in the Victorian British Empire. This could mean authority derived from social class, wealth, race, religion, “civilization”, “nobility”, or wielding a big stick. The true horrors of Victorian times were fuelled by new forms of authority, be they the cruel capitalism of the industrial revolution or violent colonial expansion. I see dreadpunk as a conduit through which the ravens can come home to roost.

I’ll reveal more about my dreadpunk work in another post very soon. In the meantime, start thinking about your deepest, darkest fear. Not now, but as you close your eyes for the last time… tonight.

Dreadpunk logo created by Aristotle C. Pramagioulis.

Pronoun. Finally a truly author-centric publishing entity?

Last week saw the launch of Pronoun, with a promise to provide authors with book creation tools and distribution to all major ebook retail channels. For free. Sounds like Smashwords, right? Yes, except that not only is ebook creation free, Pronoun doesn’t even take a cut! Authors will earn all of the remaining revenue after retail discounts. Taking zero (as in $00.00) profit from an author’s ebook sales, Pronoun will instead generate revenue from its existing publishing and data tracking businesses.

pronoun_logo_512x160

“The publishing industry treats authors like cogs in its machine – not as the creative foundation upon which their long-standing businesses are built,” said Josh Brody, Chief Executive Officer, Pronoun. “With Pronoun, we put authors at the heart of every decision we make as we invest in the power of technology to transform this market. Digital platforms are paving the way for creators across every media industry. We believe books are next.”

At launch, Pronoun lets authors:

  • Create Beautiful Digital Books: Convert an edited manuscript to a professionally designed ebook that is compatible with every e-reader and mobile device. Manage cover art, layout, book descriptions, and keywords in a step-by-step interface.
  • Sell Everywhere: Instantly distribute to all major retail channels: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks, Google Play, and Kobo. Make unlimited, free updates to Metadata.
  • Market With Analytics: Access the largest proprietary dataset on the digital book market and see relevant, real-time data on books, categories, and market trends.
  • Receive customized suggestions on pricing, categories, keywords, and more – all based on hard data, not guesswork. Track sales, marketing activities, and milestones through a single platform.
  • Get Live Notifications: Opt in to get proactive alerts on daily sales, new book reviews, when books enter a bestseller list, or when an action can improve a book’s position on retailers’ sites.
  • Receive Consolidated Monthly Payments: Get convenient electronic payments for sales across all retailers in a single monthly deposit.
  • Free ISBN: Get a free ISBN for every book published on Pronoun.
  • Build a Publishing Team: Access Pronoun’s network of vetted professional service providers, including editors, cover designers, copy editors, and publicists.

“We’re clearing away more than a hundred years of dust that has settled on the publishing industry and its business model. Over the past few years, our team built a platform that respects everything we love about books, but embraces the new reality of how people discover, purchase, and read them,” said Ben Zhuk, Chief Product Officer, Pronoun. “With Pronoun, authors get the control and support they need so they can spend more time doing what they love – writing.”

Too good to be true? I think not.