Monday, 22 September 2014

Underrated Treasures Blogfest



I was making my way through the blog feeds on my reading list earlier today, when I spotted the ongoing Underrated Treasures Blogfest. Hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the blogfest serves as an opportunity to highlight any book, movie, TV series or musician/band you feel hasn't gotten nearly enough recognition. So without further ado, I present one of my favorite, underrated movies.

Mimic


I have chosen to highlight Guillermo Del Toro's 1997 sci-fi/horror film, Mimic. Why? Well, for starters, the movie was met with mixed reviews from critics at the time of its release. Not only that, but it also failed to recoup its $30 million budget during its box office run. But most importantly, it was here that I was first introduced to Del Toro's dark visual style.

The premise of the movie itself was fairly ludicrous. In a not-too-distant (not to mention roach-infested) future, humanity's children are being plagued by a deadly disease. To counter this threat, a group of scientists genetically engineer a new specie of insects called the Judas Breed, which are meant to curb the spread of the disease by feeding on its hosts.

But like most B-grade horror movies, things don't exactly go according to plan. In this case, the Judas Breed live up to their name when they eventually turn on their creators, after evolving into something far more sinister, with an uncanny ability to "mimic" their latest prey, us.

Don't let any of that deter you though. Mimic was packed with some pretty impressive 90s-era special effects, not to mention enough edge-of-your-seat suspense to make the trip seem worthwhile. Plus this is Guillermo Del Toro we're talking about here, a director best known for his ability to make the bizarre and otherworldly look beautiful. So you owe it to yourself to see this movie, if you haven't already.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

IWSG: Three-year Anniversary



It's the first Wednesday of the month, and time for members of the Insecure Writer's Support Group to share their writerly insecurities. The group was started by Alex J. Cavanaugh, and those interested in joining in can visit www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com for more information.

And as fate would have it, today just happens to be the group's three-year anniversary. Hard to believe its been that long already. I've only been posting as part of the group for two of those three years, but even that feels just like yesterday. How time flies, huh?

Anyways, to commemorate three years of providing support to one another, all members of the IWSG are being asked to contribute writing, publishing or marketing advice to a writer's guidebook. The book is to be published by the end of the year, and made freely available on online retailers like Amazon.

I have never contributed or taken part in any crowd-sourced projects like this before, which is probably why I am a little bit on the fence at the moment. Plus I've never really considered myself a fountain of knowledge when it comes to writing or marketing. But those that wish to contribute can do so by posting their contribution during next month's round of IWSG posts.

Have you decided to contribute? If so, have you decided exactly what you'd be contributing?

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

IWSG: Expanding My Reach



It's the first Wednesday of the month, and time for members of the Insecure Writer's Support Group to share their writerly insecurities. The group was started by Alex J. Cavanaugh, and those interested in joining in can visit www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com for more information.

This month, my post does not center upon an insecurity per say, or writing for that matter, but rather on something closer to the business side of self-publishing. Okay, so I've been talking about expanding my reach for quite some time now. And by expanding my reach, I'm referring to making my books available on other channels and retail outlets outside of Amazon (who owns more than half of the ebook market by the way).

Unlike Amazon, many of the prominent online retailers out there do not accept direct ebook submissions from self-published writers. And those that do usually have restrictions that prevent international writers from submitting, which is where a company like Smashwords comes into play; they help distribute ebooks to several sales channels like Barnes & Noble, and are in fact the only point of entry, for self-publishers, into the stores of newer subscription-based services like Scribd and Oyster.

So I'm sure you're wondering why I didn't take the Smashwords route to those channels sooner. That, my friend, was due to another bump I encountered along this long and winding road called self-publishing. Smashwords requires a PayPal account in order for you to receive payments from them. But as fate would have it, Nigeria was one of perhaps three countries excluded from using PayPal.

Thankfully, that restriction was lifted recently when PayPal decided to deem us worthy of inclusion. Ah, yes, happy times. The result? My books are now available on B&N, iTunes and others. All that is left now is for me to sort out my tax information, pending which a sizable percentage of my combined earnings would be retained by Smashwords. Hopefully the process won't turn out to be as time-consuming as I already fear it might be.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Kindle Unlimited



On Friday, Amazon launched a new subscription-based service for ebooks called Kindle Unlimited. Subscribers to the program can read as many books as they can from a pool of over 600,000 titles, for just $9.99 a month. This sounds like a pretty sweet deal for readers, especially those that tend to make their way through several books in any given month.

So how exactly do self-published authors get their books into this program, and how do those authors get compensated? Well, to understand how, we first need to understand how KDP Select works, since that is the only way to get your books into the program.

KDP Select was introduced in December 2011, and it gave self-published authors the ability to set their books free for a total of 5 days within a three-month exclusivity period, during which said books could not be listed for sale outside Amazon. At the time, it was considered a powerful promotional tool, granting those books that took advantage of it some much needed visibility.

In addition to these free promotions, those books that were a part of the program were also included in the Kindle Owners Lending Library, which allowed Amazon Prime members to borrow one book a month, completely free of charge. Authors were compensated for each borrow by earning a share of a global fund that was to be raised by Amazon on a monthly basis. Over the years, this has averaged about $2 a borrow.

Compensation for books borrowed under Kindle Unlimited would be calculated using the same system, with one important difference: the reader would need to read at least 10% of the book before the author earns his or her share of the fund. This is a requirement that is similar to that put in place by other ebook subscription-based services like Scribd and Oyster.

All that said, the big question is this: is the introduction of Kindle Unlimited enough reason to embrace KDP Select? Sadly, there is no definite answer to that question. It is something that must be assessed on a book-by-book basis. The good news though, for those already enrolled in KDP Select at least, is that your books have automatically been included in that pool of 600,000 titles.

I have a total of five books presently enrolled in KDP Select, none of which had been doing particularly well before now, so it would be interesting to see how their inclusion in Kindle Unlimited would affect their visibility and ranking. It is still too early to tell for now, but I'll be keeping a close eye on them from now on.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

IWSG: Tough Times



It's the first Wednesday of the month, and time for members of the Insecure Writer's Support Group to share their writerly insecurities with fellow members and the world. The group was started by Alex J. Cavanaugh, one of the coolest bloggers on this side of the blogosphere. For those interested in joining the group, you can visit www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com for more information.

As much as I don't like putting up these "I haven't been writing because" posts, I'm afraid my insecurity for the new month comes down to that very fact. This past month has been one of the toughest I've faced in a long time. There is so much going on (and not going on) in my life right now that I feel I could spend an entire weeks-worth of posts just trying to explain it all.

But if I was to distill how I have been feeling into one word, it would be this one: exhausted. Things have been so hectic that the very thought of getting any significant writing done seems almost ridiculous. If ever there was a time I needed a break from all those things getting in the way, then now is the time.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

IWSG: Thanks!



It's the first Wednesday of the month, and time for members of the Insecure Writer's Support Group to share their writerly insecurities with fellow members and the world. The group was started by Alex J. Cavanaugh, one of the coolest bloggers on this side of the blogosphere. For those interested in joining the group, you can visit www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com for more information.

I almost completely forgot today was the first Wednesday of the month, which is why I am putting this post up several hours later than I normally would. Last month, I whined about wanting to make significant changes to a plot that already seemed set in stone. Since then, I have taken most of the advice I received to heart.

I am pleased to announce that the plot has started developing more naturally, now that I've loosened the reins a bit. So I'd like to use today's post to thank all those that helped nudge me in the right direction. I guess I knew what needed to be done, but I just needed to hear it from someone else. So thanks guys, for providing this writer with some much-needed support. Now, off I go to pay it forward.

Friday, 23 May 2014

NoiseTrade Books



First off, a big thank you goes out to my friend and fellow blogger, David Gaughran, who blogged about this the other day. If you are a self-published writer like myself, and don't already follow his blog, then you should seriously consider doing so. Like right now. Don't worry. I'll wait.

Back so soon? Good. On with the post then.

So what is this NoiseTrade Books I sound so excited about? Well, according to their FAQ section, it is a platform designed to help authors & publishers build their audiences by distributing free eBooks & audiobooks in exchange for reader data (email & postal code). It provides an intuitive way for writers to connect with readers outside of the more traditional channels like social media.

Here's how it works. As a writer, you sign up and upload any book you'd like to give away for free. This can be a full-length book, or some sample chapters from a full-length book. You can also specify a suggested tip amount, which the reader can elect to pay before downloading your book. As a reader, the only thing you are required to give in exchange for the free book is your email address and zip code, which is a fair trade if you ask me.

NoiseTrade has been around since 2008, but it only dealt with free music until early 2014, when the books portal was launched. At present, there are books on offer from several big name writers like Dean Koontz and Hugh Howey. And as of yesterday morning, my book, The Journey (Guardians, #1), was added to that growing number of free books. So don't hesitate to download. Heck. I'll even make it easy for you: