Preventing E-Book Piracy

I’ve noticed, through the metrics that I get through Google, that some people are coming to my site to find out about ebook piracy, since I wrote about it here. I do tend to waffle on a bit about piracy in general, so grab your parrot and peg leg, kids! Let’s talk about how you can prevent those nasty pirates from uploading your treasured works to the torrent site du jour.

Morally Complicated Y.A.

Behold, my friends, the latest storm of idiocy striking the heart of the traditional publishing industry. I present to you Exhibit A, the announcement of a new YA novel called The Cruelty bought for six figures and sold in umpteen territories and a movie deal and… yeah. Good times indeed. This book was self-published first, so this should be a feel-good success story, right?

Normally this would pass without comment, and I’d be happy for the author. But this, this is more than just a book announcement. The interview with the author on Publishers Weekly is the stuff of drama llama hell.

Rebinding Shakespeare

My friend Alejandra gave me a new project to work on last week. I had the challenge of rebinding a copy of Much Ado About Nothing that was published in 1901! This frail little book had the covers falling off and half the signatures falling out, and it was in serious need of TLC.

The Marbling Experiment

I wish I had more photos to show, but honestly, it was so messy I didn’t dare pick up my phone! I tried marbling some paper over the weekend, and I picked two different ways: using shaving cream, and using cornstarch.

I treated some paper with alum before starting on the actual marbling.

My first handbound book

My first handbound book

I’ve created a number of notepads and sketch books with blank pages, and I’ve re-bound a few second-hand books, but this is my first proper book – one that I typeset myself, printed myself, and bound myself.

I think the end result is pretty good! The paper on the cover was easily the most expensive part of it, at $10 for a single sheet. I think this was definitely a very successful binding attempt, and it produced a good-looking and very sturdy book.

Would you like to choose what I write?

Okay! There’s a few things to talk about, so let’s get stuck in.

I completed a book, and sent it out for beta-reading. The question now is what do I do once I get feedback.

See, I’ve been staring at this book for hours over the last few weeks. True to the creative process of writers everywhere, I now hate it with the passion of a thousand fiery suns. I’ve closed the file and I’m not going to look at it until people come back to me with feedback.

Has my Book been Pirated?

Piracy is still a big issue for ebooks, in spite of the fact that DRM has been optional for a while now on Amazon (the only platform that counts*). I’m still of the opinion that it’s basically irrelevant – you can’t control it, can’t prevent it, and worrying about it is a waste of your time and money.

That said, though, how do you know that your book has been pirated at all? It occurred to me that, although I could find out in a heartbeat whether my book has been pirated and from what source, it takes a level of technical knowledge that not everyone has access to. So, without further ado, here’s a primer on figuring out whether people are getting your book for free, and what you can do about it.

Who You Write For

Who You Write For

I watched a video on Youtube today from the PBS Game/Show channel about crowdfunding, and the obligations of creators to the consumers of what they create.

Crowdfunding causes users to be invested in the successful creation of media. The rise of Patreon.com and other crowdfunding venues changes everything, in that it reverses the normal order of how media is made, from: {creator makes media -> consumer pays for media} to {consumer pays for media -> creator makes media}. Being invested ahead of time, before the media is made, inserts the consumers into the act of creation.

Lying Down with Dogs

It is now 8am in Vancouver, and I think I’ve rewritten chunks of this post at least three times.

Who’s been keeping up with the shenanigans going on in the Hugos? The five second summary is as follows: a couple of straight white dudes took umbrage at the fact that, recently, Hugo awards were being won by stories/books/etc that were not all about straight white dudes, and they took this to mean that Hugos were being handed out based on ideology and diversity rather than merit. So, these white dudes pushed a new slate of stories to be nominated that they felt were more worthy.

These white dudes included a guy who called a respected author a ‘half-savage’, because this author is a woman of color.

Long story short, most of the Hugo nominations this year in various categories are from these slates, either the Sad Puppies list or the Rabid Puppies list. Understandably, everyone else who’s interested in the Hugos is rather upset about the fact that the awards are being gamed by people with an agenda. (The irony inherent in the whole situation is so thick you could cut it with a broadsword.)

More about Pay to Play Publishers

More about Pay to Play Publishers

A while back, I wrote about Tate Publishing, a subsidy publisher  that had been in the news as a result of some… rather callous business practices. I think it’s a good time to revisit publishers like these in light of a recent comment on that post.

(For the uninformed – a subsidy publisher is basically ‘pay to play’. You pay them some amount of money, usually in the thousands of dollars, and they will do the production work to publish your book, meaning they will typeset the print version, format the ebook, create the cover, and put it up on various sites like Amazon etc. This may sound like a good deal, but it’s not.)

Exotic Ebook Formatting

You may have noticed that I finally got my act together and cleaned up the website. My friend Fay was nice enough to lend me one of her themes! I did some edits on it, and I think it came out okay. Being a web designer, my site is always a work in progress.

Anyway – today I’d like to talk about something vaguely related to this – exotic ebook formatting. You can do so much with an ebook! It’s not just limited to chapters, table of contents, that kind of thing. There’s a whole world of things you can add – though it’s really not for the faint-hearted, because this stuff is very temperamental.

Your ebooks can track you

As you may know, I’m sometimes a web developer as well as being a writer/swordfighter. Being a dev means knowing all kinds of random stuff about what makes the Internet tick, and incidentally, it also lets me understand a few things about ebooks.

Ebooks can track the stuff you do when you read them.

No, really!

Okay, so there’s this format called ePub, right? Most of the big retailers either use this format or a variant of it, with the exception of Amazon (the Kindle format is based on Mobipocket). ePub is a free, open standard that uses XHTML and a subset of the most common CSS rules that web developers and designers know inside out.

An Author’s Life, or Why I will Never Do a Kickstarter

So… let’s talk about the business of writing.

It’s definitely a business, unless you’re writing and posting your stuff for free online. (Or just using it as parrot cage lining.) Being a professional writer is a tough gig. It’s hard to convince readers that your work is worth a couple of bucks, but we have to eat somehow. Writing isn’t powered by moon dust and unicorn farts.

So you’ll excuse me if I find it profoundly offensive that anyone thinks that a professional writer should work for free.