Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Hugh C. Howey Author Report; Death to Gays; Pussy Riot Arrest

I like to post about everything on this blog from the most serious human rights issues to the most ridiculous pop culture happenings involving Justin Bieber and his little monkey. I think the information to which I'm linking about Hugh C. Howey's Author Report falls somewhere in between. Hugh C. Howey, an aggressive self-published author who some refer to as an advocate for all self-published authors, and some even claim as their hero, launched a web site called Author Report that discusses "data" about author earnings in these changing times in publishing. He makes many claims in the report, with an unnamed source, but also states up front that the information is not conclusive. Ever since the web site launched, it seems everyone has an opinion either for or against the information posted. There's already been so much written I'm mainly going to link at this point. I think it's good information for some of my readers, and it would be counter-productive to bore the rest of my readers to death with too much commentary about "data."

First, here's a link to Author Report. If you're interested in self-publishing I think you should read it in full. And as I stated above, Hugh C. Howey makes no claims that this is conclusive or perfect.

We expect many to disagree with our analysis. We expect flaws will be found in our reasoning and our sampling methodologies. Discovering those flaws will lead to better data, and we look forward to that process.

Romance author, Courtney Milan, offers an eloquent blog post on the topic, here. Milan is both trad published and has indie pubbed her books to great success. In fact, I think she was one of the first to enter the .99 e-book forum in romance. Milan is also an attorney.

I believe it’s incorrect to say that the authors are using a days’ worth of sales. As best I can tell from the methodology, they used a single snapshot of sales rank–so that would be ranks for one hour on Amazon, not one day.

Now, here's a more positive post about Author Report, but keep in mind there's really nothing substantial either. It's basically an opinion piece supporting Hugh C. Howey.

Publishers in the future will still have a lot to offer, but the conditions have already changed. The power has shifted to authors and readers. The “self-publishing stigma” is going away, thanks to people like Howey and thousands of others like him who are working hard at their craft to produce good work and form real connections with their audience.

Here's a blog post that really challenges Howey and if it's accurate tends to make him look a little foolish. She seems to know what she's talking about and gives solid examples.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about: self-publishing evangelist Hugh Howey and a silent partner went and scraped a bunch of Amazon data.  That’s fine.  That could be cool, even.  But then they made a bunch of pretty charts and used it to bang their pro-self-publishing / anti-trade publishing drum, and wrote a whole lot of paragraphs next to the pretty charts as if they were Conclusions, when, in fact, those paragraphs were not in any way implied by the data collected.

And this blogger makes an interesting point about self-publishing in general that I've always agreed with.

Perhaps the greatest lesson to take away from all this is one that does not rely on the specific nuances of the numbers Howey crunched. It’s a more general realization, summed up by blogger J.W. Manus (found via the Passive Voice): no matter what the percentages are, it’s abundantly clear there are plenty of people making a go of self-publishing now, in ways that simply were not possible before e-books and especially the Kindle.

If you just do a simple search you'll find even more opinions and comments all over the web on this topic. And I think that's because self-publishing in general is still something many authors find amazing and confusing. I've posted many times why I wanted to self-publish, and about how difficult a decision that was for me to make.

The only comment I would like to add here is that I am in touch with many authors behind the scenes and we take all these things very seriously even though we don't post about them all the time in public. Last summer a self-published author posted that she'd checked her data and she had over 100,000 book sales. I think this was meant as a promotional update on Facebook to impress readers/fans. Several of us found that status update interesting and we did a small study on our own and we all drew the same conclusions. It made no sense. And she was either lying or getting some very bad information. Either way, it wasn't accurate and her book sales were as far off as her promotional skills. In other words, some might have believed her but we're all not that innocent.

There are also other factors to consider. As I said, I know a lot of self-pubbed authors and authors who work with publishers. We talk behind the scenes casually and discuss things like Amazon ranks and sales. Many of us wonder how some of these authors can garner so many excellent average ratings and reviews when no one's even heard of them. We just can't seem to figure this out. I honestly don't know why this is, but I do know there are many excellent self-published books out there right now that aren't making money and are not getting the ratings or reviews. These are some of the best authors around, but they fall short with promotional skills. And marketing and promotion still rule.

I agree with some of the statements in Howey's report, others I question just like everyone else. And I question them from my own experience, not hearsay. But one thing is for certain about this report, it's the best damn self-promotional piece I have seen in years. Think about it. It's not conclusive, which Howey admits openly. He's safe. You can't fault the guy for that. If it's this inconclusive why are we even reading and discussing it? Because it's amusing and entertaining. But aside from that, this little gem has garnered him more attention than if he were to save a basket of kittens left in the middle of Times Square. And I think that's the most *important* lesson all authors can learn from this report.

Learn how to market and promote yourself. As long as you admit it, you don't even have to be accurate. You just have to come off looking good.

Death to Gays

In a far more serious post compared to the one above this about Hugh C. Howey, in Malawi Muslims are now calling for death for gays. The country is in the process of decriminalizing homosexuality and The Muslim Association is not only fighting this but wants the death penalty enforced.

Malawi’s Government said in November of 2012 that it would not enforce its law criminalizing gay sex with up to 14 years in jail so that debate could occur but it appears the country’s Muslim minority is now pushing back against efforts to strike the offense from the criminal code.

 ‘Malawi is regarded as a secular state but the country is blessed with God fearing citizens who can’t afford to deviate from God’s commandments for the sake of pleasing others who practice the act,’ MAM Secretary General Dr Salmin Omar Idrussi told MalawiMuslims.com.

You can read more here.

There are far worse things happening now than author sales and ranks. It's important to write about them because the mainstream isn't doing their job. Which is why I've always considered myself a writer, not an author.

Pussy Riot Arrest

There's a protest group called Pussy in Russia who were recently freed after doing two years time. They were recently detained in Sochi for questionable reasons.

‘We have been arrested ... and are accused of robbery,’ Tolokonnikova wrote on her Twitter account.

Both women said police used force and threw them in a police van.

You can read more here.

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