Ebooks

Write The Fight Right ebook available now

By
4
April 7, 2011

write the fight right cover med Write The Fight Right ebook available nowThe public demanded it, so I’ve delivered. Well, quite a few people, after attending one of my Write The Fight Right workshops, asked if there was any further resource they could get on the subject. Short of suggesting martial arts classes, I had no advice. After I did the workshop at Worldcon, several people were chatting to me afterwards and the suggestion was made that I write the workshop content up into an ebook and sell it. I thought that was a great idea, so here it is. A short, approximately 12,000 word, ebook discussing all the things involved in fighting to help authors write more realistic and convincing fight scenes in their fiction.

I wouldn’t presume to tell anyone how to write – I don’t think I’m really qualified for that. But after nearly 30 years as a martial artist and working as a martial arts instructor for a lot of that time, not to mention a lot of fights in and out of tournaments, I do know a lot about fighting. So I know what’s real and what’s not, I know what it feels like, and hopefully this book will convey some of that stuff so fiction writers can factor it into their books and stories.

It really bugs me when an otherwise excellent read is marred by a daft fight scene, with the writer clearly having no idea what a fight is really like. Of course, I’m biased, because I do know. But even people who have no more experience of fighting than the author are often bored by fight scenes. Equally, even though they may not be able to put their finger on why, they recognise a visceral, authentic fight scene when they read one. I developed a bit of a reputation for writing good fights, which is what originally led to me being asked to do a workshop at Conflux a while back. I’ve since done the workshop elsewhere, including Worldcon last year – which was a real honour – and I’ll be doing it again at Swancon at the end of this month. Hopefully now people can buy this book to back up the stuff they learn at a workshop, or buy the book and learn all the stuff I cover in the workshop if they can’t make one. Of course, the workshop gives people a much more hands-on experience and allows them to ask questions and so on, but I’m hoping this book is a valuable resource for writers nonetheless.

It won’t teach you how to write and it won’t teach you how to fight, but it will hopefully give you lots of information to help you write better fight scenes. The book is available on Amazon Kindle and in a variety of formats at Smashwords (including a PDF for general reference) for US$1.99. That’s less than a cup of coffee. If you like the book, please do rate and review it and, most importantly, tell all your friends and help me spread the word. Learn more here.

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You can’t be a fan of SF and lament the rise of ebooks

By
34
April 5, 2011

The title says it all. You just can’t. I won’t allow it. I hear it so often and I find it baffling. I know what it means to love books. I love books to a degree most would consider unhealthy. I’m a bibliophile of the highest order. The feel, the weight, the smell, the sound of a page turning. Awesome. And there will always be books. But they will be less and less common, as I’ve said here so many times before, and ebooks will be the mainstream before much longer. And that’s okay.

You know what I like more than books? Stories. I love stories. I love to read the tales of others, to marvel at a great writer’s turn of phrase, to be transported by a great author’s incredible ideas. Rarely do I ever find that sense of wonder so much as I find it in science fiction and fantasy.

Now, I know there are fantasy fans out there who don’t really like sci-fi. They’re the kind of people who wish we all lived in castles and rode horses and wore sack-cloth vests and said things like verily and thou art. I get that, I really do. Those people lamenting the slow demise of books as a mainstream delivery system for stories is fairly understandable. The hardcore fantasy fans lament all technology and yearn for an older, more agrarian society. Of course, they also yearn for magic and dragons, which is fine, but unlikely. About as unlikely as them surviving in a truly medieval world. Even the most hardcore fantasy fans would be chafing at the bit for some modern technology when they badly needed a bath to wash off the flea bites and smallpox.

But I digress. On the whole, most fantasy fans are sci-fi fans too. You don’t have to be into hard sci-fi to qualify. That really scientifically accurate stuff you need degrees in maths and physics to really understand is very cool, but there’s other sci-fi out there too. The softer, more accessible stuff, like Star Wars or Serenity to offer some mainstream examples. There are equally un-dense sci-fi books and short stories out there too – all the sci-fi I write is very light on the sci and heavy on the fi. But regardless of your particular flavour preferences, you can’t be a fan of science fiction and then sit there all miffed and put out at the rise of ebooks.

It happens so often, people that are such big reading fans saying, “Gods, no, I’ll never read an ebook! You can’t curl up with a good ebook!” Bollocks, of course you can. Curling up with a Kindle or Nook is easier than reading an actual book, in fact.

“I like the feel and smell of a real book.” Yeah, so do I, as I said before, and an ereader doesn’t have those attributes. But not everything we read has to be a tactile, olfactory delight.

Let’s be honest about this. Why is an avid reader really an avid reader? Do they like to go and buy a new book every week and run their fingers over it, sniffing deeply? Maybe. But is that the primary reason for buying it? No, of course it’s not. You’d have to be pretty fucked up to prefer the smell of a book over its contents. People buy books because they love stories. The delivery system is hardly relevant – it’s the content we want. We want that transportative magic of well-crafted fiction.

And in science-fiction we’ve been reading about technological advancements since… well, since there’s been science fiction. When I read a book on my iPhone, which I regularly do, I’m living something that just ten years or so ago was still science fiction. The phone in my pocket does more than most of the gadgets on Star Trek – even Star Trek: The Next Generation, and that’s only twenty five years old.

Only? Merlin’s Cock, that makes me feel old! Star Trek: TNG ran from 1987 to 1994. If you watch repeats of it now you see how far we’ve come in that time, not only in television and production, but in ideas too. Though some of those shows had awesome ideas that are still fresh now. Even Classic Star Trek had ideas like that.

But I digress again. I do that.

My point is this: If you’re a fan of science fiction, you have to be a fan of ebooks. Because a pocket- or handbag-sized electronic device that stores thousands of stories, that you can wirelessly connect to other devices or locations to get more stories, IS science fiction.

Get over yourselves, people that don’t like ebooks. It’s all about the story, the wonderment, not the delivery system. Also, if you’re sitting there saying, “But, but, but!” and you have all these reasons why ebooks are shit, let me see if I can address them first:

I don’t like reading off a screen – Then buy a Kindle or Sony Reader or equivalent that uses e-ink and is essentially just the same as reading off a printed page. And before you crap on about it, have you actually tried a Kindle? They’re amazing.

I don’t want to spend money on a reading device – What, like you spend money on books? With the cost of ebooks being lower than most print editions, you’ll get your money back and then start making savings in no time.

I like the smell and feel of real books – So do I. See above. Buy a special edition hardback once in a while and get your touchy, sniffy fix. Then carry on reading on your chosen e device.

I don’t want to see real books disappear – They won’t. There will always be real books. Just fewer of them and mostly in special editions or collector’s editions. But I bet most books will be available POD as well as ebook, just for folks like you.

You have to remember to charge up a reading device – You have to remember to pick up a book. What’s your point? The Kindle, even under heavy use, has a battery life of at least two weeks. You can cope with that, surely?

Ereaders are heavy and cumbersome – No, they’re not. They used to be, but the Kindle, Kobo or Sony Reader, among others, are lighter than most paperbacks. Sure, iPads and stuff like that are heavier, but they’re electronic devices that also have the ability to deliver stories, so it’s a different situation. My iPhone is like that as well and is far lighter and smaller than any paperback. There’s lots of choice.

I like to read in the bath – Good, so do I. Go for it. You’re really careful not to drop your precious book in the water, right? Just do the same with your ereader. And if you’re worried about being electrocuted, I suggest some basic science lessons to ease your fears.

Did I miss anything? If you have some other reason to stand against ebooks, put in a comment below and I’ll address it.

I understand that some people are complete paper book purists, and I get that, I really do. Although it’s an anachronistic and soon to be redundant position. But if you’re an SF fan, I don’t get it at all. Get over your elite self and embrace the future, or forever hang up your SF fandom.

Stop struggling, all you ebook haters – in a few more years everyone will be doing it. You can’t stop change or hold back the future. If you’re an SF fan, why would you want to?

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The current state of my things – writing, edits, fights and articles

By
6
March 23, 2011

I’ve got a lot of stuff going on. But I’m getting there. My primary focus for the majority of this year has been working on my latest novel, getting it up to the best polish I can. I’ve been working on it during every spare minute and I’ve just sent the manuscript somewhere, so wish me luck! I’m very proud of this book. You know you’re onto a winner when you’ve read something you’ve written many times in a few months and the story and characters still excite you. Of course, I’m biased, but I’ve also had some great feedback from my little team of beta readers that helped make this book even better. Thanks to all of you – you know who you are. You people rock. I’m not going to jinx myself by mentioning any more, but a lot of you may know already or can guess what I’m talking about. And no, I won’t be answering guesses.

While this has been my main focus, I’ve been busy with other projects too. I’ve had some good success with short fiction recently and have several stories forthcoming in various journals and anthologies. I’ll let you know as and when each of those is published. I think the next one will be my story Mirrorwalk, in Murky Depths. I blogged about that last week. Working with editors on those things is always interesting. A good editor makes a good story into a great story. I’ve just had another one of those land in my inbox, actually, so I’d better get on with that pretty sharpish.

Another project is my Write The Fight Right ebook. Using my experience as a career martial artist I’ve been running the Write The Fight Right workshop at conventions for a while now, helping people understand how to write a convincing, realistic fight scene. I’ll be doing it again in April at Swancon, for anyone interested. Every time I do the workshop people ask me for further information and I don’t really have anything to give them, other than telling them to try martial arts classes. After I ran the workshop at Worldcon last year, with a big room full of people from all over the world (which was both a little overwhelming and very gratifying) several people suggested I should write up the content of the workshop into a short ebook and make that available for people to buy. What a good idea. So I’ve finally got around to that and now the novel is submitted, and once these couple of short story edits are dealt with, I’ll be finalising that and making it available.

The Write The Fight Right “book” is about 11,000 words, basically a set of detailed notes about all the things I cover in the workshop with a few extra bits added in. I’ll make it available in all formats on Smashwords and as a Kindle edition at Amazon sometime soon. I’m hoping to have that available before the end of April, so when I do the workshop at Swancon and people say, “Is there anything else I can read about this stuff?” I can reply, “Why, yes, there most certainly is.” (And many thanks to Laura Goodin for helping me with a proof-read and editorial suggestions on that project.)

Also, before the end of May, I need to put together an article for Writing Queensland magazine that I was asked to write. I’m honoured to have been asked to do something for them, so will make sure I do a good job of that as soon as possible.

So that’s me right now. Kinda busy, but all good stuff that I’m very excited about. I should really stop cocking around blogging about it and get on with some of it.

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Midnight Echo 5 available now

By
2
March 11, 2011

ME5 Midnight Echo 5 available nowI’m a very proud member of the Australian Horror Writers Association and a big fan of the Association’s magazine, Midnight Echo. I’m really hoping that they’ll buy one of my stories one day. In the meantime, I always enjoy reading it. Issue 5, edited by AHWA President, Leigh Blackmore, is available now.

Midnight Echo 5 is jam-packed with dark fiction, poetry and art. It includes the winners of the AHWA’s 2010 Short Story competition and Flash Fiction Competition (stories by Christopher Green and Jason Fischer), with brand new stories by Terry Dowling, Chandler Kaiden, E. Albert Banstrom, Blair Kelly, Bryce J. Stevens, Mollie Burleson, Christopher Sequeira, Aaron Polson, Felicity Dowker, Rick Kennett, Juliet Bathory, George Ivanoff, Damien Giles, Robert Mammone and John Goodrich.

The issue includes horrific and weird verse by such poets as Kyla Ward, Richard L. Tierney, Fred Phillips, Charles Lovecraft, Michael Fantina, Rosa Christian, Ann K. Schwader, Phillip A. Ellis, Margi Curtis, Joyce Frohn, Mike Berger, Guy Belleranti, Adrienne J. Odasso, John Grey, Ron T. Wilkins and Terrie Leigh Relf.

Dark art by international artists include works by Carl Schaller, Martin Blanco (cover), Shane Ryan, Gaston Locanto, Wayne Palesado, and Tony Karnes.

As an added bonus, this issue features an eight-page graphic story by Mark Farrugia and Greg Chapman.

It’s a seriously beautiful magazine – I’ve got my copy already and it looks fantastic. You can get the PDF edition for $3 or the print edition for $11. AHWA members get the PDF for free. Get your copy here right now!

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Night-Mantled, an ebook briefly free

By
2
March 10, 2011

I mentioned a little while ago that Night-Mantled: The Best of Wily Writers (Volume 1) was available now. As part of Read An Ebook Week, the publisher has made the ebook edition free. After March 12th the price goes back up to $9.99, so this is a chance to score a great book for nothing. Not only is there a story by me, but there’s also the following:

* Alan Baxter: “Stand Off”
* Jennifer Brozek: “Honoring the Dead”
* SatyrPhil Brucato: “I Feel Lucky”
* Nathan Crowder: “Ink Calls to Ink”
* Richard E. Dansky: “Small Cold Thing”
* Seanan McGuire: “Julie Broise and the Devil”
* Lisa Morton:“Sane Reaction”
* Ripley Patton: “A Speck in the Universe”
* Grant Stone: “The Salt Line”
* Joel A. Sutherland: “The Death of Captain Eugene Bloodcake and the Fall of the Horrid Whore”
* Bruce Taylor: “The Prey”
* Mark W. Worthen: “The Minimart, the Ruger, and the Girl”

To get the book for free at Smashwords, add it to your cart and then use the code RE100 at checkout.

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Read an ebook week

By
0
March 7, 2011

March 6th to 12th is Read An Ebook Week. You may or may not enjoy ebooks already and I’m not here to convert you. But, in celebration of the week, my publisher is making all their books half price on Smashwords. That includes my novels, RealmShift and MageSign.

To get into the spirit of the thing, I’ve also made my Ghost Of The Black novella free for the week. Yep, free. But wait, there’s more. My little publishing outfit has made its two anthologies – Souls Along The Meridian by Bill Congreve and Dark Pages 1 edited by Brenton Tomlinson – half price as well.

So that’s two great novels and two great collections all for $1.50 each and a noir sci-fi novella for nothing. This week only. It’s an ebook bonanza. All you need to do is go to the relevant page and purchase the book and then use the code RAE50 at checkout to apply the discounts. Direct links below. Go get ‘em:

RealmShift.

MageSign.

Ghost Of The Black.

Souls Along The Meridian.

Dark Pages 1.

All Gryphonwood Press titles.

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Amanda Hocking is the exception, not the rule

By
14
March 2, 2011

The web has been abuzz lately (for example) with stories of Amanda Hocking’s incredible self-publishing success (and similar success by other indies). In a nutshell, Hocking has nine self-published works available on Kindle (and other ebook stores) and is selling hundreds of thousands every month and making more money than most writers ever dream about. Well, we dream about it, of course, but never expect to actually see it. Hocking sold 450,000 books on Kindle in January alone. At a 70% royalty that’s some serious moolah. Traditional publishers won’t be picking her up because none of them can offer a deal that’s even close, let alone better than the one she’s managed on her own.

Naturally when a story like this comes along, everyone immediately starts shouting stuff about how the world has completely changed and publishers will no longer be required. People everywhere can self-publish on Kindle and make themselves a million dollars a second. Of course, it’s all bollocks.

Anyone that knows anything about me will know that I have no problem with quality indie or self-publishing. The keyword there is QUALITY, but that’s another post. I’m absolutely chuffed for Amanda Hocking. It’s fantastic to see the kind of success she’s had. But let’s get realistic for a moment. She’s an exception, not a new standard benchmark. Remember Dan Brown and J K Rowling? They’re phenomenally successful authors with traditional print deals. Did every other traditionally published author suddenly become a sales behemoth because they did? Of course not. The fact that it can happen doesn’t mean it will every time.

I blogged back in January 2008 about a Japanese girl that wrote a novel on her phone and ended up with a print deal and 400,000 sales. Did Japanese girls everywhere start making fortunes with mobile phone novels? No.

When it comes to Kindle self-publishing there are some people making huge money and selling massive numbers (like Hocking, or J A Konrath, who used his already high profile to take control of his own ebook sales). There are also some people making moderate to good sales, some making poor sales and some making none. I don’t have any figures, but I’ll bet you that the people making none or low sales outnumber those making high sales by a factor of hundreds of thousands. Just like in print publishing. The music industry is the same – for every Justin Bieber there’s a million wannabes struggling to get noticed. Just because massive success can and does happen occasionally, doesn’t mean it can and will happen to many.

Also, every overnight success is usually on the back of many years of hard work. Just because these people shot to fame and success in short timeframes doesn’t mean they spent no time getting there.

Hocking posted this on her blog a couple of weeks ago, which includes these salient points:

So much of what people are saying about me is, “Look what Amanda Hocking accomplished in a year,” when they really should be saying is, “Look what Amanda Hocking accomplished in twenty years.” Because that’s how long I’ve been writing, that’s how long I’ve been working towards this goal…

There is a common misconception that I published the first novel I ever wrote, and that is not true. The first book I ever published was My Blood Approves, and that was the eighth novel I’d written…

There are no tricks or schemes with self-publishing. It’s just about writing a good book, polishing it really well, getting a good cover, pricing it right, and putting it out there. There are no short cuts. If you want to be successful at this, you have to do the work.

You should really read the whole post, it’s very good. I would also point out that even if you do take Amanda’s advice (which every writer should) and write well, polish, edit, get good covers and layout and so on, you’re still not guaranteed success. You’re giving yourself the best shot, but becoming the next Amanda Hocking or J K Rowling is akin to winning the lottery. It happens very rarely in the grand scheme of things, to a very lucky few. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t chase that kind of success, it doesn’t mean it can’t happen to you and it doesn’t mean you don’t deserve it. We all deserve recognition for the hard work we do. The truth is, most of us get a lot less recognition for our hard work than we’d like. That’s life.

Work your arse off and aim for the stars, but don’t get lost in unrealistic expectations. With any luck your hard work and attention to detail and quality will pay off. Certainly we’re going to see more and more people achieving very satisfying success indie publishing their stuff. Things are changing, self-publishing is losing its stigma and new vistas of success are opening to all of us. But even so, success stories like Hocking’s are likely to remain the exception and not the rule.

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Australian Shadows Awards shortlist announced

By
6
February 25, 2011

antho 1 cover thumb Australian Shadows Awards shortlist announcedThe 2010 shortlists for Australia’s premier dark fiction awards, The Australian Shadows Awards, have been announced. First off, I’m incredibly proud to have the Dark Pages anthology among those finalists. While the book is really the baby of editor Brenton Tomlinson and the contributing authors, it was published by my small outfit, Blade Red Press, and the original concept was my own. I also had a fair hand all the way along the process, including the nuts and bolts of typesetting, cover design and production, as well as a vote in the final selection of stories after Brenton had created a shortlist from over 250 submissions. For Blade Red’s first anthology to be nominated for an Australian Shadows Award is just fantastic.

I’m also very pleased to see some good friends and fantastic works shortlisted in the three categories. Here’s the full list of finalists:

LONG FICTION

* Madigan Mine by Kirstyn McDermott (Picador Australia)
* The Girl With No Hands by Angela Slatter (Ticonderoga Publications)
* Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healy (Allen & Unwin)
* Under Stones by Bob Franklin (Affirm Press)
* Bleed by Peter M. Ball (Twelfth Planet Press)

EDITED PUBLICATION

* Macabre: A Journey through Australia’s Darkest Fears, edited by Angela Challis & Marty Young (Brimstone Press)
* Scenes From The Second Storey, edited by Amanda Pillar & Pete Kempshall (Morrigan Books)
* Dark Pages 1, edited by Brenton Tomlinson (Blade Red Press)
* Scary Kisses, edited by Liz Gryzb (Ticonderoga Publications)
* Midnight Echo #4, edited by Lee Battersby (AHWA)

SHORT FICTION

* “Bread and Circuses” by Felicity Dowker (Scary Kisses)
* “Brisneyland by Night” by Angela Slatter (Sprawl)
* “She Said” by Kirstyn McDermott (Scenes from the Second Storey)
* “All The Clowns In Clowntown” by Andrew J. McKiernan (Macabre: A Journey through Australia’s Darkest Fears)
* “Dream Machine” by David Conyers (Scenes from the Second Storey)

I don’t envy the judges selecting winners from that lot. Massive congratulations to everyone involved. The winners will be announced on April 15th.

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The Borders and A&R collapse

By
24
February 22, 2011

Everyone is blogging about the collapse of REDgroup, the company that owns the bookshop chains of Borders and Angus & Robertson (and Whitcoulls in New Zealand). I was going to write a big long ranty post all about it, but the truth is it’s all been done. A quick web search will yield more opinions than you can fit on a ballot sheet. But I will add, very briefly, my perception of the whole thing. (Which probably means I’m about to write a big long ranty post!)

Lots of people are trying to establish exactly what this collapse is and what caused it. I’ll tell you what it’s not. It’s not the great ebook revolution; it’s not shitty management by REDgroup; it’s not the global financial crisis; it’s not the rising cost of physical shop rents; it’s not the massive surge in online shopping and stores like Amazon stealing business. At least, it’s not any one of these things. It’s all of these things.

It’s the progress of industry. Sure, the management of the whole group was blindly stupid and greedy, but without the other factors they’d probably have survived. Sure, Amazon, Book Depository and stores like them are having a massive impact on brick and mortar bookstores, but without the other factors they’d probably have survived. When you combine all the factors at once, this stuff is inevitable. Pretty much every major bookstore chain will suffer. The nature of the industry is changing. It’s a terrible shame for all those people that are going to lose their jobs, but that’s a part of life. It’s like the shipbuilders on the Tyne, the coalminers in the Welsh hills, the dudes that used to run photo processing shops specialising in dark room development. The world moves on, things change, technology develops and old methods and jobs slowly disappear. But new ones also emerge. The smart and the rich are the ones that stay ahead of the curve.

Putting shitty American coffee chains in shitty American book store chains wasn’t going to suddenly make Borders a going business concern. Turning Angus & Robertson into cheap remainder bins with plate glass windows was never going to ensure their survival. High street and mall book stores, just like paper books, are going to be disappearing. There will still be paper books (I’ve talked about this a lot before) but they’ll be specialty books, or Print On Demand books from online stores. Just the same, there will still be book shops, but they’ll be specialty stores, catering to a particular niche of collectors or genre and they’ll have to diversify – comic books, trading cards, games, collectibles – all the stuff that fits the niche.

Whether we like it or not, the world is constantly changing. With change comes death and rebirth. Some things crumble to dust while others are born from the ashes of their predecessor’s demise. There were once people that were skilled at many things that no longer have a place in the world. You can’t blame any one thing except progress. The same is true of the recent book store collapse. There are many mitigating factors that contributed to the stores going under at this particular time, but that’s the small stuff. The changing face of publishing, reading and book selling is going to keep changing.

Within the next decade, I predict, we’ll see very few, if any, big chain book stores. Mass market stuff will be in all the department stores and K-Marts and places like that, but mainly online. Eventually you’ll only get your mass market release in hard copy at a POD booth or ordered that way online. There’ll be specialist stores dealing with specialist buyers and collectible books, while pretty much everyone else buys their stuff online. And the vast majority of it will be ebooks, with a small chunk held by POD releases. There’ll be a rise in collectible, beautiful, probably limited edition hardback releases. Kids starting school now will look at print books the same way we look at vinyl and tape cassettes. If you compare books to albums, you can look at the ebook as the CD and the print book as the vinyl release. The ratios will be pretty similar soon enough, I expect. And before long the CD and will disappear unless you order one, POD style. There’ll be a rise in small press releases with short print runs, and more small press will utilise online bookstores and ebooks for their distribution. Eventually the small press print run will be a thing of the past.

It’s all going to happen, so trying to find a particular reason for the demise of Borders is like trying to look for a particular reason for the demise of the Victorian era. It didn’t die because Victoria did – it ended because we all moved on, in a slow and incremental way with all kinds of contributing factors. That’s life.

Told you I wasn’t going to write a big long ranty post.

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New Age Of Publishing – 10 – Essential reading

By
0
February 12, 2011

So I’ve been running a series of guest posts about the new age of publishing, talking about ebooks, indie authorship, where the traditional bookshop is headed and so on. One of the guest posts was from Shane Jiraiya Cummings and he’s running a similar series of posts on his own blog right now.

I’ve been watching his series with interest and today he has a post up that is an absolute must read. It’s from Elfwreck, “an avid (some would say fanatic) ebook reader with over 10 years professional experience with digital imaging and over 25 years with document conversion and editing.”

It’s a brilliant post, in three parts, covering loads of detail and I agree with every bloody word of it. Seriously – go now, and read.

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The website of author Alan Baxter

Alan Baxter, Author

Author of horror, dark fantasy & sci-fi. Kung Fu instructor. Personal Trainer. Motorcyclist. Dog lover. Gamer. Heavy metal fan. Britstralian. Misanthrope. Learn more about me and my work by clicking About Alan just below the header.

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