I am the FiendMaster. I write stories about mentally deranged killers, psychotic but sympathetic people, dark gods, and doomed people. But these are fiction. And while this little essay might damage my rep, as it were, I need to rant.
Because my wife made the mistake of seeing the picture of a doomed dog, we visited the Montgomery County Animal Shelter back in May. This is a KILL shelter. It's a place where pets either get adopted, or are ultimately put to death. I really can't put it more plainly than that.
The people there work hard to find adoptive parents, foster parents, and other places to send cats and dogs. However, with the economic downturn and people generally being irresponsible, the animal shelter is overcrowded. Dangerously so.
Most of the dogs are two to a pen. Sometimes three. This isn't intentional. This is less than optimal. And the people who work at the shelter are miserable about the choices they have to make.
While we were waiting to see Luna (a moon-colored pit bull mix), ten puppies (yes TEN!) were brought in. All from the same litter. All very cute, quiet, and desperate for attention.
I watched the following occur. The shelter director picked up each puppy and examined it. "No," she said and put it aside. Next. "Yes," she said with a glimmer of a smile. Then the word "no" was rapidly repeated.
The volunteers have to look at each animal, and based on its coloring, face, and breed, decide whether or not it even has a chance of being adopted. Yes, that's right. Nothing about their temperament. Nothing about whether or not they'll be a great companion for someone. It's all about looks. Cute dogs get adopted. Ugly dogs or those with any kind of deformity are doomed. Their corpses will end up in a crematorium and turned to smoke and ash.
The dog we ended up adopting is sweet, beautiful, and desperate to please us. No one would adopt her because she's a pit-bull mix. No one wanted to take the chance on her. It's only due to the fact that I'm a pushover and my wife is too that we ended up taking this dog into our home.
We don't know who the fuck abused her or ended up bringing her to the shelter or why. We only know this dog was slated for the kill floor. And all because some dipshit motherfucking worthless piece of so-called human garbage didn't spay/neuter her parents.
That's right. I'm not blaming the shelter. I'm not blaming the fine volunteers there who PLEAD for people to take these wonderful animals. They care. They care more than you can imagine and I know every one of them must cry in their dreams for the things they have to do. Imagine being in that position, knowing that every animal you feed and give love to could be slated for death the next day. I can't really imagine a more thankless and terrible vocation.
The shelter used to pass off animals they could save to the SPCA non-kill shelter. But guess what? Because of dip-shit worthless pieces of human garbage that won't be responsible with their pets, those shelters are full. Period.
If an animal doesn't get fostered, or adopted, it will be destroyed. Montgomery County is so full that the shelters won't even TALK to vets about animals that get dropped off at their offices. There is simply no fucking room. Anywhere.
So what's my point? You. You! My Fiendlings, be responsible. Get your goddamned cat or dog neutered/spayed. Don't breed 'em. Don't sell puppies/kitties by the side of the road. When you don't sell 'em, where do they end up? As strays destined to either be roadkill or end up in a kill-shelter. Do they deserve it? What if your parents put you up for adoption and after a short period of time, you were to be killed through no fault of your own because no one wanted you?
It's absolutely inhuman. There are so many worthy pets out there waiting for you. Don't buy 'em. Don't seek out puppy mills or those assholes at the pet stores. Go to a shelter. Choose a friend. (S)he might be older than a puppy. (S)he might not be as cute as that pure-bred you saw the other day. But you know what? I bet (S)he'll be a better dog.
We have rescued two cats and two dogs now. It's too early for me to tell you what Luna will be like in the long-run, but thus far, she is my friend. She is my new baby. And no one is taking her back to a shelter. No one is going to hurt her. We'll save her, reclaim her, and give her the future and love she deserved.
Do the same for your pets. Be responsible or don't get a pet at all because you obviously don't want one. If you're not willing to put in the time, find a home for them, not the shelter. I understand people get pets, develop allergies, have to move, etc. But do your absolute best to ensure they don't end up in the doggie/kittie concentration camp. Otherwise, a fiend may come knocking on your door.
Were you listening? Did you hear it? The snap and crunch of digital teeth... The rumbling roar of a giant, market eating monster? Did you hear the screams and cries of small, upstart lifeforms as they quivered in fear?
The Amazonasaurus. The wrathful, menacing, carnivorous giant decided it's had enough of the small-time animals like Diesel Books, Smashwords, and Barnes and Noble. They were nipping at its heels by providing ebooks for its platform without the dreaded "amazon" tax.
The amazonasaurus, a massive, bloated creature that requires more and more of the food chain to survive, decided to evolve. Rather than being content to live side by side with the other creatures, ignoring their occasional nips from its massively stocked island, the creature declared war on all those that would dare threaten its gluttony.
This new psychological evolution of the Amazonasaurus is called "KDP Select." Now those of who you who aren't in the writing biz have probably never heard of it, unless you've been paying attention to some of the conversations on twitter, facebook, and the like.
In an effort to starve out its competitors, the Amazonasaurus created a program for authors that guaranteed them access to the Kindle Owners Lending Library. This means their books will show up as select choices in that library, thus giving indie authors, and even mainstream authors, more exposure. It's a marketing dream, if the Amazonasaurus is to be believed.
What does the author have to do to participate? Guarantee the Amazonasaurus an exclusive right to the title for 90 days. This means no books to smashwords, none to Diesel, and especially none for B&N. For 90 days, the Amazonasaurus will "market" your books to the masses and all you have to do is guarantee only those who shop the Amazonasaurus will be able to find it.
In some ways, this is a trap for us authors. If you read the KDP Select fine print, when your 90 days is up in the program, it automatically renews. In other words, you'll have to log in to their console and forcefully end your participation. And if you change your mind? Unpublish your book to get out of the contract? The Amazonasaurus reserves the right to kick you off its store. For forever.
So it's a Faustian bargain, dear authors, or one made with Tony Soprano. You don't get a way out, because the Amazonasaurus puts its jaws right over your head like the dreaded sword of damacles.
So what if you do all this and still make no money? Well, that's your fucking problem. You have spent 90 days fucking your customer base with no guarantee of return. Nothing. If you were making $30.00 per month (meager, but very realistic) on royalties from ALL your ebook outlets, your monthly royalties may dwindle to nothing. Again, there's no guarantee of anything.
If I were to be conspiracy-minded, here's what I think will actually happen. The Amazonasaurus is going to grossly INFLATE the royalties for authors in KDP Select. Why? Very simple. If indie authors who are used to making $30 a month suddenly make $60 a month for that 90 days, then the idea of opting out of KDP Select is foolish from a practical perspective. Very foolish. The Amazonasaurus then starves the other outlets by paying its authors for doing nothing more than refusing to let their books into those markets.
Thus, Smashwords, Diesel, and even the terribly klunky awful secondary powerhouse known as B&N, fold, which, of course, leaves the Amazonasaurus control of the island once and for all. In other words, the Amazonasaurus has a monopoly on the ebook market.
If I were to engage in serious paranoia, I would suggest that the Amazonasaurus will pull all of its non Kindle-Fire-centric apps from the various app stores. This means you could no longer read your kindle books on your iPad, iPhone, or Android device. Thus, you are forced to purchase one of their hardware offerings. Yes, truly paranoid, I know. But it's the kind of shit large corporations do. It just is.
So what's my standing? Well, I need the money. I really need the exposure. But, as cynical as I am, I'm also a bit of an idealist. Fuck 'em, is what I say. I refuse to let the Amazonasaurus dictate where I sell my wares. From a practical standpoint, there's no real guarantee this is going to do anything for me other than further limit my exposure to new readers.
I'm boycotting KDP Select and the Amazonasaurus' Faustian bargain. I'm not going to give my fellow authors shit if they choose to participate--that's their business, not mine. I own a kindle and I doubt I'm going to purchase another book for it from the Amazonasaurus. Instead, I'll purchase from one of the other outlets, and then convert the book to kindle format. I'm a geek. I know how to do this crap.
The Fiendmistress has often joked that Amazon is the Walmart of the internet. Now, more than ever, I think she's right. So, Amazon, go roar and scare and do all the other things you do. Go be the giant that tries to devour everything in the foodchain. Just remember--monopolies are illegal. And you too may one day be an endangered species...
I dropped a bomb on twitter yesterday when I said "I find magic systems to be the most f'ing annoying thing about fantasy. I mean, why do I care? Keep it consistent and it doesn't matter."
As you might imagine, there were, um, quite a few people who took issue with the statement. The funny thing is that the conversation ended up straying into science fiction and even thriller fiction.
I visited the local Barnes and Noble today and this led to the following rant. Warning: definitely NSFW!
This is The FiendMaster. Due to the fact Mr. Cooley is still trying to finish fiction to podcast, and several of his friends were let go by his former employer, I felt it was time to dig out an old rant. Please enjoy.
Yup, it's begun. As of today, I have already sent three query letters or full novel submissions. Now we get to wait and see how long it takes for the rejection cycle to begin.
I've been asked why the hell I'm interested in getting published by a publishing company when I can obviously make more money and have more control over my work if I handle it myself. In other words, why do I need a publisher?
This is a very good question. The answer goes something like this.
- I can't afford a professional editor. A good publishing company, one I want to publish my books with, has an editorial staff that should be able to help in polishing the manuscript. While there are freelancers available for this chore, they typically cost cash that I simply don't have. I want to put out the best possible product and that requires some professional help.
- Layout. I need help with laying out the book properly. While I may put Tattoo and the Fiends collection out as a book via Createspace or some other POD service, Closet Treats deserves a chance to be professionally edited and packaged. Again, I can't afford a professional artist or professional layout services. I know plenty of people capable of the artwork and layout, but again, I believe Closet Treats deserves the best.
- Price. I hope that my books will be priced at a fair amount for fiendlings to purchase. Although I'm still looking at the cost of a POD like Createspace, POD books are typically much more expensive than books in the bookstore.
- Distribution. Createspace claims to work through certain book distributors that will get your novel into bookstores. Although I believe bookstores are a dying model, Barnes and Noble and other brick and mortar stores stil provide a significant presence for authors. In addition to having your book on the shelves, it makes it much easier for a self-funded signing tour or other such PR efforts.
- Bona Fides. I believe we will ultimately bypass the publishing gate-keepers. Those who consider new media as nothing more than a vanity distribution mechanism for authors who aren't good enough to "make it" in the traditional markets are foolish at best, myopic at worst. Have no doubt-- the market is changing and changing quickly. But until this happens, having an actual "respected" publishing company at your back is the only way to qualify for certain awards or reaching the NYT.
These are the main reasons I have for pursuing relations with a publisher for Closet Treats rather than doing it myself. But rest assured, if I don't find a publisher in the future, Closet Treats will definitely be destined for a different route. Stay tuned. Maybe I'll have some good luck. And I hope that if it happens, you fiendlings will be ready with your wallets open, and smiles on your fanged faces.
Yup, here it is. Nasty. Horrible. It's a rant. Keep your kids away from this one...
Due to advice from legal, this rant will be offline for at least 90 days
A long time ago, in a suburb far far away, there was an elementary school called Greenwood Forest Elementary. It served children between kindergarten and 5th grade with great teachers, horrid bullies, and spoiled children. Well, I was spoiled. So were a lot of my classmates. Trust me, you know who you are.
In this suburb that seems so far away to me now, I remember the bell would ring in the late afternoon and all of us tykes, in all our different age groups, would practically run through the playground's various metal webs, bars, barrels, and contraptions, through the copse of too tall pines, and to that mystical van covered with pictures of various ice cream bars, sandwiches and tasty candy treats.
Submitted by Paul Elard Cooley on Fri, 05/29/2009 - 13:08
From Cory Doctorow, author of Little Brother, comes this. Essentially, the article points out that the Obama administration, along with other corporate interests, are trying to ensure that a world-wide copyright treaty fails. Basically, the idea is that media that can be presented in digital form (via text-to-speech, audio only, etc) for the blind and otherwise reading-disabled, should be shared across borders more easily. Now, in doing this, of course, the big media giants have to give up some rights in the long-term. What do they have to give up? Control. It's amazing to me that while we watch the traditional media (newspapers, book publishers, and magazines) go out of business at an alarming rate, these corporate idiots (are you listening, RIAA? You scum sucking maggots) continue to eschew any change in their revenue models or move with the technology. Either they have Drooling Idiot Executives (DIE) running the businesses who are in their f'ing 60-80s, or they just can't figure out how to game the system. I bought 5 books yesterday from Amazon. Two of 'em were POD (print on demand) books, and four out of five were free podcasts (like my own work). I gave the authors some love. They create content I like. They deserve to get paid. I do exactly the same thing with music. And I love indie artists (regardless of media type) because they are doing what they love for the promise of very little money. I too am in that mold. It's why I'm involved in open-source. It's why I LOATHE all things microsoft. It's why I give my stuff away for free (of course, that's all it's worth). I don't have dreams of making a whole lot of cash in this life. Things like my own happiness and ideals are much more important to me. So the corporations are scared to death of people like us, the free content creators. They want to say we suck, because we don't have their approval and because if we give our stuff away, it must not be worth anything. The signal to noise ratio is very small on the net. This is very true. And there's going to be a lot of crap out there. But you know what? When I go into a bookstore (rarely happens, these days) or a traditional media outlet or listen to the radio (nearly NEVER happens), all I see and hear is crap, crap, crap. The music industry spends its budget on marketing one hit wonders. The book people find some person they think is going to be good on author photos and writes general audience, accessible, meaningless shit and then spend all their money on them. And microsoft keeps churning out the same damned os with copied eye candy, and the same damned product over and over again that gets more bloated and useless with every release. And people keep buying this crap! So for me, the signal to noise ratio in the world in general is very damned small. But since I discovered the world of podcast fiction, and the content creators out there who have succeeded in not only gathering large followings, but are also making money doing it, I've realized we've opened up a new world of possibilities. I'm not against making money. I hope one day to make enough money off of donations and people buying POD or DTP versions of my work that I can one day quit working for Drooling Idiot Executives. But I'm always going to provide the podcasts for free. Always. I think I'm also going to provide the e-book versions for free as well. But you're more than welcome to buy the kindle versions or apps through the iTunes app store. :D So retweet, blog, or email the stuff at the top. This is important. Whether you agree or disagree with the problem of world-wide copyright, and the ability for the disabled to get easier access to digital media, please make sure others get hold of this. Discuss it. Figure out where you stand. And let the Obama administration and our idiot Congress KNOW where you stand on it. Cheers.