Monthly Archives: April 2012

Free, free, free…

FREE ON KINDLE TODAY AND TOMORROW!

(blare the trumpets)

BAD VALENTINES – Three very twisted love stories involving Spanish flies, Mexican blood gods, zombie U-boats and random nondenominational squid.

Do me a favor and download it today!

http://www.amazon.com/Bad-Valentines-ebook/dp/B0075XA4HO

 

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

 

Is Amazon in league with the Devil???

This morning I came across a blog post that basically asked the question – “Is Amazon in league with demonic forces?”

http://thewritersguidetoepublishing.com/they-eat-small-children

The blog took a look at the notion that traditional publishers are some how the “good guys” while the folks at Amazon go to work every morning leaning on pitchforks and might very likely be sporting cloven hooves beneath their highly-polished black Oxfords.

It got me thinking about whether or not Amazon is in league with the devil.

Which got me to thinking about a blog of my own that I have been intending to write for sometime now. I’ve been wanting to address the fact that I am basically two completely different writers. I write two VERY different lines of books and the two don’t necessarily mix.

I’m either mult-talented, flexible or seriously f****d up.

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Still, being active in both traditional and regional as well as near-independent e-publishing offers me a unique position for looking at both sides of the situation. 

The books I release through my regional publisher Nimbus aren’t exactly “Big Six” material – but they turn up in bookstores all over the maritimes. I’ve sold thousands of copies and they’ve done miraculously with and I am very happy with the results of my Nimbus releases. I’ve got another book coming out with them this fall and I have at least two other books in various stages of completion.

They look like this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s HAUNTED HARBOURS. It is available as a traditionally-published book that you can pick up or order in any local bookstore.

It’s also available in Kobo format – http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Haunted-Harbours-Ghost-Stories-Old/book-T1PoKGZ4Sk6QcsR5w27bIA/page1.html.

It’s also available in Nook format – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/haunted-harbours-steve-vernon/1100085326?cm_mmc=affiliates-_-linkshare-_-je6nubpobpq-_-10%3a1&ean=9781551098081&itm=8&usri=steve+vernon

And I’ve just found out that it is available in iTunes for your iPhone, iPod, or iTouch – http://itunes.apple.com/ca/book/haunted-harbours/id430596808?mt=11

Aye-yi-yie!

The same holds true for my books THE LUNENBURG WEREWOLF or WICKED WOODS.

However, my middle-grade novel SINKING DEEPER and my children’s picture book MARITIME MONSTERS are still only available in traditional format – which is a shame because I am awfully, awfully proud of that book SINKING DEEPER.

(There is a secret easter egg link in that cover that will bring up a chapter one excerpt)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before I yield completely to the compelling lure of self-promotional spam allow me to refocus my thinking.

I’m happy with how these traditional releases continue to work for me. They bring me a lot of local reknown which in turn brings me a lot of local appearances.

Paying appearances. Signings. Radio and television gigs.

All of which contribute to my perpetually inflating ego and my likewise perpetually deflating bank account.

A lot of the more radical sorts of e-book writers would no doubt tell me that I am wasting my time staying with traditional publishing – but it still suits my own business plan.

My e-books are currently released through Crossroad Books – which means they do most of the gruntwork. They convert the manuscripts I write into the various formats. They take care of the distribution, the conversion and up until the last couple of books the artwork. So I am not exactly what you call a typical writer of e-books. So far that suits me. I haven’t had to learn any new ways of doing my work. I just put together a manuscript and they take care of all of the various clockwork details.

Which is why I think of myself as a “near-independent” writer of e-books, rather than a true indie.

So far I have kept my e-books and my traditionally published works completely segrated. I’m that dude with a wife and kids in one town who takes periodic “business trips” to visit a wife and kids in another town. I am Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde – living a totally split life. I do not encourage my traditional fans to hunt up my e-books because they are COMPLETELY different animals.

 

Now, if I had been a smarter fellow I might have explored the possibility of releasing my e-books under a psuedonym – they are that different in focus from my traditional releases. My e-books, so far, have all been written in the horror genre – suitable for adults and folks who are less than easily offended.

It’s scary.

I live in constant fear that a few of my more conservative regional fans is going to stumble across some of my more radical and/or graphic works of horror. I worry that they are going to rise up and lead a crowd of pitchfork-bearing villagers to my front lawn where they would burn me on a heap of flaming e-books.

All right, so I have a pretty good imagination. I am a writer, after all.

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To make matters worse I am currently looking at further complicating the situation by pursuing my work in a third direction. Admittedly I am hoping that this third direction will somehow bring the two other facets of my writing career into more perfect harmony.

So, being as immersed as I am in both ends of this business I feel I’d like to throw in my two bits into the argument – is Amazon in league with the Devil???

 

Currently, traditional Big Six style publishers are trying to use e-books as if they were nothing more than just another form of traditional product – that is, one to be milked for the lion’s share of profit – with the author settling for whatever pittance they care to pass their way.

They are, in effect, trying to use the e-book as if it were nothing more than a variation of the traditional hardback and softcover. This is further complicated by the fact that a great deal of the smaller publishers are leaning on larger conversion-based companies to turn their back catalogue into e-books. They are jobbing the clockwork details out-of-house.

It’s the way that big businesses think. It is the same reason why you go to your local grocery store and pay big bucks for a hunk of beef that was raised in Argentina while local beef farmers are giving up the ghost left, right and centre.

I put it to you that Big Six Publishers need to learn how to handle the clockwork details themselves – just the same that local grocery stores ought to rethink their dependence on foreign-grown product and build up the network to support local food producers.

Amazon has figured out a model that works. Traditional publishers need to put on their crow-eating shoes and try to emulate Amazon’s plan. The fact is – creating an e-book OUGHT to be a whole lot cheaper than creating a traditional book – ESPECIALLY when that e-book is nothing more than a recreation of a traditional release.

Traditional publishers need to re-think and re-evolve their way of doing business and they need to do it FAST! Simply bumping up the price of their e-books isn’t going to cut it. They need to come up with a way of doing business that is more compatible with the Amazon way of doing business.

I think they can do it.

To bring us back to my original metaphor the fellow with a wife and kids in one town and a wife and kids in another town needs to Brady Bunch the situation and bring both wives and both kids into the same town and live in complete harmony.

All right. So I have a lot of imagination. I’m a writer after all!

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So, tell me what you guys think. Is there a way that traditional publishers can pull up their socks and compete with the Amazon model? Does it naturally have to be “us” against “them”?

Why can’t we all just get along?

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

Who here hates combing their hair???

I’ve got uncombable hair.

I drag a comb through it. Get it all lined up. Look at myself in the mirror.

Cool.

I’m a killer.

I’m a god.

And then I breathe.

Sprangowang!!!

Just that quickly – that perfect godlike comb-job winds up looking like something that was dragged through the business end of a combine harvester.

I used to have long hair.

Long like this.

(that’s me in the Aquaman costume, in case you were confused, Mera is actually my wife Belinda)

(and what is up with Aquaman? How come he comes out of the water every time without ever having to comb his hair?)

The hair was uncombable – but when it’s that long you can sort of get away with faking it. You could get away with saying such hoopdoodlery as “Hey, I’m not into conforming to civilization’s unreasonable expectations.” or “Yeah, the wind caught me.” or – if you’re in your teenage years you can even get away with a blank stare followed by “Comb?”

Or, for a couple of summers I even tried this.

Then, when I reached the age of fifty I decided to have it cut short. To hell with combing. I had it cut reasonably short and settled on looking like the way I look on that blog photo to the right of this entry.

Unfortunately, unless I want to opt for a special forces buzz cutt the darned stuff still needs combing. Not all of the hair gels of Arabia – or Shopper’s Drug Mart – would neaten this mop.

Editing is a little like that.

The first time you begin to comb through the manuscript the darned thing is completely unmanageable. The chapters won’t line up.  You can’t decide whether your hero is a blonde or a brunette. You misused there instead of their about two thousand and eighty two times.

It’s absolutely impossible.

Then, you begin to build a little structure and the work begins to come together.

Finally, when you are happy with it, comes the best part of all. The part when you send your work off to your editor.

Which, in hindsight, is a little like sending your delinquent teenager to a military academy. Let somebody else worry about that little sucker. Let somebody else get him into shape. Turn him into a man.

(I know, I know, I have dropped my metaphors into a blender and hit frappe)

Then, sooner or later the little fellow comes back – and he’s carrying a gun.

Damn it, that seemed like a perfect plan at the beginning of things, now didn’t it?

Editing is the same way. Sooner or later you’re editor sends your work back to you and you have begin to comb it straight it all over again.

(whizz, frappe, whizz, frappe…)

Only this time you have some step-by-step directions to follow.

It is as if the god of design reached out his magic highlighter and crayoned out a few step-by-step comb-to-the-dotted line directions.

Wonderful.

That’s where I’m at this morning. I am about 125 pages into a 300 page manuscript that has been gone over carefully by my editor and I am picking my way through the blue and red lines, looking for glitches and queries – like – “Wasn’t this dude red-headed three chapters ago?” or “How did ten bullets grow out of a six shot revolver anyway?” or “Who in the hell ever told you that you were a writer?”

Well, maybe not that last one. I might just be reading between the lines.

(Danger Will Robinson, frappe overload is iminent…)

The book is entitled TATTERDEMON and you are going to have to wait just a little bit longer before I can pass any more information your way.

For now, I’m just going to continue to comb my hair and play with my blender.

…whiz, frappe, whizzzz, frappe, whizzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz….

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

Choosing Cover Art…

I love covers.

When I go in the bookstore and browse it’s the interesting covers that often get me to pick a book up from the shelf and browse it. Once I’m browsing the sucker I am halfway to the point of actually picking it up.

E-books are the same way – but different. Cover art is still important – in fact it is damn near critical. It is tougher for e-book covers because you don’t get to see the whole picture. All that you are usually looking at is just a thumbnail image. So sometimes going to grandiose and striving for a really wonderful painterly cover isn’t necessarily the way to go. That picture of a unicorn leading a conga-line of brandy-tippling mutant shrimp across an ocean floor scattered with rare doubloons and giveaways from a thousand K-Tel promotions isn’t necessarily what you want to choose for your next e-book.

You shrink it down to a thumbnail image and that unicorn is most likely going to look like a unicycling French Poodle blowing on a twisted sort of saxaphone.

In my e-books I have worked with several wonderful cover artists.

Peter Francis, a local gent that I met at a Gothic Christmas Festival, did the cover art for my SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I liked this cover. It’s bold and it is simple and it captures the kooky off-beat eeriness of my little novelette. It’s got a kind of old-school EC Cemetery Dance sort of flavor to it that just sort of shrieks out “Bring on the booga-booga!” And, like I said, it shows up nicely in the Amazon thumbnail – which is where most prospective readers are going to be looking at it. The cover was even mentioned in the FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND review. http://famousmonstersoffilmland.com/2012/02/10/book-review-sudden-death-overtime-by-steve-vernon/

Incidentally, Peter is on the look-out for clients. You can contact him at his Facebook page.  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Petes-Gothic-Art/169630223059273

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I’ve also worked with Neil Jackson. who has done the cover work for a couple of my books now. I just had a look at his latest cover and it is definitely a stand-out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The book is called TATTERDEMON and I won’t tell you much more about it until it comes out just a little later this spring. Until then – try not to drool on the computer screen, would you?

I will let you know that Neil is also on the hunt for his next victim so if you are looking for a good cover artist get in touch with Neil. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Petes-Gothic-Art/169630223059273#!/profile.php?id=788512064&sk=wall

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Lastly, I want to point you towards a great little article on this subject. I already Twittered this article and plunked a link on my Facebook page but I decided to plunk it into my blog entry that I had been meaning to write. Definitely check this link out and you could do worse than actually following that page. There’s always a lot of information there. http://thewritersguidetoepublishing.com/self-publishing-tips-cover-art

If you liked this blog entry you can always do the same. Follow my blog or Twitter a link to it or plunk (that’s a technical term, by the way) a link to my blog on your Facebook page. Or of course you could always be old-fashioned about it and just buy my book. http://www.amazon.com/Sudden-Death-Overtime-ebook/dp/B0077ZR2TS

I’m an old-fashioned kind of gent myself.

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

How do I sell my book???

Just recently I was asked an interesting question over on Facebook.

Somebody asked me – “Steve, I’ve been thinking about writing a book and I really want to get serious about it. How do I publish it? How much should I pay to get it published? I’d really rather not pay too much.”

 So I answered that question and I’m going to airlift the answer from the Facebook page over to my blog – because we writers are unscrupulous recyclers.

I’m just changing the name of the person in the interest of privacy – but you know I’m talking about you Dean Koontz, now don’t you?

Hey Anonymous.

First thing, you ought to finish that book. Finish it right to the last period. It’s very hard for a first-time writer to sell a “work-in-progress”. A publisher wants to buy a finished product – so finish the book until it is done-done-done!

Then, you can start thinking about selling it to a publisher. If it is a good enough book, you will find somebody who wants to buy it.

I want you to get comfortable with those two words – “buy” and “sell” – on account of writing is primarily a business. You talk to ninety-five percent fo the publishers out there and they will tell you that they want a book that they can sell for a profit. So make sure you’ve written a marketable product. The best way to make sure is to read every damn book in the genre that you’ve chosen. If you’re writing a mystery – read every damn mystery you can find in the library. Empty the mystery rack at the bookstore, while you’re at it.

Read new stuff as well as old. Explore the medium. Find out what’s out there.

If you don’t really love to read then you’ve got no business trying to write.

One of the first questions you’ll need to answer is – what the hell am I writing? – on account of that is the first thing a publisher is bound to ask you. A writer needs to be able to sum up what he’s written in a line or two. Think about all of those promo plugs that you used to read in the TV GUIDE. All right, so there isn’t any TV GUIDE anymore – don’t blame me if I’m older than the dirt that grows under dirt. Think about the movie DIE HARD. What’s it about?

DIE HARD is a story of a divorced cop who fights his way through an entire skyscraper of bad guys lead by Severus Snape (Alan Rickman) to save his ex-wife.

That’s it. That’s the whole story. You want to be able to see your book that way – in one sentence or less. Once you’ve written the book boil it down to a single sentence and start thinking about things like SUBMISSION PACKAGES and QUERY LETTERS – which would take a whole other five or fifty-eight Facebook entries to explain.

Lastly, do not EVER, EVER, EVER pay to have your book printed – unless you’re honestly only thinking about giving out a few copies to your Mom and Dad and Great Aunt Murbaline. Or, unless you a world-class public speaker who is already being asked to go and speak at dozens and hundreds of public gatherings about the “Ancient Shaolin Technique of Toe-Growing”. If you are already a world-class expert on some field that people will pay to listen to – then – and only then – should you consider paying for a private printing to sell to all of those people who want to learn more about growing toes.

Finally, the other alternative you might look into is putting your work into e-book format – which is another ten or twelve Facebook entries worth of explaining. But first thing – finish that book. Everything else ought to come later.

(I purposefully did not go into this topic on the Facebook page because I’ve already talked a lot about e-book publishing elsewhere – and I wanted to keep this entry strictly focussed on one particular facet of the business. This is a danger of somebody like me who actively writes in both the traditionally-published field and the e-book field. It is a little like being multi-lingual. I might be going on and on in Swahili and suddenly spout out something about Doc Savage in old-school Mayan.)

Lord holy old jello-goggles but I am a windy old windsock…

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

(if you liked these words why don’t you try reading my latest e-book – a novelette entitled SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME. Take it from me, this is not just any vampire/hockey novelette.)                                                  http://www.amazon.com/Sudden-Death-Overtime-ebook/dp/B0077ZR2TS

 

Corn…

A fellow could do a lot worse than to watch this little video every morning or so before he gets out of his own way and starts getting things done.

I’ve posted this here once before but tripped over it this morning and thought I’d repost.

It puts me in mind of something that happened to me about a month ago. I said something out loud to somebody – said something that was of those old proverbs – said it and meant it – and somebody said “Well that’s awful corny.”

Let me tell you – people live off of corn. They eat it and they survive and there are a lot worse things in this world to go believing in than pure honest-to-god downhome corn.

Some body remind me tomorrow and I’ll post my recipe for corn chowder.

Believe it!

Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

Exciting News…

Okay, so I’ve been a bad blogger.

Bad blogger. Bad, bad blogger!

But let me share some good news I just recieved.

 

 

 

 

 

My story, “Harry’s Mermaid”, which appeared in issue #84 of ON SPEC magazine – has been honorably mentioned in Ellen Datlow’s Year’s Best Horror and Fantasy for 2011. This isn’t the first time I’ve had stories mentioned in the list – but it doesn’t happen nearly often enough for me to even PRETEND to be perpetually jaded. I am darned proud and pleased to see a tale of mine mentioned in that list.

For folks who don’t know, ON SPEC is a Canadian science-fiction fantasy anthology magazine that has been out on the market since 1989!

Check it out!

http://www.onspec.ca/about

 

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And finally, let me leave you with a little writing advice.

 

Read, write and rinse.

Read, write and rinse.

Repeat, as often as necessary.

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon