Fall for the Indie Book Challenge

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Just a quick update this Sunday to let everyone know Andrew and I will be participating in the Fall for the Indie Book Challenge. You know us, always up for a challenge*.

This challenge is all about highlighting Indie authors and books, which is great, especially since that’s what Andrew and I are. Over the next fifteen weeks, participants will be selecting fifteen indie books, reading them, and reviewing them. For my part, I’ll post reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, and from the blog perspective, we’ll be posting reviews here on the blog.

I should note that I may not complete the challenge, but I’ll do my best around a busy writing schedule (see the link above for exactly why it is going to get busy). If you’d like to join in, visit the Goodreads page for the group and sign up, there’s a lot of indie authors in there already with suggestions in a bunch of genres. And if you’re participating, might I humbly suggest my newest book, Absent Hero, available wherever there is the internets.

Good luck to those involved, I look forward to reading lots of books and reviews.

*Not sure we mentioned it, but there’s been an additional challenge between Andrew and myself over this writing deadline. If one of us does not finish a first draft by Oct. 1st, then that person must sing the entire score for HMS Pinafore, and release it for the world to hear via podcast. If neither of us finishes in time, you’ll get to hear us both. I’m counting on hearing Andrew belt out “I’m Called Little Buttercup”.

EVERYTHING IS FREE!

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HI THERE, KA-RAZY ZACH HERE…

Ahem, excuse me, I turned into a terrible used car commercial there for a second. But there’s a deal going down right now that has me in that frame of mind. Yes, prices have been slashed to historic lows! Hundreds of hail-damaged digital books that must go now!

My book, Absent Hero, first episode of the Gone To Wonder story, is absolutely free this weekend on Amazon. It is free every weekend and weekday if you ask for it, but I thought I’d throw poor Amazon a bone. They’re hurting right now, folks, and they need all the traffic they can get.

So if you’d like to get a copy of Absent Hero for your KindlePad Phone, go on over to Amazon this weekend and download it. Remember, this is about helping them.

 


 

cover3The first episode of Gone To WonderAbsent Hero, is available now from Amazon.com. Seventeen-year-old Wendy Danek is a superfan of the revolutionary theme park Finnegan’s Wonder, a place where stories come alive around you. But her world is thrown upside down when the Wonder pulls her into a story she never imagined she could experience. Will she save the Wonder, or end it? Pick up a copy of Absent Hero and be Gone to Wonder!

Weekly Wrap-Up

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Dancing Couple, Boardman Robinson, from the Met

Another week has come and gone, and the weekend is upon us. Here’s a few stories you might have missed this week:

George R.R. Martin is going to kill this guy

Someone donated enough money to a campaign sponsored by Martin to meet the highest reward level. That reward? Getting a character named after you written into the Song of Ice and Fire series. And then getting that character killed. We can only assume David Goldblatt will die in horrible agony.

Self-Publishing is blowing up right now

You know all them publishing houses and their dwindling sales numbers? Turns out, people aren’t buying that much less books, they’re just not buying as many from publishers. Or in print. According to this article from The Guardian, people in the UK bought 18 million self-published titles last year, a 76 percent increase. Well done, UK.

Speaking of publishing…

I’ve read a couple more interesting responses to the Hachette-Amazon thing this week, including this article from a PhD candidate. She makes a great point about the gate-keepers of literature and how they’ve historically controlled what’s been considered “serious art”. She also points out that newer generations of lit majors are writing dissertations on comic books and other things that Ruth Graham wouldn’t like. I had a professor in college, in fact, that was working on a dissertation and presentation on zombies. Yes, she was an awesome professor.

And finally

Round the Bearded Bards, things are in motion. I introduced my book series Gone To Wonder, Andrew is nearing completion of the first episode of his own series, and we’re getting even more projects lined up for your reading pleasure.

That’s it for this week, enjoy the respite. We’ll see you Monday.

Are You Not Entertained? Entertainment In a 21st Century World

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Amazon used to run a commercial for the Kindle. In that commercial they advertised the greatness of the Kindle. How it can hold a million books, how you can read anywhere you want, how it won’t spontaneously catch on fire like a regular book does (I may have made that last one up). Basically, the commercial was pro-Kindle and anti-Book.

Around the same time, Barnes and Noble ran a commercial that ended with a phrase like “just read.” The commercial was far more pro-reading than it’s Amazon equivalent.

Now, I can understand the motivations for why the commercials would be formatted this way. Amazon wants to reduce the amount of people who are buying paper-backed books. They would like more people to buy ebooks. The mark up on ebooks is much higher than paper books and the warehouse space needed for ebooks is, well, zero.

Barnes and Noble wants people to buy both books and ebooks. They already have their brick and mortar bookstores, and they also have the nook. They would like people to buy books and read in whatever way will make them money (which is both).

What this makes me think about is how we take in our entertainment. That is, how we read, watch, listen. Is there any one, pure, way to enjoy entertainment? I know that a great deal of people swear by seeing movies only in the theater, only listening to music on a record player, and only reading a book in paper form.

But is there really a pure way? Or are there just preferred ways?

I think it’s much more what we prefer to do rather than what we think is pure. We may believe that our preferred method is pure, but it probably just seems that way because that’s how we enjoy taking in our entertainment the most.

There are dozens of ways to enjoy our entertainment now. We can watch TV on a television, a computer, our phones. We can watch movies in a movie theater, on a TV, or in the palm of our hands. We can read a paper book, or we can read on a phone, on a kindle, on a nook, or on an iPad. We can listen to music on a record, a CD, a tape, an iPod, a radio, or live and in person. The point is, we have dozens of ways to take in our entertainment these days. But, really, is there one way that is better than all the rest?

In my mind, no, there isn’t. Sure, there are ways that I prefer to take in my entertainment. I prefer a paper book, a TV for movies and television shows, and an iPod for music. But these are just preferences. It’s not that I have found the one pure way to take in my entertainment, the one way that presents them in their best possible light, because I haven’t.

I think the idea that there is one pure way to take in entertainment is ridiculous. We here at the Bearded Bards will be publishing exclusively in ebook form, to start out. Does that mean that we think that ebooks are the best possible way to read books? No. They are one way to read books. You could also listen to an audiobook, or pick up a faded old paper back (maybe a hard cover if you want to be a fancy pants).

It’s confusing, really, that the idea of high and low culture has to extend to how people enjoy their entertainment. I say, if someone wants to read on a kindle, let them. If someone wants to watch a movie on their phone, let them. If someone wants to listen to music on a tape deck, let them.

How we interpret and enjoy any art form is an incredibly personal act. And as such, how we take in that entertainment should be just as personal a choice.

 

YA Lit, Not Just For Kids Anymore

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There is a whole lot of discrimination in people’s reading tastes. Those who enjoy a good space opera, a fantasy series, or some young adult literature are usually put into a secondary class compared to those who would rather read Joyce or Steinbeck.

Now, I’ll read some Joyce, too, but I’m a huge fan of genre fiction, and I don’t want to be judged for it. That’s why it’s refreshing to read an article like the one Alyssa Rosenberg wrote for the Washington Post. Especially after Slate’s disparaging view on the topic.

With The Fault in Our Stars releasing this weekend, and other YA Lit and genre fiction properties catching near everyone’s attention, it appears that a piece like this is well timed and well worth the read.<

Resurrect The Bookstore

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Illustration by 20.20, via Intelligent Life

I was poking around on the Reddit the other day and stumbled upon this cool thing on moreintelligentlife.com. They proposed to four different architecture groups a challenge: design a bookstore that will save… bookstores. In our current era of the Mass Consumption Wars, fought between the bulwarks of the booksmiths and their ancient adversary and current ally, the brick goliaths, and the cybersellers, perhaps what the former side lacks is the latest weaponry.

There’s some interesting visions here, tempered by the realization that “design alone will not save the bookstore” and that, in order to draw people in, you must provide a service and environment that they can’t get from purchasing online. But technology and innovation abound! I particularly like 20.20’s concept.

In 20.20’s bookshop (top) people could do all sorts of things: download reviews and e-books (which would be discounted if bought in person), buy printed books from a frequently edited selection, consult well-informed staff, have a coffee or sandwich, read in cubby­holes, listen to audio books, watch a performance by an author, rent a desk at which to write or illustrate, and self-publish on the in-house printing press. The shop would be called The Art of Storytelling, the thinking being that stories endure, no matter what form books take.

Rent a writing space? Sounds nuts, but I like to get out of the house to write a lot, and if the store provided an environment that I valued (there’s that word again), I’d consider it. And the rest of it, particularly the in-house printing press and the bit about stories enduring, hits me in the feels.

My two cents is, I’d like to have a place where local authors can engage with their local readers, much like musicians do. My nearest indie, the always-stupendous Tattered Cover, hosts a ton of events with nationally touring authors, but I think more could be done for locals, too.

Check out the whole article, it’s a cool read, and encouraging to know that for lovers of bookstores, there’s hope for a bright future.

Great Deals On eBooks

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photo credit: Pavel P. via photopin cc

photo credit: Pavel P. via photopin cc

Finding new authors can be tough. There’s no guarantees for readers, and cost is important. The ability for writers to put their books on sale, or even for free, on places like Amazon.com is a great way for them to hook potential readers.

There’s a site out there that can help you find ebooks that are on sale. It’s called Book Bub. For the price of your email address you can sign up to get alerts on discounted titles, by genre, on a bunch of sites, right to your email inbox. Or you can stop by the site and peruse their lists. I signed up to see scifi and fantasy books and already have half a dozen titles earmarked.

Check it out, and let me know if you find any good ones. Follow @BookBub for updates on sales throughout the day.