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Friday, May 25, 2012

Guest Blog: Tim Baer on E-book Pricing

Today on the MRM blog we are joined by Tim Baer, indie SciFi author of Will Write SciFi for Food and Will Write SciFi for Food, Too, discussing e-book pricing.

Pew!  Pew!  Pew!
(Or, Big Publishing—You're Going Down In Flames!)

There I was, flat on my back, 20,000 miles above the galactic plane, when it struck me!  No, not the fact that traditional publishing is price gouging its customers—it was the caffeine in my coffee.  I blinked my eyes and focused on the road I was driving, raggedly dragging my mind along with that focus.

I spend a lot of time on the road.  A lot.  It's part and parcel with being a truck driver.  Thusly, I get to do a lot of thinking (read: daydreaming).  It's also when I do a lot of my writing—interspersed with moments of frenetic scribbling in a spiral notepad when I get to location before I lose the thought (note to self:  I have got to get a voice recorder).  I now have two anthologies of my short stories out for sale, along with a free, stand-alone short story.  The two anthologies are (what I consider) reasonably priced.  My original one is only 99 cents, and the newer one is $1.99.  Why those prices when traditional publishers are charging so much more?  Because I don't like the price gouging that traditional publishing is inflicting on its customers and I believe e-Books should be less than $5.  That's right—I said it.  Traditional publishing houses are price gouging the consumers (that's you!)—and consumers (that's you!) are happily paying their exorbitant prices.

I've heard too many people fuss online about the Indie Authors and how substandard their books are.  I have to concur.  There are way too many lazy authors out there pimping a substandard ware.  I mean, c'mon—how hard is it to hit f7 and run a simple spellcheck? 

These readers use the poor quality in Indie books to sniff-snuff them and only purchase books by traditional publishing houses.  And the big houses are more than happy to help you in your endeavor by hiking up their prices to ensure you can tell the difference between that 99-cent Indie piece of rubbish, and their $12 slicks.

You think I'm kidding?  I just popped up Amazon and pulled the latest Science Fiction books (the genre I write in).  Penguin is offering one book by Charlaine Harris for $12.99, and another by Deborah Harkness for $14.99.  Simon & Schuster is offering a Stephen King for $12.99.  Let's compare that to the cost of the same books in hardcover.  Charlaine's book is $11.44, Deborah's is $17.37, and Stephen's is $10.00.  So with the exception of Deborah's book, it's cheaper to purchase a hardcover than a Kindle version. 

There is no cost for the electrons used to make a new e-Book, not like there is in the paper and ink that has to be purchased to create another copy of a hardcover book.  So why is the electronic version more expensive than the costlier-to-produce hardcover version?  Because Big Publishing is scamming and gouging the consumer, and the consumer is happily letting them—but I repeat myself.

I'm not saying that I'm on the same level with Mr King's writing abilities.  Far from it.  Compared to him, I am but an egg.  But I am able to weave a competent tale that will take a reader away from reality for a few moments in time and properly entertain them.  I have several characters that my fan base has told me they expect to see more of in the future (well, demanded is more apropos). 

I've priced my books as high as $2.99, which I thought was a fair bargain for the product offered.  If I were selling books by the thousands (instead of by the dozens) I might see their worth as high as $4.99.  But that's it.  I have no overhead in the production of my works—other than time, energy, electricity, and internet connectivity.

Yes, yes—Big Publishing has lots of overhead:  editors, proofreaders, sales staff, marketing staff, advertising—the list goes on.  But when you shy away from dead-tree books and meander over to e-Books, there is a serious drop in overheard.  They don't need to purchase the services of a printer.  They don't need to purchase a warehouse to keep the stock in.  They don't need to hire a trucking company to deliver the final product to the bookstores.  They upload the book to Amazon (or Barnes & Noble) and then that file is electronically duplicated (at no extra charge to them) hundreds/thousands/millions of times.  Pure profit.

So here I am, down on what amounts to the Dollar Menu, while Big Publishing is offering up their Super-sized prices, making the consumer think they are getting more for their money, when, in fact, they are getting the same thing either way—an escape from reality in an entertaining form.  Mine just leaves you with enough cash left over to buy a gallon of gas so you can drive to town to splurge on some donuts to nibble on while you escape into the pages of my worlds.  It's so simple, even Tunk would understand it.  (Sorry, you will have to read about Tunk in Will Write SciFi for Food, Too, available for your Kindle or Nook at your favorite e-Book store!)

It's time the readers sent a clear message to Big Publishing that they are tired of being gouged.  An e-Book should not cost more than the hardcover.  Indie authors are capable of turning out a product that can compete with Big Publishing—and at a fair price.  Be different.  Support Indie Authors.   Viva La RevoluciĆ³n!

Next week we're going to delve into the intricacies of micro-singularities, and whether or not they can be used as a safe and cost effective way to achieve faster-than-light travel.  So brush up on your quantum physics now!

Construction truck driver by day, Indie Author/photographer by night (and opinionated at all times), Tim Baer is a Desert Storm veteran living in Texas with his wife of 20+ years, his two adult children, some dogs, a few Texas horny toads, and a cluster of cats.  When he's not busy driving, pounding out more SciFi on his laptop, or fussing about with his camera, his time is taken up serving his cats, the LORD, his wife, and his dogs—not quite in that order (but don't tell the cats).  The horny toads?  Well, they're too busy eating ants out in the yard.  We'll just leave them alone until such a time as they need to be incorporated into the ongoing story.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Guest Blog: Mike Faricy on Robert Parker's Jesse Stone

Minnesota native Mike Faricy, author of "Russian Roulette" and 7 other funny, quirky crime novels (all available for $2.99 for Kindle), joins us on the blog to discuss PI characters who have been an influence on his writing.  Up today is Robert B. Parker's Jesse Stone.

Thanks to Must Read Mysteries for letting me share my thoughts on PI characters I’ve read and how they influenced my writing. To start, since I seem to have an authority problem, let’s not look at PI characters. I feel like starting with a Chief of Police, although he was an LAPD detective before he was forced out the door. I’m talking about Robert B. Parker’s conflicted protagonist, Jesse Stone.

Best known for his Spenser novels, Parker wrote the first Jesse Stone novel, Night Passage, in 1997. He wrote a total of nine novels in the Jesse Stone series before he passed away in 2010. The last one, Split Image, was published after his death. The Jesse Stone novels are the only ones Parker wrote using the third-person narrative. Michael Brandman has continued the series and penned Robert B. Parker’s Killing the Blues, released in September, 2011.

I like Jesse Stone for a variety of reasons, not the least is he’s one terribly troubled individual. In his early days Jesse was a minor league shortstop who lost his shot at the major leagues once his throwing arm was injured. You get the sense he’s been on relatively thin ice ever since. Parker himself said it best, “Jesse is a much damaged individual who is coming to terms with himself as he goes along.”

Jesse is plagued by recurring demons; drink, depression and his ex-wife. Which came first? Jesse’s divorce from his ‘film star’ wife seems to have lit the fuse to his ongoing battle with drink, scotch and soda being his preference. His drinking forces his departure from the LAPD and guarantees his hire by the Paradise, Massachusetts town council. Jesse, intoxicated at his job interview, gets pegged as an individual the town council will be able to control. They make him an offer he really can’t refuse, by the way, it’s also the only offer he has.

Almost every time he seems to have beaten his drink problem, his ex-wife washes up on shore, leading to a bout of depression and then a drink relapse drifting in her wake. But at least half of that seems to be Jesse’s fault, he’s never really honest with himself where the ex is concerned and then feels blindsided when things don’t work out, yet again. Jesse is complex, damaged, and lacking answers, all of which make for a fascinating read.

The Jesse Stone novels have been turned into made for TV movies on CBS. Tom Selleck is cast as Jesse Stone, you watch about sixty seconds and know there is no one else who could play Jesse Stone as well as Selleck. Actually, Selleck, in conjunction with Michael Brandman wrote the screen plays for the series. The reports I’m reading suggest the most recent movie, Benefit of Doubt, which aired just this past May 20, will be the last Jesse Stone CBS does. Selleck and Brandman suggest this is not the end of the series, just the last one with CBS involvement, I hope the series continues.

The television adaptations differ slightly. In Parker’s novels, Jesse Stone is in his mid thirties. Obviously Selleck plays a more mature character. In Night Passage, Jesse interviews for the chief of police job drunk, in the television adaptation he’s just very hung over. Selleck also, in the most recent production, carries a Colt Commander .45 ACP pistol rather than the Smith & Wesson Model 36 snub nosed revolver, but his portrayal of the dark side of Stone’s personality is uncanny. Jesse Stone is known for his dry, matter of fact one-liners and Tom Selleck delivers them perfectly. In Benefit of Doubt Jesse Stone says, “I think it looks like he hung himself.” 
“Yeah, I think he hung himself,” replies Captain Healy.
“That’s not the same thing,” Jesse says.

Robert B. Parker himself said, “Tom Selleck nails the character.” Indeed he does.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

MRM Reviews: Pam Stack on Mike Faricy's "Russian Roulette"

Devlin Haskell, is not your well dressed, well heeled, fancy-pants private investigator. He has no office and no office phone. He doesn't have a buffed bodyguard and side-kick like Spenser. What this P.I. does have is street smarts, a rogue's wandering eye for the ladies, a little too much to drink and a very intriguing case. Dev, as he's known to his friends, finds himself interested and not always in the professional way, when he is approached by a sexy redheaded tootsie hoping to find her sister. And she's got what Dev assumes is a French accent, making her all the more mouth-watering to him. Mike Faricy's Russian Roulette is a fun, smart and sexy romp to figure out who the tootsie is and why she wants to find her "sister" who isn't her sister. Dev finds himself involved in a human trafficking ring by the Russian mob, who are none to thrilled to have him poking his nose where it doesn't belong. Along the way, our intrepid hero finds himself on the receiving end of some nasty fights where he generally isn't the winner, meets up with an anal-retentive FBI agent out to make a name for himself, and an ICE agent who seems to want to do the right thing by Dev and the victims in his case.

Faricy has put together a well written, taut, fun ride through Dev Haskell's case, complete with a few twists and turns. It's like riding on a roller coaster - you're enjoying yourself, screaming at what you know is sure to happen but scared of what's up ahead. This was one thrilling ride and a highly recommended good time for all.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

MRM Reviews: Pam Stack on Raymond Benson's "The Black Stiletto"

As a kid, I loved to read comic strips and comic books. I loved the Superheroes portrayed in those pages. But once I read The Black Stiletto all thoughts of those childhood comics were stripped away. Imagine meeting a woman in the late 1950s whose sense of justice for a wrong done to her as a young teenager compels her to work hard, train and fight injustice in her world. The "Stiletto" does just that. Raymond Benson has created a character whose feminism and feminist traits were not all that common in those "good ole days". But heroine Judy learns at a young age that to right wrongs, she must take it upon herself to become the equalizer. She trains in boxing, martial arts and reads. I love this character! Judy's adventures are documented through her diaries left to her only child, a son, who is stunned to read about his famous, or rather, infamous, mother. The story flips from Judy's diaries to present day as her life unfolds before the son. There is a point where the action crosses between the past and present day that will keep you glued to the story.

Benson has woven a true superhero without the superpowers, but nonetheless leaves his readers begging for more. I'm certain that we will see a "Black Stiletto 2" soon enough because I for one, cannot get enough of her. You won't either.

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