Popular Q&A Platform Harmful to Writers

Have you heard of Quora? Because Quora may be helping readers steal your books.

You sign up and you can ask questions and get multiple answers from other users on a variety of topics, both personal and technical in nature. Looking for a recipe? Kitchen hack? Relationship advise? Go ahead and ask. The idea is similar to Wikipedia in that users can add their own answers, creating discussion and a wide base of knowledge. You can up or down vote answers to help keep the most useful information more visible.

Sounds good, right?

I don’t remember when or why I joined up. I think I saw a question that I wanted to answer and I was in. I get regular emails from them “Can you answer this question?” I delete them without reading them if I’m not in the mood. No one forces you to answer anything.

Lately, I noticed a scary trend in the questions I was getting (since I have literature as one of my interests on Quora). People were asking where to download free e-books (in general) or free pdf copies of specific titles.

Some titles were classics and difficult to find in electronic format so people directed them to Project Gutenberg and other similar digitization projects.

For the general request, I directed people to the free section of Amazon, or to Smashwords (which is much easier for indie authors to use when it comes to free content and actually has pdfs).

Some titles were newer and not being offered for free. And that’s when I noticed people posting links to pirate sites.

I tried to combat it by answering “Stop stealing from authors. Go to Amazon and buy the book” or something to that effect. “Your library has a digital lending catalogue, go borrow the book if you legit can’t afford it” was added in there, but politer wording.

Obviously, as an author, this upset me, A LOT. Equally as obvious was the fact that I could not fight this, one question at a time. I changed my tactics to include two new things: I contacted the author or publisher of titles I saw people requesting; I contacted Quora support.

I haven’t heard back from any of the authors I contacted. I hope my message did not get lost in cyberspace and that they have someone who can help with the problem on their end. I’m one little indie author with no industry pull, but a few “cease and desist” letters or “copyright infringement” suits against Quora from the big 5 publishers would quickly change things.

Because Quora isn’t interested in changing. I FINALLY got a response to my inquiry with them:

Hello Casia,

The questions referenced in your complaint do not violate any Quora policy. For more info, see: https://qr.ae/TUG6CH.

However, there may be specific answers to those questions that do violate our policy on spam, or some other Quora policy. We suggest that you report specific content you come across that you believe may violate our policies.

You can report questions, answers, comments, and messages by clicking on the ‘more’ menu located beneath the content (e.g., the “…” option), selecting “Report”, and then choosing the appropriate reporting option. Our moderation team will then review the reported content and take action based on our policies and guidelines.

We appreciate your understanding.

Sincerely,

Roger
User Operations
Quora

That’s right. You heard it straight from Quora folks. To be fair, they’re right, there’s nothing illegal with asking “Where can I get TITLE by AUTHOR for free?”. The illegal part is the answers. It’s the fact that people are going “Yeah, I cracked that DRM and have it on my blog, here, download it free”. I saw this. I clicked the links. It worked. (I promptly deleted the file because I will not read stolen copies).

Quora is not interested in protecting authors. That means we have to protect ourselves.

Please share this post with every author you know and in every writing group that you belong to. If you’re with a traditional publisher, warn them about Quora. Joining is free and if they have a social media rep or someone who monitors for copyright infringement online (ie Pirate sites) they should add Quora to the list of sites they are monitoring.

If you do find someone posting illegal links to illegal copies of your book, contact Quora and tell them to take it down or you will take legal action against them. They are legally responsible for the content of their site, even user-generated content.

The world already looks down on our work and undervalues books and authors. This is just one more platform people are using to avoid paying us at all costs.

Advertisements

October Blog Hop – Scary Must-Read

Only a few more days until Halloween. For some people, October is THE month for scary things. For others, scary things, especially scary books, is a year-round passion. We have some authors and book bloggers weighing in on their scariest recommendations, so if you like a scary book, why not try these?

Leslie Conzatti

Leslie Conzatti

Oh boy! There have definitely been a few that I’ve read that definitely creeped me out! For starters, there is Beasts of Babylon by E. A. Copen (a woman who can’t die wants to hunt down the werewolf and the cannibalistic skin-walker who killed her and her two children); Blood Hound by James Osiris Baldwin (a mystic hitman is tapped by the Russian mafia to investigate a string of gruesome occult-related deaths); Floor 21 by Jason Luthor (all of humanity is reduced to living in the upper floors of a tall Tower, since the ground and the lower floors of the skyscraper have been taken over by a sentient, hallucination-inducing, deadly goo called The Creep); Sanctuary by Pauline Creeden is also suitably shiver-inducing (the prophesied apocalypse is facilitated by an alien invasion–one of the effects of which turns ordinary humans into decaying, deathless zombies…). If you are a classic horror/Gothic literature aficionado, I would definitely recommend either Merely This And Nothing More: Edgar Allan Poe Goes Punk or Hideous Progeny: Classic Horror Goes Punk by the friendly, SUPER-talented Writerpunk Press Group! For “spooky” on a lighter note, may I suggest more humorous options like the Grave Reports by R. R. Virdi, or the Portal Prophecies series by C. A. King.

bp

Brandy Potter www.brandypotterbooks.com

Let’s start with the master, Stephen King’s IT. Taking away that one scene (and if you have read the book you KNOW what scene) the book is terrifying. It plays on every child’s nightmares and drags them through to adulthood. Next, the original haunted house story, The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. I have not read it yet, but what a great day to read it on yes? Next we will go to my favorite spooky author of classical literature, and hometown hero, Edgar Allan Poe’s The Cask of Amontillado. I have always loved this story. Finally a more contemporary novel that I love, The Supernaturals by David Goleman.

 

I have read so many deliciously scary books and I would like to recommend Wendigo Whispers by Alex McGilvery for those who love a thriller with a touch of paranormal.

I always want to mention a project I’ve enjoyed heading-up over the last year, and that’s the Twilight Madhouse short story collections. As the acquisitions editor I’ve read over 300 scary short stories for the 4 volumes of Twilight Madhouse and the 1 volume of Hell’s Talisman. We’ve released over 40 stories in these 5 volumes (none written by me) by over 40 authors.

Hell’s Talisman is definitely 18+ but the others are more 14+ (depending on the teen) with stories ranging from black magic to boogey men to twists of fate, labyrinths, and demons. Volume 4 of Twilight Madhouse came out at the beginning of the month and I was beyond impressed with the quality of the stories we received.

If you’re looking for twisty, shivery, short stories I highly recommend these books.

October Blog Hop – A Day Out With a Fictional Character

Wouldn’t it be lovely to spend the day with Mole and Water Rat out on the river? Or perhaps you’d rather visit the Harkers in London? We all have our favourite or most memorable characters and it’s fun to imagine spending real time with them, either in the world of their books, or here in ours.

Jo Linsdell Percy Jackson

Jo Linsdell www.JoLinsdell.com

I’m a bit obsessed with Percy Jackson at the moment and so would have to pick him. He could take me to Camp Half-Blood and show me around. I’d love to see all the different training grounds. It would be awesome to try some of them.

I pretty sure there would never be a dull moment. Percy has a habit of attracting trouble, but he’s also very protective and loyal to his friends so I’d be OK. Adventure is guaranteed. We might even get to go on a quest 🙂

Outlander Season 2 2016

Kim Jacque www.writersideoflife.com

I would love to spend a day with Claire Fraser from Outlander. I first read this book about eighteen years ago and have read the whole series many times since. Obviously, it would be in Scotland in the 18th century not the 20th century. Claire is so capable in any situation, from riding horses to scolding Highlanders and using herbs to treat medical ailments to cavorting in high society.

Leslie Conzatti

Leslie Conzatti www.upstreamwriter.blogspot.com

Okay, so one character in particular I would love to meet and hang out with would probably be Emma from Amy Hopkins’ Talented series! I would stop by her London tea shop for a chat, and we’d just hang out, and maybe we’d find a bookstore (magic or not!) to visit and we’d just bum around London and life would be grand!

Brandy Potter

Brandy Potter www.brandypotterbooks.com

Sooooo many characters to pick. I actually thought about Hannibal Lecter. I decided against that though because if he didn’t like me back it might not end well. Ultimately though, I went with Aphrael/Danae/Flute from David Eddings The Elenium and The Tamuli series. She gets to meet everyone. I do mean everyone from all races and since she is a goddess, she knows all the gods and goddesses too. Meeting all of my favorite characters from those books would be so amazing and that would be the perfect day for me! But I would have to be careful. She does have a way of making people love her and stealing their souls (in a way).

 

casauthor

There were some good answers here, and Danae from The Elenium series would be fun to visit for sure. But I think if I had to pick one for myself (aside from the Winchesters because they’re on TV first and foremost) it would be the Baginses. I would love to spend an afternoon in Bag End with Bilbo and Frodo, perhaps on a day when Gandalf dropped by and the smell of pipe tobacco filled the air. A warm afternoon spent in the garden, watching birds and shadows, eating and drinking and talking. And perhaps a hooded figure will appear at the door in the long dusk shadows and bow and say “at your service” and we will have a little dinner party of our own and hear all the news from the Lonely Mountain.

Good food, a warm hearth, and the best of friends. What could be better?

October Blog Hop – Favourite Book Turned Movie

The dreaded moment. Some big Hollywood studio has announced that they’re turning yet another book into a movie or TV show. Every reader who ever loved the book waits, anxious and fearful. Will they butcher it? Will it live up to the book? Will it *gasp* be better than the book?

Today’s stop in the October Blog Hop asks what book-turned-movie people actually enjoyed.

Leslie Conzatti

Leslie Conzatti www.upstreamwriter.blogspot.com

I would have to say, off the top of my head, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. That was one of those that completely blew my mind with the way it was formatted and written–such beautiful imagery! The unorthodox style, the way the author interrupted himself with “A thought”–I had never seen a book do that with such sincerity. Death as the narrator, too, gave the opportunity for a unique perspective on the most mundane things… I love it when authors do that! And then the movie absolutely 100% did it justice, which is sometimes hard for a movie to do! But there’s other books-turned-movies that I also enjoyed. In fact, I wrote A Blog Post About It. And then there was The One Where The Book Was Still Better. (Yes, I kind of get a little persnickety about film adaptations!)

kim jacque

Kim Jacque www.writersideoflife.com

Ahh, so many to choose from – I love movies made from books! They are some of the most in-depth thoughtful films. My best movie made from a book would have to be The Princess Bride. It is also that most rare of beasts; a movie that is, in fact, better than the book it was based on. I also like Blade Runner, which is based on Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K Dick and Memoirs of A Geisha by Arthur Golden. Both of these are wonderful books and were faithfully made into great movies. It doesn’t matter if you read or watch these first. Both are utterly enjoyable.

 

Brandy Potter www.brandypotterbooks.com

I am about to fool EVERYBODY. Why do I say that? I know that anyone who has read my entries for the blog hop the past few years is thinking “She’s gonna say Lord of the rings.” Nope. Not gonna. Can’t make me! I LOVE the adaptations of Lord of the Rings. However a lot of my favorite scenes from the book are missing. Therefore, not my favorite. And do NOT get me started on The Hobbit…. It’s 1 book people if you can make 3 books into three movies, you should be able to make 1 book into 1 movie like seriously Peter. Ok Ok I digress.

 

So what is my favorite book to movie adaptation……..

So since we said movie, I omitted the 1995 BBC production of Pride and Prejudice as technically that is a mini-series. So my favorite book to movie adaptation is 1995’s Sense and Sensibility starring Emma Thompson. Admittedly there are some characters missing but they weren’t needed. The cast is amazing! And Alan RIckman as Colonel Brandon… sigh.

Second favorite would be 2011 Jane Eyre with Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska. NOT my favorite adaptation of Jane Eyre. They omit too much of her childhood. They sort of have to I get it so that’s why it’s still excellent in my eyes. If you want to know my favorite adaptation, message me and maybe I will talk about it in a vlog post 😉
ElineLovelyAudiobooks

Eline LovelyAudiobooks.info

I’ll cheat here just a little bit. I love the American Gods series! This has been one of my absolute favourite books since I first read it. And I’d say it shaped my idea of what an Urban Fantasy is, which is now one of my favourite genres. Part of me would have liked to see the series closer to the books, but regardless of that it has the feeling of the book to it. I’m very much looking forward to the next seasons.

 

Jo Linsdell www.JoLinsdell.com

I’m obsessed with Percy Jackson at the moment so part of me wants to say those (and yes I think they should have made more films. I personally loved the first two), but there are so many other great film adaptations that deserve a mentions too.

Harry Potter definitely deserves to be on this list, as does the Narnia series. There have been lots of good adaptations of Janes Austen’s books too.

 

Tania Richardson – The Bookworm Mummy  tania_richardson.com

My favourite book turned movie is also one of my favourite movies ever, and that is The Princess Bride, of course! It also happens to be one of those rare adaptations that turns out to be better than the book it’s based upon! This may be due to Goldman buying back the movie rights after The Princess Bride spent 12 years in production hell, and writing the screenplay himself… He had the chance to tell the story exactly how he wanted it, and maybe even improve on the original. Another movie I want to mention is 2004’s The Phantom of the Opera… A movie based on a musical, based on a book and a massive guilty pleasure of mine!

 

casauthor

I’m an odd duck apparently in that I greatly enjoyed Peter Jackson’s vision of Middle Earth. I recently reread The Hobbit with my kids (their first time) and I was amazed that I’d forgotten how slow it was. I think Jackson did a good job of picking up the pace of the stories without losing the richness of the world.

I know the movies don’t follow the books exactly, but I’m not too much of a literalist when it comes to adaptations. I figure if the director and scriptwriter can capture the feeling of the book, the personalities of the characters, and the overarching plot, then it’s a win.

The Hateful Eight – Review

I want to start this off by saying I have seen a lot of Quentin Tarentino’s movies. I was probably too young to see Pulp Fiction the first time I saw Pulp Fiction. I saw Django in theatres, twice. I loved the whole cast of Kill Bill. So, when the previews came out for Hateful Eight I was excited.

I like Samuel L Jackson, Kurt Russel, and Tim Roth and recognized Jennifer Jason Leigh from the Twin Peaks mini-series (the second one, not the original). I liked her in that (where she also worked with Tim Roth).

Now, to the movie itself.

It’s slow. Very slow. By the time I shut it off nothing really had happened. The movie relies on repetitive jokes and Jennifer’s character is punched and hit for laughs because she’s a murderer.

The setting is Wyoming in the winter, within the first few years after the American Civil War. There are several characters hailing from both sides of the war and the political conflict is supposed to add tension, especially with Samuel L Jackson playing a black cavalry officer.

When they arrive at the general goods store/tavern/inn where they plan to whether the storm there is some question as to where the regular owner is and why she left her place in the hands of a Mexican no one has met before. The previews stated that people were going to die and characters hint that someone there may be in league with the murderer, trying to free her before she goes to trial. Add that to the potential mystery of the missing owner and you’ve got a great set-up.

But the set-up takes so long I started losing interest. And then you find out that the Confederate General lost his son and that the black Major killed him. To be fair, the son was in Wyoming to kill blacks so he probably had it coming. But Samuel L Jackson is given a horrible monologue where he taunts the old general about this death, with the purpose of provoking the old man to violence.

At least I assume that was the purpose. This was the point where I shut it off.

Not only does the monologue go into detail about torturing the man in the snow, but then goes into graphic detail about how the Major sexually assaults the man.

That was enough for me.

I was willing to wait out the slow. I was willing to put up with the rather stupid sense of humour. I really wanted to see this movie. I enjoyed Tim Roth’s character immensely, and I loved the coach driver and the Mexican. But I couldn’t watch anymore of this movie.

I was a Tarantino fan. I put movies on my to-see list, simply because he was a part of them. No more. I have zero interest in seeing anymore of his films. His writing has become cheap and uninteresting and I don’t feel like supporting films with this type of content, or the people who create it.

Past Tarantino films I would have given a 4 or 5 stars for clever writing, quick jokes, solid acting, and fast-paced, raunchy, over-the-top stories. I give The Hateful Eight 1 star.

Don’t see this film. It’s a waste of your time.

Review: Tacoma

Tacoma is a first person story based video game. I downloaded a copy on Steam when it was on sale. It’s not too long a game – 10-20 hours tops – but it was enjoyable.

Being story-based the game play was fairly linear. You made your way from module to module in a set order as the game unlocked each area for you. The set-up and setting are:

The lunar transfer station Tacoma has experienced a critical life support failure and all crew have abandoned ship. You have been hired by the station’s corporate owners to retrieve any “black box” data from the station’s various computers and then retrieve the station’s AI wetware core.

As you progress through this mission you have the opportunity to view AR ship logs recorded at various times (from 12 months prior to 12 hours prior). In these recordings the crew of Tacoma (4 women, 2 men) are shown as slightly geometric figures, each colour coded so you know who is who. It seemed weird at first but I actually enjoyed it.

The recordings aren’t on screens, they’re full-body projections that are walking around the space around you, talking to each other. You can access various personal terminals and work stations, go through drawers, and look in closets. As you go you’ll find things that don’t add up, as well as details about the crew.

What I enjoyed most about the game, and what prompted me to write this review, was the diversity. You play a female character named  Amitjyoti (Amy) Ferrier, which is a huge step. First of all, you rarely see yourself but from what you do see, you’re dressed in practical clothing, and you’re not a “white” character. While the character has no speech or hearing impairments she interacts with the computer systems using sign language.

The crew is mostly female, including an African-American woman in charge of the station, an East Indian female medical doctor, and two Caucasian women working as the mechanical engineer (she reminds me of Pam from Archer and they call her Bert, short for Roberta) and the network technician (who is Russian and a bit of a bitch by the way, but you get to love her, I swear)

The two men are an Asian botanist (I do apologize, I am not familiar with the Asian nationalities so I can’t be more specific) and a Caucasian HR director (very British).

On top of the obvious national diversity, there are three couples mentioned in the game. First, the station director and the HR director are having a fling . Second, Bert and Nat (the mechanical engineer and the network tech) are married. Third, the Botanist has a husband and an 18 year old son back on Earth. So there is that diversity as well.

The story is part human-interest, part corporate thriller. The more time you spend examining papers and terminals, the more sense everything starts to make.

The graphics were simple in texture but the environment was detailed – lots of papers and pens and lights and bits and bobs everywhere. The AI, ODIN, whom you meet in the AR recordings, is serious but seems to care about the crew of his station. The interactions between crew members were interesting and realistic without the boring grind of “hey how are you?” “fine, how are you?” over and over again.

The ending was a bit of a jump and the story was short, but otherwise this game was a lot of fun to play and visually appealing. I give this a 4 out of 5.

The Value of Trades

Remember opening your lunch kit in elementary school and there it is, that snack you just hate? For me it was Wagon Wheels (thank god my Mom never bought the damn things) and Gushers (which she did buy, thanks Sis). If there were Gushers in my lunch it was going to be a no good awful day. Unless someone was willing to trade me their granola bar or their cheese and crackers for those damn squishy sugar-water filled sorry excuse for a fruit snack. Technically trades weren’t allowed but if you did it quiet-like and under the table maybe the teacher wouldn’t notice and you’d actually get to eat snack that day.

For writers, trades come in many forms and all of them can be important for marketing and networking.

Blog Hopping

This first type of trade deals in blog posts. You interview me, I’ll interview you. You do a post on my newest release, I’ll do a post on your upcoming reading. Whatever the format or content of this trade the purpose remains the same: expanding your online visibility and reach.

Presumably each author has a different set of followers with some overlap from shared groups. By getting your name and information and book cover on someone else’s blog you are making yourself visible to the unique set of followers they have access to and maybe some of them will be interested in you.

When doing any sort of blog trade be sure to include an author photo, at least one cover photo, and links to the other author’s blog, Facebook page, Twitter, or whatever. Make the post conversational – which is why interviews work so well. You want to generate interest in the person, not sound like a bad sales commercial on the shopping network.

Oh, and make sure you’re trading with someone you can trust to come through on their end of the bargain. Blog trades are free but they do take up time and effort. And if someone burns you in a trade feel free to take down the post. Also, if you see them volunteer to do a trade with someone else quietly and privately offer a warning that you got burned. I never advocate for making a public spectacle of these situations.

Digital Copy Trades

Generally these are the dreaded review trades. I do this a lot because I have a book addiction and no where near enough money to buy as many books as I read in a year. Over the summer I was reading two books a week!

First, be clear on where and when you will review the book and get a clear answer on where and when they will review yours. Is this a blog review? Will they post to Amazon or Goodreads? Will they get to it this week? This month? Next month? Don’t nag but do check in to make sure there are no errors with the file or no emergencies that may cause a delay on their part. There’s nothing wrong with staying in touch and up to date.

Second, a trade has to be mutually beneficial. That not only means both authors get a review and both authors get a free e-book, it also means both authors get a book they are potentially interested in. You need to talk to each other first and make sure you’re both getting a book you’ll actually read and hopefully enjoy.

Third, be clear on what you want the other author to do if they don’t like your book. For me I say as long as you’re willing to post something polite and constructive I don’t care if it’s a 1 or 2 star review. I know other authors don’t like getting 1 and 2 star reviews so they may ask to receive the review by PM and not have it publicly posted. You can ask someone not to post a review but  you cannot ask someone to post a faked review. If they don’t like your book, or if you don’t like theirs, then there shouldn’t be a 5 star review going up. Please. For the continued credibility of book reviews, be honest.

Paperback Trades

I went to When Words Collide, a readercon in Calgary, this August. I could go on for a few blog posts about how awesome WWC is (and I did, you can go read them if you’d like) but for now I will share this one story:

At the mass autograph session I got to talking with another author (who is also a musician) and he gave me a copy of his novella (which comes with a soundtrack!). Yeah. GAVE me a copy. “Here, take it”. So I gave him a copy of my novel, Pieces. There were no strings attached. I do plan to write a review on my blog and we keep in touch a little on social media, but this wasn’t a “you review mine, I review yours” sort of trade.

I highly encourage authors at conventions and other live sales to trade books with other authors. First, it’s a cheap way to build your own library. Second, it’s a cheap way to build connections with other authors. Third, it’s a cheap way to build an audience (I’ll explain that in a minute).

I belong to a local authors’ cooperative and we do a lot of these events together, 2 or more authors at one table or booth with all our books on display – it’s a wonderful experience. Sadly, a lot of authors in the group have never read the books of the other authors. We’re supposed to be supporting each other but we don’t even know what the other books are about, or what the writing style is. This may not sound important but I sold a book by one of my fellow authors because I’d read it and could honestly say I couldn’t put it down, and why it was so exciting to read. Actually, I’ve snagged more than one sale because I’d actually read the book I was trying to sell. I was selling to them as a fellow reader, not as a desperate author, and it worked REALLY well.

And that leads me to:

Benefits

I get it, giving shit away is counter-intuitive. We’ve all done giveaways and free-weekends, and forever-free-first-books and seen minimal translation into hard sales. The internet loves free and books are horribly undervalued. So let me explain why trades are different from other forms of giving shit away.

First – Trades are not like other freebie deals because instead of shouting at the whole world you’re targeting people who like to read, who understand the value of reviews, and who want to support you in some way. General freebies get lots of downloads but never translate into sales because you’re targeting mostly people who like free stuff, and not people who like to read, like to review, or like to support authors.

Authors are great readers but horrible customers. Most of the authors I know fall into one or more of the following categories: living paycheck to paycheck, supporting more than one person on a single reliable income, living with some form of disability which affects their ability to work, raising kids, attending university or college. All those things, in some way shape or form, limit expendable income. Most authors are pretty damn close to broke. So they save their money for those few books that they just HAVE TO HAVE – the next book in a series they love, or by their favourite author. They want to support fellow indies but they don’t have the money and won’t have the money unless they A) make it big or B) you can edge your way into their “Favourite Author” or “Must Have” lists.

In short, they won’t take a chance on your books if they have to spend money on it, not because they’re elitist but because they’re broke.

2) Trades have long been a viable economic structure. I have chickens, you have cows – I’ll trade you some eggs for some milk. You have sheep, I have a garden – I’ll give you veggies in return for winter hats for my kids. You have a book I want to read, I have a book you want to read – let’s swap books and leave each other a review and point other people towards these lovely books we have discovered.

Remember, with a trade you’re not really giving something away, you’re paying for goods with goods, or services with services. Just make sure that the trade is economically fair in both directions.

3) Digital books cost us nothing upfront. Yes, they cost us that elusive “sale” we’re all chasing but you’re not out the cost of paper and shipping. As with my second point, though, you’re not giving it away, you’re exchanging it for something of equal value PLUS, hopefully, a review and some good word of mouth marketing.

4) Personal connection – this is HUGE. You’ve spent some time talking with this other author, either while working a table together at an event, or working neighbouring tables, or you’ve been in an online writing group together. You know what sort of pet they have and if they like notebooks and whether they’re a coffee drinker or a tea drinker. Maybe this isn’t enough to spark a romantic relationship, but you do have a connection to them now. You are more likely to actually read the “free” book you got from this person because of that connection, and they are more likely to read yours for the same reason. This connection is lacking in those “free for 3 days” offers you see on Amazon. Readers download the book but they have no reason to pick it out of their TBR piles because they have no connection to you.

5) Readers sell more books than writers – Who are you going to listen to? Your BFF who just finished reading this awesome book in a genre you both love? Or that guy on your Facebook page who talks about his book ALL THE TIME?

This goes back to what I was saying about my local authors’ group. I’m really good at selling books by other authors because the potential buyer is viewing me as a fellow reader. I have no financial investment in the outcome of their purchase if I’m not selling my book and that makes my opinion more credible.

This is also why I post a link to a review I’ve done when someone posts about their book in a self-promo thread. It’s not to derail or get more views it’s a way of saying “Here, don’t take the author’s word for it. I’m a real reader and this is what I thought of the book.”

But, on that note, it means you have to talk about books you’ve read and enjoyed. And not just the latest by Stephen King or JK Rowling or Cassandra whats-her-name. Talk about the indie books you’ve read just like they’re the latest book by your favourite big name. Read the books in public, talk about them at coffee dates and cocktail parties. I mean, of course talk about your own books in a non-pushy, conversational way too, but I repeat: readers sell more books than writers.

Have you done many trades before? Do you prefer digital or print trades? Did you have a good experience with it? Do you do blog hops and interview swaps? I would love to hear your stories.

 

Casia Schreyer Does Panels

And apparently I’m pretty good at it too.

Sometimes being full of yourself is a necessity. Well, maybe not to that extreme, but my mantra at When Words Collide was: Speak up, be bold, do not be afraid to take up space. And it paid off.

I did three panels this year and would like to take a moment to talk about each of them.

CROSSING GENRES: We spoke on the thrill and difficulties of writing in multiple genres, either in different projects, or in projects that blur the lines between established genres.

Pros: I write fantasy, contemporary lit, and science fiction, and I find the biggest pro is that when people are looking at my books I have a greater chance of having something for them. As someone who reads widely I don’t have a real preference for genre. I don’t write mystery, can’t get the hang of it, but anything else is fair game for me. If there’s a story I want to write, I’ll write it, and I’ll figure out how it fits into genres and my own collection later. This seemed to be the consensus on the panel – we were all happy to write what we enjoyed and figure out what the genre was, who to sell it to, and how to market it, after it was written.

Cons: My fantasy fans are always hounding me for the next book while I’m working on the sci-fi series. For traditionally published authors they may have to find a different publisher if they stray from their established genre. And if you are established in one genre it can be hard to bring fans with you when you write something new.

Nom de Plume: There are pros and cons for using a pen name. It takes time and effort to cultivate a following for each name. On the other hand, fans know what they’re getting when they see the name on the cover. Casia writes fantasy while KC writes contemporary lit (I don’t use a pen name). Some traditional publishers require it because of marketing and branding. We all agreed that if you were writing YA or MG and you also wrote smut that you should use a pen name for the smut.

Genre and marketing: Publishers, book stores, and online publishing platforms are the ones pigeon holing books into genres so they can market them and recommend them to people, and sort them on lists and shelves. Many authors write fantasy that could also be horror, or could also be sci-fi. Or they write literary fiction with a paranormal bent, which is basically fantasy with pretty language and a good moral. Is it a mystery with paranormal elements, or a fantasy with a mysterious plot? Authors don’t always have control over how their book is marketed by the publisher.

This was my first panel ever and I was very nervous but I was the only indie on the panel so I had some unique insights to bring to the conversation. The other panelists were friendly and knowledgeable and no one person dominated the session. As an introduction to this type of speaking it was perfect for me and I hope those who attended enjoyed themselves.

YOUNG ADULT TO NEW ADULT:I could write a whole post on this subject!

There’s been a shift in YA literature. It used to be for teens, 14+, now it’s for kids as young as 10. Which isn’t a problem, except that over half the buying and reading market for YA lit are adults. Which means the YA category gets broken into young or lower YA (for 10-15 year olds – what used to be MG) YA (14-18) and upper YA (17+). NA looks to fill that crossover market, writing books that sound and feel like YA but feature protagonists who are in college or out of school completely as compared to being in junior high or high school.

The age of the protagonist and the maturity level of the content (violence, swearing, sex, politics, etc) are mainly what mark the difference between NA and YA but there is a large grey area between them and a lot of crossover depending on the interest and maturity of the reader.

PEN TO PAPER: When writing doesn’t look like putting words on the page.

We discussed outlining, doodling, world building, daydreaming, and brainstorming. We talked about where our inspiration came from and the types of activities we filled our time with while we were pondering or working through writers’ block.

Repetitive, mindless, physical activity, be it yoga, chopping wood, mowing the lawn, taking a walk, doing dishes, etc, was brought up time and again as a way to keep the body busy and distracted while the mind is free to wander.

We talked about visiting the settings of our stories, or if we wrote fantasy at least visiting museums and such places to get a feel for the time period we were basing our fantasy world in.

We discussed music as inspiration and as motivator (and we were split down the middle with two of us preferring silence and two of us using music to fuel our writing).

We weren’t very talented with art but map making was one of the doodling things we did for inspiration. That, and timelines and calendars for working through writers’ block.

And that was my experience doing panels. I admit, I was nervous, but I had a great time and I learned a lot. I hope other people learned something from me.

When Words Collide 2017

When Words Collide is a writers’ conference held in Calgary each year in August. They host 3 days of panels and workshops plus some additional “master classes”. The major sponsors of the event are IFWA, the Albert Writer’s Guild and the Alberta Romance Writers’ Association. They also host a merchant’s room and several evening social events over the weekend. Each year they have six or so headlining “celebrities” including authors, agents, and editors.

And most impressive, in my opinion, is that the whole thing is run by volunteers. Registration is manned by volunteers. If you want your book on the Shared Author table you volunteer an hour at the table. Volunteers do head counts at the sessions and watch the clock for the presenters. Volunteers fill out the panels and run the workshops.

They offer a variety of programming for all authors and readers. Sessions on the business end of writing, on every genre in general and panels on specifics like world building, how to kill characters, how to write about fighting or time travel, and so much more.

The social events included a Steampunk party, a pajama party, a Poetry Slam, an evening of erotic readings, book launch parties, and general socials over at the pub. There was a banquet and a mass autograph session (which was loud, friendly, and more fun than I expected!)

This was my first writing conference ever and I can say it was beyond all my expectations. Everyone was friendly. Everything was fun and casual and entertaining and educational. I will be back next year, without a doubt.

Stay tuned for two more posts: one on the panels I spoke on and one on the sessions I attended.

My Trip To Calgary

This is the first in a series of entries about my recent trip West. This post will be about the flight, my in-Calgary transportation experiences, and my hotel. I will also be doing one on the When Words Collide conference in general, one on the panels I spoke on, and one on the sessions I sat in on.

I left home mid-morning on Thursday August 10th and arrived in Calgary around 2pm local time. It was a fairly empty flight and West Jet was clean, prompt, and professional. Their staff was friendly, and while I had no special needs (wheelchair, children, etc) I watched them handle all their customers with care and respect.

I had done some research before leaving and planned to take the bus to my hotel. The signs in the airport made it easy to find my way out and I ended up right where I needed to be to buy my bus pass. I caught the next 300 BRT and was on my way. I got off the bus a few stops early so I could walk a few blocks, stretch my legs, and take in a little of downtown Calgary, then onto the C-Train (201) which was so easy to use. I’m from a little big-city so we don’t have anything like the C-Train, no subway either. From the C-Train station I wandered down to the bus stop and asked one of the drivers which bus I needed to get to the intersection I was looking for. They pointed me to the right bus (Transit drivers are amazing people) and I was dropped on the hotel’s doorstep. Took me close to 2 hours instead of 40 minutes but it was cheaper than the cab and super easy.

I stayed at the Delta Hotel, the Calgary South location. Checking in was a breeze and they upgraded me to a king-room. The room was clean and had all the necessary comforts. I settled in, got myself some snacks from the Wal-mart across the street, and spent some time at the pool. They have a great water slide with a pool and hot tub in the Tower building and a second pool and hot tub in the Atrium building.

The Delta is actually two buildings with a road between them but there’s a skywalk on the third floor. There are signs pointing to all the conference rooms and back to the elevators. I got turned around a few times but only because I was texting and not looking up!

The lunch bar they had available for conference attendees was delicious. And I had dinner at the pub next door the one night (Boomtown Pub), their pizza is fantastic.

My only complaint with the room, okay, there were two things. One, there was a shower but no tub. I’m assuming this is because I was in a king room and if I got a double with my husband and kids there would be a tub to bathe the wee ones in. 2 – my room was freezing and adjusting the in-room thermostat seemed to do nothing. Considering how little time I spent in my room it was a small complaint.

Checking out was just as easy and there was a cab on hand so off to the airport I went again. Security at the Calgary airport was slower than at home but it is a bigger airport. Still, wait times were not unreasonable and the staff was efficient and friendly.

I was on a full flight headed East but again the staff was friendly and the flight was clean and on time.

I was nervous going on this trip. I was travelling alone to a city I’d never visited before and I wasn’t there to stay with family or friends. Everyone I dealt with at the airports, on the flights, and at the hotel, including house keeping, was polite, friendly, and helpful. It made the trip much easier, and far more enjoyable.