2018 April/May/June Update:

As you know, most of the year I publish 2 to 3 articles a day.

However, every year during convention season, I take a break from that to go full swing CosPlay.

From early April 2018 to late June 2018, article posting schedule will be sporadic, while CosPlay Season and Convention events are going full swing.

During this time period, you can expect most, possible all new articles to be focused on costume making, CosPlay, and the characters I'm CosPlaying.

UPDATE: It's now divided into 7 pages. The primary page "Meet Avallach" is now over 20,000 words long. At this rate, it'll cross 60,000 long before the costume is finished, and that's not including the other 5 pages. The primary page has now crossed 60,000 89,000 words and counting, the whole set of Avallac'h pages are now more than 200,000 words long, and more then 500 pictures of Avallac'h and his friends have now been uploaded on these pages, plus there are now 400+ hour-long videos f the costume making process as we record live, every second of this insanely elaborate, over the top CosPlay project.

As of May 19, just 29 days to PortCon we are embroidering his blue coat in a countdown against the clock to finish in time for the event, while we pray that The Dazzling Razzberry will be re-weilded back together and drivable in time for PortCon, after it's recent vandalism by Old Orchard Beach's ever growing Ku Klux Klan problem.

There will still be daily updates, but the BULK of the daily updates will be limited to the pages linked here:

  1. The Avallac'h CosPlay: Who is Avallac'h?
  2. Obsession: Meet Avallac'h
  3. [NSFW] Avallac'h & His Nude Women | Witcher 3 Game Screenshots
  4. Historical Accuracy vs Avallac'h (to go live later this summer)
  5. The Avallac'h CosPlay Costume Making Vlogs (will go live AFTER finishing the costume)
  6. How To Make The Avallac'h CosPlay (will go live AFTER PortCon)
  7. How Much Did It Cost? ($800+ will run to around $3,000) Budgeting The Avallac'h CosPlay (eing written as the costume is being made, will go live after completion of the costume)
  8. Why do children CosPlay rapists & rape victims? & WHY Avallac'h is a M18+ character. 
  9. PortConMaine 2018
  10. On Being a Handicapped CosPlayer: A Look At Events of PortConMaine 2017 That Resulted In 3 Disabled CosPlayers Getting hurt at The Convention and How These Things Could Have Been Avoided


After PortCon Update:

PortCon 2018 is over... but the making of the Avallac'h CosPlay is not. It is not possible to make a costume as detailed as I'm making in fewer then 400 hours, and only 129 hours went into the simplified first run version you saw at PortCon'18. The complete version will not be seen until PortCon'19

If you want to see this costume in person and watch it's progression onward as I continue to expand it... I'll be wearing it at the monthly Maine Association of CosPlay Enthusiasts (M.A.C.E.) events, throughout 2018 and 2019, you are welcome to join us. The list of current events can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/293470827423558/events/ This list is updated monthly, so be sure to check back often to find all the dates, locations, and details of events.



Trade Publishing vs Self-publishing - Some Thoughts From a Hybrid Published Author




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[quote author=bmcox link=topic=180214.msg2538422#msg2538422 date=1393886763]

The first story, “The Memory of a Salt Shaker,” is free and has moved around 5500 copies without much marketing. I released two other shorts ("La Chanson de l’Observation" and "The Space Within These Lines Is Not Dedicated") but didn’t do any marketing, hence they haven’t sold many copies. I knew that would happen, but I did expect that the two stories would get some spillover from the free book. Some, but they’ve only sold about 15 to 20 copies each.[/quote]


Considering the genre, that's pretty high, (5,500) even for a free story. Short stories (singles, collections, and anthologies) are a hard sell regardless of genre, and the more niched the genre, the harder it is to sell. I know.  Yeah, we short story writers like to make it hard on ourselves by writing stuff there is no demand for.

In 36 years I have put out just over 200 stories and the most any of them has sold was 7,000 copies. Most of the titles sold in the range of fewer than 2,000 copies, and quite a few sold fewer than 100 copies. I think the lowest number was a title which has to date only sold 27 copies.

I've talked to lots and lots of short story authors over the years and near as I can tell, I'm actually doing far better than quite a few of them. I've seen many short story writers complain that their sales always flatlined after 500.

Every title they put out, they couldn't get more than 500 sales. Even top selling short story writers (Dean Wesley Smith comes to mind) have said they are hard pressed to make a story sell past 2,000 copies and that this is why short story writers have to keep putting out new titles every week or so.


[quote author=bmcox link=topic=180214.msg2538422#msg2538422 date=1393886763]

In this plan, the difference between choosing traditional and self-publishing is book reviewers/bloggers. I wouldn't really be able to get the book into websites like The Millions or Rumpus, or really any smaller book reviewers where this collection may fit because they do not take self-published books. 

[/quote]



I think newbie authors put way to much weight on reviews. Reviews are meaningless drivel. They are nothing but one person ranting hate or gushing love. In both cases they do it to gain some sort of self perceived recognition and do not have the book or the author's well being in mind. I can't understand why so many newbie authors obsess over reviews.

I've been self publishing since 1978. We didn't have reviews back then, because we didn't have Amazon back then. I grew up in a publishing era where reviews did not exist. I didn't understand why young authors today are so hung up on reviews.


[quote author=bmcox link=topic=180214.msg2538422#msg2538422 date=1393886763]

The second are available awards for the book are limited or not as respected as those in the traditional markets. The awards are helpful for marketing my day job as a college instructor of creative writing. As such, a self-published book won’t carry weight in my CV when applying to tenure-track positions.  

[/quote]



I'm not familiar with awards. I've never looked into it. I'm not someone who feels a need to prove myself or compete or be better than anyone, so seeking out awards is something I see as a pointless waste of time.

If you need awards to feel good about yourself, then go look for them, though, I'd think their were other better ways to boost your self esteme. I don't think getting an Award will help you fell good about yourself long term, and then if you don't win the award yu'll only fell worse about yourself, defeating you reason for seeking the award.

I can't see the point of gaining respect or approval from others by seeking awards. Just be a respectable person.


[quote author=bmcox link=topic=180214.msg2538422#msg2538422 date=1393886763]

If I self-publish I am not expecting to make much money, but my target would be to move 4000-8000 copies, about two times more than a small/university press run. I think if I hit that sales target, then that may offset some of the negative stigma associated with self-publishing I may face in academia, because they would want to know how I did it. But it could also be a non-starter despite of large sales. Also, the realistic expectation, even with promotion, is much lower, maybe 500 copies.

Has anyone faced a similar problem? Any thoughts?

[/quote]



According to Amazon's publicly released tax records, out of some 8 million Kindle authors, fewer then 100,000 of them are earning over $10,000 income a year. More then 7 million of them are earning under $5,000 a year.

If you look at the sales ranks of the books on Amazon, you can see what income you can expect.

While a few authors here and there sell a few hundred books a month. MOST Kindle authors struggle to sell a single, solitary copy a month. This is across all genres. The smaller the genre, the smaller the sales.

Literary short stories? It could take you 10 years or more to see 500 copies of you book sold.

The reason Universities get their numbers, is because they have a set group of followers they can expect to buy everything they put out.

You on your own however... you are starting from scratch as an unknown and you don't have that group of devoted fans the university press already has. 

So you can expect fewer sales then them, not more. Less then half, not double.

This unfortunately is the harsh reality of this genre.


[quote author=bmcox link=topic=180214.msg2538422#msg2538422 date=1393886763]

Is there a literary/slipstream/magic realism fiction self-publishing network out there?

[/quote]



There are a few. I've never joined any. I know there are a couple of FaceBook grounds. Colleges usually have some sort of offline book clubs for authors.

I'd look into your local community college as they'd likely have one.


[quote author=bmcox link=topic=180214.msg2538422#msg2538422 date=1393886763]

What resources are available to self-published literary/slipstream/magic realism books?

[/quote]



What do you mean by resources? How are resources for writing different from one genre to another? Software, word processor, editing methods, writing advice, is always the same no matter what genre you write.


[quote author=bmcox link=topic=180214.msg2538422#msg2538422 date=1393886763]

Has anyone had success advertising in these genres on places like Bookbub?

[/quote]



I have never tried BookBub.

The reason being, is that my understanding of it, from what I've read other authors say on their blogs, was that it's very difficult to move many, if any copies of a book, outside of Romance and Thriller on BookBub.

I went an checked BookBub's own chart of typical copies downloaded and sold, for each genre and the numbers are pretty small in everything not Romance.

And even in Romance, only the FREE giveaways are getting many numbers. The .99c deals may only have a 1,000 or so downloads, $1.99 deals maybe get 500 and the $2.99 deals struggle to pass 100.

Those numbers really don't say too much. I mean, those are the BIG genres like Romance. Most of the small genres don't even get sales at all and only get a couple hundred free downloads.

Unless something changes with the type of person who joins BookBub, I can't see it having much advantage.

Of course, BookBub website is also pretty shoddy. It's just one of those free hosted sites. What is it, Wix or something? They really need to change their site host, use something that is not a generic template, and make their site look at least like they TRIED to put some effort into it.

Maybe in the future when they have more members it might be a good thing, but right now they are still new, and they're just so many books a couple thousand members can download.

Think about it. They've barely got 3,000 members and the bulk of these members are just ebook hoarders who are looking to mass download free ebooks they'll never read.

People who download free ebooks don't often read the books, rarely if ever leave reviews, never buy your other books, and if they do leave a reviews it's always a 1 star snark that says: "Glad this piece of shit was free. Didn't cost me any money to delete this trash on my device."

It's also a known fact that there are groups of "reviewers" (trolls maskerquarding as reviewers) who do nothing but look for free books just so they can leave fake 1 star reviews with the "verified purchase" tag on it. You risk getting hit by those via BookBub.

Search for author blogs, authors who tell of their BookBub experiance. Once in a while you'll find someone who shares it as a good experiance, but most tell nightmare stories of their books being swamped with HUNDREDS of nasty, snarky, hate filled 1 star reviews... the reviews being made only seconds after the book was downloaded, proving they did not read the book and only downloaded it for the purpose of getting the "verified tag".

It's also a known fact that the bulk of these people downloading with the intend to attack, are self published authors, who believe that by 1 staring their competition, they'll boost their own books in the ranks.

Amazon has made several announcments about this problem, and has banned well over 5,000 of these vindictive 1-star digging self published authors just in the last few months.

These author wars are getting out of control in the Amazon reviews, to the point, I don't even look at the reviews before buying a book any more. These days you have to sift through mountains of childish self published authors, snarking in 1 star reviews to find any real live book reader who actually left an actual real live review.

BookBub is a large part of why the recent increase in the shitty, unprofessionalls, being btchy in book reviews on Amazon. The bulk of BookBub's members are NOT readers but rather self pubbed authors.

So, until BookBub cleans up their site and starts attracting real live actual readers instead of authors looking to claw their way to the top by attacking other authors, I'd say stay away from BookBub.


[quote author=bmcox link=topic=180214.msg2538422#msg2538422 date=1393886763]

Is anyone successfully self-publishing fiction along these lines?

[/quote]



I am. Though that depends to on what you consider successful.

I've seen authors say they were successful after 10 sales of a book and others have 100,000 sales and bitch and complain they were not successful because it was less then a million books sold.

You need to define your terms of success, what you feel success it, and then set your goals at reaching it.


[quote author=bmcox link=topic=180214.msg2538422#msg2538422 date=1393886763]

What legit book awards are out there? Ones that are well respected and not tied up in award mills.

[/quote]



I've never looked into any awards or contests or that type of stuff, so I do not have an answer for you. I'm not someone motivated by rewards or prizes. The concept of competition seems to me like a pointless waste of time and energy. I remain baffled as to why there exist people who are driven only by their need to be better than others or reach the top or get rewards. It seems like such an alien thing to do. Whenever I see people like that I have to step back and ask myself if they are even Human. It's just so bizarre.

My understanding of book awards is they are usually put out by literary presses owned by colleges, so I would try looking at colleges known for literary programs and see what contests they have.

Small press magazines probably do them as well. But I never hear about big book publishers doing it.

If I was going to look for book contests, I would look only for ones run by colleges, reputable magazines, and publishers who've been around a while. I'd avoid any that asked for entry fees and I'd check Writer's Beware to make sure they were not listed as a known scam.


[quote author=bmcox link=topic=180214.msg2538422#msg2538422 date=1393886763]

Does it make sense for a self-publisher or indie author to hire an editor?

[/quote]



Yes. Get the best editor you can afford. If at first you can't afford an editor, at least have a few friends edit it. Once you can afford an editor, go back and edit it, then reupload the file.

My own books go through at least 7 edits, by at least 3 editors.

Editors come in all price ranges.

My favourite editors are local colleges.

I have a college professor that I work with. She likes to teach hands on editing, and hands out editing assignments to her class. She'll pass out chapters of books from various local authors, to her 30 students each semester. The students have 45 minutes to read, edit, and comment on the chapter. Comments vary from one line "This sucks" or "I liked it" to an entire 3 page essay on every detail they tripped up over. It provides wonderful feedback, and gives me an unbiased readers point of view on editing. Because they don't know who the author is, they don't have expectations.

So that's an example of free editing out there.

On the other end, you could spend a few thousand dollars on a professional editor.

Which is better? Oddly, I've found students doing it as a class assignment catch more errors then the professional editors. I think this because they are tring had to get an A in class, so they look harder, as opposed to the other one who's getting paid if they miss a few things or not.

I think it's best to have multiple eyes, of multiple experience levels on the draft. Every editor has things they miss, so the more editors the better.


[quote author=bmcox link=topic=180214.msg2538422#msg2538422 date=1393886763]

The problem, as I see it, is that even with a marketing plan, this collection of stories is a hard sell. It’s eclectic and super niche. Here’s the rough blurb I’m working on for the collection.

[i]Within these lines exist an ordinary salt shaker that allows a man to see his life through the eyes of his deceased wife; a woman who discovers a dragon living under her house; a man searching for his partner’s lost painting; a cicada who tells a young woman that she will die in three days unless she gives him her potential; an alien sociologist who falls in love with his human subject; and a woman caring for her partner who suffers from a strange form of dementia. 

[u]The Space Within These Lines [/u]is a collection of six magical realist short stories exploring love, loss, and memory. [/i]

[/quote]


I write a little itty bitty genre, which is a sub-genre, inside of a sub-genre, so a teeny tiny niche inside of a super small niche. Basically alien cats, hiding from 6foot tall bird men, hiding on a little backwoods planet called Earth, and in needing to find something to do while exiled here, they move into a haunted house, which humans say is overrun with vampires; the cats discover there's no such thing as vampires, but there is a race of humanoid aliens trapped on Earth and living off the only food source able to sustain them (human flesh and blood), and they crashed on Earth in a stolen star ship, after a comet obliterated their planet, and they've been barely surviving on Earth for 900 years; the cats decide to record the history of these creatures, not realizing that 500 years of eating human brains has driven the 900 year old leader out of his mind. The whole series is 200+ stories told by a talking black cat as she retells to the other cats, the stories told to her by the utterly insane alien vampire.

It runs rampant were slasher-flick splatterpunk gore and bad b-movie sex = serial killer's gonna get you, amid 70s style characters having lengthy conversations with chocolate pudding while pink penguins dance by, and a great big flying pirate ship sails over head as it's rum-running 1920s gangster crew takes out people on the ground with their Tommy-guns. Yet, as off the wall and insane as the stories are, if one was to read several of the stories, you start to see a pattern - they are told to the cat, by a man who has not been able to tell up from down, fantasy from reality since his wife was murdered, and readers have no clue if anything the cats are saying this man told them, really happened or not. All you know is, this is what it's like to live inside this man's head. This is how he sees the world. The whole story is basically how this man adjusts to living without his wife. And the whole thing is set in 1600s New England/Quebec.

There is no genre that it neatly fits into, and critics have called it "Absurdist Space Horror". Every person who's ever read it and than talked to me in person has said of it: "What the hell were you smoking when you wrote that, it's the most insane thing I've ever read! I don't know if I should love it or hate it. I still don't even know what I read."

But, yeah, that's The Twighlight Manor series in a nutshell. Absolute insanity and utter nonsense - 3million words of it. I've had a lot of readers request I do novels for the series, but I'm just not a novel writer, I've tried, but it doesn't work. Short stories are my thing. Everyone tells me the same thing: novels are easier to market; sales of short stories suck.

Yeah, I know, novels market better, but I like what I do. I like writing short stories. I'm happy where I am.

Which brings me to...


[quote author=bmcox link=topic=180214.msg2538422#msg2538422 date=1393886763]

I’ve enjoyed self-publishing 

[/quote]



This should be highlighted.

Why?

Because there is very little in life that one can do as a source of income and say they enjoy it. Think about it: how many people tell you they love their job?

Everyone is always complaining that

  • "someday, they'll live their dream"....
  • "someday they'll write that book"...
  • "someday they will get out from under this dull dead end job and do what they enjoy doing"...

...someday never comes for them. Someday only comes, if you stop wishing for it and start living the dream.


[quote author=bmcox link=topic=180214.msg2538422#msg2538422 date=1393886763]

I’ve enjoyed self-publishing 

[/quote]



Those three little words right there, I think are the most important thing you said in this post.

Self-publishing is something you enjoy.

It makes you happy.

That's a good thing.


[quote author=bmcox link=topic=180214.msg2538422#msg2538422 date=1393886763]

Finally, should I self-publish or try submitting to trad-publishers again? Has anyone gone this direction?

[/quote]


I started out trade publishing. My early stories were kid-friendly and appeared in Cricket, Jack&Jill, Friend, New Era, etc, etc, etc. But as my series grew, so did it's adult nature, and it became harder and harder to find publishers for it. By the 1980s it was very violent and bloody, and by the 1990s it start including graphic sex, rape, taboo fetishes. In 1997 the USA government passed that child safety act law that requires me to put the "COPPA/CDA/CIPA/Obscenity/18 U.S.C. § 2257 Compliance & Disclaimers" notice in all of my stories (due to the fact that all the male characters are over 70 years old, yet all the female characters are under 14 years old) along with an "M-Rated" (not for readers under 21) warning label on the covers.

The passing of the U.S.C. § 2257 Compliance Law in 1997 was the coffin nail that ended my trade publishing career for good. No trade publisher will touch the Twighlight Manor series today - it has nasty reputation among editors and publishers for being "the most vile work of immoral debauchery since Comte de Sade's Nights in Sodom" (direct quote of a reviewer).

I was faced with 2 options: rewrite 20 years worth of stories (set in the 1400s) to change the ages of the female characters to over 18 (which is historically inaccurate as the age of consent in the 1600s in America was 10 - it was not increased to 12 until the 1800s and it was not increase to 14 until the 1950s, and was not increased to 16 until 1970s...taking into consideration most of the stories were written in the 1970s when the legal age of consent was still 14, there was nothing illegal about the stories at the time of their original publication - heck I've been with my partner since I was 12, he's 30 years older than me - it was not illegal back than, and being old enough to remember 14 years old being the age of consent here in America, I have hard time not laughing at the U.S.C. § 2257 Compliance law)...or self publish all future volumes.

Unfortunately the passing of the 1997 U.S.C. § 2257 Compliance law also meant that publishers pulled my books off the shelves and took them out of print...because the characters in my books were the same ages as myself and my husband and that's illegal now...when the law passed in 1997 I actually had to go to court and testify to keep my husband from doing 40 years in prison, because I was 12 and he was 42 when we got married, all those years before the law was passed.

Americans do not consider culture (we are Gypsies and NO female ever marries after 18, they are too old to be marriageable by that point. ALL females are married BEFORE they are 14.) or religion (we are LDS/Mormons and church doctrine teaches it is a sin for a girl to reach 16 years of age un married.)

So I ended up getting back all the publishing rights to my work, and set about self publishing it instead. I'm doing much better now (both sales and income wise) than I was in trade. In trade, I could usually expect my story to be published in a magazine, see a shelf life of 3 months at most, and than disappear into obscurity. This resulted in me needing to write a new story every other month, in order to bring in pennies a day.

Today?

My story remains intact, original character ages, but thanks to the U.S.C. § 2257 Compliance law people are literally terrified to buy any book requiring the U.S.C. § 2257 Compliance Disclaimer on it, because the way the law is worded, it can be assumed that just owning a book with the U.S.C. § 2257 Compliance Disclaimer on it is enough to land you in prison. It makes it difficult for me to keep the older stories in print, basically about 100 of my titles can ONLY be published via vanity press through local copy shops, because places like Amazon and Lulu not distribute books with the U.S.C. § 2257 Compliance Disclaimer label on it. The U.S.C. § 2257 Compliance Disclaimer is basically a warning label that states "this book is a work of child pornography and you could go to prison for buying it", all because the main character of my series married a girl at the same ages my husband married me and the stories describe their sex life in vivid detail. 

In the newer stories, I've simply left off mentioning ages at all, relying on readers to have read the older stories to know character ages. It's the only way I can publish new stories these days - even on Kindle. 

This is also why the switch in focus of the series in recent years, to shift the older (in age) characters into main character positions, characters who used to only be mentioned in passing.




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