Youngblood Blog

Writing weblog, local, topical, personal, spiritual

Insecure Writers: Self-publish Woes and Wows

Alex is at it again: another month, another post for his hugely supportive (and supported) Insecure Writers’ Support Group. And a bloghop –226 other blogs to visit, at time of writing!

I wanted to write about a couple more personal insecurities, but the idea got knocked sideways by a post from the prolific David Gaughran, a 34-year old Irish writer, living from time to time in Sweden, but spending a lot of his working life traveling the world, collecting stories, and writing about his adventures! How fortunate, you say. His advice behind the scenes comes with a punch, too. So it’s not all dancing in the tropical moonlight and storming into Valparaiso (although he does that).

His books are — like Amanda Hocking’s — all published in e-format. So he is an expert in the self-publish world.

While many of us continue to dream of being picked up by the ‘majors’, while we’re waiting, there is no harm whatsoever in self-publishing a few e-books.

Or is there?

CAVEAT EMPTOR

Book Country overhead costs do not amuse

There are pitfalls. And David (along with several other authors, like Joe Konrath, Katie Salidas, and Linda Welch), have picked up one of the real BAD GUYS. Ahem, yes, it’s Book Country — an arm of Penguin.

According to David, Penguin’s self-publish arm is ‘actively targeting inexperienced writers’. They say they are offering the lure, oops opportunity, for young writers to ‘make a name for themselves.’

Book Country began last April as a place for authors to post their work for critique. Then in the fall they announced a program to turn manuscripts posted on their website into e-books and paper books.

Warner Bros 'Happy Feet' penguins would not be happy

“A new kind of self-publishing that offers a more professional product and provides guidance that currently isn’t available to players.”

‘Our self-publishing process has been designed by a team of book industry professionals to make the experience as accessible, convenient, and affordable as possible’

Their ‘basic package’ is $99 for ‘user-formatted’ books. ‘User-formatted’ means you, the author do your own formatting.

But for $549 they will ‘help the writer’ format both e-book and print book, and then upload it to retailers.

Or for $299 they will let you do your own formatting, and then upload the book to retailers for you.

This is ‘affordable’????? Does it not sound a little like Vanity press?

Questions are now being asked about such huge fees; and about the massive royalty cut they take on top of that (after charges taken by retailers such as Amazon). If you are a newbie, it all sounds a bit much.

Let’s say you are a budding writer who has entered their site simply to share your new flow with other writers, to get some feedback, to know if what you thought you had written was good…and you saw their ‘suggestion’ to ‘share your work with a larger audience'; ‘signed in’ to their new offerings (small print: you have to agree to ALL their terms and conditions before entering — i.e. no backing out. It’s a contract.) It rather dents the newbie writerly ego a little to find that in the end, you have spent all that money and can be almost certain your royalties, if any, will be minimal.

There’s more. Penguin — because they have you ‘signed’ — keep 30% of your royalties. And although the beauty of royalties is that they keep on coming in when your book sells, in this ‘contract’ you keep on paying Penguin.

Here’s how it breaks down. For sales on the Book Country site itself, writers receive 70% royalties. This part, at least, is justifiable. Book Country are providing a retail platform, they are processing the sales, and dealing with the customers. And it’s a comparable percentage to the major retailers. Plus their name is a biggie.

However, through Book Country, you can also sell your book on those major retailers, such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble. This is where the real trouble starts.

On pages such as this one, they claim that writers will “earn 70% on your sales when priced at $2.99 or higher on all channels.” This is an extremely disingenuous claim, as it is not 70% of your cover price, but 70% of the money Book Country receive from retailers.

How do new writers figure this out without testing the waters themselves?

There is a simpler way.

It takes a little time and application to learn the format process, but I’ve done it with my aging braincells, so if I can do it, you can do it.

After formatting, you should upload your books to Createspace, Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords on your own (takes about an hour) for FREE and you’re done. You’re published. That’s all there is to it. There seems to be no added reason why — after you’ve learned how to format and done all that hard work — you should pay Penguin to upload it for you. Now, does there?

Helping others up the thorny ladder to publishing success: Marian Youngblood

All that said — thank you Alex for allowing a rather irritable insecurity to be voiced — I need to encourage all new/young writers at least to TRY the self-publish method.

I published my ‘Phantom’s Child’ (sidebar right) that way and its historical/suspense theme seems to be catching on. It is beginning to take off. Last week author Pat Bertram kindly interviewed me on the process.

She, like our Ninja host, is an author who holds out her hand to help others up this thorny ladder we’ve placed in front of ourselves.

In the daunting milieu of what the publishing world is becoming, every little bit helps.

So, as we wend our way into the depths of winter — shortest day is only two weeks away and then it’s all going to look better –solar flares, radiation storms, power blackouts notwithstanding (next blog down on this page)– we do have much to look forward to when the light returns: this publishing business is gradually, slowly, finally, starting to give a little back to the hard-working author… fingers crossed.
©2011 Marian Youngblood

December 7, 2011 Posted by | authors, blogging, fiction, novel, publishing, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Solar Radiation Storms and Crossroads in Time

Erupting solar flares send spaceweather to Earth, but electromagnetic field changes also affect human temperament

On November 28th, 2011 a massive radiation storm hit Earth’s electromagnetic field — a direct hit from the sun’s Earth-facing side, exaggerated by the Northern hemisphere’s attitude to our solar parent. Freak storms have been experienced in the last week in all northern latitudes — from Southern (!) California to Oregon to the Midwest to New England to the mid-Atlantic ridge (including Iceland), following on previous eruptions in the Canary Islands (El Hierro, November 10th), and Nyamulagira, Congo. The current European and Asian storms stretch north through Great Britain, Orkney and Scandinavia to the Russian steppes. There have been spectacular aurorae borealis.

Most remarkable of all is that Northern Scotland (57ºN latitude) was almost the last to be hit. Throughout November, temperatures remained a balmy 50ºF. Even (spring-flowering) gorse burst into bloom. It recalled an equally abnormal episode in April this year, where temperatures in the same corner of Scotland hit all-time highs.

Then Nature descended in spades. 160mph winds hit the Hebrides, mainland Glasgow, Clyde and central Belt, the Highlands; hurricane-force gales funneled east to hit everything not tied down — trees included. Nobody was spared.

This example of ‘freak’ weather coursing through the northern hemisphere may not be considered memorable, when the current solar cycle is through with us, but it is unusual, to say the least.

And, as we know, other consequences of seismic disturbance — earthquakes — such as the ongoing and terrible nuclear waste toxicity spreading through the Pacific ocean in the aftermath of Fukushima — are still fresh in our minds.

If Katla caldera erupts, the icemelt from its glacier would spill billions of gallons of water through Iceland's east coast into the Atlantic

The current concern is that the massive six-mile-wide crater of Katla caldera near Reykyavik will explode, melt its overhanging glacier and spew billions of icemelt over the eastern seaboard of Iceland and into the Atlantic ocean.

Eyjafjallajokul ejected enough ash to halt air traffic over Europe/N.America in 2010

By comparison, the ash cloud precipitated last year by Eyjafjallajokull which halted all air traffic over Europe and North America, would seem like a minor incident.

Traditionally it was thought there was no connection between solar storms and terrestrial seismic activity — earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and their tendency to precipitate hurricanes, tornadoes, and wind storms round the globe. But this received wisdom is changing. Looking at the past year alone, much seems to have occurred following the Sun’s elevated status to ‘active’ (NOAA sidebar two below, right) in line for solar maximum, 2012. Solar activity in the last two months shows increasing frequency of M- and X-class flares at an alarming rate.


“I hear hurricanes ablowin’
I know the end is comin’ soon
I hear rivers overflowin’
I hear the voice of rage and ruin”
— Credence Clearwater Revival, 1969

CROSSROADS IN TIME
One of the most insightful prophecies/predictions of the Maya elders for this time is the message of change.

4 Ahau: Food scarcities. Half the katun good, half bad. The return of Kukulkan

In the 20-year period (katun) which began in 1991 and will complete in 2012, they anticipated this katun would bring ‘scarcity and the arrival of great leaders’. It is also the katun of ‘remembering knowledge and writing it down’.

In their words, we are fully immersed in a time of ‘change and conflict’. Change comes externally from weather, elecromagnetic fluctuations in the earth’s magnetic field, natural phenomena, celestial disturbance (solar flares) and trauma inflicted by others unable to stop themselves ‘exploding’ their own inner drama. Conflict stirs in the form of personal challenge, grief, bewilderment, depression, anxiety, and fear. Many are going through these experiences at this time.

The Maya (through indigenous ancestral transmission and present-day descendants) believe that it is not a time to fear. We are at a crossroads. “Now it is time to choose a new path, decide on a new Self and community direction, to venture into the unknown, to find our true identity of being”. While devotees are already flocking to this ethos in droves, others will choose to stay on the same path, console themselves with the familiar, and invest a great deal of effort in maintaining the status quo.

Photons, zero-mass light particles, (Gamma Rays), detected in space by the Fermi Space Telescope in earth orbit

The Electric Universe theory (Thunderbolts publications, lectures, symposia) explores the direct connection between the Sun’s storms — M-class solar flares, CMEs — and their effects on Earth systems: electrical, radio, television, power supplies. Certainly in 1859, the Carrington Event that produced world telegraph blackout and spontaneous fires, has provoked discussion ever since, particularly as a similar event now would create culture-wide chaos; but it is only in recent years that the solar electrical connection has extended outwards into the Universe to encompass plasma filaments, stellar explosions and the plasma tails of comets; and to explain that, contrary to former belief, the void is not empty, but teeming with electrical charge.

Richard Feynman explains most graphically:the Nature of Nature

We on planet Earth are also electrically-charged beings. The conduit which transmits charged particles from the Sun to humans is the same conduit which steers weather through the Earth’s electromagnetic field, and into the human electromagnetic field.

Solar activity is known to influence human consciousness (from the simplest seasonal affective disorder –SAD– to extreme summer joy and productivity) and, this logically extends to the effect photons have on our human DNA.

Radiation affects the central nervous system, brain function and balance, along with human behavior, and all psycho-physical response in between. So flaring from the same star can cause us to feel nervous, anxious, jittery, dizzy, irritable, lethargic, exhausted, and suffer short-term memory lapses. We can sometimes even feel nauseous, distracted, and suffer headaches.

The Thunderbolts project encourages inter-disciplinary knowledge and collaboration of astronomers, physicists, archaeologists, mythologists and biologists bringing together understanding of previously unrelated subjects. They plan to address some of their ideas during their multi-faceted Symposium next month, January 6-8, 2012 in Las Vegas: The Electric Universe: the Human Story.

According to the Electric Universe theory as proposed by Thunderbolts scientists, solar flares and photon waves are changing the fabric of our very reality and have a powerful effect on our cells, causing our cellular memories to awaken and clear.

Veil nebula, constellation Cygnus the Swan, traditionally described as a 'cloud of ionized dust'; in Electric Universe theory seen as electromagnetic plasma filaments

They are also convinced, like Maya experts, that “cultural archetypes of world mythology can now be understood through the sciences.”
‘Thunderbolts of the Gods’ David Talbott, Wallace Thornhill (2005)

“Photon energy is capable of resonating at much higher frequency than normal human emotion. It can calibrate the human system to this higher frequency, bringing consciousness into line, so that we begin to remember our soul’s purpose.”

Many believe that this speeding-up of consciousness — instant manifestation of the desired object or circumstances — is what has triggered such great interest worldwide in systems like the Law of Attraction, the Abraham-Hicks movement and the revival of New Age consciousness-raising techniques.

Photon energy connects instantly — at the speed of light — affecting all human electrical systems, most especially thought processes, so that with this new influence it is important to exercise discipline; that in expressing what we want, we practice care in not expressing what we don’t want. Or that will manifest instead. If one is in process of change and transformation, this energy works well. On the other hand, for those stuck in the past through victimization or anger, more of that will continue to manifest.

Philosopher, psychonaut and astral traveler, Terence McKenna, before he died in 2000, believed that we would become consistently and more purposefully attracted by the Eschaton — his anomalous state of ‘unknowing’, a ‘transcendental object at the End of Time’, which draws us into awareness of the ‘New’ — and that time would speed up to such an extent that in those End-days, we might be unable to experience the passage of time in the same way we did even one decade ago; indeed, compared with the concept of time of a generation, a century ago, we are already surpassing such reckoning monthly, weekly, daily. He believed this ‘Attractor’ will speed us up even more. Hence those of us aware that the phenomenon is happening are better equipped to handle the transition from ‘old human’ to New Human.

It has been suggested that, particularly during the winter months when we feel light deprivation and shortening daylight hours, we make the most of every opportunity to ‘breathe in’ available sunlight, in snatches throughout the day, in order to refuel the body’s resources. It is only twenty days until the turning of the year. Then, after solstice, the days will lengthen once more.

Before we know it 2012 will be here and with it the fulfilment of Maya prophecies: it is an exciting time to be alive — with more revelations in store.
©2011 Marian Youngblood

December 3, 2011 Posted by | consciousness, earth changes, nature, seismic, sun, volcanic, weather | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

   

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