And I gotta say, they fookin’ nailed the blurb this time.


I wrote them a very nice letter after the “Have a Little Faith in Me” BB, which was somewhat disappointing – part of the reason, I thought, was that the email blurb didn’t mention the “rock star” angle, just presented the book as “Rocky’s out and Dex is closeted, can their love make it…” Kind of blah, right? “A generic bowl of romance flakes” is how I described it in said very nice letter :0

Well, as you can see, this blurb hits every mark. Huzzah for the shopkeeper!

WerewolfGIMPOldTimeCasablancaYep, in advance of tomorrow’s BIG BOOKBUB, the freebie is on…partly because this boosts the free rank in time to look more impressive to BookBubbers tomorrow, and partly because I’m paranoid, and want to make sure that it’s really truly free tomorrow, which I can’t be sure of unless I see today that Amazon’s really doing what I told them to do…

ALTBStickerThat’s 50% of “A Little Too Broken” royalties for August, so I didn’t split it this month. August sucks for book sales, as readers are on vacation doing terrible things to me like, you know, spending time with their families seeing the world, when they really should be staying home reading books. Honestly! And the last week of August was a total ditch for everyone I know re KU pages, as kids are packed off to school/college, and the reading budget $ go instead to Ikea and Target. Little bastards really bring out my inner WC Fields at times like this – “Do you like children?” “I do if they’re properly cooked.”

Seriously though! I really shouldn’t have pubbed “Werewolves of Brooklyn” in August. The received knowledge is that there’s a “30 day cliff” for books – if your title doesn’t make it to the top by then, you’re dead. This is why I’m poor, right? I need to get an intern from the university’s Marketing program to do all this stuff I’m not doing… I had a guy who was going to do a website, MailChimp etc. for free to build his new business, but…crickets.

BBKingBut, I may get an exception…For the handful of you who read this far, “Werewolves” is free Wednesday and Thursday, Thursday being my SEVENTH BookBub! I think L.A. Witt is my only competition for the crown of BookBub King, at least on the gay list. (I know, it’s not a competition, we’re all a community supporting each other and celebrating each other’s successes and yes yes that’s true but I’m a man and I like to win and besides it’s good to be the King.)

Free did wonders for “Given the Circumstances” last month, since for some odd reason a boatload of sites picked up the 0.00 price change and flogged it globally – the deal with freebies when you’re in KU is that KU customers still click that “read it free” button and you get credit for the KENPages. And of course as my guru says, “Visibility visibility visibility.” The name Brad Vance is the nail and Free is the hammer that pushes him through your earhole and into your brain, until one day finally you just see the name on the screen and say, Oh Yeah, Brad Vance, Click Click.

Anyway. Adam Vance totally promised like a million words this week to finish “Artifice” so we could move on to Marc and Jesse and, hopefully, better returns than the Werewolves are still getting. The Master Plan is still to transition out of gayrom…when you see certain books making it big and you read the Look Inside and there’s no research, no attempt to even try and make the fireman / cop / soldier / FBI agent even remotely realistic… He always just “runs into the burning building” to save the (surprise) little girl inside, and there’s not a single bit about how a fireman reads the fire or plans his entry into the burning building or what his equipment is or how he…never mind.

Well. At a certain point you realize, this is not my genre. Yes, #TeamVance wants realism. But most people don’t want realism, or even a shadow thereof, in their romances, or it wouldn’t be the case that books like that would be making so much bank…

If I do say so myself, Dane Gale said it best in “Apollo’s Curse.”

A lot of these stories were pretty much the same. You could practically cut and paste the plot from one to the next, none of them with any backstory or any detail other than, “Here’s Blaze, he’s a firefighter, he’s really hot and so are all the other firemen, they all live hotly together in a firehouse with their shirts off a lot but there’s nothing gay about it, here’s a fire and they put it out.”

So I can spend the rest of my life beating my head against the wall, or I can “transition” from Brad into Adam and Derek and who knows who else…

space_103111_002_617x416Yeah…so Simon and Schuster has a Vince Flynn novel in the Kindle Unlimited program. And guess what? Unlike us unwashed masses, the 1% on Tradpub Street don’t have to be Amazon-exclusive. It’s like…no, don’t say it…it’s like Jeff wants all of us selfpubbers who aren’t Hugh Howey or What’s Her Name With The New Adult Romances to…go broke and go away.

Do they have a side deal for the $ that doesn’t affect the KU pot? How would we ever know? The Kremlizon will never tell us. Maybe, if we’re lucky, one of the megastars of selfpub will reach out to their Amazon rep, who will deign to tell them, and they’ll pass it along. Regardless, it feels like someone bigger and stronger just shouldered me aside (and I’m 6’2″) and there’s nothing I can do about it.

I don’t have time to plumb the Future Meaning Of All This For Self Publishers, because I need to get back to earning my ha’penny a word, but…well…

We’ve all read about Amazon’s joyless corporate culture, and the Spencerian principles that ruthlessly thin out the herd at the mothership on a constant basis. You know that if that’s the internal corporate culture, that the same thinking applies to Amazon’s contractors (us) – survival of the fittest, and if you’re not at the top, you’re at the bottom.

Or as Amazon says to us every time something like this happens, “No… no… children… I know you’re trying to help but believe me, my mind’s made up. I’ve given this long and careful thought. And it’s medical experiments for the lot of you…”

300px-Gustave_Doré_(1832-1883)_-_The_Bible_(1865)_-_Zechariah_6-5Yeah, that’s the End Of Days scenario for writers, the idea that ebook sales will just…stop. That Amazon will finally get the One Ring and its digital Nazgul will come screeching down on all other ebook retailers and put them out of business (well, that part’s true), and then they’ll move to a Spotify model where all ebooks are in this KU model and we only get paid for borrows, forever and ever amen.

I’m not buying it. Sure, this is happening to music on Spotify. But musicians haven’t (totally) revolted over the “subscription model” for a couple reasons.
1. They can still make money licensing their music for TV commercials (Black Keys!), background music on ESPN, etc.
2. They can still make money on concert tours – ticket revenue, t-shirt sales, misc. swag.
3. Every really BIG musical act is signed to a record label. There’s a devil’s bargain they make re streaming when they sign the contract, so the choice is not theirs, not when they’re starting out anyway. Only when you become, you know, Taylor Swift do you have the leverage to walk out.

But for authors, this…is…IT. The money we make on books. There’s no “Monsters of Prose” tour where we can make up revenue lost to the .00000005 a read on “Readify” or whatever (unless you’re David Sedaris, but…yeah, that’s the only example I can think of). Nobody’s quoting my deathless prose in a Jeep commercial.

So the level of resistance you’d have from authors to a 100% sub model, I Predict, will be higher than that from musicians. And, as more authors selfpub, we’re not chained to our seven year deal with one conglomerate and its seven year deal with another conglomerate. We don’t have to make a devil’s bargain re future revenues/licensing because we’re not signing contracts and taking advances, unless you’re obsessed with the status symbol (who it still impresses I have no idea) of having your book “published” by a “real” house, in which case you get what you pay for…

If Amazon were dumb enough to force all ebook authors, selfpub and tradpub, into a nearly mandatory subscription model, it would create a huge need for a new outlet for our books, and someone will fill that need. (Insert hand-wringing, O Amazon Rules the Galaxy Forever, etc…Ahem. Netscape. AOL. MySpace. Need I go on?) The cycle is pretty basic – digital product gets monopoly, becomes crappy/unresponsive, therefore vulnerable to better product, consumers/producers leave in droves for new product.

There’s a Bell Curve Of Crappiness, I think, at which change is forced – if only a handful of writers on the curve are making all the monies, a digital 1%, the other 99% will go somewhere else. People stay with Amazon as producers and consumers because it’s easy. It’s hard to get people to change from Facebook to Tsu or G+, because “everyone I know is on Facebook.” The aggravations of FB (the Picture Stasi who can secretly inform on you and get you blocked/banned because heaven forfend they see a naked butt, the occasional incineration of users for not using “legal names,” etc.) are still bearable – they haven’t hit the FTS (Fuck This Shit) Point that makes people leave for somewhere, anywhere. Right now we make “enough” on Amazon to keep going, but if our income suddenly goes to total shit on an all-Spotify model, well, then you’ll see authors migrate, and readers with them.

Also, when I talk to fans on Facebook, esp. when ranting about KU, so many of them say, “I want to buy a book. If I love it, I’m going to read it again and again, and I don’t want to keep ‘borrowing’ it to do that.” For a real reader, half the joy of reading is possession. I OWN THIS BOOK. Even if it’s not a physical possession, they’ll turn that Kindle carousel and see that cover.

Unlike book readership, the audience for music skews young. A lot of them have grown up thinking of digital content as “Free.” This has been mostly the fault of record companies who greedily priced digital downloads at the same price as physical CDs, despite the massively lower production costs.

When Napster etc. rose up to defy the market, it was a time when most albums were…total shit. There was maybe ONE SONG on each album that was good and the rest was filler, but you had to buy that $15 CD to get the ONE SONG. So piracy, and streaming, are also a response to crappiness, the knowledge that the quality/cost balance is out of whack on most content.

TV/movie piracy? Same thing. $20+ to buy a digital download of a movie – which, unlike a physical disc, you can’t resell. It’s not really “yours” to loan out, resell, etc. Hell, I tried to resell Game of Thrones #1 on Amazon and I was blocked; only major resellers could carry it. Sure okay because Chinese pirates flooding the market, but still…you’ve got a white elephant on your hands. I can loan out a CD, or, yeah, duplicate it. I can loan out a book (which let’s face it is usually the same as giving it away, but still).

Same thing with “regional releasing.” GofT is the most torrented show because, in the beginning, they weren’t making it globally available all at once. Your *only option* was to steal it.

When people know they’re being ripped off, they respond by ripping off in turn. Given the choice between overpaying, waiting forever, or getting it for free, guess what?

Regional releasing hurts every content producer. I’ve got a shelf full of UK editions of Jo Nesbo’s books. Why? Because, until recently, they were always published in the UK 6-9 months before their US editions. So what did that accomplish? US publishers lost a sale on every book, the one they would have made to me. The author still got paid, but the US publisher lost out.

Ebooks aren’t “regionally released,” you check all those boxes on Amazon or type WORLD on Google+ and there you go. Ebooks, at least self-pubbed ones, aren’t overpriced – they’re massively *underpriced* compared to print books.

Ebooks get pirated, sure, but my theory is that most pirates are not readers – they’re hoarders. They’re not downloading thousands of ebooks to actually read them; they’re downloading them to get more “upload points” on whatever site they’re on, and just because they can “get” something for “free.”

The exception is tradpub ebooks because…right. There we are again. Corporate dinosaurs who are afraid of “cannibalizing” their print business, so they put an artificially inflated price on an ebook and…hey! People steal it because they know they’re being ripped off! The production cost on a physical book bears no relation to that of an ebook – there’s no factory, no truck, no warehouse involved. Guess what? People know that.

People who really love books, pay for them. I see authors on FB all the time getting their tit in a wringer because O PIRACY I’M OUTRAGED. Listen: people who pirate books never intended to buy them anyway. You didn’t lose 4000 sales to that pirate site, you lost 0. And, you lost your creative time and energy sending useless takedown notices and getting all bent out of shape.

I don’t even bother with fighting that rear guard action against piracy sites. Hell, last time someone pointed me at one that had my books, I said, fine, let me see…POW! I get a popup from my security software. “Malwarebytes has blocked an intrusion from this site.” So, pirating bitches, you’re all getting spymalvirusware every time you go there, so that’ll do in the revenge category for me.

OK that got kind of random and off track. Let me see if I can summarize.

  1. Readers have a passionate connection to books. They want to own them, be they digital or print. They don’t want to return it to the KU Library or lose it when they can’t pay their subscription fee.
  2. Selfpub ebooks aren’t priced so absurdly that they force streaming/pirating as a rational alternative to overpricing.
  3. Authors (selfpub anyway) aren’t chained to a contract that hauls us along into any business model that some corporation wants to set up with another, so we’re free to move to the “next Amazon.”

Thus Spake Bradasthusra :)

maj05I was talking with some other writers and the subject of series came up. How do you create one? If you give your characters a HEA at the end of the story, what next? The secret for me in my short stories has been character development and relationship development. The pair always starts out unequal:

Colum is a monk captured by a Viking and enslaved
Luke pays Slader to kidnap him and use and abuse him
Straight Sam needs money so he plays a manhunt game with closeted Derek, gettin’ assfucked if he loses

Over successive stories, the power balance equalizes:

Colum learned to fight at his old monastery, and he fights to save his friend and assists the Vikings in battle against all taboos, when all is lost, earning their respect
Luke becomes more than a handful for Slader to master, intriguing him
Sam discovers his gayness with new buddies, freaking out “straight” Derek who can’t handle his own sexuality

By the end, you’re not at equality but you’ve got a more complicated relationship:

Colum is a free man, a warrior/lover to Viggo the Viking
Luke joins Slader’s kidnap “crew,” and the two of them use and abuse dudes together
Sam and Derek have a real gay relationship, though Derek is still squeamish about, say, sucking a dick.

Same with my stepbro stories, or any other series of books or stories I have planned. If you have a static power dynamic/relationship, then all you can do is repeat yourself.

I read something about sitcoms where a writer said the thing about scripting them is that nothing must ever change. No real lessons are “learned,” everyone is the same at the end as they were before the “complication” at the beginning of the episode. Same thing with action movies or books – Jack Reacher is always the guy he was at the beginning of the series. John McClain, same guy. Etc. The driver of the story is the humor in the sitcom, the comeuppance of the Fool. The action drives the action movie; the hero is a cipher and the interesting character is (in a good one) the bad guy (Vincent d’Onofrio in Daredevil on Netflix!).

I started my first novel series, with a HFN at the end. Marc and Jesse are just starting down the road with their potentially very kinky relationship. So there will be action/adventure/humor of the Nick and Nora type, sexin’ that weaves in their evolution, etc.

TL;DR if you establish a permanent power dynamic between two romance MCs at the end of a book, your only series options are to create a world (the ranch, the town, etc.) where you take secondary characters in the first book and give them their own HEAs in the rest of the series.

Thus Spaketh Bradasuthra.

Steps2GIMPAudioAVAILABLE NOW! Kyle’s New Stepbrother II: Long Hot Summer…THE BRADIOBOOK! Narrated by the author, Brad Vance – they’re not audiobooks…they’re Bradiobooks!

Home from college for the summer, Kyle’s finally met his new stepbrother Nick. Working the oil fields of North Dakota has made Nick fit, well off and horny as hell. And when their small town has a record heat wave, you can smell the sex in the air. The two young men’s attraction was intense and immediate…

Soon Kyle will be going back to school, and Nick will be movin’ on. With a clock on their passion, they reach for every moment of pleasure and brotherhood. A fast ride on the back of a fast bike, a game of Frisbee on a hot summer night, a skinny dip in the river, a walk along the river bank to a secret place in the bushes…

Sometimes a long hot summer is all too short…