The Hidden Cost of

Disclaimer: I just started with A few (very few) of my Twitter followers have had some success with inkshares, and based on their success, I decided to put something out there to see how it works.

I did my due diligence and read through the site where Inkshare states:

You’ll make 50% of gross revenue for each printed book we sell, and 70% for each ebook.

Hot damn. They handle formatting, editing, distribution, marketing, and TV/movie rights?! And all I need is to get 250 pre-orders.  Amaze-balls!

So I throw up a couple chapters, add some cover art, and wait for the money truck to back up to the house. 

After all, even if I only get the 250 minimum preorder, I’ll net $1,250 – $1,750 (depending on ebook/traditional product mix).

Then I start reading. The FAQs are a little vague. 

So I email Inkshares. 


Do you pay the author on pre-orders, assuming one meets a goal? For example, if one reaches Quill goal with only e-books (assuming $10), would the author receive a check for 70% of $2,500?

Thank you for the clarification.


And the response:

Great question. Authors receive royalties after the 250 Quill preorder goal has been met. This so that production costs like editing and design are met. Does that clear things up?

Wait.  That’s not money in that truck!!!  

Me (abbreviated): WTF? Why don’t you make that more clear.

Inkshares (in my imagination): Because people would stop using us. 

Now — am I pulling my work off Inkshares? I don’t know. Click this link and find out. If it’s gone, you have your answer. 

I actually don’t have a problem with this business model. I do have a problem with stating on your home page “You’ll make 50% of gross revenue for each printed book we sell, and 70% for each ebook” and failing to mention that unless you sell 251 books (or 751 books, if you pick the bigger gig) you won’t see a damned dime. 

Be upfront. Integrity costs so little. Dishonesty can cost you everything. 

An Author Who Hates Feedback

I just had a series of DM on Twitter with a writer. He was blaming the industry for his dozens of rejections. Quoting:

I did the usual hundred or so pitches to Lit Agents. No big publisher will even talk to anyone adding to the slush pool, you need an agent. I had all sorts of requests for more info and it was really hard work. I ended up with a finished trilogy and a lot of nice words, but no agent. So I looked at self publishing and the real facts and figures. Most self published book sell about 200-300 copies. Amazon know this, but don’t care as they make money from the sheer volume going through self publishing. In reality I know good writers who’ve lost money on a 1,000 sellers, once they’ve got their fancy cover and a run over by a decent editor. So once [my book] was on the net and getting 300,000 downloads, a few small press guys turn up 🙂 Give us your book for no money up front and a tiny royalty they said. And BTW you’ll need to remove everything from the web and vanish, because we spend zilch on promo…. you can see why so many authors hate publishers. Of course there are guys like the author of The Martian who gave it away for free and it got picked up by a mega publisher…. film…. yadayada. So my goal is to give it away free and keep those readers coming back. I hope that eventually one of my books will move to LA, marry Brad Pitt and do well 🙂

Me: Can I offer some feedback based on a cursory read of Chapter 1? I work with two different groups of over 20 authors each, and have heard some common observations that might help. If you aren’t interested, I understand. Unsolicited advice is seldom welcome.
It’s all subjective Dandelion. On one side you have Cormac McCarthy and The Road. No names, let alone any empathy or characterisation. He broke so many rules that it was a joke…. yet sold millions. On the other side we have The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. Oh dear a huge waffle of a book that doesn’t even get to meet Dracula at page 600. Most rules would have edited it down to an action packed 300 pages, but again….. sold millions…. film right. There is no genuine good advice, only personal prejudices. The public like all sorts of stuff, so we need all sorts of writers. One day, that book is going to marry Brad and move to LA…. and now I must get something done today.
Me: My primary observation is there are so many grammatical errors that it distracts from the read. Secondarily, the language is repetitive. It’s particularly egregious in the last paragraph when you nearly copied the phrase “feel of his hot dick” twice in two consecutive sentences.
Are you about twelve?
Twitter: You can no longer DM this user.
I guess he doesn’t care what readers think.

First Three Months On Channillo

Last autumn, I received a direct message asking if I would produce content for Channillo, which bills itself as a publishing platform for serialized fiction. I had nearly (or so I thought at the time) finished a Project Dandelion and did not want to release it on Channillo, but was having fun writing a piece outside of my normal genre, and thought, “what the hell. I’ll throw it out there and see if anyone bites.”


As a side note, the origin of the now three vignettes contained in Dark Places is here.  I’ve been told it’s a fun read in its own right.

So here’s the skinny. Pros and cons of Channillo from the perspective of an author, not a reader. These are my opinions and may not reflect reality.


Channillo’s interface is clean and simple. You click Your Series, Edit Series, Update Content, Add A Chapter, and voila’, you are presented with a text box in which you can paste your content.

Formatting was a bit kludgy, but I think after a month or so I had a handle on how to cut and paste from Google Docs or Word to get the formatting that I wanted.

Editing content is simple.  Just click Your Series, Edit Series, Update Content, and Edit or Delete as needed.

You can schedule content out based on your release schedule. I release new content every two weeks and have content loaded to release through May 2016, I believe. (This post was authored in February 2016.)

There is a simple stat interface, to view how many subscribers you have on your series, how much money you’ve earned, etc…


There are a few.

First, you need to be a paying subscriber to publish content. For $4.99/month, you can be a Channillo author. Now, at around seven subscribers, you break even, and so it’s not hard to get enough readers to make a little bit of cash; however, it feels a bit like two ticks and no dog. I sometimes wonder if the only people reading Channillo are the people who are paying to publish on Channillo. As an author, I should know how many readers are on this platform. I do not.

Speaking of getting paid, Channillo does not pay you until you get $50.00 banked. Not a big deal, but worth noting.

Also, you can get statistics on how much you’ve earned, how many subscribers you have, and if you’ve gained or lost subscribers this month. But that’s it. I don’t know if my subscribers are actually reading my material, or like me, have subscribed and forgotten about the content. (I subscribed to another author to attempt to get a subscriber’s perspective as well).

The feedback for readers is anemic.  No stars, hearts, or likes. A simple text box. Even the most popular titles only have a handful of comments and those are generally from one or two readers with multiple comments.

Also, no notification is sent to readers when new content is available. If a reader doesn’t remember to log in, they will never see your work.

Lastly, Channillo does nothing to promote your content. I’ve never seen one tweet or email saying “Here’s some cool new material on Channillo” promoting any book. Authors are promoting Channillo; Channillo does nothing to promote its authors.

I reached out to Channillo’s founder about the absolute lack of content promotion and quickly got this response:


“Thank you for your feedback. We will continue to work at being more effective at promoting Channillo and our authors. I hope you are enjoying the platform so far.”

“There, there. Go away and write more.”


Channillo is an okay platform for earning a little money while you are composing a piece. Who else will pay you for an incomplete work? But the reality is that without an increase in marketing and promotion, better analytics for authors, and increased engagement for readers, Channillo will never really be more than a niche online community.

Beta XP Interview w/ Author David Rettig

Beta XP Interview w/ Author David Rettig

I have recently had the pleasure of getting to know David Rettig and he has decided to share with us his beta reader experience with a writing group he’s a part of in Indianapolis.

What’s the name of the beta reading collective you work with? Where can people find them?

I work with a group called Broad Ripple Morning Writers, which is a group of aspiring and published authors who exchange critical reading with other members. We meet every Wednesday at 7 AM in Broad Ripple area of Indianapolis, Indiana.

How did you become involved with them?

I found a few writers groups via We checked out several before connecting with a group that provided the right type of environment and critical feedback.

What is the submission process like when working in the group?

Members submit their work via Google Docs which provides a secure method to share documents…

View original post 424 more words

Building A Team of Readers

Building A Team of Readers

Finding beta readers is hard. And building a team of betas is worth the headache.

Some authors have one or two beta readers but I think it’s a good idea to build a focus group.

Benefits of Readers

It is important to stress that your readers be in your target audience. It’s very difficult to find a good beta reader… let alone a few that are in your target audience.

I recommend tapping into communities that may have people in your target audience. Sometimes looking for people that beta read isn’t enough. Sometimes it’s helpful to go out into the world and find someone that may potentially be your target audience.

Even though there are people like me all over the place, if you can’t find someone who will read your work and be reliable, get to know people that might be interested in it.

Right now, I’m writing a…

View original post 393 more words

Familiarity Breeds Contempt – An Authors Confession

Chaucer recorded this proverb in 1386. It means knowing someone or something intimately exposes its flaws. I am starting to feel that way about my story. I’m hoping this confession is cathartic, giving me strength to keep writing.

My first draft was brilliant (in my mind). Then I started editing. A painful process that felt a bit like pulling my heart out of my chest. Using tweezers. Through my eye socket. Tiny bleeding piece by tiny bleeding piece.


Then the beta readers. Accolades and praise mostly. Constructive feedback. More editing.

Another rewrite. Then another. And another.

Today, as I edit, I hate every chapter. Every sentence. Every word. Every fucking letter.

Familiarity breeds contempt.

I don’t know if this is a healthy place to be at or a dangerous plan. Does every artist grow to loathe their ineptitude? Or have a polished this story past my own veneer to the point that I see the pressed board underneath.

I don’t know if I’ll ever publish this post. I guess that reticence represents a spark of hope that I think this book is still worth reading. I’d hate to throw this confession out into the sea of the anonymous faces hiding behind the internet, salivating at the weak, waiting to pounce, drawing faux strength from reinforcing one’s own self doubt.

Maybe I will. Maybe my own self doubt will encourage someone to keep writing past their own fears.

If you are reading this, you know my decision.

Editing: Call Me Sisyphus.

Writing is easy. Step 1: Sit down. Step 2: Type. Step 3. Repeat.

Editing writing into a novel is harder:

Step 1: Realize that all the work you put into writing a novel is shit.

Step 2: Die a little inside.

Step 3: Hunker down and polish that turd into something worth reading.

But I produced a brilliant novel without editing, you may say. I’m going straight to Amazon Kindle or Goodreads or whatever ebook du jour is hot.

I challenge you to give that first draft to an author’s group.  One with real published authors. One that will destroy your illusions and let you move on to editing. A writer’s intervention of sorts. “I love you, but your first draft is destroying our marriage and our children are embarrassed when you tell people you write.”

Meeting Of Support Group
Meeting Of Support Group

Anyway, this is about me, not you.  Here’s the stages of editing that I went through for Project Dandelion.

1.  Mechanical: This was simply looking for things like ‘be’ verbs (indicative of passive language), -ly adverbs (indicative of poor verb choice), punctuation errors, and typos.  There were a ton of these problems.

If I start to read your book and find that you have these kind of mechanical issues, I assume that you didn’t think the book was worth editing. I, in turn, will assume the book is not worth reading.

2.  Matrix of Character Actions: A writer friend suggested that I create a matrix (grid) with a row for each character and a column for each chapter and writer what was happening to each character each chapter. This revealed several pacing issues.  Rewrite #1.

3.  Beta Read 1: Several beta readers told me that they lost track of where they were. Each chapter bounced between two different worlds. I reordered the chapters to eliminate that issue. This revealed several pacing problems.  Rewrite #2.

4.  Beta Read 2: Several beta readers pointed out POV problems, self-serving story lines (that didn’t contribute to the overall story) and some heavy “tell, not show” issues.  OH — and ineffective use of past perfect tense. More editing.

5.  Rewrite #3: This is where I am now. I deleted 16,000 words and am adding several new chapters to make my book worth reading. Just because I write a book does not mean it’s worth reading and I want to write something that matters.

I should finish this rewrite in December. I’m going to go through line by line with another mechanical review and making sure my word choice is exactly what I intend to say. I’m then hiring an editor to do some of the grammatical heavy lifting.

The moral: Writing is easy. Editing feels like Sisyphus pushing the rock up the hill of Hades.

Look for Project Dandelion to be published in 2016.

Write Something That Matters.