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…

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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…

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Writing When You Have No Time To Write

I meet people all the time who say “I would love to write a book, but I’m really busy.” I’m busy has replaced I’m fine as the default response for “how are you?” It kind of reminds me of The Incredibles: when everyone is busy, no one is.

At this point, you are likely thinking “this idiot doesn’t understand me, I really am busy.”

Just to level set, I’m busy too. I have a full time job as a senior leader in a global enterprise (read: overtime every day, every week), I am a full-time graduate student pursuing a second masters degree, I have three kids, and a spouse. (BTW bragging about how busy you are has become the new American sickness).

Okay. You are busy; I am busy. So how do I find time to write?

One: Have a ubiquitous writing tool. I use Google docs. Google docs allows me to write on my home computer, continue on the same doc on my iPhone, and bang out a few words on my work computer. 

Two: Write in the gap time. Everyone has “gap time”. “Gap time” is when your time is engaged but your mind is not.  Examples of gap time:

  • TV
  • Waiting on hold
  • Standing in line
  • Sitting in the bathroom. 

Wait… you write in the bathroom?

Kinda adds a new meaning to… 


How much can you seriously write in “gap time”?

Well… Infinitely more than not writing. If you write zero words normally, even one word is infinitely more than you write now. But let’s assume you have three gaps a day and you write one sentence in each gap.  An average sentence is 14 words (thanks, Google), so you are writing 42 words a day. That’s 15,330 words in a year. Wikipedia defines a novel as anything over 40,000 words. So it will take you about 2.6 years to write your first novel.

2.6 years? That’s too long. 

Okay. So don’t write anything. Come back in 2.6 years and let me know what you did in your gap time. We can compare notes. 

Where do you get your ideas?

With three different novels in the works, in three different worlds, covering widely different ideas, people ask “where do you get your ideas from?” For me, this comes back to why I write. If you don’t understand the why, you won’t understand the source of my inspiration.

I write to explore real world issues. I just happen to explore them through the lens of soft science fiction, but I could write the same story through the lens of fantasy or noir crime drama. I think an example is helpful.

I was thinking about a debate I heard on the radio. It might have been pro-life vs pro-choice; it might have been death penalty; or it might have been euthanasia. I honestly don’t remember. But I do remember thinking “what if you took that side to the Nth degree? What if life was so precious that we would do anything to protect it. What would a culture look like where murder and death were unthinkable and why would that culture exist?”  I also started asking the opposite. “What is life had no value? Death was without emotion. It just was, just another piece of existence.”  Then I thought about bringing those two worlds together. The result is Project Dandelion.

The why of Project Dandelion is a far more interesting question.

Look for Project Dandelion to be published in 2016.

Write Something That Matters.