Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Slaves to Creativity - why we need to stop doing stuff for free

Where to begin...

OK, I'm going to try and get this into some sensible form, but I have so many thoughts. The one I need to mention first is that I support Kristen Lamb's 'call to arms', which is why I'm writing this blog post.

 If you haven't already read Kristen's blog post, you can find it here:

We creative people are being exploited, no two ways about it. We are not being paid fairly for our work. And if we complain, we're told it's because the market is over-saturated. After all, the online revolution means anyone can now create content. If we want to make money from what we create, then we need to create quality products of value that people are prepared to pay for.

All nonsense.

There are plenty of examples in Kristen's blog post that make it very clear this is about exploitation, NOT saturation of the market place with valueless products.

Here's a personal example: one of my stories - Breaking Waves - received this one-star review:
Don't waste your money ($1.99) or time getting involved in this so call [sic] "BOOK". Only 66 pages. It was more like a short story. Shame on authors chasing the almighty dollar at the expense of potential readers. SHAME-SHAME ON SUCH AUTHORS.
To clarify, Breaking Waves is a novella of just over 22,000 words. It took me at least a fortnight to write, never mind the rest of the refining, editing, proofreading, formatting and publishing process. But for illustrative purposes, let's go with a really conservative (under)estimate here, and assume it took me two forty-hour weeks from blank page to publication and without having to pay for the services of an editor, proofreader or cover designer (because we all work for free, you know, just for the love of what we do <- sarcasm).

At the UK minimum wage of 6.70 GBP, I should have been paid 536 GPB for my efforts.

I guarantee you, with a cover price of 1.99 USD, I have earned nowhere near that in royalties on Breaking Waves.

In fact, when I analysed my earnings from writing and publishing for 2014-5, I earned 2.90 GBP (4.20 USD) an hour. If I no longer helped other writers publish their work, I could double my hourly pay.

But still I would not earn the UK minimum wage.

Don't waste your money ($1.99) or time getting involved in this so call "BOOK". Only 66 pages. It was more like a short story. Shame on authors chasing the almighty dollar at the expense of potential readers. SHAME-SHAME ON SUCH AUTHORS.
No doubt many of the people who read this (or other posts on the same 'theme') will be thinking I'm skint because the stories I write and publish are not in demand, or they're not a quality product.

I don't care how arrogant it sounds, but that's poppycock. I know, because my own stories and those of the authors I work with get excellent ratings and sell very well. Sadly, because many are short stories (10k words) and we're dealing with greedy readers like the one above (not all readers are like that - thank you to those who buy our books and support us -  we really appreciate it), we have to set low prices on shorter publications.

As most of our sales come via Amazon's Kindle store, we're receiving only 35% of each sale, while they are taking 65%. It's our work, goddamn it!

And that is the thing that Kristen did not say.

Whilst the 'culture of free' is a huge part of the problem and we all need to take a stand against it, it is not THE problem.

Of course Oprah and her team didn't comment on Revolva's situation.
Why would HuffPost have anything to say about Wil Wheaton's refusal to be a part of the rip-off scandal?

They are earning ALL THE MONEY while we, the creators of their content, are EARNING BUTTONS at best.


On one side are the customers demanding free stuff.
On the other are the corporations demanding free stuff. In the middle...

There's us.

Writers, songwriters, musicians, artists, photographers, designers, programmers, editors, etc. etc.

We make the internet.

We do.

We have the power to shift the balance, not in our favour, but in a way that makes it fair for everyone, us included.

We don't work for free.

It has to stop.

What you can do:
Post, repost, comment, make a stand.
Refuse to work for free.
Tell other people why you refuse to work for free.

Link to Kristen's post:

Link to Revolva's open letter to Oprah:

Link to Wil Wheaton's post about not writing for the Huffington Post:

Thanks for reading
Deb x
(Beaten Track Publishing)

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

TellTales Online, new style of book use off/online

Author Julie Pryke (Tell Tales) has a great book in the making, but...she needs a bit of help raising the
money to get it out there. This is because it's a wholly different way of publishing a book, and it means buying her stock up-front. She's set up a crowd-funding page (link below), which explains in more detail.

Please visit Julie's CrowdFunder Page for more information, to share, and maybe even pledge a little to this great storytelling project that is already helping children and their carers improve their literacy and communication through the art of storytelling.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

NEW RELEASE: Vampire Rising by Larry Benjamin

'To be a Vampire is to know your pale skin and red lips offend others.'
-Malcolm V

It's the mid twenty-first century. Anti-Semitism, racism, sexism and homophobia have been consigned to the dustbin of history. The world is run by "the state," and Christian zealots, whose chief governing tools are fear and oppression. It's a wonderful time to be alive - unless you're a Vampire. Vampires are despised, and feared, and subjected to discrimination and unspeakable violence.

Considered undead, unholy, without basic human rights, Gatsby Calloway lives on the fringes of society, avoiding humanity. Until he meets Barnabas, a young encaustic painter. When Barnabas is mortally wounded during an anti-Vampire attack, Gatsby must forget everything he has known, and learn to trust.

Released: 19th July, 2015
Length: 66 pages (13,000 words)

Vampire Rising is the latest novella from Larry Benjamin.

Larry Benjamin's writer's palette takes on a whole new spectrum of colours for this novella, which is, as the title and the blurb clearly point out, that of the vampire subgenre of fantasy. But this is no ordinary vampire tale, so do not expect sparkles, or cheesy romance, because you won't find it here.

On a 'basic' level (such as Larry's writing could ever be described in that way), this is the story of Barnabas and Gatsby, the student and his teacher, and a love nestled within their mutual admiration. On Barnabas' part, there is a clear attraction to Gatsby's age and authority, coupled with the naïvete of youth when it comes to his refusal to accept that which Gatsby insists is impossible. Dire circumstance makes the impossible inevitable and brings these two men together. Their romance is beautiful, and told in the way only Larry Benjamin can tell it. The richness of description, both of the setting and the characters' physical and emotional traits, cannot be done justice in a review:

He looked up and, seeing Barnabas in the doorway, gasped, for Barnabas was as beautiful as he’d remembered: his caramel skin glowed with youth and vigor. His wide, innocent eyes were clear and his dark hair was cropped short; gone was the defiant retro Afro he’d worn in high school. Staring at him, the frisson of lust and love that shot through him caused Gatsby to miss a note, and frown. He bent over the keyboard; his face dipped into shadow, dissolving into triangles of violet and purple.

Underpinning the romance is a broader allegorical narrative that could be applied to the discrimination and persecution faced by any minority group, but it most closely resembles the experiences of gay men during the early days of the AIDS epidemic. Fear, loathing, misunderstanding, social exile - in many respects the reality is tempered by the fantastic nature of the story being told. But every so often that reality rises to the surface and one remembers; real people experience inhumanity on a daily basis. This story has been lived and relived many times over.

This is the first novella in a series, but the author offers a hopeful ending, which is a happy one - what most would call a 'strong happy for now'. However, the future is uncertain, for the vampire is rising. From there...

Vampire Rising
by Larry Benjamin

Available in paperback and ebook from all online retail outlets.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Summer Bigger Than Others

Summer Bigger Than Others - An Anthology of Short Hot Summer Stories

Published: 21st June, 2015
Length: 160000 words (560 pages) (approx)

Beaten Track authors present fourteen short summer reads filled with friendship, romance and, of course, enough heat to make your ice lolly dribble.

Summer Bigger Than Others takes you away to your own private island of diverse stories that will make your summer days sweet, sizzling and sexy.

From relaxing on a sandy beach or hiking in the great outdoors, to nights at the opera or days at the strawberry farm, an adrenaline-shooting roller coaster rush awaits.

Make this summer the best it's ever been; make it bigger than all the others.

Available as a paperback/ebook - stories available as individual ebooks.


Aligning North - K.C. Faelan
Aloha? Oy! - Jonathan Penn
Anything or Nothing - Terry Kerr
Dazzle Me - Ofelia Gränd
Fang and Fortune - L.L. Bucknor
Finally - Amelia Mann
Home is Where the Hard is - Caraway Carter
Offline - L.M. Steel
Ribbons and Frills - Claire Davis and Al Stewart
Roller Coaster - J P Walker
The Strawberry Farm - Victoria Milne
Ultimate Summer - Alexis Woods
Waking Up in Vegas - Hunter Frost
Will…You Have Me(?) - Shayla Mist

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Willem of the Tafel Release Day -- Editor Review and Purchase Links

Willem of the Tafel

Publication Date: 28th May, 2015
Length: 194 pages (55,500 words)

The world we know is gone, destroyed by greed and ignorance. On a post-apocalyptic Earth, centuries into the future, few have survived the Great War. Some have taken refuge deep inside a mountain. One of them, Willem, is exiled to the surface...

Alone and struggling to survive, Willem embarks on an epic journey, making a discovery that could once again alter the future of humanity.

Willem of the Tafel is an epic tale of survival, second chances, hope and undying love.

* * * *

Editor’s Review
When Hans told me he was writing a post-apocalyptic novel and mentioned the term ‘sci-fi’ I have to admit to inwardly groaning. There are so many post-apocalyptic sagas out there in both print and film form, and I dislike them immensely. I think on the whole it’s a sign of our times: for those of us in western, relatively wealthy societies, and with our propensity to focus only on what is in our own back yard, our existence seems safer and more stable than ever before.

The reality is very different. War, famine, global warming, pollution, disease, poverty, genocide…these are not things of the past, but I envisage there is a certain thrill many readers attain from reading of a world gone wrong – crumbling cities, the sky a-flame, Bruce Willis/Will Smith/Keanu Reeves romping the streets clad in sweaty vest/sexy vest/Raybans…snore.

Willem of the Tafel is nothing like any of those post-apocalyptic adventures, although Willem is still a hero, but of the only kind that could bring about resolution to global conflict. Thoughtful, discerning, intelligent, young, Willem possesses a wealth of knowledge yet no desire to utilise it to attain power or oppress. A reluctant leader is the very best kind.

I have to – reluctantly – agree that the novel is science fiction, in the sense that it tells of a future that is scientifically plausible. Frighteningly so. However, it’s not heavy on the sci-fi: the technology referred to in the story is already in existence, and it is an aside to what the story is really about: Willem’s journey from childhood to adulthood, from Tafel society out into the world, from solitary wanderer to…well, you’ll have to read it and see.

* * * *

Purchase Links:
Beaten Track [eBook]:

Beaten Track [Paperback]: [eBook]: [Kindle Edition]: [Paperback]:

Amazon UK [Kindle Edition]:

Amazon UK [Paperback]:

Smashwords [eBook]:

All Romance eBooks [eBook]:

* * * *

Willem of the Tafel: a novel by Hans M Hirschi

Sunday, 17 May 2015