Random things from around the Interwebs

These are a few things that have been rattling around my skull:

1. Jim Self posted his surprise at how easy it is to produce an e-book. It is! It's easy! Easier than Angry Birds! Don't pay $3,000 for it!

At least, it's easy if you haven't made it hard. Jaye Manus has a great post on how NOT to screw up your file so that it's difficult to clean. From what I've read by him and other people who charge money to create e-books, the really screwy files come from two sources: 1. authors who put in a lot of weird formatting (so, you know, don't), and 2. authors who pass the file around to a bunch of other people, all of whom make their own inputs, many times using different software.

Honest to God, why would you ever do #2? You do realize that you are the author, yes? You have the final say? I guess this touches my discomfort with having someone line edit your novel--I just can't imagine handing my work over to someone else and saying, Here, do what you want with it, I trust your judgment more than my own. At that point you might as well just plunk down six figures for a ghostwriter.

2. Lindsay Buroker has a post on negative reviews. I of course tossed in my observation that a negative review can provide you with important marketing information.

But my other observation was a little less rosy, and may be something you have to deal with: The very first reviews of Trang were from a reviewer who hated the book. They were a 1-star review on Goodreads and a 2-star review on Amazon. And if you compare the average number of stars on Goodreads and Amazon versus LibraryThing and Smashwords, you'll see that Trang averages a star lower on the first two sites than on the latter two.

Now, obviously, this could just be because of the different audiences, but I think this is an example of the power of what economists call anchoring, which is where people decide the worth of something based on a figure tossed out by someone else.

Let's say you read a first-contact social sci-fi book about a troubled diplomat. You like it fine. You could give it three stars, you could give it four...and you go over to a review site. There you see that, on average, people are giving it four stars. Guess what you do? Guess what you do if there's only one review, and it has two stars?

I don't really see this as something you can fix, at least not unless you're willing to pull down the book and republish under a different title. But I do wonder if that's something that contributed to people's willingness to buy it on Amazon after looking at it on Smashwords. I mean, the Amazon people think it's just OK, but the first group you saw were the Smashwords people, and they loved it, so it's probably worth buying!

3. Kris Rusch has two really good posts on perfectionism and how damaging it can be. Just keep in mind that the only thing you can as a writer absolutely guarantee is failure, and the best way to guarantee failure is to stop writing. Just stop producing.

Writing is technically a manufacturing job--did you know that? That's how economists classify writing. And that's how you should think of it--if you aren't putting anything out, you aren't getting anything done. Your little manufacturing operation has ground to a halt, and the workers are either sitting idle around the plant (and probably getting hammered), or they are polishing and re-polishing and re-re-polishing and re-re-re-polishing items that you never seem to get out of the damned door. Getting up the nerve to finish is tough, but you have to do it--otherwise you might as well never start.