News and Notices from the Writing Trenches #149…

Reading “older books”. In a Goodreads thread, I championed reading “older books.” (You can follow me on GR and even become a “friend.”) I think too many readers overlook too many less recent books that they’d find just as entertaining and intriguing. (Some of my special favorites are listed on the “Steve’s Bookshelf” webpage at this site. I periodically talk about them on my Facebook author page.)

Many older books also contain current themes too. One of my gripes about Amazon and Smashwords is that they overly emphasize newer books. My novel Full Medical (now on sale at Smashwords along with the other books in the trilogy) has themes that are probably more current today than when I wrote it, for example. The problem is that search options on retail websites usually come up with the most recent books first.

So, please readers, look for those older books. They aren’t “classics” per se (although they could be), but they might just be a better read than many new releases.

Types of editing. Readers often complain about editing. I do so myself, for both indies and traditionally published books, and everything in between (older Big Five paper versions re-released as ebooks are often badly edited). Many times readers are referring to copy editing or proof reading errors. What’s the difference?

First, there’s content editing, which I never trust to an editor. The logic and flow of my story are parts of my personal style—changing that to suit an editor’s whim makes it that person’s style or voice, not mine. Readers might be uncomfortable with my dialogue, where I put flashbacks, when I feel the need for back story, and so forth, but those are my own choices.

Copy editing finds spelling and grammatical errors like “it’s” in place of “its” or vice versa (MS Word always gets that wrong, by the way) or not closing quotes or parentheses. After formatting, proofreading makes sure the final product adheres to industry standards and the original intentions of the author in her or his manuscript, all this so the reader has a quality product to read.

Who is Steven M. Moore? Maybe you’ve read my bio on the “About the Author” webpage at this site, either the short or long form (kudos to you if you got through the latter). But, if you google “Steven M. Moore,” you’ll discover there are many of us out there, and even more Steve Moores. The biggest mistake I’ve made in my writing career is not choosing an uncommon pen name (somewhere in the “Writing” blog archive, there’s a post about that). So, if you see some Steve Moore wanted for a bank heist or creating a Ponzi scheme, it isn’t me. I’m not an ex-Patriots football player either, nor am I deceased. I do have a few cameos in my books, but I’m also not a bookstore owner.

Why so few books this year? My readers might know that two is a bit less than my usual output. I’ve only published (so far) Gaia and the Goliaths (Carrick Publishing) and Rembrandt’s Angel (Penmore Press). I’m not really slowing down. I have The Last Humans, a post-apocalyptic thriller, with beta-readers, for example (see the following summary). I spent a wee bit more time (so did Penmore Press) getting Rembrandt’s Angel ready and then its PR and marketing campaign ready (probably spending what I saved in production costs on that), so at the half-year point I’m a bit behind my pace. Of course, there’s no race nor pace. And you can find plenty of excitement and action in my “older books” (see above).

Summary of The Last Humans. The apocalypse kills billions—numbers so large that most survivors’ minds snap shut. Foes of the U.S. have attacked with a bioengineered contagion that spreads around the world.  One of only a few survivors, Penny Castro, ex-USN diver and L.A. County Sheriff’s deputy, reacts differently. She fights back and creates a life for herself where death is the common denominator. On a forensic dive, she is interrupted. When she surfaces, she finds all her colleagues dead, so she has to battle starvation, thirst, and gangs of feral humans until she ends up in a USAF refugee camp. A post-apocalyptic thriller for our times, Penny’s adventures will entertain and shock you into asking, “Could this really happen?”

Why don’t I sell books on my website? There are so many book retailers on the internet that I don’t need to do that. You’ll find my ebooks just about anywhere that’s legit (and unfortunately in some places that aren’t). I’m limited to one link per book cover on the “Books & Short Stories” webpage, though, and they take you to Amazon, which also lists the print books as well as ebooks, if the former are available. Smashwords and its associated retailers like Amazon, Apple, B&N, and Kobo only deal with ebooks (B&N is the exception), but you’ll find me there too. And all my books save one (see below) are reasonably priced already, so I couldn’t offer you much savings for buying here, and my costs would go up (someone has to pay for this website’s programming—oh, yeah, that’s me!).

Reviewers v. beta-readers. Reviewers get free books in exchange for an honest review. Beta-readers get to read a manuscript (MS) before it becomes a book. I value both sets of people. They work hard if the job’s done right, but the latter group probably works harder—they have to read an MS Word document, looking for logical errors (the getaway car changes from red to blue in the middle of a chase), and they often catch a few remaining copy-editing errors too. Reviewers get to read a finished book and should say what they like or dislike about it and why. (Sometimes beta-readers do that too, but it isn’t a requirement.) I have to put my trust in both, but I screen beta-readers more. Most of my books need reviews, though; you can sign up to do one using my contact page. (Any reader can become a reviewer, of course, by simply reviewing the books s/he reads.)

Bundle or not to bundle? One of my more expensive ebooks is Survivors of the Chaos, published by Infinity Publishing, an old print-on-demand (POD) outfit (production costs for indie author’s print books are now less with Amazon’s Create Space, and even zero with small presses). I have a second edition ready. I’m planning to bundle the entire “Chaos Chronicles Trilogy,” meaning that readers can buy one ebook and get all three novels for a price less than the Infinity ebook first edition.

This is an experiment, so we’ll see how it works. The other two ebooks in the trilogy haven’t done well, and I’m suspecting that Infinity’s price for the first is a major cause. (All the books in the trilogy will be rewritten and reedited.)

I’m seeing more of these bundles. I don’t know if they’re effective. I’m planning to use the same cover as Come Dance a Cumbia…with Stars in Your Hand! It’s a fine piece of artwork from cover artist Sara Carrick.

Book sale. Some authors bundle a series or part of a series.  Here’s an alternative: from now through September 31, all three books in the “Clones and Mutants Trilogy” are on sale only AT SMASHWORDS, $1.99 for each ebook, reduced from $2.99—that’s one-third off.  The clones make their appearance in Full Medical as part of a complex government conspiracy, they combine forces with the mutant in Evil Agenda to thwart another plot, and they all save the world in No Amber Waves of Grain.  These aren’t comic book characters like X-Men—they’re real people who work to halt an apocalyptic future.  Use the link and go directly to Smashwords, enter the coupon codes during checkout, and get hours of fall reading for only $3.  (Amazon addicts, did you know Smashwords also sells .mobi files for your Kindle? They handle all popular ebook formats and distribute to many retailers.) Pass the word about this sale to your relatives and friends. And, for librarians purchasing ebooks for their libraries, I’ve reduced the price of most of my ebooks on Smashwords. Use the link to see my entire catalog.

PDFs free for the asking. In a sense, if you ask for one of my free PDFs, you’re beta-reading, but I don’t expect any feedback (it’s welcome nonetheless). Some short fiction can end up in a collection, for example, or novellas extended to become novels. In that case, the corresponding PDF will no longer be available. I don’t expect ever to publish my little course on fiction writing, even if I teach a course on writing. You can ask for the PDFs you’d like to read using my contact page.


In libris libertas!


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