The value of knowledge

Knowledge is power. Time is money.
Knowledge is power. Time is money.

And this is where slogging through Number One’s crazymaking was worth this gem: “You paid for your training in sweat, money, tears, and sometimes blood. Why are you giving it away?”

As some folks know, my day job is formatting ebooks and designing print books, and otherwise helping authors get where they want to go in the world of self-publishing. I consult with nonprofits, corporations, and churches to manage their in-house publishing divisions.

Occasionally, someone will come along who wants my help, and they start picking my brain about general things because they don’t know where to start and the plethora of information on the internet is almost as bad as no information at all. No problem. I like helping people, answering their questions. After all, there are people who handed little nuggets of wisdom down to me when I didn’t even know what questions to ask. The companies who hire me pay for all this advice.


There comes a point where the potential client is not picking my brain so much as trying to learn how to do my job. I can always tell when they get to that point because they’re asking specific formatting questions, but they’re not asking the right questions.

This is where I stop responding to their emails.

This summer was difficult for me work-wise. So when a potential client continued to email me to mine my brain after I’d already invested several hours in him, I stopped responding because I simply didn’t have any more time to spare for him.

And then I got a nasty note berating me for not helping him. He did offer to pay for my “exclusive time,” but not until after he’d had his say.

This is where my viewpoint differs from Number One’s. I don’t feel like I’m giving my knowledge away for free, I feel like someone is trying is trying to steal from me. They don’t value my knowledge, my time, or my skill, therefore, it’s fair game.

Coincidentally, today I went googling for a user’s manual for a 40-year-old tool. It was online, free, a scan of the original user’s manual. I don’t know who did that, but I will be forever grateful.

Knowledge comes with a price. In my case, it was time. I don’t mind donating a little of it, but time (like money) is a finite resource. My family has to eat. And sometimes, an hour makes a big difference.


I’ve been published!!!

Like, by somebody else. (Inorite?)

So Freya’s Bower (one of the veteran epublishers in the landscape) has this annual anthology called Dreams and Desires, where the proceeds from it go to a charity. This year’s charity is A Window Between Worlds, a non-profit organization that provides art supplies and training for art as a healing tool free of charge to battered women’s shelters across the United States.

Marci Baun, Freya’s Bower’s Perpetrator In Chief, asked me to contribute a story to the anthology, and because it’s a) for a good cause and b) for the #1 cause on my personal list of good causes, I said SURE! The result? Short story “Twenty-Dollar Rag.”

For fans of the Dunham series, the hero in this one is the weird kid from Stay (who wears kilts and sleeps in trees), Vachel Whittaker, all grown up and possibly more normal than the rest of the Dunham men. Lo, there is no religion or politics in it.

Here’s the blurb for Dreams and Desires:

True love, freedom, self-worth, security… Dreams and desires of the ordinary woman, or man. From a thirty-something, single woman who wants a baby to a jeweler who finds love with the least expected man to a widow who wants to finish her degree and find love to a young, futuristic woman who’s still searching for herself to an 18th century saloon girl whose lost hope but still dreams of love to a man who has escaped his abusive lover but has lost himself. This collection of nine stories celebrates the attainment of all one can dream or desire. Which one do you secretly yearn for?

And here’s the blurb for “Twenty-Dollar Rag”:

One night. One man. One dress.

Regina Westlake sees nothing wrong with her clubbing lifestyle until the gorgeous guy cleaning her pool refuses to play her games. When he’s hired to be her arm candy for a formal event, he makes his disdain for her clear by re-dressing her in something far more appropriate than what she had worn to the party.

Shattered, she takes his contempt, his dress, the memory of his kiss—and rebuilds her life from the ground up. She never expects to see him again, but when she does…

Buy the collection, have a few hours of entertainment and help somebody out at the same time. Win-win!

Dreams and Desires ($5.99)

Twenty-Dollar Rag” (12,000 words) ($2.99)

I like real books

I like them on my wall

I like them in my hand

(I like them in the bathroom)

I like them on my H: drive

I like them in the car

I like them in a queue

I like them on my laptop

I like them on a shelf

I like them on my keychain

I like them in a library

I like them in English

I like them in bed

I like them on my netbook

I’d like them on a slate, but they’re too heavy.



What is a “real” book, anyway?

“Real” book. As if reading words and being entertained and/or instructed isn’t the point of the damn thing.


I was wrong.

I got a Kindle.

I know. Go ahead and laugh or faint or whatever. I’ll wait until you’ve got yourself back together again.

Long story told in bullet-point lists:

  • Saw a Sony at Target. The screen looked like a dot matrix printer (aka like crap). I decided eInk was not for me.
  • Amazon pulled some crappy things, which confirmed my opinion of crap.
  • My mother-in-law got a Kindle for Christmas and I fondled it. It didn’t look anything like the Sony at Target.
  • I couldn’t stop thinking about my MIL’s Kindle.
  • I had an increasing need to see what my formatting looked like on the device itself.
  • I couldn’t stop thinking about my MIL’s Kindle.
  • I had an increasing need to see what my formatting looked like on the device itself.
  • Amazon put up their refurbs for $110.

I’ve had it for about a week now. I love it, but I do have some issues and (surprise!) it hasn’t diminished my love for my eBookWise or my BlackBerry. They’re like children: All different, all equally loved for different reasons.

One of my issues with the Kindle is how light and skinny and fragile it is. I know this is supposed to be a plus, but after holding my eBookWise for the last 2-1/2 years, its weight and ergonomic design has spoiled me. The eBookWise feels like a book, only a lot more comfortable.

Anyway, I desperately needed a case for my Kindle to protect it, but geez, people $30? No matter how much I liked my MIL’s case, I figured I could do original-and-cheaper on my own. (Well, hey, that’s how I got into this book publishing business in the first place, my tendency to DIY…everything.)

I’ve made a prototype. I think there are better ways to do this and better designs. I’m going to live with this one for a while and see what I’d change, what other features I might like, a better/more efficient way to build it.

Here’s Prototype Number One (mouse over the pictures to see the commentary):

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Selling shovels

You will notice I haven’t been posting much at all, much less my thoughts on ebooks and publishing. Wanna know why? I’m too busy with my burgeoning business to put any thought into a) what’s wrong with publishing (because why do I care?); b) how to go about formatting ebooks (because that changes week to week); and c) wondering if I’m ever going to get my historical swashbuckler researched and written (because I’m a writer, dammit!).

In case anybody cares, these are my current random thoughts, none of which rate the time to explore in a full-on blog post (plus, I’ve said it all before):

1) Writers: You’re screwed unless you put out your own stuff and you can market it. The old days are gone. “Getting” published is fine if that’s what you need to validate your soul. If you want better odds on getting to readers and making a little money, do it yourself. But dammit, do it right!

2) Writers: Remember that the people who made money in the gold rush didn’t make it panning for gold, chasing a vein that didn’t exist. The people selling the shovels made all the money. Learn a new skill and sell some shovels. You aren’t going to make a livable income writing for da man. Just don’t make any plans to leave your day job.

3) Book designers: Stop trying to format ebooks on a print paradigm. Ebooks are not print books. They don’t serve the same function. It’s like trying to apply a print paradigm to audiobooks. Stop it. Learn how to format serviceable, good-looking ebooks and forget about Teh Fancy.

4) Editors: Go freelance. Market your name. Make the authors who hire you put your name in the book so you can establish your brand. The curation of books in the future will depend on the editor, not the author, not the publishing house.

5) Indexers: You have a bright and shiny new field to explore. Learn how to index digitally. It’s called anchor tags.

6) Publishers: Get your metadata in gear. Seriously.

7) Publishers: The first publisher to chapter-and-verse its digital textbooks/reference/nonfiction will win the prize. What do I mean? I’ll tell you. Pick up a Bible. Any Bible, any translation, any size, any publisher. Go to John 3:16. That’s what I mean. Develop a system. Patent/trademark it then license it. Make it the standard of any good digital nonfiction book, the way good indexing is. Indexers, see #5.

That is all. I have a mountain of work to get done before I leave for NY next week.