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Most of us are amateurs and thieves if you listen to some folks

Last week, I wondered if we were in a perpetual full moon phase because of all the craziness that seemed to be going on. Little did I know that the craziness was just beginning. In the time since that post went live, we’ve seen an author on Amazon taking the fight to reviewers because they didn’t like his book, another author going on a rant because of another writer’s politics and espousing the fact that you aren’t a “professional writer” if you self-publish on Amazon and then the latest from HarperCollins, once again proving that legacy publishers look at their customers as thieves. Foolishness, just foolishness with a sense of entitlement thrown in.

Starting from the top. . . .

For years, Sarah and I have inflicted on our friends and people we’ve done workshops with a certain book we found at an RWA conference. This book has been an example of not one what you shouldn’t do as a writer but also the fact that publishers will buy bad books and put money behind them, making them successful enough to become a series. While the book isn’t Eye of Argon bad, it comes close. So close, in fact, that I never thought to find one worse. Until we were introduced to a book in the Diner on Facebook. From a cover the author worked on for years but which screams amateur to poorly written prose, it is a prime example of why you always check the preview samples before buying a book.

That, in and of itself, wouldn’t be enough to cause comment here. What does is the behavior of the author himself. Ten reviews have been posted since the book was first published. The average rating for the book is two stars. Now, that’s not all that unusual. You can find bad books on Amazon and other retailers without much difficulty. Where this one differs is what happens with the reviews. This is the first time I have seen so many comments regarding the posted reviews. The author continues to try to refute the bad reviews — heck, he even tries to refute anything negative that might be in the good reviews — to the point that it goes beyond just being invested in what is obviously a story he believes in. His straw arguments are that you can’t review a book unless you buy it and read all of it. This comes after he has invited folks to read the first five chapters — or the preview on Amazon — and post what they think.

When that argument doesn’t work, he either completely ignores the specific critiques or he chooses one obscure point a reviewer has made and latches onto that with a death grip in an attempt to prove the critic has an agenda he is working and that is why he didn’t like the book. The accusations from the author have ranged from envy because he is such a good writer and the critic will never be able to write a book to the critic not being smart enough to understand what he was striving for in the book (mind you, this is a book the author says is for children) to religious bias and, quite possibly some sort of global conspiracy. He comes across as condescending and more than a bit “off”. That is never good when it comes to engaging with your readers.

As tempting as it is to respond to negative reviews and to try to explain why you wrote something the way you did, don’t. Just don’t. It isn’t going to help you any and it will drive you crazy trying to keep up with reviews and, worse, trying to make everyone happy. Write your own book, pull up your big boy — or girl — pants and take your lumps. There is going to be someone who leaves a review that has you scratching your head and wondering if they read the same book you wrote. Move on to your next project after you finish the first one instead of trying to guard the gate and defend it against the naysayers. If you just have to defend it, don’t, absolutely do not, claim that some unnamed person who holds some super important job that is so important you can’t name the job or the employer or the person himself read you book and loved it. The moment you do, you will be called on it.

As I said, pull up your big boy pants, kiss your darling book goodbye and send it off into the world to sink or swim.

In the next example of what not to do, don’t go onto Facebook or other social media to rant and rave — and, in the process, show your own fear of the changing face of publishing. In this particular example, an author ranted that they would have loved to join a professional writers group but for the organizer’s politics. The tone left no doubt that the organizer — who at least wasn’t named in the rant — was a wrong thinker and didn’t follow the current cause du jour of traditional publishing. My first thought as I read the rant was to wonder if the author put the same sort of requirement on authors they read as they obviously did on authors they might network with. For myself, as a reader, I don’t give a flying rat’s hairy butt what an author’s politics are as long as they don’t hit me over the head with them in their books.

But that wasn’t what really bothered me about this author’s comments. What did was the comment that you can’t be a professional author if you self-publish on Amazon.

That brought the whole potential for understanding that they were having a bad day and maybe had a history with the group leader that hadn’t been detailed in the rant. Nope, the comment about indies was a slap in the face not only to me but to every author who has taken advantage of the new opportunities provided by Amazon and other e-tailers. It also indicates that this particular author is still buying in to the arguments of traditional publishers that the reading public still needs gatekeepers. It also forgets that these same publishers have abdicated much of the gatekeeping responsibilities to agents who are now, in all too many cases, acting as competitors to publishers because they have their own publishing imprints.

Since the first of the year, I have made more from indie publishing than I would have received as an advance from a traditional publisher — assuming they didn’t see me as the next Stephen King or Nora Roberts. I know others who have made much more than I have. Indie authors have been able to quit their day jobs and work as writers full time. But, according to the ranting author, we aren’t professionals because we haven’t made our bones in the traditional way.

Sorry, but I’ll take indie publishing over almost every traditional publisher. I’ve seen how much work authors who are still traditionally published have to do to make sure their books are of the quality they want. Some hire outside editors and proofreaders because they know they can’t trust the editing and proofing that comes out of the publishing house. Almost all authors do their own promotion and spend their own money to do so, despite assurances from their publishers that they will take care of promotion. It is a lie, in almost every time.

I’ll settle for doing all that and keeping most of the money made from my sales. I’ll proudly wear the label of indie and call myself a professional writer. I don’t care that SFWA has yet to figure out what to do about indies who are making more money and accruing more sales than many of their so-called professional author members. As a reader, I’ll remember the words of those same so-called professionals who trash other writers simply because they chose a different path to get their work out to their readers.

If all that isn’t enough to convince you that the inmates are still trying to run the asylum, this last bit might. HarperCollins has decided that it isn’t enough to add DRM to its ebooks because, you know, all readers are potential thieves. Now the publisher is going to add a digital watermark to its ebooks so there will be an “additional layer of security”. The explanation offered is that HC wants to make sure the etailers it uses to sell its ebooks overseas are using the highest security possible. However, this new technology will allow HC to know if someone has illegally downloaded a book. Any bets on how long it will be before HC sends its first cease and desist letter to a reader? If you don’t want to place a bet on that, how about on how long it will take for the geeks to figure out a way to break that level of encryption as well as the standard DRM?

I don’t know about you, but I hate DRM. I hate being treated like a crook by people I’m paying money to. Of course, the whole thing boils down to the simple fact that publishers, on the whole, don’t believe ebooks are “real” books. That why they sell “licenses” for their ebooks and why they fight against the mere suggestion of the customer being able to sell an ebook after reading it.

And they wonder why people look for plug-ins and programs to break DRM and why we read as many indie books as we do.

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m ready for the grown ups — or at least someone with some common sense and an understanding of basic economics and the theory of supply and demand — to take over the industry. I’m tired of the tantrums and the digging in of heels and the denial that things need to change. This is a situation where the industry is broken and it does need to change and adapt if it is to survive.

70 Comments
  1. I wonder if I should copy said individual’s technique for all the 1 star reviews that Kaiju Apocalypse received? Because obviously we rubes wouldn’t recognize true literary genius if it was whipped out of Tolstoy’s pants and beaten across our faces with it.

    September 16, 2014
    • The problems with “Kaiju Apocalypse” weren’t YOURS, Jason, as KA3 proved, and your “Murder World” confirmed. . .

      September 16, 2014
  2. Oh, my – is this going to be as much horrifying fun (regarding the unnnamed awful book) as the great Jaqueline Howett/Greek Seaman meltdown of 2011? For sure the book can’t possibly be as awful as the very worst book that I was ever suckered into reviewing – a 600 page tome called “The Cobbler of Normandy”. Mercifully, the author of THAT seemed disinclined to argue with reviewers.

    (A write-up of the JH/Greek Seaman meltdown is here – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Greek_Seaman – for those who have managed to put it out of mind.

    September 16, 2014
    • Celia, I doubt it because most of what this guy is doing is in comments responding to Amazon reviews. But it is one of of those things that seems to take on a life of its own, mainly because he won’t learn to keep his hands off the keyboard until his brain engages. Besides, Howatt had an epic meltdown, complete with blog posts, comments on blogs, etc. This guy hasn’t managed to figure out how to do that — yet.

      September 17, 2014
      • Thank goodness that he hasn’t! We don’t need another Clamps, following everyone who has ever wronged him in some minute way so he can bitch at them, or bitching at the people he despises from their friends’ and associates’ blogs, and being such a pustular social disease that rivals Ebola in virulence!

        September 17, 2014
  3. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard #

    On the “watermark thing”, J. K. Rowling used one with the Harry Potter ebooks that she’s selling from her store *but* she’s selling them without DRM.

    September 16, 2014
    • Which is fine. If you have one, don’t inflict the other on the consumer as well.

      September 17, 2014
  4. ‘Now the publisher is going to add a digital watermark to its ebooks so there will be an “additional layer of security”.’

    Yeah, that’ll work. :-/

    Step 1: Buy a prepaid cash card.
    Step 2: Sign up for a new email address using a public computer.
    Step 3: Set up an Amazon or B&N account using 1 and 2.
    Step 4: Buy “watermarked” books.
    Step 5: Pirate at will.
    Step 6: Laugh at knobs with pompous titles like “Chief Digital Officer” who don’t actually understand how digital files work.

    As with every other alleged anti-piracy measure, this will inconvenience legitimate readers but won’t even be a speed bump for the dishonest people.

    September 16, 2014
    • davidelang #

      how does a watermark inconvenience legitimate readers?

      September 16, 2014
      • Eamon J. Cole #

        I haven’t looked into the digital watermarking specifically, but most digital “protection” systems serve to limit a legitimate purchaser’s use of the file by controlling what devices/how many devices/back-ups/what-have-ya. The degree of impact is congruent with the degree of control the producer seeks.

        None of these processes restrain pirates.

        Any inconvenience to the customer is a marketing cost. If it cannot then be offset by a benefit associated with reduced piracy (it can’t) then it’s a stupid marketing cost. If the effect of the inconvenience is to limit the sharing/word-of-mouth marketing which drives book sales it’s a compounded (stupid) cost.

        Found your comment to be a handy springboard, sorry/thanks.

        September 16, 2014
        • davidelang #

          I agree with you about most digital protection schemes, but watermarking is a different beast. It’s a forensics tool, not a prevention tool. As such it can have zero impact on normal use (with the one exception that Tony talks about below, which I’ll comment on there)

          September 16, 2014
        • I agree with you, Eamon, especially when it comes to the cost factor. We’ve heard for years that one of the reasons e-books are so expensive is because publishers have to apply DRM which is, according to them, very expensive. Now they want to add another layer of security. Guess who will bear the burden of that cost?

          September 17, 2014
          • Eamon J. Cole #

            Comes a point, customers will tire of paying for the privilege of being treated as thieves.

            September 17, 2014
      • I want the ability to resell ebooks or donate them to charity, just as I can with paper books. This makes that scenario even more onerous than the already onerous restrictions we have now.

        September 16, 2014
        • davidelang #

          Well, Assuming that you have first addressed the issue of how you would do this with a digital ‘sale’ that acts more like a rental (including the problem of proving that you haven’t kept a copy after doing so), I don’t see watermarks adding much of a problem.

          If you are handing over the actual file, you record “I donated/sold X to Y on date Z”, in some non-reputable way, you should have a perfect defense to anything that happens after that point.

          If you are doing this through the reseller (so it disappears from your Amazon account and appears in the other user’s account), this is even less of a problem, the reseller can generate a new watermarked copy for the person you sell it to.

          Now, the big problem is that there is no good way to resell digital goods, and the fine print of the purchase contradicts the fact that it’s being presented as a sale. It’s really a rental for the life of the account.

          September 16, 2014
  5. Imagine my frustration with this review for “Family Law” –
    “Awesome first book in a series. I was pulled right in. This book (and series) deserves to be professionally published… “

    September 16, 2014
    • I hear you, Mackey. I’ve gotten similar reviews. What those folks don’t realize is that I wouldn’t accept a contract from a ‘real” publisher unless it happened to be Baen.

      September 17, 2014
  6. I’m one of the people poking at the Unnamed Author of the PossiblyWorstBookEverWrittenButWeCantRecognizeItsGenius book. It’s amusing that first he argued that none of his detractors have ever created anything. When someone posted links to a couple of authors pages, including mine, to show he was wrong, he decided to trot the negative reviews for “After the Blast”.

    Of course, he failed to recognize that “After the Blast” still has a four star rating and has been on Amazon’s bestseller listing for Short Reads for a couple months or so at this point, while his own magnum opus has no ranking at all and has a two star average review.

    I’ll admit it, it kind of sucked when he copied and pasted all my one star revews, but that’s because unlike him, I try to forget them.

    I’ve got some thought on professionals too, but I’ll post those in another comment. Trying to avoid the whole “wall of text” thing.

    September 16, 2014
    • Christopher M. Chupik #

      The Unnamed Author, Clamps and the Guardians Village Idiot should band together to form the Clueless League of Clueless.

      September 16, 2014
      • That’s a webcomic begging to be made. Too bad I can’t draw.

        September 16, 2014
        • jselvy #

          Sure you can and it will be genius, but we won’t recognize it.

          September 16, 2014
          • It’s OK. My father’s brother’s nephew’s cousin’s former roommate is a curriculum coordinator at Whatsamatta U, and they LOVE it!

            I don’t know their name or anything, but it’s totally legit. I promise.

            September 16, 2014
            • …*sniggerfit* Whatsamatta U. Oh that’s awesome, well done.

              September 17, 2014
            • But you forgot one step, Tom. It was your father’s brother’s nephew’s cousin’s former roommate and you know it’s totally legit because your father’s brother’s nephew’s cousin’s former roommate’s husband told you so.

              September 17, 2014
              • *headsmack*

                Of course. I guess I thought it was obvious and all that.

                September 17, 2014
          • “They laughed at me back in the academy, but I’ll show them!”
            “But sir, you were in the laughing academy.”
            “And now I shall have the last laugh!”

            September 16, 2014
        • Draven #

          ehh, Larry’s drawings would be good enough.

          September 16, 2014
          • Yeah, well…

            Larry’s a better artist than me in that regard as well. 🙂

            September 17, 2014
    • Tom, even your one star reviews are better than his three, four and five star reviews. They aren’t from sock puppets. Besides, I’m waiting for someone to tell him that he hasn’t read your book — or anyone else’s in the thread — so how can he review or comment on the contents. Or is he a hypocrite along with everything else? — yes, I’m evil.

      September 17, 2014
      • I’ll keep that in mind for the next time he decides to take a shot at “After the Blast”. 🙂

        September 17, 2014
        • He’s VERY proud of declaring that he hasn’t read the books that he slams repeatedly. Hell, he said that he’d rather kill himself than read Sparrowind.

          Wait, was it Unnamed Author or Clamps you were referring to? They both have the same obnoxious pretensions, so I’m starting to have trouble telling which one is being referred to at the time. We’ve already tagged The Guardian Village Idiot as such though, and so far it’s Larry and Toni who’ve been his open targets for libel and slander, so I thiiiink it’s not him you mean…

          September 17, 2014
          • No, this one the UnnamedAuthor. He’s lashed out that people who haven’t read his book all the way through shouldn’t leave a review.

            This is despite the fact that the book is essentially unreadable.

            September 17, 2014
  7. Doug Dandridge told a story about his interaction with some other authors at DragonCon. Several big names were really cool to him, and outright thrilled about his success as an indie. One even asked why he was interested in being published by Baen with his indie success (which is a valid question, even if I share Doug’s interest there).

    The one negative interaction he talked about was someone who said Doug wasn’t a “real” writer because he was indie. This writer? Oh, he sold three stories to pro markets while Doug just crossed the 100,000 books threshold.

    I’ve said it before, but professional has one of two implications. One is based on whether or not one gets paid. Indies get paid for their work. My first publication has already earned me as much as if I’d sold it to a pro level magazine. With each purchase from here on out, I’m paid more than I would have for a magazine. Sounds like professional to me.

    The other potential meaning is how one carries themselves. This is a case by case basis. I’ll be honest, I’m not being very professional by poking that first writer. However, I did try to help him at first. Now he’s just annoyed me until I’m really not worried about it.

    Most writers comport themselves as professionals, both indie and trad. Some don’t, again both indie and trad.

    Yelling that someone’s not a professional because their self published? Yeah, that’s definitely not the actions of a pro.

    September 16, 2014
    • BobtheRegisterredFool #

      In fairness, the best definition for professional can be a fairly deep subject.

      More defined professions like law, medicine and engineering have paper certifications. There are people on paper as professionals who really shouldn’t be considered such. All measurements have error.

      The highest end professionals in an occupation probably understand their professional obligations to the point of instinct.

      Not all tasks require the best humanity has ever produced. Someone might be competent enough at professional tasks without having the interest and ability to think well about what professionalism really means.

      September 16, 2014
      • Alan #

        You get these problems with trying to define “professional” in every sphere of activity with aspirations to having standards; people mostly disagree, and mostly mean “whatever makes me feel more important”.
        As an engineer, I’ve thought about this a bit – by comparison with the generally recognized professions of medicine and law, I decided for my purposes, “professional” means 1) someone whose work can determine his client’s life and/or liberty, and 2) who usually deals with clients on a one-on-one basis, where the client is unlikely to be able to judge the quality of the work at least until it’s too late to make a difference. These two things define the level of trustability in the competence of the professional that is required. Anything less, I tend to think of as “professional status wannabe”.

        September 16, 2014
        • davidelang #

          That’s a good definition, If you don’t mind, I think I’m going to steal the idea, if not the words, for other conversations.

          September 16, 2014
          • davidelang #

            thinking a little bit. I would probably add to part #1 of your definition the ability to end up costing the client a large amount of money (a large multiple of the cost of your service)

            September 16, 2014
            • The definition of a professional writer I liked best is “If your writing income is part of your family’s planned monthly budget, not an occasional surprise, then you’re a professional.”

              September 16, 2014
  8. I got hit with my first SJW review the other day. As tempting as it was to reply and make fun of it (I actually laughed when I read it), I knew better. Larry C can get away with making fun of bad comments, I doubt however that I could. So I let the many five and four star comments do the arguing for me.
    As for the ‘not a real writer’ comments, it (clamps) stopped those when I posted a picture of the car I bought when my royalties became enough to make a car payment. Now they’re at the level of ‘I can quit my day job’ (I’m at H on Larry’s list) and I seriously thinking of making that (very scary) jump.

    The truth is, if most people spent the time writing and learning how to write better, in place of arguing over reviews or denigrating other writers, they’d be a success by now.

    September 16, 2014
  9. BobtheRegisterredFool #

    I think my stories should stand on their own.

    If a review finds an important issue with my story that I can only fix with supplemental information, I have screwed up.

    It is my responsibility.

    I am objectively an amateur.

    September 16, 2014
  10. davidelang #

    I actually like watermarks.

    Done properly, they have no impact on the regular user, while they do make it possible to tell who, or how many people, are distributing the work.

    Doing watermarks instead of DRM is a huge step forward.

    Doing watermarks on top of DRM is rather silly.

    Watermarks aren’t going to stop the dedicated pirate, but nothing will.

    If they are halfway smart (which I don’t think HC is), they will look at the watermarks of the things that show up on the pirate sites, and only take action when they see the same userid showing up on many different works (ignoring the one-off things in favor of going after people who are distributing many works)

    September 16, 2014
    • The only thing that will ever stop pirates is hanging.
      And even that won’t stop pirating, but it will slow it down more than anything else you can do.
      So as we’re not going to kill pirates it just comes down to cost effectiveness. DRM is not cost effective, watermarks may or may not be. I know how to inject a code into a manuscript in such a matter that every one downloaded could be made unique, and it would be very hard to tell. But it would take some software on the back end that I doubt anyone wants to do (I came up with this technique like 15 years ago, it’s really pretty simple and it survives all format changes).

      The problem is, most copyright holders spend too much time going after individuals, and not enough time going after groups/companies. No one really cares who gets burned, catching a thief only stops repeat offenses (for a while), it doesn’t stop anyone else from stealing. That’s why it’s better to concentrate on the companies and the groups doing it, the ones in it for the money. It won’t stop anyone else, but at least it plugs that hole for a while.

      September 16, 2014
      • davidelang #

        a watermark that would survive extracting the text only is harder, but with some misplaced punctuation it could work (see the Hunt for Red October for a discussion of such techniques that were old news 30 years ago when it was published)

        I agree that you cannot stop outright theft, but I’m in the camp that believes that most people are basically honest, and most of the rest will behave if there they think that there is a chance of getting caught.

        watermarks increase the chance of getting caught for the casual sharer, without impacting the legitimate reader. If watermarks are secret, they aren’t much use, but if you insert a page at the beginning of the book that says “this book purchased by X” and then have a watermark, the reader gets fair warning and the vast majority of people will not widely distribute it (and no, I don’t believe that giving it to a few friends the way you would loan a paper book is theft)

        The biggest issue is that the content providers make it harder to get ‘legitimate’ copies of the content than it should be. As itunes showed, if you make it easy for people to buy the content, they will do so.

        And as the recent hardcover release of “Mother of Demons” has shown, you can publish a book in 1997, give it away for free (as part of the Baen Free Library) with no DRM for over a decade, and still get a lot of people to buy a hardcover book if it’s a really good one

        As for who they should target, there really aren’t big companies involved here. most of the pirated content is put up by individuals.

        September 16, 2014
        • How are you going to avoid the “prepaid cash card, public terminal” scenario?

          From what I know of pirates, having a big “THIS BOOK IS REGISTERED TO CAP’N ED TEACH” message at the beginning would be considered a bragging point rather than a disincentive.

          September 16, 2014
          • davidelang #

            For the dedicated pirates that you are not going to stop anyway (the type of people who sneak video cameras into theaters), this isn’t going to stop them.

            However, for most people, a watermark/ownership page is either not going to make any difference (because they weren’t going to share it anyway), or it’s going to act as a prod to keep them honest.

            Look at another example of this sort of thing at work.

            A company I worked for had management concerned about inappropriate Internet use by the employees (and there was a lot of it). They had a couple approaches they could take

            1. Purchase and implement web filtering

            Expensive, Intrusive, Generates lots of anger, and because of the false positives, everyone learns how to bypass it fairly quickly so it’s also Ineffective

            2. Post a weekly list of the top 10 non-business websites that the company as a whole went to in the last week.

            This is cheap to do, and while people could ignore it, the fact is that in practice, something like this does wonders for keeping inappropriate use down.

            Properly done, Watermarks can have the same effect.

            September 16, 2014
            • Draven #

              unfortunately, most of that top 10 would read “google.com, gmail.com. weather.com” etc.

              September 16, 2014
              • davidelang #

                more so today then when I initially implemented it, but you can filter those out the same way you filter company sites.

                September 16, 2014
        • Eamon J. Cole #

          I guess my question, regarding watermarks or anything else, is what you hope to accomplish?

          Everything I’ve seen regarding digital content protections indicates that the vast majority of pirated files cannot reasonably be counted as lost sales. The weren’t pirated by people in lieu of purchase, they were pirated by people who were never going to purchase/could not purchase.

          If they weren’t lost sales, pursuing the transgressors has no payout and represents significant potential negatives. If nothing else, pirates are as likely to talk about the things they like as anyone else. Shutting down that channel is corrupting the marketing.

          Admittedly, I’m generally a casual observer on the subject, but the few times I’ve delved into it in any detail I’ve not found an upside to digital protections.

          September 16, 2014
          • davidelang #

            Watermarks achieve two goals

            1. they slightly reduce piracy by encouraging people to be honest

            2. they make the content provider more comfortable in doing away with things like DRM that are a real problem for legitimate users, because they can still go after the ‘bad guys’

            September 16, 2014
            • #1 would be very difficult to prove except by a vast amount of evidence.

              #2 is irrelevant to pretty nearly everyone. If the content providers are inflicting DRM on their legitimate customers because they feel uncomfortable, they need therapy, not technology.

              September 17, 2014
            • David, you may be right but you missed the point with HarperCollins. They are not doing away with DRM. They are adding the waterrmark as another layer of so-called protection. And, as I stated upthread, I will lay odds that they inflate the cost use that as an excuse to raise e-book prices. Remember, they — along with the other Big 5 publishers — contend that one of the major costs of e-books is the application of DRM which is necessary in their eyes to prevent piracy. I guess my issue is I don’t like it when anyone assumes I’m a criminal, especially when they are gleefully taking my money in the process.

              September 17, 2014
              • David Lang #

                I am in no way trying to defend HarperCollins, I am just taking issue with the attitude that since they want to use Watermarks, that means that Watermarks are EVIL.

                I agree with the vast majority of things that are posted here, but every once in a while a technical subject comes up where a bunch of folks here just get it wrong (at least as far as I’m concerned 🙂

                Watermarks being Evil and something to bitterly object to as being just the same as DRM is one of those things.

                DRM hurts the legitimate user significantly, and since our eyeballs can’t read encrypted text, cannot possibly actually work (no matter how it’s implemented)

                Watermarking (done properly) has no effect on the legitimate user and could actually work.

                Ridicule HC for trying to use Watermarks badly, point out all the problems with how they are using it, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that because they are misusing the technology that the technology can’t be done right.

                September 17, 2014
        • Alan #

          I think the secondary (i.e. used) book market is sufficiently valuable to people and to society (via encouraging more reading, more exposure to authors and genres, etc. in a society that seems trending toward graphic entertainments) that the paradigm should be maintained for ebooks.
          Thus the legitimate target of DRM/watermarks/whatever is not to prevent the reselling of a single copy but to prevent republishing, .

          September 16, 2014
      • Not necessarily. I used to pirate a fair number of video games back in the day. Why did I stop? Because game software publishers started putting out “demo versions”. I could make sure that the game I was interested in wasn’t going to manifest crash level incompatibilities with other installed software on the first level before I laid out $50-60 for a “non-returnable if package seal was broken” game. With books, I’m not spending that much money and so it’s not an issue.

        Besides, I’m usually buying from authors like the entire Baen crew whose writing is pretty much guaranteed not to suck no matter where I buy it.

        September 17, 2014
  11. Reblogged this on The Worlds of Tarien Cole and commented:
    Of course, I still technically *am* an amateur for a few more months. But still, it doesn’t matter. The only “real” writers are the ones who work for ‘the cause.’

    September 16, 2014
  12. Alan #

    “Amateur”: One who loves what they’re doing.

    September 16, 2014
  13. Well, I have two translations out. In two years, I’ve made less than 200 dollars, which was about what I expected. The discouraging bit is that nobody among all my customers, in all the countries where I’ve had customers, has ever left me any reviews (unless maybe people have left me reviews that Amazon hasn’t let through). Not even my friends or relatives, which is pretty sad. But honestly, it’s exactly what I expected, because none of my friends or relatives ever bought my filk stuff either.

    On the bright side, when I showed my parents the Createspace proof the other day for the paper edition, they did actually recognize that I’ve been doing something all this time.

    So yeah, Mr. Two Star Review has absolutely no idea how lucky he is. His readers are deigning to interact with him. 🙂

    September 16, 2014
    • Well, actually my online friends are pretty supportive, and my friend who lives in another city. Maybe it’s just people who live in my immediate vicinity who hesitate to buy my stuff. They must fear an overdose of awesomeness. 🙂

      September 16, 2014
      • BobtheRegisterredFool #

        I’ve chronic hyperawesome disorder, and have to be very careful about limiting my exposure, lest my liver shut down.

        September 16, 2014
  14. I read about the HC watermark on the Passive Guy blog…and I wondered if maybe Amazon might consider doing the same. I agree with the folks who prefer it to DRM, and I also agree that the watermark might help some people stay honest. Kind of like posting a “No Trespassing” sign on your property, even if you aren’t there to defend the boundary with gun and dog. People still fear the lawyer if they’re caught.

    As for my reviews, I’ve been pretty fortunate. More fortunate than I have been in my sales! 😉

    September 16, 2014
  15. Obviously, independently published books are trash and only novels published by the mainstream publishers are worthy of being read. It’s exactly the same as those trashy independent films!
    Pulp Fiction? Obviously not as well made as Smurfs 2.
    The Usual Suspects? Completely worthless compared to classics like Jaws 4 The Revenge.
    Need I go on?

    September 16, 2014
    • Draven #

      Some of the examples you cited are films that were about as independent as… I dunno, Hong Kong. Pulp Fiction was paid for by Miramax, the first film they greenlighted after they were bought by Disney. That’s about as ‘studio’ as films get these days. I get tired of Tarantino pretending he’s still ‘indie’. (Well, i get tired of him in general, but that’s another story)

      September 16, 2014
  16. DaveC #

    OK, I’ll weigh in on the watermark issue.

    First: HC want to watermark PER RETAILER/DISTRIBUTOR not per purchaser. It seems that the backlash about the ‘upgrade’ to Adobe DRM surprised them and they are trying to get past that by putting the burden on the distributor.
    The plan seems to be that they will find out which distributor/retailer sold the book and pressure them to “upgrade their security”. This not good for anyone. How long before you have to be online and validated before you can start reading a book on your device?

    Second: They are, like the music industry, targeting the wrong group. The music industry went after individuals when there were many profitable groups that were producing copies on an industrial scale. They are going after the small guys when someone can (and probably will) pay for the book via a cut-out, strip the DRM (ignoring the watermark), add it to a CD with several others and sell the CD in India 1000’s of times over.

    Third: It won’t work. The main problem with watermarks is that you don’t have to remove them to defeat them. You just have to disrupt them ‘enough’ to make them unrecognizable as to their source. This is hard for a 4GiB movie but not really difficult for a 300 KB – 2MiB KB book unless you want to double/triple the size with ‘invisible’ random junk.
    The typical file sharer won’t bother with the watermark, but the commercial grade guys will and THESE are the ones that are costing sales.

    Finally: It is a solution on search of a problem. There are only a small percentage of people who have access to reasonably priced ebook, have the money to pay for it, and an accessible purchase path who will go to the effort of: Finding a torrent tracker, searching for the book, firing up their torrent client and side-loading the book. After all, on Amazon you click the button and it is delivered in seconds.

    Sorry for the run-on sentence in the last para,

    DaveC

    September 17, 2014
    • snelson134 #

      “How long before you have to be online and validated before you can start reading a book on your device?”

      That would be “never” because any distributor implementing something that obnoxious is one I won’t buy books from. EVER.

      September 17, 2014

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