Saturday, November 26, 2016

Escape From New Orleans Now Available on Storytel

Escape From New Orleans, Episode 3 of The American Fathers serial, has finally been published ... in Sweden. It's also available in Denmark, Norway, Finland, the Netherlands, and Poland. Storytel is the first audiobook platform, out of Author Republic's 30 publishing partners, to publish all 3 of the books available so far in the serial. 




Wednesday, July 13, 2016

We Are A Country of Winners And Losers

2016 has been a year of remarkable insights. By way of example, here's a quote from Neal Gabler, author of an article published recently in The Atlantic titled: The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans.






"We have a political candidate who has divided the country into winners and losers, and believe me he didn't have to do that, because most of us think that way anyway."

If you understand this aspect of the American psyche, than you understand the Affordable Care Act "debate", you understand why Donald Trump became the Republican party's nominee, and you understand why our economic, political, and social problems will be so difficult to solve. 







Gabler goes onto to say:


"Americans have always believed, and they've been, frankly, taught to believe ... that it's all on you ... if you're having financial difficulty, it is completely your fault. Because anybody can make it in this country, if you work hard enough, right? Well, I'm gonna tell you right now, and I'm resentful about this, and if I sound angry, I am angry. You can't work harder than I work. And it's not true. And you want to know something. If you talk to tens of millions of Americans, who work hard and don't live above their means. It's not true. And it's about time we deprogram ourselves from thinking if we work hard than we'll get everything we want. It's not true."


Nancy Isenberg said essentially the same thing in her interview on All Things Considered after discussing her new book White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America

"Well, I think Americans like to believe that they support the idea of equality. We think that equality is something that can be earned. This particularly from a more conservative point of view - the idea that if you work hard, you'll get ahead. We have to be more aware of our historical roots. We have to stop telling ourselves stories about American exceptionalism. We can't keep repeating those myths that we are a land of social mobility when we're not."

The connection between systems and the impact they have in our lives is either invisible or severely diminished in the eyes of individuals who subscribe to the winners and losers view of the world. That connection, however, is in fact quite real. The refusal to discard the winners and losers perspective in spite of everyone's undeniable need for government support has produced what Suzanne Mettler calls the submerged state. 


The submerged state in one graph 

By Ezra Klein 


"The submerged state" is Cornell professor Suzanne Mettler's term for the slew of government policies that most Americans don't know exist or don't realize are government policies. As part of her paper -- gated, sadly -- exploring how these invisible programs affect the politics of social policy, she designed a study asking people first whether they'd ever used a government program and then later whether they had ever taken advantage of 19 specific programs. The percentage of people who didn't think they used government programs and then admitted using government programs is shockingly large. This graph tells the tale. For each program, it shows the percentage of people who said they used it but had originally said they hadn't used any government programs:




This slow recognition of America's less attractive cultural norms is interesting to watch. In a conversation on Morning Joe with the author of the book Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis  

"You wonder," Joe Scarborough asked, "whether these people would be sitting at home all day shooting heroin if they had jobs to go to?"



How long have communities around the country suffered from these problems? Are we really coming around to acknowledging what's been happening for decades?

I wonder how long it will take us to acknowledge other fundamental realities about our country. Take our system of government, for instance. The United States of America is a constitutional republic. I'm willing to bet most Americans are unfamiliar with that term. Why? Well, not one story, not one narrative, exists around the notion constitutional republic. Most Americans believe candidates for office are chosen by the people, but, as this year has shown, votes in primaries and votes in caucuses are suggestions made by electorates to political parties, and the major two parties - the Democratic Party and the Republican Party - are private institutions. Leaders in these two parties are not bound by the suggestions made by the voters who participated in the primaries and in the caucuses. 






That is a big part of the disconnect between the political class and electorates all around the country. There are at least two different America's: the America experienced by elites in control, and the America experienced by the rest of us.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Who Belongs In America?

I first saw Sebastian Junger, author of the new book Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, in an interview on the Show +All In with Chris Hayes. I will post exactly what he said in that interview as soon as the transcript is available. But here's what I was able to quickly dictate while watching the show:


The contempt that we’ve seen in the recent political season ... many political leaders speaking with incredible contempt and lack of respect and derision for their fellow citizens, for the president, for the congress, for parts of the demographic. That kind of tone is reserved for when you’re talking about the enemy. You don’t do it when you’re talking about people in your own camp. People that you have to rely on. And I think that what happens with a lot of soldiers is that they fight for their country, and they come back, and they realize that they’ve just fought for a country that’s fighting with itself. Imagine how destructive that is?

We are at war with ourselves, but this perspective only really makes sense if you assume everyone who claims a stake in this country truly belongs here. Our fighting is based on strongly held feelings about who deserves what, who should be in charge, and whose participation is legitimate. 

I was beginning to wonder whether anyone else realized that our lack of cohesion as a country is one of the reasons we are not solving more problems. Junger says about as much in another interview he did on +Morning Joe





In the +TEDx talk below, Junger presents an antithetical dynamic to what we see in American politics today. He calls it brotherhood:


Brotherhood is different from friendship. Friendship happens in society, obviously. The more you like someone, the more you'd be willing to do for them. Brotherhood has nothing to do with how you feel about the other person. It's a mutual agreement, in a group. That you will put the welfare of the group, that you will put the safety of everyone else in the group above your own. In effect you're saying, I love these other people more than I love myself. 





That's an interesting ideal. I wonder, though, based on our history, whether it's an American ideal? Or whether it's an ideal that can only be implemented within the same race?

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Publishing My Audiobooks Through Author's Republic - Early Stages

I published my first audiobook last summer. Adrianne Cury was the narrator, director, and my co-producer, and we published Swept Away through Audiobook Creation Exchange, otherwise known as +ACX.  

I've learned a lot since that first experience. Adrianne and I are in the studio again, working with the engineer of Howling Sow and a cast of actors to record Dinner Invitation and Escape From New Orleans. Like last time, I will be publishing a series of posts about the experience, including the process of renewing my contract with +SAG-AFTRA Foundation, my experience at both the Audiobook Publishers Association Conference (APAC) and Book Expo America (BEA) in Chicago. But first I'd like to post about looking into the new distribution service for audiobooks called Author's Republic

Publishing through  ACX made my book available on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes. I looked into sites like Downpour, and platforms like Overdrive, but had a hard time figuring out how to submit my content as an independent author. In fairness, this information isn't any more accessible on Audible's site than it is on other platforms, but because of Amazon's dominance in independent publishing, and because there's no viable alternative for independent authors, finding your way to ACX is fairly easy. Adrianne made the suggestion that we use ACX after our +Kickstarter campaign for publishing The American Fathers as a free podcast did not reach its funding goal. Our supporters were gracious enough to fund the recording of Episode 1, Swept Away, so we went in the studio with our incredible cast. In June of 2015 we published that first episode. 

Anyone familiar with self publishing through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) knows how competitive publishing on the Amazon platform can be. One of the things that attracts me to Author's Republic is the ability to publish on over a dozen platforms, including +Audiobooks.com+Downpour.com, and +Scribd. Author's Republic was started by Sanjay Singhal, CEO of Audiobooks.com.   




One of the most interesting things Sanjay said during his interview with the +CBC News show The Exchange, was that 70% of audiobook consumers listen to audiobooks in their cars. As an author, that is a fascinating statistic. 

So to my experience so far. First, as an author who already has an ACX account, I needed to know whether I could keep that account and continue publishing through it, in addition to publishing through Author's Republic. The answer appears to be yes, but the key here is switching from an exclusive arrangement with ACX to a non-exclusive arrangement. 

That's a big deal. With ACX, switching from exclusive to non-exclusive is possible, but switching from non-exclusive to exclusive is not. So once I make the switch, there's no going back. 

This takes me to the next consideration: how accessible are the people at Author's Republic. You'll notice when you log onto their website that there's a info@authorsrepublic.com email address , but there's no telephone number. I did receive a response to my email query within 24 hours, but that response did feel a little canned. The email included a pdf outlining a comparison between ACX and Author's Republic. 










+Shari Stauch, the author of the post New Audiobook Distribution Service: Author’s Republic Offers New Options for Authors and Publishers was very helpful in connecting me with someone involved with the service. But given the trade off involved in making this decision, losing the option of an exclusive contract with ACX, I'm still hoping to get more information about Author's Republic when I attend the APAC and BEA conferences in May. I'll post updates regarding this process then.

In the meantime, here are links to the other posts I found about the service:

New Audiobook Option for Authors

Author’s Republic is Audiobooks.com New Distribution Service

Audiobooks.com Debuts New Audiobook Distribution Service: Author’s Republic

New ALLi Partner Author’s Republic Offers Simple New Audiobook Distribution Option

Thursday, March 17, 2016

My Scribophile Friend's Unbound Campaign - Ashael Rising

Ashael is smart, tough, curious, and she has her whole life ahead of her. You will love her, which is why I'm telling you about the Unbound campaign to publish her story, Ashael Rising

I know a lot of you are self published authors like me, so you appreciate what Shona Kinsella is trying to do through Unbound. Shona and the other members of my Ubergroup team on Scribophile are a big part of my writing process. Like all other virtual groups, this online writing group allows me to collaborate with writers all over the U.S. and all over he world. 

I'm on my second read of Ashael's story, and I can attest to the work Shona has put into developing this character, building her world, expanding the premise, and rounding out the character arc.  



Unbound seems like a great way to publish a novel. Until Shona's opportunity to launch a campaign, I'd never heard of Unbound, but, apparently, their first successful campaign was in 2011 with Terry Jones and Evil Machines.





If you want to learn more about Unbound, here are a couple of articles I found about the company:



Unbound's Crowd-Financed, Spine-Tingling Effort To Reinvent Book Publishing



Crowdfunding the Next Big Thing in Publishing?


And The Independent Publishing Magazine+Mick Rooney - wrote a review of Unbound, in which it listed the company's pros and cons:


PROS
  • Full trade distribution (with 3rd party sales team)
  • Proven track record of selling books
  • Transparent terms of contract
  • In-built reader eco-system
  • Publisher also sells books from its website
  • Higher rate of royalties (50% net) than other publishers
  • Open submission process — literary agent representation not required
  • Any submitted book or idea for one will be considered and afforded a response

CONS
  • No advance on royalties
  • High crowdfunding target
  • Author likely requires established/sizeable fan base to reach target
  • Book cannot be previously self-published
  • May not suit a book series
  • The publisher is reliant on an author’s fan base to support Unbound’s subscriber eco-system before publication
  • Low publisher output — just 54 books in 3 and half years (or about 1 title every 5 weeks)

Saturday, March 5, 2016

How Would Canadians Feel About An Influx of Immigrants From America?

This was the first comment in response to the +Washington Week with Gwen Ifill article by +Matt Loffman  titled You Want to Move to Canada, Eh?
Tom •  I moved to Canada in 2006 and am now a Canadian citizen. I have absolutely no desire to return to the US, and frankly hope conservative Americans stay away so they don't ruin a very civilized, wonderful country. 

As a way of dealing with how depressing our politics are sometimes I fantasize about moving to Canada. I had no idea so many other Americans were actively looking into it.



















According to +Matt Loffman's article, there's even a website called Cape Brenton If Donald Trump Wins, which +CNN covered in this news segment: Serene Canadian island courts 'Trump refugees' 






















Now I can imagine some of you see the occasional instance like this one, in which Brent Brown introduces President Obama, by way of explaining how he came around to appreciating the Affordable Care Act, as a sign that things could get better.


.


I, however, see it as a reason to seriously consider moving to Canada. On the show +All In with Chris Hayes Brent Brown explained the reason he was vehemently opposed to the Affordable Care Act at first and the reason he came around to seeing its value.




To me, both explanations illustrate the reason Trump may win in November.   

Chris Hayes asked Brent Brown: 
Do you remember, following the Obamacare debate, what you thought about it when it was talked about as this abstraction? 

Brent Brown: Initially? 

Chris Hayes: Yeah 

Brent went on to explain that his thought process was: 
Republican, good. Democrat, Bad. That was my thought process. That it was going to be very expensive, and that there were going to be many loafers that were going to take advantage of the system.And that's it's not an O.K. thing to back if you are a conservative.
The chances of Trump becoming president of the United States of America can be framed like this. 


Bernie Sanders (Democrat) VS Donald Trump (Republican) 


Out of the total number of people who vote, Trump wins if: 

The number of people for whom a socialist is a bad person > the number of people appalled by Donald 


Hilary Clinton VS Donald Trump 


Out of the total number of people who vote, Trump wins if: 

The number of people who *hate Hilary > the number of people appalled by Donald Trump 

(*sadly, like President Obama, there is a group of Americans that can be defined by their hatred of Hilary Clinton.)