HERE’S WHAT HAPPENED THIS WEEK: THE BIG QUESTION, PAY-TO-PLAY, AND I’M HITTING 20K AGAIN

Hey everybody! It’s time for the Friday update, where I share a few thoughts on some of the self-publishing news that caught my eye this week. After that, I’ll give you a quick status report on what’s going on with my new book.

Okay, so first I’d like to throw a question out there to everyone: Is this a good time, or a bad time, to get into self-publishing? Personally, I feel like this question will be THE question of the week, every week, until something really big (and kind of unexpected) happens to disrupt the market’s current trends.

I’m seeing very distinct signs all around me, and they remind me of almost exactly what I saw happening in the voiceover industry, over the last ten years.

In a nutshell, it’s something like this: Technology lowers the barriers to entry. Traditional gatekeepers are not happy, but everybody else seems to be. Then waves of new talent floods the market. Prices fall. Massive new platforms get their initial boost from the sudden uptick in market activity, but then begin showing signs of turning into pay-to-play portals as soon as market saturation becomes impossible to ignore.

And then what? Well, that’s the problem with the voiceover industry right now. We haven’t gotten there yet. It’s an ugly place these days, filled with people who are claiming to do voiceover as a “side hustle” and asking everybody really stupid and annoying questions like “so… how much should I charge for doing voiceovers?”

As far as I can tell, the self-publishing industry is right on the razor’s edge of taking the next step into a world of pay-to-play business models. If you don’t know what that means, it’s basically a situation where platforms like the house Amazon has built, begin charging writers an entry fee, just to become members, before they even publish anything. Or even if they never publish anything.

So do you think that’s going to happen in the self-publishing biz? I certainly hope not, and you indies should too.

Alright, enough gloom and doom, right? It’s time for a quick update on my book’s progress! I’m happy to report that I was hitting the keyboard pretty hard this week, and I’m back to nearly 20,000 words. Well… at this moment, it’s actually about 19,800 words, but that’s close enough to 20K for me to feel good about making up for work that I lost after the massive edit frenzy I threw myself into, just a couple of weeks ago.

As this is my first novel, the process has been highly educational. To be honest, I really didn’t even know if I was going to be able to write so much, about a single topic.

You know, when I was staring at a blank computer screen, it occurred to me that over the past ten years, all the writing I have ever done before this year was oriented towards copywriting, magazine articles, and advertising… which rarely ever exceeded 1,000 words at a time. Most of the time, it was less than 500 words per submission.

Now I’m building a story, with characters, and a timeline. When I really get going, it feels like I’m dreaming with my eyes open, which is a very interesting experience. That’s when I find myself typing for a whole hour, without even noticing. Other times, I get stuck on a scene transition, or a bit of dialogue, and then it feels like I’m running into a brick wall.

This weekend I’m going to take a break from writing, and prepare myself for a big change in the story. I spent the last two weeks building up my main character’s bad situation, and now it’s time to give him a chance to re-establish himself in a whole new and unfamiliar setting, as he tries to get his life together… in spite of the odds.

Well, that’s it for this episode of the Friday update. Now it’s time for me to get back to writing! I hope your book-related projects are also coming along, and of course I’d love to hear about that, or whatever is on your mind, in the comments. Have a great weekend!

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HERE’S WHAT HAPPENED LAST WEEK: QUESTIONS OF AMAZONIAN PROPORTIONS, STAYING CLASSY, AND DREAMING OF 15K

Hey guys! Those of you who are writing every day… you know how important it is to take a break every now and then.

So… what better way to do that, than to catch up on news about writing?

Here’s the stuff that got my attention last week:

I’m seeing lots of buzz about the future of Amazon Self Publishing, Audible, and KDP.

More specifically, there are two big questions that really seem to stand out:

  1. Will Amazon’s catalog of publishing options rapidly morph into unfriendly, monolithic, corporate pay-to-play platforms?
  2. Will the company lose market share to small and agile indie publishing companies that can focus on giving indie authors more bang for their precious indie bucks?

I don’t have the answers, but I do know that it reminds me of almost exactly what happened to the voiceover industry, since around 2005. You should look into that, if you want to hear a twisted tale of pay-to-pay platforms gone wrong, and the effects of total market saturation.

What I’m especially aware of is the fact that most writers are freelancers, just like most voice actors. My own business model as a voice actor has changed three times over the last five years! Personally, I think something similar will happen with self-publishing too.

Okay, let’s move on to my next topic. I saw another another debate circulating throughout the Internets about what makes a book slick-looking and professional, versus amateur-looking and just plain cheap.

Well, I’m all for making my independently published work as good as possible before releasing it to the world, but at the same time… how good is good enough, really? Besides a great story and great writing, what exactly are the most significant indicators?

For example, I don’t think the typical reader cares if my book has an ISBN number, or if there’s a major publishing company’s logo on the cover.

On the other hand, I would like to hire an artist to produce my book’s cover, because I do think my readers will care about that.

Finally, a quick update on my book. Last week I was feeling bummed out because I edited 20K words down to 14K words. This week, I’m happy to report that I’ve put another 1000 words of quality stuff into it, and the only thing I can think about is how good it will feel when I can tell you I’m back at the 20K mark.

Well guys, that’s it for this episode of my weekly update… time to get back to writing. I hope your book is coming along, and of course I’d love to hear about that, or whatever is on your mind, in the comments below!

DO YOU REMEMBER WHEN BIRTHDAYS WERE FUN?

Hey guys! Here’s me reading an excerpt from my new book, in the video above. I’ve also posted the text below, just in case you’d like to read it for yourself.

By the way, I’m starting to come down with a wicked cold, but I didn’t let that stop me. Oh no.

And now I’m gonna go lie down. See you on Monday.


Remember when birthdays were fun? For me, that was a long time ago, as I seem to recall the last good one happening when I was six years old.

It had been raining all morning, but as soon as the weather cleared up, there were sausages and burgers grilling in our backyard. A group of men stood around the fire, talking about sports and taking turns gesturing to each other with a can of beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other.

Women in short skirts and sunglasses were chasing kids around and struggling to keep their high-heeled shoes from sinking into the damp lawn.

The kids were all supposedly my friends, but in reality I only liked two of them — the War-cow-ski (actually pronounced ‘Wakowski’) twins from across the street.

Old Mrs. Van Dijk was there too, smiling sweetly while holding a Salem Menthol in her pale, wrinkled hand. I watched as she took drags from the perfectly straight, crisp white cigarette, leaving smears of blood-red lipstick on the filter end, while producing a glowing tip of ash that dangled precariously from the opposite end.

Legions of tiny black ants formed dotted-line trails as they were busy weaving and streaming up the legs of the table. They disappeared into a collection of plates, napkins, and overflowing bowls of chips, heading towards a massive cake that was proudly parked on the family picnic table, right under the shade of our Elm tree.

The cake was supposedly an edible replica of a World War Two fighter airplane, but somehow I remember it looking a lot more like the distended body of a dead shark morbidly flashing a final rigor-induced scowl, while rapidly decomposing in the summer heat. Humidity clung to sugary icing in sticky globules and formed sweet, heavy drops that rolled down the sides, leaving glistening trails behind them. There was even a small swarm of hungry insects buzzing around it, giving the scene a truly macabre effect.

One of the kids who came to my party had a nosebleed. I saw this as an opportunity to snatch one of the fondant-colored candles from my cake while everybody was distracted, taking a moment to admire its pearly, confectionary appearance before I popped it into my mouth and hastily chewed it into a shockingly flavorless, waxy paste.

I started gagging, and Mom became hysterical. My father was drunk, as usual, and told her that they would simply have another kid, if this one died from candle poisoning, ha-ha. In an instant, she was kneeling in front of me, with one hand formed into a fingernail-tipped vise that gripped my face with enough force to make my cheeks hurt. Her other hand swiped at my nose, mouth, and chin, using a napkin she repeatedly folded over and dabbed on her tongue with every pass.

Then I started to cry, and the last good birthday of my life was over. Not too long after that sixth birthday, I distinctly remember how my parents started shouting, slamming doors, and frequently sending me to my room, “so the adults could talk.”


Leave a comment, and I’ll add you to my list. If you request a copy of this audiobook excerpt, I’ll email an MP3 to you for FREE!

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

© Copyright Darius Marley. ONEm² Limited. All rights reserved.

HERE’S WHAT HAPPENED LAST WEEK: ALTERNATIVE ENDINGS, USELESS MARKETING, AND HARDCORE EDITS

Hey guys! For those of you who are writing every day, you know how important it is to take a break every now and then.

So… what better way to do it, than to catch up on writing-related news?

Here’s a quick recap of stuff that caught my eye last week:

Since late last year, I’ve been noticing a trend that’s bringing back the old choose your own adventure format, which I always enjoyed, waaayyy back in the 1980s, when I was a kid.

Those of you who read them know what I’m talking about. Yeah. Vampire Express? Remember that one?

Recently I spotted a few online posts that seem to be putting a negative spin on the “choose your own ending” or even the “alternate ending” style of writing, which has some writers calling it a “cop out” or “lazy writing” that they claim is extremely non-committal and generally just weak storytelling.

Well, I don’t think I would go that far, but it was good to see other writers defending the format, calling it “interesting and experimental… putting the creative back into creative writing,” and one of my favorite comebacks, which was “if movies can offer alternate endings, then why can’t books?”

On to the next topic, which is about marketing. We’re always looking at stuff about marketing, am I right? It’s such a huge part of what we do, as writers who strive to reach an audience and sell some books.

However, I was reminded that it’s important to have a vision before we come up with a marketing plan. Now I’m not really crazy about the term “vision,” but the point is, if there’s no endgame to what you’re writing, then all the marketing in the world isn’t really going to help, is it?

In other words, I don’t want to be the writer who’s all over facebook, twitter, linkedin, instagram, and yes, even youtube… the writer who uses all the social media, but doesn’t really have a feasible book in progress.

Alright, now for the last item on this week’s update. On a personal note, I just finished a fairly aggressive edit on my most recent work, which brought my word count down from almost 20K words, to just over 14K words. Yeah. It hurts to slash away at hours of effort, but I know it was necessary, because it really helped the story to tighten up and flow better, without all that extra fluff that wasn’t really driving it along.

Well guys, that’s it for this episode of my weekly update… time to get back to writing. I hope your book is coming along, and of course I’d love to hear about that, or whatever is on your mind, in the comments below!

YOU CAN HEAR ME, WRITE?

I’m a voice guy by day, and a writer by… well… I actually do that during the day, too. At night, I dream of finishing my book, and then recording it just for you! In today’s video, we’re going to talk about how my weekly audiobook excerpts can be sent straight to your email inbox. If that doesn’t give you the tingles, at least my video can offer some “low-grade euphoria.” Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

WHY DO YOU WRITE BOOKS ANYWAY?

Relax. I’m not going to dive into some kind of soul-searching, existential thing here. Instead, I’m addressing the concerns of some writers who have trouble deciding on the “right” genre for a newly-finished book. My suggestion: Stop asking yourself how you wish to present your work, but instead, try asking yourself why you are publishing in the first place.