02 October 2015

Sometimes It's Not Just The Message, But The Messenger: Thoughts on Pope Francis

A friend was surprised when I shared an image with the same text as this one on Facebook:

which, thanks to Pope Francis, isn't really that outrageous of a claim. I mean, check this article out, if you're skeptical: 9 Times Pope Francis Was More Progressive Than The Republican Party When It Came To U.S. Policy.

His reason for being surprised was later summarized in a post where he said:
If atheists love the current pope and what he says, what does that say about the Catholic church? Has everyone suddenly been converted, or am I not that familiar with what that church has taught?
And see, here's the thing.  The core principles of the faith - you know, the ones we've had for nearly two thousand years after one man had been nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change - are the same. They're why I had returned to the church for a while.

But Jesus, save me from your followers.

Since Francis started talking about economic justice or expressing any religious tolerance, there's been a lot of folks who previously bleated about papal obedience backtracking all over themselves and saying that Francis doesn't dictate church law.  (They're right - but they also conveniently forgot that during JP2 and Benedict.)

And more importantly, it's people like that - or those who were more like Benedict - who drove me away from the Church. Their intolerance and hatred of those who had different opinions or ways of life physically repelled me... and those like me.

And during the abuse scandals - and the frankly horrific coverups that Benedict and most of the current bishopric participated in - many others fled the Church.

And then when you have prominent Catholics like Bill Donohue and Rick Santorum... well.

In my community, it seemed like intolerance, hatred, and blind adherence to authority were the key qualities of the most active members of the Church.

But with Pope Francis... things seem to have changed.

It isn't that the core teachings of the Church are any different.  

What's striking is that Pope Francis is so unlike so many of Catholicism's most vocal adherents... in the best possible way.

You can read a transcript of Pope Francis' speech to Congress here: http://time.com/4048176/pope-francis-us-visit-congress-transcript/

30 September 2015

Being Transparent About Finances: More About Alliteration Ink's Print Price Increase

Over the weekend, I announced (via both the e-mail newsletter1 and then the blog) that Alliteration Ink's print prices will be going up by a dollar on 3 October 2015.

There's a couple of things I wanted to take a little more time to unpack in detail here.

How the money is going to the authors and editors

In all cases, the editors get royalties directly from sales of the books, and in many cases, the authors get the royalties directly as well. This is especially true of the earlier books I've published - the authors only get paid via royalties for about half the books I've published.

There are some exceptions - and it's those that I want to talk about.  I've historically been running things so that if Alliteration Ink breaks even, it's a success. That's great for starting out, but I've reached the point where in order to offer the kinds of pay rates that I want, I have to turn to crowdfunding.  (I mentioned this about two months ago.)

But even that has issues... because while all of my Kickstarters have succeeded, I cannot guarantee that they'll succeed. And I am asking editors and authors to do work based on that promise.

What I'm doing now with Alliteration Ink's earnings is stockpiling them to be able to guarantee a minimum rate to authors, giving them more stability and security in a time when US authors are making less than the poverty line.

Or in short:

All profit that Alliteration Ink sees goes back into making more books and paying authors, editors, and artists.

Digital Book Pricing

I'm not going to change eBook prices at this time, because it simply doesn't make sense to. There's three reasons for that.
First: I've been keeping prices so that the average net profit2 is the same whether it's a print book sale or eBook sale.

Second: when I look at other small presses, my eBook prices are right in line with theirs.

Third: I'm a reader as well. I like the convenience of digital books, and I like purchasing books and supporting authors. Right now I can keep all my digital titles about the price of a cup of fancy coffee - but they'll give you far more enjoyment.

And I'll still be able to give the authors and editors the same amount of support.

That's pretty awesome.

Finally: I am an active partner with Shelfie (previously known as BitLit).  That means that if you buy a print book I've published - even if you bought it years ago - you can use the Shelfie app to get the digital version free.  I've been working with them for a year now and have been very pleased with their service. I'm finally revamping the print books to include the bookplate to make getting the bundled digital version even easier.

I hope this explains some things; if you have any questions, hit me up via e-mail or in the comments.

1 A side note: if you want to know what's going on first, sign up for the newsletter at http://eepurl.com/blMdOv!)
2 If you're unfamiliar, the net profits per print book vary wildly depending on how it's sold. So yes, if you buy a book directly from me, more profits go to the authors... but that's not how most people buy the books I publish.

29 September 2015

In Memory of This Is My Jam

I really liked This is My Jam, which just went into "archive" status.  As they put it:
 This is an archive of the music community This Is My Jam. From 2011 to 2015, every song posted here was someone’s favorite.
From hit releases to rare finds to old gold, Jam is home to over two million carefully hand-picked songs. All jams, no filler.
Explore the archives and browse the song collections of the members who made Jam what it was. Get every collection as a Spotify playlist, like this.

It had problems. It was sometimes hard to just... listen.  And sometimes it was a real trial to be able to find an audio or video version of the song you wanted to post that allowed embedding.


Aside from cool things like the posterwall of my jams, there was something deliberate about This is My Jam.  Sure, if you're interested in what I'm listening to, you can follow me on last.fm (hint: lately it's been VNV Nation. A LOT of VNV Nation), but sometimes what I'm just playing isn't quite the same as what I'd choose to represent "my jam".

And looking back over the last few years of my jams, there's a story there.  (If you know, you can see it pretty clearly.  At least, I can.)

So I think I'm going to be posting jams every week or so over on my tumblr with the #thisismyjam tag.  Just because.