Going Gets Tough

I’ve been blogging for a long while now. There are dry periods, where I have nothing much to say except for the minutiae of daily life–how the book-sausage gets made, what the dogs have done now, how publishing is changing. Oh, and the weather. Of course the weather is a constant concern.

I partly blame reading military history; weather is always the third general upon the field, and one who can’t be ignored. Today the rain has washed away everything except a few sheltered snow holdouts. The streets are awash, the roof kissed over and over by falling drops. The dogs aren’t going to like our outing, at least not when the initial oh boy we’re outside WITH MUM wears off.

That takes about ninety seconds in a downpour. They must love me a lot.

This morning I woke up with Jack T. Colton from Romancing the Stone yelling “Oh, man, the Doobie Brothers broke up!” Which meant I had to go listen to What a Fool Believes and then onto a Twitter rant about how much I love that damn movie and how it’s probably responsible for my current career.1

Now you know who to blame, I guess? When the going gets tough

Copyedits continue apace. I spent some serious time yesterday looking into Ingram Spark and mass-market paperback trim sizes. If I get the whole PDF cover template thing done, the first experiment is Steelflower in mass-market size.

It’s a great time to be self-publishing, IF one knows what one’s doing. If one doesn’t, the options available might boggle one into inaction or worse, signing away one’s rights without proper compensation. Or one might think that because of a crying fit brought on by frustration (I fucking hate PDF cover templates, let me sing you a whole song about how I hate them) the entire thing isn’t worth doing, and toss it all out the door.

Yes, I was tempted yesterday. But today’s a whole new day, I’ve got my spark back and the heat set to the wick. Today is for more copyedits, and when I can’t do that anymore because my head will explode if I look at one more comma placement question, I might put together a soundtrack for HOOD and poke a bit more at cover templates.

But for right now, it’s raining and the dogs need a walk. See you around, chickadees.

Read ’em and weep. I always do.

Flood Watch

The Keepers

The snow is worn away by waves of rain, and yesterday I went looking through my old notes for avatar. I left Michael crucified in midair, and maybe he’s hung there enough. I really never liked him, but maybe I was a wee bit vengeful…

…nah, probably not. Maybe he needs to stay there a bit longer.

Anyway, I’ve got to get out and move. The snow was nice, but I’ve got to run, and Sir Boxnoggin needs his edges worn off. Today is all copyedits all the time the instant I settle to real work, and that’s going to quite make my mood. Of course I have to make a few changes to the map of a fictional country, and that will quite make my mood as well.

The dogs don’t care that it’s raining–yet. They care only that they haven’t been run and I managed to get my hair into a ponytail, which means WALKIES ARE ALMOST UPON US. I suppose nothing is really harmed by running them in the rain; it’ll just make the house smell like wet dog.

…just as I typed that, my phone beeped. There’s a flood watch–all the snow, now all the rain washing it away. Great.

Well, the water will only rise from here. Might as well get out while it’s still a trickle instead of a flood. That way when I come home, everyone can dry off, warm up, and be glad to be inside for the rest of the day.

And I’ll leave Constantius hanging for some while longer. I have to edge up onto this book, which means thinking about its habits and feeding while I’m neck-deep in six other projects, including Dolls. That one’s going to be fun.

Every once in a while, thinking about my own mortality, I say I can’t die yet, I have edits to finish. It’s my own personal wall against misfortune; I cannot be killed until I have finished my work, and plenty is left undone. I know, realistically, it doesn’t matter–Death does not play favorites, nor does she care for unfinished business–but it makes me feel better and more productive during the time I have, so I aim to continue.

Off we go into curtains of rain. Boxnoggin will be ecstatic for roughly the first four minutes, before it penetrates his thick skull that we’re not going back inside to shake off anytime soon. Miss B, of course, will only care about getting done so we can go inside to shake off. This is the great division between them, and instructive to watch.

Happy Monday, hoopy froods. May your toad-swallowing for the day be performed quickly, cleanly, and with a minimum of fuss, as I hope my own will be.

*laces shoes, nods, and takes off into the rain*

A Dusting to Halt

This is the amount of snow it takes to close down school for the day. Mostly because the buses have to get out before dawn and the roads were ice-coated; who needs parents breathing down their nape because a bus went a little wonky? Of course, there are lots of transplants screaming “this ain’t snow, why, back home we have to dig our way out of the garage on the regular,” as if the Pacific Northwest is somehow the same as Minnesota. *eyeroll*

It’s supposed to be subzero tonight, which means the road will be another icy hellscape early tomorrow. But for today, we have a lot of hot cocoa, a lot of reading, and a lot of chunky sweaters and lap-blankets, not to mention dogs who have suddenly rediscovered humans have body heat too.

Poor Boxnoggin; this appears to be the first time he’s seen this White Coat of Death on everything, and he keeps giving me looks like Mum, make this stop, why are you doing this? He picks up each paw EXTRA high and gives it a shake when he’s forced to walk outside, and outright refuses to get near the gate because that means walkies and walkies mean OMG COLD ON MY WIDDLE FEETSIES.

Miss B, of course, is built for all weathers, but she’s old now, and quite content to stay inside where it’s warm and soft. Just because she can doesn’t mean she will wander outside more than the bare necessary. Currently she has moved from behind my chair to the Big Spacious Fancy Dogge Bedde near the heater, and is likely to remain there for as long as possible.

I wish you warmth and relaxation today, my friends. Sadly, I cannot take a day off, for my office is just down the hall from my bedroom, and going into work does not require anything more dangerous than tripping over a few dog toys and my own pre-caffeinated feet. There’s a short story to revise and the initial go-through on CEs for The Maiden’s Blade to cross off my list today. No rest for the weary or the wicked, but if I get those things done I might settle on the couch with tea and both dogs, and just watch the hill freeze solid.

Over and out.

Full Dance Card

So the Kindle edition of Atlanta Bound is now back up at Amazon. Since it’s coming through Draft2Digital, I can be assured you’re getting the whole file and there’s no hanky-panky. Amazon’s still refusing to make things right with me, for lo I am just a poor content creator. I’ll just take my toys and go elsewhere. I’m considering shifting plenty of my previous works off KDP–don’t worry, they’ll still be available for Kindle and on Amazon itself, I just won’t be listing them through the KDP interface.

Oddly, the books I haven’t listed through KDP seem to do ever so much better than the ones I have. Which makes me very…thoughtful.

Very thoughtful indeed.

In any case, it only took two weeks, severe aggravation, and multiple emails both from me and from angry Readers. Practically a bargain, right? (/sarcasm)

Anyway, I have Robb and March drinking tai, a servant girl and her mistress, and a daimon and a Celestial Representative to write today, as well as Latin, piano practice, running, snuggling the doggos, and dinner to think about. It’s a full card, and why I jam-packed my holiday Monday I have no idea. Unless it was that I felt so good on Sunday I made out the list for the next day’s work in a fit of deep optimism.

Even the best of us have those moments, I’m sure.

Anyway, it’s time to get the next few things on the list checked off so I can run with two dogs trying to pull me in opposite directions. I’ve never seen the Chariot card played so plainly in real life. It’s enough to put me off tarot for a week, except I need the practice.

See you around, folks.

Kept From Brooding

I finished up the revisions on two short stories yesterday–the Hansel & Gretel kung fu story and the Alice in Wonderland/Resident Evil one. Both are sent off to the editors now, since they need another pair of eyes to figure out where the lacunae are. The stories are so vivid inside my head I forget the reader can’t peek inside my skull and watch them. Maybe one day technology will allow for that–I remember a Tanith Lee novel where someone had a job doing as much–but for right now, text is the tool I’ve got to pry the stories out of my head.

There’s an update on yesterday’s post about Atlanta Bound. It’s particularly telling that KDP only responded once I unpublished the book, which cuts into their profits. I expect Amazon to drag its feet over listing the book as distributed by Draft2Digital, too, especially now that I’ve publicly called them out. Which isn’t perfect, it is an inconvenience I did my best to prevent, but there’s nothing to be done for it.

Anyway, today I have a scene in The Poison Prince to rip apart and rework–an Emperor and his second concubine having a long-overdue conversation–and Alan-a-Dale has to visit Maid Marian’s clinic besides. My work is cut out for me, and there’s also lasagna to be made for the Princess’s houseguests. Somewhere in there the dogs need walks, and I should probably take a shower before the morning gets much older.

The Princess greeted me with coffee this morning as I shuffled into the kitchen, a truly welcome event. Boxnoggin and B are still worn out from yesterday’s wind and long-ish run, and the advent of visitors will explode their Tiny Little Minds. There’s a lot of excitement planned for today.

I should probably get started. No rest for the weary or the wicked, my loves, and sometimes I prefer it that way. It keeps me from brooding.

Or at least, it tries to. I’m pretty sure I can brood anywhere, anytime.

Over and out.

What Happened to ATLANTA BOUND?

I never, ever upload a placeholder file to any digital publishing platform. Ever. I’ve heard too many horror stories of platforms releasing the placeholder instead of the final file.

But even doing everything correctly, it seems, is no guarantee of success when you’re dealing with Amazon.

Despite having a full, complete, and final .mobi of Atlanta Bound from the very beginning1, Amazon sent out a corrupted file (comprising only front and back matter, not the content) to preorder customers. Of course they waited until release day to tell me, and I immediately uploaded another fresh, full, complete .mobi file. (This can be seen in the “look inside” portion of the Amazon detail page.)

You can see it. It’s there. But Amazon won’t take Atlanta Bound out of jail.

After nine emails and four calls to KDP’s “customer service” line (where I get hung up on halfway through the option tree) there is still no move on Amazon’s part to fix their mistake. Unfortunately, Amazon will not condescend to reply to my numerous emails, phone calls, and at least one customer service chat. Atlanta Bound is still listed as “unavailable” a week after release. One of the reviews on the detail page says that Amazon customer service sent her the full, correct file when she gave them her preorder number, so at least there’s that. But the detail page is still locked, and I don’t know if other preorder customers have gotten theirs. There is literally and absolutely nothing else I can do here; Amazon is simply refusing to do their damn job.

I have unpublished the book on KDP and will be shifting it over to Draft2Digital, which holds the distinction of being a company that hasn’t screwed over multiple authors yet. That means it will be on sale through Amazon again, it will just be supplied through a different pathway. Of course the transition will take time.

If you have a Kindle, you can get the .mobi edition through my Gumroad store, and it will play nice with said Kindle in every way.

IF YOU PREORDERED THROUGH AMAZON AND DID NOT GET YOUR COMPLETE DOWNLOAD, please email me through my contact page. Upon verification of purchase, I’ll personally send you the .mobi file. I am very sorry, I did everything I could to make this a better experience for my readers, but when Amazon decides to make their displeasure with a vocal critic of their business practices known, I suppose they go all the way.

I mean, sure, this could be an honest mistake or some form of inefficiency. But I’m not thinking it is, and until something happens to change my mind that’s the assumption I’m operating under. Future books will probably not be released through the KDP interface.

Readers, I apologize. I did everything I could, and it still didn’t work out. Thank you to everyone who’s been supportive through this. Release Day is always a special kind of nerve-wrack hell, and this kind of bullshit makes it even worse.

I’ve short stories to revise and more books to write. Back to work it is.

UPDATE 1/15/19: So I unpublished Atlanta Bound yesterday morning before writing this post. Guess what happened less than two hours later? Go on, guess.

That’s right. Someone at KDP finally wrote back.

 Jan 14, 2019, at 10:58 AM,Amazon.com<[email protected]> wrote:

Hello Lilith,

My name is [[redacted]], one of the Customer Service Supervisors with Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). Your case has been brought into my attention.

I’m very sorry for the frustration this issue has caused.

I checked your account and see that, your book, “Atlanta Bound” is currently in “Unpublished” status. In this case, I’d request you to republish your book in order for us to investigate further.

In the meantime, I’ll reach out to our quality team to remove the error message from your detail page. I will reach out to you with an update as soon as possible.

Also, once you republished your book, we will be able to push the updated content to the customers who pre-ordered your book.

Thanks for your understanding.

Can you imagine the look on my face when I opened that email? It was somewhat close to this:

Here’s my reply:

Jan 14, 2019, at 11:40 AM, Lilith Saintcrow [[personal email address redacted]] wrote:

Dear Mr [[redacted]],
Yes, after a week of being ignored—of NINE separate emails sent through the KDP Help menu, FOUR phone calls to KDP Customer Service (all of which hung up on me halfway through the option tree), and a Customer Service chat with a very nice young man named Syed who could not fix the problem—I have unpublished Atlanta Bound. I did so, in fact, earlier this very morning. I will be publishing it (and future works) to Amazon through Draft2Digital instead of KDP. I have no desire to have KDP/Amazon continue to ignore me while profiting off my work. You can find more details here: https://www.lilithsaintcrow.com/2019/01/what-happened-to-atlanta-bound/

There are two things you can do right now:

* You can make certain the preorder customers all have the full download. This is non-negotiable. You guys messed up, you need to fix it with the customers. I expect every one of those customers to have the full download and the royalties to be clearly marked on my next statement from KDP.

* You can let me know where to send an invoice for the working time I lost while attempting numerous times to get KDP to fix their error. I bill $75/hr for freelance work; emails and the like are automatically billed at a minimum of a quarter-hour apiece.

As you can no doubt tell, I am extremely frustrated with Amazon’s lack of attention to this matter, and furthermore I am insulted that it took unpublishing the book to get any sort of response. You can, no doubt, see that I am a prolific author; KDP is well on its way to losing my future business for good.

I look forward to your prompt reply.

I don’t think I’ll get a prompt reply.

Update 1/21/19: Amazon now tells me that all preorder customers should have the full download. If you do not, please email [email protected]. The book is now listed on Amazon as well, but the reviews seem to have not come through.

They’re still refusing to pay the invoice, which lengthens every time I have to email them about this damn matter. But I didn’t really expect much else.

Making a Virtue

Amazon’s still bollixed up about the Atlanta Bound release. Ah well, all other distribution platforms are doing well, and you can get the .mobi edition through Gumroad. So if Amazon’s jackassery is getting you down and you need your final fix of Ginny, Juju, Lee, and the gang, head on over.

Yesterday was a Very Good Writing Day. I tossed out a whole scene in The Poison Prince, but at least that wrong scene had shown me what the right one needed to look like, and said right scene consequently came out with little trouble. Then I switched to HOOD and a ball; there was dancing and intrigue, all leading up to a scene change and a seedy bar brawl. I suspect this is the first of many; what is a Robin Hood story without them?

Today I have to write the actual bar fight, and figure out if the next scene in Poison Prince is the bedridden Emperor or something else. I suspect I’ll need more coffee for the latter. Epic fantasy is slow to get out the gate, and finishing the massive revise on Book 1 almost broke me. I’m pretty sure the reason I’m tearing my hair out over Poison Prince is that I want to avoid Revision Hell, but I’m not sure it’s possible. Epic fantasies, when they break out of the egg, require a certain amount of effort to train their beaks and claws. Robbing them of the exercise might make them faint, or I might just be making a virtue out of a difficult part of a process.

I also might make lasagna today, because clearly I am a glutton for punishment. Though if I’m going to do that, I should stop blogging and get started, because of course lasagna requires proper bread to go with it, and proper bread does not make itself.

I hope your week has been calmer than mine, dear Readers. We’re almost to the weekend, but for now I’m putting on my Menstrual Rage Hat and rolling up my sleeves. Let us take no prisoners and reach the weekend all in one piece.

Or, at least, in a minimum of pieces…