Anne B. Walsh - Do you believe in magic?
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Anne's Randomness

Four hours

Someone has discovered the fact that Kindle books are returnable. Over the past few days, I've had a copy of all my current Kindle stock purchased, and shortly thereafter refunded. Congratulations, friend, whoever you are... you've been able to sample two and a half years of my hard work, and saved yourself a whole twenty-one dollars.
 
I know I usually try to avoid emo in my blogging, but trust me, this isn't emo. People who game the system don't turn me emo. They just piss me off. I tend to value things in terms of work, how many hours or days of work are needed to earn the price of an item. Even at minimum wage, even after taxes, $21 is less than four hours' work.
 
Four hours, random book-returning person? Really? It would take you that long to read everything you bought and returned. By default, I must be worth at least that much time to you. Do you feel I've somehow cheated you, given you a subpar experience? Or are you well-intentioned, trying to get my sales numbers up without overspending?
 
Yes, I do try to think the best of everyone. I hope that doesn't make me too much of a cockeyed optimist (cue music from South Pacific), but there's a nice wide cynical streak in me as well. There would have to be, given the differences in my documented readership/fanbase and my sales numbers. Let me lay this out...
 
On each of my two main posting sites, fanfiction.net and fanficauthors.net, my email alert list is into the four digits. Bear in mind, this is after Jeconais, who runs FFA, went through his email listings and weeded out all the bum addresses. Everybody on that list had to reverify their email or they wouldn't be on the list any longer.
 
Over on Facebook, my following's a bit smaller, only three digits long, but as it's public record I don't mind quoting it. 671. Six hundred seventy-one people have been willing, at one time or another, to press the "Like" button and follow the page of the PAGE (the Panther Author Goddess of Evil/Everything, for anyone who came in late).
 
So, when I write stories, or provide amusing anecdotes, for free (such a magical word, free), hundreds and thousands of people are willing to be a part of it. But when I dare, when I have the outright gall, to ask for money in exchange, the number of people willing to participate drops down into the two digits. Into the low two digits.
 
Now, granted, an awful lot of those people are truly awesome and supportive, buying multiple books as gifts for family or friends who might enjoy them. (You know who you are. Huge hugs and thanks to you.) But still, no matter how amazing those few devoted fans are, they cannot possibly replace the larger fanbase I need to succeed.
 
If everybody who reads my work for free went out right now and purchased one book from me, just one, I'd be on the top of the sales charts almost instantly. That would give me the one thing I lack, the one thing that's harder to get than anything else in the publishing world, which is visibility, being seen by those who might like my work.
 
I don't want, I have never wanted, anything in this world that I haven't earned, O readers. But I've given you nine years' worth of writing, and some pretty big pieces of my heart. To find out that most of you value that less than half a day's work, less than an hour's work for a single e-book, even the most expensive one I've written...
 
I wish I could explain how painful that is. But for one of the only times in my life, words fail me.
 
Thank you for reading. Regular posts resume either Thursday or Saturday.

23 Comments to Four hours:

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Elizabeth Conall on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 12:09 PM
Oh honey. *hugs hugs*
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Anne on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 11:59 PM
*hugs back* Thanks


Samantha Gunning on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 9:48 PM
I know I've been a loyal follower of the free offerings you've presented to the world, and I've been incredibly grateful. I'm a poor college student just like you were even I started following you and your work. I've finally gotten around to purchasing your work because I had a "screw it I've reread Dangerverse 80 times and need more" moment, and I'm so happy to be able to support you. I'm sorry that someone who probably just does not understand that writing is work ripped you off.
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Anne on Wednesday, December 11, 2013 12:01 AM
And you've "paid" me by sending me comments, by giving me time. This is a perfectly valid currency for the otherwise-free writing and much appreciated. My gripes here are addressed only to the people who can, but don't.


Amelia on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 11:45 PM
awww...if it helps, I asked for a book for Christmas? I'd buy something if I had a job...
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Anne on Wednesday, December 11, 2013 12:02 AM
I do understand that, and thanks. The willingness helps. As I said above, mostly focusing this one towards the people who are able to do this but for whatever reason, aren't.


Rebecca on Wednesday, December 11, 2013 12:20 AM
As a random stranger who stumbled across Living with Danger back in 2007 and was immediately hooked, I want to extend my good wishes to you. I finished Killdeer yesterday, and I really enjoyed it. I can't believe someone would have the chutzpah to return your Kindle book. It sucks to be ripped off. I hope that you will keep your head up and keep writing.
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Anne on Wednesday, December 11, 2013 12:23 AM
Thanks so much! I hope I can keep writing things that you enjoy!


Kaylen on Wednesday, December 11, 2013 12:40 AM
I think it's terrible that someone bought all of it and returned it, and I'm sorry to hear that's happened to you. But as far as how many Dangerverse fans you have vs. supporters of your original fics...I'll admit I'm one of the people that keeps up with D-verse but hasn't purchased anything. I think you're a very talented writer - I don't think anyone could read your work and not see that - but for me, and at least a few others, I would think, your original works are not within my interests. I'm not saying they're bad or un-interesting by any means, but they're not the specific stories (I'm going off of synopsis' here) that I have an interest in reading. You have to remember that the D-verse is set within the world of Harry Potter, something that these fans already have an interest in, whereas you original works are set in a world that they aren't pre-disposed to and may not be as interested in. Also, and I don't mean this in a rude way, posts like this are not encouraging to (most) people. I myself don't have the money to buy something I won't read (some of us really can't spare those 4 hours of pay), but if I did then I would likely choose not to because of the, erm...angry reaction you have to "not enough" reviews, purchases, etc. and to reviews that you don't like. I realize that you're human and you get aggravated, but you want to be a public figure and things like that aren't making you look good. Anyways, my point in all of this isn't to be mean, rude, offensive, or upsetting in any way. I've just thought these things for awhile and this finally seemed like the time and place to say something. I really do think you're an amazing writer and hope you'll succeed in the industry, so please take all of this, not as the "jerk critism" it may come across as, but as the well-meaning advice it's intended as. Luck! K.
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Anne on Wednesday, December 11, 2013 8:40 AM
You miss the "jerk criticism" boat in a couple of ways... one, you weren't rude, and two, you have valid points. I know my temper is something I need to work on, and I'm trying. And I really don't mean to push people who can't spare that four hours' worth of pay, because I've been where they are. But I know that I have a lot of readers from a lot of different circumstances, and what gets me the most is having people read my work but give me nothing in return. It makes me feel used. But now you've just given me something. Maybe not exactly the something I wanted, but who gets what they want all the time? :-) Thanks for your thoughts!


Nichole on Wednesday, December 11, 2013 1:02 AM
These types of posts make me very sad. I tend to make my authors into characters, and make up lives for them, and with you that has been especially easy, what with facebook, blogs, author's notes and pfw interviews. So, because I feel as though I know (a version of) you very well, I am always devastated when finding out that your life is not how I picture it should be. I am planning on buying a lot of your stuff for Christmas; the plans were amorphous for awhile, and became concrete after a similar blog post?facebook update? one of those. I am just realizing now that Christmas is soon, and probably I should get on that, but I am just going into finals and so it will likely be at the end of this week that that happens. I have been feeling like a guilty fan for awhile, and I felt you deserved to hear it. It started about a year ago when I truly realized how long you had been writing the Dangerverse, leaving cheery comments no matter what people said. Then this summer, when the Ender's Game movie was getting closer, I noticed myself pushing people to buy the book, buying a new copy myself - being the general public's worst nightmare of a fan, in other words. And while I still push the Dangerverse, I haven't pushed any of your published works, and I think I have just been lazy. I meant to; I've thought of it in recent months, and I love everything that I have read. So I want to make a better effort to do that. I apologize for this long rambling message, but I really thought you deserved to hear all this, that I don't think this is all in your head, or that you've been expecting too much. Yes, my original interest in the Dangerverse was through the Harry Potter fandom, but I have come to view your works almost in their own genre. You write about families, and I absolutely love that. One day I will write you a letter about how truly important you've been in my life. For now, I hope you have a wonderful Christmas, and know that people do care.
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Anne on Wednesday, December 11, 2013 8:42 AM
Oh honey, you want long and rambling, just look up and down the page... and thank you so very much. You've made my morning a happier one. I hate guilt-tripping people, but occasionally it works. (VERY occasionally. This is probably the last post like this you'll see from me for a while, and if it's not, someone throw snowballs at me, please? There's only so much grumping and whining a readership can stand!)


Alicia on Wednesday, December 11, 2013 1:56 AM
I came over here after you asked for read-throughs and comments from FB, and I know you asked specifically for feedback whether you appeared too emo or not. My gut reaction to the initial question is that you did fine, and you certainly did better than I possibly could have. When I get hurt, I emote for pages and pages and usually have to delete it all in the morning, and you were rational and logical. As for the Kindle return book thing, I suspect that whoever the person was, copied the books to some other hard drive to read and basically cheated the system (and cheated you in the process). Accidentally purchasing and returning one book is one thing, pulling that stunt with all of them is something for which there is no excuse. Oh -- I thought of something else, though. What if the Kindle belonged to the mother of a very young child, and the child accidentally hit "purchase all" or something like that, and the mother corrected the mistake? I'm just remembering when one of my friends borrowed my Kindle and in the morning I had a copy of Dan Brown on my Kindle (I wish I'd known that was returnable, actually!). Let me see if I can get the rest of this into words -- I have something to communicate that I think in its essence will be understanding and encouraging, but my words don't always work that well. I think there is a fundamental difference between the Dangerverse and your published work, and not just because you're asking for money for the latter and not for the former. Well, you know that I haven't read any of your other fanworks besides DV, and you even know why (since DV became my HP canon, going back to real canon would be too jarring). Dangerverse is just ... something in a category all its own in my head. The story itself touched something deeper in me than I can describe. It did that as much because of its early writing journeymanship as because of anything else, too -- there are things that hit my buttons that you put in DV that you can't put in published fiction because they wouldn't sell (I think that's some of the beauty of fanfiction). I do like DV the best, and I think I always will. But -- your original writing is very, very good. It's like you said in the intro to "Homecoming" -- DV showed you that you're capable of writing, and now you're trying to act on that knowledge. I think it's just that most of your fandom audience isn't going to automatically translate over to your original work. They're two different types of stories, and they'll appeal to two different (although related) types of audiences. I wouldn't have gotten copies of your books for half the people on my Christmas present list if I didn't think the intended recipients would like them, and I'm hoping that'll do at least some small part in spreading the word, since most of the people I have in mind don't read fanfic. Regarding your original work, you've touched me more by being a true friend than by the work itself -- getting "Homecoming" as a gift was a bright light in a very dark week. Right now, I'd just encourage you to be patient. I don't think a whole lot of your fanfic audience will necessarily also read your original work, but I think you'll be able to build an audience separate from the DV audience who might read your original work (or some original work series) and not any of your fanfic. It's going to take time. But you *can* do it, and the low numbers at first are to be expected -- it won't stay that way.
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Anne on Wednesday, December 11, 2013 8:50 AM
I was hoping for some innocent explanation like that myself, but unless the kid got hold of the Kindle over multiple days and bought the books one at a time... but it doesn't matter now. 'Tis over, and I have wonderful fans who will give me hugs. There is a fairly broad difference between my fan work and my originals, yes, but I can't tell you how many comments I get which start "I didn't think I was going to like [book] because I never like [genre], but then..." What I'm saying more broadly is, give me SOMETHING, people. More on this in today's blog post, and aren't I being prolific lately?


Geoffrey on Wednesday, December 11, 2013 2:00 AM
Oh Anne. (That’s a sympathetic sigh, today.) I’m sorry. It hurts, I know. It’s such a crushing kind of rejection. I did the math once, to figure out how much benefit I’ve received from your free works if measured monetarily. It was around $12600, as a low estimate. That’s a sizable debt, and something I can’t pay off. I hate using the dollar figure, though. It feels crass when the exchange has been in intangibles, though I really do value those intangibles to that degree, or more. Paying for your original works doesn’t come anywhere close to what I owe, though I have done that, and would do so again if it would help. But even if I did so a thousand times, it wouldn’t give you the exposure you need. Of course, you’ve already said what you would have us do: share with family and friends. Get you that exposure. Get your writing out into the wild. Okay. Now what? I do have some ideas, though. I don’t know if they’re good ones, so I might want your input. I’ll let them simmer for a bit longer, though. Maybe see how they look after the holidays. Thank you, Anne. For being there. For sharing your troubles. I wish you knew how much it helps to be able to leave you a few thoughts on a topic.
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Anne on Wednesday, December 11, 2013 8:51 AM
I can understand not wanting to put a monetary figure on it. But did you ever think about how much I must value the feedback I receive? The knowledge that I'm not alone, I'm not sending these stories into a vacuum? It helps. It changes things.


Anna on Wednesday, December 11, 2013 5:37 AM
I love your work Anne, and for someone who has read as many as I can afford of your originals id like to politely disagree with the people above who said that they don't enjoy those 'types of books' kind of comments. I don't normally either. That's no seceret, I'm a huge litary snob, all my friends will tell you that. However, I LOVE every single one of your originals that I've read! The reason? They are not the standard book you'd expect from that genre, they're a new slant on the genre, they take everything from the dangerverse world that is good and transport it into the new world. Take homecoming for example, it's like taking a lovely enjoyable holiday into another genre, a bit like going to say, Spain. Yes, it's not the same as England, but you've gone with your family/friends/pets and it's only for one week. Nothing says that you've have to move to Spain. By enjoying homecoming doesn't mean you have to enjoy the entire historical genre, it means you enjoy one book by an outstanding author. And I promise, to anyone that hasn't read it, reading it is a real treat. It is like a lovely holiday, with everything you love from Anne's work. It's Anne's work - has she ever let us down? No!! :) Just as an aside, I leant my books to my mum, who hates Harry potter (gasp!) but loves all sorts of other genres. She loved your books too Anne :) when I told her you were the author she tried to ban me from reading aged aprox 12 (whenever dangerverse started taking over my life all those years ago when you first began writing it) because all me and my best friend did was argue about what would happen next she was amazed! Because when she read the books she loved them too. So yes, it's completely different to Harry potter guys, but (in my opinion) the locality where the story is set is the only difference! The magic of Anne's writing is still there, and although I'm not unbiased about Anne, due to effectively growing up on her work for the last (aprox)10 years, if it can convince my mum I dare you to give it a go! Infact I'm so certain that you'd actually love them that I am willing to post you my own well loved copies to borrow, on the condition of course that if you end up loveing them too (and you have money) you purchase your own set from Anne. :) just my thoughts, no offence meant to anyone. thank you Anne for being my guide to life throughout my teenage and university life! :)
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Anne on Wednesday, December 11, 2013 8:53 AM
Awww you make me blush. :-) Nothing more fun than surprising a mother, is there? Thank you for a happy and random laugh in the middle of the morning which startled the dogs considerably!


Haminac on Wednesday, December 11, 2013 10:22 AM
I made the mistake of reading aaaaall the lovely nice comments of the other people before starting to write my own... Now I have the impression I cannot write anything that will not be dumb repetition... Still, since I started, something has to be done, so I do it: What I wondered halfway through the comments was: How long did it take you to get this four-digit-number at your alert list? I don't think it happened very fast. It took it's time. So maybe the comparison is a bit unfair to your number of book-sales, especially factoring in that those stories as you said were for free and the ones you want this four-digit-number for now is not. So give it some time :] Nonetheless: I can completely understand why you made this comparison and why the whole thing pisses you off so much. The feeling of being appreciated is great. The feeling to feel appreciated and then finding out it was fake, is simply cruel. I really hope it was a stupid mistake like in one of the scenarios that was already made up but it still it doesn't change the hurt. I am sorry it happened to you *offers hugs* the only dumbly optimistic thing I know to say is: I am sure that when the nasty feeling is gone you will be stronger and more experienced than before. I hope this can build you up a bit after all the sympathy you (deserved!! and) got.
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Anne on Wednesday, December 11, 2013 10:44 AM
A well-deserved reality check. Yes, it took quite a few years to build that reader list up, and I should remember that. And yes, I am sure that I shall be stronger and better when it's over... but the hugs are much appreciated now!


Emily on Thursday, December 12, 2013 12:36 AM
Anne, I'm planning on buying your new books. I just have to wait until right before going on vacation, otherwise I'll read them too fast and have nothing to read over Christmas... Hi... I'm Emily and I have a reading problem :)
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Anne on Thursday, December 12, 2013 10:24 AM
You do not have a reading problem. Problems are bad things. You have a reading situation. :-)


Molly Freeman on Thursday, December 12, 2013 11:26 PM
I'm sorry such a nasty thing happened. And I'm sorry I've been reading and not reviewing again. I'll try to do better. The "Anne B Walsh" collection on my kindle lives between "Anne and Her Friends" (Anne Shirley, of course) and "Anne Bishop", which I find to be very appropriate. It has six items in it currently, all bought fair and square from Amazon ("Dangerverse" is a whole other, much larger collection) and I hope to continue to accumulate titles there for a long time to come.
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