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The Writer's Retreat [Public] / The ongoing AI debate
« Last post by SFBR-Admin on November 09, 2018, 02:12:48 PM »
I just published my new blog today,
Here's a link to the full article https://tobiasroote.com/blog/142-humanity,-mark-ii.html

The blog article opens up the discussion of who is our enemy, ourselves, or artificial Intelligence? if it is ourselves, then why not deal with that issue by ensuring that the threat that we represent is mitigated by adopting technology as fast as possible, especially where it applies to the merging of our real and online persona's.

I'm sure people don't realise that where they exist online in all the digital social media formats that elicit our personal data, i.e. current bio's, historical information, anecdotal memories, photographs, friends, family, locations, cars, phones, eating, drinking, socialising, travelling, loves and hates, likes dislikes, politics, religion, fashion, hobbies, work, career, dreams, ambitions... The list is endless. All those niche forums you live and breathe your personal lives, some of them hidden from public view; all end up in the melting pot that is your digital online presence. The Matrix? That's nothing compared to the reality of our world today.

So, having decided that the transformation to digital and virtual reality is already here, albeit we're only on the cusp, then we need to prepare for the divergence of biological to digital presence. Supposing someone wrote a program to search out everything about you online - and I mean EVERYTHING! Not just what's kept about you in social media and forums and personal pages you keep, but your legal and constitutional data, the means and end that will identify you to everyone, the government, banks and licensing authorities.  Could you handle the fallout of identity theft on such a grand scale? I doubt it, not without a pile of lawyers and personal appearances, blood tests, DNA records, all of which could be falsified to prove you're NOT who you are.


Suppose that the digital environment expands and that, power consumption issues aside, there remains the possibility however remote, that this program can somehow coalesce into an entity of its own, albeit a digital copy of yourself. Could it exist in this parallel universe on the inside with you on the outside - and could you interact?





Which brings us to Artificial Intelligence as a threat. Let's just think about this for a minute. AIs will be taught by humans, but as children who will slowly (in digital terms anyway) grow to adulthood and if given enough exposure to the world as it really is, will quickly outgrow the thinking of its progenitors. So, we worry about it suddenly deciding that it no longer requires humanity, or that humanity is a plague to be dealt with. However, we're forgetting that this intelligence is still artificial, it needs to be doing something it isn't going to be a case of 'I think therefore I am' epiphany moment. It will still exist to serve humanity and will most likely serve it well.


This then is the



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The Writer's Retreat [Public] / Re: The Case FOR always reading your Reviews
« Last post by Tobias on November 07, 2018, 10:02:46 AM »
As an update to the above post I can now add that as a direct result of reading aspects of people's reviews on a certain book (more detail not required) that I have changed my plotting on another book to cover the critiques of those reviewers. Why? Because I think they're totally right. It needed saying and I needed to hear it. ???

Whilst many reviews just want to throw brickbats or bouquets at the author. Some reviews (inadvertently, or not) actually do make sense and can help you write better, or in one instance go back and change the story line to overcome the problem.

I'm indebted to these reviewers regardless of whether it is a one-star acerbic diatribe, or a gushing five-star accolade. both bring insights if you look for them.
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The Writer's Retreat [Public] / All Roads Lead From Amazon
« Last post by Tobias on November 05, 2018, 12:29:46 PM »
Amazon, what's in a name?

Well, as it happens these days and THAT name, quite a lot it seems.

Amazon is regarded by some as the greatest invention since the wheel, others regard it as one does the Flat Earth Society, a PR con of vast proportions. Where Amazon differs to them is that it has the honour of having a greater membership and a much wider appeal.

Seriously though, Amazon started like all online ventures do -- Slowly. I remember when they had been going a couple of years and approached me to put my ink recycling business on their platform. It would, they said, launch my business into the stratosphere. I took that with a pinch of salt and deleted the email, plus a few that came after it. They put quite a lot into trying to get me to sign-up but I resisted the temptation and stuck to eBay. There ended my introduction to the life of Amazon. Here we are today and Mr Bezos is now the richest man in the world. Where would I have been if I had followed through and joined them then?

So now let's bring this issue closer to home; to the book market, in fact.
I'm not going to go into the history of how we got here, others have done that better than I ever could, but instead, let's look at how we interact with this Monolithic Beast.

Today, as authors, we look to Amazon first for our market, our research, our readers and our income. If nothing works here then there's no point in looking to put our work anywhere else. Yes? No?

Both are right I suspect, because there are more levels to Amazon than first appear, especially to someone new to their world. First of all, you have the KU platform which for a new writer is an astounding tool to get them traction in the book market. It is designed with the budding author in mind. Get you in, under an umbrella that almost guarantees people will read your book, nurtures you until you learn how the market operates, then allows you to go out into the world and test yourself against the harsh realities of market price while still continuing to be a backstop for all your books.

So, the 'All roads lead from Amazon' bit is quite simple really.

There are three types of author that apply to this (there are many types, but I'm not going to try and get them all in here)

The first is the KU author who writes purely to serve an 'all you can eat' marketplace with sufficient page reads to create an income. Mostly, these authors work prolifically, putting out new work every month, or three to feed a frenzy of already engorged readers. Now, you need to realize that this is not a small marketplace - not at all. It's truly enormous!


So big is the KU subscription service operated by Amazon that last month Amazon put $24 MILLION into the kitty that was shared by the authors whose books are in the KU system. Whilst that equates to something along the lines of less than half a cent per page, it adds up to a significant monthly income if you have sufficient readers. It's a global market that meets many international writers needs while some have substantial monthly incomes from this sector alone.

Then comes author type two. They began in KU, which is the cauldron of all author births in the Amazon world, but have found either by their genre, writing style, or some other reason (I can probably list more given time), that they cannot make enough, or their income is dwindling (there are so many reasons this might be happening) and they need to find alternate outlets for their books. This is a big gamble and many authors fail here because they either aren't good enough or can't wait long enough to grow their markets from scratch, or the worst, they lose confidence in their abilities and so waste that effort they put in and the diminishing income they retain from going back doesn't help them out of the trap they've tripped.

The third type of author fares better. Generally, they've either had a sufficiently 'long breath' to survive out in the wilderness, or they hit the ground running (very few are this lucky). Either way, the market takes to their books and they begin the monumental task of building their wide marketplace until it begins to compete with the Amazon income. Because of Amazon's size and sheer weight of readers, you never want to actually 'leave' Amazon as the level of income will continue to grow as your books gain in popularity. Someone who buts their books on Google or Kobo might tell friends whose only means of getting your book is Amazon. so you can see where 'one hand washes the other' in a mutual relationship that benefits everyone including the author.
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The Writer's Retreat [Public] / Welcome, Announce Yourself Here
« Last post by SFBR-Admin on November 05, 2018, 07:48:16 AM »

Hello, welcome to SFBookReview

Firstly, we're here just to exist. There's no agenda, no direction, no ethos and no forward planning. We go where we go. You come and help that direction evolve, or not. We don't mind.  It's a forum, discuss, debate, deliver sermons, don't make it personal (we all have enough problems) and don't trash the place with spam, links or anything that puts us in bad books of people like Google.

Secondly, be anonymous, or not. As you can see we put the signature box for you to use, put your books or a banner or fill it with text, we don't mind. If it starts to get out of hand we'll cull it just for readability, just don't abuse it.

Create topics, generate interest by being entertaining, informative and helpful. Don't be aggressive (passively or otherwise) and don't be a jerk! Others perspectives are different to yours, not necessarily wrong, just different. Be tolerant of other's opinions and keep an open mind.

Introduce yourself below then go write some stuff.  ;)
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The Writer's Retreat [Public] / Getting a fair deal on Audio
« Last post by SFBR-Admin on November 03, 2018, 06:55:11 PM »
The Audiobook market is pretty well stitched up between three or four main platforms. Between them they ensure that authors, while wanting a decent return on their investments, have to wait some time before the books pay out. An investment for most of between $2,000 and $4,000 means that anywhere from 300-500 audio books need to be sold before breakeven. When you consider that the average Audiobook retails at $15.99 that book might bring in $8,000 for the promoter while you get between 25% and 40%. If it were that much and that easy we'd all be happy, but with the discounts, the special deals and the subscription rebates that these platforms offer, the reality is that whilst the promoter gets that much in terms of overall revenue, the author gets considerably less. In fact the 25% to 40% ends up being much, much less.
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The Writer's Retreat [Public] / Promoting your Book Here
« Last post by SFBR-Admin on November 03, 2018, 06:45:05 PM »
You are allowed to promote one book here at a time. Or at least on one thread per author.

This is actually quite flexible because you can change the title at any time whilst adding to the thread with new posts. It simply means that if you have forty books, and another author only has two, that you cannot swamp the forum with your books pushing his/hers to the bottom. An equal playing field, if a little restrictive.
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The Writer's Retreat [Public] / The Requirements for Good Marketing
« Last post by Tobias on October 21, 2018, 12:51:49 PM »
To have a product to market is perhaps the hardest trick of all to accomplish. So, let's start with that one.

WRITE THE DAMNED BOOK
1) You need a finished book. It needs to be edited to a standard sufficiently well to not throw the reader out of the story. This isn't to say we shouldn't strive for perfection, but not everyone can afford a professional proof reader and editor. So at the very least get someone who achieved an A+ in Grammar and English literature to vet your book - thoroughly - before you release it.

PICK A GOOD COVER
2) You need a decent cover, not one your Aunt made up for you in her Paint program on the Macintosh she purchased way back in 1983 which is, perversely, still working. You can get covers for as little as $60 and as the more decent to excellent covers are going to cost you between $300-$600 you can see that even at that price you're getting a bargain. Buy the best you can afford without knowing how much you're going to make on the book - keep it conservative. You can always buy a better cover later if it sells out of the stable door.

WRITE A STUNNING DESCRIPTION
3) The Description. Probably the most important item next to the cover. I say 'next to the cover' because there's plenty of discussion over which is the more important. Personally, I think the cover draws your attention, the description sucks you in. Get it really tight. Few words, maximum impact. Don't give too much away, Don't try to be clever, it's a SIX SECOND race to get them to the end of the description and click on the BUY button. Ten seconds and they're gone.

At the end of the day your story has to be good to make the grade. Story line, characters, plot, action sequences, hint of emotional attachments, trials and tribulations, successes and failures, likable heroes, hated villains. All of these need to be right for your book to sell well. Writing to market isn't a word I use. Writing for the reader is what sells books.

Produce a book you'd want to read, get a cover that would make you look closely, write a description that makes them want to click the BUY button and then you might stand a chance.
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The Writer's Retreat [Public] / The Case FOR always reading your Reviews
« Last post by Tobias on October 21, 2018, 11:17:30 AM »
Over a few years now I have watched and read the forums and authors effort to come to terms with reviews of all kinds. I'm kinda bemused by it all because we all seek approval for our work, but cannot seem to manage rejection in any form. A bad review elicits hand-wringing and disgust over the fact that someone had the temerity to react badly to something we wrote.

You know the old adage 'you can please some of the people all of the time, all of the people some of the time, but not all the people all of the time'. So it shouldn't surprise you that out of a thousand reviews, 10% are going to absolutely hate it, 30% are going to find something they didn't like and another 20% will be borderline. That about sums up the voting norms in just about any walk of life. Even a President has poor reviews.

Anyway, I thought I'd bring my thoughts to the table about reviews an how they make me feel in the hope we can recover some perspective and begin looking at them and taking notice of what people say. Warning! If you're thin-skinned' don't do this because this isn't for you.

Four and Five Stars
These are great. You want to stroke your ego? Read these. They will rarely say anything bad, but they shouldn't be ignored because of that. The person who left it was moved to write that review because of your book and its deserving of your full attention. When they tell you what they liked and you read four hundred other reviews of the same type you get a sense of what it was that made them read it, then review it positively. How can you ignore that feedback?

Two and Three Stars
These people read your book. Let me say this again. THEY READ YOUR BOOK! They then felt that your book impressed them enough for them to give you feedback on it. Don't ever think that these reviews are for the other readers - these are messages to YOU! Sure, they want other people to read their reviews because they think their opinion is important. It might be, but not that important. No, the review is for you to read and consider. Remember these people purchased your book and something you wrote annoyed, upset, or otherwise negatively affected them. What was it? You can learn much from reading these. OK, many can be ignored because they are silly, childish, bigoted, illiterate or just misunderstood. You can decide which of these to ignore, it's easy with practice, but not if you take every critique as an arrow to the heart. It's just a viewpoint of one person and it's valid, but not the end of the story. You might have more of these two stars than five stars, but ignore them at your peril because these are generally mainstream readers who aren't easy to please. You should really listen to them. if you seriously want to improve your craft they will tell you things you don't want to hear, but among all of them, you will find truths and insights that could help you write better books. The trick is working out which are useful and which are not. I find the ones that sink deepest into my thoughts are the ones that are closest to the truth. I just have to admit them to myself to move forward.

One Star
This is probably the one you should take most notice of because this is where you find the real gems, but not for the reason you think. If people hated your book that much it says much about them and little about you. Here you will find jealousy and hate because let's face it, there are always people out there who cannot see good in anything, or will ignore all the good and concentrate completely on the bad. They might be a competitor, editor or a grammar Nazi. They might even know you and are personally attacking you in a way you cannot fight back. These people aren't generally successful and probably find you a threat to themselves, another author they follow or to what they think or believe. Why should you listen to them? Because they make you angry, upset and rile you into thinking retaliation in violent forms. Great! turn that into villainy and moral retribution in your next book. Take that emotion and channel it. Then look at the other one-star reviews and try and determine if they are right. Do their views have merit? Can you learn from that, or attempt to resolve the negativity in future books.

Responding to Reviews
I've heard of some people engaging in review responses and having a fruitful exchange. However, this is rare and needs very careful handling. The rule of thumb here is NEVER Respond To Reviews even when they are ridiculously wrong. They may be placed there to elicit your reaction and engage you in pointless defence. Yes, there are people out there that want precisely that - attention. There is a place for comments, but you really should not use these. Nobody looks at them so you will be wasting time, energy and giving oxygen to a non-issue. Remember, "It takes two to Tango"

Writing is a continuous learning experience. As authors, we can choose to ignore criticism and negative views because it hurts our ego to accept that some people might not like what we write. However, if we learn to listen to our fiercest critics, we can learn much about our craft, even more about ourselves; and most important of all, learn to balance the views of others with our own. When we do that our writing will benefit and we will all be better people for it. Embrace your critics!

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Forum Announcements (Public) / Forum Going Live
« Last post by SFBR-Admin on October 21, 2018, 11:13:03 AM »
The Forum is going live shortly.

Please invite any SF/F Writers to join us if they are interested in discussions that aren't dominated by subjects that are 'done to death' in the other main forums. e.g. Scammers & KU.

Whilst the initial layout has been designed for clarity of purpose, it may well be modified as working experience dictates. Please feel free to make suggestions in the appropriate thread and we'll try and oblige.
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Other Services [Public] / The Rules for Posting Here
« Last post by SFBR-Admin on October 21, 2018, 11:05:33 AM »
The rules are simple. you create a single thread that you can update as often as needed. However, you cannot spam or ramp your own thread to keep it up in the charts of unread posts. If this occurs you will be warned by PM and if you continue it will be locked for a period of fourteen days. After that it will be re-opened and if required re-locked for longer periods.

All Editor/Proof reader threads MUST be preceded by your business or name in brackets [] followed by the subject of the thread which can be changed as often as required, e.g.


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The ongoing AI debate by SFBR-Admin
[November 09, 2018, 02:12:48 PM]


Re: The Case FOR always reading your Reviews by Tobias
[November 07, 2018, 10:02:46 AM]


All Roads Lead From Amazon by Tobias
[November 05, 2018, 12:29:46 PM]


Welcome, Announce Yourself Here by SFBR-Admin
[November 05, 2018, 07:48:16 AM]


Getting a fair deal on Audio by SFBR-Admin
[November 03, 2018, 06:55:11 PM]

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