24 July 2009

Copyright and Kindle's Answer

A heartfelt apology from Jeff Bezos showed up on the Amazon forums, about the way the 1984 problem was handled. It was a nice affirmation, but it brings up the question of copyright and the situation. The Yahoogroups of authors and readers are abuzz about it.

A lot of people have questioned what would stop Amazon from replacing "controversial material" with redacted copies, if they were ordered to do so. Now, there's no money in replacing all the copies. No question. There would be no reason to do it and anger customers, without being ordered to do it in an (ironically) Orwellian society.

The truth is, nothing but copyright would stop it, and in such an Orwellian society, copyright would be useless to stop them anyway. But, let's look at the Amazon/1984 situation again.

Is there money in redacted copies? Of course, there is. Companies doing it illegally (without permission to change the copyrighted material) tend to get sued, but...

What if a group bought ten thousand copies of an e-book that had a few offensive-to-their-members scenes, yanked those scenes, and released/resold the censored copy to their members, with full knowledge to the buyers/ultimate customers that the books were censored, for their enjoyment?

Technically, you can't resell an e-book. We know that. But they aren't making multiple copies of one, so I'd personally leave that argument alone for a second and move on to...

As an author, knowing I'd sell ten thousand copies and get my royalties, knowing they were going to remove several scenes the group didn't care for, would I start a lawsuit and complain about those sales? Probably not. What does it serve me to do it? What good will do I make with those potential readers, if I don't? What potential good will do my publisher and I lose if we prosecute? I'm not saying this is the same thing as the Amazon deal. I'm simply pointing out that there IS money to be made in redacted copies.

I know. Someone is going to bring up defending copyright, so maybe the best thing to do, if you're getting your proper money out of it, is warn them not to do it without permission again, get a signed agreement for them as a distributor to make it legal, and let them continue with the project.

Of course, if someone was going to take scenes out of one of my books, I would MUCH rather do the changes myself and let them distribute it with those changes. Why? My name is on it, and someone else making cuts or changes may weaken the book and change my voice.

Did Amazon have to react as they did? Did the publisher? I would have to say they didn't, and it would have been better if they hadn't handled it the way they did.

I have nothing against protecting copyright. Far from, and anyone who reads this blog knows it. But, I've discussed before the difference between getting something for free that common sense tells you shouldn't be free, buying something from a hack source, and buying something from what is a trusted source. In the first situation, you know you're probably stealing. In the second, you're taking a chance that you're buying stolen goods. In the third, you have reasonable assurance you are buying something legitimate. Buying from Amazon would be purchasing from a trusted source.

As for Amazon and 1984, they didn't have to recall those e-book copies, and in any other pirating situation, they wouldn't have/wouldn't have been able to simply recall copies. Once they are downloaded, they are potentially not going to be deleted by readers who bought them from a legitimate storefront.

I agree (as many harried e-publishing professionals do) that I wish there was a way to remotely get rid of all pirated copies I find on pirate sites, but it doesn't exist. In the end, I'm a realist. I have to be. Every business has slippage. This is mine.

I'm not saying to let it go completely, since there is a very real face to both the publisher who was uploading the book (apparently trusting that it was public domain in their own country) and Amazon. I'm saying not to punish those who did everything in their power to purchase legal copies from a trusted source. Let me explain.

My two cents would be that it would have been better for the US publisher and Amazon to come to an agreement that Amazon would pay the usual publisher share of all sales to them (or even the full amount to the publisher, which they had to do with the readers anyway), take the book off sale so no more sell, allow those who bought the books in good faith to keep them, hand over all the information the publisher needs to prosecute the pirate (if that's even possible in this case...it might be in other, similar cases, though maybe not in this one)...and then make a huge honking marketing push out of how the publisher and Amazon feel for their customers and respect copyright.

"Isn't it great that we did this for our customers? It was OUR fault, and we take full responsibility for it, so we paid the correct publisher/author rep their share and aren't going to inconvenience our readers...WITH the publisher's permission. Aren't THEY great to allow this, too? Pirating is wrong. We intend to prosecute the pirates without inconveniencing our customers."

See... The publisher still has the right to prosecute the pirate (in cases where there is a pirate), but can choose to leave the copies alone and be paid by Amazon for them, with the padding of the full cover price as a settlement. That actually sets up a position where Amazon and the publisher would be able to go after the pirate (for the monetary losses and fraud on Amazon's side and the copyright issues on the publisher's side), I believe.

Somehow the law would screw this up, I'm sure. I decided a long time ago that the law has lost its collective mind. But think of the good will Amazon and the publisher would have won with this approach that they lost with the other.

We exist on a balance beam between trying to protect our livelihood and trying to be viewed as "a decent person" by our readers, so they don't stop buying our books legally in disgust. Because the Amazon readers got their money back, the two big problems come down to HOW it was done (just taking it back without notice) and the hardships that might have caused (like the student who lost his personal notes on the report he was doing on 1984, because he was given no notice and no time to back those notes up). In effect, Amazon doing it that way caused him a hardship, and people don't forget that soon.

In effect, they have made e-books and the Kindle, in specific, less valuable to him and to others. Forever, he will strip off one pro of doing his work on Kindle, because they've destroyed his research once. That doesn't help the kid, the industry, or Kindle.

21 July 2009

Interview time...EPIC's Contest chair

The Lyons' Den welcomes Debi Sullivan, chair of EPIC's 11th Annual e-Book Awards. There are a lot of changes this year, and people have questions. In order to offer answers to as many as possible, Debi graciously agreed to this interview.

Q: For ten years, the contest was EPPIE. Now it’s changing its name. Why is that? Will I still be able to call my old finalists/winners EPPIES?

A: Your past award may most certainly be called EPPIE. Due to legalities, it was necessary to change the “name” of EPIC’s Annual EBook Competition.

We are very excited about this change and have EPIC’s members working hard to come up with the perfect name. Yup…I said EPIC Member. There are more advantages to EPIC membership than awesome contacts and information on the publishing industry. We will have something very special for the brilliant EPIC member who comes up with the prefect name for this fabulous competition.

By the way, the new name will be unveiled at the annual EPICon Awards banquet in New Orleans on March 7, 2009.

Aren’t YOU curious? All industry professionals are invited to pull up a chair, to mix and mingle with their peers! It will be exciting!


Q: The eligibility period for this year is Oct 1, 2008 through May 31, 2009. What about my book that came out in Sept of 2008? What about my book that came out in June of 2009? Where do they compete?

A: Honestly, the main reasons behind changing the publication date requirements for this year’s competition were because we had to change our judging time frame. Pinky-swear, that’s the honest truth. Ever tried to get someone to judge anything around the holidays? *lol*

Next year we will be back on course with a full twelve months of eligibility, so June 2009 works are welcome to enter the 2011 EBook competition. Eligibility for the 2011 EPIC EBook Competition will be e-published works from June 1, 2009 through May 31, 2010…so get those manuscripts to your publisher!

Unfortunately, works released for publication in Sept 2008 are ineligible for the 2010 EBook competition as they were included in 2009’s.


Q: I entered the GLBT category last year. This year, I don’t see one. Can I still compete, and if so, where?

A: This year there is NO separate category for GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bi- and/or Transexual) works as we’ve changed the competition, making these works all-inclusive for GLBT…and this change will remain so for the future of EPIC’s EBook Competition.

EPIC is a progressive organization and, after much discussion (we ARE honest about how this happened) the membership and Competition Committee came to the realization that sectioning GLBT-character works in a category separate from other categories was similar to separating works containing horses or those mentioning air.

We are comfortable with this long deserved change to our competition and hope our entrants agree.


Q: Can only EPIC members enter the contest?

A: We welcome any author, publisher or editor to enter our competition, as long as the entered work adheres to the rules listed in EPIC’s Competition Guidelines. You can find these, in various formats for viewing ease, at: http://www.epicauthors.com/epicawards.html


Q: Are there any caps on entries...caps for total entries or for individual categories?

A: There are NO caps on entries. We do require, however, a minimum of six (6) entries per category.

Any category that does not meet the minimum entry count will merge with the category most closely matching it (E.g. westerns with westerns, historical with historical, etc. for entries in Romance/Erotic Romance categories) or merged into the Fiction – Mainstream category at the close of entry submissions on Aug 16, 2009.

We ask that entrants choose wisely when placing their works in any categories, as there will be no shifting of categories.


Q: How is the contest judged? Is it peer judged? Is it reader-judged? Do judges read the full book? How many people will see my book?

A: EPIC’s EBook competition is a peer judged contest – peer being authors, editors, publishers, and other industry professional of e- and print. This is not a reader-judged competition, but one designed to offer an award to those deemed superior by their peers.

Our judges DO read the entire book, from front to back, and each entry received a score from no less than three judges in both the first and final rounds.


Q: I write heavily cross-genre. Which category should I enter? I don’t want the judges to mark my book down for being in the wrong one!

A: Our best suggestion would be for you to ask yourself which genre reflects the highest percentage of the work.

Judges take into consideration strong influences from genres other than the “primary” category, however, we do suggest that the entrant - the person who knows the most about that specific work - choose the one category that most strongly represents the work.


Q: It says to click if I have excessive violence content, but what if the judge disagrees and doesn’t think it’s excessive? Will I be marked down?

A: No. There is no marking down for violence of any level, excessive or not.

We ask for this indicator because one person’s response to violence is seldom the same as another’s. This simply offers our judges heads-up to expect more than say a stubbed toe or two. Some judges prefer not to read what they consider extremely violent events. Using the basic standards set by the film industry, we consider extreme violence in the realm of NC-17. If you have heads rolling down hills or a slew of blood and guts, clicking this box makes it possible for us the option to match those preferences where possible.


Q: What if my publisher doesn’t sell PDF? What if they sell PDF but not with cover art in the file?

A: We work with all entrants and investigate every entry link for entry viability.

If your publisher does not sell you work in a PDF format, we will come up with a solution so you can enter your work.

If the work is being entered “as sells”, but has no cover, please indicate this in your entry notes.


Q: How do you change the file name on a PDF?

A: That is a question we are QUITE familiar with. *lol* OK…here you go:

On a PC: Go to the folder where the PDF is located and right-click on the file “name” area. You will see multiple choices. Near the bottom, under Create a Shortcut and Delete, you will see Rename. Highlight Rename and left-click. A text box will open under your PDF file. You can type in the new name. Click anywhere off the text box and, voila!, you have renamed your file.

On a Mac: Find your file and right-click on the file icon and click Get Info. Once the dialogue box is open, delete and retype the file name. Your files is ready to be sent as an attachment.

Another option is to use Adobe: To keep the ARC clean and tidy and create a new PDF, you open the file and use the Save As function under File/Save As. You would label the new document and, once it is saved, you are good to go.

The proper name for your file is:



Q: Why unsecured or non-DRMed PDF? How do I know if mine is unsecured/non-DRMed?

A: You will know if your files is a non-DRM file if you do not have to use a password to open it. Since we have more than one person judging your work, password-protection does not work for us.


Q: But, doesn’t that mean someone can pirate my book entered in EPIC’s contest?

A: The only people who see your entry, outside of the judges, are the entry verifier (who verifies your entry in regards to date published, copyright date, is “as sells” – including cover if required), the Competition and Judging Coordinator checks that the naming convention is correct and your listed link is valid, and me, the Chair, who oversees everything.

As industry professionals, the same as YOU, every EPIC EBook Competition Committee member, coordinator, and judge are just as concerned about violating copyright and industry rights as you would be if placed in the same situation. ALL books are erased from servers and electronic devices at the close of the competition, usually around mid-November (just in case you are wondering).

The repercussions that would result from violating ANY EPIC Competition Coordinating or Judging rules would be far-reaching and none of which would be pretty. I have voodoo dolls and know how to use them!

But, seriously, this is the best competition around.

We offer a wide range of categories, will answer any questions (NO question is too dumb *eg*), and will do our best to keep you updated and informed.


Q: What makes EPIC’s e-Book Contest unique among the industry awards?

A: EPIC's EBook Competition is unique for the patience and understanding (*lol* ) of the Competition Committee, made entirely of e- and print publishing industry professionals who are members of EPIC. This competition has garnered a wonderful reputation with both entrants and judges; a reputation that has exceeded, and which will continue to exceed, even our expectations as we move into the future.

Whether they are Committee members, or competition judges and coordinators, all participants of this competition go out of their way to treat each entrant's submission equally, whether they are a member of EPIC or non-member. Judging is performed by industry peers, both from e- and print. All entrant information and scores are held in utmost security and confidentiality (bribery doesn't work, though it HAS been tried).

We are constantly open to suggestions on improving, streamlining, or modifying EPIC's EBook Competition, going the extra mile to formulate EPIC's competition to reflect the current mores of the industry and e-publishing, listening to both EPIC's membership and entrants - past and future.

17 July 2009

NEW print releases and free read!

I love release days. There's something energizing about updating the site and such after a release...a renewal of sorts.

So, what's new? Three new releases in print from Under The Moon!

First up...THREE WISHES (Urban Grimms #2). Everyone has their own ideas what they would do with three wishes, but not everyone considers how the intemperate fay might apply those wishes, given the chance for a good mischief. Ellie D'Arcy never knew she would have to choose the wishes her mother should have at her birth. Now, her three fairy godfathers have a shot at causing some striking upset in her world.
To purchase THREE WISHES from UTM...in e-book... in print...

THE TEMPTATION OF EVE (Urban Grimms #3)- Eve is an innocent, marrying an older, worldly, and very strict man that she adores. When he's poisoned just hours after their wedding, his family targets her and takes the Bible position of "Suffer ye not a poisoner to live." The problem is, Eve isn't a poisoner. When a miracle offered by her new BIL (the womanizing black sheep of the family) brings her husband back, she finds herself in the midst of war between the two...but which is the greater danger to her?
To purchase THE TEMPTATION OF EVE from UTM...in e-book... in print...

UNDEAD EMBRACE- straight genre horror and horror comedy from myself, TL Ryder, and Terri Pray! Excellent stuff and safe for pre-teen and teen readers.

To purchase UNDEAD EMBRACE from UTM...in e-book... in print...

And the free read... The Stone Lord...safe for young teen readers! What happens when the stone lord dies, and the next marked with Syth is still a child?
To read The Stone Lord...

16 July 2009

Don't forget! EPPIE opens for entries!

Formerly called the EPPIE, EPIC's 11th annual e-Book Awards have opened for entries. Because of the shifting schedule for judging, this year ONLY, the e-books eligible for entry should have released for sale from Oct 1, 2008 through May 31, 2009. For more information, click this link!