Self Publishing

Recent events have certainly helped me put my difficulties with Amazon in perspective.

I think I’ve fixed the carriage return issue. It will take a few days to propagate. The error did not appear on the ebook page, so that’s good.

Mara and the Trolls will come down from AO3 in a few weeks, perhaps a month, when I shift to Kindle Preferred Publishing. That enables me to run sales and advertisements more easily, but they require that Amazon have the lowest price. MatT (heh) can’t be available for free anywhere.

Obviously Matt’s (heh) writing will remain most places, including AO3. And if it matters, I encourage all not-for-profit use of my works, including fanfiction, provided they’re disseminated for free. There’s a GNU that covers this, and I’ll figure out which one it is.


It’s been an interesting week in the USA.

You generally find what you’re looking for, so let’s look at some of the good things going on.

The Dragon spacecraft was delayed and later launched successfully. Good on NASA for making the right call to wait, good on the many people who build the thing, launched it, and are monitoring it now.

Various members of their communities came out to clean up someone else’s mess in cities like Minneapolis and Atlanta. People are rising to the occasion. If society grows when old men plant trees they won’t sit in the shade in, society heals happens when communities clean up wreckage they didn’t break.

Pandemic fatalities in the US and much of Europe are coming down significantly.

Mara and the Trolls comes out Sunday night/Monday morning in kindle format.

Target fixation is a thing in car driving, wherein if you look at something, you’ll probably drive your car there. On a track they tell you to look at the road, because if you look at the tree, you’ll hit the tree. In life, look at the positive. Accidents happen, but you’ll probably head towards where you aim.

Marvin Applewhite

In the wake of the Minneapolis protests and riots, locals are coming together to clean up. One of the leaders is Marvin Applewhite.

He has a GoFundMe, but I can’t confirm any of the details in it. I don’t want to post a direct link because it might be a scam. You can find it by searching for “Marvin Applewhite GoFundMe.”

A couple of thoughts struck me.

The first, which someone commented, is that the news doesn’t show this. I don’t think most news is inherently biased to show minorities in bad light so much as they only show the bad light of anything. It’s the old ‘people aren’t out to get you, they’re out to help themselves.’ The news is very much going after sturm und drang. So of course riots and arson will get primetime coverage, and that’s going to dominate over the people trying to help and repair. That’s not right, but it’s different.

Secondly, from pictures, I believe people are out there trying to fix things. In the wake of the anger, people are cleaning. There always are.

Space Launch

At around 2:33pm my time (MDT) NASA/SpaceX are going to launch for the ISS. As I write this, launch is about an hour away. Conditions are red for weather, but there’s hope things will clear up.

I’m equally excited and concerned. Probably my biggest single feeling is worry that something will go catastrophically wrong. Some humans just strapped themselves to a pillar of low explosive and are trying to stretch the bang out so they make it into space. If the bang happens a little too fast, they’ll die.

That’s is why the Space Shuttle was decommissioned. 2/5 or 40% of them blew up killing everyone on board. While it might have held great national pride, 40% kill ratio is just not good enough. The Dragon doesn’t really have a safety rating. This is a first time affair, so there are no statistics.

On the other hand, and perhaps a little more than 50%, I’m excited because if this works, big things are underway. We cannot ignore the symbolism and practical aspects of the USA being back in the manned space industry again. Models are only as good as the data we put into them, and the best way to get that data, the only way to get some, is by doing the deed. We have to actually send people into space to learn about sending people into space, and I take as a premise that sending people into space is a good thing to do.

Furthermore, I don’t think NASA should be building all rockets forever. There will be some things the government should be doing, things that are infeasible for the private sector as well as things that should be discouraged. But regulation should be the domain of the government. NASA should set the speed limits and paint the lines on the road. Building the cars should be done by private companies.

There will be exceptions. A telescope might be better suited to government construction than a private company. I could easily imagine a situation where a resource like position might be found to be unique, and therefore best adjudicated by the government. But technology has pushed merely getting into space out of that role.

Alt-tabbing over, the launch looks go.

On a personal note, I think people tend to ignore how invested they are in things like this because problems arise or other people aren’t. We walk around in ditches with the issues we must address piled high on either side. That’s not a mistake. We need to be mindful of the pandemic, paying rent, or buying groceries, and pay most of our attention to people we know.

But there are a lot of people in the US. If a bunch of them devote 1% of their efforts to space travel, that’s a huge amount of work. And those people rely on others, so we should be grateful even to those who don’t necessarily agree with us.

We should be extra grateful to the people strapping themselves to the rocket. Bob and Doug are the ones who will do the dying if this doesn’t work, and that brings us full circle.

I suppose I’m first worried and mostly excited.

30 minutes away.

Good luck, gentlemen.

Good luck, everyone.

Edit: They just scrubbed it for weather.

It’s the right thing to do. They pushed the weather countdown, and still scrubbed. I get the impression they thought things might clear up 10 minutes past the launch time, but it was an instantaneous window, and could not be delayed.

In aviation this is a big thing. Don’t push safety. If you can’t do it, don’t try. Just do the right thing, even if it is a disappointment.

Impatience is no reason to get someone killed. I’ll be excited for Saturday.


Thanks to guests who liked the Nine and Sauron Explains It All.

I kinda have an idea about SEIA but no real jokes to back it up. The Nine is ongoing slowly.

The Story of the Carriage Return pt 1 of a lot

Once upon a time in a mythical land called Denver, a boy tried to self publish his book, Mara and the Trolls. After many years and many character building moments, he had obtained a manuscript and was ready to submit to Nile Direct Publishing, or NDP for short.

In the world of self publishing, small errors abound. They are the biggest and most common complaints among readers. Dropped commas, bad hyphenation, and misspellings lead the list of problems. If you’ve ever seen anyone complain about the use of Comic Sans as a font, understand that using the wrong their/there/they’re is met with derision a hundred times worse.

It is for this reason that the boy OneTrueStudent went to immense and unpleasant lengths to make sure no such errors existed in his manuscript. He relied on two content editors and a copy editor, employed a layout specialist, and spent hours poring over the material. To make the book the best it could be, he went fishing for errors and tried to catch every one.

After three-ish years working on this, not including the years of writing the book, he submitted his manuscript to NDP.

NDP rejected it.

He submitted it again.

It got rejected again.

It turned out that NDP didn’t actually explain their cover bleed criteria in the texts of ancient lore, and the cover he had didn’t meet their standards. This took him several weeks to fix. However, in the fullness of time, the book was submitted, and in the process of submission, OneTrueStudent wrote a description of the book for the NDP page.

NDP used an html parser (American pronunciation) to create his book description page, and that parser stripped out a carriage return. Thus began the next phase of his opus.

A carriage return is a hard enter. The term comes from old typewriters because hitting the enter key moved the wheel with the paper on it back to the left, or ‘returned’ it, and rotated the printing drum one line. In modern English, a carriage return, hard return, hard enter, etc. is hitting the ‘Enter’ key to manually indicate the line ends. On paper, most paragraphs are broken up by a carriage return and an indent, but in online reading, most paragraphs use two carriage returns. The latter is easier on the eyes, the former is cheaper (because paper costs money) and since reading physical books is usually a bit easier on the eyes than screen reading anyway, the formatting has largely bifurcated to everyone’s satisfaction.

But not to the satisfaction of Nile Publishing.

Nile decided that they would remove OneTrueStudent’s carriage return and merge the second paragraph of the book description with the first. They decided this after the preview and submission. Since OneTrueStudent used a double carriage return, he didn’t include a space after the final punctuation in the first paragraph, which meant the new long, run-on paragraph had two sentences stuck together with no space between them.

Remember how in the world of self publishing typos are a great bane? Most readers avoid books with excessive typos like the plague. Now imagine how bad it would look for a book to have a typo in its description!

Obviously, this was unacceptable, and OneTrueStudent went to NDP to get it fixed.

‘No,’ said the Nile Customer Service Representative. ‘You should have fixed it before you submitted it.’

‘I did,’ said OneTrueStudent. ‘The parser messed up.’

‘Then submit the whole work again.’

This would take a week or so, but OneTrueStudent did.

‘No,’ said the next Nile Customer Service Representative. ‘We don’t like your cover anymore.’

‘But it’s the same cover you approved before,’ said OneTrueStudent.

‘Tough. We don’t like it anymore. Get a new one.’

So OneTrueStudent went back to his designer and commissioned a new cover based on NDP’s new standards. These new standards were fickle and changing lore, unwritten in any of NDP’s ancient texts.

But the wait is now on, for another week must pass before the designer will create a new cover, and another week must pass after that for NDP to review and approve it, and the description with NDP’s typo remains.

Part One of an ongoing tale.


Today on things you need to know: I bought a Glade air freshener instead of an Air Wick. I like the Air Wick more. That one can rotate the outlet prongs, whereas the Glade only works in one direction.

For some reason, all the outlets in my apartment save one are side-by-sides with the prong holes horizontal. I can’t use the Glade on any of them, save the one by my bathroom sink. I usually plug other things in there. The Air Wick can go into any outlet, because the prongs rotate. But the two aren’t compatible, and I bought the wrong one.

Working on more Elegy stuff. Get some goblins going.