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Piracy and plagiarism have always been with us: one of the earliest cases is said to have been adjudicated by the 6th-century Irish High King Diarmait mac Cearbhaill, who pronounced, “To every cow its calf, and to every book its copy.” This started a war that resulted in the exile of the culprit, who repented for causing so many deaths, turned over a new leaf, and became Saint Columba.
There are writers out there who are on the record dismissing the importance of book piracy, and likening it to “free publicity.” But why encourage criminals? Others have compared piracy to borrowing books from a public library. This opinion is mistaken. Libraries purchase their inventory from reputable sources, so authors have been paid for each book libraries acquire. Libraries then lend their own property to their registered patrons. This is fair use. Readers may later purchase books that they borrowed from a library. I have often done so.
Piracy undoubtedly is exacerbated by the reluctance of many Indie Authors to obtain copyright registration. What should thieves fear, when their victims will have difficulty proving ownership without legal documentation of copyright? In the USA, copyright registration is easy, inexpensive, and should not be omitted.
A retailer giveaway may boost an author’s “sales ranking,” but such figures are deceptive: something that is given for free has not been sold. Assertions of popularity that are based on such misrepresentations destroy an author’s credibility. These promotionals benefit only retailers, who make claims to have “best-selling” authors in their stables. Participating authors may be disappointed when such promos neither improve nor maintain their incomes.
The distribution of free e-books also has made it simple and cost-effective for criminals to steal intellectual property. I believe that the pirates who advertise new paper books “in stock” are lying about their inventory. If they do get an order, they can easily download a cheap or free e-book and print from that copy. It’s not hard to reverse-engineer most digital documents, especially those which lack DRM.
It’s sad that so few people have read Irish Firebrands, but sometimes it helps to have published a sleeper, because I can account for every known legal copy:
My copyright was officially registered from the beginning of my book’s publication. I’ve seen my book on one of those dodgy “free e-book” distribution sites, but it’s accompanied by a copyright warning. If people are buying and reading pirate copies, nobody is reviewing the book anywhere (not even trolls).
I commend Indie Authors who register their copyrights. In addition, I encourage all to end free e-book distribution, and to set prices for their works that are commensurate with their value. Feel free to add the CAP IT! Badge to your blog’s sidebar or footer.
If you are one of those who have downloaded the 51% preview of Irish Firebrands, be aware that the Smashwords e-book price returned to the original publication price of $9.99 on March 1. Amazon runs its own sales on the paperback (the latest was discounted 19%).
When you consider the tonnage of the tomes under which our planet groans, there doesn’t seem to be any new ground left to cover in the BISAC Subject Heading Codes for marketing books. But pigeonholing Irish Firebrands stumped me, because of its unexpected combination of Boomer-lit, contemporary romantic beach-read, supernatural-paranormal, social-political-historical exposé, psychopathology, and religious elements.
Unexpected? How can that be? you may ask. After all, you wrote it – almost 500 pages of it.
Well, it’s like this: The book wrote itself. All I did was write it down. Very little conscious decision-making went into it: mainly that of plugging scenes into their proper places in the story’s calendar. I had no idea that I was going to write about strange bedfellows like religion and politics.
Ah, but it had to be somebody’s fault. Whose fault was it?
His career had been based on finding answers to questions like that – but looking into Lana’s eyes, he wondered if it really mattered, now…. “Sorry. I think I got out of line, there.”
“That’s okay. Everybody’s entitled to his own opinions.”
“I guess that’s why they say, never discuss religion or politics.”
“Kind of tough to do. I’m a religious person.”
“And I’m a political journalist.”
Her gaze was so grave, he was stricken with apprehension– Don’t let this be goodbye! Then the corners of her eyes crinkled in that way that made him catch his breath in unexpected excitement.
“Sounds like the beginning of an interesting friendship,” she said.
(Irish Firebrands, Chapter 6)
Most of the writing experience was of the lightbulb-over-the-head variety: a political, historical or social controversy would abruptly leap off the page of a book, or out of the Irish newspaper in the browser on the screen, suggesting a fictional situation that previously I’d had no clue existed. This led to some “cringe and whinge” days, when I groused to the Muse, “You want me to write about that? You’ve got to be kidding.” But the answer was always, “Nope. That’s what happened.” All I could do then was quibble over semantics.
Popular fiction has often examined the spiritual struggles of those who profess the world’s creeds. Anglicans, Amish, monks, Muslims, priests, Puritans, nuns, Nonconformists, Buddhists, Biblical reinventions: all have been found on my bookshelves. It should have been no surprise that Irish Firebrands would hale Mormons out of their traditional cozy-inspirational niche in the Intermountain West, to weather the storms of a mainstream, multi-genre, multi-cultural melodrama about people with maladaptive coping strategies. (One early reader remarked that the book reminded her of works by Graham Greene – whom I’ve never read – who apparently wrote in a similar way about troubled Catholics.)
To have a marketing category choice like Fusion Fiction would have saved me the Sturm und Drang of picking through dozens of marketing categories, none of which accurately described what I’d written. As a genre, Fusion Fiction is how writing shows the hybrid vigor it inherited from the strange-bedfellow meeting of Art and Life.
Now I’m wading through the mud and the blood of early twentieth-century history to write a novel in a genre that’s different to that of my first book. I’m still just the scribe, but I do feel better prepared meet the the strange bedfellows that may lurk between the covers.
Seeking Visually Disabled Beta Readers for Irish Firebrands text-to-speech (TTS) audiobook testing. Click HERE for Details.
As with the old hippie salutation, “What’s your Sign?” this question is not as straightforward as it looks.
In Western astrology, a horoscope may be complicated by a birth on the “cusp” (like mine). Furthermore, you have to account for the sway exerted by the moon and any stray planets that are hanging around.
But that’s only one system of star-gazing in a world where people have been staring at the sky on clear nights and joining up the dots every-which-way for millennia. What if you also factor in Chinese reckoning, Hindu astrology, and the Mayan calendar?
You might wind up with a work of Fusion Fiction, that’s what.
As fiction goes, my first novel, Irish Firebrands is über-formulaic, because it involves, to varying degrees, four of the five sources of conflict: Man versus Self, Man versus Fate, Man versus Nature, and Man versus Man. (The only conflict that doesn’t happen is Man versus Technology.)
But in what genre does all this conflict occur? Inquiring minds want to know!
Writers seem to be expected to pinpoint their genres. Agents and publishers state their genre preferences in an effort to prevent their desk tops from morphing into The Slush Pile that Ate Manhattan, and indie authors need to supply a genre for their self-published tomes to be listed appropriately by distributors.
But rather than playing a simple game of “Animal, Vegetable or Mineral?” Irish Firebrands engages in the dodgy pastime of “crossing genre lines.” At last count, there were six:
Since the story takes place in 2007-2008 and all but one of the most important characters are in their late-40s to early-60s, that puts the book in the category of Boomer Lit.
The basic story line is “Boy Meets Girl,” which is one of the Big Three plots (the other two being, “The Little Tailor” and “Gains the World but Loses His Own Soul”). That makes the book a romance, because developing a love relationship is its main focus.
Irish Firebrands tells a love story, but unlike simple storytelling (which just relates observable goings-on – as in, “See Dick run. Run, Dick, run!”), the reader is also privy to the often pathological thought processes of the two point-of-view characters. This makes it psychological fiction.
The behavioral psychology of the main characters is bound up with their experiences with faith, making Irish Firebrands be inspirational fiction.
The main and secondary characters are also larger-than-life personalities with mysterious pasts. This makes their story a melodrama.
Finally, there’s also something … strange … about the setting – a down-at-the-heel Irish farmhouse – that makes what would normally just be an inanimate object in the landscape, emerge from the background like a character with its own personality and back-story. This infuses the novel with a supernatural or paranormal motif.
This means Irish Firebrands is a Boomer Lit Romantic Inspirational Paranormal Psychological Melodrama.
So, what are your genres? Share them here!
(Art by knightstone.)
To many readers, the name Shel Silverstein (1930-1999) turns on the lights in their attics about poetry books for kids. But Silverstein had a long and varied career as a newspaper and magazine cartoonist, and as a songwriter: one of his hit songs was A Boy Named Sue.
Authors who keep to one genre of writing can certainly become specialists in their fields, although they’re also undertaking to search the same mine for new veins, in order to keep their output fresh. For some, this presents no problem: they were fortunate enough to have struck a mother lode, where their imaginations can excavate profitably for perhaps as long as a lifetime. Most end up moving mountains of slag, to produce each story.
For others, digging for more stories in the same genre feels claustrophobic: going down a dark mine shaft when they’d rather be working out in the open, traveling the territory and panning many streams. Some of these penman prospectors also look for precious gemstones among the genre pebbles, and by using literary lapidary, they can set these within their works, to lend additional color and light.
Authors in the second group are writing Fusion Fiction: a writing category that combines multiple genres within individual works, or across a writer’s corpora. Such cross-genre writing constitutes the synthesis of written thought: much as gems and precious metals are combined to make jewelry, and how rings, brooches, necklaces and diadems, taken together, constitute a monarch’s crown jewels.
If you’re writing Fusion Fiction, as a knowledgeable literary prospector, the written treasure you’re collating is no more a flash in the pan, than the collections of a skillful single-genre miner can be dismissed out-of-hand as fool’s gold. People want to read the kind of writing found in Fusion Fiction, but in a marketplace that’s been set up to favor single-genre works and writers, your style of storytelling is hard to find.
That’s why you’re invited to register your published writing for free promotion at the Fusion Fiction website. By coming together, writers who cross genre lines will raise their profiles and create an equitable marketplace for their unique works of Written Art. Like the existence of Shel Silverstein’s many cross-genre contributions, your literary legacy as a Fusion Fiction Author deserves to be known.