One month in, freelancing funtimes

It’s officially been a month since I quit my full time job in favour of a freelance existence. So far, so good. I’m still in one piece, people have been paying my invoices in a timely fashion and I haven’t become addicted to day time TV (to be fair, we don’t have a TV aerial, so this is less to do with willpower than I would like to think).

I haven’t quite managed to write loads of stories, which to be honest was kind of the whole point, but I have really enjoyed the chance to pet a really cute dog, play with my bookshelves and do a lot more reading. There’ve been quite few train journeys in the last few weeks, so I’ve been making the most of my new wee Kindle.

That said, I was feeling quite discouraged for a while, because I think I read three novels on the trot which I’d heard were good but turned out to be kind of unsatisfying. I won’t say what they were, because I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night for the thought of author’s Googling their own names and making lists of every slightly negative thing anyone has said about them ever.

Luckily, this disappointing run was broken with A Visit from the Goon Squad, which I loved and which reminded me what it feels like to be in the hands of a capable author. More books like that please. How much time can I reasonably spend reading and pass it off as research?

Publish your blog on Kindle eh?

Well, and if I thought that Kindle might be about to miss a trick I was embarrassingly mistaken it seems. As Econsultancy reports, Amazon has recently launched a simple self publishing tool to help bloggers spread their word on Kindle.

Amazon will turn your blog feed into a Kindle suitable format and there you go – all you have to do is sign up for Kindle Publishing for Blogs. Oh, and pay the subscription fee of course. And the commission (70 per cent).

None the less, if they are hoping to ensure that Kindle continues to rocket – it seems they are at last going the right way about it.

Online pirating turning to printed word

A nice article in the New York Times today again highlighted the growing panic that was first kindled with the introduction of Amazon’s eminently portable e-book reader. Ursula K. Le Guin was amongst those literary stars to find her work online illegally, and she is quoted as saying “Why do they think they can violate my copyright and get away with it?”.

I reckon because, well, they know they can. Despite the Pirate Bay guilty verdict, and increasing legal measures to cap illegal downloads, they still happen – and happen in their millions. What’s to stop books following in the footsteps of films and movies by becoming just the next file to share with your friends? There are already plenty of sites where you can find pirated copies of e-books, although whether they are there by the contest of the site owners remains a point of contention.

Motoko Rich at the NYT suggests that if publishers jump on the bandwagon more quickly than their peers in the music industry, they might manage to nip novel piracy in the bud by offering an easy legal alternative. Which seems a sensible enough solution – if the traditional houses can move fast enough.

Lots of people jump to the defence of pirating activities by suggesting that they are a way for writers to gain exposure and for readers to access work they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to. The thing that bugs me about this is the sheer number of writers out there – too great a choice is paralysing. And if anything by anyone can be uploaded to be downloaded free, from world famous authors to bedroom hopefuls, what happens to quality control?

Can I take an e-book in the bath?

Even though I love getting my hands on shiny new bits of technology, from fancy phones to sleek laptops, e-book readers – and e-books in general – have never really appealed to me. There’s something so satisfying about the tactile sensation of a book and when I find books with unusual typefaces or that are interestingly bound I’m instantly attracted to them. And it because of this possibility for endless textural variety (when it comes to paper, ink and font choices) that I see e-books as limiting possibilities rather than expanding them.

I know that e-books could actually provide a more environmentally friendly alternative than the ridiculously massive collection of ‘real’ books I own, but I don’t know if I’m un-selfish enough to give them up. Although maybe I won’t have to, and maybe e-books will end up coming to me far before I would’ve gotten round to them.

Just in the last month it seems like everyone is jumping on the Kindle bandwagon, what with Samsung announcing plans for their own reader and Google partnering with Sony to take on Amazon. But the news that really got me thinking was Amazon’s release of an e-book reader iPhone, a free app that means your phone works just like an e-reader.

Not having to specifically spend money on a dedicated reader is obviously a bonus and so is the thought that, should I accidentally forget to pick up novel I’m reading on the way out the house, I’d have dozens of novels to choose from in my pocket. No more bus journeys cursing my forgetfulness and staring out the window in a sulk – that sounds pretty tempting.

On the other hand, I’m pretty certain that no matter how snazzy the e-book readers become, even if they end up good for curling up with and sturdy enough to be used when you’re in the bath, they are never going to surpass paper and ink for me. But just maybe they could complement it.