Wednesday, March 4, 2009

FREE online gay fiction! (And other goodies)

The title of this post is FREE ONLINE GAY FICTION.

And just in case the Googlebot (which is infamous for the peanut-like dimensions of its brain) is having a hard time interpreting that, allow me to expound:

FREE, as in "at no cost, no charge;"
ONLINE, as in, "on the Internet, in cyberspace;"
GAY, as in "not straight; bent; queer; you know ... gay;"
FICTION, as in, "a story, a novel, a plot; not a documentary."

So: FREE ONLINE GAY FICTION could be interpreted as "no-cost Internet-driven bent stories." Or "cost-free web published queer novels." Or, "no charge cyberspace not-straight plots."

I wonder if there enough KEYWORDS in this post to get some Bot's attention, and get through to its microscopic mind that I'm talking about --

You guessed. Free online gay novels.

Because, I'll tell you something ... you have a hard time giving the damned things away! I mean, there's Legends, commencing Chapter Twelve with about 35,000 words online, and I'm increasingly at a loss as to how to get people's attention.

I can't just make the novel itself searchable by Google, because the very thing you don't want is for some twinkie, underage and all, searching for hair care tips or skin care products, pulling up a page in which two very male males are getting ... companionable. Why did the page pull up? Because the text on said page speaks of "hair" and "skin." Bad, bad idea to let the engines index it.

So, since 0% of traffic is going to be coming from search engines, visitors can only come from directories.

And this is where it gets interesting!

I don't recall Google Directories being the same animal as DMOZ, when first I started marketing my work ... back in those days, Goog was Goog and DMOZ seemed to be a bunch of dessicated old wannabe academics with the power of god to award lesser mortals a place among the halcyon pages of their divine directory -- or not. And it was usually not. At the time, you could submit your blog or site to multiple Google Directories, which gave you half a chance of being discovered since you had cross-referenced and indexed yourself.

Turns out, Goog and DMOZ are now the same thing. The dessicated drivellers have gotten control of Google Directories, meaning -- yep -- you can now only have one submission category. (And tough luck if you're fantasy, AND gay, AND a novel, AND a serial!) Playing it safe, asking nicely for Legends to be listed under Gay, means a work of serious fiction is going to be listed along with the oceans of pornography, the rivers of erotica and similar ... stuff.

Not that it's likely to be an issue, because the DMOZ people are reported to be so far "down" on sites carrying commercials, your name could be Moses, you could be uploading the word of God himself, and if you carry commercials in the margin for Guttenberg, the local Synagogue, and Kosher groceries by mailorder -- DMOZ will take a great delight in rejecting you, and chucking God out right along with you.

So ... directories are a little bit thin on the ground. I spoke yesterday about something called ... and utterly to my confusion, Legends was rejected by these bods, too. Here is some vaguest clue as to why the blog isn't good enough for them:

Dear Mel Keegan,
Thank you for submitting your blog LEGENDS: a digital novel by Mel Keegan
( to BlogCatalog.

Unfortunately upon reviewing your blog we are unable to grant it access to the directory.

The most common reasons for not getting into Blog Catalog are:

We could not verify ownership of your blog. A link back, widget or meta-tag is required to verify site ownership.
The URL you submitted is not a blog.
The URL you submitted is solely for commercial purposes, or is suspected to be spam.
Your blog is brand new and/or doesn't have enough content to make it truly valuable.
If this is the case, please resubmit after you have made more postings.
Your blog contains pornographic material.
At the time of review your blog was unavailable or there was a typo in your submission URL.
Please make sure the URL submitted is correct and accessible.

The above list is complete twaddle: the backlink was there (meaning, I'm potentially feeding them traffic even now! I'm about to delete it, naturally); the URL is at blogger -- duh; it's not "solely commercial" -- it's a bloody novel; it's not spam; it's not brand new -- there's 35,000 words of fiction and a half dozen works of art there; there is no pornographic material there -- you'd have to be a puritan of the first water to file the love scene under "porn"; Blogger was not "down" at the time -- it hasn't been "down" in months; and the URL is both correct and accessible.

I have the strongest feeling that someone at BlogCatalog got as far as the Caveat (which is required by law and decency), and cut corners to save time on the job. They hit the "reject" button as soon as they saw the words "adult themes, realistic violence, and material of a sensual nature." In their world, the literal translation for the above is PORN. They're dead wrong, but I can do nothing about it. On this criteria, everything from Highlander to Conan the Barbarian would be filed under porn. It's so moronic, I'm astonished.

At the same time I also contacted a third directory, with an application for a listing ... no reply. I think the word "gay" probably gives them a rash.

It's going to get tougher from here on, because I've already hit the high spots, and I do believe homophobia is at work in at least a couple of cases. (Plus commerciophobia, in the case of DMOZ, where it's advertising of any description that brings the dusty old dears out in hives.)

Okay ... back to the drawing board, think of something new!

So I started surfing, looking for opportunities -- and after having been locked out of the Kindle Store (not through homophobia, but through xenophobia! Amazon Kindle is a privilege not -- yet?? -- permitted to foreign devils, such as Aussies, and Brits, and all souls born beyond those fabled shores) ... so, well, let's say I was surprised and delighted to be made welcome --

At the Mobipocket Store. Publishers wanting to sign up? The line forms to the left! I alerted DreamCraft to the possibilities, and it was "on" at once.

Right now we're looking into Mobi as a serious alternative to the Kindle store. To begin with, Kindle users can read Mobi files. Then, the store is almost as big as the Kindle store, with over 120,000 titles. And -- being a French company -- Mobi is not as hidebound as Amazon. They do have a gay/lesbian category, but most gay books are not listed there. They're listed under SF or Fantasy, or Romance or whatever, because Europeans are not so touchy on the subject: the word "gay" doesn't make too many people in Span, France, Germany, start to itch and sneeze. (The titles listed under Gay/lesbian are sizzling hot and short on plot. Uh huh.)

So here's where we are right now: we'd have been at Smashwords with three titles today (!) if only the upload server wasn't "down." Since it is -- well, we'll try again tomorrow. And we'll be at the Mobipocket store by the weekend, all being well.

The only downside I can see with Mobi is the DRM thing ... Digital Rights Management is, at this time, a bit of a mess. However, it does prevent people from just sending copies to friends, willy nilly -- which is, alas, what happens with unprotected PDFs. (If your name is Jeffrey Archer or Stephen King, you sell so many thousands of the things, you don't care; but if you're still celebrating each sale, as most self-marketers are, the file-sharing hurts).

So, the DRM protection of Mobi files is certainly going to get up a lot of readers' noses, but if you can live with this, people --

Keegan on your Kindle is a reality ... no thanks, mind you, to Amazon! You'll be able to get Fortunes of War, Lords of Harbendane and Dangerous Moonlight for your Kindle in a few days. We'll issue the backlist a few at a time this way.

And at the same time (as soon as the Smashwords server is back up) you'll be able to say you've got Keegan on the phone ... Smartphones and iPhones are catered to here: Stanza. We'll start with the same set of three, and go on, and out, from there.

To see what it's going to be like reading on a phone, I resized a browser:
That's not too bad at all, is it? I could live with that.

So there you have it. Progress is being made, albeit slowly. Legends remains problematical, not because of itself, but because it's a heck of a lot harder than I would ever have expected, getting listed in any location where interested will see it. Also, the "viral url" concept, where the address is emailed from person to person, is a non-starter. No go. The worst that can happen is that I'll finish the thing and issue it via Payloads, Smashwords, Mobi, Amazon, Lulu and whatever else has come along by then.

In other words, we'll see how we go.


No comments:

Post a Comment