Pull up a log by the campfire and enjoy some original creations by Stuart J. Whitmore, including photos, fiction, software, technical solutions, video, and more.

They Sure Gave Me Their 2 Cents Worth

In my last blog post, I mentioned that I wanted people to give me the worst-possible feedback about my books, because that will help me focus my attention where it is needed most. (It's not about being a masochist, really—I'd be happy if everyone thought my books were flawless!) All things considered, it's not surprising that my blog post asking for feedback did not actually generate any. That's OK, I didn't expect a rush of critiques.

However, I came up with a rather unusual idea. After pondering it for a good long time (30 seconds? maybe it was 45), I moved forward with it. I'm really glad I did. It turned out much better than I expected. Read on if you'd like to know what secret magical incantation... er, never mind. Read on to see how I used Amazon Mechanical Turk to get inexpensive and useful results.

Don't Bite Your Tongue, Hit Me With Your Worst

Creating something without feedback is a good way to get bad results. If your creation is good but you assume it's bad, the bad results will be failing to share something that others would appreciate. If your creation is bad but you assume it's good, the bad results will be sharing something that is not (yet) something that other people will enjoy. Creators are poor critics of their own work. Without feedback from other people, it's up to luck to correctly identify good or bad work and act accordingly. This should be obvious, right? Unfortunately, many people seem to not understand it. I've seen creators unwilling to accept thoughtful critiques from others, and I know that people can be hesitant to give negative feedback on a creative work, especially if the creator is a family member or close friend.

What Does Success Look Like?

In the years since I first decided to write a novel, my idea of “success” in writing has changed. When I started writing that first novel as a teenager in 9th grade, “success” meant finishing a complete, novel-length first draft. I achieved that the following year when I reached the end of that story. Knowing I could do it once, “success” then became finishing another one so I would know the first wasn't a fluke. I achieved that measure of success in 12th grade. Along the way, and well into the next books I would write after high school, “success” started looking more like having readers; not just any readers, but complete strangers, readers outside my circle of family and friends. That, too, is something I have accomplished.

My shifting definition of “success” advanced in 2010 when I had, for the first time, one of my books available on Amazon and available (at least through special order) in brick-and-mortar bookstores. My long-term “success” picture always included some vague and dreamy ideas about earning royalties, but that became concrete when I reached the point of my publishing career when I had a book with an ISBN, works registered with the US Copyright Office, and slowly-increasing royalties from sales to people I don't know. What does “success” look like to me now? Read on and I'll share some thoughts on that!

Rare First Printing Up For Auction

If you ever wanted a first-printing copy of my first paperback, now is your chance. With only about six ever printed, they are rare indeed, and this is my only copy. I did not plan to sell it, but as the auction listing indicates, financial needs overrule creative wants. If you're the winner of the auction, I will either autograph it or leave it as-is, it's up to you. Read on for more details about the book and the few copies of it that exist.

A Pixel is a Pixel

“If you want a professional result, you can't use GIMP.” I don't know if I've ever heard this sentiment stated so explicitly, but I've definitely run across it many times, in a variety of contexts. When I heard it come up in a discussion of indie authors creating their own book covers, it “inspired” me to write this blog post. (In this case, “inspired” is a polite euphemism.) This post is about digital images and software, not the decision to make your own book covers or hire a designer. That decision merits discussion, but it is a separate issue from digital images and software.

If you think you need to spend a lot of money on a certain brand of software to create “professional” images, you need to stop going along with that company's marketing ploy. A pixel is a pixel no matter how it gets created. This goes beyond digital images, it's also true for other things too, such as e-book files. What matters is the correctness of the end result, and that end result is not more or less professional depending on what tool was used to make it. Continue reading if you're not sure what I mean or if you think a certain brand of software is necessary.


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