The Internet Gets Weird

I guess it’s not really news that the Internet is a strange place but, for me, it got a little bit more weird than usual, recently. As self obsessed as it may potentially sound, I have a Google Alert set up for my name, meaning that I get an email pretty much anytime someone mentions me on the Internet. Personally I find it quite helpful, and I would recommend it to anyone trying to build an online platform, especially as it’s free, but that’s not what I wanted to talk about today. Today I wanted to document a strange thing that happened, which my Google Alert (fittingly) alerted me to: someone’s set up a complicated kind of scam linked to an illegal version of one of my books!

I don’t know the ins and outs of how it works but, basically, there’s a website out there in which Fake Person A asks where they can get a free electronic version of a specific book by me, and Fake Person B replies with a very dodgy link to what I believe to be a virus. Not only a virus, but one you have to pay to download. And not only a single payment, but a set of monthly payments that seems difficult to unsubscribe from once set up.

How do I know these people are fake? Well, this is the weird part – every time you load the page it tells you it’s on a different website, the people’s names have changed, the linked profiles don’t exist, and the messages are written ever so slightly differently. I can’t imagine what kind of coding goes into something like that but, actually, I’m a little impressed.*

Anyway, I guess the moral to the story is to keep an eye on what people are doing, and don’t try to download any illegal books.

The stupidity of the thing is that subscription to the “free” download site would cost more than the official eBook version anyway. *shakes head and sighs deeply* Stay safe online kids!


*If you’re wondering, Google really frowns on such things, and I’m confident they’ll block the link soon.


The Addiction of Instant Affirmation

I would rather write one-hundred thousand words of fan fiction than ten-thousand words of “original” fiction. Is it because I have fewer ideas for original stories? Is it because I prefer the writing process with fan fiction, or that writing fan fiction is in someway easier? Nope, nope, and not at all. The key is motivation – let me explain:

Ten-thousand words of a novel is ten-thousand words of a novel. It’s not a complete novel. Unfinished as it is, no one wants to read it*. And, generally speaking, you shouldn’t want to show it to people before it’s ready anyway. Posting it online severely lowers your chance of getting it accepted by a traditional publishing house. While giving friends and family a sneak peak can be a blessing or a curse, and there’s no way to tell until it’s too late.

So, basically, you’re left with ten-thousand words to worry over. Is it good enough? Will people like it? Even if you’re certain you’re penning a best seller (which you absolutely can not be sure of) you have to slog on and go through the long process to publication. It can take years, and it can be demoralizing.

Fan fiction, on the other hand? Because it’s not for profit you can share it online to your hearts content and, when you do, your heart is indeed content. You get reviews, and compliments, and people boast about you on Tumblr**. To me that kind of affirmation is like a drug***, and that’s why I do it. The fans. The community. People placing value on my work.


…I would rather write one-hundred thousand words of fan fiction than ten-thousand words of “original” fiction. This is a problem, because I have a novel to write. Can someone start paying me for Spike and Buffy stories?

Recommended Video: A TED Talk on Self Control (It’s vaguely related, and very interesting.)

*I’m throwing generalizations around, here.

**Okay, so you’re not guaranteed to get showered in praise but I’ve found that – excluding a few haters here and there – fan fiction readers are lovely, and if you come up with anything half decent you will no doubt get fans/followers.

***Disclaimer: drugs are bad. The high doesn’t last forever, and the following slump can be crippling. Same goes for writer’s block, though obviously to a lesser degree. Haters do hate, and they will kill you slowly if you let them.