The Elynx Saga goes permafree

Believe it or not, l4t did not die again. In fact, my to-post list has been growing longer for the past few months, but I never had the time to write anything because I had other priorities. One of these priorities was turning The Elynx Saga into a permafree series.

Oh, right. At this point, you probably have no idea what The Elynx Saga is. It’s my science fiction ebook series. I began writing it around 2002, just as a hobby, thinking that one day I would send it to a publisher to become rich and famous and gift it to the world. Eventually, self-publishing became a thing, and in late 2015, in the middle of an existential crisis kind of thing, I thought I’d drop everything I was doing and become a writer, taking advantage of all the stuff I had already written (pretty much four novels) and publishing it all on Amazon.

My super professional-looking ad.

After tons of work and time needed to re-read, proofread, change all the things that inevitably make you cringe 10+ years after you’ve written them, proofread again, translate everything from Italian into English, and understand the world of self-publishing, I eventually realised that, yes, I do like writing and I do want to publish my science fiction series for everyone to read; but writing for a living, especially given that you have to do everything by yourself with near zero immediate returns? No, thank you. You know, I like eating—and not freaking out. Besides, I came to the conclusion that I really love all the other things I was about to drop for the sake of writing alone, and had I abandoned them, I could never be really happy.
The Fall of the Gods

That realisation notwithstanding, I had already published my first book, The Fall of the Gods (aka FOG), and I saw no reason why I should not continue writing and publishing the rest of the series, albeit not as a job. I could still sell my books on Amazon and other publishing platforms, having fun in the process and maybe making a pretty penny from it, too. It wasn’t going to be very easy, though, because of the four books I had already written, only the first was actually good enough to be published. The rest was okay in terms of general directions for the series’ timeline and events, but basically it would need to be rewritten nearly from scratch—which is what I am currently doing. Additionally, other commitments (mainly my master’s thesis, Rejuvenaction, and studying web development) were preventing me from dedicating much time to my series; to top it all, a number of more or less horrible translation blunders had somehow made it to the English version of The Fall of the Gods. After a kind soul helped me root out all these outrages to the English language and put an end to their nefarious existence, I was ready to publish the second edition of The Fall of the Gods. If you think a ‘but’ is coming, you’re wrong. In fact, two but’s are coming.

The first ‘but’ was that all my manuscripts were written in OpenDocumentText (ODT) format. In order to get from ODT to Kindle and ePUB formats, my manuscript had to go through all sorts of more-or-less automatic conversions, the obvious result of which was that there would always be at least some things not working as expected; when this happened, I had little to no idea how to fix it. I had this kind of problems back then when I published the first edition of FOG, and I was having it again the second time around. In order to preserve my sanity, I decided to manually convert everything into ePUB format. This took tons of copypasting and messing around with CSS & HTML5 to make sure the end result would be reasonably compatible with a reasonable number of ebook readers, but at least now I have a flexible and reliable framework that does exactly what I want it do to and requires only little converting, which can be done with ease. This pushed the publication date forward by two more months.

The second ‘but’ should actually be further divided into two more but’s.

First, I really dislike Amazon. Thanks to their dominant position on the ebook market, they can afford playing bully. As an example, I was unjustly suspected of manipulating reviews, and consequently threatened to have my book taken down, because some friends of mine reviewed my book unbeknownst to me. If you’re an author, their policy forbids your friends and relatives to review your books; strict, maybe, but understandable. The problem is, Amazon don’t care whether you asked your friend to review your book or your friend did so of his own accord without telling you anything; you, as the author, are going to get the butt of it anyway. They won’t take any time to understand what’s going on. They’ll just send their standard threatening email to every author who fails to comply with their regulations to the letter. Speaking of standard emails, don’t get me started on their customer support. No matter what question you asked, the response you’re going to get is a standard copypaste, usually only vaguely related to your original enquiry. Initially I thought I had bumped into an especially dumb employee, but when nonsensical replies started piling up (coming from different people, at that), I realised they can’t all be that thick, and their answers must come from a standard script which they’re probably not supposed to deviate from by an iota. I’m glad I don’t work for Amazon.

Second, I am of the ‘information should be free’ school of thought. I could have published my ebooks for a price with other publishers than Amazon, but I’d rather have my own, cozy thing which I manage on my own and on my own website. In multiple formats and for free. So I took down my ebooks from Amazon and wherever else they had been published. Now you can only find them on my website, distributed under a Creative Common licence. I really couldn’t be bothered uploading them to other publishing platforms, especially for as long as my series will be a marginal phenomenon. Should there ever be any demand for it, I will consider making physical copies available for on-demand printing (always carefully avoiding any direct contact with Amazon). They probably won’t be for free, because, unlike ebooks, paper books have production and shipping costs, which no sane publisher would ever be willing to bear without making some profit off the author’s revenue. However, in such case I’ll try to keep the price as low as I can. For now, you can enjoy my books for free—even if you don’t have an ebook reader: Just download the PDF format.

I am not going to go into the details of the series or of FOG; I’m kinda hoping you’ll go and have a look for yourself on the series’ website. 😉