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Bill Smith Books Newsletter -- February 2009


Outlaw Galaxy 2 and Outlaw Galaxy 3 are out!

Two new Outlaw Galaxy books have been released this month! Outlaw Galaxy 2: Fugitve Among the Stars and Outlaw Galaxy 3: Hunter's Truth and Other Tales are now available!

The Outlaw Galaxy 2: Fugitive Among the Stars is just $2.99.

Outlaw Galaxy 3: Hunter's Truth and Other Tales is only 99 cents.

Outlaw Galaxy 2: Fugitive Among the Stars

Outlaw Galaxy 2: Fugitive Among the Stars continues the adventures of Benjamin "Trip" Trippany. Trip and his friends are planning a simple vacation in the wilderness of Karrison when they are caught in a life and death battle against the hired guns of gangster Croll Weixx!

The ebook is 42 chapters, about 72,000 words. Reading time is estimated at five hours. It is available as an ebook for just $2.99. Available in all major ebook formats, including mobi (for Kindle), epub (for Nook, Kobo, IPad and most others), PDF, plain text and other formats. To read sample chapters or order, go to the Outlaw Galaxy 2 page.

Outlaw Galaxy 3: Hunter's Truth and Other Tales

Outlaw Galaxy 3: Hunter's Truth and Other Tales is collection of five short stories, totalling about 15,000 words. A young woman gets a history lesson that she'll never forget. A fleet of colony ships sets out to tame a planet full of riches. And whatever happened to Diamond Black Joe after Outlaw Galaxy 1: Trip and the Space Pirates? Plus the title story, all for just 99 cents. To read a sample or order the book, just go to the Outlaw Galaxy 3 page.

Outlaw Galaxy Ebooks: NO DRM!

Outlaw Galaxy ebooks come in all of the most popular ebook formats, including mobi (for Kindle), epub (for Nook, Kobo, Ipad and most other ebook readers), PDF (good for reading on your PC if you don't have an epub reader), even plain text and other common formats if you buy through Smashwords or buy the package with all formats direct from me.

I am proud to offer my ebooks without DRM (Digital Rights Management) so you can read them on any computer or device you own and make backup copies or use a program like Calibre to convert it to any format that you want.

Companies use DRM to prevent you from using the book you've purchased. Even though you've paid for a DRM-ed ebook, you're only allowed to do things that the publisher allows you to do. Publishers use DRM to treat their customers like criminals.

With most DRM schemes, you can't print the ebooks you've bought. You're normally only allowed to load the book onto one computer. Tough luck if you want to have a backup copy on your laptop when you're travelling. Forget about putting a copy on your cell phone. And if that first device that has the ebook ever dies, you've lost that book and often have to go buy it again.

To top it off, most companies charge more for ebooks than mass-market paperbacks. It's as if publishers want ebooks to fail.

I believe in the future of ebooks. MP3 downloads are replacing CDs because they're cheaper and more convenient. With the growth of cheap netbooks and cell phones, ebooks will soon become a major part of the publishing industry.

I want my readers to be able to use their ebooks in ways that are convenient for them. My belief is that if readers have good experiences, enjoy my books, and find them easy to use, they'll buy more books. Allowing people to read, backup, print, and convert to different formats is a way of being fair to readers. And hopefully readers will tell their friends about my books.

And yes, without DRM, I am aware that some "sharing" with friends will happen. I'm actually kind of cool with that. Here's why: I learned about most of my favorite authors by borrowing books from libraries or friends. I buy a lot of books at used book sales. I know that word of mouth matters.

So, if you get a copy of one of my books from one of your friends and you enjoy the book, I'd ask you to show your support. You can buy one of my other books. Or you can throw some spare change into the Tip Jar -- send what you feel is fair, whether it's a quarter, 50 cents, or a dollar or two. Just go to and "Send Money" to Be sure to tell me what you thought of my stories, too.

Bill's Rant: Self-Publishing and Ebooks

I honestly believe we've finally reached the time when ebooks and self-publishing will go mainstream.

(And just barely in time, too. Traditional publishing is in crisis mode. Some of the major publishers are in deep trouble. There are signs that at least one major book retailer may go down in flames. This is not a fun time to be in big-league publishing.)

This time is an opportunity for ebooks and self-published books while mainstream publishing struggles.

For years, the publishing industry deemed self-publishing to be the domain of untalented hacks and amateurs. (You know, guys like Ben Franklin, Stephen King, Scott Adams of Dilbert fame, Mark Twain, Edgar Rice Burroughs, L. Frank Baum, Walt Whitman, Margaret Atwood, T.S. Eliot, Zane Grey, Louis L'Amour, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ernest Hemingway, Edgar Allen Poe, Stephen Crane, and Rudyard Kipling. All self-published. If they're hacks and amateurs, that's a club I'm proud to be a member of.)

The times, boy, are they a-changing. Some of publishing's biggest new stars started out publishing for themselves. William P. Young, author of The Shack, Christopher Paolini and his dragon books, Scott Sigler...all self-published. Some of the independent authors I admire include Julia Cameron (The Artist's Way), James Redfield (The Celestine Prophesies), and Shakti Gawain (Creative Visualization). All of them started publishing by themselves. Now, all of them are best-selling authors who have sold millions of books.

I've always looked at self-publishing and ebooks as the print version of "Indie music."

Indie musicians choose their path. Their first priority is to maintain their independence. They take one look at the "recording industry" -- record labels controlling the songs you can and can't release, questionable accounting practices, being ordered around by overzealous producers, pressure to act like the next Britney Spears or Backstreet Boys -- and they wisely say, "No thanks."

Traditional publishing is not much different these days. Honestly, I never put much effort into trying to sell my Outlaw Galaxy books to mainstream publishers.

All I know is that my writing was good enough for Del Rey and Lucasfilm Ltd. My two Star Wars Essential Guides sold nearly half a million copies. I've written for Fortune 500 companies. I've edited nearly 50 books for the Star Wars roleplaying game and other West End Games lines.

I do have real publishing credentials. I'm also having more fun doing it my way.

My Indie Publishing Path

I self-publish the Outlaw Galaxy series because, frankly, I don't want to play "the publishing game." I didn't want to have to cater to the publishing establishment, to revise my manuscript to meet "Rick from Marketing's" guesses about what the market wants, and to see my book go out into the world only to have it go out of print the next month. I didn't want to see my career declared "over" because my books might only sell 20,000 or 10,000 or 5,000 copies instead of 100,000.

I certainly didn't want to put up with all of that for a royalty of about forty cents a copy.

So I struck out on the "Indie Path."

I'm doing my own thing...writing in my office, publishing stories, building a core group of fans who enjoy my books, and being able to write the stories I really enjoy writing. I don't need enormous sales to have a good career.

No, I'm not in all of the major book stores. But my books are affordable and available around the world almost instantly.

And you know what? I'm having fun. That, in the end, is why I began writing in the first place.

Of course, in the long run, I know that I'm on the right path for me.

In order to survive as an author with mainstream publishing, you have to show a consistent record of outstanding sales. Publishers are no longer interested in the "mid-list author" with a stable fanbase. There's too much waste in the system -- returns, high overhead (offices in midtown Manhattan aren't cheap), printing and distribution costs, and on and on. There's a lot of waste.

And like I said, typically the author gets a royalty of anywhere from a quarter to eighty cents (forty cents being about average) for a mass market paperback.

Major publishers aren't much interested in you unless they know that you're going to sell at least 100,000 copies of every book. That's like being told, "In order to keep your job, you have to hit a home run every single time you get up to bat."

Like I said, "No thanks."

I'm much happier writing my own stories and dealing directly with fans. I can get by with modest sales -- to carry on the baseball analogy, I can have a very nice career hitting a bunch of singles, getting a few walks...the home runs, when they happen, are just the icing on the cake. I have the freedom to write the stories I want to write, not what marketing tells me I have to write.

The Ebook Future

For years, people have wondered when -- or if -- ebooks were going to go mainstream. I think we're on the verge of that now.

Ebooks are about to explode because of cheap netbooks and cheap web-enabled cell phones. Manufacturers are promising a whole new line of netbooks with retail prices below $200. A year from now, you'll find entry-level netbooks below $100...and pretty soon, you'll be able to buy a netbook at your local pharamacy or grocery store, right next to the cheap digital cameras and $25 DVD players.

Sure, these netbooks lack the bells and whistles. They can't run modern games. They run Linux instead of Windows Vista...but seriously, isn't that a blessing?

But you can use them to watch YouTube videos and movies. You can surf the web and keep up with your friends on Facebook and Twitter. They're not fancy, but they're cheap and they're good enough. And soon they'll be really, really cheap. Everyone will have one.

And everyone will be looking for entertainment.

Ebooks are perfect for these low-spec laptops.

It's going to be an exciting future for the authors and publishers who adapt to the evolving market, just as plenty of indie musicians are now doing well for themselves in the new music landscape -- few of them are getting rich, but a lot more of them are making a decent living.

I know I'm having a lot of fun doing my own thing. And I hope readers discover Outlaw Galaxy along the way.

Thank you for reading!

To the Stars!

Bill Smith

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Copyright Notice: BillSmithBooks, Outlaw Galaxy, Outlaw Galaxy Tales and Imagination Forge are trademarks of Bill Smith. Copyright 1998-2013 by Bill Smith. Please respect my copyright. Please don't copy, post on torrents or otherwise duplicate my stories without my express permission. Copyright infringement makes me sad.