Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Steyn on "The Desperation-Deprivation Myth"

Mark Steyn, who tops my list of favorite political/cultural commentators, once again hits it out of the park with a column that blasts the lame excuse-making for the recent British riots. In part:
In fact, these feral youth live better than 90 percent of the population of the planet. They certainly live better than their fellow youths halfway around the world who go to work each day in factories across China and India to make the cool electronic toys young Westerners expect to enjoy as their birthright. In Britain, as in America and Europe, the young take it for granted that this agreeable division of responsibilities is as permanent a feature of life as the earth and sky: Rajiv and Suresh in Bangalore make the state-of-the-art gizmo, Kevin and Ron in Birmingham get to play with it. That’s just the way it is. And, because that’s the way it is, Kevin and Ron and the welfare state that attends their every need assume ’twill always be so.

To justify their looting, the looters appealed to the conventional desperation-of-deprivation narrative: They’d “do anything to get more money.” Anything, that is, except get up in the morning, put on a clean shirt, and go off to do a day’s work. That concept is all but unknown to the homes in which these guys were raised....

The problem for the Western world is that it has incentivized non-productivity on an industrial scale. For large numbers at the lower end of the spectrum (still quaintly referred to by British reporters as “working class”), the ritual of work — of lifetime employment as a normal feature of life — has been all but bred out by multigenerational dependency. At the upper end of the spectrum, too many of us seem to regard an advanced Western society as the geopolitical version of a lavishly endowed charitable foundation that funds somnolent programming on NPR.
As is always mandatory when it comes to a Mark Steyn piece, read it all.

UPDATE: Related: Eminent criminologist and scholar James Q. Wilson demolishes the notion that unemployment and bad economic times lead to an increase in crime:
But the notion that unemployment causes crime runs into some obvious difficulties. For one thing, the 1960s, a period of rising crime, had essentially the same unemployment rate as the late 1990s and early 2000s, a period when crime fell. Further, during the Great Depression, when unemployment hit 25 percent, the crime rate in many cities went down....

[And] when the recent recession struck...[and] as the national unemployment rate doubled from around 5 percent to nearly 10 percent, the property-crime rate, far from spiking, fell significantly. For 2009, the FBI reported an 8 percent drop in the nationwide robbery rate and a 17 percent reduction in the auto-theft rate from the previous year. Big-city reports show the same thing. Between 2008 and 2010, New York City experienced a 4 percent decline in the robbery rate and a 10 percent fall in the burglary rate. Boston, Chicago, and Los Angeles witnessed similar declines. The FBI’s latest numbers, for 2010, show that the national crime rate fell again....

Some scholars argue that the unemployment rate is too crude a measure of economic frustration to prove the connection between unemployment and crime, since it estimates only the percentage of the labor force that is looking for work and hasn’t found it. But other economic indicators tell much the same story.... So we have little reason to ascribe the recent crime decline to jobs, the labor market, or consumer sentiment.

Friday, August 19, 2011

A new blog launched: THE VIGILANTE AUTHOR

I'd like to invite you to my new blog, focused entirely on fiction -- especially my own -- and self-publishing: THE VIGILANTE AUTHOR.

For quite some time, I've been uncomfortable with this multiple-purpose blog. It has tried to address two largely distinct audiences: people interested in my discussions of politics, culture, and philosophy, and people interested in fiction and self-publishing. Many readers eager to read about the former won't want to be harangued about the latter -- and vice-versa.

For that reason, I've decided to launch THE VIGILANTE AUTHOR as a site dedicated to the fiction/self-publishing topic areas, while this blog will sharpen its focus entirely to comments and observations about socio-political topics.

I'll eliminate a number of links on the right margin of this site that pertain to fiction/self-publishing matters. If that's what interests you most, head on over to THE VIGILANTE AUTHOR.

If hard-hitting commentary about the passing scene is what interests you most, though, stay put, kick off your shoes, and feel free to chime in here.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I'm interviewed by blogger Rich Engle about "HUNTER"

Those interested in learning a bit more about me, my writing methods, the public response to HUNTER, and the role that my philosophical views played in the novel, are invited to read the interview just posted by Rich Engle on his blog.

Thanks, Rich, for asking some questions that other interviewers won't.

Monday, August 15, 2011

"HUNTER" ranked #1 by customers on 3 Kindle lists

As of August 15, there are posted a whopping 45 "5-star" Amazon customer reviews for HUNTER; there is also one lone "4-star" review. Because of these stellar buyer ratings, my debut thriller now stands at #1 on three Kindle "Top Rated" lists: "Thrillers," "Romantic Suspense," and "Spy Stories & Tales of Intrigue."

Based on customer ratings, it also ranks #2 among all "Mysteries & Thrillers," #3 among all "Romance" titles, #7 in all "Genre Fiction," and #22 among ALL "Fiction" titles on the Kindle. Finally, among all 986,000+ Kindle ebooks -- both fiction and nonfiction -- HUNTER stands at #102.

Check out the new Amazon reviews here.

UPDATE: The first review from an actual book-review site, "Crime Fiction Lover," in Britain, gives 4 stars to the book, which it describes as "a tight, slick spy thriller" with "engaging characters":
There are convincing details of weapons, combat, information gathering, information masking methods, and the technology that makes it all possible. While the author’s background is not in this area, the research done to provide a convincing image is obvious.... If you are a fan of slick espionage thrillers, and are looking to find something a little closer to home that carries a message with the story, this tale is for you.

UPDATE: I've posted a lot of new material at the Dylan Hunter Facebook Fan Page.

UPDATE, 8/16: HUNTER (8-16, 9 pm) has now entered the Kindle "Top 50 Bestsellers" in "Spy Stories & Tales of Intrigue," at #47. It also has reached #77 on the Kindle bestseller list in "Romantic Suspense." And it now appears on a third bestseller list, too: the broader Amazon.com bestseller list of "Romantic Suspense" titles, at #93, a list that includes many more titles than the Kindle ebook list.

In other words, the book's sales numbers are beginning to track more closely with the its stellar "customer ratings."

UPDATE, 8/17: Amazing -- the charts just continue to improve. I woke up checked at 9 am on 8-17 to find HUNTER with the following new low rankings on three "bestseller" charts: #45 bestseller in "Spy Stories & Tales of Intrigue"; #67 in the Kindle Store's "Romantic Suspense"; and #79 on Amazon.com's broader "Romantic Suspense" list. Again, these are actual sales lists -- not customer-rating lists, which are even better.

UPDATE, 8/18 -- Today, HUNTER reached as low as #40 bestseller on the Kindle "Spy Stories & Tales of Intrigue" chart, and #56 on the "Romantic Suspense" list. It's overall ranking on the Kindle among all paid (rather than free) items descended to about #2000 out of over 969,000 products. HUNTER is now selling on the Kindle at a rate three times greater per day than it did during the first four days this month.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Investigation into publishers under-reporting ebook royalties

There have been stories for some time that major publishers have been systematically under-reporting ebook royalties, and hence stiffing their authors the payments they've earned.

Now a law firm has launched an investigation. Here are the details.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Publishers terrified to compete with Amazon Publishing

Publishers Weekly has begrudgingly acknowledged the obvious in an article titled "All Eyes on Amazon Publishing." After quoting a lot of grousing bookstore owners and nervous agents, the meat of the article -- which reveals the real concern of PW and its Big 6 clientele -- is to be found in the final two paragraphs:
For many agents, along with some booksellers, the real concern about Amazon Publishing has to do with what it could signal for traditional publishers. If Amazon lands enough bestselling authors, it could dominate traditional publishing the way it has come to monopolize online bookselling. Jeff McCord, owner of the Atlanta shop Bound to Be Read Books, thinks Amazon has long “wished to take over the book industry from top to bottom” and its recent foray into publishing is proof. “Amazon Publishing is a bigger worry for publishers than for bookstores,” he said.

While agents don’t want to see Amazon gain more control over any part of the business, they will go where they find the best deals. If Amazon is offering better royalty rates on both print and digital than many traditional houses—as some reports suggest—agents will be forced to do business with a company that, as one insider put it, “there is a lot of bad blood with.”
Translation: Publishers are scared out of their wits that Amazon is going to out-compete them for authors on the publishing end, just as booksellers are furious that Amazon's online and Kindle business has out-competed them on the retail end. Just you wait: It won't be long before all the dying dinosaurs try to get the government to crack down on this superb competitor with the bludgeon of antitrust" laws, instead of their own improvements in quality, author terms, and customer service.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Please donate to help the families of fallen Navy SEALS

I'd be grateful if you'd consider making a donation to the Navy SEAL Foundation, to help the grieving families of the incredibly gallant members of SEAL Team 6 who died this week in Afghanistan.

I just donated and I hope that you will, too.

And I hope you'll repost this message and the link on your own blogs and social-networking sites.

Thank you.

I'm interviewed on "Kindle Author" about "HUNTER"

I've just been interviewed by "KINDLE AUTHOR."

Here is stuff you may (or may not!) want to know about HUNTER, about its hero and its genesis, and about me.


UPDATE, 8/7/11 1:30 pm.: Based on sales, HUNTER is currently (1:45 pm Sunday) the #56 ranked bestseller in Kindle "Spy Stories & Tales of Intrigue" and the #90 Kindle bestseller in "Romantic Suspense."

UPDATE, 8/9/11: Based on customer ratings, HUNTER is now the #26 "Top Rated in Fiction" -- that's ALL fiction -- on the Kindle, which includes over 286,000 titles. It's also #9 "Top Rated in Genre Fiction," #3 "Top Rated in Romance," #2 "Top Rated in Mysteries & Thrillers," and ...

#1 "Top Rated in Thrillers"
#1 "Top Rated in Spy Stories & Tales of Intrigue"
#1 "Top Rated in Romantic Suspense"

Thank YOU, dear readers, for this incredible response to my debut novel.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

"HUNTER" hits an Amazon Top 100 Bestseller list

On the afternoon of August 3 -- after just six weeks of release as a self-published novel -- HUNTER, my debut thriller, entered the Kindle Top 100 bestseller list in the "Spy Stories & Tales of Intrigue" category. As of 7:30 p.m. Eastern, it reached as low as #82, ahead of the following bestselling authors and titles on that list:

James Rollins ("The Judas Strain"), David Baldacci ("Absolute Power"), Clive Cussler ("Atlantis Found"), Tom Clancy ("The Teeth of the Tiger," "Patriot Games"), Jack du Brul, Ken Follett ("Lie Down with Lions"), Daniel Silva ("Mark of the Assassin," "The Marching Season"), Stephen Hunter ("Time to Hunt"), Robert B. Parker ("Night & Day: A Jesse Stone Novel"), Nelson DeMille ("The Charm School," "By the Rivers of Babylon"), William Gibson ("Pattern Recognition"), M.H. Sargent ("Operation Spider Web," "The Yemen Connection"), and Jack Higgins ("The Eye of the Storm").

Also today, HUNTER received its 40th Amazon customer review -- the 39th that rated it with "5 Stars," the highest possible ranking. As a result, the novel is now customer-ranked #1 on the Kindle list "Top Rated in Spy Stories & Tales of Intrigue," #1 "Top Rated in Romantic Suspense," #2 "Top Rated in Thrillers" (that's among all thrillers available on the Kindle), #4 "Top Rated in Mysteries & Thrillers," #8 #5* "Top Rated in Romance," #19 #14* "Top Rated in Genre Fiction," and #45 #40* "Top Rated in Fiction" (again, that's all fiction available on the Kindle, over 285,000 titles).

If you would've asked me even two months ago if this would have happened -- let alone so soon, and even for an hour -- I would've laughed in your face. Nonetheless, I'm grateful to my readers.

* These revised rankings as of 8/4/11.

UPDATE, 8/5/11 -- As of 10:45 a.m., HUNTER is down to #75 on Kindle's "Bestsellers in Spy Stories & Tales of Intrigue" list, another new low ranking. It's also well under the #5,000 ranking in sales of all Kindle titles -- #4,460, to be precise -- out of almost a million ebook titles. In addition, several online interviews with me and reviews of the book are pending, which will only accelerate sales.

UPDATE, 8/6/11 -- HUNTER sales ranking fell to as low as #60 on the "Spy Stories" bestseller list, and continues to hover in the low 60s. It's overall Kindle sales ranking is down to the low-to-mid 3,000s.

UPDATE, 8/15/11 -- HUNTER has fallen periodically to rankings as low as #55 on the "Spy Stories" bestseller list and has appeared repeatedly on the "Romantic Suspense" bestseller list, too.