Monday, March 31, 2014

The Ghost Part 29

The Ghost is a serial story that I update every week on Wattpad. It follows the exploits of a master thief who is also known as 'The Ghost'. You can read the blurb, or catch it from the beginning using the link below.

http://www.wattpad.com/story/8505298-the-ghost

This Week's Update

The Ghost Part 29 - The final battle begins!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Pitmad

Hello everyone! I'm a bit late with this blog post due to technical difficulties that I'm sure no one cares about. It's OK. I made it through the dungeon and killed the ogre that was there. This week I want to briefly talk about Pitmad. A few of my writer friends participated in the event, and some of them got responses. I have been on a roll lately with rewrites on my novel. I'm going to make this short, so I can get back to that.

What is Pitmad?

Pitmad is a pitch party on twitter where authors can pitch their completed manuscripts to agents and publishers using #pitmad. This event is scheduled to happen every 3 to 6 months from what I understand.

The Rules: http://www.brenda-drake.com/pitmad/ 

The Pitch

You only have 140 characters to wow the agents and publishers, so you have to make it count. They want you to limit your tweets to 2 per hour, so you only get 2 variations on the pitch that you can present. Trimming your book down to 140 characters can be challenging to say the least. I thought writing a blurb would difficult, but this seems like a monumental task. Good Luck!

The Aftermath

If you get a favorite from a publisher or agent then it's time to get to work on a query letter. Before that you should check out the publisher or agent to see if you want to work with them. They should also be tweeting what their submission guidelines are to make it easier. Just because they liked your pitch and you sent a query doesn't mean they are going to accept your book.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Noah

Rated PG-13 / 2 hr 18 min / Adventure - Drama

What is it about?

This movie is a retelling of the biblical story of Noah. The decendants of Cain had corrupted the world to the point where God felt obligated to intervene. God gave a vision to Noah of the disaster to come. Noah was tasked with building an ark and saving all of the innocent animals. His children and wife help him with building the ark. The animals gather and board the ship. The rain comes shortly after that as the legions of Cain's decendants try to board at the last minute. They are all washed away by the flood.

You will like it if...

You like epic stories based on the Bible. It's hard to take on a biblical story that is so well known without alienating a few people. Some may not like the interpretation. Some may not like it simply because it's a religious movie. The movie itself has fantastic visuals. I'm a bit conflicted when I think about Russell Crowe's performance. In spots he owns the torment his character is in, and in others he is about as emotional as a block of wood. Jennifer Connelly is fantastic as she is in just about every movie she is in. She really outshines the rest of the cast even if it was only a supporting role. Considering the length of the movie and the straightforward subject matter, you would expect it to be a bit boring in spots. I didn't notice any lulls in the movie until near the end when all I wanted to do was go empty my bladder. They explore every aspect of the story and show the tortured nature of Noah. I enjoyed the movie quite a bit more than I thought I would. It is an epic story that will keep those interested in it entertained from start to finish.

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Ghost Part 28

The Ghost is a serial story that I update every week on Wattpad. It follows the exploits of a master thief who is also known as 'The Ghost'. You can read the blurb, or catch it from the beginning using the link below.

http://www.wattpad.com/story/8505298-the-ghost

This Week's Update

The Ghost Part 28 - The Ghost has become an actual ghost.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

A Look at Ebook Subscription Services

Hi! Welcome to my blog! This week I wanted to discuss the various ebook subscription services that have popped up in the past year. I haven't signed up for any of them. If any of you have, or have received royalties from having books available on these services then I would love to hear about it.

From my search on google there appears to be three major players competing for this market. Scribd, Oyster, and Entitle are the services I will discuss here. I'm going to discuss it from the reader's perspective and then from an author's perspective. I have questions about these services that I am going to attempt to answer. Anything I can't find an answer for I will leave it as a question that hopefully one of you may be able to answer.

Oyster 

(https://www.oysterbooks.com) / Price: $9.95 per month / Selection: Over 200,000 ebooks / Unlimited amount of books per month / App available on IOS 7

For Readers

This service compares itself to Netflix as do several of their press releases. It seems like an apt description based off the price point and the unlimited amount of books users can read. They are planning an Android version, but it is currently only available on devices that support IOS 7. This seems to be worth it for readers if they are able to read more than three books a month (based on a $2.99 price point for ebooks). They also offer a free month to try it out. It has the capability to download the ebooks and read them offline for when you don't have internet access. This service is only available in the United States.

For Authors

This service does not deal directly with authors. You can get your self published book on this service only through Smashwords. They also have several deals in place with traditional publishers to have their books available for the service. The author royalty through Smashwords is 60% of the book's retail price whenever someone reads 10 % of the book. For a $2.99 ebook that would be $1.79 per book.

Scribd

(https://www.scribd.com) / Price: $8.99 per month / Selection: Over 300,000 ebooks / Unlimited amount of books per month / App available on Android and IOS 6 or above, Also available through any web browser

For Readers

This service is similar in many ways to Oyster in that it offers a month long trial subscription, and it has the capability to download ebooks for offline reading. There are some differences. It's a bit cheaper than Oyster at almost $1 less per month. This service is available worldwide. It doesn't have as many ebooks available as Oyster, but it does offer millions of other publications. It is worth it if you can read three books per month.

For Authors

Scribd offers to sell your ebook via their store at 80% royalty to the publishers, but I'm not sure if they deal directly with self published authors. They have a form that must be filled out for publishers, so it's possible that they have negotiated seperate deals with traditional publishers. There is user shared content on this site, but they don't offer any royalty to users. Like Oyster, it looks like Smashwords is the only way for Self Published authors to get any royalty. Smashwords authors get a free year subscription. Authors get a 60% royalty through Smashwords if someone reads 30% of the book.

Entitle

(https://www.entitlebooks.com) / Price: $9.99, $14.99, or $19.99 per month / Selection: Over 125,000 ebooks / 2, 3, or 4 books per month / App available on Android, IOS and Kobo.

For Readers

The price for this service is quite a bit higher than the others, but there is one major advantage that this service provides. You get to keep whatever books you have available forever. The other services cut off access once your subscription is expired. The FAQ is underwhelming compared to the other services. It does appear that it is available worldwide, and you do have offline access to the books that are available.

For Authors

I couldn't even find a submission form for this service. It looks like they are closed off to self published authors completely. I couldn't find any royalty information for this either, but within their terms of service the wording says that the reader is given a license to read the ebook. For traditionally published authors your royalty would depend on what kind of contract you signed with your publisher.

My Thoughts

Ebook subscription services have been touted as the future of the business, and each of these have been compared to Netflix. All three have a good amount of funding behind them, and they are fighting over marketshare for this new business. Each service has its own set of publishers that are providing books for content. Some are only providing backlist titles, and a couple of these services advertise that they have the latest new releases available. It doesn't seem like self published authors have access to get their books on these services yet. Getting Smashwords support is a nice start for Oyster and Scribd, but that is just the tip of the iceberg.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Muppets Most Wanted

Rated PG / 1 hr 52 min / Adventure - Comedy - Crime

What is it about? 

After the success of the first movie, what could be next for the Muppets?  The sequel! They decide to go on a world tour to share their glorious talents. Their manager, played by Ricky Gervais, has nefarious plans for their tour. He tricks Kermit into going on a walk where an evil frog named Constantine slaps a mole on Kermit. Kermit now looks just like the wanted posters for Constantine, and is promptly arrested. He gets sent to the Gulag in Siberia. Constantine takes Kermit's place with the Muppets.

You will like it if...

You are a fan of the previous Muppet movies. At the very beginning they tell you that the sequel won't be as good as the original. It's a bit of a chuckle at the time, but they are telling you the truth. This one is a bit more story and a bit less mayhem. Ricky Gervais does a decent job of playing the bad guy, but it seems like he doesn't get a chance to finish his uncomfortable pauses that he likes to use. Tina Fey is fantastic when she's allowed to be, but her part is smaller than it should have been. It's an entertaining flick with a few laughs, but it doesn't rekindle the magic of the last Muppets movie.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Ghost Part 27

The Ghost is a serial story that I update every week on Wattpad. It follows the exploits of a master thief who is also known as 'The Ghost'. You can read the blurb, or catch it from the beginning using the link below.

http://www.wattpad.com/story/8505298-the-ghost

This Week's Update

The Ghost Part 27 - The Ghost runs through the domain of Minos.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Don't feed the Trolls

I wanted to make a this week's blog post to add on to last week's by talking about how self published authors could reduce the cost of printing. In doing my research I found... nothing. I found a few printers that could match the $4.50 per book mark, but none that could beat it. This is for a 300 page paperback book with perfect binding. I'm going to do more research to see if it's cost effective to publish hardback books. Thus far I've only explored paperbacks.

Instead this week I wanted to talk about the negative people who are always trying to tear down things. They try to give bad advice, and any good advice should be ignored because it didn't come from them. Any innovation that empowers the individual over the establishment is bad. They try to drum up controversy as much as possible for their own benefit. If you follow self publishing news then you have come across a few of these people. They are the trolls of the internet.

How do we combat this? It's simple. Don't feed them. It's easier said than done. Here's a list of things that work for me.

1. Don't give them the satisfaction.

They are trying to get a reaction with their incendiary comments. They want you to comment on their website. It's like confronting them on their home turf. They have friends there that will defend them. It will be near impossible to get your message through to these people. They have already made up their mind, and there is very little you can do to change that. Giving them any kind of debate is only a work of frustration.

2. Combat them on your turf.

I'm not a fan of the "look at this idiot" posts, so I am not going to link to the person who inspired this one. One of his blog posts spoke about how self published authors should not be called authors. Another spoke about Hugh Howey giving bad advice that could ruin the entire industry or some other such nonsense. If you must comment on something like that then you should do it on your own turf. Write a blog post, tweet about it, post your comment on your facebook page, talk about it in your Goodreads group, etc... If the troll migrates to your blog, you have control over the venue.
You can delete any comments that are offensive, or disable them entirely.

3. Realize the trolls don't need to make sense.

If you get into an argument with a troll, they might make up stuff or falsify information to try to win an argument. Trolls don't filter what comes out of their mouths or type, so they could claim that you are being mind controlled by aliens. (I'm pretty sure that I am not!) Don't try to argue fact vs. fiction. Fiction will win more often than not if it sounds factual. It's not worth your time or energy.

4. Realize that you don't need much evidence.

There's no need to keep having encounters with the same troll over and over. Who has time for that? Don't put yourself through the torture. Find something better to occupy your time. Once you have confirmed that they are an idiot, how much more evidence do you need?  If they have three posts that are based on inaccurate information, poorly thought out conclusions, and filled with errors then why should you expect anything different in their next post? You don't have to continue to read that drivel. 

Final thought

Every person that you disagree with is not a troll. If they post intelligent arguments and can engage in a healthy debate on the topic then they aren't the trolls I am talking about. Trolls live to destroy. They ignore your argument even with the evidence staring them in the face. They are crying for attention, and think it's funny to frustrate all who dare disagree with them. Please don't feed them.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Need for Speed

Rated PG-13 / 2 hr 10 min / Action - Crime - Drama

What is it about?

Tobey Marshall is a street racer and owner of a custom car shop. He is struggling to pay the bills and the bankers are circling his garage. Dino Brewster is an old rival who comes to watch him race, and offer a business proposition. The offer is $250,000 to finish building the last Ford Shelby Mustang. He agrees. Some buyers say they will purchase the vehicle on the spot if Tobey and Dino can prove it can go 230 MPH. Tobey shows up early to drive the vehicle and prove the speed of it. Dino becomes angry, and challenges Tobey to a race for Dino's portion of the purchase price of the Shelby car which is $2.75 million. One of Tobey's friends tags along, and Dino invites him to race with them using illegal custom foreign vehicles. Dino clips the friend causing a horrific crash. Dino wins by default as Tobey goes back for his friend. Tobey goes to jail for manslaughter as no one will verify his story, and Dino claims to never have been at the race. Now Tobey is out and he wants revenge.

You will like it if...

You like action movies with good racing scenes. I would compare this to the first two Fast & the Furious movies, but it mostly confines itself to cars. The acting is decent for how young most of the cast looks. The script is good for the most part, but it has some glaring holes. Like why would the friend be invited to race when they have $2.75 million riding on the outcome of it?  The death of the friend is the biggest turning point in the whole movie. They could have come up with a better reason for him to be there. The movie in the end is entertaining even with the flaws, but doesn't quite reach the heights it could have.

Next Week

Divergent or Muppets Most Wanted? Which would you rather I write a review for?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Ghost Part 26

The Ghost is a serial story that I update every week on Wattpad. It follows the exploits of a master thief who is also known as 'The Ghost'. You can read the blurb, or catch it from the beginning using the link below.

http://www.wattpad.com/story/8505298-the-ghost

This Week's Update

The Ghost Part 26 - The Ghost sets her broken legs while trying to contact Malachi.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Cost of Getting Self Published Books in Stores

This week I want to talk about how indie authors can get their books in stores. It's something that I have been interested in, but haven't taken the time to research. I'm going to list all the options, and attempt to figure out which one would be the most cost effective for self published authors. 

For the examples below I'm going to assume a cost of $4.50 per 300 page book through Createspace to print on demand. If you are buying in bulk through a wholesaler, you may be able to get a better deal. I am also going to assume the same royalty per book as the ebook version with a $2.99 price on Amazon. That would be a $2.09 per book royalty at 70% for the ebook version. I'm going to include my equations, so you can adjust them to your liking if you wish to use different values. Let's take a look at our options.

1.) Contact bookstores individually

There are thousands of bookstores across the country, so this could take forever and a day depending on how many bookstores you want to try.  I did find a magic link though.

http://www.barnesandnobleinc.com/for_authors/how_to_work_with_bn/how_to_work_with_bn.html - This is a step by step guide on how to get your book into Barnes & Noble.

When you contact a bookshore they may reject your book for various reasons. Nearly all bookstores require that the books are returnable. Createspace doesn't offer that, but if you buy your own author copies you can send them in yourself. You can also find another press that does accept returns if needed. If your books don't sell, you have to pay for return shipping or pick them up yourself.  Shipping costs could get expensive. I'm going to assume that the stores hold onto the books until they sell out, but many of them have a 60 or 90 day policy. Most of the stores only deal with local indie authors directly. Most of them take the books on consignment, but there are a few that will pay for them up front if you meet their requirements.

I wasn't able to find solid numbers on the split between the author and the bookstore, but one bookstore advertised a 60/40 split (60% for the bookstore, 40% for the author). I'm going to calculate my numbers based on those numbers, but also include numbers for 50/50 and 40/60. Please be aware those percentages may differ quite a bit from store to store. Most of the stores take either 5 or 10 books at a time. So let's figure out how much the cover price would have to be to reach the goal of getting that $2.09 per book royalty. Here's the equation for a 60/40 split with x being the cover price: $2.09 + $4.50 = x * 0.4

x = $16.48 Let's make it a $16.49 just to match pricing standards. That's almost twice what most paperback books would cost if you're doing a 60/40 split. Let's look at the numbers for the other two splits.

For 50/50, x = $13.18
For 40/60, x = $10.98

Now let's calculate profit for the 5 or 10 books they take on, assuming they sell them all. For 10 books it would be $20.90 in profit, and 5 books it would be $10.45. The gross take would include the $4.50 in cost per book (for 10 books $65.90).  That is based off the $2.09 profit point which is the same for each example outlined above. Doesn't seem like it's worth the effort if you price yourself out of the market. That also isn't including shipping costs if those stores are out of town.

2.) Indiereader In-store

Another author I follow on twitter sent out this link: http://indiereader.com/2014/01/iris-first-indie-author-indie-bookstore-distribution-service/

This is a distribution service that gets your book listed in a directory that many bookstores and major retailers use to catalogue books they may order. They also have their own wholesale printer that they offer to set you up with. This listing does not guarantee that a store will carry your book. The website claims that they will act as your publisher and distributor.  The catalogue requires that a review copy is available, a professional review of the book, and a rating on Goodreads. You can get this service for the low low price of $399.  Additional services like getting them to contact bookstores on your behalf can be purchased for extra although they do provide bookstores with what amounts to an order sheet. This certainly cuts down a bit on the work you need to do, but is it worth it or what would make it worth it?  Let's crunch the numbers.

According to their own website a book of 208 pages at $12.95 retail price would get the author a royalty of $2.23, for 280 pages $1.29 royalty, and 480 pages -$1.31 (yes that's a loss). So let's figure out how much it would be for a 300 page book, so we can compare it to the prior examples. The royalty is determined by calculating the wholesale cost minus the print cost. The wholesale cost in their examples is $5.83. The print cost is slightly lower the more pages you print. I am going to use a slightly lower per page cost than the 280 page example. The per page cost I am using is $0.0162. Multiplied by 300 gives us a print cost of $4.86 (this number may be off by a few cents). This gives us a royalty of $0.97.

For the sake of comparison, let's figure out what the cover price would be to reach the $2.09 royalty point in the previous example. This would be obtained by increasing the wholesale price by $1.12. The new wholesale price would then be $6.95. According to their FAQ the wholesale price is the retail price times 45%. If you divide the wholesale price by the same percentage you should get the retail price. So $6.95 divided by 45% gives us $15.44 as the retail price.

To get back to even with this program you would have to sell 191 books at $15.44 or 411 books at $12.95.  If you are a popular author who sells that many off of Createspace per month then this may be worth it if you refuse to deal with a traditional publisher. At first glance this seems like it's a ripoff where they are trying to play at being a traditional publisher while charging the indie authors for the privilege. However it doesn't appear as if they are taking a percentage of the profits, but instead are charging an up front fee for their service.

Conclusion

These examples still have the retail price higher than most paperbacks which sell mainly in the $8-$10 range in the bookstores I have shopped at for years. Many of those books have 500+ pages. Perhaps the $2.09 royalty is a bit unrealistic for indie authors who wish to sell in print at this time. Even if we reduce the amount of royalty self published authors receive, it doesn't appear as if they can quite get the price of their books down to $10 in stores. A standard deal with bookstores gives a 55/45%. To get down to the $10 price point authors would get $0 in royalties using a print on demand service. To get to the $8 price point, authors would lose $0.90 per book sold. Self published authors simply can't compete with similar novels in stores when it comes to price unless they are able to lower the cost of printing. It's not a viable enterprise if you have to use a print on demand service unless you are able to make sales at a higher retail price point.

Also keep in mind that these numbers are for a 300 page paperback novel. The longer the book is, the higher the cost gets. That makes it that much harder to make a profit. If you write a 1200 page epic fantasy novel, then it makes more sense as an indie author to break it up into 4 parts with each selling for around $11 in stores. That means you're charging $44 to have a copy of your story on paper when you might have the ebook on sale for $4.99. You would also have to sell 4 books to get the same royalty you would get from selling 1 ebook.  Again it makes sense if you are able to sell books at a higher retail price point

A few comments about the Indiereader In-Store are trashing it as being a ripoff while the people who are running this are trying to defend it. For those who don't have the fanbase to support large sales numbers, this does indeed look like a blatant ripoff. However, for those who do, this may become a serious option. There are still issues with the program that need to be figured out. There is also a question as to how successful this program will be in getting books into major retailers like Barnes & Noble. That is the biggest question about the program at this point. The only way it becomes viable is by succeeding in getting indie authors into major retailers. Unfortunately they don't have any kind of business deal in place with retailers, so there is no guarantee. Also they won't do any kind of follow up to help further this unless you pay them more. There is too much risk to assume at this point for a self published author. This program has to prove itself before it can be considered a viable option.

Thank you all for reading this post. If you know of another way to get your books into retail stores then please contact me by facebook, twitter, comment, etc.. 

Friday, March 7, 2014

Allegiant Review

Allegiant (Divergent, #3)Allegiant by Veronica Roth
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

First off I want to say that I loved Divergent. Insurgent was a mixed bag filled with plot holes, errors, and triumphs. Both were highly entertaining even with the issues.

Now let's talk about Allegiant. It's a tale of two books. The first half moves at a terribly slow pace. It doesn't have the same feel of the first two books. There is quite a bit of explanation with very little action. There are a few spots that make no sense at all. Some of the same problems from the second book continue in the third.

The second half of the book is when things pick up. The story breaks pretty bad here though. It had me scratching my head wondering why are they doing what they are doing in spots. For the two main characters to act completely out of character for large portions of the book grates on my nerves. I didn't have as much of a problem with the ending as many of the others who have been frothing at the mouth over it. Possibly because the entire rest of this book made me not care as much.

It almost baffles me that this book has an average rating higher than 4. I think a lot of people are giving it a pass because of the first two books. This book feels rushed. It reads as if the author was forced to push it out before it was ready. If Veronica Roth had taken this through another one or two rewrites/edits it could have been a much more satisfying ending.

View all my reviews

300: Rise of an Empire

Rated R / 1 hr 42 min / Action - Drama - War

What is it about?

Leonidas and his 300 have fallen, but Xerxes and his army are still on the move. He wants to conquer all of Greece, and it's not going to conquer itself. Enter Artemesia who leads Xerxes armies against the remainder of the island's city-states. Themistokles is trying to unite Greece, but the Spartans don't want to fight. They would rather remember the 300 who fell and polish their swords. He tries his best to defend Greece from Artemesia's navy.

You will like it if...

You like decent action movies with subpar scripts. They try to recapture the magic of the first 300 film, but fail miserably. The look of the movie is similar, but the blood spatters don't look quite right. Also in spots the action scenes are filmed in that ultra zoom in so you can't see anything style that is awful and should be eradicated. The naval battles add another interesting aspect to the action.  The script for this one is poorly written. The original 300 comic was written by Frank Miller who has penned some great comic stories. The movie script followed the comic pretty closely. This sequel is based on the comic Xerxes. Never heard of it? That's because Frank Miller still hasn't finished it. No doubt the final product will be better than this movie adaptation of an unfinished product. Eva Green is one of the few bright spots in this movie. She is fantastic here, and it's worth seeing this movie just for her performance. She still can't save it and she gets almost no help from the rest of the cast. If Sullivan Stapleton had been given some more iconic lines similar to what Gerard Butler had then this could have been much better. Unfortunately he was only able to give cookie cutter inspirational speaches just before the battles. They all sounded as if they could have come from any number of other movies. The ending is unbearably silly. I'm not going to give it away, but it makes no sense why the Queen of the Spartans is there or even involved.  This movie attempts to wear the shell of the original 300 movie, but it lacks the swagger and style of the original. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Box of Crayons


Box of Crayons - Detective Ramos is working the late shift when a strange young man walks into the police station. He wants to confess to being a notorious serial killer that they have been working months to catch. The young man only has with him a set of keys, two rings, and a box of crayons. Are these vital clues? evidence of the crimes? or the trinkets of a lunatic? Is he the killer? or some crazy person who thinks he is the killer?

This story is based off the writing prompt "and that was the last time I saw them" for a contest.Thanks to @tifamonster on wattpad for running the contest.

First place winner! YAY \o/

One reaction to the story: "Wow! This story had me hooked from the very beginning. I loved it so much and had to read it at once - no breaks! I also loved the symbolism behind the crayons and the ending. Awesome."

The Ghost Part 25

The Ghost is a serial story that I update every week on Wattpad. It follows the exploits of a master thief who is also known as 'The Ghost'. You can read the blurb, or catch it from the beginning using the link below.

http://www.wattpad.com/story/8505298-the-ghost

This Week's Update

The Ghost Part 25 - The Ghost attempts to scale the wall, and is attacked. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Disinformation Age

Hello everyone! I am up late tonight trying to write this blog post because I spent most of the day working on a short story called Box of Crayons. The deadline for the contest was Saturday at 11 PM. That is mostly what I worked on this week, so I didn't get much done on my upcoming novel.

This week I wanted to discuss something that is important to me. Something that angers me, and it should anger you as well. It's the spread of disinformation in our society as a whole. The main culprit is the media in the United States. There are also too many lazy people who follow along with whatever they are told rather than doing the research themselves. In this day and age that means making sure your sources are credible and impartial. Some people in countries outside the United States are more informed about what is happening here than most Americans. I am not here to bash any one liberal or conservative media outlet, but Fox News has provided the most blatant examples. They are also the pioneers of many of the techniques other stations use, so I will use examples pointing to these from time to time.

In years past we used to be able to trust our news sources. They had integrity. They would check their sources and then double check them to make sure they weren't lying. They may have put a slightly political slant, but they still reported the facts. Those days are over. Fox is the pioneer of this trend - http://www.projectcensored.org/11-the-media-can-legally-lie  Here's an excerpt: "During their appeal, FOX asserted that there are no written rules against distorting news in the media. They argued that, under the First Amendment, broadcasters have the right to lie or deliberately distort news reports on public airwaves. Fox attorneys did not dispute Akre’s claim that they pressured her to broadcast a false story, they simply maintained that it was their right to do so."

Thanks to this ruling we have so many news sources trying to mislead us all to manipulate people into doing their bidding. Instead of reporting the facts the major news sources of yesteryear editorialize everything. They mix facts with opinions and rumor to confound the masses. Our politicians in the United States have done nothing to curb this trend.

Why? 

Why would our trusted sources of information betray us like that?  The answer is simple. Money. When the news outlets report news, by their code of ethics, it has to be true. Sometimes the truth isn't in the best interests of the owner or friends of the owner of the newspaper or TV station. In those cases they want to create doubt. They have also found that entertainment value trumps the truth in every case. For evidence take a look at the ratings for Fox News. To sell their propaganda all they have to do is make their "news" entertaining. The higher their ratings or subscriptions rise, the more money they make on advertising.

How are we being misled?

There are many techniques they use to mislead us all when it comes to the news. The writer or newscaster will insert their opinions as part of the news, and then go on to explain their opinion. It may sound perfectly reasonable, but they don't give anyone else a chance to show an opposing opinion. At other times they will give that opposing opinion a voice, for about a quarter as much time as they give their own opinion. They always get the last word to refute, try to debunk, or just put their fingers in their ears and say no no no. If the person who is giving the opposing view decides not to put up with their shenanigans, guess what happens?  They are treated with hostility, their microphone cut off, and are never on that show again.

In print they can just edit the story and quotes to manipulate the story to their liking. It's a lot easier to do in print by taking quotes out of context to give people the wrong impression. They also manipulate the title of each story to get readers. A lot of people will only read the title, but the title may imply the opposite of what the story is about.  I see this a lot online. Blogging advice I have seen says to put your talking points in headers as most readers are only going to skim your blog post.

The biggest offense the media commits is in how they present scientific findings that they don't like. They present it as a politiical debate rather than as fact. Politicians show up on news programs to oppose scientific findings. Scientists who are presenting the truth and facts are not used to having to debate facts that are well known in the scientific community. For politicians it is second nature, and they are given more time to discuss their point of view.

4 Ways you can help fix the problem.

1.) Stop trusting disreputable sources.

There are no unbiased sources in the media. How do you figure out which news sources to trust? Google is your friend. I found a link to a website that tries to rank the bias of news organizations. http://www.allsides.com/about-bias Obviously Fox News is biased on the right and the Huffington Post is on the left. The least biased sources would be closer to the center. Here's another article about detecting bias http://rhetorica.net/bias.htm if you want to do the work yourself. I highly recommend doing the work yourself. It is also a good guide to filter what you hear.

2.) Educate yourself on the issues you care about.

Do you care about the politics in Northern Vietnam? Do you care about Climate Change? Do you care about the Affordable Healthcare Act? If the answer is yes then educate yourself on the issue.  Consult multiple sources. Look at both sides of the argument. Question everything. Don't take anyone's word for it. Look up the facts, and form your own opinion.

3.) Share what you know, not what you don't

If you're not an expert on a subject then don't act like you are. If there's a discussion you want to participate in on the latest topic of interest then see #2 on this list. After you have educated yourself, you have weapons in any argument  or conversation in the subject. Knowledge is power my friends. If you can break down the arguments of the people who are listening to the biased ignorance of the right wing or liberal media then you can convince them of the truth. Unless, of course, they are stupid and refuse to believe in silly things like "facts" and "evidence".  You might want to reconsider being friends with them if that's the case.

4.) Don't let others spread ignorance.

I see people do this all the time. They repeat information they hear from other sources. They talk about it with their friends who have similar beliefs. Things get passed around quickly on the internet, but people don't stop to think about it. There are so many hoaxes that get passed around on Facebook that it's rediculous. Even after the hoaxes have been uncovered and there are several comments on it saying so. There are still some people passing around that nonsense. The same thing happens with disinformation. When you see it, do what you can to stop it. Don't just let it go. It's important that people know the truth about issues that are important to you. You have to take a stand and let everyone know it. Some people will still cling to their beliefs no matter what.