Self-publishing News: Indie Writers Are Doing It for Themselves!

25 March 2015

From the Huffington Post UK:

“Reading a book is like re-writing it for yourself.” said Angela Carter, and that used to be about the closest most of us budding writers got to seeing our books in print. But it seems, for indie writers, “the times they are a changing”…

. . . .

Self-publishing has existed in the shadows ever since – a social outcast – and yet Virginia Woolf did it, as did Mark Twain and James Joyce. William Blake did nothing else. The Elements of Style, by the fabulously named William Strunk Jr, has been a key source for all aspiring writers for over 50 years now. It first appeared in print in 1919, written by the Cornell University English academic. It comprised eight “elementary rules of usage”, ten “elementary principles of composition”, “a few matters of form”, a list of forty-nine “words and expressions commonly misused”, and a list of fifty-seven “words often misspelled.” It was published privately in 1919 for in-house use at the university. So we see that the bible for all writers was originally a self-published vanity project.

I am a self-published writer and 2015 is promising to be a good year for us indie writers. The caricature of the self-published writer has tended to be one of a retired male, often embittered and full of life’s disappointments, putting the world to right. However, new research has recently exploded that myth. Alison Baverstock, Associate Professor of Publishing at Kingston University and chair of the 28th March one-day conference “Is everyone now a publisher?” reports in a Guardian article that the profile of the modern self-publisher has now changed somewhat, and that she is now predominately female (65% of self-publishers are women), aged between 41- 60. Half are in full-time employment, 32% have a degree and 44% have a higher degree.

. . . .

So success is relative but, encouragingly, according to Alison Flood in The Guardian, Nielsen Research published in 2013 showed that although self-published books still only account for 5% of the total UK market, year on year growth of the indie sector was 79% up, with 18 million titles worth £59m.

Link to the rest at Huffington Post UK and thanks to  for the tip.

Three Books

24 March 2015

From author David Wake:

At the end of the film The Time Machine, Filby and the Housekeeper realise that three books are missing from the shelf.  They have been taken into the future!

There’s a scheme by Porcupine Books at the next Eastercon for people to give a short talk on a book that has influenced them.  I’m one of the writers due to whiffle on about a book, but not one of the following three.

. . . .

What are [three books that influenced my life], I wonder.

I think they are The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham, Introduction to Pascal (Second Edition) by Jim Welsh and John Elder and Let’s Get Digital by David Gaughran.  It’s rather an odd collection now I write it down.

The Day of the Triffids is also rather a stand-in.  I could have chosen The Chrysalides, also by Wyndham, or any number of others.  I trying to recall that book that got me into Science Fiction, but I’m not sure I remember it or that there even was one.

. . . .

On the other hand, Introduction to Pascal was the manual of a life change.  I went to University to do Civil Engineering – mad idea, what was I thinking – and I realised my enormous mistake about four weeks into the course.  Somewhere I have the very fluid mechanics test that left me high and dry, and pushed me over the edge and into deep water – as it were.  I turned the page over and made notes on the back as I went through the University prospectus to find an alternative course, any alternative course.  So, after Anthropology, Astrology, Astronomy, Biology and Carpentry had all turned me down, Computer Science was next in the alphabet.  They accepted me on a Friday to start the following Monday.  I was four weeks behind, I panicked.

. . . .

During the first workshop on programming, we were given twelve questions and I was hopelessly stuck on Question 6.  You can’t turn a computer round and make notes on the back about Cover Design, Drama, Education or English Language.  (As if I’d do any of those.)  Oh god, I thought, I have just wasted my life.

I turned to one of my brand new colleagues and whispered, “I’m stuck on Question 6 – help!”

“What!” they replied, “but we’re all stuck on Question 2.”

I love programming in Pascal, still do, even though it’s now hidden in an IDE called Lazarus.

Let’s Get Digital by David Gaughran did change my life.

. . . .

We got chatting, I started to give him lifts home and he said I should self-publish.

“Oh, but isn’t that vanity publishing.”

“No, not at all, read this ebook by David Gaughran.”

So I did.  Interesting, I thought.  By page 5, I thought I must get a Kindle one day; by page 10, it was on my Christmas list; by page 15, I’d ordered one and by page 20, I was coding in html.  My conversation from occasional playwright to committed indie publisher was faster than someone with a road map to Damascus asking for a bit of light to read by.

Link to the rest at Write Click and thanks to Andy for the tip.

Here’s a link to David Wake’s books

How to Self-Publish an Audiobook

24 March 2015

From Publishers Weekly:

Audiobooks can open up new markets and revenue streams for self-published authors — but, as with all things indie, you have to put in plenty of time, effort, and money.

“We’re not just standing there reading a book into a mic,” says Jeffrey Kafer, a professional voiceover artist who has recorded audiobooks for the likes of Clive Barker and Maya Banks. “So much else goes into it.”

. . . .

If you’re looking for turnkey, Audiobook Creation Exchangeis certainly one of the more popular platforms. Hosted by Amazon’s Audible, ACX is an online marketplace that connects authors, narrators, and producers.

The first step is at ACX is for indie authors to confirm they own the audio rights to their material. Next, authors need to create a profile describing what they’re looking for in a narrator and upload excerpts from their books. What follows is a casting call of sorts — authors can contact narrators, and narrators can contact authors with sample recordings.

While there are a wide variety of performers available via ACX, it’s best to select a trained actor for the job, says Michele Cobb, president of the Audio Publishers Association. “You want someone with experience, especially on ACX where there are thousands of narrators,” she says. “Look for someone with vocal training who also has a theatrical background.”

Once a narrator is selected, there are two ways to go about striking a deal. Indie authors can offer narrators a set fee per finished hour of recorded audio or a royalty share — a revenue split in which the narrator will get 20% of future sales revenue. Indie authors who choose a royalty share deal on ACX will get 40% of sales revenue.

. . . .

 “Typically, it could take two hours or more of recording time to produce one finished hour of audio — not including the time a narrator spends pre-reading the book and preparing pronunciations,” says Robert Fass, a veteran narrator who has recorded audiobooks for the likes of Random House and Penguin. “It’s a time commitment.”

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

KDP is for Chumps

24 March 2015

From Hugh Howey:

I have a confession to make: I’ve been a chump. When it comes to writing, I’ve been a majorchump.

Webster says that a chump is someone who is foolish or easily deceived. That’s been me as a writer. For 90% of my life as a writer, I’ve been a chump. Time to come clean.

I’ve been thinking about this lately as I work on a few writing projects that will make me little to no money. One is a story that may never get published. The other project will hardly be read. I’ve been devoting a lot of time to both projects.

I’ve been thinking about this as I see more reports on how rare it is for self-published authors to make considerable income. I’ve been mulling it over while watching this thread go wild at KBoards, asking if KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) is chump change for chumps.

I’m here to tell you that KDP is a place for chumps.

I know because I’ve been one. Let me tell you my story:

The year was 1986. Having recently read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Ender’s Game, I decided to write a novel. I was eleven years old. I sat down in front of my father’s Apple IIe computer, and began pecking away. I wrote a story about an oaf who stumbles through a hole in his yard, discovers that the Earth is a spaceship, and begins playing chess with his robotic bedpan. Adams and Card would’ve been very much not-proud of my attempts.

Within weeks, I abandoned that novel.

Then I started another. This time, a rip-off of Tolkien. Elves, dwarves, mages, and warriors.

Abandoned that puppy as well.

For the next 23 years, I read voraciously. I dreamed of writing a novel. This was at the very top of any bucket list I would’ve made during that period, a bucket list that swung wildly from marrying Wonder Woman to spending a year living on the Great Wall of China. Writing a novel was always at the top. Because it was the thing I tried most often to do and failed at most consistently.

I could never write anything worth reading. I would never be good enough. I was wasting my time. It took too much effort, and for what? No one would want to read what I wrote, not even me. I could never make a living as a novelists. Those people had college degrees. They studied literature. They had MFAs. And so writing-a-novel sat on my bucket list right above sailing-around-the-world.

. . . .

In 2009, I was 34 years old. I know how young 34 is, believe me. But I felt like my chance at so many dreams had passed me by. I was living on land, domesticated by the love of my life, with a perfect dog, a tiny home, no debt, and time on my hand. Yes, I was young, but I’d given up on some of my dreams. And so when I sat down to write one day, it was simply to write a first chapter. It wasn’t to write a novel. Just a beginning. The story was called Molly Fyde and the Parsona Rescue.

Instead of a chapter, I wrote 50 pages.

Amber came home from work, and I showed her the printed pages, my hands still shaking from mania and from having stared at a computer screen for ten straight hours. I’d written over 10,000 words since she left the house. I demanded that she read. She humored me. An hour later, she asked for more. She asked what happened next.

I said, “I have no freaking clue.”

For the next six days, I wrote. I may have eaten a little. I may have slept a touch. But mostly, I wrote.

. . . .

We were in Charleston, visiting my mom and sister the day I wrote the last word on the new ending. On a Sunday afternoon, we went to dinner, and I stared at the USB memory stick sitting on the table with us. A novel I wrote was on that USB stick. We drank wine. My mom, sister, and Amber chatted and laughed. I stared numbly at this thing, sitting on the table, a scratch off my bucket list.

The five hour drive back to Boone was one I’ll never forget. I was a different person. Before that moment, I was a bibliophile vagabond. I was a sailor. A dog lover. A life partner. A decent son. A middling brother. A failed writer.

Now I was one less of these things. I felt alive. I knew that this was what I was meant to do: Write.

. . . .

So I googled how to get published. I spent a week learning about query letters. I went to the library and found a thick book of agents and publishers. I queried. I kept writing. I kept sending out copies of that draft to anyone who would read it.

Two small presses expressed interest in my pitch. I sent partial submissions, which led to full submissions, which led to offers. Tiny advances, but I didn’t care. Someone was going to edit my work and pay to have it printed. This was beyond bucket list. This was something else entirely. Another celebratory dinner. A contract signed. A book edited and released.

Any dreams of making a living as a writer were short lived.

. . . .

I liked the writing more than the publishing. I enjoyed creating new worlds and new characters. I enjoyed sharing these stories with friends and family. I really enjoyed creating my own cover art, doing my own pagination and layouts, and contributing to my blog. When I wanted to move some text to the left five pixels, I wanted to do it on my computer, fiddle as much as I wanted in order to change how the story was delivered, not send emails back and forth with someone else, explaining my idea and getting a PDF in return. I just wanted to create stories, in their completed form, the entire book.

So I didn’t sign that contract. I bought the rights to my first novel back. In less time than it took to learn how to query, I learned how to publish my works on my own. Paperbacks and ebooks. It took me a weekend to learn how.

And so I wrote for the love of writing. I got a job in a bookstore. I wrote every morning before work; I wrote over my lunch hour; I wrote at night and on weekends.

I made my stories available. I was one of the early chumps who used KDP to upload my ebooks. I used a print on demand service for my paperbacks. For my birthday, Amber bought me a Kindle. I downloaded the first Molly Fyde book to the device and stared at it. And then, overcome with guilt over the price of the thing, I talked her into returning it.

I wrote and wrote. It was a hobby, in the dearest sense of the word. A passion. Something I would do if monthly fees were required. Something I would gladly pay to do.

. . . .

That was my goal in 2009. Write two novels a year for the next ten years. Twenty novels, and then I’d see where I was.

It is almost six years since I started writing that first novel. I think I’ve written fourteen novels since then. In addition to the novels, I’ve written novellas, short stories, edited three anthologies, helped direct a graphic novel, and wrote a children’s book. All for the love of it. And the biggest cost to me was my time.

Six years spent writing, mostly while working a full-time job. For several novels, I spent nothing on the production. I did my own cover art, my own pagination, my own layouts, my own formatting. Friends and family helped with the editing.

. . . .

But keep in mind that for over 20 years, I routinely gave up on writing. I started novels and abandoned them. Keep that in mind.

It wasn’t until 2009 that I started writing and loving it. A mere six years later, I have put a down payment on a sailboat.

. . . .

Now let’s get back to me being a chump.

But first, a disclaimer. Because the reports on earnings for self-publishers are right: Most people don’t have this level of success. Publishing stories like mine are the exception. Just like lottery winners are the exception.

But that’s a horrible analogy, a lottery. It’s one you see thrown around a lot, but it misses the point. Here’s a better analogy than a lottery: Imagine someone showing up to your house and giving you a fat check because of how many people read and enjoyed your Facebook posts. Or because a lot of people thought your front yard was beautiful. Or because your knitting or piano-playing were widely enjoyed.

Imagine this only happened to a few hundred people over the past five years. But now imagine that thousands of people are getting decent sized checks for their Facebook posts or Twitter feeds or forum contributions or hilarious emails to friends. Imagine that some entity was distributing more money to people like this than the 5 major publishers were distributing to all of their authors, combined.

This is how I look at my situation, and the situation of thousands of other writers. I’d be writing and making my stories available no matter what. Everyone reading this writes and entertains somewhere for free. But in my case and thousands of other cases like mine, KDP, Kobo, Apple, Barnes & Noble, CreateSpace, and ACX insist on paying. And paying more, and more often, than a publisher would. All while working at our pace, in full control, doing what we love.

. . . .

KDP is for chumps. Because it’s one of the best places for chumps to gather and to stop being chumps. KDP is for chumps like restaurants are for the hungry. It’s a magnet for chumps, and as soon as you enter, you stop being one.

Link to the rest at Hugh Howey

Here’s a link to Hugh Howey’s books

Zeitgeist is a lovely word. PG doesn’t speak German, but he is aware of some German words that describe a reality for which there is no good English analog. Zeitgeist is one of those words.

Most of the visitors to The Passive Voice will know whet Zeitgeist means. For those who don’t, here’s one definition: the defining spirit or mood of a particular period of history as shown by the ideas and beliefs of the time.

PG says Hugh Howey has many talents. One of those talents is a lovely ability to tune into and capture the the Zeitgeist of self-publishing. For PG, this post did that.

Bestselling author Howey speaks

23 March 2015

From Florida Today:

Hugh Howey has worked on boats. He’s worked in bookstores. And always, he’s written, with the idea that working hard at his craft for a decade or more would establish his career as a novelist.

Then, a couple of years into self-publishing, he became a Kindle phenomenon with “Wool.” Inspired by reader demand, he expanded his dystopian science-fiction story into a serialized novel that became a New York Times and USA Todaybestseller, selling about 3 million copies in more than 30 languages around the world.

What “Wool” also did was make Howey a publishing celebrity and a de facto spokesman for “indie” or self-publishing, as well as a vocal advocate for Amazon in its recent dispute with publisher Hachette.

“I totally embrace the idea that I’m a champion for Amazon,” he said in a telephone interview. Still, he adds: “There’s a lot that they could do better. Was it Churchill who said that democracy is the worst form of government except for all the other forms? Amazon, in my view as a reader and a writer, is the company doing more for both parties than anyone else in the industry. It’s not even close. There is no one else in the industry that is making more books available at better prices for readers and paying authors more and giving them an equal platform.”

. . . .

Indie authors rushed to Amazon’s defense, Howey suggests, partly because Hachette advocates called for a boycott of Amazon.

“Telling anyone not to shop on Amazon is, in a lot of ways, telling people not to read independent books, because that’s where they have equal access to the market.”

He found it “comical” that “one of the biggest champions of the other side was James Patterson, a guy who doesn’t even write his own books.” Many media were “supporting the McDonald’s model of literature rather than the home cooking. … A lot of the people who should have been on the side of independent literature were on the other side, of mass-produced literature, and I still find that baffling.”

Link to the rest at Florida Today and thanks to Ashe for the tip.

Black Authors and Self-Publishing

18 March 2015

From School Library Journal:

I am a Black feminist writer committed to social justice. I write stories about Black children and teens, but within the children’s literature community I have struggled to find a home or what poet June Jordan calls “living room.” In “Moving Towards Home,” Jordan describes a place “where the talk will take place in my language…where my children will grow without horror…where I can sit without grief.” If “home” represents sanctuary—a safe space where one can speak in one’s authentic voice, feel valued, and able to thrive—then the children’s literature community is not my home. I am—and likely will remain—an outsider.

By industry standards, I suppose I am a failed author. Since I started writing for young readers in 2000, only three of my thirty stories have been published traditionally. I turned to self-publishing as my only recourse, and now face the contempt of those who see self-publishing as a mere exercise in vanity.

. . . .

Last year a white Facebook “friend” suggested that my decision to self-publish was analogous to Blacks in the civil rights era choosing to dine in their segregated neighborhood instead of integrating Jim Crow lunch counters in the South. In her mind, self-publishing is a cowardly form of surrender; to be truly noble (and, therefore, deserving of publication) I ought to patiently insist upon my right to sit alongside white authors regardless of the hostility, rejection, and disdain I regularly encounter.

. . . .

Publishers Weekly’s 2014 salary survey revealed that only 1 percent of industry professionals self-identify as African American (89 percent self-identify as white). That the homogeneity of the publishing workforce matches the homogeneity of published authors and their books is no coincidence.

Link to the rest at School Library Journal and thanks to Felix for the tip.

Fringe Factor: Small Presses and Self-Publishing

18 March 2015

From School Library Journal:

Beth Revis, author of the New York Times bestselling YA “Across the Universe” series (Penguin), joined a wave of established authors when she decided to self-publish her most recent book, The Body Electric.

“I wrote a book. I loved this book, I felt that it said exactly what I wanted it to say, but it didn’t fit in the current market,” says Revis, who produced The Body Electric in ebook and paperback format. “Twenty years ago—maybe even 10—I would have let it die a quiet death. But with self-publishing and my own career on the rise, I was able to get this book out into the world.”

Revis’s path illustrates an ongoing diversification and disintermediation in the publishing landscape, as more authors take advantage of self-publishing options or sign up with small presses. E-publishing has enabled individuals to easily and inexpensively self-publish ebooks, yielding a vast amount of titles.

Bolstered by technology, self-published writers, novice or seasoned, are carrying on a tradition of DIY self-expression outside of traditional publishing that has also given rise to blogs, fan fiction, and earlier, zines. This movement dovetails with libraries’ embrace of participatory maker culture: In addition to being readers, young library patrons are makers, writers, and doers, flocking to events like National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) hosted by libraries.

. . . .

Quality and content matter most to librarians, not who the publisher is, says Parrott. Though librarians tend to be “publisher agnostic,” small presses must do extra legwork to get noticed.

“Getting into a library if you’re not with a big publisher is a little bit tougher,” says Miral Sattar, CEO and founder of Bibliocrunch, an author services marketplace. “If you’re with a small press, you have to submit your book similar to the way a [self-published] author would”—with additional effort and, often, a personal approach.

Link to the rest at School Library Journal and thanks to Bailey for the tip.

How 7 Literary Authors Collaborated to Launch a Box Set

18 March 2015

From Jane Friedman:

Earlier this year, I noticed a group of literary authors from ALLi (Alliance of Independent Authors) created a limited edition box set of novels. While collaborative efforts like this have been fairly common among genre fiction authors, this is the first box set I know of that represents a marketing collaboration for full-length literary novels.

. . . .

The authors’ hope is to reach new readers, of course, but also to prove that literary writers are self-publishing, too—and producing work of high literary quality.

. . . .

Jane: I’m always interested in how these collaborations work on a logistical level–so many details! Was there one person who acted as the leader or manager? How were responsibilities divided up?

Joni Rodgers: This project was Jessica Bell’s brainchild and she was handling the major design and execution tasks, so she cracked the whip until we’d crossed that initial swamp of details where a lot of good ideas die. Since then, however, we’ve worked pretty seamlessly as a team. 

This has been a fabulous experience for me—and I think my boxmates would agree. Each member of the group quickly stepped up with ideas based on her unique area of expertise, and those ideas were received with candid, respectful feedback. It’s always been about what we can do, not what we wish we could afford, so individual tasks fell organically to whomever was best suited.

Roz Morris: To start with, we discussed everything in lengthy emails, which created an utter headache for anyone who was offline for more than a few hours. So we set up a private Facebook group to manage each conversation. Jessica was the first to realize we could argue about some points forever, so she drew up an outline agreement with deadlines and a commitment to publicize as much as was reasonable for our individual platforms and contacts. No one was expected to do anything that would annoy their readership and followers—we’re all wise enough in social media not to compromise our precious relationship with readers and online friends. But we all had genuine ways to promote with integrity.

We created a spreadsheet for marketing efforts, and reported our progress each time we’d approached one of our contacts. That generated momentum in itself as we realized how far we could spread the word.

We made a master to-do list, and seized the roles we were qualified for. Jessica designed a cover for the set. She had four concepts, and we were pretty unanimous on the one we wanted. That decision seemed to give us a real sense of camaraderie; our team colors, if you like.

Link to the rest at Jane Friedman and thanks to Bill for the tip.

Here’s a link to Outside the Box: Women Writing Women

A Dream Fulfilled: Deborah Bladon’s Indie Success

17 March 2015

From Publishers Weekly:

Deborah Bladon remembers sending a proposal for a romance novel to Harlequin Desire many years ago. She eventually received a polite rejection letter, and though she continued writing, she shelved her dream of becoming a professional romance writer—until New Year’s Eve 2013. That night, Bladon made a New Year’s resolution: to self-publish—something that hadn’t been an option previously. And, on February 21, 2014, her first title, Obsessed, went live on Amazon.

A year later, Bladon is a New York Times bestselling author with 21 self-published novellas across six series (Obsessed, Exposed, Pulse, Vain, Ruin, and Gone) with more planned for 2015. She’s made the New York Times e-book bestseller list 14 times and the USA Today list 21 times, as well as being a Kindle Top 100 author in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and the U.K. “I made a promise to myself that I’d put one novella up and it just snowballed from there,” she says.

In its first week of release, Obsessed—about a jewelry designer who falls for a powerful bad boy—sold 107 copies. “I knew that I didn’t know all the people who bought it, so I was ecstatic,” she says. The book soon reached the Top 100 chart on in her native Canada. But the moment she knew “something really shifted” was when her readers started emailing her and posting on Facebook about when the next book in the series would be released. “The first time it happened I remember staring at the message on Facebook. I was in awe that anyone was invested enough in the Obsessed series to want to know what was happening next,” she says. “Then I released the Exposed series and sales soared.”

. . . .

While serialization is nothing new, self-publishing does lend itself to the format—indie authors have control over their publishing schedules and can release installments quickly to keep readers on the hook. For Bladon, once each series of three or four titles is complete, the next step is bundling the novellas and offering them as a single book in both e-book and print formats. Bladon uses Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing and CreateSpace, while tapping Draft2Digital for distribution to iBooks, NOOK, and Kobo.

“I chose to self-publish because the opportunity was there,” says Bladon. “I saw it as the most convenient route for sharing my work with potential readers and it also allowed me to retain complete control over all the aspects that are important to me including my release schedule, covers, etc.”

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

Here’s a link to Deborah Bladon’s books

Local author realizing publishing dream

16 March 2015

From The Aberdeen News:

“My dad passed away in July 2008,” said Marilyn Privratsky, of Aberdeen. “The March before, we sat up until 3 a.m. talking. He was a farmer and wasn’t into this (literary) genre, but said he really believed in what I was doing. When he passed, it was really a mission for me to get this completed.”

Privratsky’s first book, “The Chronicles of Farro,” was published a year ago. It is the first part of a four-part epic fantasy novel.

At the front of the book, the dedication reads, “For Ben,” her father.

. . . .

Privratsky started to get the idea for her novel in 2000. She was inspired by movies she was watching at that time.

“There were some really good fantasy movies out and those were really the inspiration for me to start writing in this genre,” she said.

Privratsky akins her natural writing ability to a child who has an ear for music, but can’t read it. Through her writing, she wants to draw people in, let them escape for awhile.

“I make it so visual. I want to smell the mold on the bread,” Privratsky said, using a metaphor about creating very detailed scenes in her book.

As a child, Privratsky liked authors R.L. Stine, Christopher Pike and Edward Stratemeyer. She liked the hyper-climactic endings. She also journaled as a child and remembers having to change from using a typewriter to writing on paper because the noise caused by typing late at night bothered her mother.

. . . .

“I can’t start working on my book until the house is clean. I make sure my to-do list is done for the day. I will light a candle and start my music to make a creative and inviting atmosphere,” Privratsky said. “I see this silent film going on in my mind, I put music to it so I can put it to words. If it’s an action scene, I will listen to something like the soundtrack from ‘Transformers.’ If it’s a serene scene, I’ll listen to something from Enya.”

. . . .

In order to help with character development, Privratsky took up tae kwon do at the Aberdeen Family YMCA and will be testing for her yellow belt Tuesday. In her story, a character is going through her own defense training.

Link to the rest at The Aberdeen News

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