Writing 2016

Contents:

Review Revue
Right Writer?
Your Love Sought
Free Reads
Statistically Bereft

 

Review Revue                         January 5, 2016

Millions of authors are bemoaning the fact that there is essentially no financial return from published books. They are clamoring for marketing recommendations and avenues to generate sales. Naturally, when there’s fish in the water the predators soon circle nearby to feed on the unwary. With books, it’s vanity publishers, professional publicists, marketing consultants, social media advertising offers, etc.

They all want money up front and NEVER WORK ON COMMISSION, NEVER BASE PAYMENT ON A PERCENTAGE OF THE BOOK SALES THEY PROMISE TO DELIVER. No matter how often experienced writers emphasize this, novices continue to get sucked in by promises of riches and fame.

Hell, I’m no exception. For my first book, I paid $750 for editing and $800 to publish. There’s no begrudging the editing because it taught me a lot about creative writing. The publishing cost was a total waste. I now publish at zero cost by doing my own formatting and cover design, then using CreateSpace for printed books and Kindle for eBooks. I did spend a little on Facebook advertising which returned nothing. I have footed the bill for GoodReads giveaways and received a few reviews as a result.

On a number of occasions, I’ve harped on this in author discussion groups. Yet, the clear impression left is that new authors jump into the sea of published books thinking there must be some useful return on dollars fed the predators. Or more likely, they can’t face the prospect that they are at the mercy of the few readers they generate after a finger-numbing year at the keyboard.

After treading water in this quagmire for five years, I am convinced that’s where we are—at the mercy of readers we are lucky enough to attract. They alone can market our books. How? By writing positive, yet fair, reviews and posting them on Amazon. “Why Amazon?” cry those who resent the gorilla. Well, as an article read yesterday points out, it’s the large discount bookstores like Borders and B&N who have eradicated revenue for authors. Sure, Amazon is large but they pay reasonable royalties, use print-on-demand so there’s no remaindering or pulping of unsold inventory. And their advertising in the form of ratings and reviews reaches a far larger audience.

So, my friends, the challenge is yours. What you say and write about my books can give them life and longevity. Or it can leave them drifting as flotsam in the sea of unread literature.

AmazonReview

 

Right Writer?                     January 12, 2016

Writer

The importance of authors having their manuscripts edited professionally is stressed endlessly in the writing world. Why dare question that? Lack of editing has resulted in a sea of trash that has destroyed the reputation of self-publishing. But the true problem is a lack of publishing discipline. Too many people think they have a novel concept (or concept for a novel) and believe they can thump out a draft with no training in the craft of creative writing, then dump it on the world and claim to be a published author. Perhaps what we need is less editing and more culling.

In the days when only traditional publishing was available, would-be authors submitted manuscripts to agents or publishers. The manuscript would be scanned and if it didn’t measure up to standards, it was rapidly dumped on what is called the “slush pile”, a polite industry term for garbage can. Now that slush pile is available on Amazon.

Aha, you say, that’s why we need editing. In part, I agree. On my first novel, a combination of creative writing classes and professional editing of half the story resulted in a word count that tumbled from 105,000 to 75,000. And a peer review caused the ending to be completely revised. It was the kind of educational experience which is beneficial to any novice author. But thereafter, I think it reasonable to expect an author to produce a polished manuscript on their own if they wish to be considered a professional writer. Admittedly, proof reading by an independent set of competent eyes is highly desirable but I don’t consider that editing.

A professional editor will find grammatical problems, wording difficulties, redundancies, etc. When illustrative examples of these are given and the author is challenged to find the rest lurking in the manuscript, it’s a great learning experience. Even more encompassing edits, such as “delete this chapter”, “show don’t tell” or “who is this character?” and many others, can be educational.

But what if the manuscript comes back a bloody mess of red suggested phrases and rewritten paragraphs? Where does editing end and ghostwriting begin? When does the writing style, the voice, become that of the editor rather than the author? And when that happens, does the author still deserve to be published? Frankly, I think not.
Of course, print-on-demand and eBook publishers will counter by saying leave it up to the reader to decide the worth of a story. Unfortunately, the reading public doesn’t want that job. They want to invest in books that someone else has endorsed, which leaves one wondering how many great books remain buried alive.

 

Your Love Sought                    January 24,2016

TLScover-Kindle

To a precious few of you, this will look familiar. Only one word has changed. “Found” became “Sought”. Actually many words changed. The rest are hidden inside. But don’t be fooled, the story is the same, just refined and republished. Why?

Two Loves Found started out well, grinding out two to four sales a day on Kindle and gradually increasing. Then suddenly, sales stopped dead. A one-line review panned the book, called it a first draft with stiff characters and referred to it as a horrible mess. Another reviewer said she dropped it after three chapters. With five star ratings and positive feedback/reviews previously, I was somewhat shell-shocked.

In an attempt to rationalize what happened, I vacillated between wondering if someone at Amazon planted them in retribution for taking my books out of Kindle Select and questioning if the reviewers were offended by some of the content. Admittedly, the story started slowly. It didn’t really get rolling (perhaps a poor choice of words in view of Delbert’s wheelchair) until Chapter Four. And perhaps the thought of paraplegic sex described in Chapter One bothered some even though it was realistic and viable.

I have periodically ranted about the injustice of this for nearly a year. Then, a while back a contributor to an online discussion group named william allen (he never uses capitals) made me rethink everything. He pointed out that even one of the favorable reviewers commented that she almost put the book down and in effect he suggested that maybe the book got what it deserved. He has a penchant for speaking bluntly and stripping away the fluff and delusions that permeate the author world.

Rereading the novel from the distance of a year proved an eye-opener. Hell yes, it started slowly. And there were an embarrassing number of errors. The worst appeared in the form of a “your” which should have been “you’re”. I hate that kind of mistake! Oddly enough, most of the problems were in the earlier chapters. The last half was quite clean and the book moved nicely to its climax. It was still a good story. It needed a second chance, a clean slate.

You are perhaps thinking this revelation is a bit hypocritical in view of my last post. The novel apparently suffered from a lack of professional editing. I plead guilty. However, the new book gets rid of what might be an offensive sex scene, still bridges the gap with Two Loves Lost but moves more quickly into the main story, and refines wording throughout. The new title is more in keeping with the story and it gives the book a fresh start. So if you persevered and enjoyed Two Loves Found, don’t spend money on Two Loves Sought. But if not and you seek an opportunity to live in the 1960’s world of drug-running in Pacific Northwest waters, “Sought” is what you seek.

 

Free Reads                                                March 10, 2016

For all you eBook readers, “Ickee Mushta” will be available free of charge March 16th to 20th. Written last year, it in a way predicted the political situation America finds itself in today. I say “in a way” since reality has turned out even grimmer than forecast.

Fortunately, political insight is not the only drawing card for this book. It’s a story of contrasts between extrovert and introvert, musical prodigy and a deaf person as well as liberal versus conservative. You watch the hero and heroine grow from children to adults with all their strengths and weaknesses. And along the way, it was impossible not to develop a commentary on the communication direction now taken by new generations.

If this interests, you log onto Amazon (regardless of how you feel about them) and download a copy during the window above. And if you enjoy Ickee, please leave a rating or, dare I hope, a review on Amazon. Thank you.

Ickycover-Smash

If you belong to GoodReads, there’s a giveaway contest running from March 14th to 22nd. Six signed print copies of “Two Loves Sought” will be given away. Because of shipping cost, I regret that the contest is limited to American addresses. This is particularly regrettable since the story takes place chiefly on Salt Spring and Vancouver Island waters. More book sales would make for greater generosity – guess that’s a catch 22 situation.

TLScover-Kindle

 

Statistically Bereft                                       March 26, 2016

Too often in the past I have proclaimed—no, protested—that I write for the pleasure and satisfaction of creating a story rather than any reward generated by others. Actually that’s nothing more than an attempt to pretend the half-full glass is filled to the brim. While I can say with a more or less straight face the money is unimportant, there is no question that I long for a wider audience.

The warmth of feedback, good or bad, just knowing a book has been read, is an inspiration to continue, to strive for a better novel. Conversely, ignored stories dampen ardor and if not careful, turn one to other pursuits. A pragmatist might say it’s about time.

What brought this on? My last blog announced two giveaway programs. The first made the Kindle version of “Ickee Mushta” free to download during a five-day window ending last Sunday. It was advertised on Facebook and tweeted to over 44,000 recipients. Since it is politically germane, it seemed reasonable to suspect that it would at least draw interest from Democrats. One person downloaded it! One person!

If I were paranoiac (sometimes think I am), I would suspect Amazon of blocking it. Yet, they advertised it as free on their website rightly enough. A close friend blames the book’s lack of success on Ickee’s name. It leaves one with the impression he is a foreigner rather than American. (There is a purpose for that in the story.) Perhaps what it needs is a different title, such as “Republican Tyranny” or “The Republican Reich”. Too late now but I’ve learned the lesson that title and cover deserve very careful attention.

The second giveaway consisted of print copies of “Two Loves Sought” awarded to six of 317 GoodReads contestants. The books are in the mail. Time will tell if they result in sought after book reviews. And apparently that is the best that one can expect. Currently, 735 GoodReads members have marked my books “To Read”. Other than the giveaways, it appears that only two have actually gone on to read them. They should be marked “To Read If Free”. Still, when the free copies generate reviews, they are well worthwhile.

Excuse me for venting. There was a time when I claimed I was like a lost lamb bleating in the wilderness. Now a more appropriate analogy might be to suggest my novels are adrift in a sea of books, most of which are creating a much deserved stench. In spite of statistical evidence to the contrary, I remain confident that mine provide a whiff of fresh air in that fetid ocean. Please don’t burst my bubble.

 

 

 

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