Posts tagged ‘Publishing’

The year past and ahead.

It is almost a requirement of this time of year to reflect on the year past and the year to come – so – uncharacteristically I am going to follow convention and do that. This was my writer’s year:

The big interest in the past year centered on an experiment on the value of social media for book sales. I have long been skeptical about the value of social media to an author in generating sales. Facebook and Twitter in particular, are awash with posts that essentially say: “LOOK AT ME and BUY MY BOOK.” I have never bought a book as result of such posts and I know of no other person who does. In the main such posts get ignored, blocked or sent straight to the trash bin. Advice books for writers are full of how to use social media and how essential it is to any Indi author. You see this advice mostly in books being sold on-line about how to sell on-line. It’s very incestuous and mostly absolute bullshit! Indi authors rarely sell serious numbers of books and are an easy target for people telling them how to get thousands of sales.

Books sell the same way they always have – by word of mouth recommendation reader to reader. That is especially true for writers like me who are not writing about shades of grey, vampires or what ever the current hot formula or genre is. If one writes literary fiction and presents ones work with good covers, properly edited and designed; then reader’s recommendation is the only thing that sells that work.

I decided to put this idea to the test last year. I withdrew from almost all social media activity. No tweets, only a simple announcement of a new book on FB, my website and blog and that is all. I stopped blogging every month and did not participate on Goodreads or any other forum.

Result? My sales are better for 2015 than 2014 when I was doing the social media thang.

The lesson for writers is this: Don’t buy into all the hype. Make the best book you can and keep writing. You must keep new titles coming and they must all be to the highest standard possible. Then hope readers like your efforts enough to buy the next and tell their friends. Unless you are Random House and can throw huge sums at a launch, then huge sales are not going to come your way. Accept that and your life, as a writer, will be better, more satisfying, and more productive. If you are hoping for fame and huge sales as an Indi you are playing a lottery with very unfavorable odds of winning. Write because you must.

A slowly growing base of readers who appreciate my efforts; the smile I get every time I get a sale announcement from Amazon or Smashwords, and the steady trickle of money into my account is my reward. A good and genuine review is sure to generate a broad smile.

Last year I published the first two novels of the Butterfly Effect Trilogy. Bonny The Butterfly Effect and Lauren The Butterfly Effect. I also wrote the next novella in the Rachel series: Rachel’s War. I refined and republished The Prairie Companions and tidied up all my other titles. It was a very productive year thanks to the time freed up by my largely abandoning social media activity.

 

The next novel.

The next novel.

What of 2016?  I have begun the next in the trilogy called: Chepi The Butterfly Effect. The cover of this is used here. The photo on which my cover artwork is based has been a puzzle.

It is well known image but I cannot find the person who might own the copyright to this photo. If you know please let me know. I may not be able to use this for the cover if I can’t find the copyright status of the image it’s based on. I have changed the image a good deal in this cover artwork but still I am reluctant to use images in this way with out the owner’s permission.

Apart from Chepi, I plan one other novella and perhaps I will finish: Beloved Warrior. This is about my family during the first war. It has been set aside three times and is proving to be a difficult subject, too personal perhaps?

More likely I will rewrite the novella called: Leotie Flower of the Prairie and turn it into the full sized experimental novel it was always intended to be.

Have a happy and productive new year.

(All three of you who read this?)

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The big book.

My great literary hero was John Steinbeck and I’ve recently been re-reading the 1994 biography by Jay Parini. (ISBN 0434 574929)

I was struck once again by how Steinbeck’s early family experience influenced him all his life. He was deeply insecure about his work. There is much talk in his letters to friends about writing “the great American novel” or “the big book.”

That started me thinking about the idea of “the great novel”. The big book, the literary striving blood, sweat and tears, heart and soul BIG BOOK!

In this age of mass indi publishing, that idea has become outmoded. Read more…

Shakespeare on Indie.

To be read, or not to be read, that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous obscurity,
Or to take arms against a sea of gatekeepers
And by opposing end them. To dream—to hope,
No more; and by a rejection slip to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That writers are heir to: ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To self publish, to print;
To be in print, perchance to be read—ay, there’s the rub:
For in that print of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this old publishers way,
Must give us pause—there’s the respect
That makes calamity for those who wait acceptance.
For who would bear the whips and scorns of agents,
Th’oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of dispriz’d rejection, the publishers delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of th’unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a Kindle Fire? Who would rejection slips hundreds bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary keyboard,
But that the dread of something after failure,
The undiscovere’d country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather print our self and sell
Than fly to booksellers that we know not of?
Thus rejection does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of endless waiting
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pitch and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry
And lose the name of Random House for the devil that is Amazon.

This was done for a friend who was worrying about publising wars that so many are fretting about now.

With only mild appologies to Will.

I’ve been thinking.

I've been dee in thunk!

I’ve been deep in thunk!

I’ve been thinking.

I have written and published twelve novels over a period of five years. That has been done with the help of my beloved partner Brigitte. Without her support and the freedom and encouragement she provided, I’d never have been able to do this. My editor Miriam also played a role, a role more important than I think she knows.  I am proud of the work. I think I found a true and original voice and used it to tell stories about what is good in humans and the cultures they make. I found stories that speak of what love and integrity can achieve. Stories about characters that are real and inspiring and a little alternative and exotic.  Read more…

MACBETH: on Genre writing.

I’ve been at it again, messing with the bard.

Genre writing sweeps all before it, Vampires and badly written soft-porn passing as fifty shades of erotica, bandwagons stuffed with cliché and publishers and gatekeepers undignified grasping at fast passing fashion. Literary Fiction spurned, boring! Too thought provoking. God forbid a reader might be provoked to thought or have their spirit stirred by the poetry of shared human experience.

Escape through empathy is not good enough, only fantasy and vampire lovers, cheap sexual thrills, gore violence and above all only fashionable in-thing-celebrity will get the gatekeepers slavering.

Bitter, me? No, just a little saddened by the state of the commerce driven world and so:  Read more…

To Amazon or not to Amazon?

 

To be read, or not to be read, that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous obscurity,
Or to take arms against a sea of gatekeepers
And by opposing end them. To dream—to hope,
No more; and by a rejection slip to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That writers are heir to: ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To self publish, to print;
To be in print, perchance to be read—ay, there’s the rub:
For in that print of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this old publishers way,
Must give us pause—there’s the respect
That makes calamity for those who wait acceptance.
For who would bear the whips and scorns of agents,
Th’oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of dispriz’d rejection, the publishers delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of th’unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a Kindle Fire? Who would rejection slips hundreds bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary keyboard,
But that the dread of something after failure,
The undiscovere’d country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather print our self and sell
Than fly to booksellers that we know not of?
Thus rejection does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of endless waiting
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pitch and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry
And lose the name of Random House for the devil that is Amazon.

This was done for a friend who was worrying about publising wars that so many are fretting about now.

With only mild appologies to Will.

Non-conformity and rebellion vs. literary conservatism and establishment values.

A call to arms.

A call to arms.

There is a tradition in literature that has been deeply under threat until the advent of Indi publishing.  The tradition of novels that question the wisdom and normality of the day. Examples of these being: Steinbeck’s, Grapes of Wrath or any Joyce or Pushkin or Dostoevsky. That tradition of the subversion and undermining of the tribal, religious, political or social establishment in the novel; was deeply undermined by the contraction of the publishing industry in the past twenty or so years. The grip of a few international publishing and sales conglomerates was becoming overwhelmingly conservative and restrictive. Celebrity worship, meaningless pap, magic and fantasy dominated their output.

Non-mainstream or non-conformist work had little chance of making it past the all powerful gatekeepers. There were exceptions and those tokens are held to be examples of freedom but that was an illusion. Truly radical or overtly critical work was always marginalised at best and buried in the slush pile at worst. We writers conspired in this movement towards conformity by submitting to the idea that rejection by the gatekeepers was our shame. “Not good enough to be published by the establishment means not good enough.”

‘Conform, don’t speak unpalatable truths, don’t bite the hand that feeds you, don’t upset the apple-cart.’

Suddenly we are free of the gatekeepers, we can publish our work and bite as hard as we wish, well with certain reservations. We must still not upset the giant that facilitates this apparent freedom. And that freedom is still more apparent than real.

Having a radical non-conformist novel published means little if it is buried unseen and unread at the bottom of a pile of a million others. Struggling out from under that pile still remains a daunting prospect and one must still confront the powers of conservatism that seeks to keep us buried, marginalized and dismissed as: ‘Indi – worthless – self published – vanity – non-approved pap.’

It is time for we who choose this freedom to properly utilise that opportunity by losing our tendency to feel inadequate and apologetic. Above all we must stop using the derogatory and divisive language of the establishment. We need to do as the gay lib movement did with words like ‘fag’ and ‘queer’. We must take words like ‘self-published’ or ‘Indi’ or even ‘vanity’ and inject them with pride and remove all stigma from the idea of independence in publishing.

I call for an ‘Indi pride’ parade here on the world wide web.

Let’s not fall into the trap of petty tribal squabbles and arguments about which form of self publishing is worthy and which not. Yes some of this new found freedom will be abused by trash and ill conceived and poorly executed rubbish but that is the price we must pay for this freedom. We must rejoice in the opportunity, feed the giant and support each other in our efforts to surface in the fast and vast pool of detritus it produces.

Celebrate the possibilities and offer a helping hand to others who swim in this new sea.

A revolution is here if only we can make it.