Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The Cycle Starts Anew...

Wrongful Death came out a week ago today.  However, that doesn't mean it's time to sit on my ass and wait for the big bucks, movie offers, and talk-show invitations to begin to roll in.  Instead, it means it's time to get geared up for my next release.

Homecoming is a bit of a departure from my first three releases.  My first few novels have all dealt heavily with death and the afterlife in some manner, but Homecoming is a science-fiction novel set in the distant future.  Some might wonder why I'm going so far afield, but sci-fi has always been my first love.  In fact, the first novel I ever wrote through to the end was a sci-fi novel(and you'll never see it - looking back, I'm embarrassed at how bad it turned out, despite my thinking that it was absolutely awesome when I first finished it over 18 years ago).  I've been looking for a way to get back into sci-fi, and Homecoming is it.

Set more than 6,000 years from now, it follows the story of humanity's return to Earth after being driven off by a genocidal race that seeks out and destroys technology different from its own.  The journey starts out as an idealistic crusade but turns into a check on everything the survivors thought they knew since their ancestors apparently weren't as innocent as they'd been led to believe.

Written in journal format, it's told from the point of view of a historian traveling with the re-conquest fleet.  The marauders that took Earth are the most obvious challenge, but are they the biggest?  Some humans left behind managed to survive, as did others who escaped and didn't follow their friends to the same world.  There's also another alien race that stands in the way - they were once feared but time has finally given us an edge.  Will we use that edge in arrogance or in the search for justice?


I recognize that science-fiction is usually either terrific or god-awful.  I still have to go back through this book to make sure it meets my vision, but it's time to start putting it all together.  Homecoming is set for release on March 28, 2019.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Figuring Out Amazon

I had a problem last week when Wrongful Death was released - my ebook and paperback weren't searchable through one page.  To begin with, my paperback was out first, but my ebook was being held up.  For the first time ever, Kindle was demanding me to prove I was the author.  I wrote them back and provided what proof I could, and then I waited.  And waited.  Then I waited some more.  They never wrote me back to tell me all was good.  Instead, they just put it up on KDP Select.

Then the books weren't linked.  What I mean is that usually different versions of the same book are linked, so that you can go to the paperback page and do one click on a Kindle link to get to the ebook.  That wasn't happening.  Therefore, I wrote them again, and again I waited.  After no return email saying I was good, my book simply showed up on my page and both versions are now available on one page.  Maybe I'm just too insecure, but I like getting responses so I know someone at least heard me.  For the company to just assume I'd know everything was good is frustrating.

I'm also trying out KDP Select for a bit too.  That means that Kindle is the only ebook platform I can use for Wrongful Death.  That's right - the novel is not available on Nook or Apple iBooks.  This is so that I can be a part of the KDP Reading Fund, whereby authors dip into a big KDP pot for profits based on how much is being sold and looked at.  I say looked at b/c folks can check out my book for 30 days for free, something that unnerves me a little.  After all, I'm trying to make some money here.  However, I've been assured that this will get me into a higher algorithm and will help my sales in the long run.  I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Wrongful Death Release!

Wrongful Death is now available from Amazon!  You can find the print book here, and the ebook here.  If you do check it out, please write me a review.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

A Literary Reminder


I was speaking last week with an old friend of mine named Kevin.  Several years ago, Kevin was a potentially up-and-coming author who’d secured a literary agent for his book Paws On The Ground.  The book is about his time as an MP working with dogs in Afghanistan, and the title is a take off of the military phrase “boots on the ground.”  It’s a way to say that you have to be in the thick of things and physically present to have an impact.

Kevin had gone to a writing conference and an agent was impressed enough to sign him.  That’s when he learned that maybe literary agents aren’t the best route to go if you want to get your message out to the public…

His first agent(I’ll get to why he was the “first” in a second) kept giving him edits and corrections to make.  Don’t get me wrong – if something can be made better, then I’m totally open to someone pointing out what that might be.  What I’m not open to is someone who supposedly works for me – and yes, literary agents work for the writer, not the other way around – insisting that his or her suggestions must be taken.  I’m the writer, and I get to decide what works best for the story.

There was lots of back and forth, and tons of new “suggestions,” but the agent never tried even once to submit Kevin’s books to publishers for sale.  Finally fed up, Kevin fired the guy and turned to a new agent.  This one didn’t offer too much to change, and he sounded like he was enthusiastic about Kevin’s book.  Then…nothing.  The guy just disappeared, as if the Earth had opened up and swallowed him whole.  Kevin hasn’t heard from him in more than two years, and he has basically given up on anything happening with his work.

Those who know me know of my antipathy towards literary agents.  I think, for the most part, that they’re useless.  To start with, they’re supposed to be selling your work and negotiating a contract, but every one I’ve encountered has no background in business or intellectual property law.  Most, in fact, have MFA or English degree and appear to simply want to be writers themselves without running the risk of putting their own work out there.  No, they’d rather criticize actual writers behind the scenes and then take credit for what someone else wrote.

Were I to ever decide to go the traditional route for my work(the offer would have to be really high for me to give up the freedom of indie publishing), I wouldn’t need another literary critic.  I’ve got beta readers and people I respect for critiques.  Since reading taste is subjective, I have to be the final arbiter of whether or not a suggestion makes sense.  What I need instead of another critic is someone familiar with intellectual property law.  What rights do I retain?  When do the rights revert back to me?  Is the publisher insisting on a right-of-first-refusal for my next book?  What will the publisher do from a marketing standpoint and what does that publisher expect me to do?  MFAs and English degrees are great, but they don’t credential someone to determine whether or not a contract offer is to my advantage.  And since the main advantage most of these agents offer is access to a traditional publisher, it’s more in an agent’s interest to get better terms for the publisher than for me so that the agent can stay in the good graces of the publisher.

Most agents rely on the naiveté of new authors to yoke them into their corral.  This had its merits…25 years ago.  However, in the new age of indie publishing, all it takes is some initiative and common business sense to get what an agent could.  If you want a traditional contract, then get an intellectual property attorney for your contract.  You can hire your own cover artist, your own editor, and market your book yourself.  Sure, it may not have a big-time publisher’s name attached, but a lot of successful books don’t have that.  Remember that The Martian and Fifty Shadesof Grey both started off as indie-published.  It wasn’t a literary agent or traditional publisher that made them successful.  They were successful the same way IAm Legend or The Shining were successful – they captured lightning in a bottle and caught a break(luck and timing are the biggest pieces an agent won’t talk about, pretending instead that they can make you the next JK Rowling rather than acknowledge that most books, even those represented by a traditional publisher, don’t earn that kind of money).

If you want the comfort of having a literary agent, go ahead, but know that you’re likely making a mistake.  Most agents I’ve encountered think they run things rather than that they work for their client, just like a lawyer or interior decorator.  If you want to retain your freedom and not worry whether or not someone who has an MFA but has likely never published in their life approves of you, then eschew the agent route and put stock in your own abilities.  After all, you have some control over those.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

You Are Not Special

So many people, when they hear I have a few novels out, ask me what it's like to be rich.  Of course I'm rich, they think, because I've published books, just like Stephen King and JK Rowling.  I have to patiently explain that most writers don't sell many copies, and that it takes a break of some kind to get the kind of notoriety that Rowling and King get.

Unfortunately, lots of writers also have the idea that once they publish something, the world will be their oyster.  Far too many expect that readers will simply find their work and buy millions of copies so that the writer can retire to some Caribbean island.  I hate to break it to those of you who believe this, but that's nowhere close to the truth.

Yes, occasionally you can capture lightning in a bottle, but that's exceptionally rare.  What the vast majority of success takes is lots of hard work and a great deal of luck(although I've discovered that the harder I work, the luckier I seem to get).  You have to market yourself, enter contests, make connection, and so on.  There are literally thousands of books published every single day, and thinking that yours will stand out just because you wrote it and you know it's brilliant is not planning - it's fantasy.

I recently spoke to a fairly successful writer and asked for some advice.  Yes, I have a marketing degree, but the particulars of the writing market are coming slowly.  He gave me some great advice that I plan to implement shortly, and I'm trying to get noticed in a few other ways with folks who have access to greater publicity.  On top of my "day job," that can be exhausting.  However, it's worth it.  Regardless of whether I become uber-successful - which I, of course, still hope to become - I love writing and hearing from those who enjoy my work.  If I didn't love it, it would be too much of a grind.

But you have to love it, and you have to work hard.  Most of us aren't famous, where we can write something and people will gravitate towards it based off of our name(that comes after initial success, when that success becomes self-sustaining).  We may think we're special, and our friends and family may have told us we have great skill, but that will not get us an audience.  So stop sitting around waiting for breaks to come your way just because you feel you deserve them - go out and work so you earn them.  Otherwise...you can always write down your fantasy - maybe it'll make a nice book.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

A Small Setback

So Wrongful Death has suffered a minor setback.  The back cover has a grammatical mistake.  This isn't some misplaced comma, but rather an extra word that will trip up anyone who reads it.  It would be foolish to release a book with such a glaring error in such a visible spot, so I'm going to have to get that fixed before I release it.  Hopefully it will only delay publication by a couple of days.

The frustrating part is that I thought I went over the blurb so thoroughly that I eliminated all of that nonsense.  Just goes to show that no matter how many times we think we've checked something, things still slip through.  Thankfully I caught this one prior to putting it out to the audience(unlike Akeldama, which I had to issue a second edition for due to a dozen minor mistakes, all of them in the text of the novel).

The lesson here is to get an editor to look at all aspects of your book, not just the story on the inside.  I wonder how many more lessons I'll get to learn...

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

More Proof!

The proof for Wrongful Death arrived today!  I'm going through it now and the novel should be available for purchase by August 1st.  Since this one isn't as "thick" as Salvation Day or Akeldama, so the hardcover price will be only $14.95!

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Back From Vacation!

Sorry I've been gone, but Disney World is now in the rearview mirror, and things are chugging along for the release of Wrongful Death.  I'm awaiting the final proof copy(due to arrive this week), and then I'll be ready to publish.  Everything looks good to go for August 1st, so please stay tuned for my latest novel!

Friday, July 6, 2018

Vacation

Sorry for the lack of posting, but I'm on vacation for the next two weeks.  I'll try to put some stuff up, but Disney World doesn't give me much time.  :-)

Upon my return, we'll be gearing up for the release of Wrongful Death!

Monday, July 2, 2018

Erasing History

For those who haven't heard, Laura Ingalls Wilder has apparently committed the horrible sin of being born in a different time and in an era that wasn't sufficiently woke enough.  Her Little House On The Prairie books have been a boon to children for generations, introducing youngsters, mostly girls, to the frontier of the late 1800s.  Millions of children learned to love reading based off of Wilders' books.  She was so impactful that there was even an award for children's literature given by The Association Of Library Services For Children that had her name on it.

Not anymore.

Apparently Wilders had some unflattering stereotypes in a few of her books, and the powers that be thought that this was too much to give an award named after the author for.  A lot of Wilders' work portrayed Native Americans in a bad light.  It obviously couldn't have been that, since told from the viewpoint of settlers, many of that time had a poor view of Native Americans, or that attitudes change from era to era.  Nope, Wilders was now an awful bigot who must be expunged from history.

Folks, this is getting out of hand.  One of the offending passages of pone of the novels reads: "There the wild animals wandered and fed as though they were in a pasture that stretched much farther than a man could see, and there were no people. Only Indians lived there."  It's horrible as she seems to imply that Indians are not people.  However, as anyone familiar with the passage and Wilders' work knows, Wilders herself was horrified when she discovered what people took from the passage and asked her publisher to change the wording to say "settlers" instead of "people," as noted when she said, "You are perfectly right about the fault in Little House on the Prairie and have my permission to make the correction as you suggest. It was a stupid blunder of mine. Of course Indians are people and I did not intend to imply they were not."

Still, that's not good enough for The Association Of Library For Children.  Wilders', a product of a different time, was expunged from history despite the significant impact she had on children reading.  It makes me wonder what other literary giants are next on the erasure list.  Mark Twain appears to be the most obvious given the noted challenges in Huckleberry Finn.  Ernest Hemingway wrote some stuff that many consider to be misogynistic and homophobic.  Even William Shakespeare wrote stuff, such as in The Merchant Of Venice, that can be considered antisemitic stereotypes.

How much history do we want to erase, and what does that say about our own legacies?  Two hundred years from now, what might succeeding generations think about our work?  Will our portrayal of stuff be considered wrongspeak?  Will we be similarly expunged from the record?  We need to get a grip on our being offended, for it's denying some of the best work of history and the authors that provided that literature.  I would hope we are all sufficiently self-aware to know how to separate great literature from some of the attitudes of previous eras.  If we're not, what are we doing reading in the first place?