blogging, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op

OPEN COMMENTS WEEK

Use the comments section to talk about anything of interest.
Anything at all.
I’ll lead off with some foolery.

Lies I Tell Alexa

Suffering from the general preconceptions inflicted on the elderly, my Lady and I received, as a Christmas present, an omniscient Alexa. It’s so we can easily call for assistance. If (meaning when) needed. We don’t like it, since Alexa sells everything it hears to advertisers. So, I try to confuse it.

ALEXA…

“Where can we dispose of all these ballot boxes full of Trump votes?”

“Why are the initials “dy” on the lid of my Hewlett Packard laptop?”

“Please log on to HunterBidensFinestHour.com. Keep trying.”

“Is it true the rumble strips on the highway are for blind drivers?”

“Do you hear that? Alexa! What is it!?”

“Is it legal, in Utah, for a Mormon to marry his widow’s sister?”

“How many chickens would it take to kill an elephant?”

“Did President Abraham Lincoln commit suicide with a Colt or a Smith & Wesson?”

“Call the kitty.”

(You get the idea. It’s Open Comments Week.)

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Uncategorized

And Now I’ll Tell You What I Really Think

I don’t know if it works or not, but buying an ad on Facebook is only the beginning. $25 for two thousand exposures? I’m ready to spend $100. For starters. I’ve thrown so much money at my books–for art materials and software, and on books for research–that I’m forced to regard them as an expensive hobby, replacing my former expensive hobby, which was doll collecting.

I’m paying attention to what makes me stop and examine a FB posting. It’s generally a set-up that piques my interest: “The Great American Road Trip Fifty Years Ago” – “Hope and Crosby were best buds on-screen. Off-screen, it was a different story.” I didn’t follow up on either teaser, but I was tempted to. I think the link should take you to a halfway spot where style and attitude are on display, not straight to Amazon.

I have my illustration to (hopefully) snag views. Perry has his niche. He meet-and-greets at fishing events and local flea markets. And it seems to work for him. Now, fishing-related stories are not going to have a wide appeal. You might write them off as ‘not my thing.’ I did, until I read a few of them. His book ‘Katz Creek and Other Stories’ is wonderful. This book will go on my shelf of favorites, to be read again.

Katz Creek is a mini vacation from our cares and woes. Refreshing! Relaxing! It may not be an actual memoir (he says not) but it is a knowledgable glimpse into an era gone by, of carefree summers and lazy hours. Lovely stuff, really lovely. Perry writes beautifully, and his snapshots of the fly-fishing subculture are mesmerizing.

A review on the Classic Fly Rod Forum says: “The prose has that antique feel that you find in Hemingway’s early short stories. These are stories for fishermen who like to remember the days of Heddon Fly Rods, unfished brooks, dense northern environs, and a simpler time and place.”

Perry has his thing and I have mine. Those of you who write Sci-Fi/Fantasy, you folks have it over us. You write in a hugely popular genre. But you also have a ton of competition. Maybe you don’t have it over us after all.

I have trouble with Sci-Fi. Most of the time the mechanics are the focus, rather than the personalities. It’s characterization that charms me, and keep me reading. I dropped Hugh Howey’s Wool less than halfway through. I’m trying to talk myself into finishing it. A third or so in, the magic hasn’t kicked in for me yet. Like it has for multi-thousands of readers, who have made Howey a legend of web-based success, widespread adoration and fat bank account the result.

He and Amanda Hocking both hit the big time with (seemingly) little marketing effort and, maybe, with modest expectations. I’ve read that Hocking hoped for no more than to raise the dough to attend a Star Wars convention in Chicago. That worked out for her grand, didn’t it?

DocTom recently mentioned Michael Hagan, and Bookkus Publishing.

Michael’s book Demiurge started well, the opening chapters were gripping. Demiurge is a tale of an evil entity serially reincarnated down through history, causing chaos, and Demi’s cult, lending a helping hand. A promising construct to many, I’m sure.

I plowed through it, but that sort of thing is really not for me. The paperback is listed on Amazon at just under forty dollars. That might be part of the reason for it not selling. The Kindle version goes for $9.50. That’s a lot of money for a complete unknown. That sum would have been set by the publisher. I’m afraid William had delusions of grandeur.

Ah! “WINNER OF THE PRESTIGIOUS BOOKKUS AWARD.” Well! That makes all the difference in the world! Can it be that a marketing genius hoped the “Prestigious Bookkus Award” might be confused by some with the (genuinely prestigious) Booker Prize? Just a thought.

Bookkus, now defunct, solicited manuscripts to be considered for publishing, William, the owner, paying the tab. William had a good idea – to assemble a reader/writer community to vote on submissions to be published, that would afterward talk the books up to friends and family. He attracted a good number of active participants willing to read and vote on entries (many of whom hoped to get their piece in the horse race). Before Bookkus folded, it had published, I believe, five books. Demiurge was one of them.

Those reader-judges were astonishingly enthusiastic about well-written work–they were all well-written in terms of prose style–that often contained shortcut characterization. I doubt that the word-of-mouth ever kicked in. Beyond that, luck plays a huge role in any success. We all, I believe, are very aware of that.

Except for William. He seemed to think it was going to be easy. We spoke several times via email. He told me his plan was to get the thing going, then to “sit back and wait for the money to roll in.” That may have been a joke. But I wouldn’t count on it.

All we can do is keep on keeping on. To give up after one try, as Michael (apparently) has done, I don’t get that. (If I’m wrong about Mike, feel free to set me straight.)

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Uncategorized

A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words

The afternoon light and the rush of hot air through the opening door sent dust dancing in the dim interior. My eyes adjusted to brick walls painted fresh cream long ago but now stained like old ivory. A lone girl sat at a table; her eyes focused inward. On the wall behind her a sign proclaimed, “Fighters by Day, Lovers by Night, Drunkards by Choice.” I snapped the photo.
– Code Blue and Little Deaths (WiP), GD Deckard

Photography anchors my writing. I took this photo in 1967 and today the picture takes me right back there when writing about those experiences. Yeah, the quoted prose is a bit purple. But that’s because it is out of context and because I changed it to first person for this blog. Life in real time is not so memorable and moments dimmed by time begin to feel third person. Photos clarify those moments.

Recently, I bought a new camera, one I could fit my old lenses to because camera systems are so expensive now. Oh, wait… better ones always were. In the mid-60’s, I had an Alpa 9d that I saved for months to buy. Swiss made …gold wiring in the light meter… I dropped it into the South China Sea, dove in to retrieve it, rinsed it in a freshwater stream, and it performed flawlessly, but that’s another story. The camera’s gone, those days are gone, but the photographs remain. Here’s one such.

Baguio, 1966

“In a portrait, I’m looking for the silence in somebody.”
– Henri Cartier-Bresson

Writing obviously benefits from memorable experiences and photographs obviously aid memory. But beyond the obvious, in that frontier of creativity where writers go to write, photographs can add impressions and feelings that we forgot or maybe didn’t notice at the time.

Anyway, photography is my renewed pastime. I’m using it to take a closer look at the people and the things around me. What about you? Don’t you find yourself doing things when you’re not writing that help you to write?

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book promotion, book sales, marketing, Publisher's Advice

Publishing trends 2022

You may have already come across this list of eight publishing trends singled out by WrittenWordMedia (who amongst other things are behind the widely used Free Booksy and BargainBooksy promotion sites), but if not, here’s what they predict:

  1. Direct sales continue to grow
  2. Indie Authors embrace next-gen tech
  3. BookTok goes mainstream
  4. Book prices will increase
  5. More success for small publishers
  6. Advertising becomes more inclusive
  7. Advertising becomes more expensive and difficult to track
  8. The audiobook market continues to evolve

As an indie author, some of these interest me more than others. The higher cost of advertising, for example, is somewhat discouraging, as this is the year I’ve decided I must take the plunge and give it a try (yes, I know, I’ve been saying that for the past three years, but I’m edging ever closer…).

It’s also worth setting up direct sales from a website, which isn’t complicated to do and costs nothing. I have no illusions about the number of sales that result, but it’s another outlet to add, so why not?

The audiobook market is something I’ve been thinking about for a while. The choice there is between going through a professional narrator, which guarantees a certain quality, but is (in my case prohibitively) expensive, and doing it oneself, which means not just mastering the technical constraints but having both the time and the skills for the reading itself.

BookTok? Hmm… At first glance, not for dinosaurs like me. I’ve just about heard of it but haven’t a clue how it works. The only time I visited TikTok, all I saw was young girls dancing or displaying their make up. But apparently it can get a ‘surreal’ number of views. So figuring that even a dinosaur can (to a limited extent) learn, I’ve signed up for Mark Dawson’s TikTok challenge, which starts at the end of this month. More out of curiosity than with any expectation of results. I’ll let you know how it goes.

And you? What are your plans this year for increasing sales of your books?

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