Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Writing Books is Hard – Duh!

Agatha Cristie - London
After you have been doing this book-writing gig for a few years, you come to many truths:

It is extremely easy to procrastinate
This is especially true if you are a self-publishing author. There are a hundred others things that need doing. There’s blogging, editing, cover design, ebook development, editing again, contacting web sites for marketing, bookkeeping, CreateSpace, IngramSpark, Amazon, Smashwords, BookBub, BookBaby – this list of distractions is very, very long.

Developing stories is difficult
You will live with this stream of connected incidents and actions for months, at some point you just put your head down and say WTF am I doing – but it gets done and is often very good. But still, the process is miraculous.

Getting an agent is impossible
Sure there will always be one out there you can bare your soul to, but really, is it worth all the drama? Probably not. At some point the selling will be on you and only you. No one wants success more than you, (except maybe your mother). An agent can help, but to find one takes longer than writing the book. We all work in our own interests, agents included. Any agents out there reading this, send me an email.

Writing is like drugs – at some point you can’t stop
On an hourly basis most writers would make more per hour as a fry-boy at In-N-Out Burger. Why go through it? Money, fame, a good-looking girlfriend like that Castle guy on TV, mansions like James Patterson—yeh right. At some point you hope you will be able to supplement your social check and provide a reason for the write-offs of those research trips to England and New Orleans. Tom Clancy said writing is the hardest thing you can do – and he died at 67. So yes, writing is like drugs, it can put you away early. But we will still get those hours in.

7,000 word days are a delusion.
The very successful author, Russell Blake, says that he often get in days of 5,000 to 7,000 words. At that pace the blisters and blood on his fingers would make seeing the keys impossible. Not saying he can do it – but there are a lot of 50 word days in between. Days of research, travel, signings, marketing, replacing cartridges in the printer, all the other stuff take up the days between the 7,000 word days. I hope to get in three 1,500 days a week – now that’s a successful week.

Writer’s workshops and conventions are fun and a waste of time
We need to have contacts and associates in this business, but thinking this is where your market is for books – forget it. While the classes are interesting, after the fifth or sixth three-day event, all the classes are the same. It’s the people, that one idea that may get you to the next story, the chance meeting with someone who actually wants to help you. Other than that, chose wisely.

Read your genre
Most successful writers tell you to read, read, read – it’s the best way to understand and learn. And they right, but unless you are an Evelyn Wood Speed Reading graduate (remember them), you will always be fifty books behind. My shelves are stacked with books, my phone has twenty audiobooks ready for the gym, and my iPad is chockablock full of the latest and greatest books of the day (in Nook, Kindle, and iBook formats). So either I read or write – it is damn hard to do both well, so as above, chose wisely. BTW, I figure that Russell Blake, who brags of his writing 20 books in 23 months, is at least 200 books behind the rest of us.

Being a writer impresses people
It sure as hell does. At our various stages of life we hope to do things: run marathons, get married, have children, learn to fly an airplane, take a cruise around the world, get that bucket list down to three items—lots of hopes and goals. But nothing impresses like writing a book, and someday being able to say you’ve written ten or twenty of the things. I had the fortune to meet Anne Perry the wonderful writer of English historical mysteries – she’s written more than 80 books. Put that under your hat (and she has to be at least 1000 books behind). There are writers that even impress writers. But around a table of people at a charity event, when you say you are a writer – well, that next hour makes it all worth it.

More later . . . . . . .  

Thursday, October 2, 2014

CreateSpace and IngramSpark

I am moving forward with an experiment this coming week. I’m going to list my published books at IngramSpark. This is my attempt at overcoming the bookstore battlements that resist the efforts of ordering my books from Amazon/CreateSpace. A wise author and serious friend to the independent publishing industry said that we must get our work into as many places as possible – and that means bookstores. Some may argue that the ebook is the future. It may be but for know it’s good to cover all the bases and that means bookstores as well.

The primary difference between the two, CreateSpace and IngramSpark may be perception and philosophy. Amazon is the evil empire – that is a given. See what they are doing to poor old Hachette and other big name traditional publishers (many who seem to put themselves first over their authors). As such bookstores see Amazon as serious competition (and with their huge chunk of both the ebook and paper book market, they are). So the bookstores simply say, “Nope, can’t order from them. Too difficult – we only deal with reputable distributors.”

Pressure from both independent authors and bookstores is helping to change the marketplace. Ingram, one of the world’s largest book distributors, saw an opportunity. With the help of many leaders in the bookstore business they put together a reasonable program that allows a small publisher to place their books into Ingram’s distribution system using print on demand (POD). And once in Ingram’s system and catalog, the books are available to every bookstore in the country. There is no cost to setup your account, there’s a small title set-up fee (which is returned if initial sales are good), the cost of production and distribution is paid for by the person placing the book order, and compensations to the publisher/author are within the norms of the traditional printing/publishing industry. Everything you need to know is HERE.

When it comes to these two POD distributors, I’m ambivalent. They both do an excellent job considering the product is from a humongous copy machine. The set-up and files (all PDF, cover and text) are under my control, they both quickly send galley proofs for review, and are very easy to work and communicate with. Their pricing is based on book size and page count. They give volume discounts. I am not sure about remainder practices – though I believe that Amazon does not have a system for returning unsold copies.

So this is not only an experiment but a big opportunity. I will keep you posted as to the results.

More Later . . . . . . . . . .

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

It's Update Time

It has been a long time since my last update on the status of my various projects, books, publications, and appearances. So sit back and enjoy—lots to talk about.

I have three books in production right now. Diamonds for Death is set to publish in December as both an e-book and a CreateSpace trade paperback. It will be published exclusively by Amazon through their KDP system for at least the first three months and then longer if sales are good (fingers crossed). Here is the blurb on the book:

Sharon O’Mara’s newest client doesn’t need her help for what he’s done, but rather for what he left behind. When baseball great, Toro Rodriquez, defected he had to leave his wife and child in Cuba. Now a ruthless government agent whose allegiance isn’t to Castro, but only to herself, holds them prisoner.

Since O’Mara’s friend, Kevin Bryan, is off on a security gig in London to prevent the theft of diamonds worth a quarter of billion euros, she turns to old friends and comrade-in-arms to help rescue Toto’s family. Her team’s failure may mean vanishing into a Cuban prison or . . . worse.

O’Mara and Bryan have no idea their client’s paths will not only merge but crash bloodily into each other on the night of baseball’s All-Star Game in San Francisco.

It is a great story in the O’Mara tradition. I’ll let you know when pre-orders are available. If you sign up for my newsletter you will be some of the first to know—see upper right column.

We are also looking for a mid-winter release of the first Detective Tony Alfano thriller, Chicago Swing. It too will be an e-book and CreateSpace trade paperback. Editing is done, InDesign production underway, and e-book is ready to send, and it may be under a pen name, Rex Baird. Here’s the blurb:

Chicago- 1933 For Chicago police detective Tony Alfano’s it was like most mornings - five bombings of businesses throughout the Loop, 200 pounds of missing dynamite, and one dead man in an alley off Washington Street. In the dark speakeasys and nightclubs of Chicago’s underworld, Alfano treads the sharp edge of sanity and delusion, praying that it’s mob vengeance and not just Chicago politics.

For the long awaited World War II spy novel This Face of Evil, you will just have to wait a little longer. Still in editing and final read, much to do. Be patient—you will not be disappointed.
For both forthcoming books there will be contests and prizes, I will let you know as we get closer to final publication dates.

Boucheron, Long Beach, California
In November, I’ll be attending my first Boucheron in Long Beach, Ca. This is like the gathering of the clans (including camp followers and agents), where for three days nothing but murder, suspense, weapons, poisons, and of course, characters of all kinds (writers and their own fictitious characters) are discussed and argued. I have garnered one of the coveted author spots to discuss my books, writing, and whatever else people want to know. There will be door prizes and giftees. I’m on Friday afternoon, at 5:00, November 14, again more on this in later posts.

Works in Progress:
Three manuscripts are in early stages of development. A new Sharon O’Mara that may take her to Istanbul and other exotic locations in Eastern Europe. The next Tony Alfano thriller is jelling—think of our detective meets the scourge of Europe in his own backyard. And the long awaited follow up to the Cherryland Trilogy, Cherry Summer. It’s ten years after Elk River and the Smith’s are caught in 1966 with the Vietnam War, the SDS, race riots, and trying desperately to save one of their own.

Never a dull moment under the key board and finger tips of yours truly, all the books are available through Amazon, just click on the book cover. And thanks.

More Later . . . . . . . .