NOT SETTING THE PUBLISHING WORLD ON FIRE

Almost every month, Amazon informs sends me a bit of money from sales of my book. The amounts are enough to get a cup of coffee and a doughnut at Dunkin Donuts, but not enough for a cappuccino or anything at Starbucks. I’m always tickled that someone bought a copy. I’ve set the Kindle price as low as they will allow, so I don’t exactly make a killing on royalties.

The_12-Foot_Teepee_Cover_for_Kindle

I wrote the book in 2007. Publication date is officially September 27, 2007, though it really didn’t “hit the market” so to speak until 2008. I did lots of “author things.” Television interviews on local cable, radio interviews. I got a bit of nice local press.

I arranged book signings. They were fun, though turnouts were small. I got to meet other local authors, some of whom have become friends.

I sold a few hundred books. Not bad for a self-published book. For a while, I got royalty checks that were large enough for a cheap dinner for two at a local fast food joint. I briefly thought Teepee would be a minor straight to DVD movie, but financing failed. So much for Hollywood.

It’s difficult to successfully market a self-published book. Like all new authors, I had dreams of glory. I dreamed of Hollywood and best-seller lists. I was deluded.

A highly personal book largely based on life experiences will sell only if written by a celebrity. Even celebrity tell-all books don’t do well, moving from display in the front of the store to the discount bargain bin faster than you can say “I didn’t know he/she wrote a book …”

Recently, I got to read a lot of books deemed “the best fiction of the year.” I have no idea on what basis these books were determined to be the best of anything. The overall quality is pathetic. Most of them are uninspired, derivative, and trite. Boring at best, unreadable at worst. Many will cause you gastric distress and lead to a burning need to read something involving wizards, vampires, and time travel.

Every now and again I bump into a winner … an author who can really tell a story, and a story that transports me to another place. I live for those moments. It’s too rare.

Which brings me back to my book. It is not deathless literature, but it’s better than most of the books designated as the best of the year’s fiction. My book has characters, humor, and the semblance of a plot as well as a good-faith attempt by the author (me) to make a point. At the very least, you will learn how to build a tepee (perhaps how not to build a teepee). You might not love my book, but I’m pretty sure it won’t bore you into a stupor.

These days, books that sell are mostly cops and courtrooms, whodunits, thrillers, terrorists, fantasy, and the supernatural. Is the real world too dull to write about? Are we that boring?

If you are interested, you can buy the paperback here and the Kindle edition here. If you belong to Amazon Prime, you can borrow it for free.

I worry about the state of publishing. I am sure more good writers can’t find a publisher than can.

Why not publish more books? E-books cost nothing but storage space . Books like mine, published as “print to order”, don’t exist until after they are bought and paid for. It’s risk free and would be good for everyone.

I fear how many authors are ruined by their inability to play the marketing game. Writing a book is easy compared to marketing it. The race by publishers to put out only best-sellers doesn’t work anyhow. Most books flop, just as they always have.

As far as I can tell, most acquisitions editors wouldn’t know a great book if it bit them on the ass. It’s not that I’m so great and couldn’t get a reading, a publisher, or an agent. It’s that what does get published is so dreadful.



Categories: Books, Literature, Publishing, Reviews

Tags: , , , , ,

20 replies

  1. Your book is certainly not boring. I did have a problem with what seemed to me an excessive number of typos, spacing problems, words missing and so on. And, it is not an easy read – something that may put off a lot of readers who maybe aren’t interested in or able to cope with the heavy emotional stuff. I’m glad I read it, glad I got to know you better. 🙂 I bought the ebook btw, I generally can’t afford to buy books anymore.

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    • I am the world’s worst proofreader — my husband is the second worst. So much for typos.
      The idea of doing the book over — the only way to fix what’s wrong with it — was out of the question. There arestuff I’d do differently today, but I’ve moved on and couldn’t go back to it. And I don’t want to. I don’t think any author wants to go back to an earlier book.

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  2. The right dose of courage all wannabe published-authors need!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My sister is going to publish a novel soon. How I wish she read this and understand the rule of the game. Though I will share the link of your post with her but it is hard to make her understand at this point of time when she can only dream of what you mentioned “The Best Seller lists” or may be Bollywood……lolz. I too want to publish my poems but then am scared to find the readers. People are too busy with cheap controversial stuff & paparazzi served on a platter of social media rather than good literature. This Christmas I’ve decided on your book as a Santa gift for myself.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anything is possible … just some things are more probable than others. Marketing books today is painfully difficult. If your sister is still dreaming of her big breakthrough? Why not. She’ll bump down to earth eventually. In the meantime, she can enjoy her dreams. And you never know. There are occasional miracles, though not usually in poetry. And you are right. People aren’t reading “serious literature.” Even I’m not reading it. I used to, though.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Mrs A., I know I’m prejudiced but I also carry the objective dna of a veteran reporter. So, I can say your book is both a good and thoughtful read. It’s food for the soul as well as “entertainment”. I know how hard you labored on this and admire your grit and determination. We read serious books for knowledge and entertainment. We consume other books as if eating a pizza. It’s all good, as they say these days. It’s the same for me in watching films. But we’re rooted in the works of the masters. Books, films, music, etc. It makes a difference.

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    • Your sister may as well enjoy her dreams. Reality will barge in soon enough. We all dream of best-sellers and sometimes, a miracle occurs — but not nearly often enough!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve been reading similar things to your experience and opinion. I guess this is one reason why I’m ok claiming that I’m not a writer. I’d like to improve my writing and have the satisfaction of saying, at least to myself, “Damn, that short story isn’t half bad!” but I have zero illusions about being published. Even if that had been possible had I started eons ago, that ship has long sailed.

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    • There are so few publishers today — and they take on very few new authors. They aren’t interested in anyone who isn’t going to write a lot of books (read: young), or in a popular genre. Hemingway, Wolfe, Faulkner — none of our “great American writers” would get published today. I try not to take it personally. I don’t necessarily succeed, but I try.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Oh dear, I’m self-publishing and am sure to come up against the same issues you have, plus the added difficulty that mine is ‘inspirational poetry’ which is perhaps in its own standalone genre. I will go into the new year with my eyes wide open, and hang onto my day job for now 🙂 Thanks for sharing, will get a copy of your book over the holidays to have a read of it.

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    • You don’t need to buy my book unless you really want to. It’s good to keep expectations low … and you I’m sure know that poetry is a hard sell any time or place. At least in this century. We don’t write the stuff that’s selling. Not me, not you, not most of the people I know who have written books. We’ve written what was in us to write, but it would be a miracle of sorts if we were to actually sell a lot of books. Of course I had fantasies of best sellers … don’t we all? Maybe next life 🙂 Good luck with your book. Let me know when it comes out.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks, I am envisaging a coffee-table style inspirational gift book (there is nothing like this in the bookstores), at least not here in Sydney, but I will do what I can and leave it at that, I have a children’s book written too, so will focus on that as Plan B 🙂 Children’s books might fare better. But then of course, there’s always software coding which is a form of writing, which I may need to rely on yet to pay my bills 🙂 Would like to read your book, will get a copy for the festive season.

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        • Get a copy of Writer’s Guide, whatever version applies to where you are and where you want to submit manuscripts. Make sure it’s the most recent version. It’s and expensive book, but indispensable for a would-be author. See who is publishing what and who is accepting what kind of manuscript and under what conditions. A lot of publishers are NOT accepting manuscripts at all and most who will accept them, ONLY take them from an agent. You probably need an agent if you are going to get seriously considered. Also, the book offers a lot of useful guidelines for both electronic and on paper presentation of your idea/book/manuscript. Marketing a book is a big deal. Some people discover they have a knack for it. I thought I would, but I was wrong. You never know until you give it a whirl! But. Before you do a LOT of writing, do a lot of research and make sure there’s a market for your book. Unless you are driven to write for the sake of art — but in that case, don’t be too upset if no one is interested. It really ISN’T personal. They have very narrow guidelines. You either fit into their guidelines, or not.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Thank you, I will get a copy, have already been told by a bookstore that I would need an agent so that is my plan, most agents in Sydney only accept published books and not manuscripts so am having my book published first via self publishing option, and in the new year (hopefully feb) I will send to any agents that will accept non fiction – many of them only accept fiction. I have been testing the response to my writing on my blog, and have been overwhelmed with the response. Not sure if I’ve mentioned, but I am fairly new at writing so am cutting my teeth so to speak, but my writing does seem to resonate with many people (the U.S. has emerged to be the target market by far). Another option is to do a bit of tweaking and turn it into a Christian book where it may have a targeted market. At the moment I have threads of faith running through it, but not a religious book as such. I will get a copy of the guide thank you, and also for your helpful suggestions! Vonita.

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            • Writing is a gift … you may get better with practice, but then again, sometimes ones best work is ones earliest. You’ve got a good attitude, so go for it!!

              Liked by 1 person

              • I agree, it is a gift and that is how I feel about all my writing when it is written from the place of inspiration. I have to let the words flow and then they have power. When I try and think them up there is no power. I have always written but only privately. It was only when I started sharing some of my writing and started poetry, I learnt the power of it. I have a good attitude because I have nothing to lose (except my publishing costs, design costs and marketing costs which are now adding up but that is all just sweating the small stuff), am fortunare that I have savings to fund what I deem reasonable expenses even if I never sell a book, I still have my day job (though embarking on four months unpaid leave), and will have somerhing of myself I can gift to friends and family. I received the first four pages of the new design (third try with third designer) and it is absolutely amazing (I can say this because it is not my work!) next year it might all happen, or not! I will take the steps I can and then let it be. X

                Liked by 1 person

                • Not to sound flip, but don’t give up your day job. Few of us can earn a living writing. It would be nice if it were otherwise.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • Thank you for this advice, no I won’t (I enjoy being in an office and being with people), the four months leave is to have a break and spend Afterschool time with my children (slipping through my fingers), and doing a mobile development course so I can learn how to successfully create mobile apps and upload to the app store (I could self-learn, but community collaboration in a group setting provides a different experience). I’ve worked twenty years in IT, it is in my blood I guess won’t be able to walk away from it that easily! 🙂 but a four month break is just what I need (fortunately my company is kind enough to grant me this request)

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