Almost every month, Amazon sends me a bit of money from the sale of my book. The amounts are occasionally enough to get a cup of coffee and a doughnut at Dunkin Donuts, but not enough for a cappuccino or anything at Starbucks. Nonetheless, 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.

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-level straight-to-DVD movie, but financing failed. So much for Hollywood.

Then I discovered I had cancer and the book didn’t seem nearly as important as it had before.

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, Marilyn Armstrong, Publishing, Reviews

Tags: , , , , , ,

18 replies

  1. I “bought” this on Kindle when I discovered you’d written it. It IS best seller material, IMHO, because you tell the tale with such elan. I still hold with the idea that editors and book sellers these days (the days of publishing companies are waning I think) have the horrible taste that seems to imbue the rest of reality. No class, no point, bad editing and awful content seem to be what is popular. Thank goodness people like yourself still write and make their efforts available.


    • They don’t seem to care whether it’s good or bad material and they don’t provide editors to help. THEN they complain that book sales are down. What a shock! You’d think with no publicity for the good stuff and no editing and anything, everyone would still buy like it was 40 years ago. Can’t imagine what has gone wrong. A lot of the people we know online write GREAT books … and almost no one has a publisher. And as someone who for more than a decade judged book quality until the books were so bad I couldn’t read them, they are making those few authors who really ARE great work harder and harder to pulicize their books. They won’t pay for book launches or PR, or advertising. And they pay authors so little, almost all of them except the handful of “famous ones” get paid so little, they all need a second job to keep going. Talk about American tragedities, so many of the authors never see the light of day. I find it hard to locate a book I actually WANT to read. I have maybe a dozen authors I wait for and some of them have been publishing less and less — and of course, quite of few of them are getting older and simply can’t keep up the pace.

      You know, it isn’t that good books aren’t being written. It’s that publishers just want best-sellers for which they will keep 97% of the money and the author gets pennies. Authoring has never been the world’s most profitable way of maing a living, but now it’s really bad.


  2. I did not know about your book. Will be ordering it.


    • This wasn’t meant as an advertisement. Just a sad summary of what has happened to the book world. Publishing companies used to take chances, give new authors a try and put a little company money behind them so the world would discover them. Now? Can you imagine Steinbeck doing his own PR or for that matter, Hemingway? Or Thomas Wolfe? I think they’d simply give up.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve written many books. They come out, get read by my Patreon supporters and a few fans, and then sink into oblivion. I agree that publishing is an industry that is totally backwards and clueless…with the rise of e-readers they should be flourishing, but they’re not.

    I’m content with having a few people read my books and like them.

    I’ll check out yours!


    • It really IS sad. With e-publishing, yes, you’re right. Publishing should be flourishing. Instead, it’s vanishing and with a few exceptions, this is going to be a bad period for real literature — fiction or non-fiction. It’s sad. We used to have a great publishing business. I worked in it and it really WAS great. I think they only publish electronic games these days. That’s in lieu of literature.


  4. Your book is sitting on my shelf and it was an excellent read, Marilyn – far better than manly books I’m presently reading.


    • It should have been better. And editor would have helped and so would a publisher. But that’s not the point. It’s that many people here online write lovely books … and no one even LOOKS at them. Forget about getting published. You can’t even get anyone to read the manuscript — and if you did, you have to wonder if any of those people would recognize a good book if they found one.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I think the point it that among us, there are some very good authors. Not merely good, but I think possibly, with a little editorial assistance, great. Publishing houses only want “guaranteed best sellers” and to pay as little as possible to the authors. I know a fair number of authors online and the contracts they get offered are pathetic. Publishers seem to think we don’t know the difference between a good and bad book, but we do. They are the ones with a problem.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I read it a few years ago and enjoyed it.


    • It’s not bad. It should have been better and I regret not making one more editorial pass over it, though it truth it needed a new set of eyes. I wasn’t seeing it anymore. NOW I see everything, but when you’ve been living in a book for a long time, you don’t see errors or bad patches that need fixing. After a while, you only see what you meant to say. That’s what publishers used to do. Fix the books before they got printed!

      Liked by 1 person

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