Category Archives: Books

Any book I’ve read that I want to say something about.

Friday Update #5: Thesauri and How to Grieve

I didn’t get much writing done this week. I’ve been spending time researching marketing, as I’ve been for the last few weeks, and thinking about more ways to better the work I have. I’ve also been spending more time on side projects, including work on a computer game I’ve been building since May 2009, called Entrepreneur: The Beginning.

Perhaps the biggest of my writing news comes from the books I bought earlier last week, The Rural Setting Thesaurus and The Urban Setting Thesaurus, which arrived at my house last Saturday. They come from the authors of The Emotion Thesaurus, The Positive Trait Thesaurus, and The Negative Trait Thesaurus, three other books I own, all of which I highly recommend if you need a quick reference on character types, character feelings, and setting details. I won’t get into the specifics in this post—let’s just say all five books are worth the investment—but I do hope to include them in my eventual writers’ books series, which I really need to launch soon. I got a raise at work this week, and the new income may make it possible to upgrade my phone in the near future to one that takes better photos, so I may wait until then to really get going. But we’ll see. I’m still reading through the introductions of each of these thesauri, but I believe they are helpful resources all in all.

The End of an Era

2016 has been a pretty awful year for me so far (and for others I care about), and not much good in general for most people it seems. Last month I lost the last of my grandparents, not an uncommon occurrence for someone who just turned 40 like me, but turning 40 is a big deal in its own right, and having to deal with both catastrophic changes in the same week is a little rough. Well, yesterday I had to say goodbye to another lifelong legend—the Schefflera tree that stood in the backyard of my family’s home and defined it since I was a small child. My grandfather had given it to my mom as a housewarming gift, and it spent the next 38 years growing strong, bringing both shade and character to the backyard. It was the bedside tree of my favorite cat, Sniffy, and companion to “Eagle Base,” the shed that my neighborhood friends and I used to use as “base” during our epic games of hide and seek. It outlasted the orange tree that I grew up climbing, and survived a number of hurricanes.

This week, my mom was told that the tree was causing problems to the drain field, so after some financial considerations (a drain field costs $5000 to replace), which included the cost of replacing the field every ten years, she decided the best course of action for the yard and the neighbors’ yards was to have someone cut it down. So, that happened in the last 24 hours.

I don’t usually grieve the loss of a tree. But with my grandfather dead, Sniffy dead, and the shed known as “Eagle Base” long since destroyed, I feel like my entire youthful history is getting erased. Yes, there are pictures of all of these people and things. But my memory gets worse every year, and one day there will be no more memories of that tree, or of the ways it had served its home well.

Well, except for this:

So, that’s my update for the week. Not much to speak about in the writing circle, but sometimes it’s best just to know how things are going.

Here’s a picture of the tree for posterity.

schefflera
My Schefflera
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Healthy Obsession…

November 4, 2015:

Okay, so last month I had a more prolific blogging period than usual. Much of that came from my “need” to promote a novel I was pushing out to the public, complete with chapter samples, launch day announcements, and the eventual cave-in to the freebie model that satisfies the growing trend of $.99 books (and pricier titles) getting ignored. That blogging series steamrolled right into the day that cinemaphiles (including myself?) have been waiting for for 30 years (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, you’re either not a cinemaphile, or very sheltered, or grounded in reality–take your pick). And then there’s the seasonal writing push I tend to feel in October, thanks to the perpetual shots of pumpkin that blitz my system.

And all of this prolific writing leads to the inevitable issue that various viewer stats begin to spike, and with it my “need” to drive the numbers higher starts to eat at my brain. What can I write about next? What will draw the masses? Are the masses out there to be drawn? Why are so many people interested in pumpkin macchiato and hoverboards? It becomes a give and take of experimentation, acceptance, and confusion. How does one article generate more readers than all of my other articles combined? Higher numbers lead to more obsessive questions. And thus my search to answer those questions leads me to experiment with even newer ideas and loftier goals. The results often reveal that one shouldn’t mess with a working formula. But I digress.

The same can be said in the world of e-book commerce. My new e-book, The Computer Nerd, has already shot well past the number of downloads that my last two e-books have generated, in spite of their one- and two-month leads over it (Lightstorm and “The Celebration of Johnny’s Yellow Rubber Ducky” respectively). But how? It’s getting ready to catch the total download count of “When Cellphones Go Crazy,” which I released back in July. And the thing has been on the market for just two weeks. Its acceleration up the graph has been relentless (ever since I made it free, but not at all when it came with a price tag), and I keep holding the planned $2.99 price at bay because I’m curious to see if it can catch the top three (“Amusement,” “Eleven Miles from Home,” and the highest downloaded title, “Shell Out,” which is ten days older than “Eleven Miles,” but a good 80 downloads ahead). The idea that it could take my whole author catalog is thrilling. But then it drives me to wonder, Should I make everything I release, ever, free? If so, how quickly can the next e-book rise? The answer to that next question, of course, will hopefully be answered on Black Friday, when I plan to release my next title, a novella called Cards in the Cloak. Given the cover, length, and category, I’m assuming it’ll have a run similar to what Lightstorm experienced. Just a hunch. But again, the question comes back to “Why?” Why did The Computer Nerd have such a lousy first two days (in viewership and sales) then take off like a rocket in spite of its views never topping the dismal first-day views? I have my theories (coming in the post-mortem I’ve been promising for the last two weeks), but the deeper question is, “Can I replicate and improve these with the next one?”*

So, these numbers become a source of obsession for me. But can we call it a healthy obsession? Besides the weirdness that a writer is even attracted to numbers–as a rule, people with degrees in English don’t mix well with anything related to math–I think a “healthy” obsession with these statistics is possible because that means I’m motivated to write something even better than the last thing and to do it soon while the fire is burning, not just in me, but in the readers who have come to find my writing stash.

And that’s really my main drive, to keep the writing coming.

As a reader, you may be wondering what this means to you. To put it simply, it means, don’t ignore what drives you (as long as it’s healthy and won’t cause you or others physical or psychological damage). That might be obvious, but there are still millions of people in the world who aren’t seeking out their dreams, or aren’t putting as much into them as they could, so I guess the message is still important, and if you’re reading this, and you’re not doing anything but dreaming, then stop driving yourself crazy and start doing what matters. Satisfying a dream is psychologically rewarding, even if it keeps you stirring in bed at night wondering if this was really such a great idea. The answer is yes. It’s such a great idea. You may hate the results, but at least you did what you’ve always told yourself you’d do, so you can stop asking all those “what if” questions, at least the starter “what if” questions–the branching “what if” questions, including “What if I had a million people reading my story about penguins in a jungle?,” may not actually stop assaulting your brain. But that’s okay. We’re humans, and we are never satisfied completely.

It also means that pumpkin coffee and hoverboards are popular subjects, way more than e-books and reading.

*To answer the above question, I think the answer is “not necessarily.” Books are like dates. You might have a successful run with one and a lousy run with another (not usually in that order), but you can’t really learn from your triumphs and failures because success comes from the other person’s experience, not yours, which means you have no control over how successful you are. You either hit the mark or you don’t. If you don’t, don’t despair. Just try again. Unlike true insanity, you probably could do the same thing the same way and have better results because the reader (or your new date) may have different needs that are more in line with what you have than the last reader (or your old date). You could also do it differently and have the same results. You just don’t know until you put yourself out there. If you do hit the mark, then congratulations, you’ve got a book that connects to people (or a follow-up date, which is also preferable).

Free for How Long Now?

October 27, 2015:

So, last week I released my latest e-book, The Computer Nerd, with a modest price tag of $.99. I had set this price thinking it was a great idea. Er, no. Not only was I selling poorly on those first two days (how poorly will be covered in another blog sometime in November), with the few “sales” I was making mostly credited to free coupons I had given to a select group of people, but I had gotten a severe reduction in my normal first-day page views compared to other day-one titles (again, specifics coming in November). I was beginning to think my chances at this self-publishing game was drying up before I’d ever hit my stride. Ouch.

So, I said “screw it,” and last Wednesday night (just under 48 hours after release), I decided to make it free…temporarily.

“Sales” over the next few days spiked in a tremendous way. Let’s just say my readership value multiplied by about 2500% from that move. The Computer Nerd, as of this writing, is now ranked #51,299 at Barnes and Noble, which is not impressive to the big picture, but a personal best, and I know it’s due to my making it free…temporarily.

(As a side note, John Grisham’s The Rogue Lawyer, which I hyped in my blog post from October 19th, is ranked at #5. I’d like to think my hyping of his book has led to its impressive rank, though I’m willing to bet his name brand has had some hand in it. At any rate, it’s obvious that book readers everywhere took my advice and chose to read his book over mine, not due to quality of the read but due, again, to the name recognition. Given the average review it’s getting, that might’ve been a bad call.

Just kidding, of course. I’m not delusional. He doesn’t need my promotional help. I’m assuming.)

Anyway, I had planned on tacking the price back onto The Computer Nerd tonight, with an increase from $.99 to $2.99. But, my 2015 goal is to gain readership, not income, so I’m keeping the price free as long as the momentum continues. Once it dries up, then I’ll put the price tag back on.

What does this mean to you, the reader? It means you should snag your copy at any of the available retailers now, while it’s free without a coupon, and then tell everyone you know to get their copies so that the momentum can continue and the price can stay free. So, how long it stays free will depend on popularity. That means its freedom depends on you!

Shallow, maybe. But regardless of what the price may communicate, I care about my books, and I want people to read them because I think they do speak to people in ways that maybe they can relate. So get yours today. And read it, too, while you’re at it. It’s good. Personal opinion, of course, and you’re welcome to tell me differently if you disagree. It’s a detail I’d probably need to know. But I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

The official page has links to the stores that carry it. If you don’t have anything to read it on, you can read it on your computer. Smashwords has an online reader, and Adobe Editions and Kindle both have PC-friendly apps you can download and install to read .EPUBs and .MOBIs respectively. Kobo also has a nice reader available, if you’re interested in purchasing books from them. They actually have my favorite of the reading apps. But stick to what you love.

If you get your copy, please be kind and leave a review, either at the store you bought it from, or at Goodreads. Thanks. And feel free to comment on it here, or on the official page if you want to discuss it.

A Goodreads “Favorites” Review: About a Boy

October 21, 2015

In honor of Back to the Future Day, I wanted to post a couple of “blast from the past” reviews for two of my favorite books, Syrup and About a Boy. Now, these are technically new reviews, so I’m not actually blasting the past here, but I have reviewed both before on my Visual Bookshelf, so I am kind of going back in time. That site’s gone, of course, and with it, all of my old reviews. I doubt I’ll review most of the books featured there twice, but these two books are certainly worth revisiting, so with that, I’d like to share my thoughts.

I’m continuing my “blast from the past” review series, or more accurately, my “favorites” series with a review of my second favorite book of all time, About a Boy by Nick Hornby. Although less revolutionary to me than Syrup, it still speaks to me as a man, as a role model, if I were one, and as a person who appreciates time. It reminds me that anyone can become a better person, and it inspires me to respect anyone and everyone. It, well, it’s a novel, and meant to be enjoyed as one. It doesn’t have to speak to anything.

But it does have to be read. Here’s my review of it on Goodreads:

About a Boy Review

What’s next? It’s a surprise. But when you walk away, don’t you forget about me.

A Goodreads “Favorites” Review: Syrup

October 21, 2015

In honor of Back to the Future Day, I wanted to post a couple of “blast from the past” reviews for two of my favorite books, Syrup and About a Boy. Now, these are technically new reviews, so I’m not actually blasting the past here, but I have reviewed both before on my Visual Bookshelf, so I am kind of going back in time. That site’s gone, of course, and with it, all of my old reviews. I doubt I’ll review most of the books featured there twice, but these two books are certainly worth revisiting, so with that, I’d like to share my thoughts.

I’m beginning with my all-time favorite novel, Syrup by Max Barry. It’s a story I continue to think about to this day, and one that still subliminally influences my own writing. It’s brilliantly conceived, expertly crafted, and hilariously received. If that’s not enough, then consider this: It makes me proud to be a writer.

Read my Goodreads review for it here:

Syrup Review

Come back in an hour to read my review of my second favorite book.

Celebrating Back to the Future Day

October 21, 2015

So, we finally caught up to Marty McFly’s fictional future. Hurray! That means we get to complain about all of the cool things we were promised but never given. It also means that, tomorrow, we will be officially hurtling into the unknown true future, a place of possibility but great uncertainty, a place where technology could overrun humanity or humanity could overrun technology, a place where Marty McFly is no longer our compass but a passenger on the DeLorean ride to the…future, but a place that might, just might, have hoverboards and self-lacing Nikes. Just might.

That’s all assuming Marty McFly doesn’t hang around until the following day–it’s been so long since I’ve seen Back to the Future, Part 2.

At any rate, I wanted to join the bandwagon of celebrating our merging of real life with movie fiction by calling up some pop culture history this week. So, over the course of the next few days, I want to present new reviews, essays, and other fun things to loosely tie into Back to the Future Day and all that it implies.

Come back tonight, starting at 8pm EST, for the official launch of Drinking Cafe Latte at 1pm‘s Back to the Future Day celebration. I’m not offering anything revolutionary here, but I am offering some fun blasts from the past. So, check back often this week, as I’m planning to post something new and loosely relevant each night, and in some cases, like tonight, multiple relevant things.

Here’s the tentative calendar:

Tonight at 8pm: A Goodreads review of my favorite book of all time.

Tonight at 9pm: A Goodreads review of my second favorite book of all time.

Tomorrow at 8pm: A review of my favorite movie of all time (from the year of the first Back to the Future).

Tomorrow at 9pm: An essay about hoverboards.

Friday at 8pm: A celebration of the 80’s best and most infamous hairstyle.

Friday at 9pm: A continuation of the infamous hair celebration, in the form of my infamous poetry.

Saturday and/or Sunday (time uncertain): TBA. Check back here for an update.

Hope you come back to see what’s cookin’.

“The Computer Nerd” Release Day

October 20, 2015

Official Ad Flier for
Official Ad Flier for “The Computer Nerd”

Well, the day is finally here. Have you picked up your copy of The Computer Nerd yet? If not, you can find it at the online retailers presented in the links on its official page. It’s just 99 cents, a bargain for all the punch it packs!

If you get a chance to read it, let me know what you think. If you start a discussion about it somewhere, link me to it. I’m curious to know how the general public receives it.

I’ve posted quite a bit about this story already, so I’ll keep this entry brief. Just wanted to say thanks to all of you reading this who have shown support by picking up your copy. If you like what you’ve read, then feel free to take a look at some of the other things I’ve written, which you can find on the side bar to the right. Most of them are shorter and freer, so they’re a no-risk investment.

In early November, I’ll begin the postmortem report on The Computer Nerd, its sales potential and reality, and how it stacks up against the concerns I posted about yesterday. Why would you want to know about that? Well, if you’re an aspiring author who wants to give indie publishing a try, then you might like a heads up on what the sales reality for what you’re producing could look like. We all need a reality check sometimes. I will also talk more about the books that are next on my release schedule if you’re interested in what’s coming soon.

Thanks for the readership, folks. Start opening up those discussions.

A Note to Potential Reviewers:

If you’d like a free copy of The Computer Nerd to review for your blog or website, feel free to send me a request by e-mail, listed on my contact page, with the subject line “Requesting Book for Review,” or some iteration. In the body, specify that you want a copy of The Computer Nerd for review and send me a link to your blog or website so that I know where to look for it. I’d also appreciate a follow-up e-mail when the review goes live so I can link it here. Please note that all free copies must be redeemed at Smashwords.

And thanks for your interest.

Regarding the Price:

I had intended to keep it priced at $.99, but after giving it some thought, and seeing how little readers seem to be interested in a cheap book (versus a free one?) so far, I think it makes more sense to charge a standard price for a worthwhile book. So, on October 27, 2015, the price will go up to $2.99. I think this is more fitting for its size and quality anyway.

However, for those who read this blog, I’ll keep a $.99 coupon handy for you (which I’ll list on The Computer Nerd‘s book page) until the end of the year.

Again, this wasn’t my original intention, but I think it makes the most sense from a business standpoint, especially now that I can see how little of a sales difference $.99 makes (spoiler alert!).

Changing Gears:

Beginning tomorrow, I’ll be posting some new book reviews and other interesting things in honor of Back to the Future Day, so I hope you’ll come back for the fun.

–Jeremy

“The Computer Nerd” One More Day until Release

October 19, 2015

The Computer Nerd Cover Image
The Computer Nerd Cover Image

So, with tomorrow marking the release of my first attempt at selling a book I’ve written (no longer just the freebies on an ambiguous marketplace where anything and everything shares space), I must admit that the uncertainties of success are mounting. Will it succeed? Will it fail? Will anyone even notice?

The scary thing about putting my work on the Internet for all to see is that some people might actually check it out, and those same people will undoubtedly have an opinion. Whether that opinion is positive or negative can greatly influence the future the work has with the rest of its audience. The more people who praise it (or, realistically, if the first person to comment is one who praises it), the better chance it has at winning respect and additional readers, maybe even fans. If the majority, or even the first to comment, shows a tendency toward dislike, then the question is begged if the story, and its author, has a chance to find a more successful audience elsewhere. It’s a nerve-racking thing to think about.

This doesn’t make me as nervous when I send out freebies, like the six books that are already available (check the right sidebar for those titles). The only risk in reading a free story is that you can’t get those ten seconds back (the ones you invested to find out you’re not a fan of this thing you just downloaded). It’s a bit more of a nail-biter when people actually shell out their hard earned dollars for your work.

I suppose when the traditional publishers take control of a work and the overall feedback is negative, or nonexistent, it has a greater effect on the author since that publisher may be hesitant to take on the next book. In the indie world, the next book stands on its own. Same goes with positive feedback. The more that people like a book, the better chance it has to gain a momentum in respect, in criticism, and ultimately in sales, and the more the traditional publisher will like the author. On that same note, the indie author who puts out his second book is unlikely to see an effect carry over from his first, as his next book cleans the slate, and the traditional publishers can’t prevent it from getting into readers’ hands.

Yet, a good book is a good book, and a good author will more than likely have some momentum going into his second book, if the people reading him know that he’s good.

I think the meteoric rise of a book like Ready Player One by Ernest Cline sets a strong example of the benefits of momentum. Great book, strong premise, competent writer, decent publicity, movie tie-in: no doubt the author would have a free pass for his second book. To me, as a fan of the first book, I think Cline has earned his free pass because his second book, Armada, while entertaining and worth a read, doesn’t quite hit the same marks. And that’s okay. It doesn’t have to. It’s good enough that Cline’s third book will come out with strong legs, most likely. And that’s just it. The momentum keeps going. I daresay the momentum stays fierce because Ready Player One was such a force out the gate that Cline could probably peddle his success on that book for several titles to come, even though Armada does hold its own to a lesser extent.

On a similar note, I keep thinking M. Knight Shyamalan has had three hits after The Sixth Sense before Lady in the Water crashed at the theaters. Each one was a little worse than the one before (well, I’d actually argue that Unbreakable was his best movie, but that’s me), but he still carried The Sixth Sense‘s momentum for a little while. Of course, the movies he’s done since Lady in the Water are proof that every artist must give each work his all and not trust his momentum to last forever. At some point, the talent must come back. Fortunately, it seems his newest film, The Visit, has pulled him back into form (I haven’t seen it myself, but the reviewers say he’s gone back to his old ways, which is good). Point is, now that I’m heading into a tangent if I don’t reel it in here, each work stands on its own, but momentum certainly helps.

I don’t know if I’ll gain any momentum once The Computer Nerd goes live tomorrow. The benefit of the presale is that all sales to Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks, and Kobo made before tomorrow will get counted tomorrow, and the book can rank higher on the sales charts than if I had not opened it up to presale. But, I’m also choosing to release on a Tuesday, which is the greatest competition day (admittedly the reason why I chose to release on the 20th and not the 23rd–I mean, why not see how I stack against the big bosses?). A scan on Amazon shows I’m going up against John Grisham’s Rogue Lawyer. Am I going to outsell John Grisham? Not a frickin’ chance. Not even close. But, I am releasing a 99-cent book tomorrow that runs the equivalent of a little over 300 pages in a paperback. He’s releasing his 352-page book for $17.37 on Amazon ($14.99 on Kindle). In fairness, he probably has an editor telling him where all the story fat is located. I’m basically fending for myself here. But I think I held my own as a worthy author for this one.

Bottom line is that The Computer Nerd is worth every bit its price, as I’m sure Rogue Lawyer is worth every bit of its price. (As an avid collector of John Grisham hardcovers, I’ll no doubt be picking up my copy one of these days.)

Yes, I’m well aware that I just promoted John Grisham’s book for the same day that mine is coming out to the e-book market. Whatever. There’s a reason he’s popular. Again, mine is an eighth of the price and almost the same volume of story. (I can’t comment on quality because I haven’t read Rogue Lawyer. I’m sure it’s good. I believe mine is also good, though I welcome your judgment if you’re reading this.) In the great scale of weights and measures, buying The Computer Nerd on or before October 20, 2015 (basically today or tomorrow), still makes sense.

Speaking of promoting other people’s books, I’m happy to say that Larry Brooks’s Story Fix is out now, and for anyone who’s read Story Engineering or Story Physics, you’ll know that Larry Brooks is a gift to writers, and if you haven’t read his books, which you can find at the Writer’s Digest Shop, you totally should, if you’re the least bit serious about writing stories. I’ve picked up my copy this past Saturday, and even though I’m releasing The Computer Nerd tomorrow, I’ll certainly be looking forward to releasing a revised version in the near future should I learn about anything I’ve broken and didn’t bother to fix. The nice thing about publishing e-books myself is that I can do such things as that. Obviously, if I release a major update to the story (and I don’t foresee that happening because I have edited the crap out of this thing already), I’ll post about it. Once you buy it, you’re supposed to have access to all successive versions.

But again, I don’t foresee that being necessary. I’ll more than likely need Brooks’s advice for the one I’m currently updating, The Evil Clone of Michael K., which I hope to release in December (on a Friday or Saturday).

So, on that note, buy John Grisham’s Rogue Lawyer tomorrow. But, if you have a leftover dollar to spare (or your regional equivalent), give The Computer Nerd a try. You can sample the first six chapters, beginning with this post, and find out more about the book on its official page. The e-book, which is approximately 80,000 words, or the equivalent of about 300 pages (in paperback), can be bought at Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo, and starting tomorrow, you can also buy it at Smashwords.

If you get a chance to read it, please comment here, or leave a review on your purchased store’s website, or at The Computer Nerd page on Goodreads.

Thanks. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this story. If you start a discussion on it anywhere (for better or for worse; my skin is thick), please link it to the comments below. I’d love to see what people are saying about it.

Goodreads Review: Dog on It

October 14, 2015

In an effort to make a more impressive profile on Goodreads, now that the older Facebook app, Visual Bookshelf, which I was active on for a short while, seems to have lost its traction (either that, or I just haven’t been keeping up with it enough), I wrote my first Goodreads review tonight, based on the mystery novel, Dog on It, which is the first book in the Chet and Bernie Mystery series, by Spencer Quinn.

Here is the link to that review:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1416848391

I wanted to link it directly to this page, but for some reason embedded codes don’t seem to work. I really don’t know why. Maybe it’s the theme I’m using?

If anyone knows how to get embedded codes to work on WordPress, let me know. Whenever I try copy/pasting the source (as given by the source site), it comes out ugly, messy, and meta. Maybe it’s better just to link to the source itself?

Anyway, for now, click the link, enjoy the review, and then go out and enjoy the book.

Lightstorm and Goodreads

September 24, 2015

So, I released my latest novella, Lightstorm, earlier this week, and while I’m patiently waiting for all of the distributors to get their versions of the story (Barnes & Noble is dead last as usual), I find myself obsessively checking my download stats for the e-book (when I’m not writing/updating the next story I have on my 2015 roster, The Evil Clone of Michael Keaton–more on that another time) to see if I’m pulling in any significantly weighted numbers. Every time I post a new e-book to Smashwords, which I admit is probably the best platform I have for getting obscure stories out to the public, stories I know the traditional publishers would never take a risk on (I’m pretty sure), I keep thinking, This is the one that will turn the tide. This is the one that the people will discover, share, and lead me to that coveted breakout status. And then I see the numbers on those low-count masses who actually view the book, and the much lower turnout (well, 10% isn’t that bad actually) who choose to download it, and I start wondering if my platform is just too dang small.

Note: As of now, I’ve got about 300 views and 40 downloads for Lightstorm since I released it four days ago. If you’re a stats hound like I am, this might be important info. If you just like a good story, then keep reading (or download Lightstorm from your favorite indie e-book retailer!).

This leads me to that philosophical question that has plagued man since the dawn of time, or at least since entertainment and business had first collided: How does one increase his platform when he’s just a fiction writer who’s got only characters and situations to write about, not important stuff like self-improvement and diet fads?

Well, the obvious answer is to write the kind of story that people want to share. But even that is a tricky beast because all art is subjective, right? I can write only those works that interest me as a reader. I could certainly write for an expanded audience if I wanted to, but I do so at the risk of neutering my feelings or convictions. Not always, of course. But the risk is there.

Take the Romance genre, for example. Big market! I can’t read it, much less write it. I just lost about 80% of the e-book market. Dang it.

But does this mean that readers of other genres shouldn’t find and enjoy the stuff I can read and write?

Tonight I was looking up sites like Reddit and Goodreads, and I kept thinking that these would be great platforms for finding out what people are actually interested in. I was also watching a video where the marketing expert swears by Facebook as the best social media resource that any person seeking promotion can use. I don’t know–I use Facebook, and the hardest job I have with it is convincing my friends to read something, anything. I mean, I’ve posted poems about mullets on there, and I’ve gotten mostly just the crickets chirping in response. Poetry about mullets! It doesn’t get better than that (more on that another time)! In short, I know that there are plenty of valuable resources on hand, but for the life of me I feel like a monkey when I use them. Maybe there’s a trick to it. Maybe it’s all entirely run by luck. Maybe developing a platform is nothing more than a catch-22: you need a platform to develop a platform. Actually, that sounds about right. You can’t fill your cup to the brim with coffee if you don’t have the cup or the coffee.

With that said, writing is still the greatest source of expression I have, and I get a kick out of doing it. But part of the thrill of expressing is knowing that somehow my message will get out and people will talk about it and my ideas might actually set interesting things into motion. Obviously, I haven’t done that yet, or this blog would be about something else. But I’m still hoping that one of these books (which can be explored along the right margin if you click any of their images) will find its audience, and that maybe that audience will begin exploring other books past, present, and future, and maybe that audience will even dare to sign into Goodreads and leave a review or start a discussion that would help me, as a writer, know if I should keep trying to hand these things off to the public or if I should just keep them to myself.

And a quick note to those who ever thought about writing a book but were afraid to start: Just do it anyway. I’m part of the heavy population of low sales / downloads rankings at the moment (trying hard to reverse that!), but I know that the only thing that guarantees me a dead readership is not to write anything. Seeing the numbers in my stats climb by even one download a day can be pretty exciting. Now if I can just convince the people who downloaded it to give some feedback. Ah, now that would be awesome.

P.S. I know this is kind of an introspective and whiny blog, but you know, stats! Had to write something if I’m to have more than just one post in September. Why not this?

Feel free to leave a comment if you want to discuss this topic further.