Shiny Things

“So he just roots around in our subconscious minds,” Delaney said, “like a raccoon looking for shiny things?”
— From Spark.

I confess to a certain deficit as far as my own attention goes, but I don’t think that makes me unusual. Ours is an ADHD society. But that’s not all bad. Sure, television and video games and the internet have mostly replaced reading, leaving us all so addled and distracted that we can’t keep our thumbs off the channel-changer, but it isn’t a bad thing to have a rwpid-tv2estless mind. Some of the world’s greatest discoveries were made by accident—penicillin, for instance, and peanut butter cups. It’s like how you find the coolest stuff on the internet while you’re looking for something else entirely.

During the course of writing approximately six novels, I’ve spent uncounted hours doing research on a whole mess of subjects: silk worms, Minoans, ancient sailing techniques, glass blowing, gnosticism, voodoo, exotic bird facts, flying carpets (in case anyone wondered, all that stuff about Solomon and Sheba and the Library Alexandria in Chapter 11 of Flight of the Wren, I didn’t make any of that up. That’s all bona fide carpet lore.) Not to mention endless trips via Google Maps satellite to scout out locations, leading to some amazing discoveries

Continue reading “Shiny Things”

Publish and/or Perish

Last year was a landmark year for me. In December, the eBook of my YA paranormal Spark was published by Lycaon Press. In March, the paperback came out. At the same time, my book Flight of the Wren was accepted for publication by the same company.

In April, that same company went belly up.


Which is why I’m now self-publishing both titles.

We’ve all seen the endless discussions on the web about the relative merits of self-publishing vs. traditional publishing. Everybody’s got an opinion, but the biggest single difference is that somebody has to ask you to be traditionally published. You don’t just make it happen. And it ain’t easy. Big publishers hardly ever consider manuscripts from un-agented authors. And agents (I don’t even know how many agents I’ve queried over the years) are a notoriously hard sell. Besides, being published by one of the ‘Bigs’ isn’t necessarily a pathway to riches and fame. (If you haven’t read this article, I recommend you do (and thanks to Mimi Speike for finding that.)) In a lot of ways, for a lot of people, self-publication is a better option. The only problem? Most self-published books don’t sell. I mean, not at all. It’s just too hard to get noticed. Continue reading “Publish and/or Perish”

Sounding the Genre Gap

I admit it: I have a genre problem.

Fantasy? Science Fiction? Young Adult? Women’s Fiction? Mystery? I don’t know. I try not to think about it. When I’m actually writing a book, I don’t think about the audience at all. It just isn’t part of the process.

That may be a problem.

They say there are two things you have to do to be successful at marketing: know w14714318hat you are selling and know who you are selling to. They are the twin maxims of the all-knowing marketing oracle, violated only at the author’s peril. Know thy audience! Find out what they like. And then, find out where they are. What sort of social media do they use? Where do they hang out after work? Are they vegan? Do they like Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts?

I’ve given very little thought as to whom I’m writing for.  It’s not that I’m not interested, it’s just doesn’t feel like my business. Whether someone likes a book or not is their decision. I want people to like my books, of course, but I have no control over that.  I haven’t gone to a single bookstore, online or otherwise, trying to find other books like mine so I can try and tap into a preformed audience.

I’m supposed to do that. I’m supposed to go and find that audience. Continue reading “Sounding the Genre Gap”

Marketable Me, Part 2 (or Everything I’ve Done Wrong So Far)

Peter Cook“There was a time when I used to get lots of ideas…I thought up the Seven Deadly Sins in one afternoon. The only thing I’ve come up with recently is advertising.” — Peter Cook as George Spiggott (aka the Devil) in Bedazzled.



I shouldn’t have a blog. Not yet anyway. According to the web-course I just finished reading, I’m not ready. Why? Because no one is listening. I don’t have an audience yet. I’m talking to an empty room.

True? Essentially. The dozen or so people who might read this article make up a tiny audience. Compared to the millions of people who tune in every week to watch real fake people compete for the right to embarrass themselves on TV, it could justifiably be compared to an empty room.

But there’s something wrong with that attitude. Just like there’s something wrong with John Morrow’s entire Serious Bloggers Only course.

Let me start by explaining that Serious Bloggers Only is the freebie-grabber offered as an incentive to sign up for Mr. Morrow’s very successful $29.95 monthly course on blogging and marketing. I did not avail myself of that course, but I did spend a dollar to get the intro package—14 lessons on how to use my blog as an effective marketing tool. I also spent several hours over the course of a week reading through the thing. It was book-length, by which I mean between 300 and 400 pages, more if you clicked on every link and read them all. Which I didn’t of course. For a dollar, I can’t really complain. There was valuable stuff inside, but there were also many, many pages that car-sales-1were filled with unneeded explanations and pointless repetition. (For example, Lesson Nine is 39 pages on how to choose a domain name. I’ll summarize: use your own name, or as close as possible. Don’t get cute. Voila. Thirty-nine pages.)

Listen, I’m not here to bash John Morrow. He’s very successful, and doesn’t seem like a bad guy. But there were things I really hated about this course. I’m no pie-eyed idealist, but I want to believe it’s possible to market my books in a way that doesn’t feel like I’m exploiting or coercing or manipulating or even convincing anyone. And let’s be clear, marketing is advertising. It’s selling, and most of us have a knee-jerk reaction to selling. It makes us feel sleazy. Continue reading “Marketable Me, Part 2 (or Everything I’ve Done Wrong So Far)”