Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Truth About Self Pub and Other Lies

As some might have heard, I write. As less may have heard, I have released a book.

Don't believe me? Well, here it is:

See? What more proof do you need?

I thought it might be a hoot to post on some finer, funnier points of self-publication. Also, in case you missed it by a couple inches, I can promote my book again, like so:

Seeing as I've transitioned from writer to author for all of four days (meaning, you can buy my book, as shown twice above), I figure I'm now something of an expert and can share what I've learned about self-publication.

1)  There's always something you find wrong with your MS within ten seconds of submitting it for sale. You can fix it, but it takes twelve or more hours to update and in that time you'll find something else wrong.

2)  Hype, networking, creating buzz and pleading can work, unless they don't. The fun part; you're never really sure what worked and if it will continue to work.

3)  Self Pub is a valuable lesson in rationalization. For example; if ABADDON ARMS is ranked #113,467 in sales out of 7 million books, it must mean it's better than 6.9 million other books. Is that factual? Well...probably not, but it sounds nice.

4)  Fellow writers are a wonderful source of support – to an extent. Just bear in mind they have their own problems and are looking to kick your ass by ranking higher than #113,467.

5)  There are many ways to get word out, including giveaways, review sites, book trailers, fancy websites, free books, social network posts, shared social network posts, re-shared social network posts and skywriting. This is a terrific mechanism to attract other writers, but in many cases, actual readers are elusive as unicorns.

6)  Reviews give an air of legitimacy to a book, with more being better. Happily, writers (oops, authors) are a mentally rugged breed who never take negativity to heart, no matter how scathing. Yes, I write fiction and obviously, I'm pretty damn proficient at it.

7)  Writing more stuff can be negatively impacted by obsessively checking your sales 12,000 times a day. It can also lead to depression, chocolate, alcoholism and public begging.  Of course, since that's the stereotypical view of writers anyway (oops again, authors), no one will notice.

8)  Writing more stuff is good, and can geometrically increase your chances of being ignored by a broader range of readers.

9)  Connecting with readers is good, especially if they liked the book. It can provide valuable insight about your talent. Licking their face and pestering them for more input is bad, and how restraining orders are generated

10)  You cannot escape the stigma of being a first time, self-published author, especially when you're a first-time, self published author. The best you can hope for is avoiding being institutionalized so you can become a second time, self-published author. No, confetti does not fall from the ceiling then, either. Deal with it.

11)  Social Network book release parties are a mixed bag, but the romance crowd has the most fun BY FAR. If you need to pattern your attitude (for survival sake), these are the folks to emulate, which brings me to my summary of all these rules.

Write because you enjoy it. The respect, success, endorsements and trying to figure out where to get your Bentley convertible serviced are byproducts.

You can't tell readers what they have to read and it's stupid to try. Many Writers (oops, I, forget it) LOATHE books like Twilight and Fifty Shades, mostly due to jealousy. But these examples show how significant a writer is in the mind of readers, meaning; not very.

Readers want the juice, an escape for a day or two. Then they skip to the next book for more of the same. If you think you're constructing a towering monument to serve mankind, you're wrong. Even if you succeed in your own mind, pigeons are going to crap on it anyway.

Sure, some have read 1984 or Atlas Shrugged without a peer-pressure gun to their head, but it's summer, lighten up.

And buy my book. It also makes a great gift. Your friends and family will thank you. No one reads War and Peace on the beach or while waiting for a flight.

Once again:

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Revo's Bookshelf: Blood Leverage by JS Hazzard

A friend of mine took a leap, a big leap. She polished up her baby, set the plan in motion and kicked it out of the nest. Thus far, Blood Leverage by JS Hazzard was been well received, well reviewed and reasonably well purchased.

Sounds simple, right?


I was present for much of the final stages of this event, and saw the monumental effort and stainless steel guts it took to bring the product to market. Every detail imaginable was agonized over, repeatedly. Decisions were questioned. Approaches were studied. Between graphics, giveaways, conversions to ebook and print, marketing philosophies, and hundreds of edits, the process appeared never ending, like a torturous mobius strip of decisions.

Thus far, the work paid off. Blood Leverage is a sharply written and packaged story that can stand square with the best the modern traditional publishers offer – except JS Hazzard did it all the heavy lifting, with an occasional assist help from her friends. I glad to be one of them.

Not that anyone asked, but since I'm in a giving mood, I'll share what I've learned about self publishing:

- Nothing is easy.

- Quality is king.

- Friends make coping and execution easier.

- Marketing has no one 'sure-fire' method for success – but can be tweaked in-flight.

- Reviews are good. More are better.

- Product is good. More is better.

- The best appear to be having fun with what they're doing.

JS and several other self-pub acquaintances I know have these elements covered. It works. As an added bonus, my friends are supportive with advice, promotion and getting in on the fun as a group. Though our genres are varied, we share a common bond. No one is out to assassinate the other and we share the joy of each other's success.

But back to Blood Leverage. Take a minute to look at it, read up on JS and check out the sample pages. Don't worry, I'll wait.

See what I mean? This is quality stuff and done the way JS Hazzard wanted it done. Every decision was hers, and she bears responsibility for its failure and full credit for its success. There is no corporate marketing push behind her, as well as no advance to earn back. There is no multi book deal requiring 'approved' subject matter or genre, as well as no rigid schedule for when JS releases her next work. She has no group of Manhattan-savvy insiders and no one with their hand out for their share. JS Hazzard has become an island, one of many in a helpful, coexisting chain.

Sound wonderful, and to a degree it is, but never think it didn't require daunting amounts of work.

I won't go into detail about book specifics, mostly because it's not the point of this post. Many others will handle that task. My intent is to inform and celebrate the determination of an author who picked up the shovel and dug the damn hole, without any guarantee of reward besides self-satisfaction of doing it her way.

She's got guts and ability, and like me, should not be underestimated.

Besides, she has friends. Lots of them.


Want to learn more about JS Hazzard? Here's a few links:

(Twitter feed)  @JSHazzard