Listen to Pilot Light

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Clay McKenzie

Although writing moves on, THE LEGEND OF CLAY MCKENZIE slowly gains traction. We've gotten some wonderful reviews (thank you reviewers) and good reader feedback. So I keep looking for ways to promote it, to let more people know.

Part of the interest in the book is in the character of Stephanie Masters, a young editor who takes a risk to make certain a great book (in her opinion) gets published despite all odds. Her interest isn't entirely altruistic and she is hoping to make her mark in the industry. Taking the gamble, what it does for her and to her, is a core theme. She goes about it knowingly and here is a quote from the book, a thought she has when she irrevocably makes her decision.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

When a writer is a publisher

It's become commonplace to take the view that publishing is in chaos and that change is the only constant. Although those statements are repeated endlessly and possibly even true, I wish I would stop hearing them. My concern is that these statements confuse writers--make them think that writing is in chaos, that they need to keep a weather eye on the changes. It isn't and they don't.

Okay, the publishing business is certainly changing fast and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. How books will be sold and even what constitutes a book is up in the air. But for writers the world, the job hasn't changed at all. Being a successful writer still means writing stories people want to read. So the job is to find a story you are passionate about and tell it well. Then do the next one.

As a reader I don't want my favorite writers wasting time worrying about what ebook format or e-reader will dominate, whether their books will be read on cell phones or tablet computers, or worse yet, if the demise of the print book is real, immediate, a gradual trend, or total bullshit.I want them writing stories, thinking about storytelling. And writers have enough distractions as life is. They have enough ways to keep from writing without spending hours and days on forums bemoaning or cheering (as their belief set dictates) the changes or even lack of change in the world of publishing.

Mickey Spillaine once told a story about dealing with writer's block. With no ideas of what to write, he went to Florida for an extended vacation. He was bored. One day his accountant called and told him that his income wasn't keeping up with his outgo. The situation wasn't critical; he had money in the bank, but he needed to pay a little attention--generate some income.

Almost instantly, he said, he had several good ideas for stories. Not for ebooks, mind you. Not paperbacks. Not hardcover books. Just stories that he wanted to write.

When I hear (or read) the thoughts of many writers, however, they seem to focus on the ins and outs of publishing; they talk about distribution channels; the ups and downs of various outlets (say of Barnes & Noble) are the stuff of their day. Not stories. When money is tight, instead of it generating story ideas, that concern seems to produce thoughts (some rather desperate) about ebook pricing, how to market on social media better, and perhaps concerns about the work of their current cover artist. While the business of writing certainly means understanding, addressing and dealing with all of those things (and a lot more), if they become the primary focus, the writer becomes more publisher than writer. The person produces business and marketing strategies instead of novels. They become more business person than artist or communicator. To be your own publisher (self, indie...fixate on the terminology if you enjoy the exercise) does require finding a balance that Mickey Spillaine didn't worry about. (But rest assured that he had other balancing acts to deal with.)

Of course a person's focus is their choice, but if they are a writer I enjoy it can be a loss. My loss. And let's be honest here. I am taking the viewpoint of the reader here. If my favorite writers are spending too much time on publishing and not writing, I lose out.

Hey, that gives me an idea for a story. See, a writer has finished his book and.... No, sorry, we won't talk about it until it is done.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Albuquerque Book Signing

On Friday (Jan 3rd) I loaded up the car with books and stuff and made the drive up to Albuquerque, NM for a book signing for The Invention of Clay McKenzie at BOOKWORKS on Saturday. This is a store that does good promotion of its events. I was pleased to see the marque promoted my appearance. My cowriter, Jim Beckett was supposed to go along, but got sick and had to cancel out. So the event coordinator made adjustments accordingly, as you can see.

The staff were wonderful. Ollie hosts the events and spends time getting to know the writers and their books. He asked some questions and was well prepared.

Unfortunately, the timing wasn't the best. Jimmy Santiago Baca is a popular local poet and he was on after I was, and people were coming to see him. In addition, this event was right after the Christmas season when money for luxuries is thinner than at other times. So attendance was thin and it wasn't great from a financial point of view. The store took several books on consignment and it still might pan out, plus it was good to meet people who love books.

By the way, if you are an ebook reader, my books are in the Amazon Matchbook program, which means if you buy the paperback, or have bought it already, you can get the Kindle version for free!!