Wednesday, January 29, 2014

R.I.P. Pete Seeger

We lost a great light when Pete Seeger left this life. His music and work resonates across this country, and the world. He was the cultural heir to Woody Guthrie and the songs of America's people.

If you don't know much about his work, Check out the Wikipedia listing.

For decades he fought the good fight for peace and social justice. He did it with music and deeds, and made this world a better place. He is missed. We have no one like him- he was the Original.

Sing a song and remember a man who brought people together with the gift of the harmony of the spheres.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Big Pub Enters the Arena- and Gets Served

It seems the tide is turning. Corporate bigwigs from the traditonal publishing houses are starting to emerge from their bunkers to talk to the sweaty peasants about publishing.
Here are a set of posts you MUST read if you're a writer interested at all in the publishing business.

For the first, Joe Konrath hosts Questions From Steve  Zacharius, CEO and President of Kensington Publishing.
I commented on this one, saying the CEO had done the equivalent of entering a boxing ring blindfolded and with his hands tied behind his back. Yeah, he got clobbered, mostly because he had chance after chance to respond to direct questions, and kept dodging, ducking, and diving.

Even worse was the other one who foolishly took on Barry Eisler, whose debate skills are even better, and who surgically removed the man's ass and handed it to him.
Barry Eisler, Authors Deserve Better

Of course, the bigwigs of traditional publishing are still not getting it, having business practices from the 1980's and accounting practices from the 1960's, but hey, they're talking now. Which tells you something. Like, they're running scared. Really scared. They know that unless they make radical changes, their business days are numbered.

And they blame it all on Amazon, in what is called Amazon Derangement Syndrome. They say it's better for authors to get screwed by BigPub for real in the here and now, because someday in the future Amazon might screw them. Nothing about how they refuse to listen to the people trying to help them survive by giving them great advice on how to make money, keep authors, and get more good ones signed on. See the Hugh Howey posts on how to do this.

You know, if there was a coaching company who helped people reach championship levels, they could justly charge for that in relation to what they were doing. If a publishing company built an author up through ever-increasing sales to stardom, that would be something (and it used to happen).

But their new strategy is to hang out at the finish lines, waiting for the front runners to come charging to the tape, then leaping out, grabbing hold as the finish line is crossed, and claiming that the winner owed it all to them. They want to crowd onto the medal stand. Thus do they wait until self-publishers have sold thousands of books, and only then offering a BigPub contract. After the person has already shown they don't need BigPub to create and sell a good book.

And they still say that nobody can win unless they sign with BigPub. Even though more winners emerge every month.

It's a business strategy based on the hope there will be enough future writing suckers who don't understand math or business. And on the hope that the one giant bookstore chain left stays completely healthy.

Not the smartest plan. It's a revolution, and they're clinging to the old ways. They're pushing themselves into the dustbin of history!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Great Advice From Unexpected Sources

Good advice for your writing career can come from unexpected sources.
Two important places for you to check out- though the people involved have written books, they are less known as "writers" than other things- Seth Godin is a business/marketing guru, and Scott Adams is a well-known cartoonist who draws Dilbert.

Seth has so much terrific advice for the modern "authorpreneur." One of his recent blogs is crucial for your understanding of the modern book market.

He says that your biggest problem isn't 'awareness' (or the buzzword 'discoverability' for writers). It's not that you should shout all over social media about your work so that more people will hear about you, it's about creating such a value proposition that people tell other people about you. He persuades you that it's better to produce something remarkable.

On social media, I skip over all self-promotion- they're shouting in hopes that someone, anyone, will follow the link. But when someone else recommends a work, and tells me why, I'm much more inclined to check it out. So when you write something so good that other people push it, that's the key.

The second thing to check out (see there, I found great value and am passing it along) is the book by Scott Adams, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big.

He hits on a number of points to absorb, the first that perseverance matters over temporary setbacks. He got lucky by constantly working hard to put himself in positions to get lucky. Like Edison with the light bulb, he "failed" at many things, which all taught him something, and which he accepted as moving him closer to his plan for success.

The takeaway for me is that he shows how to decide what you truly want and set up a system for long-term success, not just set goals. A goal may be met, or not, and then you've either failed- or have to start over with new goals. It's paradoxical for us as humans- shortly after we meet a goal, we're dissatisfied, and seek something else. We work so hard, and the satisfaction is temporary.
Creating a system means you're always in progress. It's strategic thinking rather than tactical, and is a better indicator of eventual success.

He has many other life lessons here, also stressing the importance of knowledge and learning.
If you take a bit of time and study the book and the post, you will have a better understanding of what you need to do to continue a writing career for the long term.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Why I Love the Writing Game- Part Whatever

Ever have one of those colds on a weekend where you couldn't get anything done? Yeah, like that. Have felt awful, and worse about not getting any writing down. Have a terrific start to one novel, and another one planned out and ready to write. But nothing doing with this rotten sick feeling.

Cherry on the sundae-  a bloody surprise snowstorm. Sigh.

We won't talk about the Pats not showing up for their game against Denver...

So I'm at the end of the weekend, feeling bad, and suddenly an email comes through. A response to a story I submitted back before Halloween. The editor loves it ands wants to put it in the inaugural issue of Trysts of Fate magazine next month.

Wow. Nicely done. First story sale of the year!

The cool thing is I can be sitting at my desk and get notice of another royalty payment, or book sale, or opportunity, or someone who liked something I wrote and wants to pay for it.

Speaking of which, my newly-released audio books are selling like hotcakes. Check them out on

Once in a while, you get a lift when you need it.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

New Year, New Audio

Hello again. Well, the new year is off to a rousing start as far as audio goes. Since November, I've got all 7 story collection books professionally produced in audio format and up for sale at

The latest is The Big Book of Genre Stories- just went up, and already has sales. This is the biggest collection I've done- 30 stories in five different genres. Hours of listening pleasure.

Busy with other projects, too. Writing up a storm on the latest Zack Taylor adventure, A Certain Slant of Light. Working on a guest post for a prominent blog watched by thousands. Also getting a print version of my non-fiction book, How to Improve Your Interviewing Skills. Working on a TV show we can do for local television. Getting book signings lined up.

To be a successful writer these days, you need to do more than write. It's keeping that balance that's tough, because you can spend all your time on the non-essentials, if you're not careful.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Happy New Year

Well, we survived another Snowpocalypse, shoveling out from under another foot or so.

Ah, the joys of winter in New England!

So I've been housebound, growing a beard and writing like mad. Will shave before I go into work tomorrow, though. Don't want to scare people with my mountain man visage.

Been creating the next Zack Taylor mystery, A Certain Slant of Light. It's going great, and I'm blasting away, making a new adventure, with a lot going on.

It'll be ready when it's ready, though. No ETA.


But the next person who refers to publishing as "just pressing a button," I'm gonna kick in the shins.
If you knew how much work it is to do different versions of the same book, after you've edited it to death and are already tired of the same scenes over and over. Had to maunally go into Amazon and Smashwords and try to get them to recognize all my other books, and synch them all up under my name. Major PITA. Had to create another version for libraries. Had to listen to every word I wrote in 7 books that are now out on audio, on Print versions, ebook versions, alternate versions. It just never stops, long after you've written the damn thing!
Push-button publishing, my butt. If only. But that's a lot of time to format that takes away from the fun stuff, writing.
And there's a lot of writing to do this year. Have 3 novels and 2 other books to be done.
About 200,000 words or so.

So what have YOU got planned for this year?