Category Archives: On Writing

A Successful Reading and Signing

Last Sunday, I participated as one of three authors in a book reading and signing at Vroman’s bookstore in Pasadena. It was a terrific experience, and I’m only sorry if you couldn’t be there. (Hey, I sure announced it enough in the blog and on Facebook!)

It began with my arrival at about 3:30 PM, accompanied by my wife, who supports me with such forbearance in so many ways. Vroman’s had set up a space with rows of chairs for attendees – lots of attendees. At the front of the area was a podium, and to its left (audience right) were three tables, one for each of the authors. On each table were stacked copies of our respective books, ready for signing. In a word, it was classy.

I was greeted by a very nice woman who was both welcoming and helpful, and who laid out the event’s agenda. Each of us would have 15-20 minutes to read and/or speak about our book, and this would be followed by a Q&A which we’d do as a panel. Following this, the actual signing.

One of the other authors had pretty much stacked the audience with his friends and supporters, and he rather forcefully insisted on speaking last. The other author, a young woman who’d written a diet and weight loss book, and I, decided not to argue about it. She had never done a signing and did not want to speak first, so I took the lead-off position.

The reading went well, with lots of folks in the audience finding the excerpts from Zendoscopy funny and, in a few cases that I’m aware of, affecting. Next came the weight-loss author. Clearly, she was a hit. Slender, tall, and undeniably attractive, it really didn’t matter that her book was really just another self-help tome making dubious medical claims leavened with a bit of common sense advice. She clearly had an immediate impact upon the overweight women in the crowd. Then came the author who’d insisted on going last. He did an overly long and ill-defined reading from his book, but none of that mattered since he’d packed the audience with many people already primed to buy his work.

The Q&A went well, with lots of questions ranging from the thoughtful to the predictably anxious from aspiring writers (“How do you get your ideas?”). The Vroman’s staffer told us that it was the best Q&A she’d experienced, and she’d therefore allowed it to go on longer than usual for these events.

Finally came the signing. I’ve found signings to be fascinating, this one being particularly so because it followed a reading. There were those who told me that they’d enjoyed the reading and bought the book, those who said they’d enjoyed the reading and didn’t buy the book (but who might have bought one of the other books), and those who were only there to mingle with the authors and nothing else.

Did I sell many books? No, actually. Only a few. But it was fun and I got my first experience with a reading. I’m now looking at trying to do it again at other local bookstores, and the generally positive feedback has encouraged me to continue working on Zendoscopy‘s sequel. Don’t ask – it’s as yet untitled.

As always, many of the entries in seductivepeach.com are targeted to those who are hoping to succeed at writing. I hope this entry has provided a bit of insight into one aspect of marketing one’s work, and that you’ll keep coming back to follow my own adventure’s course in months to come.

Finally, I want to thank those friends and supporters who did turn out to support me at the event. Believe me, it meant a lot to see you in the audience. And here’s my plug and appreciation for one special attendee, Nancy Young, author of Strum. Nancy, I never expected to see you there, but I’m so grateful that you came!

An “Awesome” Posting

This Sunday, 1/25, I’ll be doing a reading and signing for Zendoscopy at the premier bookstore in Pasadena, Vroman’s (695 E. Colorado Blvd.). If you can come, please do. I’d love to see you there. Time: 4 PM.

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I’m always interested (and generally appalled) by the use of certain words that have become trendy. I’ve written here before about this, taking to task such words as “basically” and “awesome”. The latest word that’s driving me nuts is “incredible”. It seems that everything, no matter how expected, mundane, or trivial, is getting described these days as “incredible”. To wit:

  • This bagel with cream cheese is incredible! Uh huh.
  • Your new T-shirt is incredible! Yes, it does slip on over your head.
  • I saw The Interview last night. It was incredible! Really?

Since when has everything become so unbelievable? Since when has it become so easy to inspire such a level of awe over the routine? Or, more likely, since when has paucity of language skills and general laziness been so openly displayed? I guess I don’t know what to say. I guess it’s just incredible.

In a recent posting about the terrible slaughter by terrorists in Paris, I ended with the statement that, “Nous sommes tous Charlie.” In some respects, I regret doing this because, just as with “incredible”, Je suis and nous sommes Charlie have become overused to the point of abuse as well as parodied, all of it to the point of meaninglessness.

In the sense that I used it, I meant that all of us were attacked, not just the satirical magazine and its staff. But those always eager to misinterpret things have come out ranting about how despicable Charlie Hebdo, the magazine is, and criticizing those who used the phrase, obviously in its more expansive sense. Idiots abound in this world, and those too stupid to understand that the attack was one on all freedom of expression, a terrorist act by those who would impose ignorant, religiously based tyranny upon us all It was, after all, Voltaire who in the 1700s said that he might disagree with what is said but not with the right to say it. Apparently, there are many in the world who still have not accepted this approach.

And although they are not committing atrocities, there are many in our own country who would censor what may be said, who seek to have books removed from libraries that they deem offensive, who would dictate how we all should live. Lest you doubt this, simply listen to Republicans these days, especially those on the far right who, in misunderstanding the foundations of the country, insist that it was founded as a Christian nation and who would rip the First Amendment to shreds given the chance.

There’s trouble in River City, my friends. If saner heads don’t speak up, don’t stand up and vote, we’ll get what we (don’t?) deserve. And if that happens, I can assure you it won’t be good. It will be real, and it won’t be “incredible” when your front door gets bashed in. But, now that I think about it, it will be “awesome”.

Consignment Fun

In my nearly constant quest to find markets for my writing, I look for independent bookstores that might be willing to take my work on consignment. Remember that it’s difficult, if not impossible, to get any four-walled bookstore to carry your book if you’re self-published. The only viable route, then, is consignment. The general rule is that consigners – that’s you and I – will receive 60% of the sale price of whatever is sold, but there’s no guarantee of this. One bookseller I tried to deal with tried to reverse the usual arrangement and pay me 40%. I walked. I may be crazy, but I’m not stupid.

Let’s face it. The deck is stacked against self-published writers. Even if you get a store to take a few of your books on consignment, there’s no guarantee that they’ll place the books anywhere where potential buyers will see them. This happened to me at a prominent bookstore in Hollywood, where they took five copies of Zendoscopy and, for want of a better way to describe it, interred them on a shelf in a creepy back corner of the store where no one would want to wander. Meanwhile, they had shelves and tables with books – many “remaindered” — on prominent display across the front of the store and visible through front windows. And for this, they charged me $100 up front just for their benevolence. You can do the math: there was no way I’d make a penny on the sales even if the five books sold, which they of course didn’t.

Now, you may ask why I went for the deal at that bookstore in the first place. The answer is simple. I did it in the attempt to gain some recognition. In retrospect, it was a mistake.

Recently, I did better. The established bookstore in Pasadena, Vroman’s, agreed to take five books on consignment (for a fee, of course), but they placed them on a rack in the front of the store, with other books by local, self-published authors. Beyond that (and also for a fee but, hey, worth the gamble) they’ve given me a date for a reading and signing, along with two other authors who’ll also be there under the same arrangement. The event, about a week away, will be on Sunday, 25 January at the bookstore. Time: 4 PM. If you’re free and live in Southern California, please come. I could use a few groupies, or at least shills, to show up in my corner!

The fact remains, though, that one event won’t make me a well known, best selling author. It’s a struggle. Every self-published author I know has dealt with the problem, which arises from a “Catch-22” situation, namely, the “agent problem”. In order to get published by a mainstream publisher, you need an agent. But to get an agent, you need to have been published by a mainstream publisher. In other words, in order to arrive, you have to have arrived. The only other ways to find success are to have connections or to be the beneficiary of blind luck. Read the reviews of Zendoscopy on Amazon.com. They’re terrific but they’ve gotten me nowhere because in order for anyone to see them, they’d have to know about the book in the first place. That’s another Catch-22.

Zendoscopy was also reviewed by Kirkus Reviews, and that review was favorable. In fact, the book was one of the 10% or so whose review made it into their main publication. Where? Buried in the Indie section toward the back of the magazine, where few would be likely to notice it. So, even in the face of a small triumph, there was ultimate defeat. But don’t get me wrong. I know that the marketplace owes me nothing. My point, if I have one, is that if you’re going to write and self-publish, do it because you’re driven to put words on a page and not because you think you’re going to get rich at it. The odds are overwhelmingly against you. Write if you must – I do – but even if what you write is pure fantasy, your expectations shouldn’t be.

I hope to see you at Vroman’s next Sunday.

Best Review Yet

As an end of the year surprise, Zendoscopy has received a wonderful review from an Amazon.com top 500 reviewer, B. Case. Here is what she said:

“Zendoscopy,” by J. Allan Wolf, is a fictional memoir that tries to be both emotionally honest and delightfully hilarious. It succeeds admirable at both. I haven’t enjoyed a work quite like this since I read David Niven’s autobiography, “Moon’s a Balloon” some 42 years ago. That bestseller captured the essence of the famous English actor’s sparkling personality mostly through a collection of outlandish (but narrowly true-to-life) tales. It’s the same with this book. It’s the personality of author that shines through loud and clear out of the pure joy of the reading experience.

“Zendoscopy” defies categorization. I called it a fictional memoir because it reminded me of Niven’s autobiography. But I could just have easily have said that it was a character study, a coming-of-age-novel, or a collection of linked stories. Whatever it is, in summary, it covers the early life of a geeky, insecure, and bright young man named Sherman Alt. The stories start with his birth in a hospital where a plumber’s plunge serves a vital role. It ends with Alt as a medical doctor with a wife, a home, and a major plumbing problem. In between are many stories that help describe what it was like to grow up in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. The stories cover a broad range from serious to slapstick. It’s a work full of wry humor, ironic circumstances, and somewhat exaggerated tales. Many of the stories have to do with the main character’s adventures and misadventures with the opposite sex.

On a serious note, the book covers the journey of one man toward self-acceptance and the deep psychological reward of a validated life. It’s impressive the way the author pulls off this serious theme from a book that is mostly light and brilliantly funny.

Wolf’s prose is rich and polished. He keeps his readers engaged by focusing almost entirely on action and dialog rather than weighing down any particular piece with too much descriptive prose. Most of his character development takes place through authentic action and dialog. As a result, these secondary characters flash to life off the page.

As for the meaning of the unusual title, “Zendoscopy,” trust that there’s a gratifying explanation at the end of the last story. And, yes, it’s tied together with further revelations about the honorable, rational, and world-loving character of Sherman Alt.

Naturally, the perfect audience for this book would be other bright, geeky men who grew up in the same time period (i.e., Baby Boomers in their mid-60s). But I am sure the many universal themes in this book can resonate nicely with a much broader range of readers. As far as humorous anecdotal story collections go, this book gets an easy five stars in my rating scheme. It’s brilliantly written and had me smiling almost constantly and laughing out loud a number of times.

My sincere thanks to B. Case for her kind words. As my regular readers know, one of the recurrent themes of this blog is the difficulty we self-published authors face in getting any recognition and publicity. An endorsement like this one from an Amazon Top 500 reviewer provides the author with a sense of validation and, specifically, is tremendously encouraging for me as I embark upon my next novel.

Happy new year to all, and for all those like me who write for the love of it while still hoping for an audience, keep on writing!

Kick Off the New Year with a Pair of Good Reads

Didn’t get what you wanted for the holidays? How about a book? Or two? Here’s what Kirkus Reviews had to say about Zendoscopy:

In this memoirlike novel, a self-described nerd fond of ham radio and the accordion comes of age in the 1950s and ’60s. This second book by Wolf (Spacebraid and Other Tales of a Dystopian Universe, 2004) is not exactly a memoir. These loosely connected anecdotes follow Wolf’s narrator, Sherman Alt, through childhood and adolescence in Southern California before he attends medical school in New York City. Readers will easily identify with the trials and tribulations recounted here, from bullies and hideous acne to ballroom dance lessons, a momentous game of spin the bottle and fraternity high jinks. Most notably, readers witness Sherman’s protracted quest to lose his virginity; when he finally achieves his goal, he gets more than he bargained for. While the themes presented here may seem ordinary, the details are vivid and memorable, with amusing descriptions of his romantic, social and medical misadventures. After a long night of white wine and cheese fondue during his travels abroad in Europe, Sherman notes that he proceeded to “barf until my testicles were left dangling from my nostrils.” However, this book isn’t all fun and games, as a more pensive undercurrent runs through the collection. Sherman experiences the early loss of a childhood companion, a strained relationship with his father and the feeling of alienation caused by his avowed atheism, components that are nicely tied together in the final chapter. The prologue and the epilogue, full of tongue-in-cheek wordplay and parenthetical asides and written explicitly in Wolf’s voice, represent perhaps the least effective portions of the text. Wolf maybe felt the need to contextualize his tales by invoking the big picture and pondering theories of the universe’s origin; readers might appreciate the effort and the content but not necessarily the result or style. A respectable batch of entertaining anecdotes, mostly bawdy and occasionally moving, mixed with moments of human connection and philosophical musing.

    And are you fed up to your eyeballs with the environmental arrogance of today’s Republicans? Do you wish that, somehow, you could bypass this period of earth’s degradation by traveling into a pristine future? Then how about checking out “Spacebraid” in Spacebraid and Other Tales of a Dystopian Universe?

Either book would make a good read and (in hard copy) look good on your bookshelf. So, get the new year off to a good start with a couple of good books. Both are available in hard copy or on Kindle.

Good News for Zendoscopy

   Good news for Zendoscopy. As regular readers know, Zendoscopy is my second book. It was published earlier this year and, although reviews and feedback have been encouraging, sales have been modest. Of course, walk into any bookstore or look at any bookseller online, and you’ll see that there’s a glut of books vying for your attention. That’s why personal marketing is critical for the self-published author.

OK, so what’s “personal marketing”? It’s doing book signings, readings, book club appearances, and setting up for sales at flea markets and weekend farmers’ markets. In this area, I admit to have lagged a bit, largely because of a heavy travel schedule that had me away for much of July, early August, most of September, and early October. Home now, I’m ramping up marketing for Zendoscopy.

I recently placed copies of Zendoscopy on consignment at Pasadena’s largest and best known non-chain bookseller: Vroman’s. They now have me scheduled to do a book signing and a reading from the book on Sunday, January 25th at 4 PM. More information will follow closer to the event, but if you can be there, please come. I’d love to meet you and sign a copy of Zendoscopy for you.

What’s Zendoscopy about? Well, for starters, it’s not really a book about Zen, at least in any formal way. It’s a collection of stories about growing up in the 1950’s and ’60’s in Southern California. Together, all of the stories add up to the lead character’s coming of age, with all that that implies. Some of the stories are very funny, some are quite serious, and others are, well, tragicomic. Here are a few of the story titles:

·         Effie Mae and the Bubble-Up Bottle of Fate

·         Brother Parthenia and the Fido Treasure Hunt

·         Lust, Terror, and the Praying Mantis of the Holy Grail

If you find that these pique your curiosity, pick up a copy or, even better, come to the book signing in January. It promises to be a lot of fun.

Some Folks Shouldn’t (publish, that is)

Since beginning this blog last January (my, how time flies!) I’ve written several pieces that have included encouragement for would-be writers. The urge to express oneself can be strong, and I’m a great supporter of those who wish to do so through the printed word. Hey, it’s often highly preferable to uncontrolled oration. Nevertheless, I’ve reluctantly come to the conclusion that some folks just shouldn’t seek to publish what they’ve written.

I don’t mean that folks are writing stuff that shouldn’t be aired. After all, dirty laundry, bigotry, stupidity and wacked out nonsense may all benefit from the sanitizing influence of the sun. No, what I’m referring to here is simply very bad writing. Even worse than your standard it was a dark and stormy night sort of drivel. Oh, I have no objection to writing this sort of stuff. Nor would I actually legislate against its publication. I just think people who cannot recognize how bad their writing is should be cautioned by those who know better not to put it out for public consumption.

Most years, I try to attend the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, a huge and wonderful event initially held on the campus of UCLA but, in more recent times, held at cross town rival USC. The event includes displays by established mainstream publishing houses as well as a plethora of smaller publishers of independent (read: self-published) works, the “indies”.

I’ve taken advantage of indie publishing for my two books out of necessity. I learned many years ago of the “Catch-22” ensnaring new writers without industry connections: you can’t get an agent if you haven’t been published, and you can’t be published (by a mainstream publisher) if you don’t have an agent. This reality forced me into the indie universe, where I’ve paid handsomely to have my literary offspring delivered.

My first book, Spacebraid and Other Tales of a Dystopian Universe, was published by Xlibris, an indie outfit that would publish anything for a price. My second book, Zendoscopy, was published by Inkwater Press, a company that is more selective about what it will take on, but still charges substantially for publication.

When Inkwater agreed to publish Zendoscopy, I knew from feedback that they’d read the book and liked it. How did I know? Because I got specific feedback from them about it. In the case of Xlibris and Spacebraid, however, I simply paid and it got published. No feedback. No advice. No real support of any kind. It’s companies like Xlibris that allow incompetent writers to get themselves into print.

So, back to the L.A. Times Festival of Books. At this year’s event, I stopped at one indie booth where an author was doing a promotional giveaway of a limited number of his latest (second) book, a science fiction thriller. Being a sci-fi fan and, for obvious reasons, identifying with an indie author, I gratefully accepted his offer of a hardback copy. It had a striking jacket with a blurb that made it sound pretty cool. Moreover, the author’s bio on the jacket’s back flap suggested that the author was an experienced writer in the entertainment industry. The book was nicely bound and the paper quality seemed good. All in all, I thought it might be a satisfying read: good story, nice package. I’d never heard of the publisher, but there are so many of them that this really didn’t matter to me. Besides, as I said, the book was free. When I got home, I put the book on a shelf and forgot about it until last week, when I noticed it sitting there and decided to give it a go.

A book has to be really terrible for me not to finish it. In the case of this particular work, I couldn’t make it past the second chapter. To say that the writing was bad would severely understate the matter. Both in terms of style and grammar, the book was (is) a disaster.

Beginning with the first paragraph, I immediately came upon an apostrophe error. Worse, the entire paragraph read like a bad Hemingway parody. Reading on, I found sentence after sentence stuffed with an overabundance of similes and adjectives. There were overboard descriptions of people revealing far too much too early. At first I wondered, how could this dreck ever have made it into print? Then, quickly, I knew: the author’s ego, no honest feedback before submitting it to the publisher, and a publisher that would accept anything for a fee. The almost inevitable result was a total embarrassment that never should have made it off the hard drive.

So, what’s the lesson, here? I think it’s that everyone who wants to write should write, but not everything that gets written is worthy of publication. Before spending a thousand or more (and it will almost certainly be more) dollars with an indie publisher, plus marketing costs, one really needs to have his/her work proofread, edited and critiqued. Serious readers are not going to want to pay good money only to find bad writing and grammatical errors, no matter how enticing the plot.

Finally, you’ll note that I haven’t identified the author, title, or publisher of the book I used in my example. Nor have I quoted any of the awful stuff I encountered in the first chapter and a half. Why? Because I have nothing against the writer and no desire to embarrass him. Besides, there’s not much chance of anyone other than family and few friends buying the book. I suspect that his giveaway copies are just about the only ones that have made it into circulation, and that few more ever will. It’s a shame really. I know he worked hard to write it, and I’m sure he had great hopes of massive sales. It’s just that someone should have been honest with him before the book ever saw the light of day. That someone should have told him that needed both a good editor and, even more, the services of a good English teacher.

Marketing for the Self-Published Author

The point of this piece is not that self-publishing is a vain and fruitless endeavor. Well, okay, maybe a little (?) vain, but not necessarily fruitless. It’s just that I’ve learned over time how difficult it can be to remain optimistic about sales of one’s opus magnum.

To wit: my two books. Spacebraid and Other Tales of a Dystopian Universe was originally published in 2004. A collection of science fiction and fantasy stories, it seemed to me at the time to have pretty good prospects for respectable if not spectacular sales. In fact, I was greatly encouraged when my son-in-law got on a cross country flight and noted that the person seated next to him was reading the book. In spite of this bit of anecdotal evidence and a couple of nice reviews, sales have languished. We’ll get to why in a moment.

My second book, Zendoscopy, was published earlier this year. Sales have been better than with Spacebraid, but still not enough to be considered much of a showing. More puzzling is that feedback on the book has been excellent, including a very nice Kirkus review and the book being a monthly selection for at least one book club.

So, what gives?

The answer, in a word, is probably “marketing”. If I’ve learned anything since Spacebraid was published, it’s that writing and publishing the book account for only half of the job. The other, and by far more expensive, half is marketing. And those of us who self publish find marketing the real stumbling block to significant sales.

There exists a wide variety of marketing possibilities open to the self-published writer: book giveaways (e.g., on Goodreads), book signings, consignment placement in bookstores, book festivals, paid ads, blogs such as this one, YouTube videos, and more. Nearly all either are expensive or, even if not, simply don’t seem to reach a large enough audience unless one is willing to invest a not so small fortune to get the word out.

Let’s look at a couple of the options: book signings and consignment placement. My first attempt to get a book signing was with an independent bookstore in a shopping center minutes from my home. This particular store was in financial trouble and word had it that they might have to close. I spoke with the store’s manager and offered to do a signing in which I’d bring in a supply of books and sell them in turnkey manner for them, donating 40% of what I took in to the store. Despite my offer, which would have cost the store nothing, the manager insisted on 60%. I walked.

My second experience with a signing was much more successful and satisfying. Another local store was holding a signing event open to a limited number of local authors. I applied early enough to make the list. To prepare for the event, I had a couple of self-supporting posters made from jpeg files of my book covers and spread the word via this blog, Facebook, and by direct contact with friends and acquaintances. At the signing, I sold several books and came away reasonably happy.

At about the same time as the second signing, a friend who belongs to a book club read Zendoscopy and liked it enough to make it a monthly selection for her book club. She invited me to appear at the club for a “meet the author” event which went well, and I sold several copies of the book as well as a couple of copies of Spacebraid.

Since then, sales of both books have hit the skids. Neither the publisher of Spacebraid, nor that of Zendoscopy, has done any promotion of the book, although for some hefty fees, they would assist me but not do any marketing on their own. Based upon my early experiences with the publisher of Spacebraid, my impression is that any efforts by publishing houses for self-published authors are of marginal, if any, benefit, and much of what they will do for a price can be done by the author, alone.

These experiences have given me some perspective on how to go about self-publishing one’s writing. If/when my third book is ready to market, I will likely forego the use of a publisher and go directly to e-book format, where self-published works seem to have the best chance for significant sales. It will also make it much easier for me to manage pricing, as I won’t have to go through the publisher every time I want to do a giveaway or price promotion.

The other thing I’ve concluded is that shorter pieces submitted for publication may be beneficial in getting one’s name “out there”. This past summer, I had an essay published in the literary publication of Alpha Omega Alpha, the medical honor society. The piece elicited a remarkable number of responses from people who will shortly receive a distribution e-mail from me mentioning my two books. This may or may not produce sales but, as they say, nothing ventured…

For many of us who self-publish, we are not doing it with the expectation of making a living at it but because we simply love writing. This means that we’re under less pressure than otherwise might be the case. In my particular situation, I can afford to promote my books in careful steps, evaluating the costs and benefits as I go rather than marketing in shotgun and very expensive fashion. In the meantime, I can work on shorter pieces for magazine submission or later inclusion in a short story collection. Will there be a sequel to Zendoscopy? Time will tell…

A Dilemma

For those who’ve wondered why my postings have been spotty over the past few weeks, I can now say that it’s because my wife and I were traveling in Japan and China. Although I’ve never suffered from jet lag with prior trips, including several to Europe and one to New Zealand, the return trip from Hong Kong last Friday really left me feeling dysphoric and exhausted.

I had planned to do some writing during the trip, but our itinerary was heavily scheduled, and I had no energy to do anything but climb into bed at night. Ergo, no writing of any consequence. I did manage to get two brief blog entries written, but due to unreliable internet connections in China, one wasn’t posted until just after getting home.

As we are now well into the fall season with summer travel over (we were on the road for most of July, too), I am gearing up for a renewed marketing push for Zendoscopy. In addition, I’m kicking around several ideas for my next book and, in the process, confronting a bit of a dilemma.

The problem isn’t writer’s block. Rather, it’s indecision. My first book, Spacebraid and Other Tales of a Dystopian Universe, was a collection of science fiction, horror, and fantasy stories. Zendoscopy is written as a series of connected stories rooted in the realities of growing up in the 1950’s, ’60’s, and ’70’s. The dilemma, then, is that of which path to follow for book 3. I very much enjoy writing in both genres, but to maximize my chances of name recognition and sales success, I need to pursue one or the other type of writing. There are very few Stephen Kings in the world, writers who are able to cross genres with great success. Making my decision more difficult is the simple fact that, although sales of my books have been modest, the feedback and reviews for each have been good.

As I wallow in indecision, I’ve written the opening of a sequel to Zendoscopy as well as a few short sci-fi/horror/fantasy pieces. I don’t know how this will ultimately resolve, but readers of this blog will be the first to find out — right after I do.

This week’s annoyance: None! I’m just glad to be home.

On Writing “Just for Fun”

On Writing “Just for Fun”

I was talking just the other day with a fellow who, upon hearing that I write, happily told me that he writes, too. “Great,” I said. “Where are you selling? Amazon.com? Amazon Kindle? Nook?”

“Oh, no. I do it just for fun.”

So, I asked him what he had written, and/or was writing. His answer? Six documentary books and working on his first novel. Yikes!!! Six books, all unpublished? Who does he think he is? J.D Salinger?

Maybe it’s just my own bias, but I can’t imagine writing six books of any kind and not publishing. Ever. Anything. Long before I published Spacebraid and Other Tales of a Dystopian Universe, I had tested the waters with articles for magazines, letters to the editors of newspapers, and lots of articles for organization newsletters. OK, I certainly received my share of rejection notices, some from the finest of publications, but I kept writing and submitting, eventually building up a nice portfolio of published work and, in the process, polishing my writing style. Was I, then, a great writer when I published Spacebraid…? Sadly, no, but I’m still proud of it and of the mostly positive reviews and feedback I received when it first appeared. And when I published Zendoscopy? A realy good review from Kirkus and lots of positive feedback, as well as better early sales.

There is, to be sure, both effort and expense associated with self-publication, but there is also great satisfaction that comes with seeing one’s hard work born into real life on the page, whether as hard copy or electronic text.

Six unpublished books? Jeez, guy! Get your work proofread and edited and get it into print. What are you waiting for?