Tag Archives: first book

New Promotion

So, I’m sure this has been done before by somebody somewhere, but, frankly, I don’t think I’ve ever encountered it before, so I’m going to call this my idea.

I’m working on a new promotional project that I like to call “Passalong Books”!  I’m very excited.  Basically I bought a bunch of copies of my first book, Awfully Appetizing.  On the inside if the front cover I’m writing out instructions that go more or less like this:

“Hello Reader!  You’ve just received a ‘Passalong Book;’ the rules are simple, as soon as you get it, write your name, and the city and state you are in on the top available line below.  Then, read a chapter.  If you like what you’ve read, keep going! If not, no harm done.  Whenever you’ve finished, pass the book to somebody you think might enjoy it!”

Fingers crossed, the books will get passed around a bit.  I figure that if the average passalong book gets handed off and read ten times before it finds a final resting place, I should get a conservative two or three people who otherwise would never have read the book who are interested in the sequel.

Perhaps that’s just me being optimistic.  I don’t know, but to be frank, it’s one of the few ideas that I’ve had that seems both plausible and reasonable to me.  So many promotional techniques just feel awful.  Either like I’m lying, or like I’m forcing myself down other people’s throats.  I figure, if somebody doesn’t like my book after the first chapter, making them read anymore is just a waste.  The problem is, people don’t generally feel like they can read the first chapter without buying the book… or rather, I often feel that way.

Anyhow, that’s my plan!  I’m excited, and I’m sending out my first round of Passalong books tomorrow!  I’ve got one going to California, two going to Texas, one going to Colorado, and one going to Washington.  I’m hoping that in round two, which may take me a month or two to arrange, I’ll be able to hit five or six other states.  Fingers crossed!

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Patience

I’ve probably said this before, and I’ll almost certainly say it again, but I think that the real difference between a successful artist and an unsuccessful artist is patience.

That isn’t to say that there are not people in the world who cannot succeed at a particular art no matter how hard they try.  God knows, I couldn’t be a successful singer if I spent five hours a day every day for the rest of my life practicing.  In the simplest of terms, my voice is NOT made for singing.  The only person who has ever argued that point with me is my mother, and as you might imagine, she might not be the best judge of these things.

But I’ve met a lot of writers in my life.  I’ve met them in writing groups, I’ve met them at conferences, I’ve bumped into them on planes and in parks.  And I think that the best indicator of the level of success they will achieve is not their natural talent, but their commitment.  It is a rare thing for an author to have any level of success early on in their career.  There are exceptions, certainly, but most authors go through quite a few failures before they reach success, and I think that for most of us it’s just a question of patience.

First we have to be patient while we become good enough writers.  Then we have to be patient as we search for an agent or publisher who shares our style and writing preferences.  Then we have to be patient while our work floats through the world., looking for our audience.  Each stage is long and grueling, and at a certain point we might have to move past patience into bullheadedness. God knows, that’s where I live now.  I refuse to give up.  I know that somewhere out there is a niche that will fit me perfectly  I just have to be patient.

And try not to lose my mind.

The Sophomore Slump

Have you ever noticed that amazing first books are often followed up by mediocre second books?  I mean, not always, but often enough to be worth noting.  For example, I consider Fool Moon, the second book in the Dresden Files, to be the low point of the series.  In that particular case, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t good. The book was still better than half the crap I’ve read, but still, of the sixteen or so books in the series, number two is the one I am least enthralled by.

Patrick Rothfuss’s debut, The Name of the Wind, got widespread praise, and rightfully so.  His second book, however, was generally considered to be a bit of a letdown.

I think I’ve sorted out why.

My first book, Awfully Appetizing, is the work of years.  Not to say that I spent every waking hour working on it.  Not even close, sometimes I went weeks without touching it.  But the thing is, I never had to work on it, so if I wasn’t feeling inspired, if I hadn’t sorted out whatever problem had made me stop working on it before, I simply left it alone, letting everything percolate in my head for a bit longer.

But my second book is supposed to be sent in by September.  There’s a time limit on it.  I’m on the clock.  If I don’t feel like working on it today?  Tough luck.  The work needs to be done.

Now, fortunately for me, I have a publisher who has indicated that she is open to pushing back my due dates a bit.  Fingers crossed that’ll hold true, but however understanding she is, I don’t think she wants to push release days back years, so the shift is still there.  I spent years working on book one, polishing it, sanding the rough edges, looking at it in different lights… compared to that, book two is going to be a rush job.

Rated! Judged!

So, my book got its first rating by somebody I cannot immediately identify.  Of course, we’re online, There’s really no way to be certain that it isn’t a friend or family member, but nothing about the amazon review makes me think it’s somebody I know.  So for the time being, I’m assuming that a stranger bought my book, read my book, and reviewed my book.

And they gave it four stars!

Sure, five stars would’ve been better, but they wrote a review and were pretty complimentary.  I’m stoked!

I’ve said it before, reviews aren’t really the business of the writer.  If I had the discipline I’d ignore them and just continue working on my own crap, but who am I kidding?  First book?  I’ll be watching amazon and goodreads like a hawk watching a rat-hole.  the second something pops up… POW!  I’m all over that.

Man that’s a bad idea… oh well, watcha gonna do?

Four stars!  Somebody read my book and enjoyed it!  BOOM!

First one star review I get I’ll be on here bitching and crying….

When you’re an artist, your art is sort of like your child.  You spend so long trying to turn it into something perfect, and then you send it out into the world and just hope it doesn’t end up in a ditch somewhere.  Or starting world war three.

Rate me! Judge me! AHHHHH!

So… my book has been out for a couple of days now.  Not too terribly long, but a little while.  Three days, basically.  It’s available for kindle on Amazon, and hopefully will be available in print before too terribly long, fingers crossed.  And it’s up on goodreads now, which is nice.  Unfortunately the only rating it has, which is on goodreads, is the one I gave it.  I keep on reminding myself, it takes most people a couple of days to get through a book.  Maybe even a week.

But the knot in my stomach refuses to listen to reason.  He’s curled himself into a ball so tight that I’m surprised any food is making it to my lower intestines.

It’s hard, twiddling your thumbs while you wait for strangers to judge you.  You know that it’s coming, and you fear it, but you need it, too.

Because if they judge me that means that they see me, and the only thing worse than being judged is being invisible.

I remember that feeling from high school.

Strange, isn’t it?  How high school scars us all.  It’s been a decade and a half since I went to high school, and I still have nightmares that take place in it.

I keep on expecting the day to come that I shift from childhood dreams to ‘adult’ dreams, whatever that means.  But I found out recently that my father, who’s in his sixties now, still has those same nightmares.  late to a class you haven’t been going to all year.  Test coming up.  All that jazz.

The Reviews Conundrum

I have long held that writers should not read reviews of their books.  What it comes down to is that reviews are not written for the author.  A review is simply a conversation between one person who has read a book, and someone else who is thinking about reading it.  As such, a review is not meant to contain information that is useful to the writer.  Where a good critique, which is intended for the writer, will note both positive and negative elements within a book, a review is essentially an argument for or against reading the work, and will mostly contain information designed to support the initial argument.

A critique, generally, will be specific in its points, identifying, not simply where the story fails to work, but why it fails to work, and what can be done to make it work.  A review doesn’t have these elements because there’s no reason for it to do so.  When an author reads a critique they will hopefully emerge on the other side with an idea of how to better themselves.  When an author reads a review, they will emerge on the other side either thinking more highly of themselves, or pissed off at the person who wrote it.

It is a no-win situation.

But authors, especially new authors and authors who have not achieved the level of success that they want, will inevitably read their reviews.  Because reviews are one of the best indicators of a books future success.  Did you just get twenty praise-filled reviews in a row?  Well, chances are those people are telling their friends.  Did you get a dozen one star reviews?  Good luck getting someone who stumbles across your amazon page to randomly purchase that.

So our eyes are locked on it.  We are fully invested in that next review.  that next comment.  that next X-star….

Every once in a while, one of my writer friends will post a story about a writer who replies to a bad review.  Inevitably, things go poorly.  No matter how bad a review is, how much we think that they just didn’t understand, writers have to learn to keep their thoughts to themselves.  The truth is, we’re listening in on somebody else’s conversation.  They aren’t talking to us, so bursting in and screaming at them is unacceptable.  After all, if they bought a copy of the book, then they’re entitled to share their opinion of it.

Sorry, just had all of this running through my mind while I wait for Awfully Appetizing to get its first review.  I have to remind myself that I may not like what they have to say.

Then again, maybe I will.

Either way, the truth is, I shouldn’t read it.

But I will anyway.

It’s (a)live!!!

My book is out!

Well, sort of.  My book is available in e-format.  Very exciting!  And terrifying.

Now all I can do is sit and twiddle my thumbs and pray that somebody reads it.  And likes it.  And tells their million friends that it’s awesome so they’ll all buy copies too.

Of course, most of my friends are old school, they want the book in paper, and I’m not sure how long it will be before it’s available.  Eh, whatcha gonna do?

I’ll tell you what I’m going to do:  I’m going to sit in a chair twitching and trying not to think about my book, sitting out there, unnoticed…. Oh god, what if nobody reads it?  what if nobody likes it?

I need a valium.

Incremental Progress

So, my website is now, technically up.  www.ldfitz.com.  If you’re reading this the same day as I post it, don’t bother actually visiting the site just yet.  What is there is essentially a placeholder.  The real content, such as it is, will be up in a couple of days.

My friend, who knows a billion times more than I do about computers, is frustrated with me for using godaddy to host my site.  To be fair, I know about as much about website hosting as I do about heart surgery.  I’m sure there are options and I’m sure that some of the options are better than others, but the only way I’m going to find the right answer is if I trip over it.

Anyhow, he had to do some finagling to get just that much up.  And believe me, I appreciate it, because if my history with websites is any indicator, what I would put up would likely cause seizures, and possibly result in a third world war, somehow.

But the situation with my website is a lot like my situation with my manuscript in so much as it is vitally important to me, and yet I have no real power over it.  I am sitting here, practically shivering with anxiety and anticipation, and there is nothing that I can do to make things go faster or slower, better or worse.  I’m just waiting for the next thing that will have a massive effect on my life to happen of its own accord.

Well, that’s life for you, I guess.