Friday, May 18, 2012

"I'm Suspending My Campaign"

Hi, kids. I haven't posted much here lately since launching Tainted Souls as an e-book and starting my new eponymous author blog, and because The Big Litowski was all about my search for an agent, then a publisher, it really serves no purpose at the moment. Plus, I've got nothing to say.

So, until I go looking for an agent again, I am joining the ranks of Bachmann, Perry, Santorum, Gingrich and Paul and "suspending" my campaign, a.k.a. AgentQuest (tm). If you're still crazy enough to be intested in what I've got to say, please check out the new blog, look for me on The Twitters or Face the Book.

Thanks for your friendship and camraderie over the years. It was a wild ride while it lasted.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Why I Hate Facebook

Now, I resisted Facebook for a long time. This is just part of my personality. If everybody starts doing something, I want to do the opposite. If everybody starts wearing bell-bottom jeans again, I’ll start buying boot-cuts. If sailing becomes the rage, I’ll buy a powerboat.

I haven’t always been like this. When I was younger, I desperately wanted to be popular, even as I put up a public face of indifference. I’m a lot older now and for the most part, my I-don’t-give-a-damn attitude is genuine.

But everyone agrees if you publish a book, you gotta have a website and do all that social media stuff, so when I decided to throw Tainted Souls out there into Kindlespace, I caved and hooked up with FB.

I find it surprisingly hard to navigate. Oh, it’s easy enough to check your news feed and see what weird stories your friends have shared with you. But just flipping around between my profile and the other parts seems inordinately strange, plus it’s hard to delete some stuff if you make a mistake, plus…well, in sum, it just seems to me in general more difficult to use and more limited than the product of a megamegabillion-dollar company ought to be.

I should probably note here that I basically hate all these internet companies that have lavished riches on others – principally because it’s others upon whom all the riches have been lavished. I hate Microsoft – enemy of the people – for many reasons, but among them is the fact that the pre-IPO Microsoft once turned me down for an editing job, claiming I was “overqualified” for the position. (This HR philosophy may explain why Internet Explorer, now in its ninth frakking version for heaven’s sake, continues to crash all the time.) I could be sitting on a beach sipping daiquiris.

But I digress. I’ve been trying to set up a separate FB page for a Tainted Souls  “tour” I’m planning and have found the whole process decidedly aggravating. I don’t get this whole timeline format and it seems stupid to employ it for a product. To see how the page looks to everyone else, I’ve gotta log on as a fake user. Plus I can’t move stuff around. Blogger is, by comparison, user-friendly. (Is that still a word?) The whole thing has been a nightmare.

All I’m trying to do is figure out a way to let people know there actually is a book called Tainted Souls available, but I’m a slave to Zuckerberg’s monstrosity. And inept at the task.

Once again, just as in high school, I’m not one of the cool kids.

(Simulcast at my new website.)

Monday, March 19, 2012

I Am Not an Idiot

Having lost the pretentiousness of my youth, and having had so many fits and starts as a writer over the years, I had begun to wonder if I were simply being delusional to think I had any talent as a writer of fiction. So receiving another nice review, this one from Myrica at Goodreads, in which she avers that Tainted Souls is "Intelligent and   entertaining detective fiction, well-plotted with a great array of characters," really makes my day.

No, I am not delusional. I am not an idiot. I can write. And write well. Complete strangers are saying so. It would be nice if more complete strangers were to buy the book -- perhaps it's still delusional of me to think that I might some day make some money at this trade, even a modest amount -- but just knowing that I managed to craft something that is "intelligent and entertaining" gives me a warm feeling.

And no, I don't mean that I spilled soup on myself.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Better Than James Joyce

The very nice "Josh T" gave TAINTED SOULS a rating of 4 or 5 stars over at Goodreads, depending on how you look at it. Anyhoo, looking at his other (many) reviews, I noticed he liked my book more than A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Now, I would never compare myself to James Joyce, but...'nuff said.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Me, a Guest Blogger? You've Got to Be Kidding!

I'm honored to be guest-blogging today at Misha Gericke's My First Book blog. (As Steven J. Wangsness. This whole thing of having two identities is getting complicated.) Check out her blog if you're interested in my opinion on whether we write books or they write themselves.

By the way, have you told everyone you know to buy my book TAINTED SOULS? Everyone? I thought so. Get off your duff, Missy (or Bud, depending) and flog my opus. (That sounds dirty, but it's not.) The groceries aren't going to buy themselves, you know.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Good Reviews or Hot Sales -- Which Is Better?

Another very nice review at Amazon gives Tainted Souls five stars, lauding it as "definitely worth the read." The reader said the book reminded him of "the old detective movies," which is a great compliment in my book (pun unintended, but I'll take it).

Of course, it would be nice if more people were buying the book, too, not that I have any illusions on that score.  Still, it's frustrating trying to figure out how to just make readers aware of the book's existence. I'm sure I'm not the only one in this boat; it's a challenge for writers whose books are traditionally published, too, so you can imagine how much more difficult the task is for the self-published. On the other hand, looking to the future, I suppose I'd rather have great reviews and low sales than modest sales and crappy reviews. As delicate as my bank account is, I think my ego is even more fragile. (Of course, probably like most, I'd happily accept a boatload of bad reviews for bestsellerdom; who wouldn't?)

What about you? Would you rather sell a couple thousand copies of a book that gets so-so reviews or a few hundred copies of a book that garners lots of praise?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Agony of the First Chapter

new review at Smashwords by Reviews of Unusual Size gives TAINTED SOULS an overall rating of four stars out of five, calling it "genuinely engaging" and a "quick, fun read" while miffing that the first chapter is "over-written" with too many "$20 words."

Those of you who followed my earlier rantings here (this is being simulposted at my new blog) already know that the first chapter and I have a bit of a history, particularly in reference to the first five pages, which agents and editors so often view as the key to a book's desirability. If the first five pages don't rocket you right into the story, the theory supposedly goes, no one's going to buy your book.

Anyone read The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo? You may have heard of it. I read it. I liked it. But I'd say that book doesn't actually start going anywhere until about page 200.

Of course, we all have different opinions of what it means to draw you into a book quickly. I've had plenty of readers, including a few agents, say TAINTED SOULS captured them from the get-go (even if, for one reason or another, the agents passed on the manuscript). On the other hand, I once re-wrote the first chapter (with an emphasis on the first several pages) at the specific request of one agent, who said the intro left her cold (she was left unmoved by the revision, too).

One thing I think might be interesting is to write the first chapter last. By that time, you'll have a much better understanding of your characters, a more established voice and sense of the overall gestalt of what you're trying to accomplish. This assumes, of course, that you're trying to do just a little more than tell a story, that you might like to give it a little finesse.

Though you should try to avoid too many of those $20 words.

What do you think?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Da Book's on Nook

You can now get TAINTED SOULS for the Nook directly from Barnes & Noble instead of having to go through Smashwords. For some reason, the B&N site didn't get the cover image, or at any rate it's currently "unavailable." Hopefully that will be resolved soon.

This whole e-publishing thing is a conundrum. For one thing, a lot of e-readers (I mean the humans, not their machines) seem to want free copies. Give your book away free for awhile to gin up the numbers, then put a price on it -- that seems to be a popular model. One wonders where that leaves the future of publishing. Will readers of dead-tree books start expecting free copies, too?

Friday, February 10, 2012

"Tainted Souls" Tops Amazon List

TAINTED SOULS is now number 25,000 on Amazon's list of bestsellers!

So suck on that, Dan Brown.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Chain Mail Epic Fail

I didn't really expect, of course, that my plan would work. The plan being that everyone to whom I sent an email announcing the epubbing of TAINTED SOULS would forward it to their buds, who would forward it to their buds, and so on, pretty soon touching base with all seven billion souls on the planet, or at least that portion of them with an Internet connection.

Given the, uhm, modest sales of the book so far, this has been an epic fail, "as the kids would say." (Either that or a huge portion of those seven billion has rejected the book, a prospect too dismal to contemplate.)  Still, one could dream.

So, on to Plan B. Gotta get readers in the know. They can't buy the book if they don't know it's there.

I'd love to come up with a video that would go viral. My only idea, however, is a vid of my kids rapping, "Buy my dad's book or he'll kill our puppy." My kids insist this would be a bad idea, the old adage that "There's no such thing as bad publicity" notwithstanding.

I can't afford to spend any money trying to juice this thing. Heck, these days I can't afford the electricity that's powering this laptop I'm writing with.

So. Ideas anyone?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Five-Star Reviews for Trav's Novel

Whew. The first two folks to review my novel TAINTED SOULS for Amazon both gave it five stars. Yay! There's always the chance when you put something out there you'll get a curmudgeonly cur who'll hate your stuff. So I'm both grateful and relieved. Now if we could just get more copies to fly off the "shelf"....

You can read the reviews here iff'n you want.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Trav Publishes Novel as eBook!

Go here to see it for Kindle, or to Smashwords for other devices. Don't know what will happen to the BL, but I started a new blog under my own name. So...find me here.

Thanks to all for hanging in with me for the past two and a half years.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Why eBooks Suck

That's a pretty odd headline for someone about to publish his novel as an ebook, admittedly, but here's my beef.

I love the look of books; design has been part and parcel of books since their beginnings. All those monks illustrating their manuscripts by candlelight. But ebooks are woefully limited in that regard. Format them for Kindle or through Smashwords as I have done, and you give up all sorts of things: page numbers, choice of font, limits on type size, no left-flush (Kindle) -- the list goes on.  The way a book looks should be part of its allure.

Plus the formats are imperfect. Kindle, for example, doesn't seem to be able to justify everything correctly.

But I suppose that I should be grateful that epublishing allows an avenue for writers like me, as well as providing a far less expensive option for readers.

I just don't understand why every damn device has to have its own operating system, with all the limitations that implies.

Once again, harrumph.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

More eBook Madness

Formatting for Kindle is doable; to format for Nook, you need to understand some computer gobbledygook, or so it appears to me. The Nook formatting guidelines are indecipherable. So I see the value of Smashwords more and will let them do it all, save for Kindle.

Why the world doesn't work on one single operating system -- call it SOS! -- is beyond me.

Doing the cover yourself is sort of fun, but in my case, there are limitations. I downloaded a free PhotoShop-like application, but not the instructions (too long, don't care to read) so can't do that much with it. Still, I used it for a swell lighting effect.  Here's what the cover looks like (title/name obscured for now; you'll just have to wait):

Saturday, January 7, 2012

E-Books and My Discontents

So I'm formatting my book for publication on Kindle, Nook, etc., and among the things I discover (not having a Kindle or a Nook) is that you can't control the font in which it appears, and basically you have to publish it in fecking NY Times Roman, which is pretty much taking over the world. I wanted to go with Garamond. Plus there's no page numbers, no headers and footers and stuff . . . why, it takes book design back a thousand years.


UPDATE: Also, formatting for Kindle means you put it first in HTML, which fecks up small caps and a lot of other little things, which in my case required re-doing the first line of each chapter, which'd been in all small caps . . . and other stuff. Sheesh.  I will do this for Kindle and Nook and then leave the rest to Smashwords and their "metagrinder technology" (like sausage, I guess you don't want to watch e-books being formatted).