Posts Tagged ‘Books’

It was a short trip. One that could only be taken while the kids were in school. They were sometimes fun suckers—the kids, not the man and woman in the white car driving along 176 through the small town of Whitmire—and would have complained from the beginning of the trip until the end of it. Husband—or Dad, to the kids—didn’t do well with the complaining and whining, and often had a hard time letting things go when the fun was ruined by running mouths and attitudes. Wife—or Mom, to the kids—had the travel bug since coming home from over seas seven months earlier. The day trips kept her sane, but didn’t do much for ridding her of her traveling shoes.

He knew she took several short trips on her days off, while they were in school and he was at work. it was something she needed, and something he wouldn’t hold her back from doing. There was a serenity to it that always seemed to center her and put her at peace.

Today it was him and her, her and him. She drove along 176, leaving Whitmire behind and coming up on Union County. Not much further down the road was the town of Union. Here is where they made their grand discovery, after a few turns they came across what they gathered was downtown. It looked as if it could have come off of a sixties postcard, with the buildings along each block appearing to all be connected.

“I think they like jewelry here,” he said as she drove slowly down what they thought was the main street of town.

“Why do you say that?”

“I’ve seen four jewelry stores in two blocks.”

“Maybe.”

That was her form of an eye roll. It was the equivalent of an ‘interesting,’ from most others who really didn’t find these types of things interesting.

Then it happened. He glanced away from the road and saw the sign in the shop window. It read Friends of the Library in green hand written letters on a piece of cardboard.

“Bookstore!” he all but yelled.

“Where?”

“Right back there.” He tried turning in his seat, but it was already out of sight and they had passed through an intersection.

“Are you sure?”

“I’m positive. It’s a bookstore.”

17039263_10212341562718915_2909203469636739807_oOne of the common bonds of she and he was their love for books. She read more than he did, but he enjoyed a good book just as much. It was something neither of their kids cared much about.

For him, it was escaping into someone else’s world for a while and letting the imagination run with the written words that drew him to books. He thought she was much the same in that respect.

She pulled the car over after passing through another intersection, and parked along the curb. They got out, she putting her purse around her neck and shoulders, and began the walk up the steadily inclining road. They passed a jewelry store on their left, and right across the street three stores down, was another one. He pointed them both out to her as they went. They crossed the street at one intersection then another, passing a bank (which was probably the most modern building in the town) and another jewelry store. As quickly as they had passed the bookstore a minute earlier, they arrived at it.

The sign did say Friends of the Library in an almost looping script, but it also said Book Store. Beside the signs were three pieces of white copy paper taped to the window. They read: Hardbacks = 1.00, Soft Backs = .50, Children’s Books = .50, in the same green looping script as the name of the store.

They looked at each other. “Book store,” he said just outside the opened door.

“But are they open?” she asked.

When he looked inside, he saw why she asked. There were no lights on. The store was cast in gray. But there were people inside. He poked his head in. There was an older woman standing ten feet away. She wore a blue top and pants and her hair was white and cut short. She held several hardback books in her hands.

“Are you open?” Wife asked.

“Oh yes. Come on in.”

They did.

The store was long and wide. The floor was concrete and in need of a good sweeping, and probably a good mopping as well. And, just as he thought while standing outside, there weren’t just no lights on, there were no lights at all. The ceiling was a standard drop style, but there were no light fixtures anywhere to be seen. In spots there were pails and even a blue kiddie pool, all of which had a little bit of water in them. When he looked at the ceiling above them, there were brown spots on the tiles.

Those tiles are going to collapse one day, he thought.

None of that really mattered at that moment. What did were the dozen or so tables to the left and right of the entrance, all of which held boxes of books. Each box had a letter on it, written in black marker and in the same script as the signs on the window. Beyond the tables were thirty or forty folded chairs, each holding more boxes on them, all marked with letters. Some of the chairs even held two or three boxes, one on top of the other. Beyond those were still more boxes on the floor and two doorways, one to the left and one to the right, that led even further back into the building.

“The boxes are alphabetical by author,” Mrs. White Hair said.

“Thank you,” Husband replied.

“Hey, there is a box of Stephen King books over here.” This was Wife. She pointed down beside one of the tables.

He walked over, bent down and started pulling books from the box. Though they weren’t all Stephen King, a handful of them were. He plucked out three. Sure, he had them already, but these covers looked like first prints. Whether they were or not didn’t matter—he would purchase them.

“The hardbacks are a dollar, “ Mrs. White Hair said from over his shoulder. “The soft backs are fifty cent.”

He gave her a courteous nod and a ‘thank you,’ and turned back to the books. In his hand were the two hardbacks and one ‘soft back.’ He smiled at the thought. It wasn’t a paperback, but a soft back. He had seen it on one of the signs on the dusty window before walking in, but it didn’t register with him until he heard the term spoken.

Husband went from the box of ‘King’ books and made his way along the tables around him. Most of the books were older—nothing within the last five or six years—and they were mostly in good shape. He made his way from the tables to the first row of chairs. There were some Harry Potter books on one chair. Kellerman was a little further down. There were a couple of Lee Child’s Jake Reacher series, but he had both of those books. There were no Barkers or Campbells but there were a few Straubs. Still, nothing he had to have and nothing he hadn’t read. He came across three chairs that had Pattersons. He passed them up without giving it much thought—not really his cup of tea.

“There’s another room in the back,” another woman said. She was short and thin and looked frail. Her skin was almost tanned and her wrinkles were deep valleys on her face. Her fingers were together in the form of a teepee.

“Another room?” he repeated.

“Yes,” she responded. Her voice was soft and sweet and she smiled a grandmotherly smile. “Back there.”

She pointed to the back right corner where a door stood open. Unlike the room they were in, there was a light coming from it and shining through the doorway, cutting an extended rectangle into the darker portion of the open floor plan of the main room.

Husband and Wife exchanged looks. She smiled. He did, as well, but maybe not as wide as she did. There was a second or two when he looked back at the light and the elongated rectangle of yellow cut into the dark of that corner where the room was, and he thought of any number of horror movies he had seen.

‘Come, little children, come into my house of candy.’

He could almost see a witch at the doorway, one finger beckoning to them.

‘Come, crawl into my oven, little children.’

There was no witch beckoning. Wife was.

“Do you want to take a look back there?”

“Sure,” Husband said.

“Go ahead and have a look,” the short, thin woman said with a smile.

Again, that witch appeared in his mind and he wondered if they were walking into a trap. He glanced back at the open front door of the Friends of the Library book store. Part of him hoped it wouldn’t be the last time he saw daylight.

Wife walked into the room, clearly with no trepidation. He followed, with just a little. And there was no wicked witch and no oven and they didn’t get stuffed in bags and carried off for dinner one day.

“Ooo … Nora Roberts,” Wife said with excitement in her voice. She began going through the boxes on the floor and pulled out several paperbacks by Roberts.

Husband looked around the room. There were a couple of tables in there, as well as a handful of shelves. Many of the books in what he thought of as the Oven Room were older than the ones in the main room. Sitting on top of a tall stack of books in front of one of the bookshelves was one with a red cover and what looked like an obscure eye with a moon behind it.

Deathman, Do Not Follow Me?” Husband said. He picked it up and thumbed through its yellowed pages. The book was short—144 pages from front to back, title page included. He flipped it over and read the enlarged yellow font:

He heard the scream float up, up, up and the screeching of the anguished brakes … and he heard the silence. Then he saw the black limousine streak away and disappear …

“Find something you like?” Wife asked.

“I believe so,” Husband responded. “You?”

She held out two Nora Roberts books. “Oh yeah.”

They made their way out of the Oven Room and into the main room. They walked up to where Mrs. White Hair stood by a table.

“Did you find a few books?” she asked.

“Yes,” Wife responded and handed her the Norah Roberts books. Husband handed over the three Kings and Deathman, Do Not Follow Me. On the table was a book titled, Vampyres. “Is this one for sale, too?”

Mrs. White Hair looked at it. “Absolutely.”

“Awesome, I’ll take it.”

They paid for the books—just under nine dollars for all of them, most of which were hardbacks, not soft backs—and left the Friends of the Library to the tune of “Come again.”

“We will,” Wife said. Husband had no doubt they would be back.

“I love book stores,” he said as they walked away, the books in a bag in one hand, her hand in the other.

AJB

 

13106731_10209260504770741_700376366_o-2.jpgSometimes I get so busy doing other things and writing other things that I often forget that I need to focus on things that are happening right now or have already happened. Like my newest book, Dredging Up Memories.

Let’s talk about this book for a second. Dredging Up Memories is the story of Hank Walker and his downward spiral into depression during the zombie apocalypse.

Zombie apocalypse? Seriously?

Yes, seriously. Before you go and judge a book by its zombies, let me put a few fears to rest:

  • The zombie apocalypse thing has been done to death! Yes, it has, but this isn’t the typical zombie story. The dead don’t play the biggest role in this book. A stuffed animal does.
  • There is no hope in zombie stories. Well, you might be right there, but how do you know if you don’t read the book?
  • Zombie stories are all about zombies rending people from limb to limb. Yes, most are, but not Dredging Up Memories.
  • There is nothing new you can do with the overdone genre. I disagree. I believe Dredging Up Memories is original. Again, the main theme is Hank Walker’s descent into depression, not the gnashing of teeth.
  • Brains. Okay, I have to bark at this for a second. Have you ever seen a zombie in any movie actually try to get to a person’s brain? No. You see them tearing into their stomachs and faces and arms and legs and necks, but you never see them actually going for brains. Besides, how would they get to it?

Here’s the thing about Dredging Up Memories: it’s human. It’s real. It has a certain mood to it that is not like other zombie stories. It doesn’t focus solely on the swarming dead and their insatiable hunger for flesh.

It is, in my opinion, a breath of fresh air from all of the action only, blood and gore zombie stories that are all pretty much the same with the exception of location and character names. It is different.

If you don’t mind I would love to share a couple of reviews with you.

The first one:

Honestly, I don’t like reading zombie books.  This book however, was SO much more than your typical “zombies attack” story. This book was about the main character, Hank Walker, and his journey to survive.  It’s not just about a bunch of zombies eating people. This story is well written, with just the right amount of detail.  The story has emotions, in the characters and emotions that you yourself will feel.  I also like that there are actual towns mentioned in the book that are familiar to residents of South Carolina.  It’s easy to feel like you are there, in the town with Hank.  For me, Dredging Up Memories was a book that once I started reading, I didn’t want to stop.  I just had to know what was going to happen next.  For me, I despise reading a book all the way through just to finish with a terrible ending.  I know books don’t always have the ending that we want, but it still needs to finish well.  This book I’m happy to say has a complete ending.  I won’t spoil it for you and say it was happy or sad, just complete and well finished, and I’m happy with that.  I like that this story can be a stand alone book, but I’m excited that A.J. is planning to continue Hank Walkers journey.  I definitely look forward to reading more works by the incredible author A.J. Brown.

The second one:

This book is an immersive experience. There is plenty of action, but it really puts you into the mind of a survivor. It goes heavily into the headspace and emotions of navigating a world decimated by monsters.

Those are just two of the reviews that have been written for Dredging Up Memories.

The World Smelled CleanHere is something else: Humphrey.

Who is Humphrey? Well, he is a teddy bear dressed in a bunny pajama outfit. Yes, he is a stuffed toy, but he plays a huge part in this story. How can you not want to find out how a stuffed bear becomes a central figure in a zombie apocalypse story?

So, are you interested in reading it yet? I hope so. I believe you will not be disappointed.

Come on. You know you want it. Go get Dredging Up Memories here.

And until we meet again my friends, be kind to one another.

A is for Accessible

Posted: April 29, 2016 by ajbrown in Writing
Tags: , , , ,

After doing the post, L is for Lazy, I realized that there are so many more topics I could do with this particular format. I had already figured out at least four others I wanted to tackle. Sitting back and thinking on it, I came to the conclusion that I should have started at the beginning of the alphabet and worked my way down. I didn’t. Oh well. Live and learn, right?

Today I would like the letter A to bring you today’s topic. In other words: A is for Accessible. Let’s look at this for a couple of minutes.

Accessible is defined as easily reached, easily understood, easily, approachable, susceptible, easy for the physically challenged to use and observable from another world. I don’t know where that last one came from, but it’s in there. What we are going to focus on is the approachable aspect of accessible. Sticking with the definitions here, approachable is defined as not aloof and not difficult to talk to or meet with.

One of the easier parts of writing is talking about your work to folks who want to know about it. If you are too shy or too afraid to talk about your work, then this may not be the business for you, because if you start to get somewhere with your writing, folks are going to want to talk about, not just your work, but you as well. They are going to want to get to know you, the person, as well as you, the writer.

It’s inevitable and it can be a good thing…or a bad one.

I love when someone ask me a question about one of my stories or about the writing process or even about me as it pertains to my work. I enjoy telling them about myself and where a story came from. Years ago I couldn’t do that. I thought it was bragging, and that was something I was raised not to do. I have since come to realize it isn’t bragging if you can back it up. Most folks who brag about themselves can’t back it up. When it comes to writing, I am finally at that point where I feel I can finally put my money where my mouth is.

Though I have come to be able to talk about myself, my work and where I am at with it, it wasn’t until last year at the Cayce Festival of the Arts that I became acutely aware that what I say and what I do greatly affects me, the writer, the person, the brand. And yes, you are a brand, like it or not.

What I realized is if I don’t learn how to talk about myself, and do so with confidence, then very few people are going to buy my work. But it’s not just talking about me. It’s cultivating a relationship with the readers. It’s being on social media and interacting with them. It’s shaking hands and smiling for pictures at events. It’s signing books or pamphlets or bookmarks or even a shirt someone is wearing. It is caring about them, and no, that doesn’t mean caring to gain something. It is genuinely caring about your readers. Because here is the thing: if you don’t care, they will know. And if you are fake, they will know that, too. You have to be real, not real fake.

I want people to read my work. I want people to know who I am and to say, ‘hey, that guy is a great writer, and he is so cool, too.’ I want my readers to understand that I am just like them. The only difference is I write some pretty cool words and form them into stories.

If you’re a writer and you don’t talk about yourself or your work, then you aren’t going to go very far. You have to put in the work to get anything out of it. That means making yourself accessible to readers–also known as fans–and giving them a reason to want your work. What sets you apart? Why should I care? Why should I buy something from you? Give me a reason to support you with my money and my time and my word of mouth. The only way to do that is to be accessible.

Are you on social media? Get to know the people on your friends list or the folks that you follow. Do you have a blog? Give the readers something to look forward to. Give them a free short story or a teaser to an upcoming book. Do you have a website? Change the content of it as frequently as you can, no less than once a week. Do things for the readers. It’s hard, but with a bit of work and dedication and honesty, you will find that more readers will seek you out and more folks will want to know you, and hopefully that turns into sales.

On the same token, if you are a jerk or if you respond negatively to a bad review or comment made about you or your work, then that news will spread like wildfire and those same readers you wanted will vanish in a hurry. It is a difficult line to toe because we are human and we have feelings and when someone says something negative about us or our work, then we get defensive. We get mad. We get rude. And then we say or do something that kills our brand. Think I’m kidding? I’ve seen it happen over and over. And it’s not pretty.

Being accessible doesn’t mean letting folks take over all of your time or tell you how to do what you do best. Being accessible is about being able to relate to readers and connecting with them. It’s letting them see a small part of you, the part that helps them make up their mind if they like you or not, and in return will take a chance on your work.

If you are a writer, being accessible is part of the business—a necessary part. With social media being the engine that drives the car, it is easier to be accessible now than ever before. What are you waiting for?

Until we meet again my friends, be kind to one another.

 

 

 

This blog is brought to you by the letter L. Rebel LDoes that take you back? If you know the reference then you, sir or ma’am, might be awesome.

Sesame Street was one of my favorite shows when I was growing up. That and The Price Is Right could keep me entertained all morning. If you have seen the show, then you know that many of the skits on it had to do with that letter (or whatever the number of the day was). In this case we’ll make the number of the day 1. Why, because this is the first blog in a series.

Let me go ahead and apologize right now. Some folks might get upset with some of what I am going to say. If so, well…yeah, it is what it is. Here is something that is a truth about writers: we don’t tend to speak our minds completely when writing our blogs or tweeting or Facebooking. Some of us don’t want to offend readers or other writers, and others of us just don’t care who we offend and sitting in front of a monitor or mobile device makes it easy to be who we are not. Then there are those that have that happy medium, in which they can speak the truth in a manner so eloquent that even if it is offensive it doesn’t come across that way. This is a hard place to get to. Those are the ones who can balance out being real and honest, yet not offend people. Unfortunately, I am not one of them.

So, let’s get to this.

L is for Lazy. There. It’s out there. Lazy is defined (as an adjective) as unwilling to work or use energy.

Lazy is often used for someone who just won’t do anything, even if it will benefit that person. Here is another truth: a lot of writers fall into this category. I did not say all, and I did not say a majority of writers. I said a lot of writers fall into this category. If you aren’t one of them, then none of this applies to you. However, if you are one of them, maybe you should listen up.

First, let me clarify something. I am not a well-known writer. I have my fans and I have my roadies and I have folks who may or may not like my work. They may be few (or they may be many, I don’t know), but they are loyal. Since I am not a King or a Koontz or a Patterson you may not want to listen to me. You may not think that what I have to say matters since I am not of the ranks of the masters. If that is the case, just go ahead and click the X in the upper right hand corner. I’ll wait.

Now that everyone is done clicking the X, I hope there are some of you still out there willing to hear me out.

So, you are a writer. Great. So, you have a computer hard drive full of stories. Great. So, you want people to read them. Great. Where are you getting the readers from? The reading pool is dwindling, so where are you getting them? More importantly, how are you getting them?

For the sake of argument, let’s say you get a book published by a publisher. In order to get to that stage, you’ve done a little bit of work already. You’ve written a story. Hopefully, you cleaned it up. You researched the market for a publisher. You submitted it. Then you waited (and that is hard to do). Your story got accepted (Yay You!). Edits were done. I hope you approved or disapproved (some, if warranted) them. Then you approved the cover art, right?

Screeeeek

Stop. Before the book was published did you promote it at all? Did your publisher promote it? Did you tell your friends and family? Did you contact the local newspaper and see if they would do a piece on it? Did you post it on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and Pinterest and…and…and…all of the other social media platforms you could find? Did you try things like Thunderclap? Did you have an online book release party? Did you generate buzz for the book?

You didn’t? Okay. Well, that’s unfortunate, but hey, you can still salvage your sells.

Your book has been published now. How are you promoting it? One post on social media a week? Well, that’s a start. What about blogging? What about a website? What about Facebook groups and author take overs? What about trying to get on podcasts or have interviews done on local radio shows? How about trying the local paper again? What about the library? Many libraries like local authors. How about book conventions or festivals?

Have you done any of these? If not, you’re killing your book, your publisher and your career.

‘But it’s the publisher’s job.’

Well…yes and no. Yes, the publisher should promote and market your book. That is part of how they do business. They should have a marketing plan that goes beyond Facebook. They should also work with you, the author, on this marketing plan so that it fits both parties’ needs. So, yes, it is the publisher’s job.

It is your job as well. Here is why: it is your book and your book will only be as successful as you make it. First you have to write a good book, have it edited (not by yourself), and get it published. But then the work really begins. Promoting your own work is vital to the success of your book, and in turn, you. If you want to leave it up to the publisher to do all of the marketing, go right ahead. Unless your publisher has some big bucks there is a good chance the publisher can only reach so many.

This is where you come in. This is where you cannot be lazy. You have social media. Use it. Don’t spam people, but use social media to post pictures of the cover, links so people can purchase the book, write blogs, not just for you, but for other writers’ blogs. If you just do one thing a day it will help get your name out there and get the book out there.

You think I’m nuts, don’t you? Well, look at it this way: say you want a job, so you go out and you put in an application at one place and then you wait for that one place to call you and say, ‘hey, you’ve got the job.’ Unless your resume is phenomenal and you are great in that field, chances are you’re going to be waiting around for a long while. You either don’t really want a job or you are very confident in yourself. Most of the time it’s the former of the two.

In order to get a job, you’re not just going to put in one application. You’ll put in several and then you will follow up with the jobs that you applied to. Eventually the people at a place of employment is going to say, ‘hey, this person keeps contacting us, maybe they really do want a job.’ By constantly saying, ‘her I am,’ the employers eventually notice you. If you don’t do that, most of them don’t notice you.

If you don’t market your own books, how do you expect readers to find you? If you don’t say, ‘here I am’ how do you expect people to know you have written a book?

Look at it this way: The readers are your employers. You wanCookie monster Lt to get a job with them as their author of choice. You have to put in the application (that would be the story, and getting it published is the resume). Then you have to let them know you are seriously interested in the job. This requires you to do something besides write. This requires you to not sit on the sidelines while the publisher does all of the marketing. Because here are two truths: 1: Some publishers do not market their writers. It’s counterproductive, but it happens more than we think. 2: If the publisher has ten books out, then that publisher is marketing and promoting ten books. If you do the simple math that would be ten percent of their marketing time and promotions goes to your book. If you market your own work, one hundred percent of your time and promotions can go to your book.

But wait, there is more. Don’t just market your work. Get to know the authors under the publisher’s umbrella. Talk to them. Then, once you know each other, promote their work as well. In return, hopefully, they will promote your work. This not only helps you, but it helps other authors and the publisher. The more you, as the author, promote your own work (and others) the better chance you have of getting further along in this business.

But…but…but…that’s a lot of work!

Well, yeah. And this is where L is for Lazy comes into play. You see, so many writers complain about why they aren’t doing well, why their books aren’t selling. What are the other folks doing that I am not? You know, things like that. If you rely solely on the publisher to market you, then you are not doing your share of the work. The publisher can only do so much. You, the writer, have to take control of your work. If you want it to go somewhere you have to grab the bull by the horns and make it go the way you want it to. That isn’t going to happen without saying, ‘hey, here I am. Come read my work.’

This is not a business for lazy folks. It’s a business for hard working people. The lazy need not apply. If you are lazy and you have the mindset of ‘I’m the author, let the publisher and everyone else promote me,’ then please, stop. You’re just hurting yourself and no one really wants to hear the complaining when things don’t go your way.

One more truth before I go: Do you like when someone waste your time? Do you like when you feel like you could have done something better with the time you lost because of someone else? It’s somewhat infuriating, isn’t it? Well, if someone believes in you enough to publish your book and market it, and you do nothing, then you are wasting their time. You are wasting their efforts. And no one likes their time and efforts to be wasted. No one. Not me. Not you. Not the publisher. Not the readers.

I, personally, do not like lazy people. It’s probably my biggest pet peeve. I can’t stomach it. At all. Part of that is because the lazy folks I know tend to blame everyone else for nothing going right for them, when all they had to do was help themselves and use a little bit of energy and things would have gone in a different way.

L is for Lazy. I beg you, if you are of the mindset that you are a writer and not a marketer, please, for your own sake, change that. If you don’t, you will find yourself wondering, ‘why is no one buying my book?’ And you might even blame someone else for this. It’s like being blind to something important—you just won’t see the truth.

I hope some of you stuck around until the end. And if so, I will say what I always say: until we meet again my friends, be kind to one another.

 

 

 

Book Pricing and Value

Posted: January 9, 2015 by ajbrown in Writing
Tags: , , , ,

Good day Faithful Readers. I would like to take a moment or two to address something that, as a writer, is important to me. Pricing of books. Uh oh. Did I just get a collective groan and roll of the eyes? Hold on. Hold on. Stick with me for a few minutes. The reason I want to talk about book pricing is because it is a hot button for a lot of readers, writers and publishers. The other reason is because of a video I watched back in December of an author who wanted to respond to what I took as a mean-spirited e-mail directed at her. Her response held all of the true emotions I think anyone would go through after reading such an e-mail. However, she doesn’t show any anger, an emotion I thought would have been justified.

The e-mail was a direct result of the Person in Question (PIQ from here on out) having to spend $4.99 on an e-book. Personally, I don’t think that is high, not for a novel and certainly not for one that the PIQ said was quite possibly the best thing that author had ever written. There are two things I really want to touch on about this particular subject based on the video response of the author.

The first is based on a statement in the e-mail:

…While the books are beautifully written, I don’t get why you have to charge so much for your books. It doesn’t take that much to write a book these days or publish it. Everyone is doing it…

I completely disagree with this statement, especially the ‘it doesn’t take much to write a book these days’ portion. And here is why: there is one component to writing a book that every author must have in order to do so. That is time. Without time there is no book. Without taking that time and placing your butt in a chair for hours on end there is no book. Without taking that time and researching the subject matter there is no book. Without taking that time and figuring out which direction to go with the storyline or which characters you really want to develop there is no story. Without taking that time to find an editor and a cover artist and beta readers and proofreaders and then doing all the edits there is no book. Without taking that time to format the book, preview it, reformat it, preview it again, the book is shoddy at best. Without taking that time and doing all the marketing and promotional work people don’t know about the book.

Here’s the thing about time: you never get it back. You never get the time invested into the book back. You never get the time away from your family and friends back. You never get the hours and hours back. I’m a firm believer in time is the greatest asset a person has, and for writers, they just don’t seem to ever have enough of it. There is no hourly wage for writers when it comes to the amount of time they spend writing, editing, and promoting books.

The other thing about that particular statement I disagree with is it doesn’t take a lot to write a book. For authors, it is not just about writing a book, but telling a story. For me, if I write a story and by the end of it, I think it sucks, well guess who never gets to read it: you, the readers. If it sucks, it sucks. That’s the bottom line. If I struggle to write a story, then I know you will struggle to read it, so it stays on my computer and never sees the light of day.

Good writers look at their work as an art form. For them, it is important that the story is pleasing to the mind. Just like a painter or a sculptor wants to wow people with visual beauty, and just like a musician wants the listeners to truly enjoy what they hear, good writers want their words to engage the readers, to be enjoyable to the readers, to be pleasing to the readers.

However, there are those out there who jot down a few words, create a cover and do no edits and throw them online for sale. They, well, they make things more difficult for the ones who put in real time and effort to bring you, the readers, an enjoyable experience. They must be the ones the PIQ refers to when she/he said, ‘everyone is doing it.’

This leads me to the second point, which is also something the PIQ said in his/her e-mail: the PIQ read the book, said it was great and then returned it because the PIQ didn’t feel he/she should have to pay $4.99 for an e-book. Let me see if I got this straight: The PIQ purchased the book. The PIQ read the book. The PIQ then returned the book after coming to the conclusion that the book was the best thing the author had ever written. It sounds to me like the PIQ quite possibly enjoyed the book.

Honestly, and maybe this is just me here, but this strikes me as very close to stealing. He/she read the book and then demanded his/her money back, not because the product wasn’t good, but because she/he felt it was overpriced. Yeah, I know there is such a thing as buyer’s remorse, but this isn’t the case. If the PIQ didn’t like the price of the book, maybe he/she shouldn’t have bought it. You’re not going to go to Barnes and Nobel or Books A Million, buy a book, read it and then take it back. You’re not going to go to a restaurant, order a meal, eat it and then refuse to pay for it, even though it was the best meal you’ve ever eaten. The PIQ essentially received the product for free by returning it.

How is that right? How is that even allowed?

You bought it. You read it. You enjoyed it. You keep it.

Dear Faithful Readers, I would never want you to be dissatisfied with one of my books, but is it fair to get the product, enjoy the product and then not pay for it? If you did that in the restaurant I mentioned above you would be arrested and carted off to jail. How in the world is this allowed?

This bothers me. It doesn’t anger me so much as it saddens me. The reader admittedly enjoyed the book. That’s what I keep going back to. If the PIQ enjoyed it, why would it not be worth the 4.99 price tag?

And another thing: writers don’t make that much money off a sale. So having the book returned, even though it was the best thing the author had ever written…that stings. And it’s wrong. There are no two sides of this coin. Sure, someone out there will play devil’s advocate and argue for the reader, but go back to what the PIQ said, and any argument that can be made would be invalid.

Writers don’t price books high, we price them low. The big publishers, they price books high. But us little guys and gals, we don’t. We price them low for two reasons: 1) We are mostly unknown and want readers to purchase our books and read them. (Though this is the case for many of us, and yes, we want readers, I will not give my books away for free. Free sales are not sales and many folks who get the books for free don’t read them, and even fewer leave reviews about them or tell folks about them.) And, 2) Writers understand the value of both money and time. We try to give you a good value for your hard earned dollar and we try to make sure we don’t waste your time by putting out garbage.

Sure, writing is easy. It’s as simple as putting one word after another. However, forming coherent sentences that make sense, and creating a story out of those coherent sentences is not as easy as some believe. Sure, anyone can write ‘See Spot Run,’ but telling us what Spot looks like, where he is running and why he is running is an entirely different thing…and much harder.

There is a component to everything people spend their money on. It is Value. What may be too high at 4.99 for some, isn’t high enough for others. For a writer, musician, painter, sculptor, singer and so on, we value our work much higher than what we sell it for. But we know, in order to get it into customers’ hands, we have to sell it low.

It’s all in how much you value something. I’m not a fan of porterhouse steaks, so guess what I won’t pay a lot of money for? I do, however, value a good book and will pay a little more for one of those than I would a porterhouse steak.

Let me put it another way: Do you like Starbucks coffee? Or any coffee that you buy from anywhere, for that matter? What does that generally run you? Four dollars? Five? Six? If you like that particular coffee, then there is a good chance you are going to buy it at somewhere between four and six or seven dollars. How long does it take to make that coffee? Two minutes? Four minutes? Let’s just say five minutes. How long does it take to drink that coffee? Ten minutes? Twenty Minutes? Let’s just say it takes forty minutes to drink a cup of coffee that took five minutes to make that you spent five bucks on.

How about a little perspective from a writer’s point of view? I began working on my novel, Cory’s Way, in 2008. It was released on Amazon in December of 2014 for the same amount of money ($4.99) as the young lady’s book who was told in an e-mail that someone returned her book because it was too expensive (even though she enjoyed it and thought it was the best work the writer had ever done, and that it was beautifully written, no less). What took me six years to put out cost the same price as a cup of coffee that takes five minutes to make and forty minutes to drink. A twelve ounce drink is worth $4.99, but an e-book is not? I guess it really is in how and what people value.

Let me say this last thing: If you buy a book and read it, please keep it. It’s only fair and it’s the right thing to do. As a writer, I work hard to offer you the best I can give you. Most of us do. Honestly, and again, this may be me, but when the PIQ returned the book because he/she thought it was too much, though enjoyable and the best thing that writer had ever written, he/she belittled the value of the book to the writer. Yes, I used the word belittled. Some may disagree, but that’s okay. This is how I feel. Let me tell you, the value of that book to that writer is so much more than $4.99, but the sting of having to give that little bit of money back after the book was read and loved…that just hurts…and it’s wrong. There are no two ways about this. It was wrong.

You bought it. You read it. You loved it. You keep it.

Thank you for coming by today, and I hope I didn’t bore you too much with this particular blog. Until we meet again, my friends, be kind to one another…

 

 

There is a value to everything. That value is different depending on whom you ask. It’s true. Let me give an example:

Kim Kardashian.

Okay, do you know what just happened? Half the people reading this just clicked the X button in the top right corner. Why? Because, like me, they are sick of hearing about Kim Kardashian (or any of the Kardashian’s for that matter).

The other half of you continue to read on for one of two reasons:

1. You like Kim Kardashian and you probably think this is about her.
2. You like my blog and you want to see where I’ll take this.

If you are those reading because of reason number one, go ahead and click the X button in the top right corner—this is not about Kim Kardashian.

So, here is how I judge the value in this case:

1. For the folks who went right ahead and clicked the X button, closing out the screen this blog is on, there is NO value in Kim Kardashian. For that, I am thankful, even though it probably cost me a few readers.
2. For the folks who read on because they thought this blog was about that Kim woman, and THEN clicked off when I told them it was not about her, this blog post had a value of around 50% interest.
3. For those of you still reading, welcome to the 75% value club. It’s nice to have you. Why only 75%? You haven’t made it to the end, yet.

Okay, so that value system is pretty much subjective, but the point is everything has different values based on different people. I like strawberry Kool-aid. I’m not a drinker of alcohol. Strawberry Kool-aid has more value to me than any type of alcohol. Again, subjective, but you get the point.

Let’s take a second here and look at the value of items or services. Someone who is a mechanic probably doesn’t value another mechanic’s service as much as someone who can do little more than crank a car up and put gas in it. The people who can’t work on a car would probably pay more for the service than someone who knows what they are doing.

If you don’t need an attorney, then there is no value in that service, whereas someone who just robbed a bank and got caught would probably think an attorney could be good money spent.

That’s still pretty subjective, though.

Let me take it in a different direction.

If you are one of my Faithful Readers, then you know that I would like to sell some of my books. If you have been awake at all and have Facebook and have any writers on your friends list, then there is a chance you’ve heard about Amazon’s letter to KDP authors involving the dispute Amazon has with Hachette. I’m not going to go into details, but it’s pretty much a ‘Mom, he’s touching me,’ type of thing. Name calling at its finest. They wish to drag the KDP writers into the argument, but most of us find this to be annoying, if not unprofessional, and honestly, a bunch of folks are pissed about it. Rightfully so.

The thing is, for all the great things Amazon has done for the ebook world, it pretty much frowns upon the same group of people who helped build its empire—the self-publishing (or independent) author. But that’s really for another blog post at another time. The point is this, though Amazon makes it easy to publish works to the Kindle platform, it also makes it difficult to get recognition within its own algorithms. Amazon essentially devalues the books for writers by not really making it all that easy to be noticed, while still taking in anywhere between 30-70% in royalties. However, right now they are acting as if we are valuable to them by asking us to do their bidding and help fight their battle with Hachette.

I’ve gone way off the topic here, but somehow I have managed to actually stay on it, somewhat.

Okay, let’s get back to real value.

People are willing to pay good money for books by the likes Stephen King, James Patterson, J.K. Rowling, Suzanne Collins and a few other well-known writers. For those folks, they get more value for their buck by purchasing proven authors. I can’t blame them. Many of those same people would not buy a book by an unproven author at the same price as one of the proven ones. Why would they?

This is where value comes in to play.

It’s like buying a steak dinner from a fast food joint when you know Longhorns or Outback is much better. Unless you really like that fast food joint, you’re going to want that steak from a restaurant that is known for cooking them. When it comes right down to it, Stephen King and those other famous writers are the real steaks and the rest of us are the fast food rip-offs. At least, that is how a lot of folks (including Amazon) view it.

But wait, let me tell you about some of us fast food rip-offs. Yeah, there are those out there who write books and slap them up on Amazon or Nook or Smashwords without even looking over the manuscript before doing so. They just want to get that book out there and start making money. Yes, they do. Those are the real fast food rip-offs. They also make it tougher on the rest of us.

Then you have those writers (and small market presses) who take their time with the production of a book—and believe me, book publishing is a huge production. There are those who pour over each story for hours and hours, reading the manuscript over and over, tweaking sentences and structure and grammar and spelling. There are those who spend hours looking for the right cover art and often going through several covers to try and find the one that not only fits the story, but appeals to the readers—because as writers and publishers we are under the belief umbrella that a reader’s first impression, the cover, can make or break a sale. There are those who seek out beta readers and editors and proofreaders. They ask questions of friends and other writers, so often hoping for just a little bit of help. There are those who go to great lengths to make sure the formatting is right, often going over each page to make sure the fonts didn’t mysteriously change from Times New Roman to Curlz, or that the italics and bolds are in the right places. There are those that when all is said and done and the story is as right as it can possibly be, who let the mouse hover over the SUBMIT button because, quite honestly, they are scared of whether the story will be received well or torn apart by the masses, or even just by one person.

What is the value of that book for that person? Why should that person sell their book—their hard work—for $1.99? Why would they not sell their book for four or five bucks more? Because the value of their work, as they see it, is not the same as it is for those who might possibly read it? For those doing the work, they believe—no, they feel it in their bones—that their work should be treated just like the real steak houses. Those writers aren’t fast food rip-offs. They are the real deal. Readers just don’t know that, yet. Many of them don’t know the value of an independent writer’s work.

Before Nike became the brand name in shoes, it was nothing. Before Wal-Mart became the mega-bagillion store it is, it was just an idea. Before Amazon became the king of Internet shopping and ebooks, they were just a dream in someone’s basement. Before Stephen King or James Patterson or J.K. Rowling or Suzanne Collins became even remotely famous, they were nobodies, scratching at the surface of the publishing world, wanting that one shot to prove they were the real steaks and not the rip-offs. You see, everyone must start somewhere, and to everyone, their own value is the most important thing to them.

Everyone values things differently. I think that’s a given. In order for anyone to make it in any business, others must find value in them or what they are doing or both. These days I rarely buy books by big name authors. These days I rarely buy books from the Big 5 publishers. These days I like to purchase books from small presses and the little known authors out there. Why? Well, a few reasons:

1. The big name authors have become too pricey. They know their fans will buy whatever they put out, including their grocery list. And why wouldn’t they? They’ve earned their spot among the real steaks.
2. I like to find new authors, ones I’ve never heard of, and ones you’ve probably never heard of either.
3. I also like to support those new authors and small presses.
4. I’m one of those little known writers, and the hope for me is that someone will pick up something I’ve written—will, you know, take a chance on me—and like it enough to tell their friends, and then those friends will like it enough to tell their friends, and so on, and so on. It’s my hope.
5. I just might be that person that finds a new writer and tells all my friends about that person (you know, like reason number four).
6. I’ve always pulled for the underdog or the little guy, and those little known writers and presses fit the description.

Now, about that value thing. No, this isn’t a value meal at Taco Bell we’re talking about. This is finding things that are worth your hard earned money. If you are a reader, then that means you want good books. You want to buy books by writers you know and trust and who have proven that they can deliver the goods. Sometimes, they don’t quite succeed in getting those goods delivered. Sometimes the real steaks aren’t cooked all the way.

I encourage you to take a chance on writers you’ve never heard of. You don’t have to spend 10 0r 12 or 20 bucks on a book to do that. Most of their works aren’t all that expensive. Just take a chance on a writer you don’t know. You never know what value you will find in a book from that no name writer. You may just develop a new favorite.

If you have made it this far, I thank you. I also welcome you to the 100% value club. You didn’t click off until the end. I hope it was worth your time.

Until we meet again, my friends…

Fifteen years ago the affluent gated-community of Slander Hall was the setting of the largest mass suicide in U.S history, dozens of men and women committing the ultimate sacrifice and embracing the covenant of their leader to shed their bodies for a life in outer space. Now a modern ghost town, it boasts only the decaying and derelict phantoms of a withered populace. Cedar Jarrell, sole survivor of the holocaust that claimed so many, returns to the dark heart of Slander Hall on a final pilgrimage where not all who take the journey will survive…

What people are saying about Slander Hall

Dropping directly into the meat of the novella, Matthew Tait wastes no time bringing his readers completely up to speed within a few paragraphs… ‘Slander Hall’ has a cinematic feel to it; eagerly grasping the reader by the hand, it’s like watching an intense movie unfold.

Crafted like a cross between a classic ghost story and twist on Silent Hill, this haunting and well-written tale takes you to the edges of the madness in your own mind… Well-written and pacy, the story will haunt you for many days (or even weeks) after you read it.

… a great turn of phrase, a literary frolic and a grotesque elegance. Yes, despite the more artistic delivery in places, many splatter writers should sit up and take notice…

… stirs in some thoughtful social commentary on the subjects of suicide and doomsday cults, and serves up a tasty and satisfying dish….

About Matthew Tait

Matthew Tait was born in Australia in 1977. Like many writers he has held far too many jobs, including co-managing a video store. And although it seems a prerequisite for any writer, he’s played rhythm guitar in a few bands as well.

From 2005 until its closure in 2011, Matthew was an assistant editor for the award-winning Australian news and literary criticism zine, HORRORSCOPE. He currently writes for HELLNOTES.

The first story in his collection Ghosts In a Desert World was awarded a recommendation from the Australian Horror Writers Association.

Among his influences are Clive Barker, and the late, great Richard Laymon.

Tait’s new novel, Slander Hall, was published in January of 2012 by Dark Continents Publishing.

Excerpt From Slander Hall

Cedar felt cold. He had not expected developments this early in the game.

Sephera asked: ‘Are you people seeing this?’

Now fully within the glare of his torch, a humanoid figure walked implacably toward them. Then it stopped. It scrutinized the group through eyes that didn’t appear to be human, twin ovals that were slanted and black. It stood on skinny posterior legs that arched slightly, enough to give it a semblance of humanity. A bulbous head stood atop a naked torso and midriff with flesh the color of yellow cheese.

Time canted for the briefest of moments, as if the five of them were mere models encased in a paperweight scene and being shaken. The space between this creature and his little group could be no more than fifty meters, yet Cedar could feel from that meager distance a bubble of air as thick and palpable as fluid. Whatever this thing was, it had presence… a malignancy that started in its eyes and radiated through the tainted air.

He tried to speak, but found no speech forthcoming.

‘We should back away,’ Sephera whispered, saving him the trouble. ‘Something’s not right. Everybody move toward the right. That small lane that angles between the fence.’

Gordana let out a little whimper. ‘Something’s definitely not right. That thing isn’t even human.’

‘What is it?’ Philip said.

As if the creature had heard the question and felt the need to respond, it suddenly sprang into a lurching gait, fixing them with its huge eyes. Closing the already short distance, Cedar could see they were haunted – almost predatory. When it moved, its body made a writhing motion utterly out of proportion to its anatomy, and it was this more than anything that finally got them moving. With Cedar taking the lead, they began to back away by slow degrees toward the skinny lane. Philip was no longer transfixed; turning his back on the creature, he broke into a full-tilt run.

Want more?

Sure you do. You can pick up Slander Hall at Amazon: HERE

If you’d like to follow Matthew Tait, I’ve done the stalking for you:

Twitter: @MatthewStait
Blog: Different Masks
Facebook: Matthew Tate

Other Works

Ghosts In a Desert World

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In the interest of writing:

Flash Fiction Chronicles, a website dedicated to flash fiction (obvious, right?) puts out a daily dose of advice on writing and publishing. It is owned by Every Day Publishing who also owns Every Day Fiction and Every Day Poets. You can subscribe to all three of the publications through your e-mail and get those daily updates with articles, stories or poetry (all three if you subscribe to all three).

I’ve found many of the articles at Flash Fiction Chronicles to be informative and entertaining. Does that sound like a cheesy infomercial to you? Just picture me holding a Shamway in a Snuggie while saying that…

There are several regular contributors to FFC and often times they are witty in their articles–I would be lying if I said I haven’t chuckled a time or a hundred while reading. My favorite of these contributors is Aubrey Hirsch. I like the way she writes and her Dating Advice for Writers is a terrific piece relating writing/submitting into dating terms, which I am sure all of us can relate to in one way, shape or form.

Oh and there’s one other tidbit that I would like to share about Flash Fiction Chronicles: they are always on the lookout for articles related to the writing business, whether it’s on the craft of writing or publishing or marketing. If you would like to write an article for FFC, check out their guidelines HERE

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My friend, Deborah Walker, has a postcard sized story titled Grandma’s Cottage up at Postcard Shorts. Give it a read if you will and explore the site for other stories under 250 words in length.

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Also, check out Belinda Frisch’s blog page, Belinda Frisch, Writer with a Dark Side. It’s informative, with great links to other blogs, and entertaining–a great combination. While you are at it, check out her novel, Dead Spell. It’s there on your left with links to the various places you can purchase it. You’ll like Belinda and you’ll enjoy her writing. Go ahead, check her out–I mean, the book. Come on, men, get your heads out of the gutters.

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Beneath the Surface of Things by Kevin Wallis is one of the best single author collections you will find this year. Twenty-five stories that tingle the spine. I’ve yet to read a negative review on this collection. Kevin is a tremendous author who continually crafts terrific story after terrific story. There is something for almost everyone in this collection. Pick one up today–you won’t be sorry.

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Normally I like to say something witty or leave you with a lasting impression. Today, I have nothing witty to say. Sad, I know. So, I’ll leave you with this: It’s time to get my sanity on…